Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Glad for an unexpected reason

The signs are all there: the kids stopped coming to the park where I like to take my lunch breaks; the sports section of every newspaper talks about nothing but football; pictures of freshly groomed kids keep appearing on my Facebook feed.

Proof that Tiffany was in fact taller than me at one point. (Preschool)

School has begun.

Two things: those are skorts, not a skirt (wouldn't want to abolish the tomboy reputation I've established), and Tyrel was the cutest little boy ever. (5th grade)

Except, one thing that usually accompanies this time of year hasn't appeared yet: the tug at my heart and slight feeling of envy. For the first time in many years, I'm actually glad that I'm not one of the many starting school. I'm glad I don't have to figure out how I'm going to cram classes, work, church, and sleep into a too-small space of time. I'm glad I don't have to adjust to a new sleep routine.

We must have felt pretty safe at our high school if we could show up on the first day with Care Bears and duckies on our shirts and not worry about getting beat up. (Senior year of high school)

Sure, there are things I will always miss about being a student, but for once I'm glad I just get to sit back, enjoy the changing leaves, and watch some football.

Technically not a first-day-of-school picture, but it was the first week, I think. (Sophomore year of college)

Good luck to those who aren't so lucky.

Oh, and words can't express how much I love J.K. Rowling:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wrapping up summer

The past few weeks I've been checking off item after item on my end-of-summer to-do list. Here are a few:

The Union Unicorns won the YSA regional softball championship. (Okay, so it was the losers' bracket, but we're still sort of champions.)

After playing softball for three hours straight, I took a cold shower, and then it was time to move Shannan back home.

Good timing too, because USANA's International Convention was a few days later. At the end of those 12-hour days full of super-charged energy, there is nothing better than going home to pure solitude.

Between our Associates' insane love for our blender bottles and the dinosaurs roaming around, I almost didn't make it out alive. It was a close call.

Some extra freelance work prompted me to spruce up my wardrobe a bit, so I took advantage of some back-to-school prices. (Summer may officially be over by the time the rest of my clothes ship, though.)

And then, of course, there's the trees.

The best thing about wrapping up summer is that fall is just around the corner.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

That week after my iPod thing died

Last Saturday, my commute to the Draper Temple become much less relaxing when (1) I left late, (2) I hit major construction, and (3) my iPod FM radio transmitter (hereafter referred to as iPod thing) broke. I made it to my session—barely—but on the way home I was forced to (1) take the roundabout way home (still hitting some construction along the way) and (2) listen to the radio.

For a few hours, I seriously considered buying a new car with an iPod dock rather than replacing my iPod thing again. That's how important it is to me to always have complete control over the listening experience in my car.

Normally I grumble when I have to go with the more expensive option, but in this case I was actually annoyed that I had to spend $30 instead of $15,000.

I still had to do without it for about a week while I waited for the product to ship, so I had to dust off my radio surfing skills, an art form I was glad to let die. I haven't listened to the radio on purpose for several years, and let me tell you—it hasn't changed one bit.

  • The FM 100 (point 3) guy still pronounces Celine Dion's name wrong (like DEE-on). It bugs me so much I kind of want to bomb his house.
  • I have even less tolerance for commercials than I did before.
  • Soft Sunday Sounds is such a poor substitute for my Sunday playlist. They only pick artists with breathy, bored-sounding voices, and playing something interesting—like a Lord of the Rings soundtrack—is inconceivable for them.
  • And my three presets that still exist are still playing all the same songs. Ones that annoy me (White Flag). Ones that stations were contractually obligated to play every fifth song and that I violently hated (like that Tim McGraw song by Taylor Swift—with the exception of one song, I still can't listen to any of her stuff). And the ones I would voluntarily listen to, but that can be more fun to experience when you have no control over when they're played (Keith Urban is apparently still a big deal).

But the inability to skip songs and avoid commercials was too much for me. So I figured it was the perfect time to try out that list of new podcasts I've been collecting and listen to them on my commute (with headphones. Well, headphones in one ear, anyway). And of course I like most of them, and I'm probably going to have to start splitting my work commute between music and podcast listening now.

Because sitting in silence while I'm driving isn't an option (unless I'm really, really mad).

It's been interesting to try to get by without my normal driving routine, but I am plenty happy to return to what's comfortable and familiar.

But when iPod thing #4 breaks, I think I'll spring for that new car.

Friday, July 31, 2015

35 ways to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday

I often celebrate Harry Potter-related dates more enthusiastically than I do Muggle holidays. Halloween is a day to mourn James and Lily, not go to wild parties. April Fools' Day calls for birthday cake commemorating Fred and George's birth, not pulling obnoxious pranks on our coworkers.

So Harry Potter's birthday, in my opinion, should be an international holiday. And here are 35 ways to celebrate it (in honor of Harry's 35th birthday).

1. Don't go to work.

2. Go to Harry Potter World.

3. Eat at the Three Broomsticks.

4. Drink frozen butterbeer until you either die from a brain freeze or go off on a sugar high.

5. Then eat a chocolate frog.

6. Actually, eat lots of chocolate. There are Dementors out there.

7. Write an article about someone, Rita Skeeter style.

8. Or, hand-write a letter to someone you haven't seen in a while. 

9. Play a game of Quidditch.

10. Orchestrate your own Triwizard Tournament.

11. Catch up on Pottermore.

12. Read as many pages of the Harry Potter books as you can.

13. Or, watch as many of the movies as you can in fast motion.

14. Take a bath with a giant golden egg.

15. Take a nap in a cupboard, preferably one under the stairs.

16. Walk up to someone and say, "I see thestrals."

17. Show off your House pride.

18. Or, have a Sorting ceremony.

19. Find someone who hasn't read Harry Potter (an arduous task) and convince them to read the books. You'll change their life.

20. Wear mis-matched socks.

21. Visit Platform 9 3/4. That's in London.

22. Dress up as your favorite Harry Potter character, even if it's the Whomping Willow. Especially if it's the Whomping Willow.

23. Take your wands off your display case and have a duel with someone.

24. Wish J.K. Rowling a happy birthday.

25. Send your favorite teacher some crystallized pineapple.

26. Look something up in the library instead of on the internet.

27. Every time someone tells you to do something, say "My father will hear about this."

28. Play the Harry Potter trivia game you made.

29. Pretend you're Arthur Weasley and get excited about rubber ducks and escalators (I mean, escapaders).

30. Tell Microsoft to stop underlining Harry Potter terms like Patronus and Dementor.

31. Write an essay about why Muggles need electricity.

32. If you haven't already, contemplate on what your Boggart or Patronus would be.

33. Refer to every girl's bathroom as the Chamber of Secrets.

34. Say "Expelliarmus" every time someone challenges you in any way.

35. But most importantly, get into mischief.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Everything your English teacher never told you

I feel like half my job as an editor is expunging grammar rules taught by English teachers who never bothered to read a usage manual written after 1820. Kids get to college knowing their teachers' grammar peeves by heart, but with little knowledge on how to write a thorough essay.

But that's a topic for another day . . .

In the freelance realm especially, people often come back to me with comments like, "But wait—I was taught that this was wrong."

Well, I'm here to tell you what your English teachers likely didn't:

  • It's okay to end a sentence with a preposition.
  • It's okay to split an infinitive.
  • It's okay to start a sentence with a conjunction.
  • You are probably capitalizing too much.
  • Just use the singular they—those who are against it are losing the battle. 
  • Ain't is too a word. (Although you probably shouldn't use it in anything remotely formal—the prejudice against this word is still very strong.)
  • Language changes. It's not the end of the world.

The English language is nonsensical a lot of the time, which is why I refrain from grammar scolding. But lately, it's been the incorrectly taught rules that people stubbornly cling to that make me want to throw small objects and punch desks.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Those summer nights

The scorching summer I feared has arrived. Utah's drought-bred plants fight feebly against the unrelenting sunlight. The bad air dulls the green foliage May's rain gifted us with. Every day I consider wearing shorts to work. Two nights this week my AC stopped working.

And July is just getting started. It all makes me want to cry.

But I'm determined to not allow the Sun-Dementor to suck out my happiness. I can enjoy summer, as long as I keep happy thoughts prepared.

And most of those happy thoughts come from summer nights. Oh, those summer nights—home to some of my favorite things.

To begin with, there's a positive to not being able to sleep: extra reading time. When it was too hot to sleep, I took solace in the fact that I could make some serious headway on the stack of library books I picked up last week.

I recommend reading a book set in Alaska. It's like taking a cold shower, only you don't have to get wet. [Update: my apartment managers finally took my complaints about my AC seriously—only took them three years, geez—and fixed the AC for reals and replaced the thermostat with one I can actually read. Last night I was so excited I put a blanket back on my bed.]

But there's so much more to summer nights than sleep attempts. Like evening walks. I have to keep postponing them later and later to avoid yucky temperatures (I'd have to wait until 2:00 a.m. if I wanted truly pleasant weather), but the wait is worth it.

Because there's so much to look at and enjoy.

And the setting sun revives more than just my energy.

Speaking of the setting sun, it does really cool things to clouds when it goes down for the night.

Can you tell the difference between the air quality in Elk Ridge . . .

. . . and the Salt Lake Valley?

Yeah, there's another reason not to live in the city.

You don't have to be on your own two legs to enjoy a summer evening, though. Driving with all four windows down is another delightful way to enjoy them, even if you're spitting hair out of your mouth half the time. The crazy hair contributes to the fun, I promise. (Don't worry—I didn't take these pictures.)

And of course, there's also star-gazing, softball games, and summer rain.

Just don't make me go outside during the day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's me, the content-aholic

Today I realized that I could easily consume enough worth-my-time content to fill a 40-hour work week. I have my blogs and email subscriptions. I subscribe to more podcasts than I have time to listen to. I follow several news sites. My magazines are taking over my kitchen table. And don't forget, I read books (just finished book #38 of the year last night).

And the crazy thing is, I'm always on the lookout for more stuff to read. I think I might have A Condition.

I like to tell myself that it's an addiction to learning and knowledge, not a chronic problem that will eventually be attributed to the millennial generation. It stems from the same impulse that sent me to grad school—I want to know all the things. (Although I can do without the math and science things.) A story about beekeeping? Gimme. A biographical sketch of Audrey Hepburn? I want. Musings on language? Can't get enough of it. 7 Tips to Better Sleep that's obviously clickbait? Fine, I'll click on it and read it when I'm bored.

This barrage of delightful information might be one of the reasons I'm so worn out on Fridays, and want nothing more than to watch mindless television for seven hours, followed up by lots and lots of sleep.

I've considered cutting down on my content consumption, but I can't do it in good conscience. I don't know all the things yet.