I am my own pet peeve

I just came back from a briefing by Marianne Viray, who was an intelligent, vibrant BYU alum that did well as she spoke to us about the difficulties of the new campaign finance reforms the Supreme Court decided this past week. At one point she threw out a question asking which was better, transparency of donations or freedom of speech, and I charged forward saying, “I see this whole issue riddled with political cartoons waiting to be drawn. I see candidates wearing suits with giant Nike swooshes running for government in the future. Just like Apple with the Prop 8 discussion, they came out and openly supported gay marriages. So whether there is transparency or not, whomever has the most money will be pushing the candidates agendas into office.

Content, I sat back and realized my own incompetence. My response to her question was 1) completely obvious and 2) COMPLETELY unrelated to what she really asked! I neither answered about the first amendment nor transparency. I disrespected her, as the guest speaker and lecturer, and I showed my ineptitude at contributing to the discussion. It was an opinion yelled on a metaphorical megaphone with no regard towards what anyone else was attempting to say. All I ended up answering was that I didn’t care what she was talking about and instead entertained myself with hearing my own opinion and knowing others are hearing it, too. This simply proves that I am an unprofessional academic and an amateur student of learning.

I bring this up because it is a clear example of one of my greatest pet peeves. There is nothing more frustrating and disappointing than to have a thought-out question put forward, seeing a hand and anticipating a quality, distinct answer, only to find the student saying something in order to relish in their own knowledge that they have demonstrated to the rest of the class and/or the professor that they have contributed to the class; and have, quite often I add, a completely separate opinion or random fact inserted in their response that they think will win the class over to understand the level of their intelligence. We see in my example above, I wanted to shout out my opinion and also wanted to let everyone know I had thought about the topic. Then, at the end I added my weak connection to the original question by saying, “Whether there is transparency or not . . . ” Therefore, I conclude that I am an idiot. I fell into the same self-centered, agenda-pushing, myopic view that many other people constantly do in class and at church each week. I apologize for my ineptitude, and promise to try and become better. Because you had to suffer through my response I will give you a picture to somewhat make it all better:

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Reaching divine potential in D.C.

Ray's Hell Burger with friends

We’ve got:

  • THE WHITE HOUSE!! Yessir! In all it’s East Wing, 6 room self-guided tour glory! Who am I kidding, on just one wall there was enough money in paintings that I could retire! I really enjoyed it! Thanks Adrienne for hooking us all up!
  • Air and Space Museum! Made it back, and basked in the glory that is my dream job! I have never wanted to switch majors back to Mechanical Engineering more than as I checked out the Space and Beyond exhibit! (I really wanted (want) to be an astronaut my freshman year.)
  • National Archives! I got to see the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Magna Charta! Talk about history lesson in diplomacy! LOVED it!
  • As for food I made my way over to the very famous Georgetown Cupcakes! The epitome of the cupcake craze hitting the U.S. right now. Pretty darn good! I aint complainin’ ’bout the company neither!
  • Ray’s Hell Burger (get it?) is a burger joint in VA that has been visited by Pres. Obama and is just that good. I had the New Jack Zing burger, covered in cajun spices with peppers toppled onto it. It was the size of my face. This place is really low-key (gotta know the right people, see), it doesn’t have a website or store sign! So it’s another must-have for any legit DC citizen. Speaking of! I’m a local now. I’m just sayin’. I was walking home and a guy totally walked up to me and asked where the Virginia Hotel was. I felt so cool! . . . Of course I had no idea what to tell him, but at least I came off as someone who knew the area!

So it’s been another great week! Oh yeah, and my internship is going great! I had a shout out at our staff meeting, and was applauded as well, so that’s good! I can’t really go into the details about why, otherwise I’d have to let someone whose job it was to kill to kill you through bureaucratic lack of efficiency and motivation, and then filing a report about how good a job it was to be reviewed by a committee. Don’t worry, I’m going to rework that joke and use it again in a couple weeks. Worst part about my job? Working a block away from the White House I can hear every motorcade as it drives by, but I can’t rush to the window to yell out to them! I feel like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington . . . Or was that Mr. Deeds when he yells at the fire truck driving by? Either way I’m Jimmy Stewart.

Spiritual fodder! There has been a lot this week! I have grown A LOT. And I’m OH so humble about it! Institute gave me the something I’ll share today. We had a great class this past Tuesday where Elder and Sister Ellsworth taught us on God the Almighty. Elder Ellsworth went through the story of the Brother of Jared from the Book of Ether and there was something about our relationship with God I have never noticed before. We see the Brother of Jared asking the Lord for help throughout the various trials he and his family were experiencing. At first, all the Brother of Jared would do is complain about what was going on and somewhat demand the Lord to fix it. Ether 1:38-39 the Brother of Jared, under Jared’s guidance, cries unto the Lord to drive them out of the land and to ask where to go and what to do, which the Lord grants with compassion. Next, the Lord commanded them to travel into the wilderness (Ether 2:5). Then, the Brother of Jared neglects to call on the Lord, and after four years he remembers and gets chastised by the Lord (Ether 2:14). He grows here, and in this new respect for the Lord the Brother of Jared follows the Lord’s commands, builds barges to travel to the promised land, and upon doing so questions the Lord on how to light the barges while they travel. The Lord responds in Ether 2:23, ” . . . What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” The Lord also explains they can’t have windows in the barges, and they can’t have fire since they are made of wood. Doesn’t leave many options, right? After thinking on it the Brother of Jared finds an answer, namely, Ether 3:4, ” . . . touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness,” and the Lord does so.

There is a progression for the Brother of Jared here. The relationship he had with the Lord was simplistic and utilitarian at the beginning. He took it for granted and simply grocery-shopped for his self-interested needs. But, upon being chastened by the Lord for treating Him thus, the Brother of Jared found a new respect for the level of friendship the Lord expected of him. The Brother of Jared then understood and sought to treat the Lord with the respect He deserved. Upon doing so, and reaching a level of somewhat mutual respect, gratitude, and humility, the Lord knew He could then take the Brother of Jared to a higher level of understanding.

At the end of the encounter, the Brother of Jared was challenged to find a solution beyond his comprehension. At least that’s what he was used to thinking. See, the Brother of Jared saw himself as a man of the earth, simple and with weakness. But the Lord saw him as divine, and something to eventually become like God. So after being faced with a problem where no earthly solution was available (no windows and no fire) the Brother of Jared started to think like God, and found a solution according to God’s manner of thinking and acting. Once he did that the Lord was able to answer his request, touch the stones, and bring light unto their voyage. And with it the Lord had taken the Brother of Jared another step towards reaching his divine potential.

My beloved brothers and sisters, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,” and so can you. You are a royal generation. The heavenly grandstands are cheering you on. We are fast coming to the close of this game. The opposition is real and is scoring. But we have scored, we are scoring, and we will score in the future. The Lord is our coach and manager. His team will win, and we can be a valiant part of it if we so desire. Rise up, O youth of Zion! You hardly realize the great divine potential that lies within you. May you all follow your leader, Jesus Christ, and increase mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially, I pray for all of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson

“In His Steps,” 1979 BYU Devotional

I add my testimony that as we become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will reach our divine potential! We will triumph over the evil of the adversary and reach a new level of understanding with our Older Brother and Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of this, and I have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as it came from Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith unto the world! I know my Redeemer lives, loves, and wants us all to know He does. I act so that you may find that knowledge as well! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The DC . . . no, not Divine Comedy

Wow! How can I possibly convey everything that is my life right now!? I LOVE DC!!

Sight seeing:

  • Capitol Building Tour – Got a behind the scenes personal tour with an intern working for Senator Reid! SO ornate!
  • Kennedy Center for Fine Arts – Has anybody seen State of Play? Either way, you have to come here someday. They have a free show in their side, grand hallway theater every single day of the year. We got to hear some creole music, which was awesome!
  • Botanical Gardens – Loved it. Tons of cute kids hanging out there too.
  • Library of Congress – Oh my gosh. O.M.G.! I might have liked this more than the capitol. We’re going back to get a library card so we can read in the main room and feel like we somehow are going to find a national treasure.
  • Smithsonian – Air and Space Museum – Only saw maybe a fourth of it. Loved everything in it. Got to see the first civilian-made and run ship to take a civilian into space. SpaceShipOne. Which, in my excitement of getting to DC, I forgot was one of my goals to see while here.
  • Museum of Natural History – Couldn’t see all of this either. Still very entertaining.

Good Eats I tried:

  • Thai Coast – Best Thai I’ve ever had! (That’s not saying too much) Can’t complain for being next door to where I live!
  • Potbelly’s – Surprisingly good sandwich at George Washington University.
  • Good Stuff Eatery – It’s an unwritten sin if you eat here. But, it’s also a law that you eat here. Crazy government working against religion. The Toasted Marshmallow Shake will make you want to start drug dealing to pay for more of them. I felt like I broke the Word of Wisdom after drinking it, yet I also wanted to go buy another.
  • Dept. of Commerce, Cafeteria – Good food, but $6 for every pound of food.. and you don’t know how much you’ve taken until you get to the cashier . . . kinda sucks when it takes over $10 to fill you up . . . 🙂 (stinkin’ ellipse rules.. they don’t make sense)

Okay, I know this post hasn’t been about my internship (which is the whole reason I’m in D.C., right?), but I have plenty of weeks to get to that. And I don’t have much time anymore. And I can’t exactly talk about the details of what I work on..

I live in Washington D.C.!!

I have not previously written about my internship, but that’s because I have always had other things I wanted to write about. So to summarize this previous semester’s process I will say this: I am doing the BYU Washington Seminar where I live in a BYU/LDS owned apartment/office building on Pennsylvania Ave. (Yes, that Pennsylvania Ave.! About a mile down the street from the White House!) and I will be doing an internship for the next 3 months with the (get ready, it’s a mouthful) Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration – Advocacy Center! Basically I will research U.S. businesses and firms that apply for advocacy help to make sure they are not liabilities to the U.S. government for gaining our support in establishing themselves in international markets… At least that’s what I think I’ll be doing. I won’t quite know until my first day on Tuesday. SO! That’s where I am now, and you’ll be hearing a lot more about D.C. these next few months!

Speaking of D.C… what do I think, now that I’ve been here two full days? I LOVE IT.

It is everything I expected, (in a chick-flick, girly voice) and so much more!…

As I flew into Reagan Friday evening, we banked left and from my window seat (thanks Chelon!) I could see all the way from the Mall to the Washington D.C. Temple! It was picturesque! Since I’ve been here I’ve been able to travel around a little, we went to the Mall tonight to see what it looked like, but really we have been getting ourselves situated and moved in more than anything.

Washington D.C. is just amazing. It is the perfect mix of historic, colonial America with modern, international America.  From the businesses, embassies, 12+ universities, and government district there are people of EVERY type walking the streets. You hear different languages and mix into completely different crowds constantly, yet everyone acts like they are just visiting and ought to be cordial toward each other (though, I am well aware this is the homicide capital of the nation!). The pace of the city is amazing too. It’s not that anyone is in a hurry, but it feels like each other person is. Does that make sense? I don’t know. It feels like I am either in a dream or in a movie because I see these places that I’ve seen so many times, and seem like they should be so familiar, but now they are finally present (or at least I am), and I can finally know them for myself.

Maybe my feelings about this District will change over the next few weeks. Or maybe I will get used to the sights and sounds (which ironically all of us interns are trying to do, since that would deem us “locals”). But, maybe the amazement will never lift. And hopefully I will make the most of this chance to be in one of the capitals of the world.