Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Are Words

I was talking with someone today about plastic relationships. So many people think that with one rough patch, one might as well toss their guy/girl since they've obviously fallen out of love and aren't happy. Things aren't working? Don't let the door hit you in the rear. Hit the road, Jack. These boots were made for walking. Take your things and go.
I was inspired to dig out one of my favorite videos from YouTube by Chris Medina called "What are Words". (I'd have had it on here but I can't get it to embed right, and frankly I don't want to worry about copyright laws. Please, go and watch that video when you finish here.) 

The story is breathtaking, my friend. I love how Chris stays with his sweetheart after she's been in her car accident and isn't the same girl he first met. It made me want to send him a dozen chocolates and my heartfelt appreciation in proxy for all those girls and women everywhere who have been dumped for stupid, spurious reasons.
 Thank you, Chris Medina!
We can't just promise to love someone for the rest of our lives (or beyond in my case) and then bail when the going gets rough. No. What you do is FIX IT. You make it right. You learn to batter out a lasting peace in which you both make compromises and stand with each other against all odds. You cleave to each other, not your mommy, not your children, not your buddies, not your secretary or someone else. You made promises to your spouse. You gave your word. That's what it means to me. I wish it was a universal sentiment.

I'm not saying you shouldn't love your children. Far from it. But the best present you could give your kids is to love their parent. That means you don't let things, or work, or play, or misunderstandings come between you. You carve out time to talk to each other. You date your spouse. You make that person feel as if they are the most important person on the planet to you. Yeah. That's how it should be. If you're going to get married, do it RIGHT.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Eyebrow Comb-overs

My Hubs has a couple of eyebrow hairs which are maybe an inch and a half long. I don't know about anybody else, but that bugs me. He holds onto those suckers and slicks them down in order, apparently, to boost the amount of eye coverage he has.

In my opinion, he's like these old guys who try to slick the three or four hairs they've still got over their shiny bald pates in hopes of still appearing to be blithe and young. The counsellor at my old high school used to comb his from the back to the front. Whenever he was scurrying down the hall, the sparse cap of cultivated hairs whipped back like the pop top on a water bottle. One time I nearly laughed so hard I fell into my locker.

So I go after the offending eyebrow ropes with a scissors hoping he'll finally relent, but he doesn't. There is no scenario where he feels the need to have a well-trimmed face, apparently. Drives me nuts. I wonder if he'd even trim a uni-brow or one of those sets of raccoon-shaped brows that blot out the light of the sun.

I got to thinking about this today. Are there things I'm holding onto, which, like the Hubs' foot-long eyebrow hairs, could be holding me like a bug caught in amber; images of myself as a person; items long out of use I should have tossed onto the mound eons ago?

I figured that going on sweater purges, bailing on all the half-done hopeless projects, wiping out the civilization of plastic bags festering in my cupboard, and tossing out all my ancient I'm-holding-onto-these-clothes-for-when-I-lose-sixty-pounds-of-hideous-fat clothes would do the trick until I can examine the more difficult, closer-held personal images which should be jettisoned. It kind of feels like cutting off the parachute right before you jump out of the plane.

Maybe I should lay off the stupid eyebrow festoons and concentrate on a thousand tons of my own useless baggage.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Caleb Challenge

I've read a beautiful article today over on Modern Mormon Men blog about middle-grade miracles called The Caleb Miracle. These aren't the wop-you-in-the-face miracles like Oscar Pistorius running in the Olympics as a double amputee. And they aren't the niggling ones like sunsets. These are the miracles that happen often when you hope and wish for something and pray for them.

The other day my son P. lost his wallet. It had everything in it, including, unfortunately, his social security card (he learned that lesson). We looked all over for that wallet, retracing steps, calling the bus station, etc. No dice. It was then that I began to pray that he'd find his wallet. I asked him if he were too and he said he was.

He's been having a crisis of faith lately, poised as he is, on the brink of adulthood and scared to death to jump off. So I've been finding every opportunity I can to recognize verbally for him, these little miracles. It's sort of a hobby of mine to note miracles and answers to prayer as they happen. I think it makes one more open to the Spirit and is a form of thanks.

The wallet didn't come back that day, nor the following two. I was beginning to wonder if the wallet hadn't been meant to bless some poor Illegal alien or something (don't even get me started). I took him to get his cards shut down at the bank and prepared to call up the Social Security place. I wasn't looking forward to the hassle, I tell you. I hoped that P. had learned to keep better track of his things.

But suddenly P. got a package in the mail. It was the wallet! And everything was still in it! All his cards (even his Eagle recognition card and social security card) were there. I took it in to him and told him, "Hey, P., you've just had an answer to your prayers. Check it out." That was a pretty good little miracle. Those happen all the time.

Castles on the Sand Review

Let me first say that I love E.M. Tippetts' work, as well as Emily Mah's. I love her voice and the way she gets down to the nitty gritty without dragging one through a field full of cow pies first. Castles on the Sand delivers without the meadow muffins. I am avidly awaiting the second book in this series.

I loved that Madison comes from a deeply flawed home life, but she seems like a rubber ducky kind of person--always floating to the surface with a smile on her beak. Her travails are believable and heartbreaking, but she's a survivor. I really identified with her feelings of inadequacy, having always been the more ungainly of my friends (despite being on toe in ballet and an avid ballroom and folk dancer). She never knows how stunning she really is--just like most young girls.

I liked that Madison had a range of guys to choose from, all with their own flaws and shortcomings. I never pictured Barbie's Ken in any of them, which is often something which dogs me when I read romances. I despise a plastic male lead. It's as if those writers are saying, "Sorry, mortal. You'll have to settle for the scratched up version." Tippetts offers us the battered guy and says, "Check him out. He may look like a garage sale reject, but there's pure gold under that scuffed up veneer."

All of us have those friends who are so confused and unprepared, that life seems to keep kicking them in the face. I enjoyed the fact that Madison stood up for her friend without being a door mat. At no point did I want to smack her and tell her to ditch her friend, because I knew Madison was really the one doing the rescuing, not the other way around.

I didn't understand, though, why our heroine's school would allow someone to batter her nearly insensate in school, without suspending the creep. That administration was very lucky Madison's mom didn't care enough to sue.

This book deals with some weighty problems without slamming us in the neck meat with them. I was overjoyed to see how strong Madison was (as well as her male lead), though under-confident at first. Her rocky journey to self-discovery was a joy to share.

Madison found the guts to take her destiny in her own hands. I wept for the love she didn't get from her parents. I died a little every time she surrendered to her mother's indifference. I cheered when her brother rode in on his white horse to be the brother she needed. I hoped Madison would find the strength to rise above her upbringing (or lack thereof) to be a competent adult who could sustain long-range loving relationships.

I can't wait to read the next book! I'd put Castles on the Sand on the same shelf as On Little Wings by Regina Sirois. Hurry up, Em! I want to see where Madison goes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The GPS Guy

A while back I went to Mesa, Arizona with my friend K. We'd been up there scores of times but she was trying out her new GPS. With a flourish, K. entered our coordinates as if we were headed off for the dark side of Saturn. We set off to the dulcet tones of a strapping young man with a washboard stomach, sparkling blue eyes, and golden highlights. (You can hear how he looks. I know you can.)

That worked right up until we got to the end of the street and K. decided we needed something from the store. She likes to travel prepared (which has saved us a ton of money going to the movies). The young man in the GPS graciously let us know that we'd veered from our chosen course.

"I know," remarked K. "I'm getting something."
"Redirecting," the young man said silkily.
We headed off to the store to pick up our goodies and get some gas. Upon leaving said store, again our sweet Adonis nudged us toward some nameless neighborhood to turn around.
"I know what I'm doing in town, you doofus!" K. yelled. We turned the opposite way and headed for the freeway. I could hear a slight choking sound from the GPS. The blond lad was starting to get pink in the face.

K. smiled and patted the GPS. "I programmed in the most cost effective way to get there. This should be good."
I grinned, knowing that we'd be trundling down the freeway in no time.

Not so much. Our efforts to make it to the freeway were giving our boy-in-the-Box apoplexy. I could hear the decibels climb with each disobedience. The boy was turning scarlet by now and there was a vein popping in his once-lineless forehead. I was expecting invective by now.

"Turn right at Vale-en-sie-a," the boy moaned.
"Get it right, then," K. cracked. "These things never pronounce things right."
"I'd hate to see what he makes of Casa Grande," I said, remembering any number of human pronunciations. "Or Tohono O'odam. Get that right, GPS Guy."

I was now worried that our fearless captain would have an aneurysm if we didn't start to follow his august instructions. "Maybe you should let the dude lead," I told K. "If not, he'll pop a vein or something. You did want to try it out, didn't you?"

So she took his advice, which led to the oddest route to Mesa we'd ever taken. I'd never been through the back side of the reservation before. We saw all kinds of tiny towns we'd never even heard of. At every juncture we lost a little more confidence that 'Golden Boy' knew anything he was talking about. How could a route which looked like a cat had been having way too much fun with a ball of string be the most cost effective way to get there?

And then it dawned on me. Boy-in-a-Box was getting back at us for ignoring his veiled threats. (Okay, they were very well veiled.) He had gotten fed up with trying to nicely nudge us the sane way, and now he was taking us through Chicken Leg Hollow and Dogpatch to where his fifty nine in-bred cousins would do us in and chop the car into salable pieces. (Except that he'd obviously never bodily ridden in said car or he'd be insane because the warning bell for something was forever stuck in the ON position and dinged through the whole ride.)

Just when I was certain I could see an angry mob of bat-wielding relatives converging on us at a stop sign, I realized that I could see the freeway.
"What's he thinking?" I asked K. "The stinking freeway is right there!"
"Huh. So it is. What's the deal? Maybe he'll direct us up there and we can drive faster than thirty five again."
We skulked along in Podunkia and a few hundred fields of waving whatever eying the sleek lines of the freeway, wondering how to ditch the bossy boy and get back to the real route.

"Maybe there's a traffic snarl. Traffic near Phoenix is always getting backed up."
I nodded. "Look. It isn't moving. Maybe he's right."
Sure enough, GPS Guy never connected us to the freeway. We crawled along in the weedy byways, but we did crawl. And the event we were planning to attend wasn't even over by the time we got there. We went home under our own steam.

The jury's still out on Mr. GPS Man. It's doubtful he'll want to direct us anywhere in the future. We may have caused him to opt for an early retirement in Bolivia somewhere. And we think we can get to Mesa by ourselves next time.