Monday, January 30, 2012

That Ol'Spark

It wasn't too long ago that I was preaching against "THE SPARK". I mocked it. I looked at it with complete disdain. Too many times, I have seen roommates and friends cry over lost opportunities because a guy just didn't feel it. Even more, too many times, I have seen my friends take a perfectly nice, attractive, sweet, generous, thoughtful guy and turn their noses up at them because there just wasn't a spark.

"GIVE THEM A CHANCE!" I would cry, hoping to persuade my friends how little a spark mattered. Didn't they know that guys that are nice, thoughtful and sweet are hard to come by -- ESPECIALLY if he is actively pursuing! Why would you throw that away over some mythical spark?!!

Whether the spark is a myth or not, I guess I cannot really say. But, I now understand why so many people are out looking for it and how it feels to be pursued by someone where you just don't feel.....anything. There has to be chemistry between two people. I'm not saying the instant chemistry where you catch each others' eye for the first time and like animal magnetism, you throw each other against the wall and start making out. I'm talking about a connection between two people that can't be explained, but that exists because on some level, the two of you understand one another in a way that others don't get. Attraction and chemistry aren't the same thing, because I know believe that, while someone can become more or less attractive based on different criteria (personality, sense of humor, wealth, talents, kindness, etc.) chemistry cannot be created where there is none.

I cannot pinpoint a single reason why the necessary oxygen needed to create that tiny spark did not exist. It seemed to have all the right elements. And yet...nothing. The chemistry just wasn't there, and I have the validation. We went on a double date with my roommate, and the lack of chemistry, the lack of a spark, was tangible. It was so obvious to everyone...Except him?

I have no answers. I don't know why I didn't feel anything for this perfectly likeable guy. I know that after five dates, I felt like I had put in enough time to see if I was wrong. And I think that he finally realized it too.

I have new convictions, now. You will not hear me preach against the spark anymore. You will not see me try to convince someone to create chemistry where there is none.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Read Between the Lines

Remember how once upon a time, I got roped into an online dating website with a required six month subscription (!) that every once and a while, for curiosity's sake, I get on and see what's going on? Tonight was just such a night that I logged on and immediately some dude starts talking to me.

Now, this isn't the first time said dude has started a conversation with me, but he couldn't remember. "Have I talked to you before?" He asked.

I must be very memorable.

Anyway, I told him that he had and he asked me what was "new", so I told him that I started a new workout regime, that I'm only two weeks in and he's like, "Ooooh. Can I see your new bod?"

Um, sir? It's been two weeks. I'm just lucky that I'm back to my starting weight from before the holidays.

Then after a few moments of silence (I was tinkering away with my new webcam, largely ignoring the chat window, but not wanting to be rude and just sign out), he sends me this little invitation:
"Want to come over watch a movie and snuggle? I'm cold."
"Er...actually, I'm about to go hit the showers and then go to bed."
"We can just watch a movie and fall asleep to it."
"That doesn't seem very responsible. I have work in the morning."
"I'm sure we won't be awake for long. I promise I won't try to kiss you or anything."
"That seems silly. You're so far away, and my bed it like, 3 ft. away from me."
"Where do you live again? I'm in Provo, too."

..."I think you should probably just read between the lines and see that I'm trying to say "NO THANKS.""


*Internal sigh*

"Not rude. Honest. G'Night." 

Only 39 more days, and I am done with this subscription. Thank goodness.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sundance Film Festival

I've lived in Utah for the past seven years, and have never entertained the idea of going up to the Sundance Film Festival for more than a few seconds. But my roommate, Bethany, mentioned that we should go, and I decided it was time to see what it was all about -- and to see if I could scope out any famous people.

We stopped just inside Park City to go to the Loco Lizard restaurant where I had enjoyed some delicious enchiladas a long time ago. I discovered that my memory deceived me, and it wasn't nearly as good as I remembered; however, the service was excellent! Phil, a cool, black guy from New York, was our waiter who liked to poke fun at us while he quickly filled up our drinks and got us our food. We might have left behind a phone number, and that was after we joked about staying at his house tonight because the weather took a turn for the worst and began dumping buckets of snow on us.

Leaving Phil behind, we switched on Bethany's four-wheel drive (thank Goodness she drove!) and headed towards Main Street in Park City. We found prime (read: free) parking from a guy with a grizzly-deepest-voice-you-ever-heard, and hopped on the shuttle.

Sometimes I like taking public transportation. You never know what you are going to find. In this case, it was a bunch of local teenagers using swear words and joking with the middle aged ladies from Denver about getting them to buy them alcohol.

Once we reached Main Street, we headed up the hill, avoiding the small river as the melted snow and slush flowed past us, and did a little window shopping and people watching. While I was lamenting the fact that I didn't buy the waterproof snow boots that I carried around in the store for 30 minutes before putting them back, girls were wearing heels and skirts that barely covered their assets and all sorts of crazy things that are totally inappropriate for a winter festival in the mountains.

One guy who probably thought he was dressing appropriately for the winter was walking around in boots similar to this:

There were way too many smokers, huddling outside the doors and it wasn't the first time that I wished that  I carried the gumption to pass out cards that says, "You are much too attractive to be smoking." Other highlights included a drunk girl puking her guts out over a hand rail. There was some security guards carding people trying to get in to the parties. There were no celebrities. One guy was really nice to offer to take our picture for us.
Not only did he offer to take the photo, but he took two pictures, had us change locations for better lighting and a better view, and then asked us to approve the picture before he walked away. It was really nice, and really awesome.

We walked as far up as we could, crossed the street (not really able to avoid the small ponds that were everywhere), and headed back down Main Street. We walked through a few art galleries, which were cool. And we stopped in a fur store. Furs are ridiculously expensive, but it was still fun to pet the foxes and chinchillas that once were. I spent most the time wondering why anyone would pay for such things when there was always the chance that some crazy activists would ruin the darn coat with red paint before you had a chance to get your money's worth.

One of the shopkeepers in the store was walking around wearing his fur coat, inviting everyone to, "Pet my beaver." Once upon a time, I wouldn't have picked up on that joke.

One joke I did pick up on, though, was "THE DUKE."

The Duke sat proudly in the window display. We walked in without noticing it, at first, but then we saw the back. I didn't get a picture, but this is a fur jock strap with a tail. Glorious. I can't wait until the next bridal shower I attend. (There was also fur lingerie, so I'm thinking a matching set would really be a great gift!)

We continued to head back down, and saw plenty of people to note. The snow was falling heavier, and the streets were getting slushier. Remembering that we had early church, and not having been invited to attend any of the raucous parties, we decided it was time to head home.

Luckily, Bethany is a great driver in the snow. The roads, up until we got to Heber, were terrible, and there is no way my car would have made it. Next year (or next week, if I can) I want to try and get tickets early enough so that I can actually see a movie. There are also awesome people (DAVID GRAY! Ingrid Michealson. All-American Rejects.) performing up there and I kind of wish I weren't working so I could sluff off and go see them.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Important Lessons for the Gym

After a full week and a half of my new workout regime, I learned two very important lessons of what not to do in just one day.

  1. Never skip a workout.
  2. Do NOT eat Cafe Rio at any time before you hit the gym.
It's just. not. worth. it. I am convinced that just one of these things is going to make the workout that much more difficult; combined, these two things are going to try to kill you.

It didn't help that today's workout was probably the hardest thus far. Between bear crawls and glut-walks and whatever the heck they call all the moves that I really couldn't do, I was dying. The very real possibility of losing my lunch loomed overhead while the fact that my arms were completely stiff from Wednesday definitely didn't add anything good to the experience. It doesn't help, either, that Alaina makes it all look so gosh dang easy! I was really struggling, and Alaina just laughed my complaints away, looming over me as I tried to do all the reps. She's a good trainer because she ignores when I say "I can't" and just waits for me to finish it all.

So... Lesson learned, I guess. Next week will be much better. And I swear I won't complain if we go back to just doing arms, again, because at least I can do all those exercises!

I don't know how little babies do this. It's really hard!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Am a Child of God (and You are, too)

One of the questions asked today in Sunday School was, "How does hearing that you are a Child of God, affect the way you think about yourself and the way you live?"

One of the first songs we are taught in primary is I am a Child of God.
As a member of the Church, by the time you are my age, you have sung this song and heard various versions featuring descants, etc. hundreds of thousands of times. Since everyone knows it, it is the go-to song when you don't have hymnals, or a pianist, when you need a special musical number (like the Relief Society sang today...).

Anyway, back to the question. Usually when a teacher asks a question, I think of an answer regardless of whether or not I intend to share it with the class. My answers immediately turned toward the young woman value of Divine Nature....and then I really began to think.

I recently read an article that talked about why fewer and fewer devout (Evangelical) Christians are waiting for marriage before they start having sex. The author asked if setting that standard for Christian youth was out of date, irrelevant, or pointless and the comments were rather disheartening. It is well-known that the world's standards and morality have had a complete shift toward more baser and carnal instincts. The majority of the comments had an attitude that saving sex for marriage was not only archaic, but stupid and they showed that they have little or no understanding of how sacred sex can be when it preserved to take place between husband and wife.
From the article:
Scot McKnight, author of “The Jesus Creed,” and "One.Faith: Jesus Calls, We Follow," acknowledges that young, single Christians face temptations that their counterparts in the biblical age didn’t face.
He  tells Relevant:
Sociologically speaking, the one big difference – and it’s monstrous – between the biblical teaching and our culture is the arranged marriages of very young people. If you get married when you’re 13, you don’t have 15 years of temptation.
It's through this justification, and many others, that the commenters basically conclude that pastors (and I would say, Bishops) should stop worrying about preaching about chastity. The world is all about instant gratification. As one blogger writes,
 I’m convinced we are a generation that has abandoned the concept of delayed gratification. Everything is instant. I like a song, I download it online. I want to talk to someone, I send a text. I have a thought, I update my status on Twitter. I want to have sex, I call up ol’ boy. We’re so: Think it, want it, get it, got it, next! that sometimes we don’t even stop to consider the consequences of our reckless actions.
There is nothing wrong with temptation. That's part of the tests we face in this life. The purpose of our mortal life is to be tested, and to remember that "There hath no temptation ataken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be btempted above that ye are able; but will with the ctemptation also make a way to descape, that ye may be able to ebear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a beautiful talk called Stay on the High Road  in May 2004 (READ IT!) and said:
To accomplish His plan of happiness, the Great Creator planted within us an instinct that makes boys interested in girls and girls interested in boys. That powerful inclination can lead to beautiful experiences, or it can lead to terribly ugly experiences. As we look out over the world, it seems that morality has been cast aside. The violation of old standards has become common. Studies, one after another, show that there has been an abandonment of time-tested principles. Self-discipline has been forgotten, and promiscuous indulgence has become widespread.
But, my dear friends, we cannot accept that which has become common in the world. Yours, as members of this Church, is a higher standard and more demanding. It declares as a voice from Sinai that thou shalt not indulge. You must keep control of your desires. For you there is no future in any other course. I should modify that to say that the Lord has provided for repentance and forgiveness. Nonetheless, yielding to temptation can become like a wound that seems never to heal and always to leave an ugly scar. 
Shortly after I read the first article, I was having a discussion with my mom about Troy High School's forthcoming midwinter dance. In an effort to clean up the school dances, THS put out a form that each student had to sign before purchasing tickets. This came in the wake of the fact that during the homecoming dance, very immoral, very disturbing things were happening. Instead of an innocent high school dance (which, let's be honest, how many high school dances are really, truly innocent?) it was a raunch-fest, where girls, sans underwear, wearing incredibly short dresses were bending over, allowing guys to.... anyway, we don't need the images to understand the point. These are CHILDREN! and they were allowed to dance in such a way that is not appropriate for adults. The worst part of this story is that, the kids at the school are now boycotting the midwinter dance because they do not want to be held accountable to these standards. They wish to hold their own dance off of school premises, and their parents are in full support of this behavior -- and I suspect probably more.

I think I have touched a little bit on this before on my blog, but I feel very strongly about it, so I thought I would mention it again -- We need to hold ourselves, (and where applicable) our children and mostly ourselves accountable and to a higher standard then we have been doing! If we do, we prove that these standards are not only relevant, but worthy goals of how to live our lives.

So what does this have to do with being a Child of God?

As I was sitting in Sunday School, I felt firm testimony that knowing my divine heritage and understanding who I am as a daughter of God, helps me to meet the expectations that Heavenly Father has set for me. With the knowledge of my divine nature, I can go forth and set higher standards for myself and meet them, knowing that the Plan of Salvation, the commandments and the Atonement of Jesus Christ were set in place so that I can become more like my Father in Heaven. This is truth. Commandments do not become archaic. They do not become irrelevant. They were not set up for the Israelites, thousands of years ago. We are held accountable, even still. President Hinckley went on in his talk to say:

...I do not wish to be regarded as a killjoy. I do not wish to be thought of as an old man who knows nothing about youth and their problems. I think I do know something about these things, and it is out of my heart and my love that I plead with you to stay on the high road. Create fun with your good friends. Sing and dance, swim and hike, become involved in projects together, and live life with zest and excitement....
....Never assume that you can make it alone. You need the help of the Lord. Never hesitate to get on your knees in some private place and speak with Him. What a marvelous and wonderful thing is prayer. Think of it. We can actually speak with our Father in Heaven. He will hear and respond, but we need to listen to that response. Nothing is too serious and nothing too unimportant to share with Him. He has said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He continues, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).
I know that as Children of God, we are blessed with a marvelous gift of agency to choose right and wrong. We are not just carnal bodies that are doomed to fall into the sins of this world. We have the choice to rise up, to say no, to turn away and choose a different course than those that would give in to temptation. And we must.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Love Unconditional

I found this talk given in 1971 by Marion D. Hanks, that I think, has never been more relevant. (I think if you click the title of this post, it will take you to the full talk.)

I hope that you read it.

I think it was given to the priesthood of the church during general conference, but I could be mistaken. Either way, it's supposed to be about how to help the young generation of the Church. Again, this was given in 1971, which means that the young people then were my parents and aunts and uncles.

I think it is closer to what we all need in this life.
In my hand I hold a letter received two days ago from a faithful, brokenhearted father whose son, about the same age as the others, took his own life, notwithstanding the efforts of loving parents and a fine, wholesome family. I wish there were time to read a description of how hard these marvelous parents have tried. This is a missionary family, a committed family, a stay-together family; yet this boy, convinced of his own worthlessness, that he was a failure and that the mistakes he had made were disqualifying, took his own life. His father sent a copy of the note he left, and asked me to make such use of his letter and this letter as judgment and my feelings suggested.
What can we do? How can we help this great young generation meet the challenges of their time? I am certain that we must thoughtfully examine not only their needs and their problems, and what we have to give them, but how we undertake to give it, and what we appear to them to be as they observe it. I have been rethinking my own experience and will give you just an example or two quickly. May I do it in the spirit of a statement that to me for a long time has been very choice: “Neither laugh nor weep, nor loathe, but understand.”
What are some of their problems? These basic observations have come from experience with youth and from their own lips and lives. I can sum them up in four or five needs.
First, they need faith. They need to believe. They need to know the doctrines, the commandments, the principles of the gospel. They need to grow in understanding and conviction. They need to worship and to pray, but they live in a time when all of this is so seriously questioned, when doubt is encouraged.
Two, they need to be accepted as they are, and to be included. They need a family, the most important social unit in this world; and even if they have a good family, they need the supportive influence outside their home of others, of neighbors, of friends, of bishops, of brothers, of human beings.
Three, they need to be actively involved, to participate, to give service, to give of themselves.
Four, they have to learn somehow that they are more important than their mistakes; that they are worthwhile, valuable, useful; that they are loved unconditionally.
....This life doesn’t give one very many chances to feel exultant and a little successful... We cannot, my dear brethren, condition our love by a beard or beads or habits or strange viewpoints. There have to be standards and they must be enforced, but our love must be unconditional.
I read you just a sentence from the letter left by the boy who ended his own life: “I have no hope, only dreams that have died. I was never able to obtain satisfactory interpersonal relationships. I feared the future and a lot of other things. I felt inferior. I have almost no will to achieve, perseverance, or sense of worth, so goodbye. I should have listened to you but I didn’t. I started using acid last summer. It’s purgatory.” What a tragic story!
We need to understand their needs. They need to learn the gospel. They need to be accepted, to be involved, to be loved; and they need, my brethren—my fifth and final point—the example of good men, good parents, good people, who really care.

Unconditional Love

I've been thinking about unconditional love today. It's kind of a deep topic (in my head) and not one that I wanted to blog about. I am.

There are only two people that I think are capable of true, unconditional love. Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. They're the only people because they are perfect and have shown over and over again how each of us is loved. Through evidence of the Atonement; and other daily evidences in my life, I know that regardless of the mistakes I make and things I do and say, they love me.

I used to think that the love that parents have for their children are unconditional. I still think so, on some levels. But there are certainly some messed up people in the world that proves that while this may be a general rule, there are definitely some exceptions. I think my parents love me unconditionally, but I have never actually  pushed boundaries and done things that would cause a parent to question whether they love me. Then again, there are some evidences from other dynamics in the family that show that they do, indeed, love their children unconditionally, even though some of the most trying of times.

But what I've really been thinking about, is my ability to love unconditionally. I thought I could. That I did. But then, things happen and I have been wondering, what happens when I think that I love someone unconditionally, only to find they break an unknown condition? I never thought I would be the one to say, Now that you've done this or you can't (or won't) do this, I can't love you.

I guess it's not really that I don't love that person anymore. But, respect and the ability to confide in that person suddenly disappears. It's hard to like someone that you don't respect, even if you know that you love them deep down. Disappointment is something that can really drive a wedge in a relationship. And I don't know how to get over it. I think that's why know that Father in Heaven loves me unconditionally. I don't believe that He gets disappointed. It's such a human emotion, and it leads to unkind feelings, anger and resentment. God is above that. He feels compassion and love.

I don't know if I can rise above human emotions to be more like God. I don't know how to forget hurt and disappointment completely to allow for these conditions that I have set up -- unknowingly or not -- and what to do when they've been broken. But I do know that people deserve unconditional love. So it's something I have to work on.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Street Taco

On Saturday, despite my delicate health (I've had a head cold for the better part of a week) I let some guy take me to a taco stand located in Sandy. It's about a block or two south of Hooter's, and behind a saloon. Since my companion for the evening was Mexican, and he was the one who discovered the place -- and had been raving about it for almost a month -- I told him that I wanted him to order for me. He seemed nervous, afraid that I wouldn't like what he ordered or that I had a weak stomach and couldn't handle some of the more interesting choices.

He ordered everything in Spanish, so I only caught the few familiar words and made sure I didn't hear things like lengua or cabeza. He ordered one beef taco and one buche. I happily ate both, after loading up the meat and tortilla with an onion and cilantro mix, a few vinegar soaked carrots and experimenting with the different salsas/sauces. And then I wanted to know what I was eating. He didn't want to tell me what the buche was, afraid that I would be too disgusted to continue.

Buche is the stomach. He says, of a cow. The internet says of a pig. Either way, it's stomach.

It tasted delicious.

He asked if I was ready for Round 2, which, I was surprised that we were going on to Round 2 and he seemed disgusted that I should hint at the fact that I would be satisfied with only two of these delicious tacos. He was smart and ordered me the spicy pork and a barbacoa. Again, I played with the sauces and topped them with the onions and cilantro, and yup, they were also delicious.

For the grand finale, he tried to talk me out of one of his favorites. "Most people can't get over the texture," he told me. I promised him that it probably wouldn't bother me. "It's spicy," he said. I told him I liked spicy. I asked him what it was, but he refused to tell me. I reminded him how I didn't turn up my nose at the buche and that he should realize that I just like tasty things. He ordered me one chicharrĂ³n taco.

I didn't add any sauces, because he told me that there was plenty of flavor and I didn't need to add any more spice. So I put some cabbage and a little more onions and cilantro and tried it.

I can see why most people would not enjoy the texture. Chewing on slugs does not sound appealing, but if you can get over that aspect then it's delicious. The flavor is really, really good.

Still, he wouldn't tell me what I was eating, so I tried to guess. Eyeballs? No. Brains? No. Other innards? No. He hinted that it might be on the outside and I thought we were talking cows... Udders? No!

Hmmm..... cajones?

No. Those are called something else and are not tasty at all.

Finally, as I finished the taco, he told me: boiled pig skin.

I wanted to be grossed out. I really did. But it was a good taco and I couldn't really bring myself to be too disgusted by it. He explained that at least what I was eating was clean. In order to be able to eat the skin, it had to be boiled for a really, really long time. Then it was cooked again.

He told me that he was impressed that I was so willing to try things, and actually liked it. I summed it up: I like good food.

I recommend this shady little taco stand, where tacos are only $1, and the girl that sells them is really friendly. She told me that I needed to come back when I was actually hungry so that I could try the whole menu. Apparently, five tacos is nothing.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Another Hollywood Divorce Makes Me Think

Since California's Proposition 8 several years ago, and then with the passing of legalizing gay marriage in New York, etc. there has been a lot talk about the whether or not marriage is "a white person thing" or if it is an antiquated ritual, or whatever.

A lot of the arguments against gay marriage is that we want to preserve the sanctity of marriage as was given to us by God -- a covenant made between a man and a woman. That's why the Church speaks out against gay marriage. But I read somewhere an article saying that if we want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, we shouldn't be fighting against gay marriage, but no-fault divorces.

The more I've thought about it, the more I agree.

As a society, we've taken the sacredness -- the binding contract that is supposed to last until "death do us part" (or eternity, if sealed in the temple) -- and made it so easy to get out of. There is no preservation of marriage if people can get married for 72 days, decide it's harder than expected or not the fairy tale wanted, and call it quits. How can you say that you've tried, in a little over a month?

I think that all divorce courts should ban no-fault divorces for at least a year, and see what happens. If there is abuse, if there is cheating... please, get out! But, if you are just sick of trying, or whatever number of selfish reasons you are looking for a way out, I think that taking a year (or two or three) to work on the marriage would do it a lot of good and maybe you would realize that you didn't want the divorce after all.

I've had several friends tell me that the first three years of their marriages were the hardest ever and that they were on the brink of divorce at least once during that time. I've had another friend tell me four years into her marriage, that she finally remembered why she had married her husband, because for the past two years she basically hated him. All of them were committed enough to stick it through the rough patches and are now stronger than ever.

I feel like I already blogged about this, and it turns out I did, sort of, here.

One guy in the class talked about his job where he basically enforces contracts. He told us how people call wanting to cancel their contract, all the time, thinking that it's no big deal. And that's the world we live in. People sign a housing contract, a phone contract or a marriage contract, thinking that if things get too tough, or if they find something better, or if they just don't want to do/try/etc. anymore, they can just walk away. 

This all comes out as Kim Kardashian, just two months after her ostentatious wedding, filed for divorce from her husband. Two months is short even for Hollywood standards, and I think that it is just plain ridiculous. Marriage is supposed to be a life long commitment, at least. I guess since no one knows what a commitment is anymore, I shouldn't be surprised, but it makes me sick that because some rough patch (and if it is the stress of "not cutting it on the TV show" or whatever thing that is clearly self-inflicted through selfishness) comes up, it's time to quit. No. It's not time to quit. You work through it. You see counselors. You remember why you agreed to the commitment in the first place. You don't quit. You don't throw your hands up and say, "This is hard! I'm through!" You do the honorable thing, because “Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences.” 
But now I'm thinking about Katy Perry and Russell Brand, who like Kim, got married in a private but elaborate wedding, and a year later, are calling it quits. For some inexplicable reason, I'm actually bummed about this. Maybe it's because I've recently jumped on the Katy Perry fan boat, despite my protestations and efforts not to, or maybe it's because I thought they were so quirky and happy that I just expected them to work.

I don't know why people in Hollywood even bother anymore.

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