This is a story I have been meaning to share since Thanksgiving. Indeed, it has come to be regarded as a fantastic joke by most in my circle of friends, so it is only fitting to also share it, here.

This story has its humble beginnings the evening I flew home for Thanksgiving. After a grueling day of flying, followed by a terrifying shuttle drive through the Virgin River Gorge in bad weather, I made it into St. George, which my parents drove into in order to pick me up.

It was probably 8 at night, I was tired, and I was hungry, but mostly I was tired and stressed and really just wanted to be at home, in bed, away from the bad weather and my dad's bad driving.

My dad, however, insisted on getting me something to eat first. "What are you in the mood for?" he asked. I said, "Well, I've been craving some good Japanese...maybe sushi?"

And he said, "Nah, we don't wanna do sushi. The only sushi place around here is really expensive, anyway. There's this really good Mediterranean place we just found. They have great baklava."

"Um...okay....I guess."

So we go to the Mediterranean place. Turns out, it's closed. I convinced my dad to just go home.

This was on Monday. On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, it is tradition for the extended family to go to a pizza place and get pizza. My dad brought up the idea of the Mediterranean place, and how good their baklava was, but it was quickly shot down in favor of cheap pizza which would please everyone, even the kids.

Then, things got interesting. On Friday, my grandparents left early. This left Aunt and Uncle Cool, my dad's brother and sister-in-law, and Uncle Nice, my mom's brother. Between them, there were three children under the age of 12.

We decided to go the dinosaur museum in the early afternoon, because the kids were super interested. So we went, we saw, we had fun. There was a minor hitch of Aunt and Uncle Cool and their children being firm believers in evolution, whereas my dad is... well, sometimes he puts Glenn Beck to shame. There was some banter about it, which led to politics and whatnot, which my dad fervently believed he won.

Anyway, we then gathered in the gift shop, deciding our next move. It was about 4, and some of us were starting to get hungry, but mostly we just wanted a place where we could all hang out and be together before everyone went home the next day. Whether this was a restaurant or going back to the homestead, we didn't care.

So, my dad is wandering aimlessly, and we all decide that maybe we're in the mood for Olive Garden, or perhaps some Chinese. Then, my dad comes by and is like, "No, I want to go to the Mediterranean place."

Aunt Cool, quickly sensing the potential for nuclear war, said, "Well, we brought two cars. We can take whoever wants to go to the Olive Garden, and anyone who wants Mediterranean can go with you. But the last two times I had Mediterranean, I threw it up, so...."

"No. We are going to Mediterranean. All week it's been about what everyone else wants, and I want baklava." Please, imagine a 6'2'', 260 pound man saying this with all the petulance of a child throwing a temper tantrum.

The conversation continued like that for several minutes, with my dad repeatedly emphatically, "I want baklava!" I am fairly certain there was a legitimate foot stomp at one point.

Anyway, eventually he stormed out to the car. My mother went after him to engage in heated negotiations. My aunt followed shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, I looked around and noticed that the entire staff of the dinosaur museum had been surreptitiously eavesdropping. One man even noted that he had thought about getting popcorn. And also said, "Well, you have to have one in every bunch."

Too true, dear sir.

To conclude the story, after ten or fifteen minutes of negotiations, my aunt came back in and announced that we would all be going to Fiesta Family Fun, an arcade-type place with batting cages and really crappy pizza.

Yup. Baklava, indeed.


Moments I regret II

As a Mia Maid, we got a new teacher. She was the bishop's sister-in-law, but none of us girls could stand her. She was a bit forceful, and old enough that she had absolutely no way to relate to us.

So, during the monthly combined Young Women lesson, she drew the short stick and had to teach us monsters. The topic for that month was working on going to the temple.

She, right off the bat said, "This is a really hard lesson for me to give, because there are a lot of things about the temple that I don't agree with. Some really weird things go on in there that I'm just really uncomfortable with. But I'm going to do my best to teach you the principles of this lesson."

The lesson itself was dull. Or at least, I don't remember much. But I do remember that none of us were very impressed. Some of the things she said kept hinting at her earlier statements of disagreement.

By the end of the lesson, everyone--adults included--were in varying states of shock, upset, and anger. How dare this woman use lesson time to demean something as sacred as the temple. How dare she try and sway the impressionable youth from their goal of marrying in the temple for time and all eternity. If she, for whatever outlandish reason, had problems with the temple, the least she could do was step down from teaching that month. Or, God forbid, swallow her pride and humbly give the lesson out of the manual, with no personal comment.

We young women were enjoying the opportunity to exploit the division between the adults, and perhaps some of us were sincerely upset by what she had said. I mean, none of us had actually been to the temple, none of us knew the history of the ordinances, so of course we had no idea what she was talking about. In our heads, we had built up the temple to be this grand place of mystery and enlightenment. A place where people saw the Savior, received guidance, and learned about the building blocks of life itself. So, in our minds, what she had said was so far off-base it wasn't even in the same playing field.

Well, to make a long story short, she was called into the bishop's office and severely reprimanded. I've no doubt that some form of disciplinary action was imposed upon her. If I had to guess, it'd be informal probation, because she continued her calling as our teacher for another year or so.

But, she was forced to stand up at the beginning of our next Young Women meeting and apologize for what she had said, and say that she didn't really mean it.

If I could go back in time, I would slap myself silly for not standing up for her. For succumbing to the ridiculous groupthink mentality and not allowing her to have her own opinions. I wish I could have asked her what she was talking about. Maybe I would have actually learned something from that lesson, instead of sitting, eyes glazed over, through another correlated lesson that I had heard numerous times before.

As it is, out of the seven years of Young Women, very, very few lessons stick out in my mind, easy to remember. This is one of them.


Round 2

So, earlier I blogged about the conversation with my father over Christmas, and how he sort of hounded me about tithing and such. I felt like a big girl and told him that I was making an adult, informed decision and that I didn't want to discuss it. He pushed a little bit, but eventually moved onto other topics.

Well, the day before yesterday, he called again. I've been avoiding him lately because he's been hounding me a lot, trying to micromanage my life in a bunch of little ways, so I've dropped off the radar a bit.

Anyway, he called me. I ignored the call but texted him to tell him that I was working (a blatant lie), but asked what was up. This is my way of finding out whether it is actually important--as in, does this have something to do with my mother's health? Anyway, he sent back that he left a message. So I listened to the message and it was basically, "Hey, this is your dad, I've got your mom right next to me. We're kind of worried about you, we haven't heard your voice in a while, and would like to hear from you. We'll both be up until ten, so just give us a call when you can. Your mom misses you."

This effectively guilted me into calling them. I fully expected to be able to talk to my mother, since it sounded like she wanted to talk. Right?

Well... they had me on speakerphone, but my mother didn't say a single thing during the conversation. Nada. My dad dominated, even when discussing my mom's chemo treatment, or how she was feeling. He gave me all the information. "Yeah, your mom went in for chemo the other day. The lump is reacting really well, it's shrinking and isn't hard anymore..." Fantastic, but can I hear it from Mom?

But then, I asked if we should be planning for my next visit. You know, so that we can budget for it and save up the money, so that I'm not hanging out here in the Great White North waiting to see my mother, who could die, and then get an earful this summer about how you had to use a credit card to get plane tickets. It seems like a reasonable proposition, right? Start planning now so that come March or April, we'll have saved enough for some cheap tickets, and I can see my mother by May.

No such luck. Dad started going on about how we'll start talking about it after I've gotten on my feet financially, and he's gotten himself a little better off, and oh yeah, I need to start paying my tithing, I just need to.

I said, "Dad, we've already had this conversation and I'm not willing to revisit it."

And he said, "I know, I was just reminding you, because it's really important for you to pay your tithing."

So I said, fully conscious of my silent mother listening in, "Dad, I've made my decision on it, you aren't going to change my mind, and I am not going to talk about it again."

He made a couple more attempts to posture and make it seem like he was just reminding me, was just concerned for me, et cetera, then we moved on.

But it really makes my blood boil. This whole conversation does, in fact. First, he coerces me into calling him under the pretense that my mom wants to talk to me, which I'm fine with, but then he dominates the conversation and doesn't let my mother talk at all. Then, he gets all holier-than-thou and acts like because he is the presiding authority in the family, he has direct authority to tell me what I need to be doing, trying to micromanage my life. THEN, he reopens a topic that he KNOWS I won't budge on, which I made clear in a previous conversation I was not willing to discuss, in front of my mom whom he knows will be upset by any argument over the subject, and who was not feeling well that day due to her chemo. What the hell?

And don't even get me started on the presumption of getting me back on my feet financially before I can visit my mother. The last time I checked, I was doing better financially than my dad. I am only about $5,000 in the hole, all from student loans which I had to take out because my father, who had promised my entire life that he would take care of college for me, but in return I would forfeit any inheritance in his will, got stupid with his money and dug himself a hole roughly to the tune of $100,000. And that isn't counting his half-million dollar home he decided to build.

Oh, and one final thing: is it just me, or did it kind of seem that he's holding tithing over my head as something I must start doing or he won't let me come down to visit my mother?



Let's talk about church terminology for a minute. Earlier during Christmas break, my father asked me if I was inactive now. I fumbled my way through the question, heavily implying that I was inactive only because I was poor and needed to work weekends, leaving the implication open that I would go to church if I could.

So... yeah. I felt disgusting the entire time. And what's more, my hackles rose the instant the term "inactive" was applied to me. I didn't think too much on it at the time, but now that it has stewed a bit in the back of my mind, I think I can articulate better why it makes me feel the way it does.The church has a way with labels. Everyone has one or two that are applied to them, willingly or no. Return missionary. Bishop's daughter. Spiritual giant. Intellectual. Feminist. And so on. Anybody who has not been to church becomes less active, and then after a longer period of time, becomes inactive.

Less-actives and inactives become a special pet project, something to feign interest in until they've been shepherded back in the fold. Likewise, because they have fallen away from the path, they are given a special sort of status within the system. Simultaneously looked down upon and held in a special place. Kind of the way a child will act out for attention, inactives are held as inferior. It rankles, I'll be honest.

It is a handy little way to label, belittle, pity, and show how righteous you are all at once. When you talk about inactives, you are by necessity gossiping, but it is in the name of bringing them back to the fold, so the Lord won't mind. You tsk tsk and talk about how they must not want to live the covenant, all the while sitting smugly (often subconsciously) knowing that you are living the convenant, you are strong enough, choice enough, elect enough to live the law God has set forth, but this poor inactive soul has fallen down.

I never realized how condescending and how Us vs. Them the whole "inactive" label is until I had it applied to me. Now I know.