Things you should do

  • Hire Alicia Pol for any graphic designing you might need. (I keep laughing about the Downey ones)

  • Read this poem and be awed. (thanks, Annie!)

  • Gain a pretty accurate insight into how I feel all the time courtesy of thelatest xkcd.

  • Listen to the Not my Job with Neko Case. And laugh. Seriously, it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.

  • Read The Post-Birthday World. Sure, it's almost 550 pages long and is mostly about snooker (as in the table game), but I really want to discuss it with someone. I'm not sure it was good, but it got me thinking.

  • Go see Adam. It's a limited release, but it's making the rounds now and it's amazing. I saw it at Sundance (because I'm just that hip). It's one of the best movies I've ever seen. Plus, Rose Byrne! Hugh Dancy! Amy Irving! What more could you want?

  • Fall in love with the music of Blind Pilot.

  • Develop some sort of life plan. Then, feel the relief that washes over you. And, hey, if it doesn't work, you can always just move to Portland, right?

Who needs sleep?

Flying, for some reason, makes me inexplicably crave Taco Bell. Perhaps this is my body's fond memory of landing in Denver at 10pm only to be told that my connecting flight was canceled and I would be spending the night in a hotel. Night, here, of course, was generous. The flight they got me on left Denver at 6 the next morning, so I ended up having something like four hours of sleep after being shuttled to the hotel and getting berated by the Delta customer service representative who claimed that, without a confirmation number, there was no way in the world to make sure I was booked on the early flight. But, before leaving the airport, my stomach demanded food and I ended up eating Taco Bell. Thus, perhaps, boarding a jet triggers some Pavlovian response.

I discovered this craving pattern recently on the airplane rides between Zion and Newark. I was flying out to visit some friends of mine, a married couple who have been living for the past two years in that area and are slated to move to California at the end of the summer. I know it's cliché to talk about conversations picking up right where you left them with friends, even after long periods apart. But, this too was re-discovered for me this weekend. Before the trip, I was a little bit nervous that things would be awkward or at least stilted. Compound this with my inherent panic about demanding too much of someone's hospitality and you can imagine how uptight I was when we touched down.

But, my fears were totally unfounded. The trip went smoothly. My friends and I did, in fact, pick up right where we left off. Even after over a year of not interacting in person, there's still this unbelievable comfort in each other's company. And I was overwhelmed, as I generally am, how these incredible, smart, funny, and generally awesome folks deign to put up with me.

As the trip for me was mostly to see these two, it was a rousing success. Though, it didn't hurt being adjacent to New York City and re-sampling some of things she has to offer. However, a trip based on lengthy conversations and shared jokes, doesn't offer a lot to report on what I actually did.

There is one story, however, worth sharing. As part of his role as trek pa, my friend R. had grown a beard. Apparently his ward is not so cool that he has, in fact, kept it on post-experience. On Sunday, we went to church. In priesthood opening exercises, during visitor introduction, Twirl & I (he sports a goatee and burns, me a full beard) stood up. Following us, another ward member introduced his son, who also wears a beard. He said, "This is my son, visiting from Salt Lake. As you can see the hairstyles out there are quite a bit different." So now, this ward is clearly under the impression that beards are making a comeback out west. I can just imagine the articles in style-forward, Mormon-centeric hot spots, arguing for a return to the gentility of days of Brigham with full beards on every cheek. Though, alongside ads for KneeShorts, these urgings might not make many strides. Oh, plus, there's the whole sticking point about the BYU Honor Code being, oddly, some form of starting point for appropriate displays in matters of appearance.

At any rate, the trip? I was for it. Now, when can I go somewhere again? Montreal, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Omaha, I'm looking in your direction. Any time you want to start wooing me and convince me to come see you, I'll be glad to entertain the idea.

Seek learning, as long as it's practical

Every year, a couple of days before the 24th, the Days of '47 holds a float preview at the South Towne Expo Center. The large room is turned over to shiny, sparkly earnestness. I love going so much. You get to walk right around the floats, try to figure out what the organizers were thinking when they put Africa on the globe backwards and, based on this year's event, can even get a totally incomprehensible double-dog-headed travel pillow for free. The fact that almost everyone was carrying one around proves that people will take anything that's free, no matter how absurd.

Every year BYU puts together a float. This year they went with "Catching the Vision of Freedom" as the play on the theme "Catch the Vision". Around the float, which consisted of a giant Y and the Carillon Tower, they had words. I think they're supposed to be a comprehensive list of things one can study at BYU to reel in freedom.

They were:

  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Law
  • Management
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Athletics (right, this isn't something you study, so maybe I misunderstood their intent?)
Notice anything missing? At first, I thought it was a space consideration, but then realized that Law, Management, Science and Engineering were all repeated on the float. It's nice to know that the planners of the float somehow managed to forget about half of the fields offered at the school, including five of the ten most popular majors. Magic, really.

Dear pre-teen boys who are in the locker room of the gym the same time that I am

Alright, I know that you're trying to be tough and just having a good time, but really, do you need to be so noisy? Or run around so much? And, it's very evident you can turn the showers on. I assume, therefore, you also realize that to turn them off, you just turn the knob the other direction.

While we're discussing showering, those soap dispenser are fun, aren't they? But you know what's not fun? Stepping out of the shower clean and dry and then being caught in the crossfire of a soap fight.

I get machoismo and wanting to fit in, I sure do. But may I suggest that telling your friends, "come look now, I'm really naked," while in the shower is perhaps not the best way to be thought of as not-gay?

As for the being naked, that's sort of awkward, right? So the use of the bathroom stalls to change makes sense. But, maybe you could try to dry yourself off a bit before stepping in? I don't know if you've noticed, but the floor there has some weird low spots. And all that water you've brought in makes the whole area a sort of tide pool situation.

Oh, and that time you removed my pants from the locker while I was showering and put them in another one? Hilarious. Next time, why don't you go for the shoes, too?

Lastly, the shrieking? Can we please do without the shrieking?

Much appreciated,


you were so ugly before that haircut

I usually don't spend much time thinking about my body. Well, thinking about it in a sort of aesthetic way. I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering why it doesn't work like it should. Particularly when not working like it should involves some confusing inability to consume food or inexplicable pains in very inconvenient locations. However, of late, I've been forced more to think about my body as something else.

The first suggestion of this is the number of people who have mentioned my weight. Over the past months, it's true that I've lost some heft. Nothing major, about fifteen pounds or so. And everybody, it seems, is noticing. Which is good, I suppose (even if I wasn't really working on losing weight). I totally get the impulse to compliment someone on this. But, the flip side is that it makes me wonder how fat they must have thought I was before. So, it's sort of a double-edged thing to point out, non?

Also, this morning, I got up early to renew my drivers license. Things went smoothly, until I went to sit for my picture. There were a few others in front of me, so I got to hear the guy taking them ask politely if the person would like another photo taken. He seemed willing and friendly about it. But it was a quick question that almost everyone brushed off and he let drop. Then, my turn came. And here's what happened:

"How does that look?"
"Oh, yeah, that'll work."
"Really? Are you sure? I can take another one."
"Oh, no, no, we're good."
"It's really no big deal. It'll just take a second. You sure?"
"No, I'm fi-"
"Seriously, let's just do another one, shall we?"

The gentle, amicable questioning had turned into a bullying. A sort of "man, that is a terrible picture. And trust me, I work at the DMV, I know bad pictures." So, he took another one. One that looked almost identical to me but, thankfully, was acceptable to him. Maybe, though, he just realized it wasn't going to get any better.

I'm uncomfortable having these sorts of things brought to my attention. I suppose I could always just really let myself go and then dare people to comment on it. It's one solution, at least. Or, alternatively, I could just learn to take compliments or not overthink. But, c'mon, we all know that's never going to happen.

my personal problems are mostly described with homophones

I recently took a little bit of umbrage when my friend informed me that she can't, for all my talk, imagine me being much of a jerk. At least, to someone's face. I know, this isn't the sort of thing most people spend time fretting about. After all, being told, basically, that you're nice isn't an insult. Plus, I seem to do a pretty bang up job of making people mad at me, so the "compliment" seems disingenuous at best. Plus, there's the whole issue of my being nice without its elusive complement of goodness.

I think it struck me so much, though, because there are two things I've been trying to deal with recently in my life. The first is my knack for compartmentalizing various aspects. Giving this one a room over here, shoving that one in a box, being person A at location Y and person B at site Z, etc. Which, I'm clearly not solving very rapidly, as I'll going to just ignore it to move on to the other. The second is my complaisance.*

Part of me thinks this is a virtue. It's a good thing to be willing to bend, to be flexible, to allow room for the needs and desires of others. It's a positive, not being difficult or put out when things don't go your way. Another part of me, though, the slightly more cynical part (read, most of me), is worried that I'm setting myself up for a pretty spectacular failure. Or maybe I'm already there, which would explain a lot of the collapsing in the interpersonal arena I've seen of late.

There's times and places where one should stick up for themselves, should be willing to put their desires and feelings first. It's self-preservation at its most basic level. And, apparently, I lack the drive for that.** Fortunately, most situations my pleasing nature has landed me in have diffused and defused without an inordinate amount of suffering. And, I'd like to think that when it becomes more than just a slick, sick feeling my stomach, I'd be willing to post boundaries and stop trying to please anybody else but me.

Ideally, I suppose, there'd be a balance. But I'm no good at half-measures. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Or rather, I haven't the foggiest of how one goes about making oneself less tied to the fickle whims of others with still interacting with anybody. It's so much easier, also, to just become the person that someone else is looking for. There are few things messier than finding out something about someone that makes you wonder if you should hate them for it. So, see, my not being myself means I'm saving all you that unpleasantness. Isn't that thoughtful of me? Don't you love that about me? (See, I can't help myself!)

I still need to process all this and decides where my lines should be drawn. It's a pretty major overhaul I'm considering right here. And I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the costs. But, (to crib some clichés) at the end of the day, I'll never know till I try, right? So, if I suddenly seem to be fighting really bizarre territorial and alpha dog battles with you, now you'll have a guess as to why. I probably don't mean most of it. Except when I do. The new me, I suppose, is just going to be a bit more difficult to get along with. Please advise.

*True story: I've been a bit addicted to the use of the word complaisant recently. I've replaced my usual "I'm easy" with a casual "I'm complaisant" when asked opinions. Part of it is sort of a litmus test to see if the person I'm writing to knows that I don't actually mean complacent. Most people have failed. It's like Derrida's différence v. différance, but much less clever. And, y'know, in English.

**Not too surprising, given the fact that, come the Apocalypse, I'm turning my face the wall and dying. I'm no mink, what with their exceeding tenacity of life.