Sharing News

One of my favorite things in the world is to be happy for other people. I love to hear of your good news. If I’ve been to your wedding, my overwhelming happiness for you spills through abundant tears. If you’ve told me about a promotion, a new pet, good grades, a book deal or publication, I’ve cheered for you. I will listen to you all day about your process, your goals, the roller coaster of emotions as you worked hard. I will hold your new baby or see your name in print or go to your concerts and be excited for your life and proud to be your friend. I will do my best to imagine myself in your situation, to understand your delight, your elation. Mostly I will be happy for you simply because you are so happy.

On the other hand, I’ve also been a sym/empath for many of your sadnesses and struggles. I have friends who still wait for the right person to marry. A woman in my ward has experienced eight miscarriages. Others who are dear to me experience difficult trials of infertility and have even faced devastating challenges within the adoption system. These are friends who have lived well and achieved much; friends with kind hearts and truly righteous desires. It’s hard not to ask, “What gives?”

I have wept for friends who have lost pets and loved ones. On my honeymoon, I received a text that a friend’s rabbit had died. Not long after, I received another text saying that a friend’s little dog had to be put to sleep. Most recently, a friend whose dog I had known for ten years also had to be put down. I cried for them all.

Sometimes people my misinterpret my crying. Once I was at a friend’s wedding where the couple gave hugs to the attendants after the ceremony. I was single in my 30s at the time, which is nothing to be ashamed of. When it was my turn to hug the couple, the new wife looked at me after I congratulated her and told her how happy I was for her and told me that I would find someone. While it was nice of her to think outside of her happiness in that moment, I sensed the assumption that I was not happy as a single person. It felt like they felt that I was miserable, which wasn’t the case at all.

Within the past decade, I observed a situation where a friend was telling another friend about her first truly viable pregnancy. She had experienced several miscarriages and was excited that her most recent pregnancy had gotten past the point of her previous miscarriages. The friend with whom she shared this news was having trouble getting pregnant, and she felt hurt that this friend would dangle the good news of a pregnancy in her painful void.

People are definitely entitled to their space to grieve. They need time to process, and one of the greatest efforts I’ve made in my life is to understand the sadness and sorrow of friends, family, and people in general. Because I respect and deeply love them, I want to show my support in the best way. I have observed people (myself among them) offering condescending advice and platitudes that, while well-intentioned, do not help.

Do I offer perfect advice all the time? Hardly. Have I been insensitive to others’ situations? Often. Too many times I’ve commented on pregnancy or adoption or marriage or other touchy topics to friends, and those friends have gotten quiet, and I’ve realized too late that I said an immensely stupid thing. And then I try to apologize and they continue to withdraw and I don’t know what else to do or say. Maybe the timing was bad; maybe healing wasn’t complete. Maybe certain adversity is just hard, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t fully understand or make it better or say the right thing.

There are tons of people who aren’t married, or can’t have children, or have had other horrible things happen to them. Do we tell them to get over it already? We need to see that our experiences are unique to us, and there seems to be a fine line between offering advice that could apply to general, unknown masses, lessening the significance of the situation and encouraging the individual soul you deeply love. There also seems to be a balance between overcoddling and trusting in a friend’s faith and resilience.

A couple months ago, a friend’s family shared some wonderful news on Facebook. The love and support poured in from this family’s community, and the anticipation that came with this news thrilled everyone.

In the past month, this same family’s good news took a turn and became sad news. The same love and support rushed in and flooded this family’s life. It was truly touching but hardly a surprise. When these people commit to “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” they go whole hog. It’s one of the greatest blessings walking the earth with the rest of humanity.

So when I shared my good news this past Tuesday, I was especially grateful to those of you who took a moment from their adversity to show their support for me. Reilly and I are very excited for this new journey, and I debated for a while when would be a good time to make the announcement. Your examples of strength and faith have reminded me how to count blessings and find happiness amid even the darkest circumstances. You believe this; you live it. You share it. That means more than I can say.

Cute Friends and Live Music and STOP CHANGING THE DANG RULES WITHOUT TELLING ME

So, Thursday night. Decemberists. And being outside. And enjoying Decemberists. And being outside.

These are my two homies from the Senegal study abroad. I don't know if you can tell, but these ladies are very happy to be in America. Also they have excellent taste in music. Which explains why we're all at this concert. Seriously, these girls SAVED MY LIFE in Africa. I owe them big time.
I don't know why I choose to surround myself with crazy people. I like them--I like them a lot. The two girls on the right are sisters. The girl on the left is a former classmate, and a friend of the sister in the middle, and a co-novelist with the girl in the sunglasses from the previous photo. Small world. These girls like the Decemberists, too. The sisters even have an accordion to prove it.
This pretty much sums up my view for most of the concert. We moved from sitting on a sheet off to the side to weaving our way through the crowd toward the center. It definitely sounded better from where we were, but I'm pretty much doomed to smell armpits for the rest of my concert-watching career.

It was around this time that I tweeted the following, and a friend replied:

I really have accepted my fate. Sometimes I still wish, though.
So, I pretty much coveted the guy in the cherry picker the whole time. Can you see how thrilled he looks? Maybe he needed to use the bathroom or something. Maybe he wanted to see his wife and kids. But I cannot comprehend his not wanting to be at a Decemberists' concert. He's clearly not watching the concert. He has the best view! I wish I had an explanation.
Okay, occasionally I would catch fun glimpses of the band members. I listened hard to the instruments, and often I wished I could have been able to see the fiddler or the bassist or guitars riffing with each other. The band seemed pretty cool. They made fun of crowd surfers and they bossed us around quite well. Huge crowds are hard to contain sometimes with all the free admission and beer and pot. But the band did a bang-up job.

Speaking of pot, I tweeted this observation. The same friend replied and further confirmed my luckiness that he’s my friend:

So I texted Francis, and asked what he did to his keyboard. He replied, "Tea. I did 'tea' to my keyboard." I visualized this, and it was a pretty vivid image, most likely because the contact high was SO FREAKING STRONG.

We met a guy named Dennis who came with a friend. He introduced himself and extended his hand to shake, but we sort of brushed him off.

After the concert, we went to Denny’s, where our waiter was named Moe, which was short for Mohammed, and he sounded a lot like Barack Obama. Coincidence? I think not. He was a one-man show. Not only did he wait tables, he also was the cashier and he might have done all the cooking, too. And we spent a fair amount of time doing Barack Obama impressions on the way home.

What we also did? Acted high. But mostly we weren’t acting. Except we had to tone it down in Denny’s because undercover cops were also at the restaurant. It wasn’t possible to stop giggling, and I think we managed to order all the breakfast items on the menu. And half a sampler platter. Poor Moe.

Okay, so that was fun.

Yet, I have a small complaint.

Go to this website, and scroll down to the rules about food and beverages. Is it clear on whether one can or can’t bring food into the park? It doesn’t say we can’t bring food into the park. I brought food, and when we got to the entrance, I found out that food wasn’t allowed. And maybe I yelled, like, LOUD, and maybe no one cared, but come on, people, at least provide a clear policy on such things. I can go to a concert in Central Park, NYC, and they’ll have similar rules: no coolers, no glass containers, no outside alcohol. I can bring outside food; EVERYONE can bring outside food. They encourage it. Yes, I know that Pioneer Park isn’t Central Park. But Pioneer Park also doesn’t have to worry about the kind of attendance Central Park does. Pioneer Park should be able to handle food. I stood in line for an hour last month waiting to see Yo-Yo Ma with a book, a plastic bottle of water, and a Chipotle burrito. Free concert, even. Everyone knows what the rules are.

So, Twilight Concert Series people, don’t make like you’re Stephenie Meyer or the writers of Lost and change the rules whenever you feel like it. Or if you want to change the rules, make sure such changes are also on the website. It’s not a lot to ask.

But, thank you for bringing the Decemberists to Salt Lake City. For free.

This Is Not Really How I Want to Put This. Whatever.

The nostalgia is kind of intense.

I think about where I was in my life in my early to mid-20s.

I moved to New York City when I was 26 years old. A lot can happen in 26 years. A lot has happened in the past 6 years.

I was no where as cool or healthy or stable back then.

Yes, that does mean I think of myself as cool(-er) and healthy(-ier) and stable(r) now. I mean, look at me. Spend some time with me. See for yourself. Also, I’m remarkably humbler.

These new friends I have have allowed me a second chance at my 20s. Not that everything about that time in my life was regrettable. I really liked my 20s for the most part. But living it with the perspective I have now is interesting. It has helped mold me into who I am. Which, like I said: cool, healthy, stable. I don’t know, I might be cuter, too.

What’s particularly impressive is that my new friends in their 20s are living with a similar perspective that took me years away from that decade to develop and value. They are so ahead of the game.

I think I’m all big and bad and can offer all sorts of wisdom because of the years behind me. (As if I’m all that old.) While everyone learns life’s lessons in different ways and at different times, you’re still so much better off making the right decisions in the first place.

But I think we’ll be all right if we just keep doing the best we can.

A little bit of proudness

One of my students spoke in church today, and one sang in the choir. It wasn’t the usual church meeting. It was for everyone in the entire stake. Since we don’t have a church building big enough to gather everyone, we broadcast the meeting to the different meetinghouses.

I get butterflies in front of a group of 12. And people express their nerves when they have to speak in front of a congregation of a couple hundred. But these kids, they got up in front of close to 2,000 people to preach and sing the word. They have a deep and true understanding of the gospel, and they glow. That’s the best I can describe them. I’m blessed to know them.

I spotted the speaker before church. We made eye contact, and she ran across the chapel and said, “Save me!” I gave her a hug and said she’ll do an awesome job. She then said she heard I’d make faces at her, and I asked her if she wanted me to make faces, and she said no, and she said she’d try not to look over at my part of the chapel. She laughs easily. For some reason, I relate pretty easily to this student, and she’s very helpful during class, and I’m glad she’s there to help keep me grounded.

I spotted the singer in the choir practicing before the meeting began. Composed, professional looking. I know first hand what a great voice she has. After the meeting I sought her out to give her a hug and tell her what an incredible job the choir did. And seriously, yes. Their fullness of sound, not just the volume, because they sustained richness and intensity even at pianissimo, was phenomenal. We then talked for a little bit about seminary and we got to know each other better personally. That’s definitely a big area of improvement in my life.

Anyway, I’m thrilled I get to support them in different parts of their lives. Church this past weekend inspired me and strengthened me and helped put life back into perspective. Church helped replenish and revive my faith, and now life doesn’t seem so insurmountable. It’s nothing short of an answer to prayer.

Thanks. Now I kinda feel like I’m glowing.

The Politics of Dancing, er, Dating

We were discussing an article from The Slate; it was around the time speculation about Hillary Clinton’s VP appointment had reached its peak, just after her concession. Mrs. Clinton was/is actively pursuing this position, and the article treated the situation similarly to that of a woman who wants a man’s attention and seeks it way too aggressively. Somewhere in our conversation, the guy I’m with states if a man wants a woman, he’ll go after her. He said something like nothing scares a guy away more than a super-assertive woman. I’ve heard this on several occasions, and it seems in my case, it’s true. I’ve been hyper-interested and hyper-expressed my feelings, and whatever interest a guy might have had in me immediately evaporated. Hyperly. It’s weird. The evening progressed, and we were really enjoying each other’s company. We talked about quite a few things; we shared personal stories, and while I didn’t want the night to end, I knew it had to. And I let it, because I’ve learned to be a slow-mover in my old age, and I’ve learned to hold back, because I’ve been burned a few times in the course of my life, but I’ve also learned it’s okay to be vulnerable, because how else are people supposed to get to know me? My learnings over the past 20 or so years conflicted and clashed, but now they get along and have interwoven quite nicely, and now I’m starting to get the hang of this dating thing. Now I’m this present and sweet and fun personality who happens to be a pretty tough cookie. Anyway, a couple of days later, I sent a thank-you email. Then about 10 days later, he called to invite me out to do something. Then he was out of town for a while, but I sent him another email just to check in. Nothing too long or involved, and he replied to my email. Then I left him alone, because I knew he was busy, and I got the impression he’s just as slow a mover as I am. Then three weeks later, he called to catch up. And then we caught up. Then the next day I sent him an email to invite him over for brownies. His response came via text message and past my bedtime and too late for him to drop by. I didn’t reply; I thought it would be pointless. Then he emailed to make sure I got his text and to ask about my week. Then I replied to his email. Then I don’t know what. Then I don’t know what. If this is pursuit, I’ll take it; I haven’t experienced anything remotely like it in a long time. I want him to like me. I want him to want me. I need him to need me. I’d love for him to love me. I’d beg him to beg me. You know. Thank you, Slate. Thank you, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. You’ve made my personal life a whole lot easier to handle.