Sunday, December 13, 2009

Newnan, Georgia.

So we're in Newnan, Georgia. It's just south of Atlanta, and we drove here from Augusta yesterday. We ended up leaving Augusta late because it took so long to actually get all of our stuff out of the house. I swear, it is so EXHAUSTING to move. I have never done anything else that has made me as exhausted in my life. Oh, I'm glad that it's over and we're on the road.

We drove here to Newnan to stay with the Royles. Mary and Scott and their daughter Summer are so nice! Paul had a fever most of the day, and he did when we arrived he was burning up. Mary made Paul eat a spoon full of freshly-chopped garlic and wash it down with a huge glass of water. I have to hand it to her, he does feel a lot better today.

Sorry this is so brief, but we must be on our way again, this time to Madison, Alabama to visit my cousin Charsty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy sneeze-day to me...

I always think I'm so funny. For my Facebook status, I put a reference to 24, and I am so curious to see who will understand it and who will ask me hilarious questions about what I mean. I crack myself up sometimes!

Anyway, we FINALLY sold the contract, some people put down a deposit, and we're supposed to be ready to leave tomorrow. I say supposed to because I'm not fully better yet from my sickness, and Paul has come down hard with it, too. Last night, he had a fever for hours, and today he's not feeling great at all. Between the two of us, we haven't managed to get very much done. I have to hand it to him, though. Today he did the nasty job of cleaning out the car even though he was coughing like crazy and it was freezing cold outside. At least I was working in the warm kitchen!

The good news is that I feel quite a bit better today than I did yesterday, and I've been in good spirits all day. I have to say, it's a strange birthday, though. No one has called me, and Paul didn't even remember until I reminded him this morning. It's like it's not real. I suppose when you grow up, that's the way birthdays usually are. Nobody cares about them unless you remind them. You have to say, "Come to my birthday party! I'm special, and you need to come show me that you love me by giving me gifts!"

Speaking of gifts, my friend Emilee brought me a care package because I'm sick. It had nice soft tissues, chicken noodle soup, chap stick, vitamin C drops, and a mug with hot cocoa mix and hot apple cider mix. It was such a nice thing to do! I will really miss Emilee.

That's the depressing thing about hopping around the country like this. When you leave a place, you always have to leave people. It's so sad! Why can't everyone that I love just come with me where ever I move? It can be like a caravan!

That's how I think it should it be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm sick.

Oh, man. I've really come down with something this time! I was getting a sore throat last night, and I took NyQuil in hopes of getting some sleep. Well, I slept, but I was so sluggish and miserable this morning from the drug-induced sleep. I'm so tired.

We haven't had any luck, yet, selling our contract. People seem to be too turned off by the neighborhood. I'm starting to develop a contingency plan of what to do when Saturday comes and we haven't managed to sell it yet. (Cry, become a begger on the street, etc.) I'm so frustrated, and I wish people weren't so obsessed with appearances. It really seems to be less about being safe and more about living in a place that looks good.

I hated being in bed most of the day when there is so much I should be doing, but I was just too sick. I spent several hours in a half-doze, slipping in and out of bizarre dreams. Thirty second dreams are the weirdest- there's usually an image, some significant idea, and not much else.

Ugh. I'm like one of those toddlers that makes you cringe- nose running out of control with no mother paying attention, who incidentally needs a good nap.

I think it's time for bed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time to get a gun.

This is one of those days that makes life feel too long. I need to write several articles and study for my final at 3:30, and there are about ten other things I need to do in preparation of moving on Satuday... but I have a sore throat, and I feel all stupid and lethargic. It's like my thoughts are on "extra slow" mode right now. I'm so sleepy!

We're still looking for someone to take our contract. The pressure is really on since we're leaving this week. Paul had this creepy email from someone responding to the Craigslist ad. They said something like, "Don't be alarmed, but I came to your house to watch you. I'm interested in you, and you should come to this website." We were wondering if someone really has been watching us or if the person is some kind of prostitute...! It's not like we have actually posted our address online. But someone could have found it, if they were willing to take the time to wander around and look at every house.

Maybe it really is time for me to get a gun. Anyone who comes too close to me will regret it!!!!!! I'm terrible at aiming, but that's not much of an issue if someone is just a couple of feet away.

Well, I guess I'll spend the next hour studying for my final. I'll be so happy when it's over and I can go collapse somewhere.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carbohyrates are your friend.

We've just updated our post on Craigslist and I was thinking it might be a good idea to include bribery and/or a plea. "We'll make you cookies and serve you sandwiches and give you a massage if you'll take over our contract. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're BEGGING YOU!"

It's important that we sell the contract if we're going to have any money for visiting our families for Christmas. Otherwise, there won't be any money for driving. I'm sure someone will take it, but it is stressful waiting around for people we don't know and hoping they like the house once they've seen it. It gets old.

But I decided we have to use up all the food in the house before we move, including two big bags of flour (one white and one wheat). I just went hunting for simple recipes online and found two bread recipes, two roll recipes, and two brownie recipes. I figure it I make all six of the recipes, most of the flour should get used up. The downside is that massive amounts of carbohydrates would be floating around the house, tempting me every second of the day to overindulge.... Funny, but it just sounds like even MORE of a good idea when I put it that way. I happen to love carbohydrates-- they make me feel all energized and stuff.

Maybe I can find some biscuit recipes...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heated ceramic explodes. Now I have proof.

I ran out of my medicine last night and didn't make it to the pharmacy until late this morning to get a refill. Consequently, I missed my morning dose and had a blood sugar spike after breakfast. It has been a long time since I have had one, and the feeling was so strange. My mind fell into this weird haze and I kept getting distracted from what I was trying to think about. Eventually I went for a walk to bring it down.

While I was on my walk, I ran into two black young men, and one of them was so friendly to me. I thought he was really nice, but his accent was so strong that I couldn't understand a word he was saying. It probably didn't help that my blood sugar was still high...! But I really couldn't understand him! I could tell he was asking me a question, but he got tired of trying to make conversation when my only reaction was to stare at him and say, "What!?" over and over again. It was kind of ridiculous and I eventually said, "Have a good day," and walked off. He probably thought I was mentally challenged or perhaps from a foreign country. (The South might as well be a foreign country, I tell you. I don't know if I can call what they speak down here English.)

When I got home, the house was cold and I decided to turn on the oven to heat it up a little. All the dials on our stove look the same and I accidentally turned one of the wrong ones....

I was sitting in the next room about five minutes later and heard a crackling sound. Then came a loud pop and the sound of something shattering. I went running into the kitchen to find pieces of an exploded ceramic plate all over the room. One of the burners was red hot and surrounded by the biggest pieces of the plate. I ran to turn off the burner, mystified that heated up ceramic explodes. It was a little frightening to pick up the pieces that had flown all the way across the room. Some of them were about the size of throwing stars and just as sharp.

For the rest of the day, I couldn't help imagining what would have happened had I been standing in the kitchen. I had fun imagining blazing hot ceramic shrapnel embedded in my belly. I suppose I would have called 911, although maybe I could have pulled it out myself. Would they have become burned into the skin?

I know. I'm macabre. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trudging through something thick and nasty...!

I've spent most of yesterday and today working on my huge anthropology paper. It's basically a compilation of a lot of work I've done over the course of the semester, but honestly it's difficult work. The thing is, my teacher gave me A's on my previous essays and I just can't figure out why. Now that I'm reading through them and tying them all together, I can see that they're horribly organized, horribly written, and not very well thought-out. It's like trudging through something thick and nasty...! I would say they're all C's at very best.

My theory is that the other people in my class must have written essays so abysmally horrific that the teacher had no choice but to use my writing as the "A" standard. Otherwise everyone else would have failed her class! That can be the only explanation for those deceptive A's. There's no way I deserve them.

So what I've been doing all day is going through my essays a paragraph at a time. First I cringe, then look away, and then I try to figure out what I meant to say. Once I've gotten that far, I begin carefully reconstructing and rewording every sentence, sometimes deleting huge passages.

This is no picnic.

I hope that after all this insane work, I'll actually finish by 8 o'clock when the whole thing is due. And maybe the teacher will smile compassionately on my pathetic deluge and give me a passing grade.... (I have NO IDEA if "deluge" can be used in that way, but I'm too exhausted to care!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time to dust off the ol' blog...

So I'm at school and I need to write a huge compilation paper of my ethnography. (That's the field research I did for my anthropology class.) I also have to write as many articles as I can for my new job. But when I sat down at my favorite spot in the computer lab, I thought, "My poor, pathetic blog has just been sitting there collecting dust! I've got to do something about..."

Blogs DO collect dust, you know. With disuse, they sort of get stale and start to stagnate. Like all the swamps around here, they start to smell bad and that makes people leave them as quickly as possible when they're browsing through. Not that I'm some kind of glory hound, but I do like people to read the things I write. I like to know that people are listening to the things I have to say, and they're not likely to do that if I don't keep the blog up to date and change it up a lot. I must let no more dust fall!

Honestly, with trying to figure out how to get the money to move and finishing up the major projects in my classes and taking time to build up my relationships and improve my life, I have hardly had a second to think about the blog. We haven't been able to find someone who wants our house yet, and we're really counting on getting our deposit back if we're going to have any chance of paying one when we move. I've been trying to find out about independent study classes here at ASU so that I can stay enrolled with this school and not have to hassle with transferring in the middle of the school year. FHSU has been monumentally unhelpful with helping me transfer there, and the person "assigned" to answer my questions won't help me at all. So I'd rather stay enrolled with this school if I could, but ASU's website is also monumentally unhelpful. My head spins around and around as I try to figure it all out...!

But this is just how life is. Whatever you try to do, there will be obstacles and anxiety. We always seem to be on the brink of disaster, but things always work out somehow. We've never actually been homeless yet, or died, or been sent to prison for not paying our utility bills. Our phones have only been shut off twice, and one of those times was in error.

Things are always going wrong, but life is good and I am happy. I ought to laugh at my own anxiety and remind myself of all that the Lord and many good people have done for us already. The list is pretty impressive and I'm sure I don't know most of the things on it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's not really that hard to say "thanks."

Paul and I went home for a short time in the middle of the day today, and when we were pulling up to the house, we saw the mail van stop in front of our neighbor's house. The mailman got out and we got to our front gate at about the same time he did. Paul surprised me by exclaiming, "So you're our mailman! We haven't met you yet." He said this warmly and threw out his hand for a shake. The mailman looked up shyly and then smiled, taking Paul's hand. He said, "My name is Armen." Paul said, "Thanks for bringing us our mail!" They shook hands and the man was positively glowing as if someone had just given him a thousand dollars. He gave Paul the mail and went on his way looking pleased.

I was impressed by my husband's kindness to someone he doesn't know and hasn't met before. I wonder if anyone has ever told that mailman thank you. It's strange to think that we never think of thanking people like mailmen. They just do their jobs day after day and we benefit. But I could tell this man's day was improved so much from the simple act. It makes me want to thank people more often.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We tend to do what's easy.

As Paul and I have been reading through the Uglies series, (We're on the third book.) some interesting themes have been emerging. Scott Westerfeld cleverly skirts all around the issue without ever actually asking the question, "Should people be allowed to make their own choices?" The story practically screams the question, but the characters never ask it directly. It's so brilliantly done, and it has caused me to reflect on the question.

Should people be allowed to make their own choices?

It seems obvious to say, "Well, of course." But when you stop to think about it, there is a sticky issue involved with that answer. If people are allowed to make their own choices, they might make bad choices. History shows the sad reality that people usually DO make bad choices. That's probably because bad choices are usually easier than good choices. It's so much easier to, say, get addicted to the drugs your friends are taking than it is to opt out or find new friends. The choice with the least resistance is the one most people will take.

Consider the Holocaust. We always stare in horrified awe at the Nazi soldiers that carried out their millions of murders and wonder how they could have done it. It's not really so hard to figure out when you see that going along with what the superiors said to do was simply easier than resisting. And now we have a huge bloody stain on our history that proves just what people CAN do with their choices.

But there's another side to all this. Sure, we all have the potential to do terrible things. We can hurt each other, stop each other from progressing, oppress and victimize and kill each other. We can even do these things without feeling bad once we get to a certain point... But every day we can make choices of the other kind. We can be kind to each other. We can give and love and serve each other. We can build each other up and work together.

Strangely, history seems to be lacking in these kinds of stories. We hear occasionally of people like Mother Teresa or Gandhi who have touched many people, but we don't hear much about all the little kindnesses that people have been showing each other since the beginning of time. Why is that?

I've been realizing that we have to have the possibility of making bad choices in order to learn how to make good ones. As terrible as it is to see all the ways that people will destroy themselves and each other, it's necessary for each of them to have choices. I should say each of us. This life-defining struggle that we all endure is so essential if we are to grow, if we are to learn. And when you make yourself into someone wonderful-- it's great to know that you chose to be who you are. No one made you be as you are and no one can choose for you. That's a comforting thought for those of us who are trying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Equivalent Exchange.

Paul and I love an anime series called Fullmetal Alchemist, and we watched it a couple of years ago. It has a lot of wonderful complexities and fabulous characters. I like it better than all the day-time television shows we've sampled (Lost, Heroes, 24, The 4400). These alchemists in the story believe in the concept of equivalent exchange. They have the power to take a bunch of loose materials and make them into something-- the idea is that you could rearrange the structure of the materials (if you have them in the correct amounts) and nothing would be lost. Two young boys try to recreate life in this way, and it doesn't quite work out as they expect. As the series progresses, they learn that there is no such thing as equivalent exchange. Everything has to come from somewhere, and no matter what your intentions, you never quite get back in equivalent amounts what you have given. Eventually they learn that even the very power of alchemy that they so cherish comes at the cost of human suffering and death.

I was thinking of Fullmetal Alchemist yesterday when I watched a video in my Anthropology class. It was about the coffee trade. The consumers of coffee the world over have no idea where their coffee comes from or how the retailers that they buy from exploit those who grow the coffee. The peoples of Ethiopia depend completely on the revenues they earn from the coffee they grow. They literally have no other crops and no way to feed themselves except to buy exported foods. They are at the mercy of the global economy and literally starve to death if people don't buy their coffee. The corporate giants who purchase their coffee pay them $0.12 for the same amount of coffee they sell for $320! (You know SOMEBODY'S pocket it getting lined...) These people are so poor, too, that they live 15 people to a tiny one-bedroom house and they can't send their little children to school. The plain facts presented in the film were disturbing and undeniable. They work hard from sunup to sundown without the promise that they will have food the next day. It's exploitation in the extreme.

I'd like to comfort myself by saying that I've never drunk a cup of coffee in my life. While that is true, I know that the story of coffee is just one of so many. In cozy, comfortable modern America, we never stop to wonder where our comforts come from. Who makes my shoes or sews my clothing together? When I buy something for $15, it was probably made in another country by workers being paid just a few cents. I feel like I'm living in the Fullmetal Alchemist world, learning how all the things I enjoy come at a high cost. There really is no such thing as equivalent exchange.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"I'm gonna soak up the sun, gonna tell everyone to lighten up!"

So... we went to the beach. It was Friday morning and we realized that we will only live in Georgia for just over a month-- and we have yet to see the Atlantic ocean. Paul has seen it before when he lived in Miami, but he wasn't allowed to swim. The entire time I lived in Virginia, I never got to see the ocean, even from a distance. So we went online, found an island off the coast near Savanah, and headed out for a one-night adventure. It was gloriously fun!

When we arrived, it was around 7:00 pm, and the sun had just gone down. We went out to the dark, empty beach and walked along for quite some time, talking and holding hands. The stars were bright overhead and they reflected off the water when it smoothed out between waves. Everything was so quiet except for the sound of the waves, and the water was so warm as it washed over our feet. It was a beautiful night, the kind of experience you can only have once because you just can't recreate perfect circumstances.

In the morning when we went back, the water level had risen considerably so that the entire path that we walked was submerged under several feet of water. Although it is November, the water was quite warm, and the sun was bright. It was so nice. Here are a few pictures.

The one below I took of myself because Paul was not really feeling like taking pictures, and I wanted to document the fact that I was there too.

After we got our fill of sun, we went to a restaurant called The Crab Shack, and it made us feel like we had really gone to the South. We were served ridulously huge portions of crab legs, shrimp with butter, craw fish, and sausage. There was, in fact, almost no carbohydrate to the whole meal. Each plate came with a tiny half-cob of corn. We order some potatoes, and they only gave us about a half-cup. The huge portions of protein were incredibly satisfying, but the lack of carbs made us feel like we hadn't really eaten, even though our stomachs were beyond full.
The seafood was so good and there was so much of it that I kept imagining that we were glutonous royalty, stuffing ourselves with more protein than we could possibly require. I kept imagining a starving child begging us for food. We'd laugh and say, "You should have thought of that before you became peasants!"
The Crab Shack was decked out with all things alligator-- including live alligators that you could feed. They were awesome! This last picture is of Paul posing by a sign they had put up. It made me laugh.
Tybee Island was a cool place, both for its beach and for the cultural experience. I recommend it, although it is kind of expensive. Isn't vacation always pricey, though?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Life out in the mission field.

We found a phone number online for the LDS ward in Hays, Kansas. When Paul called it, he found out that the ward there has boundaries that are 60 miles by 100 miles! That means I might have to set aside three or four hours and a bunch of gas money to do my visiting teaching...! Holy cow. Luckily for us, the church building is in Hays, so at least we won't have to drive hours to go to our meetings.

It is really strange to live outside of Utah. When we told people in our BYU ward that we were moving here, a lot of them said, "So you're going out into the mission field." I can see what they mean. Since we've lived here, there have been three new member adult baptisms in our ward. It's pretty exciting!

I'm at the school to write a paper, so I really should stop procrastinating now...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alligators are alive and well in Georgia.

Yesterday afternoon, Paul and I went to explore a local park that's right in the middle of Augusta. It was a little hard to find because it isn't marked with any signs, but it was really cool! There's a forest area that reminded me a lot of Virginia where I used to walk with my friends. Once within the canopy, you can barely see the sky and everything takes on a dark and twisted aura. It's a lovely dark and twisted, though, the kind of ambiance that sparks the imagination. You wouldn't think there would be much life there, right in the middle of the city, but we saw the most unthinkable thing... an alligator!

There's this swampy place back in the trees where you can stand on a wooden platform overlooking the stagnant, leaf-strewn water. It's strange because the water is so still that it's almost like glass-- and yet it's surface is riddled with tiny ripples, indicating that something is moving in the water. I'm sure it's mostly frogs, newts, and other amphibious things, as well as the gases from certain chemical reactions. But right when we walked up, Paul spotted an alligator swimming silently through the water. He signaled to me, but I didn't see it until right before it went down under the water to hide. It was kind of long hump that arched up a little and then dipped down before my eyes. It was probably three feet long, although that's hard to say with any accuracy.

I was totally shocked to think that people were running around the park with their toddlers, and I hoped that they realized the danger in the swampy part of the park. Wouldn't that be quite the family memory. Little Joey threw his toy out into the water and then waded out to get it. Suddenly a big shape materialized in the water and there was nothing anyone could do but scream in horror...

What can I say? I lean toward drama. If I was bringing my kids to that particular park, though, they would be a very short leash.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

We all need friends.

So we went up to Columbia yesterday and had some difficulty following our Google Maps directions. We did make it though, and it was so wonderful to go into the temple again after a (seemingly) long absence. It's a pretty marble building, and it's tiny compared to the bigger temples that I'm used to.

I just love going places with Paul! We get in the car, feel all adventurous, and turn on some of our favorite music. After the music gets old, we take turns reading to each other to pass the time. We're steadily progressing through Uglies, and I am all curiosity about how it will end. I keep thinking it cannot end well...

I look forward to moving, although there is some sadness. I've finally made a friend in my ward with one of my visiting teachers. Her name's Emilee and we really have a lot in common. It was hard for me to reach out to someone, but I finally just called her and said, "Hey, let's, you know, hang out." She said sure, and we had a great time making little pizzas and talking.

Making friends is a strange business as an adult. You can't just say, "Will you come play with me?" But even though things work differently in a lot of ways, adult friendship really isn't so different from child friendship. At any age, you essentially have to just decide, "I like this person and I want us to be friends." It's always risky (because you never know if the person will like you back) but we all need friends, no matter what our age.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"I will [write] no more, forever" for these people...

I've FINALLY heard from my old employers, and it turns out I will get paid for just over half of the posts I wrote in September. That's more than I thought they would pay me for, but the whole situation still makes me angry. I spent way too much time on all that writing for it to count as nothing. Alas, for them I will write NO MORE.

Today Paul and I are headed up to go to the temple in Columbia, South Carolina! We're so excited, since we haven't been to the temple since before we moved. I have really longed for it, and now we get to go! Well, we best be on our way...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nitty Gritty Characterization

Paul had a presentation for one of his classes and part of it had to do with the ethical issues surrounding animal research. To make it more light-hearted, he bought a stuffed animal puppy that he would throw to people when they wanted to answer a question. The camera is currently out of batteries, or I could show you a picture of the puppy. It's so cute! A girl in his class named the puppy Aidan.

The funny thing is that I have a peculiar connection with the name. Way back when I was thirteen years old, Aidan was one of my first major characters in a book I was writing with my friend Natalie. I'm sure the book was terrible and all, but I will always remember it with fondness. We had so much fun and we were both completely convinced that we were going to make millions with our writing.

Some of that old excitement has sprung up inside of me these last few weeks. I have been working day and night to go through each and every character in my book. I'm giving them all personality types and temperaments-- and it's a lot of work. The payoff is really huge, although it has been a little funny to see what kinds of characters I tend to write. One young man has been so easy for me to write from the beginning and he just seems real. I realized yesterday that he's just like my brother James! I can write him so well because his reactions, conversations, and preoccupations are filled with the essence of James. Weird! I had no intention of copying my brother, but it simply happened. It's wonderful to be able to write such a natural and intrinsically real character. He might as well be standing in the room with me while I'm writing him!

Characters, essentially, must be people. They must have strengths and many, many weaknesses. I'm trying to breath life into my text by making my characters get hung up over silly things and misunderstand each other because they're not paying attention, and who really try to do the right thing even though they often fail. The phrase "nitty gritty" comes to mind. I want to reveal humans in all their messy reality. That's what really makes a story good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Oh my, Toto!"

I'm at the school again on this illustrious Friday evening. (I wanted to use the word "illustrious" even though it is in no way fitting.) It has been a good day. Because my visiting teachers were coming over, Paul actually helped me clean this morning! Usually I beg him, he says he will, and... he never does. So this was a fabulous turn of events. The house looks better now than it ever has before.

So, it's official. We're going to Hays, Kansas at the end of this semester. How we'll pay for the move and where we'll live are yet to be determined, but we've finally decided with certainty. We're going to that notoriously flat state right in the middle of the country, and that's about all we know about the place. I hear that it has a depressed economy, which should mean pretty low rent. I hope that's true!

The really great thing about living in Kansas will come when we visit our families. We will be able to say very seriously, "We're not in Kansas anymore!"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Symmetrical faces... or not.

So now that I've got the depressing news out of the way (see below) it's time for some fun. I started reading a book with Paul called Uglies. We're not very far into it, yet. The basic idea is that there is a society that makes everyone "pretty" when they turn 16, and this involves a surgery that makes the face symmetrical, among other changes. The girls in the book spend some time playing with software that will show them possibilities of what they might look like once they're made pretty. It starts by scanning their faces, taking each half and using symmetry to show them two possible faces they could have. Then they can tweak the images to look more "pretty."

Paul found a picture of me (in which I'm not even looking straight at the camera), and tried to do the same thing. The result was freakin' hilarious! I look like I weight 400 pounds! Not to mention that I somehow I have two necks...!!! Here it is... Obviously, he didn't edit it very well.
Here's another that Paul did of his face, and it's mostly silly because of his hair. This one actually manages to look like him.

Now, below is a picture of Paul from before I knew him. He has a pleasant face that isn't very symmetrical.
And below are the two halves of his face made symmetrical. In the first he looks overly-eager and sort of innocent.
In the second, he's a sort of quasi-Gaston brute. The military cut he had at the time doesn't help.
And here I am on our wedding day... Chubby, lovely, and not very symmetrical.
First, we have the right side. This is definitely my skinnier half. I'm not sure what nationality I become. It makes my face look kind of long...
And the left side. This is the fat side, and making it symmetrical makes my face almost square. I think my arched eyebrows also make me slightly evil-looking.
I've seriously been trying not to laugh my head off while I've been posting these pictures. I don't know if anyone else will think they're as funny as I do... I think I prefer us just the way we are.

Wish I could come up with a clever title...

My days of blogging for pay are now over... I suppose I had it coming. I was following the original directions that were given to me when I was first hired, but apparently, the company decided they wanted something different without letting the bloggers know. Basically, I was writing about a wide variety of health and fitness-related topics and I was supposed to be writing about certain specific topics (such as acne and nothing else on the acne blogs). I had no idea the guidelines had changed, and I've just received an email that severely pissed me off. The bloggers haven't been paid for the September blogs yet, and it turns out that the company only intends to pay us for the posts that relate directly to the narrow topic. For me, that means I might make $100 that month, if I'm lucky. It will probably be less. And I was counting on making quite a bit more money than that. I NEED more money than that. Basically it amounts to several hours that I will not now be paid for.

So I'm quitting. I just sent my letter of resignation... and it was hard to do! I kept thinking in the back of my mind that I should just try to stick it out, but the truth is that I can't be doing work without any assurance that I will be paid. That's just stupid. Maybe I can find something else that will be more dependable...! Who knows.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What do writers do? They write!

Well, the grades came in on the group presentation, and I did remarkably well. The teacher gave out individual grades to all the group members, and I got 89%! That's fabulous, considering all the frustrating things that went wrong. The other members didn't do so well... Mostly they were hurt by not filling up as much time as they should have. The silly thing about that is that we had a stop watch sitting up on the podium to use, and two of the group members didn't even use it. I was so glad that I did because I know I would have gone well over my time limit. The first time I looked at the timer, it was almost time to stop. I wish they all would have used it so that they could have gotten better grades...!

I'm so relieved to have that over with! It frees up my mind to think about other things for a while. My communications teacher was talking today about how people say they're not good at things and then stop there. "I'm just not good at writing," insist many of his students, and yet they don't take the time to develop their writing abilities. He said it takes time and persistence to be good at things and much hard work. Which brings me to my greatest character flaw...

I tend to do nothing. It is my natural inclination to sit there imagining and dreaming... and doing nothing. I have great IDEAS and plenty of zeal, but such things don't do me any good unless I simply stop dreaming and get to work. So I want to be a writer! That doesn't mean anything. I really have got to make my novel a regular daily priority in my life, or I won't ever finish it. Working on it something for a few minutes every now and then is pathetic and I can never develop my writing skills in such a leisurely fashion! It is time to pull myself up and to BE more than I have been.

After all, a writer is someone who writes, not somehow who thinks about writing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's raining cats, dogs, and stupid people.

I have yet to find out if I still have my blogging job. More than two weeks ago, I was told to hold off on blogging for a week or two while they make changes to the system (or something like that) and in that time I have heard nothing. I've been afraid that I'll lose my job for being so cheeky. I haven't been promoting products very well, and I don't know if that's going to come back to haunt me. I just wish they would let me know either way....!

It is raining insanely right now. I had to do a big group presentation in my speech class, and we were all dripping wet and shivering as we stood up to do our parts. I had planned on wearing something a little nicer and doing my hair, you know, to improve my confidence... but when I saw how hard it was raining, I ditched that idea and just wore something that would be relatively comfortable when wet. The presentation was laughable. It involved a spreadsheet with calculations, and the girl who had typed the spreadsheet had messed up her calculations. Other blunders of the group members I managed to smooth over or explain away, but this was beyond ridiculous.

After the presentation was a period of time set aside for questions, and some students in the class pointed out the errors to us. The calculation errors effectively made the entire presentation moot. After all the trouble I have gone through with this stupid group, I actually just started laughing when the errors were pointed out. They weren't MY errors, but they made us all look like idiots. I laughed and said, "Well, we made some mistakes. I admit that openly." At another point, I said, "Our ignorance about criminal offenses is now being revealed." It seemed hilarious to me that I get to have a bad grade because of the stupidity of other people. What I really wanted to do was point to the girl who had made the spreadsheet and yell, "She's so STUPID that she can't even add up simple numbers, and she INSISTED that she knew more about misdemeanors and felonies than the rest of us! SHE is the reason we now stand before you looking like idiots!"

But I just laughed and resigned myself to the situation. There was not much else to do!

Tonight I get to go play European games for my field study again! It's going to be so much fun. I love, love, love Anthropology!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Everything changes.

General conference was amazing. I kept thinking to myself, "That was exactly the talk that I needed!" and yet I would say it again and again as the conference went on. I really felt the power of the Spirit as I listened to the Apostles of Jesus Christ.

On a different note.... It's becoming obvious that we're probably going to leave Augusta. My husband is so unhappy in his program and he has the opportunity to transfer to another school in Kansas. It's not official yet, but I think it will happen. I can see that the problem with Paul's program is his lack of control over his own life. He doesn't get to have any say about classes, teachers, times, and there's no system set up to help the graduate students if they need to make changes. They don't have any advisors or advocates; there's no one to go to about issues. Worse for Paul specifically is that he's the only student in his tract. Almost all the students in his classes are in the clinical psych program, and even the four others that are in experimental with Paul are planning on going on to get PhDs in clinical. There's no one for him to talk with about his plans and dreams, and the professors he works under show no interest in him at all. That's completely different than it was at UVU, where Paul developed close personal relationships with his professors. They were strong advocates who were supportive and excited about Paul's career path. He misses the support badly and is beginning to hate his professors here.

Some people might think, "Well, it's graduate school, so it should be hard!" but I beg to differ. I don't care who you are in what position or program, people can be decent and caring. There's no excuse for this program in which the students are left to fend for themselves. Paul's not the only one who's unhappy in the program. Apparently they have a huge drop-out rate that they conventiently keep a secret until people are actually in the program. And it's not because of the advanced nature of study. It's because the professors don't care at all about the students.

And I don't care if we move again at the end of the semester. I don't have any friends here, and I probably won't when December rolls around. Well, sure, I have friends. The old people in my classes are my friends-- Bill and Janice. But they're not the sort of friends you hang out with outside of class. I won't be sad to leave Augusta behind, although Paul and I will both be sad to leave the house behind. I've got to get some pictures of the inside...

Life is change, and then change, and there's nothing wrong with changing plans when you figure out something's not working for you. It can be exhausting, though.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Research rocks....!

I get to be Paul's guinea pig today. He has equipment that he's going to use for his research and he has to learn to use it on a test subject. The lucky winner is... me! I don't know how it will all work yet, but apparently, he's going hook up wires to my fingers and various places on my head to measure heart rate and signs of physiological stress. He's going to be researching small group communication by measuring test subjects' body signals in different group situations. The idea is to see if it is more stressful to have to come to a consensus or to make a decision by vote. The professor that he's working under suspects that it will be more stressful to have to all agree, but the research will tell.

We had to get a new battery for our car, but it's happily running again. There's this wonderful mechanic that Paul happened upon who is truly salt of the earth. A couple of weeks ago, Paul decided that we could no longer ignore the dead turn signal on the back left. Our left mirror was also hanging by a wire, and the combination wasn't exactly safe. He went in to see this mechanic, and the guy glued on the mirror and replaced the signal light bulb without charging Paul. Then when our car was having problems earlier this week, the same mechanic sent him off to get a new battery without charging him a cent. He could have charged for the glue, the bulb, and the labor, but he didn't. He said to Paul, "Come back when your car has a real problem." The angels are taking notes of people like this.

I wanted to talk, as well, about my own research. I may have mentioned that I'm doing an ethnographic field study. It's so fun! I've been spending time every Monday night with a group of guys who meet in a bookstore to play board games. They're so much fun, and they make me laugh. After each meeting, I write detailed notes about the interactions of the group and my experiences playing games with them. I write the the notes like my journal; for years I cultivated my journal writing to be as accurate and full of detail as possible. (After reading 1984, I wanted to have an accurate record of my life so that I would know what had happened after my memories faded.) My teacher loves my field notes and has asked me think about being an anthropologist. I've been considering it.

I would go into more detail about this group and its individuals, but I have to keep it confidential and not give away any of their identities. They have to sign informed consent forms that promise I won't use their real names or let anyone know who they are. I guess that's how real anthropologists do things. It's pretty fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things get lost, things get broken...

Gosh, I'm starting to think of this blog like a journal... and so I feel guilty for talking about certain topics and not others, as if topics have feelings. Soon I'll have to talk about my ethnographic field study that I'm doing for my anthropology class, and my sacrament meeting talk from yesterday. I'll get to them.

First off, this morning when we got in the car to go to school, it wouldn't start. When I turned the key, it made a series of clicking noises and nothing happened. I tried again and again... and nothing happened but the clicking. And this on the morning when Paul had to get to school early to finish up a project before class and then he had a huge test later in the day. I also had a big class presentation to get to and I was meeting with a fellow student to help him prepare. (His name is Bill and he's in his seventies. He has a hard time on computers and I was going to help him out.)

There was nothing to do but start calling everyone we know to see if we could get a ride. The list of people we know is short, so I ended up calling Bill to ask him to come pick us up. He agreed, but we had to wait quite a while. Poor Paul ended up missing his entire class, and I don't know how the test went... I ended up not having to do my presentation because one girl in my group was sick and another decided to drop the class. There was no way we could present, so we didn't have to.

Paul has hopes of getting a ride back to the house after his test from a classmate. Then he can call a mechanic to come pick up the car since we can't drive it into a shop. I don't know anything about cars, but I think the starter is broken. Are those expensive? It's the weirdest thing because the car was driving just fine last night.

But I'm stuck at the school all day, and the (other) bad news is that I've lost my jump drive. I haven't seen it since Saturday, so there's a high probability that I left it in the computer lab on accident and someone picked it up. I consider it to be worse than losing the car because the jump drive has my whole novel on it. Yeah, I was stupid enough not to save it in more than one place.... At least it's printed. Now when I do the full edit, I'll also have to retype every word of the first nine chapters!!! That's SIXTY PAGES!

What do you do, though? Things get lost, things get broken, you have endless expenses, and you find some way to be happy anyway. That's life, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

For your viewing pleasures...

Now it's time for the low-quality photography I promised. These are the pictures of our house from the outside and one picture in the bedroom. Don't worry- I'll get more now that I know how to get the pictures off the camera.

This is it, the little blue house. notice that it's raised up off the ground. That's a really good thing or we would absolutely infested with bugs and repeatedly flooded with each rain storm. I think it's cute.

Our wide open backyard with the field behind. The backyard is the proud home of several thousand cock roaches and at least a dozen happy squirrels.

The flowering tree in our yard that flowers all year long. I can't remember what it's called.

This is the amazing collapsible furniture that was giving to me by my friend Amy.
Now I have to get back to work. I'll write more later.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ridiculously huge ants and graduate work loads.

Just a quick word. I've put links on the sidebar here to all of my blogs. Honestly I mostly did it for selfish (and lazy) reasons. I have to do my work on school computers that are always different, so I don't have the luxury of favorites and bookmarks. I get tired of typing in the URLs every single time, repeatedly, and so I decided to put the links on Chronicles of Jessio so that I can just open up one window and use it to navigate to all the others. I don't really expect anyone to go read them all regularly. They're all basically the same, anyway, so if you've seen one, you've seen them all. I would spice them up, but I don't have any administrative power to change layout or background or even put any interesting links on the side.

As for my life right now... well, there were thousands of ridiculously huge ants swarming our garbage dumpster last night. Apparently the really big ones that are out during the day are just the little sisters to the ones that come out at night...! Seriously, these are the biggest ants I have ever seen. We killed another cock roach in our bathroom two days ago, and ever since I've been on a cleaning rampage, although I haven't seen any more in the house. There's a mysterious phenomenon that involves the cock roaches, and I just can't figure it out. Twice we've found one dying in exactly the same spot right out in the open on the living room floor. Both times, they have been lying on their backs, twitching feebly... How they end up there, we can't say.

Paul has started bringing some of his research articles home so he can get his research in with relative comfort. The amount of stuff he's supposed to be able to do is ridiculous, and I sometimes have to become a taskmaster to see that he keeps on studying when he needs to. Graduate school is no picnic.

Well, I'd love to go on and on about all the fascinating happenings of my existence, but I have work to do. I swear, there's never a time when there's not work to do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A post in which I capitalize several words for emphasis.

So I'm not that great with technology. We got a camera and have taken pictures, but I haven't yet figured out how to get the pictures from the memory card, onto my jump drive, and from my jump drive onto my blog. It was so much easier with our old camera....!


Somebody has asked me how you all can get to my other blogs to see what I'm writing. Well, you can start by going to because I'm relatively happy about the post I wrote for today. With a regular writing job, it's a little hit and miss. Sometimes the writing is great and you feel so good about yourself, but most of the time you just do it because you have to, fully aware that you CAN write better than this. It's like anything else that involves a nose and a grindstone. After perusing the best day cream blog, if you're JUST DYING for more, I can put links to them all on the side so that you can pop in and read whenever you want. I'm not sure if the general public can leave comments (it might just be a function for other people that work online), but you can try if you want. I would feel so warm and fuzzy if you did!

I'm happy to report that I am FINALLY figuring out how my novel is going to end. I had most of the middle vaguely planned out from the beginning, but I just couldn't figure out how to bring everything together at the end. Last year I went on a rampage and read about ten books on novel writing. Every one of them said you have to have it all figured out from the beginning, along with an outline. But try as hard as I might, the outline thing escapes me. I was writing a chapter three days ago,and suddenly I understood what was going to happen. It all came together so nicely! I am SO finishing this book by the end of the semester!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Do I write for humans?

I've got about five minutes right now to post something for you. I've just been writing a bunch of posts on my blogs, and it's pretty fun.

When we were in South Carolina, Paul's friend Jay told me that my blogs aren't actually for humans to read. (He's a computer programmer who knows these sorts of things.) He said the entire point of my job was to work in links that would make certain sites come up more often on a Google search.

At first I was pretty depressed about that. I wanted to quit. "If nobody's reading it, what's the point?" I asked myself. But it's actually kind of cool, and I'll explain why.

You see, if I'm writing for people to read, then the sites I'm representing will probably want me to push through certain agendas. They'll want me to, you know, peddle their products and try to make them sound good. But if it's all about numbers and no one from the sites reads them anyway, I feel absolutely no obligation to promote things that I don't believe in. It has kind of been an ethical issue for me from the beginning. I was supposed to build in links for "diet pills" and "weight loss supplements," but I don't believe in them! Most of them are scams that will actually hurt you more than help you, and I felt like I couldn't encourage people to buy them with a clear conscious. Now I'm not worrying about that at all, and I'm just writing it how I really believe it is. I'm no longer afraid to say, "It's pointless to take diet pills if you don't watch your lifestyle." I also talk about how people care too much about what others think-- why else would they invest in wrinkle creams? "What's so wrong with getting old? Why are we so ashamed of wrinkles? Shouldn't we honor the aged?"

I'm not a main stream kind of person, and I think our society has a lot of problems. Now I'm free to write about those problems all I want. This is turning out to be a great job for me after all! And despite what Jay said, I do get the occasional real comment. People like my no-bull-crap way of talking about the issues. They find it refreshing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I don't like cold feet.

So we're at the school again for one of our long stretches. We end up here in this computer lab for five or six hours at a time every couple of days. Paul has endless amounts of homework, and I'm writing like crazy. The thing about this lab is that it's really cold, especially on the floor. I swear the floor tiles are like ice. (My friend told me that they heat their floors in Norway- and here, they must chill them.) I like to wear my flip flops because it is one of my only pairs of shoes, but when I do, I always regret it because the floor is so freakin' cold in this room. Today I brought socks with me in my backpack to put on once I got here. It does make it much more pleasant. :)

So I recently had this battle with my employers. I had never been paid for my July blogs, and it was the beginning to September. See, I've never actually met these people in person, and I was starting to wonder if I was actually going to get paid. So I started sending my contact person emails and calling (spaced reasonably a few days apart), and she never responded. So I just quit writing for about a week until I was finally contacted. My contact told me her daughter had had her cell phone and she had been too busy to respond to emails, so... she was sorry. And she forwarded my latest email to the person who is responsible for paying the bloggers. It appears (cross your fingers) than I am going to start getting paid, but I guess we'll see. I started writing again, and now I have to write a TON because they want us to write twice as many posts as before. That makes me feel a little stressed, but hey, it's twice the money too. I can now make enough money to cover our rent and utilities every month and I'll only be spending maybe ten hours a week on my posts. I've decided to see it as an unexpected blessing.

It has turned out to be a really good thing that I'm only in two classes right now. As you can see, I've got plenty of time to do my posts and work on my novel. It's also good because I have come down with some stupid sickness. (Infections are endless with me...!) I wake up in the morning feeling terrible and end up going back to sleep until eleven or twelve. It's been like that every day this week, and for the rest of the day I seem to have endless acid in my stomach. Like always, I just figure this latest one will pass eventually, and I'm trying to get lots of vitamin C and take good care of myself. The only strange thing is that I haven't seen a blood sugar spike, which usually accompanies the beginning of an illness. Even when I feel really yucky, my blood sugar is just sitting there in its normal range. I should count my blessings.

Oh, we finally got a new power cord for our computer, and so we can use it again! It's not functioning at top capacity, and we can't use the Internet at all, but it works! So I wrote sixteen posts today at home that I'm going to now post. Yay for working technology!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I've just been to the Student Activities Center to get my free blood pressure screening. I figured since I will probably only see a doctor once a year, (to refill my metformin prescription.) I should take advantage of whatever free medical care the school has to offer. Unfortunately, they don't have a health center here like they did at UVU, but they do have a nursing program. The nursing students were the ones taking everyone's blood pressure today.

Mine was 121/76, which is apparently healthy. I'm really glad it's so good. There's an African American woman in my anthropology class that has Type 2 diabetes as well. Her name is Janice, and she's probably in her fifties or sixties, and she is having quite a hard time. I noticed that she missed several days of class, and I asked her what was happening when she reappeared yesterday. She said she had gotten the flu and had started medication for her high blood pressure. One of those things (or both) caused her blood sugar to spike up into the 400s! That's really scary, and it makes you feel terrible. I felt so bad for her because I remember what blood sugar that high feels like. She had been getting up at 4:00 am to get a good long walk in every day, and still her blood pressure got so high and now her blood sugar is out of control. I swear this diabetes thing can ruin your life!

It's weird for me sometimes to be so young and having the health problems of the elderly. The fortunate thing about my age is that I have a lot more power to keep it under control. My young body reacts dramatically to exercise and functions very well on a good diet. I thank the Lord for giving me the strength to go to school and keep up my writing. My life may not be how I would like it to be in many ways, but at least I'm not as sick as Janice. She's so sweet. How could she deserve to be so sick?

Monday, September 14, 2009


Wow. My sister was married on Saturday. Happily, I got to talk to her the night before even though I wasn't able to be there for the wedding. I swear, she was just born! Can she really be old enough to get married!?

I know, I know. I was only two years older than she is when I got married... I guess when the time comes, it just comes. I talked to my dad yesterday, and he said the wedding was beautiful and Sara looked amazing. Hopefully I will get to see the pictures soon!

On a different note... On this lovely Monday morning, I spilled my egg burrito all over my shirt on the way to school. I remember dropping my pizza down the front of my shirt on my first day of seventh grade. I thought then that I would absolutely die of embarrassment, but I have since come to learn that no matter how hard I try, it's going to happen. Barely a day goes by that I don't spill something all over myself, and it seems to happen more frequently with things that will leave a dark red or brown stain. I don't know why I own anything light-colored. When I get new clothes, it's already predetermined that they will become stained, and there's nothing I can do about it...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank goodness that people can change!

Well, we had fun with the Wards. I got to see Jay's three daughters that I haven't seen in years. It's really weird because when I last saw them, they were three, two, and newborn. Now they're six, four (almost five) and two. The girls seemed so tall, so talkative, and grown up. Weird!

It was a strange situation because (without divulging too much information) Jay really screwed up his life in the past, and we had basically given up hope on him. But he has really turned himself around, and I was completely taken off guard that he and his girlfriend, who he lives with, are taking the missionary discussions. We were there when the missionaries came for one of them. He is coming back to full activity in the Church and she is learning about it and slowly gaining a testimony. Her name is Kelly, and I was very impressed with the kind of person that she is. I'll explain more about that in a minute.

I've never actually been there for a missionary discussion before, but it was cool. Kelly was raised to be religious, but in a non-denominational sort of way. She has always read the Bible and she told me that she was so happy to find Christ in the Book of Mormon. I could tell that she was really sincerely searching for truth by the questions she asked the missionaries. It was cool!

But Kelly is cool in other ways too. When we were visiting, we all went to a lake and Jay's girls were there. Kelly acted like they were her own kids, watching them, warning them away from the deep water, calling them back when one of them wandered off. And she gave special attention to the youngest, holding her and whispering to her and encouraging her to be silly and play. (This little girl seems to be scared of everyone and afraid to relax and be a child, so it was nice to see Kelly coax her along.)

These little girls have had a tough life with their parents making all sorts of mistakes, moving them around all the time, and it broke my heart to hear the latest news of their little lives. Apparently their mother has been leaving them with random family members for weeks at a time, disappearing and not explaining or calling. She moved and refused to give anyone the address and changed her phone number so that no one could reach her. Then she stops by unexpectedly, leaves the girls, and may not come back for weeks. These poor kids have almost no security and it's obvious that their mother doesn't take very good care of them. (They don't have beds or toothbrushes, and when their mom drops them off, it's obvious that they haven't been bathed in several days.)

But Jay is sincerely trying to be a father to them and he and Kelly are about to start a legal battle for custody. It's crazy, because in the past it was Jay who didn't care about his kids, and now he is the one with his head on straight. I'm so impressed with Kelly for loving and caring about these children who are not her own. She does everything she can to reach out to the girls, to offer them the love and security they need, and she is determined with an iron resolve to be their advocate. She's completely willing to raise them and take on all of their issues, which is something not many people would be willing to do. I couldn't help but love her and think that she really understands the pure love of Christ. I don't think she'll have too many problems embracing the gospel.

I'm so grateful for the atonement of Christ, which makes it possible for people to change. Paul is so happy to see his friend repenting, growing, and facing the light once more. It was a really good experience for us.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Weekend with Wards.

Hello. I'm currently in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Last night Paul and I drove up here to visit one of Paul's best friends Jay Ward and the entire Ward family. Jay still has three teenage sisters that live at home with his parents, and it was at his parent's house that we stayed last night. Did all that make sense? (I tend to get a bit carried away sometimes...) Jay's mom, Blanche, is a bold slightly scary person who is also warm and kind-hearted. The three girls were so cute, and one of them is a great writer. Apparently the Wards were a crazy bunch back in the day when all nine kids lived under the same roof! It was fun to visit them.

Currently, Paul and I are at Jay's work, and I'm supposed to be working on my blogs for my job... but Paul and Jay being so silly together, and we're all talking and laughing so much that I have no desire to do actual work.

This area is so beautiful! There are so many trees that you always feel like you're in the mountains, even though there are no mountains around here. The huge conifers look soft and fluffy, and they're much taller than most of the conifers in Utah. It's a different world here! It's nice to be outside of Augusta for a couple of days.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Dad.

Today I called my dad at work. The phone number of the power plant is easy to remember, and it hasn't been changed in years. I called him at 11:30 my time, which happened to be right on his break at 9:30 in Utah. It was so wonderful to hear his voice and feel his love for me. He was surprised, but obviously pleased to hear from me, and it made me feel so good. My dad is not usually talkative, and he has a hard time saying things like, "I love you," out loud. I suppose it just doesn't come naturally to him. But I can tell he loves me by how happy he is to see me, how much he wants to hear about my life, and how much time he has always spent with me out in the wilderness. He's a rugged, adventurous soul, and he makes me laugh with stories about his adventures in the wild. Talking to him really lifted my spirits. I just wish we were closer together so that we could go for a hike!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stumbling blindly in the rain, asking, knocking, and searching...

It's so beautiful here! Hopefully soon I can get some pictures to post. There are a lot of huge trees around here, and in many places they grow all the way up over the road so that driving down the road is kind of like driving through a tunnel. It's like something from a fantasy book. We have had some rainy days lately, and the rain is insane! I walk out of a building and am drenched before I can get to my car. I've been experimenting with taking off my glasses and stashing them in my backpack before I go anywhere. But then I have to stumble about mostly blind and hope that I don't get lost! I can't see the expression on anyone's faces, so I just try to avoid looking at people. It's the kind of thing I would have done as a kid just for fun. "Hope I don't hit into anything... or fall down... or accidentally step on a cat..." The good thing is that our house is raised up off the ground, so we don't have to worry about flooding. I got so tired of that in our last house! The chiropractor helped Paul's back quite a bit, so thankfully we were both able to sleep last night.

Two nights ago, we were reading Doctrine and Covenants 88. I felt impressed by certain verses. 88: 63 and 67 say, "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you... And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things."

I felt a desire then to draw near unto the Lord, to put aside the things that distract me from the things of God. I wondered what it takes to have an eye single to his glory. How can I have an eye single to his glory if I'm looking off in another direction? I felt that I needed to find tangible ways to keep my eye focused on the truths of the gospel. And part of that is in the asking, knocking, and diligently seeking. I can never find God if I don't search for him.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm so sleepy!

We had a long night last night because Paul's back has gotten worse and he was barely able to sleep at all. Thankfully, he's seeing a chiropractor today. Hopefully, that will help. Because of all the pain he's in, he has decided once and for all that losing weight is the only intelligent thing to do. He realizes that his weight adds significantly to his back pain, and he feels that it's time.

Hallelujah! Okay, so I don't know how to spell that, but I'm so glad. With Paul in on the weight loss, it will be easier for me. It's so much easier to make lifestyle changes if you don't have to make them alone. It's time for exercise, healthy eating, and... a little less chocolate. Do I have to get rid of chocolate entirely? I don't know if I can!

Despite my semi-zombie state from lack of sleep, I was finally able to re-register for my two classes. The school sure made it a pain, but the good thing is that I was able to get back in without paying the $50 fee, which is good because the mistake wasn't mine in the first place. I would love to write loads more about my fascinating life, but I have Anthropology homework to do for my next class. I take my leave.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

So I'm OCD about these things.

I wanted to make a quick correction. Writer's Market has an apostrophe in the title. Yesterday when I was writing the blog, I kept wondering if it had the apostrophe or not. It does, and I wanted to make sure to correct it. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My dreams and my cute sweet husband.

So yesterday was an important day for me.... *Ahem.* I went to the local Books a Million and bought my very first copy of Writers Market, 2010 edition. It's so pretty! (It's green and brown, and very classy-looking.) For those of you who don't know, Writers Market is a huge fat book that lists book, newspaper, and magazine publishers and how they want work submitted to them. It gives all kinds of useful information from who specifically to contact to how much money you can expect to get paid. It's VERY helpful, and I'm so excited to have one.

I spent several hours last night reading about writing contests across the country. Some of the novel writing contests pay thousands of dollars in cash prizes for the winner, as well as publication of the novel. Wouldn't that be so exciting!? I've decided to research several of the contests and pick two of them to enter next year. It would be an amazing way to get the attention of the literary world and jumpstart my career. Okay, so I realize the odds of winning a contest like that are slim, but I've just got to try! There are also several contests for short stories, essays, and creative nonfiction that I might enter as well. These ones would be way smaller so less would be required of me than writing a novel. And I'm only entering contests with cash prizes, too, so there's always the possibility of getting paid for my work.

On a different note, Paul is doing very well in his new program. In the next few weeks, he will start doing research with his peers (collaborating on their person projects and on the projects of the professors) and then he will become way more busy.

He's been a little sad because of a recent conflict with another family member who demeaned him in just about every way possible. (This person criticized his spiritual wellbeing, his mental state, and his choice of career. It was so horrible!) I've been impressed with his ability to cope and to not hold onto bad feelings for this person. He says to me, "My heart hurts, but I'll be all right. It doesn't matter what she said." I love what a pure person he is!

And he's so cute too! His old back injury sometimes acts up and last night it was hurting him again. We went to Target and he was riding around on one of those little carts for people who can't walk (because it was much easier on his back). He's just so big that he looked hilarious zooming around so close to the ground. I laughed my head off at him!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Locked out... but still writing!

So this morning we got up a little early so we could get to the school with enough time for Paul to read an article for his class and still make it on time. Ha ha.

He walked out the door ahead of me, and when I followed, I thought he had the keys and immediately shut the door. It turns out that he had locked the door handle, but left the keys in the house, so we were locked out of our house. Not only that, but our only car key was on the key ring in the house, too... It was so ridiculous! Paul started calling people from his class to see if he could get a ride, but no one called him back. He called the land lord to see if he would come to let us in, but he didn't answer either. So we ended up just sitting around outside the house for two hours before our land lord came to let us in, and by the time we got to the school, Paul had already missed his class.

It was such a stupid situation because we SHOULD have copied that car key as soon as we got it so that things like this wouldn't happen. I want to laugh at how stupid the situation was!

But on a different note, my grandpa's funeral was yesterday, and I have not heard how it went. I hope it wasn't too sad for my family. I've tried to make life easy on myself so that I don't get so upset again. It's good to have an awareness of the fragile state that I'm in that so that I can protect myself against an overload. I think of myself as having a huge injury that needs some time to heal before I can be fully functional again.

I'm actually excited, though, that I'm only in school part time this semester. I have big plans for my writing. It will be less stressful to do my blogs now, and I will also have time for my novel! I feel much more confident in my writing ability these days, now that I write thousands of words every day for my job. The words come easily and the insights are not hard to find. I was surprised to find recently that I'm actually much more talented at writing non-fiction than I am at fiction. When I write about real life, I can tell it how it is. I'm not afraid to talk about life exactly as I experience it, and my advice in the blogs is realistic and practical. I tell people to quit worrying about what everyone else thinks and make good health choices because they're good choices to make-- not because people expect them to look or be a certain way. I'm sure the people who hired me didn't intend for me to get political, either, but I find myself talking about the complex issues of health and the economy, and I just can't help myself. I've always wanted to use my writing to make a difference in the world, and I'll do that however I can!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A lesson in emotional endurance.

Wow! Who knew that as soon as I decided to come here, my life would break apart so ridiculously!? I had a breakdown today, and I realized that I have been stretched beyond my emotional capacity to deal. It's no piece of cake to move across the country away from all of your friends. And to lose my grandfather, and now to have another family relationship shattered completely...! It has all taken it's toll, and this morning I just started to cry in my Spanish class. I was trying to get the financial aid error worked out so that I could stay in my classes, but I came to the realization that I would not be able to deal with being in five demanding classes on top of all my emotional drama. I left my class and went to hide in a bathroom stall so that no one would see me crying.

Paul's class got out early and he felt prompted to call me right at that moment. I'm so glad he was able to have the Spirit with him, because I needed him right at that moment. He agreed to meet me at the car and he took me home. I don't know if I've ever had a time in my life that I felt more broken apart than I did at that moment. It was total and complete overwhelm.

But Paul worked me through it and helped to concentrate on breathing, and eventually I was able to calm down. He held me and soothed me and spoke very calmly to me until I gradually started to feel better. He talked me through what had happened and helped me come to the decision to stay in school, but only in two classes so that I will not have too much to do and get overwhelmed again. I will never forget how he set aside all the things he needed to do to care for me in such a loving, compassionate way. He has definitely chosen the right path for his life, going into psychology. He understands people at such a deep level, and he is full of compassion.

I have never felt closer to the Lord than I do today. I understand a little bit deeper than ever before the pain that was suffered by Jesus Christ. All the deep, painful complexities that come from this convoluted mortal existence will eventually end. If I can learn to depend more fully on my Savior and make my life ever more in alignment with Him, I will have all the pain and stress and unhappiness taken away as if it never was. It's good for us to have great sorrow so that we can have great happiness and a deeper peace.

Oh, so now I'm only in my Communications class and my Anthropology class. I think I can handle those, and I feel such a sense of relief! Things are going to be just fine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When does life stop throwing things at you?

My life is spinning so far out of control right now that I feel sick to my stomach! Ugh. Well, my Grandpa has died, and everyone in the family is so sad about it. It has been hard blow for me to be so far away from everyone. I guess emotions are running a bit too high, and this has caused a conflict that has severed one of the most important relationships in my life. There are things that even I won't talk about on a public blog. Let's just say I have had my heart completely broken and I have had to say cruel things to try to come to a point of clarity. I don't like to be mean to other people and I hate hurting them. This fear that I have of hurting other people runs so deep that I cannot usually defend myself in any situation or say anything negative to other people. So I have the classic pressurization problem in which I don't let anything out until it gets to the point that I can't possibly hold it in anymore.

But there's more. I've just found out that I was dropped from all of my classes. Apparently there has been an issue with my transfer credits. I'm a sophomore according to my transfer credits (I have an associates degree), but the computer shows that I have no credits because my transcripts have not been processed. I thought I was getting student aid according to a sophomore status (which is more money), but when it actually came in, I had only recieved enough for a freshman's status. The difference is $1500, which of course I don't have in my pocket. It may be able to be straightened out, but there is a huge beaurocratic procress, and it might just not happen. So as of right now, I'm out of my classes and just waiting for the red tape people to get back to me. There's nothing I can do yet.

So it looks like I may be out of school this semester, after all. I didn't even do anything wrong. It's time to find a job here in Augusta.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

So, I'm one of those Type 2's.

Ah, I've just been reading about ketoacidosis for one of my blog posts. It's the condition that I had when I was finally diagnosed with diabetes last year. Reading about it was slightly traumatic for me, because it makes me realize that I could very easily have died. I had the symptoms for months before I finally went in to see a doctor.

So, I was very, very ill for a long time. I believed that I was a hypochondriac, that my symptoms weren't real, and that a doctor would just tell me to lose weight and send me on my way. After all, that was how doctors had treated me since I was a young teenager and first had symptoms of diabetes. Every single symptom was there, including nerve pain and numbness in my hands and wrists and highs and lows in blood sugar. I know now what was happening, but back then, I had no idea why I felt so sick sometimes after eating and why I couldn't fast for church without becoming sick.

From time to time, Mom would take me to doctors, but frankly, none of them cared at all to find out what was actually going on. They were all quick to judge me for my weight and dismiss me without so much as asking in-depth questions. The only helpful doctor I saw sent me to physical therapy for the pain in my wrists, and this helped me in one way. The therapist told me I had to get out on walks every day. This singular piece of advice saved me for years. I immediately incorporated daily walks into my life and have always done so since. As soon as I started walking every day, the nerve pain faded and I only occasionally have it these days. That's one symptom that's basically gone.

I hate that I have to think about my health every day. And I hate, too, all the articles I read about diabetes online that blame the patients for their disease. Supposedly, type 2 diabetes is a disease that people get because they allow themselves to get overweight in later life and they have a terrible diet. This is a disease for peope who have made bad choices and who have not taken care of themselves. Many health care professionals acts like the disease is something that people deserve.

But I was thirteen when I first had the symptoms. I wasn't overweight. I was very active, hiking with my family regularly, playing basketball and roller blading and biking. Sure, I ate whatever my mom made for me, but I don't think I was drinking the grease from the pan, or anything like that. I want to take responsibility for my health, but seriously. How could I have brought this on myself?

If you want to read about ketoacidosis, look it up Wikipedia. It's pretty scary.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This professor is a power house!

Today I feel more positive about my life. I've just come from my American Government class, and I swear that woman speaks my language! I watched my professor open up the minds of every student in that class. She reasoned with them, introduced new ideas, and watched their comprehension budding. I loved it! She talked about people's myths about the government and how they do not actually base their beliefs on knowledge. I feel like I don't have any right to an opinion if I don't get out there and learn all the realities of what's actually happening. This woman is such a good teacher in the way she lights a fire inside your mind. I'm no longer put out about taking this particular GE. It's amazing!

I say she speaks my language because I have seen this same problem in so many people. They get heated, emotional, and highly confrontational over issues. But when you ask them about the issues, they can't tell you a thing. That's because they don't have any actual knowledge, and it's frustrating. For example, you can be for or against the war in Iraq, but you need to have actual reasons for your position. I get so tired of hearing general vague statements about righteousness or patriotism. I want to shake people and say, "No! Being patriotic isn't enough! What is your reasoning?" And that's what this teacher is requiring of the students. We must learn all we can so that our positions are based in reality.

It's time for me to get learning, then, isn't it?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I need a fortress.

So I finally learned last night about what's happening with my Grandpa Wall. I can hardly believe it! His femur is broken badly, and the surgery to fix it may be fatal. But without the surgery, he will probably not make it. My mom was so emotional when she told me about it all, and I imagine it must be that much harder for my Grandma.

I cannot imagine losing Paul! The very possibility of losing her mate must be so painful and sad for Grandma! I hate even thinking about it. And I'm feeling distinctly depressed about living so far away at this time. I can't go back to Utah to be with the family! There's no way we could possibly afford it.


I guess I'll just have to try to be there over the phone as much as I can and keep trudging on with my new classes. All this change is a little hard to handle right now! I see myself becoming increasing fragile, but I'm not sure what to do about it. I need a fortress to huddle down in for a while...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm still in Junior high.

Sometimes I think I have never gotten out of junior high school. It's ridiculous, but I never seem to be able to feel confident. It's like I expect everyone I meet to not like me. I hate that! How do I make that go away?

I call it my "curse." I've been getting this since I was about fifteen years old. I meet someone, they look at me and immediately dismiss me as if I don't matter at all. I have seen a lot of popular well-liked people in school or church talk to others very charismatically and then treat me like I don't exist at all. It can be maddening, especially if the person was someone I initially admired. And the thing is, I understand the phenomenon intellectually. It makes sense.

I'm overweight with kind of a strange body type, and because of this, I can't find clothes that will fit me that are attractive. Everything I own hangs or catches in some way so that nothing ever quite looks good, and nothing in my wardrobe reflects my personality at all. I consider having clothes that match who you are to be a luxury of the thin. And on top of this, I hate makeup and can't force myself to put it on. So my self-presentation is not great; I think it turns people off to me at a first glance.

And since people have always treated me like a piece of furniture, I find it hard to assert myself, to say, "Hello. I'm a person too, and I matter, even if you find me unattractive." I withdraw deep inside and don't even try.

It's stupid. This whole rant is because a girl at church on Sunday gave me the quick dismiss, and I've been trying to convince myself ever since that it didn't make me feel bad at all. Paul met this girl and her husband before I came up, and he really liked them. But as soon as I appeared, the girl looked at me, dismissed me, and turned away. I should have picked up my scriptures and smacked her! Right in the face. Everyone would know who I was in the ward after that!

So I've never really gotten past junior high yet. Isn't there supposed to be some point at which, you know, you grow up and stop feeling vulnerable and self-conscious? Isn't there a time at which you don't need your peers to like you?

I want some chocolate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Humans and non-humans.

Grrrr... So I just went to my last class... or at least I thought I was going to my last class. I walked in, sat down, and asked the person next to me if I was in Anthropology. She said, "No. Sorry, but this is philosophy." I was so confused. I had to go to another building to find a computer to get online because I thought I had just written down the wrong room number. It turns out that I wrote down the wrong day! My anthropology class is actually Monday/Wednesday, and I had thought it was Tuesday/Thursday. So I managed to miss my first class yesterday....

I emailed the professor right away to explain what I had done, but I don't know if this professor is actually human or not. I say that because I've had both kinds. The human teachers actually care, try to help you out, and listen to what you have to say. As in, if you make a mistake like that, you don't have to be punished. The non-human teachers are the ones who don't believe a word that comes out of a student's mouth and don't care at all about specific situations or personal difficulties. (When I was so sick with diabetes, I was nearly flunked out of math because my teacher was non-human and would not believe that my illness was real.) I tend to favor the human teachers, but you never know before you sign up for a class which kind you're going to get. It's hit and miss.

I'm really like our neighbors. They knocked on our door to let us know that some woman was looking into our car this morning. I don't know if the woman had any bad intentions or not, but I was glad to have neighbors who would let us know that sort of thing.

Last night when I went to do laundry at the laundromat, I ran out of quarters and an African American man gave me another quarter to finish drying my shirts. It was so nice, and such a relief! I'm glad the people here are so nice! They're the human kind of people.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Land of the Cockroaches and Ants

It really is! Two nights ago, I got up in the night to get a drink of water. When I stepped up to the kitchen sink, my big toe crushed something soft. I ran to turn on the light and found a cockroach still alive and twitching... It was NASTY!

I can't believe all the bugs here! Our house is way clean, too. It's not like there's a bunch of trash just sitting around or food left uncovered. I've seen four different kinds of ants within five feet of our house. There are the huge black ones that are all over the trees, the fast scary red ones that feast on dead cockroaches, the little brown ones that infested our car our first night in Georgia, and the tiny ones that you can barely see that seem to like the porches. Who knew so many kinds of ants could live in the same place?

Did I mention the hornets just outside our window, about twice as big as the ones in Utah. There are also the cicadas that keep up a constant cadence. It's a loud throbbing hum that rises and falls all night long. (It's a little hard to describe, but it's not unpleasant.)

We've had a busy week, spending a lot of time at Augusta State University. Paul had an orientation with everyone from his master's program, and he is one of three men. All the rest are women! He made friends with a girl from Colombia who invited us to come to a fiesta tomorrow. I'll let you know how the Colombian food is. I was happy that everyone was nice to him and he feels excited and welcomed into the program. We love Settlers of Catan, and he found some girls who would like to play with us with their husbands.

It turns out that I will be going to school this semester, but my schedule is random. I'm taking most of the generals that will not be covered by my transfer credits, so that I can get them out of the way. So I'm in these classes:

-Fundamentals of Human Communication
-Spanish 1001
-American Government
-Introduction to Weather and Climate (Lab Science credit)
-Cultural Anthropology

That last class is for my minor, which I had to choose yesterday. I figured if I was required to have a minor, I might as well study human cultures. That should help me with my fiction. So now I'm an English major with an emphasis in creative writing and an Anthropology minor. I'm really excited, although I just found out that my text books will cost over $700! If that's not robbery, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A big, long move across America.

I know. It has been an eternity since I last blogged... It's a little hard to do without my own working computer. With my blogging job, I have not had time on limited-use public computers to do this blog. But I have a few minutes right now, and hopefully there will be more time in the future.

Hopefully this won't be too surprising for most of you, but... we're in Georgia now! Paul did get into an Experimental Psychological graduate program here at Augusta State University, and here we are. I had three stressful weeks after we found out before we moved. We couldn't afford any moving van at all, so we ended up stuffing all we could into our car and leaving the rest. It was hard (made me cry), but we left Provo.

The journey was LONG and exhausting, but it was fun too. We stayed at my mom's house for a day and a half and then headed out for Denver. My cousin Lindsey and her husband Nick live there. (I realized just now that I don't know for sure if that's how she spells her name...) They were so nice to us! We had a bed to sleep in and great food to eat. I was sad to go. We drove from Denver all the way across the eastern part of Colorado and the broad expanse of Kansas. We loved Kansas because it was so open, green, and beautiful. The roads were almost empty, and the other drivers were polite and relaxed. I thought it would be a good place to live, although I had to laugh at all the religious billboards that said things like "I trust you, Jesus" and "Christ heals; pornography destroys." We flew through that state into Missouri. We veered from the freeway in Kansas City, Missouri, and headed north to a little town called Kidder, where a friend from Paul's mission lives.

His friend was Ammon Galbraith, and we stayed with him, his wife, and their four little boys. Ammon had taken the next day off work to spend with us, so we stayed in Missouri for a day with the Galbraith's. They took us to Liberty Jail, where the prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned. It was a sweet heart-breaking experience to go there and see the tiny little basement where he was held. The Galbraith's, too, gave us great food and a bed to sleep on. I loved being there.

The next day was the long one. We drove from Kidder back down to Kansas City, across Missouri, into Illinois, through Kentucky, and finally through Atlanta, Georgia and we stopped for the night in Newnan. We stayed with some friends of Paul's from his old home ward, the Royle's. They were awesome, and once again, made us delicious food. (This time, it was a white chicken chili with corn bread!) The Royle's are actually an older couple whose children have all married and moved out, but their kids don't live far, and they called them home for a lunch with us. It was fun!

Newnan is about three hours from Augusta, so we had to make that last drive before we could find a house. Finally we were able to get a cute little blue house in a very quiet neighborhood. The house hadn't been lived in for months and it has required some cleaning on our part, but I love it and I'm so happy to be here. We have yet to meet a mean person here. Seriously everyone we meet is relaxed and nice, even if their accents are so strong that I can't understand half of what they say. And there are A LOT of bugs here, which is something I'm going to have to get used to.

I have had some trouble with my financial aid, and I'm not sure if I'm actually going to be able to go to school this semester. I might have to wait until next semester in order to get the financial aid that I need. That's kind of a pain in the butt, and it might just work out anyway, but in the meantime, I'm looking for another online writing job. I've spent the last hour and a half responding to Craigslist postings for writing jobs, so hopefully one or two of them will be interested in me. Please pray for me! I don't know what's going to happen, but on the bright side, Paul has his financial aid taken care of and he is registered and set to go in his program. I'm really proud of him for getting in, and I'm excited for him. We found the Psychology Department here and met another grad student who was way nice and made Paul feel good.

Well, that's enough for now. Blogs really shouldn't be this long... I'm going to re-do my blog background now, to fit the new settting. This is a different world, after all.