Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Sum of Existence?

Last night I spent Family home evening with Grandpa and Grandma Pratt. I thought going into it that it would perhaps be my last.

I wasn't ready for it. Not in the least. But when Ellen called and asked if I could come down and take some stuff from Grandpa's house, I decided that the best course of action would be to simply face it. But how do you put closure on a lifetime, or on two lifetimes? Sure I know all the cliches about what you collect during your life, what you can and can't take with you, the mark you leave on the world and the general worthlessness of things that, no matter what they cost, in the end are still just things. But there is something to be said for what is left behind. After all, as descendants of the deceased, no matter what it amounts to in boxes or bank accounts, it is ours to sift through, seeking to attach some meaning to the life now past, and hoping to attach the title “legacy” to some part or whole of that houseful.

So I threw an extra large back of M&Ms in my car and went to Salem, and I opened the door of the house I haven't been in since I spent the night there, the night he died. And it still smelled like them. And it still felt like them. And even if the furniture was gone, and there were simply piles and boxes strewn across the floor, it still felt like he should be sitting in the kitchen reading the dictionary or shelling walnuts, and she should be puttering around, putting some food together or collecting another stack of family history documents. And I was glad that Ellen had me come over alone at first, since it took me quite a few minutes to regain my composure. I stumbled around the house, opening cupboards and closets, not really looking for anything in particular, but finding every memory that I didn't know I sought. And just as I finished staring absently at a closet full of thread and thimbles, Ellen came in and began to give me a run down of all that was there and all that had been laid claim to. And I began to understand that while we each knew the same two people, we each treasured different things, and surely we could each find a different legacy to treasure in all of the things that were left. It seems a shame to divide it all up, when you consider the whole of the two people that assembled that collection. But somehow, we each need certain parts of that whole, and to try to simply take on the whole would be as disastrous to our minds and spirits as it would be to our basements and garages. So I looked at the whole of what is left behind, and I sifted out the things that were most important to me. Walnuts. Music. Good books. Thimbles. Thread. Bread Pan. Photograph. Dictionary. Apron. Hat. Bag. I'm still not ready for goodbye. I won't ever be ready for that. Good thing I believe in an eternity where I don't have to say goodbye. But at the same time, what are the lessons, the legacies, I need in order to survive my sojourn as well as they did?

Every book I opened had some photo or postcard stuck in the pages (I do that too). Every drawer had a collection of pencils and pens to rival Office Max (I do that too). Every cupboard had at least one food storage can of wheat or dried apples or beans and a stack of music and Family History info blended together as if they made more sense as a melange ( I do that too). Every closet contained some article of clothing that had been created from a sheet or some curtains, or else, the fancy clothes, the real store bought items, were the items I recognized as being church clothes. Grandpa hadn't touched Grandma's things. Everything was as if they had both continued up until that night I stayed there. The grocery list was still on the counter, where I left it the morning I was faced with too many phone calls. It's contents were just a little too poignant, touching and descriptive. M&M's, Yogurt, Ranch Dressing, and Melissa's Phone Number. The dresser still had her jewelry box and was scattered with their temple name tags. Also on the dresser were his pocket watches and her brushes. It recalled for a moment the Gift of the Magi, but that was quickly supplemented by what Grandma would have had to say about the story. “What a lot of silly nonsense, spending money for frivolous things. If you have such a gift as a pocket watch from your father, you shouldn't sell it for hair combs. And if you happen to have such beautiful hair that could be sold, then buy food or food storage, or put it in savings. (And once your hair is short, dye it a fantastic shade of red)” Grandma would never have spent money so freely. She saved it her whole life, and then took great pleasure in slipping a $20 to her grandkids that popped by for a visit. “To cover the cost of gas” she would whisper as she slipped it in my pocket. “Don't tell Grandpa” Meanwhile, Grandpa was taking the momentary distraction as an opportunity to sneak some ice cream bars out of the freezer, to slip to you under the table during that Scrabble game. “Don't tell Grandma” he would wink, as she pretended to not notice. And everyone knew perfectly well what both the right and left hand were doing.

I have a vivid memory of Grandma sewing a scripture case for me. It was on a red calico print, and she whipped it out pretty quickly, with no thought to pattern or size. As an 8-yr-old, I took no thought to how remarkable a skill that is. I remember vividly being fascinated by how quickly her fingers could work a needle, including the flashing of a thimble poised on her fourth finger. Have you tried to sew with a thimble lately? It is no small feat. She told me stories while she sewed. About how her daughter had sewn her fingers in a sewing machine, about the trouble my dad had gotten into as a child, about her ancestor's sacrifices for religion, and about her own life and the friends she had made and lost through the years. I didn't know then, as I anxiously waited for that red calico scripture bag, that in 25 years I would treasure the thimble and the stories.

I have a vivid memory of Grandpa, at work in his dark room, and that revolving door, always maintaining a light lock in the room, and being terrified of getting stuck in that black plastic circle that the door revolved around. A photograph is so much more than the image it retains. A memory is so much more than the event that it recalls. There is an image in my mind of him laying on the living room floor, in precisely the same way my dad always lays on the living room floor, listening to music. Knowing every work of that opera... Gilbert and Sullivan? And 25 years later, when I too knew every word of the opera, and we had sung it on the phone together, and we sang it in the hospital room the day before he passed away, I finally understand that not every child holds a memory of a dad or a grandpa lying on the living room floor. Does the music sound better there? Absolutely.

Once when computers were still a novelty and sound cards we the latest and greatest exciting gadget, Grandpa was programming his computer (with the orange typing on the black screen, using something you young kids haven't heard of called “DOS”) to play the melody lines of simple songs. He would write a short program, and Run Program, and you would hear a brief synthesized melody, and from the kitchen Grandma would call out “Oh Hurley, you are so clever” And Grandpa would smile and say, in his most Eeyore voice: “It's not that hard to do, but whenever I make the computer play a song, your Grandma tells me I'm clever, and that tickles me, so I do it again”

It's not about closure. I don't need closure. Why should I close the door on good people who lived great lives? And they don't want me to close that door any more than I want to shut it. Sure, there is something to be said for moving forward with our lives. But if we move forward without the legacies that have been left for us, then we move forward alone and we waste the proffered gift. So I'm leaving the door open just a crack, and I am pressing forward with a thimble on one finger and a scrabble tile on a necklace. And if there is an extra photo in my pocket or book on my shelf, well, my own descendants will have to forgive me the clutter. When it's their turn, they can sort through it and choose the pieces that mean the most to them.

And we move forward, the sum of their earthly existence becomes a part of the whole of my existence. And every time spend a Monday night with a quilt and a thimble, every time I put a little Gilbert and Sullivan in the stereo and lay down on the living room floor, every time I have M&M's or hotcakes or Apricot Jam for the treat, then I am spending Family Home Evening with them again.

Really, Pancakes?

Apparently today is National Pancake Day. Apparently IHOP is giving away free pancakes in honor of the... uh, national pancake-y-ness of it all. If I had my regular internet access, I would love to philosophize on the significance of pancakes. But darn it all, I'll just have to leave it to the rest of you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

wait wait wait!

My internet is down, and I am only able to access things in short snippets... I can type something up at home and find a minute or two to be connected at the laundromat or visiting people, but I can't actually read everyone elses's stuff. So if you all could just put your lives on hold until Quest comes and fixes my little blue box, that would be peachy.

But if not, please know that I will read everything and catch up as soon as I can. Until then I may resort to the old fashioned way, the telephone.

Also, Yes I have sold out and put ads at the bottom of my blog. Hey, if there is free money to be had in the world, why not give it a shot? We'll see if anything ever comes of it though.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's not quite a movie review...

But just for fun, I thought I would review my evening for you. In advance. Are you so excited?

I'm not.

It al starts a long long time ago. My first week at BYU, September 1994. I was living in the now flattened Deseret Towers, Building "S". I came to college with two suitcases and a box of blankets we had sent ahead to my mom's cousin's for safekeeping. Not a laptop or a car or a TV or even the luxury of the rented fridge from the housing people. That was $15 that could not be spared. I owned one pair of jeans and 3 skirts and could only imagine what someone would need and entire UHaul for. After nearly a week of classes that were in fact, the first challenging classes I had ever taken in my life (Sorry WHS and U of MN, but I have to be honest about that one) my brain was fried and I was ready to shut down. Admittedly, part of it could have been due to the 4am custodial, that does tend to affect your reasoning skills. Either way, I could no longer reason through Microbiology 130 (A class that has since been changed to a 300 level) or Chem 105 (which I still haven't passed). So I stumbled down to the basement, vending machine land and home of one television set to be shared by 300 girls. I brought my Microbiology textbook with me, in an attempt at looking like a serious student, but let's face it, my poor brain had other things in mind. It was nearing 7pm, an hour when prime time television was, well, prime. And there was just one other person down there, I did not know her, and she did not know me, but she was there first, so she took control of the remote and we mutually turned our brains off.

And that night, we were introduced to some new Friends. First there were six of them. Phoebe, Rachael, Monica, Joey, Chandler, and Ross. Ah, Friends. Little did I know that the show would come to define my generation in the same way MASH defined my parents. Like it or not, every person my age knows them, and the show is an expression or my generation culturally. It's not just the fact that Rachael had a baby out of wedlock, it's that she did it without the Murphy Brown scandal behind it. It's not just the idea that Ross's ex was gay or that he got married and un-married with reckless abandon, it's that he did it and we accepted it. It's not even the fact that they were a bunch of single friends in the city, but it has more to do with how when they started, there was a boys apt and a girls apt, and when it finished, nobody cared about the unwed gender mixing and we had all been taken on a journey of love and support that we were on some level jealous of. They were eccentric and normal, faulty and perfect, beautiful and quirky, and even fat and thin. But they loved each other and stuck together and became a part of our lives through the TV screen and their humor.

After all, most people now know that some things are like a cow's opinion. It's "Moo". And why be Zen when you can be "Unagi"? Most of all, Ross and Rachael were on a break. I'm not condoning their moral choices or their reckless lives, I'm just pointing out the impact they had. Whether the world is different because of the show, or the show defined the way the world was, the fact is, it now stands quite representative of the social culture of my college years. And it all began that first week, with a Microbiology textbook and a Pink Sugar Cookie from the vending machine.

But it didn't end there. Because soon after I met the six friends, I met quite a few new people. They held my pre-med attention much more quickly, because they all worked in the ER. And with the first episode, Carol clearly had issues with Doug, Dr. Green was going to be an amazing Dr, Susan was a friend and oh so dependable and Dr Carter.... Oh Dr. Carter. Sure, George Clooney was supposed to be the show's heartthrob. But it was Dr. Carter that took my breath away. Besides the fact that as a med student he was going through struggles that I hoped to soon face, he was just so adorable. Oh Dr. Carter. If there had been an internet for me to search, I would have googled him. If I had owned a computer, he would have been my wallpaper. If imdb had been invented, I would have promptly researched every movie or tv show he had participated in. My major changed, but Dr Carter didn't. My address changed, but no matter where I moved, he was always there waiting for me on Thursday nights. Eventually, he even popped up in morning re-runs on TNT. Yes, Dr. Carter was my first college crush.

Which brings me back to this evening. Friends is gone, I haven't watched ER in years. I don't have television service except for when it's raining or snowing and I rig a hangar wire and get fairly snowy reception of NBC. Chanel 5. The original station on which I met my college friends and Dr. Carter. I have been hearing rumors that he is coming back to the show for a few episodes this last season. I couldn't tell you the first thing about American Idol. But if Dr. Carter is anywhere to be found, I will hear about it. And it's tonight!!!!

Tonight, when I have to attend a Food Handlers class for work.
How disappointing, how anti-climactic, how completely absurd. Not only do I have to pay someone $15 to etll me to wash my hansd before serving food, I have to do it on the night when the only dependable college love that I had makes his much anticipated return visit.

Oh well. At least now I can catch the episode online within 24 hours of it's original airtime. I'll just google it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I just need to write. Not edit, just write.

What is it about spending the day with people you love? I spent yesterday dreading this week, even knowing that I still had the day off today, somehow church time sent me into the anxiety spiral of knowing that the end of the weekend was approaching. And this morning when I got up, I was in a frantic state of needing to accomplish things and make the day worthwhile in order to feel better about the upcoming work week. I just kept coming up with tasks to accomplish telling myself the entire time that no matter how I spent the rest of the day, it would not be wasted because I had at least finished _____. (list mindless grown up task here) I washed and vacuumed the car, I filed papers, I alphabetized books, I cleaned up computer files, I sorted laundry, I went to the store and ran a myriad of errands. And by noon, I was still in a state of panic that tomorrow would come and I wouldn't be emotionally ready for it. But at noon I met a friend for lunch, and we chatted for an hour and then chatted for another hour and I was starting to relax. Then I met more friends who were headed out for lunch so I joined them and just got a soda and we chatted and chatted and did various mindless grown up tasks that were not that different from the mindless tasks I had spent the morning doing. Yet somehow, I was feeling more ready for the week. And the whole time, one of my favorite lines of poetry was running in and out of my head. "Oh if thou lovest not whom I love, alas thou lovest not me"

And then suddenly I was driving home, an hour's drive, and feeling worlds better than I had at the beginning of the day. And that phrase bouncing around in my head started to make even more sense than it had before. You see, before when I considered it I simply loved the obvious connection it had to atonement and gospel principles. And I loved the idea that in order to love me you have to make some effort to know and understand the things and people that I love. But tonight I finally began to sense a deeper reality to it. You see, when there are people that you love, really love, and you let them love you, then you begin to affect each other. In the same way that you pick up inside jokes from your friends, you pick up quirks and mannerisms from those you love. You share experiences, you share ideas and opinions and inspiration and bits of you begin to reflect those that you love the same way that bit of them begin to reflect you. And while you always remain truly yourself, you also reflect those that you love because somehow when you let them in, and when you let them take a piece of you, you also took a piece of them. I'm not even just talking about those deep friendships that last 20 years or a lifetime or an eternity. I am also talking about the little friendships that might just be blossoming or that might only last a month or two. I'm talking about any relationship where you see something that you admire and you make that person your friend and that trait becomes a part of you. And suddenly you realize that you are becoming like those that you love. And maybe it helps you to love yourself a little more. Or maybe it helps you to love your friends a little more. But either way, no one can possibly love all of you without loving also those that you love, because the whole you that needs to be loved includes all sorts of bits you have collected from those that you love. And we fill in the missing bits or the rough bits of ourselves with the good bits from those that we love and it would be impossible to seperate out the bits of me that you think are more me than the bits of me that are in fact from someone that I love. So if you don't love those that I love, you can't possibly love me.

Does that make any sense at all?

Whether you understand it or not, it comes to this: There are people that love me. All of me. including the bits of me that still need working on. And I love them back. Including the bits of them that still need working on. And the idea that we are all working on things and willing to love and help each other through the rough bits is in fact the foundation of the Atonement and of hope and of repentance and of forgiveness and of love. And with friends like that, I can face a work week full of people that aren't willing to give me chances. Because you see, my hope has to come from a better place. It comes from a place where people think that bits of me are good enough to include in themselves. And it comes from a place where bits of my friends have made me a better person as well.

And all of that means that I am better prepared for the week, simply because for a few hours today, I loved some people and they loved me back.

It's John Donne, by the way. Not one of his sonnets (which are also fantastic) but a poem. I'll have to look it up., and perhaps toss in an edit with more of the text. But the important part is:
Oh if thou lovest not whom I love, alas, thou lovest not me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I steal blog entry ideas from other people.

I take it as a compliment if they steal ideas from me.

When I was working early morning custodial at BYU, I sang in the bathrooms because I secretly hoped that someone would hear me and tell me I was fantastic. Someone did hear me, and they told me I was fantastic.

When I was 7, President Gordon B Hinckley (then a counselor to Spencer W Kimball) told me I was a really good "sweeper" (I was sweeping the sidewalk outside our chapel in Michigan) I think that might be why I continued to work custodial for all 5 years I was at BYU, even when I was also employed as an MTC teacher. I like sweeping floors because I am good at it.

I still miss President Hinckley. Sometimes I go buy myself a bag of grape hard candies and eat them while reading some of his talks. (He always had candies in his pockets, and would leave one there when you shook his hand. If it fell to the floor, he would tell you you dropped something. I remember specifically grape candies.)

The person who told me I was fantastic plus the BYU bishop who encouraged me to follow a dream plus the member of the Stake High Council who got me through the music theory classes have affected my life more than they will ever understand. I am only in contact with one of those three people. The other two probably don't even know what they did.

I have every intention of going on another mission. (I checked, and I can go again when I turn 40)

I know exactly how much I need to save up in order to go, and when I have to start in order to do it.

When I turn 40 and leave on my mission, my oldest nephew will be returning from his mission, and my next nephew will be a year away from leaving. I did the math hoping I would go at the same time as one of them.

I plan to bring grape candies with me when I go.

The only thing that motivates me to lose weight is frivolously expensive but very cute clothing.

L. Tom Perry told me I was beautiful once. I listen extra well during his talks as a result. While I generally don't believe such things, I have to believe him, because I sustain him as an apostle and I don't think an apostle would lie.

I saw myself in a mirror today and suddenly realized that I have started to look old and tired.

I haven't been on a real date in 8 years and 3 months. (Yes, I know it down to the day.)

I don't count blind dates as real, but I have been on at least one per year since then.

The reason I don't count blind dates as real is because the guy doesn't actually see me and find something attractive about me before we end up spending the evening together.

My grandmother told the family that I spent the last two years of my life sitting in my parents basement watching "inappropriate movies" (say it in a hushed voice, as if to indicate pornography) I was actually working 4 jobs, 72 hours a week. And teaching seminary.

It's a joke now, but when I first found out, I pretended to laugh and then had to go walk through Target for 2 hours while I cried and calmed down.

I really am happier here in Utah. As much as the depression still ebbs and flows, and the job is a nightmare, I am better able to understand my emotions and see and trust myself and have confidence in my choices.

I don't know why location makes such a difference, except that somehow this is where I am supposed to be. And I was always supposed to be here. Minnesota is only where I am from, not where I belong.

I look forward to being the crazy aunt that is here in Utah and available for support and meals if ever any of my nieces or nephews what to come to school here. I hope some of them do.

I promise to never try to set them up on blind dates.

I actually hate hugging people, but have come to terms with it as a social nicety that must be endured in order to establish friendship.

I regret that I never hugged some of my mission companions, since I understand now that they might have needed it. That may be the only regret I have about my mission.

I wish that I was better at hugging and wanting to hug people. I am making honest efforts.

There are some people that I have learned to love to hug. I count that as success.

As much as I protest the cliches, I love baking and sewing and singing hymns. And cats.

I am probably severely allergic to cats, but I am in denial and would like to stay that way.

As a kid, my favorite daydream involved me becoming famous. It didn't matter how, just as long as I was important.

Now my favorite daydream involves a book, a lawnchair, and fresh strawberries.

I don't think I've lowered my standards. I think I've raised them.

But I still wonder what happened to the little girl who wanted to be important, and I hope I haven't disappointed her.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shall we call him... Franklin?

So let's just be hypothetical for a moment. Let's say you have a friend who works with children. And let's say that the children she works with are somewhere around the age of 5. And in that place where she works with children they serve disgusting cheap food from a mass-produced school lunch style cafeteria, in little styrofoam dinner trays sealed with cellophane across the top. Besides the fact that the food is disgraceful considering the amount of money parents are shelling out for their spoiled children's private care, there is usually a pretty small portion of food there. So let's say that said employer supplements with canned fruit to fill the empty 1/3 section of the dinner tray.

There is always one child in every room that is a Class A Space Cadet. Not only does it take them 25 minutes longer than any other child to accomplish anything, they also manage to turn the simplest tasks into adventures in difficulty and frustration. That sentence is pure fact. There is nothing hypothetical about the existance of space cadet children. Where most children will throw a used paper towel into the garbage can that is situated immediately next to the paper towel dispenser, "Franklin*" (the name is both hypothetical and has been changed) will gaze distractedly into space for 8 minutes or until called by the teacher to simply throw said used towel away. Upon arrousal from his distracted state, Franklin will then walk away from the garbage can placed strategically next to him, around the entire classroom, passing no fewer than 4 garbage cans that have not moved location in the 10 months that hhe has been assigned to this classroom still holding a slightly moist and crumpled towel, eventually returning back to the original garbage can and deposit the paper towel on the rim of said can, where it will promptly fal to the floor and remain forgotten.

Now, hypothetically speaking of course, you should know that today, after Franklin took an extra 23 minutes to put his shoes on and put his boots away after recess, he (hypothetically) joined us at the lunch table, where most of his friends were already finishing their slimy ravioli and yellowed peas. One of his hypothetical and thoughtful friends passed him the aforementioned supplemental canned peaches. And Franklin, in all of his hypothetical awareness of life the universe and everything, proceeded to serve himself a large spoonful of peaches...

without taking the cellophane off the tray.

Teacher turns around just in time to see Franklin desperately trying to trap an entire serving of slimy peaches in his tiny hands while simultaneously attempting to open the cellophane and hide his gaffe from his teacher and his friends. The peaches keep slipping out of his hands and in between his fingers and sliding aroung the table and he couldn't get a grip on the cellophane and the tray was getting more and more covered in peach juice and...

...well, hypothetically speaking, wouldn't that just be the funniest thing you saw that day?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sparkly Red Shoes and Kindergarten Philosophy

Once upon a time I had a 4 year old niece with a whole lot of wisdom and even more style. She had obsessively matched her hair clips to her shirt and shoes since the early age of 18 months. She knew what she wanted to wear and she wore it with perfectly coordinated accessories. She had impeccable taste in clothing, colors, toys and movies. She recognized Wizard of Oz as a great classic as quickly as she identified too much leopard print as cliche and chose the most expensive purse from the rack. She refused to be seen in a feather boa, but could sport a tiara with as much delicacy as if she had been born in a castle. And one day a strange thing happened. She came out of her room wearing a green outfit, and put on her sparkly red Dorothy shoes. Ruby slippers that did not even remotely match her green shirt with purple flowers on it. And her mom, knowing her distinct sense for the way things should go, asked "Are you sure that's what you want to wear?"

And my most fashionable niece, in all her wisdom and style said, "I know it doesn't match, but it feels like a sparkly shoe day, and when it feels like a sparkly shoe day, you should wear them. Because you never know when you are going to wake up and your sparkly shoes won't fit anymore."

So I was perusing blogs, and Jessica posted her reflective bit about her "someday list". As I was reading through it, I thought that yes, I have been coming around that same Someday corner myself. You know, telling myself "someday" but then suddenly realizing that today is as good of a "someday" as tomorrow might be. Sure some somedays need time to cure and age, but not everything is wine or cheese. In fact, Some "Somedays" are like ruby slippers.

Suddenly I thought:

Gee, I need to write a someday list so I can start doing those things.

Because nothing in my life gets done unless it is on a list. That's right, and in case something needs to get done or is getting done that isn't already on a list, I stop everything and write a list. (Thus the neccessity of the journals with me at all times.)

So here you have it, my current Someday List:

Bring treats to work (force them to love me because I am a fantastic chef...).
Bake those cookies... (lucille)
Fly someplace tropical on a whim.
Renew my passport and use it more often.
Audition for another show.
Find a voice teacher and get healthy again.
Make a new dress.
Learn to tap dance (better, more than just the 2 routines I know).
See Arches.
Hike more.
Write a research paper on something I actually want to research.
Find someone willing to give me feedback on the paper.
Submit a paper to a symposium.
Start back at school.
Move my furniture around.
Hang that picture.
Get permission to paint the kitchen fun colors, then do it. (I'm thinking seabreeze blue and icebox lemon).
Join a cause that I believe in, and volunteer with them.
Plant a raised bed strawberry garden.
Finish arranging that hymn and find someone to sing it.
Finish the one quilt so I can start the next.
Work on the quilt I have been making for myself.
Try that recipe.
Go to Disneyland (that's right, I've never been).
Finish reading Ivanhoe
Wear my ruby slippers more often
Add more things to my Someday List

So here's to the wisdom of a 4 year old. She will turn 6 on Saturday, and I need to get a sparkly card in the mail and bake a few cupcakes to celebrate. I'll even bring them to work, and knock the first thing off my list.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nancy's Head: Inside Edition

There are voices in my head. Robert Fulghum referred to them as a "committee". I refer to mine as the "commit-me". Clever, huh? The thing is, I think we all have voices in our heads. At the very least, we have contrasting perspectives and opinions that battle it out until a decision is made. I am not sure how they manifest themselves in other people's heads, but in my head, they are voices and the voices form a committee and the committee determines my actions. There are varied voices, some that get more face time than others, and the voices have other voices that either support them or argue against them.

Would you like to meet a few of them?

Tonight I am feeling pretty balanced, so most of the voices have equal footing. It's the best time to meet them. Otherwise, you have to listen to an argument or even worse, just one of them. And just one of these voices, unchecked, can be horribly mean.

First, meet "Paranoid". Paranoid first appeared in junior high, and I had almost gotten rid of him entirely when I took a psych class in college. I learned in psychology that paranoia is a symptom of crazy, at which point I immediately became paranoid that I was crazy, thus confirming my self-diagnosis by attaching the symptom to the disease (it's a downward spiral). Since then, Paranoid has taken up permanent residence with another voice in my head, "Crazy". They are best friends. Paranoid has most recently fixated on my job. He thinks they are out to get me. (By which I mean fire me, not kill me.) Crazy might agree with Paranoid, but is too pre-occupied with how much more successful my brothers and sisters are than me. He's been spending time with Competitive and with Grandma. But you can see how the two ideas, (that I am going to lose my job and that my siblings are more successful than me), really work together and love each other.

Lest you think there is any validity to the negativity of that paragraph, let me now introduce you to two other voices that room together. I call them "Sane" and "Cynic". Sane knows that I have a job, that I am good at my job, and that I will only lose it if the entire center closes due to low enrollment. Cynic is friends with sane because they frequently agree. Well, not entirely, but they at least find each other amusing. Plus, Cynic gets a whole lot of voice time, so I force him to consult with Sane as frequently as possible. They balance each other, and together, they balance out Crazy and Paranoid.

Cynic has another good friend, called "Logic". Cynic calls on Logic as backup and support all the time. Logic doesn't always support Cynic, but Cynic still uses him. I actually force Logic to live with "Dreamer", just because sometimes Dreamer needs to be kept in check. They can't stand each other, but they are not allowed to voice an opinion without consulting each other. I am also trying to make "Hopeful" spend more time with these guys, but for some reason, Hopeful has latched on to Terrified, and he buries her every time she tries to speak up. I am trying to feed Hopeful more chocolate ice cream so she can regain her strength.

Not all of the voices in my head have roommates or friends. There are a few loners in the mix. Lazy is a loner, mostly because she doesn't make the effort to make friends. I'm not sure that I would want her to move in with anyone either, since Lazy combined with anyone else could spell committee disaster. The other real loner in my head is "Dumb Girl". Dumb Girl has been popping up a lot more since coming back to Utah and having friends again. Dumb Girl tries to make friends with people, but generally she gets squashed by all the other voices on the committee. She is, after all, quite weak. It's OK, she never has anything intelligent to say anyways. About the only thing she does contribute is unwarranted concern for people (especially males and children) and she really likes babies. I mean really. That's when she gets loud. Oh, and sometimes she tries to flirt, but she really bad at it.

Along with Lazy and Dumb Girl, There is another voice I try to suppress as much as possible. Her name is "Suzy Utah". She is the voice that offers to crochet, quilt, and bake things. She doesn't just offer, she is convinced that those things will cure all ills. And she likes Mormon pop music. Sometimes she requests Kozy 106 on Sundays and I even let her own one CD of the BYU Young Ambassadors from back in the day. She got a lot more face time while I was at BYU. Now mostly I try very very hard to keep her away from Dumb Girl. Can you imagine?

I would kick Suzy Utah and Dumb Girl out entirely, except for one voice that continues to allow them in. Her name is "Spiritual Sue" and she likes to give everyone a chance, except for Lazy. I would love to report that Spiritual Sue always runs the show, but she doesn't. She does a good job at advocating love and kindness and patience and such, and she really knows her scriptures. but she gets to be a bit too much for Cynic and Paranoid and Crazy, and when the three of them all agree on something, not much can be done. Sometimes, she teams up with Gospel Scholar, and the two of them really get things done.

Time is running short, and you haven't even gotten to meet "Anxious", "Depressed", "Smarty-Pants", or "Calm". I'm glad you already have met Funny Guy.

I'm just not sure that any of us would really make a whole person without a committee in our heads. Just imagine if you were trying to listen to, say, the President's speech on economic crisis, and you only let one voice run the commentary and response in your head. Dumb Girl wouldn't even understand what was happening, Suzy Utah would respond with a laissez-faire attitude, Gospel Scholar might see the end of the world, and Cynic would probably go seeking out Paranoid's apartment so they could have a party watching re-runs of 24. Logic would listen and agree, and without allowing other voices to question, no real thought process would ever happen. And Lazy would fall asleep, dragging Hopeful for a bigger tax refund with her. You see, nothing would ever really be resolved. But all of the voices combined ask good questions and force Lazy to stay awake looking for a tax break and forcing Dumb Girl to go sit in a corner with her head in the sand.

So next time we are chatting and you don't like what I am saying, you might try the TV psychiatrist approach to my committee. Just ask to speak with someone else.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday is a special day...

It's getting late, and I am sitting in front of my computer resisting the urge to pull up another episode of NCIS online and watch as I drift off into happy dreams of Mark Harmon and "Agent DiNozzo". But the fact is, I haven't updated for a week, and I have about 4 posts that I started throughout this week and never ended because I was either entirely too exhausted or just plain feeling negative, I went back and re-read them in hopes of reviving something, but to no avail. One may be salvageable, but doesn't entirely reflect me tonight, so it will wait. The rest have been trashed.

I have decided what I want to be when I grow up. But before I unveil the big plans for my future, I have to ask, who voted for "cat lady on welfare?" I suppose you don't have to show yourself if you don't want to, I'm just curious who dares to be soooo funny in my time of crisis? I like you, whoever you are.

So are you ready for my big reveal? Are you on the edge of your seat? Don't worry, you won't need to grip the keyboard or anything. Because the thing that I am going to be when I grow up is...


Oh yes, of course, you are thinking, that's what we all want.

Well, yes, you all want it, but how many people actually go out and get it?

But it's not a carreer.


I have a job that pays my bills. And I am grateful for it even when I am frustrated with it beyond belief. And I will continue to search for a better job that pays my bills with a little elbow room, but the fact is, my job does not define me.
Let me clarify a little.

This was a rough week at work. The exhausting kind in which it feels like friday afternoon starting on Tuesday morning. The kids were unruly, the boss only served to aggravate the situation, and by the real Friday night I barely had the ability to contain the exhaustion tears until I got to my car after work. Then came Saturday. I ran errands. I did grocery shopping and I picked up a birthday present and I chatted with a few people and I debated moving around my furniture (a frequent Saturday activity of mine) then I went to dinner with friends. Good friends. The kind I don't have to worry about saying the wrong things or the right things with. The kind that will laugh at me and with me and it's just normal fun. The evening wasn't a spectacular spectacular, it was relaxed and easy. It was the kind of night that is exaclty what is needed after an exhausting week. And I could afford the eating out without anxiety over budgets. And I could look my friends in the eyes and smile and trust the love and respect we have grown for each other. And I could laugh easily and I could dump or gripe if I wanted to, but I found that I didn't want to. Because I felt happy. Not giddy, not ecstatic, not entertained or entertaining, just happy. And I liked it. And I decided that I can work whatever job I have, or whatever job comes along, and I can still be Nancy the Happy Person. Why am I stressing over all the rest of that stuff? Who says I have to have a career? I never wanted to be rich. I just want to make ends meet. And also, I wanted to be happy. When did we start losing sight of that anyways?

There comes a time in everyone's life when they have to be a grown up, and decide what they want and how to acheive it. For some people, that comes with raising and supporting a family, for some people, it means finding fulfillment in a career, for some it means building a secure retirement, and for me it means simply being happy. I will make the appropriate course changes as they come, but for now, I'm pulling up an episode of NCIS.

Good night!