Posts from the ‘From the Past’ Category

My little hunk o’ junk love

For today’s Thanks to Thanksgiving, I actually had to do the writing yesterday.

Normally, I wouldn’t do this (I want the daily thanks to truly be what I’m thinking of that day), but I KNOW what I’m going to be thankful for tomorrow (now today) because I’ll be in him!

Today, I am thankful for the Faulty Star General, my tank of a car (see yesterday for the explanation of his name).  Faulty is wonderful and keeps me safe and put up with me learning how to drive stick AND learning to drive in snow (I “let” other people do snow driving almost ALL the time when I was younger) without breaking down once.  If he hadn’t been so sturdy, I really worry what would have happened, as I was not the best of drivers last winter.  Also, he’s the kind of sturdy that, despite Fact #78, makes me feel comfortable driving in the main.

FSG is a fantastic first car.  He’s a 1998 Honda Civic LX, military blue (another reason he’s the General).  He takes me up to the temple twice a month so I can volunteer and now he’s how I’m getting out to Missouri.  I’m very grateful for transportation that meets my needs and, occasionally (if he feels like it), my wants.  I hope he gets used to the road to Missouri, because I have a feeling if this weekend goes well, he and I are going to get very familiar with it. 🙂

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Guest Post: What is there to fear?

[Sorry this one was late, people!  Yesterday got busy and I plum forgot.  Thanks to my amazing friend Tony for the post!]

Last week I was listening to Brad Paisley’s “If I Could Write a Letter to Me.” So, of course, I felt that urge to write a letter to my former self. It’s been almost nine years since I was seventeen, and I wished I could have told myself one amazing truth: Don’t fear failure.

We’ve grown up with the stigma that failure means we’ve done something wrong, that we couldn’t do it, and that we shouldn’t have tried in the first place. We believe Yoda set the boundaries when he said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” So we don’t try for fear of falling in the ‘do not’ side of life. But what some people have recognized is that in attempting to do something, whether it’s writing a New York Times bestseller, making a loaf of bread, or designing a new invention, there’s only one bad result: Stop trying. That’s the point where we draw a line and say “That’s as far as I can go” when it isn’t the case. And each time we reach that line again, we look at it and tell ourselves that’s our limit, we can’t go further, even if we could.

Who are the people who have recognized this truth? It’s usually the people who have succeeded in their field, people who have led full lives, and people who have the coolest stories to tell about something they did.

Conan O’Brien, in the commencement address to the Dartmouth class of 2009, reiterated that life’s going to be unexpected and our job is to gleam as much good as we can from whatever we’re doing. He mentioned the long list of jobs he’s tried before being given a chance to get into comedy (It was an impressive list). Then, after almost twenty minutes of jokes, he buckled down and gave five minutes I wish my young, stupid self could have heard: “Don’t be afraid of failure. It’s going to happen, but that means you learned something.”

The other great example of learning to love failure is Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. They run the show Mythbusters, and frequently use the adage “Failure is always an option.” With over twelve seasons under their belt, there have been some spectacular failures. If failure was that big an issue, and something worth avoiding so much, you’d think the show would have been off the air sooner. But instead, it’s become wildly popular.

If we could only do what we succeeded at, then we’d become a nation excellently proficient at eating and wasting time on Facebook. We couldn’t even play video games (gamers, you know what I’m talking about. Remember that one level that everyone spends at least two hours on before they manage to get past it?).

So, former self, try it. Pick up a violin, play a sport, play a game, learn to crochet, knit, cook, weld, build, write, and talk to someone new. Failure’s going to sting at first, but it’s only because you’re not used to it. You’ll get used to it, I promise. Once you’re familiar with what failure’s like, you’ll be able to learn so much more from it. All the cool things you’ve done are built on a strong foundation of screw-ups, attempts, and falling flat on your face. But it’s worth it. It’ll always be worth it.

Letter to me on the bad days:

Dear Joie,

Buck up.  No one else gets to say this, and that’s a good thing.  But you?  You get to say it because: 1) You don’t say it with that exasperated misnomer that depression is fake and 2) YOU have lived through the years of dealing – you’ve earned the right.  So buck up.  This day (or week) is going to feel like forever while you’re in it, but like a blip that it is two weeks later.  It WILL go faster in the now if you try to face The Depression with a smile.  You’ll be fine.

Oh, and ignoring your basic needs like food and creating and clean clothing?  BAD IDEA, STUPID.  Don’t do it.  Ignoring the world has never made it go away, why would you ever think that ignoring YOURSELF would be successful?  Go eat. Scrapbook (especially in your journal and therapy album, that’s what they’re there for!).  And for goodness sake, do a little laundry (even if you don’t really need to).  The smell of warm, clean clothing ALONE is going to make today so much better.  And tomorrow when you wake up and your freshly laundered clothing is neat and organized in your drawers.  Oh, and go re-organize your book shelves.  You KNOW nothing makes you happier than being surrounded by piles of books, so why not just tear it all down and do it all up again?  Tell me that won’t make you smile.

Write a letter to Bex.  She knows your brain inside and out, even across a freaking ocean.  And she loves you completely.  She’ll know just what to say.

Call Celeste.  Tell her that it’s a bad day.  She knows your brain inside and out, even a thousand miles away.  And she loves you completely.  She’ll know just what to say.

DON’T call Dal.  Ever.

DON’T drink.  You’ve never touched a drop of alcohol and it is NOT WORTH IT to ruin the record and get screaming drunk (because you so know that once you drink one, you’ll drink more) just in the name of making the feelings “go away.”  Which they won’t.  They’ll just exacerbate while you’re drunk if you’re lucky (which wouldn’t be that lucky after all, since that could easily lead to cutting) or be repressed for an evening and comeback worse than ever tomorrow if you’re not so lucky.  If you’re REALLY unlucky, well, let’s not think about it.

Speaking of not thinking about it: DON’T OBSESS.  I know, it’s like telling you not to breathe.  I get it.  But obsessing on today of all days is pretty much the worst thing you can do.  So try your hardest not to.  Please.

It SHOULD go without saying that you shouldn’t be cutting on these days, but I’ll repeat it for safety’s sake!  DON’T CUT.  You’re over four and a half years now, don’t ruin it!  Hold your elbows and curl up in a ball if you have to.

DON’T call Sal.  You and he are still very much trying to figure out if you can make being friends work.  He can’t be your go-to when you’re feeling super crazy anymore.  I know, that sucks.  Especially since he was the one that was there during your first time really awake and off the meds.  But that Sal and the one you’re trying to be friends with now are not the same person and neither are you.

DON’T scroll through your phone looking for people to call.  It just depresses you to know that most of your friends are 1) not available or 2) not close enough to be the one you can call on these days.  You only have a couple close friends, but they’re really good friends.  Be happy that you have them.

DON’T wish you could call Bex.  That just depresses you, too.  She’s there for you through the 1’s and 0’s.  In some ways, that’s better than calling.  In some ways, it’s worse.  Be happy you have it at all.  If you REALLY need to hear her voice, send her a voice mail via e-mail and she’ll reciprocate.

Go outside.  You don’t shut down when you’re depressed.  It’s just one of the big swings in which you have the capacity to feel!  Go experience it.  Feel the breeze, touch a flower petal, soak it in.

Cry.  Let yourself cry.  Don’t worry that you look a mess or that you get a ginormous headache.  Just cry.  And then get some Diet Coke to help the headache go away.

Turn on the air conditioning/heater and lay down on the carpet.  Run your fingers through the shag.  Feel.

Work on the books on tape for your nieces and nephews.  Do something for someone else.  Love them.  And get excited about it!  (But only after you’re done crying.  It will not do anyone any good to have a book read in a watery, sniffly voice (unless that’s a character trait – use what you’ve got in that case).)

Remember who loves you.  Remember that you have more nieces and nephews than you know what to do with some days.  They’re wonderful.  And sweet.  As are their parents.  Don’t discount how wonderful it is to have a big family–even if they are far away.

Watch Classic Disney and live Tweet your snarky comments about it.  Don’t watch a RomCom.  If you HAVE to deal with a real-people flick, watch a shoot ’em up.  It’ll make you feel better.  And the unrealistic gore will make you laugh and yell all at once.  Live Tweet your snarky comments about that one, too.  You have an unlimited supply of snark.  This is a good day to dip into that well.

Read a book.  Read Thurber or Juster or Kitto or Riordan or Mull or something ridiculous.

Write it all down. Pour it onto the page.

Joie, just be you.  Bad days usually result from being unhappy with you.  So, just be you.

Deal?

You’ll feel better, I promise.

Joie

P.S. Don’t forget that Joie means joy.  You mean joy.  Find it, hold it, and don’t forget that in a few days you won’t have to stretch so far for it.

FROM THE PAST: PASSED OUT, LIKELY SNORING

That’s right: I’m on my way home.  If this picture were at all the reality of how I was flying home, perhaps I wouldn’t feel so bad about it.  In fact, this might have been the moment I anticipated the whole trip!

But alas, alack, I do NOT get to fly home in a whale with propellers.  Sigh.

Then again, I should NOT be complaining.  Except for the piddly little hop from England to Sweden, I got to fly business class this entire trip.  For all I know, that’s about as cool as a whale with propellers.  And less stinky.

As I mentioned last post, it’s going to have been a whirlwind of a vacation.  A beautiful, crazy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime whirlwind.  Not only that, I’ve turned 24!  Since when did I get that old?  I fully expect that on the flight to Germany, I’ll be really wired.  That’s what the books are for (there was a family co-ordination of books just so we knew what was being brought so we could do a swap on the way home and have that much more room in our suitcases).  On the flight to the US, I plan on sleeping.  A lot.  I’m going directly back to work tomorrow and it’s going to be an insane day of jet lag and catching up with what’s happened in the two and a half weeks I’ve been absent.  So yes, lots of sleep and probably a good deal of snoring.  I don’t snore horribly loud, but it’s sure noticeable.  Sorry, whoever I sit by.

On Thursday, I’ll have at least five pictures that I hope will have captured my twenty days abroad.  My goal is closer to ten, but no guarantees that I’ll be organized enough to do more than randomly choose five pictures and plop them on the internet.  I’m so excited to share this great adventure with you all.  For now, though, I need SLEEP.

After all, I did turn old on this trip. ; )

__________________________________________

P.S. Happy July 4th to my American readers.  What a special day to be returning home.

FROM THE PAST: I HAVE A REQUEST

I didn’t plan on doing this entry, as it’s totally not on one of the days I usually post on this blog, but it’s my birthday.  I get to do what I want.

Besides, this has been brewing for several months and even though I thought I was okay with giving this plan up (as it depended on me being on Facebook), it seems that I am not.  Not only is the subject important to me, but my birthday is as well.  Naturally. ; )

As I have mentioned before, I am a planner.  I got this from my Grammy, who used to ask for birthday and Christmas lists at LEAST two to three months in advance.  The habit has stayed with me and, even though I no longer publish the lists quite as early as I used to, I often start thinking about what I want to do for my birthday/Christmas well before hand.  When I began to think of my birthday many months ago, I planned on posting on my Facebook page this message:

As much as I appreciate all your messages to me today, I would like something else for my birthday.  I don’t want a single post on my wall or hug or a flair or a present.  I want a phone call.  I want to hear your voice.  It doesn’t have to be a drawn out conversation or even more than a, “Hello, happy birthday!”  It may be small, but that’s the gift I want most.

Then, of course, I realized I’d be in Sweden at the time and not only would I be away from Facebook and unable to post, but if I WERE able to post that request, at $1.49 a minute over-seas, those would be some very expensive birthday gifts I would end up paying for.  Then I deactivated Facebook, which further sealed the fate of this birthday request.

So, here I am, just a bit less than a month before my birthday, and I’m writing out my request on my blog to be posted on the day of.  But this time, the post isn’t for me.  This post is for my friends.  And here’s my modified, for the better, birthday request:

As much as I miss you all while I’m overseas, I have something I’d like you to do for me back home on my birthday.  In honor of me, would you please call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while?  Just as I miss hearing your voice, I imagine they probably do, too.  Don’t just text them or IM them, actually talk to them.  Help them remember just why you’re friends, what they love so much about you.  It’s not just what you say, but how and when you say it.  Don’t get me wrong, texting and IMing is great.  Without those, I’d never hear from more than half of you.  But your voice is one of the most important sounds in my world.  For my birthday, please give that wonderful, important gift to someone who’s missed it for a while.  And then, if it’s not too greedy of me, when I get back, could I get it, too?

There you have it.  My birthday request: give the gift of you.  I’ll try to do the same.  Love to you all, and see or talk to you soon!

FROM THE PAST: TOO SOON

I can tell you with complete honesty that as I write this post I feel the same way I expect to feel when this is posted:  It is too soon for this to be happening.  The fact that the “this” that is coming too soon as I write is leaving  for the trip and the “this” coming too soon as this is posted is the nearing end of the trip is a minor detail.

It’s been a wild run getting ready for the trip: eighteen months of preparation and studying what I want to do, what might be done, talking to people, anticipating, and preparing.  I can only imagine that the last fifteen days have been a whirlwind without compare.  I’ve been in at least three different countries–possibly four–and the airspace of who knows how many others (I don’t know exactly where the flight paths of my two flights went).  I’ve crossed Sweden from Göteborg to Stockholm on the Göte Kanal and spent the past couple days wandering around Stolkholm’s museums.  In the next five days, I’ll do some more museum hopping, go to the Stockholm Temple, then go up to Uppsala to see a few places my father treasured when he lived there and some old friends.  There is simply not enough time to see everything I want to see.  Somewhere in there, I’ll have a birthday.

And then, I’ll go home.

As quick as this vacation is approaching, and as much as I have left to do at the time of writing (all that choosing and folding and packing!), I know that right now, I don’t want to go home.  I want to revel and hop back to England to see DearestBex again.  I don’t want pictures stored on my digital camera and memory card to be all I have left in so few days.

And yet, as much as I’ll miss it here, I cannot wait to share this adventure with those at home.  Since the beginning of May, I’ve had coupons for online picture-making websites bought and lined up so that when I come home I can send off the files and have a little book to tote around and show everyone.  I even have enough coupons bought that I’ll be able to make two books of my time in England and send one off to DearestBex.

The end is approaching too soon, just as the beginning is, but I still have so much adventure left.  Why dwell on what’s coming when I can have what’s already here?

FROM THE PAST: CULTURE SHOCK

Perhaps this should have been my first “From the Past” post, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to hit me for a bit that I’m, well, in a different country.  I can almost guarantee that England won’t be different enough for me to notice (not because of the language non-barrier, but because I’m an Anglophile–I honestly understand British humor and literature and attitudes five times better than anything American on average), and those first few days in Sweden I’m pretty sure I’ll be terrified of being sick more than noticing that I’m in a different culture.  Sad, huh?  Also, it takes me about a week to decompress from “work mode.”  Once I’ve decompressed from that, I’m pretty darn sure all the culture shock that has just flown straight over my fried brain will start making itself known.

I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  I guess I’ll find out.

I think the thing that’s going to throw me the most is the language.  This is not because I’m entirely unused to Swedish–I’ve heard bits and pieces around my entire life.  My father lived in Sweden for two years when he was young and became fluent.  He brought quite a few of the traditions home.  He instilled a deep love for the food and culture in me.  I’ve learned songs in Swedish, I’ve been read comics and faerie tales from Swedish copies, and am well-enough familiar that if I concentrate, I can pick out basic meanings of phrases.

BUT

I studied four years of German in high school.  Swedish is just similar enough to German that sometimes I get thrown completely off.  Thankfully, I’ve had six years to forget all my German (NEVER thought I’d say that), so hopefully I won’t be as thrown as I fear.  Then again, Swedish is just different enough that even when I feel like I’m doing well, I know I’m just barely catching the gist of the phrases.  When my father’s speaking.  When some stranger who I’ve not had a chance to become familiar with the cadences and tones of their voice speaks, I’m positive I’m gonna die.

As for the food, I’m pretty sure my stomach will react as it does with anything new: DIE DIE DIE DIE JOIE DIE!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh well, I’m willing to suffer for good Swedish cheese.

Wait, what? you say.  Not chocolate?  You may not know this, but I gave up chocolate for six months back in May (two days ago as of writing, over almost two months ago as of posting).  I am allowing myself to cheat on my birthday in five days (but I’m not counting) and in the meantime I am finding bars of European chocolate and stuffing them in the bottom of my suitcase.  At home, I will freeze them until November, when I can again eat chocolate.  Bad timing, I know, but it was the healthy thing to do and will hopefully keep me from gaining too much weight when abroad.  Unless I O.D. on that wonderful cheese.

Anything else, and I’m comfy with the shock.  I mean, ultimately, I’m looking forward to all of the culture shock (except what my college roommate and I call the “Angry Kitty Tummy,” or the DIE DIE DIE state of digestion).  Something new, something exciting, something I am totally and completely unprepared for no matter what I do.

That’ll be what makes the entire vacation worth it.