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. 

video

Have a nice day! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Can't You See?

Just, bored. 

Despite my efforts to put down my phone and search for more "real moments", I just spent another hour and a half on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and Candy Crush. Not in that order. Actually it might have been, it all sort of becomes a blur after about twenty minutes. Granted, my "efforts" haven't been incredibly solid or hardly existent. And with the recent surrender of my immune system after a battle with whatever it is that I've won (it involves a scratchy sore throat, stomach ache, and headache. Doctors, do your thing), an entire day in bed didn't help matters much either. I'm a sucker for justification, and an illness was all I needed to pull up the covers, download once again the forbidden apps, and pass the hours one tap at a time. 

It's an addiction. And because I'm ashamed to admit it, I thought that sharing this fact with others would help the matter. So I talked to my husband about it, for starters. But the only thing that changed was that I stopped trying to hide the fact that I was swiping sweets or tweeting tweets. (Actually, Twitter hasn't been a huge temptation for me, I just thought it would go well with "swiping sweets", and it fits the theme. I still don't really understand how Twitter works. It's generally a last resort, after I've scoured the entirety of the rest of the medias) So heck, let the whole world know. I'm going to have to move on to other tactics. Or any at all I guess that would be. 

So, to anyone else out there who has a similar issue and is unsuccessfully trying to quit, call 555-MY-PHONE-IS-EATING-ME-ALIVE. 

Actually, try watching this video. Things As They Really Are 

True, so true. But I like the full talk better, which I read first in a Spanish Liahona, I think, and I was absolutely intrigued, specifically with the fact that one of Satan's tactics is to keep us from ourselves and our lives by getting us to plug in to a lesser reality. THE INTERNET. (Dun dun DUUUN!!!!) 

And that, children, is why the internet is the spawn of Satan. 

Okay, so I don't put it as well as Elder Bednar. Maybe you should just read his version. Truly intriguing, even in English. 

I did do other things today. Like go to work, cook/reheat dinner, and read five chapters and three fourths of the Introduction of Helen Keller's The Story of My Life. Three fourths because, really? You're gonna spoil the best parts of the first three chapters in the intro? This is a published introduction to a renowned autobiography, not a middle school book report. C'mon Jim Knipfel. Honestly. 

Actually he looks like a pretty cool guy. 


Also he's blind, and I've never written anything blind so what do I know. Also he's wearing a pretty spiffy hat, so points for Jim. 

Anyway, speaking of Helen Keller, I thought you might be interested to know that she was actually my idol when I was little. I don't know how I found out about her. I believe my mom actually started reading The Story of My Life to us, Jessica and myself I think, and I became enthralled. I researched her, I read more about her life, I walked around the house blindfolded for half a day to see what it was like, I read and researched Anne Sullivan (Helen's teacher), and Louis Braille (who invented--you guessed it--braille). I also remember meeting with my mom and dad one day and telling them that my goal in life was to become a teacher for the blind and/or deaf, and started learning sign language with little kid books and videos. I didn't get very far with that, and my life goals have been revised several times since that first draft. But anyway, it's always been fascinating to me.   

I still get a little offended every time I hear a Helen Keller joke. But I also laugh because, I gotta face it, sometimes they're pretty funny. I hope Helen understands. 

So I guess this is the part of the blog where I come slowly to a stop off the freeway of my thoughts, and the roar of the engine becomes incredibly absent, and the sleepers yawn awake, and after a few more stop lights I roll into the driveway and bring it all home. 

But I either missed the exit, or I was never on the freeway in the first place, both of which are a problem and require a U-turn, if not three. 

So this might be my foot on the gas rather than the break, but, just allow me this while my GPS is rerouting. As I was reading Helen Keller, I tried to imagine her blind, deaf, and, for many years, mute. You would think the autobiography would easily lead to that kind of conclusion, but reading the way that she describes things, I'm finding it really hard to believe. She writes about herself when she was a child, walking through the garden, examining the flowers, feeling them, enjoying them, and she calls them beautiful. How can she know that? I don't mean that in an accusing way. It's just so incredible to me the way that she sees the world. I will never be able to experience flowers the way that Helen Keller did. Or people, or conversation, or family, or laughter, or mischief, or learning. How did she do that? Like the passionate little girl inside me, trying not to peak through the slits of my blindfold, I yearn to know. 

Then here I am plugging my eyes into a candy kingdom, filling my ears with the repetitive bell and flute theme and occasional "Delicious", desperately trying to burst all the jellies with my finger in 36 moves. 

I won't say I'm an idiot, but I also won't deny it. Maybe that's too harsh. Trivial. I'm being trivial. And what I would give to sit even one hour with Helen, just to see her, and talk with her, and absorb some of her passion, her depth, her strength, her desire. 

Maybe then I'll have the courage to quit. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Don't Get Out Much

My brother told me the other day that no one blogs anymore. Which of course summoned my pride from the depths of my being, chest high and muscles bulging, to chop his nonchalant comment to bits with a machete. Actually, my pride never has to be summoned from very deep. In fact, I don't know if it even submerges much. More like drapes itself by the side of my pool of conscious, one foot dangling in, the other planted on the cement for quick entry into my daily life.

And here we are. If only to subdue Mr. Pride Inside, consider this my silent, stuck-out tongue. No offence.

And wow, has this site collected some dust? Excuse me while I blow it your way through the world wide cobweb. If you must sneeze, bless you. Spring cleaning right here, wowza.

So, what can I say? I've been busy. And if I haven't, I've been otherwise occupied. And if I haven't, I've been sleeping. And, there's my life.

And here is my life.
What is my life?
What is life?
What life?
Life?

That's a deep and inspirational little poem I wrote for you. It's called, "To Life, Live".

An inspirational song just came on my Pandora movie soundtrack station, so that means this post is about to get good. Buckle up kids.

So I work at a call center, doing customer service things. I'm a supervisor now, so I don't spend as many hours on the phone, but I still do take calls, and listen to calls, and listen to the agents take calls, and basically I work a lot with calls.

So today I get home, and my husband is napping. So I figure I'll get some things done that I've been putting off for a while, one of those things being call the pharmacy about my prescription. I dial the number, and ask what they need, which is my insurance information. I put them on speaker so I can look it up on my phone while I talk, but I can't download it from the email, and it won't let me open it, and I finally just let them know I'll drop by once I figure it out. I get it downloaded and readable, and after a few moments of lazy-inspired second-guessing, I put on my sandals, pack my survival bag with all the can't-leave-without-ems (keys, wallet, peppermint chap-stick, a pen, my current book, tic tacs), and start the one block journey on foot. I could have gone in the car, but I was feeling the need for fresh air, and also I thought it sounded daring. It wasn't though, just a little windy, and I had to stop a few times to dump the rocks out of my sandal. I never understood how a rock could get stuck in a sandal. I understand that there are a lot of entry points, but there are exactly as many exits, and somehow those little buggers just would rather hang around just under the bridge of my foot, in just the right tender spot of my sole.

So together with the walking and the rock-dumping, I total two minutes from house to pharmacy. And there I am getting some help from the pharmacist lady. It wasn't a difficult issue. It didn't take long to do, but there were some moments she left me to my thoughts as she worked. During these moments I'm thinking, these things are so much different on the phone. It's another world. There are so many things that happen in person that just don't read when you're on the phone. Like a smile, or happy demeanor. Or being able to see that the pharmacist is working on something on the computer, rather than sitting in silence only knowing that they're doing something when it's verbalized through the earpiece. There are so many senses taken out of the equation that we don't realize make a difference.

And then I'm back on my life rant about how technology is annoying, and gets in the way of life and people, and I make a stand by dramatically ignoring my phone and computer for hours because they lack that sense of real. And then I forget that I was in the middle of a conversation with my visiting teacher, who was expecting a prompt response.

But I really do need more of those real moments. And I've been spending so much time in technology that a walk down the block to the pharmacy gets my adrenaline going. Heck, even taking out the trash has become adventurous.

And last week when I was doing just that, I heard some kids laughing and playing outside, and once again, my think-muscles get going. It brought me back to those spring evenings when we would play and play, our fingers and toes stiffening gradually from the cold, and the light slipping slowly into darkness, afraid to go inside for socks and sweaters for fear of being sent instead to bed. Those evenings would last forever. But maybe it wasn't just that I was still learning to measure time, or my perception of it has been skewed with years. I think instead that I relished every moment with my eyes, my ears, and nose, and filled each minute to the brim, so that few passed by unused, forgotten, or pushed aside.

And that was easier to accomplish with a less-encumbered mind, and three check-box to-do list (eat, sleep, and play), but the concept is the same. So back at it again, untangling myself string-by-string from circle of social media, to weave more color into the canvas of my life.

And hopefully some more blogging material? I've missed this place.

Have a good day, and go play outside.