Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Treated Me Just Fine

Please forgive me for the lame title, but I couldn’t resist rhyming the words "Nine" and "Fine."

Besides my time as a missionary in Italy I’ve never been very good at keeping a "journal." It’s not that I don’t want to, but I just never seem to find the time to write down my thoughts, feelings, or what I’ve been up to. So at the beginning of the year (early on in my blogging career) I made the goal to blog at least 12 times in 2009. Once a month didn’t seem too outrageously hard or overwhelming. And so here we are December 31, 2009, and I’m writing my 12th entry. Mission accomplished!!!

Christmas in the Zentgraf House was again enjoyable. It was kind of surreal to think that perhaps this may be the last time that we are all together as a family for Christmas. Whitney will enter pharmacy school next fall, and I intend to enroll in a master’s program (preferably outside of Richmond, Virginia). While things may be changing, one thing was exactly the same as last year. Last Christmas almost our entire family was sick, except for me. Being the only healthy individual in the house I felt it was my responsibility to see that we had a good Christmas Eve dinner. This year nobody was sick, but, through an unexpected turn of events, I won a 30-pound turkey, which became the main course of our family dinner. You may be asking yourself how I managed this feat. In short, me and a couple of friends were having "guys night out" at a restaurant famous for, among other things, their wings. It just happened to be turkey-bowling night at the restaurant, and the hostesses convinced my friends and I to participate. The 3 of us were joined by 4 other "bowlers" who would throw a small 10-pound turkey wrapped in duct tape at 10 pins located on the other side of the restaurant. We were set to "bowl" 4 frames, and after the 3rd frame I was inexplicably near 1st place. In between our "rolls" we made sure to chat up our hostesses so as to get on their good side. On my final roll I got a strike, my victory appeared immanent. But a lucky spare by the last competitor gave him a one pin edge over me. As he came over to our table (which was were the hostesses were sitting and compiling the scores) he asked, "Did I win?" I already knew that he had, and my head was bowed in defeat. But then I heard one of the hostesses say, "Awww I’m sorry you were so close, but you didn’t win." My head jolted up just in time to see her slide the score sheet under a stack of otherwise unimportant papers, where it would never be seen again. The would-be-winner returned to his table somewhere on the other side of the restaurant, and the hostesses turned to me, winked, and said, "Congratulations! You won!" I suppose it was a combination of my good looks, charm, and their inability to perform simple addition that ultimately led to my victory, and leaving the restaurant with my 1st place prize of a 30-pound turkey in my arms.

Christmas day was great! Santa had brought each of us everything a kid could want. This year I realized that I’m becoming more of an adult because I liked seeing people open the presents I got them more than opening my own presents…Well maybe that’s not entirely true! I still really like opening my own presents, but it was genuinely enjoyable to watch my sisters and parents open the gifts that I had gotten them. Krystal got a board game that we could play as a family, Whitney got a CD and T-shirt from one of her favorite singers Lupe Fiasco, and since Emily is so into trying to scare people and play practical jokes on them I got her a remote control tarantula. See the video for her reaction. Us kids pulled our resources together and got our parents some really awesome presents. We got Dad an authentic game-ready USC football helmet. He was so surprised, and he loved it. We got Mom a poster-sized picture frame that had 40 slots for pictures. We filled in each slot with different pictures of each of us kids from when we were little. It turned out to be a lot of work and very time consuming, but in the end it was well worth our efforts.

So as 2009 comes to a close I can’t help but think that this year was a pretty good one for me. I did a lot. Some highs and some lows. Some excitement and stress, and a little day to day monotony. I lived, loved, and lost. At times I worked hard, and other times I hardly worked. In all I feel I that this past year has been worthwhile. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from keeping this blog it’s this: our lives, even the seemingly mundane happenings of day to day life, can be interesting and sometimes thrilling if we are able to recognize the tiny miracles that happen to us each day, and share the stories of these miracles with those around us. With that final thought I wish everyone a fantastic New Year, and encourage everyone to see their lives for what they really are: rewarding, interesting, and worthwhile.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Back!!!

Well it’s been quite a while since the last time I blogged. It’s really not my fault. I had the best intentions of continuing to log my misadventures, but school has a way of consuming most all of my free time. In reality it has been a relatively chill semester. I took the fewest number of credits (15) than I have ever taken in my entire college career. These few credits seemed even easier due to the fact that 3 were an open lab period that didn’t have a scheduled class meeting time, and a Conversational Italian class comprised 3 more credits. I aced the Italian class, not missing a single question on any quiz or test. In spite of my low workload I seemed to be busier than ever. Most of my time was spent working on my senior design project, which has been at times exciting and rewarding and at other times exhausting and arduous. The development of the project has been going well, and it has the potential to become a viable and marketable product.
Admittedly it hasn’t all be study and no play in the last few months.
I’ve had the chance to do and see some cool stuff. My second cousin came to the U.S. for 2 weeks to visit our family and see America, I went to see a monster truck ralley down in Hampton, VA, and I took the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) which is an exam that all potential grad students must take in order to be accepted by a Graduate Program.

Peter Comes to America: I’m not sure who had more fun while my cousin Peter was here, Him? Or us? We had made a list of "American Stuff" to do, and during his two weeks here we accomplished nearly everything that was on our list. We showed showed him "normal" American stores like Super-Walmart, Costco, and the mall. We went bowling and played LaserTag. We ate ice cream, pancakes, and lots of McChicken sandwiches from McDonalds. We showed him the Atlantic Ocean (he’d never seen the ocean in his life), and we toured the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He played Guitar Hero and even took a trip to the dentist. It was a blast for everyone. Here are some pictures from the action-packed two weeks.

Monster Jamz: One of my best friends from college, his family, and I went down to Hampton, VA (near the beach) to see a monster truck rally. It was nothing like I had ever seen before, so big and loud! Paul and his family are from Martinsville, Virginia which is considered "the country". Throughout the weekend Paul and his family were kind enough to introduce me to the finer points of Red-Neck, or to use the Political Correct terminology, Appalachian-American Culture! We went to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant, I got to experience Bass Pro Shop, and then the Monster Truck Rally! The pictures really say it all.

All of my finals were finished by December 9th but I couldn’t relax until I had taken one more test, the GRE. This test was probably the most important test that I had taken since the SAT. Since I’m a senior in college I’ve had to start contemplating my future. Among my future aspirations is the desire to obtain a Master’s degree in Bio-Engineering. I’d really like to study at the University of Utah. It’s highly ranked nationally (12th in the nation) and studying at the U would be exciting and give me the opportunity to have a change of pace by moving to Salt Lake. Because the U is so highly ranked and respected by most everyone (except those silly BYU fans) I needed a high score on the GRE in order to have any chance at getting in. I was pretty stressed out. I had practiced test questions all summer long, but during the school year I slacked off and didn’t do any real test preparation until two days before the actual test. Fortunately I was able to do very well! I got a 740 out of 800 on my math section (I really needed a high school on my math…it’s pretty much expected since I’m an engineering major) and I got a 550 out of 800 on my verbal section which isn’t too terrible. 1290 is a very good score, and along with my 3.94 G.P.A. I’m feeling a little bit better about my chances of getting into the U.

Who knows what these next few months will bring but I’ll try my best to document it as it happens.