Friday, December 24, 2010

Atmospheric Anomalies...

...are interesting to drive in.

On Monday I drove to Springville, UT with Chelsea to visit family. We stayed with my sister and visited two of Chelsea's. It was a fun visit and I didn't want to come back so soon.

The drive up to Springville was a little stressful, due to snowfall. I consider myself a skilled and cautious driver, so it only took about an hour longer than normal. Saw the aftermath of several accidents, but didn't even come close to having one of our own. Yay for me.

On the way back, we didn't have snow, but fog. I'd never driven in fog before. As a driver, I would prefer to be the only one on the road, mostly because I don't trust the other drivers to know what they're doing. Driving in fog gave the impression I was the only one around. Of course, I like to be able to see a ways ahead, to know what's coming. Fog isn't so good for that.

As I drove, I stared intently into the dense blanket of gray ahead of me, trying to see farther ahead than the 20 feet or so that I could actually see. Occasionally, in the oncoming lanes, I would see a dark shadow that would coalesce into a vehicle for a couple moments, then disappear almost as soon as I could see it in my rear-view mirror.

A couple times, as I was staring into the fog, I would realize that I could see a car ahead of me. The fog had dissipated just enough to let me see about twice as far ahead as I could before. I hadn't realized this was happening, as I was so focused on being alert for any slow moving vehicle that I wouldn't be able to see until I was right behind it.

Chelsea and I arrived safe and sound, no problems.

When I left the house to come to work, Cedar City was blanketed in a dense fog. I've never seen fog in Cedar City before. It made the journey to work seem rather dream-like. In rain or snow I can still see far enough ahead to know that the stoplight 6 blocks away just turned red or green or whatever. With fog, I could barely see two blocks ahead of me. It was almost like the rest of the city didn't exist until I got close enough, then went away after I passed.

All the electric lights I could see were diffused, like looking at the house across the street through a frosted window pane.

Plus, the fog makes everything seem quieter.

Overall, I rather like fog. Does that make me weird?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Early This Morning...

...3:30 AM, to be precise.

I happened across an article in USAToday that caught my attention. It was a brief look at the yearly sky spectacle known as the Geminids meteor shower. Apparently, the Perseids in August get all the attention, because, really, who doesn't like stargazing on a clear summer night? The Geminids have been a yearly occurrence for hundreds of years, according to an article I read. And the big difference that separates the Geminids from other the Perseids and the Leonids? The Geminids are debris falling from a passing asteroid.

Yep, a huge chunk of rock hurtling through space has been dropping debris on Earth for hundreds of years. Where is it picking up this debris? Or was it so big in the beginning that it still has the size to spare? I don't know.

What I do know is that the shower was spectacular. I told Chelsea that I was planning on driving south of Cedar City to watch the shower. She opted to go along. We drove out onto the road heading to Kanarraville, pulled off on a side road, parked along the side, then sat on the reclined shoulder to watch. It was a comfortable seat, except for the chill.

There were a lot of falling stars to watch. At least one a minute, judging by all the "oohs" and "ahhs" that we muttered.

I saw one that looked like a huge blue explosion in the sky. Another was a bright streak that lasted several seconds as it fell to the horizon. Even the streak of Milky Way was visible.

It was a good experience. I can't wait for next year.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't Have Much to Say...

...I'm kind of tired.

Not just sleepy. Tired. I had an enjoyable semester, but it was also exhausting. The classes I took were very stimulating and I learned a lot.

I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to plan for. Details to come later. Maybe.

Heh.

I've been addicted to a song the last two days. Can't stop listening to it. It's called "Dis que tu me retiendras" by Garou. I like his voice because he's not a tenor, which means I can actually sing along. This song hangs out at the upper limit of my chest-voice range. I've actually gotten emotional a couple times while listening to the song. Haven't cried. Yet. That may still happen.

I've got a trip planned for the week of Christmas. I'm going to visit my older sister, the one that lives in Springville. I love visiting her and her family. Always have a good time. Wish I could stay for Christmas, but I have to work. Oh, the joys of working at a hotel. Overall, it's a great job, just inconvenient at times. Oh well.

Went and saw Tangled tonight. Not a bad movie. Not my favorite this year, either. But it wasn't bad. Had a lot of funny moments.

Anyway, that's all for now. Wow, this post is all over the place.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen...

...died yesterday.

Not extremely surprising, as he was 84, but it was still a sad notice. On the entertainment websites, he is fondly remembered for the Naked Gun movies and his starring role in the Police Squad TV series. Heck, he's even canonized for Forbidden Planet, filmed long before he started doing comedy.

My favorite Leslie Nielsen role? As a general on MASH, in the episode titled "Ringbanger." His character keeps leading troops into hopeless situations and causing many injuries and deaths. So Hawkeye and Trapper manage to convince him that he is insane. Very funny episode.

I know he had a long career with many roles, but that's my favorite. Make of it what you will.

Heh.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kanab...

...is still there.

I went to my parents' house yesterday with Chelsea. I figured since I'm meeting her entire family today, I should start introducing her to mine. It's only fair, right?

It went fairly okay and I survived. That's about all I'll say about the visit itself. I'm still processing, and the rest may stay internal. That's just how I roll sometimes.

While in Kanab, my parents were willing to give me some books. I know, I really needed more, right? I already have a rough time every time I move just with what I have. However, my dad was born in 1933, and he's been acquiring books for quite some time.

Several of the books hadn't been moved in a very, very long time. The dust was thick as any I've seen in a long time.

So what books did I bring home? Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette: The Guide to Gracious Living. I know. Hilarious, right?
  2. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe
  3. Poems of Byron, Keats and Shelley, Selected and Edited by Elliott Coleman
  4. Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  5. The Lost World of Quintana Roo by Michel Peissel
  6. The Deaths of the Bravos by John Myers Myers
  7. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  8. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  9. Robin Hood penned and pictures by Louis Rhead
  10. Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
  11. Grimm's Fairy Tales
  12. Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare
  13. King Arthur and His Knights compiled by Sir James Knowles
  14. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  15. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  16. Hans Anderson's Fairy Tales
  17. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  18. A book containing The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Now I have much to read. They've been added to my stack of books waiting to be read.

Joy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's interesting...

...at least to me.

I've been dating Chelsea for a couple weeks. Our relationship is progressing at what would normally be an alarming rate. However, things feel so natural with her that I can't help wanting to push it even faster. I've managed to resist that urge thus far. How long can I hold out? I don't know.

I try very hard not to be a typical Utah native. See, it's a stereotypical part of Mormon culture for a couple to date a couple weeks, then get engaged. I've always looked at that with a fair amount of pessimism. Dating someone for a couple weeks doesn't give a person insight into the potential partner's personality.

Now, however, I find myself wanting to take the leap. No worries, I'm not going to make any major life decisions any time within the next week or two.

It all feels right at the moment. It feels fantastic, to tell you the truth. I'm a hopeless romantic, but luckily I have this practical side that keeps me from making too many mistakes. It sure is fun to imagine being that impulsive though. I only have a couple weeks left in the semester and I just want to say "stuff it" and just abandon my classes to the wolves just to focus on her. It's all I can do to keep going and work on my assignments. I want to spend all my time with her.

It's a new and exciting feeling.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Top Five...

...country songs. At the moment. My tastes can be slightly fickle and subject to change. I could probably write a new list next week and have a couple different songs. Anyway, here you go:

  1. Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. This was the song they wrote in response to the nasty reaction after lead singer Natalie Maines told a crowd that the chicks were ashamed President Bush came from Texas. The group received death threats and were told to "shut up and sing." So much for free speech, I guess. Anyway, this song basically says that they are ready to forgive but they can't forget. They're going to keep being who they are. It's a nice anthem. Really inspiring.
  2. Already Home by Ha-Ash featuring Brandi Carlile. Great song about regret. This trio of voices sings about how, after breaking up and going out on their own, they each realize that when they were with their ex they were already home, that they didn't really need to move on. They had everything they wanted. It's a very poignant song.
  3. Highwayman by The Highwaymen. Talk about a country super-group. Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash. Waylong Jennings. Kris Kristofferson. Each member sings a verse about a different character that has died but still lingers in spirit form. Considering each story is about 30 seconds long, I'm surprised at how much I connect to each character. It's a great song.
  4. Need You Now by Lady Antebellum. I love duets. In any genre. So a country group that writes most of their songs as duets? Yeah, I'm there. This song is all about the loneliness felt when separated from the person who has a claim on your heart. "It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now." Great sense of longing. I love singing along with this one.
  5. Stuck Like Glue by Sugarland. So amazingly catchy. I can't get the thing out of my head. It's a rather unique song, as the country is infused with reggae. Not your usual combination, but it really works here. Plus, the music video is hilarious. Jennifer Nettles, the female lead singer, is incredibly tall, about 6'6" in heels. She also has the best crazy/angry eyes I've ever seen. When she gives the guy in the video a nasty look, I quake in my socks. Fun, bouncy, and a little crazy. What's not to like?
And there you go. A pretty good selection if I say so myself. I'll probably do another list fairly soon featuring another genre. Maybe even a specific artist. I'm thinking songs from musicals, Bon Jovi songs, Billy Joel songs, that sort of thing. Should be fun.

I hope.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't Get Excited...

...especially you, Mom.

I went on a date this week. I had a wonderful time. And now I'm scared shitless.

See, here's the deal. I find the girl I went out with very attractive. She has tons of qualities that I look for. She's pretty amazing. Met her in my Creative Non-Fiction class. We had set the date for Wednesday night. On Tuesday, she said a bunch of her friends were going to a movie and did I want to go? Not to the ones her friends wanted, but we went to Despicable Me (great movie by the way). So I'm sitting there in the theater, in the dark, and I want to hold her hand.

Me.

The guy who moves at a near glacial pace when going out with someone. I like to think things through, be sure of what I'm feeling, what I want. So holding hands is a pretty significant first step. I didn't, but the fact I wanted to was very telling for me.

We had a fun first date: Dinner with good conversation. A reading by our professor at the local book store. Mini-blizzards at Dairy Queen afterward with more good conversation. I took her home and she invited me in. I met her roommates. They were nice. One went to high school with my niece. My date put her hand on my knee. I was surprised but comfortable with it. We conversed for a while. I almost pushed her off the chair, but restrained myself. Then I got ready to leave. I thought about going for a kiss.

Me!

Gah! What is going on? I think about her and my heart starts stuttering, making me nervous and jittery. I get around her and I want to be impulsive.

A week ago, I was thinking about requesting that my church remove my name from their records. Not because I was upset or anything, I just don't enjoy it and don't want to deal with it anymore. I think I'll give it another try. Not because she would want me to, because I think she'd rather I do things I want to do. However, I want to do it, because she deserves someone who's willing to meet her at least halfway. Who knows? Maybe me and the church won't work out, but I think she'll be okay with what I decide. We haven't discussed it yet, but I've been thinking about it. She's a returned missionary. So am I. I just returned a little more.

I think I'm crushing. Hard. And it's fun, exciting, nervewracking, distracting, exhilirating, terrifying and just plain great.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Elections...

I voted today. It's the first time in a long time I've cared enough to do the research and actually vote. I put it off a little too long, so I don't know that I was as informed as I should have been, but I made an effort. Next time I'll do better.

More on this later.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Baseball...

...hunh. I don't think I have ever posted about baseball. I probably won't ever again.

The Texas Rangers will face the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. I'll be honest. I don't care about baseball. Not even a little. However, the Rangers beat the New York Yankees to get to the World Series. Why is that significant?

The Texas Rangers used to be the Washington Senators.

Why is that significant?

Go watch "Damn Yankees." It's a great musical. I haven't seen it in a long time. A part of the plot is the idea that the Washington Senators can never quite manage to beat those damn Yankees.

Now they finally have. They just had to move to Texas to do so. And it took 50 years.

Good for them. Now I have to find a copy of Damn Yankees to buy.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Kolob Canyon...

Saturday I went with my poetry classmates to middle fork of Taylor Creek in Kolob Canyon, another branch of Zion National Park.

We went specifically to be inspired by the rather astounding beauty of the canyon.
In that sense, the hike was a complete success. I felt very inspired. I feel that, were I a painter, I would suck at landscape painting. Every time I attempted to describe what I was seeing, my mind shut down. I could only focus on the smaller details.

Then I got distracted by a squirrel. His burrow was about 20 feet away from where I was sitting. He sat still for a couple photos, then worked his way around to the streambed, ending up about 5 feet away from me.

Here is his picture, from when he was closer to his burrow:


And he inspired a poem.

My Squirrel Friend

I hear movement in some scrub oak
up the bank from where I sit.
I watch the spot with my eyes,
trying not to move my head.
It seems I have discovered
a squirrel's burrow.


My squirrel friend has
super powers,
for he can resist
the siren call
of the cellophane wrapper,

completely unlike his
sin verguenza cousins who live
in
the Grand Canyon
and will raid your pack
though you're standing two feet away.

Greedy Bastards.


And that's it. I quite like the poem, and I really enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Interesting Week...

...one could say a very successful week, but only in certain ways.

I'm working on a fiction piece right now that's going very well. I hope to have it done by Tuesday. Or at least "done enough" to turn in to my fiction professor. Like many writers I know, my pieces rarely get finished. There's always something else I could find to fix and make better. Eventually, I just get to the point where I say, "Enough's enough. Time to let it fly free and exist on its own and work on something else."

I'm proud of the story idea and where it's going. The characters feel alive to me. I hope they come across that way on the page.

I also had a very good experience in my Poetry class. I submitted a poem for a class workshop and it was very well received. I also got many excellent suggestions on how to tighten up the couple stanzas that just didn't sing as well as the others. Talentless hacks! Get out of my choir! Heh.

Also, for about the last 12 years or so, I have been attempting to find a friend I had in the first and second grades. His family moved and we wrote to each other for a while, but that eventually fell by the wayside. Of course, we were only, what, 9 at the time? Go figure.

Anyway, every couple months or so, I would spend two hours trying to find him on the internet. It was a little difficult without any knowledge of where he had lived for certain. But I tried. And tried.

In my fiction class this week, my professor was talking about the core group of readers he used to get feedback on his stories. He mentioned each by name. With the last, he mentioned the guy was from Kanab, where I grew up. The name was the same as my friend's older brother. And I can't recall any other families with their surname in Kanab. It was an electrifying moment.

I asked my professor for his friend's contact info, and explained why I wanted it. I sent an email to his friend and got my friend's email address.

Then I took a couple days to think of how best to approach the email I was going to send. I didn't want to come off as some obsessed stalker.

I wrote a brief email, explaining how I had come by the address and gave a brief summary of the highlights of my life since he moved.

Yesterday I received a response. It was a lot of fun to read, and I hope it will be the beginning of a reconnection.

Now I kind of want to try and track down who I now realize was my first crush.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What ifs...

When it comes to stories, I like "What ifs." You know, like "What if Captain America and Phoenix had a kid together?"

When it comes to my own life, I'm not so fond of them. I like to have things set out in a line, and with too many options, my mind starts to lose track. I usually think in terms of "If this happens, then I'll do that." But I rarely go more than one or two steps down an optional road.

In my life right now, I have three possible outcomes in the next couple of months. I'm getting ready to apply to graduate schools. I only have enough money to apply to three, maybe four, so I'm making a lot of effort to choose the schools I think fit me best and that have the best chance of accepting me. I also anticipate a fairly nice tax return coming up. The three possible outcomes coming up are as follows:
  1. If I get accepted to a grad school, I use the tax return to move to wherever I have to go.
  2. If I don't get accepted, and I get a decent job, I'll stay in Cedar City for a little longer and go to Peru next summer.
  3. If I don't get accepted, and I don't get a decent job, then I'll move to wherever I find a decent job, possibly New Mexico.
I like having options, and I think these are good ones. I really want to go to grad school. That's the big plan. However, there's always the chance that I won't get accepted. Hence the other options.

I think it's a decent plan. I hope so, anyway.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can You Read My Mind?

I sometimes think that my computer can read my mind.

No, seriously. Maybe it's a coincidence, but different things have occurred often enough that it has gone past simple coincidence.

For example, many times while playing music on iTunes, I have heard a sequence of songs, about 5 or 6 songs long, that is exactly the sequence I need to be cheered up or work my way through a personal problem. It's uncanny. Other times, my computer will play only songs that I am not in the mood to hear.

I'm a big fan of the Mozilla Firefox Add-On called StumbleUpon. Basically, you tell the program what sort of internet sites you are interested in, then click the stumble button and a random site will pop up based on your interests. You can tell the program whether you like or dislike the current site, and this will help it refine its choices for you. It's kind of fun to click stumble when I'm just looking for something new and interesting.

Stumbleupon helped my find a website last week that I think will be very helpful. The site talked about a study Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist, made about what she calls Highly Sensitive People (HSP). Reading her description clicked with me. I've thought I was weird for being so sensitive to other people's emotions. Turns out that 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive. I just thought it was nice to know that there are other people in the same boat I am. As with any study, I take the findings with a grain of salt, but I also take what I think will help me cope and try to incorporate it into my life.

I have an acronym!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Short Story Proposals (Part One)...

To help us get in the habit of generating story ideas, my fiction professor has us submit a short proposal every week. He'll give us a prompt to get us going in the general direction, but after that it's all us. The only special request is that our idea "not suck."

This is my first proposal. We were supposed to generate an idea for a romance story. I don't read romance stories, so this was a tough one.

Myles Wright is 25, living in Draper, UT. He is currently in his senior year at the University of Utah, studying in the Spanish program, and has started sending in applications for Masters programs at schools outside the state. His goal is to teach Spanish at the university level. He is a returned missionary from the Guayaquil, Ecuador mission, where he learned Spanish and developed a love for the Hispanic culture. He gets a LOT of flack from his family because he's 25 and *gasp* not married yet. He dates, but rarely gets past the second date. He just doesn't click with the girls he dates. On top of that, he refuses to date girls just out of high school, wanting someone within two years of his own age. That can be a little difficult, what with the prevailing culture of marrying young. He has been giving some serious thought to giving up on dating until he gets into a grad school, but then he meets Jessica.


Jessica seems to be ideal for Myles. She's easy to talk to, 23 and loves the original Star Trek series. He met her at Barnes & Noble. He was shopping for a new fantasy novel, while she was looking for the new David Sedaris book. They spent some time chatting books and he surprised himself by asking her out. She accepted.


They date for several months. One evening, after a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, Myles starts trying to steer the conversation around to marriage when Jessica tells him, “I'm so excited! I just sent in my mission papers!”


Myles is completely thrown by this announcement, though he recovers enough to congratulate her. They spend the rest of the evening discussing where she might like to serve and when she will enter the MTC. Myles wracks his brain, but can't figure out how to discuss marriage with her. After a couple weeks, he finally gets up the courage (again) to ask her about marriage. He sends her a text, saying he really needs to talk to her. He gets one back saying that she needs to talk, too. He cooks dinner for her that evening. She arrives, super excited, and bursts out, “I got my call!” He blurts out that he wants to marry her. That calms her down.


They discuss the possibility of marriage, and she tells him that she wants to pray about it before making a decision. She decides to accept her mission call.


Jessica goes on her mission to France, and Myles gets accepted into UTEP. Before leaving, Jessica told Myles she didn't expect him to wait for her, though she would appreciate it. They write to each other every week. He focuses on being supportive of her mission work, though he does mention his progress in school. She also stays focused on the work.


About four months into her mission, Myles is starting his second semester. In one of his classes, he meets Billie. She is a returned missionary from the Quito, Ecuador mission. Myles and Billie get along famously. They start dating. Billie knows that he is still writing to Jessica, but he hasn't mentioned anything about dating in his letters to Jessica. His relationship with Billie progresses to the point that he writes a “Dear Jane” letter and seals and addresses the envelope.


Then, Myles finds out from Billie that she would like lots of kids because sex is “only for procreation.” He discusses this with Billie, hoping to convert her to the idea that sex can be for enjoyment as well. She doesn't buy it and they break up.


Jessica returns home and she and Myles pick up where they left off until she finds the “Dear Jane” letter in the back of a book where he left it and forgot it. Huge fight follows. Jessica breaks up with Myles. The story ends with Myles attending Jessica's wedding reception, because they are “still friends.”



Monday, September 13, 2010

Latest essay...

No, I'm not going to post it here. I may eventually put up a portion of it, or I may post pieces serially, but, as of this moment, the essay is thirteen double-space pages long. That would be a huge blog post to slog through.

Besides, it isn't finished yet. I still have to go through and revise the thing. I managed to get most of it written in one marathon session, but that means that it is very rough.

I decided to interweave little sections about songs that make me emotional. Who know my blog would inspire my academic career? Unfortunately, I think some of the songs I chose weren't the best songs I could have chosen. That will be part of the revision process.

Now I have to do research on Ferris Wheels for an assignment for my fiction class. Oh, and I also have to write seven haikus for my poetry class.

I think I'm in for a busy week.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cliffhangers...

...at the end of a TV season really, really make me annoyed.

I actually like cliffhangers, as a general rule. Even in TV. Between episodes that is. I kind of like waiting anxiously for the next episode to come out so that I can see what happened. But only if the wait is a week or two.

Case in Point: Veronica Mars. Lots of single episodes end in cliffhangers. That's fun. The two seasons I've watched so far have ended each season on cliffhangers as well. That's not so much fun. Yes, in this case, I can watch the next episode when I get off work, but that's only because the series ended a couple years ago.

Other guilty parties? Smallville. And I seem to remember Lost having some killer season-ending cliffhangers. Heroes was notorious for this. And then they got canceled after the last cliffhanger episode. Oh, and in the book front, the most recent book in the Harry Dresden series made me scream. Out loud. Because it ended in a horrible, horrible cliffhanger. I won't be able to see what happened to Harry until April. Gah!

Sometimes it seems as though the show's writers are afraid that no one will watch the next season unless they have this huge cliffhanger. Come on people, trust your fan base.

Okay. Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled blogging.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Blog I Enjoy...

Sleep Talkin' Man is probably the funniest thing I have read in quite a while. It has seriously helped me get over my bout with whatever I had last night. Blech.

Anyway, the blog is kept by this lady who records what her husband says in his sleep. She posts the audio and transcribes the audio as well. The person talking is apparently rather distinct from her husband. Different opinions and vocabulary.

Very funny and worth checking out at least once.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I Write...

This is an essay I wrote for my Creative Non-Fiction class.

I write because I feel I have something to say. As a white, middle-class, American male, I feel I get lumped in with the white, middle-class, American male stereotype. Yes, there are worse stereotypes, but I don't like getting categorized like that. One of my best friends, Pepe Robles, a native of Huacho, Peru, accused me, in the best way, of having an “envase gringo, contenido peruano.” Roughly translated, this means a gringo container, Peruvian contents. That's a label I wear with pride. I write to show that all is not as it appears on the outside.

I write because paper is a shield that allows me to strip away the armor that I use to protect and hide my true self. I can bare my soul and let myself be vulnerable because when it's on paper, I can distance myself from it.

I write because writing allows me to be paradoxical.


I write because I don't like confrontation. Every day I see people commit acts of sheer stupidity. Rather than be outspoken about said stupidities, I take the passive-aggressive route and write about it.


I write because there is no “backspace,” no eraser for the things that come out of my mouth.


I write because it's therapeutic.


I write to find my truth.


I write to figure myself out. I'm 33 now. For the first 25 years or so of my life I tried to be the person I thought my parents, siblings and friends wanted me to be. I finally figured out that living that way was too stressful and that I wanted to be who I wanted to be. Writing helps me feel my way down the pitch-black hallway of self-discovery. Writing shines a flashlight on the cancerous traits I want to surgically remove and on the atrophied attributes I want to exercise and develop.


I write because I enjoy putting an actual pen to actual paper.


I write because I enjoy writing.


I write because if I don't write down these thoughts running through my head I will forget them. And, to be honest, and maybe just a tad egotistical, some of these thoughts are just too cool to be forgotten.


I write because somebody has to, and nobody else is going to tell my stories.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Classes...

I'm really excited for this semester. I think I'm going to make a lot of progress as a writer. At least I hope so.

I've got four writing classes. I'm a little worried that I'm going to run out of ideas, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I mentioned my creative non-fiction class. This is a relatively new genre. It includes biography, memoir and personal essays. An argument could be made to include journalism under the creative non-fiction umbrella, but I think it's generally held to be it's own beast. I really, really enjoy writing non-fiction. It's a pleasure and appeals to my search for personal truths.

I also have a class in playwriting. This one will be a good class for me, though it's the only class I foresee having personality conflicts with some of my classmates. And then, it's only one or two. No big deal.

I also have classes in poetry and fiction. I'm a little nervous for fiction, if only because I don't generally write fiction. I enjoy it, but haven't been able to wrap my mind around creating it.

So my schedule this semester is this: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I have creative non-fiction for an hour. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have playwriting, poetry, and fiction, all in a row, in that order. Each class is 80 minutes. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays I essentially have classes for 4 1/2 hours straight. I'm anticipating headaches on those days. But I'm still looking forward to it.

I've also volunteered to be an assistant editor for the yearly student publication "The Kolob Canyon Review." This should be a good experience and will hopefully look good on my grad school applications.

A little later today I'll post the first piece I wrote for my non-fiction class. A short essay about why I write.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Teaser...

Today is the first day of classes here at the local university. While there has been a lot of stress involved in preparing for today, I am excited to start my classes.

Particularly the only class I have today: Creative Non-fiction.

So excited!

More to come later....



Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Songs That Make Me Emotional (Part Four)...

"There's been a change in me. A kind of moving on, though what I used to be I still depend upon. For now I realize that good can come from bad. That may not make me wise, but, oh, it makes me glad.

And I...I never thought I'd leave behind my childhood dreams, but I don't mind, for now I love the world I see. No change of heart, a change in me.

For in my dark despair I slowly understood my perfect world out there had disappeared for good. But in it's place I feel a newer life begin and it's so good and real it must come from within.

And I... I never thought I'd leave behind my childhood dreams, but I don't mind. I'm where and who I want to be. No change of heart, a change in me."

I first heard the song, "A Change in Me," on the soundtrack to Disney's On the Record, a production using songs from 75 years worth of Disney music. I hadn't heard the song before because it is from the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast.

I had listened to the song maybe 3 or 4 times, but hadn't actually paid attention to the lyrics. I had just come back from a movie and I was sitting in the parking lot of my Mesa, AZ apartment and I actually listened to the lyrics. I started crying so hard I could barely breathe.

It had finally hit home that I needed to make changes in my life. I had to start deciding what I wanted and go for it.

I spent the majority of my life trying to be the person I thought other people wanted me to be. That's honestly a very stressful way to live. Having lived that way for 25 years, it's almost as stressful to decide who and what I want to be. I'm still working on it. It has involved a lot of surgery. Some parts of me I've been able to go in with a laser and cut out he exact trait I didn't like. Some of which involved therapy that I actually felt did me some good. Other parts that I had to get rid of were so rooted that it was like hacking away with a dull axe. I've also been doing some rebuilding and fortifying.

One of the big realizations I made with the help of therapy was that it is okay to dream. I had been so focused on being practical and trying to obtain what was within my reach that I lost the ability to dream. Getting that back has been a lifesaver. I don't get as depressed as before and the depressed periods I have are much more infrequent.

I'm a very spiritual person. I trust my feelings and innate sense of right and wrong to guide me. In attempting to hack away dead growths stunting the growth of my spirituality and sense of truth, I may have gone too far. At least according to some. I don't trust organized religions, including the church I grew up in. I believe in truth, wherever I may find it. I still believe in God. And good. And I feel good about where I'm at faith and religion-wise.

The best part is, I like myself now. I think I'm a pretty decent guy. It makes me sad to think how much i loathed myself before, how worthless I thought I was. No more. I like me. I'm still looking for more of what and who I want to be, but I've made a decent start. I can only get better from here.

"I'm where and who i want to be. No change of heart, a change in me."




Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Productivity...

...I has it.

At least the last couple of days. Yesterday I took pictures of my Xbox 360 and my bicycle so I could sell them on Craigslist. I posted the items for sale.

I also managed to practice my guitar for the first time in several months.

I even did some writing.

Today I took my car in to get the oil changed, went book shopping and sold my bicycle.

I also practice my guitar and did a little writing.

It's been a nice couple of days.

I'm particularly excited about the books I bought with store credit: I got two books in the Malloreon series by David Eddings in hardcover. I like hardcover. I also picked up "The Lonely Polygamist" by Brady Udall. Really looking forward to reading that book.

Good days. Kind of wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow night.

Oh well.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Charlie Brown...

...I've come to accept that I have a lot in common with Charlie Brown.

I suppose this realization was inevitable. In high school I auditioned for the part of Linus in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." I was cast as Charlie Brown. I had really wanted to be Linus, so I was a little disappointed for a day or two. I ended up really enjoying the
part and I had a lot of fun with it.

In one of my Spanish classes at Southern Utah University, I got to know a theater major fairly well. One day I asked him, "If you were directing 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' and I auditioned, who would you cast me as?" He immediately said, "Charlie Brown."

Everybody else could see the similarities long before I could. I accept the similarities and revel in them now.
I just discovered another similarity.

A week or so ago, I wrote about friendship and my frustration with always being the one to initiate activities. Yesterday I read a Peanuts comic strip from 1953. I scanned it in and am including it here. Click to make it more readable.


Go figure. Yet another connection.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Night Watch

Just finished what I believe is the last book in the Night Watch series, by Sergei Lukyanenko. He's a Russian psychiatrist who started writing Science Fiction novels in the early 80s.

I discovered the book series by way of the movie Night Watch, or Nochnoy Dozor. It was a visually stunning movie. When I found the movie was based on a book, I couldn't resist.

It's an interesting series. It has been touted as a modern horror epic, but I don't see it that way. This is very definitely a dark, urban fantasy. The bulk of the series takes place in Moscow. I'm guessing it gets labeled as horror due to featuring vampires and werewolves.

Anyway, the series deals with Others, people who gain the ability to use supernatural powers. These powers include vampirism and lycanthropy, but also magicians, enchantresses, witches, and battle shape-shifters. As the series starts, the focus is on the battle between the Light Others and the Dark Others. They fight over who will control the destiny of the ordinary people, who are basically batteries providing the power for the Others to use.

As the series goes on, Lukyanenko starts exploring the idea that Light and Dark don't represent good and evil. Both are needed and are in balance. One side can't win over the other. Some of the Dark Others are quite sympathetic, and some of the Light Others are manipulative and deceitful.

It's an interesting series, and it kind of makes me want to learn Russian so I can read the original without having to depend on a translation.

However, I don't think I'll get to learning Russian.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Books...

...are my friends.

I've been reading for a very, very long time. In the journal my mother kept, she says that I was reading pre-kindergarten.

I remember being addicted to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew book series at an early age. I read the ones I owned and the ones in the library over and over.

In fact, most books I love I read over and over. I probably go through my book collection, for the most part, once a year. I get very attached to the characters in these books. They are almost real to me.

Rather than ruining some of the plot twists, my intimate knowledge of what's coming enhances my enjoyment of the reading experience. For example, in the original Dragonlance trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, one of the principal characters dies early in the third book. Rather than ruining the moment, when I come across the early clues to his death I get emotional. Sometimes my eyes tear up so much I can't read for a couple minutes. And then when he dies, it takes me about 10 minutes to recover.

I'm also a very fast reader. When I read, it's almost like a movie running in front of my eyes. At least in English.

At the beginning of the summer, I set a goal to read several specific books by the end of the summer. It's close enough now that I can say I'm not going to get there. Rather than beat myself up about what I didn't get done, I thought I'd list what books I did read this summer.
  1. On Writing by Stephen King
  2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the six book series) by Douglas Adams
  3. Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
  4. Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  5. On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
  6. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
  7. The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum
  8. The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum
  9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  10. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
  11. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
  12. Queen of Darkness by Anne Bishop
  13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  14. The Summer of Black Widows by Sherman Alexie
  15. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  16. The Harry Potter books (all seven) by J.K. Rowling
  17. Lots of comic book graphic novels, including: Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris (2 volumes), Blackest Night and Blackest Night: Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and various artists, and PS 238 by Aaron Williams (7 volumes).
So, by my count, I've read 38+ books this summer. So far. I read constantly, so I'm sure I'll get through at least two or three more by the end of summer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friendship...

I don't have a particularly easy time making new friends. I'm an intensely loyal person, but also intensely private. I hold on to friends I've previously made and it takes me a long time to open up and trust acquaintances to the point that I consider them a friend.

Point of fact, about once a month I spend an hour or so trying to track down my best friend from the 2nd grade. His family moved to California.

I've noticed a recent trend. I realize everybody has their own life. I also realize that working a graveyard shift makes it difficult to figure out when I might be available. However, it's starting to bug me that with all my friends, I'm the one that has to initiate any sort of activity.

In fact, it's starting to make me a little bitter.

Out of my family, the only one that reciprocates initiation of contact is my little sister. We'll send texts back and forth. We'd spend time together, but she lives in Aurora, CO. We get together when we can.

With the few friends I have that are relatively close by, I have to suggest getting together. I have to follow up and make sure schedules sync up. I text and call back and forth with these friends, which is great, but when it comes to actually getting together, it's all on my shoulders.

I try not to be bitter and to accept things as they come, but that gets rather lonely, so I have to start being to one constantly calling and bugging people.

It makes me feel a little like the little kid from next door who constantly knocks and says, "Can he come out and play?"

Oh well.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Songs That Make Me Emotional (Part Three)


Once again, I'm veering just a little from the central idea of these posts. This one will be short. And it's about a song that makes me giggle.

Yes, I am a manly man and I openly admit that I giggle. I giggle, I laugh, I guffaw. It's all fair game to me. I like the rush of endorphins that I get when I laugh. Or giggle. Or guffaw. It really helps when I'm in the midst of a depression.

So, anyway, the song I want to discuss is called "I Get Off" by Halestorm.

Halestorm is a fairly recent discovery. They're a rock group with a female lead. In this song, the lead sings that she knows her male neighbor is watching her get undressed through her window. But she doesn't mind. In fact, she makes sure her light is on and the drapes opened so that he can see better.

The chorus starts "I get off on you getting off on me." I think the lead might just be trying to be Lita Ford. That's the impression I get anyway. The song is a rocking song that is just a little naughty.

And it makes me giggle.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Songs That Make Me Emotional (Part Two)...

...Can you break a format with the second article in a series? If so, I'm breaking the format just a little. I'm going to talk about two different versions of the same song.

What song? "Over the Rainbow." I know that have been many, many interpretations of this classic song. The two I want to discuss are the original, as performed by Judy Garland in the 1939 musical "The Wizard of Oz." The other is Matthew Morrison's interpretation from the TV show "Glee." So, basically, the oldest and the newest versions of the song.

And yes, I like both versions. A lot.

I'm a big fan of "The Wizard of Oz," both the 1900 book written by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 movie. I like both for different reasons, but I do like them both. The last 5 or 6 times I've watched the movie, when Judy starts singing "Over the Rainbow," I've gotten choked up. There's a purity to her performance. She feels it. You can tell. She sings the song with such wistfulness and yearning that you can't help but feel what she feels. She wants to go to this mythical land where everything's perfect and "where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."

Whenever I get lost in the Oz books or watch the movie, I find myself wishing that I could live in Oz. It's an idyllic land. Up until about 4 years ago, I never dared to let myself dream. I tried to be realistic and set goals that were grounded in reality. It made me miserable. The day I realized it was okay to let myself dream was an amazing day. You can't really live if you don't have any dreams.

Today I keep a lot of my deepest dreams to myself. I don't share them, but I revel in them. I long to fulfill them. And that yearning is a part of the same chord that Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" plucks on my heartstrings. I love that feeling.

Matthew Morrison's version differs from Judy's in several ways. Not just because it's a male voice singing. It's cheerful. "Glee"ful, if you will. It's celebrating the fact that this land exists, if we could only find it. Matthew accompanies himself on the ukulele. This adds a distinct flavor to the song. I'm a not a big ukulele fan. The tone is just a bit bright and glaring to me, but I love it in this version of a great song. This version of the song is just a bit faster, too.

I love this version of the song for it's cheerfulness. Simply put, listening to this version of "Over the Rainbow" makes me happy. And I really can't ask for more than that from a song.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Songs That Make Me Emotional (part one)...


...Okay, I'll be a little more honest. This will be a series of posts about songs that make me cry. And why.

I want to start with a song that I've been addicted to recently. I can't stop listening to it. And it has been during this recent addiction that this song has started to make me cry.

It's called "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks. The lines that particularly affect me are: "I'm not ready to make nice
, I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell and I don't have time to go round and round and round. It's too late to make it right. I probably wouldn't if I could, 'Cause I'm mad as hell, can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should."

For most of my life I was constantly trying to do what I thought that others (including my parents, teachers and other influential adults) wanted me to do. I was a good student growing up (still am, actually), but I felt a lot of pressure to be amazing because I was known as a good student. I felt pressured by my parents to perform well in school even though my parents never explicitly expressed anything like that. Basically I tried to be perfect, even though I knew I was very, very flawed and though I was very tired of trying to keep up the perfect image.

This attitude of mine was very rough on me, particularly when I was younger and didn't realize why I was the way I was. I didn't realize that I wasn't acting entirely on my own desires. As I've started to make decisions and guide my life based on what I want, I recognize that it's been hard on my parents. Particularly when it comes to participation in church activities. I don't enjoy being at church and I don't want to be there. So I don't go. I know my parents don't like or understand this attitude. My mom sends my new address to the church every time I move, so that the local ward can find me. My dad sent a six page letter telling me that he was very disappointed in me for not going to church. While I understand their motives and believe they have good intentions, I can't make myself go to church because my parents want me to go. If I decide to go to church again, it will be because I want to go.

That's just one example. I could go through several others, but they're along the same idea.

Every time I've listened to "Not Ready To Make Nice" in the last couple of days I've started getting all choked up. It resonates with me, resonates with my soul. I think they're on the same frequency.

More to follow, though probably not today.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Decision Time...

...though it seems the decision was really made for me, I just had to accept it.

Still having sleep issues. So I decided just to sleep when I can, and if I can't, I'm going to try not to stress about it.

I might get tired. I might be a little out of it for a while. I have to believe that eventually my body will figure it out.

I think it's a least partially because of the heat, so once it starts cooling down again, I'll probably sleep better more consistently.

I hope.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exploration...

Advance warning: This post will be an exploration of what I'm going through personally right now and what might possibly be the cause(s) of what I'm going through. Not really interested in giving my spin on what's happening in the world today. Also, I'm not really looking for people to start calling me and checking on me. I'm okay, just having a difficult couple of days.

I'm having trouble sleeping. I'm tired and sleepy, yet I can't sleep. It drives me nuts. As is common with other cases of depression, I'm relatively sure that my difficulties sleeping are related to my depression. I still don't think my depressive episodes are bad enough to warrant being medicated. I am backed in that opinion by the therapists I have seen. Of course, one of those therapists thought I was gay, or at the very least bi-sexual. So, who knows, maybe I do need to be medicated. But I don't think so. It's not constant.

Another contributing factor to my depression is my work schedule. I work the graveyard shift at a motel. For the most part I enjoy my job. There are things that irritate me about it, but hey, each job has its own irritations. Something I've noticed lately. When I'm at work I can't wait for the work week to be over. When I'm enjoying my days off, I can't wait to get back to work. My work schedule also is a direct cause of a large part of my depression.

I'm rather lonely. I tried to watch "Where the Wild Things Are" last night. I didn't even make it through 15 minutes. I was relating to the main character's loneliness and sense of isolation just a little too much. I will eventually watch the whole thing, and probably enjoy it, but not last night.

I have lots of friends. Unfortunately, my friends have busy lives and it's difficult to get together and hang out with them. Also, my work schedule makes it even more difficult to find a time when I could get together with a friend or two. Also, many of my friends don't live in the same city or even the same state as I do. There's a couple that don't live in the same country. So I get lonely. Most of the time I'm perfectly comfortable with spending lots of time on my own. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. I like reading. But sometimes I just want to be able to call somebody up and say, "Hey, want to catch a movie, or dinner, or just chat?"

Sometimes I also feel like I'm the only one making an effort to develop and extend the friendship. If I'm the only one that calls and says, "Let's do something," then after a couple attempts I feel like I'm being a little too persistent, or even possibly annoying. And yes, I recognize that this is my own perception, but if I'm never contacted to do anything, then I feel like I'm the only one making an effort. Does that make sense? I'm very tired and I'm not sure if I'm making any sense. It's possible that I've received invitations before and not been able to go and I'm just not remembering at the moment. Bleh.

Anyway, it all adds up to Adam being depressed and doing my best to maintain my emotions at an acceptable level. I don't really want any calls about this post. I like receiving phone calls and I like talking to my friends and family, but I don't want the sort of calls that start with or include, "I read your last post and I was really worried so I thought I should call." That's not the point of this particular post.

I guess it's pretty much just a venting post. If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking with it. Impressive stamina.

Heh.



Apenas...

...holding on.

By my fingernails.

That's all for now.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ashlee's Bicycle

“Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
'Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus, take the wheel”
--Carrie Underwood “Jesus, Take the Wheel”

My niece, Ashlee, is fiercely independent and almost pathologically shy. If I haven't visited in a couple months, it usually takes her an hour or so to warm up to me again. Starting a new school year is rather traumatic for her. Her mother, Diana, warns each new teacher of Ashlee's shyness; pleading for patience and understanding.

Once she warms up to you, Ashlee is as engaging and caring as you could possibly imagine. She loves to play pranks, especially on her mother. Diana has severe arachnophobia, a trait Ashlee does not share and loves to take advantage of. About once a month, she will place toy spiders and other plastic creepy-crawlies in her mother's bed, covered by the comforter. Once she hears the muffled scream of discovery, Ashlee giggles madly for at least the next half hour.

When she is riding with her mother in the family car or the big maroon Suburban (I call it the “'burban”), Ashlee loves to listen to Carrie Underwood, one of Diana's favorite singers.


One sunny summer morning, Ashlee told Diana, “Mom, I want to learn to ride my bike.”


“Okay,” said Diana. “When Dad gets home I'll have him put the training wheels on your bike and you can get started.”


“No,” said Ashlee. “I want to start now, without the training wheels.”


“Are you sure? Training wheels will keep you from crashing and getting hurt.”


“Yes, I'm sure.”


Diana followed Ashlee to the garage to get her bike, then down the driveway.


“Let's start on the sidewalk next to the lawn, so you have somewhere soft to land,” said Diana. “If you feel like you're going to crash, lean towards the lawn, okay?”


“Okay, Mom,” said Ashlee.


Diana held the bike steady, gripping under the seat as Ashlee climbed on. As Ashlee started pedaling, Diana began to jog behind her, maintaining her grip on the seat.


“Let go, Mom,” said Ashlee. “I can do it on my own.”


Diana let go and stopped, watching as Ashlee kept pedaling for another five or six feet.


The bike began to wobble and Ashlee, instinctively knowing she was going to crash, threw both hands in the air and called out, “Jesus! Take the wheel!”


The bicycle promptly fell over and Ashlee got her first scrape as the result of a bike accident.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Determination...

Maybe it's a part of my periodic depressions or possibly due to my lack of aggressive tendencies, but I have never felt particularly driven to accomplish things that I would like to accomplish. I tend more to let things happen as they may, trying to make the best out of any situation. I don't try to change to situation to my advantage.

Well, that attitude it changing.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I felt the urge to make things work out the way I want them to. I have goals I want to accomplish, things I want to do. It's an odd feeling for me.

Maybe it's the result of having made some good changes in my life. I've managed to adjust some attitudes, tendencies and habits that I have. It's a nice feeling. And for once I'm recognizing the good things that I am doing. It's so easy for me to focus on the negative; to focus on the bad habits I have that feel like a prison.

I'm actually working on a list of goals. I think I can actually accomplish them. I still have a healthy sense of reality; I'm not making goals that are impossible to accomplish. I actually want to type up these goals and put the list where I can see it. As I imagine these goals, I'm visualizing how I'm going to reach them.

Sorry, I'm not going to share the particulars with everybody. It's a list that makes me feel good, but I'm just not read to share it with anybody.

A guy has to have some secrets, you know.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Hmmmm...

This evening I watched a CNN video on Joran Van der Sloot's prison cell. It's been referred to as a "hellhole." He is in solitary confinement. He was arrested for the murder of a Peruvian girl, to which he confessed, according to the Peru police. He was also under investigation for the murder of a US girl in Aruba a year or so ago.

As the news crew made their way to Van der Sloot's cell, they passed through the prison kitchen. They remarked that each prisoner is fed on $1.50 a day. Now, I lived in Peru for two years as a missionary for my church. We paid someone to cook for us. If I remember right, we paid 230 soles a month each. The exchange rate at the time was 3 soles to 1 dollar. So, we paid about 76.66 a month per missionary, about $2.66 a day for food. On this money we paid, we ate very well, and a good pensionista (that's the title of the woman who cooked for us) would be able to feed her family as well as the missionaries. So a $1.50 a day per prisoner isn't bad. Of course, their food probably isn't as good as ours was, but our pensionistas didn't have to cook for as many people.

The cell was small. A person probably couldn't lay out straight if they were to do so across the width of the cell. However, my first thought as I saw the bed was, "I used a blanket just like that one." He also has running water in a sink in his cell. No shower, go figure. I didn't have running water in each house I lived in. Some did, most didn't. When the news person said that Van der Sloot's toilet was a hole in the floor, I thought, "Well, that's actually pretty common." Really, not everybody has a physical toilet.

Yeah, the facility's standards are, I imagine, well below the US Penal system's standards, but it is a third world country we're talking about here. And Van der Sloot was arrested for murder.

I think he can withstand some base conditions. I did, and I hadn't done anything wrong.


Monday, June 14, 2010

True Story...

A couple months after I returned from my two-year mission to Peru my grandpa Terry died. He was the father of my father's first wife. I hadn't been related by blood, but Grandpa had always treated me well, so I traveled with my family to Ely, Nevada for his funeral.

My sisters had been asked to sing during the services and they asked me to accompany them on the piano. The morning of the funeral, we arrived early at the church in order to run through the hymn they had chosen to sing: "Because I Have Been Given Much." Three of my sisters were going to be singing. Most of the hymn consists of simple two-part harmony with accompaniment, but there is a section of three-part harmony.

All of my siblings who sing don't necessarily have great voices, but when we sing together we blend really well, due to the similar genetics of our voice boxes.

As we ran through the hymn, I noticed that my sisters weren't singing the third part in the three-part section. On the following run-through I sang the third part in falsetto, just to see how it sounded. After the verse, one of my sisters, Diana, asked me not to sing the third part, as it confused her and threw her off the part she was singing. I agreed and they decided to go through the hymn just one more time, then go up to the chapel to wait for the start of the services.

When we reached the three-part section, true to my word, I didn't sing the third part. However, I thought that one of the other sisters had decided to give it a try, as I heard the third part very clearly vocalized and blending very well with my sisters' voices. Upon finishing the verse, Diana shot me a look and asked, "Was that you singing?"

"No," I said. "Wasn't that one of you?" Chills ran up my spine.

My sisters hadn't sung the third part, and it wasn't me. It certainly wasn't my mother, who was in the room but only sings melody and has a distinctive voice that wouldn't blend with my sisters' voices.

A little weirded out by the experience, we went upstairs to the chapel.

When the time came for our number I listened carefully, but didn't hear the third part again.

After the funeral, on the way to the cemetery, I asked my father if his first wife, Patsy, had been a singer.

"Yes," he said, "she sang alto in the choir at church."

As near as I can figure, Patsy was present for her father's funeral and had participated when her daughters were practicing the hymn.

It's the only explanation that makes any sort of sense to me. I know what I heard. And my sisters know what they heard.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Breaking the Rules...


Not me personally. I tend to like following the rules.

As part of my duties at the hotel, I am responsible for setting up the breakfast room and keeping it stocked until I leave at 8 AM. The process for getting the breakfast room set up properly are as follows: At 6 AM I drive to the grocery store to pick up the doughnut order and purchase bread and milk as necessary. I drop off some doughnuts at the our sister property and get back to the hotel at about 6:20. For a normal occupancy morning, it takes me about 15 minutes to get breakfast ready. On a busy day, it takes about 20 minutes. I'm very efficient. Normally, I'm ready to open the breakfast room between 6:45 and 6:50. Well before the 7:00 open time.

Now, this open time is very clearly posted in two places in the lobby. One of the signs is rather portable, and I place it in the middle of the entryway to the breakfast room, which connects to the lobby. This arrangement makes it possible for me to run the breakfast room and cover the front desk.

Every morning, at least one guest walks in just after 6:30 and asks if they can eat breakfast. Most days, I haven't even started the set up at that time. I tell them that we open at 7. These people invariably come back about 10 or 15 minutes later and start helping themselves to whatever I've managed to set up. Now, if I were more bold, I would ask these people to leave and come back at the proper time. I'm not that bold. However, if what they are looking for hasn't been set out yet, and they ask about it, I tell them that I haven't prepped that item yet and that it will be a few minutes. And that item automatically becomes the last thing that I take to the breakfast room from the kitchen.

Petty? Yes. Satisfying? Also yes.

It just bugs me that so many people think it's okay to ignore the rules, that their particular situation warrants an exception. If you're in such a hurry to check out, check out and go to a fast food joint. The ten minutes it will take me to finish setting up won't affect you that much. I can keep up with a busy breakfast morning, but only if I can get completely set up before it all starts disappearing. It's one person, me, against 100 rooms of people, if we're sold out. Those odds aren't in my favor if I can't get a head start.

Rant over. I'm staying up late to watch the beginning of the USA/England match of the World Cup. I like soccer.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Johnsons...

I had some memories triggered in an odd place yesterday. My mother and I went to IHOP for dinner. We both love breakfast for dinner, so we enjoy IHOP quite a bit. I ordered their strawberry lemonade, which is served with a couple mint leaves on the rim of the glass. After sniffing the leaves and even tasting them, I had to spend a few minutes thinking about when I was about 5 or 6 and would eat the leaves that our next door neighbors, the Johnsons, had growing near the maroon fence in their front yard.

Irene and Sterling were a big part of my growing up experience. I was always over at their house. Their son Jimmy was, I believe, a senior in high school when I was about 5. Yet he always made time to "hang out" with me. He would buy a whole bunch of fireworks and give me some for the 4th of July. He would play Atari video games with me. He was always super nice to me and glad to see me. Not many high school seniors would give that kind of time to a 5-year-old neighbor kid, but Jimmy did. Some of the images I can see are the long walk down the hallway to Jimmy's room at the end of the house and playing Asteroid and surprising Jimmy by accidentally figuring out how to teleport in the game.

Irene and Sterling also had a couple granddaughters that would visit from Page, AZ that were the same age as my little sister and me (Hi Jessica!). We would spend a huge part of each day playing in the Johnson's back yard. I remember getting in trouble for swinging from the branches of the weeping willow. I remember trying, for the first time, a peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich. Good memories.

One thing that always confused me until I was about 10 was Sterling and Irene's relationship. See, I genuinely believed that Irene was a man. She had a deep voice. I never said anything to them, luckily, because that would have been horribly embarrassing. I have many memories like that one that embarrass me, but would have been that much more embarrassing had I not been such an introspective kid. I was precocious, always wandering away from home, only to have a church member call my mom and say that I was found wandering 5 or 6 blocks away, alongside the highway, but if I didn't understand something, I would think about it or look it up in a dictionary. I rarely verbalized these embarrassing thoughts.

The Johnsons were extremely kind, and I was never scared of them like I was of Mr. Robinson (correction, it was Mr. Perkins, the Robinsons were across the street), who lived on the other side of the house. He was scary.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Don't Think I Can Explain It...

...but I guess I should try.

My dad's been in a care center for the last 5 or 6 months. Before that, he was in the Mental Ward of the VA hospital in Salt Lake City. I haven't visited with him since I went to Kanab August 2009.

While I was in Kanab, Dad was having serious issues. When the sun went down he would get extremely agitated and wouldn't sleep. Mom needed someone there to stay up with him and keep an eye on him. The week after I left, Dad kept trying to get out of the house at night so he could walk the block between our house and the highway to throw himself in front of a truck.

Supposedly, he's doing much better now, but I just can't bring myself to go visit. For a whole bunch of reasons.

Yes, this makes me selfish and slightly unreasonable. However, I don't think it would be good for me. I have enough issues with depression and anxiety that I don't want to add to it. And I have serious issues with care centers. Yes, Dad is at a nicer one, but it's still a care center. Also, even when Dad was not afflicted with mental problems, we never really had all that much to say to each other. Mostly because all he wanted to talk about was me going to church. Not my thing.

Do I have some daddy abandonment issues? Maybe. However, I just don't want to put myself through the ordeal of forcing myself to go into a care center. Especially to talk to someone focused on trying to convince me to go to church.

Am I selfish and possibly a little childish? Yes. But realizing that doesn't make me want to put things aside and go to the care center.

Told you I couldn't really explain it.



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Purchases!

I couldn't really afford to buy four books yesterday, but I did it anyway.

I went to Barnes and Noble in St. George with my little sister. I found four books that I'm really excited to read, when I get the chance. Two by Sherman Alexie: Black Widow Summer and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I also decided to give Cormac McCarthy's The Road a try. It was a search to find one that didn't have the movie cover, but I found it. I also picked up the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes.

Now I can't wait to find an opening in my reading schedule to fit these in.

AND....if I read a chapter a day, I will finish Don Quijote by the end of July. Very do-able.



Monday, May 31, 2010

A Slight Alteration...

...To my reading list for the summer.

In light of my rather slow progress in reading Don Quijote, I've decided to make a substitution for Les Miserables. In its place I will be reading 2666 by Roberto BolaƱo, in Spanish. I think this will still be a challenge, yet easier than Les Miserables. Don Quijote is apparently going to take all summer to read. No joke. It's just very slow going, written in the old Spanish. Very difficult to read. I'm actually enjoying it, but I can't take much more than a chapter at a time. Sometimes I take several days off.

However, I am bound and determined to get this classic work of literature read. I just need to.

We'll see how it goes.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

And Here It Is...

...My thoughts on music.

Music has been a part of my life since before I can remember. Literally. In the Journal my mother kept for me it says that I would sing songs my sisters taught me and people would give me quarters. I don't remember that personally, but I'm sure it's true.

I'm not nearly as keen on performing as I used to be. Music is much more personal now. I like singing in choirs. I don't mind singing solos. But I'm not a huge fan of being the center of attention, so I don't go out of my way to sing by myself in front of tons of people.

See, music is a fundamental part of myself. I discover who I am through music I listen to. I honestly don't know how many different songs I've listened to that have caused me to start sobbing as I finally unlock a part of myself that I just didn't understand or like.

I worship through music. The majority of my spiritual experiences have come through music. I wear my emotions on my sleeve anyway, and music just makes the emotions flow that much easier. A friend of mine once told me that he didn't believe me when I said I wasn't religious. He could feel my spirituality whenever I sang. And I sing a lot. I usually get self-conscious when I realize someone is paying attention and stop, but that's not the point.

A friend of mine thinks I'm insane because I would much rather lose my eyesight than my hearing. I honestly think I would go insane without music in my life. Without the cathartic release that music provides, I would explode. Possibly not so literally.

As far as my music tastes go, they are varied. I tell people I like a little bit of everybody from Abba to Zamfir. I listen to music in several languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese and German. I honestly think that anybody who looked through my music collection would find something that they like.

A lot of my listening habits depend on my mood. If I'm depressed, I'll listen to something upbeat, like Pink or the All-American Rejects or possibly one of the couple Fall Out Boy songs I have. If I'm pissed off, I'll listen to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff." If I'm driving, I have to have music going, whether it's a CD or my iPod or, at last resort, the radio. Every now and again, someone will ask me who my music guilty pleasure is. Well, I don't have one. I like who I like. If you don't approve, well, fuck off.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about music. I think I might have already. So I'll quit now. Basically, music is essential to me. I love it.

How's that?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Tonight's Not the Night, Either...

I'm still putting my thoughts together about music. I had a good line of thought going, but was thrown completely off kilter by a call I received at work.

I work the grave shift at a hotel. Tonight I received a call inquiring as to the room rate. I told the man what the rate was for two people and a dog. He asked if it was okay to rent the room to film an adult movie.

I asked how many people would be in the room. He said just two and the dog. One cameraman to film the caller having sex with the dog. I then told him that I wouldn't feel comfortable renting the room for the purpose of making an adult film as I do not know the manager's or the hotel chain's policies on the matter.

He got really defensive. He asked if we allowed dogs. I said yes. He asked if we allowed people to have sex. I said sure. He then asked why I wouldn't allow him to rent. I told him again that I wasn't sure on the policy and didn't feel comfortable.

He then asked if it was because of the bestiality. I told him that his personal practices weren't any business of mine. He pursued the point, trying to make it a case of discrimination. He asked if I was against bestiality. I told him it wasn't my cup of tea. He then asked if necrophilia was, and that he could bring a dead girl instead of the dog.

At this point, I said, "I'm sorry, I'm hanging up now."

I swear this actually happened tonight. I'm not sure if it was a prank call. If a call is a prank call, I can usually hear laughter in the background. There was some people noise in the background, but no laughter. And he seemed truly offended that I was against bestiality.

It was weird. So now my thoughts are rather jumbled. I promise a post on music is coming. Tomorrow most likely.

Weird.



Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Just Don't Feel Like It...

...Not anymore.

I've got a post planned for sometime in the near future. I was going to write it tonight, but I just don't feel like it.

What will it be about? An exploration of how I feel about music and what it means to me.

Why don't I feel like it tonight? A combination of things, really. The last twenty-four hours or so have been a roller coaster ride; lots of ups and downs. I accomplished a lot last night at work. Read a chapter of Don Quijote. Did some writing. Felt good about myself. Once the end of my shift drew near, things got worse. A whole bunch of things happened that I probably shouldn't let affect me, but they did.

This evening was going well. I received a new disc of Eli Stone episodes in the mail from Netflix. I already watched them, too. Great show. I really enjoy it and I am starting to really draw inspiration from it. I came in to work two hours early. I read two chapters of Don Quijote. I'm actually starting to enjoy reading this book. It's slow going, but I like it. That's a plus. I didn't think I'd enjoy reading it after the disastrous class I took on the book eight years ago.

But now? I'm just tired. And a little depressed. And I just don't feel like searching myself to find and describe how I feel about music.

Maybe tomorrow.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Step On Out Part 2

I just recaptured a little bit of my childhood.

I went to Groovacious Monday to see if Tim could order in a copy of Step On Out by the Oak Ridge Boys. His normal supplier didn't have it in stock, but Tim said he'd try a couple other places and let me know the result. I got a call from him this evening saying that the CD had just come in.

I bought the CD and listened to it as soon as I got home. No wonder I wore out the cassette tape I owned in the 80s.

I enjoyed each song. When I listen to a song, I use iTunes' rating system. Step On Out had two five-star songs, seven four-star songs, and one three-star song. That makes it one of the highest-rated albums I own. Now, nostalgia may be coloring my judgement, but it's my song library and I can rate it how I like.

I honestly can't wait to listen to the album all the way through again.

It made my day.


Friday, May 21, 2010

I Don't Have a Clever Title...

...but I feel the need to write. Titles are the most difficult part of anything I write. Oh well.

I need to call UHEAA. They own my student loans. And, apparently, I'm not in deferment, even though I'm in school full time. I'd like to find out why. If I have to make payments this summer, I'm not going to be able to save up for anything I'd like to acquire. Oh well.

I think I may need to find a different ward to attend. The people in the ward I went to last week were very friendly. That was nice. Made me feel welcome. But when it came time to sing hymns, I felt I was the only one singing. Being able to sing the bass line of hymns with a group of people was one of the principle reasons I decided to attend church again. If I can't have that because everyone else is mumbling the hymn, then what's the point? Oh well.

On a brighter note, I really, really like the show Eli Stone. I realize I'm just setting myself up for disappointment, as it only lasted 2 seasons. However, it is a very inspirational show that resonates emotionally with me.

As far as shows that are currently being broadcast go, I can't wait for the series finale of Lost. It airs this Sunday. Also, this week's episode of Glee was phenomenal. Neil Patrick Harris was fun to watch and listen to. He has a great voice. Some surprising reveals as far as character motivations go. The season finale of Bones was very emotional for the characters, and for me. I can't wait to see where they go when it comes back in the fall. And I can't wait for the DVDs of this season to come out so I can buy them.

I can't ride my bike to work just yet. Actually, that isn't true. I could ride it to work just fine. It would just take me a long time to get home. The return trip is all uphill. So i will build up some endurance first, and see where I'm at in a couple weeks. I enjoy riding though, and it's a great workout.

Things are, overall, going well for me. Too bad I think I can feel a panic attack coming on.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Walking in Memphis...

...has nothing to do with this post. I just heard that song on the radio at work and I really like it, so there you go.

After I leave work tomorrow, I think I will walk to Walmart and purchase a bicycle. I know, I know, Walmart is of the devil, but if there were another store in town that had a bike anywhere near as cheap, I would go there. That's just how it goes sometimes.

Also, I went to church today. First time in a long time. I've been contemplating the pros and cons of going for quite a while now. What pushed me over the edge? A comic book series called Transmetropolitan. Transmet was written by Warren Ellis. It stars a character named Spider Jerusalem, a journalist. From what I understand, he was loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson. I think there's a lot of Warren Ellis in him, too. It's an amazing comic book. It makes me want to write. In the book, Spider moves back to the City because he needs to write and he can't write unless he's miserable and hated and the City makes him feel this way. Church doesn't necessarily make me feel miserable and hated. At least, not all the time. I figure that it will give me something to write about when I am lacking in ideas. So that and wanting to arrange to play the piano every now and again made me decide to go to church.

I'm going to apply for a part-time job at Domino's, to go along with my job at the Quality Inn. I work graves at the hotel, and sleep in the mornings, so working evening for a couple hours at Domino's will work out nicely. Just for the summer. I want to buy a flat-screen TV, and this will let me accomplish that much sooner. I am putting money aside out of every paycheck, as I don't want to go into more debt for just a TV.

Maybe I'm growing up.



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Step On Out...

...is the name of an Oak Ridge Boys album I had when I was a kid. It was released in 1985, so I was at least 8 years old when I got it.

I listened to it so much I wore it out. It wouldn't play at all. I was crushed when I discovered this.

Listening to the Oak Ridge Boys made me want to sing. More specifically, listening to the Oak Ridge Boys made me want to sing like Richard Sterban. He's the bass. Now, I don't have the incredibly deep range he does, but I do okay. And I love to sing in choirs, quartets, duets, the car, the shower, and sometimes in class.

I'm no longer self-conscious about my voice. I don't mind who hears me sing. I used to hide "behind" the other voices in the choirs I sang with, but now I love to sing out and be noticed.

Back to "Step On Out." I can't find this album for download. I use legal sites, like iTunes, but they don't have it. I looked for mp3 downloads of the album, and I can't find it. Some sellers on amazon.com have it, but I really don't like to use the independent sellers. No real reason, I just don't.

If I remember, I'm going to check with Groovacious this week. I really want to have this album again.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lost in La Mancha...

Just watched this documentary about Terry Gilliam's attempt to film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote." Interesting documentary.

Honestly? I would love to see the film that Gilliam wanted to make. They showed several shots of Jean Rochefort in the Quixote costume and he fit the image I have in my mind. Almost exactly. It was incredible!

It seemed oddly appropriate to watch this film right now. I just finished On Writing by Stephen King, and the next book on my list that I want to read is Don Quixote.

I can't wait to get started!

Before I do, though, I've decided to watch Pan's Labyrinth again. I keep putting it off because when I watched it in the theater, it was very powerful and deeply affected me. I love it and I fear it.

Is that normal?


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Summer Reading List

It seems like a good idea.

I've read a couple lists recently where quite a few people are planning to read 16 books in the 16 weeks between now and when the fall semester starts. I like that concept, but the books I wanted to assign myself to read aren't books that I can read that quickly. If I finish early, I'll pick some more, but I want to start with a somewhat reachable goal.

Also, I will be reading a lot of books that are fun, quick reads. Books I've read over and over again. So those won't count towards my list, though I may mention them in future blogs.

Here's my reading list:

1. Don Quixote de La Mancha: (In Spanish) My very first semester at SUU, I took a class where we were supposed to read this book. By the middle of the semester everybody, including the professor, had purchased the sparknotes summary. Not an effective class, but I've been meaning to read this book since then.

2. En la Ardiente Oscuridad: (In the Burning Darkness). Spanish play about a University for blind students. I read this while at Dixie, and enjoyed it, but I want to read it again, now that I understand Spanish literature a little better.

3. Les Miserables: (Lez Mizzer-rabbleez) Actually going to attempt to read this in French. I only own the first half of the story, so that's what I'll read. I imagine it will take forever. I would much rather have some Hugo poetry books to read, but I'll take this in the meantime.

4. I have a book of French poetry that I haven't read yet. So it goes on the list. I can't remember the title.

5. On Writing, by Stephen King: I don't want to write like Stephen King, but my creative writing professor read some snippets from this book and King makes some points that I find very useful. So I'm going to read the entire book on my own.

So there's my reading list. Really looking forward to summer now. I have two very big novels to read in foreign languages, two smaller works in the same two languages, and a helpful book on writing.

Should be fun!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Just Some Thoughts...

...about some things I think about.

I generally don't like to broadcast my views when it comes to political "hot-topics." I generally feel that my opinions are my opinions and that I don't need to foist them off on other people. Even if asked, I'll usually hedge my way around answering, give non-answers, that sort of thing.

However, with the recent law enacted in Arizona, I feel like I need to get some thoughts off of my chest. Or head. Whatever.

When it comes to the Hispanic community, I'm in a rather unique position. After they get to know me, I usually get accepted as an honorary member of the Hispanic community. I speak Spanish fluently, which gives me an in, and my mindset is more affiliated with the Hispanic mindset than most gringos.

I'm against illegal immigration. Not so much because I don't want them in the country, but because I believe in obeying the law. When I go to another country, I make sure I jump through all the hoops to be there legally. And I believe in the Golden Rule, so I feel that people coming to my country should do the same.

This new law in Arizona feels like it's a way for the state to help Sheriff Arpaio avoid lawsuits for doing what he always does: go out and round up anybody who looks like an illegal immigrant. This usually translates to anybody who looks Mexican. Arizona keeps saying that they won't fall back on racial profiling, but that feels like this is exactly where they are heading.

It makes me very uncomfortable.

I wonder if those that had a hand in drafting this new law have ever spent any amount of time living in another country. I lived in Peru for two years, and it sucks to get singled out for looking different than the majority of those around you. I can relate to how the Hispanic community in Arizona is feeling now. This new law just feels wrong.

And those are my thoughts.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Little Anxious...

...about what's coming next.

You've heard that bad luck comes in threes? I have, and it worries me.

First bad "luck": My Dad has two mini-strokes, which spark the onset of hereditary mental disorders, landing him first in the VA Hospital's mental ward, then in a care center in the St. George area.

Second bad "luck": Mom is a passenger in a van that rolls six times while moving at freeway speeds. No one was killed, luckily, but Mom shatters her right shoulder and breaks her left tibia.

Third bad "luck": Your guess is as good as mine. It has me watching over my shoulder, though.

Back to Mom's accident and her subsequent stay in the hospital. She had gone to Phoenix, AZ to visit her siblings. Had a great time. On the way back, about 30 miles south of Flagstaff, AZ my Aunt Tina, who was driving, attempted to change lanes. Unfortunately, there was a car in her blind spot.

A highway patrolman witnessed the accident and counted the number of rolls: six. The vehicle stopped rolling passenger side down. This means my mother was on the bottom, with Aunt Tina dangling in the air above her, suspended by her seat belt. My cousin and her three kids, who were in the back of the minivan, had been jumbled and rocked and rolled.

I haven't heard any details on the other vehicle, just that they were injured. No deaths. In my family's car Aunt Tina broke a rib and my cousin's oldest was concussed. And Mom broke bones. She got the worst of it, that's for sure.

I'm just glad that everyone is relatively okay.