Monday, March 29, 2010

Travel Related Pet Peeve

Okay, it's not technically a pet peeve ... maybe just an observation. Have you ever saved all your money and traveled someplace exotic only to arrive and take a few photos, ooooh and ahhh, and chit-chat with the natives and have this conversation:

Native: Where are you from?
Me: California
Native: Is that near Las Vegas?
Me: Yeah, I guess.
Native: Las Vegas is my dream.
Me: Really?
Native: Have you been?
Me: Yeah.
Native: and the Grand Canyon?
Me: Uh, when I was little.
Native: Those are the two places I want to go.

I have had that conversation in some of the most amazing locations on earth. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to a junk in Hong Kong Harbor. Each time, it strikes me as funny that I don't think anything of the amazing stuff in my own backyard, but put a passport, a plane ticket, and my little guidebook in my hand, and I will travel anywhere. My motto? Never turn down a free vacation. (Maybe that is why I haven't been anywhere cool lately. No offers.) I would love to see the Taj Mahal. But I know, I would arrive, find someone trustworthy-looking to snap a few pictures, get into a conversation, and end up having roughly the above exchange.

Why is it that we love to travel to exotic locales and yet stuff in our own backyard is no big deal, common, ordinary, easy?

I have been on some amazing trips. I have seen things that people dream about. I have been very blessed. Part of the reason is ... I was born to parents who loved to travel. They were both teachers so our vacations were more like field trips. Literally. I'm not kidding. We had reading assignments and tests and everything. Like, before we embarked on a trip to Europe, camping out throughout 15 different countries, we spent eight months working extra jobs. During that time we picked a different country every month to study (big ones got a whole month and smaller ones a week.) We would go to the library and check out books, cook food from the place, watch videos, learn a few phrases, learn about the currency and exchange rate, study the history, geography, and culture. When we finally got there, we were experts. I will never forget my little ten year-old brother explaining to the tour guides at Stonehenge the various theories on who could have built it. He stared at him with a stunned look on his face. Looking back, I bet most ten year-old little boys just saw it as a place they wanted to climb and knock down a pillar or two. My brother John was an expert on Stonehenge. We all were. When we saw it, we didn't just think: uhh, nice pile of rocks, now can we go to McDonald's? We understood the historical significance. Heck, we could have given the tour.

We went to the most amazing places. Each night at the campsites we would talk with all the Europeans. Frequently, we were the only Americans camping out. By the way, the Europeans love to camp. There are camp grounds all over Europe and they are very well maintained and clean. My dad would engage in conversation and find all the hidden gems. We always said, no matter where in the world my dad was, he could tell you where the best (and I emphasize best) bakery was, where a laundromat was, and where the local church was ... just give him fifteen minutes. Obviously my dad was passionate about his pastry, cleanliness, and his religion. (Wow, that could have been his eulogy - except family and religion would have been first. Just don't ask him to choose between his kid and a good apple strudel - if you know what I mean.)

We didn't just go to Normandy, he found out from the locals where the old German bunkers were and we climbed through the deserted six foot walled concrete monstrosities. They were out on this farm in the middle of nowhere. They were amazing. And untouched. And never mentioned in a travel book. There were no signs. But later that day when we stood on the beaches and saw the graves and graves and graves and graves and graves ... we KNEW why. We understood why so many had to die in order to infiltrate those bunkers.

That is just one example. We went on many trips. Few vacations. We never stayed in a nice hotel. We never lounged on a beach. We never hung out in a spa or ordered room service. But boy-oh-boy, we experienced things that have never been printed in a book. Our worst hotel ever? I don't know. It is a cross between "$12, no questions" and the place we were charged by the hour. There were 7 of us, mind you. And not every place was a dump. Sometimes we stayed in nice places - if it was the off season. We could set up a tent in the dark ... fast. We ate picnics. But my dad also knew when to splurge, I mean we did have lobster in Maine. He would spend money on things that were important.

Because of this, I had to teach my husband how to travel. He was raised in the 5-star, room-service, play-golf, go-to-the spa type of family. We did that once. It drove me crazy. My mom always said: if you want to sleep in a comfortable bed, stay home. Throughout the years we have compromised. I don't drag my daughters to places where the CSI team is in the next room (literally - one place we stayed still had police tape on it) and Ryan appreciates going to fascinating places. We come home from vacations exhausted.

So ... my point? Gosh, it takes me forever to make a point, doesn't it? We moved to Las Vegas almost six months ago and we aren't going anywhere until we see it all. This Spring Break we are having a Staycation. We will explore the natural wonders, the man-made wonders, the history, the culture, the gems, the local-only fun and the touristy fun. We will do it all. That way, when I do get around to going to the Taj Mahal, the conversation will go like this:

Native: Where are you from?
Me: Las Vegas
Native: Las Vegas is my dream.
Me: It is really amazing. I love it.
Native: and the Grand Canyon?
Me: One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on Earth.
Native: Those are the two places I want to go.
Me: They are worth it. They are truly as amazing as this place.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Picky or Extremely Loyal?

Several years ago I found an awesome watch. I passed it up because I thought I would see it again. I thought about it almost daily with regret. I had seen it in Taiwan, in a night market. Because I was new to the island, I thought they would be all over. I was wrong. My parents picked me up at the end of my mission and we traveled through Asia: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, and then home via Hawaii. While in Singapore, I found the watch and I bought it. My treasure. My love.

I wore it everyday. I wore out the leather strap and got a new one. I loved my watch.

One day, for a reason I don't remember, I took it off. I carried it around in my pocket, since I could not wear it. (Maybe I had hurt my wrist and it was swollen or I was wearing something else for something important.) At the end of the day I went to check the time and it was gone. I retraced all my steps and frantically came to the conclusion that someone must have picked it up. I checked lost and found daily for a week and then every week for the rest of the year. I was distraught. It was gone. Someone had picked it up and loved it and kept it. Who could blame them?

I have never found a watch to replace it. Nothing else appeals to me. Therefore, I do not wear a watch. I was in this mind-set when I met Ryan. He has tried diligently to get me to wear a watch. In fact, it drives him crazy. It drives him nuts that I always have to ask him for the time. He is constantly looking for a watch that I approve of. Nothing appeals to me. Even when I have tried, the new watch ends up in my jewelry bag where it sits and sits. Nothing looks right on my wrist. This has gone on for 17 years.

Picky? Fiercely loyal to an inanimate object? I don't think it is because I am picky. It is not that I only want a certain style or brand or color or look or designer or etc. I want my watch. The one I loved. I feel cheap and dirty when I wear something else. I think I am just loyal to that watch ... the love of my life. I am not picky, I am crazy. But I can't help it. I truly have no desire to wear any other watch as long as I live. I would be willing to get one that looked just like it. I have googled my brains out. In this day of the Internet, you would think I would be able to find one. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

This one is close, but not really. Fine silver triangular keyless massonic watch. C. Two piece triangular, the bezel repoussé with the Union chain, and different massonic symbols, the back, with the Massonic temple and further symbols. D. Mat silver with the different massonic symbols in place of numerals. GiIt brass) massonic hands. M.10—, rhodium plated, decoration, 15 jewels, straight line lever escapement, monometallic balance, Breguet self compensated balance spring. In very good condition. Dim. 49 x 54 mm.

(It sold for more than $3500.)

Mine was not nearly as expensive. It was not solely masonic, but showed a very rare belief in the bridge between Masonry and Taoism, a connection that is so ancient, it is amazing. It had different shapes (square, circle, triangles) that also aligned it with symbols universally used by Jews, Muslims, and in our Mormon Temples. It was kind of like the coming together of all truths. Showing how all religions have truth and similar strains. It was extremely deep for a simple little watch.

So can you see why I loved it so?

Ryan HATES that I cannot get over losing this watch and that I refuse to wear one in protest of not having it. I cannot blame him. I fully concede that I am off my rocker on this one. But I need to find it. I obviously need to go back to either Singapore or Taiwan and search.

So ... I also have issues with purses. I cannot find the perfect purse. Too big, too small, needs to hang just right, hold all my stuff but in places that I can find them instead of just being a mass of all my junk going into a giant black hole. Since I carried diaper bags for years, I kind of just used that. I also use my brocket (I got that name from the Bugg women.) You know, keys, a little money, a lipstick: all stored in the bra. I never miss a call when my phone is on vibrate. As far as purse are concerned: I look, I buy, I use, I am disappointed, I cast it aside.

Methinks I have some major psychological problems with accessories.

And then I saw it. The perfect purse. It is large, but not a duffel bag (tried that one.) It has a strap long enough to wear over my shoulder but not so long that I couldn't carry it in my hand. It is feminine, yet edgy. It could pass as fancy and casual. I can get everything in it, but would not lose everything in the process.

Guess what I want for my birthday? Of course, it around $800.00. I am currently scouring the Internet for a cheap(er) knock-off.

This purse speaks to me. It literally sang to me. Maybe it was just that I was listening to my ipod at the time, but I felt a connection between me and that purse. I know we would bond and that I could never love another like I love it. I will post a pic as soon as I can.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Flowing . . .

Free flowing thoughts. Not money or anything substantial, just random ideas I need to get out on paper ... or computer screen ... off my chest .... you know what I mean.

I still am not used to the students calling me Professor Caress. In fact, I kind of hate it. I feel unworthy to be "promoted" to that title. Then I remembered that is what the students at Hogwarts call their teachers. Now I feel better. I just think I am Professor McGonagall or Professor Sprouts and I feel better. I just wish I had Harry, Hermione, or Ron in my classes. Then again, I don't have Draco so maybe I should be content. But ... I would like to wear long black robes and a cool hat.

I love to see blossoms on the trees. I don't mean a few. I mean trees bursting with flowers. Lots and lots of pink and white flowers. I am not used to a real spring and it is lovely. Okay, It's Vegas and it still is not a REAL spring, but still it is tons more spring-ish than we ever got in the desert-the other desert. I still live in a desert. I will remember I live in a desert come summer time.

I love our flat tile floor. So easy to clean and it always looks clean (or fairly clean.) But then I also get tons of dust bunnies on it that reveal that I need to sweep more often. I used the swiffer sweeper and it is perfect for this floor. It is also cold and I have reverted to wearing socks inside my house. I know, I know - a pure flip-flop girl putting on socks when I am inside? But our floor is really cold. Hopefully it will be really cold when it gets hot in the summer and then I will be singing it's praises. So, since we are very seriously looking to buy with in the next few months, what is the perfect floor? I need something with little maintenance, will not stain, comfortable, etc. Do I ask too much?

I am bitter. Two girls are on traditional calendar and two girls are on a year-round calendar. That means that we have about two weeks in the summer when we are all off. I had heard a rumor that the year-round schedule would go traditional next school year. So I figured: fine, I can live with this for one year. I just found out we are going to be year-round again next year. Blah. Yuck. Icky. If they were all on the SAME schedule it would be great. I can't deal with this. So next year, during those two weeks, I want a really good vacation. Like Hawaii or Paris for two whole weeks. I can only take so much. It really gets to me when I see friends who only have kids on one schedule taking off for a few weeks of play and fun-in-the-sun and I am stuck with two kids in school and two out of school. Maybe I should go through and organize something or finish a project or sit on the couch watching soap operas while slurping on a slurpee in a rage of resentment. I know there are other moms out there in the same boat. So maybe we should have a bitter-moms' time out. We can eat wasabi and go for pap-smears and mammograms while our husbands go out of town on business. Oh what fun! (Did you pick up on the bitterness yet?)

To end on a positive note ... I really love living here. Even though we are still finding out all the insider stuff and are still looking for our BFF (s) and are not settled in our real home yet; we see much promise. We live in a great area with great people and great opportunities and a great church group. We feel we could live here a long time and be very happy. We look forward to the future. The future of all the girls being on the same schedule. (I know, know, I tried to end positive but I am just SO BITTER about that!!!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Savior of the World Production Post - Part 1: Auditions & Rehearsals

Our church is presenting the production Savior of the World on April 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, and May 1. This is a large, expensive, and professional caliber production. Several members of our ward are in it including the man who portrays the Savior and the man who portrays Peter. Their children perform with them and they encouraged us to get involved.

McKayla and Madison were drawn to it because they have always wanted to do something like this. The timing works out. It is a very intense schedule throughout the months of March and April. Intense, but it is not like it is going to go on and on for months and months. Yes, it will ruin any plans we could have made for Spring Break. Yes, we have had to cancel two trips to visit friends and family in the desert. But in general, this is a good year to do it. McK is not yet in HS and does not yet go to Seminary. We are not on any sports teams with the accompanying practices and games that are so time consuming. Having been in a few things throughout the years, I also knew that experiences like this were very bonding. It will be like fast-forwarding through time on the making-friends issues. Actually, we are all making friends, but this will definitely be a bonding thing and there are lots of nice people to bond with.

Because of the sacred nature and commitment, McK and Mad (and I) are each using this experience as one of their Young Women Value projects. The new program has 7 values that are each supposed to include a (minimum) 10 hour project. This will easily fit the criteria for several areas, but the girls are planning to use it for Individual Worth. Another feature of the program is that moms are encouraged to work with their daughters to earn the YW Recognition for themselves. I figured with four girls, I am too invested. I will work the program with the two older and by the time Madison is out I will have two more to work with. So here I am, full circle, once again working on my Personal Progress.

Maya was also interested. They told me they only cast children with a parent and so I ended up in the mix as well. We went to auditions, which were open to all of the two regions in Las Vegas. We all had to sing and read lines from a script. Maya "nailed it" and is the youngest member of the cast. After three days of auditioning and call backs, they cast our little group in the play. The girls assumed they put everyone in it that tried out until we met the cast members last night and realized our cast is not that large. It is truly an honor that they wanted us. (Monterey is too young.) We are in it only a little bit, but that is fine with us, since we have never even seen it before.

They have also asked me to be the Prop Manager so I will have duties in the performance and back stage. I am not sure why the director asked me to do it. She only met me three times before. I am on the Production Team with several people who work on shows doing costumes and sound and sets and make-up and hair on the actual Strip. So needless to say, I was sitting in the meeting while everyone (about 10 of us) were doing intros feeling like a schmuck. "Hi, I'm Lisa. I have no experience, I just moved here four months ago, and I have never seen the production. I don't know what I'm doing, but I am willing to learn." The director said "she had a real good feeling" about me. So far so good. I unpacked all the props from storage and I try to act like I know what I am doing. There are lots of things to organize. A few things to buy, a few things to make. Mostly keeping track of things and always knowing where everything is and make sure it is put back where it belongs. Gosh, it sounds a lot like what I do at home except I can't slack off for a week and watch my home turn into a pig sty. So I go down to the rehearsal warehouse and try to look like I know what I am doing and hope for the best. Both McKayla and Madison will be assisting me in prop management as well.

Here is the background of the production: http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,7174-1,00.html

The tickets can be purchased on the website: https://www.savioroftheworld.info/Tickets.aspx There is a strict age requirement of eight and up and no infant/babies are allowed at the performance. (Even Monterey cannot come.)

So that is what we are doing every Sunday night (music rehearsal for the cast) and Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday nights. The second week in April, we add in Friday nights and Saturdays. Already, we can see that our testimonies are being strengthened. We start with spiritual thoughts and prayers, we end with a testimony from a cast member. We hear songs and scriptures and truths. Rehearsals are pretty wonderful. Certainly, I can think of worse ways for young teens to spend four nights a week.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why no updates?

So ... some of you might have noticed that I am in a bit of a blogging lull. It is not that I don't have the time. That never stopped me before. I have often chosen to get something off my chest over a shower. (Much to the chagrin of those who are forced to live with me.) Maybe nothing is going on in my life. Again not true. We have plenty of things going on, humorous little tidbits, spiritual experiences, and ah-ha moments. Maybe my facebook habit has overcome my blogging? No, there are clear lines to distinguish the two. Facebook is for keeping in touch and blogging is about my journal, our history, connecting with those who love us. (That implies that if you do not love us, get the blankety-blank off my blog!) Which actually brings me to my point. Read on.

Recently there was an incident. (Don't try to find it, because it has been deleted.) In this incident, I responded inappropriately to a situation, I was called out behind my back, and I apologized because I was, indeed, wrong. However, the idea that I was called out behind my back kind of shook me up. Do I put my ideas, opinions, and feelings out there subject to others' scrutiny? Or do I shut up, keep to myself, and over-analyse everything I write on my blog and other's blogs from every point of view? I am not afraid of others discovering that I am not perfect. I think that is rather obvious. It is the idea that someone would read my blog or comments on another blog WITH THE INTENTION of finding my flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections. Or equally bothersome, that someone would read it and look for ways to be offended. That the purpose of my blog is to bag on someone in a thinly veiled monologue that others would see as neutral or benign but that one person would know that I was secretly attacking them.

Ryan's solution? Well, he had two. Make my blog private. My response: gag. I literally threw-up. I did, in fact, have the stomach flu, however, no way. (To any who have private blogs: some of you have incredibly good reasons and I would do the same in your situation. But in general "private blog" is as much an oxymoron to me as jumbo shrimp.) If I am going to limit my blog to my 100 closest friends and relatives, I might as well just type it in regular word processing, add some pictures and then email it out. That's right: if you are in my exclusive club, I am going to force you to read every single word I write. I could do that. But the idea of MY blog is to openly share.

His other idea? To attack. Do a complete expose on any one that attacks me. Point out their flaws, failures, imperfections, stupid choices, and weaknesses. No mercy. Can you see why I love this man? I cannot do this. Although that was my modus operandi in middle school, I quickly learned that making other people feel bad, just 'cause I feel bad only makes me feel good for a moment, and then I feel worse. One of my favorite lines from Seinfeld? Jerry and George are talking about atomic wedgies and Elaine is trying to understand the reason for engaging in such a silly stunt. So Jerry asked her what the girls did to each other. Her response? We just teased them until they developed eating disorders. So true. Girls can be so brutal. But I digress. I am not going to attack anyone. Not my style. I had a boss, a principal, at a school who always said: Give them enough rope and let them hang themselves. Everyone always does, you know.

So there you have it. I have blogging-block. I can't write if I have to analyze every little word and how it is going to be interpreted. I don't want to write if I have to please others, impress others, interpret others. I get no pleasure out of that type of writing. If you don't like my stuff, don't read it. I assume there is not a crazed man roaming the countryside at night, sneaking into your home and forcing you to read every word at gunpoint. Of course, if that is the case, I am sorry. But I still think your anger and frustration should be directed at the crazed man roaming the countryside and not at me.

If you do have issues, I would love them to be addressed in the proper context. I am a big believer in appropriate places. For example, if I mess up on facebook, I should apologize on facebook. If I make a mistake on a blog, I should apologize on my blog. If I am mean to your face, fix it to your face. If I attack you from a church pulpit, I should apologize from that same pulpit. You get the idea.

Do I portray my life as too perfect? Do I try to sugar coat things? Do I leave out all the negativity and hurt or do I put them all on display? I try to be honest. I would love to be the mother-of-the-year, but I fear I am usually out of the running by Jan. 3rd. I would love to be able to share my political feelings, but I fear contention. I would love to be completely honest and raw about family and friend squabbles, but I try to respect peoples' privacy. I try not to air out dirty laundry. Oh where, oh where is the answer? If I stop blogging, then I let other people control that too. And they win.

Ultimately, I have to go back to my reasons, my motivations, my purpose. So if you want to read something witty, read this or this. If you want to see some talent, here is a good one. If you want to look at beautiful people. check out this one. Or try any others on my sidebar. They are the blogs of the people I love. (Disclaimer: occasionally I leave comments I regret.) On this blog you will see blurry pictures from a crappy camera. On this blog you will see blurry people who are trying, but who are flawed. Occasionally, you will see hope, a good idea, inspiration, a clever perspective, a nicely frosted cookie. You might cry, laugh with us (or at us) or get frustrated. You might wish you were me or my daughter or drop to your knees and thank the Lord you are not.

Thank you very much. This has been very therapeutic. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. I feel progress has been made.