Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All That the Blog Leaves Out

Does this ever happen to you as a blogger? You learn of a new reader and suddenly you look at yourself and your blog through this person's eyes? You re-read your most recent posts with this new lens and a furrowed brow. And then you become frozen in a coma of hyper-focused self-doubt?

Yes? {Crickets chirping.} No?

Upon request, I gave my blog address to a new friend. I was sincerely excited and flattered that she wanted to read. However, as I handed over the slip of paper with the URL written, I became ill with self-doubt and felt compelled to say, "I swear I'm not nearly as self-absorbed as I seem on my blog." It was a statement, but it sounded more like a plea. "Or as shallow!" I wanted to shout, but that seemed a little self-absorbed. And shallow. I also resisted the urge to crawl under the table.

I'm as fickle as a pickle; thrilled to share what I've written in one moment and churning in embarrassment the next. (I wonder, is this what makes me a writer?)

When this happens, I usually spend some quiet moments in the worn-out wingback chair deep in the mahogany library of my brain, holding an unlit pipe to my lips and asking myself, "Is my blog a good representation of who I really am? What does the blog leave out?"

As I ponder the answer, I usually develop a headache because pondering is very hard work for my mind. Besides that, the lighting is bad in my brain library, and that kind of gives me a headache too. After the pondering, I start pleading my case for and against myself. To myself. And then I let myself be the judge.

I usually settle down and embrace the fact that blogging is my wonderfully self-indulgent hobby that fulfills a need to express myself and my parade of passing thoughts. Narcissistic? Sure. Completely subjective? Of course. Worthwhile? Absolutely. It cancels the desire I might otherwise have to hush everybody and shout, "I'm telling the story!"

But, of course, there are parts left out, and the dangerously delightful thing is that I get to choose exactly what is left on the cutting room floor. And though I try to write this blog for myself, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that everything I post here is written with an audience in mind, an audience made up of people I love and respect as well as people who are completely anonymous to me. And I like all of them, I really do.

So what gets left out?

This blog is not a diary for me and, therefore, will never be the place where I splatter my uncensored opinions, never caring who gets smacked in the face with one of my flying notions. I save my flying notions for my real diary. (Actually, I don't have a real diary. My flying notions are saved for my conversations with Ryan; he loves my uncensored, flying opinions.) The point is that I try to be careful and thoughtful because I'd like this to be a friendly place for one and all. You know, like Disneyland but with free churros. Some blogs are all about opinion and debate, but that's not my goal. My goal is Disneyland. With free churros.

Next place for edit? The family. While I aim to portray a realistic view of my family (because this is a record of my life), I don't share everything about my husband and kids and our relationships. The longer I blog, the more sensitive I feel about finding the fine line between being authentic in my storytelling and being exploitive, especially regarding my kids. I didn't have my kids just so that I would have plenty of fodder for my blog. I had them for manual labor, so I've got to keep them healthy and happy. A good worker is a happy worker.

In the same way that I strive to be respectful of those reading this, I try to be respectful of anybody I write about. If I write about someone who doesn't know about my blog, I change their name. Or, I  let them know and ask for their permission. When it comes to my family, I don't write anything about them that they would be unhappy or embarrassed to read. If I'm not sure, I ask them. And, occasionally, I think the precious, funny moments I share with them ought to stay just between us, so I don't write about them at all. I never want my first thought when something is said or done to be, "I can't wait to blog this!" I want to live my life first and blog about it later.

What else? Hmmm, let's see.... I don't write about fights or feuds with anybody. I don't see how this would ever be a good idea, and I could never pretend that this story I'm telling is anything but one-sided. On the other hand, little arguments are fine to write about, especially if I say something clever, and especially if I am right.

OK, that's it. That's everything that gets left out. Well, except for my current body weight--that's totally off limits. Unless I ever manage to weigh 103 pounds. In that case, I will start every blog post with, "HEY EVERYBODY, I WEIGH 103 POUNDS! In other news..." I don't see it ever happening, but I'd like to have a plan in place.

{Crickets chirping.}

Wow! Would you look at the time?

I'm think I'm finished now contemplating with my unlit pipe in my dark mahogany library. I'm glad I've taken a moment to ask myself a few questions about all that is said and unsaid, and I'm comfortable with my answers. It's an incomplete portrait, for sure, but if you squint your eyes and tilt your head, you can tell it's of me and my family. That's the way I want it, I suppose.

And now I'd like to ask you: What are your thoughts? What do you leave out of your blog and why? And also, would you like a churro? They're free!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caring for the Sick and Afflicted

Ryan came down with the flu on Sunday. I'm not sure if it's brand name flu or just generic flu, but it doesn't really matter to me. I find that you can pick up designer flus at any number of discount places if you just know how to look for it. My favorite technique is a quick lick of doorknobs and countertops--works like a charm.

This morning I went to the local pharmacy to pick up some supplies for my darling infested husband, including the following staples:

  • Two DVDs from RedBox to watch
  • Daytime cold and flu medicine
  • Nighttime cold and flu medicine
  • Sore throat lozenges
  • Cough drops
  • Neosporin (to rub in the nose and on the throat)
  • Puffs Plus with lotion
  • Cranberry juice
  • Nighttime baby wash with lavender
  • Reese's pieces
  • A two-pound bag of M&Ms
  • A big bag of candy pumpkins made out of the candy corn stuff
  • Two little skull tea light holders
  • Gum
He should be better in no time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Come With Me to the Land of My People

It's a beautiful overcast morning, a perfect day to head out to Amish country.

We will be your tour guides. At this time, we ask you to please turn your cell phones off and hold all questions/applause until the end.

See the corn fields whizzing by? That means we're getting closer. Listen closely. Can you hear my people calling us?

Well, not us, me. They're calling me, you know, because I'm one of them. But they said you can come along.

Ah, yes. Here we are. Home at last.

Hello, lovely sprawling landscape and modest, immaculate farms.

My mom's friend Julie once lamented that she needed to visit Italy. "I miss the old country," she said. My mom thought it was really funny because Julie is not Italian. But I know what Julie meant, except that I mean it even more because I really am Splinter Group Amish. I mean, I'm pretty sure that I am.

Anyway, back to my old country. There are cows in the old country. "Hi, cows! It's me, Tiffany! Remember?"

Oh yes, they remember.

Hello, silos! Good job storing all that corn and grain!

I'm getting hungry, are you? Let's stop for some freshly roasted Amish chicken, and let's eat it Amish-style. All you need is a napkin and ten greedy fingers. Mmmmm.

And for dessert, how about a warm Amish pumpkin pie? Made in a real Amish kitchen by a real Amish woman with a real Amish baby on her hip? And wrapped in real Amish plastic wrap!

Again, no utensils required. Just unwrap the plastic, stick your face in, and go to town.

Now some of you may be wondering if it's hard work and humility all the time out here among my people. Is there a place for fun? Do the Amish have a sense of humor? I answer you with Exhibit A:

And Exhibit B:

What is this, you wonder? Isn't it obvious? It's your everyday, run-of-the-mill flower bed filled with outgrown Amish shoes turned into planters for succulents. Care for a closer look?

Amish humor: it's very dry and understated, like a good wine. At least that's what I hear. I don't drink wine because I'm Splinter Group Amish. And Mormon. And Jew-ish.

It's complicated. {Sigh.}

Would you like to step out for a bit and get some exercise? How about a ride on these little Amish scooters, left here unattended?

Wheeeeeeee! Feel the wind rush through your hair as you scoot along! Pay no attention to the little Amish kids chasing after us and crying--that's how they express joy!

Oh, that was exhilarating! In a modest, unassuming, God-fearing way.

Good golly, where has the time gone? We'd better get back in the car and head home. Wave goodbye to the sweeping landscape.

See you next time, sweeping landscape of my people!

Fasten your seatbelts and settle in for the ride back to electricity and bean burritos! Our tour is over. Any questions?

Yes, you, in the back. What's that?

Oh yes, of course, I almost forgot to show you our new car! Here is the interior--very comfy and black.

And the exterior? Well, it's a little boxy, but I'm into that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Thirty-Second Slice of the Last Two Weeks of My Life

I made this interpretive video (make your own here) to give you a small peek into our home for the past couple of weeks. Play the video over and over about six thousand times for more impact.

Thankfully, we can move on with our lives because we did, in fact, buy a car.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All is Fair in Love and Board Games

We played Monopoly over the weekend. I used to beg my siblings to play that game when I was a kid, but everybody always rolled their eyes and moaned, "I hate that game!" Christian has been begging us to play it, and even though Ryan and I rolled our eyes to each other behind his back, we agreed to play. He's our kid, after all, and part of our obligation as parents is to clock a certain number of hours playing board games with him. Go ahead and check that; it's in the handbook.

So, we start playing and on my second roll of the dice, I landed in jail. JAIL! What the? But I didn't do anything wrong! I was forced to sit there in jail while everybody else pranced around buying up St. Charles Place and Marvin Gardens and B&O Railroad. I sat in the same spot, carving tally marks in the wall and getting tattoos. Doing hard time is so.....hard.

But finally, after three rounds of lost turns, I paid my debt to society (actually, I paid the banker $50) and headed out into the real world a changed woman. Or more particularly, a changed shoe. I stepped out into the "Just Visiting" area of the prison and looked around. I threw my shoelaces up in the air and exclaimed: The world is such a beautiful place! And it's so good to be alive! I'm going to live each day to the fullest by buying real estate and creating wonderful green houses and red hotels to shelter my loved ones!

Prison changes people.

The playing field wasn't exactly even at this point. Ryan had substantial holdings; Max was closing in on some utility ventures; and Christian was finding his place in the banking industry. Sure, I was behind in nearly every respect, but I had something they didn't have: PERSPECTIVE. And you just can't put a price or a big red hotel on that.

I worked hard and soon I was enjoying some success--Baltic Avenue, Illinois Avenue, and even a darling set of twins named Boardwalk and Park Place. When I landed on Water Works, I gladly handed over $120 dollars to Max's small pile of money, even though he was lying under the coffee table picking his nose and would never have known I owed him a dime. And when Christian owed me $14 in rent, but only had $11 without breaking a hundred-dollar bill? I said no problem, we're family. Mi casa, su casa. I was playing with integrity.

I was also playing with Ryan.

Ryan's approach to the game was quite different. It was like he was determined to own all of the properties and have all the money to himself. He quickly secured the trio of yellow properties and at the earliest convenience built a giant resort, three hotels deep, with water slides and chocolate fountains. I thought it was a tad showy, but I'm the one with integrity and perspective, so I kept my opinion to myself. Christian spent a lavish turn there, leaving him with nothing but a railroad and a five spot. He left in utter devastation. Max lost everything in a similar stay, although he wasn't really aware, being under the coffee table and all. I was a little bothered at how easily and cheerfully Ryan was bankrupting our children, but it wasn't until I checked into one of his smaller investments that I saw his true colors.

"That will be two hundred and forty dollars," he said (which is not really good customer service, I'd like to point out).

"I'm a little short on cash." I said.

"That's unfortunate," he said.

I offered him a nice fixer-upper property and a fifty dollar bill. He declined the offer, asking for my recently obtained one-house Pennsylvania Avenue--valued at $470.

"But, I don't owe you that much," I said.

"I don't care," he said. "You don't seem to have a lot of options."

"Well, are you going to pay me the difference?" I implored. (Imploring is like asking, but with more intensity and ticked-offness.)

"No," he said, without a second thought.

I stared at him, blinking in disbelief. And he had the audacity to laugh at me because he thought the disbelieving blinking was hilarious. The funniest thing he's ever seen, in fact.

"How do you sleep at night?" I asked. And I meant it.

There wasn't much game left at this point. Every roll of the dice led to more tragedy for me and the kids and more money and property to Ryan. Christian surrendered everything but his little metal top hat to Mr. Ruthless Moneygrabber, and was still in the hole when he made an emotional exit. Max--long gone to another one of Ryan's disgusting, garish, so-not-worth-it rent payments--took it much better. He was in the kitchen eating ice cream out of the carton.

I held on the longest, believing that all of the good karma seeds I had sown throughout my post-conviction playing time would finally yield a happy ending. You know, the one in which I own all of the properties and share them freely and equally with all the top hats, cars, irons, and wheelbarrows of the world, rent-free with an all-you-can-eat buffet? (Did you just get goosebumps?)

Yeah, well, I guess karma was taking a nap. I landed on another one of Ryan's pretentious properties, whose nightly rate was a trillion dollars plus one kidney.

"You could really use some time in prison," I said as I walked away in a huff.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Does It All Mean?

I reached in the pocket of my hoodie and found a tiny tooth. This doesn't happen every day, so I figured it must be a sign. Of what, I'm not sure; but a sign just the same.

I went to church and while singing a song about Jesus, a little boy handed me three coupons for Dunkin' Donuts. Another sign? Obviously.

Later, in the middle of watching a movie, Christian turned to me and whispered, "I just lost a molar." I'm not sure if this one was a sign or not, but he was wearing a hoodie.

Two teeth and three coupons for donuts. What is the Universe trying to say???

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Items in My Closet That I Never Should Have Bought

I clean out my closet fairly regularly, so most of my hideous mistakes have been tossed long ago, like that pair of mens jeans I bought for $5.99, convincing myself that I could make the look work. (FAIL.) Turns out, they actually design mens jeans for men. With lines and cuts that fit all (ahem) that a man has to offer, of which I have none. Who knew???

The clothes that I'm featuring today are the ones that are not hideous, per se, but hideous on me and examples of my occasional poor judgment. And I keep them around because I believe in Big Dreams, even dreams that I will wake up weighing 101 pounds, standing five foot, nine inches tall, looking shockingly like Heidi Klum. Sometimes when I'm shopping, I hear a mysterious voice whisper, "If you buy them, they will fit."

So I buy them. And then they hang in my closet and stare at me, day after day, enticing me and then making fun of me behind my back. These clothes are textbook passive aggressive. I think this one is the ringleader. Just look at those shifty eyes.

This is Houndstooth Semi-Jacket. How fabulous is this crisp-weather top?

Yeah, well. On me, it seems to make my already large arms quite a bit larger. It makes me look as bulky as a case of toilet paper at Costco. I want to love this top. So I keep it in my closet and watch it mock me and my linebacker arms. It's very unhealthy.

Next up, I give you Crappy Plasticky Shoes from GAP Outlet. These blister-makers laugh and laugh and laugh at me every time I look at them. The Green Crappy Plasticky Shoes have been worn approximately 1.25 times and those experiences can be summed up in three words: sweaty, painful, toe-cleavage.

The Navy Blue Crappy Plasticky Shoes have been worn 0.0 times. They think they're so funny.

Next, I give you the Sundress collection. Poppy Sundress is all beauty, no brains. She looks like she'll work, but she makes me look like a sad, sad lump of cookie dough laced with salmonella. I keep her around, because she looks soooo good on the hanger. And I seem to believe that counts for something. I have a new theory: If something looks fabulous on a hanger, it will only look as fabulous on someone who weighs as much as a hanger. Confession: I bought this without trying it on.

This sundress is an older mistake called Target Easter Wrap Dress. It's too short, it wraps in the wrong places and it makes me look like I'm trying to pretend I'm in high school. I keep it around just in case I ever get a time machine and can go back to high school, because (evil chuckle) I have a lot of things I'd like to do differently in high school. And I want to look really cute while I'm doing them.

Pink Eighties Jacket and I started out alright...until I saw us together in a photo. Holy Doesn't Fit Me, Batman! Still, it stares at me longingly.

Strange Sleeve Sweater was an attempt to cover my linebacker arms. It's hard to tell in the photo, but there is a LOT of material there in those sleeves. I approached the sweater on the rack and said very Napoleon Dynamite style, "I like your sleeves." As it turns out, all that extra material just makes me look like I have extra large arms, instead of large arms. And that little ruffle around the middle? It produces that "Is she pregnant?" sentiment in passers by. Confession: I bought this without trying it on.

Old Navy Wedges and I go back a couple of years. I want to love them, but I'm not in love with them. I'm in love with the idea of them. Finally, I had to sit down with them and say, "It's not you, it's me." They wept for six hours and begged to be spared from Goodwill, even though I told them there was a pair of feet out there for them. Such clingy little shoes.

Question: Do you ever buy an article of clothing because it subconsciously reminds you of someone you like? I guess I do. I bought this shirt, and while I like it, I felt like I was trying to channel someone else in wearing it. Then it hit me--this is Should Have Been Kami's Shirt. (Seriously, Kami, do you have this shirt or one like it?) I bought it with subconscious hopes that I would suddenly be a nicer person, a great photographer, and capable of any do-it-yourself project in the world.

The tale of me and Betty Draper Wishes She Had This Jacket is a tragic one. I bought it a few years ago and if I could lose 9 or 10 pounds, we could totally get back together. "I eat because I'm unhappy that I can't fit into my favorite jacket, and I can't fit into my favorite jacket because I eat." TRAGEDY!

Finally, I give you Elf Dress Purchased for Mormon Singles Christmas Party. I hate to call this a mistake, exactly, but the facts of the story are this: I was visiting Alyssa in New York a couple of years ago during the holidays and she asked me to tag along to a fancy-schmancy Christmas party at the top of a fancy-schmancy apartment building. We decided that the skirt and jacket I'd brought with me was not going to do, so I picked up this jolly little number and wore it to the party with a gold belt. I haven't been invited to any Mormon Singles Christmas Parties since then. Perhaps it is because I'm married, but I think it may be because of this dress.

So, there you have it. These are the clothes that haunt me, taunt me, and remind me that I'll never be Heidi Klum, not even Heidi Kluminsky of Minot, North Dakota.

Someday, when I have enough courage and therapy, I will send these clothes off to bless the closets of others. And then I will replace them with new mistakes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Choose-Your-Own-Blog-Post Returns!

Remember that movie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Well, it's been running in my head ever since I lost my groove and I keep thinking about how much anguish Stella and I share. Actually, I've never seen the movie; I only know the title. So, it's the title that's been running in my head.

But the point is that I, like Stella, lost my (blogging) groove and need it back. Or else I will perish in the depths of uninteresting-ness. (And what a terrible place that is! Everybody sits around in beige sweaters, reading small appliance user manuals and eating fat free popcorn with no butter.)

Anyhoodle, I was channeling Stella this morning and came up with an idea that I hope will work. I am bringing back one of my favorite games here at the WBWG--Choose Your Own Blog Post! In case you missed it before, here's how it works: I will give you two blog post titles and you vote on the one you prefer and I will write the one with the most votes the next day. Good idea? It was Stella's, actually. She's got her groove back, as you recall, so she's practically bursting with good ideas.

Here are the choices for tomorrow's post:

Ten Items in My Closet That I Never Should Have Bought
My Parents Left Me at a Gas Station in Las Vegas

Practice democracy and vote now. Me and my long-lost groove thank you for it. So does groovy Stella.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Was Bound to Happen

I woke up this morning and something terrible had happened: I was completely uninteresting. And everything I thought of to say was so boring and uninteresting that I had to drink half a Red Bull and wear red pants just to keep from dying of disinterest. After the Red Bull, I looked deep into my soul, earnest to find something moving and important to share, and this is what I found:

Me, at my desk, eating popcorn, riddled with uninteresting things to say.


Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Proof That People Can Change

Big news, everybody. I changed grocery stores this week.  (I'll wait while all of the ladies gasp and all of the guys scratch their heads and say, "So?") I did it, though. I shopped at a new grocery store on Tuesday and I didn't even tell the old grocery store that I was leaving it. It's a stone cold heart I have.

To be honest, my relationship with the old grocery store was doomed from the beginning. It was a marriage of convenience and I loved it for all the wrong reasons. First and foremost, it's ridiculously close to my house. It was one of only two landmarks I used to be able to find without my GPS when we first moved here (the other landmark was my mailbox) and I felt awfully proud of myself when I successfully pulled into the parking lot each time without getting lost.

Second, the store is named ACME (part of the Albertson's chain) and, call me crazy, but I frequently fantasized about purchasing anvils and dynamite and catapults there.  Not that I have need of anvils and dynamite and catapults right now, but--and I cannot stress this enough--YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO NEED ONE.

Once inside, I did my best to overlook its faults--poor selection, annoying high prices, and bizarro employees. For example, there are only TWO brands of refried beans, a gallon of milk is four dollars, and the employees are part of a special work-release program from a traveling carnival.

My first experience at the store was late at night, the very day we signed our mortgage papers. We were driving home and I asked Ryan to pull in and let me grab a few staples for the fridge. He waited in the car with the kids and I quickly filled a shopping basket and found an open checkout lane.

The checker was a buggy-eyed fellow with no neck who looked suspiciously like the troll in The Three Billy Goats Gruff I used to read in first grade (Carnie Exhibit A). No problem, I thought, there are only so many Brad Pitts in the world. I will not be your judge. But when he started ringing up my purchases and making small talk? Well, that's when the strange-o-meter went off.

Troll: Mumble, mumble, mumble, nervous laugh, mumble, mumble.

Me: Excuse me? (I focused all my spidey senses on my hearing.)

Troll: Mumble. Cat. Mumble. Shoe horn. Mumble. Elbow. Mumble.

Me: .....Yeah. (Nodding politely.)

Troll: Mumble. Itching. Garbage truck. Window. Rice. Mumble. Dust. Chocolate. Asthma. Night. Dishrag. Mumble.

Me: .............Huh. (Nodding politely.)

Troll: Mumble. Mumble. (Hearty chuckle.)

Me: .....Oh yeah? (Nervously smiling, reaching hand into purse to locate makeshift weapon, securing plastic Happy Meal toy.)

Troll: (Handing me my receipt.) Mumble. Cotton. Mumble. Billy Goats. Mumble. Mumble.

ARE YOU CONFUSED YET? Yeah? Imagine standing there. And then imagine a host of other strange and not-especially-friendly-or-helpful employees on subsequent visits. And then ask me why I continued to patron this store for an entire year.

Why? Well, you know, one visit leads to another leads to another leads to another, and pretty soon you know where everything is located and you tell yourself that you're going to start clipping coupons and drink less milk and you never got to visit a real carnival as a kid and....I don't know, I really don't.


But everything changed on Tuesday. I woke up feeling empowered. I counted at least seven landmarks I can find without my GPS. I reminded myself that people are selling gallons of milk for less than three dollars and that I recently forsook financial stupidity. And more than that--I committed myself to the belief that people should have options when it comes to refried beans. THIS IS AMERICA, ISN'T IT?

So, I went to another store. And it was nice. I found groceries and had a lovely conversation with the checker about frozen egg noodles. At no point did I locate my concealed Happy Meal toy. And though there were no anvils for sale in the produce section, I am convinced that, if needed, I could find and obtain many solutions to any pesky roadrunner problems that may arise in the future.

And that, my friends, is what I call progress.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thirteen Words, Thirteen Snapshots

(This is a homework assignment from School Days , brought to me (and you) by Travelin' Oma. )

Baby. I am born in a modest home in Sandy, Utah on February 18, 1977. Yes, in the house, with my dad and aunt supervising the birth. I am born with no complications, round-cheeked and healthy. There's a picture taken that day with blanketed me held in my dad's arms.  He is wearing a striped shirt and has side burns.  He is thin and young, only 34. My mom is 34, too, and looks quite a bit like a young Liza Minelli but prettier. They have moved around a lot, including a three-year stint in Samoa, but they have come to Utah to stay.  New baby. New house. New business. Time to put down some roots.

Sunshine. It's not long before I learn my place in the family. My role is to perpetuate happiness. I make funny faces for pictures and wear a t-shirt that says, "I must hurry and catch up with the others for I am their leader." (My parents love this shirt and talk about it for thirty years. Do you have a t-shirt you've talked about for thirty years?) I have a head full of curls and a one-dimple grin. I like making my family smile and develop quite an identity around this idea. Occasionally this is a problem when I feel responsible to make people happy and uncomfortable expressing sadness.  But overall, I like my place. My favorite season is summer. Go figure.

Loud. I am precocious and frequently loud. And often obnoxious. I sometimes get in trouble in school for talking too much. I am always talking at church. And at home. I constantly want to be included with my older siblings and their conversations. I have many things to say, but nobody seems to want to listen. HOW ABOUT IF I SAY IT LOUDER? I am loud with my younger brothers, too.  I say a lot of loud, bossy things. If they don't listen, I sit on them.

Student. School is easy for me. It never occurs to me that it could be difficult for some. One day my dad sits with me on the couch in the living room and shows me my Iowa test scores. He shows me the little dot on the graph that represents me and the line that represents the national average. He tells me that I am very, very smart. I think I have made him proud. I feel good. I like making him proud. I never forget that moment.

Boys. I am in middle school. I meet two boys who will change my story. After a failed middle school romance, one will try to ruin my life for several years, with moderate success. The other, my honors classmate and favorite conversationalist, will prove himself as my only true friend and the love of my life. When I am fourteen years-old, I know that I will marry him, but I never say that to anyone because I know how ridiculous it sounds. But I know. know. His name is Ryan.

Actress. I pull up in my car to the theatre and enter through the back doors into the green room. I get a free Dr. Pepper from the soda fountain and say hello to my fellow cast mates. I like to be with them. I rarely acknowledge to myself how miserable high school is, how much I dread going each day, how I wish to be invisible, and how good it feels to spend a few hours each week pretending to be someone else. And be applauded for it. I don't give this extra-curricular activity enough credit.

Lost. I am in my first semester at BYU. I have no idea how socially damaged I am after my experiences in middle school and high school. I am suspicious of every potential friendship and feel nothing in common with my roommates. My church experience is bizarre. I am supposed to meet my ward for prayer on Sunday nights and hug a boy I don't know each time. I am horrified. I want more than anything to love college, but I hate it. I hate this weirdo city. The only thing I like is my writing course. I move back home after nine months and drop out of school after another semester.

Wife. I am twenty-years-old and married. People keep saying that I'm young, but I think I am old enough. I think I am mature. In some ways I am. Being married to Ryan is the easiest thing I have ever done. We have loved each other for so long. We have waited for each other for so long. It is a sweet relief to start our lives together, even though I know my family is somewhat skeptical of our success. But I'm not.

Mother. Everybody warns me that adjusting to marriage is hard, but it isn't. So, having a baby will be easy too, I figure. We don't wait very long to get pregnant. I am wrong about this adjustment. We bring Christian home from the hospital and I love him and fear him all at once. I take a drive with Ryan a few days later when my sister offers to babysit. "I don't want you to think I'm a bad person," I say, "but WHAT HAVE WE DONE?" We figure it out together, day by day. We take our time before we have a second baby. We are getting smarter, even though I'm still grateful for all the decisions I made when I thought I was old and mature.

Student (Revisited). I am twenty-four years-old and working full-time to put Ryan through graduate school. I have a years-long regret about dropping out of college. I have been telling myself that I will go back to school once life slows down. Then, I have a moment of enlightenment and understand an eternal truth: life never slows down. I enroll in school and spend the next four years chipping away part-time at a degree while I continue working full-time. I finish. I want to feel proud of myself, but I don't. I experience a feeling of relief. I have taken care of unfinished business.

Writer. I have taken every writing course offered. There are no others to take. I miss being able to write and share with my class mates. I get a crazy idea to start a writing group. I take flyers around my neighborhood and ask people to join. I feel exhilarated and embarrassed all at once. I am shocked when my neighbor friends show up, pens in hand, and even more shocked when they come back. I fall in deep, true love with writing, as well as the process of writing. My writing group meets monthly for several years. I make new and lasting friendships. I begin to heal socially. I start a blog. I apply for an honest-to-goodness writing job. I get it. I am in awe.

Sponsor. On the rare occasion that somebody asks me what I do for a living (Why do we only ask men what they do for a living?), I say, "I'm sponsoring a graduate student." Ryan is in his eighth and final year of his doctoral program. The program is intense and though he has been incredibly successful, he is cursed with the feeling that he might be kicked out of the program at any moment for failure to be smart enough. (Par for the course, right, my PhD friends out there?) He begins an agonizing process of applying and interviewing for jobs all over the country. He is going to be a professor. It is impossible for me to imagine life after school. It is all we have ever known. I wonder what I will do with myself once I am no longer the primary breadwinner. I dream of writing a book.

Transplant. Sunlight is coming in the window and I open my eyes. I see the leafy trees outside the window. I am in love with the trees, the landscape, this spot of geography that suits me like my favorite red hoodie. I walk downstairs and make breakfast for Christian and help him tame his inherited head of curls before he walks out to meet his friends at the bus stop. I wake Max and fix him breakfast. An hour later, the kids are gone, three rounds of breakfast are in the sink, and I join Ryan in our yellow home office. I make a list of things to do today, divided in sections: work, home, book. I rarely cross everything off the list, but it doesn't upset me. I'll make a new list tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've known him since I was twelve and sometimes I forget...

...that we're in our thirties now
...that we're grown up with a grown-up mortgage and student loans and two kids and a dog
...that we have real jobs and real dishes in the cupboard that belong to both of us
...that we're not playing house
...that I'm not caught up in a seventeen-year-old's daydream.

(You didn't know I could be so mushy, did you?)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random: Splinter Group Edition

  1. Boy, do I have a lot of things to tell you.
  2. Yesterday my mom informed me that I might possibly be related to the Amish.  
  3. Or at least a splinter group of the Amish.
  5. If proven true, this will be a touching portion of the Hallmark made-for-TV movie of my life.
  6. Or the E! True Hollywood Story.
  7. Either one.
  8. Speaking of the Amish, I used a little bit of my Amish hot sauce last night on my chicken tacos.
  9. Just a splash.
  10. It was mildly delicious.
  11. Yet wholesome.
  12. With a tiny suggestion of spice.
  13. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
  14. But was overwhelmed with guilt afterward.
  15. And felt compelled to repent.
  16. That's Amish hot sauce for you.
  17. In other news, I visited the dermatologist yesterday.
  18. I made some observations.
  19. There is a vast difference between the waiting rooms of the dermatologists and the family practitioners.
  20. And the gynaroos.
  21. And the pediatricians.
  22. And even some dentists.
  23. The dermatologists office was more like a five-star hotel lobby.
  24. And I wondered: Does a dermatology resident do a rotation in Interior Design?
  25. I think they do.
  26. The "nodules" on my legs are nothing to worry about.
  27. Scar tissue from bug bites or ingrown hairs, they said.
  28. The dark spot on my forehead is also fine.
  29. It's hormonal, they said.
  30. "I'm not hormonal!" I screamed.
  31. No, I didn't.
  32. But that would have been funny.
  33. I probably didn't scream that because I'm part Amish.
  34. And we just don't do that.
  35. Even the splinter groups.
  36. We barely eat hot sauce, for crying out loud.
  37. I did have a mole cut off yesterday.
  38. It's not suspicious, they said, just ugly.
  39. And they should know--they've got a degree in Interior Design.
  40. So, just to recap--yesterday at the dermatologist I was called hormonal and ugly.
  41. And I paid them for it.
  42. I felt a little funny about it.
  43. But maybe that was just the numbing shots they gave me before the mole-cutting.
  44. That made me feel funny too.
  45. Actually, that made me feel nothing.
  46. Which is funny, if you think about it.
  47. Unless you're a robot.
  48. This morning Max woke up and put on his Halloween costume.
  49. He said, "I can't believe it's October!"
  50. I don't know how I'm going to break it to him.
  51. You know, that he's part Splinter Group Amish.
  52. And we just don't celebrate Halloween.
  53. Perhaps I can find a loophole here.
  54. What if I dress him up as an Amish kid?
  55. Technically, he wouldn't be in costume.
  56. I'm really liking the idea of dressing him up as an Amish kid.
  57. Then, I wouldn't have to rent an Amish kid .
  58. Or go to prison for proposing to rent one.
  59. Actually, I don't think I'd go to prison.
  60. Once the jury finds out that I'm part Splinter Group Amish, they'll acquit.
  61. They'll think I'm subconsciously reaching out to my roots.
  62. And they will be overcome with compassion.
  63. My attorney will show the photograph of my great grandmother and great aunt wearing their little bonnets.
  64. And everything will be water under the bridge.
  65. And also, I will have my attorney serve them Amish donuts while they deliberate.
  66. They will be putty in our hands.
  67. It's a lot of hassle I can avoid.
  68. By just dressing my kids up in Amish clothes.
  69. Which they will learn to like.
  70. Because I will bribe them with video games.
  71. And feed them Amish donuts.
  72. And small splashes of Amish hot sauce in their chicken tacos.
  73. It's win-win.
  74. I love it when a plan comes together.
  75. Would it bother you if this post ended on number 74 instead of a nice, solid number like 75?
  76. Yeah, me too.
Related Posts with Thumbnails