Feb 27, 2013

Dear Baby E: You're a GIRL!

So, guess what baby? We found out today that you are a GIRL! I know, this is old news to you, but very exciting news to us. This means that I can now start buying all sorts of things that will ensure my place as favorite aunt.

I do have to admit, I was pretty adamant that you were going to be a boy. I just had a feeling, ever since your mommy and daddy got married, that their first child would be male. But finding out I was wrong does not make me disappointed at all! I called your grandma and grandpa (my mom and dad) today to talk to them about something not really related to you and therefore not important, and I said, "So, did sis call you?" Grandma kept saying no, and I felt really bad because I thought maybe I had let the cat out of the bag and your mommy was planning a big reveal. And then I hear Grandpa in the background say, "Oh, sis called today!" Five hours before! Grandpa had forgotten to tell grandma she was getting a granddaughter! Silly guy.

I guess I should give you a little advice about being a girl. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of differing opinions of how a girl should be, how she should act, and where her place is in society. Don't pay any attention to any of them. You find out who you are and you stick with it. Don't change for anyone, except yourself. You can be and do anything you want, and your family will support you in your endeavors.

I'm very excited to meet you baby girl! You are halfway ready (which is probably more than your mom can say)! In just over four months, we get to see you and hold you!

Feb 19, 2013

Conversations with my Mom

For President's Day, I went home after church on Sunday and spent the night and the holiday with my parents. One of the best things of being around my parents, is that I can just talk to them about things as I think of them. Another "best thing" is that I can just be and still be loved.

It's hard to do this with a phone--I can't be calling home whenever something pops in my head that I want to talk about, or when I do call home I don't even think about certain things. But while I was home this weekend, I got to talk to my mom about things happening in my life right now, and about whatever we happened to talk about.

One of the conversations we had lead to us talking about how I was when I was a kid (I'm not exactly sure how we got on this subject, but I think some of the previous conversation involved the 3-year-olds my mom teaches at church, what my siblings were like in utero, introvertedness, and making friends). Something I found really interesting was how my personality was so apparent at such a young age. Though I have changed and grown, the core of my personality was there. My mom talked about how I never just jumped into things, but instead observed first--which is exactly what I do. I feel that I spend a lot of time just observing the interactions of others, instead of just jumping into the fray of social situations. When I mentioned that I was always confused as a kid when my mom would say that I "made friends easily" because I never felt that was true, my dad jumped in and said, "You were always  friendly." Which is something I still try to be, though sometimes I feel that I may come off as aloof because I'm not as social as some others.

It was kind of nice to learn that I've always been the pretty much the same, and that the way I am isn't something new and different.

Feb 8, 2013

Doctor Who Workout

Last month I started my Doctor Who workouts, so I decided to give a little bit of an update.

First off, I still don't like exercising. I have to really talk myself into working out every day after work. It is made a bit easier by watching Doctor Who. This being said, I have noticed some differences, both physical and mental. I just feel better about myself. I don't think I necessarily have a more toned stomach or arms. But I feel better about those things. The days when I don't work out (or the week when I only worked out once), I definitely feel grosser about my body, and am more inclined to have a lower self image. Who would have thought?! I liked my body before I started working out, at least, I thought I did. I don't get as many headaches as I used to--which could probably also be fixed by taking frequent breaks from sitting at work. But one of the biggest emotional advantages I've noticed is a little bit less anxiety when I work out. In fact, this week, I have/had a couple of stressors and I even started thinking "I should work out, maybe that will help my anxiety about [thing]." Weird. Must be the whole endorphin thing. Good to know I won't be killing my [nonexistent] husband.

Second, I'm probably going to be keeping this up. I might even try to do it more than the 1 to 4 times a week. That's the thing, I haven't been very consistent at it, so I'm going to try to do that better. Also, certain episodes just aren't that great to workout to. I watched one and I only did ten jumping jacks and ten crunches. It was pretty lame, so I need to watch out for that.

So, that's my little update. I'm still not an workout fanatic, but I am seeing some changes in myself.

Feb 6, 2013

Characters: Hawkeye Pierce

I've been thinking a lot about characters, especially since I've started the second draft of my novel (chapter one is done!!). Mostly I've been thinking about what makes a good character, and the kind of characters I think are good characters. This leads to questions like, What is the characters motivation? Why does the character react the way they do? Do you feel attached to the character (whether in a good or bad way)? Is the character believable?

Which leads me to the character of Hawkeye Pierce on "MASH." There are so many characters in literature, film, and TV that are fantastic, but I recently watched an episode of MASH that impressed on me just how good of a character Hawkeye is.

Before I go into the specific episode, I just want to talk about Hawkeye. At first glance, he's a sarcastic, light hearted prankster. He makes jokes while in surgery, and seems to live his life to drive his tent mate crazy. But the more you watch, the more you realize that the jokes are really just a cover, that he actually feels for humanity, and is deeply affected by the war and what he sees.

This brings me to the episode that I feel shows the character of Hawkeye Pierce the best. It's from season 4 and called "The Late Captain Pierce." In this episode, Hawkeye, through some clerical mistake, is declared dead. At first Hawkeye takes full advantage of that--refusing to work, and hosting his own wake, among others. Then, when he can't seem to reverse the declaration, he becomes worried about his dad back at home thinking he's dead. In frustration, at the end of the episode, he climbs onto a morgue bus and lies down, saying he's dead so he might as well leave. This culminates in the part of the episode that made me cry.

BJ gets on the bus to try and reason with Hawkeye, to which Hawkeye responds: "I'm tired of death. I'm tried to death." And then this:

[Choppers approaching]
Hawkeye: [sighing] Wounded.
BJ: Klinger says a lot.
Hawkeye: I don't care. I really don't. They'll keep coming whether I'm here or not. Trapper went home, they're still coming. Henry got killed and they're still coming. Wherever they come from, they'll never run out.

This one scene shows just how downtrodden the war has made Hawkeye. All of the joking is a front, something he can hide behind, something that keeps him sane, but then there are times when he is reminded just what it all means. The wounded will keep coming, and he'll have to keep working on them, watching some of them die while sending others back out to fight some more.

This is why I think Hawkeye is a great character--he's complex, with his jokes and his sad moods, the things he fights for, and his sarcasm; he's got a history, a family back home, and education, and friends; and he's empathetic. The trick to making a good character is making sure that they have depth, instead of just one side. Not only are shallow characters boring to read, but they are unbelievable as well.

I'm not a professional writer, but I try my hand at it and I read like crazy, so this isn't any kind of professional advice, just my own little musings.

Feb 3, 2013

Sunday Special: Acceptance

Acceptance is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I think everyone in the world knows that if we just accepted people for who they are, instead of judging them, or getting offended, life would be a lot better.

The thing that started me on this thought of acceptance happened this last December. Some young people in my apartment complex decided to go Christmas caroling, and I joined them. In the course of our caroling, we sang for both a Muslim family and a Jewish woman. In both cases, we were graciously accepted and thanked. Instead of feeling offended that we would sing Christian songs to them for a Christian holiday, they accepted what we were doing as a good turn towards our neighbors. And I hope that in turn, I would be so accepting if one of my none Christian neighbors did something similar. 

So, that's what got me started thinking about acceptance. I have this theory about descriptors and definers, and that sometimes we allow one descriptor of a person to become their definition. So, just because I'm a Utahn (decriptor), does not mean that's all I am and that I fit into all of the stereotypes that come with being a Utahn (definition). I feel like that was something I came across a lot when I was at university--that I was how I was because I was Utahn (or even that I was ways that in reality I wasn't but no one was willing to see that once they learned I was from Utah), when in reality, there are so many things that make up who I am. How much would we miss out on by just deciding that one thing we learn or see about a person is all there is to him or her? 

The first thing we need to accept is that people aren't always who we assume. Then, once we learn more about then, we need to accept them for who they are. I work in an environment where when the conversation turns a certain way, I feel a little out of place since I tend to be on the more "unpopular" side of the issue. But I still feel accepted by the people I work with, because they realize that 1) I'm entitled to my own opinions, and 2) that one issue isn't all I am. 

I almost feel like we live in an age that would rather thrive on differences than acceptance. It's seems like so many news stories involve someone getting offended over a difference in opinion. Even if we don't like someone's opinion, shouldn't we just accept that they are entitled to whatever opinion they want?

This just seems like a lot of rambling, which I'm sorry for. It seems like my last few posts have just been rambling, but I just felt the need to write a Sunday Special today, so there you go. Just be accepting of each, and be kind.

Feb 1, 2013

January Book of the Month

So, I thought maybe I would try something different this year. At the end of every month, I'll highlight the best book I read that month. January's Book of the Month is The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

The Name of the Star is a murder mystery/ghost story. It takes place in London (which automatically earns a book brownie points) and it about an American girl going to boarding school in Whitechapel, London, when someone starts copy-catting the Jack the Ripper murders.

I've read several of Johnson's books before, and I love her characters. They are quirky and witty, all of them feeling unique from each other. (I'd highly recommend also reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Johnson as well.) I do think this book deserves a "scary warning." I was totally fine reading this during the day, but it seemed the scary parts always came when I was reading in bed before going to sleep. There was one particular night where I hovered between wakefulness and sleep, with the thoughts of murderers on my mind. But I'm a wimp when it comes to scary things. I also think that shows that this book isn't too scary, as I kept on reading it.

I find the Jack the Ripper murders strangely fascinating (I definitely have a morbid side to me, of the curiosity sort [no matter I have tried writing that sentence it always came out sounding wrong. So, I'm just leaving it at that]), so this book definitely piqued my interest on many levels: YA fic, London, Ripperology, and good characters.

All I can say it head over to your local library and check out this book!