Thursday, September 30, 2010

A biking excursion

Today, just after I finished my workout (20 minutes on the elliptical and 20ish minutes of arm and abs exercises), Tyrel asked me if I wanted to go on a bike ride with him. He's asked me to go with him a couple times before, and today was yet another fantastically gorgeous day, and frankly, what else am I going to do? so I gave in this time. I figured that I could handle it because I've been steadily getting into shape for a month now, and besides, I just couldn't resist the perfect fall weather.

We pulled out my dad's dusty bike that he only managed to ride once before giving it up. I never quite understood why it was so hard for my parents to ride a bike, and while we were riding down our first flat stretch of road, I was even more confused. Riding a bike was easy! Why had I been avoiding it for so long?

It was when we started going up our first hill (actually, the whole bike ride was basically one big, long hill) when I realized something that I had overlooked: I was going a bike ride with Tyrel. There was NO way I could have prepared myself for that. To make matters worse, I haven't even touched a bike in over a decade. In fact, the last time I rode a bike, I was still half convinced that it was a horse, I had enough energy to run it up Cortez Drive while talking to it, and it had a life history a lot like Black Beauty's.

So there I was, puffing like crazy but trying to breathe quietly (didn't really work) while Tyrel was talking up a storm about golf courses, fires, houses he's delivered to, dirt trails he has tried to take his go-cart on, and the 7 bikes that he has had in his lifetime. And I was stupid enough to try to respond every now and then, just to prove that I wasn't dying. However, I don't think my attentiveness (or lack of it) would have affected his enthusiasm one bit.

I think the biggest problem for me was not so much the bike ride itself, but trying to keep up with Tyrel's endless energy. If I had taken the ride by myself, it would have taken about twice as long, but the walk up wouldn't have been nearly as miserable. Oh well.

My pain and fatigue disappeared when we started the downward descent, though. The rush of wind on my now-purple face felt exquisitely wonderful and the speed was exhilarating. It was the closest I'll ever get to flying. So while Tyrel was pointing out landmarks, barking at passing dogs, and trying to keep up a conversation, I was enjoying the view and the wind, thinking about all of the similar rides down Elk Ridge I experienced when I was younger and a lot more carefree.

And so, I thus survived an hour-long bike ride with Tyrel, the sucker of all energy. And I think I might do it again, though not after working out on the elliptical.

On second thought, I'd rather ride a motorcycle.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A picture of fall

I've been wanting to write something on my blog for a week now, but with my life being as meaningless as it is, there just isn't anything to WRITE about. It's been very frustrating.

However, I have gotten over the depression of not having something going on in my life, and have started to focus my energies on other things, such as making a cookbook and trying out a few of the recipes. It has been quite fun putting it together, and now I actually want to cook something. I've never been much of a cook; I am far too lazy and I usually don't have the time, anyway. However, time is about the only thing I have these days, and I've got generations of good cooks to live up to. Both my grandmas were phenomenal cooks, and both my parents are excellent cooks as well—they just don't really have the time to do it. So I am going to give this goal a try and we'll see what happens.

I also—finally—went for a drive today. Tyrel was excited about that—he got the house to himself for like an hour. I went to Smith's to pick up a few things, and then I took the long way home (through Salem, to the top of Woodland Hills, and back down again).

It felt wonderful to be driving again. At first I just reminisced about all of the houses that I used to deliver pizza to. Even years later, I still glare at the houses where the people always stiffed me, or never shoveled their driveway, or never bothered to get dressed before answering the door, or didn't believe us when we said we could get there in under a half hour, which meant I always had to wait 10 minutes for them to get home. And I still smile at the houses where I got good tips, met friendly people, or encountered really extravagant Christmas decorations.

But once I got to Woodland Hills Drive, I got to enjoy the scenery a bit more. I took my camera with me so that I could take pictures along the way. I really should stop doing that—I've already got tons of fall pictures from similar excursions like the one I took today, and I wasn't really watching where I was going half the time. True, there wasn't a lot of traffic, but there was the hazard of falling off the mountain or running into a house that I had to worry about.

I always hear people say that we Elk Ridgeians have a beautiful view. I always heartily agree with them until they add "of the valley" to that sentence. Then I just feel confused. Does no one ever look at the mountains on their way up Elk Ridge Drive, or are they too preoccupied with getting to the top of the road to notice? I love that drive up that hill. Not only does it bring me home, but the mountains are always spectacular, no matter what the season (however, I am a bit biased toward the fall season). I would much rather look at that scenic view than look down at Payson valley, which is full of cars, pollution, and buildings.

So all in all, I really enjoyed my drive. I am to the "Su" songs on my iPod, so my drive was full of songs about sunshine and summertime, which only added to the good feelings in my car. As I raced down those long stretches of road with my window down, I couldn't help but feel deeply content with my life.

I am planning on taking another one of these drives in a few weeks when the leaves are even more colorful than they are now. Heck, I might even make it a daily thing.

I decided last year that if I could pick any time of year to get married, it would be October. The weather is usually still fantastic and nature puts on a show more beautiful than spring, summer, or winter ever could. The browns, yellows, oranges, and reds of the trees would add another level of perfection to that special day. And, since I am done with school I don't need to plan everything around school anymore—all I need to do is find a guy who is done with school, and then I could make this dream a reality. :)

However, wedding or no wedding, the fall season will forever have a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another mid-day drag

The hour is once again upon me. I have done my routine for the day—I worked out, applied for a job, took a shower and did my hair (which was a bit silly of me because it was raining; straightening your hair during a rainstorm is a bit like eating a candy bar while washing your face), made lunch, watched a movie with Tyrel, read Harry Potter—and it's only 1:24. It is usually about now that I start to get bored and really sleepy. I've never been much of a morning person, and afternoons definitely aren't my favorite either. I'm much more alive at night.

But I finally got my sleeping pattern back on track again and I am going to try really hard not to take a nap again.

I'm kind of surprised that I haven't gone crazy yet. I've been out of work for almost a month now and I don't leave the house that often. There are definitely times when I wish that I had more in my life, and on days like today I am sick to death of being around Tyrel all the time, but for the most part, this freedom hasn't been so bad. It has forced me to slow down a little (actually, a lot) and to enjoy life the way it is.

Sometimes I will frantically try to finish up new projects because I figure that once I get a job, I won't have time to finish anything. But then I don't hear back from the latest person I had an interview with, and things will slow back down again.

I have found that I am not as self-motivated as I thought I was. If there is no reason to do something—whether that be money, grades, or responsibility—I have a hard time making myself do it. I know I should be using my time to help others, not just to indulge myself. I could be doing more to prepare myself for a career—I've only opened my new Chicago Manual of Style a couple of times. You would think that boredom and lack of excitement in my life would be a great motivator to get myself out there more, to accomplish something that'll affect someone other than just me. But I have become accustomed to this easy life I have got going.

I guess this shouldn't surprise me, though. I have always been a lot more productive when I have too many things on my plate.

Sigh. I don't know if this blog entry was sufficient to sidestep my nap. When you've got all the time in the world to do stuff, it's really hard to actually DO stuff.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dreams and performances

Last night I had a dream that we had our concert. I've been trying not to think about that all week, but with Saturday looming closer and closer, it's kind of impossible to not think about it. I wasn't nervous about it until I had this stupid dream—now I'm afraid that everything is going to go wrong, just like it did in my dream.

In my dream, we never got to have a dress rehearsal because Tiffany was sleeping, Kimberly was out fulfilling some obligation or another, and who knows where Shannan was. So me and Mom tried to pull it together but it never happened. When the concert started, there were 1000 people there, but by the end of the concert we only had 100 people left. Tyrel did the wrong Bill Cosby impression, kids were running across the stage while we were performing and I was pushing them off in my anger, Shannan kept trying to hold my hand while we were singing "Somewhere Out There," and my Aunt Deona got up in the middle of the performance and told us that we needed to spruce things up a bit because we were too boring.

Strangely enough, I didn't dream of major mess-ups or costume mishaps. So I think what worries me the most is just the fact that I haven't been in a performance like this since high school. It was all good fun when I was in Trouveres, but this is a concert that WE put together on our own, simply for our own entertainment. (There are other reasons, of course, but when it really comes down to it, we just want to show off. :) ) I think the thing that worries me most about this whole thing as what people will think of us for putting on our own concert—starring ourselves.

But that is just stupid. People do stuff like this all the time. And how many people get to perform with their mom and sisters? Actually, in Mormon communities performances like these aren't that uncommon, but still.

But I think the most important thing about this concert is the journey we took getting here. When I bought all that a capella music for my mom last Christmas, I didn't think that we would actually make it to where we are today. I figured that we would just talk about having a concert and have fun singing with each other every now and then.

However, it was the concert idea that kept us practicing. If we didn't have that goal in mind, we would not have practiced once a week for several months. We Carter girls have busy lives (except for me at—I have no life right now) and we would not have been able to sacrifice the time if we didn't have a greater purpose forcing us to get together. We never would have mastered any of our songs and we would have missed out on hours of giggling, memories, and outrageous choreography. (Don't worry—most of our choreography didn't make it to the final cut.) And all that singing, of course. Jeremy thinks we just giggled all the time, but there was some singing going on.

So I guess I'll keep that in mind tomorrow when I find myself on a stage for the first time in 4 years. When we start adding more husbands and kids to the family, we won't have nearly as much time for stuff like this, and I know that I will remember these days fondly. Even if tomorrow is a huge flop, it was still fun getting there.

Still, I'll be a heck of a lot more calm after this is all over.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Temptation and Harry Potter

I feel that I have done a good job with my summer reading. Of all my summer goals, reading lots of books is usually the easiest one to accomplish. It's the finding new books that is the hard part. I have a tendency to reread books that I like. Especially Harry Potter. Since I broke out of school in April, I have read 18 books, only 6 of which were rereads. That's pretty good for me. However, always lurking at the back of my mind was those Harry Potter books that I so love and haven't picked up since last June . . .

And then the temptation became even greater when I got 7 new, beautiful, hardback Harry Potter books for my graduation present—all my very own. They even came in their own Harry Potter trunk. I put them in my closet, away from easy access but right in my line of vision from my bed. Every night, I would gaze longingly at those books, wanting to read them, to smell their pages, to stretch out their new bindings.

The temptation was easier to resist when I had a long line of books to read. But, I finished the first portion of the Runelords series, I read all the books that Shannan read in her English class (most of them, anyway), and I finally got my hands on Mockingjay. For the first time in a couple of months, I am not sure where to go for entertainment next. And those Harry Potter books are beckoning to me, and everyone in my family is lost in the Harry Potter world. (I'm pretty much always lost in that world, actually.)

However, I think finishing Mockingjay tipped the scales for me. I need to read something warm and fuzzy.

So this morning, feeling like I was invading sacred territory, I reached up into my closet, opened the Harry Potter trunk, and pulled out the first book. I was almost afraid to start reading it because it is in such good shape. And there is that part of me—the part that tells me not to eat the chocolate chips—that keeps nagging me.

However, my evil side wins (as it usually does) and I dash upstairs, carefully take off the dust jacket, and begin reading. Who cares if I haven't forgotten a whole lot yet—I haven't read a Harry Potter book for 15 months and it's high time that I truly immerse myself in the world of magic. And it'll still be a magical experience because I have been anticipating it for so long.

Be prepared for a lot more talk of Harry Potter in the immediate future. Right now, however, I am going to find out what is bugging Mr. Dursley so much.

Monday, September 13, 2010

100,000 miles and counting

My car hit 100,000 miles today. Which is kind of a miracle because I bought it over two years ago when it had 87,000 miles on it. And I even delivered pizza with it for a little while.

As I've been sitting at home, networking and playing, the main thing I've missed about working/going to school is the half-hour drive. I have always loved driving, and since I got an iPod a few years ago, driving became infinitely more fun. The time I spend alone in my car is time that I treasure. When I was living with roommates, it is what kept me sane. I need my alone time, and driving in my car while singing along with my favorite music is the best kind of alone time there is.

It gets even better during this time of year, too. I remember delivering some pizzas to Woodland Hills during October and I was astonished by the beauty of the nature around me. Elk Ridge is beautiful, but Woodland Hills might top Elk Ridge during the fall. I'm looking forward to going for more drives over the next few months.

I kind of hope that once I get a job, I'll always have a half-hour drive to look forward to every day, to and from work. There are few things that can soothe me like a nice, relaxing drive with my Sing, Sing, Sing playlist.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dentists appointments and car repairs

I have never liked going to the dentist. It's a bit disturbing when you hear the same sounds at the dentist that you hear at a car repair shop. It wouldn't surprise me if the car guys use the same metal hooks to remove a tire that the evil dentists use to clean your teeth with.

My fear of dentists began when I was about 4 or 5. I was playing with Jessica that day and she had to go to the dentist to get a tooth pulled. So Lore took both of us along for the ride. I was impressed by the massive building and was rather excited when we walked into the room where my cousin was about to get operated on—there were tons of stuffed animals in the corner, a TV in the other corner (probably playing a show like Barney, which my mom never let me watch), and overall, the room was bright and cheerful.

Jessica sat in the cool chair in the middle of the room and the dentist began his work. I was still a bit transfixed by the coolness of the room when Jessica started screaming. I looked over, and watched, horrified, as the dentist yanked a tooth out of Jessica's mouth and Lore did all that she could to comfort Jessica. I stood frozen in my corner and watched as tears pooled from Jessica's eyes and trailed down her cheeks.

From that day on, my worst fear was getting one of my teeth pulled.

A few years after that terrifying experience, I went to my own dentist for the first time. I had heard all sorts of horror stories from my friends—how you can't swallow while you are being operated on, how you have to keep your mouth wide open for an hour, how you have to put a fluoride denture thing in your mouth that tastes disgusting, and worse of all, how it hurts.

I remember walking in and seeing all of these gruesome pictures of teeth. And the children that were smiling with their dentists didn't look happy—they looked tortured. So with my overactive imagination, my first dental procedure was just as bad as I thought it would be. I was afraid to swallow for hours afterward because I was afraid of being poisoned. I didn't want my picture to be taken because I knew that they would be able to find me again—and then they would put me up in the wall of tortured children who were forced to be silent about their pain so that the evil dentists wouldn't lose their jobs.

It was many years after that that we started going to the dentist regularly. My childish fears hadn't entirely diminished. It didn't help that the dentist we had was "thorough," as she phrased it. I would go home with 20 new sores in my mouth every time I went in for my 6-month checkup. The sign on the door that said "Painless Dentist" reminded me of the pictures of tortured children on that wall—it was only there to appease the parents. But we children knew what really went on at the dentist's office.

Getting a cavity filled is always fun, too. Having several people sitting above you with masks on as they exchange iron hooks and put strange things in your mouth must be a dentist's cruel idea of entertainment. When I was suffocating under their fun today, I actually smelled the smoke that Bill Cosby jokes about. And the water sucker thing really did try to suck up my face a couple of times.

I will admit that my current dentist is actually very nice and very gentle, but one good dentist doesn't make up for all of the evil ones out there—the ones that trade tools with the mechanics at the local tire shop. No, I'm pretty sure there is still a league of evil dentists out there to get us all.

It's a good thing I was born with perfect teeth and the worst thing that ever happened to me was that I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out—and who knows what happened during that time. Dentists probably put you under so that you can't hear their maniacal laughter as they test out the tools they got from Satan.

But on a brighter note, 6 more months until I have to face the devil's apprentice again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And the job hunt begins. Again.

Last week I was determined to take things slow and not worry too much about applying for any jobs. By Wednesday I almost went crazy. I did have a job interview on Thursday and I did a little bit of networking throughout the week, so I wasn't completely useless, but all that leisure time wasn't that exciting. I don't know why I have to keep learning this, but free time is only good if you actually earn it.

My boss told me that the average college graduate spends 40 hours a week for 16 weeks looking for a job before they get hired. I've been looking for a job since July, but I haven't spent that many hours a week searching. So I guess that means I need to get cracking.

I started contacting some of the people on the list of contacts my boss gave me on my last day of work, and I have already received a couple of responses. So far, no one is hiring at this moment, but they all sounded hopeful for the future. Even though I have been job searching for a couple of months now, this second round feels a lot more exciting. Before, I was just a name amongst a bunch of other names, with nothing other than my resume to set me apart from the other applicants. Not that interesting. But now, I have a vast network of new names to contact, people who know and love Mel and who will be willing to give me a second look just because I can say that I know Mel. That gives me so much more hope than sending in applications to some random company that I just happened to find on the internet.

So, I have a feeling it'll be a while still before I find a job, but at least I'm getting my name and credentials out there for real this time. Heck, I may even get a phone call from a person I've never even heard of before who heard about me from someone that Mel recommended that I contact. This whole job searching thing is getting exciting again. There are opportunities out there; I just have to find them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Excitement = weird sleeping pattern

As a graduation gift to myself, I bought an Adobe package that had InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and a bunch of other programs for my laptop. I finally got the package about a week ago, and that was about when I stopped sleeping at night.

I have been wanting to work on some design projects at home for so long--and for once I don't have to get graded on it or have a supervisor change it all on me at the last minute. I have dozens of projects in mind that I want to do, and when I am lying in bed at night, I can't stop thinking about how I will arrange the pictures on the page, what fonts I will use, which color scheme I will use--it's no wonder I haven't been sleeping much lately.

The frustrating thing is, though, is that I have all these great ideas in my head, but I don't know how to put all of them onto the computer. And I'm awake all night coming up with new ideas. Sometimes I think I should have been a graphics design major. It was something I considered, but I didn't have any experience with it at all until my senior year of college, and by then it was really too late to change anything. I don't regret being an English major, but if I could do it all over again, I would have taken a lot more design classes, at least adding the CHum minor. Ah well.

But I spent some time playing with Illustrator today, and put in some new changes for our concert program, so hopefully my mind will let me sleep tonight. If not I'm just going to give in to my creative appetite and get out of bed and turn my laptop on and see where my late-night brain will take me.

Actually, that's not a bad idea . . . Why is it that my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Workout week 1: Success!!

I know a lot of people who are always preparing for a marathon or triathlon or that are always lamenting that they didn't get their morning 5-mile run that day. Quite frankly, I think those people are crazy. If I had the choice between running a marathon and jumping off a cliff, I think I would have to take the cliff: it would be a lot faster and less painful.

However, I have to admit that I have quite a bit of respect and admiration for runners. I will only run if I'm in a room all by myself where no one can see my red face, I don't have to sacrifice any sleep or playing time, and there is a TV in front of me to help pass the time. Sure, running can be fun when you're dashing to first base, diving for a frisbee, or racing someone down the street, but that only requires a couple of seconds of adrenaline and energy. Anything that lasts much longer than that is just not worth the pain.

Now that I am jobless and done with school, one of the first things on my list of things to do was to get started on a workout schedule again. I spent the last couple of summers jogging and lifting weights with the Gilmore girls (although I did all the work—all they did was eat and talk). So I've been watching Lost again. I owe a lot of my good health to TV shows that come in DVD form. I don't look forward to the sweat and pain every day—I look forward to seeing what will happen to the characters next.

And boy, am I sore. But I successfully managed to work out every day this week. And already I feel better mentally and physically. I'm not completely hopeless in the exercise department—I usually elect to take the stairs rather than the elevator, I enjoy leisurely strolls, and I try to stay somewhat active—but it's a bit embarrassing when I can't play one-on-one basketball with my little brother or swing a plastic baseball bat 3 times without being sore for days afterward. That's why I even bother to do this workout thing at all. That and I don't want to go insane from boredom.

So, I may not be a runner, but I can still appreciate what a little bit of jogging can do to my system. Just don't try to convince me to join a race or something.