19 October 2010

Living In Limbo

Even though I don't believe in Limbo theologically-speaking, I think Dante had it right when he placed Limbo as the first circle of Hell. Being stuck in between two possibilities is the worst, even (or especially) when one of those possibilities is not what you want. This whole fall has been an exercise in patience and existing in Limbo.

Student teaching is one excruciating round of Limbo (mostly I mean the place, but the dance/game is pretty hellish and bears some resemblance to student teaching, so choose the metaphor you like best). I feel that, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., I am being judged on everything I say, do, think, ask, believe etc. It is an extremely stressful way to exist. On top of that, I am being asked to prove my teaching ability in a classroom created by someone else, in which I am expected to follow protocols that I might not have chosen. This sounds like whining, but I'm not, I promise. The teachers I work with are fantastic and I am learning a lot, but the whole experiment has a very draining element and one on which hinges so much of my future. Every action, every choice, every word is weighted with portent because while doing or saying anything I have two very real possibilities before me. Every decision will either lead closer to the possibility of working as a full-time teacher or failure. Heaven or hell, good or bad, the possibility of failure much nearer because I haven't proven myself completely and received the pass to cross the river into paradise.

I also made the move from a single's ward to a family ward. The single's ward no longer felt like the place for me, partly because I was 31 and it was officially time to move on, but mostly because with every passing month I was becoming even more significantly older than the people in the ward. My roommates, at 21 and almost 23, were the old-timers in the ward. I didn't really fit. But then, I don't really fit in a family ward. The people my age have children and are in a completely different place. That doesn't mean we can't be friends, but it does mean our time is alloted so differently that it is hard to connect to even build a friendship. Besides all of that, however, is the fact that I just feel completely awkward. I am a single 30-something who is just now beginning to build a career. I am a statistical outlier and, generally, statistical outliers remain on the outside. We don't fit. Negotiating exactly how I fit is a time-consuming endeavor that I don't really have the time for right now. All my free time is taken up with sleep or lesson planning.

A final piece of the Limbo equation is that I don't know where I'll be living in a year. After June, I could be anywhere. The new teacher market in Bellingham is flooded, and as much as I love this place, it is likely I'll have to leave it. I don't know where I'll end up. Very few districts are actually hiring in these days of massive budget shortfalls. It is entirely possible I'll end up back in Moses Lake, the capstone of another failed endeavor to make a life for myself. Even if I find a job, it means another starting over, another new place, another effort at making friends and building a space that doesn't feel like Limbo.

07 August 2010

Aural Obsessions

The way I listen to music probably annoys other people, like my roommates, who have to hear what I play on a regular basis. I tend to get obsessed with a handful of songs and listen to them repeatedly for however long the obsession lasts. The songs aren't necessarily new, often the are songs that have been in my collection for ages and have heard on a regular basis, but something changes and they become all I want to hear. My fixation on a song can last anywhere from a few days to months and there really is no rhyme or reason to how or what catches my attention. I thought I would share the songs I'm currently obsessed with, so enjoy.

And So It Goes by Billy Joel

Coffee and Cigarettes by Michelle Featherstone

Ever Fallen In Love cover by Pete Yorn (originally by the Buzzcocks)

Between the Lines by Sara Bareilles

Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch

03 August 2010

I Am Not Normally A Violent Person

However, I have developed a nearly-overwhelming urge to punch people in the face in the past few years. It isn't always the same people, which is good because if it were the same people repeatedly inspiring such feelings, I might end up actually doing it. And assaulting someone is never a good idea, whatever Hollywood says about such things.

But I digress. 

The rotating group of people who inspire such ire and rage are those who attempt to make me feel okay about being 31 and single. Which most of the time I am okay with, in fact most of the time I am quite okay with it, happy in fact. To quote Gwen Stefani, 'the longer I wait, the more selfish I get.' I enjoy my life and what I am doing and have done with it. Sure I wish I occasionally had a date, but that isn't the norm and it isn't what I spend my days obsessing about and it isn't why I'm angry. Rather, it is when people feel they have to reassure me that the rage sets in. Cognitively, I know they think they are being helpful, but really what they are implying is that I should feel down because I'm not married, that I should be devastated that I'm not a wife and a mother, which is why they need to reassure me. So, in offering their support and reassurances, I'm hearing nothing but pity and the endless conversations they must be having in which they talk about feeling sorry for me because I'm not a wife and mother and, therefore, must have a never-ending parade of dismal, depressing, and disconsolate days. Which I patently do not.

The worst sort of reassurance is one I term The Consolation Prize. In the LDS world, The Consolation Prize comment employs either Wendy Watson Nelson or Kristen McMain Oaks as examples. These women, single for most of their lives and living lovely, productive lives, are married to Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oaks (respectively), well-loved Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have to be very careful how I phrase the next bit, because I think both couples are wonderful and the women are fantastic examples of living life to the fullest even if things you hope for do not come when expected. However, people who use them in their Consolation Prize reassurances do not focus on this aspect of their lives. Instead, they point out that at the end of their prolonged singleness, they were 'rewarded' with marriages to esteemed men. All of which, to me, negates their true example. It turns something real and bittersweet, long-single women and recently widowed men finding happiness, into an unreal, fairytalesque anecdote or the plot of an LDS-oriented romantic dramedy. Which seems unfair to everyone involved. It also tends to imply that other long-single women, women who stay that way and do not end up married to a General Authority, are somehow lacking. That Sheri L. Dew or Barbara Thompson or the myriad other, unknown single sisters living quiet Gospel-oriented lives around the world who remain single are somehow doing something wrong because they are still single. Which is the worst possible thing to imply.

This is all leading to the point that I don't need reassuring, especially reassuring that makes me feel like a freak rather than just a regular statistical outlier. If someone wants to reassure a single person, they really shouldn't bring up marriage or singleness at all. Talk about what is actually going on in that person's life, their adventures, their jobs, their interests or hobbies, something that makes it seem like you actually know them as a person, rather than solely as a single person. 

I bring this up, not because of anything someone has said to me lately, but because my roommate recently ended a serious relationship and has been watching a series of romantic comedies (or dramedies as the case may be) and we have very different opinions about their endings. She wants them all to end happily ever after while I prefer the bittersweet endings that may not be the traditional happily ever after but feel real. Which got me thinking about why people feel they need to reassure me and why it makes me so irate. 

I think the reason I get so irate, especially when handed some variation of The Consolation Prize, is that real life is not easily packaged, nor does the Hollywood happily ever after have any relation to real life. Romantic comedies generally end with a kiss or a wedding. That is not the end of the story; that is the beginning of the story. When the screen goes black after the kiss or the wedding it signals that the hardships are over, that everything was blissful, that the fairytale is complete and nothing bad ever happens again. That is, possibly, the biggest falsehood embraced by society. Relationships are hard. They take work. Soulmates aren't out there just waiting to find one another; you choose your own soulmate and then you work like crazy to make sure you stay that way. It isn't easy and the problems don't just go away. It doesn't mean that relationships and marriage aren't worth it, if done right they make hardships and difficulties less hard and less difficult because you have someone to share them with, but it doesn't make them easy. 

All of which is to say, I would like to get married and have children but if it doesn't happen I'm going to be okay with that. I just wish other people would let me be okay with it.

02 August 2010


Sometimes I look through my blog archives and wonder what happened to my posting ability. Or, really, my drive to do so. I think what happened, and it's just a theory, is that for the past 3 years I have been operating in survival mode. It has taken this summer, the last seven weeks, of doing absolutely nothing (well, mostly nothing) to get me feeling like a real human being again. I have finally started to remember what makes me, me. It is a nice feeling, getting reacquainted with myself. Which led me to some thinking about several things, which subsequently led me to make some decisions, which then led to some changes. 

The first important decision was to start going to a family ward in September. I turned 31 last October and I think it is time I waved good-bye to the YSA life. That decision led to my being released as Relief Society President yesterday. It still doesn't seem quite real, although I now have fewer keys, less paperwork, and a much more open calendar.

The second important decision is that I need to start living healthier. I have developed some very, very bad habits over the last five years or so, and they need to stop. This led to two changes, the first being my giving up soda, which means no more daily doses of Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke, or Coke & Lime. I thought it would be hard, since I just started on Monday of last week. It hasn't been. In fact, I bought a Dr. Pepper on Saturday and I didn't enjoy it all that much. Some of it has to do with my new addiction to San Pellegrino and Lime, but at least it has no sugar, no caffeine, and no calories, right? Also, I committed myself to doing a non-couch potato activity three times a week. So far, so good. And since I don't actually call it exercise, I don't end up pushing myself so hard I'm miserable and injure myself and give up. So yay!

The third decision is that I need to start doing things I love again. Which means writing and reading and occasionally doing something artistic. I have a little less of a developed plan on that one, but I figure actually posting on my blog is a step in the right direction. We'll see what happens. 

And finally, I hope the title of this post got David Bowie stuck in your head.

27 July 2010

Summer Vacation

I spent a few days on the Oregon coast for a few days this month for my stepmother's family reunion. It was so beautiful there - I want to permanently relocate to a tiny beach house somewhere along there in the near future. Can you blame me?

I went crabbing for the first time while I was there - thankfully the rain stopped shortly after we started. It was fun, but wet. And I don't eat shellfish, so I didn't partake in the fruits of our labors. 

A few days after I got home, my friend Tina Spahkle came up for a visit. We had a lot of fun, most of it when we left our cameras behind, but we did manage to capture a few fun pictures while exploring Larrabee State park.

Most of the rest of my summer has been spent worrying about student teaching, finding a job, and facing the real world again. And I have a stack of partially read books I need to finish in the next four weeks. Good times.

29 June 2010

As A Lady Of Leisure

The job hunt is not going well, especially since most places that do summer hires around here are actually downsizing. So I have had some time on my hands. This has meant lazy mornings in which I don't get out of my pajamas until it is no longer morning and hours spent finishing projects that have been sitting gathering the proverbial dust for months and months. It also means that I have had lots of time to catch up on my movie viewing. I'm burning through my Netflix queue and have seen some good things in the theater, so here are mini-reviews in case you are interested.

Iron Man 2
I saw this months ago, but I still feel it necessary to mention because it is just plain fun. Robert Downey, Jr.'s devil-may-care attitude is firmly in place, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson have higly covetable wardrobes, and I still drool over the beach house that doubles as the Iron Man bunker of invention and inebriation. I was less enthralled with the villains of the piece, mostly because one was so hyperactively quirky and the other so muted, despite his requisite rage, that it seemed at once too much and not enough. Also, I had no idea creating new elements only required laser beams and Captain America's shield. Good times.

Prince of Persia: Some unnecessary subtitle that does nothing to illustrate the dreaminess of Jake Gyllenhaal in this film
This movie wasn't necessarily something I was looking forward to, but it looked like a nice way to escape reality for a couple of hours. Also, my main criteria for deciding when to spend unholy sums to watch a movie in the theater is a) will I regret not seeing it on the big screen and 2) are there dreamy actors involved. The answer to both of those questions was yes for something like Prince of Persia, so I went. And I was pleasantly surprised. I know critics had multiple complaints, but I thought this movie was very much in the tradition of jolly adventures like The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. I would not be surprised if there was eventually a Prince of Persia ride at Disneyland. Anyway, if the movie is at a dollar theater near you, go see it. It isn't going to change the world, but it did make me laugh. 

Hairspray (1988)
So you know how the musical Hairspray - both the Broadway show and the film adaptation - has a loving family at its core and really only the obvious antagonists seem without human decency? Well, that is the complete opposite of the source material. I couldn't finish this film. It is bitter and unhappy and even the 'good guys' in the piece were people I would avoid on the street. All the parents are overbearing, all the teenagers are oblivious and self-centered, all the jokes are at someone's expense. Do yourself a favor and avoid this. I had to watch the film adaptation of the musical after attempting to watch this, just to cleanse my palate.

I watched this with my brother and sister-in-law. I kept falling asleep and yet not missing anything. Also, pretty much plotted out the course of the movie after the first third. In fact, I didn't actually get to finish it with them, but I don't feel like I ever need to finish it. Sure, the visuals were stunning, but that is not enough to get me to watch it again. Unless I'm suffering from insomnia.

The A-Team
As a child, my favorite non-cartoon shows were Knight Rider and The A-Team. I LOVED these shows and seriously thought owning a black van and a Trans Am were the height of adult attainment. So I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about The A-Team movie. Then they did things like cast Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson in it and I had to go see it. Which I did. First of all, watching it made me feel like a kid again, that feeling of excitement and enthrallment when you get wrapped up in a show that you aren't quite sure isn't real. I got to be seven again, which is a wonderful feeling. Secondly, the casting was pretty much perfect and the plot managed to just barely stay on the acceptable side of the crazy line. The only moment of disbelief I couldn't willingly suspend (and this movie requires a good bit of suspension of disbelief) was the fact that Jessica Biel's character - a military officer tasked with enforcing law and ensuring justice - wore 4-inch stilettos during most of the movie. Which is insane. If you liked the show as a kid, definitely go see it. It will make you feel like a kid again - in a good way. Also, stay til the very end of the credits.

Hamlet (2009)
Even casual readers of this blog know I love David Tennant. In 2007 when it was announced that he would be doing Hamlet for the RSC, I was ecstatic and wanted to go to England to see it on stage. I started graduate school instead. However, the RSC and the cast nicely filmed an adaptation of their staging of the play, which I bought at Target in the spring and finally got around to watching. Now, I love the play. I find the whole discussion of grief and sanity fascinating. I thought Kenneth Branagh's 1996 adaptation was gorgeous. I still think that. However, David Tennant's Hamlet is so very engaging. I don't know that I have seen an adaptation that let the actor portraying Hamlet play so very much with the question of his own sanity. The introspection and exhaustion that follow grief and trauma is readily apparent and I loved it. Patrick Stewart is, of course, marvelous as Claudius and the supporting cast is fantastic as well. If you are a fan of the play, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, or anything Shakespeare do check out this adaptation. It will be 3+ hours well spent.

Lars and the Real Girl
It is really impossible to describe this movie in any coherent way. It is about a community coming together to help one of it's own. It is about the human capacity for love. It makes you take stock of your own attitudes toward humanity. I watched the whole thing on tenterhooks, expecting cruelty and horridness in ever new scene when all the movie offered was kindness and love. Which made me think about what that said about me. I highly recommend checking this sweet movie about a man struggling through traumas from his past and present and how people around him show that they care and love him. It will make your day.

American Teen
This is billed as a documentary, which it is. Sort of. It is about actual high school seniors in Indiana. The kids are real, the school is real, the situations are real. However, it is highly edited to present a certain narrative. One could argue that most documentaries are edited down to present a narrative. But, this seems to want to keep the kids in simple categories for most of the film and glosses over complexities that would have made the film far more powerful and interesting. The students aren't necessarily shown as their true selves, but rather examples of generalized types. Some small moments in the film hint that each student is more than who they are presented as and who they present themselves as, but they are rare, almost as if they were forgotten pieces of greater stories that ended up on the cutting room floor.  Also, in this post-reality television world when kids are brought up with shows like The Hills, is it even possible for them to be their true selves when being followed by a camera? Being observed heightens any situation and alters the way people behave. Oh, and be forewarned - the movie can be a trigger for any unresolved high school PTSD stuff you might have. 

The Proposal
I finally took the time to watch this movie. I don't really know why I didn't see this before now, as I enjoy both Sandra Bullock and Betty White, but I didn't. I enjoyed the movie, but I kind of wish the film had spent more time in character development rather than naked hijinks and the many talents of small town general store managers/caterers/strippers. I felt I should care about the main characters and that I would probably even like them if the were real people I knew, but there weren't enough reasons for me to care about the characters. Other than being portrayed by likable actors like Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Frankly, I need a little more than that.

Cactus Flower
This movie caught my eye on Netflix simply because it said it starred Walter Matthau, Goldie Hawn, and Ingrid Bergman. That is a very random combination of actors. But it is a combination that completely works. I really enjoyed this movie - a romantic comedy that works better than most. Goldie Hawn won an Oscar for her role, which is understandable. And Ingrid Bergman just shimmers in it, especially given the freedom to be funny - something I don't think she was given much freedom to do. And, honestly, it is one of those great roles for an over-40 actress that seem so rare because it isn't a caricature. If you check out only one movie on this list, choose this one.

12 June 2010

Baby Bee Is Here!

My second niece, Baby Bee, arrived yesterday at 6:37 pm. She is 8lbs 5oz and 21 inches long. She is also the quietest, longest sleeping baby I've met in quite a while. She slept through getting her heel poked and didn't do more than one little grunt while being examined and man-handled by the pediatrician. And she has patiently put up with all of Bug's poking and exclamations. Seems like the perfect second child!

08 June 2010

A Few Ground Rules

I spent the past few days considering whether I actually wanted to keep this blog going. There was a slight kerfuffle due to my last post that seeped into my real life - something I very much do not like at all. This blog was supposed to be a place I could write what I was thinking and feeling and then leave it behind. Lately I felt an increasing need to self-edit, due to who has been reading my blog. Part of it is my fault for linking the blog on my Facebook page. Part of it was a slight panicky feeling when people addressed me by my name in comments. I thought about either deleting the blog altogether or making in private. Both would cause different issues and different, but similarly scaled, work loads. Neither felt right because both felt like I was making all the accommodations when it was my blog and my small corner of the virtual world. So here is the deal - I'm laying a few ground rules for my blog. If they are followed, great. This weekend will just be a small hiccup. If not, then I will reassess and see what happens.

My Rules:
  • If you comment, please DO NOT use my real name. There is a reason I use the pseudonym Scully. I like having a slight veneer of anonymity on my blog. I do not use real names in what I write. Please extend me the same courtesy. If not, I will delete your comments.
  • I write to get rid of things, to get things off my chest. It is a cathartic form of writing. This means that what I'm feeling when I write generally stays where I left it, on the blog. Feel free to debate my sentiments, to argue, to be offended if you wish, but know that I have moved on and do not want to deal with it in real life. That is why it is on the blog.
  • As a caveat to the previous rule, it is not my intention to use my blog to ridicule, harangue, lecture, or abuse someone. What I write is what I feel about a situation, my interpretation of events. If I get upset about something, it is because of the way it affects me. I don't hold grudges and won't call anyone out, but I will express my feelings and opinions. It is a balancing act and I won't always be successful.
Hopefully this is just a refresher and we can all go back to my regularly scheduled rants.

04 June 2010

I Spend Days Deciding What Shoes To Buy, I'm NOT Going To Rush Picking A Husband

Today at the Institute Friday forum, where they feed us lunch and have a speaker, I wandered into the kitchen to wash my dishes. Just minding my own business, washing my dishes, I suddenly became the topic of conversation between the two people already in the kitchen. One was the mother of a friend of mine, my friend being in her late 20s and also unmarried, and the other a retired man who serves with his wife as the CES missionaries. They must have been talking about how my friend is unmarried when I walked in because her mom was saying she was picky and then she starts referring to "these two" which apparently included me. Out of nowhere I was under attack for being picky and caught totally unprepared. I declared, quite loudly, that it was for eternity so I was going to be picky, thank you very much. Then they went back to talking about how in the world they were going to get "these two" married. Like they have ANYTHING to do with it AT ALL. Also, how in the world am I supposed to get married when a) the pool of eligible men remotely close to my age is miniscule and 2) that pool shrinks further when you add the demand that they be upstanding and temple-worthy. I think that leaves 1, maybe 2, individuals in my possible dating pool. Oh, and one can't get married if one never gets asked out on a date. Argh.

02 June 2010

Blerg Seems Like An Understatement

But it will have to do for now. Today is the nadir of the year, has been for the last three years and most likely will be for the rest of my life. What is the worst is being so busy the date doesn't really register until you are sitting in your 8am class and the date is made abundantly clear and there is nowhere to run and hide. So now, on top of dealing with all the other feelings you have to deal with, guilt gets added to the pile. Good times.

28 May 2010

Soliciting Your Opinion Yet Again

The portfolio I'm working on for my creative writing class has to include poetry, which I am much less comfortable with than prose. Prose I know where I stand whereas, with poetry, I am on much less certain ground. So, here are eight poems I've written in class - let me know which ones you like the best. The poems are linked below.

17 May 2010

A Very Long, Involved Post In Which I Politely Ask For Your Opinion

In order to do the core endorsement that will, in theory, make me one iota more employable in this wretched economy, I am required to take five English classes. I'm in my last one right now, Creative Writing, which is fun and I wish I had less other stuff to do so I could concentrate for on it. But, the end project is a portfolio in which we have to have one short story and five poems. Since I don't really have time for a lengthy revision process AND I am so stressed my decision-making skills have disappeared (seriously, it took 20 minutes this morning to decide if I needed to wash my hair. Not good.) I am asking you, dear readers, to give me your opinion on the three different stories I wrote during our short story workshop. These are all first drafts and I have some fairly extensive notes from my workshop group, so I'm mostly looking for what you think would be the best story to spend time improving. If you want to leave comments, fantastic. If you just want to vote in the poll, great. The stories are after the jump.

21 March 2010

Things That Were Great About This Weekend

  • No homework assignments hanging over my head.
  • I declared Saturday a 'no phone' day and enjoyed a blissful, solitary day.
  • My brother, sister-in-law, and niece came up on Friday.
  • My niece knows my name and can call me by it.
  • We chased ducks at Lake Padden and I taught my niece to say "Quack, Quack" which she now says when she sees ducks. 
  • All of the above makes it that much easier if I need to go down to Seattle and watch Bug when Niece #2 arrives in June.
  • My room is clean and I filed all the assorted paperwork that has been piling up since September.
  • With both roommates staying with family, I woke up to a house in the exact state that I left it, which was clean. There is something life-affirming about waking up to a clean kitchen on Sunday morning.
  • Catching up on TV shows is the perfect thing to accompany filing endless piles of paperwork. Although I have many thoughts on the direction they are taking Chuck and not all of them are pleasant.
  • I still have a whole week of Spring Break ahead of me in which I can accomplish more things that I never have time for during quarters, like re-potting plants and finishing gifts for friends and ironing. And sleeping. Oh, how I love the sleeping!
  • After spending a large part of the weekend immersed in the worlds of Jeeves and Wooster and Lord Peter Wimsey, I really wish I had a gentlemen's gentlemen despite the fact that I am not a well-to-do gentlemen living in London in the 20s or 30s. They just seem so useful, doing all the chores one doesn't want to do. Especially if one is busy solving mysteries or frequenting jazz clubs.

19 March 2010

A Stroke of Genius

Since school ended, I have had a bit of time on my hands which I have spent watching all the television and movies I didn't have time for during the last quarter. Lately I have been watching  A Bit of Fry and Laurie and subsequently had a stroke of genius the other morning as I was lazily lying in bed. There have been rumours of a remake of My Fair Lady with various people attached to it. Well, wouldn't the travesty of remaking My Fair Lady be somewhat mitigated if Hugh Laurie was cast as Prof. Henry Higgins and Stephen Fry as Colonel Pickering?  Can't you just see it?

19 February 2010

And This Might Get Me To Go To Bed Early

It must be the week of mellifluous British voices, because I found a nice, soothing way to get ready to sleep - the BBC's Bedtime Story series. Below is a link to one read by David Tennant, but there are also some with Richard Armitage and Rupert Penry-Jones. Enjoy!

If only I could get this as a podcast!

16 February 2010

I Might Not Hit Snooze If I Had This Alarm Clock

I'm currently on a bit of a Jeeves & Wooster binge at the moment and came across this wonderful alarm clock. It wakes you up with the sound of Stephen Fry wishing you "Good Morning." How brilliant is that?

10 February 2010

The Review I Promised On Facebook, Even Though A Lot Of It Is About Me

Often reviews become more about the reviewer than about what is being reviewed, possibly because a review is based in the individual’s response to the work. This review of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker is one of those. I can’t find a way to separate my thoughts about the book from my thoughts about me. So I apologize in advance, since I’m sure you came looking for my opinions about the book and are probably going to end up with a long, self-referential collection of random thoughts.

First and foremost, Ms. Baker is an excellent storyteller. If you haven’t heard them before, go straight to her website and listen to “The Fortune Cookie Story” and “Babies Buying Babies.” The former had me laughing so hard I cried and I fully intend on making my future students read and/or listen to the latter. In fact, I think every person in the United States should read/listen to “Babies Buying Babies” but I won’t tell you why, since that would kind of ruin the impact of the story. Anyway, storytelling is one of Ms. Baker’s strengths and it is apparent in her memoir. She weaves together past and present, childhood and adulthood together quite effectively. She engages the reader (i.e. me) with a voice that is simultaneously familiar and unique. If you are looking for a collection of well-crafted stories, you’ll enjoy this book.

I enjoyed this book, but it also made me a little uneasy. It took me a while to pinpoint the source, partly because I always experience a bit of general discomfort when reading memoirs – in the entering and exploring of a different life and way of thinking. More than that, however, was the fact that she was discussing our shared religion very openly and frankly on a national stage. I am a little sensitive about the pressure that comes with being part of the LDS faith. Not overly sensitive – I generally dismiss pop culture references and actually liked the storyline with the LDS character on House (although I sincerely wish that writers would do actual research about the religion and the Church before writing). But I do have issues with individuals who talk about being LDS and then act in a way that is completely opposite to the doctrines of the religion, like that girl on The Real World lo those many years ago (was it really 10? How time flies!). Ms. Baker’s memoir falls somewhere in between. I can respect that someone struggles with his or her faith and with aspects of a religion’s cultural traditions that can, at times, seem oppressive. But I also can’t deny there isn’t a part of me that wishes Ms. Baker hadn’t been quite so open and frank about her struggle. Obviously I don’t want to promote a false image of perfection or mindless compliance, but there is that moment of cringing every so often when I think about how a reader unfamiliar with our religion and faith will interpret what he or she is reading. Mostly because I don’t know how I’m interpreting what I’m reading. There is plenty to consider in Ms. Baker’s book, but here is what struck me the most.

28 January 2010

I Have Been Reduced To Tears, But In A Good Way

For the past little while I have felt a bit invisible, that people aren't seeing or hearing me. Sometimes it is because a professor seems to purposely misunderstand my comments in class or because the world of my ward seems to move in an orbit that I don't quite occupy or because sometimes when people call me to see how I'm doing we end up talking more about them or sometimes it is quite literal, like when the man in the truck pulled out right in front of me despite looking right at me. So I have been feeling a little neglected. Part of it is my own fault, I tend to operate in some sort of guilt-ridden caretaker mode in which everyone's need seem to be more important than my own and I don't realize how much I have alienated the people who try to take care of me. My mom was one of the few people who could force me to let her take care of me. I also tend to keep things to myself, to let the storm rage in my head while I put up a facade of calm. But, regardless of the source, I have felt invisible. I was feeling tired and a little put upon after a long day of running from 7:30 in the morning until I got home at 9 tonight. I walked in the door and noticed an unopened boxed set of DVDs of a British television series I love but only told, maybe, two people in Bellingham that I love it. I asked my roommate about them and she told me they had been dropped off, for me, by a family we know, a family who probably has as a tight a budget as I do if not tighter, with the simple explanation that they were for me because I deserved them. I haven't called to thank them yet, partly because it is late and partly because every time I think about it I start to cry. I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell them how much their gift means to me. It is just like something my mom used to do.

05 January 2010

Perhaps It Is Time To Return To Reality

The past 3 weeks have been pretty luxurious, what with waking up when I want sans alarm and doing pretty much whatever I want whenever I want. I was not looking forward to the return of responsibility and school and church and reality in general. But something happened the other day that made me think that maybe I was wrong. I was taking a few Christmas decorations that I had forgotten during the first round of un-decorating over to my storage unit (yes, I have that much crap that seems totally necessary to keep). After safely storing them, I realized I was walking rather quickly down the hallway of variously-sized units and it took me a few steps to explain to myself why, mainly that it was kind of a creepy place to be by oneself. While mulling over how it seemed right out of say, The Twilight Zone or The X-Files or Doctor Who, I said, out loud to myself, "But I wouldn't want to travel with the Doctor wearing this!" Yeah, I think reality has arrived just in time.