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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pizza

because pizza is happiness, obviously

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Life

10 Years of Mal-loween

As I promised, this post is a fun, lighthearted post in list format!

I’ve always loved Halloween. I mean: fall weather, dressing up, pumpkin everything, candy, spooky stories – what’s not to love? I started to take my costume rather seriously starting when I was about 8 and have had some really great costumes over the years (at least, in my opinion). This post is a compilation of 10 years worth of my Halloween costumes (with pictures and fun facts too!).

  • Dead Prom Queen (2008)
    • Fun fact – my mom came up with the tire track idea and achieved the effect by rubbing shoe oil on the family car’s tires, then ran my dress over with the car.
  • Juliet (2009)
    • Fun fact – I planned this costume around a dagger I bought at The Shakespeare Festival, which is probably more weird than fun, but that’s Jr. High Mallory in a nutshell for ya.

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  • Belle (2010)
    • Fun fact – I planned this costume because I found the yellow dress at a thrift store in like August of 2010 and really wanted to buy it, but didn‚Äôt have a good reason.

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  • Miss Scarlet (2011)
    • Fun fact – this was a group costume for the Halloween dance. My friend told me I was the only one with enough sass to pull off Miss Scarlet.

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  • Where’s Waldo? (2012)
    • Fun fact – this was another group costume
  • Flapper (2013)
    • Not fun fact – I didn’t actually get to wear this costume for Halloween because I had to work that day ūüė¶

  • Lois Lane and Superman (2014)
    • Fun fact – this was when I was a poor college student and had to put together a costume of stuff I already owned. We ended up winning a costume contest!

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  • ’50’s Couple (2015)
    • Fun fact – Halloween was literally two weeks after we got married. Since I had been planning the wedding, I hadn’t even thought of a costume. We threw this together the day before with stuff we already had around the house.

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  • Mickey and Minnie (2016)
    • Fun fact – We planned this costume around my polka dot dress, which also doubled as my graduation dress.

  • Hogwarts Students (2017)
    • Fun fact – We decided to dress according to our houses rather than pick specific characters. My house is Ravenclaw, Andrew’s is Gryffindor.

(Finally, to wrap up this post, I want to give a shout out to my mom who helped me so much putting my costumes together throughout my childhood and teenage years. She also helped me out with the post by emailing me old pictures! You’re the best, mom ūüôā )

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Let’s Talk About Cancer and Other Heavy Things

Since it’s been nearly a year since I last wrote regularly, I figured why not jump back in with the heavy topics? I want to make everybody uncomfortably aware of my inner demons and worst fears and whatnot to make up for my absence from your lives (I promise my next post will be silly and lighthearted and maybe even in a list format, which is always fun)! My last post was about my early return from my mission, so this one will be about my husband’s cancer diagnosis.

Andrew (the aforementioned husband) was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 19, 4 months after we started dating. As far as cancers go, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is kind of the way to go (so, in case you were thinking of getting cancer, aim for that one). If caught in the early stages, it has about a 90% cure rate. Luckily, Andrew’s cancer was caught in the early stages and he is three years in remission now!

Andrew was diagnosed because of a lingering cold that he had. Seriously. It was a cold that tipped the doctors off. He had gone into the student health center to get an antibiotic to help him fight it off. The student health center thought something might be up and acted strangely enough that Andrew went to the InstaCare for a second opinion. They also thought something was off. An ultrasound, PET Scan, and biopsy later, it was official. Andrew had cancer. He started a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy the following Wednesday, which was also Finals Week (and, like the trooper he is, he went and took his finals in the midst of all of this). After the chemotherapy was finished, he had 18 (nearly) straight days of radiation treatment.

Relapse is, of course, always in the back of our minds. Since he was diagnosed because of a cold, every sniffle, cough, or sore throat puts us on high alert. Earlier this year he had a lingering cough for a month and a half and we went to the doctor no less than four times because we were so anxious.

Andrew won’t be considered cured until he hits his 5 years in remission mark and the cancer is all but essentially guaranteed to come back eventually. The next time the cancer comes, chances of survival are good, but not as good as the first time. And each time it comes back the chances of survival reduce.

 


About 8 months ago I was watching one of my favorite TV shows. It’s a comedy with just enough drama to keep it interesting. In an episode that aired about a week before Valentine’s Day, a main character unexpectedly died from a heart attack due to complications from an previous injury which they thought he was in the clear for.

I was hysterical. I literally sat on the couch sobbing for a good three hours. For the life of me, I could not figure out why this TV show made me so upset, and why I cared so much that this character died. It was a fake person that died. I was pretty embarrassed about my reaction, but I was weepy for the rest of the night and Andrew was more than a little flabbergasted about why I was so upset (in all honesty, I, too, was a little flabbergasted).

I was groggy the next morning and couldn’t get the death of that character off of my mind. Because I was so upset, I reached out to several people to complain about this death and how angry and hurt I was over this decision. Some people responded by listening and sympathizing. Some people told me it was just a TV show and it shouldn’t matter that much to me. Some people justified the decisions of the writers and executives.

What made me even angrier than this unexpected death on a TV Show is that people were dismissing my feelings and justifying the decisions that had upset me so thoroughly. Sure, I didn’t know why this had impacted me so deeply, but I certainly didn’t anticipate my sadness and anger to be met with coldness from those I was trying to confide in.


Of course, thanks to the order that I presented the information to you in, you’re likely able to quickly draw the parallels between what upset me so deeply in the TV show and my own very real life. It took me several weeks (where I was frustrated and angry with this dumb TV show) to stumble on the answer myself.

Andrew has a chance of unexpectedly relapsing at any point and it could kill him. Just like that character unexpectedly “relapsed” into his injury and it killed him. It altered the lives of everyone around that character and his wife was (justifiably) devastated. There was about a 30 second clip where the wife receives the news that her husband has passed away and it was very difficult to watch her reaction. For me, it was like looking into a possible and horrific version of my future, which would be upsetting for anyone. Which is why I was so traumatized. And which is also why I was so hurt that so many of the people I tried to confide in brushed me off.


It wouldn’t be a post on Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Pizza if I didn’t have a key takeaway summary at the end of my post. In an effort not to upset my adoring fans (thanks for reading. Really, I appreciate it – you didn’t have to make it this far in my post or keep reading my blog when I update it and you did and that’s really cool of you), I will continue with that pattern.

So here’s my lead up to the key takeaway: Why on earth do we question someone else’s narrative?¬†When we’re confronted with someone else’s story, often our first reaction is generally to question them on the accuracy of the story, justify the actions of the people around them, or invalidate their feelings. Sometimes we even go so far as to say, “Well, it didn’t upset me, so it shouldn’t upset you.”

Since we’re all a unique conglomeration of triumphs and tragedies, successes and sorrows, loves and losses, we cannot possibly know how every event will effect someone else, or expect them to react in the same way we did when confronted with the same situation. And here’s the key takeaway. Next time someone confides in us or tells us about something that was upsetting to them, let’s swallow our initial reaction of justification and just tell them, “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”

Please Stop Asking Strangers if They Served Missions

Over the past few years, I’ve lived in 5 different places (from DC, to Logan, to SLC), had, like, 6 different jobs, and traveled in several different states. In other words, I’ve met a lot of people in a lot of places. One trend that I’ve noticed is that if I meet someone who is also LDS, the question of mission serving always comes up pretty fast. Which puts me in an exceptionally awkward position.

Here’s the thing: when you’re first meeting someone, you wouldn’t ask them for their political party or what religion they are. You wouldn’t ask them if they’re trying to have kids or if they got a college education or how much debt they have. If you find out they’re LDS, you wouldn’t ask them if they got sealed in the temple, or if they’re currently temple worthy. All of those things are personal and aren’t appropriate to ask an acquaintance. So why do we ask about missions? For some people, a mission is¬†an amazing experience that they’re willing to share, for others it’s something they may have wanted to do and never been able to and being asked is a painful reminder, and some people may have returned early and don’t like to think about it.

Also, let me be clear: I’m not saying we should never talk about missions. If you served a mission, by all means, tell me about it! I love hearing the stories. But I want¬†you, the one who has the stories and experiences, to freely offer them. I won’t ask to hear them. And I don’t want you to ask me.

When a stranger asks me if I served a mission, I basically have two options (and trust me, it’s pretty much just these two. I’ve been answering this question for a few years now): I can say yes, and then have to answer the follow up questions in which I get to tell complete and total strangers about my anxieties and depression and early return, stressing that it was honorable and clinical because I’m prideful and care what strangers think of me. Or I can (lie and) say no, which is easier, but also not true. I don’t like telling strangers about my depression. It’s not because I’m ashamed of it. I’m pretty open about it, honestly¬†(hence why I’m mentioning it on my blog).¬†But I don’t really like that being in the first interaction I have with somebody because my depression and early return don’t define me. I’ve got so many other things to offer (like, hey, I’ve read about a book a week for the past six months, and I’m trying to teach myself to like running, and I really love food and TV shows, and I’ve got a dog and a husband I adore, I studied Political Science but work in the tech industry, and I love to travel!) so why should that be what strangers are asking me? Why does a mission tell you who I am?

As another anecdote, Andrew didn’t serve a mission. When he is asked, he also has to make a decision about opening up about a painful time in his life where he wanted to go (had even opened up his paperwork) and got diagnosed with cancer. If he says no, he didn’t serve, with no follow up explanation, people tend to assume the worst. It’s not fair that strangers are putting him in a position where he either has to tell them about an illness or he gets to be judged unfairly and unduly.

In short, when you meet a new person, it’s best to stick to the small talk for a while before diving into more personal information. *gracefully steps down from soapbox*

My Not-So-Secret Love Affair with Food

Disclaimer: I hate diets. I love food. A lot. To both statements.

Andrew recently passed his two-year remission mark (yay!!). He had a check up with his oncologist where they discussed the best sorts of diet to stay in remission and not have a relapse. It was mostly pretty easy stuff: limit red meats, avoid cured meats, try not to each processed foods. And then, somewhere in the middle of that tame and normal conversation, the paleo diet came up. And then it was somehow agreed we would try paleo for a month to clear toxins and reset our bodies and blah blah blah.

So, we’ve been paleo for two weeks now. And a day. Only one week and six days left! I’ve learned a lot about myself and my relationship with food from this diet.

  1. When it comes to food, I literally think in terms of life or death. There were donuts at work the other day and they smelled so good and all I could think was that if I died in the next few weeks, I would have deprived myself of the last chance I had to eat donuts and what a shame that would be.
  2. The only thing that I like about salad is the ranch dressing. On paleo you can’t have ranch dressing. But you can have salad.
  3. I apparently REALLY love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and also buttered toast. Because I’ve (literally) been dreaming about those things for the past few nights.
  4. Eating too much fruit gives me canker sores, which has reduced my diet now to basically vegetables and meat for the next one week and six days, which is fiiiiine. That’s fiiiiine. Don’t worry about me.
  5. I’m literally eating dog food for lunch. Okay, well, not literally. But my dog’s food is sweet potatoes, chicken, and vegetables. Guess what I’ve eaten for lunch the past two weeks? Again, it’s fiiiine.

I’m Going to Stop Using the Word Jealous, and You Should Too

We all do it. As soon as we see a friend who announces an engagement/announces a pregnancy/moves to a cool place/gets a cute pet/graduates college/goes on an amazing looking vacation/gets tickets to see HAMILTON/studies abroad/gets an internship/a whole plethora of things that we wish we had but don’t, we quickly type out, ‘So jealous!’ Maybe we even say it to their face, “Ugh. I’m jealous!” And then our friends just kind of laugh, because it’s not really a compliment and it’s not really an insult,¬†and there’s not really an appropriate way to respond to it.

I recently realized how¬†rude it is of me to say this to my friends and I’ve been trying hard to eradicate jealous from my vocabulary. I didn’t realize how pervasive this sneaky little word is. In fact, I just recently sent JEALOUS in all caps to Andrew because his office ordered pizza from The Pie and, well, I haven’t had pizza in weeks (I miss it).

As usual, here’s a list to provide you all with my much sought-after logic, this time on the topic of jealousy.

  1. When I say I’m jealous of someone, it takes away from their accomplishment and happiness and turns it around to me. For example, if a friend¬†posts a picture of their new car and I say “I’m jealous!” I take away from their hard work to get the car, the accomplishment of finally achieving it, and the happiness therein and turn it around to me, and my lack of a new car. It diminishes the hard work my friend probably undertook to earn that car. It ignores their accomplishment.
  2. Jealousy makes inherent comparisons. “They have a new car. I do not have a new car. I want that car.” All of the sudden instead of being happy with your perfectly adequate car that does its job in getting you from Point A to Point B, you are wishing you had your friend’s new car. Comparison tends to breed unhappiness because you’re only looking at the things other people have that you lack.
  3. Jealously assumes that someone didn’t struggle or have to work hard to obtain what they have. We can never know how other people struggle. They may have anxiety or depression that makes every day a challenge, they may be in debt, or have infertility issues, or family problems, or martial strife, or really anything. There’s a lot beneath the surface of everyone we know. When I say I’m jealous, I could be ignoring the trial they surmounted in order to be where they are now.
  4. Saying you’re jealous is not a compliment.¬†It’s just not.

It’s been hard to try and get rid of this word. It really is one of my gut reactions to be jealous of someone when they have something I don’t. But I’ve been training myself to be genuinely happy for people when they achieve something or make a great addition to their life.

So, in summation, join me in saying ‘Congratulations’ next time instead of ‘Wow! I’m so jealous!’

What I Learned from my Political Science Degree

Hey folks! It’s been a while (about two months – I know you’ve been watching the weeks pass by wondering when you would hear from me again). It’s been a crazy couple of months! Andrew and I went to Orlando and New York City, found an apartment to move to in Salt Lake City, started the tedious moving process, and I graduated from Utah State University!

As my undergraduate degree neared¬†its end, I began to have a bit of an existential crisis. I’ve been a student for 16 years and I think I’m pretty good at it. Anyways, I started reflecting on my time as a Political Science student and the most important things I learned. I think a lot of this is really applicable to the current political climate, which is why I’m sharing this in a public forum.

  1. Arguing on a moral basis will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get you anywhere. Morality is kind of a tricky thing because everyone’s moral compass has a slightly different ‘North.’ There are different priorities for everyone. Merriam-Webster defines morality as “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” When something is a¬†belief¬†it is not as black and white as you would think. The person you’re arguing with may have the complete opposite belief as you and they’re not wrong because it’s a¬†belief. It’s not a fact. It’s not even an opinion. It’s a belief.
  2. The best way to analyze policies is based on justice. This lesson took a long time for me to learn. It essentially took me dissecting a hefty load of Supreme Court cases for me to realize that what I think is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ doesn’t matter at all, and that’s actually a really, really good thing. What matters is whether every individual is treated justly in the eyes of the law.
  3. The “big” social issues that the American public is concerned about are basically non-issues for the vast majority of us political science scholars.¬†I’m talking about abortion¬†and gay marriage here specifically. It would officially take a constitutional amendment (which is a notoriously difficult task to undertake) to override these decisions. They’re as permanent as something can be in our government. Politicians only talk about these issues because they know the public is still up-in-arms about all of it. They know the truth, too – it’s all a done deal.
  4. The¬†Constitution¬†is not a divine document. This isn’t to say it wasn’t divinely inspired – it very well could have been. What I’m trying to say here is that the Constitution doesn’t cover everything and that it’s okay to change it. Obviously it wasn’t perfect – we’ve changed it 27 times. Yet people treat it like it’s the tablets handed to Moses on Mount Sinai themselves. As such, it’s incredibly difficult to getting an amendment through. If you take out the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) that were added on as a compromise, then there’s been one amendment every 13.5 years on average. It’s so difficult, that women still haven’t been constitutionally declared equal. It’s done through a backdoor clause of the 14th amendment.
  5. The American public is change-averse.¬†And it kind of makes things really crappy for everyone. Americans hate admitting that there’s a problem (see point number 4), and it takes decades of mistreatment and discontent before they decide to do something about it. I have seen chart after chart and more graphs than I care to share about how America is falling behind other first world countries in areas like public education, higher education, infrastructure, social mobility, and healthcare. But instead of admitting that things may need to be fixed, taxes may need to be raised, and programs may need to be cut, everyone acts like it’s still the 1980’s here and ignoring the reality that 2016 is not quite as kind to America.

We Got a Dog

For those of you who don’t know me intimately, this fact is actually quite shocking. I spent a good portion of the formative years of my life being terrified of each and every dog I encountered, to the extreme point that I wouldn’t go to a house with a dog in it, or I would request that the dog be put away. I hated going to a house I’d never been to before because I was anxious about whether or not they owned a dog. Despite all this, we adopted¬†a dog of our very own last week!

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On the day we adopted Charles!

Andrew and I had talked about getting a dog for a while for the companionship, but we kept putting it off because it just didn’t seem convenient: we’re moving soon, we’re still in school, and the rent gets more expensive if you have a pet, plus, you know, the extra responsibility of caring for another life seemed extra¬†overwhelming.¬†Last Thursday, Andrew told me to put my shoes on because we were going to The Humane Society tolook atthe dogs (I’ve been told repeatedly since by multiple people that you can’t go and expect not to adopt one).

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Charles loves hanging out in the sun!

We were walking around the dog section and looking at them and then, at the very last kennel, was this perfect little Chihuahua Terrier who was staring up at us calmly. No barking, no jumping, just patiently waiting for us to pet him. We fell in love and before we knew it, we were taking him home and calling him Charles the Chihuahua (because isn’t that freaking adorable??). Later I added Sherlock Fitzgerald to the back end of the name, because I’m pretentious. Andrew wrote on his kennel 221B and we named his toy Watson to fit along with the Sherlock theme.

 

He fit right in to our little apartment, curled up in between us while we watched Netflix. He loves army crawling on the carpet to us and then rolling over on his back so we’ll finish scratching his belly. He falls asleep if he’s cuddled. He doesn’t bark, he loves attention, and he’s a huge goofball, but only if he thinks no one is watching him. He will pat your hand with his paw repeatedly until you pet him.

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Snuggles with Andrew!

It’s been an¬†adventure so far! He’s already run away once (I’ve never run around my neighborhood in my pajamas crying before, and I hope I never will again), he has a crazy sleeping schedule (up every night at about 4), but he gives some of the best snuggles and sweetest little pats.

Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals week is quickly approaching and the panic of unpreparedness is setting in. I thought I’d share my insights into how to survive finals week, because as seen from the picture above (circa finals week Fall 2014), I’m a seasoned professional. I’ll refer back to this picture for specific tips and tricks on surviving the most stressful weeks of the semester.

You’ll notice on my nightstand two¬†items of importance. First, the box of tissues.¬†Carry tissues with you at all times, every where. This is important for two reasons. One, with all the stress and lack of sleep, you’re far more likely to catch a cold and you don’t want to be the annoying kid during a test that can’t stop sniffing and is unprepared for such a tragedy. Two, if you’re not the chronic-sniffer, there’s going to be at least one in your class during the test. Chances are, they’re going to choose to sit right behind you and then sniff loudly every three seconds and you won’t be able to FREAKING CONCENTRATE ON THE TEST THAT IS 50% OF YOUR GRADE. Politely pull out your tissues (because you’re always prepared) and offer one to them kindly. If they refuse, insist. A lot. Repeatedly. Because you deserve to be able to focus on your test.

Second, there’s the bottle NyQuil.¬†NyQuil can be your best friend. It will help you when that inevitable stress cold sets in. It will also help you be able to fall asleep easier without having waking nightmares about getting the time of one of your finals wrong, or forgetting about a paper, or if the professor includes that thing that you didn’t think was important enough to study.

Beside my bed is a garbage can, making it possible to never leave my bed.¬†There is also a can of cashews on top of my bed. You can eat, study, and sleep¬†without even having to get out of bed, if you play your cards right. This maximizes potential study time by ensuring you don’t have to waste time and energy on silly things like nutrition and exercise.

You may notice my frumpy, frizzy ponytail. This is status quo. Don’t even try to do your hair. It’s not worth it. You’ll already have a lack of sleep from cramming late at night, or pulling an all-nighter to finish that 10 page research paper, so why would you punish yourself by getting up 30 minutes early to perfect your hair? Give into the laziness and get that extra sleep. You’ll thank yourself later (unless your boyfriend takes a picture or you walk by a mirror).

You may also notice that I’m wearing a too-small Disney sweater from high school.¬†I typically don’t do laundry in the final weeks of the semester. I have enough on my plate, why should hygiene and fashion be first and foremost? Plus, laundry is time-consuming, especially if you don’t have the machines in your apartment. So, I opt for old sweaters.

My sweats are also from high school (the years 2012-2013¬†are actually clearly written out beside ‘Xela,’ by my sweats are askew, so you can’t see that).¬†Wear sweats all day, everyday. Pajamas are permissible, too. Again, why bother with fashion when you’ve got study groups going into the late night? Let your clothes speak for you so you don’t even have to open your mouth to say, ‘I’ve given up.’

Those are my expert (and kind of sort of but maybe not entirely sarcastic) tips.

May the odds be ever in your favor this finals week, fellow students!

Month One of Happily Ever After

So, a month ago today, this happened:

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And between wedding planning, the wedding having, and midterms (because I decided to get married in the middle of my penultimate semester) I didn’t make a single blog post – I realize this was probably devastating for the vast majority of you all.

I wanted to knock out the ‘thankful November’ social media posts and the past few months all in one go, so here are a few of the things I’m most thankful for in my new marriage.

  1. Andrew¬†wakes up early every morning to drop me off at work because even the buses aren’t running that early in the morning.
  2. He surprises me with his fantastic cooking after really long days. That man really knows how to work a steak, lemme tell ya.
  3. Andrew tells me my burnt brownies are actually really tasty when even I can’t stand to eat them.
  4. He calmly put up with me calling him 27 times on Saturday because there was a WASP INSIDE our APARTMENT (he was stuck at the auto shop waiting for the car to be repaired, so he calmly talked me through an escape route to the local soda shop where I could wait the crisis out).
  5. He acts like he’s interested in Jane the Virgin (probably one of the most amazing TV shows ever created) and lets me explain the intricate plot line to him (with only minimal references to soap operas) and he even asks questions to prove he’s listening.
  6. Andrew waits to watch Friends until we can both watch it together.
  7. Andrew acted like it was totally fine that I played Christmas music and started putting up decorations on November 1st. He even put up Christmas lights on our porch!
  8. He got so ridiculously excited when we got our first (and only) trick-or-treater on Halloween and it made me fall even more in love with him.
  9. He supports me in my dreams and supports me in pursuit of them.
  10. And finally, Andrew snuck out of our apartment before I woke up this morning to surprise me with roses and breakfast.

Happy one month anniversary, Andrew! I’m grateful for you and for how fun you’ve made marriage so far!

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