* I had to change the name of the piece. Rob was right — it was too good to resist...
Texts from my roommate, presented without comment:
I've noticed since the whole AC was fixed and there's always a fan on upstairs while Gloria and I just have the windows open and don't use a fan that it's best if we paid $18.32 which is what we paid last month and we didn't have the huge AC from upstairs on. It's unfair how we're paying more for something we don't use. So next month we're just going to pay $18.31. Thanks.
PS If you that AC circulates the bottom floor... it doesn't
P.S. Gloria and I would prefer for you to tell us when everything is due so we can give you a check then instead of waiting towards the end of the month just to avoid anything since you have to pay a huge chunk of it
Since one of us is almost always out of town
I texted back that her suggestion about the electricity bill was inappropriate and would not happen and that we would talk about it in person
Oh and it would be best if we spoke over the phone there's no way we would talk about this face to face to be honest we have different schedules and it's best if this issue is resolved quickly. And Jackie, it's completely acceptable, just to let you know. Most people think this is taking advantage of other people and I'm not going to let this happen. You, Gloria, and I don't have huge fans that take up a lot of energy especially when you have that and the swamp cooler running with the windows open in the house. Really, Jackie . . . at least close the windows. If nothing gets done, Jackie, then I'm sticking to what I'm saying, because it's fair, and to give you the checks on their respective due dates. That's how you run a house full of roommates.
You shouldn't be paying for all of us and expect to get the checks to you when you want.
I again said we would discuss this in person
You give us the due date of each utility and we give you the checks that's it
It's not going to happen, Jackie. Really you and I. hardly. see. each other.
Let's be real girl.
No drama, just laying out the facts lol
But if you want we can do it in person but I don't know when that's going to happen.
Roommate, you're welcome for fixing your spelling/punctuation. Also, roommate, meet door.
It started with the reaping.
The youth of the district stood nervously, waiting for the elaborately dressed and coiffed master of ceremonies to utter the fateful words that would change the life of one teen forever. Some waited in edgy silence, hoping beyond hope that their names would not be called. Others, who had been training for the honor of becoming a tribute since childhood, stood confidently, masking their excitement behind their calm exterior.
Finally, the emcee took the stage and read off the name of the person who would represent the district at the Capitol.
For the girl who was chosen, life turned upside down almost immediately.
As soon as the tribute was named, a mentor was there to offer a helping hand, ready to train and assist through each aspect of the competition. Other helpers emerged too, ready to aid with clothing, hair, and appearance. Makeovers, waxing, shaving, dyeing, exercising, training—the tribute was put through the wringer in preparation for the impending fight-to-the-death event.
Too soon, the tributes from each district were headed to the Capitol.
After their arrival at the Capitol, the tributes were whisked off to the opening parade. Each tribute put on a costume representing her district and rode past a cheering crowd, smiling and waving all the while. Costumes were themed with the local industries of each district and depicted things like agriculture, fishing, mining, and technology.
Even before the official games began, each moment the tributes spent together became one of competition. Every move or word was analyzed for strengths, areas of danger, and potential weaknesses to exploit. On the face, the tributes liked each other. Underneath, however, each harbored a fierce willingness to take down anybody who stood in their way.
Walking over the bodies of their vanquished foes was no big deal.
All of them could — and would — do it gracefully.
The parade offered the public a chance to meet the tributes, but morning training sessions at the Capitol allowed the tributes a chance to get to know each other. During the training, each focused on building and showing off the talents they would use once they took to the field of battle. Some gave the training their all, putting their hearts and souls into their performances in hopes of impressing those around them. Others played more strategically, keeping their talents concealed and giving half-efforts when they knew people were watching. The intention, for those tributes, was to lull their opponents into a false sense of security before unleashing their full abilities once the true competition began. It was a game where no one could be trusted, because everyone hid secrets.
As training sessions at the Capitol concluded, each tribute met with the judges and tried to convince the panel to award them high scores. Tributes told funny stories. They made the judges laugh. They made the judges cry. They showed off unique talents. They said and did anything necessary to stand out from the crowd. Some succeeded. Some did not.
Later, the tributes took to the Capitol stage to similarly try to woo the crowd. Each word they said, each joke they cracked, and each smile they flashed was intended to gain them fans and adoration. Having a crowd of admirers in your corner meant gifts, cheers, and support.
But mostly gifts.
Gifts delivered nightly, coming to the tributes like silver parachutes from heaven and often accompanied by notes of encouragement and instructions for battle, could save a girl's life.
The battle at the Capitol was, in the end, a battle of attrition and a fight to the death. Who could survive each challenge? Who could withstand the arrows and slings of their fellow tributes? Who allied with whom, and for what purpose? Who was in the game just to survive, and who was playing to win?
In the end, only one tribute could come out on top.
Only one tribute could be crowned.
Only one tribute could walk to the center of the stage at Capitol Theatre and claim the title of Miss Utah.
What did you think I was talking about?
Posted by Jackie at 7:43 AM
I recently drove 167 miles to go to a concert.
(Well, I was supposed to drive, but once my intended passenger discovered my car doesn't have an air conditioner, I became the passenger and we drove her car, but that's beside the point…)
When your hometown offers a free concert by William Joseph (read: FREE and WILLIAM JOSEPH), it's worth driving 334 miles to attend. Some things just have to be done.
I first fell in love with William Joseph way, waaaaaay back when I was in my "I'm going to marry Josh Groban" phase. William Joseph is a pianist who signed with David Foster and subsequently opened for Josh on tour. Josh must've written about William on his website, and if Josh was a fan, I was a fan.
A few years later, I got to see William Joseph perform at Women's Conference at BYU and was blown away. (Have you ever seen a pianist's fingers move so fast that they turn into a solid blur? I have…)
But my favorite William Joseph memory doesn’t involve William Joseph at all.
No, my favorite memory involves a pageant and a girl my family lovingly calls "The Slasher."
*I shan't tell who The Slasher is (I mean, I could, but I won't), so you'll have to be content with just the story.*
A couple of years ago I was competing at the Miss Utah pageant. Pageants are a funny business. Contestants may say they want to be friends and that they don't care about the title, but the second you put a sparkly crown in front of them, they'll start fighting like… well… girls.
Basically that means they'll start trying to undermine each other's confidence.
One of the best examples of this (which I didn't see, fortunately) happened a few years before I got involved in pageants. A girl decided that the best way to scare the other girls was to show off her perfect bikini-ready body. Naturally, the most convenient way to do this was to walk around naked.
Girls will do things like exaggerate their accomplishments, claim credit for passing laws in the legislature, get into fundraising wars, and (my favorite) brag about their shoe size during getting-to-know-you games.
Me: "What's something we have in common? Oh! What size of shoe do you wear?"
Girl: "Haha. We definitely won't have the same shoe size."
Me: "What's yours?"
Girl: "I wear a three in children's shoes."
Me: "What size is that in adult?"
Me: "Huh. Me too. Sign the paper."
(True story. And she was ticked.)
Anyway, The Slasher was a master at the intimidation game. She would stalk around like a black widow, pretending to be nice, but secretly eating girls when nobody else was looking.
(Okay, slight exaggeration.)
This year, though, The Slasher decided that the best way to intimidate the other girls was to claim that she had personally written her talent number. The Slasher played the piano, and she spent ages bragging about how amazing her piece was. When her talent rehearsal day came, everyone in the audience waited, ready to be stunned by the astonishing, mind-blowing music she had written all by herself.
(Disclaimer: I WISH I could remember for sure what song it was. I couldn't find my Miss Utah DVD to double check, but I'm 99% positive I've got it right… Just pretend it's the right song, because it probably is.)
She sat down to play, and this is what I heard:
This is what I did:
"Hey, wait a minute."
See, I knew that song. I knew who wrote the particular arrangement. And I knew it wasn't The Slasher.
What's a girl to do with knowledge like that? Hmmmm…
After The Slasher ran through her talent number and went to sit in the audience in order to soak up the praise from her many admirers ("I can't believe you wrote that! It was amazing!"), I might've… maybe... purposely worked my way to her side and said this rather loudly:
Me: "That was a William Joseph piece, wasn't it? From his Within album? He's an amazing pianist."
The Slasher: "Um…well… But… I mean… I reworked it a lot… I had to cut it down…"
Me: "Riiiiiight… Well, see you later!"
INTIMIDATION WAR WON
Posted by Jackie at 8:34 PM
I come from a family of non-huggers.
My mom may dispute this, because she's taken up hugging during the last few years, but seriously, we don't hug. Brothers No. 1, 2, and 3 got/gave hugs when leaving and returning from their LDS missions. Brother No. 4 gave them when he left, and will probably give them when he gets back. Brother No. 5 has years before he'll have to hug anybody, since he's only 16.
Hugs = Too much touchy-feely! Space bubble! Get awaaaaay from me!
It's not that I don't know how to hug — I had a boy teach me when I was in 10th grade, and he was a very good teacher. I'm quite a good hugger . . . when I feel like it.
But I don't often feel like it.
I've always known that part of my hugging problem stems from the fact that I have a giant space bubble. I spent most of a 15-minute meeting at work last Friday feeling uncomfortable because I was standing two feet away from a girl when I could have been standing six feet away.
(The space was there; I chose my floor location without thinking the situation through.)
In high school, I took to being anti-hug because it was funny. My friends got a kick out of torturing me, and I got a kick out of playing up my reactions.
But back in February, when one of my roommates was about to move to San Francisco, I realized that I now use hugs as a sort of weapon with which I purposely try to make people uncomfortable. I like to watch people squirm as they wrestle with the impulse to hug while also fighting against the waves of awkward I'm sending in their direction.
Why am I so vindictive?
I don't know, but it's sure funny.
The day my roommate was due to move away, I was sitting in my room building a bookcase when she poked her head in the door. She was trying to find the source of the hammering noise in the house; I was trying to avoid her and the good-bye hug that I knew was coming.
Me: Are you all packed?
Me: So . . . guess this is good-bye.
My brain: HAHA! I'm sitting in the middle of a bookshelf and you can't even open the door all the way because my room is full of wooden shelves! This is brilliant!
Roommate: Not yet. I'm not going to leave until early tomorrow morning, so I'll come back and say good-bye tonight.
My brain: Boo.
I went to class that night thinking that maybe she would be asleep by the time I got home, and came home to find her running around the kitchen and talking about how much she still had to do. My plan to avoid the inevitable hug had been foiled again.
At this point, I had to make a choice:
1. The usual (i.e. say good-bye from a safe distance and exude enough don't-even-think-about-it vibes that the target is unwilling/unable to break through the awkward barrier)
For once, I took pity on the victim.
It won't happen again.
(Incidentally, sorry Layton, for using the hug awkwardness vibes against you when you left for your new job. I still feel bad about that . . . minus the fact that I was mentally laughing the whole time . . .)
If I ever say, "Okay, give me a hug," just know that I'm choosing pity.
In case you are a current hugger and have suddenly decided to reform and become a non-hugger, here's a final word of advice from an expert: I've learned that when trying to avoid a hug, it's best not to make sudden movements — or movements of any kind, actually.
This is why:
Posted by Jackie at 5:39 PM
The other day, my roommate tried to start a Time War.
No, not this kind of Time War:
This kind of Time War:
"I am the busiest person in this house."
Cue my rage machine!
I've always hated comparisons of busyness. In the busyness battle, there never is an actual winner — just lots and lots of ticked off people and self-pitying bemoaning.
I used to be the worst at Time War-ing. I'm not better now, but I'm trying.
As a junior in high school, I remember coming to drill team practice at 6 a.m. and hearing one of the senior captains say, "I'm sorry I couldn't get thus-and-so done. I was just SO busy. I'm SO busy all the time!"
Then, a few sentences later, she said, "I watched three hours of Fresh Prince of Bel Air yesterday."
And I went, "WAIT A SECOND! YOU'RE NOT BUSY!"
Then my judging kicked in.
I used to get so annoyed by people who complained about being busy, because I was totally convinced that nobody (NOBODY!) was as busy as I was.
"I was busy last night."
"Oh yeah?! Well, are you taking ballet lessons and doing drill team and taking ballroom lessons and fulfilling church callings and running the school newspaper and writing a weekly newspaper column and blah, blah, blah…"
I had a note on my door (stolen from my friend Angeline) that had a picture of a girl with her head on her desk. It said, "Think you're stressed? Call me. You can have some of mine."
Remembering that picture totally makes me blush now. My parents — running a business, raising six kids, and working multiple jobs — must've rightly thought I was an idiot.
At some point in high school, though, I realized something:
It's not that any of us are NOT busy — it's that our definitions of the word vary.
One of my friend's older brothers taught me this, without even knowing it. He would always (ALWAYS!) talk about how busy he was. He wasn't whining (which would've ticked me off); he was just saying, "I am busy." To me, though, he didn't look busy. It was then that I realized we're all working under different definitions of the same word.
We are all born with and develop busyness or stress thresholds, and what seems busy to one of us definitely might not seem busy to someone else.
I don't reach my definition of "busy" very often. Right now I'm working 40 hours a week and taking 9 credits in grad school. That's not busy.
My last semester of college in 2010, I was working 30 hours a week for the school, 10-20 hours of week doing freelance design, taking 18 credits, trying to finish the capstone classes for 3 different majors, and preparing to speak at graduation. That was busy.
I was busy last week. One midterm, six+ school assignments, 40+ hours of work, visits with my darling Kenna and my delightful Hobie, a date, trying to finish two sculptures in time for an art show, and planning a class for a Cub Scout leader pow-wow.
|Got 'em both done, by the way. Bam.|
I was busy in mid-December, when I was finishing 15 credits worth of classes for my first semester of grad school, working 40-60 hours a week, and trying to get presents ready for Christmas.
But guess what?
Other people were, are, and always will be busier.
I whined about being busy to a med student in my ward and he shut me down with "I work 80 hours a week." (Saving lives, I might add. That trumps any of my busyness.)
I whined to my Mom about being busy and she (could've but didn't, bless her) said, "Yes, well, I'm working 40 hours a week, being a mom, and planning the ENTIRE Cub Scout pow-wow.
I whine about working more than 40 hours a week to my boss, and then remember that he gets here about the same time I do, leaves 2-3 hours later, and is on-call all the time.
Maybe my roommate is the busiest person in the house. Maybe she's not.
I think she's not busy because she goes to get her hair done, goes out to eat, goes clubbing, and goes to the gym.
She probably thinks I'm not busy because I play with clay and I'm making a bunch of puppets for the Festival of Trees in November.
We both work and we both go to school.
Are we both busy?
Whenever someone tries to start a Time War (or whenever I mentally try to start one myself) I have to tell myself to (A) calm down, and (B) step back. I don't always succeed, but I do try.
Once you start a Time War, there's probably no stopping it.
And even if (miraculously) it does stop, is there ever really a Time War winner?
I'm thinking no.
P.S. If you don't know where the title comes from, you should probably listen to this. You're welcome:
Posted by Jackie at 1:06 PM
I've been hesitant to write this because a certain creepy professor is likely still stalking this blog (just like he is/was on Twitter, despite being blocked… twice…) but whatever. A grad school professor requested the essay, and grad school professor > creepy not-grad-school professor.
A week before I was due to graduate from college, I realized I was on the wrong career path. It wasn't so much a realization as a personal admission, but it was bad timing either way.
What spurred the moment of truth?
A YouTube video.
This YouTube video, to be precise:
I entered college to become a journalist. That desire was inspired by a fantastic high school teacher, three years of writing for my high school paper, and two years of running the paper as editor-in-chief. I accidentally enrolled myself in the newspaper class as a sophomore, but I developed a love for it.
Once I got in college, I rammed my way through the prerequisite classes for the journalism major. I intended to get my college degree in two years — tops — and jump feet-first into the profession.
One communications major, one history major, one political science minor, and one editing minor later…
There's a logical explanation for why I got sidetracked from my brilliant two-year plan. You see, I've been genetically programmed so that when someone tells me I am going to do something, I immediately do the opposite.
My friend Rachel: "You are going to love this Josh Groban song!"
Me: "It was just okay. I didn't love it."
(How long did it take me to admit that I love that song? Forever. But I totally love that song. And I was totally in that crowd when this was recorded. Whatever. Judgers.)
Other people go to college and develop new and wonderful hobbies — ballroom dance, comedy clubs, intramurals . . . My second major became my hobby. For someone who has spent her life addicted to studying one period of history or another (Jamestown, Czarist Russia, World War II, the American Revolution, the settling of the West . . . you get the picture) having a history major as a college hobby was a simple extension of a natural nerdiness.
I never had any intention of using the history major for anything other than personal joy . . . until I saw that YouTube video.
There I was — seven years of official and unofficial reporting, three years of newspaper design, and a journalism internship in Washington, D.C., under my belt; just a week away from extolling the virtues of my communications degree as a speaker at graduation — and I knew I was on the wrong path.
That's a big fat oops.
The path to teaching would've been infinitely easier if I had admitted this to myself before my last week of college, but c'est la vie.
Now I'm in grad school, taking classes with people who have been teaching for years, and pretending to know what I'm talking about. I'm a grad school/teaching fraud, but it's working out well so far (very well, indeed, in fact) and my GPA hopes it continues.
I want to be a teacher for two reasons:
1. The world needs good teachers. Not teachers like some in my grad school classes who laugh about swearing at their students. Not teachers who aren't passionate about their subjects or start the first day of class by saying, "I hate teaching English." Not teachers who think it's a-OK and totally professional to act like a douche, threaten, and stalk former students.
(True stories, all)
2. History is the best subject in the world. Unfortunately, I always had awful or vaguely mediocre history teachers. I think I was a junior before I encountered my first good one in a concurrent enrollment class. The professor's comment on my essay planted the seed ("Have you ever thought about becoming a historian?") and fantastic college history professors cultivated it.
I'll always love journalism, and I love working in the field, but the siren call of history and the chance to help educate high school punks is stronger.
Besides, after seeing the Founding Fathers murder a OneRepublic song for the sake of early American history, who wouldn't be tempted to do something drastic?
Posted by Jackie at 10:51 PM
I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: New Year's Eve is the worst holiday ever.
I was talking about New Year's Eve with a coworker today, and I mentioned that all of my girlish childhood fantasies died on a New Year's Eve. Another coworker — apparently listening to the conversation — went, "awwwww," and I realized how melodramatic my words sounded.
"New Year's Eve — where my girlish childhood fantasies died! OoOoOoOoH!"
The story isn't actually melodramatic at all, but it ties in with a bigger problem I've been thinking about over the past few months: The Cinderella Syndrome.
In every film version of the Cinderella story, there comes a moment when Cinderella enters the ballroom, and the crowd — or more importantly, the prince — turns and stares in awe. I'll show you what I mean:
(Skip to 2:08)
I'd find more examples, but I'm bored with looking at YouTube.
For me, at least, all of those years growing up with Cinderella movies and romantic notions led to my catching a strong case of The Cinderella Syndrome. Maybe other people have had the same disease, or maybe I'm one of the few. (I definitely know one other person right now who has it. I was like, 14, at the time, and she's like, 22, but whatever…).
As part of the disease, all of those romantic moments where the prince looks up, sees the girl of his dreams, and falls madly in love, became a real thing in my head. That led to the fateful New Year's Eve, years and years ago, where my Cinderella Syndrome met its cruel and untimely death.
I wish I could remember exactly how old I was — it had to have been around or near 8th grade — but the stake was holding a New Year's Eve dance for youth 14 and older, and I knew my time had come. I was going to have my Cinderella moment.
When a girl prepares for a Cinderella moment, she does so carefully. I certainly did. I chose the perfect outfit with the Cinderella moment in mind, and I took my time doing my hair and applying my brand new Christmas eye shadow (it was pink) with as much care as a 14-year-old (ish? Maybe?) girl could take. After hours of preparation, I joined my friends and we headed to the stake center.
My Cinderella Syndrome convinced me that as soon as I stepped into the ballroom — er, the gym — all the boys would come flocking to my side, vying for my attention.
My Cinderella Syndrome convinced me that as soon as I stepped into the ballroom — er, the gym — all the boys would come begging for a dance.
My Cinderella Syndrome convinced me that as soon as I stepped into the ballroom — er, the gym — all the boys would fall madly in love with me.
To call the entire debacle a blow to my self-confidence would be an understatement. I was pretty emotionally devastated. All the romantic notions and fantasies I had built up over years of watching Disney movies came crashing down around me. That's what New Year's Eve will always remind me of. It was the end of an era.
Admittedly, even though my dreams were shattered that night, I'm still a romantic at heart and my Cinderella Syndrome still kicks in at random moments. You can always tell when it does, because those are the days that I actually do my hair and choose my outfits with the intent of snaring a man. (C'mon, Good Looking Guy! Cooperate!)
Most of the time, though, I'm more of a realist. (Also, doing hair and choosing snaring outfits is hard work, and I am lazy.) The death of my Cinderella Syndrome was painful, but it was also a good thing. That awful New Year's Eve taught me that life isn't always like the movies. In fact, I found a hilarious quote the other day which applies to this exact situation, and which I think should become my life motto. Unfortunately I promptly lost the desktop sticky note containing the quote when my computer crashed. Natch.
But the idea behind the quote was basically this: Realize that you are an unimportant pimple, embrace it, and build from there.
That sounds depressing, but it's actually not. If we admit that we're not always going to be Cinderella at the ball — that we don't have the power to woo princes/get our way/change the world just by existing — life gets easier. All of us are small folks, building lives in our own little corners (see what I did there?), and we should embrace that. Basing our actions and self-esteem on the delusional idea that one day the world will observe, applaud, and revere, only sets us up for disappointment. I'm now okay with being small. Every day brings the challenge of building a slightly bigger space that only I can fill. It's not quite Cinderella, but I'm happier now than I was then.
New Year's Eve still stinks, though.
I'm just saying.
It totally does.
But at least I don't look like this… this year, anyway…
Posted by Jackie at 4:51 PM