Dandelion Wine

Skyler, you're lucky I don't delete this post. It's funny and interesting, but never and I mean never post "to lighten the mood of the blog.” If you sweep enough stuff under the table, you can’t eat at that table after awhile. This blog is a place where anyone can discuss anything (thus I'm letting your post stand), where we are NOT afraid to say the truth or hear it.
Matt's fine. We're all fine. In fact, Matt is more than fine and probably even eager to hear whatever anyone has to say. Talking is GOOD, healthy, and one of the best things about the Center (see Eric & Jami's comments). Geez, if people around me get any LIGHTER, they'll float away like dust motes--and seem just as insignificant as dust. We don't brush things off here like flies when what has happened affected many people. We deal with what happens--whether it's light stuff or heavy is not even a consideration. It's Nada, zero, absolutely unimportant.
But, I'm curious. Did this make you uncomfortable? Instead of clearing the air like it did for some, did it make you squirm a little? If so, why? And don't fire back defensively. Think about it. Why? In fact, I'm going to ask "why" of everyone who read and fidgeted and wanted to take out the little band-aids and stick them all over the blog. Don't you understand that says more about you than what is going on here?
Are you worried that Matt is taking more flack?
Matt, are YOU worried, hurting, embarrassed that we're talking about you, to you, with you? I'm going on the line here and say for Matt that he's strong enough to actually be interested in this stuff, since it's part of his growth, though I don't know that for sure and would invite him to respond.
Geez, I don't think we're dandelion fuzz here that blows away with every negative breeze. At least I don't think I've hired anyone like that--ever! Fun posts are fun and interesting, but not when they’re meant to distract or take away from a good discussion. What’s the matter with you? We talk and talk and talk until everyone feels heard, and then the changes happen. And people can breathe, and it feels good. I promise.
Man, in fact you really hit a big pet peeve of mine. Can you tell? Consider the swear words (instead of pink, flowered band-aids) that I'm mentally spewing all over this page. After hours of lectures, etc, I thought everyone out there knew that I don't believe there is any such thing as a negative mood that "needs lightened." There are dark moods, or fun moods, or heavy moods, hysterical moods, painful moods, laughing moods, but none of them are negative or positive-- THEY JUST ARE; dang it. Thank heavens. When we're dead, lying in our coffins, devoid of any kind of feeling, filled with numbing embalming liquid, then you can "lighten the mood" for us. Until then, let what happens happen. Crap happens. It just happens. And as long as it's sincere and honest, let it happen. Walk through it; don't delicately step around it, holding your nose in the air like a prima donna as if it doesn't happen. You want to ignore the crap in your own life, fine; there's plenty of it to ignore, but we're not doing that avoidance stuff here. NOTHING between people that we want to blow away like dandelion fuzz actually blows away. It stays in front of us, sometimes choking our guts out, until we look at it, and then, we look AGAIN--until it makes sense or irons out into peace. Geez, way to really push my buttons today. I'm very thankful for Matt, Aly, and Chan because their honesty feels clean and fresh and alive--even if some would say it's a little heavy. WHO CARES ABOUT THAT? Again, it's Nada. Not the point.

The Abode House

So, maybe to lighten the mood of the blog, I've decided to share with everyone the 25 mottos of the Abode House. They are, in no particular order, as follows:

1. The Abode House: Making mottos since before you were born.
2. Strictly business.
3. Let's build some pain bombs.
4. What have you done for the Abode House today?
5. I live in the Abode House--I do what I want.
6.The Abode House motto is to make mottos.
7. I'm hungry; it's time to cook.
8. I went to Abode House to live deliberately...NOT!
9. I want to read with you.
10. If you have a lot, neglect something.
11. Voids suck.
12. Bustin' makes me feel good.
13. Never, ever, under any circumstances, spontaneously combust.
14. Carpe ( fill in the blank )!
15. My Abode House is magic. (To be sung to the tune of With Arms Wide Open by Creed)
16. Power Fist!
17. Bring the rain!
18. It's an Abode thing; you wouldn't understand.
19. I've got important man stuff to do.
20. Go tell it on a mountian.
21. The more the bubbles, the sweeter the memory.
22. Shorthand is for sissies.
23. Every form of combustion known to man.
24. Make bold statements.
25. Roll out of bed classy.

In the spring of 2009, five men learned to live by, care for, and learn from these 25 simple mottos. These men gleaned important and invaluable life lesson from the mottos, and now I challenge you, followers of the WC blog, to do the same. Consider them, and they will consider you.


The Intellect is a lonely hunter.

Oh no, another Anonymous, whine, I'm still reeling from havin' Mr. Rogers on this website, and did Matt just call me "Sharon" (below) instead of Sister Morgan? Or was he talking about someone else?
I gotta agree 100% with Chan below in his response to Matt. Julie's right, and I'm right, and Chan's right. Ah, says Fiddler on the Roof, but we can't ALL be right. Yep. Yep. We are. Your post is filled with a lot of stuff, Matt. You do try hard—maybe too hard. I also know you want to be honest more than you want a lot of things, but you really were pretty much a jerk this semester (I missed the sentences in your post where you list all the ways others responded to you in the last weeks of school.) It did got serious the day I ended seminar, and then said “Everyone who had been offended by Matt this week, please stay.” I can't believe I did that, but did you notice the full room? You can’t surround yourself with barbed wire, using your mouth to strip down people and still feel surprised at being lonely. "Intelligent wit" is way overrated. What were you thinking? Others may not have been as worried about you as you think; they just wanted to stay close to you, Matt, seriously, but they didn’t want to feel hurt and were confused. As you implied in your post, any kind of judging and rejection is pain--for everyone.
Here’s the thing: I'm your friend, and I'm not going away no matter how jerk-faced you get, but I listened to more sensitive people than moi feeling confused about your actions and not knowing how to respond to your acid comments and angry tongue. You hurt them.
What I, myself, saw was you driving people away intentionally because you were one big open wound this semester, and that wasn’t ok with you for anyone to see, so I excused you—though maybe I was wrong—and didn’t pay much attention to it. (Except I took seminar time to publically shame you when too many people came into my office, and it got to be a dang, irritating pattern. . . . Nay, I didn't do that, did I? Crap. I'm sorry. What I meant to do was explain you to them. However, I shouldn't have to explain you to them. I think what Chan is saying is YOU are responsible for your relationships, and I think you know that already.)
We accept you because we like you—when you LET us. You're such an idiot about this. And you either like us, or you don’t. Keep it that simple. But, I don’t know anyone who has TOO many friends, especially of the caliber who work at the Center—every dang one of them.
Relationships are two-way, like Chan is trying to point out. They’re blessed responsibilities. They exist in the space BETWEEN people. The Savior (and the Beatles, not to sound irreverent--no comparison) said it well: You get what you give. To have wonderful friends, you have to BE a friend. Ha. Now I'm a Hallmark card, great, but, hey, I'm serious. And I know you DID try, Matt, you really did, but not enough. You don't just quit when it gets hard. You stand by people; you don’t run at the first sign of weakness in friends because it scares you about the weakness in yourself, you stay; you don't push people away when you're hurting (I'm the worst with this same fault); you don't take offense if you want true heart-friends—the kind that need no silly maintenance over the months and years but stand with you forever: as in our kind of friendship. It may be hard for you to believe, but people in the Center really care about you because they’ve seen what a good heart you have when you're being your "real" self. They like you in spite of your wit and sarcasm. Do you know how many people DON'T have that? I think the feelings in your post are real and honest, but it’s YOU who needs to accept you and face your self-betrayal right now. Plus, take yourself off the cross. You’re ok. It’s ok. You're going to make many more mistakes along the way. But, you are literally our brother—not figuratively—whether you like it or not. Like I said, I think we already do accept you—when you allow it. Stop pushing your friends away. Your friends, your future wife, and your relationship with the Savior are all you'll ever care about later. I know you don't want to be rude and unkind. I honestly know that about you.
How about a plan to help you stop being socially retarded? Here’s what I propose: You calm down, settle back into who you’ve been becoming for millions of years and just be who you are now--when you're not distracted(oh, here goes this 60’s stuff again), ya know? And when you don’t show respect and start testing your friends with your acid tongue again, I cut ¼ an inch off your tongue with a sharp knife. Huh? Huh? It’s quick and easy, and it’ll work—because I KNOW how much you want to be the good person you already are. You just got distracted by your own intelligence and forgot how wit is nothing without humility and love. How sad that it's its own lonely reward. That's not you. It's not. Stay with your heart. (Whew. I'm just reeking with the 60's stuff tonight. Sorry.)

Fred Rogers, fighter planes, and especially for youth Tacoma 2009.

I’m in Tacoma, Washington as an EFY counselor and just writing down some thoughts at the end of another day.

I think about this afternoon when the entire group of youths and adults sit in the middle of a grassy field while the sun sets over the pine trees. A hush sweeps over the group and the sky begins to roar; 420 teenagers (ages 14-18) and 30 adults stop laughing and talking and shouting to silently watch a fighter jet fill the sky with rumbling noise. The silence is profound.

I think about last night when, at 11:00, I walk in on my boys playing cards, and then I take a moment to talk with them about how they avoid living pornography like those underdeveloped cheerleaders who ran through the sprinklers in their underwear right as the boys walked home from the dance. Our discussion is interrupted by my building counselor who opens the door to tell us we need to be in bed. The next day in our counselor meeting, that building counselor says, “Sometimes we think it’s a good idea to be popular with our youth and stay up with them to play cards past lights out, but we need to have integrity and keep our word of obedience instead.” He never looks in my direction as he says this.

I think about another one of the building counselors, a girl whose eyes seem to indicate a depth and understanding about life she isn’t showing, the kind of depth I need in my friends. She’s a BYU graduate who probably got a 3.7 GPA and is the most popular counselor here. When I talk to her, I don’t know what to say to show myself, so I make puns and laugh too much. Tonight, I found out that, again, I didn’t qualify for the good student driving insurance discount.

I think about yesterday. It is 1:30, and I sit in a fixed, wooden chair in a lecture hall. I squeeze out of my seat to introduce the speaker, then sit back down. On my desk rests a green photocopy. I pick it up; it reads, “Your feedback as a counselor is invaluable. Sometimes you will note things participants won’t acknowledge. Each EFY teacher is interested in improving. The ratings you give are important. Thank you for your honest feedback.” I place the paper down and remember when I taught seminary for a week last year. I spent four hours a day on my lessons, carefully reading and learning the material, and then I organized it in order to teach the content as effectively as possible. I thought I’d do well because I seem to interact with teenagers so easily, and teaching is one of the few things I think I’m actually great at (not just good.) Every day after teaching when I read my evaluation, my scores averaged a six out of ten, five being average. In that hard, wooden seat, I remember how I gave up the idea of teaching seminary as a career, then fear squeezes my heart as I wonder if I’ll be evaluated as a counselor at the end of the week.

And I finally think about Fred Rogers and how, out of all the dead people that have come in and out of my life, I miss him the most right now. Every day, Mr. Rogers changed his cardigan sweater and sneakers, and then invited us to be part of his neighborhood. In a slow, comforting pace, he told us he liked us just the way we are. A few weeks ago, I decided that they need a show like his for twentysomethings, where a nice man just comes on the TV and says that we’re good people, and that we’re alright how we are, and we don’t have to be evaluated for efficiency or proficiency or other areas of improvement. I want someone to just look at me and smile and genuinely say, “You’re a good guy and try really hard and I like you just the way you are,” and mean it without adding some way I need to change, or telling how I offend them, or trying to save me because they misinterpret my desire as a cry for help, or saying it just because we're supposed to say good things about people when they aren't feeling good.

But right now, in Tacoma, Washington at EFY, I feel like there’s no one but God and Fred Rogers, and that's painfully lonely.



I was going through my old WC journal, and I found this quotation I scribbled down during seminar a few years back. I do believe she was referring to when we take over a session and bulldoze the patron. I could be wrong.

Sis. Morgan: I can't do anything to stop you. I wish I could put in a lever that would drop you straight to hell, but I can't.

I love you Sis. Morgan.


Brad just found out...

that he's older than Wheel of Fortune. What a day.


I miss Katie.

Every time I see the new Zen garden sitting on the front desk, I miss Katie Hammar. The clean white sand and the scarred, dull-glossy black stones remind me of the sea shells she brought in a few times before she left. I remember running my fingertips along the clean edges of the smooth shells and poking the pads of my fingers on the points of the poky shells. I think of her quiet excitement of bringing us this basket of shells she found in her shed (questions about that,) and that noise the shells made as they slid against each other while Katie so carefully removed them. I think about her standing at the front table, the one furthest from the windows, and deliberately arranging the shells in her OCD way. She had this diamond sparkle in her eyes while she did those things. It looked like innocence.

And so I come into the Writing Center and see the Zen garden right away and miss Katie almost every time. Maybe it’s that she represents what I think is still good in the world. When my boundaries changed and I was moved into her ward, she was the Relief Society President and the genuine love she held for her sisters sat so deeply in her eyes.

Once, I left to use the restroom or something and returned to the Writing Center to see Katie place my laptop back where I’d left it. “I was going to play a joke on you, but I didn’t want you to get to worried,” she giggled.

And that’s her. Someone so pure, so well-intentioned and childlike I can’t even fully comprehend it; someone who seems to be the embodiment of good. I miss having her around. I’ve never missed a missionary before, even my sister Jen.

Homemade Adventure

I've always wanted to go white water rafting. At church in it was a strictly-for-boys activity though, and we girls had to settle for canoeing in the mucky, shallow, still water of the Kansas River. The older I get, the less adventurous I get, so I've worried I might never take the opportunity to dare the rapids. Yesterday, I fulfilled my dream on a small scale: We floated the canal in homemade rafts.

I know it doesn't sound as risky or daring as rafting on the Colorado, but it had it's moments! We rushed through roaring rapids, escaped the notorious thorns of the Russian Olive through fierce maneuvering, and scaled a fallen tree trunk just in time to catch the raft coming out on the other side. We made enemies of thieving pirates and friends of The Lone Rafter--a brave man. We narrowly missed a stampede of wild animals and used our long poles to guide our crew to safety. At a pace of nearly two miles an hour, it was a test of wit and endurance.

It was all I'd imagined it to be and more. Really, it was happiest half hour I've had in a long time. Today we embark on yet a new adventure in the Iona canal!