28 January 2010

the Days Just keep Dragging on and On and on And...

There are some days when I know that I want to be an Illustrator. I don't know who I'll work for or what I'll do exactly, but that's what I want to be. I look at other illustrator's works and think, 'I could do that! With the right training and some practice, I could do that!' I can already see all of it in my head, I just need to hone some skills to get it on paper. And it'll be amazing. And it'll blow everyone's minds. And I'll be wildly successful.

(really, i just want to be rich and successful. American Dream, right? nothin' wrong with being american. so in the future when my name is displayed all over in magazines and books and billboards, and I'm sprawled out on a bed covered in $100 bills, don't be jealous; it's just me being patriotic.)

But there are other days when all I want, all I really want, is to exist.
Until I'm done existing.
And then die.
That's what I want.

Today is definitely one of those "exist and then die" days.

23 January 2010

insomna: That Elusive fiend

I woke up at 2:30 this morning and couldn't fall back to sleep until 5:30. Pretty wretched night, if you ask me.

What did I do with my three hours of extra time, you ask?


Mostly just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, wishing I could fall asleep.

Just once I'd like to have a solid night's sleep; go to sleep before midnight, sleep a solid nine hours, and wake up without an alarm. That's all I want in the chaos of school and work and late nights studying and catching early morning buses...just one night free from all of that. Last night was supposed to be that night.

Stupid insomnia.

Maybe it'll happen tonight.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to do some dishes and not take a nap.

22 January 2010

airplanes Make Me bitter. Well, Now i know

I'm almost done with Beyond the Call of Duty.  Chapter 12 is where he tells about the rescue for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Which, really, is the only part I cared about in the first place.  In a book of 16 Chapters, three Appendices, transcripts of eye witness accounts, citation of the award ceremony, a list of Mr. Fisher's awards, and a breakdown of the Vietnam War...I only needed chapters 12 - 15. 

Well, now I know.

For the record, I do like Bernie - he and his family seem like really fun people.  The kind of people you'd want in your extended family.  Bernie would be a very cool grandpa. 

His book just wasn't written for readers like me.  There was a pretty specific audience in mind when the book was put together.  I should have known after reading one of the reviews on the back of the book:

"I love airplanes and I love airplane stories; but this book is about more than airplanes. After finishing Beyond the Call of Duty I have a new hero.  Bernie Fisher's daring mission under fire in Vietnam had me on the edge of my seat."

Yeah...that doesn't sound like me at all.

Mr Fisher is, no doubt, a hero.  And his "daring mission under fire in Vietnam" was incredible.  But the airplanes...oh man, too many airplanes. That's great that he's passionate about planes, but cut me some slack!
Everyone has different passions, and that's fine. Airplanes aren't one of mine, and that's fine, too.  And now I know that reading 160+ pages about airplanes was a bad idea.  Fine, fine, fine.

I'll tell you one thing that's not fine.  The book is littered with sentences that follow an extremely irritating formula: "It was really ________ to (verb) ___________."  Over and over these sentences would show up.  Examples:

"It was really amazing to see (fill in your own blank)"
"It was really beautiful to see (the sunset or something)"
"It was really scary to (lose power in his airplane or somesuch)"
"It was really interesting to (you get the point)"

It was killing me!  Come on, Bernie, let's get some new sentence structures going on here!  More than that, the co-author, Jerry Borrowman, who has written several books including other biographies, really should have noticed this obnoxious pattern and fixed it.  Let's see some of those writing skillz put to work, Jerry! What are we paying you for?

Maybe they did it to keep continuity in the book, to make it feel like Bernie was talking to his audience, not writing a report to them.  Maybe they wanted to keep Bernie's image as a simple, Idaho-loving, family man. After all, he was the first Air Force serviceman from the Vietnam War to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Not only that, but the Medal of Honor is usually given posthumously, and our boy Fisher was alive and well to receive it in person.   It would be easy to get all uppity about something like that, or for readers to worship him for it.  Simple sentence structure is consistent with Bernie's humble disposition.

I wish they would have found another way to get that across, though, cuz it drove me up the wall.

21 January 2010

disclaimer: It's Not as Bad as i make It sound...it's Just funnier This Way

I'm reading a book about Bernard Fisher. He's my husband's hero. We have his portrait hanging on our wall, signed and everything. He was an Air Force Pilot who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courageous and selfless acts in the Vietnam War. Amazing guy. Fo' sho'.

His autobiography, Beyond the Call of Duty, is vastly different from any other book I've read. I don't want to say anything bad about it, because it's not a bad book, I'm just having a hard time falling into sync with the writing style. One minute we're talking about military training, the next paragraph is a cute story about his son getting lost in Japan, and in the next paragraph the Korean War is over and we're moving back to the United States.  No transitions.  No underlying themes.  Just a collage of tangent stories squashed together ("we'll call it a 'chapter,' old boy, it'll be brilliant!")

I'm so confused!!

The story of his seven year old son in Japan is, I'll admit, cute and enjoyable to read.  Towards the end of it I started thinking, "Okay Bernie (I call him 'Bernie' now, apparently), we're taking a bit of detour here...when is this going to become important to the story?"  And just when Bernie's convinced me that we've gone too far into the tale of his little boy for this to be just another tangent, he shoves me into the story's next event without permitting even a single look back.   I feel misled.  Not to mention frustrated at the time wasted on two pages of information that I'm not going to need EVER.  But he keeps doing it!

80 pages into the book and I'm finally getting used to jumping from mini-story to mini-story; I've given up all hope of an over-arcing plot because, let's face it, there's been no point in the previous eighty pages, why would there be a point in the last eighty? Apparently the only purpose of this book is to allow me to read about some fellow's idyllic American life.  Yippee.


Page 89: "What I couldn't know at that moment was how valuable those two experiences would be in just a little over a year when I'd face combat for the first time in my military career."
Oh so NOW we're all about giving the reader pertinent information that ties into the climax of the story.  I get it.  Only problem with that is, after 90 pages of him reminiscing on unrelated topics, I started to skim (and even completely skip) whole chapters.  I came to that sentence and thought, 'Two experiences?  What experiences?'

Am I going to go back in the book to find out?

Not a chance!  Let's don't be silly, now.  I worked dang hard to trudge 90 pages into this book, there's no back-tracking at this point in the game.  I'll trust to my powers of inference when I get to that part of the story.  Besides, the "experiences" are probably only interesting in their detail to other pilots.  I don't know if you know this about me, but I am not, nor do I have any desire to be, a pilot. (surprise!)  Much less an Air Force pilot. (double surprise!)

Maybe that's my problem with this book: Bernie and I have very little in common.  If we were to sit down and have a conversation over dinner it would be one of those evenings filled with courteous pity laughs, awkward silences, and saying the wrong things at the wrong moments. If we ever had dinner, my husband would need to be there to carry the conversation.  Then they could both talk about how great it is to be in the U.S. military (look at how manly we are with our manly planes, tanks, guns, and ammunition) and swap ideas for outings with their local scout troops.  And I could sit to one side quietly nibbling on biscotti and wondering where the waiter could be with our check.

19 January 2010

But Not the cute charlie Brown kind...

I need to not kill my co-worker. It's not his fault he's an idiot. And irritating. And an honest-to-goodness all-around blockhead.

It doesn't justify me killing him.

It doesn't even justify me being rude to him.  Rude, in this case, is congruent to being honest with him.  And I can't lie.  Really, I just can't do it; I'm lacking that particular genome.  So, if we deduce this equation to its basic variables, we are left with only one solution: Zero Conversation Possibilities Between Me and Blockhead.

I can accept this as fact.  He, on the other hand, doesn't seem to grasp the concept behind my clear-cut equation.  He just keeps talking.

Not that I'm against talking altogether, but he keeps asking personal questions about things that - frankly - I don't want him to know about me.  That makes him sound like a creeper, which he's not, he's just incredibly dense when it comes to social cues and appropriate acquaintance conversation topics.

One of my issues with this guy: he seems fascinated with the fact that I'm an artist, and he says he likes art, but he clearly knows nothing about it.  (he's in construction, so can you really blame him?)  Every time I study anything that has to do with art he's right at my shoulder asking, "Did you draw that?  Is that something you made??"  No, blockhead, that's a painting by Monet.  I'm studying it as a reference.  Now get your blockhead-self out of my bubble.

Once I had my textbook open on my desk at work. He zips over and taps a picture in my book (he touched my book! he was six inches away from my face!  does anyone else think this is odd?) and asks, "Is that something you're going to draw?"
 All I could do was stare at him in disbelief that such a level of ignorance was humanly possible.
 No, blockhead, that's a famous cathedral in Ravenna, Italy and I'm writing a paper on it.
 "Oh. Why?"
 Are you serious??  Do they not study history in construction?? Well maybe they don't, but I have news for you, everyone else in this university has to study SOME aspect of History. Literature, Philosophy, Science, Health...they all have to study History in their respective spheres.  And, guess what? that includes Art.    

Here's my favorite:
"Hey, if you ever bring your drawings to the office, would you show them to me?"
OhmygoshNO.  Of all the people in the world that I would show my work to, blockhead, you are not one of them.  For starters, the idea of me showing my work off in the office seems bizarre and uncomfortable.  Secondly, it would mean that blockhead would look at them and probably compliment them, which is a thought so repulsive that I cannot suppress a shudder.  In fact, if I found out I had drawn something that he thought was "good" I would promptly burn it.

I go home at night and try to convince myself that he's not that bad, he has a family and he's got friends who (probably) think he's a swell guy, I just have to dig deeper to find that.  But when I'm around him it feels like the skin on my arms and scalp has been peeled back so that all my nerves are exposed, leaving me raw and irritable as he continues to talk.  My muscles tighten and my jaw clenches as I cave to the acute pressure from the rest of the office (all listening in on this exchange, by the way) to be civil to blockhead and endure his inane questions by avoiding eye contact and responding in simple one-word answers.

This will probably not be the last time you hear me complaining about this particular co-worker.  To keep things simple, his codename will be "blockhead" from here on out.  Not that he really needs a codename...anyone who knows him can read this and guess who "blockhead" is.  Anyone who doesn't know him can read this and not care what his real name is, if it were menitoned.  No, dear reader, sorry to say the codename has nothing to do with you or any obligation I may feel to keep his identity protected.  It's about me.  More specifically, it's about the fantastic satisfaction I get from calling him "blockhead" over and over in my mind while I complain about him on the interweb.  Cheers!

15 January 2010

i'll tell You what I Need...

You remember back in the day when I could leave a post with a space between the body of the text and the title of the post?  Remember?

Those were good times.

blogger.com must have changed something because I haven't been able to get away with that kind of shenanigan for months.  It makes me sad. And frustrated.  And wishing I knew something, anything, about HTML so I could skirt around it.

I keep trying to find backdoors and loopholes around it, but blogger blocks me every time. 

Can anyone provide me with really basic, step-by-step instructions on how to get my header/footer space back?  I get claustrophobic without them.

14 January 2010

i'm Too educated for This Kind Of behavior

I was studying the other day, as I am wont to do, when this guy plops down at the table next to me.  I tried to keep studying, not looking at him (we americans are so weird that way), but after a while...well...here's what happened.

The mystery man was wearing a bandanna around his forehead, an old t-shirt, and torn jeans.  He was heavy, a bit of a pot-belly, with iPod earbuds in and music turned up.  He had three different bags that he would periodically grab food from and stuff into his mouth.  And he was a noisy eater.  Chewed with is mouth open, wouldn't (or maybe couldn't?) breathe through his nose, added to the fact that he couldn't hear himself.  So I'm eating my own peanut butter and jelly sandwich while listening to stomach churning noises of animal-like breathing, the slop of saliva and chomping of teeth, with occasional grunts.


I'm not impressed with this guy.  He's a slob, his clothes are sloppy, and he's obviously lacking in crucial social skills.  Involuntarily I started making snap judgements about his adademic ability and average gpa, niether of which were very impressive in my mind.

Someone who knew him came up and started a casual conversation - "Hey, how ya doin? What classes ya takin?" - you've been there.  I couldn't help but overhear.

This slob is apparently learning German, taking a class on Shakespeare, literary criticism, plus two Honors classes, and is actively involved in our school's government and politics.


I'm a jerk.

12 January 2010

Ask Me to tell It In person Sometime

My sister told me a story yesterday.  I thought I was going to die laughing.  This one might even top my auto-shop fiasco.  Maybe.  Then again, it could be one of those stories that's better in person, due to all the facial expressions and hand gestures that are absolutely crucial to a good story, and trying to put it down into written words could turn out to be a huge mistake.

Let's find out.

My sister works part-time and as a result, she has a lot of free time on her hands.  So she and her roommate signed up for an Institute class to break up the days.  She has never been in the Institute building prior to the fateful day which I am about to describe to you.

The class starts at 2:00 and at 1:59 she's still on the road headed to campus.  Dang it.  First day of class and she's already late.  She pulls into the parking lot, runs up the stairs and through the doors of the Institute.  Flustered and rushed, she tries to look nonchalant while searching for her classroom.

"Room 215...so it's on the second floor..."    Last room on the left is labeled "Stairs."  Perfect.  She turns sharply and prepares to lift her foot onto the first stair when...wait a minute.  These stairs go down.  To the basement.  There are no stairs going up to the second floor in this stairwell. 

Well, that's strange.

Warily, she keeps moving down the hall which branches out in three different directions a few yards ahead.  This is already getting way more complicated than it should be. She wanders up and down the hallways, all the while fending off text messages from her impatient roommate, who is sitting in room 215 at this very moment but can't give her directions or do anything helpful, just constantly repeat, "Are you here yet? Are you here yet? Are you here yet?"

Finally she finds another plaque marked "Stairs" and eagerly goes through the doorway only to be confronted with more stairs that only go down!  All the stairways in this building only lead to the basement!  What kind of Alice in Wonderland/Twilight Zone is this??  How is anyone supposed to get to the second floor!?

More hallways leading her full circle back to the room she started in.  People on couches and chairs groggily look up at her and back to their books.  She straightens her back and tries to look calm and, above all, NOT lost.  Walking outside she gazes up at the second story windows.  "There's got to be a way..."

She goes back inside.  People in this lobby are probably starting to recognize her.  Mentally tossing her hands up in the air in sign of surrender, she goes to the front desk and asks, "Excuse me, where is room 215?"

"It's upstairs."

Oh thank you.  That's so helpful.

"Yes...where are the stairs leading to the second floor?"

"Behind you."

...WHAT?  No they're no--

Turning around she sees the doorway.  She see the stairs through the doorway.  They go up.  They're bright blue. 

Jaw drop.

"There's no way those stairs were there when I walked in here.  They're fricking bright BLUE, how did I miss that??  It's got to be the Twilight Zone.  There's no other explanation." 

Pretty sure she made it in time for the last 15 minutes of class.

09 January 2010

This Is deep...bring Your Snorkel

My hip is feeling much better now, thanks for asking.  Still a little stiff, but I'll keep doing stretches.  I can walk again without excruciating pain, although I think I'm unconsciously limping.

I'm taking a cultural anthropology class.  It is most satisfying. ^_^ (yay dumb faces)  I'd like to think that I'm above my culture, that I'm not some conveyor belt product of my society's beliefs and past traditions.

But let's face it: I'm the perfect product of my culture. 

I live in Utah, I met my husband in an LDS Institute class, and got married at 22.  I'm a cookie-cutter Utah Valley girl.  And that bothers me.

How many of our choices are made because that's what we, as human beings according to our core personalities, really want? And how many choices are made according to what our society has brought us up to believe we want? 

Do I attend college because that's what I really want...or does it have to do with our country's past of repressing women and discouraging them from going to school (or the workplace), and in an effort to destroy that bias the new generation has made a phenomenal push to get women in colleges and universities and corporate offices, to prove that women are equal in their abilities.  The push is now in the opposite direction from what it was forty to sixty years ago; now the pressure is "Go to school! Learn! Grow! Because you're a woman and you have to prove that YOU CAN."  Are we really still proving that point?

I feel I can honestly say that I'm in school because I love it.  I crave it.  The sense of accomplishment and camaraderie I get there is unmatched in value to any other endeavor I've undertaken or any other aspect of my day-to-day life. 

But I suspect that these other social variables have played their part to get me here.  Not explicitly; my grandmother never sat me down and lectured me on why she never went to school and why I should. But it's part of my subconscious.  I feel the subliminal pushes from the Feminist Movement and part of my satisfaction is knowing that I'm doing extremely well, not just as a student, but as a woman.  One more nail in the coffin of Female Repression.

If you were to ask me outright, I'd say that the coffin of Female Repression has so many nails in it at this point that it no longer resembles a coffin as much as a piece of modern abstract expressionist art.  My subconscious may not see it that way.  The social pressure of "equal rights for women" is so great that I can't deny it has influence over my actions and decisions.

How do I feel about that?

07 January 2010

i Need some Kind Of pain-Killing Substance in My bloodstream NOW

I hurt my hip.  I don't really know how, either.

First, it's Winter Break and everyone is happy.  Next thing I know, I'm walking on campus to my very first class of the brand-spankin'-new sememster and my hip starts to hurt.  And my knees.  Not a lot of pain.  At first.  I figured I'd walk it off and my body would get used to the cross-campus hikes again.

Not so.

I came home last night and wanted to cry and then scream and amputate my entire left leg.  I did some stretches, and that helped, and I took a scalding hot bath, and that helped, but today I still hurt.  It feels stiff and the pain is making me nauseaous and light-headed.  I'm having a hard time focusing, I can't read, I can barely type (if you only knew how many typos i've been through so far.  it's probably going to break this backspace key), and I feel pretty wretched.

Because of a hip.

I'm about 60 years too young for this to be happening.  What if I've done permanent damage?  What if it never heals?  What if I have to go through this whole semester with a bum hip? (i know that sounded like some 60s lingo, "bum hip," but that's not what I was going for...unless you like it as theoretical 60s lingo, then by all means, run with it)  Should I give up all pretenses of dignity and start walking with an exaggerated limp?  Perhaps I could massage my leg while I walk (which helps, but in no way comes across as dignified or graceful).

I'm starting to let out sighs and moans whenever I have to walk, like my grandma did before she got her hip replaced. I may as well walk with a limp.

I want to go to a doctor.  It's a comfort thing.  Doctors bring back familiar memories from my childhood.  I also have memories of how useless, exasperating, and expensive doctors typically turned out to be, but like I said: it's a comfort thing.  Unfortunately, without insurance I wouldn't be able to afford the lab tests or any prescriptions, so is it worth the trip at all?

If it still hurts in a week (mother-FLETCHER it had better not hurt like this in a week!!) then I'll go to a doctor.  And if it turns out to be cheaper, I'll opt to have them amputate the whole thing.  Who needs a left leg, anyway?  I've got another one.

05 January 2010

death of One obsession Is Bound to Give rise to Another

That girl...you remember that girl?

I'd like to say I'm not (as) obsessed with her anymore. Where once I may have been an insatiably driven moth mesmerized by the bright and intriguing flame, I'm now content to sit in my pleasant abode of neutrality and calmly look out my window every once in a while to wonder at that same flame.  It's still bright.  It's still intriguing.  But it's enough to watch it from a distance.  And only occasionally, at that.

Even so, I found myself on her blog the other day (psh-aw! "The other day" baloney! I found myself there 10 minutes ago) and I was struck with a thought: very few people leave comments on her posts, which could insinuate that she has very few readers...but that might not be true.  I never leave a comment and I read nearly every post (psh-aw! "Nearly" baloney! I've read every post she's ever written).  But I can't leave a comment, or even "follow" her blog, because then she would know that I'm reading her blog.  It defeats the secretive anonymity that I need as her blog-stalker.

I appreciate that she keeps writing even though I, probably her most faithful reader, have never commented or in any way made known to her that I'm reading what she writes.

So who am writing for?  In all honesty, just myself.  But I put it on the web with the small and somewhat futile hope that someone will come upon the words and find something here.  "Something" meaning some sort of connection; either through humor or a mutual experience or common wonderings.

Maybe I have my very own blog-stalker.

(so unlikely.  even as I wrote it, the tiny voice in my mind that came up with it was ambushed and mercilessly mocked by the larger conformist bullies that make up the greater part of my brain.  they're bringing out the tar and feathers now...  look away. look away.)

On a side note:
Our water pipes make sounds like the sigh of a much loved puppy from my childhood.  Tense and wary, I look around nervously every time it happens and vaguely wonder if the apartment is haunted.  Until I remind myself it's only the water pipes.  It's making me jumpy.  Good thing school starts tomorrow.