Dec 10, 2012

The Power of the Voice

In a world where each individual is entirely insignificant to the whole, the one thing that makes each of us stand out is our voice, whether in song, in writing, or the words we speak.  As I have read through hundreds of poems from students all across America, two themes stand out:  our search for love and acceptance, and the pain from others' words.

I can't even begin to count how many poems I have come across about the intense hurt students have felt from their peers at school, confessing of the cuts and burns on their arms as a way to release their pain. People are purposely CUTTING themselves, stepping on the line between life and death.  I don't even want to get into how many suicides have resulted from bullying.  Name calling and teasing have become an epidemic that too many are shoving aside as harmless fun, or as a normal part of growing up.  But belittling others is not okay.  How has that one crucial rule of civilization slipped through the cracks?

In the Herald Journal, an article was printed about how a waiter "named" his customers on their receipt, calling them "Fat Girls."  Yes, of course, as a fat girl myself, I'm automatically hurt.  But the real sting comes from the realization that there are still many adults out there who don't realize how emotionally painful words can be.  I read through the comments posted on the article, and was shocked and sickened by how many people laughed about it, poked fun of the women's weight, and showed outright insensitivity.

I can't help but wonder just how many people are unaware of how stinging and hurtful words can be.  Really, really stinging.  I cashiered for a couple years at a local department store.  An amazingly wonderful day could come crashing down to the depths of hell from one simple rude customer.  A name called to me more than 25 years ago in Kindergarten still stings to this day.  I don't care what people say.  Words are the most powerful weapon a person can possess...and everyone is equipped with this power to kill.

I thought that people grew out of the name-calling stage, grew out of the adolescent stage where fat people or ugly people, or dorky people were fun to make fun of.  But it is alive and well, thriving successfully throughout society, and embraced by nearly everyone.  Bullying isn't just about physically harming a person--it's intentionally hurting a person in any way they can...and name calling is one of those ways.  Is it a way for making ourselves feel superior?  Is there a Hitler complex that makes us feel that only beautiful people deserve to live, deserve to be treated fairly, and that everyone else is trash?  Is this who we, as a human race, as spirit brothers and sisters, have become?  Is there any way to stop this, to make others realize the cruelty, the simple wrongness of it all?  Or are we about to face another Holocaust?  Gas chambers or not, cruel words work just as well at tearing the flesh apart and melting away our dignity down the drain.


Words have an amazingly powerful effect on us.  They stick like super-glue and give us our identity, whether we want it to or not.  What a powerful tool to have...yet how careless and reckless so many of us can be!  God created the world with His voice.  What are we doing with the power of our own voices?

Oct 26, 2012

Write Fantastically

I have started working again at Creative Communication, and I am enjoying every minute of it.  I used to dread the essays, because it usually meant a whole lot of grammatical problems, book reports, and boring essays about some dumb historic event.  I loved the creative aspect of poetry, and I loved that I could whip through a packet of 200 instead of greuling over a packet of 300-word essays.  But now...I've had a change of heart.

While poetry is unique, quick and generally picturesque, I love finding the gems hidden in the stacks of essays.  Just today, I read about a student's trip to Italy where she would be staying with her grandmother.  The way the scene was set blew me away.  I loved the details that filled the essay:  the elderly woman's brown skin, designed with wrinkles; the details of the stairs that led to her familiar bedroom, and the smells of cigarettes and pasta:  the smells of Italy.

It's details like these that make an essay fantastic (these, by the way, make it to the list to be eligible for prize money).  I remember an essay I read several days ago about a girl who spied on her scary neighbor.  Although her backyard was marshy and filled with strange-looking weeds and flowers, the old woman cared for them tenderly, giving the writer a feeling that humanized the "monster" who  lived next door.

It is so important to realize that fantastic writing creates a vivid image, whether it's feelings, sights or smells.  Using our senses creates a connection to the story, and makes it something we want to always remember.  When writing, paying attention to the smallest detail can have tremendous influence on the greatness of the story.  Don't just write:  take me there with you.

One story I have become obsessed with lately is called "Swamp Children" by James Colton.

  Read "Swamp Children" here!

The thing that made this story so compelling to me was that it felt as if I were there.  The conversation between characters was so realistic, the voice was so strong, and the real-life feeling to the suspense was fantastic.  One of my most favorite books is "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" by Stephen King.

This is one of those books that isn't outright terrifying, but you're on edge, knowing that something is going to happen.  This book is about a young girl who gets separated from her family on a hiking trip.  As she makes short cuts to catch up, she ends up finding herself hopelessly lost, but she knows that if she just follows the river, it'll eventually lead her down the mountain...until she finds that it just leads her into a creepy swamp area.  It's terrifying that she finds herself walking through knee-deep swamp, and there was just something about that part of the book that really fascinated me.  James Colton's story, then, immediately compelled me to read it simply because of the title, and it was just as satisfying of a story as Stephen King's story was.

Really fantastic writing is, of course, left up to the reader to decide since different things touch us differently.  For me, however, intimate details that most people take for granted are the ones that really suck me into stories...or even essays.  By finding myself in a character (or author's) shoes, the essay or book becomes a part of me, and that's what makes it so fantastic.

Oct 7, 2012

Wishy-washy

Thin, wispy clouds
paper-clipped to a pale, drab sky
like sticky-note intentions
that flutter to the ground
It's days like this
that pull my face down
to stare at my feet
as they pace the tired pavement
Old promises recalled
that blew away
on the breath of his lips
like dandelion fluff
Memories yellowed
tattered
but still lingering near
about to fall
but still hanging on
like clouds
paper-clipped
to a pale, drab sky.

Sep 28, 2012

The Waiting Game

Okay, I'm going to just come out and say it:  I have obsessively been checking my e-mails in hopes of finding an acceptance letter from the agency that requested to read my manuscript.  By obsessive, I mean checking it every hour.  So, today, after checking my e-mails several times, I decided I'd better research this agent.  While I have read MANY great reviews, I am a bit concerned.  Many hopeful authors have written that she, along with other agents, has taken an unusually long time to respond since requesting the manuscript.  Some have said that they have not heard back for MONTHS.  This is not good for my obsession.

I know that getting published is a very long process, and that a LOT of waiting happens.  I guess that since her initial response was 14 hours, I got greedy, and expected the process to be super quick.    Patience, by the way, is not a virtue I possess.  I'm going out of my mind with the hopeful expectation that someone is finally going to publish the book that I started two years ago...but I may be waiting another year.

Funny link to what waiting to be published feels like


Anyway, I think now might be a good time to start writing another book so I don't go crazy with all of this waiting.  Waiting, you know, isn't very good for your health.

Sep 26, 2012

Another Chance

It has been about two weeks since I last submitted a whole bunch of queries to agents...twenty-six agents, to be exact.  This time around, I didn't cringe when I read that some agencies requested the first five pages with my query, because I was actually comfortable with those pages.  I have gotten back four rejects...which, in reality, isn't too bad, considering the math.  I was pretty hopeful to hear back from one particular agent, since last year, before I revised my book, he had requested the manuscript. This was an exciting time for me since he responded within just a few short days of receiving my query.  However, he informed me that it wasn't quite what he had been looking for, and sent me on my way.  Although I was disappointed, I wasn't surprised.  I didn't particularly like several parts of my book, but the thrill of actually finishing a large piece of work was greater than my desire to change it.

Just a few months ago, after picking my book back up again, I ended up revising it a lot, and added twice as much to the story to make it a happily-ever-after type book.  It was hard work, but I finally was pleased with the finished product.  Anyway, I was kinda bummed after I resubmitted my new query letter to this one agent, because I still haven't heard back from him.  I thought for sure he'd be one of the ones interested.   I know it's not realistic to expect an immediate answer, but I guess my hopes were high with his quick response the last time.

My desire to become a published author is pretty strong.  With one of my good friends, Stacy Carrol, as a published author, I knew that my dream could actually become a reality...but I needed to do something about it.  I liked my book, my sister liked my book, so surely there were some agents who might like my book.  Instead of waiting around, I re-submitted twenty new queries last night, this time changing my genre to chick-lit instead of narrative.  Every now and then, when I submit to an agency, I receive an automated message letting me know that they received my e-mail.  Last night, I got two, and decided against reading them this morning.  I was so relieved when I read them, because one of them was a reminder to send in my first 50 pages.  It said I could just resubmit my original query with the attachment.  I reviewed my sent e-mails, and realized that I hadn't attached it! (I don't even know if I had been aware I was to send in those pages.)  So, I re-submitted, then went to bed.

This morning, before even 8:00 a.m., I obsessively checked my e-mail, knowing full well that it was unreasonable to get a response.  I had gotten two!  Of course, they were rejects, but there was still the satisfaction of getting an answer, instead of waiting around for weeks on end, wondering if they had forgotten me.  When Spencer came home from school, I let him know that two of my queries had quickly been thrown into the slush pile.  Lucky me.  I got back on the internet, and saw another response.  "Oh look, another reject," I told him as I clicked my e-mail opened.   I skimmed the e-mail (just in case), when suddenly, "Hey, wait!!"  I re-read my e-mail, and realized that one agency (the one I had sent the first 50 pages of my manuscript to) had requested to read my full manuscript!

What makes me excited about this time around is that the first several pages aren't nearly as great as my last several pages, and so I'm pretty hopeful about this one.  Anyway, just thought I'd pass on the great news!

Sep 18, 2012

How to Get Gray Hair in 30 Days

Being a mom is tough. Really tough. It's almost like I'm a 90-year old driving: I know I can do it, I've done it before, but it's not MY fault everyone else around me acts like a bunch of crazies. I've got 4 little boys. My oldest just started Kindergarten. Yes, I know. Maybe it's ME who's the crazy one. Anyway, things get pretty loud at my house. I'm talking about firecrackers-on-the- 4th-of-July- that-cause-you-to-stuff-anything-you-can-find-into-your-ears kind of loud. And that's just me.

Moms, I've decided, should grow an extra pair of arms with their pregnant belly. That way, there's arms to hold the baby, and the extra set to get things done. Moms of children who are 2-years old should be able to split themselves apart into 4 separate people. That way, one can run into the bathroom to turn off the sink for the tenth time, the other can chase down the child and change his toxic diaper while the third one picks up the perma
nent markers that just got opened and thrown all over the floor, all while the fourth one can actually get dinner made on time.
As if life weren't crazy enough with whining, arguing, crying, kids taking toys from each other, picking up messes every five minutes, nursing the baby, feeding baby solids, putting the baby down for his naps every three hours, I'm expected to actually stay sane while doing the laundry, washing the dishes, getting my child to and from school on time, and somehow manage to squeeze in a shower or two (if I'm lucky) that week. With my husband gone all day at school, and all night at work, I can't help but wonder if I actually am married or not. I typically get to see him maybe an hour or two every day. On a good day. The problem with his schedule is that his work schedules him two days off a week...and it changes every week. He never gets two days off in a row, and they are never on the weekends. So even when he IS home from work, he's either doing homework, or he's collapsing into bed at 8:30 at night from severe lack of sleep. Our private time together usually involves, "Go shut the kids up so I can take a nap," while I practically drag him out of bed and collapse on top of the covers for an hour.

There should be a rule that if you're a mom, you automatically get ten uninterrupted hours of sleep. Every night. How else are we to survive? Okay, I'll compromise. Moms should be fully functional on 5 hours of sleep, and not get tired. Ever. Instead of sending moms home from the hospital with a brand new diaper bag with their newborn, we should be sent home with a year's worth of freezer dinners. When you buy a minivan, car dealerships should offer an entire year's worth of groceries delivered to your home for free. If you've got a van, it's obvious that you've got too many kids to actually get any shopping done. Minivan buyers also should be given complementary hair dye, as well, because with that many kids, it's obvious that we've gone prematurely gray.

Sep 3, 2012

Just Like Christmas Morning



You know that feeling of excitement that completely overtook you as a child the night before Christmas? It was a feeling of magic mixed with anticipation and faith, and the night seemed to never end. And then, when it was finally time to rush into the family room and tear open the presents, you knew you were in heaven. A day of sweet joy was sure to follow the hoards of candy and piles of gifts and endless sounds of laughter from you and your family.

That wonderful feeling is something I have felt on many different occasions in my life. One of those just-like-Christmas-morning experiences is pregnancy (and no, I'm not pregnant, so don't get any ideas). I love taking pregnancy tests.
I've had four children, and I still buy the tests...just to see. It drives my husband crazy, but I love
the anticipation of it. I love having a baby grow inside of me. It's that same feeling of just-before-Christmas magic, wondering at first if it's a boy or girl, and then wondering what they'll look like. I love the feeling of being in labor. No, I'm not crazy, and yes, it hurts in a wonderful agonizing sort of way (but don't ask me if I like it during labor!). But the best part of it all is knowing that the time has come. I love driving to the hospital and riding up the elevator, and getting admitted. I hate the waiting part, because my labors are always unnaturally long, and I swear that my baby will never be born, but I love the fact that behind the closet doors in the labor and delivery room is a little glass bassinet, soon to hold my little one.
Then, after hours of waiting, it's time for the epidural. These are sort of like the class bully telling you there's no such thing as Santa Claus, and laughing at you for believing, but once it's over and you're pushing and then the doctor shouts out that he sees the head, and one push later, your baby is crying, you know that you are in heaven, and that magic still exists. I love holding the baby that I carried for nine months, feeling him push and kick and strain my muscles and pinch my nerves, because he's mine, all mine.


I love their sweet little bodies, all shriveled and dry, their microscopic fingers and toes that are so perfect, and their bright, beautiful eyes as they look into my face. I love their warm body, snuggled so calmly against mine, and that beautiful little cry, because it's their voice, the voice I've waited to hear for nearly a year. I love the little fingers wrapping around my own, the hair that I'm so proud of for reasons I'll never quite understand, and the way they smell. I love little babies, even though they keep me up at night and make me grouchy the next day.

I love the fact that I have added another member to my family, a child that I can learn to know, teach, guide, laugh with, cry with, and be a mommy to. I love being a mom. Yes, it's extremely hard, tiring, frustrating, and at times can be so lonely for reasons I just don't quite understand. But I have the love of four little boys who look up to me for guidance and assurance. I love being surrounded by love. Maybe this is why I'm so baby hungry. I love love!

Aug 25, 2012

Mommy Lessons


Several things have been going through my brain lately that are Mommy-related (hmmm...I wonder why?). This post will just be random thoughts and observations about being a mom.
Why do I always bathe the baby, and THEN feed him?
Why do I bother giving my baby toys, when in reality, his favorite items to play with are my stray hairs that he finds on the carpet?
I don't need to vacuum since my 6 month old picks everything up anyway.
No one wants to play with my 4-year-old at the park, because he chases them and screams with
his angry pirate voice, trying to kill them with an imaginary sword. But when he chases them singing "Pretend, pretend! Pretend, pretend!" he suddenly has lots of friends.
As soon as the bathroom door shuts, all heck breaks loose with my children.
If I'm trying to sneak a cookie, my children ALWAYS come inside right as I'm about to take a bite.
If I'm dying for a nap, it's guaranteed that I won't get one.
If my child claims that there is a bat in the house...there probably is.
Time outs work really well if I play soft piano music on the CD player.
Family prayer and scriptures do WONDERS for the overall feeling in our home. There is less fighting, and I am less likely to lose my temper.
Every night, the boys watch a movie at 6:30pm. It's downtime that I need, and the 30 minutes is perfect length for my 2 year old to sit through.
Knots in kite strings are not impossible to undo. They are simply a series of misunderstandings.
My baby is not a messy eater. I am just a messy feeder.
After feeding the baby, ALWAYS wipe under his neck.
I love Luvs diapers, but they do an incredible job of masking poopy diapers (which technically isn't a bad thing, unless I let my poor baby sit in it too long).
When I hear "I'm going to tell Mommy!" I usually tune out the tattling.
I was given advice that I should act as if my baby is the last one I'm going to have. By enjoying each moment with him, I have enjoyed everything, even his adorable cry. It makes being a mom so wonderful.
As I was sitting outside holding the baby and the other boys were playing in the dirt, I began pondering how great life was, and how wonderful I had it. And then my 2-year-old surprised me by throwing a fistful of dirt right into the baby's face.

Aug 12, 2012

In Times of Poverty

Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive, but I need to put this out there. I'm tired of those who have money criticizing those of us who are desperate enough to need to survive off of food stamps and Medicaid. My husband works full-time...and goes to school full-time. I am trying to follow the counsel of the prophet by remaining a stay-at-home mom and raising my precious children, even though I have a degree. With four children and one income, we are poor. Dirt poor. But that's okay, because struggling is a part of life. I always expected to be poor as I pictured myself newly married. I just didn't expect to be this poor with FOUR children.

My husband has been working his way through college for many years now. Why so long? When we had our first baby, his company switched clients, which in turn changed the available work hours. He was now required to work when he was supposed to be in classes. My husband had a choice to be unemployed and go school (and somehow pay our bills), or quit school and work until we saved enough. It didn't take a lot of pondering. During this time in our life, we were barely scraping by as we tried paying off my student loans (and hospital bills from my son's birth) as quickly as possible. We had $100 a month for groceries, toilet paper, dish soap, and anything else necessary. One HUNDRED dollars. Everything else went towards bills. By the time we had our second child, we realized that we really needed food stamps, because $100 was NOT cutting it...especially with two young ones in diapers.

I am so grateful that while applying for food stamps, the case worker suggested that we also apply for Medicaid. We really didn't want to, because we didn't want to be beggars, but we decided that with free dental care for our children, and no co-pays for doctor visits, it would REALLY be beneficial. And it's a darn good thing we got it. When I was 30 weeks pregnant with my third child, I had experienced severe abdominal pain. I thought nothing of it (thinking I worked too hard at preparing dinner) until that night, I bled. I cried and cried, because I had already experienced the trauma of a miscarriage, and I did not want to experience one again...especially this far along. The next night, my water broke. I was taken by ambulance down to the McKay Dee hospital in Ogden (can you imagine THAT bill?). I was then told that I was to remain there, away from my entire family, the entire time until my baby was born. He wasn't due for another ten weeks. I felt alone, terrified, and hopeless. I remained in the hospital on bed rest for an entire month. Then, when my baby was born, he was taken to the NICU for two weeks. During that time, I stayed in on-site lodging, visiting my baby to nurse and hold him. When we finally returned home and we started getting the bills, I was horrified. It would have cost the same amount as a small house. Medicaid saved our lives.

So here we are, approaching our seventh anniversary, and my husband is STILL at his low-paying job. Why? He had found other employment with much higher salary, but when he injured both knees, tearing the ACL and miniscus on both, he needed a sit-down job. And this was what he had to resort to. So why are we renting a house, you might ask, and not a cheaper apartment? This house's rent is CHEAPER than an apartment. Why? Because the incredible landlords are the most selfless people ever to walk this planet. They are not out to make money, but to provide shelter. So why hasn't my husband graduated yet? If it weren't for his stupid anatomy class that is so difficult for him to pass (he's already taken it twice), he would be graduating this fall. But since it's a prerequisite for another class required for graduation, he must postpone graduation until he passes both classes, each different semesters. Until he graduates and finds an actual career, we're stuck here in a valley that offers mostly minimum wage jobs, living in a super affordable house, because frankly, we can't afford to move anywhere else where there might be a higher-paying job. While it may seem like we're destitute, we're not, because we have food on our table, and my children are healthy, because they are able to see the doctor, and my husband can go to work because he was able to get his knees repaired.

I just want to put it out there that I am so incredibly grateful to be living in such a great country that offers its people financial help. Had we been in living in another country, we'd be living in a cardboard box, and my children would have died from starvation. While there may be some who are abusing the system, it's not fair to criticize those of us who truly ARE in need. It's okay to be poor, and it's okay to accept help when it is offered. But it's not okay to judge in anger just because your table is full from the work of your own hands.

Aug 7, 2012

Finishing Up My Book

After about a year of not even looking at my book, I finally picked it up a few weeks ago and began revising it...and now, I am loving it. One piece of advice my husband gave me that REALLY helped me out a lot is to highlight paragraphs/sentences that just don't seem to settle right, whether I know why or not. I am so glad he told me that, because I had LOT of things in my book that I secretly hated, but I guess I felt obligated to keep them in, because they were a part of my story. I ended up deleting a LOT of things, which is good, because the stories I really wasn't too thrilled about ended up being cut down to a size that was more appropriate, and I wasn't bored by them anymore.
Another piece of advice my husband gave me was to stick to my theme, and not go off on so many tangents. I renamed my story, changing it from "Waiting for Cupid" to "Finding my Fairy Godmother." With the story centered around a Cinderella theme, I had several references throughout my story to Cupid, "the gods," my wishing star, and, of course, my fairy godmother. So when my husband suggested I take out all the references to everyone but my fairy godmother, I was mad, and refused...until I read my book again, and realized how right he was. There was way too much chaos. Now, my book is tighter and more coherent.
Having an outside opinion is one thing, but sometimes getting advice from a spouse can be annoying, since I tend to think that I am right, and he's...not as right. ;) But, after considering all of his advice, my book is so much better right now! Editing is hard work, especially when you fall in love with what you have, and someone tells you that it needs to be changed. When I first ended my book, I left it on a bad note. My husband suggested to me that I change it into more of a love story, reminding me that if I had picked up this book from the library and read it, I would be annoyed with the ending. I kicked and screamed, and refused to change it...because making it into a love story required far more work than I was willing to put into it...thus the year-long hiatus from my book. Now that my book is complete, I get an excited, satisfied feeling when I read the last chapter, because I am happy with how it ends. It actually feels complete, and I think others will feel that, too.
My one major motivation for getting this done is because I came across a publishing company that is looking to publish novellas 30,000-50,000 words long, and they're only accepting manuscripts for one more month. My original book was 24,000 words long, but it is now up to 42,000, which is exactly what they are looking for. After a year of not even looking at my book, and then suddenly becoming motivated to fix it up again, I was surprised when I found that this company was looking for exactly what I was working on (not many publishers are thrilled about publishing novellas). If this wasn't fate, I don't know what is. Now, if I can just finish it up and make it perfect, I may have a shot at publishing! But if not...I can always try again next year.

Jul 26, 2012

Students-Publish at Poetic Power!

At poeticpower.com, students can submit their poems and get them published! Any grade K-12 can submit. August 16 is the upcoming deadline, so have your child start practicing! Throughout my blog, I have several different types of poems that give examples of what is out there in terms of poetry types. Check it out! You can also get on Poetic Power's website, and get the same information. If you click on the green "Teacher's Corner" tab in the upper right hand corner, you will be directed to a list of resources. Click on "Internet Poetry Resource," select a grade, then "type of poetry," and then you can scroll through the list of possible types of poems.

Getting published early on is a great way to get your child's foot in the door in the publishing world, and as a poetry judge, I would love to share some great tips that would help your child get published! Poetic Power is a company that offers just enough of a competitive edge to make a published student feel proud. Not everyone who submits gets published, but I have found a pattern in what makes a poem really great...or really dumb.
1. We can tell when a poem is submitted just to be submitted. "A dog and a frog sat on a log drinking eggnog" will NOT get published. Neither will, "My mom is dumb, my brother is mean, I love bacon and the color green." Ugh. I swear, if I ever come across another bacon poem, I think I will scream.
2. Poems do NOT need to rhyme. While many great poems I've read have rhymed, a really, really bad rhyme anywhere in the poem will make it so the poem is not published. An example of this is, "Kittens are soft, I love the way they lick my nose, they are so friendly, I think I'll take a doze." If it's not going to rhyme with anything, don't force a dumb one in there.
3. The best poems I have read are based off of true feelings or experiences. Some of my favorite ones are about the students' hobbies, such as basketball, ballet, reading, or even writing. Death of a loved one, a love poem, or even poetry about boredom are also great topics.

On the website poeticpower.com, you can check out the poem of the day in the top right hand corner for an idea, or you can click on the orange "winners" tab in the upper right hand corner to read past winning poems. All poems that are accepted will get published, with the opportunity to buy the book. (But make sure you send in your permission to printl!!) I really hope you can get your child motivated to submit a poem for this contest! There are 3 poetry contests each year. The deadlines are as follows:
Spring: August 11, 2013
Summer: August 12, 2012
Fall: December 6, 2012

Good luck!

Jul 23, 2012

Stormy Day

You know how there's something invigorating and exciting when you wake up to sunny, blue skies and birds chirping, and you know it's going to be a perfect day? That's how I feel when I see a storm approaching. The skies become charcoal in the distance, and the mountains and valley get this incredible golden glow as the clouds creep closer and deepen in color. The way the leaves swish,
and the sweet smell of
approaching rain are things I enjoy...but then the
thunder rumbles deeply and quietly, and I get this incredible sensation, like something great is about to happen. And then it does. An ominous CRACK explodes in the sky, the rain gushes from the clouds, and lightning pierces through the thick, heavy sky, threatening to strike from ten different directions. The rain crashes to the ground,
and it sounds like rice spilling over my kitchen floor. I am entranced, the way most are when they stare into fire. I absolutely love storms. I love the thrill
when the lights flicker in the early evening, and then go out. I love the black canvas of the sky as bright lights scrape against it, the streets as huge puddles form, the cold wind that engulfs us with the sweetest of all perfumes, and the symphony of the thunder.

I am incredibly lucky that my family shares my love for this great show of nature. If black clouds are in the distance, my husband helps me gather the kids, and we clamber into our van to chase down those clouds and catch the rain. We actually chased a storm clear
into Idaho one year, but we never quite caught up to it. On one occasion, when the rain poured down long and hard, my husband
drove us all around town, searching for the biggest puddles to drive our car through. I swear I thought we were going to get stuck, because the streets were flooding so badly, but we all loved it, and went around the block a second and third time on the really big ones. On days where gas money is tight, we sit on our porch, wrapped in warm blankets with bare feet, and we watch. If the wind is too strong, we watch from our open windows, lights turned off to catch all of the glory. "Did you hear the fumder?" my children excitedly shriek at each little rumble. Storms are my family's favorite event.

But then, just as suddenly as it has come, the storm stops. My heart sinks as the clouds wring out their last few drops, and when the sun pushes the blackness away. I search the sky for any lingering flashes of light, and shush those around me with the hopes of catching one last parting sound of thunder...which never comes. I hate the ending of storms. It's like the day after Christmas when the excitement is gone, and when regular songs are back on
the radio. When the storm has ended, there's nothing left to watch, nothing left to listen to. Sure, rainbows are pretty, but they are nothing to the blinding flashes of lightning. Yes, I love to hear the songs of birds, but it's such a letdown after hearing the booming thunder. Maybe it's the infrequency of Utah storms that make them so special to us, and for that I am grateful. It gives me something wonderful to look forward to.

Jul 21, 2012

Lazy lazy lazy!



If there's one thing I HATE in life, it's being lazy. And if there's one thing I'm amazingly good at, it's being lazy. My dishes tend to pile up after a week of an incredibly clean kitchen, because I get too lazy to wash out that ONE pan. But somehow, it breeds overnight like a rabbit, and the next morning,
I'm bombarded by an army of dishes that are threatening to overtake my house. Let's not even start with laundry. Well, no, I refuse to be lazy. Let's talk about laundry. One of life's great little luxuries are laundry chutes. You don't know how great they are until you actually get one. No more clothes hampers bulging with clothes (probably spilling out onto the floor), no more hauling a heavy laundry basket around on your hip as you wobble to the washing machine. Nope. With a laundry chute, everything gets thrown down...and forgotten...until yo
u venture into the laundry room. You might as well bring SCUBA gear, because you're drowning in an ocean of moldy-smelling towels, soiled sheets, muddy pants and wet socks turned inside out. It's a nightmare (especially during spider season--eek!). The first load or two aren't bad, but if I don't get those things folded and put away, both my laundry baskets get stored in my closet for a week or so, piled high with clothes that I pick through for the next several days until the basket is practically emptied. And yes, I have two laundry baskets, because I know I never fold laundry. I convinced my husband to buy me a second one, explaining that if I always had an empty basket to take downstairs to unload the dryer, laundry would be guaranteed to get done. Guess what? Maybe if I get ten more baskets, I could uphold that promise! I don't know why I get too lazy to fold. I actually enjoy doing it. Okay, I hate sorting clean lau
ndry when my shirts and socks get mixed in with kitchen towels and baby socks...especially if
I'm folding when the kids are asleep, and I can't put the laundry away in their rooms. Yes, it would appear that laziness is my true nemesis.
Being lazy is a pattern that is truly difficult to break. At night, when the kids are all in bed and the night is mine to take on, I can guarantee you that I won't be in my room, folding socks. Nope. I'm on the computer, watching a movie. The kitchen floor isn't mopped (but I can guarantee you that it WILL get mopped at midnight in about 12 days when I'm suddenly hit with the urge to clean). The garbage cans are still full, the children's shoes are still scattered on the floor, and the dining room table most likely is filled with empty dinner dishes (and milk that my son refused to drink).
As I sit here confessing, I
can't help but wonder how I got this way. I used to abhor messes. I couldn't believe when I saw how dirty my soon-to-be husband's stove was, or when I heard about girls who hated doing laundry, or when I saw my friend's (gasp) unmade bed! How could anyone let their living room be littered with toys? Just pick up the dozen toys scattered, and it would look great! I will admit that I have improved over the last year, but that's because I suddenly realized that living like a pig isn't my right as a tired mother.
How I keep house is a choice, because my husband can attest how my home's cleanliness affects my mood. I am so much happier when I wake up in the morning to a clean house. Cooking doesn't become a dreaded chore, because my counters are clear and (almost) sparkly. I'm willing to make chocolate chip cookies with my children, because there's room to make a mess!
Last week, my m
other-in-law asked me to edit her personal history she has been working on for over a year now. I anxiously took it, eager to edit. You know what's sad? This is the second time she has given it to me. The first time she put it in my hands, I was too lazy, and it went unread for several months. Today, she asked if I had read any, and with great shame, I had to admit that I had not. Laziness is my true enemy.
With that awful shame as my new motivator, I determined that I was going to get some editing done tonight. As I sat down at the computer, my nemesis attacked me. A mental list of possible movies ran through my mind as I flipped the screen open. But I endured. I began reading, and I am so glad I did, because what I read was truly amazing!
Every time I accomplish something I have been putting off, I slap myself, wondering why on earth I hadn't done it sooner! I remember a huge project I was given at the beginning of one of my college semesters. It loomed over my head every day, but I succumbed to laziness,
postponing it until the LAST. POSSIBLE. MINUTE. The night before it was due, I sat down to complete a monster of a project. And there I realized, after an hour, that it actually wasn't a monster.
Why do we do that? Why do I so often become a slave to laziness, when I know how much better off I am without it? Every day is a battle, and it's daunting, because even though I mastered my weakness today, I still have to face it again tomorrow. And I don't know if I'll be strong enough.

Jul 17, 2012

If (Dating) Adults Were Like Babies

Everything babies do is adorable, but can you imagine what things would be like if adults did those things, especially on a date?
When your date comes to pick you up and he's walking you to his car, you have to run back inside and change underwear, because you've just messed yourself.
Once you're cleaned up and inside his car, you fall asleep after you're buckled in. And you drool.
When you get to the restaurant, you're tired and don't want to leave the car, so you suck your thumb to soothe yourself.
After you've been seated, the waiter approaches, and you don't like the way he looks, so you cry. After he brings you your drink, you stare at him and laugh. And then you pull his finger.
While you guzzle your drink, it spills all over your chin. You cough, because you drank too fast, and your full mouth gets emptied all over your clothes.
You realize you can't breathe as well as you should, so you sneeze to clear everything out.
You intently watch everyone around you, and smile at them. You avoid eye-contact with your date at all costs. You cry if he tries too hard to get you to laugh.
When you get your food, you squish it with your hands, because the texture is just so amazing. You throw some at your date so he can feel it, too, if he wants.
After you've eaten, you let out a long, satisfying burp. And then another. And then you throw up.
On your way to the movie theater, you fall asleep again.
After you've found your seat, your date hands you the bucket of popcorn. You're so excited to be in a theater that you knock the entire bucket over with your flailing arms.
When the movie's about to start and the lights dim and the room is finally quiet, you break wind.
During the movie's climax, you decide you're ready to start babbling. Loudly.
Your date tries to soothe you by rubbing your hair, and then you realize how bored you are. He walks with you up and down the aisle for the rest of the movie.
You discover your date's car keys in his pocket, and you decide you really need to suck on them. So you do. And then you realize that you want to suck on his fingers. But they taste salty from the popcorn, so you spit them out. And then you give them a second try. And then a third try. And then you try your own. Ahh. Much better.
As your date walks you back to his car, you demand to suck on his car keys again. They're still wet from earlier.
You cry when he takes them away, and you cry when you're buckled in your seat. Then you look down and notice your shoes, so you pull them off and play with your toes for the entire ride home.
When you reach your house, your date helps you put your shoes back on. You grin at him with a large, toothless grin, and he forgets all the trouble you caused him earlier.
He walks you to your doorstep. Just as he goes in for a kiss, you decide to blow raspberries.
It's a good thing adults are not like babies!

Jul 16, 2012

My first job and first encounter with the police!



I remember the summer I turned 16. I was finally able to date, and I was finally able to get a job. This was going to be the year I finally officially grew up. My best friend got hired at Target in the clothing department, and I knew that that was going to be where I also wanted to go. I was ecstatic when I got called in for my interview. My very first job interview! Before meeting with H.R., I was given an enormous packet to fill out. The questions seemed fairly easy, until I reached on that I still don't understand to this day: Are you street smart? Okay, was this a trick question? Were they referring to knowledge on the street pertaining to drugs, or did it mean I was competent in general knowledge? I sat sweating for five minutes, mulling over this awful question. Finally, I just answered. To be honest, I don't even know how I answered it. Then, to make matters worse, when I was called in to meet with H.R., I was told that all of the retail positions had been filled. Was I interested in being a cart collector? Were they actually being serious? What a disaster that interview ended up being! I turned down the job, because I wasn't desperate...yet.

After a while, I came across an opening as a kennel attendant at Parrish Creek Veterinary Clinic. I nervously made my way into the building to pick up a job application. When I came inside, I excitedly witnessed a woman wiping down the weight scale that a nervous dog had...left a present on. I somehow knew that I would be the one doing that! After I had filled out my application and sweated through my references, I finally made it back to turn it in. I was called for an interview a short time later. It was during the interview that I was told that the job was mine. It was perfect!

Working as a kennel attendant was an amazing...and amazingly difficult job. I learned to do things I never in a million years pictured doing, such as developing x-rays and assisting with surgery. My daily duties included sweeping out each exam room and spraying down the sink, tables and chairs with a potent-minty spray that I secretly loved. I swept up dogs' huge, black toenail clippings, emptied the garbage, and restocked tongue-depressors, needles, and anything else. I washed out syringes, scrubbed down the tray used for dental work, and sanitized dental equipment with an autoclave (sort of like a pressure cooker, but for medical instruments). I washed towels for the kennels, washed and dried cats and d
ogs, held onto little parakeets with sweaty hands while the vet examined them.
I helped euthanize pets, and carried their limp bodies out back to the freezer. I held a snake, picked up dog poop, and got attacked by a dalmatian, which gave me a black eye. I sprayed out
kennels, fed the animals, and *gulp* answered the phone sometimes. Then, when everyone had left for the day, I filed, swept, mopped, and weighed the animals, medicating them if necessary. It was a tough, tough job.

One particularly bad night brought the cops by. It still makes me sick to think about. I had been in the back, cleaning, when I heard a knock at the front door. Curious, I went out front, and saw a woman with a dog. I believe she told me that she found the dog, and wondered if we'd board him overnight for her, and she'd pick him up in the morning. I was nervous, and uncertain of what our protocol was, and ended up taking him in. It wasn't until she left that I realized what a stupid mistake I had made. But what was I supposed to do? I felt sick with guilt...and then I heard loud, booming knocking on the front door a short time later. I was terrified. I stayed in the back with my mop, and turned up the radio. If I pretended I didn't hear them, maybe they would go away. The knocking continued, and then I heard a garbled voice over a loud speaker.
What? I peeked around the corner, and saw flashing red and blue lights. What were the police doing here?! If there had been a back door, I'm pretty certain I would have fled for my life. Instead, I forced myself to go out front and let them in. Luckily, they just informed me that someone saw the lady drop the dog off, and that I wasn't responsible for boarding it, and they took the dog away. What a relief that they weren't going to take me away in handcuffs!

That was by far the hardest job I had ever had. I loved what I did, but some days proved to be an incredible challenge. When my last day of work approached, I found out that two people were going to replace me. Too bad they didn't realize they were short-handed when I had worked there!

Jul 13, 2012

Summer Free Verse Poetry

Free verse poetry is super easy to write. There are no rules, just the way I like it sometimes. I think this type of poetry is true to the heart, and all of my poems I wrote growing up were free verse. Of course, they were all love poems at the time, so by the time I grew up, I was pretty tired of them. Anyway, here are 2 that I wrote.

Summer Sky


Dollops of

Whipped cream clouds

Float

Across the blueberry syrup sky.


Catalyst


Water has no scent

Until it splashes on a hot July sidewalk

Lightning makes no sound

Until it strikes a tree down

The sound of my voice

Drops down to my feet

Unless a canyon wall scoops it back up

And tosses it back and forth

The wind is silent

Until it shakes the sleeping trees

And my heart goes unnoticed

Until it falls in love.

Jul 8, 2012

Identity Crisis

You know how they say there are only 2 certain things in life--death and taxes? Well, I've just found a third: identity crisis. You'd think that by now, I'd be over the whole searching-for-my-identity thing, but the truth is, it's an ongoing process I don't think I will EVER achieve.

When I was a child, I was SHY. I'm not talking about speaking quietly or offering a small smile to strangers. This was painful shyness, one where if I found out we were going to eat out at a restaurant, I was mortified that people might look at me while I ate. With the last name of Frye, I was casually teased by boys who made me horrified of my last name, and if all possible, I would avoid letting people know it. So when a boy happened to pass me at school wearing my same UGLY blue moon boots, I thought I would die. And when my mom made me wear a plastic bag tied around the cast on my leg. And when I found out we were doing all those physical exercise tests in P.E. the only day I decided to wear my tightest pair of jeans. Yeah. Life was tough for a shy girl. I remember coming home from school one day ecstatic because I actually got in trouble for talking in class. Ecstatic...because I had talked...loudly!

Once I reached junior high/high school age, my self-worth was based off of how many friends I had. On the last day of school, I would seek out as many acquaintances as I could to sign my yearbook, so that maybe, when I was looking back at them fifteen years down the road, I might forget that I really only had like five really good friends. I honestly thought that the more signatures I had, the more my life was worth.

This was also the time period where I thought I was nobody because I didn't have a boyfriend. The only girls whose lives I desperately wanted were those who were going out on dates, kissing boys, or holding hands with boys. Even those girls who simply got asked to dance got my full serving of envy. This identity crisis followed me to college.

I was certain that once I reached college, I would meet the man of my dreams, and get married within a year or two. My new identity was "single." Then, something strange happened. I suddenly turned into the world's biggest flirt. I lost my fear of boys, and shyness flew out the window. When I told people that I used to be shy, their mouths dropped open in disbelief. There was no way this girl was EVER shy! I was now officially "flirt." How many guys I had swarming me was the reason for my self-worth. I was now a dating machine, securing dates nearly every single weekend. If I went two consecutive weeks without a date, I thought my life was over. Who I was depended on how many guys liked me.

The one milestone I had desperately wanted to reach since I was probably 3 years old was getting married. Once I got married, all of my problems would magically vanish. I would be an adult, I could handle anything life threw my way, I would be mature, pretty, friendly, successful, and, of course, envied. So, when I finally got that gorgeous engagement ring, I smugly flaunted my new "engaged" status. I turned my nose up at good-looking single guys, because suddenly, I was better than them. I was going to get married. And they weren't. Those gorgeous, flirty, skinny girls were suddenly beneath me, because I had a shiny diamond on my finger, and they didn't. I relished the dirty looks they gave me, and happily accepted my roommates' sneers as I admired the most coveted item in the "single" world. I couldn't be happier.

Once I was married and home from the honeymoon, "newlywed" status, I learned, wasn't anything great. The family ward my husband and I went to was pretty transient, so you were a nobody unless you were either in the ward for over a year, or you had children. People eagerly wanted to know when we would become parents. Nobody cared anymore about the diamond on my finger.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I was ecstatic. "Pregnant" was awesome! I was on my way to becoming a mother...until I got sick. "Pregnant" was not that great. I gained half a million pounds, and was forced to eat and eat and eat so I wouldn't keep throwing up. My back ached, it was hard to get up and get things, I was tired all the time, and I just wanted to be a mother.

Eight months later, my status changed. Finally. "Mother" was what I had always wanted. I was officially an adult--although, honestly, I didn't feel like it. It took almost an entire year before my son was able to sleep through the night. I was tired, grouchy, didn't want to clean, and because it was so cold outside, was stuck inside my little apartment with a crying baby while my husband ditched me...for work. And then school. I was lonely, bored, stressed, and because I was married, I had no guys to validate my worth. Naps were vital for my baby, and so I gave up spending time with friends. "Mother" stunk!

While I had a hard time adjusting to my new role, I was aware that my status would rise if I had several children. The more children you had, the better/more successful mother it meant you were. So I was happy when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. When I saw pictures of my college friends who were mothers to three, four children, I knew I had to "catch up" to them. Mormon moms needed lots of children. That's just how it was supposed to be.

So, here I am, mom to four little boys, hair graying probably a little faster than it should. I was tired, stressed, and needed a break. I got a great part-time job, because "Mother" just wasn't as glamorous as I was certain it should have been. I wanted another role in life. I was now "contest judge", "employed" and I knew I was finally somebody again. But I felt that ache as I drove to work every day, guilty for leaving my husband home with three young boys and a newborn. I should have been home. I needed to be there, cooking for my family, baking cookies, mopping the floors, folding laundry, instead of sitting at a computer and laughing and loving the silence. I embraced my employment by dressing up, make-up on, earrings matching my necklace, and feeling business-like and sexy. But I still had a newborn to worry about. It's hard feeling sexy walking into your workplace carrying in a bag of milk that you just pumped. Whether I wanted to be it or not, "Mother" was the role I was keeping, and it wouldn't be replaced.

Just like the circle of life, I'm pretty much back to square one. With the craziness of mothering four young, active children, I haven't had much opportunity for friends. That shyness that I kicked out the window about 10 years ago is back in full force, haunting me. Meeting my new neighbors has become terrifying, when just a few years ago, I would have run up to them, anxious to develop a friendship. Several of my good friends I haven't seen in over a year, because I'm bombarded with feedings and nap times and dishes and just plain old exhaustion. My idea of a good time now is eating chocolate and Cheetos and watching a movie at night--uninterrupted by children.

Don't get me wrong. I love being a mother. I love my son's sweet smiles, their fierce embrace before bedtime, the way they play with my hair when I read to them, the way their young, squeaky voices say, "Mom, I love you a hundred million thirteen million five-teen." My husband treats me like I'm sexy, cooks for me when I'm too tired, and lets me take naps in the morning before he has to go to work--tired. But I am still searching for who I am. I miss the spontaneity I used to have, the nights I'd blow $3 to go country dancing until the early morning hours. I miss being in school, and going out with a bunch of friends, and going out for a midnight run to Denny's, just because we could. I miss being able to buy clothes whenever I wanted, and I miss the enjoyment grocery shopping used to bring me. But I suppose that with everything I have achieved in life, I AM more than a mother. I am an adventurer. I have achieved so many identities, and my personality has developed everywhere. I've done things I never thought I'd do in a million years, and I'm living the dream I prayed for for over 20 years. So what if all of my identities aren't perfect? I have everything I've ever wanted, and though I'll probably want something a little bit more, and want to be someone a little bit different, I have lived a great life. And I am happy.


Jul 6, 2012

5 W's poems

One type of formula poem I wanted to try was the 5 Ws:
line 1: who or what is the poem about?
line 2: what is happening?
line 3: when is this taking place?
line 4: where is it taking place?
line 5: why is it happening?

I decided to write several different formula poems and ended up combining them into one poem.

Someone Else's Day

A new, swaddled baby
Cries
Three hours before the sun will rise
In his cradle in the dark nursery
Because he wants his mother's warm embrace.

A pilot
Yells out a prayer as he tries to lower the plane
At 7:07 a.m.
Over the sharp, rocky mountains
As the smoke engulfs the wings.

A group of children shriek
As they run into the road collecting candy
During the noisy parade
In their small town
For Independence Day.

A girl with over-sized pink sunglasses
Grabs her younger brother's hand
Before their shovel-and-pail sandcastle is finished
Running up the beach
Because the tide is rushing in.

A tired firefighter
Wipes his ashen brow
While massive flames engulf
An old brick building on Main
That's taken hours to control.

Crickets
Softy chirping
Just before midnight
Under the starry sky
Putting me to sleep.

Jul 4, 2012

Diamante poems

A diamante poem is written using this formula:
line 1: single word as topic; line 7 is also a singular word, but it contrasts line 1
line 2: two adjectives describing line 1
line 3: three -ing verbs that describe actions associated with line 1
line 4: this line has four nouns; the first 2 describe line one, and the second 2 describe line 7
line 5: three -ing verbs that describe line 7
line 6: two adjectives describing line 7
line 7: single word that contrasts line 1

Summer
hot, prickly
sweating, fanning, relaxing
pools, picnics, sleds, snowballs
shivering, slipping, shopping
cold, soft
winter

July
patriotic, noisy
swimming, camping, hiking
parades, fireworks, snowmen, gingerbread houses
baking, sledding, shoveling
greedy, anxious
December

Fireworks
loud, colorful
exploding, dropping, smoking
music, crowds, quiet, alone
drifting, floating, sailing
white, soft
clouds




Storm
dark, cold
howling, pouring, frightening
thunder, lightning, rainbow, birds
mowing, planting, playing
warm, calm
sunny

Kids
loud, chaotic
yelling, laughing, breaking
toys, messes, whispers, advice
talking, joking, calming
logical, sane
adults

Spring
new, warmth
planting, raining, budding
eggs, baskets, leaves, jack-o'-lanterns
raking, jumping, crunching
cool, excited
autumn


Dancing
loud, fun
swinging, two-stepping, swaying
twirls, dips, chair, wall
sitting, waiting, hoping
lonely, bored
wallflower

Jun 29, 2012

My First Kiss--chapter 25

Getting my first kiss was about as easy as stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. It was something I was still eager for, but no situation ever seemed like it was the right time. Surely there wasn’t something wrong with me! My good friend Emma proclaimed her faith in me by announcing that her friend Eric and I would be perfect together. Yeah, right. I remembered how well my last date with my “soul mate” went. Still…I was greedy for dates, and decided it would be better to meet a new guy than to sit home by myself. On Monday evening four days later, I arrived at her apartment for my blind date. I was giddy with anticipation and euphoric when I saw who I was being paired up with. Eric was tall (taller than me, at least), very handsome, had black Ken-doll hair and gorgeous green eyes. I couldn’t believe she was friends with him!
Any uncomfortable barriers that might have been present were nonexistent as we laughed away the night playing Mad Gab and Phase 10. Eric and I talked easily over our card game and cheered each other on with each victory. I only hoped that it was because he was interested in me and not just a nice guy being, well, nice. Little fireworks erupted in my stomach each time he looked at me, and I savored each slightly uncomfortable sensation. He was polite, smart, and actually laughed when I made a joke. He was definitely boyfriend material.
Although a quick hug ended our date outside of Emma’s apartment, there were no future plans set for another get-together. Anxiety ate away at me as I impatiently waited for information from Emma. When I talked to her again, I was unable to ask her what Eric thought of me, fearing rejection. I decided to leave our relationship in the hands of fate. I was glad I hadn’t pushed for information, because seeing him the next week would have been embarrassing had I known his feelings (good or bad). He passed me as I was studying beneath a shade tree, and we made uncomfortable small talk that managed to still be exciting. We uneasily said hello to each other as we passed in the campus library several days later. After some more chance meetings with small talk that got a little less embarrassing, we decided that it was time to get to know each other better.
“There’s going to be an outdoor movie on the Lacrosse field Friday night,” I suggested apprehensively.
“Sounds great!” he smiled.
I breathed a little easier.
As the Friday sun sank behind the Wellsville mountains and the stars peeked out of the sky, I paced the sidewalk, awaiting Eric’s arrival. He was late and I was certain that I was getting stood up.
A silhouette made its way towards me, and I instantly recognized Eric’s voice. “Sorry I’m late!”
As we made our way towards the crowded field, Eric found it necessary to break the awkward silence with some not-so-small talk.
“So, do you cook?”
He’s lucky I liked him, because I might have introduced him to Lucy, my right fist.
“Yeah, I cook,” I answered, trying my best to smile like Betty Crocker.
“What do you like to cook?” he pushed.
I timidly told him about my grandma casseroles, knowing that it was obviously some pretty significant information in a relationship.
Surprisingly enough, he didn’t barf and run away. In fact, after the movie, he asked me if I wanted to hang out again.
“How about next Friday?” I suggested.
“I tutor a girl from four until six, but I don’t have any plans after. Do you want to meet pre-or post-dinner?”
“Pre-dinner,” I heard myself tell him. “That way, I can cook for you.”
Wait! That wasn’t me! There were demons in my body making me say things I would never say in a million years!
Ignoring the fear that ignited in my eyes, he smiled his approval, and it was set. I was doomed. Nothing I did could stop Friday from coming. In fact, I believe that Wednesday somehow tiptoed away when no one was looking. When Friday strutted in unfashionably early, I miserably realized that I had survived and was now forced to cook dinner for Eric. Where was an earthquake when you needed one?
I felt as if I were sealing my fate with the chicken enchiladas that steamed from my casserole dish. I carefully watched his face as he lifted the fork to his mouth, eager to interpret the future of our relationship by the look on his face. He ended up asking for seconds! Whew. Maybe he liked casseroles.
Five dates later found us walking through Adam’s Park as the sun was lowering. Our fingers were comfortably intertwined, and Eric was carrying a quilt. We found a tall pine tree, and opened the blanket beneath it, sitting close together. We spoke quietly to each other as we watched the emerging night turn running children into shadows that reluctantly walked home. The stars twinkled softly, and a warm night wind engulfed us, drawing his arms around me.
A sudden tension filled the space between our two bodies, and my heart erupted into a sprint.
“Can I kiss you?” he softly asked.
Terror I had never before experienced held me captive as I desperately tried to nod my approval. I wanted to speak, but my throat was constricted.
“Can I kiss you?” he asked again.
“Yes,” I yelled out in a nearly inaudible whisper.
My palms suddenly became drenched, and I trembled all over like a palm tree in a hurricane.
Eric gently turned my chin up towards his face, and I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to watch. I felt his hot breath on my face, and then as it enveloped my mouth. I waited, but never felt his soft lips touch mine.
I opened my eyes to see what had gone wrong, only to see his own face connected to mine with his eyes shut. He was kissing me. The problem was his mouth was opened.
Oh, great.
Not wanting to destroy this once-in-a-lifetime moment, I cautiously opened my mouth ever so slightly. Our lips finally met, and there they remained as he breathed down my mouth. Okay. Now what? Our lips moved ever so slightly, giving me the feeling of a nursing baby. Actually, it was more like kissing an octopus. The magic of my first kiss had been swallowed by Eric’s octopus mouth, and the only words that swam around in my head were, “I waited my whole life for this?!”
I had finally gotten the chance to be Cinderella. I was wearing the glass slippers, I was with my prince, and I still had two more hours until midnight. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My first kiss was supposed to create music, stirrings in my soul, or at the very least, a desire to continue kissing. Wasn’t there a way to summon my fairy godmother, and have her move my curfew ahead a couple of hours?
After an hour of a cranked neck and dry, annoyed lips, I finally admitted to myself that having a fairy godmother wasn’t all that great. Prince Charming couldn’t kiss, and right there, I discovered that magic really wasn’t all that magical. As Eric dropped me off at my doorstep and sucked away at my lips a final time, I came to terms with the honest fact that glass slippers really weren’t my style.

Jun 13, 2012

Finding My Fairy Godmother

Okay, it's now time again to start polishing up this story, and getting it ready for re-submission. Please, any advice would be very appreciated! These are the first three chapters. I LOVE critiques, and ANYTHING to give me ideas for improving would be extremely useful. Thank you!


Chapter 1
President of the V.L. Club

You know the saying that you need to kiss a bunch of frogs in order to find your prince? Well, I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot. He doesn’t even need to turn into a prince. From New Kids on the Block to Alvin the Chipmunk, I’ve always been pretty open to all types. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s true. I am officially desperate. But can you blame me? I am twenty-two years old, and I still have never been kissed.
It’s not like I’ve never tried. I unsuccessfully sported a “Kiss me I’m Irish” pin in the second grade. I thought I thought I’d make it easy on my 3rd grade classmates by not running during kissing tag. Guess what? You’re supposed to run. I even tried giving my lips a sexy, lustrous shine by licking them all day, but only ended up with dry, lizard-like lips. Nobody thought of telling me about lip gloss.
I remember pushing eighteen years and being ashamed of the fact that I still had yet to kiss a boy. Or go on my fourth date, for that matter. Not exactly a promising beginning for a girl entering into her adult years. But once I hit twenty-one, a true, honest-to-goodness adult, and still having been denied the rite of passage into love, I felt it was my right to not only become an official member of the Virgin Lips Club, but to become the president. And so I did, no nominations even needed.



Chapter 2
Cinderellas and the Ugly Stepsister Syndrome

There are two types of people in this world: those who find love, and those who don’t. Guess which one I am? People like Cinderella really get to me. You think Cinderella’s just a fairytale? Well, you’re wrong. I’ve met plenty of Cinderalla-type girls, and believe me, they’re everywhere. What really irks me is that moment when they walk onto the crowded dance floor, not much caring about finding a dance partner while the rest of us ugly-stepsister types waste the night away pining for that one guy who’s looking at every girl…but us. Then suddenly, the hottest, most beautiful man you’ve ever seen approaches your side, smiles, and asks that Cinderella standing next to you for the one dance that leads to their engagement only two weeks later. Sort of sounds like my college roommate, Jan.
Jan’s the type who can wear an oversized hoodie, throw on glasses instead of contacts, and wear her hair up in a ponytail, and still somehow manages to snag a date from a guy she just met. Put me in an outfit like that, and I’m usually pointed in the direction of the ice cream aisle.
It’s hard not to hate these perfect girls who make acne look cute, actually go on dates, and are somehow not afraid of boys. It’s quite disgusting, actually. But what’s really painful is the ease in which love enters into their lives. They don’t even have to try. I’m the type who makes looking for love an embarrassing event.
There are some who are pre-selected to go through life just for the purpose of entertaining the gods, and I happen to be one of them. It’s true. Instead of gracefully passing through my years, I stumble about clumsily just to give some immortals a few good laughs. Experiences that ought to be dealt with naturally, such as smiling at a crush, are somehow presented in awkward, unnatural ways that render it impossible to handle with poise and dignity.
As it turns out, this Ugly Stepsister Syndrome is in no way genetically linked. My older sister, Liz, happens to be a Cinderella. When she was younger and liked a boy, he would sit next to her on the school bus. My childhood crush stood over me while I sat on the ground and broke wind over my head. It appeared that I lacked certain natural attributes needed to attract the opposite sex.

Chapter 3
Wish Upon a Star

In fourth grade, Liz already knew a little about flirting. She often used it on our next door neighbor, Shawn, who was three whole years older than her. He would chase her around our cul-de-sac, while she tried not to outrun him. One time, when she yelled, “Missed me, missed me, now you’ve gotta kiss me!” he nearly did. He was only stopped by the pickle she had been eating. I wished pickle breath had been my only problem.
When Liz first found out about wishing stars from her Kindergarten class and her wishes began coming true, she tried to share the magic with me. I memorized the wishing phrase with her, and eagerly looked forward to that night where I could find the very first star and begin my journey of sweet greed. Although I was four years old at the time, I was aware of the great power wishing stars had. They were obligated to provide anything my little heart desired, so long as I didn’t mess up the wording. I remember the day being spent in sweet anticipation, thinking up the perfect wish. Endless images of ponies, magic, castles and a never-ending supply of food swam through my head. It was hard to choose the perfect first wish. But even at my young age, I knew what one of the most coveted gifts on earth was.
As the sun sank down and shadows engulfed the tiny mountain town of Elk Ridge, I stood at our large French doors, overlooking the valley below. The city’s thousands of twinkling lights were nothing to the one tiny spark I saw up above. With an air of delicacy, I slowly made my wish, making sure the star wouldn’t misunderstand. I tiptoed to bed in reverent anticipation, making sure I was extra nice to my family so it would be known how deserving I was of this sacred first wish.
I climbed into bed and scooted all the way over, smashing up against the wall to make sure there would be room for my gift. Every few minutes I would peek out to make sure I hadn’t shifted over (and to see if it had arrived yet). My wishing star was sure to notice how considerate I was.
I awoke the next morning to an empty bed, but I was not discouraged. In fact, I was even more excited because my star took the time to hide my gift and send me on a treasure hunt! I looked under my bed, in the closet, in the bathtub, and in all the usual hiding places. Undaunted and still just as eager, I checked out all the unusual hiding places—like inside the kitchen cabinets with the pots and pans. But my first boyfriend was nowhere to be found. I must have wished wrong.

Jun 10, 2012

The Trouble with Cats

My cats have been driving me CRAZY for...well, let's face it...forever. I used to adore cats, but since becoming a mother, they're nothing but a nuisance. Since my time for writing is short (I'm sure the baby will wake any minute--he always does when inspiration strikes), I'll just make a list why my view on cats has changed.
1. They jump up on the counter like over-sized rats, searching for crumbs to eat.
2. They prefer a dripping faucet over a bowl of fresh water.
3. They refuse to eat the tuna fish I lovingly give them, but eat my cereal if I happen to step away from the breakfast table for one minute.
4. They think baby items (crib, car seat, swing, floor blanket, etc.) were custom made for THEM.
5. No matter what I have to do, a cat is ALWAYS in my way. If I'm changing a diaper, a cat is sound asleep on the changing table. If I put the baby to sleep in the cradle, I have to move the cat. If I climb into bed to go to sleep, there's a cat sleeping where my feet should be.
6. If I try to kick the cat off the bed, she gets up, stretches, and lays back down right where she was before.
7. Cats are self-centered. If I'm watching a movie and I get up to get a drink, the cat thinks I just warmed that spot on the sofa just for her.
8. When you don't want them, that's when they decide you're better than catnip.
9. When you call for them, they just look at you. Nobody tells THEM what to do.
10. They scratch the sofa.
11. They scratch the carpet.
12. They scratch at an empty diaper box that's sitting in the hallway at midnight.
13. They pee on the bathroom floor.
14. They pee in the bathtub.
15. They don't play with the toys you buy them, and play with your shoelace as you're trying to get ready to go.
16. They rub against me when I'm exercising and sweaty...and don't even seem to care.
17. They refuse to eat from their dish unless it is all the way full.
18. When one cat goes out, the other one runs in. Then when that one goes out, the other comes in.
19. If both cats are inside, only one cat must go out at a time. As soon as you let one out and begin to walk away, that's when it's time for the next one to go out. It's a cat code, I swear.
20. Cats always want to come in or go out when I'm watching a movie.
21. They climb the screen door instead of meowing at the door.
22. Their meow can sometimes break the sound barrier.
23. They paw at huge spiders...then let them get away...inside!
24. They paw at mice...then let them get away...inside!!!
25. They race between your feet, trying to trip you.
26. They sense which direction you're headed, then decide to lay down right in your path.
27. If it's muddy outside, there WILL be muddy paw prints ALL over the bathroom...and on your white sheets...and your dry-cleaning-only comforter.
28. If it's too cold and they're waiting to go outside, if you open the door, they will only partially go outside. If you try to nudge them outside, they will back up inside. Process will be repeated several times.
29. If you're in a hurry for a cat to go outside, they will only go partially out, defiantly keeping their tail inside.
30. If you let them lick your toes, you WILL get bitten.
31. If your bed is by a window, they will sit on your pillow while you try to sleep, and swish their tail in your face as they look outside.

There is no doubt about it. Cats are annoying!

May 9, 2012

Lost


I was staying in Maybell, Colorado in a little shack. It was a town that was so small that the library was a trailer, and the one gas station sold bumper stickers that proudly put their name on a map with "Where the heck is Maybell, Colorado?!"
All around was dusty air, pale, ugly skies and sagebrush…miles and miles of it. I felt a twinge of excitement if a truck happened to pass by. It meant people were still around.
I was working as a research assistant for a graduate student who happened to be studying the impact of fences on wildlife. My job? To walk along fence lines half a mile out, and a quarter of a mile in. Alone, with nothing but my water bottle, clipboard and GPS. My week took a turn when my good friend and co-worker, Ashlee, was sent out to Colorado to join me.
"You wanna take this one?" Ashlee asked as our truck pulled alongside a fence that seemed to be the appropriate length.
I looked at it and gulped. There were lots of hills. "It'll be good exercise," I joked. I hopped out of the truck, covering my shoes with another layer of dust. I refilled my water bottle from the orange thermos, grabbed my clipboard, walkie-talkie and GPS unit, and slammed the door.
"See you in a while!" she called out to me through the open window. The truck bounced away one mile down the road where she would meet me, dust erasing both her and her tire tracks. Once the air was clear, I took a deep breath, whispered, "Okay," and trudged along the fence.
I half-hoped to find a carcass just so I could have something interesting to do. Minus the awful smell of decay and the pang of sorrow at seeing a limb dangling from the wires, it was something different than the miles of quiet solitude. I was so tired of smelling dirt and sagebrush, and ready to go home. "Just one more week," I kept telling myself.
I hiked along the fence, up and down great hills. I glanced at my GPS. I was almost there. The hot, empty sun pierced my skin, my legs were wobbly with fatigue, and I really wanted my peanut butter sandwich that was probably warm and soggy back in the truck. The fence was clear. I jotted down my GPS mark, then turned and headed north. One mile of eyeballing a straight line parallel to the fence a quarter of a mile away on hilly terrain was not easy. I had problems drawing a straight line with a ruler, but I was doing pretty good, considering.
I hadn't gone too far before my stomach dropped. "Who put a diagonal fence in the middle of this land?" I wondered. I was now faced with the dilemma of whether or not I should climb the fence and continue on my journey, or if I should reject this fence line as incomplete length and turn around and head back towards the dirt road. I turned to look behind me. Hills of sagebrush. There was no way I would ever see the road from here. I looked to my right…and then to my left. Hills of sagebrush in all directions. I had walked in a straight line, right?
My heart started racing. I took a deep breath. Okay, all I needed to do was climb up a hill and see the view. But my legs didn't move. I had climbed up and down several large hills. I wasn't ready to admit it. "Just don't panic. Whatever you do, don't panic." I looked carefully around, turning in slow circles. The menacing sun, mocking my fear, whipped my face with his long, fiery tendrils. I began to doubt myself and my path. That fence I had just approached, could it actually be the fence I had originally walked along, and somehow I had managed to backtrack?
Alone with nothing but the desert, reason blows away with the tumbleweeds. I looked at the fence, the hills all around, and the sky up above. I gave in to the panic. I was going to die! Nobody would ever find me out here in the middle of nowhere in Maybell, Colorado! How long before a helicopter would come and find my dried bones? I could call for Ashlee, but what good could she do? No one would ever find me, and I was going to die all alone out here!
I burst into sobs, slowly turning circles and letting my mucus and hot tears streak down my face. Nothing looked familiar. I had no idea which direction I had come from. Even with the fence, had I approached it from the left or from the right? I cried even harder, sobbing so loud I was sure vultures would be seeking me soon.
And then, a calm voice whispered to my heart: "Pray." What good was prayer going to do? Again, the thought came. "Pray." And so I prayed. Desperately. "Please, Heavenly Father, help me. Help me find my way back."
I opened my eyes, and took a deep breath. And another. And another. The sky was blue again, and I was in a peaceful plot of land with beautiful sagebrush. There was a fence, and if worse came to worse, I could follow it in either direction, and I would be at a landmark of sorts. I wouldn't die in the middle of a desert. I pulled out my walkie-talkie and called Ashlee.
"Hey, Ash, you there?" I waited, and only heard static. "You there, Ash?"
"Kim? What's going on?" her voice crackled through.
"I'm lost!" I said.
"You're breaking up," she said, her own voice breaking up. "Hang on a few minutes."
I waited, crying calmer now. At least Ashlee knew I was lost. Maybe she could drive back into town, and find someone, maybe even the land owner. Somehow, I was going to get back. After several minutes had passed, I heard her voice again.
"Did you say you're lost?" she asked, voice clear now.
"Yeah. I thought I was walking in a straight line, but there's a fence in the middle of this plot!"
A moment passed. "I don't think there's supposed to be a fence in the middle. I think you drifted."
"I know, I think I did, too, but I don't know which way I came from!" My voice was tight; the urge to cry again started to strangle my windpipe.
"Use your GPS and head west." Her voice was calm and soothing.
I turned my GPS on, upset that I hadn't thought of even using it--probably the most valuable tool a person could own while lost. It said I was facing west. I breathed out a sigh of relief. But, just to be sure, I turned to my left. And I turned to my left again. The GPS wasn't reading right!
"Ash, it's not working! It keeps saying that every direction is west!" I started crying again.
"Did you try walking with it?" she suggested a moment later.
I started walking, and the direction changed. My tears turned to a small laugh. "It's working now!" I said.
"Keep walking west, and you'll get to the road. I'll be driving back towards you."
I hiked the hills, quick with the renewed strength of hope. The direction the GPS pointed me in was not the way my instinct told me to go--in fact, it was the opposite. But I was determined to get out, and that meant following the GPS.
After several minutes, my eyes filled with tears. I found the road!! And coming towards me, with a cloud of smoke trailing behind, was Ashlee in our white Ford pickup. Relief I had never experienced flooded my heart, and I whispered a quick prayer of profound thanks.
As I sat in the truck, explaining my fearful situation to my friend, she couldn't help but laugh out loud. "Kim, you're the only person I know who can get lost in a square plot of land!"