Where I’ve been

2 Nov

Dear everyone,

I realize that I have been completely absent from writing for all of summer and now the beginning of fall. Which is a bummer, because the title of this blog is Sincerely, Elisabeth and Annette and you’ve been deprived of 50% of what we’re advertising. So, because I really don’t like false advertising (no really! I watch countless informercials for comic relief!), Elisabeast is now back on the scene.

It’s been awhile. So bear with me if this post doesn’t live up to any kind of standard of wit and eloquence. I just want to lay down where I’ve been.

As you probably know, I had an internship at the Cincinnati Zoo working at the Cat Ambassador Program. This is our page on the zoo website, and this is our blog. Well, as you probably didn’t know, the internship actually turned into a big-girl job. The program had to move staff around, and suddenly there was an emergent need for a seasonal employee, and I was extremely blessed to be offered the job, and became the youngest trainer assistant at the program so far. Now, after being at the zoo for almost 6 months, my seasonal position is coming to a close. And now all I can do is reflect on what the experience has taught me about myself, where I fit in the world, and where I want to go.

You know, in high school, I was pretty ambitious. And by pretty ambitious, I mean manically driven to change the world without any perspective on what I was realistically capable of, what was reasonably plausible, and what I was actually passionate about. I wanted everything. I wanted to be the Olympic athlete, the only non-corrupt politician, the next incredible leader that generations of children would study in history books – “This is the girl that brought world peace. This is the girl that brought polar bears back from extinction. This is the girl that ended world hunger and global warming, and found a humane alternative to animal testing in laboratories – and she did it all before she was 25.”

I thought this was all possible because I wanted it so bad. I feel like I’ve written a post about this previously…that sentence just gave me some major deja vu. I based my educational experience on what I knew I was capable of, where I thought I needed to be to get the ball rolling, and under the impression that things always work out for the good guy.

After one terrible year, complete with depression and bad break ups and burnt cupcakes and broken taillights and major changes in plans of all shapes and sizes, I spent the past 6 months recovering. I spent the summer repairing my comic book-esque perception of reality: that the good guy always wins. That motivation and ambitions are the only true superpowers, and that’s all you really need to win your battles.

You still need motivation and ambition, sure. But, as it turns out, you need a lot of other things too. You need a lot of other things, not just to be successful,but to survive.

Where have I been? I’ve been getting myself together. I’ve been working on those skills that I thought I already had, but learned the hard way I most certainly did not.

Here’s a list. It’s been a long time since I’ve done an infamous list, so here’s a little refresher course:

1. I’ve learned that success isn’t the only place that happiness comes from. Happiness comes from anything if you try to see it: A cool breeze in the morning and the comfortable warmth of a late summer night. Being feet away from a real, breathing polar bear. A fresh polo after being completely soaked with sweat. A purring cheetah that says, to me, at least: “I’m content as long as I have a comfortable bed, a pan of raw meat, and a little human companionship. And that’s all I need to purr for hours.”

Being able to sleep solidly through the night without drugs. I love this life.

2. I’m only as tough as I let myself be. So I went headfirst and embraced my inner toughness. If I let the world walk all over me, it’s going to keep doing it until I stand up. That’s basic operant conditioning yo. I’m strong. When our house was robbed this past July, I wasn’t freaked out.When what we suspected were the previous robbers returned to run up and down our ally just to freak us out, I didn’t freak. We barricaded the doors, and armed ourselves with a shovel and a hockey stick just in case. I survived some crazy stuff this year – am I really going to be afraid of something as mundane as some hood thug, in my own house? No. Do the gunshots in Avondale scare me? No. If the answers to those things are no, should I really be afraid of my usual suspects? Failure? Mediocrity? Mental illness?

The answer is unequivocally no.

3. And going along with #2, I learned I can improvise. When money was tight this summer, I did what I had to do: I survived on a box of cereal for three days, I sold blood plasma like a boss, and started dog sitting with my roommate Audra. I worked unpaid 40 hours a week and 25-30 hours a week at the pool. If I could handle that, what’s a little schoolwork? What’s a little gym sesh? What’s embracing the life I want to live, even if it takes a little sweat and tears?

4. I want to write something about the connection between my brain and my heart, about how it’s getting better, about how I like to think before I act, about how sometimes “You only live once” is a great life motto, but sometimes it’s a little too all or nothing to be beneficial to rational thought, and maybe I don’t need to do anything and everything just to feel alive…but then I realize this isn’t really true of me. It never has, it probably never will be, and for now, I’m so cool with it. I live through experience. I live for the story. I live to be loud and passionate and unpredictable. I live for the kicks that make my life uniquely mine. And that’s justme. Maybe the connection between my brain and my heart is better because I’m cognizant of it. It’s whatever. I’m inviting you to come along for the ride.

5. I think I’ve always known that you need good music to make it through. Over the course of time, I find I really like dubstep. And this song, this song, this song, and this song.

I have so much more to put on the list. But I find some of the things that I’ve learned/skills I’m trying to acquire are hard to verbalize, and sometimes come down to simple, sometimes one-word explanations.

Peace. Learning to breathe. Poetry in motion. Shooting guns. Gratitude. Rolling with my homies. Recovery. I’ve experienced all of these things. Grew from them. And became some kind of better-adapted, level-headed, focused individual somehow.

I’m back ya’ll. And I really want to tell you more stories, but I have a lab report due and two midterms on Friday. So I’ll save those explanations for you for some other time, I absolutely promise. Catch you on the flipside.




“Then don’t stand idly looking on…”

26 Sep

I heard a quote…or maybe I read it…and you must forgive me for not remembering the source:

“If you’re wrong, it’s ok.  Sometimes your wrong.  But if you are right, you better speak up”

This makes me think of the motto of sorts for ldswave.org:

“If only one voice is spoken, only one voice will be heard”

Which makes me think of something President Hinckley once said in an interview:

“He [Heavenly Father] could change things, yes.  But there is no agitation for that.  We don’t find it”

And these three quotes make me think of a little something Evan told me yesterday.

“Annette, I think you’re right.  None of these things you are feeling and thinking are any reason to fee bad.  You are not the only one who feels this way. You’re not crazy. You’re not broken.  People will start questioning.  People will start talking.  Things will change. “

Me: “Everyone is too scared say anything”

“Well, then why don’t you do it.”

So I will.


13 Sep



I don't smile like that for anything else


Grace in your heart. Flowers in your hair. –Mumford and Sons

11 Sep

Dear Elisabeth,

I have some things on my mind.

Life is getting so crazy for us.  You are working ALL DAY at your awesome new job wherein you freaking work with Cheetahs.  I know it is hard and exhausting, but it is what you have always wanted to do.  And the opportunities that are going to come from all this work you are doing now are going to blow your mind.  If anyone can do it, you can do it.  So, just keep going.  Take it all in stride, because you have the “stuff” needed to handle anything.  You can do hard things.  You taught me that I can do hard things through that example.

Elisabeth, I sure as heck miss you.  I ran across the pictures we took from when you visited Las Vegas, and I loved looking at those memories again.  Remember all those adventures we had? Remember the hookah incident? Remember all the minor traffic violations? Remember that time I visited Ohio, and we killed a racoon on the way to get smore stuff and screamed for a minute at least.  And remember how we talked for hours in your backyard? And remember how we STILL have to go running together?

We have had some seriously good times Elisabeth Hieber.

You know how when something else crazy happens in one of our lives and we  say “Well, THAT is going in the movie about our lives.”  I have been thinking about what viewers of our movie would be thinking right now.  The two protagonists (uh…that’s us…) seem to be going in such different directions! What with that spunky Elisabeth and all her UC adventures, driving men crazy wherever she goes! And that Annette character, about to get married and stuff.  It seems to me the viewers might think that the protagonists will soon recognize their veering paths, have one more serious conversation about how they will always respect each other and remember what they have learned from the other, and sing a song like this, but will just accept that they have just grown too different and will say their goodbyes.

But, we both know that is not going to happen.  For a reason I call the “X-Factor” of our relationship, it doesn’t matter how much our paths veer.  We always end up staying connected.  We always seem to be able to bridge the gap…or in some cases we just seem to teleport to visit the other.  I dunno how it works.  I don’t know what it is that keeps us together, but SOMETHING does and for that I am grateful.  More grateful than I can ever hope to express.

I love your guts.  I want the best for you in everything.  I want complete success for you.  I want you to find your own Evan who can take what you thought was a perfectly happy life and give you happiness you never even thought possible.

Anyway, I have gone off on a lot of tangeants! What I really wanted to do with this post was suggest this song become part of our movie’s soundtrack.

It just makes me think of you.  It is so determined and hopeful.  Just like you.


So anyways, I guess I just want to say that I love how different we are, and how we still never grow apart.

Thank heaven for freshmen Biology, Geometry and English. 🙂

This is you these days

This is also you. (In case you didn't know...)

This is me these days

And this is me too.


But this is us. And it always will be. 

And don't you freakin forget it Missy!




I couldn’t decide on a picture, but I think we can all think of our own.

7 Sep

“The task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we’re entitled to hate.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner

I have a little ball of tinfoil on my shelf. This is why.

4 Sep

Once I realized I couldn’t be Anastasia when I grew up (which happened at about 6 years of age), I began to look for other options.  I went though a couple potential future careers, until finally in the 6th grade I discovered my passion.  I was walking around looking around at the 8th grade science fair, and noticed a mural in the library that I had never noticed before of…SPACE.  I remember staring at that mural with all the planets, and  stars and nebulas and thinking “wow…that’s cool.”  It didn’t take my Dad long to notice my new interest, and I was certainly lucky to have a daddy who happened to be interested in Space too, and knew a lot about it.  I started watching movied like “The Right Stuff” and I started going to space camp. I had Gordon Cooper’s obituary hanging in my locker all through high school in memorium of my most favorite original Mercury 7 Astronaut.  I day dreamed about space shuttles.  My imagination was wild for that “Final Frontier.”

I decided that I would become an astronaut. Because I loved that stuff.  I really truly loved it.

Everyone who knows me now knows very well that I am no longer working to become an astronaut.  I didn’t go to the Air Force Academy like I wanted to through high school.  I’m not studying Aeronautical Science or Engineering.

But, I still love the idea of being an astronaut.  I LOVE going to Air and Space Museums, and if Evan hadn’t started blabbing about planes on our second date, who knows where we would be now! The man instantly became insanely attractive to me then. What can I say.

And now that you have that background story, you’ll understand the following story and why I’ll always have a ball of tinfoil on display in my house (erm…apartment).

Evan and I were visiting his family in Tucson and went to the Pima Air and Space Museum because Evan loves planes, and I love space.  So…places like that are perfect for us.  In the Space part of the exhibit, there was a for real moon rock and much to my embarrassment I couldn’t stop a couple tears from betraying my regrets.  I had these dreams when I was growing up of getting a moon rock myself.  We moved on from there, looked at the rest of the exhibits and went home for dinner.

I think Evan and I were helping his mom make garlic bread when suddenly he got a sheet of tin foil, rolled it up into a ball, and put it in my hands. I was of course very confused and probably said something like…”What the….”.

He just turned to me and said with his Evan-smirk “It’s a moon rock for you.”

So, when people 20 years from now ask me why there is a little ball of tin foil in my china cabinet along with fancy dishes and porcelain statues, I’ll say something like “Because somehow Evan helps me accomplish everything I ever wanted to.”

or I’ll just look at them and say “What? You don’t know what that IS?! It’s my moon rock.”

Sometimes, I get infuriated.

24 Aug

This sort of infuriates me.


Actually it a lot infuriates me.  What about Social Determinants of Health and Poverty? Look it up! It is worth understanding.   Ever heard of double victimization? (“You were born into a situation that made it near impossible to break out of poverty…and it’s YOUR fault).

Poverty does not = lazy.

Sure, it does seem strange and unfair to distribute a GPA which is without a doubt earned.   I agree that if you don’t have good grades, responsibility is on your head.  That is why education is the great equalizer.  Work hard, do well.

It is just not the same with socio-economic status.  Analogy fail “California college student”.

Why is it so terrible to suggest that all the people with money to spare share with those that don’t.  What is that going to hurt for the super rich? That seem to achieve their mega wealth much easier than most in poverty achieve what little they have. It’s ridiculous.  It makes me darn mad.

Please allow me to quote from book that I am a big fan of.  You should read it:

Mosiah 4

 16 And also, ye yourselves will asuccor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the bbeggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

 17 Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.


I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love Politics. I just do. This is not sarcastic or anything.  I really legitimately love Politics.

Don’t tell anyone that I cried so much over a dress.

16 Aug

Goodbye childhood dream.

Painting of my Mom in the dress

Grandma in the dress

I will somehow find a dress almost as good.

Mom in the dress

but MAN….I wanted to wear that dress really bad.

Mom in the dress

Distance makes the heart grow fonder…and the blog posts mushier

15 Jun

I am in love with Evan Moss.

Being away from him has been making feel VERY reminiscent.  I have been thinking a lot about the little things–all the reasons our somewhat random acquaintance  turned into the relationship we have now.

We met for real in Budge Hall, where we played a card game with mutual friends and he walked me around the building to check doors at the end of my shift… because I was on duty.   I love him because me made me laugh on that night.

I love him because when I causually and not so tactfully brought up maybe going to a dollar movie together, he said yes. And offered to drive.

I love him because on that first date, we talked about who knows what and there were no awkward moments.

I love him because in his blue nissan on the way to that dollar theater, he was listening to NPR.  He mentioned he liked the jazz program in the evenings.  I remember my dad saying the same thing. I knew then that if he asked me on a second date…I would say yes.

I love him because he offered to watch the movie The Right Stuff with me on his netflix account during visiting hours after he overheard me saying that it was one of my favorite movies of all time.  I couldn’t believe he would be willing to do that–most people think that movie is kind of boring.  We snuggled.

I love him because the first time he put his arm around me was in an art museum.

I love him because he gave me his copy of Tess of the D’Urbevilles when I flew out for Elisabeth’s baptism.  I love books.  I teared because it meant so much.

I love him because we spent countless hours sitting under trees reading books that summer we met.

I love him because he said “I bet you will love the show Freaks and Geeks.”  And we watched it. And I DID love it.

I love him because he gets absolutely giddy at family functions.

I love him because he honestly wants to help my grandparents plant their garden and can some raspberries.

I love him because he is learning how to braid so he can braid my hair.

I love him because when I have mini breakdowns, he calms me down.  He once bought me food for a week when I moved into my new apartment. And he dried my clothes in his dryer when the dryers at my laundry mat were not working. And he let me take his big suitcase to Africa because I wanted to take too much stuff for my duffle bag.

I love him because he always looks so happy to see me.

I love him because he was worried to the point of breakdown about accepting a job for next semester because he was concerned about not having time to help me study.

I love him because he will share a Little Caesars pizza with me anytime. And he too thinks it is worth the money for an order of crazy bread.

I love him because he gave me a baseball cap for my birthday, which was probably more significant a gift than he realizes.  Maybe I will write a blog post one day about why it meant so much.

I love him because he let me curl up on his couch and sob loud, uncontrollable sobs on his shoulder for a long time because I didn’t want him to go on Singer’s Tour and leave me alone for 2 weeks, even though I was about to leave him alone for 3 months.  He didn’t point that out though, and didn’t think I was ridiculous for making such a scene.

I love him because he prefers more jelly than peanut butter on his PB&J and I like more peanut butter than jelly on mine, which means the jars will even out perfectly throughout our entire lives!

So, as  you can see, especially based on the PB&J point, we are absolutely perfect for each other.

“Save Water, Drink Beer!”

11 Jun

On the way into town, on a drive I do on the Dala Dalas on a nearly daily basis, there is a painted mural of the adage, “Save Water, Drink Beer.”  At first, I just laughed everytime I saw it.  I mean…come on….it’s funny.  Especially since it is right next to the building witht he painting of President Obama…with the Pope.  (They like President Obama over here…A LOT).

But since I have been here, and I have noticed all the drunk men from the banana beer, and the women who have to do all the work because all the men are drunk, and the children who have no role models in their fathers, I realize more and more that there is a serious Public Health concern in the extremely widespread use of beer in the villages around Arusha town.

I was first made aware of the cultural norm of drinking…ALL THE TIME….when I began to notice the Dala Dala guys were already totally hammered when we were going to meetings early in the morning.  And then when a couple friends and I were hiking Mount Meru a while back, and we asked our guide what he thought of so many people around drinking SO MUCH banana beer all the time he replied that he saw no problem because it is a local beer and the price is very low!  We were a little concerned that those were the only issues to be considered…

The thing I love most about Public Health, especially in developing countries is that it is all about preventative education.  It has such hope and belief in the people involved and understands that they want to be healthy and happy and will soak in as much knowledge as they can to help them.  Here in Tanzania, we are teaching multiple classes everywhere from Arusha to Boma N’Gombe about the basics of being healthy and improving your own life and lives of those around you.

In the words of the man sitting by me on the Dala Dala a couple days ago “It is important to teach people about health–if you are not healthy you can not change the things around you.”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, maybe I will sneak out in the night and change the sign to say something like…”Let’s all just forget about the beer and maybe have a round of water!” It may not have the same ring to it, but you know…I think it is still an improvement!

I am still loving Tanzania by the way.  I begin teaching my girl’s health classes on Monday with the Grow. Learn. Give curriculum.  We went to introduce the class to the girls this past friday, and there is something special about them.  I wish you could all see them for yourself–they motivate me to try harder in everything I do.

And you should have seen Kilimanjaro during the sunset.  My oh my.  I hope I never forget what that looked like.