October 26, 2007
Q: What was the best thing about your life growing up? The worst? If you could go back and change one thing about your childhood, what would it be? Why?
A: The best thing about my life growing up was having so many siblings, they're awesome. I was particularly close to my brother who's a year older than me ~ he was my best friend always, although I've got other siblings now whom I consider best friends in addition to him (now that I'm making the effort to get to know them better and be a better sister). I remember as a teen asking my mom why we had to have 8 kids in our family, complaining about how it made me miss out on some things due to lack of money, and she asked me a question I never forgot: "Which of your brothers or sisters would you like me to get rid of so you can have the life you want?" Wise, wise Madre. None, of course.
The worst thing about my life growing up was my Dad's behavior. He was often emotionally and physically abusive. I don't think he was a very happy person, and this was a continual problem in our family. A big problem. It was a happy place the five days he'd be gone doing the traveling salesman thing, but the second he walked in the door, we were walking on eggshells and uptight and unhappy until Monday morning rolled around and he hit the road again, when we'd heave a collective sigh of relief.
If I could go back and change one thing about my childhood, it'd be to get my dad on Prozac before he ever had children. I think my mom would have really benefited from this ~ we all would have. He's taken it since I've been an adult and it's like night and day, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He needs Prozac like most people need air to live. I'd wish for this because I think it would have prevented many of the extremely hurtful things that happened that make many of his children not care to have a relationship with him now as adults. And perhaps he'd love himself more too.
Q: Are you a feminist? What does that word mean to you? Why?
A: I consider myself a budding feminist because I'm so new at thinking thoughts that may be considered feminist. The word feminist to me means any person, male or female, aware of the inequality females suffer in the world, who wishes to change it to actual equality. Having grown up in a church that thrives on a very patriarchal system, and having assumed this was the way God wants it, has skewed my views a lot, I think. When I stepped away from the church and looked at it with open eyes, I see very well how harmful such a system can be, especially for girls, although I honestly think that systems that favor men are also harmful for men. I recognize that most societies in the world are patriarchal in nature, and I seek to learn more and raise awareness and be a proponent for women and their right to be treated with equality in all areas of life. I've read one book so far that touches on feminist issues within America by describing the lives of a handful of women in the early 1960s, and I recommend, yea, even DEMAND that you all read it. It changed me in a very good way. "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French. Gluby recommended it and it's well worth it.
Q: What is the best thing about your marriage? The worst? What one thing would you change?
A: The best thing about my marriage is the commitment we both feel to support our children in their interests. We are both at every school function, sports event, choir concert, musical program, girl scout parent meeting, soccer game, open house, parent-teacher conference, spelling bee. I am glad we have been able to do this, since I didn't always have my parents at my functions and sometimes I felt their absence (although I do understand why they couldn't always be there since having 8 kids poses logistical problems).
The worst thing about my marriage is a lack of communication. I need to learn to communicate better without a doubt. I avoided confrontation like the plague as a child, and that is still my tendency now, but sometimes things must be discussed. If I could change one thing, it would be to have much better and more open communication, even of the non-confrontational variety. I'd like to be able to talk more together at all.
Q: If you could forcibly (but not damagefully lol) instill ONE THING permanently in each of your children (specific to each of them), what would it be?
A: I'd have to say that I'd instill the same thing in each of my children if I could ~ it wouldn't be a different thing for each. I'd like each of them to have a true sense of self-worth, a deep down knowledge that they are just fine as they are, and that they are amazing and unique and wonderful no matter what. I would have them be comfortable in their own skin so that they aren't worried what others think of them, and so that they are comfortable standing up for those things they know are right. I want them each to be so comfortable with who they are, that they can allow others around them to be who they are too. This is priceless to me. I would want them to shine and blossom and thrive knowing that they are good and worthy and amazing no matter what they pursue. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a person who loves themselves enough to follow their dreams and who is therefore supportive and encouraging of others who do the same. I want them each to be able to feel completely free to live their lives without fear and without apology.
Q: If your dad would really listen to you, AND hear what you had to say, for 10 minutes straight, what would you really want him to know? What would you most like to hear from him? Same thing for your mom?
Dad: I love you. But I don't respect you or like you very much. The way you conducted yourself while we were growing up hurt in ways you may never be able to know unless we seek professional help, which I know you will not do. I think that would be a good thing for you, and for us all. I recognize that who you are stems in large part from how you were raised, and from depression that is likely clinical/biological in nature...so I try to be understanding even when it's very difficult. I am saddened that you worry more about what the church would have you do regarding my apostasy from the church, rather than listening to or talking with me about what I feel. I wish we had communication beyond your generic birthday and anniversary greetings that go out to the entire family including all the aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles I don't even know...and I also wish to heaven that you'd quit attaching the most hideous old photos you have in your considerable archive to those emails. I also want to talk about why I had Eric walk me down the aisle at my wedding, instead of you. That memory hurts me now that I think about it as a parent and we should probably discuss this.
What I'd most like to hear from him is why he keeps an abandoned house (since 1996) here in my hometown, and why when he comes to mow the weeds there (because the city threatens to do it for him and charge him $300) he refuses to stay at my house or my sister's and instead he camps out there with no water, electricity, or heat/air, even if it's over 100 degrees that weekend. Strange. I'd also like to hear what his second wife wrote in her letter that she left when she killed herself.
Mom: I love you. You were the glue that held our family together during those difficult years. I have no idea how you remained sane with that many children when you had so little support, money, or hope. I have always admired your open acceptance and thoughtfulness. You have always supported me in what I have chosen to do, and for that I will always be your biggest fan. You went with me to Lamaze classes when I came home pregnant from BYU. You held me and listened when I was devastated by how my best friends rejected me in third grade. You taught me how to write. You supported my dream to be an exchange student, even though we couldn't afford such a huge thing. You gave me a sense of drama (*insert wry smile* yes, I enjoy my drama even if I tease you about yours). Your poise under pressure is amazing. Your love is the closest to unconditional I've ever experienced.
I'd most like to hear from you your favorite poem. You are so good at reading words and making them sound great. Of course, your voice is so soothing that you could make the worst words sound like poetry. Which brings me to my second good question...why have you never opened your own 1-900 number?? You'd have made it big, I swear it's true. ;) I'd also most love to hear your memories and stories of childhood and of your parents.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about yourself? Your least favorite? What one thing are you falsely modest about?
Hmmm. My favorite thing about myself is a tough one. I've been thinking about this for some time and am having a hard time thinking of what to say. I must say my favorite trait is my genuine interest in other people. It makes me happy to hear people's stories, to delve into what makes them tick, and to enjoy them for who they are. I hope that I'm accepting and understanding (although sometimes I fall short, I know) and I think that has been improving lately by leaps and bounds. People fascinate me and give me great joy. I truly love people.
The least favorite thing about myself is my penchant for procrastination. Holy crap, do I wish I didn't procrastinate. Can I blame this on being ADD?
I'm often falsely modest about my art skills. I don't usually say it, but yeah, I think my art is pretty good. You can judge for yourself by clicking the links under "My Art" in my blogroll. Now you can't call me "falsely modest" anymore, can you? And if you saw my price list, you'd perhaps not call me falsely modest either. I charge a lot for my greatness. :)
October 23, 2007
October 22, 2007
October 21, 2007
If I were to stand up right now, he'd stand up, shake his head fast to make his ears flap against his head, and follow me to where I'm headed. He follows me everywhere. No matter where I've been, he lets me know how happy he is to see me again. When I wake up in the morning, he's there with tail wagging, his little body wriggling in happiness as he rolls over to give me his belly to rub. If Dartman gets up before me, Chewie comes into my bedroom and jumps up on my bed to kiss me once on the nose and snuggle up beside me with a sigh.
When I ask him if he's hungry, and he sees me walk to his food container, he starts running circles and chasing his tail all the way to his dish in pure happiness that I'm feeding him. He's so cute when he does this.
When I walk in the door after work, he's just as excited to see me as he is when I leave for ten minutes and return. He's such a lover. Right now I rub his strong shoulders and feel his warmth and I'm filled with such love for him. I feel the silky softness of his ears and I want to hold him forever.
He shows me what unconditional love is.
October 20, 2007
1. First day of school.
The first day of school is hardly something I can remember. I know I attended kindergarten in Orem, Utah. But, I do recall moving to Montana when I was six, and how in first grade there was this boy in the second grade who chased me ruthlessly every single recess. I was so scared of him, every single summer I began praying multiple times a day, with all my might, that he didn't get held back somehow to end up in my grade. I dreaded the first day of school so much every year! I was extremely relieved when we moved across town in the middle of third grade. That kid scared me so much. He always threatened to kiss me if he ever caught me. I was always faster.
2. First kiss.
I was in 9th grade, standing in my best friend's living room with Cal, my first official boyfriend. I didn't like him much, but felt pressured by my friend to have him as a boyfriend. It was a very quick, dry peck, which I ended quickly by hugging him. We mutually broke up shortly thereafter, and a year or two later, he came out of the closet as gay. That may explain why we didn't kiss after that once, and why there was no chemistry.
3. First date.
Of course my first date was when I was 16, as that was a rule in our house. It was with Mike, an adopted native American in the other stake whom I had met at a bi-stake dance. He was so handsome, and I was so infatuated, that I barely talked at all during our date, for fear of causing him to think I was a nerd. If only I had talked, perhaps we'd have dated more than just that once.
4. First car.
I got to take the Wally Wagon to BYU with me, even though I didn't have my license yet. The stipulation was that I get my license (finally) and then I could drive it. What's the Wally Wagon? My grandpa's Plymouth K station wagon, of course. The first real car I actually owned I bought when Dartman and I first got married (Geo Prizm).
5. First time---
My first time was with a guy from Chile who lived in my apartment complex in Provo, Utah where I was going to BYU. I blogged about it here.
6. First break up.
I never actually broke up with anyone...but the guy I loved in high school one day quit talking to me...found out later he felt that saying goodbye would be too hard, so he ended it that way (he had been accepted to West Point) and he later wrote a paper in his English class about his love for a girl named Lisa and how he regretted doing that to me.
7. First 'real' job.
Someone from Albertsons grocery store called the art department of my high school and asked if anyone would be interested in a job making signs there. I thought it was window painting and sign design, and when I first arrived to "interview" he instead walked me through the store, telling me what my job entailed, which was making price comparison signs the size of recipe cards that hang between the Albertsons brand items and national brands. It was writing with markers in a legible hand. Fun times.
8. First time to lose a job.
My first job ended when I was scheduled to head to Austria as an exchange student. The store manager begged me to stay, but somehow Europe sounded like a better option. I've never been fired.
9. First time in love.
High school, ninth grade, when I was walking down the hall and saw him for the first time...yes, it was Mr. West Point. But he didn't know I was in love with him due to that same problem of me thinking if I spoke, he'd never like me. I loved him on and off all through high school, until our thoughts were aligned and we dated until he stopped talking to me.
10. First drink.
Blogged about that too. I was 34.
11. First Sign of a Backbone.
When I decided I wanted to be an exchange student even though I knew I wouldn't be able to afford it. I dragged my mom to the parent information meeting the night I first heard the announcement for anyone interested in being an exchange student...I had sat straight up in my desk, my heart pounding, knowing this was something I had to look into. I had never considered it before that time. I'm so glad I did it.
12. First Ambition.
I wanted to draw women as well as Blossom Lefcourt did in my 4th grade class. I'd draw pages and pages of feet in high heels, noses, arms, hands, chins, profiles, cheeks, hair. Yep. I'm still drawn to drawing and painting the female figure.
13. First Realization of Mortality.
When I woke up last of all my siblings the morning that my baby brother died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It was surreal peeking out and seeing strangers in the living room, and my parents with baby Mark. I was five years old at the time, I think. I'll blog about that another time, as it deserves thought and care.
October 17, 2007
Jet lag was a term I had heard of but had never experienced until I arrived at that scouting lodge in
I discovered cultural differences the next morning while getting ready that until then I had been ignorant of. Standing at the sink next to a girl from
When it was my turn, I got in the shower and proceeded to do my usual routine: wash my hair with shampoo; wash my face with face wash; put conditioner in my hair and leave it in while washing the rest of my body with soap; rinse conditioner out; turn off water. It wasn’t until I was standing at the mirror drying my hair and applying my makeup that I noticed something strange. The girls from
We had five days of orientation at this lodge before our host families were due to pick us up. There were about five Austrian volunteers who were in their early twenties. Each had been exchange students previously, so they understood what we were going through. We would break into smaller groups between meals and have lessons (in English) on Austrian culture while sitting out in the mowed field surrounded by lush trees and greenery. Over half of us were American, and the European exchange students spoke English as well as we did.
We were taught basic German words we would need to know. Philip, the handsomest of the volunteers, taught us how dialects differ in various areas of
We were instructed that during meals, proper etiquette in
During my orientation days, I also noticed one thing. I was very aware of how loud and obnoxious the majority of the American exchange students were. While outgoing, I was a lot more reserved and observant during those days. I was drawn to two Swedish girls, a French girl, and a Danish girl. We got along really well, and we would spend free time together, talking about our host families, sharing pictures, poring over maps to see how far away we’d live from each other. We knew we’d be coming back to the scout lodge about once every three months, so that was something to look forward to. We shared our fears that we would end up in a family we didn’t get along with.
On our final day, there was a different feeling as we all ate breakfast. This was it! The day our families were to come and take us home. We were all less talkative and trying to not look apprehensive, when in reality we were all nervous as hell. What if we never learned the language well enough to communicate? What if the language didn't suddenly click with us at around the three month mark like the volunteers assured us would happen? What if they didn’t like us? What if we didn’t get along? The length of a year never seemed so long before. After breakfast, we all packed our suitcases and dragged them outside in the morning sunshine to wait for our families to collect us. I sat with the Swedish girls and suddenly one of them sat straight up and smiled, and we could see that she recognized her host dad from his photos as he walked across the clearing with a smile on his face for her. She gave us a quick smile before heading off into the unknown. The same happened with my other friend a few moments later.
Suddenly a small, red car pulled up and three people got out. It was my host mom, her oldest son (age 20), and youngest daughter (age 12). I stood up, my heart beating out of my chest, and they walked toward me. With tentative smiles on all our faces, we shook hands and carried my things to their car. My journey had officially begun.
October 15, 2007
I'd finish writing the next chapter tonight, but find I'm too tired.*
*It's a good kind of tired. You know, the kind that comes from a full and busy Monday at work. Get your mind out of the gutter!
October 11, 2007
This week is also homecoming week for my son at high school. Each day they have a different dress-up theme. It's been a fun week around here. Two nights ago, we shopped for him to dress as a movie character. He decided to go dressed as a "mean girl" from the movie Mean Girls. It was pretty funny watching him try on mini skirts, and then high heels...he was so confident that he would be able to do it, and he almost broke his ankle twice in three steps! I haven't had a good laugh like that in a long time! He refused to let me post the pics of him. Damn.
So yesterday morning I had to help him don makeup, which was another adventure. Ever seen an eyelash curler being wielded by the big, knuckly hands of your goalie son?? Hilarious.
Today he went to school as a nerd. He wore his old Sunday pants that are five inches too short, and a white shirt with black bow tie, hideous shoes, and Gumby cap with a really long bill that he bent upward. He also wore a huge old pair of my glasses (lenses removed) that he taped in the middle. Classic. He has guts, I have to hand him that.
What a great week.
October 9, 2007
**Chewie is doing much better (thanks to all who asked). He's been jumping up on the couch and chasing his tail and wanting to play again, which means he's feeling better. I wish I knew how to train him to not jump on and off the couch. He's gonna hurt himself again. I love his little self.
**I'm drinking a caramel latte this morning and I do believe it saved my life.
**Fall is here, and a few weekends ago we drove to a town a few hours away, and I forgot my camera. I was so bummed, because the black walnut trees, the aspens, and the red shrubs on the mountains were just gorgeous. The cottonwoods are most prevalent and they are changing color now too. Gorgeous.
**The other morning it was raining and my daughter ran into my bedroom to inform me it was SNOWING! So she opened my blinds and we laid in my bed and watched the large flakes magically falling in slow motion, to melt on the green grass in the rain. It was beautiful. I love rainy days, and snow is beautiful every time I see it while warmly wrapped in my comforter with my daughter snuggled close.
**I have a couple of good blog posts brewing...I hope to get to that soon. Sorry I've been lax in writing more in my blog. It happens sometimes.
**I'm afraid to read or listen to the talk from General Conference by the token female speaker, who apparently spoke on the wifely duties of women that apparently were ripped straight out of the 1950s. I can't wait to sink my feminist teeth into that one.
OK, I gotta get my ass back to work.
October 4, 2007
computers, sex, and denial in the living room
One Christmas season, we were visiting my in-laws. Newly married, I was enjoying getting to know my husband's family. One night, we were gathered in the living room playing a game. I got up to get a snack, passing by the computer in the family room on the way to the kitchen. My father-in-law was at the computer. I glanced at the computer screen--okay, I'm nosy--and saw that he was at a website that contained several links to calendar girls. You know, naked ones.
I kept walking by, and thought that I must have been mistaken. I only caught a quick glance and wasn't sure what I saw. There's no way my devout Mormon father-in-law would be checking out...No.
I grabbed my snack and went back into the living room. A little while later, I walked by again to get a drink. My father-in-law was still at the same website. And I could tell now that it was definitely what I thought it was. Yep. Porn. Back in the living room with the rest of the family, my brain started working hard on denial. Surely he was only on that site by mistake. He's not of a computer savvy generation and just followed a link he shouldn't have and accidentally found himself here. Right?
Out of morbid desire to know for sure--or perhaps, a certain lack of boundaries about other people's business that Mormonism bred in me--I walked by the computer again. This time, I saw he was printing something out. A picture. I only saw a couple inches worth as I quickly walked behind him, but I could tell it was a whole lot of flesh color. I was shocked and appalled. Curiosity just got the best of him, and, I mean, he's only human, right? This is exactly what the Brethren warned against, isn't it? You get one glimpse, and suddenly you're sucked in and your marriage and life are ruined. How could he be so stupid? I walked back through on the way back from the kitchen, almost as a "I know what you're doing" statement and saw he had folded up the picture and tucked it into his shirt pocket.
I returned to the living room, angry and confused. I tried to play the game with everyone, but I was distracted. My father-in-law disappeared into his bedroom, and came out a while later, hair disheveled and a goofy grin on his face. No way. He did not just--oh, my gosh--how could he? What do I do? Granted, he probably hasn't done it with his wife in years, but, jeez. This in pornography, the bane of modern existence. I sneaked away to the computer and checked the history. His sins were confirmed: there were several jpgs, all of them named female names. I didn't click on any of them myself. Too dangerous. Besides, I didn't want to see any naked women. Gross.
It all made sense now. The computer viruses, the raunchy pop-ups on the screen when you least suspect it. He's been downloading things, all sorts of cookies and junk infecting the computer. Everyone had been wondering what the heck was wrong with the computer, why there were so many porn ads popping up. I had been too innocent to suspect any of the teenage boys, or even that someone in the house was viewing porn sites. I just figured those evil-doers who make the sites are also good at finding ways to infect random computers. You know, like the Brethren said, it catches you unawares.
I was angry. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been that angry. I had to do something. Something. But what? Confront him? Ugh, too embarrassing. I hardly know him. Tell my husband? What good would that do? Make him mad, too? That would just be gossip, and the fewer people who know about his sin, the better. Tell my mother-in-law? Yeah, that's probably good. She should know. She should know that their marriage is about to be ruined by some insidious pictures from the internet. But how do I tell her? That's just so awkward.
I seethed and thought the rest of the evening, but didn't say anything. Then it hit me. Whose business was this, more than anyone else's? The bishop! Yes, I could tell the bishop. But how? I'd heard of people slipping notes to bishops to let them know about other's sins. I could do that, write a note that my father-in-law has something to confess. Yeah, that'll work.
The next day was Sunday, and we all packed in the car to head to church, like always. I was so mad at my father-in-law I couldn't stand to be near him, or even look at him. He happened to sit next to me in the pew. I tensed up and scooted further away from him, trying not to make it obvious. I sat there thinking about my plan to tell the bishop, wondering how to word it. But I wasn't sure, still, if that's what I should do. I thought and thought, just as angry and confused as ever. Finally, I prayed, "What should I do?"
And then it hit me. I should do nothing. At the time, this came to me as, "That's between my father-in-law and the Lord." I felt the Spirit was telling me Heavenly Father would take care of it. I felt relieved, a burden gone from my shoulders. The Lord knew, and would deal with it in His own way.
I never told. I kept my little secret, and smugly noticed that next time there was a temple wedding, he didn't attend. His wife gave some excuse about forgetting to get his temple recommend renewed. I figured that his bishop had found out somehow.
Since then, I've changed my mind about the church, and have reinterpreted the Spirit's little message to be my then-devout way of realizing a simple truth: It was none of my business.
Now, the Brethren's fearful advice seems overblown. There are plenty of far more important things the supposed leaders of the True Church of God on Earth could be preaching about than men's solo sex lives.
October 2, 2007
We knew he had hurt his back again.
He cried a lot that night, and this was worse than the other two times his back was hurt. I barely slept, and kept hearing his cries and would go to him and give him loves while he shook and whined. The next morning we took him to the vet.
I carried him inside wrapped in his blanket, and they took him with his blanket to check on him. Within a minute, the vet came back and said she was keeping him over the weekend, to restrict his movement and prevent further injury. I felt bereft, like I didn't get to say goodbye! This is not like me, and I shocked myself even further by saying to her, "Would it help Chewie if I brought him a stuffed animal from home?"
In looking back, I seriously can't believe 1. that I'd say such a thing, or 2. that she held a straight face as she replied, "I'm sure his blankie is enough."
We were able to bring him home on Tuesday after four nights of his being away. He had obviously been in a small cage ~ probably made of chain link fencing because his nose had a big sliced scab on the top near where his facial hair meets his nose. This week that scab fell off and now there's a big pink smooth spot where black nose should be. I hope he's not scarred for life. Either way, he's gorgeous to me.
He's been on Prednesone to reduce swelling in his joints/vertebrae. This (or his trauma at having been in a small cage for days on end) has created an unfortunate side effect. Three days ago, he peed on the living room carpet. Yesterday, my husband got home from work to find he had pooed on the carpet too. Last night, after my son's soccer game and dinner out, my husband got home first, and when we walked in, we found that while Dartman was busy, Chewie had pooed again. This morning, I saw that he had jumped up on the back of our couch (which we had failed to rig with cushions standing straight up to prevent his jumping up there) and peed into the back cushion where it had run down into the seat cushion too. Three times this week he's gotten into garbages he never touches and shredded kleenex and other stuff all over.
That had better be the last incident. This sucks. Oh, but his back seems to be much better, thank Jeebus.