Pals are Good

The front porch in York


memoirThis is one of my stories: a story about the scriptures and a story about me, surviving. My Facebook feed has been littered today with people posting scriptures (because #LIGHTtheWORLD). I’ll be honest: I skip over them. They’re all such long scriptures. I dunno. I guess I’m not spiritual today. But guess what? I have my OWN scripture to share. Only mine comes in the form of a story. So, it’s actually WAY WAY longer than my friends’ scripture-social-media posts. If you know me, that’s how I do. I have a story for everything. And I’m not good at telling short stories. I go on random roads down many a tangent and throw excessive amounts of detail at you. Turns out, that’s my modus operandi. This story comes from my memoir I’ve been writing for some time. I spent a summer, when I was 19, selling books door-to-door. This is right in the middle of my story so you’ve missed out on introductions and background, but I think you’ll still get the gist of it. If not, post a comment about how silly I am to throw these random stories at you! By all means: NOBODY WANTS TO READ A SILLY BLOG. I mean. Come on. Go and read something amazing from a blogger who has incredibly pinnable content. Then, PIN ALL THE THINGS! Have fun. Now, on to my story.

“We might move you to a new sales area,” Kit had told me Saturday night. I replayed that statement over and over since then. It kept me up much of last night. It rattled through my brain as I sat in church. And now, sitting on a couch at a home in York, Pennsylvania, my mind repeats her voice over and over.

Deb sits next to me, talking with Eric. Byr is in the kitchen with others. Somebody is sleeping on another couch in the room. They’re laughing and cuddling and telling stories about selling. They’re acting like college kids. But it’s all muffled by my own mind.

“We might move you to a new sales area.”

Did Kit somehow know? Did she find out about that time that I hid in Byr’s trunk? Deb didn’t find out about that. Did she? Deb wouldn’t tell. Would Byr? She might for the sake of telling a good story. She wouldn’t tell Kit. But if she told Brice, would he tell Kit? Is that why Kit wants to move me? Because I hid in a trunk? That wasn’t in the rules.

The rules.

“We might move you to a new sales area.”

That was mentioned in the rules.

You may have to move some time during the summer. (New sales area, a more competitive roommate, better living environment, or a roommate that left the field early.)

Byr and Deb need a more competitive roommate. That’s probably it. “We might move you to a new sales area.”

Deb was laughing at Eric who was looking over at me. Is he waiting for a response? I have no clue. I nod slightly. “We might move you to a new sales area.”

Ugh.

I thought about the rules again. There was another rule about working with another first year. Deb, Byr and I were all first years. We were the only headquarters without a student manager or experienced book seller roommate. We were the only all-first-years HQ.

So I hid in a trunk, so what.

Never work with another First year dealer, unless recommended by a student manager. Never meet another First Year dealer for lunch. When you need to you can work with another Student Manager.

I thought back to when Kit read this rule to me, sitting in Sales School in Tennessee. She had modified the rule and crossed off a section that was an absolute no-no. She crossed off: “unless recommended by a student manager.”

“We won’t do that,” she said. “We’ll only have you work with another manager. It’ll be great!”

And then just last night, she’d told me, “We might move you to a new sales area.” She must have found out that I was with Byr during the day. We didn’t meet for lunch, though. And really, we didn’t really work. There was that one time where we went to the birthday party at the Shoemaker’s. Mama Shoemaker turned to Byr, when she came in and didn’t shut the door behind her, and stated, hands on her hips: “Do you live in a barn?”

So if I had to move, I’d have to start over in a new area. I’d have new roommates. I thought about the other girls HQ. The group in Middlesex used to have Kate. I liked Kate. But she went home. A student manager that went home. Even the managers quit this job. “We might have to move you to a new sales area.”

Byr was laughing in the kitchen. Something was funny. Capital F Funny. Her laugh snapped me out of my thoughts for a moment. Eric and Deb were talking about a friend of hers back home that wrote to her about her job as a life guard at the pool.

“She probably doesn’t have a book girl tan line,” Deb said, as she laughed and pulled up her sleeve to show her white shoulder, stark in contrast to her tanning arms.

“I know, right?” Eric pulled up his shorts to show a sock tan line.

I got up from the couch and stood there. I was going to go somewhere. Where? The kitchen? Outside? Home?

Oh, the kitchen. My laundry was probably done and the washing machine was just off of the kitchen. As I wandered through, Byr was standing around laughing with several of the guys. I snuck past, ducked into the closet used for laundry, left the lights off, and switched my clothes from the washer to the dryer in the dark.

After shutting the dryer and turning it on, I put my hands on top and drooped my head.

“We might have to move you to a new sales area.”

Why was I so anxious about this? I didn’t eat breakfast this morning. I hadn’t had any lunch yet. I wasn’t hungry. I was anxious.

Because I can depend on Byr to let me find her when I can’t stand this job.

I couldn’t do this alone.

Maybe I need help from someplace else, I thought. Kit had talked to me at church this morning. She mentioned the possible move again and seemed to pick up on my dread. “You should read Mosiah 24,” she said. “We talked about it in Sunday School. I think it would really help.”

“Mosiah 24?” I asked.

“Yeah. Mosiah 24.” She smiled. “Good chapter.”

I left the dark laundry room, walked through the kitchen without stopping for lunch, into the living room and grabbed my scriptures off of the coffee table. I kept walking out the front door.

We were at a two-story, white, wooden house, on a busy road in York. It had a long, wooden front porch that was sagging with age. It hadn’t been painted or stained in perhaps a decade. It might give you splinters if you looked at it for too long. I walked along the planks in my sandals so that I could sit down to the left of the door.

I stared at the traffic. Cars driving back and forth. Back and forth. Left. Right. I turned my head with them. Left. Right. Back and forth.

“Okay, Mosiah 24,” I mumbled.

I leaned my back against the house and slid down into a seated crouch, my scriptures perched on my knees. I thumbed through the pages, flipping past the Bible until I was in the Book of Mormon, following the tabs on the side until I got to the book of Mosiah where I opened and flicked the pages to the 24th chapter.

I rested the book down on my lap and looked down to begin reading:

“And it came to pass that Amulon…” I couldn’t read the words past that. I was crying. Ugly crying. Tears pouring down my face, blurring my sight. My shoulders shuddering with muffled sobs. A headache rapidly starting. I’d been holding it in, all of the anxiety, and I needed to sit down. I needed to stop.

The tears kept spilling down my cheeks, but they started to change from tears of anxiety, to tears of relief. I looked around, through my tears, at the cars speeding past. I wondered if they could tell something was happening on this sagging porch as they drove by. I looked back down at my scriptures. Why hadn’t I read these for so long?

I did need to read Mosiah 24. Kit knew. My shoulders stopped shaking, although the tears kept coming. I gulped big breaths of humid air and it felt good. I lifted my eyebrows in surprise. I was even smiling.

As the tears slowed, I smudged them off of my cheeks and eyelashes and continued reading. It was a story of a group of people in bondage. Their captors demanded that they not pray. So they prayed in their hearts instead. And there was the verse that I needed most:

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

In the age of loneliness, I am not lonely


lonelinessI read the saddest thing today. Apparently, we live in the Age of Loneliness.

It’s not the digital age, we’re far past the stone age, and it ain’t anything lingering from the space age.

Today, we are lonely.

The average American has only one real friend.

One.

You guys, I depend on people.

MY PEOPLE.

I don’t DO loneliness. It was the darkest feeling in the midst of postpartum depression after Dom was born. Loneliness haunted me, even while I was with a tiny person 24/7.

But today, people exist apart. Or so the research states.

Even though we may go about living and breathing surrounded by people, we don’t have moments of genuine connection with them.

I remember looking for connection on the tube in London. Here I was, an American visiting this foreign country where everyone rode public transit, and I was no longer sitting alone in my car, getting places. I was sitting next to another living, breathing person, no steel walls of my vehicle to separate us, and nobody made eye contact.

We don’t speak to strangers on public transit.

And yet, they all have a story. People are INTERESTING!

As I prepared for becoming a mother of two, I KNEW that I would need a game plan to manage emotions. I wanted to be as ready as I could be for postpartum depression.

I want you to know that I feel like it’s working so far. Life isn’t easy, but it’s GOOD. And one of the big reasons for that is because I don’t often feel lonely. I have my days, but to be honest, that is only my fault now, because I have friends and family who have told me they’re only a text away, or just around the corner.

Did you know that I’ve had neighbors stop by simply to take me out for a walk? Or to drop off groceries? Or to take Dom for a little play date so I could nap with Gabbi? Or to deliver cookies their daughter made especially for me? Friends have dropped off dinner. People have stopped by to visit. They’ve given of their time. I can’t keep track of them all to send thank you cards. I feel like I am surrounded by MANY real friends.

How could I be a happy mom if I only had ONE? Seems like a big burden to ask for love and support from only one person. That poor, one friend of the average American must feel inadequate.

So, this is my shout out to my friends to say thank you. Thank you for scaring away the loneliness.

Mike! Knock, knock, knock. Mike!


Dom really likes our neighbor. Mike lives next door and most of his kids are grown and married, but Dom doesn’t notice the age difference. Mike is his buddy.
Dom likes to bang on the window and call for Mike, whether or not he is outside.
We have a small wall between our yards so Dom likes to pull himself up so he can spit over the wall into Mike’s yard.
If that’s not love…

What I couldn’t do myself: Christmas is back on


image

Emily helped.

Pogi helped.

Nathan helped.

Mom helped.

Christmas is on at the Elkinseseseses. Dom is very happy about it. He loves Christmas lights and he loves the school bus and motorcycle ornaments.
December was off to a rough start with strep throat making the rounds, no snow but the world outside has gone dormant and grey, the expenses of home ownership, and just feeling lumpy. That’s right: lumpy. I don’t know what that means so feel free to interpret.

The helpers above stepped in and my lumpy mood went away. Christmas music is on, I don’t mind the blah weather, and it looks like the holidays at our place. I needed the help.

Asking for help is not a talent of mine.

Blog Awards, a.k.a Chain Letters


I was nominated for the Liebster Award. Pretty exciting, right? It’s a little bit like getting a chain letter of old. Thankfully, this one didn’t come with death threats about what will happen to you if you don’t comply with the rules.  At least, not a death threat that I am aware of. When I searched around the world of Google for an image of the award, I found there were several to choose from and perhaps, not any considered “official.” I did the only logical thing and drew my own:

liebsterI know, right? This thing could hang on the wall at the Louvre. It’s an unspeakable piece of beauty. I amaze myself even.

It is an honor, though, to be nominated. My friend, Kristina, gave me the nod. We’re buddies from back in the singles ward days and both married handsome, brown guys. Our kids might be able to get tans. She has a fun time writing over on her blog, A mom in need of advice.

It took me forever to write a response post to Tina’s nomination. But, today, I knew I ought to do it when I was catching up on past XKCD cartoons and ran across this mention of livejournal.com:

Do you remember livejournal? I logged in just the other day and I remembered my credentials. This was, once upon a time, one of the places that I posted a blog. I’ve been a bit of a blog player, bouncing from site to site, setting up camp, and not staying for too long or really committing. In the end, though, I did settle down on wordpress. Lucky you, wordpress.

Anyway, I digress.

So I’m going to cheat a little bit because I’m not going to follow all of the rules. I’m just going to do the part about answering the 11 questions that Tina posted for me. Here goes. Enjoy (in case you haven’t already this far into this mighty blog post):

Why did you start blogging?

I have no clue. Because I write.

I have been blogging for almost a decade. I started up when livejournal was “happening.” I also used MSN Spaces until it was changed over to Windows Live Spaces and also blogged there. One day, for some random reason, I relocated to wordpress. When I got married, I considered moving to a new account with my married name, but it was such a hassle. Hassle, I tell you. And changing your name already has enough hoop jumping. I STILL blog today because I’m happy to have the record of my past and it gives my friend ambient awareness of my life.

When was the last time you cried?

A few minutes ago. It’s been a hard day. Dominic was up for a couple of hours last night, which he doesn’t do anymore. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, either. So the day just started off wrong and by this afternoon, I was worn out. I felt one, little tear slide down my cheek as I was reading an email from my husband. It was a poor, exhausted tear so it slid down extra slowly. Nobody saw and I went back to the efforts of working.

What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?

This one may be a tie between Thundercats and Brave Star. If anyone else possibly remembers Brave Star, you deserve an award, and not the chain-letter kind. Something awesome like a drawing from me of a sad panda. In order to prove that you remember it, what was his horse’s name?

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

A house with a yard big enough for a vegetable garden, a kitchen that is up to Chef Guapo’s standards, a master bath, decent closet space, and something like 4 bedrooms.

What is your favorite song on your iPod at the moment?

iPod?

What scares you?

Having another baby.

What is your favorite post on your blog? Why?

I have no clue. I used to have the most fun with Therapy Thursdays. I used to write an imaginary dialogue between a therapist and myself. We discussed such deep things as getting enough sleep at night and doodling. Isn’t doodle such a fun word to say?

What is the last book you read?

Gone Girl. It was a twisted story with an interesting twist. I should get back in the habit of doing book reviews on my blog. They help me to remember to think critically about my reading, too.

If you could give the world once piece of advice what would it be?

Love God and keep the commandments. (It’s two, but they’re said in one sentence.)

Do you collect anything?

I used to have a sugar collection. Yeah, that’s right: sugar collection. I collected two packets of sugar from a restaurant. I don’t think restaurants really get their logos on their sugar packets anymore, though, so it wouldn’t be fun to collect a bunch of SYSCO packets. One day, I used all of those sugar packets (from all over the U.S.) to ask a boy to a high school dance. I dumped them all in a big, empty sugar bag and wrote my name on the packets, one letter per packet. The boy (I don’t remember who) had to dig through them all to find the 14 packets among hundreds and then unscramble the letters to spell lauren campbell. Oh the joys of asking to dances in Utah.

Are you a morning or night person?

I don’t know that there is another person IN THE WORLD who is less of a morning person than I am. Do you?

Thanks again for the blog nod, Tina. Much appreciated.

And what about you, internet? How would you answer these questions above?

Laboring for Labor Day


We’ve been doing some work on the condo, but I’m saving that for a later post. Due to this, we spent a lot of time working on that over Labor Day weekend. I even have pictures… for later.

So despite my title, which I could change, but I just don’t feel like it, I’m going to show you pictures of the times we took breaks from our labors, or rested, if you will. (That sentence needed a few more commas, eh?)

porchDom loves playing with his daddy. Nathan can get him to giggle. A lot. Saturday morning, we spent a little time relaxing on the porch, enjoying the slightly cooler weather. It was much better than the 100 degree days we’ve finished the summer with. The weekend was overcast and even a smattering of thunderstorms tumbled in.

That afternoon, Nathan was away at a baptism while I was home and Dom was napping. I was finally getting cleaned up and was in the bathroom cutting bangs because I decided that I wanted them again when Nathan came home and had a concerned look on his face. I, of course, whispered (Dom’s sleeping, remember): “What?!”

“Aaron and Ada are getting married!”

I was a little confused because, I had already replied to the Facebook invitation for the “After Party” so I figured they were getting married FIRST in order to party afterwards. What I didn’t know, though, was that their marriage was taking place in Salt Lake (they currently live in Seattle). Aaron and Nathan had been roommates for several years before he became my roommate. Ada had then become a roommate as well when she started dating Aaron. So once I learned the wedding was here, I understood why he was so concerned about missing it.

Turns out, our invitation to the wedding part was lost in the mail. Boo postal service.

Nathan rushed back out the door to at least show up for the pictures/food afterward and congratulate them. I waited for Dominic to finish his nap then we joined them at Jordan Park. They had a pavilion there and had put down white construction-paper tablecloths. I found their bucket of crayons and grabbed a handful. Nathan sat with Dom and tried to teach him to doodle. (What a funny word: doodle.) Mostly, Dom just attempted to eat the crayons, but he scratched out a few colors.

coloring

On Monday, we were able to meet up with the now married Aaron and Ada for lunch at Gourmandie’s. It was nice to get them to ourselves and just sit down and talk. That’s not really doable with everyone around celebrating their wedding and all. Dom enjoyed himself a breadstick.

breadstick

Did you labor or play for Labor Day weekend?

The Power of Music


Fridays, I telework which means I often stream a Pandora station. Thanks to my brother, Thane, I have some new Jazz stations to enjoy.

But today, I felt like pulling out an old CD binder to see what I could find inside.

Don’t you love the mystery of putting on an old, recorded CD and finding out what songs are on it?

I found one called ‘Frosh Mix.’ I made it at some point during my freshman year at BYU and you know how it is with music: listening to certain songs can take you right back to a certain moment in your life.

It was a very random mix filled with MP3s downloaded from Napster. Oh yes, back in the pre-record-label-suing days when you filled up your download queue with songs every morning and then went to class.

Shannon let me use her PC that she rented from BYU to download the music. So many songs. And then we probably got on AOL’s IM client and chatted with all of the people in our BYU ward. I was submersed in the college world, something that I didn’t really do again until my senior year. This didn’t help with any sort of reasonable sleeping schedule, but since it was BYU, many of the activities were either study groups or ward activities. The BYU college world.

A few memories that popped in the ol’ head while I was listening to this CD:

  • Always keeping a gallon tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer
  • Seeing the convertible that some college girl managed to drive into the small canal down the hill from our dorms (she was okay, physically)
  • Running up and down the bell tower stairs
  • All night cleaning marathons prior to monthly inspections
  • The Sunday afternoon fire in the dorm room next to ours—thank goodness for concrete walls keeping it from spreading
  • Midnight visiting teaching, last day of the month
  • The kissing wall
  • One of the boys who got drunk (not sure why he wanted to go to BYU) and flopped down two stories of bushes (he was okay, physically)
  • Everyone running outside to experience the first snowfall
  • Sitting under the tree on the hill watching people walk home from class
  • Sunday dinners with homemade rolls
  • Saturday morning American history study sessions / debates
  • Waiting in line at the testing center, for an hour or more
  • The teeny tiny closet I somehow fit all of my clothes in
  • A roommate who borrowed my car and somehow drove on the wrong side of the road (there was a median)
  • I only remember going out to dinner with friends twice: once to the Pizza Factory and another time to Los Hermanos
  • Getting in trouble with campus police for throwing snowballs
  • Trips up the canyon for campfires
  • Learning to juggle a golf ball with a golf club in my golf class
  • Hitting myself in the face with nunchuks in my karate class
  • Double cheeseburger with grilled onions from Scoreboard grill
  • Sleeping in the back row of a Physics class
  • Actually attending the Tuesday devotionals
  • Dressing up as the Spice Girls for the ward Halloween party

Oh man, we were just SO CRAZY at BYU. Living on the edge~!

And I loved it, honestly and in all its quirkiness. Great roommates, great ward, tough classes and that year, some of my best grades during undergraduate studies.

What songs do you have that take you back to some great memories?