Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Think Twice on Me

I think my biggest issue is I place too much importance on people.

I'm going to acknowledge the fact that this is not just a curse and actually lends to the key factors about my personality and that I would not be who I claim to be without it, but every virtue has its vice.

The trouble is that I don't know exactly where this stigma stems from. At first it always seemed to be a genuine love for people, but as the years have gone on I've started to notice it comes more and more from a narcissistic place that I seldom draw attention to and try to mask with genuine love for people, because I know I had that once.

I was just scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a post written by the mother of a missionary friend of mine using the missionary's account, obviously. The status closed with this: "Everyone who truly knows her knows she has such a sensitive heart and deeply cares for others. Relationships matter to her..."

I thought back to how I met this girl and the friendship we had. I sat by her in a mission prep class on campus. She was still undecided, like myself, and taking the class to see if it was something she should be considering doing, like me. She told me several weeks later when she'd decided, and left me with a bit of information that stuck with me throughout the process of making my own decisions, both about missions and nearly everything else: deciding was the hardest part. She said once she made a choice everything was so much easier.

I read this post and thought, for a nano-second, about her coming home in a few short weeks and us talking like we did in that class. Over 18 months ago.

And it brought this question to mind, this issue about the importance I place on people that cross my way in my life. She'll probably never think twice on me, honestly, unless one day I comment on her page or she sees some photo from a major life event. Most likely it'll be that moment of scrolling through friends' names and thinking "Wait, who is this person?"

My computer wants to restart so I'll be quick.

I like to think I matter to people, and this is where the narcissistic part comes into play, because people matter to me. I do scroll through my news feed and ponder on people from the past, I do think about those I help at the bank and how things are going for them. I'm just too lazy half the time to bridge any gap to find out. But it makes me wonder if it's a strange anomaly in myself or part of the existence of mankind. I wonder if I project my own images of self-worth onto the blank slate that are acquaintances as a way of fostering my own belief that I am excellent and others feel the same, or if it's a matter of truly caring about people, not the potential they have to care about me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No Man Is An Island

I never wanted to be fake, to be a poser, to put on different masks for different crowds. I never said I loved the Back Street Boys because I only had one album and hadn't ever mailed in to join the fan club. Months after having listened to Jason Mraz religiously I still didn't claim he was my favorite artist. To me, to declare something/someone as your favorite would negate knowing more about them/it than the average person on the street. I found a poster for sale on Mraz's website and wanted it. But I stopped my 7th grade self from running to dad asking him to order it for me. 

I didn't know enough about him yet. I wasn't really a fan of Jason Mraz. Not yet.

And that's why I look like an uber fan, being able to tell you where he's from, how he got into the music business, what this song was written about, his brother's name, etc. Because according to the unspoken rule I'd always lived by, I couldn't truthfully declare myself a fan until I knew as much as possible. So while my improv troupe pokes fun at my "obsession," I reside with the knowledge that I'm a true, sincere fan.

Which is why mourning posts on Facebook bother me. I understand the reasoning behind it; Robin Williams was indeed an excellent man, bringing characters to life in the greatest way possible. But I have a hard time believing the 18 year old on my newsfeed with keep true to her declaration that he will "always be one of [her] favorite actors." It's easy to forget, especially in this modern world of high speed internet and smart phones. Remember all the hub-bub about Michael Jackson's death? Remember how the world was shaken, how an incredible artist was gone too soon, how everyone started listening to his music and covering his songs and releasing full magazines containing every article they'd ever published of him.

Remember when his five year death anniversary happened?

You don't?

I didn't either. Until I was in line at the Walmart and noticed a reprint of the MJ-only People's Magazine.

And then I thought "That's right. It's June. That's right, he's been gone a few years now."

I took art classes in junior high, convinced I'd become the world's best artist. Newsflash, I'm not. But on several instances in those classes we would study world renowned artists, and in most occasions we'd watch a docudrama about their lives, the moral of every story being sometimes though the work you produce is incredible, people won't realize it until you're gone.

This of course being time passes after their death and someone realizes the quality of the work and exposes it to the world and then they become a classic that is lauded for their innovation and creativity and studied in art classes through the ages. 

Technology is doing the opposite now.

Robin Williams was found dead, and Facebook, like it did five years ago, exploded with well-wishing mourning statements from people touched by his work. I'm not being cynical, I assure you. Just two weeks ago I watched Jumanji and was struck with the reminder of how much I appreciated Robin Williams and his role in that movie, among others. But what I am saying is our attention spans are fleeting. I struggle to sit down with a book nowadays because I'm so used to the quick, easy read of mindless internet articles. I've grown accustomed to my two second attention span. And I think the rest of us have as well. 

Which is why the most fitting way to remember someone is post about it, maybe share a video it took us a minute to find on YouTube, and forget. 

And five years from now you'll be at a Walmart, and Robin Williams will be on the cover of a magazine near the bottom of the rack, pushed to the bottom by the latest Kardashian scandal, and you'll think "Oh yes. I remember when he died. It's been a while, I guess."


So I'm not declaring this death has wrecked me to my core, I'm sad, definitely. How could you not be? Will I buy all of his movies and think about him every day? No. I'll probably invest in Dead Poets Society because I frankly haven't seen that yet, and if his death is similar in anyway to Michael Jackson's it'll yeild a surplus of his movies suddenly stocking shelves so it shouldn't be hard to find. Robin Williams won't live on as the man who changed my life, who brought me comedy and taught me to laugh. But I'll be struck with appreciation each time I flick through TV channels and pause as Hook comes back from commercial break, I'll smile as my kids watch Aladdin in the other room, and I'll remember him -like I always have- when there's a surplus of mosquitoes or a news story about stampedes. I'll admire his opportunities and the fact that he was able and willing to share them with us; that he had a leg up on the artists of yore in that his legacy was in circulation before he was ever gone. 

But I'm not going to say I'm his biggest fan. 

It's not about me. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Discography

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a product of my music interest, or if my music interest is just a side effect to who I am.

Let me explain.

Young Erica listened to a cassette tape of Kenny Loggins singing children's songs and lullabies. I don't mean this in a The Wiggles kind of way. They were calm, peaceful, almost folk songs.
It's where I met Pooh Corner, unicorns, comets, horses, and the existence of other cultures (as exhibited in To-Ra-Loo-Ra). They gave me this calmness, this widening of the mind. I started making music videos in my head to this music, before knowing music videos were really a thing, that video had ever killed the radio star, before knowing an artist could record songs they hadn't written. I learned the words painted the pictures I would see in my head. And I liked it.

Young Erica found another album in her mother's collection. She'd stolen Kenny Loggins, and returned for more. It's this album that I believe did it, this album that made my above mentioned speculation evident.
I think about this album a lot, especially lately. Because it made me think. And that's the key. Kenny Loggins drove my mind across the sky with St. Judy's comet and through forest glades with the last unicorn, but Sixpence None the Richer made me think. I didn't know what it meant. And it was frustrating. I didn't know what inconsistent angel things were, how a womb could be artistic, who "she" was in 'Sister, Mother.' I didn't get it. I was left to figure it out, and when I learned to read I read through the lyrics printed in the cover. But I still didn't know. This album is heavy on imagery, metaphor; it's poetry. It's an album of poems, and the answers are hidden in subtext and verbiage and unique to the listener. It's words painting pictures.

I have an odd reverence for words. You've probably gleaned as much if you've read this blog before. My favorite thing about Kenny Loggins wasn't his voice or the beautiful album art. It was the words, the story. I was devastated when I read who'd written the songs and saw Leigh Nash was only responsible for one of them; I felt cheated her lips were speaking someone else's words. The thing I loved most, and what still remains the deciding factor, about Jason Mraz was his words.

It had to come to this. He released an album Tuesday. Why else would we be here?
In the past couple of years I've let go of my tight grip on lyrics to hear the themes in the music itself. It started with Jason Mraz. I'd heard his songs so much the words were already ingrained in my subconscious, so I started feeling the beat, started noticing the way the rifts changed, started hearing the layers. Music has become a new journey for me; I've realized it's not just the words, but the way they play with the music. Hearing Mraz for those first months was incredible because each time I heard a song again I'd get new insight into what words he was using, what he was truly saying. When that went away I started having epiphanies about the melodies.

And now back to my musing at the first: am I a product of my music, or do I have this taste because of who I am?

Where's the causation? Is there any?

I've often attributed my prose style to Sixpence None the Richer, claiming the album introduced me to words that masked what they meant, thus giving me the natural knack I have for spewing imagery. I'd been raised on it. But as the last few months have gone on, I've found myself slipping back into my old tastes as far as music goes. I've ventured off to Indie and Alternative Pop, but I'm tucking myself back into acoustic folk pop. I turn a happier ear to the music reminiscent of that first album, the mystique and metaphor on which I was raised. And I'm aware now that it's more than the words I appreciate; I've noticed a distinct similarity between the two. I've always said I like the music I like because the words are usually more akin to what I'm interested in. Which is mostly true. But there's been many a song I've enjoyed for lyrics and felt so-so as far as music goes. (A certain duet between Eminem and Rihanna comes to mind.) And a couple albums with instrumental tracks have taught me that music can speak without words. Willis showed me a Japanese artist whose songs hit me very deeply, but I don't speak Japanese.

Then Wednesday happened. Yes! came in the mail a day late, and after I enjoyed my new t-shirt, notebook, and poster, I popped in the album and leaned back on my bed to let Jason Mraz's latest work envelop me for the first time.

It's a meadow. It's soft clouds lilted by the pink hues of a setting sun breathing through branches accompanied by a faint breeze. It's sand flaking out to sea as the waves roll over it lightly. It's nature. It's peace. It's beauty. I hesitate to say it's my favorite album only because it's so new, and of course his newest endeavor is my favorite. I said this of his last installment, Love is a Four Letter Word.

But it's the difference of this album to every other that makes it hit me in such a unique way. I'm well versed in his music, and I recall lying there, listening to this album for the first time thinking how I love how he has changed. This sound is something I couldn't place in his past. But I could place it in mine.

If I'm a product of my music interest, Yes! is my current Sixpence None the Richer, an album for another decade of life. If my music interest is a side effect of who I am, this is another album I'll be yapping about for months. Because it is me. It is everything my heart wants. It's like coming home. And I try not to say this in the cheesiest ways, and hope I've made a fragment of sense this entire post. I just wonder if this album would speak to me in the way it does if I'd grown up with a different introduction to the realm of music. I wonder if I'd be who I am if it weren't for that first album, and for the albums that have followed. In the way I wonder if I'd be fundamentally the same if I hadn't been raised in the Church, I wonder if music has made me what I've become. Music is a gospel, after all. As Matt Nathanson sings, "I found religion at the record store." I lost myself in the melody and found myself in the words.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A birthday IS going to come

When I discovered Jason Mraz and started doing more about it than listening to one song on repeat, he had a website designed in the manner of his second studio album MR. A-Z. One section on the site was titled "Journal," and that's where I discovered my first blog.

I loved his writing. I loved seeing in his head other than the songs I'd started to memorize and sing in the solitude of my bedroom. It made him a person, these puns about Kevin Federline--Mr Please Make Fun of Me--and memories of launching grasshoppers on firecrackers with his brother. He was a real, regular guy.

And then they updated his website, and all the journal entries were lost.

I hated it. I was devistated. But shortly thereafter discovered a wonderful thing.

He'd made an actual blog.

He'd created a blogspot account and was still sharing insights into his lyrical head.

Determined not to lose out again, I started reading the blog with intensity, saving each post into a Word document so if the unthinkable happened again, I wouldn't have a void.

So I kept them.

Not all of them, sadly, high school became more hands-on than junior high and I steadily got out of the habit of regularly checking the blog, and if I did, it was usually during class while procrastinating writing an analysis on a book I hadn't read.

After he ended things with TP he deleted all the posts.

Four years of posts. Gone and replaced with this.

But I've got just about two years of them, and I'm sure if I dug the internet enough, I'd find them somehow.

But it's been a while since I've read his stuff. He still writes now, but it's few and far between and they don't often offer such an extended look into his phsyee. So today, for his birthday, I'm going to post one of them. On my blog. Because one guess as to what lead me to start it.

Happy Birthday Mraz.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A change IS going to come

Last year Bob Dylan compiled a song list for Starbucks’ Artist Choice Series. In addition to offering up a keen selection of country, blues, and jazz, he also supplied notes and commentary as to why he held the songs in such regard. BUT, the best part was the forward.

He wrote, "When I was asked to put together this collection of songs, I wasn't sure what to do. So I just grabbed a bunch of things I was into recently. Some people have favorite songs, but I've got songs of the minute -- songs that I'm listening to right now. And if you ask me about one of those songs a year from now, I might not even remember who did it, but at the moment it's everything to me.”

I bring this up as today’s lesson: Nothing is final. One day you’re high. The next day you’re low. You might have a funky, expressive, or awful haircut today, but soon it will grow into something else, something new and random. Maybe you grew up liking pop music and boy bands, but now you like a specific mash up of Electronic & Classical. You might decide you don’t want to smoke cigarettes anymore; that it’s just not who you are. Maybe you were a staunch republican but now have curiosities about the
well-spoken and well-organized Democratic Nominee. Perhaps you were madly in love last week, but woke up today feeling comfort in solitude, without a desire to be held.

Everything is fine. Not finAL.

We tend to instantly identify with “things.” And we believe in so much, when in fact, a belief isn't known to be true. It's a hope for the truth. We hold grudges because of what someone said when we were young. We store hurtful words and replay them in our minds until we think it to be true. And some of us believe a TV commercial and think we need a faster computer, a smarter phone, a stronger pill, a more relaxed-fit jean, etc. We think that certain things, thoughts, or actions make us who we are and sometimes we become addicted to those thoughts or behaviors and then become too afraid to let them go.

I write and post a lot therefore many people assume I have every self-published word memorized or that I live these shared thoughts constantly. This is not the case. My brain doesn’t reference myself very well actually, and I’m sure I contradict myself every other day in one way or another. One day I feel like I have all the wisdom of the world and the next day my soul wears thin and I stutter just ordering ice cream.

And everything is fine.

Because I trust in the ever-changing climate of the heart. (At least, today I feel that way.) I think it is necessary to have many experiences for the sake of feeling something; for the sake of being challenged, and for the sake of being expressive, to offer something to someone else, to learn what we are capable of. These meanderings, rants, and blogs for instance, provide a great deal of comfort just sharing it, even though i put a part of myself on the line to be criticized or considered an ass.
Oh well, Courage is triumph of the soul is guess. and an Ass can still be of great service.

So Remember, You have the right to change your mind.

About anything.

Anytime.

This is not the ending.

P.S. – No doesn’t mean forever. It simply means, “Not right now.”

And on the topic of Not right now, whatever happened to you in the past is not happening now.

You will be safe behind your honest decisions and mood swings.

I promise.


-mraz
Berlin
mraz6:37 AM103 comments

Part 1

It's not often I go to the library, but when he asked if I'd like to go study I decided there was no harm in saying yes. Studying is difficult, and if you're not stalling with music or a trail of humorous pictures on the internet, you just might find yourself stalling by staring at that girl you're with, realizing maybe she's something more than what you thought, and why hadn't you noticed it before?

I waited on one side of the door, sensing him just beyond the wood, trying to find ways to still my beating heart. But that's a task harder than studying when you've just watched him come back with your frappuccinos in hand, only to have a wayward book enthusiast stumble against him, and life moves in freeze-frame as the drinks bump and fall, your whipped cream sloping on his dark-wash jeans and dolloping on the floor followed by the bursting of one drink's lid and a free-fall of blood and it dawns on you something's amiss as the world speeds back up, your heart in your ears, everything suddenly sounding like Darth Vader breathing down your neck in triple time. The film over your ears is punctured by a scream you connect with his vocal tones and it hits you that you're watching grueling murder, the kind you find in comic books and bath salts, and instinct tells you run.

I kept my right hand pressed against the door, inches from the door knob, questioning anyone who ever designed a room without a peephole, hearing him paw at the wood in a frantic forgotten way as a clatter resonates from upstairs. Fight or flight doesn't offer much by way of cognitive choices when faced with the glassy eyes of the middle-aged man who gnawed out your soon-to-be-boyfriend's jugular. Perhaps it would have registered more clearly had I versed myself in first-person shooter games or high speed sports like racquetball. Nonetheless, I moved and went for the closest enclosed space I could find, and while it was an empty conference room, there was no rain check to be had and no backdoor to exit through. I was stuck in a twisted conundrum of starving now or starving later, the only altered implication being whether I died due to starving or starved due to dying.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Noche Nada

The sand cushions out around my soles, miniature billows of apocalyptic ash clouds, swarming a plague of ruin centimeters from my footfalls. It leaves a swan song in the fabric of my sneakers, a remnant of a lost time, holding out for the uncovering of archaeologists to comb and caress and discover why. I watch the sun glint along above me, a tracking system in the sky mapping my every move, hiding behind a canopy, leaving tattoos of shadows along my body.

I think about the way the clouds told me stories over the course of a day, an elongated sitcom sans subtitles. And there are breezes reminding me to breathe, and the steady heartbeat of my steps clarifies there's somewhere worth getting to, there's reason worth walking. And some sunset from now I'll find the mouth of a waterfall or a crystal blue lake and sit on the bank on a rock not smooth enough and know I'm home. But that's a sunset, miles away, and there are moons and dawns between. There's the breeze, the clouds, the checkerboard shade, and my feet carrying me through and beyond, leaving the path clear, muddled only by settled tsunamis of dust.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unfold

Some of the things that make me want to blog are stupid.

This is one of those.

People ask me "Okay, well what's your favorite Jason Mraz song?"

How do you answer that? It seems stupid to say I really like all of them. And even the ones I have a lesser inclination toward are still significantly more enjoyable to me than most of what people splatter on the radio.

I just had a friend stapchat me that she was sad, and what do I do to feel better? I sent her a picture of this:

and included the title: Live at Java Joe's

Naturally I then had to go listen to it a little, because....seriously. If I ever experience an extreme tragedy or you see me sobbing for hours on end or am in a pit of depression, sit me down and play this album. It is almost a drug; more endorphins than you'd think a person could handle. I can't not be ecstatic when I hear this. Truly.

I started to notice a while back that one song seemed it hit me a little more than the others, but I'd convince myself no because those other songs are just toooooooo good.

It wasn't until he played it live in concert in 2012 (you know, hours after I'd met him) that I realized this was it. This was the favorite song. 

You see I wasn't expecting him to play it; it's only recorded on two live albums, there's no studio release of it. Oh, and the last time he'd regularly played it was, you know, 2004. 

Which I guess is actually a lie because this video I'm considering linking is from 2007. 

Like I said, it's dumb. But he just gets to me right in the creativity, so I have to share it. So I did. 

Now, please, treat yourself to a little Mraz music. (Please ignore the tools that think they know when the bell sounds come in. That's a sad thing that happens pretty much every time he does this song. Including when I saw it live. But I'm not bitter.) Just pay close attention to 3:03-3:31 for the best part. ESPECIALLY 3:20-3:29. That's where it's at. Literally my favorite moment in music history. The best nine seconds of your life. Seriously.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

yet another untitled.

I can't imagine living
Where the seasons are the same;
My life would be so bitter
If I never had the change.
There's lightness in the snow that falls
And joy within the rain,
And a summer night is nothing short
Of healing spring's faint pain.

Each season gives a rinse, a dry,
To the way in which I'm seen:
Like a Sunday afternoon where
My spirit comes out clean.
I can't imagine living with
No sustenance, no change;
Where I am stuck with who I was
Before the water came.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There are other things.

"There are other things for us."
She said, staring down the barrel of a gun.
"There are other reasons we're standing here,
other songs that should be sung."
And the weapon's fired,
The clock's expired
And I find myself break a run,
Toward yesterday's
And far-aways
I'd never thought would come.

Until at moment's last, the summer smiles
In the soft ray of light from a moon
And I can't keep up the motion of
Breath having died too soon.
We struggle with our paces
And defend worried faces,
Praying all will soften to a swoon
When the owls cry
And ends are nigh
And never crests from gloom.

Don't pity him,
Don't pity me,
Don't tell me how to stand.
Or how the world is empty when
You're absent someone's hand.
Don't say I'm clear to disappear
And pray things plot my course
The way my mind has drafted it,
When I was yet in sorts.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

carefree summer

"I don't believe in signs, Erica."

I faltered mid sentence and glanced at her briefly before turning back to the road. "You don't believe in signs?" I had to assure I'd heard her right.

"No. You're always talking about things like they're signs and I don't believe in signs."

Perhaps it's my innate skills of word working that has me constantly searching for deeper meaning in the text of life. Perhaps, in the way more analytical folks see patterns and numbers in the day to day things, writers and dreamers search for the metaphor within. That's what separates the disciplines; empirical vs spiritual. The deduction of how things work rather than why things work and what it all means. It's the artist in me. It's the religionist in me. It's what keeps me optimistic--my constant search for a clue of destiny, fate, the best to come.

There are moments in my life where I've felt what I believe to be pure peace, true joy, perfection even. But these moments are just that, moments, so the teaser of possibilities fades away, appearing only so I'll recognize it when I do finally stumble upon it. They'd come when I would read. I got into "chapter books" and novels in elementary because they made me feel something; dropped me in this world I didn't know about, took me places, had me experience things I never did. I would feel free, liberated, carefree, alive. It happens when I listen to Jason Mraz after any amount of time without hearing his angelic tones. It happens when I take the stage under another person's name. But it never stays. The book ends and it's over, the song ends and I'm empty, the show's done and the character evaporates into the vapor cloud that possessed me. I've wanted to capture it for years. I started writing a book in ninth grade that was/is titled in all my saved documents of it "carefree summer," because I wanted to write a book that embodied that feeling, that breezy life they always had in books (breezy naturally meaning feel-good, not simple and without adversity). I wanted to harness that peace, that joy, and maybe give myself the ability to keep it otherwise.

I've been muddled the past couple weeks. The semester is progressing, I'm growing more established in the new routines of my job at a credit union, the elementary school musical I'm directing is coming to the apex, and I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

I want to teach theatre. I won't find a job in that. I won't get paid for it. And should I be lucky enough to score a spot in the field, it's not a job I leave at work. Theatre doesn't stop, especially when you're the one running it all. I don't want to teach English. I'd be good at it. I can see that, but I've never wanted to, that's never been my desire. I want to write. I want to change my double major to creative writing and learn the things I really want to know to accomplish that part of my dreams. I won't find a job in that. If I happen to write something worth publishing, it's not going to rake in billions of dollars unless it somehow becomes the next teen fandom. I want to go on a mission, but I don't want to quit this job and lose that money and drop my schooling and....

Everything's just felt so wrong. Like the credit union was a mistake. Like taking generals this semester to get my associates done was the wrong course. Like I should have stayed home today.

But not this week. I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I'm going to guess it started Monday. I drove out to Ogden, and now that I do that regularly I've grown tired of the one CD I've been listening to for a couple weeks, when it usually takes a month or so before over-kill settles in. I popped in a recording of a Pickleville Playhouse melodrama and listened to the music and selected scenes of dialogue from the show, my insides burning with this excitement and happiness.

And it hasn't stopped all week. I'm addicted to it, to this feeling of feeling good. I can't get enough of this carefree summer, and other than the minor set back when an elementary school student left me a rather insulting note, this feeling hasn't gone away. I've gone from school to work to Friendsday to rehearsal to a live theatre production to lounging in my friends' apartment/duplex, and it hasn't gone away. I've been swarmed in this carefree summer all week, and I don't know what I did to get it, but it suddenly occurred to me I'm living that life I've been craving from the beginning. I'm at that point of peace and joy.

So I'm living in it. I'm taking it as a sign that things are right, here. That I'm where I'm meant to be standing regardless of what I thought now would look like. I'm taking this moment for all it is. And next semester can come when it comes. My next show will come when it's time. A mission will come when it's right. I don't need to plan ahead or worry about tomorrow. I need to lift where I stand in today and keep this carefree summer before it goes away.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

I'm teaching Gospel Doctrine, and my lesson Sunday is on the Creation. Earlier this week I actually reviewed the lesson manual, which is different for me as I often hold off until the Friday-Saturday before I teach. I remembered something my dad had read to me in a book a few years back about some man's near death experience in which he was able to hear the energies of the plants and animals, and even things we'd classify as no longer living, such as a wooden desk, but he "walked" among them and could hear how grateful they were to be of use to man, how happy it made them to be part of this Plan.

It's stuck with me, in the back of my mind, and it struck me that I should share that with the class, that though the man's account isn't necessarily "doctrine," it would be worthwhile to share for the sheer sake of perspective. So I made a note to ask my dad about the book.

My dad is your stereotypical father in the sense that he sits in his Lazy-Boy and does everything from read to watch TV to sleep. His chair's in the corner of our living room, right next to our wood-burning stove. Over the years he's adopted that area as a second office, and often has a hoard of books and magazines stacked on the hearth like a library overflow. My mother, being the stereotypical mother in terms of cleanliness, doesn't like the mess, especially when company comes over, because to Mom even if someone is quickly dropping by to hand off a birthday card, this place better shine like the top of the Chrysler building.

One evening I had a moment, and he didn't look too busy, reclined in his chair, so I asked him about the book.

"I threw it out." He said matter-of-fact.

"Why?" I asked, taken aback.

"I was cleaning up for the last party. I just threw it all out."

My dad's always been a little on edge my whole life. There was a time when we were kids that he was depressed, and he wasn't necessarily a sulky kind of depressed. He pulled out of that eventually, but it seems to have never been an easy road for him. He's struggled with headaches most of his life, and within the past few years they've increased in length and pain, to the point that he now as a constant debilitating headache, the kind of headache that I can only cope with by lying down and napping it away. But you can't nap away your life.

I don't want you to have the wrong idea of my dad. He's a wonderful man, and from the time I was a preteen to present he's been my best friend. He's my Number 1 fan in theatre and writing, my greatest confidant and my idol. I've always had this overbearing love for my father, regardless how difficult and strained this have been in the course of my life. I am always proud of him. I always cherish his opinion. And when I find someone I love as much as him, I know I'll have it made.

But like in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites spin in the endless loop of the pride cycle, going from prospering to thoughts and actions of pride to sinning to repenting and prospering and on, my dad's life is coming full circle. He's starting to be the way he was when I was young. He's withdrawn, he's angry more readily, he's less patient with me and interested in my stories. I've had to go back to gauging his mood before I approach him with more than a sentence or two. I've had to go back to toeing the line in order to avoid pushing him over the edge.

And I'm out of practice. I've been stung a few times already.

But the book kept bothering me. Mind you, I don't think about my lesson as much during the week as I should. I get caught up in my school work and social life and thoughts of making my lesson worthwhile don't creep into my mind. But this book, this account of that man's near death experience, wouldn't leave me alone. And I hated the idea that I'd been prompted to find it only to not be able to act on the prompting and use it. It didn't seem fair that this brilliant idea would be swung in front of my eyes only to be forever behind bullet proof glass, out of reach. Something I'd continue to see but never be able to get at.

On Thursday I decided I wasn't going to take his word for it. We have a large cabinet in the living room across from his chair that we use as a bookshelf. It has a lot of different church books, but we often don't go inside it. I concluded the reason the book kept bugging me was that it must be in that cabinet, and he doesn't remember because he's too much in pain to think back that far to when he moved it from the hearth to the bookcase.

When I returned home from campus sometime after ten that night, I spoke with him briefly and then started going through the cabinet.

"What are you doing?" He asked.

"I don't believe that you threw that book away. So I'm going to look for it in here."

He told me again that it was gone, but I kept scanning spines, having absolutely no idea what I was looking for. As this notion dawned on me he told me to go turn the main lights on. As I came back from the lightswitch he was slinking out of his chair and kneeling down before the lower portion of the bookcase. He started looking.

"I know which one you're talking about. It's about that kid who died."

"Do you know what it's called?" I asked.

"No." He partially snapped, moving books to see past them.

After a moment he gave up and stood, returning to his chair. "I'm pretty sure I threw it away. Actually I know I through it away. I purposefully threw that one away."

"Why?" I asked him, beginning to be irritated that he'd do that. Why would I think I wouldn't be interested in looking at that again? It had been a few years, and lesson aside, I never even got to read the book in the first place.

"I was cleaning up for the party." He said with a note of bitterness.

I continued to scan the spines of the books in the upper portion of the bookcase, looking now for anything that might have something to do with the Creation inside. I told him he should have run that by me first and he retorted back the simple, slightly biting phrase "Okay Karl," a reference to my pack-rat grandfather. His tone was different that time, and I knew I was too close to making him furious. I dropped it and kept looking for something I could use. I found a book by Bruce R. McConkie that was in essence an encyclopedia of Church doctrine, and figured that was good enough.

I told Dad, when he asked, what I'd found, expressing it was a shame I couldn't find the other book. How I hated that I'd been so strongly prompted to find it but then not be able to act on that prompting. To try to lighten the near accusatory tone I'd just displayed, I shrugged and said "Who knows. Maybe I was supposed to look for it so I'd find this one." I jerked the McConkie book to show what I meant.

"No," Dad said. "You were meant to look for it because it has my testimony in it." His eyes started to grow watery. "That's why I threw it away. I don't care anymore."


8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I don't know God's plan. I don't know God's thoughts. I don't know where I'm going or where He sees me. I don't know how He plans to help my father, how He worked things for my brother to bring him back to the fold and back to a more docile and loving persona. I don't know why I needed to find that book, why I needed to hound him about it. I don't know what this experience will do. But I am so beyond grateful that in whatever way I could, I did something. That's all I know. God asked something of me, something that evidently had more dire effects than I'd anticipated setting out, but that He was able to use me for what He needed of me. He was able to use me, I hope, to extend another nudge my father will come to terms with eventually, and stop pretending he's angry with God. Because I'd very much like to live with both my fathers when I pass back through the veil.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

-Because there's no better title at this time.-

I never thought I'd be able to drive. I couldn't figure it out, and as the hours went on I became convinced I'd be that anomaly in a world of automobile drivers to be inept at functioning behind the wheel. I started looking at how life would be without the luxury of a car, or even the capacity to operate one. I knew there were millions who could do it, but I'd never be one of them. I couldn't do it. I couldn't see myself doing it.

I've felt the same way about a lot of things. Marriage, giving birth. I don't think it's a low self-esteem issue, something like believing I'm not good enough for it. That's not the case, and I think that's something people tend to misunderstand about me. I'm not self-conscious. I mean yes, I have my moments were a feel pudgy or not so glamorous, but everyone does; it's human nature. I'd be lying to say I'm 100% satisfied with myself 100% of the time, but those are just moments, not layers of chronic self-deprecation. I don't underestimate myself. I once had a guy tell me there was no way guys wouldn't be interested in me--like he was trying to boost my self worth so I'd leave that "relationship" with him and enter the world confident in my ability to attract men.

I've never doubted that. I've never felt I wasn't good enough for a guy, I've never felt no one would ever want me.

I've been worried I won't find the right one.

I can't see myself being married, even as marriage becomes less of a child's perspective of what her parents did and what all the old couples in the ward did and more of a thing my friends do and things my friends talk about with their boyfriends/girlfriends, I can't see it happening. *Again, I remind you, it's not that I don't think I'm good enough to get married, it's the idea that the opportunity will never fully come, the idea never realized.* Which is absurd coming from a 21 year old who's only been in one 'official' relationship and has only been seriously on the dating scene for just over a year. It's ridiculous.

But I was reminded of it as I checked my facebook just now and saw a Junior High friend's pictures of the child she birthed nearly six hours ago, and I was awoken to the fact that I can't see myself having kids. I can't see that ever happening.

It's more than that. I can't see myself as a good improviser, I can't see myself as a competent missionary, I can't see myself as a theatre teacher, I can't see myself as an accomplished author, I can't see myself as a functioning adult in society with a working knowledge of politics and taxes and current events.

I can't see these things. I've set up this barrier that prohibits me from fully experiencing life. I've created a rule for myself to hold back and hesitate just a little, because you never know. I've let my existence be wrapped and warped in doubt.

And the only way I can think to get past it is to keep going. I've used it before, but I'll use it again. I couldn't see the Improvables letting me into the troupe after those auditions. So I didn't want to go. But I pushed through and went.

I need to stop thinking life is easy, or that I can make it easy by holding back. You'll never learn to drive the car if you don't sit and focus on what you're doing. You have to train yourself to understand. You have to train yourself to perform the task. It takes brainpower and concentration. It takes focus and effort. It takes the will to try, and actively doing it constantly. But one day you realize driving's not that hard, and you just needed to relax a little bit and give yourself time.

I can get married, I can have babies, I can become sufficient at improv, I can follow my dreams and accomplish them. To do so, I have to stop telling myself they need to be in the immediate foreseeable future, and I need to kick the nasty habit of waiting for "next time."