Friday, November 25, 2011

The Most Influential Man of My Childhood, Jim Henson.

I saw The Muppet Movie in the theater. And I still remember the first thing I thought when I heard the opening banjo, I thought how much Kermit reminded me of my grandfather Paul. Simple, kind, silly, kinda corny but an all around good hearted creature. He also had really long legs. I was hundreds of miles away from my grandfather but I felt close when I watched The Muppet Show.

Today when we went to The Muppets I laughed and I cried from the first frame until the musical number at the end. Jason Segel was perfect. Pitch perfect. He was also one of the writers, which was a stroke of brilliance on whomever's part. For the last week as a family we have been on using the Whatnot Creator which you can use here:

Today Mindy Gledhill's video for Winter Moon that I worked on came out. I got to do the Art Direction, so I was the one that made the twinkle trees and painted the banjo and made fake cakes and did Mindy's makeup. But I also got to puppeteer the snowman. So today, I watched The Muppets and then came home and watched a documentary On Demand about Jim Henson and then I also got to watch my first time ever as a puppeteer. And I cried like my daughter got married. And then I squeeled and clapped. And then I cried some more. But mostly squeeled. I told Brett that it was like I caught some sort of virus. A puppeteering virus. And he said it was OK. And I said, "Yeah, but I'm...40." And he said that it was never too late to find something you love to do. And this is why my husband is the coolest guy and the best husband in the entire universe. Because I told my husband I wanted to puppeteer and he said, "Cool".

So here it is...Winter Moon starring Mr. Snowman. And, oh yeah, Mindy Gledhill. ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shooting Mindy Gledhill and Friends for Winter Moon.

Sat was hilarious. If you haven't read my status yet, I am ditching Art and becoming a Puppeteer. OK not really but I certainly have found a new hobby. Hey, it's not for the weak, it was like doing yoga for 13 hours solid. Word.

Thanks go out to Jed Wells, Chris Clark, Mindy Gledhill and Nat Reed and his Constant Moon Puppet Co crew!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bitter Tooth.

I went to one of those reconstructive dental places yesterday. And I was told the SAME thing I have heard 100,000 times before, which is that I am not alone in my odd dental situation but that there is nothing they can do. I was given the name of an oral surgeon which happened to be someone I have already seen and could "do nothing" so I have officially come full circle. I have baby teeth. And I have the grown up teeth that should be where the baby teeth are impacted in the roof of my mouth and it's been just an annoying thing until recently when the bone on bone action has been making my gums recede and now I can't eat ice cream. Yes, I wrote bone on bone action, let it go.

When I was a kid my sister had braces and retainers. I'm not incredibly sure why, with only 16 months difference between my sister and I, my parents didn't also take me in but it ended up being a fateful decision. My father then lost his dental insurance due to some kind of judgement call by a pencil pusher in the school district head office or whatever the school district calls their offices where they run things from. So I did not have dental insurance until I was in my 20's. And it was quite a surprise to hear I had baby teeth in my mouth. I thought those things kind of took care of themselves. I should have gotten braces then but in my 20's I was already supporting myself through college and the idea of taking on 5 grand in debt blew my mind. Then I got engaged and paid for my own ring, my wedding photos, my invitations, my reception and my apartment. I also was paying for my fiance because his folks didn't believe if they put him through school he should hold down a job. So I just had veneers put over my tiny eye teeth and went about my life. My mother at one point took me to the WORST hack dentist that gave me retainers that spread my teeth and I wore forever and never went anywhere. The same guy ended up pulling my wisdom teeth and didn't wait for the anesthesia to kick in and I screamed through the entire procedure. If I had been a stronger person I would have just gotten out of the chair and ran and then slapped him with a giant lawsuit. As it was I let him finish the procedure in hopes the meds would kick in any second. My mother could hear me screaming from the front and asked to come back and see me, instead of breaking down the door like I would have if my kid was SCREAMING. Later when she called to give them a piece of her mind they offered to cut our bill in half and she took it. I would have told them I wasn't paying them one red cent but there you see the difference in our parenting styles when she was my age.

SO I have lived with the veneers, which I had to replace once when I kept having issues with chewing, and I have them still today. All in all I have to have four teeth pulled and then the roof of my mouth opened up and the two grown teeth impacted in there removed, then bone grafted. I'd then have to wear a plate with fake teeth while the bone graft heals. Then they'd go in there and bolt four new fake teeth into the gaps. But once I have those four fake teeth they can't actually put braces on so even still, my teeth will not be STRAIGHT. All of this should cost just about 10 grand. So I live with my messed up grill and I intake my ice cream in the form of shakes and enter a bunch of online contests that offer free dental makeovers. And I sit and stew in my frustration and anger over everyone and their normal parents and their perfect teeth which is pretty much all day every day seeing as how I work in film in the state of Utah, land of white straight perfect teeth. I watched Soul Surfer last night, which by the way is the dumbest title for a film pretty much ever, and I'm looking at this girl who doesn't think she's beautiful because she has lost an arm and I'm like, "Yeah but seriously, her teeth are friggin perfect."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Email to an Old Friend

I would say I'm a liberal. I don't believe in corporal punishment anymore because if the state of Texas can posthumously exonerate 17 executed men via DNA evidence, that is all I need to know about that. I believe in Gay marriage because we have our temple, we get married there, so why not let them do their thing?? (That's rhetorical.) I believe women have the right to abort a baby safely if it's life threatening or in the case of rape and incest preferably if it's very VERY early term (morning after pill is the best option IMO in these abhorrent scenarios.) I do constantly think and re-think my opinions and I have a hard time saying, "This is what I believe in" and putting an eternal stamp on it because I'm willing to be wrong and I'm open to changing my mind, like I did about the death penalty, which I used to be hugely in favor of after I studied criminology.

The one thing I do believe in is the importance of the government's welfare system and ORS. And recently when a friend respectfully commented in the contrary to something political I posted on Facebook I did take time to think about what he posted, because he made good points, points I had often pondered about myself. But here is what I wrote in the email I sent to him after. It wasn't a smack-down and it wasn't an IN YOUR FACE DUDE retort so if you're looking for that crap, go to YouTube and look at the comments on cat videos. I'm just posting it to be posting it. Here it is, almost in it's entirety:

I know this isn't going to change your views or anything, I'm just hoping to explain why I believe so strongly what I do and lend a little "liberal" perspective. For me this debate is highly personal because during my first pregnancy I was cheated on. Oh no, wait, it gets worse. The second man who knocked me up left me *because* I got pregnant. The world is getting worse and grown people are not taking care of their own anymore, they are more interested in money, status and playing around. I was pregnant and homeless with a 4 year old and one baby daddy who wouldn't pay ANY child support. I needed ORS to go after BD #2 on my behalf because when I went to him to negotiate support he said not only would he not pay, he was suing ME for getting pregnant. True story.

The reason I tell you this is because for every crack addict who abuses welfare or subsidized daycare or whatever, there is a decent person who NEEDS it to survive a massive unforeseen personal catastrophe.

My family believed I should learn to stand on my own two feet, never mind there were actually 6 feet standing in my shoes, and my church actually said no to assisting me financially. My bishop told me to get a cheaper apt. (I was already splitting the rent.) He also told me I should instead pay them, in the form of tithing, which was hard to hear, but I'm grateful because that happens to be a true principal that changed my life...

People at facilities thought because I "looked" capable/middle class and seemed fine mentally I didn't need their help, so I was last priority. But it was the government that helped me, without condition, to get free DNA testing done in order to force him to pay child support and to get back support in order to feed my kids. I also received a daycare subsidy while I worked three jobs before support kicked in. If I had to do it all over again, I would have quit, accepted more assistance and stayed home with my baby. I have worked and paid taxes since I was 14, I earned that help. The government was there for me when no one else was and it made me fiercely loyal. I had case workers that became a great source of support. It HAS to be the government that meters out this kind of massive, wide spread, unconditional assistance. I don't think, I KNOW, others won't always be there for you like you think they will.

I would also like to state that one person did step up and help me, and that was my ex step-sister Amanda, who not only was there for me during the pregnancy but after and even watched my baby for me while I worked, even though she struggled with the pain of chronic ear infections that kept her from being able to do the job she loved. She is what being Christian looks like. She cheerfully went about helping me through the single worst time of my life by reading scriptures with me and praying with me and holding my knees while I had contractions. No judgements, just love in action. She deserves all the miracles that have happened for her, I'm happy to know her. But since we aren't all blessed with a team of Amanda's at our disposal (everyone should be so lucky) I believe strongly in Government assistance for the needy. I believe in Welfare. I believe in ORS. This is what I believe in, *eternal stamp.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reality Doesn't Bite as Much as Delusion.

The 90's have been everywhere for a while but I wasn't in the full throws of 90's nostalgia until yesterday. First, I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio driving to the State Fair. I found myself gripping the steering wheel and recalling with perfect clarity a night out dancing with Amy and Liz when that song exploded over the speakers at the Ivy Tower and the place just blew up. Secondly, on the way home my iPod played August and Everything After by Counting Crows and I pictured the Sundance Party I was at with Adam Duritz, Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette and I swear Paul Rudd but it may have been Jack Plotnick, memory is a tricky thing. I shouldn't have "gone there" though because that party brought back with it the memory that after many dirty martinis David and I "Night at the Roxberry-ed" Sean Gullette while Darren Aronofsky watched on from the balcony in between fits of laughter. Once home I put the kids down and Google Imaged "The 90's". That's where it kicked me in the rear end like a really obvious combat boot simile, I had to watch Reality Bites.

This movie was the impetuous for a lot of things for me when it came out. But me being in my early 20's and stupid it wasn't the impetuous for what it should have been, namely me trying to become like Winona's character in the right ways, say by studying film and becoming class valedictorian. I wish it had. Instead it inspired me in all the wrong, superficial ways. I already had the divorced parents and the wardrobe but I didn't smoke, have a messy short hair cut and a best-friend turned boyfriend. I set about remedying all of that. Being too egotistical to accept that in reality I needed a much more feminine face to carry off a short hair cut and that it takes a lot of hair styling talent and money to produce perfectly messy results I ended up with a bad $20.00 cut from a Hair School Sophomore. Then I tried to kiss my best friend. You can read about that HERE. I had never entertained the idea before, I knew there was a line in the sand, I also knew if he found me even remotely attractive he would have cared to try something. But he was going with friends to see the film, and I felt that if he were going, he needed to be thinking about me.

I spent the 90's much of this way. Working retail, wishing I was anything and anyone other than what I was. I wanted to be Winona, I wanted to be the amazingly cool redheaded window dresser we had that came into the store once a month or so, I wanted to be my Manager at JMR. I wanted to be like everyone else, but not me. I wanted to be amazing and beautiful and I wanted attention and I wanted to be the center of the universe. And everything I did was some kind of attempt at attention, at soothing my broken heart, my broken soul, my enormous friggin ego. It was all about me me me. The best part is that every single solitary time I tried to elevate myself I crashed and burned incredibly hard. Back then, I was confused about how to get what I wanted. I thought I could make things happen just because I wished them to come to be. But the things I wished to exist were not based in reality. They were based in delusion.

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I was really happy. I don't know if in my lifetime I have ever had a moment when I thought I was really happy. But in the car driving to Ikea with Brett and BR I had the realization that we had a fun house we were decorating and I loved my job and the kids were growing up and becoming super funny/ great people and I was just really happy and blessed. The difference between then and now is 100% ego. The reason why I did any of the things I did back then was ego. It was about creating something, yes, I was trying to create my reality, but I was using delusion to do it. I was doing what my Step-Mom called "Futurizing". I would imagine in my mind a future day when my hair looked like X and my boyfriend was Y and it would = Happy. I thought I could Art Direct my life, but reality isn't a film you can Art Direct into awesomeness.

My mom says that in all of us there is a God shaped void. And people try and put sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, food, alcohol, what have you inside of it and are confused when the results don't turn out. That was the entire 90's for me. I was taking Winona and putting her into the God shaped hole in my heart. That may be the weirdest sentence I've ever written but there it is, and I think you know what I mean by it. If you don't, I don't know what to say to you. Have you SEEN her in that movie?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The $200.00 Diet Dr Pepper.

I told the girls at lunch today about breaking my phone. Right now I'm not able to call out on my phone but I am able to accept incoming calls, which of course begged the question, "How did that weirdness happen?" And to answer I had two choices...sip my drink and shrug my shoulders and look away and point at something outside...or I could tell the truth. I told the truth. The truth is that I went to Target with a fever because I wanted Missoni so badly.

Carina texted and told me that there were still a few little girl's items left. But that I had to hurry because all the Missoni was flying off the shelves. Now, it had taken me five hours to wake up, get out of bed and onto the couch where I received this text. I got the kids off to school, then went back to bed until after one. One week of little to no sleep every night and 18 hour days of hard physical labor and shooting and oddly, my body kind of gave out. This is the relationship I have with my body, I expect it to do what I want, when I want it to, Hashi's or no Hashi's. I have little sympathy I'm rocking a disease. I also think I should be able to eat and drink what I want and it should have no bearing on whether or not my body performs. In fact, I'm sort of bewildered still when I can't make it function on no sleep and maybe a grape for breakfast. In short, I am my own Russian gymnastics coach.

Five hours it took me to get to the couch and four minutes to get dressed and into my car when I read the words, "Missoni" and "Target" in the same text. I drove over there with the air conditioning cranked and cash already in my planner. I grabbed a sick amount of stuff with the idea that I should let Boo try stuff on and tell me which ones she liked. "She can't keep it all," I told myself, "So I'll let her choose her favorites. But I'll have to buy it all first because if I don't, it will all be gone." You see how my fever mind is working...

So I pack the cart, but in my defense, I did put back two pairs of shoes (for me), mugs, and one pair of galoshes for B so my total could have been so, so much worse than it was. I head to the register and I decide, fatefully, to buy a Diet Dr Pepper. I hadn't eaten yet that day and I felt light headed, but I was also wearing skin that was intentionally overheating to kill off foreign entities that it deemed dangerous to my person. I am basically the temperature of convenience store cocoa. I may have even had pit circles...I don't know. On the drive home I get a call from my kids who are just walking in the door and wondering where I am. I let them know I am three blocks from home. I feel awful though, from being sick, yes, but also because even if my kids beat me home by just three measly minutes I feel like the worst mother in the world. Never mind they know to lock the doors and that my oldest is four years older than I was when I babysat a family of four boys every day after school. I grabbed my bags and ran inside the house, but not before I threw the Diet DP into my purse to bring it into the house because my hands were full of friggin MISSONI BAGS. I put my purse down on the floor and gave the Missoni over the the girl who loved everything and of course gets to keep everything. I walked past my bag after showing everything to the girl and said out loud, "Why is my purse in a puddle on the floor... MY PURSE IS IN A PUDDLE ON THE FLOOR!" The DP had tipped on it's side, and I had not tightened the lid.

When I showed my phone to the guy at the Apple store (after primping my sorry old lady self up in a sad attempt to garner male favor) he opened it up and said that all four of the red sensors at the openings that tell them if a phone has been wet were tripped and showed me the condensation still on the inside of the plastic. He handed me back my phone and not only told me there was nothing he could do but tried to sell me on a new computer and some classes. Sadly, I don't still "got it". I bet if I had a half-hawk and good teeth I'd have a new phone right now.

The moral of this story is...I don't have a clue. Don't go shopping with a fever? Make sure you turn your drink lid one extra twist before putting it in your purse? Wait, maybe it's before you buy a soda, ask yourself, is this Dr Pepper worth the contents of my purse and a humiliating trip to the Apple store? Cause sometimes, you know, the answer would still be yes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What It Looked Like.

I was married once before. It's true. I never talk about it. Some of my best friends don't even know anything about it. My ex-husband recently found me on FB and I have been thinking a lot about our marriage since then. I usually try not to. I was 21. I didn't know my own mind, I was sad and terribly heartbroken. I was "inactive" in my church, I had no support system, no job, no money, no Kurt Cobain. I was trying to stop drinking and I was trying to leave my party friends. I was in an apartment near BYU and so I started walking to Annie's Video and renting 3-4 videos a day in an attempt to not drink or see my friends. I decided that I was broken and I would never be in love again, that I should just find someone who could accept me, someone I could be friends with, and I should settle down. Yes, that must be the answer to all of my problems. I should get married.

He was a friend of my roommates. And we had fun together. We'd play tennis and he got my weird humor. We were good at partnering up and taking care of each other's problems, which mostly seemed to be getting by financially. He said we had to be married in the temple, which I didn't really want but I went along with. I was off the church at the time because of a few factors. First, when I was 18, exactly 20 years ago, I had been in a serious physical relationship with a young man we'll call "Bill". He was funny and affectionate and sincere and adored me and Bill was a return missionary. Now, I had not been raised in the church, and I had activated myself when I was a teenager. I had a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, which I had read many times, but I didn't know doctrine. I knew nothing about the Temple either. I just knew that Bill had been through it before and that it was somehow more serious for him to mess up. So we tried not to. But have you all seen The Notebook? Read Twilight? Daniele Steele? I actually had that. In real life. For one year. And then Bill left me for another girl he felt impressed to marry and I was devastated. I never wanted to take another breath ever again. I laid in the fetal position and cried for three days. To make matters worse, he got remarried in the Temple before I was even allowed to take the Sacrament. You read that right. Most people said, "Oh, he must have lied to his church leaders." He didn't. They let him. Even though he had made temple covenants and I wasn't even raised in the church and I activated my own self. Now, for some reason, from then on, every ward I moved into the Bishop would ask to meet with me. And in 100% of those meetings they would say, "So tell me about this young man." And I was like, "WTH, do these dudes have a friggin FILE with this stuff in it??" And why isn't this just going away for me like it went away for Bill. I bet he doesn't still have anyone asking HIM questions about what happened. It felt humiliating and it felt unfair and it made me feel like it was all my fault. Like somehow I was the one that was designated to pay for that situation and he was given a free pass. It felt like the message was that men can just move on without consequence. And this made me SOOO angry. And I thought I was no longer the kind of girl that anyone that I would really want would really want. And this made me feel hopeless. And none of these sweet caring Bishops knew what to say to me in any small way. And it went on like this for years.

Second factor, My mother was in a homosexual relationship. Which was a trendy concept in the 90s but only if you were in your 20s and on the CW. I had supportive people, confused people, consoling people, angry people, and condescending people come up to me and tell me how I should handle the situation. The more I tried to figure out what to do, the more confused I got. I knew this woman, I knew she was not gay. The relationship happened because Helen said she loved my mom, and my mom loved people to love her. I knew I should just wait it out until it was over. And I knew it would be over. But something about it just broke my spirit. Knowing that whatever it was that made other people's parents understand the importance of being respectable and normal and having boundaries and standards, my parents would never have that. I was mourning the childhood I never had, the parent I would never have and the man I would never have. Who would want to marry someone like me, with a family like mine? And for all of these reasons I began drinking a large amount of alcohol at frequent intervals.

So you can see why I was happy to find a nice boy who wanted to marry me. We got engaged in a comedy of errors kind of way and then we began weekly meetings with our Bishop, because it's what I did professionally at that point, meet with Bishops, and he tells us we have one-on-ones with the Stake President before we can get married. Sigh. But I decided to go through with it even though I was frustrated with the entire process. I walk in and the S.P. says to me, (all together now), "Tell me about this young man, Bill." My jaw hit the floor. I explained my story to him and then, he did what no one else did. He pulled out a notebook, asked me where Bill was and asked for his information. I asked him why he wanted to know. He said he wanted to find out what had happened with Bill's Bishop to erroneously allow him to be married in the Temple when he was clearly not worthy. Now I was really confused. I mean, it was over, Bill was married. What were they going to do? Pull him into meetings with his current Bishop and make him answer for it all these years later? Were they gonna put him through Church Court because of me, if I "turn him in"? Is that even what he is asking me to do? I secretly kinda wanna turn him in but I can see this will just not do, to be vindictive about this. I tell him I don't know where Bill is or how to begin to find him, which was true. I am laughing out of nervousness and also the absurdity of it all and because I am becoming super duper uncomfortable. And the man then tells me to my face that I am clearly "...too immature to get married". And he won't sign the recommend. He says we have to wait six months. I have family members flying in from out of the state. They already have their tickets. I leave even more apathetic towards the church than ever before.

I try and talk my future spouse into not getting married in the temple. He says his little brothers and sisters will be looking up to him and he can't get married anywhere else. Fine. My bishop hears about what the Stake President said and he is mad. He doesn't agree with him at all so he calls him to tell him he thinks he's making a mistake and they GET IN A FIGHT. So here is my last straw testimony breaker right here...why would two men, with this kind of stewardship over me, disagree over something they both receive revelation over? Why would they both get two different answers about something as huge as my future? I thought that if the spirit was real, they both should have gotten the same answer.

Part of coming back into the church required me reconciling the things that happened during this time of my life. And one day after prayer it just downloaded into my head that I kept being asked about "that guy" because God wanted me to come back. I wasn't being hounded because it was all my fault, I was being hounded so I could repent fully for the situation and get it off my back because it was ruining my life. I made about 100,000 bad decisions as a result of this one bad relationship, where he was able to turn around and marry the right girl and move on with no long term consequence, other than the guilt and the weighty conscience that I hoped that he had. I still hope he had. It just didn't effect him long term the way it effected me. And only God would know that. About Bishop v. Stake President, after 15 years I can see that they both were right. The wedding should have been called off, we should never have gotten married, neither of us were ready, and I certainly didn't love him the way I should have. (Sorry Dev.) But my Bishop knew the Stake President didn't handle it right and he could feel we weren't being supported and helped in the right way. And my Stake Pres. was right that it was wrong but he was wrong about why it wasn't right. Well maybe he was a little right, I was pretty immature. In the end this actually built up my testimony. I was trying to be inactive, trying my darnedest, and God was calling me in and making me talk about my problems because he didn't want to let me go. Gods a pretty cool guy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two Short Stories That May Just Change Your Life.

Today a gentleman stood up and told two stories. To me, these stories are the crystallization of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether the people in the second story were Christian or not, I do not know, but they certainly acted as if they were the very definition.

In the first story, a farmer, we'll call him Dale, noticed an issue with his irrigation. The water began to wane in one area. So he checked it out and found that a neighbor, a fellow crop farmer, had dammed up the irrigation ditch and was usurping the water. So Dale took out a shovel and went with his boys to the area of the blockage and began to dig it out, so the water would return to his land. The man who had created the dam was so angry he actually took out an axe and went after Dale, who used his shovel to staunchly defend his right to the water. The altercation ended with incredibly bad feelings. The man who had dammed the water began to openly hate Dale's family. It came time to harvest. And Dale loaded up his kids in the truck to go to work harvesting his lands. But as he drove along, he took an unexpected turn into the other neighbor's property. The children thought he had lost his mind. But he explained that he had heard that the man was sick, too sick to harvest his own fruit, and he knew it had to be done immediately. So the man and his children, before even harvesting a single bit from their own farm, went and worked one full day for this man and placed the produce carefully at the back porch. One of the children remembered keeping one eye on their work, and one eye on the back door in case he came out with the axe again. The man was so grateful at the end of it all that he told Dale how sorry he was and at Dale's funeral years later he said how much of an example Dale had been and that he had become his best friend.

The second story was about a man who had a bad year of auto accidents, and to make matters worse, they kept happening in other people's cars. He knew he had a jack and a spare, etc. in his own car, but in other people's cars you are the mercy of their idea of preparedness and they seemed to always be lacking. So this particular year that he kept having issues he noticed that no one in America stops to help a fellow traveler in trouble anymore. Whether it's because we are all wary about safety or in too big of a hurry, whatever the reason, the only people that kept coming to his aid were immigrant workers. One time he was in a friend's Jeep and got a flat but didn't have the tools, only a spare. And again, no one would stop. So he put out a sign, NEED JACK, WILL PAY $$. Shortly after, a group of immigrant workers from Mexico stopped to help. It was a family. The father got out and came over with his English speaking daughter to help translate. They were here in America to pick produce for two weeks before returning home. So they got out their jack but the Jeep was too high and so they actually found some wood and cut it down to act as a brace for the jack. Now I personally have never heard of this but I guess he had a folding tire iron and the thing broke. The head came clean off. But the man explained to his wife in Spanish what he needed and sent her away in the van and she returned with a different iron and the men went back to work. It must have been something of a feat because to hear the way the speaker told it the men were muddy sweaty, smelly, messes by the end of it all. But the family had a jug of water and so the men were able to clean themselves up after and refresh themselves. The traveler tried to give this family money but the man wouldn't take it. So he went over to the mother and snuck a 20 dollar bill to her as quietly as he could. As he was getting back into his Jeep the daughter asked if the man had eaten yet. He said no, and was in fact starving after all of this time and effort. The girl handed out the window a tamale wrapped up in tin foil. The traveler took it back to his friend's Jeep and opened it up, and there inside with the tamale was the 20 dollars. He glanced back at the van but the father just looked at him and shook his head. The traveler tried one more time to give it to him, because this man had not only stopped to helped him but had surely lost a day's wages to do so and then ended up having to spent his own money on a new jack. The man just said, with a lot of effort, ""

There I go again, I'm totally crying. I love this story. These people were probably as poor as people can possibly get and yet they gave their time, their money, their hard work, their food and their love to a total stranger. Because they were humble and good. I believe in God. I believe that if these people keep going around being amazing like this, then that traveler but tomorrow...them. I learned from a kind Bishop of mine while I was a broke single mom that if I gave, I would actually receive and he was absolutely correct. Jesus knew what he was talking about, you will receive. This is the gospel and it works. Amen.
Amen? Ok sure why not...Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judging Amy.

I am a judgmental person. Rather, I have become one. I have travelled so far in the polar opposite direction from the liberal way I was raised that I may in fact circle around a full 360 and find myself back in some free love, no rules, flexible morality kind of space, judging no one. I'm not sure, where I'm going is uncharted.

I was raised not to judge anyone. Which is good. I was raised that there was no right or wrong. Which is bad. I was also taught there was no good or bad which is also bad. According to my upbringing, using those kinds of words would be "labeling" and is a part of judging which is only for stupid and closed-minded people. Now, these free-thinking concepts are only effective things to tell yourself and others if what you are seeking is license to do whatever you want no matter what. Say, for example, you want to go out and sleep with a whole bunch of people. You do not want to suffer the consequences of this action, i.e. people thinking you are a horrible mother and a slut. Or even YOU thinking you are a horrible mother or a slut. You will then need to tell yourself that by sleeping with a whole bunch of people you were not doing anything "bad" or "wrong", you were in fact "learning about your sexuality" because human reproduction is healthy and good and it wasn't wrong of you, it was just a part of your journey and was essential to your learning process. Never mind all of the people that were hurt or how many families were destroyed as a consequence of these actions because if people think that what you are doing is bad, they are being "judgmental" and need to find your "positive intent".

Because I never judged people, especially those people in my own family, I allowed them to treat me horribly. I was told that I could control my reactions to everyone and everything around me. If someone acted horribly to me, instead of calling them out to change their behavior, I just needed to look at their "positive intent" and possibly also, go to my "great good place". Everyone's actions had a positive intent, we just had to look hard enough. Sometimes I had to look really, really hard. This meant I was asked to look at things one might realistically label as sad or bad and I was to tell myself they were not bad or sad but actually good and acceptable instead. If someone like my older sister took my head and slammed it into the bathtub tile surround for taking a bath when she wanted to, I only simply need go to my great good place in order to see her positive intent and I would no longer be angry and I would find love for her. I would close my eyes and soon I could imagine that her positive intent was to toughen up my head. Armed with this knowledge I no longer wanted my sister to die slowly at my own hand, but to keep on showing me the mysteries of her many complex actions. So now, because everyone in our family, nay the world, had a positive intent and no one was ever wrong or bad, no one ever need suffer any consequences or punishment for their actions. In our household especially, never at any time, no matter how bad the offense might possibly have been, was anyone actually ever punished. No one even brought up in casual conversation the amount of times I had my butt handed to me with a bow on it by my big sister. I guess her positive intent was for me to really become familiar with where my pain threshold is. If you're wondering, it's somewhere around my External Occipital Protuberance.

In regards to relationships it should come as no surprise to read that I did not employ any powers of perception whatsoever in choosing a mate. I met someone, I saw a whole handfull of positive intent in everything they did and so I loved them dearly for handing me my hindquarters. Wasn't that thoughtful of them? I was wondering where my hindquarters had gone. Oh? It's right there? Thank you. Thank you so much. I love you. Don't leave me.

Somewhere in the middle of a Christmas party in 2005 I came to my senses. Bio dad had left me the year before. He left me pregnant with no explanation. He had gone from, "I love you more than you will ever know and I want to be with the one I love forever" to "we only casually dated" to "I'm suing you for getting pregnant". He could only have handled the situation worse if he had shot the lot of us. After a year of hell for me and and a three day coma for him (long story) he came to his senses and wanted to apologize for how he handled things. And he wanted to re-handle those things. My things. After a year in the church and my full temple worthiness re-instated, it just wasn't happening. But we were maintaining a "friendship". So here is where we find ourselves and it's December. And he's going to a Christmas party and I've just been invited to the same one and isn't that a coinkiedink. And so I get spiffied up in a YSL knockoff black velvet suit, straighten my hair and show up. And it was like I walked into a Rock of Love audition. The girls...the girls. But I musn't judge, I tell myself. But are you serious, ladies? The lip liner...and the eyebrows... And then he shows up. And these girls squeal his name like it's 7th grade, and then tip toe trot themselves over to the man for optimal chest bounce-age and then rub their Spalding's up against his Lucky Brand button down. And it clicks for me. He is that guy. He is probably hiding a roll of fifty ones in his back pocket encircled with a red rubber band. He is "hangs with strippers" guy. If he had an indian name it would probably be "Hangs with Strippers". And I flash back in my head. Yep, all the signs were there. How did I miss them? Sure, he tried to be something he wasn't for my benefit. Sure he dressed differently for me and acted differently for me. But there is no way for someone to really hide their whole true self. Unless they're a serial killer. I had signs and red flags and towards the end there was even a huge bat signal or two. But I was getting a hand typed, double spaced personalized letter reading, "Dear Amelia, I like slutty, ugly, tarty girls with big boobs who drink to excess and do things with guys they barely know." It was being tapped out on my head in Morse Code. "- - - . . . - - . . - - . . .- - . . .- . - . -. . -- ...-.......-- ..-" *

*He's that guy.

I had stepped over the line and I was now in judgmental country.

My first thought was, "You are that guy??" My second was, "How did you ever find ME attractive EVER if what you wanted all along is what she's got going on over there and up there and BACK THERE?!?" And my third one was, "I'm outtie." I left that party after having judged those girls and having judged my ex and having judged the situation and you know what? It felt great. And I've been doing it ever since. People sometimes ask me if having come from the kind of past I come from makes it easy to not judge people for their actions and I have to say the answer is no. You know those bitter, tight lipped angry women? You know how they all have a secret past and then become unmoving and rigid? It starts like this. I make judgment calls all day every day and you know what? I can't stop. The more I strive to live my life with standards the easier it is to see when people don't have any. And the easier it is to judge whether or not I want to have anything to do with those people. And I usually choose not to. Because they hurt you, those people. And it's safer to make the judgment call and protect yourself and your kids right from the git go. It's OK to judge what's bad and wrong. Sometimes people can be bad and wrong. Even if they may have a super-duper really great good positive intent.

"By their fruits you shall know them." Matthew 7:16.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hallelujah Indeed.

If you have not seen this kid yet, hold onto your hat. Or something nailed down.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Give.

As in "up". I give up. We put the "For Sale by Owner" sign in the front lawn so the house is officially up for sale. It's a lovely 5 bedroom 3 bath fixer-upper in the tony Edgemont area of Provo. Many people are asking many questions so I figured a blog post was in order. Think of this as a, "Wait, the Merritt's are selling their house? FAQ"

1. Where are the Merritt's moving off to?

We have no idea where we are going. I have found a great house in Orem that I love more than anything but I know what the odds are that we will be able to sell this house and move into it. We are going to take a bath on this house. So that means we will have to make do for a few years while we dig out of a huge financial hole. Once we do and save some money for a down payment we will probably find a house. This is what I am calling my Reasonable Expectations Scenario. I do have faith that God will be able to work a miracle I can not foresee and so, who knows what will happen. I am keeping the faith that a miracle can occur but I am also keeping my expectations at a realistic level. I'm fasting and praying but I'm also staying rational.

2. Do The Merritt's want to stay in the 4th Ward boundaries?

We have loved being in this ward and this area. We'd love to stay. If we were to fall in love with a house that was perfect in every way and would still allow us to stay in the area...MIRACLE. At this point I'd settle for a darling little house in Utah County that we love and is finished prettily and we can afford and can possibly rent to own. This of course is IF by some miracle we are able to sell our house for what we owe so we don't have to move into an apartment for a few years. It really boils down to the house. You see, we bought this big house with the expectation that I would be well. More like, the assumption. We were going to have more kids. I was going to fix up this house. That was the plan. Now neither is feasible. I may get sicker as many people with Hashi's do. We need at least a 4 bedroom house with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and laundry on the main level and next to no yard work because my disease can sometimes spawn other worse diseases, things like:

Vitiligo — a disease that destroys the cells that give your skin its color
Rheumatoid arthritis — a disease that affects the lining of the joints throughout the body
Addison’s disease — a disease that affects the adrenal glands, which make hormones that help your body respond to stress and regulate your blood pressure and water and salt balance
Type 1 diabetes — a disease that causes blood sugar levels to be too high
Graves’ disease — a disease that causes the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone
Pernicious anemia — a disease that keeps your body from absorbing vitamin B12 and making enough healthy red blood cells
Lupus — a disease that can damage many parts of the body, such as the joints, skin, blood vessels, and other organs.

So if it ever gets to that point, or heaven forbid morphs into Hashimotos Encephalopathy or even Lymphoma of the Thyroid, then I am not going to be dragging myself up flights of stairs all day. Bye-bye split level. I never liked you anyways.

3 Why are The Merritt's moving now...why can't The Merritt's wait until the market swings around? (Or in the sentiments of some acquaintances and my father the coach, why can't The Merritt's just keep working on it one project at a time. Take it in bite sized chunks...)

Get bent. Or go get sick and then see how well you like being told to "just do" something. Just "take my time and do one little project every month" until it's done? Just go stick your head in the toilet you dirty "just-er". Seriously, this makes me insane. So I'm to be a wife and mother and work 18 hour days and serve the church and God and be a good friend and neighbor and do my Visiting Teaching and see the doctors and pay my medical bills and then, on my RARE days off, I'm to tile a bathroom when I have no idea how to tile a bathroom? When do I get to spend time dealing with:

Weight gain
Pale, puffy face
Feeling cold
Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures
Joint and muscle pain
Dry, thinning hair
Heavy menstrual flow or irregular periods
A slowed heart rate
Problems getting pregnant

I guess I am "just" to take all of the above in bite sized chunks, too. Oh, yeah, I can't. I don't control my disease.

We bought a house. And I worked really hard on it. And now I have to walk away from it. And I don't know where we are going and I don't know how this will turn out. I have a disease. I have an incurable disease. And I might not "look sick" to you and you may never notice it but the people I live with do. And the people I work with do and they thankfully keep hiring me. And I manage to plug along in my calling. But Brett and the kids take to finishing my sentences for me and I will probably not ever have another child of my own. And it's by the grace of God and my own stubborn Germanness that I am able to finish 6 days of 12+ hours of shooting without falling apart let alone everything else. It's too much. And I know it and my family knows it and my friends know it and now all of you know it and I believe that God knows it, too. And I believe he will take care of me. Because he doesn't want me to come home to a house that makes me cry before I even get out of my car, just thinking about what an albatross it is.

So if you know how to drywall and want a house in Edgemont...leave your name and number. You are the answer to my prayers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Something for Everyone.

Problogger had this article called 29 Ways to Keep Me Coming Back to Your Blog. In an attempt to inspire "me" and by that I mean "you" to keep coming back to my blog I will now do the impossible. I will accomplish all 29.

1.Teach me how to do something.

2. Entertain me.

3. Stimulate me to think.

Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush.

4. Tell me a story.

Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. The little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." The man was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found out the box empty. He yelled at her, stating, "Don't you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They're all for you, Daddy."

5. Present me with some interesting research results.

American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating 1 olive from each salad served in first-class.

1 in every 4 Americans have been on TV.

6. Make me laugh.

A man and a friend are playing golf one day at their local golf course. One of the guys is about to chip onto the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course. He stops in mid-swing, takes off his golf cap, closes his eyes, and bows down in prayer.

His friend says: “Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man.”

The man then replies: “Yeah, well we were married 35 years.”

7. Review a product or service to help me make a decision.

I like my Dyson vacuum and it does a good job on Pug hair and Costco has them for a good price.

8. Tell me why and how something applies to me.

#7 applies to you because it's true and eventually everyone needs a new Vacuum.

9. Show me a case study of something you’ve (or someone else has) done.

Co Author: Jeffri C. Bohlscheid
School of Food Science
University of Idaho

Co Author: Frank J. Dinan
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Canisius College

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the bees. This directed case investigates the issues and chemistry that might be involved in CCD related to HFCS. The case was developed for use in an undergraduate organic chemistry or food chemistry course.

10.Make me feel like I’m not the only one who….

I have no idea what I'm doing as a parent. None. I think the stuff I try out works about 35% of the time. I mostly just hang out with my kids and try and keep them from eating poisonous stuff.

11. Predict what will happen next.

Someone will try and kill that Mubarak guy.

12. Collate what other people say about….

Communal. Go there. It's fantastic.

13. Inspire me.

"I believe life is to be lived, not worked, enjoyed, not agonized, loved, not hated."
Leland Bartlett

14. Give me a project to go away and do.

15. Give me a sense of belonging.

16. Explain what something means.


The term "dougie" derives from the name of 80's early 90's Hip Hopper Doug-E- Fresh. The term "dougie" means to have a cool or hip stlye.
"If we are going to go out tonight I need to go home and get dougie before we go."

fresh clean attractive style cool swagga; the way you carry yourself
also a dance

"Giiiiirl, his dougie is fresh."

17. Summarize a topic or issue.

In Cairo, Egypt, the people are revolting against the dictator Hosni Mubarak who has been running Egypt for the past thirty years. The idea of uprising began in Tunisia when people started planning a revolution through social media like Twitter and Facebook. Hosni Mubarak then proceeded to shut down not just cell phone service but all Internet connection in Egypt so they lost contact with the rest of the world until Wednesday, when it was turned back on. For the last year Egyptians have been unhappy due to poverty, low employment, increased food prices. The people of Egypt are now rebelling against the Government for not meeting their basic needs. Many protesters are being killed, some by Mubarak supporters who are shooting into the crowds of people who have ensconced themselves and will not leave until Mubarak steps down. As of February 2, 2011, Hosni Mubarak announced that he will not be running for a new term in the September elections, but he would like to finish his remaining term which will last another seven months. The people of Egypt want him to step down immediately.

18. Intrigue me.

19. Introduce me to someone of interest.

20.Tell me your opinion.

I think someone should shoot this Mubarak guy.

21. Link to something that I need to see or read.

22. Share something I can relate to.

I find boogers on my kids' bed sheets. I wrap them up like burritos and have to carefully unwrap them at wash time.

23. Provide me with a list of resources.

A List of Resources for Studying Benjamin Franklin:

"Ben Franklin Stilled The Waves" Charles Tanford, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, and London, England, 1989.

"Benjamin Franklin: His Life As He Wrote It" Edited by Esmond Wright, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989.

"Benjamin Franklin's Science" I. Bernard Cohen, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England, 1990.

For Kids

"The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin" Aliki, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, New York, 1988.

"What's The Big Idea, Ben Franklin?" Jean Fritz, Coward-McCann, New York, New York, 1976.

24. Stimulate me to enter into a dialogue or debate.

Hitler's mother considered an abortion. Did she make a mistake?

25. Give me a point of view that is different from the rest.

I am not anti-Gay marriage. I figure we have the blessings of Temple Marriage, so let them get married civilly and have their equal rights.

26. Encourage me to keep going through something I’m finding tough.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

27. Keep me up to date with the latest news or developments in a field of interest.

28. Guide me through a process.

29. Solve a problem that I have.

You didn't think I could do it did you? See you real subscribers!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breaking the Cycle: Day 2.

Disclaimer: This is an insanely long post.

At the end of Day One my dear husband came to me and told me that our girl child was being totally defiant. This is her thing. As a toddler she would kick and hit and spit and bite and scratch and do the exact thing you just told her not to do. When she was 3ish we got a tub refinished and I took her into the bathroom and I showed it to her and said, "See, it's white now but it's a bad chemical and we must not touch it because it won't come off our hands. It's not like paint. Don't touch!" And I walked her out of the room and shut the door and she did an immediate 180 and put her hand on the tub. We ask her to do something and she whines or cries or throws a temper tantrum or all three. Since she is no longer a toddler and I'm pretty sure this kind of behavior should be a random occurrence and not a common occurrence, we worry. Some people say it's just girls or it's certain kids in general but it doesn't feel right to me. She also doesn't usually act that way in front of anyone but her parents.

Some things are making a difference already. I try and listen to her and repeat back what she says to me. Instead of going, "Uhhuh...uhhuh." I'm making eye contact and getting down on her level more when she talks. I'm praying really hard that I will know what they need, and give them that instead of what I think they need. I think they need what I needed. I needed clothes that fit and weren't old and dirty and had holes, I needed our heat and electricity and phone paid for. I needed my mother to be at events and not say inappropriate things when my friends were over. I needed her to not talk about sex all the time. I needed her to not flirt with neighborhood young adult males. I needed her to get off the phone with people that weren't her kids or husband and needed her to not work all the time if we weren't going to benefit as a family from her being gone. And I figured as a Mother if I wasn't doing any of these things, I was doing my job.

But I need some new ideas. So I called Jules and talked to her. Her father did some cute things with her that made her feel like she was special. He set up dates with her, to go and be with just her. They'd walk through the mall or go to the park. The point was just to get out and spend time together and talk. I loved that idea. She and I had a good conversation and at one point she said that at least I wasn't afraid I loved my girl less because of her dad. That at least I wasn't holding what he did against her. But I am terrified that I am. When she was born she came out looking like her biological father. And I can't explain the sadness. She was beautiful, it wasn't that. It was that there was nothing but deep, deep heartache left over from that experience and I didn't know how to separate those feelings.

Her Bio dad and I met at The Owl Bar. And I was in the middle of the experience I had written about previously. I had no desire to smoke or drink any more, and I was praying, but I don't think I had gone to church yet. A friend had gotten a baby sitter and no one wanted to go up to the bar with her. She called me like 4 times so I finally agreed to go. I didn't drink and I sat there vacantly while she talked about the cute guy at the table behind us. After a bit, he came and sat down next to me. But then he did nothing. He just sat there. For a long time. I felt so bad for the guy I struck up a conversation with him.

We had our first date on Father's Day. The irony. I asked then if he had kids and he said he had 5. I choked. I remember thinking it was a lot for someone his age but looking back I think he may have lied about that, too, his age. He asked me about my kids and I said I just had the one. He was surprised but I told him that I had been told by my OBGYN that I would have a hard time conceiving so I was lucky to have the one. I asked if he had called his dad yet and he said he had not. I urged him to call his dad before it got too late. He looked kind of ill. Like I had asked him to go ahead and drink poison since it was Drink a Poison Day. He called and left him an awkward message and he got choked up when he told his dad that he loved him and wished him a Happy Father's Day.

We broke up and got back together a bunch of times because I started feeling like I wanted someone who wanted to be in the church and he had just started living outside it. He told me I was wrong, that he had always wanted a testimony and that he was learning a lot from what I was going through. I told him I wanted to be married in the temple one day and he told me he wanted nothing more than to have a love that would last forever. He met with my bishop a few times and my dear neighbor Tom who both told him that if his intentions were not pure that he had better get lost or they would find him. My bishop was an ex marine and super scary. My neighbor has since passed away, and I'd be afraid if I were Bio.

He talked me out of accepting a small apartment Tom was letting me live in insisting that my son and I would be cramped space. He said that when my house sold I should move all of my stuff into his garage at his house he had up for sale since it was huge and empty and he had 6 weeks of traveling coming up. He wouldn't even be at home. So I accepted. On my way to a job interview I got a call from him telling me to not go, that we'd figure out something and he'd help me out. I told him I didn't want to accept that kind of arrangement unless I was married. He told me I didn't understand, that he lived to help people. He was just that way and I didn't understand also that he was serious about me. He had told people he worked with I was the one. He said it wasn't best for my son for me to work as many hours as this job would require and I should just hang out and keep looking and be more selective. I called and canceled my interview. He had a trip to take to New York and asked if I wanted to go. My favorite place on earth. I went and when I got there, there was only one bed and not even a pull out or a full sized couch.

We came home and things were awkward. He kept making little promises and not backing them up. He became angry. He started to resent my being there even though he had fought so hard for it. I knew this would happen. He packed in a sour mood and left. I went on a job interview while he was gone and I also took a pregnancy test. I don't even know why I took it, I really didn't think I would or could be pregnant. I was. He was with his kids in California when I called and told him. I was thinking I might get a 'wow' or an 'oh my gosh' but I got complete silence. Not a word and then, click. And it got worse from there. When he came home he was surly and rude. He was talking about suicide and he said over and over that he couldn't be a dad. Which at the time confused me because he already WAS a dad. What did that even mean? I told him we didn't have to be together if that was the issue. He wasn't obligated to date me just because I was pregnant. I also told him he wasn't obligated to pay through the government. That we could work out a dollar amount, since he was paying so much still for his other kids and since his ex had allegedly stolen his life savings and maxes all his credit cards. (A little over half a million to hear him tell it.) He told me that not only was he not going to pay me a dime he was going to sue me for getting pregnant. He felt I had lied to him and ensnared him )I believe the word he used was duped) because I told him on our first date that I couldn't get pregnant. I reminded him that I do have another child, he's met him. I never said it was impossible. And it was in a normal context that I shared that information. I told him that I would be interested in what his lawyer would have to say about bringing that lawsuit up. He would arrange talks where he would press me to give up the baby for adoption. He would email me and call me and tell me I was a disgusting person and that watching me keep a baby with out considering his feelings was the single most selfish thing he had ever witnessed in his life.

I started seeing a councilor at LDS services. Which was fun, being the only pregnant woman in the waiting room over 18. I talked with a family from Michigan I think, The Brubakers, about adoption and they were really nice. The reasons I didn't were these: I didn't want my son to learn that people were expendable. My father told me about a personal friend that had done it and regretted it and he knew I would also. It wasn't something I would have ever wanted if I hadn't been guilted into it. I saw her face in a sonogram and she looked like she had my chin. I stupidly thought that since she was a girl she'd probably look like me. And then one day I saw the Brubakers on the highway, they have a vanity plate with their family name. And I thought, what are the odds? And as we all waved at one another it occurred to me that we are the same. They are no better than I am. This child would not be trading up into a better existence. I knew I would be able to remarry and she would have everything with me she would with them. And she'd be with her Mom.

I was told one night on the phone that no only did no one from his family want to be there when she was born but they didn't want to have anything to do with me. He had told them what I had done and they agreed that the best thing he could do was to have nothing to do with me and the baby and that they supported him in his wishes. They also hated me, thought I was a slut and wanted nothing to do with me. Not long after I went into labor and delivered a baby girl. The day I gave birth is an unreal story of it's own but I'll spare you that. Or we'll be here until March.

The nurses wanted to know if he would come down and sign the paternity papers. So we called him. He talked to my sister, Amanda, who had helped me deliver. And he said he wouldn't sign them, that his lawyer instructed him not to sign anything unless he looked it over first. We explained how it was just one sheet of paper and it just read that he was the father. He said he didn't know for sure that he was the father. And anyway he was in California. He knew I was having the baby that week so he had run away. Either that or again, he was lying. My sister told him he should at least talk to me and he said he'd call me in a little bit, when he wasn't around his kids. I laid in my hospital bed with the phone on my deflated belly for four hours before I set it back on the dresser.

So when I had my little girl and she came out the spitting image of her father, it stung. I was afraid I was selfish in keeping her and I hurt and I was tired and scared. All of these emotions didn't leave much room for mother daughter bonding. It was never about just the two of us, it was about the two of us and the one that wasn't there. This story goes on and yes, it gets better but not by much. It's been a drawn out process and it's been full of sadness. As more time passes, I remember it less but there is a fear that, yes, we didn't bond like I wished. Like I did with my son.

So last night, after my husband informed me of her emotional state, I went into her room and didn't talk. I didn't ask her what was wrong or why she wasn't listening to dad. I didn't try and teach her anything like I usually would but it wasn't a conscious choice. I just found that I wanted to hold her and snuggle her, in part because of the emotional day I had after what I wrote. So I went in and wrapped her up in my arms and snuggled down into her bed with her. And she wrapped her arms around me back. We talked about random stuff. And she calmed down. We all said prayers and went to bed. She had a tiny fever so we stayed home all day yesterday. And we watched a movie in her bed on my phone. And we had lunch with dad and watched shows and she had a good nap. And then last night I put her to bed an hour early. Not a single tantrum since. It's a new day here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project "Break the Cycle". Day one.

I was tucking in my daughter last night and for about the 10th time she insisted that I spent more time in my son's room than in hers. She's been doing this lately. I ask my son, who's 11, to go get the mail and she pushes him out of the way to grab it first. There are serious competition issues going on. So she's keeping track of how much time alone he gets versus what she gets at bed time. So I go into the same old speech about how she is not in competition with her brother. She begins to get whiney and complainy and it begins to make me insane. I get stabby when she gets temper-tantrumy. So I tell her that I don't spend more time with him and that I try hard to be sure that I spend equal amounts of time and that the times I leave her room early are usually the nights when I can't stay because she starts to get cranky and mean and I don't stick around for that. I tell her that she's saying I'm being a bad Mom by spending more time with him than her and I don't need to hear that when I try so hard to make their time equal. And then she said the worst thing she could ever have said to me. "You love him more than me."

I sort of stumbled into my bedroom where my husband was folding laundry and I said, "Did you hear her? She just said I love him more than her. Can you believe it? I don't act that way!" And he sort of shrugged his shoulders. I said, "Wait, you're saying I do act like that?" And I don't recall what he said but it was the equivalent of "If the shoes fits."


I grew up the child of a High School Track coach and a crazy person. She was nuts. At the time I thought she was normal but now I know better. I have many stories but I'll illustrate what was normal for her with the highlights.

I was in 1st grade and one day my mother was brushing my hair which she didn't do often. And I was whining and crying because it was waist length and I had not been introduced to conditioner and she'd start at the root and rip through it. She told me to stop. So I explained loudly that she was hurting me and she just picked up a pair of scissors and cut it off in one swoop. Just snip, snip, snip. Off. To my chin.

My mother took me to doctors to have EKGs and other tests done because she believed I had narcolepsy since I could fall asleep anywhere, but my parents never made me go to bed before midnight. My tests came back normal but she was certain they must be wrong and so she illegally obtained something called Desoxyn, which is called speed on the street, and gave it to me, every day for about 2 years. I was in 2nd grade.

My parents got tickets to the Track events for the 1984 Olympics. We drove out there in my grandparents' Itasca. We all went together to the stadium most days but one day in particular they could only get two tickets not four. Normal people would decide which parent would take which child. My mother and father go together, hand us a bus schedule for the greater Los Angeles area and tell us to visit South Coast Mall. We got lost and had to ask strangers how to get back to our hotel. I actually remember walking along a chain link fence doing an impersonation of Tina Turner singing, "What's Love Got to Do With It." since where we were looked just like the video. That's not a good thing.

In 4th grade she sat down with my teacher to discuss my issues with school. She sat there and lied her face off to my teacher. She said they tried and tried with me and they didn't know what to do, I just wouldn't do my work. I cried my eyes out. My teacher, Ms Christiansen, asked me what was wrong and I couldn't tell her. I couldn't say that my mother was lying.

I reminded my mother 100 times about my upcoming 5th grade Maturation Clinic. It was a huge deal. Parents had to go with their kids. But on the day of, she didn't show up. My teacher and a few other parents kept asking me where my mother was. I didn't know. I was given permission to go to the office and call home. I let it ring all the way through, twice. When she finally picked up she said she couldn't come, she was taking a nap. I stopped telling her about or asking her to come to any of my events. And my dad was just...I don't know...working?

I stole the white drop waisted dress with a pink sash that my mother made for my sister's 6th grade graduation to wear to my own 6th grade graduation and no one knew because I walked there by myself, got my certificate, and walked home by myself.

In 7th grade I hosted the school talent show. I bought myself a 1950s formal dress at a thrift shop, got myself ready, drove myself there (on our scooter) and home again without a word. I don't think anyone in my family ever even knew I did that, and it never occurred to me that was weird. It was just the norm at that point.

In 8th grade I missed the bus a few times, but the 3rd time it happened my mother screamed at me that I wasn't her daughter and hung up on me. I walked with a friend to her Dad's office where we Xeroxed our boobs.

The Summer before my freshman year my mother started a running bet with her best friend that I would get pregnant by the time I was 15. I had never even held hands with- let alone kissed- a boy. Her best friend, may she RIP, wisely betted against my early and unwedded pregnancy. I saved that for my 30s.

On her off days she would slap my face and shake me and leave me notes telling me I was a little @#$%. She had hundreds of different jobs and friends and spent money on clothes at the expense of us having heat, electricity, a phone. My sister and mother would come home together laughing with shopping bags and when I would ask where they had gone they'd answer that they had gone out for Ice Cream. And then my sister would show me the clothes that she got. So when I heard what my daughter said, it was a dagger to my heart, bamboo under my nails, hot pokers in my eyes. Because it was what I had been told my whole life by my older sister. That my mother loved her more than me. And she was right. She did. Love being a verb, she loved my sister more than me. I was being accused of the worst possible crime I could be accused. That I was just like my mother.

Oh man. This can not be. I'm breaking the cycle and I'm doing it now. I need to start figuring out what I need to do differently and I need to execute. Like yesterday. 2011. Breaking the cycle. Here we go.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Let Me Tell You a Story. (A Looooong Story.)

I must be getting old because I feel like telling the same stories over and over again. Right now I seem to be looking back a lot to the time in my life when I was in the middle of a whole lot of drama. So I feel like re-telling that story. If you know this one, move on. For the rest of you, "When the chimes ring...turn the page." *Chime*

My son was 3 and I was splitting from his dad. We were in a whole tangle of "Well you did____ to me" and "Well I only did_______ because you did _______." It was a slew of back and forth, and the back and forth took place at high volumes. I was in the middle of a particularly good fight with my significant other one day when I took up a baseball bat and smashed all the terracotta planters in the back yard. A chard split off of one and cut open my leg.

So I called my Mom to come get me. My significant other followed me as I limped from the bakyard to the front porch, screaming at me the whole way. I sat there on the steps bleeding all over and unable to move. I had to sit there and listen to him tell me what a liar I was and what a dirty whore I was and how disgusted I made him. And instead of running away I literally had to take it. You may be thinking, "Oh my gosh, what a JERK!" and I did, too at first. But I finally surrendered and listened to what he said, even though it was awful and mean and hard to hear. And while it wasn't 100% appropriate to do it the way he did it, there were points that he was making that I couldn't deny were accurate. I had lied to him. That was true. Putting aside all of my justifications, point blank, I had lied to him. I had made a lot of mistakes and for the first time in my life I just said..."Yes. I did that." I was tired of wanting to make him see what he did wrong. It was NEVER going to happen. I realized he might not ever in my life time fully accept responsibility for the things he had done that had "made" me do what I did. I had to drop it and just accept my part. And I needed to change.

I sat in a wheelchair in the ER with a rag on my ankle watching TV. I was processing everything and just sat in near total silence. I prayed officially to God for the first time in a long time and I just pleaded, pleaded for peace in my life. I begged for this drama to be done and over. I immediately felt relief. I suddenly knew I needed to drop the fight on my end and focus on what I could control. Me. I couldn't control him or make him see anything he needed to see but I could control me. Sure I was hoping that if I started the process of accepting responsibility he'd follow suit, but it didn't happen. I made sure that in my heart I didn't expect him to (even if I really, really wanted him to) and I had to recognize that he might not accept any responsibility...ever. But I appologized profusely over and over for my part and I went about trying to make it right.

Part of controlling what I could was to look at what I needed to change about myself. So I asked God. I asked what my problems were and what I needed to change. I wondered why nothing ever felt like it was easy and why nothing felt like it fell into place but instead just the opposite occurred. It happened so often we blamed "The Mess Up Gene." My sister, mother and I joked all the time that we must be genetically designed for failure. So I prayed to know whatever it was that I needed to know. It came to me that I should pray for humility and understanding. I begged God for humility and understanding. And the change in my life that took place because of this single prayer is the most miraculous thing I have ever experienced and I have given birth. Twice.

I began to see that I was ungracious, ungrateful, unhappy and bitter. I was critical and intolerant. I was focusing on the negative all the time and I was not cheerful and fun to be around. I cared about things that didn't matter and I was spending money I didn't have on things I didn't need. I was making permanent decisions based on temporary feelings. The list went on and on. I wanted to stop drinking and smoking, they never did anything for me and plenty against me. I wanted to stop hanging out with people that wanted different things than I did. I started praying more and I had renewed faith that God was hearing and answering me. I began to go to church. I started reading the Book of Mormon and talking to my Bishop. I made a commitment to God that I would live the rest of my life inside the church. I had botched my life in a really incredible way when I tried to live it on my terms and I was willing to try living the Gospel. I realized why I felt like I was always swimming upstream. My way didn't work. I wanted my way to be right, but it wasn't. I wanted to be able to do what ever I wanted and have the consequences that I wanted and I couldn't understand why this wasn't the way it went. I finally admitted I could not run my own life. And that was OK. It didn't mean I was a loser. I had to be humble.

I was focused and determined to be worthy to attend the Temple. I knew that there was a God and I knew he heard me when I promised I would take this all the way and I had to live my word. The day finally arrived for me to go to the Temple, it was great. I wasn't freaked out, I wasn't uncomfortable, I was happy to be someplace that challenged me to be more humble and teachable. I loved seeing how perfectly everything there was designed for us to learn and grow and designed to repel those that are just not ready to receive it. And that is also a kindness. I could see that God loves His children. I could also see that if we do things to help others, especially those who can not 'do' for themselves, we receive help from the other side.

My life now feels a thousand times better than it was before. It works. And it's because of God, not me. I botch things. God makes them work. I control what I can by doing my best to follow His commandments. I apologize and repent when I do stupid things, and I do do stupid things. I try and be humble and accept when I'm immature and need to get over myself. Because the point isn't about making people think I'm awesome. The point is about how awesome other people are. The point is to put other people first. I'm happy when I try and make God and others happy. It's the only way.

"The greatest among you will be your servant." Matthew 23:11.