Friday, February 27, 2009


You ended each conversation with the assurance that you wanted to take care of me.

You always used kind tones when speaking with me, and greeted me with a sincere smile.

You were clear about what I could expect from you and what you couldn't offer me, but whenever I made a request your answer was that you were "happy" to do that for me.

When there was an issue you took the initiative, and when I did, you were always responsive.

When I told you I wasn't in a position to have this conversation right now, you told me that was perfectly fine and to call back when I was ready.

When I had a difficult time making a decision you were patient and gave me my space, and then when I was ready you were supportive of my choice.

You made a point to talk to me personally about the important things rather than simply exchange emails.

You explained that you would come to me for the things I needed rather than me having to come to you.

You reassured me that if anything like this were to happen again, you would still be there to cover me 100%.

Dear Bear River Insurance: Will you marry me?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Biggest Google Competitor

It might have been 2003 when I first Googled myself. The thought never crossed my mind before, but somehow, that day, I wondered what one could possibly discover if they typed my name in the search box. So I typed it in. To my surprise, several matches were found.

The first 5 or so were 15 Bytes articles with either my byline attached or my name mentioned in the text, accompanied by my professional title. The next few had my work email and phone as they were from the UAC website.

I clicked through a few of the links – even though I was very familiar with those pages. I guess I was still into my role as “stranger” as I did research on me. I’ll admit, it felt pretty cool with my name out there, published articles and all, being the “go to” girl who had the answers to all your art-related questions.

A couple years ago I was bored and did it again – I Googled myself. But this time, my “results” were trumped by a different Laura Durham. This one was a wedding planner in Florida. She was also a mystery writer, a co-founder of her own business and a blonde.

I felt little and insignificant – kinda like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story when he walks into the warehouse and sees all the other boxed up Buzz Lightyears and realizes he’s not unique (OK, maybe not that dramatic. I didn’t actually cry for myself like I cried for Buzz). This Laura Durham seems more important and accomplished what with her wedding planning business, published novels and pant suits. She even took our name and made her own .com before I could (not that I ever had plans to).

Yesterday things were slow here at work (when you don’t have money to spend there’s only so much you can do) so I looked me up again. This wedding planner is still at the top of the Google results. I come in number 7 on the list and number 4 is a softball player in Houston. There is also a realtor and a colllege student in Indiana who is the member of some arts committee.

It’s not like I thought I was the only person with my name out there. I mean, I’m glad my parents didn’t try to be unique and name me Timberly or Banjo or something absurd like that. And honestly, I don’t come across many Lauras. But someone with my last name too? It feels funny.

So I guess what I’m saying is I have a new life mission: to accomplish something significant enough that will put me back at the top of the Google search results…although this wedding planner/novelist will be a tough competitor.

And that is the end of my vanity post.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My '98 Prizm: A Retrospective

It was late December 2000 when I bought my first and only car. I was right out of college and working part time. It was a big deal for me. My dad went with me to buy it at Riverton Chevrolet. It was used, about 24K miles. $8500.

I'll never forget the morning after I bought that car. My dad walked into my bedroom (I hadn't woken up yet) with a blank check. He was half laughing, but inside he felt really bad because what he had to tell me was that he just backed into my car as he was coming out of the driveway and scraped it up a bit. He already made arrangements to have it fixed.

Since then, my car has been to the body shop one other time. In April 2003 it scraped up a little bit on North Temple somewhere. The damage wasn't too bad. I actually made $300 off of that deal because my body shop guy did it for real cheap.

It's been a great car. It never breaks down. I've replaced the battery once, the brake pads and the starter. And most recently, the driver's door handle.

A few weeks ago I got in a minor wreck in a parking lot. The damages were assessed at $1800. But yesterday I got a call from my insurance letting me know that the body shop found more damage and the repairs are now closer to $2400. And with that, it is a total loss. $2400 = total loss on my car. My car that I drove around for the past week; runs fine. I had a decision to either fix the car or let it go. When you think that a car has been “totaled” you think “Man, it must have been banged up real bad.” But, no. You want to see what a totaled car looks like?

From looking at it, you'd wonder if I'd need to have it fixed at all. I know that water would get in the trunk if we didn't fix it. And I'm thinking it wouldn't pass inspection either. So after 26 hours of deliberation, I made my final decision to keep it. Why?

1. I've really enjoyed not having car payments these past 5 years. And I've saved a lot of $$$

2. I wasn't planning on getting a new one for another 2 or 3 years anyway. The shop said it would run just as it did before, so really, it's like the accident never happened, except if my car gets totaled again – heaven forbid – my insurance check will be significantly less. I'm banking on that not happening.

3. My insurance payment on this thing is barely anything at all.

4. If I want to go back to school or buy a home in the next year or two, I can't afford a car payment on top of everything else.

5. It's a good little car.

6. It has a full tank of gas.

I really hate making these decisions -- these "Plan B" decisions; decisions I would rather not make. I would like a new car when I'm ready for a new car. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Fortunately, my car wouldn't turn over much of a resale, even without this accident so I don't have to feel too bad about it.

Dear car: you've been good to me. I promise to be good to you. Here's to another couple years.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Depleting Batteries

A long time ago, back when I was applying for jobs, I remember interviewers asking, “What would you say your weaknesses are?”

I don’t remember exactly what I told them. Recently I read a friend’s blog where he proclaimed to have no weaknesses.

I’m not sure I would call this a weakness, but I would say one of the most annoying things about me is that I am always misplacing my cell phone. If it is not in my hand or sitting directly in front of my keyboard, I have no idea where it is. This is why when I answer your calls, I either answer it within one ring, eight rings or I miss it altogether.

About twice a week I have to yell out “Will someone call my phone?” And twice in the past month, someone I've never seen before has walked up to me in a public place and handed me my little red Samsung saying, “Is this yours?” I mean, STRANGERS are keeping a better eye on my phone than I am!

I would like to blame this on my mother. I got some great genes from her (one of her friends just wrote on my Facebook wall telling me I have her wit), but along with those qualities comes a tendency to hide things from ourselves.

Example A: When I was in high school, the portable phone went missing. We “called” it from all over the place but it wasn’t long until we figured the battery had depleted, so we gave up and just started using other phones around the house. Two weeks later I went to retrieve something from my mom’s car trunk and found the phone buried in there.

Example B: A few months ago I was at my parents’ house and found the portable phone sitting in a cactus in the dining room.

Mom’s (absent) mind has a better sense of humor than mine. While her phone is found in crazy, comical places, I usually find my mine in boring places like underneath a pillow, in my car, or in my pocket.

Example A: Last Friday I left my sister in law’s house and got on the 10600 South freeway entrance. After about five seconds (typical) I go into “where’s my phone?” mode and start looking in the normal places: Pockets? No. Little slot in car door? No. Passenger seat? No. Purse? Maybe. Searching a purse and driving aren’t two things you should do at once. I look around in there a little bit and can’t find it. “Crap.” I think, “I must have left it at Kelly’s.” So I get off the 90000 South exit, drive BACK to Kelly’s, get out, go up to the door and ask if my phone is there. We look for it, can’t find it. I ask Kelly to call it. She does. It's in my purse.

Example B: I’m trying to leave the house, and I have to do my routine phone check. I check my back pockets, my front pockets, it’s not there. “Annie! Will you call my phone?” She does…and it’s in my coat pocket – that I’m wearing.

One time, I couldn’t find my phone and no one was home to call it for me so I logged on to my computer, instant messaged my brother and had him call me. What if no one was online? I can’t be this dependent on people all the time (it was under my driver’s seat by the way) and that’s when I decided T-Mobile should have a feature on their website where I could log in and click on a button that says “Call my phone!”

I would LOVE it.

This baffles me, because while I have a near impeccable memory, I can't seem to recall where I set my phone down. Clearly, my problem is I just don’t look hard enough for things. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get better. Still, my absent mind is what prevents me from handing over $200 for an iPhone. I just want my phone to be a phone – make calls, send text messages. While combining your camera, calendar, phonebook, iPod and computer into one portable (and misplaceable) device may seem economical to many, it’s just setting me up for devastation.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The house smells funny

Most of you know my parents are in London until the end of June. My dad is the director of BYU's London Study Abroad for the next two terms.

Taking care of things before they left was a big ordeal. Getting a house sitter was something they thought about for the past year, but ultimately they decided it would be strange having someone live there with all their stuff. So instead, their three children are taking turns with the house. My dad asked that we don't bother him with mundane things such as "the house smells funny" but asks that we do tell him if it burned down.

Taking care of things now that they have left is a bit of an ordeal as well. There are various instructions we have. Some more detailed than others (like watering the plants, geez. 1 cup here, 3/4 cup there, one pineapple pitcher full -- still not sure what the pineapple pitcher is). We are supposed to sort the mail into three piles: junk mail, Durham mail and Utah Chamber Artists mail. We were asked to flush the toilets every now and then and take the cars for a spin. And I am teaching 3 of Mom's piano students in her place.

My brother, sister and I have been communicating via phone and email about when we have or plan on stopping by, but mostly we've been leaving notes on the fridge about which tasks were taken care of and when. A couple weeks ago my sister told me the house smells funny. "You know how our bedrooms smell now because no one has been living in them?" she said, "I think that's it. No one's there, no one's cooking anything."

The other day I got a message from my brother saying when he stopped by the house my parents bathroom light was on and the fan was on. He said he hoped it was me or Lisa. It was neither of us. We thought that was pretty strange. And then yesterday I went to the house to teach my mom's piano students and someone was already there. It was my mom's friend Barb who was asked to pick up UCA mail. She was there with her two boys. And she mentioned how she'll come to hang out and her boys just wander around the house and last time she found her oldest upstairs in my parents bathroom at which point, Lisa and I looked at each other, engaging in a quick telepathic pow wow. That explains more than one thing.

Although, what it doesn't explain is what I found in the microwave. I opened it to heat up a piece of quiche and found this:

It took me several seconds (and Lisa's memory) to figure out what it was. Ever wonder what carrots and parsnips look like after sitting out for four weeks? Now you don't have to. Lisa says she remembers Mom putting that in the microwave the night before they left when we were all over for dinner. I guess she forgot to take it out. Gross. I took care of it. I'm hoping that's what the smell was. But I doubt it.

Some of you may have already seen the blog I started for my mom and dad while they're away. It's linked under "family" in the sidebar. It's purpose is to keep family and friends updated on what they're up to since they ask us a lot. Mom and Dad don't blog, so Lisa and I take care of the posting for them. In fact, I hadn't heard from them for awhile so I considered putting this post on their blog, but then decided I should keep it about them and England and not about us, without them, in Salt Lake.

So Mom, Dad...if you're reading this, everything is OK on the homefront. The house is intact (albeit smelly) and despite the light being left on that one time, the rancid food in the microwave, and the power tools left all over the house by that guy who's working on the yard, things are under control, and we're there frequently.