Monday, June 30, 2008

Five Paychecks

In honor of getting hired for the assistant librarian job at the high school (though tentatively pending school board approval per the letter) here is a list of five organizations that have put my name on a paycheck.
  • Great Road Pharmacy, where I was a cashier (the closest I will ever come to working in the field of medicine!). I worked for Bob the pharmacist, who also owned the pharmacy. Small independent pharmacies are rare these days (in fact, the Great Road Pharmacy no longer exists), but we are lucky enough to have two here in Springville. We get all of our prescriptions from the one our old neighbors own, and we get ice cream at the other one, which still has an old-fashioned soda counter.
  • Camp Arcadia in Casco, Maine, where I was a swimming counselor and a lifeguard. I believe there was only one paycheck at the end of the summer. Once, when the girls in my cabin were driving me crazy, I calculated how much I was earning per hour. If the girls went to sleep when they were supposed to and didn't get up early, I figured I made about ten cents an hour! But I had great job perks, including swimming in a pristine lake every day!
  • Novell, Inc., where I was a managing editor and then a marketing manager. My last stint after about a decade working in the computer industry (where I always managed to have the least technical jobs in the least technical departments, so don't ask me too much about how computers work on the inside - I only know how to use them).
  • Utah Valley State College, where I taught writing classes as an adjunct instructor. I loved, loved, loved being in the classroom. Hated, hated, hated the stacks of grading. But I think I've figured out a few ways to grade more efficiently and still give individual feedback, so I've decided to go back to teaching this fall. But this time (and officially as of the stroke of midnight tonight!), my paychecks will say Utah Valley University on them.
  • The U.S. Treasury. Yes, I've actually received paychecks from the U.S. Treasury, not just tax refunds. Two summers in a row I filled in for two different secretaries on maternity leave, both at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., where I interned in college. I worked for the staff attorneys one summer, and then for Judge Helen Nies the next. That was an amazing experience, not the least of which because I got to live in one of my very favorite cities!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Why We Suffer

I listened to an interesting interview yesterday in the KRCL Radio Active archives* with Bart Ehrman who wrote God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question, Why We Suffer.

He discussed all of the standard answers to the question and why they don't satisfy him. Because the radio program is produced in Salt Lake, I kept waiting to hear someone call in with one of the answers that I'd learned in church and that seems fairly clear in the scriptures.

Bart Ehrman asks: If God is all powerful and loving, why doesn't he prevent all this overwhelming suffering? How can the two character traits co-exist?

I think that God wants us to step up and do what we can to prevent or alleviate suffering (whether caused by mistakes or malicious choices, or natural disaster, or whatever). If we're here on earth to learn anything, it's how to serve others and lift their burdens. Love our neighbors.

So sure, we're tested in our own suffering, but if God is actually testing us by design, I believe it's primarily about what we're doing to help others, not ourselves. (And I personally need to get to work on that.)

No one ever did call in with that take on things. Maybe I'll write him a letter.

* Warning: Radio Active is pretty left of center, sometimes downright hyper progressive. The fact that it's produced here in Utah makes me smile.

Monday, June 23, 2008


For the past week or two I have had many moments of serious restlessness. My favorite diversions are no longer satisfying. I need to be engaged in something more substantial. I'm ready to be engaged in something.

I'm taking this as a good sign. For so many, many months after we closed our book store I was unable to muster up much emotional energy for any significant endeavor. In fact, the idea of engaging in anything that required any kind of commitment was emotional and overwhelming.

Because of that, I've procrastinated. A lot.

I've ignored old household projects that needed to be done and let new ones build up. I've put off getting fully involved in the details of the art exhibition I'm curating. I've put off eating healthfully and getting into shape. I've put off dentist and doctor appointments. I've put off stacks of filing in my office. I've put off getting more involved with the museum store. I've put off entering boxes and boxes of books online to get them sold. And so on and so on.

I've also had to wait and wait for other things to fall in place. It's a long process getting hired on and scheduled for classes at UVU (I started a year ago and still don't know when or what I'll be teaching this fall). It's a long process applying for and getting a job with the school district.

I am bored, bored, bored to the bones.

It's time to get things done.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Five People

Five random people who have taught me lasting lessons without even knowing it:
  • The cute guy in my college skiing class (I don't even remember his name) who was on the swim team but who was a lousy, lousy skier. Everyone on the bus thought he was one of the instructors. He was a proven athlete who was confident enough to take a risk, putting himself out there to learn something he wanted to learn even if he looked funny doing it.
  • My cousin Joe's wife, Tammi, who is an amazing mom. Years ago I watched her helping her kids do tricks on a trampoline, and she always made sure that they ended their turn doing something she knew they'd do successfully.
  • My aunt Sigrid, who just takes care of business. I was baby sitting my younger cousins one night and when she came home, probably about midnight and probably pretty tired, she immediately set to work sewing on a button that had fallen off the coat she was wearing.
  • Todd and Jonathan, two writers I worked with years ago on a documentation team at an educational software company. They spent hours passionately discussing style guide controversies, like whether or not we should use commas in a series. And I do mean hours. Technically I never earned a degree in English, but I sure feel like I have!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Collective Choices

I have long thought that we don't even begin to recognize how our individual choices taken collectively define our society for good or bad. Yay for this artist in his attempt to help us better understand what we do in the aggregate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Micro Diary

I used to be diligent about keeping a journal, but it's been a struggle to be consistent since I got married. Roger's not personally to blame - just his presence. I used to write at night before going to sleep, but that's when I slept alone.

Anyway, I've felt bad about losing track of the details of my life (and by extension the details of Jack's childhood).

So my latest scheme is to write a paragraph a day an post it in My Micro Diary. I'm hoping that doing it online will increase my sense of accountability so I'll actually follow through!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Time I usually go to bed: Quarter to twelve. Time I usually wake up: Quarter past eight. I have no idea why I seem to be so consistent with the quarter hours. But I sure love not having an alarm set now that Jack is out of school.

Current food jag: BLT sandwiches - the true taste of summer. Whole wheat toast, real mayonnaise, vine ripened tomatoes, crisp butter lettuce, two slices of bacon (the already cooked kind that you microwave for 20 seconds, and the package swears three slices are only 70 calories and a couple of grams of fat so it doesn't seem too sinful).

Last book I finished reading: Ambulance Girl by Jane Stern - A memoir about a woman in her fifties who suffers from depression and all sorts of phobias who becomes obsessed with becoming an EMT and actually does it!

The most important goal I really want to stick to this summer: Giving Jack a substantial job every day that will teach him something new and/or make a big difference around the house.

Favorite new blog: High Desert Home - a woman in Oregon who writes this and that about raising children, homemaking, being aware of how she moves in the world and creating a life that she loves living.

Last family party: Getting together at Roger's sister's house after hearing our nephew Eric speak at church. He just got home from a mission in Indiana.

Current favorite exercise: Biking around the neighborhood, especially with Jack and Roger. We do not have to go at little kid pace anymore. Jack is often out in front of us these days!

Plane tickets currently in my hot little hands: Roundtrip Salt Lake to Chicago for two fabulous weeks at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.

Biggest thing hanging over my head: Trying to help my brother sell his house in Boston. He's been living in Kenya for more than two years and the market is crashing. No stress there!

What I'm going to do tonight soon after I finish writing this post: set the beach chairs out in front of the neighbor's house and watch the town fireworks (it's Art City Days here in Springville).

What I plan to do when I wake up in the morning: Read in bed until Jack wakes up.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Frozen in Grand Central Station


I like to think that every day could bring an unexpected twist or turn that will change the direction of something in my life. I like getting the mail, I like getting phone calls, I like running into people I known when I'm out and about. You never know what opportunities might come up.

A few months ago I had a couple of weeks in which doors seemed to be opening left and right. We'd like you to be on the library board. Okay. We'd like to you spruce up the museum store for an exhibit opening. Okay. We'd like you to think about managing the store on a long term basis. Okay. We'd like you to interview you about teaching writing classes at Utah Valley University. Okay. We'd like to you apply for a 10 hour a week job at the high school library. Okay.

Since then, I've been slowly putting all of the pieces together.

I'm now on the library board, a three-year term. I spruced up the museum store. I'm still working out the details for a longer term arrangement, but will definitely be involved through the end of the year because I need the store to support the picture book art exhibition I'm working on. I got hired on at UVU but am waiting to find out my class assignments. I applied at the school district for the library job, but am a bit worried because the posting indicated it would be a 20 hour a week job. That would be too much to juggle.

One minute I'm crazy busy, then I'm hurrying up to wait. Slowly but surely the trajectory of my life, at least for the next year, is taking shape.