Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Role-Play and I'm Proud Of It

I have a confession.

I like role-playing. As in, Dungeons and Dragons. Except, not D&D at all, because actually I hate that game. More like as in 7th sea, or Legends of the Five Rings, or Changeling.

I don't really know where to go on from here. About half of my readers are various college friends, and already know this. They know that Avram owns large quantities (over a hundred) role-playing books, and that he loves the hobby. The rest of my readers are family or Internet acquaintances, who hopefully aren't thinking I'm the devil spawn right now. Because, trust me, role-playing gets a lot of bad press. It's really nothing like what you probably know about it.

When I met Avram, I had only ever heard of D&D. I had been interested in it somewhat, and had even made overtures of starting a game my freshman year with my friend Robert. But then life intervened, and I started dating a boy named Dennis, and he didn't want me to role-play (ironically, because now he plays D&D every week with his brother, last I heard, but hey, we all have phases we go through, so it's all okay), and my life got busy, and so it never happened. Then my junior year, I met Avram, and he began talking about other role-playing games, and somehow one Friday night after cooking guild a bunch of us made characters, and went and sat outside the elementary school by the Creamery on Ninth and played a very fun game of Changeling.

And I liked it. It was like acting, only not for a large audience. It was like playing pretend, when I was a kid, except there were rules and I had written down about my character, instead of just making it up on the spot, and saying with my sisters, "Okay, then I say, this, and then you'll say that back," back and forth when we used to play. It was the same, only I was older, and just said my spontaneous lines first person.

For those who don't know, role-playing is where a group of people tell/act out a story together, guided by the Game Master (GM), who plays every other person you meet (called Non-Playing-Characters, or NPCs). It can have anywhere from two people to twelve or so, although the more people involved the harder it is to focus a group. D&D bears close relation to some video RPGs (role-playing games), like World of Warcraft, except all the role-playing has been taken out, and you're playing the forms only on a computer game by yourself.

Role-playing has three important aspects; First, it takes place in person, with other people. It's a social activity by its very nature. We've played anywhere from about twice a month to just one-shots that happen on one occasion, about once a year. Second, you tell stories, like read-your-own-adventure books do. They're fun or serious, fantasy or pulp (think Indiana Jones) or Superhero or whatever you want. Third, there are books you have as guidelines, that help you imagine the world, or the combat system, or possible adventures/plot hooks.

I think it's better spent time than watching movies or TV, since it uses your imagination and creativity. I think it's better than Video Games which tend to be very solitary and rigid, so you don't actually use creativity much at all. I think it's as good as or better than about half the books out there, the "entertaining" ones (classics and "literature" do beat role-playing out in a good, better, best comparison).

I understand that it has a lot of bad press, from the news stories about people who are crazy, and think that whatever they role-play is real life (umm, this is really, really rare, and there are more people who do school shootings than do this), or like the bad guys on one of the seasons of Buffy role-play. But honestly, it's not that weird.

I'm writing this whole spiel because I want the world to know that I consider myself a normal, well-adjusted person. And I like RPGs.

I spent the last four and a half years that I've known Avram playing with him, and having fun, but I've always been careful to define myself as "not a role-player" because I didn't want to be associated with all the bad-press, the well-intentioned mothers. and even my own hidden prejudices of wanting to be "normal" and worried that if I defined myself as a role-player I would no longer be normal.

But then we've been getting ready for Samuel, Avram's brother and best friend extraordinaire to visit, and planning a role-playing game for when he comes, 7th sea (a swashbuckling game, like playing out The Princess Bride), and I found myself wishing that we were starting a whole campaign (what a series of role-playing session that tell a continuous story are called), because it's really fun, and we haven't actually played since living in Provo. And I realized that I'd crossed the line, and I was a role-player, instead of just someone who role-plays because her husband does (which I had previously defined myself as).

And I'm okay with that. Because hey, I belong to a religion that gets a lot of bad press, but I'm still proud to be a Latter-day saint. And I'm a stay-at-home Mom, and that gets bad press too (from people who think that I'm wasting my life), but I love it. So what's a hobby on top of this that people mis-understand?

My brother-in-law Samuel recently wrote a post that got me thinking about all of this, and he goes into his reasons why he role-plays, which explain it better than I could. My husband also talks about this.

So let's all share the love. I won't make fun of people who watch American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, and you'll be nice about my role-playing, and we'll all be good Christians.

P.S. I'm not a geek. I do not define myself as a geek. I do not do geeky things. Therefore, role-playing is not geeky, it's not nerdy, it's just a hobby. Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road...

I want a Mama's Boy. Or maybe Elisheva can grow into a Mama's girl, because currently it ain't looking so good for Lydia being a Mama's anything. Don't get me wrong, I know that Lydia loves me, and kisses me good night before going downstairs - with her father, who reads her three books in her room every night before bedtime. Because he's the favored parent.

It's been this way a long time; Lydia loves her Daddy, and he's been her best friend for nigh on a year now, basically since I weaned her. I'm okay with this, after all, I love her Daddy too, and he's my best friend as well (he's a well-loved man). But sometimes I wish that she wanted me, instead of him.

Now we're living at Avram's parent's house for a couple of months, and Lydia has a new best friend; her Grandma. Or as Lydia calls her, her Mom. We think this is because Avram calls her Mom, and Grandma is trying to turn this into Mum, but the fact remains, Lydia loves her to death.

I understand; Mum blows bubbles with her, and cooks with her, and takes time to read to her and play to her. I, I am significantly lamer.

All my hopes are now on either having a boy who will love me, or Elisheva turning into a Mama's girl.

(And yes, I know that kids go through stages, and such, and soon I'll be the only adult in her life the vast majority of the time, and that might help.)

(I'm aware the title has nothing to do with this post. I was just thinking of the Elton John song, when he sang it on the Muppet's Show.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Two Bedroom Townhouse Apartment of My Own

We've been seriously considering the cardboard box option for housing in Ohio, with Avram getting a deep freezer box, me getting a refrigerator box, Lydia with a dishwasher box, and poor Elisheva just qualifying for a microwave box, since she's only three months old. Cardboard does have its own panache, stick-it-to-the-man sort of independence and disregard for either societal expectations for housing that has indoor plumbing, electricity and (here's the real kicker) that you can stand up in, or disregard for climate wear, like walls that don't get soggy when it rains, or snows, or from the humidity in the air. However, I think that in the long run, although we'll have to pay rent, moving into an apartment is the better choice for us.

The problem isn't rental amounts; we're in the Midwest "fly-over" part of the world, and so that thankfully is the most positive part of home-hunting, No, it's the being in a different state than the apartments you're looking at, and not knowing whether what looks good on monitor is that snazzy in real life. Although I've called countless apartment complexes and played 20 questions with them about their apartments, so I'm as informed as you can be, without physically being there.

I'm just not as lucky-go-happy in home living than I used to be - I actually have standards about where I want to live. In college in my single days, I lived in some real economy housing to save money. I lived in one apartment complex where the bathroom was directly over the kitchen table, and in most of the apartments the toilet had leaked through the ceiling. Lovely. Or another place I lived, called the Homely Cottage, which had a landlord who was about 200 years old, and a very nice man. Except his hobby was puttering around our house, and so he was over there most days doing something or another to "improve" the home. Including the day that I broke up with my fiance, and I was drowning my sorrows with my friend Michele by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and after it was over we were so tired we fell asleep in the living room on one of the couches, although not the nine feet long gold one, and he kept on coming through the living room and half waking us up, and I felt like my privacy was a little violated.

Or another house, where there were ten girls, and I lived in a converted family room with two other girls, and our room didn't have proper windows, being in the basement, but rather small skimpy ones at the top of the wall that were actually underground, and covered by a grill, and I felt like I was in quarantine with leprosy and held away from the world and light.

Or my other basement apartment, with a closet for a kitchen. You could only fit two people uncomfortably into it.

Yes, so let's not dwell on my seeming inability to pick out nice digs. Besides, all the ghetto ones provide better stories anyway. I think that my luck has finally turned, because after hours and days of extensive searching on the interwebs, I have found The Place.

It's called Meadowbrook Manor, and is townhouse style apartments six miles from Avram's building at OSU. Yeah, so it's a jaunt, but OSU is right downtown, and so all the housing right around it is either way to expensive or way too undesirable. Avram's going to ride his bike to it, so he'll have lots of good muscles and endurance and things. Most importantly, it's cute, well kept, has Washer and Dryer connections (hallelujah!) 980 square feet, a move up of a whole 320 square feet from Wymount (rest in peace my first beloved married apartment), lots of green areas and mature trees, air conditioning (which will also be a first for anywhere I've lived since marriage), and is a good price. (Plus it's north of campus, which is supposed to be better than South of campus).

I called, and grilled the manager on all sorts of questions about the apartments, and she was very informative and nice, and I asked for an application, and one is on its way. Now we just have to pass the credit, employment, and housing history that seem to be standard with apartment renting now-a-days (read, first time I've had that in my live, having only ever rented in the sub-standard BYU housing market, where they don't seem to care about anything but your rent checks).

Of course, I'm not looking forward to filling that out, with questions like where we've lived in the last two years, which has three moves, twice living with his parents for free (we sound like we're going nowhere fast, but it was transitional housing) and once in England. But with my awesome credit score, and Avram's steady employment (well, fellowship), I'm sure we'll make it through into our new housing, which we will love forever, or at least for the next couple of years.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Future Self Portrait

I have an image in my mind of a woman.

When she moves to a state and lives with her in-laws for two months, this woman blooms where she is planted. She knits a baby afghan, or at least does some other self improving project instead of leaving her knitting needles untouched since England, because it's "too hot to touch yarn." She always puts away her clothes after washing them, instead of letting them sit in the hamper clean, pulled out day-by-day as they are worn again. She lives for the present, and doesn't spend her days dreaming of moving into a townhome in Columbus, with amenities like Washer and Dryer connections and a back porch (yes, I aim high). She blows bubbles with her daughter, and doesn't complain, even if it's the third time that day, and it's hot and in the sun and there are ticks out there, because she knows that children grow up fast, and only tomorrow Lydia will be twenty and not two, and she'll wonder where the years have gone, and how good it was that she blew three metric tons of bubbles when Lydia still wanted to spend time with her, instead of hoping the bubble mixture runs out soon.

I'm very intimate with this woman.

She also spent her priceless experience living abroad in England seeing all of the local sights, like the running horse of Uffington (only nine miles away), or Stonehenge, or even the English countryside, instead of staying inside every day because it was cold and she was pregnant, and it was easier to just stay in the apartment, instead of lugging Lydia all over.

She wakes up early, to not waste the day. She writes thank you cards, and birthday cards, and when she's feeling really ambitious, Anniversary and thanksgiving cards. When people around her go through tragedies/hard times, she helps them without them asking, knowing that if she just feels sympathy inside, and waits for them to come to her and ask for help, that she'll be waiting for forever.

She only talks well of others, and isn't personally acquainted with the word "catty." She moves out of her shell and invites people over to dinner and games, instead of staying at home and looking at things on the Internet by herself (and sometimes with her husband).

She actually takes her knowledge of nutrition, and uses it to put vegetables in her toddler's lunches, instead of filling her up with snack puddings and zebra cakes to keep her quiet.

She reads good, uplifting books, and doesn't think that books need to be read in one sitting, but can space her reading out through the day(s).

She's organized. Not just in her head, but in life as well. Everything has a place, and it goes there regularly. Dishes are done after each meal, instead of when the plates run out. The bathroom is cleaned on a regular basis, instead of when her husband volunteers to clean the poor toilet already, because she never avoids toilets because they are inherently yucky.

She doesn't let potential awkwardness stop her from sharing the gospel, and never just says, "my church" because when she says, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" it sounds too long, and people give her blank stares. She's never accidentally said in a talk on Sunday that she hates missionary work, when all she meant was that it scares her.

She has tact. Loads of it.

She's one of those people that you tell everything to, because she's so empathic. Empathic is basically her middle name. And she can keep secrets.

She doesn't resent her daughters' needs ever, but loves them and their messes and complaints and refusals to sleep, and insistence on crying when left to sleep although her parents have done this for months, and think the crying-it-out people are delusional when they say that this is effective, and the child stops crying eventually, because this child doesn't and she's very old and aware, and that's probably it....

She never gets carried away in writing, and can use grammar, and doesn't have run-on sentences.

She always gets dressed when she wakes up, before her family, mind you, and never just lounges around in her pajamas until all hours of the day, when she realizes she should get dressed before her husband comes home from work and sees her, and then she realizes that she's the stereotypical reason personified why young women fear being stay-at-home moms, because then they'll become frumpy and wear sweats (or pajama pants), and their hair will be lanky, and they'll have whiny kids hanging on them in dirty white onesies.

No, this woman is an inspiration everywhere, of a wife, a mother, a friend, a Latter-day Saint.

She's an inspiration to me, at least. Because I am her. At least, I'm trying to be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Through the Deep Waters I Call Thee To Go

I just read about Artemis' baby girl on FMH. All this on top of everything else that has been happening lately in my own family combined to just crush my heart. My sister Amy's husband Todd had three strokes this week; he's only 34, and they have a little boy, Oliver, just Lydia's age. It's still too soon to know how everything will turn out, but he can talk and is responsive, and we had a family fast today for him and Amy.

Doctrinally I understand trials and blessings; when hard things have happened (frankly vicariously through my family, such as when my sister Camilla had a stillborn son Taylor in 2005, or this trial now; my own life has been fairly easy) my faith hasn't wavered. I know that families sealed in the temple are eternal. I know that this life is a crucible, wherein we are tested and tried. And I know the truth of these following verses, which comforted me greatly after I broke up with my then fiance in 2004 (not to compare that self-inflicted trial with these greater ones in scope, but I did feel at the time that it was a great tribulation, even if brought upon by myself).

It says in Doctrine and Covenants 58: 2-5: "...He that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings."

But all this knowledge doesn't make the tribulation any easier, or make me want it any more.

And I know that being good doesn't protect you from trials; quite the opposite, even. But even so the natural part of me cries when I hear about people who go through sad trials.

I love it in the New Testament when Jesus comes to where Mary and Martha after Lazarus their brother has died in John 11. Both Martha and then Mary say to him, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."

Now, the Lord knows that he will raise Lazarus from the dead, in fact, he's told Martha this already (although she didn't understand him). But when Mary says this same thing to him, and then begins weeping, along with those around here, Jesus weeps too.

He's not crying for Lazarus' life; he know that Lazarus will live again, both when he raises him shortly hereafter, but also after his resurrection in the eternities.

And yet he weeps for him.

I love this because even though our trials and tribulations in this life are as short to the Lord as Lazarus' death is in the story, he cares for our trials; he love us, he has compassion for us. He's even experienced our pains and infirmities before. He knows that eternally, we'll be resurrected through him, just like he brought Lazarus back to life. And yet he still wept for Lazarus, and I feel that he still weeps with us through our tribulations.

I guess that's at the heart of the scripture "mourn with those that mourn." Amy & Todd, Artemis, anyone else going through tribulations currently, I may not be able to change much about your life, but I can mourn and weep with you, just as the Savior does. And we can all rejoice for the glory that comes after tribulation, which the Savior will bring.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Come, Come Ye Saints and Walk Back to Missouri

Editor's Comment: There is an official Church comment on all of this, called Missouri Myths in the 1979 April Ensign. I had no idea it was this large of an idea; very fascinating. Everyone should read it (well, if you've ever thought about walking to Missouri.)

Today our ward held its 24th of July (Pioneer Day) celebration. To celebrate, we watched Brigham Young (a movie made in 1940) about the trip west. There's a lot I could say about the historical/not historical parts of the movie, but in a sentence, it wasn't very historical (the main antagonist, who tried to take over the church on multiple occasions in the movie was named Angus Duncan. Who's Angus Duncan you might ask? Yeah, that was my reaction as well.), but it was a good movie, that portrayed the church well. It even portrayed polygamy well.

Over all I enjoyed watching it; they had real shots of the Salt Lake mountains in the back ground, and I could see Twin Peaks, and it made me all homesick and everything. When the Saints entered the Valley I wanted to stand up and sing, "Utah, people working together, Utah, what a great place to be...this is the place!" Yeah, so I have a strong cheesy side. Besides, I love the Mormon heritage.

After all, I've always wanted to be a Pioneer. Although I hate little buggies, both in my food, outdoors, hypothetically in my hair, basically anywhere. I think the Celestialized world will have no cockroaches, ticks, mosquitoes, anything that stings besides bumblebees, fleas, or lice. Or anything else I don't like. But I do like to wear dresses, especially old fashioned ones (of course, most of my experience is in Medieval Clothing), and I like to cook, and live in brick houses in Nauvoo (at least, I think I would like this one, given the chance). But my real qualification is that I've always wanted to walk back to Missouri.

Okay, I want a comment count; for all the Mormon readers (which may be basically everyone, but if you're not Mormon, please stay and comment anyway), who has ever heard that someday we'll walk back to Missouri. Is this a Utah/"pioneer heritage" phenomenon? As Avram points out, is there a reason that we think we will have to walk all the way to Missouri, as apposed to drive? He also points out that the entire church can't all congregate in Missouri, so for the most point we're not going to go back there at all as members of the church. He's not either Utahn or of Pioneer Heritage, so doesn't have this Missouri mindset as a background, hence the scepticism.

My mom tells a story of when she was a child (think late fifties, early sixties), and a neighbor girl was over at her house visiting. Now, my Mom grew up in the Utah heartland; first in the town of Emery, of 300 people, most of whom I'm related too, and then in the comparatively booming metropolis of a couple of thousand people in Manti. My mom's family had just purchased an old upright piano for like $25 or something, and this neighbor girl really wanted a piano too. When her Mom came to take her home, she asked her Mom if they could get a piano too, and her Mom said no, because when they walked back to Missouri, they wouldn't be able to take it with them.

I know you're all laughing to yourselves, thinking what a silly idea; to walk all the way to Missouri. I agree with you. And yet, as a child I really believed that someday I would walk back to Missouri. Parts of me still want to. Why? Because then I would get to be a Pioneer. Maybe this idea originated from the early Pioneers in Utah, who believed that maybe they would get to leave their desert exile and return to Zion hopefully in their lifetime. And then maybe they passed down this longing for home through their descendants and now we carry it as a racial longing to return, via the same method our ancestors arrived in Utah; by foot. Or maybe believers in this are delusional.

Not that I think there are many believers in this; more like assumers. If we actually think about it, we all laugh and deny any connection with this idea, but at the side of our mind it lurks, waiting to come out in subtle changes in perception, like believing we'll all be in Missouri at the Second Coming. Or maybe I'm just describing myself here.

And come on, if you take a car, it's only good until the gas runs out. And of course there won't be gas in desperate times like these, and a car is only as good as its fuel (as we're all learning to our sad, expensive detriment lately). And that must be why there are so many youth treks; for secret practice for walking to Missouri. I've already planned that if/when I do walk back I'm going to take my medieval dresses I used to wear for Medieval re-enactment in college, because they're comfortable and wear well, and can be used as blankets too. Hey, I'm not crazy, I'm prepared.

Anyone interested in joining my wagon train?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Surreptitious Little Protein

While we live here with Avram's parents for two months in between England and Ohio, Mom Shannon does the vast majority of the cooking. I'm spoiled living here, and although I really enjoy cooking, I also love just showing up at the dinner table and eating (and then cleaning up afterwards, because I'm not a complete schlub). So last night we all enjoyed some soup. Mom Shannon had made a Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup, which sounds weird, but is really delicious; she made it last Summer and I absolutely adored it, and as it's her favorite soup, she made it again.

So I'm sitting there, settling into my dinner, enjoying the flavor, when I notice what looks like a little white worm in my bowl. A teensy, weensy worm. I calmed myself down from my instant inner panic, took a deep breath, and kept on eating. But it was still there, and it still looked a little bit like a worm, with a dark spot at one end. And slightly ribbed.

I asked the others eating this soup, if they thought it was a worm. The general consensus was that it couldn't be a worm, that this barley had been bought this very week, and that it was most likely a piece of the barley that had come off in the cooking. And this seemed very plausible and true, because I could know make out upwards of ten to twenty of them. Just little, harmless barley bits. To show my conquering over fear and other silly imaginings, I even stuck just the "worm" in my mouth; yep, tastes fine. Definitely no worms here.

Silly Thora.

A bowl and a half later, I finished dinner and began cleaning up. But those harmless little pieces of barley that sure looked like worms to me kept on bothering me. So I picked one up still stuck in an empty bowl, and squeezed one end, and it's insides came out.

Little worm insides.

But no, it was impossible that the barley could be that worm-ridden without noticing. But I know that sometimes I flair towards the dramatic, so I went and told Avram I really thought they were worms. He looked closely at one, and lo and behold, there were legs.

Yup, I ate worms for dinner. Loads of them. And I couldn't taste the difference.

My stomach spent the rest of the night wondering whether it should hurl, or just be grateful for the extra protein. And I still feel slightly sick when I think about it.

So if you go to buy barley, watch out, it may be infested. (Although it really wasn't Mom Shannon's fault that she hadn't noticed in the cooking; they were really very surreptitious little buggies). Although, you can just come to our house and have some leftover soup, because we'd already put the leftovers away when this all came to light, and my father-in-law can't stand throwing out perfectly good food (meaning it's not rotten, not that it's not bug free), so there you go. It's in our fridge waiting for you. I certainly won't be sampling any more, even if it did taste good. (Which it did, and don't let this prejudice you against my mother-in-law's cooking, because she's a much better cook than I am. And I think I'm a good cook.)

I used to eat cherries with worms that grew in our back yard. I just tried not to think about it, or eat half a cherry, and then look at the remaining half. So I shouldn't be disgusted. But I am.

Really, it's just the end of times. After all, we're also having huge tick infestations here in Virginia as well. On the "plague" level. So don't be surprised when a fresh well breaks out underneath the Temple Mount, and runs to the Dead Sea and heals it, and the moon turns to blood, and we all walk back to Missouri (this is a whole 'nother topic...), because I'm telling you, I have the inside track. And the end is here.

Right here.

The End.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Down Memory Lane in Search of Fame

I just signed up at a blogroll of Mormon Mommy Blogs, including people who aren't Mormon, but who have decent content. And then I realized that I was bored with my title, hadn't updated my blog since last Sunday, and basically I needed a blog/writing makeover.

As we can all tell, unfortunately this post isn't it. Because of course my mind blanked.

But I wanted to sign up because hey, I'm voyeuristic, and like to read other's blogs, and I hope that other's are out there like me, because I love for people to read my blog, even if they don't know me.

I guess this relates to how I always wanted to be "discovered" as a child, and make it into the movies. Like most children out there, I was convinced that I had a secret talent, a hidden charisma just waiting for the chance to break out in front of the whole world. I didn't want this for the money, or even just the fame alone; I wanted it for the appreciation of my (supposed) talent.

I even tried out for the Church acting list thingy that they keep, and then cull people from for Church videos. I memorized a long speech that Anne of Green Gables made to Marilla about picking flowers with all the students one spring day. I copied that beloved speech out into my journal (a green one, that I named Laurel [I was going through a "I talk to my journal, and she has a name" stage), by candlelight. Because hey, I was nothing if not a romantic child. Spots of wax even dropped onto the page.

Then I delivered it to them in all my mustered charisma and Anne-ism.

I even listed one of my talents as screaming, and they asked for a sample, and I went to the end of the room, and screamed with all my might at them. And yet for some inexplicable reason I never received a phone call asking me to be in a church movie, preferably as the starring role.

Some things just remain mysteries.

So because of some over-active lungs and imaginations that I was actually Anne of Green Gables stuck in the twentieth century with normal brown hair and no Gilbert, I was never discovered.

Years later I had a close brush with everyone-loving-my-talent when on a whim as a sophomore I tried out for the one act plays East High in Salt Lake City put on every year. I searched and searched for a good monologue to audition with. Because of my previous Anne experience, I steered away from trying to pick my own "good" monologue and then somehow picking the longest and most boring speech in the book instead, and so I searched through collections of monologues.

And then I found it.

It started, "My roommate steals my cigarettes. She steals my cigarettes, and this creates a rage in me...."

Yes, I knew that despite the fact I was a good Mormon girl, and had never actually touched a cigarette, and that I was auditioning for a highschool play, I truly resonated with this monologue about my errant roommate.

So I memorized it. And the night before I had to deliver it, my family was at the dollar theatre, and I saw a girl throw her empty cigarette pack in the trash. So I asked my step dad, who as a convert and had once smoked was used to dealing with such evil items, to get it for me. He complied, and then that night I cut a straw down to the size of a cigarette and placed it in the empty pack, which I then nested inside a manila envelope in my backpack.

The next day at school I spent the whole day envisioning the powers-that-be somehow deciding to search my backpack and finding that criminal evidence, and how I would recite to them my monologue, and explain it was an essential prop, and just dearly hope that they couldn't arrest me (or whatever other consequence my over-stretched imagination came up with) on the basis of having cigarette paraphernalia alone.

I safely made it to my audition, with the incriminating pack still untouched.

At the audition, everyone delivered a monologue they had prepared, and the rules were there was to be no clapping in between any of them.

So when my turn came, I walked up there, pulled out my straw "cigarette" from the pack, crumpled the pack and threw it down in rage and horror, and began, "My roommate steals my cigarettes, she steals my cigarettes, and this creates a rage in me...." (Ok, so that's actually all I remember anymore; I'm really not trying to just leave a dramatic ending).

At the end, everyone in the room clapped, including the people I was auditioning for. Yes, they clapped me off the stage. And the person who was casting people picked me for her own play she had written, as the starring role.

Man, was I famous, and appreciated for my acting ability at that brief moment. Yes, I got to play a girl named Epicurious, who was putting on a cooking show with her friends, the Cynic and the Stoic. And the Stoic liked me, and we kissed at the end of the play. Which was actually the first time I kissed anyone. But I need to stay on topic, so I won't go into how everyone stood around us, and gave us kissing tips the first time we practiced the kiss, and I wanted to melt into the floor and die, or how he decided he was gay shortly after, or how the guy who played the Cynic did marajuana every night, and still managed to pull a 3.92 gpa for all four years of highschool. Nope, I'm Mrs. Stay-on-topic.

And then I was given an award at the end of the year for best upcoming actress, and they all loved me, and it was wonderful.

Until I decided to up and randomly go to a Boarding School, Wayland Academy, in Wisconsin instead because they sent me a recruitment letter and a scholarship and financial aid, and I had spent the half of my childhood that I wasn't wishing I was Anne of Green Gables wishing that I was going off to live in England with my fictional great Aunt, who would send me to boarding school, preferably all of this occurring in the 19th century.

So I left my loving crowds, who promptly forgot all about me, and then I was nobody again, at least in the acting/fame department. I even tried out for plays, but they kept on giving me weird roles, like a Hot Box dancer in Guys and Dolls, or the drunk actress in You Can't Take it With You. And I'm basically sure I was the only person in that entire school who had never drunk alcahol at all, and I had to pretend to be wasted on stage, including off-key singing.

The things I do for a little recognition.

But I was never appreciated again like I had been before. And it's all gone downhill from there; now if my mother and sister Camilla alone comment on my post I feel like my little circle of fame has widened.

So...if we can remember back that far, before I drove you all down my memory lane, I've signed up for this list of Mormon Blogs, and although my acting possibilities of fame are over, perhaps I'm just coming into my writing possibilities.

Because all the time I was waiting to be discovered, and become an actor, I was also an avid journal writer, and planning to someday publish them, and become internationally as well-known as Anne Frank. And now I have my shining chance to make it good.

Oh, my faithful readers, most of whom I've either roommated with or are family, prepare to be intimate with a famous person. Or at least to read a lot. I'm pretty sure at least one of the two will happen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Credit Report

The U of U sent me a letter, and my medical records were stolen, or something, so now my social security is roaming the world at large, waiting to be stolen. Very comforting. But to make me feel better, they gave me free subscription to some consumer credit report company online and $25,000 insurance in case someone goes hog wild on my accounts. My sister says she's gotten the same letter before (which makes me wonder how secure the U is...), and nothing happened to her info, so let's all pray it will be the same in my case.

Anyhow, I signed up (or rather, Avram signed up on my behalf, because he's nice like that), and it turns out I have a credit score which the website rated as excellent (I actually had the real score on here, but then Avram was worried that I shouldn't put such potentially stealable information on the Internet, so I didn't. If you're really curious, email me).

I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised, because I've kind of never had a credit card. I'd like to be able to say that I've never had one, but when I was going to Egypt on a study abroad my Mother was worried that I would be stuck in a horrible situation and need some quick access to money, and so got me a subsidary card to her and Don's (my step-dad) account. I used it once, to buy my plane tickets, and then I immediately paid her back. But because of that card, that credit card technically shows up on my credit history. Which would be really bad, but then a couple of years later Don's dad died, they inherited his insurance stuff, paid off all of their debt, and closed the account. So now it looks like I paid off a bunch of debt.

Good, I guess.

Regardless, except for that long dead account, my life is credit-card-less, because I don't believe in them. It's true, I really don't. I always hear financial advice like, “Get a credit card, but then pay off the balance every month, because you need one for good credit.” Except for that every single person I've ever known in my entire life who has had a credit card has not managed to completely follow that advice; at some point they carried over a balance, accrued interest, and it was all downhill from there. I've also heard that you should have a credit card “just in case,” but I don't believe in that, either. For one thing, since Avram's in school still, if we were really randomly desperate, we would get a student loan instead, because it's the friendliest kind of debt there is. Which is still pretty ugly when it comes time to pay off.... And once he's out of school, I'm going to do what Ramsey suggests, and keep my own emergency money fund, instead of depending on a credit card to do it for me. And I can use my debit card for anything else a credit card can do.

Besides, should we really be taking financial advice about the necessity of credit card debt from credit card companies? I mean, I really don't think that they have our best interests at heart, you know?

And even credit card-less my credit score makes the cut for the lowest amount of interest rate for a mortgage. Although we're still not going to buy a house, (sniff, sniff), because we don't have the extra money for things like house repairs, or lawn mowers, and things like that.

I wish I could say that I was completely out of debt, but I can't. So I won't. But I really believe in no debt. I've heard really good things about Dave Ramsey's financial beliefs/system/thingy – for one thing, he thinks you should get rid of your credit cards too. (I'm mentioning him to show that some real financial people think the same way that I do). And hey, I'm proof you can still have no current credit cards, or even any except for one long dead one (like three years gone), and still maintain good credit. In fact, you don't even need any money; I don't work, we have a lot of student loans, and we're dirt poor (for the time being; someday, when Avram's 85 he'll still be making a $100,000 a year while you're all on your deathbeds. At least, that's what I tell myself to make myself feel better about the whole “getting a Ph.d. until you're in your early thirties process.” Because Professors can basically teach until they fall over dead, because it's not a physically demanding profession. Unless they want to retire, of course.)

But I've never made a late payment on anything in my life. That's got to count for something.

So go ahead, rip up your credit cards today. Heck, quit your job, become a stay-at-home Mom. I'm telling you, it's the key to financial success. No, really. Except don't rip up your credit card payments; I'm pretty sure that's not the key to financial success.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Westward Ho!

Despite having been fairly productive today (although I'm not living in my own house, and so being productive is consisting of organizing my bedroom and taking care of my daughters, and that's it), I feel like there's something I have to do, something I need to prepare for. I think and think about it, and then I remember; Ohio. That's what I'm getting ready for.

Too bad I don't move for almost another two months.

I've been in a liminal mode since a year ago May, when I left Provo and my beloved Wymount Apartment and ventured into the big wide world beyond BYU. Since then I've dwelt in Virginia for five months, in stifling humid heat, in England for nine months in the perma-slightly-cold, and now I'm here again in the heat. But this time, finally, the end is in sight.

Soon I will be moving somewhere, and settling down there. At least for six years. But right now to me that feels like forever. Lydia will be graduating from second grade when Avram gets his Ph.d. Looking over that last sentence, I realize that it could actually sound depressing, but I'm already resigned to the fact that Avram won't work full time he's in his thirties, and so I'm just focusing on the settling down part.

When I was a kid I thought that I wanted to marry someone who moved a lot when I grew up. I actually wanted to marry a diplomat, and move to other countries being all diplomatic like, or whatever diplomats do. I liked this because it sounded prestigious, and leading to an interesting life, and most importantly because then I would get to move a lot.

Since then I've realized that I actually don't really want to move around at all. Going to BYU was the first time I have attended any school for longer than two years, because I've always moved (or switched from Elementary to Junior High, or Junior High to High School). At first I was nervous for this, but then I loved it. I love that I made friends that lasted through the whole six years I lived in Provo. And I would love to settle down somewhere and live for thirty plus years, for the same reason; getting to know people, places and neighborhoods through and through.

I've been getting excited about moving to Ohio for this reason since we first knew that Avram would be attending The Ohio State University, and now that it's finally getting close, my interior timer keeps on going off, and telling me that something is coming, something should be happening, and it drives me to distraction until I just realize that it's me, getting excited about moving prematurely.

After all, aside from settling down in moving, I'll also get to at long last unpack my boxes, some of which have been hidden from the light of day for over a year and a half (I started packing very early in Provo; I hate to feel rushed in moving). I honestly don't even remember what I own any more. My mother-in-law was asking me if I needed any glass pie plates or glass bread pans, and I couldn't remember whether or not I already owned either, whether in glass or metal. All the pie and bread pans I've ever come into contact with flitted through my head, but I couldn't pin down actual ownership.

Unpacking will be like opening a whole new world! Granted a whole new world probably full of wondering why in the world I packed boxes in such odd order, but still a new world.

Unfortunately there isn't much I can really do to prepare for the move; as previously stated I'm already packed. And we've put in some inquiries to housing, and until we get an answer back we can't really proceed there. And I tried looking at Craigslist here for a bed, since we don't have one, and instead I found a beautiful bedroom furniture set of cherry wood. With a tall four poster bed, and two dressers, and a stand alone oval mirror. I love oval mirrors, and I've always wanted (well, for three years since I first saw one) to have one. And it was all for only $500! (although it was minus the actual mattress and box springs). Unfortunately, we're only planning on buying a mattress set and a very used dresser, but it was still fun to drool over. But it doesn't make me feel any closer to Ohio.

Maybe I should start a day count down. Or take up another long book series; that'll pass the time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heart Stopping Moments

Do you ever have heart stopping moments? I was once at some church meeting (I think it was a regional conference in Provo), where President Monson spoke about heart stopping moments he has had. He told how during the years of the iron curtain he was concerned about the saints in East Germany knowing the correct church procedures and doctrines, because they weren't allowed to have a church handbook (for some reason). So he proceeded to memorize the entire Church Handbook of Instruction, and went to Germany and sat down at the church typewriter and began writing it all out. About halfway through doing this, he looked up, and on the shelf above the typewriter was a Church Handbook of Instruction that someone had smuggled in previously.

President Monson said that at that moment was a heart stopping one. Although he did know the church policies better than anyone else until they next changed the Handbook.

Another Heart Stopping Moment happened when he was at a stake conference visiting, and sitting right behind the podium. The Stake President stood up to give his talk, and about five minutes in, President Monson, who was sitting with his legs crossed, switched his legs around. As he did so, his foot brushed the back of the Stake President's leg, and the Stake President, think this was a signal, said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" and sat down right then.

I don't actually remember what he went on to talk about, but I do remember these two stories very well. I've thought about heart stopping moments since then as they relate to my own life.

On Sunday I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting, the first meeting of the day, nursing Elisheva. After she was done, I was buttoning up my shirt (a brand new silk one I had never worn that I got last Summer) and one of the buttons right in the center came off into my hand. I had a heart stopping moment then. Maybe not too serious of one, but certainly a potentially embarrassing one. I had no jacket, and neither did anyone else (this is summer, after all). Whispered inquiries to Mom Shannon revealed that she did not have any safety pins. I did not have any safety pins. I've always been bad at having one of those Mom Purses that contain everything from band-aids to your shot records.

In fact, once this spring while living in England I even forgot to pack a bag at all when we went to the Purcell's for dinner, and Lydia had a poopy diaper, which ended the visit abruptly, since we had nothing to change her into. We ended up "emptying" the diaper of its contents, and then putting her back in it while hurrying home for a real change. (Through two different bus rides).

Considering that I'm good if I remember diapers and wipes, there were definitely no safety pins in site. So I adopted the good old reverent posture from Primary, with arms folded in front, and hurried out to the library, which thankfully was both open and empty of people. I then spent the next five minutes ransacking through every drawer in the room until I blessedly found a baggie of safety pins. I took two, which may count as stealing from the church, but with the alternative of having my shirt gape open to the whole attending body of saints, I took the lesser of two evils.

Thankfully that was it; no one was the wiser except my husband, and my face was saved, and my heart restarted.

What are your heart stopping moments? What about most potentially embarrassing but thankfully averted ones?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Avram is out getting his learner's permit for driving as we speak. I'm very proud of him. Avram has always been terrified of driving, because of the looming potential of death to oneself and others. Most teenagers seem immune to this very real threat, but Avram seemed to have been born with an unnaturally active mortality awareness. So he never got his license.

I suppose he figured he would get one...eventually. Up until today, that eventually has never come. Oh, he had a learner's permit when I met him. And he did drive for me. Once. For the three hour trip home from our honeymoon.

I guess I still had a little leverage with him left over from dating, but it definitely all dried up on that trip, part of which included going over a very rainy pass in Beaver, Utah. Because he hasn't driven since that day, over three years ago.

However, at long last (and with the help of a little bribery of a role playing book in store once he has his license, Avram has begun the final road ending in a license. He realized that for church service and activities, and as our children get older that there are more occasions where he really needs to drive, and it isn't possible or practical to have me do it. So he's confronting his fears, and getting a learner's permit today, which will culminate in 30 days from now in an official Virginia license.

So let's hear it for Avram confronting his fears! (And maybe then he can do the driving. Because I actually don't like to).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Help Me De-Frumpify

I'm going through the post-baby “I look frumpy” stage of life. I've been ecstatic to have my clothes back and not to have the remnants of winter clothing/maternity clothes to limp by on, but now my own clothes have reminded me of the sad truth; I don't look like I did before the baby. I've gone through this before with Lydia, and I know that eventually my old clothes will not only fit on my body I (which for the most part they do), but actually look flattering while doing so (which for the most part they don't).

This has all emphasized the greater frumpiness I feel; It's something about having a baby. Both times in the months afterwards I've felt this. It could to do with the almost permanent spit-up adorning my shoulder (and sometimes hair that happened to be on the unfortunate shoulder). Maybe it's the bags under my eyes from night feedings. Not to mention the previously stated clothing problem. All this together makes me want to do something drastic, something exotic, so I'll feel human and attractive again.

Hence, I've decided to wear make-up.

What, you say? You don't wear make-up? Umm, no. I actually can't remember the last time I wore any. In fact, I don't even own any make-up any more, it's been so long.

Normally I feel confident in my own “natural beauty” (actually normally I just feel lazy), but at times like these post-baby ones, drastic measures are needed.

So, for all my female readers, what make-up do you wear and adore?

I'm pretty minimal, usually (well, when I used to wear make-up at all); I like foundation, mascara and eye shadow. Occasionally I'll wear eye liner, and even less often lipstick (I hate how it tastes, and so does Avram), and I never wear blush. I've never put any on that didn't look powdery and fake on me.

I like natural colors, like shades of pinks and browns; not blues and greens. (For the eyeshadow).

Anyway, please, someone with some fashion sense tell me what to get and where. While you're at it, tell me what to do with my hair so it has some volume while growing it long. And what to do with it every day.

For that matter, would anyone like to volunteer to be my personal fashion assistant? I can pick out my own clothes, but I'd need you to do everything else that I'm to lazy to do on a daily basis so that I look put together. The pay stinks, as do the rewards, but the thanks will be high.

After all, a well intentioned woman around my age and from Montana recently told me that I would love it there. Here words paraphrased: They don't keep up with national styles, and are all natural and don't wear make-up. It would be perfect for me! She meant this in a positive way; she loved growing up there. But for a moment it did sound to me like, “You wear ugly clothes and don't do anything with your hair or face, you'd love it there!” And this is how I come across to people who like me. I can only imagine what strangers see.

Not that I believe that make-up and nice hair and clothes do a nice person make. And I would never want to be so dependent on make-up that I wouldn't leave home without it on.

Stopping wearing make-up came very naturally. The first boyfriend I had in college commented shortly after we started dating that my face smelled like make-up (he had been in plays in high school, and so had worn stage make-up, and so had some intimacy with the product). He also asked me what I did to my eyebrows, which were plucked, and was horrified by the reply. Both led to my demise of facial products and manipulation. Avram told me he wouldn't kiss me on our wedding day if I wore lipstick. Guess who wore no lipstick on her wedding day?

Avram seems to be generally oblivious to how I look; he always thinks I look beautiful, even when I'm nine months pregnant and have a cold. I do appreciate this; I'd rather have this end of the spectrum than husbands who have standards their wives have to live up to, weight-wise, or looks wise. But sometimes it makes it hard to remember that just because Avram always thinks I'm beautiful doesn't mean that I feel beautiful if I feel frumpy.

By the way, I really like the word frumpy in this context. It sounds like what I feel.

What do you all think about make-up? What's a nice amount for day to day? Would you leave home without wearing any? Are there any others like me, who don't even own make-up? And remember, tell me what brands and kinds of make-up are good, because in case you haven't figured it out by this point of the post, I'm basically clueless on the matter.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Catch as Catch Can

Here I am. I have surfaced, and as my ever loving father-in-law mentioned, I've finally arrived in America, two weeks after the rest of my family.


If you ever wanted to know the detailed plot and trivia of The Wheel of Time books, I'm the woman for it.

Who killed Asmodean? Graendal.

Who is Demandred? I still believe it's Mazrim Taim, even though Robert Jordan himself said it wasn't.

Oh, wait, none of you actually read Robert Jordan? (According to my last post about him) (By the way, the title of my blog originates because I love parentheses) And you don't care about the mindless trivia of these books?

Well, then, I'd better think about something else to write about.

Mmmm, I could tell you all about how it's hot and humid here, with lots of thunder showers, but we all know that Virginia has a very different climate than England, and I am glad that I'm not having current English weather. Although I do miss the mildness. I think if I had brought ten variations on jackets, cardigans, sweaters and coats I would have looked a lot cooler in England, as apposed to ten shirst and only one jacket and one coat. Because that one ugly trench coat is what people saw me in for the whole nine months. Along with this jacket. I could have only worn one shirt for the entire trip, because it would have always been covered up by my various jackets. Avram also had the same coat, and then we would both wear black hats, and someone once asked us whether it was a uniform for us.

Err, no, we just have no style.

I bought the coat before I went to England, for the rain, because I had never bought outerwear with persperation (insperation? Moisture? Oh, Precipitation, that's it) in mind, being from a desert. Mmm, I've never thought about sweating in a coat for some reason, either. I also left it in England.

I could tell you about my new calling; despite only being in this ward for two months, I'm the Young Women's secretary. They don't waste any time here. I'm excited to be in the Young Women's, although they do have a lot more issues than the Primary. Primary children (I taught the CTR 5 class) are a lot more straight forward; they just have boundless energy, not boundless attitude.

Actually, I'm not going to tell you anything, because my cute progeny, who was blessed two weeks ago, is cranky, and needs to go to sleep, but every time we lay her down, fast asleep, she wakes up approximately .01 seconds later screaming mad. Ahh, children, ya gotta love them.

I am back, though, and I promise I'll start writing again, although the Internet connection is slow, because they don't offer anything faster in this neck of the woods, so it takes me longer to do anything on the Internet, which means that I write slower. Okay, I just spend all of my Internet time reading everyone else's blogs via Google Reader, which I converted to recently, and absolutely love. But it does mean I write less.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Well We Are Back

This is Avram writing.

We have returned to the States, and to the wonderful world of the Internet. However, we haven't been writing, because I don't 'blog much, and Thora has been tackling The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan's massive fantasy opus, so most of her time has been taken up by that. I am sure as time progresses she will return to her fascinating recounting of our life and adventures.

In the mean time, you will be forced to make do with my much more brief and sporadic updates.