Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Thoughts on Brittany

My friend Brittany is leaving Provo tomorrow, to go home to California, to wait for 3 months, to then go to Brazil, to serve an 18 month long proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realized this past week all of the voids Brittany fills in my life, and how bummed I will be without seeing her at work everyday. I feel like sending this small advert to the Brazilian Missionary Training Center so they know what they're getting.
  • If you need someone to shorten a word and make it acceptable to say, Brittany can do it.
  • If you need someone to go to/start a dance party with, Brittany will be there.
  • Similarly, if you need someone to dance until they literally can't remember what happened while they were dancing, Brittany's your woman.
  • If you want to hear a hilarious story and bust your gut, Brittany is on it.
  • If you want a job well done on anything detail oriented, Brittany will not let you down.
  • If you need a friend, Brittany is willing and able.
  • If you need someone who cares and will drop everything to help you, someone who will listen and empathize with you, if you need someone who is a genuinely honest and good person, then look no further than Brittany.
I know missionaries get called for specific reasons, to specific places, and I know Brittany is going to touch people's lives (how can she not? She does that without being a missionary here in Provo!) but I still can't help feeling like Brazil doesn't even realize the gift they're getting for the next year and a half. I can't lie, I'm a little bit jealous.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My whip is a ghost of a former ride.

I’ve drafted a post about my car about 3 separate times now. The problem is that I’ve waited too long to post. I was first hit with the idea to write about Simba (my champagne colored 1998 Toyota Corolla) in the summer when driving up a hill was always in perfect time with a prayer. Actually, the same can be said of my car in any season I drive it in, but it was different in the summer. The windows were rolled down in the summer. My fake Target Ray Bans were sliding down the bridge of my nose in the dry Utah heat. I rested my crooked elbow on the scorching metal of the door frame because even though I was in pain, I looked good. I had one wrist propped casually on the top of my steering wheel, and I was leaning back in my worn, cloth, beige seats. It varied between cool west coast hip-hop pumping through my pitiful speakers or the latest indie band that I had heard about third hand, that probably wasn’t that indie any more. That was always a gamble too, which stereo session in the ‘Rolla would be those speakers last, because they really shouldn’t be handling the volume that the radio was cranked to.

As cars whizzed past me or pulled alongside me at stoplights, freshly washed and waxed, I tried to hold back and only give only half-interested glances at them. Who needs you and your new car, I would yell in my mind, I’m ridin’ slow, homie! One day in particular, it hit me that it was one of the few days I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere. I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t praying over my engine, to beg for it to last, because I wasn’t pushing it to get me somewhere in an inhuman speed, let alone a 1998-Toyota-Corolla-with-over-100,000-miles speed. I was enjoying driving slowly, enjoying the sweat on the back of my legs (see this post for more explanation about that) and the cool jams streaming through my car. It wasn’t a lie to convince myself that I appreciated this car and all its quirks; I really do love driving this car with all its quirks. You can’t really knock something that a) was an amazing gift from people that love you, b) hasn’t let you down so far and c) you associate with everyday. Well, maybe you can, but I certainly don’t. Simba, let the good times roll.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In which I post simply to use the phrase "in which"

I just finished this book called Young Romantics which wasn't particularly good. I told my British Literature professor I was reading it (after we just finished discussing the Romantic period in class) to which he responded "The Publishers Weekly review was lukewarm, but it would be hard not to be a good read with the crazy lives of the people featured in it". That's about how the book went. Sub par writing, but those 19th century poets knew how to get down, and therefore I stuck with it to the end.

I give a much heartier recommendation to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for ALL readers of this post. Truly fantastic book. Great writing, engaging narrative, very informative of a kind of different perspective about the Japanese internment during WWII (but it is fiction so have no fear, non-fiction avoiders).

Anyway, back to these dead white guys. For as much as everyone rags on the literary canon being filled with dead white guys, I really love these dead white guys. John Keats, in particular (although, he's wasn't a rich dead white guy so I think everyone in general hates him less. And probably because he died so prematurely, that usually gets you off the hook easier than your older dead white guy friends). Unfortunately Young Romantics really didn't talk about Keats that much. But I digress.

Finishing this book made me think about how different the death of our generations stars will be. At first I thought "There won't be any biographies needed because everyone's stories and personal thoughts are on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs". Then I thought "Nah, I'm sure there are still some hidden gems of celebrities lives that will be exposed upon their death, and people will clamor to read their posthumous biographies". Then I realized, "No, the paparazzi and MTV specials have truly exposed all of that already. When famous actors or musicians die now, people will just go to their Facebook profile to memorialize them". I finally settled on the thought that "Actually, there are some crazy celebrities in the media today. I'm sure there will be a heap of unrevealed information about the majority of celebrities after they die. Plus, Snooki has a book sooooo...biographies will never cease to flourish, even in the midst of all this instant access media".

One time it crossed my mind to write a memoir. I think it was after I read A Girl Named Zippy because that was a great book and to my knowledge, that author wasn't famous before that got published. Of course, I don't have the same kind of good 'ol days, small town America stories that she does (and I'm sure that's what ultimately detracted me) but still...it's an interesting thought to say the least.

...I had a point to this. I think it was something along the lines of: I just finished a huge research project about Facebook last week. It was about how Facebook interactions effect relationships offline. I wouldn't imagine there's much of a counter argument to that, but I just wanted to talk to people about Facebook (I have a sickness, this I know) so I went with a definitive project, not really an exploratory one. My end result: the one thing that all of my interviewees had in common was that they strongly disliked when people posted information deemed "too personal" on Facebook (as do I).

A few other people in my class did research projects about dating culture at BYU. One sentence from both presentations was that "blind dating really isn't blind any more". While sometimes I'm grateful for that (although my only blind date was in high school...) it also makes me a little melancholy. I love Facebook, I love blogging, I love Twitter, and checking my e-mail on my phone. But I can honestly say, more than doing all of those things, I love talking to people and getting to know someone and (I can't believe I'm admitting this...) feeling empathy with someone in a conversation to the point that I cry when they cry, or in a less dramatic way, laugh when they laugh. I'll probably never delete my Facebook account, my Twitter account, or this blog, but I truly hope that when I die and am famous and am having my biography written (after I've published my own memoirs of course) that these are just interesting tidbits and that like the 'young romantics' of the early 19th century, someone has to find out about my personal relationships to know who I truly was.

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Inspiration

For whatever reason, I have fallen off the writing bandwagon. I really enjoy writing, particularly on this blog where I can pretend that more people read it than actually do. And yet, I seem to be lacking the motivation to write. I’ve read a number of writing blogs and looked into some self-help writing books but my procrastination wins out as I opt to watch Friends re-runs while only doing my homework at half capacity. When I took my creative writing class last winter, the biggest suggestion from the professor was to just have a time everyday where you must write to fulfill a certain, pre-determined length requirement. To help us with that, he also assigned us go to extra curricular performances on campus to get inspiration from all different art forms. I’ve tried to keep up with the writing regularly regiment to some extent, by trying to post weekly on this blog. However, the inspiration gleaning from art on campus has declined. As I was contemplating this, I realized I didn’t have to just get inspiration from a performance or an art exhibit. Not that those aren’t great resources that I do really enjoy, but I feel inspired by a wider variety of mediums.

Tonight, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time finding and listening to free beats that a Seattle hip hop DJ likes to share for free on his blog. Iranian DJ, Sabzi is part of the dynamic duo, the Blue Scholars based out of Seattle. This is the first hip hop group I wasn’t ashamed to tell people I liked listening to. The Filipino MC, Geo, infuses his lyrics with calls to action by the sedentary public to move for equality for all people and to be aware and loving of our fellow brothers and sisters. Of course there is some language, but this is about the cleanest, quality rap I’ve found. For as much as I enjoy Geo’s brilliant lyrics, Sabzi’s beats are so freshly original, with enough thumping bass and jazz samples to please all levels of hip hops listeners. Currently I’m listening to an album of beats that Sabzi produced and put out for free on his blog (here) for aspiring MCs. That is some Seattle style loving right there.

I read a lot of other amateur writers blogs to get inspiration. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Wil Wheaton’s blog (yes, from Star Trek, but now all grown up). His writing is so simple and honest, it’s refreshing to read. He also constantly talks about how in love with his wife and children he is, and it’s always fun to read some warmhearted sentiments from celebrities. I also read a lot of this guy (although, he doesn't update frequently) because a) the title of his blog is PERFECT and b) because another writer friend recommended him to me. He is truly hilarious and sometimes, when I write long boring posts about getting inspiration to write, his posts remind me how to be funny. As always, my favorite blogger by far is Anna, if for no other reason than introducing me to Billy Collins. But really, there are more reasons than that, too many to name really. Just read, and enjoy.

I’m not sure if this is true of all Seattle, or just the people I knew in high school, but there are a lot of excellent photographers that inspire me to try to create something meaningful. Although it’s a tight niche, I love looking at Jeremy Leffel's wedding photos. It is beautiful how he can take something that is so traditionally predictable and put these pictures into a modern, new perspective. I suppose it shouldn't shock me so much, it's what good photography is, but whatever. Once upon a time, I ran around with Jaki Portolese in grade school, and she inspired me to get into photography a little myself. I eventually stopped insulting photography by trying to be a photographer, but I thoroughly enjoy looking at Jaki’s work and it’s two-fold beauty (the photograph and the great wardrobes her models are always in).

So, here’s to writing. I’m trying, I’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep trying to find inspriation. In the meantime, bear with me. Since I’m trying really hard to keep my deadline of 4 posts a month, this week will include beaucoup updates, but I know my die hard fans are really jones-ing for my words constantly in their life. Amirite, amirite!?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Token writer's block post

I am aching for an idea. An ephemeral, intangible, and therefore invaluable good. I wish I could say that something, anything has popped into my brain and I have been able to run with it, but this is the only canvas I paint the whole truth on. Betraying this medium with that kind of falsehood would be unpardonable. The problem started out small; I couldn’t think of a good blog post idea. When my scope of writing widened (with thoughts like "why shouldn’t I start a novel?") so did my chasm devoid of thought and inspiration. Three fresh drafts about thinking about nothing are sitting on my hard drive now. Because I thought it was a problem of distractions, I downloaded a free program called FocusWriter that shows no other inch of my screen and doesn’t allow pop ups from other running programs. Turns out, it has been more of a distraction to my homework and other reading endeavors than preventing distractions so I can conceive a noteworthy subject to write about. What can I say, I love new toys more than anything.

For a long time, I thought I didn’t have an idea because couldn’t think of a interesting enough topic, all I could keep thinking about was stories from my own life (few and far between as they are). I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I give you all a personal recommendation to read it) and thought “see, that is a good idea, race issues in the south in the 60s”. Then I read the end notes from the author and realized that was her life in the south, in the 60s. So it is okay to write a whole work of fiction based on your life...I hope this is a sample of the helpful hints I’ll learn next semester in my class titled “Writing Fiction”. So I turned my attention into crafting my life into something worth reading, more importantly, something worth writing. My mind is blank. My page remains blank. My social calendar remains blank. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pull a good story out of a complete lack of activity.

I read a book titled I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (from Orem, how exciting) yesterday. I didn’t love his style, even after I acknowledged it was a piece of teen fiction. I didn’t love his idea (supernatural serial killer...). I didn’t even love his protagonist but his character moved and breathed and grew and now I’ve placed a hold request for the next book in the series. After I finished it, I thought “obviously Dan Wells didn’t live in small town struck with a string of serial killings that were solved by a 15 year old. Yet he’s stretched it into something, why can’t I do the same?” Answer: I have no idea. Maybe this means when my million dollar idea (or at least a thousand word idea) hits it will be something truly spectacular. Hopefully it means I can get back on the bandwagon of producing something readable once a week for this blog, or I might start getting into real trouble... sans a serial killer, of course.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My mom was a librarian.

I'm writing a paper for my British literature class about John Keats. I can't read his writing, or even about his life without feeling moved to make my own pathetic attempt. Is there a less cliché way to capture the notion that he stirs my soul?

This is the first time this semester I've gone among the books in the library. I forget with every absence from this sacred place, how much I adore libraries. It's more than just books. There is something that also, to further the cliché , moves me when I'm surrounded by dusty tomes resting on shelves from floor to ceiling. I can hear the shoes slapping, pages scraping, pens scratching, chairs creaking and tenants whispering, but it is still silent, overwhelmingly silent. Reverently silent. My own body responds the hallowed ground. I breathe more slowly, more deeply, more quietly. Every step I take is measured and cautious, so as to not disturb what hundreds of thousands of authors have created for my special use and appreciation.

Have you ever thought about that? Every book in a library was written for you. I think if books had the run of the place they would jump off shelves and into laps, admonishing non-readers for their incredibly foolish oversight for not reading "The Masks of Keats" (or whatever it may be) sooner. Books are powerful, make no mistake. I can walk straight through a library without being much affected but the moment I pause and take a closer look, I'm in trouble. Touching a faded spine or sometimes just being sandwiched between two rows chalk full of books gets me. The very essence of the pages presses itself onto me. I feel it on the back of my neck, the inside of my elbows, and in that narrow space on the top of your foot, where your shoe doesn't quite touch. The only option left is to pick up a book and set up camp in the middle of the aisle, because doing anything less at this point, is a travesty.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crohnie McCrohnsalot

EDIT: I will one day revisit this topic...in a more eloquent manner.

Oh hey, I have Crohn's disease (warning: there are some pictures, a few of which are not for the squeamish). That might sound casual but that's kind of how I live with it. Every eight weeks or so my symptoms flare and I think "oh yeah..." This isn't to say Crohn's isn't a big deal, I mean look at those pictures...it can be a huge deal (e.g. stomach/colon/intestine removal, extreme diet change, bag for a stomach, etc). But I've been lucky, what can I say. I had great doctors that found it, found what drugs worked for me, health insurance to cover it, and I've been good for 4 and 1/2 years, ish.

I used to get infusions of Remicade (my personal miracle drug) every 12 weeks and the last month before my treatment I would start feeling terrible. When I couldn't stay awake during class, or even get to my morning classes on time, or would be late for work, (fatigue from Crohn's is a big kick in the teeth for me), or would regret eating because I knew eventually I'd have to go to the bathroom, I'd get frustrated that I'd acted so nonchalant the eight weeks prior. Then I realized the disease was nonchalant for the eight weeks prior, there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I wasn't about to wish for a more extreme case of Crohn's (I'm not that masochistic) so there was maybe the most troubling part of my illness: that I couldn't claim it all the time, because most of the time, there was nothing to claim.

But then, I actually got to talk to a doctor who made my treatments more frequent and now my bleed-through might be a few days, (which still suck, but it's better than a month) but nothing too extreme. Today I got my infusion at a new place, and it was good. The nurse was really nice, I was in a room by myself, the IV didn't start itching or hurting, and I just studied French for 2 hours.

So now you're saying "Laurie, get to the point." I guess I can't stop thinking about how lucky I am. Sometimes I almost feel guilty, people hear I have Crohn's and start gushing about my life, trying to alter potlucks around my "eating habits", and I have to clear my throat and say "actually, aside from the ridiculous financial aspect of this garbage, I'm 98% fine. Sometimes if I eat too much candy/ice cream/soda, it bothers my stomach, whereas before it didn't. ...Sorry." (seriously, I never got sick from excessive junk food before Crohn's...it was a mind blowing gift). I'm sure there will be complications later in my life (there just has to be...I'm just going to bank on it) and I should count all financial garbage (I keep saying garbage so I don't swear about it...garbage) as sickness enough.

But when I Google Crohn's out of morbid curiosity, and I see people with massive scars and attached to bags and listing their restricted diets, I just close my internet browser and sit outside for awhile.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have this thing about heat. I don't know how to analyze it, so this post truly has no point, but here it is. Sorry for being gross. Also, this isn't an every day thing. Sometimes I come home and take a cold shower I'm so hot and open every window in the apartment because I can't stand the heat. But the experiences related below happen...I would say often. Often enough to write a blog post about it anyway.

In the summer, I freeze inside air conditioned buildings. For the first twenty seconds after I walk into the heat of the summer air, I feel fantastic. I walk for another twenty seconds, and I start sweating. But for some reason, I enjoy it. I start to feel like I'm doing something with my life, when all I'm really doing is walking to my car, to drive to Dairy Queen, to get some ice cream. Not that I did that everyday, but in general the point is that I wasn't doing any productive. The drive to wherever my destination was would also perpetuate this love of heat, sweat, and disgusting. I wouldn't roll down my window or turn on the A/C or even the fan. I'd just sit and stagnate in a sweltering five minute drive back to my apartment. I would start to feel beads of sweat form at the back of my knee and slowly collect then break and drip down my calf. I wouldn't move, I would just relish the feeling. I would feel the sweat collect on the bridge of my nose and my sunglasses would slowly slide down my face, but I never moved, I never touched anything. I just sat in my car, waiting for the red light to turn green. If I was smart, I'd try to claim this as making me appreciate the outside once I got out of my car. I did, to be sure, but I don't think that was ever the end goal.

Why am I thinking about this now? Because my apartment is on the 3rd floor of my building. I usually keep my door closed so I'm not eavesdropping on the Korean festivities that are never ending in my kitchen (LOVE roommates). The building is right next to a fairly busy road, that gets pretty loud so I try to keep my window closed. To top it all off, I'm usually on my laptop, which is literally on my lap. Have I changed out of my jeans or opened the window or turned off my laptop? Negative. I can feel my face flushing and I can feel perspiration forming on my upper lip and hair line and I'm just sitting here, with my eyes closed, for some inexplicable reason, savoring it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Against my better judgement

In every way possible, this post is against everything my brain is telling me to do (i.e. don't post this, run away). The hazards of late night blogging I suppose...Comments are disabled because I don't want to hear concern, and for the record I will state: I am in a very healthy, right state of mind, I promise. Literally, I will write affidavits signed in blood that I am happy and healthy, especially because I'm writing!

In futility I have looked for online writing communities (that would probably be more beneficial for feedback since my readers won't be family and friends) but haven't found anything promising. And, since I think this is the first really great thing I've written in awhile, it's going up. *deep breath* Don't think about the subject material, just appreciate how well everything sounds (if I do say so myself...)

Mind, let me write, let me think, let me feel, let me breathe. Oxygen fills every inch of my lungs and I wait, feeling the expanded tension so when I exhale...the sweet relaxation of exhaling...I know to the exact degree how wonderful it feels. With concentrated effort I let go of my shoulders. I'm not sure my shoulders relax even when I sleep. For some reason the limpness that ripples through my body brings tears to my eyes. I am weary, in body and mind and spirit. I am in isolation of my own creation. The acknowledgement is harder when the steps to evacuate are clear and precise and yet feel so impossible. The silence of the room fills my ears like cotton swabs, and aides my tranquil emancipation. My legs are dead weight, not unable to move but unwilling to move. Dry and raw, my throat is begging my hand to drop this pen and force my legs to move to get a drink of water. Unfortunately, my throat is used least nowadays therefore holds the least amount of sway. A glance at my watch reminds me of the hour and that prolonging returning to an empty apartment is futile. I will slowly pack up my things and slowly walk to my car and slowly drive home. I will lie on my back in my room and stare at the ceiling until I drift away into unconsciousness. Every night is the same.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Unequivocal Belief

I was sitting in my room when I thought of the handful teachers I've befriended and kept in touch with over the years. It hit me that I've actually lost touch with all of the teachers I had been e-mailing. I thought of my first teacher-friend, from 3rd grade, Ms. Fox (I'll refer to her as this, because she's married now so this isn't betraying any identities). Always anxious to procrastinate my homework, I jumped on my laptop and searched for her on Facebook. Finding nothing, I did a Google search. A web crawler came up that searches all websites for any information about a person and puts it all together for you. Of course to see the full report and personal information, I'd have to pay, but just to list the people it found with that name, their age and area of location, including known associates, was free. I browsed, realizing Ms. Fox would be in her mid-30's now, and trying to remember her husband's name. I actually kept at it for quite awhile. I incredulously realized that I was putting a creepy amount of effort into this. The only thing I could do if I found her was e-mail her and come off as a stalker. What was I wasting my time for? Suddenly, there she was. 36, Ms. Fox, in the Seattle area, listing her husband's name and her married name. It had to be her.

I quickly searched the Seattle school district website for all elementary schools in the area. I searched her name on every elementary school and within the district website. Finally, when I had grown tired of my game, I tried one last search and came up with a picture directory of faculty. I scrolled, holding my breath and there...there she was, looking exactly the same. Her name and e-mail address. I didn't react for a few seconds, I just stared. Finally, I started to compose an e-mail to her, hoping that the website wasn't listing outdated information. I didn't know how to start. How do I tell someone after a 7-8 year silence that I wanted to get back in touch? How could I draft this without coming off as a creep? I did my best, related some experiences that might jog her memory and let her know that I wanted to stay in touch...but how could I explain why? If she didn't want to respond, what is the one thing I should let her know?

I decided to end my email with gratitude. I remembered her warmth, her friendship, her involvement in my life that meant so much to me, and the multiplication table songs she taught that I still sing to myself for the 7's and above (don't judge, those are tricky). I don't even remember why she meant so much to me, to be honest, but I just remember that she did, and obviously still does. That was all I could tell her, and hope that it didn't scare her into reporting my e-mail as spam. And even now, a few hours later, I'm still thinking about it, still feeling good about just finding her and letting her know.

Today my thoughts were on teachers, but recently I've just been thinking a lot about all the people, teacher or otherwise, that have left a deep influence on me. I've been thinking about how rare it is for an expression of true emotion, particularly face to face, to occur. Personally, I know that I weep voraciously when I try to tell someone how much they've touched my heart, so I try to keep it to writing, but I think even if I didn't, it would still be borderline taboo to be so heartfelt in person. I probably am reserved out of my own misreading of social cues, but it is what it is. The other half of this is that most people (myself included) are really bad at receiving compliments in person. You feel uncomfortable and awkward to be talked about, and even worse if there are other parties present. And yet here it is, my unequivocal belief: everyone should know how much they are loved and the power they wield to touch another life. I hate that all of my posts end on a soapbox, but honestly, give it a try.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Who the hay knows" 2.0

An elaboration on my thought 2 weeks ago...I promise I'll come up with something new to blog about eventually.

I think my earliest desired occupation was "detective". I was big on the mystery novel at a young age. Next, was definitely "writer". Then I think for the most part since then, it was always to be a teacher, in some capacity or another. There was a really awkward period in fifth grade where I wanted to be a nuclear physicist (I honestly have no idea...). Throughout all of my career goals, writer was always kind of there, in the back of my mind, like the "in your downtime just write a best seller and hopefully you won't really have to work again" option. The older I got, the more I let the impracticably of it settle in and wash away the desire.

There were stints of authoring fervor, like the middle school screenplay, and the early high school poetry, and now this creative non-fiction blog that I love to death. I have an alter-ego floating around on the internet that I'm trying to use to motivate me to write fiction for once. I suppose what I'm saying is that all of my better judgement is telling me to be an adult and get a real career when I graduate (which I will, keep breathing Mom) but the rest of me is writing, feverishly, to try and do something I love. Despite the astronomical odds, someone has to write novels and someone has to get published, and no where in stone does it say that it can't be me.

As my italicized introduction says, I know I've been beating this topic to death recently, and for the redundancy of it all, I apologize. It's just such a different, positive experience to try my hand at something I think I am good at. To go to a British Literature class and have the professor compare Lord Byron to Tupac, to have a break in the day or go home at night and want to continue doing what I was doing in class, to be doing well in a class without having to consult all other classmates about how to complete something...yes, this is indeed where I was supposed to end up.

So here I am, full circle. Sort of, I'm not taking any forensic science classes, but you know, the writing bit. It just makes me laugh at myself. "Haha Laurie, you thought you could pretend to do something else. What a dummy you are!" I think teaching is not out of my future, I think that's a part of me as well that will be recognized eventually. Despite other identity crises ("am I really this much of a loner?!" post forthcoming) writing, savoring words on a page for the sheer joy of how they sound or look or describe something perfectly; that, is thoroughly me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The BYU alumni readership I have will know of BYUs sketch comedy group, Divine Comedy (I think the video "Halo" is by far the funniest). Thursday night I was perusing YouTube videos instead of doing homework, mainly watching old Divine Comedy sketches. This led me to their website which led me to see their latest post. "Divine Comedy Auditions!" Thursday/Friday, 8-10pm. 2 minutes of original comedic material. I thought for about 30 seconds then decided, "What the heck? At the very worst, I look like a completely fool and failure in front of a few dozen people that are hilarious that I actually admire." ...Luckily, I'm resilient and that thought didn't phase me too bad. Actually, it didn't phase me because the one unequivocal belief I have in myself is that I am an inherently funny person. You're welcome.

I don't know what I was thinking but I didn't think that 8pm on a Friday night, there would be a packed auditorium in the Tanner building on BYU campus. But, alas, it was and I started getting ridiculously nervous. But, no one I knew was there, I couldn't be a loser and cop out now. I was the 25th person to go. It didn't help that the first two people to audition were absolutely hilarious. Within the first 24 people, it was clear that I would not make the cut, but again, couldn't leave at this point.

My sketch was pretty funny, I had the "PDA Blues" and sang about all the ridiculous PDA you see on campus. But, I accompanied myself on my RockBand guitar, for utmost comedic effect. I got laughs after all my punchlines, and my intro, so I guess it was successful. It didn't go as well as I hoped it would because I was so nervous, I think my deliveries came out a little rushed. After all the auditions (which ended around 10:20pm) they announced call backs would be the next morning and you'd get a call that night if you were going to be invited back.

I knew I wouldn't get in the troupe, but I don't think anyone could've helped it. I couldn't let go of a smidgen of hope that maybe I'd at least get to go to callbacks. There were a lot of hilarious people, but there were a lot of train wrecks (everyone got at least a few laughs though, so nothing heartbreaking to the infinite amount of freshmen that tried out). I like to believe I was closer to "hilarious" on the spectrum, and farther away from "train wreck". I also didn't know how long it would take for them to review all the "maybes". I forced my eyes to stay open for two hours, watching mindless TV with one and keeping the other on my phone. At 12:30am, I had to admit it, I wasn't going to call backs.

This morning, while I was lethargically eating Marshmallow Mateys, I was thinking about my slight melancholy, and how I had convinced myself the day before, there was no way I was going to get in, so what was the problem? The indefatigable nature of hope. The reason why most of the time we love it, and the reason this particular weekend, I'm a little bummed. I tried to think of a more profound follow up to that revelation but I think that might be all I got. I'm glad I hope for things, small or big. I'm glad I I don't listen to my pessimistic side all of the time, and that I couldn't just shake off not getting into call backs. I'm glad I have enough positivity in my life that I have hope.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who the hay knows?

I desperately want to write. Right now, all the time, always. If I allowed myself to have one silly fantasy about what I could do with the rest of my life, it would be to write and make that a living. In the most glamorous version of this fantasy, I would be a novelist, and live my life in the style of Richard Castle (see ABC's Castle, great show). If it was a slightly more realistic version of this fantasy, I would live my life in the style of a columnist for a big time newspaper, usually in New York but when I start to get really realistic, I realize I would love to end up in Seattle. And then reality truly settles and I realize to become a famous novelist is a very large task and newspapers are dying by the second. So, I drum down everything to be a very popular blogger and at the very least, get to lounge around my swanky loft apartment with my medium-sized dog at my leisure.

When I'm seized with these dreams, I immediately log on to Blogger and try to think of the most ingenious way to make a daily occurrence poignant or hilarious, and if it's a really good day, both. But as you might notice from the infrequency of my posts, most of these fits of "inspiration" result in distraction or really sub-par ideas that sounded good at one time in my subconscious (this is turning out to be one of those, but I think I'll keep it).

Anyway, why am I explaining this process? I'm not sure, but I just read someone's blog about how he tried to be an actor even though it stunk and it made me think about how far I'm willing to try to be an author, or at the very least, a blogger. Time will tell, I have an eon left before I graduate and am forced to make responsible life decisions. But hey, I just changed my major and moved into a completely random apartment a few weeks before the beginning of an important semester, so who's to say I won't be completely silly and try my hand at successful, published, authorship? I had a letter to the editor that once made it into the school newspaper, so that's a start, right?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Eve 6...

A personal problem of mine has been growing ever present in my mind. I believe it is a product of my “plugged in” generation. To describe it, the 1990’s band Eve 6 lyric pops into mind and I will diagnose that I think words in clips and phrases. I’ll have to abandon that train of thought for a moment though, despite my fabulous pop culture tie-in, because thinking about Eve 6, the 90’s, and lyrics gets my mind off on a whole other tangent.

Some try to say this is the “perfect Tweet” syndrome, but I know that just as much thought and silent musings are given to concise but hilarious Facebook status updates to condemn this symptom to Twitter users alone. I try to “play it cool” on Facebook and Twitter, not update too often in case I look like I’m trying too hard. Inevitably, this leads to back log and in a week’s time I’m stuck debating whether to use the old update I thought of or the great one-liner I came up with yesterday. Then the never ending debate of what to write in Twitter and what to write in Facebook. I try not to duplicate my material, and while Facebook has a bigger audience, I feel like my dry sarcasm is more appreciated to a Twitter-like audience. All of this stifles my stand-up comedy acts because I can’t develop a joke, it’s got to be contained in a sentence or two!

I reminded myself last week how much I utterly adore reading and how sick I was from missing it. I’ve read four books in the past two days like I’m trying to catch up on my sleep which scientists have already proven to be impossible. That’s how I feel with reading. The time lost can never be made up and more good books are always being published. My standby when I looked longingly at the library was that I had no time for pleasure reading. But, wise words echoed in my mind that “you make time for what’s important”. Is leisure reading a priority? At one point I obviously thought not. I’m trying to pretend that I’ve always been meaning to make this change of heart, and that I’m not changing simply because I’m now, officially, and English major, but I think I must acknowledge that the title has bent me back to a more literary root.

With a resounding YES from the rooftops, I declare that reading for pleasure, for the escape, for the life of it, is in fact a priority! Or can be, anyway. A guilt-free priority that is required to live life to the fullest, if only through the characters in books. Fiction gets knocked a little in that category. “Don’t get too carried away or else you won’t live your own life” is a criticism I’ve heard from non-fiction purist readers. Not personally of course…but I can imagine. Wordsmiths craft their elegant prose and through that I feel emotion I never could have articulated so well. I see colors in metaphors that my mind could never have created. And it makes me see things differently, through those different metaphors.

This brings me to the conclusion that I’ve been musing about today. Are my thoughts in clips and phrases really a problem? I don’t feel more scatterbrained that usual. I don’t feel less connected to my associates than I usually do. Coupled with my latest book devouring, I feel my short bursts of similes about driving down the road are springboards for great writing to come. Or, at times like these, I just feel overwhelmed and write the feeling instead of the words. I haven’t yet forced myself to stop mid-conversation or action to scribble down thoughts yet, but I can imagine that I’m destined to do so in the near future. Life is too beautiful to be seen without flourishing adjectives.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'm posting today out of sheer obligation. Not so much the obligation to you, but the obligation that I made to myself, to use this blog as a dumping ground for thoughts and to improve my narrative prose. And maybe a little bit in obligation to you, the reader. But don't let it go to your head...

Change is upon me. Us. Everyone, constantly. In college life, change always hits at the end of one semester and the beginning of another. Historically, there is a more concentrated dose around August and September, when the typical student moves into a new apartment with new people. I've moved every August but I've had a constant roommate as a friendly face, so no matter who else was in the apartment, it didn't matter much. And lo, I embark on this grand new adventure: moving into an apartment with no knowledge of who my future roommates are. This has turned out 66% poorly for me this year, but I'm resolved that I will rise above whatever affliction a crazy roommate might bestow on me in the coming months. Random, do your worst, for I am ready.

Because my life just wasn't exciting enough, I'm also trying to sell a contract that is supposed to begin in 3 weeks, while I am 1 week away from being homeless. Once relieved of this contract, I presently have no alternatives. My own decisions astound me. I enjoy planning events 3 months in advance (at least), and yet I've chosen to do this a month before a very hectic Fall semester begins.

And to wrap everything up nicely, I'm attempting to change my major during what should be my senior year of college but in what is actually my pseudo sophomore year of my major. Information Technology to English. I was never a fan of large paychecks or job security, so changing majors seemed the logical choice, right? Right...

So here I am, in a handful of quandaries (that's really how you spell that... amazing). And yet, my heart rate hasn't reached a dangerous height, my eyes aren't swollen from tears, and I'm even chipper enough to write a blog post. I'll say it again: Change is upon me. Us. Everyone, always. Even when I've thought my life was moving in a very orderly, peaceful direction, it was changing. The change just wasn't so dramatic as it is now. Change is actually a constant so in it's presence, I am comforted.

I won't pretend that it is easy, because it's not, let's get real. But I believe our reactions can make it easier. I do not know what I will do with an English degree. But now I know what I'll be doing for my last few years of college: enjoying myself. I do not know where I am going to be living next week. But I know that it will do me some good to not have every instance of my life accounted for 3 months in advance. I do not know if I will have any friends in the coming year. But I do know that change is good for me.

So in a few months when I'm sobbing, alone on my bed because life is too hard, I'll come back and delete this post. However, currently the sun is shining, I have a full day of leisure reading in front of me, and nothing seems too ridiculous to accomplish. And just to go along with this crazy change business, this post will not receive a title. Look at me, walking on the wild side...

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Not just the blog's new makeover (which, anyone on blogger should jump on this new template designer, it's pretty slick) but overdue to return and report about China. I lagged on Shutterfly explanations and picture postings, but one day, one day I will really finish all my picture posting and summarizing. Obviously that should be sooner rather than later but...let's be honest about my very real problem with procrastination.

No, I'm not going to post pictures or descriptions of places here. This "Debriefing of China" post is more reflection. Many people have asked me what I studied, what was my favorite part, what I learned in China, etc.

I studied globalization, which was fantastic. I thought it would be a distant secondary part to us trapezing around China for tourist attractions, but it was a closer second than I realized. It's happening, it's happening now, and I don't believe it will ever stop happening. Is it a bad thing? I don't think it is, but at this point in the game, I think it's less about what it "is" and how countries, companies, and citizens are going to respond to it. Some citizens have less of a say than others, so that's the rub, countries like Ethiopia and Ghana and others in Africa. All in all, my study lead to the discovery that globalization is one murky topic and if anyone asks me what I studied on my trip, I'm going to say "a mixture of economics, social policy, and business."

My favorite part...another conundrum to answer. The obvious answers are seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors, being on the Great Wall, climbing Yellow Mountain, etc. While those were all amazing, and it's rude to downplay any of those, I don't think of those when I think of my favorite moments in China.

I first think of a tomb we visited that was surrounded by an ancient brick wall. Two friends and I looked through the whole thing then had some time to explore the wall before we went back to the tour bus. It was sunny, (I can't say clear because I think there were 5 days in China that I saw blue sky), quiet, peaceful, and there wasn't another soul on the whole wall. There was foliage in the countryside around the area and we just walked around, without saying anything. Why did this matter? Because it was the first time in China (also the 4th week in China) where I had a quiet moment to myself. Technically, I suppose I still wasn't by myself, but it was as close as I could possibly get, given the 1.3 billion populous and the buddy system that was in full force (and rightly so). For the first and last time in China, I felt all encompassing peace.

The second thing I think of is a 3 day river cruise we took down the Yangtze river. I was never alone so it lacked the same magnitude that the city wall had, but it was peaceful in its own right. We took a side trip down a smaller tributary, then got into row boats to go down an even smaller tributary, and it was immensely beautiful. I think people's view of China is rice patties and cracker jack box sized housing. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to change my view to how beautiful China can be.

I've been ruminating quite a bit of this last question, what I learned in China. I don't think I can give a concise answer to this. Instead, I just have been keeping a running list that I'm not sure will stop growing in the next few months. It's probably cliche, most of the readers will become exasperated and say "she was only there for 6 weeks!" but what can I say? I guess I'm naive and easily influenced, but in situations like this, I'm not so sure it's a bad thing. I'll throw out the caveat on this list that many of these things I knew once before, but forgot them along the way.

The List:
1. I love my family more than I thought I could.
2. God doesn't care who you are, where you're from, what you look like, He loves everyone. Everyone.
3. I enjoy my alone time (see above).
4. The Chinese are beautiful people, inside and out, and China is a beautiful country.
5. For all the hurdles facing the Chinese government, I think they're doing the best they know how...for the most part. Let's just say I have no idea where a group would even begin to make policies for 1.3 billion people.
6. I can do hard things.
7. A little bit of optimism in the face of pessimism can work wonders.
8. People are good. There might be some bad things that happen, but all people are good.
9. Change is healthy, positive, and necessary.
10. I'm not an impulse buyer.
11. I need to go to graduate school.
12. I will change the world, one way or another.

To be continued.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Apparently that means "See you later" in Chinese...but I tried translating "Goodbye" first and the same characters came up so who really knows.

I didn't talk much about this after my post about getting my passport, but I'm headed to China! Nanjing, tomorrow, to be specific. University study abroad trip, and there are only 15 students going with my professor and his wife so I'm ridiculously excited. No, I do not know Chinese or anyone else going but at this point, it's adding to my excitement. I'll still have email, which if we're friends (in real life or on Facebook) you have access to one way or another. Funny thing about China: they censor their internet, so getting to this blog will be extremely difficult, if at all possible. My main concern was backing up my pictures in case of computer or camera failure, so I created a site on Shutterfly, that I believe will be accessible in China.

I can also post in my "travel journal" on the site so if I feel so inclined to wax eloquent while abroad, I can do so. I'll only be gone for six weeks, but I'm sure the time will fly. I fly out of Sea-Tac airport tomorrow, to LAX, then to South Korea, then to Shanghai, then on the train to Nanjing. The next day I'll start classes in Nanjing University! Only two, one taught by a the BYU professor coming with us and one by a Nanjing professor. One about globalization (the topic of the whole program) and one about Chinese culture and history.

Just furthering my mantra, "Yukon, ho!" and I'll return and report in 6 weeks!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vulnerable Party!

I've mentioned before that I'm taking a creative writing class this semester. We just had our last lecture and I turned in my portfolio, and I can say that I really learned a lot and improved as a writer. A few pieces I was actually really proud of, or thought at least that they should be shared, so what better avenue to self-indulge than my blog? The titles to most of the pieces are the titles of the blog post itself. I didn't want to do one huge long one because I thought that would get cumbersome to wade through. I included italicized introductions to every piece, since it's still fairly weak writing and I don't want to be judged without being able to defend myself, heh. So, feedback is much appreciated, but not required. Sorry for spamming you with blog posts, but if you wished I posted more, then today is your lucky day! All my pieces are below this explanatory post.

Poems galore!

These were the only pieces that I revised and resubmitted for the class. I think my poetry is abysmal, but I really liked the subject of all of these. The prompt for the first one was to use words we didn't know the meaning of before we started writing (abraded and apportioned). Second, was to write the poem from someone else's point of view (think Looney Tunes...). Finally, we did a little bit about ode poems, so that should be self explanatory.


Sunlight streams through
pristine window panes, warming
white, blue, brown
speckled carpet.

One hundred and eight
black, white, red
cards lay ready
to be apportioned into hands
too small to manage them.

Forced to wait,
brown, gold, green
speckled eyes
too small to tell time
well with tears.

Abraded by youth,
he scatters the cards in rage
changing the game to
one hundred and eight card pick-up.

His back turns,
leaving her tears to fall
and be warmed
in a sunlit patch of
white, blue, brown
speckled carpet.

Note: there are 108 cards in an Uno deck. I remember a sibling's friend throwing the cards and making me pick them up. I don't remember crying, and the sibling actually stayed to help me after his rude friend threw them. It just worked better the way I wrote it.

Elmer's Lament

That damn rabbit.
We started as business partners,
and now I’m the villain.
Forget your lines, don’t do your job,
and somehow that turns into a catch-phrase.
I am NOT a doctor!

I used to think we’d be best friends
forever, traveling the country.
But he started getting more girls than me...
Apparently when you’re a big shot
you don’t have time for “bumbling” old men
with invented speech impediments.

“Time to face facts”, that idiot said.
The people loved him more than me
and I’m stuck here, working as
a sanitation engineer
for rent money.

Ode to the Microwave

You are singular in path
around, around
Either blinded and burned
or cold and alone.

You count on the visitors:
a garden burger that smells like vomit
a Tupperware of unknown sauce
(that explodes like a naked suicide bomber,
no paper towel, no lid)
a stick of butter, unattended
(that turns into a flood of butter,
warm & sticky,
reminiscent of pee).

You are neglected and filthy.
You heat and reheat.
And though the tenant has thirty seconds
he has no time to wipe you
with a damp washcloth.

Africa Bound

This was the culmination piece for the fiction unit. Surprisingly, I got really positive feedback from the class on this, and my professor. I wrote it at two in the morning the night before it was due, and thought it was cute enough, but my class had a tendency to love the highly theatrical, so I didn't think this would be a favorite. I envisioned Calvin & Hobbes and "Yukon, Ho!" while writing it.

“What are you packing?” his mother asked from the doorway, as the weak February morning sunlight filtered through the slits between the dusty, white, plastic blinds in his room. Books and clothes clogged any pathway from the door to where he was hunched. Stuffing socks, underwear and various instructional manuals into a small duffel bag, he was not to be bothered. The sign on the door said so. “IMPORTANT TRIP PREPERATION-ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” it declared in bright red, all-capital letters.

“Mom, I’m in a bit of a hurry, could we talk about this later?” Clark didn’t even turn from the task at hand (tearing a world map from the wall, to stow in the worn blue and white duffel). Before wrestling the zipper closed over the contents bursting from the tote, he paused, and inventoried his remaining possessions. He didn’t want to leave anything behind that could potentially save his life on this journey. The bright blue paint of the walls was littered with small black holes, pin holes to be exact. They had been holding up maps, posters of exotic animals, and safety guides, but those were now tucked safely in a pocket of the bag on the floor.

“Sweetheart, you can do whatever you like, as long as I know where you’re planning to go” she said. He finally turned to face her. His electric blue eyes were solemn as he met her gaze and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to the African jungle.” He quickly looked away, not wanting to make her cry. As he grappled the zipper on the polyester packing bag, she was silent. I knew she wouldn’t understand. She’s probably crying already, can’t even wait until I leave. Clark remained kneeling on the floor, lacing up his ankle-high, tan hiking boots.

“Are you sure you have to leave so soon? Would you like some food for your trip?” Suppressing a chuckle at her neediness, Clark opened his mouth to decline her offer, but his stomach piped in first with a rumbling growl. She smiled, and said “Come on, I bought more cereal yesterday, have a bowl before you head out.” Grudgingly, he shouldered his pack and followed her into the kitchen. He pondered his travel plans, where he would camp in between villages while on the road. He looked the part of an intrepid explorer. His boots were too big, and his khaki cargo pants hit a little too high on his laces. A favorite red fleece jacket was already zipped up to his chin in preparation to go outside. His dark brown curls were edging dangerously close to his eyelashes, pushed farther down by his favorite baseball cap, worn to show his sworn fealty to the Seattle Mariners.

His train of thought reached the station and he jerked from his present thoughts. “I know what you’re trying to do” he said, giving her a parental glance. Sighing, he patted her hand resting on the counter. “You’re trying to keep me here longer, hoping I’ll forget to go. I’ll write Mom, I promise.” Leaping from the stool, he crossed the kitchen. He bounded down the stairs, looked one last time into his mother’s face, and walked out the door into the wild blue yonder.

He ran from the door and jumped behind a nearby tree. There were stampeding rhinoceroses nearby, he could hear them running and their occasional mating cries. He was familiar with this species, with their multiple body shapes and colors, but knew they were lethal when tested. Best to avoid them, and he headed opposite the black and yellow striped path they frequented. There were a poisonous variety of vines hanging in the path up ahead, silver and shiny. He crouched in a bush out of sight, not wanting to be in the open while searching in a book for some advice. “The vines will kill you, but the blue, rubber-like leaf holding pairs of vines together at the bottom are safe” Clark read out loud, grateful for the foresight to bring that particular book along. He took a deep breath, started to run, and jumped onto the small, bright blue leaf between the two deadly vines. One sleeve brushed the vine and he yelled out in pain, tumbling off of his perch. It didn’t get my skin. That means I’m okay. Clark stood, resituated his duffel, and continued on his trek.

He was keeping his eyes on the trail ahead, but not on his feet below. A bright green cobra, coiled on the ground, took a chunk out of Clark’s foot. He cried out in pain but quickly army crawled out of the reach of the snake. I can’t leave it there, what if it attacks another explorer? His foot was healed and Clark got into a low crouch, circling the beast slowly. Before the reptile knew what hit him, Clark landed on top of the circularly wrapped body and trapped the cold, wet, steely head of the snake in his hand. Clark’s sheer bravery had tamed the monster. There will be less of those on higher ground, so Clark limped towards a distant mountain.

Should’ve packed lighter, he thought as he huffed up the mountain. At the crest, he dropped the bag and removed the red fleece jacket he was wearing. I also should’ve brought some food…wild game will be scarce until the Panama Canal I think. He pulled a map from his bag, trying to orient himself by the position of the sun in the sky, to the longitudinal lines on the grid in his hands. His eyes poured over the different colored countries and provinces. Without realizing what he was doing, he slowly sat down on top of his duffel. In a trance, he pulled out a reference guide to the Pacific Northwest and started cross-referencing native birds (he had packed his slingshot) in the area to what he believed his coordinates were.

Around one o’clock in the afternoon, Clark heard his name being called out. His survival skills kicked in, and leaving all of his scattered belongings where they were, he jumped up into the nearest tree for safety. “CLARK! Lunch is ready!” Ha, a likely story, trying to lure me in with food. His stomach released an untimely exclamation. He heard the assailant stop moving, imagined its eyes roving the jungle canopy for its prey. Clark dared a peek around the top of the hollow, yellow tree trunk he was hiding behind. My only hope is a sneak attack. He propelled himself down the tree trunk with enough velocity to land his flying kick at the end of his run. His high speed assault didn’t land an injury on anything; his predator was nowhere to be seen. As he turned his head, he felt something grab him around the middle from behind. With a yelp he tried to struggle free, but alas! The arms were too strong, too full of love to ever let go.

Clark giggled as his mother threw him over her shoulder, and picked up his duffel bag from the grass, maps and pamphlets already safely packed away. “I thought I was covering my tracks pretty well, how did you find me?” Clark asked. “Well, the African jungle isn’t so far away you know” his mother said, as she reached the bottom of the mountaintop, walked past the tamed cobra and poisonous vines, and right into the backyard.

Love Not For the Faint of Heart

This was the culmination of the essay unit, but I don't like it that much. Again, in the memoir style. All of these details are embellished, I'll say that up front to keep my parents from worrying. True facts of this story: I stayed overnight in a hospital. I really did think the lady with the broken collarbone should've gone in before me. Everything did seem grey and green and dull. It was cold when the doors opened in the waiting room. There was a single bed sitting the middle of the room, that did seem pretty lonely. My mom really did insist that I go back to bed while she collected my stool sample. Mom's are the best, ever, period.

I overheard the only other person in the room say she had a broken collarbone. I was in front of her in priority to get a room, it seemed like I should talk to a nurse to let her go first. I only had knives in my stomach, which hadn’t been that big of a deal for the past six weeks. Neither had the vomiting, thirty pound weight loss, or extreme fatigue. I couldn’t imagine breaking a bone; I still wince when I think about it. But there she was, sitting cool as a cucumber, I couldn’t believe it. Regardless, my parents wouldn’t have let her go first anyway. I suppose every parent imagines their child should be the first in line in every hospital waiting room, but I wouldn’t know that, seeing as I don’t have any children. Overall, I did feel pretty terrible.

Fluorescent lights always seem to make dismal places worse off. The waiting room looked white washed even though parts of the wall had green in them. Soft drones from the lights made me feel like I was in some sort of honey factory, but without the sweet result. Disinfectant filled my nostrils no matter how concentrated I was on breathing through my mouth. The nurse at the front desk was there for secretarial purposes, but I’m sure it was part of her job description to be warm and inviting. She did an alright job but when automatic doors let cold air in with every entrance, the cold could not be dispelled by just one halfhearted smile at nine in the evening. I highly doubt whoever ordered the chairs for that room had ever sat in one for any length of time. Probably for the best, or they would be aware of how much money they wasted, and that it would have been more polite to force people to stand instead of sit on those numbing plastic chairs.

A nurse came, but no wheelchair. I snailed along behind the nurse, my parents cautiously stepping forward only if I stepped forward. I finally made it, nervous to see a bed in the middle of the room. The bed itself seemed like a great idea, I wanted to pretend the whole day was a dream, but its location troubled me. Like an outcropping in a sea of white tile, it looked so lonely. I knew I would be too, undoubtedly I was staying overnight and undoubtedly, my parents had to go sleep somewhere of their own, presumably our house. I would be huddled on the outcropping, waiting for dawn and the arrival of a rescue crew. The grey plastic rails on either side were there to keep me from falling into the ocean, but they looked like a barrier to any kind of comfort. I was getting ahead of myself, they still had the regiment of tests to run while the night was young, and my parents were still here, waiting.

The bathroom attached to the room was supposed to be a polite convenience, but there wasn’t a seashell picture to be seen, as every really comfortable bathroom has, so it seemed just one more unknown to deal with. More white and green walls and more white tile floors, more fluorescent lights and more bees hovering just out of sight, but I could hear them so I knew they were there. The overall grey was marred by sweeping black curtains every so often; I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. Intravenous this and that started, they told me like it would make a difference to me. I felt like cooked pasta so it could have been cocaine, and I would’ve taken it for lack of strength to do otherwise.

I can still see my mom’s poor face, covered with enough worry to care for a family of diseased children instead of just one. It often gets like that, but this was one of the few times it actually seemed warranted, I mean I was in a hospital. Six weeks of symptoms and I hadn’t said a word to anyone, and I’m sure one day my reward will be my own child doing the same to me. I knew she loved me, but I couldn’t ever interrupt the silence to share something important, it had sat there too long. Like a comfortable house guest, I started to feel it would be an imposition to let him know what an imposition he was. My body was eating away at my small intestine and I really ought to tell my mother, so please just excuse yourself for a minute so I can feel comfortable about saying these things out loud, thank you very much. As I said, it didn’t happen until a few days before Memorial Day weekend, a little late, but better than never.

The last thing they needed was a sample, and then everything would be discussed in the morning. The final hurdle seemed the most daunting of all. I think they all felt very sorry for me, a seventeen year old, going through the rounds of most middle-age colon health tests. Regardless, it had to be done. As previously stated, I knew my mother loved me, but when she helped me across that finish line, small plastic cup in hand because I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself, I knew in my cocaine induced stupor, what true love really looked like. Love is helping your spread-too-thin child to the bathroom at midnight in a hospital, and upon realizing that her legs are as strong as jelly, insisting that she go back to the room to lie down while you stay behind to retrieve what the doctor ordered. Odd, a bit disgusting, and thoroughly exhausting, but only mothers are strong enough to wield that kind of love.

Memoir Essay

One assignment was to write an essay in a memoir style. I didn't think this piece was all that great, but I love the subject matter to death. I really did write this on January 14th, after really just leaving a voicemail on his phone. The details might be slightly embellished (like I don't really remember sweating while picking up grass clippings when I was 4 or 5, or being particularly desperate to move into our new house) but it was a way to illustrate the lessons, which are very real. I also know my dad is 61, but 60 sounded like a better milestone for the story.

I have heard the theory that fathers fight less with their teenage daughters than they do with their teenage sons. The logic of the claim seems sound, citing that fathers and sons are much too alike to see eye-to-eye because one party is in a stage of life where they know they are right, and the other party is in a stage of life where they know they cannot be wrong. Yet, my personal experience does not mirror this phenomenon. Probably due to my tomboy childhood, I have turned out to be the epitome of my father. Wearing tall straw cowboy hats and tan, genuine leather cowboy boots were a favorite outfit of my fathers, even though we lived in the suburbs. I always wanted to be a cowboy. He always wore his dark green fishing vest with brightly colored flies stuck to all the pockets to the river, and kept extra fishing line in the pocket of his Dockers. I always had a habit of picking out vests to wear to school. Bird hunting was the logical use of the purebred bird dog of one variety or another that was always living with us, so naturally, I became a bird hunter assistant and travel companion.

Regardless of our closeness in my single digit years, my father and I were both too stubborn to reach a common ground from when I was twelve until I was twenty. There were no disownments; there were no marks of abuse, just a respectful distance and unspoken truce to speak as little as possible because the few moments when our disagreements did come to a head were not pretty. And yet, here on the fourteenth of January, my father turns sixty, and I can do nothing but think of him. I suppose that is how it ought to be, on the birthday of someone that you love. Perhaps this is more important to me because I have realized how long it has been since I spent any quality time with him. Or maybe, after eight years of purposeful distance, I have begun to realize the opportunities I have missed.

I was four years old, and we had a large front, side, and back yard. The long green grass was always soft and thick, perfect for constant romping around the yellow rambler we were living in. Inevitably, it had to be cut, and inevitably, our Saturday chores began. Bright and early, all five of us kids would trek outside to rake and bag all the grass clippings that had shot out behind the diligent yard worker, my father. The plastic red rakes were too big for me to utilize effectively, so I was designated the task of bag handler. Holding open the black, plastic trash bag (that I could’ve have fit in) always meant itchy grass clippings would fall over the sides and onto my exposed arms and hands. Before the deed was done, the sun would be high in the sky and my shirt would be sticking to my back, my throat dry with grass flying around my face. Why we didn’t have a bag on our lawn mower that would expedite this slave labor by collecting the grass itself, I’m not sure. “Saturdays are work days, just like every other day of the week” I remember hearing.

In a few years, my father started construction on a house. Eventually we would move in, but the process was long and irksome. In the end it was a two story, white house with four large windows on the front. It sat on five acres, one of which my father cleared himself, with the help of my brothers, to build the house on. It wasn’t a mansion, and there wasn’t any breath-taking architecture to be completed. Why was it taking so long to throw up four walls and a roof? Why were there so many details to take care of? “If there is a job worth doing, it is worth doing right” he would always tell me.

A few years after that, we moved across the state. Initially we moved into another yellow rental house with a sloping, scrubby lawn and cheap cabinets. After awhile there, we bought a house around the corner, and were moving out of the burial place of my first pet, Herbie the hamster. I scrubbed the white walls in my room, dusted the clear light fixtures in my bathroom, and swept in the darkest recesses of the garage. The multi-day process was exhausting and obviously excessive. The renters before us hadn’t done nearly as good a job cleaning as we had, but we moved in anyway. No doubt the place would rent with or without my sweat sacrifice. But, “always leave something better than when you found it” was my father’s mantra.

In approximately five years of my childhood, I learned three lessons more valuable than anything I have learned thus far in my fifteen years of organized education. His integrity, humility, and incredible work ethic were more of an example to me than any renowned figure in history. Work, school, and social engagements constantly demand my time. However, my friends, skills, and knowledge I am sure, were acquired through the three principles I remember most from his teachings. So on a milestone like your sixtieth birthday, what should you get? I think you deserve to hear how much your child loves, honors, and respects you; instead of hearing her leave a hurried voicemail on your cell phone at the end of the day, wishing you just another “happy birthday."

Past Burned by House Fire

We read a newspaper article in class that was really published in the Washington Post. It read like a short fiction piece, included hilarious details that would be great for fiction, but seemed strange (in a good way) in a newspaper. So, the prompt for this piece was to make a fiction piece out of one of three newspaper blurbs (which were real) that we were given.

The true part of my story is that there was a woman (Judy James, 42) in West Jordan, UT that paid two teenage boys to burn a house down. She admitted she did it, she was charged with arson, her bail was set at $10,000. The details in between all of that were embellished by yours truly. I think this piece was one of my better one of the semester.

WEST JORDAN, Utah - Ray Markham, 16, and Tony Fledger, 14, were waiting for something interesting to happen on the corner of 3000 East and Center Street on a lackluster Wednesday night. Little did they know the excitement would come from Judy James, a 42 year old woman that could have easily passed for either of their mothers. A stout, disheveled looking woman with fly away auburn hair stopped at the 7-11 the boys were loitering in front of and coerced them into burning a house down at 3836 W. Country Drive, Salt Lake County.

Markham claims they denied the request initially, but the offer was too good to ignore. Fledger further explained, “I mean, this crazy lady is givin’ us free stuff to use, to burn something with? Would you pass that up?” James insisted that she never thought she or they would actually do it, but “to leave that house standing after that S.O.B left me…couldn’t do it...couldn’t.”

The boys deny ever knowing James’ motivation, simply that she handed them the matches, lighter fluid, and paper towels to get the job done. Markham elaborated “it just looked…like I dunno, you ever put off cleaning your room, and then you Mom stops screaming at you about it, and instead she just stares at you and quietly asks you to pick up your clothes? It was kind of like that. She just needed us to do it.”

Carl and Sandy Budging (33 and 30, respectively) were walking their cocker spaniel, Daisy, 3, the very same night, past the very same 7-11. They saw James stumble into the parking lot. The Budgings approached James to check on her mental health. “People are pretty queer when they cry so hard they start laughing, and she was looking mighty queer” Sandy declared. Before either Budging had a chance to ask after her health, both report that James profusely apologized for burning the house down, and that she never should have involved her (James’) children.

At that time, Markham and Fledger returned to the 7-11 to find James. Fledger stated “She told us to go alone, but as we were pouring the gasoline we could see her standing at the edge of the yard. When we threw the lit matches on it, she started screaming about her kids and her husband, and then she freaking ran into the middle of the road! We had to follow her; she didn’t look so good.”

Once detained at the police station, James’ only comment was “tell my boys I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for them to have to see that. Boys shouldn’t have to watch their parents fight.” While her outward appearance came across as composed, while she was detained her eyes never stopped roving the surfaces in her jail cell, never finding repose. James was charged with one count of aggravated arson, a first degree felony. Bail was set at $10,000.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I'm flirting with danger, by writing this specific post in a publicly advertised URL, but we'll see what happens...

I may have a faulty memory, but I seem to remember a house kept around 68 degrees Farenheit during the winter growing up. I also remember never touching the thermostat, it wasn't really mine to mess with anyway. Summer, wasn't an issue because no one in western Washington has air conditioning anyway. Transition to Provo, land of cold winters and hot summers. First year I lived in the dorms where I didn't have much opinion or say about any temperature. Second year I lived in an apartment were we never could figure out our thermostat. Now, I'm here.

It's a user friendly little panel, just inside the kitchen, next to the washer/dryer combo. Flick a switch for "heat" "off" or "cold", use the up and down arrows to pick a temperature for the apartment, look at the little numbers on the digital display to see what the temperature is. A plight of this place is that it's technically 3 stories, though only 2 are livable. The thermostat is on the colder of the two floors so in your room, you're never really sure how hot it is. I would say I'm generally a cold person with poor circulation. I have an abundance of fleece blankets (all 3 of them) and a quilt and comforter to boot. Not all on my bed at the same time, but all available for use in the living room when required.

I don't think I'm that frugal, but I do think I'm aware of waste. So, instead of heating an apartment, I'll just bundle up, slippers, socks, robe, blankets, not move in the nest of down, and I'll warm up eventually. My last unmentionable roommate didn't share this mentality, and after at least 3 discussions, I gave up. I'd come home to a 75 degree condo in the middle of winter and while it might have felt nice for a minute, the money that was slowly draining out of my pocket turned my heart cold when I saw the temperature reading. I'd discuss with my other roommates the idea of leaving it at about 68 degrees when it's cold, turning it down a bit at night and when we leave for the day and no one said otherwise so I assumed the unmentionable roommate was just a little less aware of heating costs, being from southern California.

Enter new roommate (who's fabulous, and not unmentionable at all) and we've all just had the same discussion! It's been a beautiful week here in Provo (mid 60's) and I've been quite toasty after walking around campus all day, Then I become even more toasty when I walk into a 72 degree apartment...So we have an apartment pow wow where I declare a happy medium must be reached, which dissolves into: because I set it to 65 degrees when everyone leaves in the morning, we can leave it at 65 degrees always, and it's too much of a hassle to turn it up when we're home, so 65 is fine. I reserved the right to turn it up when it rains/possibly snows next week because I don't mind turning it up to 68 at all, but if no one else does that's fine.

The point of this was to pose a question, (not to rag on my awesome roommates) and the question is this: am I crazy? Is 68 like sitting in ice water to the rest of the world? Should I not fight that though, because I'm saving more money than everyone else? These are questions the more experienced of my readers can answer...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Analogy time

As my roommates and I were watching Xavier play Kansas St. last night in a most exciting NCAA Sweet 16 game, we noticed drips of water coming out of the ceiling, right where the tub in one of the rooms would be (we live in a two story condo). Our line of vision followed the drips down to my Wii, my RockBand drums, and my resilient VCR. We all leaped into action, moving the valuables first, then the whole entertainment center, then telling the roommate in the tub to get out of the tub, then calling our landlord, then getting bowls for the water, then getting towels to dry everything off with, then waiting for the landlord to pick up her phone, then wondering what more we could do. As roommates 1 and 2 were talking to said roommate in the bathtub and making phone calls, I felt like I had to do something, the water had to stop or else due to the softness of the ceiling, something was likely to fall through onto our brand new carpet. So, naturally I put my hand against the holes in the ceiling. That would stop it!

After a few minutes, roommate 1 asked me what the heck I was doing because it was just getting my shirt all wet with gross drywall water. I agreed and went to grab the towels. As we sat there, watching our landlord poke a hole through the ceiling as easily as sticking your finger in a pie, I thought about my instinctive reaction. An unstoppable force is pulling something undesired into my direct path, and all I can do is put my hands out, palms up, and believe that it's going to have an effect. I have to stop it, I can do it, get out of the way while I put my rubber-stopper hands up to half a dozen holes and watch them miraculously dry up all the water. What happens in the end? Water keeps flowing, holes keep growing, ceiling is softening, and my shirt is wet and smelly.

I'm not sure where my poetic analogy is going. I think if this issue was at rest in my life/personality type, I would have a flourishing conclusion about "going with the flow" instead of stopping it. Instead, all I can think about is money, school, and life, in that order. Three holes, two hands, and a sporadic sleeping schedule. Unfortunately, I think the way it works is that the drywall is going to keep getting waterlogged until the ceiling bows to it's apex of a monstrous crack right above my arms covering my head, and right at that moment, maybe I'll wise up and finally start depending on the one person that can really stop holes in my life.

Until then, I'm going to invest in a poncho. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I've never been one for hobbies. Not that I don't wish I had some, or think that people with hobbies are silly or waste time, or anything like that. No, I just haven't ever been able to justify pursuing something that doesn't directly influencing my future. To be sure, this is a stupid behavior especially because it leads to spending large amounts of time on overly frivolous activities like video games or surfing the internet, but maybe in a small way those are my hobbies. ... Gross.

I started playing trombone in the seventh grade. Then I started playing trombone in the tenth grade. The only reason I didn't quit before high school was because of jazz band. The original motivator was friends in the class and getting out of school to go to different cities and perform for a little bit and play for a lot longer. There was something intoxicating about jazz. The dotted eights, the dominant sevenths, the attitude, the emotion. I'd like to say it was the challenge that I enjoyed, and I did, but truth be told, everything about trombone was a challenge for me. I also can't lie and say I loved the freedom of improvisation, because honestly it scared me to death. I did love the cultivation my music taste received from being in jazz band for so long. Playing jazz made me listen to jazz, made me appreciate jazz. And that's how I began to appreciate artistic nuances, references in other songs, and again, the raw emotion. I'm listening to Blue in Green right now, by Miles Davis, and the poeticism drove me to write this post.

After tenth grade, this wasn't just a hobby, this was the future career path. My freshman year of college, I auditioned for the school of music and didn't get in. In hindsight, this was how things were supposed to happen, but it was hard to hold onto that glimmer of hope at the time. Trombones are valuable, college is expensive, and after all my hard work and time (which again, in hindsight wasn't that much) I could hardly stand to look at it. I stopped playing the trombone on April 16th, 2008. Shortly thereafter, it got sold. Shortly thereafter, I stopped listening to jazz.

My iPod has twenty-five gigabytes of music. The majority of it is jazz and classical. I've listened to the handful of pop, country, rap, and rock bands/artists I have too many times to count. I've purchased quite a bit of new music over the past two years, but invariably, I get bored, claim I need new music, try to discover new bands, but usually end up letting the radio drone out the silence of my car. I debated taking off all the jazz and classical music from my iPod but couldn't bring myself to do it, to waste it even though it was already being wasted.

Today, Wired.com was giving away a collector's edition of a bunch of Miles Davis music and memorabilia. To enter the drawing, I just had to post a comment about how Miles Davis could be one of the greatest musicians of all time. I didn't commit to any ridiculous statement like that, I just posted something silly ("If peeing your pants is cool, then I'm Miles Davis!") and wondered what I'd really do if I had all of that.

Would I listen to it? I have a lot of Miles Davis right now, that I never listen to. I have a lot of Coltrane, Mingus, Thelonious, Hawkins, Basie, and more that I never listen to. I have a whole set of North Texas State University Jazz Band CDs that I cherished as one of the best gifts I've ever received, that I never listen to. I went about the rest of my day, came home, and listened to Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool. Like an addict, I went right back to it, a habit I could never truly shake. Apparently time heals all because the knife music left in me after I changed majors left a hole that nothing but a 32 bar blues could fill.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ode to Caitlan

Preface: I'm in a creative writing class and we discussed the "ode" today, which is poetry, but I wasn't about to write a poem and post it on the internet.

I've been pondering my freshman year these past few days. I came to BYU the Summer term before the Fall semester when most of the '07 high school graduates typically begin college. I didn't know a single person that would be there during the summer, but I didn't think much about it until I actually got to my dorm, unpacked, and watched my mom and sister drive out of sight. Then suddenly, I was a little frightened.

My roommate moved in later that night, accompanied by her mom. Truthfully, I remember thinking we probably wouldn't be very good friends. I don't know why, but my initial impression was that she approached everything with more levity than I did, and I wouldn't be able to stand her. The first night as we got ready to go to sleep, I remember her pulling out her scriptures, so I pulled out my scriptures. She pulled out a journal, so I got out a notebook to jot down some thoughts, trying to mirror the duration of her writing as well. Finally, she said a prayer before turning out her light, so I said a prayer before turning out my light. From that night forward, it wasn't so much about doing those things for the sake of doing those things, but it was a function of making sure I wasn't judged. The right reason for doing the right thing came a little later, but that was the catalyst. (We talked later about how we both had the same though, 'don't get judged by the other person' so we kept doing it all summer for that reason)

I don't think I've ever been happier to be wrong. Caitlan and I became fast friends. It was a strong but casual friendship, where we were both confident that we would have a great time if we were ever together, but that didn't mean we had to be together all the time. There were late night runs down the hallway, elastic band jumping, pranks, cafeteria eating, MoTab blasting, and hospital glove drawing times to be had, providing much hilarity. We knew we wouldn't be roommates in the Fall, and thinking about that over the summer was a little depressing. But, it was the first friendship I had that was deeper than geographical location of residence. We still made time to get lunch together, go to sporting events, meet mutual friends, and go to parties. Last year we were roommates again and in hindsight, I can say I was pretty obnoxious. But, that wouldn't negate the good times of the quote wall, a free aquarium, putting barbecue sauce on everything, dance parties, and Little Cesar runs. (Thankfully, Caitlan is one of the most gracious people I've ever met so all of my fallacies as an annoying roommate were forgiven)

This past year we didn't hang out as much as I would've liked, we were both so busy. Texts related funny stories throughout the day or any really big news, but face-to-face visits were farther between. Through the course of the last few months however, Caitlan put in her mission papers, Caitlan got called to serve in the Hawaii Temple Visitors Center, Caitlan left to go into the MTC today, Caitlan will be gone for eighteen months.

I was invited to go to lunch today with her and her family, since I couldn't make it to her farewell, or dinner with other friends last night. It came time to say good-bye and I can say I didn't get choked up, but it was an odd, sad sort of feeling. I'm ecstatic for her opportunity, and what she'll be doing, I know she'll be an amazing missionary, and she'll have the time of her life. It was a sinking feeling I suppose, one where I knew that I had taken her being around and constant texting, for granted. Caitlan makes you feel better, even if you weren't feeling down. Caitlan makes you want to meet people and serve people and be better, without (intentionally/unintentionally) guilt tripping you. Caitlan is a fantastically loyal & genuine friend. Caitlan is already missed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can I love television without being obsessed?

I just wrote out a laborious post about watching "As Time Goes By" this weekend (British TV series with Judi Dench about a middle-age couple falling in love) and being somewhat ashamed about it. After further reflection, I realized I wasn't ashamed at all, and I truly love that show, and I can't wait until next weekend when I have some time to finish watching all of it. So there. Thanks Mom, for introducing me to the greatness that is British humour. Yes, I spelled that with a 'u'. Yes, I've been thinking in "British-speak" to myself for the past two days. And yes, schemes have crossed my mind as to how I could move to London and develop an English accent, even though I've lived in America for the first 20 years of my life.

This leads to another thought I've had recently. I don't feel like I watch that much TV. I watch "30 Rock" regularly, but that's about it. I've been watching earlier seasons of "Scrubs", but have kind of fallen off that bandwagon. And now I've watched 7.5 of 9 seasons of "As Time Goes By" this weekend, but that's about it. Not to say I don't just veg out sometimes, watch a lot of HGTV and "Mythbusters", occasional sporting events, but I always categorized "heavy" TV watchers as someone with two or more shows that they would die before missing on Thursday night, or whenever. Oh, can't forget that my guilty pleasure is Rob Dyrdek's "Fantasy Factory" but it's not in season right now. Again though, in my defense, I watch those online a few days later, it doesn't really dictate my life.

Despite all of that, in everyday conversation, I bring up TV often enough to make me look like a couch potato. Perhaps I just relate things in life to abstract sources really well? Perhaps I like the shows I do because they relate so much to real life? (I really don't believe that one...) I personally think it's because I only tolerate TV I find funny or genuinely interesting (so I'm not sure why I watch HGTV...subconsciously want to be a designer? I'm not sure) and you can always inject funny or interesting comments into conversation. Or so I thought. The more it happens, the more I realize how silly it makes me sound. It's like talking about Facebook in real life, something that has become fairly common place, but I still try to hide it by saying "Someone emailed me" instead of "Someone wrote on my wall/sent me a message". Perhaps it's not as taboo as I think it is, but it's always true that it's never as funny during the second retelling. "Mythbusters" came in handy in my physics class actually, we were discussing pressure so after class I emailed my teacher a link to the episode where a scuba diver's air line gets cut and his whole body is compounded into his helmet because of the water pressure. Great stuff.

All in all, I'm not really sure. I've been making a conscience effort to not talk about TV too much, and an even harder effort to not let it become any sort of importance in my life, but what can I say? I've always been a big fan of music playing in the background, hilarious set-ups, and wrapping up problems in 22 minutes.