Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kicked Out of My Life

So I know it's been awhile (hmm...6 months) but I'm back and re-committing myself to be a better blogger for anyone who cares. So here's the latest...
After the door slammed shut on my job, my place to live, and other opportunities in which I had invested a lot of hope (and all within the process of 3 cataclysmic November weeks) I decided to take a break to a place where the sun never lets you down - good old California. My brain was already foggy from trying to figure out what the universe was trying to tell me by all these major shifts coinciding together leaving me completely perplexed. Apparently it's time to start over again, time for a new chapter or by now maybe a new book. What that next phase will be, I'm trying to determine.

I thought going to California might help me figure that out. It was great to visit LA again where the temperature was in the 60s compared to single digits in Utah. My brother Ben came with me and we stayed with my old roommate Marcella who is leaving LA this month to go to school in New Mexico. It was fun driving up PCH and stopping at a cafe on a private beach where I ran into a colorful bartender I worked with in Beverly Hills when I was a hostess. He's the guy who without fail said to me every shift, "I'll give a dollar if you kill me." I told him I wasn't going to jail for a dollar. Ah...those were good times.
While there we also covered Sprinkles, running at Marina Del Rey, and my personal favorite - only to be found in Los Angeles - Hunky Santa and the Candy Cane Girls! I guess it's been going on for 9 years but this was the first time I'd heard of it. We were close enough to the Beverly Center mall that we figured, why not? In my opinion Santa shouldn't have a 6-pack but Hollywood doesn't agree. We also celebrated our 4th annual Advent Sunday to ring in Christmas with stories and music. We had a pretty good turnout and can happily report that there were no fires from the candles.
And, of course, California wouldn't be complete without a trip to Disneyland since my annual pass was about to expire. The Happiest Place on Earth was also the wettest place on earth. Rain, rain, rain. But no lines at least. Overall, it was great to see old friends and a little sad to realize how many are no longer in California. That's life. In the words of Keane, "Everybody's changing and I don't feel the same."
I also enjoyed staying with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Huntington Beach and eating all the good food you can't get here (In-N-Out has no lines in California). It was a great break and a fun trip, though I have to admit I didn't get much enlightenment as to the next direction I should take in life. I've already applied to graduate school for next fall in dramatic writing. Since stories and the written word are what I love I decided I'm just going to go for it. I'm working on getting my middle reader's novel published as well. It's finally finished and I've already had some interested parties, I just have to shop it around more. Meanwhile I'm also looking for a job and am at my parent's house until I decide what new direction I'll take and where I'll go. Even though I feel pretty lost now and like everything's fallen apart, I'm still here. I find again that I can survive things I didn't necessarily think I could (I have to stop saying things out loud 'cause I think God hears me say it and then tests me.) But, you know, life still has much to offer at any point along it's track and I'm learning to be more grateful for all the things I have and for my personal journey. Everyone has their own path they have to follow and their own rhythm and timing and that's okay. I'm grateful for life, despite how hard it can be sometimes, and grateful to find light in so many dark places. (And I'm also grateful I still know how to spell grateful. It's been hi-jacked by too many texters, face-bookers, and the like to read greatful. Cute but no.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wounded Woman is released

I'm still here. I know it's been a long time. I guess I've been so busy with writing other things that I haven't been writing on my blog but I'm correcting that today with some creative news.
I am happy to announce that the CD I've been working on for the past year is finally finished. The album is called Wounded Woman and has seven original songs with back-up guitars, drums, vocals, and a cello in one song played by none other than my great brother Ben. I'm really happy with the CD and think it's kind of a miracle I could even do it. I never set out with the purpose of recording an album and I'm certainly not trying to make it big now. It just happened and seemed to pour out of me in a way I've never experienced.
Those who are pretty close to me know what a difficult year the last has been for me - probably the hardest to date and for many reasons. It wasn't just because of a boy but that certainly ignited the internal upheaval. I guess I need to give that heartbreaking boy a special thanks since he's the one who got me started playing the guitar and made the CD possible. If there's one thing I've learned from this it is that good can come from any situation, any loss, any obstacle. Whatever darkness comes, there is always light to be found. I found much of mine in creating this music. It was a way to make some meaning from the chaos in my mind and heart, it was an outlet, a way to express and alleviate the things I could not understand. As a story-writer I always want a resolution, a pattern of meaning that I can look at and see the design from beginning to end. I lost the concept of that in my own life - which I know is the point, right? Faith and all that. But it's still hard and I find myself more than ever feeling a little lost and still not understanding many things. It's really true what my dad says: the longer you live the more questions you have and the fewer answers. So, in this state of not having any answers or certain resolutions I give this CD. Creating something from the experience is my answer. Imperfect as it is, certainly not Simon Cowell material, or meant to pander to popular taste, it just is what it is, from a truthful place and an attempt at doing something I never thought possible. Life can always bring new dreams. For me, the greatest thing about this music album is what it represents: That something good, some kind of light could come from something so dark. That is truly hope and that is a miracle to me.

I'm going to have a little CD release party on June 27th and play the songs live and at some point I'll probably put them on itunes. I'm just happy to share with anyone who wants to hear them - wounded or not, woman or not (and I have to say the songs aren't bitter or angry woman songs either). It's just about a journey, and I must say what a fun experience it's been to sing about this journey. And thank you Brian Bingham for helping me produce and record this music! It's been invaluable!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Adventures of a New Decade

I spent my big 30th birthday on a new adventure in the Northwest: Seattle and Portland, two cities to which I've never been but have always wanted to go. So me and my best buddy and brother Ben (that's a lot of alliteration) drove to Washington Wednesday after work and stayed the night in Kennewick, then went on to Seattle the next day (I was sleepless before I got to Seattle. Maybe I was nervous about entering the new decade the night before at 2:56am.)
The weather was a little cool in Seattle but it didn't rain on us. We took the monorail into the city. The conductor told us to sit by him but warned us there was no necking up front (yeah, we got a lot of those kinds of jokes. I guess siblings typically don't travel together.)
We hit Pike's Market first - a cool place by the water where they have all these shops and the workers still throw fish, though they didn't do it when we were there. One of them did throw a stuffed fish at a lady who then spilled her coffee in her hair. That was the only fish-throwing excitement we got. We ate salmon and prawn sandwiches at a little grill in the midst of it all and then walked to a Starbucks which are pretty much on every corner since it all started there and got the only thing we really could get (hot chocolate).

We also walked into the first Nordstrom's - also started there - and breezed through all the expensive things we couldn't afford. Really, we just wanted to get warm. Then we headed back to where we started. I guess you know you're getting old when you have to sit down and rest in the middle of the day and take an Alka Seltzer from all the fattening food you ate the day before. Ben bought all my favorite sugar-laden treats for my big day.
Before dinner we went to the EMP - Experience Music Project - which happened to be free that night and open later than usual. It's a big music museum by the space needle which has interactive exhibits that lets you try different instruments, tells you about different musicians like Jimmy Hendrix and Kurt Cobain - both from Seattle, and just has a cool design and huge guitar/instrument tree in the middle of the floor. Ben and I also got to have our own band for 5 minutes. They put you in this room set up like a rock concert - flashing lights, a big screen projecting an audience, and instruments you can play. They had us make up a band name (We chose Fire in the Hole) and then we picked a song and jammed out on stage as if we were in a band. It was so much fun and we really got into it - Ben on the drums and me on this sweet white electric guitar. We bought a poster of us playing after (it's touristy, but we had to) and they printed out concert stubs for us with our band name on them and "price of admission $60.00" If only...

We had to hurry but we made our expensive dinner reservation in the space needle. The restaurant actually rotates every 45 minutes so you get a view of the whole city. Lucky for us it was a very clear night and Seattle was beautiful. What a great birthday! We stayed with my Aunt Kristy in Montesano for the night and on Friday headed up the Olympic Peninsula and to the Rainforest in Olympic National Park.

I was so excited to go, especially since my children's novel is set in the jungle and we don't really have anything like that in America except for the area in Washington. It was so green and pretty. We took a walk in the Trail of Moss too which was almost surreal. Loved it! Since Forks (the Twilight town for those who possibly don't know that) was only about 10 minutes away from the Rainforest, I made Ben drive up there so I could just see it and let my imagination run wild for a bit. It was touristy but I enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing the little things the town had done for sightseers even though the movie wasn't actually filmed there and the book wasn't written with that specific town in mind.

Apparently, they just picked out spots that matched Stephenie Meyers' descriptions in the book and labeled them as the houses and spots of interest. I did buy a button that said "Only a Vampire Can Love you Forever." La Push, the beach on the Indian Reservation about 20 minutes away, was very pretty and a good spot for pictures. We had our lunch there before heading back to the Rainforest and then down the coast past Ruby Beach. I love seeing the forest and ocean on both sides of me. How amazing.

Saturday morning we drove down the coast across the Columbia bridge into Astoria and then made our way down to Portland - also a cool city. It was a bit rainy but not bad. We just happened to run into a Trader Joes and stocked up (man I wish they had those stores in Utah!) Then we went to NW 23rd avenue where my friend told me we would find some cool boutiques and cool atmosphere, which we did. The city has a charming style and authenticity I really liked. I like the feel of the Northwest.

The houses were cool too and colorful with a kind of old-fashioned charm. Ben noted after experiencing both cities that there weren't many redheads around (which is unfortunate) and actually not many blondes either or maybe they just don't succumb to bottled hair as much as they do in California and Utah. We stopped at Jake's Famous Crawfish for dinner. I love Happy Hour. I'm sure they hated us for not drinking alcohol and still getting insanely cheap, tasty food but I feel zero guilt. The other wino's will make up for it. We also went to Powell's bookstore - the biggest bookstore I've ever been in - and bought a few books. I think I would be there a lot if I lived in Portland. We drove to the Portland temple to see it at night before heading to my cousin's house for another free night's stay. I'm so thankful for family and friends. Our drive home on Sunday was along the Columbia River Gorge (which almost made up for the incredibly boring drive through Idaho). We stopped to see Multonomah Falls along the 84 highway, and even though the weather was a little snowy, the scenery was beautiful. I would love to go back in the late spring or summer.
The trip was the perfect length and I'm so glad I could go and go with my brother. It's great to get along with someone that well. I reflected on what I've been able to experience and achieve in my 20s which ended up being more than I thought after I wrote them down in my journal. I learned a lot in school and serving a mission, progressed from writing poems to an actual book (with some screenplays in between) and traveled to Europe. I also learned a lot about myself and people in general and how I want to be better. My hope for this new decade - my 30s - is to pass on those experiences and give back what I have learned and will continue to learn. It's harder for me now than it ever has been to see what may lie ahead, but as Meryl Streep said in Out of Africa, perhaps God made the world round so we couldn't see too far ahead. I'll buy that one for now. (That's a great movie by the way.)
So on to the new adventures that await and to embracing life, whatever it may bring and whatever you may work with it to bring. Of all the things I'm most grateful for, it is the relationships with others that bring me the most joy and meaning and I am ever so grateful for that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Missing Hubcaps

I've had a missing hubcap for a couple of months now, which my dad frowns upon because he thinks it's white trash, but when I drove back to California a few weeks ago to work for a few days I noticed that most of the cars in LA have one hubcap missing probably from all the street parking so maybe I fit in there more than I thought.
I apologize for the gap in updating my blog. January is my least inspiring month and I haven't found much motivation in finding stuff to write about so I didn't. I will say I've been working on finishing the re-write of my children's book, tweaking my first album which I plan to have done by my birthday, looking at masters programs, reading Bonds That Make Us Free with some friends from work - very insightful about your way of being and how you interact with others, - and discovering Horatio Hornblower. I love the British. My mom's been recovering nicely from her surgery - still as fiesty as ever - and I think Ben and I solved the ant problem in our kitchen six ant traps later. I also got to experience the Sundance Film Festival for the first time this year. It was crowded but I saw a great film called Adam which was a surprisingly refreshing love story. I love well-written scripts and want to get better at writing them myself. My recent trip to California was productive. I taught in Compton and West LA, tried a great new Italian restaurant, ran on the beach twice (I love California weather, it makes me happy),went to Disneyland, spent time with my nieces and found some cheap stuff at the swap meet (and had a lovely nap after), and made the entire road trip by myself which I decided I don't want to do again. The drive's too long, I don't have cruise control, and I got tired of talking to myself - even in my different accents. But it did make me feel good that the gas station attendant in Baker wished me a good trip and sincerely asked me to drive safely. Wow, some stranger cared. I was genuinely touched. I drove back to Utah on Groundhog's Day and was so glad I didn't wake up to Sonny and Cher the next morning and have to repeat the drive over again. I'm also enjoying being a Relief Society teacher and gave my first lesson in my new ward on the same day Ben and I were asked to speak in Church. My brain felt kind of taxed but it was an edifying Sunday. I've been thinking a lot about balance lately and how balance is the key to everything. One can't be too extreme in one direction or the other but develop wise judgment and be responsible to exercise judgment in the variety of situations that we encounter, that our unique to us and to circumstances. I'm finding that things aren't always so black and white like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings (still my favorite movies). Life requires the constant examining and exercising of justice and mercy, of judgment between what is right and what is wrong for each of us in our different spheres. Of course there is a basic foundation and important, basic building blocks but the more I learn the more I realize how sparingly absolutes should be used and applied to ourselves and to others. Life is about balance. So maybe I should lose another hubcap just to make it even.