30 May 2012

I Don't Understand. I Really Don't.

I must have looked special yesterday. Somehow.

It's all very confusing.

And I'm hesitant to even talk about this because every time I have a similar story . . . my mother gets this look . . . this Why did I ever let my baby girl go off and live by herself in a place where things like this happen??? look . . . and then I feel bad.

But oh, well.

I was walking down the street after going to the bank to deposit my paycheck after spending a considerable portion of my day at work.

My attitude seems to automatically adjust to any situation I happen to be in, so I was exuding a pretty tough persona. Actually, what with the Caesar dressing smeared across my jeans and the chicken salad residue on my boots paired with the bail-bondsman/tattoo-parlor/heavy-metal-bar section of downtown I was walking through . . . I was probably pretty bad-ass.

So here I was, just walking down the street in the general direction of the light-rail, minding my own business. When this cretin of a guy whizzes past on a skateboard, turns back to kind of zoom (skate? board? pass? what is the verb I'm looking for?) past me again, and says, "Shit, woman, you're gorgeous."

I am not someone whose self-esteem gets a boost when people tell me I look nice. Or 'gorgeous' to use the cretin's vocabulary (I call him a cretin because . . . seriously . . . does a non-cretin whoosh around the city on a skateboard looking thoroughally unwashed and unkempt checking out random women? I think not. I hope not.) I just don't get it.

Seeing as how I in no way reacted to his comment, he was at least a wise creepy person and zipped on down the street to go stare at someone else's breasts. Not like there's a considerable amount of breastage here to stare at, which leaves me further wondering what the hell he was checking out so enthusiastically.

I didn't put much thought into the whole occurrence. Variations on that theme happen fairly regularly.

But much later that evening, about nine actually, I was out walking about again. I had been struck by a craving for lemon drops. I don't mean the vodka cocktail (but thank you for the extra education, google), but the good old-fashioned lemon candy. They've been my favorite hard candy since I was, like, nine. Pretty fabulous. And, like I was saying, I was struck by a hankering to go on out and find some. I knew the local Smith's had a bulk candy section, so I figured that was a pretty good bet.

I was, like, fifty feet from the grocery store when I was stopped by a homeless man named Reno. He pulled a flower of a landscaping bush nearby and gave it to me (I felt sad about his picking someone else's flowers, but what was I supposed to do? Refuse the flower? Then it would be wasted. What does one do when a homeless man gives one a flower? None of my extensive education had prepared me for that moment. Ug. I knew college was a waste of time.). Said it was "criminal" for such a pretty woman to go around without anyone telling her how nice she looked, and that I "deserved" this flower.

People like to talk to me. It's a genetic trait I inherited from my father. So, since this homeless guy actually registered several notches lower on the CREEPY! scale than the skater dude from earlier, I stuck around and talked to him for awhile. I had been reading as I walked to the store, so we mostly talked about literature. It wasn't so bad. Our conversation only lasted for about two minutes because he had to go catch a bus.

Two similar happenings in the same day was obvious enough to trip the radar.

And I was very confused.

It couldn't be what I was wearing, because I'd changed clothes between getting home from work/the bank and when I left to raid the bulk candy aisle.

The only thing I can think of is . . . I was having a very good hair day. It was doing its thing all volume-y and blowing and shiny and stuff. I think I might have forgotten to brush it again that morning (remembering to brush my hair is like the bane of my existence sometimes. Such a first-world problem.). But that seems an unlikely reason . . .

'Tis odd. 'Tis very odd.

And the Schaffer is very confused.

Love always,
Ashley Irene

26 May 2012

Music . . . Saturday

My mother requested that I post more music, because she is endlessly amused by the music I find. So here are more songs, Mom. Because music rocks.

The Proclaimers - 'I'm Gonna Be'

A lot of people find this song annoying. I find it glorious.

The Bravery - 'Believe'

Eurythmics - 'Sweet Dreams'

There is never a time where this song isn't awesome. Never.

fun - 'Be Calm'

Weezer - 'Undone (The Sweater Song)'

(Start at 0:50 if you want to skip the annoying intro part)

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away

Cage the Elephant - 'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked'

Love always,

14 May 2012

The Day About Mothers

I feel like, to be a good little blogger, I have to report on Mother's Day.

Saturday morning: Was offered a really wilty flower at the grocery store.

"We're giving these out for Mother's Day," the cashier said, holding it out to me. A petal fell off the drooping head and fluttered to the ground. "Would you like one?"

"No, thank you," I said, though in my head I thought, I guess it's marginally better than throwing out all the old flowers, but . . . wow.

Saturday evening: Shared the above experience with my coworkers, everyone got a laugh out of it.

Sunday morning: Sacrament Meeting was (of course) devoted to talks about Mother's Day. As a plus, both speakers were women.

One was the expected dreadful 1970s-era talk about mothers as the 'guardians of the hearth' and basically drawn from about six Ezra Taft Benson conference addresses. Ug.

But the other--was fantastic.

It was about nurturing. About how women and men, young and old, can nurture those around them. About how the people you nurture most might be practically strangers. And when she gave examples, one was about her son's high school swim coach. And one was about a little boy she once had in her cub scout troop.

It wasn't a talk about mothers, or mothering, and it didn't quote the Family Proclamation once. (Which was fabulous, because there's been a lot of Proclamation quoting lately, and the more I hear it the more I feel uncomfortable with most of the wording. It's not good.) But it encapsulated the whole spirit of Mother's Day, the reasons why we have a day to talk about those who bring and foster and support life.

Sunday afternoon: The Elder's Quorum gave out flowers to all the women in the ward after Sacrament Meeting. I tried to avoid getting a flower. I feel weird accepting things on Mother's Day, because--surprise--I am not a mother. It feels kind of like a sad little consolation prize. 'We know you don't have kids, but we'll give you a flower anyway.' I don't like it.

But the Elder's Quorum president was thoughtful and traveled all the way over to the choir seating before practice just to make sure he hadn't missed anybody. So I have my consolation flower. Yay.

Personally, I'd much rather have a few children than have a flower. But they don't really give those away at church.

Love always,

P.S. - I didn't call my mother on Mother's Day. I didn't want to clog up the very little empty time in the day before she would need to go to work. And I had been on the phone with her until 1:30 in the morning the night before, so I figured it would be okay.

Is it okay, Mom? If it's not I promise to call you twice next year. ;)

10 May 2012

"Where's Your Shame, Woman?"

I am spitting mad right now. Like, livid.

I could . . . oh, I don't know what I'm even capable of doing at this moment. "Wherever women are taking over, evil reigns."

It's a good thing I feel so under-the-weather that I'm barely capable of moving my fingers to type right now, otherwise . . . oh, boy.

Women are incapable of handling power. Women are incapable of making decisions.

I can't even make a legible response without reverting to extreme threats of violence and so forth. (I wonder what the Reverend would have to say about that . . . )

Lovely, just lovely.

Some people are gross.


08 May 2012

Creation, part one

Creation, part one
or The First Baby-Step into Madness

1. The act of creating. 2. A product of invention or imagination. 3. The world and all things in it. 4. In various religions, the divine act by which the world was created.

1. To cause to exist. 2. To cause, produce.

One that creates

make, form, bring into being, conceive, engender, generate, think up, frame, forge, fashion, fabricate, develop, manufacture, design, contrive, devise, initiate, start, dream up, begin, give birth to, produce, originate, invent, cause, occasion.

That is always step one for me. Definition. What are our words, and what do they mean, and what will happen if we use them in either the right or the wrong way. Not a question, a search.

1. To make a thorough examination of in order to find something; explore. 2. To look into or investigate; probe.

And maybe, for some people, definitions are dry or dull or boring or a waste of time. Why look a word up if you already know what it mean? Right?

But you never really know what a word means. Not now, not after looking it up, not after a lifetime full of using it. The meaning of a word continues to evolve in definition, both the general definition society can agree it has and in the personal definition it has to an individual.

So, back to the beginning. Creation. Create. Creator.

It's a nice word.

We have another word for Creator. We have several, in fact, but this is my favorite: Artist.

1. One who practices any of the fine or performing arts, as painting or music. 2. One whose work shows skill.

I think that definition kind of pretty much sucks, actually. But whatever.

What if we assign to artist the same definition we do to creator. Because that's what really happens, no? We do not like art simply because it is beautiful. Some of the best art in existence is really not very beautiful (as society agrees we should define the word) at all. We like art because we can see in it something new. There is always a kind of purity in creation, even in the creation of something horrible.

I have felt envious, all my life, of the artist. Because all I can do is give cheap representations of the greatness of the masters. My fingers can play Kabelevsky's preludes, can touch the keys of the piano just right so that no notes sound harsh or unrepentant except the notes I want to sound that way, but I could not have written them. I can read aloud the monologues of Lady Macbeth so that her character seems to actually breathe, but I could not have written the poetry that makes them so terrible.

I can show you why art is important, but I can't make it. I can't create it.

The closest I come is with words. Written. Prose. Stories. At my best I can tell a story that can touch emotion and take you, just for a minute, into another version of the world. But nothing I've written yet have I been willing to let out into public, to stand on its own. Not with my name attached. Not with my face. Not where anyone I actually care about could read it and know that I made it. That it belongs to me.

Yet, I was created to create things in return. I feel it deep in my soul, tied to the fibers of whatever makes up my character. Tied to my integrity, my sense of honor. Tied to my ability to love. Tied to whatever it is that separates right from wrong, and tied to whatever mixes the two.

And so I feel driven to search. To explore. To probe existence until I finally find some way that I can create and where the things inside of me can break out of their cocoons and let their tender little wings grow strong enough to fly.

And until that search reaches its destination, I hurt. It brings pain to have all this creative energy inside and have no way to release it. Not fast enough. Not well enough.

All the artists anyone remembers have been a little bit mad. I think I know why.

Love always,

Definitions come from the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition.
Synonyms come from the Webster's Pocket American Thesaurus, 2nd edition.

07 May 2012

Small Note

I swear, the Pandora music-picking mechanism is try to kill me. I'm already on the edge most of the time, and music like this is this close to pushing me entirely off. Ug.

I might have something actually substantial to say tomorrow. I hope I will. I'm milling some very heavy thoughts around in this brain of mine, and they want to come out. So watch out, world.

Love always,

04 May 2012


I have had an immensely interesting week.

Princess came to stay with me from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. She turned twelve last month, so it was kind of like a birthday present (I'm pretty boring, so I don't know why she wanted to come stay with me. Whatever.).

We went to see the new City Creek mall. It's really boring. After all the hoopla about it I was hoping against hope that it would be worth seeing, but nope. No dice.

Their food court sells really good pizza, however.

We also went and got gelato and visited the Salt Lake City library's Zine collection. And I made falafel. Which is pretty awesome, if you've never tried it. All on Monday. We were busy little buzzy bees.

Yesterday I went hiking up in the hills north of The Avenues. [Wikipedia is apparently my best friend today. I'm linking everything.] That was pretty exciting. The weather was nice, if kind of windy. That water-falling-from-the-sky thing didn't come until late afternoon, so I was safe from that too. In fact, yesterday morning was really really sunshiny and before I left I had to coat myself in sunscreen. Like, all of me. Because on Trek a couple years ago I got sunburned through my clothes (I wouldn't believe it either, if it hadn't happened to me. Damn those breathable cotton blouses. They're lovely and light and airy and not solid enough to keep the sun out.)

If anybody out there knows anyone in the Salt Lake valley looking to hire an exceptionally bright and highly educated but unfortunately experienceless eighteen-year-old, I'm looking for a job. And I'll do anything, provided it's legal.

Just thought I'd put that out there.

Bye now,