Friday Hodgepodge

Tears, people. And partial bafflement.

This morning a new post appeared on my reader from my friend Amy’s blog. On Fridays she tries to post a Special Needs Spotlight, but today she decided to feature a video about the beloved American gymnast who emancipated from her parents when she was 16, Dominique Moceanu. If you know Amy’s blog, you’ll have a deeper understanding of why she posted the video. It’s inspiring even outside of this context, but nonetheless, I’m grateful she shared this video:

Two books, by worthy prizewinners:

Yesterday I finished Blindness, by José Saramago. Toward the end of my commute to work I finished a particular heartbreaking scene and held back tears while making sure my fellow commuters didn’t see how distraught I was. On my commute home I read another scene that brought joyful tears to my eyes.

This morning I finished The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. She won the Newbery Medal in 2012. This book also made me cry, also because of sad and happy moments.

Excellent writing about important issues. Call to action and most definitely to contemplation.

I highly recommend both novels.

The other day I observed a conversation where one person said to the other,

I don’t know what your political leanings are, but there is one side that does whatever they want, and then there’s the other side with principles.

As I observed this conversation, I realized I was the other person, and the one person was talking to me. Approximately 67 trillion assumptions bounced around in my head, attracting and repelling each other until an image formed — like the kind with a magnet and iron shavings — of a big question mark. I didn’t say anything, because there were stray thoughts circling this question mark, trying to find a niche but also seeming to defy the magnetic force. In this defiance, these stray thoughts kept my brow from furrowing; they allowed me to have mercy on the one person’s soul. And if all I wanted to say was, “Huh?” I know that the one person’s “principles” would have tried to replace my metal shavings with shavings made of soap. Because the one person stands on a box of soap. Which is fine. I respect the one person’s opinion and I won’t treat the one person like less of a human being. This kind of understanding and regard is a principle the one person and I have in common. So we’re actually on the same side.

But we’re so, so not.

Friday Hodgepodge

I didn’t get home until late, so this post will be quite short. You’ll forgive me, I can tell.

Three things tonight, then I’m off to bed.

1. So, we were at In -N- Out this evening, and Reilly and I ordered our cheeseburgers “animal style.” I wondered if anyone has tried ordering their burgers “Gangnam Style.” What would that mean, exactly? Would you get your burger with a mini Psy doll? Would the song blare through the speakers and the cashiers do the famous dance? Could some try ordering this way and let me know how it goes?

2. Have I mentioned that my brother-in-law is in a band called Book on Tapeworm? They had a slumber party concert tonight, and it was awesome. They were also on a radio show called Radiowest. It’s cool hearing people you know on the radio. It’s especially cool hearing all of a personality in a voice: in sentences, in mumbles, in single syllables and hesitations. Listening to both shows was a lot of fun.

Seriously, though, buy their debut album. You won’t regret it. (And while you’re on that page, watch that awesome video again.)

And listen to yesterday’s radio show. They played live in the studio, and you won’t find much difference in sound with the recorded album. They’re that awesome.

3. I have not cried more reading any other blog than Miggy’s. (That’s her internet handle. The family members she writes about get nicknames, too.) Today’s post was incredibly touching. I attended the same LDS ward in NYC with the author for a couple of years. Not only is Miggy really creative and artsy (she makes her home decor, makes clothes, transforms cute shoes to even cuter shoes, paints, etc.), she’s also a very cool mom with a terrific perspective on life because of the experiences she’s been given. If you don’t end up regularly following the blog, at least read the one post. It made my day.

Churchery and Blogs I Read

It’s a little weird when someone you don’t know all that well approaches you and says that they’ve been reading your blog. Then they say something about your life that you know you didn’t tell them, which is pretty jarring until you realize that they read it on your blog.

You get to know people through their writing, and you feel a certain closeness to them. They recount experiences that you can relate to. They help you to remember that you’re not alone in this world. Even though you haven’t met them, even though you’re not friends, they understand that parts of life can be especially hard.

I faithfully follow the blogs of two people who have been married for 10 years. On Monday they announced through their blogs (here and here) that they are getting a divorce. Over the years their blogs have shown what a great couple these people are. They’ve expressed love and appreciation for each other, and they’ve written about how they support each other in situations where they have struggled with mental health.

They announced their separation a few months ago, and when they announced their divorce, I couldn’t help feeling a bit of sadness for them. It made me think back to my parents’ divorce, and I guess I felt like lending a little bit of support and sent Dooce an email. Here’s part of it:

I didn’t understand my parents’ divorce when it was happening. They announced their separation in 1997, during my junior year at BYU. Everything finalized sometime in 2002. My mom was an immigrant and worked a minimum-wage job, and my dad’s lawyer somehow convinced him to sue Mom for child support for my then teenage brother. Dad came out looking like the bad guy.

But Dad has always seemed like the bad guy. Navy man. Almost draconian in disciplining us. We were spanked (belts, switches, whatever he could get his hands on), we were afraid of speaking up or forming original thoughts or developing our identities. He never listened, and he was always right. So I guess he felt he didn’t have to listen. The more I thought about it, and the more I talked it through with a therapist, the clearer the reasons for the divorce became.

They say that sometimes divorce works out to everyone’s happiness. Mom has since remarried, and my mental health has greatly improved. But my brother has stopped talking to my heartbroken dad, who has recently developed dementia and now convalesces at a Veterans Affairs place in Oklahoma. (When the house emptied, he moved from my childhood home in Florida to live closer to his sister.) I say “but,” but maybe Dad has found a little soothing in his blurry moments, like white noise or static on a tv screen. And maybe his lucid moments–when he recognizes his sister, when he and I have a good phone conversation–provide a little peace, too.

I see my dad in a different light.

Dad’s dementia has been an interesting extension of my therapy, an added reason to forgive him for the physical, sexual, and mental abuse I received as a child. He never remembered the sexual abuse (two isolated incidents), and I’ve debated confronting him about it for so many years. But now he’ll never remember it again, so why should I keep clutching a hurt that’s healed? When my aunt called with the diagnosis, it was like the tide came in after 25 years, and the sand I was holding in my fists magically washed away. I could finally swim.

Not that the divorce caused Dad’s dementia: causation, correlation, blah-blah-blah. Yet the divorce did seem to allow other events to unfold. And everyone in my family has learned to take varying degrees of charge of their lives. The happiness has been hard to find sometimes, but it has been there for the finding.

Today in church we talked about forgiveness, and one of the points that people kept mentioning was that many people don’t even realize they’ve offended you. They don’t set out to hurt you, but somehow it seems easier to assume maliciousness, so that you can take the high road and forgive. Which seems silly. The most sensible thing is not to take offense in the first place, because you don’t know the lives of those who may have hurt you. The better thing is to try to be more understanding, because forgiveness sometimes is so unbelievably hard.

Then again, if an offense is committed and your feelings are truly hurt, the other people may need your forgiveness as much as you need to forgive. It depends on the situation, I guess. So maybe my point here is not to let the grudge fester. Don’t let your refusal/unwillingness to forgive hinder your ability to see and the best in people, to understand them, to see them in a different light. Forgiveness can bring out the best in us, which is what the Lord always sees.

The happiness is there.

I Might Skip A Little Bit of Work for This

It’s sort of crazy that Heather Armstrong and I live in the same state. I’ve been following her for quite a few years now. I met her and got her autograph when she came to New York to promote a compilation of essays from different bloggers about fathers.

But she’s the keynote speaker for a ribbon cutting of a new wing of the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning.

When I first started reading her blog, I found out about her Mormon upbringing, her graduation from BYU, and her politics. And I kept reading because everything was so well-written and her life after college was very interesting. I’ve truly enjoyed being able to see into parts of her life.

And instead of seeing her in person as just a famous blogger, it would be a great opportunity to hear her speak about mental health, which is a big reason why she’s a famous blogger.

Because mental health is important. And I’m interested in what she has to say.

Come along if you want to.

Blogs About Me, Not Really by Me.

There’s a primordial attempt at a New Year’s entry slurrying around in my brain. We’ll see if it’ll actually take shape.

In the meantime, read two stuffs from nice and awesome friends.

1. This was a lot of fun. I’m glad we could get together, but we shouldn’t let another 16 years pass before it happens again. Capiche? Happy New Year, old chum.

2. Amy is a nut. Since I can’t decide on a public identity, I was polling people for how my name should appear in print. Then I asked for help on a 50-word bio for the school literary journal that’s going to publish one of my stories.* She’s brilliant anyway, but this seals the deal.

*That’s a piece of good news that I had intended to share, but I wanted to wait until the journal went to press. Almost there.

What the What…

The other blog’s been active for all of two days and it’s getting heavier daily traffic than this one. You like the focus, eh? You like the character? Well, I guess I kind of like her, too. Sometimes I wish I could be her.

I registered for classes yesterday, and my beloved school wasted no time to tell me when tuition is due. Classes are going to be fun. I’m going to be reading and writing a lot.

The cold weather worries me a little bit. We’ve had a very mild winter, and I’m about to go where it freezes and snows and a fair amount of the student population don’t know how to drive in those conditions. I felt a lot safer in a walking culture.

Somebody just asked me if I missed New York City yet. I didn’t tell her that I’ve already wailed and rent my clothes. I have friends who will be there for the New Year. This is the first time in five years I won’t be there.

But, I will be in Provo. Bring out the noisemakers and confetti. Or, just take me skiing.

***

Happy Birthday, Sarah. Your age is double a prime number. And having seen you lately, I’d definitely say you’re doubly in your prime. Hope you had an amazing birthday.

Changes Here

I’m in my pajamas, and I am mostly wide awake.

I went for a run today, and it felt pretty good.

Mom took Jenny and me out to lunch today. That was fun.

The sky is falling. People came out of the woodwork to request my friendship on facebook.

I hung out with friends. It was a lovely evening and we walked around the St. Johns Town Center, and maybe I decided on the computer I’d like to have once I get the money.

 I had the tropical smoothie at the Cheesecake Factory.

Oh, I made a few alterations to the blogroll. I removed and added some links. I also fixed it so if you clicked on a link, it will open in a new window. Goodness knows I wouldn’t want you leaving this page completely. 🙂

I’m gchatting with a friend right now about a church speed dating activity that happened in NYC tonight. Sounded like it was pretty fun.

Now I’m suddenly sleepy. I’ll finish a book then hit the hay.