Friday, March 23, 2012

Pointless pampering

Sometimes, girls just want to be pretty. And sometimes, short spurts of "me time" and relaxation are all a girl needs to recharge her strong but delicate battery.

But there is a specific kind of pampering/primping that I will never understand: manicures. Massages, facials, and haircuts all make a modicum of sense to me, but I do not understand why getting a manicure is in any way fun, useful, or desirable.

I can say that now having experienced my first manicure. As I sat there last night watching with fascination the many steps required to have one's nails painted, one thought kept running through my mind: "I can't believe I am paying someone 15 dollars for such a pointless service." That and, "So that's how you're supposed to use that tool."

The last time I even had fingernail polish on my fingernails was probably for a high school dance, and I'm sure I dealt with every awkward pause by meticulously scraping it off.

For someone who couldn't care less about having pretty fingernails, a manicure may be the biggest time-waster on the planet. Seriously--I'm wracking my brains trying to think about something I care about less than dainty fingernails, and the best I can come up with is . . . dirt, and even dirt is more inspiring. In fact, if I ever really wanted to offend someone, I would tell them, "You are less than the daintiest fingernails of the earth." Or even better, I would say, "Your mom is less than the daintiest fingernails of the earth."

But in the good spirit of bachelorette parties, I kept all of these thoughts inside my head while the girls around me chattered away happily and scheduled times for follow-up appointments.

What I didn't expect, however, was the spike of rage that that I felt every time I tried to use my fingers after the large dollops of yellow polish had been planted on my stubby fingernails (I figured that since I was just along for the ride, I would pretend I knew what I was doing and try to match my bridesmaid dress (which is brown with yellow highlights), hence the hideous yellow fingernail polish).

Of all of my limbs, my fingers are the most important to me; they allow me to type, play the piano, eat, get dressed in the morning, function like a normal human being, etc.

So when some person tries (but in this case, fails) to make my nails pretty, they weaken my most important asset. I am convinced that you can't use your fingers if you want your nails to stay pristine. Thick, slimy fingernail polish obliterates the only use fingernails have: opening things, peeling oranges, and scratching that annoying itch on your nose. Lovely nails are only lovely if you never run into things, never go outside, never do any of the things I do every day.

I think the next time I get invited to a bachelorette party with a food and nails theme, I'll opt for a pedicure. I'll just have to warn the pedicure-ist (what is the term for that, anyway?) that when I kick her in the face it is because my feet are extremely ticklish, not because I'm still suppressing rage caused by my last manicure experience.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The winds of change are blowing again

In my case, the winds of change are blowing dishes and cooking appliances around the kitchen, scattering boxes throughout the living room, and keeping the washing machine going into late hours of the night.

It's moving time.

Despite the obvious hassles that accompany every move, the process is oddly exciting. It's rejuvenating to purge your current place of residence of all evidence of your existence and to dump all your baggage someplace else. Your new home doesn't know that you throw your shoes in the closet rather than line them up neatly; it doesn't know that you hit the snooze button at least three times every morning; and it doesn't know how often you heat up fajitas for dinner because you don't want to cook a real meal. Your new home will give you a chance to start anew, to fix the little things in your life you've been meaning to improve upon.

The move I will be making in a few weeks spans spans so short a distance it almost seems pointless to move at all. In fact, I won't even need any big vehicles to transport anything; an assembly line of enthusiastic family members will suffice.

The change, however, will still be significant. More significant, perhaps, than any of my other moves. Rather than replace my roommate (who is getting married on Saturday), I am moving all of my stuff three buildings over to a smaller (and cheaper) apartment.

I have been evaluating the major milestones I've crossed on my journey to big-girl-hood, and I figure this makes number six, after high school graduation, the entire college experience, college graduation, going through the temple, and starting a career. For me, milestone six will be moving into my own bachelorette pad. It will involve unlearning much of what I learned in kindergarten because I will no longer have to share.

In preparing to move from my past apartments, I always felt that twinge that comes with every major change: excitement at the new road ahead, sadness at the one you're leaving behind, and fear of the unknown. I usually celebrated this occasion by staying up all night doing nothing productive, such as lighting peeps on fire, eating lots of junk food, watching Gilmore Girls, sucking helium balloons, and watching the sun rise.

I've finally come to my senses and ended my no-sleep-the-night-before-the-move tradition; I have no desire to lug heavy items from one apartment to another, in the cold and rain, having been awake for 30 hours straight. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. No, this time, I've got big plans to move the TV into my roommate's vacated room and have a movie night in the spare 'oom while eating, pizza, possibly? and then going to bed at the reasonable hour of midnight.

As for that usual twinge, I felt it a little bit this week. I am ending the roommate era, one that is full of horror stories and wonderful memories. However, I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to know that my next roommate will be my husband, not some random girl I have to learn to coexist with until she gets married, graduates, or goes on a mission. That part of my life is over.

From here, its onward to independence.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The perfect March day

The perfect March day is about 68 degrees, overcast, and slightly windy.

There will be lots of basketball to watch.

Kids will play outside.

People will understand if you insist on wearing flip flops.

The sun will still be up at 7:30 p.m.

You can turn off the heater and sleep with the window open, basking in the deliciously refreshing breeze in your warmer-than-normal room.

And then you can start over again the next day.

It's hard to feel anything but completely content and happy on a perfect March day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My kind of March Madness

Last year I discovered that March Madness is fun. My favorite part was watching BYU advance to the Sweet 16 (though I have blocked the last five minutes of that game from my mind to prevent chronic depression), but I began to see why males (predominantly) get so obsessed with their brackets and skip out on work to watch game after game. This tournament is as much about the players as it is the fans; everyone gets to participate. And regardless of what the experts say, the unthinkable happens all the time, adding fire to the craze.

I haven't filled out a bracket before because my knowledge of college basketball is still pretty limited. My bracketology would go something like this: every team that plays BYU is toast, any team I've heard of before outside of Utah (all four of them) will win (unless they play BYU), and I'll pick the rest of the teams based on their school colors or some vague rumor that has managed to make it down the lines to me.

Exciting upsets aside, I doubt the tournament will favor my bracket in the slightest. But it's fun to dream anyway.

But my newfound interest in March Madness took a standstill when I came across Mugglenet's Harry Potter themed March Madness.

I realize that "elite" basketball fans would be pained to see me slaughter their precious March tradition in such a way, but nothing gets me excited like Harry Potter does. I can't help it.

So naturally, as a self-proclaimed Harry Potter expert, I've spent random chunks of my day evaluating the most plausible outcomes of each "match," a.k.a., duel. I tried to approach each duel objectively, but it was painfully difficult at times, and I'll admit I favored the good guys over the bad guys. We can't have Voldemort winning, now can we? And at times I felt like a vile betrayer for crossing out  my favorite characters, but you have to make sacrifices sometimes.

Turn on your geek radar, because I'm going to break down the more interesting parts of this tournament for you.

2nd round considerations
  • By far the most unfair matchups are Harry vs. Professor Sprout and Dumbledore vs. Lavender Brown. Professor Sprout, as head of Hufflepuff House, would have stood her ground against many other characters, but she doesn't stand a chance against Harry. Dumbledore could beat Lavender with his eyes closed and his hands and feet tied together. While mortally injured. While singing the National Anthem.
  • I picked Percy over Molly Weasley for one reason: Mrs. Weasley would never duel, and defeat, her own son. Percy, while less far less capable than his mother, would have no problems proving to his mom that he could beat her.
  • I debated over Bellatrix vs. Nearly Headless Nick for a while. At first I thought Nearly Headless Nick had the advantage because he can't die, but then, he can't really do anything to Bellatrix either, except, like, make her cold. And if a Basilisk can petrify Nick, then Bellatrix can certainly find a way to harm him.
  • I almost picked Dudley over Collin because Dudley could beat Collin to a pulp in seconds, but all Collin has to do is pull out his "stick" and Dudley will cower in fear.
  • Petunia is the only Muggle to win a duel because she could knock Crabbe out with one of her expensive vases before Crabbe had time to figure out which end of his wand to point at Petunia.
  • McGonagall is noble enough to even out the playing field with Crookshanks and duel him as a cat. But she would still win.
1st round
  • Most unfair matchups: Bellatrix vs. Collin, Sirius vs. Hedwig, and Dumbledore vs. Petunia. I should have left Collin to Dudley. Sniff, sniff.
  • Narcissa Malfoy will let Draco win.
  • I admire Ginny's spirit, but she's got a ways to go before she can take on Tonks.
  • Pompous Percy could never make it past Neville.
  • Bill will beat Umbridge because he's learned extra tricks from "lesser" creatures like goblins.
  • Sorry Mad-Eye, but Voldemort has you beat.
  • And as awesome as Kingsley is, Snape has extra weapons.
  • Hermione loves some good competition, which is why she would beat her father-in-law.
  • Xenophilius Lovegood is, I'm sure, a powerful wizard in his own way, but McGonagall would only have to say, "Look! A crumpled-horn snorkack!" and Xeno would be gone.
Sweet 16
  • Hermione would have no problem beating her brother-in-law, George, either.
  • Sorry Fred; I just don't see you beating the leader of the D.A.
  • I am pleased to report that Snape will beat Voldemort. Voldemort is powerful, but Snape is trickier. And more awesome.
Elite 8
  • Unfortunately, Bellatrix will beat Lupin to advance to the Final 4. Aurgh.
  • The Sirius-Snape showdown would be epic. However, I pick Sirius to win because (1) he was clearly more talented than Snape while in school, and (2) I don't think Snape would be able to lock down his emotions enough to fight with a cool head.
  • I also picked Hermione to beat Dumbledore, undoubtedly the biggest upset of the tournament. With his injured hand Dumbledore has a distinct disadvantage, but his opponent would still have to take him completely by surprise to defeat him. I think Hermione is clever enough to find a way to surprise Dumbledore.
Final 4
  • Our Final 4 matchups would be as follows: Harry vs. Bellatrix and Sirius vs. Hermione.
  • Bellatrix can't beat our Harry Potter, and Sirius himself said that Hermione was the brightest witch of her age, so the final showdown will take place between . . . Harry and Hermione.
  • Who will become the best witch/wizard of 2012? I feel slightly guilty about this, but I pick Hermione. Hermione taught Harry half of what he knows, and Harry himself would probably admit that Hermione is the favored winner, especially when such a big competition is at stake.
Yay Hermione! I'm happy with how this turned out. I fully expected Harry to win this one because, duh, but Hermione proved victorious.

Is anyone else as nerdy as me? I'm curious what others' final picks would be.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The careers you never heard of when you were a kid

When I was in college, I always dreaded the follow-up question to "What's your major?" After finding out I was an English major, about ninety percent of the time people would ask, "Are you going to teach, then?"

It drove me crazy. To me that said, "Oh, well English is basically a useless major, unless you plan on teaching high school or something." An unfounded accusation, yes, but that's the way I felt every time someone assumed I was going to be a teacher.

Note: I have nothing against teachers. I have a lot of respect for them, in fact, from the Gospel Doctrine instructors to the world-renowned college professors. It's just that teaching is not something I ever wanted to volunteer to do, especially in a career.

Things haven't improved much since I graduated. People still make incorrect assumptions about my career path.

But it's not their fault. American society tells us that we can be whatever we want to be, but we are still limited by what we know and understand. Most kids don't dream of becoming a data systems analyst when they grow up, for instance.

When I was in kindergarten, I concluded that I had five career paths to choose from when I grew up: teacher, bus driver, musician/athlete, doctor, and secretary. Those were the jobs I was familiar with because, for the most part, the adults I spent most of my time around fit into one of these categories. As far as I was concerned, the world didn't hold any other jobs.

When I was in fifth grade, my worldview had expanded a bit to include writer, actress/actor, computer genius, chef, janitor, seamstress, barber/hair dresser, president of the United States, and police officer.

And by high school, the career options in front of me had grown even more: interior designer, mechanic, architect, editor, lawyer, photographer, vet, interpreter. All careers that fit in nice little categories, with job descriptions that everyone understands.

It wasn't until I started searching for a post-college job that I began to comprehend just how many careers there are out there, many of which I had either never heard of before or was baffled to learn that such jobs even existed.

Take my current job title, marketing copywriter, for example. I didn't know what a copywriter was until I started applying for copywriting positions. Now I dread the automatic assumption that follows my revelation that I'm a copywriter for a company that does software for doctors' offices. It's usually either "So, you do some sort of legal work?" or "So, you write the software?" The remaining people just smile and nod, having no clue what I just said.

I am one of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who has one of those jobs that can't be adequately explained in three words or less, unless you spell out the acronym (if applicable). I wish I could just tell people that I'm a writer and be done with it, but society's traditional definition for "writer" doesn't really fit my job description.

Most of us don't dream of becoming something we've never heard of when we were kids, but that's the irony of the career world; there are far more ambiguous job titles than traditional ones available. It's one of those strange things that makes the world go 'round.