Tuesday, November 12, 2013

6 months til upgrade

My phone broke. I sat on a hardwood floor to play with a baby and the glass shattered. I took it in to the at&t store to see what could be done and they told me I get an upgrade in April. 6 months. And I could just buy a new phone now, but it would cost me the cost of the phone and an upgrade fee. Or I could go to Walmart and get a cheap flip phone type deal or I could watch for someone selling theirs secondhand. And still pay an upgrade fee. Or I could put this sticker over the broken glass and wait it out 6 months, get a free iPhone and pay no fee. Well I'm not exactly rich, and I know what the better deal is. And I recognize the irony in using that "use it up, wear it out" phrase in reference to a smart phone. Luckily I delight in irony.

So I live in "6 months til upgrade".

And then I realized. 6 months is when I finish this internship that, I'm not gonna lie, has been so very hard. 6 months until I upgrade to a job I could love.

And 6 months is when I finish my last final of grad school and apply for my license. 6 months until I upgrade to masters degree.

And my friends keep traveling to places like Hawaii and Europe. But I have class, papers, and no money. My plan for graduation has been to go to Paris for a couple weeks. I also want to visit my cousin, go to my class reunion, and maybe see some other parts of the world. 6 months til I upgrade my travel plans.

And I spend my weekends babysitting instead of doing fun things like single people do, going to movies and parties and I keep watching my friends go do things while I have to babysit because I have to have some sort of income. 6 months until I upgrade my social life.

And my first priority when I am working full time will be to buy a reliable car. The one I have now is fine. It runs, it gets me to places. But I paid $900 for it and can hardly expect it to last forever. I want a red fiat. Who knows if that's what I'll end up with, but i can't even start thinking about it until next spring. 6 months til I can start upgrading my car.

Its going to be a long winter. But there is an end in sight. 6 months til upgrade.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On Scheduling.

I realized this week that when I have a "day off" that means that I spend 11-12 hours out doing things instead of 14. And that every weekend for the past 4 months has included babysitting. Except for conference weekend. And that I have yet to really start my homework despite the fact that I've already taken a midterm in one class and a final project in another. And yet I keep shaming myself for being "lazy".  That assessment isn't done yet. You are behind on notes and homework. You don't spend time with people. You didn't memorize that music. You don't have a job.

I called out sick one day because I couldn't walk and I had a fever, and I felt guilty for it.

No wonder I'm dreaming of Paris.*

*Important side note. I plan on going to Paris next summer. I don't know how. I'll swim if I have to, but I'm going. It's time to go back. 

The thing is, and I said this to the students a year or two behind me in the same program, just because something fits in the hours of the day that you have doesn't mean it fits in emotionally or in any realm that could be remotely considered physically "healthy".

Let's take, for example, the job thing. I was working. Subbing at my old place of employment. And during one of the first few weeks of my internship I went directly from the internship site (a rehab facility that works with parents and children who have suffered trauma as a result of drug use) to the uppity up fancy schmancy school where doctors and lawyers and really really rich people bring their children.  I had 30 minutes to make the transition. Easy since it was just 3 miles up the road, right? In actuality, I had to transition from hearing about severe childhood trauma the likes of which most of you couldn't imagine and wouldn't want to know about to trying to talk to a nasty entitled woman about whether or not her son was going to get into the right private school kindergarten. One of these individuals was direct, matter of fact, and working on coping with her difficulties, the other was coming apart at the seams.  I'll let you guess which was which.

See what I mean about the difference between emotional space and physical availability?

Given that, I have something to say to all you parents that I know. Please don't make jokes to me about how you are a "bad parent".  If you are my friend and not my client, you are probably doing quite well. Also, whatever is going wrong and you feel like you are failing at, take it easy.  Take it slow.  Its not the end of the world. I PROMISE you, children have survived worse.  It matters less what school they go to and when they go than you could possibly imagine. Read to them. They will learn what they need to know. It matters less whether you feed them Whole Foods all natural grain crap or pure unadulterated corn syrup than you could possibly know. Make sure they eat a vegetable every week or so and they will still grow out of everything you buy them. It matters less what extracurricular activity they attend, if any at all, than you could possibly feel. Talk to them about their day, their friends, and their feelings and they will figure out who they are.

Lighten up.
I'm telling you to, because I need to, and I'm not sure if I can.

So I am giving myself a present this week. I'm putting a plea out there. Who wants to play?  Who wants to go to lunch?  Or dinner? I miss my friends. And with a Sunday birthday, I have to reschedule the playing for more appropriate days. Call me. You have my number.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Too far?

Saw this one and kind of liked it. But then I thought "Is this too far?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Before noon

Today before noon I:
-got new tires
-got windshield cracks repaired
-went for a swim
-showered and put on makeup
-did research at the library on campus
-filled out paperwork in HR
-emailed a professor
-met with a professor
-quit my job
-went to the public library to return/pick up books
-made concert ticket arrangements

See how I got a LOT done?
It should feel good to accomplish so much in a morning. Instead, I know that I still have to face the rest of the day. Only instead of facing it fresh and rested, I am facing it tired.

Treatment Plans.
Must eat something.
Really, I just want a nap.
Then again, I always want a nap.

Why am I sitting here typing, there is so much to do!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I want you to know

- vicarious resilience is real
- "the monster at the end of this book" is actually a complex life lesson
-chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Golden Grahams are things I never want to get tired of eating
-Hell exists for a reason and its going to be full.
-"self-righteous" is synonymous with "pride". See previous bullet point.
-the most amazing, phenomenal, and wonderful people I know are those who have made mistakes and are trying to make repairs.
-Heaven will be full of people who have made mistakes. See previous bullet point.
-I'm not sure I understood when people told me grad school would be hard. Beyond thinking work, beyond sweaty work, I think emotional work is the hardest of all.
-I know strong people, I have incredible friends.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Class has begun. Its the last year of grad school. I'm doing an internship, being a therapist, taking classes, singing in the choir, playing the organ at the temple, taking care of the children that I have taken care of for 4 years, trying to maintain friendships and doing some freelance editing for an opera magazine.  Busy.

I'm actually still reeling from the stuff that incited last week's post, and trying to figure if and how those friendships should proceed. The wonderful thing is, there are more than just those men in the world, and I have dear friends who have been kind and supportive in the face of all that. Of course, that only serves to make those saturday men look even more like the braying donkeys that they are. I suppose my conflict over that mess is that I know I deserve an apology, and I know I won't get one. So wanting or hoping is wasted energy.  But I mostly want and hope because I wish they would make some effort to redeem themselves. I want some evidence that they are at least making efforts to be better people. But if I raise the idea of an apology, it becomes a demand or an expectation that may or may not be met, and becomes a sort of currency in the relationship.

I recognize I'm being a total "girl" about this. But isn't that the issue? There's nothing wrong with me being a girl. There's nothing wrong with me wanting or expecting to be treated as an equal. There's nothing wrong with me hoping my friends act like better people.

And it is certain that they know. I'm not playing the silent treatment game or the "I'm fine" game. I made one of them aware of my own feelings about the whole mess. His response was to tell me I was overreacting.

Here are my thoughts: Women are strong. So strong that entire civilizations have made efforts to oppress them.  They have been reduced to sexual objects simply because the men who have come to run the money part of life do not fully grasp the emotional and physical strength of a woman.  I think it scares them.  I think it scares everyone. And little girls everywhere are being raised to believe they are weak.  Because if they know how strong they are, they will change the world. When a woman's ability to be loving and nurturing, to be emotionally strong in the face of soul wrenching and near death pains, to feel and overcome things rather than numbing themselves and dwelling in the filth, when those abilities are given the weight they merit, the love of power and money diminishes. When people find strength in loving, forgiving, nurturing, money becomes the tool that it was intended to be.  An exchange system. Nothing more. And all those men who have spent all those years grabbing at wealth in order to have power and control are left with things. Just things. There is no love in things.

It's the biggest conspiracy of all. So big, people who participate have no idea they are systematically destroying their own daughters. Click on the website and laugh at the brides for sale.  Use scantily clad women to sell hamburgers. Shoot the little girls who are going to school.

We live in a world where this all happens. And the self-righteous American, appalled at some distant story of foreign female torture says "I don't oppress" right up until they turn on their TV, where the only women who aren't portrayed as sexual objects are portrayed as nagging housewives.

Yes, I'm angry.

But there is a real question here. You see, I can talk about how women are stronger because they have a deeper and more pronounced ability for nurturing and loving. If I'm really going to demonstrate strength, if I'm really going to embrace the feminine, if I'm really going to change the world, then I have to find a kind and loving approach to expressing my distaste for their behavior. I don't get to throw a tantrum, I don't get to yell and scream, I don't get to punch them in their noses. Which brings me (finally) to my question.

How do I drive home the point?  How do I appropriately address the fact that their behavior was inappropriate? How do I convey the hurt that they caused? How do I model appropriate behavior? How do I show a better way? How do I demonstrate strength, love, nurturing as the more desirable power? How do I teach them to act differently?

Luna asked a brilliant question. She asked what I wanted. An apology? A gesture of remorse?  I thought about it. What I want is a conversation. I want them to know. I want them to be better.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why are you single?

The Scarlet S.  If you are single, you must be miserable. Why don't you fix that?  Choose to be happy, merry, married? Is it a choice?

People say some thoughtless things. My brother once told me that the reason I was still single was because my standards were too high. People do thoughtless things. Like the co worker that wanted to set me up with her son's friend because she thought I was "accepting" enough to like him despite his prison record. Clearly, these two had conflicting opinions of me. So I could choose to believe one, or choose to believe that other, or choose to believe neither...
Or I could choose to take it in, think about it, weigh it, wonder why someone's opinion would be as it it, accept the accurate, reject the inaccurate, and strive to display a more honest representation of myself.

So the other night I was at dinner with a group of men. Friends. Acquaintances. Seriously attractive, successful, single, Mormon men. Leaders in their communities and congregations. Every time I am with this group of men, I find myself wondering how I get to be the one girl hanging out with them.  We are not in the same league - physically or socially.  I'm telling you, they are pretty. And confident. And successful. And so very everything that I was told in Young Women's I was supposed to want. What are they doing having dinner with mousy awkward me?

That's a question I have never been able to answer.

But on to dinner. The conversation turned to mail order brides. The smart phones got turned on and suddenly, there were the websites.  That's right, among the wonders of the internet are actual websites where you can order a wife. Cataloged according to age, weight, height, location, cost. With pictures!  And profiles! All for your browsing enjoyment. They started passing around pictures, mocking. Making guesses as to what is wrong with each one. This one is probably high maintenance.  This one is ugly.  This one says she wants a family. How ridiculous.

I've never felt like such a piece of livestock. Try to be cool.  To speak up means to be high maintenance or a bitch. Speak up and you are a "feminazi".  Stay silent and you agree with them. Stay silent and you let it happen. Stay silent, and you perpetuate the problem.

Well, how am I supposed to act?

These guys would never actually use the website for purchases. They would never actually participate in human trafficking. They would only sit in a restaurant and mock the women who place themselves up for sale.  What kind of a life must these women have to choose to sell themselves?  What do these men know of their pain?

And these men sat mocking them.

Objectifying is as old as humanity itself. Women are guilty of it. Men have made an industry of it. Women tease with it. Men live in it. Women wish they could be so callous. Men march on buying and selling and mocking. Do you have any money? You can buy anything with money.

Too harsh? Oh that you could have been at that table with me. Perhaps I could have had a friend.  A fellow woman to stand with me, a chivalrous male to defend?  An ally?  I was alone at that table, so you will just have to take my word as to what it felt like. I was the three legged disease ridden cow at the county fair. They could talk like this around me, because I was the most certain loser. I was the hideous joke that best just be understanding because even the women selling themselves were worth more than me.

Do you know what I wanted to do?  I wanted to indulge them.  I wanted to invite them to start rating the women, and then to create a pricing guide. She is a 10?  How much would you pay for a 10?  How much for a 4?  How much for a 2?  Oh good, now that we have this established, let's rate a few more women. Where does your sister fit on this scale?  How much for her?  How much for your mother?  How much for me? Is this still funny? Is this still a joke? Have I taken it too far yet? When do you think you took it too far?

And the world keeps asking them "Why are you single?" And the world keeps asking me "Why are you single?"

Here's the deal.  I'm not going to name names or give identifying information here. That's a level of cruel and shaming that I am unwilling to engage in. But I swear if one of my friends ever goes out with one of them, or shows an interest in one, or so much as begins to flirt with them I will giver her every gory detail.  I will warn her. I will point her to this blog entry and I will plead with her to stay away. My friends are better than this. They are worth more than this.

I was right about one thing. We are not in the same league. I was wrong about one thing. They are not worth more than me.  My brother was right about one thing, my standards are high. But he was wrong as well. I think perhaps that my standards have not been high enough. I may be a chubby, unattractive, poor, and socially awkward 36 year old woman, but I am so far out of their league. As long as we are going to quantify people, and value them on some scale or another, they may as well know: I am so much more.

I was done playing the dating game a long time ago. It was always a miserable awful experience and I was frankly eager for the day when I was deemed "too old" for that scene. But until last night, I hadn't thought to be grateful for my singleness. You see, I can be happier on my own than I could ever be bound to one of them.  I will travel the world, I will serve the people around me, I will be a mother to every child that comes into my office, I will have a closet full of shoes just because I can, I will be responsible for my own salvation without having to drag someone kicking and screaming behind me. I will sing in the choir, I will cherish every friendship, I will eat cheescake, and I will resist every urge to ever question my worth again.

So, in case you want to know my answer.  Why am I single? What I am is happy with what I am. Why should anyone deserve more or less?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Passive Aggression!

This is going to be the most passive aggressive thing I ever do on here. But I have made it clear that I don't play stupid facebook games, and I am never going to take someone (in this case a specific someone) up on the constant invites. Then again, I know they get game "points" for inviting people, so I have a distinct sense that they are using me for a stupid stupid purpose. But the problem is, they are a pure bred product of "minnesota nice" syndrome, which means they only speak and understand passive aggressive. SO I am posting this here, and then I am going to pin it to the pinterest board that they follow.

Because I can play at Minnesota Nice too. (Actually, I can't.  If they follow the pinterest link to my blog, than this post will be entirely too direct and offensive. Oh well!)

Friday, June 21, 2013



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The blogosphere has gotten a little preachy lately.  I had to back out.  Some things have been dead on, some not so much, but it didn't matter. I got tired of reading things and having to analyze whether or not I agree, whether or not someone was spouting gospel truth, personal truth, or some narcissistic brand of truth designed to make them look special.

Meh. Whatever. I'm not going to embrace the irony and preach. This is just me.

I sort of love Big Bang Theory.  Sheldon points out that his "spot" on the couch is his His axis.  His central point for time and all dimensions of space.  Its probably true that its his 0.0.0, its the fourth 0, the time factor, that makes it particularly funny.  At least to me.  But beyond that, I am having to learn that wherever I am right NOW needs to be my  He says that point is what gives him meaning and defines all other points of his life.  I know from basic geometry that with two or more points plotted, I can use the coordinates to find the axis as well.  You can navigate from the north star, or you can use other stars to find the north star.

I'm rambling.  I do that.  It's ok.  Consider that another 0 on the of me.

What I'm trying to say is: This is me. Right now.

I'm angry at people.  The world has some terrible, awful people in it and Hell is real for a reason.  And there is a certain brand of selfishness that will land them there more surely than I can describe to you. I've spent my life surrounded by really good people, and maybe it's skewed my perspective a little.  Because sometimes, by comparing myself to the great people around me, I can judge myself into Hell for things like the occasional swear and the fact that I failed microbiology my freshman year of college. It's just as dangerous to sit and compare myself to addicts and dealers with unspeakable pasts who have committed atrocities against their own children.  I can't compare my to theirs, I can't know where they are coming from or where they are heading any more than they can know me.  But I can be angry.  I can be angry about where their is right now, and I can be angry at myself for my own actions, and as long as I manage the anger and express it appropriately, it's not a problem.  So there. I'm angry.  And that's OK.

I have an incredible roommate who lets me collapse on her bed while she is faithfully trying to work and listens to me scream and rant and cry at the world. Do you know how awesome that is? It's also awesome that she accepts this as part of my now, and knows that its not part of my eternity.  I have another friend who has been where I am and ever so patiently talks me down from my rants. Time and time again.  Reminding me of the important things, reminding me of what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong.  Pointing out the gross bits of me with just the love and encouragement I need to face them, pointing out the nice bits of me with just the gentleness that let's me see them without denying them or passing them off as flukes. Sometimes, I get encouraging texts from people that mean the world to me. I get them when I am in a lousy place, and I don't respond, maybe because I am rotten at social interaction, rotten at texting, or just plain lazy. Or maybe I'm just too emotionally exhausted and confused to do anything more than be silently grateful for the encouragement. Maybe the encouragement gave me the energy to face what I am facing in that moment, and that Olympian task took all that was left. But I really am glad for the support.  Please don't give up on me.

I'm leaving on tour tomorrow.  2 weeks of singing bliss. Sure, my feet will hurt and my voice will feel worn and I'll pay the physical price for what is really not a vacation.  But I've been at his internship for only 6 weeks, and I have to last a full year.  And I already need time away. The choir is self-care.  The choir is where I surround myself with the people whose more closely resembles my own.  It's not about comparing, it's about speaking the same language.  I can't wait.  I'm already there in my mind and heart. I've run away and I'm still not sure how I will manage the return.

I spent 3 hours in paradise on Sunday.  After broadcast I met up with an amazing and precious family from France.  It's been 14 years, and we sat and talked (in French) for hours on temple square. We laughed, we connected, we remembered, and everything was just as it should be. Mostly.  I wished Lucie and Paul could have been there. But the real thing is, there are some (very few) people in this world that you connect with in such a way that time and distance makes such a little difference.  It's marvelously perfectly the same whether you are baking blueberry pie in a kitchen in France or enjoying bread and cheese on a bench at temple square.   There was a particularly remarkable moment when we remembered our beloved Ben Titera, and he made us laugh even though its been two years since his passing.  Well of course he would. He wouldn't have it any other way.  There is something emotionally tasty about being sad and happy at the same time.  It's like the dark chocolate of feelings.  We taste the bitter that we may know to prize the sweet.

I know some really awful people (no, seriously. My guess is most of you who may read this have only seen this kind of person in movies or on TV shows. As the bad guys.) and those awful people are on good paths. I think they are.  I hope they are.  I know some of them are not, and I couldn't tell you which ones are on the good path and which are on the bad.  In fact, there is also a probability that not a single one of them is on a good path.  But I am learning to stop using probabilities to calculate hope.   Probability is a function of expectation, but hope has to stand independent of probability and expectation.  So I hope that they are on paths that lead them to a different Then again, I know some really good people who are on scary paths.  People that I have loved and believed we were in the same space heading the same direction at similar velocities, and then they say something that indicates they are headed somewhere else entirely.  All probability says they are on a good path, and yet they say and do things that indicate otherwise.  Probability is useless when you are talking about individuals and their lives. I don't know if they changed directions or if I misjudged their trajectory.  But it doesn't matter. if people can change directions once, they can do it again right?  I hope so.  I am no longer choosing to believe that people are basically good. I am choosing to believe that they are good and bad and mostly very confused.  I am choosing to believe that people can change directions.

Angry, sad, bitter, sweet.  Paradise, Hell, angels and demons. It's all there, it can all be found from where I am right now.

This is me. Take it or leave it, but don't waste any efforts judging. This is my Find your own

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Adventures in babysitting

That's right. I'm a babysitter. This last year of school means an internship which means I am working for free during the regular week which makes it very difficult to hold a real job. So I babysit. Luckily, as an almost-licensed child therapist I draw a particular clientele and can charge a pretty penny. By "particular" I mean mainly doctors. Tonight I have "the twins", who's mommy and day are some sort of neurophysicists. The marvelous thing about this academic demographic is that they tend to have very smart, very verbal children.  So here is the conversation I just had with twin two-year-old boys:

J: you got a penis?
Me: no.
J: why not?
Me: because I'm a girl. girls don't have a penis.
T: you're a girl? Where's your baby?
Me: I don't have a baby. I'm a girl without a baby.
J: boys have penis and girls have babies. You gotta go get a baby! We'll help you go find one.

Such a kind offer. Luckily they agreed to playing in the backyard instead.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some Days... The Sequel

I decided that yesterday's rebellion wasn't enough.  So today, I decided to rebel further.

Guys.  I skipped class.
I mean, like I planned it, I went to the first class of the day KNOWING that I would make my excuses and skip the next class so I could do homework.

I know, right? The rebellion is almost TOO MUCH at this point. Skipping class to catch up on homework... WHO DOES THAT?

I do.
Or at least, I planned to.

Until an hour into my rebellion, when I got a text from a classmate, asking me how I knew that class would be cancelled.


So much for the rebellion. I mean, I intended to rebel.  I had no idea it would be cancelled. I seriously thought I was being all sneaky and bad-@$$.

And now I learn that I all was really doing was missing something that didn't exist.


Maybe tomorrow I'll try again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some days

You come to a point where you want to do something drastic.
Time to rebel.
Like maybe start drinking. 
Or get a tattoo.

So today I rebelled.
Oh yes.  
Do you know what my rebellion was?

Be prepared for shock. 
Are you sitting down?

I took a bath instead of writing a paper. 
And then.
I didn't squeegee it afterwards.

I know, right.
I'm gonna pay for that later, and I don't even care. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

There's no such thing...

...As too many books. Or shoes. Until you find yourself carrying everything you own up 3 flights of stairs. That's enough to make anyone start questioning their life choices. And fashion choices.

So when the medium size box that I had crammed my Imelda Marcos-sized shoe collection burst between my car and that previously-referenced stairwell, you would think I would wise up. But since today I am apparently the LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, things took a rather different turn.

In other words.

I have a tiny confession to make.

How tiny?  Only this tiny.

What are the odds that I can think to myself "I'll just check for a pair of black boots" and the only pair in my size happened to be $4? And cute. What a day.

Later tonight I'm thinking of playing some lottery.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?

13 years ago someone at the BYU Harold B Lee Library tried to throw a gem of a poster in the garbage. Luckily I had a wise roommate who saw the value in trash treasures and she rescued it and brought it home, to hang in an honored spot in the dining room.

We had no idea who they were or why they were printed onto a huge poster, used and then thrown away like yesterday's bad egg salad sandwich. But we loved them.  And so did everyone else who visited us.  Well, everyone except for one of our very own roommates.  But she was overruled.  

Late one night, we gave construction paper accessories like watches and pet tigers.  The were dubbed  "Out'a SNYC" in a odd homage to the apartment's preferred boy band.  

One day some guy told us they were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Gang.  (Something about the Tall Texan?) I don't know, I'm not from around here and have no idea about the folklore and western history.  I do know that once when I was driving through wyoming, I found a Tshirt with this exact same picture printed on it.  So I bought it.  and some postcards.

Then I moved.  Everyone moved.  The last person left in that apartment was the roommate who hated the picture.  When I moved to a place in clearfield, my roommate was someone who lived upstairs from us at the time of the poster, so she brought it along for me, and it hung at our house.  Then I packed up again and moved to Minnesota for a while.  Upon returning to Utah, I was delighted to find that it was still around.  

Now I'm moving again.  And its probably time to put away silly things and have a grown up house.  
But I'm finding I have trouble parting with my boys.  

So I'm wondering if any of the old gang wants it back?  How much am I bid for this little memory?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Moving and a Stalker*

Oh Friends.  I just reserved the Uhaul.  I'm moving.  Next Saturday morning.  Its funny how much the anxiety kicks in as soon as you make a tiny decision like reserving a Uhaul.  Its not like it cost me to do it.  And I can always cancel.  And I'm only moving a mile and a half down the road.  SO why the racing heart, the sweaty palms, the squeezy feeling in my stomach?

Here's the deal.  On average as a kid, we moved about every four years.  When my family settled down in one place for longer than 4 years, I left for college 4 years into it anyways.  And in college, I lived in the same place for... you guessed it, 4 years.  

And I've lived here for 4 1/2 years.  Which means I've lived here longer than anywhere else.  Not much longer.  But longer still the same.  And I love it here.  I love my ward.  I love my landlord.  I love my cute little house.  

What I don't love is how much it costs, and as a grad student, I really cant afford to be dumping this much rent money.  And I kind of don't love coming home to the alone reminder that there is no roommate, which is mostly peaceful, but also a reminder that I'm paying too much rent.  

SO I'm moving in with Luna.  (You may have noticed that I avoid using identifying features on here, and most often choose to substitute names with Harry Potter names.  Recently I learned even more about the importance of online privacy*.  So I hope she doesn't mind being dubbed "Luna".)  Luna is a fellow Ravenclaw.  And she is delightful and awesome and has become one of the dearest friends I have ever known.  

Part of my anxiety is that living together will screw up our friendship.  But i'm going to try extra hard to behave myself.  And we are grownups, not college students away from home for the first time.  

And I am hoping this is my very last short term living arrangement.  I am a little over a year away from finishing grad school.  As soon as I finish that up, I should be able to get a stable grown up job and buy a place of my own.  

See how I'm talking myself down from the anxiety?

Now.  Who wants to come help me move this couch up a few flights of stairs?

*Oh, you noticed that did you?  Its a little creepy.  Remember this little gem of a post? Well the highlights are: I told him off, he continued to insult in a passive-aggressive feigned kindness, I told him to leave me alone, he asked me out, I blocked him and made my information unsearchable, and so he sent a stalker letter to choir.  This creeper just won't go away. There's nothing quite like having the president pull you aside to give you some "fan mail" and ask if you need help managing the situation.  *shudder* Despite the fact that he's probably not actually dangerous, its still not awesome to feel like unwanted people can find you. I didn't sleep much the night that happened.  The human imagination is a terrifying thing. 

So on a brighter note, moving to a new place where there is another person, and a security gate, should help with that too. Although now this human's imagination is picturing Luna and myself fighting off a crazy person intruder.  And that's actually a really funny picture. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

One-Line Thoughts (and some commentary)

  • Cars should be red the way desserts should be chocolate.  (I just don't see the point in any other variety of either )
  • Hipsters are just so mainstream. (They really are.  Negativity is the new black. If you really want to be innovative and different, try being positive, liking things, and recognizing that if something is popular, there probably is a reason)
  • Bucket list item #34: Win something from one of those claw machines.  (Seriously, if anyone knows how, I want some pointers.  My friend recently saw a Captain Kirk doll in one.)
  • My fear is that you will take my silence to mean I agree with you, so I speak out. (and yet, if you do not speak up, I assume that means you disagree with me. I am a hypocrite)
  • Disagreement and negativity does not make you smarter than everyone. (Back to that hipster thing. I'm bugged by that today.)
  • Don't "dance like no one is watching", dance like the whole world thinks you are beautiful. (The number of so-called inspirational quotes on pinterest makes me wonder how we really define inspiration.)
  • God never asked you to sing well, he asked you to sing. (So quit telling me you can't sing church congregational songs. Its church, for heaven's sake.  If someone there is judging you, they are the one who is going to Hell.)
  • It is easier to research subjects that you can remove yourself from than it is to honestly research yourself. (I would just about give up a limb to be writing a research paper instead of a reflection paper on my "inner couple".
  • I believe that deja vu is God's way of telling me I'm in the right place.  (Or on the right path, or making the right choice.)
  • If my coping mechanism is going to be a new pair of shoes every time I have a hard day, I am going to  need a bigger closet. (And Target is going to have to have more clearance sales)
  • The more I see of the pain and hurts in the world, the more I am astounded at the resilience of the human spirit. (And as long as I focus on the resilience of the human spirit, the more hope I have for the future.)
I can't give the details of my life anymore, I can't speak of the things that used to send me to the keyboard to write through my thoughts and emotions.  The closer I get to practicing, the more generic this has to be.  But I will maintain it.  I may eventually make it private, I may eventually become so limited in my posting that you won't remember I am here.  But I will be here. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sights to See and Tours to Take

Oh my goodness I want to go to Paris.

Seriously.  I have always had dreams about going back, but the last few nights, I have actually had repeated dreams where I went back for just one day, or 6 hours, and I was sitting in a train station deciding how to spend my time the very best way possible.  And all I could think was "I have to get to a pastry shop."

And I know these are just dreams because if I were awake I would be able to access my List.  That's right, I have a List.

The List is of the things I would do in Paris, in order of priority.  And my List might not be your List, but I have probably put more thought into my List than most people do, so take what you can from it.

Priority #1 (this one is purely mine, and no one else is under any obligation to repeat it.)
Give away a Book of Mormon on the train.
I know, its the old missionary thing.  And when I went back to Paris after my mission, I did it at the request of one of my traveling buddies who had brought along a Book just for that purpose.  And it was a beautiful experience.  I'm not saying I'm going back to re-live the mission or try and pretend I'm still wearing that beautiful black nametag.  But its a perfect way to remember why I love the city and the people, and to be grateful for the experiences I had there.

Priority #2
Take the Night Bike Tour
I have never done this, but I have heard that it is the best way to see the city.  There is a company that offers bike tours of the city. You hit the major sites and enjoy the city from above ground rather than taking the trains underground.  And my favorite parts of the city are the parts in between all the famous sites.  Paris has a rhythm and a life to it that is so beautiful.  As a missionary, a member once took us on a night tour of the city in her car, and it was the only time I got to see the City of Lights when it was lit.  So I dream of returning to take the Night Bike Tour.  Incidentally, the rumor is that the best tour company for this is the one that does Priority #3 in the middle of their night bike tour. (Bikes are provided)

Priority #3
The Bateau Mouche
Its a boat tour of the city.  You see all the major sites, including the view of the mini Statue of Liberty in front if the Eiffel Tower.  You see Notre Dame, the Concierge, the architecture, all the good stuff, in about an hour. I was hesitant about taking this tour as a missionary, because I figured a boat tour was a big waste of time, but the elders insisted, and it still stands out as one of my favorite Paris experiences.  Grab a jambon-fromage baguette and sit on the top level of the boat and watch Paris go by.  Its beautiful.

Priority #4
The Musee D'orsay
You've heard of the Louvre.  You can name one (maybe two) things that are there.  The Mona Lisa.  The Winged Victory.  The Winged Victory is better than the Mona Lisa.  The print of the Mona Lisa that your fifth grade teacher showed you is probably bigger than the actual painting, which is crowded by tourists and generally boring.  Seriously, you've seen it before.  The real experience everyone should have is to see the impressionists.  Which is why the Musee D'orsay is what I recommend.  You know how starry nights is pretty and all?  In real life, when you can see the textures and colors, it feels like the whole sky is moving.  That painting is poetry in motion.  And Renoir's shadows and Seraut's pointilism are phenomenal in a way that no print can capture.  And Degas. Sigh.
Beyond artistic considerations, there a practical reasons to choose D'orsay.  It's less crowded, cheaper, and if you are on a limited schedule, get the discounted rates for the last hour of the day.  You can actually see a lot there in one hour.  At the Louvre, it will take you an hour to figure out the map, wandering past thousands of giant realist paintings of religious scenes that you don't recognize.  An hour at D'orsay an you will have seen all of the artists I mentioned above, and you will have seen some of their most famous works.

Priority # 5
The Catacombs
I know it sounds grim, but its really quite amazing.  Paris is built on layers of swiss cheese.  Under the city there are metros, under the metros there are catacombs, and under the catacombs there are natural reservoirs of water (like on Phantom of the Opera).  Yes, you are walking through dark underground tunnels filled with dead people.  And all I really have to say about that is go, look around, and imagine how crowded that place will be at the resurrection.

Priority #6
The Opera Garnier.
I wish this was farther up on my list, because its my favorite place in the city.  But its not purely because the other things are either things I haven't done or they are more efficient tours.  But the Opera Garnier is a museum in and of itself.  If you go last minute, you can get cheap tickets (student or tickets others have returned) and sit in a box and watch an opera at the famed house. Right now, they happen to be doing Wagner, Rheingold.  But even if you cant go for a performance, go for the tour.  And bring me a souvenir.  The only thing I can compare to that tour is the library of congress in DC.  Its moving just to be in the middle of that much beauty. I love this place.  Love it.  Love it.

Priority #7
Climb the Arc de Triomph.
If you want a view of the city, this is the view to get.   I still have never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower because guess what, from the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can't see the Eiffel Tower.  From the top the Arc you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Couer, Notre Dame, and most fascinating of all, the traffic on the roundabout.  Statistically there is an accident every 5 minutes.  And I think the stats are a little thin.  The cars are going every which way and its mesmerizing.  In fact, what I really recommend is that you start there, take the tour and go to the top, then finish off by walking the length of the Champs Elysees.  And bring money.  This is the touristy shopping fun.

Priority #8
Find a Market
Go to the Latin Quarter or the area around Montparnasse and visit an open air market.  This is the non-touristy shopping experience.  The rotisserie chicken sold off the back of the trucks in these is the second best thing you will ever eat.  This first best thing is the baby potatoes they cook in the grease drippings from the rotisserie chicken.  And these markets aren't just for food.  Its like the Farmer's markets in the US.  Homemade crafts, clothes, jewelry, the fun never ends!
Whatever you do, if you are the artists square market by sacre coeur, do NOT let some "artist" bilk you out of money when they cut your silhouette or draw your picture without your permission.  They will have some story about feeding their family or expensive paper.  Wave your had at them, shake your finger at them as rudely as possible (seriously, its not actually rude to do this in France, so be aggressive) and walk away. If you like their work, offer them a couple dollars, but do not pay what people are asking.  Markets are for haggling.

Well now that I am thoroughly homesick, I shall leave you with that list.  I could come up with more, if I knew I had a few weeks, or I knew what season I was going to be there again.  At Christmas there are entire market villages set up in city squares and in the winter there is ice skating at the hotel de ville.  In the Spring and summer, the parks are the perfect place to sit with an ice cream and push the little boats around the ponds and fountains.  I'm going back. Someday. I can't think of anywhere I would rather be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

For Laura (and anyone else lucky enough to visit Paris)

I am finding there is too much to say in one facebook post about what to see in Paris, so consider this the reference list. It could officially be entitled:

Nancy's Official Guide (and accompanying unofficial commentary) to Visiting the Greatest City in the World and Getting the most out of the experience so you can love it like me rather than just being able to say "yeah, I've been there" 

Or more succinctly:

Nancy's Paris Advice

I shall break this up into manageable categories. Installment one is on food.

I recommend that people do the fancy eat-in-a-French-restaurant experience just once.  It is marvelous.  and expensive.  And the server wil bilk you out of every penny they think you have.  Do not order a croque monsieur here.  That's just an expensive grilled cheese sandwich. Order something like boeuf bourgingon or some other expensive dish you recognize from watching Julia Child.  Go all out, run up a tab, and really experience it. Just once. Its fun if you go in knowing that it will cost and it is an experience. Chew slowly and really taste the food.  But under no circumstances should you ever return to the states and chew slowly or really taste a McDonalds hamburger.

The rest of your trip You can eat food that is as good as or even better than the fancy restaurant stuff if you follow one simple rule. Eat like a Parisian.  Find a Boulangerie (bakery) and grab a croissant for breakfast. Try the pain au chocolat (thats a croissant with chocolate running through it) or a croissant aux amandes (croissant with almond paste baked between layers....mmmm decadent) or, my personal favorite, a viennoise au chocolate. That's a soft milk-bread with chocolate chips in it.  actually, you could look for pain au lait (pan o lay) which is a sweet soft bread that will change your life.

For lunch you should find another bakery and ask for a baguette avec jambon et fromage. Its a ham and cheese sandwich. Don't gawk at the simplicity.  The French credit themselves with inventing food, and after eating there for a year and a half, I'm inclined to agree.  The more simple, the more you get to taste and cherish the flavors and appreciate what is really happening with your food.  (Think of it this way: Who are you more impressed with, the self-made simpleton who comes from nothing but succeeds at life or the silver spoon who makes it on daddy's dime and inherits the trust fund as well as the jobs?) Yeah, that's what I thought.  We love the underdog.  Think of basic ingredients and ideas as the underdog.  Anyone can make a perfect cut of steak taste decent, but there is art in making a ham and cheese sandwich that really shines.

While we are at it, little street corner cafes are the place to try that croque monsieur.  And don't underestimate the street vendors with crepes and waffles (gauffres).  get them filled with something delightful. You can't go wrong.

Now, Paris is a very ethnically diverse city, so I recommend a not-so-French meal once as well. (You know how ethnic food in America is really a blend of American and whatever other ethnicity?  Same thing in France.  Its that ethnicity mixed with French influence.) Look for middle eastern men selling something called a "Grec".  Its a hard French roll filled with lamb and onions and cucumber sauce then crammed with french fries and catchup.  You will feel your heart slowing down after about halfway through.  (Health advisory: Never, and I mean NEVER, eat more than one of these in a week. Never.)

Go to a grocery store.  Monoprix is the equivalent of Target and Carrefour is the equivalent of Walmart.  Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for little corner markets.  In the grocery store, find the cheese.  Fromage. France has over 400 varieties.  I recommend: Caprice des Dieux, Tomme Noir, colommiers, and emmental. In the cheese section you are likely to see some sweet old french lady selecting cheese for her next meal.  The most authentic french adventure you can have will be to say to her "Bonjour, je suis american.  Je voudrais gouter un bon fromage.  Lequel fromage recommendez vous?"  (bo-joor. je soo-eez american. je voo-dray goo-tay uh bo fromage.  Le-Kel fromage recommend-ay voo?)  Congrats.  You just said "Hello, I am an american. I would like to taste a good cheese.  What cheese do you recommend?" in a lousy accent.  The old French lady will be delighted that you are trying to speak her language and that you are doing more than taking pictures of the eiffel tower, and making an effort to really experience France.  She will probably respond to you in English that is as bad as your French.  Here's the best kept secret about French people.  They will give you the shirt off their back if you show you are making an effort to appreciate the things they love.  She will probably give you two or three to try.  She will show you how to choose the best cheese, and she will probably recommend which wines and fruits to pair it with.

While you are at the store, pick up a few other things that look interesting.  Cookies (pims, with pear in them. Two words: culinary orgasm) or candies (even the cheapest chocolate will ruin hersheys for you), cereal (pleaase get chocopics and send me a box) and orangina or fruit juices (look for peche-framboise- peach raspberry).

next up: sights to see and tours to take.