Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When the world becomes your playground

I wouldn't say that travel is one of my passions—maybe it would be if I was loaded and spoke all the languages—but I do have a desire to see as much of the world as I can with my own eyes (this includes the Shire/Rivendell, Narnia, and Hogwarts, in that order). Even if it's just so I can say "I've been there!" whenever said place turns up on TV or casual conversation. Even if I only spend a few hours there. This world is huge and interesting, and as much as I love going somewhere via the books I read and the movies I watch, sometimes you've just got experience something for yourself with all five senses.

I didn't travel much as a kid—we were very much a Lagoon and/or camping family—but that's changed in the past five years or so. I've come a long way since the days I would tell my dad "anywhere east of Utah" whenever he asked us where we wanted to go on our next vacation. A lot of my bucket list places have been checked off.

In the U.S., that is. Fortunately, the U.S. is big enough to keep sightseers busy for a while, but eventually you're going to want to expand your travel area. Plenty of things were stopping me from stepping outside U.S. borders, but the main thing was that I didn't have a passport. Money, language/cultural barriers, and lack of travel know-how don't matter if you don't have the golden ticket required to leave your home country.

With no real need to travel outside the country, I put getting a passport on the back burner. (That's me in a nutshell—avoid wasting effort on something until it becomes a relevant issue in your life.) But it made me sad sometimes knowing that I couldn't just hop on a plane and fly somewhere on a whim. (What if someone offered me an all-expense-paid trip to Europe one summer? If it happens in Gilmore Girls, it can happen in real life, right?) I would hear people talk about their exotic travels and wonder if I would ever get to do any of those things. Would I ever eat authentic Italian food, go on a cruise to the Bahamas, or see any of the sites from the books I've read? Until I hunkered down and took the steps necessary to secure a passport, I would always be somewhat limited in my dreams.

But then it finally happened—a family vacation was planned that would require a brief amount of time in Canada. Who cares if Canada is the least "foreign" country for a United States citizen to visit? I had the nudge I needed; the effort required to get a passport was now relevant to my plans for 2018. 

The process turned out to be much less of a hassle than I expected it to be, and, a few weeks ahead of schedule, my passport arrived in the mail.

As I held that little book in my hand, it was like the world opened itself up to me. I was no longer "stuck" inside one of the biggest countries in the world—I had what I needed to go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted, whether it was a meticulously planned trip or something spur of the moment.

The world is now my playground, and I can't wait to start playing in it.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

On reading a series that's already finished

Since the day I was old enough to read chapter books, I've been a series reader. I don't think I even started reading stand-alone novels outside of school regularly until after I graduated from college.

It started with the Boxcar Children books. I abandoned those early on because of a specific writing quirk that bugged me (a very early sign that I was meant to be an editor), and moved on to the Baby-Sitters' Club Little Sister books, then the "grown up" Baby-Sitters' Club. Then it was all the Mormon fiction I could find (Work and the Glory, Tennis Shoes, Children of the Promise, etc.), and eventually I wormed my way into fantasy.

For an avid reader, series are a special kind of refuge because you get to spend more time there. Which means more time to develop love for the worlds and characters and less time agonizing over what to read next.

But all of these series shared one drawback: none of them were finished (except the Narnia books, but I read them over several years, so it was like I had to wait for new books). The Baby-Sitters' Club managed to put out about a book a month for a while, but everything else required a much longer wait. It was years before I found out how the Steeds got to Utah. The Tennis Shoes adventures still aren't done. I can't fathom what it would be like to read all the Harry Potter books for the first time through without experiencing any of the years-long theorizing that happened between book releases. I've accepted that nothing I know about Brandon Sanderson will ever be final until the day he dies (hopefully at least 50 years from now). And the only reason I haven't read Patrick Rothfuss yet is because I don't want to join the angry horde of fans waiting impatiently for book 3.

It's a joy to always have a book to look forward to, it really is. But to be able to blow through an entire series with no pauses between books? It wasn't until recently that I realized I didn't know what that was like.

I've attempted many already-finished series, but haven't committed to most of them (several were written by authors whose first name is Terry—perhaps that's my problem?)—until my dad introduced me to the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. I finished the first book and moved right on to the next one. I finished another one and thought, "Man, it would have sucked to have to wait to see how that twist turned out." In the back of my mind I kept thinking I would take a break and catch up on some other books—because that's what I've been forced to do with every other series I've enjoyed—but I didn't need to. For once I didn't have to be patient. I didn't have to work hard to remember things. It was like binge-watching a show on Netflix, or eating two marshmallows right away without suffering any consequences.

I'm not about to jump aboard the "I'm never reading another series until it's completely finished!" train, but it has been a delight experiencing this particular reading pleasure. Two thumbs up, would recommend.

Head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more book talk.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

6 things I love today

It's well documented that I think Valentine's Day is dumb. That it causes unnecessary stress and depression, that it does nothing that birthdays and anniversaries don't already do, that it's ridiculously cheesy and commercialized, and—most egregious—that it has the worst candy.

But in my old age, I don't have the energy to channel my annoyance for dumb holidays like I used to. It's easier to just roll your eyes and roll with it. (Just getting started on the puns, here; you've been warned.) I've made huge progress on Halloween—thanks to having adorable little people in my life again—so maybe it's time for me to embrace Valentine's Day and all its nauseating pink-and-red gushiness.

OK, maybe I'm not ready to go all in just yet. But I do love some things, so I'll give this celebrating-Valentine's-Day-with-some-sincerity experiment a try by acknowledging what I love today.

1. Punny Valentines

I've been collecting my favorite Valentine cards throughout the day. Some are new, some you've probably already seen before.

The look on Ron's face really takes this one to the next level.




This one's for you to use, Mom.


Some editing humor for you.



The next one's not a Valentine, but I do love Calvin and Hobbes, so...



2. Cookies and coworkers

Last year when HR came around to hand out cookies, I got skipped. When one of my coworkers found out, he said "Not on my watch!" and made made a beeline to Harmons. He came back 20-30 minutes later with a box of highly superior cookies. I shared with the rest of my department (saving plenty for myself, obviously), who were all outraged on my behalf, and the whole thing turned into an impromptu department party.

This year, I was not skipped. And to make sure I wasn't skipped, one of my coworkers had her eye on the HR lady the whole time she was in our aisle.

The lesson in all this: get yourself some coworkers who are deeply invested in making sure you receive baked goods.

3. Love songs

I'll just own it—I love love songs. I may or may not have a playlist ready for days like this.

4. The Olympics

I prefer the Summer Olympics, partly because there are no other sports competing for my attention at that time. But I've still been trying to catch a lot of the action of this year's Games. I love becoming a temporary expert on random sports, cheering on my country, and watching people live their dreams. There's nothing like it.

5. Pizza

At some point, pizza became my traditional Valentine's Day dinner. I believe it dates back as far as 2010, when Kin and I were both in college. We made pizza and watched Gilmore Girls. The perfect way to celebrate Galantine's Day, in my opinion.


Clearly I was in charge of the toppings. Those are all of my favorites right there, with none of the boring, overused toppings like pepperoni and sausage.

Tonight's pizza was barbecue chicken with bacon, onions, and something spicy. It was delicious for a frozen pizza, and I ate the entire thing by myself, thank you very much.

6. My family

But Valentine's Day isn't supposed to be about the love you have for things. (Although I do enjoy having things.) It's about the love you have for the significant people in your life. And there's no one more significant in my life than my family. These are the people who get me, my closest friends, the weirdos I enjoy hanging out with most. 

I think I've shared most of the family pictures I have already, so I'll just leave you with our family's most recent addition, nephew #4.

Conrad does not approve of this pink burp rag.

It gets even better when you zoom in.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

How Thomas S. Monson shaped my YSA years

There are a lot of ways to chronicle your life, from simply keeping track of ages and dates to lumping experiences into categories like "the middle school/junior high experiment" and "the years I lived in a cheap college apartment."

Leaders have a way of characterizing the time period they lead during as well, as we've seen in the many tributes to President Thomas S. Monson over the past week. I remember a little bit of the Benson and Hunter presidencies, but most of my life can be sorted into either the Hinckley years or the Monson years.

Gordon B. Hinckley was the prophet of my childhood, and is still my favorite general authority of my lifetime. His wit, wisdom, optimism, and down-to-earth work ethic was a backdrop to my life as I rode the crazy roller coaster of teenagehood and early college. "Forget yourself and go to work" repeated itself in my mind often, and the explosion of temples throughout the world was more of a guessing game of "where will we go next?" rather than the unprecedented miracle the generations above me saw it as. 

It was an exciting time to grow up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And every time I hear Pres. Hinckley's voice I feel safe in the way that being back in my childhood home makes me feel safe. 

But if anyone could replace this man as a leader, it would be Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of my YSA years. His influence on my life is right up there with Pres. Hinckley's, mainly because of his stories and charisma. I loved hearing him speak even when I was a kid who thought General Conference was something to be suffered through so I wouldn't have to put a dress on and go to church (a price I was more than willing to pay, might I add).

But the biggest impact he had on me personally can be summed up in one phrase: "find joy in the journey." 

Pres. Monson gave his "Finding Joy in the Journey" talk in October 2008, after being president of the church for less than a year. I remember appreciating it, but, like with most conference talks, I had mostly forgotten about it after a few weeks.

Months later, I was in the middle of a rough patch in college when I asked my dad for a blessing. I was tired of school, tired of college life, tired of singles wards. I longed for the day when marriage and/or graduation would put an end to it all.

But Dad's message to me wasn't how to get to the destination I sought; he merely reiterated Pres. Monson's admonition to find joy in the journey. That time, the message stuck. It's something that's been on my mind a lot as I've jumped onto the completely different roller coaster of young adulthood.

I wasn't always happy to obey, but looking back, it just might be the single most important ideal I strived to live by during the past decade. Everyone talks about Pres. Monson's ability to reach "the one," which could mean anything from dashing to a hospital to visit someone about to pass through this life to hopping on a plane to Germany to visit someone who needed attention. But even for those of us who didn't interact with him personally, he knew how to reach us.

For me, it was one conference talk. Well-spoken words can have just as much of an impact as an act of service. I had no idea at the time how much I would need that counsel, but it's subtly shaped the way I live my life during my young adult years.

Thanks for sharing everything you had with us, Pres. Monson. And for wiggling your ears.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 books: The year I reread everything


2017 wasn't a bad year, but it was a hard year. My 2017 book list reflects that. I didn't seek out a lot of challenging reading because real life was challenging enough. From my books I just needed guaranteed happy endings and/or a guaranteed escape into another world. Fantasy series fit the bill perfectly, which is why I did so much rereading this year.

A lot of readers don't believe in rereading. Which I get—reading all the books is already a hopeless goal, and rereading something only sets you back.

But rereading books is worth the sacrifice. Rereading has allowed me to reconnect with the books that made me an avid reader in the first place. And when the book is good, no two reading experiences are the same—good literature grows with you.

That being said, I still had more "first reads" than rereads this year. And I never did get around to reading Lord of the Rings again, despite best intentions. Next year.

But before I set a plan for 2018, let's talk about what I read in 2017.

Goal: 52 books

Books read: 78

Books I didn't finish: 11

Pages read: 29,969, which averages to 384 pages per book. I read a lot of chunksters this year. Three were over 1,000 pages (thanks, Brandon Sanderson), and 20 were over 500. If I had limited myself to more normal-sized books, I might have hit 100 books again. But where's the fun in that?

Ratings:

  • 5 stars: 20
  • 4 stars: 28
  • 3 stars: 27
  • 2 stars: 3
  • 1 star: 0

First reads: 56

Rereads: 22

Fiction: 59

Nonfiction: 19

Books by female authors: 50

Books by male authors: 23

Books by multiple authors: 5

Longest book: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, 1243 pages. Not the longest book I've ever read, but it's probably in the top five.

Shortest book: Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments by Jeffrey R. Holland, 37 pages. My bishop recommended this one a couple times, but I have to admit it's not my favorite Holland thing.

Favorite book, fiction (besides Harry Potter, obviously): Picking just one favorite book is a monumental challenge for any reader, but it gets easier when you find that special book that was written just for you. For me, that book is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. No other book has nailed what I want and need from a book like that one has.

But since The Snow Child was my top pick for 2015, I've picked a different book for 2017: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I enjoyed this book the first time I read it, but I didn't love love it until I reread it this year. The Stormlight books are rich and complex, and it's just impossible to grasp everything the first time you read it. Since I was already familiar with the world and characters this time through, I was able to appreciate how masterful Sanderson's writing is. Catch things I missed the first time. He's waited his whole career to crank this series out, and that wait was worth it. This book, and the ones that follow it, wouldn't be what it is without the experience he gained from writing his other books, including Wheel of Time. Rereading this book was one of the most satisfying reading experiences I've ever had, and my love for these characters is very high.

Have I convinced you to give Brandon Sanderson a try yet? Good. Except, don't start with The Way of Kings. Read the Mistborn books first, or Elantris. And then you're going to want to read Warbreaker. Diving into Stormlight first might be overkill.

Favorite book, nonfiction: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. This book was fascinating. I have more than my fair share of days where I just don't want to interact with anyone, but this guy lived alone, in the woods, for 27 years. JUST BECAUSE HE FELT LIKE IT. I just can't get over how crazy and cool that is.

Favorite reread: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Of all the Harry Potter books, this is the one I tend to forget the most. Probably because of the horrendous movie adaptation. So I actually have moments where I can't remember what is going to happen next or that I haven't thought about since my last read—which is a tender mercy, if I'm being entirely honest. This book was once my least favorite of the series, but it climbs a spot in my favorites rankings every time I reread the series. Don't overlook this one; it's great.

Author challenge: After reading What Alice Forgot last year, I wanted to read the rest of Liane Moriarty's backlist. I ended up just reading two—Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret—both while traveling to/from Florida. They're perfect airplane books. Big Little Lies was my favorite of the two.

The great American novel (aka, the book that just begs to be read in a literature class): The Secret History by Donna Tartt. You want to discuss ethics and morality? This book has plenty of fodder for that discussion. Looking for complex characters who make questionable choices? This book has them in spades. Need some good writing? Look no further. Watching the events of this novel unfold is fascinating, disturbing, engrossing—I would have loved to discuss it with a class of pretentious English majors for a few weeks. I finished it almost a month ago and I still think about it a lot.

Best escape: I'm going to risk my reader's credibility a bit and go with the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. This series does what it's supposed to do really well—gives you a compelling love story that's easy to get lost in. Sometimes it's just nice to indulge in an over-the-top romance. #TeamEdward

Funniest book: Any of the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling's humor is the first thing that endeared me to this series. Without it, I wouldn't be the fan I am today.

Saddest book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This was a hard book for me. It's well written and everything, and I appreciated the insight it provides on Korean and Japanese lifestyle/culture, but it's just bleak. Nobody really gets to be happy much. I definitely wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it, but it's not a book I'll revisit.

Most intriguing premise: The Blinds by Adam Sterngergh. I don't read a lot of thrillers, but this one sounded too cool to pass over. It's about a town of criminals—only they've had their memories altered so they don't remember what they've done. Everyone still knows they're surrounded by people who have done horrible things, but it's hard to reconcile that fact with the nice old lady who runs the library, for instance. Lots of potential here, and the book mostly lived up to my expectations.

Book that changed my way of thinking: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. Readers of this blog know I'm an unapologetic introvert. If I have the option of doing something alone, I will, and I'm all the happier for it. However, this book makes a compelling case for banding together in tribes, and Junger's reasoning for why veterans have a hard time returning back to "normal" society or for why depression and anxiety seem to be more of a modern problem actually had me rethinking my "alone is better" mantra a bit.

Pleasant surprise: Be Frank with Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson. Books/movies featuring characters on the autistic spectrum have been pretty popular—and therefore controversial—of late. On the one hand, I get why people are annoyed. It's frustrating when someone tries to take a real challenge or life situation just to shoehorn in diversity or to feature a quirky character. But when it's done right, I love stories featuring characters with autism. I remember having a conversation once with my sisters years and years ago where we were lamenting the fact that we had never come across any characters—books, movies, any medium—that reminded us of our brother. Which is a shame, because my brother is one of the most unique people I know. It's not fair that others should have to miss out. Now, I am NOT insinuating in any way that everyone with autism is the same. I am merely glad that I can occasionally come across a book or TV show with a character that navigates the world a little differently, in a way that's uniquely familiar and relatable.

I probably should say something about the book now. . . . I loved it. Read it.

Biggest disappointment: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull. I enjoyed the Fablehaven series quite a bit, but this first book in the follow-up series wasn't exactly enthralling. A bit of character growth over the original series would have made it a lot better for me, but, yeah, that's not really something middle grade novels aim to deliver.

Most in need of an editor: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani. I adored The Shoemaker's Wife, but this book was not on that level at all. It might have been if there were a few more heavy rounds of editing to clean up the sloppy pacing and underdeveloped storylines and relationships. It always baffles me when an established author puts out a book with so many rookie flaws.

Bookish treasure: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Any avid reader can relate to the plight of wanting to read every book on the planet but having to balance that urge with meeting real-world responsibilities. The protagonist in this novel—a queen!—lives that life in this short satire, and it's delightful.

Book I'd like to see as a movie: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. If they ever finish making the Narnia movies, I want them to do this one last, and bring back all the original Pevensies. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Book I'd love to live in: Gonna have to go with Narnia again. Obviously I wouldn't turn down a chance to go to Hogwarts, but Narnia is more the type of place you go to when you want to relax, you know? Especially if it's early Narnia in The Magician's Nephew before all the wars start: peaceful, pretty, no need to rush through anything. Can I just retire right now?

Book I don't want to live in: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. I love reading about the worlds Sanderson creates, but I wouldn't want to live in any of them. Roshar, the world of the Stormlight Archive, is pretty much doomed in this book, what with the constant hurricane-level storms and threat to humanity's existence. It makes Earth look rather peaceful.

Favorite character: The main reason I love Sanderson is because of his characters. Kaladin is my favorite Stormlight character—and my favorite character of the year—despite how frustrating he can be. (Sometimes, I just want to smack him and send him to the corner for a time-out.) He and I have a lot of similarities, which is probably why my heart goes out to him. Watching him triumph is incredibly fun and satisfying.

Least favorite character: Sadeas, definitely (another Stormlight character). He's the snakiest snake that ever lived. Although *spoiler alert* Moash sucks too.

All the 2017 books (bolded a few more I loved but didn't talk about above):
  1. A Bestiary by Lily Hoang
  2. Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn
  3. Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland by Cynthia Clampitt
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling
  6. American Justice on Trial: People V. Newton by Lise Pearlman
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  9. Garage Criticism by Peter Babiak
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  11. Part of the Family: Christadelphians, the Kindertransport, and Rescue from the Holocaust by Jason Hensley
  12. Faithful by Alice Hoffman 
  13. Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments by Jeffrey R. Holland
  14. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  15. Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery
  16. Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery
  17. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
  18. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  19. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  20. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  21. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
  22. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  23. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull
  24. The Best American Essays: 2015 ed. Ariel Levy
  25. Girl in the Moon by Janet McNally
  26. Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather B. Moore
  27. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  28. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  29. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  30. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  31. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  32. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
  33. Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn
  34. Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn
  35. Divinity of Women by Heather B. Moore
  36. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
  37. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  38. The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
  39. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  40. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  41. Be Frank with Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson
  42. Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
  43. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  44. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  45. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  46. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  47. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  48. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  49. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  50. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  51. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  52. The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
  53. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
  54.  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
  55. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
  56. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  57. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  58. The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
  59. The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
  60. Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
  61. Autumn by Ali Smith
  62. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
  63. Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
  64. The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller
  65. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  66. The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
  67. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  68. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  69. 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories ed. Heidi Pitlor
  70. Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
  71. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
  72. Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
  73. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  74. Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
  75. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  76. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  77. Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn
  78. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Previous years:
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012

If you need more books to consider, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy. Your TBR will explode.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 4

Nov. 22: Errands are just about the most mundane thing you can do on your day off, but . . . I love running errands on my day off. They're much more enjoyable when you're not fighting Saturday crowds or trying to cram another thing into a regular work day.

Nov. 23: It appears that my body likes getting sick the week of Thanksgiving. I'm just grateful it's a cold this time, not the stomach flu like last year. Also, my mom makes the best rolls ever.

Nov. 24: Things were pretty quiet at the Carter household today, for which I was grateful. It was nice to have a mellow day after the craziness of Thanksgiving.

Nov. 25: I've gone through an appalling number of tissues the past few days. I am grateful for the really soft ones; without them, my nose would not be in great shape right now.

Nov. 26: Anything that makes day-to-day living more convenient. Mainly, food that, at most, only needs to be heated up. Essential for sick days.

Nov. 27: My Christmas stuff is up! Except for my Christmas lights, which I cannot find. I'm trying to not let it devastate me too much.

Nov. 28: First day back at the office in a week, and it was a go-home-early day. Which allowed me to finish Oathbringer before my bedtime reading hour, which then allowed me to sleep more peacefully because I wasn't having stressful Stormlight dreams.

Nov. 29: Sometimes it's the simple things. Today I'm just grateful to be able to breathe out of both nostrils. At the same time.

Nov. 30: Today was rough. When the long list of things was done, I sat on the couch, in my pajamas, with some ice cream, and watched While You Were Sleeping. John Wayne was tall.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 3

Nov. 15: We're doing this writing contest at work. We each had to draw two "character" cards and two "scene" cards from a deck of prompts, and I've been trying to come up with a brilliant story based on my cards for a month. It's intimidating when you're competing against a team of professional writers; I at least wanted to try to hold my own.

Well, today I decided to just sit down and write and see what comes. And somehow, a story came out that I actually kind of like. It may not be brilliant, but if nothing else, I'm proud of that closing line.

And, here's another quote overheard at the office: "I'm a photographer. I'm literally a professional creep."

Nov. 16: I love burgers, but I'm not great at making them. Restaurant burgers always taste better. But today I made a burger from Home Chef, and it was delicious. I love food subscription boxes.

Nov. 17: A guy from Pixar came to do a creativity workshop with us today, and it was really good. Plus, he looked and sounded just like Adam Brody—a nice perk. (Readers of this blog mostly likely know Adam Brody as Dave Rygalski on Gilmore Girls, the best boyfriend on the show, IMO.)


Nov. 18: BYU's football season is almost over. The torture will soon end.

Nov. 19: After hearing my family's report of Elder Bednar's visit to their stake conference and watching the Face-to-Face with Elder Ballard and Elder Oaks, I am extra grateful to have apostles leading The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These guys aren't the old, out-of-touch, conservative white guys the world tries to make them out as. They dedicate their lives to serving people all around the world, and they know what's going on, both inside the church and out. And because they're so good at recognizing the spirit's promptings and acting on them, their counsel often feels deeply individual. Their words are not just words; they are inspired by wisdom and love. We're really lucky to have these men as our leaders.

Nov. 20: Construction on I-215 is finally done. There wasn't an orange cone in sight today. #blessed

Nov. 21: Today is my Friday. That makes me so, so happy.