Monday, January 25, 2010

Sophomore and Junior years, working at the 2002 Olympics, and getting in a head on collision

Sophomore year brought a lot of fun, including moving just across from the Voice Box on campus. The human larynx is sometimes called the voice box, so the building where we had opera workshop and opera rehearsals was also christened "The Voice Box."

Secondly, I got an Olympic job hosting Delta VIPs. Unfortunately the company never got back to me when I tried to work for them again, but it was fun while it lasted. I got to see 15 different events, including closing ceremonies. I just had to make sure to leave 15 minutes early so that I could direct the guests. This worked out fine most of the time because I'd see the whole thing and then only miss the medals ceremony, but other times (like speed skating) I'd miss the end of the race.

Here are some quotes from my journal about my Olympic experience

"The only thing I don't like is that we can’t eat with the guests, or even eat what they’re eating! That's crazy. They take us to this beautiful buffet at Lakota in Park City, and even though there's a ton of food left over, we have to eat little sack lunches since we're 'below' the guests." Eventually they realized that was a waste of money and let us go to the buffet as soon as the guests were done. We were required to get out of line, though, as soon as a guest came back. The truth is that the guests were delighted to eat with us. One guest even said to me “now make sure to eat a lot because you need the energy. I know you’re not sleeping."

I worked about 70 hours a week in that job, but we got overtime pay and got to go to all those events, so it was worth it. "My favorite was the Men's Skating Final with Alexei Yagudin. I even exclaimed 'Whoa!' in public when he took his shirt off. I swear my enjoying the men’s skating final had nothing to do with watching hot, well-built men in spandex (snicker, snicker, grin, grin, smirk)."

Closing ceremonies was awesome. I also got to see Pairs short and free figure skating (we booed when the Americans who'd clearly had the better routine received the silver. This was the controversial year with the bribed Russian judge and they ultimately awarded two couples the gold medal), Men’s and ice dancing free programs, ladies short and figure skating exhibition, as well as the luge (boring as a spectator. You see them for about 2 seconds), ski jumping, Canada vs Sweden Men’s hockey, Giant Slalom, slalom, long track speed skating, cross country skiing of Nordic combined, and Women’s Gold medal hockey

It was my birthday soon after the Olympics, and Amy decorated the house and put signs on the telephone poles saying it was my birthday. That was so much fun.

Later in the year, Kara Jo and I gave a recital. We cracked up in the middle of the Stepsister's Lament when we forgot our lines in a way that was impossible to fix and had to start over. In addition to that, my accompanist had her pages mixed up while I was singing "Bester Jungling" and I had to stop her and get it straightened out.

I also started working in catering at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. That was fun and we got lots of free food.

That Spring I went to San Francisco again on a road trip with my brother. He took these crazy strong caffeine pills to stay up and wanted to drive the whole time. During the brief few hours that I drove he kept saying "tell me when you want me to drive Stace." Unfortunately, I got really sick by the time we arrived at my sisters, so not much happened on the trip. But I do remember that Mike and I had a really good spiritual discussion in the car. We bonded while we cried.

I then went to SF again later the next year, and got to go to Great America again. This time there were no lines whatsoever, so I actually felt sick after a while going from ride to ride without a rest. I felt old for the first time in my life. I also took a ferry to visit relatives in Napa, saw the 4th of July fireworks at the Bay, and volunteered in my sister’s 60 mile walk for Breast Cancer. And most important of all, my sister and I managed not to get in a fight about religion or politics. Hoorah!

At the end of my sophomore year, I got to be in the opera "Orpheus and the Underworld." Nearly every opera composer ever has written an opera to the story of Orpheus and Euridice, and Offenbach actually wrote a parody of it. It was hilarious! I was in the chorus as one of the goddesses, and we were really involved. There was a lot of singing and dancing numbers for us, and I remember it being tons of fun.
As a junior, I was actually a whore in "The Merry Wives of Windsor." Just before my mission, I played a whore! But don't worry. Whores in those days weren't like those of today. My playing one consisted of me wearing colorful, but modest, clothing, wearing ridiculous amounts of stage make-up, and sitting on a guys lap. So not too riske'.

In 2003, 2 months before I served an LDS mission, my sister and I were in a horrible head on collision. This was not our car, but the image is similar enough to what happened to us. Ours was a 2003 Ford Focus, and the damage was quite a bit worse than what you see here.
While I was with Lia in San Francisco for the final time, she decided to rent a car for the week of my visit. She'd already purchased the rental before realizing they were adding an extra $60 for insurance. She complained about it throughout the trip, sometimes even making wide turns during the week and saying "hey, I paid $60. I'm taking advantage of it." After this experience below, though, she claimed it was the "best $60 I ever spent!" Here's a direct quote from my journal.

Yesterday my sister and I were in a head on collision. We were on the Oakland freeway on the way to the airport when we were horribly cut-off (and, as we later found out, hit) by another car. I’m sure the guy hadn’t checked his blind spot because it was such a blatant move I’m not sure that he even realized we were there. My sister did her best to keep control of the car, but it was raining and we were driving fast. We were spun sideways and plowed head-on into guardrail. We actually took out a huge piece of guardrail about twice the length of the car. It shattered all over the freeway (fortunately no one else was hurt) and the car was completely totaled. But the good news is that neither of us was seriously hurt. The seat belts saved our lives. You could trace where the seat belt was on our bodies by the bruises across my abdomen, chest, neck, and shoulder. I hit my head but have no memory of doing it. I also don’t remember the airbags inflating. All I remember is the impact, a lot of dust, and the air bags deflating. Then my sister screamed at me quickly to get out of the car. She was hysterical and couldn’t stop talking about how she needed to get me to the airport. A man who had seen the crash had stopped to make sure we were okay and happened to be on the way to the airport himself. He offered to give me a ride and I went with him. I held my sister and tried to calm her down. She kept apologizing (she still does even to this day) even though I know she didn’t do anything wrong. I had an intense headache for the plane trip and noticed my head was swelling. I went to the doctor when I got back and my cat scan and x-rays were normal. They just told me I’d be in a lot of pain for the next few weeks. They said the day after would be the worst, but it would get better after that. They were right. I’m incredibly stiff and in a lot of pain when I make any major movements. Fortunately my professors are being very understanding and letting me take a few days off to heal while also giving me an extension on my midterm.

But ultimately, I can’t complain. This is the bare minimum I could have come out of a car crash with, especially a head on collision going at a high speed in a small car. The doctor’s were amazed that nothing more serious happened to us. I’m so grateful God was watching over me. Apparently He has intentions for me that I have not yet completed in this lifetime.

My sister later told me that after experiencing something so traumatizing, she clung onto the notion that she had to get me to the airport for hours afterward, even after I'd left. Everyone she talked to (husband, people who'd stopped to help us, police officers, servers at the restaurant) was greeted with "excuse me, but I need to get my sister to the airport."

The cat scan revealed that I didn't brain my damage :-), but I do remember having a delusional thought I'm sure wouldn't have been there if I'd been in my right mind. As I saw the airbags deflate I thought to myself "That was exhausting. Look, it's a pillow! I think I'll lie my head down." And when my sister screamed at me to get out of the car (which could have very well blown up at any moment), I remember actually being a bit miffed at her for not letting me rest after such a frightening ordeal. So obviously my brain was affected, just not permanently damaged. I wonder if it's common to have weird thoughts like that after a life or death situation.


  1. The Olympics were so much fun. That is of course where I met you. Thank goodness for Facebook or we wouldn't still be in contact. Isn't it nice to have had such an amazing experience during the Olympics?

  2. It was fun! I tried working for them again when the Olympics came to Torino (which you'd think they'd want me since I speak Italian and lived in Torino for 6 months!) and Vancouver (which is two hours away from me), but they never returned my phone calls or emails.