lists


Tweety Bird!

30 is 3/4 of the way there.

75%.

I feel like I should have something amazing to report from today’s doctor’s visit.

Well, the awesome thing is that we’re going to have a baby in about ten weeks. Can’t just brush that off.

From today’s visit itself? Let’s make a list:

Beepee: At every visit the nurse takes my blood pressure. Today it was 100/60. It’s been around this low the whole time so far. Baby and I are just chillin’ together. You know, smokin’ weed.

Eye urn: Since I’m at 30 weeks, the doctor wanted to know iron levels. The nurse pricked my finger and took a microslide of blood. She used my middle finger because it’s less sensitive than the other fingers. I leaned over to Reilly and said, “That finger is less sensitive!” The nurse laughed and said, “And also pretty mean!” The nurse came back after a few minutes to report that my iron is great. She even gave me a cool Tweety Bird band-aid.

Mo billadee: The doctor asked me to get up and sit on the cushy table-chair thingy covered in hospital paper. He observed from the way I stood that I still move pretty well.

Art beat: Reilly has become an expert at finding the baby’s heart beat. He put the gel on my tummy and the microphone where it’s supposed to go and voila! rhythmic swishing. The doctor said that Baby sounds awesome.

Maize your: The doctor stretched a measuring tape from one end of my bump to the other. He took about two seconds, and when he saw the length — whatever it was, and whatever it means — he said, “Perfect.”

Quest yons: The doctor answered our questions about taking a labor and delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be going to. He said the hospital will let us preregister so that we won’t have as much paperwork to sign on delivery day. He told us to ask the lactation specialist about breast pumps. He also said that if an emergency arises or something happens before 36 weeks, to report to Utah Valley hospital. All very useful things.

Phoo duh: We thanked the doctor, left the clinic, then went to a sandwich place to eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. All to mark a successful visit.

Ten weeks left, everyone.

It used to bother me when people offered advice I clearly didn’t ask for. And that makes me a giant hypocrite, because I do that to other people all the time. It’s a condition I think, where I start talking and I come across as a big, blubbering know-it-all. I can see it in other people’s faces as the words spew from my mouth. Something I say rubs them the wrong way, their eyes register annoyance then glaze over, then they let the subject drop because they don’t want me talking anymore. I recognize the technique because I do the very same thing.

Now I’ve become more accepting of people and their opinions. Because people are always going to have opinions. And they’re often going to present them as fact. But the thing is now that instead of those imposed opinions ruffling my feathers, I’ll maintain an underlying level of doubt about what they say. When people say something like, “Babies pee purple until they’re three months old” or “Dancing will not only hasten delivery but make the baby more coordinated coming out of the womb” they can be sure that I won’t wholeheartedly believe them.

Nobody’s said those things yet, but there’s still time.

But I’ve mellowed out quite a bit, because I’ve recognized my own vast ignorance on the subjects of pregnancy and parenting. It doesn’t bother me as much when parents look at us and make the strangest remarks about what seems to be rather predictable things.

“Just you wait.” Wait for what? We are waiting. I’m closing in on my sixth of nine months. And while we’re waiting, we’re talking, reading, asking people what their experience has been. Are we waiting for a baby that pops out like a jack-in-the-box? Are we waiting for a labor that requires more waiting, except more intense? Are we waiting for Baby’s first blow-outs and spit-ups? Wait until our child starts smarting off at us? Wait until she’s a teenager? Or until she goes to college?  Or until she starts spouting advice of her own? There’s a difference between waiting for some big surprise to completely blindside us and anticipating possibilities in development and preparing accordingly. Or are you saying we’ll never be prepared? Because I can prepare myself for that kind of news, too. Or maybe you’re saying to wait for the constant feeling of failure as a parent. We plan on doing our very best all the time, and maybe you are too, but that doesn’t mean you have to  be so negative about it.

third trimester. Next month begins my third trimester, and I feel whatever you’re warning me against falls under the “just you wait” category. We’re taking everything in stride, just like we did when we decided against guessing at the baby’s gender. We would have been just as thrilled for a boy.

Second trimester has been a relative breeze, except for occasional lower back pain. Reilly and I have watched my tummy grow; I’ve felt our daughter moving around. I’ve played my clarinet for her and Reilly has told her stories.

Third semester promises swelling, more back pain, and the resurgence of tinkle frequency. Third semester also promises a wonderful baby in our arms.

pregnancy brain. Why people feel compelled to warn us about this, I will never know. It’s true that I have lapses: I forget to turn out the lights; I forget the name of a movie or song or actor or book. But there are other cognitive thingamabobs that seem to have gotten better: certain reasoning skills and the connection between my heart and brain. This connection helps to explain why I cry at nearly everything, like Hallmark Channel movies and these videos:

“It’ll change your life forever.” Really? Devoting attention and energy as parents to a brand new human being while maintaining our relationship as husband and wife will make our life different forever? Someone, please explain this to me, because I thought we’d be able to continue every single aspect of our life as usual.

“Have you thought of names?” We are going to leave a big blank on the birth certificate. And then maybe we’ll call her Blanky, not to be confused with the nickname Blanket, formally Prince Michael Jackson II.

People are thoughtful enough to tell us to be careful of the names we choose. And then we decide not to name our daughter after these people.

“Girls are so awesome!” People declare this to us because:

  • girls seem to have calmer dispositions
  • girls as first children can be very helpful with raising subsequent children
  • girls are funner to dress

I guess those reasons are legit? People tell us boys are awesome, too, because:

  • boys can be calm, too
  • oldest boys can protect their younger siblings
  • boys can be just as fun to dress

Again, we would have been thrilled either way.

doctor/hospital vs. midwife/homebirth. Boy howdy, I’ve researched both sides of what seems a pretty heated debate. And I’ve asked people about their experience, which has spanned the entire spectrum. There are parents who’ve had horrible and wonderful home births, and there are parents I’ve spoken to who’ve had amazing and terrifying hospital deliveries. And there are studies upon studies upon studies. And then there’s a ton of fearmongering.

vaccines. Some people just love to debate and attack people for thinking differently. Or just plain thinking.

breastfeeding. Same.

“I’ve done a lot of research  into [important subject]. [Or I haven't, but...] If you have any questions, we can talk.” I love this, and I think more productive conversations would happen if people used this approach more often. There are entire communities out there who engage in important parenting discussions and gain insight about their abilities as parents as well as their children.

I heartily admit that we don’t know everything about being parents, but we’re also not complete idiots. We’re not totally oblivious and unobservant. We’re not going to let an army of ants carry her away into their anthill to crown her the queen ant. That would make me jealous.

I appreciate parents who are passionate enough to share what has worked for them. And I’m willing to listen and try to see what will work for our daughter. But we will also trust in our own intuition and be specifically attuned to Baby’s unique needs. We have been fervently praying to be as prepared as possible, and if that preparation comes in the form of wide-eyed, über-zealous parents trying to tell us what to do, we can deal with that. But if it comes in the form of people who know what it’s like but want to let us figure some things out on our own, we’ll take that, too.

I mentioned before that as my belly has expanded my belly button has also increased in size. Because I often have to find a purpose in everything that happens, I surmised that the bigger belly button might also be used for feeding Baby.

My belly button used to look like this, more like a slot-shaped abyss. Things like lint and crumbs would be lost in there forever:

belly00a

Now my belly button looks closer to this, which makes it so much easier to clean:

belly01a

Here are some food items I’ve considered giving to Baby through my belly button. My first idea was a carrot, since that seemed most likely to fit:

belly02

Then I also thought about Red Vines, since they are also a skinny food:

belly03

 

I also wondered how junk food like French fries (since Red Vines aren’t really junk food) would affect Baby:

belly04

Then I started thinking about protein and how important it is to Baby’s development. I thought about how much Baby might appreciate a steak:

belly05

But then again, Baby might like something a little lighter:

belly06

As you can see, my new belly button could really come in handy.

The other night I discovered another way to help Baby. It was around 2 or 3 am, and I had some trouble getting to sleep. I was getting frustrated and thinking of ways to fall asleep, and I decided to listen to some music on my Kindle. When it’s late at night and Reilly’s already sleeping, I usually plug in some earphones into the Kindle and watch Netflix or Hulu or listen to music.

Up to this moment, Baby had only listened to music from the regular speakers from a regular stereo system. And the stereo was never up close. Maybe the late hour caused some delirium, but it occurred to me that I could use my earphones so that Baby could listen to music with me. I decided to try sharing my earbuds with baby:

belly07

I put one earbud in my ear, and the other earbud went into my belly button. Baby and I listened to music for about an hour. Of course I made sure to keep the volume low.

Baby seemed to like certain types of French music, like Carla Bruni’s “Quelqu’un m’a dit”:

belly08a

She didn’t like “Comme des infants” by Coeur de Pirate:

belly09a

And she seemed to hate “Satellite” by Indochine:

belly10a

But Baby seemed to calm down while listening to classical music, such as violin concertos performed by Hilary Hahn. And the last song I played before going to sleep was Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day,” which we both agree on:

belly11a

I can’t wait to see what else Baby likes to listen to.

Yesterday during my monthly doctor’s appointment, I was acting like a first-trimesterite: small-stomached yet gassy; low-energy; surprise peeing. Now it’s 3am on Thursday, October 3, 2013: I have to pee, I’m wide awake, and I’m starving.

I’m used to waking up around this time, having a snack, drinking a glass of water, lying in bed unable to sleep, reading my Kindle (lately it’s David Sedaris) until 5am, dozing off to half-consciousness until it’s time to kiss Reilly goodbye for work, use the bathroom, have another snack and drink, then sleep for real until around 8am.

Today, I slip from my bed into the stillness of the wee (I’m leaving the pun: deal with it) hours. I use the bathroom and shuffle to the kitchen for a drink of water. I take out the peanut butter and smear it onto a slice of soft whole wheat bread. I like this bread; it’s like white Wonder bread in its texture but offers necessary fiber and nutrients. And I like this peanut butter. It’s the generic kind from a local store, but it’s chunky. Somehow chunky peanut butter saves me the impossible effort of using my tongue to scrape plain creamy peanut butter from the roof of my mouth. These kinds of things are important to me.

I chew my little sandwich slowly, appreciating the textures of the bread and peanut butter. I think about putting honey on the sandwich, but I decide against it this time. I finish my glass of water and head back to bed. I turn on my Kindle and make sure the brightness is on the lowest setting. I do a crossword puzzle then turn to a collection of David Sedaris’s early essays called Naked. I read and giggle to myself until my eyelids get heavy. I go online and check out a pregnancy website that tells me at 14 weeks, Baby is the size of a lemon (3.4 inches, 1.5 ounces), producing urine, sucking a thumb and wiggling toes, and growing lanugo. I keep Lanugo in mind as a possible baby name. Lanny for short. Or possibly Nugo. Names are so versatile these days.

For about 15 minutes I close my eyes until Reilly’s alarm clock goes off. I shift to my left side and resume sleep until the alarm sounds again 20 minutes later. Reilly asks how I slept, and I say, “No.” And Reilly says, “Aww, I’m sorry.” Then I go back to sleep while Reilly gets ready for work. He leaves around 6am, and this morning my stomach actually feels empty. Like a hollow space. Not filled with air, but a true void. It has probably been at least 14 weeks since I’ve felt like this.

I drag myself out of bed around 7am and make a bowl of oatmeal. Reilly does not like oatmeal, something about sliminess. But I love the stuff. I don’t like cooking it to absolute mush; if it’s possible to cook the oats just past al dente, that’s the way I like it. Then there’s milk and sugar or brown sugar and cinnamon and fruit. Sometimes nuts. And it’s steaming hot and the way it slides down into my stomach comforts me, like a good hug or a well-written paper. It’s filling and delicious and nutritious and delicious and just oh-so-delicious. After I finish the bowl of oatmeal I slump onto the couch and smile as my tummy thanks me. The pleasure is all mine, tummy.

But my mind kicks into high gear just after a few minutes: What’s the next thing to eat today? I cut up an apple and leave the slices out so I can snack on them throughout the morning. I make another peanut butter sandwich. I put the wheat crackers on the counter just in case I want them, too. I boil an egg. And I grab a handful of trail mix and munch on it while I try to plan the day’s menu.

DANG, Baby. You be making some demands. I mean, Baby’s growing, so it makes sense that Baby’s hungry.

I thought I had a pretty solid plan for eating. During the first trimester, my stomach moved food so slowly, and I got full more quickly. So I figured that I could eat a smallish meal every three hours or so. This morning I have an inexplicable and unstoppable urge to cram all the food into my mouth all the time. That leaves the previous plan null and void.

Bottom line: eat more. MORE! FOOD! NOM NOM NOM NOM! I’m so much hungrier now, and I need to listen to that. And this is how I listened today:

  • cheese quesadilla with salsa
  • baked chicken, vegetables, with leftover rice
  • pasta with alfredo sauce and vegetables
  • orange juice
  • trail mix throughout the day
  • ice cream
  • cereal and milk
  • turkey sandwich and fries
  • about three quarts of water

What’s sort of surreal is that my wee-hours book last week was Portia de Rossi’s memoir about how she overcame eating disorders, Unbearable Lightness. It’s a very honest and raw account of her experience with food and how she withered away to 82 pounds. Ms. de Rossi invites readers inside her head during those very obsessed and miserable years of her life. And it’s not like her head got inside my head, because I wasn’t counting calories the way she was. But I found a certain degree of comfort in the discipline of eating at the same times every day. And then Baby requires a lot more food quite suddenly, and I find myself being thrown from this daze of discipline. And I have to find new awareness. And the thing about awareness is meta-awareness: I have to know that I have to be constantly conscious of this other little human inside me. And this constant consciousness translates to nurturing, protecting; it becomes real motherhood.

As of last week’s appointment, I have crossed into triple-digit land, and I think I’m here to stay for the duration.

Am I always going to try to end these blog posts with a little depth and cheesiness? Looks like it. But I like depth. And I really like cheese, so maybe I’m going to tend my motherly duties and make a sandwich.

You guys.

I’m pregnant. There is a baby in my tummy.

As of today, I’m 14 weeks, one day along. That means about 26 weeks to go. Of course I’m counting weeks. And counting weeks is sort of like waiting for water to boil. Or watching grass grow. It sort of makes the weeks drag, but the days themselves pass quickly. How weird: being pregnant is being in a kind of time dichotomy.

Part of what makes time slow down is how excited we are to grow our little family! Sometime in the middle of March I got the chance to hold a baby who was born a month premature. She was so little, and as I held her, those urges emerged more strongly than usual. I went home that day and talked to Reilly and the conversation went like this:

Me, “I think it’s time for us to have a baby.”

Reilly, “Okay, let’s have a baby.”

And that was that.

As a part of having things to report to my doctor every month, I’ve been noting observations each week of my pregnancy. The following chronology includes a few highlights.

Week 1: My period happens.

Week 2: Magic.

Week 3: Continued magic. And then we make a zygote!

Week 4: I start to experience lower abdominal weirdness that I call “hot stomach.”

Week 5: I miss my period and suspect I’m pregnant. I also start waking up around midnight every night. One night after lying awake for about two hours, I decide to take a home pregnancy test, and this happened:

That IS a second line.

A faint line is STILL a line, right? I wake up Reilly. We talk and laugh and become giddy. I go back to sleep. Later that morning, we make an appointment for a blood draw the next week.

Week 6: I have a blood test to confirm pregnancy. During a lunch break at work, I call the doctor’s office two days later for the results. From my workspace, everyone in the room can hear everything I say, so I use vaguespeak such as:

  • “I had some blood drawn, and I’m calling about the results.”
  • “Hmm, I think it’s actually closer to 7.”
  • “So, do I need to schedule a follow-up?”

Week 7: Bloating plus my pants do not make a balanced or very comfortable equation.

Reilly smells my forehead and tells me it smells like a baby.

I have begun to pee my pants in very small trickles. This is the most wonderful experience of my pregnancy so far.

I must have orange juice! I go buy a carton and have a drink, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

I want Thai food! Reilly takes me to a Thai place, and it’s the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 8: I want chocolate chip cookies! We pick up ingredients for cookies and bake them. They are the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 9: Oh, hello, nausea. You do realize I’m trying to sleep, right? It’s 1 and then 2 and then 3 and sometimes 4 in the morning. I grab a snack and sip of water and often fall asleep in time to wake up. This probably is the most wonderful pregnancy experience I’ve had so far.

And it really would be awesome if I could just stop peeing my pants.

Week 10: I haven’t vomited yet, even though nausea keeps nagging me. But I have started dry heaving, which I guess is better than kneeling at the toilet, blowing chunks.

Reilly is glad that someone is around who now farts more than he does.

I want a Taco Bell quesadilla! Reilly brings one home, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Reilly comes with me to my first official OB appointment. I pee in a cup, which is no problem whatsoever because I am now at least a sporadic trickle-fountain of pee. The doctor examines me; his nurse takes three vials of blood for testing from my arm. THREE! VIALS! That seems like a lot of red from someone who still doesn’t quite weigh 100 pounds. I imagine all that blood is for baby vampires. My contribution to society. The doctor gives me a book, which is super nice of him. When we get home, I flip through the book, and then I immediately hand the book over to Baby so that everyone’s prepared (FYI, the photo is actually from the next week where I have an official ultrasound, but i wanted to feature the book here):

Of COURSE Baby reads!

The day after the appointment, I Gchat to some friends the beginning lyrics of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” I wonder how someone can make the enormous logical jump from me singing, “I believe the children are our future; teach them well, and let them lead the way” to thinking I’m pregnant. Someone who thinks laterally, most likely. If you happened to ask me directly the day after this appointment about my pregnancy, you would have caught me in an especially vulnerable and happy-truth accepting mood, and I would have told you the happy truth.

Week 11: The nausea starts to subside a little, but I’m still dry heaving. Chewing minty gum lessens the nausea, but chewing it too long triggers my gag reflex. It’s annoying.

You’ve figured it out: everything I crave is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted.

One night, I lie in bed, trying to sleep, and Reilly is up doing his homework. He hears me dry heaving and brings me my water bottle full of cold water (which Baby loves), kisses me on the forehead, and asks if I’m okay. And that? Seriously, one of the best experiences of my pregnancy so far. My husband rocks.

We’re not yet ready to announce the pregnancy, so we outright lie to Reilly’s parents so that we can borrow a car for me to go to an ultrasound appointment. Since Reilly can’t be there, I get a little DVD made during the ultrasound so he can see what happened. Under Baby’s direction, I cut five minutes from the original DVD and added a few titles to show you how adorably Baby moves:

Week 12: We tell our families the news. Everyone is excited and congratulates us. I text the announcement and the due date to my brother, and he responds. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the word I smudged begins with an F:

Bro's response

Week 13: This week is the cusp of the first and second trimester.  Baby loves fresh foods like salad and homemade meals, but sometimes Wendy’s chicken sandwiches, and ice cream and cream puffs. From the way my stomach feels after I eat, I can tell that Baby does not like onions, broccoli, and olives.

We are grateful for the opportunity to bring life into this world. The prospect of being parents is quite exciting, but I also imagine it to be pretty overwhelming. I wonder once Baby is born, after looking around or even just breathing the air, if Baby’s first cries would sound like, “What the HELL, Mom and Dad?” And then Reilly and I would look at each other with simultaneous worry and assurance and explain that it’s all right, little one. We’re here. We’ll guide you through this mess and teach you to see beauty and goodness.  You’ll learn the power of kindness and sympathy and understanding, and you will find joy in this life as we find joy in you. We’ve been praying every night to be prepared to be good parents to you, and we’ve been blessed with tremendous support from the best family and friends in the world. Together, we’ve got this. We’ve got you. We’re so happy you’re here now, though it feels like we’ve already loved you for so long, and we know we can love you beyond forever. Our moments together will pass in a blur and through a slurry, often at the same time. Hang on tight.

26 weeks to go.

Am I ever going to catch up writing about vacation? Do you ever have the intention of writing deep, soul-searching rambles, letting your mind wander and return refreshed? Would you ever let your mind bend, commit a perambulatory dimension shift, jump up an energy level or two to uncharted parts of the brain?

You would? Good for you. I’m just going to talk about the beach.

We decided to go back where it all began, at Jacksonville Beach, where Reilly proposed to me.

When we got to the parking lot near the pier where we lost Jenny’s keys, it had started to rain. We waited for a little while then headed to a nearby gas station to get something to drink. When we returned to the parking lot, it was raining even harder. Because we are supreme nerds, both of us brought books to read and talk about. We cracked a window and read while it rained.

About 45 minutes later, the rain stopped, and we carried our books, drinks, and towels and found a nice place on the sand. The sky was still overcast, so it wasn’t very hot.

THE pier.

We stayed at the beach for the next two hours. Here is a list of things we did while we were there:

  • Applied sunscreen
  • Read and talked about books
  • Remembered seagulls from our engagement day
  • Drank our drinks
  • Got sandy feet
  • Took photographs
  • Watched people
  • Made fun of people
  • Peed in the ocean

Squinty photo

More clouds

Still more clouds

We only peed in the ocean because we’d been drinking those drinks from the gas station so we had to go, and the parking lot bathrooms were locked, and we thought it would be sort of fun to pee in the ocean. I mean, let’s be honest. We walked casually enough to the water and allowed enough space between us so that we wouldn’t by grossed out by the each other’s warm current. We walked to where the water was about to our hips. We didn’t talk to each other for a few seconds, then I asked Reilly if he was done. Then we let the ocean gently roll in and rinse us.

But here’s the thing: Do you know what acid rain is? So, because people pee in the ocean, and water from the ocean evaporates and forms clouds, and some of these clouds make rain, I wonder if we often think about how often we pee on ourselves. Despite this, I still and will always love the beach.

After a couple of hours it was lunchtime, and we decided to eat at the Metro Diner. It’s a small Jacksonville chain with some distinct charm. It’s just a few blocks from the beach. If it weren’t for my friend Jenny’s recommendation, we wouldn’t have thought to go there.

Yummy food here

Reilly had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, and I had an enormous fish sandwich. The staff was really nice, and I took half my sandwich to go.

It was a sunny December afternoon when we got engaged a year and a half ago. As is typical for Florida summer afternoons, it rained on our way back to my parents’ home. But not very much. And maybe we had driven far enough away from the ocean and the wind hadn’t blown the clouds to where the familiar smell in the rain wasn’t my own urine.

Have you read any Flannery O’Connor? You need to. She writes some seriously fantastic stuff. Reilly and I went to her childhood home in Savannah, Georgia.

Does she know where you live?

Touring the author’s home was the last thing we did in Savannah, and I have to say it might have been better than touring Hemingway’s home in Key West. Some reasons are more substantial than others.

The tour was small. The touring hours neared an end when we decided to take the tour. An older couple were the only ones there with the docent. They seemed nice enough, but neither of them had ever read any Flannery O’Connor, but the woman said that a friend of theirs likes O’Connor’s writing, so I guess that piqued some curiosity. As the docent told us various stories in different rooms of the house, the woman in particular made comments about how creative O’Connor was. She commented constantly. Like, constantly. And the broadness of her comments confirmed that she hadn’t read any of the author’s work. She also showed that she wasn’t listening by asking questions about topics the docent already covered. It was annoying, but I also felt bad for being snobbish, because we and the docent discussed how O’Connor’s childhood stories had affected her writing that the other couple had read zero of. I guess I’m glad they were there so they could learn how cool this author was. Except that when we described Flannery O’Connor’s writing to them, the woman expressed that that type of writing didn’t interest her. So maybe I felt that the tour was an overall waste for her. And that makes me a little sad. This sadness is different than the sadness I felt learning that many of Hemingway’s relatives suffered from depression and committed suicide. In Savannah, the proximity of dumb tourists gave me quite a thrill, albeit a sad one.

"Not a very good book."

“Not a very good book.”

The docent was very knowledgeable. Reilly and I stayed after the other couple left and after tour hours ended to talk some more with the docent, Toby. He answered questions about the estate, about where O’Connors moved after leaving Savannah; we discussed Flannery’s personality and how her parents managed such a precocious child. We even talked about Toby’s own writing goals and his writing process. This tour felt very personal. The conversation was very stimulating and much needed after eating ourselves into a complete stupor at Paula Deen’s restaurant.

It wasn’t as hot. The entire time we spent in the South the weather was rather pleasant. In Key West the year before, Hemingway’s house was shaded, but the doors were kept open. It felt more humid and much warmer even though Savannah is right on the coast. Also, it seemed a legion of polydactyl cats roamed the property. Because Savannah seems so magical and haunted, the town protected and preserved Flannery O’Connor’s house. I felt more comfortable there.

The power went out. With Grimm’s Fairy Tales on the toilet, of course. It was only a short power outage, but it was a cool effect that added to the creepiness of Flannery’s stories.

Bathroom reading, obviously.

Jerry Bruckheimer. Flannery O’Connor’s estate does not permit any film or theater adaptations of her work, but Jerry Bruckheimer’s name has quite a presence in this house. He happens to like Flannery’s writing, and he made major contributions to have the house restored and turned into a museum. Which is pretty cool. I just get a little scared when I think of what kind of movie Bruckheimer would make if the estate decided to expand Flannery’s work to other media. The work by itself powerfully engages the imagination and provides wonderful dialogue. Explosions or other ridiculous effects and bad acting would definitely detract from that. The estate has acted wisely, but maybe a play would work well sometime in the future.

He's so cute!

I really enjoy touring authors’ homes with someone who loves to read. We have fun discussions, and we make each other smarter. It doesn’t seem possible, I know. Just take my word for it.

A young man referred to this song during his talk today in church. It’s one of my favorite old gospel tunes.

The young man’s talk was about gratitude, and throughout his remarks he expressed sincere thanks and appreciation for many blessings in his life. He demonstrated a positive attitude, and he inspired me to be more grateful more often.

The Eva Cassidy recording of this song is one of my favorites because she brings out a lot of the inherent emotion in the song. Like she truly can’t help singing about the Lord in her life. That’s an admirable condition to have, involuntary proclamations of gratitude.

Thankfulness seems such a conscious state of mind or being, but I imagine many of us develop an awareness of behaviors that become second nature. Can someone be grateful and not know it?

I haven’t blogged in a month. It’s time to catch up on a few things.

  • Vacation
  • Hikes
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Paula Deen
  • DOMA, possibly
  • Games
  • Weather
  • Art of conversation
  • Movie/Song/Book reviews

This week I have to prepare a Relief Society lesson to give next Sunday. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. I have been thinking about the lesson the whole month, so it’s a matter of organizing my thoughts and hopefully teaching a few things my fellow sisters need to hear.

One seems such a small number.

One year began with a day. But what about what came before?

One day before the day that began the one year, two lives crossed with one meeting. A single meeting of two single people. That single meeting turned to one date just a few days later. Then another date. And another. As the number of dates increased, the singularity of the two single people became more ambiguous. They no longer considered themselves single.

Look at this cute couple!

This became even more evident to them after the one first kiss. There was the only first one, but there’s always a first second one, and a first third one, and so forth. A proper tally during this one year would add up to the first kiss for the ten-billionth time. The first kiss on the first anniversary morning of the wedding would be the first ten-billionth-and-first kiss.

Almost smoochies!

It’s a little bit mind-bending, this whole issue of two single people who no longer consider themselves single. One year ago today, they vowed they would not only be not single but would always be together. One unit. A single entity. They promised to love each other, to bring each other out of a single status as two people to be married into one. A single status.

In this past year, they have already experienced so much. There is a certain intensity of depth that comes from cleaving unto each other. There are even terms that derive from such cleaving. Moments in books, movies, or real life that somehow relate to the marriage cause more poignant, even clevimental tears. Moments that are more lighthearted and cause the two people to share a secret wink or smirk or cause them to laugh at the same thing are full of clevity.

Yay, us!

In this past year, this single couple have shared so many singular yet infinitely precious moments.

  • They have traveled parts of the United States and hiked various parts of Utah.
  • They have experimented cooking various meals and desserts.
  • They have decorated their apartment and added to their book collection.
  • They have met different family members.
  • They have attended concerts and other various cultural events.
  • They have gone to theme parks.
  • They have attended book clubs and readings.
  • They have played with babies and laughed at kids at church.
  • They have danced together. Like, a lot.
  • They have sung to each other.
  • They have spent time with friends in many ways and played weird card games with family.
  • They have watched a lot of television and many movies.
  • They have told each other how cute they are.
  • They have talked about their respective jobs with each other.
  • They have gotten accepted to grad school. Yes, both of them.
  • They have prayed together.
  • They have talked about their future.
  • They have expressed how much they love each other, which makes them even more excited to keep talking about their future.

They are happy that talking about their future is part of their future. The meta-commentary becomes part of the metaphysical that will eventually become part of their reality. A singular reality.

They stand one year ahead of when they were married for time and all eternity. Two souls, one year. One year will turn into two, then three, and so forth. Those years will come.

For now, together, they look back on this one year.

It seems so huge.

We can't help it.

Object lessons are incredibly effective teaching tools, especially in religion.

There’s the one about nailing a board to a wall or a tree. If you put one nail in the board it can still spin around; the board is unstable. But if you put a second nail through the board, the board becomes anchored. This object lesson often taught the importance of the Book of Mormon, the second nail that goes with the Bible.

There’s the one about sticks or pencils. You can break one or two or four at the same time, but if you gather 10 or 15 pencils, they’re much harder to break altogether. This object lesson illustrates the importance of unity or contributing talents or time to a single purpose. Strength in numbers.

An especially popular object lesson is where the glove represents your spirit and your hand represents your body. Without your hand, the glove can’t do anything, but when the glove is on your hand, the glove becomes animated. The combination becomes a living soul.

I remember these object lessons from when I was a child. While they tend to be taught in cycles, my ability to remember them pretty well demonstrates their effectiveness.

Elizabeth Smart recalls an object lesson pertaining to sexual purity. About a used piece of chewing gum. She spoke about it at a conference about sexual trafficking, and the Christian Science Monitor reported the story.

On Facebook over the past few days, many people provided links with important conversations about sexual purity, abstinence education, and reassuring victims of sexual assault that they are not sinners/dirty/impure. Here are a few of the links I happened to click on:

Religion Dispatches

Blogs: Flunking Sainthood

Experimental Theology

I’ve read these articles and many of the accompanying comments. Being a victim of sexual assault, I think back to the object lesson with the chewed gum. I wonder what specific connections I made when I was a young girl. How could I have made sense of my worth when the person who had supposedly “taken away” my virtue was the same person who presented the object lesson at a family home evening nearly 30 years ago? Would I have been able to overcome my confusion without therapy?

That reminds me. Because I am May, and this is my month, I should remind you that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Maybe we can come up with different object lessons that help and inspire instead of harm and instill fear.

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