Monday, October 29, 2007

Would you like some fries with that?

I got a catalog in the mail this morning for this company selling funny "demotivational" products. I flipped through the pages and found this on a t-shirt, and felt that it did a great job of summing up the frustration both Randy and I have felt looking around in the job market. We are both relatively intelligent, hardworking individuals, but it seems like there is nothing in the Provo/Orem area other than either 1) restaurant work, 2) call centers, or 3) fast food management. The writing market in this area is terrible, which is why I am taking time off to write a novel. I have found myself to be a complete anomaly though, as I am neither writing Mormon love stories or fantasy/sci-fi, which for some reason seems to be all people in this valley seem to write/read. Randy just started a new job as a sales rep for the Living Scriptures, which sells animated scripture-based movies for families. He is pretty much just happy to be out of a call center, which is where we both worked for the first half of our marriage, and then on and off ever since. I think we are both done with that place for good though. It sealed the deal for me when the girl I sat next to every day and who I was really good friends with killed herself this summer. So for us it has been goodbye Credit Attorney, hello . . . anything-but-McDonalds-please!!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


The soul is too terrible a device
to have created
this language. Untongued, reckless,
Wildly optimistic--
unseen forces of will, desire, and abject
Sensibility. Can you, my friend
understand me? I think not--
for I, in all my years of careful
Study and tedious reasoning
make out very little.
I can only speak to your obvious
heartache with my
Abstractions of experience, poor tools
and I am left
with only tears to answer your questioning pain.
I comprehend your joy
through a kaleidescope of colors
and lights and bits of liminal bliss--
Waiting to be shattered in the
Silence between.
You speak--and I listen.
But only my heart, with its
gentle fears, and hopes, and universal suffering
can begin to understand.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Love and Pumpkin Pie

I met Randy three years ago last August, on the first Sunday of the semester. I had lived in the ward for a year previous, and Randy happened to move in just downstairs from me with his cousin Jonathan. Randy had been friends with my cousin and roommate Andrea their freshman year, so we met through her and all walked home from church together. He was a little younger than I was, so I didn't really think of him as a dating prospect, even though I remember thinking he was really cute. So I went on dating other random guys in my ward and people I met in classes or through friends, wishing that I could meet a really nice guy who could also be my best friend. About a month and a half passed, and I would see Randy around FHE and church, but I never really stopped to talk to him much--he remained the funny kid who lived downstairs. I had one other roommate besides Andrea, and we had all been pretty close friends the year before. Things changed that fall as she was diagnosed with a thyroid problem that completely changed her personality. She was suddenly combative, and nothing we could do changed her mind that we were no longer friends. One Sunday in mid October Andrea and I went downstairs to lend Randy a blender so he could make homemade pumpkin pie, and midway through helping him make the pie Andrea had to go upstairs to deal with the roommate crisis. This left me helping Randy, who I really didn't know all that well, make the pie. As I helped him I was surprised how easy he was to talk to, and I left that afternoon with a really good friend. The rest is history . . . by Christmas friendship had changed into something else, in spite of both our efforts to keep things "just friends." We kissed a month later (Jan. 31, his 22 birthday) and were married two years almost to the day after that first kiss.
That first pumpkin pie was kind of a disaster, unlike the friendship that followed. Maybe we were concentrating more on talking than on the pie, or maybe Randy is a bit of an impatient cook. In any case, that friendship which started over pumpkin pie has carried us through many hard times during the three years to follow. I was reminded of these beginnings tonight, because we braved a sequel to that first, lumpy, nasty pumpkin pie. This one, I am happy to report, was delicious. :o)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Growing Up

We were having a business dinner the other night with one of Randy's supervisors, his wife, and another new hire and his wife, when I made an interesting self-discovery: I have grown up enough to realize, and not run away from, the fact that I am a big nerd. All the wives were talking while the men discussed business, and when she discovered that I am a writer one of the women made a comment about how when she was young and a "nerd" she liked to write. She quickly back-stepped and qualified her statement with, "not that writing is nerdy or anything." I laughed and said, it's all right, writers are pretty big nerds. And it is true. I looked up the webster definition of nerd and found that a nerd is, "an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits." Now, I try to keep up on myself and I hope I'm not socially inept--but the latter part of the sentence certainly fits. When you sit around looking up etymologies on the online Oxford English Dictionary for FUN, I think you fit the bill. Or when you can tell your husband in five hundred words why Oxford is far and away better than Webster. Or when you get kicks reading thirty-year old lectures from a French psychoanalyst and theorist (Lacan). Or when the two stations you know on the radio are NPR and a local classical station. Or when the biggest events on your social calender are literary lectures at the local library. Have I sufficiently proved my point?
I think when we are young we are so afraid to be or look anything that isn't "pop," whatever that is at the time. We transform, again and again, about as many times as Madonna (hopefully without the promiscuity and plastic surgery) hoping that in the process no one will catch on to the fact that we are . . . ourselves. Now that I am twenty-six, I have become comfortable to a great extent with my own company. Not that this complacency excludes me from my fair share of insecurities: after all, I am female. But they are different than they were when I was sixteen or even twenty-one. I still worry about my weight but now I want to be healthy for the kids I hope to have. I want to look nice but I don't panic whenever I leave the house. I want to have friends, but more importantly I want to be surrounded by people who make me think, who make me laugh for all the right reasons, people who make me feel better about myself and the world as a whole. Which probably puts them in the category I delineated above. And that's okay, did I mention I married a big music nerd? And I think he's pretty great (and cute!).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Let it Snow

Saturday afternoon and evening we had our first snow of the season. Neither of us are ready for real winter cold, but a few flakes were fun. Now that we are in Orem I think we will get a little more snow than we did when we lived south of campus, since we are a little higher in elevation. The flakes started that afternoon, and by that night it had started to stick to the pavement. The past couple of years we have enjoyed long walks together at night in the snow, so we bundled ourselves up late Saturday night (I'm sure we looked ridiculous dressed for the arctic, with just an inch of snow on the ground) and took our first walk of the season. I really love our new neighborhood because it is so peaceful. We live just a block away from a park on the grounds of the local hospital, with pathways that wind around and through trees and large fields. It was fun to see our new surroundings glowing in the snowy night. My favorite part about cold, snowy nights is how everything lights up, reflecting off the snow. I can't wait until our neighbors start putting up Christmas lights, and see them shine off the snow. I am just a little excited for the Christmas season. I played my first Christmas cd Saturday afternoon. I must have some psychic connection with my mom because she started playing her Christmas music the same day. But it is Monday now, and the snow is melted, so it feels like October again. And that is just fine: I will certainly get sick of the cold and snow soon enough!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Girls' Day In

Thursday my old roommate Krystal came over for a spa day. Back about a year ago when Randy and I were still dating, I would send Randy home early on Sunday nights (he was always pretty much with me during BYU approved visiting hours) and she and I would have a little "spa" in our room. This is her senior year and is feeling exceedingly stressed (she's an English major too, so I know exactly how she's feeling), and it had been way too long since either of us had really pampered ourselves. So I picked her up and we made blueberry scones--the English kind, not the mormon fried bread--made herbal chai tea (Yeah, we're English majors), and then proceded to do pedicures, facials, and we both got French manicures. I lit an aromatherapy candle I picked up at the day spa Randy sent me to for my birthday, and it was positively, decadently delightful. After all the wonderful relaxation, we took Randy, who had been such a good sport about all the girliness happening in the other room, and we went to the Orem dollar theatre and saw Stardust. It stars Clare Danes, Michelle Pheiffer, and Robert DeNiro, and we all loved it. Especially Randy. It is clean, hilarious, and really well done. It is a little reminiscent of Princess Bride, just more flashy, magical. It felt so good to have a complete non-stress day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

He's gonna kill me . . .

I was blessed with the most sweet, loving husband in the world. He is always kind, thoughtful, and understanding . . . but I've become convinced that he will be the death of me. His downfall, or should I say mine, is his penchant for being a tease. He tickles me, he pokes me in the arm, he sings silly songs late at night when I am trying to fall asleep. But none of this comes close to the worst manifestation of his bad habit . . . scaring me for a good laugh. When we were first married he would sneak up to the shower while I was in it and just stick his head in without saying anything, so without warning I would look up and see this floating head making bizarre faces. And, yes, I am a jumper and a screamer, so the reaction he got was apparently well worth the effort. But I'm pretty sure he's giving me a heart condition! Yesterday I was at my laptop writing, and he spent a good ten minutes sneaking up on me in order to scare me, and he did such a good job I started crying. Now, my reaction may have been a little extreme, and it probably was, but I was just not expecting a scary man behind me while I was concentrating that hard! Poor Randy did feel pretty bad about getting his sweet wife that good, but that didn't keep him from giggling about it. He is after all, a mischievous little devil. I just hope he gets it out of his system before I'm an old lady, and he actually does kill me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Little Quack

One of my favorite things to do is read to my nieces and nephews. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, and I love sharing that with people I care about. Sunday when we were up visiting Lance, Mandi and the kids, I saw how things sometimes come full circle. Sydney is going through her Princess stage--like every other little girl under 12--and wanted me to read Cinderella, and read Cinderella, and AGAIN read--yes--Cinderella. As I was bibitty-bobbety-booing for the umpteenth time, I remembered hearing my parents saying that when I was that age, I made them read that exact book over and over again. I had it memorized and wouldn't let them skip through pages. I was more than happy to put in my time with Cinderella though to spend time with my niece!
On a more serious note, the book pictured above I believe to be a cruel punishment for any parent, or in this case, aunt. The adorable illustrations of baby duckies bely the agony that awaits any story-teller: some horrifically ridiculous names. The author, this Laura Thompson, in her perverseness named two of the ducklings "Piddle and Puddle," and every time I had to read those names (pretty much every page in the stupid book) I completely lost composure, and had to take about five minutes to get myself under control. I might as well have been reading about "Peepee and Tinkle." Maybe it was late at night, and I had a "gummy-gamantula" moment, or maybe it was really that funny. I'll leave the judgment up to you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Granny's Got a New Set of Wheels . . .

Che is a funny, active little "squirrel," and sometimes I worry that she doesn't get enough attention or exercise. So Saturday we went to Petco and found the largest Gerbil ball we could find, and gave it to Che. At first she didn't really know what to do with it--she kid of scooted her bum around and went backwards. But eventually she got the hang of it, and she has been trotting all over the house in her little bubble. It is so funny to watch her go--she has a lot of attitude and now that we let her go wherever in her ball she just rolls past us with her little nose up in the air. Kind of reminds me of a teenager with their first set of keys. So she has been our entertainment for the last day and a half!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crazy Kids

Those of you who know Randy and me pretty well know that we are pretty low key . . . translation: boring. We enjoy really wild things like sitting around on our living room floor playing card games for hours, watching movies or the Discovery Channel, or watching Che run circles around our room. But once in awhile we will decide spur-of-the-moment to break out of our ruts and do something ridiculous. A few years ago we decided to hike the Y at about 9 o'clock at night. At the time neither of us owned a car, so it meant we had to walk from our apartments to the base of the mountain, hike the mountain, and then walk back (Luckily I was in a lot better shape back then!). Last night we got a similar itch . . . this time for s'mores. So we jetted off to Smiths, got the goods, picked up Mandy, and drove off to Provo Canyon. It was a little spooky being so late at night--Randy didn't help by telling awful stories about Mountain Lion attacks etc.--but it turned out to be a lot of fun. We started up a nice roaring fire, roasted the tastiest s'mores in the world (in spite of the fact that I bought a ridiculously over sized Hershey bar that was a bit too thick to melt properly) and then came home before Randy freaked us out too much with his stories. The only problem now is that all of my suppressed desire for camping and outdoorsy activities has been unleashed, so I want to go back. But it was definitely worth it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Book Review: Possession by A. S. Byatt

I am going to pull a little copycat here, and do a book review of the latest one I've read. Possession is fantastic--especially if you are into literary fiction. It is poetic--literally--she mimics the British romantic poetry (Romantic being a literary period like modern or Victorian, not indicative of subject matter) of Browning, Barrett and Wordsworth as she creates fictive literary greats of the eighteenth century. It slips in and out of modern life and eighteenth century life seamlessly. Her characters are believable, and her prose is absolutely gorgeous. I am excited to read more of her work, because I feel like I just stumbled upon something really great! For the light reader: She does get into literary theory--psychoanalysis, the French feminists like Cixous, as well as a little queer theory (that isn't a pejorative phrase, that's really what the scholarly field is called) because that is what her characters are dealing with. She makes them very believable scholars, so if that turns you off you probably wouldn't appreciate the book. It isn't too heavy with theory, but it is an element. Something I was fascinated with while reading this novel was all the reference to Norse mythology in the poetry of her characters. I'm not a mythology buff so I borrowed an Oxford edition from an old roommate and learning a little bit more. The mark of a good book for me is not merely that it grips me--which this one did--but that it actually inspires me--which this one did as well. I feel like a better writer, scholar and critical thinker for having read this work.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Anger Management

So before I got married, I witnessed a fair amount of stress caused by nearly all of Randy's brothers to their wives on account of their video-game playing habits. I knew pretty early on that Randy was on a similar path--video/computer games seem to be part of his genetic material--so I decided, hey, if you can't beat 'em . . . and I took his invitation to play a game with him. This decision about six months into our relationship has turned out to be a really good one for us. Since he was kind enough to take the time and teach me how to play, he rarely sits down and plays a game without me (unless I'm lost in a book and he needs to kill some time). This way his gaming has become a kind of activity we can do together, instead of something that frustrates me. We don't play either very much or very often, although since moving to our new place where we have no tv and no money to go out, we have played Mario Kart together on the Nintendo 64 more often! There has been an unintended and completely unforeseen consequence to his teaching me how to play though. I get really angry!! I didn't know I had much of a temper until now, but hidden down there somewhere I've got some fire. Randy taught me how to play Zelda on the 64, and two nights ago I was stuck in the most exasperating spot in the game, and I actually started shouting and throwing pillows across the room. I think my eyes may have turned a little red :o). In any case, I had to turn the darn thing off and take a brisk walk around the block to compose myself. Then I just went back to reading, which turns out is a whole lot safer!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Road Less Traveled

Randy and I have been talking a lot lately about what we want out of life, where we want to go, how we want to approach family/careers etc. The conclusion we arrived at is that we don't want normal lives--or perhaps we just weren't built for them. Both of us are pretty restless and maybe we want too much . . . I don't know. In any case, I doubt very much that either of us will ever hit the corporate track, at least not any time soon.
To this end, we made some decisions. First off, Randy is looking for a job that doesn't involve sitting at a computer all day calling people trying to sell them credit help. He got several new piano students as well. Both of us are still working at Credit Attorney on Saturdays, so at least we can be miserable together! With all of this set, Alicia is taking the next couple of months until Randy starts up school again to write the "next great American novel." We know we are young and probably insane, but it seemed like the best time to do something off the beaten track. That said, my free-spirit still dreads disappointing family expectation, on both sides. But in four or six months if my novel doesn't sell, then I can still go back and get one of those careers everybody talks about. I just want the chance to succeed or fail--failure doesn't even mean that much to me as long as I had the chance. Most people who want to write don't because they never get around to it, and I didn't want that to be the reason I was never published. If I'm not good enough, fine. But I at least need the time to see that.
So, there you have it. We may be a couple of crazies, but hopefully we are lovable ones. As to the progress of the novel so far . . . I have a working title, a preliminary outline, and characters sketched out. I have to admit that I have the most wonderful husband in the world. Not many men would be so supportive of my crazy need to do this, and Randy is so supportive of my dreams. Before we got married I read him my favorite poem by Yeats as a model of how I want our interactions to be:
Had I the heavens embroidered cloths
Enwrought with golden and silver light
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I being poor have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Monday, October 1, 2007

50 pounds of brown sugar

Randy and I dated for two years before we got married, so there weren't too many surprises as we started married life. I knew most of his quirks (other than the fact that he talks in his sleep) so things have been pretty peaceful. But once in awhile he will surprise me with his . . . well . . . boyness!
The other night I wasn't feeling that well so I sent him to the store to bring home a few groceries. Not major shopping, just a couple of things to get us by until I could come up with a menu and a list. We were out of pretty much everything, and extremely sick of the three things we did have: spaghetti, potato pearls, and refried beans. Knowing Randy's shopping limitations I expected him to bring home a frozen pizza or some stir-fry, a loaf of bread and some meat for a sandwich--something simple and easy to prepare. I didn't give him many guidelines as to what to buy, but I had seen groceries he used to pick out for himself while we were dating, so I wasn't terribly worried.
I was just sitting on the bed reading while he was gone, and when I realized I had been reading for about forty-five minutes I started to get worried. But he hadn't called to ask for advice, so I figured he was just doing a little more shopping than I expected when I sent him out. Just as I was about to call him, he walked in the door. He called me to come see what he had bought . . . and I couldn't believe it. With no food in the house he comes home after forty-five minutes with nothing but a gallon of milk, a family size box of jalapeƱo poppers, and 60--get this--SIXTY eggo waffles in a costco-sized box. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry--I was so tired I think I did a little of both.
Poor Randy had wandered through Smiths all that time not knowing what to get, and trying so hard to think what I would like. He remembered that I had tried eggos for the first time about two years ago and had liked them, so buying sixty seemed like the right thing to do. And apparently the poppers just looked good.
I'm still so baffled at how much more helpless he seems as a married man. I know that he knows how to do things, but now that there is a Wife to do them, he seems to have forgotten. But, I love him! So there you have it.