Monday, December 12, 2011

Bucket List


I have a short bucket list. This is it -

DC --> England

Check.
TBD.

I recognize my good fortune in hitting 1 out of 2 items on this list, but folks, progress is our watchword. Onward and upward.

I would like to live in England and experience life there. The ups, the downs, the in-betweens. I have no idea how to make this happen. Bright ideas* welcomed.

That's it, for now.

*That do not include marriage. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

:::Utah, Part 3 -- Creative Friday!:::

{Photo credit either Michelle or Jill}

While I was in Utah I was lucky enough to be invited to Creative Friday with blogging friends Jill and Michelle. You have no idea how excited and nervous I was by this invitation. I have read Jill and Michelle's blogs for about four years now, and my life has duly been blessed. I admire both of these women so much. Through their writings I have found strength, courage, determination, perspective, but most importantly peace, comfort, hope, and joy in many hard and uncertain times. They have brightened my life.

The Creative Friday I was invited to actually took place on a Monday because Jill had a half day at her job. Though I was beyond excited to participate, I also felt a little bad for muscling in on their traditional get-together. But not bad enough to turn down their invitation. Ha!

Jill had emailed me a few days before hand to take my drink order for Sonic, ask my crafting preferences, and to get directions to Heidi's house. The day of, she kindly picked me up since I was without a car. It was great to finally meet Jill in person. She was just as I imagined -- Jill through and through. Strong, funny, sure, insightful. A woman who knows how to be a true friend and ally. I have always liked the Jill I knew through her blog, but in person she is even better.

On the ride over to Michelle's she asked me a lot of questions about my life, and it made me realize how guarded I am in my writing, and in life in general. I guess there are a lot of things people don't know about me, but at the same time, I don't really know what else to share. I have such a hard time talking about myself as an actual person, and when I do open up the information comes out all awkward in spastic fits and starts. I feel like such a weirdo when I have to talk about myself. Oh well. Anyhow, I loved talking with Jill.

Michelle came out of her house to greet us when we arrived. You know that part in the BBC Pride and Prejudice (1995) where Aunt Gardiner describes Jane as, 'such a calm, steady girl'? That is Michelle. I am always in awe of these types of women. Michelle is lovely, kind, and full of grace. She is a soothing, non-judgement presence.

I have to break here and tell you again how excited I was to be there with Jill and Michelle. I know I already wrote this at the beginning of this post, but truly, this was just too cool of an experience. Creative Friday! Jill and Michelle! Sadly, since I was such a stress-ball of nerves and uncertainty due to my general life upheaval, I wasn't really at my best. My mind was half in the clouds the whole time I was in Utah, and looking back now, it's hard to believe I was actually there. While I was at Michelle's house for Creative Friday I knew that as soon as our visit was over it would be like it never happened. Alas, this has turned out to be true. If I didn't have photographic evidence, I wouldn't believe that any of this ever happened.

Anyhow, back to Creative Friday. Michelle had supplies ready for me to make these paper flowers out of old book pages. Once you get into the groove they are so fast and easy to make. Once my life gets a little more settled I'll definitely be making some more.

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The Creative Friday table! I was there! Really, I promise!


Michelle and Jill asked me a lot of questions about my life, I tried to sound like a normal person, and they gave me advice and insight that buoyed up my spirits. It was much needed. 

{Photo by Jill}

Look! It's the rarely seen authoress of this blog! I call this photo, 'Don't Fold Your Arms Under Your Chest It Makes Your Boobs Look Like They're Trying to Swallow Your Face.' In another circumstance I might call it, 'Trying To Impress Gentlemen Callers.'

I barely took any photos due to my camera shame. Michelle and Jill have nice DSLRs, while I'm still sporting my point-and-shoot. They are also great photographers. Click on their hyper-linked names underneath our self-portrait to visit their photo galleries.

Anyhow, I did take a few snaps. This is a classic picture of Jill writing some Good Mail. Jill has a determination that I so admire. She has been writing Good Mail to people for years. Through all phases of life, different trials, domestic and international vacations, sicknesses, new jobs, time-consuming callings, she keeps writing and sending thoughtful Good Mail. I am so, so not that person (as evidenced by my spotty blogging of late). One disruption in my life, and I shut it down. Done.


This picture of Michelle just makes me so happy. She is wonderful. You would be blessed to have her in your life. She carries an increased portion of the Spirit with her. I felt instantly welcomed into her home without pretense.



Oh, Michelle just casually made muffins while we were there. I love that about her. She has a baking instinct that cannot be suppressed.


I got to meet the famous Jack! Oh, you big, hairy monster!

Not pictured...I was also able to meet the whole Chez Moi crew, including...

The one and only, the fabulous, the dynamic, Miss Eva. She was surprisingly shy, but I could tell that she's a little firecracker on the inside, and could be endlessly entertaining when she gets started.

Michelle's husband Marc made a brief but comical appearance. I think he could be one of the most interesting people in the world to talk to. He has a mind full of ideas and unending interests that he actively pursues. He has an idea, then he tries to execute it. It doesn't turn out the way he wanted it to? Oh well. He tries the next thing. What is that gene?

Also, ALSO, I got to meet Tall Max, who is possibly the world's most pleasant teenage boy, who actually engages in conversation with his mother in a real, honest way, and who does his homework without pestering or threat. Yep, this one is a keeper.

Sweet Lucas. Shy, shy, heart of gold. I can tell that he has Michelle's spirit, and I imagine that they are kindred spirits in many ways. Michelle really has the best boys, and she has unique but equally meaningful relationships with both.

Instead of asking everyone questions about their lives based on what I know about them from reading Michelle's blog, I decided to play it non-stalkerish and not scare anyone. Ha!

I only wish Jill's kids could have been there. I would have loved to ask Landon for life advice (the kid has a lot going for him), and connected with the artsy, free-wheeling, casual and easy-going Whitney. I think Whitney and I would be an awesome pair. I would validate every wild and fanciful idea she had. She would tell me to eat more cake and buy hot pink shoes. BFFs.

I had a great time crafting and talking with Michelle and Jill. I hope I was mildly entertaining, though I felt a bit like a wet mop personality wise. I was frustrated with myself for that. Nonetheless, I had a great time.

Eventually Michelle was like, 'Oh, I have to make dinner.' Then, like two seconds later, she had peeled and cut up a squash and was putting it into the oven to roast for squash quesadillas. Michelle is a natural homemaker and creator.


And then...


...it was over.

And Jill drove me back to Heidi's house.


And I was sad that it was over, and wished that I could stay forever and feel safe. Oh, I could feel the imminent change coming, and I felt dwarfed by it. I wanted to linger in these Utah moments and hide myself for a while.


Do you know that these women are wonderful? That is what I'm trying to tell you. I owe them so much.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

:::Lame:::

Truth: I'm writing this from my iPod.

Truth: My laptop cord hath given up the ghost.

Truth: This unfortunate turn of events is going to further delay my return to blogging.

Truth: I'm still in Texas. Life continues.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

:::The Daunting Task of Catching Up:::

I can't believe it's been a whole month...I still need to finish posting about my trip to Utah. Up next, a post about my fun Creative Friday with Jill and Michelle. It's taking me a long time because I want to do the story justice!

I've also been slacking off with commenting on blogs lately, which makes me feel very guilty.

Nothing has been going on here. I still go to work every day, etc. I'm so tired when I get home that I don't really do anything, which is the main reason behind the lack of posting. Hopefully that will change soon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

:::Lightning Storm:::

video

Tonight we enjoyed a severe thunderstorm that brought torrential rain, and then this lovely lightning storm. I've never seen anything like it before. No rain, no thunder, just lightning. Beautiful.

:::Spill You Beans and Find Relief:::

Well, today is a new day and I feel so much better after writing that post. Amazing, isn't it?

Something is going to work out.

Dude, I have to go to work tomorrow. I guess that's my life again, eh?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

:::How Will This Work?:::

My blogging friend Lelly does this thing where she writes for a set amount of time and just let's everything flow out onto the screen.

Here's my attempt...


Today I am...scared.

I don't make enough money at the job I started this week to support myself.

Since it's a full-time job, it's going to be hard to get away to interview for better jobs.

Are there better jobs?

I am doubting my plan to move here. What was I thinking? Why did I think this would work? I had an apartment in DC, and I could have probably landed a higher-paying job. Why did I leave?

Rent here is almost the same as what I was paying in DC (I lived in the hood, remember?), except in DC it included all of my utilities, and I wasn't paying for car insurance.

So, my cost of living is actually going up, not down.

But my salary has gone decreased drastically.

I did these calculations before I left, but I still felt like I should go ahead with the plan.

But how is this going to work?

I need a part-time job at night to make extra money, but that can't happen right now for logistical reasons.  

Breathe.

And can I handle a part-time job at night?

What was I thinking when I moved here?!

How do you balance faith with the realities of life? Rent, insurance, bills (so many bills), etc...I believe in faith, but I also believe in...reality? That's not the right word, but you know what I'm trying to say.

I tried this year to make better decisions for myself, but I'm starting to feel like I've made another stupid, stupid Rebekah-style life decision. I've made so, so many stupid mistakes in the past that I'm still paying for (literally+figuratively). Have I made another series of mistakes that will hold me back for years to come?

I'm always landing myself in the remedial class. People my age are buying houses and supporting families, and not all of them are engineers, mba's, or lawyers. What the heck is wrong with me? I can't even afford to pay rent! Why am I so stupid with life?

End.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

:::Lucky to Find Work So Quickly:::

I'm just going to go ahead and document this now instead of worrying about writing a big, grand post about it later. I'm channeling the words of motivation from blogging friend Jill, whom I actually met in the real lifes when I was in Utah (post forthcoming). I just need to blog sometimes.

Today I started a temp-to-perm type job with a technology-ish company in Plano. I interviewed on Friday, and the offer came through on Monday. As part of the selection process I had to take all of these assessment tests over the weekend. They questioned my numerical skills, as well as my knowledge of OPEC and John Milton. What that was about, I don't know. I do know that I got most of the questions right, however, because general, useless knowledge is what I specialize in.

The commute isn't too bad. Right now I'm carpooling with Big Don in the morning, and driving home by myself. My sister picks him up at the train station later at night. The pay is ok, $5 less an hour than what I was making in DC, so that's a bit of a problem. I'm just doing admin stuff in the sales department, which is a completely different vibe than the law office scene. It's good and different, but a little disorientating.

The people are really nice, and I know I can do the job. It's not going to be mentally stimulating or feed any creative energies, but it's work, and it's work that I know I can do, so that's something to be happy about.

Technically, I'm on a 60 (or is it 90?) day probation until they decide if they want to hire me full-time.

If someone asked me what my plans were for Texas, I would shrug my shoulders and say, 'Don't know.' I know that in a weird way, that's The Plan for right now -- 'Don't know.' We'll see what comes of it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Utah: Part Three (Boo Included)

On Saturday, I spent the day with my old boo Michelle. Michelle and I met in the year 2002 while we were doing Washington Seminar in DC.

Things to know about Michelle:

1. Michelle and her family lived in England for part of her formative years.
2. Due to some Irishness in her family line, Michelle has an Irish passport, which means that she has a legal right to work in the UK.
3. For both of these reasons, I hate her.
4. Michelle has a finely trained legal mind. Ha! This is a bit of a joke betwixt us. But she really did go to law school and does have a finely trained mind.
5. Her home, Crane Manor, was like my 2nd home during my last years at BYU.

When Michelle and I are together, we are very stupid.

The day started with breakfast at Gurus, where I enjoyed spotting some gen-u-ine Provo hipsters.

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I also sampled the best sweet potato fries that I have ever had in my life.

From there, I made Michelle drive me around my favorite neighborhoods in Provo so I could take pictures of houses. I love these neighborhoods.

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From there, a stop at Crane Manor.

Michelle has a grown woman's room now.


There's Bill Dog! His name is actually Cody, but as with Heidi's sons, I could never remember his real name, so I just gave him a new one. That's who I am.


We caught an afternoon matinee of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The problem with prequels is that you're basically wading through the entire film to get to the 'Aha!' ending that sets up the original. It was just ok. It was a long movie about apes. That's what I have to say about it.

When we came out of the theater it was raining. Thank you, Mother Nature. I got to see my mountains covered in mist even though it was the dead of summer.



More neighborhood tours and visually documenting happy places. Michelle drove where I told her to. I loved it. Seriously, driving around looking at old houses was one of the only things I really, really wanted to do in Utah.

We ended up in American Fork looking at these townhomes that M-chelle used to want to move into after finishing law school.

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We always referred to them as the Mudslide Townhouses because there was a, well, mudslide one year that hit the development.

I dearly wish these pictures would have turned out better. The view overlooking the valley was stunning after the rain storm.

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{There's the Timpanogas Temple}

Pulling out of the development we kind of decided to go to Salt Lake. Why not? Michelle and I are professional level driving-meanderers. This is what we do.

As soon as we got to Salt Lake, I started to feel at home. I was completely shocked by this, as I've always been a mad proponent of Utah County. But, alas, something has shifted. If I moved back to Utah, I think I'd have to live in Salt Lake. Something about it just felt so right. Here are some blurry pictures of more homes taken from a moving car...

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{This building could be straight out of Virginia.}







After driving around, after making some of the funniest jokes of my amateur career, after the sun had set and we had driven the width of Salt Lake at least two times, we decided to go to Happy Sumo for dinner. About once a year I crave sushi, and that night was one of those times.

After dinner we got frozen yogurt, then did some more driving around and acting like idiots.

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I had the best time ever.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Utah: Part Two

On my first full day in Utah, Heidi had big plans for us -- a bike ride, lunch, and two hours of volunteering at Pioneer Book.

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The mountains!


After some fits and starts to begin with, I was finally on my way bike-wise. It was hard, and we had to take various breaks for my sake...


but we finally made it to the Thai restaurant that we planned to have lunch at.




If you volunteer two hours of times at Pioneer Book (a used book store), you get a $20 credit towards a purchase there.


They had us organizing books in the Western section. Yeehaw!


The ride home was easier on the legs, but harder on the seat. Ow.


It was blazing hot.


I love a bike with a basket on it.


Rude.


So hot.


But I kept going because I'm awe-some.


This may be my favorite photo of the whole trip. I love all of the mini-orchards throughout Utah neighborhoods.


We road past Heidi's favorite house. 


I love this photo for some reason. I think it captures the spirit of bike riding.


Mini orchard and these lot-size gardens everywhere. I love that about Utah.

I couldn't have made this ride without Heidi. She is one of those friends that you would were a bathing suit in front of without feeling judged, which is why I felt comfortable hoisting my big behind up on a bike in front of her.