Foundations of the American Dream

De Tocqueville (1840/2000) famously wrote that every American is "devoured by the desire to rise" (p. 599).

Rise from poverty, rise from failure, rise from mediocrity.

I would debate whether or not every American is so devoured (especially while I'm staring at Utah's depressing poverty statistics and reflecting on our church's struggling activity rates), but I maintain that simply wanting success does not merit success. It is those who voraciously seek it who achieve it.


What the Swine Flu?

If you haven't heard, the MTC is a dirty breeding ground for communicable diseases. Close quarters, shared food, unsanitary 19-year-old boys- a bad recipe when the H1N1 virus rears its ugly swine head. Add in travel plans to hundreds of countries and it's a worldwide problem.

I showed up today to work to find out that Elder Partridge, a native Washingtonian who has had a cold for a little over a week has officially been diagnosed with the disease-which-shall-not-be-named. He's stuck in quarantine all week and all who have come in some contact with him are now on the watch list. They dished me out some Tamiflu to prevent any spread.



Window Seat View

I usually choose the aisle seat when possible - makes for less awkward multiple trips to the bathroom (thank you airline bankruptcy for scrimping on in-flight beverages, by the way. I'm not missing those extra few rounds to the VIP water closet up front.

When aisle isn't an option, I'll still usually opt for a middle seat, believe it or not - for the same reason (climbing over two people is way trickier than just one. It's worth being a bit more crowded if it means a bit more mobility [oxymoron?]. You can sneak past one sleeper, as long as their tray is clear, but two? Good night! Better to pass on the Ginger Ale and hold it til landing).

So I don't often make it to the window seat, even though I live for views of clouds and erosion lines. But the regional carriers for American Airlines offers the one-two layout where there are no middle seats and the lucky passenger assigned to seat A gets both a window AND an aisle (pure luck).

My seat was over the wing, so my view was still somewhat obstructed but what a view. I like being reminded that we are small and that our whole lives make up the tiniest fraction of the world, but our tiny lives still shape the landscape and patterns of our world make up the patterns of the whole world.

Jagged highways and winding lanes sliced through patches of trees or across mountains;

Suburban sprawl- with Walmart rooftops and well-planned cul-de-sacs;

Where are there bridges, which cities are hubs...

My favorite bird's eye views are farms, which seem to go on forever on the ground but have such obvious lines from above, especially out west. The flight from Cambodia leaving Siem Riep back to Bangkok showed me that even the most rural of farms (and I mean in the middle of Nowhere) clearly delineate property and crops, usually with precisely straight lines. The grids over the Great Plains are multi-colored. In the South they seem much more haphazard. These grids don't just decorate the land, they're proof of little lives.

These grids don't just decorate the land, they're proof of the little lives.

Travelling high down south

I love traveling. L-O-V-E it. Love new places, love new cultures, I love being forced to talk to strangers whose lives are such a flip flop of mine. I don't get excited about much, but I love the high I get the night before I go anywhere. Like in my mind I've got that scriptures from Mosiah 24 "Be of good comfort, for on the morrow, I will deliver you out of bondage" except bondage is the tedium of life and the deliverance is a trip ANYWHERE.

I accidentally left my phone on during my first flight so now it's almost out of batteries. When I saw the last bar flashing green (why green, anyway? Since when does green mean danger: loss of communication on its way?) I first congratulated myself for remembering to pack my charger, and brainstormed when I might charge it most efficiently. Then I had one of those aha! moments that seems desperate and pathetic for a minutes until the pure elation of unattached freedom sets in. I don't have to report to anyone! My green flashing last bar could go entirely blank the minute Kendall picks me up and it won't matter one bit. Ahhh... liberating, isn't it.


I love my sister!

Without her I WOULD GO INSANE. Or I at least would not know how to deal with my insanity.