26 May, 2008

Dead ducks

True story: my roommate's biology professor offered extra credit to any student who brings her a dead duck. Something about destruction of native plants. Anyway.

Mel, said roommate who served in the Czech Republic, and I were talking about all the special things we learned on our missions, and of course one of the big things was how to get along with people. I will say, after being with a companion 24/7 you learn a lot about what kind of person you are happy being with. Here is another list:

Traits my past companions had that I liked:

1. Being positive (Mitchell)
2. Lack of negative inhibition (Pollock)
3. Laughing at my jokes (Gillespie)
4. Being interested in my life (Gillespie)
5. Willingness to goof off (Gillespie)
6. Goal setting (Pollock)
7. Wanting to exercise (Loveland)
8. Not always needing to talk (Loveland)
9. Not judging me (Beech)
10. Being trustworthy (Beech)
11. Being funny (Mitchell, Pollock, Beech)

Traits I would rather avoid:

Of course I won't associate names with any of these ...

1. Depression
2. Laziness
3. Temperamental
4. Getting easily offended
5. Freaking out easily

25 May, 2008

That's it! That's my happy thought!

My employer bought some new movies for the kids a few weeks ago, and among these was Hook, the 90s classic about Peter Pan growing up, losing his innocence and then picking it up again when he returns to Neverland to rescue his kidnapped children. Very fun movie.

I don't know why, but last night I started thinking about the idea that Peter Pan had trouble finding his happy thought, which led to the related question: what would MY happy thought be? I had a hard time thinking of specific things, but here is what I came up with.

1. Cori's and my Senior Dance Recital in 2003, when we were surrounded by our loved ones in the lobby afterwards. Everyone was telling us what a great job we did, and I honestly felt that I deserved the praise.
2. Receiving my own endowment in the Provo temple 28 April 2006.
3. The first time I did baptisms for the dead with my own family names.
4. This sounds like a sad thought at first, but go with it: when I was 18 my dad and I got in a fight while he was driving somewhere, and he stopped and threw me out of the car and drove off. It was the middle of the night and I didn't have my phone or my keys or any money. But there was a young man on the street who saw the whole thing, yelled at my dad (which made me feel better), walked me to to a nearby business and stayed with me until he was sure I was OK. I will never forget that guy or how kind he was to me. He acted more like my dad than my dad had that night.
5. I went to the hospital for an EKG when I was 14, and the nurse there smiled at me and said, "You are very pretty." I didn't hear that much when I was 14.
6. My farewell testimony in my singles ward right before I left on my mission. Afterwards my bishopric went to my dad and congratulated him on raising "such a daughter."
7. Going on a waterslide with my mom when I was 4. I hate waterslides normally, but for some reason I was never afraid when I went with her.
8. DisneySea in Tokyo with Cori. Disneyland sounds like such a cliche, but it really was an almost perfect day.
9. The Tate Museum of Modern Art in London. Not being there with anyone in particular, just being there.
10. The many times I ended up walking several miles in some random falu with Pollock, and all we did was talk.
11. When the plane was taking off in Budapest at the end of my mission, I was sitting far from all the other missionaries next to an Italian man who didn't speak English or Hungarian. When the plane took off, I lost it and started to cry. I think he thought I was frightened of the plane, so this sweet old man tried to comfort me by patting my arm and saying in broken English,"Is OK, is OK. No scary."
12. When I brought my last poem to English 518 (a graduate poetry class) and Professor Larsen was so impressed with my poem and told me he thought it was worth publishing. He was my favorite professor and I wanted him to respect my work so badly, so his praise was worth more than anyone else's.
13. Singing at Cori's baptism 10 April 2005.

That's what I got for right now. That's a lot.

11 May, 2008


The past two weeks I've had a lot of time to think about parenting. Why, you ask? Well, due to my working ten hours a day this week and last, I have pretty much been the primary caregiver for the boys the past while. I don't know know how my grandmother did it. In the past fortnight, I have learned a lot about where my limits are as a parent, what works, what really doesn't, and what kind of mother I want to be. To begin:

Temperance: Damn rich kids. Not to stereotype, but I don't think I've ever met a child of rich parents who wasn't spoiled. Not necessarily spoiled in the sense of ill-mannered--not Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--but spoiled in the sense of given everything. I had a friend in high school who was the only child of a neurosurgeon. She was a sweet, kind, charming young lady, but spoiled. We were talking about parenting one night, and she said she couldn't fathom needing something she wouldn't be able to have. If she had been one of ten children, there would have certainly been times when she had needed new shoes, but not gotten them because there wasn't money for them. But because she was an only child, she always had new shoes when she needed them, and then some. From what I saw she had all the material possessions she wanted. She was a good kid, but she had no concept of the word "wait." I certainly don't believe in the purposeful withholding of life's necessities from children: they call that neglect. And I know how it can scar a child to not have enough money to provide for essentials: I have another friend who lived out his childhood in fear that he would get sick because his family had no medical insurance, and he feared the arguments his getting sick would cause. That's not OK either. But I think it's important for kids to not always get what they want. Delayed gratification is a lesson better learned sooner than later.

My conclusion: I don't want my kids to have everything they want, and assuming my life turns out even close to the way I think it's going to turn out, I doubt I will be able to give them absolutely everything they need either. I want my kids to have to work for things they want: like saving for a toy, for example, and then actually waiting for them to save up and buy it instead of breaking down and buying it like my mom always did.

Discipline: Simply put, there is very little discipline in the home I work in. I guess if one of the kids is rude when Dad's around, he might have to do an extra chore, but basically, if a kid is crying, all Mom wants to do is get it to stop. I believe that sometimes a kid needs to cry a little bit in order to learn that life is not always going to go the way they want it. That means time-outs when a small child is intentionally rotten (one minute for every year of age) and punishments that match the crimes with older children. For example, if a kid doesn't do his chores, he has to stay home on Saturday and do chores instead.

Silence: David O. McKay said it best: there should be no yelling in the home unless the house is on fire.

03 May, 2008

It's not like very many people read this anyway ...

So something very interesting happened to me tonight, and all night I've been internally debating about whether or not to write about it here. If any of you think its totally crazy, I don't blame you. If it hadn't happened to me just a few hours ago, I would hardly believe it myself.

I decided to write about it because I want to remember what happened, and have a record of it sooner rather than later. Plus, like I said, not very many people read this. So it's fairly safe.

So tonight I had a really strong feeling that I wanted to go to the temple and perform sealings (weddings in behalf of people who died without being married in an LDS ceremony). I had a bunch of family names that have been piling up for years, and I've been putting them off for about that long, thinking that as soon as I have a boyfriend who is worthy to attend the temple he and I can do them together. Easier said than done. Simply put, I'm tired of waiting.

I went tonight expecting it to be fairly empty, being a Saturday night, but there were actually three other couples there, and one other guy who had came on his own, making us four couples in all. Perfect. We all performed the ceremonies for my ancestors, and it was a beautiful experience. With my current family situation (remember, my parents are getting divorced) the whole experience felt kind of ... near ... to me, and so I was a little emotional and teared up a few times. As I sitting there watching the other couples do my names, one of the women came over and sat by me. She was a sweet middle-aged woman and she kept glancing my way, smiling at me, patting my hand, etc. As if we knew each other.

Finally the time came for me and the other single person to perform the last two sealings. We went to the altar, finished those without a problem, and then this woman who had been sitting next to me also came to the altar to seal a daughter to another set of parents. As those ceremonies were being performed, I started to feel nauseous and dizzy. I don't remember what happened next, but apparently I keeled over at the altar. It wasn't until after I had fainted that I remembered: I had been so excited to go to the temple I had forgotten to eat lunch or dinner.

I woke up on my back, with my surrogate temporary husband and surrogate temporary daughter looking down at me with concern. Are you OK? I lay still while somebody brought me some really sugary juice. When I was feeling better, I returned to my chair. All the temple workers assured me that this happens at least once a week. Some people lose circulation while kneeling for longer than a few minutes and faint. Maybe they just like the free juice.

This is an interesting part of the story but not what I really want to write about. The nice woman who acted so friendly with me sat by me for the rest of the session, holding my hand. When the session was over, the cute old man who was serving as sealer asked for someone to remain with me in the temple until I left, to make sure I was OK. She (I am a terrible person because I never got her first name) offered to do it, so as we walked back to the dressing room she told me a little about her life and her family. The following conversation happened.

Nice lady: This is going to sound very, very strange, but ... (long pause) while I was sitting with you, I had this really really strong feeling that you are going to get married.
Me: (confused look) [Remember, I was still a little out of it]
N. L.: I mean, here. Soon. You are a very special person. I feel so lucky that I was able to be here with you tonight.

Of course I teared up again when she said that, then we walked down to the locker room and got changed. As we hugged and said our good-byes (I still cannot believe I didn't get her name) she said to me:

N. L.: Keep doing exactly what you're doing. You're going to meet your husband here or something.

I'm trying to take this experience at face value -- as a tender mercy, not out-and-out prophesy --- and not put too much stock in it.

But still: I'm getting married! I'm getting married! I'm getting married!

At some point, it would seem.