Thursday, April 30, 2009

A very funny story part 2

“So, what’s the problem with your toilet?” my home teacher asked me as we walked down the hall at church the next day.

“Well, I broke the toilet floatie off last night,” I explained.

“We’ll come over around 1 and see what we can do to fix it,” he said. “I have to be honest though. I don’t know anything about plumbing.”

“That’s okay. At least you can try,” I said.

Only a few hours later I got home from church, slightly later than usual, and saw my home teacher and his roommate bent over our toilet. They moved parts here and there, sent me to the neighbor’s house to borrow some tools and pretty soon had it close to working order. However, they discovered another piece below the bowl that was cracked. Without it, the toilet wasn’t going to work.

“It looks like you’re going to need that part,” one of them said, holding it up. “If you take it down to Home Depot and show it to them, I’m sure they can probably help you figure out what piece you need.”

“I think we’re going to wait and let our landlord take care of this tomorrow,” the Bibliophile said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Thanks so much for coming over to help us.”

Now we were really in trouble because our toilet was completely out of order. The cracked piece made it so whenever you turned the valve on, it sprayed water everywhere. That’s just great, I thought to myself. However, salvation was closer than I thought. My sister and her husband were coming to Salt Lake City that day to have dinner with some of my brother-in-law's family since his parents were visiting from out of town. Perhaps he wouldn't mind helping out. . .
“Show me what part is the problem,” my brother-in-law instructed after arriving at my house.
I looked in the toilet tank, but I hadn’t paying much attention when my home teachers put the part back in. “I’m really not sure,” I said, glancing in. “I wasn’t watching when they put it back.”
My brother-in-law turned the valve on, and water started leaking from the left side of the toilet.
“Ah,” he said, shutting the valve off again. He pulled off the part. “It looks like this piece is cracked. It will only take about 15 minutes to fix this. All you need to do is take it down to Home Depot, show them the part, and they can help you get what you need.”
I chewed on my bottom lip. Another entire day without a toilet? Not on your life! “I know it’s Sunday and all, but do you think I could ever just run down there right now and find the part I need?” I suggested.
“Actually I have a better idea. Why don’t you write down the directions for me, and I will make a quick run down there,” my brother-in-law said.
I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the directions. I handed the paper to him. “It’s really easy to find. I’m sure you shouldn’t have a problem," I told him.
Half an hour later I heard the welcome sounds of someone bounding down the steps. My brother-in-law came into the apartment and headed straight for the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later I heard a sound I never would have thought would make me so happy: the toilet flushed! Praise be!!
“It looks like it’s working just fine,” my brother-in-law said, flushing the toilet a few times just for good measure.
“My hero!” I yelled, as I raced from the living room into the bathroom. “Thank you so much! It feels good to know we have a working toilet again!”
“Yeah, I know. A toilet is kind of a necessity,” he said, smiling, then he started rounding up his kids so they could head home. Thank goodness for men who are willing to help you out and for brothers-in-law who visit at just the right time!
If nothing else, this experience proved to me that I am NOT a helpless female. Okay, maybe in certain circumstances I'm helpless, but at least I know who I can turn to for help. . . I also learned a little bit about plumbing in the deal, so that's a good thing, right?! (As a side note, my landlord never did call about the message I left on his phone informing him of the broken toilet. I took money off our rent that month to pay for the toilet parts and the bother of having to fix it ourselves. My landlord never said a word about it.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A very funny story part 1

Okay faithful blog readers. Today I'm going to do something a little different. Instead of me prattling on about my views on some random subject, I'd like to share a story with you. This is a (slightly) dramatized version of an event that happened two years ago. I wrote it in a letter to my brother while he was on his mission, mostly to be funny and to do something different. I was thinking about it today and decided it was too good to keep to myself any longer. Enjoy! (P.S. I realize this entry is super long and this is only the first half of the story. I'll be posting the second one soon.)


I looked in horror at the toilet floatie in my hand. In an effort to stop it from overflowing I had reached in to pull the floatie up, a trick my mom assured me would stop an overflow. What she didn’t mention was the possibility that it could break off. The water level was rising dangerously close to the edge of the bowl. I dived down and quickly turned the valve off, effectively stopping the flood. However, my trouble had now tripled with such an essential part of the toilet broken off.

I shuffled into bedroom where my roommate, the Bibliophile, was laying on her bed reading. I held up the floatie, a sheepish look on my face.

She looked up. “Well, that’s not so good,” she said before burying her head in her book again.

At that moment, I heard the secret agent music my phone makes only when my parents called. I raced into the living room to answer it.

It was the exactly the person I might have wanted to talk to at that very moment: Dad.

“Can I open my package now?” he asked.

I had mailed him a Father’s Day package earlier that week, and ever since he received it, he couldn't resist calling to ask if he could open it, in jest of course.

“Well, it’s only about 12 more hours until you can open it for real, but if you absolutely can’t wait that long, you can open it now, I suppose,” I said, laughing. This was the third call I received on the subject in only 24 hours. In a more serious tone, because I was still traumatized by it, I said, “Dad, I just broke the floatie for my toilet off. What do I do?”

In typical Dad style he decided to lighten the mood by teasing me. His reply was, “Good work, mighty muscles. No more gym for you.”

“Dad,” I said, rolling my eyes. “This has nothing whatsoever to do with my gym attendance. I think it has more to do with a corroded piece on the toilet. You should see how bad it looks in the tank. It’s nasty!”

I was further embarrassed by the fact that the bowl was not empty. I fdidn't feel I could possibly ask anybody to fix it until it was empty. Dad instructed me to try flushing it, since the reserve on the tank was full. Once I flushed, I had to turn the valve back on until the reserve was full and then stop the water once it reached the fill line.

“Well, at least it’s workable,” Dad said.

Dad decided he could make it another 12 hours before opening his package, although he did threaten to stay up until midnight and open it at 12:01. I got off the phone and immediately dialed my landlord, who refuses to answer his phone on the weekends, and of course, this was no exception. I tried the maintenance man and got a message saying his phone was off or out of the area. Just my luck!

I wanted to commiserate with someone, so I walked back into my bedroom. The Bibliophile's only comment to all this drama was, “Can I go back to reading my book?”

I looked at her aghast. “How can you read?! We are in crisis here!” I said.

She said, “We are not in crisis. The toilet is still workable.”

I needed something more than this brush off of my frustration, so I went upstairs to see my neighbor who was sitting on the porch studying for her test on Monday. She’s somewhat similar to me in personality, so I knew she would understand where I was coming from. “Looks like this is another entry for Tammy’s Wall of Shame,” I said, shaking my head.

She looked at me then shook her head. “Tammy, you do not have a Wall of Shame. This was an accident.”

I buried my face in my hands. “But it’s a really embarrassing one. I can’t believe I did that!”

Honestly, if you’re a girl and something like this happens, the best possible medicine is to talk about it with someone else. I chatted with that neighbor for a few minutes and then her roommate, also a good friend of mine, came home, so I had to fill her in on the situation. She shared my frustration as well.

I walked back downstairs and was just finishing my supper (a simple sandwich and fruit cup – it was a Saturday night – who feels like cooking then, especially while in the midst of crisis?) when my phone rang again. It was Mom. She insisted that I needed to get this taken care of and suggested I call everyone from my home teachers to the National Guard to come fix it, if my landlord couldn’t be responsible. She finally settled on my cousin.

“Do you want to call or should I?” she said.

“You can call him. He responds better to you than me,” I said. “I guess I will make a run down to Lowe’s so I can get the parts we’ll need to fix it.”

My next challenge: did I need to economy or the deluxe kit? A question I should surely pose to my mother, I decided. Her answer: call my cousin, so I did.

He was coming to Sandy to have dinner with his parents the next day, so he was willing to fix it, but he cautioned, “A toilet is really a necessity, you know, so I think you should try to have your home teachers or your bishop come do it.”

Okay fine. I called the Bibliophile. Mind you, when something like this happens, she is usually the first one on the phone raging at our landlord to get it fixed immediately, but this time, she was pretty blasé about everything which I found slightly shocking.

“Do you still have our home teachers' numbers in your phone?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Can you call then to see if they will fix out toilet for us tonight?” I asked. “I’m at Lowe’s right now buying a kit so we can fix it.”

“Okay, I guess I can do that,” she said. “Why aren’t you waiting until Monday so Ray can take care of it? It’s his responsibility”

“I know it is, but I also know that because he’s irresponsible, as usual, we’re the ones who have to suffer, and I want to get this taken care of,” I said.

Our home teacher didn’t answer his phone. It looked like we would have to wait until the next day for any sort of resolution. Boy it was going to be a fun night. . .

To be continued (until the next entry. . .)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So satisfying!

Today I am at home to Idaho for a quick overnight trip. I came for two main reasons: to meet my brand new beautiful niece, whom I hadn't seen yet and to sooth ruffled feathers. Well, the soothing thing didn't quite pan out (the person whom I was pacifying ended up not coming), but it's been fun to meet that beautiful baby girl! I am such an idiot and forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures to post, but I will soon, believe me!

I should explain that coming home to my parents' house is not really a vacation experience; mostly it means another set of hands to help get stuff done, which my mom loves! I don't mind helping. One of the tasks my parents need assistance with was clearing our garden in the backyard so they can get it ready to replant. While my father's back is slowly improving from the herniated discs, he's still not anywhere near the level where he was before. He needs extra help whether he'll admit it or not!

My sister-in-law and I went out there and worked for about 45 minutes while my parents were taking care of somewhere else. It turned out we were doing things the hard way and clearing a lot more in depth than my dad needed. He helped us simplify the process and within about an hour, we had things mostly done. I could tell it was difficult for him to supervise rather than do it himself, but he did well with it. Again, if I had my camera I would post pictures of our handiwork here, but since I don't, you'll just have to use your imagination.

I had forgotten how satisfying it is to get out and work in the dirt like that. And when I say work, I mean to do actual physical labor, to get your hands dirty. It felt so satisfying. As I write this, I can look out the window into the backyard and see our handiwork, and it makes me smile! I may be slightly sore tomorrow since I don't do this kind of thing on a regular basis, but it's so worth it to me for how satisfied I feel.

It's likely that tonight I'm going to be helping my mom finish making freezer jam, which will also be great! I don't know how to do it, but there's no time like the present to learn! And I will reap the benefits once it's finished, which is just an added bonus!

Simply Wicked Awesome!!

I promised I would write a review of Wicked, so here's me fulfilling my promise. I don't know that I'm so great at writing reviews, but bear with me. I promise I will do my best.

I went into Wicked with only the highest expectations, and I wasn't disappointed! I found a review on the ABC News Web site where the reviewer said he went to the play hoping to find something bad he could say about it and concluded that pretty much there wasn't anything bad to say. I have to agree!

First of all, when you come in, a map of Oz makes up the front curtain and it has this big 3D dragon head above it. I was thinking, "Cool!" It whetted my appetite for the fabulous show I knew I was about to see. Incidentally there is a part in the play where that dragon head starts moving, which was fascinating.

The play opens just after the death of the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba) and all the people are excited about it. Shortly thereafter Glinda makes an appearance, flying in on a bubble, which was great, and they start asking her about Elphaba because they knew the two were friends at one point. That leads into the story which shows how Elphaba was conceived because of an affair her mother had with a man in green, who kept encouraging her to drink something in a green vial. It shows her birth and how her parents were horrified about their green daughter.

I loved watching the transformation that came over Elphie as Glinda eventually started rubbing off on her, and she discovered what a powerful thing is can be to have a friend--and to fall in love. I enjoyed seeing her go for what she believed in, and I couldn't stop laughing as I watched Glinda's antics on stage!! She was hilarious!! The actresses who played Elphaba and Glinda were amazing and such talented singers!! Glinda was over the top and as Speak told me, the more over the top the actress playing Glinda is, the better it makes the play.

I also loved the intricate and amazing costumes! We were only three rows from the top of the balcony, so it was a long way down to the stage, but we still had a good view of the play. One of the friends who went to the play with me (sorry I don't have a nickname for him so I'm going to refer to him in general terms) borrowed binoculars from a friend, so most of us in the group spent the play passing them around, which helped me get some close ups of the action on stage. I loved the singing, the clever dialogue, the funny lines, (some of which were references to The Wizard of Oz) the scenery and sets, which were adjusted with such ease and most of all the play's central message. I thought it was so well done, and I'd love to see it again already. I encourage any of you, my faithful readers, who haven't experienced Wicked for yourself to find some way to see the play, even if that means travelling to another city.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upcoming Wicked Fun!

Tomorrow I get to go see a production that I've wanted to see for quite a long time: Wicked! I think it's going to be amazing and from what I've heard, nobody can really find anything about the production to criticize. Not that I'm the super discerning theater attender or anything because I'm not, but I still can't wait for this show

I remember the first time I heard anything about Wicked. It was my junior year in college (which was some years ago now I'm afraid), and we had to design a newspaper spread on a subject of our choice for my Publication Design class. One of my classmates did hers on Wicked, explaining how she had seen the production on a recent trip to New York City with her husband. She was quite animated about it, but I didn't think much about it because it didn't sound interesting to me.

Over the next few years I started hearing more buzz about Wicked, and my interest in it grew, particularly when I heard the distances friends were travelling to go see it. My interest reached an all time high about 15 months ago when my very dear roommate (not Speak but the Bibliophile) made a happy music mix for me which had two songs from Wicked on it: Dancing Through Life and Popular. My curiosity was piqued by the fact that I didn't know who most of the people talking in Dancing Through Life were. I made the Bibliophile tell me who the people were and more about the story than I'd heard from anybody else up to that point, although I wouldn't let her tell me the end.

When the opportunity to purchase Wicked tix came up last October, I jumped on it. Now, six months later the day has finally come when I get to see the show for myself! I can't wait! It's only going to be all the better because I get to see it with seven close friends. Sing it with me, "No one mourns the wicked. . ."

P.S. Yes, you can expect a review of sorts from me after the show!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring has sprung and I LOVE it!!

So I realize we've had a few days here and there with good weather, but for the last two days, the weather has been absolutely gorgeous, and I'm loving it almost beyond all belief! In fact, I almost can't get enough of it!

After an extremely busy week which left me with pretty awful burnout, I was in need of something to lift my lagging spirits. The beautiful spring weather has done just the trick! Saturday dawned a beautiful, clear and sunny day. I've been busy for the last couple weeks so I haven't had time to do my customary Saturday workout. I had every intention of going to the gym, but the weather was just too nice so instead I took a long walk into the Avenues. If you're not familiar with the Aves, it's one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and it's full of beautiful older-style houses, apartment complexes and even some businesses. I love walking up there.

Of course, it's not enough for me to just walk through the neighborhood--I have to challenge myself, so I like to walk one block over and one block up. Again, those unfamiliar with the Aves wouldn't know that they sit atop a large hill so the higher you get, the steeper it is. Yesterday I set a new personal best--I walked all the way up to 12th Avenue and E Street. I was pretty darn proud of myself. And it felt so lovely to be outside in the beautiful sunshine! I even stopped at the Sweet branch of the City Library to pick up a book I need for a presentation I'll be doing this week.

I don't know that I have always appreciated just how much of an effect the weather can have on you, but this weekend proved to me that it can and it does! When you're feeling low, taking a walk in the beautiful sunshine can be soothing to the troubled soul. (Well that and exercise releases endorphins, which also makes you happy.) :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Take a look in the mirror

I have one more thought to share tonight and then I really must go to bed! It's along the same lines, but I thought it most appropriate for it to have its own entry.

I was having a long conversation with my mom on the phone last night. She was telling me about some difficult things members of our family have been going through recently. With one in particular, I felt I had to speak up. I was talking about how this person needed to let some things go so she could feel at peace and move on. This sparked a moment of realization: these things I was saying could just as easily apply to me!!

My initial reaction was guilt because I felt like a serious hypocrite! The second reaction, of a longer duration I'm happy to report, was to think about how I could apply my advice to my own life. And I resolved to do better with this matter which has been difficult for me to deal with for several months now. I haven't arrived at the point where I feel fine with everything yet, but at least I'm determined not to cling to it anymore! Freedom and a willingness to accept things for the way they are is on the horizon and all because I realized I needed to take a look in the mirror so I could say these things to myself.

An interesting thought

I heard a quote the other day that intrigued me. I want to share it here with a few of my thoughts about it: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

I'm sure many people have heard that before but I never have. With recent events that have been happening in my own life and in the lives of those around me, it caught my attention. I think it's so easy to let yourself hold onto things, particularly good things, long after they're gone. You want everything to be just as it was before and letting go is oh-so-difficult! It's easy to cry about it and wish things were still that way or this hadn't happened, but if I've learned anything (the hard way) it's that no matter how much you wish it might not have happened or stubbornly refuse to let that particular thing go, the plain fact is you have to. You've got to make your peace with the situation and learn to live with the effects, no matter how difficult they may be.

I like the part about smiling because it happened. It is challenging to stay positive when you're in the midst of a hard time in your life. It's easy to get lost in your own sorrow and forget to appreciate, yes I do mean appreciate, what good may be coming from this experience. I know it's really hard to think that way, and I'm not the best at it either, but it's so beneficial if you can find a way to do that.

Last year about this time I was going through a very trying period in my life and felt I had reached the extent of my endurance, literally. I didn't know how in the world I was going to cope with the things I was trying to deal with. However, I had a moment of clarity where I recognized how humble this experience had helped me to become, and it had also helped me to see my Father in Heaven's hand in my life, guiding me to where I needed to be. Shortly thereafter I had more than one experience that showed me that A) I didn't have to deal with this alone and B) He provided a way for me to serve others and think outside myself, which was just what I needed. It ended all too soon, but at least I had that short time of serving when it was most meaningful to me. Surely that's something to smile about even though it was difficult to do so at the time.

I suppose the gist of this message is that life is not always going to work out the way we want it to or the way we think it should. When things we value (including good friends) are gone from our lives, we may need to take time to shed a few tears and then we must pick ourselves up, smile and find a way to move on, no matter how difficult it is. Most of all we must cherish this experience and what we were able to learn from it, even if it had to come the hard way.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tammy by many other names

Today has been a fairly stressful day but I must admit that one of my favorite forms of stress relief is writing so here's me de-stressing myself. I hope you enjoy it! I was thinking about writing this entry earlier this week but have been quite busy so I haven't gotten around to it. Oh well!

For whatever reason my name lends itself well to nicknames. This could be because Tammy itself is actually a nickname. My mom named me Tamara (pronounced Tam-ah-rah, but thanks to Tia and Tamara Mowry everyone always thinks it's Tah-mare-uh, which drives me crazy) with the intention that I could be called Tammy or Tamara. She failed to factor in the fact that Tamara would become my trouble name so I don't enjoy being called that because it makes me remember all the times I was in trouble. . .;) Okay I really wasn't that much of a troublemaker, but I got in trouble enough that I don't care to be reminded of it over and over again.

I found it interesting to think back through the years of my life and discover all the nicknames I've managed to pick up. For example, when I worked for the school newspaper in college everyone called me Tammy Faye. Concurrently, my roommates nicknamed me Tammy Jean, and when I see either group of friends now (which isn't so very often I'm afraid), they still refer to me by that name, which I find amusing.

I've also been called Tam (said in an emphatic way), Tam-Tam, Tams, Tamela and, most recently, Tammykins (that one's courtesy of Speak). Someone once tried to refer to me as Tammy Sue but that one just didn't stick.

I wish I could say I understood the phenomenon of why my name lends itself so well to nicknames, but I really can't explain it. The good news is that I consider nicknames to be a sign of affection so I'm fine with picking up random names wherever I go. I suppose it's just part of the fun of being Tammy as opposed to Tamara. . . :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Slap Happy

So it's really late right now (and when I say late, I mean really late, like I should've been in bed about an hour ago late) but instead here I am writing in my blog. Tonight Speak was regaling me with some of the funniest entries from her blog, and I started feeling slightly guilty about my poor neglected blog. I also started wishing for the thousandth time that I was funnier and wittier than I really am. I'm the queen of being unintentionally funny, or when I discover that someone thinks something I've done is funny, beating the dead horse until it's mashed to a pulp (meaning I gain mileage out of the joke until well past the time anyone else thinks it's funny).

But, as usual, I digress. The real reason for this late, late entry, is that I wanted to talk about the concept of "slap happy" and the "moo" time of night. I am a person full to overflowing with silly little quirks and one of my more delightful tendencies (can we say hello Speak's influence in that last sentence?!) is that when I get super exhausted and it's late at night, I get ridiculously, and dare I say annoyingly, silly. Suddenly everything is about 20 times funnier than it would be normally, and I break out into hysterical giggles at the slightest provocation. You don't have to tell me that this tendency is not only silly but potentially irritating to those around me; I'm well aware of that and try to be conscious of it when I reach that point, but I can't always help myself.

There is a specific reason that I also call it the "moo" time of night and that would be because a friend of mine once talked about the time of night when all you have to do is say "moo" and everyone breaks into giggles. I can't say I've ever reached that point, but I've been close.

In fact, at Thanksgiving, my sister and I and a few of my nieces and nephews were having a little party on the air mattress (which means we were sitting around talking until late when we should've been going to bed). We had reached the slap happy or, rummy as my sister likes to call it, time of night so we were pretty much laughing non-stop. The kids thought this was great because everything they did was suddenly super funny. My brother-in-law looked over at us and asked, "Is this what you mean by the 'moo' time of night?" I bet you can guess the result of that question. Yup, peals of laughter.

I guess late at night for me also equals extremely wordy. This entry is getting a little bit long, and time is quickly rushing by, so I think it's time to conclude. I'm thinking about this subject because of the conversation Speak and I just had which involved a lot of laughter, some distress on her part that I found some of her unintentional humor funnier than things she meant to be funny and because I think in some ways, I was in the slap happy zone, so why not write about it? My logic might also be slightly faulty at this time of night so I'm definitely closing now before I say something really stupid. . .

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wielding the influence we have

I'm so terrible about writing in here lately! I apologize for anyone who is a faithful reader and hopes to see more. Trust me, I'm hoping/planning to provide more! Time is just of the essence lately, and writing in my blog often gets put on the back burner, sad as that may seem. I will do my best to be more faithful, though!

Part of the reason I'm not doing as well writing in here is because I've started doing some freelance work. I wrote a script on a business last fall, and the owner liked my writing style and the way we worked together so she asked if I'd ever considered freelancing. We conversed back and forth about it, but then nothing happened so I had just about given up on it. I was surprised when she contacted me at the end of February and asked if I was still ready and willing to freelance. I said yes. I did a minor bit of work in March, but this week I started in force.

Can I just tell you that I'm seriously loving it thus far?! The work presents a challenge for me and offers something a little different than the day to day activities I do at work. It's helping me to get my creative juices flowing again, and I like that! I think it's something I've needed to do for awhile. It's too easy to get comfortable and then not be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone, which means you don't grow. This is a good opportunity for me to do so.

Anyway, I was going to write something here about the topic I will be writing my article about. However, my friend came over and was here for awhile and now it's late, so I'm just going to close. I hope I have some good stories to share soon! Don't give up on me and my (cough, cough) lack of faithful blogging. Soon I hope I will be writing more!