What is Drastic + Dramatic

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.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April's Fool: The Hundred-Dollar Penny

Somehow I've been 24 years old my entire college career. Guys always guess 24/25 to be my age. And I still feel 24. I'm afraid as soon as I graduate, 28 will catch up to me all too swiftly.

Because I started college at 24, already the average age for dateable boys on campus was a bit on the low side. But the real problem was how as time went by, the boys kept getting younger, and I aged without really getting any older. They would always think I was 23–25, but those numbers didn't always stay. So because it happened so often that guys sort of reeled away and grimaced once they heard the number of years I'd been on Earth, I just made a habit of separating school and dating. Like church and state, dating and schooling just didn't seem able to co-govern in my mind. I expected the church setting to be my reliable dating source (ha), and the school to be my skills and education source.

This final semester, as a last-ditch effort, I decided I'd make an attempt at repentance and take the Dating and Courtship class. Might as well get some good prophetic advice before I leave the university environment and its ripe breeding ground for dates and marriages, which environment I neglect as often as I trudge straight through it. I've been learning a lot of good things in this class, and putting them into practice in life. Such learn+apply behavior has been making my dating life less pathetic, though my date quota hasn't increased one bit. So that's a nice side effect already.

Today, though, the dating class offered a lesson I never would have expected and still may not fully understand. We were talking about tips for selecting a good mate. At one point the teacher settled down in a chair and said he would need a female volunteer. No immediate hand rose. He said, a girl who likes money. I kicked my hand to the sky, joking about enthusiasm for the money part, but ready to climb on stage for the magic trick.

As I approached, he briefly told me that if I wanted more than I was given, I would need to give up what I had to get it. Those were the rules, that was the system. I sat down in the sideways-facing chair he pulled out for me. I faced him, the class faced us. When he reached into his pocket, we heard chattering coins. He lifted out a quarter and placed it on the table between us.

"Do you like that?"
"A nice quarter."
"What could you get with that?"
"I could use it at one of those bubble gum machines."
"Would you like something better?"
"What's the system?"
He holds out his hand.
"Have to give it up if I want something better," I say, placing quarter-George face-up in his palm.
He whips out a dollar.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Is Life

I read this poem for the first time the other day and just love it. It's not particularly religious or Easter-themed . . . but life itself is something of a pure religion. It expects a lot from you . . . all of you, really; it gives you whatever knowledge you seek from it; and you'll die for it—martyrs, all of us, for the faith of breathing.

Poem After Carlos Drummond de Andrade
"It's life, Carlos."

It's life that is hard: waking, sleeping, eating, loving, working and
        dying are easy.
It's life that suddenly fills both ears with the sound of that
        symphony that forces your pulse to race and swells your
        heart near to bursting.
It's life, not listening, that stretches your neck and opens your eyes
        and brings you into the worst weather of the winter to arrive
        once more at the house where love seemed to be in the air.

And it's life, just life, that makes you breathe deeply, in the air that
        is filled with wood smoke and the dust of the factory, because
        you hurried, and now your lungs heave and fall with the
        nervous excitement of a leaf in spring breezes, though it is
        winter and you are swallowing the dirt of the town.
It isn't death when you suffer, it isn't death when you miss each
        other and hurt for it, when you complain that isn't death,
        when you fight with those you love, when you
        misunderstand, when one line in a letter or one remark in
        person ties one of you in knots, when the end seems near,
        when you think you will die, when you wish you were
        already dead—none of that is death.
It's life, after all, that brings you a pain in the foot and a pain in the
        hand, a sore throat, a broken heart, a cracked back, a torn
        gut, a hole in your abdomen, an irritated stomach, a
        swollen gland, a growth, a fever, a cough, a hiccup, a
        sneeze, a bursting blood vessel in the temple.
It's life, not nerve ends, that puts the heartache on a pedestal and
        worships it.
It's life, and you can't escape it. It's life, and you asked for it. It's life,
        and you won't be consumed by passion, you won't be
        destroyed by self-destruction, you won't avoid it by
        abstinence, you won't manage it by moderation, because
        it's life—life everywhere, life at all times—and so you
        won't be consumed by passion: you will be consumed
        by life.

It's life that will consume you in the end, but in the meantime...
It's life that will eat you alive, but for now...
It's life that calls you to the street where the wood smoke hangs,
        and the bare hint of a whisper of your name, but before
        you go...

Too late: Life got its tentacles around you, its hooks into your heart,
        and suddenly you come awake as if for the first time, and
        you are standing in a part of the town where the air is
        sweet -- your face flushed, your chest thumping, your
        stomach a planet, your heart a planet, your every organ a
        separate planet, all of it of a piece though the pieces turn
        separately, O silent indications of the inevitable, as among
        the natural restraints of winter and good sense, life blows
        you apart in her arms.

Marvin Bell
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