Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Well, if that was summer, then I've had it."

School is back in session. Temperatures are steadily declining. The leaves are changing colors. Rain storms are happening more abundantly. There is no denying it—summer is over.

I'm having a hard time believing it, though. My usual start-of-fall routine has been shaken up—I'm still living at my parents' house and I'm not back in school. Strangely, that doesn't make me sad or anything. I actually feel like I've just started my summer break. No more work, no more BYU—now I have time to do whatever I want. The next couple of weeks should be fun, as long as I don't let the stress of being jobless overtake me. And I won't be able to play whenever I want, because most everyone I know has to devote their playing time to studying. Lame.

It was a good summer, though. It was equally balanced between work and pleasure. I worked full time and still had time to be a part of a singles ward, go to institute, and hang out with my family. My life isn't usually quite that balanced. School has a way of tipping the scales a little bit.

So while I still didn't accomplish everything I wanted to (of course), I still think I did a better job than I usually do. I finished my last ASL class, I worked 40 hours a week, I took a week off work for no reason other than to relax, I saw the sights of Zion's and Bryce Canyons, I spent a Saturday at Sundance and watched Ryan Shupe and his Rubber Band play, I joined an awesome singles ward and decided to start preparing to go to the temple, I caught up with high school friends, I spent a lot of time rehearsing with my mom and sisters, I watched a lot of movies, I witnessed a lot of awesome rain storms, I went to my brother's high school graduation and my college graduation, I went on an overnight campout and rediscovered that camping is fun, I ate lots of good food, and watched many sunsets.

This list may not be very glamorous, but to me it signifies that my life has been full the past several months. I didn't experience any of the discontent or depression that I dealt with last summer because my life had more of a purpose. And I didn't experience any of the panic or sleep loss that usually comes with school because I wasn't insanely busy.

I'm not usually sad to see summer go, but this year I kind of am. Probably because it ended like a month earlier than usual. I'm not quite ready to pull out my jackets and socks. Hopefully there'll be a few more sunny days before we start smelling chimney smoke in the air.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Women are to be loved for what they are, men for what they can become."

Recently, I came across a quote that I thought was quite profound. It went something like this: "Women are to be loved for what they are, men for what they can become." When I first read this, my feminist side grinned a bit a pompously and agreed that women are already innately amazing—it's the men who need work. I kept thinking about it, and kept finding all sorts of interesting insights. I soon came to the conclusion that this quote is not a slight on men at all; in fact, this quote portrays both men and women in the light they should be portrayed in. In Relief Society, women are told over and over again that they are beautiful, that they are amazing, and that God loves them. I have no idea what they talk about in priesthood, but based on what I've heard from bishoprics (particularly in my singles wards), the guys spend a pretty good portion of their time making sure the girls are taken care of.

Women definitely have room to improve, but in God's eyes, we are all precious. He sees things in us that we can't, and he loves for who we are, despite our shortcomings.

Of course, God loves his sons too, but their role is a bit different. They don't need to be told that they are awesome because most of them have an ego to do that for them. So instead, in the church, we spend a lot of time making men out of our rotten teenage boys. We give them callings, we give them the priesthood, and we send them on missions. We give them wives, we give them children, and we give them flocks to watch over.

I haven't had the chance to go to a missionary homecoming for a while, but I always loved seeing the change that took place in those young boys' hearts. They may look exactly the same, but they are entirely different inside. They have a glow about them that is just irresistible.

This summer, I had the blessing of becoming a part of a new singles ward in Payson. I was a bit reluctant to do so—I hadn't heard anything good about the Payson singles ward previously, so I was content to stay in my home ward. However, this year, I could just see in the bishop's eyes that he wanted to do the unthinkable and put me in the Primary. And on top of that, I felt completely miserable at my home ward because I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. It was quite a frustrating feeling—I was sick to death of BYU wards, but I didn't belong in a family ward either. I was stuck.

So Kimberly and I started shopping for singles wards. We checked out the Salem one first, since technically we are supposed to go to that one, but the entire time I felt like a spy in enemy territory—Salem and Spanish Fork-ites may be good people, but I am a Paysonian to the core: all my life I have been taught that Spanish Fork and all those who are associated with the cursed town are evil. The nice people at church were just trying to deceive us and lead us to our doom.

So we tried the new Payson ward next. When we first stumbled into the tiny chapel that was built in like 1930, I think we both felt like we had found home. Even though there weren't enough people to fill even a third of the chapel, and about half of the people there were Mexicans, we knew that we were needed in this ward, though we had no idea how much we would come to love the ward.

Word about the new ward must have spread fast, because very soon a bunch of freshly returned missionaries started coming to our ward. To me, they were still juniors in high school, a bunch of punks who thought they are the coolest guys in the universe. And don't get me wrong, it is still hard to shut them up long enough to get a word in, but there is a different spirit about them now. They are excited about the gospel and they honor their priesthood. They have become what we envisioned them to be—only it's better than we could have imagined it.

Today we had a combined RS/Priesthood lesson, and it was taught by Wes Haskell, who didn't know that he would be teaching the sisters as well as the . . . um, boys. However, it was an amazing lesson. It's always fun to be in a class with the boys—especially boys that you find attractive—but they brought a spirit with them that the sisters just can't duplicate. They know how important the gospel is, and they have done so much to help it move forward. They have become men, men of power and leadership. I couldn't help but feel incredibly lucky to be in a ward with young men who are still filled with the fire of youth, but that have become important men of the kingdom as well.

As if it weren't enough to be surrounded by all of these great young men at our own meetings, as soon as church let out, Kin and I dashed back to Elk Ridge to watch our brother be ordained as an elder. This is a first for our family—we've experienced many of the rites of passage that women of the church typically have, but we have yet to experience sending out our beloved boy on a mission. I love coming from a family of girls, but I am so grateful that God blessed us with at least one boy.

Tyrel has always been a bit behind the boys of his age maturity-wise, but he has always had a good heart. He has gone through things that most boys his age haven't ever had to deal with—he has Aspergers, his best friend died when he was 9, he is constantly being harassed by his sisters—and yet he is one of the most pure people I know. He may not understand a lot about the world, but he knows what is right and what is wrong.

Watching him grow the past couple of years has been an awesome experience for our whole family. I remember when he gave his graduating-senior talk in sacrament meeting, and I was just struck with an overwhelming feeling that he is on the road to becoming great. Our little brother will be such an amazing influence for good wherever he goes.

And then, a blink later, he is being ordained as an elder. Thank goodness he won't be 19 for over 6 months, so we can hold on to him for just a bit longer. But when my dad was ordaining my little brother, I couldn't help but rejoice at what God is making of him. He may be a shy little boy now, but God will make something great of him. He already has.

So men may need a bit more work to make something worthwhile out of them than women do, but once that moment of change comes, that power sustains all of those around them. Women have a wonderful calling in life, but I think up to this point I have underestimated the role of men. In God's hands, men can achieve that awesome potential, whether they are rambunctious teenagers or shy little boys. The power of the priesthood is an indescribably awesome thing, but a worthy man taking on that emblem is even awesomer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The REAL end

Today was my official last day at the Humanities Publication Center. After today, the only time BYU will want to see or hear from me is when I am making a donation to the school.

To be honest, I had a really hard time getting myself to go to work today. It wasn't because I was dreading the end; it was because I just plain didn't want to drive up to campus. I worked at home the week after graduation, and when I came back to campus on Monday, it just felt . . . weird. It was as if the BYU campus knew that I had a diploma and therefore didn't need the warm fuzzies it offered before. BYU will always be a home of sorts to me, but I don't really belong there anymore.

So driving up every day this week has been quite a chore. (Actually, I like the drive up. It's the actual working part that I didn't want to do.) I am done with BYU—what's the point in prolonging the end?

But I went to work today anyway because I had a few last-minute InDesign changes to make, and I needed to make sure I had cleaned out all of my stuff. And I knew I would regret it if I skipped out on my last day of work. :)

Just as I was about to walk into the office, I ran into my boss (who I haven't even seen for like 2 months). He then informed me that we were going to have a little party as soon as Rachel got back, to celebrate my last day. (Hmmm, that makes it sound like he was anxious to get rid of me . . . )

So an hour or so later, we met in the office next to Mel's and we had the last Food Friday that I will ever attend. Even better, the theme today was sweet rolls. Yummy. Mel gave me the one with the most frosting.

Then he pulled me into his office and started giving me all of these names and numbers and all sorts of networking tips. Let me just say that I am feeling a whole lot better about my job-searching endeavors just because I had the blessing of working with Mel Thorne for almost two years.

When I took this job at the beginning of Winter 2009, I was excited to be able to kill two birds with one stone—providing an income I could live off of while gaining editing experience. But the job ended up being so much more than that. I made good friends, I always had a good place to work/study, and I learned a lot about myself as not just an editor, but as a person. However, it was my boss that made the experience beyond good. Every now and then he would invite me to his office and we would talk about jobs, editing, my work, and the future. He always made me feel like I had a lot to offer and he genuinely wanted to help me in whatever I was working on. I was extremely lucky to have such a good mentor during such an important time of my life. I would have to put the things he taught me on the list of most valuable things anyone has ever taught me, right up there with the things I have learned from my parents and grandparents and an inspired seminary teacher, Brother Gividen.

So thanks to my awesome boss, I am sad to leave his editing family and go out on my own, but I also know that I am well prepared. Not only do I have the skills, but I also I have confidence in my skills, something I didn't have much of before Mel took me under his wing. I'll miss the random conversations and ranting sessions with my co-workers, and I'll miss our impressive wall (which includes commendations, funny published editing errors, a huge Harry Potter article published in the Daily Universe, and our Funny Names List), but alas, all good things must come to an end.

As I was walking to the JKB today, I was annoyed to find myself in a huge, slow-moving crowd of new freshmen. We finally got rid of the EFY kids only to replace them with freshmen. However, I must admit that the freshman I ran into today were MUCH more well behaved than the EFY kids. Holy cow.

Anyway, I found myself empathizing with their anticipation and anxiety and smiling as I remembered what it was like to go to a huge college all on my own. As much as freshmen may deserve their bad rep, I felt quite fond of them today as I was walking back to my car. I've had my run here—now it's their turn to take over. It's their turn to experience all the things that 4 years of college can teach them. Having survived those years already, I have a lot of respect for them because of what they are about to go through.

So, the real end of my BYU career has come and gone. Now it's on to bigger and better things. A few weeks ago I didn't think that anything could possibly be better than BYU, but I have broadened my horizon a bit. There is so much out there waiting to be discovered and experienced. The freshmen can have my school—I'm ready to tackle something else.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Miniscule, yet pivotal, pieces

Last night I had one of those restless nights where I just laid in bed for hours, never getting tired, never being able to shut my mind off. I even tried all of my techniques—I listened to music, I counted, I played movies in my head, I imagined sending everything I was thinking about to Outer Space, I kept telling myself I was tired—and all I got for my efforts was two hours of restlessness. So finally, I hopped out of bed, took a bathroom break, grabbed a blanket, and stepped outside.

I try to take advantage of my summer nights as often as I can by stargazing, whether I am lying on the trampoline in our backyard or camping under the stars. However, last night was not a good night for stargazing. For one, the moon was blindingly bright—probably one of the reasons why I couldn't sleep—and second, I didn't bother to put my glasses on so I could only see a few of the brightest stars anyway (at least, the ones that weren't being overshadowed by the flaunting moon).

However, usually when I stargaze, I am struck by just how vast and awesome this universe is. Our little world is just one small part of God's universe—there is so much out there that our little brains simply can't handle the vastness. It is no wonder the Book of Mormon tells us that we are the dust of the earth—compared to all that God has created, we are nothing.

And yet, when I look at the stars, I don't feel insignificant; in fact, I feel empowered. We humans may be small and helpless in the grand scheme of things, but we can still accomplish much. We are the tiny, pivotal pieces that make up the grand plan.

On Saturday my family went to my dad's work party up at Sundance. We finished off the evening with an entertaining concert put on by Ryan Shupe and his Rubber Band. As we laughed, cheered, and sang along, I was struck by just how diverse we humans are. There were those in the crowd who reveled in the noise and became more energized as the night wore on. Others were content to sit back and watch without participating much. Some weren't really sure which side to be on, and spent a considerable time just watching how everyone else reacted. And some were too busy throwing rocks to really know what was going on.

Both in and outside our little party, there were lawyers, doctors, writers, teachers, musicians, mechanics, and designers. Some of those people were hilarious comedians, some were good conversationalists, others good listeners. Others were physically or spiritually strong, still others were self-confident and kind. So many different talents and character traits, so much potential for good. It's amazing the order in which the world is run: we have just the right amount of leaders and followers to keep this world running smoothly, yet we aren't forced into doing anything. We act based on what we feel, and somehow, this world is still intact.

Each of us is so different; we need those differences not only for our survival but also for our happiness. A little bit of variety can go a long way in making a person's life complete. The stars may be grand and inspiring, but it's the little things—the dancing comedians and the rock-throwing toddlers—that make up the grand picture.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You know you're living with a bunch of girls when . . .

. . . you watch the same chick flick every day for a week and by the end you've got your dad saying things like "Eric Matthews is the cute guy's roommate."

. . . you complain about being possessed by the demon George and everyone knows what you are talking about.

. . . music rehearsals take place during football games.

. . . you have 3 pairs of earrings in your room that aren't yours and you don't know where 2 of your shirts are.

. . . you want the boys to control the remotes because you don't know how to use them.

. . . you often make the boys go golfing so that you can spend your Saturdays watching Jane Austen movies and cross-stitching.

. . . all of your weddings were planned before you reached dating eligibility.

. . . someone is giggling.

. . . you are annoyed with someone because they are annoyed with you for no reason.

. . . you know that girls really do make *gasp* bodily noises.

. . . you know that girls really do have *gasp* big appetites.

. . . you can never watch a movie with the light off because someone always has to cross-stitch, crochet, or sew.

. . . the one boy of the family gets harassed constantly about his grooming habits.

. . . you can keep up with the talking rate of 15,000 words per minute.

. . . there are several hidden stashes of chocolate throughout the house in case of an emergency.

. . . you go dress shopping just so you can try dresses on—but under no circumstance will you actually buy any dresses.

. . . people randomly burst into song.

. . . your dad randomly bursts into song.

. . . your brother knows what his favorite chick flick is.

. . . you look forward to someone's birthday so that you can buy something that they can share with you.

If any of you have experienced (or suffered through) living with a bunch of girls, feel free to add to this list.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rain storms and power outages

We've had some pretty awesome rainstorms during the past few days. In the Carter household, any form of weather is cause for giddyness, video cameras, and excitement. And yesterday was probably the most intense weather day we've had in awhile, because not only did Mother Nature rage all around us, the power went out. For an hour.

A really long hour.

When the lights first went out, we were sitting in the living room, enjoying the sound of the rain. Then without warning, the lights died and the fridge stopped humming. We all just kind of grinned at each other and then dashed to the window and stared outside like a bunch of dogs (that's Tyrel's wording, not mine). Soon we couldn't resist the temptation any longer and we all ran outside, some of us standing out in the rain, some of us standing in the protection of the garage.

Eventually the novelty of the storm wore off, and one by one we trudged back inside. Soon the rain stopped, and we found ourselves in an unusually quiet house. No buzzing computer, no monstrously loud fridge, no more rain drops. The silence was eerie.

That's when the uneasiness started. Power outages are all fun and games for a few minutes, but anything long term is cause for panic. Your life changes completely when you can't open the fridge for a cold glass or milk or heat up a burrito in the microwave, when you can't turn on the computer or the t.v. for a few hours of entertainment, or when you can't rely on your central air system to keep your house at the temperature you want. I started to think that I would starve because we had no way of cooking or preserving food, and if I didn't starve first, I probably would have died of boredom because I didn't have the option of watching a rainy-day movie, which must mean that there is nothing else to do.

Never mind the fact that I still had the convenience of cell phones, batteries, cars, and running water—not to mention my under-used imagination—but without electricity, I was pretty much hopeless.

I'm not saying that our family is woefully unprepared for any sort of crisis—we have our food supply, we have quite a camping stash, we have relatives, and we have our brains—but all of that seemed moot without the conveniences of electricity. Suddenly, it seemed the only thing I could do was take a nap and wait for the power to come back on.

I never thought that going an hour without power would be such a crisis. I tend to shy away from technological gadgets, but it's clear that I can't steer clear of technology completely. Electricity is almost as much a part of me as my beliefs are.

How sad.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Years of clutter, hours of fun

Despite the fact that I deep-cleaned and rearranged my room when I moved back home, I have recently found myself in a cluttered room again due to the rising piles of books I have been accumulating. I got all 7 of the Harry Potter books (in hardback!!) for my graduation present, which meant that I simply could not put off reorganizing my room any longer to make room for my books. Again.

What was meant to be a quick, half-hour tidying up ended up being several hours of reminiscing. I went through a lot of my stuff several months ago, but I pretty much steered clear of my locker. The only thing I did with it was move it on top of my dresser. But today I finally accepted that I was going to have to clean the thing out so that my books could have a place to call home.

For years, my locker has been my "junk drawer." It has its very own door, so it is so easy to just throw stuff in there that I'm not sure what to do with and then shut the door really fast. Based on what I found in there, I don't think I have cleaned out the locker for at least ten years. Most of it was just junk—empty CD cases, worksheets from middle school that I was sure would help me in the future, useless certificates that I was so proud of eons ago, string, gum wrappers, a few things that I couldn't name—but there were several pieces of junk that brought a smile to my face along with a flood of memories:
  • Some notes Jessica wrote me in middle school that managed to survive several purges. Ah, writing notes was so much fun. Too bad we never wrote anything worth keeping. Usually we just said "I'm bored" or "I hate this class." And then there were all of the obligatory words that we had to write in big, bubble letters. Good times.
  • A silvery purple gel pen that still works! I'm going to use it the next time I write in my journal. I'm excited.
  • Several spiders. But that's nothing new.
  • A cross-stitch needle. I can't even count how many of those that I have lost over the years, and I find it somewhat odd that I managed to find one in the clutter of my locker. Whoever said finding a needle in a haystack was impossible?
  • A black army dude for our Risk game (who still had his head attached). In honor of finding our precious MIA man, me and Kin played a game of Risk and I won. All is right in the world.
  • Pictures. I have kept pretty good track of my pictures over the years because I have always enjoyed scrapbooking, but a few pictures still got lost in my locker. And I'm kind of glad, because there is nothing quite so fun as looking at old pictures you've never seen before. And I found my scrapbook that I made when I was like 11—I got double prints from my camera that year and I kept one set of pictures for my memory book and used the other pictures to satisfy my creative appetite. I cut out everyone's heads and glued them on to someone else's body. I even replaced a basketball with Danielle's head. I was a weird kid. (Actually, I haven't changed a whole lot—while I was looking through the pictures I immediately started planning a new mix-and-match scrapbook, only this time using Photoshop rather than scissors and glue.)
  • Packets and stashes from my maturation program in 5th grade. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I don't need to refer to those anymore . . .
  • Odds and ends from my senior year of high school.
  • Several stories that I wrote when I was a teenager. None of them are finished, and most of them are stupid, but I kept a few of them for future reading material.
  • A huge folder of band music from middle school. Pretty sure all of these copies were illegal, but I just couldn't bear to part with them at the time. However, seeing as I don't even have a flute anymore, I threw that folder away without too much hesitation.
Despite my little detour down memory lane, I still managed to find a spot for my movies and my books with room to spare.

Well, sort of.

I still have tons of stuff that I just couldn't get rid of—porcelain dolls and figurines, little-league softball trophies, old cameras and bouncy balls, birthday cards I received when I was in 2nd grade, an aluminum balloon that Vikki gave me for my 13th birthday (which still hasn't deflated, by the way), my DARE paraphernalia, artwork I created in middle school (I am definitely not an artist, but I am still proud of what I was able to scribble in my middle-school art classes), my huge Snow White puzzle, my stuffed animals, and the Wacky Wednesday book Tyrel made me when he was really little.

But those pieces of junk are still treasures to me. Maybe when I do the final deep clean before I get married I'll throw out my old teddy bears as heartlessly as I threw out my 3rd grade coloring book today, but until that day, my room will be stocked full of books, clothes, aphgans, dolls, and most importantly, memories. I love my room.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I did it!!!!

It's official! I graduated from college! It was kind of a surreal experience. I have fantasized about graduation for so long that it had started to feel like just another one of my imaginary situations. And then suddenly today came.

The ceremony itself wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, possibly because I graduated in August rather than April (fewer people to deal with). Ever since Tiffany's graduation 3 years ago, I have been afraid of going to another college convocation. None of us had slept the night before, we had uncomfortable chairs, and it went on for 3 STINKING HOURS. But mine was actually quite enjoyable. And it was only an hour long! My favorite part was Professor Carter's talk. And yes, I think we are related. Having polygamous ancestors that settled Orem and Santaquin makes encounters like these quite common. A lot of my high school friends seriously thought I was related to everyone. And in Payson, that's actually not far off.

Anyway—my favorite part of the talk was when he was talking about the importance of work. He told a story about how he was complaining about getting up early on a Saturday morning just to work, and his mom told him, "It's just the Carter in you." That was when I really knew that we were related. We Carters are famous for spending more time trying to get out of work than we do actually working.

That story was kind of irrelevant. But I just couldn't resist making myself seem more cool by proving that I am related to the convocation speaker. Moving on.

I have always thought that high school graduations were more significant than college graduations. It just seemed anti-climatical to have yet another ceremony celebrating the ascent into adulthood. But my college graduation sure felt more significant than my high school graduation. I am moving on to bigger and better things still, but they are NEW bigger and better things. It's time to put the world of academia behind me and take on new adventures, adventures that I have pretty much no preparation for—and that's what makes them so exciting.

Times of major change can be scary, but they can also be exciting. Big changes give us a chance to reflect on all the good things of the past and to look forward to the good things waiting for us in the future. It makes the present seem much more like a . . . well, a present. It is the best of the best.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting and a lot of looking forward during the past several months, and let me tell you, I like it where I'm at right at this moment.

Things I will miss:
  • Calling BYU home.
  • Commiserating with my fellow students about the harshness of college life. This may seem to be an odd thing to miss, but few people can truly connect with students. They're on their own, most of them are unmarried, and they are truly experiencing life for the first time. Close bonds are formed when you put a bunch of misfits together. No one understands students like students do.
  • Watching the seasons change. BYU is a beautiful place, whether it be summer, spring, winter, or fall. I'll miss studying outside, walking home during blizzards, and enjoying the mountain scenery every time I walk outside.
  • Strolling around in the dark. BYU is awesome at night. No matter how tired (or hungry) I was, the magic of BYU nighttime never ceased to affect me. It was times like that this I truly felt that BYU was where I was supposed to be.
  • Buying books every semester. This is a major insight into my nerdiness, but even during the semester that I spent like $700 on books, I was still giddy with excitement (and the after-effects of a heart attack) at the prospect of all the unread pages I had to lug home.
  • Class discussions. English majors are awesome.
  • Intense discussions at work regarding a usage issue or a word like "travesty." I love being in a group of editing people because we can talk about en dashes and adverbials without anyone calling us freaks (or pompous jerks) and we can just feed off of each other. Everyone needs to be a part of a nerd group.
  • Food Fridays. Our Indiana Jones, England, and Michael Jackson themed lunch hours will not be forgotten any time soon.
  • The excitement and chaos of the end of every semester: hugely long testing center lines, the late nights studying, and the extra hours of watching Disney movies. I always loved finals week—it was the one week of the semester that I got to watch everyone else suffer under their workloads while I floated around mostly burdenless.
  • The people that look at you, then shake their heads, muttering, "College students." Most of us come to college straight out of teenagehood—and suddenly, life is fun again. We can do all sorts of crazy things, have a great time doing it, and the adults and the kids will be jealous of how crazy we are.
Things I look forward to:
  • Working on projects (and having time for them!) that aren't going to be graded by someone who thinks they know what I want better than I do.
  • Stability. Student life is fun and crazy, but sometimes it's really annoying when every decision you make is life-altering.
  • Learning how to sew, cook, and play the guitar.
  • Having more time to exercise and play the piano.
  • Becoming a wife and mother. This is the adventure I am most looking forward to.
  • Seeing where my career path takes me, or if it even takes me anywhere. Honestly, at the moment I could care less if I have a career—there are so many other things I could be doing with my life, and I have never been so free to do them.
  • Going to the temple. This was supposed to happen a week after graduation, but that has been postponed till probably October. (To my credit, the delay is not because of anything I did, but because of an absent-minded bishop.) But I'm actually glad about the delay. I think by Octoberish I will be over the freaked out stage and back to the excited and ready stage that I started out with.
  • Joining a book club.
  • Accomplishing something not for the grade, but for the satisfaction of doing it.
  • Seeing a little bit of the world.
  • Having increased independence.
  • Continuing to become the woman that God sees in me.
It's good to know that I have more to look forward to than I will miss. Life is one long adventure, and it doesn't end when your whole life changes. That is only the beginning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ode to Old Spice

WOW I am having a hard time concentrating today. Going to Olive Garden with my co-workers and applying for a few jobs has me all wired. Only an hour and fifteen minutes until Kin comes to my office, begging me to get her out of this place. :)

When I was at Olive Garden today, I saw the BYU Old Spice guy eating a few tables away from us. Marla was the first to spot him, and the rest of us took turns furtively turning around so that we could see for ourselves. It was him all right. I wonder how dramatically his life has changed since he became the "BYU Old Spice guy."

My mom is VERY against commercials. All growing up, we were required to mute the commercials. My mom daily threatens to execute my dad when he doesn't exert his King of the Remote powers to her satisfaction. As we older girls have moved out, we have continued the tradition of muting commercials—they just add all of this unnecessary noise in the background and they usually aren't saying anything we want to listen to anyway. And we haven't been able to fully turn off the Mom Radar—there are times that I just know that Mom is sitting at home, sensing that her children's minds are being corrupted by the annoying sounds of the commercial jingles and yelling. So, we mute the commercials. (However, we still stare at the silent screen, something that my Aunt Lore thought was quite humorous.)

However, my mom has gotten a little bit lenient over the years. Every now and then, my dad will unmute a commercial that he thinks is funny without suffering the effects of execution, and the commercial ban is completely lifted on Superbowl Sunday.

And then came the Old Spice commercial. Somehow, we all missed in on Superbowl Sunday. We must have all been asleep. Thankfully, I accidentally watched the commercial when I was at someone else's apartment, and didn't quite know what to think of it. The next time I watched Lost, I did the unthinkable and unmuted the TV when the shirtless black guy came on and I made Kimberly watch it. From that moment on, we were hooked on that commercial. After quoting it extensively to our family, we finally made them watch it on YouTube, and it became the highlight of all of our Lost parties and more—so much more. I thought we would be among the minority of the people who liked that commercial because it seemed to fit the Carter sense of humor so well, but I was soon proven wrong.

As of today, each of the Old Spice commercials have been viewed almost 18 million times on YouTube. I'm pretty sure that number will keep growing until it is nothing short of a bajillion. Not only are people still watching them, but people still talk about them with their mischievous smiles and childlike excitement.

And then the BYU version came out, and it is nothing short of awesome as well. I am sure hundreds, if not thousands, of people have made their own versions of this commercial (my family included). And it wouldn't surprise me if Old Spice sales have gone way up in the past 6 months or so.

I have often tried to pin down exactly why the Old Spice guy is so awesome. It's not (at least not entirely) his incredible good looks or his manly smell (neither of them helped him in his recent marriage that lasted approximately a month). The random dialogue and vastly different settings may contribute to the awesomeness. But why is it that everyone has heard of the commercials, and that everyone likes them?

I don't think it can be explained—the Old Spice guy is just awesome. Thank you for the hours of entertainment, Mr. Old Spice.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The terrifying black blob

When I was really little, one of my favorite movies was Little Nemo. For most of my life, I had only vague memories of the movie—I just knew that there was a terrifying black blob, a flying bed, and a fat king. In many of my bad dreams it was the terrifying black blob that was chasing me. (Not that I'm writing this, I wonder why I liked the movie so much.)

But now that terrifying black blob is no longer in my dreams—it is in my waking life.

I feel like I have spent my entire life working toward one thing: college graduation. That day will be here on Friday. I have experienced every possible emotion regarding this subject: fear, anxiety, relief, joy, confusion, sadness, and excitement. But as graduation gets closer and closer, I feel more and more than I have nothing to show for it. I have worked for two years gaining experience as an editor so that I would be prepared to start a career once I left college, but the fact remains that there is just nothing out there right now, nothing but the terrifying black blob.

When I graduated from high school, I knew that I was about to embark on the most exciting adventure of my life: going to college, moving out, experiencing the joys and heartaches of roommates, becoming the person I was meant to be. I knew I was in for a lot of major changes, but I knew what most of those changes would be. I saw a bright future ahead of me. It was scary, but I was ready to tackle it.

Now, 4 years later, when I look into my future, I see nothing. I don't see job prospects, I don't see additional schooling, I don't see any definite plans. Just that terrifying black blob. I have no idea what to prepare for because I don't know what's coming. I know that I need to just trust God and take a few steps in that terrifying darkness, but, being the meticulous planner for the future that I am, that prospect scares me more than entering my first class at BYU did (which I was 15 minutes late for because I underestimated the ridiculousness of parking at BYU), more than going to my first real job interview. It scares me more than almost anything else that I have encountered so far. I have had many trials and trying experiences thrown my way, but I was able to deal with them when they came. But this waiting in the dark abyss of the unknown is a trial that I have not had to experience before, at least not at this intensity.

I saw a list in the JFSB the other day of the English graduates who are going on to grad school. Many of the people on that list have become my friends throughout my time at BYU. While I still feel too burned out to even think about going to grad school, I envied those grad students a little bit. Okay, I envied them a lot. In a few weeks, they will be back in school, discussing literature and writing passionately. In a few weeks, my siblings will be going back to school as well. As unexcited as some of them may be, I wish that I had a year of schooling to look forward to, the excitement of wondering what things I will learn this year, what books I will love or hate, and what the class discussions will be like. They have another year of growth ahead of them—I have nothing.

So while I am floundering through space right now, I am clinging to one hope. About a year ago, Kimberly and I stumbled upon the beloved Little Nemo at Blockbuster. We made Mom rent it, and we briefed Shannan on all of the wonderful things that the movie had in store. However, the movie wasn't what we expected it to be. For starters, it was kind of dumb (okay, really dumb), and most surprisingly, the terrifying black blob WASN'T SCARY.

So that it what I am clinging to right now—the fact that that terrifying black blob isn't as scary as I think it is. Just as Nemo was able to find a way to lock up the blob, I will find a way to light my future with light and colors. The blob will not be the winner at the end of the day.

But this blob isn't just going to go away because I am trying to convince myself that it's not scary. I am going to have to take bigger steps in the dark and keep walking until I finally see the light.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's (almost) that time of year . . .

Don't worry, I'm not going to complain about being bored.

I had a spectacular morning. All night I was comforted by the flashes of lightning and peels of thunder (don't ask me why that is comforting—it just is) and then I woke up to a beautiful cloudy morning. I took a hot shower (that's 2 in a row!!) and then I ate my breakfast outside and smelled the delicious air while I listened to the storm building to the north.

And then I drove to work and was completely attacked by rain. Lighting was flashing on either side of me as I raced down the freeway. My feeling of power was dampened a bit whenever I drove by a huge truck that completely engulfed me in water, but I emerged victorious.

Stormy weather always makes me ridiculously happy. For one, there is nothing better than curling up with a blanket, a good book, and a mug of hot chocolate while a storm rages outside. Or watching Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter while the world is dark and gloomy. Or playing cards in your socks and pajamas. For some reason, everything is more fun when it's raining.

But I was finally able to put my finger on another reason why I love storms so much: they are a sign of things to come. After the storms come my favorite time of year—September to December. I am not naive enough to think that summer is over just because it has been raining for the past few days (this is Utah, after all), but this wonderful warm rain is kind of the beginning of the end of summer. Soon, that rain will turn cold, and that rain will turn into snow. Soon the leaves will start to change color and the smell of chimney smoke will fill the air. School will start. The coming of winter is a very happy time for me because of all of the things I associate with winter—Thanksgiving, Christmas, family, snow, fireplaces, hot chocolate—the list could go on and on forever.

For my family, the holidays start on August 14. From August 14 to January 1 we have 7 birthdays and 7 holidays. For several months there is always someone to buy a present for, a family dinner to prepare for, or a holiday to look forward to. It is a truly grand time of year. And those times are made more magical by the moisture falling from the sky and the smell of chimney smoke in the air.

But for now, we still have the chance to enjoy summer for all of its glories. We can play out in the rain and jump in warm puddles, watch the lightning every night, and listen to the thunder. We can bask in the sunlight, enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, and listen to the birds chirp. Yep, the best time of year upon us.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Being bored at work = zero fun sir

Back in the days before I actually had bills and responsibilities, I used to envy people when they complained about their boring jobs. I can be a really hard worker if I want to be, but I also spend a lot of my time trying to get out of work. So years ago, the thought of doing nothing and getting paid for it seemed like a dream come true. Then came the day that I actually had to experience getting paid for doing nothing.

Domino's was my first introduction to paid boredom. As crazy as some busy days were, I would have picked that insanity over the insanity of boredom any day. On those horribly long, slow opens, the only thing I wanted to do was go home and read a book or hang out with my family. Instead, I would be stuck at work, either pretending to be busy or trying to make conversation with the opening manager. I don't think anyone could pay me enough to make me enjoy that kind of boredom.

Then I started working at jobs that involved developing skills that would lead to an editing career. My first job at the Humanities Publication Center usually (until recently) has barely enough for me to do—and even then, I have to work on my projects as slowly as possible to stretch out the time. My second job at Publications & Graphics doesn't even try to keep me busy—I am paid to be here, not to work. Right now, I am quite valuable at the HPC and I am scrambling to finish up a couple major projects before graduation; time flies while I am working there. But the first 4 hours of my day are zero fun sir. It doesn't help that people are always cutting through my office, which makes me feel like I should at least pretend to be busy. I can't even pull up YouTube and watch a movie or something. Telling everyone constantly that I don't have enough to do doesn't seem make sense to anyone—I am, after all, just an intern—it's supposed to take me 4 hours to edit 300 words, after all.

Right now it is 9:23. I am stuck here until 12:58. The only thing I have on my agenda for my last week here is to make copies of permission forms. I am down to 3 folders, and it'll probably take me 10 minutes to do each one. Unless by some miracle someone actually trusts me enough to do something substantial, I have a feeling I am going to be spending a lot of time on my blog for the next week. That and looking for a new job.

Yes, responsibility can be stressful and frustrating at times, but at least then I feel like I'm doing something with my life. Sometimes I just get tired of trying to impress people. We students are more capable than most people give us credit for.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cloud gazing: A study on individual perspectives

Last night, some of my siblings and I took advantage of the warm summer night and hung out on the trampoline, just like the good old days. After we got tired of jumping (so after like 5 minutes or so), we laid on our backs and looked up at the clouds. Star gazing is one of my favorite summer night activities, but cloud gazing turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience as well.

To be frank, the clouds weren't that interesting—finding objects required a lot of imagination from the viewer. The fun part was hearing all of the different interpretations of the triangle-looking blob hanging above us: I thought it looked like an elephant blowing water on a sea horse, Shannan thought it looked like a spaceship, and Tyrel thought it looked like a piece of pizza creating a black hole.

Ironically though, there was one moment that Shannan and I were describing the same thing—but we were looking in different directions. I saw Dumbledore, whose face was slowly caving in, with a really long beard that ended in his dead hand, and Shannan saw the same thing, only from a different direction.

The imagination is capable of seeing pretty much anything—you can make up something on your own, or you can convince yourself that you're seeing the same thing the person next to you is seeing. Left to our own cloud interpretations though, I noticed somewhat of a pattern among the things we saw, a pattern that probably would have been more prominent if the light had stayed with us a little bit longer.

Tyrel generally saw abstract shapes—smiley faces, triangles, and blobs. However, he did get a little more imaginative at the end—he did describe an angular fish that looked fierce. Shannan and I got a kick out of that.

Shannan tended to see things that were not of this world—a space ship, aliens, and the Star Trek symbol. And Shannan is often not entirely on Earth—she's usually off playing with her characters from her books. Whenever we have a rehearsal, Kimberly has to ask her several times: "Are you in this world, Shannan?"

I'm not going to try to interpret what I saw—that would be cheating. But as a summary, some of the things I saw were an elephant, a sea horse, Dumbledore, and the phantom of the opera. I don't really see a connection among all of those things. Maybe someone else will be able to make sense of me.

So aside from making for a very enjoyable evening, cloud gazing can tell you a lot about a person—how they think, what they think about, and to what extent they use their imaginations. Maybe I'll start instating cloud-gazing activities on all of my future dates. Maybe that'll be a better monitor regarding whether a possible relationship could come out of it—it's either that or make the decision based on feelings or something.

Then again, I think I'll just leave cloud gazing out of the complicated portions of life and just enjoy it for the simplistic entertainment that it is.