Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There is no such thing as a car without problems

This morning I got up on time—7:18. I successfully resisted the urge to destroy my alarm clock. I was about to get in the shower when I realized that we were out of conditioner. So I went downstairs to our storage room and found a new bottle. I then proceeded to take a shower. Then I did my hair and stuff and found an outfit that I rather liked. I brushed my teeth pain-free for the first time in a week or so because all of the sores in my mouth are finally gone. I didn't pack a lunch today because we didn't have any bread, so I was ready to leave for work a full 5 minutes early. I got in my car, excited for the half-hour drive of listening to my favorite music. I put my key in the ignition and turned it—and nothing happened. For the third time in the last week, my car wouldn't start, and this time I didn't have another family car to recharge the battery.

For one so young, I have had a lot of car problems in my day. I bought my first car when I was 16 and I have had one ever since. (Note that I said that I, not someone else, bought my first car. And I still had to go my entire sophomore year of high school without a car, even though I got my license in September or October. I really hate it when parents buy their kids cars for their 16th birthday because no 16-year-old deserves that big of a gift. Just thought I would make it clear that I got my first car because I actually worked for it.)

My first car was a 1997 Volkswagon Golf. I loved that car. It was my favorite shade of green, it was small, and it was a stick-shift. I wasn't too excited about the stick-shift part when I first bought it, but I soon discovered that manually shifting greatly contributes to the speed and power of the car. And besides, if I ever have to drive a dying person to the hospital or something and the only car available is a stick, I won't have to worry about someone's obituary stating that a beloved person died because an incompetent driver wasn't able to drive their car. Plus, shifting builds character.

And boy, my car had a personality. I thought about naming it Mad-Eye Moody a couple of times. I had pretty much decided that it was a boy because it didn't work as well when it was hungry. That sounds a lot like me, actually . . . Most of my car problems didn't arise until I started delivering pizza, putting hundreds of miles on my car every week. That was when I started making a lot of visits to Payson Auto. And I don't think Bry was too thrilled to have me as a regular customer, because my car was INSANE.

For example, the speedometer was one of the first things to wig out on me. After a year or so, I had mastered the inner workings of my speedometer. It worked perfectly fine during the summer, but not at all during the winter. During the spring and the fall it worked some of the time, but the longer I drove the car the less that it worked. I got pretty good at judging my speed by reading the RPM meter and adjusting the gear I was in, so it wasn't that big of a deal. It was frustrating at times, however. One time while I was taking a delivery to a house by the high school, my speedometer died and the check engine light popped on. I was already having a bad night, so being in the bad mood that I was, I punched my steering wheel as hard as I could. And the speedometer started working again. I was so surprised that I hardly noticed the throbbing in my hand. Thus began a loving but abusive relationship with my car. My hand would get bruised from all that punching because a petty little slap wouldn't do the trick. Many times I would be chatting happily away to the person in the passenger seat and then randomly hit my steering wheel with all the force I could muster, not even noticing the shocked and slightly scared face looking at me while I continued to talk as if nothing had happened. Good times.

But the speedometer problem was NOTHING compared to the stupid alarm problem. Whenever I blew a fuse, which happened fairly often because I had to plug my cartop in, everything electrical in my car would freak out. The lights would stop working, the sun roof wouldn't open, the trunk light would pop on, the gages would go haywire, the clock would reset every time I started the car, and the radio wouldn't work. But the worse part of the deal was that the doors wouldn't lock. You could hear the locks whirring, trying to lock, but they would just be stuck in that whirring zone. That whirring noise was a very bad noise because it meant that a worse noise was about to explode from the car. If I tried to unlock the door or start my car, the deafening alarm would go off. I'm pretty sure people in Mexico were writhing in pain on the ground with their fingers stuffed in their ears whenever my blasted alarm went off. The only way to turn it off was to fiddle with the trunk lock. But only after you alerted the entire neighborhood that your car was pulling a tantrum.

For a long time the radio wouldn't work. Then one day it just decided to start working. That was an exciting day. But the radio was still subject to the whims of my car's personality. So as an early graduation present, my parents installed a new radio/cd player into my car while I was on choir tour. I got back to the high school exhausted, but excited to try out my new radio—but my dad made the mistake of locking my car. It was my car that so rudely announced to the school that the choir kids were back from choir tour.

It took my car a long time to warm up to people. It strongly disliked Kimberly and my mom, but it didn't have a problem with my dad. After awhile it started being a good boy for Kimberly, but that was only after she was a regular passenger for at least a year.

Sometimes smoke would come out of the air conditioning vents. Actually, it was probably more like steam. My car never overheated, so to this day I am still baffled as to why steam would come out of the vents. And sometimes smoke came out of the steering wheel, too. Weird.

The wiper fluid tube thing for my back window was aimed backward so that rather than squirting my window with fluid, it would squirt the road behind me. I used this when big mean trucks were shining their big mean headlights into all of my mirrors. Or when I was racing people home. It may have been a wimpy weapon, but it was a weapon nonetheless—not many cars can eject fluid when you actually tell it to.

Then there was the time that my car tried to accelerate on its own. I was delivering pizza during the first snowstorm of the season, which is always a fun experience. I was waiting at a stop sign when it suddenly sounded like someone was revving the gas over and over again and I felt like if I let my foot off the brake as least a little, the car would take off again, regardless if the clutch was in or not. Officially freaked out, I slowly got going again and the car shot back into motion—not a good thing when the roads are covered in snow. My car continued to make the revving noises whenever I was in neutral or at a standstill. That night after I was finally able to go home, I decided to try a little experiment. I stopped at the stop sign right by my house (which in and of itself is unusual), shifted into first gear, and then let go of the gas. In 10 seconds my car went from 0 to 15 without any help from me—and we were going uphill. That was fun to explain to Bry.

Then there were all of the normal wear-and-tear issues—bald tires, blown-out CV joints, dying starters and mufflers. On Saint Patrick's Day my sophomore year of college, after picking my car up from the shop that it had never been to before, my car pulled a major fit, introducing a few new problems that manifested themselves to no one but me. Angry that I was not going to be able to make it to work and fed up with my retarded car, I decided then and there that I had had it—it was time to sell it. It took several months, but finally that car was out of my hands.

My new car, a 2003 Hyundai Elantra, was a blessed change at first. I actually missed the lack of personality. There was nothing weird or quirky about it. I thought that I had finally found a normal car. Wrong again.

While this car hasn't been nearly as insane as my last one, it has gone through some expensive repairs. It overheated while I was going to the dentist one day, and that ended up being a $2000 repair. This lovely experience came during a time when I had 4 dollars in the bank. I recently had to buy 2 new CV joints and get the oil leak fixed.

And then the dreaded time came—time to register my car. I rarely pass the first time, so I wasn't looking forward to it. However, for once, fortune was sent my way. This year I only had to get the emissions done. They spent all of 15 minutes on it and then they were done. All I had to do was hand over 23 bucks and they gave me my certificate. Then I registered my car online and within a few days I had new stickers for my car. It was awesome. But alas, it wasn't meant to be

So now I am sitting here at home, waiting for someone to send me some work so that I can get something productive done today. Talk about a good hair day wasted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boredom Stupor

It really kind of sucks when you're trying to think of something to do and the only thought going through your mind is "I am so freakin' bored!" You are trying desperately to think of things to fill your time, but your brain is too caught up in the lethargic moment and is incapable of stimulating you to do anything. You keep falling further and further into the pit of nothingness and soon you lose all sense of who you once were. If someone told you that Darth Vador was walking down the street with a giant hot dog, you wouldn't even care. If someone were to come up to you and say, "Let's go to Disneyland!" you would be too far under to even be remotely interested. If an earthquake were about to bring down your house, you would sit there and stare at the blank TV screen with your mouth slightly open. It is very hard to be rescued from a boredom stupor.

Boredom stupors typically begin when your dad turns on the golf channel, but it can also arise when you have nothing to do with your free time—or even worse, NOTHING TO DO AT WORK—and it often takes hours, or even days, to recover from.

Suddenly, I am too bored to finish this blog post. I think I'll just sit here until I die.

Friday, June 25, 2010

All I have to do is dream . . .

While many people claim that they don't ever dream, I am certainly not one of them. My dreams are most vivid on those Saturday mornings when I am lying in bed, trying to force myself to take advantage of my free morning by sleeping in as long as I can stand it. This week has been full of Saturdays for me because I am "on vacation." Right now I am enjoying a few moments of paradise as I sit in the shade on my porch, listening to the wind rustle through the trees and watching the birds hop around the lawn. I keep wanting to start singing, "The sun is shining, the grass is green. The orange and palm trees sway . . ." but that is a Christmas song, and today is definitely not a Christmasy day. It's more of a 4th of July day. I love the 4th of July.

But I was talking about dreams. So far, this week I have dreamed that my grandpa was making a giant quilt that took up his entire attic, that a few guys I went to high school with went skiing on their motorcycles and didn't live to tell the tale, and that I went to Lagoon with my parents and Kimberly and a hot guy that just showed up after we went on the Japanese ride that, according to my dad, was a very accurate representation of what life is like in Japan (it involved a lot humongous slides and falling through the air). Unfortunately, Kimberly always seemed to get to sit by the hot guy, although he did fall on me once. That was exciting.

I have often wondered if dreams serve more of a purpose than to simply entertain, confuse, or terrify. I know that to some extent, dreams are a reflection of who we are and what we care about. I am sure that some dreams come about because of obessessions we may have. For instance, I once had a dream that I was Harry Potter (big shock, I know) and that Voldemort was trying to track me down during sacrament meeting. He and his Death Eaters just flocked into the chapel and started handing out notecards for us to put our names and numbers on, while Voldemort made the announcement at the pulpit that he was looking for me. Another time I had a Lost dream (again, big shocker there) that involved Hurley, Sawyer, Charlie, and Desmond floating around in giant bubbles, and Jack and Kate performing at Payson's Opera House wearing bright purple suits. And of course, there are always the dreams of marrying strangers (or cousins), the dreams of having kids, and the frustratingly annoying Domino's dreams that refuse to go away. I haven't delivered a pizza for two years now, but I still have Domino's dreams fairly regularly. My favorite is still the one where I was working at the store in St. George and the delivery range was from Santaquin to Australia.

Then there is the recurring dream of driving up a steep mountain and then driving down the other end at a 90 degree angle. The last time I had the dream was also the only time I ever managed to stay asleep till I reached the bottom. Strangely enough, my aunt Lore was usually the one driving when I was hurtling down the cliff of death. That dream obviously represents my fear of heights (although Lore's mad driving skills may have had something to do with it). I think I have also always had a fear of natural disasters, because since I was a child, I have had many dreams of floods, tornados, volcanos, and earthquakes. Just recently I had two end-of-the-world dreams in one: death my fire and by water. That dream, however, was far from scary. It is actually one of the most humorous dreams I have had to date.

But what about the seemingly unimportant (and very random) dreams, the dreams of melted water, men in blue capes, and different flavors of lemonade that make you float? And more importantly, what about the more personal and spiritual dreams, the dreams that have a different feel to them and that leave me pondering for days afterward? Are dreams really just random figments of our imaginations, or do they serve a greater purpose?

I am not saying that all of my dreams are deeply significant and that the interpretation of them would change the world. I'm not sure I want my dreams to change the fate of our world. However, there would be a lot more humor in the world; I'm pretty sure there is a reason why I laugh in my sleep. But I don't think dreams should be entirely brushed aside, either. As strange as some dreams may be, I think they tell us a lot about ourselves, even things that we don't realize about ourselves at the time.

But I also sometimes wonder if dreams come from sources beyond our understanding. I have never had a visionary dream like Nephi's vision of the Tree of Life, but I have had dreams that have affected me deeply. Blame it on emotions triggered by the brain if you wish, but I don't think that is all that is going on here. While most dreams probably are trivial, I think that some of them are still important and worth being reflected upon.

After all, we spend a huge chunk of our lives sleeping, and our brains are not resting with the rest of our bodies. Sometimes I wonder if our brains are unraveling the secrets of the universe while we are enjoying our deep slumber, and then sneakily tucking that information away long before we are conscious enough to notice it.

The world of dreams is a fascinating place, regardless of whether our dreams are important or not. Maybe we dream simply so we can get a wake-up call every now and then, or maybe we dream simply so we can have a good story on hand when a conversation starts to drag awkwardly. But I don't think we would dream unless there was a reason for it. We could very well live in a world in which sleep is simply a black hole of nonactivity, but we don't. For some reason, we we continue to think and "dream" even after our eyes are closed and the world has been shut aside for a few hours. I don't think that dreams are a mere act of chance; even if some of our dreams are just plain stupid, we don't dream for nothing. Nuggets of truth and enlightenment can be found anywhere, even in places we don't expect to find it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Movie Quote Day: Not exactly a cure to summer boredom

I have been looking forward to this week all summer. Working two jobs and taking one class ended up being more exhausting than I had planned on. So at the beginning of May I decided that I would take a week off of work whether I needed it or not. That week has finally arrived. My only plan for the week is to not work—everything else is up in the air. I would also like to experience the sensation of being bored. Bored at home, that is. Being bored at work is absolutely no fun at all.

Yesterday was the Carter family's first annual Movie Quote Day. Anyone who has been around my family should know that we spend a significant portion of our conversations quoting movies. My brother-in-law Jeremy has said that we remind him of the family in While You Were Sleeping, particularly during the dinner conversation that includes topics such as John Wayne and mashed potatoes. We often find ourselves participating in several conversations around the table simultaneously, with Tyrel trying to contribute by saying completely random and nonsensical things that make sense only in his brain. Included in the chaos are random movie quotes that have to be followed up with their respective responses. (For example, whenever anyone says "You're dead!" someone else must say, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and then someone else must immediately thereafter say, "Grandma!" I don't even remember what this quote is from, and I'm pretty sure it's out of order, but we have a tendency of taking movie quotes and making them our own. Let me assure you, our interpretations are much more awesome.)

We have even taken to quoting ourselves. When me and Kimberly came home last year for the summer, we decided to keep up one of our college traditions—the quote board. My siblings loved the idea, and our quote board has its own place of honor next to the thermostat in the hallway. While it hasn't come close to catching all of our funny moments, we're quite proud of it. Tyrel's dearest ambition is to have his name on there more than anyone else.

A few years ago, while driving home from dinner or a family outing of some sort, my dad challenged us to speak without using any movie quotes the entire drive home. Suddenly the drive from Provo to Elk Ridge seemed really long. I believe we made it about 8 minutes, and most of that time was spent in silence. Quoting movies is ingrained into our very natures and it would take years and years to get the habit out of our systems.

We often joked about having a day set aside for speaking entirely in movie quotes. Finally, one day about a month ago, I said something to the effect of, "I hereby pronounce June 21 to be Movie Quote Day." Unfortunately, Tyrel heard me, and he has been looking forward to it ever since. So we decided to just go along with it and see what the day would bring.

The day before June 21 (which, ironically, was the longest day of the year), we got together and came up with some rules for the next day. The rules were simple:
1. Everyone must speak only in movie quotes or commonly quoted family sayings. The quotes must keep their original inflection.
2. Everyone was allotted one hour of "freedom of speech." This meant that while everyone else had to speak in quotes, one person was allowed to say whatever he or she wished.

We kicked off our Movie Quote Day at two hours before 2:29. ("Two hours before 2:29" is one of the earliest quoted Carter memories.) I was the first one granted the hour of freedom of speech. I enjoyed the hour quite a bit. I loved asking my siblings questions and watching them struggle to come up with a pre-formulated answer. My favorite part of the day was when I asked Shannan a question and she just looked at me, opening and closing her mouth. I then proceeded to say, "Speechless in my presence."

The next 3 hours weren't quite as fun, and that wasn't just because I was relinquished of my freedom of speech. Quoting movies on demand was quite difficult, and we found that we often had to be silent rather than say what was on our minds. Even Tyrel got tired of quoting Bill Cosby constantly.

So, the fun was short-lived, and what was supposed to be a fun game ended up greatly contributing to our boredom. We should have guessed from Tyrel's efforts to land himself on the quote board that planned spontaneity is really no fun at all. But it was worth a try, and now we can say that we did it. Sadly, I must announce that our first annual Movie Quote Day will probably be its last.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The transition from backpack to purse

I have never been a purse girl. In fact, I have spent a good portion of my life trying to convince the world of my manliness. When I was little, my greatest desire was to impress all of the boys with my amazing athletic abilities (which, I am sad to say, are not NEARLY as good as they used to be). And today I'm not that different—my greatest desire on a date is to impress a guy with how much meat I can eat in one meal (okay, that's not my greatest desire, but there is a side of me that is curious to see if they will be shocked or disgusted).

Needless to say, in order for a girl to keep up her tomboy persona, she must steer clear of purses. And that wasn't a problem for me until a few days ago—the day I retired my backpack.

I can barely remember a day that I didn't have a backpack. From kindergarten when my backpack was as light as air to college when my backpack weighed approximately a bajillion pounds, my backpack has always been there for me. It carried my books for me (no boy ever did that) as well as the small little things that I didn't want to clutter my pockets with. It allowed me to mock the girls who had matching purses with every outfit. There was no way on earth that I would EVER be seen with a cute little purse that was glued to my shoulder.

But, I don't exactly want to carry around a backpack forever, either. I just plain don't need it, and I'm all for eliminating pointless things. And, thanks to some genius clothes designer out there, I can't stuff my pockets with my wallet, phone, keys, pens, gum, carmex, planner, OR my lunch—because I haven't got any pockets at all! I have yet to find a skirt with pockets that are big enough to not warrant the "Oh, that pocket is so cute!" comment, and if I'm lucky enough to find dress pants with pockets, they're so small that they become a cave of death for my fingers—once they're in, there's not getting out.

So I finally had to reconcile myself to the fact that I would indeed have to have, and actually use, a purse some day. (I have been preparing for this day for years now, actually.) About a month ago, I went on a shopping spree (that does happen to me every now and then) and I found myself in the purse section of Walmart, feeling very sheepish and trying to be a foot shorter than I was so that no one would see me in such an abominable place. It was Kimberly that found a purse that I could stomach the thought of carrying around. It was the most boring one there. It was brown, big enough to hold a book, and it had no lacy or frilly embellishments. A good, functional purse. I was actually kind of excited at the time, and I spent the drive from the Walmart in Payson to Ross in Orem organizing everything into my purse.

But there was still the problem of being seen with a purse. It collected dust hanging from the banister until Tuesday morning because I just wasn't ready to to be a purse girl yet. But, alas, the need for a backpack has come and gone and I am ashamed to say that I have been seen with a purse every day since then. I feel like a little girl playing dress-up. I am already wearing business-type clothes almost every day now, and adding a purse to the mix just makes me feel like I am trying to tell everyone that I am a big girl now. Actually, that's not entirely untrue, because I am rather tired of people asking me if I am enjoying my first year of college. Maybe some day I will no longer look like I'm 18.

Even though I have consented to taking my purse to work, taking it anywhere else would just be too embarrassing. Imagine if I became one of those girls that takes her purse to a PARTY or something. Shudder. The day that happens will probably be the last day this planet ever sees.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So, I'm done with classes. Now what?

As many people around me know, I took the last final of my life on Monday. I now have 6 weeks until graduation, and I intend to fill those 6 weeks with more than just work-related things. For a while now, I've been thinking about starting a blog. At first I didn't see the point—I am already an avid journal writer and I use my Facebook account fairly regularly—why bother starting a blog too? But after winter semester ended, and with it all of my English and editing classes, I realized that I was going to miss having class discussions and writing response papers. As excited as I am to graduate, I have loved my experience at BYU. Getting a degree is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it is no doubt the most rewarding. However, a part of me worries that I won't truly be able to be happy without school in my life. I thrive in a learning environment and I need to exercise my brain regularly. This is one of the reasons why I chose to pursue editing—I'll never have to stop learning in that profession.

But, I don't think editing alone is going to cut it. There is something deep inside of me that just wants to write—this desire showed itself long before I discovered that I had a knack for noticing errors in writing all around me. It is for this reason that I am on my 15th or so journal; writing is big part of my decision-making process and it gives me a sense of completeness that I can't find anywhere else.

This blog isn't going to be a journal or a scrapbook, however. I plan to continue writing in my journal regularly, and I will probably start scrapbooking again now that I don't have school taking up all of my spare time (hurray!!), so it would be pointless to repeat everything here. The vision I have for this blog was actually inspired by Patrick Madden, an essayist and a professor at BYU. The very first article I ever got paid to edit was for a Humanities Alumni magazine article entitled "The Infinite Suggestiveness of Common Things," by Patrick Madden. The article isn't about anything important; in fact, it is mostly about essay writing. However, I was intrigued by the way that Madden was able to take mundane experiences and make them not only interesting, but inspiring.

About a year after I encountered this article, I had the opportunity to proofread a collection of Madden's essays that he was going to publish in a book. That project was probably my most favorite editing experience thus far. He wrote about things like laughter, death, garlic, and gravity—random and seemingly unimportant things. I laughed out loud while I read the laughter article, I came near tears when I read what he had to say about death, and I craved garlic mashed potatoes for weeks after reading his garlic essay. It takes a good writer to inspire someone when your subject is "gravity," but Madden was able to do it.

I am not by any means trying to imitate Professor Madden with this blog, however. I simply like the idea of glorifying the little things in life. I am really good about talking about nothing—I have a huge stack of journals to prove it. I am hoping that this blog will do for me what school has done for me my entire life—help me to put the things I have learned into words. I don't think I have what it takes to write for a living, but, like I said earlier, I still need to write. I don't really care if anyone reads this blog or not; I just want to be entertained in an educated sort of way. And as my family knows all too well, as long as I am being entertained (and fed), I'm happy.