A New Blog

Hey everybody!  I know I know - I haven't posted in over half a year.  I don't know how much I'll be posting in the future, but I'm contemplating putting together a new blog about our life together.  So stay tuned!

In the meantime, life is wonderful and we are enjoying our time in New York.  I am working hard in school, and Xan has essentially turned our basement into a full-fledged photo studio.  You know what?  You should click the link to follow her blog!


True Love, and other things.

Wow it sure has been a while since I last posted!

I had big plans to post exciting things about Haiti, but then bigger plans came along!  Ladies and gentlemen, meet Xan Baker:

When I came home from Haiti, Xan was waiting for me at the airport.  We spent every free moment of our remaining summer together, and found ourselves falling in love.  Xan and I are engaged to be married on Thanksgiving weekend!  By the way, Xan gets credit for all these photos.

Xan's family is wonderfully brilliant, artsy, and quirky.  I fit right in.

We carved our names into a tree on our second date,

then played hard all summer, falling in love somewhere along the way,

...and later took our engagements in that same grove of aspens.  Xan calls them "quakies," which I love.

This one is my favorite.

* * * * *

Then a month ago, we stuck a polaroid in the dash,

and drove ourselves out to medical school in Rochester, NY.

This is where I live now, with all of Xan's stuff.  Our toasty town home.

While I work on medical school here, Xan is living spartan back in Salt Lake, planning our wedding and working her butt off, moving real estate.  She'll join me here after our wedding in Salt Lake City!

I always feel excited as summer gives way to fall, and this year that feeling is amplified tenfold - 10 weeks and 6 days and counting.


Haiti Series: Beginning

Now that I am back from Haiti, have an internet connection, and a lot of spare time on my hands, I am going to review my adventures and transcribe some of the best bits for you, from my journal.  My experiences here were life changing and quite astounding.  I hope you enjoy them!

21 May 2012

It has been one day and I am already exhausted.  I arrived in Port-Au-Prince alone, at about 8:45am.  I supposed I would be sharing my flight here with other volunteers in Sustain Haiti, but because I signed up so late, my flight was not the same.  My first experience in this country, I was alone at the baggage claim without a lick of French or Creole in my knowledge.  After locating my bags, I approached a group of lost-looking white people and asked if I could borrow a phone.  One of the girls consented, and I made two phone calls - one to my home to assure them I was safe and to get the number for my in-country director, and then a phone call to the aforementioned, Eric.  He was waiting just outside the terminal for me, and directed me to come on out!

We walked through a milling crowd of Haitians who all tried to help me with my bags, whom I refused, and then arrived at the back of the parking lot, where a small van filled with the other volunteers awaited us.  Seating was sparse, consisting of two benches made of 2x4s in the bed, with the rest of the room being taken up by our luggage.  I sat on a wooden plank wedged against the door and rested my forehead on the windowpane.  For three hours, we made the 18 mile trek to Leogane.  Wavering between exhaustion and nausea, I took in my surroundings.

Traffic is mayhem, people are stacked on top of each other, and crammed into every crevice between the grey rubble, garbage, and sewage.  Some places seem to be in good shape.  Others are absolutely filthy fields of garbage and refuse.

Although exhausted, I decided to spend the afternoon observing some of the work that Sustain Haiti does.  We took a "moto taxi" out to a community called Mellier (125cc modified Daihatsu motorcycles), where I watched Eric teach a business class.  At 5:30, we returned to Leogane and I watched a few ESL classes being taught, which I will begin helping with tomorrow.  These people are in dire need of help, but also need to be able to help themselves.  I am excited to get to work here, and hopeful that I will be able to make a difference!


Haiti: In the Thick of Things

It is 95 degrees and unbearably humid.  I am sweating straight through my scrubs.  Sweat is beading on all of our foreheads, and Matt and I are halfway through an inguinal hernia repair when the power goes out.  Good thing the surgeon chose to operate in a room with a window.  The surgery is a difficult one, and it's taking longer than we originally expected.  I've never had the opportunity to assist in surgery, but they've been shorthanded at L'Hospital de Sainte Croix for a while now, and they're happy for the extra hands.  It's all part of the experience.

Our days here start and end with an hour long english class, which is probably one of the most fulfilling experiences.  Some of us teach beginning classes, others intermediate and advanced.  I'm not sure which of us really knew what we were down when we first got down here, but after a week it seems like we have all hit our stride.  Some of the most hilarious answers have been "it is CAT o'clock" and "good alligator" instead of "good evening."  It seems like every Haitian wants to be your friend.  After class I am always swarmed by them, wanting to practice English.

Coming down to Haiti has already changed the way I view the world.  I was talking with other volunteers today, trying to decide how this experience has changed us, or is continuing to change us, and we can all agree that, for one thing, we'll all complain a whole lot less.  We are lucky in America, we have a lot.  Although there are times when we want to go home to something air conditioned and clean, most of the time we are happy here.  The people need us.  They need encouragement, and they need just a little knowledge to help them get back up on their feet.  I chose to come visit Haiti with Sustain Haiti because, out of over 10,000 NGOs, Sustain Haiti focuses on what I think matters most - giving education and constructive ideas to the people, allowing them to maintain their dignity, sever any reliance on handouts, and begin to rebuild their own lives by taking control.  There is honor in our work here


Just Around the River Bend...

Okay guys my summer is gearing up to be a wild and crazy one, no matter how you look at it.  I thought I'd drop in to my increasingly disused blog to let y'all know what I'm doing.

In my applications (and preparations for another round of them), I've decided to really beef up my extracurriculars this summer.  Although I seriously have the BEST job ever, I have decided I may need to take a break from it in order to pursue some other goals.  In lieu of working, I'll be spending (but spending responsibly, mind you).  I am going to Haiti.

This is not a vacation.  This will be a humanitarian aid trip with an organization called Sustain Haiti, which works mostly through BYU.  The scary thing is, this trip will leave me poor and without a job when I return.  It would be much easier to work my very sick-awesome job all summer, and then have a fat paycheck to spend on post-baccalaureate classes.  However, I don't get a lot of chances to get out of America and do a little good, so I think I'm gonna take this one.  Every once in a while, life gives you a chance to make some real changes.  I hope this is one of them.  It seems a little crazy to just drop everything and go, but sometimes that's what you have to do.  Wish me luck!


Dateability Series 2: Date a Girl With A Passion

Whenever I kiss a girl for the first time, my family inevitably finds out within hours (sometimes minutes, if my brother's ESP is especially strong).  According to tradition, when Sunday rolls around, the family gathers around the dinner table, subjects me to a series of probing questions as to the nature of the relationship and the kiss, and then demands ice cream.  A couple weeks ago, I served my family a (past due) rocky-road-plus-blackberries... oh and did I tell you?  The ice cream must describe the nature of the kiss and the type of girl.  So here is my advice of the day:

Never kiss a vanilla.

Vanilla is safe.  It's sweet, delicious, classic, and you can't blame anybody for loving it.  But it's also pretty boring.  Who walks into Baskin Robbins (31 flavors!) and orders vanilla? Just because they carry it, doesn't mean you should eat it.  They have daiquiri ice, moose tracks, rocky road, white chocolate raspberry truffle, cake batter, bubblegum, pralines and cream, or for the less adventurous, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc. etc. etc.  Everybody tries vanilla, sure, because you have to start somewhere, but nobody sticks with it forever - because you start to crave a little more flavor.

So it is with relationships.  More fun with flavor.

Enough cannot be said about the attractiveness of a girl pursuing her passions, who excels at something.  People who are learning, growing, changing all the time are those who bring an added excitement, vigor, and brightness to life.  Sing, hike, ski, snowshoe, act, travel, dance, play an instrument, or a sport.  Do all of them, or none - but be honest with yourself about whatever your talents are, and bring those to the table in your relationships.

These kind of things not only make you happy, but more interesting too.

Last year, one of my roommates dated a hot-little-southern-cajun-half-asian-spitfire who dreamed of working public relations for the New Orleans Saints.  Holy smokes was that girl a lot of fun.  Even in Provo, where it is so easy to blend in with the masses of other extremely talented, brilliant, righteous, active, fun-loving college co-eds, this girl stuck out like a magnolia in a mud patch.
One minute she'd be hollerin' about a recent Saint's loss, or how much she hates Scrubs, and the next she'd gush "well ain't you as cute as a speckled pup in a red wagon!"  And her love of football... well really it transcends all description.  Life with lil' Breesiana around was certainly never dull, and I think we could learn a real good lesson from her - Life, and relationships is more fun when you

Find what you love, then simply do it.


Dateability Series 1: Date a Girl With A Voice

One of my biggest fears is that I'll marry a girl, and sometime before we grow old, grey, and too deaf to hear each other anyways... the conversation will run out.

So to kick off the dateability series, I say date a girl with a voice.  I love a girl with a voice, and my friends agree!  Mostly, I mean that we boys love a girl with opinions, who thinks about the things she sees, and expresses her thoughts both freely and candidly.

Let's start with the dark side of this post.  Too often, I find myself in conversation with a girl and suddenly I can tell she's thinking "I hope this conversation is going well!"  And then BAM.  There we are, smiling stupidly at each other, and while I'm thinking of ways to keep that conversation going she's still really focused on hoping the conversation is going well instead of actually contributing to the conversation and so the conversation actually goes like this:

(Disclaimer:  All conversations and persons in this blog are fictitious.  Any representation of any specific people or persons, real or otherwise, is not intentional.)

Me: So how is school?
Her: (smiling) Good!
Me:  (thinking: oh boy. it's gonna be one of these conversations again.  Turn on blinker.  Drive cautiously through intersection.  Resume conversation.) Awesome! Are you loving your classes?  Any you're excited about this semester?
Her: School's good.  But, you know, it's school.
Me:  Indeed.  To be honest, I kind of miss school. (I can feel this conversation getting dangerously close to a dead end, but thankfully so is my car, as it pulls up to her house.)  Are you working as well?
Her:  Nope.
Me: ... (grasping at straws) So... home sweet home!
Her:  Yep!

...Well you get the idea.  Not one of those dates where you sit in the driveway and talk for an hour afterwards.

Date a girl with a voice.  Date a girl with opinions.  Because to do so is to sign up for at least one evening of stimulating conversation.  Maybe a lifetime if you're super lucky.  Even if you don't make it to date number two, you go home that night thinking about stuff.  You may even find yourself making up funny new words, like "skankapades" (a term for escapades of a dubious nature), and "snarkasm" (snarky sarcasm).  The laughs are even better than the kissing.  It's true.  Girls, if you're reading this, here is my (probably unwarranted) advice - don't be afraid to speak up!

Even if your vocalizations reveal that you are not the particular type or flavor of person that the boy is looking for, anything is better than a drab vanilla who mindlessly agrees with everything the boy says.  You are not meant to be walked on!  Disagree sometimes!  You may be surprised at how effectively this throws a boy off his balance.  Puts you back in control.  Makes him like you a little more.  Show off your brain - and the only way you can do it is by opening your mouth.