Sunday, February 28, 2010

grown up list #1.

when we were little my older sister brookie and i used to put on my mom and dads clothes and pretend to be them and argue over bills and dinner and i would pretend to read the wall street journal and go to work with a briefcase and do other fatherly things. brookie always made me be the dad, one of the wonderful perks of being the younger sister. my mom and dad would watch us and laugh and smile knowingly, because they knew something that i did not: that one day i would in fact be a grown up (though not a dad), something my six-year-old brain could not comprehend and my twenty-four-year-old one is still working through. sometimes i can feel that day creeping up on me bit by bit, even though when im mailing off important grownup mail or using a credit card i still feel like that little girl in her daddys pants, just pretending to be a grownup for a short little while until my next door neighbor comes over and we can go rollerblading.

when i was that little girl (a chubby, chubby little girl with unkempt hair that went swimming in XXL tees over her bathing suit) i not only liked to play dad, i also used to make lists--lists of my favorite books, lists of boys that smelled like B.O. (Jeffrey Fisher, are you out there?), lists of the characters I thought were dreamy (Gilbert from Ann of Green Gables anyone?), lists of the five women I wanted to look like when I grew up (Jane Fonda topped the list, I kid you not, my mom owned all of her step videos), lists of the countries I wanted to see and the professions i would one day achieve (a ballerina-writer-iceskater-fireman-spy-princess, obviously). Those lists are lost somewhere in the attic of the house i grew up in, or maybe somewhere out in the universe never to be found, but today when I was feeling like a little girl in her daddy's pants as I talked to someone on the phone about the state of the economy, I started making another list in my head--a list of the things I want when I'm a grown up. And since lists are not as fun unless they are written and recorded for the sake of public record, here it is blogging universe, a list from the slightly more grown up version of the chubby little girl who always had to play the boy character:

Things I want when I grow up (drum roll please)

1. to live on a street called zeitgest. i'm not sure why. Mostly because I really really like that word, and I think it is probably the best street name I can imagine. 22 zeitgest. does that address exist anywhere in the world? google map it for me because im moving in.

2. have a pack of wild children. Like maybe 4 to 7. I hope they are barefoot most of the time and enjoy wearing wild outfits that don't match and often do things like try to fly or catch lizards or eat sand. also when i picture them in my minds eye i picture them with some sort of tail sweatpants..are those available?

3. dance on every continent, preferably with nick and my pack of wild children. preferably with the locals of the continent. preferably in some sort of tribal costume. matching tribal costumes. im envisioning the part in peter pan when they are captured by the indians and dance around the fire.

4. meet Ponyboy Curtis. or at least SE Hinton. Is she alive? or maybe just someone with the name ponyboy curtis. or name my child ponyboy, although nick has already threatened to leave me if i pull through on that one.

5. write a really really amazing book. I don't care what its about, as long as it involves dancing, candy, happiness and makes at least one to two people cry. also, i would like it not to include any capital letters because we all know how i feel about those.

6. beome president of the United States. or at least president of something. maybe the pta, maybe a small municipality, maybe the burger king kids club. but whatever it is, i would like to be known as king shannon. i know that i am a president and not a king, but i like the idea of being called a king.

7. discover buried treasure. i know this sounds farfetched, but i actually have a lead and i actually may accomplish this. so when im laughing all the way to the buried treasure trunk, youll feel silly you doubted me.

8. convince nick to go skydiving with me, preferably in some sort of matching unitard on some sort of momentous occasion. hes not into it. can you email him and let him know this is a good idea?

9. become the reason for a national holiday.

10. own a windmill. i love windmills a whole lot, a topic for another blogpost, but id like one in my back yard if possible, as well as a weeping willow tree, a tree house, and an enormous pool of jello.

11. live in a treehouse. this has been a life dream.

12. learn how to speak a very obscure language and then visit a place where they speak that obscure language and casually start conversing with a native, surprising them all with my incredible intellectual abilities and perfect accent.

13. become an astronaut.

14. break the world record for speed reading. this one i really think may be within my reach.

15. become a court reporter. partly for the outfits, and partly because its like a really cool important version of a secretary and they get to type things like "lawyer sneezes".

16. see the loch ness monster, and maybe get interviewed by large news agencies about it. act like its no big deal.

these lists may continue if my neighbor doesnt come over to go rollerblading. i will keep you tuned. now its my turn to ask: what is on your list of things to do as a grownup? please tell me, especially if it involves swordfighting or graffiti.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

do you

ever feel like the world is very very big? in a good, mouth open sort of way that makes you want to watch land before time and maybe sit by a window that looks out onto the endlessness or maybe just a fire escape, or maybe go stand next to a very large tree so you can feel very small?

i do.

sometimes im glad to be insignificant.

Monday, February 22, 2010

prayer to me.

do you ever ask for a million peoples opinions on a million everythings? do you ever get nervous because someone makes a comment and you think, maybe theyre right, maybe ill do it their way, and then you do it their way and then you think, maybe i should do it my way? do you ever hear someone else got a different answer than you on a homework assignment and feel torn between scribbling out your own and putting theirs and keeping the answer you worked so hard to find? do you ever ask 400 people in the optometrists office which glasses look good on you and spend 3.5 hours trying on every single pair that exists twice while asking the receptionist: do these make me look sexy? maybe not. but i do. and im sorry, receptionist that had to reassure me twelve times blondes can wear black frames. i really am. probably because it was annoying, but also i came back the next day and bought the tan ones.

i think one of my assets, and faults, all bundled into one little package, is that i value other peoples opinions. like...a lot. i dont even want to talk about planning a wedding, because i asked everyone from the janitor to my next door neighbor to the wedding dress alterer for opinions on flowers, heels, meat choices, bla bla bla and so on until there were 743 hands in the cookie jar. and while i think my ability to appreciate that people have talents and expertise in different areas is great and that it is a gift to have a good cabinet of people to turn to, a tour de force of friends with various knowledge from cooking skills to an extensive knowledge of history, i also think sometimes you must ride alone. trust yourself. thats one that im working on.

because sometimes the bottom line is you, and no one else. sometimes i think there is something really profound and beautiful in digging deep inside that bluebird of a soul when faced with a tough or not-so-tough decision and digging past all of the murky grey stuff and finding what you really think. knowing who you really really are, without all those outside things or people helping to define you. knowing that whether or not everyone else thinks you look good in red, that you like blue. knowing that no matter what somebody else puts as their answer, you know yours. i think that its important to find that inner you, the inside shannon that knows who she is, what she wants and that she likes her scrambled egg with ketchup even if people think thats gross. i think there will be decisions in life when you want to look left or right or up or down or to your spouse or mom or oprah, but when you look around you will be alone, left only with a road ahead of you and your heart and gut to tell you which path is yours for the taking. and i think thats good and right, and when you come out of it you will be headed in the exact right decision, with a bounce in your step that wasnt there before.

dont get me wrong, oprah can help. and so can fortune cookies and flipping coins or whatever else offers you words of wisdom. but i think when it comes down to it, down to the wire, that you have to trust yourself before anyone or anything else. others can help, but you have to be confident that you know you, and that your heart is strong and right and can lead you confidently in the direction of your dreams. you can listen to what everyone else says love feels like or looks like or tastes like, but i think when you feel it for yourself it has its own special flavor that is just yours and yours alone, and you know it when it comes and it might not be what everyone else told you to expect. and i think that is the way it is supposed to be with those important decisions that are thrown our way, and i hope that i listen to the beating of my own heart frequently enough that when i need it i will be able to know whats its telling me to do.

and i love that im making decisions each day, learning to listen to myself and creating myself piece by piece, decision by decision, discovering who and what i am. and i hope you are enjoying this path you are building too; navigating through the sea of voices and listening to the one voice that matters most, the one that cannot be taken from you no matter how people try, the one thing that will never fail you in moments of difficult decision if you let it speak true and strong.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

prayer to enchiladas. cause they are dang good.

this might be a picture of nick and i in the middle of the amazon at night. and we might have had full length matching ponchos.

i might have made nick enchiladas for valentines day (and by i, i mean i provided the ingredients and nikki did most of the work) and there might have been one left in our refrigerator. and i might have eaten it last night while i was posting on my blogspot for the first time in <80 days. and nick might have been super excited about eating it for lunch today and he might have been anticipating it all day and he might have opened the fridge at approximately 1:43 pm and he might have found no enchilada. and he might have emailed me while i was in class and the email might have said in the subject line "when did you eat the enchilada?" and i might have burst out laughing right then, and it might have been at a moment we were discussing a photograph of a beheaded man that was up on the blackboard. and it might have been very inappropriate, and i might have spent the duration of a very serious class about printing graphic and tragic photographs trying to think of really really really really sad things but I might have been failing because everytime i looked up at the blackboard no matter what the photograph was i might have envisioned a very large enchilada or an empty refrigerator and burst out in inappropriate laughter.

and i might have a history of eating the last enchilada out of the fridge or maybe leftover bajio quesadilla that wasnt mine and maybe belonged to my sisters boyfriend, so i might take this opportunity to apologize to all of those whom ive wronged in the enchilada world, particularly didi mehner, who has overlooked all my enchilada sins and still found it in her heart to love me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

can i tell you a secret?

like a really big one? one that ive been repressing for decades, maybe even my entire life in full?

i am a really huge enormous perfectionist. like the worst kid. the competitive kind. the obsessive kind. the kind that doesnt think something is worth doing unless it is the very tip top bestest in the entire municipality, region, maybe even entire continental united states. its really kind of disgusting.

i always knew this about things that were important, like church and school and doing good and beautiful things in art and writing and whatever else seemed to creep along. but as i have become a married woman with things to do like decorating houses and picking out wedding dresses and picking out pants for my husband, ive realized i am also a perfectionist in the unimportant things too. which kind of sucks, and which kind of disproves the notion ive always had of myself that im on a crusade to save the world and the trivial is far beneath me, left for those who watch the bachelor for real. because of course, i only watch it for fake.

the point: i think sometimes we think being a perfectionist is like a good bad thing, like how you answer that question in interviews about your weakness with "i work too hard", which we all know is really a good thing and another way of saying, i am the best candidate for this job. but perfectionism, even though its the best answer to the weakness interview question and you should continue using that answer as a means to secure stable employment in this deep dark time of recession, is not a good thing. its not good because it is a competition, because perfectionism stems from comparison and comparison belittles and degrades the uniqueness of each individual soul here on green earth.

and every day i become more and more aware that no matter how much i want it or no matter how much i pretend not to want it, i will never be the girl who is perfect. perfect looking, perfect clothing, perfect bod, perfect looking house. [mine is still left undecorated with no hand soap 2 months after moving here]. and i dont want to be that person, because that means the pursuit of being perfect has become my life, and i dont want my life to be about that. i really, really dont, not even a little bit. and i really dont want to think that table lamps or perfectly cooked meals are more important than bluebirds and sunshine and doing really really nice things, because even though we all seem to care about the table lamp things more than we'd care to admit, im pretty sure when life is over no one will mention your table lamps at your funeral. and really, would you want them to?

they always say the first step in overcoming an addiction is admitting you have a problem right? so here is me admitting it over the worldwideweb for the eyes of no one because i havent written on this blog in 15 years or so. but to anyone who stumbles upon this, i want you to know that im glad you are you in all of your imperfections, and im working on loving mine. im working on remembering every day that the perfect people that are all around me arent perfect, and that life is not a venn diagram, its the opposite. which not sure what. a big lovefest where everyone wins? an enormous hug? i really hope so. im working on remembering perfectionism isnt a bad thing thats really good, its not a security blanket to secretly hold next to my heart and pretend like i dont like it even though i cling to it as part of my identity. im working on remembering its just a bad thing, plain and simple, because it means i am focused on ME instead of all of the people that are more important than that. im working on remembering that trivial things are trivial because they are trivial, not because they are secretly indicators of how on top of life you are. im working on remembering there are like three, maybe four things that are really worth being invested in in life, and none of them involve knick knacks or really cute boots. im working on it.

im working on it because one day, after a long happy life of very badly cooked meals and disasters in everything domestic, i want to be able to remember all of the nice, nice things i did for other people. i want to be okay with times when i felt fat or didnt have nice outfits or sat behind a girl that was a whole lot prettier than i was. i want to be unable to remember if my hair looked good or not. i want to only remember days filled with a lot of nonjealousy and noncompetition and a lot of happiness for other people and thoughts about haiti and service and really good books.

and one day when this life is over, maybe tomorrow or the next or 100 years from now, i want people at my funeral to say i was compassionate, kind, loving, huggy, generous, an embracer of life. i dont want anyone to say i was a perfectionist or kept an immaculate house. i want them to remember me as someone who blew past the trivial without giving it a second thought, someone who spent all of her precious energy and time and money on things that really mattered, like telling people they are really, really great and laughing with her mouth wide open.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

i just think we should try. can we try?

as i sit here eating raspberry white chocolate hugs monica left in our theatre room, im thinking about jobs. about life. dreams and the like, and the transistion from youth to adulthood, which im convinced happens in periodic spurts throughout your life, in small moments and nudges: when you fail a test in college and realize your self esteem no longer solely relies on getting an A, when you no longer have health insurance in your daddys name, when you learn that love is when you dont get what you wanted and dont remind the other person you didnt get what you wanted even though you are dying for SOMEONE, ANYONE, to know of your supreme sacrifice, when you work all day long everyday and no longer have the freedom of midday gas station trips for sodie or a casual target browse or a pretend study session in the library, when you start being on time or at least not ridiculously late, when you start making decisions without consulting 89 other people (although you still google the answers to make sure phantom internet people agree with you), when you cry and don't tell anyone about it, when you bring baked goods anywhere (maybe some people have done that the duration of their life, but i didnt know how to operate an oven until i was 23 years of age). sometimes i feel like a full-blown adult, although i know the growing spurts will continue, little nudges leading me to self-actualization, or at least something like it. my mom used to say being an adult is returning the shopping cart to the RETURN SHOPPING CART HERE places in the parking lot (she cried when my sister did that for the first time without being told). i do that these days, but if i decide not to buy an item i still leave it in the nearest aisle. which makes me think, maturing is still in process, which in some small way, makes me relieved. i dont think im ready for self actualization.

anyway, now that i am an adult-in-embryo i feel that i have refined my life philosophy a little bit. i realize now that in my youth my ideas could be infantile and fantasy, not always connected to the reality that is necessitated by taking care of yourself. but it brings me joy to realize that my philosophy has not fundamentally changed with age and hasnt become entirely jaded by the reality of a paycheck and "adult stuff" for lack of a better term, but just tweaked to fit the realness of adultdom that i was not familiar with before. and even though i am surrounded in a chorus of "i hate my jobs" and "thats being an adult," i think it is possible to live a life you love. i emphatically believe you can. and i am confident i will.

the majority of people i know hate their jobs. some hate where they live, some hate how much they weigh, some hate the people they associate with or their hair or their shyness or their inability to cook or whatever it is they hate. there are some things you cant control, and i realize that. i also realize there is a responsibility that comes with adulthood, and i gladly accept it. i would work a job i hate if that was the only way to feed my children. i would. im not arguing that sometimes life necessitates certain actions and im grateful for people that prioritize. but i think, for the most part, you can love most things in your life and "i have to" can be a shield. that may be offensive and i dont know every situation and i would never judge yours. but i do it, parading excuses left and right for why i cant possibly follow my dreams, but most of the excuses are flimsy and hollow, a weak euphemism for "im scared".

and once you throw those bad boys out the window and try, youre on your way. and one day, one glorious day, you really may be who you want to be living the life you always wanted, the person you dreamed of when you were small with big ideas. i think that taking control and choosing what you want and then going after it with your heart and soul, whatever it is, doing everything within your power to get it, is maybe an integral part of being a real and important being in the universe. i know it is scary. it makes my pits sweat. it is not always fun, and sometimes it results in you crying your eyes out because someone said you couldnt do it. this has happened to me more times than i can count on both hands. but i am glad for those times, because i think it means i reached out of my comfort circle and tried: tried really, really hard. which is really kind of the best part about being a human being and not just an instinctive animal.

trying leads to the good stuff, or so im told. maybe i have just seen too many movies like rudy and miracle and D2 and almost famous. sometimes it boggles my mind that i only have one life. you mean i dont get to do this over? what? are you sure? sometimes i think we forget this in the day to days, and we just go through the motions and do what we can to scrape by. and i think that is okay sometimes, because sometimes thats all you can do. but if dr seuss and mother theresa and johnny appleseed and martin luther king jr and george washington and emilio estevez can do something profound for the world and not just scrape by, i think i can too. i do. and i think that i must, and you must, because this is all we have. these 59 or 80 or 32 years or however long we have to make some footprints.

you can argue you dont want to do anything big. i may or may not believe you, because i think as a little kid you probably said you wanted to be president or a doctor or a firefighter or whatever, and i think you meant it. and that might not be your dream anymore, but i think you still dream, cause i do. and i think you still want to live a life you love, but you may be afraid to reach out of that comfortable little zone youve created over the past however many years where you know where everything is and how things are going to go. i love my zone, but i want to love my life more, and that requires reaching and stepping out and putting myself out ready to get thrown to the lions by employers saying no, teachers saying i cant do it, boys rejecting my love. nick and i were looking at statistics today on getting jobs and the percentage of people that acquire jobs through applying online is 7%. the percentage of people who acquire jobs through walking into a business and asking for an interview is 68%. i think that statistic says it all. lets leave the glow of the computer screen and get out there, because apparently the success rate of really trying and doing scary things is much, much higher.

hopefully my thoughts have not gotten lost in a sea of adjectives and repetition. im just excited to live my one little life as best and as big as i know how. im excited to try. im excited to fail, because that means im stretching and growing, trying to do something that matters. im excited to live a life i love. im excited for nick to live a life he loves. im excited to do big and scary things together. and im excited for you to live a life you love too, because life is just a lot of days piled up on top of each other, and then its over like that. done, finito, which i dont think my peon of a brain can really understand. but lets hope when we all leave this green earth for some other beautiful place our feet have left our comfort zone more than once in a while, and from somewhere far away we can see our footprints all over the place, zigzaggy patterns to all those scary forests and hills and oceans, a life in which we tried really hard, and a life which we truly loved.

Monday, August 10, 2009

because sometimes the universe is just right, and it is your moment in the sun.

so last week my intramural softball team won the championships and i acquired the illustrious byu intramural champion shirt one year after graduating and life was good.

and then this weekend nick and i drove to cedar city and went to the shakespearean festival and then to zion and hiked the narrows and camped on rock hard ground and had each other and red rock and high mountains and no one else and life was good.

and then today i started my 7th grade teaching position for next year and opened boxes of brand new novels like the count of monte cristo, macbeth, farenheit 451, anthem, and tom sawyer and i loved my life as i inhaled my most favorite scent in the world and thought in my head "i get paid to read these, and try to make other people love them like i do. paid a lot of money," and life was good.

and then i drove home so happy after opening all my books and smelling all of their pages, and came home to nick passed out on the couch in basketball shorts and tube socks with a book lying on his chest, and life was good.

and then i opened my email not expecting anything of significance and there was an acceptance letter from northwestern, waiting for me patiently to open it, and i did, and i think my heart exploded, and life was good.

and then nick threw me up in the air and told me he was so proud and we felt good, like we were supposed to move to chicago, like maybe there is big things for us to do there or maybe the universe is pushing us in that direction, and we rushed to the store to get tons of jelly bellys to slink into the movie theatre and went to see 500 days of summer for the second time to celebrate, and life was good.

and now nick is in the shower while i type this, while i sit here smiling, and life is so good. not because of all of those things, not really at all, but because sometimes you feel like you are in a good place and your heart and soul and mind and the universe are all aligned and it feels just right, like the universe was painting an enormous picture and it just got to you and put you in in the exact right spot, just when you thought it maybe wasn't going to put you in the painting at all. and this is not a post like my life is so perfect or great or only awesome things happen to me, because very not awesome things happen to me too. and i hope this blog isnt one of those kinds of blogs, because i dont think it is and i dont those kinds of blogs do anything good for the world. my husband is very not perfect, and i am even more very not perfect, and a lot of times i dont get what i want and i cry and i feel sadness and the bad things. but sometimes, after a lot of the big storms and waiting and unsurety and losing of faith and gaining of faith and jolts of reality in which you remember that details arent important and life is pretty much all details except for the big stuff like love and service and sharing your poprocks, sometimes after all of that crazy weather when you get a little shook up, the sun shines. and it feels even warmer, this moment, because it was so cold before. and you know it may get cold again, it WILL get cold again, but for now that is okay. because life is good, and because sometimes the universe is just right, and it is your moment in the sun.