Thursday, November 24, 2011

My first Chicago Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving is such a happy holiday. Everyone seems a little more generous, a little more forgiving. Christmas is around the corner. Lights twinkle around town. Food drives make you grateful for your blessings. Leaves still clutter the ground.

This year Harper and I made our own mini Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (stove top baby!), Martinelli's (which cost me $4.50 for one bottle, totally ridiculous), and double-layer pumpkin pie. When I got the turkey out Harper was very intrigued and jumped up on the table to help. She's always trying to help out her mamma.

Even though I'm over 2,000 miles away thanks to the wonders of technology I still got to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family via Skype. I ate my dinner while they ate theirs and we talked just like I was actually there.

Skype is one of the things I'm most grateful for this year. Spending $25 on a webcam for my family was money well spent. It makes being far away easier. The phone is great, but being able to see everyone at once and the dogs brawling in the background is comforting. Family feels tangible.

The list could go on and on but here are 10 things I'm grateful for this year:

1) Surviving my first quarter of grad school
2) My little muffin Harper
3) The amazing city of Chicago
4) Skype (such an amazing invention)
5) Pinterest (I could spend all day on there)
6) Five Guys (I could eat there everyday)
7) Diet Coke with lemon and lime (sooo good)
8) My awesome neighborhood and apartment
9) The fact that all of my girls are home from their missions!
10) Good books and compelling articles that inspire me to be a better writer

Saturday, November 19, 2011

O' Christmas Tree...

I think it's going to be a Charlie Brown Christmas this year. I really want to buy a real tree but it's just not practical with little Harper and the fact that I'm leaving for over a week to visit my family for Christmas. Plus, it's only $20 and you can't help but smile when you look at this sweet little tree. After does need some tender loving care.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November with Harper

Harper has been very good at keeping me company while I suffer through finals week. No matter what, she's always there to lend a helping hand. 

Every time I sit down to write she jumps on the table and flops on top of my keyboard. When I packed up all my summer clothes, she thought she'd help by jumping in the box and playing. 

She loves it when I swiffer the floor and makes sure to walk right through the piles of dirt and fluff. But no matter her antics, every night she jumps on my bed and snuggles with me all night. 

I may have to move all the way to the right, flat up against the bed frame, but this little muffin is worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ode to Cider...

Oh sweet caramel apple cider how you brighten my day.

I marvel at your ability to encase fall in a cup.

Life is better with you around.

Each year you come back to me without fail.

Your robust bouquet of flavor leaves me speechless.

I forget my every care as I sip you and watch people go by.

Hot chocolate may be my good friend, but you are my endless love.

Wednesday Wisdom...

"In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you.

To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not “interactive” with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it."

— Ursula K. Le Guin

artwork by Emma Kristina

Sunday, November 6, 2011

living a half-life...

I used to search incessantly for meaning in life. Work tirelessly to achieve, to be someone. Then, over the course of a year or so, my reality collapsed.

Now, I compartmentalize my life into two main parts: life up to my breakdown at 19 and my life thereafter. I’m not the girl I used to be and sometimes, I want to be. I wish I cared more, like I used to live.

My whole goal in life used to be to “live life to the fullest”. Now, I am afraid perhaps I don’t know how to live at all. I lived in fear but faced it. I found solace in blood, sweat, and tears. And yet, was I happy? My older self--after careful examination--says to my younger self, “no”. But, am I happy now? Do I even know what “happy” means?

I often feel I am meant to live a life half awake; half aware of the world outside me and halfway trapped inside my own brain. I experience emotional highs and lows, of that I am certain. But when it comes down to it, I wonder what I really feel at all. I am uninspired. Collapsible. Educated. Relenting rather than relentless. Flat. Aware of what I must do yet plagued by the possibility that I cannot do it.

I am a writer who does not write. A reader who struggles to read. An artist that looks rather than creates art. A member who does not pray or read her scriptures regularly.

I find solace in others’ words rather than finding my own. I search for inspiration rather than choosing to be inspired. Sometimes all of the words seem like crap. Nothing more. Vain dreams of the ignorant.

Even when I know I’ll be worse off if I do or not do something, I make the wrong choice anyway. I think sometimes it’s because I used to never give myself a choice at all.