Friday, November 18, 2016

Kansas City, I'm SO In Love.

I am VERY behind the times. I can't tell you how many times I've had the thought to update this blog with life adventures, but other things get the best of me--namely endlessly internet searching when I want to do nothing that requires serious thinking.

This post documents a trip I took to Kansas City, Missouri way back in September (guys. thanksgiving is DAYS away--which means gilmore girls!). I went with students from the MPA program for a conference. I love exploring different parts of the U.S., and I really did fall in love with Kansas City. 
We had sort of a turbulent flight, but the lover of natural disasters in me was such a fan. Flying through a lightning storm is the greatest.

On Sunday, we visited Church History sites. For those who may not be familiar with LDS Church History, Independence, MO was home to a big community of Mormon Settlers in the early 1800s. There was a great deal of persecution that the early Saints experienced here, culminating in an extermination order and Joseph Smith being thrown in jail. Despite the sad-rimmed history here, Missouri still has a special spirit about it.
^^Hotel roommates!
The Entrance to Liberty Jail, a.k.a. where Joseph Smith was incarcerated
Kansas City Temple also, how many MPAs does it take to work a selfie stick?
Fancy photos before a fancy dinner we had Sunday evening.
^^This wall is apparently an Instagram hotspot in Kansas City. I had found an article listing it as an Instagram worthy spot, and we just so happened to walk past it on the way to a burger joint.

Okay, if you've been a faithful reader of my blog, you know I have a special affinity for baseball. Way back in 2012 (pre-mission) when I was in Living Legends, my family came to see our show in Nauvoo, IL, BUT they also went to see a Cardinals and Royals game...without me. Yeah, it still stings. 

So, this time around there was NO way I was going to miss a ballgame this time around so I found really cheap (but surprisingly great) tickets on Stubhub, worked out a way to get from our hotel to the à la public transportation, and convinced people to come with. 

Last ballgame of the season, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience!
^^This is a face of genuine happiness on my face because of the beauty that is below.
^^french fries + pulled pork + onions + bbq sauce + pickles + sweet corn (because I asked told the vendor the program guy had told me should would hook it up, and she did!) +jalapeños (my addition).  BEST. BALLPARK. FOOD. EVER.
^^I die every time I see this picture!
^^We made friends with the sweetest Black women working at the Ice Cream parlor. I may or may not have started some feisty words though because I made a comment about how I wasn't a chocolate fan. "How you gonna not like chocolate, but then you gonna order cookies n' cream." It all went downhill from there. There was laughter, banter, some mmmhhhhms, but my favorite part was when a worker I had made friends with said, "Leave my friend alone! She's from Utah, we're probably related!" Ha! If only she had known the truth—Straight Outta Compton. 

Kansas City was a dream. I only wish I had had more time to eat at all the barbecue places, and explore the museums, and Adam Ondi Ahman, and more instagram walls (kidding). But really, I need to go back to Kansas City, if for nothing more than those beautiful pulled pork french fries at the ballgame. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Land I Love.

Early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and while a majority of my friends on Facebook (and really all of social media) are expressing sadness and anxiety, I'm genuinely excited for our country.

We're entering unchartered territory.

America had become complacent in her politics. I hope that having what is being regarded by many as a radical-unprecedented choice as President, will force us to have the conversations we've been too scared to have. It's not that I think Hillary wouldn't have addressed these issues, but I would dare to venture that we still would have felt "safe." Oh, sure, that's happening in THAT part of the country, but never here...

This election is a wake up call for ALL Americans.

The "unthinkable" has happened. A business mogul, reality TV star, who had no filter on his campaign trail has just been elected President. When Trump snagged the Republican party nomination I thought, "If California can have Arnold Schwarzenegger as a governor, then the United States can have Trump as President." (& I mean this solely in that both were celebrities without political experience)

But how? 
This just goes to show that we thought we were better off than we actually are as a nation. I hesitate to blatantly label all who voted for Trump 'racists or bigots.' No one enjoys having a scarlet letter plastered proverbially on their chests. Frankly, I don't think that's fair, but I do think that he was able to tap into the anger, resentment, fear, and frustration of a portion of the American constituency that feels forgotten and more importantly feels threatened.

How did we get here? How did we get to where we are? America, I hate to break it to you, but white privilege is still alive and well. We're still not quite at that point where everyone is on equal footing, and I'm not speaking as a socialist. We ALL have implicit biases engrained within us. I include myself in that group! (Take an implicit biases test here

Have you not seen the news (& I'm not talking CNN or Fox)? Have you not seen the footage of police brutality or heard the concerns of Black America? Have you not paid attention to the peaceful protests in North Dakota? America has deep-seated tensions that are reaching their boiling points. 

The thing is, we don't know our neighbor (& I'm not just talking the people who live next door--although, that is a possibility for some). We live in bubbles, and sometimes we self-segregate. We don't trust each other. I cringe when I see post-election Facebook posts calling for those in our circles who voted opposite from us to "please un-friend me." I'm sorry, but the way to make things better is not to build up our own personal walls. 

If we really want to see change, it's going to take some major growing pains. 

There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone. 

I often tell people that I want to move to the South someday, and I'm always shocked by the responses I get. Why would you want to move there? They're racists there. There's nothing there! It's poor, etc. etc. I will note that most of these comments I later discover are made by those who have never been to the south. This, America, THIS, is what we need to change.

We have fear of the unknown. I implore you, yes YOU, go out and visit the forgotten places of our nation. Let's visit places not because they're "trendy." Let us go on journeys of discovery of ALL that our great country has to offer. Millennials, we can still take trendy pictures, even in the Dakotas. I promise, there are people in the rural parts of the country who you are more similar to than you know.

I get that people are angry, but I worry that some of our anger is misplaced. Donald Trump did not start the hate in America. Sure, some of his comments might have added kindle to the fire, but the point is the hate has always been there. The mistrust in fellow humans is not a new thing. A politician did not teach us how to be unkind.

So, yes, let's make America great, but this time around let's be sure to include everyone.


I leave you with this as food for thought.