Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today I Love Barfaroni


I can still picture coming home to Moon House and finding I Will Always Love You playing throughout the house.  Strange.  As I rounded the corner, I noticed the lights were dimmed and the candles were lit.  I moved forward cautiously, knowing that I was on the cusp of some sort of shenanigan.  Bart comes into sight and corners me whilst quoting his famous speech from My Best Friend's Wedding.*  He works the room and milks it for all it's worth until he has me Quarterbacked against the wall.  I can't take it anymore and bust out laughing as I started punching.  Hey, he deserved to be "hit on," right?

Another time, we found all the foosball men on our table were missing.  Later that evening we received an anonymous call to look out our back second-story windows.  What did we find?  All the foosball men had been strung from the roof, dressed as little Phantom's of the Opera, and were dangling in front of our windows.  

And so goes my relationship with Bart.

We once hiked Mount Nebo together - it's a 14,000-footer for those who know hiking.  Put me on a four-foot high balance beam and ask me to flip and I've no problem.  But put me on a 10-foot wide ledge 10,000 feet high and I freeze.  He and Cassie stuck by me every step of the last spine so that I could make it to the top.  Once I got there, the trip down was a breeze.  Well, after I fell, ripped a nice hole in the bum of my pants, and shouted, "They're pink.  Get over it."

Our little mountain hike may be kind of symbolic of our friendship.  Sometimes, when I didn't feel I could go on, Bart stood by me until I could move on my own.  And if I stumbled a little?  He was there to laugh with me.  About six years ago I went through the biggest heartbreak of my life.  Bart was there, even in the midst of law school and law review, he was there.

Ultimate frisbee is one of my biggest passions.  Bart is to blame.  He made certain to give all of us females a "tutorial" at least once per week and organized games for us to practice our new skills.  I still like to think I'd make him so proud every time I play.  He is one of the few men I know who will help a person learn a sport until they become adequate rather then telling them they can't play because they aren't good enough.

When I started getting involved in physical fitness again in 2004, Bart was constantly encouraging me and keeping me on track.  I don't even know if he realizes he was doing this.  Partly because of his inspiration and example, I was able to go from obese to fit.

Whenever I had a rough day or a wonderfully exciting day, we had a code text to go out and celebrate or commiserate.  I loved our outings together.  If ever I had a big brother separated from birth, Bart would be him.  I've actually been acquainted with at least one person in Bart's family since 1998 - that's practically family, right?  Man, I can't even begin to get into all of the hilarious stories and pranks and conversations...

I would not be who I am today if it weren't for Bart.  My life would not have taken the same paths in any way.  All of the things I've been able to do because I'm healthy, all of the friends I have made playing ultimate frisbee, all of the bonding evenings spent planning the next prank...all thanks to Bart.  I love looking back on my friendships and realizing how intricate of a role someone has played in directing my paths.  When I first met this man on the front porch of Pinegar Apartments, I never in a million years would have imagined how he would change me.

Bart, I love you to the moon and back.  A million times over. 

*Suddenly, a familiar song. And, you're off your chair in one, exquisite movement... wondering, searching, sniffing the wind like a dapple deer. Has God heard your little prayer? Will Cinderella dance again? And then, suddenly, the crowds part and there he is: sleek, stylish... radiant with charisma. Bizarrely, he's on the telephone. But then, so are you. And then he comes towards you... the moves of a jungle cat. Although you quite correctly sense that he is... gay (Bart always changed this to "not available", as he's as straight as the day is long)... like most devastatingly handsome single men of his age are, you think... what the hell. Life goes on. Maybe there won't be marriage... maybe there won't be sex... but, by God, there'll be dancing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today I Love Nichole

Nichole is all smiles!

If you ever want to feel as if the stars are sparkling just for you, go to Nichole. 
I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but you know those people that you meet and you just know you've found a new best bud? 

I met her at a bonfire after closing night of Bye Bye Birdie, but didn't really meet her until auditions for 1940s Radio Hour.  There she was, in the heat of competition with me over a role in the show, and she couldn't have been nicer, more complimentary, or more of a challenge to keep up with!  Luckily, we both ended up with roles in the show and, as a result, permanent roles in each others' lives.

Aside from her glowing happiness and enthusiasm and talent, the trait I look up to her most for is her honesty.  She is.  She doesn't try to hide the bad or the good that has made her who she is.  She doesn't hide when she is feeling sad- she lets you know and does her best to move on.  The thing is, she lets you know in a way that helps your life, in a way that you can learn and grow from her and what has helped her to do the same. 

If you are ever in competition for a role in a show with her, watch out - she's immensely talented and has this natural ability to develop a character and add little quirks that truly bring the show/character to life.  I've never seen her perform a role and thought, "I can do better."  Nope.  Hats off to Nichole! 

And doesn't she look a little like Liv Tyler?  She's gorgeous! 

I look forward to every chance we have to do a girls' night or meet up somewhere.  She makes me feel loved and I hope I return the favor.

I love you, Nichole!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today I Love Brooke

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to go to a Utah Symphony Frank Sinatra tribute concert with Brooke and man do I love her!

We first began to discover the awesomeness of each other on a trip to San Francisco a couple of years ago.  She soon moved in with Leah and Kristie and the fun really began.

I loved watching her sparkle while she taught Relief Society lessons in church.  I always felt as if she were inspired to say exactly the thing I needed to hear.

That's one of the things I look up to her most for - her ability to be in tune and act on those feelings.  Whenever we are able to have a serious conversation, something comes out that makes me just about want to cry out of gratitude or humility.  You can never doubt your self-worth around her, nor can you question the sentiments she expresses to you because she could not be more sincere.  Her heart-felt words leave you no choice but to stand up and be true to who you are as a daughter of God.  Her loyalty, sacrifices, and concern for those she loves truly encompass who she is.

On top of all of that encompasses the deeper, more fulfilling things in life, Brooke is FUN!  She will never cease to make you laugh and join in on whatever absurdity you are participating.  And she does this crazy babydoll eye's...well, you just have to see it.

Brooke - I love you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Today I Love Kristie

Kristie is a doll - that's the first thing that comes to mind.  She's an absolute treasure.

I've known this darling for awhile, but I think we've truly gotten to know each other through stalking each other's blogs

She always has something entirely real and inspiring to share.  If she has a bad day?  She shares that sometimes life isn't perfect and what she does to deal with it.  I've discovered some new music through her, inspiring quotes, and always look forward to reading from someone else who geeks out about their pets:-)

I like to think I hold a special place in the heart of Kristie because I may have nudged her hubby her direction.  They would have ended up together regardless, I have this feeling, but ya makes me feel nice that I said, "Hey, you should ask out Kristie!"  Readers, my services are available any time!

Over the summer, she posted on her blog about what her and Karl did every weekend and I have to say I was always quite impressed with what they came up with - even if it was simply cooking a meal together, they did it with so much panache!  She shares entertaining stories about sleep-talking, work, and just general life-related ordeals.

From her soft pink, blemish-free skin to the deepest part of her heart, she is filled with tenderness - I think this is what makes her so easy to love.  Her kindness and gentleness are part of her nature - I don't think she's ever had to sit back and work at being more sympathetic or more understanding - she just is.  I am always excited to see Kristie because she is always excited to see me!  That makes it so easy, doesn't it?  And she'll listen to me go on and on about just about anything and doesn't seem to mind a bit.  Now that is someone worth loving!

Beautiful Kristie, you are a prize - I love you!

San Francisco!
Chili Halloween party at Stringham's in '08.  Me?  Straight from gym.  Kristie?  Too cute.

My birthday party in '09...bad angle for me, but Kristie looks adorable! that Karl right behind us before they even dated?  Precious:-)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today I Love Leah

Leah Jacobs has changed my life.

I'm serious.

Leah took me under her wing and is one of my biggest advocates.  She is loud and sassy and has a personality as big and bright as the sun. 

Once upon a time, I dated a young man whom she had indicated to me had interest, which piqued my interest and the rest is history.  And then we stopped dating.  And then Leah said, "Hey, Riss, why don't you come audition for Nunsense with me?  I know you love performing and you'd be great as the novice.  Just come.  You've got nothing to lose."

Doesn't heartache always get you to do crazy things you wouldn't otherwise do?  I think that is the only part I like about break-ups - how they break your shell too.

I auditioned.  After not having performed in about nine years, I got the part of the ballerina nun Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense.  Leah earned the part of Sister Robert Anne.  Soon thereafter, we were in another musical together.  Commence practically six months of being together.

Leah also does my hair.  After our performing adventures together, I knew her dream of going to New York City.  I found a killer deal and organized a group of people to go.  She wanted to, but didn't know how she'd find the funds.  Let's just say, she and I worked out a little arrangement where she would give me a certain amount of hair services and I would fund her to come with us.  Best. Arrangement. Ever.

Leah is by far one of the most nurturing people I know.  She is fiercely protective of those she loves, so it is a good thing she loves something about practically everyone.  You know those people that you walk into a room with and then five minutes later you are best friends with everyone in the room?  That's my Leah:-)  There is something about her that makes you feel alright in the world - like everything is going to be okay.  She has come to support me at every show I've been in - after all, she is the reason I got into the theater scene here in Utah - I don't know if I ever would have been strong enough to try without her.

I have many unforgettable memories with Leah.  Several of them stick out to me.  Last year around Valentine's, I was having a bummer of a time.  Leah and Brooke took it upon themselves to take me to Five Guys (cause why have one when you can have five?!), buy me some nail polish, and invite me over for a chick flick.  I also spent New Year's with them that year over a nice assortment of Chinese take out, a movie, and laughter.  I cannot even count the amount of performances and events we have been to together, however, the one that stands out the most to me is Idina Menzel.  Leah may or may not have an obsession with Wicked and Idina is the original star.  I invited her to come to the outdoor concert in Deer Valley with me and at several points, she was so overcome with joy that she was crying.  I love this lady!   Whenever I watch Leah perform, I'm about busting with pride at the seams telling everyone around me, "That's my friend!  That's MY friend!  Isn't she amazing?!"  Seriously folks, saying Leah is talented isn't the half of it.

Leah is never, ever one to hold back her gratitude and love for you.  She will lavish you with praise when you deserve it and slap your behind into gear when you don't.  Of all of these entries, I haven't yet felt that there is no way to describe in words the way I feel about the individual, but, with Leah...I just can't quite manage.  I guess you can say she keeps me speechless...probably because I'm always laughing too hard:-)   

Leah - I love you, I love you, I love you!!!

Leah helping me with my microphone/hair/makeup before a show

This is what I look like when Leah is doing my hair.  So hot, huh?

At Melissa's Karaoke birthday party - see Melissa in the background singing! Yep, I'm definitely not wearing any makeup...

Group Trip to NYC


Leah love at my birthday '09

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today I Love Mel

"Snitker?  You ain't chocolate!  You white!"
That quote is from one of my favorite stories of Mel's and it happened on her mission.  You'll have to ask her for the full story, as I could never do it justice.

I think Mel gets the award for having the most photos on my blog prior to be written about.  I've been coast-to-coast with Mel - San Fran to NYC!  In just a little while, we are even planning for a girls' trip to Vegas with Megs and Julie.

Thinking of the trip, I better watch my back, as Mel has been known to be involved in the plotting of quite a few pranks.  Before she and Anna were married (not to each other, sillies), I'd often see them running around town and, yes, they were those girls running that all the male passersby were quite happy to see.   One of our friends decided to snatch her up and make her his for eternity - brilliant fellow.  Also brilliant?  That he is friends with most of us from his single days and is all-the-more supportive of her spending time with us because he already likes us:-)

When I think of Mel, two things in particular stand out - her strength and her softness.  She has been through challenges that I don't know if I could stand.  She is much like the ladies of Steel Magnolias in that she faces her trials head-on with fervor, yet that same fervor of tenderness fills her heart.  I really don't think it would be uncommon to see the glisten of a tear in her eye while simultaneously laughing.  I picture having heart-felt conversation with her while walking through the streets of San Francisco and then the next minute she and Julie are jumping up and down twenty times for the perfect photo and we are singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs.  I'll never forget coming back to the hotel in NYC, soaking wet, and finding my room full of my girls watching a movie.  We'd all been traipsing around town in the freezing, pouring rain.  The warmth I felt as I returned was indescribable. Not just the way they'd pumped up the heat to toast us, but the love and happiness and contentment I felt with all of them that evening...those are the moments all the good stuff in life is made of.  Mel is always honest and truthful, yet knows when discretion is necessary (and when someone is jogging around dressed as Santa in really short shorts is not the time).  On top of everything, man is this gal a hard worker!  She's an example to me of friendship, of perseverance in love, and of dedication to the gospel. 

Mel, I love you!!!


I  have no idea what this was for or where we were, but Kristie uploaded it in February of '09...musta been a blast!  Good thing I didn't have any boogies...  :-)
Megan's wedding!
New York City '10
My birthday party '09
San Francisco '09

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today I Love Chris Kennedy

Chris is the final member to complete my season-tickets-at-the-Capitol trifecta. 

I first met him on the ultimate frisbee field.  Man, does this guy play with no-holds-barred.  Then I found out he was involved in theater and I remember saying to him, " you are a theater guy."  Boy, was I relieved to find out he doesn't follow the stereotype.  For the record, none of my male theater friends follow the stereotypical overly-self-absorbed and dramatic sterotype:-)

Chris is one of the most dependable, responsible, worthy men you will ever encounter.  This past summer, my sister's friend passed out at my pool and started having convulsions.  I calmed everyone down and gathered them up to the hospital.  Immediately, I called Chris to see if he could come give our friend a priesthood blessing.  Sure enough, with a half an hour, he and his roommate were there.

One day at church a couple of years ago, I was feeling terribly alone and who should come invite me to a steak dinner, but Chris.  I arrived to discover it was me and six dudes.  That'll cheer a girl right up!  I even ended up dating one of those dudes for about four months.  Random, isn't it?

Chris is the first one to jump at a game night until 2am or movie nights or going to get food or playing frisbee.  He's participated in enough activities with me to know the unspoken rule I have that if someone else drives, I'll pay for parking and/or gas (I hate driving downtown).  He knows that if I have food, I'll undoubtedly only eat half and he's welcome to the rest.  He also knows the more important rule that I love food, but don't splurge often, so he doesn't push that.

I tell you these things because Chris is very aware about the details in the lives of a lot of his friends.  He tries to accommodate what makes them who they are and asks nothing in return - not even that you love him back.  He served many men dutifully in his church calling, for which he received no reward, yet he dedicated his life to serving his best.

And, ladies - he's single!  If you want set up, let me know!

Chris,  I love you!

Melissa and I making Chris a very happy man before Young Frankenstein

Halloween '11 - Hello Mr. Darcy in the background (aka Christopher Adam Cloud)

Me and Chris at Les Mis

He played Kim's beau Hugo in Bye Bye Birdie with me

Luke Singleswarder at the Off Broadway in SLC.  That other goofy guy is BJ.  Oh, and a storm trooper.

Jon and Chris and Melissa came over for Cincinnati-style chili and Melissa laughed when she caught us all in this much that we had to see what the fuss was and, well, it's pretty good:-)

St. George with BJ, Jon, Chris, and Melissa

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today I Love Julie-Ann

Julie-Ann, or JA as I refer to her in short, is a class act.

My very first birthday up in Salt Lake, she, Jake, and I had a triple-threat birthday party together.  You see, I wanted to have a party with all of my new friends, but I knew JA and Jake were so terribly popular, unless I combined forces, I'd be no competition for their parties:-)

Later that winter, JA randomly invited me to a movie and we bonded over girl talk (which means boys, let's just get that clear, as if there were a question).  As if JA weren't amazing enough on her own, she soon moved in with Shayla, another of my favorites, and we all ended up becoming quite close.  We used to all e-mail back and forth all day long during slow times, which definitely added a bright spot to my days.

JA was the first person to coerce me into trying Zumba.  Now, I loved the class and found it fun, but I also found myself wishing I were married so I could go home and try the moves on my hubby!  Ha!  I hear so many ladies talking about how it is a killer workout and I just wasn't feeling any more worked than normal - I didn't even get sore:-(  Regardless, I love running into Julie-Ann at the gym - we chatted on the elliptical machines for almost twenty minutes last time we had a random run-in.

So what is her stand-out quality that makes me love her so much?  Her strength.  Whether she is plowing through schooling, church responsibilities, or relationships, she constantly remains strong.  Her testimony of the gospel is intense.  I feel the love she finds because of that testimony oozing out of her as she supports her family and runs her own life.  She will not tolerate any person being treated with less than the utmost respect and Christ-like care and she will be the first to tell you if you are treating someone, or being treated, inappropriately.  I love the balance of her strength - how she is tender-hearted and so, so kind, yet stands firm.  Most importantly, she has leant me her strength when I felt I had none and has let me encourage her in those times when she needs it...balance is a harmonious, beautiful thing.

Julie-Ann has a joyful laugh to go alone with her dazzling, bright, huge smile.  Thankfully, I get to see that smile often.  She's always up for an adventure - something I cherish in my friends since I'm always seeking out the next fun place to visit or activity to try.

Julie-Ann, I love you!!!

NYC Subway

Paradise Bakery for Megan

San Francisco - me, Liz, Jules, Colleen, Kristie, Brooke, Megan, Mel, JA

Our birthday party!  Thanks for the cake, Julie!

Outdoor movie night at Kristen Luck's - how is it JA looks SO much more warm and composed than Megan and I?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today I Love Chelsey

Several of my favorite songs have Chelsey's name in them, so I really can't ever quit thinking about her:-)

The thing that sticks out the strongest in my mind about Chels is her supportiveness.  You throw a party, she will do everything she can to be there, even if for only a few minutes.  She also always makes sure you are included in get-together invitations, activities, sporting events, etc.  I think that support is her way of letting me know she loves me.  All of the things she has helped me with over the past four years have not been because she felt obligated, but have been because she loves me and wants to be there for me. 

Chelsey doesn't need to see you every day to pick up a conversation you had two months ago.  Each day she doesn't see you does not affect her opinion of you, but each day she does see you makes her love you more and more.  And she makes me laugh.  Hard.  Three cheers for friends with a "scandalous" sense of humor.

She and I have helped each other through a lot of challenges, the most fun of the challenges would be Ultimate Frisbee games, of course!  I cannot count the amount of frisbee games we have played, nights we have stayed up talking past 2am, good food we have shared, pool-side chats, laughter, movie nights, the list goes on and on.  Whenever I have needed help with anything musical, she's always one of the first to offer up her skills and I could not be more grateful.  We spent a lot of time together during our stake musical a few years ago and man can that girl dance!  You can see the passion in her come alive if you give her a beat and let her fly. 

The less-fun of our challenges may have broken better people, but not us. 

Chelsey, I love you so very much!
My surprise birthday party in '10 (and Jake!)
So proud of our shirts at my A Christmas Story party in '10
What a great gang!  Blake, Chops, Toni, Leah, and Chels at my birthday in '09

Halloween Dance '10

No photo montage of Chels would be complete without Ultimate Frisbee (Hey Chops and Jordan)
No photo montage would be complete also without food - this is us at Paradise Bakery in Bountiful celebrating Megan

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today I Love Jon Scott

Any Fringe fans out there?  Anyone?  Anyone?! 

Cause if you are, you'll recognize this as the name of a very handsome fellow in the first few episodes.

If you aren't, you'll recognize this as the name of one of the most friendly, adventurous, caring men I know.

Memories, hmm...countless game nights, countless e-mails, an Alaskan Cruise, two year's worth of touring Broadway productions at the Capitol Theater, him choreographing a tap dance number for Nunsense, giggling at him as Collins in Price and Prejudice, many a debate about relationships, the stake musical production, St. George, the list goes on. 

Jon is actually the lucky recipient of many, many a date with Melissa.  Together, they are the creators of the game Witness Protection Program.  Groups of people all over the state gather together on a regular basis to have a fun evening of Witness.  I aspire to be as fun as these two:-)

Jon's also quite the chef, always whipping up something new in the kitchen and inviting any and all to try.  Of course, he loves to share with me because he knows I'm pretty passionate about food.  Speaking of food, Jon saw Shayla and I change our lives with a fitness program we were doing and he decided to try it out too.  He got so fit and rugged that even the men were complimenting him!

This brings me to one of the things I admire most about Jon.  He is constantly sitting back and evaluating his life position.  The minute he sees where improvement can be made, he strives for those things, whether it be physical health, spiritual health, or as simple as needing to dress a little more snazzy.  He also loves to push himself to full capacity, but he is very aware of when to say "when."  I've met many men who are so dedicated to work or their hobbies or their schooling, that they put off everything else in life - including relationships.  But Jon?  He knows that relationships are the foundation of the best things in life and the best things in eternity. 

Personality-wise, Jon is just crazy bursting with energy and excitement.  Sometimes you may sit back and think, "What?!  No way am I joining in on this..." but you just can't help but find his enthusiasm contagious.  (I think he gets a lot of this from his mom - she's stupendous!)
Most importantly, Jon always lets me know he thinks I'm super-cool, super-beautiful, and super-loved.

I love you, Jon!

Dancing after dinner on our Alaskan Cruise
Jon's game that shocks the last person to buzz in - clearly a HUGE party favorite - everyone is laughing!

One of my favorite stories - Don opened the bottle of Martinelli's and the top flew right into Jon's eye!  I am laughing just typing this - it was too hilarious.
My birthday party in '10
Halloween '10
Halloween '11

Observe his shirt...and the weird way he's looking at me.  Gotta love it.