May 24, 2013

Getting Older, or Get Off My Boat!

I went on a cruise a couple of weeks ago. Headed out from New Orleans, five nights on the boat, a stop in Progresso and a stop in Cozumel. Jill turned 30 at the end of last month. We went to Disney World last year when I turned 30. (To celebrate my maturity, you see. Nothing really celebrates getting older like whizzing around Space Mountain while pretending Star Trek is real and you are an important crew member (wearing a NOT red shirt) on some exciting mission in unchartered space. Yep. I'm a grown-up. I do want to mention that we did NOT go to Harry Potter land while in Florida. We thought about it. But I'm not sure I could handle that, to be honest. Not that I'd go nuts and start trying to use my novelty wand for real or anything (though there is a precedent for such behavior), but that it would all feel fake and cheap. I prefer that Hogwarts live in my imagination. It's safer in there. And it was about an extra $100, just to get in. Real Jamie response: I'm not that rich. Magical Jamie response: True magic cannot be bought with muggle money.)

Ten thousand parenthetical phrases later... back to the boat, which is how we decided to celebrate Jill's 30th birthday.

This was our boat: Carnival Elation

I thought our boat was big until I saw it parked next to a real boat, like this.
That boat is even bigger than my blog.

I don't think cruising is for me. I had a nice time, but I couldn't help think about how I would design my perfect cruise. It'd be a cruise for introverts. All tickets much be purchased online. A Myers-Briggs personality quiz would be required before purchase, and anyone with a result starting with an "e" will be blocked from the site. No one is allowed to book for a party larger than 2. No talking on deck. All deck chairs will be at least one extra deck-chair width apart. Instead of dances and talent shows (seriously, there were talent shows), there would be movies and reading time. All of the dining room tables would be booths with tall backs, and the waiters would not allowed be to talk to you about anything other than food. One waiter on our boat plopped down at a table, and belted out some romantic pop song. And sang the entire thing like he was auditioning for American Idol. That waiter would not get hired for my Introvert Cruise. The people that clapped and loved it would not be allowed as passengers on my cruise. One night, another waiter stopped at our table and, without a word, took away some of Jill's silverware. Silverware she needed, in order to eat like a non-cave-person. It was a little weird, but we appreciated the no talking. I would hire that waiter.

Moral of the story: I don't like people. Also, vacations that heavily incorporate make-believe are way better than vacations that don't.

Best. Story. Ever.

Admin note: Sorry, I don't know why this got reposted. It didn't happen again. It really wouldn't be funny a second time.

My sister decorated her room this weekend, and hung a Harry Potter "Platform 9 3/4" sign just outside her door.

A sign just like this.

Now, we all know I like Harry Potter and I also like to be silly. (No, I didn't mean to type "annoying." I meant silly, as in awesome and hilarious.) So upon seeing this sign, I thought it would be funny to run right into Jill's door, as if I was trying to catch the Hogwarts Express. For those that don't understand (A) Harry Potter or (B) my particular brand of high-brow humor, let me explain why this was going to be funny. Regarding point A: To catch the Hogwarts Express, young witches and wizards must run straight into the wall 3/4 of the distance between platform 9 and platform 10. Regarding point B: Jill really hates when I burst into her room, and is easily startled by loud noises. Also, people running into things is funny.

Let's recap: Jill hung up a new sign. She is in the room with her door closed, and hates sudden intrusions and loud noises. I see the sign and plan to run into her door.

Remember, it looks like this.

You know when you are telling a funny story, and you get so caught up in the build-up that you yourself almost forget the ending? And then, you have that moment where you remember the ending, and get this sinking realization that compared to all that build up, the ending is pretty lame? That's it's not so much a story as it is a twitter update? And not even a good, Kanye twitter update, but a regular boring twitter update that only your mom might reply to? And even then, she's not even replying to the twitter update as much as she just doesn't quite understand twitter and is just asking you to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home?

So I run into the door, and it being a crappy door, it does not hold my weight. Also, I don't think it was even closed all the way. I fall into Jill's room, running into piles of her stuff, and land face down on the carpet. She is furious and wants an explanation. I told her I was trying to see if I was a witch, and obviously my test had failed. I was in Jill's room getting yelled at, not on a train heading towards adventures that would surely be chronicled in the best-selling "Jamie Saunders and the Fairly Uneventful but Nonetheless Personally Fulfilling Year at Wizard School." Jill ended up thinking I was funny (as usual), and I walked back into my boring muggle room, my pride and face only slightly bruised.

But then I thought about it later. I DID make it through the wall, into another room. So results: inconclusive. The End. (Or is it?)

March 28, 2013

I thought this was blog worthy

I get mixed up by bear and bare. Mormons use the term often in the context of "bear/bare your testimony." People around my neck of the woods also like to talk about the right to "bear/bare arms." Which ever word I use, it feels wrong. Unless I'm talking about nekkid bears. Which I never am. (Well, except for right now.)

Put some clothes on. That ribbon hides nothing.

Bear arms or bare arms? (Don't even think about bare shoulders, though. Bear shoulders are ok to think about, but there's probably at least one topic more deserving of your attention.) Bear testimony? (Jim Halpert will testify that black bears are best.) Or bare testimony? Obviously we are talking about verbs, not nouns. To define "to bear" you need to know if you plan to use it with or without an object.

(Tangental rant about kids today: I used to run a weekly creative writing group at work. Anyone could come, there'd be some silly prompt or word game. One time, we played mad libs. Five people showed up. Only two people (including me) knew what nouns, adjectives, and verbs were. Not to mention crazy things like prepositions. These people were college students. They had graduated high school only about a year ago and did not know about nouns. These people are out there. Walking around, existing in society. Completely unaware that they are verbing all over the place.)

Back to bears. (Finally.) You know. I'm still distracted by that grammar memory. Imagine a 20-year-old asking you, "What's a noun?" It's a hard thing to recover from. Things like nouns and verbs are common knowledge, right? It's not just because I was an English major, or because I spent the last seven years quality testing early children's readings software, right? I need some reassurance. Then I can worry about bears.

Here, watch a video about apostrophes. I really hope you already know this, but... just in case. (Also, this is one of my favorite songs. It helps cheer me up. That pig is so heroic.)

March 5, 2013

Easter Sunday

For me, Easter morning had only one motivation: do NOT be the last one to find your Easter basket. My parents didn't do the more traditional Easter Egg Hunt with candy and plastic eggs scattered everywhere, waiting for the most resourceful or determined kid to find them all. My parents had five kids and knew the sacred value of fairness. Our Easter candy was divided equally into baskets, labeled, and then hidden. Also, they were hidden inside the house. No one in my family goes outside before 10 am. What are we, farmers?

Easter morning was like a mini-Christmas; Mom and Dad would make us wait in our rooms until we were called out. We all came out at once, and quietly but furiously began scouring the house for the Easter basket with our name on it. If we saw someone else's basket, we'd pretend we didn't see anything and discreetly move on. Every year, one of us would be the last to find it, and it would take FOREVER. And usually, everybody else had already seen where your basket was hidden. There was no greater shame.

I remember two specific instances where one final Easter basket taunted one of my siblings. (Also taunting: me and the other siblings.) The first was Jill's. We were all pretty young. In fact, I think it was just me and Jill and Carly. Jill was doomed from the start: my dad had hidden her basket while my mom had hidden mine and Carly's. My mom's basket hiding philosophy was something like "wouldn't it be funny to walk down stairs and see your basket hanging from the ceiling fan?" (I think my mom invented lulz.) My dad's basket hiding philosophy was more along the lines of "let's pretend I just murdered someone with this Easter basket and the cops were on their way over with a search warrant." Jill is still traumatized to this day over how long it took her to find that basket. (It was in the shower.)

Specific instance number two was a little cruel, now that I think about it. My brother, Jake, was afraid of the vacuum for many years of his life. He called it the "um" and would stay clear of the carpet until the vacuuming was finished. (Adorable!) I think you can see where this is going. Of course, the rest of us had found his basket, but for some reason, Jake had avoided opening the coat closet with the vacuum inside, his Easter basket perched on top. (Guess who hid it: mom or dad?) As we watched him wander around, looking in the oven, the shower (ever since Jill's fun year, that was one of the first places we looked), peering into the washing machine, we started to feel bad. So, to help him out, we all started humming "uuuummmm....." After he decided we weren't crazy, he realized what we were doing, and very quickly found his Easter basket.

December 6

cut-out paper snow
flakes on the window where we
watch the winter storm

(I saw a tv show where a woman wrote a haiku everyday to her daughter. It was cute, and I thought I could write a haiku once a day. Most will be crappy, but maybe once in a while I'll get a decent one. We'll see how that goes...)

Why I Don't Like Water Slides

When I was 12, the youth in my ward went on a "super activity" to Seven Peaks Waterpark. My friend talked me into going on what, as a neurotic 12-year-old, looked like a scary water slide. You sat in a pitch black tube and slid down the slide. For those of you unfamiliar with water slides, the concept is pretty basic: you start at the top, ride down, yell "whee!" into the dark void and land in the pool of water at the bottom. I was told that this was supposed to be fun. At Seven Peaks, you can rent a 1-rider tube, a 2-rider tube, or a 3-rider tube. One person in a tube goes down the slide slower than three people in a tube. (For those of you unfamiliar with gravity.) Expanding on this basic premise, it would seem obvious that one 12-year-old 80 pound little girl in a tube would go down much slower than three 30-year-old 250 pound dudes in a multi-rider tube. Knowing about gravity was clearly not a requirement for water slide technicians at Seven Peaks. (At least this was the case in 1994. My incident may have resulted in a recalibration of the water slide technician training.)

Now the water slide technicians job was to stand at the top of slide and tell you when to go down. Ideally, he or she is trying to space all the riders out somewhat evenly, so as not to clog the slide, but to keep the line moving. So he says "go!" to my friend, she goes, and I situate myself, nervously awaiting instruction to go. I hear her screaming echoed back up through the empty darkness of the tunnel. The clearly disinterested tech waves his hand at me. I look at him, unsure what to do. Annoyed, he yells "go!" So I go. I'm sliding down, trying to convince myself this is fun, tightly gripping the tube handles and not making any sounds at all. Soon, I hear the loud whooping that can only come from three 30-year-old developmentally arrested "dudes." I was no physics prodigy, but I could tell that the sound was coming up behind me much faster than I was moving. I held on tighter and closed my eyes. What else could I do? At about the middle of the slide, the dude-mobile ran right over me like I was a just a speed bump. There was a surprised "woah!" and I think one guy said "did we run into someone?" But the concern was quickly dismissed as the whooping and hollering continued, quickly fading as they sped through the rest of the slide. My tube had toppled upside down, and since I refused to let go of the handles, I was skidding down face first, on my stomach, with the tube perched uselessly on my rear end. Not surprisingly to those who know me well, I was mostly preoccupied with the mortifying thought that I would come out of the slide looking stupid. So I desperately tried to get the tube back under me, but only ended up losing my grip on it. The tube rushed down with me, and I scraped down the last quarter of the slide alone.

I try to think of the poor lifeguard that monitors the wading pool where the slide ends. Three dudes shoot out and tell him, "I think we ran over something?" And then a riderless tube shoots out. Soon after, a tiny 12-year-old girl tumbles out head first, visibly bleeding from her thigh. He heroically ran towards me, helped me stand up, and checked out the massive scrape on my leg. Though I was slightly in pain, and a little traumatized, more than anything, I felt shame and humiliation. I failed at the water slide. If I were being graded on water slides, I would have surely earned an F. I convinced the lifeguard I was fine, and ran away as fast as I could. I swore my friend to secrecy. And I spent the rest of day in the shallow end of the wave pool where I belonged, inspecting my enormous thundercloud shaped bruise, glaring at the waterslides, and feeling like a failure.

from June 5, 1993

If anyone actually reads this blog, you'll have noticed I deleted a few posts. I'm working on reorganizing. I want to start using this blog as a place to take some of my journal entries and (hopefully) rework them into mini-essays.

Let's start with one of my oldest journal entries:

June 5, 1993

Today, while Carly was riding her bike, she fell off and really got hurt.
Besides that, nothing really happened that was fun.

Until Next Time!

from August 2, 2003

There was a storm today. It only lasted three minutes or so, but still. There hasn't been a storm in Utah for a while. I came outside at about 9:30 at night and the storm has already moved away but it's still windy and the clouds are dark and heavy. The sun just finished setting and the sky is clinging to the last bit of left over sunlight.

Just to look at it - the light and the sky - is overwhelming.

I love lights in the sky. There are about three big searchlights coming from somewhere in the valley, but the sky seems too thick to hold them. Jake was shining a floodlight up into the sky, watching the light disappear into the dark clouds. I remember doing that with my flashlight at girls camp in the mountains or at Grammy's old house in Idaho. I'd shine the light straight up, illuminating tall tree tops or barely brushing on the side of the mountain. It always made me feel a little scared, but I liked it. It was that same overwhelming feeling, when for a moment, the sky is so much bigger than I ever seemed to notice.

February 28, 2013

Emotional Maths

I dreamt last night about operating a movie theater in New Orleans that was constantly infested with insects, lizards, and rodents.
+1 anxiety
I woke up late and had to email work to tell them I'd be about an hour late.
+2 anxiety
I opened my breakfast yogurt and a blob of it splattered on to my shirt.
+1 irritation
I realized later in the morning that I was unsuccessful in preventing yogurt from causing a stain.
+2 irritation
Lunchtime approaches. My lunch plans consist of obnoxious but already over procrastinated errands.
+3 anxiety per minute
Co-worker's phone rings again, while she is away from her desk.
+3 irritation for each dropped "g" in "Don't Stop Believin'" 
Ten minutes closer to lunch, I get an email from HR about a day I was out sick this week.
+5 anxiety
Someone I need to talk to is not answering my messages.
+8 anxiety

~I decide to blow off the errands yet again in order to spend my lunch break picking up my refill for Xanax, and getting a donut or something.~

Just as it's my turn at the pharmacy window, a very old man shuffles to the window, either oblivious to or not giving a crap about the concept of a line. Old man has several questions, not just about the pills but about how this thing called "insurance" works, does not have a Value Card but would like to get one, and pays with a check.
+5 irritation, multiplied by the old man's age, which I estimate to be about 172.
Get back to my apartment, where the hallways are being painted. "Don't worry, we're almost done." = "We are now painting right around your door."
+8 irritation
For some reason, part of the painting process includes running a JACK HAMMER right outside my door for about 100 hours.
+13 RAGE!
I take a Xanax, watch some Top Chef, and eat a donut.
+21 mellow
+13 overall goodwill for mankind

Final Thoughts
You know what I like? I like trees. Even in the winter, without leaves. It reminds you that the sky is there for us to breath. I also really like gum. And pencils. Especially pencils. There's a subtle beauty to the gradual exposure of the pencil's core. From the slick school bus yellow skin (what a great color to pick for pencils), to the earthy wood that smells like ideas, to the soft lead we use to bleed our souls onto paper. Dixon Ticonderoga 1388 - 1 EX-SOFT. Let's all take a moment to appreciate a pencil.

December 17, 2012

A Poem

The Empty Box 

I ate all of my chocolates but
I didn't throw away the box. So,
I thought I still had some.
I planned on eating one today.
I opened the box
     and they were gone
     and I was like: oh yeah.