Friday, December 29, 2006

Not Waiting for the New Year

I did it!!! I finally did it!! Almost exactly two years since I first pulled out the 30 year old paragraph, almost 2 years since my bed-ridden dad, stir crazy mom, and I brainstormed the whole story, a year and a half since I finished writing my story, over a year since I had it edited by two professional editors, and six months after I started researching publishers, I finally sent off my manuscript. Now begins the long, long process of waiting- waiting, waiting, waiting.

For those that don't know, I wrote a children's book. It was so much fun to write and the most exciting thing for me was how involved my family was. It all started two years ago, when Cody and I were living at my parents house, and my dad hurt his back, the day after Christmas. He was bedridden for over a month, and for those who know my dad, he cannot stand to be still for more than an hour. So one day, I was keeping him company when I pulled out his file of ideas- mostly pictures that he would one day like to paint. But I pulled out a paragraph of a story that my mom and him had started writing years and years ago. It was a cute, magical little story that I had seen before, but never really given much thought to. But as we were all sitting in my dad's room, trying to keep him company, I decided we should finish this story. So my mom, dad, and I started brainstorming and we came up with an outline to finish off the story. It really brought my dad to life, creating the story. So I took that outline and I spent the next couple of months writing the story, afraid to show anyone my work because I am kinda known as a terrible writer. There are only two people's reaction's that I remember when they first read my story. I was about 3/4 of the way done when I read it to my dad. I was really worried that it would be one of those awkward moments, when he would listen to my writing and then have to feign excitement at my horrible writing. But he was actually really excited about what I had so far- rough as it was. That was a great bit of encouragement for me. Then when I finished my story, I sent it to my sister, Monica, to give me some advice and edit it for me. She called as soon as she had read it and said she loved it- I could tell in her voice that she was really excited about it. She gave some great advice and a lot of the story has some of her original writing and ideas in it. We edited over and over and over as a family. I think that's why this story is pretty special to me, because it created a lot of great memories with my family.

Well, sorry to blab on and on. I just am excited, and I talk a lot when I am excited! I will keep you updated on what happens and you can cry with me through my rejection letters, and celebrate with me when it actually gets published!! Have a Happy New Years.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

No Pain, No Gain

Sometimes, something little, like a smell, or a fleeting image, will bring full force a feeling of nostalgia. I feel it physically. Sometimes its so fleeting, I don't quite recognize it, but I know its from my past. I often get nostalgic about college. It was so much fun. I made so many great friends, and it passed way too quickly. The strongest feelings of nostalgia, that pain me, are the ones when I think of someone I know I can never be friends like we were back then. Whether we have lost touch or I just get snippets of their life from emails, pictures, and Christmas cards, its not the same as living as roommates or working with them every day. It has been almost 6 years since I graduate college- I don't think I am handling the getting older thing very well. I just miss my friends.

Today as I was wrapping Christmas gifts I was brought back to memories of when I worked at the service desk at the BYU Bookstore and I wrapped gifts everyday. It quite possibly may be my favorite job of all time. Not just because I got to gift wrap all day, but because of my coworkers. One of my best friends, who I have lost contact with, was my boss Melinda. She was so much fun and helped me through some difficult times- my first heart break, roommate issues, and when I freaked out that I was graduating from BYU when I still felt so young. She always gave great advice and she was funnier than all get out. She is a great person, and as I was wrapping my gifts today, I thought about her, and how we would always tell our customers that we won the national championship of gift wrapping two years in a row, how we would order cinnamon sticks from pipeline pizza when we both had to work on Saturdays and eat the entire thing, and how she called me Brooke Harker Barker Baker when I dated a couple of guys with those last names. I haven't talked with her since I was pregnant with Claire. It is one friendship that I regret losing.

Cody, on the other hand, doesn't get nostalgic at all. He doesn't really keep in touch with friends from his past and I don't think that bothers him at all. So I wonder, is it better to be like Cody, living in the present, not dwelling on the past, or is it better to hold onto those feelings from the past, so you can always remember the great people and great events at the risk of feeling pain that those days are gone? I think I will take the pain, if it allows me to feel the happy memories I have.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The cipher in the Snow

Do you remember that church video where the boy gets off a school bus and just collapses, d ead. His teacher figures out, after much introspection and investigation, that the boy died from lack of love- no body loved him. It always made me so sad, especially the part where his step father is berating him. Darn tear-jerker.

Well, we had our own cipher in the snow story- though not nearly as sad, not nearly as serious, with no school bus, or boys with bowl haircuts. My last post was the story of our sad little Christmas tree that from the get-go I didn't like. I guess I did berate it-calling it ugly, lopsided, and dare I repeat, balding on top! Even once we got it home, decorated it, and gave it lights, you still couldn't get any words of encouragement to escape my lips. It was pathetic, and I took every opportunity to let it know that.

So, within a couple of days it started to turn brown, puke green-brown to be specific. I kept it watered, but that darn derelict tree kept turning more and more brown each day. After just 5 days in our house, the tree was dropping needles faster than a junkie running from the police. One morning I came downstairs after being so overwhelmed with Claire and her mess making and as soon as I looked at our brown tree, I broke into tears. I knew the tree wasn't going to last until Christmas and we were having a Christmas party this weekend at our house. I was embarrassed about having such a sad tree for all to see. But I wasn't about to go and get another tree. What, are we made of money? But when Cody came home that day, he asked if I wanted to get a new tree and after considering that the tree would literal be reduced to a skeleton of twigs with a pile of needles on the floor by Christmas, we decided to go and buy another. I couldn't figure out why our tree died so fast and so thoroughly. But then I thought of the cipher in the snow, and realized-the hippies were right- A plant needs love to grow. And ours was definitely not feeling the love. Maybe some day, somewhere, when a seminary teacher doesn't have anything planned for the day, the story of our cipher in the snow will be told, and someone besides me, will shed a tear for our sorry tree.

PS: For all those who have wondered what a cipher in the snow is, I looked it up. A cipher is one having no influence or value; a non-entity. However, our tree did have a value- $30 wasted bucks!!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Beware the Christmas Tree Diva

There are a few moments, just a few, in my life where I know I am being so petty and spoiled about such stupid things. I remember when my parents told me they had bought me a 'gold' car, I was so bugged all day at work, venting I was getting a car that fit right in with the decor of Donald Trump's pent house. Even as I was venting, I knew how incredibly stupid and spoiled I was being complaining about the color of a free car. (Side note- it turned out to be sandstone in color, which I love very much) So what follows is yet another diva moment for your enjoyment this holiday season.

On Saturday last, our little family decided to bundle up and embark on the jolly tradition of picking out a Christmas tree in the rustic and wild terrain of a Pittsburgh parking lot. So we set out for the Busy Beaver, a local hardware store, in hopes of finding trees there. On the way there we passed a teeny, tiny, not-quite-big-enough-to-be-called-a-parking-lot parking lot with a handful for Christmas trees set up and a sign declaring all trees to be $30 or less. So we decided to pull over and see if we could recapture the spirit of last years tree, making fun family memories in the process. I am always trying to make family events like this memorable and festive, so that even if Claire won't remember, Cody and I can look back and reminisce about the good times. So we hop out, Claire bundled in her cutest hat-coat-glove attire, but it still doesn't cut the bitter cold that swept into town the night before. So from the get go- she was a bit ticked to be there. No prob, we can still make this a great family outing and take a couple of really festive pictures of Claire picking out a tree.

My fun, family festive attitude began to evaperate faster that you can sing 'Oh Tanebaum'. As I start to browse the 30 or so trees that are out, I am not liking what I see. They were all basically the same kinda of tree- the wrong tree. I like the tree to be a delicate balance of thinness (so the ornaments will dangle) and fatness (I don't want to be seeing its unmentionables). But all the trees were the super full, light green variety, and slowly the diva started coming out of me. Cody would say, how about this one? No, too full. How about this one? No too full. How about this one? No, the top is to scrawny- and on and on for all 32 trees. The attendant offered to open up more trees that were still bound and stacked in the back. "We have hundreds more." Right, hundreds more just like these 32, no thanks. I told Cody I wanted to go somewhere else to look, but he looked at me like I was kidding and told me we would pick out one of these trees. So, even though I knew I was being way to picky, difficult, and a bit Mariah Carey, I tried to perk up and make it the fun Nelson family outing I had planned on. But the problem with me, is when I am not happy about something, I cannot pretend that I am. Cody kept asking, do you like this one, no, still to full, still too ugly. Harsh, I know. But the spoiled brat in me was coming out full force. Finally we picked a tree, which I thought was ugly, but probably the best out of the batch. It was crooked, had long branches in awkward places, and had a bald spot in the back and a tiny one in the front. Whatever, lets just get out of the blasted cold. We take it home and set it up, where finally Cody sees that it is in fact crooked. I even had the thought that this poor Christmas tree would have been stuck at the lot, watching all the other Christmas trees find homes unless someone, out of the goodness of their heart,gave this poor Christmas tree a home. But I sure as heck wasn't happy about it. It wasn't until Cody finally admitted, "Boy this tree is ugly" that I was finally appeased and I changed my attitude to a "lets make this tree sparkle" attitude.

So I just wanted to issue this warning from what I have learned- Watch out for the Christmas Tree Diva! She will reek havoc on your Christmas spirit, ruin potentially special family traditions, and make you look like a complete spoiled brat!

Another side note: this picture of Claire completely captures what I was feeling, and is the face of the Christmas Tree Diva- beware!