Monday, September 7, 2009

The Fifth Dimension

I was rereading the book Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle this afternoon as a part of the book club I am in with my little brother, Chet. I read the book several times when I was a young girl, feeling very intelligent as I felt understood the basics of tessarects and wormhole travel through time and space. Rereading it opened up a world of thoughts and concepts, proving that children are habitually indoctrinated without their knowledge for years. For instance, I had no idea that the antagonist was, essentially, communism.

Additionally, I was pleased to find that the book had many delicious nuggets of wisdom, and one which I particularly enjoyed:

"'You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?'
'Yes,' Mrs. Whatsit said. 'You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.'"

This passage particularly resonated within me. It's true that things happen to us all the time, good and bad, but it's what we make of the hand we are dealt that makes us who we are. What good is a window that's never stood up to a hurricane or allowed golden rays of sunlight to pour through?

I was glad for the reminder.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Maggie and Chet on a hike in the Uintahs. Both are very interested in that sandwich.

I've been reading a book on psychotherapy and it's caused me a lot of retrospection, especially about my own sojourn in therapy, which I quit surreptitiously a month or so ago after six months of sessions. I both hated and loved therapy, and while it certainly didn't 'heal' me or erase any of the hurt I have gone through, at least it made me confront issues I would generally avoid, to my detriment.

Bob recommended that I see a therapist, though he has little faith in them. He noted that I felt better when I talked about what I was going through, and we both agreed that a professional could do no harm, that could perhaps help.

Did she help? Yeah, I think so. I still struggle though. I struggle with bitterness, with acceptance, with forgiveness, with faith, with hope. Somedays I feel so small in the face of all of my shortcomings. But somedays I feel the sun on my skin and smile just for the sake of being alive in the world. I don't remember having that for ages, before I began therapy.

So if it's been a while since you smiled to yourself over nothing at all, since you thought about how great your life was, since you did a kind deed for someone else; maybe it's time for you to think about talking to someone about your struggles.

It helped me, maybe it could help you too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Man and His Dogs

Last week, for his birthday, Bob and I went to a concert at the amphitheater on the mountain at Sundance. We sat and watched as three singer/songwriters discussed their lives and the years they had spent pouring their souls into their music. As I watched one women in particular tell us the story of her difficult years through the intensity, I found myself wishing that I had some outlet like songwriting that would enable me to internalize my feelings and express them in a healthy way.

It was then that I resolved to write more often. We'll see if I can follow through with it this time.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I love a good chick flick. I love the nascent flirtations, the beginnings of romance, the inklings that someone would be specifically designed for someone else. I love the concept of soulmates.

There's another reason that I love a good chick flick. It's the reason that I can watch ridiculous teen dramas (e.g. The O.C., Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl) back to back as un-ironically as possible; a chick flick is predictable, formulaic even. It's like a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter's night. I'll give you an example:

A boy meets girl, but something comes in between their love. Perhaps they are business enemies (You've Got Mail), they are from different classes (Ever After), or perhaps it just takes them forever to figure out they love each other (Clueless, He's Just Not That Into You). Then comes some drama, maybe he professes his unrequited love (Pride and Prejudice), he decides to marry someone else (Made of Honor, My Best Friend's Wedding), or he tries to arrest you for murdering your sister's creepy boyfriend and then bringing him back to life and killing him again (Practical Magic). Despite it all, they will get together in the end (expect for the crappy chick flicks in which they won't get together) and we live happily ever after.

See what I'm saying, it's like an old comfortable pair of pants you've worn in perfectly and will never get rid of, even though they stopped looking cute years ago.

I love a good chick flick.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ten Years

The Guardhouse at the Top of Machu Picchu. (Yeah, I'm posting new pictures one at a time to give my fellow readers something to look forward to.)

As I turned on my computer this morning and fired up my RSS reader, I was surprised to read the news that today was the tenth anniversary of the shootings at Columbine. As the day went on and everyone chatted about their surprise so much time had passed and the discussions about what everyone remembered about that day I had a lot of things flash through my mind I hadn't thought about in years.

I was an eighth grader living in the suburbs of Denver at the time, I was attending middle school on April 20, 1999. I remember the lunch room, and looking up at the clock at 11:20. Later we learned that was the time that the shooters entered the high school, but I was just checking to see how much time I had to finish my Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets. (Yeah, my middle school had fast food, didn't yours?)

That afternoon I was sitting in English. The principal came to the classroom door and murmured something to my teacher Ms Byrne (Known for her tough classes, short skirts, and love of the Denver Broncos. She would give you an A regardless of your performance if you got her something signed by a member of the team.) It was a warm spring day and she had her outside door open. She slammed it shut, locked it, and sat down at her desk looking shaken.

The rest of the day I remember in bits and pieces. I remember sitting on the bus staring out at the pond by my house wondering exactly what this would mean for me. I remember my mother's face and her nearly painful hug as I walked in from school. I remember I was wearing overalls with chapstick in the front pocket. (Yeah, and I'm sure they were sexy too.) I remember friends and relatives calling in from around the country to make sure that we were all okay.

What I remember most, and what has had the greatest impact, is what happened next. My school went under lockdown for the rest of the school year. Armed policemen (with big guns I remember) stood at the entrances and if you entered the school during school hours you had to ring a doorbell and the policemen got to scrutinize you, even if you were just coming in from a run with the rest of your gym class. I remember schools closing at a moment's notice due to bomb threats, things that were no longer stupid jokes by seniors. I remember walking the grounds at Columbine, visiting the grassy hills I had seen students fleeing from on television days earlier. We brought white flowers, and I got to see my childhood hero, Stone Phillips. I vividly remember the school sign's message, "GO BAND".

Mostly though, I remember the fear. School was always a safe place, though at times it could be scary if you had done something wrong or had a verbal report to present, but it was never dangerous. I had never had to worry about my fellow students or anything so raw as guns and bombs. School was not safe, life was not safe; a difficult concept for a thirteen-year-old to process.

I learned a lot of lessons in the aftermath of that Spring day. It was my first real interaction with mortality and the reality of life, something that I have since become intimately familiar with. There was a lot of speculation that the boys were angry because of their music, their video games, their movies, their parents, their bullies; and I understand the need to find a cause and fix the catalyst that would cause two children to mercilessly kill their classmates; but there is no way to comprehend some things that happen in our lives. They are senseless, mind-blowing, life-changing, and we must have faith that somehow there is a plan for all of us and that we don't need to have all of the answers, because someone else does.

My blog posts have all been quite heavy as of late... I suppose it's because I'm down and working through some stuff. I'll try and post some more uplifting things soonish.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Sacred Valley

Me at the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Last month we commemorated the year anniversary of the passing of my sister Jocie. It was a sad day, but mostly it was happy. As with most of these events, the anticipation is usually much worse than the day itself; I dealt with most of my demons earlier in the week. It was happy because my family made it to the one year mark, changed people, but we made it. I found the aftermath of "Jocie's accident" as my mother calls it, strange and hollow initially but now that's come to be normal. It's become normal to have an even boy/girl ratio in my family, normal to watch my parents cry, normal to have a nagging feeling when we're together that someone isn't there. Because she isn't. But even that is becoming normal. A depressing normal, but one that we need to come to terms with nonetheless.

I feel obligated in some ways to talk about these things because it's good for me, but also because I know that there are people out there suffering with loss in all of its forms; whether it's loss of a sister, friend, pet, or just a lost dream; regardless I think that the only way to get through these unthinkably difficult times is to reach out to our friends and family and to let them help shoulder the burden when we have become broken under its weight.

Unbelievably, not all that has come out of this accident is sorrowful. Most notably, my relationship with my sister Dione has changed in ways I never would have imagined before. We've always been like oil and water, as different in personalities as we are in looks, though most wouldn't realize it because we act the same in public. Now we have no choice, we have to make it work. I was sick a couple of weeks ago and Bob was out of town; Dione heard from my mother and dropped everything, driving through a blinding snowstorm to sit up the night with me before leaving early the next morning to make it to her classes. I know that we loved each other before, but I don't think that either of us would have made such a sacrifice, such a gesture. Now we appreciate our relationship; we've both lost a sister.

We've had one hell of a year, but we're still here. The relationships that weathered the storm are stronger now than ever. We are more honest, less willing to play games, and we end our conversations with "I love you." You never know when you're not going to be able to say it again.

I still have days where I can't breathe because I miss her so much, but those are spreading further and further apart, and mostly I just think about how great she was and how much I miss having her around. I don't think that I will ever stop missing her, or mourning her. I don't think there's any way to "return to normal," but there is a way to move forward. I also don't think I'll ever fully resolve the 'why' of such a senseless tradgedy, at least not in this life. But I've come to terms with that, most days anyway.

If you're ever struggling with loss or grief or know someone who is and would like to help them, I'd love to be there for you like so many people were for me. I'd love to earn the mitzvah.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Last month, Bob and I took another jet-setting adventure. This time, we went to Peru. It's taken me forever to blog about this because a lot of crap happened, and then I just got lazy. I'm not going to lie to you folks, it just wouldn't be fair.

This is a picture of the main square in Cuzco with a view of the main Cathedral. The base of this and many other buildings in Cuzco are remains of the orignal Incan temples/houses. The Spanish came, conquered the Incans, gave many of the natives smallpox, and destroyed their buildings, putting their own directly on the previous foundations. Stupid Europeans.

These are the ruins of an elaborate fort right outside the city of Cuzco called Sacsayhuamán (pronounced sort of like sexy woman). The only stones left are those that the Spanish couldn't carry off.

Machu Picchu as you first come upon it. This is definitely the most incredible place I've ever been, there was a really cool vibe about it and the place was shrouded in mystery. I suppose the clouds that habitually roll in over the mountaintops do a lot to help said mystery. Also, we hiked to the top of that mountain in the background, the one half covered in clouds. It was awesome.

We have hundreds of pictures, but I don't really have the heart to search through them all for my very favorites. If you want to see more, I guess you'll have to invite us over for dinner, or do the pop-in!

Blogging is theraputic, I'm glad to be back.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ramblings of an Ancient Courier

I dropped my car off today at the dealership to get it serviced, and got a ride home from a nice man named Carl. He instantly struck up a conversation with me about the weather, which transitioned into his former job at ARUP, which transitioned into his quitting a job at a printing company, which then further transitioned into a long discussion of his prostate cancer and the various types of radiation he had been through. In the course of a fifteen-minute car ride, I knew a fairly extensive medical history; some personal struggles, including the fact that he can't give up smoking even though he's on oxygen, his work history, a little bit about the rigors of high-dose radiation therapy on your prostate, though I personally lack one, and how nice his trailer is, you know, the one he has up behind Pineview.

In fifteen minutes, I knew an incredible amount of information, and he knew literally nothing about me besides the obvious (e.g. woman, Toyota-owner, blonde). I have a harder time opening up to people, I have this strange desire to keep everything personal about myself a huge secret. I like to think that I'm just more self-dependent, but rather I think that it's just some sort of personal failing on my part.

The Carls in the world tend to overshare, but no one wonders when they are hurting or need an extra hug. When he's around, they know what his issues are so they can avoid saying painful or uncomfortable things. Of course, he has the opposite extreme of my problem, he has no privacy or secrets, which at some times can be a good thing.

Sometimes I feel like there's a huge cavern of feelings and experiences that I am just trying to close up in order to pretend to live a 'normal' life. What am I hiding from?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I am a planner. I like looking at a difficult schedule and laying everything out in front of me. I loved signing up for classes in college each semester, watching how they played out on paper, and eventually appreciating how they played out in real life, especially for the two years when I was able to take a full day off every week for myself. I wish I had that kind of luxury now!

So imagine my chagrin when entropy has taken a firm hold on my life. I cannot plan for an unknowable future, I cannot schedule and file and it is driving me crazy. I have grown dissatisfied, waiting and wondering and being continually disappointed. I do well with the sprint, the short-term upsets, but the long unknown waiting period, I struggle with.

I am taken measures, though, to gain control of my chaotic existence. Perhaps it is a god-complex to think that by sheer will and effort of planning, I can mold my world to follow my preconceived notions of happiness and prosperity.

I feel, and I'm sure many others feel this way, that my place in the world is tenuous. Financial, emotional, political, and social instabilities run rampant. Let us all do our best to move forward, in hopes that in doing so, we can gain some sort of stasis.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Years Resolutions...

Wow, a whole year has passed since 2008 began, and now I find myself making nearly the same resolutions as I did twelve months ago... One of them at least is new though, I plan to take at least one picture a day for the whole year. I almost missed a day, but got away on a technicality, I took a picture with someone else's camera, and I'm going to count it!

January 1 - Bob and Sammi at our New Year's Eve Party (Can you spot Dave in the background?), we had a lot of fun preventing Sammi from eating various foods, children, and precious children's toys.

January 2 - Bob and Mike with their tough-men beards. It seems to be impossible for Bob to keep his eyes open during a picture. Where's your beard-card, Mike?!

January 3- This is the day when I didn't take a picture with my own camera, so I include here a picture of Sammi during our Christmas break. We were about to head out snowshoeing and I dressed Sammi in her new sweater (made by myself), though she got quite cold anyways.

January 4 - Now that we have church at nine, we have reclaimed our Sunday afternoons! This is Bob hiking in the foothills behind Draper, where the dogs are free to get lost as much as they want.

January 5 - Bob's stuck in Utah Valley due to inclement weather, so I pulled out the self-portrait card tonight. I think I thought that was a coy smile at the time...