Monday, July 25, 2011


If the pioneers were to visit our day, I wouldn't be surprised is they mistook our loud and explosive Pioneer Day celebrations for loud and explosive declarations of war in their honor. Especially now that aerial fireworks are legal and have turned the whole of Utah into pyromaniacs.

Not that I'm complaining or anything. The bangs and sparkles of last night pulled me away from my movie watching and cross-stitching on the couch to my July-roasted balcony where I had a good view of multiple firework shows. Soon after I stepped outside, the sprinklers started up, which did what the night sky couldn't--cool down the air.

(I may as well join the "I don't know how the pioneers survived that" club: I don't know how they survived without air conditioning. I'm pretty sure it didn't make their trials any easier.)

As the sky lit up with multicolored fire and smoke drifted lazily in the feeble breeze, I kept thinking how glad I was that we have so many reasons to celebrate: holidays that warrant time off work, anniversaries (even the ones that celebrate the first time you ate at a certain restaurant with a certain someone), rites of passage, changing seasons, sports, accomplishments and promotions, survival of another school year, paying off a car, birthdays, weddings, pointless holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day. Some celebrations call for loud explosions, some need only a dark, peaceful night, and others require lots of people and cake.

Years ago, Tiffany said something in fast and testimony meeting that always stuck with me: life is a gift. Even though we've been promised something immeasurably better in the next life, the one we've got holds innumerable blessings. Every time I see a row of tulips or smell the air after a rainstorm, I can't help but feel extremely lucky to be here; this life was meant to test us, but it was also meant to bring us joy. God could have sent us down here to suffer endlessly, but he equipped us with far more blessings than we could ever count.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to celebrate life, because sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes life because a vortex of time, passing us by while we struggle to find our place in it. And while I think it's unnatural to be happy all of the time, it's a bit of a waste of a pretty awesome gift if we don't take the time every now and then to smell the roses or spend a fortune on something that you're just going to blow up later. We only get to live this life once, and this life has so much to offer.

It sounds like Communal Firework Show round 2 is starting. I wonder how long this one will go on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's a boys!

So, it looks like the first grandkids in the Carter family are going to be boys, so the name speculation has officially begun. Since I rarely take anything seriously, I've come up with a list of awesome and completely legitimate duo names, although I'll admit that Jeremy has been a bit more creative on that front. Must have something to do with serving a mission in New Orleans.

Anyway, coming up with names for twins is like 27 times more fun than coming up with names for just  one kid. Such as:
  • Jimmer and Jackson. This idea sprouted long before we even knew Tiffany was having twins, so clearly, fate must be telling us something.
  • Jackson and Carter. If Jimmer is a bit too much, Carter would work too--then we could get the mom's and the grandma's maiden names in there. Too bad a cousin already snatched up the Carter idea. Ruined my fun.
  • Or, we could go with Cooper and Jackson, and get the grandma and the great-grandma in there. Too bad Cooper's been taken already too. Sheesh.
  • Fred and George. You knew that one was coming.
  • Voldemort and You-Know-Who. If for some reason I ever have two cats, these will be their names.
  • Chip and Dale.
  • Nephi and Lehi. Or, if you want to start some intense sibling rivalry, go with Laman and Nephi.
  • Alma the Older and Alma the Younger.
  • Frodo and Sam. I just made the connection that Nephi's faithful "sidekick" was named Sam too. Interesting . . .
  • Gimli and Legolas.
  • Gandalf and Dumbledore. I have a hard time imagining either of them as babies, mostly because I can't get rid of the beards.
  • Romulus and Royal.
  • Marco and Polo. You've gotta admit that would be cool.
  • Elijah and Isaiah.
  • Calvin and Hobbes. I hope I have a nephew like Calvin some day. :)
  • Batman and Robin. The thought of naming a baby "Batman" cracks me up.
  • Spock and Kirk. That one's for Shannan.
  • Beethoven and Mozart. We could call them Be and Mo for short.
  • Beavis and Butthead. Sorry, had to throw that one in there.
  • Billy and Joel.
  • Cory and Shawn.
  • Kwan and Steve.
  • Jack and Sawyer. Okay, enough with the t.v. shows.
  • Tom and Huck.
  • Mike and Ike.
  • Melvin and Marvin.
  • Simon and Garfunkle. No idea if I spelled that right.
  • Lamoni and Mahonri.
  • Thing 1 and Thing 2.
I could go on for pages and pages, but I've gotta stop some time. If nothing else, I think I've come up with a pretty good list of Halloween costumes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A long time coming

I'm sure you're all wondering why I haven't said a word about Harry Potter over the past few weeks, especially considering that the final movie comes out in just a few days. The 7th movie inspired a weeks worth of HP-related posts, which culminated in a long, entertaining wait in line with a host of other college students, many of whom had to wake up early for classes and janitorial jobs the next day. (I, being unemployed at the time, didn't have to worry about that). I had spent months reading everything I could about the upcoming movie and watching every trailer and interview that came out. By the time I was finally sitting in the theater at 12:19 or whatever, I was starting to feel the effects of an intense adrenaline rush, i.e., headache and wired jitteriness.

I'm not feeling any of that now. Sure, I'm excited to see the movie, but I think that is largely because I am seeing it at 3 in the morning with my mom and sisters in a D-Box theater. Talk about crazy awesomeness.

I also exercised better discipline as PR for this movie started coming out, mostly because I wanted to experience the movie without knowing about all the little changes beforehand. (I couldn't entirely screen myself though; is my home page on my laptop, and it's hard not to scan the headlines and pictures when they're popping out right in front of you.) However, I'm thinking that this wasn't such a brilliant plan, because reading up on movie tidbits greatly contributes to my angst to see the movie, and seeing the movie with no warning of changes beforehand may have a negative affect on my first viewing of the movie. And with this being the awesome conclusion to it all, I don't want that to happen.

The main reason for the lack of insane, health-questioning excitement I usually feel, though, is that this ending has been a long time coming; the real ride ended 4 years ago. I said good-bye to Harry Potter (sort of) when the 7th book came out, and everything since then, while partially filling the void inside of me and allowing me to live in denial a little bit longer, has been a bit anti-climatical.

I've been to my fair share of midnight releases (both for the books and the movies), but the hours leading up to the release of the final Harry Potter instalment will sit forever in my memory: sitting on the warm blacktop surrounded by fans and Harry Potter paraphernalia, watching fans reenact Dumbledore's death, listening to fans discuss their theories on what the 7th book would entail, reveling in the static electricity in the air that came from thousands of very eager fans, and talking hard with Shannan all night while Kin did all she could to remain conscious (she eventually gave up and went back to my car to sleep while Shannan and I waited for midnight to roll around). That night was special on a lot of levels, and while I think the final movie will induce some of those emotions, it will be nothing like that night.

When midnight finally rolled around and the first lucky fans were able to lay their hands on that precious book, I almost had this feeling that the world had just changed. My world, at least, had changed, and so did the world of many other decade-long Harry Potter fans. People walked out of the store with their noses planted into the books, and rather than going home, many fans plopped down on the ground or leaned up against their cars to start reading. There was an odd hush around these people, as if they were holding something sacred that demanded respect. That didn't stop some of us still waiting in line from asking how many pages it was or even barreling out of line to simply touch the book.

If I were to make a list of the top 10 best moments of my life, holding the 7th Harry Potter book in my hands for the first time would definitely make the list--probably even the top 5. Even if I had falling in love, getting married, and having my first child to add to that list, Harry Potter would still be at the bottom of that list somewhere. Moments like that are supremely bittersweet: the joy that comes from knowing that you are about to embark on a new exciting journey is almost overpowered by the sadness you feel because of what you had to leave behind to get that new adventure. I almost couldn't bring myself to read the book at all that night because the familiar comfort of being inside an active, changing Harry Potter world was just that strong. It had been a huge part of my adolescence, and I ached to think that that part of my life would be ending.

But of course, I couldn't just sit there while the world changed around me. Despite my attempts to take my time, I finished the book in 2 days no sweat, even with the open and close shifts and worked at Domino's. At least I had the comfort of knowing that I could read the entire series over again after I read "All was well" on the last page.

So I don't think that the final movie of the Harry Potter franchise will leave me reeling with major life changes, but I think I'll feel something of those emotions again this weekend as I participate in another closing chapter.

But, alas, it is past time to move on, I think. Maybe in another 30 years or so we'll get another "Jimmer" of the book industry, and I'll be able to experience a ride like this all over again. You never know.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The pillow

At first glance, pillows seem to be merely bits of fluff that complement the bedroom set. Their main function is to "finish off" the decor. Certainly the pillow pales in importance next to the mattress and bedding.

I'm not sure why that stigma has established itself into my mind of the hierarchy of sleeping accessories, because I know very well that, being the picky sleeper that I am, I need a good pillow if I want to have a relaxing, peaceful night of sleep.

This concept brutally reinforced itself into my brain several times over the past couple of weeks. I was first reminded of this when I spent a weekend at home a few weeks ago. The pillow currently occupying my room was paper thin and rock hard, and seemed to take up negative space, causing my head to sink into a black hole, my neck hanging off the edge of the chasm, as I tried to get comfortable.

I didn't want to repeat this experience for the 4th of July weekend, so I came prepared with my own perfectly shaped pillow. I slept much better all three nights I was home (though the double mattress pad may have had something to do with that).

However, my brilliant plan sort of backfired because, despite my meticulous efforts not to leave anything behind, I forgot to grab my pillow before I headed out the door, loaded down with more stuff than I probably needed for one long weekend. I realized I had abandoned my pillow during my 60-mile-long firework show commute, but neglected to turn around because I had other pillows sitting on my bed at home.

It took me about 2 seconds after I laid down that night to realize that sleeping on my cuddle pillow wasn't going to work. The pillow was soft and smushy and perfect for cuddling with, but proved to be far too fat for my head to endure 6-7 hours on. So I spent most of the night tossing and turning and alternating between fatso pillow and no pillow at all. When I finally got out of bed the next morning I had a headache in 3 different parts of my head. I think that's the closest I've ever come to experiencing a morning hangover.

Waiting to be reunited with my beloved pillow was no longer an option, so that day I bought a new pillow at Walmart. I bought the smallest one I could find and took it home. To my dismay, the new pillow was at least twice the size of fatso pillow.

So that night I set humungo fatso pillow aside and slept on my body pillow instead, which is a tad thinner than fatso pillow. This worked better than sleeping on fatso pillow, but I didn't experience the warm-and-fuzzy sleep that I've grown accustomed to--I felt like I was an unwelcome guest sleeping on a stranger's bed. Not the most pleasant kind of sleep I tell you, and it resulted in strange dreams.

Now that I think of it, transitioning from pillow to pillow has always been a traumatic experience. When I was a kid--back when I slept with all 20+ of my stuffed animals, each with its own designated spot--I slept on my giant Free Willy. I might as well have slept sitting up; if I tried to do that now I would break my neck.

We used to have this rainbow pillow that me, Tiffany, and Kimberly always fought over. It was an ugly, thin little thing, but because it was multi-colored, we all wanted it. I for one was not above sneaking into someone's room, stealing the pillow, and placing it back on my bed where it belonged. I don't know what happened to that pillow, but I suspect Mom had something to do with its disappearance.

My next favorite pillow was ancient, but I loved it--the cotton inside the pillow no longer stuck together, which resulted in thousands of pieces of material that lumped wherever you prodded it. I usually shoved most of the stuffing to either side of the pillow and rested my head in between, giving me the illusion that I was sleeping on a big fluffy pillow without causing any physical damages. I was very sad when Mom threw that one away, but even I had started to get a little exasperated by its constant expelling of entrails.

Anyway, back in the present world of yesterday, I took matters into my own hands. When I got home from work, the first thing I did was cut open fatso pillow and pull out a layer or two of the stuffing.

And last night I got the first good night's sleep I've had all week, although my neck was still a bit kinked when I woke up this morning. But I think I'll survive until I get my old lopsided-but-shaped-to-my-head-perfectly pillow back.

So you see, pillows are not superfluous details; a good pillow that coincides with the delicate preferences of the individual sleeper can make or break a person's night of sleep.