Beach Day

Am I ever going to catch up writing about vacation? Do you ever have the intention of writing deep, soul-searching rambles, letting your mind wander and return refreshed? Would you ever let your mind bend, commit a perambulatory dimension shift, jump up an energy level or two to uncharted parts of the brain?

You would? Good for you. I’m just going to talk about the beach.

We decided to go back where it all began, at Jacksonville Beach, where Reilly proposed to me.

When we got to the parking lot near the pier where we lost Jenny’s keys, it had started to rain. We waited for a little while then headed to a nearby gas station to get something to drink. When we returned to the parking lot, it was raining even harder. Because we are supreme nerds, both of us brought books to read and talk about. We cracked a window and read while it rained.

About 45 minutes later, the rain stopped, and we carried our books, drinks, and towels and found a nice place on the sand. The sky was still overcast, so it wasn’t very hot.

THE pier.

We stayed at the beach for the next two hours. Here is a list of things we did while we were there:

  • Applied sunscreen
  • Read and talked about books
  • Remembered seagulls from our engagement day
  • Drank our drinks
  • Got sandy feet
  • Took photographs
  • Watched people
  • Made fun of people
  • Peed in the ocean

Squinty photo

More clouds

Still more clouds

We only peed in the ocean because we’d been drinking those drinks from the gas station so we had to go, and the parking lot bathrooms were locked, and we thought it would be sort of fun to pee in the ocean. I mean, let’s be honest. We walked casually enough to the water and allowed enough space between us so that we wouldn’t by grossed out by the each other’s warm current. We walked to where the water was about to our hips. We didn’t talk to each other for a few seconds, then I asked Reilly if he was done. Then we let the ocean gently roll in and rinse us.

But here’s the thing: Do you know what acid rain is? So, because people pee in the ocean, and water from the ocean evaporates and forms clouds, and some of these clouds make rain, I wonder if we often think about how often we pee on ourselves. Despite this, I still and will always love the beach.

After a couple of hours it was lunchtime, and we decided to eat at the Metro Diner. It’s a small Jacksonville chain with some distinct charm. It’s just a few blocks from the beach. If it weren’t for my friend Jenny’s recommendation, we wouldn’t have thought to go there.

Yummy food here

Reilly had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, and I had an enormous fish sandwich. The staff was really nice, and I took half my sandwich to go.

It was a sunny December afternoon when we got engaged a year and a half ago. As is typical for Florida summer afternoons, it rained on our way back to my parents’ home. But not very much. And maybe we had driven far enough away from the ocean and the wind hadn’t blown the clouds to where the familiar smell in the rain wasn’t my own urine.

The Effects of Butterbeer

Last month Reilly and I visited family and friends in Florida. Part of that trip included three days at Universal Studios in Orlando. Everyone who has visited Universal Studios since June 2010 has explored the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

If you’ve never been, it’s as amazing as everyone says it is. Even those who haven’t been enchanted by this ubiquitous enterprise will have a wonderful time at the park. The Hogwarts ride is inside a giant Hogwarts-looking castle. Portraits of various HP personalities adorn the heavy stone walls, and a lot of the people in the paintings move and talk to you, just like in the books/movies. Harry, Hermione, and Ron holograms come out to tell us what to expect during the ride. The effects impress, the ride thrills, and I talked to (at?) Harry during the whole ride experience. Both times.

We also rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster twice. Two dragons go out at the same time on different tracks, and they chase each other, twist around, and pass each other at high speeds. It’s one of my favorite rides.

Harry Potter World teemed with lots of British tourists. Some may ask why British people would come to a place that simulates where they come from, but having so many of them around actually added to the authenticity of that part of the park, especially the Londony town. You can wander the town and browse various toy and souvenir shops. Ollivander’s wand shop is very popular because many children buy into the idea of a wand choosing its wizard. (We didn’t go inside the shop; the line stretched endlessly, and I wasn’t sure about the open carry laws for magic wands in Utah.)

After our first time riding the Hogwarts ride, we decided to split a butterbeer. You can find butterbeer stands scattered throughout the town, and you can choose to drink it hot or cold in a throwaway plastic cup ($3.75) or a souvenir mug ($7.50-ish). I remember from the books how delicious butterbeer seemed. It sounded so creamy and sweet, and it was one of the most popular beverages the Hogwarts students drank whenever they visited London. I got the impression that because butter was so delicious, it was also very addicting, and kids would drink it until they nearly exploded. This was my impression. Butterbeer was magical because its bubbles tickled the taste buds, and the sugar went straight to the brain.

However, I did not know about the intoxicating effects of butterbeer. Your brain does not recognize the tipsiness it causes, but apparently you can capture proof of being utterly lit on camera. Neither Reilly nor I felt drunk while we drank the butterbeer; we walked in straight lines, we didn’t pocket-dial anyone; we felt no nausea, we woke up without hangovers the next day. As much as we wish we could deny being under the influence, we know that the camera doesn’t lie. The camera has no mercy. While Reilly and I are generally a photogenic couple, the camera caught us quite out of sorts while we drank butterbeer:

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2Doesn’t it look like we were having a great time? Notice the level of the butterbeer in the cup, and you can figure out what lightweights we are. (Remember that we split that cup between us!) I mean, we did arrive at the park around 9:15 that morning, and we had been standing in line in ponchos so we wouldn’t get soaked from the rain for nearly an hour. So while I didn’t know we’d get sloshed at the time, I’m glad we treated ourselves so early in the morning.

I just don’t know why it didn’t affect any of the kids around us that way.

Top 10 List for May’s 2012

I cannot believe this year. So much has happened, and I have only 56 entries to show for it. At least there are fewer blog posts to choose from for the annual countdown.

10. May: No one told me I’d eventually get to play against the BYU quarterback. I joined an intramural kickball team, and tonight was our first game.

9. July: Smartphone apps have a tiny dear place in my heart.  I looked around to see that I wasn’t the only one crying. I loved it.

8. July: This is the year I really got into hiking. And most of it during the season of a broken camera. Thank the Lord for making geology pretty.

7. August: Reilly’s birthday, and first time in New York City. We wondered about Glenn Close.

6. January: Careful to put ego-puffing somewhere in the middle. Being published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal would be a nice touch to my last semester.

5. September: The Oklahoma visit went along with going to NYC. Dad still finds happiness in little things. In simple things.

4. November: What an election year. I’m sorry to the friends I may have pissed off. But,  I spent maybe at least 5 minutes voting/playing with the fancy machine.

3. October: Recap of April’s commencement ceremony. I only slept because my friends who sat by me made me so very comfortable.

2.5. April: Full of transitions and excitement and bending rules for lists of 10.  The past four days have knocked me squarely on my rear. Three flights, up and down, up and down. My things, my books. His things, his books.

2. December: Can we distinguish the source of our tears in December? We talk about future names, but what is the name of our future?

1. June: Well, duh. Mindblowing. Incredible. Fantastic. Amazing. This.

This list doesn’t even include events like Christmas and wedding showers and getting jobs. It’s true that I am often vague in my blog posts, but know that these top 10 entries include the top people in my life. You’re always in my thoughts and prayers. You’ve done so much for my happiness and helped me to become a decent person. Thank you for your support. Thank you especially for your friendship and kindness and generosity, which I know will carry over into the new year and our upcoming and continued lives together.

I wish you all the blessings and happiness you deserve. Nothing less.

The Scary Storm

There’s a profound metaphor a-brewin’.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed and ignoring the happy, oblivious posts of those who aren’t being affected by Sandy, I came across this photo. Click on it and say some prayers.

Winds are howling, lights are flickering, transformers are exploding. Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. There are reports of green electrical arcs in the sky, a scary form of the Aurora Borealis. I doubt New York has seen many hurricanes, and it probably hasn’t received the Noreasters that Boston has, but it seems that the Big Apple finally gets to enforce a lot of its emergency preparations. I know my friends are prepared.

The island would seem different than a mainland hit, because it’s an island. Two and a half miles wide by 12-13 miles long. The tunnels and bridges are closed.

Yet, no man is an island.

But I also don’t want to downplay the rest of the Northeastern shore. They also have floods and fallen trees and power outages. Leaky ceilings and floating cars.

Hang on to your hats.

My friends are prepared. I’ve seen their statuses of the provisions they’ve gathered. Lights, food, batteries, water, cheerful souls and prayerful hearts. When the winds stop whipping and the water subsides, they’ll use their optimism to clean up their towns and get back to their usual lives. Which happen to be extraordinary.

I believe John Donne.

All in All, A Very Good Day

Clickr the photo to  get to flickr.

Matt and Karissa got to come to Utah for the very first time, and Moab was a good place to start. I’ve lived in Utah a while, but I hadn’t been to Moab, so we agreed that this would be a good place to meet.

It only took seven or eight years since the last time. And the landscape was totally different last time. Last time was New York City. Little Italy.

But we overheard some Italians during one of our hikes today. So maybe it was almost like last time. I mean, there were skyscrapers, sort of. And we walked Park Avenue.

It’s late, and I’m tired. As you can tell from the photos, the day gave us a lot to do and look at and talk about. The park was relatively busy, but everyone was friendly. Except for the foreign people in the rented RV who said in a rather severe accent and attitude for Matt and Karissa to move their rental car out of the way. I mean, why would you want to bully anyone in one of the most beautiful places on the planet?

It’s great when Reilly’s so willing and excited to meet my friends. And it was wonderful seeing those guys again, catching up, being in nature, seeing pretty stuff. Let’s hope the next time we get together will be a little sooner.

Leaving for Florida

On a jet plane.

I leave this week, and the barrage of emotions have pushed me to numbness. Happy? Sad? Excited? Anxious? This love has taken its toll on me.

Two bridal showers, and one to go in Florida. We’ve been especially fortunate, because friends and family have been incredibly generous. A friend will not say never, because the welcome will not end. It’s cool to love your family.

The wedding is on june 1. We thought the temple would be busier on a Saturday, and I don’t know about you, but I like having Saturdays free. Gotta get down on Friday.

Plans are well underway. invitations. Thank-yous. Photographer, dress, suit; reception, food, cake. I wonder what’s in a day.

Honeymoon’s going to be a roadtrip down Florida. Memories of my childhood in the car with my future, my now sitting beside me. The summer comes marching in with heavy boots on, kicking along the blacktop, sidewalks of A1A.

I remember how angry I was two years ago, having broken up with New York, moving to Provo in the dead of winter, having no desire to socialize, to make a lot of friends.

Is love alive?

That’s why I’m going to Florida.

My relationships have saved me. The reassurance, the encouragement; knowing when to leave me alone has confirmed that loneliness was never a problem. Happiness was never a problem. I learned early how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger.

Living the spring of May. Loving it all.

I know when I’ll be back again.

Songs quoted:

John Denver, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
Maroon 5, “This Love”
Michael W. Smith, “Friends”
Feist, “It’s Cool to Love Your Family”
Rebecca Black, “Friday”
Tori Amos, “Baker, Baker”
Patty Griffin, “Florida”
Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, “Winter Song”
Indigo Girls, “Watershed”

The Year I Didn’t Blog About Christmas

I have nothing new or original to add.

There were quite a few entries prior to this weekend, prior to finals where I mentioned Christmas. It’s been a while.

I didn’t even think about getting people Christmas gifts. Not on purpose.

Won’t my presence be enough. Won’t my company suffice.

I certainly wasn’t expecting anything.

It’s  nice taking classes at BYU; I’ve felt the Spirit more this semester through my professors and the texts than I have in a long time. Not even religion classes I took long ago offered the same experiences that I’ve had the past few months.

That’s because being 18-22 is so different than what I am now.

When my mom came home my first night back in Florida a few days ago, she said something snarky. Not to me, but to someone else, but it was about me. It hurt my feelings, so I snarked back. Hard.

I stayed angry for a little bit.

I’m so glad you’re  here.

Are you really, Mom?

I always feel like a stranger, because I don’t feel at home anywhere.

An appendage, an afterthought, a guest.

This is my fault, though, because I don’t feel like a daughter or much of a friend.

Poor me, right?

What kind of loser do you take me for?

I’m a great daughter and extraordinary friend.

Mom and I stayed up for the next couple of hours. She showed me some wedding photos and her wedding DVD; I showed  her some videos on YouTube, and we talked for a little bit.

She stood up to head off to bed. She hugged me.

I’m so glad you’re here.

Me, too, Mom.

So, what’s everyone else’s problem?

No problem, really; they’re off being awesome, too.

This is Christmas, right?

We know through Christ all things are possible. We know that all the Father has is ours, and we can enjoy it at this very moment.

Carpe diem is part of gaining eternity.

I’ll just sit here with my chocolate cake with peppermint frosting (for breakfast) and cheer you on.

I am happy for you.

I am happy.

It is Fall, After All

And it’s time to eat some pumpkins, Cheater Peter.

Of course that’s not how the nursery rhyme goes. And why is this rhyme even fit for nursery?

I’m curious about your reaction to the guy who says that everybody does it. He’s about two minutes in, after the guy who disapproves.

Here’s a shorter version on a different news channel.

Also, cheating on an exam for a business class? Where the professor would know how to look at the results statistics and determine what’s going on? You kids are in college? You have to be smarter than that.

While off the Radar

I went to Montreal:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And to a 70s dance party:

Explored Dumbo:
Went hiking:
Visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens:
Visited where the Chosen rest:
Grooved at one of the best concerts ever:
Went to the beach:
Picked blueberries:
Fed my vanity:
Played with cuties:
I did a lot more things. I have a lot more pictures.

In Summation

3)Help. Highjack. Flight: . Love you.
2)Help. Crash. Flight: . Love you.

May powered down and flipped her cell phone shut. She kept those drafts, just in case.

The lone light glowed above her seat. She’d already read about 100 pages of one of the books she brought. She’d done the magazine crosswords and sudoku puzzles. She kept pushing buttons on the in-flight entertainment touchscreen. TV, music. Music, TV. This was her first redeye flight.

She kept her cabin light on. She tried lying across the row, getting comfortable, but she was too wide awake.

The minutes teased her slowly, so she played with time zones to tame the torture. She imagined her heartbeat matching the tempo of whatever was streaming into her ears. The plane’s rumble resonated her deep thoughts which she could not clear for meditation. Someone she knew sat in first class, but he was fast asleep, probably dreaming of his wife and daughter, with one more on the way.

May deplaned into a chilly, windy morning she wasn’t properly dressed for. She caught the shuttle, then the train uptown. It didn’t feel familiar.

It felt the same.

She had enough time to set her things down before meeting a friend in the Lower East Side for a donut. The air mattress was ready: inflated, sheets drawn, even a chocolate on the pillow. She chatted a few minutes with her hosts – a married couple – then everyone went about the day separately.

The donut was just as she remembered it. So was her friend.

Later that evening, she sat in a bookstore and remembered to call someone. That led to a free tour of the Tenement Museum, a slice of pizza, and some quality time.

May started work the next day. She knew she would like it.

The next day after that was Friday. May spent the afternoon and evening in a car with four other girls on the way to Montreal.

Carnivals, birthday serenades, border patrol. Pictures. Always lots of pictures.

May laughed a lot and observed even more. She made room for the stuff to remember amidst what she tried not to forget.

Like friends.

Sure, she went to more museums and  ate pizza and walked the Brooklyn Bridge and wandered Central Park. She attended a play and a friend’s gig, and visited DUMBO by herself. She dined at new places and settled back into old haunts. Still, she felt more like a tourist and less like she belonged.


She visualized slipping and dropping suddenly, and tumbling off the rocky face of the ridge. It didn’t bother her. But she watched her friends take steeper routes, with fewer footholds and hand grips. Saying “be careful” to them was her first and gut reaction.


The numbness continued to spread through her being. She contemplated shortening the New York half of the trip. She liked work. She liked seeing people. She didn’t know what she hoped for. She felt like an invader.

She felt like a ghost.

May went from apartment to apartment, spending a few nights at a time with her favorite people. She went on dates, if that’s what they can be called, officially or otherwise. She watched tv and made cupcakes and stayed up late, either with a book or friend.

She spent her birthday there.

She went to a concert.

And then, she was gone.


I sat on a small, crowded plane next to a nice lady named Tangela, who was on her way to Fernandina Beach for a family reunion. As the engines started, Tangela uttered dear Jesus, help us to take off and fly and land safely. I echoed her “amen.” Tangela commented on how the flight was full and the plane felt “heavy.”

I thought back to my text message drafts.

The plane landed in Jacksonville without a hitch.

I gathered my luggage and deplaned.


The next thing May knew she was sitting in the back seat of a car that wasn’t her mother’s, but her mom sat up front, right next to the driver. Words like dating and weeks and marriage entered her ears, and she realized what a great texting conversation this made. She typed away on her phone.

This was progress. May was long accustomed to receiving information well after the fact, so this was a pleasant surprise, if pleasant can also mean “jarring.”

She took the news well enough.

May spent the next few weeks visiting friends, playing with and sometimes unintentionally endangering their kids, going to the beach, going to the gym and the library, reading books. She had fun.

She tagged along on a few dates as well.

May knew her mom was going to do whatever she wanted. She asked if she prayed about it. She wanted her to be happy. She told her all these things.

May also spent those weeks thinking of the ocean sweeping her away, of head-on collisions, of careening off the Buckman Bridge.

I constantly thought of dying.

Like it was no big deal.

But if I thought if anything happened to my mom or dad or brother, or anyone else but myself, I reacted differently.

I was scared.

This isn’t so much about my mother springing a surprise whirlwind courtship on me or anything else, as it is about my need to feel sorry for myself. Like I’m helpless. It doesn’t even make sense. It’s been eight months: get over it already.

The solution was easy, really.

The plane landed in Salt Lake City yesterday.

I made it back to Provo.

I deleted the text drafts from my phone.