Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saga Number X - The Four Word Question, Now Fixed to be Accurate

Now I knew I loved Avram, and that for better or for worse, we were not going to have any precipitous break-offs before the pre-appointed time at the end of the Summer. I also knew that I was still planning to marry Dennis, and that I had no intentions of writing him a Dear John on the remaining four months of his mission. As the rest of the Summer unfolded, this inherent dichotomy became a division in my soul. I could somehow in the same breath tell Avram I loved him, and that I could not wait until Dennis sent me his next letter. But that was as the weeks played out.

In the moment, my cousin Travis was getting married in Salt Lake over Memorial Day weekend. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to introduce Avram to my family, who excepting my Mom had not yet met him. Avram and I packed for the weekend, and rode the bus and then tracks up to Salt Lake. My mother and three year younger sister Halley picked us up in her black Honda CRV, and I began the process of introducing my "temporary" boyfriend to the Family. I had picked Avram's clothes for him on this important occasion: Dark charcoal grey wool trousers with a black polo shirt. If Avram were a girl, he would be a "winter" for coloring, but being a man, he could care less about color schemes. Still, I found his stark clothing choices to be more flattering than colored ones. I thought he looked nice and intellectual, but also somewhat casual and not overbearing. Avram thought he was wearing clothes, and they fit him.

Avram tagged along to the "Wedding Breakfast" or rather, the "rehearsal dinner" - whatever name an extended family dinner deserves when it occurs the even previous, but no rehearsing is done. I remember the evening went well, and I was proud of him as he negotiated my large family. I grew up in a house with nine children, a blended family. Seven of those nine were female. Now, with eight married, and with numbers of grandchildren reaching almost into the twenties, we are completely more like a small city state than a family unit. Back then only three were married, leaving more people to meet than most families reach after two complete generations. Certainly an imposing enough group. Not all of the family was there, nor were over the weekend, so Avram did not have to beard the lion in his den quite yet. Still, to my poor boyfriend, who is socially uptight in situations he is not comfortable in, large rambunctious, talkative female families being at the top of this list, he comported himself with remarkable ease and gregarity.

The next day, Saturday, May 29, the wedding took place in Bountiful. Avram and I spent the day exploring Downtown Salt Lake and Temple Square. Avram and I had fun walking around the Conference center, taking a "couples" picture on the pedestal before the temple, touring Brigham Young's home, and eating lunch at the Lion House Pantry. Avram wore his fedora, with jeans (not black), and an Alaska T-Shirt. Rather a disjointed assemble, but Avram often points out that although he loves clothes, he could care less about the day to day. He spends his effort caring about suits and tuxedos, tails and spats. I was learning to care less about his outward trappings, and just enjoy his company. My mom called and said the family had gathered in between the wedding and reception for lunch at a Pizza place. We were enjoying each others company alone enough that I declined, even on the promise of someone else paying.

That evening we attended the reception, and danced a little together. I believe we spent Monday helping paint the basement hallway, as my parents were getting ready to sell the house, and move to Arizona. All in all, it was a fun weekend, blessedly free of any drama or long discussions of why our relationship had issues, and how our issues were doing, while they served a mission in Germany.


A week later, Sunday, June 6th, found Avram and I taking a nightly, leisurely stroll around the park at Botany Pond. It was D-day, and more memorable to me, Dennis' 21st birthday. Avram and I settled down for a chat on the lower steps of the staircase leading from Botany Pond to the southern end of the JSB building. (Why must it always be hard stone seating?) In prime social south-of-campus timing, around nine or ten at night, Avram and I got into a discussion of the hypothetical future. We knew we loved each other. We also knew that if we were to work out at all, it would be after Dennis and I somehow failed to achieve marital status, sometime in early 2005, after my return from the fall study Abroad. I will grant you, this latter supposition was more my "fact" than Avram's - he still hoped for better possibilities with me.

As we talked about these futures, I told him that if Avram and I got married, we would never have a proposal. It was simple. If Dennis and I did not work out, than Avram and I, if we were to resume dating, would know it was only for one purpose, marriage. There was no place in any future for more gratuitous dating. Which meant by our very act of a relationship, we would be mutually declaring an intent to get married, a mutual proposal of intent, if you will. All that would be then left would be picking a wedding date, and planning the actual event. I spent some time lamenting over possible lost proposals; after all, one cannot be sentimental enough, I find. The idea of no question, not even a perfunctory one, bothered me.

In classic Thora logic, I therefore declared, "Avram, you need to propose to me. That way you will have technically fulfilled the necessary functions, so that way if we ever do get married, we'll have a proposal in our romantic past." Avram thought this was somewhat unnecessary, but being ever willing to humor me, he complied.

"Thora, will you marry me?" He asked, as he sat next to me on that cold stone landing.

"Not like that! That's not a proper proposal. You need to do it on you knees, with me standing up. Proposals need something more than a casual question." I stood up, and instructed him to get on his knees.

"Thora, will you marry me?" Avram asked again, on his knees, this time more intently. Thankfully no one at this moment walked by - I always liked to imagine myself living in a bubble with my current significant other, as we spend significant moments alone at South Campus, along with approximately 2,000 other significant couples. I stood there in the light evening breeze, considering for the briefest moment. I did not realize this, but Avram (as he maintains to this day), was not just fulfilling a technicality with this question, but was also in deadly earnest. He knew he wanted to marry me, and would have been happy to have been engaged from this point on.

I, on the otherhand, was merely checking off an essential, imaginary box. "Maybe someday." Then I sat back down. Avram, reading this over my shoulder just now, said, "You were just getting back to me for that Cocker Spaniel line, weren't you? Can you think of anything less romantic than 'maybe someday?'"

What narrative causality, to be proposed to on Dennis' birthday. The whole Summer was replete with Narrative Causality. I knew from the beginning of my first faintest crush on Avram that I would not simply outgrow it, or shake it off. I knew I would like him deeply. Why? Narrative Causality. Or rather, in plainer speak, it would make a better story that way. Same thing with when we started dating. Couples get together all of the time, only to break up before even becoming serious. Not Avram and I. I knew we would become deeply serious. I knew, somewhere inside of me, that we would get to the point of marriage, or nothing. That I would have to pick between Avram and Dennis, and it would never be simply resolved on its own. That is the power of Narrative Causality. Once you start detailing this in your own life, you will find that better than choices, better than fate, Narrative Causality truly runs your life. Otherwise, what would we all have to blog about, without story lines being played out in our lives?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Answer to a Six Year Old Question, With A Reprise

When I was engaged, not to Avram, and we had the "Hey, we're engaged!" conversation with my parents, Don, my step-dad, asked us a question. He said that someday there would come a time when we did not agree, fundamentally did not agree on something. We would be on different sides of the fence, and would see no way over to be on the same side. What would we do then?

I gave some non answer, and kind of fudged it all over, and moved on, because I honestly had no clue. I was just 20 years old, and although I logically agreed with his question - obviously throughout history people and cultures all over the world have fundamentally disagreed to the point of bloodshed and war, I had never personally in my life reached with point with a boyfriend or fiance, let alone a husband.

And then I got married. Well, then I broke up with that fiance a month before the wedding, eight months later met Avram, and a year and half after that got married. But let's not be necessarily complex, here.

Through the course of our marriage, we have had several times where we have not seen a situation or subject the same way. The hypothetical opinion ones, like Circumcision, we have learned to set aside until if/when they ever become pertinent to our lives. Other times we have had to find some way to move beyond the impasse. Even before our marriage, whilst we were engaged, I wanted to buy a car, and Avram did not much want to. He did not have a driver's license and thought we could survive a while in Provo, even married, without a car. I thought that there was no way I could plan a Salt Lake wedding while I lived in Provo, and having to take the bus to Salt Lake every weekend, when it turned into a three hour one way trip, and I was going crazy. Plus, factoring in grocery shopping, and lack of roommates who have cars and we can mooch off of, I felt the car buying way was clear.

Car buy we did, and it turned into a larger hassle than even I wanted, but in the end a car we had, and still have, and since America is not really set up for public transportation anyway, it has done us well. Here Avram bowed to my ardent wishes, and I felt strongly enough to carry the both of us through the experience.

Then we move forward to graduate school for a master's degree. Avram got into Oxford with a half scholarship. He got into Fordham, a University in New York, with a full one. He wanted Oxford, his life long dream. I wanted Fordham, with financial security. We never did get on the same side of the fence, instead we tried another fun tactic - bargaining. I have always wanted to someday be a foster parent, and adopt children who get lost in the system, and aren't cute infants, and never have a family. Avram, although he understood all this, was rather unsure about its application to our actual future. I told him, I would make a deal. We could go to England, and he would solemnly swear we could someday be foster parents, and adopt, if it came to that.

He swore, and I packed my bags for England, both of us content with our side of the bargain.

Fast forward another two years. We finally found out that we are pre approved to go forward and look for a house. And we are on two sides of a fence. This fence is particularly large and unwieldy. More accurately, buying a house or not are the two sides of the fence, and we as a couple, although leaning to opposite sides, are still both firmly entrenched on the fence itself. And neither of us feels strongly enough to pull for our respective sides. So, we are currently in negotiations. Both of use can see a lot of advantages and disadvantages to owning a home. And if we don't buy, there is nothing lost, no risks. But no gains either.

I'll let you know when we topple off the top into a decision. In answer to Don's question, when we fundamentally disagree, or have a real dilemma, we spend a lot of time talking about it. And makings lists (well, that one is just me). And praying.

Update: After lots of the aforementioned, we have decided officially, irrevocably, (ecumenically, grammatically...) that we are going to forgo buying a house until after our Student Days. The reasons are many, among them impressions after prayer, my source of babysitting income becoming undependable after October, and worries over being too "house poor." I still would like to live in a house, and so we have determined that at the point in the unspecified future we do move out of our town home, we will pursue renting a house or duplex, instead of moving into another three bedroom town-home. Then we will have a yard, and yet will not have to sell the house when we leave Columbus. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ruminations on Star Trek

To celebrate Avram's birthday Avram and I went on a real, live, actual date on Saturday. We went to see Star Trek, and then ate at an Asian Buffet, so Avram could get some plentiful, cheap sushi. It was wonderful to be out together, plus the movie was good. Now I need to discuss Star Trek for a minute, partly because I don't watch many movies - the last one I saw in theater was Stardust - and partly because I have to just air my thoughts. For those of you who could care less, this is your cue to close the browser. Also, this will be spoilers galore, so for those of two of you living in a Tibetan monastery without movie theaters who have not yet seen the movie and care deeply about Star Trek, you will also want to stop reading.

First off, I was impressed with the amount of seatbelts I saw. They had them in the shuttles. and in various smaller craft. Most impressively, at the closing scene Kirk tells Bones, while on the bridge, to Buckle Up. See, Star Fleet did listen to me.

Second, Uhura and Spock? The internal Star Trek soundtrack was humming right along, and then Uhura gets in the elevator with Spock, and starts kissing him in a familiar manner, and the soundtrack wrenched off. I know that he's just had some life changing events happen, but really, my first response wouldn't be to kiss a superior officer to comfort him. Hasn't she heard of hugging? Which would all suggest they already had a relationship. While Spock was her teacher of some sort in the academy. Which is about ten kinds of awkward, and something I really don't see Spock doing, even in an alternate universe. Don't get me wrong. I love romance, in general. And it was nice to see Kirk get romantically dissed. But it felt like at that moment I wandered off into some weird fanfiction, or something.

Thirdly, this movie had me crying before the opening credits (if they had had them) were even done. There is just something about childbirth and husbands dying that really is a formula for my tears. I've gone through childbirth twice, and it's an amazingly vulnerable time. And I also heartily laughed, such as when Sulu says his hand to hand combat is fencing, so this movie did elicit the full range of emotions from me.

As the credits rolled, I thought to myself that I would watch a TV show based on the Movie. Which is really saying something - we don't have a Television hooked up to TV. But almost it pursuadeth me. If there were a TV show at all, of course.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Church Hallway Revelations

Halfway through Sacrament Meeting, the first hour of our three Church block this morning, I could not deny the obvious. Lydia had a slightly runny nose and a widely intermittent cough. She could not go to Nursery. Elisheva also had a runny nose, which meant I couldn't take her into Nursery with me for my third hour stint as Nursery Assistant. Besides these pesky symptoms, neither of them were acting sick at all, but one can never be too careful with children and contagions.

Avram volunteered to get another ride home after his Young Men's Presidency meeting after church, if I wanted to just go home with Lydia and Elisheva after Sacrament Meeting. Considering I had already visited the toilet with Lydia twice, and had been out multiple times with Elisheva--the superlative Sacrament screamer--this was an attractive option. I wavered about spending another two Church hours sitting in the hall, while my children's legs and noses ran amok. Home looked inviting, if not any more restful.

Then I remembered something my Stake President over the stake at Wymount had said, back when Lydia was a baby. He postulated during a stake conference held in the Provo Tabernacle that sometimes we may ask ourselves why we come to Church at all, if we only spend the time walking with our children in the hallways, or wrestling kids during the Sacrament to hold still and be quiet. As at this very moment I was standing with Lydia by one of the exits, trying to keep her relatively quiet, this opener spoke straight to me. I indeed had wondered sometimes what the point was of being in Church when I didn't feel as if I had spiritually been fed.

He went on to say that it did matter, that attending Church every week, no matter our children's state of being or time spent listening quietly to the lessons was important. If we attended Church with a child every week, every year, for 18 years, that child would go to church 936 times. All of those attendances at Church would add up. Maybe this week my family might spend most of the time kid-wrastlin', but the spiritual instruction, over the sheer numbers of times spent in Church, would add up.

So I stayed. As I sat in the hall during Sunday School, while Elisheva explored the workings of an available carseat, I thought that perhaps today I only heard about the beginnings of Baptism for the dead in Nauvoo, and the subsequent starting of the Nauvoo temple. I spent maybe five minutes total in class. But I heard it! And I thought on it. Not much, in between Elisheva's neediness, but more than I would have if I had gone home with the girls. I thought to myself how if I had gone home, and if I stayed home every time my girls weren't being reverent, I would go inactive. We have an 8:30 church, and between leaving the home at eight a.m. and it getting dark past eight pm, Elisheva never has much patience or understanding for Church worship. She is also at that age - 16 months - where even when she is happy she loves to show off her walking and loud babbling skills, which disrupt classes as much as screaming does.

If you tack on pregnancies, with accompanying morning sickness, beached whale syndrome and new babyness, then add toddlers, potty training kids, sick kids, grumpy teenagers, and every thing else life throws at you, we would never come to Church. The Gospel--like everything important in life--is never convenient. So we decide on our priorities, and here we are, and I am happy to be here.

Then in Relief Society, as I once again carried the yelling Elisheva out, I saw the Stake Relief Society President, who was visiting for the day, smile fondly at me and my child. A smile of love, a smile saying, "I've been where you are, and it does end, and children, even screaming ones, are wonderful." I felt loved. I felt the spirit of Relief Society. I never did find out what the lesson was actually about - but I was spiritually fed. Elisheva and I walked around the Church building, looking at pictures of Jesus. I found out that Elisheva knows the word Jesus; one of the four or five words she knows at all.

Then after Church we stayed for Choir, while Avram went to his meeting, and I was able to sing and expand my singing abilities as well as sing with other Saints around me, and keep my commitment to attend for the Choir director.

Normally Church isn't this difficult. Many weeks I am able to attend to the lesson, and Elisheva doesn't act like a banshee, nor does Lydia stay with us past Sacrament Meeting. Today, though, I was reminded of why I attend Church every week. It isn't to show off my nice clothes, or my well done hair (which usually gets brushed on the way to church). Although I love the lessons, and have callings to fulfill, it isn't ultimately because of this. Every week we go to Church to simply partake of the Sacrament, and to show my children that this is what I believe, this is what is important to us in our family.

After 936 repetitions, I hope the same lesson with be learnt by my girls.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Failed Writing Exercise #1

I need to write fiction. It is my goal to write. Only problem is, I feel terrified by having to write. I am not a perfectionist about many things. Scrapbooking is an activity of squinting at the page and pronouncing, “Yup, that looks straight. Sort of.” And then slapping some glue down. Anyone who has spent much time with me and a house has seen first hand how I approach housecleaning with the attitude of “it's good enough...”

Some things, some things I want to be perfect. Knitting. One of the hardest activities for me as an adult was to learn knitting, and be mediocre at it, and still keep going. I unraveled a lot of wool. Heck, I still unravel a lot. When I actually do knit, that is. I have a personal rule to never knit when it's warm. I can't handle all that stuffy, hot yarn touching my hands and warming up my lap. Sewing. I can't handle sewing, because in my mind's eye I know what I want. I love to plan sewing, to pick out fabrics, to love fabrics. But then the actual work of sewing I really struggle with. This may be partly because my sewing machine is the hand me down of my mother's, and I have to re-sew approximately 50% of all seams, because the tension is permanently wonky, and so half the time a seam will fall apart on its own, because the stitches are so wide. It's like when I went to sew my first medieval dress, which also happened to be my first real sewing project ever, not counting the peach fabric I sewed on badly in eighth grade. My first medieval dress – a three part project of underdress, cote'hardie, and sideless surcoat, were respectively sewn out of nice muslin, apple green raw silk, and a stormy blue damask. I loved that fabric. And then I, with help, cut it out and sewed it. And it looked so much less than I had imagined it. So much more generic. The neck was too large, and the hemming was sloppy. Every medieval outfit I have sewn, and I think there are only three total, has turned out so much less than I thought it would, or should. I cannot handle my mediocrity in sewing, and I don't know how to overcome this. I took a sewing class in College, so I do have the basic skills. And I do not think it's innate inability. No, I think that all I really need is practice. But I do not want to practice, because it won't be perfect.

I can't write either (pay no attention to these printed words), because it won't be good. My dialogue will be stilted, my plots transparent, and my descriptions hackneyed and overwrought. And yet, any writing I think of producing will never be more than this unless I actually do it. I don't want to be an award winning author. I don't even want to write a novel necessarily. And I definitely have no intentions of attempting publication. I just want to spread my wings on the creative horizon. In my adult life I have written all of two short stories. And I'm counting my adult life as beginning when I was a freshman in high school. I wrote one story for my freshman English, and won the school's Reflections contest, I might add, and then I wrote one story, a redacted Cinderalla story, for my persuasive writing class my senior year of College. That's it – the sum total of my written fiction outside of elementary school.

I have always been an avid journalist, and clearly I do not suffer with writing about myself. I could write memoirs of my life – that certainly seems to be a popular activity for many pop books. But, at the tender age of 26 I do not think I would have much wisdom to impart, less still many life events to review. But, despite my blogging, which I love, I wanted to try and do something a little different, a little more made up. I set out at the top of this page to begin writing to loosen my mind, to prep me into writing fiction. It's the method I started most papers with in College – writing about my inability to write the paper, and then within a paragraph I would work my way toward the subject, and then zoom on into the Introduction. Once the paper was written, I would just go back and erase the meandering thoughts, and it was all beautiful. Now, instead of working my way into writing, I just wrote a blog post. What does this say about me? And how can I start practicing creative writing? Please, I'd love little writing exercises and ideas. Otherwise, there may be a lot more meandering blog posts I publish, which were written in an attempt to get over my fear of mediocrity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Star Fleet, Please Take Note of this Duly Registered Complaint

I'm labouring under the crushed ego that no one left a comment on my bread post on my cooking blog. I even (I hope) fixed its technical difficulties, so it should all show up now. But, like the pioneers of old, I shall forge ahead, despite my faltering self esteem.

Let's talk about a pet peeve I have.

As I have mentioned before, Avram and I have taken up Start Trek watching. We're two thirds of the way through the first season, and although in the main I quite enjoy it, there is one aspect I cannot abide. It's important, and all pervasive - the lack of seatbelts.

It's killing me. Sure, I understand that they're cruising through space, known for it's wide open spaces. And that they are one a peaceful mission, so they shouldn't need them in case of war. But nary an episode passes when somewhere, somehow, they are violently thrown out of their seats. In the movies, people died from this activity. In the TV show, the death allowance of 2 men per show is saved for the landing parties, so they cannot waste mortality to let you know just how dangerous a work it is to be on the bridge - without a seatbelt.

It has reached the point when, yet again, Kirk and his gang fall to the floor Avram tells me he doesn't want to hear it, before I even get my mouth open. I cannot resist commenting on it every single time. Even when Avram tells me that he's already heard this gripe the last 2,038 times it happened. I just have keep saying my piece, and hope that eventually the Star Trek designers will hear me, and install some seat belts already.

There is a point in the movie Generations when the Enterprise is crash landing on a planet - a function it was never meant to perform, since it was built and operates in space only. As they are burning through the atmosphere one of the crew, Geordi perhaps, yells out, "Brace yourselves!" And they do, they brace themselves by madly grabbing a hold of whatever dashboard or chair handles they can find. While crash landing. From the sky. In what is definitely not a plane. And most, minus the obligatory two dead, survive, by only bracing themselves. Although, they are thrown around quite a bite, and one person, probably one marked to die, did an impressive flip over a console. If the Star Fleet had only learned from their historical records the number of men they had killed by their neglect, perhaps more lives could have been saved.

Avram and I are going to see the new Start Trek this Saturday - we'll see if in this alternate history Star Fleet listened to me.

Phew, I feel better now with that out of my system. And if you really love me, just pretend to look at my bread recipe, ok? It took me forever to post it, and my entire construct of adult homemaking self is built upon this recipe I invented. If at least one people doesn't falsely promise to try it out, or at least say something meaningless like, "Hey! You posted! A bread recipe!" then I may have to give up blogging, and start watching Star Trek full time. And then where would we all be? Wearing seat belts, I can only hope.

P.S. What are your pet peeves of the movie/TV show variety?

P.P.S. All this talk about buckling up makes me sound like a Mom. Next I'm going to be telling Star Trek to keep their hands to themselves, and if they can't stop poking (or in Kirk's case, ogling) their neighbor, to sit on their hands.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I posted on my other blog Saturday, but I had a table that didn't come through, and messed up the rest of the post. So I will be reposting it later. Please come back and check it again. I'm really frustrated, because it was my big Bread Recipe post, with a million pictures and stuff. But, hopefully it'll post fine after some tweaking at home (read; with Avram's help).

Otherwise in life, we are waiting on finding whether we can get a house loan or not. I'm half and half. Yes, I'd love a house, but I can recognize the many positive sides of renting. Avram's birthday is this week, he'll be 28, and it's his last week of Arabic. Then he'll have five weeks of vacation, during which he'll write a paper for the Sperry Symposium at BYU, and prep his Bible as Literature class in the fall. Plus, if we don't buy a house, we'll be visiting his grandparents in Tennessee, and going to Kirtland (for me for the first time.)

Also, I'm spending the day with five children four and under. (Babysitting). But they all know me, heck, two are mine, and it'll be good times. Plus lots of playing in the back yard.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In Which I Get off of My Lazy (Ahem) and Move a Little

Avram and I have begun exercising. You can all get up off the floor now. There are exercisers out there - who have gym memberships, and a smaller minority who actually use gym memberships. And then there is me. I had to spell the word exercise several times to even get the word right, that's how unfamiliar with the action I am. But I was at the doctor recently, and my pulse rate was 96, and I became very concerned about my health, and the possibility that I might die young from a heart attack because I'm so unhealthy.

So Avram and I decided to go and do a fast walk, some might even say a power walk, three times a week at a Metro Park, which are these awesome huge parks with miles of trails that Columbus has, and your city doesn't, poor you. We've done it four times so far, and I already feel more energized in life.

Never mind that my sister and I were talking, and she told me that people with Anemia (which I always borderline have. In fact, I just found out Elisheva's anemic too, because of me and nursing. Sad.) have higher heart rates. So I just have anemia, which I already knew, because the last time I tried to give blood I couldn't, and I'm not super unhealthy. Except I still have no muscles, they disappeared when I had children, and so although I don't need to lose weight, I would like to not feel like the world's biggest wimp.

Thus our exercising will continue, heart rates be forgot. And I love it. I've loved leaving the house on a regular basis, and doing wholesome family activities together. I love walking through nature and getting out of the city - I hate gyms, and pointless exercise only for the sake of exercise. And it's nice to know that you just walked three miles quickly while talking with your husband, and taking turns pushing a heavy (think muscle resistance) stroller up and down gravel hills. Life affirming, even.

My only regret is we didn't start this earlier in the Summer.