Sunday, May 21, 2017


I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Idaho's capital.
Counting occasions and not separate visits, I think the number can only be somewhere around 5. And that wasn't always to 'Boise Proper'. There were 2 visits to the College of Idaho in Caldwell--once to meet the cello professor and once to tour the school--and then the two years of going to watch the BHS basketball teams compete (and win) at state.
And that's it. 

But everyone I have ever talked to who knows Boise, absolutely adores it. Almost every article/blogpost/op ed piece I've found (I like to research things, leave me alone) talks about what a great place it is. And most importantly, since I finally convinced myself it was time to go, Boise is the only place I have felt really good about and the one place that kept popping up in every conversation, thought, and inspiration. 

As of Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 1:07pm, I am the new orchestra teacher at HJH in Boise, Idaho. It's happening. I'm moving to Boise, Idaho in August.

I have loved my time in Vegas--well, maybe that's not true. I haven't loved every piece of it here. And, honestly, lately I haven't loved much at all. But I have learned from my time in Vegas. I don't know that I completely like the person I've become over the last 4+ years--but I know it has been a good thing for me, that it was the right decision to make 4 years ago, that I've done some serious growing up here, AND that it's definitely time to go.

2016 sucked. (Don't worry, that blogpost is still waiting to be freed from the drafts folder) Though I went into my 4th year of teaching/living in Vegas with gusto and hope for positive changes, those hopes were dashed only a few weeks into the experience. Not to be dramatic, but this has been one of the worst school-years for me--and, yes, that includes my first year with the psychopathic assistant, my second year when the anxiety/other health issues took over, and my third year wherein I felt inconsistent and useless at times. I have never woken up so many days in a row completely unwilling to go to work; I've never had so many Sunday evenings full of absolute dread knowing I had to go back the next day. I've been angry for much of this year. Do you know how exhausted constant anger can make you? Did you know that it wears down the immune system? Relationships with colleagues have deteriorated and I've grown incredibly tired of the politics and cliques and "me-first" mentalities. 
Please understand--I'm not saying this for pity.
I hate pity.

I'm throwing these details in because I still feel like I need to justify my choice, rationalize my decision. I also need to write this out so that I can look back later and remind myself how much it took for me to finally decide to make a change. I don't like change--at least, not when I can't see the outcome. I like plans. I like knowing what's going to happen. So even as far as October of last year--when so many things really sucked-- I was still resistant to making any changes. It wasn't until I was driving through the K-Town canyon with my mom that I finally decided to start looking for a new plan. Cue every single force in the universe pointing me towards Boise, Idaho. 

 I don't actually remember when this happened, but it first started with a conversation with colleague/friend EMF. Though at different points in our lives, we both moved from Idaho to teach in Vegas the same year, and just by way of friendly conversation one time she asked me if I'd ever considered moving back. And then she mentioned that Boise had recently changed their teacher salary schedule for the better.

Fast forward to November, a month or so after my meltdown and surrender to the necessary inevitable and a month of consistent web- and soul-searching, and I'm standing in a Vegas high school parking lot talking to Triple T, who graduated from Boise State. I asked a few (what I thought were) vague questions, and he managed to zero-in on the truth: "You looking to leave?" For the first time, I actually said yes without hesitation. And a light went on. He did some research, gave me some insight, encouraged me, and volunteered to help however he could. I went home that night feeling fortified, ready to take a few more steps.

A little while after that, I admitted to erratic-friend BG that I was looking to leave. Mentioned Boise. She was generally positive and volunteered to keep me updated on any jobs she heard of, then added that she'd grown up near Boise and she had ties to a local symphony there. 

And then came the putting-together of resumes and portfolios and exploring school district websites and worrying. Triple T talked to a few sources, and I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet. I contacted RLapp, finished my application, and was told that there were some "anticipated" openings and now it was just time to wait. So I waited. I had my screening interview with RLapp and felt like things went okay. I had found articles about the best things about Boise, and for the first time in months, I started to feel more hopeful than anxious. The last advice I was given from RLapp was that the process was very much "Hurry up and wait."

So I did. And then when no jobs got posted, my inner cynic/Hate Smurf found its voice and reminded me that it was a shot in the dark--"anticipated openings" do not guarantee potential jobs. Defeatist attitude mastered, I started casually perusing other districts, telling myself that the Smart thing to do is apply to lots of places, whether they were currently hiring or not. And yet, every time I started to fill out an application, every time I went to create a profile for a new district's hiring process, it never felt right. I never got the application done, never hit 'save' on the profile. (Which, okay, in hindsight is completely ridiculous and terrifying, like why-??) I really felt like it had to be Boise.

But still no jobs were posted. Since the screening interview in March, I had pretty much been in full Chihuahua mode, 24/7. I told myself several times it was never gonna happen--that maybe I'd felt all these promptings only to force myself out of my shell a little--and got well and truly on my parents' nerves with the number of times I texted them chihuahua gifs and texts. I prayed a lot, worried a lot, talked myself up and down several times. I went to the temple, and of course found peace and reassurance (and yet another push towards Boise)--but no concrete answers. 

And then, glory be, a job was posted. I read through the description, researched the school as much as possible, and kept a watch on my phone and email--and nothing. The closing date for the posted job came, the post went down, and I hadn't heard anything. Cue more chihuahua texts to the saintly parents, more cynical Hate Smurf self-talk, more desperate prayers. That week started pretty crappy anyway. And then...I got a voicemail asking me if I wanted to be put on the interview list for the same job that had gone up and down without a peep. I left a voicemail saying 'yes please.' We finally connected, and an interview was set up for the following Monday. The day came, I was majorly sick to my stomach, and the call was 4 minutes past the agreed-upon time. Not a big deal obviously, but those may have been the longest 4 minutes of my life. The call came, I spoke with the principal and department chair, and in 22 minutes exactly, it was over. I was told I'd know either way by Wednesday. I picked that interview apart for the next 48 hours--I destroyed it. I found at least 6 different meanings in every question they had asked, 20 different ways my answers had been insufficient, and of the thousands of outcomes I created in my mind, I was certain of only one: I had failed. I'd had a chance, and I blew it. 

On Wednesday afternoon, during my lunch break and literally 5 minutes after exchanging texts with my mom in an attempt to keep both of our hopes low, I got another call. He dragged it out: "Finished the interviews, 5 other highly qualified candidates, and...we would like to offer you the position." I had been WAITING for this call, those words, and the second I heard them, I panicked. I have a lot of ground to smooth over when I finally meet these people face to face, cos over the phone I'm kind of an awkward llama. I asked for 15 minutes to decide, called my mom, anxiously flailed all over the place, then made my decision and called him back 10 minutes later. Then I may have tossed my phone back on my desk and done a few Rafa-esque happy fist-pumpy jumps. 

though I'm completely positive I looked way less cool and intimidating

And so here we are. I have my final SMS concert on Tuesday. Though rumors of my leave-taking have been readily available, I've somehow managed to keep it from the people I care most about (my kids) and the people I may be keeping it from out of pure spite and distrust (...) Triple T, CJ at the HS, BG, and M at school are the only people who know for sure; I'm sure sappy posts about each of them will be forthcoming (just as a tidbit: I sent M a text Wednesday night explaining, and his return texts actually made me cry they were so nice). 

I turn 26 on this upcoming Friday (Golden Birthday, what what). By that point, I will have completed the final concert, attended my last SHS concert, and figured out how to break it to my kids. I'll hopefully have made concrete plans for getting the heck out of dodge, and more than anything, I will finally be able to see the light at the end of this tunnel. 

This is going to be a big change, in so many different ways. I'll be teaching 7-8-9th graders. They'll have already had 2 years of experience. It will be a smaller school, a smaller district, smaller orchestras. I will be figuring out how to teach classroom guitar. I'll have to get used to a new district, new buildings, new coworkers, new students, new rules, new cliques, new politics. 
There's gonna be snow. 

.......But there's also gonna be seasons. There's a 2.5 hour drive from my new job to my parents' place. There *fingers crossed* seems to be a principal and staff that are more concerned with student happiness and well-being than evaluation scores and pointless 'make me look good' programs. There's going to be a new work environment, which already has the potential to be less toxic. There's a chance for new starts and new adventures and making a difference in a new place. For all the changes and new challenges, I haven't yet felt bad about this decision. And, as evidence of true karmic luck, my new band teacher is also named M. 

I don't know what's going to happen next, but I know it's going to be difficult and I know it's going to be worth it. Bring on the new, bring on the change, because
I'm going to Boise, Idaho!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hey, Jude--You'll Do

Time for my annual 'bombard you with stuff about my life' post.

The truth is, I sort of forget I have this blog. 
So it goes a while without being updated. And maybe that's a good thing, cos then I actually have a ton of stuff to talk about, instead of giving basic updates on my boring life.

So....let's start. Since the last time I've seen you...

I have become totally and completely obsessed with The Beatles. I'm talking "bought a good portion of their catalogue on iTunes, have all their records, own several biographical books about them, watched nearly all of their movies & documentaries, and bought lots of T-shirts, keychains, and license plate frames" sort of obsession. I've always liked them, always known about them, but it wasn't until last fall that I really fell in love them. I could sit here and talk forever about the ways they impacted the world, both musical and non, or the thousands of reasons why I love them, but let's just shorten it in the interest of time and space: Beatlemania still lives.

I'm nearly done with my third year of teaching. That's right: I am no longer a probationary teacher. 🎉
It continues to be the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. I'm not going to lie, though, I understand why most teachers don't make it into their 4th year. I'm a little burned out, a little bitter--a little contemplative of whether or not this is actually what I want to continue doing with my life. But all it takes is talking to my first period viola "Boy Band," my 2nd period pranksters, my 3rd period Sassy Black Girl Gang, my precious 4th period kids (whom I've watched grow from goofy 6th graders to really funny, upstanding, smart young men and women), my 5th period Special Snowflakes, and my 6th period loud mouths, and I remember. I remember why I'm doing this, why it's worth it even on the days when I just wanna cry or when I'm so furious at people I work with/for. It's because I love these kids and I would miss them too much. 
Oh, the above is a picture drawn for me by 7th grader M. It was shortly after I forced them to watch some of "Fantasia 2000" and told them that the flamingos piece was my absolute favorite. It's my very own flamingo with a yo-yo!

I've met more new people!
Yes, I'm aware that's a narwhal and not a person, but it's more symbolic than anything else. 
(Also...I maked that 😬)
It's been a bumpy sort of road with my colleagues at work. There've been a lot of things that have gone down, and, anyway, middle school teachers are just as immature and stupid as middle school students. But I think, now that I'm nearing the end of year 3, I can finally say I've learned how to balance it all: how to be a good coworker, but not a pushover; how to be friendly and enjoy my time at work, but not rely on those friendly feelings to stay constant. ALSO, I've made a new work friend, and it's really because of her I have that cute little guy up there. V has quite literally at times been a blessing to me, and the many arts and crafts projects she let me do with her class is only a small part of it! Going along with the idea of the orange narwhal symbolizing friendship, I've made significant strides with people in the district, both in personal and professional settings. Basically, I just feel more a part of things now, which is always a nice feeling. 
And I have my narwhal shrinkydink necklace to remind me of that! 

C got home last November, and it's basically the coolest. He returned from serving a full-time mission in Iowa, and to see how much he's changed and in what ways is truly amazing. He's grown up in a lot of different ways, and our relationship--which has always been a little rocky--has definitely improved. He's currently up at my good ol alma mater, BYUI, and is loving it (though, I have to roll my eyes a little at that one, cos how many times did I say how great it would be to have him there while I was there, and it was 'no way' but as soon as some of his mission buddies start talking about attending, suddenly it's the greatest plan he's ever heard....🙄)

I've had some pretty great adventures.
The Beatles "LOVE" Cirque Du Soleil show--DEFINITELY a must-see. 
It's probably my favorite Cirque show of all time (though that's probably a given, granted what I confessed above).  Maybe the thing I'll remember most about this is feeling so confident about knowing my way around the Strip that I didn't use any sort of navigational systems leaving the hotel, and found myself on some creepy back roads on the wrong side of the freeway just off the Strip. Humble pie, party of 1. 

Beautiful, right?
I'm in my 4th year of playing with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and I can honestly say I'm really glad I've had the opportunity. It's given me a chance to keep playing, to meet new people, and to have experiences like the one pictured above. What could possibly go wrong with performing on a floating stage at Lake Las Vegas under a flood-watch warning sort of day? Where is the possible harm in performing on a floating stage with metal supports during heavy lightning and thunder?

This time, the convention actually came at the end of a truly sh--crappy week (more about that later), so I wasn't entirely sure I'd make it or want to go. But, as always, I'm glad I did. It's just fun. You know? Like, something totally nerdy and dorky and weird but just plain fun. I've already written on here about what this show means to me, so I guess it's enough to say that at the end of a terrible, no good, really bad week, it was so fun to go back and be reminded of the fact that I've gotten through terrible things before and I'll do it again. 
Plus....cute TV stars 😉

It's hard to imagine that there are people who haven't heard about this Pulitzer-winning musical (because it is quite literally all over the place right now) but I am here to tell you, it lives up to the hype. It might even change your life a little bit. 
I scoffed at it at first--even though I loved Lin-Manuel Miranda's first broadway trip, In the Heights--but finally gave in and listened to the entire Broadway Cast Album. It's incredible. Yes, a show about one of our Founding Fathers really can be that interesting. You just have to try it for yourself :)
I'm telling you, it's everywhere. ;)

The Not-So Fun
That's my old car. My awesome proof of I'M AN ADULThood, my little Captain Billy.
Smushed up like a soda can.
I feel like it was sort of a case of Murphy's Law. Right? Like, festival had gotten done the week before and things were looking okay for me, no stress left for the rest of the month--and then BAM.
Nobody was seriously hurt, but it's probably the most unpleasant way to start a Monday ever. I was sort of in shock. It wasn't until the other cars involved had left and I was standing there waiting for a tow-truck with one of Henderson's finest that I realized I didn't have a way to work. Almost all the people I know--including my roommate--were at work, and though I was close to my school, it wasn't quite close enough to walk. So there I am, fighting back tears while the cop's trying to ask me whether I have someone coming or not--cos I HATE crying in front of people like that--intermittently on the phone with my parents (who, if you read my other post, were dealing with some crises of their own) asking them what I'm supposed to do, and that's when I get a text from V, the art teacher. She literally saved me, cos it just so happened that she was *at* the school, but wasn't going to be staying that day: with a doctor's appointment in the northwest midday, she'd gotten a sub and was just in for a bit to make sure things were settled. I didn't even have to ask; as soon as she knew what had happened, she got in her car and came to pick me up. She took me to a coffee shop and let me cry a little and calm down, made me laugh, then dropped me off at school. A tender mercy and definite blessing.
Then followed a week of just plain UGH, dealing with the insurance and the rental car and the stress and everything else. But, you know, life moves on and I figured everything was going to be okay--the repairshop said the fix was doable and would probably be back to me in a few weeks, I had a nifty little rental car, and I was able to book a flight to Idaho for spring break.
Fast forward to the Friday of the aforementioned spring break. I'm chilling up in Idaho, making a plan to get back to Vegas, when I get a call from the insurance people: they were calling it a total loss.
Not a fun phone call.
However, it did lead to....

My new baby.
In retrospect, everything worked out for the best, because I was able to find a car--with support and help of my parents and local salesmen--with relative ease and solve my worries about getting back to Vegas and sorting out the whole 'I have no car' thing there.
To be completely honest, I wasn't exactly thrilled about having to buy a new car.
I hadn't planned on it, and I really did love my old car, so it was hard to let that go.
But I'm coming around to it. He's a good little guy. 
Then, of course, came the paramount decision: what to call him.
After weeks of consideration and a hilariously misguided group chat, I narrowed it down:
(influenced, of course, by ER and The Finest Hours)
"Carter Webbuh", which is usually just shortened to "Webbuh."
As reluctant as I was initially, I love him. We've already had some significant adventures
1,000 miles already, yo!
And I'm already planning some more. So, you know, silver linings and all that.


Snapchat filters are a little too much fun.

Best friends, Ralph & Clyde

I don't know, I feel like there's not really a whole lot more.
I didn't get engaged, married, or pregnant.
I didn't move.
Didn't go to jail or become famous overnight.
Life's pretty boring, I guess. Same old, same old.
I still love mushrooms, cranberry juice, lemonade, chocolate pie, and icees. Still can't stand spiders, the dark, or the thought of growing old. Still love classic rock and oldies. Still obsessed with Supernatural and have recently fallen head-over-heels for The Office. 67 is still my favorite number, orange my favorite color, and thunderstormy/overcast my favorite weather. Still have moments of doubt about what I'm doing with my life, but I figure,  I'm almost 25, it's okay to have a quarter-life crisis, right?
.....yeah, I'm gonna go with that.

You're waiting for someone to perform with. But don't you know that it's just you?
Hey Jude--you'll do.
The movement you need is on your shoulders.

All These Places Have Their Moments

I have never taken much pride in where I "grew up." Partially because I was so used to moving every 3 years the idea of "growing up" anywhere was unappealing--and partially because the thought of having to introduce myself as "from" B Idaho chafed at me. And I don't think I'm wrong to find the flaws in that place--but I will also be the first one to admit to hate smurf-ing too frequently.

In any case, apparently absence really does make the heart grow fonder. The longer I've lived consistently away from that stupid little town, the more I find myself pleased to see it (though that could just be the relief at the conclusion of a ridiculous 9 hour drive). For all the unpleasant things, I also can remember the many good things, the charming quirks. Furthermore, seeing the way my students are brought up here in the big Sin City sometimes makes me grateful that I spent my teenage years in the relative 'quiet' of rural Idaho. So I guess in the spirit of that whole "love thy enemy" thing, here is a list of things that I don't hate about B, Idaho.
  • I don't hate that every kid I went to high school with knew how to jump a car, change a tire, drive on icy roads, and shoot a gun. 
  • I don't hate that we had things like "drive your tractor to school" day. (My students get a KICK out of that one.)
  • I don't hate that we had school-sanctioned bonfires during homecoming week in the parking lot of the old football field. 
  • I don't hate the fact that my younger siblings are growing up with a back acre to play in and a long driveway to ride their bikes/scooters without major supervision. 
  • I don't hate that during the summer you'll run into almost everyone in town while out on the river.
  • I don't hate the 4th of July celebrations.
  • I don't hate the way DQ is packed every Friday night after a big game. 
  • I don't hate the fact that when our boys and girls basketball teams both took the state championship (one of my first years of high school) school was cancelled on Friday and most businesses took a day off because everyone drove up to Boise to support the local teams. 
  • I don't hate that we got snow days. 
  • I don't hate that I finished high school in a relative state of innocence. 
  • I don't hate that you can know who exactly is at the movie theater just by the cars/trucks in the parking lot.
  • I don't hate that you can always see the stars.
  • I don't hate Fair/Rodeo week. 
  • I don't hate that my much-younger siblings have the same teachers I had in jr high/high school. 
  • I don't hate that almost everyone learned how to drive well before they were 14.5.
  • I don't hate the way a good Idaho sunset looks over the fields.
  • I don't hate the way all the main street businesses would decorate their windows for homecoming. 
  • I don't hate the way the community can sometimes truly come together as a community
  • ....and if I'm being really honest, I don't always hate the prime gossip fodder that grows perpetually in that town.
I don't know. Maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder--or maybe I'm currently just in a sappy mood and the fondness will be gone as soon as I read all about the latest and greatest town scandal. In either case, there are moments when I find myself surprisingly grateful for some of the memories and experiences I had in that little town, and it probably wouldn't hurt much (except my inner Hate Smurf) to acknowledge that sometimes.


You know what's really hard about being full of 'righteous fury' towards something?
You look really dumb when you're proven wrong.

I mean, again, in the spirit of my truly spiteful, stubborn, and Hate Smurfy personality, I won't say that I'm completely wrong. There are always gonna be things that make my blood boil and encourage me to bring out my sad little soapbox. 

You know how you're supposed to find things to learn in every trial?
Sometimes they're big things, sometimes they're small. 
Occasionally, they're big pieces-of-humble-pie things. 

Let me set the scene for you really quick, without going into too much detail (because everyone knows your privacy is totally guaranteed on the internet, right? 😐).
The last 10 months or so have been pretty sucky for my family.
Well, I mean, not so much for me directly, but for my dad--and my mom--and therefore, for the rest of us by extension, I guess. Dad's battled some major health issues, and it hasn't always been a guarantee that he would make his way back. And now, at what is hopefully the end of his trial, he's going forward with a big part of his life changed forever. 
He's a warrior, a superhero.
But it's been hard.

If I'm being honest, I'm afraid a significant portion of my personality stems from my dislike (some would even say 'Smurf Hatred') for what I'm begrudgingly beginning to acknowledge as my "hometown." I mean, don't act like this is a surprise. If you know me at all, you've probably heard me make anywhere from 25-10,000,000 snarky comments about "good ol' B Idaho."

I've let my experiences sour me on the people, and I'm not very proud of the many interactions wherein I've 'managed' to keep from rolling my eyes until they couldn't see. 
I wasn't kind.
I wasn't always wrong, but I definitely wasn't always kind.

My slice of humble pie is huge, y'all.
I say the last 10 months have been hard, but it's really only been intermittently difficult until just a few weeks ago. Until the you-know-what well and truly hit the fan. 

I took a few days off and headed up to the great, freezing North to be with my family after the big surgery. If you ask my magnanimous side, I went because I wanted to be there to help, to run kids to places and clean the house and make dinner and lessen the load and everything.
.....But I probably also went because I was worn-out with dealing with the worry all alone.

In the week that I was there, I witnessed an incredibly honest and real outpouring of love and concern for my family. Enough that it eventually brought me to frequent remorseful prayer for all the hate and bitterness I've been carrying.

Because, the thing is...when there are meals brought every night, when there are flowers and cards sent to brighten the room, when there are a steady stream of visitors that just want to express their love, when a whole deluge of people descend on your parents' house to do the yard work, when a (frequently mocked/disliked) neighbor shows at the front door nearly in tears over your dad's condition just asking what he can do to help, when your mom's phone is literally always ringing with messages of support, when you're stopped in the store or outside the siblings' school to give an update, when it feels like a large portion of the community is rallying around your family and giving them the support and love you never thought they were capable of--
It's hard to hate.

After all the bad, I saw genuine and frequent manifestations of the good. 
(the ugly was probably me.)

There's no real point to me writing this, I guess. 
Except I need to admit that I was maybe a little bit wrong.
(.......ugh, that burnssssss, precious)
And I want to semi-publicly acknowledge and express gratitude for those who helped my parents/siblings during this difficult time. 

And.....I want to remind myself.
For the next time I start getting all Hate Smurfy, thinking about the specific wrongs that have been done to my people, I'll have a physical (internetical?) copy of proof that people aren't all bad. That, in a place where I got so used to expecting the worst of humanity, I was shown the best. 
That maybe I should swallow my righteous pride and climb down off that high horse.

Well done, Idaho. 
Badly done, me. 

Guess I'm gonna have to find something else to Hate Smurf about....

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I decided to run away for the summer.
Get away from the heat of the Vegas desert and the irritation of the Vegas people.

Even if I hadn't decided to be a bum in my parents' basement for the summer, I would for sure have been home for one of my favorite weeks of the year:

I don't really know when it started. Since we've lived in Idaho, I don't think we've ever been anywhere for the 4th of July. We've partaken in the hometown events, first off the river, then on when we got our first boat. It became a tradition at that point: hit the Rupert parade then out on the water for the rest of the day, coming home just before dark to watch the city fireworks from our front lawn.
And then at some point a bit of these traditions changed: my mom's sister and her family would come up for the whole week leading up to the 4th--and, some years, a half week after. With cousins at ages similar to most of my younger siblings, it became a week of river days, night games, and fun. Most years, especially early on, mom's other siblings came up with their families, and it was like a mini family-reunion. We ate all the meals together, played boardgames and camp games, had long, deep, late night discussions, and partied it up on the river.

The finer details of the week sometimes change:
some years we can't spend the 4th on the river cos dad's working
or we go to the golf course to watch the fireworks
or fewer family members come than usual
But there are certain things that never change.

We always spend most of the time on the water. We always eat at least one dinner at Guadalajara's. We always see the latest summer blockbuster movie, all together as a family. We always go and cheer on the endless smalltown parade. 
We always have a great time.

This year was no different. 
It's no ocean, but I can't imagine a summer without some river time. 

Three of the Perkins siblings ;)
Sibling tube ride! 
I can't believe we convinced these old people to do this...but it was sure fun watching them scream!

Me & Q at the end of the last day of boating fun

We spent most of the week on the water. We went to Guadalajara's. We saw Inside Out (and, consequently, sang the Lava song for dayyysss). We went to the Rupert parade and cheered on our favorite entries. We played night-tennis. We played fruit basket and Big Booty and had BBQ dinners and s'mores for dessert and crepes for breakfast. We laughed together and talked together.

But this year, we finally did something we've talked about doing for years: we watched the city fireworks from the water. 
We've wanted to do it every year, but sometimes dad was working or the weather was really bad or we had boat troubles or everyone was too tired and just wanted to go home, but this year, we really did it. It was cold and a little stressful for dad, but I, personally, loved it. There was such a sense of community, a bunch of boats dotting a section of the river right underneath the fireworks display, all joined together, close enough that you could hear the other boats' oohs and aahs. 

At the end of it, most of us were sunburned and exhausted and a little ill. We had spent a LOT of time together, but still cried a little when everyone left. 

I love the 4th of July.
Not just because it's America's birthday :)
but because it's River Week.
A failed attempt at a panorama pic. I think it just sort of sums up the spirit of River Week ;)

A Supernatural Sunday

Recently uploaded all of my phone photos to save them on my computer
and realized there are a bunch of things I haven't written about.
Things I'd like to remember
and what better place to post a memory than here
So here goes post 1 of a bunch of things that happened a while ago.

I have a theory that the things we love--the things that become important to us and a part of our personalities--aren't just influential because of the things themselves,
but more because of the things we associate them with. 

Speaking musically, it's an actual thing. It's the reason "Music Therapist" is a real job. There are countless studies on how music impacts the mind and how it can bring about all sorts of physical, emotional, and mental healing. Directly applicable to the point I'm trying to make, music therapy has proven incredibly effective when working with those suffering Alzheimer's. 
It has the power to help you remember. 
It becomes important to you, not just cos it's a great song with a killer beat and sweet harmonies, but because it reminds you of something.
A time, a place, a person. 

I see no reason why this idea can't be applied to other things.
It may not be as potent as a favorite song, but I believe things like a favorite movie or show or book can become just as valuable, just as meaningful.

It defies all reason that I should love a show titled "Supernatural."
Me, the 20-something year old who is still a little bit afraid of the dark.
Me, who as a 16yr old spent the night in my parents' room after watching 10 second clips of Bravo's 100 Scariest Movies Ever.
Me, whose overactive imagination has led to plenty of great nightmares.
As a self-proclaimed chicken, I will be the first to admit that a show that features episodes centered around Bloody Mary, the Hookman, and Wendigos should not be high on my list.

Being the booknerd that I am, I fully believe in life being a series of chapters. 
There are chapter openings and closing chapters and things that manage to bleed in-between.
And sometimes there are things that come to be associated with those events, those closings and openings, so if I were to tell the story of why this show has become one of my absolute favorites, I'd have to paint the picture of that awkward time in-between. That limbo where you're not quite ready to give up the old chapter, and absolutely terrified to begin the new. 

My story would begin in the month of June, in a top-floor Vegas apartment. I don't think I will ever be able to forget the smell of that apartment, though I don't have any easy way to describe it. I guess it'd be a mix of easy rice (stove-ready, Mexican blend flavor) and heat--I've lived in heat before, but no one ever tells you the way a Las Vegas summer heat has a fragrance. It's probably because it's difficult to describe, but if you've experienced it, you'll know what I mean. And if I had to try and describe the scent that accompanies my memories of that place, the heat would play a large role. 

When I think of this time, this transitional period, I remember living alone, both with a roommate and without. I think of twin beds pushed together in a half-occupied room and two electric fans attempting to assist the AC with its job. I think of crappy apartment complex gyms and checking the locks on the doors once, twice, three times, four. I think of easy rice, chocolate-covered-strawberry Sonic shakes, and Advil tablets.

The beginning of June saw the end of my 6ish month 'internship.' The end of that internship saw the beginning of my now-career, and with that came a million different worries, a billion tons of stress. Licensing issues and unfriendly government workers; apartment hunting and roommate seeking. The beginning of June found me in fairly rough state: countless nights of teary phone calls home, hundreds of desperate prayers, warring feelings of independence and loneliness. The beginning of June saw my first root canal, the first time I had really had to make a doctor's appointment by myself. The first taste of what I have come to accept as 'real adulthood.'

And finally, the beginning of June saw tragedy rock my place of work. The loss of a young, sweet life one day before freedom. The beginning of June brought the phone call that night in the Target parking lot, the explanation, the loss of words. The beginning of this particular June saw a place that should have been filled with relief and celebration laid low with disbelief and sadness.
I didn't lose enough to claim this tragedy as my own, but I can't separate it from this time, from the memory of this moment. It will always be linked.

At the beginning of June, I was looking ahead to an excess of time between the end of my internship and the beginning of my career, and there was still a fortnight (I've always wanted to use that word) before I would move home for the summer. Frequently laid up with impressive jaw pain, I decided I had nothing better to do. With 7 seasons available on Netflix and a frankly alarming internet fanbase, I thought Supernatural at least deserved an audition.

Within the first 5 minutes, I was regretting my decision to begin this Supernatural journey at night. Lights were turned back on, door locks were checked (again) and promises were made to at least finish the Pilot episode before deciding.

Long before the end of that first episode, I knew I was hooked. Hooked--on a show that initially spent its time revisiting childhood horrors and urban legends. For a girl who can't even hear the word "Poltergeist" without feeling a little nervous, to fall so hard for this particular show seems a little remarkable. And, lest you think I suddenly kicked my scaredy-cat ways, I will admit I had nightmares. Thanks to this show, my irrational fear of camping seemed less irrational and I quickly renewed my conviction to never play "Bloody Mary" or live on ancient Indian burial grounds or walk the halls of anything that is now or was ever associated with the criminally insane.
BUT....those brothers. The Winchester brothers on their never-ending quest to save people from the unknown, the evil, the supernatural (see what I did there?). The humor and the heart of the show, the family bond. I loved it. Almost all of it. So much so, that by the time I moved back home for the summer, I was well into the second season. 

And so began an obsession that I have since proudly turned into a family affair. Upon resolving to play catch up in time to be a member of the slightly intimidating 'fandom' during a currently-airing season, my jump into Supernatural happily coincided with TNT's decision to rerun the seasons, in order, every day, for 3 hours. I used up lots of my parents' DVR space, and, slowly, drawn in by my obsessive tendencies, I introduced my family to the Winchesters. Not all at once, but a little at a time. My mom. My dad. My brother. Then, working outward, a few cousins and an aunt. A younger sister was shown age-appropriate episodes, and my network for Supernatural references was established.

That summer of Supernatural is forever linked, in my mind, with my last summer of..... there an opposite of adulthood that isn't childhood?
I mean, I wasn't a child--I had graduated college and was well versed in the art of living away from my parents for long periods of time. But I wasn't yet a bill-paying, responsibility-toting adult. 
I'm not really ashamed to admit that I pushed away feelings of anxiety and plans for the fall by
watching 'just one more' episode. It was--to be cheesy--the soundtrack of my summer, but it was a soundtrack that could follow me into my new life in a new place--my new chapter. 

And because of that, I think it will always be important to me.
 This show is forever linked, in my mind, to one of the biggest chapter changes I've experienced so far, and because of that, it also serves as a reminder.
That things are hard,
and sometimes life sucks
but I've made it through this and I can make it through more. 
It's a thing I love, not just because it's a really good show, but because it is associated with things that I will always remember, that I probably should always remember.
Just like a favorite song.
Make fun of that if you want, I won't deny the cheese-factor, but it makes sense to me:)

Fast-forward to March of 2015.
To one of the last months of an incredibly stressful school year,
to deciding that I would give in to my nerdiness just a little
and buy a ticket for Supernatural VegasCon 2015.

Removed from my circle of Supernatural trust, I got myself ready and journeyed, alone, to the Rio hotel; one of those flashy Strip hotels that are not actually on the Strip. 
Being the punctual obsessive-compulsive that I am, I arrived with time to spare; still an hour or so to go before the big panels began. As I made my way deeper into the hotel, past the drinks-girls and gamblers and slot machines, I started noticing more and more people who were definitely headed to the same event as me. These folks ranged from people like me--dressed in normal clothes, but with eyes clearly searching for the directions to the convention center's ballrooms--to the obvious, excited fanbase--dressed in Supernatural t-shirts and plaid--to, finally, the ultimate dedicated fan-extraordinares--those dressed in varying levels of cosplay, including one very dedicated and creative girl who dressed herself as a Castiel-themed Vegas Showgirl. (If any part of that sentence makes no sense to you, don't worry.) It was fun to not be the biggest nerd in the room, for once. 

So with my time to kill, I wandered into the "Vendor Room" and was greeted by this sight:

After a bit of perusing the merchandise (and deciding that I would definitely be getting at least one t-shirt, a mug of some sort, and probably a keychain), I made my way into the main Ballroom. I have to give credit to my friend R from work; she and her sons are fellow Supernatural fans, and they had gone to VegasCon 2014 and returned with favorable reports.
"Even from the very, very back of the room, where the guys look like little specks," she said, "it's totally worth it."
I wasn't in the very, very back of the room, though I certainly wasn't close enough to see distinct facial expressions, but she was right--it was worth it. 

The first panel was with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, John Winchester himself

And towards the end came my biggest claim to fame: Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki came into "crash" JDM's panel, and in doing so, they happened to choose the aisle that was just 3 seats away from me. That's right, folks--I was a few yards away from two of the hottest actors on TV ;) 
Once they were onstage, it was time for a few "family" jokes, before they invited Samantha Smith (the Winchester family momma) onstage for an "awkward family photo:"
a shot I grabbed from the monitors

my actual viewpoint of the stage

JDM's panel finished, it was time for the boys to take over. 
I dunno, I've seen videos of their interviews and panels from other conventions, but to be in the room during one of was just so fun. Pure, nerdy fun. 
I couldn't tell you what specifically was talked about, but I can remember that it was fun. And now, any time I see videos from this particular VegasCon, I can grin to myself and think "I was there!"
Even from far away, it was easy to tell that they are even prettier in real life ;)

And then it was over, and I had other things to do that day, so I bought my stuff, made my way out of the convention center, fought my way back through the smoky casino floors and wandered out into the ridiculous Vegas heat to face yet another week of students and stress and crazy.

But for a few hours, I got to be submerged in the Supernatural world, surrounded by people who maybe loved one of my most loved things even more, and for a person who usually keeps her nerd tendencies locked away and has a fundamental dislike of doing new things alone, it was a crazy adventure that ended up being one of my favorite experiences this year. 

I will absolutely be going back next year. :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Post 3: A Book I Love


I guess I'm just glad it was worded as "A Book I Love" not "The" or "Favorite". 

Growing up in a house full of books, with an English major mother who introduced me to the Sneetches and Harry and Frodo and Mary Lennox and Jo March at a young age, books are an incredibly precious and important part of me. 
There are just so many books.

In fact, I would go so far as to say I don't have a 'favorite book.'
I really don't.
I suppose I have a list of literary works that touched me or resonated with me more than others. And I certainly have a longer list of books I would (and have) reread in a heartbeat. But is there one book to rule them all? For me, no. I don't think there is. 


Every girl goes through her Jane Austen phase. 
Most find it enough to fall in love with Mr. Darcy, to identify with Elizabeth, and to roll their eyes at the insufferably silly Lydia. Maybe some go deeper and find the dramatic experiences of both Dashwood sisters enthralling, or they find themselves wrapped up in the drama Emma Woodhouse creates for herself. There are a few who even overlook the now-days inherent creepiness of Fanny falling for cousin Edmund. [No one likes Northanger Abbey :) ] But--and I swear I'm not attempting to be some sort of Austen elitist, because I'm not and I've fallen for Darcy, Brandon, Ferrers, Knightley, and Bertram many times myself--I don't often find many people who list Anne Elliot and her decade-long search for love as their absolute favorite. 

I don't remember when I first read Persuasion, but I'm pretty sure it came after Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and for sure Mansfield Park. It maybe came before Emma, but it was definitely the least-known Austen novel I attempted. 

Short synopsis--with maybe a few spoilers, I don't know, I think it's sort of difficult to 'spoil' any of Austen's work--is this: Anne Elliot is the middle daughter of a self-important, ridiculous used-to-be rich man. To bookend her, she's got a self-absorbed elder sister, and a hypochondriac younger sister. Her mother died when she was young, leaving her silly father to govern things by himself; in doing so, they lose the family home Anne loves more than anything. In order to keep themselves afloat somehow, the wise Anne--with the assistance of a mostly sensible family friend--convinces her father to rent the house to a suitable tenant; in this case, a retired Navy colonel and his wife. Lo and behold, this colonel's wife happens to be related to Captain Wentworth, a man whose name brings on a near panic attack when Anne first hears it. Back when Anne was still considered 'young' and 'hopeful', they had been in love. He had proposed, she'd wanted to say yes, but had allowed herself to be persuaded by her family and the "well-meaning" family friend to reject him, mostly because of his then-status as lowly navyman. Essentially, she broke his heart--and her own--and the two had parted, never to see each other again, and Anne convinced she would remain alone and unloved for the rest of her life. 

Through a series of various events, Anne and Wentworth find themselves frequently in each other's company. It is obvious Anne is still in love with him, but she--and we, as the readers--are forced to watch him gallivant about with the youngest Elliot sister's 2 very silly sisters-in-law. At one point, Anne is courted by the heir to her father's title, Wentworth is apparently 'promise-engaged' (those were weird times, man) and you think, for just a minute, that maybe these two people--who have lived almost a decade alone in regret and heartbreak--might not actually end up together!

I'll let you read it to discover the ending, because I promise, it's far better and much more interesting than the pitiful synopsis I gave above.

I think one of the main reasons I like this story so much is because it is not a typical 'girl gets the guy' story. Yes, Elinor Dashwood's up and down romance is exhausting, but it's only over the course of a year or so. Anne has a chance at happiness, turns it down, then spends the next ten years or so living in regret and solitude. She wonders if she's missed her chance, but even she gets a happy ending--even if it takes a little longer than others. 

I also just love Anne. 
As much as I love Elizabeth's wit and fire, or Emma's confidence, Elinor's good sense, and Marianne's sense of romance, I think I admire Anne more.

She's steady and sensible; she lives surrounded by vain and vapid people, but she keeps her sense of morality and intelligence throughout it all. She suffers a lot, but keeps most of it hidden; she doesn't allow the hardships of her life to drag her down. She selflessly gives whatever is needed; she connects with those who need it most. She learns from her mistakes, and decides that she will never allow herself to be 'so easily persuaded again.' She is put in the situation of seeing the man she loves flirt and be flirted with every single day, but she keeps going, stays pleasant, and reminds herself to stay strong. Because of this, I think she is the one of Austen's heroines who truly deserves everything she gets in the end. 

I love this book for what it is, but I also love it because it's the lesser known sibling to the ever popular Pride and Prejudice. It also offers a different presentation of romance; the idea that it may take years to find your true love and sometimes you get second chances. 

Honorable Mentions:
The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
The Lord of the Rings trilogy - JRR Tolkien
The Book of Mormon
Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Seabiscuit - Laura Hillenbrand

and many 

Post 2 : Something You Feel Strongly About

This is a hard one for me. Being the obsessive, justice-hungry basket case that I am, it's hard to pick just one thing I feel strongly about. 

I mean, what do I choose? A ranting post about racism or hypocrisy or today's music industry? A gushing review of my latest favorite show or movie or song? A stinging commentary on today's social, political, governmental, religious issues?

So, really, I should be commended for narrowing it down to only 3 things, just three, that I feel strongly about. 

1) The power of music
2)  The power of caring
3) The power of prayer

If you know me even a little, #1 should not be of much surprise. Even with as much as I immerse--or attempt to immerse--myself in the infinite universe of music, I am still knocked back on my heels in indescribable gratitude for the way music can make you feel. For the way it can make a horrific day bearable, a bad day good, a good day better. For the ability to hear what's going on inside you; for the means of experiencing something you'd never know in real life. Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed by just how much music exists! (not that all of it is good, mind you: you'd still have to wade your way through the TSwifts and Schoenbergs) It can do everything! In my personal experience, there's almost nothing it can't do: it's made me cry when I needed that release; it's pumped me up when I need the encouragement; it's brought me closer to my Heavenly Father; it's made me invincible, vulnerable, ecstatic, broken-hearted; it's let me blow off steam; it's allowed me to connect with people I wouldn't care about otherwise or never will meet. And it's such a special thing, all at once being both wonderfully universal and blessedly personal. I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point clear. I feel strongly about the undeniable power of music.

I sometimes think I care too much. Not in some dramatic, teenage-romance novel kind of way. But in the way that I think I would have far fewer sleepless nights, less performance anxiety, minimal furious rants, and dry eyes during movies. It would certainly make my life easier. But better? I believe in the power of caring. I believe in the way a simple smile and sincere "good morning, how was your weekend?" can remind a child that someone loves them. I believe in the ability to accomplish great things by putting your whole heart into them. I believe that society can be changed by the simple act of caring. A little while ago, I was talking with an old college professor of mine and he asked what advice, if any, I would pass on to those seeking to enter our field of work. The question made me laugh--what could I, a second year teacher hanging on (sometimes literally) by her fingertips, possibly have to offer? He encouraged me to think about it, sleep on it, and get back to him if I felt I could. So I did. I thought about all the thousands of things I've learned, all the millions of things I've yet to learn, and then I thought about the point. What is the point? Why do I do what I do? A simplistic answer would be to say this: it's because I care. But because I am long-winded and like to see my words on page (seriously, you should know this by now) let me elaborate. The gist of what I ended up emailing to him was this: I am no great musician. I am certainly no brilliant, award-winning pedagogue. I am no great music teacher. All I can do, really, is care. I care about music; about the ins and outs of it, the mechanics that allow young potential musicians to create or find solace in what they do. And I care about my kids: I care about my sweet 6th grade boy who, one day in tears, told me his mom was fighting cancer; I care about my 8th grade girls (and sometimes boys) who get so caught up in growing up that it becomes overwhelming; I care about the little chatterbox who just wants people to like him. And because of this, because I care, I feel more useful than if I was an expert in music theory or a world-famous soloist. My students don't give a darn if I play Bach's 3rd Suite with technical perfection; they're not particularly concerned either way that I know everything about the chord progression chart. If I don't show them that I love them, that I care about their success and well-being, then anything else I say doesn't matter. I believe in the power of caring because I have seen it work pretty big changes in lives. I believe in the power of caring because I have seen and experienced its antithesis, and I know that apathy can have just as much power as caring. To say it mildly, I feel strongly about a human being's ability to care.

I talk to myself. A lot. In public, and sometimes much louder than I intended. I'm not quite sure whether this is a sign of intelligence or insanity, but I do know it's an incredibly annoying habit: like when I discover my full-blown, out loud debate about which peanut butter is better was heard, in its entirety, by the man with the shopping cart just behind me. Sometimes I think it's a sign of the crazies, because I like to talk through my problems out loud to relieve the crowd that is my brain. But it sometimes gets lonely, and I figure once you start answering yourself, it's probably time to stop. The only problem is, when your most common companions are little almost-people, and your parents' phones are dead and your friends are too busy to answer, who do you talk to? I am not knocking any religion with structured prayer systems, but I cannot describe my gratitude for the things I have been taught about prayer. It is not only a way of thanking God or asking for blessings--it's a way to communicate with an all-knowing, all-loving Father in Heaven. At any point in my day--or night--I can get on my knees and tell my worries and triumphs to a loving Heavenly Father. I have felt the weight of crippling anxiety lift from where it's settled just over my lungs, all due to the power of prayer. I have seen impossible things go right; I have recovered hopelessly lost items; I have received answers and peace; I have seen it work medical wonders. I believe in the power of prayer because I could list for you the many times I have seen this awesome and merciful power work miracles in day-to-day life. Prayer was possibly the first thing of which I had my own testimony. The scriptures were sometimes hard to read, and I didn't always find the point in primary/YW lessons on Sunday, but I had several experiences that solidified my belief in the power of prayer. To say I feel strongly about it is a ridiculously limiting understatement, and I don't imagine that I've explained it to any sort of acceptable standard, but I feel very strongly about the power of prayer.


I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Idaho's capital. Counting occasions and not separate...