Look Santa, I don't want some (blank)ing one liner.

It's last night and I'm in line at Disneyland to ride the Matterhorn. In the middle of a crowd of people, my party and I wait for our turn just near the front of the line. I glance to my right and see Santa Claus--an older, chubby man with a long, white beard, white handlebar mustache, red t-shirt and red trucker cap that reads, "SANTA." At first I look past him, pretending I don't see. But I repent of this and look at him. "So, what do you do in the off season?" I sincerely ask.

"OH, HO HO HO HO HO! I COME HERE TO DISNEYLAND, OF COURSE!" His wife, a small woman with short brown hair and a navy blue windbreaker, chuckles, and then smiles at her husband's comment. "I WATCH OVER THE KIDS HERE AND LOOK FOR THE GOOD BOYS AND GIRLS!" He gives me this squinty-eyed Santa smile from behind his mustache and beard.

"Uh-huh," I reply. I feel like saying, "What I mean is, do you have kids you see or a job you work at or even a dog? What does your life consist of when you aren't playing a fictional character at the mall? Do you cut your (blank)ing beard or actually have a (blank)ing life or do you just get depressed for eleven months because your life is meaningless? There's got to be more to you than a character." But I don't. I just stand there, awkwardly smile, and wait to move forward in line.

So much for a real conversation.


Spider Adventures

The adventures of the Spider in the Abode House.
(everyone probably didn't consent to this)


My Christmas Eve (Merry Christmas to my WC family)

Christmas Eve, and I’ve just washed my hands of the oil basting the turkey. Outside the snow is everywhere. It continues to fall, tiny flakes lost in the bright gray sky. I think the last time we had a white Christmas was 12 years ago, when the hill on Lonsdale Ave was so packed with snow that people decided to ski down it Christmas morning. My parents are in the living room, looking worriedly at the falling snow, hoping that our guests will be able to come. We always invite the “lonely” over for Christmas dinner—old widows, stranded young couples, the missionaries, new immigrants to Canada, and the house is filled with the noise of 15 people and 2 or 3 different languages.

The house is still right now, from the living room Nat King Cole sings “O Holy Night”. My parents and I are waiting for potatoes to finish boiling, and for the next hour to be up so that we can baste the turkey again. I say we, but this year they decided to delegate most of the cooking labor to me, figuring that I could use the experience because “one day [I’ll] be a dad and will have to know how to do Christmas dinner”. I don’t point out that dads in North America sometimes do more to ruin Christmas dinner than anything. In my family my mom stays away from the ham and the turkey. That is dad’s territory. She worries about everything else, the potatoes, the yams, the stuffing, and half a dozen other things that I’m probably not aware of. She worries about the snow on the driveway, and sidewalk.

Dad this year is passing on his tradition of cooking the turkey to me. He stood by and told me how to defrost the turkey, taking care to wash it in the laundry sink (because it was a lot easier to wash it there than in the kitchen) and warning me to not let the turkey touch the sink itself because “who knows what kind of chemicals are there, it’s the laundry room”. Some cynical part of me thinks that he’s letting me do the turkey because he doesn’t want to haul the big bird all around the house. After the turkey, he has me slice the ham. He leans in with his hands behind his back, poking his face towards the ham and asks me about families in America: “Does the mom or dad carve the turkey?” I have no answer. I wasn’t paying attention the last few times.

The snow keeps falling. About a couple of hours ago I shoveled away the 8 inches
covering the driveway. The snow is undoing my work; 2 fresh inches of powder pile in the driveway. A crow caws in the muffled stillness of the snow. Its calls and the sound of water dripping into icicles are the only sounds outside. No one is dumb enough to drive around in the weather. North Vancouver’s hills are treacherous, this morning no one has cleared the roads.

Dad comes into room just minutes after my mom came in to tell me to eat lunch (breakfast). He complains about how Mom has been worrying about the snow all morning. “If she would just not worry about it, I’ll deal with it later,” he says. Funny enough, he worries about it probably more than she does. I hand my dad the Emma DVD we bought for mom. My mother is terrible about keeping secrets for Christmas, she usually buys herself something and gets my Dad to wrap it for her. Last year, two days before the big day, she came into my room to show me the $5 bargain bin book of British poetry that she got me for Christmas. I had a mini-freak-out at her. “Couldn’t you not show me for two more days?!” Dad and I always try to be sneaky about her “real” present from us, to counter the “fake” present from us.

I wonder about gifts. The older I get the less I get. But what about giving back to Christ in the Christmas? What gift can you give to the creator of all things, because as King Benjamin says, “if ye shall serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath…if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” Despite this we try, we try to keep the commandments because that’s all he asks for. But can we give more? “The Little Drummer Boy” comes to mind, with no gift to bring except playing his drum the best for the Christ child. Give our talents for Christmas? Give ourselves to Christ for Christmas?

In all of this stressing and cooking, I’m not feeling the energy and excitement of Christmas. No more excitement for gifts. It’s buried outside in the snow. Instead I’m aware that I’m not sure how many more of these Christmases I’ll have with my parents. This year, they’re passing on the last (only) major Lee family tradition: cooking. Part of me is worried that this is the last torch to pass on, their legacy. I know I’m wrong but it’s still there. What can I give back to my parents this Christmas that is not a DVD or a book, or whatever it is my mom has bought herself in my name? Perhaps all I can really give is a promise to carry on their traditions and charity.

Maybe without stressing about the driveway too much.

Merry Christmas friends.

Edit- That's my turkey. :)



I will admit it: I called home nearly every day this past semester. But it wasn’t because I was homesick or because I needed anything (even though I would sometimes pick my brain apart trying to come up with something I needed or a question I wanted to ask so my mom wouldn’t think I called without purpose). I just love chatting with my mom and dad.

It is understandable, then, why I was greatly anticipating my return home over Christmas Break. The mental image of my reunion with parents and siblings was a happy one: embraces, laughs, easy conversation. In fact, I pictured the entire break as one big joke-chuckle-hug-sing-play-game fest.

I suppose you could call the reality of my break thus far a disillusionment. Don’t get me wrong: there have been many laughs and hugs, and plenty of singing around the piano and playing games. But things are … different.

I arrived home last Wednesday at 3:00AM. I opened the door to my room, only to find my three brothers sprawled out in their beds asleep.
“Umm…Dad?” I began.
“Oh, we’ve made a few changes since last time you were home, Kaitlin. You’ll have to sleep on the couch tonight, and tomorrow we’ll put Taylor’s old mattress in the toy room for you to sleep on.”
“I don’t have a bed?”
Dad laughed. “Well, Kaitlin, you don’t live here anymore!”

True that.

So that first night, I accepted (quite gracefully I think) the fact that I was now a guest in my own home. It had to happen at some point. Besides, there is a positive side to being the “guest.” No chores, little responsibility … a perfect episode of relaxation in between semesters.

But not.

“Kaitlin, will you go clean up your stuff in the toy room?”

The question caught me off guard a little bit. The last time I was asked to clean up my room was last summer: the last time I lived at home. Certainly, no one had asked this of me in Rexburg. The funny thing is, my room in Rexburg is nearly spotless.

“Kaitlin, wake up! It’s nearly 9:30! Good grief, I hope you don’t sleep in this late every day in college.”

True, it is nearly 9:30, but it’s vacation. Besides, I’m a guest, right? And just so you know, I wake up at least by 7:30 Sunday-Friday when I’m at college.

“Kaitlin, maybe you should go running today.”
Maybe. But somehow, I just don’t have the motivation. In Rexburg, however, I go at least four times a week.

Indeed, the break has not exactly played out as I had imagined it would. I love my family, but I do not love the guest-but-still-a-child role they have flung upon me. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. The Lord is telling me it is time to grow up and move on, and I am ready to do so.

My Flexor Digitorum Longus and a Blanket

Last week I ran four miles on the treadmill upstairs in my parents’ room, I have never run that long before and I felt a bit of triumph pumping in my veins. Unfortunately, little did I know, but triumph really hurts the arch of your right foot when you are finished. Every time I take a step, I feel a little prick below my inside ankle, like a rock is stuck in the inside of my shoe. I usually forget about the hurt foot and reach down to get the blasted rock out of the inside of my shoe, but realize I’m not even wearing one.

Yesterday, I had the genius to “walk it off,” but on the treadmill, and more like running. It didn’t help.

This morning I woke up; and with my head face down in my pillow, I lazily slapped around my night stand looking for my cell phone. It said 8:30AM. Having gone to bed at 2:00AM and no job to show up for, I desperately tried to go back to sleep. But now, instead of a prick in my imaginary shoe, my foot was being strangled by an imaginary foot murderer. I limped up the stairs, half asleep, hoping that someone would notice and offer to pamper me. No such luck.

I flopped into my chair and opened the google-gate of information. After investigating many pictures and explanations, I determined that my foot pain was attributed to my flexor digitorum longus: the tendon that connects to the big toe, wraps underneath the ankle, and reaches up to the calf. It mirrored the pains in my foot. I felt so accomplished, like a combination of Monk and House.

With pride, I told my dad my differential diagnoses (I learned that one by watching House). He suggested I find a heat pad and take some Tylenol. I looked in a couple of closets in vain and thought that maybe if I laid on the couch to think about where I saw it last, I’d think of where it was. Obviously, I got distracted looking out the window, and I traced the artificial clouds back to the airplanes going to and from BWI airport. I heard my dad walking into the kitchen and back out. His footsteps stopped. I couldn’t see him because I was wearing my gray sweatshirt and the hood blocked my view. He came over and peeked around over the couch.

“I thought you were sleeping.”

“Nope, I’m just looking outside at the airplanes.”

“Oh ok. Well here you go; I thought you might need this.” My dad put a blanket over me, and made sure it covered my feet.

With his twenty-two year old son lying on the couch, thinking I was asleep, my dad showed me how much he loves me. I cannot remember a time in my life when I felt such a strong connection with my father. The thought led me to ponder all the times he must have shown his love when he thought I wasn’t paying attention.

With a blanket to cover my feet, I smiled.


The Treadmill

"We need to take the door off."

"How on earth did you get it through here the first time without the door off?"

"I just said, we took the door off."


"I'll go find a screwdriver."

"All you need is a butterknife. That's what I used last time I came home and found my door propped up against my bed."

"Can't you just knock out the middle hinge with a hammer? That's what Lonnie did."

"Mom, the middle thing is part of the hinge. We can't just hit it with a hammer."

"Well, I don't see why not..."

"I found a butter knife- "

We have a treadmill. It's big and bulky, and my sister, who's gone 9 months out of the year, is the only person who ever uses it. Friday night we posted it on craigslist, and Saturday morning a man in Moses Lake bought it via paypal - he said he'd be here at 11 am Monday morning to pick it up.

Monday morning, 10 am.

My sister and I didn't get to sleep until sometime after 3 am due to a prolonged scrabble game involving the creative use of insults in tile form, sparkling cider, and a bag of truffles. It's snowing again, and my mom keeps yelling at the window, threatening dire consequences if the weather doesn't knock it off. My sister and I have chocolate hangovers and can barely stand up straight. The treadmill is down the hall in my sister's room, and somehow we have to get it to the living room, since we want the treadmill man in our house as little as possible (We had some worries about the guy being a creepy axe murderer, but decided there were plenty of people in Moses Lake, and he probably wouldn't bother driving two hours in the middle of winter just to kill us. My sister volunteered to stay hidden with a phone and her wooden curtain rod, just in case, but really she just crawled back into bed and passed out).

My sister and I have the combined arm strength of a small 4-year old, and though my mom is stronger, she constantly injures herself and is obsessed with not scratching her walls. The treadmill folds up, but is still too wide and only fits through our hall and doorways sideways. This meant pushing and shoving it over the carpet, after we got my sister's door off the hinges and wedged the treadmill through into the hallway.

After much arguing, cursing, and bruising, we decided to put a clear vinyl shower curtain underneath the treadmill, hoping to make it more slideable, and it sort of worked. Then we got stuck by the wooden stairs we bought at the fair 16 years ago, and stood there for five minutes, trying to figure out what to do. My mother kept trying to convince me to unscrew the railing (It's a long railing, and did I mention that the power drill's battery was missing, so we were using a little hand screw driver from the sale bin at Sears?), my sister was all for forcing the treadmill past, who cares about the walls, and I tried to remember how on earth my brother and I had gotten the treadmill past the stairs last time. Finally I kicked the stupid stairs, and remembered - they move if you kick them hard enough. That obstacle overcome, we just had the upward slope of our wonderful old house to navigate, while my sister yelled about how normal houses didn't have uphill slopes, and my mom obsessed about a missing cd that supposedly came with the treadmill, but no one else remembers it.

Finally, half an hour after we started, we shoved the treadmill into the living room and collapsed.

And then the treadmill man (who was neither creepy nor a murderer, but quite nice) and his brother came, picked up the treadmill, and carried it out to their truck.

Sometimes, guys are incredibly irritating.

Here's my good friend,Eric, without oars over his head.

He's the one wearing (what Crystal and I call) a New York hat in the group. Then, we have Crystal and Danny, and Nate and Shannon (Shani).
IT'S NEVER GOING TO STOP SNOWING, IS IT? I've driven around and up and down my driveway 1000 times, and in the morning? I'm now too tired from shoveling snow for Christmas.


Why Would They Sing?

I sat in the 2nd row pew of church and tried to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” over the crying baby in the row behind and my thoughts wandered to the angelic choirs, Hallelujah choruses drifting between stars like spun sugar to shepherds. Then I wondered: are there angels at every child’s birth? Not just the ones with smiling parents, but those greeted with heartache as well, leftovers of broken love, whose lives may not last longer than the ten minutes of their screaming breath, ringing in the ears of an unwilling mother. And those children brushed by war’s shrapnel, are angels heralding their births as well?

And if they do sing, what is the aria that welcomes a child? Does it hide them from our world? It must be a variation of that “Song of Redeeming Love” that we have felt before, a carol of grace that is “mighty to save” for His name’s sake, the reverent psalm that announced the Christ child’s birth, the last strains of the celestial before mortal eyes open.

It’s the song of heavenly hosts on Bethlehem’s silent night, when all of us fell on our knees and beheld our king, He that was born to give us our second birth, or rather another chance to hear the angels on high repeat what was once sung in royal David’s city.

edit- Spun, not spilled or powdered sugar.


Favorite pic of Leanna

I love this pic of Leanna and Travis Washburn because she feels so strongly about whatever she's saying. And Travis is looking like, "Hmmm...I think that's true, but I'm not real sure."

Is anyone seeing these pictures as I try to introduce all of you? Scroll down. Many intros.

OK, Top two pics and last one are of another girl-I-miss, caretaker, partner in crime, best friend Jami, who had the nerve to go see MaMaMia! in New York last week without me. By the way, Jami--our sexist language expert--what are they going to do about "freshmen"? And I have a New York hat, but what are hooker boots? I want some.
Eric is the only guy in this bunch--lucky man.

And Katie meet Shannon (Shani), who I hope is going to be working with you this semester. Sorry I yelled at you over church post, Shannon. I have felt as you did. When we moved from back east to Provo, a girl across the street was playing "Come, Come ye Saints" on the piano. I sat on the porch and listened and never wanted her to stop. I felt very safe. But, that particular post was touchy; we were all trying to be very respectful of each other's truthful feelings (which is this blog always, I hope), and your post was pretty overwhelming. Julie's post was nicely "audience-related."Glad you're back. Coming to work? I hope? Send your schedule e-mail to Matt esq. Did you bring us back presents from China? You'll love talking to Chan.

Katie, I forgot. Steph doesn't come on here, but you can reach her through facebook. I hope you send her your comments.


Connections--the deeper kind undefined.

I wish I could write about a bird I’ve seen recently, but I’ve been inside the chocolate factory working all day, all week. I’m going home this weekend, and we have birdfeeders, so if they haven’t migrated yet, I might write about the little gold finches that, upside down, pluck the tiny seeds out of the feeders with their beaks.

I’ve decided to write something anyway, just something fun to share (as if I haven’t posted enough on here, sorry). And, it has nothing to do with my previous anonymity.

At the chocolate factory I work with old ladies that have perfect rosy circles for blush on their cheeks, and the same pinkish lipstick, if it’s not bright red to match their Christmas sweaters. And I love all of them. I call them the chocolate ladies.

I explained to one lady that I had worked on the other side of the store (twisting pretzels and scooping custard) and she replied: “Could you even see over the counter back then? You’re just a shorty.”

The main lady always has the same reply to the customers’ questions that sound like: “So are you a granddaughter?” Her responses are variations of “No, but she could be! My Jordon’s coming home from his mission soon.” (It’s a little awkward, but that’s a whole other story. Maybe it could be a twist to the Momance if I decide to share more of it later.)

But my favorite lady is Marka. I worked two days with her without knowing her name; then I finally asked my boss. Marka is from Germany; she is younger (45 maybe?) and doesn’t wear make up. She doesn’t need it. Every morning she says “Goot morn-ning, Katie, how are you?” And her accent is soft.

The first day (I didn’t even know her) when I was in her way, she teasingly slapped the back of my hair and made it flip up as if to say “Excuse me!” Other times when I’m in her way she’ll spurt out: “Retreat!” or “AttenTION!” It sounds military to me, yet hers is always a rough, soft, playful voice.

She fills the chocolate trays faster than we can sell them. Whenever she comes to the front counter where I work, she starts talking quietly, making quiet jokes. (Not like Matty, because his quiet hilarity is more intentional.) It’s like she’s just starting to learn what Americans joke about, or their idioms, and she laughs in rough spurts until I get her joke. Then, due to my laughter, she laughs harder knowing I understood, and that she was understood.

Today as I knelt on the store’s floor behind the candy counter to pack a large box of chocolates (they were on the lower shelf) she said to the cashier: “Katie is very down to earth.” Ha. Get it? She used one of our idioms as a joke. She jokes often, and her attempts amuse me.

I have a tendency to think that people with accents aren’t as smart because they can’t speak our language ‘right.’ But I know this is faulty, and I’m pushing past that first inclination. Marka is smart, and is more of a person as I get to know her. She has just started to share bits of her life with me.

There’s something about her and that has created one of those connections I can’t explain. I’ll be sad when we both stop working after Christmas. I don’t know if I can explain what I mean or feel. Beside a fun story, did I tell you enough to show that there’s a connection there? But I want to know what that connection is that comes when you get to know people. What is that connection that makes it hard to say goodbye, even though you’ve known them for only one semester (like WC assistants)? That connection that is an feeling which produces an inner binding with you and someone just because both have something in common. Eventually it builds. It creates a linking that…….Something. Specific. Blank. I keep searching for a definition. What is it? I can’t describe it. The best I can do is what I posted on an earlier post of Brittany’s. “The glue that holds you together is some incomprehensible, spiritual adhesive.” But there I meant good friends, and note the incomprehensible part. Does anyone understand?

From Stephanie (Oh No--Tuesdays with Morrie?)

These pics are of Stephanie (who just wrote me this beautiful note (which follows--she really gets you down) on Facebook and another of Travis (on the far right) standing next to Chan's brother Tanner.

Title--: I'm lame

Hey Sister Morgan, This is a note to tell you how lame I am with good-byes. Something about the military fixed me for life as a nomad who can't cover-up her tracks in the snow. I wanted to let you know how much working at the writing center has meant to me. I am grateful beyond measure for that opportunity. It was the first job I actually enjoyed--probably because it is more than a job. Even though I know I can't write very well, I felt like I was surrounded with kindred spirits (who also live independently from time and deadlines). I learned something from all of you.
Meghan is the perfect balance of kindness and professionalism, she knows how to get the job done. Jacob is a diligent worker and He and Alyssa are such a stabilizing influence. I hope to be as pure as Alyssa someday. Ivor is an example of living life with passion, something I hope to get the guts to do if I ever let myself feel that deeply about anything. Dan and Kiersten's logic astound me, yet despite their intelligence they are so down-to-earth. Danny and Sarah strive daily to live by the spirit--so humble despite being so talented. Katie and Brittany are a lot deeper than I first thought they were. I wish I could have gotten to know them better, but I learned that outward appearances are so misleading. I wish I could have had more sessions with Katie; I would have learned a lot more. Her ability to discern a patron's need and clarify a paper is astounding. I love Brittany's subtle humor; no doubt she will be an asset to the center. Matt is just Matt. I wish I could relate to
people as easily as he does. I also need to take criticism as humbly. Thanks for being the scapegoat. Miriam and I had a writing class together the semester before I started working at the Center; I have never met someone so virtuous and without guile. I feel that I can relate to Matty who reminds me a lot of myself growing-up. I wish I could be that humble again. I knew Adam before I knew Rebeckah, but I could not see a more flawless match for her. She takes the initiative in befriending people and is so honest with herself. I also wish I could have gotten to know Kaitlyn better, I think we could all due to know Kaitlyn better. There is something deeper there I haven't discovered yet. You know how to pick 'em sister Morgan; It's not fair to hog so much of the school's talent in one department.
Most of all I have learned from you. I have never met someone who maintains a balance between being truly open-minded and living the gospel. You have an earnest desire to learn about people and you care about them more than in a superficial way. Honestly, during my first seminar I didn't know what to think. In an effort to understand your mind, I drew that diagram. I don't think it can ever be thoroughly understood ;-) As you shared pieces of your life with us, my respect grew... that one person could endure so much and still remain faithful...I hope to become such a spiritual giant. Seminars became my own "Tuesdays with Morrie". Life lessons to take to the bank. Thank you for seeing something in me; I have been given a glimpse of who I want to become.
I wish I didn't always breeze through life.I'm horrible at keeping in touch. I make so many friendships and assume it will just continue the way it was when we meet in the celestial kingdom, so everyone better be there. I feel like I have divided my heart and left pieces in England, Germany, Japan, and scattered throughout the US. I think being perfect means being whole. I look forward to being whole again.
I don't know exactly what I'm doing from here, probably Camp Anasazi then grad school. I'll do my best to keep you posted.
Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

Scroll down for more Introductions

One other partner in fun and happy memories is cynical--yet somehow very pure--momance writer Anona. Anona meet Matt ESQ (not to be confused with Matty--the star of Anona's momance EFY story further down blog)whose saving grace is that I haven't killed him yet (Actually, this guy has one incredible heart.) Meghan Hoyos and Moi taken last Monday--Julie I cannot believe you have never met Meghan since she was best friends with Shalese also. It's creepy. And Meghan Hoyos with new husband Jason, who's sitting on couch with Jacob and Alyssa (New). At the top is pic of Chan, Nate, and Shan at Meghan Hoyos wedding. Get it?


Nevada is great only because EmPo lives there

Britt meet my good friend, compadre, and caretaker--EmPo (that's short for Emily Poteet Goodsell.) EmPo, meet Britt, who already admires you. (Are you coming home for Christmas?)
And this is Leanna {she loves plants and cats also and posted on your post) who was so hard to say good bye to last week that we both had to turn and keep walking. "No tears. No tears," we kept saying. You want to see a cute baby? Go to her blog.

I'm Trusting You to Not Make Fun of Me for This

I've always really liked babies and toddlers but lately this affinity has turned into a boarder-line obsession. 
Yesterday, I was walking into the mall and saw a mother bending down tying her daugher's shoe. The kid had a cheek so full of gum she could hardly hold her head up straight. I laughed and craved a kid of my own. 
In the mall, I saw a kid jumping up and down and screaming at the bottom of the escalator because he was either really scared or really excited; I couldn't tell. I laughed anyway and thought again how much I wish I were a mom. 
I saw a kid face-down on the floor (which is kind of gross) at Starbucks and throwing a tantrum. I turned to my mom and said, "I don't even care if they do that, I want a baby so bad!" 
Every time I see a pregnant women I want to walk up to her and tell her how lucky she is but instead I just enviously watch her from afar. 
I'm contemplating attending my family ward while I'm home instead of my singles branch so I can sit by all the young mothers and hold their babies. 
At Thanksgiving my mom asked me to make name cards for everybody and put them where they would be sitting so there would be no confusion. I made them and put the children's cards at the plates surrounding mine. The kids were loud and I had to cut their food for them; they spilled their juice on me but I didn't mind. I loved having them there. 

I think that is why I baby my plant so much. I have an avacado tree. I named it Verde. I grew it from an avacado pit, watched it sprout roots in a glass, and coaxed every green leaf out of it with motherly tlc. Yesterday, I decided that it was time for him to transfer to a new pot. He had outgrown the old one and so, like any good mother, I got a bigger pot from the garage and started the transplantation process. When Verde was safely in a new pot, watered, and his new dirt was neatly and lovingly packed around him; I filled the laundry room sink with soapy water and sponged away all the dirt residue that was left on the inside of Verde's first pot. Ceramic met marble as I placed the clean old pot on the counter. I looked at it. Empty. Even now as I write this I can feel that feeling that crept up inside of me but I can't adequately explain it. It had been so long since I had seen that pot empty. I remember the day I picked that pot out at Home Depot and the salesman who wouldn't stop hitting on me. I remember the day I lifted Verde from his water glass and planted him in that pot. I remember wrapping that pot in a towel because I thought it might be too cold for Verde. Now it's empty. I wasn't sure what to do with it, I couldnt't just put it in the garage to collect dirt. I decided to start growing a new plant to put in it. 

Is that what being a mother will be like? Someday will I find myself in my laundry room, folding my baby's first onesie, that he has outgrown, and think, "I remember the first day I put him in this and now it's empty." I'm sure I'll feel that same feeling that I felt with the old pot only stronger. Will I ask myself, "What should I do with this? I can't just put it in a box to collect dust. Maybe I'll just have another baby to fill it."

Thanks for nothing, Nevada

Note: I really do like Nevada...or at least I like being married to Brad, and so it's okay to live in Nevada? 

I’m losing pieces of myself. They are torn from me one chunk at a time. An arm here, a leg there. I blame it all on the state of Nevada.

When I was born, my parents didn’t give me a middle name because they hoped eventually I would take Poteet as my middle name. I love Poteet. It’s who I am. It’s who I will always be.

In Rupert, people know me as a Poteet. When I get a flat tire and pull into Les Schwab, the men see me, know I’m a Poteet, and take good care of me. I never see the bill. Sometimes they don’t even send it because of my dad’s good name.

One time, my sister and I were in the grocery store, and her debit card wouldn’t work. We didn’t know it at the time, but it expired a week prior. Neither of us had cash on us, but the cashier knew we were Poteet girls. Since she already rang up all of the items, she told us to take them home and bring the money later.

Because my parents have a good name, I have a good name. And it was meant to be my middle name. When I got married, I went down to the Social Security office to get a card with my new name: Emily Poteet Goodsell. However, in the state of Nevada, people can’t take on their maiden name as their middle name. I fought with the man. I pleaded with him, and then I almost started crying to him. My name is Emily Poteet Goodsell. Print it on the card. Is it really all that difficult? He offered to make me a hyphenated woman, but that’s not my name. It’s not who I am. The most he could do was put a middle initial on my card. Now, according to the United States, I am Emily P Goodsell. They took my name from me.

Then this week, they took my license plates from me. I’ve put off getting Nevada plates since I got here, but my deadline was up, so I went to the DMV with my smog test and Vin test and car title. When I got to the front of the line, the lady told me to turn in my Idaho plates. Once again, I almost started crying. You want my plates? What are you going to do with them? You don’t need them. I know I can’t keep them on my car forever, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep them. They tell everyone who I am. Anyone who drives on the road can see that I am a 2M girl. They know I’m from Rupert. But now I’m just another Nevada driver.

There’s a teacher at my school who goes around asking people if they are from New York. He never asks them where they are from. He only asks them if they are from New York. I think his identity has been taken away, too. He’s a New Yorker, hidden behind Nevada plates, just like I’m a farm girl from Rupert, a place where my name mattered. And here, neither of those things matters.


Follow the instructions on where to click. Start on the main blogger page.

Then click that link to go to this page. NOTE: YOUR BLOG WILL NOT SAY THE NAME OF MY BLOG. JUST SAYING.
Finally, click the edit button and then make sure the box is checked for the thing I've highlighted.
hope this helps!

Key down the posts to see other pictures

This is Julie and Travis together--though they're not together now, ya know, at this moment. Get it? At least I don't' think they are. (Can you tell I'm doing this to get out of Christmas shopping and cleaning my house?)
And Sara (Sarachel) meet our new Kaitlin. The old Kaitlin is killing cockroaches in between teaching English and the Gospel in Peru right now while she waits for Bolivia (Ah, Remember Butch Cassidy?) to open back up. Are they having a coup (as in civil war in case I misspelled that word) or something down there?

Ummmm... seriously?

I read this on NFL.com, written by Senior Columnist, Thomas George:

"Take a Hallelujah-moment to reflect on a coaching career that began in 1980 at the University of Minnesota on to an NFL assistant coaching career that began in 1981 at Pittsburgh on to an NFL head-coaching voyage that began in 1996 at Tampa Bay. Reflect, offer respects, then farewell. A gracious adieu."

I'm not sure how to react to this paragraph. I think it is just bad writing. Maybe I am being too critical, but he sounds like he is trying to be profound and making a fool of himself. Perhaps he should take his next article to the Writing Center.

Maybe I just skipped breakfast or something.

Midnight Shooting of a Thief--Do not read before eating.

Above is the true Travis, who loves to load stupid, scary pics on the web--like Dan--but who is one of the true gentlemen I know, and I don't know many. And Crystal? Meet Julie. (Two of my best friends finally meet web-to-web.)

Ivor, you know my cat on a personal basis, don't you? You got her down, Brother. (See his comment under post "Anonymous," which I swear I'll never misspell again.)

OK, I just have to tell someone this: Yesterday, I was sort of drowning, and I was so busy writing in my journal to keep from jumping up and screaming every obscenity I know, and some I've forgotten, from the back porch that I was only vaguely aware of Cat running up and down the stairs and furiously round and round the kitchen. I thought Patch was chasing her because he does that when he's super bored, but I looked up once (when the noise got a little out of control), and he was sitting by me watching the kitchen intently.
The noise IS unusual, and somewhere far in the back of my mind I'm thinking of a discussion I had with Jacob on Monday about the woman in Ammon who was almost robbed recently. A man, posing as a book sales person (how dare he), shoved a gun in her ribs, tied her up, then started grabbing computers, video games, etc. and piling them by her front door. But, someone honked, so this guy runs out without taking any of the stuff. (What an idiot. I swear the IQ of thieves is dropping daily.) Her kids find her tied up when they get home from school--how traumatic was that? So, Jacob and I are discussing visits to locksmiths, since, let's face it, I'm never going to remember the safe place where I've hid the key to my 22, and because for some reason I've always wanted to shoot a thief (now, no gasping, please--just in the arm or leg). It's a secret dream of mine because HOW DARE THEY? I paid for my stuff, and no one, not even PresElect Obama is going to take it--unless I say so! But, hey, I'm busy writing my book to stay off the blog, like Matt Esq suggested I do, so who cares about creepo, probably meth-induced robberies, right?

OK, so I get up around midnight to hunt through my kitchen for some chocolate, and right there--between me and the kitchen--is not a thief but a mouse. Now, mice are not like snakes with me (a dead snake on my rug would have me flying to Canada to hide behind your wise father), but I'm gagging, and this mouse looks like it's just faking dead. I don't want to pick it up because what if it starts squirming. The thought makes me gag twice, but I also don't want the cat throwing it up in the air again, and Patch is moving through my legs to sniff. And where did it come from anyway? I'm sure I've been "mouse-free" for years even though I know this is impossible when one lives in the middle of trees by a river, for hecks sake. But, I'M NOT PICKING THIS MOUSE UP! ... Yet, I have to get to the kitchen. Suddenly, I'm laughing hysterically, doubled over the back of the couch, because this is sort of a gift from God--the death of a rodent--to break my depression. I mean I'm laughing so hard at myself that now I have to go to the bathroom, which means I have to pass the mouse, so I might as well pick it up, since I don't dare go upstairs and leave this dead thing down here with Patch and Cat, who sits by my feet, looking indignant, like, "Hey, I brought you a Christmas present and you dare laugh?" (I'm trying for the world's longest sentences, though I'm sure I'll never beat Henry James.)

So, I edge by, carefully watching for signs of movement, wanting to call my mother, for some reason, to ask what to do, but she is terrified of mice and once stood on a kitchen chair until my dad got home because one was under our sink, and it's now past midnight for hecks sake. I grab almost a full roll of paper towels, but that's not enough, so I pad them into an old cloth towel I won't mind throwing away, while the whole time, I'm screaming at Patch and Cat to stay by me: "Don't you dare go near that mouse, or you'll be as dead as he (or she) is," but that's the problem--is this mouse dead or a great Hollywood actor in disguise? I mean his legs (I'm sure it's a "he" now, since who else would dare interrupt my depression in the middle of the night. Females know instinctively that we all work it out on our own. They quietly sympathize, then leave us alone, bless their hearts. And, Jami, no fair jumping on that sexist remark) are sticking straight up, and his eyes are closed, but...who knows? So, I loosely cover him with a mountain of "stuff," and gingerly gather it up--because I swear if he's faking it and starts moving around, I'll throw him and towels and run for Canada, which means he could land stuck on the ceiling and stay there clear through Christmas (remember, it's past midnight, and I'm not thinking too clearly, nor would you under said circumstances).

OK, so I'm carrying him--with my head turned sideways--convinced he's suffocated by now if he truly wasn't dead--and head for the garbage can; but wait, I can't leave him in a can inside my house! But, how can I put him down to find shoes because he could still be faking death and suddenly run out from underneath the towels? I mean who knows? There’s been a lot of fake stuff happen in my life. So, I open the garage door, with two fingers, my head still turned sideways, and I walk out in the snow to throw a dead rodent into my garbage can-- whose lid is frozen shut. I kick the can hard with my bare feet and bang it against the house wall because I'm not putting this mouse down for anything. And do you know how stinkin' cold it is here? Minus 30 without wind-chill (slightly exaggerated for effect). I finally run clear to the fence behind the shed and throw him--towels and all--into the big gully, and on my frozen run back, I'm wondering, "Is that littering?" which my dad taught us never to do.

I LOVE CAT. She is now playing with the colored lights that swirl around my floor from the crystals hanging from the windows (like in Pollyanna). She is truly one of the Great Females in my life right now.

O Chocolate Bar, O Chocolate Bar la da da da da dem da

Here are some new people. I want to introduce, so you know what wonderful people you're writing to. Meet Kylie (KyKy), Katie (sometimes alias Anonymous), & Matty, a brand new member of the blog.I'll try to introduce a few a day. But in the meantime,

I want to fly to Europe to buy a hand-carved wooden Nativity scene. And while I'm there, Ill jot over to Brugge and buy real chocolate.
A couple of nice ward members dropped off things at my door, but because I don't want to talk to anyone, I didn't answer because I don't have to, since I'm over 60 now and can be a crotchety old lady whenever I want, which I've been anyway most of the time since 45. But...I wish they'd drop off something useful, ya know, like chocolate or food--instead of little tin things that say "The Best is yet to Come"; "Have a jolly Merry Christmas." I'm so ungrateful; I know--but I'd never do that to someone else.I mean they don't know me. What if my mother had just died, and they're handing me platitudes that say "Be O Thankful and Joooooooyful"? It's a dangerous practice. I promise all of you I will never send you any kind of a plaque with a platitude on it. Sigh, but they mean well.

I got this birthday card once and on the front was a guy all wrapped in sheets, tight, like a mummy, even his head was wrapped. Inside it said, "I know. I don't get it either, but Happy Birthday anyway." I fell over laughing. I'm a sick person, dark humor, not fun to be around unless I'm in Europe or New York or in the mountains, then even the chipmunks like me.
I want to walk way out onto the rocks into the sea on the coast of Ireland, where a Labrador came and caught all our sticks, but didn't return one. I really liked that dog.
I want to stay again in a convent where they rent rooms and serve fresh bread and OJ for breakfast, and the nuns can tell you exactly how to swerve your way downhill to St. Peters, because their Holy Man lives next door. I want to swirl around in the Musee D'Orsay (sp)and get lost again in the Louvre--for days this time. And I'd love to go back to Ephesus and Mary's cathedral, where it's tradition that Apostle John brought Mary to live--except you have to go through Turkey, which is one scary place for a woman, but even there, where the loud prayers wake you at 5am, I sat on a balcony at midnight and watched two men sitting at a table under a street light, playing chess. It was definitely a picture for Van Gogh to paint.
Or Dan, someday, maybe.

Speaking of Dan, did anyone see his and Kylie's shameless flirting on the blog earlier? Whew. I could hear Julie chuckling at them from far away. And they had Trav so confused, he'll probably never post again.

Trav, how can I add signatures to the posts? You've got administrative rights on here: can you do it? Don't anyone tell Katie or Crystal I was up past ten, though Crystal is still wide awake looking at the stars. I just know it.



Since some of you were wondering... (another bit straight for the diary of Tee Dub)

Torpor | 17 Dec 2008

“Torpor: a state of motor and mental inactivity with a partial suspension of sensibility,” says Google. That was one of the words on my exam. I didn’t know what it meant. Much less that I was in one.

I think I did a lot better on the written part this time. I'll find out in two weeks. I was a little lower than last time on the multiple-choice part, but still not bad.

On the door of the Prometric testing center, there’s an alert: two high-pitched beeps, so close together they almost sound like one—like they’re in a hurry, almost a surprise attack. It’s the exact sound the trip-mines make in Jedi Knight, when you unwittingly step into the laser beam. They give you exactly one tenth of a second. And then I thought I was going to explode. But I walked away without a scratch.

—Travis W.

Help A Sister Out

 I'm trying to email Katie but I can't find her on the student directory. I thought I knew her last name but apparently I don't. Also, I deleted all the emails I have from Sister Morgan where she would be one of the recipients. Ok, so what is her email address or what is your last name? 
-Britt (because Eric voted "yes" twice)

Auto Despirado

I have had an experience on this Christmas break that has really made me think. Last night I took my sister, Heather, to buy a car. She has had trouble with her credit and I thought I could help get her into something. The salesman was new and very polite. In fact he went out of his way to tell us, “he really wanted to be a kind salesman and not one of those stereotypical pushy types.”

When my sister could not get into a greatly desirable Toyota Tacoma, the salesmen tried to convince us to look at either a Nissan Frontier or a Chrysler 300. My sister, being eager for a car but unsure which one she wanted, allowed them to convince her to choose the 300 with the option to exchange it in the morning if she changed her mind.

The compromise seemed fair until they made us sit and wait 40 minutes while the financial information “processed.” (P.S. I have not only participated in the purchase of several cars, but I have worked at a dealership and know it does not take that long.) During this time Heather realized she did not love the car, and I told her she had to love it and she should not settle just because she needed a car. We decided it would be a good idea to go home and sleep on the decision and come back in the morning to finalize everything.

It turns out the salesmen did not like this idea. Even though it was two hours past their closing, they insisted on trying to convince us to purchase the car. First they had us talk to one of the head salesmen. When we hinted we were going to leave he led us into a tiny room to talk to his “financial advisor” who attempted to convince us what a great deal we were getting. After telling the advisor several times we wanted to leave he tried to sweet talk us with glossy promises of oil changes for five years and total collision coverage. We maintained our stubborn desire to leave so they called in their reinforcements. Suddenly we realized we were trapped in this little room with four, yes four, salesmen trying to sell us on this car. During this entrapment they had the nerve to say, “Now we don’t want you to feel like we are pressuring you…” To which I replied, “Um yes, I think you are. I mean there are four of you in here!”

We finally put our foot down and left. Had they not been so freaky about trapping us we probably would have gone back in the morning, purchased the car, and been happy with it. But their desperation was scary.

This experience has opened my eyes in two ways. One, I am not as big of a push over as I might appear. Take that President Peterson! Two, it has really made me think about how desperate our economy, or maybe just the auto industry, is right now. To go to such lengths to sell a car by making us feel like we are in a prison camp of free enterprise? What might have happened if we did not stand up and leave? Were the gas chambers next? Or perhaps they would dunk our heads in their tacky oversized fish tank until we signed? I don’t know, and all I can do is quote SNL and say, “Somebody better fix it!”


I'm Blaming Dan

I just wanted to clear my good name. The creeper is not me.

(Google Alerts, fortunately, notified me of S.M.'s post.)

Incidentally, it seems that all these posts are anonymous. What's up with that? Why doesn't it show who's posting?

I love your blog. My hat's off to you, Sister Morgan, for inspiring us all. May we be forever in your debt.

And while I'm here, I'll leave you with a thought (a recent post in my journal), about frustrations at my job:

Perfect Software | 10 Dec 2008

At Zensoft, our software is a near-perfect example of what not to do in usability. There are a few bits that make sense, but, other than that, it's perfect.

—Travis W. (yes, an em dash)


(This is my cat. Her name is "cat"). Anon, notice the perfect use of punctuation in that last sentence.

I know who ANONYMOUS is.
It's Matty for sure....Or Matt (in disguise)?...Or Travis Washburn (yep)....Or Rebeccakhacaha (whatever) going to China?...Danial (the singer)? Or ...Katie?...Or...Dan? Is this you playing around?
S.Morgan (For all those who are brain-tired, brain-dead, or just brain-gone, that's my signature, not a statement of who A. is.)

In a Boat

My sister Gina is diagnosed with Narcolepsy. It takes the average person about ninety minutes to enter into the REM stage of sleep; it takes Gina ninety seconds. Due to this handicap the government says she is only required to take about seven or eight credits to be a full-time student, she has an extra week to turn in all assignments, an option of having another student take notes for her in class, and (I believe) she can start collecting Social Security. And now, it is making it rather difficult for me not to resent her.

A few weeks ago my Dad said, “Son, I have a dilemma.”

“What can I help with Big Guy?”

“Your sister, Gina, needs a new computer for school and she wants a Mac Book. The computer she has now is on its last leg. She is able to pay for a little bit of it, but definitely not all of it. What do you think is fair?”

(Last year when I told my parents I needed a computer for school. They responded, “Go buy one then.”)

I thought logically, “Well it is good that she is paying for some. I think you should give her what she needs and not what she wants. She wants a Mac which is going to be a few hundred dollars more expensive, not that much when you are already spending eight or nine hundred. A regular PC will be fine for what she needs though. It isn’t so much a money factor, it is the principle she needs to learn. Until she pays for it all by her lonesome, give her what she needs, not what she wants.”

My Dad leaned back in his chair and thought about it. “I like that idea; I will take it to your mother.”

Last night my Mom sternly spoke into the phone to the Northwest Airlines customer service rep. She wanted to change Gina’s return flight back to Idaho that was supposed to be used at the end of the break, and use it for a flight to Orlando for her Disney internship. (They’re also paying for her rent while she stays there). Because Gina already used half of the ticket itinerary, NWA could not change the destination, only the date she flew back to Idaho. My parents lost half of the now unusable $488 ticket. They need to buy her a ticket to Orlando and pay for her flight back out to Idaho. My Mom was irate. Gina just looked flustered and went off to play with her new white Mac Book. If it was her money, she would be more animated.

(I purchased the same itinerary before I found out I would be driving home a bit earlier then Christmas. When I found out I couldn’t use the non-refundable ticket, I transferred it to another day and flight to fly to Oregon for Thanksgiving; the change cost an extra forty dollars. I purchased the ticket, and it cost me an extra forty dollars. I also had to pay for food, gas, and hotels for my drive home.)

As we walked into Lynsey’s Christmas chorus concert last night, I told my dad, “Pops, I don’t think I can afford to go to school this semester. I just don’t have the money.”

“Mom and I already talked about this and we are adamant that you go, even if we have to pay for it.”

“Dad, you can’t afford it. It is my school, my debt.”

“You don’t know how important it is for you to keep going with your education. You are going.”

“Dad, it’s not your decision, it’s mine. I can’t ask you to spend more money you don’t have. It is either going on your credit or mine.”

So now I plan on working through next semester to save for school and pay off some debt.

My parents did pay for my mission. However, when I was fourteen and asked my Mom for some money, she said, “Eric, you are old enough to have a job.” Two weeks after my fourteenth birthday I started working at Chick-Fil-A. Since then, I have been unemployed for a cumulative five months. Every paycheck I gave them a hefty portion to help pay for the car, car insurance, and other things. Our arrangement went unsaid as, “you support yourself and help out with payments before your mission, and we will pay for your mission.”

I understand Gina struggles with narcolepsy on a daily basis. I understand my parents struggle financially on a daily basis. I cannot help but be frustrated with my sister. I just feel she doesn’t understand.

When she walks into the room it is like I am in a row boat in the middle of the ocean. I can jump out of the boat and wade in frustration; or I can sit in the boat and wait in silence.


P.S.- Kylie

So I know I'm new to this blog thing, but is there a reason names don't come with posts (or am I just missing them?)? I have no idea who writes anything. I want a vote. All in favor of names as part of titles, say "I".

Confessions of a Middle Child

So. Have you ever contemplated your own selfishness? Well I did. Today to be exact. I contemplated my selfishness and immaturity that was raging inside me while I was trying to remain the humble gracious daughter I should be. With out going into too much detail, my parents bought a huge house in Cedar Hills Utah. They get not only their GIANT master bedroom, but they are each taking a bedroom for a private study as well. My brother is getting practically the whole basement . . . and I? I get either what they call the "guest bedroom where Michelle (my older sister and her family), James, and Keegan will stay when they visit", or "The fun room where we’ll put a pool table and stuff when you’re done with it". Now… call me immature, but I feel like I’m being pushed out. Older sister with her cute family who lives in a different state gets priority over me. Little brother who will still live there for years gets priority over me (and rightly so). But really. Yes I go to college and will be there most of the time…But I still want a home! I don’t want to feel like I’m visiting my family when I’m home for breaks. I want to go HOME! Is it so much to ask that I get my own room, called "Kylie’s room"?
Another point of my selfishness: Christmas.
So since seeing all the money my parents have been spending on the house and things to go in the house, I’ve pretty much accepted that I’m going to have no Christmas. Ever since they decided to pay for my college I get no Christmas. Which is fine. That’s a fair trade off I suppose. But then my mother had to come out and say that I wasn’t getting anything because they pay for tuition and my phone bill. Now, even though I had accepted this in my mind, having my mother just confirm it so blatantly did something to me inside. Defiance. For some reason I wasn’t ok with it all of the sudden. I was totally bugged. It could have been that she started it off with asking me if there was anything that I wanted, even though she would have shut it down anyway. Or it could have been that she ended with, "good, just wanted to make sure you were ok with that", when it wouldn’t have mattered if I wasn’t ok with that. Or it could have been somewhere in the middle when she said I was getting a house anyway, when really I was barley getting a room! But anyway, it is the way it is, and now I have a new dilemma that I need help with.
I thought about going out and buying myself some stuff I really want and having my mother just wrap it. But then that would just be lame anyway. So then I thought about giving my mother money to spend on me. Again lame, but better because I’d still be surprised. So my last thought (and most mature and unselfish) would be to spend that money on my parents (who PS are giving themselves thousands of dollars worth of new furnature etc this season). But the problem with that is that my mother is the hardest person to buy things for. I don’t care who you know. She IS. Never says things she wants, hates having money spent on her, but the things that I know she might want happen to be expensive (like paintings), and even those types of things are risky to buy someone without their opinion. So. Any suggestions? I NEED HELP! (But I really do sound more desprate than I really am...)


Sis. Morgan's back!

And there was much rejoycing the in land. As soon as I saw you posting again I had to go down and re-read all the old posts and stuff. You make me laugh out loud. Especially your comment under Anona's Stagnation. Doesn't seeing your post in italics make you feel like your Emily Dickonson or something? Who knew that could be so much fun? I'm glad you're back. We missed you.



In my one section of Sophomore English, we’ve been doing a non-fiction unit, and we’re finishing off the unit by writing personal essays. I want my students to see some good personal essays, and trust me, our anthology doesn’t do that, so where do I turn? Yep, to the WC. If any of you would be so kind as to let me use your blood essays in class, I’d love you forever, AND I will reward you. (Sorry, I can’t reward you with fine Hershey’s chocolate straight from Pennsylvania, like Julie can. However, I live in Vegas, so there ought to be SOMETHING I can do.) Your names will be safe: they don’t know you, and I won’t drop your name, either way.


Reluctantly Dead

Last night, due to my friend’s pride/stupidity, I almost died. A ghetto truck was tail-gating our little '88 "classic" maroon piece of crap. My friend had just been disfellowshiped (unrighteously I believe) and rightly so, was irate, and everyone knows how fun tail-gating is. So, we got in the fast lane of the freeway. He proceeded to do the same and thus, sent Dusty into a blind fury. He slowed down to a placid 55mpr and we just strolled along for about a minute. My protesting was like a snowball into a volcano, but finally, he changed lanes. The truck sped past us and I thought the idiocracy was over. I slunk down in my seat due to a mix of shame and relief when he swerved back right behind this guy. It was like a Chihuahua in a fight with a Doberman and I just watched with my jaw clenched, hoping that Dusty would relent to that tiny voice inside his head (he more than likely beat it to death long ago). The man in the truck slammed on his brakes and sent us swerving out of control on the freeway. As our car began to spin fresh doughnut tracks onto the road, the headlights of on-coming traffic blazed through my passenger window; quickly replaced by the orange glow of many different street lights. In the midst of all this chaos, all I could think was "not today, I so do not need this right now." It was as if someone told me I had to change a diaper or mow the lawn. It still baffles me how the terror that most would have felt was a muted disappointment for me. Am I insanely optimistic or just momentarily apathetic? Anyone?



I like this word. It gets weirder the more you look at it. But the real reason I'm writing is to ask for help in the form of a Writing Center Brainstorming Session. I want to write a book. If you had time to write a book, what would you write it about? Is there anything that needs to be written, or should I just read more?


Confessions of a Sunday-School Hater

Have you ever been poked with a stick, fork, trident, or any other demonic poking device? That's what it felt like this morning when Ivor came into my room saying in one of those prolonged tones "Nathaaaaaaannnn, you coming to chuuuuuurrch?" I'm pretty sure God kept me immobile as he does any other morning/first ten minutes I'm awake. All I could muster was a grunt, but in my head a rude dialogue took place; One that, with a cleared head, should never be spoken. So, I rolled over and twenty minutes later Dan had the audacity to ask if I was going. This time being a little more in control of my motor functions, I frown and shake my head side to side. "Well," he started, "do you need someone to take care of the bread?" A parade of curses just sprung up in my head as I pushed myself off of my bed, coveting how it got to stay right where it was. I just forgot again. I am in charge of setting the sacrament up and once again, dropped the ball. Luckily, Dan is like this volunteer superhero and he consented. A feeling of shame and guilt began to swirl around my chest like a hot acid bath. "I'll buy you dinner or something," I said almost scrambling for an "I'm sorry" or a "Thank you" that never surfaced. He just left without another word about it. I climbed back in bed, but somehow it wasn't going to be the same comfortable warmth it was before. As my fingers hit the keys, I'm thinking what's my deal with church up here anyways? It wasn't like this back home, but then again my Dad is back home. Still, church is just different up here. With everyone always moving and this overwhelming insecurity of making first impressions and trying to find a spouse, I never could just go and think about God. For the most part, the Sunday school teachers just read out of the scriptures for an hour with little blips here and there of themselves or the manual. Priesthood isn't any better. I just feel like I have to go and walk through a feast of china-ware every Sunday. The Bishops and counselors are amazing men. I'm not throwing the church down by any means. I do have a strong testimony of the gospel and Jesus Christ. I just feel like Emily Dickenson about how I can feel God in my garden and don't need a special building to find him. (I probably butchered that, sorry Emily) I just crave a meeting where it more than a peacock dance or a reading session. I'm looking up the number for the singles ward, but I'm still unsure. I do notice that I feel more independent on everything, and not in a good way. I need the Lord's hand in my life, especially right now. I'm just going to hike the "R Mountain" butte and read some scriptures myself. The atmosphere would be better anyways.


Has anyone seen Sis. Morgan?

Sis. Moooorgaaaaaaaan. (That is me calling for you out across the internet connections). Where are you? I haven't seen you on the blog and you don't respond to emails. Are you okay? Where are you?


Wasn’t sure whether I wanted to post this or not—so I did.

*Disclaimer: No transitions, mostly just stream of consciousness.

I recently saw (again) one student rush to another who was struggling up the steep sidewalk in her wheel chair. The young man immediately grasped the back of her chair, and began to push, making conversation.

I love seeing these moments; I wish I could see more—it really is love. As I was strolling behind, I wondered why I keep noticing these people with physical handicaps. Then, more importantly, I wondered if I was missing those who are otherwise impaired: mentally tired, emotionally amputated, spiritually blind, etc. I realized I’m often wrapped up in my own little world, complaining about my own little crutches. (Seminar helps me realize this too.) Who am I not helping, loving?

But who is not impaired in some way? We are all broken. Christ does the mending, but aren’t we to be the tools?

I’ve seen His work done in the Writing Center. Most of the time they are the littlest acts imaginable—but they matter. Maybe every day someone crosses our path that we could help and love.

I work with people, not robots. Tell me your stories.

Here is a quick story:

-My bishop in my student ward asked me if I could take a few students to eat with my family for Thanksgiving, because they had no place to go. Of course I consented, and, when we finished eating today, I said: “Okay, we can go—of course, you can stay if you want, but my family IS loud.”

To my surprise, one girl said: “Actually, I’d like to stay, if you don’t mind. I’ll just be alone in my apartment otherwise.”

I was afraid. I don’t have the talent of talking easily to people with whom I am unfamiliar. Our conversations had, to this point, consisted of general information-leaking. Surely she wanted to get back to her normal life, and resume her hopes and worries. But really, she wanted to stay. So, we drove back up to Rexburg to drop off the other students. Then I made a friend with the girl who stayed with me. We engaged in real conversation, sang songs, and laughed on the way back.-

Because I got to know her, I saw her as a real person, and then I began to care, to love. I made another one of those desirable connections I can’t describe yet.

I wish I could take each of you that work at the writing center on a similar trip. I want to know you, to love you, because when that connection exists, it is real life we are living. I'm not affraid of you anymore. I have time to listen, and my ‘hopes and worries’ can wait. They might even be similar to yours. But I don’t know that yet. I already feel connections to some of you, but not all of you. You are real people in this life we sometimes take for granted or treat casually. If I am going to know you, if you are going to be in my life, let me KNOW you.

Who are you?


*Please forgive me for filling the blog with thoughts that are completely unrelated to the Writing Center. This is normally the sort of thing I would write on my personal blog, but there were a few people I didn't want to read it, but I just felt the need to semi-say it. I hope thats understandable. Feel no obligation to read it and comment. I just feel better having it out there. To conclude this preface, I just want to say this is a letter to amissionary friend.

Dear Landon,
Ever since your last letter, I've been thinking about you a lot. I guess it hasn't been necessarily you that I was thinking about, but more us; and not us as we are now but more how we used to be.
I love the memories I have of you picking me up for school, sometimes having to come in my room and wake me up and then sit on the couch and eat cereal while you are waiting for me to get ready (which only took a max of 10 minutes). Then, when we got to school we would determine whether or not we wanted to be there that day, and if we didn't we'd leave and find something better to do. Which was almost always hiking with our guitars on our backs and then camping in the grass while you strummed Donovan Frankenreiter songs and I would lie on my back and ask you questions about anything I was thinking about at the moment. We'd be back at school just in time for practice (which was the only thing you took seriously) and I would go to work. You'd pick me up from work, we'd go find more ways to worry our parents, you'd take me home at midnight, we'd talk on the phone for a good three hours, and then the whole thing would start over the next day. It's strange to me now that I could spend so much time with one person and never ever get tired of being with them.
I've always been free-spirited (I prefer that term over "rebellious") but you were free-spirited to a higher degree. Like that time during summer vacation we were talking on the phone at about four in the morning and I mentioned that someday we should ride our bikes and meet halfway between our houses, just like I used to do in elementary school, and you agreed that it would be fun, but that we should do it now. NOW? I'm not sure what my exact thought process was but I know I jumped out of bed and within a minute we were standing, short of breath and face to face on the sidewalk. From then on it was a ritual, whenever it seemed fitting we'd sneak out of our houses and spend a few extra hours running around Draper. And thats not the only memory that makes me wonder "what was I thinking?" Like that time you and Spence dared me to skivvy down and take a dip in the community pool while you two turned around and waved at all the construction workers, or lying on top of the suburban while Cam bounced down Corner Canyon trying to shake us off. It's really amazing to me that we only took one trip to the ER and that at the end of our high school careers we were only vaguely familiar with Draper's police officers. Between truancy, breaking curfew, and our flagrant trespassing of anything curious and mildly dangerous looking we could be found lying on the roof of Trav's treehouse talking about our dreams and goals for the future. Most of mine haven't changed much, but one thing has changed: you're not in them. You're last letter sounded so much like you, it was scary. You haven't changed at all. Somehow you've managed to keep one year of missionary work out of your letters. All I get is banter, rebellious anecdotes, and some miss-you's. I still uphold you as one of my deepest friends, but I don't feel the need to be with you now. I guess the truth is that I'm not like I used to be. I've grown up. It's hard to explain. I still find myself committed to spontaneity and minor law-breaking. Skinny dipping has been a hard habit to break. But although I still cherish our years together as the ones where I lived, loved, and laughed the most; I need something more than that. Running around in the mountains all day is amazing, but where is the substance, the depth? I still crave a relationship like ours, one where I can spend every minute of my life with a person and everyday is more fun than the last, but I also need someone that I can work hard with, which is something we never really did (unless you count hanging Christmas lights at the cabin, which was absolutely hard work.) It's heart-breaking but the man of my dreams just isn't you anymore. I'm not sure who it is but I'm sure I'll figure it out someday. Anyway, you'll never get this letter because I'm too afraid to send it. Instead, you'll get a response about the NBA, my family, and school. I'm sure once you get home you'll be able to see that things are different, I've changed. But know that although we may never be able to be like we once were, I would like you as my friend forever.


Dear Writing Center,

It's weird and incredibly depressing to know that in one or two more semesters (perhaps even less) that I will not know a single soul working at the Writing Center. I feel I have gotten to know many of you through your writing, but have yet to see you face to face. I don't have that closeness or that trust that exists so inherently in the Center and its crew. And so it makes me nervous. Where, when that time comes, am I going to write?

Already that distance grows as time wears on. Most of people who used to post don't post anymore. I haven't seen Anona on the blog in ages (not even in comments.) Leanna pops up once in awhile, but even her frequency has grown less (I say the last two with an understanding that they both have new born infants that cannot be easy and probably suck up all their time.) Chan is still around, but looking back he, Anona, and I used to post at least weekly when the blog was first started up. EmPo and Jami still post too, but I suppose before long all of our posting will also grow sporadic and eventually just stop.

It takes trust to put your writing out there. Not that I don't trust any of the new people at the WC, it's just that I don't know you. I should trust you, by virtue that Sis. Morgan hired you and you work in the WC. That makes us kindred spirits so to speak. So I should trust you and just keep going as I have before.

There have been several times over the past year and half when I have looked at the blog and thought, "I think I better stop posting on the WC blog now. People are changing. I don't know anyone. Maybe it's just time to move on."

But I still look. I always look. I look daily to see if anything new is up. For pity's sake, you'd think I could let the Writing Center go. You know, move on with my life. But so much of my life, my character, who I am is the Writing Center. When I tell people that I worked at the Writing Center, I expect that to have some deep impact on them. But they just look numbly on as if I had said that I worked at Walmart or something. Don't they realize that I worked at the Writing Center. This place is so much more than a job. It is a life.

And I always come back too. I always post again. I get scared--every time. How will it be received? How will these people who don't even know me take this random bit of nonsense that's scattered across the page? Will they realize that it isn't scattered nonsense to me? Do they know that it belongs to me? That it means something? It is a part of me?

I hope so. Because I honestly don't know where else to read truth. Fresh, clean, icy-glass truth. And I don't have anywhere else to post.

Let's face it. I trust all of you complete strangers more than I trust 3/4 of the people who read my "public" blog (the 1/4 of the people I trust are Writing Center people who read my blog.) Which is why I never post on it. I can't force myself to write driveled down fluff that would be acceptable, but I don't trust anyone to read anything that I would write for real.

So, if it is all right with you, I think I'll just keep posting here, every now and again. And maybe someday we will meet face to face and realize that we are very good friends and know each other infinitely better than the people we keep physical contact with because of the Writing Center.


I believe an explaination and a thank you are in order. Here is my Blood Essay.

Finding Faith

I drove only four hours that day, and when I arrived at my brother Cory’s house, I forgot about life for an hour or three. I was relieved. The past two weeks were such an emotional, spiritual, and physical drain; I needed my brother so I could take a breath of fresh relief.

I knelt on the back of the couch and leaned with my elbows on the kitchen island. Cory stood on the other side drinking a glass of Dr. Pepper.

“Church is tomorrow. Charisse, now Sister Stephens,” he said with a grin, “and I teach the twelve year-old class. Are you going to come?”

I was silent. I played with my great-grandfather’s cufflinks that rested on the counter. My hands began to shake, tears trail blazed my cheeks.

“I don’t want to. Since I was disfellowshipped, I’m not allowed to pray in class or even raise my hand and participate. The only reason I can even stand anything other than sacrament meeting is that I can make comments in class. Now I can’t. Cory, I don’t know what to do.”

He stood behind the island and looked down. “What’s your plan?”

I sighed. “My plan? I don’t know. This is all happening too fast.”

The silence was appeasing. Of all the people I knew, he was the one I could trust the most not to judge me. He walked around the island and sank on the couch.

“You’re going home. You can go to church and do the things that the bishop asks you. You can come back into full fellowship after a year. But why are you doing it?”

“Well that is what I am supposed to do. Isn’t it?”

“Well you can do that… but why? Do you believe that it is worth it? Other people live good lives and are not members of the church.”

I was abashed. “So you are telling me not to try and come into the church again and live a good life just because other people do it? Are you seriously telling me this? The whole reason I stayed on my mission and continued to teach other people was because I knew that despite my faith in it, it helped people live that better life. Even if I don’t believe in God in twenty years, I still want my family raised in this environment because of the standards that will be expected of them.”

“You don’t have to be a member of the church to live those standards though.”

Unknowingly I was twirling a small wooden dowel in my fingers and shaking. I came here for support, but instead was just tossed aside.

“So what if I don’t believe the gospel. I want to raise my family with those values. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant. This is how I want to raise my family. Why do I need to believe it to live it? No matter what the reason is, if I am a good person and try to raise my family in the gospel, God will accept it.”

“He will accept it, but people like you go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. The Terrestrial Kingdom is for the people who live the gospel for themselves, the Celestial Kingdom is for those who live the gospel for God. Sure you can live with your family in this wonderful environment, but when you die, you will be living alone, and not in glory with God.”

“If you live the gospel, you live the gospel. God cannot hold it against me.” My cold drying tears evaporated as my face flushed with heat.

Cory explained, “For eighteen months of my mission I worked and worked and worked, and nothing was working. Every time I met with my mission president I asked him what more I could do. And every time his response was the same, ‘Elder Stephens, you aren’t trusting the Lord enough.’ And every time I left frustrated because I didn’t know how to work for the Lord and do it His way. I worked even harder and we were barely teaching one lesson a month. Our nightly prayer was pleading with the Lord to help us teach more effectively, to speak Spanish more fluidly, to find people more efficiently. Nothing changed.

“Then one night as my companion and I knelt, I imagined a family we were teaching.” Cory held up his hand, his pointer finger pressed against his thumb. The whiteness of the top portion of his fingernail contrasted the blood-filled tips of his finger. “I had this much control of what they were doing right then. I realized that no matter how amazing our lessons were, and no matter how well we spoke Spanish, I had absolutely zero control whether or not they read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it was true. I begged the Lord to inspire them to read and pray right then while no one else was around and watching. After that, we were teaching more people than the zone combined.

“Eric you have to understand that no matter how hard you try to live the gospel, unless you do it for the Lord, you can accomplish nothing. If you want to go back to BYU-Idaho, do it, but do it for the Lord and not for you.”

I wanted to punch him. My anger swelled inside like an over-filled water-balloon held over a bunsen-burner. Gasping for breath, clenching my small wooden dowel, and with feeble attempts to hold my tears, I spoke. “You have absolutely no idea what I am going through right now. Two and a half weeks ago I was struggling to live a good life, and then I mess up. Within twenty-four hours I told Dad what happened and met with the bishop twice; the second time he told me my ecclesiastical endorsement was being pulled. The next weekend I sat in front of the Stake Presidency and twelve high-councilmen to explain what I did and why; and then they asked questions about it; and then they told me I was disfellowshipped from the church. And now, a week after that, I am driving back to Maryland to live with Mom and Dad, something that I never thought I would have to do again. I think I have handled myself pretty damn well so far. So don’t you dare talk to me about how to live my life and who to live it for. I don’t need this.”

Tears were falling freely from his eyes; no attempts were made to wipe them away. “Eric, you don’t know just how good he is.”


“Jesus Christ.”

He waited. “Do you remember the last time you knew he was real?”

I felt as though he put an iron set of football pads on my shoulders. “Yes.”

“When was it?”

“The night after I was told that I was getting my endorsement pulled. I was praying more sincerely than I had in two years. As I prayed I told the Lord I would not get up until he told me he was there. I repeated, ‘I need to know. I need to know. I need to know.’ Then, as if the thought was coming from the top of my head and not the front, I heard, ‘Of course I am.’ I began to thank him for all the people in my life at the moment. It moved rather quickly from my parents to the people at the writing center. I thanked him for Sister Morgan and everything she taught me without even knowing she taught it. I thanked him for Jacob, Alyssa, Megan, Kiersten, and Rebeckah as role models for what a marriage should be. I thanked him for my roommates Chandler, Ivor, Dan, and Nathan; especially Nathan and his ability to listen and not judge. And I thanked him for everyone else too. The writing center was the first time in my life I felt belonged to people I could truly call friends. Then, again came the voice at the top of my head with the words, ‘And I have always been here.’

“I know he is there Cory. I am afraid that I experience an answer, and then I try to live off of it without bothering to get another. I just get so caught up in everything else that I forget and let my logic take over.” Before I finished my sentence his arms surrounded me.

We embraced for a long time. We talked about other things for several hours until we were both too tired to talk anymore. As I lay on the stiff couch my right arm covered my eyes, over and over I repeated the words, “Thank you.”