Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Open Letter to my Brothers

Dear Tom & Andy,

I would like to start by apologizing for my lack of communication these last 12 years. As you know, I've been busy being sick and going to school and making a general irrelevance of my life. I know you know all this already, it's not like you're not paying attention, but I just needed to say it in case you didn't know. When I say "general irrelevance", I'm speaking broadly. Not everything I've done since 1999 has been irrelevant, per se. I helped the hungry in Utah this fall by participating in the food drive... between 2006 and 2008 I made hundreds of people happy by producing beautiful wedding flowers... among other things. I think the phrase "general irrelevance" is pretty accurate now that I think about it.

Anyway, I've been thinking about you guys a lot lately. I usually do at this time of the year, with the big three upon us. Christmas usually isn't that bad, and Andy, your birthday is pretty bearable because it's New Years Day and napping helps, but the 6th, that day is the worst. It's hell leading up to it, pretending nothing is wrong when in reality, every thing is wrong and every waking thought is taken up by either thinking about it or trying to come up with things to prove you're not thinking about it all the time. When January 7th rolls around, it's a relief, because it's a full 365 days until I have to deal with January 6th again.

As I've been thinking about you these last few weeks, I've been recalling the last time we saw each other. I just want to tell you that if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't let the last thing I said to you be "Do you need anything else out of the bathroom? I need to get in the shower." I mean, I was 16, so I was pretty self involved, and how was I supposed to know that I wouldn't see you again? I couldn't have predicted that you wouldn't come back from California, well, at least not in a state that we could converse. I didn't know that in a weeks' time, a tragedy of this magnitude would knock my world off its axis forever. That is a little dramatic, I'll admit. Maybe not forever, but it certainly changed things. No, if I had it to do over again, I'd tell both of you that I love you, and nothing could ever change that. I'd tell you Tom, that that one night we went and did your Christmas shopping, and went to Alberto's to get chips and gaucamole was one of the funnest nights I'd ever spent with you. And Andy, I'd tell you how sorry I am for being so rude to you when you came home. Then I'd make you cookies to take on your trip and I'd stand in the lane and watch you drive away and I'd cry because you were the best brothers and I wasn't going to see you again in this lifetime.

But I didn't know that, and the self involved 16 year old that still creeps around inside of this considerably more considerate 28 year old is sorry for her ignorance, ignorance on so many levels. I wish I could say that I was making you proud, but I literally failed dummy math Tom, and I think I might be racist against Asians, so I will not learn the Japanese language for you Andy. But I'm gonna write a book, and it's gonna be good, and it'll get published, and I'll go on a book tour and be a New York Times Bestselling author, and then maybe you can be proud of me, having finally done something relevant in my life. And you can tell the people you're with that yep, that's my little sister.

I'm sorry I was a bratty little kid, and bratty tween, and a bratty teenage, and I'm sorry it took until I was 23 for me to realize that there are people in this world besides me. And I'm sorry you had to leave life so soon, and that there were so many things you missed out on in a physical presence, though I'm confident you were around spiritually. I hope you know I'm trying to be a good person, and even though I think I fail at it more than I succeed, I am trying. I hope you know I love you, and even though I think about you less often than I should, you're always there and the influence you, and your premature death have had on my life have changed me for the better. I know it was sketchy there for a while, it looked like I'd let it affect me the wrong way, but I managed to pull through, and now I'm trying to do things for the better.

I only meant well, of course I did. You say it was all for the best, well of course it was. This is just what we needed, He decided this... He decided this, so it must be the right thing. I still miss you, and I still hurt sometimes because of it. At least I can take comfort in knowing you'll be there to greet me when I'm done here.

I love you, brothers.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Long Live the Magic We Made

Back in 2009, right after I started this blog, I wrote about moving out of our house on 1200 East, the house where I'd lived with my friends for a year and a half, the place we'd had the time of our lives, witnessed the Undefeated Season of '08, the place we learned you really can't trust a ginger. We didn't know it then, but that day at the end of July marked the end of an era. It was the last time Lacey, Mehgan, Steph, and I would live together. Despite all the singing of "Reunited and it feels so good", life inevitably marched on without checking with us first. I lost my kidney, Mehgan came home, Steph got Janson, and married, Lacey found new roommates.

Our "Reunited" tour ended before it even began

Then November 2010 happened. A dinner at Zupas and an idea turned into a dedication, a house hunt, a lease signing, a roommate search, and a move. Now three quarters of the old band is back together again with a few new members. We're like The Eagles, or Destiny's Child. Lacey, Mehgan, and I moved into a lovely Avenues Victorian last weekend, along with Lucy, who lived with Lacey for the last year in 2 different Aves houses, and Laura, who is the cousin of a girl in our University LDS ward. The house is filthy dirty, and sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't have just been worth it to pay Molly Maids the $64 an hour they wanted to clean the place. But we're back together again, even though we miss Steph and wish she could be there too, and that's what makes all the difference.

A year and a half ago we marked the end of an era. Last weekend we saw the start of an age. It will be a new age (no pun intended.... but it was rather good) and a different age then before, but it will be just as good, filled with new people, new learning experiences, but the same humor, dance parties, and cooking that made our first tenure as roommates so fantastic. I think important things will happen during this age; college graduations, acceptance into grad programs, unions formed, MLA will figure it all out, a transplant, maybe... the possibilities are endless. I don't know exactly what will happen, but I do know it will be great. And there will be a lot of laughing, a lot of chocolate chip cookies, a lot of mood lighting in the dining room when one of us is trying to "hang out" with a good-looking fella, and a lot of love.

"We will be remembered."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Month of Thanks-Giving

I've noticed that I've had a really bad attitude lately. I mean, like, extremely bad. I realized this on the bus the other day and as I sat in my seat, I was ashamed of myself. I think I get so caught up in the things I want but don't have that I forget to remember the things I do have that a lot of people don't. I decided right then and there on the 213 that I needed to, in the words of Cher from "Clueless", make over my soul. So in an effort to avert my recent flow of negativity and help me have a better attitude, I'm going to post something I'm thankful for every day this month. November is, after all, the month we give thanks in America, and the goal here is to adjust my way of thinking so I can remember how great my life is all year long, even when it's really not ideal (like now. No kidneys is so not ideal. But I'm working with it.) So if you like to read this silly blog, check back a few times this month as I update this post with little nuggets of gratitude. One thing I'm always thankful for is you, the reader, who actually reads what I write on here.

I am grateful for:
November 1st
- Taylor Swift's album "Speak Now" and my friends Jamey and Mehgan who were born on this day in different years in the 80's.
November 2nd- America, Apple Pie, and the end of election campaigns (for 2010). Vote for Elle!
November 3rd- My modernism professor, who can successfully incorporate a "Jersey Shore" or "The Walking Dead" reference into every lecture, thereby making a completely uninteresting class briefly interesting.
November 4th- Parents who will give the shirt off their back and their very last dollar to someone else who is in greater need than they. And for my niece Molly, who turns 6 today.
November 5th- Being a UTE! No matter the outcome of a season, a game, or a championship, I will always be true to my school and will be forever a Ute.
November 6th- my bed.
November 7th- Daylight Savings Time. I needed that 12 hours of sleep last night.
November 8th- The Utah Food Bank and the opportunity I have to serve my community through them.
November 9th- My very best friends: Mehgan Alva, Lacey Collom, and Stephanie Alva-Rigby. These girls are amazing and I don't know where I'd be in life without them.
November 10th- There only being 7 more times I have to go to my modernism class, 11 more times I have to go to my editing class. and 12 more time I have to go to math. (hopefully, only 12 more times I have to go to math FOREVER!!!!)
November 11th- My insulin pump. We've been together for a year, and my HGA1C has gone from 11-6.5. Even though I tell it once a day that I hate it, I'm glad it's helping keep my diabetes under control. And I'm grateful for all the veterans. Thanks for keeping our country free and safe.
November 12th- Antibiotics and health insurance that makes the co-pay for them only $3.
November 13th- Eclairs and the redeeming power of chocolate. And for the undying optimism of one Daniel Shiflett. Even when I've thrown in the towel, he still believes. But I still love my Utes.
November 14th- My wardrobe. And my exquisite shoe collection. And Boden, for making it possible for me to look good on Sunday's. (Yes, this is all a bit materialistic and absurd, but it's true. I am very grateful for these things.)
November 15th- Amazing Sunday's that lead to excellent Monday's which generally equal phenomenal weeks. (and it did. This was the beginning of the best week ever!)
November 16th- WE GOT THE HOUSE!! I'm moving back to the Avenues after finals are over!
November 17th- Heaters. I spent 3 hours outside this afternoon and man, I was sure cold when I finally got in Mehgan's car. That heater was my new best friend.
November 18th- Thursdays. Ah yes, they are the gateway to the weekend.
November 19th- My family. They're pretty amazing and I sure do love them!
November 20th- The Utes besting SDSU and completing my best week ever.
November 21st- Faith. I'm grateful everyday that I believe in something that I know in my heart, mind, and soul is true. It guides my life and I'd be lost without it.
November 22nd- Volunteer opportunities that allow me to meet State of Utah legendary football coaches, basketball coaches, and business men. It's pretty cool to stand in a stadium and shake the hand of the guy it's named after.
November 23rd- Impending "blizzards" that freak everyone out, get me out of work 5 1/2 hours early, and don't actually amount to anything more than 3 inches of snow.
November 24th- Generous people who will give of their own means to help those in need and for Steph, whom I can always count on to go see silly movies with that I wouldn't see otherwise.
November 25th- Thanksgiving, family, and cranberry salad. I love holidays that are dedicated to good food and togetherness.
November 26th- Great SAB and MUSS Board volunteers, especially Jaime Bowen, TJ McMullin, and Dan Brinton who stood in the freezing temperatures with me for 6 hours to sell t-shirts and collect money for the Utah Food Bank. And for 7-11 hot chocolate with 2 French Vanilla creamers in it.
November 27th- Brandon Burton and his superman moves, for 17 points in the 4th quarter, and for toe warmers. Also for a Utah victory over always arrogant byu and the conviction that I'd rather be an 0-12 UTE than a 12-0 cougar.
November 28th- Sister Cahoon, who in the name of safety made all the soup and brownies for Linger Longer so the committee wouldn't have to travel in the winter weather.
November 29th- The end of the Rivalry Week Food Drive.
November 30th- My life. I have a wonderful family, amazing friends, a fantastic job, the comforts of life, a college education, shoes on my feet, food in my fridge, health insurance, faith, a sense of humor, an iPhone, and people who love me (among other things). I'm very blessed and I have a lot to be thankful for.

This month long blog post- which is probably the longest blog post ever- has really taught me what it's like to be thankful. It did achieve it's goal, as well. I have had a superb month; dwelling on the positive instead of the negative in my life improved everyday life for me and I'm sure my attitude made it easier for people to be around me. I am considering furthering this little project, only not on the blog. Then it would be the longest blog of all time, and I don't want that. Happy Everything!

Monday, October 11, 2010

28 Things I've Done Before 28

My birthday is this week. I'll be turning the ripe old age of 28. Now that I'm no longer a spring chicken, I thought I'd chronicle some of the things I've done thus far in my life, so that I can start using phrases such as "Back in my day..." and "In my time..." and "When I was your age...". So here we go.

1. Put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico in the same year.
2. Went to and dropped out of culinary school.
3. Was on the front row for Britney Spears on her Circus Tour.
4. Crossed the Pond to return to my motherland.
5. Was pictured on as a "College Football Super Fan".
6. Owned a Kate Spade bag.
7. Was a University of Utah Alumni Association Achievement Scholar.
8. Had an HGA1C of less than 7.
9. Became an "adult" by having my own health insurance.
10. Successfully kept my identity mine.
11. Learned how to play the system and get paid to go to school.
12. Inspired people to action through my life story.
13. Became a true believer in faith.
14. Began my love affair with Apple, Inc.
15. Had a real chef ask for my bread pudding recipe.
16. Buried 2 brothers.
17. Broke my back.
18. Found out who I am.
19. Became a college football fanatic.
20. Met my very best friends.
21. Discovered how much I really, really, dislike curry... and BYU.
22. Truly learned how invaluable my siblings (& parents) really are.
23. Learned the joys of living with 3 small children and how much their imagination can influence my own.
24. Became a florist.
25. Was/is an example of being true to your school.
26. Successfully received and rejected 2 transplanted organs, at different times.
27. Was Senior Class Vice President at the University of Utah, a position I never applied for.
28. Survived.

Maybe next I can do a bucket list: 30 Things to do before I'm 30. At the top of that list will definitely be "Graduate from College" and "Move out of my parent's house again". Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

UTAH Football, Re-starting Senior Year, and Hip Hop

Well here it is. September is upon us... thankfully. I'm pretty sick of summer. I need fall to fill my lungs and breathe new life into my soul. I thrive in the fall; I don't know if it's the change of the season and the fashion- fall fashion happens to be my favorite, all the jeans and sweaters and boots- or the gorgeous colors, or the food, or the football... it's most likely the football. Let's just be honest. I live for college football. On any given fall Saturday, you'll find me in a football stadium, screaming until I have no voice, or in front of the TV, pacing and yelling at the inanimate object in front of me that's just trying to project a picture. My family has never been huge football fans. My parents always held season tickets to that school down south, but we never made a big production out of football. My brothers like football well enough, but I LIVE and DIE by it. I shouldn't be surprised that I'm really the only one in my family who does; I'm also the only one below 5'7, and the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes, among other things. I guess I was always born to stand out from the rest of my family, be it in the smallest capacities.

Back to football. UTAH football kicks off this Thursday night against a 15th ranked Pittsburgh team. This is a 2005 Fiesta Bowl rematch of sorts. I wonder if Pitt is going to be out for revenge because of the embarrassment suffered at the hands of a "lesser" Utah team in a BCS bowl on a national stage. Whatever Pitt brings to the table, UTAH can handle it. The Utes have a talented team this year, and after a 10-3 "rebuilding" year last year and a PAC-10 invite, they're ready to show what this program is capable of. So I'm prepared. I've got my 2010 MUSS shirt and tickets, my UTAH face tattoos, my drum and feather decals on my nails. All I need is a tailgate and Thursday to be here so I can willing lose my voice and feel my most at home in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

School also recently started, as can probably be garnered by the aforementioned fact that college football is about to kick off. I restarted my senior year last week with three classes and a Student Alumni Board meeting. It was fantastic to be back in class and back at the Alumni House doing what I do best: being a student. Oh sure, I'll struggle through math and continue to give my English discussions the silent treatment, but I love being back in class. With only 9 credits this semester I'm trying to hold myself to a higher standard. I figure I should be able to devote the needed time to each class and the assigned schoolwork. Even math, the class where my brain automatically deviates to anything OTHER than the subject matter. Though I'll be on dialysis this semester, I'm not feeling too worried about it. I'm not going to lie, I was unsure after the first day if I'd be able to handle all this, but after the first week, and a morale boosting SAB meeting, I'm pretty sure I can. I would, after all, like this to be my FINAL senior year. This whole "8th year senior" thing is getting a litttttttle old.

And as a final thought, I would just like to say I love Lupe Fiasco. Can't get enough of him and hip hop lately. I'm so gangster it should be illegal. :) "I feel like murder but hip hop just saved my life."

Oh, and no kidney news yet. Just that I'm actually healthy enough to go to school and, more importantly, football games.

Monday, July 26, 2010


As of today, July 26th, 2010, I am OFFICIALLY ON THE TRANSPLANT LIST!!! The next step is just to wait and see what happens. Liz and I have also been enrolled in the Paired Donor Exchange as of today, and since they really want Liz's kidney, they'll work even harder to find someone who is a match with me. I kind of hope the PDE works out... it's a little weird to "hope" someone doesn't make it so that I can have their organ. I suppose it's just the wheel of the world. Nonetheless, I am very excited and happy and relieved to finally be on the list. It won't be soon before long that things will be happening. Today is a good day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I've been writing a lot lately; I don't know why this has suddenly begun. I've been writing poorly lately too, but then again, I don't know if I ever was actually writing particularly well to begin with. What follows are a few of the things I've turned out. Probably not the best, but definitely not the worst.


Drunken nights involving no liquor
keep me awake as my
imagination runs wild with
unlikely romantic notions.
Sensibility slinks in and hisses:
This life is not a romantic comedy.
There will be no grand declarations
of love. No last-minute-do-or-die
chases to the airport, no undying
adoration after only a weeks time.
The real-life duo of HeartBreak
and Bitter Disappointment are
sure to make a scene and
teach me what it really means
to burn when he sweeps
in and sets fire to my soul.

Poem for A Friend

I am at a stand still-
inspire me to motion.
Use your verbs, your
thoughts, your tongue,
your soul.
With the Aztec sun
behind you-
the unjammed highway
the stream without a dam
the vein without a clot
my heart that nearly stopped.
Become my heart that hasn't stopped.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Returning Home

This week, I went back to work. June 21st was more than just the Summer Solstice for me this year. It was the day my recent life took a step in the normal direction. I was excited to return to my job. It's not glamorous or particularly prestigious, but I love it. And I love the people I work with. I really lucked out with my position in the Social Research Institute in the College of Social Work. My bosses in SRI held my job for me for 6 months while I was too sick to work. My colleagues in the CSW donated their vacation hours to me so I could get paid while I was out. They donated so many hours, I was set up to get paid for nearly 6 months, and Jennifer had to turn people away because so many hours had already been donated.

I didn't get much work done on Monday. It was my first day back and Norma wanted to hold a "Welcome Back Coffee Hour" for me. I don't drink coffee but who was I to deny her? She seemed so excited to have me back... so we had a coffee hour. People came down and ate bagels and put hazelnut flavoring in their coffee and made the SRI lobby smell fantastic. And we talked and I answered questions and had people look at me with a look that spoke more of amazement than pity. The rest of the afternoon consisted of those who couldn't come to the coffee hour stopping by my desk to say mostly the same things: CSW employee "Sarah! It's so nice to have you back! You look great!" Me: "Thank you! It' really so nice to be back." Tuesday continued much the same, except for this time there was no coffee hour or hazelnut flavoring.

Today I took a FedEx package to the drop box in BEH next door to my office. As I walked through BEH, and past Psych bulletin boards and Chronie stands, I realized how much I had truly missed being on campus. I had spent all day everyday on the U of U campus for the past two years, and it had felt strange when I got sick because I wasn't there all the time. I didn't realize how strange it was until I actually returned. It was like returning home. If I could maneuver it, I would walk all the way around campus. I'd visit every building: The old, graceful buildings of President's Circle, the mid-century gems of OSH and MBH, the more recent, modern WEB and LNCO. I'd spend time in the Union, eat at Chartwell's and visit all my friends in ASUU. I haven't seen the office since all the new furniture has been in... I'd go hang out in the library and saunter around UMFA and take in the art. But I don't have the energy to climb the hills and stairs of my fair campus yet, so I'll have to wait. In the meantime, I'll walk downhill past the Field House to the TRAX station, and gaze at the football stadium and dream of September, and the day I can walk up HPER Highway again.

Nine hours at work doesn't feel so long anymore. I'm home. Home sweet home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life Without Kidneys

Well, I need to change the title of my blog to "The Best 9 Years" because I did not graduate this Spring and so it will be 9 years since I graduated from high school when I finally (here's hoping!) graduate from college. Things didn't exactly go as planned this year. I was supposed to finish my senior year, walk at commencement, and then fly to London for the study abroad I've been trying to go on for 3 years. Instead, my transplanted, and only, kidney rejected and failed in January. I had to drop my perfect class schedule, relinquish my position as Senior Class Vice President, go on Family Medical Leave at work and move out of my house in Officer's Circle.

Everything changed in January, and I became very angry and bitter because I hated it. I hated my life and everything about it. I started back on dialysis, something I vowed never to do again, and had multiple hospital stays throughout February. I was really sick, and my poor attitude and self pity didn't help the situation much. I ignored text messages and didn't return phone calls. I never checked facebook and when I did it just made me mad, all those people and their happy, healthy lives thinking they had real problems because their phones weren't working. I was really mad at my life because this was supposed to be my year and now it was all shot to hell. I didn't want visitors, I didn't want friends. I wanted to be left alone in my self loathing. It's easier to feel sorry for yourself than to face your problems and try to solve them with a positive attitude. At least that's what I led myself into believing.
I thought I'd get another transplant quickly. I had a donor (my wonderful sister Liz) and was only 27, so why should my medical team wait? Well, just because I had a donor doesn't mean she was a match. I know, you're thinking "But it's your sister, how can she NOT match??" My first kidney was donated by my brother Ben. My body developed antibodies against his DNA because I had his kidney. Being siblings, Liz and Ben share the same DNA, so those antibodies in my blood make her incompatible.
So I waited. And waited. And waited. I watched the deadline for London study abroad applications pass by, knowing I couldn't go. I endured hospitalizations and bone marrow biopsies and numerous tests to rule out diseases I knew I didn't have. I kept on with dialysis and had blood transfusions and wondered if I'd made the right decision leaving Dr. Cline's care as I began to feel like my medical team was... incompetent. On the same day I should have been graduating from college I had my transplanted kidney taken out. My mother spent her Mothers Day sitting with me in my IMCU room at University Hospital. As it turns out, that kidney was necrotic (meaning there was dead spots in the tissue of the kidney) and was likely what was making me so sick. The lymph node Dr. Nelson removed was unremarkable and ruled out the PTLD the team was afraid I had. PTLD is a form of post-transplant lymphatic cancer.

Since the surgery, I feel much better than I did before. I've even been out a few places with my sister and friends since the incision stopped hurting. (Word of advice: if you're thinking about going to see "Robin Hood", don't waste your time or money. It's awful.) I've registered for fall classes and The MUSS and I will be crushed if I can't return to school August 23rd. In a week or so I'll be cross matched with my sister again because my antibodies have changed, hopefully enough that she is now a match. I'll also be cross matched with one of my best friends, Stephanie, to see if she's a match. If all goes well, we could be having a transplant this summer. If neither Liz or Steph are matches, we'll enter the paired donor program, which cross matches you and your potential donor with others who are in a similar situation to find a match and a kidney for you.

For now, it's life without kidneys. Dialysis 3 times a week at 6 a.m. Being bored every day with nothing to do but take naps (it's not that great, trust me). Sitting, waiting, wishing, hoping for a miracle, and a new, working kidney, and renting movies from iTunes while I wait.