Thursday, July 30, 2009

Airport Observations

Every time I go to the airport, I want to blog about all the amazing observations. After all, between two 3-hour flights and a 3-hour layover, you are bound to see some things that you like, i.e. gorgeous black men; and things that you do not like, i.e. lots of saggy breasts. I will explain...

There was nothing too interesting to report the first day I spent at the airport. Flying stand-by is always a risk - and this time I was not too lucky. I couldn't focus on entertaining myself, because I was too busy trying to figure out if I had a way to get home or not. Or at least to Atlanta. That was a no go. --- How could I have forgotten? When I approached the lady at the ticket counter to see if she could direct me at one point, I watched as she clicked away at her keyboard and then looked up at the tall, intimidating blond in front of her and said, "Could you back up about four steps? I can feel your energy in my space." I'm pretty sure I looked at her in shock and amusement. Who says that? She proceeded to ignore me, and did not seem to want to help me at all. ---

Today - I knew that I had a confirmed ticket. I knew where I stood with relation to time and place and everything went very smoothly. I watched the ticket agent at the gate patiently walk people over to the screens so they could see where there connections were. She didn't make the passengers come to her - she went to them in order to help out. I was very impressed. I wanted to give her a gold star.*

*Wouldn't it be great if I carried around gold stars and awarded people with them whenever I was super impressed with the way they handle a situation or treat a customer? I am not always able to show my thanks to that individual because they aren't helping me directly - and honestly, they might think that I was weird observing them and then commenting on it. BUT, if I were to hand out gold stars...

While waiting to board the plane, I notice a fairly attractive man-boy standing nearby. He happened to have his boarding pass out and he obviously wanted me to see where he was sitting - and - he obviously wanted me to see that he was sitting right next to me! I was mortified and excited all at once. He was cute... but it would be difficult to stare with him sitting so close...

That didn't matter - he started talking to me. I felt like Cady in Mean Girls when she is documenting every conversation she had with Aaron Samuels - "On October 13, he asked to borrow a pencil..." Anyway, I was cataloguing what he was saying. "There's a dog on the flight..." He mentioned with enthusiasm. "You're a pro at this, you read right through the take-off," he said with awe. I tried to come up with witty responses - they never lasted long. However, I did manage to talk enough to learn that he lives in Atlanta where he is about to begin his first year of nursing in order to become an anesthesiologist. He drinks rum and cranapple juice (To which I wanted to say, "I thought only pirates drank rum?" But didn't.) And his brother is getting ready to serve a mission in Nicaragua.

When I landed in Houston, I noticed that women in the Houston airport do not need to wear bras. Nor do they feel the need to cover their extremely saggy breasts. Yes, it is as disgusting as you just imagined. I needn't say more.

Houston airport also serves as a transit place for a lot of really, really good looking men. Of all colors, shapes and sizes. I am OK with this, as I was just looking anyway. When sitting on the sky tram, I was able to observe a whole basketball team (one guy said "Hi," and I took that as my cue to make sure they were basketball players...) and a hot Indian guy (you didn't think they existed, did you? They do) and a man that nearly made me swoon. I only smiled at him - but I was seriously contemplating just letting him know how beautiful he was. I would have given him ALL my gold stars - just for smiling back. Too bad he needed to get off at terminal C.

The sky tram is a great place for people watching. And so watch I did. The sky tram is also very punctual. It takes exactly 7:42:89 minutes to get from terminal B to C to D, E and then back again. Even when it claims that it is being delayed, it does not change times. Which means, my friends, that there is a standard deviation of 0 when it comes to the mean run time of the sky tram. The tram is also a lot more rickety and ghetto than it was when Amy and I rode on it so many years ago. I was grateful that no one else thought to ride the sky tram for longer than they needed to, because I felt like Luna Lovegood (see Harry Potter) staring with a half-smile on my face, content in my odd behavior. The whole time I was biting my tongue because I wanted to ask everyone where they were going or where they had just been.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swimming at the Rec Center

My grandma and her two sisters go swimming at their local rec center 3x a week in order to stay healthy as they age. And every so often, I get the chance to tag along.

It seems that whenever I go, the trio of ladies have become more celebrity-like at their gym - everyone knows who they are, everyone expects them to come. When we enter, good mornings are given and the temperature of the day, locker room and pool water are all discussed. They talk about different quilting projects and their gardens and of course, their health. It hardly ever passes anyone's notice that they have brought a younger version of themselves with them, and so naturally I am introduced, or re-introduced as the case sometimes goes.

We do 12 laps. All in one lane. In a single file line, that often gets bent and twirled around as we each start gabbing. Grandma wears the float-belt, and Barb and Jo both use their noodles. We argue with Lee about whether or not we are on the 5th lap, or the 9th...because it seems that we can never keep track. And we make sure to let 0ther ladies have the lane next to us - because no one wants to get stuck next to Tsunami. Tsunami is an older gentleman that is, for the most part, very fit. He also splashes and causes waves throughout the whole pool as he does his butterfly stroke (or whatever it is) and getting stuck next to him could mean your life.

When we have finished the 12 laps, we make our way over to the shallow end so that Barb and Jo can continue to float on their noodles and Grandma and I do other mini-aerobics in the water. Lee will join us for a second to tell a joke. (This is a fairly new development, though enjoyable...) And then we make our way to either the sauna or the showers and to change.

The thing I like best about my grandma and her sisters is that they are NOT like other older women that come to the gym and are basically exhibitionists. The trio keeps their nakedness to themselves! That isn't to say there aren't other ladies in the locker room that do... So I'm just glad that my relatives are willing to use the dressing rooms.

And then we're done. The four of us walk out meeting Jo's husband Bernell, and my grandma promises they will be back in a day or so...and then we all go home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

When wronged...

I've always liked to think of myself as someone who forgives and forgets. People that hold grudges have always seemed silly to me and the fact that people aren't able to move on - ridiculous.

But as I think about times in the past when people have wronged me, sometimes I can't quite distinguish whether or not I am just remembering past pains and experiences - or if I am really not quite over what has happened.

I was talking with Ashley about a certain past co-worker and I realized that even though it has been nearly 2 years since I've last seen her (not counting the time I passed her on the highway) I still think that she is one of the most immature, manipulative, vindictive, selfish, unprofessional, snobs I've ever met. Even previous good memories are washed out with the fact that this girl has way too much control for her own good - and she knows it and uses it to her advantage.

She deserves to be bi-slapped. She deserves to be thrown out on her hind-end and forced to work for a living instead of trying to run the personnel of her daddy's company. She deserves a good licking on the seat of her pants and probably a slap in the face.

The fact that she is still comfortably sitting at her father's company while others are unemployed is inconceivable. The fact that she is trying to get fired one of the most dedicated, efficient assets to the company is ridiculous.

Although I have tried to think of only good experiences with this particular individual, it is getting harder and harder to do so. I have to acknowledge that I was an idiot when I befriended her. A moron when I spent time outside of work with her. And an absolute retard for ever spending money to go on a trip with her (even if I did get some rockin' pictures from the trip...).

As much as I have tried to let her go, I can't help but think about how wronged I was when I was let go from the company - a fact that even my former boss still finds unfair. I find myself hating her more now than I did in October 2007.

And that isn't how forgiveness is supposed to work.

So, even though I have often prided myself on being someone who does not hold a grudge - pause for Amy and Mom to scoff - I realize that I do in fact hold grudges. I have a long memory for people who have truly hurt and/or wronged me. And I need to work on it and let God take care of the justice. Which is, I think, inevitably what I am waiting for. Where is the justice in getting fired when the girl who got you fired is still working her magic on daddy?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mommy Sense

A month or so ago, my mom and sister came to visit and stayed in my room. I loved having them here, of course, but Amy left the remnants - and when I say remnants, I mean the whole thing set up and ready for use - of a "Play'n'Go" or a play pen for a baby.

They had borrowed it from my aunt and uncle in Idaho for Kelsie, and of course, I am the one who is responsible for getting it back to them. However, leaving it fully operational left me in quite a bind. I have never been able to figure out, without difficulty, the safety snaps, car seats, strollers, high chairs and play pens that are necessary to keep a baby restrained.

I'm convinced that along with lactating and a mother's intuition, also comes the ability to figure out all of those things.

Since I have never had a baby - I am still clueless.

The play pen is now sitting in the corner, happily put away in its little covering, but really...I won't admit how long it took me for it to get that way. The only thing I will say, is that I didn't say any swear words in trying to get it there - almost, but not quite. Amy made fun of me while she was here (or maybe the last time I was in Ohio) because I couldn't figure our the car seat or the stroller or something... but really, I am convinced that I may never figure out how to do it. Especially if I don't ever become a mother...then again, I won't really have a lot of use for knowing how... until Amy comes and visits again. But I think I will insist on her taking it down herself.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pioneer Day down the River of Love

I remember in school complaining when all the Catholics got to go to Ash Wednesday Mass and the Jewish kids got to leave school for their holidays, that Mormons should have holidays. My mom would make a vague reference to Pioneer day. I never considered it a real holiday because I didn't get out of school for it - and of course, the fact that no other Mormon I knew celebrated it. I think I got off work for Pioneer day last year, and that was cool. But this was the first year that I actually commemorated the Pioneer struggle...

The day started late - as most days often do lately - with Becca telling me that we were going to float down the Provo river, and I had three hours to mentally prepare for the adventure.

Now, I have only heard horror stories of floating down the Provo river. And despite the fact that the river is, at most, a stream in most places - I know two things about the river.
  1. The river is pretty, and always seems to be running fairly fast.
  2. The river is comprised of snow melt. Snow melt, glacial run-off = COLD WATER
Freezing water and a fast current = death trap. Especially for me. I've never been a particularly good swimmer (I don't think I ever passed a swim class...) and I'm not exactly in-shape. So, if something were to happen, I knew I would die. Take comfort, dear reader, despite the events that I am going to describe in the coming paragraphs, I did not die...I am alive and well to record the events.

Anyway, despite Becca's best efforts to plan and organize the event, everything was not running smoothly. The tubes blew off of Becca's car at the mouth of the canyon, there was a slight scare when Becca's car got backed into... there was a lot of waiting to try and get everyone together. DeeAura and I were terrified, and not particularly excited about the upcoming threat to our otherwise peaceful lives...

Entering the water was not so much shocking as it was expected. It. Was. Freezing. And while most people assume that sitting in a tube and letting the current carry you down to your desired location is fairly brainless, it didn't take long for things to go awry. DeeAura was almost immediately left behind. Nate, in trying to slow down and wait for us, popped his tube. I floated helplessly down the river, eventually acclimating to the freezing water to the point where I couldn't feel anything (except my hands) and caught up with Becca. We tried to wait to see what DeeAura and Nate were going to do, but they never seemed to appear and so we floated. And floated. And it was almost enjoyable - if I weren't so scared of dying and now facing the risk of also popping my tube and Becca still feeling the events of the previous hang-ups (no one could blame her... thinking for an entire group is entirely stressful).

When you are freezing, any small bump or crash is going to sting a bit. So when the river got shallower, and I didn't immediately pull myself up, my bum found a rather sharp rock and nearly took off half my cheek (yes, descriptive...sorry about that). I have a HUGE bruise and goose egg - if you can call it a goose egg when it is in that particular location - now. It hurts nearly every time I forget about it and sit down.

Finally, Becca and I decided that we would wait to see if Nate and DeeAura had continued the trek. We wondered if Nate ended up latching on to DeeAura's tube. Remembering the parts of the river that were shallow, I hoped he had not. Although, I couldn't help but wonder if the next Omni love match was in the making. Sharing a tube is quite a cozy position, and two people could certainly get to know each other really well, floating down the Provo river... How romantic!

Only, stopping to wait is not as easy as all of that. Remember, the river is coming from the mountains, meaning that it is dropping elevation at a fair rate, and in some parts narrower - which all increases the speed of the current and causes rapids, etc. So when I went to stand up in the middle of the river, and didn't grab onto my tube...well, let's just say I wished my tube a farewell and best of luck on its journey down the river and climbed, uneasily to the bank. When your limbs are recovering from all your blood going to protect your insides, it is mighty difficult to clamor to the bank. Not 10 minutes later, DeeAura joined us.

Of course, now I was tubeless. So I had set to walk down to the meeting place downriver. DeeAura joined me, and within 10 minutes, we came across some ruffians who were in fact, holding my tube hostage. After identifying the tube, I wrestled one of the fishermen, and retrieved my tube. DeeAura and I debated, and decided that we would not yet venture back into the freezing water - we were enjoying being warmed by the summer sun. We came across Nate not a few minutes later and continued walking down the railroad tracks.

It was at this point, DeeAura and Nate were able to dissuade me of all possibilities that a baby would be joining us in 9 months, despite the fact that they had indeed shared a tube for most of the journey before Nate decided to bail ship - as a particularly scary part of the river was coming up.
It was getting to that point - so I made him get off the tube. - DeeAura
While walking amongst the overgrown railroad tracks, among all the horse crap, we discovered that while this day had not gone exactly as planned - it was totally appropriate for Pioneer day, and remembering the men and women of the LDS church who were forced out of their lovely homes in Nauvoo and sent across the harsh and dangerous plains to Salt Lake City, Utah. We were having our struggles, too, that day. And we were grateful for the memories putting us in our place.

When Nate expressed sentiments along the lines of "you are slowing me down, and wasting a perfectly good trip down the river," DeeAura and I decided to get back in the water. We enjoyed the remainder of the trip, until we found Nate again - jumping from a rock into a deeper part of the river. He told us to stop, and not wanting to lose my tube again, I was reluctant to try again. However, try I did...and I only showed that I am no match for the Provo river. The rocks on the river are not particularly smooth, and my bloodied knees were evidence of that. DeeAura and I stood precariously in the middle of the river, unable to move against the current, and worried to keep going...

Eventually we just got back on our tubes and kept going down the river until we saw another member of our group. Realizing that if we didn't get out now, we would end up over the dam that we had seen on our way into the canyon (and consequently dead...and/or charged with a $50 fee for not wearing a life jacket) we again tried to stop. DeeAura ended up being pulled under the water, and I truly feared for her life. I, on the other hand, made my way to the edge, grabbed hold of a rock and pulled my way to the bank. It was all very well done of us (not) and graceful (doubly, not) but we didn't die.

I was quite proud. And ready to do it all again, now that I got the gist of it. Nevermind the fact that I am quite bruised from my elbows to my feet (my left foot is particularly bruised from something...)

When we finally got home, there was no rest for the weary... Becca and I were headed over to Nate and Jake's and then to the fireworks in Spanish Fork. These fireworks were particularly good - with a new type of firework I'd never seen that nearly blinded you and sounded as though someone next to you had been shot. They set off quite a few, and got us each time. DeeAura and my best friend, Alaina joined us - prepared, with a blanket.

Afterwards, the four of us (Becca, Nate, Jake and myself) headed to IHOP. Where we all couldn't help but notice that we might be a little more bold with our language and a little less naive than we all used to be. We wondered if it were to be blamed on the fact that we brought the worst out in each other. Or the fact that we were all aging, and yet still unmarried.
Must have something to do with the fact that I'm twenty-five and still a virgin! - Becca, practically yelling throughout the restaurant (it needn't be said that we were all speechless with laughter at this point).
The night ended - and I couldn't help but think that this had been by far the best Pioneer day I've ever spent in Utah.

But mostly because I didn't die. And it would have been so much better to hear that DeeAura and Nate hooked up...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

COULD YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT MONEY? MEET THE GUY WHO DOES

In Utah, a modern-day caveman has lived for the better part of a decade on zero dollars a day. People used to think he was crazy (I still do...think he's crazy even if I am thoroughly impressed.)

By Christopher Ketcham; Photograph by Mark Heithoff

DANIEL SUELO LIVES IN A CAVE. UNLIKE THE average American—wallowing in credit-card debt, clinging to a mortgage, terrified of the next downsizing at the office—he isn't worried about the economic crisis. That's because he figured out that the best way to stay solvent is to never be solvent in the first place. Nine years ago, in the autumn of 2000, Suelo decided to stop using money. He just quit it, like a bad drug habit.

His dwelling, hidden high in a canyon lined with waterfalls, is an hour by foot from the desert town of Moab, Utah, where people who know him are of two minds: He's either a latter-day prophet or an irredeemable hobo. Suelo's blog, which he maintains free at the Moab Public Library, suggests that he's both. "When I lived with money, I was always lacking," he writes. "Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present."

On a warm day in early spring, I clamber along a set of red-rock cliffs to the mouth of his cave, where I find a note signed with a smiley face: CHRIS, FEEL FREE TO USE ANYTHING, EAT ANYTHING (NOTHING HERE IS MINE). From the outside, the place looks like a hollowed teardrop, about the size of an Amtrak bathroom, with enough space for a few pots that hang from the ceiling, a stove under a stone eave, big buckets full of beans and rice, a bed of blankets in the dirt, and not much else. Suelo's been here for three years, and it smells like it.

Night falls, the stars wink, and after an hour, Suelo tramps up the cliff, mimicking a raven's call—his salutation—a guttural, high-pitched caw. He's lanky and tan; yesterday he rebuilt the entrance to his cave, hauling huge rocks to make a staircase. His hands are black with dirt, and his hair, which is going gray, looks like a bird's nest, full of dust and twigs from scrambling in the underbrush on the canyon floor. Grinning, he presents the booty from one of his weekly rituals, scavenging on the streets of Moab: a wool hat and gloves, a winter jacket, and a white nylon belt, still wrapped in plastic, along with Carhartt pants and sandals, which he's wearing. He's also scrounged cans of tuna and turkey Spam and a honeycomb candle. All in all, a nice haul from the waste product of America. "You made it," he says. I hand him a bag of apples and a block of cheese I bought at the supermarket, but the gift suddenly seems meager.

Suelo lights the candle and stokes a fire in the stove, which is an old blackened tin, the kind that Christmas cookies might come in. It's hooked to a chain of soup cans segmented like a caterpillar and fitted to a hole in the rock. Soon smoke billows into the night and the cave is warm. I think of how John the Baptist survived on honey and locusts in the desert. Suelo, who keeps a copy of the Bible for bedtime reading, is satisfied with a few grasshoppers fried in his skillet.


HE WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY. SUELO graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in anthropology, he thought about becoming a doctor, he held jobs, he had cash and a bank account. In 1987, after several years as an assistant lab technician in Colorado hospitals, he joined the Peace Corps and was posted to an Ecuadoran village high in the Andes. He was charged with monitoring the health of tribespeople in the area, teaching first aid and nutrition, and handing out medicine where needed; his proudest achievement was delivering three babies. The tribe had been getting richer for a decade, and during the two years he was there he watched as the villagers began to adopt the economics of modernity. They sold the food from their fields—quinoa, potatoes, corn, lentils—for cash, which they used to purchase things they didn't need, as Suelo describes it. They bought soda and white flour and refined sugar and noodles and big bags of MSG to flavor the starchy meals. They bought TVs. The more they spent, says Suelo, the more their health declined. He could measure the deterioration on his charts. "It looked," he says, "like money was impoverishing them."

The experience was transformative, but Suelo needed another decade to fashion his response. He moved to Moab and worked at a women's shelter for five years. He wanted to help people, but getting paid for it seemed dishonest—how real was help that demanded recompense? The answer lay, in part, in the Christianity of his childhood. In Suelo's nascent philosophy, following Jesus meant adopting the hard life prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount. "Giving up possessions, living beyond credit and debt," Suelo explains on his blog, "freely giving and freely taking, forgiving all debts, owing nobody a thing, living and walking without guilt . . . grudge [or] judgment." If grace was the goal, Suelo told himself, then it had to be grace in the classical sense, from the Latin gratia, meaning favor—and also, free.

By 1999, he was living in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand—he had saved just enough money for the flight. From there, he made his way to India, where he found himself in good company among the sadhus, the revered ascetics who go penniless for their gods. Numbering as many as 5 million, the sadhus can be found wandering roads and forests across the subcontinent, seeking enlightenment in self-abnegation. "I wanted to be a sadhu," Suelo says. "But what good would it do for me to be a sadhu in India? A true test of faith would be to return to one of the most materialistic, money-worshipping nations on earth and be a sadhu there. To be a vagabond in America, a bum, and make an art of it—the idea enchanted me."

THERE ISN'T ENOUGH SPACE IN SUELO'S cave for two, so I sleep in the open, at the edge of a hundred-foot cliff. No worries about animals, he says. Though mountain lions drink from the stream, and bobcats hunt rabbits under the cottonwoods, the worst he's experienced was a skunk that sprayed him in the face. Mice scurry over his body in the cave, and kissing bugs sometimes suck the blood from under his fingernails while he sleeps. He shrugs off these indignities. "After all, it's their cave too," he says. I hunker down near a nest of scorpions, which crawl up the canyon walls, ignoring me.

The morning ritual is simple and slow: a cup of sharp tea brewed from the needles of piñon and juniper trees, a swim in the cold emerald water where the creek pools in the red rock. Then, two naked cavemen lounging under the Utah sun. Around noon, we forage along the banks and under the cliffs, looking for the stuff of a stir-fry dinner. We find mustard plants among the rocks, the raw leaves as satisfying as cauliflower, and down in the cool of the creek—where Suelo gets his water and takes his baths (no soap for him) —we cull watercress in heads as big as supermarket lettuce, and on the bank we spot a lode of wild onions, with bulbs that pop clean from the soil. In leaner times, Suelo's gatherings include ants, grubs, termites, lizards, and roadkill. He recently found a deer, freshly run over, and carved it up and boiled it. "The best venison of my life," he says.

I tell him that living without money seems difficult. What about starvation? He's never gone without a meal (friends in Moab sometimes feed him). What about getting deadly ill? It happened once, after eating a cactus he misidentified—he vomited, fell into a delirium, thought he was dying, even wrote a note for those who would find his corpse. But he got better. That it's hard is exactly the point, he says. "Hardship is a good thing. We need the challenge. Our bodies need it. Our immune systems need it. My hardships are simple, right at hand—they're manageable." When I tell him about my rent back in New York—$2,400 a month—he shakes his head. What's left unsaid is that I'm here writing about him to make money, for a magazine that depends for its survival on the advertising revenue of conspicuous consumption. As he prepares a cooking fire, Suelo tells me that years ago he had a neighbor in the canyon, an alcoholic who lived in a cave bigger than his. The old man would pan for gold in the stream and net enough cash each month to buy the beer that kept him drunk. Suelo considers the riches of our own forage. "What if we saw gold for what it is?" he says meditatively. "Gold is pretty but virtually useless. Somebody decided it has worth, and everybody accepted this decision. The natives in the Americas thought Europeans were insane because of their lust for such a useless yellow substance."

He sautés the watercress, mustard leaves, and wild onions, mixing in fresh almonds he picked from a friend's orchard and ghee made from Dumpster-dived butter, and we eat out of his soot-caked pans. From the perch on the cliff, the life of the sadhu seems reasonable. But I don't want to live in a cave. I like indoor plumbing (Suelo squats). I like electricity. Still, there's an obvious beauty in the simplicity of subsistence. It's an un-American notion these days. We don't revere our ascetics, and we dismiss the idea that money could be some kind of consensual delusion. For most of us, it's as real as the next house payment. Suelo doesn't take public assistance or use food stamps, but he does survive in part on our reality, the discarded surfeit of the money system that he denounces—a system, as it happens, that recently looked like it was headed for the cliff.

Suelo is 48, and he doesn't exactly have a 401(k). "I'll do what creatures have been doing for millions of years for retirement," he says. "Why is it sad that I die in the canyon and not in the geriatric ward well-insured? I have great faith in the power of natural selection. And one day, I will be selected out." Until then, think of him like the raven, cleaning up the carcasses the rest of us leave behind.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Updated

Hi friends -

For those of you who read this on Google reader or some other feed, I have updated my blog's look...and I think you should check it out.

While the background may change regularly, I haven't changed the header picture since I started the blog. I added a few other gadgets, etc.

And so this isn't a completely boring post:

I found this incredibly fun website that does Victorian clip art. On a few posts, they have ideas for some really cute and creative crafts - one day, when I am crafty, I will take some of these up. They look so cute! So if you are feeling crafty, look here. And then call me - we'll make some cute stuff.


Surveys are my favorite...

1. First thing you wash in the shower? Sometimes my hair, sometimes I grab the bar of soap, sometimes my face... it really all depends

2. What color is your favorite hoodie? teal

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? He's married now, so probably not.

4. Do you plan outfits? I grab the first complete outfit I can find.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? very unmotivated, and a little disgusted

6. What’s the closest thing to you that's red? My cellphone

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having? My dreams should really not be posted on the internet sometimes...they are so weird! And always involve random people. The last dream I had, though, involved me getting married civilly and then lying about it for a whole year because my husband and I didn't want to tell anyone that we weren't married in the temple. So I had to come up with elaborate schemes to keep my parents and friends from knowing that I was living with my now-husband. In the end, we realized that we weren't worthy to go through the temple, because of all our lies.

8. Did you meet anybody new today? That requires leaving your room/house. So, no.

9. What are you craving right now? Thai. And a shower.

10. Do you floss daily? Ugh. I am so bad about this. I floss maybe 4x a week.

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage? It might have been something different, like German food - only DeeAura put "coleslaw". Which set me in mind for coleslaw.

12. Are you emotional? Not as bad as I used to be, but yes... (Can I just record the fact that I remember the first time I cried while watching TV? It was Full House, I was 4 or 5. Uncle Jesse was leaving and Michelle gave him a framed pink bunny from the room he stayed in... it was so sad! I've been emotional ever since.)

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000? I highly doubt I have every been so ambitious.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? I like to lick the ice cream...mmmm, ice cream!

15. Do you like your hair? It looks wretched at the moment, but yes, I suppose I like it well enough.

16. Do you like yourself? I am AWESOME!

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush? "Is he paying?" asks DeeAura. And if the answer is "yes" then certainly.

18. What are you listening to right now? My Ray LaMontagne/Landon Pigg Pandora radio station... it's pretty much amazing.

19. Are your parents strict? A big fat false.

20. Would you go sky diving? Probably not...unless someone was paying for me.

21. Do you like cottage cheese? Indeed

22. Have you ever met a celebrity? Does Michael Birkland count? He once sat on my lap.

23. Do you rent movies often? Almost never...though, there is the occasional Redbox.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? I think there is glitter on my lamp...

25. How many countries have you visited? I'd like a different question, please.

26. Have you made a prank phone call? Of course. Although my favorite was when Kira made a prank phone call - "This is your local bunny calling. Have you been naughty or nice?"

27. Ever been on a train? The train at Lagoon?

28. Brown or white eggs? I always buy white eggs, but I assure you - I could care less.

29.Do you have a cell-phone? It's at an age where really, who doesn't?

30. Do you use chap stick? Yes.

31. Do you own a gun?
A bigger, fatter false.

32. Can you use chop sticks? I think so...it's been an age.

33. Who are you going to be with tonight? My stats... yummy.

34. Are you too forgiving? No. I'm hardly forgiving at all. (Just kidding.)

35. Ever been in love? With books. Food. Music.

36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow? I really do not know.

37. Ever have cream puffs? Of course, I have.

38. Last time you cried? Yesterday, while looking at the pictures of my grandpa's funeral...

39. What was the last question you asked? "Becca! What are you doing?" Or, something to do with Levi wanting to pick me up for a baby's blessing on Sunday.

40. Favorite time of the year? Wesley Woods! Or...I love love love late summer, early fall...Thanksgiving. These things just give me shivers of happiness.

41. Do you have any tattoos? No...

42. Are you sarcastic? Yes. And even more so when I am uncomfortable or I am being ignored.
43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect? I do not believe so.

44. Have you ever walked into a wall? I'm sure I have. Who hasn't? I remember falling backwards into a bathtub, too, once.

45. Favorite color?
Green, or Red. Sometimes pink.

46. Have you ever been slapped by someone? No, but I've been punched in the face.

47. Is your hair curly? I can barely get it to curl with a hot curling iron...

48. What was the last CD you bought? I think it was a best of the 90s type thing, Landon Pigg, Ray LaMontagne... I don't know.

49. Do looks matter? Presentation matters when you are serving food. Aesthetics matter in decorating. Attraction matters in boy toys.

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater? Cheater in cards - sure. Cheater on me - eventually (though, I would not be able to look them in the eye ever again...and possibly would never want to be in the same room). Cheater on my friends/family - Not quite.
51. Is your phone bill sky high? No, thank you Mom and Dad.

52. Do you like your life right now? Some aspects are GREAT. And some things are seriously lacking.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on? Can I - yes. Do I - no.

54. Can you handle the truth? The truth is always preferable.

55. Do you have good vision? When corrected by glasses or contacts.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people? Hate: 1 Dislike: ?...probably more than 2 people though. So yes.

57. How often do you talk on the phone? Some days I feel like I never get off. Other days, I don't even know where it is.

58. The last person you held hands with? I think Colin was trying to prove that he wasn't skittish... and we held hands for oh, 30 seconds (tops). Nope, not skittish at all.

59. What are you wearing? My scrubs.

60. Are you going to get straight back to work now? No, shower time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hazing: "Polly, you get in my pocket!"


So Becca and I have been going to our new ward - count it: 3 times.

We've been trying to give off our aura of coolness and hilarity by showing up, looking happy, grinning foolishly and things like such as. But to no avail. The 203rd ward is trying desperately to keep us on the outside of ward activities. There is a secret list that you have to be on in order to get details concerning FHE and other ward functions. Ward prayer is held at the "Grassy Knoll" and Sunday School is found in the F wing of the HFAC in room 576. But we looked - the F wing of the HFAC doesn't have a room 576 - and we're pretty sure that there isn't a "Grassy Knoll" either.

Despite all of this, Becca and I decided that we needed to attend the Enrichment night activity that was to be held Friday night up in a "Cabin" in Midway. This special cabin is a magical place where all the relief society sisters get together and bond. We were really looking forward to getting there and making new friends in our ward.

So we turned down a party at 7 Peaks, a birthday party and a dance all to head up to this brilliant cabin. And what did we find when we got there?

Nothing.

There was nobody there. We swore we were lost, because certainly a bonding party doesn't include invisible people. And then we realized.

They got us.

After yelling every possible acronym we knew for swear words, threatening to set fire to all the barbies in our ward and running Polly over with the car, we realized that this must be our special initiation into the secret society that is the 203rd ward. Becca burned $10 worth of gas, but now we are in! We decided that it would be our "Good News" for the good news minute in relief society. Now, now that we had gone through the proper hazing - now that they knew that we were willing to put them in front of every other fun activity on a Friday night that we could have attended - we are in!

They canceled the good news minute today, of "coarse", (that's not how you spell "of course", Polly) and we weren't able to make our announcement. And by our announcement, I mean Becca's carefully prepared, and hilariously funny monologue. I hope that doesn't affect our standing in the secret society. Someone did spill the beans on where the "Grassy Knoll" is, too. So that's a good sign...

The point is: Becca and I are having a difficult time adjusting to this new ward. I have a hard time believing that not one person who watched us today literally wiping tears from our eyes from laughing so hard, could keep themselves away from the awesomeness that is Becca and Me.

Although, I can't really say anything too bad about the ward, because somebody just dropped the July Ensign on our front stoop just now - and I haven't had a physical copy since 2004. I think I'll go read that now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

MY EYES! OH MY EYES!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

feel lucky that you are not in my presence today...it is not a happy situation. I don't know if I've said anything about it, but you might have heard...

I hate stats.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grandpa


In loving memory of Alvin Launta Armstrong


May 1919 - July 2009

My grandpa passed away today. And it doesn't matter what I write on this post - nothing will do him the honor he deserves as a man, a priesthood leader, a WWII veteran and a father and grandfather.

Alvin Armstrong has been "old" my entire life. He was 15 years older than my grandma and 33 when he got married. Working as a farmer and in various other positions in Kentucky, Florida, Iowa (and who knows where else), along with his experiences in WWII as a flame thrower in the Pacific wrinkled and tanned his skin.

I don't remember having long discussions with my grandpa. My earliest memories put me in the house he's lived my entire life (I think...) where he would have a box of toys, his electric chair, the ridiculously steep driveway and always a container of mixed nuts. With a hug and "Hi, Guy!" we were off in his backyard playing on the swingset and in the beautiful yard that he kept. He always had beautiful flowers around his house. When we were really young, I remember having Easter and searching for eggs around his backyard. I remember playing hide-n-seek with my cousins Jordan and Rebecca. We had Thanksgiving in the back porch area that was added onto his house. One year, while the adults were finishing preparations for dinner, Simon and I were playing with a glass cornucopia that we broke a piece of fruit off of. I'm fairly certain I never told anyone. I vaguely remember ruining his lawn mower, too, but that might have just been because we ran out of gas.

As we got older, my grandpa opened his home to us and allowed my friend Jessica and Amy to stay there without adult supervision. We gave Jessica highlights in my grandpa's bathroom.

My grandpa wasn't known for his healthy eating habits. I'm pretty sure our pancakes were fried, and our bacon extra greasy. However, he did introduce me to Kellog's corn flakes with fresh strawberries and bananas. A favorite to this day. And I have to bring up the mixed nuts again, because I am fairly certain that my grandpa is the reason why I love them so danged much. His corner by the backdoor was always full of candies and doughnuts and goodies.

I also know that my grandpa has helped out whenever he could financially for my family - and for me - and for that, I am so grateful.

Truly, though, my grandpa's greatest legacy are his children. The five boys and two girls that he helped bring into this world are the greatest collection of aunts, uncles and of course, my father, a girl could have. They know the true meaning of family. They know what it means to stick together during hard times. They know what it is to be supportive, and also kick you in the pants when necessary. Bad choices do not affect their unconditional love for you. And I can't help but think that my grandpa helped teach them.

I know that as a backwoods farmer, veteran of a world and Southerner, my grandpa was a hard man. He had some prejudices (I have a pretty vivid memory of my grandpa recounting his money he got from the bank just because the teller was black) and certainly he made some mistakes in his life.

But I will always remember him as a loving, wonderful man. And truly, I will miss him.



Saturday, July 11, 2009

To Be or not to Be

As members of the church, we often talk about how we have the answers to life's big questions. Who are we? Why are we here? And where are we going?

Sometimes I like to pair those questions with questions of my own. Who am I? Who do I want to be? And who am I becoming?

I know all the primary/Sunday school answers. So that covers my basic knowledge of Who I am. And it covers the very broad BROAD spectrum of Why I'm here.

But Where I'm going is so closely tied to Who I'm becoming that I don't always know the answers to that.

The more I think about these things, the more disappointed I am with myself. The choices that I've made, the habits I've begun... the path that I'm on. It doesn't really tie to Who I want to be. But the real problem is: I don't know Who I want to be.

Or rather, I do - it's just not possible. Which goes into the question as to Why am I here. Because what I really want to be is some member of the London ton during the Napoleonic wars. Living in an English manor. Looking for a husband by attending balls and dinners and country garden parties. Surrounded by rules of society and fancy ballgowns. And, forgive me, going to Church because it was expected of respectable ladies and not because I needed to renew my covenants. Covenants that I - we all - continue to break because we are human. Instead I would try and become some semi-bluestocking, while practicing the piano or something like that. Enjoying the knowledge of how to ride a horse...

But that's just ridiculous (I'd probably be part of the poorer class, besides).

So, instead I have to think about Who I really want to be. There's a part of me that wants to color her hair in a neon red, and cover her arms with tattoos and have lots of piercings. There's another part of me that wants to really experience the world - travel everywhere. Meet new people. Have experiences that involve all sorts of things. And then there's that other part, the part that I feel where I am failing. Where I become some Biblical scholar and uber-spiritual person. There's not really a way to balance all of those things. And just like with anything else, I find myself on the path to go one way, and then hop on the detour to go another... so many detours that I find that I haven't really gone anywhere at all. I'm stuck in this taboo land. Held back by my lack of discipline, my inability to commit - and really, my ignorance in knowing the answers. Or maybe it's that I know the answers, but I'm afraid of change. Not the change per se, but the actual giving up on everything else.

I remember clearly one seminary lesson where our teacher (Sister Johnson, my favorite) created two paths, they started fairly close together but then gradually pulled away from each other. She had one of the boys - because they were always falling asleep - walk with one foot on each path as far as they could go before they were stretched too far or fell over. That was the object lesson for living a life in Zion and one in Babylon. We can't do both. You can't have a summer home in Babylon... We've heard that analogy. I feel like I've put my summer home up for sale. But I should be abandoning it. Why am I waiting for a sale? Because, who really should be buying it? Instead, it's like I'm waiting. Waiting to fix it up and make it look nice. But it's in Babylon...

I digress. This is what I get for typing a deep post at 3:15am.

Dear readers, I don't want you to think that I've somehow lost my testimony of the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel. Were it not for Jesus Christ, we would be lost. But He suffered and died for us. It is why we DO have the answers to life's tough questions. I know we have prophets and leaders and true, inspired scripture to guide and direct. I know that He blesses us, whether or not we deserve it, but especially when we DO he blesses us. But like most, I take what I KNOW and what I DO and it sometimes doesn't add up. And I know that if we allow Him to help us, we can make the changes we need to.

Forgive my ranting. I pray that you will forgive my shortcomings as well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mixed Nuts - There's always just one more


Mmmm.... I love nuts.

So while I was eating from my mixed nuts the other night, I was feeling very philosophical. This particular container was the kind with all the nuts, and then peanuts (peanuts are totally a different classification of nut) - lots of peanuts. So I kept picking out the almonds and Brazilian nuts, etc. And every time I resigned myself to having finished all the almonds... I'd find just one more!

I couldn't help think that life is kind of like that: There's always one more.

The peanuts, the innumerable amounts of peanuts are probably the everyday, mundane things in life. But the other nuts represent the things that change and shape us.

Say you don't like the walnuts and so you go through and pick out all the walnuts from your life. And then just when you think that you've gotten them all, another one will show up through the peanuts. Just like car problems or things that you need to spend your vacation money on. Or fights. Or giving into temptations that you are trying to give up.... Walnuts are bad habits and weaknesses. Those walnuts. *shakes head* There's always one more.

But say that you really, really love almonds. Well, the principle is the same. You go through, stuffing your face with all the almonds that you can. And then you say, "Well, there just aren't anymore." And you go to put the container away, and THERE - just one more almond. Yum. Just like there is always one more friend willing to give you a hug on a bad day. A verse of scripture that uplifts you. A phone call from your mom or dad that says how much they love you. A last minute glimpse of the stars before the clouds cover the sky. Just one more ray of sunshine before the sun sets for the day. Just one more compliment that you never expected. Almonds help build and lift us. They make the whole container worth it.

Thank goodness for those unexpected almonds. It makes the walnuts seem just a little more bearable. Because even though there is a lot of peanuts - I mean, a lot - if the almonds and walnuts are balanced, then life isn't too bad. And sometimes, there is just one more almond than there is a walnut. And that is just a good day.

I don't know if this really applies to me, anyway, because I like ALL nuts. So I'm not sure what that means. Maybe I take the good with the bad? Or worse, maybe I don't realize that there are negatives in my life (ha!) and so I don't strive to get rid of those walnuts...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Eating Crow


To all of you who laughed when I said I was going to take Stats as an independent study class (i.e. everyone I know):

You were right.

Oh, gosh...I could have been done, or dead, had I just stayed in for spring semester. Both would be better than the situation I am in now. Unfocused. Unmotivated. Panicked. Ok, not yet. I still think I can do it...

That is, if it weren't for the 55% stipulation on the final. Crap.

*Drags palm across face.*

"I hate stats," she said despairingly. And then set to work.

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