Wednesday, March 30, 2011


this post is pretty straightforward: i love doing the new york times crossword everyday in the daily universe. like, i really love it. too much maybe. it makes me happy. i learn things from it which i can then share with others as the situation presents itself. and present itself it usually does.

today, for instance, in my romantic studies class, my professor said something about the british word "twee," which means childish or pre-pubescent or something like that. i've heard that word before, most recently in the crossword just a couple days ago. so i could say, yeah, twee, you're so right, haha, because of the crossword. i think in some ways it's a cycle, because i am good at crosswords because i do know a lot of random stuff, but i also learn new random stuff because i do the crossword everyday.

my friends can attest to the fact that i have, on occasion, purchased crossword puzzle books, which i complete in spurts when i don't want to do other stuff. i have one that has hundreds of fresh puzzles awaiting me which has been calling my name the past few days. i made an awesome crossword puzzle shirt for halloween a couple years ago, with real clues and real answers. it was one of the coolest things i've ever done. we used to have crossword puzzle parties in sociolinguistics and my senior course, and i may or may not have taken a crossword puzzle book to commencement, though i will say that i never brought it out. really, i didn't.

my goal is to be able to do a whole week of puzzles, from monday to friday, completely--no squares left blank. i can usually get to thursday before i have too much trouble, but friday is dang hard. someday i will get there, though. it's on my list.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

mail appreciation :)

there is nothing like getting mail.

i don't know if i really ever appreciated it before i had a legitimate reason to actually check the mail every day. i mean, obviously i love getting packages from amazon or old navy and getting cards on my birthday, especially if they include a little monetary supplement. but, what about good old fashioned letters? letters are awesome. letters are the best.

all of the anticipation and disappointment of carrying the mail key with me and going out to the mailbox as soon as i get home from class only to open the door to bills and junk mail is worth it when i see that thick white envelope with my name on it. that sight alone might just elicit an Irish jig from me, with no regard for the neighbors who could be watching. the waiting kills me, but the payoff is enormous.

i'm also finding that letters can be more personal and more intimate than any other form of communication. there is something about seeing another person's handwriting and feeling the paper they wrote on and the indentations of the pen that you just can't replicate. also, letters can be multimodal/multimedia--text and pictures. (at least, the way my pen pal and i do it, you can.) and you can spend days writing a letter. sometimes with email i feel the pressure of the send button, forcing me to send off the message, maybe before i'm ready to. letters can take as long as you want.

this whole letter-writing thing is making me want to write to everyone, so if anyone wants an awesome letter or note from me, let me know. i'm in the mood for mail.

Monday, March 28, 2011

keep it simple, 'cause simple is good

a couple weeks ago carolyn was learning how to play this song on the guitar (be warned: the video is a little scandalous):
the song itself is really beautiful, but my favorite part is the line that says "we'll keep it simple, 'cause simple is good." i mean, i'm sure ry cuming is talking specifically about love, which i also agree with. there are enough crazy things going on with love that if you try to keep it as simple as possible it seems you'd be better off.

but it also struck me that i need to work more to keep it simpler in my life in general. i get so caught up in all the things that are happening in my life that i forget about what is really important in life. during one of our many late night conversations this week, carolyn and i got on this very topic: what is our goal for life? when it comes down to it, how much does it really matter how this one paper goes or how this lesson on the rhetorical situation goes or whether i go out or stay in on a saturday night? really, i want to do things in life that make me happy and make me feel good. of course, i'm not talking about bacchanalian/hedonistic pleasure seeking or something like that. but i want to fill my life with things that really matter to me, not things that i don't care about a whole lot.

this is not a roundabout way of announcing that i am quitting school. for the most part, i do enjoy school. there are certain things about it that make me really happy. but there are other things i need to be doing that would also bring joy into my life and a smile to my face, and those don't necessarily have to be really complicated, really obscure things.

i mean, the title of my blog is all about simplicity (obviously). so, i'm all for keeping it simple these days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

if you grew up in the 90s, then...

one of my favorite games to play is when you say "hey, remember [insert that thing that used to be huge when we were kids]? that was so awesome!" and then everybody is like, "yeah, that was awesome! and remember [other thing that we forgot all about but was also a vital part of our adolescence]? i loved that thing!" and so on, until you realize you've spent two hours reminiscing about all of this random--dare i say--crap that, although we have to deal with things like taxes and gas prices and getting into a ph.d. program and finding somebody to marry, really are still awesome. and, when it comes right down to it, most of us (i'm guessing) would go back to those days in a heartbeat.
i mean, remember gushers? or dunkaroos? (how could you resist this commercial? the girl with the braids means business) or lunchables (my favorite was the bologna one. or the pizza one. they got fancy when i was in sixth grade or so.)
remember chinese jump rope? and handball and tetherball and four square and the swings? and running the mile? (wait, that was never awesome.) and making clubs with your friends that only certain people could get into?
remember lisa frank? and tamagotchis? and pokemon? (i couldn't resist the video.) and pogs? and power rangers and ninja turtles and full house and saved by the bell and boy meets world and sabrina the teenaged witch and, for that matter, clarissa explains it all?
remember the baby sitters club and nancy drew and the boxcar children and sweet valley high and american girl?
remember sleepovers and three-way calling and secret best friend notebooks and braided bracelets and toilet papering? or chasing the boys around to try and kiss them?

life was so much simpler back then. so many little things brought me great joy, and i didn't have to worry about what i was doing with my life. sometimes i lose sight of my real goal, which is to be happy.

i'm worried that kids today aren't as carefree as they used to be, or at least that we can't afford to let them be carefree because of all of the different obstacles that they face. i'm worried that kids don't get enough of the simple pleasures in life (like going out in the backyard with a book determined to find a tree to sit in...and finding one that has weak branches.) i'm worried that they won't know how to appreciate things like that because they don't even know they exist.

i'm not sure what the solution is here. obviously i don't have kids of my own yet. but hopefully, when i do, i will be able to show them what is so awesome about being a kid--you don't have to worry about the same kinds of things grown-ups do. childhood is the only time you are actually expected to be a child, and i don't want my kids to miss out on that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

things i'm looking forward to

i don't really know what this summer has in store for me. i'm not taking any classes, i don't have a job (yet--i will eventually. i hope), i'm not teaching, and several of my friends are leaving town.
in more positive news, summer brings awesome weather, more social activity, and we'll live in a new apartment on the cool side of our complex...also closer to the boys. so hopefully that will be good.
but, meredith and i decided that, since we don't have a plethora of set plans for the long-awaited break, we need to try out a bunch of different hobbies to figure out what we like and then we can do that thing (things?) that we really like for the rest of the summer and have fun using our newfound skillz.
here is a sampling of ideas we have. we want to be busy.
  • cooking. trying out new, awesome, fairly easy, maybe semi-gourmet recipes.
  • headband/hairclip making.
  • writing poems. or novels. or essays. (this might be just me. meredith is often anti-writing.)
  • crossword puzzle construction. (also probably just me)
  • photography? 
  • sewing. this will require lessons from mom. and patience for all involved. sewing lessons have failed in the past.
  • knitting/crocheting. we'll see.
  • flower arranging. love this so much.
  • painting. i already have several canvases stocked up.
  • choreography. we need to hone our dancing skills.
  • learn the guitar.
  • i thought i had another but i think my pool of ideas is dry.
so, hopefully we will have things to do. i plan to have many awesome wares to peddle and skills to brag about and more marriageable marketable traits.

any other ideas?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

a weird week

this past week was crazy busy. usually this type of thing happens at the end of the semester. this go-round, however, had me feeling pre-finals-week-like anxiety in the middle of march. go figure. the bright side of this whole endeavor, which included several trips to the library (which never happens), about 20 pages of writing (not including all the notes i had to take just to be able to start writing), planning a relief society activity, meetings with three different professors, grading papers, and a bunch of other stuff not relating to school or work (read: goofing off because i can't take all day diligence sometimes)...i forgot what the point of that was in the recounting of all the events of the week.
oh yeah. the bright side is that, hopefully, the end of the semester won't be as crazy as usual. in fact, i'm planning on taking a trip to california, land of disney and the oft-dreamed about h&m and sunshine and miguel's jr., during reading days.nbd, as rebecca would say. let's just say i'm ready for a break from the pressure of grad school.
we did still have some good times this week, though. delicious dinner at la jolla groves, concert at sammy's, mustache man sighting, rainbow cupcakes, dinner group, paper composing parties peppered with jokes, poignant life questions, laughter, gun sounds, and youtube videos, and, of course, girl talk (aka talking about boys/love). the one weird thing about the summer will be not having these awesome friends close by anymore. sniff.

in other news, i received a pleasant and very unexpected surprise this week. a paper i wrote for one of my classes last semester won a prize (second prize, to be exact) in a contest to be published in our writing department's online journal about teaching writing at the university. so i get to go to a swanky banquet and accept the prize, which i think has some monetary value, always a plus. so that was exciting. my first thought: hey, this is another line i can add to my résumé!

because spring (sometimes) seems like it is right around the corner, here is one of my favorite flower pictures, featuring one of my favorite flowers, hydrangea. (and yeah, i know it's a little blurry. just deal with it.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

burned out

obviously, i'm in school, so i have to do school work.
reading countless books and articles, writing papers and other such things, participating in class, highlighting, underlining, hand raising, laughing at the professor's jokes (okay, sometimes that isn't really work), annotating, trying to think of something intelligent to say, trying to think of something intelligent to write, going to meetings, printing things, copying things, checking things out from the library, researching. etcetera.
it all gets a little tiring sometimes.

sometimes i think about what would happen if i just left school and went and...this is where it gets dicey. what would i do? try to find a job? travel around europe? go live with my parents? (no. i'm not going to be one of THOSE kids.) just read and read every day for the rest of my life?

so, i'm not going to quit school, but there are some days where i really wish i had nothing else to do but read, watch the office, write in my journal, laugh with friends, and eat good food.

confession: some days i end up doing this. i think i would go insane if i didn't.

the point is, even though it seems like it would be so much better if i could just abandon school, all i need is a little distraction every once in awhile and i can get through it. in the long run, i think i will be glad that i have done this master's program, though it has shown me how i DON'T want to live the rest of my life. 

and, there really are some bright spots in my life right now. 
one. i love my students a lot. they are pretty great. they tell me nice things like how i have the perfect name for a writing teacher and how i let them come to their own conclusions and they like that. and they are funny and text me on my birthday and tell me about their weekends and crazy blind date stories. and they write pretty darn well.
two. i have two new (well, kind of new) besties who are awesome and i love and with whom i am taking a trip to california over reading days. this week has been sadly lacking in hang out time, girls, but we will make up for it next week. 
three. this will perpetually be on my list: the office.
four. arcade fire, the avett brothers, a fine frenzy, and, always, always, always, hanson.
five. letters and emails from hilarious and inspiring boys. 
six. sister/sibling weekend. and stake conference, which means not only spiritual enlightenment (when i typed "enlightenment", it first came out "english" :)), but also a break in meetings and...possible sunday nap?

that's all i can think of right now, but pretty good list, right?
life is good, even when it is hard and i don't want to do the things i have to do. it's all worth it!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

we are products of our circumstances

i just finished this book:

it was actually really enlightening. gladwell talks about how every "talented" or "successful" person is that way because of some extraordinary opportunities that have presented themselves in his or her life. we often think that people like bill gates are so successful because they are super talented or smart, and that is usually a part of it--you can't get very far in your chosen field without some degree of innate talent or aptitude--but it's only a part. the rest of the road to success is paved with a series of seemingly unrelated lucky breaks.

this is really fascinating to me. i mean, the beatles were talented. but they might not have become the beatles and had the same sort of influence on music if they hadn't taken several gigs in hamburg where they had to play for eight hours straight every night. and, maybe part of the reason asians are so good at math is because their number words only take a quarter of a second to say instead of a third like they do in english. 
it is interesting to me that we try to give our own explanations for things that are usually way more simplified than they should be. in reality, we are always influenced by many, many things--cultural legacy, language, random events, history, education, genes. all of these things shape our destiny.

i wonder whether outlier-like things have happened to me in my life and i just haven't recognized that something that happened to me was totally random and actually made a huge impact. 

or maybe i'm just one of those people who just missed the golden opportunity. i kind of hope not.