Monday, June 22, 2009

In Memoriam

Just over two weeks ago, my grandpa Walter Scott Barrett passed away as a result of an ongoing battle with cancer. His condition from the time I left on my mission to the time I returned, and especially in the last year of being home, had been in continual, but fairly gradual decline, and we were expecting the hear the news at any time. His letters were an inspiration to me in the hard times in Wisconsin, and he always wrote of perseverance and hard work. He was always interested in what was going on, whether I was training, preparing a family to be baptized, or just battling sub-zero degree weather. In part my namesake (we share middle names), he was all that a grandpa should be. He loved his grandchildren, but he wasn't afraid to say what was necessary to keep them in line. He will be greatly missed, but he is without a doubt happy and safe now, continuing in the work in which he so heartily believed during his life on earth. He has left a lasting impression on me and all those he knew. He loved life, art, family, and faith. His short-lived blog is truly a treasure trove of wisdom among the dregs of online rubbish that can be so easily accessed these days. I love reading his straight-forward and well-directed thoughts on the state of the world and our place in it. We've had the great pleasure of Grandma Julie staying with us at the house for the last week or two while she gets her bearings straight and begins the adjustment to her new life, but I have to say that both she and Mom are doing really well. It's times like these that it really helps to have the proper perspective and to understand the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation. He's not really that far away. The funeral service was really nice, all of his children were present, and there was a nice military tribute. There were those present who might have felt uncomfortable with the outright mention of faith and Gospel and Savior, but that was who Grandpa was and is, and that's what he believed. We'll miss him, but we know we'll see him again.

Thanks for everything, Grandpa Scott. You are an example of enduring to the end and living life the way that our Savior wants us to.

A few of my sisters have blogged about Grandpa in far finer fashion than I could, so I encourage you to read on there (here, here and here).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Biggest News of My Life from the Happiest Place on Earth

There have been just a few times in my life when news has been big enough to rock my world. I think this is the biggest news yet. A lot of people have probably been suspecting this for a while, but the time has come to spill the beans. The masses have been almost literally clamoring after all.

As most of you know, Julie and I have been dating officially for about six months now, but we've been kind of dating for over nine, though we've been in contact for over three years. Not long ago I decided that things were about to progress to the gloriously inevitable conclusion that I've been waiting for my entire life...

The graduation/roadtrip event was a big deal. It was kind of the time to think and observe (and talk to her dad...), and make some final decisions in my heart and mind. Everything felt right and things were right on track, so there was only one thing left to do.

I wanted to find the right ring. The Girl had some ideas for what she liked, though she wasn't really picky, and I had a pretty good feeling for what to look for. In the end, a custom design was the way to go...

28 May 2009, Disneyland, USA

I think the best way to go about the next part of this is to tell a story in photos (and for those interested, her report can be found here):

This baby was burning a hole in my pocket all day, just waiting for the right moment to emerge. I had Britney sneak a photo of it while Julie was riding the ladybug ride with Marissa.

She knew I was going to propose eventually, and even had an idea it might take place at Disneyland, but I had still been able to surround the trip with just the right amount of mystery. Disneyland seemed like it had to be the place in general, since (many of you may not know this) talking about Julie's first trip to Disneyland last summer was perhaps the main instigating incident to the development of our relationship as a couple. I was so pleased that she had taken my suggestions for her first visit so seriously, and that she had enjoyed her visit so much, since sometimes going to Disneyland for the first time as an adult isn't quite as exciting. She caught the magic instantly, and we talked for months after about how that was such a big factor in bringing us together, so I was pretty sure that had to be the place, especially since we had such a perfectly-timed trip to the west coast coming up. I had been asking around quietly for suggestions on how and where to propose at Disneyland, and I even went so far as to email into one of my Disney podcasts (they totally read my email on the show, I was so stoked). I received a lot of good ideas, and was really grateful for them all, but it was really hard to find just the right time and place. Then, early evening at the Wishing Well in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Castle seemed the one meant to be. While her family were getting some dinner for the kids, I asked her to take a little walk with me. I just had to get that ring out of my pocket and onto her finger. The crowds cleared fairly well just in time for me to put my plan into action. She wasn't sure if I had been able to get a ring done in time, so I decided to capitalize on her uncertainty. I bought a souvenir Disneyland ring, sterling silver with diamond rhinestones set in a Mickey head and a star, and told her that I bought her a souvenir. I showed the decoy bauble to her and she liked it, but looked a little confused as to what finger it belonged on. I just couldn't stand to keep her in suspense for much longer, but mostly because I was way too excited to see her reaction. So, I went down on one knee...

... said some lovely words that I only thought about for a little while previously...

... produced the diamond...

... which earned me a li'l kiss...

...and she was so happy...

... which made me so happy!

(Some of these photos were part of a reenactment two days later, by the way, in case you were wondering why our clothes were different or something. Elise was only a little put out that I hadn't informed them of the when and where so they could covertly document the event in photographs, but we gladly played it out again a couple days later just for the paparazzi.)

I think she likes it!!!

I do believe we've found a new spot for a traditional Disneyland photo.


A few people stopped to ask if we had just become engaged and were so excited to share in the glow in which we were basking (they must have seen her admiring the ring and me admiring her finger in the ring), which was not merely due to the sparkle of the setting sun reflecting off the pond and the castle. And then we had a few people to inform. Now, some of the aftermath shots:

Telling Elise, Jeff and Britney the big news.

Elise is so excited her brother will finally wed and she will have a lovely new sister-in-law!

Britney is sad that she has no shiny bling of her own!

Sisters (and cousins) do as sisters (and cousins) should!

I'm pretty sure that Sarah wins the prize for best photograph-captured reaction. Priceless.

(Jeff was too overcome with emotion to be seen on camera.)

So there you have it. We promptly obtained some "Just engaged!" buttons from Guest Services and were treated to congratulations from Cast Members and guests alike for the next two glorious days. I've never been to Disneyland with a lover, and it made it easily the most fun I've ever had at the Happiest Place on Earth. So no, my proposal didn't involve costumed characters, chocolate glass slippers, fireworks (in truth, there were no fireworks that night) or an impromptu musical number down Main Street, but I think it happened the way it was supposed to. Subdued, intimate, personal, memorable, and just the right amount of magic. Really, proposing at Disneyland, you can hardly go wrong.

We're thinking about 15 August in the Mt. Timpanogos temple. Clear your calendars.

For those of you who know anything about my past, this is a huge deal to me for many reasons. I've been waiting to find my companion all my life, and I've finally found someone who complements and completes me in every way. What I lack, she's makes up, where I falter, she lifts me, and where I'm missing some pieces, she fills in the blanks. We're a team now. I can't think of anyone with whom I would rather spend eternity. I love you, baby!

P.S. We've been secretly engaged since 21 March. It's always been one of her life desires to be secretly engaged. Tricked you, suckas!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I have really big news to publish later, but before I do that, I want to post this.

For the first time in, ummm, like five years, I am gainfully employed. To me this means that I have a job that I go to, then I do some work, then I come home and then every couple weeks I get a steady paycheck. I am so stoked to count myself among the employed again, and while I still have high ambitions for the subject of my education, this is a really good opportunity to get my feet on the ground after a long year of school with dubious results, and also to make some money for... the future. Legacy Directories is a local company that makes phone books for several communities in many states (and even some for Canada). Elise has been working for them for several months, and they have been clients of Dad's for many years, and they have been looking for more advertisement designers. We had played phone tag for the last part of the semester, but honestly, I couldn't have hoped to work during school this year. Turns out they were looking to hire in late May (which worked out perfectly for my roadtrip plans), and when I finally had an interview, it went really well. I waited to hear from them, and I was hired just in time to work one whole day before taking off (taking another of their designers with me) to the west coast! I was kind of hoping for (read: expecting) them to hire me if they were looking for another artist, since they just love Dad and have only the nicest of things to say about Elise. I guess I have some expectations to meet, but I'm down with that.

So now, not only am I working, but I am working in an actual art-related field! My aesthetic sensibilities are actually being put to use, and I'm getting paid to use them! I can afford gas and other necessities of life! It's honestly kind of an adjustment to get used to working every day again, especially in a 9 to 5 capacity, but it's an adjustment I'm more than willing to deal with. One thing that I am having a hard time acclimating to (which I expected) is using a Mac. Dooooh, that spinning rainbow of death... And to those who think Macs are so much more user-friendly than PCs and that they never ever crash, I'm now convinced you're living in a dream world. Still, I feel like I'm already getting a hang of the network and system there, and Elise is a great trainer. I feel so lucky to also get to work side by side with my little sister! We're just such wonderful friends, and now she can pay back all the artistic advice and counsel I gave her growing up by directing me and teaching me the ways of the graphic design side of things.

Yay for having a job and making money and being an asset to the community.