30 December, 2008

Why Are so Many of Us Obsessed with Twilight?, Or: Why People Read Books

Warning: This post comes as close to PG-13 as I've ever been. It's not explicit, but may be too frank for some.
Warning II: Twilight spoilers ahead (duh).


In order to discover why people (mostly women, but some men also) are so obsessed with Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series, we must first look at why people get obsessed with romances and books in general.

So what is it about a book, that can draw someone in? Even books that are not well written?

Remember these?

Basically, something intriguing happens, and attracts your attention. You begin reading (or watching, listening etc.) and tension builds, keeping your attention and engaging your mind and/or emotions. Finally, the tension is paramount, reaches a climax, and then everything winds down to the conclusion.

Now pretend for a moment, that you saw one of those charts up there for the first time (Gardner's for example). Pretend that it was free of words. Follow the line with your finger, inhaling with the upward motion, exhaling with the downward....

Remind you of something?

....Nothing? Really?

It seriously doesn't remind you of anything?

Maybe it's just me.

Think about it....something that, like a story, stems from initial attraction, builds until you thirst for more, climaxes at the best part, and then relaxes, leaving you satisfied but eager for another such encounter.


Just in case anyone is still not sure of my metaphor, let me spell it out. Incentive Moment = Attraction, Rising Action = Foreplay, Continuing Tension = sex, Climax = ....er....Climax, and Denouement (Falling Action) = Cuddling, Sleeping, or whatever (who knows, maybe even a sequel....).

For those of you who have never been obsessed with reading in general...perhaps now you understand how a bookworm is made. Basically....reading is like sex for your brain.

Now don't freak out on me! I'm not saying people like books for sexual reasons, I'm merely comparing two things that seem to follow a similar pattern.

I love books and consume them with an appetite. Everyone has their little pleasures. I imagine your enjoyment follows a similar pattern when you meet a deadline at work, teach a successful lesson, or help someone solve a problem.

For all of you who have done any of these things, you know what it's like to build up to something, enjoy the process, have the moment of achievement, and then the relaxing euphoria of a job well done.

However, we are human. Euphoria wears off. We have fond memories of accomplishments, but the feelings fade. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to read, problems to solve, people to help, and....well, you get the idea.

Writers have their little tricks to keep tension (and interest) high. Anne Perry, renowned for her Victorian mysteries, skips the Denouement. Almost as soon as the killer is revealed, the action completed, the book ends. There is no gracious explanation by the detective, no revelation on how "elementary" or "the 'leetle' gray cells" saved the day, and certainly no fluffy epilogue to explain which minor characters got married. Instead, you have to wait for the next book (which may or may not mention said minor characters), or figure it out yourself.

Romances, as a genre, have an especially difficult time following dramatic structure in a unique way. The purpose of a romance is (generally) to document a love affair. However, in order to build the proper tension, authors must include stumbling blocks to the two lovers. Many authors, through lack of creativity, ability, or mere interest utilize the same ones over and over again.

There are only so many detours on the path of "true love" : Misunderstanding, Shyness, Anger and Jealousy, Self-Doubt, and Mr. Wrong seem to be the most common.

Many creative, able, and deliberate authors choose to pad their romances with non-romantic plots, allowing those story-lines to incite the tension instead (or in addition). Of course this makes a case that such books are not actually romances, but some other genre. In truth, I find it hard to think of any romance I have enjoyed, that can not also be counted in some other category.

For example: Family Drama, Social Satire, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Action Adventure, Horror and Mystery, Comedy etc.

The above genres can still be butchered, but they give the author more leeway. A specific example would be Jane Austen. While I would not consider her books to be romances, romance was a key aspect of her writing. However, instead of populating her stories with flat leads and completely unmemorable minor characters (like some stories I've wasted time on), Austen took time to develop her characters. We learn, not just of a hero and heroine, but of their families, friends, and neighbors. We know their quirks, foibles, and tastes. This allowed Austen to make subtle commentaries on society, politics, family dynamics etc. that kept her audience entertained while her main characters figured out how to be together.

So how do romantic stories (good and bad) affect the obsessive? Imagine the mental and emotional response you have to the building tension and climax of your favorite movie or book. Now, add the mental and emotional response you have to new love. Remember how exciting new love is?

Most people in the world are not currently experiencing this phenomenon. They are either seeking someone worthy of, and willing to receive, their attention, or they have committed themselves to someone, and are moving toward a deeper communion.

But does that mean they can't experience the exciting enticement of new love without cheating, or wasting time? It depends. If you are the sort of person who can be swept away by a good story, who can suspend disbelief, and enter a new world in every book, then perhaps, for you, vicarious new love will always be within reach.

(*Note: The Author is neither advocating, nor opposing the escapism implied in this concept, she merely sympathizes with you all, and reminds herself to remember the words of our Old Friend: "It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.")

This vicarious new love can be exciting, but it fades more quickly than a real (typical) infatuation. Some romances (the smutty ones), also try to vicariously induce other responses. These can be especially enticing to women, as it provides an emotional context for eroticism, that pornographic imagery often (I assume) lacks.

(*Note: The Author wishes to make it very clear, that she believes pornography in any form is detrimental to relationships, families, and individuals. Here she recommends strict self-control.)

Finally, we arrive at Twilight, a series that combines two genius tension builders.

First, Danger: One morning Stephenie Meyer awoke from a Dream involving a girl and a Vampire with two problems. One, they were in love, and two, her blood was (somehow) more enticing to him than any other. For those of you who have not read Twilight, Stephenie Meyer's Vampires do not merely enjoy drinking blood, it is a constant, raging, painful thirst. To deny themselves, as the Cullens do, is torture. In addition, it is occasionally possible for certain blood to attract certain Vampires (as is the case with Edward and Bella). Therefore, Bella is in constant danger from the Vampire's around her, and specifically from the one she has fallen for.

Second, Sexual Tension: While most modern romance novels (even many written for teens) contain sexual encounters, Twilight, and two of its sequels, do not. By making Edward chivalrous and a bit old fashioned, Stephenie Meyer was able to reconcile the modern romance with her own personal beliefs. Whether or not she also intended to draw out sexual tension, is unknown.

The Result
The combination of these tensions allow the author to break some of the rules of her genre, beginning by allowing the two main characters to be together. They immediately show interest in each other, and, after some initial ignoring, they spend all their time together. This is allowable because, where most romance series keep you asking, "When, when, when will they [hero and heroine] get together," Twilight makes you ask, "How, how, how will this ever work?"

Because we are constantly, morbidly curious to see if the hero will kill the heroine, there is no typical let down after the milestones in their relationship. Innocent moments like the first date, first touch, and first kiss become passion ridden, dangerously critical trials of endurance and love.

Edward explains that Bella would especially be in danger if they experimented sexually, and tries to keep them as far from that situation as possible. Eventually, it is also revealed that he wants to "wait" for marriage. By giving her characters a boundary that they must avoid as widely as possible, Meyer can have Bella and Edward flirt inch by dangerous inch along the path of their desire, exploring forms of affection (like cuddling) that the modern romance often completely ignores (They can't even french kiss, for fear of Bella cutting herself on Edward's sharp teeth). With each fractional increase, the danger intensifies, and Edward must find new depths of self-control!

Talk about tension!!!


So there's your answer: tension and euphoria. (And welcome to the Denouement of my post.) As humans, we've learned, the greater the tension, the greater the euphoria, right? I'm not going to tell you if Twilight payed off, you'll just have to read the books for yourself.

Also, I wanted to add that, while I have illustrated what might make the works of Stephenie Meyer attractive and popular, I do not mean this to be a review of their literary merit. I leave that up to professional and personal opinions.

Hopefully I've answered some questions, I certainly enjoyed trying.

The End

(Why do I suddenly feel like having a cigarette....?)

Timeline of Obsession

I've been thinking lately about the nature of obsession. I don't want to get into that right now, but my thoughts on it have lead me to realize that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. In my mind, an obsession is recurrent thoughts on a particular subject. Ones mind returns to this subject over, and over, when it's not busy with, or distracted by, other things.

In thinking about my obsessions, I realized that I can follow them like stepping stones into my past. The trail ends during my first year at BYU (03/04) after which I can no longer remember the order of my obsessions, or even all of them. The ones that stick out, are the ones I returned to over and over again.

P.S. Do not assume that these obsessions were on the heels of each other. Some of them overlapped, and some had days, weeks, or months in between. In addition, just because I focus on something during my free time, does not mean it is the most important thing to me (for example, I don't consider myself obsessed with my husband at the moment, but that doesn't mean I don't love/think about him.


Harry Potter
Chris/Marriage to Chris
Chris/Wedding to Chris
Chris/Figuring out Chris
Singleness/A Guy who's name I'm keeping to myself
A Good Friend/Chris, lack thereof
Harry Potter
Chris/Breaking up with Chris
Chris/Dating Chris
Chris/Getting to know Chris
Weston/Harry Potter/Gilmore Girls
Dustin/Harry Potter/Gilmore Girls
Isaac/Harry Potter/Gilmore Girls
Harry Potter
Issac/Harry Potter
Harry Potter/Random Movie Quotes
Harry Potter
Star Wars
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Star Wars


Here we enter the land of vague. I would say there is a tie between Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Anne Perry's Mysteries. Runners up include: Jane Austen, Lloyd Alexander Books, Anne of Green Gables, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Dark is Rising Sequence, Gene Stratton Porter, and The Little House Books.

Oh and half of 2001 I had a crush on a guy named Bradley (Yes, that Bradley).

So there you have it.

My conclusions?
1. Written words have more power over me than music (notice there are no albums up there), I didn't even think of any until just now, but they'd probably have to include Wicked, Into the Woods, and The Beatles. I also realize that I haven't included any of my favorite causes.
Oh well.
2. Apparently Chris' only real rival for my affections is Harry Potter.... (not!)

29 December, 2008

Question: Is Edward Cullen an Abusive Boyfriend?

Answer: I don't think so, but we'll see.

Disclaimer: I managed to read all four Twilight books without falling in love with Edward Cullin. I think he's an interesting character, he's just not the kind of guy I'd want (Plus, he's NOT REAL). That being said, I was kind of obsessed with the books for a while, but I got over it. I think this puts me in a unique position. I don't think Stephenie Meyer's saga is "tHE beSt EvEr!" but I enjoyed them, and think they're fun. If you think it's silly to analyze fictional characters, you won't enjoy this, so go away.

If you intend to, but have not yet read the Twilight series, consider this your warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Now, I've been thinking about this since dear Liz, Nicole (miss you!) and I talked about it on Saturday. Is Bella in an abusive relationship? Well, I looked up a few websites, and can easily claim that NO she is not. Of the ten characteristics listed on this site, Edward only has three (as does Bella), so I conclude that he is not abusive....Physically.

Unfortunately, Edward and Bella's relationship is a candidate for Ambient (or Stealth) Abuse.

According to Dr. Sam Vaknin's book, "Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited," ambient abuse is, "...the stealth, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves, until it is too late. ...It is the outcome of fear."

By subtly introducing fear to a victim (or prey, as Vaknin says) an ambient abuser renders him or her useless and easily manipulated....it's all about control.

Now, here comes the age old debate on Desire. If someone doesn't want to, or intend to hurt you, are they still responsible for it? This will be important.

It is my assertion that Edward can be considered an Ambient Abuser, when who he is, is added to what he is.

Vaknin gives five categories of Ambient Abuse. One can be considered abuse, but, by the nature of his personality, we can assign Edward two or three. In addition, by the nature of his species, we can assign him the other two. So, while he does not seem abusive, it does appear that Bella is being abused.

Let's begin.

I. Inducing Disorientation (Not Edward's Fault)

"The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and to cope with the world and its demands." Let's face it, Bella has never had much faith in her ability to begin with, Edward didn't cause that.

"The abuser subverts the target's focus by disagreeing with her way of perceiving the world, her judgment, the facts of her existence, by criticizing her incessantly and by offering plausible but specious alternatives. By constantly lying, he blurs the line between reality and nightmare."

Edward does lie to Bella, when he is trying to protect her, but she can usually tell. He often criticizes her, but in a charming way. He has the habit of trying to convince her she is good and beautiful (things she does not believe) but often teases her about her intelligence and logic (things that she is more confident in).

"Bella, you are utterly absurd" (Twilight p. 82). "You don’t see yourself very clearly, you know. I’ll admit you’re dead-on about the bad things, but you didn’t hear what every human male in this school was thinking on your first day" (210). Edward is constantly trying to convince Bella to believe the opposite, to see herself as he sees her. It's not intended malignantly, and Bella never buys it anyway. While Edward often disapproves of Bella's choices (as do many others) she usually is convinced she's done the right thing. However, he does introduce her to a new world, a world where her previous notions and beliefs cannot exist, a world of vampires and mythology. This, more than anything, seems to make Bella reassess herself, her life. She is ready to accept almost anything.

II. Incapacitating (Both Edward's Fault and Not Edward's Fault)

"The abuser gradually and surreptitiously takes over functions and chores previously adequately and skilfully performed by the victim. The prey finds itself isolated from the outer world, a hostage to the goodwill or, more often, ill-will of her captor. She is crippled by his encroachment and by the inexorable dissolution of her boundaries and ends up totally dependent on her tormentor's whims and desires, plans and stratagems." Edward is Chivalrous. He drives her to school, he protects her from harm, he makes sure she eats. Here's where intent comes in play. Does he like it when she's helpless and depends solely on him, or is he merely a little old fashioned and service-oriented. After all, he usually drives his whole family to school....but it is his car.

"Moreover, the abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed. The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability." This Edward has not done purposefully. At first, he is of the greatest danger to Bella, but quickly becomes her best defense. Did he somehow entice enemies (James, Victoria, the Volturi) to Bella in order to have the opportunity to save her? Don't be silly. He defends her completely, hates that he has to, and blames himself for exposing her to his world in the first-place (cue self-loathing).

III. Shared Psychosis (folie a deux) (Not Edward's Fault)

"The abuser creates a fantasy world, inhabited by the victim and himself, and besieged by imaginary enemies. He allocates to the abused the role of defending this invented and unreal Universe. She must swear to secrecy, stand by her abuser no matter what, lie, fight, pretend, obfuscate and do whatever else it takes to preserve this oasis of inanity." The fantasy world that Bella and Edward inhabit is real (at least to them). However, it does call for secrecy and solidarity. This, in part, is what makes Edward so enticing to Bella and other (real) women.

"Her membership in the abuser's "kingdom" is cast as a privilege and a prize. But it is not to be taken for granted. She has to work hard to earn her continued affiliation. She is constantly being tested and evaluated. Inevitably, this interminable stress reduces the victim's resistance and her ability to "see straight"." Again, this is not engineered by Edward, but by the nature of Vampires and Bella herself. She has never fit in anywhere, and suddenly is welcomed in by the most beautiful, strongest, fastest, "coolest," people around. So of course, when Edward leaves and tries to "save" her from herself, she only craves him more. Soon he becomes her be all, end all. She cannot live without him.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if Stephenie Meyer ended her series showing Bella and Edward in some mental institution and you realize that he made the whole thing up! I probably would have been mad, but it would have been awesome in a creepy way.

IV. Abuse of Information (Edward's Fault)

"From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the abuser is on the prowl. He collects information. The more he knows about his potential victim the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it "to the cause"." Edward did this. He wanted to know everything about Bella, partly because he couldn't read her thoughts, and partly because he was in lust with her (at that point, I don't think he loved her, physically he's still seventeen, but I could be wrong). While we know his intention was not manipulation, on page 208 of Twilight Edward says, "I do want to know what you’re thinking — everything," and on 245, "You fascinate me." While he does care what Bella thinks, that doesn't always affect his actions. As long as she is happy and satisfied, where's the harm? Dangerous situation coming to town? Don't tell Bella, just take her to visit her mother.

"The abuser does not hesitate to misuse the information he gleans, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armory." While Edward does not seem manipulative for the sake of manipulation, he is willing to stoop that low if he believes it is for Bella's own good. He insists that she will lose her soul if she becomes a vampire (though he doesn't really know), but she won't drop it, so he offers to make a deal. He offers her what she wants in return for what he wants. Compromise, right? But is it an accident that he asks for something that she is afraid to give? Did he infer this fear, and use it against her? Or was he unaware of it? Even though her fears are unfounded, it makes her rethink her original request. For a while, it looks like he might get his way. (Of course, she later turns things back on him, and proves that she can be just as devious, and in the end they both get what they want almost by accident.)

V. Control by Proxy (Edward's Fault and Not Edward's Fault)

"If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers in short, third parties to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done." Remember when Alice "kidnaps" Bella for that forced slumber "party?" Remember all those times when Charlie gets over-protective and Edward agrees with him when it keeps Bella where he wants her? True, he is trying to protect her from her own impulsiveness, and he definitely doesn't "dump" his allies (Alice is probably his best friend, and he has a lot of respect for Charlie), but he does overrule her in logical matters. He insists that he knows better.

"Another form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment) against the victim. Society, or a social group become the instruments of the abuser." This is not Edward, but, as above, we have seen that his world has caused this. The Volturi, random nomadic vampires, and even the local gossip mill all cause Bella grief.


As stated above Edward believes he knows what is best, or rather safest, for Bella, but is he wrong in trying to overrule and protect her? In truth, he is usually (but not always) right. Not because he is a man, not because he is older, but because, as a vampire, his brain works on a higher level. His synapses fire more rapidly, he has a perfect memory, and he's been to college several times. In comparison, Bella's mind is like a child. Is is wrong for you, as an adult, to see a child wandering the streets and take them to Child Protective Services? You have no authority over that child, yet what you did would be seen as heroic, even if the child prefers living on the streets. Many have complained that this kind of behavior is proof that Stephenie Meyer is anti-feminist, but she insists that she is merely, "anti-human." (stepheniemeyer.com) Looking at some of her other characters (Alice for one) does seem to make this argument viable. However, this "anti-human" sentiment is present for three books, books that are written in the first person. This can make it dangerous to those who may misinterpret the author's intentions, as Bella generally seems reasonable to herself and, therefore, the reader.


Despite his inclination to jealousy, self-loathing, and his own acknowledged "God complex" (Midnight Sun, p. 11) Edward Cullen is merely a borderline ambient abuser. He allows his desire to protect Bella to overcome his respect for her individuality. However, when the object of his concern (namely, Bella's human frailty) is extinguished, he begins to trust her more completely. He doesn't like to see her in dangerous situations, but stops being deceitful in order to keep her from them.

While it does seem as though Bella was experiencing all of the above abuses, few of them were actually caused, let alone intended, by Edward. However, had Bella remained human, we can only assume that the inequality of their relationship would have continued.

Perhaps we can assume that any human-vampire relationship would be, by nature, abusive in addition to dangerous.

Arguing that Edward abuses Bella is feasible, but not really fair. We are attempting to judge a cross-species relationship in a fantasy world. Now if you want to try to argue that Bella is abusing herself....

To all you women who wish for an Edward in your life....you may want to think again.


Please don't shoot me:

To fellow fans of Twilight, please allow me the enjoyment I've had playing devil's advocate. As stated above, I like Stephenie Meyer, her books, and characters, but that doesn't mean we should accept everything she's written as a perfect dream to pursue without some serious consideration.

To all you Twilight haters, don't begrudge me the harmless fun of my escapist tendencies. I've overcome my obsession and lived to laugh at myself. I know it's hard to accept that so many people are so obsessed with something you find so valueless, but please, at least it's not High School Musical.

22 December, 2008

Sometimes, Maybe, Yes

In case you haven't noticed, my husband looks a bit like Edward Norton. Since this is the case, we couldn't resist dressing up as Marla Singer and The Narrator from Fight Club for Halloween last year:

"I am Jack's complete lack of surprise."

But this similarity has caused some hilarity at church.

It started one Sunday after Chris and I had given talks in Sacrament Meeting. Chris had rambled a bit during his talk and somehow ended up talking about how he has a bit of a temper in the car and gets frustrated the with drivers around him.

Well, one of our Bishop's sons (aged 7) came up to Chris and asked him in a semi-amazed voice, "You get angry?"

"Sometimes," my husband replied.

We thought it was cute, but dismissed it from our minds....until Halloween.

On Halloween, we were helping with the Ward party, and the kids were running around costumed and candied up. The same boy stopped near my husband, turned to him and asked, "Are you the Incredible Hulk?"

Chris, being the kind of guy he is, looked at the boy and said, "Maybe."

He ran off, presumably to tell his brothers, and Chris found me to tell me what he'd said. We had a good laugh, and then I went back to painting faces.

Later that night, the boy's older (and more skeptical) brother, came up to him again to ask, "Did you play the Hulk?"

To which Chris promptly replied, "Yes."

It was only after, on the way home, that we made the connection to his question a few weeks before, no wonder he was worried about Chris getting angry!

Finally, last night, we went to drop off some Christmas cookies to their family and, while I took care of the "Merry Christmas," "How are you," and other pleasantries, Chris was getting an esteem boost.

Upon seeing Chris, the seven year old ran to the TV and came back with The Hulk. Peering out from behind his parents, he waved the movie at my husband (I missed this). Next he grabbed his Hulk toy to show Chris (I had no clue). Finally, clutching both, he ran out of sight, squealing to his brothers, "The Incredible Hulk is here!" (Still, I was oblivious).

As we walked to the car, Chris filled me in on the hilarity, and I barely managed to contain myself.

I love kids! I don't know how I feel about my husband lying to them, but seriously....in this case....wouldn't you?

Maybe we should make dressing up like characters from Ed Norton movies a Halloween tradition?



I've been wanting to make one of these for a while....

11 December, 2008

Silly Things I do for no Good Reason

Okay, I am weird (ask anyone), but there is often method to my madness, so I've decided to share a few, heck if I think of more, this could be a regular occurrence on ye olde blog.

Silly Things I do for no Good Reason (other than that I am a dork).

1) You may have noticed (see previous post) that I generally put one too many periods in my ellipses.
.... instead of ...

I started doing that in COLLEGE.

Make a guess, and then click. (You can catch it there twice....)

2) You may have noticed the way I eat (this is two-fold)
a. I eat with my fork in the left hand, tines down
Because my mom said it was the British way (Yay, my celebrated half-of-me!). (Later, I discovered it is considered Continental. That's good enough for me!)

b. I eat my salad first, and then put a little bit of everything else on my fork and chew it together.
Why? Good question.
I'm not sure why or when I started doing this (I had one friend who thought is was so gross, she was of the anti food-groups-touching-each-other camp). I think it must have stemmed from a dislike of the taste of vegetables. I began using favorite foods to flavor less desirable ones. Now, it's the only way I eat. I'd be sacrilege in France (le sigh).
My Aunt likes it, because she says it reminds her of an *Emma Thompson character who was always creating "the perfect bite." That's what I do! What a perfect way to put it. That's why my plate always ends up looking like a post-hurricane wreckage, because all the leftover pieces don't have corresponding flavors!

Okay, so I'm weird. We all knew this but now?

We have proof.

*Let me know if you know the title of that movie....

Is it the Spirit....or is it just gas?

Inspired by the ever faithful Liz and Nicole, my hilarious/intelligent cousin, and my new Token Asian Friend, I have decided to be a more faithful blogger (we'll see what happens).

So here it is:

Attention: This is a slightly LDS-centric post because, well, I'm LDS. If you are confused by anything you read here, check out mormon.org, or wikipedia

Is it the Spirit....or is it Just Gas?

It was only a mild surprise on Sunday, to see the bishop of our ward beckoning to me during Sunday School. Hadn't I joked with Chiemi two days before about replacing her as Primary 1st councilor (we decided that I was needed as chorister too much)? So I followed him to his office, sat down, and exchanged the usual pleasantries. "Sister Puppé," the bishop asked, "did your husband tell you I called him to be the ward mission leader today?" What? Not only was I getting Chiemi's calling, Chris was getting her husband's!

Hilarious, right?

He then continued, "And I'd like to call you to be the ward Primary President."



....Of course I accepted. I know the call was from the Lord. But there was still that little....wait, you mean me? feeling.

Funnily enough, the thought had crossed my mind that morning. My mind's response? "Yeah right, that'll never happen *mind-snort."

Everyone struggles with every calling, no matter how involved it is, I know I have, and everyone has different fears when it comes to each one.


Teach under-twelve-year-olds the gospel?--No Problem
Come up with ideas to acheive this?--Piece of Cake
Learn an entire program backwards and forwards?--Bring it on

(Wait, did I just steal all of those lines from Cuzco? So much for creativity.)

But there are Three things that scare me about this calling. I'm talking literally PETRIFY.

1) I have to be Organized (okay, I can do this when it really matters, it's just so darn hard!)
2) I have to be in charge of the Money (right, I can also do this, it just doesn't come naturally)
3) I have to make Decisions (here's where the petrification part comes in)

Okay, now let me explain. I am a pretty self-assured, intelligent person. I admire and respect myself, and my abilities. But when it comes to big decisions, or receiving Revelation I get pretty intimidated.

I mean, it took me a year and a half to decide to marry my husband!

Still, I knew I'd be okay once I chose my councilors (and replaced myself as chorister), but I had to hurry. You see, I was called and set apart the same day so that the new Stake Directories would be up to date.

Chiemi is still doing sharing time, thank goodness, but the rest of the former presidency will be out of town!

Okay, on to the dilemma of my post!

How do you know if what you're feeling is the spirit or something else? (emotion, wishful thinking, gas....) Here I am agonizing over names, wishing for a voice or that over-powering, perfectly right feeling , or something. Okay, I didn't really expect a voice, but the feeling? Where's the impression, the thought, the peace?

I don't mean to complain, but I've been so frustrated. So of course, instead of having faith/hope/patience or any of those other necessary qualities, I start hammering on myself. (What's wrong with me? Why does this scare me so much? Where's the Spirit?) and all those other stupid things we say to ourselves instead of doing the faith/hope/patience thing.

So by last night, I'd worked myself into a frenzy. Earlier in the afternoon, I'd pretty much decided on my councilors, but then I began to doubt. It was so subtle, what if I misunderstood? Surely I'd feel more strong, more sure. Round and round, and over and over, spinning, searching, praying, crying, self-rebuking, and still feeling lost. Upon reaching the heaving, sobbing-into-husband's-chest stage, the logical portion of my brain broke free and said, "Wait! This isn't normal! This feels like crazy hormones." Ah, yes, my old enemies. They ignore me throughout my teen years and then pounce unexpectedly at 22. Good old hormones.

(Now you're probably thinking maybe I'm just imbalanced, imature, or some other im....but if I notice a pattern to these crazy times, who are you to tell me otherwise.)

At this point, I realized further thought/worry on the subject would be the opposite of productive, so I put it aside, requested a blessing from my husband, and went to sleep. (Consequentally, I have a renewed appreciation for the power of the priesthood, and the incredible strength and worthiness of priesthood holders)

So today, determined to do things right, I start from scratch, feeling almost nothing, but in general a few little hints.

Guess what? Same two names.
Guess what else? I'm starting to have some doubts....

21 November, 2008

The Ultimate Color Test (not really)

Sorry it's been forever! And sorry this is such a lame post, but I liked this. Of course, it's almost so vague it could be about a lot of people...hmm....I still like it. Oh well :)

The Ultimate Color Test

When you are at peace, you are:

Giving and unselfish

When you are moved to act, you are:

Giving and warm

When you are inspired, you are:

Flexible and experimental

When your life is perfectly balanced, you are:

Philosophical and expressive

Your life's purpose is:

To change the world

18 August, 2008

Confessions of a Bruised Mind

I slept in today.

What is it about a bed that makes one feel safe?

Sleep is safe, but

Closed eyes? Alone in a bed?

What's so safe about that?

And yet

I prolong it.

The alarm keeps going

And I

Keep hitting snooze.

Finally, a different phone sound

Curiosity, my saving virtue

Who has texted me?

So I am distracted and, before I know it

Officially awake.

Check something off my list.

Pills, fiber, those are easy,

No thought required.

And then I head back to bed.

Because there is another thing that happens near that location

But I'm trying not to think about it.

See, the thing is,

It's really hard to pretend when you pray.


If I let my guard down

I'll start crying.

I'd probably feel better

But I'd also be caught

Once again

In the never-ending cycle

It's easier to get distracted

To get caught up in the magic of words

And turn fear into poetry

Cause a poem can't hurt


My eyes are full

11 July, 2008

Keepers of the Children

Look for the Logo!

Every time I pass a group of tough looking bikers, I look for the BACA patch. BACA, Bikers Against Child Abuse, was started by John Paul "Chief" Lilly (who happens to be a friend of a friend), a child therapist. Working with families, social workers, therapists and the police department, BACA provides four levels of intervention for abused children. During a first visit, the whole chapter (20-80 bikers!) meets up with the child, gives them a BACA vest, some stickers and toys, and the contact information for the two closest members. They are sending a message to the child that they are now part of the BACA family, a big, loud, tough family. And nobody better mess with their family.

BACA does not condone violence, they perform ridebys and show up for court dates, just to be there for the child. They want the child to be empowered, but they are also sending a message to the abusers.

Listen to their creed:

I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I wont look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past has prepared me, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by the faith in my works, and lean on the strength of my brothers and sisters. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with power.

My fate is set, my gait is fast, my goal is the ultimate safety of children. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are tried and true, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I wont give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and showed up for all wounded children. I must go until I drop, ride until I give out, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, for He will see my BACA backpatch and know that I am one of His. I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, and this is my creed.

Founder, Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc.

These couragous men and women have found a need and are filling it. They are my heroes!
This video is about ten minutes, but it's totally worth watching:

20 May, 2008

Thanks--Written in January

Thanks for Being the Kind of Friend
The kind of friend
I can always count on

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who knows all my secrets
because you've listened long enough for me to get them all out

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who teaches me
how to be better friends with others

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who knows when I need to talk
about nothing

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who'd loan me money
and even be aware I need it in the first place

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who can't resist
speaking his mind

Thanks for being the kind of friend
that makes me think twice
about moving away

Thanks for being the kind of friend
who will always
respect and protect me

Thanks for being

06 March, 2008

My Songs

It was bonding time. Liann, my Resident Assistant, asked us to go around the circle and share our Theme Song. I didn't know what to pick. Of course, it was important to me. I love my personality, and I love defining it for myself and others. I also love music. Here was an opportunity to define myself with song, a fabulous form of communication, but I could not think of what it would be. Dissatisfied, and a little disgusted, I volunteered what I realize now was my Love Theme Song. Everyone, "Awwwed," and I tried to retain my self-respect.

When I Fall in Love

When I fall in love it will be forever
Or Ill never fall in love
In a restless world like this is
Love is ended before its begun
And too many moonlight kisses
Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun

When I give my heart it will be completely
Or Ill never give my heart
And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too
Is when I fall in love with you.

Cheesy, but adequate. Really, I only need the first two lines to describe my attitude toward love. It probably wasn't a very smart attitude, but it did come true. I finally fell in love, and it will be forever. As a child I thought it would be great, and make the most sense, to marry the first man I dated. Well, I am going to do that, but it took five years of off and on dating to get there.

(But it is kind of nice to know he is the only man I've ever loved, and that I'm the only woman he's ever loved.)

As I've matured and discovered what love really is, I find it nearly impossible to find a song to actually describe this ever changing, constantly surprising, and exquisitely more dear every day feeling.

However, because I am planning my wedding, I have been forced to do this very thing. The best Chris and I could come up with (and I really think we did quite well), was an old favorite from one of our favorite movies.

Proof that there is a hopeless romantic in each of us:

Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends

Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the beast

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever just as sure
Ever as before
As the sun will rise

Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the beast

Now don't misunderstand, Chris may be hairy, but he is NOT a beast! I hope I don't have to add a disclaimer to my Wedding Song....

But I really do think this is a good way to tell our story. What was once so surprising has become the surest thing in my life. He is a great source of strength and luster to my world. (And yes, I just glanced at him fondly, though he doesn't know because he is sleeping on my couch.)

Anyway, back to my college years, while I did not come up with my perfect Theme Song at the perfect moment, I did, of course, realize what it was about a month [too]later.

If I had Wings

If I had wings no one would ask me should I fly
The bird sings, no one asks why.
I can see in myself wings as I feel them
If you see something else, keep your thoughts to yourself,
I’ll fly free then.

Yesterday’s eyes see their colors fading away
They see their sun turning to grey
You can’t share in a dream, that you don’t believe in
If you say that you see and pretend to be me
You won’t be then.

How can you ask if I’m happy goin’ my way?
You might as well ask a child at play!
There’s no need to discuss or understand me
I won’t ask of myself to become something else
I’ll just be me!

If I had wings no one would ask me should I fly
The bird sings, and no one asks her why.
I can see in myself wings as I feel them
If you see something else, keep your thoughts to yourself,
I’ll fly free then.

So I was finally satisfied. Here was a song to define me as undefinable, along with free and unique.

I thought I was done, but I was wrong.

A few months ago, at a Relief Society Enrichment Meeting, a music lesson brought up the old question, "What is your theme song." The teacher went beyond, saying that we should have several songs for different things. She quoted research on the usefulness of having a personal Fight Song.

Well, fortunately, I figured out mine almost immediately. I picked the song that most inspires me to action (Yes, me and action, sometimes we get together).

(It is from the FABULOUS musical The Scarlet Pimpernel)

Into the Fire

David walked into the valley

With a stone clutched in his hand

He was only a boy

But he knew someone must take a stand

There will always be a valley

Always mountains one must scale

There will always be perilous waters

Which someone must sail

Into valleys, into waters

Into jungles, into hell

Let us ride, let us ride home again with a story to tell

Into darkness, into danger

Into storms that rip the night

Don't give in, but give up

But give thanks for the glorious fight

You can tremble, you can fear it

But keep your fighting spirit alive boys

Let the shiver of it sting you

Fling into battle, spring to your feet boys

Never hold back your step for a moment

Never doubt that your courage will grow

Hold your head even higher and into the fire we go

Are there mountains that surround us?

Are there walls that block the way?

Knock 'em down, strip 'em back boys

And forward and into the fray

Into terror, into valour

Charge ahead, no, never turn

Yes, it's into the fire we fly

And the devil will burn

Someone has to face the valley

Rush in, we have to rally and win boys

When the world is saying not to

By God, you know you've got to march on, boys

Never hold back your step for a moment

Never doubt that your courage will grow

Hold your head ever higher and into the fire we go

Let the lightning strike

Let the flash of it shock you

Choke your fears away

Pull as tight as a wire

Let the fever strike

Let the force of it rock you

We will have our day, sailing into the fire

Someone has to face the valley

Rush in! We have to rally and win boys

When the world is saying not to

By God, you know you've got to march on, boys

Never hold back your step for a moment

Look alive! Oh, your courage will grow

Yes, it's higher and higher and into the fire we go

Into fire!

Onward, ho!

I love this song, because it teaches the importance of the "Someones" in our lives. We can choose to let someone take care of things, or we can stand up and volunteer to be Someone.

So there they are, a few thoughts on my four songs, written with four people and the television distracting me.