Monday, July 29, 2013

Adventure

My mom used to always tell me that I expect too much. Out of people. Out of events. Out of everything. And because my expectations are so high, I'm bound for disappointment. I'm kind of used to it, now, since it has always been this way, but I recently discovered why.
It's not really that my expectations are too high, so much as they are unrealistic. That sounds worse, and maybe it is. The problem is that my brain operates like a novel. Every time I think of some grand scheme: an adverture, a party, an encounter with someone, I envision it the way it would take place in literature, and not as things actually take place in real life (especially my dull life).
Use the following as an example:
Towards the end of last week, I kept hearing on the radio advertisements for the Uinta County Fair in Evanston, Wyoming. There was a country concert over the weekend, and it made it sound like it was going to be really fun. I decided that it might be a good time to go check out with my good, always-up-for-an-adventure friend, Megan. So I emailed her some details, and we planned our weekend accordingly. I don't know what I was thinking. I was expecting to show up to the fair and for it to look like something out of Charlotte's Web -- lots of animals, lots of food, lots of music, and most importantly, lots of country folk. Preferably, youngish, male country folk that wear tight jeans and cowboy boots.
I picked out my outfit: gingham checkered shirt, brown boots, and new, blonde hair, and I was going to go and at least have some fun with some country guys from Wyoming. Maybe experience a meet cute. Armed with Megan as my wingman, I really did not see a problem with this plan. That is, until we got there. I guess the main fair festivities don't start until next week, and the "carnvial rides" they advertised were in an abandoned lot, with about 10 pepole there. Tickets were $1 a piece, and you needed four of them to ride a ride! It was ridiculous. Plus, it was raining. We drove around trying to decide if it would be worth it to stop, and when we did, Megan paid $10 for us to ride the Ferris wheel. The only people at the fair were not country at all. They were Latinos and hoodlums (kids with multiple piercings in their lips and looking generally scary).
So much for my meet cute. And so much for my planned adventure.
Luckily, Megan is a very willing partner when it comes to exploring. So we drove out of Evanston and further into Wyoming. We stopped on the road along some farmland, and I tell you what I was in heaven. The only sound was the wind through the grasses and faint lowing of cows. What do I have to do to get a ranch and a cowboy?! Once we were back in our car, we continued driving and within no time at all, we were back in Utah...wait, what? That's right. Without retracing our steps, we ended up back in Utah and in one of the prettiest spots available! It. Was. Gorgeous. Words cannot describe. Nor pictures capture. We sat in stunned silence at the beauty, and found ourselves whispering in other places because it was just too magical a place.
(This is where I would insert pictures, but unfortunately, do not have that capability at the moment.)
All in all, it was an excellent adventure.
But how much better would it have been if two cowboys had walked up to Megan and me and introduced themselves with their lazy, country drawl. They could have escorted us around the fair and maybe bought us a funnel cake. We would laugh at their witticisms and wonder at all the hard work they have to do everyday. Then they could have offered to take us exploring! And we would've gotten their numbers and planned to meet up later and eventually, I'd marry my cowboy and move to his ranch and spend my time writing and riding horses...sigh, it could have been awesome.

I guess we just experienced a different sort of magical adventure.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Arranged Marriage

There's a very formulaic approach to writing a romance novel. Either the main love story focuses on the fact that the two people hate each other in the beginning, only to find themselves falling hopelessly in love; or, the couple has a history where they were soulmates, and then something happens (like misinterpreting a sigh...yes, you read that right: a sigh) after which, they are brought together and realize they were meant for each other after all; OR there is the marriage of convenience. I don't know what it is, but I love marriages of convenience. Two strangers getting married for all sorts of stupid reasons, and then they fall in love with each other and live happily ever after. One of my very favorite movies is called Arranged, it happens to be about two women: An Orthodox Jew and a Muslim, who become friends as they teach together at a school, and as they are both in the middle of having their marriages arranged by their families. There are so many good things about the movie (like, teaching tolerance, and faith, and love, and self-discovery) and I really recommend it, but the thought of an arranged marriage in today's world... So I've been thinking about it a lot. How would I do in an arranged marriage? Can it really work? What if, hypothetically, my Uncle decided he had found the perfect man for me (i.e. the guy is also single...) and we got married for time and eternity, and started our lives together. Getting to know each other after we had aleady made the covenants to be together, knowing that this was no 30- to 90-day trial, money back guaranteed. For a moment, I think I could do it. If all I want is companionship, someone to bounce off ideas and make decisions as partners instead of a single, selfish person. A warm bed with another body in it. Someone who shares my beliefs. If that's all I want, can't that be discovered in a relationship with a person you don't really know? I think it could work. I think there is evidence that it has worked. But is that all I want? Could I give up the surely semi-false idealizations of romance, passion, and common interests? There's a chance those things would be discovered in an arranged marriage, but there's also a chance they would not be there. You might develop a friendship or a companionship, but what if it never transcends to the level that when you're reading a romance, you know it will ultimately reach. Life isn't a romance novel, so there's no guarantee. An arranged marriage would take a lot of work, especially at the first. All relationships take work, but this would be particularly hard. You would have to make sure that you did not come to resent the fact that you had given up your choice, your hope for something better to come along. You would have to work to discover the things that bound you together as a couple that would typically be found while dating. The thought that you had signed on to something so permanent without a way out would take some getting used to, and I don't know if you would get used to it. I've heard the counsel that there is no such thing as a "soul mate" and that any worthy man and any worthy woman that are dedicated to making a marriage work, will have a working marriage. And for the most part, I believe that. I think two truly committed people can stay together and have a relatively happy life together. But is relatively happy enough? Of course, two people who are madly in love don't always make it through. Passion fizzles, selfishness returns, love grows cold. So again: No guarantees. You can't know unless you try...

Monday, July 08, 2013

Empathizing with Jo March

There's a scene in Little Women (the movie -- because I never did finish reading the book) when Amy throws Jo's manuscript in the fire out of spite. Jo is, obviously, incredibly upset, swears that she hates her sister, and after a violent outburst, she falls into her mother's arms and mourns the loss of all her hard work.

I can empathize.

I've been writing for years. (Before I knew about Dropbox.com, and before I used Google Docs - now called Drive.) Here and there, and with not much success, but I like it, and I like the storeis, and even if no one ever read another thing that I created, it wouldn't matter. I like my characters and my banter, and sometimes I get verbiose and I don't care, because I like that too. But last year, when my computer was on its dying days I bought a new one and set the old one aside, and continued writing. I thought I had removed all the files I needed, or in my mind, I thought I had enough of my old computer left in order to retrieve the files I wanted.

But the other day, when I checked my external harddrive, I noticed that there was a whole folder, supposedly filled with several different stories, missing. I wasn't worried. I was certain they were on the other harddrive. But when I checked that, they were missing from there as well. Again, I did not panic. I have a thumb drive that most certainly had the files I wanted... until, no. They weren't there either.

I still didn't worry, because this has all happened to me before. My computer crashed once during finals week, and all I did was pull out the harddrive and insert it into a casing and plug it into a new computer and WALAH! I had access to everything I needed.

I spent an evening dismantling my whole computer (unnecessarily, because they make harddrives incredibly easy to remove) and putting it into a casing and optimistically I plugged it into my computer.

Nothing.

You would think that this would be the time for me to panic, but no. It wasn't a big deal because my dad would be in town in a month, and surely there could be something done in order to retrieve the files. (Why weren't they on the external harddrives like I though!?)

But last night, my dad pronounced the harddrive dead.

Honestly, it wasn't a surprise, but it was a sting -- no, a blow -- that I had been putting off now for months. I am devastated. How easily years of work and toil and creativity can be wiped away without so much as a by your leave! I can't remember the last time I curled into a ball on my mother's lap and cried, but that I did.

Sure, there are expensive processes whereby the data may be accessed. But, if it is $500-800, who can really afford that?

I know how Jo feels. Instead of a spiteful sister, I have a vindictive harddrive. Instead of a fire, I have malfunctioning technology. And instead of having sisters who can help recreate the entirety of the story with all the best parts, I have... my own memory of how things go and no way to actually  recreate any of it.

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