Wednesday, July 31, 2013

your horoscope this week

ARIES: Something big is happening this week! It's going to be huge. It will either be really awesome, or really terrible. It all depends on your attitude! And how much money you have in the bank.

TAURUS: Listen. There is nothing wrong with you, other than the fact that you are a human being. There is no reason for you to feel intimidated by someone just because they are smarter, are in better shape, or have a much more exciting life than you do. You have an exciting life, too! You just share it with yourself. Your good ole plain awesome self.

GEMINI: Someone incredibly sexy is waiting for you in Great Britain.

CANCER: I like this new empowered you. You are taking the world by storm. There's no stopping you - no mountain you can't conquer. Just one word of advice: even though you are busy getting empowered and conquering mountains you can still send me that $24.95 you "accidentally" put on my debit card when I left my wallet in your car last Thursday.

LEO: Stop it with the good looks! Seriously, stop it!

VIRGO: You've heard the phrase "fake it 'till you make it?" Well, you are faking it and still not making it! Wake up! Everyone can tell you are just phoning it in. Nobody likes a faker. Remember when your sister pretended like she couldn't walk, and she wheeled herself around in a wheelchair but you knew she was faking it so you wheeled her to the top of a hill and pushed her down? She landed in a river and, sure enough, she was lying! That was an important lesson.

LIBRA: Nobody should have to deal with embarrassing athlete's foot. You least of all. Have you tried Dr. Scholl's foot powder? Oh, who am I kidding? Everyone has tried Dr. Scholls! What about cumen powder and a wedge of cumquat?

SCORPIO: I caught your eye the other day, and I knew what you were up to. I always know what you are up to. But murder? That's going too far. This week, please focus on not killing people. It's just not funny.

SAGITTARIUS: What kind of fool do you take me for? Jeezy Creezy, I wasn't born yesterday! You and I both know that, whether you can believe it or can't, it's not butter. It's a spray on margarine, and pretending it isn't doesn't help anyone.

CAPRICORN: This isn't meant to be a criticism, but I saw you shopping at Hot Topic the other day and I thought you were a janitor. I don't mean anything by that, I just was suprised to see you in there trying on awesome/ironic t-shirts. I mean, it was funny! Like funny weird. I guess I'm saying you are too old to shop at Hot Topic.

AQUARIUS: I'm sorry everyone thinks you look like the Fonz. You should move your office out of a bathroom stall, and you should act more like Potsy.

PISCES: Are you still singing that "Call Me Maybe" song? Dude, everyone has moved on! Try being a little more 2013.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Jams

I did not post earlier today because my family and I are at a Family Reunion with my parents and all my siblings and their spouses and all of our kids. That's 50 cousins. We've been out at the lake all day today and now we are home and everything - our minds, our skin, and our patience levels - are fried. It was a great day. 

We roadtripped it for this family reunion, and that, of course, required a Summer Mix on the ol' iPod. Truth be known, that mix was made a couple of months ago. I totally make seasonal iPod mixes. I make them for summer, autumn, and Christmas. But nothing for January through May, because that would just be obnoxious. Amirite? Wayyyy overboard. Reign it in there, Charles McMusic. 

So, we are at the end of July and well into summer, folks. May I ask what's on your summer play mix? We always create a mix of some current jams as well as classics, oldies (80's), and real oldies. And we'll throw most stuff if there that has "summer" in the title. But not everything that says "summer." (I'm looking in your direction, Richard Marx, with your Endless Summer Nights and your whatnot.) And don't you have memories of summers growing up - and there are songs that totally remind you of that summer, and even though they don't really have anything to do with summer, you kind of want to listen to them and include them in your mix? GO AHEAD! This is America! You can do it! 

Here is a sampling from our mix. Keep in mind, there are almost 10 of us in the car. Two adults plus kids ranging from 16 to 2. Everybody has an opinion. But these are ones we can agree on. 

Craigs 2013 Summer Play List
Summertime - The Sundays
Strawberry Swing - Coldplay
On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons
Rain in the Summertime - The Alarm
Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Mostly because Katie knows all the words and it's adorable to watch her sing it.)
These Are Days - 10,000 Maniacs
A Summer Song - Chad & Jeremy
Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters
Surfin' Safari - The Beach Boys
California Girls - The Beach Boys

What am I missin', friends? Shout 'em out. I'll write them down. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The other Pioneer, William Brewster, and Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner

I don't know. I think I like this Pioneer Blu-Ray home theater system:

These noise canceling ear buds would be nice too:

We REALLY need one of these. I can't hear any of our movies.

Also I'm a descendant (on my mother's side) of one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact, William Brewster. Talk about a pioneer, amirite?!

Sign that Compact, puritan!
Other notable Brewster descendants include:

Roger Nash Baldwin, co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Thomas Pynchon, novelist
Cokie Roberts
Nelson Rockefeller
Brewster H. Shaw, NASA astronaut
Elisabeth Shue
Henry Stanton, abolitionist, social reformer
Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States

See the resemblence?
Julia Child
Bing Crosby
Ted Danson
Howard Dean
Katharine Hepburn
Ashley Judd
John Lithgow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Seth MacFarlane
Sarah Palin

Update: This past weekend I learned I'm also related to Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. She is best known as the young woman who, with her sister, Caroline, rushed to save unbound sheets of revelations while a mob was tearing down the printing office in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. And for being one of Joseph Smith's wives (while she was already married to Mr. Lightner). Deseret Book has a bio sketch here.

So, Happy Pioneer Day, readers! Go buy some stereo equipment and do your genealogy. You never know what you may find.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's time, Marshmallows

Here's a little secret about how things run at Part Time Authors. See, even though all the other guys are WAY better writers than me, I function as sort of the manager of the site. I don't know how or why that happened. Probably because I am the most bossy. Also because, as I said, all the other guys are better writers than me and I want them to have a reason to keep me around (I have the password to the email.)

Part of my job as manager is picking our bi-weekly themes that we use to ease the burden of having to come up with a topic every week. This week, I picked "Pioneers" because it's Pioneer Day in Utah, and we are nothing if not a bunch of Utah-living guys. I thought certainly the topic would be interpreted loosely and creatively, like maybe in your family whenever you sing "They, The Builders of the Nation" in church at the end when the line says "Blessed, Honored Pioneer" you alternately sing either "Liar, traitor Pioneer" or "Fresh Raspberry Pie-oneer" because it makes you giggle. (Wait, that's only my family? OK.) But then everyone went and wrote REAL, INSPIRING stories about ACTUAL pioneer ancestors. Their stories were touching and amazing and inspiring and lovely. So now I am not sure why I picked this theme. Maybe I should choose themes that I actually have something to write about.

So, instead of an inspiring post about pioneers, I am leaving you with something I can't stop thinking about. As I have mentioned before I have an undying love of a little TV show from the early aughts called Veronica Mars. And I helped fund a kickstarters to help make that TV show into a movie. And so did 1 billion other people. So now, the movie is happening and this week the trailer was debuted at Comic Con in San Diego. Please do enjoy:

I mean, COME ON! Are you dying? I have watched this about 100 times so far. It's just too great. And you better believe that my wife and I will be at this movie on opening night, dressed in Veronica Mars costumes (Or maybe just T-Shirts.) And if you have never seen Veronica Mars, it's not too late. Get the DVDs from Netflix, have a marathon and get ready for the movie. You're welcome.

Blah, blah, blah, pioneer legacy. Blah, blah, blah, ancestors. Blessed, honored, pioneer.

o pioneer

This is my great-great-great-great Grandfather and namesake, Christopher Layton. He was really awesome and he settled towns and won the Mormon Battalion and got so hungry once that he boiled his saddle and ate it, but I'm not going to talk about all about him, much as I would like to. I'm in Europe leading students around and I'm strapped for time. So since we're doing a little Pioneer-themed week, I'm going to just point you back in the direction of this Pioneer blog I wrote last year. I hope you enjoy it. Again. Nothing much has changed. I'm totally still a Momo!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

True, But Still A Story.

So yesterday Ken was spouting off about his Mormon Pioneer Ancestry, and I had the same thought as you..."Oh, Game ON!!!"

My Great Great Great Great Grandfather was (or is) named James Campbell Livingston.  One day I asked his Great Great Great Granddaughter (my Grandmother) to tell me the story of my Mormon ancestors and being the head of the Livingstons...she did not disappoint.

"He had a hook for a hand!"  She lead with a shocking but true fact to really reel me in (pun intended).

"A HOOK!"  I cried.  "Was he born with it?" She looked at me disgusted.  "You aren't born with a hook you nit wit, you get a hook. Something happens and they have to give you one. Now sit down and I'll tell you the story."

And so she did.

"He was from Scotland and he dumped his family to cross the ocean and then most of America to get himself to Utah where those Mormons were building a huge stone temple in the middle of the desert. Turns out they wanted to make it out of the granite from the huge mountain next to the lake of salt and, it turns out, my Great Great Great Great Grandfather was a stone cutter back in Scotland. So they put him to work and soon he was the foreman over the whole quarry."

"Yes, I know all this, G-ma.  Everyone does. And then one day while he was using dynamite to blow granite out of the mountain, he blew his arm off."

"Well, if you knew that then you knew he had a freakin' hook!"

It was true.  The whole family knows he had a hook.  And also that he was a polygamist and married his wife's uglier sister cause no one else would.

"Well..."She said, and in true Livingston fashion and not wanting to be outdone she told me this story...which is true so don't bother looking it up.

"Once, while the Mormons were building their temple out of rock from a mountain in the middle of a desert next to a lake of salt, an army showed up to check in on was the US army to be exact and they were led by a guy named Johnston, whom President James Buchanan sent to "restore order and forcibly install a new governor to replace Brigham Young." Well, Brigham Young, was super into being the governor and so he called a meeting for all the Mormon men to know, a meeting.  He told them all that he wanted to send someone up to check out this fresh army camped out on the mountain.  Several men volunteered, and your (GGGG) Grandfather, in true Livingston fashion, was not one of them.  But eventually, Brigham Young stood behind James Campbell and rested his hands on his shoulder and said, "The right man has not volunteered." Well, we may be a lot of things, but we know how to take a hint, so James volunteered to go check out the army."

"Hold on, Grandma, where are you getting your information?"

"It's from his own journals!  He was a very faithful writer in his journal and he wrote all this down, the army, the shoulders, the whole thing! Now stop interrupting, I can't remember where I left off when you keep interrupting...SEE!"

"He had just volunteered to go check out the army."

"RIGHT! Be quite! SO, he hatches a scheme, and in true Livingston fashion, it's a dream of a scheme and it goes like this; he whips up a barrel of this was back when Mormons were only encouraged not to drink, not like now where they get all up in your grill over a Diet Coke, so he must have had a barrel full of Brandy that he was being encouraged not to drink...and I suppose he hadn't or it would have just been an empty barrel...or maybe it was the neighbors, who knows, he doesn't specify, but he takes this barrel of Brandy and puts it on the back of his might have been two barrels, yes, I think it was two, in which case I'm sure they would have been the neighbors.  So, he drives his wagon up the mountain straight toward the hostel US army.  Then, in true Livingston fashion, he avoids conflict and dumps the two barrels right next to the army and then heads on up the mountain.  Well!  You know what happens next..."


"The army snatches the barrels, drinks the brandy until they are good and drunk and then your (GGGG) Grandfather comes back down the mountain snatches some soldier and takes him back to the secret meeting of Mormon men!"


"It's true. Then they steal the soldier's uniform, pay him off and send him into the night (that part's a bit  dodgy but she forever sticks to it) and then your Grandfather puts on the uniform and heads back to camp.  The next morning the army, all hung over and idiots to begin with, don't notice that Private Sanchez is now got a deep Scottish brogue."

"Are you kidding?"

"Only about the name of the soldier.  We don't know his name but we do know that your Grandfather took his place in the army."


"Well, to SPY! Keep up!"

"Ah yes."

"AND, he does such a good job that Johnston makes him his personal messenger. Which means that he is handed every message from General Johnston and President Buchanan who was waiting to hear if the Mormons were building temples in the desert. So he took every letter to Brigham Young first and then on to the President."

"Which they were."

"Where what?"

"Building temples in the desert."

"Not then they weren't!  They covered the temple's foundation with dirt so the army would think they were just building a field with no crops in the middle of the city."

"So what happened?"

"Well, it worked.  The army rode into town and saw that the Mormons were ready to burn the whole city to the ground and for what?! An empty field with nothing growing in it.  Also, President Buchanan was getting guff back in Washington for deploying an Army without doing a little research first, turns out, that was as popular then as it is now!  BLAM-O! Look how political I've become in my waning years!"

Okay, so she didn't say that last part, but every other part she told me. And then to top it all off she whipped out my Great Great Great Great Grandfathers journals and there it all was.  Just like she told it, the barrels of whiskey, the soldier swapping, the letters to the President, all of it.  It was true. And I was so proud. And I am proud today to write it all down for you. You see, it's in my blood. I come from a long line of ancestors who really, really love to tell a good story.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Own Private Legacy

When we speak of the Mormon Pioneers, we can’t help but speak reverently of their legacy of sacrifice and devotion. I, myself, am I descendant of John Tanner. John was an entrepreneurial kind of a guy. He owned several farms and orchards, as well as a hotel in upstate New York. He received an impression that he was needed in Kirtland, Ohio - so he sold those farms and orchards and that hotel, and packed up his family Christmas morning to head 500 miles east to Kirtland. When he got there he found the mortgage on the temple site was due. He loaned money to the temple committee and to the Prophet Joseph Smith, personally. He then donated liberally to the cause. When he left Kirtland he had $7.50 to his name. Years later, in Nauvoo, he was called at the age of 66 to serve a mission. Leaving his wife and 14 children he was on his way out of town when he passed the prophet. Joseph said, "John, what of the $2,000 I owe you." John responded, "It's yours. You owe me nothing." The prophet put his hand on John's shoulder and said, "Bless you, Brother Tanner. Your posterity will never beg for bread."  

Many times in my life I have been the recipient of that promised blessing. As a child, as a husband, and as a father. And inevitably, I reflectively ask myself what I will be known for by my posterity. 

I mean, you have to wonder what kind of legacy you are leaving for your children when they make astute observations like, “I can’t wait to be a dad – you get to stay up every night eating ice cream and watching TV!” Apparently I have painted quite a picture of fatherhood for my three sons. “Yep, that’s all there is to it, my boys! You put in your time as a youth spending grueling hours making forts out of the couch and playing Wipeout on the Wii; and then in a few short years, you’ll be living the high life with Haagen-Dazs and Seinfeld reruns. Life just gets simpler and simpler, I tell you.”

What kind of legacy would I like to leave my children? Oh, I suppose I’d like them to say …

My dad was the wisest person I ever knew.
My dad could solve any problem.
He never said a bad word about anyone.
He was the most patient man in the entire world.
I remember when he made his first $1M at age 43. (Next year!)
My mom always commented on how great he looked in a medium t-shirt.

However, my flaws and selfish indulgences are incessantly on parade at my house. It’s difficult to hide them when there are seven pairs of eyes watching. Somebody is always seeing something. So if you were to ask my children this afternoon how they would remember him…for better or for worse, it might realistically sound more like this:

My dad was do-it-yourself-home-repair-challenged and he hyphenated words far too often.
He knew a little too much about a lot of 80s and 90s pop-culture.
He couldn’t tell you the name of a single player of any professional sport.
He was his most impatient when we were whiny, which he always said was an expression of ingratitude.
My dad valued friendship. Especially mine.
He loved telling stories.
He could not dance or sing, but he loved dancing and singing with me.
I knew how to make more meals than my dad.
My dad was honest.
I felt emotionally and physically safe with him.
Though imperfectly, he tried all his life to be a better follower of the Savior. 
More than anything else, my dad loved my mom.

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's my depression and I'll cry if I want to

In 2003, my final semester of college—at the age of 31—I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Or Major Depression. Or Clinical Depression. The three are roughly the same thing, from what I gather on WebMD. But I think the term the doctors used at the time was Major Depression. Let's go with that.

I think the pressure of finally closing out a nine year off-and-on college journey was the straw that made the camel want to kill itself. Thus, I started having "cuckoo time". I was going along doing great and, over the course of about a few months, I started thinking, "I'm going to fail. And I'll never graduate. I'm worthless. I'm 31 and can't finish college. Life is horrible. It'd be better if I were dead. How can that please happen?" 

Depression symptoms generally go like this:
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping almost every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Significant weight loss or gain
Those are the big ones. Those who've had it, either chronically or in episodes, know how it feels. Some who haven't think you're just lazy and sad and could just use some exercise and Jesus.

"Real depression – clinical depression – is something else. It’s being down in the dumps times a hundred. It’s being down in the dumps times a hundred, and you feel like there’s no way to get out of it, and you hate yourself for feeling that way, and all you can do is cry, and would you just look at how fat you are? No amount of ice cream or sympathetic friends or CDs by The Cure can help it. It’s a chemical thing in the brain. It’s a PHYSICAL problem, just like the flu, or having red hair, and just as awful."—Eric D. Snider, writer, friend, and film critic

Getting Help: Round 1

When I finally went in to talk to a doctor, they screened me and asked me questions and basically I had all of these symptoms and had had them for a while without realizing they were depression. And what appears to have happened was double-depression. I had major depressive episode on top of the probably-already-existing condition of dysthymia. But what brought it on? Again we can turn to WebMD:
  • Grief from losing a loved one through death, divorce, or separation
  • Social isolation or feelings of being deprived
  • Major life changes -- moving, graduation, job change, retirement
  • Personal conflicts in relationships, either with a significant other or a superior
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
Did you catch it? Graduation. But let's go back a little farther into my past and see what else pops up as possible contributors.
  1. In 1993, 1998, and 2002 I had three major breakups with women I honestly thought I was going to marry. I learned that at least two of them were cheating on me. In each instance, I became socially isolated for a time and then lashed out with frequent heavy alcohol use. Also, I was a horror to date for not being emotionally available for long periods of time, missing out on really connecting with some great people.
  2. From 1981 to 2001, I lost all four grandparents, a great grandma, one baby brother, two of my best friends and my oldest sister. The two friends and my sister were suicides.
  3. My parents divorced in 1989.
  4. From my birth until I was 19, I moved 12 times. From 21 to 31, I think it was another 8. Moving is hard on the mind.
  5. From age 21 to 31, I changed jobs 9 times.
In early 2003, my life looked like this: wake up, school, homework, work, 5 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, more TV, the occasional social activity, Del Taco, write poems, play guitar, do some improv, smoke, drink, and make out with various ladies. Now some of you will say, "What's the problem? That sounds amazing." Well, I thought it was fun at the time too. Except for the death thoughts part. That sucked. I was looking for ways for it not to suck. But it pretty much really sucked.

The doctors prescribed Zoloft and counseling and off I went. I focused and graduated. By July of that year, I had quit the Zoloft cold turkey because I was a happy college grad and thought I had a handle on things. (One of the things about depression meds is that you're never supposed to quit them without a plan to wean and lower dosage.) Things seemed to be fine.

The Lifesaver of Comedy

Now, I know there are plenty of other people with lives that have been harder than mine. They've had really rough challenges and never got depression. That's ok. I think those people are fantastic. Adversity is something we all face and people without chemical imbalances in their brains are inspirational to me because they are examples of techniques that can help anyone, including me.

My lifesavers were, and continue to be, acting and improv. They take a lot of time and effort but nothing ever soothes me like studying a character or comedy principles and performing with amazing and brilliant people. I honestly think that, from 2000-2011, being regularly involved in forms of comedy saved my life. Performing it, learning it, reading it, watching it. It all was medicine for me. I don't know how many people know this about me.

"There are people who know what it feels like to be cripplingly introspective –- who embrace their oddities and express them without fear of reproach. Those people are comedians. Even if you’ve never experienced a mild case of the megrims, the comics in whose work I’ve found solace are universally funny and insightful. As a group, they tend to have a mordant, self-deprecating wit and a few among them may be misanthropic to a fault, but I’d describe myself that way too. For that reason, I have ... comedians ... to thank for playing a part in preserving my sanity."—Rebecca O'Neal, comedian and writer for

Getting Married and the Relapse

Fast forward to 2006. I got married in June and life looked to be on the up-and-up. And it was, for the most part. I'm glad it happened. I was actually in a good headspace and had been for about two years. Amelia and I and the kids were generally having a blast. Except … I started feeling anxiety about my new role as husband and father/father figure. I began to stress about providing for four people instead of one, including money, food, shelter, and clothes as well as their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. I stressed about my relationship with the kids' fathers. At the time, depression triggers and symptoms were everywhere, but I just simply thought the reason I was doing things wrong, getting irritable, fighting with my new wife, and avoiding everyone for long stretches of time was because marriage is hard.

I should interject here that I don't think I come across as someone with depression to most people. On the outside and in social situations, I think I hold it together pretty well. I don't know, you tell me. Maybe I scream "depressed creative tortured artist" type everywhere I go. If I do, please let me know.

Anyway, it was hard on everyone and it was just the beginning. In 2007, we moved from SLC to Provo and into the house of hell that has been well documented on Amelia's blog. I was already having a hard time and, when we found out how much needed to be done to fix the problems, I shrunk away instead of rising to the task. This caused more disappointment, guilt, and self-worth issues. I threw myself into a new job, a video game, plays, and my improv group The Thrillionaires. I continued to be an inconsistently irritable and constantly unavailable, especially toward my family. I tried to be brave and happy to the public. I exercised. I tried to pray it away. Prayer is good for sure and there were always nice moments mixed into life which I was grateful for. We went on a couple family vacations, things like that.

In 2010, I backed out of ownership of The Thrillionaires improv group which was hard but for the best. In 2011, the company I worked for was bought by another. They proceeded to suck any remaining joy out of the nice culture and any joy I had at work. We moved again in the the fall of 2011. In April of 2012, after an astoundingly harsh yelling match with Amelia, I sought counseling. I met with a great psychologist and I was reminded of techniques I was taught back in 2003 as well as some new stuff to take responsibility of getting better. Things started to look up.

Last June, in the middle of counseling, I got a new job. Then Amelia's heart stopped working. She got her pacemaker. Then something happened to me. Faced with the possibility of another devastating loss and knowing she'd need constant support, I knew I had to get and stay "better." Be stronger.

Meds and Supplements

At this point, I was pretty functional with my depression day to day. Occasionally, I'd sleep until Noon and have to call in sick but most of the time I'd get to work and do my job. With the new job, things again started to get better but by November I was back to the same symptoms. Pressure and expectations at work were piling up. So were the medical bills. I finally sought out a doctor and was officially diagnosed with depression (again). I was reluctant to go on meds (again). I was put on Wellbutrin this time. It helped for a while and then started to lose its effectiveness in February. I started taking a supplement called Q96 which is basically a bunch of natural minerals and things in pill form. In less than 10 days, I was feeling better than I had, mentally, in about 25 years. I remain on a lower dose of Wellbutrin and the Q96 supplement to this day. I've learned that unsupplemented I would again feel paralyzed with grief, doubt, inadequacy, pain. I'd have to spend days waking up thinking, "This is just what I have to do. For my wife. For my kids. I can't die. They need me." Right now, because of meds and supplements, I don't have to do that anymore.

"Everyone wanted me to go on medication, except me. I felt that it would be weak to do so and that I could soldier through and get a handle on it. But everything got worse and it was terrifying … If you know me personally, all this information may surprise you, as I think I generally have a pretty sunny demeanor. For most of my life, I’ve been a happy, optimistic guy. But for whatever reason, I’ve had depression of a serious, life-threatening nature rear its head a couple of times."—Rob Delaney, comedian, Twitter star, and depression sufferer

Why do I tell this story? Why now? I'm pretty good now. I guess I needed to. And I needed to see a light at the end of the tunnel before I could be honest about it or even start to talk about it. I tell it because maybe it will help someone. Maybe I can be of help to someone. I tell it to be accountable. Today I feel a full range of emotions. Most of the time they are happy ones. I don't cry for no reason 10 times a day anymore. I think I'm less crazy and irritable. I think I'm more pleasant to be around. I have big goals and plans for myself and my family. I have great friends, including these gentlemen of PTA, and I hope we can all get together sometime and have a dance party and ice cream together.

To those facing it too, you aren't alone. Ask for help. Try to have courage. Keep waking up and facing it head on. It can get better.

"There is something that happens in the middle of the night, when you turn around and see nothing but darkness ... This is the despair of the night, a despair that calls up what Napoleon called two o clock in the morning courage. The most hectic person, the most frenzied fellow, deep down, if he wakes up at two in the morning, knows it is dark, and he is alone. To continue with life in the face of that knowledge requires courage. Courage is the virtue that provides the solution to the problem of despair. To make the choice to live and not commit suicide, to make important choices in life about marriage and work, to accept failures and keep trying—all this requires courage."—Nassir Ghaemi, author of "On Depression: Drugs, Diagnosis, and Despair in the Modern World"

Edited since originally posting for errors, clarity, link additions, and structure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

i care what you think

Do you like these shorts?

I just bought them yesterday. I am in London. It's crazy hot here this summer, and I needed to buy some shorts. So I went to Primark, the white trashiest and, consequently, hippest store in London. And these were the shorts I bought.

I like them. I like the length, for one thing. I like the fact that I'm not always worried about my g's poking out the bottom. When I turned thirty I swore I would no longer wear shorts since I have poky chicken legs and anyway nobody likes dads in shorts. But here we are, eleven years after that fateful pronouncement, and I've slowly started wearing short again. It didn't happen overnight, though, this recommitment to shorts. It happened slowly, bit by bit, until it was a formidable "thing." Not unlike, say, the perpetuation of a lie, or the Hindenburg disaster.

I also like the color of these shorts. But therein lies the problem. I can wear these shorts with comfort and ease on the streets of London. Gentlemen wear such colored shorts here. Raspberry trousers? Wha? No big deal. But when I'm back home, when I'm wearing them to, say, Lowe's in Orem on a Saturday morning, it's a different story. Brave people might ask me about these magenta wonders (are they knickers, maybe?) but most people will just look at them and then quickly look away. We cannot face what we do not understand, and that includes all things aubergine.

So it's a conundrum. I come over here and I want to buy and wear colorful things of all lengths and shapes. Anyway, that's what's in the store. But then I have to bring these things home, and I spend the next year explaining them to friends and family. Last summer I brought home some salmon pants, which my wife loved and endorsed, by the way, but I eventually stopped wearing them because that's all anybody wanted to talk about (why not care about what's happening on my inside? My life is super hard.)

I know that, as an American man, I'm not supposed to care about my clothes or have any opinion about them. I've been known to tell people, in the past, that my wife dresses me. But she doesn't, and never has. It's a shameful cop out. Hey everybody: I picked out these eggplant shorts! I like them! I know they are capri length! I still like them! I'm going to wear the crap out of them. And then I'll probably take them back to Primark they day before we fly home. They were only 3 pounds.

BTW: I invite you to follow my daily London blog here. It's informative and sexy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Undying Love of a Daughter for her Father.

So my daughter is now three.  She can talk and she can put her own pants on, she knows how to use the toilet and she chooses not to.  It's a fantastic stage of life. Of all the skills she is mastering right now, the one she really enjoys most, the one she practices most and with the most revelry is, the eye roll.  I mean she's three.  Honestly, where does she get off.  She needs me to wipe her bum after she goes to the bathroom and she's rolling her eyes at me?!  And the thing is she really practices it. At least once a day I'll get and eye roll that didn't quite take the way she wanted so she'll stop, reset her eyes, and then with all the same over the top distain she'll start again.  I've began to tell her that when you roll your eyes at someone it means you love them more than any other thing on the earth.  Unfortunately, that only solicited yet another eye roll...which was deserved, granted.  I will give her credit for her timing, I mean she's three and yet she knows that an eye roll goes after Dad has said something super duper hilarious and she really wants to laugh but knows an eye roll will illicit a better reaction.  And she's right, I'm blogging about it right this second.

Please don't tell me that I can look forward to many more in the years to come, okay. I got it.  Girls roll their eyes at their dads.  It's clear. Listen, it's not the fact that her eyes spiral to the back of her head when I jump out screaming from behind the shower curtain. It's the fact that she is THREE. One. Two. Three. Where did she learn it?! It's certainly not my go to response when I deem something is beneath me. Quite the opposite, I like to look a thing right in the eye and tell them they are beneath me.  So it's clear. An eye roll is not clear.  It's muddy.  Maybe a fly flew by.  Maybe you are only having a stroke.  There are lots a reasons her face would do that after a well timed, in front of her friends, fart joke. I should have her checked for stokes.

All in all, she still hugs me more than she rolls her eyes at me.  She still laughs hard when she swings in her swing right into the back of my head.  This is really such a fun age.  She is able to tell you what she wants and she can explain to you why she's not going to do what you want.  And she's old enough to be told that if she doesn't listen to me and do every single thing that I ever say, then tusks will grow out of her nose and her feet will turn into hands and we will have to go to the glove store to get her a nice set of black gloves to walk to church in.

Which, I suppose, only gives her one appropriate response...but she's three.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Friends with Kids

(Warning: Don't watch this if you hate happiness, family, or juice.)

One of my absolute favorite things about being a dad right now is that I can feel these genuine friendships blossoming with my children as they get older. 

I love being a dad. I’m not minimizing the hard stuff. Sleep deprivation. The fact that any “personal” belongings are actually viewed as “communal” by anybody under 48.” Hoping your sarcastic remark didn’t do any permanent self-worth damage. And don't forget the weight of perpetual hope that you are somehow instilling every needful virtue, encouragement, and compassion directly into their souls. 

But I think some of my very happy moments lately are when I feel them looking at me like a friend. Still the dad. Still the mentor, or the referee, keeping things in bounds. But also...we’re friends. We have inside jokes. We listen to each others opinions. We’re vulnerable with each other and tell embarrassing stories. We share spiritual experiences. We do impressions of people. (Not of you, but of other people.) Together, we hate the dog that keeps pooping in our front yard. We get excited about going to the Creamery for ice cream, or when we see a preview for a movie that completely blows our minds. 

I’m not doing everything right. But when my daughter is telling me a story and throws in a made up accent because she knows I’ll “get it” and laugh - or when my son is running off to play with friends and invites me to come with him - I feel like I’m doing something right. I feel surrounded by friends within the walls of my home. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Orange you glad I didn't get bananas?

It's Chris' week. (I don't call him Topher. Never have, never will. Sorry, Chris.) After all the great posts, including his, I thought that it would be best for me to close things out with two things:

1. He hates bananas.
2. Present an interview with Chris Clark himself—via his preferred method of communication: text message.

What's the first birthday you remember?

"The first birthday I remember was about age three. We lived in Littleton, Colorado. My Grandma Clark came to visit and she gave me a gum-ball machine. I also got a little trike which I rode in some puddles."

What are the five most memorable birthday presents?

"1. A Might Men and Monster Maker 2. A Weeble-Wobble Haunted House 3. A sleeping bag that was a giant lifesaver! 4. A DVD player from my friends. 5. My mission companion fed an old lady bananas at a rest home so I didn't have to."

Have you ever lied about your age? When? Why?

"Yes. I used to say I was 13 to get into PG-13 movies even though nobody ever asked or cared."

If money was no object, what would you ask for for your birthday?

"I would actually ask for money, even though it's no object. I would pay off my house. Or pay off my student loans. I think if I could just ask for $100,000, I would be in super great shape."

Why is The Host your favorite movie this year so far?

"There's just something magical about it. And I relate to it. I also have really blue eyes. And I have a bratty, horrible teenage girl in my head. I also love to grow wheat in caves and eat nothing but breadsticks and rolls."

What can I get you for your birthday?

"A pony. A hug. $100,000."

Happy birthday, Chris. When we first met and ate Del Taco while watching Alias, I thought we'd be great friends. I'm glad I was right. You're the bee's knees.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

True Friends Will Tell You What They Want

This picture has nothing to do with my post. But it is Topher's brithday party last year. It was a costume party, because of course it was. 
Topher has been my friend for a long time. And of all my friends, he is one of the few who's birthday I actually remember. The main reson for that is because he always lets you know when his birthday is coming. And he always tells you what he wants. Which I appreciate. You'll say, "Chris, what can I get you for your birthday?" And he'll say "Well, you can either get me the Elizabeth on DVD, but I think my mom is getting that, so you should get me the LA Confidential DVD." (This was, obvs, a conversation we would have had in the late 90s.)

He's not greedy. He doesn't solicit gifts. But if you want to get him a gift, he doesn't need a surprise, or sumpin' special that proves how much you know and love him. He just wants something that he wants and so he tells you what it is. And you buy it. And he is gracious and happy and grateful. Transaction completed.

One year in college, Topher really wanted a DVD player. This was when DVD players were big and expensive and rare, like Unicorns that provided director's commentary. He would never have dreamed of asking for one, because he was a poor college student, married to a poor college student with a bunch of friends who were poor college students. But a bunch of us decided to to pool our money and buy him one. Can you imagine having to pool your money with several people to buy a DVD player? I think you can get one now for about $15. Or as a prize in a happy meal. But these were the dark, rough days of the early aughts when technology was big and ugly and expensive. It was a fun gift to give, because I think he was genuinely surprised and delighted and he was the first person I knew who owned a DVD player and it was kind of cool. (And then a few years later he decided to create "Classic Movie Night" where he  would invite us all over to watch classic (read: boring) movies. Have you seen Bringing up Baby? I don't really remember much except it was terrible and about a dinosaur and a woman who was born on the side of a hill. I rued the day we bough the DVD player, then. And it caused me to create "The Dawson's Creek Directive" wherein I do not consume media that was created before "Dawson's Creek." (1998))

So if you want to know what to get Topher for his birthday, you should just ask him. He'll let you know. Maybe his DVD of Bringing Up Baby is getting worn after repeated viewings and needs replacing. Or you could go in with a bunch of friends and buy a really expensive piece of technology. What would that even be nowadays? A 3D Printer? A rocket ship? But whatever you do, don't get him the Elizabeth DVD. I think his mom already got him that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

showered with luck

I don't want to ruin any surprises for anyone, but our "theme weeks" on PTA don't happen randomly. Usually Josh tells us what to write about that week. I like it, because then I don't stew about what I should write that day - I just take the topic and run with it. And stumble with it, and often break an arm with it. But I like these theme weeks, because I like being part of a little train of thought that winds its way through the minds of five different men.

That being said, I thought Josh's choice of "What I am getting Topher for his birthday this year" was a joke, because first of all my birthday is not until July 30. Second of all I just thought he was making fun of me because I always make such a big deal out of my birthday. Last year, when I turned 40, Lisa threw me the best birthday party of all time, and she dressed like Kate Capshaw from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom because I grew up thinking Willie Scott was the sexiest woman of all time.

This year I'll be in London for my birthday. That suits me fine. Of my past seven birthdays, four were spent in London, two were in Paris, and one was in Provo. Truthfully, the Provo one was the best one (Willie Scott!) but they were all memorable and interesting in some kind of Eurotrashy way. For my birthday I like to go eat at Wagamamas, walk around by myself for a little bit, and see a show. This year I'm seeing Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishman. Harvey Porter with a little crutch and an Irish accent! I can't wait.

Today at lunch I ate at Spicy Thai, which is a delicious Thai place in Provo where you can watch Thai music videos of people shooting guns and beautiful ladies getting slapped in slow motion by mobsters. I try not to watch that video, but it's strangely hypnotic. Anyway, I opened my fortune cookie and it said "You will be showered with good luck before your next birthday." And I thought to myself: luck - isn't that what I really want?

Don't I really want to drive to and from work and hit every green light? Don't I want to put on some pants I haven't worn in a while and find a $10 bill in the pocket? Don't I want to wake up one morning and have perfect vision and a head full of hair? And in the immortal words of Daft Punk: I'm up all night to the sun, I'm up all night to get some, I'm up all night for good fun, I'm up all night to get lucky! (I guess those lyrics are kind of dirty.)

But luck doesn't just have to be something that happens in some fleeting, unexplained moment. It doesn't have to be coincidence or magic. It certainly doesn't have to be miraculous. It can also be the sense that everything is ok. I have a great life, and I'm lucky. I have a beautiful family, and I'm lucky. I have a job I love and a steady paycheck, and I'm lucky. I'm super handsome, and I'm lucky (my brothers were not so fortunate.)

I don't need anything for my birthday. I'll probably buy a couple of shirts at Primark (made of cotton/paper, guaranteed to last six weeks) on Oxford Street and I'll get some kind of sandwich at a pub, and I'll probably take some pictures of some old buildings and Instagram them, and that will make me pretty much happy. But a general sense of luck? The feeling that things are ok? Nobody can really give me that. So when I have it, and right now I feel like I have it, I'm just going to be super grateful for it. Happy Lucky Birthday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What Do You Get the Guy Who Has Everything?

So you all have one of those friends, you know the one, who is dripping in accolades, swimming in adoration, drowning in perfection. And then that stinking paramount goes and has himself a birthday and you find yourself standing in a Seven-11 at midnight contemplating making one of those posters where you use candy bars to tell the person they are a 'Big Hunk' worth 'One Hundred Grand'.  Well, it's miserable.

I have one such friend who is having his birthday this week (yes, week; apparently his mother was in labor for 168 hours) and here's the thing...he's got freaking everything! Perfect wife.  Perfect kids.  Perfect house. Gold Lexus. I mean's gold...probably real gold, for crying out loud.

I first met him in his perfect house while being doted on by his perfect wife with two of his perfect kids running around my feet.  I was young and single and dating my future wife and he was old and married and saddled with children and a mortgage, and I remember this clear thought, "I want what he has."  And you know, not in a creepy single white female way...I mean, yes, I thought about moving into his basement and methodically undermining him to his wife, parents, and children and then slowly and steadily easing him out of his own life. I thought about it, but I didn't. But sitting there on his micro suede sofa, I caught a vision of what my life could be.  And it changed me.  I could have stayed selfish, sexy, and single for the rest of my life, but when I met him and glimpsed his well-planned life, I wanted one.

And so, after ten years of cobbling together my own version of his life, I find myself sitting in my own little house with my own little wife and my own two little kids running around my own two feet, and he is to thank. Who he was changed who I was. And I am so lucky to have been given such a moment. And even now, thinking about such a dear friend, and as it turns out, I still want his life. No, like, for reals. So I'm going back to my original plan.  Even now I am crouched in the corner of his master bathroom, typing as quietly as...hang on...
         Okay sorry, typing as quietly as I can, trying to decide if his deodorant tastes more like mountain flowers or hotel air freshener...mountain flowers.

Anyway, I guess the only thing I can give him this year for his birthday, is the gift of myself.  Or rather the gift of myself standing at the end of his bed taking notes of his sleep habits and painting his toes with my eyelashes.

Happy Birthday, Chris. I'm in your pillow.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gifts for a Friend

Just in case you guys forgot – and I’m sure you haven’t, so I’m kind of embarrassed that I’m even bringing it up – but PTA’s very own Chris Clark has a birthday this month. On the 30th. He’ll be 41. You probably want to start thinking about what you’re going to get him. And who better than to guide you through the process than his PTA friends? 

Here are some things to consider. 

Things to NOT Get Chris:
1. Diet Pepsi
2. Any DVDs (or Blue Rays) (or Digital Copies) of Baz Luhrmann movies
3. A Cross-Stitch of the word "Moist" 
4. Denim Shorts
5. The uncanny ability to immediately sense the precise moment something is no longer trending and you and the rest of the culture-savvy world should just be over it. (He already has this, and he would have nowhere to return it for credit, so don't burden him with it.)

Some Things Chris Would Love:
1. Lunch at SmashBurger
2. A court-ordered notice stating, under federal law, that it is illegal for John Travolta to make any more movies
3. A nap 
4. Bacon
5. A real ghost-trap, like the kind they used on Ghostbusters

I already know what I'm getting Chris. And it's something nobody else can gift to him. A dedication.

Back in college, Chris and I were - just for funsies - singing horrible songs from the 80s. (And there is a bumper crop, I don't think I need to tell you.) Anyway, we were doing this and stumbled upon a song that we could not believe we both knew. A song we remain convinced to this day that nobody else knows. A song we somehow magically end up belting out together at least semi-annually. And now I would like to dedicate it to Chris, since it IS his birthday month. And since he will be out of the country on his birthday...well, there's no time like the present.

For Chris, and the readers of Part Time Authors, I give you, Sylvia's "Nobody."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rating 2013's movies (I've seen) so far

Author's note: There may or may not be spoilers in some of these.

Warm Bodies
One of the most creative zombie movies ever. Funny, clever, touching, with a hint of Romeo and Juliet. It gets 3 legs and an arm.

The Place Beyond the Pines
The best movie of the year so far. It's different than anything I've seen. The soundtrack was hauntingly juxtaposing. Great performances. The story really hit me where my longing for past youth and freedom intersects with the honor and pride of fatherhood. I want to see it four more times. 4 Goslings and a Cooper.

Crisp and by-the-book but not great. How many times has Jason Statham played this guy? I never give any thought to Statham yet he is starring in four franchises as of 2013: Transporter, Crank, Expendables, and now Fast and Furious. He's the king of third-tier action movies and, it turns out, I have a weakness for those. I give Parker 2 bullets.

Oz the Great and Powerful
So much went right and so much went wrong. I really liked Michelle Williams and the way Rami matched a lot of the feel and formula of the original. I didn't mind the scorned lover angle. My biggest problem with this movie was the glossiness of it and James Franco, who I love in the right role, i.e., Pineapple Express. It gets 2 balloons and a horse of a different color.

The Host
Ugh. The worst voice-over mind thoughts acting in the history of ever. The look of the movie was really great though, I thought. The story ... meh. I can usually find something in a movie to like. It was really hard here but not the worst movie I've seen. 1.5 glowing irises.

Jack the Giant Slayer
There was a point I fell asleep. It was a lunch matinee. I was tired. Still, I think more people should have seen this. It was a pretty good time except where I fell asleep. 2 and a quarter NoDoz.

G.I. Joe Retaliation
There's nothing G.I. Joe here. Nothing. Except the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow parts. Still, as an action movie, it had its moments. But, what a waste of a franchise this turned out to be. 2 "Yo"s and no "Joes".

This movie. What a boring first half. What an exciting second half and finale! Oh, but then Cruise delivers a gratuitous "Eff" at a climatic moment and my eyes rolled out of my head and into my Coke. 2 clones and a Morgan Freeman.

Evil Dead
Not too scary. Very horrifying. Comically bloody. 3 jugulars and a toe.

Fast and Furious 6
In a world where I pretend there's only been three of these movies (1, 5, and 6), 6 wasn't as good as the other two because what they got right in 5 didn't translate to 6 in the story and acting department. Everyone takes themselves soooooooo seriously in 6. But amazing action sequences saved it. And the runway at the end is 26 miles long. 2 and 3/4 tanks of nitrous.

Iron Man 3
My least favorite of the three. I guess it probably ties with 2. I don't know. There were so many good things and while watching I was having a blast. But afterward I sort of feel like it fizzled out. Partly because my expectations were so high and partly because I didn't really want to see it again, which is normally my mark of a great film. Still, 3 mandarin oranges.

Star Trek Into Darkness
Same problems here as with Iron Man 3. I wanted it to blow me away and make me want to see it three times. It didn't. It's still better than a lot of sci-fi films but ... not even close to the best action movie of the summer. 3 "Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhnns!"

The Great Gatsby
What a gorgeous movie. I'm glad I saw it in 3D (it was shot that way). Maybe too slick at times but better than I thought it would be. Catherine Martin, Leo, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are the reasons this movie succeeds at all. 2 sweet cars and 3/4 of a flapper girl.

No one saw this. It's a shame because it's at least equal to the other animated films of the first half of the year. The "message" is a little heavy-handed but it was fun, cute, and really nice to look at. Oh, Beyonce's voice was not the right choice for the woodland queen lady, I'm sorry. 2 and 1/2 three-legged pugs.

The Purge
My wife had the idea for a similar premis like two years ago. Her movie would have been better. The idea of this film seems great, you get 12 hours of legalized crime, including murder. What are the moral implications? Political? Who would participate? But it simply turns into a home invasion movie. Yawn. Although, there's some good moments, it wasn't good overall. 2 shotguns.

Man of Steel
Eric Snider can explain exactly how I feel about this film here. Or another author can here. Good film overall. Could have been great. I will say that I loved the Krypton parts and the stuff with Costner. 3 speeding bullets and 1/2 a locomotive.

World War Z
My favorite action movie of the year so far. And that's what it is. Don't be fooled. It's a political action thriller. Not a zombie movie. It launches you right in with one of the most gripping first 20 minutes I've seen in a long time and then takes you on an exploratory journey of moral, political, domestic, and ethical considerations. If you've read the book, it's not the book. But it still does the flavor of the book justice. I thought it was great and I want to see it again soon. 4/5 stars. B+.

This is the End
Hilarious. Crude. Over the top. Too long. Michael Cera as you've never seen (or have wanted to see) him before. 3 Twinkies.

Monsters University
Better than Cars and Cars 2. But that's about it. Pixar can't make a bad movie (well, I never even saw Cars 2) so this was a lot of fun. I laughed a lot and so did my kids. 2 Monsters and a 1/2 an Inc.

The Heat
I can't decide if this or This is the End is better. They both were hilarious. I guess I give the edge to this because it was smarter and a little less mean. The chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy is fun to watch. 3 sandwiches.

The Lone Ranger
Sit through a slow, dark, somehow silly two hours and you are rewarded with a really fun, exciting, true-ish to the original, 26 minutes. 2 silver bullets and a half ass.

What do you think? How's this year's movies been treating you? What else should I have seen?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independance

My magical blogger analysis tools tell me that not all of our audience comes from the USA (Which kinda blows my mind. People living in foreign lands, let us know who you are!) But if you do call 'Merica your home, Happy July 4th to you. I hope you are doing something more fun than reading blogs today. I'll be working (boo!) but hope to eat some BBQ and blow some things up later.

July 4th is one of those low expectation holidays that I love more and more as an adult. There's not a lot of prep work for most of us. If you want to have a BBQ, that's pretty simple. Just pick up some stuff at the grocery store and you're good to go. Not a lot of pre-planning required. If you want to set off some fireworks (maybe you don't maybe you hate them (I do.)) you pick some up at the store, put some lawn chairs on the lawn and go to town. If you want to go to a parade, go for it. If you want to play football in the park (That was for you, Chris Liv,) have at it. It's a day to relax, have fun and be happy it's summer. And to be glad that you live in a great country. Sure, we're not a perfect nation (We continue to allow Michael Bay to have a career.) but at least we can say we are a nation of open political dialogue, non-didactic discussions about our beliefs and acceptance of one another's viewpoints. What's that, Great Bird? We don't do that, either? Well, at least we have apple pie.

So have fun today. Be safe. Know that we here at PTA will proudly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. And eat pie. We will stand up next to you and eat pie.  Happy Independance Day!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Last week a friend chastised me on Instagram for posting three pictures in one day. I reminded her that you are allowed to post three pictures a day on Instagram, but only if you are on vacation. And then Brett commented that he didn't knew there were rules for Instagram. Come on, Brett! Get with the picture! Everyone knows, or should know the following:

INSTAGRAM RULES (There's only 10 listed here, but there's probably a billion more)

1. You can only post three pictures in one day if you are on vacation. On an average day you are allowed one picture, and maybe two (but you can't do this every day. And the two pictures better be either linked somehow or posted at minimum 8 hours apart.)

2. You are not allowed to take a bunch of "selfies" with you making duck lips. You are not allowed!

3. Ladies, no pictures of your legs and shoes! Even if you love them. We will not "like" these. It makes you seem bored.

4. Don't overfilter! If your picture becomes too technicolor, it makes us sick to our stomachs. Don't send Wonka pics. (I am guilty of this.)


6. Instagram is a wonderful tool for bragging. Post away. Make us jealous. That's the point! But if you post a big braggy picture (like of your abs) (or you and a celebrity) please don't give us some humble-bragging in the description ("not quite there on my workouts - but close!") ("so blessed to have met Natalie Portman.") Be a bold, irritating bragger! ("Check out my abs!!! I HOTT") ("Yo, I'm hanging with Portman and y'all are in PROVO!!!) Humble bragging is the worst.

7. Are we done with hashtags yet? Is that still a thing?

8. I don't like the new video feature. Do you guys like it? I guess I haven't used it. I have a Droid - does it work on a Droid? I like the picture to hold still so I can look at it. I'm frightened of moving pictures. I will not "like" them.

9. Inside jokes on Instagram? Are they ever a good idea? Ask yourself this: "will more than two people enjoy this picture?" If the answer is no, just maybe text those two people your picture. I don't like being confused about your life and your friends.

10. Let's make a pact. As soon as our moms and dads start using Instagram, we'll all bail. Cool? I think we learned our lesson with facebook, right?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

You Want To Be A Polygamist...You Just Have To Think About Longer.

So the other day we were at the splash park, you know the one, just off Center, and there were these two...well, let's just say it, Polygamists.  Okay, so I can't know for sure, they didn't both marry a man right in front of me and I didn't speak a word to them, but I just sorta knew. You know, the way you just look at a woman with her natural hair colored hair in a waist length braid wearing an ankle length black skirt and plaid flanel shirt with 13 kids at a splash park in 90 degree weather with a similarly conspicuous woman. I guess they could have been elderly goth lesbians and I immediately jumped to Polygamist. Whichever they were, it still works with my thought of, 'Man, it would be hard to be a Polygamist (or elderly goth lesbians) in this day and age.'  I mean, wouldn't it just be so much easier to just go a head and NOT be a Polygamist? That's what this age of the universe is all about, right, making things easier?  You think back to when TV had three stations and there was no such thing as a remote control.  I could probably have been a Goth Lesbian back then when everyones life was hard, but now?  Today?!  Really?  You are still choosing such a hard life?  It's like you just are getting up to change the channel on your TV just because you believe it's better.

Polygamists.  I just don't understand.

However, there is one thing I do understand; and that's that I don't understand.

I have a friend who was once married to a man and now she is not.  When I asked her what went wrong she had a pretty good list, as most people in her situation do, but one thing I will always remember she said was, "He truly believed, if I just sat down and thought about it long enough I would come to the same conclusion he had...always."  And it was for big stuff and little stuff.  Just think about it longer and you will know that we should watch Hoosiers again, over Failure to Launch (which he was right about that one!)  Anyway, it really stuck with me, mostly because it just wasn't true, he told her to go think about all the reasons the bedroom should be painted Navy Blue and she went and thought about all the reasons she shouldn't be married to him any more. So that's how that ended.

I think it helps a marriage to know that the other person in it is going to come to different conclusions then you.  But also, I think it helps to point and click on the edge of that thought and drag it to make it bigger.

I don't really get into politics or social studies or math, mostly because I haven't thought about them enough to really back up my opinion. But I do start to prickel when I hear one person talk about a whole group of people of which they are not a part, as if they have thought it more then said group.  For example:  "I saw this Polygamist at a splash park and those people nut jobs."

How do I know if they are nut jobs?!

I've actually thought about Polygamists a lot.  I live in Utah.  I am a Mormon and the subject comes up.  My Great Great Great Grandfather was one and I am his descendant and I still don't understand why a man would enter into a legal...okay, not legal, but a morally binding contract to be the husband of more than one woman. To be the husband and father of more than one house.  I've been a husband for 10 years and a father for 3 and it's been wonderful but it's plenty enough for me, thanks. But for all of my thinking on the thing, I have never thought about it as much as a Polygamist has thought about it! They have thought about it everyday all day and they still make the choices they make. While there are definite exceptions where people aren't given the choice and people do get hurt because bad people are doing bad thing, this is not about that.  I'm thinking about the run of the the mill Polygamist who knows there is another world out there and has made the choice to live different life.

As it turns out, people do think about the things we sometimes think they haven't given enough thought to. Lots of people think the same way you do. But lots of people do not.  And both sides have given it thought and landed on their position because of those thoughts not because they didn't think.

When the Mormons (and more aptly a "Christian Coalition") took on Prop 8 in California and won, I found myself telling my gay friend, who was very upset at the church's involvement, that he shouldn't be upset, the Mormons were better organized, better funded and got more people out to vote than their opposition, it's called politics and they played better and won.  Then, when gay rights supporters started banning Mormon owned business I found myself defending their right to organize and retaliate, it's called politics and they have the right to a rebuttal, did we think that our involvement would be the last word on the matter?  I remember my mother saying, "This one man, all he did was give a hundred dollars and now there is a picket line outside his shop."  But that's just the thing, you throw your hundy into the fray and you become involved.  Our actions impact other real people.  That shop owner thought about it,  he took a stand and it meant something to him and good for him, he should stand up for what he believes, but it also meant something to his gay neighbor and so he thought about it and then he took a stand and good for him, he should stand up for what he believes. Both men thought about the same issue for a long time and still somehow managed to come to a different conclusion.

And that is why we are lucky.

I love this country. Even for the fact that I get to write this blog post.  It's amazing that I get to get to sit down and think about where I stand and what I believe and then act out on those thinkings.  However, it's even more amazing that everyone else is given that same privilege.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Freedom, the Constitution & Parades!

This is my beautiful daughter, Abbie. This photo is actually several months old, when she got her drivers permit. But it's what I had on my phone. Wait. I do have one more. Here she is with some of her friends. She's in the grey dress, with the perfected photo-head-tilt.

Since this is America and I have a satchel full of awesome freedom, and one of those is the freedom to brag about my children, I wanted to let you know that out of 2,000+ entries from high school students across the state of Utah, our very own Abbie won the Freedom Festival Essay Contest!

The title, assigned by the Speech Contest Chair of Utah's Freedom Festival, was "How Does the Constitution Ensure the Values of Family, Freedom, God, and Country for Our Everyday Lives." And I don't think I have to tell you, but Abbie NAILED IT! (I don't have to tell you this because I already told you she won.)

Part of Abbie's winnings include a check towards furthering her education, parts of her essay being published locally, and finally...she gets to ride on a float in Provo's Freedom Festival Parade for the Fourth of July! Can you STAND IT?! Who doesn't love a parade?

If you're in Provo for the Fourth, be on the lookout for a lovely, poised, articulate young lady who, exercising her freedom to enjoy sweets, will be throwing candy to parade watchers young and old! If you won't be in Provo, hopefully the parade will be nationally televised. It should be. I'd want to see it! Celebrate America by writing your congressman and telling him you want this parade carried by your local NBC affiliate! I'm pretty sure that's how it works. I should check with Abbie first, though. She obviously knows more about this country than me, since she is WINNING CONTESTS!

In all sincerity, I could not be more proud of her. Here is the concluding paragraph of her essay:

The Constitution ensures the values of family, freedom, God, and country.  If we understand and follow the Constitution and strive to live by it and uphold its truths, we will have a better country.  The Constitution was created to maintain a land of freedom.  It is our responsibility, as the rising generation, to become the noble leaders of tomorrow.  We need to grow into adults who can better our neighborhoods, communities, states, and even our nation.  We need to continue our education so we can be leaders who believe, love, and understand the Constitution of the United States of America.

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