Lemons seem to be our lot in life, but sometimes I get tired of drinking lemonade. Sometimes I'd much rather have root beer, and no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to make root beer with lemons.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Liz Pack: Improving Self-Improvment

Comedic timing is a blessing and a curse. It is the proverbial two edged sword. And it is far more powerful a tool than people imagine it to be. Firstly, it is seemingly harmless. “Yeah, that guy’s funny, whatever.” Then it becomes more sinister, “Ok, so maybe laughing at that isn’t very nice…” Then, “Wow, that guy is a big jerk.”
The problem is that comedy is a tool of thought. It alters ideas. It highlights aspects of our daily lives. It glosses over pivotal points. It occasionally generalizes to achieve its ends. It can make people happy. It can make people sad. It can make people angry. Basically, it messes with your brain.
So, here’s the trouble. I've noticed that my thoughts are often considered funny. Ok, that was a modest way of putting it. I've noticed that people laugh at some of the things that I say, and I take way too much pride in my ability to make those people laugh. Sometimes this is wonderful. I have a skill that has the power to bring a little sunlight into other people’s lives. Sometimes it’s a bad thing. Like, when I unconsciously hurt another person. Or worse, when I consciously hurt another person.
Most of all, my particular brand of comedy functions in one unmistakable way. It is my mask. A very unsubtle mask, really, because I usually say exactly what I think, except that I say it in a funny voice, or I say it by quoting a movie, or I dip what I’m saying in a heavy dose of sarcasm. What I really think becomes obscured by the laughter it evokes. Suddenly, truth becomes a joke. Kind of a sinister way of looking at it, right?
Why am I writing about this? Well, I think it’s about time the mask came off. I could be using my skills for more productive things, like helping people, instead of expending all of my comedic resource on hiding who I actually am.
There are a few obstacles.
Firstly, I’m just barely starting to recognize when I do this. Becoming more self-aware isn’t exactly easy, and most of the time it’s incredibly unpleasant. I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can, so overcoming this obstacle is difficult.
Nextly, I really like saying funny things, like seriously you guys, it’s awesome. I’m a human, and usually when humans are good at things they like to do them because they enjoy the attention that said things can get them. In other words, “I’m so vain, did you know that this song is about me?” (that bit was meant to be sung to the tune of “You’re so Vain,” in case any of you were in doubt).
Lastly, changing is hard. I’m probably gonna have to work and think and apologize and rebalance and I don’t wanna. Wah.
Sixthly, I’m impatient. I just want to be perfect and I want it to happen right now. Woof. Dealing with myself is a lot like dealing with an obstinate two year old sometimes.
So, yeah, these are my self-improvement thoughts of the moment. As Shang said, “We've got a long way to go.”

P.S. If anyone can tell me where I got the whole “firstly, nextly, lastly, sixthly” thing I will give them a coupon for a lifetime supply of free high fives.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A More Positive View

Ok, ok. I understand that my previous post was a bit whiny and a bit out of character. The good news is that a few hours after that post I was in a much better mood and I wrote this more positive companion poem for the first one.

An Appropriate Cliche

I want
too many things.
It's easy to be
distracted by that.

As Ms. Austen would say,
a social defect with no cure,
such as selfishness,
must always be forgiven.

I'm not above using a
limpworn phrase to say it.

I want you to be happy.

If taking myself out of the equation accomplishes that,
then I am willing to oblige.

getting angry isn't fair.
an apology is appropriate

Self-reflection somehow results
in humble pie

if I can keep my foot
out of my mouth long enough
to get a bitter taste of
regret and fruit filling
then maybe I'll have time to add:

the best things in life are free,
especially from strings,
and my friendship is definitely one of
the best things in life.

I hope that was a bit reassuring.

The Push Away

It's not like this blog has a specific purpose anyway, but here I go in another random direction. This is a poem. I don't pretend to be a master, but I needed these words to be out there, whether they were read or not.

Get Ready for the Push Away
I can only call this thing
messed up
so many times.
Passive aggressive, I know,
but I'm walking away.
I know you won't follow,
but nothing less than being 
locked out
will make you
want in.

We've spoken
We've laughed
We've shared
everything adds up.

But you won't do the math

Not that it should be math...

Like Elizabeth Browning, I'm not sure love can or should be quantified.

Love doesn't run out anyway,
because it's not like a 
shampoo bottle
that you use
until it's

It's like an empty book
that you fill with words and
images. You can close it, but you 
never run out of pages, you never run out...

So, how do I love you?
As far as the distance to your door.
Any further is more than you want.

Choosing to end it, choosing to close the book,
makes it finite, measurable, quantifiable.

Oh, look! I guess I quantified it in the end.

Not light-hearted, I know, but I was feeling a bit inspired. I suppose my habit of running away came in handy for something. Ummm... something less angsty next time, I promise.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Game

This post is about dating. Now, before you all start rolling your eyes and stop reading, just hear me out, because I think this is a unique(ish) way of looking at things, and if you don't get a laugh out of it then you can stop following me. It's not like I'm religious about posting on this thing anyway...
Dating is a game. I've always found this to be an incredibly frustrating aspect of dating, but time and again I have come to find that it's pretty true. Why is it frustrating to me? Well, I'm not competitive, I'm no good with strategy, I lack confidence, and in general I would just like everything to be easy (whatever happened to the idea of two people genuinely just liking each other and wanting to spend time together? Or rather, why does it take so much work to get to that?). Unfortunately, it's not easy. It's awful.
Here's the honest truth. I haven't tried very hard to date. Not really. I'm so scared of the actual real dating concept that if an opportunity arises I usually run as fast as my average length legs can carry me in the opposite direction. But from my observations (and advice I was given that I ultimately haven't taken yet) I have come to a conclusion. Dating is a game, but it's not the game everyone seems to think it is.
I used to think dating was like chess. You out-maneuver your opponent until they are finally caught in an impossible position, then you win. As a girl, it is all about being just forward enough to get your point across without being pushy or creepy, as a boy it's all about having all of the right lines and the right gestures. This outlook was a bit cynical, especially if you consider how much I dislike playing chess (mostly because I've only ever played it three times in my life and I never really had a clue what was going on. You can know how the pieces move and still be completely lost). 
Recently (last night), I came to the conclusion that dating is like the Pokemon card game. 
Pretend with me, for a moment, that you are a Pokemon. As a Pokemon you have a card and that card describes how much power you have and what your special abilities are. When you are played against other Pokemon cards the winner is determined by how much power and ability you have (as well as some luck. Unfortunately, every game requires a little luck). 
So, the point is that you need to make your Pokemon card as awesome as possible. You need to think about your perfect girl/guy (who is imperfect, because no one wants to date a robot), then you need to consider what kind of partner this girl/guy would find irresistible. Then you need to strive to become that person. You’re still you, but like a Pokemon, you evolve and become more powerful and harder to beat (not to mention, rarer and more worth having). Not only that, but you get the added bonus of being a pretty awesome person, because let’s face it, the girl/guy of your dreams wouldn't find anything less than awesome irresistible. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Ok, I'm an English major. I admit it.
There are a few things that I've learned about life in my time as an English major. First: English majors are an interesting group of humans. We analyze literature and write about it and no one seems to understand why, but once you learn these skills you can't seem to stop. Second: Despite being misunderstood, analyzing literature can actually be quite helpful (and fun!).
I had to read Hamlet recently. Now, Shakespeare can be a challenge, even for an English major, but I learned some pretty important stuff about myself, and everyone else, from studying this play, so I thought I'd share my findings.
Hamlet is an unfortunate prince who finds out from a ghost that his uncle killed his father. This information causes Hamlet to go into deep thought about, well, everything. "What's so great about humans? Is death better? What is fidelity anyway? Should I kill my uncle?" are just a few of the things Hamlet contemplates. He also spends much of the play acting a little crazy and telling his girlfriend to get to a nunnery. In the end Hamlet, his girlfriend, his uncle/step-dad, his mother, his girlfriend's father, and his girlfriend's brother all die (also Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but nobody really thinks about those two).
What do people think Hamlet's problem is? Well, he thinks too much. He hesitates to act. And people die because of it (sort of).
Now, I don't have any big moral issues to argue with myself about. I'm not trying to decide if it's a good idea to kill my uncle or if I think ghosts are real. I have, however, been hesitating over some pretty important decisions. I know for a fact that I've thought too much about these choices. How do I know that? Well, there has literally been some crying and rocking back and forth on the floor about these things going on. The truth is that I've known what I needed to do all along, I've just been putting it off trying to decide if it's really the right thing. So I had a similar problem to Hamlet. I was thinking more than I was acting (a lot more in fact), but after seeing my actions reflected so well in this play I came to realize that my hesitation was silly, my freak outs were pointless, and my choices were good ones. I just needed to act, and stop thinking about it.
I guess there are two points to this post. First: Once you know what you've got to do, stop thinking about it. You'll only mess yourself up with too much thinking. Second: Analyzing plays and books and poems can teach us about ourselves and help us live our lives more effectively. So don't sit around wondering why English majors only read books all the time, it's more productive than you might think.
Happy thought of the day? Read a book. You might learn something!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


They say that strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. I say that strangers are people whose insanity you haven't yet experienced.
People are crazy. This is an undeniable truth, and for some reason everyone has decided that they can let their freak flag fly freely in front of me when I've only just met them. Strangers confide in me all the time for some reason, and I must admit that this is one of the most enjoyable things about my life.
One of the best places to meet people is through your local public transportation. I must admit that this is where my newest 'friends' have come from, and some of their stories are kind of hilarious. I shall start with the most recent one.
I met Woody on Saturday, November 5 and this is sort of how it went down.
I'd had a class that day (which, by the way, is a slight injustice, considering that it was Saturday) and I was quite excited to get home where I was planning on sleeping and catching up on my Spider Solitaire. I got on the bus with the intention of staring blankly out the window until my thoughts became nothing but images attached to vague memories and emotions, but it was when I was choosing my seat that I made the fatal mistake. As I scanned the plethora of empty seats an old man caught my attention for an instant, and being the kind person that I am I gave him a friendly smile. I then chose the seat directly behind him and got ready for some nice spacing out. Unfortunately I think my smile had given Woody the wrong impression about my intentions, because he promptly turned around and made a joke about the weather.
Strangers, particularly old people, like to make jokes about the weather as their opening line. Why? For two reasons I think. Firstly, people want to start out with a joke because they think it makes them seem clever and interesting. Secondly, since they don't know you, and therefore they don't know if you have anything in common, they have to go with something everyone in your area can connect to, like the weather.
Sorry, I went off for a second. So, Woody made a joke about the weather, which I politely laughed at (because weather jokes aren't very funny or clever, but you must laugh because you know it is a joke). But Woody had an interesting habit that captured my attention and made the rest of our conversation hard to focus on. You see, when Woody talks he likes to hold his hand up to his face like he's telling you a secret, even though he is talking quite loudly, and the subject matter of his conversations are not very secretive.
Since Woody is an old man who tells unamusing weather jokes you can easily guess what our conversation was about. He proceeded to tell me stories about his grandfather who was wealthy but liked to wear coveralls and lurk suspiciously in public places, so he was often arrested and promptly set free when they realized how important he was. This, I admit, was mildly interesting, although it could have been tremendously hilarious with the right delivery. The most amusing part of our conversation was the fact that he was acting like everything he was saying was a secret when in reality it wasn't. In the end I have to say that I thought Woody was a nice old man and I wouldn't mind talking to him again. Grandfather stories are fun, and quirky people are funner (not a word, but I'm going with it)
I met Jeremy on the bus as well, sometime in September, and his story is quite interesting as well.
I was reading The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas at the time and I was very obviously not interested in talking to anyone. Or at least, I thought this was obvious. I generally don't talk to people who are reading on the bus, even if I know them, so I was surprised when I heard a voice say, "That is a really good book."
I looked up and was even more surprised to find that the person who had said this was wearing a skull shirt, baggy pants, a chain, a sideways hat, and was sporting some rather impressive facial hair. I know it is wrong to judge people, and I am sad to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that Jeremy had read the book I was reading because I wouldn't have expected it from someone who looked like him.
"Yes," I said, "I enjoy it." But I was anxious to keep reading (if you know me, you know not to bother me when I'm reading, but Jeremy didn't know me, so I guess I can't hold it against him), so I promptly turned my eyes back to the page.
"Of course," he continued, "I like The Count of Monte Cristo better, but that one is still fantastic."
I gave a mental sigh and put my book aside. Jeremy was intent on talking to me, and I try to be a classy, sociable person, so I had no choice (I sometimes curse my desire to be classy and sociable).
We talked a little bit more about Alexander Dumas but the conversation quickly evolved into a list of the reasons why Jeremy's life is unfair. Jeremy's life is unfair, I am completely on board with that statement, but listening to him talk about it was not what I wanted to be doing when I could be reading about fencing and romance instead.
Ok, so I just realized that a lot of the things I am saying may make me sound like a terrible person. I want to quickly interject and remind you that this is my happy thought of the day. I truly enjoy these strange stranger moments, and I love meeting new people, especially when they are funny, and I am sure there are plenty of people who could write amusing anecdotes about me, so if Jeremy, Woody, and Jonathan (who I will write about in a moment) are out there reading this (which I sort of doubt) I want you to know that it was a pleasure, truly to meet you, and I think you are wonderful people.
Ok, so, I was listening to Jeremy telling me about his life being unfair, which I already agreed with, but I'm not entirely sure if it is acceptable to tell a complete stranger about your criminal record, no matter how unfair it is. But it's his criminal record, he can tell anyone he wants.
The funniest part of this conversation was that I didn't actually know Jeremy's name until he had told me about his criminal record, which seems a little out of order to me.
I still see and speak to Jeremy quite often, because we ride the same bus to get home, and I like seeing him because he always has a warm greeting for me.
I didn't meet Jonathan on the bus, I met him at Scout Camp, where hilarious things happen hourly.
I worked in the Trading Post and taught Indian Lore and Sculpture at a scout camp this last summer and I love doing it so much even though the hours are long and the pay is just a little bit pathetic. One week, near the end of the summer, there was this kid named Jonathan. He came into the Trading Post on Monday that week, and yours truly was the lucky cashier who rang him up. First of all, he's an adorable kid. Very open, very happy to be wherever his is, and very positive about everything. The first thing Jonathan said to me as I typed in the prices of his items in our ancient cash register was, "You guys are so nice up here."
Since this wasn't a very personal compliment I tried to go for an appropriately impersonal response, "We try." I said with a smile.
"Yeah, I'm am just so happy right now because my dad just had surgery on his prostate cancer and he's gonna be ok. So now I'm not worried or scared, I'm just happy."
I don't understand why people share the most intimate details of their lives with me.
I was sincerely happy for him, because cancer is a scary thing, and I know what it's like to lose a loved one, so worrying about losing a loved one must be terrible and the relief of them being ok must be wonderful.
The problem with Jonathan being so open about sharing his life story with me was that we were in the middle of a huge rush in the Trading Post, and so I didn't exactly have time to listen to him tell me about his family's vacation to the Grand Canyon.
But, as I said before, his tendency towards TMI was kind of cute and he was my favorite scout that week.
Strangers are my happy thought of the day because they bring color and variety to your life. My suggestion to you would be to go out and meet someone new every day, because you never know when someone new my confuse and delight you.
Have a happy day, you deserve it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Thoughts of the Day

I've decided that now might be a good time to come up with a general purpose for this blog. I've actually been thinking about this for a while, and an idea came to me suddenly on day when I was writing a letter. I have this friend who is living in Japan at the moment and I write him letters whenever it strikes my fancy or whenever I happen to have time. In most of my letters I like to add a section titled: Random Happy Thoughts. This, I admit, is one of my favorite parts of writing these letters, and I don't think he really minds it either. As I was writing this section the other day I had the brilliant idea of expanding it into a blog-like genre, so here we are. From now on this blog will be entirely about happy thoughts from yours truly, and I'm pretty excited about that!
My happy thought for today is exact change. I had the blessing of being able to go to an ice cream shop today with two of my friends. This is a blessing for two reasons. Reason number one: I had time to be with my friends. Reason number two: I had money to go to an ice cream shop. Oh, the simple joys of college life!
Anyway, as I went to pay for my one scoop of 'Praline Pecan' (which is redundant, by the way) ice cream and the cashier told me that my total was $2.25 I realized the joy of having exact change. I happened to have two dollar bills and a quarter waiting patiently in my wallet at that very moment, and as I reached in and pulled them out and handed them to the cashier I recieved the glow that only a small, simple miracle can bring you.
Exact change is awesome for several reasons. Firstly, it makes your life easier. You don't have to worry about getting a ton of change back, and having to carry it around in your purse all the time. Also, paying with cash always feels a bit more honest to me, and having exact change is almost as convenient as using a debit or credit card, which is a double pro if you ask me.
Secondly, it makes the cashier's life easier. Have you ever been a cashier? I have, and I know how that moment when you're getting their change for them can feel like a millenium if you're in a hurry. You know, that moment when everything but your hands seems to go in fast-forward while your fingers fumble and shake in slow-motion? Yeah, it's not a fun feeling, especially when the person you're trying to help is being impatient about it. This is another reason why exact change is so awesome, because it completely eliminates that moment from the transaction. You give your money to the cashier, they put it in the register, moment over. Convenient, huh?
 And finally, exact change is happy because it puts the stamp of approval on your purchase. For instance, I was feeling a little bad about buying ice cream because it's unhealthy and it's a little extravagant, but having the exact change I needed for it was like divine providence saying, "Hey, it's ok to buy this ice cream. You deserve it." Having exact change is like destiny saying that this moment was meant to be, because everything worked out perfectly. That's right, that ice cream tasted better because it had the sparkle of hope for a perfect future. Everything in my life before had led up to this moment, and everything in my life after would just fall in to place because of it.
Yes, exact change made me happy today, and I hope that exact change will make you happy from now on, because when you think about it, it's pretty joyful.
Have a wonderful day. You deserve it!