Saturday, May 19, 2018

Remember How I Force Someone Else to Pick Out My Clothes?

My Stitch Fix posts are some of the most-read ones on the entire blog. Which I guess means that a lot of my readers enjoy my lovingly mocking reviews of clothes that I forced a hapless Californian stranger to curate to my exact specifications.

I guess it also means that not a few of you have noted the dearth of Stitch Fix posts recently. I haven't indulged in a Fix in almost six months. Why? Well, I didn't break up with Stitch Fix or with Jessica V or even with newbie Jill, if that's what you're wondering. I just a) am trying to be financially provident since I just paid for an appendectomy and some other large purchases and b) don't need enough new clothes to justify getting a Fix. I'm planning to buy some new sneakers and maybe a light dress for summer, but other than that, I'm good!

I do plan to get another Fix eventually, especially since I have some referral credit (and FYI, Stitch Fix changed their referral structure; if you use my link, we both get a $15 credit). I just don't know when that will be.

After I started Stitch Fix, the Seamstress came home one day all excited. She had a coupon for a dinner subscription box—kind of like Stitch Fix, but with food. She proposed that I try this subscription service and review them, too. More fodder and fun for the blog, right? I was amenable...until I investigated and saw how much it was even with the coupon.

You may find this hard to believe (since I routinely talk about my clothing and vacation splurges here), but I'm stingy. Like, really stingy. I hate buying things, even when I need them. My mom hates that I hate buying things. It's not uncommon for her to buy things (makeup, clothes, various household items) and give them to me since I won't buy them for myself. That's why I took one look at the dinner subscription box price and was like "ha ha NO." The price of a couple of meals a week far exceeded my entire seven-day grocery budget! No way. No way, no way.

Now that we're on the subject of my dinner habits: I cook once a week and eat that meal all week long. There are respites (I have dinner at my parents' on Sundays, and I usually eat out a couple of times a week), but for the most part, I eat the same thing for seven days straight. This can be problematic when I'm trying a new recipe and it turns out terribly, so I don't try new recipes as often as I'd like. (Sadly, after at least six tries, I still haven't found a good curry recipe.) And some weeks I don't have time to cook before last week's meal runs out, so I end up ordering a bunch of takeout food to tide me over. Weeks like those make me wish I did have some kind of food subscription box (or someone at home to cook for me, preferably of the male variety).

Happily, this week over at Ask a Manager, the awesome Alison Green advertised a steep discount on two weeks of Blue Apron. The steep discount makes it affordable enough to try, so I signed up. There's no way I'll be able to continue using it after the discount expires; even with the discount, it's still just over half my week's grocery budget to get two two-serving meals. But I thought it would be a fun adventure to experience and blog about. (I'll just be eating super cheaply for the rest of those two weeks!)

Another FYI—my mom once suggested that if I was going to blog about Stitch Fix, I should get paid for my reviews. Though I get where she's coming from, I'm really not an influencer! No one pays me to review anything; I just do it for fun and because I'm a snob who thinks she has discriminating tastes. Sometimes I do get referral credit for Stitch Fix, but it's nowhere near enough to write reviews solely for gain. If by some wild chance anyone ever does pay me to review something, though, I'll let you know.

Friday, May 18, 2018

In Which We Run Away to San Diego Rather Abruptly

My mom has five brothers. One of those brothers made a series of poor decisions that made him unpleasant and even unsafe to be around. When I was small, she cut off all contact with him. So did at least one other brother.

A justified decision, to be sure. But maybe not a merciful one. Later, she regretted it. So the last time we went to Disneyland as a family, we swung by San Diego to pay him a visit. Since then, he and my mom have been in regular contact.

Now he has a degenerative disease (I'm the worst with diseases; I don't remember which one). In March, we thought he was going to die. Mom resolved that she would go visit him. It was decided that she and Dad would take the trip over Easter weekend, and I would stay with my brothers.

But wait! If they were going to spend the money to go, then Mom wanted to go for several days, but my dad had a project on a deadline. His schedule didn't allow that. Unfortunately uncle's facility is in a pretty sketch part of town, and neither of my parents wanted my mom to go alone. Plus she would be gone during my brothers' spring vacation, so my brothers would be sitting home bored while everyone else was at work.

Every possible combination of days and travelers was proposed, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, it was decided that my mom and dad would drive out to San Diego the Friday before Easter (Passover). They would take my brothers with them, and they would take me, too.

Yes, me. It was an extremely last-minute vacation (and it arguably wasn't a vacation). But I had to go. My dad was going to fly home on Easter Sunday so that he could get back to work, and driving is not my mom's forte. I was coming so that we could switch off driving the rental car on the way back to Utah.

Which is how I found myself bundled in the back of a rental car (again), hurtling towards Las Vegas and, beyond it, San Diedo.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Angry Sonnets

I was angry, so I wrote angry sonnets. But. One is about real life. One is from the viewpoint of a fictional character. One is about a restaurant. Which is which?! I'll never tell.

Note: I must be out of practice with sonnets, because it took me literally weeks to write these, and they're still a bit rough. Also, for some reason, I decided not to use any punctuation except in the couplets at the end. It kind of makes you slow down on the last two lines, creating a ritardando effect. Yay pretentiousness!

I wish that I could tell you how I feel
You wish that I would simply disappear
Well, seeing you does not come as a thrill
I wish I could be anywhere but here
You wish you'd cut me off much long before
I wish that you'd been honest all along
I never wanted to become a chore
How could I know that everything was wrong?
I wish that I could hate you but I don't
Nor have I had the blessing to forget
I wish that you'd forgive me but you won't
Though hard hearts lead to nothing but regret
A piece of unsolicited advice:
Is this really what you want? Please think twice.

A stupid person causes loved ones pain
A stupid person wounds a friend offhand
They might do hurtful things and not explain
Because they think their friend will understand
They let things sit in silence far too much
They think the words are better left unsaid
They damage every friendship that they touch
And somehow think they might come out ahead
I guess that I'm a stupid person then
I never thought of how you might be hurt
I guess I simply didn't comprehend
I guess I kinda treated you like dirt
You were the best out of all of my friends;
Hard to believe this is how it all ends.

Of all the things I've lost I never thought
I'd ever have to count you in that group
So now that means there's one last thing I've got
And one less way my spirits can recoup
I can't begin to tell you how I feel
I feel as though my heart is on the ground
I've stayed together by an act of will
Though inwardly my sorrow's tightly wound
I thought that nothing could tear us apart
Just goes to show how little that I know
I don't know why you feel you must restart
I don't know why you feel you have to go
Do you not realize? And do you not care?
Do you not notice? Why aren't you aware?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Unavoidable

If you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, you should probably skip this post. 'Cause that's what it's all about.

Okay, so, do you remember the scene where Doctor Strange is meditating on Titan? And Tony is like "What the heck, you wizard you?"

And Doctor Strange is all, "Oh, I totally saw every possible outcome of our woefully unprepared mishmash of superheroes attacking Thanos when he gets back. There were more than 14 million possible outcomes."

And Tony's all, "Right on. In how many of them did we defeat him?"

And Doctor Strange is all, "Just in one."

Having seen the future, Doctor Strange knows what to do to achieve the best outcome. Surely the Avengers use that knowledge to devise their attack plan. They figure out a way to play to everyone's strengths, to hit Thanos where it hurts and bring him down.

And what happens? Do they win?

Nope. They don't. They come close to winning, but they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Thanos gets all six infinity stones. Then he proceeds to wipe out half the population with a snap of his fingers, including half of the awesome superheroes we just spent movies and movies getting invested in!

What the actual heck, Marvel?!

In the last few minutes of the movie, Doctor Strange disintegrates. (I'm using no poetic license here, but you probably know that, because if you haven't seen the movie, you shouldn't be reading this post.)

Tony, watching him disintegrate, is kind of all, "HOW DID THIS GO SO BADLY WRONG?" I mean, he doesn't say that, but obviously he's thinking it.

Yet as he turns into dust, Doctor Strange makes a comment that kind of makes it sound like this was the desired outcome. Out of the fourteen-million-plus outcomes, this is the only one that will lead to Thanos's defeat. It's a long con, a necessary sacrifice to achieve victory in the end.

There have been a few times in my life where literally the worst thing I could possibly imagine happened to me. 'Twas an absolute nightmare. A horror. Inconceivably painful.

During one of those times, I wrote this in my journal:
Well, in any case, [nightmarish, horrible, inconceivably painful thing] is obviously a step towards the future. Apparently it cannot be skipped, avoided, or prevented.
Because heaven knows I tried to skip, avoid, or prevent it.

This wasn't vain optimism; I ended up being right. Looking back, I can say it was a step towards a future with better, happier things that could only be achieved by first going through the horrors. As it has been every other time I've had to endure something like that.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not afraid of the future. I don't have Doctor Strange's wizardly powers, but I do know from previous experience that when I pray and inquire of the Lord and come away feeling like things will change and be okay, they do change and are okay.

I know that everything will be okay. I'm not afraid of the outcome of the long con. I'm a little afraid of the things that happen along the way, because like I said, they tend to be nightmarish (i.e. half of the Avengers disintegrating). But if experiencing those things is the only way to nail your one in 14 million chance of defeating Thanos, they're arguably worth it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Minister of Change

When I was called to be the Relief Society president in September, the responsibilities of the role were well-defined. The Relief Society president, her counselors, and her secretary(s) arrange the spiritual lessons and music for each Sunday, plan quarterly Relief Society activities, and teach a lesson of their own choosing once a month. They assign each sister in the ward at least one "visiting teacher" who checks in with her and learns about her needs. Each month, they put together a report for the bishop that shows who has been visited that month. In other parts of the nation or world, the presidency might be responsible for teaching things like literacy or good hygiene, and in a family ward they would prepare a lot of food and offer a lot of support for births, weddings, and funerals. We don't do a ton of that in my ward, though, due to the nature of a ward made up entirely of single individuals.

Not long after I accepted the calling, changes to the way we run things began to be handed down by the First Presidency. My counselors and I no longer teach lessons on first Sundays; we guide council meetings with the members of the Relief Society where we discuss things we want to improve, do better at, or act on. As of about a month ago, we're no longer doing visiting teaching. Instead, we're doing "ministering," where the number of visits are no longer tracked. The girls in the ward are responsible for knowing what's going on in the lives of one another, but they can connect with those they're asked to help in just about any way. My secretary doesn't create a report for the bishop; now I just tell him each quarter about the needs of the sisters and how they're being addressed. These administration changes have filled some gaps we were seeing in the lives of the sisters. Pretty neat.

It's not normal to have this many changes in such a short period of time, though. In the ten months I served with Madam President, we never had one, much less two, large organizational changes to implement. In short, this is an unusual time to serve in a Relief Society presidency. I feel honored and privileged to be in a calling where I get to help these things unfold. It's a huge blessing.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Running Away From Your Problems

Have you ever run away from your problems?

Most people have at some point. (Except Harry Potter. Harry Potter seldom runs from his problems. Harry Potter runs towards his problems. The whole series hinges on Harry being a reckless, restless maniac with zero self-preservation skillz.)

Guess what characters do run away from their problems?

Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz do. Constantly.

Allow me to demonstrate. Here we have Marco slamming his bedroom door to escape his problems (coughStarcough)...

...Star leaving a concert early to escape her problems...

...Marco climbing out a window to escape his problems (again, the problem he's escaping is Star)...

...Star trespassing into a city aqueduct to escape her problems... 

...Marco hiding under his suit jacket to escape Star his problems...

...Star jumping out a window and flying away on a magical cloud to escape her problems...


...Marco walking slowly backwards...

...running across a beach...

...and sharing his hoodie with this girl he barely knows, all so he can escape his problems.

(I'll give you one guess as to what problems that might be.)

Don't get me wrong; Star vs the Forces of Evil is a great series. But everybody in it does run away from their problems on the regular.

I'm more like Harry, I guess. I like to walk up to my problems and punch them in the face! Metaphorically! Sometimes literally! But one time I did leave town unexpectedly to get away from some stuff.

What problems have/are you running away from? How drastic is your particular form of running away? (These are rhetorical self-help questions. You don't have to respond. Although I'd be curious to hear if you did.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

New Roommate

Just as I was being wheeled down to surgery, my cell phone (which was plugged in at a bedside table) rang.

My mom hurriedly answered it. It was my landlord, wanting to talk to me about our new roommate.

"Hello? This is her mom; she's being taken down to surgery right now. She has to get her appendix out. No, she'll be coming home with us for a few days." I was literally being wheeled out the door. "I can't talk to you about this right now. I have to go."

I came home a few days later to find our new roommate, Sophie, all moved in.

It was kind of weird. In some ways, Sophie is similar to the Seamstress. In a lot of ways, she's not. The biggest difference is that Sophie is excited to have her own place. Pepper and I have become jaded and a little lax in our many years of apartment-habitation. Sophie, on the other hand, is eager to please. She's cheerful and pragmatic, and she cleans a lot.

We're still getting used to each other, but things are good.