Driving in the rain

Seriously, driving in the rain is one of the scariest and most exhilarating experiences on the planet. I love driving in general, and so to add that extra something...man. Especially with some special driving tunes. The CD Smashley made me for Christmas comes to mind... But really. I just love driving in the rain. It's just one of those things.


Hope smiles

I live in Happy Valley, Utah, which basically means that I'm an old maid at 22 (next week), and that 6 months is a long time to date before marriage, let alone an engagement. It means that there are babies and pregnant women everywhere, and it means there's an LDS church on every block (almost literally). It also means that there are a LOT of happy, pleasant people around. They definitely have their quirks, but they are, generally, rather pleasant people. Speaking as an outside observer, of course. ;)

I've been waffling a lot lately, which I find to be rather unlike myself. I spent four years of college determined and knowing exactly where I was going, what I was doing, and trying to pre-determine what would happen as far into the future as possible. I considered myself one of the most foresighted people around. So waffling seems quite out of character, really, except that I've been waffling for the last eight months now, with hardly an end in sight.

Grad school, then a mission both fell by the wayside (though either could spring back up at any moment.) Going back to school has been dismissed for the time being, since I can't really figure what I would major in if I did end up going back. I like my job, but despite all my efforts, it remains a part-time position, which means it can't satisfy in the long run. I want to write, but I am unsatisfied with my work, and besides, that will always be a long shot I can never count on. I want to get married, but there's even less guarantees there, despite every encouragement from my mother. (Love you, Mom!)

Hope smiles everywhere, though. I got to talk to a friend tonight, a friend in the midst of soul-searching troubles, and a ray of hope smiled into my life. Perhaps it's just a moment that will pass as so many do, but perhaps I can touch this friend's life for the better. Perhaps God will touch, and change will follow. I can hope.

I got to see many friends tonight, some of whom I haven't seen in years. And it was like old times, only richer. I have got to be one of the luckiest women on the face of this world, to have friends like I have. True friends, friends who would be there in a moment for any cause. Tonight it was my high school friends, friends who have stood together for eight years or more now. How implausible and wonderful is that? We talked, we laughed, we played games, we (or rather, they) sang songs and played the piano. It's a kind of innocence, those friendships. We are free from the things of the world, distractions that might drag us down, or make our friendships less meaningful. I will always have these friends, and they will always stand by me and want my happiness, as I do theirs. Hope smiles.

I have hope. I have so much hope, sometimes I want to burst with it, and I just have to tell somebody everything, because hope is just too beautiful to keep to oneself. I have hope that my life WILL have meaning, despite my current troubles. I have hope for my friends who have need right now. I have hope that I will find balance. I have hope that I will be able to serve others, as they have served me.

Oh, and I have hope that Obama will win the election. Ha!


In for the long haul

So, I now work at a charter school in Provo as a receptionist/secretary/mailman/firewatcher/all-around-get-'er-done person. In fact, my first day on the job, one of the teachers brought all of the first graders out to the front office to meet me. I was introduced as "Miss Valerie", the person who can help you call your mom or give you a band-aid. :)

The first two and a half days were absolute chaos--phones ringing every five minutes, parents coming in equally often needing things I didn't know where to find or even if they existed, besides the fact that the building is still under construction, so there are contractors all over and people tracking dust in from the unfinished parking lot. And this is just first through sixth grade--the middle and high schoolers don't come until next week along with the kindergarteners!

Today felt a little more normal, despite the fact that our trainer wasn't here today. My coworker Sashalai and I kept things under control with only a modicum of chaos, and were relatively productive. I was quite proud of that.

A couple of the teachers asked me today if I think I'll stick around, or if I'm going to run away like the last girl. Every time, I smile and say, "I'm in for the long haul."


The Incredible Hulk

In brief, way better than the 2003 version! Still nowhere near the league of IronMan or Dark Knight, but a decent superhero movie. Although, I must say that every time Edward Norton spoke after a Hulk episode, I was surprised by how feminine his voice sounded. Oh, and Liv Tyler was totally underplayed. As, I think, was William Hurt. And they spelled his name wrong once in the credits. Anyway--decent movie.

Incidentally, for any Orem/Provo folks: don't ever again go to the dollar movie by the University Mall. They are no longer doing any upkeep on it, the whole place is falling apart at the seams. Seats are coverless, and the cones in the speakers were blown, it crackled the entire movie. Not worth even a dollar.




That's all I have to say.


Casinos have never been a temptation before now....

I spent this past weekend with my birthfather [Jason], his wife [Jenny], my sisters, and various sundry relatives, at Jenny's family's property somewhat above Strawberry Reservoir. This is the second time I've been up there, the first time I'd met some of the various sundry relatives (although, I'll admit here that I enjoyed these sundry relatives much better than some of the sundry relatives that were there last time. But this is irrelevant...)

Spent the weekend relaxing, fishing (which is still very new to me), chatting, watching movies, reading, and--my personal preference--playing games. I just have this thing about playing games. Any games, board games, card games, whatever. My family doesn't play a whole lot of games, because there just aren't enough of us to play much more than Settlers of Catan, which, admittedly, we enjoy, but still don't play that often. So up at camp, there's a whoooole bunch of us, and games abound. I'm in heaven.

We brought up Pit, which I have discussed before, being one of my all-time favorite group games, following closely behind Apples to Apples. However, I get quite enough of Apples during my PGSA summers, so Pit was definitely high on the list. We also played Phase 10 (not my favorite--I need to get this fambily to play Shanghai), and the Totally Insane Card game. However, at some point (I think it was only yesterday) my sister Danielle asked if we could play poker, as their uncle has a nice poker set he keeps up at camp. So Dad obligingly brought out the set, and proceeded to teach me various versions of poker. I can't even remember all their names. But after several hands of just being confused, I asked about Blackjack. He tried to explain it to me, but I asked D and her bf to play a round with me so I could get it better. And HOURS later, we were still there, playing Blackjack. And we played again after fishing that night. And again this afternoon.... Seriously addicting, and I have no idea why!

On a side note: I don't like teenage boys. I guess I liked them when I was a teenage girl, but no longer. I particularly don't like teenage boys who date my teenage sisters. It may be a bit overprotective of me...or maybe it's just the teenage boy thing. Anywho...

I was also faced with the discouraging fact that my other family all have, to my dismay, thoroughly enjoyed "Breaking Dawn." Now, I admit and will continue to admit, that I need to read the book again in order to really decide how I feel about it. And I'll give that my earlier review was perhaps more negative than really necessary. After all, there were definitely points that I enjoyed. However, I--currently--still stand by my dislike of the book. I found it to be overall disappointing, and was a little discouraged that my sister(s) and Pops did not so far agree.

On an entirely separate note, last week before I left for camping, I gave a rough draft of my novel over to its first readers--two of my very best friends, Sam and Ashley. Now, Sam will gush and tell me how wonderful it was no matter what he thinks of it, and then perhaps give me a tentative review while I try to drag details out of him. This I am prepared for. However, Ashley is an entirely different matter. Ashley is one of the pickiest people I know, particularly when it comes to movies and books. She is incredibly picky about what she likes and doesn't like, and I am INCREDIBLY nervous about her reading my book, especially in the precarious rough-draft stage it is in. But giving it to Sam meant also giving it to Ashley, and I so I just have to hope that she will be sensitive with my baby, just after I have cut the umbilical cord and let someone else's eyes rest upon it the very first time. It's terribly nervewracking!

And now...on to the job hunt!


Direction and purpose

School is cool. Real life sucks.

This evening I was talking to Melissa (my best friend) on the phone. At one point in the conversation, I said something to the effect of, "Melissa, let's go back to school. Where do you want to go?"

This led into a discussion about the virtues of USU in Logan, and we "decided" we would go next year, once her student loans from our first time around are paid off.

I'll tell you what--even the half-kidding declaration of going back to school made me feel better about life.

I've been feeling pretty directionless for some time, since before my December graduation, even. Theatre is something of a dead end for me. Don't get me wrong, I love theatre and I love stage managing, probably more than anything I could ever choose to do, except maybe writing. But (long story short) I crave mental, financial, and spiritual stability, none of which are available with a career in the arts. This summer was so very fulfilling, and if it could go on forever, I would be set for life. But alas.

So now I'm home and facing the rest of my now-empty life and wondering what on earth to do with it. I applied for a half dozen jobs this morning, and will continue to do so, but I consider them "filler" until I can figure out what I really want to do. Going back to school is actually a viable option, as I have and will continue to discuss. Going on a mission is still in my frame of reference. Wailing in frustration is--at least internally--a constant.

No matter what happens, though, I need to find direction and purpose. I can't live without it. I have driven myself for too long--and been going without for too long--to continue this way for much longer. Coming from "Ivona, Princess of Burgundia", we must go onward and upward forever.


On the road again

One more day of journeying, and I will be home to Happy Valley, Utah. On Sunday, I left sunny Erie after a fond farewell to some of my favorite people on the planet. I drove south, heading toward I-70. I passed Columbus (skipped Cleveland), and I passed through Dayton, OH, where I got gas for--to my elation--$3.62/gal. This was the lowest price I saw until that evening, but I'll get to that. I got lunch just before Dayton, eating in the car because I didn't feel like stopping. I passed through Indianapolis in the early afternoon--it was smaller than I thought, passed in a few eyeblinks, long enough to take a crappy camera-phone shot out the window as I drove. I stopped for dinner somewhere between Indianapolis and St. Louis. It was a choice between a Steak and Shake and Denny's, and I went with Denny's purely because I knew if I went to S&S I would have to get dessert. Ergo, Denny's was a form of resistance. :)

I got to St. Louis just as the sun was setting, which (thanks to the smog-cloud) was absolutely beautiful. All I got to see of downtown was a few glances over my shoulder as I headed out toward my aunt's house, but that was good enough for me. I saw the arch and everything, then crossed the Mississippi River into the state of Missouri proper.

I stayed Sunday night and all of Monday at my great aunt's house in St. Louis, mostly to see my great-grandmother. My grandma lived with my family in Orem for about ten years, 1996-2006 (I think). A large, very important chunk of my life, anyhow, spent living across the hall from her. She's 92 now, and she has dimensia. She can't really remember anything from one moment to the next. She has very little to no memory of her life. She spends her days watching old family videos and going through family albums looking at faces that look like strangers to her. She doesn't even recognize herself in the photos. It is, admittedly, very sad to see her like this. But it was still good to see her, good to see that she is as happy as she can be. We talked for awhile. I went through a photo album with her, explaining who everyone is. Afterward she turned to me and said, "Well, you sure know a lot about us!" She asked me every hour or so if I was related to her, and I would explain again who I was. But this morning when she got up, she recognized me from yesterday. That was something, at least. I am glad that I went.

And so today I have journeyed out of miserably hot St. Louis (with the heat index it was 113 degrees yesterday! It's like walking around in a very humid sauna.) I drove across Missouri, then up toward Iowa, then across Nebraska. I listened again to "The Host" on CD, because none of the bookstores I visited had anything more interesting to offer me.

On this note, I have visited Barnes and Nobles across the face of this silly country, and am pleased and disappointed to report that they are all the same, except that the one in Des Moines is still the biggest and most memorable. On this trip alone, I have been to B&N in Orem, UT, Omaha, NE, Des Moines, IA, Cleveland, OH, Erie, PA, St. Louis, MO, and Lincoln, NE. I'm rather proud of that fact, too. But it doesn't help that audio book collections are still limited, and still prohibitively expensive. Phooey.

Tonight I am staying with my aunt and uncle in Kearney, NE. We just got back from a lovely dinner at a steakhouse in town. As they proudly told me--and I heartily believe--Nebraska is well-known for it's beef. I had a delicious filet mignon, preceded by calimari and a house salad. My steak was accompanied by this strange potato dish that none of us really liked much. I cannot recall what it was named, but it wasn't cooked nearly well enough.

Tomorrow I will continue my trek across I-80 home to Utah. I cannot wait to be home, to see my family, Hollie, Ben, Elainabug, the silly dog, my friends, my own bed. Then this weekend I shall be going camping with my birthfather and his family--I don't know yet when we are leaving or when we will be back, but I'm excited to go. I do so love my fambily. But after that, it will be nice just to rest for awhile, before picking up my life and figuring out what to do with it...


Breaking Dawn Review--spoilers abound

Firstly: I need to read this book again to really be sure of my opinion, so bear that in mind during the following points:

1. Biggest. Cop-out. Ever.

2. Life is not a happy ending, and writers who try to pretend like everything can really work out...are stupid.

3. Jacob-Nessie=a little disturbing, no matter how you try to think about it.

4. Nessie? I mean, c'mon.

5. It wasn't even written that well! The whole first chapter or two was crap; she should have started the book earlier, told all that stuff in present tense instead of all the memories and dreams and crap. As the wise Dr.P once said, dream/memory sequences are crap. Move the action FORWARD, not back. And that's just the beginning! She totally skimmed through the wedding, which was weak sauce, and then the WHOLE FREAKING MIDDLE OF THE BOOK wasn't even from Bella's point of view! WTF??!! And it was just waaaay too long. I can't even tell you what took 750 pages to tell, because I don't feel like that much happened. I mean, in six months, Bella got married, had a kid, turned into a vampire, and saved the free vampire world without lifting a finger. Woohoo. We-e-eak sauce.

This gets me into another point. I have no idea what point Stephenie Meyer was trying to make with all this. I mean, she's got girls as young as 9 reading these books, and apparently she would like to tell her millions of readers that it's okay to get married at 18, and that having a baby makes everything better, especially for your best friend that you totally screwed over, which was just way too convenient for me. Oh gee, Jake can't find somebody to imprint on, so I'll just create him somebody new and interesting--never mind that it's the freaking offspring of the girl he loves. But back to the point--apparently Stephenie Meyer doesn't mind telling young girls that as long as they have somebody to look out for them, everything will be okay. Never mind college, don't worry about money or REALITY, everything will be okay with your hubbie and kid and little stone cottage in the woods. Everything will be hunky dory with your whole 'family' around you to watch out for you forever.

Bella didn't grow. I expected her to have to mature, FINALLY, in this last book. I expected her to have to make some big sacrifice so she would grow up and really--no matter his prejudices--be worthy of Edward. But no. Bella never had to sacrifice anything. She got her husband, she got her best friend, she got to keep her dad, AND she got an impossible kid to boot. Never mind that she's 18, and didn't even WANT kids. Oh! AND Jacob gets to be happy and stick around too. Never mind that it's SICK in so many ways. I don't care how you look at it. There's no redeeming value there, except as an interesting--albeit SICK--plot twist I NEVER saw coming.

Overall, Breaking Dawn summary once again: Biggest cop-out ever. As far as I'm concerned, the series ends with Eclipse, and I can fantasize my own--better written--conclusion to what was an epic saga.