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Oregon State University

McNary Hall Memories | Birthday Memories

Last year for my birthday, I asked my friends to send me stories related to our friendship. I spent my birthday taking a trip down memory lane, reading through all of them. This year, I asked some of my friends if I could share their memories with you.

My College Senior Portrait - 2001

My College Senior Portrait – 2001

Today’s memories are from Cody Daggett, one of my residents when I was a Resident Assistant at Oregon State University. He was a sophomore when I was a senior. That was probably my easiest year of being an RA – McNary Hall was the official dorm of the University Honors College and my floor had a lot of engineers. They were a fun but responsible bunch.

Here’s what Cody had to share:

It was a dark and stormy night in McNary Hall when the evil RA roamed the halls looks for scared underclasspeople to write up for doing misdeeds. (Don’t believe him. I wrote 1 conduct report that entire year.) She was a sassy one and her name was Ruth Bare Ass Carter. I’m not sure how she got that middle name. (My middle name is Barras – my great-grandmother’s maiden name.)
Everyone was a little afraid of her at first (See – I can be scary) but then Wyatt started with one of his women jokes and got her to crack a smile. Hannah joined in with her lovely British accent and funny American impersonation and the just forced Ruth to like the group more and get rid of her evilness.

Even still, she would roam the halls every night looking for open doors and people to entertain or chat with. I also found myself doing the same many nights. Sometimes she would show off with a gymnastics trick or two or tell the story of how she once escaped from Alcatraz. At least that is how I interpreted it the when she told me she was from San Francisco.

There are three things I remember most about Ruth:

#1 The amazing OSU black and orange blanket that she made for me over winter break. I still have it. (Yay!)

#2 Although never being a Trekkie myself finding myself, getting into Star Trek more and more during nightly readings. (I get horrible insomnia. When I couldn’t sleep, Cody would read to me from whatever Star Trek paperback I was reading at the time until I fell asleep.)

#3 The fun and friendship she brought to some of the best times and friends in my life.

That was such a fun year. The sixth floor of McNary Hall was an awesome group of residents, many of which I’m still friends with today.

Take a Letter Maria | Birthday Memories

Last year for my birthday, I asked my friends to send me stories related to our friendship. I spent my birthday taking a trip down memory lane, reading through all of them. This year, I asked some of my friends if I could share their memories with you.

Dancing with Chris - 2001

Dancing with Chris – 2001

Today’s memory is from Chris Linrud, one of my friends from Oregon State. Although we were both Honors College students, we actually met through country dancing.

Here’s what Chris had to share:

I had been taking country dance lessons for a few weeks when I first met Ruth. (OSU has an awesome selection of P.E. classes for credit – including Country Dancing.) She wasn’t in my country dance class. (I took the class when I was a freshman.) One of the requirements to pass the class was to go to a specific number of dances. I think it was the second or third dance where I first met her . . . I approached a posse of women I knew from my class which included Becky, Kirsten, and Sarah and said hello. I looked out onto the dance floor to see this girl line dancing with a great looking ass in tight black wranglers. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “I need to meet her.” (A few other thoughts may have entered my mind as well, but I’ll keep this PG). Luckily enough, she happened to be the RA of the three girls I already knew, so introductions were quick and easy. (I promise Chris is not a creepy womanizer. He’s a farm boy from North Dakota and a rocket scientist . . . and a guy.)

Snuggling with Chris at the Dance Hall - 2001

Snuggling with Chris at the Dance Hall – 2001

From there on out, Ruth and I became not only great dance partners, but great friends. There were few Saturday nights we didn’t spend together along with the rest of the country dance crowd. As soon as “Take a Letter Maria” would come on or some other fast cha-cha we would lock eyes and hurry up and get in line. Being a gymnast and also knowing how to follow my lead really well we were the only couple who could ever do all the turns including a triple to the really fast songs. (Chris is an awesome lead. The songs were so fast that I had to go from the triple turn right into the next step. If he didn’t grab my hand at the right moment, I would have fallen on my ass. He never dropped me.) We always seemed to be tuned in to what the other was thinking. When we were catching our breath on the sidelines you could often find Ruth sitting on my lap or curled up in my arms . . . even though we weren’t dating there was a comfort and connection between us that I still remember today. (Don’t get any ideas – Chris married an amazing woman named Stacy and they have two beautiful daughters.)

Whenever I hear “Take a Letter Maria,” I can’t help but start cha-cha-ing in my mind . . .and if I’m alone I may even break out some old moves. However – be careful if you try to do this in the shower – I’ve almost fell over on more than one occasion! (Oh that’s the Chris I know and love.)

I have a lot of fond memories of that time of my life. Out of that crowd she was the only one that was able to attend my wedding and my only regret that night is that we never did do a fast country swing in front of everyone and bring back the cheers we used to get dancing every weekend in college. (Dude – did you forget the applause we got when we schottiched?)

I have so many fond memories from country dancing at OSU – still have my boots and buckle too. I picked my outfits for Chris and Sarah’s weddings around my boots because they are my two favorite country dance leads.

Chris accused me of wanting to share this story just because he said I have a nice tush. That wasn’t the only reason. 😉

Singing with Richard | Birthday Memories

Last year for my birthday, I asked my friends to send me stories related to our friendship. I spent my birthday taking a trip down memory lane, reading through all of them. This year, I asked some of my friends if I could share their memories with you.

Benton Hall - Music Department at OSU (Photo from wikimedia)

Benton Hall – Music Department at OSU (Photo from wikimedia)

Today’s memory comes from Dr. Richard Weidlich, one of my voice coaches when I studied at Oregon State University. (Fun fact: I was never a music major or minor but between my undergrad and masters degrees, I took twelve quarters of voice lessons at OSU.) I studied with Richard my senior year. Voice lessons at OSU are one-on-one classes – it was just him, me, and an accompanist every week.

Working with Richard was amazing. Not only is he a phenomenal opera and Broadway performer, but when he sings or teaches, he experiences the music with his whole body. It is such a joy to experience any aspect of music with him. And did I mention he’s drop-dead gorgeous? As a student, I was perpetually impressed and intimidated by him.

Here are some of Richard’s thoughts from that year:

Music helps us in so many ways, to communicate with more than just mere words, with a power that goes deeper than that. I loved working with you and seeing your voice grow and mature during that year at OSU! I remember your enthusiasm at your lessons and how excited you would get when you had the song down and were starting to communicate it to me. When you got something right, your excitement was infectious! I am hoping that you continue your love for music by singing and working with a teacher again at some point. We learn so much about ourselves in the process, and we stretch ourselves. My grandmother always talked about life-long learning and I now know what she means. It is the answer to boredom and the solution to a life with no purpose!

There is something so special about working with a coach – on any craft. They help you develop your skills; they mentor you through frustrations and they’re there to celebrate victories. I am truly lucky to have Richard as part of my musical family.

Adjusting to Oregon Living

My friends Katie and Tyler Hurst recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. I’m excited for their new adventure but they will be definitely missed around here. To all my Portland friends, please leave comments with your suggestions of places they have to see and people they need to meet (including yourselves)!

Made in Oregon by Phillie Casablanca from Flickr

Tracking their journey from Phoenix to Portland reminded me of my first winter in Oregon. I lived in northern California for my entire life until I went to Oregon State University for college. I went through quite a culture shock. People there say “pop” instead of “soda” and they are way more accepting of other’s freakishness. And everyone’s super friendly – disturbingly so compared to California.

And it rains in Oregon – a lot. It rains from the end of October until the middle of April. In California, we don’t do much when it rained. If they did that in Oregon, the state would shut down for at least 6 months a year. Oregonians just pop their hoods up and keep walking. They don’t even carry umbrellas.  I tried carrying one for about a week and it was a pain to keep track of it.

The first winter in Oregon was the hardest. I had to adjust to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and that the sky was always gray. I became convinced that some children grow up not knowing that the sky is blue. I learned really fast to appreciate the cloud cover because if I woke up and I saw a blue sky in the winter, that meant it was bitter cold outside because there was no cloud cover to hold the heat in. (On the flip side, you get to wear really cute hat, glove, and scarf sets.)

I remember one October night during my freshman year, I was walking to dinner with my friends. It was dark and kind of drizzly. My friends were all native Oregonians. They all had their hoods down and their jackets slightly unzipped at the top. I, on the other hand, had my jacket zipped all the way up, my hood up, and I pulled my drawstrings to help keep the rain off my face. I looked like Kenny from Southpark. My friends laughed at me.

Fast-forward a few months to the beginning of spring. My parents came up from California to visit for a long weekend. They took my then-boyfriend and I on a day trip to the coast to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. They still had Keiko the whale at the time. The aquarium had wonderful outdoor exhibits and my boyfriend and I were running around looking at all the sea life. It was a bit drizzly but nothing bad. We didn’t even need our hoods up. At one point I looked back to see where my parents were and I saw my Mom – looking somewhat miserable – with her jacket zipped up, her hood up, and the drawstrings pulled. That’s when I knew I’d adjusted to Oregon living.

I loved living in Oregon – the people, the quirky independent businesses, and the general accepting culture. I don’t get back there as often as I’d like. I hope you love it there Tyler and Katie! (You may need a UV lamp to help you through your first winter when you won’t see a blue sky for weeks.)

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SALK Day 1 – What Am I Doing??

Welcome to  2011 and the beginning of Sponsor A Law Kid!

This is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school at Arizona State University.  People are sponsoring various days between January 1st and July 27th in exchange for having blogs written about them, their business, or the topic of their choice.  Today’s sponsor asked me to use my first day to give a little background information about myself.

I went to St. Vincent High School in Petaluma, California where I took every honors and advanced placement class in math and science.  By the time I graduated, I was convinced that I was destined to get a Ph.D. in chemistry and win the Nobel Prize.  I liked working on problems and being able to find a concrete conclusion at the end.  I had amazing teachers who nurtured me along the way.  After high school, I went to Oregon State University and majored in chemistry for two years.  There I learned that I didn’t like being trapped in a lab all day.  I was also a Resident Assistant I learned that I liked working with people in a problem solving role.  Much to the shock of my classmates and mentors, I changed my major to psychology.  After graduation, I went on to get a masters degree in counseling, moved to Phoenix, and became a therapist working with adults living with HIV.

Being a therapist was often rewarding, but at times it was frustrating because I was in a role where I was working at my clients’ pace, not mine.  I could diagnose clients with the best of them and I could make suggestions about what they might want to do to improve their lives, but there was nothing I could do to make them actually put these ideas into actions.  My hands were tied, and I often felt like I was trapped in my office.  I wanted a more active role in the problem solving process.

I came to law school hoping to find the best of two worlds – helping people with their problems and being an active member of the problem solving team.  I am glad I chose Arizona State for school because of its Center for Law, Science, and Innovation.  My plan is to practice intellectual property and internet law.

During law school, I have become involved in the social media and to a lesser degree, the podcasting communities.  These are the type of people I want to have as clients some day.  In November 2010, I was out for a run and catching up on my podcasts.  I heard an interview with Jason Sadler, founder of I Wear Your Shirt.  He makes a living producing content and advertising companies by wearing their shirts.  I thought he was a genius.  He inspired me to tweak his idea and instead of selling days in exchange for wearing people’s shirts, I could sell days in exchange for writing blogs for my sponsors.  I checked with one of my social media friends and he said to run with the idea.

To date, I’ve sold 33 days with other potential sponsors considering which days they want to buy.  This program has paid for ~20% of my tuition.  One potential sponsor opted to give me a $1000 scholarship in lieu of sponsoring a day.  I will be selling days until the program is over or until I run out of days.  I want to thank all my sponsors in advance for participating in this program and contributing to my education.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school.  Today’s sponsors are Darvin and Jane DeShazer.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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Everyone Should Vote By Mail

This past Saturday, I stood at my kitchen counter for two hours and worked on my ballot.  There was much to vote on:  governor, representatives, propositions, judges, and the State Mine Inspector just to name a few.   There were very few heated campaigns or hot button issues so I spent a lot of time reading through candidate statements, the pros and cons of the propositions, and the results of the judicial performance review.  I was very grateful to AZ Central for providing information about the candidates for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

A voter returns his vote-by-mail ballot in the...
Image via Wikipedia

I have always voted by mail.  When I turned 18 and registered to vote, I lived in Oregon where everyone votes by mail.  They don’t have polling places.  They only have ballot drop boxes.  It’s very convenient.  When I moved to Arizona, I signed up to permanently get my ballot by mail.  I have voted in a polling place once in my life – it was overrated.

While I was working on my ballot, I wondered how many people don’t look at the candidates or the propositions until they go into the voting booth.  Do they just vote along party lines?  What do they do about votes to retain judges or non-partisan races like the water conservation district?  Do they just vote for the names that sound pretty?

One of my favorite voting memories was from the 2000 election.  I was a senior at Oregon State University and a resident assistant in McNary Hall.  I remember sitting on the floor in the hallway with some of my residents working on our ballots because they were due the next day.  Nothing spectacular happened that night but I remember really talking about the candidates and the propositions before making my final choices.

I think every state should be like Oregon and only have voting by mail.  It would force voters be more thoughtful about who and what they are voting for.  It would also give them the ability to do more research on the candidates.  I had some questions while I was working on my ballot and I sent emails to the candidates asking for their position on key issues.

It’s also more convenient to vote from home.  One of my fellow law students is from Oregon.  Like me, she’s a permanent voter by mail too.  We were discussing this issue today and she said that she’s too lazy to go to a polling place.  If she had to go farther than her mailbox to vote, it would be too far.  I don’t think she’s lazy, just efficient.

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