Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Just imagine for a moment the facebook messages exchange that had me writing this at 6 this morning:
  • Today
  • Nancy Beth
    That's all well and good, (INSERT NAME OF OBNOXIOUS MALE). You'll have to forgive me for being silent and not take personal offense (ITS ACTUALLY BEEN LESS THAN 1 WEEK). I'm in the middle of final exams, and am more concerned about writing graduate papers, internship applications, and curriculum vitae at the moment than I am in striking up chats and such. Perhaps if you choose to understand that we are all individuals with individual pressure and needs rather than lumping the behavior of 600 people in with your experience of 2 of them, you will have the patience to let me get through finals and concerts and a holiday season with family before you write off my behavior as snobbish.
    Now I have about 4 pages to write, 23 to edit, and another 45 to read before noon today, and I don't particularly feel like spending any more time justifying my own behavior or the behavior of members of an organization I love but do not represent. Have a great week, I hope you get to see and enjoy the concerts.
Maybe I'll tell you all the rest of the story another day. But as you can see, I'm very busy. Suffice it to say for now: he's not even my friend.  He sought me out for information on one of my many hot friends.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rehearsal Poem

We tittered at first when sweet Mack chose to spell                      

“H-E-Double-Toothpick” instead of saying “Hell”.                             

We giggled out loud when Mack thought the word “Breast”       

Was too vivid to say, so he changed it to “bless’d”.                          

But tonight our director dear as can be,                                          

Was faced with two words not in his repertoire-y.                     

Endearing shy nature was tested by fire                                                               

Introducing a specialist visiting choir.                                                                                      
And that singing doctor, without knowing Mack                                     

Gave to our director a “pronounced” heart attack.                          

From the tips of his toes to top of his head,                                        

Our Dearest Darling Mack turned the best shade of red.                              

Oh Beloved Mack, if it happens again,                                           

Don’t try to pronounce it, say “O-B-G-Y-N”.

*I sincerely hope that this poem is general and non-searchable enough that the choir powers-that-be don't demand that I remove it. If they feel I must, then I will.  I just was so delighted by rehearsal tonight that I had to get it all down on paper.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

sell out.

Hmmm. It seems I have earned $1.58 in "advertising" from putting ads at the bottom of my blog for the past two years.  Unfortunately they don't send a check unless my revenue is over $100. Hey, only $98.42 to go!  This says I can advertise specific products within my blog posts too, so in the spirit of commericalism, I'm going to experiment with things that I like. For example. I like shoes. And so now if you click on that word, you should be taken to a webiste that sells shoes. unfortunately, I don't see a picture of what shoes they are, and I so hope they aren't ugly shoes. Let's try again. I also like books.  Did it work?  I chose a book about granny squares.  Which I've always wanted to learn how to make. It says I can put images and ads in here too, as opposed to just hyperlinking the text.  Let's continue the experiment.  How about an ad for something kitchen-y, since I love kitchen-y things?
Did it work? I think I chose a butter dish. Nope. So far none of this is working.  So much for my get rich quick schemes.  I guess I'll have to resort to the all-american pasttime for getting unneccessary stuff and extra resources. Asking Santa for them.

vain confession

Sometimes I listen to the practice recordings for choir with the intent to hear all the tonal and rhythmic corrections Mack and Ryan are telling us to make, but when I hit play I am in so much awe over what the choir does that I have to pinch myself.  "He sole on high exalted reigns" in baroque counterpoint, sight-read by 370 people, rehearsed for 20 minutes and then performed at recording-quality level.  Sure there is improvement to be made.  But even our first take is not shabby, better than merely listenable, its good. And I was there, singing along, not just because I like to sing along, but because I belong there. Not even my own insecurities can argue with that. They gave me a folder of music and a closet of dresses and a seat to sit in. I'm sorry if sometimes I forget to hear the flaws in the face of the awesomeness of what we are doing.  I'm more sorry if there are people who only hear the flaws. I am a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and there is no group in the world that does what we do, let alone does it well. My life rocks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Well that was a fun ride, now wasn't it.  The thing is, after I posted yesterday, I went to class and learned about how when we are under stress we tend to revert to our infant selves.  There you have it.  Honestly, when I'm feeling good, I mostly love hearing about your kids.  And when I'm feeling self-sufficient and healthy, I am just fine with surviving on my own.  But for some reason I had to spend part of yesterday morning listening to someone whine about their children and then another part of the morning trying to convince that classmate that I'm not "acing everything without even having to read the textbook".  Why do people pin stuff like that on others?  No one has it easy, and to declare so is to insult the efforts they have and do make.  SO just stop it.  I'm not entirely better, but I'm well enough to see that I need to pull up my bootstraps and keep plugging forward.  And I suppose I could be embarassed about the whine-fest, but there is a part of me that wants it known.  I'm not proud of the tantrum, but I still want someone out there to know that I have struggles, and maybe even care.  So rather than delete it or apologize for it, I'm leaving it up for the world to see.  Some days suck. And on those days, the tiny things that our grown up selves are able to endure, brush off, or make the best of become the huge things that seem insurmountable.  Please don't resent me, take it personally, or judge my entire self based on the rotten days.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I'm sick. Whine. Honestly, normally when I'm sick I just push through, get over it make do, or rest until I'm functional again, get back up and get to work. Most people won't hear about it or notice, and those that do hear about it are far enough away that it's not like I'm putting pressure on them to fix it for me. I always feel like I'm entirely pathetic and needy, but those people usually tell me that I was neither, just quieter than usual. Well this time, I'm speaking up. Whine. In one of my classes we learned about something called projective identification, where people tend to pin whatever they are feeling onto the people around them. Quiet people particularly end up getting pinned with whatever everyone else is feeling, because they are more of a blank slate than someone who is particularly vocal. Well I certainly wouldn't want to mislead any of you into believing that I am feeling whatever it is you are trying to suppress, so I'm speaking up. Whine. I don't feel good. And when I don't feel good I don't want to hear about your children, your issues, your perfect whatever, your spouse, your job, or whatever else it is in your life that seems like such a trial. Seriously, do you know how much it sucks for a single girl to listen to your complaints about your children? Has anyone ever pointed out to you a "first world problem"? Whine. It must be so sad for you when you don't feel good and your husband has to go to work instead of taking care of you. Read sarcasm. News flash. I got dizzy when I went to get myself a bowl of cereal, I ran out of breath when I tried to get dressed, and I couldn't figure out how to answer my own phone this morning because my head was so fuzzy from being awake most of the night in a fever. Whine. Nobody is going to show up and take care of me, not before, after, or during work. And no, I don't have to worry about taking care of the kids while I don't feel good. Do you realize what a small consolation prize that is? The only way anyone is even going to know I was sick is from me posting it on the blog. Whine. And I hate that I feel good enough to feel guilty about laying around while I'm laying down, but if I sit up or try to move, it takes an extra 15 minutes to catch my breath. Which means I can probably manage to make my own ramen for lunch, but then I will have to take a nap to recover from stirring it and it will be cold by the time I get to eat it. Whine. Also, some girl from school keeps texting me for help with some paper and to ask if I'll make another kid a birthday cake for class. I'm not sure why she thinks I have anything in life together enough to do either of those things, but I wish someone would make her stop. Whine. Reality is, this is a hard semester, I'm barely hanging on, and I have considered dropping out on a nearly weekly basis. I've talked to professors about it, but I wasn't planning on dumping it on others because frankly, it's not your problem, it's mine. Whine. There that projection. People often believe that if a person doesn't talk about their problems, they must not have any. Then again, we've all had that friend that burns us out with their drama. Someone on your Facebook is doing it right now. They are posting sad song lyrics and rants about how their dog died and no one loves them and how awful their situation is with accusatory overtones of demand. I don't want to be that person. Whine. But today I'm sick, and I consider that my pass to whine for a while longer. Except I have to go to class, and I'm not sure how that's going to work. If I take enough medication to bring the fever down and stop coughing, I'm pretty sure I can't legally drive. Then again, without meds, I'm dizzy and out of breath. Whine. Then I have to finish a midterm and work on some papers. Whine. Seriously, why couldn't I have gotten sick 2 days from now, when I have a long weekend clear of obligations and plans? whine. Maybe its best if I close this down now. Check back tomorrow. Maybe I'll feel like being nicer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I wonder.

Facebook makes for some fascinating political watching.  The elections bring out the absolute worst in people.  Seriously, I'm not sure why people that I find to be kind, reasonable, and intelligent people in real life go and post inane, ill-thought out statements in a feed that all of their "friends" will see.  I make no secret as to my political stance.  I also have been very clear about our responsibility to be balanced and kind.  That being said, there are a few things I wonder that perhaps the cybersphere could clear up for me. 

I wonder if my culturally LDS friends really believe that President Obama is a great evil, and that his re-election will really speed up the second coming.  I'm fairly certain that the scriptures have been clear, no man can know, speed it up, or slow it down.  I wonder, every time they post something like this, if they realize they are engaging in the hype and rhetoric rather than thinking about the doctrines they love.  I wonder if they truly believe this is something they need to worry about, or if they can have faith that their personal covenants and choices are what truly protect them from negative eternal consequences, regardless of the timing of the second coming.  I would ask my friends who truly believe this election was a "sign of the times" examine their scriptures and read the true revelations, know that the signs are and have been present regardless of political climate, and choose to be grounded in their faith and covenants based on priciples that are true across all political platforms.

I wonder if I really am friends with people who can see no good whatsoever in a man that has led our nation for 4 years, and can see only good in a man they hardly know but share a faith with.  I wonder if they recognize that they are being fed biased information from a biased media, or if they truly believe everything the news stations say.  I know that (particularly in Utah) we are constantly fed skewed data that needs to be weighed and balanced.  Along with this wonder, I am concerned that people I love do not realize or consider the fact that half the nation sees things differently from them, and that it is mighty difficult to completely hoodwink so many people to vote for what they are declaring to be "pure evil".  I would ask that they not allow the lies of the media to bind their agency, but that they rise above the misinformation and make a choice that includes acknowledgement that these men are both good men, that their policies differ only slightly, and that their friends who choose differenlty are not evil by association.

I wonder if anyone recognizes that the biases in the media, the judgements and name-calling between friends, and the attitude that "I will just move to _____" (or otherwise generally not support our nation's president) are in fact the most un-American stances to take.  I wonder if those who make such ridiculous and inflammatory statements can see how unintelligent they look, how cruel they sound, and how much more "socialist" it is to manipulate and hate those who disagree than it is to offer welfare and healthcare to those in need. I would hope that we can come together to honor a constitution and land that has in place checks and balances, that we can participate in a process that many people in the world do not have the priveledge of enjoying, and most of all, that we can move forward doing good in our own lives without the judgement so callously tossed around in the name of politics.

I wonder if anyone else is even a little bit excited about the good that an incumbant president can do without the worry of re-election politics.  I honestly believe that politicians (while they do lie and manipulate to gain the offices of power) have a certain passion for doing well.  They can't all be into it for the money and power, because let's face it, the money's not great and the power is checked and balanced.  More than a few of those men and women truly love this nation and the people that they serve.  More than a few of them are spending their lives and their earnings to be in a position to do what they honestly believe is best for their families and friends.  While it admittedly takes a measure of narcissism to run for president, both candidates were evenly matched in that arena, (and incidentally on much of their policy), there is no way they simply acted out of desire for "phneomenal cosmic power".  I would hope that we can see the potential for real action and truth in 4 years unburdened by the possibility of re-election.

Finally, I wonder if people will eventually come to "see things as they truly are" (myself included) and find some good in the people they have vilified and ostracized.  I have Republican friends that seem to have forgotten that "Obamacare" is based on "Romneycare" and I have Democrat friends that seem to have forgotten how the birth control debate is as much about freedom of religion as it is about women's rights.  I wonder if the polarized platforms will eventually reveal themselves as the actual evil in this process. I hope that as we educate ourselves beyond media biases and dangerous rhetoric we will rediscover our friendships and learn to value the common grounds that brought us together in the first place. 

There you have it.  My political musings, my questions for the world, and my hopes for my friends.  This is not an attempt to sway people towards my way of thinking, it is an invitation to think, to study, and to say things that reflect truth rather than hysteria.  If you would like to comment, please know that if you say things that continue the thoughtless hysteria, I will delete you. But if you have some insight, or some perspective beyond doomsday or delight, I am happy to hear it.

On my end, I like healthcare legislation because insurance companies are wholly evil (see, I have my unreasonable perspectives too!) and they needed to be told that pre-existing conditions were a dishonest cop-out.  I like welfare legislation because it helps many of the people that I know and love out of the rough parts of life, and those people have all become functioning and contributing citizens as a result of the welfare they recieved. That's right, they used it, and now they pay it forward.  I like platforms that support healing and rehabilitation rather than punishment, because ever dollar spent on mental health saves us $36 dollars in the proson system.  I like pro-choice platforms and I like birth control that comes through insurance companies, because the two are statistically healthier for the population.  Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion.  (And while we are on it, my faith declares that agency is as integral a gift as life itself, so I do not see how one can claim religious reasons for being more one than the other.) I don't believe that government should define marriage AT ALL, regardless of the definition being debated, but I believe that civil rights of every individual should be protected by the government.  This means that gay couples should have the same financial and legal rights as straight couples, but religions should not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage that does not reflect their belief system.  Finally, I believe that Kristen Stewart should be banned from acting, Stephanie Meyer should be banned from publishing novels marketed for teens, and and the CIA should use their top secret erasey-tools to obliterate the Twilight franchise from our minds and culture.

Sigh. Now you know.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How it turned out...

See how my little "36" post was sort of depressing?  I need to remedy that by saying how it actually went. 

36 started with a phone call from Jim and a call from Lucie, both while I was eating leftover chicken burritos from dinner the night before.  You may not know this about me, but I love leftover dinner boxes for breakfast.  Weird? Maybe.  But here's the deal.  That way the leftovers are fresh, you reheat minimally and there is not as much gross dried edge stuff.  Also, then you start the day with fresh memories of good times with firends.  Its a win-win.  So I chatted with my dear friends while I ate, and just as I finished, my friend Christine showed up for our hike.  We loaded our pockets with leftover halloween candy and took the same trail we have been taking all summer.  After the hike, we checked movie times and scheduled to meet up with Kim for a little "Wreck-it Ralph".  While waiting, Christine and I used my Disney princess temporary sparkle tattoo kit to give ourselves tattoos. At the movie we ate popcorn and laughed our butts off.  Disney has a good history of releasing delightful cartoons on my birthday weekend.  After the movie, we had to say goodbye to Christine and Kim and I headed to California Pizza Kitchen.  At some point in here, my phone battery died.  We shared my two favorites and topped it off with chocolate souffle, found out another friend of mine saw us there and paid for our food, and decided to do a little shopping.  I drooled over a fiat, we bought some cute things, and then said goodbye for the evening.  On my way home, I stopped at Barnes and Noble to check on a new book by Lois Lowry, and I read for about an hour before they closed up and I went home. 

So: (I sum up)
Temporary glitter tattoo (princess crown)
More good wishes than my phone could keep up with

These are a few of my favorite things.  Sometimes I worry that I am losing my sense of adventure, but in reality, I'm becoming someone who knows what I like, and I'm oh so happy with that.

Oh yeah, and the time change.  This is the second time I've gotten a 25 hour birthday.  I only feel a little sad for those people with spring birthdays who lose an hour. 

So well-played 36.  You have potential.  Let's see what we can do with this.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I'm sitting here at an obscene hour enjoying the last few minutes of being 35. I'm also struggling with writing some papers.  I need to write lots, but I can't write the stuff I'm actually accountable for until I write the stuff that my brain is obsessing over.

Don't people usually make a big deal out of those big round numbers?  Why do I care about 36? I'll tell you why.  Because 36 is closer to 40 than it is to 30.  I struggled with 30.  I struggled with it because I was in a pretty lousy place at the time, and because I didn't believe much would change from there out.  36 isn't that kind of a struggle.  36 is frankly easier because things did change, and because I feel like I have accomplished some things I really wanted in life. Its also easier because I am still accomplishing things, and so life is moving forward, changing and shifting. 

So really, as of right now (minutes before the official change) 36 feels like a new haircut, leftover mexican food from an evening with dear friends, and a few avoided research papers.  Not a bad sum. I've grown to love the feeling of having something to do, just becuase I know that left to my own devices I will get into trouble. 

But there are bits of it that feel unfinished. Like I lost a few years in there.  Shouldn't I still be 32? People in choir keep assuming I'm one of those 28-29 year olds.  Lovely, thank you, oh how I wish!

The nice thing is, 36 will have some interesting stuff. The choir will go on tour to Minnesota (and some other places that don't matter as much), I will do a practicum and then start an internship (weird to think that when I hit 37 I will be a practicing intern- yikes), and probably lots of other stuff that comes along the road.  The nice thing is, I don't worry about whats coming anymore, because the days fly by so full of stuff that I hardly have time to realize its happening let alone record it.  I know I won't be bored. The real problem is taking charge enough to choose which things happen and try and make the time feel less lost.

And 36 just sounds so much more grown up than I feel.  Part of me wants to rebel by going to wal-mart and having shopping cart races or eating a ridiculous amount of candy.  Then another part of me recognizes that its cute for kids to act like kids and its cute for 80 and 90 year olds to act like kids.  During the in-between years, its just plain irritating.  There is something serious about being 36. Its a sedan-or-min-van-driving, desk-job-sitting, responsible citizen sounding age. 

Maybe I'm truly backwards.  You know how most people have some sort of a midlife crisis and they flip out and do something fun?  Or they buy a sports car or quit their job to chase their dreams or something.... Maybe I'm opposite-girl.  Maybe instead of having a fun mid-life crisis, I'm am going to suddenly start being all serious.  Next time you see me sitting reverently through church or quietly managing paperwork in the corner, or reading non-fiction, do me a favor and give me a smack.  Tell me to snap out of it.  Remind me that this is not who I am.  I will not be 36.  Hand me some Harry Potter and make me jump in some leaves or throw a snowball. 

36 is a technicality.  A passing fad.  Something that must be passed through in order to acheive 37, a delightfully prime number.  36 won't take me down and turn me into an accountant.  Do you hear me, 36? You better. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

aaaaand conference.


It's conference weekend!  Bust out the M&M's and notebooks!

If you are reading this because you are a tad bored and you want to know what to look for, here are my thoughts going into it all. 

  • Have I mentioned that the choir is full of amazing people?  In every camera shot you have the potential to see my friends, my heroes, the guy(s?) I'm interested in, and maybe even me!
  • Beyond watching the choir, please listen.  We work so hard.  We spend time memorizing, we get yelled at and pushed to our limits and sometimes we even cry, all to make our own offering a part of the whole deal. The words mean something.  Every last one of them has been prayed over and agonized over by at least 400 people. 
  • Pray for me.  Last conference I fell asleep and drooled chocolate on my dress.  It was still there when we sang the last song.
  • Listen like a reporter. With the elections and Governor Romney, the press will be paying attention and searching for things to blow out of porportion!
  • Did you write down your questions?  Its not too late!  I have over a page.  I know its "supposed" to be 3, but I figure I'll give God options. 
  • Turquoise and Fuscia (but the fuscia looks red on camera). Now you can tell your friends you are in the know. (No Peeps this season.  Maybe for spring)
  • You know how that organ can get loud?  Its even louder when you are standing 10 feet in front of the pipes.  They offer us earplugs, but I don't take them, because I like the noise.
  • You have my permission to throw an M&M at the screen every time you see me. This is only somewhat less disruptive than jumping around yelling "I know her!"
  • I cut bangs, so my hair is different.
  • Elder Holland, President Eyering, President Uchtdorff, Elder Perry, and Elder Scott.  These are a few of my favorite things!
  • (But most of all Elder Perry, 'cause he thinks I'm beautiful.)
  • My friend Brittany's son calls me Fancy and says I sing with the angels.  He's not far off.
  • This seems like a narcissistic list, but honestly, its my blog, so what are you gonna do?

Most of all, love every second of it.  I know I do. Even the accidental naps. (Because let's be honest, they are the best naps you ever get. And you only get them once every 6 months.)

The political post

I want to keep this brief.

I am a democrat.

I am not stupid.

I am not a socialist.

I am aware of the strengths and weaknesses of BOTH candidates.

Are you?

The point of this is not to convince anyone to join me.  It is to invite you to be smarter about whatever party or candidate you support.  Think for a moment about President Barack Obama and Governor Romney.  Can you identify strengths and weaknesses in each of them?

If so, good for you.  Quit reading and go back to whatever you were doing with your life.

If not, you are frankly underinformed.  These men are neither gods nor devils.  Neither of them are wholly perfect nor wholly evil.  The moment you start to believe so is the moment you are buying into propoganda and no longer thinking for yourself. 

I shudder to realize that most of our political system is determined by who comes up with the most clever or entertaining or appealing propoganda. 

Start thinking.  Weigh the issues. Choose according to your thoughts on economy, foreign policy, healthcare, welfare, education, abortion, gay marriage, and any other topic you find important. But do not choose according to the pictures your facebook friends post, the things stated by either fox news or jon stewart, or whatever your professor/parent/roommate thinks.

And most of all, stop throwing insults at those who think and choose differently than you.  This is America.  The most un-American thing you can do is restrict another's right and ability to think and choose for themselves. 

Don't roll your eyes at me for stating my thoughts, especially if you asked for them.

Incidentally, I can still get a temple recommend, even if I vote for the not-mormon guy.  And I do know a few LDS girls who have gotten married in spite of their democratic party affiliation. 

And while we are on the subject of the stupid things people say, please oh please recognize that when you say stupid and uninformed things, you do more damage to your own party.  Like the kid who announced on facebook that if President Obama got re-elected, he would move to Canada.  Seriously?  You are worried about socialism and you think Canada is the place to go? By being either stupid or mean in the name of a certain political party, you make the party look that way by association! Just look at the damage Rush Limbaugh did to his own party with his "slut" comments. Although, I do wonder if he isn't a clever plant from the Democrats, winning intelligent people to the other side every time he opens his mouth.  I'm not saying anyone is stupid for disagreeing with me, I'm saying that if you say stupid things, you make a case for the other guys.

Here's a guideline: Instead of saying mean things about others, promote your own candidate by being positive.  It makes you look smarter and happier. 

Oh and one last thing.  President Obama is the President.  He is not Obama and he is not Barack.  Governor Romney will get the same due if he becomes president.  But for now, his title is governor and I respect him as such and call him by that title.  Let's try and at least maintain some propriety.  (Come on, you know me well enough to know that I don't call for propriety that often.)

I am constantly telling people I have smart and amazing friends.  Don't let the political season make me question you!

Cyberbullying? Really?

I've been absent for a while.  That's fine.  My head is in school and choir and all sorts of good things. 
But as always, I return to here when I need to write. And I need to write.

This is an open letter.  Meaning since I do not know to whom I should address this, I address it to everyone. 

I've gotten some harassment lately.  It came to the email address that is associated with my facebook account.  And it came anonymously.  Thus all I know about the sender is that they are probably my facebook "friend".  You'll see why I use that term loosely.

Apparently I'm fat. 

OK, well, really I knew that. 

Apparently, this sender feels it is their duty to inform me that I am fat and unattractive and irresponsible.  And they somehow have reasoned that while it is their duty to inform me, it is also their right to remain anonymous while doing so.

I would like to rant about how unsigned words have no power, but clearly they do, because here I am responding to them in the only way I can.  So instead of responding with off-the-cuff irritation, I am going to reason through a few things here. Its not that your words don't have power.  Words always have power.  The problem is that without a name attached, the individual who used them is relinquishing their power.  They take no ownership in their words, and are made weak by so doing. 

Do you hear that, Anonymous Cyberbully? You are weak.

There is a theory about bullying and power.  It is that those who bully feel powerless themselves, and so they target others that they perceive as weak in order to establish power for themselves. 

Do you think you are being my friend?  My friends are strong.  My friends know me.  My friends know they can talk to me about concerns.  My friends would sign their name. You are not my friend.

I am frankly familiar with bullying.  I remember the mean girls from elementary school, and their ridiculous games.  I can still hear the names that followed me around the hallways of my high school.  I can even name for you the adults who participated and contributed, and who impacted my sense of self in every way that they were not supposed to.  I remember their names because I learned that I don't have to believe them.  And I remember their names because I am learning to forgive them.

In spite of not knowing your name, I do want you to know some things about me.  I want you to know that I am strong.  Maybe I wasn't in high school, and those names hurt to the core.  But I am strong now.  I am strong enough to sign my name to whatever I write, and I am strong enough respond to you.

And I know that my body is not the ideal movie star or olympic body that the media tells me I am supposed to have.  You clearly think there is something wrong with me because of that.  But you are misinformed.  My body is strong.  I run 3 miles a day, I eat my veggies, and I sing with my whole core.  My lungs will produce a louder, longer, purer tone than most, I can run to class, hike up mountains, and dance ridiculously to a good beat as long as anyone else.  I will never be thin.  I will always be strong.

Beyond the physical traits that you so injuriously included in your message to me, you should know that I am strong beyond the reach of your words.  I have succeeded in acheiving everything I dreamed of as a child, and I succeeded early enough to create new dreams.  I am fulfilling those as well.  My goals reach far beyond your opinion of who I should be, and they will be accomplished without regard for your asinine approach. 

Your words do not impact my goals, they neither discourage me nor spur me onward.  Even if I someday choose to make thin-ness a goal, your words will not be what drive me towards it. 

Frankly, I have better concerns for my time.  We live in a world where souls balance on precarious boundaries.  While you blindly toss your brand of filth at those who surround you, I am using my strength to pull people from the muck.  It will take more than anonymous emails to hinder my efforts.

I would like to invite you to quietly remove yourself from my facebook list.  I do not think your version of friendship is healthy. I promise I will not scour my list to see who leaves.  I would guess that I won't even notice your absence.  If you ever become someone who would like to sign your name to your messages, look me up.  I will happily welcome you back. Until then, may you figure out how to have strength without tearing others apart.

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Suicide

A friend took his life this weekend. I knew it was coming, and it still tore me apart. I found out at choir and spent too long sobbing in the bathroom before I was able to return and pretend to sing. At first I returned to the song "if the way be full of trial, weary not". Not great timing on my part.

I've had friends both attempt and complete suicide before. Once a roommate locked herself in the bathroom, took a bunch of pills, and cut her wrists. We had to break down the door. I remember watching her pretend to resist as the EMTs wheeled her away on a stretcher. She was someone who threatened it frequently in order to get the attention she felt she needed. This was an escalation of her demands. She was sending a message that said "if you don't love me enough, you don't deserve to be called my friends." I'm not guessing at that message, it was in her note. She didn't want to die, she wanted people to prove that they loved her and wanted her around.

Another time, a past roommate completed suicide. She was someone that I had enjoyed spending time with, but she held some of the same patterns of behavior as the first roommate. She placed demands on her relationships that were beyond what others were able to sustain. She did this in more subtle ways, but sent the same message. We hadn't been in touch for a long time and I heard that she completed suicide. A few of us went to her funeral, and when we talked to her mother about being her friends, her mother's response was "she always told me she didn't have any friends." What a nasty overt attempt to guilt and place blame on the mourning. All it did was send the same message that was in the other note.

Those incidents, as sad as they were, really just made me angry. How dare they try and place the burden for their actions, their emotions, and their desires, on everyone around them. Honestly, I'm still a bit angry with them. I'm not allowed to say it, of course, but if you know me at all, I'm fine with saying things that you aren't supposed to say. Their actions were selfish, plain and simple. Whether they intended to complete it or not, whether they did complete it or not, it was not so much a "cry for help" as it was a tantrum for things to go their way.

This weekend was different. He decided it was time to end things, and he made it happen. He was done. It wasn't a cry for help, it wasn't a message to the world, it was a soul who was tired of battling, tired of being alone. There were people around, trying to help, but he had chosen it and at that point, there is little anyone can do to stop it.

In the process of informing our friends, one person said to me "I'm sorry he didn't get the help he needed." But that wasn't it at all. He had all the help the world could possibly offer, and it didn't change what he wanted. He wanted to be with his mom. To stop fighting whatever depression or loneliness he faced.

Wanna know a secret? I've been there. Beyond "cry for help" is the place where you are thinking to yourself "if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right." For me, the turning point came after someone informed me "we don't want you here, we don't like you." That person spoke from some hateful emotional place that I still don't understand. No matter how much I struggle with a person, I don't think those words would ever come to my lips. But at that point I had already been trying to figure out a way. And part of what saved me that day was that I didn't want the hateful person to be right. I wasn't going to be an increased burden by trying to send a "message". So I was either going to complete it, or not attempt it at all. And since I couldn't figure out how to really end things, I had no choice but to keep going.

My friend found a way. And I cried in the bathroom because he'll never know that it gets better. Because the lives he could have impacted will be less rich. And because between the two of us, I'm not sure who was more brave, but I'm certain he did and could still have done more good than I will.

There are plenty of studies that talk about suicide. The great academic combinations have evaluated who attempts, who succeeds, what interventions work, and what "motivates" it. These are interesting, but mean little to those left in the wake of lost friends. I could spout statistics and give you the proper counseling procedures for evaluation and intervention but that won't do us any good. Here's what will do us some good: talk about it.

Tell the people around you what they mean to you. Don't be that person who asks others to love them, love others first. Don't demand evidence from others of friendship, but choose to trust and love the best in others and act accordingly, offering your own voice of support and encouragement. Don't be insincere. Don't be that person that hands out insincere encouragement like cheap Halloween candy, but see the best in people, believe in the best in people, and support them in that greatness. Take time to be truly present in your relationships. We live in a world where Facebook and texting have replaced real faces and conversations. Reach outward. When you are they person who is down, make an effort to talk to two people each day: one person that can help you, and one person that you can help. Make those real conversations. There is strength in saying "I am hurting" and there is power in saying "tell me about your hurts".

I don't know that I could have changed things for Jason. I know that by the time I knew anything, I certainly couldn't have helped. But I wonder if ten years ago I could have been more sincere in my behavior. I wonder if two years ago I could have thanked him for all he did to encourage me, invite me, and support me at a time when I was kind of lost. Even if they wouldn't have changed the events of the past week, they would have changed our friendship. Gratitude can only make the world better. Do you know why I didn't speak up? Because I thought he'd see me as silly. What a stupid reason to have regrets now.

So forgive me if I'm a little more mooshy in my affection. I have amazing friends who do so much good in this world. I know incredible people whose smallest actions change night to day. I want to be like those people. I know its not in my nature. This is a long-term goal. If it comes off as silly, you'll just have to endure it while I refine the process.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sum Sum Summertime.

Interesting.  I just sat on my porch to start typing this when my neighbor came out carrying his baby and retrieved a large number of hardware/tools/and automotive looking things from the back of his pickup truck.  Normal?  Yes.  He is on his third trip back and forth from the house now.  Still normal?  Yes.  Still carrying the baby.  The kicker is, Baby is buck naked.  This begs some questions.  Does the man really not understand the risks he takes when carrying around an undiapered infant?  Also, is the hardware seriously of greater priority than clothing his child?  Thirdly, Does he somehow need a tool box and jumper cables in order to complete at the very least the diapering process? If so, that is a diaper I'm glad I did not confront.

Ah the joys of summertime!  This morning after hiking for a few hours I came back to my house and ate fresh cherries for breakfast.  Yes, I'm bragging. 

And then I took a nap.

Of all the things on my list of things to accomplish today, I have not accomplished a single one.  Which is why I decided to blog.  Because at least I would feel I have indulged my mind with more than enjoying rainstorms and iCarly reruns.  Hey, its what was on.

Don't judge.  I'm not the one carrying around a naked baby and an oil wrench. 

Contrary to what you have just read, I'm in between insanities right now. Last week was family reunion time and this week we launch into summer concerts. 

Also, I have been working waaaaay more that I expected to this summer.  Which is both good and bad. 

And then there is the adventure of cleaning out storage spaces and preparing for a potential move. 
That should take up a few posts as well. 

See how today should have been filled with accomplishing things but instead it was filled with avoiding things for the sole purpose of accomplishing nothing? 

Maybe that's what neighbor guy was doing.  Accomplishing what he felt like instead of the necessary tasks at hand.  I have to admit, if feels good in a rebellious sort of way. 

With that in mind, here's what I have accomplished this summer instead of the "should's":

Should: work as often as asked and save every penny
Actuality: Took a day off and went to Singin' in the Rain with a group of friends.  It was re-released to theatres for one day only.  And there was a 2pm showing, so we went, had dinner after, and then went to choir.  The funny thing was, our group was 9 people, but from what I saw and heard, most of the choir was in attendance at some theatre or another.  Because we are awesome with impeccable taste.  Also, Gene Kelly on the big screen.  Who would want to miss that?

Should: Clean out storage space and all other areas of the house that tend to accumulate stuff in an effort to reduce my hoarding and be a "responsible grown up." (does such a thing exist, or is that more mythical than yetis and Nessy? Conspiracy theorists unite! Show me a responsible grown up and I will show you who faked the moon landing!)
Actuality: Read through every paper in those storage boxes that travel from home to home for years, discovered my kindergarten and preschool records including teachers commentary and artwork.  Psycho-analyzed myself and my early experiences, discovered some interesting stuff, and have yet to finish the house-purge.  It turns out I didn't talk much as a kid.  My knowledge and conversation skills were limited to things I learned from songs and things I was allowed to write down first.  This reveals a fascinating language processing disorder.  It also explains why I still feel incapable of "small talk" to this very day.  I see no point to it, other than as a social nicety. People probably take my silence for bitchiness, when what I'm really thinking is "couldn't we spend our breath on something that matters?" Also, I drew ears.  From a very young age I drew ears and no mouths.  Which indicates the priority I placed on the senses.  Most children do not draw ears at all. 
See how useful it is to clean out the storage space?

Should: Mow lawn, Clean kitchen, Keep up on housework
Actuality: reruns, naps, and very little else.  Because, you see, the butter-on-the-dryer roommate is gone, and part of me is reveling in the fact that every mess in that house is my own.  Nothing is growing its own new recipe in the kitchen sink, the bathtub is scrubbed regularly, and I vacuum once a week.  Also, the stove top is shiny.  Beyond that, if the mail piles up or the shoes at the front door become ridiculous, I just deal. 

Should: Go on a real vacation
Actuality: Family reunion and lots of hiking.  I do not consider family reunions to be vacations.  Let me explain why:  I am a bedtime-at-nine kind of a girl.  I go to family reunions knowing that I will be socially obligated to stay up later.  That's fine.  It's not a complaint, its an acknowledgement of the duties that are part of being in a family.  It s just that I am going to be up by 6 regardless of bedtime,  Which means that I come away from family reunions more exhausted than if I had been working a normal work week.  By the end I usually come to a state of physical and emotional exhastion that is marked by laughing too loudly, saying nonsensical sentences in response to otherwise normal conversations, and bursting into tears over things like fruit.  (Its just so pretty.  And Yummy.  I love it so much.  Sniffle.)  Thus I return from a family reunion in need of recovery time and a real vacation.  Unfortunately, when I got back from this reunion I immediately worked a full week including all-day-saturday babysitting jobs.  The hiking has been my way of appeasing myself.  I go 2 or three times a week with my friend, and it is early morning therapy and a reminder that if I could go on vacation, it would probably be to right here, and I would probably spend the days hiking.  So instead of a week of 10 hour walks in the mountains, I am doing frequent 2 hour walks through the mountains.  All of this would be null and void if I could just go to Paris.  I have been missing Paris particularly over the last few weeks, but alas, my fare tracker says flights are currently $1500, so no Paris for me.  Maybe next year.

There may yet be a real vacation weekend in store for me this summer.  We'll see.

Should: Memorize music, read more books, keep my academic brain in shape, and figure out a research proposal for my master's thesis.
Actuality: Finished the books I originally posted about, haven't picked up another since (maybe next week) realized the toughest music we have to memorize in choir is in French (Any self-respecting female vocalist is already at least familiar with the Habanera from Carmen, right?) and have avoided all things related to my masters program.  One of the girls in my class kept texting me about next years texts books during the family reunion, but I think I ignored her into silence.  I have started to doubt my choice and my ability to finish, but will work through that when its time to start again, since I sort of burned other bridges, quit my job, and invested in one year.  I'm not about to walk away now.  As for the Master's thesis: Maybe I can use something from that storage box full of teachers commentary about my aversion to touch and hypersentivity to sensory experiences.  Undiagnosed Asperger's?  Maybe.  I know the autism awareness train is hugely popular right now.  I just wonder how much of the increased diagnosis is simply because of the awareness, and there are in fact hundreds of individuals that went undiagnosed 20, 30, and 40 years ago that just cope now.  I wonder how we figured out how to cope, how many ended up with some other diagnosis or disorder, and how suddenly labeling what was formerly just labeled as "weird" with a DSM diagnosis will impact the future of society. 

See, the academic stuff is still there.  It's just simmering. 

Should: Lighten up
Actuality: I have, in my own way. 

And maybe the dude with the naked baby was onto something.  Its summertime.  Diapering will get done eventually, and if there is a mess, we'll clean it up.  But for now, Live a little. Run free, and let others do the same.  After all, the only reason I put on pants was because I went on a hike and am now sitting on my porch.  Maybe I'll go back in and take them off again. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bullying part 2

We interrupt your irregularly scheduled questions for something that seems like a bigger deal.  To me, at least it does.  On my post about bullying Bernda (former roommate.  And no, I did not spell that wrong. :)) asked for some more of my thoughts on bullying, particularly as they relate to school programs and raising awareness and such.  I have strong feelings regarding this.  They may or may not be useful, they may or may not be well-formed, and they may or may not be offensive.  But I am fairly certain they are doctrinally based, so I won't apologize.  I haven't posted them before because they aren't very well formed or easily articulated yet.  But maybe this will help. 

Schools are becoming more and more aware of the problems and dangers of bullying.  Either kids are going to more extremes in their responses, or the news/media outleets have figured out that this is a story that sells and so they pick it up more often.  Either way, an evening doesn't pass without at least some mentioning of bullying.

And the story does sell, because everyone has experienced bullying in their life to some degree or another.  We grown ups to whom the news story is marketed have some gutteral response to the bullying story.  And so the news makes a bigger deal out of it in order to sell more commercial time and the kids see that we are making a bigger deal out of it, so they respond to it in bigger ways.

Now don't you dare think that I'm saying "we all went through it and everyone just needs to stop making a big deal out of it!".  That's not my messsage at all.  Bullying has been wrong for as long as it has existed, and the fact that the media is finally picking up on it is interesting and impacts the whole mess in a magnifying sort of way, on every level. 

I believe quite firmly that the media and the most well-advertised programs out there are doing it wrong.  All wrong. 

Because if you think about what the world values and what the trendy words are for school character programs and business models and everything in between, you don't have to look as far as the Pride Parade to see the words "tolerance," "awareness," and "acceptance".

At my work we honor "diversity" and the diversity team leader's job is to promote tolerance, awareness, and acceptance.

But frankly, Yikes.

Think about what those terms really mean.

Think about how you would respond if your child's teacher told you they could "tolerate" your child, that they were "aware" of your child's difficulties, and that they "accepted" them. 

I have neices and nephews and a myriad of other children that I adore and care for, and let me tell you, they aren't even my children, but if heard that they were being merely tolerated by a teacher who was basically aware and who simply accepted them, I would come unglued.

I tolerate lots of things.  Spiders that eat mosquitos. Pepperoni on my pizza. Baby puke as part of my job. I am aware of massacres in Syria and human rights injustices in Myanmar.  I accept paying bills, textbook prices, and having to do the dishes. But given a choice, I would have neither spiders nor mosquitoes, ham on my pizza, and babies would eat their dinner without regurgitating it, Syria and Myanmar would stop torturing people, and I would be financially secure and own a dishwasher.

Tolerance, awareness, and acceptance are for things that we resent but recognize as facts of life.  They are not for the people around us, children of God, and immortals with eternal potential.

New programs may attempt to promote "awareness" because they are supposed to remain morally and politically neutral.  What they really do is tell a story and label it as "bad" or "good".  But here's the interesting thing about this kind of labeling and awareness: it doesn't magically make people choose the good.  We live in a world where people choose the "bad" all the time, regardless of whether or not we know and understand it as bad.  None of us is above this.  Anyone who has seen Ocean's Eleven has cheered on the guys who were robbing a casino!  Awareness may paste a label onto a behavior, but it does nothing to prevent or promote whatever brand of morality is on the table.  In fact, it teaches us what our options are and assumes that we'll be nice, without acknowledging that there are those who will take the lesson and choose to be mean. 

And now you are thinking that I am saying to stop the awareness campaigns because they are just teaching the bad guys how to be bad.  I'm not saying that either.  Awareness and education is always a better choice than nothing at all (and I could go into a tangent about sex education here too, but I won't).  The problem is that awareness is the only the first step, and when you stop there, all you have done is shown people their options without teaching them how to really acheive anything. 

My point is, awareness and tolerance and acceptance are the very least we can offer.  They are the lowest fundamentals of human relationships and most people allow even their enemies that much. 

So the school program that invites lectures and character education is not any different from the business that has a diversity training program in order to cover their butts for Equal Opportunity purposes.  Its enough to cover legal issues.  Its not enough to change the world or even one life. The bullies that hear such things will simply learn how to bully around the edges and win the game, and the kind people that hear such things already have behavior that puts them beyond the scope of such topics. 

So if you want to cover your butt and live in a world where people tolerate you, then awareness lectures are just fine. 

And to some point, that's all you can (and must) legally offer. 

The problem I see is that we live in a world that is starving for more.

Now let's return to all those kids that I adore.  What is the "more" that I want for them?  What do I want out of their teachers that goes beyond acceptance and awareness and tolerance?

I want those teachers to love them.  I want them to cheer them on, to offer support and kindness.  I want the other kids in their classes to see how remarkable they are and to love them too. 

And thus we return to what I have said and will continue saying every chance I get. Love is love.  There is nothing better and anything less simply doesn't have the power to help, change lives, teach, encourage, or improve the world. 

And frankly, bullying won't stop until we replace it with something better. 

I guess that's really my point.  Acceptance is the bare minimum, it covers legal ground, but it is simply not good enough for any child of God.  Bullying is awful, but telling someone to eliminate a behavior with words like "stop" or "don't" doesn't teach them how to actually behave.  It creates a void, and the void will be filled with what people know.  And if all people know is bullying, then the void will simply be filled with, perhaps different, but more bullying. 

Remember the video with the running kid and the gym teacher?  You should watch it:


Now. Look at that remarkable gym teacher.  He didn't "tolerate" a kid with cerebral palsy choosing to run 400 meters.  And his actions set an example for the other children in the class. 

If we really want to do something about bullying, then we have to stop basically covering our asses with the requisite legal training and awareness programs.  Schools and media have been trying this approach for years, and they continue to be mystifies as to why their "awareness" doesn't put a halt to the behavior.  To some extent, this brand of awareness honors bullying.  It puts the attention on the individuals who are seeking attention, thus rewarding whatever their behavior was.  If you really want to change the situation, you acknowledge the bad behavior then you teach the proper behavior.  You honor those who act appropriately, and you set an example of "good".  You fill the void with positive. 

And frankly, it doesn't come through formal training programs, diversity meetings, and cheesy reward systems.  That teacher may well receive an award, but those come after the behavior has been set out as a standard. He didn't do it for an award.  He did it because he clearly loved that student. 

If you want to change the world around you, be it a school program or a work setting or a social gathering, you are just going to have to start setting an example for love and encouraging others to do the same thing.  And maybe there is a way to create a better program that actually teaches the positive behavior instead of simply condeming the negative.  But even that program will not have as much power as the gym teacher who ran with the struggling kid. 

Honestly, the only thing we can do is love those around us, and be an example of that love to the children we are trying to teach.  We can invite other adults to do the same, and we can perhaps offer them some insights regarding specific situations.  But the only variable that has a place in every setting is love.  And love should not be a variable.  It should be a constant. Other things come and go as appropriate and as needed.  I'm certainly not saying that love is the only thing necessary. I'm saying its the first thing that should be put in place and the only thing that can really be relied on. As long as you won't get rid of bullying until you replace it with a constant, you may as well replace it with the only universal constant.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A wedding, new shoes, and a calling

Don't worry I'll get back to questions soon.  I believe Jammie's is next on the list.  But I've been busy like a madman lately, and I figured I'd throw a little stuff out here.  I've been lucky enough to get a lot of hours at work lately.  I say lucky, because I know my budget needs it oh so much. Oh the budget. I'm going to make it now.  There have been so many gifts that have come in every shape and size, not the least of which are the opportunities to work. But with all the babysitting, I don't have spare moments and find myself running from one thing to the next.  I've worked 30-40 hours at my "job" and added babysitting on top of that.  It's been a little busy. Today I finally had a few breathing moments and I took a 3 hour nap.  I think I was allowed it, though, since I had to be up at 5.  More on that in a minute.

This weekend I attended my friend Tricia's wedding.  It was lovely.  Really a perfect day. And Tricia is one of those perfectly perfect people who deserves every happiness, and I have honestly never seen a happier bride.  I don't know if anything went wrong or not, but I do know that if it did, she wasn't phased by it.  She just kept grinning and her cute new hubby just kept gazing at her and it made for a lovely day.  Rumor is that there wasn't a single meltdown.  Now that's remarkable. 

We went to the sealing, then we went shopping for wedding presents and bought shoes for ourselves as well.  I felt guilty at first, for getting shoes when I was supposed to be focusing on a present for someone else, and for spending money.  But as I considered returning the shoes I realized a few things.  First of all, shoes are an essential.  I can hardly walk around barefoot, now can I?  Second of all, I didn't actually own a pair of sensible tennis shoes.  They were on sale too.  And the not-sensible pair was on clearance for $10.  So there, shoe police!

(Do you see how I am rationalizing the shoes?) The other reason I decided that the shoe shopping was justified is just this:  I go to a lot of weddings.  I resent how many weddings I've attended and smiled through.  And while I didn't feel the usual frustration/mystification/begrudging/hurt that I frequently feel at weddings (seriously, Tricia is that wonderful, I couldn't begin to be grumpy at her happiness, nor did I have any doubts or questions at the match) I still recognize the emotional tendancy for weddings to throw me into a depression.  I'm just being honest, and if you'd like to judge me for it go on ahead.  It's not bitterness, its just the natural response to watching your own hopes be realized by someone else.  Anyways.  Weddings usually send me into a tailspin for a day or two.  But instead of crawling into a hole and crying for a day, I got up on sunday morning and put on a new pair of shoes as if I was sticking my tongue out at the whole world.  Fine.  I'll be single.  But I'll be single with fabulous shoes. And the longer I'm single, the more shoes I will be collecting.   And I know Tricia wouldn't begrudge me the shoes or the self-indulgence.  She herself is the owner of a fabulous pair of red heels that came at the agonizing potential of missing a bus in Philadelphia.  She knows shoes.

While I'm talking about weddings, I should mention that ribbing the groom about how long it took him to find a bride is a bit inappropriate.  Especially on his wedding day to my perfect friend.  Sure its a fun little joke.  But if he had raced off and married the first nice girl he met after his mission, he wouldn't have ended up with my amazing friend.  Or if they had met and married earlier, neither of them would ahve had the experiences that have made them as fabulous as they are now.  Everyone has a different path.  And for some people, that whirlwind romance in your early 20's is just right.  Others wait a bit, experience some life, make a career, maybe join a choir, meet more people and see more life, and their path should not be mocked. These guys are barely 30.  They still have plenty of time to be married and have kids and all that. 

Tiny Soapbox. 

But Nancy, non of this explains why you were up at 5 this morning!
Oh yes, that.
Well I have a new calling. 
And I won't share details here. 
But I am now an organist in the Salt Lake Temple and this morning was my first shift. 
Now I'm not great, but I'll get better. 
And as far as callings in the church go, I'm feeling pretty awesome.

Just think about it.  As a kid, Temple Square was where we came on vacation.  It was our tourist destination of choice.  Now I spend more time there every week than I spend at my own home.  And I spend it there doing music-y things that I love. This weird little girl from podunk minnesota didn't stay stuck.  And all those people that said I should just get a job in the window factory and resign myself to a life of nothing and nowhere can eat it. 

I'm not saying I did it alone, or at all, I'm not saying I have arrived, and I'm not taking credit.  I'm just saying they were wrong.  And when I told them I had a bigger life in front of me, I was right. There have been a hundred people on the road telling me to give up.  And there have been a hundred more telling me to keep going.  And more than any of those people, there have been a select few marvelous incredible people who not only told me to keep going, they showed me how.  They took me by the hand and taught me things and showed me the next few steps on the path, and when I was ready to listen to the naysayers, they wouldn't let me.  So it's not all me.  There are people who deserve so much credit for my happiness.  And anyone who has ever given encouragement has a place in my heart.  I'm ready to keep going for a bit longer.  There are miles yet to travel.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Falling Asleep

Amy asked "What were you thinking about right before you fell asleep?" 

I can tell you, but someone out there is bound to take offense. 
And some of you might just discover how prude I really am, deep down in my heart of hearts.
And some of you might feel like I am being self-righteous.
Please know that I am keenly aware of a huge number of flaws and more keenly aware that I have more flaws than I am aware of.  We are all working towards goals, and even these little blogposts are just snapshots of moments along the road. 

What I'm saying is, I have a long way to go.  So does everyone else. This does not represent a destination or a judgement of someone elses journey.  Just my thoughts about where our journeys are taking us as I talk myself to sleep each night.

That being said, feel free to take offense.  And then make an honest evaluation of what that offense means for you rather than for the person you feel has handed it out. 

After all, interactions are more about people than people want to cop to. 

Once again, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

I've been intending to write a post of this nature for some time. Perhaps that's why its on my mind as I fall asleep.  Something needs to be said.

On Saturday, I got bullied a bit.  It was completely uncalled for and it impacted a group of people, not just myself.  Some of the women who were around me when it happened actually cried a bit.  I did not.  I got mad. There was no reason for any of us to be treated in such a manner.  But the individual doing the bullying is a frequent perpetrator of general meanness and nastiness, and while she has caused me tears in the past, this time I was done.  Infuriated. 

I stewed for a while.  I recognized that this individual probably treats those around her like this because this is how she is treated in her own life.  I don't think that's an excuse, especially for a grown up who is responsibile and intelligent.  We choose our actions. I do think part of the problem is that this person is so power hungry they no longer recognize the injuries they cause to those around them. They block out feeling in an act of self-protection, but doing so means they feel nothing for those around them, or that they assume those around them have done the same and will also feel nothing. 

But its deceptive.  Because you can pretend all you want that you or others aren't feeling, but all you are doing is pretending, and the reality is that your hurts and the hurts of others are all there, getting jumbled up in a game of pointing fingers of blame and responsibility.

And its inappropriate that anyone should act this way.  Children do it as a learned behavior, grown ups need to move beyond it.

So I was angry.  And hurt.  And I knew that I was the undeserving victim of a chain of bullying, and while I have no idea who started it, I'm certain every perpetrator would point their finger of blame at the person who hurt them and eventually it could simply be traced back to Cain and Abel.  But they aren't responsbile for the actions of last saturday.  Regardless of blame, regardless of "who started it" we each have to take responsibility for our own actions.

Which leads me to Sunday.  When I was already feeling hurt, angry, and vulnerable.  And this guy started pushing my buttons.  He always pushes my buttons.  But this time I was through.  I was already on the edge and maybe all he did was all he does everytime we hang out, but instead of forcing a good-natured smile, I spoke my mind.  And regardless of the number of times I've thought it, He didn't deserve to have my mind spoken to him.  And that's how I became the bully.

I told you, I am keenly aware of imperfections in my character. 

And I agonized over it for a day or two.  I argued over it in my mind.  He deserved it.  He has deserved it for a long time.  No, he didn't, you've never given him indication of your irritation or any correction.  Yes I have, I'm constantly telling him to back off.  No, he did nothing different than the usual ribbing.  But I've had enough. 

And that's where I saw that it was my problem.  I had enough.  I was over the edge.  I spoke my mind.  I am responsible for my own actions.  And to run around declaring that he deserved it or he asked for it was to be no better than the woman who had bullied me.  The chain had to stop with someone taking responsibility, and it may as well be with me.

So I swallowed my pride.  I called him, he didn't answer, (I don't blame him, I was pretty mean) and so I texted my apology.  And he accepted, and I think things are fine.  Pretty anti-climactic for how much pride I had to swallow. 

But at least I have some self-righteous assurance that I am not the same person as the woman who tore into me. 

Bullies use shame.  They make their victim feel as though its their own fault they have been picked on.  The weak members of the herd are singled out, and left feeling as though its their own fault for being weak.  And they are told that their choice is to remain weak and continue as victims or to become strong by being the bully themselves.  And so bullies beget bullies. 

And I'm not sure that there is a way to stop someone else from bullying.  But you can stop yourself.  You don't have to create yet another link in the chain, you don't have to build another bully. There is no guarantee that the person you attack will be willing or able to stop the cycle, so you have to stop it yourself.  And you stop it with words.  You label what is happening, you label the actions of yourself and of those around you.  You label responsibilities.  And you don't do it in an accusatory or self defensive way.  You state the facts. 

My facts were, I was overwhelmed with emotion and I took it out on someone.  I chose a target and I behaved inappropriately.  I apologized. 

See how those were all of the "I".  The ideas that someone caused my emotional distress, that someone may have 'deserved' retribution, or anything indicating blame are removed.  This is not a court of law designed for witnesses and punishment and retribution.  It is a relationship with real people who are only and completely responsible for their own actions. 

I can also choose to stop my interactions with those who casue emotional distress in my life.  I can choose to walk away from those offenses.  No matter what, I am responsible.  No one, not the mean lady, the button-pusher, Cain and Abel, or the devil himself makes me do or feel anything. 

So stop saying it.  Stop saying the devil is making you grumpy today.  Its simply not true and it is damaging to give him that kind of power.

Now you know as well as I do that stresses add up.  Its never just one person or one incident that causes the disaster.  The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back comes in a whole pile of straws, any one of which can be added or removed to change the camel's burden. 

It works the other way too. The positive way.  Think for a moment of the number of times you have needed rescuing in your life.  The accumulated good deeds help make you the person that has survived countless attacks.  You don't get resuced once and call it a life. You get pulled from the mud countless times.  And those times will continue throughout your life. 

Its easy to dish out bullying another as often as we have felt bullied.  But have you rescued others as often as you have felt rescued?

There is a deficit in this world.  I have no idea if the deficit is because of an overabundance of negative deeds and emotions being slung around, or by the lack of good deeds.  You break even if you meet bully for bully and smile for smile.  But you can double your returns if you replace the negative with a positive. 

I'm still working on it.  I certainly haven't returned a smile to the bully lady.  I've been focused on undoing my own bullying.  The only thing more difficult than apologizing for my own behavior will be swallowing my pride to be kind in the face of someone who has mistreated me.

So my last thought as I went to sleep was "I can't be nice to her. I won't.  She doesn't deserve it."
But I know that eventually I will be. Eventually.  I'll need a little more time. I'll wallow in my deficit for a bit longer.  Maybe I'll make a list of nice things I can do for others before I finally come to terms with being nice to her.

A commercial

From Jenny:
If you could be in a commercial for anything you wanted, what would it be and what would you do and say?

The fun answer is:
Golden Grahams. I love golden Grahams. I love them so much, I only eat them about once a year, because I don't want them to lose their appeal from eating them all the time. That happened to me with cinnamon life. Sometimes I think I could love it again the way I used to, but I buy it and have less than a bowl and am tired of it. So golden grahams stay sacred. One box for my birthday. One box at some other point in the year. Rationed joy. I would do a commercial for them.

But commercials for kids cereals are generally obnoxious.

I think there should be a campaign for adults to eat Golden Grahams. Not spouting anything healthy (that would ruin it for sure) But maybe some sort of confession. Hi. My name is Nancy. I'm a grown up. And I eat Golden Grahams for my Birthday. In fact, there could be any number of people confessing. Hi. I'm Joe. I'm a grown up. And I eat Lucky Charms for dinner every Friday night. Hi. I'm Angela. I'm a grown up. And I eat Fruit Loops to get through boring business meetings. Hi. I'm Ethan. I'm a grown up and a lawyer. And I eat Frosted Flakes during legal depositions. They are part of my $500/hour fee.

But that's all silliness. Reality about me and commercials is easy.
The easy answer is: Been there, done that!

Wanna see?


There I am, from :19-:22 
3 seconds of me singing one of my favorite pieces of music ever. 
Oh I know if you read this then you are already aware of my obsession with the choir.  And maybe you are bored of hearing about it. Don't care.  If there is anything I want to be associated with, this is it.  And if there is anything I want the world to know about regardless of who I am, this is it.  And so honestly, If I could really do a commercial for anything, this is it.

When I saw it on TV, I just about fell off my couch.  I looked it up on youtube and saved a copy for myself.  I am that much of a dork. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Things that Ryhme with Butter"

How do I love Kim?  Let me count the ways. 

I love her like a Nutter Butter loves being dipped in chocolate milk. 
And the way Laman loved to mutter.
And the way birds flutter.
And while we are on the subject:

Words cannot utter
The perfectness of combining chocolate and nutter
For privacy I close the shutter,
To indulge in a snack of divinity utter,
The chocoalte milk nutter butter
Where even the sludge of a broken nutter
Does not cause me to cringe or mutter,
But to seek a spoon to retrieve said soggy nutter clutter
From it's milky gutter
At such a state I do not stutter,
Nor sputter at the soggy nutter
Instead I feel my stomach with joy flutter
As I contemplate the texture and flavor what're
Found in eating soggy nutter clutter
from a sludgy chocolate milk gutter.

The End.


This was Cheryl's second question.  Her first was about the choir, but I'm afraid I'm not allowed to blog about the choir.  I have lots of funny stories to tell, we get a lot of laughing in between the singing part.  Especially in the alto section.  Especially especially in the back rows of the alto section.  But we can do lunch sometime and I will tell stories of pranks and giggles and long-running jokes and new words to the songs and things the conductors say. 

Anyways, her second question was " If you could travel any where, where would it be and why and with whom"

I have a list.
Angkor Watt
Macchu Picchu
Rio De Janero
South Africa

In that order.

And please don't think I am kidding.  Everytime I think about going anywere, there is a littel nagging voice in the back of my head that says "wouldn't that money be better spent in Paris?".  And I realize that the only way I can justify travel will be to make sure Paris is revisited as often as possible.  It is, after all, one of the few places on earth that feels like "Home" to me. 

Do you know that feeling?  Not everyone does.  When I first told my Minnesota class that I was moving to Utah, one of the parents stopped me and told me that while she had only driven through Utah once, she loved it more than anything, because for some reason, the moment she crossed the border into the state, she felt like she was "Home" for the first time in her life.  I asked her if she had been on I-80, just outside of Evanston, where you are driving through those canyons.  She got very excited.  Yes!  I know that spot exactly.  And then you take 84 instead of 80, and turn north-ish into Ogden and its one of the prettiest most peaceful places in the world to me.  Although if you take I-80 into Salt Lake and drive up Parley's just in time to see the sun setting over the Salt Lake Valley, you might have to pull off the freeway to contain yourself. 

Home is different for everyone.  I'm not saying you have to love the Wasatch mountains the way I do.  I'm saying they feel like Home to me.  I'm saying there are places on this earth you can go to that feel like Home from the moment you set foot (or wheel) there, it doesn't take time to adjust and it doesn't change if you leave for a while and come back.  Just like the Madsen Recital Hall in the HFAC at BYU feels like Home to me.  And the choir loft in the tabernacle feels like Home.  And Paris.  Paris felt so much like Home, and I could never explain why.  Not even to the companion who refused to go into the city.  But it's Home.

So it does seem a waste if I have time and money to travel and I don't use it to go Home. 
But it's also kind of selfish to declare that Paris is home without giving anywhere else a chance.  So I would love to see the world, and to see if there is anywhere else that feels like Home. 

The other places on my list are actually interchangable.  Maybe not in that order, but I want to see them all the same.  I want to find out if they feel like Home and I want to figure out why.  Angkor Watt and Macchu Picchu and Jerusalem are ancient temple sites.  I want to go before they become so tourist ravaged they are closed to the public (so Jerusalem is already a mess... I may be too late there).  They are considered wonders of the world.  Designations like that are given for a reason, and I want to know why. 

Everyone seems to go to Hawaii.  I want to know the appeal.  Vienna, Italy, and Prague are centers for music and art and pastries.  I could do them all in one trip that begins and ends with Paris.  Rio de Janero is an intrigue thing.  Its the one place on the South American continent that I am curious about.  The Congo and South Africa are both results of my experience with people from there.  We could throw in Madagascar too.  The people I have met from these parts of the workd are fascinating to me.  I want to see their culture and how such amazing individuals come out of certain societies.  Oregon seems random, doesn't it?  Especially since it is so close.  But it is rumored to be one of the most quietly stunning places in the US.  Green.  Mountains.  Beaches.  Waterfalls. It sounds like my kind of a place. 

And who would I go with?  That part is easy.  A friend.  Not a group of people with different agendas.  No agendas.  One friend.  Someone who is willing to hike a mountain one day and lay on a beach the next.  Someone who doesn't mind taking the metro to a random stop and discovering the nearest restaurant or bakery.  Someone who will sample local cuisine, go to a grocery store instead of the latest rendy restaurant, and walk through local markets without a schedule.  Someone who does or does not know the language, but is willing to do or put up with sign language for haggling and someone who is willing to watch people and learn about the real cuture, not just the tourist culture. 

I went to Paris with a group of friends. There were 5 of us. They had agendas and things each of them wanted to do.  I spent a lot of time being a tour guide and translator, and I spent a lot of time frustrated with the group dynamic. The best time we had as a group was when we went outside of the big city, to Troyes, and I made them eat cheese and chocolate on the train and we went to a movie and then to a creperie at 2 in the morning and really lived the culture.  The best time I had was when I went to the Opera alone (who would turn down student seats at the Garnier for $6?) and ate a grec from a street vendor.  I think they spent that evening going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  I still have never done that.  And I think I'm OK with that.

So no more groups for me.  Going with one friend means we can do the things each of us wants to do, and share the expereince if we want or split up if we want without offending the other.  No one is forced to run around on someone elses schedule. 

As for who specifically, well that's up to all of you.  Where would you like to join me?

new and strange occurances

I'm diverging fron the all-request thing for a minute.  Don't worry, I've got more of that coming too.  I just figured I should explain myself for a minute or two.  Mostly for myself.  Maybe for others as well. 

I did a weird/risky/completely insane thing yesterday.  I turned down a job offer.  I have never done that before.  Well, not never.  I did it once before.  I turned down an offer to work at the window factory for a third summer in a row.  I got the letter inviting me back and I quite literally said "I''ll starve first." and since that was the summer that my insane roommates stole my food all summer long, I actually did starve.  And it was a small price to pay for not being in the window factory.  Starving for a summer probably saved my life. 

But yesterday's situation was different. And I shouldn't get ahead of myself, so I'll start towards the beginning. 

At the end of last semester, I was starting to worry about the summer.  I hadn't been getting hours at work, and I needed to work.  I had just enough savings to get me through June, leaving July and August as this giant black hole.  I cannot handle not having a plan. We all really struggle with that, I'm sure, but I really really struggle with that.  And going to school requires a lot more living on faith than I am really comfortable with. 

In addition, I have been concerned about my work experience.  Most of my cohort members have some really phenomenal experience in the mental health field.  I have phennomenal experience working with children.  Most of my cohort has current experience working with non-profits and counseling centers, I work with rich babies. 

I spoke with my [favorite] professor about these concerns and she gave me some reassurance and recommendations.  She told me she was pretty sure she already knew where my practicum placements would be and that they never had a problem placing people in this program, regardless of experience (have I mentioned that this program has an AMAZING record for getting their graduates jobs?  Their reputation is so good, its basically 100% placement upon graduation, one of the reasons I chose it).  Then she (in her very reassuring way) gave me some contacts for work experience and volunteer opportunities.  I told her what my dream job would be, and she informed me that what I wanted was perhaps the most difficult thing in the world, and if I wanted to work there, I needed to start jumping through their hoops now.  Its the only time I've ever seen her be more discouraging than encouraging.  So of course my stubborn brain took it as a challenge.

School ended.  I spent a week half-working and half recovering. 2 things happened on monday.  My roommate announced she was moving out.  (she still hasn't given 30 days notice or even a real move-out date, but she is working in ogden now, so I haven't actually seen her since she told me this.)  My boss called to offer me summer hours that were far more reasonable than what I had been predicting.  15-20 a week, with the potential for full time when people werre on vacations.  I realized I could survive on the job I had and would still have flexible time to do as I pleased, so I set about applying for volunteer positions.  With a degree in music I have learned that even if you are applying to volunteer someplace, you have to practically spam the world with applications in order to be heard.  I applied for 4-5 volunteer things, thinking that was a nice start, and I'd do more tomorrow.  Some of the positions were at my dream job, some were at places my favorite professor recommended. 

I heard back within hours.  I couldn't believe my eyes at the emails and my ears at the voicemails.  3 contacts all came at the same time as my boss called and asked me to work full time hours for the next week. People wanted me.  This was a brand new feeling.  And once again, my music degree habits kicked in and I wanted to say yes to everything. Because with a degree in music, any offer is probably the only offer you will get. 

I scheduled interviews for in-between work hours during the next week.  That week was two steps beyond insane.  I clocked 48 hours of work.  I babysat 3 times, had 2 choir rehearsals, and did the interviews.  I was offered a volunteer position in my dream job location and a real job in the other place.  I had applied to volunteer there, and they were calling offering me 20 hours a week at a pay increase from my current position. 

But the two conflicted with each other.  I couldn't take the real job offer and still volunteer at my dream job.  But I could volunteer at my dream job and work my current job.  Which had finally started giving me hours. Now comes this week.  My car had been having some overheating problems so I brought it in. 715 dollars later I had a new water pump and timing belt.  It runs beautifully now, but remember how all I had was rent for June? Not anymore. 

Also, remember how my roommate said she would be moving out but i haven't seen or heard from her since? 

So am I paying double rent for june?  I don't know.  I put a post up about finding a new roommate, but I can't say when I need one.  I'm assuming as soon as possible, but the other thing is, remember how current roommate is kind of a pig?  When she left 2 weeks ago now, she left her comforter in the washer. I took it out a week ago because it was starting to smell and I needed the washer, and I hung it to dry and then went to put it in her room.  Her room.  I hadn't looked before.  I assumed it would be a mess. There were clothes on the floor (I can handle that) and there was underwear everywhere (can't handle that) the bed is not made (fine, whatever) there aren't even sheets on it (is that how she sleeps?) There are fast food bags everywhere and a TV is set up but the TV box and styrofoam pieces are still cluttered around it. The closet is nearly empty, but I'm not sure if thats because everything is on the floor or because she has started moving stuff out.  Only one thing is certain: I can't show that room to potential roommates.

Here's another layer of complication.  My friend is buying a house and we were going to be roommates.  We were planning on sometime this summer, when the house thing happens.  It was looking like August.  So do I find a new roommate and ditch her in august?  Do I find a new place, move, and then ditch and move again in two months? Do I pay double rent until something works out?  I honestly don't know. 

And here I am with a job offer.  Guaranteed hours and money.  It wouldn't be enough to pay the double rent.  But it would be guaranteed, as opposed to the other job, that potentially could be enough hours to pay double rent, but it is not guaranteed.  And I could do my volunteer stuff at the dream job if I just stick with the current non-guaranteed position.  But the non-guaranteed position is at a place I tend to resent and is not doing anything in my field.  And the guaranteed position is in my field.  But I'm certain to not get enough hours there to pay double rent, only single rent, so I would HAVE to get a new roommate and nix the plan to move in with my friend.

Basically I had a choice between playing it safe, working at a place where I could survive, get experience, give up on moving in with my friend, get yet another roommate that i don't know and have no guarantees about whether they are the butter-on-the-dryer kind of people or the food-stealing people or psycho in some other way.  (They could be nice too, I suppose. It does happen).


I could stay at the job I dislike, pray for enough hours to cover the rent, hope for things to work out with my potential future roommate, and take the opportunity to volunteer at my dream job in hopes that it pans out to someday be a real job doing things that I truly love. 

This is why I had my little melt-down on tuesday night.  At choir. Over a friend's bridal shower we are trying to plan.  It had nothing to do with the bridal shower, but the bridal shower was what broke me. I threw a tantrum.  It should also be noted that I am dealing with allergy issues like I have never had before.  Sure, Minnesota in general has my nose at a contant drip and I whine about how my head gets fuzzy while I am there, but for the first time ever I have allergies in Utah and am coughing and wheezing and my head is beyond fuzzy, its downright congested and I'm so sorry for all the people out there who have allergies like this.  So with my head in a pained and congested state and my mind roaming from decision to decision and my spirit trying to focus on choir music, my heart rebelled at the bridal shower.  Only the shower wasnt the real problem. 

I had decsions to make, and cake or cupcakes was the absolute least of my concerns. 

I'm not generally the risk-taking girl.  But you know what?  Playing it safe is what landed me working a dead end job, hating my life, and taking depression meds. 

The things I really love in my life have come from the only risks I've ever taken.  Move out at 16 for the U of MN Project SEE? Scary.  But more educational than anything else I could have done.  Move halfway across the country alone at 17?  I only ever wanted to go to BYU.  Burning that letter from the window factory and starving for a summer?  I wonder sometimes if I had gone back a third summer, if I ever would have actually made it out of that town.  Live in a foreign country of someone else's choosing for a year and a half? I would have done it even if it wasn't Paris.  But it was, and it wouldn't have been Paris if I hadn't done it at all.  Audition for the MoTab?  I very nearly gave up on that, you know.  Despite the fact that it was my dream, the opposition was so fierce, I nearly walked away more than once. 

And this Master's program was probably the biggest risk of all.  Quitting my job, begging for sub hours at work and babysitting work, and spending my days reading and writing about something I had never really studied before.  But I am not even to the middle of it and I love it so much.  And it gives me the potential to get my dream job. 

So I'm not going to stop taking risks now.  Its not time to give up yet.  And it may be crazy or stupid, and I may fall flat on my face, and I don't know what failure will look like, but I think even failure is more honorable than not even trying in the first place. 

I called the job offer yesterday morning and told them no.  I also told them I loved their organization and would like to volunteer for them on my time.  We are working that out.  I called my dream-job-volunteer-opportunity and scheduled the battery of drug tests, interviews, and references to get started.  I told my boss I just spent $715 on car repairs and was in dire need of her help. 

I am Nancy the risk-taker.
Please send cash or ramen. Or both.