Monday, December 10, 2018

Currently...

DISCLAIMER: these are in no particular order. Links are for more info though I'm confident in your searching skills, I thought I'd make it easier. You're welcome. 


Reading: 

In physical book form:

Sarah Wilson's First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

 Ann Dee Ellis's You May Already Be A Winner

America Ferrera's collection of essays in American Like Me: Reflections on life between cultures 

On my Kindle:

Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

In audiobook form: 


Michelle Obama's Becoming

Listening to:

Podcasts:


Recently finished/caught up: 


Watching:

CW: racism, violence, suicide, sex
This movie deserves it's own post and I'm curious about the book



Craving: 

  • Chocolate Frosting...a weakness but oh so good. 
  • Sourdough toast with melted cheddar cheese
  • Coffee in the morning with a touch of creamer. Mmm warm goodness. 
  • Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper. Yes, I know. Absurd. For those times I want bubbles and sugar but not caffeine. 
  • Ice Water. 

Thinking/anxious about:

  • so many things
  • school
  • kids
  • relationships
  • holidays
  • trip prep
  • mailing packages
  • broken sinks & crappy landlords
  • spring semester

Dreaming about: 

  • home ownership
  • grocery delivery
  • writing more earnestly 
  • sleep
  • being done with physical therapy





Sunday, December 9, 2018

Distinguished Guests....

One of my mental blocks as a writer is trying to figure out my audience.

That was always a tricky question for me to answer when writing papers in college? Who am I writing this paper for, exactly?

The college professor who is grading me, obviously.

But what about the blog?

Who am I writing for?

Is it just for me and then I launch it out into the world in case someone else needed what I did? Is it a convenient way to communicate with family both near and far? To honor those who have come before me and those who come after? Is my rambling for friends? People with depression? Parents? Women? Mormon? Ex-Mormon? People with chronic pain? (I would argue we all live with chronic pain but I digress...) Will my words find English majors? (They are likely appalled with my lack of editing.) Poets? Artists? Quilters? Lovers of words? Spiritual people, who wonder if it is true that they belong everywhere and nowhere? Thirty-somethings? Teens? The walking wounded who carry traumas with them that may or may not be their own? Library students struggling to determine the value of a degree? Do I write for the person interrupted several times while attempting to write? Could it be all of these people? Or some at a time? We overlap and intersect in so many different ways. You'll notice that all of these groups are labels I would use for myself. But I also believe in connections that don't have a label beyond "human" and thus interesting. So who am I writing for?

I don't know. And I'll set about figuring that out as I go.

What I DO know is that the need to write is there. Always has been. And that when I listen and pay attention and honor what I need, I find the world a little more peaceful, and less anxious.


So the WHO I'll figure out. 
The WHAT is whatever flows through the keyboard.
WHEN? More often. But when exactly? Remains to be scheduled.
WHERE am I writing? Currently on my bed, with my laptop, in my comfiest sweats, with a warm drink by my side and mess everywhere else. 
WHY? Because I like to. (Em-Oh-You-Ess-Eee!)
and HOW? By whatever means possible.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ruling things out.


I quit my job recently for a variety of reasons. One of which was health related. I have had some weird health things over the last few months. One concerning symptom is a buzzing in my tailbone, like a phone on vibrate that can be incessant and maddening but also severely worrisome. When I looked it up online, all signs pointed to cancer and then to multiple sclerosis (thanks google). I have a friend who is currently living with MBC, metastatic breast cancer, not curable- but treatable. The reality that cancer is a thing people my age live with is still a little unsettling. So I wasn't entirely ruling out those possibilities.

But also, I know better than to trust the internet when it comes to matters of health so I also made an appointment with my doctor. I had hoped the doctor would say, "Oh yes, I've seen this before! It's probably just XYZ." But when I told the nurse, she seemed perplexed. Then, when I told my doctor she also seemed rather stumped. So we went through the list. First comes the Blood work. Which I hate because I get woozy. But I *did* have an angel of a phlebotomist who got it on the first go.

"Good news," the nurse told me when I called, "your blood work looks GREAT!" Which unfortunately meant it was not an easy answer.

Next step was an MRI. We only did the lower lumbar and while there were no lesions (meaning likely not MS, for now) it did show disc bulging.

Then on to the spine specialist who mostly wanted to stick a giant needle up my back- thanks but no thanks for now doc. While I was hoping for a quick, easy fix, I also HATE needles. Had an epidural with my firstborn. So it's not a fear of the unknown.

Next came physical therapy. Only that physical therapist and their entire office was awful. Clearly in it to cash checks from the insurance but doesn't give one thought to the humans they are interacting with. Zero respect for bodily autonomy, which seems like it should be a given in that field of work. I have done physical therapy before. The other times have been great and I am glad I had those experiences to compare to or I might have gone back to this terribly trained "professional". So now I have to find another PT and might possibly seek out other medical advice from another doc here. This was the PT the spine specialist usually refers to. So I'm questioning that doctor's judgment, too.

Why do I tell you all of this? I don't know. But it is intensely frustrating and stressful. Meanwhile, my back isn't much worse than it's always been but I have been more acutely aware of changes and other symptoms that I'm tracking. I'm in a place where we can cover the current medical expenses. That feels like a miracle. And simultaneously makes me mad but that's a post for another day.



In the end, I'm no better or worse off. I just have a little more information to work with now.  
And maybe a little more time to write.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Representation Matters

Notes from YALSA18 in Salt Lake City


Young Adult Library Services Association 


Toshi Onyebuchi said he didn’t see himself in literature until 2014 reading Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie as a grown man. He said see himself reflected changed him. Now imagine what that can do for a teen. 


"To see yourself in literature is validation of the deepest order."


I can’t remember who said that quote and but it hits as the very core of literature and art and why I think it’s important to have a wide array of choices. 


Toshi Onyebuchi is a great, charismatic speaker and a delight to listen to on the panel. Multiple times I heard him use his male privilege to boost the experiences of women of color. He’s a black man- so he doesn’t have the same amount of privilege that say a white man does- but he used his voice and his platform and it was a powerful example. He also began a reply with "One of the challenges I appreciate..." and my head spun for a minute. 


Appreciate challenge?


Hmm. That stuck with me and I’ll be thinking more about it. 


Leigh Bardugo walks with a cane and mentioned she lives with a bone disease and chronic pain. I want to see more of that. She mentioned her characters don’t often get whitewashed in fanart but she’s surprised by how often they are skinny-washed. "Scared artists make bad work." 


And then later she said this: "There is nothing that will spare your pain of writing a book."


Oof. Nothing. You have to slog through and do it. 


"Writing is a craft. It’s also an art." -Brandon Sanderson


"Don’t take any advice." (Don’t remember who said that) Which to me is "you already know what you need to do." 


Roahani Choksi was delightful and Sabaa Tahir has some serious skills in making playlists. 


All of these authors were delightful and real. Afterwards they signed copies of their books for us. (I didn’t know about that part ahead of time) I’ll definitely be following them on social media. They are all fantasy and science fiction writers and I have a harder time with some of that but I’m learning to open up a little more. My kids love those worlds though so maybe it’s a good thing. 




Left to right: Brandon Sanderson, Roshani Choksi, Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Toshi Onyebuchi




I’m trying to write something every day. Not necessarily blog- but the end result will probably be a few more blogs than otherwise. Enjoy. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2015: part deux

New/Old Town

Moving to the place where Sean and I met and fell in love has been fun. 

We were gone long enough that there are new aspects to explore but familiar enough that it feels like home. It's also kind of fun to explain to the kids, "This is where I lived in college and we used to walk here" or "This is where Daddy lived when we were dating" while pointing to familiar places that would go overlooked in the day to day living but have a deep personal history for me. 

Today (2018) I have lived here for 12 years. Chopped up a bit here and there. But that is longer than I have lived in ANY one town. So I guess it IS home. My formative years were spent in the San Joaquin Valley in California and I have deep nostalgia for my hometown. My heart will forever be on the Central California Coast. But Utah is my HOME. And it is where my kids are growing up. Making the decision to move here from Blanding was a sudden shift but it was the Next Right Thing for us. 


June 2015 was epic. We moved and two weeks later my sister got married!! 

I'd like to point out that I am dwarfed by my LITTLE brother and LITTLE sister here...(Auntie Varine, who was the shortest in the family, reminded me good things come in small packages.)


So much fun! (This is from their honeymoon in Thailand I think??)

I love to hear about their adventures. We love Jon. (He passed the test initially when I asked his favorite Disney movie and he said "Emperor's New Groove".) Welcome to this crazy thing we call family! 

That weekend was the annual SummerFest in Logan. We loved taking the kids when they were tiny (we lived in Logan 2009-2011). 



One of the new (but old) things we did was hiking. We found a trail called Hidden Haven. It's a great little hike. 


Just the right length. Hike in. Eat sammiches. Hike back out. Hightail it when you feel raindrops and know you're in an area prone to flash floods. Make it down the mountain literally in front of the water.  Phew! 

Kids started back to school at new schools. Landon in 1st grade in a dual immersion Spanish program, Ian in 3rd at a STEM school and Charlie preK (round one). 
Charlie also had hernia surgery before he started school. He was a champ about the whole thing. I think I was the most nervous about all of it. He still talks about the magical hospital socks that are amazing...

I also found this large canvas at a thrift shop and I repainted it. 

You can't tell from the photo but it's about 3 feet by 4 feet. Huge. I love the way it turned out. The five Aspen trees represent our family (and no the trees are not "assigned" specifically to people). Two big ones on the outside and 3 little ones in the middle. Aspens often grow in "clones" from the same root system and are often the first replacement vegetation for fire scars. Our family is our own Aspen "clone" and have been known to grow in places where great devastation has occurred. I painted this, in part, to symbolize our strength as a family even after leaving the church we had been raised in. The biggest thing we gained is TIME. Time with one another that otherwise was spent on various other things connected to service in the church. Ironic considering all the time spent preaching about families at church. But true that we gained more time together when we stopped attending the various meetings. Leaving was hard. It left burn scars in my heart. And from those burn scars grew the most wonderful forest of Aspens. I'm proud that I could capture a little bit of that on canvas. 

We also hiked the Canal Trail in Pine Valley. There was a large fire there recently and we haven't been back so I don't know if the Canal Trail was damaged. But I do know the earth will renew. In 2015 it was stunning. 



"Wobble Cars" got new paint jobs: 

Random blocks transformed into seasonal decor:
 Old rotton chairs got a welcoming makeover:
 Kid started soccer:
 Halloween costumes were made:
Birthday Cakes extraordinaire: 


I participated in an eye-opening, perspective-changing project that needs it's own post to explain. 

November of 2015 also was a hard time because the church that I had been raised in and still had much hope for released a policy of exclusion that said children of gay parents were no longer allowed to be baptized or participate in the priesthood unless and until they were 18 and disavowed their parents' lifestyle. I have always been sensitive to LGBT issues and this one hurt. Baby blessings were not even allowed anymore under this new policy. To me, this doesn't add up. LOVE is bigger than sexuality. LOVE is bigger than these arbitrary exclusions.There was much dissonance in every direction about this issue and I mostly felt like it was sending a message of disgust that I disagree with to my core. 

In 2015 we did more art seasonal and otherwise. It was a year of creation and re-creation:

An old aerial photo of Blanding with hand-drawn typography

Mixed Media Frosty painted over a practice canvas when I was getting ready to do the Aspens. 

The kids even helped with these. I especially love the individual styles.

2015 was also the year Landon made Charlie a doll for Christmas (we draw names every year). He named him "Baby Landon" in honor of his brother.

And tie-dye jammies for Christmas:


In December we finished the year off with a bang with our own cupcake wars on New Year's Eve. We stayed up all night, ate way too much sugar and had a blast. The kids even made display stands. 



2015 was a long year packed with lots of change. 





Monday, September 24, 2018

Anno Domini

In the year of our Lord, 

Two thousand and fifteen:


 In the cold winter months, we spent a lot of time indoors. 
Sometimes we ventured out for a bit of sledding fun. 
 While indoors we did a lot of projects to keep entertained. This was a day we made rockets because biggest brother got to have a "science day" at school (2nd grade) and the other two were jealous. Landon was only 1/2 day at that point (kindergarten) and Charlie was home with me ALL. THE. TIME.  It was exhausting as a parent because this child is more hands-on than the other two have been and as such needed more constant supervision as a small child. I believe that was the winter we had to get x-rays done because we couldn't find the 3rd button battery to a toy and couldn't be sure Charlie hadn't swallowed it. So we played with a lot of cardboard boxes. 

That winter was hard because we all took turns getting sick and the kids missed a lot more days of school than normal due to illness. There were incidents of bullying on the way home from school and combined with boredom at school it was getting increasingly hard to send the kids to school. Everyone finished out the year strong but it was not without great effort.

Projects and outings helped take our minds off the stresses and so we spent a lot of time on projects when we felt well enough to do them. 


Made matching owl pajama pants because we could: 

 Found a great love for Cosmic Kids Yoga


Got the hearth replaced and it was a beautiful accent to our new gas insert. We replaced the wood-burning insert after a chimney fire in January (I think--though might have been 2014) 

Learned more about slowing down. Making deliberate choices about what to focus on. Saying yes and saying no. 

In February Charlie and I got to surprise my sister Christie, who was coming home from 18 months in Oklahoma. It was a fun adventure. It was a quick trip and our way home led us to "another plane, and another plane, and another plane..." Charlie loved the delays. I did not. But it was certainly memorable.

In March Sean and I went to Orem to see Pentatonix in concert. They were amazing. It was a fun trip. 

Knowing that we had little time left in the area we hiked Dry Wash up to the Ruins in May. It was a good little hike and I'm glad we did it before we left. 
Our group selfie skills have improved as the kids have learned to hold still (and are now taller) But back then this was as good as it got.


Around this time we made the decision to move back to Cedar City. It wasn't easy. I really wanted Blanding to work out. But my mental health was suffering in a remote location far from access to airports (to see family and friends) and resources. Even shoe shopping was a nightmare. There were other factors. My kids were falling through the cracks in school for various reasons and were getting bored. Having the only options be the school they were in (the only one in town) or homeschool (that wouldn't have worked for our family at the time...maybe ever-but certainly not then) was really frustrating. We knew Cedar City had a few more options and it was a town we were familiar and comfortable with.  

This was also around the time of our separate, yet entwined, faith journies. Not being an active participant in our local congregation, even for a small time, led to some really awkward social fallout. That's really a post for another day but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the impact it had on our family. Feeling ostracised in a community of 3000 was incredibly difficult. So many things combined to lead to our decision to move. It was/is heartbreaking. Three years later the sting is a little less but the grief for the dreams/plans we had is still there. 

So we packed up our house. Rented the biggest truck from Moab and trekked across the state.

We loaded up the truck on a Friday. It rained that night and the truck that previously could have gotten off our front lawn was now loaded down with everything we owned and stuck in the mud. My father in law managed to get a heavy backhoe (or something) from work and had enough gusto to pull us out. Otherwise, we likely would have just stayed put another day to let the mud dry out a bit. 

We got into the "just throw it anywhere" mode of unloading the truck right away. Once it was in the house it was easier to sort and get organized and cozy.

Stay tuned for the rest of the 2015 adventures...