Monday, February 18, 2013

Fact or Fiction

I've been known to have a more than a few strange interests and make more than a few strange comments that people don't think are reflective of me. Here's a few of the recent things that are part of my reality.

Fact: I love Stanley Tucci. I rewatched "Easy A" and "Hunger Games" in the last couple months, and he is what makes those movies. He just came out with a cookbook.  Pretty sure that will sneak into an Amazon purchase sometime soon.

Fact: I have developed a fear of conversation that is seemingly uncharacteristic. I've always preferred small groups, but I've never had any problem making conversation with people I didn't know. Lately though, when it comes to socializing with people I don't know in church settings, I seem to lack the ability to make small talk. This just may be a sign that singles' wards slowly kill your zest for life (or something WAY less dramatic).

Fact: I hold onto things for much longer than is socially acceptable. I am an organized packrat. On the surface, everything looks clean and put together. On the inside I have back issues of magazines, letters galore, etc, etc. I'm slowly making an effort to get rid of things that really are completely unnecessary - aka ten years worth of random InStyle magazines. Don't judge. You all loved J-Lo at one point too. 

Fact: Seth and I made so much toffee over the holidays that we came up with an almost perfect recipe. Now I dream about having toffee stored in various drawers in my house and classroom. Unhealthy perhaps, but SO delicious.

Fact: While shopping with Jenessa and Ryan on the day after Christmas, my jeans ripped very loudly right up the back. Goes without saying that it was sorts of airy, and I am exceptionally grateful that Jenessa had a jacket I could tie around my waste, 90s mom style. 

Fact: I haven't enjoyed reading much for the last year. Normally I feel burnt out on reading during the spring when I have student papers everywhere and spring fever, but last year's reading burn out came early and never left. I've snuck in a few books still, but I just haven't been able to pick up book after book like I normally do. I think I'm in need of a good series that sucks me in one after the other to remind me that I am, in fact, a reader. Don't worry too much though - I still buy way too many books, a habit I've been trying to break for years. 

Fact: I love Taylor Swift's Red album. That doesn't seem noteworthy for some people, but for me, this is very, very strange.

Fact: As you know two of my closest friends from high school are named Hillary and Rachel. Two of my favorite people at work are named Hilary and Rachel - if there was just one of the two names, I don't know that I would have noticed, but both of them?! I love it.

Fact: I knew the big dramatic twist of Downton's third season way before it happened. Someone mentioned a fact about one of the actors in passing, and I knew instantly how that would affect the character. Even with all the drama, I still am so in love with that show. 

There you have it - inconsequential, random facts that are not fiction at all. 

Ode to Steinbeck

This past weekend Seth and I ventured to Carmel to eat at his cousin's restaurant with a couple of his college roommates. Before we ate, Seth was nice enough to brave Monterey traffic so I could explore Cannery Row. I had not been to Monterey since 1997 - aka before I discovered John Steinbeck and all his literary genius. I wanted to see one of the places that inspired Steinbeck's writing. As one of California's native sons, I feel like Steinbeck defines California heritage in a way no other writer has done, and so Seth and I wandered a few streets, watched the waves crash against the rocks, and then decided we were starving, so it was time for Carmel (more on that later). Steinbeck is everything that a writer should be, and so Cannery Row and the central coast of California is exactly as I had pictured it from his carefully crafted sentences.
 A couple pieces of Steinbeck's writing have been on my mind lately. One is a simple line from The Winter of Our Discontent when he says, "I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen." The other comes from Steinbeck's most epic work, East of Eden, when he says, "In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world."  How amazing is that?!  That same chapter goes on to say, "We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is." I love that so, so much.  I just can't help myself.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Called to Serve

I knew when President Monson made the announcement that mission ages were lowering that Jenessa would go on a mission. I almost had an insta-cry moment even though I knew the departure date was months or even years away. Jenessa who repeatedly denied that a mission was a guarantee said simply that she would pray about a mission while on her study abroad in Jerusalem (like going to the Holy Land and walking where Jesus walked would make someone less inclined to serve the Lord :) ). Jewels told her in no uncertain terms not to pray while she was there (Jewels was only half kidding).  And now it's official, Jenessa is working on her papers, getting blood work done at Palestinian hospitals, and preparing to be Sister Hutchins somewhere in this crazy world.
(Jenessa at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem)
 I would be lying if I said I wasn't dreading Jenessa's announcement, despite the fact that I know Jenessa makes no decisions lightly...and if she decided to go, it would be the best decision for her. And I may or may not have been in a slightly cranky mood for the last two weeks because of the email that came with the official declaration that a mission was in the immediate future. That said, this morning, I saw on my Facebook newsfeed a video from the Deseret News. I have no idea how that was in my newsfeed. I don't follow the Deseret News. I honestly don't even like it as a real news source, but watching this video of Olympus High School graduates from the class of 2012 opening their mission calls was the first time I grasped the possibility of Jenessa's decision. I still will need therapy when Jenessa leaves, and Jewels may need to move to California as a sanity saver for us both, but this sister is finally genuinely excited for the youngest member of the J-team to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Stay tuned for the official call - fingers crossed that it comes soon.