Aaaah it's almost school!!

Posted by Tracie on 8/18/2010 08:23:00 PM
So school starts in...six days. Including today. I'm psyched, of course. I'm especially psyched to receive my student financial aid refund. The day you receive that, it's like Christmas without the tree :D

I'm reading a new book from the library, Cognitive Surplus. It's about the development of technology and social media. After I finish that, I'm going to start on The Social Media Bible, which talks about promoting products, services, and business in general by using social media. (I didn't expect it would be so thick when I reserved it at the library!) When I took Technical Writing at DSC over the summer, I realized how much I don't know about Web 2.0 and its uses, so I'm trying to remedy that now.

I'm still working with Dr. Crenshaw and Florence (Dr. Bacabac) at DSC and the Society for Technical Communication on starting an STC chapter at DSC. What we need now is people - student members, specifically, and Dr. Crenshaw and Florence say they know of some students that would join. So it looks like this will work out! Awesome!

My hands and wrists have been really sore lately - not like carpel tunnel syndrome pain (which is generally burning/etc in the fingers) but just general muscle tiredness. When me and Brandon were in Salt Lake for five days I did almost no typing, and I did that on purpose, but my hands are still sore. I'm going to have to go see my doctor and see what she thinks.

And, of course, I'm going to be watching for my student refund like a hawk. It should come between now and Friday...

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The end of the summer!

Posted by Tracie on 8/06/2010 08:59:00 PM in , , , , , ,
Soo...summer's not done yet, but it's winding to a close. Somehow it seemed shorter this year. But I'm anxious for it to end - the weather is so hot, and I'm actually missing being in class. I don't know what I'm going to do when I graduate and won't have classes anymore!

Brandon was finally able to buy the HDTV he was saving up for. It's 42 inches of pure awesomeness. Tomorrow we're having a party with a Disney movie marathon - Brandon's calling it "D-Day". :D

I'm working on getting my application materials together to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The DAR is a society for women who are blood descendants of patriots who fought in the American Revolution. My great-aunt Lena and her daughter were both members, so most of the genealogy (going back to the 1770's) is already done for me. I just have to get birth, marriage, and death certificates (as applicable) for myself, my father, and my grandfather, who was Aunt Lena's brother. Then I can attach those to a copy of Aunt Lena's DAR application (from way back when, they're indexed by the DAR) and I can be a member :)

The DAR is a very exclusive organization. In fact, I've sat on doing my application for years because I was uncomfortable for how exclusive the organization is. My own mother can't join because she doesn't have the bloodline - mine comes through my father and my father's father. But the bloodline is there, so I may as well join. It's something not everyone can do.

Next weekend Brandon is taking me up to Salt Lake and he's going to introduce me to all his friends that he had growing up and all the places he knows (The Pie and Gravity Hill are on the list). I'm looking forward to it. I've only been to Salt Lake twice before and both times it was December and absolutely frozen. There's no snow up there now so it should be much more pleasant than my 2 brief visits before.

I've gotten connected with a group called the Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) of Utah. They rescue dogs from animal shelters so that they don't get put down and then help find them "forever homes" to live in. They need a grant writer - and as a Professional and Technical Writing major at Dixie State, I have taken a grant writing course and I can write grants.

So I called them up today and they were SO HAPPY that I can write grants for them! They're waiting on their 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS (a letter that says they're a non-profit organization, like a charity, and that donations to them are tax-deductible) and as soon as they get it they'll call me and I'll get to work. It'll be awesome to swing some grants for them, because grant writers generally get 10% of the grant award. So if I get them, for example, a $5000 grant, I'd get $500 of it for doing the paperwork and getting them the money. That would help me a lot!

A reason grant-writing income would help me a lot is because I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to keep working at Wendy's. I had an MRI done on my ankle (after my health insurance took 3 weeks to approve it) and I'm developing arthritis from my injury back in January. That explains the pain. I can walk and stuff...but standing up for over 4 hours at a time really hurts. So I don't know. I'm working on exercising my ankle before going back to work and trying to build up some muscle, but I don't deal with high amounts of pain well. I'm looking for other ways to generate income right now.

I did an interview this week to be a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. It'll take some time before I hear back since they also have to run a criminal background check on every volunteer. I've also encouraged my boyfriend to go volunteer because the waiting list of little brothers is THREE TIMES as long as the waiting list for little sisters in St. George. I'm also going to donate all my old clothing and towels to them. Big Brothers Big Sisters accepts donations of any kind of cloth, torn or stained or whatever, because they sell it by the pound up north. They've made thousands upon thousands of dollars doing that. They also accept small housewares. They've got donation boxes all over St. George, too -  and all donations are tax-deductible, of course.

So...that's what I'm up to. Staying relatively busy, even without work. Life is good!

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Faith, Evidence, and Songs: To Everlife

Posted by Tracie on 7/29/2010 12:08:00 AM

Your early song "Evidence" really changed my life. I grew up without religion, and first started going to church when I was in middle school. I had such a hard time with the concept of faith in the unseen. I wondered: could believing in something I couldn't see or hear or touch or feel actually be blinding myself to reality and playing a big game of make believe? I struggled with this question for years.

Cut forward to when I was 18, just finished my first year of college, working a summer job doing data entry (that I HATED) and listened to the radio all day on headphones at work. "Evidence" was on the local Christian station and the lyrics really struck me: "I am free to believe what I cannot perceive with my eyes. I can feel with my heart - I don't need to believe with my hands. Faith is so much more than coincidence - it's my evidence."

With that song, I realized: Believing in the unseen isn't blinding myself to what *is* seen.  I have the freedom to believe. I have the choice.

That song (and the rest of the album) has been on several of my iPods (just gotta have the newest model!) since 2004. It's had a huge impact in my life. :)

(I made this post so that I can reply to a post by the band Everlife on their website...if this doesn't make sense to anyone reading my blog, that's why ;) )

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Summer semester is almost over!!

Posted by Tracie on 7/17/2010 04:56:00 PM
So the summer semester is almost over :) Technical Writing was a really hard course to take in the summer, when all the assignments come at you twice as fast since the summer semester is half as long as a normal semester. I've learned a lot, though, and I'm really glad I took this class.

My ankle is acting up again - the one that I hurt falling down the stairs at school in January. My doctor isn't allowing me to work until I get an MRI and she sees the results. I haven't fallen on it or injured it or anything...it's just acting up for no reason that anyone (me or my doctors) can see. My insurance is taking its merry time approving the MRI, of course, and until then I can't work, so I'm going to be very broke very soon. It'll be okay, but I may be eating ramen for a while.

So a little while ago I saw The Last Airbender at the movie theatre. I was so excited for it and then...it was horrible. It's an absolutely horrible movie :( I'm very sad about that. Seems lately all that M. Night Shayamalan touches turns bad.

I am bored...going to go hop on facebook and see if anyone wants to hang out. See ya later :)

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Very interesting!

Posted by Tracie on 6/16/2010 11:43:00 PM
I haven't had a lot going on besides work an class, but this tidbit that a friend posted on facebook is very interesting and I thought I'd share :)

You Are What You BleedSource: Phlebotomist

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I got a JOB :D :D :D

Posted by Tracie on 5/26/2010 03:38:00 AM in , , , , , ,
Yes, I got a job! I was so down on myself on not being able to find employment - I type 115 WPM (which not everyone can do) and STILL couldn't find anything or the longest time - but I finally did succeed in getting a job!

I'm working at a Wendy's and it's absolutely perfect - I won't have to work too many hours, which is good since I'm still in school, and I won't make enough money to affect my financial aid. I just need a little extra cash to make ends meet, and some work experience to list on my resume after I graduate next May. I have a friend that worked at this same place for two years while he finished his degree and he liked it. So I'm very psyched. I had my first day of training today, and another day of training later this week. :)

So all the hard work of looking for a job DID pay off. The process was really hard...putting in applications and resumes at God knows how many places and almost never getting any calls back. I'm one of those people who wants to see results from the things I do...so getting almost no responses to my applications and resumes was really hard for me. Through the whole almost six-week-long process I got three interviews - a flat out "no" from one, a "I'll get back to you" that never did get back to me (which means "no"), and then, thank goodness, a job out of the third.

The thing is that I know there are many, many other people out there whose job hunts are much longer and yielding even less calls back. I'm thankful that my search was easier than theirs.

Y'know, when I was living in California, there was this strange...almost stigma about jobs. My parents always told me that no honest work is below anyone (honest work = legal work), but when I was in school (from kindergarten all the way up through high school) people I knew, even my friends, would talk badly about other people because of the jobs their parents had. I had a friend whose mom was a health educator for the state of California and made a lot of money, and I remember her talking badly about another girl, whose mom was the head person at the bakery at the local Albertson's grocery store.

So for a long time I kind of had this...complex about jobs, a complex born from growing up in that social atmosphere.

When my dad lost his job when I was in 6th grade and couldn't find another job in his industry, he started looking for any job he could get just to put food on the table - and the job he ended up getting was driving a school bus. And he didn't drive just any school bus. He drove the short bus. He drove deaf kids to and from their special school. My dad was making less money than he'd made at any job since he was 18, but he still did it so me and my mom could eat and have a roof over our heads.

And at the time, I was ashamed that my dad was a school bus driver. I didn't tell anyone. He parked the short bus in front of our house at night and then drove it to work in the morning, but I lived in a different neighborhood from my friends at school, so nobody saw it. But I didn't let anyone come over to my house during that time. I kept my dad's school bus job a secret, and I didn't tell anyone about his work until he got a job with AT&T when I was in high school.

I've worked other jobs in the past. My first job, when I was 16, was holding an arrow on the street corner on the weekends, advertising a new housing development. That wasn't so bad, socially, since a lot of other people I went to school with did that too, but I still got teased about "working the corner."

After I graduated high school, I typed medical documents for a summer (which I absolutely hated). I was an official music theory tutor for my college when I was working on my Associate's degree. After I transferred to a 4-year college in California, I worked at Disneyland (that was always one of my life's goals), which I am very proud of. I've also worked in journalism as a copy editor and reporter. And now I work at Wendy's.

A year or two ago I might have balked at the idea of working in a restaurant. But now I've finally realized that what my parents told me all those years was right: No honest work is below anyone. And that means that I've realized that it's absolutely ridiculous to talk badly about people based on where they or their parents work.

I'm happy to work at Wendy's. My co-workers and my boss are nice people. I'll get to work with the public, which is something I really like to do (I actually hate jobs where I sit in front of a computer all day). The safety standards at work are very thorough, which means I have a very low likelihood of getting hurt at work (and if I do get hurt somehow, there are plans in place to help cover my medical care while I get better). And the work schedule and pay rate fit my needs.

I'm very happy to work at Wendy's, and I'm excited for my future there. :D

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I can sleep now! :D

Posted by Tracie on 5/17/2010 11:59:00 PM in , , ,
I've been having a horrible time of getting to sleep at night for a long time. I was surfing CNN the other night and found an article called Trouble Sleeping? Maybe It's Your iPad. I don't have an iPad, but I clicked it anyway, and it did talk about computers too.

According to the article, computer monitors/laptop monitors/iPads/etc put out a lot of blue light. Blue light is the kind of light that's outside during the day. The light inside at night is usually more red or pink-ish (warmer).

The article linked to a freeware program called f.lux (there's PC and Mac versions - I'm on Mac). You install the program, give it your zip code (so that it can calculate what time sundown is), and then tell it what kind of light you have in your house (halogen, florescent, tungsten [old-fashioned incandescent bulbs]). Then at sundown, f.lux adjusts your monitor to match the type of light you have in your house.

I've got incandescent bulbs in my room, and so at sundown my monitor slowly turns reddish - not enough to distort anything, but enough that I notice.

And a funny thing happened.

I'm able to fall asleep.

And I'm able to wake up in the morning!

My bedtime right now is about 1 am and usually I lay awake for a long time. But now I'm able to fall asleep a lot faster and I wake up a lot more refreshed! Usually I wake up at the alarm, reach over to turn it off, and roll over and pass out again. But now I can actually sit up and get up. It's amazing :D

Maybe I've finally found the tool to manage my insomnia! And for free!

Yay. :D :D :D

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Finals are OVER!

Posted by Tracie on 5/09/2010 02:54:00 AM
Finals are over and I survived :D So right now I'm doing a lot of chilling. Which is what I've been wanting to do for a looong time!


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An awesome voice recital!!

Posted by Tracie on 4/24/2010 01:44:00 AM in , , , , , ,
Tonight I sang in a voice recital at Dixie State College. I've done a lot of recitals at DSC but tonight I sang a song that's particularly special to me: "So Anyway" from the musical Next to Normal.

The performance went beautifully and my wonderful boyfriend recorded it for me to share with the WORLD! <3 So here it is.

I am a total perfectionist - I am NEVER satisfied. But I think that I"m definitely satisfied with this performance. It wasn't absolutely perfect, but it was REAL. Music on CDs, stuff you buy on iTunes - a lot of it is perfect, but it's so engineered in the studio with computers and stuff that it isn't real. My performance was organic...it was definitely real.

And I am very, very happy.


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Looking for work...

Posted by Tracie on 4/16/2010 01:51:00 PM in , , ,
I thought finding a job in this economy and in this town would be hard, and unfortunately I'm discovering that I was right. The economy is horrible right now - everybody knows that - and St. George is such a small place with a small number of jobs in the best of times. 

I just got off the phone with a local business that I applied to, to be a secretary/administrative assistant, and found out they filled the position yesterday. I have an interview on Thursday with a music store and studio that's opening up in town. I'm applying to be a voice teacher. It would be awesome if I could get work doing that. I know that technically English is my field, but I would love to teach voice at an actual business, rather than trying to find students on my own. And having students on my own would be difficult, since I don't have a piano at home to teach with.

My boyfriend's best friend is planning to come visit from Salt Lake next weekend, provided she gets the time off work. That would be so awesome! I really don't know her that well and it'd be great to spend some time with her.

Today me and Brandon have been together for four months :) He's better at remembering dates than I am, which is probably the reverse of most relationships.

I'm sitting in the foyer of the Eccles Fine Arts building right now, waiting until it's time for me to go to class. And it's getting to be that time, so I'm going to wrap this up :)

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A bit delayed...

Posted by Tracie on 4/09/2010 12:51:00 PM
I've been wanting to post this for a while but I wanted to get Sara's permission before posting a video of her publicly on the internet.

This is Sara, a sophomore at Dixie, singing "The Girl in 14G" at the National Association of Teachers of Singing student competition at Southern Utah University this semester. :)

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Y'know, I had something really good to write about...

Posted by Tracie on 4/06/2010 02:53:00 AM in , , , , , ,
...and then it just evaporated. I'll sit here for a second and see if it comes back.

Ah, I remember.

I wanted to note that I feel I've found a lot of emotional stability since I started studying The Second Book of the Tao (translated/adapted by Stephen Mitchell, ISBN 978-0-14-311670-7). I'm not linking to a merchant here because I'm not trying to sell anything. :p Pick it up at your local independent bookstore in the Eastern Religion: Taoism section.

I've done a lot of study of Taoism. But it's in the Second Book that it's really clicking, really making sense. Granted, I am in, undoubtably, the best place I've ever been in my life. Not just St. George, Utah, but at DSC, with Brandon, my friends, music and theatre and writing...

Well, as the commentary on poem 26 in the Second Book says:
One of the wonders of what people refer to as spiritual practice (it can also be called "sanity") is that life gets progressively easier. The bumps and jerks, the fumbles and false starts of the apprentice years smooth out, until clarity becomes second nature.
Clarity hasn't become second nature yet, and not all the bumps, jerks, fumbles, and false starts have smoothed yet either. But I am closer than I've ever been to clarity, and there are less bumps and jerks and fumbles and false starts than there once were. And the ones that happen now are of different sorts than the ones that happened in the past.

I know that I would achieve clarity much faster and more thoroughly if I had a master to teach me, but I highly doubt there's a Taoist master in Southern Utah. Either way, I'm getting there, even though it's slower. Therapy helps. It helps a lot. Kathleen is very spiritual, but not in a deistic way.

I realize now that needing people isn't a weakness. But I need to be careful of the people I go to when I'm looking to get my needs met. Some people are caustic. Toxic, even. Creating close relationships with people like that isn't wise. Discretion must be used. Discretion is essential.

I'm still absorbing the idea of nondualism. I still make distinctions between self and other, especially with regard to other people and groups of people. Stereotyping and generalization are things that I can never be rid of - they're tools used by the human mind to avoid information overload. I think that my journey toward nondualism, toward the next step of recognizing that distinctions are not real or significant, will happen later on in time. But I don't know - it could happen tomorrow, for all I know! The sheer beauty of not-knowing is just beginning to dawn on me.

I haven't gotten to the point where I can say, "I love my life." But I am beginning to glimpse how such a sentiment could be possible. And that is very significant.

I think I can say that I am...maybe not excited, but...looking forward, to the future, with cautious optimism, and maybe a touch of detached amusement.

That is also very significant. Very, very significant.

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Posted by Tracie on 3/27/2010 04:49:00 PM in , , , ,
I know I haven't written for a while. School (both English and music) have been crazy busy. Keeping up can be tough! I'm taking performance opportunities wherever I find them. I'm going to be in the student government show Dixie's Got Talent on Wednesday night. I'm really excited :)

On a sadder note, I found out last Wednesday night that my grandmother died. She was 93 years old, so I was expecting this to happen sometime but it's still really sad. I looked into going to the funeral, but it's a 10 hour drive each way between St. George, Utah, and Los Angeles, California (where my family is and where the funeral is being held) and I can't afford to fly there. I'd also miss two days of school. And my family...let's just say we don't get along very well. There will be like 20 people there at the graveside service and most of us don't like each other.

So I'm going to have to grieve on my own and go to the grave sometime this summer.

It's really hard living out here in St. George. I've never had the tightest family ever. In fact, most of my relatives are dead. My parents didn't have me until my mom was 40 and my dad was 42, and I'm an only child. So a lot of my family members died before I was born or while I was a child. And even before everyone died, my family wasn't very big in the first place. So I've got like five or six family members in California, two in Arizona, some distant cousins in Indiana who I don't really know, and my dad lives in Nevada. There is no one related to me in the entire state of Utah, and my dad's the only person related to me in Nevada.

Family never was the most important thing to me, growing up and afterwards, but out here in Utah everyone has huge families. It's exponential, the growth of families. It's like everyone's related to everyone else, if distantly, in some way or another - except for me. When I tell people that there is no one related to me in the state of Utah, they always ask my last name, and my mother's maiden name, and they never can come up with someone else who has the last name McFarlin (spelled that way) or Hank.

So yeah. It's weird. Family just isn't this important where I come from. And losing my grandmother just highlights what little family I have. Within 20 years, my entire family will probably be dead (a lot of people in my parents' generation didn't have children), and since I can't have kids and don't want kids...I'm the end of the line. It's kind of sad. I'm just glad I came to this realization a long time ago and not just now.

My friend Valerie is having her senior vocal recital tonight at 7:30. I'm excited to go. Hopefully it'll be a good time :)

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Macbeth at Dixie

Posted by Tracie on 3/03/2010 11:20:00 PM
Tonight I went and saw Macbeth. The theatre department at DSC is putting it on. I've usually not liked Shakespeare...but I must say, DSC's production of Macbeth is awesome! It's only going 3 more nights, so if you haven't, then...go see it!

Spring break is next week. Is it Friday yet??

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