Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is the World My Oyster or An Overwhelming Sea of Possibilities?

Lauren and I were discussing her future tonight. She was telling me about the creative writing graduate program she's thinking of applying to. Directly after our discussion, I read Lexi's post that alludes to the "what's next" post-graduation feeling.

I graduated from college about a year and a half ago and am still wondering the same thing. What's next? What do I want to do with my life for the next few years? Then visions of the GRE dance in my head. I am so ill-prepared for that test, but I must take it on the 16th anyway because my mom graciously paid for it. Plus, I think I want to go back to school in the fall of 2007. What do I want to study, you ask? Here's what I have thought of so far:
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Linguistics
  • Speech Pathology
  • Neuroscience research
  • Endocrinology research
  • Medical illustration
  • Culinary School
  • Editing
Notice that I didn't number that list. They're in no particular order. That's because I have a huge preference for all of them. I am so interdisciplinary, it kills me! Yes, yes, I know it's great to have such interest in lots of subjects. Besides that, I think I have an aptitude for all of them. While those things make my life enviable, they also make my life a little paralyzing. Which career path do I choose at this moment in my life? What would I be best at?

This is one of the thoughts that keeps me up at night. Do I live one of my I'll-never-be-able-to-do-that dreams? Baker or dialect coach. Or do I live one of my I-can-definitely-do-that-but-it'll-take-a-lot-of-time-and-money dreams? Ph.D. in Neuroscience or Endocrinology. Either option is good and righteous. And therein lies the worry and the fear and the paralysis.

So maybe I'll just take a vote. Which career could you picture me entering? And do you ever have these feelings, too?

Thing I'm thankful for: good conversation.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, it's technically not Thanksgiving anymore, but I wanted to wish you a happy one, just the same. I want to say that I'm thankful for my family; they are the most important people to me. They -- along with a few other staple items -- are always at the top of my list of things I am grateful for.

Tonight I want to give my thanks, though, for two other things: my ability to read and my access to information. After mom and dad went to bed for the night, Brooks, Jacki, and I stayed up reading. Brooks and I got into a conversation about cotton because my parents (perhaps illegally) picked some when they were on their way to Tybee Island earlier this year. We wondered about the cotton plant and marveled at cotton production. I consequently pulled the C World Book encyclopedia from the living room bookshelf and looked up cotton. While we were reading about the cotton gin, Jacki picked up a book about 20th-century America and started reading that. So there the three of us were -- sitting around on Thanksgiving night, expanding our minds. Brooks and I went from cotton to silk to Damascus to oil to petroleum to natural gas. Brooks then brought my dad's laptop out, I went up to my old room and grabbed my molecular model set for organic chemistry, and we just kept learning.

Brooks and Jacki finally went to bed about a half an hour ago, and here I am typing this blog post. But I just wanted to publicly give thanks for the amount of information at my fingertips and my ability to take in that information. People with great minds have invented miraculous machines throughout the centuries and life is full of awesome natural processes, and at some point before tonight, someone wrote about those machines and processes and published their writings in encyclopedias and on the internet -- from which I can now enjoy the luxury of learning. There are few things more gratifying than getting understanding, and that's what I'd like to celebrate during this holiday weekend. I am so thankful for learning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Single in the City, or Why I Like My Friends

I've been thinking lately about being single. In my early college years, I didn't really care. There was no desire to get married or "be in a relationship," for that matter. Now, though, to be married would be heaven. I don't know when my mind made that switch, but I do distinctly remember feeling lonely around my junior year of college. I was about 21 years old or so.

For a while, I just wanted to find someone I liked and could love, and for a while, I was frustrated that there were girls who constantly dated but didn't want to get married. I went through feelings of anger when girls who are much younger than me married boys much older. I was irritated that many guys between the ages of 20 and 35 didn't regularly ask girls out on official dates. I felt hurt and confused when guys I liked didn't like me back. I went through all of these emotions and many more, and I guess I still think about them sometimes.

I'm 25 now, and I'm just waiting. I'm "working on myself" and that kind of thing, but mostly I just sit patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) in the world of loneliness that is singlehood. As I was driving home tonight, I conceded that I love to be alone sometimes. My roommate is at her parent's house right now, and I have the apartment to myself. I don't have to clean the main living area as much; there are dirty dishes in the sink and I don't care a bit; and I don't have to talk at all. (I do like you around most of the time, though, Lauren.) Being alone is nice at times; I think most people would agree with that.

But being lonely is never nice. It's a sad and depressing feeling that makes me feel old -- as if I've outlived all my loved ones.

Here are the things that get me through those negative times:
  • baking
  • watching movies
  • blogging
  • reading
  • surfing the internet
  • shopping
  • cleaning and organizing
  • going to church activities

That last one is really what I wanted to highlight with this post. I'm so thankful for my friends. I'm glad to have people to talk to and have fun with. I'm not glad that my friends aren't married either, but I'm glad I'm not alone in my loneliness. I marvel that some of them are still single, and it really is a testament to me that I'm not still single just because I'm not pretty enough or talented enough or righteous enough.

I know 25 is a young age, and I don't need to fret too much just yet. But anybody can feel lonely. I'm just happy that most of the time, I have friends to keep my mind occupied. I love my friends. So, I guess in the spirit of the forthcoming holiday, I want to give thanks for my friends. They make life exciting in a time when I'm away from family or wishing for the future to arrive. Thanks, friends. I love you a ton.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Color Theory, or Philosophical Analogy?

We live in a cynical world -- a cynical, cynical world. HA! The writers of "Jerry Maguire" may have been onto something. But I would've said that we live in an accepting world -- an "anything goes" world.

It seems that according to society today, people should be accepting of every "lifestyle." I put that word in quotation marks because I think it's just a fluff term that people use to mean "life choices" or "behavior." By calling our choices "lifestyles," I think we take a lot of personal responsibility away from ourselves. And style implies a subjectivity, a relativism. People's lifestyles are subjective now. There are practically no rules. Sure, we probably all agree that there should be rules and regulations on the pharmaceutical industry, education, government officials, and the judicial system. Those are musts in a functional society.

But when it comes to moral standards and ethical rules -- stop the presses! That's just not an area where rules are a part. Once someone starts delineating what kinds of lifestyles are acceptable or not, they're labeled as intolerant, close-minded, conservative fanatics suffering from social myopia. I can somewhat see the correlation, here. I understand that this is a sensitive area -- people fall into gray categories sometimes, whether they want to or not. But the problem I have with the world today, is that everyone is expected to accept the gray. Extremes are to be shunned. Definite social rules and boundaries are politically incorrect.

And to this I say: What makes gray? It's impossible to have gray without the definitive colors black and white. Without black and white, there would be no option for a gray, no room for other choices, or "lifestyles." It's existence of extremes that give us the ability to choose.

So I appeal to any reader who may actually understand what I think I might be unsuccessfully explaining: Don't let the gray world be intolerant of the black and white. It's very existence depends on those two.

Thing I'm thankful for: rain.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How I Got My Current Job, or How I Knew My Life is Divinely Guided

So most of you know that I work at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. What you probably don't know is how I got the job. To me, it's a very interesting story because by all accounts, I probably shouldn't have passed the interview. In fact, I shouldn't have even applied for the position.

It all began when my friend Brian sent me an e-mail about the job. No -- no, I think I must go back earlier than that . . . It all began when I graduated from college and was looking for a job. I applied to position after position in New York City because that's where I wanted to move. I was going to move in with my sister, and together, we would take NYC by storm. My mom and I took a trip to visit, and the day we were supposed to leave for Georgia, I got a call from Cambridge University Press -- they wanted to interview me the very next day. So I changed my flight plans. The interview went very well. I felt good about the whole thing, and confidence is really not my style. I began to think, "Wow, this is really going to happen. I'm going to move to New York. Do I really want to be here?"

The answer to myself was a most definite no, although I didn't want to admit it at the time. And interestingly, I didn't get the job. I got back home and had some other good leads, but no bites. Nobody in NY wanted me. I thought, "Well, maybe I should move to Salt Lake City." (Because most of you know that that's where many young and single Latter-Day Saints are . . .) So I applied to jobs there. And nothing. By that time, I was getting worried. It had been almost four months since I had graduated from college. What was I going to do? I couldn't live with my parents forever! And I had to start making some dents in my credit cards and student loans.

Out of sheer desperation, I applied to a job at my alma mater, the University of West Georgia. My brother-in-law Clay had found the job posting a few months before and told me to apply. I had decided against it at the time, and anyway, the closing date had already passed. But when no one else wanted me, I checked to see if it had been filled. It hadn't. So I applied. Within a week, I got a call from Steven Broome, the supervisor-to-be for the position. He had once taught Summer, Brooks, and me a photography class, and we got along alright. He scheduled me for an interview the next week. The interview went well, and I got the job. I had applied to about 50 jobs outside of Georgia. I applied to two in Georgia . . .

About the time I started my job at UWG, I decided it was time I became active in my church of young and single Latter-Day Saints in Atlanta. I had been going for almost three years, but only on Sunday. I started to go to every possible social activity. At family home evening, I met Brian, and we became fast friends. Around the end of April, Brian e-mailed me and my friend Yvonne to let us know about a Web development position opening up where he worked: the CDC. They were looking for someone with writing and editing experience, he said. "Hey, that's cool," I thought, "but not for me." I let him know that it didn't really fit what I wanted, but thanks anyway. He kind of kept e-mailing me about it, so I thought, "Fine! At least I can just send in my resume to get him off my back!" Besides, I didn't think I'd have a chance at the job, to be honest.

But after I sent my resume in, I got a call from the recruiter saying they wanted to interview me. Okay, okay. I'll go. But I already have a job, and I don't want a new one, and I probably won't get the job, anyway.

As soon as I stepped into the building, I was a little terrified -- professional office buildings always scare me a bit. The recruiter led me into a big conference room, and there I waited for the three people who were going to interview me. They were all very nice and friendly. My questions were going okay for a while, but again, I knew I didn't really want the job a whole lot. Then came the following question:

"Has there been a time when you just didn't get along with someone, but you handled that in a creative way?"



A repeat of the question.

"Umm . . . well . . ." I can't think of ANYTHING! When has there been a time when I handled a bad relationship creatively? When?!? What qualifies as creative? What kind of stupid question is this, anyway!?!?

"Uh, I can't really think of anything . . . Can I think about that and answer it later?"

So one of the interviewers said that was fine, and we continued with the interview. At the end:

"Do you have any questions? Is there anything else you want to add?"

Yeah, there's something I want to add -- my answer to that question I skipped! Even though I don't want this job, I don't want to look like you interviewed a complete idiot!

But I couldn't think of anything. So I didn't even address the skipped question. LAME!

I walked into the building that day feeling terrified. I walked out feeling stupid and embarrassed. The interview was okay besides that one question, but it wasn't spectacular. "At least I already have a job," I thought.

I felt the exact opposite of the way I had felt in that interview at Cambridge University Press. So I called Lexi and told her about it. I told her I wouldn't get the job. She said I would. I explained the whole interview and told her that no, I wouldn't get it. And that was okay by me. She insisted that I would get the job, though, because I was supposed to be in Atlanta. Yeah, sure -- okay, Lexi. Whatever.

But I think I did know she was right. The next week, I got a call from the recruiter, and she told me they wanted to hire me. This opened up a whole new set of problems I wasn't prepared to deal with (e.g., making the decision to move, telling my current boss I was leaving, etc.). But I dealt with them anyway, and here I am in Atlanta -- working at a job I never thought I wanted or would get.

I'm 850 miles from where I wanted to be when I graduated. And who knows where I'll be a year from now. And who knows how I'll get there. But I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father has guided my life to this point, at this place. My story might not seem so coincidental to you, and maybe I'm making it coincidental where it's really not. But I don't think so. Despite my ramblings and unanswered questions in that interview, my co-worker/supervisor Stacey said she thought I did fine. She said it was apparent from my portfolio that I would be perfect for the job. And they had interviewed four people before me!

When I analyze all of this in my mind, I think about how I didn't really want to move. I was scared and nervous about the whole thing. What if I didn't like the new people I'd be working with? What if I couldn't live on my own? What if I couldn't do this job? Those were all justifiable fears at the time, or so I thought. But now I know I can do this job -- I'm doing it. There are challenging moments, but I just love some of the the people I work with. And Stacey is one of the coolest and smartest people I have ever met!

The thing I think about now, though, is that those fears aren't justifiable, really. Now or then. Now I know that God guided me to where I need to be at this very moment. Now I know that every disappointment and every failed plan has a divine purpose. It's not predestined -- it's guided, and depending on how I change my actions according to those disappointments and veering plans is what agency is all about. And God helps me when I make a mess of things (i.e., that interview). Those are all very good reasons not to fear. And yet I struggle with the feeling of fear everyday. But I'm getting better, especially because of this whole experience. And I guess God knew that would happen. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: quiet morning moments.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

That's How I Like My Winter Clothes, Too

Like the American Eagle indie/neo-Bohemian models, I too enjoy wearing low-cut tank tops and tissue-thin tights in the wintertime. Mini-mini-skirts in cold weather? No problem -- just give me a fashionable scarf!

Thing I'm thankful for: sweatshirts.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Free Associations

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Yvonne that I really liked. The post is called "Freewriting Activity." It's the product of a class assignment she had -- to write about her name via free association. I thought it was a brilliant blog idea, and I wanted to try it myself.

So here are my free associations to my own name:
Sara. A princess without an h. Aitch. I remember when I heard that the girl who lost the spelling bee lost it because she spelled the letter h wrong. No one believed it. Who knew it was even a word? But sounds can be words. Onomatopoeia. If I were in a spelling bee, that's the word I would mess up. That would be my losing word.

Actually, I think I would do pretty well in the national spelling bee. That's the kind of pressure I like. The kind where you use your brain and spit out facts. The kinds of activities where you use your brain to quickly strategize and move your body in coordination with other people's movements -- I'm not so good at those. Softball, volleyball, basketball -- forget it. Performative talents that require body movement are no good either.

Sports = pressure.
Describing the physiology of muscle movement during a test = no pressure.

People who are comfortable with their bodies and who can talk confidently are neat to me. My mom is like that. She thinks she can do anything, so she probably can! I wonder if I'll ever be like her when I'm 57.

My dad speaks with confidence. People think he speaks with such ease, but I know that he practices his speeches over and over again in front of the bathroom mirror. He practices while he tightens the Windsor knot of his tie in the morning. I'm like him a lot, but he's good at sports. Maybe he practiced that, too. I don't know.

Thing I'm thankful for: being home.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Vocabulary of an Irish Twin

Okay, folks -- this is the last Irish Twin post for the year. I think the idea to have an Irish Twin-themed blog month was a good one, but very difficult to carry out. It's hard trying to write in sync with someone else. Add in Lexia's part-time job at Nobu -- where she works the night shift -- and you've got almost an impossible posting schedule. It's a shame; we had so many ideas. And now October is over, my many personal blog ideas are forgotten or outdated, and Lexi and I still have to wrap up the Irish Twin thing. Here's to more luck (and organization) next October!

For now, I'm going to do what I should've done in the beginning of October: introduce you to my Irish Twin, Lexia. So. This is my Lexia Dictionary:

Bolshevik -- Lexi's favorite word.

Brad Pitt -- Lexi's middle/high school love.

Britney Spears -- Lexi's look-alike. Lexi's impersonation of the singer/dancer is dead-on.

Feet-shuffling -- Lexi's form of walking.

Gumbi-esque -- Lexi's body type. In flexibility, not color. Synonyms: "loose as a goose," squishy, flexi-Lexi.

Gwen Stefani
-- another favorite for impersonations. Usually involves a wardrobe change into track pants, sports bra, heels and socks, ponytail, and red lipstick.

Hairbrush -- a device not used by Lexia.

"I'm just saying." -- the catch-all phrase Lexi uses at the end of an argument or discussion in which she has made her points, but clearly the other side isn't agreeing with her assessments. Sometimes used with a turn of the head or eye-rolling. Just is the emphasized word, and the tone is nonchalant.

"I'm organizing my room." -- the thing Lexia does and says a few days before she has a major school project due.

Jimmy Fallon -- Lexi's current love.

Mad hip-hop rhythm -- Lexi's favorite form of dance. Attributable to her ghetto booty.

Nanna, Ninky Nanna, Binkers, et al. -- nicknames for Sara. All are used in a higher-than-regular-pitch tone, except when Lexia is troubled about something in Life.

Pink -- Lexi's favorite color.

The Robot -- a favored dance. Always accompanied by the following song lyrics: "What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?"

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups -- Lexi's favorite chocolate candy. The favored form is the miniature cup. An entire bag is the preferable serving size.

"Saraaaaa!" -- the exclamation that precedes the request "Will you [do the following] for me?"

Sexy Lexi, Le, Lex, et. al -- all nicknames for Lexia

The Shoulder Shrug -- the body movement that signals Lexia does not want to take the time to use words to speak to you. Various meanings are "whatever," "so," and "I don't care."

Socks -- items of clothing Lexi does not own.

Sparkles -- Lexi's favorite form of shine.

Starbursts -- Lexi's favorite fruity candy. Favorite flavor/color order is pink, red, yellow, and orange.

"Will you get me [a towel, a drink of ice water, soap, some clothes ready for cheerleading practice, etc.]?" -- the oft-repeated question in the 25 years she has known Sara.

What are my common sayings and favorite things, I wonder. Let's see what Lexi says.

Thing I'm thankful for: pumpkin bread.