Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One...Two...THREE!


One of three CDs for the third anniversary this year.

While I am a tenderhearted woman, I'm not very good at sentimentality. For instance, a few months ago a co-worker asked how many years Adam and I would be married on our upcoming anniversary, to which I thought (for an over-long amount of time) then responded, "I think two." Then, with her help, I realized it would actually be three years. THREE YEARS! Already? Seriously??? Where did the time go? I can remember so many things about our courtship and wedding day so vividly that much time could not possibly have passed already.

Aquarium in Vegas while dating.

Just minutes before he proposed and I was SHOCKED!

At the same time, when pressed to think about it, remembering a time before Adam feels like an alternate reality. He is such an important part of my life now I can hardly imagine life without him. He can tell you, I often have to sort through memories to determine why he can't remember the event (turns out I was 11 and he was on a mission--duh! Ok, ok, it's not that bad, but seriously...).

He can always make me laugh.

One of the things we share best.

Before getting married my sister Natasha asked me, "Why do you love him?" I wondered why it was so important for her to know, and she told me that I would come to a place when I might need to remember those things when times got hard and I maybe questioned why I did choose him. I don't remember what I said to her that day.

Shameless excuse to use engagement/wedding photos.

So I'll tell you what I've learned.


I am an outspoken, stubborn, extroverted, opinionated, lazy (it's true!), excitable, spicy woman (I would say lady, but my mother would argue with that). I love Adam because he is thoughtful, easy-going, introverted, considerate, hardworking, mellow, chill man. He is all the things I am not (except thrifty when it comes to books--neither of us are that, and both of us are ok with it). He provides grounding to my cloud-surfing ideas. And because he tethers me, this kite can soar.




Fun Fact: We didn't actually cut our cake!

Since before we were married Adam put his goals on the back-burner to follow me on crazy adventures (안녕하세요 South Korea--I'm looking at you!) and waylaid dreams of my own (yeah, no, still not going to be a teacher, still don't know what I'm supposed to do. Trust me, when I know you'll know and we'll all celebrate together, but I digress). He puts me first, he pushes me higher, and he loves me through it all--mistakes and missteps included.


Open Mic Night at the Double Decker in English Village.

I was thinking the other day how I dislike when people get all competitive over their spouses with the, "I know you all say you have the best husband, but you're dead wrong because I married him...blah, blah, blah..." I decided, instead, to recognize that I married the best husband for me.


Tuacahn's 2012 Production of Aladdin.


This last year has included some real doozies for downward slumps, and he has hugged and loved me fiercely through it all. Have you ever tried to love a strong-willed, independent, competitive, Type-A through a downturn? I'm telling you, I know I'm not easy to love in that place, but he does it and with the greatest tenderness and devotion. He is the best husband for me.


Grand Canyon Trip August 2013.

He constantly tells me he loves strong women (seriously--his sisters and mother are amazing, he loves stories with strong female characters, he listens to strong female musicians, he married me--he is truly more of a feminist than I am), but I must say, it takes an incredibly strong man to love such a woman.


SUU Gymnastics 2013.

In three years we moved to South Korea, moved back, lost a dog, adopted two more, moved apartments, have found six jobs (and kept two), had our plans for the future utterly wrecked in every way possible, fallen down, picked each other back up, and are looking forward to a bright future. I do believe, year three will be our best year yet.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thawing Frozen Hearts...and Ideas

Disclaimer: I am not a well-behaved Mormon woman. In fact, by most standards I'm not a well-behaved woman. I believe in radical things like human rights are women's rights, that a lot of the world's issues would be resolved if we focused on improving ourselves as individuals rather than using energy to tear down others, and that what we direct our energy toward grows (positivity breeds positivity). Oh, and I'm a Frozen fangirl. *squee*

Hope I don't let you down, sis.

A few days ago a friend posted a link to a personal blog of a woman, Ms. Kathryn Skaggs, who did an in-depth analysis of Frozen. Using literary theory terms, she did what is called a "queer reading" of the "text." Allow me to begin by saying, I believe people are entitled to opinions. Conferences the nation and world over are filled with academics putting works old and new through the lenses of theories to find new meaning in them. It is my opinion that this particular woman fell into a trap of persuasive fallacy. That trap is one of single-meaning reading in artistic creativity. In other words, that a creative piece can only be interpreted one way.

The beauty and joy of film and stage, when done well, is that it allows the audience to experience a catharsis. People are able to participate in a willing suspension of disbelief which allows them to accept that giant robots really can fight enormous aliens that come from under the ocean (did I mention I'm also a Pacific Rim fangirl? *double squee*), or that two sisters can discover that love is, in fact, the key. We crave being taken along on a journey, becoming part of relationships, crying when the main characters experience loss, laughing when they find joy, and applauding when they succeed. Very few things in the world can do that.

In general, people respond differently to the same things. For instance, my husband is enamored with all things Jim Henson, and really loves Labyrinth (yes, David Bowie in his wild hair and crazy cod-piece glory). I cannot stand the movie. Detest it. I encourage him to watch it whenever I'm not in town so I don't have to see it. I believe this is in part due to the fact that I was 28 years old upon first viewing a film meant for children in the 80s (I think the Barney Stinson theory of age applies to this like it did with Star Wars and the Ewoks). My point is, I firmly believe we are entitled to our different interpretations.

Here is where I differ.

People are entitled to different interpretations, but I do not believe that we--as people who are working on making the world a better place (for some, trying to be more Christlike)--ought to promulgate, support, share, or participate in hate-speech or any thing which debases, lowers, degrades, or others human beings in any way.

When I strip away all of the analysis of Frozen from the other blog, what I choose to see is a woman encouraging people to filter what content to which their children are exposed. I support that. She and I may have different standards regarding what is or is not appropriate, but I do believe it is the responsibility of parents to be proactive in ensuring children view age-appropriate content, and have meaningful conversations about things they may (and, let's be honest, will) be exposed to outside the home or parents purview (i.e., school, friends, public places, etc.).

Perhaps it is because of the explosion of popularity that Ms. Skaggs has chosen to single out Frozen for it's so-called "liberal agenda." My suggestion is that we put more of what our children consume under a microscope: Curious George is more than a cute monkey--have you ever noticed how he suffers no consequences for his, sometimes quite seriously damaging exploits? What kind of message does that send to children? Plenty has been said about other Disney films and how they teach our daughters that they must change everything about themselves to be worthy of a one-true-love (a concept I abhor, btw). But what about how the men in Disney films are portrayed as, well, idiot-heroes? And that if they complete a quest, even unintentionally, they are entitled to be given a beautiful (and talented and wealthy and usually royal) woman as reward for "being a good guy"? What is THAT teaching our children? I could go on, but that's a post (or two or three) for another day.

One more thing.

At one point Ms. Skaggs did a close readying of the lyrics of Frozen's, arguably, most popular song "Let it Go" (I mean, seriously, how many best cover EVERs can there be?). In it she highlighted what she felt were the lyrics supporting her "queer reading" of the film. Afterward she stated, "The words to "Let it Go" are clearly not Christian-values friendly, by any stretch of the imagination, when understood and heard. This is not an innocent song, with a catchy tune. It is rebellious. It mocks moral absolutes. It is careless. It is unaccountable. It is anti-obedience. It is regardless. It is selfish. And if you still disagree, then by all means, feel free to show me how I've misinterpreted the lyrics (underline and italics added for emphasis)

I feel this is perhaps the most egregious statement Ms. Skaggs makes in the post. As a student of English and Communications I have been taught to seek out multiple meanings. I learned from poet and professor, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, that artistic language is like a galaxy. Anyone can draw a grouping of stars (series of lines or phrases) together to create a whole sky full of constellations (meanings or interpretations). None are right and none are wrong so long as they are founded in the text. While I may not appreciate her interpretation, I deign not to state it was wrong anymore than I believe mine to be more-correct. What I do find fault in is her statement that any disagreement with her interpretation is incorrect. Ms. Skaggs, I must protest.

People seeing things differently does not mean either is right or wrong. Different is merely, beautifully, wonderfully different. Please don't white-wash the delightful colors that make this world such a glorious place out for the sake of needing to be right. In all honesty I am reminded of Flowers are Red by Harry Chapin (lyrics here). It hearkens to the teacher who insists, "Flowers are red, young man/Green leaves are green/There's no need to see flowers any other way/Than the way they always have been seen" when a little boy is seen painting with all colors of the palette. Another literary character this resonates with is Menolly from the Dragon Song series by Anne McCaffrey who is hidden away and punished by her parents because it is thought her singing will disgrace her community since she is a girl, and that is a man's occupation.

My final take on Frozen.

Ms. Skaggs, even if you are right--even if Frozen revolved around promoting what you code the "gay agenda" may I ask what is so bad with people wanting to be accepted for who they are? What is so wrong about showing parents that forcing their children to hide their differences, the things that make them unique, rather than exploring and developing their talents and gifts harms them and the rest of the family? Or that when we ostracize people for being different it hurts the individual, the family, and the community? Would it be so bad to teach our children to love people not in spite of but because of their differences? Love is, after-all, the key.

I may not be a very good woman or a well-behaved Mormon, but I do recall the Plan of Salvation and Atonement being very strongly associated with unconditional, eternal love. It is embraced in that love that all children flourish. May we show a little more love. OK, a lot more love. I said in the beginning, I believe positivity begets positivity. So it would follow that love also begets love. Perhaps we could interpret Frozen through that lens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Unknown Road


The above image depicts my life right now. The road is moving quickly beneath me, I can only see exactly where I'm at, and everything around is shrouded in darkness and fog renders the distance unclear.

People don't generally respond kindly when you answer their question, "Why did you quit (insert activity here--whether it be school, work, a pastime, behavior, or what-have-you)?" honestly with, "Because God told me not to."

Ok. That's oversimplifying the case.

But how do I get into the depth of my divine intuition and connection which guides my life--which I seek and strive for daily--to ensure that I'm living the kind of life I want to live across simply and clearly?

I'm not saying that everybody has to get on the path to Jesus (it's not a bad path, I'm not naysaying either), or that they have to be in order to get where I'm coming from. Can I just say, "It's not what I was meant to do." And leave it at that? I only wish. That leaves me open for the onslaught of questions, "Why not?" "How did you come to that conclusion?" "Did something cause this?" Or, my even less-favorite: the directives and thinly-veiled doubts. "You're so good at it, just do it anyway." "Someone with your talent can't quit. Maybe you were wrong."

Here's where it comes down to for me: I fully respect everyone else's right to not believe in God, to not believe that He speaks, and that our lives are not directed/protected/enhanced by any Higher Power of any kind. I unequivocally concede that. I merely ask the same courtesy be extended to me. I do believe. I also believe I have a close, personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, and I believe that He watches over and gives me direction when I need it and as I seek it.

So when you find out I quit the teacher education program with only student teaching left to finish, and all you want to do is ask me, "WHY?!" My answer is simply this: I wasn't meant to do it. And when you want to follow up with, "So what are you going to do instead?" I'll probably shrug and whisper, "I have no idea. I only know what I'm not supposed to do. And I know I'm not supposed to student teach."

Because you see, the funny thing about being a woman of faith is that I don't get all the answers at once. I get one piece of a very large puzzle. I don't know where it goes, I don't know how it will fit in. I only know that I have it, and that it will go somewhere, and that it will all eventually fit together, and somewhere down the road I will look back and say, "That's why. That's why."

It also means I don't drive forward looking into the rearview mirror wondering "Whatif...?" or musing on when the course changed from what I thought was supposed to happen. I get to turn my gaze completely forward.

So for now, I speed into the unknown future. I do not doubt. I do not fear. The road is not unknown, it is simply unknown to me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Birthweek: Day Seven

Ok, for reals this time, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Yup, today is the big day. At 10:30pm I will roll over to 29 years. I can hardly believe it. The last year of my twenties. Feels kind of surreal, honestly. My newest favorite part about my birthday is that I get to share it with this {little} angel.



Isn't he great? He was the best present my sister ever could have given to me. And, just like me, the boy knows how to arrive in style, rolling in at 9:30pm on a Friday night. We are destined to be kindred spirits.

When I see his smiling face I am reminded that every mother who has ever looked at her baby boy like this has never imagined that someday he will disrespect and violate a woman. Never that he will brutalize and do unspeakable things to girls. No mother ever starts out that way. No baby boy does either. They start like this, innocent, pure, filled with genuine joy at the smallest things, and brimming with potential.

So what happens? How do our beautiful baby boys grow up to be rapists and abusers? Honestly, I don't know. But it sickens me. It sickens me to my very core. Many women who have daughters worry about their futures--how women are portrayed in media, the stress that is put on girls to be perfect, and the possibility of being violated. Just as much as I worry for my nieces, I fear for the world that my nephews are growing up in, too.

Rather than stand on my soap box against victim blaming (because I have one, and it's big, and my rant speech is LONG) or be angry, I want to try to do as Ghandi said, and be the change I want to see in the world. Not too long ago, I was sitting in one of my Sociology classes and I just couldn't take the pitting of men against women anymore. And I may have blown up. I blew up about how tired I am of the culture of fear that is being perpetrated on women as a guise to "protect" them (more about that later). I want, instead, to see real change.

Today's organization is one I have supported from a distance for a long time, but this year I became personally involved. Because this year, learning about another woman who was raped while on the campus of her university, was the last straw. I had to DO something. Eve Ensler, the founder of this organization, has been doing something for years. Today's organization is VDAY.




Their largest campaign, in honor of the 15th anniversary of V-DAY this past February, is One Billion Rising. The name comes from the fact that, statistically, 1 in 3 women will be the victim of violence, meaning ONE BILLION women will be affected. ONE BILLION. The organization not only fights to end violence against women and girls, it does so through education with programs such as V-Girls and V-Men, which are found on their Take Action page.

Maybe you aren't prepared to perform in the Vagina Monologues, or perhaps you feel this agenda is too out-spoken and are not ready to donate. I implore you, do something. Speak up when people joke about rape. Speak up when people mock abusive relationships. Stand up for women. Not only that, stand up for men. Don't allow them to be side-barred or minimized in this fight. Their role in the ending of violence against women and girls is immense and immeasurable. Educate your sons and your daughters. Be the voice amongst your peers who will not tolerate the mistreatment of women or the minimization of the role of men in doing so. It's time to change the tide of this hate and to rinse our world free of its toxic influence. Take a stand. Be the change you wish to see. Celebrate the end of this birthweek by making the world a better place for having you in it.

Birthweek: Day Six

One of the three jobs I have right now deals with the disease of addiction. It is destructive, it can be terminal, and it is no respecter of persons. An addiction that is running rampant and unchecked is Pornography Addiction. One non-profit organization is doing their best to fight against this multibillion conglomerate. It's called Fight The New Drug



They work to educate youth and adults against the harmful effects of pornography as well as help rehabilitate those who are addicted to pornography. Best of all, they have a variety of ways to get involved, and they're all listed on their Get Involved Page. Not only that, they have a great Store, which features items you can buy to also support them including Fighter bands, t-shirts, and their Fortify literature.

If fighting against the harmful effects of pornography isn't something you can get behind, then I encourage you to support a cause which is fighting against something you find harmful to our society. And, as always, let me know how it goes!

Birthweek: Day Five

It's been an amazing four days, and things are just going UP from here! Yesterday was all abut literacy, which is fundamental. However, it's not going to do the future any good to be able to read if there isn't anything worth reading.

It's true, as an English major I'm more or less a Grammar Goddess-in-training, but even if I wasn't I still believe that the things being trotted out as readable material would drive me nuts. Maybe that's the Grammar Goddess-in-training speaking.

At any rate, that's one of the reasons I want to support 826 National.

Here is their informational video.




The power of community that comes together to support the local chapters of this program astonishes me. I would love to have something like this where I live. As there isn't anything, and my time here is limited, I'm supportive of 826 National and what they are doing to improve the writing, publishing, and tutoring of children ages 6-18. Want to help out? Donate today!

If you aren't prepared to donate, I want you to let me know how you are going to help make a difference with tutoring children with the goal of helping them improve and publish their writing.

Birthweek: Day Four

My entire life is defined by books. The first book I "read" was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (I say "read" because really I had made my sister read it to me so many times I had it memorized). My reading skills were actually subpar in school. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Jensen, actually sent home one of her Cabbage Patch dolls with me so I could practice my reading. It wasn't until third and fourth grade that books actually came alive for me. They opened my world beyond Cedar City, UT, and--for the first time--I could see what other people saw. The world was bright and fresh and new, I wanted to drink it all in. Books allowed me to travel to far away places, to see past my prejudices, to experience complex emotions I could not even begin to fathom.

That is why I wholeheartedly embrace First Book.



Their approach is multidimensional. You can get involved by providing monetary donations, and volunteering, participating in virtual book drives. They also have a program called Authors in Action or you can choose to participate in their monthly book club.

If you aren't familiar with this program, they provide books to children who do not own books. A $10 donation can buy four books. Don't believe illiteracy is a problem in North America? First Book has put together some statistics on just that.

Today's challenge: help put an end to illiteracy today. Whether that's through First Book or by volunteering at a local elementary school, begin to make a difference today.

Birthweek: Day Three

Isn't this fun? I feel like it's the first day of school, all giddy and anxious. This is the same feeling I get every time I help someone else. It may be fair to say I'm in love with this feeling. And today the love continues.

I featured this organization last year, and am just as enthused to have them on the list again today. Yup it's The Shine Project.


 This organization believes in helping others and promotes, "Shine where you are." Additionally, they work with inner-city youth to help them attend college (you can read about the project here). The youth are paid to work where they make these amazing bracelets.


 You can always choose to donate monetarily at The Shine Project (funds go toward scholarships for students from Cesar Chavez High School), or you can get something pretty from Threads AND employ these students (I'm getting the Jahlil this year--Eee! it's so great).

People say all the time that the youth are the future, but it isn't very often that we see people doing something about it. So today, do something that will help youth in some way. Help the youth and fall in love with this amazing feeling.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Birthweek: Day Two

The organizations for today are near and dear to my heart.

 


Seriously, how could you not love that face? And those ears! Oh those ears...

The organizations (yes, two, because I couldn't pick just one) for today are Friends of Festival Country K9s and BAM (Because Animals Matter). The former is an organization local to Cedar City which is working to educate the community on pet ownership/responsibility as well as establish a local dog park. If you know Joë, you know she LOVES to run and play. We could really use a dog park. You can help move their cause forward by donating today! The really nifty thing about their site is their donation page also lists other local shelters who are in need of assistance (including Dust Devil Ranch Horse Sanctuary if horses are more your speed).



BAM is the organization that rescued Joë, who was originally Brownie, then Fiona, but when I saw her picture on PetFinder I cried out, "She looks like a baby kangaroo!" Thus she became Joë. One of the things that I love most about BAM, beside their no-kill policy, is that all of the animals they rescue are placed into foster homes to be socialized with people and other animals. In addition, they update vaccinations and require spay/neuter before permanent home placement. The group of volunteers that work together to make it all function are truly remarkable.

 
 
There are a variety of ways you can become involved with BAM, including donating, volunteering, fostering, assisting with their Kibbles on Wheels program, or helping out at one of their many community events.

Once again, the theme of today is LOCAL. If you aren't from the Iron County/Washington County area, you may want to look into how you can help out closer to your own home. As a pet lover, you can help ensure that these little fur babies find loving homes. If you aren't a pet lover, you can also help ensure that more unwanted pets aren't produced by supporting spay and neuter programs. Let's celebrate today by helping those who can't help themselves!

REMEMBER...

I want to see what you're up to! Make sure to leave comments about how you are celebrating with me wherever you are.

Birthweek: Day One

Happy birthday to me! Ok, so it's not the day just yet, but the week is here. Thus, the celebrating commences!

This year I decided to change up the order of things. I want to start by doing something local first. I think trying to make a difference in the community where you live is crucial. One, because we ought to help those around us to improve the culture of community where we live. Two, because reaching out on a local level helps you see the difference you are making.

First on my list of organizations I can stand behind is the Iron County Care and Share.



The facility provides a variety of services, including sack lunches, temporary housing, rent assistance, clothing and gas vouchers, etc. You can read about their list of services here. If you would like to be of assistance, but aren't able to provide a monetary donation, you can also visit this link to see how you can become involved as a volunteer. Of course, you can also donate. Aside from financial contributions, the Iron County Care and Share also participates in a "Grocery Rescue" program with local grocers. They also accept food donations from individuals. Information for all types of donations can be found on the donation page.

Like I said at the beginning, I want this support to be local. If you aren't from Cedar City/Iron County, I urge you to find the nearest food bank/emergency shelter in your area and see what you can do to reach out and give a hand up to those members of your community who may not be able to help themselves.

AND...

I want to hear about it! The point of celebrating birthweek is to spread good by being alive. I want to know what differences you are making this week, so leave a comment and let me know how you choose to help me celebrate this wonderful adventure we call life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Their Eyes Were Watching God Pantoum

One of my resolutions for this year is to do one thing every day that makes me happy. Creating makes me happy. I've spent a lot of time lately reading the creations of others, including the much-acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Much of her language is poetry in prose form. It's beautiful.

This semester I'm also TAing for one of the Creative Writing Professors. One of the activities I prepared for the class was the form for a pantoum (information available here on what that is). As part of my reading of Their Eyes Were Watching God I've been asked to keep a reading journal. I had a spark of an idea today when I was finishing the novel; taking some of Hurston's words and formulating them into a pantoum.

I pulled the phrases I noted in my journal, then used a number randomizer to assign them line numbers (as the lines repeat in a specific order). I'm sure this may seem like a cop-out for creativity, but the honest truth is, I loved each of the lines so much, and the pattern is so intricate, that this is the best way I could come up with to bring it all together. And, honestly, I don't think I could have thought up a better organization if I had worried it out for weeks and months.

I don't have a title yet. Therefore, the working title is an homage to the text from which it is drawn.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

The mother of malice had trifled with men
the palm and banana trees had began that long distance talk with rain,
"Have the nerve to say what you mean."
It was just so.

The palm and banana trees began that long distance talk with rain--
it was hard to love a woman that made you feel so wishful
It was just so.
"There ain’t no tellin what I’m liable to do yet."

It was hard to love a woman that made you feel so wishful
several men sat around stuffing courage into each other’s ears,
"There ain’t no tellin what I’m liable to do yet."
God would do less than He had in His heart

several men sat around stuffing courage into each other’s ears--
after a while the people finished their celebration
God would do less than He had in His heart;
she was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief

after a while the people finished their celebration
"Have the nerve to say what you mean."
She was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief--
the mother of malice had trifled with men


And might I suggest; do something today simply because it makes you happy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Feedback

I generally try to be even-handed. If I get great service I like to spread the word. If I have lots of issues with a place I like to do the same.

Enter our experience here.

When Adam and I were returning to Cedar City from South Korea we had a really difficult time trying to find a pet-friendly place to live. I enlisted the help of my little sister, and she was able to do some great footwork for us. She found an apartment that let us keep Ojo, and was within our price-range. The neighborhood was less-than desirable, but our actual neighbors were wonderful.

That said, I felt unsettled about the rental company, Century 21 Prestige Realty. The woman we were actually in touch with in Korea mysteriously quit, so we dealt with her new, untrained replacement. She was nice enough, and we didn't have any real problems. Then, when Adam went in to pay the rent the following month she was gone, too.

We always paid our rent on time, reported all the issues we had, took care of the apartment, and even cleaned up after our dog every time he went out (not something we can say the same about the rest of the pet owners). But the uneasy feeling lingered.

At the end of October we decided to give notice when we paid rent at the first of November. We reviewed our contract and made sure we wouldn't be violating any terms. So Adam gave notice in writing when he paid rent. We agreed to be out of the apartment by November 27.

We actually had everything moved out by November 25, and spent the last two days cleaning top to bottom. We even shampooed all the carpets. The morning of the 27 I had the keys to the apartment, storage closet, garage, and mailbox, and the garage door opener to Prestige Realty by 8:30am. We gave them our forwarding address, and I was told by the woman at the desk that she would file the paperwork and we should expect a deposit in two weeks. I waited until the week before Christmas and still hadn't heard anything I called the office. Nobody answered. I left a message. Two calls. Two messages. No response. The day after Christmas I received a call back. The woman told me she would pass our information on to the owner because he was the one who actually held the deposit.

Questions I should have asked at the time: Why hadn't this happened sooner? And, how long would it take?

Fast-forward to January 8 with no word. I called again. They said: The owner had been sick and didn't have time to check the apartment yet. It would be two days at the most until a check would be in the mail, and she would personally call me. The two days later, and no call came. I called. The owner was out of town. It shouldn't be more than a week, and they would call. Nobody called. I called again. The owner was trying to move equipment from Kanarraville and was supposed to stop by the office; she would try to call him and then call me right back. It wouldn't be more than 10 minutes. She never called back. I called again. She put me on hold, came back and said the owner would be coming in tomorrow, and she would call me so I could pick up the check. Can you guess? She didn't call. I tried calling them well before closing. Nobody answered. I left a message. Nobody has called back.

In short, we are now at January 19, only eight days away from having been moved out for two months, and we STILL don't have our deposit back. Not only do we not have a deposit back, we keep getting the run-around about getting it back, and without going a legal route have no recourse for getting our money back any sooner. What's more aggravating is that if the shoe was on the other foot, if we had taken this long to pay the deposit or the first month's rent, we would have been long-evicted by now.

So we're spreading the message by word of mouth. After seven (there is a record of each and every one on my phone) calls, a myriad of excuses, nearly two months, and absolutely no progress it seems our battle has just begun. If this is the level of service you expect or the kind of business you'd like to experience then by all means, we recommend them. But if you find timely responses, follow-through with what you've been told, problem solving, or straight-forward communication to be solid business practice then we only have one recommendation for you: do not do business with Prestige Realty. Beyond that, it's generally considered polite to forewarn people you like, even remotely, about things you know to be bad for them. That's why we're sharing this story with you. We hope you'll do the same.

For those of you who might be curious about any repercussion for me publishing this: the first point of libel, burden of proof resting on the accuser, is that a false statement was made.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Birthweek Day 5: Let the Change Continue

Today is my birthday! Don't worry, we'll still have two more days of giving thanks by paying it forward, but today my choice is close to my heart.

Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our little Ojo. After suffering a severe traumatic head injury and subsequent seizures life was too difficult. Instead of focus on the pain, I want to reflect on the good.

We adopted Ojo during our time in South Korea. He was rescued after being abandoned in Seoul. Several people combined to provide a loving atmosphere for him, to help him heal and regain confidence in himself and humans. Though our time with Ojo was short, we are eternally appreciative of those who helped him, and people like them throughout the world.

In my hometown Cedar City, like-minded people are working to build a dog park. And so much more. According to their "About" page, "Our group would like a centralized location to conduct educational classes to enhance human-animal bonding, animal assisted therapy, animal adoptions, demonstrations, seminars and other activities to protect and enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the local community." They seek to provide county-wide services, but have been unable to find a suitable location thus far. They have been approved as a non-profit organization and state, "The organization is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes." For more information you can visit their website here.

If you are willing to, you can donate money. But if you want to effect additional change, you can also write letters to the city council members and mayor of Cedar City to voice your support and ask for theirs. The website has all the information for contacting these civic leaders (click here and scroll almost all the way to the bottom).

Or, if you would prefer, find your local animal adoption/education organization and donate/support them in their efforts. The vast majority of these groups are non-profit organizations that require contributions to survive, and provide services to their communities.

Be a part of the change for the better.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthweek Days 3 & 4

After working a 17-hour day yesterday, I was a little behind getting the organization up for Day 3 of the Birthweek organization/charity pick (do not fear, one has still been chosen!).

826 National focusing on the tutoring, writing, and publishing of student writing from ages 6-18. Initially begun in San Francisco, CA, as a single entity, 826 Valencia, the organization was co-founded by veteran teacher Ninive Calegari and author Dave Eggers (A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius). It has since spread to eight chapters across the U.S. Each chapter has a store front which supports the organization's work, and are themed to represent the area (for instance: in the 826 Valencia chapter the store front is a pirate shop, where the Chicago shop has The Boring Store (which does not sell spy supplies like trench coats or night-vision goggles). The organization has a network of over 5,000 volunteers who range from all careers and backgrounds.

I want to support this organization because the ability to write is a necessary life-skill. Being taught to write well is a gift not many are given. Helping students gain the confidence to express themselves in writing is an invaluable gift.

Help the gift-giving continue by supporting 826 National today. You can do so here. While listed donations begin at $25, you are able to specify an "other" amount in a field below.

Day 4 has me excited. Let's be fair. They ALL have me excited. What I like about the organization for Day 4 is the versatility, the number of ways a person can get involved, and the change that is taking place at an increasing rate.

Fight The New Drug (FTND) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the population about the harmful effects of viewing pornography. Not affiliated with any religious groups or political agendas, FTND seeks to display the scientific facts of how viewing pornography is harmful. From their information page they say, 

"Learning from the past, Fight the New Drug takes a non-religious, non-legislative, non-judgmental approach. We recognize an individual's right to view and produce pornography, however, once they are educated on the harmful effects of pornography we believe they will choose to avoid it. We only wish to educate about the negative effects of pornography on individuals, families, and communities." (You can read the whole "About" page here.)

Recently FTND has begun encouraging college-aged students to begin campus chapters of FTND. Many participate in parades and other community events to spread the word. Additionally, FTND goes on school tours to begin educating the population at an important age.

When a person decides to support FTND a change is made. One is not a supporter, one becomes a fighter.

Fight The New Drug. Become a Fighter! Support can take many forms. If donation is your goal, you can do so here. All donations go to support the Education Outreach Program, University Chapter Program, and Teen Recovery Program. A minimum donation of $10 is required. Their motto is, "Give a little, fight a lot." One can also purchase t-shirts, hoodies, belt buckles, or wristbands to wear their support.

I am a fighter!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birthweek Pick Day Two

As I sit on my couch with books toppling into my lap, stressed about prepping a lesson plan for tomorrow and Thursday (and the additional stress that implies), I want to make sure I mention the second pick for my birthweek.

During my service as a missionary in the Ohio Cincinnati Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I met many amazing people. One of them was a fellow missionary. Sister Hovik. She was stylish, she was driven, and you couldn't help but love her. Since returning I've been following her blog. Now Ashley Lemieux, she began a non-profit organization called The Shine Project. In its genesis, Ashley encouraged people to effect change wherever they were. Noting that we may not necessarily single-handedly change the world, she makes the valuable point that if we are making positive changes wherever we are, and enough of us join, our circles of influence will overlap, we will inspire others, and we can all shine.

Later, Ashley expanded her vision by beginning a scholarship fund. Now, there is an entire line of items produced by at-risk students that generates funds for scholarships called Threads (you can buy them here--they are incredibly fashionable and trendy).

You can donate directly to The Shine Project here (all funds support a scholarship for students of Cesar Chavez High School), or you can peruse The Shine Shop and a portion of every purchase goes toward the scholarship fund as well.

This video is pulled from The Shine Project's "About" page with the tagline "watch the video to feel the power of TSP."


Feel the power. Be part of the change.

Oh, and when you make a purchase they will send you a card to pass along to others to help share change. Each card comes with a unique number, so you can see where you card has been, and where it goes. Be the change. Track the change!

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's My Birthday: Let's Celebrate by Paying it Forward!

Whenever people ask me what my favorite holiday is, I tell them my birthday. 

Yes, I know it's rather narcissistic. 

The biggest part of what I love about my birthday is the timing. It's right in the midst of the holiday season, just after Halloween, and before things get into the full-swing with Thanksgiving and Christmas. People are kinder, the weather is cooler, and there's pumpkin (one of my most favorite things!) in just about everything.

This year for my birthday I was inspired by my dear friend Bethany. She always does unique and interesting things for her whole "birth week." And they are things that take the focus off of her, and put them onto others. So this year, I've decided to choose seven charities/organizations, one for each day of my birth week, to donate to. I invite you to join me.

In a world where initiatives for change are focused on just about every point of the globe, I wanted to choose organizations that I personally support and believe in; organizations that promote ideas I try to stand for and can get behind. The majority of these are not global enterprises, but groups that focus on more localized change.

For the first day I've chosen one of my first loves. 

Reading. 

Books opened the door beyond my rural Utah home to the world; they helped me see more, live more, and believe more. When I hear of children growing up without books (like one of my husband's favorite artists Skottie Young) it breaks my heart. I think every child should have books. Sometimes they might be their only friends.

The organization, First Book, does just that. It gives books, new books, to children who don't have them. 97% of donated funds go directly to buying books ($10 can buy 4 new books). Thus far, 90 million books have been distributed.You can read more about their impact here.They even have a marketplace which provides qualified groups new books at prices 50-90% below retail.

You can also make memorial or honor donations. There is a minimum donation of $5 (in part to offset credit card processing fees). All donations are tax-deductible.

Visit First Book today and make a donation.

Happy Birthday to ME!

Make sure to check in each day this week to see what other organizations and charities I like to support!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Salesman: An Open Letter

Dear Sir,

I do not feel that this title is befitting for one such as you; however, seeing how I have manners and you apparently lack them it behooves me to provide you with an example.

On Friday, you were plying your trade at a local grocer, a delivery service for goods at cut-rate prices. When first I passed your stand there was a gaggle of geriatrics asking questions and taking flyers, signing up for the "$100 Giveaway!" You seemed to be doing well.

I ran my errands, collecting take-and-bake pizzas, purchasing necessities like toilet paper and milk, and again I passed by. This time there was no buzzing crowd, solitary you stood at your utilitarian stand. When I had nearly passed you by completely you called out to me at over ten feet away, "Come, take a flyer!" Quite frankly, I ignored you. I did not want your service, my hands were full, and I had other things to do. When I kept walking you sneered, "Or not."

Excuse me? Excuse me! I must tell you, sir, that you are very fortunate I was so busy because as I walked away I played in my head the alternate ending to this scene.

It went like this: Instead of me walking away, arms loaded with a purse, a large package of toilet paper, a half gallon of milk, and two family-sized pizzas, unable to collect your superfluous flyer even if it had interested me, I turned on my heel toward you, came charging at your impotent stand and bellowed, "Or not?! How dare you! Who do you think you are?" Depositing my goods atop your barren counter I would rage, "You see a woman, burdened with goods, not a finger to spare, and you chastise her for not stopping to talk to you about something she clearly does not want or need? Perhaps you should do the world a service by removing yourself from the service industry as you are not fit for human interaction. Shall I go on or not?"

Regardless of the fact that I did not, in truth, say these things to you, I maintain that my sentiments are not far off the mark. You, sir, are a disgrace to your trade. May you never have the misfortune of crossing me again, as you are unlikely to be so lucky as to escape my wrath twice.

Sincerely,
Me