All of life is a journey; which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Farewell Small Town X: you wouldn't let me leave without a bang!

It has been some time since I last posted on this blog, and the irony is that this will be my final post. I moved to Small Town X August 18, 2010 and on December 9, 2011 I say farewell and move up north and back to a population exceeding 6,000 people. When I moved here I felt as though I would do nothing but celebrate the day that I found myself escaping from this place, and although the next chapter seems exciting and welcomed, I leave Small Town X with gratitude and respect for my experiences over the last year or so. But what would be a proper goodbye after a roller coaster of experiences without one last crazy story to share with you. So without further a due, I give you my last week in Small Town X.

After discovering last Tuesday that I would be moving from Small Town X in a short ten days, I was overwhelmed to say the least. My first and most nerve racking concern, where was I going to live? It was an all consuming question, and I could not stop stressing about finding a place on such short notice. But leave it to Small Town X to teach me that there are more important things to be concerned with. While meeting with a couple individuals in the office, one of my employees ran in saying there was an irate customer and that I would need to handle it, and may need to call the police. I remember thinking that I HATE irate customers and getting yelled at mostly. I ran through the doors toward the back and was not prepared for the next four minutes of activity. As I went through the doors, I could hear someone screaming in a way that I can almost not describe. There are definitely different kinds of screaming. There is screaming in fear, excitement, frustration, rage and then this, crazy incoherent screaming. I knew in an instant this was not someone upset about a price or rule, this was something very different. As I reached for the door to the outside, in came the back of another employee physically trying to keep this man out. Every expletive in the book was being used, especially a particular four letter word, but what got the blood pumping and the adrenaline increasing was what message was being yelled in between them. It went something like this, go ahead and call the police you ... I am going to kill all of you! You are all dead! At that moment another yelled call 911. We had no idea if he had a weapon, all I could do was run to the phone a few feet away and called 911 as 3 employees continued to try and get the door shut and locked and run to the other doors to get them locked.

The dispatcher answered and I gave the only information I had at that point, an irate customer is out of control at work and is saying he is going to kill us. While I stayed on the line, gave instructions to my employees and tried to get people away from the door the police arrived in record time. I heard them grab him, and I ran out in time to see them throw him against the squad car in handcuffs and take him away. So much in about 4 minutes. The next hour was spent contacting potential employees that could be involved, giving my statement, helping others give theirs, answering questions and helping those that were involved work through what had happened and how to calm down. Needless to say, I hope that this is the closest I ever come to being seriously in danger at work, but it made me grateful for all the people I work with. No matter what the disagreements, the arguments, the conflicts in personalities that have taken place over the last year, when he came through those doors spitting and assaulting the men trying to protect us, everything vanished and the focus was protecting one another. There was no hesitation, no consideration for person or self, they protected one another. It was an incredible thing to witness despite the fear associated with what was going on. No matter the ups or downs, the highs and lows, this experience, and this time in Small Town X will keep a special place in my heart. I would expect nothing less than leaving with a bang from Small Town X. And a bang is what I have gotten. Thank you Small Town X and all the people that it is composed of. Who would have guessed that this city girl could have discovered that she is a little country under it all. For the final time.
The End

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Great things sometimes come from small packages

This is a saying that I have heard for years. The first time I can actually remember hearing it was in 4th grade when my class did a musical called great kings come in small packages. The performance was all based on powerful and strong kings from the scriptures that came in less than likely packages (what can I say I went to a private baptist school). Since then it has been expressed in different experiences. It was brought to the forefront of my life today when I finished my shift at work and headed out to a service project organized by women from my stake and the surrounding area. I did not feel like I really contributed much, an hour of time crocheting closed, balls that had been stuffed with soft centers that were being sent to different parts of the world, and making school bags to be sent to Nigeria. After the project was completed we all had some soup for dinner before listening to a broadcast of speakers. At dinner however, the organizers spoke about the service that had been going on in Small Town X over the last 14 weeks. It was summarized as follows. In Small Town X in the last 14 weeks, 4000 hours of service had been given, an average of 6 quilts per week were created, there was an average of 58 people per service day working, and today alone in 2 hours 605 school bags were made, 78 hygiene kits were put together, 4 baby quilts and 2 regular quilts sewed, and over a hundred stuffed toys were completed. Being in the midst of all these caring and compassionate women was incredible. They offered their time and talents with love and joy in their hearts. I know that this kind of love is shown in places all over the world, there was just a special feeling in Small Town X tonight. That such a small and perhaps overlooked spot in the world could offer what they have to individuals all over the planet was touching. The final speaker of the evening spoke about the flower forget-me-nots. When talking about what the five petals of this small but beautiful flower represented he said, forget not that you are loved by your Heavenly Father. I can imagine that every person, including myself, has felt forgotten or insignificant at one time or another. That their existence was valueless and that their meager contributions to this earthly experience would go unnoticed. What I was reminded of tonight through both word and action is that there is no individual on this earth that lacks inherent worth and value. And though their contribution may seem small at first, it can mean so much in the life of another. Having been the recipient of others' kindness I know that sometimes it is the small acts of love that mean the most. I was the recipient of such gifts as friends I care dearly about took time out of their busy schedules to come to a birthday dinner in the middle of the week. That sent messages and texts and made calls that meant so much more than I could ever express. Small Town X has taught me once again, that it is not about the destination, but the journey and to forget not to be happy now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The County Fair: fried oreos, funnel cake and lingerie!

The county fair came to town here in Small Town X. The fliers were out and activities planned, and this was one Small Town X activity I was definitely interested in checking out for myself. In all "fair"ness (I can't help it I am "pun"ny) to Small Town X, my memories of fairs are primarily born from the Orange County Fair in Orange County, California. Now there is a fair! Building after building of booths and merchandise, which as a child I could not get through fast enough to begin the first of thousands of rides down the super slide on a burlap sack. Wearing the wrist band that gave me access to that slide was the best accessory I owned as a youngster. So needless to say, my expectations were unrealistic to say the least. So as I perused the list of activities that might catch my eye and work into my schedule, I was preparing myself for what might be offered. Then I saw it, something that I never could have prepared myself for. Among the lists of contests and opportunities to display your creations was a giant advertisement for the BEDAZZLE YOUR BRA COMPETITION. Yes you read it right, Small Town X's County Fair included a good ole fashioned bedazzled bra contest. At first I sat silent, stunned by what I had just read. And then it came, the uncontrollable laughter. Then the thought, I have got to see this for myself. So on a Thursday afternoon after work, I headed over to the fair grounds. Having never been. I was concerned with the limited amount of time that I had, that I would get lost and not cover all the high points. Others told me I could not get lost and they were not kidding. The entire fair was smaller than the parking lot we used to have to walk through to simply get to the OC fair. But experience the County Fair I did.

First stop, BMX show watching, not bad, but nothing too spectacular. Then onto the two rows of booths (did get a cute frame for my house). On to bingo, met some fun ladies but did not win. If it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all! And then to the entry displays. And there is was, the bedazzled bra booth. Now I have to say that there do exist members of this county with a healthy since of humor. As you can see I included some pictures of the entries, as a picture is worth a thousand words. I did discover that the purpose of this booth was to support breast cancer awareness, which I am always up for. However, I also had an epiphany of my own. Next year should I find myself in or visiting Small Town X, I have my contest entry already planned. I do not own a bedazzler, nor am I willing to purchase one for this entry, but I have an alternative. I am going to purchase two small cones, like the ones soccer teams use to run drills, cover them with glued beads and glitter, tie them together and call it the Madonna. It may not win, but I think it will serve its purpose. Oh Small Town X, you do have a surprisingly wicked since of humor sometimes, and for that I am thankful. As the summer comes to a close, I hope you enjoy a trip to the fair and "expose" some of your own local treasures!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You want him to do what?!?

Traditions. Traditions are great things. I have many traditions, both personally and with my family. Every year I buy my Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving in order to enjoy it for the longest duration of time. Fourth of July I watch fireworks somewhere, depending on where I happen to be. Every year my two best friends and I go on a trip together, that way no matter the distance we still are able to see one another. I always thought highly of traditions, what they symbolized, the happiness they offered. I should have realized these thoughts were lulling me into a false sense of traditional security. I attended my younger brother's wedding last week. It was a little surreal to think of him as being married, starting his own little family. His new bride looked beautiful, and together seemed indescribably happy. The day of the reception we drove down from Boston to Vermont and got ready to celebrate. Now weddings, there is an events just busting at the seams with traditions. The father daughter dance, the mother son dance, the first dance as husband and wife, the dollar dance, the cutting of the cake, etc. But the most well known of these traditions, the garter and bouquet toss. Now I have been to plenty of receptions in my time, but this experience was a first! On a side note there is something that you need to know about me to truly understand this experience from my perspective. If I do not know you, I have a HUGE personal bubble. Once I know you I am all about the hugs and touch, but until then... no good. Now back to that night. It is time for the garter toss. The DJ instructs my brother to stand at the far end of the room and his wife to sit in a chair in the middle. He starts the music and my brother is to strut and dance his way to her, dance around her three times and then take off the garter. Well this is quite the spectacle as he dances his way up and around, adding a little lap dance in for his bride, and "shaking his money maker" as I have heard it described. Then the bachelors gather round and the garter is caught by one of the group. Since I only knew the family and best man, who this man was, was unknown to me. Then the bouquet toss comes around. I have never caught a bouquet, there are usually a good number of girls really fighting to the death over it, and frankly I have never viewed this as a competitive sport. This particular day all the single ladies included me, my two sisters, and a couple other girls. The bouquet was tossed and before I knew it, it was in my hands. I thought it was neat to have caught it for the first and only time at my brother's reception and went on my merry way. This is when "tradition" decided to make this an experience I will never forget.

The DJ announces that I have to now sit in the middle of the room on the chair. Confused and now very anxious he announces that the man that caught the garter will now be dancing towards and around ME before placing the garter on ME! My first thought is utter horror and that this is the worst possible situation for me. Once again, tradition and a creative man proved me wrong. As he dances towards me I can feel my face flaming red and I just kept thinking get it over with. But this man would not be outdone by my brother's performance. How can he out-perform him you ask? By starting the take his clothing OFF! It was at that moment that I thought, I am going to physically die of embarrassment and utter awkwardness. Then panic seizes me as the tie comes off on the first turn, the shirt begins to come off the second and I think, "there is at least one more round!" What do I yell out over the roaring laughter and applause going on? "I am mormon!" Why I thought that this information would save me, I have no idea, but there it was. The response that came next was also something I had not anticipated that night. As he dances around again he leans in a says, "Don't worry, me too. It won't go any further." At that point I lost it too. Relief mixed with total helplessness overcame me and I just started cracking up. After having the garter placed onto me, I jumped up and could not escape fast enough. The most ironic part of this experience, meeting this man's fiance afterwards. I think there should be an unwritten guideline for the garter toss participants. If wedding someone any time in the next 6 months, or with fiance present, pass on that tradition. Let me tell you, I have never witnessed this half of the tradition anywhere else, but now that I know it exists, that bouquet and I are mortal enemies. I will catch no more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Even Magicians Have an Off Day

A top hat, cumber-bun, white gloves and a wand. Add a magic word and kazam! You have a magician. Magicians have dazzled and amazed throughout time, inspiring wonder and curiosity for the unknown. They vary in skill and ability. And yet one would think that in order to really appreciate a good magic show, the magician's skill would need to be exceptional. Today proved quite the opposite, as I witnessed the greatest show on earth (and no, this was not Barnum and Bailey). I was at work (a new job in a medicaid rehabilitation center) when I got wind of a magic show being performed for the residents. I took my seat in the audience and prepared myself to be dazzled. Well our 81 year old magician put on quite a show, but I quickly discovered it was more of a comedy act than actual magic. Let me just share with you the highlights. The stage was set for the magic of popcorn making. A silver dish with a lid was filled with un-popped kernels of popcorn, a dash of salt and oil and a glide of the magic wand. Then what should happen but that the bowls were mixed up and the one pre-filled with pre-popped popcorn spilled out right before our very eyes. But did this little mishap phase our magician, NO! He just picked up the bowls, turned around and switched them only to replace the lid and set it on the podium. The best part of witnessing this super secret switcharoo, was that after a minute or two of waiting he tapped his wand on the covered silver dish and said, "I don't know about you, but I hear some popping going on!" I am not sure if the popping he was hearing was the kernels of corn or the muffled laughter of the staff in the audience. For one of the finale tricks he placed three glasses on the table, covered by a pie tin, with three empty toilet paper rolls on top each with a plastic egg cradled atop the empty rolls. Then he emphasized that the trick should be done with real eggs, but that it was better for him to stick with plastic ones. Boy was he right! He grabbed a broom, held the bristles with his foot and catapulted the handle at the pie tin. Now because I was unable to see what should have happened with the eggs, this is how I think it was supposed to go... Broom handle hits pie tin, eggs end up in respective glasses. This is how it did go... (both attempts) broom handle hits pie tin, toilet paper rolls, eggs and glasses and everything goes flying! Needless to say, all of us in the audience were grateful that no actual eggs were harmed in the execution of this magic trick. Although some lesser magicians would have left the performance with egg on their face (both literally and figuratively), this magic man ensured to leave with pride by using plastic instead. Life is a comedy, not always a drama.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A life lession learned

I can be a complainer. I try not to be, but as time goes by the urge to complain gets the best of me, and I find myself letting it out. Especially lately. I had been thinking over the past few weeks about how difficult life seems to have been. How much I was struggling despite all the blessings in my life. And tonight that urge got the best of me when I called my family upset over something that happened at work. As I sat in my car, feelings hurt and hope waning for a bit, I left for another job and never expected what would come next. After a full day of working in various settings and with differing groups of people, I sat in a small group talking about life and the challenges that we face. A woman I work with related the following story about her husband. Eleven years ago he was involved in a serious accident in a semi. The truck overturned and rolled and he was left with his face seriously injured and permanently paralyzed. After the accident he was without movement, sight or hearing. They were a family with 5 children under the age of nine, and now given the trial of a lifetime. At this point this man had a choice. With all that he was faced with, he could choose to be absorbed and overcome by his circumstance, or move forward despite the long and difficult road ahead. He chose to fight. He chose hope. And he decided that only in love, and not anger, would he find true happiness and joy. It was six months after the accident that he yelled from the bathroom to his wife. She ran to see what was wrong, when he answered, "I heard the towel dry my hair." After six months he could hear. She expressed how as she began to weep her first thought was that she had never known that the towel made a sound as it dried her hair. It was another three months before he began to regain his sight. Even eleven years later, smiling and facial expressions are not possible. But his family and friends have learned to see his emotions through his eyes. Even after all this time, the small victories are what continue to combat sorrow or resentment. He is now seeing the muscles in the corner of his mouth start to develop from shock treatments. The most incredible part of this remarkable story is the fact that through everything she says he has never once complained. At a time when he had the opportunity to decide the path he would take, he every day chooses happiness, strength, love and hope. He teaches those around him to never take for granted the small things, and that it is a conscious choice how we will allow experiences to affect us. I left tonight feeling full of gratitude for the lesson I had learned. Although I know that I will have times that may get the better of me, I hope I will carry this example with me always. That it will help me be a better person and keep a clear perspective of what is important. I must try and remember that life is not a destination, but a journey full of ups and downs, trials and tears, happiness and progression. To develop strength of character like this man is my sincere hope; that when the difficult days come I choose every time to make the best of every moment I am given. Without even knowing it, he has become a great source of inspiration and triumph for which I am unbelievably grateful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Warning About Small Town X

Let us begin at the beginning. Small Town X has never been the travel destination for most. But while here, I have had a couple brave souls come to visit and see the place I have called home for the past nine months. Why brave? Because given any average weekend in Small Town X, crazy things can happen. This is a case and point example. One of my dearest friends came down for the weekend to visit me. Arriving on a Saturday, she met me at work and we began our Small Town X kickoff by going to the park and listening to the local high school jazz band concert. Not two minutes into the first song, did we begin to hear some guy yelling behind us. I could not understand what he was yelling, but could not believe that he would be so inconsiderate to these performers. As he ran closer to us, the reason was clear he was yelling for someone's phone to call 911. My friend handed him her iphone, which after several failed attempts he gave back yelling he needed a phone with keys. The group we were with had a nurse in the midst and she went right over to discover a man had slipped and fallen and tore a tendon in his leg. Despite all the commotion and the ambulance arrival, the band played on. So a rather dramatic start to the Small Town X experience. If only the drama had ended there. Our next stop, the local Walmart for some supplies. Once entering the parking lot, we were greeted by a nice man sitting in a camping chair next to his motor-home, in the Walmart parking lot drinking a beer. Needless to say, first impressions are lasting... But the highlight of this friend's trip had to be the next day after we left church and decided to go for a drive up to a local lake about 30 miles from Small Town X. We had heard it was beautiful and she had visited once as a child. We drove up and enjoyed the peacefulness and beauty all around us. Then the skies opened up and we decided to head back. A seemingly calm afternoon was then shattered by murder. Who is the murderer you ask? That would be me. While coming down the mountain I killed Bambi's mom. The weapon of choice (not by my own choice I might add), my car. Unfortunately, my dear friend (since I will no longer have any deer friends once word gets around) had to experience the moment of impact followed by my crying over the suffering animal as we waited for the local sheriff. The most important fact, neither of us were hurt, and it was the best case scenario for a poor situation. So after two days of jam packed 911 calls, local intoxication, and murder, I offer this one brief warning. Should you choose to ever venture to Small Town X, prepare yourself for the possibility of much more than you bargained for. Because things will come up around every turn (literally and figuratively). To this brave woman, I hope that at the very least, you had a one of a kind experience into Small Town X.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Frugality: A Candle Too Far?

We live in a day and age of instant gratification and excess. If you want it, then buy it. If your neighbor has it, then you should have more. The differentiation between wants and needs has been seemingly lost in the desire to have it all. Growing up we were always encouraged to use it up, to ask ourselves if we really needed it, and if we did to save until we could afford it. These have been lessons, that although I sometimes struggle to maintain, have stuck with me throughout the years. But can one take frugality too far? Well I went home to celebrate my mother's birthday this weekend and what I saw in the kitchen is what sparked this train of thought. I went down one morning to heat up something for breakfast. My dad was down in the kitchen, and when I place the plate in the microwave I turned it on, but alas there was no reaction. The timer was counting down, however, there was no heat being inserted into the food within. My dad saw what was going on and looked at me giving me a knowing glance. I asked if the microwave was broken and he said, "No just grab the candle on top of it". My initial reaction was that he was pulling my leg, since he has a history of encouraging me to follow instructions that later lead to absurd ends. So I was instantly hesitated and resisted following his instructions. He confirmed to indeed grab the candle and stick it under the door of the microwave. I could not believe what he was telling me to do! But I did and sure enough the microwave roared to life and completed its timed process. I asked why it had not been replaced and he told me my mom said it still worked and she liked using the candle. Sure enough when I went to my mother, the woman who taught me our frugal nature, her reply was an exact match. Why replace it? It still works! I just started laughing. The picture is worth a thousand words as every time something needs to be heated in the microwave a candle protrudes out of the front. So is this act of frugality too much? Or would society be in better shape all around if every person exercised the same restraint over their unnecessary purchases? Or is there perhaps a middle ground where one can replace a candle run microwave and continue to be a responsible shopper? The answers to this question are individual and vary depending on the person being asked. As for this frugal shopper, I think that a new microwave is in this mom's future whether she likes it or not.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kids say the darnedest things!

How the mind functions is astounding. The power we have to comprehend and understand never ceases to amaze me. But the minds that are the most incredible usually belong to those of children. They see the world entirely differently than, not only adults, but other children as well. You give the average adult a difficult situation and we will ponder, deduce and construct all the possible solutions. But we are limited by social norms, expectations and are resistant to imagination. Whereas children will look for a simple solution. They are not constrained by feelings of hesitation, acceptance or fear of failure. This was never more evident than an experience I had in a group activity with a four year old cherub in Small Town X. We were discussing various situations and how to problem solve with a group of kids ranging from 4 to 11. The scenario they were given was this:
You walk to school every day and go past a house with a large dog. Every day the dog barks and chases you down the street. What can you do?
Many of the older children began answering with options such as tell your mom and dad. Walk a different way to school. Talk to the neighbor. Then this tiny little girl with large adorable eyes raised her hand to answer. Once called on her answer was simple and precise. She said, "Well the dog is probably chasing you to eat you, which means he is barking to tell you he is hungry. So you should probably take a piece of meat with you to feed him." There you have it. The solution to this dog conundrum, bring a piece of meat to feed the dog. Because clearly this is all stemming from hunger and would be rectified with meat. This answer was fantastic! The delivery, flawless. Why is it that adults cannot approach the world and its dilemmas the same way? Not only did she address the problem she was having with getting chased to school, but took consideration for the dog and his hunger. Perhaps in a world filled with frustration and confusion, we should heed the council of those wiser than ourselves, even if that means we bring juice boxes to the meetings. Problem solve away, and remember what Walt Disney once said, "Our greatest national resource is the minds of our children."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Second chances are like casts and splints

Why casts and splints you ask? Well I think of them like this. They are an important part of healing. They can mend broken things. And in order to be effective, they must be taken advantage of and treated properly. So why the comparison between something that mends a broken bone and opportunities for a new start? Well it began with a package, a note and a personal realization. All this began with a package I received from my best friend. She has been working in and out of the country for a while, and on her travels she brings back with her pieces of the places she has visited. This package came from Africa and was a beautiful hand made purse. It was created out of vibrant yellow fabric with a black elephant on either side. On the package came a simple instruction, "look inside the purse pocket". Once I finished admiring the beauty of the fabric, I opened the pocket to find two things: one being prayer beads and the second being a card. This personal realization stemmed from information included in the card. It explained that the purse was made from her favorite fabric and embodied the feeling and experience of this part of the world. But the most incredible part was that is was hand made by former sex workers who had been given a second chance in life by working for this company. They had left what they had known, and taken the opportunity to start new. This is what made this gift so special and got me thinking about second chances. My work is all about second chances, about creating a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Now some that participate in this experience may agree and others disagree, but it is none-the-less an opportunity for growth and transformation. I have seen individuals take the opportunity and run with it. They literally changed their lives and created a fresh and vibrant start. I have also seen those that disregarded the experience, even despised and resented it. It became little more than another road block, made miserable by arrogance and entitlement. So why do some of us, myself included, throw away second chances? Why not take it and run, create miracles out of chaos? Here is my best answer to this question. Fear.

With the risk of success comes the risk of failure. What if we put all we have into making a change and trying to be better and it isn't enough? Sometimes I think that choosing to not take advantage of a second chance is less scary than trying and failing. I think that, when I am confronted with trials and challenges. I think if I don't try, than I know that no one else can tell me I failed. It gives me the false sense of control and power. It is false because if that is the road I choose, I fail to grow, learn and become the best version of myself that I can be. For a human race that thrives for success, the fear of being unsuccessful is a powerful enemy. For in failure we learn to define our character. In adversity we mold our very core. I once heard that, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars". They are massive because they every day surmounted their fear. They took hold of second chances and opportunities and ran with them, appreciated them and did not allow them to pass by. I look at this purse and I do not see something to place a wallet in or hold a cell phone with. I see unspeakable courage, determination and a strength that I hope I can be reminded of in times of difficulty and strife. These woman act as an example to me that there is nothing that cannot be overcome, if I push aside fear and allow hope and love to conquer all obstacles. Nelson Mandela said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My own personal soapbox

Why the blog today? Well here is the truth. I went to commencement and was mad. I wrote a letter to the editor for the local paper, and because I have no control over whether it gets published, I wanted to get on my own soapbox for a moment and at least have it out there. There is something therapuetic about at least putting it out and feeling heard. So because my actual letter may end up in the archives never to be heard from again, I am giving it a short lived life here in cyberspace. Take or leave it, now it at least exists somewhere.

Commencement is not a political soapbox.
I have to say congratulations to the most recent graduates from Snow College Small Town X campus. All of whom worked diligently at their crafts or specialties in order to receive certificates and degrees to advance them on to the next stage of their lives. This was my first time attending a commencement here, and I anticipated the event with excitement for those I cheered on. Upon completion of the ceremony I was speechless. Which was a far cry from the commencement speaker Senator Okerlund. I have been to my fair share of graduations, both where I participated and attended for others. The approach that speakers gave varied dramatically, however the messages were similar. They were messages of support, congratulations, and encouragement for this new chapter in their lives. As the Senator took the podium I was excited to hear his words of advice, guidance, and support. Instead I listened to his political agenda and the graduate’s share of the national debt. Some of the points discussed included land rights, the poor economy, run off concerns for the area, gas prices, the length of time officials should be allowed to serve in office and the rest of his current political agenda. What I did not hear was a commencement speaker addressing the graduates. After hearing their portion of the national debt and its crippling effects on an economy that will be difficult to get a job in, I watched the faces fall on the day every graduate should have been full of excitement on. I remained seated shocked at the inappropriateness of the subject matter. If this was a convention focused on local and national politics, then the speech would have been well delivered and potentially well received. Mentioning the graduates in the last few moments before the conclusion was insufficient for the role he accepted to take. I appreciate the Senator’s passion for his position and the dedication that he has for the people and businesses in his jurisdiction. At the same time, I feel that it was an opportunity lost for the well deserving graduates to be given congratulations, well wishes, and a similar passion for what each of their futures hold. It may not mean much coming from me, but congratulations graduates of the class of 2011. Times may be difficult, and there may be obstacles to overcome, but you are strong, capable and full of potential to change the course of history. Do not allow what you are told cannot be done from stopping you from doing what you know can be. You have limitless potential and will make a significant and meaningful contribution to society and the world. Good luck in all your future endeavors and know that there is nothing that is out of your grasp.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The new red light district

I recently got to visit Pompeii where I had the eye opening experience of the primary business for this destination. Prostitution. The cost for this activity, relatively the same as ordering two glasses of wine. As we toured the brothels and saw the carvings of a certain male body part in stone pointing in the direction of the nearest facility, I thought once I left, I had also left that piece of the world behind me. Apparently, Small Town X had another idea. I got back to work and had one more encounter with a she-wolf as it were. I was working in the office, when one of my associates came in asking for a safety pin. I looked around and finally located one. When I asked her what she needed it for, the answer caught me a little off guard. Incidentally, we had placed a doll that was donated, for sale on the collections case. I have included a picture of this doll for you to see. She is an old western style bar maid, that adorned some fish net stockings underneath a high slitted skirt. One of our more "mature" customers had come in to shop, seen the doll and was appalled that we would sell such a "brazen hussy". Yes ladies and gentlemen, apparently we are the new red light district for this small town. She insisted that we make her more modest and pin her skirt shut, as it is in the picture. Who knew that thousands of miles away and an ocean apart, the legacy of my time in Pompeii would reveal itself right in my own store, in the form of a porcelain doll now to be forever known as the brazen hussy of Small Town X.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh the power of the spoken word

Ok, I may not be speaking of the same spoken word you are, but there is power in language. Communication is key to building relationships, working together and promoting change. Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." So to back up for a second, I decided to accept a second very part time, temporary job in Small Town X. I was asked by a graduate school friend of mine if I would be interested in helping facilitate a family relations group in the area. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity to do something new and different, and practice some skills that had gone rusty with time and lack of use. So I gladly accepted and learned what this group was about. This is the basic format:
The families come and we have dinner together each night the group meets. Then the kids go into one group with fun activities and a lesson on communication (ex: saying nice things vs. mean things, interrupting, expressing needs, etc.) while the adults hold another group to talk about positive talk and reinforcing good behaviors. The focus is to praise the kids for the things they are doing right and see those behaviors increase. Then the two groups come together and do an activity and allow the parents to practice these skills. At first I was a little skeptical about how much change could really come from a few positive words about playing and observations. But after the first night I was a BELIEVER! The kids came in like a hurricane and there was chaos. But after the parents practiced some positive praise and focused on the good behaviors, those behaviors increased immediately. When the kids wanted to share, hands were raised. When they played games, there was sharing among peers. It was incredible. The best part about this program, the praise works both directions. The second night one of the kids grabbed me and whispered, "I have to tell you a secret! You are my favorite teacher." Oh man, did that light me up. I felt so touched, and so grateful for the chance to do this.
I just kept thinking how some things just don't change with age. Whether you are 9 or 99, Mark Twain was right, words stick with us, they change us. And the power is unmistakable. Words have changed the course of history, they have changed groups of people and beliefs, but most importantly they have each one of us as individuals. The hardest part is allowing the words of encouragement and love to overpower the words of discouragement and unkindness. So here is to the love of a child, and the power one little sentence can bring.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Somebody call 9-1-1!

Oh wait, someone did! Yesterday was an exciting day at work. Where I work we have a no cell phone policy while you are working. In fact we began a cell phone check in incentive that offers rewards for following this guideline, since it seems to be the most difficult rule to follow. Well yesterday this guideline proved an asset in the workplace. One of our people, who works in a program through DWS with us, was carrying his cell phone in his pocket while at work. Cell phones are wonderful things. They have a safety function that is meant to protect people in any situation, the emergency call function. We have all seen this on our phones. Even when no other calls can be made and the keyboard is locked, there is one thing that can go on... calling 911. Well this is exactly what took place. The infamous pocket call to none other than the Small Town X 911 dispatcher. Suddenly aware that something was not right when a voice came up from his pocket, he politely told the dispatcher of his error and that he was at work and all was well. Well we know that follow ups are a 911 specialty. So who came rolling into work to check up on him? The local police force. Oh yes, the towns finest came by to make sure that this man was indeed ok. A comforting thought to know that such measures would be taken should there be an actual emergency, and a great area of teasing in this case when there wasn't. I wish I could say that this lesson in not having your phone in your pocket when your at work would stick, however, I would be lying to myself and all of you if I did. I guess we will just have to chalk it up as Small Town X humor 101, in the story of the emergency pocket call.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Buongiorno! Being back is surreal...

There once was a girl living in a small town, that went on the trip of a lifetime. This is her story.
Dramatic, right?

Well now on to the the rest of the story. I am just back from Italy where I spent 2 weeks traveling and learning and literally having experiences that I could never have imagined. I went with my best friend and some of her family and halfway through the trip was surprised by the 3rd musketeer in our trio and her mom. A very quick overview: I started the trip flying into Rome and going to the Almafi coast staying in Positano. While there we went to Almafi, Ravello, Sorrento and Capri. After that we traveled to Pompeii and then spent the last 9 days in Roma, Tivoli, and Ostio Antica. It was indescribable, and to include everything that happened would be impossible. The shortened version we typed up at the end of every day ended up 21 pages long, so putting it on here is an impossibility. So I thought I would just share a few experiences that touched, changed or challenged me to grow. So here is one of each.

The first and third (touched and challenged me) went hand in hand. I may be a small town resident now, but I grew up in southern California. I never shied away from large cities. But entering Rome was like nothing I have ever experienced. Driving in the city was like taking your life into your own hands. Every cobble stoned street was enclosed by large buildings, almost like walking through any alley way wherever you were. There were always people everywhere around you. And my first night was overwhelming to say the least. Culture shock was a new experience, and I did not like it. So the next day we started out, and I thought I would never feel comfortable there, until we were walking down a tiny road in between shops when we turned the corner and there it was, the Pantheon. It was majestic. Out of congestion and seeming chaos, there in front of me was grandeur. When I walked into the enormous structure, it was magical. You felt the sacredness there, the history and the wonder. It was at that moment that Rome transformed for me. I understood its allure, the life it held, and what going out of your comfort zone offered a person. It offered perspective and moments that literally brought tears to your eyes.

The place that most touched me was also in Rome, at the holy stairs. Here individuals would climb the stairs, which can only be done on ones knees. Every stair a prayer given, faith and commitment witnessed and respect shown. I watched silently as a nun kissed every step before she lifted her knees to offer herself up. It was moving, and made me grateful for every opportunity I have been given, including being able to witness events such as this. The people, although so different than myself, were similar in so many ways. I saw the kindness, acts of chivalry, moments of frustration and sadness, and joy. Our experiences may have taken place in distance parts of the world, but hopes and dreams brought us together. I came to love these people, and I wished I could spend more time with them. To really thank them for all the things they taught me about the world, its stories and myself. I cannot wait to explore on our next adventure, wherever that may take us. Until then, small town life will resume, and I will take what I have learned and keep the memories close to my heart. Until next time dear friends, ciao.

As soon as I get the pictures downloaded I will include the ones we took, until then here are ones from online.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I almost left without my trusty ziploc

So for those of you who may not know, I am leaving for Italy in the morning. That's right, this currently small town girl is busting out for two amazing weeks touring the world (more specifically parts of Italy). I have never been outside the country before, so you can imagine my combination of jitters and excitement. I have been planning this trip with my best friend for literally years, and the packing list was detailed and expansive. I want to be utterly prepared for this departure. I thought I had packed everything that I would need. Luckily, my friend asked a very crucial question, do you have your ziploc? To my horror I realized I had not moved my tried and true gallon sized ziploc out of my purse and into my backpack. I remedied that immediately and went to Walmart to make the final and essential preparation. Now I know you must be wondering why on earth a ziploc is so important? Well here it is...

When I was young my best friend, her family and I went to Disneyland. I grew up in California and was able to go frequently, but it was none-the-less exciting. On the drive there the car was unbelievably warm and the stop and go traffic was exactly that. Stop suddenly, go quickly, stop suddenly, go quickly (well you get the point). I was not one to get car sick often, but it happened, and despite earnest efforts to get a bag, stop the car, anything, I threw up all over their car, myself and the seat. They were wonderful about it. Pulled over and got cleaner, new clothes, etc. But I was mortified. I vowed that day that I would never be the cause of such a mess again. From then on I kept some kind of bag with me when traveling. Usually a paper bag, until I was old enough to realize how futile it would be when moist. Then a grocery bag and when older I began carrying a ziploc in my purse. Sometimes accompanied by a brown paper bag, as to not gross people out should the dreaded occur. My best friend and her family caught sight of my ziploc once and enjoyed teasing me about my eccentricity. Well it was years later, but it finally paid off.

I was in Washington visiting my best friend and her family, when we went up to the falls to visit and have breakfast. Her other close friend came, but on the twisting road back to the bottom she could no longer hold back breakfast. She began to throw up and what was the first thing I yelled? "I have a ziploc!" It got over to her quickly and saved the day. Needless to say when we arrived home I was quickly given a replacement and never teased again. It is because of this experience that I never doubt the power of the ziploc. And as I begin this new adventure in a plane, in cars and buses, I am never going to be far from this valuable tool. Because whether it saves myself or someone around me, it is a win win either way. I hope to come back in a couple weeks with great new posts and stories, until then I bid you farewell.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Enough is NOT enough

So this post is unique in comparison to the others I have included. I have tried during my time here in Small Town X to learn from my experiences and look at the positive things that living in a new and different place has to offer. But here is where I draw the line.

I have heard stories of the hospital and physicians in this town. It has the nickname of the "band-aid factory". I knew these may be rumors, and I had not had any personal experiences to validate this label. Until today... I had a friend go into the hospital under dire circumstances that required some extensive evaluations to be done. Once their immediate health was stable, the hospital wanted to discharge them without any follow up. This was not the first occasion that this condition threatened their very life, and yet despite numerous hospitalizations, nothing had been done to help them beyond the first 24 hours. This individual is the epitome of vulnerable and cannot advocate for themselves. They have entrusted their life with the the very members of this community that have taken a oath to serve and protect them. And yet the bare minimum has been acceptable. Well no longer. Just enough is not enough. It is unacceptable, and it is time that this community tells them that small or not, they deserve better than what is being currently offered. Members of rural communities are already burdened, often times, with a lack of resources and options. This shortage of availability opens them up to becoming victims of complacency and sub standard service. To insinuate that an individuals worth is directly correlated to the population size of the area is ludicrous. I am very much aware that this is a problem not unique to this one particular town. It is something that rural areas all over struggle with. But when do we draw the line between being grateful for services in less than desirable locations, and saying that location aside, there are expectations that need to be met by these professionals? Well I am saying it now. The people of Small Town X deserve better. Better than what they are being offered. Better than what many think they may deserve. They are entitled to the best care available, and to be offered anything short of that is unacceptable and completely unethical.

So where to go from here. Opening a forum in the community to educate and stand up and say we deserve better. The paper is used as such a forum. So this is just the beginning, this will grow. And I only hope that I will not stand alone when saying that the time has come. The time to act and be unafraid to say with conviction that just "enough" is not longer enough.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The car wash is not the tunnel of love

The car wash. Everyone has been to one. Some have described it as what it may sound like inside a maraca, others a time saver, some a way of going green. But what is it really? A tunnel of water, and don't ever forget it. It has been awhile since my last trip through the car wash. I went this weekend and at first was filled with anxiousness and a slight hesitation. Why on earth would that be? Let me tell you, my last trip through went a little like this...

I had my wonderful old car named Abe. It was 25 years old, solid steel and as big as a boat (it had the turning radius of one as well). I named it Abe because due to its age, long trips were not in his future. He was a purely A to B car, thus Abe was born. One Saturday morning I decided I was going to be extra productive. I had a list of errands to run, and planned out the trip in a large circle, as to end at home and not waste time or fuel. The errands were ran without a hitch. The final two being a hair trim and the car wash. I went to a hair school, being the poor college student I was, and the young girl was ecstatic. She loved curly hair and asked to style it. Style it she did, I looked ready to accept a country music award it was so big. Almost six inches high, I left planning on taming it at home. One last stop, the car wash. I cleaned and vacuumed and readied my change. I went in and sat as the car got covered in soap and the power sprayer came to life. As soon as the sprayer hit the driver's window it happened, water pouring into the car. With a newly empty car, there was nothing to keep the water at bay. My mind jumped into action, was the window open a crack...nope. Perhaps the door was not shut tight enough. Before the next attack I seized what I thought was the window of opportunity. With the spray behind me, I flung open the door to slam it shut only to realize there was also an undercarriage cleaning going on. With a very clean left side of my body I slammed the door and awaited my fate. The final spray came towards me but alas, the water was not kept from assaulting me one last time. Dejected and soaked I exited this tunnel of hydro-horror and defeat to come home to an apartment full of girls there to witness my now jekyll and hyde appearance. My right half, still tall and proud, a mess of curls, and my left, resembling a drown rat waiting to be hung on the clothing line. Needless to say, no matter what car, how firm the seal on the door or how determined the weather stripping, there will always be a sham wow stashed somewhere in arms reach.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to save a life

When I began this blog, I created it with the intention of writing predominately of the funny, out of sort, whacky kind of moments that I imagined made up small town life. Although some have been exactly that, many have been born of trial or difficulty and have presented an opportunity to share introspection and growth. This is also one such post. Perhaps during my time in Small Town X, I am supposed to learn more about life, love and loss. About the depth of human nature, and the strength that can only be found in times of hardship. Last week a man I worked with in my former life died unexpectedly. He was a good man, and had touched many lives, mine included. I had a weekend full of tender mercies. For those who may not have heard this term before, tender mercies include those experiences or opportunities that were given to me not by chance or circumstance, but rather a gift from a source far greater than myself. I had left my new small town home to visit what now qualifies as the "big city". I was in for a conference, but two miraculous events took place during my stay. My godson was born the morning after I arrived, and the funeral/memorial service for this man was the morning before I left. This weekend I literally experienced life come full circle. Just as one had left this mortal existence, another entered. But what I wanted to share came from the lesson I learned at the memorial.

This was one of the most touching services I have ever attended. It was filled with co-workers, family, friends and many that were all of those combined. This man's life had been anything but easy. Upon first meeting him, he appeared to many as frightening or at the least intimidating. He was tall in stature, with tattoos covering much of his skin. But what was emphasized continuously by all that shared their love for this man, was that more than being tall in stature, he was great in character. To the stranger he may have appeared quiet or reserved. But within that unassuming exterior came wisdom and love that extended to all he came across. There were no requirements to earn this man's affection, he freely offered up all he had to those around him. To a woman struggling with an abusive partner, he expressed respect and love. He offered quiet reminders of her worth and substance. He strengthened and lifted her. To a man literally drowning in a turbulent sea, he without hesitation risked personal safety to save him. The amazing part is that by being who he was he saved many of us. Perhaps not by swimming and pulling us out of treacherous waters, but by being compassionate, kind, earnestly listening and being a constant beacon of the good all humanity has to offer. There is no doubt that he knew what was required to save lives, he did it every moment he lived. And now those lessons and his example live on in each one of us. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. This could not have been made more evident than by a poem written by of his co-workers and friends:

Don't think of him as gone away

His journey's just begun

Life holds so many facets

This earth is only one

Just think of him as resting

From the sorrows and the tears

In a place of warmth and comfort

Where there are no days and years

Think how he must be wishing

That we could know today

How nothing but our sadness

Can really pass away

And think of him as living

In the hearts of those he touched

For nothing loved is ever lost

And he was loved so much


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Perception is Everything

Things are not always as they seem. However, on an almost daily basis we make snap judgments. We evaluate situations and make rash decisions based on little information. This is a necessity, but so often we are incorrect in our assumptions. This little example offers a humorous story to illustrate this conundrum. We have a volunteer at my work that comes in on a regular basis. He is one of the culprits of the previously blogged about pranks. He enjoys finding funny, unusual hats and apparel and models them while working. This particular day he had discovered a princess Cinderella tiara which he wore with pride while assisting customers. An older woman came back asking for assistance with some beds. As he offered his services she asked each of four women in the office if we had dressed him this morning, to which we replied, no mam. He gladly helped her and after finishing came back laughing hysterically. When I inquired into what was so funny, he told me that he had just been asked the most hilarious question. As the older woman walked away she asked him, "So what does he look like?" Confused he asked her to repeat the question. "So what does he look like?" As understanding came to the surface, he blushed and responded, "Actually I am married to a beautiful young woman." Slightly stunned and staring at the tiara she politely walked away.

This got me thinking about how often we make rash judgments in our daily lives. We are given small amounts of information, experience or knowledge and from that draw our own conclusions. How can this be changed? Here is my best guess, and I say guess because that is the most I can offer. Perhaps rather than comparing ourselves to others in the way we interact and treat those around us, we can continually strive to be better versions of ourselves. Cut out the judgment altogether. This quote states it far better than I can, "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." Although this was a funny story that brought laughs and giggles throughout the day, it was a lesson for me. A lesson about what kinds of conclusions I draw about the people around me, and how inaccurate they can be. I will fail and fail again, but I think the key will be to never stop trying.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Think John Steinbeck is Right

Whatever does not kill us only makes us stronger. After a week like this, I sometimes fight over whether this is true or not. Without getting too much into the un-necessary details, lets just say if it could go wrong, it did. It seemed to climax in horribleness on Tuesday. I was closing that night and was just wishing that the terrible day would end. I honestly thought the one thing that jinxes it every time, "this day could not possibly get any worse". Oh but I did not see this coming. I made the normal announcement at work to let customers know that we would be closing in five minutes. I see one of our regular customers on the monitor up front looking very angry (which is normal as this woman is the most consistently angry person I have ever come across). As I went up she left and the cashier then told me how she was yelling about how annoying my announcement was and that she wanted to cut open my throat herself and yank out my voice box. There were some other visuals in this tantrum, but you get the point. I could not believe it. I had not provoked this woman, singled her out, been anything but courteous and yet she was threatening me over the sound of my voice. That was the last straw. I left the floor, went to the back to "lock up", but just lost it. I hate crying in public so the back was the best I could do. What had I done to this woman? Why was she so cruel? And what would I do when I see her again? I slept very little that night dwelling on this event.

As I became more and more frustrated on why she chose me for her target, I read a quote from John Steinbeck. He said, "A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ." I am not sure why this struck me the way it did, but it got me thinking about what this woman's life must be like to make her behave in such a way. I just cannot accept that some people are born cruel and genuinely unkind. But rather that situations in their lives have warranted developing such a negative defense mechanism. I wish I knew why she behaved the way she had, or what I could have done differently as to have evaded the whole experience. But the sentence haunted me. To have a sad soul, what a heavy burden that must be to bear. Hope is powerful. Resilience coupled with that hope can overcome any obstacle, but to lack both would be the definition of tragedy. After going over every dramatic, mean one liner I could think of to say to this woman should I run into her (and in this small a community it is inevitable) I realized the person I was truly hurting was myself. I had allowed her negativity to get the better of me. And the sadness that had entered my soul was killing me far more quickly than being sick ever could. Then I went back and read one of my favorite lines ever written. "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." ~Ben Okri As much as I felt angry for what this woman said, perhaps she has far more suffering and sadness than I can understand. Although I am definitely a work in progress, I hope that when I see her again, I can approach her with kindness and compassion. Perhaps the world would be a far kinder place if we aided in not only the healing of our physical ailments, but helping heal our souls as well.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Change: the only constant

Songs have been sung, poems written, words spoken and lives altered. All surrounding this one concept, change. It amazes me that such a seemingly insignificant and simple word can literally have the capacity to bring such a mixture of competing and opposing emotions. When things are going well and life seems nearly perfect, change can come and be the ultimate force of evil. And when life has gone astray and you have lost true north, change can be the saving grace. And yet no matter how much we talk about it, are altered by it, we are somewhat powerless against it. So why this random rambling on the subject? Perhaps the last few weeks have given me a chance to reflect on the past few months.

I can hardly believe it has been five months last Tuesday that I moved to Small Town X. When I left a place I loved, a job that brought me happiness and friends that filled me with joy for this unknown yet necessary journey, I really had no idea what to expect. I guess I hoped that this was going to be a life changing and miraculous experience. Although it has taught me a great deal, I find myself longing for a past I cannot recapture. I feel stagnant. Which as I looked up the official definition seemed to describe how I now feel my life is going: characterized by lack of development, advancement, or progressive movement. Why when so much change has occurred am I filled with the feeling of a lack of movement? As far as facing fear, I have overcome one of my worst, being in an unknown place alone. I have begun again, lived alone, started literally from scratch, but feel unfulfilled. It is fascinating to me that if I knew that my time here was certainly coming to a close, I would be experiencing things with a totally different perspective. But that perspective seems to be clouded by the realization that the change I really seek may not be coming in the near future. It is a funk, a small town, reminiscent funk. Oh change, who I once loathed so, how I wish you would re-visit this small town and take another chance with me. I guess now only time will tell what the next step will be. And as I know that life is what you make it, rather than what it gives you, I hope this is cathartic posting will be the first step into a better tomorrow. One that I will begin to create myself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rules of Train Etiquette

I am taking this opportunity while life in Small Town X is slow, to share a story of the past. One that has been requested, and highlights one of my few moments that qualify as evil genius. As the luggage carousel post has shared, I have terrible luck when traveling. Now the irony of this fact lies in the suspension of trouble when traveling with others. If in a group, trouble remains at bay. But get me alone and it rears its ugly head. I have tried many forms of transportation. Plane, car, greyhound, and last but not least the train. I discovered that this form of transportation did not become extinct with the industrial revolution, but is alive and well. So one fall semester I gave Amtrack a try. The first trip was long, late but ultimately uneventful. The second was anything but, especially after we hit a truck trying to beat the train and were de-railed. Alas on my last venture with the train I found that although I may not be confrontational, my passive aggressive side wins in the end. Now when riding the train, there are a few unwritten rules everyone should be aware of.

1. The train is set up like a plane (two seats and aisle and then two seats) Everyone would like their own pair to relax on the invariably long journey ahead of them.

2. Once you have secured 2 seats, when stopping at stations, pretend to be asleep. Someone is more likely to ask a conscious person to share seats than an unconscious one.

3. Whoever has been on the train longest has seniority.

4. There is always drama between passengers when in small enclosed spaces for extended periods of time.

5. Strange people ride the train.

Now that the basics have been covered, here is what unfolded this fateful trip. I boarded the train in Denver, CO headed to Utah. It was fairly empty, I put my ticket up above the seats and gladly went to sleep. About 6 hours into the trip we stopped at a station where I promptly "fell back asleep" and waited to depart. I heard the woman behind me get asked if she would mind having another woman sit next to her. Score! I kept my seats and space in tact. Now there is not much to do on trips as long as these, so eavesdropping is always on the agenda at some point. What I learned was the woman who had just gotten on the train was vegan (she also went extensively into the differences between vegan and vegetarian), her boyfriend was a biker who shanked someone while in prison, and quickly found out that this passenger resented me for being able to stretch out and sleep. I would like to take a second to point out that I was NOT the only one with this luxury, there were quite a few of us. However, she began to make obnoxiously rude comments about wanting me to get off the train so she could take my seat.

Hour after hour I listened to these comments getting more and more angry at this total stranger. Unfortunately, I am not good at confrontation, and thought even if I freak out and tell her off, what then? I am in a train car without escape with a woman who could have learned how to kill me from her inmate boyfriend. So needless to say, by the 14th hour of this nonsense, at 1:30am I was at a breaking point. About 45 minutes away from my destination, I look over at my water bottle, which had once been frozen but now sat warm and undrinkable, and got a scathingly brilliant idea. When on the train, passengers tend to gravitate to the window seat and stretch out toward the aisle. I thought, if I pour all 24 ounces of this water on the seat, then when she takes it she will be soaked. And the best part was then she would wonder about how she had not seen me leave my seat in 12 hours (for fear she would move my things and take it) and think maybe this girl peed in the seat! It was pure malevolence and I loved it! Then my conscience kicked in and I felt some guilt over leaving her in wet pants all night. So I made a deal with myself. If she could make it the last 30 minutes without the rude comments, I would not do it. Not 10 minutes went by when she could not help herself, and frankly neither could I. As the five minute warning approached, I silently and discreetly moved to the aisle seat and poured 24 ounces of warm water onto the window seat. It was dark fabric so after a gentle pat down, one could not tell it was soaked. However, the slightest amount of pressure would puddle the seat. I sat with unadulterated satisfaction and pure joy over this passive aggressive moment of triumph. I went over the hours of snide remarks and pictured the hours of wet pants as payment. I got up and went down feeling victorious in my renegade justice. Reality hit when the train came to a stop, but there was no station. I was told by the conductor that the track had a break and we were a mile from the station. In an instant victory transformed into terror over the thought of this woman coming after me once she discovered my trap. I begged and pleaded to be let off the train, in fact I asked to walk the last mile. Alas, he would not allow it. Thankfully lady luck finally smiled on me. The path up to the passenger area was completely blocked off by other students trying to get off at this stop. The break was right after the station, and I left the platform feeling absolute freedom. I never saw this woman, and would not know her if our paths were ever to cross again. But should this ever reach her I would offer one final word of advice. Train etiquette is alive and well, and the consequences damp, so next trip keep your comments to yourself.