11 August, 2008

Real Elisa vs. Blog Elisa

Today I eavesdropped on a blog discussion between my friend Kayla, whom I know personally, and local celebrities Janssen and Ralphie, neither of whom I know personally, but I saw their blogs on my recommended feeds a while ago, had a gander and got hooked (hope you don't think I'm trying to steal your friends, Kay ... honestly, I just think they're both funny). Thanks, Google Reader! Anyway, the subject was how some people differ from their blog or general internet persona in real life. An interesting question indeed.

I remember when I became facebook friends with my best friend from first/second grade, a girl with a cleft palate named Jean. She was partially deaf, wore hearing aids, had a very difficult time speaking intelligibly ... in other words, not exactly the epitome of elementary school cool. Although I remember being jealous of her hearing aids. But I was a really weird kid.

Anyway, fast forward ten plus years later. We hook up on facebook, I discover she's finishing her undergrad at Rutger's and applying for law schools (niiiiice) and in her about me or somewhere like that she described herself as "amazingly self-assured."

I couldn't believe it. Granted, people are allowed to change from their elementary school personae. Thank God. But I couldn't figure out if she had changed that much, or her perception of herself had changed. Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, I got to think about how I am different as a blog writer (sorry, I can't bring myself to use the term "blogger" when referring to myself ... maybe in a couple years), and I figured that there are definitely some differences.

1. On my blog, I have what is called a DELETE key. I love this key. It means I can say something weird or stupid and erase it and NO ONE will EVER know it was me. As far as I know, no one has yet devised a computer program that can bring back all deleted text from a computer. And if there is I don't want to hear about it.

In real life, I have no filter between what goes on in my brain and what comes out of my mouth in a conversation setting. Not Tourette's, mind you. If all is silence, I am also silent. But in a conversation I don't realize that something I've said is a bad choice until after the fact.

A few real life examples:

Me (about to start my Sunday School lesson): I didn't realize that new people would be moving in already.
Sam: me neither.
Sheri: I thought it would be in a few weeks or so.
Me: Yeah totally. Although it's cool to meet new peo-- (good looking guy walks by) wow, he is so cute.
My entire Sunday School class: ?????????
Me: Sorry.

My friend Chandler who is a granola type and sometimes smells kinda funny: Hey, I wanted to come and say good-bye before I leave for Chicago.
(we hug platonically)
Me: You smell like you've had a good day.

Oh man. So when I write in my blog, I do sometimes say things that are silly, but I am not nearly as unintentionally rude/inappropriate/foot-in-mouthed.

2. Everyone else said that they are initially pretty quiet, and are much more outgoing/funny on their blog. I would say that I am by nature a thoughtful person, but in public I get nervous and crack jokes to save face. So I am actually much more myself (introspective, thoughtful, ponderous, etc.) on my blog. Which is reason number five hundred and sixty two why writing keeps me sane. Otherwise I would just be the loud girl who makes dumb jokes and never has anything enlightening to say.

3. I love my job even though it drives me crazy. That isn't to say that I'm not excited to get a new job. But I feel like the Angry Nanny at lot of the time, and this job has actually been really good to me. I have learned things like patience, and other such celestial virtues.

4. I have a mild speech impediment/accent that comes out when I'm nervous. My friends on the mission made fun of this a great deal. You can as well. I can take it.

5. I think, but I am not thoroughly convinced, that my life is a lot cooler than it sounds when I write about it. OK, maybe I have enough free time to blog about everything now (we'll see what happens when school starts again) but I actually lead a full, happy, life, filled with service and intellectual stimulation, just minus the boyfriend. Nevertheless, I am pleased with most aspects of it.

6. I have time to choose the most fit and apt words when I blog, and thus, my vocabulary as a writer is much more impressive.

7. Kinda tandem with 3, or at least along a similar vein, I loved my mission. Did I want to go? No. Was it a walk in the park? Heck no. Was it anything like I expected? Not in the least. Would I do it again? Only if someone dear to me were threatened. And I'm talking blood relatives here. Many of you reading this blog would die if your life hung on the balance of my serving another mission. Sorry.

But was it the most amazing experience of my life? Yep. Am I glad I went? My goodness yes.

8. Contrary to many photos, my skin is more white than pink in real life.

9. I am indeed an avid list-maker, a list enthusiast if you will, but probably slightly less so in real life.

10. I think I swear more in my blog than in real life. But I've never really bothered to keep track.

09 August, 2008

Writing Prompts

It's been one of those nights when I feel like writing but don't have a concrete idea to write about. Today I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed in my room all day. The end. So I googled "writing prompts" and discovered that there is quite an interesting range of prompts available on the world wide web, ranging from the benign ("You meet a genie and he offers you three wishes. What do you wish for and why?") to the creepy/ridiculous ("You get a text message from an unknown number saying 'I have the money and hid the body.' You play along until you realize that this is not a joke. Transcribe the text conversation.") None of these prompts really caught my fancy, but the concept of writing a short idea-sparking paragraph did. So, here are my own writing prompts.

1. Write a story that begins at the end of an evening when you show up to a party wearing the same outfit as a casual acquaintance, and ends with each of you waking up and starting your respective days. Like the backwards episode of Seinfield.

2. Scientists discover that a common ingredient in food (like high fructose corn syrup) is a proven carcinogenic. The information is not widely publicized. What action do you take, if any? What reactions do you see from others?

3. You discover an hourglass that is magically endowed with the power to erase one event completely from your life . Do you take the offer? What event do you erase? What are the consequences?

4. Write a scene about a young adult bringing her significant other to meet her parents.

5. Take the title of a song you like, and write a poem with the title's opposite as your new title. "Unbreak my heart" becomes "break my heart," for example.

6. Find a Bible. Open to a random verse. Write about it.

7. You google your name and discover that someone with your exact same name is leading a life very similar to yours: is involved in the same activities and has a similar career, for example. You decide on a whim to contact this person and meet him or her. What happens?

8. You discover that the death of a close family member, long believed to be accidental, was actually a carefully calculated murder. You have a good idea of who was behind the murder, and decide to confront him or her. What happens?

9. Take a command used with dogs, such as "good girl" or "stay" and write a poem about a human subject.

10. Write about an experience with a fake tan, real or imagined.

11. Make up a "translated" proverb from a foreign language and invent a scenario in which this proverb could be used.

12. Take one aspect of the culture in which you grew up (an infinitesimal example, like jell-o) and write about it for as long as you possibly can.

13. You work at a copy shop. Every day a man comes in and asks for you to make copies of one or two pages for him. One day you notice that all the papers seem to be some sort of plan for committing a large-scale terrorist act. What do you do? What happens?

14. What parenting mistake that you parents made had the most far-reaching effect on you?

15. Write a poem with a number in every sentence.

16. Take a famous quote, and replace one of the words. Invent a historical event that could have been the source for such a quote.

17. Start a story with this sentence: "We never talk about the past anymore." End with the sentence, "And that was that."

18. Make a list of the ten most common slang terms you used in junior high school. Write a story incorporating all of them.

19. Write about DRAMA. Do you like it or dislike it? What role has it played in your life?

20. One morning you wake up and discover that your spouse/significant other is gone and in his or her place is someone of the same sex as you. This persons insists that you have been together for many years and that your life as you remember it never happened. How do you get to the bottom of this?

21. Make a list of ten things or people that give you the creeps. Incorporate all of these into a scary story.

22. Due to a series of misunderstandings, you end up in jail on the eve of a significant holiday (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) Describe your experience.

23. If you knew you were going to die and could write a letter to be read at your funeral, what would it say?

24. Write of a place that is "no place for the old."

25. Write a poem about kissing without once using the word "kiss" in any form.

07 August, 2008

I hate being sick.

Here is how it works for me. I have a very fragile immune system. I used to get bronchitis every few years, like clockwork. Every time there is a new strain of cold or flu around, I am always one of the first to take it for a test drive. Why get a flu shot? I always told myself. I'll just end up with next year's strain anyway. I am one of the few people I know who has had chicken pox twice. I had a case of strep that took me literally months to get over (stupid antibiotics). And finally, I got tuberculosis on my mission (no lie) and ever since then my immune system has pretty much been on strike. Each time I come down with a cold part of me wonders, is this TB? The real deal? Is this the end? Should I be writing out my will? Shouldn't I at least get to make love to Ewan McGregor before I succumb?

Then I remember one favorable side effect, if you will, of my chronic illness: I am very good at taking medicine. I have taken every dose of my TB medication at the same time every day, just like clockwork. Piece. Of Cake. There is no way I have TB unless for some crazy reason the medication doesn't work. In which case I have a bone to pick with a bogglingly large number of people.

However, I believe the TB medication, or perhaps the disease itself, has crippled my immune system to Beth March levels, or possibly Tiny Tim in Scrooge's second vision. I seem to come down with a cold every other week. But here's the really frustrating thing about me: I always see it coming. I start to feel sick, and wonder if I should take it easy for a few days to prevent myself from getting more sick.

Then I think, nah. Which always results in my getting really sick and being miserable for a few days. And ruing all the time I spent trying to be productive when I knew I wasn't feeling well.
This is really quite telling. I push myself too hard until its too late. And I have such a negative attitude that I always tell myself I'll probably end up sick anyway, so I might as well try to get stuff done now.

What an idiot.

So it happened again. I am feeling far too sick to go work the past few days, but I've been going anyway because my employer prefers a sick nanny who does nothing but watch movies and sneak naps with her kids than, you know, actually taking care of the kids herself. Early on in our working partnership, we had the following conversation. This is verbatim.

Me: Hello? *cough cough cough* I am feeling really sick today, and I don't want to give these germs to the kids ...
My Employer: I don't mind. Come on over.

Talk about an entirely different meaning of "sick." But whatever. It's T minus fifteen days till I return to some sort of rational job that doesn't fill my soul with hatred for the rich and love for darling blond boys, spun together with guilt.

Anyway, I have been doing precious little besides sleeping, showering and watching movies all week. Which is a huge bummer because I was actually invited to do lots of really cool stuff this week. I even got Thursday night off work so I could go to dinner at a friend's house, then go to the MTC, where I have been MIA for months. But instead I am sitting here, having just polished off half a watermelon, and getting ready to either sleep some more or watch Say Anything.

I am surrounded by packing boxes, clothes that need to be folded and put away, mail that needs to be sorted, and bags of crap I don't want to take to DI. My computer is reminding me that I need to finish my resumé, sign up for that graduate class, pay some bills, email my loan officer, prepare my MTC lesson, brush up on Hungarian, yada yada YADA YADA AUGHHHH KILL ME NOW.

Maybe that's why God makes me sick so often. So I will just stop.

03 August, 2008

Seriously, so blessed!!!

I got a HUGE grant for school this fall. Because I made no money in 2007. Because I was a missionary. Thanks, God.

01 August, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen, I have a timeline. For the end of my current job, that is. I go at the end of August, right before school starts. So that means all I have to do this month is find myself a replacement and train him or her. Most likely a her. I imagine mannies are hard to come by in Provo.

I am going to miss my kids. A lot. But at the same time, I know that the time is right for me to leave. I love these kids so much. I miss them when I don't see them during the weekend. It's intrinsically a good thing that I love these kids, because that means I take good care of them. But on the other hand, I am very attached to them, especially the babies. I spend more waking hours with them than their mother does. They cry for me when I'm not around. That's bad.

Allow me a rather dramatic illustration. Have you ever heard of how some toddlers hold their breath when throwing a tantrum or when really upset? According to my mother, I never did this. But it's not totally uncommon. The baby, who will turn two in a week or so, never does this as a way to manipulate, but sometimes when he injures himself in a way that is frightening (like falling, for example). It scares me but never lasts that long.

Anyway, on Friday my employer was home briefly and the baby was playing in the other room. We hear crying. My boss said dismissively, "You can get him." I go into the formal room and see Jake standing on the couch, with his little finger caught in the wide wooden blinds. I remove his finger and its not swollen or broken or anything like that. But I think it scared him to be trapped like that all alone, even for a second, and he started doing the holding the breath thing. But this time he didn't start crying right away. He turned blue.

I didn't panic, but I was definitely in shock, so I was just holding him and sort of staring at him in horror when my boss came in. I guess this has happened to her before, so she took him from me, and he fainted in her arms. She laid him on the floor and started hitting his chest and blowing in his face. He came to and started crying. Both I and my boss were kneeling over him. And then he turns .... and cries .... "Li-saaaa..."

Crap, kid. Not the best way to wrap up a near-death experience. For once in your life, can't you cry for your mom?

It feels great to be loved, I'm not gonna lie. But I know that love should not be directed at me. I'm a domestic employee. A great one, but I won't be sending them to college. I won't be talking them through their first dates. I won't even be around to potty train them. I don't think it would be best for them to bond with a long -term nanny, either, to be honest. This whole nanny thing is contrary to human nature.

I will raise my own children. And I suppose I knew this was coming with my job all along. Permit me an excerpt from the international best-seller the Nanny Diaries.

"Just how does an intelligent, adult woman become someone whose whole sterile kingdom has been reduced to alphabetized lingerie drawers and imported French dairy substitutes? Where is the child in this home? Where is the woman in this mother?

And how, exactly, am I to fit in?

Ultimately, there would come a turning point in every job when it seemed that the child and I were the only three-dimensional people running around on the black-and-white marble chessboards of those apartments. Making it inevitable that someone would get knocked down.

Looking back, it was a setup to begin with. They want you. You want the job.

But to do it well is to lose it.

Hit it."