Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not part of the plan

When you're little, life is so simple. You don't plan for the future; you live for the present.

When you get older, it becomes necessary to plan and prepare for the future. You find solace in the fact that you have a plan, and you stick to that plan like Velcro.

But sometimes, despite your careful planning and meticulous execution, things don't go as planned. You may have managed to convince yourself that you are in control of your own destiny, but then life steps in to teach you otherwise.

And it's a beautiful lesson to learn, that you're not always in control. If everything went according to plan, we would constantly be selling ourselves short by staying in the safe zone, away from the impossibles.

It's when life steps in and opens the door to the impossibles that makes all the difference.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Friday curse strikes again

I've been sitting here for 25 minutes, alternating between staring at the wall and glaring at the clock. I started my day feeling like I could do anything because I wouldn't have to repeat the work-day process tomorrow. But then 2:00 hit, and the motivation and stamina that has helped me to endure 20+ hours of writing a user guide in addition to my normal duties took my brain and flew out the window into the cloudy world outside.

At least part of me is free, I guess.

The rest of me, though--the part of me that is getting more irritated by the minute--is left to debate whether it would be a better use of my time to call it quits and get a head start on my much needed R&R, or to stick it out and get a head start on next week's heavy workload that's squeezed into four days instead of five.

The first option is looking a lot better right now, especially since I no longer possess a brain. The only problem is that my guilt sensor hasn't turned off yet, so here I am, still sitting here.

It's at times like these that I wish I had a job that didn't require writing skills, or any skills I acquired in school. I've used the term "brain-tired" so many times the past month that it's become a permanent part of my vernacular. Using creative and analytical thinking skills can be just as exhausting as standing up or lifting heavy bundles for eight hours straight.

Time for a vacation, yes? I think so.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Now I know how the bugs feel

I, like many of you, marvel at the predictable stupidity of bugs. On boring camping trips, I sometimes entertain myself by watching the dumb little bugs run into the lantern over and over again, bemused that they are so inextricably drawn to the pretty light.

I found myself sympathizing with the dumb little bugs somewhat as I drove around tonight trying to find a patch of sky that wasn't covered with clouds. Because doggone it, if I can't watch The Watcher in the Woods, I was going to do everything in my power to get a glimpse of my first eclipse.

Luckily for me, a hole in the clouds appeared as I was heading west, back to my apartment. Suddenly, the warnings from the guys selling the cheap protective glasses receded to a dull static as I looked directly into the sun (through my sunglasses, of course). The only thought running through my head was, "I can't help it . . . it's so beautiful . . . ."

And that's why I was half-blind the rest of the (short) drive home. And it's the reason I'm seeing crescent moons all over the place.

But hey, you only get the chance to be as dumb as a bug once every twenty years or so. I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Those Harry Potter fans . . .

It's been 19 months since I last read a Harry Potter book, and with each passing month it gets even harder to resist diving back into the books again. The itch started at about the 15-month mark just like it always does, and the only reason I've resisted it this long is because Shannan and I got a lot of books for Christmas. Playing around in Pottermore and watching all eight of the movies helped satisfy the craving a bit, but it was a bit like eating semi-sweet chocolate chips when I what I really wanted was mounds of pure milk chocolate.

Even as I sit here, I can picture the books sitting in my living room, all pristine and lovely, seductively calling my name.

Eventually I will give in, but the longer I fight this battle the more enjoyable losing the battle will be.

In the interim, I will continue to heap my praises upon my favorite series of all time.

It's rewarding to watch the birth and progression of a legacy. J.K. Rowling started her writing journey years before someone helped her distribute her story to the world, and today the books have been translated into 67 languages, they sat on the New York Times Bestseller List for 79 straight weeks, and after about 10 years officially outsold the KJV Bible, which was one of the first books published and was the only book many families had in their homes for generations. The movies have generated more revenue than the Star Wars franchise, and J.K. Rowling is the only author that became a billionaire from her book sales.

Harry Potter books have inspired eight movies, at least four theme parks, and countless fan sites, not to mention an entire generation of children who secretly hope to get a Hogwarts acceptance letter on their 11th birthday.

But it doesn't stop there; Harry Potter continues to find ways to affect our daily lives. April Fools Day is more than a silly holiday that gives you an excuse to pull pranks; it is also Fred and George's birthday. Halloween is first and foremost a solemn day to remember Lily and James Potter, and some fans may even remember to celebrate Nearly Headless Nick's deathday as well. May 2 is known by Potterheads everywhere as the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Quidditch is played in college campuses across the world, the biggest tournament of which will take place in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The books may be published, the movies era may be over, but one thing remains clear: fans have not forgotten the love they have for Harry Potter, for Hogwarts, for the tidbits of information Rowling has leaked about the wizard world. And most of all, we can't quench the magical memories of discovering Harry's world for the first time.

I suspect the Harry Potter Generation will continue basking in Harry Potter goodness for years to come. If the Trekkies can keep their fanbase alive, the Potterheads most certainly can.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lessons learned over two insane weeks

I've been subconsciously writing blog posts in my head for the past few weeks. Normally, the thought of adding another post to my collection of blogs would make me rather giddy, but I have not been able to transfer my thoughts into words other people will understand because I either ran out of time or was in desperate need of some non-thinking time (hence the Harry Potter movie marathon I had last week).

Still, it feels oddly liberating to not have the time to do something I love doing. That is usually an indicator that your life is full. Such as when you take on a load of new responsibilities at work, get stranded in various places because your car won't start, and have to pack up for yet another move.

The past couple of weeks have sent my stress-o-meter to levels it hasn't reached since college. I could easily push out several blog posts on things I've thought about over the past few weeks, but I'm going to have to settle for the Reader's Digest version:
  • If someone dumps a huge project on you, the best way to get it done is to do things your way.
  • That moment when the light pops on makes all the stress, worry, and anxiety worth it.
  • Similarly, it is necessary to cross the Valley of Death to make it to the Happy, Delirious Land of Rainbows and Unicorns.
  • It is much easier to accomplish a difficult task if you know you can do it.
  • When people say they are more than happy to help, they actually mean it.
  • Comcast online customer service is obnoxious. Think of that nice lady who is sugary-sweet on the outside and viperously poisonous on the inside. And who can't spell.
  • If you tell someone that they can move into an apartment on a certain day, it might be a good idea to inform your staff that that someone is moving into the apartment on that day. That way that person won't have to move into an apartment while the kitchen and bathroom are still a mess.
  • "The Stinkhole" isn't an adequate name for my old apartment. "The Pits of Mordor" would be more accurate.
  • I completely suck at using my womanly wiles to get the guys at the car shop to give me good deals.
Life noticed that I was finally a lone, independent woman and decided to play one of its cruel, ironic tricks on me: force me to rely on others. My co-workers had to lug me around for a few days, my family had to come up and help me haul furniture across the parking lot yet again, and some other co-workers had to endure a lot of dumb questions from me.

I hate asking for help more than . . . pretty much everything. I would rather do everything myself, suffer in silence, be perpetually confused, or remain ignorant than ask someone a simple question or favor. If I could have started my car on my own, I would have; if I could have gotten my Harry Potter wand to work and pack and shrink all my belongings for me, I would have; and if I could gain knowledge without working for it, I would be the most brilliant person in the universe.

But life chose this time to remind me that life is not meant to be a solo activity. The weirdest thing of all is that all the people I had to rely on the past few weeks didn't mind at all. Some of my helpers even seemed excited, as if I had given them a delightful treat when I asked for their help. I think I need to take a leaf out of that book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Home is such a comforting word. It signifies warmth, love, family, the smell of homemade bread, and safety. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful family life growing up, so home was always a refuge from the storm, a place where I could find peace and relaxation when school kept me extremely stressed, a landing pad that was always soft and cuddly.

But there comes a time in everyone's life when you must break free of your sanctuary and start on your own path. I've moved eight times in the last five years, and I've spent a lot of time trying to reconcile my own "home" situation with what I thought home should be.

There's a song in Beauty and the Beast (not the Disney version, unfortunately) that poignantly captures the cold emptiness I've felt almost every time I moved, whether I was embarking out on a new adventure or returning to my house of upbringing for a spell.

Is this home? 
Is this where I should learn to be happy?
Never dreamed that a home could be dark and cold.
I was told every day in my childhood,
even when we grow old:
"Home is where your heart is."
Never were words so true.
My heart's far, far away.
Home is too.

Every time I moved, I felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart behind. When I moved to Provo, I missed the peaceful familiarity, the lack of stoplights and sidewalks, and the smallness of Elk Ridge. When I moved to Midvale, I missed the rugged mountains, the small-town charm, and the Cougar spirit of Provo. I missed my family, my roommates, old ward members. No matter how anxious I was to move on with my life, for a time I always longed for things to go back to the way things were. I didn't want to redefine home.

Home's a lie.
What I'd give to return to the life that I knew lately.
But I know that I can't solve my problems turning back.

So sometimes, I was content to have two "homes"; one where my heart was, and one where my stuff was. 

As my life has been altered once it can change again.
Build higher walls around me,
change every lock and key.
Nothing lasts, nothing holds all of me.
My heart's far, far away.
Home, and free.

But at some point, you have to decide that home is where you are, rather than locked away someplace you would rather be. It bothered me for a lot of years that I couldn't be "home" when I was with my family for an extended period of time. Even though that was where my heart was, eventually I would start feeling antsy, depressed, and a host of other emotions that I hadn't associated with home before. How could home be where my heart was when it didn't feel right to be there?

So I consoled myself by saying, "Your home and your heart will be reunited some day. When you get married the natural balance of things will be restored."

But I was missing the key point of the oft-turned phrase "home is where your heart is": home doesn't have to be a designated corner of the world. It doesn't have to be a place where you can drop your belongings and kick off your shoes. It doesn't even need to be a place at all; home is as much a feeling as it is a place. I've found that even if I want to be somewhere else, I can find home when I'm reading Harry Potter, playing the piano, or hanging out with people I like. I've found home at work, in my hobbies, and in the great outdoors.

Home is a pretty good place to be. Just like happiness, it is never too far away.