Friday, February 28, 2014

Small Sand Toddlers and Slithering Sisterly Tricks

I have multiple sisters. Several sisters. In fact, I have five sisters. Right now, two of them are out in Utah, one doing some student teaching (Megan), and one attending BYU (Bug, commonly referenced as Bugheera by myself). You may recognize Megan from some previous posts, including the story about how we both publicly humiliated ourselves and the speech I gave as her maid of honor. Bugheera is featured in some special Pictorials herself regarding stinky vans and her lousy inability to give directions. Sometimes these two girls manage to get together, and when they do, chaos is the third and permanent member of their trio.

Every Sunday night, my family gets online to video chat via Google Plus. I love hearing stories and seeing faces. It's a great way to stay in touch. But if Megan and Buggy happen to be at the same place while we're trying to talk, then it's more like the rest of us watch them giggle and do lots of this.

That makes it hard to understand anyone at all. But I did manage to hear two stories that I felt deserved some pictures.

One weekend, Buggy and Megan decided to hang out together. On Sunday, they attended church. Bug was hungry during Sunday School, and went for a snack. Apparently, it was the wrong snack to bring into a meeting, because it just so happened to be the most difficult to manage victual in the world.

Megan insisted that she knew the best way to open this treacherous granola bar without making crumbs explode everywhere like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Bug pointed out that the package was already opened, and that Megan's benevolence may in fact just make things worse. Bug lost the fiercely whispered argument, and was promptly proved right when Megan managed to make a mess of it all. The entire granola bar disintegrated in the wrapper. Megan stuffed it under her seat.

If Megan and Bug had been the only attendees at this Sunday School, that trick may have worked. However, a little toddler was also present. He saw the wrapper under the seat and went straight for it. He seized it. He waved his prize about, bellowing like that savage Sand Person from Star Wars, the one that hits Luke upside the head and then raises his stick aloft.

And in case you have no idea what that picture is supposed to be or why it's funny, here. Educate yourself.

The actions of this miniature Tusken Raider gave his surroundings a gentle rain of granola bar crumbs, exactly what Megan and Bug had been desperately hoping to avoid. Whoops.

Later, Megan and Buggy were at home, and decided to try out some fun balancing games. Megan thought it would be a good idea to see if she could balance sitting atop Bug's feet. Megan could feel herself beginning to wobble, but she was determined to give Bug the benefit of the doubt, seeing as Buggy's so strong and all.

It turns out that Megan should have gone with the self-preservation instincts.

Because Megan just wound up square on her noggin, scrunched up like an accordion, and probably sounding like one, too. Bug was most likely laughing uproariously.

They shared these two stories with me, and I laughed at them. I was inspired to make some art out of it. This is a little post to tell my sisters that I love them, and to thank them for the laughs.

Sisters, I love you. Thank you for the laughs.

That is all.

NOTE: Thank you to all who are enjoying The Story and saying nice things about its entertainment value. Andrew and I rather enjoyed reminiscing, even if we didn't enjoy living it at times (the awkward bits). If you missed the last installment, it's The Zero-eth Date. Cheers to reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Zero-eth Date

First installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater
Previous installment: Wordsworth's First Name Is Not Joey

“Good grief!” shouted Lia. Those boys needed to open that door right now. This moment. Last moment. Two moments ago.
This is one of the most awkward moments of my life, Lia thought as the two girls stood in front of the door to the boys’ apartment. Amber was glaring a little bit. It’s not like I’m going out with HER man. But gee whiz, I sure wish they’d open the door now.
It had been a long walk down the hall to even get to this door. Amber had come over to show Lia her outfit, and ask if she looked alright. This was the long awaited, the anxiously awaited, the overly awaited, the loudly awaited date. It was finally here. Lia looked at Amber’s cute dark curls, striped shirt, and pink jacket and gave her seal of approval. Amber did have some pretty dark eyes, and freckles on her nose. Yes, Joey should be rather pleased with this.
Amber smiled at Lia’s compliments. Life was good for a moment. All tension between the girls was gone, forgotten in favor of the happy present. But from there, things grew rather strained rather quickly. Lia did not go back into her apartment when Amber moved to leave. Lia stepped out into the hallway and shut the door behind her.
“Are you going somewhere?” Amber asked.
“Oh, just strolling down the hall a bit,” Lia said in a rather noncommittal way.
As the two continued further down the hall towards the boys’ side, Amber began to assess Lia out of the corner of her eye. Lia could feel the assessment happening, and wished she looked less nice. She had stuck with a simple outfit of her dark goddess jeans and a plain long sleeved white shirt with a pink cami underneath. She hadn’t done anything spectacular with her hair. In fact, she had done hardly anything at all with it. Lia hoped that Amber would notice that her own curled hair was much classier than Lia’s untouched locks.
“How far are you going, exactly?” Amber inquired with suspicion, if not in her voice, then very much in her face, posture, and the air surrounding her.
“Just far enough to meet my friend for lunch.”
“And who are you meeting for lunch?”
Lia had no time to think of an elusive reply. Just then Brandon walked into the apartment complex through the door on the right and said over his shoulder, “Hey, Lia, I’ll see you in a bit,” before continuing out the door on the left.
Now that former tension levels between the two girls had been fully restored, Lia realized that maybe this lunch was going to be even longer than she had previously envisioned. Amber and Lia reached apartment 9 and knocked. There the tension mounted with increasing force until it became practically palpable.
Lia didn’t get what the big deal was. If anything, Amber should be grateful! Lia was the reason Amber was going on this date today. She had bothered Joey into action, and Lia was sick of Joey, and Brandon, and this whole thing, and if those boys didn’t open this door right now they were going to find some molasses all over---
Joey opened the door. He took a small step back- it must have been the great waves of simmering unrest that went crashing into to him- before he opened the door wider to allow the girls entrance. “Hello, Amber. How are you today?” Joey was always very gentlemanly.
“Good.” It was a short, clipped response.
“Oh... Good,” Joey  said slowly, sounding unsure. He turned to Lia. “And you, Lia?”
Joey had made a mistake. At his recognition of Lia’s existence, Amber glared like mad. All of that socio-hormonal tension that Lia had been desperately pushing away came careening into the room. It came in strong and fast, as if it were riding on the backs of the wildebeests that stampeded Mufasa to his death. Lia was beginning to feel like Mufasa’s fate might be her own. She desperately hoped they were taking different cars.
They were not taking different cars. The hoping had been in vain. Brandon had come back to the apartment to meet the others, and, completely oblivious to the chaotic state of social politics, happily ushered the little group out to the street where Joey’s car was parked. Joey and his date were to sit in front, with the other two in back.
Lia noticed that the car was old, but very stately in its large size and gray-blue color. It was a gentleman’s conveyance, she decided as they rode along. The ride was smooth, with a skillful driver who managed to make even sharp turns feel like the gentle yet suave bounce of a boat on the swell. Lia was glad to note that she was not actually out on a lake in a boat at this time. It didn’t look very warm out on this December day.
Joey was making some sort of conversation with Amber up front. Lia and Brandon didn’t talk much. Lia was disgruntled, though not upset, with Brandon for putting her in this situation, and peeved at Joey for speaking to her earlier when it was obvious that Amber wanted his eyes solely on herself. It was a short ride to the sandwich shop, though, and Lia was glad to get out of the car. Even the stately Buick was beginning to feel confining.
The little restaurant itself was a nice place. It had an old time kind of feel, with warm colors on the walls and Beatles posters, and a variety of table setups around the dining area. After ordering, the group sat around the table sipping their drinks. And staring in opposite directions. And sipping their drinks some more.
Lia felt that she had the best seat. The table was next to the window, which meant it was colder, but it afforded Lia with a lovely view of Main Street. Instead of sitting across from her date, she had wound up next to him, and across from Joey and the window. Whenever things got a little too strained to look at another person, and looking at her straw just wasn’t entertaining anymore, Lia just gazed past Joey’s head.
Brandon seemed to have been broken somehow between his congenial greeting in the hallway and lunch. He was certainly lacking his regular jolly and exuberant air. Lia missed his plump little Italian ways. Especially his ability to just talk no matter what the conversation may be canvassing. Right now there was a definite lack of conversation. All attempts were brutally shut down with monosyllabic returns.
“So do you like the snow, Amber?,” Joey struggled on, in what was turning out to be more of a filibuster than a conversation.
“Yes.”  Another curt reply from Amber.
And not for lack of effort on his part, either. “I didn’t grow up with it, so it it’s a new thing to me.  What do you like about it?”
She chewed her sandwich.
Poor Joey, thought Lia. I go over and harass him into this date, and then Amber won’t even talk to him. She’s just poking at her food.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I happen to find this sandwich an absolutely delightful experience for my taste buds,” said Lia. “The slightly spicy mustard and the subdued flavor of the provolone work in sync to create a pleasant harmony.”
“Harmony of food?” asked Joey, an eyebrow raised.
“If pressed, I would tell you that the cheese and mustard are harmonized in thirds.”
“And what richness might the meat be adding to this edible chord?” returned Joey.
“I would have to ask my sister. She’s the one that knows everything about music theory.”
“You’re not educated in theory?”
“The kind of theory I study would tell you that the author is dead, that words denote what the object is not, and that Freud is seriously frightening.”
“I beg your pardon. I will rephrase. You are not a theorist of music?”
“My theory of music is this: Music is good.”
“Just good? You study words and complex sentences, and all you can give me is ‘music is good’?” Joey inclined his head towards her, encouraging her to answer.
Amber’s eyes were flicking back and forth from Lia to Joey. Oh snapdragons!, thought Lia. Don’t get jealous. I’m having a conversation, but I’m no threat. And to prove that silent point, Lia stuffed a huge bite of sandwich into her mouth, chewing somewhat ferociously. Joey sat back, looking amused at Lia’s sudden enthusiasm for eating her food instead of having conversation about it. He then looked to his right at Amber.
“Do you enjoy music, Amber?” Joey asked.
“Do you play an instrument?”
Silence. The sound of chewing. Lia started to think of “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Who would have thought that the sound of silence would be the sound of teeth working through fat sandwiches of juicy meat, creamy sauces, and crisp lettuce? And who would have thought that such a traumatic event would have inspired such a mellow song?
“What genre do you prefer?” Joey pressed on.
Lia took pity. “Classics. British Romanticism. Jane Austen.”
The whole table looked at her. “I just thought that since the music conversation wasn’t working for anyone, we might consider branching out to books.”

Next Installment: Socially Interesting Malfunctionings

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wordworth's First Name Is Not Joey

First installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater
Previous installment: An Unsuccessful Escape

William Wordsworth’s poem “London, 1802” makes a strong statement about Joey the Romantic poet’s opinion on the state of England during this time period of rescheduled dates. He saw problems with cancelling dates that deeply disturbed his elevated spirit. In addition to sticking closely to the natural description that helps Romantic poetry resonate with Romantic sense and make a romantic mood, Wordsworth employs metonymy and overstatement to address the issues that he sees in England. Issues like not getting a date.
Wordsworth couldn’t get a date? Oh. That wasn’t Wordsworth. Lia shook her head, and turned to Amber, who was sitting on the couch next to her, talking about her dating problems.
“It’s just that Joey might think that I’m not interested in him, and I really am!” Amber continued on. “I didn’t want to cancel those two dates. Work called, and I had to go in. I didn’t have a choice.”
“You told Joey that, didn’t you?” Lia asked while looking at the paragraph she had just typed into her laptop. How on earth had Joey and dating wound up in the introduction for her Romantic poetry close reading paper?
“Of course I did. But it’s happened twice.”
“And you explained both times, yes?” Lia asked, slouching down and extending her neck to reach towards her laptop. That paragraph was utter nonsense. She shuddered a little, and looked back and forth from that nonsense and the textbook at her side. Nope. No more of that poem and paper for now.
“But it looks like I’m brushing him off,” Amber worried.
Lia dug about in the stack of books on the floor and retrieved another thick volume, tossing the Romantic English literature anthology she’d been using onto the coffee table. “Young Goodman Brown” seemed like a good reversal to get her mind working in a different way. She’d write that paper instead.
“And I’m not brushing him off. I have to work,” Amber went on.
“If you told him that, then he knows that,” Lia said while flipping open her American literature book to the section on Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was an interesting writer.
“But what if he thinks I’m lying?”
Lia propped the book on her lap, and poised her fingers for typing before answering, “He’s a guy. Guys tend not to overthink things like we do. He probably believes you.”
Lia started her paper while Amber carried on about her concerns.
No one is sinless in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” about Joey when a thematic climax reveals that the episteme of the dating scene in this apartment complex is not true to the expectations of the woman to my right.
Shoulders drooped, Lia stopped typing again. Maybe this paper wasn’t going to work either. She decided to try the Wordsworth essay again. These were both due tomorrow, and she didn’t have a lot of time to waste. So with Amber still talking, Lia pulled up the document containing her other work in progress. She started typing away, hoping to get some ideas out that she could then form into a coherent paper.
The chance to go on a date with Joey has been corrupted by the gentility’s love of money and the luxuries obtainable by marrying a rich engineer and the power that comes with that money despite the morals and teachings that go against such luxuries. Noblesse oblige seems to be going out of the picture, which is why Joey hasn’t tried to reschedule for the third time. These metonymical examples describe which area of England’s man pool needs improvement, and it seems that to Wordsworth, the damage is widespread. rgrgvloireabn[0vtjhovrnuave;onivahnijavegn;’
Lia slammed her hands down onto the keyboard a few more times to vent her rage. Wordsworth had never written about the man pool or Joey or any other such nonsense! How was she supposed to write her papers with Amber constantly inserting her love woes into her paragraphs about metonymy and episteme?
She turned her head so quickly towards Amber she could hear some bones cracking and her hair hit her the face. She forced a smile onto her face as she placed her laptop onto the coffee table. “Amber. I am very busy. I have papers to write. They’re due tomorrow.”
“I just don’t know what to do about Joey!” Amber lamented.
“Oh, I do,” Lia said determinedly as she rose. “I know exactly what to do. You stay here. I’ll be right back.”
And with that admonition, Lia swooshed out of her apartment and down the hall towards apartment 9. Joey had better be home. Joey had better open the door. Joey had better know what’s good for him. Lia felt that her face didn’t have its usual charming smile, but she was too peeved to worry about that right now. Joey was going to answer for those horrid paragraphs she had typed under duress. This was all his fault!
Apartment 9’s door was before her. She knocked quickly and loudly. A knock that demanded immediate attention. The door was barely opened by Micah before she pushed through the small crack and scanned the room with her eyes.
Joey was sitting on the couch, doing his homework in peace. How dare he?
“YOU! Joey. Pay attention to me,” Lia commanded.
Joey looked up, startled. This was not how Lia generally acted. “Yes?”he asked.
Lia moved to stand right in front of Joey. Since he was seated, she was taller than him for once. Possibly she was even looming over him. That made her feel better already. But she wasn’t done yet. She jabbed a finger so close to him it was almost poking his chest, and said, “You are going to take Amber on a date. You are going to ask her out and take her out. Is that understood?”
Joey blinked.
“I asked, is that UNDERSTOOD?” Lia said in her best nanny drill sergeant voice.
“Yes. Understood. I was planning on it,” Joey assured her.
“Thank you for your time. Carry on with your duties,” Lia said to the two boys. “Micah, the door.”
The door was opened, and a much happier Lia left apartment 9. Her troubles had just decreased dramatically, and she was tickled pink about it all.  Gaily skipping down the hall, she thought about her Wordsworth paper and what she would actually write about without Joey interrupting. She entered her apartment and, smiling grandly, sat down by Amber.
“Amber,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about a thing. Joey will ask you out again.”
Amber smiled and made a girly noise of delight. Lia felt proud that she had done the right thing. Amber was happy and satisfied, and now Lia could be happy and satisfied and intelligent while writing her papers.
Only not exactly, because only a minute later, something truly horrid happened.
...In addition to overstating the problems in England, Wordsworth overpraises Milton’s great accomplishments as a writer and influence on the people. According to Wordsworth, Milton put his own heart under the “lowliest duties” because he was so humble and good. Together the overstatements show that England is a dastardly place that needs an angel like Joey to light a path of redeeming dates for Amber before too long.
“GAH!” Lia shouted. Was this woman never sated? Why couldn’t she stop talking about Joey for five minutes. “Amber, Joey said he was going to ask you out, so what are you worried about now?”
“When will he do it? What if he asks and I have to work again?”
“Give me three minutes,” Lia said gruffly, shoving books and laptop aside and rushing out the door. She practically ran down the hall, the dignified march she had assumed during her last trip a thing of the far distant past. She reached apartment nine, gave half a knock, and burst into the place. Micah and Joey looked up in surprise as Lia came right up to Joey, who was still on the couch, leaned in, and glared at him. A burning, ferocious glare. A frightening glare. A glare only capable by the thwarted English major with papers to be written and a deadline breathing down her neck.
“When.” It came out as a statement. Or a threat.
Joey blinked some more. “When what?”
“When are you going to ask her. When will the date be. Tell me. Now.”
“We were thinking a lunch date for Saturday. We were waiting for Brandon to find a date so we could make it a double.”
Lia leaned back, and looked down her nose at the brunet man on the couch. “Thank you for your cooperation. Make sure that Brandon gets a date soon. Soon, do you hear?”
“I think he has someone in mind.”
“I’ll count on that then,” Lia said while walking to the door. Before she closed the door behind her, she turned and said, “It had better be soon.” And with that, she closed the door and walked grumpily back to her place.
Amber was still sitting in the same place when Lia came back in. Instead of taking her former seat beside Amber, Lia took the other girl by the arm and pulled her to standing, and then brought her towards the door.
“Amber, you’re a wonderful friend, but I have two papers to write and no time in which to accomplish that feat. Joey is going to ask you out soon for a Saturday lunch date. He was waiting on Brandon to find a date so that they could make it a double date. That’s why he hasn’t asked yet,” Lia explained shortly. They were now by the door. She opened it for Amber to leave.
Instead, Amber turned to her and said, “I hope that Brandon doesn’t find a date.”
Lia made a noise halfway between a strangled goat and a dehydrated llama. She retook possession of Amber’s arm and pulled her out of the apartment, and started leading her down to Amber’s place. “Brandon is a nice guy,” she said in an attempt to make the situation seem less hostile.
“Yeah, but I want it to be just me and Joey,” Amber said. “Without Brandon and another girl.”
“Well, that will be up to Brandon and the other girl,” Lia said. She left Amber at the girl’s door, and turned around, making it quickly down the hall and almost back home when she heard her name being called. “WHAT do you want?” she demanded while turning, expecting to see Amber following her.
Only Amber didn’t have a deep, booming bass voice, and didn’t look like an Italian chef or mafia member, and she definitely wasn’t a man. No, Lia had wheeled about to find a confused Brandon behind her.
“Oh. Hi Brandon. Sorry about that,” Lia said. “I thought you were someone else.”
“Um, okay,” replied Brandon. Lia realized how dumb that excuse sounded since Brandon was probably the person least likely to be confused with anyone else in the entire apartment complex. Oh well. It was the truth.
“What can I do for you?” Lia asked, thinking about her papers already.
“I was just wondering if you’d like to go out to lunch on Saturday. At about one?” Brandon asked with his winning smile.
“Sure, sure,” Lia replied absently. “That sounds great. I like lunch.”
“Great!” Brandon boomed. “I’ll see you Saturday!” And then Brandon left.
Lia mumbled some farewell, and then continued to her place while looking at the ground before her, focused intently on what she should write for her conclusion. Conclusions were hard. They had to be good, concise, and leave a good taste in the reader’s mouth, or the whole paper was basically ruined. As she shut the door behind her, Lia paused. She looked up.
Brandon had just asked her to lunch on Saturday. Saturday lunch date. Brandon and Joey. Joey and Amber. Brandon had no date. But now he did. Lia. Lia was Brandon’s date. Lia was going to go on a double date with Amber.
Amber would not be getting her wish of a date alone with Joey.
Lia was toast.

Next installment: The Zero-eth Date

Sunday, February 23, 2014

WANTED: People Who Like Reading And Criticizing (And Being Kind About It)

Dear Persons,

I am seeking several intelligent individuals who enjoy reading, and have no problems sharing their opinions with others. Especially with the person that wrote the reading material.

In my last post, I mentioned a writing project that I was working on. I am looking for some help in creating deadlines and accountability to keep me motivated and moving along.

This is NOT The Story, which can be found in installments starting with that link at the beginning of the sentence. You should probably know that that story is amazingly wonderful, and quite hilarious. I could be biased because it's the story of how Andrew and I met and fell in love. But that's not what I need your help with. (Don't worry, though, that is also continuing in the works. I actually have some more of that to put up on the blog. Probably this week. So you may want to review the old installments as a refresher!)

No. This is another story. A unique and interesting thing. And I want people who are willing to read it, and be prepared to tell me what they like about it, and what doesn't really work.

Writing is something that I enjoy, and that helps me to stay sane and myself (are those two states of being even compatible?) even when times are difficult. I haven't been doing enough of it lately because I haven't really been motivated. I want to, but there's nothing to really make me do it. I hypothesize that having people depending on me to deliver a manuscript portion on a certain day will help me to get my act together.

If you live near me, you will be compensated by a) being able to read my incredible writings, b) possibly some baked goods, and c) my deep and sincere gratitude. If you don't live near me, you'll definitely get perks a and c, and I'll see what I can do about perk b.

If you are interested, leave a comment below, or get hold of me in any of the other ways that you normally do that. If you aren't interested, but know someone that loves editing (like me), and might enjoy this kind of thing, then let them know about it.

If you are possibly interested, but want a sampling first, then let me know, and I'll give you a sampling for a taste-testing.

Cheers! And thank you for your consideration,

Mine Own Self

PS. But for real, people, let me know. I really want some help!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Maintenance Man: A Thriller

We live in an apartment complex. That means that sometimes management sends around people for maintenance checks, appearance upkeep checks, and the suchlike. On occasion they send out notices to say that the maintenance people will be coming into your apartment, and they give you a two-week period of when that will happen.

I don't always handle these situations very well. Especially after an experience I had when we first moved here, and a guy came over while Andrew was gone, and he was here for several hours, and I was uncomfortable and couldn't really get him to leave. I didn't open my blinds or make a noise (seriously, I didn't even play any music) for weeks after that because I was afraid that he or someone like that would come back. I was a bit like the Grinch when he was sliding about, slithering on the floor to get places.

And I don't know if you know this, but some pregnant women have incredibly active, horrid, graphic, and horrifying nightmares. Suffice it to say that with my already overactive imagination, I've had enough nightmares of a certain nature to be afraid of anyone being in my apartment ever.

A while ago, there was an apartment wide pretty-fication going on, and that included people coming over and switching out the window blinds. Now this was a very good thing seeing as one of my blinds had fallen off and broken, and I was using a scroungy looking towel in its place. Very attractive. But I'd lately had a string of nasty nightmares regarding ruffians of the worst sort breaking in and becoming violent.

Andrew was at work, and I was feeling jittery, so I called Mama up for our not-regularly-spaced-out-but-frequently-occurring chat. I was lounging on my bed, gabbing away with Mama, telling her about the dreams in all of their horrifying and disgusting detail, when I heard something faint and eerie. I stopped talking. It was the sound of a deadbolt sliding. Someone was trying to get into my home while I was telling Mama about my nightmares about people trying to get into my home! I have two deadbolts, one of which can only be operated from inside, so the intruder couldn't come in. But someone was trying to get into my house. And I was absolutely terrified.

"I think someone's trying to break in," I whispered to my mother. I peeked my head around the bedroom door frame, and the deadbolt actually was moved. It wasn't my imagination. I could hear someone pushing against the door to open it.

But of course, that quickly became this.

And I backed into my room, closed and locked the door, and looked around, trying to figure out what to do. I decided that if someone actually made it in, my best option was to run screaming through the bedroom window.

Never mind the fact that I live on the ground floor. That, along with most other facts, is irrelevant in my zoom out scenes of dramatic intensity.

My heart was beating so frantically that I almost couldn't hear my mother on the phone. I was seconds away from bursting through the window panes when I heard:


Maintenance? MAINTENANCE? I completely collapsed on the bed. Why hadn't they STARTED with that approach, instead of just trying to let themselves in?  Andrew:  Though, with the way that Tashya and her mother talk, and all the way in the back room, who KNOWS how long they were there knocking first! My heart started slowing from its pittering hysteria to beats so hard that they actually hurt my chest.

The knock and bellow came again. I didn't move. After nearly killing me with fright, they deserved to be inconvenienced by having to come back again later.

Mama spoke soothingly to me between spurts of spouts against that kind of behavior. And when Mama had to end the phone call, I just stayed on my bed, quivering under/in/around/on top of/through/tangled in my fuzzy pink blanket.

I didn't go out for lunch. I didn't get up for the afternoon. For hours, I hid, not willing to make sounds lest those people (who were portrayed in my imagination as the baddies from nightmares) come back and demand entrance to my home. Andrew had a real lump of joy to work with when he got home that evening. Good thing he's so wonderful.

But that was a few months ago. This time was different. I received a notice of entry for a routine maintenance check they do once a year. It was scheduled for one day, not a two week time period. I planned an outing to the library to avoid any scary encounters, find a book or two, and work on one of my writing projects (which, according to my sisters, is a very desirable read- I want to read it, too, and I'm mad that someone else hasn't written it so that I could just READ it already!). After a nice morning tidy, I was trying to decide between having a post-lunch nap, doing the dishes, and going to the library when I heard a voice outside my open window. He sounded older. I heard him say, "I've got to go now, honey. I have a lot of work to do. I love you." I thought he was adorable, and continued on trying to decide what to do.

It turns out that the adorable conversation maker was going to make my decision for me. There was a gentle knock on the door, which I opened to find a cheerfully smiling older man. He was standing there calmly, and politely asked if he could come in and do some maintenance.

I was so pleasantly surprised that I actually let him in. I did dishes while he did maintenance. He saw my open scriptures on the table, and gave me an approving smile. He asked if I went to church, and we talked about where we worshiped. I apologized for the baskets and boxes in his way- we're trying to make room for our baby. He gave hearty congratulations, and told me about his family.

So I, Natashya, did something brave today, and I didn't even almost die as a result. Rather, I met a kind maintenance man who loves his wife, and whose cheerful smile made me smile in return. I liked today much better than that time I didn't answer the door and was almost murdered in my bed by someone not even in my apartment. Which, you have to admit, would actually be pretty impressive.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ponderings on A Weekly Focus and Goal Making

I have a friend who's pretty brilliant. I look up to her in a lot of ways. Her name is Tanney, and she has a blog called Our Fairy Tale that she maintains much better than I maintain this here blog of mine. There are two blogs that I actually read, hers and my friend Michele's, because I love them and I miss them.

Our Fairy Tale

And you know what? For a while, I tried to be like other bloggers. I tried to do the different link-ups and different daily designations of topics, like Tasty Tuesdays and what not. I tried to fit in with the blogging world. And then I got bored and stopped. I'm not that kind of blogger. I'm the kind of person who just likes to sit down and write a note to my friends and family, or to myself, add some dumb pictures I created on the fly, and then call it good. And that works for me.

BUT my friend Tanney has a link-up that I actually think is a good idea. It makes sense. She calls it the Weekly Focus. You know what I think? I think that a lot of people make yearly goals, and then forget to make plans to attain those ideals. I think that people neglect the fact that it is the everyday and weekly adjustments that make the most considerable difference in the outcomes of our actions. Having a weekly focus is a great way to gear your attentions on a specific area in which you aim to gain greater control and achievement. 

So I shall participate in this link-up. I doubt that anyone will really read this post, since it has none of my nonsensical pictorials or hair brained witticisms, but that is absolutely fine. I have thoughts and ponderings on this subject, and as a true student of my subject, I'm going to write about them.

If you hadn't noticed from some previous posts, pregnancy and I do not always get along like good chums. Sometimes we don't even get along as well as the snot-nosed geek and the snot-everything-elsed bully on the school playground. One of the biggest problems is hormones, mood swings, that part of you that rises up and fights with the other part of you for no other purpose than to make you confused and irately irrational. This just makes me more upset, since I'm not the kind of girl who was granted monthly practice with these evils during my formative years. Nope. Hormone-induced idiocy to this extent is new, horrid, and blatantly stupid. 

I made a goal that I would stop being ridiculous about my hormone swings. Actually, I called Mama in a fit of tears and begged her to tell me what to do. She suggested that I learn to differentiate between myself and the hormones, because getting upset at myself when there was not always a lot I could do was just pointless and aggravating to the situation. As usual, Mama was right. And that's when I made the goal to stop being ridiculous about how I reacted to hormonal swings.

But that's a tall order, isn't it?

So what was I supposed to do? Just stop it? That wouldn't work. That wouldn't work at all. If that were an option, I think more pregnant women before me would have opted for that one. You can't really effectively work for a goal if there isn't a way to have applicable, practical, and viable steps of achievement along the road to the ultimate finish. Rather than declaring brashly that I am no longer going to be ridiculous about the most ridiculous part of pregnancy, I must rather detail blatantly the steps that I will take when I come into a situation that would test this goal of mine.

For example, please consider the following:

1. I become overly emotional regarding the selection of a dinner item. I am disheartened that no dinner selection is made, that Andrew isn't more specific in what he wants to eat, that I am now very hungry, that I have no reason to be so emotionally upset over this decision process and I am anyway, and that all of this is pathetically lacking in any kind of result, especially results that would lead to us eating dinner any time soon.

2. What do I do? I have a goal to be non-ridiculous about my hormones influencing my reactions and actions and feelings. But HOW do I make that an application right now, when it actually matters?

3. I have to recognize that the hormones aren't necessarily me, and that I should stop getting more upset at myself. If I'm trying to fight a battle against irrationality, my rational side getting beaten up by my rational side itself is not going to help anyone.

4. I should take a step back from the situation. Is there an underlying cause for this? Well, when I get hungry, I'm not known for my charm and easy-going nature. Could my hormones be aggrandizing this typical reaction of mine to megalithic proportions? It could be that having a quick snack could help me to be more realistic about what is happening.

5. I should do something about the actual problem. We need dinner? Well, shoot. Let's have something for dinner. Even if it's cereal as a placeholder till we can find a real supper, that's still something for now. Stopping looking for grand, miraculous ways out, and do something small and simple while you can.

6. Maybe tonight is a crisis because nothing was done to prepare for this moment earlier. I can avoid future repetitions of this problem by making sure that dinner articles are prepared earlier. Meat to be thawed can be stuck in the fridge to defrost, menus can be made so that there are no decisions to be made nightly, shopping can be done so that ingredients are available to use. 

Do you see what I mean? There has to be a method in which to apply your goal to your actual real life. Your life isn't a hypothesis, so don't make goals like it is one. Make goals that are livable by having steps you can actually do on the way to becoming that goal.

And those are my ponderings on weekly focuses, which will help you to break down your bigger goal into manageable portions, and goal making. If nothing else, my head is clearer. That tends to happen when I write things down. I'm a writer. What can I say?

So, have any thoughts on the subject? Want to see what my friend Tanney has to say on it? You can read her blog post at that link right there. Happy thinkings!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Whenever I Try to Write About Us, I Write About Him Instead

Andrew happens to be one of my favorite people. In fact, I love him. I love him a lot. We make a pretty great couple, I think, and for a variety of reasons. I thought that I would take this opportunity to write about what makes us a working, functioning, happy, thrilled to be in love couple.

First of all, our couple song. It isn't your typical love song, but it's ours. And it makes me curl my toes with happiness every time I hear it. Andrew plays it for me on his trombone when I ask him to. Isn't that sweet?

Andrew feeds me. Sometimes literally by placing food in my mouth, and sometimes figuratively by bringing home the bacon. Actually, he always brings home the bacon. Andrew is a wonderful provider. We always have enough, and even though I tend to over worry when it comes to money, he is good at budgeting and being realistic.

Andrew works hard at his job, and I maintain the home. I love being a homemaker. I like cleaning and baking and organizing and making menus and folding laundry. When I can't, though, because I'm sick, Andrew is always there to step in and save the day. He is a champion Dish Doer, and every time I see a clean sink, I fall a little bit more in love with him.

We make each other smile. Not just nice, photogenic smiles. Real, big, sometimes slightly unattractive because they're too real smiles. And when I smile that second kind of smile, Andrew tells me I'm beautiful, that he loves my eyes when I smile like that because he can see the sparkle in them. And then I smile all the more because I feel beautiful and sparkling.

But we don't just stop at smiling, oh no. We laugh. When I first met Andrew, I thought he was a bit of a loon, but I knew that he was always good for a laugh. He is very quick on his feet, ready to banter with you, spinning words around as fast as I do, and he comes up with the most magnificent puns. Andrew tells me that I could do stand-up comedy, but anyone who has heard me try to tell a joke knows that this would not be the best idea. I think that I'll stick to writing!

Andrew doesn't just support me when I'm laughing, like that picture just above. He also catches me when I fall, even when I'm falling over because I'm being ridiculous instead of intelligent. Say, for example, that I was walking up a hill with him, only instead of walking I was skipping and singing some awesome opera, and I just happened to fall backwards in a stumbling chaotic fiasco into his arms. When Andrew is around, I never fall far before I am wrapped up in strong, warm, loving arms, and I feel safe and secure.

We also take the time to share sassy moments together. No relationship is complete when both parties are some completely timid and docile as to lack entertainment and fun. Balance must be achieved, and laughter must be shared.

Did you know that Andrew is a wonderful lead? He is. When we were still in the getting to know each other stage of our acquaintanceship, I found out that he knew how to swing and ballroom. I demanded that he dance with me, the word "demanded" meaning that I put on some music, grabbed his leg, and dragged him out to the hallway so we could have room to waltz. We still enjoy impromptu dancing.

He's a fantastic lead, and the perfect height for me. I would follow him anywhere. He leads me through the most difficult challenges that I face, often by helping me to keep my focus on Christ. The best part is that he lets me help him, too. When he needs help, he turns to me, and then I get the chance to take his hand, and then we make it through together.

I love words. I love to read them, play with them, write them, ingest and digest them, and have a great time with them. Andrew also loves to read, and that makes him intelligent. He has a wide range of interests, and he makes it a point to learn about them through reading. Not only does this make for stellar conversations on a plethora of subjects ranging from history to culture to politics to class literature to scientific advancements to self-improvement to the gospel, it also makes for extraordinary word games. Like Scrabble and Boggle.

This is one of our more mild games, but one of which I had a photo I could share with you. But words like lave, hap, quantum, sine, taw, and tosh have made it into our games. Along with Old English words that we get into debates over. I think they should still be allowed. I read them enough.

We have inside jokes and special memories, like a wonderful series of books that became a crucial part of our relationship. We still quote it and laugh together.

Andrew is science and math and engineering where I am literature and art and fresh pineapple. I don't actually think that fresh pineapple is a course of study, but I wanted to keep the parallelism going, and I was short one scholastic or professional area. I love it when Andrew will give me lectures. He pulls out his trusty white board, and he explains to me the projects in which he is involved. He tells me about computer communication protocols using words like "sending a cute packet to your grandma" instead of UDP and FPGA. He is a natural teacher. He is also a natural learner, and listens to me as I wax philosophic about film adaptations of my favorite books, why students should not be forced to read The Catcher in the Rye, or why studying literature and history is so important.

Not only do we appreciate each other's strong suits in areas of expertise, we also share a great love of music. While I focus mainly on voice and piano, and he plays the trombone expertly, we manage to bring our tastes of music together for great enjoyment on all parts. When we are not playing together, he teaches me about new genres that I haven't much experience with, like classic jazz. And then I go back to listening to my Frank Sinatra and tell him to keep his jazz. And then we listen to Classical or Romantic or something else together. He lets me show him lots of musicals that I grew up with, like Pirates of Penzance and other required shows.

We do the important things in life together, even if that means taking way too many courses in a semester so that we can graduate together. We make decisions together, we eat dinner together, we go to church together, and we wake up every morning together.

We do our best to help each other accomplish important goals, like saving the Princess Zelda. I couldn't get out of the first stage without falling off houses and cliffs, and I so desperately wanted to save the princess! So Andrew played the game for me while I watched it like a movie, eating popcorn, offering useless advice, and memorizing all the songs for the Ocarina of Time.

We find areas of common interest that aren't purely academic or mental. We find things to entertain us, like bike rides and movies to obsess over. We like to watch the Avengers movies together, even though I spend a portion of each movie hiding my head in his shoulder because I don't like the scary or violent parts. He patiently screens those sections for me, and narrates what is going on so that I don't miss too much of the story line.

I would now like to take a break from trying to put me into some of these sections, and continue talking only about how great Andrew is. I would like to point out that if someone can look handsome in a band uniform, they are obviously very good looking.

Andrew is incredibly talented when it comes to music. One summer he put together a quartet of trombone players, arranged a bunch of music, and went off strolling in parades and such to his own music! And he even looks dapper in his fine outfit.

He buys me flowers, music, tablecloths, pearls and diamonds, kitchen gadgetry, books, exercise gear, fingernail polish, and anything else that he thinks will make me happy. He sends me out to visit family when I need them, even though he misses me terribly while I'm gone. He supports me bringing siblings out here, for my benefit or theirs, for a month at a time. He sees when I'm having a down day, and tells me to call my mother, sisters, or friends Tanney and Michele, because he knows they make me happy.

He takes me places so I can dress up. He loves it when I dress up, and he tells me that I'm beautiful. He makes me feel beautiful whether I've done my hair and makeup or not. He makes me want to smile that smile that makes my eyes sparkle, just because it makes him happy to see it.

I started this post by trying to describe how Andrew and I are a good match, and how we help to lift each other up. I ended up writing about how great Andrew is. Since the day we were married two years, six months, and two days ago, we have had a lots of ups and a lot of downs. Many of those downs were related to my health. Andrew never gave up, and he kept me going through it all.

I may be a lover of words, but I'm absolute garbage at writing poetry. But I can say this: Andrew is a wonderful man. He is a wonderful husband. In April, he is going to be a wonderful father. I do what I can to lift him, strengthen him, help him, encourage him, and fill him out every day. Our marriage is not one sided. I don't need to be extra concerned with making sure that I get taken care of, because he's busy doing that. I get to make sure that he is taken care of. We focus on each other, and on the Lord. That is why our marriage works. That is why our relationship is better, not shaken, after our hardships. And I love Andrew. I love him more every day. He makes me happy, and I do everything that I can to make him happy, too.

Happy Valentine's Day, Andrew Mine Prince.

Loves, hugs, and kisses, The Happiest Woman In the World