Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bright spots on a deplorable Tuesday

I've never liked Tuesdays. Most people give Mondays the gold medal of hatred, but I have always reserved that honor for Tuesday--the day toward the beginning of the week in which you don't have the cushioning weekend effect to give you the boost needed to endure four more eternally long days.

But, as always, there are bright spots, even if I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel on this deplorable Tuesday. Such as:
  • My work day just went past the halfway-done mark.
  • It's Harry Potter's 32nd birthday! Only five more years until Harry sends Albus Severus off to Hogwarts in real time. Er, don't think about that too hard because it might give you a headache.
  • I just got my book list for my first semester of grad school. SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An unconventional 8-5 week

I like having an 8-5 job. I like the stability and predictability (try saying that five times fast) that comes with it. I like waking up at the same time every day, having a pretty good idea of what to expect for the day ahead.

But even for those who don't mind sitting at a desk all day, doing the same thing day in and day out can get kind of boring, even if tasks and meetings keep you busy. A field trip to Office Max or an hour-and-a-half lunch break can go a long way in breaking up the tedium just enough to keep you content with the tedium.

My week so far has deviated from the norm quite a bit, adding a few more firsts to the story of my life.

  • While Sunday is not part of the typical work week, this Sunday's normal flow was disrupted slightly due to the fact that the entire bishopric was out of town. Our elder's quorum president conducted sacrament meeting, and he looked like a freshly ordained elder who is still getting used to wearing a suit, which he hasn't quite grown into yet.
  • I've written a lot of video scripts for marketing videos, and I've seen the finished products that were created from the scripts, but I've never witnessed the important middle part: shooting the video. I got to watch a real director and real actors try to impromptu their way through awkward segments. I was one of many who stood in the background, away from the lights and camera, watching the actors as they struggled to remember lines they looked at for the first time that morning. I was a bit mystified by the number of times the crew adjusted an actor's tie or told them to wipe the invisible sweat from their forehead. I am still amazed at the amount of skills and people required to create a 30-second video.
  • I also had my first (and hopefully last) cameo appearance, which featured Shari and me sitting awkwardly in the background.
  • I ate in a coffee shop for the first time. My curried-chicken sandwich weirded me out. People watching was fun though.
  • July 24th--the holiday that isn't a holiday. It was a normal day for me, but not normal enough to stop the booms and pops that echoed through the darkness that night (thankfully people were done making noise by about 11:30).
  • In honor of a departing co-worker and to welcome a new one to the crew, we went to Cafe Rio for lunch. Seriously, I don't know why I don't take real lunch breaks more often.
As for today, well, I can't believe it's Thursday already.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laments from an early morning hater

I once wrote a story about a young girl whose favorite hobby was waking up before sunrise to sneak to the mysterious forest across the street. It was during these times, when the air was still, the dew was fresh, the town was quiet, and the sun was rising, that this girl felt most happy to be alive.

This was one of the few times I didn't heavily inject my own personality into my fictional character. I drew from what others had said about the tranquility of early mornings because I certainly had no memories to draw from. I much prefer to experience mornings with my eyes closed.

But there are times that I wish I could truly enjoy a sunrise and ponder on the symbolism of each new day. I wish I could drink in the fresh morning air instead of the air that's already gone stale. I agree that mornings are beautiful, but I am not genetically programmed to appreciate them fully.

My idea of a good sunrise is when the curtains are closed and I am still blissfully asleep. My first thought when I am awakened with a sing-songy "Rise and shine!" is kill. Simply put, mornings are not pleasant. Even when I am forced to rise with the sun I try to prolong my sleeping time in the shower. I am in too big of a hurry (because I woke up late) to enjoy my surroundings. I yawn repeatedly until at least 10 a.m. No one ever gets a cheery "Good morning!" from me. Waking up is a demon I have to battle for several hours every day while the poetry-inspiring morning quietly slips away.

Now, sunsets, on the other hand--those I can appreciate.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My learning cycle

My life is a mystery to a lot of people, but those who manage to break through the ice will eventually learn at least three things: (1) in my mind, Harry Potter is not a fictional character, (2) I live and breathe through the keys of a piano, and (3) if my home were ever on fire, my first course of action would be to figure out how to remove my journals from danger in just one trip.

While Harry Potter books and pianos are replaceable (however guilty I may feel admitting this), I would be devastated if I lost those pages of my life's history. Half my memories would be gone forever and the rest would slowly fade, I wouldn't have a record of all my funny dreams, and, most importantly, I would lose documentation of my personal learning cycle.

I think the reason most people don't get into journal writing is because they approach it with a this-is-what-I-did-today attitude, recording events like they're outlining a meeting itinerary. I started out that way (it's much cuter when an eight-year-old does it), but within a few years I had mixed it with a this-is-what-I'm-thinking-about approach, which is why I never tire of reading the story of my life.

I am currently typing up my journal from year 16 of my life (having an electronic version of my records will make it a lot easier to grab and go when that fire comes). I've noticed an eerie number of parallels between my life then and my life now. Not so much the events, but the thoughts and experiences. I complained about the same things then that I'm complaining about now, and I learned lessons back then that I was sure I figured out for the first time months ago.

So I'm a little indignant--at myself, I guess--that most of the life-changing realizations I had when I was 16 didn't stick. By the time my 24-year-old self came to fruition, many of those lessons had to be relearned.

Indignance aside, I've decided it isn't a bad thing that I apparently go through the same learning cycle every eight years (judging from my rather short life thus far). Human nature may tell us that to learn something twice means you failed to learn the first time, but, well, we're just mortals. We can't be expected to remember everything, or to be molded after just one pass. Sometimes it takes multiple passes before an experience really adds to who we are.

And, if I got everything right the first time, I have a feeling that when my house catches fire and I see my life flash before my eyes, the only thought to cross my mind would be, "It was very boring."

I do find solace in the fact that I'm not exactly the same as I was when I was 16; that would be more than just a little depressing. A lot happens in a girl's life between the ages of 16 and 24, so I hope I would have learned something.

But, in the off chance I come across my 16-year-old self while walking down the street, I would have a few choice words with myself:

Live your own life; don't try to duplicate someone else's.

And yes, those words still apply.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My first library card

A few weeks ago I got my first library card. I feel that this happened rather late in life, considering how much I love books. But, one of the downsides of growing up in a small town is that you don't have access to certain things others take for granted, unless, of course, you are willing to pay a ridiculous sum for something big-towners get for free.

This predicament left me with three options if I wanted to read books: (1) get up really early on Mondays (like nine 'o clock) and check out books from Mt. Loafer Elementary (this option was only available during the summers), (2) walk to the park on Wednesday afternoon when the Bookmobile arrived and check out books there (unfortunately, this charming option was only available sporadically, and not at all after I was about 10), or (3) read what we had at home, and after you've read everything you want to read, read the books again, unless you are desperate enough to read Star Trek (I re-read a lot of books).

I guess option 4 would have been to check out books from my own school, but the library hall in Jr. high was claustrophobically skinny and I honestly don't think I even knew where the library was in high school until about my senior year. (Not that it had a good stock of books, anyway.)

But as luck would have it, when I moved to Provo I lived directly across the street from the Provo Library. I always intended to run over there and get my own library card with a picture of a frog on it, but for some reason I never got around to it. The fact that I didn't have time to read for pleasure may have had something to do with it. . . .

Then I moved to Midvale, and I lived here for over a year before I finally got my first library card. My to-read list was getting alarmingly long, and I finally decided that it would be impractical to buy all of them. I was running out of shelf space, after all.

So, feeling like a little kid on the first day of school, I walked into a library and registered for a card. The excitement wore off a bit as I started to take in my surroundings. This library definitely wasn't . . . warm and fuzzy, and it didn't have either of the books I wanted, so I consulted the list of the 20 libraries in the Salt Lake Valley, and found at least three that were closer to my apartment, despite their being located in different cities.

Yesterday I walked into the Sandy Library, feeling like a kid on the first day of school again. This library was much better stocked, much cleaner, and it had a bright and happy Harry Potter corner.

But it still only had one of the books I wanted. I was still a bit disappointed by the size of the library. I'm afraid that after using the BYU library for four years, anything short of the Library of Congress will fail to impress me.

Nonetheless, I checked out a couple of obscure titles and headed home. My excitement at having my own library card was quickly ebbing away. It occurred to me that if I wanted to check out any popular books I would have to plan ahead and put the book on hold and wait for longer than it would take to buy the book on Amazon and have it shipped. I tried not to think about the billions of sticky fingers that had touched the books I had checked out. I was saddened that the books looked ratty and didn't have the new book smell.

I may want to marry every bookstore I walk into, but the only thing I want to do in a library is get out of it, honestly. To me, each book is a special friend that should be treasured forever, not something to be borrowed after millions of others have finished with it.

Suddenly, this whole library thing doesn't seem like such a good deal to me. I think I would still rather spend seven bucks on a book than borrow one for free--this way I'll get more "friends" and I won't have to share them with anyone.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God's love

Last week I began to sympathize with atheists and non-believers. Almost since man was created, there have been those who have argued that if a God existed, he would not allow unimaginable horrors to happen to good people. These things happen every day to people who don't deserve it, and that is evidence enough for those trying to prove there is no Supreme Being watching over us, listening to our prayers, and performing miracles on our behalf.

It is easy to get caught in the never-ending circle of whys and lost in the hopelessness of grief, whether you are suffering or watching those you care about suffer. It may seem safer to dwell in misery than to try to experience happiness again.

Yes, I've heard the logic of non-believers. Yes, I see their point. But I don't believe it for a second.

Why? Because God's love is more powerful than all of the suffering in the world. It is powerful enough to overtake even our most bitter trials. Grief, anger, and hopelessness have the power to destroy, but God's love and the Atonement can rebuild, complete, and bring peace. That power is everlasting and sustaining, as real as the rising sun each new day.

That still may not answer the question we all have at times as to why God allows bad things to happen to good people. The best answer to this question I've heard comes from the movie Love Comes Softly. The truth of God's love, says a man who lost his wife years before and whose barn had just burned down, is not that God allows bad things to happen, but that he will be there beside us when they do.

And he is there, always. The pain may be staggering, but nothing can outshine the power of God's love.

Beautiful people

One of my favorite things about traveling is observing the people. It is fascinating to watch the locals go about their daily business, walking along the streets like it's no big deal that people like me take time off work to go see. I love observing those who came from foreign countries to visit ours. I even enjoy watching my fellow (American) tourists, allowing my mind to imagine the many ways our fates aligned so we would eat lunch at the same restaurant at the same time.

My latest traveling adventure took me to the winding streets of San Francisco, the majestic trees of the Redwood Forest, and the thrilling roller coasters of Six Flags. My path crossed with that of thousands of other people, all walking along their own paths full of hills, weeds, thorns, sunshine, and flowers. The people I saw throughout the week were but a glimpse of the living that takes place every day in every corner of the world.

It seems impossible that one world could hold so many different, complex stories, but it does. It seems impossible that one person could care about each individual who has ever lived (or will live), but He does. Despite our vast differences and circumstances, the people of this world have much in common. We all have the same amount of hours in a day; we all experience joy, despair, confusion, anger, satisfaction, and a host of other emotions; and we're all a part of the same big, human family, led by the Being who created us all.

This world is bigger than me; it's bigger than all of us. It's big enough to house billions of beautiful people and the stories they live.