Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I Mardied Your Mom's Gras Last Night

If you're offended by that title, as all decent folk should be, then you should leave now and come back tomorrow.

All the decent folk gone?


Your mom's gone.

Today is Mardi Gras, which means that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. (I began your mom's Lent last night.) For Lent this year, I'm giving up two things: ice cream (I creamed your mom's ice last night) and your mom jokes (your mom's a joke). This means that I will spend the next forty days hungry and without much to say. (I spent the next forty days with your mom last night.)

This also means, in case you have not noticed, that I am obligated to observe today's celebration of debauchery by binging on ice cream and your mom jokes. (Your mom binges on ice cream.) With that in mind, I invite all of you non-decent folk who are still reading to join with me in this sinful orgy of ice cream and your mom jokes by eating a carton of ice cream today and by filling my comments section with tasteless your mom jokes. (Your mom's tasteless.)

By the way, I've decided that it would be rude of me to insist that others change dessert options on my account, so I will not turn down ice cream when you offer it to me in your own home. Just so you know.

Thank you. That is all.

Your mom goes to college.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Yes, editorgirl, I saw that you tagged me a week and a half ago. I've been busy aiding and abetting criminals.

Four Jobs I've Had
1. Adjunct English instructor
2. Assistant librarian
3. Special events coordinator/artist
4. Park attendant

Four Movies I can watch over and over
1. Moulin Rouge!
2. Groundhog Day
3. Romeo + Juliet
4. Batman Begins

Four Places I've Lived
1. Honolulu, Hawaii
2. Provo, Utah
3. Madrid (and thereabout), Spain
4. Orem, Utah

Four TV Shows I Love(d)
1. The Simpsons
2. Roseanne
3. Lois & Clark
4. Smallville

Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows that I've never watched a single minute of
1. 24
2. House
3. Can this year's Olympics count?
4. Anything else high regarded and recommended in the past ever

Four Places I've Vacationed
1. Wisconsin
2. Barbados
3. California
4. Vegas

Four of my favorite dishes
1. Peanut chicken
2. Utah enchiladas
3. Pizza
4. Chicken parmesan

Four sites I visit daily
1. http://www.newsarama.com
2. http://www.okayplayer.com
3. http://com4.runboard.com/blaurynhilltalk.fmainchat
4. http://www.yourmom.com (okay, to be honest, I didn't know that was a real url until just now)

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now
1. In a magical land where time does not exist
2. Hm. Actually, I'm happy to be here at the moment.

Four Bloggers I am tagging
1. editorgirl (HA! I'm rubber and you're glue!)
2. Anonymous #s 1 & 2
3. Foxy J
4. Your mom

Sunday, February 26, 2006


After dinner at the Bunnycave with Edgy and friends:

Absent-minded Secretary: I can't decide whether to post tomorrow about Holiday A or Holiday B.

Edgy Killer Bunny: You could post twice. That would make up for me not blogging.


In that spirit, since my loyal readers have no doubt felt neglected this week, I redirect you to the Almanac of Miscellaneous Merriment, where I invite you to contribute to the ongoing fairy tale started by Absent and continued by her readers, including moi.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How We Harbored a Fugitive

The date: Thursday, February 23, 2006.

The time: 1:24 pm.

The place: The Fobcave.

Master Fob hears a knock at the door. Annoyed to be disturbed while writing an important email, he goes into the living room and opens the front door. No one is there. He turns around to see a caucasian lady (curly blonde hair, 5'6", approximately 200 lbs., wearing a dress) waving through the kitchen window. He opens the back door and the suspect (heretofore referred to as "Angie," mainly because that's her name) enters the Fobcave.

"Can I use your phone?" she asks. "My phone isn't working and I need to call someone."

"Okay," Master Fob says as she brushes past him.

Angie pauses at the phone, then looks at Master Fob and Foxy J. "Can I use your bathroom first? Sorry, I really have to go."

"Um. Okay."

Angie rushes into the bathroom.

Master Fob and Foxy J exchange funny looks. "That's weird," Foxy says.

Master Fob heads back into the bedroom to get back to that important email, but pauses when he hears Angie talking in the bathroom. Wasn't her phone not working?

"The judge couldn't see me today," she says, "so I need you to come get me." The toilet flushes and Angie emerges from the bathroom. "What's your address?" she asks Foxy. Foxy tells her and she repeats to her cell phone, "Fob East Cave North." She hangs up and asks, "Is it all right if I wait inside?" She points to her sandals. "My feet are freezing outside."

"How long will this be?" Master Fob says, not wanting to be rude but not anxious to let a stranger hang around in his home. "The library's right across the street."

"It'll just be a couple minutes," Angie insists. "Thanks." She picks up her cell phone, dials, and tells the mystery person on the other side to pick her up in the parking lot behind the apartment building.

Master Fob, concluding that this lady is strange so he doesn't want to talk to her while she waits, but that she is not a threat, heads back into the bedroom while Foxy continues baking a cake in the kitchen. Master Fob wonders if he should stay in the living room to protect his wife, but takes comfort in the facts that (a) Angie has no purse to conceal any weapons and (b) in the bedroom he can hear everything going on and have the cordless phone on hand to dail 9-1-1 at any point.

"Your couches are nice," Master Fob hears Angie tell Foxy. "I like them."

Master Fob keeps his eyes on the phone, trying to imagine the worst that could happen in the time it takes him to call the police and for them to get here from the police station on the other side of the library across the street. He wants Angie to go away. He wonders if he should insist she wait for her friends at the library.

"Hey," Angie says, apparently to her cell phone, "are you almost here? These nice people are letting me wait in their house." A pause. "Thanks for letting me wait here," Angie says, now apparently speaking to Foxy J. "I'm sorry. I was in such a rush this morning and I was running around, trying to catch my mother-in-law before she went somewhere or other." A pause. "You know, I think I will wait at the library. Thanks."

"You can go out the front door," Foxy says. "The library is right there."

"No, I, uh, dropped something in back. Something fell out of my pocket."

The door shuts and Master Fob goes back out to the living room. He watches out the window for Angie to come around to the front and cross the street to the library, but she never does. He looks out the back window, but doesn't see Angie there either. "Did you see which way she went?"

"No," Foxy says. "That was weird."

"Yeah," Master Fob says. He locks both doors. He continues looking out the windows to see where Angie went, and to see if any strange vehicles pull up and unload scary-looking mercenaries with knives or rocket launchers. Instead, he sees a county sheriff's car pull into the driveway, turn around in the back parking lot, and leave. Over the next several minutes he notices several police cars wandering around. "This is weird."

An old red Pontiac carrying a white-trashy-looking man and woman pulls up in front of the Fobcave. The man and the woman stare into the Fobcave. Master Fob and Foxy J stare back. The car pulls away, goes up and down Cave North street, then pulls up in front of the Fobcave again. The man gets out and approaches. He knocks on the door.

Master Fob opens the window next to the door. "Yes?"

"Hey," the man says, "is Angie here?" (This is wher Master Fob learns her name is Angie.)

"No, but I think she was. She left a few minutes ago. I don't know where she went." Master Fob tries to read the license plate on the old red Pontiac as it pulls away.

At Foxy J's suggestion, Master Fob calls police dispatch. "Um, I live across the street from the City Center, and I just had this lady come and ask to use my phone and my bathroom."

"What was she wearing?"

"A dress. I think her name was Angie."

"Is she still there?"


"Which way did she go?"

"I don't know. She went out our back door, which faces north."

"Yeah, we're looking for her. Hold on a sec." Hold. "Yeah, she just ran out of the court and we're trying to find her. A police officer might come ask you about her."

BOOM!!! Master Fob and Foxy J are thrown to the floor as the front wall of the Fobcave is blown to pieces. Angie stands over the rubble, holding a rocket launcher on her shoulder. "Call the police on me, will you? I just needed to use the bathroom! Eat rocket, scumbuckets!" She points the rocket launcher at Master Fob's face and pulls the trigger.


Okay, that last paragraph never happened. I just realized that this story is rather anti-climactic and probably not worth the time it's taken to tell. We didn't see Angie again, and the police never even came to talk to us.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Poop in the Bathtub

Take my name, take my fame,
While you at it, take my shame,
Take my flaws, take my blame
Feel my dirt, conceal my hurt,
See my bruise,
I'm guessin' you would walk in my shoes.

--Mase, "Jesus Walks (Remix)"

S-Boogie reminds us frequently of what she is not supposed to do. "No hitting." "No play the butter." "No play with cord." (Usually accompanied by "Mommy Daddy cry." We're glad she remembers that one.) "No poop in the tub." She reminded me of this last one last night, just minutes before pooping in the tub. I watched in horror as she leaned forward, strained a bit, and released a little brown blob into the water. "No, Boogie!" I yelled. "Not in the tub!" In a panic I pulled all her toys out before they could be contaminated, then pulled out a distraught two-and-a-half-year-old while Foxy J put the potty seat on the toilet. I set S-Boog down on the potty and groaned. "Great."

Then S-Boogie looked at me with wide eyes about to tear up, her bottom lip trembling, and said in a pitiful voice full of self-contempt, "No poop in the tub."

I had assumed that her constant repetition of our remonstrances was just evidence of her interest in language, and of her amusement at our reactions to her mischievous quirks. I assumed that she thought of these run-ins with parental law nothing more than a joke. I realized last night, though, that when she repeats the rules she's reminding herself of what she must avoid doing in order to avoid displeasing Daddy and Mommy. Last night she came up against something she'll learn over and over: Even when I know all the rules I can't follow them all. And therefore I am bad.

I hugged S-Boogie last night and told her over and over again that I love her even when she poops in the tub. I felt horrible for making her believe otherwise, even for a moment.

If it seems like I'm making a bigger deal out of this than I need to, it's because I probably am. That, really, is the core of the problem. I manage to communicate to my daughter (despite my intent) that nothing short of perfection is acceptable because I accept nothing short of perfection from myself. I remember being a few years older than S-Boogie and having a similar accident in the tub. I'm sure my dad reacted no worse than I did last night--frustrated at the mess he had to clean up--but I distinctly recall feeling that I was a horrible, awful, no-good person and that he hated me for it.

It kills me to think S-Boogie might spend her life going through the hell of never living up to her own impossible expectations, but it's not as simple as recognizing that fact and changing it. Obsessive perfection is so ingrained in me that I'm not sure I can rid my own conscious thoughts of it, much less the messages I unconsciously send to my children. I think it goes without saying that the answer is not to simply buck up and start being perfect. (And yet now I've said it.) So I can't be perfect and I can't stop expecting myself to be perfect and hating myself for not being perfect and I will likely teach my children to do the same.

Simply put, I have damned myself and my children to hell, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

A while back, my brother emailed me an article written by a guy who believes there is no God. He distinguishes himself from atheists, who simply do not believe in God, and takes a more proactive stance. He believes that God is an excuse for people to be lazy:
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
The guy makes quite the convincing argument. People do often use belief in God and thus the possibility of repentance as an excuse to be jerks and do stupid things. Repentance should not be relied on when prevention is possible.

But what about the times when I simply can't avoid doing things that hurt myself or other people? When I'm a toddler with little-to-no bladder control who knows I'm not supposed to poop in the bathtub but I do anyway? Yes, I can hope to be forgiven by the kindness and faulty memories of others, but how do I forgive myself?

I believe in God because it's the only way I stay sane. No, I don't know he exists, but I have faith based in hope, hope that there is someone who can take my shame, take my flaws, take my blame, feel my dirt, conceal my hurt. You might argue that by removing God from the equation I would take away the rules and hence the guilt caused by breaking them, making his mercy unnecessary. Maybe so, but I can't so easily rid myself of my perfection complex, let alone of my God.

And no, I won't use hope for repentance as an excuse to stop trying. I won't watch passively as my daughter cries because I taught her that she's bad for doing something she can't help, trusting that Jesus will make it all better. I'll keep apologizing to her, reminding her that I love her, doing my best to make it better myself. Then, when I've done all I can and it's not enough, I'll ask God to forgive me and hope I can too.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

From Amazon.com:

The 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is now available at Amazon.com. Find out why the Swimsuit Issue is the most widely read issue of any magazine in the world today.

Um. Is there any question? I mean, I can't say I fully understand its appeal myself, but I certainly can imagine why 90% of the world's male population does find it appealing. They need to know the latest styles so they can buy their wife a swimsuit, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ghosts of Love
(A Fobby Discourse in Two Parts)

Part I: The Ghost of That Which Never Was

The new elders quorum president in our ward is a recently remarried widower. He doesn’t talk about his first wife all the time, but he does somewhat frequently, when it’s appropriate and applicable to the discussion. When he speaks it’s evident that he misses his first wife immensely and is still very much in love with her. It is also apparent that he loves his second wife immensely and would not give her up for anything. I find myself identifying with him.

Like a widower, I long for someone who is not here, who cannot be here. I ache to hold him, to speak of shared interests and passions, to—as a friend said recently, speaking of a similar yearning—“fall asleep in his arms and wake up next to him.” Occasionally this absent presence takes the form of a tangible individual, but more often it is for that faceless, nameless Man that was never a part of my life.

Like the remarried elders quorum president, this doesn’t change how much I love Foxy J, how happy I am to have her in my life. I love to hold her, to speak of shared interests and passions, to fall asleep in her arms and wake up next to her. Yesterday we ate heart-shaped French toast for breakfast, exchanged small tokens of affection throughout the day, enjoyed a dinner of cheeseburgers and fries that we both had been craving for weeks, and watched Moulin Rouge! together after putting S-Boogie to bed. It was a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Happiness and longing are not mutually exclusive. I wish I could convey that message as clearly as my widowed friend does.

Like any metaphor, this comparison only goes so far. I did not have my loved one taken from me; I chose this separation, and I could just as easily (which, to be honest, is not all that easily) unchoose it. There are those who would say that what I long for is not a valid love and others who would say that what I have is not a valid love, while few would come to the same conclusion about either of the elders quorum president’s marriages. I cannot honestly say that I know what it’s like to lose a spouse to disease or disaster. But I do have some idea of the emptiness one feels afterward, as well as the joy one can experience concurrently with that emptiness.

Part II: The Ghosts of Love Past, Present, and Future

I just finished Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan. The title page describes it as a remix of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Ben, bitter and numb to love after his girlfriend’s death, is visited first by her ghost, then by three other ghosts who show him love in his past, present, and future. As I read, knowing the story would parallel the familiar story of Ebenezer Scrooge, I wondered if it would conclude with Ben finding the true meaning of Valentine’s Day by finding a new lover to share it with. I was wary of this ending because I saw no character who could potentially fill this role so if there was one she’d have to come out of nowhere, and because I couldn’t see Ben going so quickly from despairing over Marly to hooking up with another girl. Thankfully, my fears were unwarranted. The love Ben comes to celebrate at the end of the novel is not so much an exclusive romantic love but more of an all-inclusive platonic love for the people in his life, fed by the memory of his love for Marly. It was nice to see Levithan’s vision of Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate all kinds of love, not only romantic love.

I’m keenly aware of how many people view Valentine’s Day as a day to remind them of their loneliness, partly because I have so many single friends and partly because several of my students ranted the other day about what a stupid holiday it is. It’s unfortunate that our culture’s emphasis on romantic love leads to so much unhappiness. Yes, romantic love is wonderful--and I appreciated Theric’s post yesterday on why the romance part of romantic love is necessary--but it’s not everything.

“Sure, Master Fob, that’s easy for you to say. You have romantic love. Tell me again why it doesn’t matter that I don’t.”

You’re right. I have no right to speak for single people. But just as I identify to some extent with widowers, I identify to some extent with single people. I know what it’s like to want someone to call your own and who calls you his own, and to know that you may never have that (male) someone. Two big differences: 1. Again, this is my choice; I’ve chosen not to have that male someone. 2. I do have someone to call my own and who calls me her own. And she's probably the best someone I could ever hope for.

This is what I’m trying to say: Because life is life, I experience pain. But it makes me happy and takes away the pain’s sting to love and be loved by Foxy J. It also makes me happy and takes away the pain’s sting to love and be loved by Tolkien Boy and Melyngoch and editorgirl and [insert your name here]. I hope that, whether you have romantic love in your life or not, it makes you happy and takes away your pain’s sting to love and be loved by me.

Not An Urban Legend

Exhibit A: Package received in the mail at the Fobcave
Exhibit B: Cryptic note attached to back of package
Exhibit C: "Projector Pop," the only contents of package
Exhibit D: Image produced by pointing "Projector Pop" at wall and "press[ing] here"I don't know about you, but I certainly feel safer now.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Caramel Chocolates: A Parable

A couple weeks ago, Master Fob was at Smith's picking out some chocolate hearts to buy for Foxy J. There were many options: plain chocolate hearts, chocolate hearts with nuts, white chocolate hearts, and chocolate hearts filled with caramel. Master Fob spent quite some time deliberating. Everybody loves chocolate, but just plain chocolate can be boring. Foxy J likes nuts, but Master Fob is not a big fan, and let's face it, he was buying these chocolates as much for himself as for Foxy (in his defense, he had previously bought her candy Sweethearts, which he detests). Master Fob feels similarly about white chocolate, and he's not too sure how Foxy feels about it, but he loves caramel-filled chocolate and as far as he knows so does Foxy, so ultimately he opted for the caramel. (His decision was also influenced by the mysterious elderly woman--who may or may not have been one of the Three Nephites* in disguise--who told him to get the caramel.)

So Master Fob picked up the caramel-filled chocolate hearts, turned around, and bumped into a man who was arguing with another man. "See?" said Man 1. "He got the caramel ones." Man 1 turned to Master Fob. "You're happy, aren't you?"

"Um," said Master Fob, "yeah, I guess."

"See?" Man 1 said to Man 2. "He's happy. You would be happy too, if you would buy the caramel ones."

Master Fob smiled awkwardly, stepped around the arguing men, and headed for the cash register. He got in line at the register, and the middle-aged woman in front of him quickly hid a bag of white chocolate hearts under her bananas. She flashed a toothy smile, then turned away and avoided looking at Master Fob the rest of the time they were in line. The woman paid for her groceries and scampered away with one final guilty glance back at Master Fob.

While the cashier scanned in Master Fob's caramel-filled chocolate hearts, she stared at him from behind her thick black-rimmed glasses. "I bet you'll think I'm a real loser," she said. She cupped her mouth and dropped her voice to a whisper. "I eat the plain chocolate ones."

Master Fob furrowed his brow, paid for his caramel-filled chocolate hearts, and went on.

Not three feet from the checkout stand, he was stopped by a large man with dissheveled blond hair. The man pointed at Master Fob's caramel-filled chocolate hearts. "Don't judge me, man," the man said. "Just don't judge me, okay? You don't know, man. You don't know what it's like to be allergic to caramel."

"Oh," said Master Fob. "I'm not--I mean--I--uh--I'm sorry."

The man pulled at Master Fob's shirt. "What do you expect me to do, man? I'm allergic, okay? Allergic!" The man slumped down to his knees, still holding Master Fob's shirt in his fists. Tears flowed down his cheeks now, and he used Master Fob's shirt to blow his nose.

Master Fob looked around for help, but saw no one. He gently pulled his shirt away from the man's grasp and left him there sobbing about his allergy to caramel.

Just as Master Fob walked out the exit, thinking he was safe, he was confronted by a green-haired teenager. "Dude!" the kid said, pointing to the caramel-filled chocolate hearts in Master Fob's hand. "You got the caramel ones!"

"Yes!" Master Fob yelled. He'd had enough. "I got the caramel ones, but I don't give a damn what kind of chocolates you get! Just eat whatever kind of chocolate you want and leave me the hell alone!"

"Dude," the green-haired kid said. "I was just gonna say those are my favorites."

The End.

*Apologies to my non-Mormon readers for the inside joke.

Friday, February 10, 2006

An Ode To The Big O

Inspired by Lady Steed's mom's friend.

Big O, Big O, Big O W
Do you know your first two initials spell ow?
Big O, Big O, Big O W
Do you know why your mom's name is Lady Steed?

(I don't think this'll be a rhyming poem.)

Big O, do you know
That S-Boogie calls overalls you?
Big O, do you know
That S-Boogie has your rock?

(She'll give it back when you marry her.)

Big O, do you know
That your dad likes to rant and rave about body mutilation even though he clarifies that he is not comparing male circumcision to female circumcision?
Big O, do you know
That you will probably never have a body piercing of any sort, at least until you are eighteen?

(Perhaps you can give S-Boogie another gray rock instead of a diamond when you propose.)

Okay, I will admit, it is not sweet. But it's avant garde and post-postmodern, which surely the Big O will appreciate.

An Ode To Fob

Inspired by editorgirl's implication that one poem does not qualify me to read in the Association for Mormon Letters' Poets of the Future presentation (where editorgirl will be reading), and by editorgirl's thing of late for meaningless but nice-sounding language poetry, and by my love for Fob, the greatest people on the planet.

Fob, fob, fibby fob fob
A fobby fob fob in your fob with a fob
I fobbed your fobby fob with a fob fob fob
While fobbing a fob with a fob fibby fob.

Who fobs?
I fob you fob he she it fobs
We fob you fob they fob
Thou fobst
Ye fob
On a fobby fob fob fob.

Go fob
whoa fob
no fob?
No fobbing fob!

Last fob I fobbed a fobbled fob of fobbled fobbers
And they fobbed back.
And now I fob till the fob
When we fob again.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dates I'm Looking Forward To

Feb. 14: Timeless by Sergio Mendes comes out. It's not that I'm a huge fan of Sergio Mendes; in fact, I can't say I ever heard of him before a few weeks ago. But his album is crazy packed with wicked cool guest artists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, John Legend, the Black Eyed Peas, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, and Black Thought of the Roots. And I really like the idea of mixing samba with hip-hop and soul. And I'm in love with "Yes, Yes, Y'all."

Mar. 3: Dave Chappelle's Block Party hits theaters. This is a documentary of Chappelle's secret party held in November of 2004, made by Michel Gondry and featuring the Roots, Erykah, Jill, Kanye, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, and the Fugees. This was the first time in eight years the Fugees had been together. If you know me then you know that's reason enough for me to be in line at the ticket booth, even if the film didn't feature seven other favorite artists of mine, plus Dave Chappelle, who's a funny guy.

Mar. 14: Soundtrack to above hits stores.

Sometime this year: The Fugees, who have just finished their European reunion tour and have been performing together for Verizon- and Grammys- and Superbowl-related shows, will put out a new album, a decade after The Score. Hopefully sooner than later.

Oh, and I guess I'm also excited about starting school again in September (assuming I get accepted somewhere) and the birth of my second child in June or something.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Name That Celebrity

S-Boogie or Erykah Badu?
Foxy J or Dolly Parton?
Master Fob or Third Mango?


When I was about fifteen, I spent the summer with my dad in Wisconsin. He traveled a lot for his job, and took me along on several of his trips. It was nice to exercise my newly acquired driving skills on the wide, long roads of Wisconsin when it was my turn to drive, and it was good to get to know my dad and see his life.

One subject I generally avoided talking about with my dad was The Divorce. I already had my version of the narrative, and in that story he was the villain, which made it an uncomfortable topic. It had occurred to me, though, that he was likely not the villain in his version of the narrative, so I was curious to see how that story went. Tentatively, I asked him on one of those long road trips about his thoughts on The Divorce.

He seemed hesitant to say too much. "Marriage is complicated," he told me. "Sometimes divorce is inevitable."

In my adolescent self-righteous view of the world, I couldn't understand why divorce would ever be inevitable. It was a Bad Thing, and hence only Bad People would choose to do it. "It's avoidable if you put some effort into it," I muttered, or perhaps only thought, because I'm passive-aggressive that way.

"You'll understand when you get married," he assured me.

That annoyed me. I assumed he was telling me that I would make the same mistakes he did, that my marriage(s) would inevitably end in divorce.

I was wrong. He avoided explaining in detail his reasons for divorcing my mother because he didn't want to make her the villain. Not that she is the villain in his version of the story--because she's not--but he recognized that to a fifteen-year-old who only saw black and white, it would seem that that was his intention. Rather than say anything that could be perceived as badmouthing my mom, then, he avoided the question by telling me I'd understand when I was older.

As you can tell, I managed to misperceive his intentions anyway. I'm talented like that.

I just finished reading Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce by Elizabeth Marquardt. This book reports Marquardt's study of 1500 adults between the ages of 18 and 35 who, like herself, grew up as children of divorced parents. The focus of her argument is that, even among those who grow up in "good divorces" and end up being successful adults, children whose parents divorce are forced to deal with all sorts of inner conflict and emotional stress that they are not prepared to deal with, and this experience scars them permanently.

I have an ambivalent relationship with this book. In the first place, I'm not unbiased on the issue in any sense. On the one hand, my parents are divorced and I don't want to portray either of them in a negative light or make them (or anyone else) feel like they are to blame for whatever problems I have. Then on the other hand, I am in a marriage which is statistically even more likely to end in divorce than most, and I don't want to send the message to my wife, my children, or anyone else that I take divorce or its consequences lightly or that I'm looking for a way to justify it. So I'm caught between wanting to tell Elizabeth Marquardt that she's making a big deal of nothing, that, hey, look at me, my parents divorced but I'm okay, and wanting to applaud her for recognizing that divorce is a horrible, ugly thing that I would never ever want to inflict on my children.

In the second place, my biases aside (or as aside as they'll ever be), Marquardt's valid points are weakened by her faulty logic. For instance, she points out that children of divorce are forced to grow up too quickly because they have to worry about their parents and they have to reconcile two opposing worlds that it should be the parents' responsibility to reconcile. I identify with this sentiment: I spent far too much of my youth concerning myself with my mother's emotional wellbeing; I had to decide who, between my parents, was right or wrong, bad or good, and I often made overly simplistic decisions because I wasn't mature enough to understand adult things like love and sex and finances and religion; outwardly I was the perfect young man, wise and obedient, but the apparent wisdom came from being forced to understand things I wasn't ready to understand and the apparent obedience came from my fear of further complicating anyone's life by being disobedient. As Svoid pointed out when I was discussing this with him, though, Marquardt is assuming that forcing children to grow up quickly is a bad thing, and it's not necessarily. I value the independence I developed as a result of knowing I couldn't completely depend on my parents, and I value my ability to see the world from different perspectives that I developed in my attempt to love and understand two parents who seemed so radically opposed.

Throughout the book Marquardt talks about negative effects of divorce on children, some of which I identified with and others I did not. She follows a pattern of first citing a statistic from her study, such as "more than half of young adults from divorced families, compared to just a fifth of people from intact families agree, 'What my mother said was true and what my father said was true were often two different things'"; then she elaborates on specific examples from the people she interviewed; then she makes some kind of generalized, conclusive statement like "As children of divorce, we tried to adapt to our parents' different worlds. We confronted their different truths and felt it was up to us to make sense of the contradictions." Well yes, that's true of "more than half" of us, but what about the rest? In almost every case she talks about a portion of children of divorce--usually ranging from a third to two thirds--as if they represent all children of divorce. I suspect that she's completely ignoring a significant portion of the 1500 people she surveyed who identified with none of the negative effects she asked them about, who were basically happy children regardless of their parents' marital status. The fact that forty percent of children of divorce feel like they were a different person with each of their parents does not mean that I felt that way, any more than the fact that ninety-five percent (pulling a number out of thin air but it's probably fairly accurate) of mixed-orientation marriages end in divorce means that mine will. Statistics ultimately are useful only in talking about large groups of people, not individuals.

I think if I had read this book ten years ago when I saw myself--and wanted everyone else to see me--as a victim, I would have loved it. Marquardt is the voice of every angsty, pissed-off child of divorce who is dying to say, "Hey, look at me! My life sucks!" And really, I can see the purpose in validating that feeling, especially for a group of people who so often as children felt we had to ignore our feelings in favor of our parents' feelings. But, as the wise Weed said last night, "All families are wack." Everybody has parts of his or her childhood that sucked and parts that didn't suck. Perhaps there are specific ways of sucking that many children of divorce share in common, but dwelling on those only serves us to a limited extent.

To be fair to Marquardt, her purpose is not only to gripe. She says explicitly that she does not intend to make divorced parents feel bad for divorcing, nor to say that divorce is always a bad thing. She recognizes that for some people divorce is the best option, but she wants parents in salvageable marriages to realize that divorce will affect their children. She wants to discredit what she sees as a common misperception, that there is no difference between growing up in a "good divorce" and growing up in a unified family.

When it comes down to it, I believe there are marriages that should end in divorce. Some marriages, I would go so far as to say, should have never happened in the first place. It's not my job or my right, though, to decide who should work to save their marriage and who should not. The only marriage I'm responsible for is my own. I don't think people who divorce are horrible parents, nor do I resent my parents for divorcing. I don't need to resent or judge anybody in order to agree, as they apply to me, with Marquardt's closing lines:
[It's] not enough to love our children. As hard as I know it can be, we parents must also do our best to love and forgive each other, every day. We do this so that our children can have what so many of us did not have--a mother and father at home, stability and wholeness as well as love. We do this so that we can sustain unbroken families that last a lifetime, not just for the sake of our own happiness, but for theirs.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Lil' Assassins in Training

S-Boogie attended her first Pee Wee Ninjas class on Thursday. She had a lot of fun. This week they taught the kids proper neck-breaking technique. Next week it'll be stealthy breaking and entering, and I'm pretty sure the week after that is throwing stars and nunchuks. I'm a little worried that the final week of the course they'll teach the kids seppuku; S-Boogie's already demonstrated disturbingly suicidal tendencies, between the venetian blind cords and getting into the laundry detergent and jumping off tall objects.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Master Speaketh:

I have decided to post a few thoughts in response to the previous thread's heated debate here, rather than in the comments section, because I can. Lest you who are weary of contention worry, though, I have no intention of continuing the fight here. If you want to add to the rants for or against circumcision, you may do so in the comment section for yesterday's post. So:

1. I did suspect that even the mere mention of snip-snipping would spark controversy, but I was curious to see what people had to say. I must admit, I was surprised by a few of the passionate responses, particularly from a few people who, when I've asked them before about their feelings on circumcision, said with a shrug something like, "Oh, well, I'm not circumcised so I probably won't circumcise my son." Nor did I expect such--ahem--explicit reasoning from those people. And by "people," of course, I mean Th.

2. Don't expect me to announce our decision on either the naming or the snip-snipping here. The latter because I'm not ready to be crucified by whichever side we choose to ignore, and the former because once Baby Fob becomes a real person anonymity will be of utmost importance, which is why Foxy J never ever uses S-Boogie's real name on her blog and why I would never ever link here to an article with my real name on it.

3. Neither Foxy nor I has any Hawaiian ancestry, but I grew up in Hawaii and my family still lives there and there's a chance Foxy and I will someday and our children have many brown cousins with whom they have to compete for native authenticity. Hence the Hawaiian middle names.

4. I am aware that "fear of God" in scripture-speak is not the same as our usual definition of fear. The LDS Bible Dictionary, in fact, defines Timothy as "honored by God" or something. However, I suspect that etymologically we're talking about the same word here--I don't speak Latin but I know in Spanish temer means "to fear," hence Timo "fear" and teo "God." I like the Timothy scripture because it plays on both positive and negative connotations of fear and because it is in Paul's epistle to Timothy. I do like Edgy's Jeremiah scripture and reasoning for Ephraim, though.

5. While I am not particularly concerned about future comparisons to myself or his peers, I do worry about being able to teach Baby Fob adequate foreskin hygiene. And while I have pointed out to Th. that there are aesthetic concerns whether he recognizes them or not, I'm not sure my personal penile aesthetic preference is a good reason to snip.

6. I'm not going to touch (no pun intended) the sinfulness (or not) of masturbation here. If anyone wants to on your own blog, you're welcome to.

7. I'm sure Filob will be disappointed that no one voted for Ruttiger.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Vote 2006

  • Timothy
  • Ephraim
  • Thomas
  • Theodore
  • Enoch
  • Christian (you may only vote for this one if you know our real last name)
  • Ruttiger
  • Other (please specify and include a 200-word essay explaining your choice)

Hm... Perhaps we should go with a combination of the above: Tettecro!

Not to sway your vote, but a bit of background information:

We chose S-Boogie's full name (S-Boogie Noelani Fob) with a scripture in mind--"[...] and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). S-Boogie means "wisdom," and Noelani means "heavenly mist."

Similarly, there is a scripture and Hawaiian name to go with Timothy, which means "fear of God"--"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). His middle name would be either Wiwo'ole, which is what the Hawaiian Bible uses to translate "power" in this verse (it also means "fearless," "brave," or "bold"), or Makoa, which means "fearless," "courageous," or "agressive."

Again, I'm not trying to tell you that there's a right answer or that all the other choices are stupid or that you should vote for my first choice in order to convince Foxy J that it is the one true name for our child, but I just wanted you to know that none of the other names have a really cool scripture or Hawaiian name to go with them.

And while you're voting, snip-snip or no snip-snip?

Goal Report 1

As promised, I'm reporting on my goal progress. (And, incidentally, Foxy's goal progress, but I'm sure she won't mind.) I don't do this because I pretend you care, but because this provides added motivation to do what I said I would. Foxy and I figured out a while ago that goals work best when we break them down into small, specific chunks, and keep track of them in a public place--we hang this sheet on our fridge for all our visitors to mock.

Notice the goal I do most consistently is going to the gym. It helps that I have several motivations: in addition to keeping the goal for the goal's sake, I have Tolkien Boy and Sethillama expecting me to meet them at the gym at least two of the three times a week I need to go, I have the Spring Into Fitness program at work encouraging me with the promise of Mall Bucks, and, perhaps the strongest motivator of all, I am vain. I don't mean that I suffer from delusions of buffness or even general attractiveness, but that I really want to be buff and attractive and I'm hyperaware of my physical strengths and flaws. And working out makes me feel good, both physically and emotionally.

I should clarify that I don't count blogging toward my writing goal and I don't count comic books toward my reading goal, nor do I think 15 minutes a day is an ideal amount of time to spend on either, but it's a good bare minimum to start with. On the days I manage to do 15 minutes I often end up doing more. The number of days I don't even get that 15 in is pitifully high. I hang my head in shame. I am happy to report, though, that I've nearly completed reading my second book of the year and February has barely started, so I'm ahead of my book-a-month goal.

You'll notice neither Foxy or I am very good at getting in bed by 10:30. Oh well.

On the other hand, we're doing pretty well on our Spice goals. Spice, of course, being the plural of spouse, not a reference to the porn channel of the same name.

S-Boogie, also, is doing a good job of reading more than twenty minutes a day (not counting naptime and bedtime reading) and getting on-the-floor interactive playing time with each of her parents.

As for Goal V, I decided it would be weird to quantify and report, but I've been making a decent effort, I think.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Unto Us A Man Child Will Be Born

If I had a scanner I'd show you the ultrasound printout, but I think we ought to wait until we have space to put it before we get a scanner.

On the way down to the doctor's office we listened to Lauryn Hill sing:
Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
As it turns out, that was a good omen. When SkyeJ did a free sneak-peek ultrasound a month ago and was pretty sure it was a girl, to be honest I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong--I'm not one of those guys who only wants sons--but we already have S-Boogie and I figured it was time to have a boy. And the Chinese gender calendar had told us it was a boy, so I was beginning to lose faith. But eventually I got used to the idea of having another girl, so it was a surprise today when the nurse pointed to a very obvious boy part and typed on the screen, "BOY." It's like finding out all over again that we're having a baby, because this is not the baby that I've been expecting for the last month. I feel giddy. I should have had more faith in the Chinese gender calendar; it hasn't failed us yet.

Now we need to decide on a name, as Phoebe won't work so well anymore.


Pointy? Pointful? I suppose the obvious choice is pointed, but I hate to go with the obvious.

The follow-up to Monday's experiment went splendidly. In my first class, at least. I asked them first why we had watched clips from The Incredibles a few weeks ago (another great eg idea). We had a good talk about how that demonstrated the idea of revision, of scrapping a good idea for one that works better in the context of the whole. I asked them why we watched an episode of The Simpsons a week or so ago. We talked about how that got us in the mode of analysis, of determining things like audience and purpose and genre. Then I asked them why we listened to "The Last Trumpet" on Monday. They came up with all sorts of plausible theories, like I wanted them to recognize how music sells values, or that I wanted them to recognize that sometimes messages are hidden beneath multiple layers, or that I wanted them to think about who Lyrics Born's audience is, or that I just wanted to kill time while I stapled. Then I asked why they had such a hard time determining what the purpose was, and they said that it was because I didn't tell them, because I didn't give them any context. And then one guy raised his hand and said, "Were you trying to show that if we don't explain things to our readers then we confuse them?" At which point I gave him a big hug and a kiss. Okay, it was more like a finger point and a click of the tongue, but either way I was happy he figured it out.

The second class responded to all my questions with silence. They apparently assume everything I do is to kill time.

Damn it, they've figured me out.