Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

When I was younger, I used to save gifts of chocolate or fancy bubble bath or perfume samples for some special time that was bound to strike upon me eventually—I would set these little luxuries aside (but still in plain view) and wait for a day significant enough to enjoy them. Those “special” days never seemed to come, and usually what ended up happening was that I’d be cleaning my room and notice the layer of dust covering the box of chocolate roses or the old perfume sample from Nordstrom and I’d think, “Eh, why not?” So I would douse my arm with the perfume or pop the candy into my mouth, only to run upstairs to the kitchen for a drink to wash out the taste of dust and chalky chocolate from my mouth, or make a run to the bathroom to rinse off my arm because either the perfume had never smelled good, or it had gone awry in the three years or so since I’d acquired it.

Halloween was the worst—I’d get my pillowcase full of goods, eat maybe ten or twelve of the Fun Size Snickers or Milky Way bars, and then I’d shove the rest in my closet for later . . . often one or two years later, when I would just take the whole sack (still bulging) and tilt it upside down over my white garbage can, cringing as I watched all the red-wrappered Kit Kats and the round caramel-apple suckers shimmer among old school assignments and brown banana peels. (Side note: Here is where I might start talking about the moment I realized I’m a bit of a self-righteous masochist, but I’ll refrain. Another time, maybe.)

It was the chocolate-covered strawberries that did it, though. I was a sophomore in high school, and my boyfriend at the time had given me (among other things) chocolate-covered strawberries from Mrs. Cavanaugh’s for Easter. Any normal, present-minded person with no aversion to chocolates or strawberries would have made sure that those were the first gifts attended to. But I’ve never been too present-minded (or normal), so I admired the complimentary green and pink Easter basket that they came in and fluffed the yellow grass inside (does anyone really even LIKE that grass?) and even allowed myself a heady whiff of sweet calorie-laden goodness before promptly displaying the basket on my shelf, where I would leave this particularly delectable delight until a day in the near-future when it was more needed: a night of celebration, maybe, or even just a day of self pity and loathing. Lucky for me, I don’t get depressed too often, but unlucky for me, this meant no chocolate-covered strawberries. Long story short—I waited much too long (to save myself embarrassment, I won’t specify how long), and when I finally allowed my teeth to squish into the berries, they had gone rancidly white and purple and I was left spitting the gooey remains into the kitchen sink.

I made a vow that day that whenever I got something I was tempted to save for some “special day” that never seemed to come, I would eat it, slather it, spray it, use it within the first 24 hours, because the sight of those milk- and white-chocolate-drizzled strawberries lying in the garbage bin amongst the carrot peelings and fish scales was just too much for such a sensitive heart to handle. Plus, quite frankly, I have simply let way too many expensive presents go to waste. Moral of the story: if anyone reading this cares to get me fat in a small amount of time, just give me the amount of chocolate in the number of pounds you’d like me to gain and don’t offer to help me eat it. Works like a lucky scrunchie. Or something like that.

This odd set of memories came to me yesterday while I was starting to head home after a long day of nothing but classes and studying—I caught myself thinking more than usual about things in the near or far future and how I already longed to get away from the hours spent each day in the back southeast corner of the library reading Mark Twain (not that I don’t love Mark Twain, but I’d rather not read him for four hours straight on an empty stomach). And then I remembered the chocolate-covered strawberries, and it made me stop (both physically and mentally) and look around at where I was. I happened to be next to the University Inn, where the gardens were all bursting with petunias and where the ivy covering the entire wall of the orifice was waving in the wind. I stood there with my neck awkwardly craned up and noted that patches of the ivy were randomly shaking (not in sync with the breeze), and as I sat there wondering about it, a whole host of sparrows started flying out from the wall, kicking up the leaves in their hurry and squawking at each other as if playing a raucous game of tag (or a steal-your-nest-twigs variation of it anyway). I felt like an idiot standing there staring (and people actually walked politely far back behind me, so as not to disturb my intense wall-watching), but I also felt relieved. Like I’d had a “moment.” And for the first time in awhile, that seemed like enough.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Last Days

As I start gathering together my things and running the last errands before moving up to school, I feel almost overwhelmed at the thought that my summer is almost over. I've never been the type to say that the summer passed by too fast or that school came on too soon; I've always been of the mindset that summer could be a month shorter and I'd be just fine. But not this time. These last four months have been some of the happiest, funnest, craziest times of my life, and I'm so so sad to be saying goodbye. I'm trying to psych myself up to be excited for school (which I always have been before), but I wouldn't have minded a few more weeks of minimal-work and maximum-relaxing bliss. But life must go on, and so must I.

To end the summer on a high note, I spent my last full weekend of the season at Pine View and then later at West Bountiful Park for the Water Olympics (which I'd been planning on doing since we went camping in Moab back in June). I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day---the weather was gorgeous, with temperatures around a perfect 85 degrees, and I spent the morning and afternoon playing sand volleyball, skipping rocks, playing in the water, and going jet skiing with many of my closest friends.

Our old neighbor Steve Lindsay (who lived right next door to us in Logan the last three years) was the reason for the whole Pine View trip. He said that he had two jet skiis that he was taking up to Pine View and invited us to join him and some of his friends for a day on the water. One of the girls he brought with him was another one of our old neighbors (Sarah, the girl with the brace on her leg). Steve basically planned everything---he brought up food and treats as well as spare life jackets and fuel for both of the jet skiis. It was one of those perfect days that seem to happen every now and again when I'm least expecting it---I was completely content with where I was at, who I was with. and what I was doing, and I didn't wish for anything more than what I had. It was exquisite.

We started the day off playing some friendly volleyball, and when the sand got too hot, we all raced to see who could get to the water first (see pictures below).

He he---that's me in second place. I always knew I had a bit of a runner in me :)

Below is a picture of everyone that went. Both times I went out on the jet skiis I paired up with Dean, and we took turns driving. The first time we went out, we were pretty nice to each other, but I changed all that the second time we went out. I was determined to throw Dean off the back, so I would rev up the waverunner to its maximum speed and then slightly stand on the jet skiis (to better stabilize myself) and make an abrupt turn while trying to jump the jet ski in the air. It took a few tries, but I finally bucked him off. Of course, right after that, he somehow managed to get ME thrown off while he was still on the back of the jet ski. Don't ask how that happened---he just kept leaning as far as he could to one side until I lost my hold and fell off. After those initial two falls by us individually, every other time we got thrown off was together. I'm a little surprised that neither of us ended up with any elbows in our faces or knees in our backs, but all was good as we drove the jet skiis back in.

We got home from Pine View around four, but there was no time for the nap that my body desperately wanted, because I had to pick up the ingredients for homemade ice cream and fill up about 150 water balloons with Matt to get ready for the Water Olympics I was hosting at 6:30. We were supposed to get a much bigger turnout, but everyone must have been busy or forgotten, because there were only ten of us total throughout the evening. But it was all good, because we had plenty of fun pelting each other with water balloons (after playing water balloon volleyball) and attempting a 7-legged race (below).

We were doing really quite well at first, but then the guys started getting a little aggressive and wanted to go faster, so basically Fish and I started getting dragged along, as you can kinda see from this picture.

And what's a picture out in the park without Callin trying to jump over something? (What you can't tell from the picture is that this garbage can REEKED like throw up and horse manure and also had all the remains from our water balloon fight in it).

Here are the boys sharing a guy-bonding moment. Precious.

The final event was the saran-wrap race. I got the idea down in Orem at Upward Bound---basically you just saran wrap several people back to back as tight as you can and they have to race the other team to the other side without falling over. Since your hands and arms are saran-wrapped tightly to your body, a fall would be a dangerous thing indeed. Dean thought he would be sly and purposely put himself in the back so that if we fell, he would fall on us (rather than the other way around). Nice.

The other team just barely won at the end by perhaps a nose. An Olympics-close finish, if I do say so myself. And in addition to Callin jumping over things, a day outside would just not be the same without a good hands-up stands-up competition. We girls have learned just to sit them out now, since the boys could just stay up for hours if they wanted. Grrr...blast you people with ridiculous upper body strength and balance.

Below are the four teams, in the order of their rank.

Callin pulling a nice little seductive face there.

Liz for some reason thinks that they were number two, but they weren't. Or she's just promoting peace. Go peace.
Dean and I somehow pulled last, which is pretty shocking, considering that we were probably the two most competitive people there. Guess it serves us right.

I wanted to close this entry with a poem that just embodies this summer so completely for me (esp. the last stanza). I truly felt like this summer has been like living from joy to joy to joy, and I'm sorry to see it end. I'm so grateful to a Heavenly Father who blesses me every day with so many people who bring me pleasure and happiness. My friend Josh Taylor (who served in Samoa on his mission) was teaching Dean how to play "What a Wonderful World" on his ukelele at Pine View, and that seems to be the song in my heart today. What a great life this is!

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

-Li-Young Lee

A Goodbye, Of Sorts

I meant to post this Friday (when I wrote it), but never got around to it. So here it is:

I'm counting down the days until I move back up to Logan, not least because I think I've set some kind of world record for most Hostess and Little Debbie treats eaten in a 3-month span (take that Michael Phelps---I dare you to take me on in THAT). And although the excitement of carrying 6 boxes of books, 13 armloads of shirts on hangers, and a bookcase/filing cabinet/television up the three flights of stairs to my new apartment sounds about as fun as how I feel after eating said Hostess and Little Debbie treats, I still am eager to move on to life in the my four English classes, to my new place (goodbye L1: it was fun while it lasted, but I've moved onto something bigger, better, and more expensive), to my job with student athletic services working with huge football players (who seem to all be scared of me for some reason--must be the threat of me giving them 6 hours of study hall...or extra laps at 5 in the morning), and to a life that doesn't require me dealing with industrial tools, mowing lawns, cleaning houses, or hounding high schoolers about their homework.

Slight tangent: I don't mind moving as much as some people. Except moving out---I hate moving out. Because I hate cleaning walls with bleach. But as for moving IN somewhere...there's a certain bit of delicious excitement to it all: new roommates, new ward, new start on life as you know it...Besides, I've never been a huge fan of summer, so I'm never too sad to see it end. I much prefer cuddling up to a textbook in some dark corner of a library with no food and drink for hours to spending my evenings playing sand volleyball and my nights cruising around on The Dean's motorcycle. (Psych---I had you all fooled, didn't I? You believed all that because I'm such a nerd. Well, it's only partially true; I like fall more than summer, but I'd much rather be doing all the just mentioned than doing the just-mentioned-before-that. So take that, all you nonbelievers. I shun you :-P).

But back to my point. The summer ends for me in one week and two days, and with the ending of the season comes the end of the legacy of me working at the infamous Bountiful Tool (which actually isn't even Bountiful Tool anymore and which hasn't been for years, but since I hate the new name, I refuse to call it anything else). This epic tale starts five and a half years ago, when our brilliant, wise, and gloriously-charming heroine (yours truly, in case you didn't make the connection) took her first steps into a carpeted office building between what was then El Matador Mexican restaurant and The GemSmith and received the first taste of what so much of her life would consist of for the next several years---the curious humor of Calvin (or Calvy Walvy, as he later became known), which consisted of the same phrases repeated over and over again until someone finally threw a punch or a stapler, the good-natured but constant teasing of my boss about the various males who came in to save me from my boredom, the bullying from our repairmen Spence (who also teased me about the various males, and even labeled my filing tray "The Male-Box"), the petty arguments with Dave and/or Alan about my educational or social or literary anyone else noticing a pattern yet? Yes, being the only female for much of my work career here has had its perks (free chocolate weekly, first dibs on pizza, the choice of where to go for lunch...), but it has come at the price of me having to endure endless jokes about dating, marriage, and/or heartbreaking. Not to mention various sexist jokes thrown in every week or two. But in addition to the pounds I've gained here, I've also gained just about the most tolerant, toughest, most patient face when it comes to people being obnoxious that you can imagine---someone cuts me off on the freeway? That's nothing compared to having Calvin come up behind me and shake my chair as hard as he can or toilet paper my desk while I'm in the bathroom doing SuDoKu puzzles. Someone makes a wisecrack about how teachers get paid nothing and how I'll be worthless as an English major? Child's play compared to hours upon hours of debating whether Snape was evil or not (I KNEW I was right about that) or hours upon hours of discussion about why it's taking me so freaking long to get through school. Oh, and people in my old ward asking me if I have a "special someone" in the wings waiting to sweep me away to Canada (or some other exotic, romantic location)? An enjoyable alternative to having the pros and cons of my latest beau laid out daily for examination, or having our regulars constantly ask "Aren't you married yet?" (which is inevitably followed by someone or other giving the latest history of my dating life).

But let's not forget the good things: the Hostess treats, for one. The Dr. Pepper (which I've been going off of and then back on for all five years now). The free pizza once a week. (No, these do not all have to do with food. They are just what came to mind first). The extremely flexible schedule (I pretty much come in whenever I want and leave whenever I want. I can leave for 4 months and then come back and work full time again). The exposure to the once-mysterious and often-exciting world of concrete bits, circuit breakers, and hydraulic fittings. The gratifying art of scrapping the unsellables in the back (aka taking apart huge machines and getting all covered in grease and rust). And the list goes on.

"But what do you actually DO at this place you speak of?" I can hear you all think aloud in your heads. Well friends, I sell tools. I used to be our bookkeeper, our pricetag-remover, our "human relations coordinator," and our cleaning lady, but now I just sell tools. On eBay. Pretty much I just sit an on office all by myself for eight hours and listen to music and try not to pay too much attention to the conversations going on in my head. (Side note: I talk to people all day long in my head. I didn't think this was weird until about a week ago, when I mentioned it to some of my friends in idle conversation. They thought I was crazy. But it's not weird--pretty much I just talk to my friends and family and other random people in my head all day long--it helps me work out problems and saves me from having to talk to them all in person. Ha ha. Just kidding. Kinda).

Tonight, in honor of my time here ending, I have decided to make peace with Calvin and we are "playing a gig" (as I like to refer to it as) for the good people of the Bountiful 20th Ward. Actually, what really happened was that between my stepdad and my boss, I got suckered into doing this---my boss has always had this secret desire that Calvin and I will hook up, and so he asked Calvin to provide the entertainment for this high priests' party thing, and when Calvin refused, he said that I was going to be doing it too and that I was really excited to be performing with him (Calvin). So we both are performing tonight at 7:00 at the red brick church in Bountiful. You are free to come and bring tomatoes. But, unfortunately for my boss, I hereby say that no aparks have flown while rehearsing "The Water is Wide" or "Come Ye Children of the Lord," and so he will have to shelve his hopes and dreams for little Calvin/Torrie terrors running around the world. Thank goodness.
(Bruce looking WAY too excited about Calvin and me performing...)

Goodbye Bountiful Tool. Oh all right, I'll say it: Goodbye Monster Liquidators. Thank you for paying my way through school, and for fattening me up again one last time before I go back to being a starving student. It's been real.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poetry Sunday

I've gone to two weddings in the past two weeks--my friend Josh's (from high school) and my stepbrother Ryan's, and even though I always roll my eyes a bit whenever I have to go to a reception, I do like the feeling of weddings. There's such hope in them, and faith. And whenever I watch the newlyweds steal a kiss or a lingering gaze, or let myself get caught up in watching all the various children play around with each other at the receptions, I am reminded that it's moments like these that make life amazing.

I am so grateful for those moments; they are what carry me through the moments that are a little harder to endure. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by so many good things (and wonderful people) every day of my life--I truly feel I've been blessed beyond measure, which is why I'm going to share this particular poem today.

"i thank You God for most this amazing"
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes 

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
-e.e. cummings

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Moments of Idiocy and Heroism

My "I-can't-believe-I-just-did-that face"

I took rock climbing up early this year, after trying out bouldering at the Bountiful Rec Center and surprising myself by being decent at it. Lucky for me, all of my guy friends here are really into it, so that gives me access to free equipment and people who are more secure than I am in remembering all the intricate knots. Saturday night Liz and Taylor wanted to get a little group together for pizza and rock climbing, so even though I was unbelievably sore from a strength workout I'd done that morning, I agreed to go (for the company if nothing else). I told everyone I was too sore to do anything, but I should have known myself better---the second everyone started hiking up to secure the ropes and then repel down, I just had to get in on the action. After all, it's not like repelling takes any muscle, right? Matt threw me the last harness and I hurried and strapped myself in and caught up with the rest of the group going up. My legs started burning after about 3 steps (probably from the "Plie Squat" move I'd done 15 times that morning, or maybe the "Dead Leg Lift"), but I persevered until I reached the top, where the boys were busy hooking in the ropes.

Confession: going down is my least favorite part of rock climbing. Thus, I'm not a huge fan of repelling in the first place. Once I'm in the process of actually going down, it's usually not too bad, but that initial leaning back, where you feel your weight just drop into someone else's hands...Anyway, I hadn't been repelling since St George in March, so I had to be reminded of some of the basics. I started fussing and whimpering like a 3-year-old when it came time to lean back, so Matt hooked me into a safety harness too to make me feel better about life. After the initial drop, I awkwardly started making my way down, letting the rope slide in short bursts as I pushed myself off of the rock. About halfway down, Taylor (who had already reached the bottom) told me to make my way to the right so I could avoid the ledge (and therefore avoid free-repelling, which is a little bit more challenging). My rope seemed to have a mind of its own, and I veered off to the left (with Taylor laughing below and saying "Other right! Other right!"). Second confession: I've always liked free repelling better anyway, so I wasn't disappointed. Because I wasn't having to push against the wall anymore, I allowed myself to sit up a little on the rope. As I began lowering myself with more speed, all of a sudden, I had a sickening realization: I had made the biggest rookie mistake of all---I had forgotten to tie my hair back, and it was now configured into a figure-8 knot right along with my rope. While I called out for help, my brain not-so-gently reminded me of the very first thing they'd told us in Repelling 101 (aka Youth Conference at Camp Williams when I was 14)---girls, tie your hair back, or you might not have much left when you're done. I tried not to panic. I've never been as attached to my hair as most girls, but I hadn't planned on chopping it all off until December, so I kinda wanted to stick with my original I didn't think a pocketknife would create a cute look for me. Choppy was never my style.

As all this was running through my head (and some of it out of my mouth), Dean was swiftly making his way up the mountain to try and rescue me. Our original plan was to see if he could push me over to the side of the cliff so I could put my weight on a ledge and untangle my hair. Unfortunately, because I'd gone over that initial ledge, I wasn't quite close enough to grasp the side of the mountain too firmly. Dean grabbed my foot to twist me around so he could tell me Plan B (keep in mind, my head is pretty much glued at an awkward angle to the Caribbeaner just above my waist, so I couldn't exactly move my head to face anyone, thus making it necessary for Dean to do it for me). Plan B was that he was going to stand right below me on a ledge and try and lift me up so I could get some slack on my rope and get my hair out. Well, by this time, we'd put Matt as my belay because my arms had gotten too tired to hold up myself for much longer, which was nice for my muscles but bad for the rescue effort, as it didn't allow my rope to have any slack (because if Matt gave me any, I would just slip further down). After Plan B failed, Plan C commenced with Taylor repelling down and trying to pull me up while Dean pushed me up and I tried again to yank out my hair. Again, no success. I'd been suspened up in midair with my neck at a 45 degree angle for about 30 minutes by then, and I don't think I've ever felt like such an idiot in my whole life. Finally, we got the bright idea to harness me onto Taylor's rope and have him belay me up from the same ledge Dean was on, so we could get some slack in my rope and I could free myself. If that failed, we were probably going to have to chop it (we were tempted to chop it after Plan C failed, but we decided to give it another go). Taylor re-clipped himself to his rope below me and prepared to hoist me up while Dean pushed me up by my feet. On the count of 3, everyone pushed and pulled as I yanked, and victory came in the form of a chunk of my hair releasing itself safely into my hand. We all cheered, and I made sure to lean as far away from the rope as I could as I made my way down to the ground, where I hugged all my rescuers. Had all of my friends not been busy either trying directly to rescue me or acting as belays for my rescuers, we would have gotten a picture, because apparently it was pretty funny. But oh well. Maybe it's best that I don't have hard evidence of my idiocy.

After I got down, I swore I wouldn't go climbing now so I couldn't get myself in any more trouble, but after watching everyone else for about 45 minutes, I had to get in and try it for myself. And I'm glad I did. It was hard to feel like as much of a moron while I was throwing that mountain down with my killer rock climbing skills...or something like that. It was fun anyway.

The pictures are a little sketchy, because it was getting pretty dark, but I like 'em anyway.

A cute little butt shot of me leaping down like a frog after I'd conquered the climb.

Liz and Taylor in their matching cut-off hippie jeans.

Dean can barely touch his toes, but he somehow pulled off this.

Yay for belays (both above and below!)
(below) Me throwin' that thing down! Boo-yoy!

So, after all the drama, I've come to this conclusion: Thank goodness for my friends, who seem to always be there to save me in my moments of idiocy. It's good to know I'm surrounded by people who love me enough to not tease me (too much) about my lapses in judgment.
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