What is Drastic + Dramatic

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Mayday

Disclaimers: This post isn't uplifting. It's important. Also, my husband is zero percent abusive, don't concern yourself about me. But maybe you or someone you know is wilting from unspoken weight and terror. Be alert, be brave, be respectful and caring when you reach out.
Being in a poetic relationship with words, sometimes an idea hits you, drags you from your slumber, tosses and pushes you until you finally break down.

And say something.

Write something.

Even when you know it's not going to be politically comfortable. When you'll be bruised as insensitive, appalling, offensive. You open yourself to criticism and attacks from worldwide strangers because you dared to say something even when you don't know everything. From the depths of denial, victims will lash out, shaking their chains with fury. Survivors will whip you because have no right, no idea.

But when the idea, as disturbing and haunting and vagabond as it may be, raises its clammy hands and strangles the brain until surrender, the poet must speak.

Publishing controversial thoughts always draws from the shadows of anonymity those who find the argument. Those who wield wounds for wounding, hurt for hate.

Keeping it in, that hurts too. Silence invites more hurt. Not saying anything is exactly how fear and control want us to curl up and lie.

You won't like the Valentine poems that found me, that I exhume here. They may make you uncomfortable. You might have plenty to say or hurl when you're done letting me pluck at your eyes.

But if even one lover recognizes the need for help, call for rescue, time for escape, rise of courage, then sweet is the victory of words. The criticism will melt like truffles in my mouth.

I don't know why these thoughts suddenly came pouring into my mind and kept me awake from 5 this morning. I'm not experiencing abuse. I'm not crumbling in silence. But poems are always floating, waiting to intersect the open mind and heart through which they can find their voice. A poet is always trying to reach unknown depths through empathy to be a receptor of inspiration.

Each thought, like a faded soul finally finding a body again, formed a word and crawled along my brain, clawing to be heard. Not just by me. Through me, by anyone with faded soul seeking a voice through these resurrected words.

The words wailed into the universe and linked elbows with the fates, leading me—by no coincidence, I'm convinced—into this experience later in the morning:

Waiting for the train to work, I open my phone and start releasing the tortured words onto the screen. Train pulls up to platform. I find an open bench in the front car and sit down.

I look across from me to find a woman with a freshly red, swelling ridge curving from the end of her eyebrow to under her cheekbone. She also has long blonde hair, thin-framed glasses, pink sweatpants, a white sweater, a large bag next to her, but that stinging mark reveals an invisible feature of her soul: hurt. I look back to my phone as it catches fire under my fingers.

A couple stops into the ride enters a plump man in a dark hooded jacket and beanie covering his head; visible neck, arms, and hands tattooed; three spiked rings on the three major fingers of his right hand; earphone cord spilling from his right ear. He sits across the aisle, facing the same way I am.

Another stop in, he speaks up. "I hope you have a better day." His words are reaching across from me, for her attention. "I hope you have a good day. Did someone do that to you?"

I'm feeling heat rise in me, a little uncomfortable but grateful. I can only assume she nods because she doesn't speak, because I don't look up, and he continues. "Have you reported it? You should. Try to."

I look up and she looks ashamed, embarrassed. The words howl up from my phone. Do you see? We are everywhere! You must write us into extinction.

I try to paint my face with encouragement, support, love for her.

It's her stop now.

"Don't be afraid," he pressed. She nods hurriedly, leaves hurriedly.

I look at him now. "If I saw a man doing that to a woman, I would f*ing murder him."

I shake my head to acknowledge his passion, but I look away, out the window where I see her walking away slightly tilted, maybe from the weight of her large bag.

Before I get off I say to him, "I hope she is brave. Thank you for saying something."

He raises a painted, spiked fist. "Seriously, I would f*ing murder the guy. You have a good day."

I dissolve when you whisper in my ear
“No one else would ever love you”

My heart beats wildly when you get home
and I see that you're drunk again

You're funny, Valentine,
when you get others to laugh at my expense

When I'm talking to you, I sigh to see the glow on your face
from your phone screen

My cheeks turn rosy red
when your palm whips across my face

Nothing gets the fiery passion hotter
than when you touch my child

You take my breath away
when your hands reach for my throat

My body trembles
when you force yourself on me

When I stumble, you catch me
each time—and never let me forget I'll never be good enough

I've never felt more alive than with you
Gone for the day, and I can breathe again

The woman in pink sweatpants deserves real love, a gentle and supportive hand. The feisty, spike-fisted man deserves to be loved. Do you believe you can be truly loved without exceptions, concessions, neglect, abuse?

We all deserve love and respect, recognition of our value and uniqueness. And when we are wrapped in such love, chances of us hurting others diminish. You are worthy of true love, of which my poetry is devoid. The hardness of abuse and neglect is never an expression of love; it is a flash of uncontrolled agony from someone also in desperate need of real love.

But friend, brother, sister . . . if you recognize abuse in your life, your abuser needs even more love than yours alone. They need help. That help needs to come from professionals, people who can also offer you help and protection if needed.

Be brave. Use wisdom and love. Be supportive where you can. But be safe, be healed, love as you would be loved and unbroken love will find you. Time may not heal all wounds, but what time cannot heal, love can, it really can. Especially knowing and embracing the unconditional love your Heavenly Father has for you can heal your hurt.

Reach out to someone you trust if you need to talk. Try The Hotline below. Contact me. I'll virtually hold your hand. With a gentle hand up, you can rise above and find solutions.

Be what you deserve to be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Opinion on Compassion

I have been accused of holding an opinion I have not earned. It definitely makes me wonder how opinions are legitimately earned. My friend Nathan forwarded me an anonymous message from a parent who read my words online and said I have absolutely no right to an opinion about ADD/ADHD because of what I ignorantly wrote. She says since I have no idea what it's like to have or to parent such conditions, I have no right to any opinion. She mentioned how it's ignorant people like me who make it literally terrifying for her to take her child anywhere.

Certainly the people who formed the opinion about me haven't spent time with me, but reading the brief words I put on the Internet felt like a sufficient enough source to form an (incorrect) opinion about me. If the Internet does anything best, it is breeding swift opinions. The comment I shared about parenting cultures and dietary improvements wasn't even a full opinion about a much larger matter, but it got misapplied as my clearly ignorant entire opinion about those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and the parents that care for the young diagnosed.

My accusers demand that I need compassion. I'm feeling in myself an opinion that opinions may be prerequisite to compassion. Tender and open opinions.
I have never been a parent to a child with special needs, but I have years of experience loving precious children, many of whom have special needs (and special powers, I am of the opinion). I have also never been a parent at all, but I have opinions about children and parenting that are valid since I've been a human aware of other humans for 31 consecutive years. Does that earn no opinions? Living while caring about others? If one has to have lived a thing before they can have an appropriate opinion about it, then we have, all of us, earned very few opinions indeed. 

Open opinions engender compassion; compassion perfects our opinions.

Being the tender-hearted human I am, I feel like my entire being is nothing if it isn't made from compassion. I am who I am almost entirely because of other people—my parents and siblings and darling husband, the people who hurt me and who have been hurt by me, the people I've loved and lost.

I'm not sure what compassion is if it's not being aware of others, recognizing suffering, and then extending in the least my heart toward them (if not my physical support when possible) simply because I know I don't know what it's like to carry the burden they carry. Perhaps compassion requires gaps in personal knowledge. If we all had experienced everything, I'm not sure if we'd be more or less compassionate.

But God knows everything. If we can't be everywhere we want to be to share our love, I know that He can carry our compassion to others and in the form of love bestow it across the world. Compassion is my favorite truth. I can't lift the fallen bricks and stones in Nepal, but my compassion, I have to believe it, has reached their hearts and lifted at least a moment of hope in a world apart.
Well, I can abide people jumping to conclusions and forming incorrect and incomplete opinions about me, and I almost just let this all slide. But what I can't abide is this incorrect opinion causing another parent to believe there's yet another person out there adding burdens and strains to the already consuming role of parenting a child with special needs. I also can't bear for those adults who have this condition to think I don't respect the measures they've taken to find inner peace and control that might have seemed helplessly out of reach.

And into the thankless silence that often surrounds parenting, I shout a resounding THANK YOU. Thank you for paying attention to your children, for attending to their needs, not because you feel like their condition is stressful on you, but because you see how they're suffering, struggling, and that crushes you most of all. Thank you for being a safe place for your child to be authentic and to recognize that if they do have a need for extra help, it's okay to accept help. Parents like you are the sunshine and rain in life. You help children grow.

And I believe that it's parents like you that are the majority of humans in parent positions. My Internet comments, to clarify, were aimed toward parents not like that. There are some parents who don't take into account meeting deep, nascent needs of rapidly developing human beings with loving, steady discipline and proper, healthful nutrition, and who then, if their child repeatedly acts out, turn not first to their methods to see if perhaps anything could improve, but rather turn to a medical professional for a fix. Parenting is absolutely challenging, and beating ourselves down when we know we're doing our best helps no one. But there are some legitimately poor ways to parent, just like there are poor words to choose to represent your full opinions. Poor patterns of parenting should change before medication changes a child's chemistry when not needed, can't we agree on that? And that's what I meant. Changing a light bulb that keeps burning out won't repair faulty wiring.
My comments clearly didn't apply to that good mother who says I'm an opinion impostor. She's NOT the type I was thinking about. But she interpreted it personally, which is too bad.

If she really knew me, she would know that when I find out that someone I know has diagnosed ADD/ADHD, I don't silently reel back inside and exhale, "Whew, thank goodness I don't have that and that really sucks for her." I think, "Wow, I never would have guessed. She sure balances her challenges well. I respect the hell out of her." She would know that when I see a rowdy child, I don't immediately wonder, "Jeez, what's wrong with that child and his parents for letting him get so wild?" I will be the first to smile and wonder, "What's going on in that magnificent explosive mind of his? I'm so glad his parents let him chase his imagination where it grows wild within him." She would know I would be the first to offer to play some silly, endless game with her child because I recognize that it's precisely what his brain and soul are connecting with in that moment and he should get to see it through. She would know I am a trustworthy option if she had to attend to something where she absolutely needed to leave her child in someone else's care.

She would know that for five years I was a school bus aide and driver who loved, LOVED (if I there was an I'm-feeling-a-choking-sensation-in-my-throat emoticon, I would insert it here) children just like hers deeply, daily. She would know that I authoritatively gained a monstrous opinion of respect for her and dug deeply into compassion because I witnessed those parents and grandparents and dedicated guardians prepare their children for school, stand with them at the bus stop every day, help them onto the bus (and sometimes with tough love rather force them onto the bus), and then they would stand, nearly crumpling from worry and trembling, I suspected, because sending their child away on the bus that morning felt as terrifying as it had felt letting them go the first morning—every single morning. And yet surrounding that worry and trembling, I observed, seemed to be a thin glaze of relief. A few hours of time to get a few of her million things done until she would walk to the curb again to receive her babe joyfully back into her arms.

She would know I've sensed the awesome power and intelligence and purest love locked behind a variety of physical impairments. She would feel my compassion for what I don't know that she goes through daily, because I observed her child and formed an opinion: that he is wondrous, perfect, brilliant, challenging, developing, filling the mysterious universe within himself. And I love that child. I know in part, I love that child because, through compassion, I sense how much his mother loves him.

She would have so much more than an opinion about me if she knew more than those words that introduced us.

As inherently flawed people, we have flawed opinions. I appreciate when people present their opinions about my opinions; it gives me a chance to consider my opinion, whether it needs development and discipline and a change in its nourishing. I'm of the disposition that if I'm wrong, I'd much rather not be, and so I listen to others. I prove what they say against what I know about myself and what I perceive to be truth. I want to be like a child, always discovering this big world, never shutting out its wonders and realities.

And children are the most compassionate people I know. Not because they know much, but because they love much. And God bless the parents everywhere who love much. I love you for your dedicated diligence. It counts, every imperfect moment, every joyful moment. Keep living the moments. You're superheros, in my opinion.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Positive Pioneer Post

This evening I missed the southbound train by one minute. It really pissed me off at first. For the first 30 minutes I grumbled inwardly and mourned all the things I wouldn’t get to do because of the wasted hour. Then I allowed a touch of humility to reach within and I gave up the struggle to be mad.

See, here in Utah it’s Pioneer Day. A day for a little humility. A day we celebrate our state’s “founding fathers” as it were. Those trusty Mormon pioneers gave this sorry desert a chance and made it something incredibly beautiful. A day like today reminds you how far this land has advanced and how swiftly now our world can chase its visions and dreams.
A day like today we eat a lot of food. Waiting for the train, I thought perhaps I could go walk somewhere not too far from the station to get some dinner, but there’s really no point as I wasn’t hungry. My work provided some delicious R&R BBQ catering for lunch. That thought made me remember a train of thought I had at lunch as I conquered the heap of food on my paper plate:
This chicken isn’t my favorite. / So what . . . you’re going to throw it away? / Of course not, I won’t waste anything. / Good. / It’s just not my favorite. / You know, some people are so starving they would consider that chicken wing a delicacy straight from heaven. / Yeah, I know. / Some pioneers starved to death and then surviving pioneers ate the dead pioneers so they wouldn’t starve to death too. / I’m eating here. / Some people alive right now would gladly, nay, desperately eat the skin, fat, AND bones you’re throwing away. / I know, okay! I’m a spoiled first-world woman who had so much to eat she won’t even be hungry for dinner. / Well I didn’t say that, but you should be more grateful.
And I am grateful. But it’s good to really get a minute to sit and sit and sit to reflect about just how many things you have to be grateful for.

So in honor of the 24th of July, here’s a list of 24 things I am grateful I got to do just today, 24 things in only 24 hours not every pioneer got to enjoy in...almost ever.

1. I woke up
2. in a bed in an apartment in a safe neighborhood in good health.
3. I got a hot shower and the drain is no longer clogged so I don’t have to wade in sudsy shower-body juice as I wash.
4. I dressed in clean clothes. And didn’t have to wear a hundred pounds of quilted skirt. Plus I wore some really cute earrings that are probably fancy pirate ship steering wheels but alternatively work as fancy wagon wheels.
5. I ate breakfast.
6. I put on sunglasses to protect my eyes from sunrays.
7. I drove a functioning, comfortable car to an efficient, comfortable train, then switched to a Trax ride direct to downtown, and walked a short jaunt along a cheerful manmade creek meandering through an air-conditioned mall to my work building.
8. I took an elevator 13 floors up. (I know . . . I didn’t take the stairs today since I was running a bit behind. For shame.)
9. I enjoyed a busy day of work at my full-time job in a comfortable chair surrounded by climate-controlled air.
10. I helped myself to a free buffet of barbecue goodness, followed by some delicious pioneer-theme desserts. Peach cobbler. I’m forever grateful for peach cobbler.
11. I communicated instantaneously with distant friends through a handheld slab of incredible technology.
12. I found out a new human I get to call cousin has joined Earth today! Welcome, Juliann. There’s a lot of good things going on, doll; grow your hair long, your feet steady, your soul wide, your heart deep.
13. I drank stays-cold-for-hours water from my insulated water bottle whenever I wanted.
14. I listened to music I enjoy and skipped the songs I didn’t feel like listening to.
15. I sent documents to a printing device that spits out paper materials that exactly match digital materials I produce in an astonishing desktop somehow connected to all the knowable things on the planet.
16. I got to productively earn my daily bread.
17. I played a little Sudoku on my phone.
18. I wrote a blog post on a lap top computer.
19. Writing words letter by letter in a word processor that lets me erase my errors and change my document at will, effortlessly.
20. The train came before my lap top computer battery died and I got to plug in to onboard electricity and keep writing.
21. That one girl stopped me from leaving my wallet behind at the train station platform. (Oh, the special hell that would’ve been. I’m so grateful for so many things that don’t happen in a day.)
22. I sit comfortably as I chug-a-chug smoothly across miles of land at high speeds, beautiful Wasatch mountains by my side the whole way.
23. I didn’t have to eat a family member, friend, pet, or anything usually considered inedible to make it through the day.
24. I took a picture of the sunset.
Well, I’m officially degrumpified. What an amazing world we live in. It seems unlikely that the pioneers could have pictured just how far they would take humanity with every step they walked and walked and walked those many years ago. But a deserved and reverenced thanks to you, faithful pioneers. When the next generation looks back on the trail my generation trod, may they marvel at our steps and find in ours a same hope and inspiration prepared through yours.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Flipping Dating Game

When the thought of marriage intrudes my mind, I usually shrug the idea off with, “eh, that only happens to other people.” So far, in my case, such has been the case. But sometimes a brief blast of clarity makes me stop and ponder what marriage must really be like. 

Sometimes when I pay a bill or wash the dishes or floss my teeth or pick out an outfit for the day or look at my pillow, it hits me what it might be like to have another person always in the mix. How much one person’s presence can change everything!

Sometimes it’s when I see couples riding silently in a car, no smiles, no apparent interaction. I get really curious about what their separate thoughts might be and if they’re truly happy together.

This morning it hit me when I caught my naked reflection in my full body mirror and stopped to consider it for a second. I thought, “Man. That’s the sight he’d be free to see any time. Miles of limbs covered in fair, sun-shunned skin."

It’s in these moments I realize that marriage would change everything in my life and yet so little would change about me. If I married tomorrow I’d have all the same bills, the same dishes to wash, teeth to floss, clothes to wear—but a pillow to share.

photo credit.
Sometimes I look at people who are married and I wonder. I sit in awe that anyone finds anyone else available and willing to pair up with another for life. 

It’s not just beautiful women who marry; I’ve seen rather “unattractive” people enter matrimony.

It’s not just talented artists or great cooks that marry; I’ve heard from the lips of many a married woman that she believes herself void of talent, unless it’s wielding a can opener. 

It’s not just the long-legged or thin-waisted or dainty-handed that get to wed; every sort of shape has found herself left-finger ringed.

If those qualifications were all it took, I’d so be hitched.

(And shoot, it’s not even the married who enjoy marriage, since half end up divorced.)

I haven’t given up yet for my own chance to enter the statistics, but so far marriage only happens to other people. But what all those people have in common is that they found out how to complematch another human and make a lasting partnership.

Complematch is a word I just made up. Let me demonstrate its definition.

Remember Memory, that Milton Bradley matching game we played as kids? Oh, it was one of my faves. It came in every variety of versions, including my preferred “Fronts and Backs” edition. I don’t boast any terrific memory, but I’m incredibly visually observant, so I owned this game.

Why I like using this version of the game as example rather than the original is because Fronts and Backs required matching on a deeper, more interpretive level. There weren’t two of the same; there were two corresponding halves that together completed the whole match.

Easy enough to see where this is going, right? Dating is a matching game. We flip over a lot of opportunities, but ultimately we’re going to find one match that really complements the half of life we’re able to bring to marriage.

Errrk. Stop. Nope, I don’t believe in “the one.” So let’s dive deeper.

magic school bus sub.jpg
Dating is a matching game with no true matches and no exact “one, true other-half” matches. The real life dating game offers a lot more options and interpretation when searching for a complematch (yep, it’s a noun too).

Let’s say the card I flip over shows a strawberry. Okay, I’m a strawberry. I embrace my strawberriness. I go great with tons of things! In all the flipping dating I then proceed to do (dang, flipping dating), I can find a lot of relationships that will utilize what I have to offer and complement me well. I could flip over the “cream” card or the “jam and peanut butter sandwich” card or the “short cake” card or the “pie” card or the “Pop-Tarts” card and all of these would offer me a fine complematch in the end.

In fact, I have already dated the pb sandwich, the cream (it soured after a while), a few Pop Tarts, and I kissed a short cake once. They all taught me valuable things, we had some great times mixing flavors, but I’m still looking for my pie.

em strawberry pie.jpg
I’ve seen complematchary (adjective. boom.) couples in some unexpected pairings, but they’ve interpreted each other so well that I can’t help but stick up my thumbs at a fine match made. With other couples it just seems obvious. Duh—if you’re fries, flip a burger.

Then other couples just did it wrong. First card they flipped they took their chips and cashed in. Or they didn’t even pay attention to the card in their own hands to begin with and just got flip-happy until they found whatever prettiest card they could keep and made the match. That’s a no-no. Can’t play the game until you know the card you were dealt.

But, if you know pretty much what you’re bringing to the table but you aren’t quite sure how to interpret a good complematch for yourself, you just have to just start flipping and find out. Don’t slobber all over the cards or no one will want to play with you. Don’t flip more than one card at a time. Don’t overturn the table in impulsive frustration when it takes a lot of time and effort.

As I’ve played this flipping dating matching game, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I understand and interpret as complematchary for me. I’ve been dating for 14 flipping years and there’s something very valuable that I’ve learned. When a relationship ends and you have convinced yourself that you’ll never find a match that will complete you in quite the same way that peanut butter sandwiched your strawberry spread, life has a way of convincing you of just how wrong you are—if you let it. There’s always crunchy peanut butter, raw ground peanuts, Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan, Reese’s—and don’t forget those surprising generic brands that often become the favorite. And finally, there is always ice cream after peanut butter, my friends.

Sometimes it'll even come with a cone. Bonus!
(That is not to say don’t stick with a good complematch in case there’s the possibility of a better match out there. The game ends eventually, don’t go out without a match.)

Because of this realization, I can look at others’ relationships and not experience jealousy. They made a complematch by being who they are, in the place where they were, and at a time when they were ready. I am not that girl which is why I am not married to that guy. Such logic is handy for quelling frivolous feelings.

I also don’t get offended or depressed when a guy ultimately flips me back over and goes for a better match. One thing I know for sure that I want in my complematch is someone who’s interested in being with me. (I know it’s a lot to ask. I’m getting so picky as the years advance.) We’ve all been on both sides of that coin toss; be patient and open for the next opportunity.

So, to all my single-card-carrying homies out there I say, the day of our complematchation will come. There may be moments when you’ll want to flip out, flip the bird, or just flip over and go back to bed—but hang in there and go at your own honest pace. Just keep flipping.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

All These Poems about Stars

I’m wordsick of the poet's pen
collecting constellations.
The nightsky isn’t ink, a cloth, or swatch
of every dark degree.

Stars aren’t glitterbits spilling,
eyes winking or pinhole pierces.
Not loveletter ciphers from heaven's quill.
Our eyes squint obsessively to interpret 
endless pages of punctuation.

Stars are sidereal bodies
a stoneage throw away, reporting lightyears
of birthing, flexing, gloating, exploding,
launching theirmeggedons on distant planets
ripe with impious aliens.

We spend fortunes to bend 
lenses that maximize their mystery,
but they repay us no mind.
They don’t watch or wish when we fall.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

From Degree to Career: A UVU Success Story

I started my UVU education with a decided Creative Writing interest and over the years, thanks to the excellent English Department staff, I developed a great passion for language in all its applications. In addition to my creative courses I received a Technical Certification which ultimately made all the difference in my career path. I graduated April 2013, participated in a post-graduation, paid internship, and started searching for a job September 2013. 

Here's proof that I graduated ;)
When the stress of two solid months of job hunting, resume revision, vast networking, daily monitoring of job sites, a dozen applications submitted, a few flop interviews, and abrasive self-polishing culminated with a month-long illness, I finally realized I was experiencing what they all said I might—the real world. For an English major who views herself with average skills and average gumption, the real world is initially ugly and destructive to the confidence. It's far more romantic when viewed from within those poetic university walls. 

Despite dwindling confidence, still I knew I had highly applicable skills, admirable creative powers, and I was confident in my real-world experience gained from five separate internships. However, when November arrived I was, in every way, down, to say the least. But I kept pushing myself, if for no other reason than I had no other option. In my searching I came across an article whose author expressed similar difficulty to find a job and he gave some tips. I followed one tip: Ask everyone. You never know who doesn't know they have a lead for you until you ask.

While I had thus far been beefing up my LinkedIn profile and reaching out to professors for leads, I had neglected one very obvious resource: Facebook. It's so obvious I just hadn't seen what it is (a social networking site) for what it could be (a job networking resource). While I had used Facebook to toot my graduation horn and to tell people about my great internship, I had for some reason neglected to share my job-hunt woes with my Facebook adherents. I took a humbling moment to undress in front of my peers, tell them I was struggling and in need of any leads, clicked "post" and hoped for the best.

Within minutes a friend (who had just had a baby, mind you, and had so many other important things she could do) took 3 seconds to reply to me about her sister-in-law who had posted about an open position at her work place, a sales copywriter, someone to write about food. Hello, perfect. I researched the company, delighted when I saw it wasn't an MLM company, tweaked my resume to represent my most applicable skills, and sent in an application. That was Saturday night.

Knowing full well they wouldn't see my resume until Monday morning at the earliest, still I couldn't resist dropping by the following Monday and asking to learn more about the company. I talked to the main HR lady and we had a very pleasant conversation. She mentioned how the Director of Marketing would be looking into interview during the week. I left with great hopes.

I didn't hear back. By Thursday my hopes had turned to panicked desperation. I had to do something or this opportunity would simply, quietly, agonizingly pass me by and my life would continue just the way it had been. I had to take my fate into my own hands. I got the number for the Director of Marketing and called. She didn't answer, so I left a message that essentially said, "Hi, I've applied for your available writing position and I have been hoping for just such a position for so long. I haven't heard back from any of my recent applications, but I really want this job, so I'm calling to fight for a chance to interview for this position. Thanks."

Later that day she called me back. We set up an interview for the next day. My insides twisted with every imaginable feeling between desire and despair, but when the interview came, I was confident, spewed naturally with creative passion (that I'd built at UVU, that's the truth!), and what would you know, instead of making me wait until Monday to hear back from the HR lady, the Director set up my second interview with her right then for the next Monday. She would decide whom to hire after she got back into town. She would be leaving after my interview and getting back Wednesday. Wow! Did I ever get the last-chance interview or what?

I did research for the average Utah salary for sales copywriters, did a little interviewing practice with my brother, and I showed up Monday armed and ready. I was so confident . . . and then she told me it was down to me and one other candidate. I think I may have preferred not to know that. To come THAT close and lose out would hurt. But I knew I had been myself, prepared myself, and had nothing to regret in my initiative to go after a position I REALLY wanted.

Wednesday came. I was trying to keep my mind busy by writing on one of my many blogs when I heard my phone chime. It was the chime tune that meant I had received an email in my professional inbox. My heart leapt, time slowed, and I calmly reached for the device that held the literal fate of my life. The moment I saw: 

"Hi Emily,
Attached is a job offer from Food For Health International...."

I thrust my phone into the air like a victor's trophy and burst into tears. ha ha.

I now have a salary position as a sales copywriter with Food for Health International. I have been there a month and a half and have recognized with surprising clarity where so many of my skills learned at UVU are being applied in the "real world."

In school, we often don't think these movements we mimic to fulfill assignments will in fact become legitimate skills used to accomplish a professional need. In my job now I see even some of the earliest movements I learned at UVU in real application. Writing in different voices to different audiences—I use that every day. Revision—oh, if I could have realized how crucial that practice is in the real world, I would have taken paper revision so much more seriously. These aren't just assignments to give us work that earns grades, they are practice to give us skills that earn paychecks. I'm glad for a constant push for revision in school, because as a professional (!) writer now, I'm constantly revising, and it doesn't scare me because I already knew how hard it was to revise academic papers, so I knew I could do it.

I'm so grateful for my diverse and well-organized education at UVU (and above all, for my generous Grandma who made it all possible!).

I want to pitch two cents into the internship collection tray. As early as 2010 I started looking into getting internship credit. Worried I might not run into enough applicable opportunity, I actually created my first internship. I proposed to revise and edit the tour guide commentary manual for the company I worked for during summers. The proposal was approved and I used my spare time that summer to hone my research, revision, and writing skills.

From there I went on to apply for internal and external internships, securing two of each in my remaining years at UVU. The on-campus opportunities are so awesome. The English advisory staff wants us to expand ourselves AND the opportunities. I have watched the Touchstones Editor-in-Chief internship evolve and expand in graceful fashions in the years I was involved with the journal. It is supremely satisfying to know I was a part of that movement during my time at the university.

My external internships gave me professional world experience that was truly invaluable. I found out about the first, an editing internship with Deseret Book, through a UVU professor's connection to BYU. The other I found just following signs on campus, up to the meeting room where they talked about the opportunity. I know that I secured these internship positions because, through my UVU education, I gained experience in the field to qualify and confidence in myself to interview. 

I even modeled for a cover during my Deseret Book employment. So cool.
To those about to face the real world, I say, be ready to keep working hard! Expect resistance and don't give up, especially on what you want. To those still discovering what their passions are, I say, don't just mimic, absorb! You will use the skills no matter how small they may seem now. There's plenty to fear in our economy, but education is worth every effort and penny, and it will prepare you for a beautiful ride into the professional scene. No matter how much education you get, make it count. It will pay off if you use it.
Glasses aren't function, they're metaphorical: The Future Is Bright!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I took a personality test and just wanted to keep the results handy. More a post for myself.

About the test: Based on "Big 5" factors of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. OCEAN. The numbers resulting from my survey answers are the percentages of that quality in my personality. So I'm highest in agreeableness and lowest (phew) in neurosis. I agree with these findings. My only neurotic tendencies probably come from witnessing grammar abuse.

My results:
I'm a O76-C69-E18-A87-N7 Big Five!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Unexpected Life

In the spirit of Halloween, a revised short story!

“Do you even remember what it was like to . . . grow?” William whispered into the darkness. He knew they should be quiet, pretending to sleep, but his worries galloped through his mind tonight.

“Well . . . kind of.” She rolled onto her back to stare at the same deteriorating ceiling that his gaze circled. “It was like full . . . and stretchy.”

“Stretchy?” He chuckled. She swatted his chest.

“Yeah, I don’t know how to describe it. But we were aging, we were going to grow old together—” she stopped before regret sounded. “Back then, there was past and there was future; the memories and dreams breathed to make the present stretch. But now, it’s just . . .”

“Dead,” he said.

“Dead,” she whispered. Then burst out, “Why on earth would anyone leave a living, growing child on our front door? Us? They must have been blind or they would have noticed the lifeless neighborhood, the limping houses lining the broken sidewalk?”

“Quiet, dear. You’ll wake her.” He couldn’t help but smile, though. That Lucille was always so lively, even after all these years apart from the living.

“Sorry.” She buried her face in his shoulder.

“Well, ours were the only lights on that night, as we ‘enjoyed’ a nice glass of wine.”

“Oh, I swear I could almost taste it!” Her whisper shot to the ceiling.

He smiled seeing the moonlight catch her pale, outstretched hands. He grabbed her left in his right.

“So we must have looked like an ordinary, loving couple. Totally understandable for someone to mistake us as living if they saw us drinking wine in a lit, furnished dining room.”

“I suppose. But it makes me wonder. What sort of person even comes into this neighborhood, and with a child no less? I mean, I haven’t seen more than a mangy cat chasing a skeletal mouse in—what year is it now?”

“2010, dear.”

“My goodness. Has it really been sixty years already? Time flies when you’re not living in it anymore, doesn’t it,” she sighed.

“It certainly does. I don’t know what would have inspired anyone to come this way. There must be some reason.”

“I’ve been thinking about it every moment since she got here. It scares me to death—okay well, it terrifies me—to think I’m responsible for the life of another person, so small, so unaware of this ghastly world! How can she be anything but ruined by everything around her?”

“I’m scared, too, dear. But, oh, how I almost feel my heart beat again when she smiles at us. Don’t you just love that?”

“I do. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. I’d die again for her.”

“Now we’re just starting the life we never had. Well, sort of.”

She smiled. He knew she smiled because she always did when he said “sort of.” Just enough to where her lips etched a moon-shaped dimple into her cheek that caused a reflective sparkle in her eye. He lived for that smile. Or died for it. Yes, he had chosen to die for that very smile.

“It’s hard work pretending,” she continued. “Like eating, breathing, sleeping. Gosh, sleeping is perhaps the most dreadful of all. I mean, not that I don’t mind lying here with you, dear, but there are just so many other things we could be doing right now.”

“But we can’t wake her.”

“Yes, I know. Not that reading, for example, is loud, you know.”

“I know, Lill, but we’ll get careless if we don’t have some sort schedule and stick to it. Children need schedules. It’s going to be a big change for us. Everything has changed and will just . . . keep changing. That’s what life is, change.”

“Except we’re not changing anymore, Will. We don’t stretch anymore. Our hearts stopped and our blood stopped and we don’t age. How long is she going to fall for that, do you think?”

“Oh, I didn’t notice my parents getting older until I was out of the house, I think. Parents hold some sort of ageless charm while kids grow up, too busy with their own growing to notice those already-grown, adult figures making any changes. I’d say we’ve got a good sixteen years before she suspects anything. If we stick to pretending.” He poked her ribs.

“Ayy!” She squirmed and wrapped a fist around his culprit finger.

“Parenthood,” she breathed. “We’re parents. Finally, after . . .” She looked down at her stomach.

“After all these years,” he spread a hand on her lower abdomen. When the doctor told him his son hadn’t made it and that his wife wasn’t expected to make it either, he had done this same thing. He lay down in the bed next to his wife, held her feverish head to his chest while he spread his other hand over her tired womb.

He cleared his throat to scatter the haunting memory and moved his hand to her cheek. “You are going to be an amazing mother,” he said. “You can do all those things you loved doing—cooking and preparing lavish meals, sewing and mending clothes—living again, for this child.”

“Yes, I will. I will do my best to pretend that I am as capable a mother as any living woman.”

“Oh, you won’t even have to pretend, darling. You’re a natural, I’m sure of it. The world is scary, but there is so much love, too. Think of all the marvelous things this one child could do to change the world? She has changed our world so much already.”

“We’ll have to move, won’t we?”

“She’ll need to have friends; we’ll have to make friends.”

Silence met his ears. He turned his head toward her. Out of habit impossible to kill, her chest rose and fell with a characteristic sigh.

“You will do beautifully.”

“We will,” she said, squeezing his hand. “Thank you for sticking with me.”

“Till dusk and till dawn.” He pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it.

A baby’s cry echoed down the hall. Lucille leapt out of bed faster than a grasshopper from underfoot.

“I’ll go!” And she was wrapped in wails down the hallway.

William crossed his arms behind his head. A father. At last.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Land that I Love

I hiked partway up a mountain an hour before sunset tonight. The lovely display of nature yawning and sinking to sleep behind the far mountains was an idyllic setup for the firework shows to follow. From up where I sat I was able to see several dozen shows popping up around Utah valley. It was a game of whack-a-mole for my eyes, scanning up and back, a quick visual mallet-bonk on each erupting spark. I shut my eyes and yet behind closed lids they still reflexively chased the echoing bursts, pops, and whistles entering my ears from around the valley. These words danced in my head and even escaped on a tune from my lips:
the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air . . . but the flag was still there

Thought stirred with feeling as I sat atop the hill thinking of all those people celebrating.
So many people have filled this valley since those pioneers rolled in 160-some years ago.  
This is a great big world . . . small in comparison to some, but so very big. 
This country has supplied more than a fair share of glaring rockets and bursting bombs in other countries. 
So many dogs are scared right now.
Land of which freedoms, home of how many truly brave?
All those people having their individual celebrations—most are seeing only one show. I see them all.
Do I feel guilty about that? Nah.
All those spurts looks like that part in The Dark Knight Rises when all the manhole covers burst with flame, except these burst with sparkles. Maybe more like an active lava field where pressurized molten sparkles spray from the street-lamp-speckled earth. A herd of fairy whales surfacing, clearing their magical blowholes, splashing up and down and up from electric puddles around the baking city.
Everyone down there is celebrating because, probably, they believe in America. It's interesting that every single inhabitant of this country can believe in America without needing to believe in God. And that doesn't comfort me, but somehow it represents freedom to me, and if we can't be one nation under God, I'd somberly accept one nation unified at least in the belief of that old American hope.

As I later drove home to Salt Lake valley, even more shows exploded along the way. As I rounded the point of the mountain and saw the celebrations going on above the quiet prison, I thought, do prison mates get to watch fireworks? Surely no choice that lands you in there is worth losing the freedom to celebrate. There is no hero's welcome in prison for a citizen who gives up his or her life on the battlefield of impulse to steal a cheap replica of freedom.

For me it seems easy to love America. I don't know, maybe patriotism is just something you're born with, as with bones or strands of DNA. And America's become so normal to me I forget how great she is, how she could be if we let her. She's only as free as the feet treading on her. And when she's sick, hurting, bruised, I get sad. I get sad because it takes a lot of people to hurt such a large country, and so when it gets to the point where she's hurting, a deep lot of things have happened to get her there.

And yet she finds ways of healing her wounds, of drawing the attention of those who should be caring for her to step up and remember. Stand up and defend. Bend the knee and remember compassion. Reach out and help a neighbor.

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me.

It is written and many believe that freedom, liberty, is an inalienable right. That means it can't be taken from the possessor. Did you know we also define it as the possessor can't give it away, either? This implies that freedom is a human right, not an American right. Only those humans, true patriots who don't hurt their given country and would that no country be oppressed, will gain access to practice that right.

The lyrics above give an insight to where one access point of freedom is found: men who died. How does death unlock the right to freedom? If we can possess it because others died to defend it, surely we must believe we could lose our access to freedom if others die in a pursuit to pump it into the unsuspecting structures of foreign societies. I'm not saying other countries couldn't use help to lift the oppression of their governing powers, but how can patriots be born if the citizens die at the hand that reached to help them?

Because some covet oppression so much they cannot even see the value of freedom, countries war to reclaim their inalienable right to freedom. Our world has fished some real crazies from the ever-evolving seas of tyranny. And so patriots go, prepared to give their lives, to give the countries an opening to freedom. And I won't forget how I'm free.

My government would never die for me; it cannot give me the right to freedom. These days, true patriots who desire to be elected to an office for the pursuit of real liberty aren't often found. By their works we shall know them. But unfortunately, by the media are their works filtered, twisted, polluted, and glazed so that we hardly know real from script, authentic from special effect. The media likes reality TV, beauty pageants, talent contests, game shows, and that's what the political scene has become, nearly entirely forgetting the men who died who set up their rights to stand, speak, offer to serve in government.

So many have forgotten that government is a service. Some who seek a position in government want it to serve them. Few would ever die for their country if it came to it. There are a fading number of patriots elected to fill our government.

But what do I really know? I don't stroll through the separate world that politics has become in our nation. It saddens me to see America's own blood attack itself and weaken the immunity. She'd heal well with some unity.

And all that said, I still believe in America. I believe in my creator, God. I believe in the inalienable rights we're trying to latch on to like newborn babes. I believe that goodness prevails in the hearts of many, many Americans. I believe that many others are one kind gesture away from believing in themselves again. I believe we can revive our nation one treading step, one better choice, one sacrifice for the greater good, one person at a time.
“We don’t have to consider just statistics to be reminded that America is still good. . . . Most of them are honest. Most of them try to do their duty and live unselfish and responsible lives. Most Americans honor their commitments to their marriages, their families, their employers, their communities. Most Americans show compassion and courage to the needy. Most Americans still look at their children and see strength and optimism in their eyes.” – Seven Miracles that Saved America

What is a nation without a free people? A government. I love this land for what it stands for deep down: opening the right to freedom to all mankind. She's old, worn out, but still beautiful. Now if God were allowed to do a quick facelift to smooth out those few 237-year-old wrinkles she might just feel good as new.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Poetry Reading – Felling

What the judges said:
This poem is an enviable example of word as subject, displaying phonetic craft which utilizes onomatopoeia internal rhyme and assonance. The sounds in this poem are the strongest of the poetry competition, enhancing the author's idea, and moving the reader through the poem at a specific pace. Beginning with the title, "Felling" is a very poetic, language-centered, sensual journey.

What I said:
I never thought of sex before
as a sexy word. The hacking
hatchet chopping
trunks cracking splinters
splitting rings of life apart;
factories snatching branches,
whittling forests into firewood.

I hear the milling lyric making love
mixing hum and la from a pull saw
bending, begging—catching;
music wobbles, giggles when a handle slips
then grips again, mapping latitude
lines through layers of life, composing
honeycomb cradles in the moonlight.

Emily Fairchild 4/18/13
— at Utah Valley University.
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