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*

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