Friday, February 26, 2010

An Item of Business Pertaining to the Harold B. Lee Library

I'm sure there were those who saw me walking home from campus today who thought I was a little odd. Why? Because it's a beautiful, sunny day... and I am carrying an umbrella. It wasn't open, mind you. But carrying it was enough, I'm sure, for others to come to the conclusion that I am either 1) a pessimist 2) dutifully prepared for every situation, like an overeager girl scout 3) off my rocker, or 3) seriously attached to my umbrella.

I'm not, though (seriously attached to my umbrella, that is). This brings me to my first item of business. A week ago today, it was a gloomy day. The rain was drizzling and dripping down from the dark sponge clouds, and I snatched up my purple, pink, blue and yellow striped umbrella before I walked out the door. Now, let me relate the history of the umbrella. When I moved to Provo and realized my lack of umbrella would lead to excessive and unpleasant sogginess, I set out to purchase an umbrella. When I saw this umbrella, I was immediately attracted to its color and shape. You see, it's not one of those umbrellas that conveniently folds up to a six inch, easily store-able object. This umbrella always retains its three foot height, even after being closed. Anyway. It was a great idea of an umbrella, but after a few days of use, I recognized the inconvenience of carrying it around instead of being able to store it handily in my backpack. So I wasn't too fond of the umbrella.

Okay, back to the rainy day. I was in the Harold B. Lee Library on the BYU campus, on the very bottom floor, in the auditorium, listening to a poetry reading (note the extensive use of prepositional phrases). I had stashed my umbrella under my chair, and was enjoying the reading. When the reading ended, I headed out the door and began my enjoyable 15 minute walk home. About halfway there, I realized that my umbrella was still stashed under my chair in the Harold B Lee Library, on the very bottom floor, in the auditorium. At this point, I had two thoughts in my head: 1) that I wasn't really in the mood to walk all the way back, and 2) that my umbrella was an annoyance, anyway. Decision made, I left the umbrella to rest in peace under the chair, or in a lost and found.

Today, I again found myself in the library for a reading. This week, my writing creative non fiction professor was doing a reading from his new book (plug for Patrick Madden: buy his book! anyway, as I took my seat, I serendipitously chose the same row, and sitting on the very seat I was about to sit in was nothing other than my umbrella. Maybe we were meant to be together always. Despite its faults, it had served me well and clearly wanted to remain with me until the end of its days.

This time, I did not leave the umbrella.

Friday, February 19, 2010


is the natural number following 24 and preceding 26

is a square number

is the atomic number of manganese

is the number of years of marriage marked in a silver wedding anniversary

is the number of cents in a quarter

is the number of days approximately that takes the sun to do a complete rotation on itself.

Fascinating, I know. What may interest you more is that 25 is how old I will be... tomorrow! For some reason, 25 feels important. I mean, honestly, it's a quarter of a century. This is big news!

Birthdays are times that lead to reflection about life, like: yikes, I'm getting old or what do I want to do this year? or what have I accomplished so far in my life? Sometimes I look at other people who are my age or thereabouts and think "man, I have to start doing something with my life!" However. I think sometimes I get too caught up in what other people have accomplished in their lives, and start to measure "success" by events, or awards, or careers. And I forget... success isn't necessarily defined by what we do, or how much money we make. Success, to me, is knowing that I am in the right place at the right time, working to accomplish my goals and having fun in the meantime! So even if I'm broke and not done with college... I'm getting there :)

Marilyn Monroe says it perfectly: "I don't care about money, I just want to be wonderful!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Love Game

Optimism is great. After an extended period of pessimism, I begin to notice the point at which negativity begins to affect my emotional well-being (rather, others’ emotional well-being). The other day, when I was in this state of emotional instability, I was in the kitchen with the intent of making guacamole. I was particularly excited for this; it had been awhile, and guacamole is up on my list of “food I will never get sick of.” As I scraped the avocado into a glass bowl, I slipped a sliver of avocado in my mouth: it tasted like mold. And I, you guessed it, yelled. At the avocado. As far as I was concerned, the avocado was guilty of negligence, treason and murder. The murder of my guacamole. About this time, a glimmer of rationality in my mind told me I needed to play what my mom likes to call the Love Game. I proceeded to lower my voice, and my temper, and make a verbal list of all the things that I love. I love when I get a text from my mom and it reminds me of when I had to teach her how to use a cell phone. I love chocolate. I’m pretty sure I love the guy who sits next to me in one of my classes. I love writing.

I love writing. There’s something about the scratching of my pen or the click-click-click of the keyboard that calms me down to my toes. Already the disgust of the moldy avocado had slipped from my memory and I headed to my laptop to write about it.

* * * *

Deep down inside, I know I will never write a Hamlet or a Middlemarch or a Moby Dick, or anything akin to the literary masterpieces I adore. At that, you might say that’s not very optimistic¸ and I would have to say, there’s a difference between optimism and delusion. That’s not to say that I don’t dabble around in the delusional from time to time, but I realize that I may never be a great writer. I may never be a well-known writer, or a wealthy writer. Or successful or recognized or appreciated. But that doesn’t (and shouldn’t, I believe) stop me from writing.

I love the satisfaction of looking down at a page of my personally constructed creation and realizing, I thought that. Writing is a necessity to me, like a winter coat in Alaska or sun block in the Sahara. If I don’t write my thoughts down, they don’t allow me to concentrate on anything else. When I get my thoughts down on paper, I can extract them from my mind and move onto other thoughts. Shakespeare must have had to finish Comedy of Errors before he ever started Hamlet (although it’s very possible that his mind was trained to think in comedy and tragedy at the same time). On a smaller scale, that’s me. Writing helps me move on.

It also keeps me up at night. The minute my light goes off at night, my mind lights up and starts free-writing. At this point I have a choice: try to squelch the literary seedlings, or flip my light on and scribble something down. Either way, I lose sleep and get dark circles under my eyes. But when I scribble something down, I feel like I lost sleep for a justifiable cause. I’ve tried to train my mind to turn on only during my waking hours; every time, I find that I haven’t gotten to the point of flipping my brain on and off like a breaker switch.

Writing fulfills my need for creativity; there’s something innately human about the need to create. Writing beautiful sentences for one person might be like brush strokes on a canvas for someone else. I crave the ability to make something out of nothing. Well, not really nothing. It’s the ability to turning thoughts and ideas into cohesive words and phrases, like organizing the elements of language into my own person universe on paper.

I love writing. And as long as I have a pen and paper, or Microsoft Word, the Love Game will be easy to play, and moldy avocados will be only one step in the writing process.