You know the feeling.

You drive past a house on your block and suddenly the shadows cutting across the tree in the front yard take you back to that day in July when you were five and drinking out of the hose in nothing but a dirty swimsuit. And your feet were full of slivers which your mom would peel out later using tweezers.

You smell the PERT plus shampoo at the grocery store and your grandma's bathroom comes into view, the pastel pink linoleum (was it that color?), the brown accents in the cabinetry, the night you had to use a pad for the first time and dig for it in that very bathroom, and the thing was much too big and humiliating for a 12 year old. 

You kick through a path of soggy leaves on your way to work, and the sound is too perfect, just like crossing the bridge in the night at Camp Alpine and accidentally killing a banana slug, that awful SCHWAP! stamping slug murderer on your forehead. 

I go back there, wherever there is, when nothing makes sense or even when everything does, maybe it's too much for me in my present moment and closing my eyes against the pain elevates it in some way. It does not go away. It never goes away.

In German, the word is fernweh. According to Wikipedia, the translation comes to "farsickness" or "longing for far-off places", as contrasted with Heimweh (homesickness, longing for home).

And if you like serendipity, listen to this: while writing this post, the song "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver came on my Spotify shuffle. He just so happened to sing this line: "He was born in the summer of his 27th year/ Coming home to a place he'd never been before / He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again/ You might say he found a key for every door."


celebrities--they're just like us!

This morning at the dentist I realized I've been doing a good job of acting my age. In the last week, I've gotten a haircut (dreadfully overdue--you could've started a fire by rubbing my split ends together), gone to the dentist, and gotten SIX pairs of pants hemmed (I've tried but failed hopelessly to find petite pants that fit me like a normal person). Not to mention I've also gotten out some pesky grease stains from a new jacket, used my HSA to buy sunscreen, and thrown out a huge garbage bag full of stuff I wasn't using. It always feels nice to do that.

Last night was the Oscars, which I didn't watch because I don't relate to anyone there besides the fact that *deep breath* we alllLLL A PART of the hUUUUMAN raAAAACE.

But really. Any celebrity-centered event makes me think of this:

miss u, John

I'm happy for them, I really am, but sometimes it seems like they are completely out of touch with the rest of the world. I think loads of money + power + having zero privacy can do that.

But HEY, I'm not here to psychoanalyze celebs. I'm just here wondering what it's like for them to go to the dentist, get out grease stains, take stuff to the thrift store (do they do this? If so, which thrift store? Wait jk. Not jk)....

Then I realized that they probably don't get their pants hemmed because they can afford to spend the extra $200 to get pre-hemmed pants (cuz they have a personal tailor). And they probably don't use an HSA and maybe they don't even use sunscreen (based on their super-tanned-ness on the beach).

Celebrities. They're just like us!

And now, a montage of photos from Star magazine's weekly "Celebrities--They're Just Like Us" feature. It's truly dumb.

this was not the only "they take selfies" pic. -_-

so you're saying gravity affects all of us, huh? 

They need a haircut. Get a haircut Pete. Please stop wearing those shoes, Pete. PEEEETE.

????????????? I thought all celebs used Sham-Wow

Because everyone needs water.

Dear Star Magazine,
You're grasping at straws. Just call it "All The Times We've Needlessly Stalked Famous People While They Pump Gas/Get Groceries/Buy Toilet Paper. We're Gross & We Know It."


šŸŽµyou're the inspiraaaaationšŸŽµ

Here is something that I'm constantly wanting more of, while simultaneously thinking I don't have any access to: inspiration. Since I talk a lot about religion and belief on this blog, this is just a clarification that I am not talking about spiritual inspiration. Dis alllll 'bout creative inspiration--which, to me, does involve spirituality, but not the kind you're thinking of right now.

I'm constantly bombarded by distractions; some of my own creation, others more external. Recently, I've run my mouth about Instagram/social media, which to me might be the #1 Biggest Distraction for Most People on the Planet Right Now. And I don't just mean the surface-level type distraction (you constantly pick up your phone to scroll when you're bored or just sitting on your butt). I'm talking about the kind of distraction that makes you think you're not doing enough, other people are "better" than you, and basically, your life sucks. I think this should be called Soul Distraction, because it's the adversary's way of making you forget who you are and what you were born to do. And when you forget that, suddenly everything is pointless and why bother?

Maya Angelou said "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." 

Isn't that a relief? So, when you think your well is dry, all you have to do is stop trying to be perfect for a minute or a few minutes or hours, and go for a walk, or flip through a cookbook, or listen to a favorite song. The only rule is that you can't do something that stops the flow of brain juice. This is obviously because inspiration requires using your brain, and if you're vegetating on your couch looking at a screen, the opposite of inspiration will begin to stir (read: that annoying "soul distraction").

Something I have always loved to do is make inspiration lists. These are the things I know will inspire me if I do them or think about them or write about them. These are foolproof. Everyone's list is different, and maybe it will help you to write one down and keep it near whenever you start to fall into a pit of self-despair and volcanic rocks (volcanic rocks are the worst kind because they're scratchy and very hard, and falling on one can give you a giant scar, don't ask me how I know).

The other rule is to not care if whatever you produce/do is "bad." If you procrastinate doing or creating something until it's "perfect," it will not ever get done. Perfection is the enemy. It's way easier to produce something awful right when you think of it, and then go back and polish it later. At least you've produced something! Staring at a blank page makes your morale plummet to the basement, like the elevator in You've Got Mail. Waiting to go for a run until your posture is perfect and you no longer look like a toad slouching to the nearest puddle means you'll probably never go on that run. Just go. Right now. Well, put on pants first.

McKenzie's Inspiration-Station
Going on a walk, preferably when the sun is setting
Going for a run (I guess moving my body is good for me, wow, such surprise very insight)
Reading a book (or pretty much anything; the only rule is it can't be on the internet)
Make a playlist on Spotify, then clean the house while listening to it
Paint! Draw! Embroider
Write a letter 
Put away the laundry for crying out loud
Take a shower (there's got to be studies on this phenomenon by now)
Read scriptures (this opens up all kinds of inspiration that you didn't even know you wanted)


being your own fan

This information is not really anything new or groundbreaking or like, HEYYY she's saying somethin'! It's been said before. But like all moments of self-realization, like a funny smack in the face from the universe, it needs to be talked abOOT over and over again (I have been watching a lot of Olympic coverage and the Canadians' accents are getting to me).

We worry a lot. We=humans. We pick apart our outfits and the relentless dry skin around our index finger and the ONE hormonal zit that decided to show its face at the tail end of a really good skin week. We fret over the things we create--probably not good enough, we say.

Last week I finally sent out some of my poems for publication. I say "finally" like it was eons between the time I wrote them and the time I sent them out and honestly, it might as well have been! Why did I wait so long? Sure it was terrifying and I'm still a little nauseated thinking about that moment when I pressed "send," but.

I couldn't stand the suspense anymore.

Do you ever wonder how much cooler your life would be if you stopped being afraid of your own ness? Your courage, your creativity, your sense of humor, your ability to hold your breath for longer than a minute (trust me, this is a real skill, because it shows you have absolute disregard for fear, and I need that sometimes)?

I mean, yeah, what if I'm no good at writing poetry? What if my cinnamon rolls are secretly really gross (guys, they're not, they have like 2 cups of sugar and an entire cube of cream cheese, you can't mess that up)???????? What IF WHAT IF WHAT IF.

I hate those two words. They make me--when I'm literally already crossing the starting line--turn back really quickly and hesitate. They make me turn outward and see everyone staring at me and remember the time I fell during that 400m dash (it was in eighth grade, you'd think therapy had fixed that one by now). And then I think "Oh no, what if I mess up?"

My mom says to "fail faster!" If you're going to mess up, you might as well start now. Why put it off? Of all the things to procrastinate, why would you put off the messy bits that, yeah, suck eggs while you're pushing through 'em, but in the end turn you into The Absolute Coolest Version of Yourself God Intended.

Yeah, I'm bringing God into this because for me, personally, I usually can't get past that starting line without a divine nudging. And that's okay, because I'm divine, and I just need a reminder. I need an assist. God is the Stockton to my Malone.

I propose the best thing you could do for yourself today, right now, is to become your biggest, best, unabashed fan. If you're picturing a ceiling fan, fine, but maybe you could switch that image over to one of those industrial fans used to clean up a flooded basement. You're going to need the extra push to get over that scary cliff.

But don't worry.

There's a trampoline at the bottom.


haunted houses

File this one under "Things You Shouldn't Do When Your Mind is Being Ravaged by PMS."

I am, and have always been, a sentimental sap. As such, I cry whenever I see pictures of my siblings as babies, hear a song that unburied me from an avalanche at a rough time in my life, or drive past the Provo Temple any time ever, because let's face it, that place was my second home during one of the harder years of McKenzie Grows Up.

The other day I was looking at housing in Oregon and Washington, just because (no mom it's not what you think) (maybe it is) (but not now!).

I already know what it's like to live in the Pacific Northwest, but if you don't, well here's a rundown:

  • Clouds. You better get used to seeing the veins under your skin for the rest of your life because the sun will only grace yo' face for two months of the year (three if you're lucky).
  • People let their grass die in the summer (those two months I mentioned). Everything is brown and shrubby and then suddenly it's green again, almost like Dorothy stepping from a black and white world to one that's Technicolor. 
  • People care a lot about marijuana. 
  • Your food will mold instead of grow stale.
  • You're not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" at school.
  • It's frickin' expEN$IVE (compared to where I live now)
  • Most importantly, you can live by these landmarks:

I have a special kind of nostalgia reserved for Oregon. Everyone has that nostalgia for the place they grew up. And it's just the pits. It's horrible, because a lot of us don't live where we grew up, and we can't scratch that sentimental itch just by taking a short jaunt in the Hyundai. 

A short jaunt to my old house is a day's drive. 

Anyway, when I was looking at housing, I wandered over to Google Maps, which has a satellite image feature. And maybe I used (abused?) it, but it was all in the name of sentimentality. When I'm dead I'll go back to these places just by teleportation, and then I can peek in the windows whenever I want and rattle the pipes and fold their laundry for them. Yeah, that'll scare 'em.

It's probably not the smartest idea to look back at a favorite place through a lens--it romanticizes it too much, makes all the bad stuff that happened kinda vaporize. But you know what, maybe I don't care. Maybe I don't even remember the bad stuff anymore. And maybe it wasn't bad at all. 

the house I grew up in (and my dad, too)

the last house we lived in before we moved (those trees used to be shorter than me)

Camp Alpine: a formative place if there ever was one


paying attention what it's worth

This is an opinion post (as are all of them, because this is a blog). If you don't like it, that's okay. The great thing about opinions is that you don't have to give them a second thought. You don't have to react at all. Isn't it great?

Once upon a time not long ago at all, I love(d) Instagram. A little too much. I kept reaching for my phone even when it wasn't there (this is very embarrassing for me to admit). Any time I did some kind of "cool" activity, I thought about what my caption was going to be the entire time I was doing the thing. Sometimes I would get on Instagram to look up somebody specific, start scrolling, get completely distracted, forget why I was on, close it, then remember, open it up again...and the cycle continued.

I couldn't sit through any leisurely activity anymore without "looking something up" on my phone (IMDB--"What else has this actor been in?" Wikipedia--"What true story is this movie based on?" "Oh this totally reminds me of...." -Check Instagram again). I couldn't sit still, I couldn't wait in a doctor's office or at the mechanic's or anywhere for longer than 5 minutes without my phone. The only "safe" place was church, where I didn't open social media apps, but I still caught myself "scrolling" during any in-between-meetings time, looking at my photos, checking the news, the weather.

I was not paying attention to anything anymore.

When you want to become a writer, the first advice you'll get, whether it's from a published author or your second-grade teacher, is to write down everything. You don't have to know everything--you just have to pay attention. Your job is to observe. The words come later.

The first time I committed to this practice was in 10th grade. My journal was a tattered, purple college-ruled notebook full of playlists, angsty sonnets I wrote about the troubles of being 16 (oh what did I know?), and observations. I still remember one day sitting in the car outside Albertson's while my mom went to get milk; a woman sat in her own car adjacent to mine, and she looked distraught. She wasn't having a good day from what I could tell. No tears, but her eyebrows met in the middle like a half-hearted handshake and her hair was just...everywhere. Not on purpose.

She was also eating Tootsie Rolls at an alarming rate. I started to worry she was going to choke because of how fast she was shoveling them in, like she was on a deadline. I wrote about this in my journal and came up with a list of reasons she might be binging on Tootsie Rolls. The reason didn't really matter--I didn't need to know. It was just something out of the ordinary I happened to notice because I was not looking down at a screen.

Now, you could argue that people-watching, eavesdropping, all of that, is invasive.

Yeah, maybe it is. But I have no idea who that woman was. If I had, I wouldn't have written about her (without changing her name, of course). I didn't take a picture of her and send it to anyone saying "OMG LOOK AT HER WHAT IS SHE DOING." I did not post this hypothetical photo on a garbage-forum so that others could pick it apart and analyze why she was doing the unthinkable--EATING TOOTSIE ROLLS HOW DARE SHE (I am not very successfully alluding to Get Off My Internets, or GOMI, one of the worst websites in the known universe).

I felt a kind of empathy that comes when you take the time to look at a person--instead of judging them or comparing yourself to them, you ask yourself how is she/he like me? And then, instead of How can I be more like him/her, you say, How can I help that person? 

Instagram had/has its benefits: you can feel connected to friends you actually never talk to IRL, you can commiserate over similar day-to-day feelings and experiences with people you might not have before the invention of the internet, you can make your life look more interesting than it really is, you can receive validation for doing things you love. Most of those things, if not all, are good.

But man, every time I scrolled I felt like a robot. I felt zero connection to any of the squares on the screen. I pressed "like" not because I actually felt inspired by the person or the photo, but because I felt like I had to, because the person was my "friend."

Here is the real truth that you don't see on my Instagram account:

  • I have virtually zero friends in Logan, save for my husband. On the weekends, we stay home and do laundry and watch movies. When we invite people over, they usually can't/don't come. Shoulder shrug emoji.
  • My weight is perfectly healthy, but seeing all of those swimsuit pics on Instagram (which I can't seem to annihilate from my explore page no matter how hard I try), I feel kind of bad about it. 
  • I cry at least once a week about what I'm doing with my liiiiiife I can't believe I still don't know
  • I want to be a more spiritual person but I am not the best at cultivating this every day.
  • I want to be able to speak my mind more often, but I usually keep my mouth shut.
  • I get really jealous of everybody's else lives, their book collection, their never-ending travels, their wardrobes, their babies, their huge twitter following, their muscles, their drive, their testimonies, their stage of life, their budgeting skills, their houses, their massive skincare collection...and on and on it goes.
At the end of December, I began to feel these familiar feelings again, feelings of not having "enough," especially time to do what I really loved, which was create. I wasn't creating anything, except some "ideal persona" on the internet. Who was she? Did I really want to be her? 

I didn't. 

So I signed out, I deleted the app, and I got out my notebook again. The cover simply says "Write." All the inspiration I thought had been completely wiped off the face of Planet McKenzie in some plague of self-indulgence came back, and it was like, Oh yeah! I remember this. I remembered what I had to do. The words came back suddenly, like a flash flood, and I realized they hadn't left. They'd just been dammed up, stored up for later, and as soon as I cracked open the dam of distraction, out they came. 

I still love Instagram. And you should know, since deleting it, I have felt more alone than ever. *Universe whispers IRONY very loudly* 

But I'm taking walks again. I'm starting to see things plainly. And best of all, I see people more clearly now. They're just people. They're human, just like me. And humans deserve the kind of attention that comes from really looking at a person--and you can't do that through a screen.


my boiled egg > my job

"My boiled egg" is not a metaphor for something. Gross. C'mon.

It is super-literal. As in, I was thinking about the boiled egg I brought for lunch during a really long meeting at work. I could not focus on what was being said in the meeting at all. I was starting to think this meeting should have been an e-mail instead. I started to daydream about spring and going up the canyon and finally not wearing socks. I imagined being outside for every sunset again, instead of leaving work after the sun has already gone down. And I thought about my delicious boiled egg waiting for me.

When you think about your boiled egg more than your job, then you're probably in the wrong job.


The other day I was listening to Queen and Houston walked past me (in the bathroom) and said, "A hair band, huh?"

A hair band!?

What a great big boiled egg he was (this is my new insult, even though I just told you how much I love boiled eggs more than my job).

And I said, "This is Queen." Sneer.

He looked surprised, which happens when somebody schools you like that.

Last night I dropped him off at school for a study group project and it was dark and I had my music with me, so I kept driving. There's not very many places to escape to in Logan...it's basically just miles and miles of farmland and backroads and weird smells. But guys, I had my music with me and it was okay.

*listens to Bon Iver once*

I ended up getting lost and, like I said, it was pretty dark (I am The Queen of Adjectives)...and since I listen to one too many true crime podcasts, I was starting to get nervous. But then muscle memory kicked in and I remembered where I needed to turn to get back to my street. But first I parked in a church parking lot to write an angsty poem. See, the 17-year-old in me still lives.

I put down an old professor as a reference for the job I have now, and they actually brought him in to get the lowdown on my skills (I really hope nobody ever finds this). I didn't know about this until long after I took the job. Anyway, he told them that I was one of the best writers he'd ever taught. Which is ironic, since there's absolutely zero writing in my job description. And now you guys are reading this blog post which is centered around a boiled egg and you're thinking "Yeah, uh, why did he say that?"

It's not a humble brag (no wait maybe it is).

And I just wrote an entire post about an egg. So suck on that, all of my previous English professors!

Eloquent. She is so eloquent.