The clear expression of mixed feelings

Here’s a rare thing–a secret about myself that I have not yet disclosed on this blog. I am a poet.

I fell in love with poetry as a little girl. I loved the images it made in my head, and the startling flashes of insight it gave me. But most of all, I loved the sound of the words in my mouth. Memorizing poetry became a habit, and a weapon against my recurring insomnia. I don’t know that I ever made it to the end of Paul Revere’s Ride without falling asleep.

At a used book sale once, my resourceful homeschooling parents picked up a copy of Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense. It’s a high school textbook, full of the minutiae the boring English teacher tries to cram into his students at the beginning of the movie Dead Poets’ Society. You know, all the facts and terms and analysis that are supposed to kill people’s love of literature. Only they didn’t kill mine. They woke it up. I could not get enough of synecdoche, dactyls, and onomatopoeia. I read and loved the poetry section of that book to death. I was fascinated not only by the poetry itself, but by all the elements that made it up–the nuances of sound and image and meaning that turned common words into art.

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The Working Life

Tony and the kids popped in to my work on Thursday, and Tony of course had to document the moment, like every other significant and insignificant moment of our life, for inclusion on the family website. So here is actual photographic evidence of my industrious ways:

And in fact, I’ve been at my job for a month now, and Tony and the children have been back for the past two weeks, which seems long enough to state some preliminary observations about how things are going.

The short answer is, I am happier than I’ve been in quite a while. I have way more patience for my children when I come home at six o-clock from an office full of adults than I did when I was at home with them all day. My emotional resources are magically magnified by being away from home during the work-day doing something interesting and creative, and I am much better able to deal with the inevitable complications and setbacks of life.

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Rated R

Mormons (at least in the U.S., where the MPAA holds sway) have a soft norm against watching R-rated movies. There are still lots of Mormons who watch them (just like there are plenty of Mormons who drink Coke or watch the Superbowl on Sunday or let their little girls wear tank tops), but for some,  not watching can be something of a symbol of their faith. I remember as a kid hearing several stories of young people who “lived their religion” by suggesting a different movie or just going home when their friends were pressuring them to watch one that was rated with the big bad “R”.

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Wearing Pants

About a month ago, I wore pants to church for the first time (trousers, that is, for my readers who speak British-inspired forms of English). In case you didn’t know, there’s a soft norm in the Mormon church for women to wear skirts or dresses to Sunday meetings. And in case you haven’t heard, there’s been quite a social media tempest during the past couple of weeks after a group of Mormon feminists asked LDS women to wear pants to church on Sunday, December 16 as a show of solidarity.

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How I Made Friends With Facebook

I have not always been a friend to Facebook. I am way too old to have grown up using it in high school. Actually, I’ll admit it, I’m even too old to have used it in college. I found out about Facebook from my kid brother long after all the cool people were already on it. I finally broke down and joined on 12 November 2008. According to Facebook, that important date (which appears prominently in my snazzy new Timeline) ranks right up there with being born and graduating from college.

Like most users, I experienced the initial infatuation with Facebook, as it put me back in touch with various long lost friends. And although I never took photos of myself kissing Zuckerberg’s photo, I do have warm fuzzies over Facebook’s important role in the Arab Spring. Since then, however, my feelings about Facebook have deteriorated from sarcastic ambivalence to downright hostility.

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My inner artist

Like most other children, I really liked to draw when I was young.

At the age of nine, my mom enrolled me in a YMCA art class, where I learned about various artistic styles and did the requisite imitations. For example, here’s my Mondrian,

The Seurat,

and the Kandinsky.

Later, as a teenager, I traded piano lessons for art lessons from a friend, and along with drawing and painting, I tried my hand at such varied artistic activities as Ukranian Easter eggs (several of which still hang on our tree each Christmas), wood-burning, and printing.

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Fame

Guess what came out of my mailbox today? My copy of Bridges, the alumni magazine for Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center for International Studies. And guess what I found on page 14? An article about the Tunisian Revolution. Written by me.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably already heard what I have to say about Tunisia. But if you think it’s as cool as I think it is to see my name in print, you can access the online version here.

City of Angels

Thursday Grammy was kind enough to babysit the children while Tony and I drove the two hours to the Los Angeles Temple. While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has thousands of church buildings and congregations around the world, temples are still rare, relatively speaking. There are 135 temples currently operating, spread over every inhabited continent. Tony and I are kind of temple junkies. We have a page on our family website to keep track of the temples we’ve visited around the world. We were delighted to be in Italy last year when ground was broken for the new Rome Temple.

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One in a Million

Back when I was an entrepreneur, I had a hero named Steve Jobs. He founded and ran an amazingly successful company. He produced new markets out of thin air. But he was more than just a savvy businessman. He was an artist. A creator. I used to read a lot of books about management and business, and my favorites were the ones about Apple, and the way Jobs turned his unerring aesthetic sense into an empire, a worldwide phenomenon, and a whole new way of living with technology. He had an instinctive understanding of the importance of design, which he honed to sophisticated perfection. His distinctive stamp marked every product graced with the Apple logo. Instead of customers, he had lifetime fanatics.

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Roses and Transformations

“These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. . . . We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.” – G.K. Chesterton

After yesterday’s delightful romp through the mildly feminist Disney version, I thought today we might consider some other, more subtle aspects of Beauty and the Beast. Yes, I do have more to say about my favorite fairytale. Most of the fairy stories we heard as children are charged with hidden truth and unseen power. Jung, Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, and of course, Chesterton, all wrote essays on the importance of fairytales. And for me, there is no more compelling story than Beauty and the Beast. From the moment we catch a glimpse of that fateful rose in the garden of the enchanted castle, the tale wraps us in a web of complex human relationships, forcing us to look deeper inside ourselves and other people to find the elusive and sometimes surprising truth of who we really are.

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