Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh dear...

My how the time flies.

Quick recap.

I got married on May 14th, 2011. It was fabulous.

Now it is almost the end of summer.

It's been great, lots of time visiting family, and pretending to work. We bought a Wii, lived in my Grandma's house, and then moved back on to campus just last week. It's a lot smaller space, but it's so much closer that it had to be done.

In the near future:
Helping teach a "planet earth" field course for some honors students week before school starts.
School starts. (very mixed emotions- my last year of undergraduate...)
Taking the GRE. Yikes?
Applying to UCSB for graduate school.

I can't even add any other pictures to this post for what I've been up to, because I haven't uploaded camera pictures in ages. Woops. Someday maybe I will have time to blog.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Goodbye, summertime....
Hello, fall....
Please don't come yet, winter!!!
 Well, except the part of winter that means this:
and this:
1 Month and 22 Days!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who's listening to you?

The lyrics below are from the song "Children Will Listen" from the broadway show Into the Woods. I love this musical. And I love this song. Sondheim is a genius, and you can tell from the lyrics and music from his shows! I just finished listening to the soundtrack, and just thought I'd share my two cents worth on this closing idea about fairytales and how to raise a child and all the other themes presented in the show. Children DO listen. So what are you telling the kids in your life? Just some food for thought.

Children Will Listen
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen

Careful the wish you make 
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

Here I am, now starting my 3rd year in college. Where did summer go? May and June got lost in constant rainy cloudyness and trying to get in hours at my work. I celebrated my xth birthday, went through y number of boyfriends (who's counting, right?) and tried to not lose my sanity in many lonely hours home alone at McSketch.
July flew by in a myriad of trips. I started by driving to Tucson and back for the 4th with Megan, then a family reunion up at Bear Lake right on its heels, followed by a week of theater with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law in Southern Utah. Needless to say, I was happy to have any reason to get out of the house, and was glad to get a little travel bug out of my system.
August was infinitely too short. The sun came out, the fun started happening, while work started really getting busy (16-hour work day--good thing it was a day out sampling the Great Salt Lake, and this is really what I love doing, no matter how much I complain about it at times). I also started dating a boy named Matt.

I had the craziest first week of school--starting with the day I moved out of McSketch. It was a smooth move, and I was just so happy to be leaving that hole. As a parting gift, I found (no joke) the biggest spider I ever encountered in my time there under one of my purses as I was packing up. I was so relieved to be moved into Garden Court. Unfortunately we had no hot water, thanks to previous tenants who got the gas turned off. Luckily Megan is next door, so I borrowed her shower until Wednesday.

Sunday brought about a huge change in my plans. We had an area meeting for all LDS single adults, where they rearranged boundaries/organization for young single adults. I wasn't too concerned, and knew that this kind of change was coming. I was also prepared for some ward level boundary changes, but had been told that Garden Court would still be in the same ward as before. When I got to our Stake meeting, I learned that that was very much not so. Garden Court had been moved back into the ward it had been in when I lived here last summer, but then moved out of and into the ward I ended up staying in--even though I moved to Pineview and therefore technically back into this ward's jurisdiction. I was totally unprepared for this blow, and it hit me HARD. Little did I know at the time, stress of the impending school year+a missed birth control pill (normally not a problem)+hormones of 5 new girls in an apartment had combined to = Erin being jumped ahead to the end of her cycle 2 weeks early and was emotional even beyond normal levels. It literally broke my heart. Thankfully I had Matt there, and Megan who knew exactly (or at least very close to) what I felt and all of the reasons why this just wasn't right. Unfortunately, my contact dried out from crying, and I realized it was the last of my contacts for my right eye. Which would mean I'd be wearing glasses in the morning, and for every morning until I could get into an eye doctor and get contacts ordered. And with all of this hanging over my head, I took a dose of nyquil and headed to bed before the very first day of school.

Monday morning was cold, and skies that looked promising for sunshine quickly changed back into gray clouds, pouring out rain and even snow in the hills above campus. Halfway through my day, when it was almost time to go to my honors spanish class, I realized that I did not want to go to my honors spanish class. And, that if I dropped it, I could take a class at another time (water quality and pollution) that would fit better in my schedule, be fewer credits, is taught by a fellow limnology lab member, would take care of more credits so that graduating on time would be more feasible, etc. etc. I emailed my advisor and the teacher, to see if it would even be possible, and they said yes, so I excitedly told them I was going for it. I left campus for GC, and once I arrived home, logged on to make the changes only to realize that I had forgotten about a lab that was blocking the time for the water quality course. The only lab time that would work with my new schedule was on Friday--and was full. Frantically, I tried to email the teacher for the lab, to see if there was anything I could do, but anyone who had lived at Garden court knows that internet reception is hit and miss at best. I got the email sent, and then knew I would have to sit and wait, hoping that he would be able to sign me in, and that I could have the schedule I needed! I looked around at back-up choices only to learn that there was no real back-up choice. I felt frustrated, stressed out, tired/sick, not to mention hormonally emotional. I agreed to go to the ward FHE with Matt, only to feel worse in the cold, and even more sick because of uncooked roll dough in the form of poorly cooked scones. I had zero desire to socialize or participate in any of the activities, so I stubbornly stood there being cold and growing more and more unhappy and sick. Matt convinced me to go country swing dancing, even though I felt so miserable, and it possibly just made things worse--I danced with one boy the whole time, and I was the one who asked him to dance. I went over to Megan's to shower, and grew so nauseated that I threw up while still at her place. Completely worn out, and still no word back from my lab teacher, I went to bed Monday night praying that Tuesday would have something better in store for me.

Tuesday was uneventful, other than getting an email from my teacher Tuesday night saying that I could meet with him after class Wednesday to talk about switching labs, but that if it was full... so not very promising. Wednesday was day on the quad, and so as a member of the Country Swing Dancing presidency, I was there to help set-up at 8:30, then went to the 9:30 class where miraculously I checked online for an opening in the Friday lab and there was a spot! I quickly rearranged my schedule, got onto the website for the water quality class, and hustled my way through an assignment that was due in 10 minutes for the class. After the two morning classes, I went back out to the quad, missed an afternoon class while working out there, and helped lots of kids sign up for the club. Then I started working typing all the names up, but had to leave to go to a departmental seminar, and then to a dinner with the seminar speaker. It was three professors, one graduate student, and myself at the dinner with the speaker, and I was proud that I could hold my own in a much older, more educated crowd. After that I hurried over to Country Swing dancing, and then after a very long, tiring day, finally got to bed.

Thursday started out quite smoothly, until I got home from school, with a slight headache from wearing my glasses, and decided to take a nap. When I woke up, some of my roommates were arriving home and remarked on entering the living room how warm it was in our apartment. "Odd," I thought to myself, "I was just thinking how chilly it was in here..." Well needless to say I ended up in a delirious fever before very long, but luckily my roommates made some ramen for me, and my sweet boyfriend Matt sat with me and made sure I was tucked into my blankets and didn't keep kicking them off.

Friday I missed my morning class because I was still sick, but was feeling well enough to make it to my next 3 classes. I came home after school and was very very excited to leave for Midway to spend some time with Matt's family. He even brought me over a fancy mylar balloon that said "Get Well Soon!" as I was packing. :) So we drove to Midway, and just hung out because I started getting a little warm again so I didn't want to go hang out at Swiss days.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday were amazing days. I still wasn't feeling very well, but Matt was patient with me, and we had lots and lots of fun at the parade, exploring the stands, and just sitting around hanging out with his family and then some of my family in UT county Sunday night and then his family again for a Labor Day barbecue back in Midway. I got some contacts from my mom so I could stop wearing those pesky glasses. My mom got me some drugs for my throat too, so I could breathe better at night and actually get some sleep. I am so glad I was able to just run away with Matt and regain some sanity. I talked with Bishop Reed, and began to feel okay about moving forward with the new ward. (Which is good, since I just got called to be the Relief Society Music Coordinator... anybody have suggestions for 5 minute music moments??)

Luckily the second and now third weeks of school have been much nicer on me, and I'm actually getting back into the whole "school" and "having homework" mode. My room still isn't totally unpacked, and I'm still pretty dang busy, but I'm healthy and happy and strong again. I'm pretty sure that I completely owe my sanity to Matt, because he honestly carried me through that first week and I don't know how I could have done it without him. And of course, Megan was there for me as always, even though I know her first week must have been at least as crazy if not crazier than my own!!

Well, this post is now uber long, and I should probably just post it so that Missy will have something to read finally. And then I will start on some of that homework I've been procrastinating this week.

Some pictures from the black and white party the Saturday before school started.

PS- I am in love with this boy.

my voice

Once upon a time I was in a sophomore english class in college. As part of the course, we were required to write an essay and submit it to be considered in a writing competition first within the class and then the top of each class would go on to a competition between all of the other sections of the ENGL 2010 that semester. I was flattered to have my composition picked as the 3rd best in my class! In a mix-up however, mine was labeled first, and went on to place 3rd overall in all of the sections!! It was a big surprise; I didn't think I was really that good of a writer (well, obviously I can string coherent thoughts together... but you know what I mean). I am really proud of this accidental achievement though, especially because the piece I wrote is hands-down the favorite essay I have ever written. It is a small part of my story (if I can claim it as my own) and it's not a part I often tell. But the topic came into my mind the other day, and I realized that this story ought to be heard by more than just the 10 kids in my class who read and gave it a score out of 10.

And so here it is. I send it off into the virtual world to be read by whoever may stumble upon it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

My Other Half

There is a pine tree that stands alone in the yard outside of my elementary school. The dark green boughs stand out against the faded red and white brick of the wall behind them. As I have grown, the school has seemed to shrink—the once dauntingly large 6th grade hallway seems so much smaller than it was back then. In order to walk underneath the slide that started out stories high, I now have to duck. But the tree has grown with me. Even though I have stopped getting taller, it has continued to reach higher and higher, taller now than the building it stands next to. In the grass in front of the tree, a marble plaque is engraved with the words “In memory of Melissa Fleming 1980-1990.”

I can’t recall how many times different people, after having found out that my name was Erin Fleming, would ask me if I was related to the girl that was buried in the lawn outside the 3rd grade classrooms. I would grin and explain to them that it was just in MEMORY of her, not her grave, and that yes—she was my sister. One time after I had related this, the girl asked me why I was smiling about the fact that my sister died. I suppose that since I have no memory of her, being only six months old when she died, I didn’t have any real reason to mourn her loss. But that isn’t to say that I didn’t think about her very often.

Somewhere in my early years, I began to think of Melissa as my guardian angel. When I did something wrong, I imagined that she had been watching, and felt let down that I hadn’t made the right decision. I didn’t want to let my older sister down; I felt impelled to make good choices so that she would be proud of me and the life that I was living for both of us. It was quite confusing when the story of Melissa and her cousin locking their younger siblings in the bathroom was related to me. Surely this was not the same angelic daughter, sister, and friend whose reputation I was striving to live up to. Either way, my high expectations for myself were the direct result of wanting to please her.

Melissa noticed that the lymph nodes in her throat were swollen in May of 1990. Doctors put her on antibiotics, but they didn’t seem to make any difference. She began to be constantly fatigued, and discovered that she had lost vision entirely in one of her eyes. An MRI test at the hospital showed a cancerous mass in her sinus cavity. Further tests revealed that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes—thus the reason for the swelling. Chemotherapy treatments began immediately.

My birthday should have been in July, but I arrived a month early—my mom thinks that it was probably due to the stress she was experiencing from Melissa’s diagnosis. Melissa spent one week of every month that summer and fall in the hospital undergoing therapy, and as I was still a very young “preemie”, I typically was taken along for the trip. My mom would carry me in a bassinet to Melissa’s room at Primary Children’s Medical and set me by the window to bask in the sun, since I was suffering from slight jaundice. I was a unique ray of sunshine in that setting. There were very few children around who hadn’t been given a bleak statistic for survival. My parents would put me in a swing in the doorway of the hospital room where I laughed and entertained everyone who passed down the hallway.

The fall brought a glimmer of hope; the chemotherapy treatments were going as scheduled. Melissa wrote in her journal that she was looking forward to being able to go home, and that now she would start to get better. This entry would be the last she ever wrote. Around Thanksgiving, Melissa started having trouble with her balance and during a chemotherapy session, suffered a seizure. The disease had moved to her brain and spinal cord, and when the doctors discovered the new tumors they were so far progressed that the little hope that had existed before, slipped out of sight.

In December, the doctors decided that the additional chemotherapy and radiation wasn’t making a difference and that they had done all that they could do for her. My parents brought her home to spend the remainder of her days there. A makeshift bedroom was set-up in the basement, where the hospice nurses would be able to come and check on her. I wish I could remember that winter, my first Christmas that must have been so unorthodox. Christmas morning, they brought her upstairs while the family opened presents around that year’s evergreen tree. By this point, Melissa had lost the sight in her other eye and was paralyzed from the neck down except for use of one arm. The next morning, my dad and siblings went out to the store to pick up some groceries. While they were gone, Melissa quietly slipped from this life.

When I was young, people were always telling me how much I looked like Melissa when she was my age. In my naïve mind, the most logical explanation for this was that since my life started when hers was ending, a part of her was living through me. Even her journal, containing the record of her life down to the final entries written by her own hand, was passed to me. My life picked up where hers was abruptly cut short.

I have always wondered what the polite reply is when someone compares you to a person whom you never met, particularly when the someone doing the comparing is also fairly unknown to you. The last time I was told that I looked like Melissa, I was 17 years old—an age beyond what anyone could have known what she looked like. Standing in the hall of my church building, I was telling some of the younger boys that they needed to stop being so rowdy. Their leader, who had grown up in the ward, moved away and returned when he was older, approached and told the boys to listen to me, referring to me as “Miss Fleming”. We’d never met before, so I turned to him and asked how he knew who I was. “I knew Melissa,” he simply stated and walked away. It had been a long time since anyone had mentioned how similar we appeared, and it left me in somewhat of a stupor as I sorted out in my mind that he had been able to pick out the relation after so many years.

There are only a few pictures that I’ve ever seen of Melissa, including the very few that exist of her and I together. By this time, her beautiful long hair had been lost due to extensive chemotherapy treatments, and she looks thin and pale. This version of Melissa looks nothing like the photos of her before she was diagnosed. These snapshots, however, are the best that I have to judge for myself whether I look like her or not. I don’t see the similarity.

There is one other difference that separates me from being identical to my older sister. Melissa was a natural artist. We have oil paintings in our home that are practically masterpieces, done by the simple hand of a ten year old. The closest I’ve ever come to a work of art is finger-painting. But this contrast is outweighed by the similarities. We both love nature, and we were both very active in sports. We both had double inguinal hernia repairs in our early years. It is no surprise that my mom was quite distressed when, at age ten, I started getting severe migraines that put me in the nurses’ office several times a week for almost a month. Luckily for all, I returned to normal with no explanation for the glitch in my health.

I haven’t been to the tree in years. I used to go with my dad on Memorial Day and use a shovel to trim back the grass from around the plaque so that it looked nice. I wonder if anyone is taking care of it now. I wonder if the kids at the school still talk about the girl who is buried outside the 3rd grade classrooms. I’ve learned to put on a somber face when I talk about Melissa. But those times have become less and less often, as the heartache of her passing fades and I move out into circles of people who never knew her. Even the pressure I once felt to make her proud has dimmed and vanished over time. How can the lives of two people who never had so much as conversation be so intertwined? I believe in angels, but even a skeptic couldn’t deny the presence she has had in my life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I had a really long post written out about this...

I decided not to post it though, because it was a bit too personal for my taste. Moral of the story: I ran into someone I was hoping I'd never see again and it was unpleasant and hopefully it will never happen again.

In other news, I am dating a boy. His name is Troy. No, he's not the boy from the "soulmate" post. I've had two people tell me that they didn't think the "soulmate" boy was really my type, and after not having heard from him in over a month... He's pretty much been forgotten about. I'm still curious about him not being my type though... I'm not sure what that really meant. I'm not sure what my type even really is. But I think Troy is my type.

And Missy, Troy doesn't drive a mustang. Or do anything else that might earn the label of Mr. McSketch. (Which is especially good since that's now the name of my house.)

McSketch is a very special kind of place. Complete with very special kind of people. Not to mention...
The slanted floors and doorways
(I think that the door is supposed to fill up the gaps within the door frame...)

Spiders! (this is a trap left by previous tenant)

But minus a large load of yard debris. And two giant boxes of in-house (mainly kitchen items) debris.
(A few hours work in the yard yielded this. Plus another two bags.)

This place hasn't been cleaned and taken care of in years.

Not pictured: one moldy shower and one bare pipes/no wall but insulation shower.

I'm trying to stay optimistic. Life is an adventure! And this place is just helping contribute to those adventures. We're making memories, right mom?

Picture proof that the sun did once shine in Logan!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My heart is full

Today was an important day for me. It's too personal to really blog about, but I just had to get it off my chest somehow.

Things that are on my mind today:

Christ is my Savior. The Atonement is real. The Priesthood is truly God's power on earth.
And I am grateful.