Every boy I ever loved.

I used to do this thing with every boy that I loved, I would gather up everything. Everything I ever wrote about them. A compilation. A ceremony. Of me and him. I would give it to him, at parting. I think I was trying to say, “That me will always give this much to you. This me will let you keep it, but this me will say goodbye.” I often think of those people, and hurt. I cannot believe I am not theirs to need. To love is to let yourself need. And though you can love many, you only let yourself need one. They were pieces of me, but I gave them back. In me are many holes now. To fill them is my quest. Like so many old rooms, rented for free.

In you I find a permanence. You could go in those rooms, and know them. You would sit down in my vacantness, like you do, and say, Come, let’s look into this. You could name the settled dust, the empty frames. You would know why and how they changed me. And then you would say, I will buy you a house full of rooms. For you to own. And you can fill them with things that will last you. And you can empty them when you are ready. And always, always I will help you fill them again. For you, a home. With me.

(My pages of you: I keep them. Because I have kept you.)

Thoughts on: Having a Baby

I have to tell you something awesome:
There is a little human. In my belly.
I am a Mom.

I feel ten million things about this.
Mostly I feel: A Certain Type of Excited.

Not Disney World Excited. Not like sitting in the back of the mini van with zero reservations shouting YEAHHH THIS IS GOING TO BE SO FUN LET’S GOOOO!

More like the type of excited I felt before I became a missionary. Like I have so much hope and desire to do this but I am also SCARED because I want CHANGE THE WORLD and am I really READY or CAPABLE of such a MONUMENTAL venture?
…YES! What?! Noooooo! Wait, yes yes yes!

There is a word for this certain type of excitement:
awe |ô|
noun
1. a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

The source of this reverence, fear, and wonder:
I believe that every person is made of a spirit–you might call it a soul–and a body. While our bodies began existing sometime in the womb, our spirits existed long before that, and will continue to exist long after. In other words, I believe all of our spirits are infinite, that we have no definite beginning or end.

The idea that our spirits live on after we die isn’t new, but the idea that our spirits existed before we were born– sometimes that’s new. And that is what I’m getting at here.

That’s what the Lord was getting at when he said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” He’s saying, before you were born, I knew you personally. I gave you a purpose that you were to fulfill while you were here on earth. For Jeremiah it was to be a prophet, but I have specific work to do here to, and so do you, and so does my little baby. Before this baby was inside of me, his or her spirit lived with God, learned from Him, and was prepared to come here and learn more through the experiences of his or her life. So was I. So were you. And while God is our parent in Heaven, Ken and I get to be this little person’s parents on earth. We get to teach and prepare and help. And that, is something to feel awe about.

A time when the awe really got goin:
A little over a year ago, as I was thinking about having children, I felt something strange. I didn’t know how to describe it for a while except that it felt a little sad, but in a loving way. Why, when I thought about my future children, would I feel this strange hint of sadness? It puzzled me for a while, and then a thought came to me that felt very true. “It feels like I miss them,” I thought. Yep, that was it. It felt just like missing someone. But how could I miss my kids if I’d never met them? And then I remembered what I believe about our spirits, and that if my spirit existed with God before I was born, and my children’s spirits did too, then I probably have met them. In some part of me, I probably do know them, and miss them. Since then, there has just been no other way to describe it. My mind doesn’t know this little person — we haven’t met face to face yet. But our spirits know each other, and that little soul is growing in me. I am calmed to know that someday soon we will be face to face family.

Learn more about this idea: here.

Answers to the usual things people ask:
How far along are you? 10 weeks today.
When is your due date? September 15th.
Are you sick? YES. Yes yes yes.

brad

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Some things I wrote about myself:

I am a certain type of person.

I really like to color and paint.
I like to be in the sun and the water.
I like to be upside down.

Upsidedown

When I am having a bad day,
I do not eat a gluten-free, sugarless vegan cookies with soy milk.
I eat that: never.
When I am having a bad day, or a good day, I seek LEGIT dessert.
I believe in sugar and butter.
More than that– I was raised to express love through butter and sugar.
Suggesting I omit those things is like suggesting I omit my childhood.
And my love.
Stop doing that.

Peace Agreement:
If you would like to eat your cookies without butter, flour, eggs, or sugar– no big.
Just let me and my butter be together.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

Sometimes meeting people makes me nervous,
Even though I really like it.
It’s hard for me to eek through the slow process of “opening up.”
When I think we should just have a soul session right here at the table.
What’s worse is when I open the door for a small soul sesh,
And you have nothing to say.
Where is your PASSION?!
What’s really worse is when:
Neither do I.
Sometimes people just aren’t ready.
Sometimes me neither.
I should stop freaking out about this.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

(I think the word should is a little oppressive, but maybe sometimes necessary.)

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

There are certain words I love to use, even though they are not real.
If you use them, you may have more fun talking…

1. I do not like the word cuddle. It reminds me of moldy milk. Instead I say snuggle which has now become SNUG or SNUGGIN.

2. Instead of journal, JOURN. It sounds like journal and journey at the same time,
which is neat-o. It also sounds way cooler than “diary.”

3. Instead of ocean, OSH. Say it with a long O sound and a nice shhhhh at the end. Like the first syllable of kosher or motion. It just sounds better. Admit it. I love this sound. If a word has this sound, I’ll use it every time. Example: Lotion: LOSH!

4. You did that ON PURP! A friendly accusation.

5. Neutral. Like, “Put it in neutral!” I don’t get the chance to say this word very often, but when I do, I revel in it. Check out this abbreve: NEUTCH. You can do it. Just take the -ral sound out of Neutral. Like the GOOTCH in Gucci. The HOOCH in Hoochie Mama. It is a ridiculous sound that only comes in ridiculous words and it is SO FUN TO SAY. Try it. Pretend you are pushing a friend’s broken-down car. You are huffing and puffing and she’s up there in the driver’s seat tryin to steer but it won’t budge. Tell her: “PUT IT IN NEUUUUTCH!” Yeah, try and tell me you didn’t enjoy that.

Status

I did it!

Hiding under this blog: I have ten drafts.
TEN.

Things that have stopped me from posting any of them:
-dissatisfaction
-fear
-complacency
-neglect

I don’t really like seeing that stuff all up in my way.
Because writing is more to me, than something I can neglect.
When I keep my distance from it, there are personal consequences.
Here’s what I am trying to say:
Writing is me.
I am more — than something I can just neglect.
When I keep my distance from myself, there are personal consequences.

And hey, ain’t nobody got time for that.

I have come to the moment
where I choose
to buckle the heck down and just post something.
Just do it.

I just did it.

More to come.

The Eyes of Texas are Upon You

I’m  a little nervous about this post, so let me just get this out there: I don’t know how to tell you about Texas. I don’t know. Because I want to give you all these shiny gems of self-discovery that elaborate on some revolutionary transformation I’ve undergone since moving here… but I just don’t have that. What I have is more like a few flecks of self-discovery all jangled up in a mass of doubt and directionless dust. In fact, most of the time I feel like I am flailing around, trying to grab onto something that will give me purpose or validation, only ending up with a fist full of unanswered job applications and some sort of discount home decor that promises to make our Texas apartment feel like home.

So, now that your expectations are officially lowered — mine can be too. (Relief!)

I will now impart a few minor flecks of Austin life lessons:
1. You cannot hide reality behind discount home decor.
(Nevertheless, our apartment is pretty cool looking.)

2. I do not need to prove that I am strong, capable, and respected by landing some snazzy, independent-woman job a midst Corporate America and their Business Casual–clicking down the hall in my executive style heels.
(Not mocking these jobs– just mocking my delusion that having one might immediately increase my value as a person. Besides, I don’t have executive style heels. I have Pocahontas sandals.)

3. I feel most myself in times and places where I have opportunities to interact with people in meaningful ways, especially through meaningful conversation.
(This is why I feel like tiny, saggy-brained snail when I am at home for days at a time with no human interaction. This is why, when Ken walks in the door around 6 or 7pm, I’m hungry for conversation like a RAVENOUS BEAST. I’m dying for someone to talk with me about all our thoughts and feelings for the entire remainder of the night– which, by the way, creates an unfair strain of expectations on the person I love the most, who, reasonably so, doesn’t have four hours of feeling-soaked conversation which he is ready to provide nightly, on demand. Sometimes he tries but then I have too many pent-up feelings and can’t figure out how to say them because my brain is sagging and then I just feel needy and weird and want to eat sugar and watch TV instead.)

4. If you keep trying and keep praying, things will get better. God will help you find what you need. You will get a job with new, character-building challenges. You will find a routine that keeps your brain from sagging. You will make friends. You will remember that you are, in fact, still a pretty cool human being with worthy goals and legit things to offer the world. (Relief.)

Today’s title comes from a song written in 1903 by Jon Sinclair, now sung at UT football games and written all over the t-shirts of Longhorn fans. 

Quote

Identity poems today.

I wear knee-length jean shorts.
I wear jorts.
I cut my old jeans off at the knees,
and roll them once or twice,
to make my jorts.
I wear knee-length jorts even though my thighs
pudge out a little at the bottom,
Because I am Mormon,
and it is dang hot this summer.

I read things on my Kindle.
They are electronic books.
Like the paper version,
Only you swipe instead of turn the page.
Having a Kindle makes me feel Official.
Because I own a tablet
Not made of stone.

I argue with my husband.
Useless banter.
Sometimes for fun
And sometimes by accident
And a few times,
on purpose.
Because I just have a lot of emotions,
And that is a weird thing to handle.
I’m sorry.

I live in Texas.
Austin, Texas.
That has been true
For exactly seven days.
I live in Texas
And I embrace that.
But I need a job
And a friend
Please.

jorts

Aside

On how no one can explain America

I know there are far more influential and relevant things to talk about, but if America is going to spend all this time on Miley Cyrus and the VMA’s, we might as well open up our eyes to something else no one seems to have mentioned. Here it goes.

Everyone is saying that this girl’s performance was downright nasty. And yes, I agree. It was a big gross mess. Everyone is saying how sad/weird/disturbing it is that she went from Good-Girl-Hannah-Montana to this Public-Scene-of-Obscenity. But here’s the thing– no one is shooting any criticism toward Robin Thicke, who stood right up there on stage with her. In fact, the whole nation has been singing his song “Blurred Lines” for months and raving about how they hope it will be the Song of the Summer. People turn up the bass. Have dance parties. Tweet their enthusiastic fandom. But have people really listened to the lyrics they’re raving over? Because hello, it’s about a former good girl “getting nasty” and doing some pretty detailed, graphic things. In other words, it’s the story of Miley Cyrus. So Robin can put this song out there and make millions of dollars. He can be glorified by the music industry. He can even stand up there on stage with Miley Cyrus, complicit with her twerking all over him, as she embodies the very meaning his song we’ve been singing all summer… but now we hate her? Still love him? Weird.

mileypost

I am sitting in an airport

I would like to write a not-so-serious post.
And hey, I guess I’ll just do that since this is my blog and my life.
Doesn’t it feel so good to have ownership sometimes?
MY blog. MY life.
I think this is why so many little kids are yelling “MINE!” at each other.
It’s a human thing. We gotta have something that’s ours.
Sometimes we grow up and learn to share.
Even still, certain things are just yours, even if you share them.
Like your blog. Or your life.

I am sitting in an airport.
This gate keeps filling up with people and then they all fly away. And then it fills up with other people and then they all fly away too until it’s just me and the carpet cleaner guy. He’s doing a great job. I don’t fly away for another few hours so I’m here on my laptop hustlin Craig’s List like a BOSS. Because once I get on that plane, I’m flying to Texas. And once I’m in Texas, I’m going to LIVE there. With Ken. And we need pretty furniture for small amounts of money. And I am great at finding things for small amounts of money. I will unearth them from the dust by my sheer willpower. Or just find them on Craig’s List. Whichever happens first.

I am sitting in an airport.
I think it’s beautiful that as soon as I sit, no matter how or where I am sitting, my legs form a surface for a notebook… and my arms are the perfect length for writing on that surface. I’ve been referring to this spot as my lap for my whole life, but I never thought about how magic it is. Laps just happen when you sit down. It’s a great thing. It’s the reason why my lap never gets as tan at the beach. I can also use this spot for a book, a baby, a sandwich — whatever I’d like to sit with for a while. Fantastic. I bet people were made this way on purpose.

I am sitting in an airport.
Next to me is a book I read on the first plane. It’s called What Wildness Is This, and it’s full of essays and poems that I’ve loved for years. Recently, I discovered that it was published by the University of Texas, which I of course interpreted as an omen from the universe.

I am sitting in an airport.
Annnnnd something smells like fried chicken,
which of course triggers the involuntary urge to seek out the source.
Fried Chicken trumps blog.
See you in Texas.

This is me talking about God.

Story time:
I used to be a teacher at the MTC.
That stands for Missionary Training Center.

I often asked the new missionaries,
“What do you need to feel in order to experience conversion?”
I wasn’t looking for any one answer in particular, just trying to get them thinking.

I often heard things like:
“Feel that God loves you.”
“Feel a desire to believe”
“Feel that He is listening.”

Once, from a brand new sister missionary in the back corner, I heard this:
“You need to feel uncomfortable.”

She explained that conversion requires a change of heart.
Some sort of self-renovation.
You cannot change or progress without leaving your comfort zone.
And so, she concluded, you need to feel uncomfortable.

I believe she was right.

Let’s talk about this.
Maybe the word conversion is strange and foreign to you.
You could call it inspiration or enlightenment or something more ambiguous if you like.
For me, that move can sometimes be deceiving.

Watch:
God >> Divine Being >> Higher Power >> Vibrations of Light >> Force of the Universe.
With each move, your subject becomes more broad.
You are covering a larger scope of ideas with just one word. This type of language is good if you’re speaking to a bunch of people from diverse backgrounds. It helps us unite and relate to a large spectrum of ideas. Yoga teachers are masters at this. But here’s the deal: in embracing that ambiguity, in trying to include every possible belief that others have, you may pass over the opportunity to clearly define what your belief is.

And so, I believe the safety of ambiguity also comes with a loss of clarity, relevance, and intimacy.
Who is God to you?
I think it can be simpler than a vast, vague sphere of ideas.
I think God is a man we can know, rather than a force that comes and goes in mysterious waves but is never quite as personal as a friend. I can be uncomfortable to try and communicate with someone you don’t know. But that is not the type of uncomfortable I’m talking about here. What I’m saying is that while the conversion experience must at some point feel uncomfortable, our relationship with God as a being, as a Father, does not have to be. It can be simple. And clear. And awesome.

Kind of like this:
There was a time when I really wanted to learn how to play the guitar. My good friend Jared offered to help. He was kind. He didn’t mind that my musical background consisted solely of jammin to the radio, he was just pumped to teach me–so I decided to try it. Still, it was uncomfortable for me. Holding the guitar, finding the chords, staying in rhythm–all of that was weird. It was a position I’d never been in before and most of the time I felt pretty embarrassed. Jared was patient. Sometimes he would explain things in a way that didn’t make sense to me, but I trusted him. I knew he was listening and that he cared about me, but learning to play like him was hard. It required much more. Same thing with God.

If you want to know Him,
You must be ready to go where you have never gone,
Learn new things. Embrace awkward positions.
Leave your comforts behind.

This means you will feel uncomfortable at times.
Not so much in your relationship with God,
but in the experience of becoming like Him.

I could leave you with a beautiful ending about how I stuck with guitar until I mastered it and was no longer uncomfortable. But that wouldn’t be true. I gave up on the guitar pretty fast. I just didn’t know if I was capable of the results I wanted. And if I was, would it be worth all the time I spent feeling uncomfortable? I wasn’t sure. So I stopped trying, and went back to the way I was. Now I listen to music like I always have, appreciating it from a distance without being involved. I think this is how I am with God sometimes too. Distant. Complacent.  But not happy. Not anywhere close to the potential he created me for. I keep having to remind myself to seek that potential–leave the zone of comfort.

So here’s the ending: I think that process is normal.
That is how you find out the details of who He is and how He works with you.
That is how God goes from someone you hear about, to someone you know.
That is how you move from an ambiguous notion, toward a firsthand, personal clarity.
It is also, I believe, the point of life.
We can do this.

Status

Six Steps.

1. I am listening to The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isokov over and over and over again. I can’t dissect all the lyrics in my mind, but somewhere beyond that, I feel exactly what he is trying to say.

2. Today Emily took me to playgroup at the pool so I could hang out with the Moms and their kids. I am not a Mom. Does that mean I am more a kid to them? I’m not sure, but I hope they want to be friends with me anyway. I watched them all try to discipline their kids quietly but effectively, while juggling the fragile feelings of other kids:

One tells Jill, “We need to ask Benny if it’s okay before we splash him. Do you understand?” Benny’s Mom pipes in “It’s okay Benny, Jill didn’t mean it. Did you find a new toy? Does that belong to Alison?” Alison’s Mom is next: “Alison, no yelling. We need to share. We are sharing with Benny now.”

3. I would really love to be a Mom, but I’m not ready to write to you about that yet. For now, I stand waist-deep in the water. I watch the other Moms.

4. Last night Ken walked to the paper store with me. Ken is my husband. I like to take him with me. I wanted to pick out an amazing piece of paper so I could make an amazing envelope for a letter I am sending soon. I am nervous about this letter and I must have been hoping that if I encased it in something beautiful and made with my own hands, the words inside would read just right. As soon as we got to the big glass door, the lady locked it and put up a CLOSED sign. I made a very sad face at her by accident. Ken said we could go get gelato instead. He even paid the way-too-much-price for a teeny cup of fancypants gelato. Thanks Ken.

5. We are sitting by the big glass wall with our gelato. I am in the middle of a chocolate cream bite when Ken tells me he will soon be gone underwater in an undisclosed part of the ocean. For a week. With The United States Navy. To all of my follow-up questions about the possibility of blowing-up or imminent death, he responds, “I can’t tell you.” It’s just testing…engineering…secret stuff, he says. No big deal. I shouldn’t worry. “This is not NBD.” I tell him. I stop tasting my gelato. I keep eating it, but I stop tasting it because my mouth is busy articulating a million hypotheticals. Ken smiles. He thinks it’s funny when I get worked up and worried and talk this fast. I think: How is this funny? Just then we see bunch of hip people with tattoos and neon clothing posing for a picture on the other side of the glass wall. We are in the background, so we make a photo-bomb face.

6. I feel like this a lot lately: there is me, there is glass, and there is something on the other side. I can make a sad face. I can make a photo bomb face. I can eat my gelato or I can keep walking, but I can’t quite be on the other side of that glass. All these transparent barriers, like water in the pool.

I sent the letter in a plain, white envelope.

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