Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nanowrimo. What the heck is that?

First of all, guess what I'm using for the first time? That would be my laptop. The laptop I got for my birthday! This gorgeous, expensive piece of equipment that was so gorgeous and expensive I didn't dare touch it. :) I should be laying on a couch in a therapist's office, I know. But I got it out from the corner of my bedroom, picked it up, and opened it like it was the Holy Grail this morning and it was all thanks to Nanowrimo. National Writing Month. Allow me to talk to you as if you are just learning the very, very first lessons about writing, as I AM.
National Writing Month is... well, mania, apparently. They, they meaning the writing people... hope that clears everything up... decided that the best way to celebrate National Writing Month was to have writers write like flippin crazy! They challenge anyone who likes to write at all to sign up and join the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. 50,000- count 'em- nevermind, don't count them because that would be maddening- 50,000 words in one month.We have to put these words together into sentences that we make up, you know. These sentences don't previously exist! How many sentences do you think 50,000 words can make? Don't try to figure it out. It's not worth it.

Having never tried this, I had absolutely no idea how freaked out to even be until this morning when I woke up to my daughters fighting over the bathroom, found it to be 5:45am (could be why I sound a little delirious), and decided the dark quiet hours might be best for breaking out the Holy Grail and giving this whole Nanowrimo thing it's first try.
Holy cow. After writing for an hour and fifteen minutes, I'm up to 500 words. I'm excited about where it's going. I'm thrilled an idea came to me and that I'm inventing the sentences! Yet, I'm looking at the clock, looking at my life, looking at my tendency to overthink and try to perfect, realizing how that is SO not going to work for this particular challenge, and I'm thinking this is going to be the best thing in the world for me.
I'm scared. That's good. I'm writing again. That's pretty amazing. Thank you cousin (on the Gee side), Emily, for telling me about Nanowrimo and encouraging me to do it. Did I mention I'm scared? If anyone has any advice or encouragement... it's the only therapist's couch that I would get, so I would really appreciate it. :) Wish me LUCK! I will totally need it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Anybody out there have mornings like this…. like, every single day?

This morning I got my daughters out the door before true insanity even began. Sometimes they start it. Sometimes there’s a forgotten assignment or an alarm that didn’t go off. Yesterday there was a hole that needed to be sewn up at the very last second, and the day before that I dropped one of them off in tears because of a friend issue. This all happens before 7:15 a.m.

Then comes the second fleet. I have to wake the first grader up. I’ve learned to take a few minutes of quiet for myself, plaster on a smile and some pep, and make him believe that the day is off to a beautiful and sunny start so that he has a fighting chance. Sort of like “kill ‘em with kindness”, it’s “trick them with optimism”.

Today I was booking on the Tooth Fairy. She hasn’t always been a source for a good start to a day. She’s very forgetful. VERY. Think how long it took her last time she forgot to come to your house and add another week. We made a sign for her. “Tooth Fairy ALERT!” We hang it in the hall now so that she knows, “There’s a tooth under a pillow in HEEEEEEEEERE!!!!” Sure enough. It did the trick. Luke got a dollar in trade for his first lost tooth.

Next obstacle: the homework that didn’t get finished the night before. How are you people doing this?!?! Maybe we’re placing too much importance on bonding time with Dad and the BYU football games. There’s not enough time in the day. We read Luke’s book one of the two required times last night before my patience was crying out for a respite. The credit I deserve just for that! Derek is a different story. He’s in preschool, so of course his homework can wait until ten minutes before we take him. I care about homework. It’s huge! But there are FOUR children! Two of them have math problems I don’t understand! The others, well, how tempting is it to cut through all of the sounding out and just blurt the word out to the child in answer? “H….H…H….ahhhh…” “That’s right honey, Home! Good job.  Oops. I accidentally told you that one? We better just skip this page.”

Reading groups will be starting soon in Luke’s class and if you make more than a couple of mistakes on a book, you don’t get to pass it off. This concerns him. I dropped everything to comfort him and make sure he knows that even if he makes some reading mistakes he’s still the smartest, coolest, most amazing kid in the world. We get through the second round of the book “Clifford is Tops”. It uses some outdated language. I have to explain to Luke why Emily is calling her Dad, “Pop” and he asks about three times why Clifford is “Tops”. Says that doesn’t make sense.

 Then he remembers that it’s library day, he’s very responsible about that. He needs me to read his library books to him before he takes them back. I read while he and Derek eat.

Shoes on, teeth brushed, cowlicks defying even the strongest of hair paste, Velcro shoes finally on the right feet and Luke is off to the bus stop in the nick of time.

I have the usual wrestling match with the pencil sharpeners. (Does ANYBODY out there own one that doesn’t give them fits?!?!) Then Derek learns how to write upper and lower case Bs. I realize that Luke’s library books are sitting in a nice organized pile on the chair next to the door. NOOOOOOO!!!! It was so cute the way he ALMOST remembered them. How can I let him go to library without them now?

Ryan needs to be dropped off at work today, the truck is being used on deliveries. We all jump into the van, Derek buckles himself. (Bless his heart for learning how to do it this week.) Ryan drives, I sit in the passenger seat groaning, sighing and muttering. Ryan laughs and calls me his little “Vexie”, he says I’m always vexed. I tell him the nickname is kind of cute and I actually prefer it to many of the others. I start telling him about some troubled girl Alli knows from school, but he interrupts me like three times to point things out on the sides of the road. Finally I tell him it’s impossible to have a conversation with him. He refocuses, reminding me of that guy on that commercial who is promised a Klondike Bar if he can truly listen to his wife for five seconds. Just then a woman drives by hanging a pajama top from her van window. “Oh. Go ahead,” I say. “I can tell you’re just dying to comment on the woman airing out the pajama top.” “Well WHAT is she doing?!?!” he says.

Derek is dropped off, library books are dropped off, Ry is dropped off, and I drive home in the precious quiet. I have two and half hours alone. I was sad when Derek first started preschool, but I quickly learned how good it is for him and me. I want to use it as writing time, but it’s awfully hard to put on the romantic goggles after the near drowning that my mornings always seem to be. I figured writing this blog post is a good start. Purge “Vexie” and then settle in to the fictional world. Besides, other Moms might relate. I can’t be the only one who has black and white visions of sending the kids off all groomed and well prepared, standing next to the door and placing a pert little kiss on the top of each head, while wearing a lovely circle skirted dress that shows off my trim waistline to perfection. Ahhh. The bitter contrast!

This is why we pick up the books I’m trying to write. Here’s praying for inspiration. Have a good day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Feeling

Do you ever get this really inspired feeling? You’re sitting in a meeting or you’re listening to a song, or you’re having a moment out of time with your family and you know you want to change yourself for the better? You want to keep this feeling and you want to change everything in order to do it. I trust the feeling. A lot of times things happen very fast to steal the feeling away. You burn the cookies, you stand on the scale, the teenager cries about her hair, and the first grader doesn’t want to go to school. Ugh. You want to replace the difficult, daily happiness suckers with a quick fix, a mental, forgetful thrill. So you turn on old episodes of the Vampire Diaries and you forget for awhile. You also forget the inspired feeling. It becomes enough to just get through a day, an hour.

I’ll catch people up for a quick second. My Dad passed away a little over a year ago. He was a hero. He wasn’t old. He hadn’t necessarily “lived a full life”. My youngest brother got married last weekend and my Dad didn’t get to be here for that. That’s okay, it really is, but I need you to understand that losing my Dad was tragic. It wasn’t “just” a part of life; it was one of those tragic parts.
(A picture we cropped and displayed at the wedding, in memory of my Dad. It's my Dad and my three brothers.)
When he passed away, a feeling came over me. In my heart, I like to believe it was a gift from him. I had faced one of the hardest things I’d face in my life and I had survived it. If I could do that- Bring it world! I could do anything. I immediately started this blog. I would make my dream of being a writer come true. What was someone leaving a mean comment? What was a harsh critique? What were countless rejections compared to losing my Dad? Nothing. I’d face them until I reached my dream.
I wish the feeling could stay.
When the writing world got overwhelming, there were plenty of other things for me to pour energy into. Summer vacation, my kids my kids my kids, the scale, food, the scale, food, kids' hobbies, kids’ homework, brother’s wedding, home improvements, and lots of Vampire Diaries.
(My brother and his wife! SO fun!)
(One of many home improvements I've been working on. I painted our dining room and refinished our table!)

…But sometimes… I’m reading a book, or I’m driving alone, or (like last night) I’m sitting with my family and Ryan Edward is telling the kids about how he hopes they don’t settle for mediocre. He hopes they keep trying to improve themselves every day, because greatness is built line upon line. I get that really inspired feeling, that energizing feeling. It isn’t constant, but it doesn’t give up on us. I think that means more than we realize.

My life has changed almost completely in the last year and a half. My Dad isn’t with us now. My childhood home, my peaceful escape is gone. My Mom is remarried and trying to make sense of so many things.
Ryan Edward is busy, busy accomplishing his goals for our family. The babies each have a whole blog post of concerns that they need their Mom’s help with, and jokes they heard on the Disney channel that they need to recount for their Mom to fake laugh at.
We all have a list like that, and we’ll get through it to face new challenges tomorrow. I guess I just wanted to say: that feeling hasn’t given up on me, and I bet it hasn’t given up on you, and I, for one, plan to trade in an hour of comfort food and attractive vampires today and do something about it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cccccan't Puuuut The Book Dooooooowwwwwn

I just spent Spring Break in a way I can be proud of. It's kind of rare for me to be able to say that, maybe because I like to indulge in my favorite wastes of time, maybe because I'm hard on myself. But this Spring Break I made a list, and I made goal charts for myself and each of my kids and we accomplished everything- all of the fun stuff and all of the make-yourself-a-better-person stuff. I feel pretty great. Unfortunately, you have to prioritize and my blog has been falling by the way side a little.
I've spent this morning reading, (which could probably be defined as one of my favorite wastes of time, or... research for my career) and I am giddy over the book I'm reading, so I'll take advantage and use the adrenaline to update my blog!

My brilliant cousin, Emily made my whole life better by recommending this book to me. I read a handful of books I like, clicking on my bedside lamp and reading for an hour here or there before the book starts to fall out of my hands as my eyes start to fall shut. A handful of books in a row, somtimes a few handfuls, and then I find one that I can't put down. It's smarter somehow. It's more intriguing somehow. I'll attempt to tell you a couple of the things that stand out about this one.

I think the storytelling part of writing should come naturally. You have to be creative, and you have to have a really great idea. You can pour that thing out on paper without much hesitation, and you probably should. THEN you have to consider the rules. That's the point I'm at with the novel I'm writing. I've come to realize that you aren't doing your story justice without the rules. Your story deserves to be backed up by the kind of writing that let's people get to your story the best way they can. They need to feel it. They need to experience it. The rules are there to help them do that.

Here is a description of my favorite guy in Divergent. "His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color." I've never heard a color described this way! I like that the author describes it, but also leaves it to your imagination and preference. What is a "dreaming, sleeping, waiting" blue to you? I'll bet it's a pretty fabulous blue.

Early on in the book, I was bordering on frustration because I was so eager for what I wanted to happen and it wasn't happening! Only a subtle hint of it was happening. Just enough to give me hope without me knowing for sure that things would go that way. When things did start to progress in the way I was hoping, it was that much better! I didn't realize the power of making the reader wait and wonder. The payoff is an emotional rush!

So that's what I've been up to! ...And it makes me pretty darn happy! Gotta go now, as soon as I get the kindergartener on the bus I can apply my brown eyes, currently an eager, single-minded, hungry shade of brown, back on the pages of my book.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Trying on the Overcoat

Ryan Edward has two jobs. He owns mattress stores, and he buys and sells items much like you see on the popular television shows, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars. He loves antiques and has a great knowlege of history. He bids on Storage units that go up for auction and it's always fascinating to see what he ends up owning, everything from someone's old VHS collection to highly valuable treasures. I tease him that so many of his success stories start with, "So I thought better of it, and dug it out of the trash."
On Saturday, he came home with the most amazing memorabilia from World War II. He sat us all down in the living room, picked up each item and told us its story. The most interesting and foreboding was this jacket.

It was worn by a member of the Gestapo during the reign of Adolf Hitler in Germany. It's sitting in my living room, its black leather worn and rough and heavy. I could try it on, but the very idea scares me. What acts did the hands that slid themselves into that coat every day commit? What were the thoughts of the man who buttoned those buttons? Was he conflicted? Was he purely evil or just filled with a hope that had turned to dillusion?
Writers have to think a lot about people. We have to think about who they are, about their thoughts, their motivations, their goals.
Dwight Swaine

wrote that it is impossible for a writer to do justice to any real person with a character in a book. People are too complex. Our job is to accurately portray the things readers need to know about our characters.

According to Randy Ingermanson, there are three main things a writer should try to understand about his character when he "tries on his overcoat".
1) His values, or his core truths.
2) His Ambition, what he wants most in the world.
3) His Goal, the one concrete thing he believes he needs to do, or be, or have in order to achieve his ambition.

I might have to try on that heavy, Secret Service overcoat and get inside the head of my villain. We all know I'd rather write about the hero and the damsel than the bad guy. I once watched Beauty and the Beast at the Tuacahn Theater and Gaston stole the show. Who are your favorite villains?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not Feeling Sexy.

Okay, apparently a Monday can pass without romance while I'm still alive. :) In my defense, I'm barely alive. It's not that my writing isn't on my mind every day. My focus has to shift a little sometimes to things that will further my goals in a way that blogging won't. I've been using the extra time to read this:

I have two more like it on hold at the library.

I guess you could say I've been feeling studious instead of sexy.

Also, I've been on a diet. That's right, the evil, evil diet. When dieting, I am an unhappy person with occasional dreams of one day being happy.

You might say I've been feeling starvation instead of sexy.

Also, I've been working out more. Which will eventually make me feel sexi-ER, but given the fact that in my crazy life right now time for a shower is a luxury,

You might say I'm feeling sweaty instead of sexy.

Also, I'm suffering from a terrible cold. My sinuses hurt.

I'm feeling stuffy instead of sexy. Whenever I think of stuffiness and sexiness at the same time, I think of this:

I couldn't find a clip of this episode that was clean enough. I just always think of Monica trying to seduce Chandler with a stuffy nose when I'm sick. Funny stuff.

The positive side is, these things will all lead to improvements! There's sun on the horizon! There are little green shoots springing out of the ground. I can hear birds singing outside again. A bright future beckons. We put up our trampoline, we went to the park, we went for a walk and saw baby farm animals. I've been bonding with my family.

I feel spring-y even if I don't feel sexy just yet. There is a time for everything.

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Afraid of Saying No

One thing I need to work on in my writing is dialogue. If a writer is really good, a reader can tell who is speaking just by the way the character talks. You never want your character to sound more grown up than they should be, more moral than they should be, more feminine than they should be, etc. I’ve come up with an insane challenge for myself. If my blog is about me both entertaining readers, and learning at the same time then I need to do writing challenges. This is really scary, because I don’t always have time to make the posts as perfect as a novel will have to be. So be forgiving. I’m going to do something I dare say few if any have EVER tried. I wrote down a whole bunch of different types of characters. I put the girls on pink paper and the boys on blue. I folded them up and put them in a jar.
Every once in awhile, I’m going to draw out a boy and a girl and put them in a closet together and make them talk to each other. I’m going to test my writing of dialogue this way. I’m calling it the Seven Minutes in Heaven writing challenge. I have no personal experience with the game, but it’s pretty perfect for throwing two people into a boring little setting together, so that you can just focus on what they would say.

I was really scared to try this, and felt a little ill when I drew out the first two this morning. But when I got started writing…. Yee haw! It was pretty fun. If you have suggestions for me on how I could make the dialogue more believable let me know! Or if you just want to tell me that I should go ahead and publish a novel right now because you loved it so much then I suppose that would be pretty okay to read in my comments section as well. 

The setting: A comfortably warm closet, big enough for two people to walk in. Its contents are plush, clean carpet, an armful of coats hanging on plastic hangers and pushed to the sides, and one bare light bulb which can be turned on by pulling a string. The noise of a party can be heard faintly from outside the door.

Seven Minutes In Heaven Experiment Number 1

“Well, hi.”
Molly looked up at the tall, lean boy as the door closed behind him, taking the light with it. Her eyes were wide with fear.
“What?” he asked. “You never heard a southern accent before?”
“No,” her voice came out quiet and timid. “No, it isn’t that.”
“You want to hear less of the accent and get right to the kissin’?” James grinned into the darkness.
Molly stumbled back against the closet wall. James, with the dexterity of someone who’d been in the saddle on a bucking horse, with a lasso in one hand and his life in the other, reached out and caught her elbow. He steadied her and pulled the string between them, clicking on a single light bulb. “You okay?”
She shrugged as though she’d like to shrink right into herself, her elbow pulling away from his hand. Intentionally, this time, she fell back against the wall as though she couldn’t trust her legs to hold her up.
James could see that she was shaking. He reached out to her, but thought better of it and held his hands up instead, reassuring her with the sight of them as he backed up two steps and leaned against the opposite wall. He plunged one hand into his hair as he realized this seven minutes wasn’t going to be as heavenly as he was hoping.
It wasn’t that she wasn’t pretty. She was really something with her wide eyes, looking up at him like he was the ruler of her fate. Those eyes begged his understanding even now as he could only see the top of her head, her hair the light orange color of a Tennessee sunset, smooth and soft and undemanding.
“Hey. You wanna sit down?”
“I think I better.”
“Okay. You sit right on down over there, and I’ll sit here.”
She slid to the floor like her whole body was exhaling, but she curled her legs up tight against her. She stared at her knees as she tugged the bottom of her t-shirt down over the exposed skin at the back of her waist.

James thought back to a movie he saw once, where a policeman had to talk a girl off the edge of a tall building. He was that same kind of careful, not moving a muscle from his safe distance across the small space, and he kept his voice gentle as he asked, “You ever had a boyfriend?”
Her head snapped up and he saw a flicker of fire in her eyes, he saw that they were a shade of dark green that was awful complimentary to that light orange hair before she dropped them back to the floor.
“Gee, is it that obvious?” she asked into her knees.
“I didn’t mean anything by askin’. I can just tell you’re nervous.”
He was kind of glad the question ticked her off because it made her talk, and her voice was as nice as her eyes were.
“I’ve never kissed anyone before,” she said, “I don’t know what I’m doing in this stupid experiment.”
“Maybe you just wanted to get to know somebody that you wouldn’t normally.”

"Start with tellin' me your name."

"It's Molly."
“Well, Molly, you can get to know me. I’d like to know you.”
She looked up again, with the same surprise as the times before.
He caught those eyes with his own this time, and willed them not to run off again. “I bet boys have tried to be your boyfriend.”
It was the wrong thing to say if he wanted her to keep looking at him, but he guessed he couldn’t resist.
“Sorry. We can talk about anything you want. What do you like to talk about?”
“I’m not very good at talking. I’m shy.” She cringed as she said the word. She hated it, he could tell, but there weren’t many words she could use to describe the way she felt.
“I rode a bull for the first time last week.” He didn’t know why that had just popped out, but the way she was shaking had reminded him of it.
Her eyes landed on him again, her interest outweighing her self-concern.
“I haven’t told anybody this, but I was scared. I haven’t been that scared, maybe ever.”
“Come on. Anybody would be scared riding a bull! That’s one of the scariest things anybody can think to do.”
“Doesn’t matter. It might scare everybody, but nobody’s supposed to show it.”
“If it scares you, why do you do it?”
“The thrill, I guess. When you walk into somethin’ scary and you come out the other side? There’s no feeling quite like that. Maybe you knew that when you agreed to come in this closet.”

“I guess maybe it’s about the same thing. I just got tired of trapping myself. I wouldn’t ever have volunteered, but maybe when Dr. Amie asked me to do it I was just as afraid to say no.”
“So what happens if we just sit here like this and we talk for the next, oh, three minutes or so and then you get on out of this closet and you go back to your life just the way it was? You gonna have regrets?”
She thought for a couple of seconds and then he could see little pools of tears in eyes. “I’m used to regrets.”
“I’m not. So I’m thinkin’ maybe I oughtta come over there and sit by you.”
She shook her head, but he was already in the crawling position and he plopped himself down close enough to her that their upper arms were touching.
“Don’t worry. I’m just gonna sit here. Okay? I do like you.”
“You don’t know me.”
“You’re a nice person. Do you have friends?”
Again he’d offended her. “You’re not at all sensitive with the questions you ask, you know that? Yes. I do have friends, but clearly that’s hard for you to imagine.”
“Nuh uh! I was gonna say I knew you had friends, cuz you’re so nice. I bet you’re a really good friend. You wanna be my friend?”
She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, a smirk on her lips, like she doubted whether he’d really want her for a friend or she doubted it could ever work out that way.
“Of course I’d be your friend,” she said, and she leaned over and bumped him just a little with her shoulder. It was strange the way that little bump felt more exciting than half the kisses he’d had.
“How did your bull ride go?” She was playing with a little piece of string she’d pulled off of something now. Twisting it round and round like it was really important.
“I didn’t get killed, so that was a start.” He laughed a little. “Bull ridin’ kinda runs in my family, so I know it’ll come pretty natural.”
“Do you ever get scared just talking to people?”
He tossed his head back and blew air through his teeth. “Crud yeah! Do I seem like I’d be all that impressive in conversation? It’s not really my thing. You’re smart though. You gotta start believin’ that people are gonna like what you have to say.”
“Oh no. People would much rather hear what you have to say. You do things that are interesting. Tell me more about riding that bull.”
“Well, they have you in this stall. Hey! It is a little like this closet! Anyway, your team helps drop you down so you’re sittin’ right on the bull and the bull starts to get real angry. He starts to grunt and paw at the ground and the adrenaline is just pumpin’ through you! Any thoughts you had of turnin’ back are long gone by then. You just figure you have to go for it.”
She was looking at him like he was describing the day he’d saved a room full of nuns from a fire. He liked it. He took his jacket off, threaded the sleeve between his hands.
“There’s a bull rope. It’s tied to the bull, and you have to wrap it around your hand.” He reached out nice and slow and took a hold of her hand. She tensed, but tried to hide it. He watched the little string she’d been playing with drop to the floor as he wrapped the sleeve of his jacket around her hand, touching her fingers and palm with his more often than he had to. He pulled the jacket tight, and kept her hand in both of his.
“You hold on with just this one hand, you use the other one for balance.”
“Isn’t it dangerous to have your hand wrapped tight in the rope? What happens if you fall off?”
“You have to get your hand out real quick as your fallin’.”
“That’s awful! You could get stuck! Get your arm ripped off!”
She had become adamant enough that her face had gotten closer to his. He let the jacket uncoil from around her hand and let his hands coil around it instead.
“There are a lot of things that could happen. That’s the challenge and the thrill.”
She shook her head, “It’s way too scary.”
“I think you oughta try something scary, Molly. I think you kinda want to, and that’s why you’re here.”
He reached up and touched just the end of a lock of that sunset hair. It was just as soft as he’d imagined, and it smelled nice. She didn’t even back away when he did it; she just blinked and kept on looking at him.
When you’re in that stall, getting’ ready to ride? You gotta be the one to tell ‘em when to open the gate. You gotta yell out that you’re ready.”
“I’d never be able to get a sound out.”
“Maybe you wouldn’t be able to volunteer, but like you said, maybe when it came right down to it, you’d be more afraid of sayin’ no than sayin’ yes.”
It was barely a nod. It’s a good thing he was looking for it, or he would’ve missed it for sure. It was a nod he wouldn’t have wanted to miss. He moved his hand further up that lock of hair, until it wrapped around the back of her head and he pulled her forward. He put his lips on hers. It was gentle as could be, not rushed and desperate like a bull ride, but there was trembling thrill that raced through him. She opened her lips just a little, inched closer to him and he knew she felt it too.
A bull ride last eight seconds, that’s about how long the kiss lasted before the closet door opened. James pulled back and looked at Molly to see her reaction. She looked at him with wonder in her eyes, and not regret. He smiled, and for the first time she could see the deep dimple in his right cheek. He stood up and reached out a hand to help her up.
The question he asked was just for her and not for the onlookers, “You wanna, maybe, face some more fears together sometime?”
She looked terrified again, the real world washing her out like the harsh light from outside the closet. “Come on, Molly. You’d rather say yes than say no.”
“You’re right,” she whispered.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Love Funny

I LOVE funny. Already today I’ve laughed out loud a whole bunch.
I volunteered at a leadership group that my daughter is a part of and we talked about being trustworthy. My friend who volunteered with me played some funny commercials:
I LOVE funny. Already today I’ve laughed out loud a whole bunch.
I volunteered at a leadership group that my daughter is a part of and we talked about being trustworthy. My friend who volunteered with me played some funny commercials:

Then she had the kids make up their own honest commercial that advertised undesirable things like smelly socks. It was so entertaining and fun! I think you have to be really brilliant and confident to be funny (on purpose).
It’s Ryan’s day off, so when I got home we lazed around and watched Celebrity Apprentice. So far Adam Carolla is the funniest to me. He declared his charity as “White Kids Without Ipods”.
Ryan and I manage to make each other laugh quite a bit too. The other day we were at a party, playing the newlywed game and he had to answer the question, “What was the last thing you two argued about?” He wrote down three guesses. 1) Getting the last question of this game wrong. 2) She gets mad at me when I work out too much. (False because he rarely works out) 3) She didn’t want me to watch the Jazz game. The last was his official answer. It also was wrong. I guessed: He didn’t come home from work when he said he would. We didn’t fare very well at the newlywed game that night, but boy did Ry have everyone rolling.
We have a pillow that is made completely of memory foam and it feels exactly like a human body. It’s always fooling us. One of us will play footsies with the dang thing for half an hour before we realize it’s an inanimate object! It fooled Ryan today. For a minute, he thought the pillow was me. I asked him, “What did you think it was? My leg?”
He said, “I didn’t know, but I wanted to find out!”

I like my writing to be funny. One of the critiques given to me was that you could see some of my humor coming. You could see that it was being set up. That is really helpful to me! I can see it clearly now, and how to fix it! I often write in my head when I'm upstairs cleaning the house. I think, “It would be so funny if this happened, or if my character said that.” Then I set it up. It’s very valuable to know that someone can sense it being set up. So now I’m thinking humor is funnier as it flows right off of your tongue, or your fingertips. The hard thing about spontaneous humor is that there’s always a chance that you push the limits too far. The lucky thing about humor in writing is that you can usually go as far as your typing fingers and your crazy thoughts will take you, and then you can edit before you’ve revealed to onlookers that you can be wholly inappropriate or uncomfortably lame.
Do the books you read make you laugh very often? Who or what makes you laugh? Recommend a celebrity or TV show to me so that Ryan and I can watch them while playing footsies with our tempurpedic pillow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My True Love Story

Happily Ever After

Day 2,745ish

I’m upstairs in my bedroom, talking on the phone with a college roommate from years ago. Ryan has just returned from a trip to Seattle to visit his older sister and is downstairs being entertained by my parents. My brain has never handled multi-attention giving. I have to give all focus to one person or another. Call waiting, for example, is out of the question. So I’m pacing with the phone to my ear as I fill C in on the latest, while Ryan is left to his parent-impressing devices.
A lot of people are subjected to your romance-in-limbo when you’re writing to a missionary. They’re privy to so much whining, both current and past. They know about how you were young, too young and naïve, and in love. He went through an arrogant, heart-breaker stage. You went through half a dozen swear-him-off-forever rituals, the last one resulting in burying every reminder of him in your backyard. You finally moved on. He finally showed up, outside your window and saw you cuddled up with the guy you were moving on with. This somehow surprised him. He apologized… quite a few times. You agreed to write to him. These dear new friends that learned of your past, watched as you continued to be conflicted over two years of him being gone. They watched as you dated other people. They watched as you checked the mail every day, even on the days you knew there wouldn’t be a letter. They sometimes had to snap you out of your over-dramatics by shouting “Hell’s Bells!” when a letter came that made you doubt your future with this boy. Now the boy is home, and you’ve disappeared into an enchanted land of bliss. The outsiders deserve to know how it ends… or how it begins.
“So… how are you two getting along?”
“Oh C! I could probably make you throw up with how awesome it is. He is so- everything. I mean, yeah he’s totally got that whole nerdy return missionary thing, but to me it’s just proof of how focused he’s been. I love that about him! He’s still funny and confident. He’s got everything I loved from before and everything I think I could dream of for the future!”
As I gush, I poke my head out of my bedroom door and try to listen to whatever uncomfortable conversation might be happening downstairs, but I can’t hear anything.
“So… any talk of marriage? I mean I know he pretty much just got back, but two years and all.”
“A little talk about that. We keep trying to take things slow, but it’s hard to hold these feeling back.”
C makes an excited, girl friend sound on the other end.
“I know!” I say. “When I think back to that calendar I had hanging up in our room with his picture on it, and how I crossed off every day of the first four months, I honestly can’t believe I survived it. I didn’t know anything back then.”
“You knew enough to wait for him for two years.”
“True. I was a genius.” We giggle together as only girl friends can.
C asks another question, but it’s hard for me to pay attention because further neck lengthening out of my bedroom door has revealed Ryan sitting at the bottom of the stairs on a sofa, having a one on one conversation with my Dad!
“C, it has been so great talking to you, but I think I might have to go soon. Ryan is here, and he’s downstairs alone being forced into awkward conversation with my Dad.”
“What do you think they’re talking about? Amie. Do you think he could be asking for permission?”
“Oh my gosh. No. No. Too good to be true. But I’m all stressed, leaving him down there like this. I think I better go.”
C and I say our goodbyes, and I bound down the stairs in loud warning of my approach. “Hiiii!” I say. The two men in my life stand up and Dad saunters out of the room as I greet Ryan with a hug.
“Let’s go for a drive,” Ry says.
It’s dark and cold on this December night. I seem to be chattering to fill the silence. How was his trip? How was his sister? The nephews? The nieces? His mind is elsewhere and for some reason it makes me feel a little nervous.
He drives about two blocks to our church building. The building where we got locked in the closet together once. The building where we learned how to country swing together, where we first danced a real slow dance together to the love song from Aladdin. The building I’ve spent the last two summers cleaning, and thinking about Elder Leonhardt and what might happen when he returned home.
He parks and starts to get out of the truck, so I follow, sensing that I shouldn’t ask what we’re doing. He lets me walk ahead to the sidewalk, but he takes my hand from behind and pulls me gently to a stop when we’re standing directly under a street light. It’s a street light that I love. It’s a street light that we once danced under as giant snowflakes fell around us, the first time we ever acknowledged that we might have real feelings for each other. We were fifteen years old.
I turn around, and he’s on one knee. There’s a little velvet box in his hand with a sparkling diamond ring inside it. It’s all such a surprise, the extra good kind. I haven’t ever seen this ring, but it’s love at first sight. My free hand, the one he isn’t holding, flies up to touch my lips. He’s saying all of the right things, because that’s one of the things he knows how to do, but I’m remembering a moment from 1,745ish days ago. I wrote a poem about that night once.
We’re the enigma of Ferron First Ward,
Best friends who won’t admit to being more.
Sharing laughter, advice and everything else,
We’re even a mystery to ourselves.
Our activity ends, so outside we go,
To find the scene is washed white with snow.
My instant though is (what else?) romance,
So I challenge Ryan, “Can you ballroom dance?”
Suddenly I’m waltzing through the air,
I’m Ginger Rogers and he’s Fred Estair.
The church lamppost serves as our spotlight
As the snowflakes turn our ballroom white.
“Friends” with stronger feelings indeed-
But no inkling of where this night will lead.

“Yes!” I say, “Yes, I’ll marry you! I love you!” He stands up and wraps his arms around me. We hug and spin and laugh. He puts the ring on my finger, and I can’t stop looking at it. Then he asks me if I’m cold, and if I want to go inside the church to get warm.
We do go inside, and he reminds me that our Moms are both here for a meeting. “Should we go and tell them?” he asks.
My tongue, as with all of my parts, is near paralyzed with happiness and hardly wants to function, but I manage to smile and nod.
The meeting is breaking up with refreshments and mingling, so we interrupt nothing as we float into the room, Ryan holding my hand up in front of me on display while I fan out my fingers so that our Moms and friends can see the ring. Oh my gosh I’m wearing a diamond ring!
I look at our Moms and I see the years of creased brows and concerned eyes disappear before me, replaced by pure, self-less joy because this is right. This is finally, finally right.
Cue smiles, laughter, hugs and congratulations for a good while. We finally make our escape back into the night. I gaze up at the street light as we go by and we get back into the truck. As a possible foreshadowing of engagement and marriage not being the vague “happily ever after” that it’s laid out to be in the fairy tales, my mind jumps back over the years, all the way back to that beautiful, expert flirter who had her pretty little hands on Ryan’s chest in Sophomore history class when he was my boyfriend. It still smarts a little. I look down at the ring on my hand and then turn to him. “This means that we’re officially not dating other people anymore, right?”
His face snaps from the road to me at the audacity. “That’s usually what getting engaged means. You okay with that?”
I smile. For years he’s been making me smile. In all of the most glowing ways, this one feels like it’s the first. One day we’ll laugh that I asked that question, actually later tonight we’ll laugh that I asked that question. One day we’ll laugh about that history class. One day we’ll have a house, we’ll have kids, we’ll have grandkids. One day I’ll write our story, and share it with my friends. We are looking ahead to a future full of “one days”. I do believe in happily ever after, I just don’t believe in “The End”.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Meat

I juggle like a mad woman, and yes, that includes dropping lots of balls. Just a snippet of my morning so that you will understand:

My middle-school aged daughter wakes me up at 6:50 every morning so that I can drive her to school. Today we drove in the snow, and I've already admitted I'm a scary driver so you know that started the day out with some stress. The other three kids were all bright eyed and bushy-tailed by the time I got home. My warm bed was calling to me, and so was the last three quarters of the book I've been reading, but the phone rang. It was the daughter I had just dropped off. She forgot she needed a flash drive for an assignment... today. I spent the next half an hour trying to find one. Nothing. Ryan Edward said, "Forget about that, I'll take care of it. I'll buy one and take it to her on my way to the radio station, but for now I need your input on this ad."
We helped each other write a radio ad. President's Day Weekend is huge in retail and Ry is working overtime to get ready. That alone could be my soul focus and keep me busy. My muscles are sore from jogging house to house to put out fliers. I got bit by a small dog that day, but I'm too busy to make much of it! Just another humorous incident among many!

We finished the ad. Ryan amazes me that he can sit here and deliver it with so much enthusiasm and perfection just practicing in our family room. He rushes out the door, leaving me with the youngest two asking endless questions about super heroes, a messy house, meals to cook and carpool for dance lessons to get to this evening. Right now I should be getting the youngster ready for afternoon kindergarten. A minute ago the three year old hid in the pantry to scare me. My mind was racing so fast that even when I opened the door, it took me a full two seconds to realize he was there, after which I was absolutely stunned and terrified.
Every moment of every day is this same way.

Therefore, I've been thinking of doing more writer's blog posts in journal type format. I will pop on, share some quick thoughts or inspiration and pop away again! That's what my life allows, and that's quite honestly what I find interesting and entertaining in other blogs anyway. Plus I'll be able to update more often.

Here's what I learned about writing from writing a radio ad this morning:

First you figure out the most important information that you need your customers to know. Then you come up with a creative attention getter. Then you write the ad. You come up with a few sentences that you think are super clever. Then you time it. You find out it's twice as long as the thirty seconds you're allowed. You cut out everything extra that can be cut. It's still twenty seconds too long. Your husband cuts out your beloved "super clever" sentences. You pout. Then you realize that this is not that different from the critique group you attend. :) I think people really just want the meat. They want the meat to be well flavored, tender, juicy, delicious and cooked to perfection, but they just want the meat.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My True Love Story

Agh! So rushed! Ryan and I are taking the kids out of school and we will be in Ogden putting advertisement fliers on houses today. So if you see a cute family putting a flier on your door, don't yell at them. Think of the four cute, dimple cheeked children they're trying to put through college one day. ;) Here is the Monday story!

Bliss, and Other Words People Might Make Fun Of

Day 2,714ish (still)

It doesn’t matter where we are when we are together. We’re always wrapped in a single blanket. We’re always tucked away in a little corner. The lights are always dim, the music is always soft and romantic, and he is always the only person I can see. Tonight it’s in his sister’s basement. We’ve talked with Tash and her family, we’ve laughed and we’ve watched movies, sitting side by side, enjoying the renewed sensation of our hand-holding. It’s late, and the rest of the world is tired. I don’t seem to get tired anymore. Sleep means hours away from Ryan. I do it only because it’s required for survival.
I think he does it because it’s the right thing. Say goodnight. Pat my shoulder. Take me to the guest room. Close the door nice and tight. Walk down the hall to the couch with his blanket and his pillow. Lay there. Stay there. I wonder if it’s at all hard for him.
He goes to a hall closet to get bedding for that temporary couch/bed. I stay sitting on the place where he’ll soon be sleeping. I lay my hand on the spot where his rustled, boyish head will be. The lights upstairs turn off one by one. The house grows silent around us. The screen of the TV is blue in the cozy family room and the light from the hallway reveals Ryan’s silhouette as he comes back, carrying a stack of quilts and pillows. He plops the blankets near my feet and falls to his knees beside them.
I’m a girl and maybe not one of the subtle ones when it comes to speaking my feelings. I could say goodnight, be demure. Wait for this used-to-be-totally-successful-womanizer turned carefully-standoffish-returned missionary to either swoop me into a passionate embrace sometime in the next three months or stun me with an out of the blue trip to the office of a travel agent to plan the honeymoon that I had no idea was a consideration.
“About that little stop we made at the ring store earlier,” I say.
His expression wishes it could warn me not to ask, but knows I probably deserve to ask why I was suddenly ambushed with sparkling dreams, when I had resigned myself to a tortoise pace and a maybe never gonna happen.
Now that I plowed in and brought it up though, where to go exactly? “Sorry I freaked out. Can we please go back? Hold my hand, put a diamond on it. What’s the difference really? You can feel free to do either one of those things any time and in any order you want to.”
I end up with, “I really am glad you took me there. I was just a little shocked. We haven’t really talked about our feelings very much.”
“Yeah, let’s just forget about that for awhile. We can take our time.”
What have I done?
“No! No, I don’t want to forget it. I want to know why you took me there. I want to know how you feel about me.”
“I can’t talk about that.”
“Why not?”
“It’s just not time. It’s not something I planned to do. It’s too fast.”
“It’s not too fast for me. How can there be a wrong time to tell somebody how you feel?”
He looks at the ground, closes his eyes, shakes his head. It gives me a second to ask myself what the heck I think I’m doing. I’ve somehow become the girl I promised myself I wouldn’t be. I’m practically begging him. I need to shut up and back up.
He lifts his head. He’s still on his knees in front of me, so he’s looking right into my eyes when he says, “I’ve thought about this. If I tell you how I feel, then I’m gonna want to kiss you and if I kiss you then there’s no going backwards, it’s just full speed ahead and…”
I lift my hand to stop him. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. I did not plan on rushing anything. Stupid, stupid idea. Forget I said anything.”
He grabs my shoulders, slides a little closer. “No. I want to tell you. Every day, I want to tell you. How can I stop myself when you ask me to tell you?”
I wrinkle my nose, looking like a chastised school that’s only sorry for what her cuteness won’t get her out of.
He takes a breath. “Amie, since that day in the eighth grade when I saw your picture and found out you were moving back to Ferron, and probably even before that, I’ve wanted to be with you. I know I said I’d date people, but it’s hard because I just want to spend all of my free time with you. Being with you just makes sense. It feels right. Amie, I love you.”
He takes my face in his hands and he kisses me. The ever-successful-womanizer is still alive and well inside Ryan Edward, concealed just below the surface. Being out of practice does not diminish his set of skills even a bit. If anything, the forbidden fruit just got a little sweeter.
The kiss bursts with more emotion than any kiss from our past. It’s passionate, but controlled because we’ve come too far and we’re now too close to spoil what we’ve waited for. What we’re dealing with now is so much bigger than chemistry and pheromones. We’re dealing with forever, but the weight of it isn’t on us. It’s under us, lifting us until we could fly.
We break apart at the same time and look at each other, and I’m gonna go ahead and use the word rapture. So what? Rapture. People who don’t like that word probably don’t know how to kiss like Ryan Edward does.
I’m smiling. I can actually feel happiness radiating from my face, all warm and tingly. My voice is a quiet song when I answer him. “I love you too. I can’t believe this is real.” I realize I’m a little out of breath. “This can’t be real, it’s too perfect. It’s everything I ever wanted. It’s everything.”
He’s smiling too. Then we’re kiss-smiling.
He stands and pulls me off the couch, draws me in close, holds my head against his shoulder.
“I’m going to walk you to your room now.”
Strange how I feel every molecule in me dancing around. Strange how the basement hallway is covered in green meadow grass, wild flowers, and singing birds. Strange how every beautiful memory I’ve ever had is culminating and bringing itself to me right now to mix with this, the most beautiful.
The spell isn’t broken, even when he stops at the threshold of the guest room, hugs me once more, gazes into my eyes with a smiling face equaling the radiance of my own, and tells me goodnight, shuts the door nice and tight as predicted and walks back down the hall to make his bed on the couch.
I’m wide awake lying in bed, wondering if he might disappear because of too-perfectness. Rolling his words around and around in my head, knowing they’re mine and nothing can ever, ever take them from me. Deep down, feeling the end of all heartache in my life, the end of loneliness, the end of doubt, the end of trying to make life work without him. The tears were small. Small enough to dry up. Small enough to wash away. How small they were compared to this! Young girls, crying over a boy in your pillows tonight, take a glimpse of a future where one single night makes it all worthwhile. Look to a time you don’t dare imagine when the man of your dreams is brought to his knees, when restraint fails him and he whispers of his love and you share looks that say everything and you know there is a person in the world who feels everything you feel at the exact same time and it is the best kind of euphoria and heaven smiles down on you and sings hallelujah because the two of you made your way through this dark, mixed up world and you brought yourselves to a moment that you know with your heart and soul is so right and good and true. These words sing me to sleep like a love song lullaby, and I dream of seeing his face in the morning.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reality TV as a Learning Tool

Shakespeare only wishes he had these references.

First of all- sorry about no Monday story this week! It was my Mom’s birthday on Sunday, and then my youngest started throwing up in the middle of Sunday night and I decided I couldn’t pull everything off. My daughters had dress rehearsals and dance recitals the last two days, and my bedroom STILL isn’t put back together from the painting! I’m going to have to post pictures when it’s all finished! To those of you who noticed, and missed the Monday story- thank you sooooo much!
I’ve been wondering what misconceptions might have been born thanks to my pouring out “things you feel but don’t want to admit” in the last post. My youngest brother, for one, told me, “I think you’re too hard on yourself, Aim.” It got me thinking. He’s right, and maybe if I take advice from him, he’ll take advice from me. Heaven knows I try to get him to every time I talk to him. ;)
So here is what you shouldn’t take from my last blog post.

1) Amie is the exact equivalent of one of those pathetic American Idol try-outers who had to find out how pathetic they were when they outed themselves publicly. :)

No. NO. I am not the William Hung of the writing world. I have skills, natural talent, dedication, determination, creative ideas, etc. The critiques I received were telling me to get better because I have too much promise to quit.
Besides, let’s face it, we all like William Hung. When someone has a lot of heart, you can’t NOT like them.

2) “I read Amie’s blog and I LIKE it. I tell her so. Then she got a harsh critique. Was I wrong?”

No. NO! :) The things that critique groups catch are not the things readers would EVER be expected to notice. Reality show lesson number two:

Ever watched America’s Next Top Model? At first you think, “Oh man, it’s entertaining to see shallow people make a big deal out of posing in front of a camera.”

Watch a few more and you think, “Huh, there is actually more to being a model than anyone really suspects.”

Watch a few more and you’re like, “Oh. She is totally ‘smize-ing’. Nobody can smize like she can, and her pose is fierce."

There are little writing tricks, things to engage a reader more without them even realizing it. There are silly writing terms, ones that don’t sounds as pleasant as “smize-ing”. A reader shouldn’t ever have to think about them. They should just think, “This book is good and I don’t know exactly what I like about it, but it flows and my mind accepts it and all is well with the world because I’m reading it.”
I will probably blog about more specifics in writing soon, as a way of teaching myself and other new writers who come to read. Until then, keep visiting! I will entertain you, my writing will improve, you will probably barely notice… but it will, and when my first novel gets published I’m going to send free stuff to all of my first followers for your amazing support! Thank you and do come back Monday… my kids have all vowed there will be no more throwing up, however there have been no guarantees against sneezing with horrifying results.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My First Critique was not Without Drama.

Ryan Edward has been out of town for the last three days and I had big plans. One of my goals for January was to deep clean and repaint our master bedroom. The three days Ryan would be out of town seemed like the perfect time, cereal for dinner, dishes stacking up in the kitchen, me with no time for hygiene of any kind. I was up until the a.m. hours painting for two nights straight. Mix in the needs of four kids, visiting teaching appointments and a middle school newsletter deadline. It was an experiment in psychology!
I wasn’t even daring to think about the upcoming writer’s group meeting when I took a break to check my emails and facebook. I was hoping for a little contact with the outside world. A funny video clip, an inspirational song, a hint that there was still life outside of the paint fumes and the stark colors I had been staring at as they left the roller and clung to the wall (and were desperately scrubbed from drips on my carpet).
I wasn’t prepared for a reply to the first chapter I had sent out to this new critique group. It was from a man that I immediately respected at the first meeting. He’s a man, mind you, and he writes (probably among many impressive things) articles for fishing magazines. He writes beautiful, funny, manly, crass-in-a-good-way articles about the outdoors and life. He’s far from my target audience, but he’s brilliant at writing and critiquing. I knew right away that I wanted to impress him and I knew that he’d be one of the most helpful people I would ever get to read my work… if I was tough enough to handle it.
I wasn’t. *insert weak, weak shrug* He had a million genius suggestions for me. He told me about rules I was breaking that I didn’t know existed. He had a blunt but funny way of critiquing and I found myself laughing and snorting through tears. I suddenly needed Ryan and he was out of town. I suddenly needed to climb into my bed and not have to weave through wet paint and drop cloths to get to it. I suddenly wished I was well rested and at my most sane.
I wasn’t upset that my work wasn’t as good as it could be. I knew that. I was upset because I had deemed myself good enough to go and become a part of this group, and the truth was they knew a lot more than I did. I was a newbie, wet behind the ears, making mistakes that they shake their heads at. I didn’t want to go to the next day’s meeting. I knew they’d all tell me the same things that the email had. I could suddenly identify with those unfortunate American Idol try-outers who are so hopeless it’s embarrassing and nobody ever told them until they “out”ed themselves, publicly, to strangers.
I would find a way to justify missing the meeting and never going back. I would tell myself that I needed a few more years of practice before I was ready for a writer’s group. I would hide, make excuses and somehow find a way to live with my cowardice. I would give up my dream of writing. I would donate plasma for an income when my children would all be in school full time.
My husband would tell me that he understood my decision, but I would know deep down that he was disappointed in me. When my Dad passed away, Ryan told me that I was brave. He said that he saw something in me that he didn’t know was there.
I got to thinking, all writers get critiqued and the only difference between a critiqued writer who fails and one who succeeds is that the one who succeeds doesn’t quit. I’m a beginner. I’m starting out. There’s only one way to learn most of these techniques, and that’s to make the mistakes and have someone point them out. To swallow your pride and own your inexperience and humbly say, the one thing I can definitely keep doing is trying.
I cleaned myself up. It was tough after three days of no hygiene. No sleep +crying= puffy eyes. I scrubbed the paint splatters from my arms. I changed my clothes three times. I said hello and goodbye to Ryan and turned the kids over to him. I walked into the meeting ten minutes late.
It took forever for it to be my turn. The guy who had sent me the email critique was sitting next to me. I made a little joke about how he had baptized me into the group by fire. Everyone chuckled. Then everyone, especially he, encouraged me! They told me what was promising about my writing and about my book. They gave me ideas. They discussed and debated what direction I should go in. Two of the girls whom I adored at the first meeting and who write in the same genre as I do approached my friend and me about having a secondary, smaller, critique group. It was what I’d been hoping for!
On the way home I realized it. I’ve never been closer to being a writer than I was in that moment. That moment when I laid it all on the line, accepted the fact that it wasn’t good enough yet, decided that one day it would be and stared down the challenge of making it so. The reality is I’ll be re-writing a lot. The reality is being a writer is hard work. The reality is that it will all make me better and that’s what I want. The reality is I was really proud of myself… and to think… I almost quit.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My True Love Story

You Haven't Even Held My Hand Yet

Day 2,714ish

I’m seeing Northern Utah for the first time, driving through Sardine canyon on the way to Logan to stay with Ryan’s sister. It’s late November, and this canyon is arguably one of the most beautiful to ever deck itself out in fall colors. The trees and bushes cover the hillsides like a ruffled ball gown that never goes out of style. It used to be that the beauty was a dangerous distraction when the canyon roads were thinner and covered in ice, but the roads have been updated and are regularly maintained now, so the driving is easy. The scenery is easy on the eyes, the red, yellow and orange, a gorgeous backdrop for the boy that is my focal point.
Ryan tells me stories of travelling here as a young boy. It was about here, as the canyon opens up into Cache Valley,” he tells me, “that I would start to get nervous. I had to uphold my record, you see. I was always the first one into Grandma’s house. My siblings got trickier at trying to stop me as the years went on, vying for the seat next to the door at the stop previous, trying to lock the door I was next to without me noticing, but they never succeeded. No matter what I had to do, or who I had to tackle nobody ever beat me. The pressure was immense.”
I laugh. I don’t know why my heart jumps into my throat whenever I hear about younger Ryan. I remember him with his super tan skin and his blonder than blond hair and his innocent, glowing face. I think of young him with all of his hopes and dreams, his competitive nature and the look in his blue eyes that told you he believed big things were possible.
His hair is darker now. His skin, tucked behind a suit jacket for the past two years, hasn’t seen much sun, but his eyes are more believing than ever. Uhh… uhh… Cache Valley. We’re talking about Cache Valley.
“What sort of urbane place is this anyway?” I ask. Why is it bequeathed Cache Valley? Not Cache County mind you. No no! Nothing so drab and commonplace as that. Cache Valley. The place where big time dreams come true in a small town atmosphere, the place of dreams and dairies!
Ryan gives me a sideways grin. “Are you finished?”
“I bet they have fancy cows here. Not like our simple Emery County cows. I bet the cowgirls here wear their rodeo queen outfits year round!” Apparently I’m not finished.
“Funny you should mention the cows,” Ryan says. “I told Tash I wanted to introduce you to Cache Valley and she arranged a tour of a local dairy. We’ll be milking a cow in a sequined leotard within the hour.”
The mocking smile slowly slides off of my face, making room for my eyes to grow larger. Ryan laughs. “I’m kidding. Tash recommended I take you to the mall, and then we’re hitting A&W for root beer served in frosted mugs.
I couldn’t be more dazzled if we were slurping two ends of an extra long spaghetti noodle in Italy.
After visiting at Tasha’s house, I change and get ready while Ryan runs some errands. Then we venture into quaint, downtown Logan. It’s plenty big for the country girl in me. Even the small version of a shopping mall, suits me to a certain level of bliss. I’m content to meander around this place and follow wherever Ryan leads me.
Through the front entrance of the mall and straight ahead, there is a gorgeous gold sign, with a spotlight shining on it and reflecting. Its sparkle gives birth to a million baby sparkles that reside below it, glimmering diamonds of all shapes and sizes. I’ve never been transfixed by jewelry stores. They always seemed like stores for grown-ups, which I was not. Therefore, as Ryan walks directly toward this one, I know that he is doing that pretend play scenario that couples in the early stages of dating do… the one where they pretend they’re shopping for engagement rings. I’ve never been keen on the idea. Who is it that’s being fooled when they play that game? The salesperson? Or one of the two daters? Or are they fooling themselves? These are the questions I’m asking myself while Ryan is asking me, “What do you think about this ring? And how about this one? Do you like silver or gold?”
I don’t answer. I gaze through the glass as though I’m at an art museum and I keep repeating, “They’re all beautiful.”
The man behind the counter finishes answering the questions of another couple, shakes the man’s hand and turns his attention to us. A terrible shudder quakes through me. I don’t want to take this man’s time by pretending that I’m getting engaged to Ryan. I don’t want to betray my own mind and heart with this terrible tease. I hear suspenseful, the-murderer-is-now-making-the-stabbing-motion-in-the-horror-film music, instead of the quiet classical music playing over the speaker. The streaks of light from the glittering diamonds are reaching out, grabbing for me like sharp fingernails.
Ryan is shaking the salesman’s hand now. My feet are glued to their spot, my mind is trying to explain to my tongue how it can move to tell lies when it wants those lies to be true. What mocking tone can be inserted to hide the longing that my voice will surely convey?
The man reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulls out a business card. On the back of the card there is a name and a phone number. The man reads it and looks up again. “It’s Ryan, right? I talked to you earlier?”
“Yeah,” Ryan says in his easy, friendly way, “And this is Amie.”
Ryan has been here earlier? What lengths did he go to so that we could come fake ring shopping? The man has his name written down on a card for heaven’s sake! I’m stunned past friendly greetings and introductions. I hardly breathe a hello. This might not be a game. This might not be a lie. Ryan points a few more rings out to me. I offer a few more statements of, “They’re all beautiful.” Ryan asks some questions and the man answers them. I’m of absolutely no use to either of them. When we walk out of the store, I feel like I’m coming up for air.
I make a beeline for the nearest bench. “Can we sit down for just a minute?”
Ryan sits next to me, angling his knees toward me and I think he’s wondering why my face portrays shock.
“That man knew you,” I say.
“Yeah, I came and looked at rings earlier today.”
“I thought maybe you were playing one of those jokes where you pretend-” I can’t finish.
Ryan rushes to explain now. “It doesn’t have to mean anything too serious, if you don’t- I mean, I just thought it might be nice to look at them. I mean, have you ever thought about what kind of ring you want?”
“No. No, I honestly haven’t. I’ve only thought about what kind of guy I want. Never what kind of ring.”
“I’m a little confused,” I say. “We just looked at rings.”
“And we weren’t playing a joke on that poor man.”
“I guess I’m just surprised because… well, because you’ve been home from your mission for about two weeks now but you haven’t even held my hand yet.”
This registers on his face like a revelation. His hand, like it’s been given long awaited permission, reaches out and takes a hold of mine. A calm comes over me. A lovely, giddy sort of calm, like everything is back in its place and I couldn’t want for more.
“There.” he says. “How’s that?”
“Good. I like that.”
We stand up and continue to walk around the mall. There are people, but I don’t see them. There are things, but I don’t need them. Ryan’s blue eyes are full of what’s possible, his fingers are laced through mine… and it’s for real.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My True Love Story

Us and Them

Day 2,700ish


Traditionally, when missionaries return home they speak in church, and then because relatives have travelled some distance to see them, there is often a lunch served. Ryan’s Mom has reserved a nice, big room in the local city office building.
I wear a red dress. It doesn’t say, “Nevermind me. I’ll be the good, quiet girl over here in the corner, the one that didn’t know her worth when Ryan left.” The dress says, “Look at me. I’m the still good, but less frumpy, confident girl who will smile and make conversation with you, the one that has been dated and wooed and loved and won’t fall to pieces over a little heartbreak anymore. That’s how I behave too.
There are other girls here, and I smile when I see them talking to him. I hug his Mom, I hold his nieces and nephews and I let the other girls be, because if one of them is right for him it will benefit all of us to find out now.
He talks with his friends a lot. I steal glances from across the room as he mingles. I’m still intimidated by his friends. The confidence radiators. The girl magnets. Wish I dared interview them. Can you imagine getting inside their heads? Ahh! To find out what makes them tick! To find out why they choose to be with certain people over others. I settle for being genuinely kind when Ryan draws me into the conversation. I settle for watching as people snap pictures of Ryan with them, and thinking about how he shines brighter than the flash.
It’s probably been about two hours when I see Ryan make his way toward me, speaking with the people as he passes. He touches my arm, leans into my ear. “I think I’m about ready to get out of here,” he says.
“What?” I say, “Mr. Social? Come on… you’ve got a couple more hours in you, don’t you?” He laughs a little. “I’m gonna say some goodbyes and then I’m gonna take off. You wanna come?” A little thrill shoots through my scalp and all the way to my toes.
“Let’s see. Whenever I’ve been with your family, I have to do the cheek test,” I say. I squeeze my cheeks with one hand, open my mouth and move my jaw back and forth. “Yep. Cheeks hurting from all of the smiling. We’d better get going. If I stay much longer, my dimples will get too defined.”
He smiles at me and it’s like he’s touched me without touching me.
A little later, he leaves and he takes me with him.


It’s basketball season. When Ryan asks me to go to the high school game, I’m nervous. We are so perfect when we’re sitting on the plush carpet of his family room in front of the crackling fireplace. I don’t want to let others in to upset the delicate balance of us re-discovering each other. I’m using one of those little brushes that the paleontologists use to slowly bring forth the dinosaur bones, and I’m afraid that if we go someplace with the ugly memories, it will be like I’ve uncovered the teeth of the beast and it will come alive, whip its giant, reptilian head around and chew my face off.
When the girls from the past make eyes at him from across the crowd of fans, I’m not sure I’m equipped for any kind of preventative measures. I won’t drape myself over him like he’s something that belongs to me because, first of all he doesn’t, and second of all we’re taking it as slow as possible on the physical affection front, and slow for a return missionary is entirely possible. That means no draping.
I can’t drape… because of my decency.
So how come SHE comes up to him after the game as he and I are walking out right next to each other so close that our upper arms are touching as we walk? How come she comes bouncing and pouncing up and throws her arms around him? How come she starts a bubbly conversation with him and then he answers her and she laughs, grabs him by the arm and tells him how funny he is. Flamboyant and flirtacious and shameless… if those are the things he wants then he can just….
I’m quiet on the car ride home as I stew over the possibilities.


“Hey Ry! I didn’t expect to hear from you tonight. Tonight was your double date, right?” (One of his friends set him up with someone.)
“Yeah. I got home a little bit ago and I wanted to call you.”
Those words make my heart feel like it’s soaking in a warm bubble bath.
“Did you have a good time?”
“It was fun, and she was nice, but… I just, I don’t know- I just miss seeing you.”
I close my eyes and try not to let my deep breath out into the phone. I smile. “How is it staying with your sister?”
“It’s good. You should come up here with me next weekend.”
“That would be great! Sounds really fun. I’d love to!”
“Good. I’ll tell her we’re coming together next time.”
I fall back onto a stack of pillows on my bed and stare up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. I think wishes do come true.


I’m hurrying across the college campus when I see blue lid guy. Remember when the guys I dated had lid colors? Very organized. You haven’t heard about blue lid guy yet, but he’s an amazing guy, sometimes a steamy date, always a close friend.
He sees me from afar and runs over with a smile on his face. He picks me up in a hug and I give him a squeeze back. “What’s been going on?” he asks. “I hear Ryan is back.”
I try to act like it won’t be a big deal to either of us, but I feel a conciliatory smile slip onto my features. “He is home. We’re dating, and I think we’re getting serious pretty fast.”
“Come on…” he says, not wanting to believe it.
“He’s become a really amazing person. You’d approve, I think.”
“You’re not gonna end up with him,” he says like he’s giving me a fact he learned on animal planet.
“I think I might.”
“No, Amie. Not him. Anybody but him.”
I gasp, offended.
“He’s sooo cocky. I just can’t imagine a sweet girl like you with-“
“He’s always been confident, but I’ve always liked that about him, and now he’s humble too. You don’t know him. He’s such a good person, that I have to reach up to be on his level. Really. He’s so good.”
“You can’t. I can’t live with the thought of you and him.”
“I’ve gotta get to class now or I’ll be late. It was good seeing you.”
“Amie, wait! We’ve gotta talk about this-”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you around! Thanks for being concerned about me, really, but you don’t need to worry. I’ll make the right decision.”


Later, back in my favorite place in the world, in front of Ryan’s fireplace with paleontologist brush in hand, I sit pinching myself to try and believe this moment is real. “I talked to blue lid guy today. He wasn’t very excited when I told him that you’re home and we’re dating.”
“I can’t imagine he would be, since he wants you for himself.”
“He seemed to just want what was best for me, but he doesn’t know you.”
“Yeah? What doesn’t he know?”
“How selfless you are. How you’d do anything for anybody. How you genuinely care about people.”
“Blue lid guy and I have never gotten along very well. It’s hard to get along with someone when you both want the same thing. There’s only one of you, Amie, and a person can only share for so long.”
That familiar fluttery feeling tickles all through me, and I don’t want to be shared at all. I want to belong to Ryan.
“I can think of someone I’ve never gotten along with very well for the same reason,” I say. “Little miss flirty, grabby at the basketball game. I can’t believe that it has never given her pause that I’m right there with you. Never. Never even a moment’s respectful hesitation!” Rrrrrrgh! I added in my own brain. It’s so hard to hold back, but no girl wants to seem jealous or desperate.
Ryan chuckles. “She’s just a friendly person.”
I hate how we both feel like we need to defend the other people we’ve dated. Okay, I guess I hate how he feels like he needs to defend the flirty, grabbies. I still feel compelled to defend the people I’ve dated because they are really good guys and I’ll always wish for their happiness to my very core. I’m just starting to feel strongly that I’m not the right person for them to enjoy that happiness with. In the end, you’re led to one person to share life with and you probably have to cut ties with the others… even though facebook exists to creep you out.
If you’re smart, you choose someone who is all of the things on that list that you’ve memorized. If you’re lucky, you find someone who wows you and who is wowed by you. If you’re Ryan and I, you begin to realize the magic of having just spent two years exchanging thoughts and ideas, and before that, learning how to forgive each other, and before that, finding out you have amazing chemistry, and before that, learning that you can be best friends. The “them” becomes fuzzy. The “us” becomes clear. The teeth of the rock encrusted dinosaur are slowly uncovered and they don’t pose a threat, and everything starts to become so warm and gushy that you imagine the T-Rex is wearing pink bunny ears and sometimes… you even wish the best for the flirty, grabbies… because what the heck- he’s here with you now, isn’t he?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And The Verdict is... We'll Be Back After The Break

You guys! I did it! I went to my first ever writer's group! It was crazy awesome! There were men and women of all different beliefs and persuasions and hair colors and varying degrees of cynicism and talent and cleanliness! But we all had one thing in common. We love to write. I felt in my element. There used to be a time in my life when I didn't want to be around anyone that was different from me. The unknown was too scary. Now I want to hug the unknown because I have something in common with it. What's more I have so very much to learn from it! Which, could have gone without saying since you have to learn from something that was heretofore unknown.
So here's how it went down. The meetings take place in one of the best places on earth. The library. Seriously, I love the library. LOVE it. I get excited to go there every single time. It also makes me calm, which is my favorite way to feel (besides in love). I could almost pretend I was just walking in to check out yet another amazing YA book filled with smoochin' until I had to walk to the very back of the library, turn a corner to the left, find a little tucked away room with nothing but two long tables and people of various degrees of unknown origins. Gasp!
They were so accepting. That's how you get, I venture, when you repeatedly pick up a piece of paper on which you've typed out your heart and soul and you proceed to read it aloud to people with the express intention of having them cover it with red ink. *muffled sob*
I listened as the first woman read an excerpt from a novel she's working on. Then I listened as a handful of people critiqued someone's work from two weeks previous. I started to figure out the cruel nature of their set-up. :) You read, and you get the critiques at the next meeting. This is mostly great because it means that your wonderful helpers take two weeks to think over your work and suggest improvements.
This pattern continued. I listened to every comment with smiles and nods. I understood their language. Their suggestions to each other weren't foreign or surprising, even though their personalities were. It was clear right away that they were all of very different beliefs, but it was also clear even sooner that they had a great respect for each others' beliefs. I listened as people were hard on each other, yet kind at the same time. I listened to good-natured teasing and laughter. I was fairly mesmerized.
Then the man in charge looked at me and told me to read what I had. *GULP* Some stronger version of Amie took over my body because I picked up my paper and I started reading. I was in the alley with my Main Character. I was reading in a way that would make him proud.... trying to let them hear who he is. They were quiet. I thought I could sense them liking it, but only heaven knows! Now I have two stinking weeks to wait until I find out. Cue Ryan Seacrest saying, "...and we'll find out... right after the break." Cue my imagination punching him in his perfect nose.
Today I sent a copy of what I had read to the group by email with this message:

I want to tell you guys that I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting on Wednesday! It felt amazing to be around other writers! It's flat killing me, though, to think I have to wait two weeks for anyone to tell me whether my writing has potential or not. ;) There should be extended rules for new people. Put them out of their immediate misery with either applause, or fruit throwing.

Anxiously awaiting your thoughts (and I think I might throw up),

Last night I dreamed that I had joined a gourmet cooking group. I had to take a turn cooking a three course meal and then critique the dishes others cooked. I remember desperately trying to come up with something smart to say like, "Maybe it could use a little oregano." I have never critiqued anyone.... okay, besides my immediate family. I really don't know how to be critical of someone's creative work. One man last night quoted Stephen King, who wrote an amazing book about writing (that being the only book of his that I've actually read). The man said that King tries to do at least one of three things every day. 1)Read 2)Write 3)Critique. Each of these improves our writing. I knew about the first two, but I had never considered that critiquing someone else could help me. I thought it was just a necessary evil so that I could get help with my own work. See how I'm learning already???

Dear readers of this blog, hang in with me. Tune in after the commercials. I'll let you know if they think my writing just needs a pinch of oregano... or a whole new recipe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Steps

You know how on TV and movies you'll see someone who's afraid or in a crisis say, "I can do this." I say that every day in real life. All the time, I whisper to myself, "I can do this." Even more often I grab two handfuls of my hair, close to the scalp and say, "IcandothisIcandothisIcandothis!"
Today has been the pep-talky, whispering kind of day because it could be a big day for the writer in me. There is a local group called the League of Utah Writers. I don't know much about them, but tonight I'm going to find out a lot more. I feel a little like Nancy Drew... or more to my liking- Veronica Mars. I've been watching that show on DVD. What a cool, stylish and snarky sleuth she is.
I kind of like that I'm documenting this. Other writers are totally experienced in sharing their writing with others, getting and giving critiques, but they had to start somewhere. They were all here once, and everyone who wants to get to where they are, will be here at some point. Tomorrow you'll read one person's take on this experience!
Shhhh. I can do this.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My True Love Story

Hey guys! I'm going to update this blog a couple more times this week, but don't want to bug all of the facebookers, so just check back if you think of it! Also, for those of you that are invited to my private family blog and stopped looking because it's been awhile, I'll be updating it throughout the week. Big things. My Mom is married and we had a ring ceremony on Saturday night.

It's Either There, Or It Isn't
Still Day 2,685ish

We’ve eaten the welcome home cake. Ryan looked through, and thoroughly appreciated, the scrapbook I made. He was eager to talk about the pictures and tell us the stories. I highly recommend the scrapbook approach, missionary writers... and I highly recommend the last minute compilation of it because it wouldn’t be awesome to work on it for two years and then have the wife he ends up with throw it out. Aaaanyways….
Ryan’s older sister, Tasha is the last person in the family who is still awake and talking with us. She is the kind of person who can make conversation with anyone. I don’t think I can imagine an uncomfortable silence in her presence. She is also capable of making anybody laugh. In other words, she’s a fabulous safety net. Only problem is that I’m still in desperate need to impress mode. So safety? Not feeling it so much.
“Let’s go down to the den,” Ryan says to me. I start to walk that way and glance back to see if he’s following. I see Tasha give him a look that says, “Are you sure?” He nods, and she goes the opposite direction, up the stairs to bed. Had he been asking her to stay awake with us until now? I smile to myself at the idea. Don’t leave me alone with the scary and tempting female.
The den is one of the most unique rooms in the house. The walls are covered with book shelves, books here are treated as a valuable treasure. Where built-in book shelves are not, there are acquisitions from Ryan’s parents’ travels. Wooden masks, foreign looking swords, things that would almost be scary, if you didn’t know what kind and caring people collected them, but are certainly intimidating considering that this room mostly belongs to Ryan’s Dad, and it’s where he conducts the family interviews.
I walk in, my hands clasped behind my back, and I look at the familiar, yet still so curious, décor. Ryan sits in an office chair, but faces it toward the comfy sofa. I sit across from him. We make some more small talk and then Ryan gets out a thick, black planner. The planner has handles and is square, almost like a brief case. He tells me that he has carried it everywhere with him for some time now and that it contains his daily schedules as well as his future goals. Just when his blocked out and penciled in scheduling system begins to threaten doldrums, he tells me a funny story about how he and his companions once named their planners. Ryan’s planner is “Bully”. The other planners had nice names like “Chum”, he claimed, but Elder Bye had insisted that Ryan’s planner didn’t play well with others, thus “Bully” stuck. Nice to meet you Bully, and to realize that while Ryan has become grown up and focused, he hasn’t lost his energetic enthusiasm or his crazy sense of humor.
“Amie, I have come to whole-heartedly believe in goals. If you make them, if you focus on them, and work toward them, I just believe you can achieve anything you want to, anything at all!”
I smile at him, nod in wonder. The whole world is at his feet and he isn’t going to hesitate before climbing.
“So, all of my goals throughout the past two years,” he says, while flipping through pages of dates and quotes and numbered lists, “have been to do with missionary work. Due to those goals, I had all of the success I could’ve hoped for as a missionary. Now I have to figure out how to make that system work in this new life.”
“That sounds like a great way to go about things,” I say.
I know this isn’t a normal conversation that’s taking place. I’ve been dating, remember? I know that normally you talk about what music you like, or what movies you’ve seen recently. I know that I sound like a doofus when he talks about sophisticated things like “making goal systems work” (said in deep, professor voice) and I say, “Sounds great,” (said in voice of twenty year old, with blonde pig-tails, licking a giant lollipop). It’s okay though, because he recognizes that he has been out of touch with the “norm” and I recognize that the “norm” isn’t all that fabulous, so we make allowances for each other.
“Maybe you could help me make some goals,” Ryan says, flipping to the current date, followed by some frighteningly empty lines. He writes the words, “Things That Amie Needs from Me” at the top.
“Oh my… Ryan, I don’t know if I feel quite worthy to… fill in your… empty goal lines,” I say. “Give me an example of what it is you’re looking for here.”
“Well, what sort of things do you want in… a person that you date.”
“Oh!” Well this, I am an expert at. Are you kidding? I’ve been making lists like this since I was fourteen, backwards, alphabetical, by order of importance, and in my sleep. The genius goal maker has met his match in the jeopardy category of “qualities you look for in the opposite sex”. There’s only one problem.
“Alright, while I could fill this page with characteristics like: Shares my beliefs and values, confident, funny…” Ryan jots these down with grave attention, despite my hesitation. I reach out and lay my hand on the corner of Bully. “It might not be the best use of our time since, you know what all of them are,” I say, and then I pause and I feel my face get warm, “and you know that you already are those things.”
I take a deep breath, draw my hand back into my lap, but continue leaning forward because I’m about to address my biggest concern about Ryan, and I didn’t think I would ever speak it out loud. “There is one thing though, and it isn’t something that can be made a goal. It isn’t something that can be spelled out on a piece of paper.”
He continues to hold his pen at the ready as though he seriously doubts this.
“I want someone who is wowed by me.”
Ryan’s eyes narrow. He doesn’t understand, but he wants to.
“I want him to look at me and think ‘wow’, I want him to listen to me and be wowed by what I say, I want him to be amazed that he gets to be with me, because when he’s the right person for me that’s exactly how I’m going to feel about him.”
He knows. This isn’t something that a person can work toward. It’s either there, or it isn’t. It’s a scary thought, but I think people actually get married without being wowed. It’s something more than just love. Gosh, it’s almost like worship, and maybe it’s wrong for me to want that from someone… but who’s perfect? You don’t have to be perfect to be wow-worthy, and dang it! I want someone who is wowed by me. Ryan either is or he isn’t. Or he will be, but if he’s not- he’s out. That’s what I’ve promised myself.
Out of respect for my sincere desire for the wowage, Ryan writes three letters underneath the previously listed characteristics. “WOW.”
It is way too early for us to proclaim our wowed feelings, or the lack thereof, so we read some quotes from his planner. Then he tells me some specific experiences, amazing stories, about how he set goals that seemed almost unattainable and in the end, they were reached. We mix our acquired knowledge, mine intangible and full of emotion yet so real and important, his solid and built on experience, faith and work, tested and tried. We’re encouraged. This is what relationships should be. Differences shared and understood, taking each other by the hand, and achieving more together. There has been no actual taking of each other by the hand, mind you. No, we’re still a safe arm’s length apart.
I feel like Cinderella, but more attentive, because I’m ever aware of the clock ticking toward midnight. Ryan soon offers to walk me home. We walk under a clear, November sky. In our small town, we have ever appreciated the view of a million stars, not blocked out by city lights. We walk the same street we’ve walked together so many times before and it feels perfect. At the doorstep, we say a quick goodbye. I think there’s another hug in the future, but for now, it stays in his eyes. I do see it there, but it’s not the thing I’m looking for. I’m not searching his eyes for intentions, for the memories or the future, for the connection between the letters and this person, I’m searching for something indefinable that we have summarized into three little letters. I’m looking for WOW.