Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday Giggles

This was my heartiest laugh this week. Maybe I've been dealing with finicky HR people for too long but I just lost it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Giggles

And it's been a while since I've laughed -

Food for thought for us members of P.O.E.M.


So random questions and text and messages from the brother or cousin types aren't a rarity at all.

"What Looney Toons episode was Bugs Bunny a chick? And was it Wayne or Garth that thought he was hot?"

"jumping trashcans should be an Olympic sport"

"Who would win in a fist fight, Nietzsche or Wittgenstein?"

(My money is totally on Nietzsche btw)

So when I got a "Whats your address?" from Patrick it seemed far too much of a normal question. He was either going to drop by that night or I was going to get a puppy in the mail or something.

"Why....." I replied. He laughed at me and then told me he had just finished his CD and wanted to send me a copy.

his CD?.... Erm - I wasn't aware that Pat had a recording contract and if he did I'd be amazed because though the man can move mountains and is worthy of almost every praise possible, he can't carry a tune in a bucket. Perhaps he was exploring beat poetry so I asked -


Apparently he and a few other music connoisseur friend types were engaged in a bit of a competition. It started as a music exchange but then Patrick wanted to "make it interesting" so he made up a theme and they were supposed to make a CD according to that theme. They all send them to each other (the other two are out of state). Patrick had a whole point structure outlined and they all rated each other's stuff and Patrick crowned a winner. I'm not sure what the prize was, bragging rights I suppose, but I thought

What a delightfully constructive creative thing.

And though I laughed at the competitive aspect of it all, I found it fascinating. Mixes with a story, an arc. How delicious. So even though I wasn't part of the contest I still found myself constructing a story in my head with my days worth of iTunes.

The theme Patrick nominated was a "Love to Meltdown" breakup-type mix and heaven knows a silly girl like me has plenty of love songs and break up songs. Its all of my favorite artist's specialty as a matter of fact.

I thought about it for a week or two and got to work, just for fun, and agonized over where a certain song fit in the story arc or what song best tells that part of the story. It was loads of fun. No wonder Patrick was so lit about it.

I decided to do some field research and some of my readers (read: friends) may have gotten a random text asking for their favorite love song and break up song. It was for this. Silly, I know. But like I said before, we Long/Dees types specialize in Charming Random. It's how we roll. :D And I want you to know that I listened to every song that was suggested to me as creative input even if it didn't fit on the arc I'd thought up.

So for those who contributed I figured I owed you a playlist. I found all but one song on iMeem and it's #1 in the line up. So if you're feeling saucy and want the whole experience there it is. I think its one of the strongest songs in the first half of the (meaning my) CD. I was really bummed it wasn't there. Don't people know this is one of the best songs on that album? Gosh!

So if you were wondering:

I'm also incredibly curious to see if I actually told a story. Like, can you see a relationship in between the treble clefs and why they broke up and why it wasn't just a break up but a meltdown?

Monday, June 16, 2008

And its Made All the Difference

I graduated from college on Saturday.

Well - not really. I finished my classes in December and my degree says "seventh day of December two thousand and seven" but June 14th was the date of commencement. That's when I turned the tassel and shook hands and walked the line so that makes it official.

I initially didn't want to walk and deal with all the hoopla but my mom wanted me to. Life kind of exploded for our family in December. Jonathan got married, Nick went on his mission and I finished my undergrad. Needless to say we decided to postpone graduation festivities.

I was just as feet draggy when it came time to walk for my AA back in 01, I just wanted my piece of paper and to slip off into the night but my friends were adamant about me walking with them and when I was sitting with them, robed and standing up in front of my leaders and community I really appreciated them forcing the issue. There is something very important about ceremony, about recognition of accomplishments, that I had forgotten and that I had forgotten was important to me. I worked and cried and bled and agonized over this degree and I earned the right to walk the line, so I did.

It's nearly impossible not to be nostalgic and reflective around times like this. You naturally take inventory of the time you spent and the people you knew and the person that you've become that's all reflected in that little piece of paper.

My college experience has been varied and beautifully singular, just like everyone else's. When I first went into college in the fall of 1996 I started work on a two year degree. I only saw music in my future. I loved to sing, I was good at it, it brought me joy so what else was there right? I declared myself and Opera major and all was right in my world for a month or two. It didn't take me long to learn about the dense and dysfunctional political world surrounding music and theater and that I didn't have the stomach for it.

I was focused on going on my mission at the time so I left music and played water polo, tennis, threw myself into student government and took a regular load of Humanities courses until I went on my mission. I left for Washington DC in Aug of 99.

After I got home in Feb of 2001 my hopes of immediate marriage and family didn't materialize so I applied to CalPoly Pomona, the local 4 year.

I wanted to teach and I wanted to keep the Spanish I had learned on my mission so I applied for "Liberal Studies bilingual option". Orientation was exciting and we were about to get our tutorial for how to register that night and the man said "if you want to teach on the secondary level you need to declare your subject and then credential in that". Well Humanities is just a fancy way of saying "English" so off I went traipsing the strange and hilly CalPoly campus looking for the English building. I was registering in a matter of hours and we had priority and the list of classes I had just planed the next 2 years around had just become obsolete. I needed to find the English Dept office, get a new sheet of required classes, figure out a schedule and get on the phone all within a matter of hours. After 2 hours my pace went from a traipse to a saunter to a frustrated strut to a full on panic jog. I couldn't find the bloody place, no one was on campus to ask and the map they had given me was looking more like Orange county's farm land than a college campus. However, I did find the biology building (it was pratically a crystalline castle that you could see from space) and biology was my second choice (that's a blog for another day) so I took it as a sign that since I could find that building that was what I was supposed to do. So for a whole year I was a declared Micro-biology major. I loved it, we got to do some fun genetic research and I felt awesome and empowered. I had taken the course completely different from either one of my parents. Mom was an English major with a Theater and Art History minor and dad was an Accounting undergrad.

Go me. I was original.

But I wasn't too happy. I was working full time. I've worked full time since I've gotten home from my mission and all the lab time and study time was leaving me with about 3 hours of sleep a night.

Then funding changed. My income disqualified me from the grants I was riding on and the student loan option came up and even though I was working on a very lucrative degree I was hesitant to go into debt over it.

I had kept an English class in my schedule every quarter just to make sure I didn't burst from logarithms, percentiles or DNA sequences, so I had racked up a good amount of English Lit credits, enough for a minor. So randomly one day, while driving around looking for a parking spot (a regular tedious activity at CalPoly) the thought occurred to me to flip my major and my minor and finish faster thereby avoiding unnecessary debt. English major, micro-biology minor, and for some totally irrational reason, all the reservations I had about going into debt totally disappeared with that thought. Even though it was a less marketable degree I was more OK with it. Content even

So I thought, If I'm more willing to go into debt over this degree I'll probably be happier dedicating my life to it.

I'll never forget it, the day I made that decision I found a parking spot and went to my Organic Chemistry class, which is a fancy name for "torturous calculus for no good reason at all". WHO CARES about the percentages of where an electron will be and in which orbital on a molecule? I mean, really... Anyway, I listened to my professor for exactly 5 minutes, got up, and found my way to the English building (which I later learned we shared with the Music, Theater and Foreign Language departments and it says "Music" - thats why I got confused that first day) and just marched into the first class I saw and sat down and breathed easy for the first time in a year.

It took me that long to figure out that part of who I was, admit it, and have the courage to do what would actually make me happy instead of what I thought would glow on a resume.

Its been the best thing I've ever done and I haven't looked back. Not once.

In the English department I met people who have changed my life forever, both students and teachers. The people I shared Chaucer, Milton and Calvino with are now some of my dearest friends who I don't know what I'd do without.

But what I fell in love with more than my fellow students or the text was the Faculty.

This is my Alison. Dr. Alison Baker. She's a lot of people's Alison but she's mine too. This woman is a miracle and probably the reason I made it through. She is our Medievalist on campus and taught 8 of the 20 Core Lit classes I took. Milton, Chaucer, Renaissance Lit, the Capstone, Early European Lit, Epics, Folklore etc. All the really complicated daunting stuff that you need to know but hardly know how to approach. Alison not only knew her stuff backwards and forwards but she made it fun and applicable. She made me read the ENTIRE Canterbury tales in the Middle English and made us memorize the first 10 lines of the Prologue in the Middle English. She pounded me through all of Paradise Lost and ALL of the Inferno. Things I never thought I'd be able to do. We talked about Norse myths alongside the Smurfs and Odysseus along side HeMan. She was first one I saw off the stage that night, the first hug, the first picture and the first tear while saying goodbye. I owe her more than I can possibly ever convey and she is more than I could hope to be.

This is Dr. Kramer (left) and Dr. Rocklin (right). We're on stairs, Dr. Kramer isn't 15 feet tall. Dr. Kramer was my Lit theory professor and he was able to teach me Deconstruction where so many people had failed. Derrida actually meant something to be besides another Frenchman that knew more than I did. That was a miracle. He was also my creative writing teacher and I hear his voice in my head every time I go back to my book I've been pecking at for years. I brought in my first chapter one class and he said "well I want to read the rest of it!" and that had kept me going.

Dr. Rocklin is another one of the coolest professors ever. You see him from 100 yards and you just know - that's a Literature professor. The fedora, the elbow patches on the blazer that rarely match his slacks, the dilapidated car that probably had Nixon on its radio at one point. He lives the dream. He is our Shakespearian and a master. He was one of the few who really made me rethink what a question was an why do we ask them. He doesn't believe in any kind of boxes or thinking inside or outside of them. There is just meaning and it's different incarnations. Whether its a prop in a play or an intonation in performance or a posture or an aside or a comma. What it means is what matters. I've never been able to stomach Hamlet or MacBeth but I ate them up under Rocklin's instruction. He is a genius in so many respects. He's changed my mental landscape forever.

This is Dr. Corley and I don't think I can respect a man more than I do him. Dr. Corley is our Americanist. He made his way through Berkley on the GI bill and is still on reserve in the Army as a corporal (I believe). He's been to Iraq 3 times and let us all know that he'll go back if asked at the beginning of the quarter so there was always that lurking possibility that we could loose him. So, not only has this man put his life on the line multiple times in defense of America, but he has dedicated his life to the study and teaching of it's art. I took him for American Literature and learned Whitman at his feet. Whitman lived through the Civil War and wrote most of his best stuff during that time. Have you ever heard a soldier's poetry read by a solider? I have, and its unspeakably moving. I cried. Right there, in the middle of class. The only time I was ever moved to tears by a teacher's reading was in Dr. Corley's class reading Leaves of Grass. He is a giant among men. I really hope every guy that took his class took MANY pages out of his book to paste in their own. A knight without armor that one is.

I probably won't realize the full extent of their influence till I'm in front of my own class and I hear myself say "It's all connected" or "What is X? What does X mean? What does X do?" but for now I'm sitting pretty warm and fuzzy and light years better for being where I've been and seeing what I've seen and finally making it through.

That night after all the insanity when mom, dad and I were nestled in at The Melting Pot dad asked me what were some of my best memories of college and I only saw faces of people. It took me forever to get to CalPoly and to the English department to be guided and shaped by these amazing people. It was road less traveled and it has made all the difference.

Bleeding Purple and Gold

You may not know by looking at me, or by looking around my house, but I am a die-hard fan.

I love basketball and I love the Lakers
I think it started with Chick Hurn and Kareem when I was about 4.
I have sweet memories of watching the Lakers/Boston championships all throughout the 80s with my dad and learning the difference between a hook shot and a free throw and why Magic was magic and why being “on your wallet” was bad and why “in the refrigerator” was good thing. I loved the pace of the game, I loved how the players were elegantly larger than life. I loved how it was a cerebral game as well as just forcing the flesh. I loved how excited I got at every free throw and I loved the fact that they were constantly reaching up instead of across a field like in football. Kareem remains one of my favorite players of all time. The Gentle Giant. Don’t mess with the man either, but he was the nice one.

I just loved it all and nothing much has changed.

Basketball has been a part of my life since, well, forever. Every time I went to Tucson to visit family we’d hit up one of my cousin’s games. I’d go support our church ball leagues; I was a faithful fan of our unsung but very capable and accomplished high school team. It’s pretty impossible to grow up LDS and not be basketball and volleyball proficient.

Basketball was an intimate part more than one District Leader’s lessons on my mission as well. There are a lot of lessons in basketball. John Wooden remains one of my heroes and one of the best men who has ever walked the planet.
I love how it brings people I love together and leaves them better.

But mostly I love the Lakers

Some of my best memories with my crazy brothers and cousins have been watching the Lakers play, being on our feet, and cheering for purple and gold boys, IBCs in hand and feeling nothing but love and adrenaline.

Since the Kobe years and the death of Chick my dad has pretty much put away his purple and gold allegiances but my brother and I are still carrying the torch. And for the first time since Shaq left we’ve found themselves back in the finals, AND against Boston of all people. Little else has been in or out of my thoughts in the last two and a half weeks except maybe Twilight and my graduating from college – more on that later.

Now, if you love the Lakers you hate Boston. It’s the rules. Larry Bird and Magic came up together in the 70’s through college and the draft and were always personal rivals and then they both became centerpieces of their teams that they played for the majority of their careers; Bird with Boston and Magic here in LA. They played each other in NBA Finals 6 different times and the rivalry went from being personal to a franchise wide loathing. Things haven’t changed much since then. I still hate Boston. When my friend went to go visit earlier this year it was all I could do to not go “Why??!” every time she mentioned it. Boston is where happiness goes to die. Everyone knows that.

NBA speaking, I think Brett Hall got it right when he said “I hate Boston (he's a true fan) but I like Boston’s players”. I will totally agree with that. Boston’s line up right now is amazing and as much as I hate to admit it, we are getting handed our cabooses in pieces. 4 different pieces. Game 6 of the finals is tomorrow night in Boston. We’ve already lost two games out there and one here to Boston. We need to win two more if we’re going to take it but with how we’re playing and the fact that Boston is practically breathing fire at us (Kevin Garnett, I’m looking at you) we’ll have to see what happens.

I’m nervous. As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Tomorrow is a big day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Proper Chagrins

I think this is going to be a recurring series of blogs (I think that makes 3 for me) because that seems to be what my life turning out to be about. Eating crow. And in all reality, I'm not minding at all.

This time around is in regards to a series of books that I have purposefully avoided for awhile. A long while. Like 4 years-awhile.My old roommate, shortly after we both fled from the Pit of Despair and found our own little niches was all squeals and giggles about it. I was excited at first because she is a total book soul mate. Harry Potter - same page. LOTR - same page. The Georgia Nicholson Confessions - same page. I don't know why I doubted her. I knew she had a particular love for vampires that I didn't really share but no biggie right?

What turned me off the most was *gulp* that it was and LDS author.

I know - I know!
I'm such a snob.

But every single run in I've had with LDS fiction up to this point in time has been campy and a total let down. The only LDS fiction that I own and love has principally been written by people that I know directly and because one of the books was dedicated to me. I mostly find it to be the equivalent of that Halloween candy that sticks around forever and ever. You know, those strawberry candies and multi colored versions of those pinwheel mints. Its candy, but not really candy. Blah - no good.

She found it in the Deseret Book Catalog and typically anything in there that isn't written by a General Authority just doesn't blip on my radar. She had the good sense to pick up on it, but I wasn't feeling it. Her whole experience is here.

Her passionate recommendation was the first in a long line of people from almost every different aspect of my life. It seemed everywhere I went I was getting "What??! You haven't read these yet?!" People from work, people from school, people I happened to be chatting up at Jiffy Lube... It was getting ridiculous. This disinclined me even more because if too many people like something I'm automatically more skeptical. Like all those people that told me to go see Titanic. You know who you are!...... 4 hours I'll NEVER get back. Ever.

So, I started to consider picking it up when my mother turned into a big pair of eyes and half finished incredulous sentences at the thought of me not having read them-

What do you mea....?
How can you....?!
They're som......
You simply hav.......

My mom brought it up at book club as a possible book and one of the ladies who had read it and loved it was like "I wouldn't give it to anyone younger than 16 to read... I wouldn't want my girls thinking its OK to lie in bed with their boyfriends" and I thought -

Whattha....? That's weird... That's not a part of the Mormon Fiction formula. Maybe this is just a normal book that happens to just be written by an LDS author and the Mormon Culture PR machine simply picked it up.

The final needle in they straw stack was one of my Beehives (I'm the 1st counselor in my ward's YW). She came up to on Sunday after church all far off looks and fluttery eyelashes just sighing about how much she loved Twilight and how they're her FAVORITE books ever and how she doesn't really like reading but she's read them three times and how August 2nd can't come fast enough etc and I thought -

OK - so this book is getting my girls to read AND it might not be appropriate for a 12 year old... I'm the book geek/adult type here. If my girls are reading these I should know what's in them in case something needs to be discussed that's not appropriate and so I know whats going into their little heads. These are my girls. It's my job to know.

That was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I had just finished The Other Boleyn Girl and I needed a new book.

Total aside of an unsolicited review: The Other Boleyn Girl was lovely. It was.... Elizabethan. Not PG rated by any means but fabulously engaging for us costume freak types and I'm obsessed with the Tutors anyway. It doesn't take much. Elizabeth I is a hero of mine and anything surrounding her = awesome. Pure awesome as a matter of fact. She makes me proud to have the name I do. Love love love her. Lovelovelovelove.

I ploughed through The Other Boleyn Girl the beginning of that weekend. I was slightly reeling from the strange weekend I had had the week before and needed to escape for a bit.

So with all this preamble, and ice cracking, and prejudice overcoming, and not being too ready come up for air in reality -

I picked up Twilight.

Now, you need to understand - I love books. As a function of my genetics and upbringing they are the next best thing to marzipan, and foot rubs, shoe shopping. I'm a dyslexic kid but my love for them overcame that, saw me through adolescence, AP English and they have been my sanity and refuge since. I'm an English major, the daughter of and English major, the grand daughter of and English major, and a great granddaughter of an English major. Some families have jewelry, mine has books.

So - that being said, it's a given that I loved this book by the simple fact that it was bound, had words on paper and told a story of some kind. Also, it had added stock because it was an Adolescent Lit book. They're the best kind. There really isn't much getting around that.

But from go I didn't just love this book. It was a book that I fell in love with. I started when I woke up the next morning and stayed up till 2. I didn't eat or do much of anything. Just shifted from one posture to another in my reading chair. I got strangely annoyed every time my mom knocked on my door or when my text message alert chimed (*gasp* - I know! It was an annoyance to text! Me!! It's Armageddon.) I was mad that my eyes were too tired to work anymore after 16 hours, not to mention that I had to work in 6.

I woke up and seriously considered calling in sick to work to finish. I didn't. I didn't! But I did think about it and that made me sit up and take notice. I haven't been that into a book since Harry Potter. These characters were real to me, they were people I was invested in and their story was fantastically real. I loved falling in love with Edward alongside Bella and being just as confused and fascinated with what on earth was going on in that lovely lovely head of his. I saw many if not all of my own awkward and beloved moments of falling in love with hers and Edwards relationship.

Yup, yup. I've been in that sitting at the same lab table and being so distracted by how attracted I was to the person sitting next to me that whatever we're doing was all but noise in the background situation before etc etc...

I loved her goofy old truck that tapped out at 45 mph. My first car was a '69 Ford Falcon that wasn't in much better shape but I loved just a much, if not more.

I could smell the humid air and feel the angst and sympathize with the gravity of feeling yourself for the first time and seeing yourself for the first time through someone else's eyes.

I loved how it was this marvelous look at what it meant to be human and the humanizing effects falling in love has. How it brings out the best and worst in us and that suddenly both are OK. I loved how Bella has a hard time accepting the excellence that is just laying in wait to be hers in the form of the Cullen family and Edward. With every page turn I found something else to love in this simple, totally heartfelt story.

I took the book to work but kept it in my car because I knew I'd just ignore my work if I took it in. I snuck downstairs and to my car for both my breaks (which I never take), took a long lunch and read and finally finished that night and had the second book New Moon within arms reach as soon as I was done.

New Moon was another 600 some odd pages of awesome with better writing and a whole new side of the story.

Same with Eclipse. I was done with all 3 by Thursday cursing work, eating and sleep the whole way. St Francis of Azizi always called his body and the appetites binding it "Brother Pig" and for once I understood that concept. Sister Sow (that's the girl version according to my mom)! I'd say, Behave yourself and just let me get through this one part.

I didn't find it inappropriate for my Beehives to read at all. In fact, I had an emphatic discussion with all my girls about it last night at mutual and it opened up a nice and constructive dialog about boyfriend dynamics and what's appropriate and what wasn't. It was fantastic. I told them since there is a good chance whomever they decided to date probably won't be a vampire a different set of norms applies but Edward should teach them the difference between a boy and a man and never to settle for the former. It was great. I felt all grown up and sagy, but in-the-know at the same time.

I started talking to whomever I could remember that had read it so that I could gush. I had to. This was too much good to not be spoken of. This isn't a casual read. These aren't wall paper characters that adorn a house or a mind. These are limelight people that harrow as much devotion out of you as Frodo and Harry. I know that's big talk, but for me it's true and from what I've seen of others, it's true for them too.

I even told a fellow Harry Potterer guy type that he needed to read it. He gave me crap about it being a chick book and a smutty romance, neither of which is true. But he went out to Borders and got it anyway and is reading even though he's in medical school and on rotations. Ha! Good man.

It's an amazing set of books and I'm really excited for Aug 2nd now too. I have no idea where it's going to end and who is going to end up with who or how any of the brewing impossible situation is going to work. I'm not sure a happily ever after is possible, but I'm hoping and Stephanie has shown a marvelous talent for figuring out how to do that.

It's a book that is lovely, of good report and all that. Also, it's moral and entertaining and really positive. It's SO RARE to find that anymore and I can't help but want to send a hefty, card stocky, embossed thank you to Stephanie for it. We owe her a lot.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wednesday Giggles

So its been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks

the Lakers are in the NBA finals
I devoured the Twilight Series and fell in love with it
I've had a heart crack (not a heart break)
and a # of other things that I'll get to all in good time

But for Wednesday Giggle I'll share what has just tickled me more than once this week.

The favorite of my varied podcasts is one from Comedy Central called Best Week Ever. It's a show they put on once a week but everyday they have "Best Day Ever" which is a select group of tre funny comedians and their commentary on TV viewing that day (or week if you will).

It's like watching TV with your funny friends. I love it. Here is their take on the MTV Movie awards.

"and it's not Values"

and don't forget the dance moves -
Oh man - I love these people