Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ode to Ohio

You hold dear my family
Don't tax food and have warm Christmases
I love you, my Ohio

Now if only there were jobs here...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hate Mail

I was going to post my rebuttal, as well, but I see little point in it.
Shelli,

This is a notification to inform you that we have refunded $17.45 to your PayPal account, as we will not be shipping you a copy of The Pirate Ruse.  

It has come to our attention, that although you once claimed to enjoy books by Marcia Lynn McClure, your purpose in purchasing and reading them now is little less than to find reason to criticize the work and successes of others...to spread contempt, hatefulness and ugliness in the world.  We at Distractions Ink have thus decided that, since you are not the sort of person for whom Marcia writes, we will no longer do business with you.  

The personal nature of your hateful remarks about Marcia in your most recent book blog are not only unfathomably cruel, but disgustingly ignorant.  Marcia Lynn McClure actually avoids compliments, and adulation.  She is very uncomfortable with any of sort of admiration.  You do not know her at all...not in the least...and we will testify (as will any who have met her) that she is your exact opposite.  She is kind, caring, empathetic beyond belief and gives joy and hope to thousands and thousands!  She has helped people endure the most tragic circumstances imaginable!   Her works have helped people through the loss of a loved one, the loss of life!  What have you done, Miss Armstrong, to better the world?  To spread joy and hope?

To address the self-publishing issue, there is not on record any other person in the world who has had the success that Marcia Lynn McClure has had in this venue...typographical errors, too many 'chuckling bucks' or not.  When your little book that you've self-published makes half a million dollars through the self-publishing venue, let us know...for if there's one thing that holds true, it is that an author's very nature cannot be hidden...it will reveal itself in his/her work.  It might also interest you to know, that of the 3,751 friends Marcia has on Facebook (as you so precisely noted) YOU are the only 'friend' that does not have another friend in common with Marcia.  This is very telling, Miss Armstrong.     

In conclusion, we have determined that you must be a terribly unhappy person.  Someone so bitter and hateful can not know true happiness.  Marcia Lynn McClure writes her stories (imperfect or not) for good, happy people who what to enjoy life, uplift others and appreciate the simple things God has created for us to enjoy.  I will also forewarn you that, should you post any slanderous remarks on your part against Marcia Lynn McClure or her work, such evidences will be forwarded to the proper authorities.  

We wish you luck, Miss Armstrong...in finding peace for such a battered soul...happiness in the Light of Christ...and your endeavors to leave a positive footprint in the world.

Sincerely,
Shannon
Michelle
Sandy
And Everyone at Distractions Ink

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hobo Diet

My dad is concerned that I "eat like a hobo."

He thinks that a weekly trip to the grocery store might cure this habit I have of not eating at my apartment until I have to, and then emptying the contents of my cupboard and trying to make something remotely edible out of the mix of ingredients.

And then eating it.

There are some things that really go well together. For instance, one time a friend of mine and I got together and emptied the contents of our fridge and came up with a culinary masterpiece: chicken rubbed with lemon juice and crushed red peppers, topped with Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms. It turned out delicious.

Cream of chicken soup over rice with vegetables stirred in is not the best thing I've ever eaten, but it's passable.

Cottage cheese and black beans and green peppers = disgusting.

A can of green enchilada sauce, refried beans, wild rice, pepperjack cheese and some sour cream wrapped in a tortilla... well, it's just like eating a frozen burrito. Only, a lot more....runny.

Yeah, so, it all sounds unappetizing. And it definitely does not sound very healthy. But, when it's between that and going to the grocery store, sometimes it is just worth it to mix some things together and see how it works out for you.

This week, I don't have to worry about breakfasts or lunches. With all the food floating around the office: Peruvian fruitcake, bags of pistachios, apples and oranges, crackers and peanuts... I'll still be eating like a hobo. But at least I won't have to buy lunch!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Card 2010


May all your holiday dreams come true!

I was going to sit down and do what I did last year, but it seems like a bit much.

My year in summary includes: moving twice, losing best friends to bigger and greater things outside of Provo, graduating from BYU (yes, that means, finishing stats), self-publishing my book, traveling to Florida and to New York City, having family and friends continually demonstrate how much they love me and accept me for who I am, and reaffirming my testimony of the gospel - I do not want to be anywhere without it.

I have much to be grateful for. The Church. My Savior. My family. My job. I love this time of year, even if it is wretchedly cold outside because I love to sit down and realize all the things that have blown by as the year as progressed and to count my blessings - as there are many.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wanted: One Week With No Consequences

As the girls and I were out on the town last night (read: driving aimlessly with little to do) we decided to hit up the Cheesecake Factory for a little snack.

I love the Cheesecake Factory and neither Matti or Amy had been there. To which I say: WHAT!? How is that possible? They have the most delicious foodstuffs. And then, of course, there is the cheesecake. Which is pretty dang delicious. I discovered my new favorite thing: Vietnamese tacos. Vietnamese TACOS! Can you imagine anything more appetizing? At this moment, I can't. I wish I had them right now. The fact that they only cost $5.95 or something, makes them even MORE delicious. Sigh. I wonder how I could make my own...

As we were sitting at the bar, virgin beverages in hand, we were discussing the fact that we might, sometimes, be curious enough to wonder what would happen if the bartender had accidentally forgot to make our drinks sans the alcohol. We decided that we wished there was a chance to go a day - which quickly got changed to a week - of being able to try, experiment, DO anything and everything that we've ever wanted or thought we wanted to do. Just one week to see what it was all like.

Of course, then I noted that we would probably have to have that week blotted out in our memories. Because even if we were partaking in some of the more disgusting things (smoking or something like such as) we were bound to stumble upon something that would be harder to give up... (not smoking...).

So we wanted one week to drink, get tattoos and piercings and sex it up with absolutely no consequences. No guilt. No diseases. No fire and brimstone. No condescension. And then we would forget about it all enough to be able to give it all up, but remember enough to have satisfied our curiosities.

As I was writing about all of these grand ideas in my journal, I realized something that shouldn't have been as poignant and philosophical as it was. But it was this:

I shouldn't be wanting to do any of these things.

Heavenly Father gave us guidelines - commandments - for a reason. He gave us Jesus Christ to emulate and to help us have a goal in what we are striving to become. Asking for a week to do things that are directly opposite His plan for us, is absolutely retarded, considering, it would take us directly opposite of where we are meant to be.

I spent years in high school trying to prove to people that the Church doesn't inhibit or make me do - or not do - anything. It's my choice. It's my agency. I don't abstain from drugs and alcohol and tattoos because I am made to do it. And I'm not being driven by obligation or guilt. I choose to stay away from those things because I know that ultimately it is the right choice for me to make. Does it quench my curiosity? No. Not really. But at the same time, I know that if the Lord thought I was missing out on something spectacular, He would probably let me do it.

There was a time in my life when none of the vices were even the slightest temptation. I'm surprised that as I've gotten older, it has become more enticing. Still, I know I won't cave because in the end, I DO know that it is my choice, and I will choose to do those things which the Lord has asked me to do - or not do - as best as I can. I know that the commandments and counsels of God are given to us to really protect us from ourselves.

And you can't, on any level, escape consequences. No matter how much you entertain the idea.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Katy

Dear Katy, I just wanted to tell you that I think you are an amazing, wonderful person and I love you as my sister forever.

Love,
Shelli

Last week I found out that a dear friend of mine - my sister for all intensive purposes, as I have known her for over 20 years - lost her baby. She was nearly six months pregnant and due in March.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck, and instantly the tears prickled to my eyes. I can't imagine a worse loss than that of a mother losing her child - unborn or not - and so I knew that my grief only paled in comparison to what she and her husband, Jared, must be feeling.

I was at work, so I got all the news over a text. I was surprised at how calm and relaxed the texts sounded, and I just knew that my heartbroken friend was putting on a brave face and that I wasn't getting the emotional translation across the texts.

She had to go through the delivery process beginning Monday night, and delivered her stillborn, Baby Boy Self, on Tuesday morning.

I went to visit her last night. It had been a while since I've had the opportunity to hang out. She lives in Salt Lake and we haven't had the time to get together. Her apartment was filled with flowers, meals had been organized for the week, and Katy opened the door to give me a big hug.

I had expected to go over and mourn with her. I was expecting to cry and cry and hug and cry some more. But there was a peace in Katy's apartment that I was not expecting. The peace that comes with the knowledge that she and her husband were sealed together for eternity, which means Baby Boy Self is sealed to their eternal family. Katy and Jared both have a testimony of that, and I think that has helped them get through this tragedy. I really admired the strength and faith demonstrated by Katy as she related the delivery story and recent happenings with humor rather than self-pity or despair. I swear, we were laughing half the time I was there while Jared sat at his desk studying for Stats (shudder).

I know that the past week has not been an easy one, and I know that there are sad days ahead as they start to rearrange the lives they had been adjusting in preparation for a baby. They know that they will have the chance to have children again, and until then, they press forward with faith in the Lord and his plan and timing for them. I am grateful to have such excellent examples of how to face the adversities in this life. And I am so proud to call her my friend and thankful for her in my life.

I know that Heavenly Father is looking over their little family and will bless them as they continue faithfully through this trial. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Spelling Mistakes

In first grade, I spelled "blue" wrong on a spelling test. I spelled it bleu. My mom was in the hospital because she had just had Bradley. So we didn't get a chance to study for my spelling test much. And even before, I kept reversing the letters. I spelled it wrong and felt dumb. But I was more excited about my baby brother to care that much.

In fourth grade, I was in the school spelling bee. I got out in the first round because I spelled "c-o-n-t-a-i-n-e-r" wrong. I'm still not sure how I spelled it. And when I double-checked with some friends in the audience, I could spell it fine. I chalked it up to nerves.

In fifth grade, we had spelling homework where we had to take 10 of our spelling words, write a sentence and then draw a picture.

I chose the word: attach

"The man attached the woman."
I drew a picture similar to this. I still remember Mrs. Subert's lecture to the class about how we needed to do our homework and put effort in it. And to make sure we knew what the word actually was. I didn't feel dumb, though, I just thought it was funny.

I don't think the picture and sentence would have changed that much, though.

The man attached to the woman.

 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

"Not You"

It was a tradition of sorts for the youth of the Piqua Ward to go to Friendly's after a stake dance for ice cream. Not just any ice cream, of course, but for candy shoppe sundaes of the most delicious variety. My favorite being the Reese's Pieces. (And yes, we pronounced it Ree-sees Pee-cees.)

I drove the car shown above in high school. Really, Bessie deserves her own post, but that will have to come later. Amy and I were driving in said car, Bessie, and sitting at a stoplight on the I-75 overpass. We were listening to music, and reliving the (not-so-)exciting things that had happened at the dance. Happily sated with our ice cream - Amy probably not quite full with her five-scoop - when a car of boys pulled up beside us.

"Hey!" They yelled.

We ignored them.

"Hey, beautiful," they said again, trying to get Amy's attention. More whistles, more cat calls. Amy stared straight ahead.

Finally I turned to look at them.

"Not you," the driver said with a tone of juvenile disgust.

"I know," I said, returning the irritation in my voice.

And then the light turned green and they sped off. I ignored the flush that crept to my cheeks. And the sorry look on Amy's face, that I mistook for pity.

"Idiots," she said.

"Yeah," I agreed, keeping my eyes straight ahead.

We returned home. I am sure it was after curfew. (Amy and I were never very good at keeping curfew.) Told our parents good night and started getting ready for bed.

I do miss that car, though.

Quote: I Capture the Castle

I believe it is customary to get one's washing over first in baths and bask afterwards; personally, I bask first. I have discovered that the first few minutes are the best and not to be wasted - my brain always seethes with ideas and life suddenly looks much better than it did. Father says hot water can be as stimulating as an alcoholic drink and though I never come by one...I can well believe it. So I bask first, wash second and then read as long as the hot water holds out. The last stage of a bath, when the water is cooling and there is nothing to look forward to, can be pretty disillusioning. I expect alcohol works much the same way. (Chapter IV, pg. 49)
-Cassandra, I Capture the Castle

Quote: I Capture the Castle

My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments; but I have noticed that when things happen in one's imaginings, they never happen one's life... (Chapter IV pg. 39)
-Cassandra, I Capture the Castle

Friday, December 03, 2010

Doctrine & Covenants 58:26-33

My friend Suesan sent me this scripture in response to my previous post:

Doctrine and Covenants 58
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is acompelled in all things, the same is a bslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
 27 Verily I say, men should be aanxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are aagents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their breward.
 29 But he that adoeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with bdoubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is cdamned.
 30 Who am I that amade man, saith the Lord, that will hold him bguiltless that obeys not my commandments?
 31  Who am I, saith the Lord, that have apromised and have not fulfilled?
 32 I command and men aobey not; I brevoke and they receive not the blessing.
 33 Then they asay in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their breward lurketh cbeneath, and not from above.
 It just goes to show you how many answers can be found in the scriptures. Even if they aren't always the ones you want to hear. Of course, it is no secret ot me that I am slothful and not wise.

Need a Little More than a Sounding Board

I've just been thinking in incoherent thoughts, but this is what I've come up with.

No one in their right minds would allow me to make the sole decisions in their life. Who would give me the right to tell them where to move, where to work, who to be friends with and where to find new friends? How to spend their money! How to spend their time..

No one would do that.

And yet, I have to do it for myself! What a dangerous, horrible thought! I make all the decisions in my life - for better or for worse. I mean, I know that that's the plan. God gave us agency so that we could choose all of those things. Our country is founded on the idea of freedom to choose. But still, sometimes I wish I could turn on the cruise control or let someone else take the wheel for a while.

Don't get me wrong, I value my freedom. I hate being told what to do. Actually, I sort of want someone to tell me what to do, just so I can do the opposite...

But, at this stage in my life, there are a lot of big decisions that need to be made. Things I do now will set the course for the rest of my life. And there is very little room for mistakes...for u-turns. And I'm terrified. It's easier to just keep doing what I'm doing - living my very simple life where I work to make just enough money to scrape by, go home... fill my nights with meaningless activities and then wake up to do it all over again. There's no risk involved.

Except the risk of it being the exact same in 1 - 2 - 5 years. It makes me feel suffocated, and as I'm gasping for a change, I realized something.

It comes from being single. Not solely, of course, but when you're single, everything is for yourself. Yes, you have your freedom to do whatever, but I find that to be a disadvantage sometimes. I need a little more than a sounding board. Because you can discuss the future with your parents or friends. They will listen and spout of advice, and then, in the end: it's still your decision. They can't make you follow their advice. They can't make you set the plan and go for it - actually go for it.

I wonder if married people see the distinct advantage they have by being a part of a couple. The advantage of making joint decisions, where you work to make your partnership better and stronger by doing things that benefit not only yourself, but two people. I feel like the joint dream of two people is much more attainable than a single's. Because then there are two people working together to accomplish it. And aren't we taught that there is strength in numbers? That two heads are better than one? That four hands are better than two?

In the end, I feel utterly lost and alone. And that I have no one to rely on but myself. It's an intimidating challenge being your sole support, anchor and wind.

In my mind, I know I'm not alone. I'm very aware that I have a loving Father in Heaven. But that doesn't shake the daunting feeling. You can have all the cheerleaders you want on the sidelines, but in the end, it's left to you to execute the play to make something happen. Cheerleaders are, basically, useless when it really counts.

That sounds ungrateful...

I am grateful for those cheering for me from the sidelines. I certainly have a huge support system amongst my family and friends who want nothing from me but to be happy and succeed.

But I feel like I'm failing them - you. And I'm failing myself. But I don't know what to do. So I'm going to go to bed, wake up and go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Blog

I don't know what to think. I've changed my blog again, and this time, I did it ALL on my own. It might not have been as impressive - after all, moms and grandmas and all sorts of people have figured out how to design their own blog - except, I'm not using your typical creative programs. That's right, no Photoshop, no InDesign, no.... I don't know what other programs people use.

But I did it.

I'm not exactly sure that I like it completely. But I'm sick of working on it... so this is how it will stay for the next month or so. I figure most people who read my blog, do so through their Reader or through email, anyway.





I really am in love with picnik.com. Since it is new, I only anticipate for it to get better. But it is pretty user-friendly, comprehensive and fun. There are a lot of features that I just wish I had projects to use them with! Like the textures...! So great...

Is anyone else blown away that it is December? I'm still in denial that I'm supposed to be wearing a coat! I drove by campus today and felt sorry for the poor... *dears* that are out walking around campus in this frigid weather. I must say, I do not miss that, not one little bit.

*shudder*

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The 25-year Old

Bronwyn and Thanksgiving

So with all my Thanksgiving traveling plans not panning out, I got to spend extra, extra time with my good friend Bronwyn who left me for Texas many months ago.

I don't know how Bronwyn and I became friends... it was at the Omni. She visit taught me...once? Maybe. And then one day we went to a party together and it blossomed from there! She is hilarious and fun, and I miss her terribly. (Why did she ever leave? No one knows.)

Anyway, when I got back from New York, Bronwyn and I have tried to make plans nearly every night she's been here, which has been so great. We've seen movies: Unstoppable and Tangled. And eaten at Cafe Rio and Iggy's. And walked around the mall - where she helped my friend James get commission on her sister's Christmas present - and then we played Rock Band. We celebrated my birthday and mourned her last night at Nickel City last night; got hopped up on sugar and then headed to Comedy Sportz (an improv comedy team that specializes in Provo/LDS/Utah culture).

It's been so much fun to have her around to do things with and I'm really hating the idea of her going back to Houston. Hopefully, I can convince her to move back to Utah in April...or maybe I'll just join her in Texas. Ah! I love her!


Side note: Picasa (Google's photo storage/editing system) launched a new thing called Picknik, that has more advanced photo editing capabilities - hence the picture posted above - and I'm really excited about it. I might have stayed up EXTRA late playing with it. I've always edited my pictures before posting, but now... Don't trust any picture I post to actually be me. I have blemish remover, teeth whitener, eye enhancement capabilities and I'm not afraid to use them!

But also... Bronwyn is really this pretty. I didn't have to use any of my tools on this picture , except add the turkey! (Ok, ok... I brightened up our eyes, because I can! But that's it, I swear!)

Oh, and for those of you wondering: 

I thoroughly enjoyed my four day weekend. I think that every week should have Thursday and Friday off... it's the best idea ever! You can get so much accomplished! I didn't... but I COULD have. And that's what is important. I did do a lot of writing, actually. Which I'm happy about, because I've had a bit of writer's block lately.

I spent my Thanksgiving at my Uncle Dennis'. My grandparents got super lost, and were even later than I was. My grandma brought me a sewing machine for my birthday, and I'm itching to get to work on it... but I haven't yet because I've been writing and playing! 

The food was good - though, really Mom, I'm going to have to start shipping your rolls out to me. Or maybe just stop being so lazy and attempt to make them myself - and plentiful. I saw my cousin DJ and his wife Jenny, and that was great! The last time I saw DJ, he was sitting in a booth at IHOP, and it has been several years ago. 

The only bad thing about crashing somebody's Thanksgiving is that on Friday, there are no leftovers! Worst plan ever. Next year, I'm going to either be in Ohio, or I'm bringing a big enough purse to stuff extra servings in it for later.

Also, I did not get enough pumpkin pie... or pecan pie! Or Cherry Cardinal Dessert!.... just kidding. I don't care about the Cherry Cardinal.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So Not Excited

Has anyone looked at a birthday with less enthusiasm than I am looking at tomorrow? I do not think it is possible.

“When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names of hell.”  Brian W. Aldiss quotes

Birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.” Jerry Seinfeld quotes

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New York City


This is my trip in a nutshell. I loved every minute of it.

I love him:



I've missed Colin so much! I'm just glad that he is coming back to Provo for a few last months before he makes New York his home. It was so good to see him and go explore the sights and see how he's been living the last few months.

I love Brooklyn:


I love the architecture:

I love the subways and their amazing impromptu concerts:

I did not like the girl who tried to sing O Holy Night. She wasn't that good, and she was trying to get me to give her money by singing Christmas songs... Please. The mariachi band was really cool though, and I would have given them money if they had hung around long enough, because I liked them quite well. The acrobat gangsters... eh.

I do not love the subway stations... because I'm still confused by them. I'm lucky that I had Colin to show me around, or I would have never gone anywhere.

I love Central Park. Especially in late fall. And the weather was really, really great too:

I love the high line:

And the Esplanade:

I love Broadway:

Especially, In the Heights. Which is what Colin and I saw on Friday night. It was pretty fantastic. And we must have gotten the best possible cast - because when I later looked up youtube.com videos, they weren't nearly as good as the people we saw...who were really, really great.

I love this picture:

I do not love Time Square. Too busy; too touristy.

I love the history:
Ellis Island
And the art:
Metropolitan Museum of Art
I love the food:

Rice in Brooklyn is the best thing I've ever tasted. I had this Indian curry with raisins, chicken, yogurt, almonds and bananas. I was a little worried, but Colin's roommate Jason talked me into it (it wasn't hard, I just took his suggestion and went with it) and I'm so glad I did. It came with Thai black rice, and it was sooooooo soooooooooooooo good.
This cupcake is dense, moist and delicious (also from Brooklyn). Bon Chon had the BEST chicken I've ever had. It's not really Korean, but it is soooooo yummy. And then the Shake Shack, which made the best cheeseburger I've ever tasted.

And I love what New York stands for as related to our county:

A land of freedom. A land of opportunity. A place where you can go and make something of yourself. It is an incredible place with all sorts of peoples, cultures, religions, backgrounds. There are rich and poor. I heard no less than 10 different languages walking around, and it was incredible. Truly a melting pot.

It was a great trip. So great, I even considered living there. And then I went grocery shopping and realized that I couldn't afford to buy bacon. I don't even buy bacon in Provo, but for some reason, that was a deal breaker for me. That, and the fact that all my favorite places (Central Park, the Esplanade, etc.) were the places that you could actually get away from all the people. I kept waiting for NO people on the subway, and it never happened, of course.

But I would not hesitate to go back and see more shows. And more history. And more art. More food! And more of everything. I thought it was so great!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Observations

!!!!!!! I'M IN NEW YORK !!!!!!!!!!

I think I was so nervous this morning, that I didn't dare sleep through my alarm, which is really good considering we just made it to the airport. Luckily, I was all checked in and ready to go, I had no problems with security and I literally just walked on the plane. I also tested out using my passport, which was great to know that I'll be able to get through security without having to break out my soon-to-be-expired license when* I go home for Christmas.

*if


There have been lots of stories on the news about the new scanners that see right through your clothes and how they are mandatory, unless you want to subject yourself to being felt up by TSA. A lot of people are unhappy with this, and I am among them. I think it is invasive and unnecessary. However, whilst Salt Lake City airport does have the new scanners, they aren't mandatory - yet - and so I didn't have to worry about going through it. They do have the technology, though, because I'm pretty sure I've gone through one before. (Unless it was in Ohio... but now I can't remember. I really just try not to think about it too much...) All of these measures that are meant for our safety... ugh. I'm not really one of those people that shares the philosophy of "better safe than sorry" or anything, because I know that I am not a terrorist, or even so much as a security threat, and so yeah, I feel really inconvenienced when they want to look through my clothes or "pat" me down or refuse to let me bring my perfume and shaving cream because they don't meet the required liquid regulations...

Anyway, I love the airport in the morning. People are cranky. I don't know why. The man who made my smoothie - worst smoothie of all time, by the way - was in no way willing to offer a "good morning," smile or...anything. I also saw a man walking around with a flannel cream colored shirt with elk drawings on it, and coordinating camouflage pants. Oh, Utah. I wish I had a picture, because really, I think they should take that look to fashion week.

Upon boarding the plane, I noticed that ALL of the flight attendants were OLD. I've seen a few older attendants in my day, but... not all of them, and not all of them close to retirement age. The man was sort of funny. He would get on the intercom and say, "Good news, everybody!" and then proceed to tell us some pretty good news (e.g. everyone boarded the plane on time, and so we left early; we arrived almost forty minutes early, etc.) but then he finished up his joke with the Geico tagline, and I lost all respect.

I slept for most the flight, but was wide awake when I landed and I must say that that I was extremely disappointed that I did not have a window seat. I would have loved to see the city as we were flying in. I kept trying to get a look, and the guy that was sitting next to the window pointed out three large container ships that were likely bringing in products from China. The ocean looked awesome... at least the part that I could see. At first I thought I was looking at a pod of whales, but I'm sure it was just really big waves, and I guess that's cool.

Because we were early, we had to go on a passenger car, which was this... box-like structure that would lift all the way up to reach the plane, we boarded it, and then lowered down and drove. It was seriously nuts. You couldn't see the driver....

I wandered around the airport for a while, listening to all the different languages and seeing all kinds of people, which I love to do anyway. I was so nervous that I was going to get lost, but I found the air train OK. I was told that I could buy a metro card at the airport, but I didn't see a kiosk so I just hopped on a train and hoped that I would know which stop to get off... I didn't, but I chose a stop that had a very cute, very helpful (and likely gay) man who noticed I looked lost and told me to get on a train - which WAS different than the one I had been on - so that was really, really nice.

The subway was SCARY. Not the people. They all seemed cool. And there were a lot of delicious looking black men... seriously. Colin had warned me that the subway conductors spoke in ebonics, but... it was like no ebonics I ever heard. Are people actually meant to understand them? I am certain that even the black guys on the train had no idea what he was saying. Luckily for them, they knew where they were going.

I managed to get off on the right stop, but once I got off the subway, that is where the trouble started. I found the numbers that I was looking for, but no red lines (like I was told there would be) and no "John Street," which is what I was looking for... So I finally just picked an exit and made my way aboveground. Honestly, I do not like subway stations.

Once again on ground level, I began walking, hoping to just bump into the street I needed. Colin was in a meeting and unable to assist, and my GPS was not picking up any satellites. (Thank you, tall buildings!) So I was on my own and decided to enjoy walking around. Which I did. I saw St. Paul's church and Trinity Church and knew that I was on the wrong path when I hit Wall Street and the giant bull. And, I'm pretty sure I walked past the World Trade Center site... but that is unconfirmed. But I watched people take pictures and then I found a map. As far as maps go, it was helpful, but completely turned around. I had to think backwards in order for it to tell me anything. So I turned around and headed back down Broadway, and found the street I needed.

My first meal experience was an Lenny's. I had a roast beef sandwich, and either I was starving, or it was seriously the best sandwich I've ever had. I am sated and pleased with my purchase.

My overall impression is that the City is nice, but... I am a small town girl at heart. I kept waiting for the subway to empty out, but it only got more and more full! I like to sit and observe, but I don't think anyone appreciated me...I think they thought I was trying to listen to their conversations or something, but that wasn't the case. Anyway, there are tons of people here, obviously, and they all stand on the outside of their buildings and smoke. But for the most part, I've noticed that everyone is really friendly.

Now I am awaiting Colin's arrival and we are on to the midnight showing of Harry Potter.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gay Chicken

The guys upstairs are admittedly a little homophobic but definitely really hilarious about this fact. They were talking about how recently, they've inadvertently started a new game that they have since called gay chicken.[Which, I guess is from the show Scrubs, see the video Chris posted in the comments. Funny.]

Since they work together day in and day out, their usual preference of a 3-foot distance between guys has been cut drastically to about 6-inches. But that barrier is still there, and they aren't shy about calling someone out on a "close call" or any sort of contact.

The best example, though, was after their "beard month", Rob came in clean shaven and said, "Feel how smooth!" Since this is fairly out of character for Rob, Wes decided to go for it. But as he closed the distance to Rob's cheek, his hand started shaking. The closer he got to making contact, Rob started pulling away.

Apparently they can't handle it. But the trying and then retelling is certainly entertaining.

I wish there was a way to record these conversations, because they are certainly a lot funnier as you witness them than by sitting down and typing them out.

Happy Birthday, Mackenzie!



Fourteen years ago today, my youngest sister was born. For the longest time, I wanted my mom to name her Marcy. I've since gotten over liking that name, even remotely, and so I am really glad that my parents went with Mackenzie.

On the morning she was born, my mom's friend Sue came over to take us to school. The hotel that housed El Sombrero had set on fire the night before, and Sue drove us to see the smoldering building before dropping us off.

I loved Mackenzie from the instant I saw her. She was the most ADORABLE, BEAUTIFUL baby I have ever seen. To this day. Her dark curly hair and little button nose was just, so precious.



I am told that Mackenzie is very similar to me. In fact, my dad calls her my "twin." I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Though, as I was told tonight, it is probably not a bad thing as long as she has learned to budget her money much better than I have.



Here's hoping that is true.

I spent most of my teenage years babysitting Mackenzie, and now that she is grown and able to take care of herself (I assume that she is able to...) it's been fun to get to know her as an individual and more mature person. Though, it is still weird to figure out exactly how mature I'm supposed to anticipate. One second, I think I can talk about just anything and the next minute, I'm wishing she would grow up a little faster. Some days, she's just the little girl that could be coerced into "hip-atizing" everyone, and other days, she's the stubbornest young lady.

You would think as the baby of the family, we would have been able to get her to do whatever we wanted her to do. But the truth is - if she didn't want to do it, she didn't. That doesn't mean we never had her sneak us Pringles into our parent's bed while we were watching TV, or get us a drink... but she must have done that out of the kindness of her heart, because she certainly wouldn't have done otherwise. 

Regardless, I really think that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Happy birthday, my darling sister! I love you!

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nearly two years ago, the FTC went to Santa Fe. There is little documented evidence of this fact, due to the fact that as Queen of the FTC, I also hold many other duties such as historian. However, being historian requires having the history of the event... and these pictures have been held hostage for this length of time. I've finally retrieved the pictures and thanks to the fact that I have no self-control, I have put together a little slide show.




Since it has been so long, I hardly remember anything that happened. We drove down to Santa Fe and listened to Harry Potter for the 10 hour drive. We stayed at the Sage Inn and explored the plaza the next day. We had been told that it would be warm, so we weren't really prepared for the rainy, 50 and 60-degree temperature that we experienced. We visited the National Treasures art/craft fair. We explored Bandelier National Park and climbed through the ancient pueblo ruins. We went white water rafting (level 3) and Fern and I almost crapped ourselves, we were so scared! It, of course, was really fun floating down the Rio Grande. We ate good food. Watched the basketball playoffs, hunted for chocolate, and went to bed at a decent hour.


Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Post #3

Now pretend for a second that I didn't just post the most depressing post of my entire blog and switch gears to my Thankful Post #3.

I am thankful for Bishops. Throughout my lifetime, I have had some of the best bishops that have been called to serve.

When I was baptized, I was interviewed by Bishop Patrick. He was a great friend of my dad and my uncle and was one of the funniest people I knew. He was the * ONLY * person that I allowed to call me Shelli Belly. And he did so. He gave me my first, and only, taste of venison. His wife introduced me to snickerdoodles. But more, I remember siting in his office for my baptismal interview and him asking me about Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ and me being able to tell him that I had a testimony at that young of an age. And him telling me that he knew that I did and how he was very proud of me.

Growing up, Bishop Zelnick gave me my first temple recommend. He called me in just to make sure I was doing OK during a time when I was suffering from depression. He was wise and educated and encouraged me to get my degree at Edison and then BYU. He called me Daughter #5, and I spent my high school years using his home as my "summer home."

And then my dad was made my bishop. And I learned the inner workings of how the church is run. And I understood the constraints that a bishop goes through with balancing work, church and family. And I saw personally how the Spirit can influence someone and how the Lord blesses the families of His servants.Can I just say how much I enjoyed my dad being my bishop? He did my tithing settlement, gave me callings - sometimes officially and sometimes not so much - I could talk to him "as my bishop" and then switch it up and get counsel from my dad. He even wrote out my temple recommend before I left for college, and I still have that because I love that he could do that for me.

When I moved out to BYU, I was nervous and scared. I lived with girls who I at first befriended, and then we did * NOT * get along. They didn't like the way I worked graveyard shifts and they questioned my choice of friends. I picked up a swearing habit, and because of my work schedule, I didn't always make it to church on Sunday mornings. But Bishop Freestone directed me to Moses 5:10 "Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God." And he taught me that Heavenly Father is so above disappointment, that when we screw up, He only feels compassion for us. And we learn and strive to do better.

At the Branbury, I served with Bishop Zenger. Who was absolutely fantastic. At the time, I felt that no man loved a ward more than he loved us. I called him in the middle of the night a couple of times worried about my sister and he answered and talked me through it. He was funny and kind and the ward loved him as much as he loved us.

After that, I went through a series of Bishops that did not know who I was. In fact, on such bishop introduced himself to me no less than five times as if we had not met.

And then I moved into the Omni, and I worked with Bishop Hardman. And unfortunately, he was released. Bishop Marchbanks was put in, and he made the ward a fun, unified group of individuals. To the point where the friendships that I made in the Omni have long withstood the test of time and moving. No other ward was as close-knit as the Omni.

After the Omni, came Bishop Robinson. And surely he loved us more than any bishop... I really did love Bishop Robinson. He was so great and fun and... exactly what that ward needed.

At Single Tree, I tried my best to distance myself from the ward. I knew I wouldn't be there long, but Bishop Cummings wouldn't allow that. I had a calling that terrified me. And he really advocated reading the Book of Mormon. I started reading and studying better than I had in previous wards and I learned the strength and power that comes from reading daily.

And finally, there is Bishop Allen. Who called me into his office based off a prompting, and at the end gave me a hug. Which... I don't think he understands how desperately I needed that hug.

Bishops are called of God and inspired men. They are men... which means that they aren't perfect. But I do believe that God calls the right men for each ward. I'm so grateful for the relationships I've had with my bishops over the years and for the guidance they've given me and the way they have lived their lives by example.

President Hinckley gave a talk about Bishops and it is really good and embodies more of what I wanted to say in this post. Read it here: LDS.org - Liahona Article - The Shepherds of Israel

Oppression

The sensation in the pit of your stomach is sickening and not unlike the feeling you get when dropping on a particularly steep roller coaster - only, it's not exciting, it's terrifying. You want to scream, curl up in a ball and and just throw up your hands in frustration all at the same time. Instead, you're resigned to just take a deep breath and release it with the most pathetic sigh anyone has ever heard - or would be, if you externalized any of this.

There's a weight on your heart that can not be measured by any scale. And mostly, it's just this sense of complete hopelessness, despair and overwhelming loss for something you've never even had.

But more than that, it's... a cage. You're completely fettered. You're sitting in the bottom of the empty lion's den. There is no threat on your life, except maybe the loss of your sanity. Because, of course, there is a source of light. A way out. But it is hundreds of feet in the air and completely unattainable. There's no way to scale the wall. There's no way to roll the boulder locking you in.

You're completely stuck. And the weight of that realization is unbearable. You can hear voices coming from that opening. They're laughing and playing. They're even inviting you to come up. And they want you to join them. But you can't.

How can you?

Tears of frustration aren't enough. The short gasps of breath aren't calming your racing heart. Soon, there will be nothing to do but lay down and sleep. Because, really, what else can be done?

Too many times you've found a small groove in the wall and begun your ascent to that opening, and every time, the wall crumbles from beneath your feet. And you fall. You've fallen more times than you can count, and each time, the weight of the disappointment is stronger than the last. But even if the wall didn't disintegrate, would it matter?

No.

There's still the shackles keeping you grounded. You'll be here until you die. In the same place until God tells you otherwise. You can't fight against this literal pit of despair. And why would you? It's pointless. You can't think of a more pointless pursuit than trying to get out.

So get comfortable. This oppression doesn't end until you're OK with your situation. Or you go completely mad. Which is the more likely of the two.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thankful Post #2

I wasn't going to make this a daily thing, but as I was sitting there eating lunch I thought, I'm so grateful for the Columbian Exchange.

That might seem like a weird thing for most people. But it is not different than a math major doing crazy calculations for fun. Or a psychology major analyzing the people they come in contact with. Or... whatever, the Columbian Exchange is something we discussed in several of my geography classes and it was one of my favorite topics.

In the Church we talk about how Christopher Columbus was inspired and directed by the hand of God in order to "discover" the Americas and therefore set the path whereby the great US of A could be established allowing for the restoration of the gospel. But that was only one of the things that Columbus' contact began.

Before the Columbian Exchange, there were no oranges in Florida, no bananas in Ecuador, no paprika in Hungary, no tomatoes in Italy, no potatoes in Ireland, no coffee in Colombia, no pineapples in Hawaii, no rubber trees in Africa, no cattle in Texas, no donkeys in Mexico, no chili peppers in Thailand and India, no cigarettes in France, and no chocolate in Switzerland.

Can you imagine a world like that?

And since my ancestry comes from the Old World, without the Columbian Exchange, I would be stuck over there eating haggis... or something really nasty, instead of enjoying a delicious tortilla (New World) with black beans (New World) and sweet pork (Old World) smothered in cheese (Old World) and spiciness (Who knows?).

Thank you Columbian Exchange for my sweet pork burrito! And for all of the delicious, creative meals I eat and enjoy!

Thankful Post #1

I'm not being consistent with my Season of Thanksgiving posts. Season of Thanksgiving posts? You ask... well, it's just the latest blogging trend, and I haven't hopped onto the bandwagon yet.

So here is is... post #1, and I DARE you to watch this video and not bawl your eyes out. No, it's not Steel Magnolias and it isn't The Legend of the Fall or any such thing. But I can't make it through the first 15 seconds without tears, and about three minutes into it, my nose is running and I'm sobbing...

I think the first time I tried to watch this, I was at work and I had to turn it off because I was getting too emotional.

I think my favorite part is at 1:30 - 1:50.



I'm thankful to be living in this country. But more, I am thankful for the patriots, for the men and women out there serving to keep this country free and protected. And I'm thankful that there are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives and children out there that let their loved ones out there to fight for our freedom, knowing the risks involved.

I'm so grateful to the sacrifices that those in this video and the countless other - including my friends and family - who have put their lives on hold, who left their new bride, or went away before getting the chance to meet their son or daughter all for the sake of freedom. We owe these men and women are very deepest respect, the greatest honor and as many prayers as we can offer up.

Thank you.

*I'm still sniffling... how did you fare?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

When I was 17

EFY - Age 17
There is a show on VH1 or MTV called When They Were 17. They go through different celebrities and talk about what they were like when they were in high school and what they were doing. Everyone already knows what has been on my mind lately, so it shouldn't be any surprise that I would reflect on what I thought my life would be when I was 25 at the age of 17, and how differently it compares.
Memorial Day - Age 17
Latin Class with Sabrina


When I was 17, it was 2002 through 2003. I celebrated the worst birthday/Thanksgiving of my existence. I lost my grandmother. I turned 17 as a sophomore in high school. I had a crush on Kenny Campbell and nearly every missionary that served in our ward. I drove an Eighty-Eight Delta Oldsmobile of the maroon variety, named Bessie. I took a class at Edison that summer and a teacher told me that my writing was good enough to be published (it's taken me eight years to finally start making that happen). I was also working at Edison and went to school there nearly full-time. My car was stolen. I got it back a few days later. I had my first kiss. I went to the Harlem Globetrotters. I went to prom with TJ Karns. I went to my first party where there was alcohol (I did not partake).

Halloween

I became a senior in high school and applied for scholarships (of which I go two) and BYU (of which I was accepted). I took the ACT twice and got the same score. I tried to have school spirit, and failed miserably. I became better friends with my sister, Amy. I became less friendly with my best friend since first grade.
Basketball season

At 17, my main goal was to go to BYU, graduate in two years and then come back to Ohio - that is, if I wasn't married - and take over Edison. I very much thought I would be married. I don't think that I really sat down and thought about what the next eight years would bring but by 25, my 17-year old self certainly knew the following:

Senior Picture

By 25, I should be married in the temple with at least one child. I would be a stay at home - in a house with a mortgage - mother that had perfected the art of sewing, cake baking and and roll making. My house would be clean. I would be in the young women's presidency and coaching the basketball team. I would have long gotten my degree at BYU in graphic design - in fact, my 17-year old self had a highly different picture of what life at BYU was going to be like. Heck, she had a highly different picture of what her senior year in high school would entail. (So it really shouldn't have been any wonder that things were so different...) But BYU was supposed to bring scores of dates and love interests and experiences. And lifelong bosom buddies with which we would all get married at the same time and have kids at the same time and the kids would play together and we'd go on weekly dates with each other....

And if we needed the money, I suppose I would be freelancing my graphing design knowledge. My kids would be brilliant and funny and highly entertaining and little primary proteges. My husband and I would be attending the temple frequently. By 25, I'm sure I would have traveled outside of the country. I hoped that by now I would be well-traveled. At the age of 17, Italy was the number one country on my to visit list, so we would have gone there first...

Is my life different than what I imagined?

Yes, very.

I wish that I could say that though my life is different that I imagined as a teenager, that is is somehow better than I imagined or more fulfilling than that simple vision I had. Or more exciting. Or worth the wait...

But that's not really how I've been feeling at all...

In an effort to make this post not completely depressing, I do DO have to say that while I'm not world-traveled, I have had the opportunity to see more of the west than I ever thought. I DO have lifelong friends that I love dearly. The only problem with adult friends is that, while they remain your friends, they leave. Marriage. Grad school. Job offers. I have friends dotted across the world now, and while they are my friends and that is just...great...it makes it hard to have things to do on the weekend and you're more playing "catch-up" then you are enjoying the craziness of everyday life and finding joy in the little things in life... Right, anyway, upbeat things. I have a job. I have a car. I have friends... And I'm fairly self-sufficient. I have a new vigor in writing, and am trying to get published and make somewhat of a career of it and for the most part, have received nothing but encouragement.


I'm wondering if my labels are now going to have to include self-pity, because I feel like this post was kind of catering to my frequent pity parties. Ach, oh well...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Almost Old Enough

One of the new gimmicks that salespeople and marketers are trying out are scratch cards that promise vacations and money and cars and enticing things that sound much too good to be true. The person on the other end of the phone assures you that there is nothing that needs to be purchased - it is just a technique to get their name out. I have to take all these calls and answer their silly questions and then after listening forever, I find out that I'm not eligible (as if I wanted to be) because I'm under the age of 25.

But in a few weeks, that won't be the case anymore.

I guess I could lie about my age. Most people don't start doing that - unless they are trying to be older - until they're about to hit 30. And I think that it is really lame that I need to lie about my age to escape telemarketers, and not for something cool... like... I don't know. Whatever reason it is cool to lie about your age.

Or maybe, these too good to be true deals are really true! And I could then be eligible to win off of this no-purchase-necessary, get-our-company-name-out scratch card. And then I could have a free trip to Mexico or the Bahamas or a new car or something!

If that's the case, let's just hurry up to my birthday and I'll accept the next caller and give them all my info...

Nope, never mind, I'm too jaded. Those scratch cards are a gimmick, and totally not worth turning 25.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Dear MVH, You Suck!

Submission to the editor of the Dayton Daily News.

NAME: Shelli Bollschweiler*
ADDRESS: 1944 * 840 *
CITY: Provo
STATE: UT
ZIP: 8460*
DAYTIME PHONE: 9373**8312
EVENING PHONE: 9373**8312
EMAIL: shelli@km**rchitects.com
LETTER: Changes in the structure of employment at Miami Valley Hospital in the IT department have recently been enacted. Men and women that have worked 10+ years have been reorganized into dead end jobs without ways to advance. Or they can quit, relinquishing years of retirement, rightfully earned and upsetting plans for any future. Those who voice concerns are fired or disregarded. This is America! The 21st century! How can they do this? It reminds me of the early factories where people were forced to work for pennies a day, all day without breaks and safety measures. Trapped because they had to provide for family and left to be bullied by the bosses, workers felt they hadn't other options. One man - as I’m sure there are many - now leaves work to go to a second and third job that he's picked up to help. Gone are the days of going home to his family, volunteering at church and, heaven forbid, relaxing. And he's only taken half the cut. By the time the hospital is through, he will lose $10,000 per annum. It is disgraceful and appalling. To think that a company meant for good by healing the sick and afflicted, is causing so much stress and heartache for the good families of the Miami Valley is horrifying. I feel for the helplessness and hopelessness of the situation, but what can truly be done except to call "foul!" and hope that MVH will learn how to value their hardworking employees.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

This in no way portrays the emotions I'm really feeling, but they wouldn't let me submit anything longer than 250 words. Which is probably fine... the rest of the words I wanted to use included things that needed * and would have looked more like #&*BS&!%*(##!^&@*FU)(&!!!A@@!&^#&^*!% instead of actual, intelligent writing.

Harry Potter Countdown

I know I'm not the only one excited about the newest Harry Potter movie!


This countdown can also serve as the countdown to the birthday present! YAY!




Birthday Month Tribute

New month. New design. And this time I had to throw in a tribute for the fact that it is my BIRTHDAY month. Commence celebrations! And also mourning. I'm still deciding how I feel about 25. No. Scratch that. I've decided how I feel, but I'm trying to be more excited and less pessimistic and gloomy about it.


Of course, I am always excited to celebrate myself... so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Love Halloween

The idea came to me out of the blue.

"I want to be a drag queen for Halloween."

Drag queens get to wear crazy make up, crazy clothes, crazy accessories. Really, anything goes and I wanted a part of it. I didn't know how I was going to go about it, and I didn't know who I was going to be going out with - my Halloween cohort from the past two years has been out of the country - but I was going to do it. So I suggested to my roommate Matti... and she ran with the idea.

We spent a couple of weekends watching movies like Victor Victoria and Connie and Carla. Matti watched youtube.com videos demonstrating how to do the make up and we carefully planned out our outfits.

The week of Halloween is usually filled with parties. Everyone wants to throw a party, and they want people to attend their parties and so they throw them on different nights. Our stake combined with a few others and we had a dance at the institute building.

Matti was the resident make-up artist, and since she didn't get off work until 8 p.m., and it takes about an hour to do a full on drag face (at least), we were running a bit late. But that's OK. As I've mentioned before, stake dances aren't really my thing.


Making your eyebrows disappear is not an easy task.
I should have practiced my drag facial expressions. Amy and Matti had it down.

We looked fabulous.


 



Savannah, Matti, Amy and me.
I'm pretty sure Savannah was going crazy. Fajita was not amused.

We got home late, stayed up later... and Saturday, it was hard to get out of bed at all. We were seriously considering bagging the whole party hopping thing for a second night, but in the end, we decided that we better just go.

We had more time to get ready on Saturday, so more thoughts about outfits, and some laziness had us changing up our costumes. Amy had to work.

We met up with my friend Brooke and hit up three parties (and stayed for about 20 minutes at each).




Brooke getting in some Risky Business (she got more comments on her costume than anyone).

Dance party at Lori, Leica and Em's.

Cleopatra and Fajita

Probably the manliest face I managed to pull off.


Margaret, Brooke and Matti. We got to this party just after it had been broken up by the cops!

Probably the best costumes - or the funniest - was this guy and his "companion" who were dressed like sister missionaries. They looked better in drag than we did... then again, it was probably because they looked still so manly.
At the end of the night, Margaret showed her true heroism and tried to stop University Parking from towing away this car. Everyone around Provo hates University Parking, and we were all dying at Margaret's antics and sheer determination. She went as far as sitting on the trunk of the car, but the guy was relentless. He was either going to tow the car with her on the back or call the cops. She finally gave up. But it was the funniest, most awesome part of the evening.
Another trip to Ihop, and this weekend was complete!

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