Tuesday, November 8, 2011

my name is latu and i am a high school drop out

when i was 11 years old, i was in the 6th grade. my teacher was named mrs. day. she was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, first year teacher. looking back now, i am sure she was convinced she would conquer the world, one impressionable child at a time. she started out the school year by letting us know she had driven by our houses the week before. there was no explanation or justification. she just let that loom in the air. i knew for a fact my house was the most ghetto in the class. i was the only one in my class from the poor area in our school boundary. the other kids were from richer neighborhoods slash were rich. :) at least to a poor 11 year old!

mrs. day paid me lots of attention, right from the beginning of the year. the unfortunate thing is that the last thing i wanted as an 11 year old was attention from my teacher. at the time, i felt like she hated me and picked on me. if there was a teacher's pet (which there most definitely was) i was the opposite. while other children had the opportunity to turn in assignments late, the teacher was very strict about the late assignment policy with me. i spent countless reward days or holidays working by myself in another classroom, unable to participate in whatever the class was doing. i was not disrespectful; i was still much too young to understand that i could do what i wanted at school, even if the "rules" forbade it.

on a field trip, the class waited in line to get our sack lunches out of the box. when my turn came in the line, i grabbed my lunch, rather than wait for her to hand it to me. she thought that was proof that i cut the line, and made me go to the back; ignoring my pleas that it was really my turn. instead, i walked off and cried by myself. i didn't eat lunch that day. i was so embarrassed and felt so hopeless because she hadn't even listened to me. i wrote book reports about books i had read, and was told the books were too childish for a 6th grader (at least one of them was a book i read with my friend in the class. it wasn't too childish for her) i was often not allowed to go to computers, as i was behind on my work. i wasn't allowed to check out reading books for the same reason (i needed to focus more on my school work)

one chilly day, i forgot an assignment at home. terrified that i would not be able to turn it in late, i decided to run home and grab the assignment. i was 20 minutes late, and the teacher took me outside to talk about my "attendance problem". mind you, i was a naive 11 year old CHILD. i was trying, and it did not seem like she saw it at all. i had no idea that you could stand up for yourself to adults, that everything they said was not gospel truth. i didn't know that i could tell my mom what all was going on, how i felt about this teacher, how much i hated school. i really just thought that if your teacher hated you, you were so outta luck.

in my eyes, that teacher was evil. i came to hate her. during christmas break, i envisioned creative ways i could have a class change. i plotted ways to get her to like me, but in the end i basically gave up. i endured the last half of the year, but i hated every moment of it. school stopped being fun and became monotonous and a punishment. recess was my only solace, and i became depressed. for the first time in my life, i was failing at something. i hated the feeling and i hated the teacher.

that feeling moved on with me from 6th to 7th grade. 7th grade was a ridiculously hard grade for me. but, rather than dutifully attend, i began to just sleep through my morning classes. in one term (with about 45 days) i had 27 absences and 16 tardies in my first period class. it became painfully obvious that i had not learned anything in math or science from 6th grade. this sounds really dramatic, but i truly feel that 6th grade year set the stage for the rest of my academic failure. i struggled all through 7th and 8th grade. 9th grade was better, but only because i had one amazing teacher. and high school. let's not get into high school or the reasons i dropped out with three packets to complete and in the last week of school my senior year.

the point is that until my 6th grade year, school was fun. it was a place that i excelled at, a place i felt safe. after my 6th grade year, my perspective changed and school became a punishment. i did not see the point in trying anymore. i know that a lot of people feel basically the same way, but a lot of people did not have the experience i had with mrs. day. no matter the argument, 6th grade changed my life.

a few years ago, my mom filled in some blanks for me in the mrs. day story. i guess during a parent-teacher conference (no, not the ones where you bring your parents into the classroom and show off your desk and artwork. the kind where you stay outside the classroom and your mom meets with the teacher by herself) mrs. day let my mom know that she felt i was not living up to my potential. thus, she (as a first year teacher with no children) decided she would "push latu" so that i could meet my potential. i don't know what exactly she was pushing me towards, but you can be sure that, as a high school dropout and (now) statistic, i did not meet her potential. i have thought for a long time that i didn't hate her, but i would mos def tell anyone who asked what a bad teacher she was. i guess no one's asked yet. i am just telling anyways.

knowing this has put so many things into perspective. mrs. day hadn't hated me. i was just her project. i am sure she saw me as the perfect storm; minority, poor, a girl. she was going to change my life. she was a brand-spanking new teacher, and she already had found the perfect project child. while i am sure her intentions were good, she truly did not understand me or anything about basic child psychology. she did not understand the damage you can do a child by making them a failure. by planting the seeds of hopelessness and despair in a child. i am one of the 10.3% of american high school students that dropped out in 2004. quite the statistic to be proud of.

i never saw mrs. day after 6th grade. i believe she moved out of state because her husband had finished school. i strongly feel like if mrs. day wanted children she could "push" toward their potential, she should have taught high school. at least those kids know for sure that adults are not perfect.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

stupid cancer

hi. my name is latu and i'm an obsesser. i obsess about basically everything, but at any given time, i have a huge obsession that occupies most of my time. depending on the time, it's been different things. this summer, i obsessed about my school schedule for the fall. i ended up making over 2,000 changes to my schedule. and i only knew that because the system locked me out as i was trying to make even more. i had to go into school and talk to the director of something (and by talking to her, have to deal with her biotch of a secretary, who was wearing a waaaay too short skirt...) and find out that i broke the system by making over 2,000 changes in a single semester... i was the second person to ever do it. i felt awesome :)

my current obsession is brain cancer. i constantly troll through blogs and websites, looking for brain cancer stories. i have subscribed to a brain cancer mailing list and get updates on various people and their brain tumors. one thing that has amazed me since joining is the sheer amount of people who have been absolutely crippled by brain cancer. i read heartbreaking stories (and even more heartbreaking obituaries) about people who had their first brain tumors years and years ago or people newly diagnosed. the most harrowing was a girl my own age, who had medulloblastoma-- the same type of cancer as masey--when she was 3. back then, she was an absolute miracle because she made it out of surgery and was studied by doctors around the country because she made it past the 5 year mark from diagnosis.

as a result of her treatments, this girl was severely mentally retarded, paralyzed from the waist down and suffered many health problems including heart failure, seizures, the loss of both kidneys and a subsequent transplant, and a liver transplant, to name a few. you see, back when she received the ground-breaking treatment that saved her life, doctors did not really understand the late-effects of large amounts of radiation to the brain of a toddler. they did not understand that in order to avoid damage to organs like the kidneys and liver, chemotherapies could not be given alone. they need adjuvants to off-set some of the effects. in some cases they just did not know that besides curing cancer, radiation and chemotherapy causes cancer.

this girl was a miracle. she survived the draconian cancer practices back then, but she most definitely paid a price for that survival. she died peacefully in her sleep last month after being diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) a secondary cancer that came as the result of treatment of her original brain cancer. the world of childhood cancer treatments have made leaps and bounds since this girl underwent her first treatment, but it still has leaps and bounds to go.

since masey started his cancer journey, i have been humbled and so grateful for the faceless masses who went before. for the children who found out the hard way that radiation to the brain can cause mental retardation. for the children who have lost kidneys because cysplatin was the only option to kill their brain tumors. for the children who have gotten aml from cytoxan. for the children who suffered the agony of a brain tumors before we knew that steroids would reduce the swelling and pain. for all the children who have gone before. these children have been a constant thought in my mind. without knowing, without consenting, their experiences have silently effected masey's experience.

i am constantly grateful for those children. after hearing the girl my age's experience, the silent horde of children has a face. has a story. is so much more real.

today, mason is not free from the side effects of cancer. he'll never get the hearing back he lost. he has the potential to lose more. the years to come may bring with them learning disabilities. he may never move beyond a 4 year old's mental development. we will always cringe when mri time comes around or when he throws up or gets a headache. the fear will be a constant companion. masey will never get back the childhood he's missing while he spends his days quarantined in the safety of our house or in a hospital bed. he will wear emotional scars for his whole life. a part of his personality will be forever changed. there is still the potential for heart, kidney, liver problems or secondary cancers.

but he is here. my little bestie is here. anything else that comes along for him is absolutely do-able. and i'm sure he'll do it with his same smile and carefree attitude. it's nothing compared to what he's already done.

cancer happened. cancer sucks. but our lives will go on.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

people talk

so, i feel like all humans have the desire to talk. maybe not talk, but communicate. they want to connect with other humans and allow the thoughts in their minds to find legs and walk to the person next to them. whether it is a baby crying, a person so sick that all they can do is squeeze a hand or blink their eyes, we want to be connected to the world. a lot of the time, i feel like this blog is my connection to the world.

sometimes, i just want to communicate. i don't care that no one reads or responds. i don't care that my words are not profound or world-changing. i just want to communicate. a lot of the time, the things i have to say are really hard to say. so i write them. when i am in the mood, words flow out of my fingers like water. it's a hard sensation to describe; it just happens. i always sit down to the computer, or in the rare instances i am without one, a piece of paper. and i write. i never know what will come out, and it never ends up the way i think it will at the beginning, but i write like my life depends on it.

when i write, i feel a connection to the real world. a connection to the whole world. there is just something so liberating and exciting about knowing that anyone in the world can read what i have to say. maybe they'll completely agree and i will find my life twin. maybe they'll hate what i have to say. maybe they'll never even read it. but, i like knowing that they have the possibility is out there.

i guess that is why i blog. i am not a huge fan of sharing my thoughts and emotions with people (unless i am mad, in which situations i should work on not sharing) i am not the person who seeks out anyone to talk to, other than my mother. i don't like that type of interaction. but i love blogging. i am basically guaranteed no one will read it, but at the same time everyone can. it's like the best of both worlds.

that being said, i have noticed a ridiculous amount of people coming to me to confide in me lately. i am not sure why, but that thought spawned this post. so, you're welcome, world!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

fires and Jesus fish

so, i decided to spend my precious break from school by visiting my grandpa in malad. it was AWESOME!! in every way. well, except one. while i was there, my computer decided to burn up. no, like literally started smoking/a fire. luckily (can you really call that luck. maybe a blessing) it was not until about 90 seconds after i walked into the room (for the first time that day) and picked it up that it decided to self destruct. it was like 2 am, and my grandpa was long asleep, so i did the most logical thing i could think of. i called pene, then began to tear that sucker apart. i mostly wanted to see what exactly had started the fire, and just what my laptop looked like in general. that plan kind of sucked, though. all of the tiny screws on the bottom of the laptop were stripped (it's entirely possible that i stripped them myself with a giant screwdriver....) so i resorted to prying different compartments open with a screw driver.

it was a pretty long process, and in the end i stopped because i got paranoid that i would die of mercury/lead poisoning. i had known the computer was dying, it was pene's for like two years before i ever got my hands on it, but it was still bittersweet. i had just mastered the perfect angle/pressure i had to apply to the screen to get it to work. i had mastered the hold to apply if the fan stopped working, or if the internet went in and out. I knew the exact amount of time to let it warm up before attempting to actually do anything on it, and the specific angle to plug in the charger to ensure an actual charge. r.i.p., heavy, old, slow laptop. i'm trading you up.

in other news, apparently one poster on ksl listened to my advice. i bought a car this weekend. it was marvelously cheap, passed inspection and emissions, has a "noise", leaks transmission fluid and engine oil. it was probably a drug car, as all of the door panels are broken and there is no fabric stuff on the ceiling. it smells of smoke, and had an ashtray FULL of cigarette butts (who knew people still used ash trays??) it's got rust and a born again type Jesus fish on the trunk (wow, that may be offensive) speaking of the trunk, the lock cylinder has been taken out, and i cannot figure out how to open it without it. if anyone feels like they want to assist, feel free to let me know. despite any of that, it was quite a steal, and i kinda like it. or, i will like it once i get a strong enough air freshener to convince myself it was not smoked in. if i had a smart phone, or a camera phone, i would take a picture. if anyone is interested, google "1995 ford taurus" and then imagine the results without a shiny paint job (dark green, or maybe dark blue)

let's see... i also spent a week with my sister talia's kids. because she has marvelous flight benefits, she spent the week in seattle, making earrings, seeing les mis, going to this sweet lady's baby shower, and sleeping for outrageous amounts of time, from what i hear. at home, i enjoyed eating out every night, braving chucky cheese's (what can i say, i needed a good bribe) and just playing the role of stand-in mother.

i found a job (two, actually...) and need to go to the dermatologist. i have a big old mole just under my left eyebrow, and i am now convinced it is cancerous (drama much?) so, i am going to need to have it cut off/biopsied. this sounds vaguely familiar... :)

um, i guess that is all for now...i don't expect i will be posting much this semester, i am taking 18 credits and working 1.5 jobs. peace out, peeps!  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An open letter..

To the 40,612 people with car ads on KSL tonight:

So, you are wanting to sell your car? Getting married, joining the army, going off to school, need the money, got in an accident, bought a new one, found out you were cheated and want to turn the tables? Whatever your reason, good job finding KSL. The entire world that is Utah commerce runs on KSL. You're bound to find a buyer. Here are just a few pointers, which I have compiled during my own search for a used car.

First and foremost: the CARS section of KSL is for cars which are for sale. We do not care to hear the sob story about why you need a van that seats 12, runs perfectly and has a wheelchair lift for $50 or less. We do not care that you are looking for a specific shade of lime green VW Bug. We do not care that you are selling your awesome tires/system/floor mats.  There are wanted/auto parts sections for posts like that.

If your car payment is over $500/month, what on earth makes you believe someone on KSL wants to take over payments rather than go out and buy their own new, overpriced car?

If your car needs the following, it cannot be said that your car "runs great":
head gasket
fuel pump
catalytic converter
gas tank
ball joints
tie rods

The phrases "runs great" and "needs work" are mutually exclusive. Related is this: If you put a phrase like "needs work" or "needs TLC" in your ad, explain!! It will take you literally moments of your life.

Your totaled  car without a scrap of still-smooth metal, is not worth $1,000. Even if the engine (which appears to have gone through a metal crusher) were working, it is not worth $1,000.

You are attempting to sell an item worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Would it kill you to a) post pictures and b) post non fuzzy, actually useful ones?  Related, if your ad contains phrases like "will post pics soon" or "as you can see from the pics" and you have not put up pictures, you really are just looking stupid.

A car does not "run great right up until it wouldn't start this morning". There were warning signs. You are just too uneducated to have spotted them, or think we are stupid enough to believe you.

Your transmission/engine/tires/ball joints are not "new" or "just replaced" after 76,000 miles.

No matter how many flowery, happy words you use, $1,500 is not a "newly lowered price" for a 1967 VW Beetle without an engine or tires.

Your car is not worth blue book. End of story. I am not kidding. End of story.

If you have posted your ad more than 10 times in the past few days and no one has called, your car may be overpriced. Please stop posting it until you lower your price (see above advice before determining a price)

So, you got duped into paying $1,500 for a 1988 Corolla that needs a new transmission and head gasket? I am sorry. Not because you were duped, but because you believe you can dupe another buyer into the same trap. Unfortunately, from my experience you may be correct.

It is irrelevant that you have put over $5,000 into the car in repairs the last year. We will all assume everything you do not tell us is broken, works. Your car's value does not increase by the amount you put into it.

In contrast, your car's price should decrease according to the amount of work required to pass safety/IM. People who recognize this are not low balling you. Please stop amending your ads to discourage "low ball offers".

O.B.O. means or best offer. This is an optional phrase. Do not use it unless you are willing to accept less than the list price.

Your 1957 Dodge truck does not get 35 mpg. Please stop trying to make jokes.

The car's in SEATTLE?? W.T.F.?!?! I really have no idea why you are posting on KSL. There are plenty of overpriced, under-performing cars here in Utah.

"I don't have the title, but it is legit" is about the LEAST legit phrase I've ever read in a posting. Possibly illegal, even.

Lastly, if you state in the ad that you prefer to be called/texted/emailed, please be sure that your preferred type of contact info is provided in the ad. "TEXTS ONLY" is only possible when you leave your number. If you want a phone calls only and insist on screening your calls, please clean out or set up your mailbox. Both of those notices are rather annoying to hear from an automated voice.

My fellow KSLers, I really do wish you good luck. I hope that you find the perfect car or the perfect buyer.

Also, thanks for immediately applying my advice to your current and future ads,


(If there is any doubt as to the legitimacy of the advice above, please spend a few days/weeks trolling KSL for a car and get back to me. But, don't say I didn't warn you)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


well, it's been a while since i have posted (again) so i figured i'd throw in a catch up post. i've been pretty busy lately, mostly with school. i have an astronomy class this block and an online english class. i hate/love them both. i hate my astronomy class because the teacher is old school. the kind of old school that assumes everyone is taking his class for the intrinsic educational benefit, not merely to satisfy a general requirement. what this means is lots of homework. and really hard tests. don't get me wrong, astronomy is basically the most fascinating class ever, but it is annoying when i have so much homework. i love that my english class is online and i do not have to commit to a specific class time. i hate that it is online and i do not have to commit to a specific class time :) i realized that i do not have the willpower or the desire to take online classes. i need the accountability of a teacher, physically present, to do well.

i also have decided/realized that it is time to get a job. i cannot justify not having one anymore, and need to be able to have money, honey! no, but for reals, i need a job. :) if you know anyone hiring part time, afternoon work, in orem or northern provo, let me know! i'm down for anything except traveling far :)

i got a puppy. i have always wanted one. i figured it was something i would do when i got married and had some kids. well, seeing as i am officially closer to 30 than 20, i figure my days of waiting are over. as anyone who read about my dog dying knows, i am a new convert to lap dogs. i got a papillon/pomeranian/maltese mix. he looks suspiciously like chiefi, but really only because they are both fur balls. his name is captain, but i like to call him cappie. my dad calls him tevolo (devil) because he has one blue eye and one black. whatever his name, he is cute and i like the little fur ball.

i saw a show the other day that has really stuck with me. i don't really know why, except that it was incredibly sad/impressive.  it was about a mother grey whale and her baby who were being attacked by a pod of orcas/killer whales. the orcas attacked them for almost 4 straight hours before the mother and baby were able to swim close enough to shore that the orcas would not be willing to attack anymore. the orcas attack was pretty simple; swim down deep, then speed directly into the side/head of the baby, hoping to cause internal damage with the blows. another tactic was to just eat chunks of his fins while he was alive. you see, even a baby grey whale is too big for an orca to bite through. the most amazing part to me was at one point, the mother whale turned on her back and lifted her baby onto her stomach so the orcas could not hurt him anymore. i guess it is important to note that she could not breathe in this position and had not eaten for something like 9 months, while also nursing her baby. i was just so impressed with the mamma whale and her stamina, and intense will not only to survive, but to protect her young.

i got an anonymous facebook message from (presumably) a treatment girl the other day. she's apparently a pretty angry person. the entire message was pretty long, but the theme of it was an effort to make me mad. she said basically every hurtful thing she could think to say (things like she hopes mason dies, she wonders when my dad will die of his heart problems, my mom needs braces, i'm fat, etc) but all while reading it, i could not help but feel sorry for her. here was this girl who, no matter what she was trying to convince me in the message, was insanely unhappy with her life. her solution to her unhappiness was to write me an anonymous message, from a fake account, and try to make me angry. i really don't know what i ever did to her to make her so mad, and maybe it was nothing. either way, she found an outlet in me. as annoying as it was to get that message, i actually hope she sends me another, the next time she gets mad. maybe being able to vent at someone will keep her from doing something self-destructive.

one more random story. i rode the bus/trax to see my sister yesterday. when i got on the train in sandy, i was the only one in the car and started reading. just a few minutes later, i looked up as 8 or 10 guys sat down in the seats in front of me. not really a huge deal, except these guys all had white t-shirts and had shaved heads. long story short, they were straight out of the prison. a few were completely discharged (i guess that means done with their sentences), but most of them were newly paroled. it made for an interesting ride for a bit, especially the part where a possibly drunk guy began yelling about them just getting out of prison.

anywho, i guess this is as good as most of my monthly posts :) i guess i'll give some more details about the job search later. i've got a few interviews tomorrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

my dog died

this is chiefi about a year ago. we'd had him for about 8 months and i still called him wicket (like the ewok) because i thought it was a more fitting name.

i'll spare you from seeing a picture of chiefi yesterday. it was heartbreaking. you see, chiefi got ran over by a car on state street.

i always figured people whose dogs died were just being dramatic. i've sent dogs to the pound before or given them away. it can't be that different, right? WRONG!! oh my goodness, for all of you out there who have had dogs die, i am sorry i judged you. this is one of the most sad things that has ever happened to me. i feel like a person died. like my little brother. i keep expecting to see him or hear the little jingle of his tags when he runs around the house.

chiefi and i had a love-hate relationship, and it was becoming more and more love lately. literally in the last three weeks, chiefi has been growing up. he's not as obnoxious and listens. if you opened the door a month ago, chiefi would bolt out of it like his life depended on his freedom from the house. these past few weeks, he would sit at the threshold until you called him out. he barked at everything, but was also terrified of everything. lately, he's been barking only at actual threats, and actually single-handedly chased a huge dog out of our backyard (that coco completely missed). he was always affectionate, but has been less needy lately. he really was just a cute dog.

i am convinced that chief is the reason coco is still alive today. she was getting depressed and slowing waaay down 18 months ago, before we got chief. the day we brought him home, it was like coco was a new dog. she had been given a breath of life. chief kept her young. i never imagined chief would die before coco. i envisioned us as owners of just a small dog once coco died. this is so backwards.

beyond all that, chiefi was the only thing mason wanted in the hospital. when he had just come out of two surgeries and was uber depressed, mason cried for his puppy. and the hospital obliged. we were given special permission for chiefi to come visit mason, and it made mason's whole week. he smiled for the first time in weeks and it was a turning point in his treatment. he was up and walking again and out of the hospital in amazing time.

a few weeks ago, my dad fell into the lake. chiefi played the role of lassie, freaking out until my dad was safe back on shore. chiefi was my dad's forever companion. he would cry if my dad left without him.

i guess, needless to say, chiefi will always have a soft spot in my heart. when we first got him, i was convinced i hated him because i don't like little dogs. chiefi changed my mind about little dogs forever. he was a sweet dog, and fiercely protective and loyal.

he had gone outside with coco on friday night and never came back. around 2 am, me and coco roamed a one mile circle around our house, calling for chiefi and whistling, carefully stopping to listen for the jingle of his collar. after over an hour of driving around, i gave up and came home. my hope was that someone had found him late at night and would bring him home at a normal hour. the next morning, on the way to mason's curesearch walk, my mom and sister (with mason in the car) saw him, dead on the road.

when i got the call, i did not believe it. chiefi never went farther than the next door neighbor's house. he was too scared, and would come bounding back any time coco did. i convinced vili to drive by, just so i could see for myself. what i saw was heartbreaking. i was shocked, could not believe i was really seeing our chiefi with his innards no longer in. we got a shovel and bag, and brought him home for the last time. my dad could not even talk to us, he was so upset.

i wish i could say that we had a funeral service; that we buried him in a way that signified our love for him and gratitude for his role in our lives. unfortunately, none of us could bare looking at him. burying him was just one step too far in the grief cycle. so, we put him in the garbage can and he was taken by the folks at waste management to the dump. i like to think that was better than leaving him on the road, to continue to be ran over until someone else finally got around to scraping him up and taking him to the dump. at least the ones who did the scraping loved that dog.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

phones in pipes

so, today i am sitting in the exact same room as i was when i started this blog just about 4 years ago.typing on the exact same computer. i had watched the slow, sad decline that is leukemia and it culminated in my grandmother's death. pretty sad setting for this post, right? well it's not all going to be sad. at least, i don't think so. my grandma was not a sad person. she was full of life and happiness and jokes. oh, she was full of jokes. but she was also full of words. i know i've talked about her newsletter before, but man, that woman could express herself! i have a blog that i struggle to post on monthly, and she pumped out 6 page newsletters every week.

it was an awesome time to be in my family. we all knew the intimate details of one another's lives and we were closer as a family for it. i know that every family slowly shifts apart as more generations are added, focuses change, etc. but, it is sad for me to see it with my own! it seems like just yesterday we were getting together for family reunions, my sister (the first granddaughter to marry) was getting married, we had just one or two in-laws at the family functions. today, i only have two uncles who are not grandparents (one of them doesn't have kids, so i don't know if i should even count him) don't get me wrong; i love the in-laws! they make all the adorable chicklets running around possible. but, i also miss the days when we were able to be closer, when our relationships were the tender ones that needed to be nurtured. i miss the newsletters. maybe i just miss my grandma.

tonight, my grandpa asked me to type something up for him. usually, this was my grandmother's task. she would get instructions from him and come into the computer room and furiously type away until she got it done. she was such a cute secretary and grandma. there are a lot of times when i find myself feeling sorry for my cute grandpa. usually in our family, it's the man who goes first. we're a family of many generations of widows. i guess leukemia had it's own opinion about that.

anywho, as i sit here, dead tired from all the pre-4th of july festivities, i can't help but imagine what it would be like if grandma was here. i am sure i would be in the kitchen, chatting with her and getting advice about my life. the dishwasher (or dishwarsher if grandma was saying it) would be running in the background. i would be joined by cousins and maybe an aunt or two. maybe we'd be singing the kids to sleep while she accompanies on the piano. she'd be one of my speed dials, always ready when i need to talk. she'd congratulate me for taking my pills faithfully every day and encourage me to be more outgoing. i would be sitting with her in the computer room, content to just sit while she types something important for my grandpa.

a lot of things would be different if my grandma were still alive. i've been told to get over it before. told that it is time to move on, too much time has passed. i have a lot of choice words for the person who said that. that woman was more than just the woman who gave birth to my mother. she was amazing. i really don't think you can possibly grasp how much she meant to me. tonight, i just miss my grandma.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ketsup, catsup

throughout mason's treatment, i have been amazed at the knowledge we have now. sure, it's not as much as we would like and i am sure there is a long way to go, but mason has been very blessed.

each time he gets a course of chemo, he also gets various adjuvants to help with some of the worse side effects. we know that with certain chemos, he needs to be monitored until it has left his system, he needs lots of fluids to prevent the chemo from gathering in his bladder and eating a hole through it, etc. every time a nurse or doctor explains something like that to us, i cannot help but feel incredibly blessed. there was a time when medulloblastoma meant death from ignorance. there was a time when it meant death on the operating table. there was a time when it meant organ failure and hearing aids. suddenly, the side effects mason has to worry about are not seeming so bad.

i often think about the kids who found out the hard way that cisplatin causes kidney failure and hearing loss. i think about the ones who found out the hard way that cytoxan causes secondary aml and bladder cysts. i think of the children that are the reason we know radiation to the brain causes severe learning disabilities. the ones who led us to know it also causes sterility. i like to think of them as the brave generation that came before. they were diving into this world of chemotherapy and radiation basically blind.

there are countless children who did not have it as good as mason. countless kids who unknowingly lost their lives to the pursuit of science. maybe the pursuit of science was their only option. there are still kids who have cancers that we don't know how to cure. i just think that childhood cancer is probably the cruelest invention ever. mason still has some pretty serious side effects to worry about, but he has been so blessed, it's hard to focus on those possibilities.

anywho, go here to find out how you can help mason and other cancer kids. a cure is what we need, and tomorrow is just not good enough for some of these kids.

Friday, June 24, 2011


well, i am at the hospital with mason and pene, he had a hearing test and now is waiting for chemo. right now, he's being evaluated for a study on the cognitive effects of radiation in small children. it's kind of fascinating, but it is like watching someone take the rorschach test. i can't help but wonder what the purpose of the questions he is being asked is. is it bad that i am totally rooting for him to get them all right? is there even a right answer?

masey's being asked to explain some words, and it's quite hilarious. here are some of his answers:
what do you know about glow: if you put a glow on a firefly, it will light up
hero: saves the day
castle: for princesses
swing: you could swing
shoe: it's a shoe. to keep your feet clean
letter: to send to someone
bike: to ride your bike around the neighborhood

i was going to make this post a lot more deep and philosophical, but i decided against it when mason started his answers. i feel like i have to add in that i saw a spot on a local show about a mother who dressed her kids up in stereotypical "indian" outfits when they visited the pueblo ruins. she thought it would put her kids in the mood for the history of where they were visiting. she's selling the kits, too. you know, in case you want your kids convinced that pueblo indians looked just like pocahontas on the disney movie. i think it's a little arrogant and very offensive. it's like dressing up as a "black person" to visit jamaica. if you want to teach your kids history, teach them actual history not stereotypes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


my name is latu. remember me?  it's been forever since i have posted anything, and it was forever before my last post. it's almost embarrassing. the issue is not having something to say. i have no fewer than 17 drafts that i have not posted, but written in the last three months. not drafts with a few words in them, but entire posts. i honestly cannot remember why i did not post them at the time, but now that i see them it is stressing me out. part of me wants to just hit post on all of them, part of me wants to delete them and forget they ever happened. that's about what i ever do when i feel overwhelmed. i get rid of the evidence :) avoidance is an awesome lifestyle!  anywho, today i am determined to post something. maybe not anything profound or worth reading, but i have got to post!

i've been doing a lot of thinking lately. i am taking an ethics class, and i have a 3-4 page paper due every day. not too rough for me; they're about ethical topics, so i just ramble like usual. i've never been known not to have an opinion! but, it has caused me to think. a lot. i guess uvu is shaping me into a more well-rounded person as we speak :)

one thing that's been on my mind a lot lately is the past. everyone has those moments in their life, where you suddenly realize that your world and life now occupies two different sides of an event. the before and the after. it can be a trivial event, like an amazing dinner. or it can be completely life-altering, like life and death. because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it is very hard to not look back at the before part of your life and feel nostalgic.

the city i live in used to be full of orchards, and called the provo bench. my backyard was once an orchard, and the guy who lived in my house was a geologist of some sort who collected hundreds of rocks. when i was younger, we were constantly finding rocks in our back yard. some of them were normal-looking, some were fascinating. each of them were a link to the before part of our house's history. sometimes, we'll get letters from random geological societies, addressed to whoever built this house. it's interesting to wonder about this house; it is about the same age as my parents, and it is obvious that some parts are additions.

the good old days seem to be so for most people. everyone (barring those with horriffic or traumatic childhoods) sees their childhood as an idyllic, innocent time. definitely better than nowadays. my great grandmother (the oldest relative i ever knew) felt like this, my grandmother felt like this, and i feel like this now. maybe the before, or our past, is just another example of how we're more alike than different.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

don't explain your life...

while talking to my sister the other day, she said something i have not been able to get out of my mind.

she pointed out that my dad has never been anything BUT tongan, thus he could not understand what it is like to try and figure out who he is.

a simple statement, but one that really struck me. i tend to think that my life situation is completely original, there is no one out there who understands what it is like to be me. call it left-over teenage angst, call it whatever you like. in one sentence, i realized how similar our childhoods must have been, my sister and i. we both had the same parents, lived basically the same places, but most importantly, we both had to decide who we were. what culture we more identified ourselves with and, most importantly, what that meant for our lives.

i felt a strange bond with my sister right then. beyond the bond of siblings, or best friends. we were suddenly in the fight of our lives, defining who we were and fighting racial struggles together. it was a dramatic moment, but i don't think i could have it any other way.

you see, this is a pretty sensitive subject for me. i spent my childhood knowing that i was tongan. living in hawaii, people always wanted to know exactly what my heritage was. it was a simple answer for me, "i'm tongan." and then they moved on to the hawaiian-portuguese-chinese-scottish-korean-filipino next to me. as i grew up, the answer to the question became more difficult for me. i started adding in the "half" to my response. suddenly, i went from having one culture to only half of a culture.

we moved to utah, and i continued to be half. i didn't feel like i could claim being white or being tongan. both answers felt like a lie to me. so, i avoided the question until high school, when i firmly decided i was not tongan. i was white. my mom was a girl from idaho, and my grandparents had just moved back to my grandpa's farm there. for the first time in my life, i could walk places that my ancestors walked. i could walk through a cemetary in idaho and find graves from my grandma to my grandpa's great grandparents. my grandparents moved into the house my great great grandpa built. there was family history everywhere. my heritage was suddenly accessible to me and i loved it.

i think another reason i decided i was white is that i was tired of people writing off behaviors or opinions of mine to my race. i was not stubborn because i was tongan. i am just a stubborn person. i wanted the world to know my white side so they could see that stubbornness runs in that blood, too. i didn't skip school because i was tongan. i did it because i was a teenager who was bored with the system. i believed racism was wrong not because i felt it as a tongan. but because i felt it as a white child, too white for some of my tongan relatives.

my dad's closest relatives, his sisters, were all half a world away in australia or new zealand. i became disconnected to that part of me, and wanted to prove to the world that i was not who they thought i was. so, i spent a long time refusing to be, or even act, anything but white. as far as i was concerned, i was just another white utah girl from utah. sure, most white people still saw me as the tongan girl, and i am sure some of them judged me by that assumption, or even made judgments on all tongans based on my behaviors. but i did not care. i knew i was white, and nothing they could say would change it.

then, slowly, a change began to happen. i got into contact with some of my first cousins in aussie land after high school. before i knew it, i was on a plane halfway across the world to australia. for the first time in my adult life, i was acting tongan, doing tongan things and around tongan people. for the first time in my life, i was meeting my tongan family. i was among not just relatives, but CLOSE relatives. i started to rethink some things that i had believed so firmly about myself.

i am not really sure when the change completely happened, and i am sure i am not done changing. but, at this moment in my life, i have never been more content with myself.

i know that i am half tongan and half white. i know that to most of the world, this knowledge means a completely different thing than it does for me. but, for me, i'm ok being both. i am ok with the tongans who think i do certain things because i am white. i am ok with the white people who think i do certain things because i am tongan. and i am even ok with all the other halfs out there, who think i do certain things because i am half. i am overwhelmed with grattitude for the people out there who think i do certain things because i am me. who don't need a cause beyond that.

i know who i am, and i don't really need the world's approval for it anymore. maybe more importantly is that i don't want the world's approval anymore.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the water's always changing

i found this post in my drafts, and decided to post it. i posted a revised version not long after i wrote this, but have decided i like this one a whole lot, so i'm posting it!  (also, the new job i mention at the end is no longer new, and no longer my job. i am now a full time student :)

once upon a time, i worked as a tracker for a junior high. i had two full time jobs, but the tracker job was my favorite. it was usually pretty chill compared to my other job, and i loved being so busy.

one day, though.

that day was horrible. it was just one thing after the other. i was physically tense, and so aggravated. i had to go into the auditorium, so i opened the door, turned on the house lights and just stood there.  all i was aware of was the a/c humming away in the background. the rest of the world faded away, and i could literally feel my tension level drop. it was like pulling the plug in a drain.

well, hours didn't pass. minutes didn't even pass. it was literally moments before i was completely calm. even thinking back on it now calms me down. i was so amazed at the turnaround, but i could not explain it. it wasn't until a few weeks later, when i was stressing out that i realized why that room worked miracles.

i ducked back into that room again and promised myself i'd only stay a few minutes. but then i stayed for a while. i lost track of time, it could have been hours but was probably a few minutes. it was then that i realized how calming white noise is. it cancels out other noises and provides a smooth baseline. hearing the humming of the white noise helps to slow my heart rate and loosens up my entire body.

it truly works miracles for me.

since that day, i've looked for other calming places. at my old job, we had timeout rooms that i loved to be in. you could hear the hum of the fans and be alone. i was recreating that day in the auditorium.

i've realized that water has the same effect. it calms me. listening to it cancels out all of the drama, all of the fuss from real life. i can get lost in my thoughts when i'm around water.

my new job is directly across the street from the provo river. (yes, the rapist river for those of you who are super specific.) i love going to sit there during lunch. it's nice to just sit and stare at the river. it's fascinating to see the things that float by. i am oddly fascinated with trash that floats down the river. whenever i notice it, i follow it down as far as i can see. little pieces of plastic, just bobbing down the river or bottles floating calmly down the river.

i imagine myself as that plastic, just floating down the river, with not a care in the world. only the next bend in the river to worry about. i think a lot of us would like to be that piece of plastic some days. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

throw it all to the wind

after my last post, i realized the following might be helpful to post :)

when a major event in my life happens, i feel this urge to throw it out to the world. it is part of my processing. i just can't process things fully without making some sort of announcement, usually on my blog. maybe some would call me an attention whore, or an exhibitionist.

i don't think those terms really encompass it.

you see, i do it alone, too. sometimes, i will stress out about a conversation i had, or one i am dreading having, or a completely made up one. i obsess about it, and go over the conversation again and again in my head. after i've gone over it way too many times in my head, i will say it out loud. not very loud, just to myself, and usually just a line or two. i have to be careful if i am around other people; they usually think i am an idiot, or pester me to tell them "the rest" of the conversation. i rarely tell them, because that sounds even more crazy than just plain talking to myself.

it is not the act of people reading these thoughts that drives me to post them on my blog. it is the ability to do so that intrigues me. if no one read my blog (and who knows, they might not) i am not sure i would care much. if i was not able to post my thoughts to the world, though. that would be a different story. maybe i'm just another in that group of adolescents/young adults (like how i called myself young? haha) that thinks the world should be enthralled with my every thought and deed. maybe i'm just a little crazy. maybe it doesn't matter much either way. 

this post is a good example of me obsessing about things and needing to throw them out to the universe. i am posting this on my private blog for now, but i know there will come a time when i post it on my public blog. there is just not enough exposure for me to feel validated when i post it on my private blog. in fact, a lot of my blog posts start out as private posts, and get moved over to the public's eye. now you're all going to wonder which posts i did not initially deem appropriate for the public. sorry. beyond this one, i am not sure you'll ever know!

i don't know what it is. i am sure a psychologist would have a heyday diagnosing all my many issues. i just want to embrace the crazy for now!

lakes and coconut trees

well, at the moment, my dad is stranded in the middle of one of utah lake's marshes. out of gas, cold, and waiting for search and rescue to find him. i really don't know the rest of the story. i just know that my mom got a call from him earlier this afternoon, and she, sila and darl have spent the rest of the day/night trying to find him. i am really hoping that search and rescue is able to locate him; i never thought my father would be the next story of a lost/stranded boater on utah lake.

hopefully, this will turn out like the time he decided to climb a coconut tree for us kids (with a good story)

a long time ago, (i really don't know. probably before i was born) my dad decided to show us kids that he could put on his own pcc show by climbing a coconut tree. he thought the icing on the cake would be carrying a machete up with him and cutting some coconuts down. just like when he was a kid. well, climb he did. just like he was a kid. i am sure it was awesome to watch. once at the top, he proceeded to cut down all of the coconuts from the tree. it was not long before someone realized that dad was not climbing back down like we thought he would. well, it turns out he was stuck. he had climbed up easily enough, but did not remember/know how to get down. the story ends with the fire department having to bring a truck out and pull him out of the tree. not quite the perfect end to his heroic stunt, right? well, it is a great story.

here's to hoping that this newest stunt will result in another great story, rather than anything more serious!

Friday, April 1, 2011

sunday will come

as easter approaches, i have been thinking a lot about my Savior. about the sacrifice and love and power of his atonement. i was reading the blog of a sweet little cancer fighter, elena. in it, her mother mentioned something that has stuck with me for the past few days. (i think her mom might have even been quoting another family member) but, she said that she has realized that the Lord is serious about testing us in this life. like elena's mom, that prase seemed so simple to me at first. it was not until i thought about it more that i realized the depth of that analysis. life would not be a test if it were easy. i doubt that i would want the rewards that come from a sorrow-less life. it is only through the refiner's fire that we can reach our true potential.

that being said, often, i wish that life could be more simple. i wish that instead of constantly being faced with tiny tests of faith, i could face one big one and get it over with. i feel like i would easily pass an obvious test; someone holding a gun to my head and ordering me to deny my faith. the tests i struggle more with are the small ones; the ones that use the flaxen cord satan is so fond of. those are the ones that trip me up, the ones that i have to be paying close attention to notice. i suppose that is where the seriousness of the Lord's test is. not only because of the eternal consequences it holds, but also because he has tailor-made this test for me. the Lord knows that i could easily and without much effort, pass a huge, obvious test. the things that i struggle with are smaller, more vague issues. thus, the test that is my life, is filled with them.

a few (ok, so like 5) years ago, elder wirthlin gave a talk titled sunday will come. i loved it when i first heard it, and was so glad when a mormonmessage was posted featuring that talk. in the talk, elder wirthlin speaks of the friday that Christ was crucified as the darkest day in the history of the world. however, that dark friday was followed by the sunday in which Christ was resurrected. all the brightness and light that resurrection brought with it were poured out to the world. in one weekend, we saw the greatest sorrow possible, but also the greatest joy. we could not have seen one without the other. here's an exerpt from elder wirthlin's talk:

each of us will have our own fridays, those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. we will all experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. we will all have our fridays.but i testify in the name of the one who conquered death, sunday will come...no matter how dark our friday, sunday will come.

i was a dramatic, emotional teenager. i am not sure i am much changed now as an adult. the thing that stands out to me most is that many of the fridays i experienced as a youth seem so insignificant now. they seem almost comical and simple. even my more recent fridays feel dramatized. it is hard to fully remember those emotionsl; i am gladly removed from them. i can say, though, that having truly felt a friday, i know that sunday will always come. whether in this life or the next, it will come. what wonderful, hopeful news!

in other news, i went to orlando!! and pene has posted some pictures on masey's blog. head over there for an update! (unless you are bitter that, while it snowed here in Utah, florida was 78-90 the whole time)

Friday, March 18, 2011

truth friday??

haha, so i really thought truth friday would be a super cute title.... until i actually thought about it. i really am not sure why i thought it would be clever. probably because i missed wordy wednesday this week and have been awake since it was officially thursday. truth thursday makes more sense. :)

anywho, truth friday it is! 

first bit of truth: it is 3:52am. i am awake, making 5 blankets for a service project on saturday. why am i up right now doing these?? because i have to spend all day tomorrow making a brain cake for masey's make a wish party. (yeah, i thought that was a clever idea, too until i realized that cakes are a LOT harder than the cake boss makes em look...good thing i gave myself a few days and few cakes to practice on) yeah, yeah. why tonight? you might be asking. well, tonight because i am a procrastinator. over a month ago, i decided that 5 blankets over the course of a month are completely do-able and not even inconvenient. well, 5 in a month is not inconvenient. the problem comes when you rationalize that 5 in 3 weeks, or 5 in 2 weeks, or even 5 in one week are not inconvenient, either. my problem is that i let myself decide that 5 in 2 days was plenty of time. until i realized that i will have approx. 3 hours of free time between now and when the service project is. unless you count sleeping hours, of course!  so, long story short (can you even say that after the long story??) i won't sleep for a few days, but cancer families will have blankets!  haha

i am more excited for the wizarding world of harry potter than disney world... i plan on making myself sick with butterbeer and letting a wand pick me. oh yeah, and sending out postcards from hogsmead by the dozens. let me know if you are going to need one :) dinner at the three broomsticks is going to round out my day. i really don't care if we do anything else, and it's entirely possible that i will start a campaign to go the first night; just for the butterbeer.

it was not until i was probably 22 that i realized that not only can people hear you when you sing in the car with the windows down (i guess i assumed that the wind from driving had an effect on their hearing, too..) but i was even older before i realized they can hear your music even with the windows up. i guess i am not very observant.

i feel incredible guilt when i kill spiders. all i can think about after the fact is that they have a purpose, and a soul. all i can think of when i see them, is to kill them. i hate them so much. i also feel like they know when i've killed a spider recently. they are always looking for revenge.

when i was 14, i shut the window in the shower and broke a nest of eggs open. there was literally a shower of tiny spiders down the wall of the shower, followed by a HUGE (ok, so probably normal sized) mama spider. yes, i was standing in the shower with them. no, they would not be washed down the drain. yes, some of them escaped and are now roaming the house, waiting to attack. the thought still sends shivers down my spine, and now i always precariously reach over the entire shower to shut the window, just in case.

i like most glee versions better than the originals. but i did not like this episode of original songs. i hope they don't make a habit of it.

i hit a racoon once. it was nasty hearing the bones crush.

there is a stack of four suitcases in my laundry room because i am too lazy to take them back downstairs (i'm gonna need to pack in just a few days!)

i have had a recipe for bacon-wrapped jalapeno chicken bites open on my computer for three days, just in case i forget that i want to make them. they sound so amazing.

ok, last truth bit: it's now 4:46 and i am dead. the rest of the blankets will have to wait!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

wordy wednesday

a lot of my cousins do something called wordless wednesdays. basically, on wednesday you post a picture of your stinkin adorable kids and don't put words. pretty simple, right?  well, i have no stinkin adorable kids, so i decided to do my own wordy wednesday. you basically post words on a wednesday. super simple.  my kind of post.

so, i sprained my ankle (again). apparently, walking and thinking are too hard for me to do at once. i was seriously just walking, not even super distracted, when i felt my ankle pop. next thing i know, i was on the ground. could it happen in one of the many dark, deserted walkways at uvu?  nope. it was in the most crowded section, at one of the most crowded times. sometimes i hate my life.

i also cut a bunch of hair off. i can't remember if i already blogged about it, and i'm kinda too lazy to look. so, there you go!  i cut my hair!  i donated it to locks of love, and imagine that a cute little cancer girl is running around with a pretty new wig. (i don't care what vili says. that's what happened to my hair) now that i cut off all the ends, i am realizing that my hair is really dark!  i can't wait for summer and my light brown hair to return.

mason prays that our food will "nursery shrink" our bodies. every time.

i am going to disney world in 13 days. yeah baby!  i am so excited. in case any of you have never spoken of the big dw with me, here is the scoop: when my parents were prego with me, they took my older siblings to disney land. that was the only trip my family ever made there. thus, i have lived a sheltered and deprived life, having never been to disney world/land. in 13 days, i'm going to fix all of that, and to top it off, i am going with mason. i hear going with wish kids is pretty awesome :)

when we lived on maui, we had chickens. i had a love/hate relationship with them. the hens were cute enough and laid eggs, which i was always mortified to find out my parents ate. my chicken was called spotty, and he was a rooster. i know what you're thinking but he was not your typical crow in the morning and walk around all day, rooster. he was a filipino fighting rooster, and he was mean. he would peck at our feet and chase us out of the yard every morning when we had to feed/water them before school. (remember that i did not ever wear shoes to school in maui) randomness before the real reason i'm telling you this story: eventually, we moved back to oahu, and gave the chickens to our uncle. my evil rooster, spotty, became a champion cock fighter just like his father. i guess meanness was truly bred into them. hurricane iniki was coming, and we had to board up our windows, etc. i was so offended and traumatized that my parents wouldn't let us bring the chickens inside with us. we had to leave them in the carport, and i was sure they were going to die (they didn't). oddly enough, i don't remember anything else about the hurricane but that. i still might be a little bitter about it :)

vili and i went to a panel type thingy on human trafficking. basically, we learned that, as far as that panel was concerned, human trafficking is any time you do a job and are coerced, forced, exploited, or abused. (something like that. i can't really remember, and it's not really important.) the important part is that vili decided that he was a human slave as a child because he had to do chores and clean. i think he just wants to explore the possibility of getting a scholarship from it.

as excited as i am for disney world, i am about a hundred more times excited to try butterbeer at the wizarding world of harry potter. yeah, you're jealous.

and who says i can't put a picture of something Wonderful for Wordy Wednesday??

Saturday, March 5, 2011

march madness

well, i came into this world in march. the 7th, to be exact. 1986 to be more exact. 9:42 on a friday evening if you are picky.

25 years ago:
pretty in pink was #1 in the box offices that week. the color purple and out of africa both made the top 10. the rest are obscure movies i've never seen. (on second thought, the only one in the top 10 that i've seen at all is out of africa) my birth year was designated an international year of peace by the united nations. the country was still reeling from the space shuttle challenger disaster. the chernobyl disaster killed thousands and affected millions in europe and beyond. halley's comet made an appearance (i don't remember it :) pixar animation studios began. the mir space station was launched. geraldo rivera would open al capone's vault, to be disappointed by a mere bottle of moonshine. 6.5 million people linked hands in hands across america; they raised some 30 million dollars to fight poverty and hunger. fergie married prince andrew. desmond tutu becomes the first black anglican bishop in south africa. it was the centennial of the statue of liberty's dedication. a day in the life of america was shot (nope, i'm not in it, but i could be!) it was a world cup year (mexico). sara came out and hit #1 on the billboard hot 100 charts.

march 7th, 1986 was a beautiful spring day, the temps were in the 50s and 60s. that day, crews found the challenger's crew compartment on the ocean floor, including each of the 7 crew members' bodies. when my mom went into labor, she got to drive herself to the hospital because my dad wanted to wait for a load of rock to be delivered. i guess the new-ness of babies wears off by the 4th :)  i was born at holy cross hospital in salt lake, and my entrance set the stage for the rest of my life. all three of my mom's older kids had 'backed up and shot out' as she puts it. she and her doctor were expecting that same thing with me, but they had never met me. after quite a while of hard pushing, the doctor decided to get the forceps. the moment i heard him say that, i backed up and shot out. he barely had time to catch me.  i guess i'm only as stubborn as it is beneficial to me. (and yes, my dad made it in time. barely :)

my name was latu siale lolohea (latu after my dad's eldest sister, siale because gardenia is my mom's favorite flower) i was 7lbs 2oz, 19 inches long. by the time my blessing came around, my name was changed to latu sara lolohea. the biggest reason? my grandpa struggled enough to pronounce latu and lolohea, he didn't want to have to remember siale as well. so, my mom named me sara, after the jefferson starship song (which hit #1 in the charts a week after i was born), and an ancestor of hers that was 1/2 navajo, 1/2 paiute. it was a inspired choice; i've always had long, indian straight hair. just like my namesake. :)

i was a happy baby, but a definite mama's girl. when i was two, my mom led the music in relief society (and had another baby) i refused to go to anyone but my mom, so i spent the length of each song screaming at her legs. the sweet old ladies in the ward would try to take me and soothe me, but it wasn't long before they all decided to just let me be and sing over my screaming.

my young childhood was pretty idyllic. i have nothing to complain about. i grew up in hawaii (which i did not appreciate until we moved to utah and i realized the difference) in elementary school on maui, i used my first computer. the computer lab monitor made us wash our hands before we touched them. we didn't want to spread viruses!

a lot of things happened between then and now (it's been 25 years!) but there is one thing that did not. never did i ever think i would be turning 25. i guess i thought that once it really happened, i would already be old and it would not feel so weird. unfortunately, that did not happen. i am trying not to focus on it, 25 is not that old, and it's not like i can change it. so, here's the year(ish) in review:

one year ago today, i was looking forward to trips to arizona, hawaii, and france. i was working at pcs, and had no plans to quit. i began playing rugby and found a love of my life in that game. in june, i quit pcs and began working for a web design company. i went back to working 9-5 and decided i hated it. especially in the middle of summer and its sunny goodness :)  in september, i quit that job, broke my sternum, and cancelled my trip to france. october found me working for a group home, which i promptly quit when masey was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in november. christmas was low-key and i started school in january. that about brings my year present.

(hopefully everyone has stopped reading by now, cause here's where i start explaining my life)

this past year has been the most profound of my life, spiritually speaking. i started the past year determined to stop making poor choices. i am ashamed to say that my resolved was short lasted. life started happening, and it was so easy to reorganize my priorities, all the while promising myself it was temporary. it was effortless to forget the changes, move on and continue to fool myself into thinking i was happy. throughout the past year, though, i have discovered a love for the Lord that i could not have known otherwise.

i needed to regress once more; to experience the sorrow of sin and the contrast of true happiness. i do not want this time in my life to be some sort of 'a-ha' moment; to be a huge jump in the graph of my progression. i want it to be just any other time in my life, where i try to be better by taking tiny steps. i do not want this moment in my life defined by one huge step, but by the tiny steps i am consistently making. that sort of progress is progress i can easily manage.

i know now that i will never have an experience like those in ancient days, where an angel appears to me, all thought of sin is eternally gone from my mind, and i become nearly perfect in the blink of an eye. i am just an ordinary nephite, trying to overcome the same pride cycle that my ancestors have struggled with for thousands of years.

Friday, February 18, 2011

baked apple day

well, today can be summed up with the following story:

today was baked apple day at primary childrens. if you don't know what a baked apple is, you are truly missing out!  it's basically a cored apple, stuffed with sugary cinnamon goodness, and wrapped with flaky, delicious pie crust and best served warm with ice cream. i don't like apple pie, but i adore these, and primary childrens is the only place i have seen them. they're to die for. i looove them.

so, with that background, i'll continue. we walked into the cafeteria and realized it was apple pie day. my heart did loops, i was so excited. that is, until i realized that the ice cream machine was broken. don't get be wrong, i am sure the sugary goodness that is baked apples would be good even without the ice cream. but nothing compares to baked apples and vanilla ice cream. after resigning myself to eating it without ice cream, i found out that another little area of the cafeteria had ice cream by the scoop for sale. happy that my life was once more whole, i practically skipped over to get the ice cream. well, i am sure that everyone else had the same idea as me, because when i got there, there was literally just bits of vanilla ice cream in the bucket. (this story is getting really long. feel free to stop at any point) thankfully, a tiny japanese woman was nice enough to work at the bucket for a good 3-5 minutes straight, managing to pull out just enough ice cream for my sister and me.

so, in the end, i got my baked apple, and to top it off, i got it with ice cream! that's about how most of my day went. really good -- bad -- good ish -- really bad -- good

i think it's a pattern :)  i started out taking a test in my world music class. i am 100% sure i aced it, and i only needed 10 minutes to take it, which meant that i could amble my way to my other class, not fight the masses and rush all over like usual. really good!

following that, i found out a had a 'guest lecturer' in my next class (read: candidate for a teaching position they're hiring. so far every candidate has had a thick accent, and only one has been engaging or entertaining.) as you can guess from that introduction, it was pretty bad.

after that, we headed up to masey's audiologist. the results were GOOD!  his hearing hasn't worsened, which means that the radiation did not damage his hearing further. but, we also found out that the chemo he will start on monday has a pretty high occurrence of hearing damage as a side effect. (i took statistics in college. i know where all those numbers really come from) thus, this warning is an ish until it proves itself a bad.

after that, we walked around for a bit and saw the train set before going to the ear-nose and throat doctor. that's where we found the really bad:

i am not a fan of doctors who think that you should revere anything they say and take it all at face value. a doctor is not a god. end of story. thus, when the doctor told us there were no treatment options and that we just needed to wait until his chemo is done to be able to know what we're dealing with, i was angry. now, i know that i am an emotional, dramatic type of person. but i also am good at math. in a perfect world, with no delays and perfect response to treatment, masey is done with chemo in december. i refuse to believe that there is nothing we can do for him in the meantime. i also refuse to believe that an ng tube is a permanent solution.

the real kicker, and what truly made this appointment really bad, was still to come. after i expressed my concerns that we have even less answers about how to help masey and cannot wait 12 months to treat, the doctor dropped this bomb: well, we're not even sure if his cancer will be cured, so... 

i could feel the rage building up in my chest. SO WHAT???  i wanted to challenge him. every centimeter of my being wanted to cuss this stupid old man out. i wanted to leap across the room and smack him. i wanted to do something, anything. my breathing became shallow and i had to physically restrain myself. i had to keep myself from full-on glaring at this pompous man, though i am sure he could see the disdain on my face. i could not believe that he really was using the obvious/terrifying (that masey might not be cured) as an excuse to not treat right now. i was truly flabbergasted. i could not force myself to talk because i did not trust myself to be civil. i listened to his feeble attempts to codify us (along with gems of phrases like well, we need to remember that considering all he's been through, it really could be worse -- NOT a solution, excuse, or acceptable answer!) i loathed this man. very seriously.

yes, maybe part of the loathing stemmed from the fact that we are literally on the eve of a possible turning point. masey's having an MRI tomorrow morning, to determine if the radiation was successful. maybe it's been kinda a stressful week for all of us. maybe i've heard some heartbreaking horror stories about medulloblastomas magically reappearing at this mri. maybe those kids did not have any symptoms when their tumors returned. maybe the treatment after the tumor comes back has not been documented successful. maybe i'm a little terrified that that child could be mason. maybe the doctor just should have known when to pull his foot out of his mouth and stop talking.

either way, i was eventually able to get him to truly explain his diagnosis/prognosis/plan of treatment. (even though it took me full on sobbing in his office and unable to talk first :)  and pene feels good about it, and so do i, so i guess that's the happy ending/really good part at the end. the end's all that matters, right??

Monday, January 24, 2011

it's back!!

well, masey is the small-talk topic of choice lately, and i can't really blame people. i'd be super nosy about it too!  every time someone asks how he's doing, i feel guilty if i say anything but 'fine' or 'good'. i mean, really, the kid is extremely blessed just to be alive! is it bad luck to bemoan the struggles?

do people really want to know about how he is wasting away before my eyes, and refusing to eat. do they want to know about the surgery he is going to need to repair his paralyzed vocal chord? do they want to know about him choking on liquids and all other foods? about how we have to wait at least a month before he can get into the schedule to have this surgery, and then hope it's before his next course of chemo. otherwise, he will not be able to have it for a few more months. i feel like this is coming across as bratty. i don't mean it that way. i just really don't know how much information people want. so, for all you out there who have asked about masey and i've said 'he's fine', that paragraph is the truthful update. here is one more:

remember this?

yup, masey's sporting the feeding tube again! the blessing/curse has returned!

masey hated his feeding tube the first time around, and putting it in was traumatic (nose bleeding, scratching damaged throat, being held down by strangers, etc) he has dreaded the thought of it ever since. the fear of a feeding tube has often been the only reason this poor guy will gag down his (rather nasty, i might add) medicine.

but he's also lost over 11 kilos since coming home from the hospital (for all you americans out there, throwing a fit about the metrics, 11 kilos is about 24 pounds.) don't believe me? compare:

and these pictures only show his face. lift up his shirt and it's easy to see that this kid is skin.and.bones. he has lost every ounce of baby fat he had, and a lot of muscle mass. this little boy, who was always deceptively heavy and solid, is now anything but. at 115cm (3'9" haha) masey's current bmi is 15.1, which is quite underweight. (especially compared with the 23.4 it was in the hospital)

wow, i kinda got off topic!  back to the real topic of this post, that lovely tube stuck down masey's nose/throat. here's a list of reasons the feeding tube will really help masey, no matter how traumatic it was to insert it today:

  • pneumonia. or i guess preventing it. he had pneumonia in the hospital, and with his lowered immune system (thanks to the radiation and chemo) it would be life-threatening to get it now (oh yeah, why does this apply to the feeding tube? because of masey's vocal cord paralysis, he has been aspirating-or inhaling-liquids, which can build up in his lungs and cause pneumonia. throughout his course of treatment-for the next year-masey will take antibiotics weekly to combat this. eliminating the risk for additional liquid in the lungs will go a long way to preventing pneumonia.)
  • hydration. any liquids masey drinks must be thickened to more than honey-thick. not only is this nasty to drink as far as texture goes, it is nasty because his drinks are more than half thickening agent, which tastes gross. the tube will keep him hydrated.
  • it's an ng tube, not the nj tube he had before. this will help him feel full and rely almost solely on the feeding tube, protecting his throat. 
  • nutrition. not much tastes good to masey lately. this will let him get nutrients, and hopefully gain weight and bring his counts up. (the levels of red blood cells, platelets, but most importantly, white blood cells in his blood)

anywho, as much as i would like for this to all go away (masey, too!) i am so grateful that masey is here, and is such a trooper. he's the strongest kid i know, and i kinda like his new addition :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

almost 4 down...

well, it's almost been 4 years since i started this blog (i guess 3.5 is more accurate) i started it just after my grandma died. i desperately wanted an outlet, and physically writing was way too much effort :)  so, i decided to keep an online journal/blog.

this past weekend, talia gave me a journal i got at girls camp in 2007. i wrote a few entries at camp, but most interesting to me was the last entry i wrote. it was dated july 24, 2007. the day after i wrote this journal entry, my dear grandma would lose her battle with leukemia. interjections from me today will be in purple, because i am very fond of interrupting myself :)

before i start, though, here's a picture for those of you who don't want to read on :) it's of my daddy, me, and my sisters back in 2004. i've never seen this picture before, but i looove it.


well, maybe i'll finish about girls camp later, but now i really want to write. i've decided that writing is an escape for me, my thoughts, and just everything. sometimes just out of nowhere, i get a really strong desire to write. today, on pioneer day, we (mom, dad, pene, mase & darl) went to ogden to see grandma. we found out that grandma's decided that she will not be taking any more transfusions, or treatments. it makes me so sad & it has not even set in all the way. it's surreal, life without my grandma. i honestly cannot imagine it. she's been such a constant in my life, no matter where, who or what. she raised me, cared for me, loved me & was always there with advice, love and concern. i felt more like she was my mom more than anyone else in the world besides my mom. until tomorrow, when grandpa decides where grandma's going, i am going to write some of my favorite memories (of grandma)

singing burrump went the little green frog, hickory dickory cranery crow and froggy froggy how are you?
shirley temple movies
graham crackers & frosting sandwiches for summer fun (a summer program) in our own personal little coolers
2nd grade, when i changed my bangs and smiled retarded in my school pictures (both things grandma had told me not to do over and over the morning of pictures. i was pretty sure i was real cute. turns out, i was cute enough to not even buy pictures that year :)
stopping at foodland and then eating lunchables on a huge log while grandpa did work at scout camp
the newsletter weekly (grandma wrote sporadically her last few months)
grandma waking us up with the piano
playing church music on the black stereo every sunday
how beautiful she is
her hassell blue eyes (my grandma had the most striking blue eyes. in fact, so did every one of her siblings and most of their kids. we call them hassell blue after her family)
going to bluewater (a tiny town...actually, it's technically a village, in new mexico where we're basically related to everyone and my grandma grew up)
her patience
her teaching pene to read with the book of mormon (she would have pene look for and highlight specific words during sacrament and at home-Lord, and, thus, etc)
her blue, cool room in hawaii (her bedroom was the only room in the house that had an air conditioner. it was always so wonderfully cold in there)
the tree house (their house had the most amazing tree house with three floors. it was built into a huge tree on a hillside. i fell out of the second story once. it was awesome.)
the convertible (she had a convertible because she was just that cool. in fact, most of their cars were awesome. i remember marveling at how rich they were b/c their car had shoulder belts in the back seat)
going to savers and garage sales
her 800 number (to make sure her family could always talk to her whenever they wanted [and without paying long distance charges] she got an 800 number. i don't even remember when. for as long as i remember. we could call grandma any time, any place and chat it up with her, complain about how unfair something was, or just check in.)
putting dolls on timeout/taking them away (she would take our dollies away when we were mean to them. she'd tell us cps came and got them. only when we could prove we would be good parents would she give them back)

there are so many other things i love so much about her but i'll stop for now. mostly, i just love her. i love her shining points & her short comings. i love everything about her. she's had such an overwhelming influence on my life. i cannot imagine it now, but i know that the Lord is in control. as hard as it is to think, this is part of his plan. my life will continue to go on, with or without grandma. it will never be the same, and i know it is going to be so hard to say goodbye & let her go, but in the end, i know that it is not the end, just a pause on our relationship. as hard as my grandma's death will be, i absolutely know that families are forever. on that hopeful thought, i am going to go! (me too :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

be smart

well, it feels like the past few days have flown by, but been years long at the same time. i have felt like i should go back to school for quite some time now. i always had an excuse why "now" is not a good time. it's the same story as every other time in the past 4 ish years that i got that feeling. always a bad time, not enough money, no classes open, too busy, even masey's cancer. you name it, i used it as an excuse to justify not enrolling in school.

it feels like this is a continuing theme in my life :)  well, i am now proud to say that, despite being told by my academic advisor, someone in admissions, someone in collections and my own mind that i would not be able to attend school this semester, i am starting classes tomorrow. i do not plan on stopping, and i in fact refuse to stop. i've seen so well how i get complacent with not going to school, convince myself i'll eventually go back and then never do. i am truly exhausted of that. my mind is wasting away, with nothing to occupy it. anywho, the story of how i got everything in order to go to school could take a long time, and it seems like such a blur now. but i truly am blessed, and i know that this is the path the Lord would have me take.

maybe i'll tell it another day. for now, though, my list of things i wish someone had told me when i was in high school about college:
there are other ways of going to school besides getting great grades in high school and a full ride, academic or athletic scholarship. i remember the day clearly when my uncle made me realize that i could go to school without those things.
books cost a lot of money, and you rarely use them. selling them back is like walking a tight rope...it's only possible if a new edition (read: 4 new pictures and the order of the quizzes/chapters are switched up) has not come out, and you are willing to get a fraction of the purchase price back.
open admissions.
community colleges/state universities. they are not just pathways into a better school. you can get a full-fledged degree for much cheaper.
12-18 credits cost the same. take as many as you can handle to save money.
having a disabled father, who is unable to work=lots of pell grants=no money owed. having this same disabled father will only be of use on your fafsa until you turn 24. take advantage.
fafsa. filling it out is required. also, very useful when you discover the above.
application fees and fees for act/sat are just the beginning-- and very small, looking back.
concurrent enrollment and ap classes really do pay off, and are worth the small fees (see above)
study well for the act/sat. testing out of math is much better than taking math.
waiting years to take a math class sucks. and you forget anything you might have known. there is nothing more annoying than a college counselor pointing out to you that, once upon a time, you got an awesome score on your act math section. (and then letting you know that because you waited so long to go back to school, that score has expired and they will no longer accept it. hello, math 1010)
college is nothing like the movies (which makes me glad :)
college students are poor. like more poor than i can remember being.
student id = bus pass.
there will always be reasons to stop going or take "just one semester"off. not giving yourself that option is best. once you go from poor to working again, it's so hard to go back.
student health center. saved my life a few times.
the right counselor can help you overcome most holds on your record.
you can work on campus, and they are great at accommodating class schedules.
you can get more than one degree,in more than one field.
you are not limited to what you can study by anything but yourself.
start school as soon as you can, and don't stop until you're done. it's worth it.

well, i could go on about the things i wish i knew. but, i'll leave you with a picture of the baldy, masey boy.

i think he looks a bit like this guy: