Halloween Costumes 2018, and Resisting Monsters

I posted this on social media 10/28/2018. It’s long enough to document here.

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We went to a Halloween concert yesterday and as we got out of the car, a lady shouted, “Chucky!” As we entered the building, we got a few “Nice costumes, guys!” from people we passed. And Reilly said I made a toddler dressed as Black Panther cry.

Also, posting our costumes on a Sunday to get us wondering why anyone should live with near-paralyzing fear of getting murdered on their holy days. Or any day for that matter. That is where my heart is right now.

These characters from horror movies evoke the thrill of a good scare that we can turn off, recover from, and then carry on with our lives. Other real-life monsters, like those just from this past week, aren’t as easy to escape. But we can’t let them conquer us with fear. We can’t let their hate overpower us or ambush us through the mail, at the grocery store, or where we find spiritual strength or a sense of community.

We love these costumes, and we are so excited about showing them off. But costumes are all they are. And you know our hearts aren’t filled with revenge like Chucky’s, or incapable of distinguishing between affection and violence as Frankenstein’s monster’s, or deeply primally evil like Black Phillip’s.

We are here for you. On your holy days, and every day.

Happy Sabbath, y’all.

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Seven Months

Thanksgiving Point

Dearest Zinger,

The above photo perfectly captures your attitude about life. You’re such an inspiration.

Let me recount a few experiences from the past few weeks.

One day I set you on the living room floor while I cleaned the apartment for a few minutes. I don’t remember if I set you on your back or stomach. Either way, you end up moving across the room and closely studying anything within reach.

I was straightening out your room: sorting clothes that you could still wear, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, making sure there were diapers at your changing table. Doing these types of chores is meditative for me, and I enjoyed being able to find focus on what I was doing.

Sneak

During this precious moment of Zen I heard you cry so I walked back to the living room. I found you kneeling next to the ottoman, which you were holding onto with one hand.

Ottoman

One day I set you in your crib and went to wash the dishes. The hush from the water coming out of faucet cleared my mind as I cleaned your bottles. After a few minutes I heard you crying. I turned off the faucet and walked to your room. You were crying in your crib. Your were hanging onto the top rail of the side of the crib away from the wall. And you were only tall enough to reach the top rail because you were standing up. You used the bars to pull yourself up.

Crib

One day I had set up a play area for you in the hall by the bathroom. This is what I do when I need to take a shower and keep an eye on you at the same time. After showering and getting dressed, I decided to play along with you in the hallway. A blanket was on the ground with some pillows to keep you from hitting your head on any corners. I lay on the floor while you crawled about. You hovered around my head, scooting along, exploring the space. I could hear you babbling, and then the next moment your babbling had somewhat intensified.

I looked up to see you looking down at me. You were holding onto one end of a pillow and standing up.

Sometimes I let you use my body as a jungle gym. Using my bent knees, you’d pull yourself up. Then you’d let go of my knees and just stand there, taking in the view. Or looking at me as if to say, “Hey, look! No hands!”

In the past week I’ve knelt a few feet across from you in the living room. I patted my knees and cheered for you to come to me. You scooted pretty quickly toward me, almost crawling. Who am I kidding, we might as well call it crawling. Once you got to where I was, you put your hands on my knees, then you climbed your way up, legs straightening until your body became completely vertical. Then I pulled you close and told you what a hard worker you are while we hugged.

You’ve done the same for Dadda, too.

What you’ve also quickly learned is how much easier it is to fall once you’re standing. But, Dadda has also observed that you’re becoming a better faller. You know how to fall on your bottom. And you’re also learning ways not to fall. Your reflexes are quickening. Dadda believes you’ll be competing in the Olympics next week. That’s just silly, because everyone knows the next Olympics isn’t until 2016.

Let me tell you something else we discovered this week. Your drool was returned with a vengeance. No mercy. You like to chew on my wallet. Spit strings dangle from your face, and they make me think of spiderwebs. And this past week when you took my finger to chew on, I felt a sharp little edge coming from your bottom gums. So, your drool could trap insects then you could use your emerging teeth to eat them.

Oh, heck no.

No Comment

Standing, crawling, teething. Solid foods.

All at the same time? I mean, really? You spent the first six months practicing: tummy time every day, watching people walk, insisting to stand when people wanted you to sit. You seem to have a good grasp on the theory of human movement that you have applied to your daily activities. You are already such a great student.

Nap

People comment all the time how cute and beautiful you are. And there’s no denying that. But Dadda and I also like to call you names that pertain to your personality and things you can do. You’re our little stander. And crawler. And talker. You’re a hard worker, and a good thinker, and we praise the way you figure things out. And just so you don’t get a big head, we also call you our little pooper and little farter. You’re very good at those actions, too.

The pulpit in the chapel of our church was broken last Sunday. The microphone is very high and can’t be lowered. Shorter people have to step onto a box to reach the microphone. I thought about walking up and bearing my testimony and making a joke about being short. Because people find my type of self-deprecation funny. But as I visualized myself approaching the pulpit, the image of using a step to reach the microphone to bear my testimony appeared in my mind, and that image seemed a pretty good metaphor. Stepping up takes work. Bearing witness of the work stepping up takes also requires effort, and neither of these actions are unassisted. So, while Dadda and I are helping you crawl and walk, all your energy and determination and eagerness are an example for us.

So, yes. We are very proud of you. At the end of a long day of standing up and crawling around, I like to hold you to give your muscles a rest. I like to massage your legs and arms to help them recover. To thank you. And as another way to show we love you. Then you get up the next day and do everything even better. And more.

Shots

Smug

Crosseyed

Alpine

Witches

Bottle

Cap

Books

Thanks for blowing our minds, little one. We love everything about you and all that you’re growing up to be.

Now it’s time to childproof our home.

Love, Mom

At 30 Seconds

This is not the first time she’s done this, but it’s the first time she’s done it in front of the camera. She did it twice in a row two days ago, but she was VERY ANGRY while doing so. Like, totally ticked off. Never mind doing it in front of the camera. And she did it for her father yesterday morning, but the camera again wasn’t out. So here’s Little Zinger’s debut of her upcoming mobility. It’s bittersweet imagining her rolling onto her back into the sunset already. Pardon the ESPN in the background, though news of the NBA draft maybe helped her.

 

 

Thinking about Brrrr

About a month ago I wandered around the Relief Society room during the third hour of church. I scanned the room of chatting women to see if I could find people who would offer the opening and closing prayers.

When I walked back to the front of the room I noticed the face of the woman who would be conducting the meeting. I remarked to her that she looked tired, and I asked if everything was okay. I expected her to respond with something about staying up all night with her toddler daughter. Instead she told me that her cousin had died the day before.

This completely caught me off guard but I told her that I was so very sorry.

Class was about to begin. She got up and conducted the meeting.

For the final 45 minutes of church I couldn’t pay attention to the lesson. I kept thinking about my church friend at the end of the row, staring blankly, trying not to think. I knew this person was hurting but I still felt vulnerable around her. I wanted to hug her and talk to her about her loss. She had to keep it together so that she wouldn’t fall apart in front of the class.

It wasn’t until after the closing prayer that a few women gathered around her to offer hugs while mournful tears streamed down her face.

I didn’t get to talk to her.

About an hour later back at home, I received a text from this lady. She thanked me for my concern. She said she couldn’t talk before the meeting because she was conducting and didn’t want cry in front of everybody. I told her that I understood and again I was very sorry.

She said that her cousin was found outside the day before, frozen to death.

I gasped then cried when I read this.

People die because of the weather probably more often than we are aware. Pets, too. Heatstroke. Hypothermia.

Since hearing about this incident, whenever I go on Facebook and see people who live in warmer climates poking fun at people who live where it snows or freezes over, it makes me sad.

When the polar vortex hit, all I could do was hope that everyone found a warm place to wait it out. Even the poor souls who have never before experienced weather sub-30 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially those people who watched from their yards the mercury plunge ever deeper below zero.

This lady from church is originally from Arizona, where I know she’d rather be during the wintertime. I wonder when she sees those teasing Facebook posts to actual people who live in snow and ice and constant frigidity, if she says to herself that she can’t be mad at them; they don’t know her. They don’t know she has a cousin who died in the conditions they’re making fun of. They don’t know they’re being insensitive. They may even have experience with cold weather, but it’s hard not to imagine their attitude that they’re superior because they’re warmer. I wonder if it’s even crossed their minds, a loved one dying in extreme weather. Do they know what it’s like?

This lady at church? She knows.

My People from the Land of My Birth

This morning I looked at my newsfeed and out of over 120 articles, 20 of them were about damage or relief or something about the typhoon that struck the Philippines.

headlines

I’ve been thinking about my mom’s family who still live there. Because they’re my mom’s family, they’re also my family, even though I haven’t met very many of them. Aunts, uncles, cousins. I’ve been worrying the past few days if everyone is okay.

The LDS Church issued a statement that all its missionaries serving in the Philippines are accounted for. Definitely good news.

But I’ve been thinking more about the 10,000 or so who are missing or did not survive. This morning I called my mom and asked if she heard anything about her family. Mom lives in Florida, but she spoke with a cousin who keeps in touch more often with our relatives in the Philippines. Mom said that everyone is fine; they live in a more northwestern part and the typhoon did most of its damage in another part of the country.

map

Mom said she’s sure her family got a lot of wind and rain, since the typhoon was as big as or bigger than the country itself, but she’s relieved that her family are safe. I’m relieved, too.

One of the things I found encouraging about the headlines above is the clarion call to the world to get moving and help the Filipino citizens. Times like this remind us that we know how to reach out and be good people. These times motivate us to think about humanity and nudge our hearts to beat again, three times bigger.

If I could fly over there and start separating debris and hugging people, I would. I’ll have to find another way. Find your favorite organization, and see what you can do to help.

Keep praying.

Manalangin para sa Pilipinas.

Butter Makes Everything Not Related to Racism Better

We look at the menu, but we both order the buffet. This buffet isn’t like Golden Corral with its vast selection of mediocre food; the heated food island at Lady & Sons carries fewer items cooked to perfection. Workers from the kitchen are constantly replacing empty trays with hot full ones with aromatic food vapors rising from them. All the food represents true Southern cooking: barbecue pork, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, black-eyed peas, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, caramelized sweet potatoes. We want to try everything, but we also want to pace ourselves.

Reilly returns from the buffet with a fully loaded plate. We made a reservation that day before, because Lady & Sons often has long lines. Savannah charms with its old houses and trees dressed in Spanish moss, with branches sprawling toward the sky. The town sits along a river with the same name. We had been observing the sauntering citizens and anxious tourists during our walk to the restaurant. It is nice to sit down, and we are starving.

Southern cookin'

Everything I try is delicious. Reilly and I go back for a second plate, and we know early on that we’re almost done. The food tastes so good, but we don’t know if our stomachs have any more space. We start to slow down, but we still want to experience all the textures and tastes on our plates.

We have been on vacation for almost a week; we have been indulging for nearly every meal. Our stomachs should have been sufficiently stretched for a good buffet. But I have gotten to the point where I can barely lift my fork, and all I want to do is put my head down on the table or lie on the floor and wait for someone to step on my stomach and make me barf.

At first, I don’t understand why I got so full that quickly, but then it hits me: butter. If you know Paula Deen’s style of cooking, you know that she uses butter in everything. I tasted it in all the food on my plate. Butter makes everything delicious, but it also coats everything. It adds an invisible layer that makes you think you can eat more than your stomach can hold. The next time we eat at a restaurant like Paula Deen’s, I have to remember that food prepared with butter triples the volume of food without butter.

And then there is dessert. I take a tiny taste of the peach cobbler and the banana pudding, and then I’m done. I’m beyond done. I have packed my digestive system to nearly bursting. We take a few pictures outside and shuffle to a nearby square to recuperate and for Reilly to ask John Wesley for forgiveness for eating too much.

Lucky to lift the camera to take this picture.

Forgive us for eating too much, sir.

Sometime in the weeks after we return from Savannah, we hear news of a lawsuit. Headlines are everywhere. There are sexual harassment charges. There is a deposition with racial slurs.  There is vilification and a crumbling empire.

I feel bad for Paula Deen. She built her company from virtually nothing. She’s best known for cooking everything with butter and she was even coming out with her own brand of butter. She’s tackled her diabetes gracefully in the public, and she has all but completely disarmed America with her thick Southern accent, her strong personality, and her delicious food.

It’s a shame that instead of presenting a mighty dynasty before us, she has now reminded us that racism is alive and well in today’s society. It may be that she testified to saying certain things decades ago, and we may argue that because she said those things a long time ago doesn’t mean she’s racist now. And we can’t necessarily know Ms. Deen’s thoughts from moment to moment.

Yet, the instant that people reacted to Paula Deen’s statements or the media’s treatment of her is when the story became bigger than the icon. Racism is bigger than Paula Deen and her apologists.

A few days ago, I read this blog post that uses deposition excerpts to explain how a lot of reactionaries still hold on to a racist mentality. The author makes a good argument for a civil conversation. Like Ms. Deen’s butter-style of cooking, many of her defenders coat current racism in slippery justification that seems more appealing and more palatable. They ingest each dangerous illusion. Their guts fill quickly with these exquisite excuses, but they eat more. And more. Over time they become diabetic, and they lose circulation, then limbs, and ultimately, sight. They don’t see that Paula Deen has become the whipping boy for racism, and they’re going to keep saying and thinking racist thoughts as if it’s not the same.

Or maybe they’ll learn and improve themselves for a change. Maybe they can take an antacid or something and reduce the bloating and the blindness. Let’s hope.

Top 10 List for May’s 2012

I cannot believe this year. So much has happened, and I have only 56 entries to show for it. At least there are fewer blog posts to choose from for the annual countdown.

10. May: No one told me I’d eventually get to play against the BYU quarterback. I joined an intramural kickball team, and tonight was our first game.

9. July: Smartphone apps have a tiny dear place in my heart.  I looked around to see that I wasn’t the only one crying. I loved it.

8. July: This is the year I really got into hiking. And most of it during the season of a broken camera. Thank the Lord for making geology pretty.

7. August: Reilly’s birthday, and first time in New York City. We wondered about Glenn Close.

6. January: Careful to put ego-puffing somewhere in the middle. Being published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal would be a nice touch to my last semester.

5. September: The Oklahoma visit went along with going to NYC. Dad still finds happiness in little things. In simple things.

4. November: What an election year. I’m sorry to the friends I may have pissed off. But,  I spent maybe at least 5 minutes voting/playing with the fancy machine.

3. October: Recap of April’s commencement ceremony. I only slept because my friends who sat by me made me so very comfortable.

2.5. April: Full of transitions and excitement and bending rules for lists of 10.  The past four days have knocked me squarely on my rear. Three flights, up and down, up and down. My things, my books. His things, his books.

2. December: Can we distinguish the source of our tears in December? We talk about future names, but what is the name of our future?

1. June: Well, duh. Mindblowing. Incredible. Fantastic. Amazing. This.

This list doesn’t even include events like Christmas and wedding showers and getting jobs. It’s true that I am often vague in my blog posts, but know that these top 10 entries include the top people in my life. You’re always in my thoughts and prayers. You’ve done so much for my happiness and helped me to become a decent person. Thank you for your support. Thank you especially for your friendship and kindness and generosity, which I know will carry over into the new year and our upcoming and continued lives together.

I wish you all the blessings and happiness you deserve. Nothing less.