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! 

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.