What’s Your Word?

Now is the time we’ve all dreaded: after Christmas. We can no longer laugh whilst claiming, “Ah; it’s the holidays” as we pop another homemade cookie into our waistline. Many of us, instead, throw around terms like resolution and goal.

I’m an all-year-round resolution person, myself. I’m also an all-year-round resolution-breaker. As such, I can’t get too excited about ‘new’ years.

For a slightly different idea, I’ve seen several bloggers come up with a word for the new year. I even read a friend who inadvertently gave a word to summarize 2021 before naming one for 2022.

I LOVE that thought.

Last year has been very full for me: job, politics and divisiveness, a close family member’s passing, moving house, pregnancy and childbirth, and COVID-19. What all-encompassing word, then, can cover that?

Pixabay

Chaos. Regrets. Crowded. Busyness. Craziness. Full.

In reflecting over the breadth of it, I’m going with Complete.

I’ve had regrets, make no mistake. We left planned projects incomplete in selling the last house. Milestones were unmet regarding when to move by. The bathroom was still in pieces and laundry piles lay all over as I headed off to the hospital to deliver #6. I can’t hang onto any of that like I used to, though. I look back with only a desire to let go.

So, with Complete, my word for 2022 will be Control.

This may surprise you. Control often has connotative surrounds; we’re encouraged to release the illusion of it or focus on reasonable expectations regarding it. The reason I choose control is for good. In my life, I’ve spent too long riding along and resenting. At depressive and stressful points I’ve complained about what is out of my hands …and done nothing to change the situation. I felt I could not.

Instead of being a passenger in the van of my life, I will take control.

Now, I encourage everyone to do the same. Yes, to take control -but also to look back and choose a word for last year. Then, choose a word for the next. What are your words? Why?

©2021 Chel Owens

Chelsea, Thy Name is …Aimee?

I’m in a mental crisis. For years, I knew my parents planned to name me something different than the one they switched to. They’d told me. But only yesterday did I learn that they’d intended to also NOT. USE. ITS. PROPER. SPELLING.

*Deep breaths* *Deeeep breaths*

See, a little-known fact about me is that I’m bothered by grammar and spelling errors. I certainly won’t return your birthday present over it, but I can’t help but notice. I can’t help but correct the problem.

A little-known fact about Utah Mormons* is that they are guilty of unique name spellings -including Jaxcon, Danieell, and Stephenie. Yes, these are names I’ve literally seen applied to people. I hate it.

So, naturally, upon learning that I might have not just been an Amy but might have been an Aimee, I’ve been reflecting on how my whole life would be different:

  1. I would be blonde. If not, I’m sure I’d have curls and blue eyes. At the least, I’d be cuter.
  2. If something were funny, I’d legitimately giggle.
  3. My pants size would be …well, at this point, about where it’s at. I would’ve had kids as an (*shudder*) Aimee, too.
  4. My husband would be named Michael.
  5. I’d be interested in “The Bachelor.” Heck; I’d know who The Sexiest Man Alive was instead of needing to Google it every time. Not only that, but I would actually know who he is and would likely fantasize about his running away with me on the back of …an oversized ant.
  6. I would get weekly mani-pedi‘s instead of one in my entire life.
  7. My favorite book would be the latest Eat, Pray, Love sort.
  8. I’d be a frequent shopper at that place that sells scented stuff.
  9. My children would also have unique names. I’m thinking Cashe or Leeder.
  10. Most of all, I would NOT vomit a little in my mouth every time someone spelled my name aloud.

And don’t say I’m overreacting. That would be a Karen thing to do, not an Aimee.

©2021 Chel Owens

*Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Business or Pleasure?

I am a Business Showerer.

The instant I’ve guaranteed ten full minutes of distraction for my cute, little distractions; I’m in flight-control checklist mode:

✔Shower curtain, in position
✔Nozzle, adjusted
✔Hot water, started
✔Shampoo, secured
✔Bar soap, on rack
✔Razor, located
✔Towel, ready for reentry
✔Water temperature, adjusted
✔Hair, secured with safety loop

And … go, go, go!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My husband is a Pleasure Showerer.

The hour or so after he’s leisurely caught up on cell phone heralds from his porcelain throne; he’s in contemplative mode:

Tap water released
Phone, atop muddled towels
Awaits naked return

Meanwhile, I take bets on whether the hot water will run out before he does.

Photo by Tristan Malpelli on Pexels.com

A Freudian voyeur can analyze our freshly-scrubbed psyches by studying our bars of soap: mine is always a flat, overworked strip; his, a perfectly-caressed quenelle.

©2021 Chel Owens

Me in a Minute?

We’ve moved. Hear that, Pete? We’ve moved!

The ‘new’ place is fantastic …and a lot of work. Every room is a project waiting to top the list. Every corner of the yard needs pruning or trimming or weeding or…

Part of the backyard, as explored by my toddler.

Still, we’re settling in. We’re meeting the neighbors. As part of this, I’ve tried to listen when our local LDS ward’s* Relief Society hosts Me in a Minute. The idea is that a woman has one minute to describe herself.

One minute. 🕒

Naturally, I’ve thought how I would fill my minute if I had a turn. I wouldn’t do that, I’ve thought. Or, I wouldn’t say that. Welllll, Karma has come around; I’ve been asked to try my hand during the meeting tomorrow.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Problem is, I’m over-thinking -for good reason. Most people introduce themselves by profession. Then, they elaborate. Then, they name a few interests or achievements. If I were to follow this format, however, my introduction would be:

Hello. I’m a mother. I have five and 8/9 boys. In my spare time, I sleep. Today, I got dressed.

I’d love to be more clever than that, but there’s the problem of the 8/9 boy draining my mental capacity. And ability to stand for a full minute without needing to visit the ladies’ room… Maybe I ought to give myself a script.

So, really, what would you say in a minute’s time? Would you write it all out or just wing it?

©2021 Chel Owens

*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is unique in that one attends a ward or branch in the area one moves to; and that this ward or branch follows exactly the same schedule, format, doctrine, etc. as any other.

10/18/2021 of COVID-19 Life

These current COVID times are odd. We live as if the disease does not exist, with constant reminders that it does.

During the worldwide shutdown, you see, our family shuttered into itself; not eating out, not going out, not accepting human interaction or even packages. Our norm is to eat homemade most of the the time but I felt too scared of the risk to try any food prepared in a restaurant.

Contrast to now: we get takeout at least once a week, go out for shopping or school, and visit family and friends and receive them. I no longer make the kids wait a whole day before opening boxes we’ve received. Our new norm is whatever we need based on energy level and access to the kitchen from unpacking/organizing.

I see friends and relatives going on vacations, attending school dances, and watching sports from a crowded stadium.

A football game at the University of Utah stadium.

I feel like everyone thinks and acts like we’re all normal. Then… every time I have an OB/GYN appointment, I must mask, sanitize, and declare my cleanliness from COVID at check-in. Many businesses require their employees to wear a mask; many politely demand or request the same from clientele. My Twofacebook feed hosts shaming and statistics messages against unvaccinated folks OR staunch personal freedom and risk messages in favor of never complying with vaccine regulations.

Unfortunately, I also see occasional posts about this person who has passed away or that person who is struggling in the hospital and could use prayers. Fortunately, I have yet to experience a close family member’s being sick with COVID.

I have had one coworker test positive. She was vaccinated. She described her experience as, “having a bad cold that went on and on;” she’d also lost her sense of taste and smell.

Still, Utah’s case numbers look good:

The biggest side effect of Sir ‘Rona is in this U.S. nation’s response and subsequent inflation and shortages.

Necessities like lumber and cement are quite expensive and often rationed out to contractors. McDonald’s was out of root beer for our Happy Meals last week. KFC said they were out of breasts. Shoppers keep exhausting our local Costco stores of toilet paper (again!!) and bottled water. When I applied to our mobile windshield repairman for a replacement, he said he couldn’t get a windshield for our minivan. When I applied to the body shop for a small repair on our pickup truck, they said we could come in mid-December.

Everywhere has Now Hiring signs for entry-level positions. I’ve read articles about supply ships gathered at ports without workers to unload or with strict regulations for the crews. No one seems to want these low-paying jobs, including positions like bus driver or trucker. Point fingers where you may, but current government ‘support’ seems to be contributing; in the words of Percy Blakeney of The Scarlet Pimpernel, “Sink me; if everyone isn’t so equal in your new society that no one wants to do the driving anymore.”

I’m grateful we have more on our side to combat this respiratory infection. I wonder when we’ll consider it finally absolved. After all, they’ve only just approved a childhood vaccine for malaria….

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Laughter is the Best Way to Cause Concern

I’ve admitted to a quirkier sense of humor in the past. Still, I always assumed my observations of humor were mostly in-bounds. I’m marginally morbid. Hardly ever profane. Rarely inappropriate. Never crude.

Yet, one of my coworkers admitted to her reassuring the others on the interviewing panel that I was being funny. She understood, but wasn’t certain they did.

Clearly, since I’m now writing about this, I’m stupefied. Bemused. Disconcerted! How long have others not understood that I meant what I said to be taken lightly? How often does this happen?

Am I funny?

I find myself funny…

I guess I should’ve listened when my mother described my sense of humor as ‘strange.’ Or, when a few blogging friends admitted surprise at my ‘wit.’

*sigh*

Have you had this happen? What did you conclude? Have you started attending Amusers Anonymous meetings as a result?

Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

©2021 Chel Owens

Really Big News of a Non-Writing Kind …Again

I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been blaming the toddler of two year’s ago’s pregnancy. You know, him and his four older brothers…

I’ve a new excuse, however: we are expecting once again.

I’m twelve weeks along, slightly ill all day, and keep taking an impromptu nap on the couch or floor around 4 p.m. most days.

Just know that I still love you all and visit your blog when I can. I write when I can. I’ll be more consistent once November comes. 🙂

©2021 Chel Owens

04/12/2021 of COVID-19 Life

I didn’t think I’d have much to report on Coronavirus so soon. Utah surprised me, however, in announcing a removal of the statewide mask mandate two days ago. Governor Cox apprised us of this plan back on April 1 ….but, not even considering the date of said announcement, I expected he and the other lawmakers would change their minds.

Yet, here we are, mask-less. What do I think? I haven’t tried my freedom. Personally, and contrary to the friends I have left after writing about political issues on Twofacebook, I’m in favor of covering up. I think many fields that benefit from potentially-sick peoples blocking their breathing, sneezing, coughing, spreading still need that requirement in place -namely, the food services industry.

True -not everyone gets to have a naked face. Our international airport retains the mandate. So do many performing arts venues and public gathering places like the zoo. The Salt Lake Tribune posted a more comprehensive list on April 8.

Most importantly, the public school system must remain half-obscured till June 15. How do I know this? I work in the public school system as a ‘nutrition assistant.’ Because of that and having children who attend in the public school system, I have been receiving a small number of e-mails on the subject. Last night’s was the most interesting: a clearly-hastily-texted message from our school’s director advising teachers and staff what to do in the case of non-compliance. He warned about a concerted effort to send children to school without masks today, an effort I was aware of because of Twofacebook. He says we are not allowed to tie the offenders up and force face coverings; instead, we must remind them of the law to which we are bound, then send them home if they continue to refuse a mask.

Laws are interesting things. I’ve refrained from writing about my job on this blog besides announcing I had it. I’m a strong believer in maintaining a business’ privacy standards. Even if some event occurs worth writing about, I keep to generals and not specifics. In light of that, I will say that “the law to which we are bound” comes up quite often in working in a school cafeteria. I MUST serve so much of this and so much of that. The children MUST take a milk with their lunch. We MUST throw out any extra food, including when it is pans and pans because too many children were out on quarantine…

Such facts shocked me at first but I’ve learned this is the standard for all food services. I bring it up because it shocked me, and because those and other rules seem to shock parents who call in to ask why their Little Darling only received the amount of food s/he did (true story).

But, I digress. We were talking about Coronavirus. Utah’s numbers look good. The number of people getting vaccinated is astounding -the last update on that was that everyone may arrange her/his shot using the online scheduling system.

…Sorry. I got distracted by the Vaccine Distribution Counter. It refreshes whenever the page does.

Like I said, our numbers look really good. At the moment.

The numbers most certainly look better than those hazy days between November and January.

I hope things continue to look up. I hope people are responsible, as our gov’nuh wishes. For, as he clarified, “[M]ask mandates does not mean no masks. I think that’s a mistake we make. So we still encourage people even when the mask mandate goes away to be safe and wear masks, get vaccinated and then we can’t wait for all of us to get rid of our masks soon” (Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune).

You and me, both, brother.

How are things ’round your parts?

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

03/11/2021 of COVID-19 Life: One Year Anniversary

On March 13, 2020, our family officially went into lockdown. We’d read the news of Coronavirus’ spread, heard about the first case in Utah, purchased some toilet paper and water, and been told that everyone in the world would be sitting tight for two weeks. I remember those two weeks-three weeks-four weeks; my …finger-wagging-type friends kept internet-shaming anyone they saw outside. They kept admonishing that, if everyone would simply pull together for those few weeks, we’d be back to normal within the month.

Ha.

Months dragged by. Here, in my introverted world, I felt lost. Sure, I had texting. I had movies. I had my family. Plus, I had writing with my blogging community. The problem was that I had no desire to write. Did anyone else feel that way?

I felt reality knocking, peering, prying into my safe existence. A horrible plague might sneak through our door in the guise of a well-meaning relative or an Amazon package or a container of baby cereal. I had nightmares of said plague in every breath my three-month-old baby took. I pictured each of my children in a hospital bed, gasping for life inside a solid building I wouldn’t even be able to enter.

At first, I allayed my panic by handling what I could. I reached out to others via text or e-mail. We learned about Zoom. And, I loved reading my friends’ blog posts about conditions where they lived. It was morbidly fascinating to be experiencing the exact same, horrid thing everywhere. I shared what was happening in Utah as well.

I also took pictures. I still do. Someday, I’ll compile them; maybe I’ll print a book for my children. I’ve captured signs warning about masks and distancing. I’ve taken phone photos of plastic dividers; ‘samples’ at Costco; bulk goods now pre-bagged; and the absence of cleaning products, water, and toilet paper. What I wish I could photograph, above all, are all the people in masks. Masks at the store; in cars; at school. It’s alien.

Which leads me to current news. The Utah Department of Health says it has dosed 936,681 people with the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov’nuh Cox is pushing to extend our statewide mask mandate beyond the projected April 10 date, based mainly on his insistence that we get more people vaccinated. At the middle school where I work, we were told that masks would be required in schools till July 4. We may, however, be considering moving back to traditional delivery of school lunch -i.e., serving on plates and trays instead of handing out Styrofoam clamshells.

The numbers are dropping.

The verbal rain check I gave my oldest for his birthday party last year just might happen this time around. Maybe we’ll go on a vacation somewhere without cows. And maybe, just maybe, we can walk into a grocery store without a face covering -all of us- fully smile at a friend we see, and even hug them.

©2021 Chel Owens