Sunday, January 31, 2010

2009 Wrap-Up: Resolutions Revisited

If you'll recall, in January 2009, I decided to become a better person. With my list of goals that I wanted to accomplish, I made the resolution to learn or do something new every month. While I did succeed in most of my other resolutions (such as reading some new books thanks to my awesome book club), I didn't do too well in others (like finishing my parents stockings I started in middle school, perhaps they're not meant to be finished?). But as most of you might know or have guessed, I did complete the one I was most excited about last January. Let's take a look back:
January: Sew a Skirt
February: Dancing and Flirting
March: Taxes
April: Changing a Tire/Car Maintenance
May and June: Cake Decorating
July: Make a New Dish
August: See a Musical
September and October: Calligraphy and Photography
November: Speed Reading
December: Origami
I am so glad I made this resolution. Not only was it something that I actually completed and kept doing the whole year, but I also learned so many great things I might not have otherwise learned. Through accomplishing this resolution, I discovered several things about myself. I discovered that most things can be accomplished if you have a kit or a great teacher. I discovered a new talent/skill that I really enjoy doing (cake decorating), and I discovered that if I really set my mind to it and have a plan, I really can succeed and accomplish anything.

In my resolutions post last January, I wrote about how I never liked making resolutions because I always gave up a few months into the year. But, now that I have actually been successful in keeping up on a resolution for a whole year, I feel like I can do anything. Ok, maybe not anything, but I now know it's not as hard as you think to be consistent and to keep a resolution all year long.

Having completed my year of doing something new every month, I realized that having a plan and excitement for a resolution really helps to keep it all year. Last year was great, and I achieved many things. I can't wait for what this next year has in store for me. There were several things I had put on my list to learn that I wasn't able to get to (like painting and juggling), which I will try to do this year.

And while last year was really fun and easy, I've decided that this year I need to continue to be better by being more observant of others. Last year, I kind of focused on me learning new things, (and I did have a service-oriented goal too, but it kind of fell by the wayside), but now I need to focus on helping others. It's going to be hard, but I think I can do it. I'm more confident in my abilities now that I was successful last year. I am also trying to be more healthy too, but since I started doing that last year, it won't be listed in my new year's resolutions. Come to think of it, I don't really have a list this year (which might set me up for failure, so I'll work on them).

My one main goal has always been to become a better person, and helping others will definitely help me achieve this goal. Here's to being nicer, kinder, and more helpful to others in 2010! Let's hope I can keep it up. I'll post a list/goals to accomplish this resolution soon because everyone needs a game plan. What's yours?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Awhile back I bought an origami kit. It comes with everything! Even a bone folding and scoring tool! Pretty sweet, I know. The book that came with it, though, just had a few animals in it (and some modular stuff), and it didn't even include the traditional crane! (Something I really felt I needed to know how to do.) So I went out onto the internet, fountain of knowledge, and looked up the directions on how to make a crane (and various other patterns). Let's just say there are pretty much a bajillion different ways to fold paper into a crane. Every site I found had a little step that was different, granted it did end up with the same result.

I didn't necessarily make a 1000, but I made alot of cranes (and a few other things): That's supposed to be a gorilla (it was from the book that came in the kit). (The ones on the right were the only ones I made; the top left my dad did, and the bottom left came with the kit...)

Origami is pretty easy as long as you have really good instructions and diagrams so you know how to fold it. Some are a little more complicated and involve scissors and glue and different pieces (like the gorilla). (I tried making a unicorn and I gave up because I just couldn't understand what the picture and directions were trying to tell me to do!) Origami is fun, and talk about easy, cheap Christmas tree ornaments!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This Ain't My Scene

Most of you have already heard this story from me, so I apologize for the repeat. If you haven't heard, please enjoy the next bit of nonfiction:

Recently (ok like a few weeks ago), I attended a New Year's party with a few friends of mine. I just barely made the age cut off of the 23 to 45 year olds that were invited to attend. A friend had asked me to accompany her, and since I had dragged her to an 80's YSA dance the night before, I thought it was the least I could do to get dressed up a little and go with her to this party.

When we arrived, there were probably 20 people there, including the live band of 5. Luckily, we found some other people we knew and talked with them. As the night progressed, I continually felt like the youngest person there (and in all reality, I probably was). I was enjoying talking with my friends, but it wasn't the best atmosphere for talking because the band's volume was really loud in such an enclosed space. There was some food, a few board games, a pool table, a couch, and a big screen TV tuned to some football game. Ok, now that the scene has been set, here's what happened:

My friends and I were sitting on the couch, a sectional to be exact. So, at the end was my friend Jane* (*Names have been changed for their protection), then Erin*, then me, then the corner of the sectional was empty, then Emily* (who I came with) and Reese*, and then some random dude we didn't know who was messing with his iPhone. We were chatting about random things when this man, who looked to be about 35, comes and stands in front of us (Jane, Erin, and I) and proclaims,

"There are too many girls sitting in a row, so I'll have to sit right there," as he points between Erin and myself.

"Umm ok," I say. "Do you want me to scoot over?"

"No, no. I have to earn my spot," he says as he proceeds to sit right next to me, at the corner of the sectional. He introduces himself, let's call him Bob, and we do the same, each of us shaking hands as we do so. After intros were made, he then turns to me and asks Jane's name again.

Then he says, "Excuse me, sorry," and gets up to stand in front of Jane. "Sometimes I have these urges. Will you indulge me for a moment, and let me snap your nylons?" He then tries to grab Jane's tights on her leg to appease his "urge." He of course can't grab it, so Jane helps him out (which i have no idea why) by lifting it up a little for him to get a hold of. He thanks her and comes and sits back down next to me.

Now at this point, I'm really dumbfounded and a little creeped out by this man who obviously has no self-restraint with complete strangers. But, then, I'm even more shocked as he continues,

"Sorry, sometimes I have these inclinations. Like for example, when women wear low cut blouses and their cleavage is showing and they're really pushed together, you know? I just want to come by and shove something in between there, like a credit card or something. Or if they are kind of far apart, maybe like a pen or something," he says, while illustrating what he's talking about with his hands the whole time.

Now, I'm really creeped out by this perv because he's talking about shoving things in women's cleavage to 3 women he has never met. I think all three of us were a little shocked and didn't know what to say. So, to ease the awkward silence a bit, Erin starts talking about how she has some friends that like to throw things at people in restaurants or something.

"Oh, okay. I'm glad I'm not the only one," he remarks, to which I'm thinking in my head, Well you're the only one stupid enough to say it out loud to three females. And to save himself, "But, you guys are okay cause you're not wearing anything low cut, so you're not tempting me." (Oh, what a relief.)

He then asks if we're of the "Mormon persuasion" (we all say yes), and he says, "Oh, good, then we can talk about "insider stuff." Now throughout this whole time, I was convinced he wasn't a member because he reeked of smoke (not just his clothes, his breath, too). So I was thinking, maybe he's drunk (or high) and stumbled in here from the apartment complex. But, he is now trying to convince us he, too, is Mormon.

So as to explain his smoke smell, he tells me, "Oh,do I smell like smoke? We went to this restaurant. Well, I guess it was a kind of a bar restaurant, and they let people smoke in there." I can smell it on your breath. You're not fooling anybody, pal.

More awkward silence.

Now, I really want this guy to leave, and I'm tired of smelling cigarette smoke, so my arms are crossed, and I'm staring at the TV in front of me with my lips pursed together. He then turns and looks at me and tells me,

"You look like the cure for boredom. But, you're holding back and keeping you're cool."

"Yup. That's exactly it," I say in my most sarcastic, dripping-with-malice type voice.

"Well, here's what we're going to do," he tells me as he jumps/squats in front of me. He has his arm out in front of me (about a foot away from my chest, actually; although, my arms are crossed, so there was a barrier) and starts to reveal his plan. "We're going to pretend like it's the horse races and you're in the pen, and we're going to let you out. Then, you're going to go crazy and bust out and get the party going!" Ummmm....

"No, that's ok," I say, curtly.

"No, come on. You can do it, but you got to get real close to the gate you know like the horses do, so we can let you out," he says while he pats his arm, clearly telling me he wants me to press myself to his arm. Excuse me? Are you serious? do you really think that I am stupid enough to not see what you are really getting at and follow your idiotic, perverted "plan"?

"No, that's ok," I say again. "I don't want to scare anybody."

"Oh. Okay," he replies, looking a bit disappointed and sits back down on the couch. Now, I've had it, but I really am quite comfortable on the couch, so I look for a way to get him to move on, as opposed to me having to leave. So, I point over to where people are starting to dance,

"People are dancing over there, you should go and check it out."

"Well, I don't want to leave you guys."

"No really, that's ok," we all say, with all of us saying something about how we're tired and will stay on the couch.

"Oh, okay. Well, I will go, but I will have a sad face on because you guys won't be over there." Then, finally, he walks away.

At first the whole thing is almost surreal; did that guy really say and do those things? Then came the realization--it was all real, and that now I feel icky, and I need to avoid this person the rest of my life. The whole time Emily and Reese casually looked on, but apparently Reese was dealing with her own weirdo (the guy on the phone, who asked about her bra). But, she didn't hit the jackpot like I did.

So, after that interesting occurrence, we stayed for a little while longer. When Emily was ready to go, I was more than happy to oblige her. It was fun to talk with my friends, but I'll be honest, I felt a little out of place. As we were leaving, Bob decided to sit next to Reese this time. But, unlike me (who tried to save her), Reese told him off gently instead of letting him keep going. I obviously could learn a thing or two from her.

The party wasn't my scene, but I came back with a hilarious and extremely awkward story, so it was totally worth it, right?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A few pictures to pass the time...

I realize that my last couple posts were intellectual/philosophical, or as my mom said, "boring." So, I realized I needed to put something up before you thought I had gone all existential on you and left the blogosphere to take up handwriting letters. This is not true. I'm currently working on several posts to finally wrap up 2009 (sorry for the delay), but I have not had a chance to finish and put them up. So, in the meantime I figured I'd put up a few pictures of what I've been doing for the past few weeks, cause a picture is worth a 1000 words, right?
The awesome black and white play I went to with some friends.
A birthday cake (Buzz) and a Thank You cake (camera) for our family's photographer and her son. The photographer took these (and others):My brother Caulin's birthday cake (the pic on the cake was another one taken by the photographer).
The next cake looks like a boring old cake, huh?

That cake I made for a coworker after she showed me this blog (whose cake and pictures are alot better looking than mine).

And those are some of the things I've been up to while I've been away. More blog posts forthcoming.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Art of Letter Writing

The following was inspired by a piece by Garrison Keillor called "How to Write a Letter":

I feel and fear that the art of letter writing is a lost one. And, it is my duty as a creative-artist type person to try to revive it, or at least not let it die and fade away into oblivion to be forgotten by almost all of the future generation. Yes, if we had really wanted to know up-to-date information of each others' lives, there are plenty of other quicker, more efficient means of doing so than writing a letter. There's email, facebook, twitter, blogs, texts, phone calls (another near-dying means of communication) in which we could learn of each others' lives as they happen.

But, letter writing has nothing to do with that. Yes, perhaps in a more primitive time when the only means of communication was by messenger, the letter was a vehicle of transferring prevalent information. But, really, since the telegram and beyond, there wasn't a real need any more as letter as conduit of information.

Granted, some use it still to inform like for those in third world countries or those cut off from modern conveniences and technologies... like missionaries. But, for the rest of us in the modern, internet-connected world, what is the need for writing letters?

We have so many ways to stay connected to each other that we have lost the very connection that these new technologies were meant to improve and keep in tact.

Which brings me to my point... letter writing. We must go back to the basics, the more primitve, early means of communication to repair the damage done by our own ambition.

Those that have gotten a handwritten letter before can vouch for the giddy, child-like joy and glee you feel when you receive such a thing in the mail. It's almost like waking up on Christmas morning and seeing just what Santa brought you. A letter is something tangible that you can keep forever and show your posterity that people loved and cared enough about you to take the time to sit down and write you a letter.

I don't know about your parents, but my parents lived about an hour away from each other while they were dating. So, to keep the "flame alight," so to speak, they wrote letters. My parents have a box of letters and cards they had sent to each other, and looking at them now helps remind me that my parents were young once, too. I just got to say, it will be incredibly hard to show your kids the facebook messages, emails, and texts you exchanged with their father while you were dating. It's not like you can store them in a hat box in the closet.

How we get to know our ancestors are through their letters, their journals, and their keepsakes that they left behind. How will our future posterity know us? By searching for our abandoned blogs and long forgotten online profile pages? Unless we go and print all of our emails and blog entries, how will anyone know about us? What if the internet isn't around in the future, or at least what we know now as the internet?

To leave our mark on the world, it can't be through our Twitter feed. We must again take up letter writing. Even if it's a short, quick note with only a few lines. The person who receives it will know you cared enough about them to do it and will understand why it had to be short. You'll feel good about yourself as you stamp and mail the letter off.

Why? Because you will not be forgotten; your life will be remembered through the letter, and others you send like it, and you will leave your mark on the world.

Besides...I got to use up these Christmas stamps I have left over from sending cards!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year's!

It's the first day of 2010, the start of a new decade. Feel any different?

Yeah. Me neither.

I have to say though, looking back on the year, and for sure the decade, I have changed a lot! You have, too; you know you have. I think sometimes we think that in a year we should have been a whole new person, a better person than what we thought of ourselves at the beginning of the year. For the rare few, this actually does happen, but for the rest of us, we come to the start of a new year and feel like the past year was a waste, which is not true, but this new year will be different.

The truth of it is, things happen, life happens, and the goals we made for ourselves in order to achieve the idyllic vision we had of what we would be at the end of the year get adapted or abandoned. It's ok. As humans, we are susceptible to this. We have huge lofty ideas of how things should be or how they'll change, but when it comes down to it, we get lost and more often than not fail.

But, most of us will find our way again, get back on track, and try again because most of us are also really stubborn and resilient. We "won't take no for an answer," and "if at first we don't succeed, we try, try again" because "failure is not an option." It is this trait in us that forces us to make the same goals every year because this year will be different. This year, we'll quit smoking, unlike all the times and years before; this year, we'll loose those 20, 30, 60, 80 pounds, unlike the several attempts we've made in years past; this year, we'll find that special someone, we'll find that better job, we'll be that better person because this year will be different.

And maybe this year will be different for you, but it's up to you on whether or not it actually happens.

For 2010 for whatever goals you've made and resolutions you've resided to accomplish for this year, the key thing to do is have a plan, and then follow up with that plan and adapt it to whatever life throws at you. We tend to make one huge goal that we can't possibly achieve because it is just to hard for our finite selves to grasp. Make a plan, write it out, have a mentor or motivator that will keep you honest, put a reminder wherever you will see it. You might not want to do it now, but your future self will thank you for keeping them on track.

We all fall, we all get behind, but we shouldn't get down on ourselves and completely abandon our goal and give up and say, "Oh well, there's always next year," because we'll never do anything great for ourselves if we turn around and head back to the beginning at the first sign of trouble only to do the same thing the next year. Really make this year different and commit to whatever your resolution is and revisit your progress every month not just at the end of the year.

Don't worry. You can do it because this year will be different.

(Steps off of soapbox)

I will soon be posting my December skill and my recap of 2009 and the decade with a visit to that 2009's resolutions and what I learned and achieved. I'm hoping to get these posted before the end of January, but we'll see. I'll also be posting a whole new set of goals for 2010, so be on the look out because this year will be... awesome! (You thought I was going to say different, huh? Ha ha! Tricked ya!)