Thursday, June 24, 2010

The One With Something Old and Something New

As it turns out, they weren’t actually married. At least not in the eyes of the State of California. But one should not put the horse before the carriage.

Once upon a time (three years ago, today) in the beautiful land of Newport Beach, a beautiful princess married her Prince Charming, and they set about very busily living happily ever after. The prince was finishing his first year of UCLA Law School. We are not permitted to disclose his grades (all A’s with one A+… you did not hear it here), but one might say that the prince was wise and studious. So, they were living happily ever after. Which, incidentally was going quite well, until one fateful day when the princess needed to obtain a California Driver’s License.

The prince and princess had been selected to rule over a fair portion of the UCLA graduate student housing in lawless downtown Los Angeles, but in order to secure the throne and reap the income thereof, they each had to produce a valid California Driver’s License. Sadly, Princess Jessica was only in possession of a most inferior Utah license. So she set out one day on a quest for the elusive little card… to the dark and evil kingdom spoken of only in hushed whispers to scare little children… known as the DMV. The princess brought her marriage certificate which had been given to her by the Newport Beach temple, along with her other identifying papers, and after braving hordes of angry peasants and fire-breathing employees with the one-year-old crown prince balanced squarely on her hip, she presented the royal documents to Window 24. And then Window 13. And hours later, Window 5. And there, the wicked witch cackled with glee and informed her that in the kingdom of DMV, they do not accept marriage certificates… only marriage licenses. Without a marriage license, the princess would not be recognized as part of the royal family.

The pregnant princess was exhausted as she and Crown Prince Jif arrived back at the castle after a frustrating day, but the next morning they set out on the quest once again, this time to the Dreaded Courthouse in the kingdom of the County of Orange, where she hoped to purchase a certified copy of the license, provenance of her royal marriage. Once again, there was a confusing array of windows. Endless lines. Many, many fire-breathing dragons, and a coven of wicked witches and wizards. After several hours of standing in those lines and facing down witches and wizards and dragons, Crown Prince Jif, who had recently learned how much he likes to run, and who did not wish to sit in the royal pram or be held any longer, began to cry. One of the wicked witches with a particularly heinous wart on her nose told the princess that she would have to leave because the crown prince was crying! The princess joined him and began to cry herself. After several hours in the Dreaded Courthouse, the princess was given the terrible news. It seems that the royal marriage license had been misplaced somewhere between the Dreaded Courthouse and the beautiful Newport Beach Temple where she was married. Perhaps it had been intercepted by thieves on the treacherous road, or perhaps simply lost by the inept postal service, but either way, the license was nowhere to be found. According to the law of the land, the poor unfortunate princess was not even truly wed.

Day three of the increasingly desperate quest dawned gray and threatening rain, and the prince had to forgo a day of his education in order to join the princess’ quest to obtain a new license from the land of California… this time, in their county of residence, the lawless and degenerate kingdom known as Los Angeles County. The prince and princess had to produce two witnesses who would swear that they had been present at the alleged wedding some three years before, so the prince’s parents braved the busy thoroughfares and countless highwaymen to reach the dungeon known as the County Courthouse in Norwalk, where they hoped to come to the aid of the weary prince and princess, who had so recently and embarrassingly found themselves unwed. Dozens of brides and grooms waited in the endless lines there in the dungeon. The lines, apparently cursed with a wicked and powerful enchantment, seemed never to move, and as soon as one finished at Window A, then she had to get in line at Window C, and at each window she was greeted by condescending toads who made her fill out more and more forms, which they would then type up with their evil enchanted toad fingers and send her to yet another window.

The wicked toads forced the prince and princess and their witnesses to swear solemn oaths, and then they were obligated to purchase another license for ninety gold pieces, even though it was the Dreaded Courthouse who had lost the first license. They told the princess that if she wanted to receive the license in an expedited manner, some nine days’ hence, that she was required to travel to the inept postal service and seek an Express Mail envelope for the mailing. The prince frugally, but incorrectly purchased a Priority Mail envelope for $4.95 instead of an Express Mail envelope. After all, the envelope was only to travel a short distance to the castle. A single First Class stamp would ensure one-day delivery. But no... the princess was informed that if they used a Priority Mail envelope, it would take six weeks to receive the coveted license. So they traveled back to the inept postal service to make the purchase. Inept though the postal service may be, it seems that they had found a very effective way to extort extra funds, as they were apparently in collusion with the dungeon guards.

There were probably two hundred souls bartering with the evil toads for licenses there at the dungeon that day, and given the fact that there were five of the royal family there, one could conservatively figure that 98 percent or so were Latino. Princess Jessica was by no means the only pregnant bride. But she was probably the only one who did not exit the lovely chapel adorned with silk flowers and bathroom wallpaper, wearing a very short, tight strapless white dress with plenty of cleavage spillover. The princess bride wore denim, and the wedding was toasted with frosty mugs at A&W… the feast: cheese curds and hamburgers, which, miraculously, the pregnant princess managed not to vomit immediately thereafter.

And so once again, the prince and princess were married in the eyes of the land. The crown prince was once again the legitimate heir to the throne, and they were free to live happily ever after, ruling over their fair portion of the UCLA Graduate Student Housing, plunging toilets in the middle of the night or unlocking doors for those peasants who find themselves without. And, indeed, they are doing just that, on this third anniversary of their first marriage. Their second marriage is the stuff of legends… known only by a few, and documented by just a single photo:

Happy anniversary!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Useful One

Dillon is looking for a job. Just a summer job. The kid is only 17. It has long been DK’s dream that one of the boys would shoot for the stars and land a job at Quizno’s. For obvious reasons. So it got me to thinking. I have always thought that if you could pick careers for your kids, you should pick useful ones. You need one doctor. One mechanic. One dentist (preferably one that does orthodontia). But I have seven kids… and eventually they will all have spouses, right? I have something like 14 to pick out. So here is the master list.

1. Dishwasher
2. Cranberry bog worker (the outfit is super cool)
3. House painter
4. Pastry chef
5. Movie theater manager
6. Apple store employee
7. Owns a pickup (I know that’s not an occupation, but it is useful, bordering on vital)
8. Massage therapist
9. Piano tuner
10. Race car driver (in case you need to get somewhere fast)
11. Balloon animal maker
12. Beekeeper
13. Bail bondsperson
14. Hair colorist

And I guess I don’t care so much about the doctor, the dentist and the mechanic. We’ll get by.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The One With the Muffins (or, What’s Been Eating Victoria)

This morning I was having my first lazy day in quite awhile. I was actually doing a crossword puzzle, while waiting for clothes to finish in the dryer… when I heard the doorbell. I went downstairs to find a friend at the door. She was bearing muffins from Cinnamon Productions, our favorite breakfast spot, and she was wielding them like a weapon... one designed to get her in the front door for a sort of intervention.

She informed me, in the nicest way possible, that when I don’t post on my blog for weeks on end, that people worry and they don’t know what is going on with me, and she, for one, is tired of waiting for me to snap out of it, and tired of wondering if I am languishing in despair over here. I’m not (but she is not the only one who has been asking me...).

I am not promising regular posts. But I can’t resist me a good muffin, so here goes. On the menu tonight, some total honesty. I would like to say I have just been too busy to post. It is true in its way. I have been a very busy girl. I have been working at an actual job, which doesn’t go over very well with me, since I decided when I was about 20 that I was done having anyone else boss me around. My attitude will probably ensure that I will not work there too long. I have had a busy time with my church jobs. Not only do I teach my cute 10-year-old girls every Sunday, but I am also what is called Activity Day Leader for about ten girls from ages 9-11, and I get to plan activities for them. This past weekend I planned a daddy-daughter campout for them, and got nine girls and their dads out to O’Neill Park for a great campout complete with Dutch oven peach cobbler, hobo pies, foil dinners and s’mores… along with a raging fire that probably should have brought the park rangers at a run. So yes, I have been busy. I could use that excuse.

I could say that I just don’t have anything interesting to say. I don’t really treat my blog like a journal… certainly not a daily one. I also generally only post a recipe because someone has requested it, or because I just completely lack in anything exciting to talk about. It is hard for me to understand why anyone would want to read about my life. It is not super exciting. And I really don’t like to be uninteresting.

But the real reason I have not been blogging, is that I don’t like to say everything is just great, when it doesn’t feel just great. I also don’t like to be a total downer and complain about things, because let’s be honest here… I have a pretty great life. I have an amazing family and friends and I don’t have much to complain about. But the truth is, for the last while I have not felt like things were going just how I want them to. And when I get on the blog and act like they are, then it starts sounding all fake and forced, and I really get annoyed if I notice that I don’t sound like myself. So I opted to just stop blogging for awhile, rather than do that.

So what has been eating Victoria, you ask? It is pretty simple. It is my music. Last year at the beginning of the year, I said I was making a CD. A Christmas CD. It was going to be great. I had a whole year to do it. And then opposition set in, and discouragement, and road blocks, followed by hand injuries. Suddenly it was September, and I got back on track to make a CD, and only had two months to do it. Pretty ridiculous. The only thing that saved me was the fact that everything fell into place. The singers I wanted made themselves available at short notice. Instrumentalists. Things I had no idea how to do on the computer… suddenly revealed themselves to me. Divine intervention is the only possible explanation… and I felt it every step of the way for two sleepless months. And I completed that CD.

I could take a break for a year or two. I know that. But I also knew back in January of this year, that I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make another CD. I wanted it to be better production quality. I learned so much making that first one, and I know a lot of ways to improve on what I did. I didn’t know what kind of CD I needed to make exactly, but I had the distinct impression that Heavenly Father was telling me that I had more to do. And now. So I told myself… and a few others… that I was making another. “And guess what,” I said. “This time, no messing around. No self-doubt. No winding paths with dangerous detours. This time I would focus, work all year, and no last-minute crunches for me.”

And then life set in. Discouragement. Opposition. Self-doubt. Lack of inspiration. Lack of direction. Do you know how much easier it would be if God would just tell me to write a book? I am not saying I could get one published… but seriously, it would be so much easier to tackle a project if I only had to motivate and organize one person: myself. Doing a CD is more like herding cats. It requires the help and cooperation of multiple other people to sing and play instruments and come and record, sometimes late at night and for way too many hours, for no pay. They can get discouraged and tired too. They have busy lives. They may not want to help me at all. I can’t control any of that.

So I finally realized a couple of months ago the direction that I wanted to go with the music. But I kept hitting a brick wall, whenever I tried to figure out the idea for the actual CD. Then a couple of weeks ago, I prayed. I fasted. I felt a lot of anguish in my heart, knowing that I was supposed to be doing something with this music, but not knowing the direction to go. I got an answer! I knew what had to be on the CD. I knew the sound I was looking for. Not only that, but I know I can do this. I have a lot of the confidence back. Yes, it is always a little out of my comfort zone, but I have faith that the miracles can happen again. I can make this. It was not an idea for a commercial CD, but for a collection of uplifting songs and hymns with a particularly Victoria slant.

As soon as I knew what I wanted to do, and with whom, and how, then songs started to come into my head. Three really great ones, just over the past few weeks! I was so excited, that I contacted a professional violinist that records with a lot of great artists, and asked her if she might be interested in helping, once I got the vocals done. Not only was she willing and able, but she was super excited to be on the CD, and offered to do a trade… she would play for me, if I would play for a project or two for her. Sweet!

But here I am now some three weeks later, and would you believe… I am hitting that same old brick wall again, headfirst. My poor head is getting sore. I don’t know what to do about it, and I will admit to you that it has made my heart hurt even more. It feels as though once again, like so many times over the last few months, the very wind has been sucked out of my sails, and I am plummeting head over heels toward some very sharp rocks. I should be clear here: I will not hit those rocks. I will be fine. The music… it is just one part of my life, not my whole life. But it is the sore spot. It is the place where I bit my tongue, and every time I talk or try to eat, I can feel that sore spot, and I remember it again. It hurts, and it sucks the fun out. It is what makes me feel like sometimes I am just going through the motions.

So I am kind of back to square one. This CD is going in the drawer of doom, along with the failed songs and the half-baked ideas from the last many months. I don’t know what is next. I do believe that the inspiration was real. But just because I get inspired doesn’t mean that everything else just falls into place. John Mayer says, “No it won’t all go the way it should, but I know the heart of life is good.” It is. So I will keep playing around with writing, and believe me, my life is filled with plenty of things that keep me more than just busy. I will try to blog about some of them. I told my friend that it would not be too much trouble to write a few lines every couple of weeks. This is long enough that it should probably cover me for the next month.

I wish one of you could just fix my problem. Maybe demolish some of those brick walls I keep hitting. It really doesn’t work that way, though. I have to be a little more patient for everything to work out. And it always does work out. And I may not be quite myself, but I am also not sitting around crying. In fact, I have had a totally great day. The sore spot is still there, but for now I’m just trying not to touch it quite so often.