Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Fluff

First, a little digression…

Today in my office, we are having a Christmas potluck, and it makes me bitter.

Why? Because we voted on whether or not we wanted a potluck for our Christmas party (a different event held last week) and we all decided against it because work potlucks are always a sucky hassle.

Nothing ever matches (you have green bean casserole and tamales), nothing’s at the right temperature (fruit salad is hot and little hot dogs are cold), and then no one ever cleans up after themselves so there’s drops of crap everywhere.


Hence (I don't think we use 'hence' enough), I was thrilled that we opted to go to a pizza place for our Christmas party instead. And then this week came, and people started saying “We should do something for Friday!” And soon, it spiraled out of control and we have ourselves a potluck. Ugh.

So, needless to say, I was bugged this morning that I had to get up at the crack of dawn to prepare meatballs (a special request from my boss, so what could I do).

And also, needless to say, I drove to work today irritated at everyone around me and bugged that I had to drive carefully so I didn’t have a meatball crock-pot incident.

So, you can imagine my anger when someone cut me off, making me slam on my brakes and causing a “swoosh” of sauce spillage.

The driver wasn’t even paying attention! He was leaning over into the passenger seat fiddling with something I couldn’t see. As I was getting ready to honk, and give him the evil eye, a little head pops up in the passenger seat: a little head wearing reindeer antlers clearly hand crafted for a school production!

And with that, my anger melted, a smile crept onto my face, and I felt like Ms. Scrooge McGrinch for ever having mean thoughts about anyone—even my co-workers who thought it would be fun to have a crappy potluck.

Okay, now on to some fluff!

Really, today should be called “In the News” because that’s what I’ve got.

First, did you hear about this? How does this even work? Is it just in name, only? Or are we going to have to get our passport stamped when we go to Nebraska? (wink, wink Knecht’s)

Second, I thought all of these were true! Didn’t you? And I don’t have to drink water! What? How is that possible?

Third, if only he had lived. Who knows what would have happened! Could you imagine going to the temple and seeing Elvis! “Sweet Land of Liberty” that would have been fantastic!!! And if you think it’s really all bunk, check this out. You can’t get more truth then from one of the Osmond’s, can you?

Well, there you go.

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas filled with people you love, and the Spirit of the season, namely, the Savior of us all!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Embarrassed Elizabeth Explains Everything (How's that for alliteration!)

Well, I have a confession to make. And I hope that once I do, you don’t think less of me and we can still be friends. Please, still be my friend!

Honestly, I wasn’t going to tell anyone, EVER, but I now realize that I kind of want to talk about it because it’s got me thinking (and you know how I am about that). So, despite my embarrassment (and a little shame), I’m going to tell you…

(deep breath) Here it is (sigh):

I’m reading a book I saw on Oprah!

There, I said it. (I'm a little shaken, but feel better getting it out.)

Now, let me add that the reason I’m embarrassed is not because I think Oprah has lousy taste (although some of her choices throw me for a loop). Truthfully, a lot of the books she’s had in her book club I’ve already read or had planned on reading.

It’s just that I hate going along with the masses. You know what I mean?

And I hate that people might see me reading a book she’s chosen (especially if it has the little “Oprah Book Club” emblem on it which I avoid like a sack of dead fermenting eels) and think that the only reason I’m reading it is because Oprah said so and I’m a mindless lemming.

Don’t get me wrong. Do I think it’s a good thing to get people all over the country, nay, the world (why limit Oprah’s power), reading?


But am I afraid that some (i.e. a lot) might be reading it just because Oprah DID say so and they want to be a part of the “in” crowd?


So this is all to say that never in my life have I read or thought of reading a book suggested by Oprah at the same time that everyone and their grandma is reading it, too.

But I am. So, there you go.

“Why, Liz, why?” you might be asking.

“Well, because of my big mouth, that’s why.”

You see, now that I’ve decided this coming year is going to be the “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” I’ve had to inform some people in my office that although I’m not “technically” enrolled in school, I’m planning on auditing a few writing classes this semester, so I’ll be re-arranging my schedule.

This has lead people to ask me “Huh?” which caused me to briefly explain my “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” plans.

And this caused a particular woman in my office to squeal (and I do mean squeal) “Oh, how exciting! This reminds me of a book I’m reading from Oprah.” At this, I should have feigned a seizure, but I wasn’t quick enough.

She went on to add “The author is going to be on Oprah today. I’m taping it, so I’ll bring it in so you can watch it tomorrow.” At this point, I should have said, well, anything to excuse myself. But, my mind went blank with horror because I realized I was trapped. I was going to have to watch it. (This co-worker would be deeply hurt and offended if I didn’t and I’m too nice a person to do that.)

Long story short (which I guess at this point is impossible), last week she taped it, brought it, I watched it, and got the book.

I’m consoling myself, slightly, because it’s not actually a book club book.

But, still, I’m embarrassed.

In the end (although I’m not completely done with it yet, but will be by the weekend), this book has given me a lot to think about. I don’t agree with the author on a number of things, but I’m always interested in how other people go about the journey of life, their search for higher meaning or purpose, and the way they connect to God.

“What’s the book?” you ask.

Part II coming next week, maybe, because it is Christmas, so I might be busy…

Monday, December 17, 2007


Did I tell you I adopted a child?


Well, I did (sort of).

Here she is.

Her name is Lyka, she’s 7 and lives in the Philippines.

I adopted her from Children International after this organization came highly recommended from someone I trust.

I just wanted to do something more, you know. I mean, I pay my tithing and fast offerings, as well as contribute to the humanitarian fund, perpetual education fund, etc.

But, I’ve been looking for something else I could do. And since I don’t have any children of my own, I thought, why not help out a specific child whose cute picture I can look at!

And now I have little Lyka.

I’m telling you all this for one reason: In case you want to do it, too!

It’s less than a dollar a day.

So, think about it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Commute Contemplation, Part II

Read Part I.

You see, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. What does that mean, exactly? I’ll give you an example from my past: if I didn’t get an A on a paper, (even if it was an A- or B+) I felt like a failure. I might as well have received an F, because that’s how I felt. See, all or nothing.

That’s how I’ve looked at my life, and it’s a very unhealthy and depressing perspective—trust me.

What this means in the present (and what the little painter man taught me) is that although I can’t live my “ideal”, and can bring some of it into my “real.”

So, I’ve been asking myself:

What have I always wanted to be? Do?

How have I wanted to live, but haven’t because I thought/think it was/is impossible?

In the past when I've asked these questons, my stupid “all or nothing” thinking would bum me out because my ideal seemed like a pipe-dream and a waste of mental exertion.


If I could live my ideal, I would be somewhere in Ireland, in a cute little cottage like this, and would be a full-time writer/ part-time university professor. That’s my ideal. And because it’s not very likely to happen (unless a wealthy Irish benefactor is reading this and thinks I’m fabulous), I haven’t even bothered attempting any part of the dream.

But that’s where I’ve been wrong.

So, what am I doing about it now? What part of my ideal am I carving into my mundanely real life?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. I’ve decided to begin working with one of my professors on my poetry/short story portfolio this coming semester so that I can use it to apply to grad. schools for an M.F.A. in creative writing.

2. I’m going to create deadlines, charts, and programs for myself to keep on target. And tell others (i.e. you guys) about it so you will also help hold me accountable.

3. I’m going to get a new blog started that will be wholly dedicated to this effort. (I’ve done this, but haven’t posted anything yet. When I do, I’ll let you know (see #2).)

4. I’m going to start seriously revising poems to begin submitting them to literary journals.

5. I’m going to start a writing workshop group to help me. (Any takers?)

6. I’m going to begin attending readings and other writer-ish-type things to be inspired.

This is what I’m going to do in the New Year.


Will it be a success? I don’t know. But I’m tired of putting things off, being afraid of failing, and letting the only life I have slip away.

So, I’m now asking you, my friends, will you join me? Will you make this your “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” too?

What have you always wanted to do? Be? Think about it, and decide to set some goals to make it a part of your life! (And if you need some friendly support, drop me a comment and I’ll become a monkey on your back!)

And remember my new motto: Start painting even if you’re standing in mud!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Commute Contemplation

Each day as I drive home from work, I go through a ritual; I descend from the ideal to the real. Let me explain.

I work on a college campus. Though small, the campus has some very beautiful old buildings, and I just love the atmosphere! I love walking outside my office and seeing all the students rushing to their classes. I love hearing the bells toll the time in the clock tower, listening to the sounds of the fountains, absorbing all the flowers, trees, green grass, and walking by all the quaint houses that line Third Street. It’s wonderful!

At the end of my work day, I get into my car, leave the splendor of my little campus and begin traveling down Foothill (part of what was once Route 66—or still is, depending on who you ask). Foothill takes me through some of the Claremont Colleges and I love this part of my drive (except for the lowered speed limit). I love the craftsman-style homes, the beautiful school buildings (I’m a sucker for architecture if you haven’t already guessed.), and again, the overall atmosphere of a college campus.

But within a few minutes, I drive through all of this and into the other side of town. Here, I see hubcap shops, tattoo parlors, and dens of iniquity. There’s some kind of rock quarry, sections of just plain dirt, and nothing that I would describe as beautiful. This part of my commute is ugly, really really ugly.

I leave behind what is beautiful, and drive into what is barren. This has become a metaphor, if you will, for my life: The ideal and the real. And I take this physical and mental journey every day.

But yesterday, I saw something that made me look at things with new eyes. (Don’t you just love when something like that happens?) As I crossed over to the dark side of my drive, I saw a car pulled over, kind of catawampus, in front of one of the, aforementioned, sections of dirt. It was an old car, pretty beat up, and badly in need of a paint job. And it took me a few seconds before I saw the owner of the car, a few meters ahead, in the center of the dirt lot.

There he was surrounded by, well, nothing but mud, and he had set up an easel and was painting — not what was around him, but what he saw in the distance: the majestic snow-capped mountains. He was firmly situated in the “real,” but he was focused on something bigger, something greater than himself, something “ideal.”

Was he physically in the beauty of the mountains? No. But was he mentally? Yes. Did he let his actual situation rob him from appreciating all that this world holds? No. He saw something beautiful, pulled over his crappy car, hauled out his stuff, and began to capture it. The barren spot of dirt was a gift, and gave him an unobstructed view of the mountains!

After witnessing this last night (and almost pulling over to talk to him), I’ve been pondering on what he’s taught me. And I’ve been re-evaluating my life.

Stay tuned for Part II. (Not that this is exciting, or anything. It’s just that it’s going to be a long post, and I don’t know about you, but if I see a lengthy post, I tend to get overwhelmed and not bother reading it. Although, you can, of course, not bother anyway. Although, if you’ve read this far, then you have bothered, and I thank you!)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Fluff

Well, I’ve been meaning to post all week. You know how it is…

I’ve even started a number of posts about*:

1. The rest of Sister Beck’s speech and the dumb questions that followed
2. Witnessing the spirit work in my young women
3. Mitt Romney and how he’s affected my office life
4. My decision on Grad. School
5. Why I hate bean sprouts

But, by the time I sit down to type, I get about three sentences in and say, “Ah, who cares.” And I end up staring out my window in a stupor.

So, with that, here's something that caught my attention.

Don’t you wish things were this simple? You need God (or gods, as the case may be) to give you some advice or witness testimony on your life, so you just summons him/them!

Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I’m participating in a “write a poem a day” thing during the month of December. Each day you're given a specific prompt. I’d link to it, but, I’ve posted some REALLY crappy poems over there, and I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my nearest and dearest. (I know, like I already haven't. But still, these are really bad.)

Anyway, one of the prompts was one of my favorite Billy Collin’s poems. So, I’d thought I’d post the link to it here. This perfectly captures a big problem for me and my mind.

Until next time…

*I’m still working on these, (well, not the bean sprouts one) so stay tuned. Eventually I’ll get around to posting them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's a Miracle!

Well, after almost throwing in the towel 37 times, I did it, I finished my first NaNoWriMo novel and became a winner!

With a certificate and everything! (Which I will be happy to show you in all it's glory if you stop by my apartment.)

And let me tell you, it was hard work to keep writing, because not only was I exhausted most nights, but I also knew that just about every word was crap. (And that is hard on the ego.)

Yay for trite and terrible prose!

I mean, really, my last 20,000 words were worse than the first 30,000. And by the end there, I was just phoning it in.

In fact, here are a few plot devices I almost included in order to increase my word count:

1. Abbott (my heroine) would be abducted by aliens. And I, of course, would have to describe every experiment they tried on her.

2. Max and Sabine (Abbott's parents) would have a dream sequence which would include a HUGE dance number a' la "Brigadoon" that I would describe in all it's boring detail. They would then take this dance on the road.

3. Declan (Abbott's fella) would have led a life as an international spy (before he became a baker) and he would tell Abby all about it.

4. Abbott and Declan would get a call to leave Otterville in order to save the world from a black hole that is going to engulf our solar system.

If you think these are bad ideas, you should read what I actually ended up doing to push the plot forward (which you won't, because I will NEVER EVER let anyone EVER read it. EVER!)

But, in the end, I did it. I wrote 50,000 horrible words.

I think I'm going to have to retire my stupid imagination, now, until next November when I attempt this again.

Maybe by then, I'll actually come up with some good ideas.

Or, most likely, not.

Oh, well.

I get an "A" for effort though, right?