Saturday, September 28, 2013

Not always, but sometimes...

...drivers in Logan give me dirty looks when I am in their way. Nevermind that they are the ones driving on the left side of the road. Nevermind that this happened twice in the past three hours. Nevermind that we are not in England.

(But seriously. Let's not think about not being in England. It will make us sad.)

....I want people to do their job, because I am doing mine, and also, you are getting paid. When things in my life depend on you, and I have never met you yet, and the only thing I have ever heard from your employees is how you are pissed off at them even though they are literally doing your job, I get grouchy. Not that that is your problem, but your job description is, actually, your problem.

... I am grouchy. Not always, but sometimes.

....I remember to write in my happiness calendar, and Zane snapchats me stuff, and I make a lot of money in two hours, and I dance on a streetcorner with a new friend, and I get all of next week's homework done in advance for my YAL class, and I find twenty dollars I forgot I had, and I suck up the grouchiness and make my bed, and then I feel better.

...I remember the boy from England who can't pronounce Tater Tots to save his life and also that he winks at me a lot, and I feel better about not being in England, cause he isn't either.

Take away message:

 (Cause randomness has to mean something. That is what they taught me in Lit Analysis, so it has to be true for the sake of my sanity. )

Ahem. Happiness is sometimes a precarious state of things. But we have more control of it than we realize most of the time. Happiness is hard work. Good thing I have a whole lifetime and that's the point of it.


*Dear family, I realize this is, as we used to say, pretty rich coming from me, the door slamming cusser with the tiny black soul filled with rage you all spent last weekend with. But I am making progress, so thanks for all the niceness and putting up with that psycho wielding a lawnmower in spite of the rage.  Y'all are great. Love you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Library Sleepers

Sometimes I am one of them. Like today. They just put pillows in the chairs lining the east windows, and that was a beautiful thing that turned out to be the arch nemesis of homework time. I had an hour and a half break between classes and sixty pages of Gulliver's Travels and rms errors to study and instead I took an hour and twenty minute nap. And the amazing thing about this is that I woke up and didn't even feel that guilty.

You hear that, mom? Not guilty. Boom. Roasted!

We're making progress. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Word Vomit and Why I Abstain, Courteously

Not in the usual sense of dumping any words on a page you might feel like at the time with no regard for applicability, coherence, or appropriate boundaries.

No, my friends, this is me realizing that I want to vomit because of the textbook that wants to teach me how to be an English Teacher. I just read a chapter on censorship that made me want to vomit. Such self-righteous language as I have never been fed from a legitimate source! Such self indulgent and exclusive Messiah complexes! Wowza!

I understand the point. We believe in the right to read.  I get it. I agree with it. I read a lot of stuff in school that wasn't necessarily 'appropriate' for my age group. I believe that being 'appropriate for an age group' is a subjective thing, and I certainly defined that for myself. That's cool. My parents were fine with it, and they were involved in it and I talked about a lot of it with either my parents or my teachers. Go Right to Read! Yay American Library Association!

 However, one small qualification: I absolutely believe in the right to read, and I absolutely believe in advocating the right to read for other people, especially children. What I don't support and can't understand is that a campaign which claims its purpose is to support the free thinking and trust the intelligence of the individuals they work for also refuses to accept the fact that these people may exercise that free thought and intelligence to choose not to read a work they find inappropriate or disturbing. The Right to Read is valid only when accompanied by The Right not to Read.

 I would like to think that I am not a close minded puritan who hates anything remotely offensive in literature. I read Les Miserables and Crime and Punishment and Beloved, for crying out loud. I had no problem with reading an uncensored text of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I support the sentiment as my Writing Professor expressed it; "If you're gonna be offended about something, be offended that this is rooted in history, that this type of thing existed to be written about in the first place." Truth. There is value in literature that contains things we may find offensive, immeasurable value. There is a reason I have never had an issue with reading the things he assigns. There is a reason we talk about things like racism, and violence, and as abhorrent as it is, there could even be a reason to use the N-word in a book. We should have the right to read.

But what if there isn't a reason? What if vulgarity, or obscenity, or extreme violence, and there isn't a purpose for it? What if there is a purpose but I just know that I'm not ready for it? What if those kids in high school who we hope are learning to think for themselves and make their own decisions actually do just that when they say "I believe that this material is degrading and offensive for no reason and I choose not to participate."? What if their parents decide with them that they are willing to say it out loud and find an alternative assignment? Maybe we should knock down our pride a notch or two, enough to realize that they are applying the critical thinking skills and independence we've been trying to teach them and get over ourselves enough to accept that they are doing it in ways we may not personally agree with. Maybe we respect that, or if you can't, suck it up anyway. 

This is all on a case by case basis, of course, There are absolutely students and parents who abuse that right not to read, who try to impose it on other students who have no problem with what they've been assigned, and that is a shame, and when it extends to the rights of others to read, then absolutely educators should fight such attempts at censorship. But if a student chooses not to read something and has legitimate reasons and cares enough to address them with you, perhaps the respect and open-mindedness you've been preaching could go both ways. Maybe you could refrain from demeaning, belittling, and self aggrandizing vitriol. Perhaps you could recognize that 'censor' is not a term automatically synonymous with 'Beelzebub'.

I never realized before taking this class that the field might involve some things I have deep personal issues with. I didn't realize I might be one of those people they are preaching against in this book they made me pay for. And it makes me nervous. I didn't realize it might be such a difficult task to support the Right to Read and the Right to Abstain simultaneously, but maybe if I can pull it off, I'll have something to be proud of.

Though it is not always an option, and we don't want to be New York, sometimes it is appropriate to abstain, courteously. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


You know how female cops are stereotyped as being horrific and terrifying because they have something to prove? Well, I am going to extend the stereotype to female professors. Like a terrible person.

According to the world of academia, I'm allowed to be a terrible person because I am female. Seeing as how all the female educators preparing me to be a female educator are hateful, its going to take a lot of energy not to be unwittingly inducted into their clan of shrewishness. And that, my friends, is energy I just don't have today. Which we can all tell cause I am venting all my frustration to the internet and I'm going to hit the publish button.

And all my suspicions that I am not at all a feminist have finally been confirmed. Because I have never had any trouble with the men who teach my classes.  But the women are overwhelmingly catty and passive aggressive and elitist and unclear and impossible and vicious.

Also, I hate your reading assignments. I wonder what she'd say if my assigned video posting for banned books week actually supported the parents who cause all those headaches for teachers whose literature choices they despise. Because that book was terrible and also inappropriate and I would never make high school students read something that included that much graphic description of sexual activity.  Maybe I don't want to support all the banned books. Maybe some of them should be banned.

I'm breathing. And I'm going to show up to class and be pleasant. I'm going to!

My High School English Teachers followed the opposite trend. Does that mean I have hope?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Catastrophe of Epic Proportions

Keeping up with the Kardashians and Pretty Little Liars just showed up on my list of Netflix suggestions, just for me. Which means one of two things:

1) Their algorithms are royally screwed up.
2) I need to seriously reevaluate the nature of my media consumption.

Cause guys. They think I would watch that.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Sometimes I have this intense need to go to Walmart with Erin in the middle of the night. And I can't, but I still need change so I can do laundry. So I go by myself and buy the cheapest thing from the day old bakery section. And then I eat three crullers on the very short drive home. And I know what Erin would think about such extraneous carbohydrates so late at night so I pawn off the rest on all the random people who are watching a movie in my living room when I get home. And I feel closer to her, cause that's what Erin would do.

Now if only I had some salsa verde to smash all over the driveway. That'd be good.

The Happiness Calendar

I have a friend named Genevieve. She is twice as cool as her name if you can believe it. She can make me laugh harder in public than anyone else, and she uses words like "indelicate", and she cannot cartwheel.  And she is superwoman and kind of intimidating sometimes, because she has a book of a hundred and something things she wants to do in college and she sticks to it with the utmost dilligence. I've seen it. All the goals and their descriptions are written in a small book in pencil, and she retraces over them in pen as she completes them, and she has done a lot of stuff, my friends.

Last week we had our breaks at work at the same time and were sitting eating dinner together, and she was telling me about the last year when I was in North Carolina, and it was a rough year for her. And out of the difficulty was spawned a thing called "The Happiness Calendar". (Tell me she's not the most admirable woman in the world. You can't. Such positivism!) All it is is a tiny cheap calendar from Walmart and the rule is that she must write one thing that made her happy that day before she can go to sleep, even if it's really hard to think of anything. She just makes herself pick one.

Such a suggestion struck me like a lightning bolt. I thought, I must have a Happiness Calendar. To be able to look back at an entire huge period of time marked only by the things that made you happy? I need it. I told her I was going to do that. I thought, life is kind of rough, and I am kind of nervous and wandering around trying to figure out exactly what it is I'm doing and how exactly I plan to pay for that and just being lonely and afraid in general. And that's no way to live, but I have a hard time snapping out of it at times. This seemed the perfect solution.

So, needing a new planner, I bought one accompanied by a calendar, and I've been writing on it. And let me tell you, folks, that the majority of my days are still ones of fatigue, and discouragement, and uncertainty, and that balance that you have to find at the beginning of each new semester is not yet achieved. But I am inching slowly closer to the fulcrum, I think, and it has been eye-opening to take that calendar out and write down something that made me happy today. Not because it's hard to choose one, but that the instant I actually stop wallowing and think about it, it's impossible to pick from the streams of small miracles and tender mercies. It helps me to remember the things I love about Logan and why I wanted to come back here. And it helps me to realize that, even in the midst of my loneliness, most of those things that end up on the Calendar are people. Katie who I ran into on the Quad, and Alan who keeps me from falling asleep in the mornings at work, and Scotty who will teach me how to stretch my intensely painful right shoulder blade area, and Dr. McCuskey the professor who changed my life who I saw on the stairs (who looked at me and said, "Why  aren't you in my classes?"), and Erin who will leave me voicemails just to say she misses me. Life is hard, but the point is to surround each other with love and support, and my Happiness Calendar sessions are not only an excellent excercise in humility but a reminder that I'm not alone even if I feel like it.

Genevieve gets a spot tonight, I think. She gave me the way to remember all those things. It's almost like giving me all those things in one. I'm a lucky girl.

Everyone needs this. That is all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Also. This.

Because we are awesome. And very awkward. And we own it. Like Champions. Best Day Ever.

"If it looks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, it's Imperialism"

Once upon a time I locked my keys in my car outside the library at school. After extensive searching under my car looking like a loser, I concluded that my hide a key is no longer attached to the underside of my car and could be in any number of places spanning about three thousand miles. So I called the campus cops and sheepishly asked them to come break into my car for me, cause you can't do that with a credit card, and that's the only break-in I am any good at. Sigh...

While I was waiting for the cops to come save me, I called my twin Amy. I miss her and I needed someone to give me permission to drop the horrid grammar class. And I sat outside the library talking with her for a good long while about all manner of things; cabbages, kings, our parents, bratty teenagers, school, and eventually the George Orwell piece I had read for my persuasive writing class called Shooting an Elephant. I highly recommend anything written by George Orwell at least once*, and in this case a re-read would probably be in order. I was sharing with Amy the intense satisfaction I get from this class, which is taught by my second favorite professor who I love. He is hilarious and paces around the front of the classroom with growing intensity proportionate with the intensity of the literature we are currently analyzing. I love this man. And I took this class specifically so that I could take it from him and not some grad school hippie who doesn't care, which was a wise choice because this, this is just like the Lit History class that changed my life, but applied to writing. And it is brilliant. And even at seven thirty, it gives me an adrenaline rush that reminds me why I want to teach English! Dr. King! The Rhetorical Triangle! Characters symbolizing the conflict between Imperialism and the native oppressed! yesyesyesyesyesyesyes!**

Long Story short, Shooting an Elephant is the most damning evidence to Imperialism I've ever read, including everything I ever read in 19th Century British Lit. And it is brilliant and beautiful and gory and graphic in all the most effective ways, and now I sound like my crazy coffee-chugging floor pacing, cussing professor, who, after reading a specifically revealing passage, yelled "Excellent!" and then mutter under his breath as he paced away, "Syria...".

That's okay with me. I like him.

And I really like Amy, who is a really good egg, and a really good twin.*** And she plays along when I get all hyped up on English and says extremely quotebook worthy things. It was a good day.

* AKA nobody ever needs to read 1984 twice. As Crawford said, "And just when your soul starts to weep, it gets worse..."

**I miss Brighton. And the yesyesyes dance. That is all.

***Guys. Did you know I have a roommate named Amy? I am also one of five Amys in my ward. We're taking over the place.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


A few weeks ago my phone broke. Like, hardcore broke and took all my contacts and voicemails and text messages down with it. Which was a little bit of a  huge deal because I had text messages and voicemails on that phone from three years ago. In a desperate and unhealthy "let's be a packrat for the digital age" kind of time, I saved everything.  And I am still mad that I won't ever be able to listen to those voicemails again. You know that part that drives me even more crazy? Those voicemails are older than that phone. Which means that somehow they got transferred over when I got that phone, and I DON'T REMEMBER HOW I DID THAT, GUYS! 

So if someone really loved me and knew how to make that happen, I'm still a packrat for the digital age and I would really like all that stuff and I would really like you.

But that wasn't the point. The point is that after two weeks of denial about the real and truly dead state of my phone and some irritation and anger from my family who was sick of wondering where I was, I caved and bought out my contract and bought a new phone. And it's a really good deal. Like, I am getting unlimited everything for twenty bucks a month with no contract. And I really like it. But there's always a catch.

This is my first smartphone. And you guys, it is smarter than me. It's taken me a week to figure out how to use the thing. And there are still some things I am fuzzy on. Like why the heck I can't find the place where it will send picture messages. And I am also pretty embarrassed about the part where I can't get the freaking cover off the back. Which is inconvenient seeing as how I really need the SD card. Seriously, who can't get the cover off their phone and who the heck can't figure out how to send pictures?

My smart phone makes me feel stupid.

My only consolation is that James couldn't get the cover off either, and Zach couldn't figure out how to send picture messages either. And when I ask Bekah really stupid questions like "What does the red exclamation mark mean and how do I get it to go away?" she is really nice and doesn't make fun of me.

Wait. Lie. There was one more consolation. Yesterday my Uncle Leon and cousin Zach and his wife and daughter came to visit on their way to Washington. Which was really nice cause I haven't seen Zach or Leon in so long I can't remember the last time I saw them, but it's been something like eight years. And Leon has this fancy smart phone he doesn't know how to use cause he thinks "Technology is the worst thing to ever happen to our world!" And the only reason he bought it was to get pictures of his granddaughter, but apparently his curiosity is getting the best of him cause we spent the better part of last night listening to Zach teach his dad how to use his smartphone. And I learned some stuff. And I didn't feel as discouraged about not knowing how to use my phone when Zach had to explain how to download apps and the difference between 3G and wi-fi. I felt better then.

But I still can't get the cover off, so....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

And the Winner is...

Elder Daxx Stryker, who opened his mission call yesterday. Storytime.

The plan was to wait for me to get off work before he opened it so I could be there. This turned out kind of funny. First, we were disgustingly busy the night before and prep was gonna be a freaking nightmare the next day, so I offered to come in early, right? Which makes me sound like a nice person but really I wanted to make sure we freaking got out on time cause they were already waiting for me. And Megantron our fearless leader agreed that coming in early would be really good so that Daxx could leave when I got there to go open his mission call.

Hehe. Irony, man.

So all day long I hear updates at work. Megan just got a snapchat of the mailman "taking his sweet time!" and another one with "It's here!" Hayley showed up and announced to everyone first thing that Daxx had his mission call and then all I wanted to do all night was scream "I KNOW! EVERYBODY STOP BUYING SODA AND GET THE LIST DONE SO I CAN GO AND HE CAN OPEN IT! ALSO, IF YOU SWEEP THE FLOOR ANY SLOWER MY ARTERIES MIGHT EXPLODE!"

Eventually everything was done. And I tried to lock the door and leave. And then a horrific thing happened. It wouldn't lock. I couldn't do it.

(Backstory. I don't normally have a key cause I don't close very often. I had Daxx's key on loan last night. His key was once my key for a really long time. But in between the time it was mine and the time that it was his, it belonged to another employee who:
1 Got her car booted
2 Tried to pry the boot off the car herself
3 Used her work key in the attempt

And then they took it away and gave it to Daxx.)

Long story short, the key is bent, and Daxx is the sole talented person who can use it, apparently. So, exercising my talent for the worst timing in the world, I had to call Daxx to come lock the door, cause I just wasn't being enough of the problem child.

Thank goodness Daxx is super patient and didn't blow up when he had to come save me after waiting for six agonizing hours. But he worked his magic and we finally got there.

And this joyous thing is what happened.

HE'S LEAVING FOR ARGENTINA IN EIGHT WEEKS! Well technically fourteen, but whatever. The MTC is exciting too. Out of all the votes marked on the map, not one person guessed Argentina. We all lost.

There was a lot of "Where's a map?" and " Converter? I hardly know her!"* and incessant "Shoot! That's soon!" and "Guys. I'm gonna die." and a whole lot of fake lisping. (Apparently, Argentinian people say Carne Athada? No one knows. Either way, all the boys started  calling him Elder Thryker and its my job to make sure everyone at Papa Murphy's only talks to him in a lisp for the next eight weeks. We jumped up and down trying to contain our joy.

It was a really good night. July 3rd is speeding towards us.

Also, all my missionary letters will still go to Argentina. Rosario is one mission over from Resistencia. I like Argentina.

* For as long as I have known him, Daxx has made "I hardly know her" jokes. Any exclamation of words ending with er elicits this response. Duster. Eraser. Register. Heater. Steeper. The list goes on. And when he changed his name, I thought it would never end.
"Stryker? I hardly know her!" Twenty thousand times a day, seriously.

And then last night, I was reading the packet they send with the mission  call. And there was a part where they talked about electricity and how the voltage in his mission is 220 and he should prepare accordingly.
"Whoa. What do you do for that? I didn't even think about it."
"I don't know. Maybe you need a converter."
Automatically: "Converter? I hardly know her!"

And then we heard it.

"Ha! Convert her!" 

 There you have it. The most perfectly timed unintentional mission joke in the world. All the jokes culminated in that one perfect point. There was not a more perfect high five moment ever. I will remember that as a golden moment in time for my whole life. That is all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Conference Kids

When we were teensy children, I remember Conference being a super big deal. It was always memorable, be it good or bad. I would spread out my orange blanket on the ground in the living room and fight over floor space with Rose. We'd start, so excited that we got out of Sunday clothes, and ever steadily fight to stay awake. Halfway through we'd beg mom and dad to let us watch it down in their room, pleading with promises that we would be good and watch the prophet. This wish, when granted, usually turned into a raucous, laughter-filled, pillow fight with Alex as the ringleader. Of course, he doubled as the one to tell us to behave so he could claim being in charge on both ends. Those were the days.

Things evolved, of course, as we grew up. We got better at listening, betterish at taking notes when applicable. Ben and Erin started the Conference Waffle tradition and that regulated things quite a bit. And then, one day, we were all magically grown up and there was another generation of big people instructing a new generation of little people in the art of conference- watching. We were well-mannered, and dilligent, and attentive, and mature.

That, my friends, was short-lived.

I realized this last week during the Sunday morning session of conference. Mark and Amy had come the night before so they could make us waffles on Sunday morning, Ben being in North Carolina and the Trents being industrious and service oriented. We had breakfast on Sunday and then went downstairs to the living room so that Amy could take a nap. Of course, she took Mark with her to snuggle like the pukerific newlyweds they are. Of course, I came along because Mark and I were in the middle of a conversation. So there we were, on the couch, not bothering to get ready. Bekah came over to watch with us, and she ended up down there in a chair by my end of the couch. Mom, of course, sat across the room, seeming to sense with her mother's intuition, that she would need to tune us out.

And so conference began, the new generation of adults at one end of the room. And we began in a well-mannered and dilligent and attentive and mature fashion, albeit a pajamified fashion. And then Bekah and I began to cross into each other's territory. Which started off as a companionable sisterly thing and ended with us playing  a game of "Draw Something" on each other's ankles.

Mark and Amy had to see, of course, so there ended up being a lot of stretching my ankles across people and holding some double awkward hands positions while people laughed at Bekah's message. ("Moisturize Me!" I guess I should use more lotion.) Bekah's ankle started out with a dandelion looking thing and ended up as a clover with a Who Village on top, complete with captions and labels. All we needed was the Elephant. It was almost as good as Pillow fights downstairs, even without the urgent warning which is strewn throughout my childhood memories, "CRAP! Dad's coming!"

I promise we listened to the Prophet.

But it was a good thing Mom tuned us out. Also a sign that maybe we are more kids than ever now that we are grown-ups. Cause she doesn't even try to make us behave anymore. And then Matthew came home and we shaped right up. We had to be big kids again. Good examples and all that. I was amazed to realize how quickly we can transition. Maybe we're all just faking it for the kids.

Moral of the story, kids might be better at encouraging good behavior in us than we are at encouraging good behavior in them. Matthew is more awesome than I knew.

 But I really wanted to finish drawing Horton on my sister's leg. Dang!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Not April Fools

I am sitting in Kansas City with Dad. We are gonna be back in Salt Lake on Tuesday. And the adventuring is going well.  We drove through Oak Ridge and saw Grandpa's old house (read: laid on the hill outside it while Dad thought I was weird), and I finally know where Gatlinburg is (Tennessee, that's where it is), and new inside jokes have been born, and we continued the road tripping with Ruby Tuesday's croutons tradition, and I finally found something that makes Dad sicker than me! I can look up at the St. Louis Arch just fine. Also, I laid on the ground and put my feet in the Missouri river again. Bam! St. Louis is mine now.

Also, I made daddy dance with me in a parking lot somewhere in Missouri. No one knows where. Well, probably he does, but I don't remember. My capacity to retain small details was drastically impaired after driving through three states over five hours, but my ability to produce sillyness was apparently intact.

("Dad, you have to waltz with me in the parking lot! Please! Then I'll own all of Missouri and not just St. Louis! Dance with me!")

After some body blocking him from getting in the car, he smiled indulgently and danced.

I think it's going rather well. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Having fun isn't hard when you"ve got a Library Card!

Erin and I have been meaning to indoctrinate her children with the musical episode of Arthur for so long! And we haven't done it and that makes life so much harder cause then I can't walk around the house singing about cookies that smell like fish cause we can't ruin it for them. And it is hard not to sing Arthur songs, for reals.

In other news, I started going to the Library again after a long Hiatus. Part of that was because I was in Utah for three weeks and also because I've been working my way through hardcore English Literature ( which takes a lot of concentration, due to the mixture of Author Schizophrenia and Professor Schizophrenia). But let me be completely honest and admit that those reasons, while valid, are both  cop outs.  You want to know the real reason for my Library Hiatus?

Says, the English major: The Library is always  an adventure.  Why is adventuring bad? Keep in mind that I am using the word adventure free from its general positive connotation. Not that the implied connotation is negative, per se. My point is more that there is no general connotation which applies in any consistent way. Things happen at the Library. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad, and the only consistent thing about the things that happen is that I leave that place exhausted. These excursions are generally interesting enough that I have begun to think of them as Episodes in my own personal Library sitcom. Synopses, coupled with their respective Friends knockoff titles, are as follows:

#1. The one where I lost my wallet
 Covered. Found it. Only panicked a lot.

# 2. The one where I lost Libby
Libby agreed to stay at a table and watch my stack of books whilst I used the facilities. And then I came back and she was gone. And I panicked and broke the quiet library rule* searching for her until I found her in a back corner looking for books on bats. Why didn't I think of that?

#3.The one with all the texting
I lost my powers of Author memorization on this afternoon. So my awesome sister Rose googled like twelve books in a row and texted them all to me while I wandered the rows cursing the library computer that wouldn't let me into the catalog and ignoring the offended looks because I was using my phone and it went off once before I remembered to turn the ringer off. Long story short, Steinbeck and Hemingway are not the same person no matter how much I mix them up. 

#4. The one where I ruined Daxx's favorite shirt.
I was writing a check for a library fine cause no one in this state takes plastic money (although they all have charging stations for the smart cars in the parking lots. Priorities...) and I did not have a pen. So I grabbed his from his pocket, right? And then I stuck it back in and noticed hours later that there was a gaping hole and some pen marks. And he didn't even say anything when I ruined his favorite shirt cause he is all about avoiding the guilt trip, like a champion. I still owe him a green shirt and possibly a pocket protector.

#5. The one with the Rude Librarian.
They have this book drop outside the library. But on the inside of the library it's a door that is labeled book drop that goes to the bins you drop books in from the outside. So if I am in the library, and all the librarians are busy, and the door is open, and the door is labeled book drop, it is reasonable to assume I can go put my books in there, right? So I thought, until that one guy came up to me and said in the most condescending tone of voice possible,"Actually, that isn't for you to use. Do it outside." Somehow, that one phrase coupled with his Snotty Librarian face made me feel like the smallest person in the world. And then I avoided him for the rest of my life.**

#6 The one with Lee in the DVD section.
Once upon a time, I was looking for Jane Eyre unsuccessfully at the Library, when I was approached by a man who asked for any suggestions because he has worked through most of the romantic comedies and he needs new options. Thus ensued a surreal conversation in which Lee presented to me several different business models for all those new occupations he wants to get into including, but not limited to a law firm specializing in malpractice, a catering business that only does weddings, and a restaurant that serves only cloned woolly mammoth steaks, "because you know they are doing that in Asia now. It'll be here soon." He also told me about an eleven year old kid figuring out that T- Rexes could not have been the dominant predator of dinosaurs because their legs aren't long enough to catch anything. He also expressed a sincere love of Jane Eyre and knew what I judged to be a surprising amount for a man in his forties about every version of the movie. The moral of the story: When they start talking about cloning woolly mammoths, nod politely and extricate yourself. Do not ask questions to be polite. I learned this the hard way.

#7 The one with Ross's doppleganger.
I went to this writing workshop at the Library once, and while this author/teacher man looked more like a caveman than Ross, listening to him talk resembled the lectures and quirks of our favorite paleontologist in an eerie way. He even told us about his three divorces, coupled with a segment of the presentation called "Why married couple should spend less time together."
Winner, that one.

Last but not least is the all inclusive "The one where I had to go to the bathroom" because every time I load myself down with books and/or have a small child to keep track of, something about that place send signals to my bladder to ruin my life.

*I find it ironic that the time where I yelled semi-frantically and the one with the rude libararian encounter are not the same day.

**Also, I have a knack for attracting snotty Librarians. They accuse me of stealing books, or charge me double fines, or ask me if I know how to read. Maybe it's the fact that they have degrees in Library Science, a thing that is clearly not a science. Maybe they have let their fake scientist delusions go to their heads. You know, collectively. (Seriously though, why are all librarians brats?)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sometimes, Life takes a turn for the Unpleasant.

It just does. Sometimes it's even my decision to instigate unpleasant situations. And things get uncomfortable, and I feel shaky and unsure and occasionally incredibly guilt-ridden. And I descend into the depths of obsessive coping strategies.* Sometimes you work thirteen hour shifts and it is hard to keep standing up and keep smiling at rude customers and keep going even though you forget the filter in the coffee and your boss gives you a hideous look of disgust and some extremely passive aggressive comments, and then the thing overflows, because I didn't look stupid enough. (By the way, the overflowing was totally not my fault. My image at work is irredeemable, so I have to post the facts on here and hope that the Internets will offer some form of vindication. It could be a long wait, I know, like modem slow. But my job is teaching me patience and self-control. Bring it on.)

The point is, crap sucks. Sometimes. Only for short lived periods. At least the intensity ebbs out. Example time: Today was bad. My brain is "a dangerous neighborhood that you should not go into alone!" Last night was one of those times I stay up late and pay obsessive attention to incredibly insignificant details in order to keep from losing my mind. (and also to do laundry cause I got called in to work and was woefully unprepared in regard to my uniform.) I slept short and got up early and went to work for a hugely long period of time where I made a complete fool of myself in person and through accidental and horrifically timed text messages.  But it's okay, cause my sister hugged me and affirmed all my life choices before she went to bed and I went to crazy town. And my dear caring brother drove me to work this morning cause I was freaked out about my tires, and he told me I was being brave. And my boss was only passive aggressive. She could have been straight-up aggressive. And then Monica (the other boss who hired me who is my favorite person I met in North Carolina) came and made me feel comfortable again and drove me home cause we live close and gave me my long-forgotten and belated Christmas gift which I love and told me hilarious and unbelievable stories about her honeymoon. And I got home and the children were awake and they promptly dragged me upstairs to show me the roses my family put in my room. And I laid on the kitchen floor and had story time with my siblings before our almost nightly ritual of British Television before bed. ("Downton, anyone?") And then I talked to my best friend in all the world who lovingly threw my own advice back in my face (as he has a special ability to do) and told me to pray and that everything will be alright.

And suddenly I feel I can wake up tomorrow and buy new tires and go to work all over again and fold all the laundry which is currently all over my bed (which, let's be honest, is the reason I am blogging instead of dead to the world and horizontal.) I can come home and make dinner and through sheer effort, I can be awake. And I can do it and be cheerful even if I don't feel very much kinship with any sort of ray of sunshine. It's fine, cause I have the best smelling roses you ever smelled and a big heart picture that my Libby gave me along with a hug and a fairly large amount of enthusiasm.

That's worth a lot. And life takes turns for the unpleasant, but not the impossible.

* For example. I once got the worst news I've ever gotten in my life. And all I could think to do was to clean my fish bowl, an impulse which worried and bewildered my sister standing by. My mom told her not to worry because methodical cleaning is how I deal with stress. This is true, and routines of perfectionism and organization seem to help. Erin has this theory about how I get extra clean and orderly in phases as if to compensate for the times when I am an emotional mess. I think she's on to something, and I feel to develop this observation into an addition of my collection of Life Theories.  Perhaps The Tucking Theory. Hm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Things about my Life, Part 2

- My hair is an awesome mixture of hat hair and humidity poof. Guaranteed it's the most attractive I've ever looked, barring the Fanny costume, cause that was hot.

- I finally figured out all the freeway stuff. I'm an expert, and I haven't gotten lost in forever. Also, I figured out why I sucked at it so much. Back in Utah, you can always retrace your way back on the freeway cause you can see where you are going. Here, it is misty and full of foliage and you would never know that freeway was there unless you used Google maps, cause here in the south we just lose things in all the trees.

- I tasted Gumbo today. All southern like.

- Libby called me a whale today. All self esteem boosting like.

- After a while, you can't feel the 80% humidity. And sometimes, the poofy hair is absolutely a fair tradeoff for all the tree silhouettes out my window. Cause  even when it gets dark the air is white, and it is gorgeous. I miss  mountains, but I'll miss this just as much when I leave.

- I have been super clumsy lately, which is a problem at work, cause that gives Ana more material and she isn't shy about laughing in your face anyhow. I spilled soup yesterday and macaroni and cheese today. And I thought it was just physical, but apparently my brain is a little off too  cause Megan asked me today if the gumbo had dairy in it and I responded promptly, "Yeah, it's gluten free." And then I realized that was a really stupid non-answer. And then there was this awkward pause where Megan and Garret both debated about how to tell me I don't know what gluten is. I really do know, I just say stupid things.  Awesome.

- Ben and Erin and I have been watching Downton Abbey after the wee ones are asleep.  (Cause that's what I moved here for. So Erin and I could distract Ben from his Doctorate program. It's not like that's a big deal or anything.) Also, Maggie Smith is a champion.

- Sometimes, people make me angry.  "Indignation has been stirred!" And I want to write scathing emails but then I decide that such a response will only make me angrier. Aka I just got done talking about how I get into scrapes like L.M. Montgomery characters and I just know I would hit the send button. Some horrifying circumstance would occur if I let myself go to the angry place, right?  Of course right.

- Emma and Libby are so amusing I could die. 

- The other day, Libby used the word regurgitate. I have high, high hopes for the girl's vocabulary.

- I have a serious neurotic problem about the floor of my car. There are only so many times you can shuffle all the cars around to use the vacuum in the garage, but the carpet is driving me distracted. Erin thinks I'm a little weird about the cleanliness of my car, but it's better than the alternative, right? (Right?)

*This edition of Narcissism Celebrated brought to you by contributions from the Mark Trent Advising Firm. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Words to Live by

I am historically good at living by words. In fact, I live or die by them. They bring me certainty through concepts and configuration. Lit Analysis classes are sort of an adrenaline rush, because I get to analyze and pick out the meaning of innocent phrases and the subtle satire of an Irishman making fun of the old snobby Englishman *. Even our old roundabout  Lewis Carrol argument that "language is too unstable to mean anything. All it can do it be beautiful" doesn't carry much of a threat. Because sometimes all it needs to do is be beautiful, and it generally rises to the occasion if you know where to look. In honor of this gift of language, I am a fan of themes to live my life by. Although not always, there have been times when I was so posessed by a simple phrase that I chose to live and die by it on purpose to figure out wether it was just beautiful, or if it meant anything.

This happened last February when I was trying hard to decide about whether I should move across the country, and what on earth I would do there if I did. And I decided to, not exactly out of a desire to leave but more of some unmistakable voice telling me it was imperative that I muster the courage to pick up and get out. And somewhere around the time I made this decision and felt all decided and half terrified out of my wits, I stumbled upon this gem of wisdom and decided to take hold of it almost as a sign, certainly a confirmation, and most definitely something to be chanted in my brain ad nauseum in the coming months while I attempted to muster the courage.

From our good friend Tenessee Williams:

"There is a time for departure, even when there's no certain place to go."

I was talking with my sister tonight about all the plans and desires she had for me when I came to live here. She was saying that I kept changing my plans and giving her entirely different timelines, which is true. The only thing I was ever certain about was that I was coming. Everything else has been planned ten thousand times, and the reality didn't turn out to look anything like a single one of those plans and timelines I prattled on about. I have struggled with that. I generally thrive on frantic activity and sleep deprivation. I'm not happy without some deep struggle or project to master, and it has been rough on my already tender insecurities to be here working and not tackling a whole lot else besides playing hard with some really adorable people. But at the same time, I've never been able to regret or second guess the decision to come, and while I wasn't aware before that there were things that needed such deep fixing, the simple act of being here far away is fixing them as I go. I couldn't even articulate completely what the purpose is, but I am comforted by the fact that I made myself depart. And I know now that while I had such lofty original plans for a palace, it's alright that I've adjusted down, and even that I may not stay long. My palace turned into a nice cozy cottage, one I don't want to leave. As I said to Erin, "I'm sorry I didn't live your dream, but I lived mine!" Even if I was never sure what that would look like, it worked out somehow.

This cottage home of mine, it was never certain. I didn't know I would love it here. I knew I would love being part of a family, but I didn't know I would fall in love with my little green room, or the fog you find when you get off the freeway at New Hope Church Road, or the scrapes I get into in this foreign land of freeways that aren't I-15. I love Ayr Mount and the walk between work and Duke Chapel, and I have been given a few good friends. Work is sometimes difficult, but I have bosses who will hug me before I leave and friends who will laugh hard with me even when the catering client is rude and people I can sing with. I can look out the window on a foggy day like today and see the woods against the sky in my backyard. I never ever thought I would have any of this anywhere but home, and the fact that this feels like home too is a gift. The cottage home which is, I suppose, a downgrade from the lofty dreams of finishing college and finding a whole group of best friends here and having a North Carolina castle, is also an upgrade. I like my little niche in my cottage in the woods here. I am satisfied and that is certainty enough.

So this is a shout out to Tenessee Williams, for giving me the vocabulary to express why I had to come here. The point was not perhaps the palace, but having the faith that I could be happy in a cottage somewhere else.

"It was worth it to move to North Carolina just for that!"

* Everybody read Dracula. Jonathan Harker somehow doubles as a nice guy and a schmuck you just want to hit. In a subtle, charming, way, of course.

Your Face!

Today I was playing with Emma, aka Erin and I were on my bed with Emma in between us, alternating between merciless tickling and dancing. In a transition between the two, Little Lemonade happened to make a dive bomb straight for my face which resulted in a bruise on her head and some bleeding in my mouth where a tooth sliced its way into my lip pretty far. We've been having some fun with this. Like when we were at Chick-fil-a and Erin told me that my obviously fat lip was now a bruised and purple lip. I hadn't noticed, but that sounded intriguing, so I was trying really hard to look at my own lip, right? That resulted in some awesome facial expressions from both of us.

Altogether, it was an interesting day. But the crowning glory came at home when Emma glommed me til I picked her up, and then she said with such concern in her little bird voice, "Let me see it, Pillow."  So I stuck out my lip and she touched it and frowned a bit before asking (as if she wasn't present during this accident) "What happened, Pillow?"

Completely innocently, I replied "Your face happened, silly girl."
And then I thought about that for a second.  I just said "Your face happened!" And it was applicable. For reals.  The best possible reply in this instance, and I did it on accident.  Boom Roasted!

Emma didn't really get why I was laughing.

(That was okay, though. Cause then she looked at me with those big beautiful eyes and with the most adorable possible little voice she asked, "S' it okay?" Honestly. I'm totally the luckiest maiden aunt in history.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Scrape

Sometimes my life is boring, but today it took an upswing and landed somewhere between adventuresome and horrifying.

Backstory: You all know how I moved to North Carolina and suddenly couldn't turn my lights off or keep track of my keys? My merciful and loving Erin and Ben built me a car emergency kit for Christmas, which included a lot of good stuff but most importantly jumper cables and a hide a key thingy. So I moved it all in with Jed, drove around for a few days with the hide a key thingy to make sure it would stay there before I actually put my spare key in it, and felt better about my life in spite of my neurotic tendencies.

Actual Story: Meanwhile, back before Christmas, I was called to be a ward missionary. Fast forward a few weeks, and the missionaries ask me to come teach this investigator with them. So there I was tonight, parked by the address they gave me which happened to be a pole near the road surrounded by a few thousand apartment buildings. I call them to ask which one and where I'm supposed to be going, right?
Here's where we do the Slightly Applicable Anecdote:
 Elder Fowkes asks "Are you parked on the main road next to the girl with the grocery bags who is crossing the street?"
 Slightly Creepy. OK. "Yes"
"She's going the right direction. Follow her. We're in the car with the bike rack."
And now I feel like I'm in a spy movie and I'm dropping a ransom package in the darkness. This makes me feel uninhibited and conspiratorial, so fine, I'm just gonna say it.
"Slightly Creepy. See you there."
Awkward silence from Elder Fowkes.
"Kay, bye."
Following this odd conversation, I decided to pretend that never happened, and in a rush of sudden decision making), I acted the way I always do in rushes of sudden decision making. I got overconfident and did something stupid. I stood up fast and slammed my door shut, turned purposefully towards the correct apartment building and realized at that exact moment that my keys were in the ignition.

Now, I know none of you have heard the residents of North Carolina extoll the virtues of Durham. That could be partly because the majority of you lovely readers live in the Midwest or Alaska, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the residents of North Carolina would never extoll the virtues of Durham so much as they tell you in vehement tones to never go there after dark. I've been told not to bother even in daylight occasionally, but the notion most generally perpetuated is that if you go to Durham after dark you will  be shot or robbed. It is for this exact reason that when I realized I had just locked my keys in my car in plain sight in the ignition, I felt not panic but rather the urge to heave a sigh of resignation to my foolish tendencies. Because I knew, right then, that I couldn't leave my keys in plain sight in the ignition if I wanted to have a non stolen non smashed car. I knew that with the missionaries waiting for me, (and maybe watching, who knows really, cause they are omniscient like a narrator) I was going to get down in the road and fish out my hide a key thingy in the dark right then so as to not leave the keys in plain sight in the ignition in crime-ridden Durham.

So there I was, laying in the road in the dark cause my flashlight is locked in the car and I can't remember exactly how far under I stuck the hide a key thingy, really hoping the omniscient missionaries couldn't see me. And I unlocked the car and got my keys and realized that I couldn't now put the hide a key thingy back, cause we're in Durham and that in unthinkable, I guess. So I took it with me and I went and met the missionaries (from where they were standing, I was in plain sight, but if they saw my foolish unflattering laying in the road act, they didn't say anything. What gentlemen!). And we taught our investigator and it was awesome. And when we were done, we made plans to teach again on Saturday, and we shook hands and I proceeded to my car where I once again fiddled with the hide a key thingy putting it back securely.* All was well, and I drove home where I was greeted enthusiastically with cries of "Milla's home!" and "Pillow!"** Best day ever right?

Buuuut then I sat down and they all asked in horror, "What happened to your face? What's wrong with your nose?"  "I don't know, what happened to my face?" "Did someone punch you?"


I hurried to the bathroom to inspect, trailed closely by my seven year old shadow who told me I look funny right as I see that I have car grease all over my face. Somehow it is only on a few tips of my fingers, but is actually smeared on my nose in such a manner that resembles a sick nasty bruise. I went back to the kitchen and told the family what happenned and Erin made that horrified Erin face at me before exclaiming, "Oh, it's all over your face. It's on your forehead and your chin, oh!"

So here's the sixty four thousand dollar question. Did this happen after the first or second encounter with the underside of my car and the hide a key thingy? More importantly, did I have car grease on my face the whole time I was with these people? The fact that I have no idea is a little much. It's horrifying but also so hilarious I can't be sad that happened.

Also, while I was at the sink trying to wipe the stuff off my face, Erin eyed me fondly and said, "It's just like Anne when she dyes her nose red and has no idea, and it makes me like you better!"

I think it's quite the perk that such a thing makes me like Anne. I do get in to scrapes just as Anne and Emily, and if I can have that, I'll take the possibility that I just went and taught the gospel with grease on my whole face.  I'll take it.

* Hey internets, I realize now that I just told you all about this and my hide a key thingy is compromised. But none of you know where I live or where I park, and besides, you're nice people, right? I choose to feel okay about it.

** Emma calls me Pillow. For reals. All the time. It's the cutest freaking thing I've ever experienced.