Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Contents of a Woman's Purse...

They say (someone, I'm not sure who) that you can tell a lot about a girl from the contents of her purse. Perhaps this is true. I also think the purse itself says something about the girl. Some girls like purses that are about the size of duffel bags and covered in "cuteness" of various colors and degrees of glitz. I am not one of those girls...I fear that I would develop severe back pain carrying my entire desk, bathroom, and refrigerator contents around with me wherever I went. No, my purse is small and brown. Why brown? I only have one purse (shocking, I know), and brown matches everything. My purse before that was black. I don't know if the contents of my purse say much about me, but I was cleaning it out today, a tri-monthly ritual, and figured I would list for you all what I found. You can make your own judgment.

A half-empty package of Kleenex. I have been sick for almost two weeks, and have produced more snot than six two-year-olds combined.

A voucher for free car repairs from a Japanese car shop in Provo. I paid thirty dollars for it, mostly because the salesman looked really tired and discouraged. I've never used it, because I don't know anything about the integrity or quality of the work there.

4 Packages of Emergen-C Super Energy Booster. Which is basically 1,000mg of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Calcium, Zinc, and various other minerals that they have flavored to taste like a tropical island. The health-nut's caffeine.

One box of melted together, chocolate-dipped Altoids. They once were very tasty. They now resemble the kind of present your dog would leave you in the backyard.

A 3''x5'' copy of the Book of Mormon, in a handmade little case, courtesy of my mom. Keeps me company when I'm working a show I've already seen 17 times.

A checkbook with six checks left. The last entry in the register was for fast offerings in October of '05. That does not mean I haven't written checks since then.

A bottle of Ibuprofen. I used to get a lot of headaches when I was out and never had any pain relievers. I bought some and now I don't get headaches. Best insurance investment I've ever made.

A black 2 gig flash drive that contains pictures of my elementary school kids from two summers ago, and sound effects and music files from the last four shows I've designed. Also, there is a talk that I wrote for church last summer about the value of education.

A fold-up circular brush that resembles the radios disguised as powder puff cases that girls use in action movies to rendezvous with their secret cohorts.

A spare key to my car, which I want to never have to use (again). This is mainly because my car alarm is locked on, and if I open the car manually, before unlocking it with my key fob, the alarm goes off and continues to go off for hours.

Three pens. A tiny purple one, a medium sized silver one, and large black one. And I still dig through my purse on a regular basis, unable to find something to write with.

A laser power pointer. Lots of fun to play with in large lecture classes.

Dental floss. The most useful thing I own. I don't floss, but it works WAY better than toothpicks to remove stubborn pieces of apple or beef from crevices where they've taken up residence.

Four buttons from three different sweaters.

Half a package of cough drops. I've been devouring them like candy lately. Also, the more I eat, the happier and loopier I seem to get.

A tiny crochet hook from a hair highlighting kit. I have no idea why or how it made it into my purse.

A key chain made out of a rock found and polished by my Aunt Dianne in Oregon.

A pair of fingernail clippers with a mini savings card for the local grocery store attached through a key ring.

Two more buttons from another sweater and a pair of pants. Yes, I still own and wear all the sweaters, buttonless as they are. The pants went to DI.

About here, I would normally run into the large crescent wrench I used to keep in the bottom of my purse. Unfortunately that once earned me three armed escorts, an accusation of terrorism, and an extremely long delay at an airport. The wrench has been removed.

A driver's license and a debit card. The driver's license picture has me ate age sixteen wearing the required school uniform from high school. The debit card is on the "found" part of its cycle, as I continually lose it and find it again. And right now it actually has some money on it.

A temple recommend, set to expire in December, listing the name of a bishopric member whose name I didn't even know when I got it.

A voter identification card (I'm voting for McCain), a laminated card with the phone numbers of every coworker and theatre department faculty, staff, and custodian, as well as radio numbers for each of the four theatres I work in, a movie rental card from the BYU bookstore, a Wells Fargo telephone card, punch cards from Pioneer book and Cafe Rio, another laminated card with numbers for each of the stage managers at BYU, a Verizon Wireless card that gives the number of a representative named Eric Palmatier (I think he sold me my last phone, speaking of which, I have a great story--ask me sometime), a health insurance card which once saved me over a thousand dollars in the emergency room, a social security card (the contents of which I shall not say so openly), an expired Harkins movie card, a useless driver's permit (also a good story), two library cards--a boring yellow one for my home library, and a cool silver one with a reading dragon on it for the Provo library, a credit card with a $6500 credit line and a 0 balance (proud of that), a card with a picture of Jesus, a Staples reward card with the name of Kevin Farnsworth on it from when I was in Student Council in high school, a Red Cross blood donor card that says I'm A+ and have donated three times (hasn't been updated in a while), and a Target gift card with 37cents on it.

Oh, and in a completely different pocket from the above, my BYU ID. You can tell I don't suffer from OCD in any way.

And in that same pocket, 16 free ice cream vouchers, only three of which are expired, as well as a movie theatre gift certificate, and two free bowling passes for Fat Cats Bowling.

Oh, and two more movie passes. I should go.

Ticket stubs from the Homecoming Spectacular, the play James and the Giant Peach (in sign language), Transformers (which I saw with my roommate and we snuck warm, homemade brownies into the theatre and had everyone drooling fifteen minutes in), a Passover Seder Service (authentic and very cool) that I went to last Passover, and National Treasure 2--the first date I had with my first boyfriend last January.

Two one-dollar bills jammed in amongst hundreds of receipts for everything from car repairs to grocery stores to bookstores.

A piece of blank paper.

A love note from a roommate.

A reminder of a breakup.

And a handful of change.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Those really long, daunting posts are always going to be essayistic type things. The shorter ones will concern my current life. So feel free to skip the long mental musings. I promise to post exciting stuff too. :)

Re-evaluating the "Facts"

When I was in the eighth grade, my science class went to visit the Coco-Cola factory in Arizona. Looking back, I cannot figure out what we must have been studying that would have warranted such a trip, and to this day, I only remember two things from it. One was that the actual reason they put caffeine in soda pop was so that people would get addicted and buy more. I remember thinking it strange that they would admit such a thing, and it felt almost criminal that the manager stated it so matter-of-factly, with no hint of remorse. The other thing I remember from the trip was the tour guide telling us that Coco-Cola used to be green.

Nearly eight years later, neither of these facts has impacted my life in any way. I do not drink caffeine, due to the headaches it causes, and while mildly revolting, the fact that Coco-Cola used to be green has never affected my view of soda pop, tour guides, or the color in general. And yet, the fact remains, a seemingly permanent resident in a brain that is completely unaffected by its presence. And it is not alone. Over the years, I have amassed a large fortune of completely useless information. I do not wish to get into the controversy of the age-old whine, “When will I ever use this?” that becomes the soundtrack of high school. I will therefore avoid organized education and stick to the facts that I have collected from remembered and unremembered wanderings through the texts and conversations of everyday life.

There is, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a tremendous concourse of statues, a few of which depict men on horseback, frozen forever in the moment of battle. The statues have plaques down near the earth, most of them rendering a single name. I recognized a couple as I wandered through the battlegrounds several years ago, but most were unknown and as common as the men who once answered to them. There, wandering through the statues, I was introduced to a fact about the construction of the statues. Apparently, they were not frozen in the moment of battle, but in the manner of death. The horses with two front legs rearing in the air carried a soldier who died in the Battle of Gettysburg. The horses with one leg in the air held men who were wounded in battle, and later died from those wounds. If all four legs were on the ground, the rider had made it through the fight unharmed.

I thought this fact intriguing, and at the time, filed it away for some unknown future use. Writing this essay, four years later, is the first time I have ever recalled or used it. For some pieces of information, this is the way it is. I am sure I have things stored in my head that I don’t even realize are there until they are recalled by a sudden connection or a card drawn in a game of “Outburst.” Other thoughts swim through my consciousness, making laps that bring them again and again to my thoughts.

One of these is the “Death of the Leftie fact,” as I call it. I remember my astonishment and delight when I first heard that right-handed people lived an average of nine years longer than left-handed people. (And the delight had nothing to do with me being right-handed because, in fact, I am not. My own hand orientation is ambiguous, and often referred to as “ambidextrous.”) This is one of those facts that does not hide in hibernation, but surfaces quite frequently, usually when I meet a left-handed individual and proceed to evaluate their seemingly normal physical health. I long wondered why these people were fated for an early death. Was it some brain defect that caused the left-handedness in the first place? Was the trait a result of a long-buried genetic flaw? The only explanation that really made sense to me was that the world was made for right-handed people, including equipment, appliances, and services, and perhaps there were a large number of accident-related deaths from lefties trying to use technologies that were simply not made for them.

Eventually, I needed to set the question to rest, and so I did what any 21st century college student would do—I Googled it. There, bold and strong and affirming my brilliance at coming to the correct conclusion were the words, “2,500 left-handers die each year using products designed for right-handers.” Another website reported that a large majority of left-handers try to switch hand preference at some point in their lives. I can only imagine the awkwardness of this, which might make something as seemingly harmless as a pair of scissors into a sudden tool of bodily harm.

Unfortunately, not all of my bits of trivia are so easily proven, and, indeed, sometimes I find that science presumptuously insists on un-proving them. One of my long-time favorite facts is: “The average person swallows seven spiders in their sleep over their lifetime.”

At least, that is what I learned, years ago. However, today, as I was browsing collections of pointless information online, I ran across it again. Only this time, it said that the average person swallows eight spiders. Was the change in statistics due to an increase in the spider population? Do more people today have allergies, and thus are forced to sleep with their mouths open? I suppose there are countless possibilities for why the fact reads differently today, and yet, something tells me that it is simply due to the unreliability of statistics, and that if I wasted a few more moments of my life surfing the Web, I could find the same statistic claiming that the number was 19, 4, or 57. In addition, (being fair to science), I am also aware that anthropoids flee from breath, recognizing it as a threat, therefore making it awfully unlikely that such a large number of them actually meet their demise in this fashion. Why, then, is it so easy to believe those delicious bits of information we are fed from unreliable sources, sifted through eighty-nine different mouths and ears before being passed on to ours?

I would guess that it has something to do with humans’ delight at the uncanny and unexpected. The thought of swallowing spiders in one’s sleep is almost as delectable as reading in a science journal that people’s hair continues to grow for a couple of months after death. And something as obviously fiction as Monster from the Black Lagoon would never be able to compare with a movie about people’s stomachs digesting themselves in mass numbers when biological warfare creates a drug that prevents the stomach from producing that needed layer of mucus every two weeks. (In the unlikely event that such a movie were ever created.) Thus, the saying: “Fact is stranger than fiction.”

And yet, as with the spider statistic, sometimes fact and fiction have an ambiguous relationship. I remember hearing in some motivational talk once, that children laugh approximately 400 times a day, while adults only laugh about 15. I think the point of the talk was to encourage us all to look at the positive in life and laugh a little more. But if I laughed 400 times a day, I would be laughing every 3.6 minutes. After a few days of being purely obnoxious, I fear that, rather than appreciating my happy outlook on life, people would begin to doubt my sanity, and my happy, positive life might be lived from inside four padded walls. And while it seems that children are indeed generally happier than adults, most kids I know give equal, if not greater, attention to various explosions of crying, yelling, and whining, as they do to laughing.

And yet, despite the inconsistencies, the exaggerations, and the straight-out falsehoods that mingle with the random facts in my brain, I find that since most of them serve the purpose only of my own enjoyment, sometimes in the moment of learning, sometimes later as they pop up unexpectedly, I do not usually mind a little fiction mixed with the fact. After all, fiction can only be drawn from fact in the first place, since it is all that we know, and the best and most interesting “facts” of all, those that make me smile at the quirks and complexities of life, often walk the fuzzy line between two kinds of truth—fact and imagination.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Rambling Introduction

Well, this is it. The long awaited, possibly prayed-for blog now exists. People have been asking me, telling me, and threatening me to set this thing up for three years now. I felt it necessary to wait until I actually knew I would make use of it. Due to my recent fascination, nay, obsession, with writing down long passages of quotidian quixoticisms and mental meanderings on the infamous phenomenon, "Facebook," I decided that the time for blogging has come. (Although, I may have to shut it down again if I continue to invent sentences like that one.) Anyway, I guess the purpose of it all is to give, for what it's worth, the joys of "Friday" that I continue to find in even the "Mondays" of life.