My mom used to camp all of the time when she was young. It's what she did for fun on the weekends as a teenager growing up in Washington.
I came home from camping this morning and started saying something to her about how I probably needed to wash my jacket.

"...but I don't really want to because I love the smell of campfire smoke."

"Laura, I used to come home from camping and just smell my clothes afterward. I've always loved it."

About an hour later we were looking through a quilting book. We both agreed on liking this one:

My mom said she liked it because it looked Gaelic.
I said I liked it because it looked like a pixelated atari game from the 80's.

The world may never know.


fall arrivals.

It's official. Fall is here and the best summer of my entire life is drawing to a close. I wore a hoodie to work this morning because it was cold outside. I received an e-mail from the grad student who will be teaching my Spanish class telling me to get ready.
Thanks to everyone who made my most fantastic of all summers possible. I have no regrets and I hope you don't either.

Fall has brought with it a few unexpected surprises:
1. A new quilting obsession ( I couldn't stop thinking about different quilt designs at work today. Weird!)
2. Llamas! I took this picture only 20ft. away from my bedroom window. I can't walk or drive past them without shouting (really to myself) how cute I think they are. But I love that they all turn their heads and perk their ears up every time.





This is my favorite pen of all.A few weeks ago I left the house with the sole purpose of filling my car with gas; my mother's Costco card in hand. On the way there, I remembered that I also needed to buy some dry erase markers to use on the new white board above my desk.

So I drive straight on main street instead of turning right, and make my way to Office Depot. I am fascinated by their variety of white board pens. Most packs include bulk quantities, but I only want a few. There are tons of different colors, packs that include an eraser and spray cleaner, and some that claim greater opacity than others.

I decide that it's a little overwhelming and that I'll come back to make a final decision after I browse the section of standard writing utensils.

The selection of pens and pencils, is of course, more expansive than the dry erase section. Enthralled by the number of options available, I spend an hour deciding what to buy; no exaggeration. I select a pack of mechanical pencils and a pen. I'm so excited about them that I completely forget about the dry erase markers until I pass them on my way up to the check stand.

Walking to my car, all I'm thinking about is trying them out on paper. I open them at the first stop light I reach, holding them in my fingers, trying to sense what they'll feel like when I'm actually using them.

The first thing I do when I get home is show them to my mom (with some weird notion that she'll also be excited), and then rush downstairs to my bedroom to try them out.

I forgot to get gas and narrowly made it to work the next morning.

I think I should never go pen shopping alone.


woman's study.

When I hit puberty, I felt an urge to tape my chest down with packaging tape. I contemplated it over and over again, but decided that I'd be crazy to actually do it. I tried to understand where the impulse even came from and decided that at age 12, I wasn't comfortable with being a woman yet. I started thinking about it all the time and became obsessed with what being a woman would mean and whether or not I would want it.
I even went to speak with my bishop about my concern. Whenever he spoke to the young women, he told us that we could meet and talk with him about anything, so I took him up on it.

"So, what did you want to talk about, Laura?"

"I'm not even sure how to say it; I guess it seems like everything considered feminine in our society implies weakness, and that there's not a whole lot of difference between women inside and outside the church. . ."

I went on to explain that a woman is generally only considered attractive if she is thin and that it also puts her in a societal position of being weak and childlike. I explained that long or fake nails inhibit one's ability to work with their hands, that high heels make it easier for someone to trip or be tripped, and that long hair is easily pulled. I told him that I noticed that women (outside of my family) were often silent in the face of political and academic discussions. That all and all, men seemed to prefer women who looked and acted like children, but still did a lot of housework.

"I think you're a perceptive young woman," he said; and that's all I can remember.

I was shocked with his response. I thought he'd tell me that I was wrong, that I'm not seeing the point of it all, that I would get it when I grew up.

After that, I resolved to be the best woman I could possibly be. If I rejected my femininity and took on more masculine tendencies, it would only support the supremacy of males. But I didn't want to fall into the subservient trap of other woman. I wanted to be completely female, yet, respected. I wanted to be a girlfriend, wife, and mother, who was valued for my individual characteristics and not for my appearance or housekeeping abilities (but of course I still wanted to look incredibly beautiful and have amazing housekeeping skills.) I told others that my ultimate goal was to become the "essence of femininity."

Oddly enough, I think that's how I got into fashion. Appearance became a creative endeavor more than an attempt to homogenize with my peers. I wanted to get away with everything, just so long as it was modest. An over-willingness to expose one's body struck me as desperate, and therefore, weak. I wanted boys to appreciate this about me.

Of course, looking back, I think I've made almost every stereotypical female error in existence. I've definitely come off as desperate, ditsy, catty, and I've certainly allowed myself to be controlled by males. As much I hate that, I am more comfortable with my identity as a woman now than ever before. I still feel like I'm constantly examining how to be the best female possible; to exhibit my innate girlish tendencies and strength simultaneously.

Really, I am more girly than ever before as I have become more comfortable with myself. I unabashedly enjoy my Vogue magazine subscription, (but always with the disclaimer that I really just enjoy the couture fashion spread) I started quilting, and I even took my eylelash curler on my latest backpacking trip (but no make-up...wait, I think I took some mascara.)

I love to ask others what their perception of my femininity is, since I'm so unsure of how it compares to culture around me. I feel like a boy when I'm at a hip-hop show or on BYU campus, but in smaller groups among friends and family, I feel ultra-girly.

Miriam and Whitney say that I am "the essence of femininity." They said it independently of one another with no coaching at all and I felt very complimented. When asked if they felt that I was androgynous they both said,"No way."
But my favorite remark on the topic came from Wayne, who told me that I could "skin a cat and wear it." I consider it one of the nicest compliments I've ever received.


life is generic.

Mike Alger found this online today at www.foundmagazine.com and I thought it was so funny.
The mission statement of Found: "We collect FOUND stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles - anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life." Then they publish it, of course.
This to-do list was found in Knoxville, Tennessee and featured on their website yesterday. With a few tweaks/exceptions, it could've been mine only 7 months ago; right down to the Depakote notepad.


crush for life.

I think that having a crush can be like using a drug.
I've admittedly never used any type of recreational drugs, but I still think I have a point.

On the rare occasions that I have experienced headaches intense enough to merit a dose of excedrin, I have been virtually incapable of sleeping. It increases my heart rate, and I lie awake all night listening to blood rush through my veins.

Crushes are way worse. I can go days without really sleeping. Possibly weeks. Thoughts regarding a crush can move in and occupy most of your cognitive processes. They are capable of increasing your heart rate for way longer than just one night.
And the dissolution of a crush has the capacity to destroy one's good mood for a really long time. Some crushes can take years to recover from.

I don't have a "lust" for life. I have a "crush" for life.

I went for dinner with Meri again last night and we started speaking about how I'd severed all of my relationships. Hacked them to pieces. All of them. Some more brutally than others. My mother, my siblings; every single friend. I shrink to think of it. And I am so sorry.

The good news is that almost every last one of these people have forgiven me. I cannot begin to explain my gratitude. I often feel overwhelmed considering all the wrongs I've committed that others have been willing to dismiss. This overarching forgiveness I've experienced helps me have more faith in humankind as a whole; like I should never doubt one's capacity to extend sincere mercy. This love I feel from so many people has created an excitement within me. I am bursting with enthusiasm about so many things that I often don't sleep. My future feels unbelievably bright and I often catch myself daydreaming about it. It's sometimes difficult for me to think of how things in my life could realistically be going better than they are now.

Not only do I feel like I have a crush on life, but I feel like it's crushing back.



the hoh rain forest.

the beach where we camped.

waiting for the ferry again.
I am decidedly in love with the outdoors.
The day before leaving on my trip to Washington I spent around $450 on a backpack and sleeping bag and squirmed with guilt the whole 13 hour drive up the next day. But all it took was one night in the Hoh rain forest to set my mind at ease.
There is something wonderful about being left to the mercy of something other than a clock and calendar.
Adam could never handle doing things outdoors for this reason, I think. He sought for as much control over his disordered mind as possible and that required a controlled environment. Wind and rain and insects create a certain chaos for anyone, and in Adam's case, it was just too much.
That's why we never did anything outdoors.
Before last week, the last time I camped was 4 years ago.
Being outdoors is a personal declaration of independence following my escape from a miserable marriage. I missed being outdoors. I enjoy being outdoors. I feel a greater appreciation of life when I am outdoors.
If anyone is planning any trips outdoors, I want to come along.



today's special.

I went to buy some of Greg's pottery at the farmer's market in Provo. I love my purchases.
As I was leaving the market, I noticed this quaint stand where a guy was selling little felt things that his wife created.
It has been the most perfect summer of my life.
Now I'm going to finish packing for my backpacking trip to the Olympic Peninsula where I'll be staying until August 17th. Peace out.


bag lady.

I admittedly have a weakness for bags and shoes. I was moving more stuff out of my storage unit and realized that I have a total of 12 handbags to choose from every time I dress up. I couldn't help but think of this song by Erykah Badu and thought maybe I should take her advice.


marvin gaye.

Call me an ignoramus, but I don't like his music.

Every time I hear it, I imagine people standing around in polyester suits with feathery hair jammin' out in a way that seems completely foreign. Somehow there's always a barrier present that leaves me as an voyeur rather than a participant.

For some reason, I don't feel the same way about Sam Cooke although his music also has a dated quality about it. As I'm listening to Sam Cooke, I'm so thoroughly engaged in my present enjoyment that I just sing and dance along.



I was folding garments at work last week when a mechanic came by to perform some regular maintenance on my machine. I didn't recognize him at all.

"Hi, what's your name?"


"I'm just going to replace the teflon on your machine."

"Oh yeah, thanks. It's been needing that for a little while."

He is short and small and slender with dark skin and a wide smile. He speaks with a thick accent that I don't fully recognize.

When he's finished, he starts watching me fold to make sure that his repairs are working properly.

"How fast are you-- or, what is your percentage?"

He's talking about how quickly I fold in relation to standard proficiency. 100% proficiency is the standard requirement.

"Why? Um, I guess I haven't been paying attention lately . . . I could tell you how much money I'm making lately though. . ."

"No-that's okay. Just like, how fast do you usually go, or how fast have you gone?"

"I guess I usually operate at about between 170- 180%, but my record is 230%."

"Oh yeah. You seem pretty fast. I used to fold in Salt Lake and I broke the record there."

Let me explain that I am the fastest folder at the American Fork plant. I am the only person allowed to work part-time right now because I am so fast that they were willing to make an exception to keep me working there.
But I have heard incredible rumors about the fastest folders in Salt Lake. There are stories about folders who need two people standing at the end their conveyor belt to pack the finished garments into boxes. Supposedly the garments come down so fast that it's way too much for one person to juggle.

I am completely astonished.

"Really?! How fast did you fold?"

"I averaged between 210- and 235%."



"So you had to have two people box them up?"


At this point, our conversation has caught the attention of everyone standing nearby and he looks a little embarrassed. They all start insisting that he fold, so we can admire his expertise, and he reluctantly agrees.

I have never seen anyone look more graceful doing something so mundane.

I notice his wedding ring: a small, gold band with 3 tiny diamonds. I start imagining his wife and children at home that have motivated him to work so hard. And I recognize myself wishing that I look just a little bit like him while I'm folding.

He stops, and shyly says," Ah, you guys are going to get me in trouble." And smiling at all of us, he walks away briskly to repair the next machine.