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Thursday

Older brother

I come from a family of eight kids. I am the seventh, and I have a little brother. There was an unspoken rule in our house that the youngest never got picked on, mainly because he was the youngest and not as strong as the oldest, and so that wouldn't really be that fair. I'm now entering a new family, and I am by far the oldest. It's interesting how the dynamics change when you go from the most picked on, to the oldest and the only one that isn't born in the family. I also don't play golf, in a family of golf players. I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean, but I must say this...this in-law stuff is hard. I have great future in-laws, they treat me like a son, they take me out, give me hugs, and ask on me for the prayer, but how do you balance this life of a family that you've loved and have come from, and a new family that is different and yet the two of you are working so hard to bring it in together.
Do you ever love them as much as you loved those who you grew up with?

Monday

Final post, or maybe not...

I never liked the idea of blogging. First, I’m not very consistent at the whole journal thing, second, I’m not sure I want people to be reading my journal, and lastly the word blog just sounds gross. Luckily I also care about my grade, and with Sister Steadman asked us to blog throughout the semester I did it purely for academic achievement. Luckily she had a plan, and it worked. There is a release when you blog, or write down the random thoughts that have been floating around your head. They sit up there, waiting for you to do something with them, and normally I just let them go, and the slowly drift away. That’s I guess what a blog is, it is like an idea catcher, you know akin to the dream catchers that we made in elementary school when we were talking about Native Americans. It just sucks in all of these ideas and then they just sit there waiting for you to do something with them. And normally you don’t do anything, but at least they’re now out there. Thank you blog, thank you idea catcher.

List of grievances

I’m engaged. I’m very happy about the fact, but there seems to be a number of prevailing myths surrounding people who are engaged. I don’t know if they are true in general, but I don’t feel most of them are true about me. Namely:
1. Engaged people only hang out with their fiancé(e)
2. Engaged people become inactive in their own wards
3. Engaged people are no fun
4. Massive amounts of p.d.a.
5. Blissfully unaware of faults or inadequacies
6. Have no idea what they are getting into
7. Stop being reliable
8. Begin to hate the in-laws
9. Are overwhelmed by wedding plans
10. The men are completely unaware of said wedding plans
11. Disregard others
I hope I’m not that, and if that’s what marriage plans due to you, lame.

Thai and Kyrgy

I’m planning on going on an internship this summer to Thailand. Last fall I spent my time in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, also on an internship. Today both of these countries had a revolution. I’ve never really been part of a revolution, but it made me start thinking about another blessing that is mine as a resident of the United States. Revolutions, political coups are not necessary in order to bring about widespread political change. Two relatively young democracies are struggling to understand one of the core institutions of a democracy, that of change of politicians at the highest level. In order to change a politician, democracy is intended to provide a bloodless, political way to remove the ill favored leader, and replace him with someone more in line with the standards and desires of the country, and her people. I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles and looking at pictures of the revolutions. In addition to my dismay over the persistent disregard for the peaceful alternative to a bloody revolution, I am also saddened by the images that are spread throughout much of the western media. Here are people, dying to have their voice be heard, and we only give them voice to vent when they begin to riot. Where is the voice of the composed, the powerful composed people? Where is their voice when they are reasonable, rational, intelligent decision makers? By giving voice to the violent, we in turn encourage the violence to continue.

Free thinking blog

I went to the grocery store yesterday, and I couldn’t stop using critical theory. Advertisements are ripe with the need for interpretation. We have student in our 251 class who is in advertising, I wonder if he knows that he only has a few milliseconds to draw my attention, but then when he has it he has to succeed close examination. I don’t think I’d like that responsibility, Howard Gossage liked it, and he invented a whole new era of advertising, built on irony and paper airplanes. Astronauts judged the airplanes, back when astronauts were the end all be all occupation. It still is for men today, but the problem is that they don’t really go into space. So they just train and train and train in case one day there is a need to go out into space and drill a hole in an asteroid and blow that sucker to smithereens. Like space cowboys, which was just a movie that was made so a bunch of old guys could get together and ride horses and pretend to be in outer space, and they were only pretending, because they weren’t really astronauts. I think Tom Hanks does a good fake astronaut.

Tuesday

Free Agency

Othello and Night and the poems of Peter have caused me to question of free agency. In primary and on my mission we often talked about free agency as this beautiful gift from Heavenly Father that is just a part of the plan for us to return to Him. The problem is that in Othello and Night, and in some of the poems about Peter the question is not so much about a persons ability to choose his complete destiny. Eliezer and Desdemona were stripped of much of their freedom. Cassio and Othello became instruments for destruction because of their willingness to trust and listen to people, which would appear to be a good use of free agency. I guess the question that I keep coming back to is that free agency doesn't always make sense in the primary and missionary use of the term.

It's not a matter of listening and choosing what's right. Sometimes you are offered only bad choices, and sometimes you are the victim of poor decisions of others. At other times, times that are just as hard (although initially they don't appear as such), we are forced to choose between a number of options that are all equally good. We choose, and that choice doesn't work, and we choose another, and that also doesn't work out, but yet Heavenly Father still refuses to remove our ability to choose. He didn't take away Iago's agency, he didn't stay the hand of the fascist nazis, he didn't stop Peter from denying Christ, or the hands of the Roman soldiers from crucifying his son. He honors our agency, and that may be the greatest wonder of them all.

Monday

Appetizers

Hors-d'œuvre, antipasto, appetithappen, 开胃食品, закуска, Blasyn.
I've never been one for lists...
Spinach artichoke dip,
Potato skins,
Buffalo wings,
Chips and salsa,
Bruschetta,
Sliders,
Jalepeno poppers,
Quesadilla,
Nachos,
Chicken wings,
Pizza margherita,
Thai lettuce wraps,
Egg rolls,
Popcorn chicken,
Awesome blossom,
Stuffed mushrooms,
Grapes,
Brie (although that's better afterwards),
Cheeseball,
Pesto scallops,
Anything with triscuits.

Appetizers make me do things I normally wouldn't do. Especially spinach artichoke dip.

Friday

Peter and Emma

In our English class yesterday we read a number of poems and opinions on the apostle Peter. They poets themselves didn't appear to always have a positive opinion of Peter, and they presented their opinions throughout the poems. While that makes sense for a person who doesn't come from a religious understanding that is developed and shaped by modern revelation, it became difficult to stomach as classmate after classmate expressed similar opinions of Peter. One comment in particular has stuck with me, and made me continue to reevaluate the way that we talk about prominent historical figures. There was a class member who stated that we didn't really know what was going on in Peter's life, and then went on to show that David sinned, and Emma Smith "went crazy at the end of her life."

I couldn't let this one comment go. Peter remains one of the most noble spiritual children of our Heavenly Father. He was instrumental in the restoration, and he is the symbol of the power of the the Melchezidek Priesthood. Emma Smith was one of the staunchest supporters of the prophet Joseph. She lost her own family when she married and supported Joseph, and then lost child after child in part to the hardships she endured with her husband. She remained faithful to her testimony to the very end, and decided that she did not want to travel West and leave the nth home she had made. She supported her only biological son when he started another Church, but never denied or fell away from the Church her husband had given her life for. Emma Smith should not be used as a person who fell away, she should be used as an example of what it means to be dilligent in their testimony.

Thursday

In response to Disney's flirting with the line.

I was reading a fellow English 251 student's blog questioning the lines that are drawn. I don't think she was wrong in her thoughts, or her conversation with her mom, but I don't like the connection that is drawn between Ariel's selfish behavior, and the use of mistakes and repentance in the bible to show the power of redemption and pain.
I think one of the main differences between the bible and the people screwing up in the bible, and Disney's portrayal of incorrect behavior, is that the bible focuses on the bad behavior and labels it as incorrect. I'm not saying we shouldn't watch Disney, because if we limit ourselves that much we probably will have nothing to discuss, but I don't feel that the Little Mermaid and the story of David and Beth-sheba are adequate similes for one another.
In the Little Mermaid Ariel does anything and everything to get her way, and we celebrate it. David does the same thing in the bible, and we condemn him. There seems to be a disconnect in the idea that if we are going to accomplish our goals, nothing should stand in our way, not family, not honesty, nothing, and we only celebrate that if it's accompanied with singing fish.
Disney's The Little Mermaid shouldn't be banned from schools and taken out of a families' personal film collection, but I don't think Ariel should be glorified for being obstinate either.

Wednesday

The Song of Cummings

This poem kept reminding me of Songs of Solomon, and seeing as how I just posted a diatribe on the Songs I thought I should publish the updated and sweeter sounding version.

I carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings

Another Old Testament Post

I’m becoming too fascinated with the Old Testament. I refer back to it every time I read something else. I guess the most popular book in the history of the world probably has enough insights in it to fill a blog for a semester, so maybe it’s not the end of the world.

I read the Songs of Solomon the other day, and I had an insight that changed the way I saw the book. Here is a book that we largely ignore because of how erotic it seems. We’ve come up with ways to take the edge off of the apparent love poems between a husband and a wife, insisting that it was instead a metaphor for the relationship between Israel and God, but I don’t buy that. I think it is exactly what it seems to be, an erotic love poem. The problem is that we just don’t talk about that in the society I grew up in. You barely talk about it with your parents, you certainly don’t discuss it with your friends, and you never ever talk about it with people of the opposite sex.

We show sex as object lessons of ink dying an entire jar of water, or putting a nail into a piece of wood. Something that is bad and disgusting and ugly and should not be mentioned. And then one day you get married and sealed in the temple, and all of the sudden all bets are off and not only is it no longer ugly and gross, but it is something that you are expected to understand. There is something wrong with that, can’t we address sex the same way we talk about baptism or receiving your endowment? It seems that it should be a beautiful, wonderful, incredible experience that brings you closer to Heavenly Father under the right authority. I would probably be frustrated if I saw two 17 year olds pretending to baptize one another, but I wouldn’t tell them that baptism is disgusting or gross. The Songs of Solomon seem to try to walk that line. Expressing and showing that this is a beautiful moment for a married couple, but it should only occur within that bond.

I still don’t think I’ll be comfortable if my Dad tries to give me a sex talk, I’ve gone 24 years being uncomfortable talking about it, but at least now I know where to turn in the scriptures for a little guidance on the matter. Maybe that will be a FHE evening one night with my future wife.

The rise and fall of Esther

After writing the previous post I returned my thoughts to the Old Testament story of Esther. Esther, I think is one of those stories that is oft told in young women’s’ classes as a way to empower and encourage chaste young women to have faith and everything will work out. That at least is the way I viewed the story for a long time, but after reading night, and reading the story of Esther a little more critically then I would have in the past, it seems that the author of Esther was using Haman and Mordecai to contrast one another. With the rise of power of Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, Haman loses his stranglehold on the King. This is the part of the story that normally we cheer and give thanks that the good guys one, but when I started comparing the two characters a little more carefully, I wasn’t sure if I should be cheering for either one.

Both Haman and Mordecai share a number of similarities. They control the king through indirect power (Mordecai controls through Esther, Haman controls through the previous queen), they order the slaughter of the opposing character’s people (Mordecai succeeds in slaughtering the sons and daughters and followers of Haman), they both manipulate the king to carry out their orders, they both become de facto rulers of the region, they encourage the king to use capital punishment to enforce their proposed laws, and neither of them attribute their power to God. Mordecai no longer appears as the Abel to the Cain of Haman, maybe they were both just power hungry, maybe it’s just a metaphor, maybe the good thing to do is sometimes too similar to the wrong thing for me to distinguish.

The rise and fall of Haman and Mordecai, that’s what I think I’ll refer to Esther as from now on.

The Beatles, one of them, maybe

I’ve been stuck on Moishe the Beadle for some time now, ever since reading Elie Wiesel’s night. Here is a character that comes into the story at the beginning, appears headed for an important role in the story, and then disappears, never to really be seen again once he leaves for the second time. Wiesel’s night is filled with characters who are intimately involved in his development as a person, and a number of actors who affect his relationship with God, himself and his father. Moishe though seems to be a foil for Eliezer’s father. When the relationship between Elie and his father is weak, Eliezer turns to Moishe and looks for the support and love that he craves. Moishe returns that love and interest, and even offers to work with Eliezer to understand the holy writ that his Father doesn’t want Eliezer to touch. Moishe is offering himself up as a proxy to that father that Eliezer so desperately desires as a fifteen year old boy. Once the relationship with his Dad strengthens, Eliezer no longer has a need to continue his understanding thoughts and insights that Moishe offers. Here is where they diverge, when Moishe is fully aware of the doom that is to come to Eliezer he leaves, whereas the cold and understanding father stays with Eliezer throughout. Part of him staying may have been because he had no escape, but in contrast to Moise the Beadle, when the father finally leaves the picture for good, it is the end of Eliezer, it is the end of his story. Moishe seems to be just a contrasting relationship with the relationship that Eliezer has with his father. It is this contrast that gives the newly developed father relationship so much life, and so much purpose. Moishe is a surface relationship, and Eliezer seeks a deeper one, and finds it, with his father.

Magic Chocolate

I went to the grocery store yesterday and while wandering about the massive aisles of baking good found the magical chocolate that is controlled by mothers everywhere. My mom was particularly good at transforming good tasty chocolate that went into pudding and cake and cookies, and then when you would sneak into the big blocks of chocolate in the middle of the night, and grab a piece, they would lose all of their sweetness. I don't understand that chocolate.

Paisley

I don't understand the word paisley, is it a color? I thought it was, I thought is was one of those colors that men are never supposed to really understand or know what the women are talking about when she says that she wore paisley pants the other day. Normally it's my job just to comment on the alliteration of the comment, and not to actually understand what it means. I'm less sure that it's a color now, and possibly think that it's more of a shape, you know the awkward almost tear drop shape that is prevalent on ties. If the latter is the case I need to learn the meaning of the word, for while knowing the many shades of the color pink is definitely not required to be a successful father, knowing the various shapes and types of ties is requisite for having sons.

Type scenes

I've been thinking about type-scenes recently. Those scenes in books that repeat themselves oft, and the most meaning that you get from them is when comparing them to one another and noticing the difference. This fascination started while reading the Old Testament and comparing it to the Book of Mormon, and seeing the patterns and consistency in both. The type scene that I'm curious about right now though is the manifestation of a member of the Godhead. There seems to be a recurring pattern in the scriptures when it occurs, and likely it would extend beyond the Bible and the Book of Mormon. There is a period of introspection, usually associated with worthiness or reflection on the words of a prophet who had come before. There is a resolve to go out and seek an answer. This resolve is met by a small confirmation. The Heavenly Messenger appears, and declares their intentions. The prophet asks the question, and then not only receives an answer, but then proceeds to go on a quest. The quest results in the prophet being called on a journey to be a great help to those around him, and the manifestation closes. Following the manifestation there is often a period of recovery and reflection, and then the prophet goes and declares the word.
As I was thinking about this type-scene, I couldn't help but realize that it bore a close resemblance to the hero's journey. Too many connections, too many cool applications.
English classes are totally interfering with my normally mind wandering scripture study.

Thursday

Guiltless Pleasure


Few things in this world which we navigate,

Are there helping us to quickly escape.

So I solace found in food which I ate;

From soup to bread, and meat and juice of grape.

But the one I cherish, of which I boast,

Forces grown men to stop, and to linger.

Oft compared to hot choc'late and to toast,

It is lapping pudding from one's finger.

One lick is all, and you'll relive the joy,

Of sneaking past your mom to confiscate

The prized possession of each wily boy.

And then indulging in the flavor great.

I stole the taste blatant and not ashamed,

And now alone at home guiltless remain.

Monday

Archetype

After finishing our last class on dancing through the decades, my mind kept going back to the discussion of relating the decades to the type of music and dance that existed. I'm not sure whether music is simply another form of expression of if music is the catalyst for change. One thing that caught me off guard though was the prevalence of the President of the United States of America as an archetype for the decade in general. The president though seems to be a few years behind the general population, but in the end remains a symbol of the values that the people held dear.

In the 1940's the United States entered and ended the second World War. They became the world's predominant power (along with the Soviet Union) and the succession of presidents from FDR to Truman was a symbol of prosperity, nationalism, comfort, solidarity, contentedness. The country was happy with their choices, and most of all with the fact that women went back to the homes after having gone out to work.

In the 1950's the United States was the predominant power in the world, prosperity reigned, the only threat was the communists and their empire in the East. Dwight Eisenhower, powerful commander, symbol of success, imposing handshake, and an impressive three letter nickname, he was the symbol of all that is good in the United States of America (the USA loved IKE).

JFK epitomized the 60's. Trouble was on the horizon, but for now, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, maybe we could put off confrontation for another few years. He was hostile, volatile, and charismatic, and the last untouchable President. His assassination ushered in a new era of politics of distrust and a degradation of nationalism.

No one embodied this distrust for the nation more so than Richard Nixon and his epic fall from the office of the President. Just like the presidency, the 70s were filled with people living lies hoping to put off facing the truth of drugs and violence, just long enough to get out of the way.

Reagan, and his unending enthusiasm, his hope of one day finally accomplishing all that Reaganomics claimed to be, epitomized the 80s. They were the party, bright colors, the king of pop, everyone having a good time and trying to forget the previous decade.

Clinton, the 90s, a new hope for a new world order, lies, deceit, the elimination of morals from mainstream America, boy bands.

And now, in the last decade we've gone from patriotic fervor to the old levels of distrust with Bush, and finally Obama has shown that the subcultures rule in the new millennium. There no longer is a dominant fashion, music, dance, food, culture, but rather the eclectic, the new, the modern, the departure from the troubled past, that's what will define this decade.

Maybe if I want to be elected President one day, I just need to pay attention to dress and music. Then again, if I wanted to be elected President, I probably shouldn't post this.

Sunday

Not a post of sadness

The previous post had little to nothing to do with sadness, or girl problems. It was just a gchat conversation to my roommate as we sat in the same room and my pretty little girl busted the plastic spiral that had fallen off of my cook book that I acquired from my mother and quickly fashioned into a promise ring. It's great to love someone.

promise ring

oh she destroys my presents, and then explains how she's better than I am
sadness
I didn't mean to crush your heart
but look it fits better now
in this square peg
silly round heart

Thursday

First post

There is this community of blogging that I've been on the outside looking in. It feels like one of those groups in elementary school where there is a separate lingo, a shared lunch time, a set of understood humor, and I'm one of the kids who sits on the side, puts his legs inside his sweater so that maybe they'll just mistake him for a rock. The word itself screams of lingo, blog, which by itself, removed from the context it fairly gross sounding, and not appealing. I guess now I'm just standing on the edge, with my hands behind my back hoping someone notices and comes over and invites me into the game.

The date of no longer official singleness (official means legally)