Archive | December 2009

And here I thought they were extinct!

I went shopping at Wal-Mart the other day.  Don’t judge me!  It’s the closest place to my house to buy food! Actually, no, the closest place to my house were I can buy food is the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop.  And while Krispy Kreme is delicious, you can only eat like 10 of them before you get sick to your stomach (not that I know from personal experience.  Um, yeah.) so they’d be kinda hard to live on.

Anyway, while I was shopping, I spotted something I hadn’t seen in perhaps 12 years–the stereotypical Mormon mom.

A quick note.  I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Not only am I a lifelong member, I actually made a conscious decision regarding my membership.  The gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Joseph Smith has kept me sane–well, sane-ish, and literally alive.  You will never hear me mock the church, its doctrine, or its leaders.

Mormon culture on the other hand, especially Utah Mormon culture, the crazy stuff we Mormons do that either has no relation to the gospel, or is only marginally connected, deserves to be mocked and I do so at every opportunity.

Anyway, back to this woman.  I recognized her for who she was right away.  She had the biggest bangs I’ve seen in over a decade, and the rest of her hair was pulled back into a tight French braid.  In fact, after spotting her hair, I had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t a polygamist. (She wasn’t.  Her clothes were boughten, and involved slacks.)  She spoke in a sweet, soft voice, and led a flock of children with names like Brigham, Eliza and Nephi.  Just looking at her, you knew that she made the best cookies on the block.

I spotted her, unsurprisingly, in the bakeware isle.  I immediately made a detour from my planned shopping route to examine her more closely.  I pulled my phone out and pretended to text, in hopes that I could get a picture,  but Abinadi spotted me eying his mom, and kept giving me the stink eye.

Moving on…

Seeing how it’s New Years Eve, I should probably post a list of resolutions and/or a retrospective of the year and/or decade, but we’re all sick of that, right?

For me, 2009 can be boiled down to: I lost my job, and have spent the last 6 months looking for a new one.  I gained a nephew, E. I fell in love with a man that I have no access to, and decided that being feminine isn’t as stupid as I previously though. I changed anti-depressants, and the world suddenly isn’t as bleak a place as all that, except when I can’t sleep.

As for resolutions, I don’t believe in them.  Rather, I believe that people make them, and give them an honest effort–for about 6 weeks.   I just don’t bother anymore.

I hope everybody has big, fun plans for tonight.  Personally, I plan on staying home and peeling a little dog off my face after she hears fireworks, and yelling at the other little dog when he barks at the revelry outside.

Anyway, here’s hoping that 2010 is better than 2009 was, and that the ’10s will be better than the ’00s.   It can’t really be worse can it?  Can it?

Blackbird

Over the past few months, it seems like the Beatles “Blackbird” has become my personal theme song.  I didn’t really intend for this to happen, but it seems to pop into my head whenever things seem to be bleakest.

I love the message, which, to me, anyway, is that no matter how dark the night, no one can keep you from singing.  And no matter how badly you hurt, you are the only one holding yourself back.  And, it doesn’t hurt that aves are my favorite class of animal.

What?  Doesn’t everyone have a favorite class of animal?

Anyway…

I’m still under the weather, so I’m not going to do a big post today.  Please, just enjoy the musical genius that is Paul McCartney.

Hello, hello…

Okay, I really need to stop referencing songs in my post titles.

I spent most of the day yesterday trying to figure out why I was so tired and sore.  Yes, I spent last week moving heavy furniture, chasing my three-year-old nephew G, running up and down stairs, and even did enough hiking to burn my lungs. (Although, I’m woefully out of shape, and even though my lungs were burning, my legs were not) And all those were days ago.

I did walk home from church on Sunday with bare legs, in temperatures cold enough that I could feel the beginnings of frostbite by the time I had gone the four blocks between the chapel and my parents house. That took me back–I hadn’t felt that since I came home from my mission– and I wondered if that caused some damage to the muscles in my legs.   I also unloaded my car when I got back to my house, carrying a heavy suitcase and a not-quite-so-heavy but more awkwardly shaped bag up two flights of stairs on two occasions.  But that shouldn’t have worn me out as much as it did, and nether of those activities would explain why my wrists and elbows hurt.

So, finally, at about 7pm last night, I’m sitting on the couch thinking about how tired and achy I am, and also how I have the chills, despite the thermostat being set at 75 degrees, and having the space heater running, and I wondered if I had a fever.  So, off to find the thermometer to check.  And there it is. 100.2.

Lets see: Low grade fever, fatigue and body aches.  Crap, I know this one.  That would be the flu.

The fun thing about being me when I get sick is a fever is ALWAYS accompanied by vertigo.  Right now, it feels like the sofa is trying to throw me off. The concrete stairs leading between my condo and the part of the world that I’m willing to let the dogs pee on became a whole new experience in terror on our morning walk.

I know a lot of people would enjoy their own personal theme park where you don’t have to get dressed or even leave your bed (that sounded a whole lot less dirty in my head) but right now, I just want to get some sleep.  And that’s hard to do when the bed won’t stop spinning.

A sort of homecoming.

I realized as I was leaving my parents house, that that is not my home anymore.   It was a little strange.  I’ve mentioned before that they still live in the same house I grew up in.  However, sometime between leaving for college and leaving after Christmas 2009, it ceased to feel like home.

They have remodeled the basement where my bedroom was, and most of my personal stuff has been boxed up and/or given to charity.  That was fine with me, I never had the attachment to my room that most teenage girls (at least the teenage girls I see on TV) have.  When I go and visit, I don’t even sleep in that room anymore.  But it’s been that way for years.

I think there were three things that prompted this change.

1) I bought my own place.  Yes, it’s a teeny-tiny condo, but it’s my teeny tiny condo.

2) Max and Lulu came to live with me.  Suddenly, I had two little souls to take care of, two little souls that are tolerated, if not welcomed in my parent’s house.

3) My roommates/renters moved out, and I wasn’t able to find someone to rent the spare bedroom in my condo.  I’ve been living alone for several months, having to worry about only myself and the dogs.  This is the first time in my life that I have lived completely alone.

I like being the head of the house.  I like being in charge.  I like being able to make decisions about when and were and what I eat.  I like not feeling like I need to turn off the TV and go to bed because I’m disturbing other people.  While I love my parents, when I return to their house, I revert from an adult woman living on her own to a child fighting her parents for autonomy.

I love my family.  I love the small town where I grew up.  However, I’m glad I don’t live there anymore.  As hard as it is for me to admit, I’ve grown up and moved on.  With a little luck, I’ll end up back in my small town, but I’m not counting on it.  For now, for me, home is my 1000 square feet of space 20 feet up in the air.

A short post full of long explinations.

It’s a little strange to go to church in my parent’s ward.  They still live in the house I grew up in, in a small Mormon town, and even though they haven’t moved, their ward boundaries have.

(In case I have any non-Mormons reading this,  a little note of explanation.  Mormon congregations are called “Wards”, and they are organized by geographical location.  The main church meeting is called Sacrament Meeting, and this is where, unsurprisingly, we take the sacrament, bread and water that represent the body and blood of Christ, similar to Catholic Eucharist.  We also don’t have a paid clergy, so speakers for Sacrament Meeting are pulled from the congregation.  After Sacrament Meeting, we divide by age group and, occasionally, by interest of study, into Sunday School classes.  After Sunday School, the men go to their Priesthood meeting, and the women go to Relief Society.    The course of study for Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society is all determined by church leaders in Salt Lake, so every ward, in theory, is having the same lesson every week.  The Priesthood and Relief Society lessons are also taught out of the same manual,  so men and women receive the same lesson, just not together.  There is also the Primary, Young Mens and Young Women’s programs for children and youth, which I will explain further if I ever have reason to talk about them.)

With the change in the ward boundaries, things have gotten a little strange for me.  First of all, my favorite high school teacher is in my parents ward.  Second of all, it seems like a fair number of jocks that I went to high school with have ether moved back to town or never left, and they are living in my parents ward.

All this is a very long  explanation to talk about what happened in church today.  Boo, the star of the high school football team (and yes, that’s what he chooses to call himself) and his wife were two of the speakers in Sacrament today.  Boo hadn’t been active in the church when they first met, and they weren’t married in the temple.

(Another note of explanation. While the LDS Church recognizes civil marriages, we believe that such unions will end at death.  When a couple is married in the temple, we believe that if both spouses stay worthy, that that marriage will last for eternity.  However, if a couple is not married in the temple, [and there are some states and governments that do not recognize a temple marriage as legally valid] they can go later to be sealed, which is essentially the same thing. Children who are born to a couple who were married or sealed in the temple are also sealed to their parents and can be a part of their family forever.  If a child was born before the sealing took place, or if a child is adopted into a family, they can also be sealed to their parents in the temple.

We also perform this work for our dead ancestors in the temple.)

Boo and his wife both spoke on preparing to go to the temple to be sealed.  It was a very touching experience for me.  I have two callings, (jobs in the church) Relief Society teacher, and Temple Committee co-chair.  One of my duties in the temple committee is to teach the temple prep class, to help the members of my ward prepare to enter the temple.

(What, more explanation?  I know there are a lot of people who don’t understand why we don’t let just anyone into our temples.  I hope I can clear it up a bit.  We believe that the temples are the most sacred spots on the earth.  Inside, we are taught sacred truths.  Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not allowed inside the temple unless they are approved by their ward and stake [a stake is a collection of wards] leaders, and issued a recommend.  My temple prep class is to help those members who are worthy to receive a temple recommend to be ready to receive those sacred truths.)

My temple prep class has had me discouraged lately.  The members of my class are brought in by invitation, and tend to be 19-20-21 year old girls and their recently returned missionary fiancées. (a missionary, male or female, goes through the temple before departing on their mission)  The girls, the ones who the class is for, seem to treat it as a joke, or are too shy to comment, so much of the discussion takes place among the fiancées,  who have already been through the temple.  While this is understandable to a certain extent–we are not supposed to talk about much of what happens in the temple outside of its sacred walls, so trying to prepare someone to enter requires a lot of talk about seemingly random topics that can be difficult to understand unless you have been through the temple, it’s still frustrating.  I don’t know how much these girls are taking away, or if they are treating this topic of eternal importance with the gravity it deserves.

Which brings me back to Boo.  He said in his talk today that the only reason he went to the temple prep classes was because they served refreshments afterwards.  He didn’t really take much away, but, when he got to the temple, he realized how much they helped.

Granted, I was already emotional because I was feeling overwhelmed by being around so many people, and the past few days have been on the down side of things. (um, not a church explanation, but rather a personal one.  “Down day” is my own personal code for a day when I’ve been noticeably more depressed for much of the day)  So when Boo made that statement, I started to cry.  I needed to hear that just because I don’t think the girls are taking anything out of the class doesn’t mean that they aren’t, and they probably won’t realize how much they needed the classes until they go through the temple, get married and move out of my ward.

I’m so glad to have had that reminder.  I just would have never expected it to come from that source.

The Photographer Chronicles

I spent Christmas afternoon geocaching with my dad.  This is an activity that we both enjoy, but, for me, anyway, it’s not so much about the search as it is about spending time with my father, seeing country that I wouldn’t necessarily stop to look at, and enjoying nature.  I had much more fun taking pictures than I did caching.  Here are some of my favorites:

I’m still figuring this blog thing out, but if you can click on the picture to get a bigger version.

And so, this is Christmas. And what have you done?

My dogs, Max and Lulu don’t like it when we visit my parents house.  They aren’t allowed on the furniture, and at least half the time, my 3-year-old nephew G is there to pull tails and ears and steal toys, and to take all of his Aunt Cori’s attention.  But worst of all, they aren’t allowed to sleep with me in the super-comfy bed that’s one size bigger than the bed we sleep on at home.  Nights with the dogs at my parents house usually consist of me trying to convince them that their crate really is the best place for them to sleep (they don’t have a problem with the crate at my house) for at least an hour.

Last night, it was especially bad.  It seemed like they wouldn’t go down for more than a half hour at a time.  Every time I started to congratulate myself on finding how to get them down, they would start barking at me again.  Maybe they were excited about Christmas.

I guess the only way I tell that story is to offer an excuse in case for when I ramble.  I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep last night, and, if I’m going to stay awake all day to reset my body, I want to do it without chemical stimulation.  Now, if only I could come up with an excuse for the rest of my posts…

Not a good tag for Lulu to receive on Christmas Eve.

G called Mom & Dad’s house about an hour ago to tell all about Christmas morning at his house.  This kid’s been talking about Santa Claus since, well, last Christmas.  It didn’t help that one of my uncles, G’s great-uncle, told him that Santa wouldn’t come unless he learned to go poop in the potty.  G’s little three-year-old brain turned that into “Santa will only go to places where I’ve successfully pooped in the potty.”  So, random gas station in Minersville, Utah? Yep, Santa went there.  Aunt Cori’s house?  Not so much.  When G had diarrhea a week or two ago, and couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom on time, he was so distraught, not only because he made a mess in his pants, but because he thought it meant Santa wouldn’t come.

So, how did this post about Christmas turn into a discussion of my nephew’s poop?  Oh.  Right.  Back on track now.

G called about an hour ago, and was so excited to tell all about the toys and presents he got.  This is the first year he’s really been old enough to understand Christmas, or, at least understand getting presents.  However, when Mom did ask him what happens on Christmas, the first thing he said was “It’s Jesus’s birthday”, before he started to talk about his presents.

I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I’m really feeling being single and unemployed. And while I think there is no greater joy than searching out the perfect gift, and seen excitement on the recipients face when they open it, my unemployment checks are half of not enough, and I wasn’t able to get the things I wanted to give this year.  When I get depressed, my thoughts get scattered, and I get frustrated easily, so making gifts was also out of the question–not to mention that it’s often times more expensive to make a gift than to buy one.

It was therefore, refreshing to talk to G this morning.  To hear his child-like joy, his excitement over the gifts he got, and, more importantly, how hard it was to keep him on topic of his presents reminded me of what I posted a few days ago.  Christmas is about children, family and sharing love with others.

And spoiling my nephews rotten.

“Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world”

Yesterday, I posted about my favorite traditional/secular Christmas.  I was thinking, though, that if I’m going to talk about my favorite Christmases, then the ones I spent on my mission deserve a special recognition.

I served an 18 month proselytising mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My mission was called the Canada Winnipeg Mission, and it covered all of the central time zone in Canada–effectively, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and about a third of Ontario.  Technically, my mission also covered portions of Nunavut, all the way up to the North Pole, but the farthest north we had missionaries (at least while I was there) was Flin Flon.

I left for my mission on July 10, 2002, and, because transfers happen every 6 weeks, I had the choice to come home right before Christmas 2003, or at the end of January 2004.  I chose to stay ’til January, mostly because my first Christmas in the mission field was so amazing.

I spent both Christmases in Winnipeg, the first one in Transcona, the second one in St. James.  From what I saw, Christmas in Canada wasn’t that much different from the Christmases I grew up with–just colder, with more booze, and a strange pastry called butter tarts.

Where I was in Canada, most people who went to church belonged to one of two churches, either the United Church of Canada, or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They weren’t really interested in hearing our message, or changing their way of life.

A change came around Christmas, though.  First of all, we changed our door approach to talk more about the birth of our Saviour. (See that?  I’m talking about Canada, so I just used a Canadian/British spelling)  People were more likely to let us in their homes.

Although, this could have had something to do with it.
Although, this might have had something to do with it.

Christmas on a mission is such an amazing time.  Missionaries are already so focused on the Savior, (I’m talking about missionaries in general, so that gets an American spelling) and, despite what the cheesy shows on TV and the “Holiday” advertisements tell you, most people who celebrate Christmas do remember Christ.  To have our message well (okay, better) received, to truly focus on what Christ and what Christmas is all about is the most amazing thing.

The last two weeks of my mission, the temperature never got above -45.  We weren’t allowed outside for more than five minutes at a time, and, of course, that’s when the engine block heater on our car decided to conk out on us.  I spent the last days of my mission stuck inside the mouse-infested apartment with my two companions (fortunately, there was a family-owned grocery store across the street, so we weren’t hurting for food).  It was a very difficult time (even though I love Sister Jackson and Sister Johnson) and not a very spectacular way to end the mission.  Even so, I was glad that I stayed an extra 6 weeks, so I could spend another Christmas in the missionfield.

When I got home, and my family was so eager to have the delayed Christmas that they had planned for me, I wasn’t really all that interested in opening presents, I would have just as soon shared the love and spirit that I felt for the special time of year.

Christmas time is here, Happiness and Cheer

Fun for all that children call,

their favorite time of year

Wait, what?  I was stuck in a Vince Guaraldi loop there for a second.  I’m better now.

Ah, Christmas, that cat-torturingly wonderful time of the year.   Wait, that’s not right.

Seriously? That was the best cat ever. She could bring down jackrabbits, but let us hold her like that.
seriously, best cat ever. She could bring down jackrabbits, but let us hold her like that.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I was flipping through my parent’s photo albums and found that picture.  I was looking for an excuse to use it on this blog.

Being unemployed this Christmas season robbed me of my excuse to stay away longer gave me the opportunity to come to my parents house a few days earlier than I normally would.

I shouldn’t make jokes like that.  I only have about four readers, and two of them are my parents.  Yes, Mom, it was a joke.  I was really excited to come down.  Really.  I was.

Anyway, when I walked in the door carrying all my stuff, it felt like Christmas to me for the first time this year.  I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up, but dangit, it’s seemed especially hard this year.

Growing up, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year.  I dare you to find any kid who grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas that would say otherwise.   Go on, find one.  I’ll wait.

Oh, you’re back?  Couldn’t find one, could you.

For me, Christmas is about family, and remembering the past.  Yes, it’s the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but, unfortunately the reality is, that’s just a backdrop.  I once took a folklore class in which we talked about how every culture has a big festival or celebration when the winter is coldest, and, had the climate of Western Europe been more like that of Utah, we’d be celebrating Christmas nearer to Valentines Day.  When Constantine decided to create the Holy Roman Empire, he usurped the local festivals and slapped a Christian theme on them, and that’s how we got Christmas and Easter.  And Halloween, for that matter.

Wow, I’m really on one today, enough with the detours already!

Like I was saying, for me, Christmas is all about family and children.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the middle of nowhere, away from the crowded malls and angry shoppers and drivers, but the Christmases I remember, even into my teens, center around family and being together.

I can only remember one gift of my childhood Christmases, and that was a fish tank shaped like a bubble gum machine–I don’t even think that was my ‘big’ gift that year.

I do remember the love, and the excitement, the fun of searching for the perfect tree, either up in the mountains or at the local tree lot.  I remember the smells and the lights, the fun of the family parties.  And Santa Claus coming IN PERSON to our house on Christmas Eve, and giving us TWO bags of candy EACH, and telling us he’d be back later with the rest of our gifts.My best Christmas, though, happened after I was an adult and had moved away to college.  I had taken a job at the soul sucking factory Convergys in Logan as a collections agent.  I had been hired on as a customer service rep, but, between my hire date and the day I started training, they decided to switch that call center only to collections.  Well, asking people for money is apparently easier than trouble shooting their phone problems, so my training was cut short by a week, and my first day on the call floor was Christmas Eve.

I called my parents in tears to tell them that I wouldn’t be able to come home for Christmas, and explained the situation.  My parents and sister, being the wonderful people that they are, loaded their car with all the gifts, and drove four hours to take a room in a hotel, all so we could spend Christmas as a family.

While I was working on Christmas Day, feeling sorry for myself (I remember one caller getting mad at me for not turning her phone back on without payment by snapping “It’s Christmas!” to which I snapped back “Yeah, and I’m at work instead of with my family!”  Okay, not really, but I wanted to.) My mom prepared a dinner of cornish game hens in my crappy little apartment kitchen.  Convergys, probably not wanting to pay holiday wages to someone who had really only been working for two days, sent me home after half a day.

I’ll never forget the love I felt from my family that day.  That day, more than ever, is when I first realized what Christmas is all about–loving your family and your fellow men.  That is why we celebrate Christ’s birth.  That was his mission, and that is why he did what he did for us.

Loving your fellow men, and having a good place to hide when the extended family got overwhelming.

Sleep and other dreams

Okay, this two posts a day probably won’t last very long, but I couldn’t make the other thing I wanted to talk about on my blog this morning fit in with the ‘name’ theme of the other post.

First of all, I think that it’s important to embrace every part of yourself, and that you can’t change until you’ve accepted the part of you that you WANT to change.  For me, this is two big things, my weight, and my depression.  I don’t have a problem talking openly, or even joking about ether one.  But this leads me to a dilemma, when I’m having a down day, what combined with my writing hobby and all, I tend to get all introspective and emotional, and want to put my feelings down on paper.  The problem is, while this may be deep and meaningful to me, it comes across as sounding emo-y and whiny to the rest of the world, and people who fill their blogs with emo-y and whiny posts should be mocked mercilessly.  And so I promise both of you, dear readers, that I’ll never post about how “my heart is a black hole, which nothing can fill up” or anything similar.   I give you permission to kick me if I ever do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.  I had a good talk with my psychiatrist yesterday.  She’s happy with how I’m doing on the Lexapro, with her only major concern being that it makes it difficult for me to sleep.  Not so coincidentally, that is also my big concern about the Lexapro.  She suggested that I stay up all day and all night and all the next day, then go to bed to try and reset my body so, you know, I’ll SLEEP at night.  I was planning on starting that today, but, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, so we’ll see how that goes.  Maybe by the time 10pm rolls around, I’ll be so exhausted that I’ll just want to fall into bed (and stare at the celling until 2).  This should be fun…

Sleep is a big deal in my life.  I love sleep.  I love dreaming.  One of my favorite books–definitely one of the top three in the non-fiction category is called “Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasure of Sleep and Dreams” by Dr. Paul Martin.  One of the biggest struggles I had on my mission (considering what a difficult time I had on the mish, it’s strange to think that this was one of the big ones) is that as a missionary, you go to bed at 10:30, and wake up at 6:30.  Period. Which is fine, if you only take five minutes to go to sleep, and only need about eight hours of sleep a night.  I do not.(or did not, the Lexapro seems to have changed this for me) It has always taken me a long time–45 minutes or more to fall asleep.  And I need closer to 9 or 10 hours a night to be happy and headache free.  I really hope this reset thing works, because right now, it’s 9:30 am, I’ve been up for 2 hours, and I’m ready to go back to bed.  I don’t know if I can handle another 46 sleep-free.

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