Apr 29, 2010

Oh My...

Gems from this (post and comments):

The natural man is an enemy to God. That makes it obvious that the natural world is an enemy to God. Pavement, clear-cutting and strip mining is the finger of Jesus smoothing out all the bumpy wrinkles in the earth (which are symbolic of our wrinkles of sin.)

Persinally I think it is a sin to believe in global warming because we've been put on this earth as stewards which means we're the boss and what we say goes.

I've decided that I'm only going to throw 2 plastic bags out my window today, instead of my normal 4, in honor of Earth's birthday.

It feels good to help the earth.

Pondered all these Qs yesterday I watered our brite green lawn at noon, and then the other day while four-willing I realized look, I'll totally recycle when I remember, and that's enough bc honestly the earth's gonna burn anyways! LOL.

.....And to these I'll just add an inverse (and therefore, hopefully equally sarcastic), AMEN!

Apr 26, 2010

Prelude to Foundation

I could only find the prelude book in the foundation series. SO I read it instead of "foundation" by Asimov, but I plan on coming back to it in a bit as soon as I can find a good copy somewhere. (see, my list is getting longer already.)

Anyway, my take on the prelude to Asimov's famous series:

The writing is very entertaining. Clearly the man was a scientist, not only by profession, but in his writing as well. The way he explains the mathematical and scientific elements in his fantasy worlds is both complex and easily understandable. By this measure alone, Asimov is a stunning writer; add to it the skilled and imaginative world building, interesting character development, and clever plot twists and you've got something more than just pulp fiction, here. You've got a classic, at the very least.

Overall the message I got when I read this book was one of science reigning supreme as a force for good in the Universe. The main character, Hari Seldon, who later becomes a sort of icon of goodness and intelligence, in a way a god-figure for the rest of the series, is devoted above all else to science. He sees himself as a manifestation or conduit for scientific power.

You can, in fact, draw several parallels between Hari Seldon and Christ. He has come up with this amazing scientific theory that could change the way the Universe, as a whole, operates, and the futures of everyone in it. But he has this skepticism, this big doubt hanging over him. He doesn't believe his theory can actually be practiced and made into an actual tool. This is sort of the God/Mortal element to Seldon as a Christ figure; every character in the book sees him as immortal, in a way, because they think he can mathematically predict the future. He tries to explain to everybody that, in fact, he cannot predict the future. At one point in the novel he even says that the day he gave the scientific paper detailing his theory, was the day he ruined his own life.

In fact I suspect that the character, Hari, is a lot like Asimov himself was. Asimov believed that he was a Humanist. Meaning, he is atheist, and takes Humanism as his "religion." Humanism, summed up in one sentence, is the philosophy that Humanity itself is divinity. To elaborate on that, Humanity can create good or evil, Humanity doesn't need a God to force it to do either. And when a Human being does good or evil, he or she can take credit for those actions more fully because a higher power isn't involved.

I would argue that Asimov was no humanist. He did have a higher power. His God was Science. To him, Science held all the possible answers in the universe, and true, pure science without human bias was not only impossible at the hands of imperfect human beings, but was also the greatest force for good. Thus we see his version of a "higher power"-- pure science, the thing that Humanity is constantly reaching toward but will never quite attain.

It was very enjoyable book to read and again, I'd recommend it without hesitation. Nothing truly objectionable, either. Some subtle sexual references, a little bit of violence. That's it. The most enjoyable part for me were the descriptions of the world Asimov conceptualized. It was so very well done, and with a good balance of description and plot that didn't weigh the story down. In short, I really liked it.

If Things Fall Apart was a ****, I give this story a *** and 1/2, which I can't find a symbol for, so just pretend there's half an asterisk up there.

Apr 24, 2010

Happy 5-years, Us

It's been a crazy ride.

Skywalker and I were talking last night and realized that this last 5 years have been perhaps the most stressful of either of our lives, and also the most amazing and wonderful and accomplished. In 5 years we have:

1) become a family.

2) overcome some emotional trauma in a satisfactory way, including the aftermath of large life-traumas and adjustment to instant parenthood.

3) had 4 different Jobs (including my night shifts at the center for change) and finished grad school with no debt.

4) given birth to 3 babies.

5) adopted two more from Ethiopia.

6) bought a car.

7) lived in 3 different places.

8) saved a total of about 25,000 (and spent it. On important stuff.)

9) written four novels, attended two web-development conferences and learned a new coding language, and started and maintained two blogs for personal development.

10) learned to sing classically (still learning) and made about a dozen major repairs on our vehicles using junkyard parts.

11) had 4 gardens, each more prodcutive than the last.

12) blessed 3 babies and baptized one 8 year old.

And much more.

The white roses are blooming on the vine here at my mother's house. They have the most beautiful fragrance and they carpet the ground with their tiny, frilly-white blossoms. Their blooming each year was always a reminder to us kids that Mom and Dad's anniversary was just around the corner. And now that my anniversary is at the end of April, it's a symbol to me of mine, as well--and everything in life that I treasure.

A political post

Tea Partiers are not racist.

They are not Bush supporters.

They are not Libertarians.

They are not for complete abolition of the National Debt.

They're not Marijuana-legalization activists.

They are not fans of Nanci Pelosi, Ron Paul, or George freakin' W.

Well, the point I'm trying to make is, some of them are some of these things, and many more support many other things, as well. The tea-party movement is about as homogenous as Green-Jello-Salad at a Mormon funeral.

So if I say I'm not a tea-partier, it's simply because I find it confusing and difficult to align myself with a movement when some of its supporters (yes, just a rabid few) cast racial slurs at our president and threaten to kill him-- that is so far outside of something that I want to align myself with.

I find it difficult to align myself with people who call the current people in power "communists and fascists" (shades of McCarthy.)

I find it difficult, to align myself with people who align themselves with Sarah Palin (who seems to me, at this time, to be the nation's prime example of Political Opportunist.) (Sorry, for those of you who love sarah palin.)

I find it difficult to align myself with anyone who makes fun of "hopey changey" because in the end, isn't hope what we really do want, belief in our political leaders to affect important change? (not saying that the current president is a harbinger of all this, necessarily. Just... why use that particular term to attack the president. Isn't that an important piece of why we elect political leaders?)

IN all I do agree with the tea-party movement (or at least, whatever fraction of its supporters actually support this) because I do believe we need to get OUT OF DEBT. But even if the tea-party movement entirely supported this effort, I would be DONE at the point that someone called our president an "Indonesian Muslim turned Welfare Thug."

Even if I didn't admire Obama as a person and president, I would find such terminology objectionable. Because the office of President should be respected. Yes, Bush was made fun of. He was reviled by the Democratic party. But nobody ever took his presidency so lightly that they hurled epithets at him (shoes, maybe... and that wasn't done by an American citizen.) And if they had, then I'd find myself unable to support that movement, as well.

The fact that the tea-partiers themselves don't seem to have ousted Mark Williams and others like him, and don't seem to object to the extremely innappropriate signs and outbursts amongst their ranks, are the things that make me not want to touch the tea-party movement with at ten-foot pole.

THe point at which the tea-party as a whole denounces such things as wrong is the point at which I'll more seriously consider supporting such a movement (but no promises).

Apr 22, 2010

The saga of Tristan-- a story with a moral

So I posted a little while ago about Skywalker's dating adventures. So now I guess it's my turn. Actually, this post is inspired by a conversation Skywalker and I had a little while ago wherein I related hilarious stories about my dating experiences, and he told me I ought to blog about it. So I will.

Anyway, we'll start with the most out-of-body of my experiences: Tristain. (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

I met him in a psych class. Actually, he was the graduate-student TA, and we met while waiting in the hall before the first class started. At the time I was working for the Center For Change, and so I did more to keep up my appearance and look a little higher-maintenance, for the sake of professionality. So I was in the hall, with perfectly blown-dry hair, in uncomfortable shoes and a cute outfit, and I was applying lip gloss. (All four of these things are completely unlike me if you know me well) when I chanced to hear something funny. I can't remember what exactly it was he said, but I do remember he was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, next to a girl similarly sitting, and when I looked down and laughed at him she gave me this evil, evil glance.

Anyway, so my thought was, OK. I get the message. Hands off. Not that my hands were intending any sort of on-ness to begin with. Whatever.

But of course at that point I was noticing him a little bit more than usual. I was a single parent, so I didn't think of myself as datable, so I settled myself in for my normal bouts of admire-from-afar-but-make-sure-I'm-cold-and-unnapproachable-so-I-don't-have-to-explain-my-situation-and-get-rejected mode. (wow, that would have been quite an acronym.)

So it surprised me when he started giving me perfect, subtle hints he might be interested.

It all started with a paper I needed to make up. And he got my cell number (actually, my sister's) and called me personally about it instead of waiting for me to come up to him in class. (He left a message on Cait's cell, saying to give him a "jingle." Which totally grossed Cait out and gave her a somewhat-more-correct first impression of him than I had recieved.)

I returned his call, and he talked about things that weren't my overdue paper. And he saw me in class and sat next to me, and was dang. Charming. Verbally amazing. Sly, funny, a little suggestive but not suggestive in an objectionable way... just sort of playful; I don't know if you guys know what I mean. Anyway, I told him right up front I was a single parent (I mentioned my daughter in my request for a later duedate on the paper) but he didn't seem to be thrown by that, either. It was WIERD. Completely unexpected.

WE went out once. Talked, had fun. It was all very casual and entertaining. He was a good looking guy-- BIG, and I do mean BIG. Tall, and the broadest shoulders you've ever seen, interesting arresting features that looked somewhat Italian and hawk-like,(I've always been a sucker for that type) and good hair that kind of sprung away from his forehead. And he knew how to WORK it. Let's just say that the average, innocent BYU guy does NOT know how to work it. If he does, you know you might need to be a little suspicious.

But I wasn't purposefully ignoring all the warning signs because I didn't care. In my head it was just fun and nothing serious. Practice for when I met that Widower to spend time with in my sunset years that I mentioned in my previous dating post.

But then it got weird.

So he asked me out on a real date. At night, up in salt lake city, to a restaurant. the plan was for him to come to pick me up and drive me in his car.

He didn't show.

And didn't show.

Finally I picked up the phone to call him and *coincidence!* his voice was on the line! Apparently my ringer had been TURNED OFF and his car had BROKEN DOWN on the freeway and he had no ride and needed me to come pick him up and needed me to drive MY car to our date. SO I did.

OK, this should have been a sign, too. From the Universe.

Anyway, I went to pick him up in my 10-year-0ld mercury tracer with the slight glancing dents in one door and crumbs and pacifiers and diaper bag and discarded wipes all over the back seat.

Just so you understand the contrast and my mortification, I'll explain that Tristain's car was a saturn--a sporty little model that smelled like pine and obeyed you when you talked to it in Japanese.

I'd been kind of shaken by the whole not-being-called-almost-being-stood-up thing, as well as extremely uncomfortable about my car and how it may be smelling (I was so used to it, you know--I had no idea how it was for someone else) that I was completely in myself. Do you know what I mean when I say that? I was worried about me, me, me and it put me into a really strange place. He handed me a mix that he'd made for me. I put it in the door of my car, moved over so he could drive, and then I started thinking to myself, I'm alone in this car. With this guy, who I've only met in person and talked to at length a few times. He's not just big, he's HUGE which in normal circumstances is wayyyy sexy but in this circumstance is kind of scaring me because he could take me ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING to me up to and including HORRIBLY MURDERING me and LEAVING ME IN SOME RANDOM DITCH...

yeah. Kind of twisted, and likely not at all unrelated to the fact that I'd gone through that really really strange frightening experience with my ex-husband, and the divorce had happened only 8 months before.

So Me=thinking distorted, panicky thoughts.

Him=sitting in the middle of a stink-fest when he was used to pine and exotic breath-freshening chewing gums and the (let's face it, less-than-subtle) aura of Aqua Di Gio.

We arrive at the restaurant and he brags a little--the waiter is his favorite. He knows him. (Implication--he's a wise dater and is good at choosing his place and his waiter, thus I should enjoy this if I'm any kind of normal human being.)

I wasn't enjoying it. Suddenly the whole scene was different. It was like I was seeing it all on large-screen instead of participating; him leaning on his elbows across the table with his elbow-length, nice-fitting sweater bunched up stylishly just past his elbows, his dark hair falling devastatingly across his brow, his eyes dark and inviting...

My thought was, Holy Cow. I'm in deep waters here, and I have absolutely no way of knowing how to negotiate the currents. This is waaaay beyond what I can do right now, and perhaps ever--this boy is out of my league. Not that I'm not pretty, not that I'm not dressed to fit the part at this current juncture in my life. The problem was inside. Not only was I obviously (after my freak out session in the car) not quite ready to date, but this guy. Well, he was high maintenance in a way I didn't even fully understand, and I knew it as soon as I sat across that table from him and attempted to choke down battered calamari and red sauce and stave off my thoughts of making an excuse, running for my car and making a break for it.

That should have been my third and final sign. But for some reason I stuck it out, choked down my panic and nodded politely, trying to contribute now and then to some sort of normal conversation. He noticed and asked me if I was OK. I said sure. He said, maybe we should go to my place, I'll show you around. I said (with ghosts of my young women leaders echoing in my ears) sure.

My somewhat foggy and distorted thoughts were, maybe I could get back to that place where I liked him and enjoyed repartee-ing with him. And after all, he'd made me a mix. Seriously, a mix. How slightly naive and high school is that? And I love the fact that there was some Red Hot Chili peppers on it-- he and I could possibly get along really well, if I gave it a chance.

And overall the experience of suddenly being sought after, and by someone so clearly desirable, was too much to give up right away. I needed to get hold of myself before I ruined it and regretted it forever; that's what I told myself.

We went to his place, sat on his couch and talked. Or at least, I tried to. They were pretty pathetic attempts at this point. And he clearly did not want to talk. He kept snuggling up next to me, cozy as we talked, and then he'd get a little *too* close let's say, and I'd move away.

He must have been confused. I mean, with any normal, worldly girl and any normal, worldly boy that would be the implication of "let me show you my apartment", right? And I already knew he wasn't your run-of-the-mill-scared-returned-missionary type, so I should have expected something like that. After a couple cycles of musical couch-cushions I stood up and said I had to go home so I could get up in the morning, something like that.

He was very nice. Walked me out, and said something really clever and funny as I left, can't remember what it was but it made me completly unable to dismiss the night, and thus, the possibility of Tristain, as a failure. He was too dang clever! And funny! And overall, in spite of what happened on the date, including his attempts to be more physically close than I was really willing to be on a first date (alone in his apartment!) he was someone I really liked in a lot of ways.

But I called him the next morning, with all the resolve I could muster, and told him I didn't think we should go out again.

And then reconsidered when I saw him in class and he was so funny again, and so attractive, dang.

So I called him and we kind of decided to go out again. Sort of. He's not a guy who likes rejection (what guy does) or perhaps is used to it? But he was still nice, witty, funny.

And then I started feeling crazy. Honestly, totally crazy. It was such a worry for me, this guy-- i was used to only worrying about child care and college and my part time job and my divorce and my crazy ex husband who might find me any minute and hire a hit man or something. It was the worry that tipped the iceberg, let's say, just enough for my ship of sanity to run full scale into it.

I remember calling him, once, when I was completely freaked out, and having a funny, normal conversation with him about how he was washing his disney glasses and broke one and was sad. It was such a normal, fun exchange, in the middle of utter craziness, and so it was kind of addictive. I started calling every once in a while, even if he hadn't called me. And if you're a girl, you know that, in spite of all the ground that the feminist movement has gained for women, in dating that's kind of an unspoken (and sometimes, spoken) rule. Don't call him much more often, proportionately, than he calls you.

Still, he seemed to like me and like talking to me. He'd sit next to me in class. I think we might have gone out one more time. He came to one of my other psych classes and watched "Shadowlands" with me, one of my favorite films of all time.

But it quickly spiraled, what with his busy schedule and my freaking-out-ness, into something less pretty than either of us probably like to admit at this point.

It all sort of ended one night when I called him (disproportionately) and asked if I could come up and see him. It had been a hard day for me, and the prospect of adult conversation and perhaps a fun movie and hanging out with someone so very attractive and fun to talk to was more tempting than I could resist, despite the little voice in my head telling me that calling was unwise and going up was unwise, particularly because of how things had gone the previous time I went to his apartment.

I arrived, and he'd set out some pizza and soda. And asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I relaxed immediately (though there was still a bit of knotting in the pit of my stomach) realizing that he'd gotten the message the last time and knew I wasn't up for (whatever it was he was up for that I really didn't want to think too hard about.)

But at that point I had kissed him. Once. So it wasn't too hard for me to kiss him again at some point in the evening. But it must have transmitted some of my extremely cautous state because he then turned to me and said, "you know, I think I expect people who have been married before to give, like, sexier kisses than people who haven't," or something like that. But this was enough to even break through my crazy-single-mom-just-recently-divorced fog and provide me with a red flag.

I left soon after that. But it was snowing hard that evening. Not only was my car slipping and sliding all over the road, but it was pitch black so that my headlights didn't even go far in the falling snow, AND all the street signs were covered up. I quickly realized that I needed to go back. And there was only one place to stay.

OK, you can all stop holding your breath. This is actually the part where it gets really hilarious. I'd already kind of written him off in my head, and knew I had to be pretty clear to him that I was staying out of necessity and he couldn't expect anything from me. So as soon as I knocked on the door, (and he appeared wearing his blanket and also *garments??* Ok this guy was all complete contradictions, who WAS he) I said I couldn't get home, I needed to stay but I needed to find a pay phone and call my sister first to let her know I wouldn't be home that night but I'd make my best effort to get home before her classes started because she was watching my baby for me.

He said OK and offered to drive me to the nearest pay phone (because he'd lost his Cell and couldn't find it! All events seemed to be combining against me this night, making my life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible. Possibly it was Heavenly Father punishing me for my previous, complete and utter stupidity.) On the way, I hinted at him that I needed to stop off at a drugstore and get "supplies", partly to gross him out and keep him at arm's length and partly because it was true. (all events combining against me.)

Unfortunately it didn't seem to put him off quite enough. When we got back to his place he loaned me his sweatshirt (came clear down to my knees) and some sweatpants (had to roll, tie the ties around my waist more than once, and flip the top over several times) and then got me settled on his couch, got out his alarm clock and set it for six (all this time I'm thinking, maybe I judged him too harshly) and THEN came and sat on my legs on the couch (quick reversal of judging.) I looked him in the eye and said, "do you have any scriptures? I have to read a chapter every night before I go to sleep."

He looked a little nonplussed. "The only ones I have are in French," he said. (He served his mission in France. Again... who IS this guy?)

"OK. Well... do you think you could get them and translate a couple verses for me."

He looked at me for a moment like I was completely insane, went to get his scriptures, translated a few verses in to English.

And then he went to bed.

I woke up in the morning not very refreshed or renewed, having worried throughout the night about how wierd it was that I was WHERE I was and wondering if my baby was OK, and what my sister and roomate would say to me in the morning.

It all worked out. Loli was OK. I was OK. Tristain was OK. But the whole experience is one I'll never be without. The oddness, the strange conflicting feelings-- being attracted way too much to this boy who obviously had some amazing qualities but equally obviously had some issues that especially in my emotional state at the time, I had no way of dealing with.

It pretty much ended at that point. He came back to get a coat he'd lent me to go home in. I'd put some chocolate kisses in one of the pockets. He ate one, then gave me a (last) kiss. yes I admit I allowed him to reel me in that one last time.

Just for some more perspective, I have kissed exactly three guys in my life. My ex husband, my current husband, and Tristain. For some reason right now that's kind of hilarious to me. BUt... it also means I'm probably never going to forget Tristain.

And as a postscript: We chatted online occasionally after that. We were able to be casual friends because it never really got too far, I think. But one time he asked me, "how can you be such a good girl? Honestly."

My response: "well... you just are. It's a simple decision."

It is, girls.

We both got married within two years after that. And I'm very happy. And by all appearances, he is too. And he did get married in the temple. Something about both of our experiences dating each other I think sort of prepped us-- he needed to realize something about "good girls," and the fact that this was what he really wanted. And I needed to realize something about myself-- I needed companionship, in spite of all my plans for independence. And I was desireable, in spite of my divorce and single-parent status.

(BTW in case you're wondering-- when I came home that morning, my sister said that, in spite of the fact she knew I'd never do anything stupid, she was "really disappointed in me." And I think my roommate still thinks I did something bad that I didn't do. So-- wiseness is about more than trusting yourself sometimes, girls. Sometimes it's also about your reputation, unfortunate as that is. Especially if you're single parent living in Utah Valley. :/)

Right now we're facebook friends and that's it. And that's the way it should be, I'm thinking.

Apr 16, 2010

Things We Say

MayMay: Will it be hot?

Loli: It might be warm, it might be hot, it might be sweltering... sweltering means really, really hot.

MayMay: Mom, why I have be nice to you?

NSG: Because I'm so nice to you.

MayMay: No, you're not. (fit of giggles.)

NSG: yes I am.

MayMay: Why?

NSG: Well I give you hugs and food and clothes and sisters and brothers and a house..

MayMay: mom, you didn't make the house.

NSG: No.

MayMay: JESUS.

NSG: No, other people did, just not me.

Loli: Pioneers!

Jaws: Jesus made the Sun.

NSG: The sun?

Jaws: The Sun. Of God.

(btw I hope these aren't annoying. I've decided I need to write some of these things down, and the blog is an easy way to organize and look back through... plus I've never been much of a paper journal writer.)

Apr 15, 2010

Things We Say

NSG: (sleeping,finally. Rose is up against NSG's completely numb shoulder, having refused to go back down in crib, after teasing NSG for 1.5 hours with intermittent nursing and wakefulness.).

*Screeching electronic click, bright flashing of light*

NSG: (opens one eye, croaks:) What are you doing?

Skywalker: Your profiles were so perfect. Pretend you're sleeping again.

Squirt: Mommy I need YOU.

NSG: (pats lap) come up here.

Squirt: (cuddles up in NSG's lap, rubs fuzzy little head against NSG's chest, looks up with his blue, blue eyes.) I Love you, Mommy.

NSG: Love you too, squirt.

Squirt: Mommy, I need MILK. Mommy I need a baba with MILK.

NSG: (Rolls eyes, heaves self up, and goes to the fridge. Pours milk and considers the problem of teaching a baby boy about how wrong it is to manipulate womenfolk. Hands over baba, and has the sudden, horrified realization that it worked.)

Jaws: Mommy, look at my dance! (jumps frienziedly on the trampoline, falls down on her chest, then sticks a bent leg up in the air. Jumps back up, points a toe while making a vicious kicking motion.)

NSG: Wow! Is that gymnastics?

Jaws: No mom, it's ballet! I'm a ballerina, see? (points to the threadbare, sequin-dripping flapper dress she has draped across her waist.)

NSG: Beautiful!

MayMay: Mom, I'm helping. (Smearing a washcloth soaked with gosh-knows what over the vintage wallpaper in the living room.) I'm cleaning!

NSG: Good Job!

Bella: Mom, I want treeeeeat. Mom, I want caaaaandy. Mom, I want do a job and get money and go to store and get Caaaandy.

NSG: Not right now. Please finish your school.

Bella: (face crumples up)

NSG: (raises eyebrow, shakes finger playfully.) Hey! No crying. School.

Bella: (Mouth curles into a reluctant, gaptoothed grin. Turns back to her math paper and gets busy.)

NSG: Loli! What's your new book doing down here with the cover ripped off?! You need to take care of your stuff!

Loli: (shrugs.) I didn't want it, so I gave it to MayMay.

NSG: (growl of frustration, slightly raised voice). I gave it to you for a birthday present. It's a good book! You might not like it right away but if you put it away you might like it later.

Loli: (gives NSG a considering, concerned glance.) Ok, Mom. I'll put it away, then.

NSG: (at a sudden loss in the face of such stunning obedience) Um, right. Thank you. Take care of your things, OK?

Loli: Ok, Mom. Do you want me to do a science essay today?

NSG: (beginning session of mental self-flagellation for being too hard on little-adult child) Um, not today. You don't have to. Unless you want to?

Loli: (shrugs again) OK. (picks up book and cover, skips up the stairs.)

*sound of loud wailing blasting from the baby monitor*

NSG: (charges up the stairs) what's going on?

Jaws: (face a picture of blue-eyed, trembling-lipped tragedy) Loli hit me!

NSG: (gives Loli an incredulous glance) You hit your 3-year-old sister?

Loli: She was trying to climb up to my bunk bed and take my stuff!

Bella: (watching NSG dole out bananas and crackers to everyone for midmorning snack while somehow managing to balance baby Rose in the crook of her elbow) Mom, I love you.

NSG: I love you too. All of you guys. Sometimes you make me tired, but I love you.

Jaws: (confused glance) You're tired, Mommy? Is that why you're still in your pajamas?

Apr 13, 2010


MayMay (watching me do laundry): Mom, I cannot do that.

Me: No. You can watch me, though.

MayMay: It's very very tall. I can't do it. When I'm Mom, I can help you do it.

Me: When your'e a mom, you'll have laundry of your own to do.

MayMay: I want help you.

Me: OK.

MayMay: And I will have my own car and drive to my own house.

Me: Yup.

MayMay: And I'll have a husband and he'll sleep in my same bed.

Me: Yup.

MayMay: When I'm Mom I will have babies and you will hold them!

Me: That will be nice.

MayMay: And I will feed them. Mom, I want have ten kids.

Me: Ten!? That's a Lot!

MayMay: No, Mommy. Ten's not lot. (stretching arms out) Hundred! That is lot.


Apr 11, 2010

Things Fall Apart

Before I do this first Blessay, I must make a disclaimer. These are not meant to be literary masterpieces. They are just my thoughts. And they might be short.

Ok, so. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe.

The first thing that struck me about the writing is how very African it is. And I don't even know what I mean by that, except that it's similar to other novels I've read written by Africans or about Africans from the perspective of those who are close to the cultures they're writing about. It's something in the style of description: sparse but pungent, unapologetic. Also, there's the feeling of reading about beliefs and practices, a whole way of life, in fact, that seems very alien to me. But these things are written in such a way that you know that the main characters and the writer take them completely for granted as being normal, and so, as a reader, you do as well.

The central message of this book, in fact, is a lot about this. You read about a man and a tribe who has known nothing except the ways of the culture they have practiced for centuries and generations. It is interesting to me how the author somehow conveys this culture so vividly and completely that you, yourself feel immersed in it just by reading the story, and yet that's not even the main focus. There is so much in here about relationships, about human interactions, about the ways of societies in general. The subtle commentary is about how people find a framework in which to live their lives and explain away mysteries, and also know where they stand in society. You see the people in the story as relatable, you recognize things in their relationships that seem very much like things in your own life, in spite of the gaping cavern that separates your own understanding of the world from the way the characters in the book understand it.

In the last few chapters, you can actually feel, for yourself, the strange bottoming-out of that world as it is told through the eyes of the main character. I think that the real value in this book is understanding how different ways of doing things aren't necessarily any better than any other. Those of us who come from a culture that is inspired or derived from Western-Europe tend to more easily view ourselves as the norm, simply because we tend to dominate a lot of the word that we know about. But this book underlined for me the idea that we are just another tribe, in a sense, with our own superstitions and our own ways of dealing with the troubles that plague every society.

OK. So, that's all folks. I would recommend this book without hesitation. It does have some violence, but that's really all as far as objectionable material goes. And it's an interesting read, with an important message. And the writing is, of course, superb. (I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that a lot.)

Conflicted nutrutional messages

What do y'all think of this?

Apr 10, 2010

Venture Into Classics

So I finished my last highbrow crap novel today, (Shoulder the Sky, by Anne Perry... great WWI novel and mystery, by the way. And Anne Perry is perhaps the most prolific Amazing author of Pulp Fiction who is also LDS. I reccomend her... if you're not also doing classics for a while) from the stack I'd checked out to speed my postpartum recovery along. So now (deep breath) I'm irrevocably venturing into classics.

My goal is to not read any other book until I finish all the ones on this list. What I have done is combine the two lists that I linked to in my last post, excluding nonfiction. This, I have decided, is a purely fiction venture. The nice thing about combining the lists is the first had a great list of the best classics of all time, the second also included classic novels in the category of romantic fiction, juvenile literature, science fiction and crime. SO hopefully my list is varied enough that I'll be able to get through it without getting bogged down and depressed. I'm planning on enjoying this immensely, but as Sunny said in a comment on my post, Classics can run to the depressing. I remember my high-school English classes being frustrating for this reason. And my verdict, from high school English, is that the single most depressing novel ever written is Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton. Holy Cow. Don't read it.

So, this list is alphabetized by Author, and I figure this is as good an order as any, because then genres, styles, and periods will be varied and I won't get, as I said, bogged down. That's my tentative plan, to read them in the order of from top to bottom of this list. But I reserve the right to take a departure and delve into C.S. Lewis or Arthur Conan Doyle if I've hit three or more depressing, dark novels in a row and can't stomach the thought of another right away.

And I've also added something to this project... I plan on buying all these novels. Because when I'm done, I'll have an AMAZING library. I'm a homeschool mom and so this is necessary (in my opinion) plus, what is not to love about having a fairly complete selection of classics that you can go back to, that your kids learning how to read might pick up, that you can reference? I'm so excited to be placing such giants as For Whom The Bell Tolls firmly on my bookshelves next to Princess Diaries and Silhouette in Scarlet (love you, Meg Cabot and Elizabeth Peters!)
Here's the list:

Chinua Achebe, Nigeria, (b. 1930), Things Fall Apart
Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark, (1805-1875), Fairy Tales and Stories
Isaac Asimov, Foundation
Jane Austen, England, (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice
Honore de Balzac, France, (1799-1850), Old Goriot
Samuel Beckett, Ireland, (1906-1989), Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience
Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy, (1313-1375), Decameron
Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina, (1899-1986), Collected Fictions
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre
Emily Bronte, England, (1818-1848), Wuthering Heights
Jean de Brunhoff, Babar
Albert Camus, France, (1913-1960), The Stranger
John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Paul Celan, Romania/France, (1920-1970), Poems.
Louis-Ferdinand Celine, France, (1894-1961), Journey to the End of the Night
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spain, (1547-1616), Don Quixote
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Geoffrey Chaucer, England, (1340-1400), Canterbury Tales
Anton P Chekhov, Russia, (1860-1904), Selected Stories
Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Joseph Conrad, England,(1857-1924), Nostromo
Dante Alighieri, Italy, (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Charles Dickens, England, (1812-1870), Great Expectations, David Copperfield
Denis Diderot, France, (1713-1784), Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
Alfred Doblin, Germany, (1878-1957), Berlin Alexanderplatz
Fyodor M Dostoyevsky, Russia, (1821-1881), Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
George Eliot, England, (1819-1880), Middlemarch
T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland
Ralph Ellison, United States, (1914-1994), Invisible Man
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr Ripley
Euripides, Greece, (c 480-406 BC), Medea
William Faulkner, United States, (1897-1962), Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury
Gustave Flaubert, France, (1821-1880), Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education
Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain, (1898-1936), Gypsy Ballads
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Colombia, (b. 1928), One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Gilgamesh, Mesopotamia (c 1800 BC).
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany, (1749-1832), Faust
Nikolai Gogol, Russia, (1809-1852), Dead Souls
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Gunter Grass, Germany, (b.1927), The Tin Drum
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Brazil, (1880-1967), The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Knut Hamsun, Norway, (1859-1952), Hunger.
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Thomas Harris, Red Dragon
Ernest Hemingway, United States, (1899-1961), The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom The Bell Toll
Homer, Greece, (c 700 BC), The Iliad and The Odyssey
Ted Hughes, Collected Poems
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Henrik Ibsen, Norway (1828-1906), A Doll's House
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
The Book of Job, Israel. (600-400 BC).
James Joyce, Ireland, (1882-1941), Ulysses
Franz Kafka, Bohemia, (1883-1924), The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle Bohemia
Kalidasa, India, (c. 400), The Recognition of Sakuntala
Yasunari Kawabata, Japan, (1899-1972), The Sound of the Mountain
Nikos Kazantzakis, Greece, (1883-1957), Zorba the Greek
John Keats, Odes
DH Lawrence, England, (1885-1930), Sons and Lovers
Halldor K Laxness, Iceland, (1902-1998), Independent People
Elmore Leonard, Killshot
Giacomo Leopardi, Italy, (1798-1837), Complete Poems
Doris Lessing, England, (b.1919), The Golden Notebook
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Astrid Lindgren, Sweden, (1907-2002), Pippi Longstocking
Lu Xun, China, (1881-1936), Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Mahabharata, India, (c 500 BC).
Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt, (b. 1911), Children of Gebelawi
Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur
Thomas Mann, Germany, (1875-1955), Buddenbrook; The Magic Mountain
Herman Melville, United States, (1819-1891), Moby Dick
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
Michel de Montaigne, France, (1533-1592), Essays.
Elsa Morante, Italy, (1918-1985), History
Toni Morrison, United States, (b. 1931), Beloved
Shikibu Murasaki, Japan, (N/A), The Tale of Genji Genji
Robert Musil, Austria, (1880-1942), The Man Without Qualities
Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/United States, (1899-1977), Lolita
E. Nesbit, The Railway Children
Njaals Saga, Iceland, (c 1300).
Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
George Orwell, England, (1903-1950), 1984
Ovid, Italy, (c 43 BC), Metamorphoses
Boris Pasternak, Dr Zhivago
Fernando Pessoa, Portugal, (1888-1935), The Book of Disquiet
Jean Plaidy, The Plantagenet Saga
Edgar Allan Poe, United States, (1809-1849), The Complete Tales, The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Marcel Proust, France, (1871-1922), Remembrance of Things Past
Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
Francois Rabelais, France, (1495-1553), Gargantua and Pantagruel
Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons
Mary Renault, Alexander Trilogy
Philip Roth, The Human Stain
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
Juan Rulfo, Mexico, (1918-1986), Pedro Paramo
Jalal ad-din Rumi, Afghanistan, (1207-1273), Mathnawi
Salman Rushdie, India/Britain, (b. 1947), Midnight's Children
Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi, Iran, (c 1200-1292), The Orchard
Tayeb Salih, Sudan, (b. 1929), Season of Migration to the North
Jose Saramago, Portugal, (b. 1922), Blindness
William Shakespeare, England, (1564-1616), Hamlet; King Lear; Othello, Sonnets
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Sophocles, Greece, (496-406 BC), Oedipus the King
Muriel Spark, The Ballad of Peckham Rye
Stendhal, France, (1783-1842), The Red and the Black
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
Laurence Sterne, Ireland, (1713-1768), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy
Italo Svevo, Italy, (1861-1928), Confessions of Zeno
Jonathan Swift, Ireland, (1667-1745), Gulliver's Travels
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
J.R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Leo Tolstoy, Russia, (1828-1910), War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
Anthony Trollope The Barchester Chronicles
Thousand and One Nights, India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt, (700-1500).
Mark Twain, United States, (1835-1910), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
John Updike, Rabbit series
Valmiki, India, (c 300 BC), Ramayana
Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Virgil, Italy, (70-19 BC), The Aeneid
Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour trilogy
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
Walt Whitman, United States, (1819-1892), Leaves of Grass
Virginia Woolf, England, (1882-1941), Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse
William Wordsworth, The Prelude
John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids
W. B. Yeats, Collected Poems
Marguerite Yourcenar, France, (1903-1987), Memoirs of Hadrian

SO first up, "Things Fall Apart." Ironically, My little sister has been lobbying for me to read this novel for the past year. She always mentions it. I"m looking forward to it.

BTW, any Utah Vally-ites should know that PIoneer Book in Provo (center street) is moving locations and they are having a progressive book sale (increasing discounts until they sell off all their stock) from now (started yesterday) until the 25th of May. SO, a great opportunity to get some books you've been wanting for the right price. Plus the owner is a great guy, really interesting. He's head of the Sons of Utah Pioneers society in Provo, and very interesting to talk to (if you have a while to talk ;)

Apr 7, 2010

A Sad Story

Once there was Shawn.

He had long, red-gold hair that he kept back in a neat, rubber-banded braid when he was in a good place, and let flow in long, curling ringlets over his shoulder when he wasn't doing so hot. He had earnest blue eyes, a square jaw, and a dazzling smile. And the most beautiful voice.

When Shawn sang, you felt it. It wasn't just the gold in his tone, the way he could blast open the chapel doors with a single breath. It wasn't only the fact that, at times, you found yourself holding your own breath, almost wishing for your heart to stop so that you wouldn't miss a quiet, melodic moment. The electricity in it was the intensity, how he really felt the emotion. And he made you feel it, too.

Imagine a 9-year-old girl, watching this man perform on a cultural-hall stage. I can't remember what it was he sang; all I knew was that it was right. That this was the way to sing. Everything a singer ought to be, everything a song ought to be... it was there in that cultural hall.

9-year-old me was a timid, shy person. But I went up to braided-haired Shawn on that first day I saw him sing, and asked to shake his hand. I remember he told me I that the dress I wore was pretty. I was embarrassed at the compliment but I still remember that the dress was blue, with three ruffles in the skirt and large, dark-blue roses on it. That's the other thing about Shawn-- he saw everyone as a person. He was deeply aware of the feelings and needs of every person around him, and when he was capable of it, he was the most charitable person you could find. He was all heart.

My mom warned me against making him my idol. He has problems, she said. He's got a wonderful voice, and no doubt he was a wonderful person, but he was not someone to get attached to. He had issues, and knowing him or loving him could be a painful thing.

Those of you who know my mom know what she is. She cannot help but reach out to those around her, in spite of her own better judgment sometimes. Her heart is her greatest strength and also her greatest weakness. Shawn ended up a frequent guest in our home, close to our family, like a beloved younger brother to my mother. Over the next few years, Shawn became my friend, too. We shared a passion for singing. He saw it in me and respected it, despite my childish-and teenager-ish-ness. He encouraged me, listened respectfully, and sang with me, letting loose as much as he ever did when he sang alone. It was an amazing thing, to sing with him... his voice carried mine like a current, made it something more special, made me feel as if I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be someday.

My dad plays piano as a hobby. He has a big book of Cat Stevens songs, and a big book of Bob Dylan (his favorite), and a book of Country and Gospel classics, and a book of songs from musicals. That's what we sang back then, Dad and I, and what Shawn sang when he came over. Shawn sang "Don't Be Shy," and "Rocky Mountain High," and "Stars," and "Music of the Night," while we all listened, enraptured.

He'd come over in all of his various states. He was never manic that I saw... not in the sense I've heard mania to be. But he did come over when he was clearly depressed. And one time he came with his arms in casts, after being in a treatment facility for a month.

And he sang, with casts on his arms.

When I think of Shawn, that's what I remember. A man so beautiful it hurt to be around him.

At his mother and father's funeral, the first funeral I ever attended, he came to the podium with his hair loose, and expressed his frustration and anger, and then stalked out of the chapel. It was the first time I saw that side of him. It was scary, because he was someone I related to in such a unique way. But I had no idea how to relate to that.

My mom gave him a talking-to somewhere around this time, when he sank into a depression so black and awful he couldn't even get out of bed. Frustrated, she told him to get up and start to take his meds, or something like that. She reminded him of his daughter, and how she needed him.

He called her back and yelled at her and she cried afterward. And then a few days later apologized, and came over and sang, as he always had.

But this was the last straw for me. I couldn't see him the same way anymore. Part of it was likely the fact I was growing up, and I no longer saw the world in black-and white--people, either. I realized that, while he was beautiful, he was also dangerous to get too close to, like the sun. My Mom had been right from the very first... loving him was not the wisest idea. In a way I was relieved when he moved away not long after these events.

But he was such a part of me. And my family. I think of that upright Yamaha that used to sit against the wall by where our kitchen used to be before the big remodel, and he inevitably is in the picture, standing, singing.

I wanted him to come sing at my first wedding. He "couldn't come," but he sent me a hand-painted card. I understood. And I was grateful. The card, to me, says what a song would have, and I have it forever to remember him by, now.

My mom called me tonight to tell me he died yesterday. He took his life... something we have all been half-expecting,and half hoping would never happen. We all had hope that something would happen to turn things around for him, to make it better. To spiral him back up out of his difficulties.

This is not a big surprise. But that doesn't mean something inside of me isn't breaking a little at this moment.

So... prayers for Julie, Prayers for Madison.

And in memory:

your voice, your card; what I have left of you.

We love you, Shawn.

Apr 2, 2010

Life as we know it

Credit for these goes to Emily. And some of my kids. :)

A More Literate Future

I've realized lately (Ok, I've known it for a while) that I read a lot of crap.

I mean, it's not poorly-written crap. It's not inappropriate crap (or at least, not too innapropriate. Nothing more than PG or perhaps mild PG-13-ish stuff.)

I am snobby about the quality of the crap that I read. It has to have a well-thought out plot without any holes that makes sense in light of the characters. Characters have to have some depth and development, and I have to like at least one or two of them. Dialogue and situations have to either be humorous or very interesting.

I have never been able to make myself read classics. Well, I've read a few. Let's say that, once I actually bring myself to pick them up, I read them as voraciously as I read anything. But for some reason I have a mental block against classics, against literature that actually means something. I think it has something to do with the "veg" factor. When I pick up a book, I want to be entertained. I want my mind to be taken over. Quite often it's my therapy, my moment of escape (and thus, sometimes a somewhat unhealthy addiction.)

SO I end up reading highbrow crap. Stuff that is purely for entertainment, no matter how well-written it is, really doesn't redeem all that much. Let's just admit it.

Well, I want to be a writer. And I LOVE reading. When I read a novel that touches me deeply, I think about it for a long time. I compare it to events in my life. I talk about it with my husband. I think about what the Author might have intended, what message he or she is trying to send or portray and I'm intensely curious about how an author's life affects his or her writing, what the story says about society at the time it was written (or about the time period and situation portrayed.)

In short, I'm the sort of person who would LOVE to read classics, if only I could bring myself to do it.

SO my goal for this year: Bring myself to do it.

I've looked up a couple of lists. This one is "The 110 best books." Purely subjective, of course, but I looked over the list and agreed they were all books that I needed to read. A lot of them are more modern, which is a plus... it'll fill in the holes from this other list: "The top 100 books of all time." These are all classic novels... exactly what I was looking for. I'll be starting with these.

My goal is to read at least one book from these lists every week. And then blog-essay (blessay) about each one. I'm excited about it. I think it will be very educational. And hopefully it will help me shift my tastes a bit, until something truly worthwile becomes the thing that I like to veg with.

But... Elizabeth Peters. Anne Perry, Gayle Carson Levine, Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella--

you need not worry... you ladies will always be my heroin dealers of choice.

(rueful smile.)

Pictures of Pornography: LDS Church's new website

I'm so ecstatic! In my own fumbling way, I've been trying to create honest, to-the-point, useful content on this site for people who are struggling with pornography, with a spouse who has a problem, dating and pornography etc.

And now the church has put out a site for exactly the same purpose. THe content is much more sophisticated, the topics range more widely. I"m not sure if there's a forum for discussion or not, but I'm betting that's not long coming. So hallelujah and hooray for the true church and inspired leaders who know what people need!

Go check it out.