Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The One With Craig, Megan and the Randomalia

This morning, true confessions.

First of all, I just have to get this out. I have never been able to distinguish properly between Craig’s List and Megan’s List. I realize now (don’t ask me how) that it is an important distinction. But it is not totally my fault. I know a Craig and a Megan, and they are married to each other. They probably each have their own lists, as well. Be that as it may, I was a little horrified when some nice lady from church mentioned that she had a current listing on Craig’s List. She always seemed so nice. I suppose they usually do. I saw a similar look of horror when I showed someone the studio monitor speakers I had bought from a guy in Irvine I found on Megan’s List. Even as I am typing this, I am not positive I remember which is which, so for now I think it is probably safer that I stick with eBay.

This one is not my confession, but Dillon’s. Apparently yesterday in Seminary, he whipped out a pair of underwear. Not his own. Also not really his fault. Dillon, who is 17, is the nicest big brother in the world, and still shares a room with Skippy even though he doesn’t have to… mainly because Skippy wants to. Dillon even does Skippy’s laundry along with his own, and when he pulled his clean sweatshirt out of his backpack at Seminary, a pair of 6x Spiderman boxer briefs fell out of it, right onto the floor. Dillon says he jumped on them so fast, he doesn’t think anyone else saw. (So I thought I would share it just in case.)

Last but not least, I had a really weird beach experience last week, which I have been pondering ever since. I think that the next time I go, I am going to take my own “PROHIBITED” sign. The sign would include, but not be limited to, the following:

No old men in thongs
No public urination (ten feet from where I park my towel)
No asking for bongs. Bring your own, or do without.
No reenactments of “Endless Love” with girls under 14
No wearing your nasty briefs instead of swim trunks
No lying on top of each other, especially if you are unattractive to begin with (sorry if that one sounds discriminatory)
No No NO lying on top of each other if you are the aforementioned guy wearing the briefs instead of a swimsuit. I’m serious, Fruit of the Loom... give it a rest.
No playing of guitar and singing after consuming too much alcohol, or if you are tone-deaf, or both

That’s pretty much it. I am not that hard to please. Thank you for helping to keep the beach happy for all of us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The One About My Hands

I went with two friends to the temple in Newport Beach last week. I really like to go by myself. I know that sounds selfish, but I love the time in my car by myself to think about things, and to contemplate and ponder. I love the quiet in the temple with just my own thoughts. But I have become somewhat of a hermit lately, and I suppose it is time to try to break out of that. I just knew that I really needed to go that day.

I sat by my friends before we left to go home. We whispered until a nice lady showed us somewhere where we would be more quiet:). We were still wearing white, and sitting on the benches in the dressing room. One of my friends was struggling with a difficult family situation. I watched her hands as she wiped away tears that were streaming down her face. I looked down at my own hands. I have never had beautiful hands, but there is something about the fluorescent lighting in the temple, that makes all of my scars from the past eighteen months show up, like white under a black light. My burns from last year look sort of purple. I see a deep scratch from last month along the back of my left hand. And there is my poor misshapen finger, with a knuckle red and shiny because the skin is pulled tight over it. No, definitely not beautiful hands.

And yet… here in this place I have just received the most amazing blessings to be found anywhere on this earth… they tell me I am strong enough to bear all the burdens, capable enough to finish all my tasks. My mind is clear, and my hands can do this.

I love hands.

I remember holding my dad’s enormous hands, with all their scars and cuts from being a glazier for forty years. His hands were huge and the strongest I have ever felt. Sometimes it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I won’t ever get to hold his hand again in this life. I love my dad so much, and I miss him.

I remember my second date with Kevin some 27 years ago… we went to a play on BYU campus. We didn’t kiss that night, but the way he held my hand during that play was this total weak-in-the-knees, out-of-body experience, where I knew that I actually loved him, even though I had only known him for a single week (don’t worry… I didn’t actually tell him that for a couple more months… haha!).

I adore baby hands. Sixteen years ago, when Dillon was only a year old, he contracted RSV, and they put him in a crib in the hospital that was really more like a tall cage from the circus. They tented the crib with oxygen, and he had to stay in there so I couldn’t hold him. Of course he was sick, miserable and terrified. But I could put my hand through the rails of the cage and hold his hand, and as long as I did that, he didn’t cry... so I sat there all night long holding his little hands through the bars. I can still remember how his one-year-old hands felt, how tightly he held on, how he knew he had to be brave.

There is a sweet lady at church named Marjean. I think the first time I ever met her was when I played the organ for her husband’s funeral three or four years ago. I love Marjean, and I don’t know why, but she lights up whenever she sees me. She says, “Oh, Victoria, my favorite person in the world!”  She gives me a huge hug, and then grabs my hand to pull me down to sit next to her, She has beautiful soft hands, and I love her like my own grandma.

Looking down at my scars in the lights of the temple, I don’t know why my hands seem to get hurt all the time lately, but it doesn’t change anything. I can still do what I need to do. I don’t know if anyone else even remembers those times, but I will never forget them, or the love and admiration that I feel for my friends and family. Hands are my favorite.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The One Where There is Spring in the Hair

LOOK at what I found awaiting me this morning in my e-mail! Yes… you too can wear a bird’s nest in your hair. Don’t get me wrong… I love J.Crew. You know how there are just certain stores that fit you? J. Crew is my go-to for just about everything except dresses and skirts. Just maybe not hats. Not that I was a hat person anyway, but lately my hair has looked a little like a bird’s nest, without any help from J.Crew. I don’t need any bag-lady fashion to help me along.

Oh, and if I am going to actually buy a bird’s nest, it is going to be this one filled with chocolate truffle-filled eggs, like this one from Williams-Sonoma... which I also found in my e-mail. It must be spring, you think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The One Where He Almost Got to Stay Home

Skippy, time to get up, buddy.

Who is home?

Just you and I.

Where is Casey?

With Edo.


Just left for Catalina.

It is just you and me?


Well, I could sleep for just one day, and go to school the other days.

You better go to school, Skip…

We could have popcorn…

Hmm, that is true. We could have popcorn.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The One Where She Couldn’t Take It

Cam is packing for Cherry Cove, Catalina Island. She leaves tomorrow. She informed me this morning that she is not allowed to bring a spear gun, chewing gum, sheep knives or sunflower seeds. I don’t even know what a sheep knife is. But she is upstairs reluctantly unpacking her spear gun as we speak.

Okay, so apparently she said SHEATH knives... that makes a lot more sense. I think.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Overnight One

I got to keep Jif overnight on Friday, whilst his parents went camping to celebrate the beginning of UCLA Law School spring break. Jessi has been very jealous of law school, and has been counting the days until Josh would not talk about homework or writing or the finer points of the law, and would just pay undivided attention to her. So I got Jif, and he was highly entertaining, never cried, and slept, well... like a baby, for lack of a better term.

At sunset, we ran over to the lake to snap some pictures. I took Cambria as baby wrangler, and it was all we could do to keep up with him, as he was determined to run everywhere, and to scare every duck in the neighborhood, and to plunge headlong into the lake. We did manage to keep him from doing that last thing, but most of the photos ended up being of his back as he ran away at full speed. However, I did get a few goodies...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The One With the Bloggy Chain Letter

I started catching up on blogs yesterday, and found that Tauna over at the Garden of Egan, bestowed a little bloggy award, and I was one of the recipients. Tauna is a new friend, a nurse, and puts the “fun” in dysfunction. Thank you ever so…

The rules of the award are: List seven things about yourself. Link back to the person that gave you the award. Pass the award on to seven bloggers.

Given the fact that a) you already know way more random details about me and my life than anyone probably should and b) I am feeling snarky as usual, I have decided instead to give you seven of my random opinions today. In no particular order.

1. I think that there are some people in the world whose primary contribution is decoration. I salute those people. I enjoy looking at them. In most cases, the upkeep is prohibitive, so I do not envy their job. And as I am not one of them, I need to figure out what my contribution is supposed to be right now. It’s a little confusing.

2. I don’t think that being a grandmother is better than being a mother. I am not in the market for any more babies, but seriously, how lazy do you have to be to think that the up-side is being able to send them home at the end of the visit?

3. I think it is possible to get through four years without even thinking about the president of the United States even one time. If the thought starts to cross my mind, I just think of food, and it passes. It has been over a year now, and I haven’t given old what’s-his-name a moment’s notice. Probably, politics will not be my primary contribution.

4. In a battle of dishwasher vs. clothes washer, the dishwasher is going to win every time. I would rather wear dirty clothes than eat off dirty dishes.

5. I have a new Facebook strategy that I am trying out. Every time I accept a new friend request, I have to “unfriend” someone on my friend list whom I don’t actually know (strangely, there are quite a few of those where I have no idea who they are, and we have no friends in common). It is like virtual recycling… the Facebook Circle of Life. Refreshing and environmentally friendly. If you’re reading this, and notice that you are no longer my Facebook friend, sorry... I couldn’t place your face. If you are reading this and you don’t know who I am, you are probably next to go.

6. I think it is kind of weird how people assign gender to inanimate objects. Like, why are boats feminine, for instance? I have known people who name their cars… and they are almost never male. Hurricanes always used to be women, but now, out of political correctness, they take turns wreaking devastation. In fact, I have been reading the book “Jesus, the Christ” by Talmage, and he actually refers to church in the feminine. How does that even work in languages where words are assigned gender? How can “el barco” be named Lola? I find it puzzling. That said, my washer is a boy, and my dishwasher is a girl, but don’t worry… one is kept upstairs, and the other down.

7. I noticed that today is National Goddess of Fertility Day. Wait. We have a day for that? Just a single day? I have devoted half my life to it. I have single-handedly beaten out most known methods of contraception. If I was a superhero, I would be the Goddess of Fertility. How do you fight bad guys as the Goddess of Fertility? If you have to ask that, you didn’t know me when I was pregnant. I could go from hungry, to starving, to just plain mean in under a minute. Don’t. Mess. With. That.

Thanks for playing... those are just the random opinions that floated through my mind this morning. You know there’s always more where that came from.

And now to nominate seven bloggers to carry on this bloggy equivalent of a chain letter:

Kristin: who is unfailingly nice and kind and even checks on me when I go missing for a few days at a time.

Carolyn: who has no time to do this, but might anyway, and even if she doesn’t, go check her out.

Shelley: who has time in the middle of the night to think about what she will say in the post, but may not get around to actually blogging it…

Debbie, who gives me the shivers. Actually, she just gave me the book, Shiver, which gave me the shivers.

Annie, who is adorable and just started her blog, and whom I have asked numerous times to marry one of my sons, because I am such a good mother-in-law. I will eventually wear her down. I have five boys left for her to choose from.

Jessi, the choosy mom who is the only person alive who could argue whether or not I am in actuality a good mother-in-law.

Rachel, my favorite Italian Signorina/singerina (sorry about the really lame play on words right there).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The One With Les Étoiles

I definitely did not give a proper explanation of my recording project, because I have had a lot of questions about who is doing the singing... and there is no singing.

About two months ago, Casey got a job with a telescope company. Yes, telescope. They produce something like a “talking telescope.” Basically, you point your telescope to one of the pre-determined points in the night sky, push a button, and a pleasant voice tells you what you are looking at. Maybe even tells you a short story from Greek mythology about that particular constellation or star, or whatever.

All of the spoken parts are in English, and they are in the process of translating them into Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese and Russian. The French had to be recorded this last weekend, because they are marketing the talking telescope in Costco Canada, and Costco Canada is not interested unless the French scripts are included. Casey was hired to translate the script into Spanish, and then record the Spanish, which should take place in the next week and a half. When he went in to talk to the executives about the job, he mentioned the possibility of using my “studio” to do the recording, and one of the execs had my Christmas CD, and was very excited that I might be able to do the job. It is exciting for me, too, because I can use my studio and make money doing it.

There were 400 separate files which had to be recorded and then meticulously named to match their English counterparts. This is what it sounded like (sorry if you can’t get this to work... I am having trouble with my mp3 hosting!):

I listened to that for about 22 hours. The 24-year-old guy who did the recording did almost 90% of the recordings in one take, and only once or twice required more than two. Pretty impressive. Et voilà… that is the whole story. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Noisy One

Today I made nine hours of French recordings, with another nine or ten to do tomorrow. And suddenly I was reminded why I made most of my CD recordings in the middle of the night.
When I listen to the mic through the headphones,
I hear
Skippy screaming with his friends on the trampoline
So many birds it reminds me of waking up in Hawaii
Bells at the elementary school
Two car alarms (or just one, twice?)
The front door slamming four times
Super Mario Brothers
A siren
A toilet flushing (too many times to count)
Dogs barking
An owl who ought to be asleep
The ice machine in the refrigerator
The phone ringing
A motorcycle three streets away
Casey taking a shower in the bathroom directly above our heads

I think I prefer to work in the quiet of the night. But now I am going to bed. After this day, I am seriously afraid I may dream en français…

(You should probably read this post in your best French accent... that is how I wrote it) 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The One Where it Isn’t Me This Time

Yeah. Not. My. Hand. Not this time. I have messed up my hands more in the last year than I have in the twenty before that. But this time it’s not me. It has been a week since I posted, because my life is boring, and this week has really been about everybody else, anyway.

So the burnt hand… belongs to this one:

I know the photo’s a little blurry. It’s an iPhone photo of a picture on the wall as you walk inside the band hall at the MCRD in San Diego, where LCpl. McD is the most junior band member. Yesterday, he cleared a huge hurdle, passing off the 32 songs he is required to memorize in his first month in the band. Most often, they don’t pass the first time, and paperwork follows them around for the ensuing month. So Ethan was extremely happy and relieved to pass. This is him playing on Friday... they did some pretty cool stuff. (He is clearly visible in this shot. Click it big, and maybe you can pick him out. Think French horn.)

So yesterday he passed his big test. And then this morning while ironing his uniform the iron fell on his hand and he has second-degree burns. He is SIQ today. Sick In Quarters. Believe me, I can feel for him… but it could have been worse. A lot of the guys in the barracks drink until they get stupid and start burning themselves on purpose with cigarette lighters.

Dillon sounds like he has pneumonia. He went to seminary this morning, but now I have to take him to the doctor for asthma meds.

This is a picture of something Skippy made me this week.

Do you know what it is? It is a window. So that I can watch him. Haha! I love that. I will just be sitting here working on music, and he will come in and say, “Mom, do you want me to bring you your window?” Awesome.

Cam is getting ready for a trip to Catalina Island to do science camp, kayaking, etc. at Cherry Cove.

I have a recording job coming up this weekend that looks to be pretty challenging. I may be pulling a couple of all-nighters to finish it. This is the third project that I am “producing” in my home studio. Yes, people pay me money to do it! How cool is that? This one is in French, so I probably won’t know what is going on half the time, but I am good at faking it.

I know, boring post. But look what I have to work with.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The One With the WOW Moment

Do you ever have those nights when you can’t shut your thoughts off to sleep? Sometimes that happens to me with music. Last night I couldn’t shut the music off. I think it started with American Idol last night. I can’t bring myself to watch the early rounds of Idol. I am not a fan of public humiliation. Even these earlier rounds of elimination are a little painful. But last night in one of the promo films, Simon Cowell told one of the girls that she was a good singer, but in the whole song there was nothing that made him just say, “Wow!” I realized that is why I watch the show, too. I am wishing… hoping… for that wow moment. It didn’t happen last night on Idol. Then I went to bed, and my own music started playing on that relelentless stereo of my brain. I arranged and rearranged. I wrote new songs and then tossed them. I tried to turn the music off, or at least down low enough to sleep, but with not much success. I finally had to come down and have a go at the keyboard for a while.

In the course of making my Christmas CD, I had a few wow moments. Honestly, probably more than my fair share. The most vivid one in my memory happened the day before Halloween, less than two weeks before the CD had to be completed. We were performing a rescue mission on a song which I had mostly decided to give up. We worked most of the afternoon and finished the first two verses of the song. I was happy... it was really good. Maybe not wow, but really good. We took a break, and when we returned, the tracks were simply gone! I don’t know if I didn’t save them right, accidentally deleted them… I just don’t know. I felt so bad I wanted to cry, but the vocalist just rolled up sleeves and said, “Let’s just do it better this time, then.” And for the next four hours, that is what we did. It was so much better that when the music poured through my headphones, it was electrifying. I found myself lip-synching, as though I could pour my own energy into the voice, and strangely, I would hear the sound come out exactly how I wanted. It was such a high that even though we were completely starving, we let pizza grow cold for two hours rather than take a break, and even after the recording was finished, I couldn’t stop editing it until 2:00 in the morning because I just had to keep listening to it over and over. I couldn’t even wipe the silly smile off my face. The instrumentals weren’t perfect. The performance was not flawless. I can still pick out parts that ought to be fixed. But that didn’t stop it from being just… wow.

I guess that is what keeps me up at night, even though I am going to pay for that today, since I have to cater a dinner for 100 tonight, and so there is no rest. I guess I just can’t help sitting on the edge of my seat along with Simon, looking for that wow moment. Those times make everything worth it. When was your last wow moment?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The One Where She Was Home Alone

Skippy and I are home alone. It is almost like being entirely alone, because he has discovered this weird game called Pikmin on Gamecube. The music alone is enough to put me into a sort of trance, so he has to play it upstairs. He wandered down a few minutes ago, though, and asked me, “Have you ever been home alone?” “Well, of course!” I told him. I laughed, because at Skippy’s age, he probably imagines that when he is not home, I just spend the day suspended in time, waiting for him to return.

But it did make me think. I almost never get to be home alone. Because Cambria is homeschooled, Casey works from home, and DK is self-employed, it almost never happens. In fact, it has only happened twice in the last year. I imagine there will come a day when I will wish I had more people home. I miss having my missionaries here. I miss my boys who have left home. But I do actually dream of having alone time in my own house.

The last time it happened, however, was a couple of weeks ago, and I found I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I played the piano loudly. I ate a pop-tart. And then I couldn’t come up with anything more profound. Maybe I’m not responsible enough to be home alone. It is good that Skippy is here… he is explaining to me the intricacies of The Cat in the Hat Came Back. And I do love a good sequel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The One With the Road Rage

Sorry... two churchy posts in a row. I promise tomorrow I will be irreverent to make up for it, but I just have to put this one out there. Yesterday our bishop (the pastor of our church) told a story that really hit me. He was getting on the freeway the other day, and as soon as he got on the on-ramp he saw that the freeway was not moving. He had about 100 feet to merge, and then he would run out of ramp. So he either had to merge or run off the road. No one would let him in, so he kind of cut someone off. After he did, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw that the person he cut off was NOT happy about it. In fact, the guy changed lanes and got next to Bishop Gregson and started shaking his fist at him and flipping him off, yelling obscenities. Bishop Gregson thought about it, and decided to try to turn away the anger with a gentle apology, and so he smiled at the man, and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” The funny thing is, if you know Bishop Gregson, you kind of think to yourself, that could have gone either way. He is patient, but doesn’t seem like the type to let people push him around, either. Not only that, but you should google “road rage.” You will find hundreds of pictures of people who get out of their cars and beat the daylights out of someone who cut them off.

What came next was an awkward few minutes when the freeway traffic did not move very much, and so he ended up driving alongside angry guy for some time. It was kind of embarrassing… you know what that is like... how you really don’t want to look over at this person that you have offended. But at one point he did, and the man was making motions to him to roll down his window. Bishop Gregson was a little worried about doing it… but he rolled down the window. As soon as he did, the man told him that he was so sorry for the way he had acted, and the things he had said and done. I was surprised that this story made me cry.

Bishop Gregson said that we live in an angry world. It is true. There is a lot of anger. I know, because I have people who are so angry with me that they won’t speak to me, because of things I have said or done, or because of misunderstandings, or even for things that I didn’t actually do. I have apologized, even for the things I didn’t do... but the anger is too much, and they can’t forgive... some of them for years. There is something in my emotional makeup that makes me think of those people every single day, because as long as there is someone angry with me, the world is not right. I have never really been one to hold onto anger for any length of time. I know I have plenty of faults, but on the plus side, I forgive quickly, so it is painful and hard for me to understand when others do not forgive me, because I never intentionally cause pain.

But I know that I have repented of the wrongdoings, and I also know that I can’t fix the rest ... so the Lord wants me to move on and get busy. He can’t do anything with a servant who is sitting around worrying about slights, and he can’t do anything with someone who never gets up from her knees praying for forgiveness. I love this scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 64:34. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind. I believe the willing mind leads to working hands. So, time to get to work. Time for us all to get to work. And just try to chill.