Desuppression

Seven hours of sleep, and the alarm sounds.

Seven hours of sound sleep. I could keep sleeping.

I press snooze.

Anticipating the snooze alarm.

I do not keep sleeping.

Waiting.

I could sleep like this every night.

Coughing gets in my way. It feels like a month of coughing, my abs punching my lungs to expel air at random times, at inconsistent forces. Attempting to tame a lingering tickle in my throat.

Coughing annoys, distracts. Steals sleep. I feel the tickle right now.

Breathing has been shallow lately in this past month. This morning I exhale deeply, and my ribs tighten. Sometimes the spaces between the ribs cramp. Like I have been running and I get a stitch in my side, but I cannot run through the pain until it subsides.

I am not running. I just lie here. Not sleeping.

But the cramps. Am I out of oxygen? Has it been so long since inflating my lungs through deep, meditative breaths? Have my ribs forgotten how to expand, to compensate for my body’s deficit in breathable air?

What is breathable?

Winter sits on the air, spits in it. Sometimes she brings snow and wind and chilled rains and replaces the air.

Winter is heavy and often merciless and stingy, not only with the air but also the sunlight.

I realize more than one cause facilitates my suffocation.

This early in the morning headlights slide across closed blinds: One thousand one, one thousand two. I try breathing again, and it still hurts.

Darkness penetrates the room. Darkness is space, but it does not expand. It constricts. I cannot breathe the space, but it breathes into me, occupying too much of my lungs. The pressure also surrounds me from the outside, hugging my ribs tight.

Darkness leaves just enough air in my lungs to cough. Cold medicine suppresses the cough, helps me sleep.

Now, if only I could breathe more than a teaspoon at a time without pain.

Yet when my child and my husband cough, all I want to do is absorb their coughs. They need to be cough-free more than I.

Ten minutes later. The snooze alarm sounds. I turn it off and sit up. I could keep sleeping. I could keep overthinking this cough. I slip out of bed and begin getting ready for the day, grateful at least to be breathing, albeit heavy, dirty winter air.

Grateful for the full night’s sleep.

————-

Disclaimer: Obviously I’m rusty with writing, but bear with me. I should be doing this more often and finding my voice. Beneath the coughs. Fingers crossed.

What’s That Smell?

Nowadays, that’s the first question I ask myself whenever I go anywhere.  It’s like a little guessing game, where most of the odors that make my nose perk are pretty recognizable, only they’re about 47 trabillion times stronger than usual.

It came pretty early, within the first month. We’d drive around town, and the restaurants, the traffic, and Pleasant Grove would attack my nose. Most of the odors before pregnancy were relatively mild. I mean, driving past Pleasant Grove never disappoints if I crave the smell of sewage or rotten vegetables, but whenever we pass the unPleasant Gross exit now, it’s almost unbearable. No offense to anyone who lives there; you probably live away from the smell, which seems to lurk along the freeway.

There’s also some farmspace near the corner of 400 South and Geneva Road that smells like the land of fire and brimstone for about 5 seconds. Whenever we’re driving this corner, Reilly and I always accuse each other of farting.

When we drive closer to downtown Salt Lake City, around 500 South, along the freeway, it smells like nachos. Like nacho cheese. Not like sharp cheese, but definitely more mild and with jalapeno peppers. It’s not a smell I mind very much at all but look forward to whenever we get to that part of town.

I walk into church, and I can smell everyone. I can smell that woman’s lotion and that man’s aftershave and that baby’s spit-up. I can smell cooking oil on your skin and your greasy fast food breakfast from the other day.  I can smell somebody’s minty gum and that kid’s fruity shampoo and don’t even ask me what the speakers are even talking about because all the smells are speaking way more loudly and with more appeal (or repulsion) than the speakers. I mean, I do have to focus, because it’s church. And church is more important than my hypersensitive nose. We’ll just have to keep that in mind.

Not every smell bothers me. Lots of aromas are wonderful, and I’d love to spin around in fragrant air all day, but the fact is that there are also bad odors. And when they’re bad, they’re really bad.

There’s a women’s restroom in the Wilkinson Center on the second floor, close to the memorial room and ballroom. I’m sure you know which one I mean. The other day I went to campus to wait for Reilly to get out of class. I needed to go to the bathroom because that’s a pretty consistent condition these days, and when I opened the door, I felt my face scrunch and my eyes roll to the back of my head. I braced myself inside the door frame. Then I considered holding my pee to go to the bathroom downstairs by the bowling alley or to the other bathroom just down the hall. But I have more or less trained myself to go whenever I need to go, so I forged ahead into the fecal fog.

Undoubtedly, it’s a busy bathroom. The Wilkinson Center is a major campus hub, and I should have known that the bathroom would be stinky, but this complete ambush on my nosehairs convinced me that no one knows how to courtesy-flush or disinfect/deodorize. And this bathroom is a place where a lot of mothers change piles of poopy diapers. Because there are a lot of young mothers who go to BYU, y’all. There seems to be no ventilation, and when I entered that bathroom at 8:30 that one evening, all the quadrillions of microscopic, feculent particles had amassed during the day not only to form a humid, boggy marsh around the stalls, but something, somewhere that felt like another dimension. It felt like I had crossed over into an ethereal, methanous space of utter grossness, where I wasn’t stepping in it but walking through it. Think about it. (Or not.) And to think I’m growing another human that will soon contribute to the world’s sewage (who, technically, already is). I mean, there are sacrifices, and there are sacrifices. I mean, I have to do the noble thing.

Next time, I’ll just find a different bathroom.

And whatever that smell is, I probably know, but for the most part, I’d rather not.

Boarding the Frontrunner

Monday afternoon I stood on the Frontrunner platform, waiting for the train home. The train arrived, and as the doors opened, I stood to the side, because I have a very useful habit of courtesy when it comes to public transportation.

I waited for any deboarding passengers while I watched two patrons get on without waiting. The first passenger was an Asian-looking man, and the second passenger was a Caucasian-looking woman. When the man boarded first, the woman called out to him, “Hey, ladies first!” The man briefly looked over his shoulder and mumbled that he was sorry. Then the woman replied, “That’s okay; it’s the American culture.”

Maybe it was because the news of inaccurately racist comments toward the newly crowned Miss America was fresh on my mind (for instance, instead of hearing spelling bee jokes [which is somehow less offensive to me because Indian Americans have dominated spelling bees recently, and I love it], all I read were terrorist/Muslim remarks) that this little scenario rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it’s my slightly progressive way of thinking where I never assume “ladies first”; there are times that I’ll let men on the train before me just because I feel like being kind.

I don’t know anything about these two individuals. It’s interesting that the woman assumed the man wasn’t American, when it could be that the man just didn’t see her, or that he didn’t feel like being kind at that moment, or any number of reasons. It’s also interesting that with whatever assumptions the woman made, she felt prompted to “teach” the man about American culture, which: is this type of etiquette/courtesy a strictly American thing? Why was what the woman said so disparaging to me? Maybe the woman was trying to demonstrate to the man that she was trying to be more understanding, that she was trying to make up for yelling at him.

Am I assuming American exceptionalism where it wasn’t there, and maybe I should just conclude that the woman was trying to be more understanding of someone who wasn’t like her? Do I assume that she thought she was extending a kindness when she did not know its core was offensive (then, offensive according to whom)? Is that closer to the “American” culture?

At the same time, if I had an experience where someone had not observed an “American” custom with me, I would try to be more understanding and think that person perhaps came from a different culture.  Maybe that person wasn’t raised that way, but that doesn’t mean the behavior isn’t necessarily American. And then I’m still left wondering what counts as American, and what doesn’t.

Therein lies so many more assumptions.

Richard Marx Loves Orem, Utah

Lots of great acts come to Utah. Just this past weekend, James Taylor performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Symphony Orchestra. This summer’s Twilight Concert Series welcomed bands like The National, Grizzly Bear, Ludacris, and MGMT. All those shows were up in Salt Lake City, and I didn’t go. But when I saw that Richard Marx was performing in Orem, mere minutes from where I live, I felt strongly about going.

On August 28, Reilly and I happened to drive by the Scera Theater where the marquis listed Richard Marx performing on August 29. We agreed that that would be a fun concert, and I looked up ticket prices that night when we got home. It looked like all the reserved seating were filled, but general admission tickets were still available. Since I’ve been in a nostalgic mood this year, I decided to wait until the next morning to see if I still wanted to go. I often don’t make a lot of spontaneous decisions.

The next morning, I bought two tickets, and I texted Reilly our plans for that night.

Before the concert, we went to dinner then headed over to the Scera complex. The concert was outdoors at the Scera Shell, which reminds me of a bigger version of Central Park Summerstage but a smaller version of Usana Amphitheatre.

The evening offered cooling air and clear skies as well as mountain views behind the stage. The night couldn’t have been more perfect.

Richard Marx played all the songs. The hits. He told funny stories that went with the songs. He charmed and delighted us. He even got the audience to sing “Happy Birthday” to an audience member’s wife. He sang new songs, but only a few, because he said he goes to concerts, too, and he knows that we want to hear all his old stuff from when he had an awesome mullet. Other than the new songs, I sang along (or moved my mouth, because I’m sure singing along the whole time would have annoyed Reilly) to everything else.

He sang songs he wrote for/with Keith Urban and ‘NSync. He talked about how he writes songs as his main job (giving concerts is his “fun” job), and how fortunate he’s been to work within different genres. I admit that sounds like a pretty cool job.

Reilly likes this picture of Richard Marx:

Richard Marx jams

Here’s a video of his final encore song, “Right Here Waiting.” It’s 7:00 minutes long. First, I apologize for the shaky camera. I was sitting on the ground and using my knees as a tripod. Then I’d get uncomfortable and try to shift my weight. 1:50 gets bad.  There’s also a point around 2:45 where it looks like I’m just waving the camera around for at least 30 seconds. If you get motion sick, you may want to look away. But at least he still sounds good. Second, I’m sorry that you can totally hear me singing along. Also, his striped shirt and the stage lighting wash out his face and make him look like a French mime. That is not my fault, so I can’t apologize for that.

Here’s a selfie video of Richard Marx thanking Orem for a good concert. He may as well have been talking to me directly. Now he’s talking to you.

That was a really fun concert. I’m glad we decided to go at the last minute in late August 2013, so that we could travel back to those memorable minutes from the ’80s and ’90s and just sway and smile and sing along.

A Dream about Lunch

Morgan Freeman was in my dream last night. He was homeless in Salt Lake City. I ate lunch with him every day. We didn’t eat by ourselves, though. About 6 other strangers ate lunch with me and Morgan Freeman. We passed around buckets of chicken and ice cream while we sat on a curb somewhere near the Gateway shopping center.

It took about a week in my dream to realize that I was eating lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City. Did the others know? Did they care? Once I knew that I was eating lunch with Morgan Freeman, I wanted to ask him all sorts of questions about his acting career. But no one else seemed interested in Morgan Freeman. They just seemed to enjoy sitting together at the same time every day to share lunch.

I don’t know where the food came from. It was fried chicken and ice cream every single time. And they came in large buckets. Not fried chicken buckets, but large industrial-sized plastic buckets with a metal handle. I don’t remember tasting the food in my dream. I do remember using a large metal serving spoon to scoop melted ice cream onto a thin paper plate.

No one talked during our lunches. The dream itself might have been completely without sound. Frustrating. Why have homeless Morgan Freeman in my dream if I can’t hear his distinguished Morgan Freeman voice?

During this dream, I couldn’t wait to go home and blog about having lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. This dream was one of those moments that felt real, that felt like I was fully conscious.

So you can imagine as I emerged from deep sleep and broke the surface of wakefulness how disappointed I was that I didn’t really eat lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. Think of the decreasing likelihood of the combination of these factors becoming a reality:

  • Homeless Morgan Freeman
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City having lunch with moi
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman and I sharing giant buckets of chicken and ice cream on a SLC curb near the Gateway Mall

Virtually possible, but otherwise impossible.

Which is why it was just a dream.

Photos from the Rodriguez Concert

If you don’t know about the movie or the man, here’s the rundown on both via Wikipedia:

Movie

Man

Seeing the movie piqued my interest in the man and his music. I knew that if he were to ever go on tour and stop in Salt Lake City, I would go.

That’s what happened.

Please note that most of these pictures are blurry because I couldn’t hold the camera steady. Because my arms were stretched high above my head. Because I’m 58 inches tall. Which, on average, is a lot of inches shorter than other people.

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My concert buddy looks good in a soft red glow.

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Doors opened at 8. The opening act began at 9. The opening act wasn’t awesome. She performed for 30 minutes, and she seemed aware of her role to occupy spacetime until Rodriguez took the stage.

Also, for some reason I wore my Chacos, and I guess I haven’t completely broken them in, so my feet hurt while standing for four hours even though I thought the Chacos would be comfortable because people hike all day in them and they go on about how wonderful their Chacos are.

Irrelevant to the music, but part of my experience. A tiny part.

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When Rodriguez finally took the stage, people cheered and yelled that they love him. At least twice he responded, “I know it’s the drinks, but I love you, too.”

If you’ve seen the movie or listened to his music, his live singing sounds exactly like that. The quality of his voice hasn’t changed since the ’70s, and it’s no wonder that South Africa loved him so much even though the United States had no idea who he was even though he’s from an actual state in this country called Michigan.

Once he sang “Sugar Man” about 1/3 of the crowd left. A lot of them were people who saw the movie. A documentary. Who watches mostly documentaries? People older than 50? It was late, though, and even I was getting tired.

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He sang for about an hour and a half. He came out for a short encore, and he was as gracious and humble a person as you ever saw. The real deal.

Free Books to Utah/Salt Lake County Friends

You guys, we have a lot of books. Some of them are duplicates. Some of them we don’t want.

Here they are. If you can come pick up the books you want, or if I can meet you to give you the books, let me know. Text, email, or call. First come, first served. I am not paying to ship free books.

All books are paperback unless otherwise noted.  As we continue sorting through our books, we’ll probably have more to give away.

Author Title Condition
 

Ancient Prophets

 

Mormon, Editor

 

Le Livre de Mormon – Hardcover Missionary Copy

 

Excellent

Who wouldn’t want one of these, n’est-ce pas?
 

Boccaccio

 

Giovanni

 

Collected Works – Hardcover

 

Excellent

Copyright 1931; has a nice old-book smell.
 

Bradbury

 

Ray

 

Zen in the Art of Writing

 

Good

I annotated and highlighted throughout the book. As writers should. You may discover my secrets.
 

Camus

 

Albert

 

The Stranger (English)

 

Excellent

This will put you in an AMAZING mood of despair!
 

Chabon

 

Michael

 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

 

Excellent

Best read when wearing a cape.
 

Eco

 

Umberto

 

The Name of the Rose

 

Average

The last name makes me thinks that he writes about the environment. Reilly likes him a lot.
 

Frazier

 

Charles

 

Cold Mountain

 

Good

Did anyone see the movie? Did you really?
 

Gaiman

 

Neil

 

American Gods

 

Excellent

Brush up on your ongoing and intense chases involving all sorts of mythology.
 

Lowry

 

Lois

 

The Giver

 

Good

Seriously, every home should have a copy of this book. I am giving one to you.
 

Osteen

 

Joel

 

Your Best Life Now  – Hardcover

 

Excellent

Spice up your life with a little pomade and evangelism.
 

Phillips

 

Caryl

 

Cambridge

 

Average to Poor

According to the NYT book review: “Swiftly moving, adroitly told.” So, it’s halfway like Twilight.
 

Robinson

 

Marilynne

 

Housekeeping

 

Good

Fall in love with language and uplifting themes all over again.
 

St. Augustine

 

Confessions

 

Good

I agree with a lot of his philosophy and observations. Also, St. Augustine is one of my favorite towns.
 

Wharton

 

Edith

 

The Age of Innocence

 

Good

How can the Post-Bellum/Gilded Age be all that innocent? Edith Wharton will explain to all the ignorami.