Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not too worried about it...

I feel fortunate.  I feel like my last days of school are immensely easier, or at least more interesting, than the majority of ...everyone else.

1.  I have to do this writing portfolio where I was told to make it look sweet and colorful.  (and I was asked to put bonus material of whatever I wanted at the end).

2.  I get to draw three 18x24" pictures about myself for art and decorate a portfolio to put them and all my other work in. 

3.  I need to study for my Natural Hazards and Disasters Final.  AKA  sinkholes, volcanoes, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.  Who wouldn't be excited for this?? The textbook for this class was the most expensive one I had to buy this semester, but I think I might keep it due to the CRAZY pictures, diagrams, and information that blow my mind every time I read it. 

I'm glad I'm not stressed out about school.  My biggest worry is whether or not I can fit everything into my two suit cases to bring home.

In regards to improvement of my writing skills over the semester, I don't feel like my writing has changed that much.  I do, however, feel like I've become more confident.  I think doing peer editing and workshopping was encouraging for me.  It is always nice to have other people look at your work and like it- or not like it and tell you what would make it better.  I bet after this class I'll be more likely to write for fun. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I feel like I'm one of those kids on Reading Rainbow talking about their favorite book...

I went to the Missoula Public Library a few weeks ago and never got past the children's section to the "over 10 years old" section.  I checked out a book titled Predators  because who wouldn't want to read that?  Did you know that a peregrine falcon's dive speed can reach 200 miles per hour?  Or that owls have special feathers that make no sound, ensuring a silent approach to prey?  Neither did I.  But my Predators book and my Children's Night Sky Atlas didn't change my life or inspire me in any way. 

I completed two books since the last blog post on books.  Ecclesiastes, from the Bible, and Crazylove, by Francis Chan.  Neither of them were fiction or "just for fun" reads, they were definitely shaping as I learned from them.  I didn't mean to read two books on the same topic, but I realize they are now that I think about the main focus of both of them. Both of these books, in some way or another, address people's quest for a life full of purpose and fulfillment.  It almost seems impossible that there could be an answer to the huge dilemma/search of life's meaning,but its totally written all over the pages of these guys.  I would highly recommend both.  Ecclesiastes gave me a sense of purpose and Crazylove gave me a sense of urgency in the way I live my life. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Missoula Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24th was favorite Thanksgiving ever. 
My parents were at a commercial fishing conference in Seattle the week before and decided they might as well fly to Missoula while they were in the neighborhood.  They rented a little house on 5th street where the three of us, plus my best friend/roommate, Maria- stayed.  Everything about the four day were perfect. 
The house was small and cozy.  It had squishy rugs and a fireplace.  The beds had way more pillows than a person could ever need.  The bathroom was clean.  There was even frost on the window panes.  Since it was blowing, snowing and negative degrees outside, it was the perfect excuse for knitting, drinking tea, and talking with Maria and my mom for hours (This is what we usually do at home most evenings).
On Tuesday night my mom taught Maria and I how to make an apple pie and dinner for that night.  The apple pie turned out to be exceptionally delicious (two people told us so). 
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Wednesday because my parents were leaving on Thursday.  It started with waking up and going out for a morning run with my dad and Maria up near Mount Jumbo.  It was the perfect start to a day with lots of eating ahead. 
The meal was yet another thing that set this Thanksgiving apart from all the others.  There have been some years where I don't even eat the turkey and I just eat all the rolls and mashed potatoes, but this year I couldn't get enough of it.  I ate stuffing, turkey, and even some candied yams!  My mom and I spent the rest of the evening making turkey soup with the left overs. 
Thursday came and was bittersweet.  My parents left, but Maria and I had the campus to ourselves-or so it seemed.  We watched the Macy's Parade and the dog show that followed while eating our turkey sandwiches.  For the past five days we've been eating turkey soup and left over mashed  potatoes.
It was by far the most memorable and delicious Thanksgiving holiday yet. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010


“Flactoid Magnus Delterior 360... That sounds fun.” Victoria sat on the weight machine and did what seemed like a million preparations just to pull on some bars. Strap your feet. Adjust the seat. Crank your neck. Straighten your back. All to work an unheard of muscle deep in between the scapulas.

“Four…five…six.” As she was focused straight ahead and counting her repetitions, Victoria’s eyes settled on the two barbell sets in front of her. “seven…eight…nine.” One was empty and shining. “nine…nine…nine.” It was freshly cleaned. “nine…nine…nine” The second was occupied…by a girl. “Nine… am I really only on nine?” Victoria continued until she finished twenty five Flactoid Magnus Delterior things and sat quietly on the seat, still focused ahead, eyeing the girl doing push presses.

“Mamma told me not to come,” she sighed, still staring at the push presser. “ but I just needed to get out of the basement for once.”

Victoria’s mom encouraged her to stay away from the gym and other fitness centers for a few main reasons: One being that the family didn’t have enough hundred dollar bills to spend every month on Flactoid builders, and two being that she knew her daughter wouldn’t be able to handle the other people, because to Victoria they weren’t people, they were competition. Victoria lifted weights in their basement for a good amount of her spare time. The other good amount of spare time was spent sailing on the lake behind her house in the small, seven foot sailboat she’d saved her lawn mowing money to buy when she was sixteen.

So, there she was being silently challenged by this girl doing countless push presses- wait no, she had finished. Now she was adding plate after plate, loading up the barbell. The girl glanced in the mirror in front of her and caught the reflection of Victoria. The two made awkward mirror eye contact. She gave Victoria a smug “beat this” smile and what looked like a mild flex of her bicep as she scrunched her t-shirt sleeves higher onto her shoulder to expose more finely toned arm and lifted the last plate to put on the barbell.

“I can’t take this anymore.” Thought Victoria, and she strolled on over to the shiny barbell. For effect, she also hiked up her sleeves. She didn’t technically look at the nameless competition to her right, but from her peripheral vision she gathered that the current competition was the overhead lift. She focused on sliding plates onto her own barbell. She loved the heavy, metallic sound they made. Victoria naturally put on much more weight than she’d ever overhead squatted before because this was no day to skimp out on lifting.
“I’ll start with ten and then see how many reps I want to do,” she thought. “One, two…nine, ten.” The girl on the right was still squatting away. “Oh, what the heck,” she thought “eleven, twelve…nineteen, twenty.” Then it happened. The nameless competition met the eyes of Victoria as they both dipped down with the barbell held overhead…and smiled. It sparked just enough disgust in Victoria to get to squat number thirty. “Good thing I had my Breakfast of …Champions this …morning,” thought Victoria. She was breathing so hard that even the voice in her head was having trouble finishing sentences. She bounced a glance off the mirror and saw Nameless’s strong form and calm face. “I’m done for” thought Victoria.

But, at the same moment as this weak thought entered her mind, she heard the inspiring intro to her favorite pumpup song “Eye of the Tiger” come over the radio. Her energy returned as she remembered scenes from Rocky IV where Rocky beats Ivan Drago. She hit forty five overhead squats with who knows how many pounds towering above her.
 Nameless’s elbows weakened.
Forty Six squats.
 Nameless’s serene face broke into a grimace.
 Forty seven squats.
 Nameless let out a groan.
Forty eight squats.
Victoria thought about how much she liked Rocky’s sweatshirt in the beginning of Apollo Creed’s match. “I should get myself a half-zip sweatshirt,” she thought.
 Forty nine squats.
 Nameless’s barbell met the ground.
 Fifty squats.
Victoria’s barbell hit the ground. Nameless was sitting on the ground. Victoria silently put her plates away, grabbed her jacket, and headed for the door. She never entered a gym again. “Living up to my name is so demanding,” she thought as she walked out the door.

Note: the name Victoria means winner or conqueror.

I read A& P by John Updike and Stillwater.  I also read the beginnings of a few others.  Both stories were pretty entertaining.  I don't know if either of them heavily influenced my writing, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did and I am just unaware of it.  My story wasn't really an imitation of any of the stories I read, but they definitely inspired me to be creative. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


 Raymond Carver uses the metaphor of blindness to say that sight isn't how you see the things that matter. I liked this metaphor and I think it is so true.  The husband was skeptical and judgemental of Robert for the majority of the story, yet when his wife fell asleep and he started talking to Robert, he was intrigued.  By the end, Robert had the husband describing a cathedral and even drawing one with his eyes closed.  The story finishes with the husband being perfectly content to not open his eyes again.  This is because he found that he could truly see and feel things when he couldn't see anything at all.  I think if we were to close our eyes or just shut out some distractions, we would begin to see the things that really matter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

5 Suggestions for Your Writing...

Journal:  I've never considered writing a hobby of mine, or really a forte, but I've kept a journal everyday since 6th grade.  Having a journal has kept me writing- especially during the summers when you don't want to think about anything that is related to academics.  I never dread it because I get to write about me, my day, and things that interest me.  There's no guidelines for journaling.  You're completely free to write about as little or as much as you want.  It is also interesting to go back and read your old journals because 1).  you are forced to remember all the little memories you'd otherwise have forgotten years ago and 2). you can see how you've improved as a writer.

Plan:  An outline or some sort of blueprint is necessary.  It sounds time consuming, yet after you've completed an outline, you just have to fill in the cracks with complete sentences and thoughts.  It aids you in staying on track and not wandering off on tangents.  Plan your piece before you write, and stick to your plan. 

Goal:  I find that when I try to write without a goal, I am very unsatisfied and confused with my work at the beginning, middle, and end of the writing process.  Feeling aimless and without a purpose is never right- not even in writing.  It is difficult for your audience to follow your writing when they aren't quite sure if its even going anywhere.  Pick a goal or point you'd like to convey or discover by the end of your piece. 

Read:  I almost feel unqualified to use this as one of my tips because I don't read enough.  But, I know from the few times that I have read in the past few years, it is inspiring and gives you many ideas for your own writing.  Despite what others may say, I don't think it matters what genre of books you read.  A classic novel may lead you to use a more diverse vocabulary, but a children's book can be very inspiring for ideas and voice.  

Time:   Set aside time to write.  Some people may "write well under pressure" and in turn procrastinate until the night before a due date, but I think if they were to spend more relaxed time on their piece they would write even better.  Try to get away from distractions, or finish other things that would otherwise be nagging while you write.  If getting started is the hardest part, set a time limit like fifteen minutes to write.  When you reach the fifteen minute mark, chances are you won't want to stop. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

2 truths and a lie... with a food theme

1.  My dad was the track coach for my high school.  Every year he'd have the distance team over to our house for the annual pancake run.  It was a Saturday morning event.  After a nice morning  run we'd return home to my mom cooking her famous whole grain pancakes.  There was an ongoing record of the male and female who could eat the most of these large pancakes.  The previous female record was 11.  I ate 17, and it has yet to be broken again. 

2.  Every February there is a festival in Anchorage, Alaska called Fur Rondy.  There are lots of events and competitions for people to participate in and spectate.  I was a spectator for 17 years of the Annual Moose Burger Eating contest.  When I was eighteen I entered.  It was very last minute and I wasn't expecting to participate, so I had eaten a 6 inch meatball sub for lunch only 2 hours earlier.  I placed third in the women's adult division eating 7 moose burgers.  The winner had 10. 

3.  My sister had a giant tub of Double Bubble gum that had been sitting in her room for over a year.  Instead of throwing it away, my best friend and I told her we would take care of it.  While watching a movie we chewed the gum, constantly eating more pieces.  We finished the tub of Bubble gum with 66 pieces in each of our mouths.