Friday, July 22, 2011

You Can Get with This, or You Can Get with That...

Ok, so I was just presented with the knowledge that I may or may not even get to be in charge of my own blog while I'm Livin' the D.R. Loca. Great. I think my mom and aunt will be taking pieces of my letters and forming them into future blog posts. Double great. They don't have a technological clue to split between them (love you guys!) But asi es la vida; you have to deal the best you can with what you have. Which brings me to what I actually want to blog about.

The other day, I was shopping in the jolly world of Wally Mart, searching for the last minute mission items I needed. After squeezing through the usual throng of thousands that always seem to populate that particular store, I finally made it to the camping area where I would pick out the flashlight that will light my way for the next 1.5 years (ooh, your token spiritual metaphor). I was thrilled that most of the flashlights were under 6 bucks and there were a surprising amount of cheap options. But for some reason, the decision was not as easy as it should have been. I was faced with two options that put me in a quandary: for the same price ($5.97), I could get the blue flashlight that takes Double A batteries and has the soft grip handle (made from the same stuff as those computer wrist supports) with 20 hour battery life 
You can't tell from this pic, but the handle is sooooo squishy!
or I could get the silver one with 40 hours of shine that uses triple A batteries. For some reason, I truly hate these kind of batteries.
Ok, I know the package says 100 hours, but this looks almost exactly like the one I'm talking about. Just imagine it says 40 hours and we'll call it good. 
My dilemma came down to the fact that I really wanted the first flashlight, (I'm a sucker for blue and anything squishy), but it was less practical (20 fewer hours, people)! And even though it broke my heart, I felt that, being as I'm going on a mission and all, I need to be Ms. Practicality. I'd already done this before; a month previous to this scenario, I sacrificed getting a super cute watch for a less attractive, less conspicuous, waterproof one. Oh the trials of a truly difficult life.

So I reached (somewhat dejectedly) for the ugly, hard-handled light device, grabbed it off the rack, and turned to throw it into the cart full of other exciting items (razors, deodorant, hairspray) when I was stopped by a thought. There was no monkey on my back making my life choices for me. And then I remembered the song from one of my all-time favorite commercials. You know, the one with the rapping hamsters trying to convince you to buy a 2010 Kia Soul by suggesting that you can either get with this (the aforementioned Kia) or you can get with that (a toaster, a cardboard box, a washing machine). Pretty much, you realize that you'd have to be an absolute tool if you would rather drive a toaster than a Kia. I kind of have to agree.

And in my case, I could also either get with this (blue soft flashlight) or that (silver, many-hour flashlight) and I realized, (gasp) it didn't really matter! I should just get what I want and what will make me happier. So I'll have to take along a few extra batteries. We have a ton of Double A's in our house anyways (suck it Triple A's). It made me realize that I tend to fall into this pattern of behavior a lot; instead of going after what I want, I go after what I think I should want. And I came to the brilliant conclusion that I, and probably anyone else who does this, should stop. I mean, at the end of our lives, do we really want to look back at a bunch of ugly watches and flashlights? (Oooh, another metaphor, I'm killin' it today)! But seriously, people are always talking about living life with no regrets. And even though a flashlight isn't something that will really shake up my future very much, the attitude which prompts its purchase will. We need to figure out what it is we really want from life, and then be brave enough to pursue it, even if a group of rapping hamsters surrounds us and tries to persuade us otherwise. Maybe especially then.

Well, that's it for now. I'm about to go off and seize the day(s) for the next year and a half. I hope you all can do the same. Oh, and here is a link to that most delightful commercial. Because you deserve it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dancing Pickles, Serving Missions, and Other Things I didn't Want to Do.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later; inevitable, like a bad ABC Family summer sitcom or the resurgence of leggings. What is this great Event (not to be confused with the wannabe 'Lost' T.V. show), you might ask? I am now blogging. Why? Well, dear anybody-who's-reading-this, simply put, I'm going through cha cha cha CHANGES! and because this is the easiest way for people to stay updated, we now find ourselves here.

So as some people might know, I am serving the Master and Commander upstairs on an LDS mission in the Capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo (West Mission). Yes, yes thank you, I know, I am wonderful. I've also determined that this means God loves me more than people serving stateside. It's a logical conclusion. I mean, I'm practically going on vacation! [Note: if you are offended by my humor, I will only cheerfully encourage you to purchase a of sense of one at a local convenience store near you].

But I have a confession, World Wide Web: I didn't hope "they'd" call me on a mission. Not really. About a year ago, I had just completed an amazing internship at a travel magazine in Washington D.C. Then in mid-August, I graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. I was on top of the world. A so-called useless Humanities degree and a sagging economy weren't enough to bring this girl down. I was going places. Like back home. But only temporarily. I really, truly believed I would easily get a job in either Utah, D.C. or by my B.F. in Los Angeles. Instead, weeks, then months passed by, and I began to get nervous. And then I realized all hope wasn't lost. My brother worked at a sandwich shop called Mr. Pickles in our hometown. Surely, he would be able to hook me up. And he did. In a matter of months, I went from this:
July 2010

To this:
January 2011

A pickle who's also a college graduate? Scoreboardicus! Surprisingly, I actually didn't hate my life during my period as a pickle. I got to dance around and make people smile (bonus points: exercise), and on top of getting paid, I got free sandwiches to boot. This experience taught me two things: Always look for the positive and dance like everyone's watching. Cuz they are.

Now comes the part where I describe how this and other dead ends helped push me down the mission path. Has anyone ever felt nothing is working out? No, just me? Ok, well I'll describe it to you: it sucks. Job applications, contests, educational programs, you name it, I didn't get it. Now I've learned that life comes with it's share of wins and losses, but this was just ridiculous. Sometime around the middle of February, with a little prodding from Sister B., a member of my church ward, I decided to heed my B.F.'s suggestion that I stay with her for a couple of weeks and look for a job. I could live with her, if things worked out. Brilliant. Finally, some sort of direction. So I went down to Alhambra, which is pretty much in L.A., and started to sorta look for jobs with the enthusiastic encouraging of mi amiga.

The only problem? I felt wrong, all wrong. How could this be? Why was nothing clear? I'd prayed about going on a mission, but more the type of prayer that goes, "I'll go if you want me to, but please don't want me to." While my friend was at work and I was alone with my troubled feelings, I felt like I should call my Noni (Italian for young grandmother). So I did. I mentioned I was feeling strange, we talked for awhile and she mentioned a mission. I rolled my eyes, but then, it seemed to make sense. The more we talked, the more I felt she had a point. So I asked God myself. And FINALLY got a response. I needed to go.

So why did it take God a month of Sundays to answer me? Because I didn't really want an answer. I wanted to meander along hoping Lady Luck would direct me to a perfect job because that's what I thought I wanted. I didn't see a mission being in the cards for me. But apparently, someone with a bit more knowledge than me felt differently. So now, in about a week, I will be reporting to the Provo MTC to get this party started. I'm terrified. I'm unsure. But tonight, while attending a recently returned missionary's homecoming, I felt the first true feelings of another emotion: excitement. It's coming, inevitable, like this blog.

Now I won't lie, sometimes a year and a half seems like a lot to give up. Sometimes it seems like it'll pass me by in a blink. But I know now that I'm doing what's best, for me and hopefully for the people I meet. And I'll be documenting it all here, on this blog, co-named by my D.C. friend Mandy. Thanks Mandy! And after my mission, it can become a 'normal' person's blog. Because if nothing else, I am the epitome of normal.

Oh, and one more thing: Fortunately for me, the final Harry Potter movie came out before I left. It would have royally sucked to have seen the other seven movies in the theater only to miss out on the most epic one. I mean, this is the end of an era we're talking about here! I had to see it! Otherwise, I would have had to abort this whole mission thing. Ha, ha, just kidding. Sorta.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, this photo is of a crappy quality because it was taken with my camera phone and because my mom didn't want to spend more than 2 seconds taking it.