Friday, February 27, 2009


I will ingrain this in myself:

"What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one....Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning...As Benjamin Franklin said, 'Those things that hurt, instruct.' It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems." Most of us are not so wise. Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away. We ignore them, forget them, pretend they do not exist. We even take drugs to assist us in ignoring them, so that by deadening ourselves to the pain we can forget the problems that cause the pain....

"This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health. Some of us will go to quite extraordinary lengths to avoid our problems and the suffering they cause, proceeding far afield from all that is clearly good and sensible in order to try to find an easy way out, building the most elaborate fantasies in which to live, sometimes to the total exclusion of reality. In the succinctly elegant words of Carl Jung, 'Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.'

"But the substitute itself ultimately becomes more painful than the legitimate suffering it was designed to avoid....And without healing, the human spirit begins to shrivel.

"Therefore let us inculcate in ourselves and in our children the means of achieving mental and spiritual health. By this I mean let us teach ourselves and our children the necessity for suffering and the value thereof, the need to face problems directly and to experience the pain involved. I have stated that discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life's problems. It will be come clear that these tools are techniques of suffering, means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process. When we teach ourselves and our children discipline, we are teaching them and ourselves how to suffer and also how to grow."

-The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D.

And life will go on...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Greg Spalenka

Have you ever had those days where you cannot get all of the thoughts out that you've needed to? You live your day and think of a million happenings and elations and sad things to tell people, but you cannot get it out there for one reason or another (i.e. you're not able to construct it into words, the other person's on a time crunch or uninterested, etc.)? Well, I'm not only having a day like that. I'm having an entire week like that and it is such a strange, frustrating, lonely feeling. Nobody knows what is going on. I'm alone.

Today was sunny at least.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Victoria and I had a dance party in my room tonight with Flo Rida. Don't judge us. This is how we maintain our sanity this time of year in this part of the country...
...without sunlight and green...

...and without our best friends...

The End

Friday, February 20, 2009

Memory Snapshots: "I remember..."

My mom’s boney fingers rubbing against my legs as she pulled white panty hose up past my belly button. My legs still sticky from lotion.

Looking out the window of my 30ft tall tree house at the hummingbirds that hovered over the vines, singing made up songs about them.

Sitting at the top of the stairs Christmas morning, waiting for my brother Justin—who was old enough to know the truth about Santa Clause—to finish his shower before we could open presents.

Having a picnic at the beach with crème soda, grapes, Ruffles and Ranch dip, and crème cheese sandwiches on homemade rolls. Sitting under our red and white striped umbrella, my body doused in sunscreen. The sand caking in the creases of my sweaty limbs and between my toes. Then standing barefoot on the asphalt, rubbing myself off with a towel before I could climb into our Toyota minivan.

My mom making Lipton soup for me, with Acini Di Pepe pasta, after my suffering a long night with the stomach flu.

Opening a faded, plastic turtle-shaped bin larger than my entire body, to find my brother’s Lego’s, robots, and G.I. Joe men. The smell of hot plastic and machinery.

Sitting at the edge of Nathan’s waterbed in Oceanside, CA, watching him play Donkey Kong until 3 in the morning, because he was so close to beating the game.

Sitting on the floor of Justin’s room, holding one of my ears to the side of his bed and the other to the palm of my hand, crying. Mom and pop yelling at each other downstairs.

Shaving my face with a plastic Lion King shaving kit in Stephanie Moore’s bathroom, eating Gushers between strokes.

Riding on the back of Justin’s motorcycle for my 15th birthday, my eyes burning, but thinking I was so cool.

Justin holding me by my armpits in the swimming pool, my diaper on, telling me to “kick, kick, kick.”

My mom holding my face in both of her hands, kissing every inch of it.

Falling asleep on our large sectional couch late at night, under a crocheted multi-colored blanket, with my head on mom’s lap. My parents watching a segment on the news about a serial killer loose in the Orange County area.

Carrying my purple preschool bucket to school, decorated with squirt-painted hearts, pink polka dots and my name in huge bubble letters on one side.

Sitting at the edge of a dock, with my feet dipped into the lake water behind my grandma and grandpa’s villa in West Palm Beach, FL. On a good day, I’d see alligator scales breeching the water.

Saying the F-word for the first time; blood rushing to my face.

Playing house, alone in the woods, down the street from our house in Pt. St. Lucie, FL. There was a small clearing where I’d found a blanket, an old plaid shirt, and a pile of wood to sit on.

Watching Scream and VH1 with LDS missionaries in Florida.

Sitting in a brown, silted Texas creek, using a bright yellow floating raft as a table for Marie Callendar’s takeout.

What makes me cry?
When someone I deeply admire criticizes or insults me

Monday, February 9, 2009



1. Where is your cell phone? here
2. Your significant other? Jordan
3. Your hair? up
4. Your favorite thing? art
5. Your dream last night? eerie
6. Your favorite drink? water
7. Your dream/goal? happiness
8. What room you are in? mine
9. Your hobby? procrastination
10. Your fear? failure
11. Where do you want to be in 6 years? family
12. Where were you last night? apartment
13. Muffins? bran
14. Wish list item? Jordan
15. Where you grew up? Rexburg
16. Last thing you did? valentine
17. What are you wearing? clothes
18. Your TV? off
19. Your pets? home
20. Friends? away
21. Your life? stressful
22. Your mood? exhausted
23. Missing someone? someones
24. Car? nope
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Your favorite store? Target
28. When is the last time you laughed? today
29. Last time you cried? yesterday

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Love Reading

I just started reading this book called Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard, who I think is probably a genius. Here are some quotes that I love already, from the mere 6 pages I've read:

"In the Koran, Allah asks, "The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?" It's a good question. What do we think of the created universe, spanning an unthinkable void of nothingness, those sickening reaches of time in either direction? If the giant water bug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest? Pascal uses a nice term to describe the notion of the creator's, once having called forth the universe, turning his back to it: Dues Absconditus. Is this what we think happened? Was the sense of it there, and God absconded with it, ate it, like a wolf who disappears round the edge of the house with the Thanksgiving turkey? "God is subtle," Einstein said, "but not malicious." Again, Einstein said that "nature conceals her mystery by means of her essential grandeur, not by her cunning." It could be that God has not absconded, but spread, to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, so powerful in a new way, that we can only feel blindly of its hem. In making the thick darkness a swaddling band for the sea, God "set bars and doors" and said, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further." But have we come even that far? Have we rowed out to the thick darkness, or are we all playing pinochle in the bottom of the boat?"

"Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them."

"We're played on like a pipe; our breath is not our own."

"Nature is like one of those line drawings of a tree that are puzzles for children: Can you find hidden in the leaves a duck, a house, a boy, and bucket, a zebra, and a boot?"

I have more.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I Can’t Write When I Can’t Write

Worry. We all do it. I am worry personified. I worry when I have merely one slice of bread in the pantry and a yogurt cup. I worry when my checking account gets down to the double digits. I worry when due dates for different classes converge. I worry about not living up to my potential. I worry when a family member is ill, when a good friend moves away, when the stock market plummets, or when I’m to speak in front of a class. I wouldn’t say that I’m a hypochondriac. I think a lot of people worry about these same things. What matters the most is if we let these worries inhibit our possibilities. Sometimes, when I write, I allow worry to creep in.

Just last night I sat down to write a creative story for my English 418R class. I tried desperately to think of topics, but I fought to control the worrisome thoughts that slunk in. I am just not good at coming up with things to write about. If someone would just suggest a topic, I’d be able to write pages and pages. Then I’d suggest a topic to myself. What about an afternoon on a ship with pirates? If I write about that, I’d have to do more research on pirates and wooden legs and eye patches. I should write about something I know. I tried to think of life experiences I’ve had that could potentially be exciting with a little embellishment. Nothing. Maybe coming up with a topic is just not my strong suit. I know, through experience, that once I’ve told myself I can’t do something, I definitely can’t. The worry that I could not come up with a topic to write about eclipsed any kind of brainstorming that could have happened in the mean time. This set me back a few hours.

Typically, when an artist creates a work of art, they preface with thumbnail drawings or outline their image on the canvas before they begin painting. It’s very common for artists to plan the images they wish to portray. They lay the groundwork for something magnificent and beautiful. When planned, a piece of art is well executed and the message is clear. I believe this is the same for good writing. Once a topic is chosen (hallelujah), an author should create an outline to follow to keep ideas organized and flowing. Most of the time, I am so worried about simply getting the paper done and over with, that I do not take the time to create such outlines and take part in such planning. This will usually cause me to lose train of thought in the middle of a paper and veer into irrelevant subjects. There is a sense of irony here, because I tend to want my first draft to be my final draft; I want to write my pieces perfectly the first time, without revision. Though this is impossible in and of itself, without a successful outline, there is absolutely no way a perfect paper will just happen. I need to stop worrying about time, and plan.

When I finally do have a topic, along with an idea of where I’d like my paper to go, I try to be as honest with the reader as possible—this is a process and something I continue to aspire to. One challenge I’ve faced when striving to be honest is overcoming the worry of offending others—my mother, sibling, a friend, possibly even my own self. I tried to write a paper once about my childhood, but I knew that if I would go into any more detail or be any more honest about my feelings, it would break my mother’s heart. I read a novel once by Chiam Potok called My Name is Asher Lev. It is about a Hasidic Jew who loves art, but is looked down upon by his Jewish community because of the liberalism required in producing good work. His main support throughout the entire novel is his mother. However, there comes a time when Asher is too honest with his audience and his mother is hurt. Sometimes as a writer, I struggle with balance between caution and honesty. An honest moment in my piece may convey a point perfectly, but do I want to risk hurting someone? Not usually. Along these same lines, as a Latter-day Saint, I feel obligated to keep my writing happy and cheerful, which I believe is dishonest. Again, my question: caution or honesty?

To some extent, perhaps worrying is a good thing. It can make us pay closer attention to our motives or desires. It can show others that we actually care enough to worry in the first place. It can prevent terrible things from happening or it can force us to prepare for terrible things. Sometimes, however, I think worrying can get in the way. Writing with worrisome thoughts is one such incident; and of this, I am a subject.