Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Fluff

First, a little digression…

Today in my office, we are having a Christmas potluck, and it makes me bitter.

Why? Because we voted on whether or not we wanted a potluck for our Christmas party (a different event held last week) and we all decided against it because work potlucks are always a sucky hassle.

Nothing ever matches (you have green bean casserole and tamales), nothing’s at the right temperature (fruit salad is hot and little hot dogs are cold), and then no one ever cleans up after themselves so there’s drops of crap everywhere.

I HATE WORK POTLUCKS!

Hence (I don't think we use 'hence' enough), I was thrilled that we opted to go to a pizza place for our Christmas party instead. And then this week came, and people started saying “We should do something for Friday!” And soon, it spiraled out of control and we have ourselves a potluck. Ugh.

So, needless to say, I was bugged this morning that I had to get up at the crack of dawn to prepare meatballs (a special request from my boss, so what could I do).

And also, needless to say, I drove to work today irritated at everyone around me and bugged that I had to drive carefully so I didn’t have a meatball crock-pot incident.

So, you can imagine my anger when someone cut me off, making me slam on my brakes and causing a “swoosh” of sauce spillage.

The driver wasn’t even paying attention! He was leaning over into the passenger seat fiddling with something I couldn’t see. As I was getting ready to honk, and give him the evil eye, a little head pops up in the passenger seat: a little head wearing reindeer antlers clearly hand crafted for a school production!

And with that, my anger melted, a smile crept onto my face, and I felt like Ms. Scrooge McGrinch for ever having mean thoughts about anyone—even my co-workers who thought it would be fun to have a crappy potluck.

Okay, now on to some fluff!

Really, today should be called “In the News” because that’s what I’ve got.

First, did you hear about this? How does this even work? Is it just in name, only? Or are we going to have to get our passport stamped when we go to Nebraska? (wink, wink Knecht’s)

Second, I thought all of these were true! Didn’t you? And I don’t have to drink water! What? How is that possible?

Third, if only he had lived. Who knows what would have happened! Could you imagine going to the temple and seeing Elvis! “Sweet Land of Liberty” that would have been fantastic!!! And if you think it’s really all bunk, check this out. You can’t get more truth then from one of the Osmond’s, can you?

Well, there you go.

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas filled with people you love, and the Spirit of the season, namely, the Savior of us all!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Embarrassed Elizabeth Explains Everything (How's that for alliteration!)

Well, I have a confession to make. And I hope that once I do, you don’t think less of me and we can still be friends. Please, still be my friend!

Honestly, I wasn’t going to tell anyone, EVER, but I now realize that I kind of want to talk about it because it’s got me thinking (and you know how I am about that). So, despite my embarrassment (and a little shame), I’m going to tell you…

(deep breath) Here it is (sigh):

I’m reading a book I saw on Oprah!

There, I said it. (I'm a little shaken, but feel better getting it out.)

Now, let me add that the reason I’m embarrassed is not because I think Oprah has lousy taste (although some of her choices throw me for a loop). Truthfully, a lot of the books she’s had in her book club I’ve already read or had planned on reading.

It’s just that I hate going along with the masses. You know what I mean?

And I hate that people might see me reading a book she’s chosen (especially if it has the little “Oprah Book Club” emblem on it which I avoid like a sack of dead fermenting eels) and think that the only reason I’m reading it is because Oprah said so and I’m a mindless lemming.

Don’t get me wrong. Do I think it’s a good thing to get people all over the country, nay, the world (why limit Oprah’s power), reading?

Absolutely!

But am I afraid that some (i.e. a lot) might be reading it just because Oprah DID say so and they want to be a part of the “in” crowd?

Absolutely!

So this is all to say that never in my life have I read or thought of reading a book suggested by Oprah at the same time that everyone and their grandma is reading it, too.

But I am. So, there you go.

“Why, Liz, why?” you might be asking.

“Well, because of my big mouth, that’s why.”

You see, now that I’ve decided this coming year is going to be the “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” I’ve had to inform some people in my office that although I’m not “technically” enrolled in school, I’m planning on auditing a few writing classes this semester, so I’ll be re-arranging my schedule.

This has lead people to ask me “Huh?” which caused me to briefly explain my “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” plans.

And this caused a particular woman in my office to squeal (and I do mean squeal) “Oh, how exciting! This reminds me of a book I’m reading from Oprah.” At this, I should have feigned a seizure, but I wasn’t quick enough.

She went on to add “The author is going to be on Oprah today. I’m taping it, so I’ll bring it in so you can watch it tomorrow.” At this point, I should have said, well, anything to excuse myself. But, my mind went blank with horror because I realized I was trapped. I was going to have to watch it. (This co-worker would be deeply hurt and offended if I didn’t and I’m too nice a person to do that.)

Long story short (which I guess at this point is impossible), last week she taped it, brought it, I watched it, and got the book.

I’m consoling myself, slightly, because it’s not actually a book club book.

But, still, I’m embarrassed.

In the end (although I’m not completely done with it yet, but will be by the weekend), this book has given me a lot to think about. I don’t agree with the author on a number of things, but I’m always interested in how other people go about the journey of life, their search for higher meaning or purpose, and the way they connect to God.

“What’s the book?” you ask.


Part II coming next week, maybe, because it is Christmas, so I might be busy…

Monday, December 17, 2007

F.Y.I.

Did I tell you I adopted a child?

No?

Well, I did (sort of).

Here she is.



Her name is Lyka, she’s 7 and lives in the Philippines.

I adopted her from Children International after this organization came highly recommended from someone I trust.

I just wanted to do something more, you know. I mean, I pay my tithing and fast offerings, as well as contribute to the humanitarian fund, perpetual education fund, etc.

But, I’ve been looking for something else I could do. And since I don’t have any children of my own, I thought, why not help out a specific child whose cute picture I can look at!

And now I have little Lyka.

I’m telling you all this for one reason: In case you want to do it, too!

It’s less than a dollar a day.

So, think about it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Commute Contemplation, Part II

Read Part I.

You see, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. What does that mean, exactly? I’ll give you an example from my past: if I didn’t get an A on a paper, (even if it was an A- or B+) I felt like a failure. I might as well have received an F, because that’s how I felt. See, all or nothing.

That’s how I’ve looked at my life, and it’s a very unhealthy and depressing perspective—trust me.

What this means in the present (and what the little painter man taught me) is that although I can’t live my “ideal”, and can bring some of it into my “real.”

So, I’ve been asking myself:

What have I always wanted to be? Do?

How have I wanted to live, but haven’t because I thought/think it was/is impossible?

In the past when I've asked these questons, my stupid “all or nothing” thinking would bum me out because my ideal seemed like a pipe-dream and a waste of mental exertion.

But NO MORE!!

If I could live my ideal, I would be somewhere in Ireland, in a cute little cottage like this, and would be a full-time writer/ part-time university professor. That’s my ideal. And because it’s not very likely to happen (unless a wealthy Irish benefactor is reading this and thinks I’m fabulous), I haven’t even bothered attempting any part of the dream.

But that’s where I’ve been wrong.

So, what am I doing about it now? What part of my ideal am I carving into my mundanely real life?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:



1. I’ve decided to begin working with one of my professors on my poetry/short story portfolio this coming semester so that I can use it to apply to grad. schools for an M.F.A. in creative writing.

2. I’m going to create deadlines, charts, and programs for myself to keep on target. And tell others (i.e. you guys) about it so you will also help hold me accountable.

3. I’m going to get a new blog started that will be wholly dedicated to this effort. (I’ve done this, but haven’t posted anything yet. When I do, I’ll let you know (see #2).)

4. I’m going to start seriously revising poems to begin submitting them to literary journals.

5. I’m going to start a writing workshop group to help me. (Any takers?)

6. I’m going to begin attending readings and other writer-ish-type things to be inspired.


This is what I’m going to do in the New Year.

It’s going to be the “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™”

Will it be a success? I don’t know. But I’m tired of putting things off, being afraid of failing, and letting the only life I have slip away.

So, I’m now asking you, my friends, will you join me? Will you make this your “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” too?

What have you always wanted to do? Be? Think about it, and decide to set some goals to make it a part of your life! (And if you need some friendly support, drop me a comment and I’ll become a monkey on your back!)

And remember my new motto: Start painting even if you’re standing in mud!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Commute Contemplation

Each day as I drive home from work, I go through a ritual; I descend from the ideal to the real. Let me explain.

I work on a college campus. Though small, the campus has some very beautiful old buildings, and I just love the atmosphere! I love walking outside my office and seeing all the students rushing to their classes. I love hearing the bells toll the time in the clock tower, listening to the sounds of the fountains, absorbing all the flowers, trees, green grass, and walking by all the quaint houses that line Third Street. It’s wonderful!

At the end of my work day, I get into my car, leave the splendor of my little campus and begin traveling down Foothill (part of what was once Route 66—or still is, depending on who you ask). Foothill takes me through some of the Claremont Colleges and I love this part of my drive (except for the lowered speed limit). I love the craftsman-style homes, the beautiful school buildings (I’m a sucker for architecture if you haven’t already guessed.), and again, the overall atmosphere of a college campus.

But within a few minutes, I drive through all of this and into the other side of town. Here, I see hubcap shops, tattoo parlors, and dens of iniquity. There’s some kind of rock quarry, sections of just plain dirt, and nothing that I would describe as beautiful. This part of my commute is ugly, really really ugly.

I leave behind what is beautiful, and drive into what is barren. This has become a metaphor, if you will, for my life: The ideal and the real. And I take this physical and mental journey every day.

But yesterday, I saw something that made me look at things with new eyes. (Don’t you just love when something like that happens?) As I crossed over to the dark side of my drive, I saw a car pulled over, kind of catawampus, in front of one of the, aforementioned, sections of dirt. It was an old car, pretty beat up, and badly in need of a paint job. And it took me a few seconds before I saw the owner of the car, a few meters ahead, in the center of the dirt lot.

There he was surrounded by, well, nothing but mud, and he had set up an easel and was painting — not what was around him, but what he saw in the distance: the majestic snow-capped mountains. He was firmly situated in the “real,” but he was focused on something bigger, something greater than himself, something “ideal.”

Was he physically in the beauty of the mountains? No. But was he mentally? Yes. Did he let his actual situation rob him from appreciating all that this world holds? No. He saw something beautiful, pulled over his crappy car, hauled out his stuff, and began to capture it. The barren spot of dirt was a gift, and gave him an unobstructed view of the mountains!

After witnessing this last night (and almost pulling over to talk to him), I’ve been pondering on what he’s taught me. And I’ve been re-evaluating my life.


Stay tuned for Part II. (Not that this is exciting, or anything. It’s just that it’s going to be a long post, and I don’t know about you, but if I see a lengthy post, I tend to get overwhelmed and not bother reading it. Although, you can, of course, not bother anyway. Although, if you’ve read this far, then you have bothered, and I thank you!)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Fluff

Well, I’ve been meaning to post all week. You know how it is…

I’ve even started a number of posts about*:

1. The rest of Sister Beck’s speech and the dumb questions that followed
2. Witnessing the spirit work in my young women
3. Mitt Romney and how he’s affected my office life
4. My decision on Grad. School
5. Why I hate bean sprouts

But, by the time I sit down to type, I get about three sentences in and say, “Ah, who cares.” And I end up staring out my window in a stupor.

So, with that, here's something that caught my attention.

Don’t you wish things were this simple? You need God (or gods, as the case may be) to give you some advice or witness testimony on your life, so you just summons him/them!


Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I’m participating in a “write a poem a day” thing during the month of December. Each day you're given a specific prompt. I’d link to it, but, I’ve posted some REALLY crappy poems over there, and I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my nearest and dearest. (I know, like I already haven't. But still, these are really bad.)

Anyway, one of the prompts was one of my favorite Billy Collin’s poems. So, I’d thought I’d post the link to it here. This perfectly captures a big problem for me and my mind.



Until next time…




*I’m still working on these, (well, not the bean sprouts one) so stay tuned. Eventually I’ll get around to posting them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's a Miracle!

Well, after almost throwing in the towel 37 times, I did it, I finished my first NaNoWriMo novel and became a winner!

With a certificate and everything! (Which I will be happy to show you in all it's glory if you stop by my apartment.)



And let me tell you, it was hard work to keep writing, because not only was I exhausted most nights, but I also knew that just about every word was crap. (And that is hard on the ego.)

Yay for trite and terrible prose!

I mean, really, my last 20,000 words were worse than the first 30,000. And by the end there, I was just phoning it in.

In fact, here are a few plot devices I almost included in order to increase my word count:

1. Abbott (my heroine) would be abducted by aliens. And I, of course, would have to describe every experiment they tried on her.

2. Max and Sabine (Abbott's parents) would have a dream sequence which would include a HUGE dance number a' la "Brigadoon" that I would describe in all it's boring detail. They would then take this dance on the road.

3. Declan (Abbott's fella) would have led a life as an international spy (before he became a baker) and he would tell Abby all about it.

4. Abbott and Declan would get a call to leave Otterville in order to save the world from a black hole that is going to engulf our solar system.

If you think these are bad ideas, you should read what I actually ended up doing to push the plot forward (which you won't, because I will NEVER EVER let anyone EVER read it. EVER!)

But, in the end, I did it. I wrote 50,000 horrible words.

I think I'm going to have to retire my stupid imagination, now, until next November when I attempt this again.

Maybe by then, I'll actually come up with some good ideas.

Or, most likely, not.

Oh, well.

I get an "A" for effort though, right?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fluff!

Demotivation Day! Yay!

It could be because it’s a rainy Friday, but I found these posters addicting. Some are absolutely HILARIOUS! (And I love that they are all from a website called “Despair, Inc.” Isn’t that just fantastic? I’m so happy that we humans can laugh about such things.)

I think I’ve spent about an hour looking through the site, so be forewarned! You, too, might get obsessed.

Oh, how I wish I had my own office, and could decorate at will. I would plaster these babies all over to fill myself with happiness!

Here are some of my favorites (in case, unlike me, you actually feel like doing your job while you’re at work and don’t have the time to spend perusing the Demotivators):




When your best just isn't good enough.




You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and, statistically speaking, 99% of the shots you do.




You aren't being paid to believe in the power of your dreams.



It's best to avoid standing directly between a competitive jerk and his goals.



If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.




If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you're not alone. And yet you are alone. So very alone.




Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in your head for one more?"




If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.



With focus, dedication and steroids, men can achieve impossible dreams. Like breaking a world record. Or growing their own breasts.



When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.



Well, there you go! I hope you chuckled at a few of them, and if you have the time, you might also want to check out the DespairWear. My favorite shirt says “More people have read this shirt THAN YOUR BLOG.” Oh, how true it is!



I’m off to work! (after some repenting, that is, for wasting time…)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sister Beck…Again?

(Let me begin by apologizing for the excessive use of parentheticals in this post. This being the first of many. I don’t know what’s going on with me, and I’m too lazy to re-write it. I think I’m using them because I’m imagining you and me sitting together and talking about this. And where in my speaking voice you would be able to tell it’s “on the side”, you can’t tell in writing which is why I’ve put it in parentheses, so you know it’s “on the side”. But, at this point, whatever.)

Okay.

Just when I think I’m “over” the Sister Beck thing, something like this comes up and makes me revisit it.

(Perhaps, you noticed—or maybe you haven’t because you have better things to do with your life—that I’ve never posted on her G.C. talk. I was going to because I had issues with some of it, but in the end, I didn’t think it would serve a productive purpose, so I let it go.)

But, then I read "What Women Know". And the whole thing came to the forefront of my mind again. And, you know, (if you read my last post) that I’m tired of thinking. So, needless to say, I’m completely wiped out.

As I read through their declaration (Is that what you would call it?), I soon began categorizing their statements into four areas: 1) those I completely agree with, 2) those that I’m indifferent towards, 3) those I’m confused about (as to their relevancy, for example), and 4) those I completely disagree with.

All over the Mormon blog world, women (and men, of course) have been reacting to this website. Some in the negative and some in the positive. And as I’ve read through posts and comments about it, I’ve been struck by how adamant people are for one side or the other.

If you like the declaration, you see yourself as pro-women, and forward thinking in regards to the church, and you see those who disagree with you as mindless or misguided dolts.

If you hate the declaration, you see yourself as pro-gospel and in line with the prophet, and you see those who disagree with you as feminist weirdoes* or apostates.

(Now, of course, I’m just generalizing. I’m sure people on both sides would say that I was incorrect to lump everyone into this category. But, oh well.)

Me, I’m a middle-of-the-road kind of gal (and no, not a fence sitter).

I can appreciate these women for wanting to get off their chests what's bugging them and tell the world what they believe (I do that myself, hence, the blog), but I can also understand the people who think this was a dumb, fruitless waste of time (because it’s not like the church higher-ups are going to read it and say “We see the light!”).

But what struck me the most, and what I’ve been thinking about is not what they said, but the forum for which they said it: a website.

Why the need for such a public domain? Why the need for a cross-country (and even international) way to unite behind these ideas? Why did they think this was the best route? Was this the only way they could satisfy their souls?

It’s just interesting to me that instead of only talking amongst themselves, with friends and/or family members, with ward members, or with fellow LDS bloggers, they needed to put up a whole website for this purpose.

And what does this say about how our church works in regards to communication member to member, as well as, member to leader? Does it mean anything that they went to a website instead of some ecclesiastical leader (although, maybe they did that too)? Did they think it would be fruitless (or even dangerous) to talk with a Bishop/Stake President?

Hmm… see, these are the things I think about.

(By the way, did I ever tell you about what happened when I heard Sister Beck’s talk. (Or didn’t hear it, actually?) No? Okay, I’ll take you back to that fateful day...

Picture this, a mild October morning, circa 2007, I’ve just heard from another great brother, and I’m excited to finally get to hear from a sister, and the leader of all us women, no less. (It’s not that I don’t find the brethren uplifting, but really, only two sisters! Don’t we women represent a large chuck of the church? But, I digress…this is something I take to Heavenly Father.)

Sister Beck opens by summarizing the valiance of the stripling warriors, and how they declared that “Our mothers knew it.” And that’s when I knew Sister Beck’s talk was going to be about mothers, and so I said to myself, “Conference break! Time to bake those cinnamon rolls!” And promptly went to do so.

You can imagine my surprise, come Monday when I started checking my favorite blogs and saw the firestorm her words had created. Really, I think this is the most talked about conference talk in the last decade. Can any of you remember one that can top it?)


Now, back to the original topic of my post… wait…I can’t remember anymore.

So, I guess I'll end by saying that although I agreed with many of their ideas, the problem I had with their statement, overall, was that it sounded too political to me. And you know how bitter I am about politics, of late.

But, what did you think? Did anything make you say “Amen!” or “Huh?” or “You’re on the slippery slope to apostasy, ladies!”? Did you find the idea of a website interesting, like I did? Do you think we need a greater “saint to saint” form of communication? Or should we remain in our separated wards/stakes?**



P.S. Even though the whole Sister Beck thing has become like a song on the radio that initially you like hearing, but because they play it 27 times a day, you now think it stinks and reach for the closest object to puncture your eardrums every time it comes on, I still plan on finishing my series of Sister Beck Says So. She really said some interesting things towards the end of her talk.



* Does this word look right? I thought the plural for “weirdo” was “weirdos,” but my computer told me I was wrong. And seeing as the computer is all knowing, I went ahead with its suggestion, but “weirdoes” doesn’t look right to me. Any thoughts?


**And this in no way implies that you have to leave a comment. I hate when people do that. So, think of it as rhetorical or otherwise. I’m just glad you stopped by to pay me a visit!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tired...

"When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles."



You ever just feel tired of everything?

So tired that you don't even want to think? Can't think? Question if you'll ever think again?

So tired that you don't to do anything? Want to do anything? Can think of anything to do?

So tired that you can't even put your finger on why you're tired? Doesn't everything make you tired? Isn't everyone tired?


Well, that's how I'm feeling lately.

And actually, just attempting to articulate my tiredness-ness has made me realize something: It stems from mental exhaustion, and I really have no reason for it.

I'm not in school.

I can do my job with my eyes closed (and have done so on numerous occasions).

I have enough money.

Super family.

Amazing friends.



And yet...

Really, I think I'm just tired because I feel the winds of change coming my way.

So, I'm trying not to think about all the thinking I'm going to have to do when my life begins to go topsy-tervy, and this forced not thinking about thinking has wiped me out. Does that make any sense?

Put simply: I don't do well with change. I avoid it like the plague.

In fact, I'd rather get the plague then have my world change. Life would be so much simpler (and shorter) if I had the Black Death. Then I'd really have a reason to be tired!

But, alas, that's just wishful thinking.

Speaking of thinking, I'm off to take an avoidance nap...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Hiatus

A lot of family things are going on this week.

Happy ones, like getting together for Thanksgiving.

Sad ones, like my sister* in the hospital because she had a mass larger than a football removed (along with one of her ovaries).

So, I'm taking the week off from blogging.

I hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!!




*For those of you who know me (that is, most of you), it's my sister, Carolyn. She should be okay. The doctors are still running some tests, though. So, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fluff

I’m not really in a fluffly mood today. KROQ had an “Ask a Mormon” segment on their morning show today, and of course, they get a former Mormon to answer the questions.

So, if you didn’t hear it, you can imagine how it went: truths twisted, or delivered like we belong in a loony bin (which, I’ll admit, is easy to do with some of our beliefs), half-truths given as truths, folklore given as facts, etc.

Basically, the same crap we always get. I’ve already been asked about it by 2 co-workers.

Time for damage control!

I can understand why people focus on our more esoteric beliefs. They’re way more interesting then the everyday Sunday stuff. But still.

And, I don’t understand why people like Kevin and Bean*, or newspaper reporters, or anyone else not Mormon, think that asking a former Mormon is more objective then asking a current Mormon.

One doesn’t like it, the other does. Both are biased in some way. But people always assume the “one who got out” is the better candidate for insights.

Ugh. Oh well.

With that, let me give you something that isn’t exactly what I would consider “fluff,” but I’ve found it incredibly interesting. Read about "Mingering Mike" and be amazed by the power of a dream and what one teenager/young man will do to live it (real or not).

I can't imagine the time this guy spent on the records. Did you check out his art work? All that detail. Remarkable!


Well, I hope you have a fun weekend!

(I'll be working on my crappy novel, trying desperately to catch up. So, pray that my fingers don't cramp up and my mind comes up with something remotely interesting.)




* Rachel, now that Bean is your BFF, could you please speak to him about this? Maybe he could have you on the radio as a Mormon spokeswoman! That would be fantastic!!!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Sorrow: The Driver

I found out yesterday about this horrible accident that occurred in my home town on Tuesday night. You can read about it here.

Things like this happen all the time, I know.

It’s like two sides of a tragic coin:

The Driver: One minute, you’re driving along thinking about your day, maybe singing to a song on the radio, or talking to whomever is in your car, and the next minute…your life is forever altered.

The Victim: One minute, you’re walking/riding/skating along thinking about your day, maybe singing to a song on your Ipod, or talking to some friends, and the next minute…your life is gone.

Both the driver’s and victim’s families will never be the same.

EVER.

And I’ve been thinking about this, and wondering what I would do if I was in either situation.

But what has really been haunting me today is not if I was the victim, but if I was the driver.

What if I was the one to accidentally take a life?

How do you recover from something like that? Do you recover? Should you?

I’ve had deaths in my family, and they are always hard to adjust to. And I have marveled at the way the plan of salvation has brought comfort, and how the atonement has soothed my soul.

But, I have never thought on how these things (plan of salvation/atonement) would help not only if I suffered a loss, but if I caused one.

And this is what I’ve been pondering: What other layers of these principles have I not delved into because I’ve not thought about it before?

I feel this question is something we have to ask about every aspect of the gospel. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive, right? That’s why we keep going over the same things in church. It’s to help us ask deeper questions, not to think “This is boring. I’ve heard this a million times!”

The questions “How would I turn to the atonement? How would the Savior heal me and my family? How would the plan of salvation help me? How would these principles help the family of the one that I’ve killed? How would I help them know of these precepts?” kept running through my mind last night. And I’ve felt a deep sorrow today.

You see, I know the driver of the car in this accident. I know his wife who was sitting next to him while they were on their way to help an elderly woman in their ward. I’ve known their family my whole life. They’re good people. Helpful people. Kind people.

And my heart is breaking for them, just as my heart rends for the family who lost their son. And it is times like this that I am grateful to know what I know and believe what I believe.

Without an understanding of the plan of salvation, how could this be rectified?

Without belief in Christ, where would I turn?

If I was the driver, how would I find peace in the gospel?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Random Sampling

I've only been at work for 2 hours, and I'm having one of those days... we've all had them.

So, here’s some stuff that I've been thinking about lately.

It's all over the place, I know.

Welcome to my mind.

(I apologize in advance…)


-----------------

When I saw this picture, I was once again impressed by the power of the human spirit. So, the next time you complain that your job is hard, just remember this:




Turkish women struggle with heavy burdens as they walk to their homes in Sirnak province near the border with Iraq.

----------------

Dear People at Yoplait,

What is going on with the seed quantity in your Light Red Raspberry yogurt?

It has gotten out of control! I took two bites and almost got lock-jaw from the unexpected crunchiness.

You should call it “Red Raspberry Seeds in a Yogurt Glaze” instead of just yogurt, because “yogurt” implies that there is more of a creamy consistency than a crunchy one.

I know they make seedless Raspberry jam. Maybe you could look into that.

Oh, and thanks for the chipped bicuspid.

Begrudgingly yours,
Liz

-----------------


I believe that everyone who can read should be memorizing their favorite poems. I try to memorize a new one every two to three weeks (depending on my time and its difficulty).

So, if you don't already do that, give it a try! It's a lot of fun. I just write the poem on a 3by5 card(s) and carry it around with me. Whenever I have a spare minute, I read through the lines.

It's quite simple actually, and a good use of time. (And a great way to impress people at cocktail parties. Although, I don't know if I've actually ever gone to an official cocktail party, but I assume that a recited poem would awe the cocktail party scene.)

This is the poem I'm currently memorizing:

being to timelessness as it’s to time,
love did no more begin than love will end;
where nothing is to breathe to stroll to swim
love is the air the ocean and the land

(do lovers suffer? all divinities
proudly descending put on deathful flesh:
are lovers glad? only their smallest joy’s
a universe emerging from a wish)

love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star

–do lovers love? why then to heaven with hell.
Whatever sages say and fools, all’s well.

(E. E. Cummings)

-----------------



Oh, and have you guys heard about this? Some people think it’s big news. Others don’t. Any thoughts?



Well, that's it. Hope you're having a better day than I am!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Fluff Part II

Now, I'm doing this to inspire all you writers, and future writers out there.

You think you can't write? You think all your stuff is trite and crap? You think you'd rather gouge out your eyes than read another stupid, horribly written story?

Well, you're not alone! Behold! For your inspiration (and condolences) I'm showing you the first 4 paragraphes of my totally unedited masterpiece which I have titled "Crap-terpiece".

Be prepared to have your bowels filled with mercy towards me (and my hopeless abilities) as you read...

When you have a first name like Abbott, old people think you're funny and young people think you’re weird. A normal person would realize this before cursing their child, a daughter no less, with such a name. But, I don’t come from normal people.

Hi, my name is Abbott Brinley, but I go by Abby, and I’m glad to make your acquaintance. I suppose I should be grateful that my last name isn’t Costello, right? Yes, that would be much worse. Oh, if you talk to my parents, they’ll tell you to call me Bott. But don’t. I mean it. Growing up with a name like Abbott really does something to your world view. Trust me on that. Although growing up in my family certainly didn’t help matters. It’s sort of the chicken and egg scenario, if you know what I mean.

Before you ask, yes, my parents were fans of Abbott and Costello. And no, I don’t know the “Who’s on First” routine. Really, I don’t. I’ve made it a point to not know it. Some would say that this is a terrible loss because that routine is such a classic. And that any well-informed person of American comedy duos should know about such things. But to those people I say, so what? You don’t know what it was like being 9 or 13 or 17 or 30 with a name like Abbott.

I don’t want you to think that my name ruined my life, because that is not the case. I blame my ruined life squarely on the shoulders of my parents. I don’t want to sound cliché, but it’s all their fault. Now, of course, they don’t see it that way. In their minds, I was given lots of love, freedom, and “me” time. But I suppose before I start telling you about my current situation, and how I’m trying to get out of it, I should first tell you about my parents, Max and Sabine, and how they saw the world when I was growing up, and how that viewpoint has determined my life. And their story can’t be told without mentioning the place where it all started, and ended: Otterville, Ohio. This small town, with all it's quirky people, only made things worse for me and my future.



I'm know, I'm sorry I'm literate too...


(Normally I'd ask you to comment, you know, so I feel liked and all. But, in this case, please don't comment. I already feel bad enough...)

Friday Fluff

From around the world...

Sicily

In case any of you have thought about joining the mob, I thought I would pass along their version of the Ten Commandments, so you can know what you’re getting yourself into.

And if you still decide to join, make sure you tell Guido he still owes me ten bucks. I plan on collecting, unless he wants to swim with the fishes…

England

Not really that "fluffy", but interesting nonetheless. Did you know that there were still Titanic survivors?

Neither did I! Sad, only one left...

South Korea

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something like this shows up:

The world's first "toilet house" is unveiled in South Korea. Funds raised from renting the house will go towards providing sanitary toilets in developing countries.

Don't get me wrong, it's for a good purpose, but it's a strange house. I think I'd rather just pay money for toilets, but that's just me. I wonder if there's a toilet in every room?

Well, have a great weekend!

And if you have an idea for an odd house (or the weirdest house you've ever seen) drop me a line in the comments.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sister Beck Says So…Part III

You can read Part I and Part II here.

In these next three quotes from President Beck, she talks about some very heavy things, and I’ve been thinking on them a lot since last Saturday.

It’s not that they’re necessarily anything I haven’t heard before, but that they have been brought to my mind at a time when I’m going through some changes/challenges, and therefore, they seem new to me again (if that makes any sense).

But I suppose this is how it is with gospel principles: as you continue to progress (or at least strive too), truths of the gospel refine.

Right?

Now, on to the quotes:

“Remember we fought a war [in the pre-existence]. We were part of a great conflict and we decided whose side we were on. And we said ‘Sign me up! I’m in for the whole deal.’ So there has to come a point where the Lord says ‘Do you mean it?’” [chuckle, chuckle] “‘Are you really with me or are you against?’”

Ah, the pre-existence! One of my favorite LDS beliefs. It just makes so much sense, doesn’t it? And it also makes the creation of this world much more necessary to us (I believe) than to other religions. It also makes us more responsible for our lives (I believe) than is taught in other religions. We chose to come here for the good and the bad; we knew this ahead of time. We weren’t sent here just to get us ready to worship God for eternity (or burn in hell for doing a poor job). No, we were sent here to become like Him, literally.

The fact that we had the freedom of choice in the matter gives us more power in a sense: power over our pre-existent past (even if we can’t remember), power over our identity, and as a result, power over our lives. If you choose to put yourself in a dangerous situation, (e.g. earth-life) then you really can’t be a victim. Seeing yourself as a victim is a way to abdicate your power. And no member of the church, who really understands the happenings and implications of the pre-existence, can see him or herself as a victim.

Now, I’m not saying that people aren’t abused, hurt, victimized in this life. Of course this happens. But because of our understanding of the pre-existence and the Atonement (mostly this), we don’t have to see ourselves that way. We don’t have to believe the world’s view that because we were wronged, nothing is our fault; that we aren’t responsible for ourselves and our lives. We can claim and keep our power. No matter what!

Back to Pres. Beck:

“And so He said ‘I know how we’ll do this. I’ll send them to a world, and we’ll prove them’…And that’s what we’re doing. And we’ve heard a lot about the trials and troubles that come because we’re being proven. You don’t get proven when things are good. You get proven on all the waves and stormy times…”

Is your life tough right now? Good. It’s supposed to be. Get over it! You’re being proven, after all.

So many times we (mostly me) think that because we live the “true” gospel, believe in miracles, believe in blessings, and believe in a loving Heavenly Father and Savior, life should always be grand. We should always be spared. Miracles should always come our way. Or, at the very least, we should receive the answer we want from sincere prayer.

Consequently, we take it as a personal affront when life stinks.

“Why aren’t you saving me Lord? I pray, read my scriptures, do my V.T., yadda yadda yadda.” What we’re really saying is “I feel I’m holding to my end of the deal, so why aren’t you?”

Sometimes we (mostly me) think “I’m doing the best I can, so bless me already!” or “Aren’t you supposed to love me despite all my weaknesses? Send some miracles my way!” or, worst of all (and I know this from personal experience) “I don’t seem to be getting what I want in this life. This must mean you don’t love me (or don’t exist). Gospel, Shmospel! I’m outta here!”

But, what we have to remember is that we are here for EVERY reason we complain for being here!

This is it. This is life. And Sister Beck is right. The Lord asking us daily “Are you with me no matter what? Or, only if I bless you, your way?”


“So, therefore, what? Now what? You here being proven, now what? …I believe the first thing we do is we can’t forget; we have to remember. Every Sunday we come to sacrament meeting and we come for a reason, and that is, to remember. And to remember, we even renew our covenants every week that we’re going to remember. Initially, by about three hours after church we’re forgetting already.” [chuckle, chuckle] “Isn’t that right? I mean, the hardest commandment we keep is to remember. Always remember.”

Don’t you just love this? I thought her statement that “the hardest commandment we keep is to remember” was so true! Here, President Beck is referring to remembering the Savior. But later, she mentions remembering who we are (which I’ll talk about in Part IV).

And, although I’ve thought about it before, it is interesting to ponder on the fact that we covenant to remember. This places A LOT of importance on remembering! Personally, I forget all the time. I even put a sign on my computer that says “Always Remember” because I never do.

Now, take a moment and think about the ways you remember. I think we all have similar ones (e.g. reading the scriptures, praying, partaking of the sacrament, etc.), but I’m interested in the ways you might remember that are different. Make a comment, if you want, about your unique way.

I can use all the help I can get.



Stay tuned for Part IV…

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sister Beck Says So…Part II

Part I can be found here.

To begin, I want to set the scene:

The theme for this event was “Sometimes He Lets It Rain.” And Katherine Nelson (LDS singer/song-writer) was the first speaker/(singer). She did a bang-up job and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then the remainder of the time (about an hour) was turned over to President Beck.

Before I go to specific quotes, I want to give you my over-all opinion of her, and say that I was greatly impressed. She spoke directly (no saccharin tone), intelligently, and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was VERY personable, down-to-earth, and approachable. On the whole, I agreed with everything she said. (I had a few minor issues, but we’ll talk about those as they come up in her talk.) And I expect everyone who was there to remark on how they understood her comments. We all see things differently, after all, and that’s how we learn and grow. So, please share.

One of the first things she mentioned was that she had read a book on Abigail Adams. Pres. Beck then related a story from the book that I’m going to paraphrase. Abigail Adams recounted a time when she sailed to England to visit her husband. And on the journey she got incredibly sea-sick, so much so, that she prayed that the seas would be calm. And a few days later, they were, and they ended up sitting in the middle of the ocean for two weeks, in the hot sun, going nowhere. And Abigail said “bring on the storms.” From this experience Abigail learned that in the calm times you don’t get anywhere. And in her soul she realized that you need the turbulent times to grow.

I thought this was a good opening and story. And very true, of course. (Actually, I wasn’t going to include it, but it directly connects to the next thing President Beck said, and that was something I wanted to talk about.)

After sharing this, President Beck had everyone open their scriptures to Abraham 3:22 and gave us the “noble and great ones” speech.

Maybe it’s just my cynical perspective, but I always take issue with this when it is used by our leaders. It bugs me for two reasons:

1.) Are we really to believe this? Every member of the church born after a certain date is “noble and great”? Really? I find that hard to believe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know (and have known) some people whom I would consider “noble and great” and in that case, I whole-heartedly agree. I guess my main issue is that it's always used to imply that we, LDS members, are the "noble and great ones" and are the "leaders" of the world. But does this apply to every member? I just don’t believe that.

Maybe you do, and that’s okay. But for me, to apply this statement so that it reflects an LDS = leader conotation cheapens it. And I certainly don’t think the “noble and great” label applies only to members of the church (and I’m sure you don’t either). Do I think we all have the potential to do something noble and/or great? I suppose so, but that doesn’t make us noble or great. (At least not in the leader sense, but I do think we're noble and great in another way which I'll mention at the end of this post.)

2.) What about everyone born before the gospel was restored? Were there really only a few “noble and great ones” and all the rest were just “average and okay”? That just doesn’t sit well with me. That means we all were created unequal, and that some of us had no chance. Now, I know we all have different skill sets and talents, but it’s hard for me to believe that some of us were created better than others right out of the box.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Liz, we had eons of time in the pre-existence to grow and prove ourselves to be noble and great. We weren’t created that way, we became that way through our choices.” Okay, I can see that, and I believe that’s a possibility. But if you read Abraham 3:22 it says “…intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones…” To me, this says that as Heavenly Father organized the intelligences, (notice He didn’t say His children, as if, we weren’t children/people yet) some of them were superior. Maybe that’s true, some were just better. Or maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about which is highly likely. But, either way, it just kind of bugs me a little. Poor ‘ole average dead people.

Now, maybe you’re also saying “Liz, lighten up. They only say things like that so we feel valued and try harder to fulfill our duties.” I think that’s true, too. It’s nice to feel important and that what you’re doing has eternal value (and I’m not saying I don’t believe that, because I do). I’m just saying it’s not my favorite thing when leaders use this to pat us on the back. But, that’s just me. (And if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I have issues.)

Okay, now back to President Beck:

“You may wonder sometimes if you’re the best the Lord has… and if you’re feeling bad about yourself, think about Him. He has to deal with us!” [chuckle, chuckle*]

“I look at myself in the mirror in the morning and think: Is this the Relief Society President? Oh boy, are we in trouble!” [chuckle, chuckle] “If that’s the best there is to be the Relief Society President, ooohhh boy, are we in trouble!” [chuckle , chuckle] “And then I pray hard and get up and work hard because I don’t know anyway else to get through it.”

(I appreciated that she said this. I told you she was funny and down-to-earth. And I completely agree with her.)

“Oftentimes I think we look at ourselves that way ‘Is this the best the Lord has to deal with this? Oh, are we in trouble.’ But, we know from the Lord’s own words that He considers us to be noble and great. And that’s His picture of us.”

I believe her on this in a way (not contradicting what I said earlier). Does the Lord really see me and you as “noble and great”? I think so. He died for us, after all. And not just for Mormons, or leaders, or any other category of person. But for everyone. So, I think He sees all people as "noble and great ones".

At least I hope He does.



* I like writing “chuckle, chuckle” instead of “laughter from the audience” because it’s more fun (at least to my simple mind).


Tune in tomorrow for Part III…

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sister Beck Says So...Part I

Some of you (i.e. those who live by me) know that Sister Beck came to speak at a four Stake Relief Society event.

I thought (i.e. heard through rumors) that she was going to speak about all the kafuffle that took place after her General Conference talk, so I, of course, HAD to be there.

This meant that I had to wake up early on a Saturday, put on my Sunday best, and trundle over to another cities Stake center—not my favorite thing to do on a Saturday when I’ve had an exhausting week of injured parents and novel writing.

But, nevertheless, I went, reporter hat in tow (and tape recorder in purse). I felt it was my duty to catch the scoop so I could inform all my other blog readers who don’t live by me (i.e. the five of you) of the happenings. And also, not living in Utah, and not going to many events in Utah, I realized this may be the only time I ever see a General Relief Society President in person, and that’s something to tell my posterity (i.e. nieces and nephew (since I’m a spinster)) about.

I thought what I would do (because I don’t have time to transcribe the whole thing, and I don’t know if that’s legal anyway) is give the highlights, you know, the quotes that really stuck out to me: Things that I loved, things that made me think, and things that made me go “huh?”

Before I begin, let me add two things:

1.) I was sadly disappointed when I found out that she wasn’t there to talk about the reaction she received from her Gen. Conf. talk. Her attendance at this event was planned months ago, and she was just going to speak on the topic. (Ah, shucks.) It turned out to still be well worth it, though.

2.) I was greatly pleased that she opened up the last 10 minutes or so to questions from the audience. That’s a brave thing to do as you can get excessively crying sisters who can’t gain composure, completely confused sisters asking the dumbest questions on the planet, and nut-jobs. (Can I call my fellow sisters in the gospel nut-jobs? No, because it’s not Christ-like? Okay, disregard.) I will speak on some of these questions later.


Tune in tomorrow for Part II…

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Friday Fluff (a little early)


(I’m posting this today because I won’t be able to tomorrow.)

So, I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was doing this, you know, to stave off abject failure and humiliation. But then as I was reading about it more on the various forums, I was told that I’m supposed to USE possible failure and humiliation as a motivational tool.

With that being said, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for the initiated.

I’m introducing this on my Friday Fluff post because, well, everything I’ve written so far is fluff—and crap—don’t forget the crap.

I’ve met my 1700 words a day quota so far (meaning, day 1), and let me tell you, it’s a challenge. I started yesterday with no characters, no plot, no ideas, and no hope. And now, 2000 words into it, I have 4 characters (with Abbott Brinley as the protagonist), a trite plot, a few stinky ideas, and still no hope. But, it’s progressing, sort of.

The funny thing about writing is that you just don’t know where your characters are going to turn up and what they are going to want to talk about. I thought I would write a story about a chunky girl on the hunt for love (you know, because I can relate) and I’ve ended up with a character who’s retelling her past living in a quirky town in Ohio and being raised by eccentric parents who live in a world of make believe!

Why did this happen? Who knows! I sure don’t. Let’s hope Abbott, does. (And, in case you’re wondering “Why is her name Abbott?” I don’t know that either. Isn’t imagination funny?)

Maybe you should think about giving this a try! And then we could commiserate together!
Addendum:
I now know why Abbott was named so. Her parents had a great love for Abbott and Costello, and always imagined themselves as a great comedy duo. When they were first married, they actually tried to revive the Vaudville scene. They were mildly successful in their small Ohio town (and even had a picture of themselves on the only billboard in the tri-county area).

A Thought on Men and Women: Part III

Read part 1 and part 2.

3. It’s a personal reaction to #1 and #2. No one wants to be pitied (“I wonder if every time we talk about our kids, Liz feels sad? Poor lonely Liz.”), and no one wants other people to feel awkward talking about certain topics around them (“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about our husbands since Liz doesn’t have one. Poor lonely Liz.”) And that’s what I feel happens, eventually.

And any time I try to tell people that I’m usually okay with not being married, I don’t think they believe me. Or, they think I’ve just “given up” or “lack faith.” And this irks me to no end.

Sure, there are some moments when I wonder what my kids would look like, or if any man would ever find the fact that I sometimes sing myself to sleep, endearing. But, over all, I’m fine. And this is why:

I believe in a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for my life.

I believe that the plan He has for my life is just as good and rewarding as the plan He has for those who get married.

I believe that my life is just as inspired and valued and divinely guide as those who are moms with children.

I believe that I am here to follow “the first and great commandment” which as we all know is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” as well as the second “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22: 37-39).

Marriage and family is ONE way to accomplish those commandments. It’s not the only way.

I have full faith that everything I need to learn in this life will be provided for me. If that includes a husband and children, then great! If not, then it wasn’t necessary for me at this time. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, I know I have to do my part in the marriage area. But that doesn’t include agonizing over it, and having a miserable life!

If you are a righteous person, keep all the covenants you’ve made, and generally do the best you can, then Earth Life will be the only time you’ll be single. Think about it! The freedom of it all is astounding, really. And I plan on enjoying it while I can!

I’m more than happy to wait on the Lord’s time for marriage and family. (After all, maybe that means that during the Millennium, I’ll get to marry a Scottish highlander who died in 1367, or a Civil war veteran, or an ancient Samurai warrior. That sounds much more exciting then marrying Ned from accounting, anyway. (Although, if Ned is my meant-to-be, then it will work out with him.(And, no, I don’t really know a Ned from accounting.)))

This, my friends, was basically what I told my V.T. companion and the sister we were visiting. They really seemed to understand that it’s not that I don’t like them; it’s not that I think THEY are boring, it’s just that we’re living different lives. Good lives, valuable lives, but different. And that’s okay.

“But, Liz,” you’re thinking, “you’ve talked a lot about women, but you haven’t said anything about men like you stated in the title of your post!”

Well, I told you that I was going to give some background AND a digression, didn’t I?

Here’s where the men part fit into our conversation:

After my long diatribe on the married/unmarried thing, I then told them that I would love to come to their girl night sometime (after all, I do like them) and that I frankly wouldn’t mind also popping over on one of their play dates (after all, I do like little children).

And that’s when I had this epiphany:

Single female (whom you met thru V.T.) wanting to come over to hug and play with your kids = good (Poor lonely single sister).

Single male (whom you met thru H. T.) wanting to come over to hug and play with your kids = creepy (Has someone talked to the Bishop?).

Yep, that was it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A thought on Men and Women: Part II

Continued from here.

She then went on the say that they really would love for me to come; that they wouldn’t mean to leave me out of the conversation, but that they would probably talk about those things; that she hoped if I came I would help steer the conversation to topics other than husbands and kids.

I appreciated her comments, and saw this as a window of opportunity to tell them exactly what I thought about the whole thing.

I then proceed to give them three reasons why I would probably never come to many (if any) of their girl nights:

1. I don’t think married women, and married women with children, realize how much their conversations focus on those aspects of their lives. Almost all of it does. Really, almost all. And this is perfectly natural, normal, and nice. It’s the way it should be. All of us unmarried, childless friends realize this and don’t mind listening because we LOVE our married friends and care about their lives. But, to a person who is not any of those things, and therefore, can’t really relate, it eventually becomes uninteresting if it’s the only topic being discussed. It’s like chatting with someone who has a hobby that consumes most of their time—if you don’t share that hobby, talking to them about it, and only it, is a sure fire way to create boredom (even if the person you’re talking to is a friend).

Now, of course, marriage/children are not equal to a hobby. Marriage and children have eternal value (and consequences) that collecting porcelain replicas of two-toed sloths do not. And because of this greater weight (eternally speaking), this leads to reason #2.

2. Whether it is intentional or not, single people are made to feel that what they are doing with their lives is a great way to use their time “until” they get married, but that it is not on par with BEING married and having children. Single lives are “in the meantime.”

Let me put it another way: It’s like those who are unmarried are still in school working towards their degree, and those who are married have finished school and actually have a career. The problem with this perspective is that it leads to condescension, patronization, and pity. And this is especially true in the world of Mormon women.

We, women, have the belief that our only goal is to be a wife and mother. That’s it. And so any other derivative is either wrong (like a woman who chose a career over family), or sad (like a woman who never had the opportunity for a family). And this viewpoint colors our conversations with one another.

(Now before you married friends of mine protest that you don’t find us singles “sad” or that our lives are incomplete, answer me this: If you could wave a magic wand and have all of your friends be happily married right now, would you? If you said, “yes,” then why? I’ll answer for you. Because being happily single is second best to being happily married. And that means if you’re single, you’re seen as living a runner-up life. It’s that simple.)

And this leads me to reason #3 which you’ll have to wait for tomorrow.


************** Stay tuned for Part III**************

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Thought on Men and Women

You know, and I know, that there are differences between men and women. Some natural, some cultural. I normally don’t think about it much (despite my feminist leanings). But, I had an interesting conversation while doing my visiting teaching last week that made me pause and reflect.

A little background first (and a little digression).

In regards to visiting teaching, I’m surrounded by young married couples with small children. This includes my V.T. companion as well as the three sisters we visit. I like all of them, and enjoy our monthly get togethers. They are great women, and are doing a wonderful job being wives and mothers.

But, I must admit, I find a lot of their conversation, well, boring.

While my fantastic (and I do mean, fantastic) companion is talking to them about husband-stuff and kid-things, I normally end up playing with their little ones (which I love). I occasionally chime in with some kind of positive head-nod. But, a lot of the time, I just observe the conversation while playing peek-a-boo.

I’m okay with this for the most part. I realize that they’re just in a different stage of life than I am, and that both ways are good and valid. And though I find a lot of what they discuss dull (which I'm sure goes both ways), I see the inherent value of it, and don’t mind listening at all.

In fact, I’ve learned a lot from their conversations. And this last week was no exception.

Now, if you know me, I’m very direct. I can broach any subject, no matter how awkward or painful, and do it in such a way that the person I’m talking to thanks me for telling them the truth. I do this with co-workers, friends, friends of friends, etc.

I can be blunt, but non-offensive. It’s a gift, really (and one that's mentioned in my Patriarchal blessing, by the way). And I had to employ it at my last V. T. assignment.

They were talking about having a girl’s night out (which they do, often) after our visit. And they invited me to join them. They always do. And I declined. I always do.

But this week, instead of just nodding their heads and saying something about my being busy, my partner asked me “why?” and then went on to postulate that it was because I wasn’t married and had no children, and, therefore, wouldn’t feel included.

I was surprised at her frankness. (Normally, I find that my fellow sisters in the gospel are ever so careful about what they say in regards to my spinster-ly childless status (aside from the occasional “Hang in there! Your special someone will come, eventually. Just have faith!”))


************** Stay tuned for Part II**************

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Fluffly Letters

As a pre-emptive disclaimer, this is a really long post. So, if you don’t have the time, just scan the boldfaced type and read the letter that applies to you.

Dear People from Countries who visited me once (for about 3 seconds) and have never come back,

Was it something I wrote? Or something I didn’t write?

Or was it that you don’t know English so you couldn’t read anything?

I know you probably came to me by mistake. But, how do I get you to come back? What were you looking for? I can accommodate, really, I can.

I just want you to like me. Please like me, people from Argentina, China, Mexico, Australia, and France.

Pretty please. If you come back to me, I’ll bake you something and send it to you.

I promise it will be delicious.

Your future BFF,

Liz

Dear People from Countries who visited me more than once but have never commented,

First, thank you for coming to see me.

Second, thank you for coming to see me again. And again.

I really appreciate it! You make me feel so international and fancy. I love you for that.

But, could I just ask you one favor? Please comment.

Just say, “Hey.” Or “Way to go.” Or even, “You stink. But I find myself continuing to visit you just to remind myself how much you stink which makes me grateful I’m me and not you.”

So, you from Canada, Spain, Italy, Austria, and United Arab Emirates, please comment something.

You know you want to.

Your new BFF,

Liz

Dear People from Countries who visit me weekly (or, in other words, Dear Person from Singapore),

I hope I don’t come off too strong, but let me just say that I love you. I really do.

You come to see me just about every week, and it makes my day when I see your IP address. You intrigue me, person from Singapore, and I’ve made up entire life stories about you.

Here are just a couple of them:

1. You are an old friend of mine who is now an Expat. You started a small convenience store somewhere in Singapore after you got stuck there with a student visa. You stumbled upon my blog and it reminds you of the good ‘old days we use to share at Levi Dickey elementary school. You’d love to comment on my blog, but are afraid that I’d then want to come to Singapore and be your assistant while I pursue my future career of travelogue writer (which you would be correct).

2. You are an international spy whose cover is that you’re a Singaporean high school student who dreams of coming to the States. To support that, you spend a lot of your time visiting stupid American blogs so you can seem “in the know”. What you don’t know, though, is that I’m not in the know, so what you think you know from what I know, you don’t. But, luckily, you’re a professional, and can kill a person with a thumb tack, so you don’t really care. It’s just all in the name of getting the job done.

As you can see, person from Singapore, I think about you a lot. So, if you can (and it won’t blow your cover) drop me a line.

Your American BFF,

Liz

Dear Majority of People who visit my Blog (meaning, People from the U.S.),

Thank you.

You are the bulk of my readership and you hale from Virginia to Louisiana to Montana and New Mexico, and many states in between.

I know I know some of you. You are my real friends, and I love you for visiting me (and try to always reciprocate). It’s one of my favorite things to know that you’re interested in what goes on in my day or in my head because I feel the same way about you!

But, I must say that I don’t know all of you (namely, those from the states I’ve mentioned). I love you just the same for coming to see me, but could you give me a clue as to why you stop by.

I only ask so that I can make sure that I don’t lose you. I don’t want to seem needy or anything, but I love thinking that I have gazillions of friends all over the United States who would love to have me pop over for a visit.

So, leave me a comment, people I don’t know (or don’t know I know), and I’ll reciprocate.

Your BFF,

Liz

Dear People from an Unknown Country,

I have a few theories as to why my stat tracker can’t identify where you’re from. Let me know which one is correct, okay?

First, you are actually “the Man” and are monitoring my blog in case you have to send a sniper to take me out if I divulge some unknown secret you had implanted into my head when I went for my vaccinations as a small child.

Second, you are from a little undiscovered island in the South Pacific and although you have internet service, and other modern conveniences, you have kept yourself hidden. The only contact you have with the outside world is through my blog (which is very sad).

Third, you are from the City of Enoch, and are hovering unseen somewhere over the earth. Because of your super righteousness, you can access the internet with your mind, and you like to amuse yourself by reading my blog and are stunned by the amount of time I waste on trivial things.

Fourth, you are part of the lost 10 tribes, and are in a dimensional shift that takes place in the Bermuda Triangle. You occasionally like to visit blogs, see what insanity we’re up to, and monitor when might be the right time to return. You have not read anything on my blog that indicates the world is ready for further enlightenment.

So, there you have it, people from an Unknown country. Am I close?

Not your BFF because you kind of freak me out,

Liz


Addendum:

Dear Person from Greece,

You visited my blog when I was posting this post, so I didn't mention you. But I don't want you to feel slighted.

So, hi. Please come back. I love all your anceint ruins.

Your Possible BFF,

Liz

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh no, not me!

Well, I’ve been tagged. Thanks, Rachel!

You think I would know myself well enough to come up with 6 facts/habits that I could post in response to this challenge. But, seriously, I’ve been stumped for hours now.

I almost considered making stuff up so I would seem more interesting, but then I realized that the 6 readers of my blog know me, and would know I was full of it.

So, I guess I’m just stuck with the actual facts and habits about the real me. Darn. Imaginary Liz is so much more fascinating.

1. When I was in high school, I was in an independent film called Grey in which I played White Girl #1 (until about 3 weeks into it when White Girl #2 pulled out). I then had the great opportunity to play White Girl #1 AND #2. This doubled my lines (to 4). And it gave me the last lines in the whole movie “You know what you get when you mix black and white, don’t you? Grey.” Yup. And I had to say it so many times and then hold a smile in just such a manner, that by the time I was done, my lips were shaking. Oh, good times! I wonder what ever happened to my ¼ cent royalties.

2. I won’t eat the skins of any potato I didn’t prepare myself. I don’t care who cooked it: fancy chef, great friend, loving grandma, or my mom. If I didn’t scrub it, I won’t eat it. I even have a special potato-scrubbing-only brush that I use. I don’t know why I’m like this. I can’t recall any specific childhood trauma connected to this (Dear Mom, Am I suppressing any horrifying potato catastrophe? Love, Liz). It’s just one of my things. So, if you invite me over and serve baked potatoes, don’t be offended when I leave the skin on my plate.

3. Pictures freak me out a little bit (not taking them, but looking at them later) because they trap time. It’s like I’m a native somewhere on an undiscovered island, and I think you’ve captured my soul when you show me a picture. I know, logically, that this is not the case. But still, it kind of weirds me out. And don’t get me started on videos.

4. I read multiple books at once. Currently, I’m reading 5 different books (but, I only put 3 on my blog reading list so I don’t appear indecisive). I need to mix it up on a daily basis. If I read only one book at a time, I get bored, and then I won’t finish it (especially if it has a predictable plot). That’s why I blend non-fiction with fiction, religious with secular. Oh, and my secret guilty reading pleasure: I love to read about reading. So, I read a lot of books about how to read, how professors read, how book critiques read, how not to read, what to read, who likes to read, etc. In fact, I’d almost like to read about reading more than reading something to read. Are you confused? Good, so am I.

5. I hate my hair. Always have. Well, maybe not always. I don’t think I cared much in my early days. But definitely since puberty when becoming a woman also meant that my hair became possessed with the “secret combination” of frizz. I blame the devil, really. And in the afterlife, if I have curly hair, then you know where I ended up…and you don't want to be there!

6. If I can’t fall asleep (which is often—stupid insomnia), I sing to myself. I have a whole repertoire of songs that I go through. Some church hymns, some Disney, some Karen Carpenter. It’s a kaleidoscope of tunes, really. I think this stems from my early childhood when my mom would go from room to room and sing to me and my siblings. I can remember hearing her in the distance, and knowing that soon she’d stand in my door way and lull me to sleep. Thanks, Mom! Oh, and speaking of sleep, I also have a special blanket (no, not a blankie) that I wrap around my head, sort of turban-like, except that it also has to go across my eyes and around my neck. Yes, it’s a complicated arrangement. And yes, I have a very good reason for it. And no, you will never see me do it.


Well, there you have it! Do you still want to be friends?

Oh, and I tag Gertrude, Florence, Bathsheba, Constance, Millicent, and Ethel.*



*Yes, I made these people up (well, I’m sure women by those names exist, I just don’t know any (But I wish I did. Those are some of my favorite names.)). Rachel took all my friends and already tagged them. And the few un-tagged friends will probably be tagged by the already tagged friends. So, since I couldn’t make up any facts about myself, I went with fake friends.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Saturday of Service

Things I got from volunteering at the Special Olympics (in descending order from best to worst):

1. An opportunity to serve my fellowman by clapping and cheering (which is really one of the best ways to serve) and to see how that made a difference on how fast they pedaled and how it made them smile. (Well, at least a few of them smiled. Most were in the zone, and couldn’t be bothered with public acknowledgements. But, we were okay with that.)

2. A chance to get to hang out with one of my silent beehives. She was a good sport when we informed her that she would be the runner-for-help if any of the riders went down, and made her climb the chain-link fence with a pompom in her mouth for a photo op, and she didn’t seem overly embarrassed by our cheers, such as “Ride, ride. Show us your backside.” (which was later changed to “Ride, ride. Show us your best side.” due to possible sexual harassment issues.) Hopefully she had a fun time, despite being stuck with us old ladies. (Dear Rachel and Liz, I owe you, big time. You both made the day so much more enjoyable! I’m planning a “thank you” dinner. We can coordinate the best night. Love, Liz)

3. A noose of fire and halo of agony due to being in the sun for 8 hours. I coined Sunday as “The day after the Sun said ‘Hey, I’m the boss around here.’” And it’s been embarrassing going to work this week (although I’m glad I had an altruistic excuse for the burn).


Things I did not get from volunteering at the Special Olympics (in descending order from sad to really, really sad):

1. The chance to hang out with the other young women from my ward. The older girls had specific assignments (unlike ours, which was “course monitor”) and my other beehive hooked up with some of her friends and went with them for most of the day.

2. The opportunity to place the medals on the winners. (We (Rachel, Allison, and I) were asked to initially, but then we were dismissed in favor of official S.O. people. Oh well.)

3. To take home the pompom that I had been using to vigorously cheer on the cyclists. I really wanted that pompom. Using a pompom for a whole day made me come to the conclusion that we should all have one with us “at all times, and in all things, and in all places” and when we see one of our fellow humans down on his or her luck, we should whip out our pompom and start cheering.

I know that would make me feel better! “Go, Liz, go! Forget about your fro!”

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Fluff*

Okay, so as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been working on what has now become a treatise on my views of women and the church in light of Sister Beck’s talk in General Conference.

Really, my post is out of control and will probably end up being 3 to 4 entries. I’m still tweaking it so that people have no misunderstandings about what I’m saying.

That will be coming your way starting next week.

But, to get you in the mood for lady issues, here’s some female related fluff*…

First, what do you see in this stereogram? Let me know in comments if you want. (I know, I hate these things too, but it relates to the topic.)




Second, How much of a feminist are you? Take this quiz to find out. (Usually I hate quizzes because they are inaccurate and/or stupid, but this one is useful just because it will get you thinking.)(Oh, and if you're wondering, I was 84% feminist.) (And for the sake of argument, let's just use a simple definition of feminist such as "one who supports equality between men and women" instead of the craziness the word is normally associated with now.)


*Now that I'm reading this post, it's not really that fluffy. Oh well. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Open Letter

Dear Office Mate,

You are killing me. I am actually dying inside sitting 8 feet away from you. If you look me in the eyes, you can see it happening.

Please stop immediately being the way you are so I can go back to just feeling sorry for you instead of figuring out ways to kill you and/or get you fired (you know, which ever would come first in the scenario). I wouldn’t do any of the things I fantasize about, because, you know, I’m trying to be Christ-like and all. But, you are driving me insane. (In fact, I could probably use insanity as my excuse in order to skip jail time).

I dread every day because I know you will be there crunching away, snapping your gum, saying the stupidest things (like “shapes can be hard”), raising your kids to be delinquents, and leaving your oozy food mess in the microwave.

And no, I don’t want to hear about your weekend, your dopey sister, your cat (regardless of what you bought him to wear), your crazy Ex whom you still give money to because he’s hot, your opinions on Britney Spears, or how you have a problem with your halter top.

I am only human. I have a breaking point.

And I have reached it today.

Angrily yours,

Liz

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Open Letter of High Importance


Dear Men Who Use the First Floor Unisex Bathroom,

SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY!!!

What are you guys doing in there? I mean, really. What in the world? I don’t know if you’ve heard the “born in a barn” expression before, but seriously, were you born in a barn and left with a mama pig? (Apologies to anyone actually born in a barn. I bet that’s a cool story. Do tell.)

Every time one of you guys leaves the bathroom, it’s like a stampede of cattle stormed through the place whose only mission was to find every piece of hygienic paper, shred it, and throw it on the ground.

You are grown men right? I mean, you have jobs, I know that much. And you seem to be competent in them. But your bathroom etiquette makes me wonder. Is it because you’re inherently lazy and assume someone is going to pick up after you? I bet that’s it, right? Yeah, that’s it.

What’s wrong with you?! Pick up after yourselves! Or, better yet, put things directly in the trash can. Stop trying to make a basket. You have to miss 9 out of 10 anyway. Face it, you stink at making baskets.

Speaking of stink…for the love of humanity (and everyone who has an office near the bathroom), get some help.

Gratefully (if you take my advice) or Disgruntledly (if you don’t),

Liz

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

International House of Conference


So, were you as pleased as I was that it seemed that every other talk and prayer was given by a speaker with an accent?

I thought it was fabulous and in the right direction!

Since we do have more members outside North America now, I think that General Conference, et al, will begin to reflect this. I hope that within the next 5 years, this becomes the norm. And I hope soon we will see either an African General Authority speak or an African-American G. A. speak.

Oh, and more women. There should be at least one female speaker every session, minimum. (But I’ll talk about this later).

Conference always gives me food for thought. And this weekend was no different. So many talks either struck a cord with me or made me think “What? I never thought of it that way.” Lots of doctrinal insights and lots of self-introspection (which is redundant, right? Yes, so it should just be introspection.).

And to summarize it all here would take too long and probably be boring. So, I’m going to slowly post on certain talks. You know, cause you don’t have me pontificating enough as it is. (wink, wink)

I think the first one will be on Sister Beck’s talk which has caused quite a lot of hoopla in the Mormon blog world. Some women felt hurt and well, crappy. And some felt like it was a call to arms, a rising of the bar, so to speak.

I have mixed emotions about it. So, you’ll have to stay tuned…

Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday Fluff

Well, I had a personal goal to post every day this week, and I did it! Yay!

So now, on to some fluff...

This is something I look forward to every year as we humans celebrate our best and brightest. Yes, friends, it's time for the annual Ig Nobel Prize. What's that you ask? Well, go here for the full history.

Or, here are some of this year's winners to help you figure it out yourself:

2007 Ig Nobel Winners

Medicine - Brain Witcombe, of Gloucestershire Royal NHS Foundation Trust, UK, and Dan Meyer for their probing work on the health consequences of swallowing a sword.

Physics - A US-Chile team who ironed out the problem of how sheets become wrinkled.

Linguistics - A University of Barcelona team for showing that rats are unable to tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and somebody speaking Dutch backwards.

Literature - Glenda Browne of Blue Mountains, Australia, for her study of the word "the", and how it can flummox those trying to put things into alphabetical order.

Economics - Kuo Cheng Hsieh of Taiwan for patenting a device that can catch bank robbers by dropping a net over them.


Let's give them a big round of applause, shall we. (clap, clap, cheer, clap, clap, cheer, clap!)


Now, to follow along with the theme of stupidness...

I know it’s annoying. Really annoying. But, isn’t there something else we could be doing with our time, and money, and researching skills than this? Seriously. It’s like people who study traffic just to say it happens when someone slows down to look at something which causes a chain reaction of other people slowing down. Well, duh!


And last, but not least. Here's something for you, Rachel. I was going to photo shop a Vegas outfit on him. But, who are we kidding. I could barely figure out how to post this picture. So, you’re going to have to use your imagination. He does have his Vegas glass on though, so that should help.



Well, that's it for this week's Friday Fluff. Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Words of Wisdom

An excerpt from The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom that has made me think about my own life and my relationship with Heavenly Father.


“Will you carry it [a bag] off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you.”



Just something to think about...