Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grumpy Gratitude

I'm sick. And I'm sick of being sick. I've had the most awful cold for a whole week. Which has made me an emotional, grumpy mess. So in an effort to kick myself in the emotional butt, here are some things I'm grateful for. Some Sunday Friggin' Sunshine.

#1. Modern medicine. These lil pills are currently working through my system to defeat a sinus infection, strep throat, and/or swine flu. Whichever I end up having. (PS: All this freaking out about swine flu is hooey. Swine flu responds to antibiotics, and anyone who's dying of it, would die of ANY kind of flu. And it's a big deal in other countries because of a lack of adequate medical supplies. Thousands of people die of the flu in the U.S. every year. Everyone just wash your hands.)

#2. Friends. Nellie and I took a little road trip down to Utah this past weekend. I got to meet her "kids" and we had a blast hanging out with our friend Sarah and Cherie. And on our way home, we discovered that Flying J Truck Stops have top-notch chocolate chunk cookies.

#3. This picture. This makes me really happy. A fellow blogger and friend Ivor posted this on his blog recently and I thought it was fantastic. Our current world leaders. Regular ole people underneath it all.

#4. This person. I love this person. A whole lot. She's smart and funny and intelligent and one of the most aware and caring people I have ever known. I love talking to her, whether to tell/hear funny stories or to talk about serious things of the heart. And I get to see her in a week and a half! I'm so excited!

#5. Romantic movies. I'm such a sucker for a GOOD, REAL romantic movie. I watched this one today because I was feeling sick and consequently blue and in need of a good cry. This was a good catalyst. In a good way. Love it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Sunshine

Stole the whole "Sunday Sunshine" post from this lovely lady -- I hope she doesn't mind. I simply had to share's been on my fridge for about a week, and I love it, and Sunday seemed like a good day to share it. I'm so excited to have kids. After my 10-year-old's guitar lesson last Saturday, her sisters ran up to me with these and explained to me what they were. I love how EVERYTHING has a waterfall. Here you go:


Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed." --Oliver Wendell Holmes

Know where I am right now? Work. Rigby 180.

Know what I'm doing right now? Losing my mind.

The no-homework, no-music, no-cell phone policy at work is driving me bananas. (There's technically a no-blogging policy too, actually...)

The no-homework thing is only occasionally stressful, and the no-cell phone policy liveable. What's driving me truly bonkers is the NO MUSIC policy. It's too ridiculously silent around here. And if all I'm doing is typing up student-written surveys? I'll be in a straight-jacket by the end of this semester for sure.

As much as I feel guilty and disloyal for quitting this job, I don't know if I would like to work here again this fall. I don't absolutely need the money, and this is no way to lose one's mind.

Oh, and speaking of losing one's mind, Sunday was the first day all semester that felt like SUMMER. Not spring even, summer. (Although I don't know exactly why I was so impatient for it, it's only mid-May.) But ever since then, all I can think about is snow cones. The snow cone shack(s) opened a few weeks ago, and I've been struck by a mild craving a few times since they opened their windows. But since Sunday, I am in the mood for a snow cone just about every second of every day. Tomorrow's payday, and know where the first $1.50 of a paycheck is going?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Shhh...don't tell them I'm blogging at work...

So I have a terrifying feeling that I don't really like this job. Which is crazy, I know. Student secretary = awesome. English department = awesome. But I dunno. I feel like I don't really belong here. Maybe it's because this department has a faculty of around 80, as opposed to the 15 I worked with in the theatre department. And I know the theatre department inside and out. The English department? I don't even know our office hours yet. It could also be because I just started. Maybe as I become less clueless and figure out how things work around here that will fade. We'll see. If it turns out to be the round hole for this square peg, then at the very least, it will be a decent job until something else opens in the Theatre Dept. again. I'm also listening to music right now, and am tempted to finish the reading I need to do for my class in 3 hours, but I'm already breaking all sorts of rules and don't want to push my luck. Even though I'm the only one here.

BUT, ps, I probably won't HAVE to work next year at all if I don't want to! I just got my financial aid statement for the coming year, and I love President Obama, the American tax-payers, and just about anyone else who decided that once you're 24, you're eligible for, oh, a little over $5,000 in GRANTS. Not to mention to additional $7500 in loans, if I need it. So I might work, just to keep on top of things, save up for the summer, etc. But I'm limiting myself to no more than about 12 hours a week. Any more and I do poorly in both school and work.

I'm enjoying school so far. The workload is a fairly light one, and I'm digging my classes. Although Monday I was hit by an acute case of Sudden Onset Spring Fever Syndrome, and could hardly sit still. Nothing, from diagramming sentences to world dance, could keep my thoughts from wandering to the great outdoors. So I played hooky for the first time in a looonnnggg time, grabbed some tunes, and took the motorcycle out for a ride in the country. It was great. And much colder than I anticipated. I rode only about 1/2 hour, until the wind chill factor got the better of me, and I came home, ran a hot bath, and read "The Whistling Toilets" for hours.

And how about Star Trek coming out this weekend!? I'm pretty stoked about that. Although I've got a bit of a dilemma surrounding my attending it. I made loose, possible plans to go see it with a friend/his friends before I found out that another friend is coming up from Utah this weekend to visit and see Star Trek with me/my friends. Well, I'd hate for someone to come up from Utah to see Star Trek with me on Friday, when I've already seen it on Thursday. So I thought about telling the friend here that we should ALL go on Friday, but then he sent me a message saying "Come with me." Not "come with US." Come with ME. Which I think implies a date, which is great, and I'd really love to go. So if he's asking me out, I don't want to say "No, actually, let's go on Friday with this other guy who's coming up from Utah and all of my friends." But on the other hand, I still don't want to see it without this friend who's coming up to visit. So I invited the guy here to come with everyone this weekend, and then told him that he and I need to watch "Trekkies" together sometime soon. Fairly diplomatic, I think/hope, and I think/hope it leaves all my doors open. Closing doors is one of the lamest aspects of life, I think.

I've been typing up student surveys about the MesoAmerica Tour at work for the last few days, which has two effects on me. #1) It makes me want to go on the MesoAmerica Tour. #2) It makes me despair for the grammatical future of our language. I don't understand how these kids are in college. I'm talking PUNCTUATION problems. I'm talking sentences like "A lot of funner." A whole sentence. What the hell does that even mean? There are all sorts of things wrong with that. I realize that everyone makes mistakes every now and then, but CLEARLY people seem to have forgotten the art of PROOF-READING. Even just proof-reading AS they write. Hmph. Makes me grumpy. The written word is the only specific and lasting form of communication human beings have. There is a stewardship over written language that too many people disregard. And I am far from perfect. There are all sorts of grammatical things wrong with this entry of mine alone. But "A lot of funner"? That's how people talk when they're just starting to learn language. Like, when they're three. Grumble grumble grumble.

I'm also getting irrationally irritated with people who say they didn't like a hotel or bus ride because there wasn't air conditioning. Seriously? You're in a third-world country! Or a second-world country (funny how we don't seem to use that phrase as often). In some of the places you're visiting, people don't have FLOORS. People are living in "homes" made of tin siding. And you're complaining about not having air conditioning? I know it's hot, but it's part of the experience. It's selfish and closed-minded to apply your standards of luxury to someone else's standards of every day living. A/C is not a human right. It is a luxury.

Finally, a poem that I didn't write and that I really dig:

How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don't even notice,
close this manual.

You can now read poetry.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." --Christina Baldwin

Hey everyone! I was a little reluctant to post this, because of it's level of...I don't know, "special-ness," but motivated by our recent discussions of Romanticism vs. Realism in my literature class, and the realization that maybe I'm not the only one who needs it, I decided to share it. It's based off of a real experience, but literary liberties have been taken, including the changing of names. I'm not sure about a few details, and will probably edit a bit more before filing this away (especially the ending, and the title--I feel iffy about those), so I'd love any feedback you all have. For those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hope I've written this in such a way that you can still find a message and meaning. If I haven't, let me know if it's possible to do so.

A dedication

I was helping the Wrights paint their kitchen. What had started as a “new handles for the kitchen drawers” project had turned into a “new wall-paper and paint everything” project. It was after 11 at night, and Sandra and I were the only ones with enough energy left to finish the cupboards. I was standing in front of the counter, paintbrush in hand, while Sandra finished taping off the new handles. Everyone else had gone to bed.
I sighed. “For being so darned optimistic all the time, you’d think Emily would have thought about the time this project would take.”
Sandra laughed. “That’s Emily for you,” she said.
“I know,” I replied. I filled a Tupperware container with light green paint. “I worry about her sometimes.”
I hesitated. I had said that without thinking much about it, but now that I had brought it up, I had to follow through. I don’t know why. The Wrights were too good to me for me to be dishonest with them. “Because…” I said. “Because sometimes, she seems to think the world is…made of sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. And it’s not. I’m…I’m afraid for her sometimes. Because the real world isn’t like that, and someday she’s going to have to really go out in it, and it…she’s going to get hurt.” I pressed the lid of the paint can back into place. Sandra was quietly pulling a piece of masking tape from the roll. I climbed onto the counter. “I mean, I love Emily. I really do. But…she drives me crazy sometimes. Life isn’t sunshine and rainbows and butterflies.” I adjusted some of the tape around one of the handles. “But maybe I’m just…a cynic.”
Sandra climbed onto a footstool. “Do you know about Emily?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“About her story? About who she is?”
“No,” I replied. I hadn’t been aware that there was a story.
Sandra smiled and reached down to pick up a second roll of masking tape. “Emily was supposed to be a boy,” she said.
I smiled. “Supposed to be?” I said. “Or they thought she was one?”
“Supposed to be,” Sandra replied. She pulled a length of tape from the roll and lined one of the cupboard handles with it. “Well, and they thought she was, too. Our mom had a dream about it. They actually weren’t even going to have any more kids, but she dreamt one night about Adam.”
I dipped my brush in the Tupperware container of paint by my knee, and started making wide strokes along the cupboard. “Who was Adam?” I asked.
“Adam was going to be the last child my parents had,” Sandra continued. “Mom knew he was a very special spirit, who was going to complete and strengthen our family.”
She was starting to sound a little like a New Era article, which I was afraid would happen. Or like one of those awful Christian chain e-mail stories that people forward to everyone in their contacts list. Maybe Emily’s optimism was genetic somehow. But I decided not to push it.
“They thought my sister was a boy for months, too,” I said, jumping off the counter to get a different brush.
Sandra smiled. “Yep, that was Emily. But in our mom’s third trimester, she went for an ultrasound and they told her they had made a mistake, and that she was going to have a girl. Mom told them to check again, and even went back a week later, but they told her that she had better think of a girl name fast, because that’s what was on the way.”
I hopped back on the counter. “Wow. I’m sure that was a surprise,” I said. Sandra picked up a brush and dipped it in my paint.
“Yeah, it was,” Sandra said. “Mom was pretty upset, actually.” She reached up to paint the cupboard next to me. “Really upset. She couldn’t figure out why Heavenly Father would give us Adam and then take him away again. She prayed and prayed, asking about Adam and why he wasn’t going to be a part of our family.” Sandra dipped her brush in the paint again, and slowly scraped the extra paint off on the sides of the Tupperware.
“Finally, she asked our dad for a blessing,” Sandra said. “She was so confused and couldn’t figure out what Heavenly Father wanted for her and the family. So Dad gave her a blessing.”
Sandra smiled to herself. I stopped painting and watched her face. “In the blessing,” Sandra said quietly, “Heavenly Father told her that he had sent Adam to a different family, one that needed him more. And because we didn’t get Adam, He was sending us a special gift, one of his very choicest spirits…one of his very most valiant and special daughters. And that was Emily.” Sandra looked up at me.
“That’s Emily?” I asked.
Sandra smiled again and made a wide stroke of paint on the cupboard above her. “That’s Emily,” she replied. She took three steps back.
“The kitchen looks much better,” she said thoughtfully. “Green was a good choice.”