Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Games

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:
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      Ever and Christopher in the little white boat off of Bainbridge Island, Washington 2012

Last night I played a game with Anson while snuggling to sleep. (How old until he stops requesting this service? I have awhile right?) It was a trivia game and because he's a bit competitive he would answer as fast as he could.

"Name an herbivore."

"What is Erin's middle name?"

"What's dad's phone number?"

"Name me a state you have been to outside of Utah."

"Who is running for the President of the United States?"

"Name a country where they speak Spanish."

Sometimes he would answer so fast his response would be ridiculous.

"What is dad's sister's name?"

"Aunt Feather..UGH...Heather."

Sometimes we would be laughing so hard we couldn't form questions or answers.

It became clear to me after while that this eight year old boy is picking up far more information than I give him credit for. It's not all about Ghostbusters--as his daily conversations would suggest. He's bright. He hears me talking to people. He listens. He's starting to pick up the pieces of our family story and put them together. And his memory is full of stories.

And then I asked him to tell me about a time he was happy.

"When we went to the ocean and we stayed at your cousin's house on that island and she let us borrow her little white boat. We drove out into the bay and saw this huge battleship. I wanted to see it close up so we got as close as we could. We ate snacks and had drinks. When Dad drove the boat really fast I hid behind a window in the front so the wind wouldn't blow on me because it made me cold."

He was four years old. Until our game last night I didn't know he was carrying that story around in the pockets of his memory all this time. And interesting to me, his memories covered almost all the senses.

Parenting is the best.




Friday, August 26, 2016

Little Things

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

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Today is Christopher's 45th birthday. The first thing anyone notices about my husband is his stature. He's a big guy. Six feet and five inches, bulky, strong arms, long muscular legs, shoulders that shame the Greek Gods. (And an award-winning butt, let me say.)

Yesterday when I was waiting to see my dietician I was reading Psychology Today (as one does in therapist waiting rooms) and I scanned an article about first impressions and all the factors that lead to perceptions. For instance, if you were holding a cold drink when you met someone for the first time, evidence suggests you might find that person cold. Or if you met someone while sitting in a wobbly chair you might find that person imbalanced. So naturally I thought about the first time I met Christopher and I remembered being in vulnerable place (just left my marriage) and when I saw his commanding presence and heard his booming voice, my psychology screamed: HERE IS SAFE.

I wanted to crawl right into his space and hide.


Christopher is cool. Big cool. He's never the fool, never the clown. He's collected and aware. Not much gets past him. He's usually right. He knows a lot about a lot of things. He can be huffy and grumpy and he rolls his eyes when he detects bull. He's not pretentious (unless it comes to cars and art). He's teachable if you can find something he doesn't already know. He's always up-to-date on headlines and pop culture. He can figure anything out it it's mechanical or technical or broken and needs to be nailed, glued or sewed.

The thing that I find sort of funny right now though is the little things in CK's big life--his four little kids, his basement full of tiny collectable toys, his minuscule remote control helicopters (he flies with his huge hands). He's always looking down when you walk around with him because he scavenges for little things--treasures and lost toys. If you come to our house you will see above doorways series of teeny objects--animals or robots or Anime figures etc. And you know they are from Christopher's collection because no one else in our household can reach high enough to put them up there.

No matter how my body expands or shrinks in life, next to my husband I feel like a little thing. And even though he allows me all the space I need in our marriage to be big, I never want to lose how small I feel sometimes next to him, simply because sometimes it's nice to hide.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Adventure

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

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Last week due to a series of interesting events I found myself southbound on Highway 89 towards Kanab with my three daughters in the back seat of our van, Dragon's Breath.

We branded it: Girls Adventure.

Our first stop (outside of the every-50-miles-bathroom-break) was Coral Pink Sand Dunes, about four hours south of Provo. My Ever, at six years of age has anointed herself Queen of All Sand Dunes. So this particular adventure was for her as all good queens must take time to visit their constituency at least once in a lifetime.

When we arrived at the State Park we poured out of Dragon's Breath with eagerness. I spotted a huge desert thunderstorm across the pink valley and said a mother's prayer that our exploits wouldn't be rained out. The State Trooper assured me the storm was headed southeast.

"We haven't had rain here for days."

A short path lead us to the sea of sand. (Utah does have oceans, you know, they're just full of grains of earth and not salt water. But you can still float on them. And the sensation is strangely the same.) The vista was tremendous, piles and piles of pink sand hills, and 200 yards away from our observation point was a mammoth mountain of sand.

"Please bless these girls won't want to hike it," was my second mother's prayer that day.

"Let's go hike that mountain!" Four-year-old Erin said, and they all took off with shovels and pails in hands, feet discarded of shoes, hair blowing in the distant storm's residual wind. Oh the enthusiasm! I did not create a single female human who doesn't lack enthusiasm. So help me.

I followed their little bodies as they ran straight towards the mass, the mountain was somewhat three tiered. We climbed the first tier with some slight huffing. But by the second tier the two year old Iris, (still known as--and perhaps forever--"the baby") was floundering. Sand hiking is its own complicated sport. When the surface under your feet constantly sinks as you try to ascend it can make you feel like you're in a hamster wheel, going no where fast.

I heard a cracked little voice behind me, "I follow your footsteps, Mom." Placing her feet into my indentation made walking in the squishy sand easier for Iris. Erin trailed behind her. Ever, her majesty, scaled towards the top in front of us.

The storm was coming closer and for a minute I entertained the thought of a wind storm in the middle of a sand dune. We would be crushed. Was I being safe?

(If you don't ask yourself that at some point on the journey, you're not on a true adventure, I believe.)

I insisted we all stop for water breaks. The wind was picking up and we could see rain falling from the sky to our south. We were breathing heavy. Our faces red with blood. Pink sand crusted onto our faces where water had dribbled onto our faces from the water bottle.

"Should we stop?" I asked them.

"NO!" the enthusiasts replied.

And they picked up the trail and carried on to the top. Ever first, with a desert reed she had plucked out of the sand islands--they call them--spots of persistent plants in the sea of sand. Behind me, Erin and Iris at the tail end. We hiked silently with hard breaths. Storm clouds and thunder closing in.

To the top we made it one-by-one single file. We sat surveying the entirety, chests pumping, hair sweeping around our heads. Pink sand piles for miles. The desert in purples and reds, dotted with greens and sage. A grand kingdom to be sure.

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We stayed at the top for an hour or so, slid up and down, high jumped, crawled and rolled. A trickle of tourists speaking a host of languages would pass us by, weighted down by heavy camera equipment around their necks. We watched the blue storm sail off to the south. We immersed our body parts until they were "baptized" as Ever called it. We talked about how strong bodies come in all shapes and sizes and the point really was to know the thrill of exploring the folds of our planet. Then we played martians (because other planets are cool too).

We walked back slowly, Ever and Erin declared they were a velociraptor and dilophosaures coming back from their rocky graves to haunt me and the baby. The baby stayed the course. And suddenly we were back in Dragon's Breath headed to our next stop. Pink sand in every corner of our tired bodies.

There's metaphors in here I know. But why ruin a perfectly good story of adventure?





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship

When I posted a self-indulgent post of all the things we did this summer (thanks for reading! Mom, especially you!) some of you emailed/dm/pm/texted to ask if I would keep up the reporting of our adventures (were you just being nice?) so that your families could join in on the exploration. And I am here to say, YES. Thanks for twisting my arm. Just kidding, it didn't even take that much prodding.

So here's something coming up, the Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship. It is so much fun. We went for the first time last year and sat fascinated by what we saw. Sheep herding by the smartest dogs on the planet, but also dock diving and agility competing. It's in Midway, Utah, Labor Day weekend the time of the year when the Wasatch Back begins to be tinged by fall colors.

Also, we took advantage of the food trucks (some special fair food just for the occasion), shopped at the arts and crafts booths (all the slingshots), employed some face painters, went to a wild animal show, and pet close to one million different dogs.

You gotta go.

What: Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheedpdog Championship
When: Labor Day Weekend, Sept 2,3, 4, 5
Where: Soldier Hollow, Midway, Utah
Tips: Bring water, sunscreen, binoculars, sunglasses and hats. Make a plan before you enter into the arena (like Disneyland!) and be early to the events you want to see. Seats get taken fast.


See you there!



Billboards

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:


In the spring there was an infestation along the Wasatch Front of horses. Big, breathing, wind-swept white horses on billboards. Sexy horses, you know what I mean? They weren't like horses you rode at your uncle's farm with big teeth and swatty tails. No, these are mysterious horses, illusive, you know. Like the kind of horse on a romance novel. If you get me.

At first there were two or three along the highway. What is this? We wondered.

Cavalia's Odysseo!

(What does this mean?)

"The Most Amazing Show!"

But in the coming weeks it was as though the horses were multiplying and suddenly there was a Cavalia' Odysseo billboard every five feet on the highway, on the freeway, on our town roads. Your eyes could not avert, there was no missing it. Every space of our lives was covered with a Cavalia image. It was a deluge! A flood! A smothering of advertisements. In restaurants! On buses! Trains! Commercials on our tv! It was shock and awe! SHOCK AND AWE.

"Wow. What was their advertising budget?" we wondered.

From Brigham City to Santaquin CAVALIA!

CAVALIA
CAVALIA
CAVALIA

The Wasatch Front population of Utah united in our plight. We were together, billboard bombarded. No safe places. No shelter from the mystical. It was infiltration and we were the victims, all of us, together.

And then memes started on Twitter.

#cavalia
#cavalia
#cavalia

In our defense we supported each other with humor. We laughed at the situation on our respective platforms. It was funny. Really funny. People were so clever. A sense of pride grew into our hearts as a community. We were sharing and retweeting all the Cavalia jokes. Democrat, Republican, Mormon, Catholic. It was as though nothing else mattered excepted our shared Cavalia harassment.

But as the besiege continued after months we started checking in on each other at night. "You handling the Cavalia Situation ok buddy?" we asked our kids before bed. "Sure it's funny, but sometimes we laugh away the tears."

I only knew a handful of people who actually went. Paid money. Lots of it. But when you asked them how it was, you got a strange apathy. Almost like they were in a trance, they couldn't look at you straight or give you an answer with an adjective, "It was....really...and then...it was over." Their eyes going to some distant place.

And then, one day, they packed up the big white circus tent on the freeway and the show was over. The billboards started to be replaced with our usual Utah plastic surgery obsession. We went back to our corners, our lives, our opinions and our prejudice. Soon we would forget what it felt to be under the onslaught of Cavalia until we would run into an abandoned billboard south on I-15. The sexy horse giving a side-eye, like, WE USED TO BE SO HOT, YOU AND I.

Months later we watched the presidential election heat up. The country and our state felt the pang of division and derision. We retreated to our sides.


But for the spring of 2016 we shared a space underneath the thumb print of Cavalia. And we will always ask ourselves: was it really just a cover for a government top-secret experiment on communal psychology and marketing?

Odysseo,

The Most Amazing Show.