Tuesday, August 25, 2009

365 1/4 days (aka 1 year) later...

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?” – Henry David Thoreau

On September 5, 1847 Henry David Thoreau spent his last night at Walden Pond. The following day, he left the simplicity and solitude behind and moved in with his dear friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Whether they were speaking specifically of one another or of friendship in general both quotes illustrate the depth of true friendship.

To say that I lived in solitude or simplicity prior to meeting Lindsay would be a disservice to the many other friends that I have been privileged to have throughout my life. But, on September 5, 2008 I embarked on what would be the epitome of the immortalized words of Thoreau and Emerson.

Another one of my favorite quotes that has become increasingly more meaningful as I have gotten older is the one below:

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some moves our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.”
- Anonymous

Lindsay, in addition to 'making the sky more beautiful to gaze upon,' 'moving my soul to dance,' 'awakening me to new understanding' and leaving 'indelible, elephant-sized footprints on my heart,' has also taught me that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

Mr. Charles Darcy, accounting for his falling in love with Elizabeth, said the following: 'I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or THE LOOK, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.'

In a similar fashion, I was in the middle of an amazing friendship before ‘I knew it had begun.’ Lindsay and I actually met a couple of weeks before September 5th, but it wasn’t until that Friday afternoon that I began to understand what a truly unique individual I had met.

So today, on the anniversary of our first date, I pay tribute to the ‘best of bests’. In an attempt to describe her in my own way and in my own words I will move away from quotes and other literary references and give you my words without 'arranging them in flowery bouquets' and just say them 'as they enter my mind of their own accord.' RAW!

Perhaps the best way to describe her is by sharing a little bit about our first date.

I remember the feelings of anxiety and anticipation before picking her up. I was nervous that we would run out of things to talk about, that she would think I was a ‘dork’, or that she wouldn’t have a good time. Less than five minutes into the date most of my fears had disappeared but, admittedly, I was still intimidated by her.

We showed up at UMFA for the Monet-Picasso exhibit. As we waited patiently in line for our turn to enter the exhibit we read a variety of quotes on the wall. I can’t for the life of me remember any of them but, to this day, she and I exchange random quotes (which is why it seemed so fitting to start this tribute to her with some of the quotes that she has shared with me). Lindsay has an affinity for good literature and is a talented writer herself. For proof you can visit her blog. www.lifeisbeautiful.blogspot.com

We moved from exhibit to exhibit looking at various paintings and listening to the narration that went along with some of the better known paintings. It is amazing how a story changes a painting and adds significance to it. The most touching of the exhibit was that of Monet’s ‘Red Kerchief’…it was meaningful then and perhaps even more so now. As we walked throughout the exhibit she reminded me of the need to ‘keep an open mind’ because that’s what artists do. Lindsay is an artist…it is evident in everything from her writing, to her graphic design…to her photography. www.lindsaykayphotography.blogspot.com (if you happen to visit one of her blogs, I have it on good authority that she likes comments).

Lindsay possesses a childlike curiosity and adventure for life which is both adorable and endearing. That curiosity may at times get her into trouble…at least with over-zealous security guards at an exhibit of priceless paintings. I’ve never seen an overweight, underpaid civil servant move so quickly. Who knew you were supposed to stay at least 6” away from the art?

I quickly realized that one of the things that I have admired most about Lindsay is her ability to love. She has a deep and abiding love for God, Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation, for her ENTIRE family, for life, for photography, for traveling, for cheesecake, for all things Italian, and the list goes on.

Knowing beforehand that she had a mild obsession with Italy, I took her to Cinnegrill in an attempt to impress her…it is a quaint little Italian eatery for dinner. We even ordered the cheesecake for dessert. Since I had picked her up so early in the afternoon, we finished eating by six o’clock or so. At that point I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to make her go through a marathon date and I didn’t want to take her home either.

We decided to visit a place that neither one of us had ever been, the International Peace Garden in Rose Park. If you’ve never been, you need to go. It is a park with a variety of countries represented by individual gardens. After taking random pictures at random places throughout the park we came to a rock near the center of the park. We climbed on top of it and sat talking about anything and everything. We spoke of our families, of our dreams, and of the purpose of life. The conversation was effortless. We began talking that night and haven’t stopped since. I was surprised by her ability to articulate her thoughts so well but, more than that, I was impressed at how mature and intelligent she was.

It ended up being a marathon date of sorts. From the time I picked her up until the time I dropped her off…we had spent over 9 hours together and they ‘seemed but a moment’. After visiting IPG we came back to my house, ate chocolate covered pretzels, played the piano, and talked some more. Finally, I took her home. I walked her to the doorstep, thanked her for spending time with me, and then she gave me an amazing hug.

In summation, Lindsay is an example and an inspiration not only to me but to all of those around her. She will brighten your day and light up your night with her unique sense of humor and her contagious smile. If you’ll let her, she will change your life for the better as she did mine. I will forever be grateful for the friend that she has been. She has helped me to grow and progress in ways that I never could have done alone. I am humbled by her innate goodness and amazed at her sincere interest in others. She is a genuine a person as you’re likely to fine. In the beginning I struggled to ‘break-the-ice’ with her but that ice has long since melted and formed rain-like puddles at my feet…I have been splashing in those puddles of friendship ever since.

Finally, I will end with her words and speak them as though they were my own: ‘Lindsay, you are a dear friend that has left a remarkable set of footprints on my heart. Footprints that the waves of time may beat upon again and again and never erase.’

I doubt if I will ever be able to thank you enough for your friendship but I will always strive to be the friend to you that you have been to me for the past year…cross my heart!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Demolition Derby

I can't remember the last time that I went to a Demolition Derby. It must have been years ago. I had forgotten how much fun they could be. Really though, I just like County Fairs in general. The demolition derby was just icing on the cake. We began the evening like any evening should begin at the County Fair...with a hot dog. I spilled ketchup all over my shirt but thanks to the wonders of Photoshop (the digital stain remover) you'd never know.

We watched one round of the derby and decided to explore the rest of the fair. We went to the animal portion where kids fed all of the caged animals. One of the best things that the fair has to offer is a variety of booths. One of the booths we came to had a man doing caricatures. I've always had a mild obsession with them...not sure why. The first time I ever had one done the artist looked at me and said, 'wow, you've got some big eyebrows'. It happened to be on a first date...he tried to recover for it by saying that it was a good thing because it made me look like 'Burt Reynolds'. To this day, the girl still calls me Burt.

This time was a little bit better I suppose. The artist turned to me and said, 'do you know who you look like?' I was not surprised when he responded with, 'John Cusack.' For whatever reason, there seems to be a general consensus that we look like each other. I'll take John Cusack over Burt Reynolds any day of the week...(no offense Burt).

It has been decided that Corina and I look like the same person in this caricature...

After the derby was over we hung around and took a couple of fun pictures. I had to have some proof that I was wearing one of my favorite outfits...bandanna and a cowboy hat.

Take off the cowboy hat and flip the bandanna around and you have the makings of the Rose Park Renegade.

The Many Faces...

It was a bit coincidental that the week after my post about the movie Seredipity that I should find myself in the newest addition to the Serendipity Family...Serendipity 3 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The food was a bit over-priced but then again, it is Las Vegas.

So, we got bored while we were waiting for dinner at Serendipity so I took full advantage of the opportunity to make faces for the camera.

The highlight had to be the frozen hot chocolate (also over-priced). It was large enough for all 7 of us to share which was no surprise after having a 24" chili cheese dog for the main course.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A couple of months ago I spoke with a friend about some of my fears. On that list was the fear that I would leave this world without ever telling those I cared most about how I truly felt about them.

It is in the spirit of facing that fear that I’m going to begin a series of random posts about the people that have had a profound and lasting impact on my life. Since there will be no rhyme or reason to the sequence of the posts I will likely write about these individuals the next time I share a meaningful experience with them.

Just a little over 4 years ago I got up to give a toast to Aaron Bell at his wedding. We’ve joked about it quite since then. The idea was to record all of the toast that were given. Oh how I wish that had been done. I gave what I thought was a nice toast. It was a little bit of humor mixed in with some serious sentiments about his friendship. Unfortunately, the only thing he can remember is me telling him that he was a bum/mooch.

Allow me to take this opportunity to set the record straight. I do not remember what I said that night verbatim because it was off-the-cuff but, I remember the point I was trying to get across. I spoke of the many things that Aaron had been called over the years that I had known him. When I first met him, everyone called him Taco (see last name). As I understand it, he hated that nickname. As time when by his nicknames changed. I later began referring to him simply as Bell.

Bell always had a knack for getting something for nothing. It was a bit of a talent. This is where the confusion about my words that night comes in. I said that he was so good at getting things from people that he could probably get a bum to give him the shirt off of his back. After I said that I got a little more serious and this is the part that people missed, I said, ‘of all of the things that Bell has been called or known for, the best thing that I have ever been able to call him is, friend.’

I mean it even more now than I did then. He has always been a true friend to me and the many others that he has. As is often the case, it’s the small things that have the greatest significance in any relationship.

I’ve actually been sitting at my computer for awhile now thinking about the last 10 years that I have had the privilege of knowing Aaron. We’ve shared a lot of fun experiences. If I were to compile a top 10 list of memories that I have of Aaron it would read something like this (in no particular order):

- Long weekends in Bear Lake with Chad Heitz out on the Mastercraft.
- Doing doughnuts in the parking lot of Acres
- Drinking full bottles of sparkling cider after long days at work
- Snowshoeing and sitting on the tailgate afterwards having sunflower seeds/Gatorade
- Vacations (‘surfing’ in San Diego / SIA Tradeshow in Las Vegas)
- Drinking some Yerba Mate with fresh limeade
- Being roommates for a couple of years (going to the Laundromat, climbing up on the roof, doing yard work, grilling steaks on the deck, etc.)
- Riding longboards up at the U…going down the steps at the Huntsman Center
- Making a fence out of railroad ties
- Many, many more….

While all of those experiences have left an impression on me, perhaps the greatest experience I had with him was this past weekend. Aaron became a father for the first time on Sunday morning (11:56 a.m….I think). I was on my way back from Las Vegas so I wasn’t able to see him until later that night. I showed up at the hospital around 6 o’clcok to find him in the room with his in-laws, his wonderful wife, and their beautiful new baby girl (Isla Sue).

Like most guys, I was hesitant to hold her at first because she was so small and so fragile. After a half-hour went by I finally decided to hold her. Aaron told me that the most important thing was to support her neck/head. I took her and held her in my arms for awhile before we got up to take her into the nursery to have her IV removed and to get a shot.

He placed her into the crib and with a heart full of fatherly pride he wheeled her across the hall. He invited me into the nursery with him and I followed closely behind. As the nurse carefully removed the blankets and took out her tiny little hand to remove the IV Isla began to cry. Aaron reached out and touched her gently and whispered quietly to her that everything would be okay.

Before the nurse could administer the shot she had to confirm that the consent forms had been signed. She sent one of the other nurses out to retrieve the chart. Aaron caressed Isla’s face while we waited for the nurse to return. Once she was ready to give the shot Aaron took Isla by the hand and again reassured her that everything was going to be okay.

As I sat there watching the whole thing take place, and for some time afterward, I had this thought come to my mind: ‘the same characteristics that had made Aaron such an amazing friend, were the same things that would make him an even better father.’ He has always taken a sincere interest in his friends and their well-being. He’s been loving and supportive. I believe that Aaron would do almost anything for any of his friends and I know that it is true for his wife and daughter.

Allow me to raise my glass, or my keyboard, in a toast to Aaron:

“Here’s to the amazing friend that you have been and to the amazing father that you will be. To the memories of the past and the experiences of the future. To late-nights and long-chats. To rolled-down windows during evening summer drives. To the lessons learned and the growth of friendship. To your great example and strong support. May you be blessed with the type of friendship that you have always extended and receive the best that this life has to offer! I toast to you Aaron! CHEERS!

Monday, August 3, 2009


I was driving down the road the other day talking to my little brother about preparing to go on a mission. I found myself starting sentences with: 'when I went on my mission'...

I'm getting old. Age is just a number, right? At least that's what I tell myself.

Here are a couple of examples of some of those sentences:

'When I was on my mission we still used film cameras and had to get the film developed...now they have digital cameras.' Isn't that crazy? It makes me appreciate the camera I have now that much more.


'When I was on my mission we had to hand-write all of our letters. It would usually take two weeks for the letter to get home and another two weeks to get a response. By the time the month had past any concerns from the original letter had already been resolved.'

While it would have been nice to have a nicer camera on my mission, I'm actually grateful that we still had to hand-write our letters. My family was nice enough to keep them all. To this day, the hand-written letters that I have received are among my most prized possessions. There is something about how personal they can be...they are more RAW and consequently more real. There is no delete key. Every word, every sentence has to be thought out before writing it.

I received one such letter on my birthday. In tiny blue ink in the lower left hand corner of the page is a quote from Henry David Thoreau:

"The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?"

I have been abundantLY blessed by friendship. Because of it, I am a different person...a better one. Perhaps the greatest measure of friendship is the size of the void that is left in its absence...like the depth of a footprint and its indelible impression (impossible to be removed). Here's to you, CHEERS!


I've been told on a number of occasions that I bare a resemblance to John Cusack. He happens to be one of my favorite actors...maybe I'm a little vain. He's been in from of my favorite movies. Some of them are a little more on the 'weird' side than others.

About 5-6 years ago I saw the movie Serendipity for the first time. Out of curiosity, I looked up the etymology of the word serendipity. I always assumed it to be coterminous with the words fate and destiny. It turns out it's has a separate meaning. Perhaps that is why it was chosen as the name of the film.

The basic idea is that when we are in search of something we discover something entirely different...accidental discoveries.

In the movie Jonathan Trager is already in a committed relationship as is the girl he meets, Sara Thomas. At the end of a wonderful evening together, Jonathan suggests that they exchange phone numbers...Sara instead decides to leave everything up to 'fate'. She explains that if they are meant to be together they will find their way back into one another's life.

Neither one of them was looking for love they 'accidentaly discovered' it.

What is the correlation between seredipity and destiny? Is there one at all.

I spoke at length tonight with a friend who had come across three 'coincidences' this weekend that made him question the reason for those coincidences. Since similar thoughts had been on my mind this weekend, I asked him what he thought of them. I asked him if he attributed those coincidences to fate or destiny. He said, 'I believe we make our own fate, and choose our own destiny.' That sounds like a contradiction. Isn't it something that is determined for us? If it is determined for us who is it that makes those things happen?

If it's not fate or destiny...does everything really happen for a reason? If it does, it would be important to us to find out what that reason is but how do we do it? I certainly have my own thoughts and opinions but I will reserve those for now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Clearing the air...

Here are some wonderful truths about me:

Sometimes, in moments of unoriginality, I use the words of other authors...but, often times I use their phrases in different contexts. For example, Tom Stoppards 'smell of smoke' is different than mine. He refers to the burning of bridges we've crossed, and I am speaking of the smoke coming from a red hot iron. Nothing depressing about that...

Along the lines of red hot irons, I often times find myself doing things to make sure that the brand of such irons remain.

I tell people that I had my tear ducts removed when I was young and that's why I don't cry. The truth is, I just pick weird times to cry. Like when the janitor runs out in front of the plane in The Terminal. I use the term cry lightly because it is usually confined to a few tears...but man does it feel good when it happens. What a release.

I also like to tell people that I have small feet because my mom used to wrap them up when I was younger so they wouldn't grow as quickly...that way she could save on the cost of buying shoes. Truth is...never happened.

For the most part, I don't think anyone makes better cookies than my mom. That's not to say that I don't like the cookies that other people make and, in some instance, some people can do it better than her. Luckily, she won't be reading this.

I hate the feel of fleece.

I was once told that I was 'emotionally detached'. The real truth is that I often times allow myself to get too attached but I don't consider it a bad thing. Some of the most meaningful friendships I've ever had have come from such attachments.

I used to have a yellow blanket with it white pieces of yarn.

I like my alone time but would gladly sacrifice it for some good conversation of just about anything...it's not the subject matter that is important but the person you're talking with that counts.

I used to have a variety of stuffed animals. I was the proud owner of a pound puppy, a cabbage patch kid, an penguin and a carebear. I had the blue bear with the storm cloud on it...that's either where my love of rainstorms came from, or my grumpy disposition.

Against my better judgment I find myself hoping for the long-shot...I always root for the underdog, the Dark Horse (James K. Polk), or the outcome that is least likely to happen. At least it keeps life interesting...even if it ends in disappointment.

There are things I would like to do but won't and should do but don't.

This list could probably go on forever...but I'll save it for the sequel.