Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer of Bravery: Mabel Makes Me Face the Birds

Let me first say that I wasn't planning on doing another bravery post. I thought the caving fully satisfied my need to test my safety boundaries, at least for the summer. Mabel had a different idea.

This week I'm visiting Mabel in Washington before she goes on an LDS mission to Brazil. So today we toured Seattle and she took me to Ivar's which is a restaurant on the wharf that sells fish and chips. Ordering itself is quite the experience because they don't have lines. Instead, you yell out your order and wait until your order is yelled back at which point you pay for it and pick it up. You can then choose to sit in a glass shelter or out on a pier. Obviously, a nice day in Seattle calls for pier seating, but it also means that seagulls will be joining you for lunch. Birds do not rate high with me and seagulls are among the lowest in that category, but Ivar's is famous for feeding seagulls. There's constant movement along the pier with seagulls swooping in for food. If it was not enough to be keeping an eye on the closest seagull (and boy, do they get close), there is a feeding rite of passage. Guess who had feed the seagulls?

Only after I stuck out my hand to let a seagull snatch a fry did Mabel tell me about the gash she got from doing this. Thanks Mabel!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hipster Puppy

You know how some girls get baby fever? Kinda like Tina Fey seeing babies everywhere in "Baby Mama"? Well, I get puppy fever and I've had it bad this last week. I'm going to blame Annie for this because she got an internship/ grew up and got a cat which made me realize that once I grow up and get a job, I can a get a dog.

So now I've been browsing the web, looking at different breeds. Honestly, I don't mind mutts. My favorite dog, Odie, was a mix between a chow chow and black lab and he was the best dog ever! But I happened upon another interesting mix: puggles. I'm not exactly fond of pugs or beagles, but puggles seem too freakin' adorable. Plus, they're a small dog that doesn't yap. That's a dream dog to me.

The down side is that they're apparently very popular among movie stars, at least according to, but the breed is still fairly new and therefore, unknown. I'm pretty sure some hipster could say "it's a breed you've never heard of."  And I just don't want a "trendy" dog. I want a good dog. What do you think? Should I get a hipster puppy?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer of Bravery: Take that Childhood Fears

This last Saturday, I went caving. Probably my most recognizable act of bravery for the summer--although I'm pretty sure certain family members believe it lands more on the side of stupidity. Basically, I climbed up the side of a mountain, used climbing equipment to descend to the cave, scrambled around the cave (some spots I had to army crawl), and then ascended out of the cave and hiked/strategically slid down the mountain...during the night.

Considering I was the biggest chicken as a kid, I'm pretty proud of myself. I mean, I used to panic if my dress got stuck over my head, and I just crawled through a two foot door to get into the cave. I freaked when my brother used to do his golem impersonation, and I laughed while I listened to another golem impersonation in complete darkness. Of course, if anything had touched me, it'd be over like that, but still I'm feeling pretty hardcore right about now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Always a Valley Girl: Rodeos and Cowgirl Tough

My friends and colleagues are tromping around Central America and Europe while I'm stuck in Provo attempting to be productive. Not exactly thrilling. But I'm finding things here and there to keep my summer interesting and going to the rodeo is one of them.

Now I'm no cowgirl, but if you're a Valley girl in Utah, you go to a rodeo. And I'm not making this rule up. At the rodeo last night, I was not only there with two other Valley girls, but we recognized another girl from the good ol' SLV sitting behind us. That being said, my reason for choosing Pleasant Grove's Strawberry Days rodeo had more to do with my stomach than my heritage: cups of strawberries and cream. Heather and I got there early to save seats and to enjoy the strawberries and cream so no one would know just how many cups we had.

Still, I enjoyed more than the food. Heather and I have been friends since we were nine years-old so there was plenty of reminiscing about our childhood in the valley and commenting on other rodeos we've seen or participated in. For those who aren't familiar with rodeos, there's the funny/cruel tradition of sticking money to a calf and having kids chase it. Heather and I both have done it, but it was, of course, much more difficult when we were kids. For example, there were two or three calves when we did it so kids were running helter-skelter. At this rodeo, the poor calf was stuck in a corner while kids swarmed it.

There's also mutton busting; it's another event for kids where they see how long they can stay on a sheep.  I've never done it myself, but Heather had.  Before they started she predicted that a girl would win because they know how to hold on and sure enough she was right. The top two mutton busters were girls. It made us wonder if women could ride bulls too. We'd never seen it, but we figured that with a lower center of gravity, women might even have the advantage over men. I'm not sure if that's true, but there are female bull riders. These girls have to be tough and I can't help but admire that. Male or female, bull and bronco riders amaze me. They get jerked around and if something goes wrong, the consequences come fast and painfully, if not lethally. I'm trying to be braver this summer, but I see them and realize I've got a long way to go before I'm that brave. 

Slightly less dangerous (only slightly) but seriously entertaining is wild-cow milking. A team of three has to catch and milk a cow. It was hilarious to watch, until this mean cow decided this hefty man was in its way and flat out bowled him over. I didn't get a picture of that, but I did manage to capture the more humorous attempts at cow milking.

And just for fun, pictures of horses because even if it's cliche, they really are beautiful animals.

Even if I don't agree with all the views of a country lifestyle (get me started on country music and you'll find out why, but that's a discussion for another post), I do admire how tough a cowboy or cowgirl has to be. If I've really carried anything over from being raised in the valley I hope it's the resiliency I see in rodeos--of not being afraid to fall because you can always get up and dust yourself off.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Going Green Update

Despite popular belief, I don't have a black thumb. I don't know that I'd say I have a green thumb, maybe a flesh colored thumb is the best description, but the point is that it's not black. I offer these pics as evidence:

Geraldine is growing nicely. I was tempted to get another plant, but then I inherited a fish. It's a long, tragic story, but let's just say my roommate found she no longer had time to take care of him so now I have a betta named Lou. He's rather cranky (and camera shy so don't expect a picture), but I think he's warming up to me. So now I'm taking care of three living things and none of them have died yet. I just might be one of those nice ladies with a garden when I get old...or a crazy cat lady, but I think my distaste for cats will save me from that.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

For the Love of Books

My future looked bleak; I was questioning my love for reading. Since summer break started, if anyone asked what I was doing today, my answer would be reading. I've officially started working on my thesis and taking a theoretical discourse class on the post-colonial and subaltern studies which meant lots of reading, lots of required reading.  Most days it was fascinating, but after doing the reading I was supposed to, I had to go do something else. I quit reading for fun, feeling like if I was going to read than I should be reading something for my thesis. I'm still excited for my thesis, but today, I got a needed reminder of my love for reading.

Today I went to the Utah Festival of Books. In truth, there were more activities going on than there were books (I pretended to be a newscaster and had my name written in cool calligraphy), but the activities focused on learning and getting people to read. I deal with books so often that I forget some people don't read them. Dare I say it? I've been too immersed in academia lately. It was great to see discussions on cooking, writing, and gardening or see kids work on reading activities. I remember being so excited for book fairs as a kid. If I got good reports from teachers during parent-teacher conference, and I always got good reports, then I got to choose a book. I'm not sure if that was sneaky parenting or me being a book worm from a very young age, but I loved it. Perhaps nostalgia enticed to me buy books (as if I needed an excuse), but I got three books today that have nothing to do with my thesis:

The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot- I foolishly sold back my Norton Anthology, plus there is something unschool-like in owning a thin book.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri- This might be a bit of a risk, but I read "Interpreter of Maladies" in high school and really enjoyed it.

The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson- I'm most excited about this book because I like going for walks and was thinking there had to be a book that analyzes walking. This is that book. Besides, it's been too long since I've read about something just because I was curious.

I'll let you know if I come to any profound conclusions from reading these books, but it's refreshing to add some books to my library that have nothing to do with my schoolwork. Don't worry. I'll still keep trucking through my thesis, but at least I have some reading to remind me why I'm working on a thesis in the first place.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer of Bravery: Jello Cake Adventure

The moment I heard jello cake, I knew I'd probably regret it. My roommate MK, kindly invited me and my roommate B to go to her brother's apartment to have some pudding cake. I envisioned a really moist cake or maybe a cake with pudding as filling, but upon entering the apartment, we heard that it was jello cake. My imagination had no way of making that seem good.

Out of the fridge came a mountain of jello cups covered with food-colored whip cream and twizzlers. It's fully possible that I made wary face. Then I found out that brownies and gumdrops were beneath the jello and that the "cake" had been sitting in the fridge for two days. I'm pretty sure the jello cake was oozing something. Why did I eat some? I honestly can't tell you why. All of us were talking about how disgusting it was while we were eating. Plus, I'm a texture person with a deep-seated disgust for soggy foods. While I tried to avoid the jello soaked brownie, it managed to cling to some of the jello and I gagged each time I discovered it. The best thing to come from that cake was seeing it flung off a balcony. I haven't laughed that hard in weeks. And for anyone who has seen me laugh, yes, that means I cried a little.

As we were questioning why on earth we ate even a fraction of the jello cake, one guy claimed bravery, not stupidity, was the driving force of our decision. I disagree. It was stupid and my stomach keeps reminding me it was stupid; however, it did offer a valuable insight for my summer of bravery. For as sick as I feel, I'm surprisingly not regretting eating that horrific cake. I had fun. I'm certainly not the first person to discover group stupidity is fun, but I discovered that my new roommates are good sports and that B is a superb jello-cake-flinger. She put the boys to shame (one guy hit a spot on the ceiling right above him). So while I don't recommend jello cake to anyone, I can say that who you share an adventure is half the fun.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Summer of Bravery: Going Green

For some absurd reason, I keep thinking "this summer will be the summer before I grow up" (as if that's ever going to happen) and this summer is no different in that sense, and yet it is. Sitting on a plane back from my first real scholarly conference, I made the decision that I'm going to start living the life that I always imagined would start when I was done with school. But since there's the possibility that I'll be in school for sometime, why not start now by making it a theme for the summer? I liked the title "summer of bravery," but my friend Dave said it was more like the summer of responsibility. I rejected his title and decided to keep bravery. Make first decision of the summer. Check. While I have quite a few new things I'm implementing into my life this summer which will surely mean more blog posts, I'll ease myself  (and you dear reader) into this summer with my experiment with growing plants.

I don't know why I never bought a plant for my apartment before, but this last school year we had a bamboo sprout named Mussolini (I don't know why we named him after a fascist) and I really enjoyed looking after him and to have some green in the house during the winter. So if a little green is good, more is better, right? Well, that's my logic for this summer break.  I'm going to try to take care of some plants this summer and hopefully keep them going through the winter.

The first plant I bought was another bamboo because Mussolini went with another roommate. Trying to find a bamboo plant I liked was actually much harder than I expected. I almost gave up and bought an orchid, but after talking to the garden specialist at Lowe's, I decided that an orchid would be more work than it was worth. Luckily, I found this lucky bamboo plant. Of course I had to name her, it, whatever, and that was much easier than finding the plant. I guess I like to name bamboos after less than savory characters because I named her Eris, the Greek goddess of strife. However, she earned the name, having spilled a good amount of water on me while I getting her into and out of my car. Also, I'm the kind of person who talks to plants if you haven't guessed.

The other plant is actually three: a geranium and two ivy-type plants. If plants have personalities, this one is a sweetheart. I've had to bring the poor thing in twice already because of snow and the cold. The jury's still out on a name. My roommate suggested Betsy, but I just had a semester of 1950s housewife characters named Betsy or Betty. Still, an old-fashioned name seems fitting. I'm considering Geraldine because I keep calling it Gerry anyway.

These two are serving as my pets because I just don't have the room or money for a dog and so far, I quite like them.

Sidenote: I know I'm not growing these, but the lilacs are starting to bloom and that makes me all sorts of happy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Because he forgot to mention my blog

For Easter, I got to go home and see the fam and I brought my camera for a very specific purpose--to take a picture with my brother. For some reason, the only photo I had with him was from my senior year in high school and let's just say that makes it a less than current photo. So here he is my "little" brother:

After taking the picture, he gave me a list of places a where I'm not allowed to post it, but he forgot my blog. mwahahaha. So this blog is dedicated to you bro. You may tower over me now, but I can still beat you, even if it's just in the digital world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On Becoming a Regular

Mabel and I had another adventure Friday. We bought colors at the Lotus Krishna Temple and decided to try to find another hole-in-the-wall diner. A drive down State street and our stomach's preference led us to One-Man-Band Diner which, as the title implies, was ran by one man. We had a blast ordering from a phone in our booth and the general 1950's diner vibe, but the best part was that we knew we were at a local favorite. When we walked in, every customer looked over as if they were expecting to see someone they knew and as they picked up their orders, they greeted the cashier/waiter/cook by name. Maybe if I wasn't with Mabel, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but the great thing about Mabel is that she notices the same sort of things I do and so we talked about our dream to become a regular.

Even if I'm going on six years as a college student, my time here seems transitory (in Provo, but not of Provo). Lately, I've been reminded that the time is approaching when I must leave this town (and state, I hope) to make my way in the world. Where will I live? West coast? East coast? A foreign land? What will I be doing? I'm still trying to figure all this out, but when I go to a restaurant and see people recognizing each other and enjoying their favorite spot, I'm excited for the possibilities. I didn't like BYU until I found a community first at the writing center and then in the grad program, and it will probably take me awhile to like wherever I move next, but becoming a regular signifies finding a community, even if the only thing tying that community together is food. While the openness of my future is overwhelming at times, I'm comforted to know that I can look forward to interesting people, food, and experiences. So while Mabel talked about being a new age mom, taking her kids to their favorite diner, I imagined being a new instructor, trying all the restaurants until I find the one where I'll be able to say, "The usual, please."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Still for Walking the Line

My apartment is known as the Bruno Mars apartment. Last semester, my roommates and I blasted his song "Just the Way You Are" so often that notes were left on our door telling us "You're amazing just the way you are." I took it as a polite way of telling us to shut up, but whatever the notes meant, it was clear that the song was an apartment favorite. One of my roommates even told several guys that the way to get a girl to marry you was to sing that song to her. I shared the song with a guy and he had different ideas about what that song was trying to get a girl to do. Basically, he disapproved.

While I can't vouch for Bruno Mars' intentions, I find the song a little more pleasing than my friend. More girls should hear that someone thinks they're amazing the way they are so you won't see me throwing a drink in the face of any guy that chooses to sing (or tell) that to me. However, there are some issues with the song that keep me from loving it:

1. Most of the things that make "the girl" amazing are physical attributes: her lips, her eyes, her hair that falls perfectly without her trying. Clearly, Bruno has never witnessed girls getting ready; even the effortless look takes effort. While the descriptions of "the girl" are vague enough to include a variety of girls, they are also vague enough to exclude the same girls. The focus on physical appearance, even if it intends to make girls feel beautiful, seems to say that a guy will only think you are amazing if he finds you physically attractive which doesn't help if you think you aren't attractive.  To be fair to Bruno, most love songs focus on the physical and it's probably difficult to write a song about a girl's intellect, sense of humor, or determination so I'll give him credit for including her laugh.

Honestly, I could overlook the focus on the physical if it wasn't inextricably tied to my next issue:

2. "If perfect's what you're looking for, then just stay same." The song is built on the premise that he doesn't want her to change. Before you get blubbery about him liking her so much he doesn't want her to change for him, remember she will change. Everyone changes. The eyes, the lips, the hair will all change with time. And if she decides to get plastic surgery, she'll still be different. The song and the sentiment attached to it are temporary things because as the title indicates, it's the way she is not who she will be. There is no guarantee that he won't trade her in for the proverbial newer model.

"Just the Way You Are" is the musical equivalent to what Claire in Elizabethtown  calls an ice cream cone: something sweet to make you happy, but melts in minutes. If you want an ice cream cone, then it's perfect. The problem comes when you expect that ice cream cone to last for a lifetime. Basically, all this has led me back to Johnny Cash singing "I Walk the Line." Still my favorite love song because it's about changing with someone which in its way is more permanent.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Birds and Empty Metaphors

An idea has been fluttering around in my head all week: bird metaphors. More specifically, I've been thinking about why we use birds to symbolize emotional freedom. This all came about after I found a song by Laura Marling, Dharohar Project, and Mumford & Sons called "Meheni Rachi." It combines Folk music with traditional Rajasthani music, which I thought was amazing, but what really stuck with me were the first English lines:
Perhaps I'll be a bird one day, if I'm good enough
And I'll get up and fly away and give up all this stuff.
I listened to it over and over. The music and words made me feel light and well, free. I could almost imagine myself as a bird, gliding, the sun warming my outstretched wings. Free as a bird . . . until I remembered I don't like birds.

For so long I accepted the bird metaphor. My ipod has at least three songs using a bird metaphor for the chorus and I can easily name a few more songs to add to the list, but why? I've never really liked birds and I admit that I'm biased--an ostrich pecking my heels and a summer of them swooping down at my head--but besides the whole flying thing, what about the bird is that appealing? I mean, do you really want to be like a bird? Molting, eating worms and other bugs, jerking your neck when you walk? Let's just say if I were an animagus, I wouldn't be the feathery kind. As far as I'm concerned, birds only represent disease and jerky movements. And that means I'm in search of a new metaphor.

 To support my point:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Please Mr. Postman

"Agent M, did you find the post man, is the package secure?"

This is just a sample of the text conversation Mabel (aka Agent C) and I have been having as we try to track down our mail. Thursday we received a notice that our mailbox was full and that we needed to pick up our mail at a secret location (the post office). Slightly embarrassed that we had ignored our mailbox that long, I made my way to the secret location to pick up "the package," but I was told that the carrier still had it. So I was faced with a new mission: look out for the carrier. A few hours into that mission, I decided that I have a life and quit waiting.

So today, after a full weekend of checking the mailbox and occasionally looking out the window to see if I could spot the carrier, I went back to the secret location to see if "the package" had been dropped off. Nope. I was given a number to call tomorrow before a certain time which doesn't help the whole secret-agent-on-a-mission thing that Mabel and I have concocted, but if that fails I have an equally fantastic scenario: my mail has been stolen because it was too awesome!

It's the only logical explanation. Why else would he or she hold onto something so boring as the ads that normally filled our mailbox?

Fortunately there are a slew of pop songs that describe my situation. Okay, so only two that I know of and even then, I had to do some tweaking, but be sure that I've utilized both for this post. As the Presidents of the United States of America sing "Some postman is grooving to all our love letters," or in my case, awesome letters/packages, but agents m and c will catch the mastermind behind this, or at least get our mail back.

Update: I had a chat with the postman. Turns out he's not an evil mastermind, but actually a pretty nice guy and we finally have all our mail. Mission accomplished.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dinner at Kranky Franks

My favorite adventures are the ones that find me on otherwise perfectly mundane days. Revise that. My favorite adventures are ones that find me when I'm with my friend who wishes to be called Mabel.

Mabel and I had to drive to a neighboring town so she could get a blood test. You see Mabel has decided to serve a church mission. During her blood test, the nurse asked Mabel a series of questions that seemed odd to her, but she went along with it anyway. It wasn't until the nurse asked who her baby doctor would be that she realized that she was answering questions for a pregnancy test. She quickly explained to the nurse that she wasn't pregnant, she needed a blood test to go on a mission. The nurse responded by saying, "Oh. Being pregnant might be awkward then, unless it was a Jesus or something."

Even though Mabel wasn't eating for two, we decided her experience warranted a meal so we stopped at a local eatery called Kranky Franks. Turns out Kranky Franks is a hot dog stand and I'm a hot dog philistine. Instead of ordering the famous dangerous dog with the works, I ordered a brat with a sauce on it and I only got the sauce because the man running the stand asked me three times if I was sure I didn't want anything on my brat. Mabel made up for my heathenism. We sat down, ate our brats and fries (amazing fries!), and talked to the notably cheerful man. He talked to us about school and what we want to do with our majors without the usual skepticism towards the English major. In fact, he gave me an encouraging tale of a friend who found a job right out of college. At that point, I wished I was one of those people who can get the life story out of complete strangers because he seemed like the kind of guy who'd have an interesting story to tell.

All in all, we were satisfied with our side trip, but thinking over our little adventure, Mabel and I decided we will return to Kranky Franks, mostly for the fries, but also to answer some important questions: Is there a Kranky Frank? Was the nice man serving us hot dogs Frank? And if so, why wasn't he cranky?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Can Be Domestic

My roommate jokes that I can cook, I just choose not to. I'm not saying I became Julia Child over Christmas, but I did happen to show a little more of my domestic side.

It all started with the Christmas tree. I put it together (our first fake tree), decided where it would reside, and decorated it all by myself.

Then I made fudge which I do almost every Christmas, but this Christmas I didn't make a practice batch.

Finally, I spoiled my Dad for his birthday by making him meringue. You might think big deal, she didn't make the actual pie. But I feel like this was the crowning glory of my experiment with domesticity, mostly because I made this meringue with my mom and both my grandmas looking over my shoulder. Talk about pressure! I made my Dad blow out a candle I put in the pie just so he'd appreciate my handiwork before it was sliced and served.