Thursday, April 19, 2018

Some Thoughts On Thinking

It's 4:50 on Tuesday, I have my trunk full of groceries and am munching on some carrots, waiting to turn left at the light. I remember that my husband gets off work at five, and I figure I'm about ten minutes away, so I decide to swing by and pick him up. He usually gets a ride with my brother who both works with him and lives a block away from our house, but I secretly wanted help unloading my WinCo spoils so I change course and head for his place of employment. 

The drive was shorter than I expected and once I'm settled into my regular parking spot I still have six or seven minutes to spare. Before I know it I've got my phone in hand, already a scroll or two into my twitter feed. 

I know I speak to social media a lot here, but it has so quickly become such a huge part of human culture that I feel we didn't ever really give ourselves time to understand it. And it's something so available and simple that I don't think we realize how dependent on it we really are. 

Soap box aside though, I somehow found the frame of mind to set my phone down and look out the window. The view was simple. Some empty cars of course, and empty parking spaces. Then there was a little median spread with grass and spotted with trees and lamp posts. The two trees nearest to me were still leafless and bare, and their branches prickled up and out like cracked glass. The sky was covered with gray clouds and just a few strips of grayish-blue folded in here and there where the clouds parted. 

And I just looked. And thought. And remembered. 

When I was a kid I was always off playing by myself. I would sit for hours downstairs in the toy room playing, imagining, and thinking. Or in the dirt behind our house, digging, building sand animals, and thinking. Or upstairs in my room, drawing, writing, and thinking. I was always thinking. 

And it didn't really matter what about, there was always something new to ponder. A book I was reading, something interesting I had heard that day, exciting events coming up, etc. And being the natural analyzer that I am, I can always break the simplest of things into the tiniest of details to consider. Trust me, it can be a curse at times.  

But now I've grown so accustomed to being surrounded by the noise of technology that I can't walk down the hallway at UVU without the urge to check my phone three or four times along the way. I can't wait five minutes in the car without liking a few posts. I can't even watch a movie without taking out my phone to play a mindless game in the meantime. 

And I think it's taking a toll on my brain. My need to process and analyze and think is being stifled by the bright little screen in my pocket. 

So my goal, once again and always, is to keep that little screen pocketed. Find those minutes throughout the busyness of the day where I can let my mind wander. To consciously remain within the moment and calm the urge to scroll outside of it. 

And I feel like those little moments will count. It's like my Pilates instructor said, "It only takes one conscious breath to come back to center. To become aware of yourself again, of your body and your core. Okay, now take a deep breath and stand on your head." 

Or something like that. :) 


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Curing My Addiction As Taught By Rats

Addiction has been an interest of mine lately. Mostly because I find myself prey to it.

My drug? A Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime. 

It's not the most expensive or interesting phone but it gives me the calling, texting, and app abilities that I need to function in this 21st century world. It just also causes me a lot of trouble because I can't seem to put it down. Other than the obvious trouble of it sucking away my time better spent on work, class assignments, my family, sleep, etc., I think it's also been a large contribution to the growing bulge forming at the back of my neck from being hunched over it so often. 

When I was in my Freshman year of college I grew a sort of hatred for my phone. It was a simple Nokia brand with no touchscreen or smart phone abilities, but that's not the reason I hated it. I hated being attached to it. I hated society's expectations for me to have my phone within vibrating distance at all times, a slave answering to their every beckoning call or text within seconds. So my way of sticking it to the world was to toss my phone to the edge of my bed and ignore it for hours on end. Take that world! 

Years have passed and now my body and mind have grown accustomed to my bionic Android limb. A little too accustomed for my taste.

What to do, what to do?

I guess uninstalling Candy Crush for the umpteenth time might help.

What also might help is to compare myself to a rat.

One time some guy did an experiment called the Rat Park Study. He put a rat in a cage with two water dispensers. One had just plain water and the other was laced with heroine. After some amount of time the rat stopped drinking the regular water, became addicted to the heroine, and drank until it died of overdose.

So he came to the conclusion that heroine was extremely addictive and once you start taking it you'll just take it until you die.

But then he realized that there were some flaws in his experiment. All the rat had been given to do to pass the time was to drink the water, drink the heroine, or stand there and stare into the universe of his cage. So after contemplating the answer to his tiny universe, he had nothing left to do except drink himself into his grave.

So this guy did a do-over.

He put a bunch of rats together this time in the Rat Amusement Park Of The Century. There were toys, there was food, there were games, I mean this place was just loaded with fun rat stuff. And there were two water dispensers, one with just water, and one laced with heroine.

And guess what? No rats got addicted, and no rats drank themselves to death.

Why? Because there were places to see, things to do, and friends to squeak at! There were things more exciting than drinking heroine-laced water.



So I get it.

I need an Emilyn Amusement Park Of The Century.

The question then arises, what makes up my amusement park? This is what I have been working on lately. Building my park to pass the time. Trying to remember what I did before the installment of my bionic Android limb, and venturing out to find new hobbies and toys.

My List So Far: 

1. Read delicious books both for giddy pleasure and to expand my brain muscle.
2. Crochet stuff with yarn both from patterns and as composed from the mess of my mind.
3. Run around the neighborhood in tennis shoes and work out clothes. (Bonus: my mile time is down to 9 minutes!)
4. Contribute to the internet with my blog ramblings
5. Sing sing sing.
6. Hike in the Utah mountains that I've always taken for granted.
7. Walk around with a camera to my eye stealing images from the world.
8. Auditioning for theater things and not getting in, but having fun and hoping for next time.

Writing them down gets me all excited about life again and makes me want to toss my phone to the back of my closet with my flip flops and last semester's astronomy textbook. On silent mode.

Goodbye extra limb, hello Rat Park Study 2.0: Emilyn Style. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Free Samples of Toronto

I'm training myself to write again. It's a good creative outlet, a hobby I really enjoy, and I needed something to do every time my husband stops on our route to photograph the bike racks, fountains, and skyscraper windows. So I figured buying a striped spiral bound notebook that I can whip out of my purse to capture a written version of Toronto's imagery was a better option than counting the shoe-lace holes on my high-tops. 

I also thought Toronto would be a good opportunity for practice because it's something outside my routine. Here's where my English professor's scoffing voice echoes from my freshman year at SUU about how everyone in Utah thinks Utah isn't interesting, and assigns me to create the riveting story behind my microwave, but as my writer's wrist is a little out of shape, I'm starting here. 

So welcome to a little taste of our Toronto trip, as blended through my brain and stumbled out my pen. 

***

The first thing on our list of things to do today was a massage in Chinatown. I have migraines, in case you haven't heard my ravings, and a massage is a popular this-worked-for-my-mom's-second-cousin's-brother-in-law method that I've been getting recently. We couldn't find the recommended shop, and after walking past the 4 for $10 colored t-shirt rack for the third time, we finally decided on a foot massage therapy place. It looked promising because although it didn't mention back massages, there was a picture of a lady getting one on their sandwich street sign. 

The stairs were steep, but the little yellow footprint stickers on each stair at least brightened the stairwell. We walk in, and the small lady who attended us must have just come in from the back, because she still had her purse. 

"You want full body massage?" 

I explained that I had headaches and I wanted a back, shoulder, and neck massage, hoping it would help my case. She led me into the massage room, and laid some towels on the bed to begin. I assured her for the fifth time that I didn't want a male to do the massage please, and she must have had a whole break room full of guys back there waiting for clients because after a few minutes she comes back in herself to do the massage. 

I enjoyed the session, although she spent more time massaging my head than my back or shoulders, and it probably would have felt more comfortable if I had said no to the "are nails okay, or no nails" question, because she spent ten of my thirty minutes thoroughly combing through my hair with her manicure from last week. 

At least she calmed knot in my shoulder quite a bit. Although it still painfully pronounces its presence, I now know exactly where it's at so I can rub it into submission. 

***

The houses and apartments here are adorable. On one street we passed a row of apartments with little fenced, ground-level porches. Some things that caught my attention: 

A large "Master Chef" grill covered with a form-fitting tarp and three or four layers of dirt. The brand name showed through the dirt on the front, and the logo was a little chef with the iconic hat, a handlebar mustache, and a triangle for a goatee. 

Some of the apartments were rented out to small businesses, and they all had "by the Grange" in the title. The "Dental by the Grange" had a sign on the opposite side of the sidewalk with a large pair of faded red lips parting to show two strings of pearls acting as teeth. I got the joke, but the image was less than flattering. 

One house had your typical brown, course, grass-like doormat that read "Nice Underwear" written in black cursive and surrounded by a simple, square outline. 

***

Well folks, the mid afternoon nap is calling me with a force similar to gravity, and I'm not about to argue. While I'm here though, I thought I'd share something I learned from today's writing sessions. It's much easier to write and describe something when I'm sitting in front of it. It's also more entertaining. I didn't have a whole lot more than scattered one-liners in my notebook, and it's because I didn't spend as much time as I needed in one place, really taking in the barbecue, the pearly mouth, or the massage shop. Trying to pull descriptions from cloudy memories is a little frustrating, and it doesn't come out nearly as accurate as if I had taken the time to decide whether the text on the doormat was more Lucida Handwriting or Segoe Script. 

So I'll try taking more time to seep in all the details and let them get a little more crispy around the edges. Golden brown. Sizzling and Juicy. Hmm. Maybe I'm hungry instead? 

Nope, definitely tired. Good nap! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Study of Me

I can be an excruciatingly awkward person.

Technically, seeing as I haven't looked out from the inside of any other mind besides my own, I can't come to any definite conclusions about how mine compares to any other. Perhaps the same hypotheses I come to through my outer observations of others' minds are similar to those made about the exterior of my mind and the plays it enacts with my puppet of a body. That said, take a brief hike with me and follow in the footsteps of my mind for a while. I'll try to lead you through the most meaningful parts, so as to portray it in the most profound sense possible. I can't promise accuracy or correctness. Too many factors.

As a child I was an observer. I was one of those weird kids who for a good thirty minutes would just stare at a group of joking teenagers in the grocery store, a particularly expressive adult at the art gallery, or a restless child across the isle at church. Listening. Studying. Analyzing. Dissecting their character, their motivations, their fears. Taking everything I needed and wanted for my own self, and trying it on every once in a while by myself in front of a mirror to see how it fit. I still do that actually, I've just learned not to stare so much, or to repeat conversations to myself in front of the mirror. At least not out loud.

I'm also shy by nature. Unlocking the door of my mouth to say "Hi, what's your name?" takes a whole lot more key jingling than it should, and any difficult conversation or apology I have to initiate is more than likely a seventh draft, twelve times revised before it goes live. That or it's Lights! Camera! Act...ually I'm going back to bed.

And yet--as I get a lot--I'm an actress? But look, it makes sense. Theater is exactly what every introvert dreams of. Social situations that are scripted, practiced, and choreographed. You know exactly what's going to happen, where to go, what to wear, and people applaud you for it! It's genius, really. Highly recommend it.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I'm that Pinterest-perfect, #SoRelateable, awkward introvert. I enjoy the adventures outside my comfort zone almost as much as I like snuggling back in with a cozy blanket and a good book. And both can be equally comfortable to me at times.

But I guess all I'm saying is that after the door closed in the doctor's office, the phrase "she'll be with you in a minute" hanging in the air, I waited an entire hour by myself in silence before venturing out to find that I had been forgotten, holding back tears as the "she who should have been with me 40 minutes ago" almost talked me back into a migraine, then I thanked her with a smile as if she had done me a favor before calmly walking out to my car like everything had gone as planned.

So, conclude what you will. All I know is that was an excruciatingly awkward situation, and any analyzation, observation, or revision either before or after hasn't seemed to help thus far. So at least now here it is and maybe someone can write a play about it so Emilyn's role can know what she's supposed to do.

Thanks for the walk! I'll leave you to your own mind now. Unless mine is easier for you to navigate, in which case, be my guest! I'm going to bed.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Migraines and My Grains

So this thing happens where I get migraines. To those of you who haven't experienced a migraine, allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine a headache. Now imagine a billion more headaches. Now imagine all of those headaches mushed together into a sea of headaches. Now imagine the Headache Sea Monster King of this headache sea. Now imagine jumping into the headache sea, and being mauled by the Headache Sea Monster King of the headache sea.

This is kind of the image that comes to my mind.


But feel free to run away with your own imagination. Or run away from your imagination because that stuff is terrifying.

Unfortunately, I can't run away from my migraines. Believe me, I've tried. Obviously I don't mean literally running away, but I've been trying a few things to try and rid them from my life and being. I've tried various methods off and on, and maybe I just need more consistency. (What can I say, I'm a short term goal kinda gal.) But currently I've come across a large pocket of motivation, and the current tactic I'm on is a no sugar, no dairy, no gluten diet.

Amazing what one can accomplish when fleeing from a Headache Sea Monster King.

No sugar, I've done that before. For about seven years. No big deal. It was a very effective way to get rid of the chubbiness on my face, as well as master the art of self discipline. No really. If next time someone offers you a free triple-berry chocolate-dipped, Reese's Peices icecream-covered cheese cake you can walk away without even dripping a drool, you're it man. You are IT.

But no dairy, and no gluten? I mean, c'mon guys, I don't even have to name all the delicious things with these listed in the ingredients. But I will.

1. Cheese
2. Rolls

And maybe it'll all be in vain, and none of these things are the levers that control the release the Headache Sea Monster King of the headache sea. (Please please please please please). But, it would be kind of nice to just know, you know? Eat cheese, get a headache. Don't eat cheese, don't get a headache. Easy peasy!

So, to avoid being eaten myself, here I go. Jumping into a different kind of sea. The sugar-dairy-gluten free sea. To see what I can see see see. Lets just hope the monsters here are actually just little baby tadpoles who harmlessly kiss your fingers, make you giggle, then swim away at the slightest move.

Also, anyone with diet or migraine advise, come on in, the water's great!

Happy swimming!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Now Hiring Englishers

I’m an English major. And when this phrase is inserted into conversation of any kind it is always followed by one of two questions. 

"But don't you speak English?" 
or,
"Oh, so you're going to be a teacher?" 

Generally question one is uttered in Spanish while the Latino speaker eyes my hair, skin, and other blatant North American features, and question two is spoken in English accompanied with a dull head nod and pitiful smile.

So in answer, allow me to explain. There is so much more to English than speaking the language or teaching grammar. There’s literature, and monologues. There’s documents and blogs. There's business, there's poetry, speeches and plays. Oh what joy to be found in this English buffet! 

Oh, there’s also Dr. Seuss. In case you didn’t get that from the last paragraph. (Try reading it again, with rhythm.)

So flashback to my Senior year of high school, right? And everyone is asking me where I want to go to college and what I want to study, and my engine spurts to a stop, smoke slipping from the hood, and I realize that I have no idea. When was I supposed to decide this? Where was I supposed to find the answer to this one? So I roll out the drawing board, dump out a new box of colored chalk, and strain to sketch my future. I could try accounting, dental hygiene, social work, zoo-keeping. The list was extensive, but nothing sounded right. Then finally, discouraged, stressed, and covered in hypothetical chalk dust, it occurred to me. Can I study something that I enjoy? I mean, I know I've always liked English, music, and theater, that's obvious. But I can legitimately study those things in college, and do those things the rest of my life, for a living?

It was a ray of sunshine. A hot and gooey chocolate chip cookie. I was as happy as those perfect smiley people on the beach of a coke commercial. 

And recently, I had one of those hard days. Where after shedding my dress shoes and changing into a t-shirt, all that lingered from work were the angry comments from customers, the headache from staring at a computer screen, and the list of things I didn't finish that I'd have to pick right back up the next day. And I end up on Indeed.com looking for other options. 

While scrolling over my search results for "Writing" and "Editor", I found two interesting things. Firstly I found that all the descriptions and responsibilities sparked something inside of me and got my adrenaline going a little bit. Stuff like, "provide feedback and advice to writers", and "develop fresh story ideas and create compelling press releases", or my personal favorite, "Does it rub you the wrong way when there are grammar errors on your favorite website? Do you have passionate views about the oxford comma? Then this job might be for you." 

And again, I found my ray of sunshine. My fuzzy blanket just out of the dryer. I was as content as those darling, giggling babies on the carpet of a Huggies package box. 

And the second thing I found interesting were the qualifications. "Bachelors degree in English", "degree in public relations, communication, journalism, or related field", and "two years of writing or editing experience". 

Oh. Right. Duh.  

So once again I had come full circle for a direct-hit head-smack. That's why I'm going to college. To get a degree. To get a job that I like. So that my employers don't only believe me when I enthusiastically express my love for English--oxford commas and all--but they see piece of paper proof that I love it enough to go through four-plus years of lectures, homework, research, and projects, live through it, and then put myself together and come back for more. 

Er, that's the general idea. 

So I take in a fresh breath of air and replenish my desire to study and graduate the heck out of this subject. 

And meanwhile head back to my job, which is, dare I say, pretty darn awesome when it comes right down to it. Great friends and colleges, plenty of support and consistent training, lots of free food, and several other nifty perks. I really can't complain. 

Wish me luck! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Harlem Shake Shake

Please enjoy this video I made. In total it took me twenty minutes and zero dollars, which explains the watermark in the middle of the screen. I know you were all thinking that it was because I'm being sponsored, but alas, this is not true. It's just free, and the first option on Google when searching "video editor". Also I got a shake out of it, so that's always a plus. 


Have a nice day!