Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Profound thought #1: We are not beings meant to be acted upon

Merry Christmas! Let’s start with that, shall we? Why not?!? Can I tell you the unbridled holiday merriment that infected my listless soul this year? I was a regular Miss Holiday Cheer! And I say that without guile or cynicism. I hung holly, turned on the lights on the tree every single day (which we had day 1 of December thank you VERY much) made a Christmas banner, listened to Christmas music until snowballs shot out of my ears, baked cookies, wrapped presents, went to holiday parties, and have generally been soaking in holiday splendor since Black Friday. Why the sudden onslaught of yuletide cheer this year? I think it has something to do with the fact I opted-out last year (and also because of the below! You thought you could get away without a picture of my little guy? Think again!)

Yes, opted-out. I went on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. Why? Well that’s just a lot of blather about wanting to not deal with "that" or face "this" again and mainly – school had usurped the holiday anyway so I figured I might as well add my on usurpation too. Share the load. So I usurped on a beach in Cabo. An excellent decision. In fact, it’s made my “opt-in” Christmas all the more merry as I’ve demonstrated above. I guess it’s true what they say, you only appreciate something once its gone. Shame, that. But never the less… next year I’m planning to opt-out to Costa Rica so the next opt-in will be as full and lovely and magical as this year was.

And now for the profound thought…

I feel that every year of my existence tends to have a theme; or themes a guess. I feel our lives are sliced and diced into sections, experiences, yes even categories and reference logs. In fact, I’d say the media could be partly responsible for this OCD tendency to categorize and organize things… creating order out of chaos.How many books have you seen displayed in bookstore windows exclaiming "For the Mind, Body, and Spirit!" as if ourselves are divided into these various categories like a tossed salad rather than a gooey melting pot. Ordering our lives into sections and then creating benchmarks make improvement and organization less daunting, "This month! I shall work on "the mind!"" and proceed to create a list of ambitious activities and goals to help create a Zenful state of mind which will likely include lists of classical texts, a subscription to Scientific America, and signing up for that Spanish class you've been meaning to take. It helps to order things. After all, we are naturally beings of order and fear chaos; that is to say, we fear the unpredictable, uncontrollable, and heaven forbid the unclean. At least, we don’t thrive in it… the “uns”. Not even nature herself, the most organized of mass organisms, permits chaos for too long. She must order it. Make sense of it. Categorize it. We thrive in established patterns! Even those of you reading this right now claiming “spontinaty is my creed! I answer to no schedules! A pox on organization!” still appreciate an organized shoe rack, your breakfast at 8:30am, and a cup of tea before bed. So take that spontaneity! No more is your disaster of an apartment spontaneous, rather, it’s just disgusting and you and I both know a little order out of that chaos would do everyone a world of good. You're a closet organizationalist or you're just plain unnatural. Pick your poison.

Back to themes and years having them...

The particular theme of this year I’d like to discuss has to do with a valuable lesson I've learned. That’s what I mean when I say “every year of my existence tends to have a theme.” In short, there is a lesson I am to learn each year, philosophical, spiritual, existential, however you’d like to categorize it (and you will categorize it! Stop pretending). I don’t choose the lesson, rather, it chooses me. All I need to do is recognize it. In fact, I don’t even know I’m learning it until I start to notice a pattern, some order in the chaos, pieces of my life that come to form a complete and circuitous whole. In short, each year I hope to have progressed as a human being in some significant way; ideally, a positive way. For if it were a “negative” change, it would in fact be a digression. And no one aspires to digress, rather, is awakened to it on some cold December evening when you look back and realize, “I’m not even where I was before… but somehow less.” A miserable realization that is. In fact, that's almost as bad as realizing you've not moved forward NOR backward but have stayed perfectly stagnate in every way. At least with the other two options there's movement. Thus, I find stagnating slightly worse than digressing.  Anyway, I digress (ba dum chi!).

My lesson/theme this year: we are beings meant to act, not to be acted upon. I think my schooling over the past few years primed me for this valuable lesson in that there was extensive discussion on the idea of accountability. To Webster!

Accountability (Accountable): 1. the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable 2. Subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.

 I find the avoidance of accountability to be the road most traveled by the majority of society. To me, accountability is intricately connected to choice. And what always follows choice is consequence. You must be held accountable for your decision, which makes decision-making risky in some respects. Therefore, the very indecisive are also the incredibly risk averse. It is risky to make choices. It is even riskier when in choosing, you may be called up to be accountable for them. You must justify them. You must stand by them. And in this way, I find that although we perceive that we have very little control over the elements around us, we do have control over ourselves, our reactions, our actions, and our inaction's. We choose to respond. We choose to be effected. We choose each day our own state of mind. Even in not choosing, we are indeed choosing. Action through inaction. There's no avoiding it.

Thus, herein lies the rub. I find that in most instances, we avoid accountability. We don't want to commit ourselves to something and thus, we opt-out. We choose not to choose and in not choosing, we assume we are not answerable to whatever consequences may follow. We prefer to let others make decisions – we choose to be acted upon – and then allow events to unfold as they will all the while knowing that if things should unfold negatively, well heavens we had no hand in it! We made no choice! We’ve chosen apathy instead of agency and feel in this we are safe.We have let life happen to us, rather than leading a life.

Likewise, blaming environmental circumstances that are justly out of our control (or seemingly so)  for our bad attitudes, and apathy, missed deadlines, errant accusations, is something I’ve noticed happens more often than not as of late. Broken homes, irresponsible parenting, societal oversights, unrealistic expectations, all of these things are circumstances that some may think force us into a reaction or state of mind or choice and therefore, we cannot be answerable to the choices we make within these less than ideal circumstances.Oh blame you scapegoat for cowards! I believe to exclaim in the throes of trial, “I had no choice!” is false. There is ALWAYS a choice. The devil never "makes" you do anything. He simply, offers an option, and you either take it... or leave it. Thus it is with undesirable circumstance. You can internalize it, blame it for your life of mediocrity or hardship, or you can leave it for what it is and make an attempt anyway. People who sleep on dirt floors in Madagascar find reason to smile, can we not find reason to rejoice despite our own extremity? 

Circumstance, particularly in a democratic society we are privileged to participate in, does not replace nor control choice. I also feel “circumstances” are more controllable than we would like to believe. It’s easy to let things unfold as we, the weary and subversive soul, are merely a victim of circumstance and cannot help our sorrows or disenchantment. We cannot help that we act the way we do because we were raised in a broken home. We cannot help that we are not living up to our potential because society has dealt us a heavier lot. I say that in fact, we can! I’m not diminishing the reality that there are greater barriers created for some than others because of factors beyond their control, what I’m saying is we choose to let those barriers contain us, and furthermore, hang garlands of accountability on its fence posts. I blame the barrier that I am sitting at the bottom of instead of at least attempting to scale its walls!

Perhaps our melancholy is justified, but it does not justify our stagnancy! We ignore our own ability to choose. We ignore the truly vast ability we have to utilize our agency to its utmost extent and instead, “cop-out” by shaking our fist at the sky or pointing to “environmental circumstance” and saying “you are making me sit down in the dirt and pout!” We are content to be the victim… we visualize ourselves as the unselfish martyr… bearing an unjust punishment for something we didn’t do, but alas, we will bear the burden like the round shouldered Saints we are! And we do so very easily accept defeat because it is easier than choosing to pull ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and exclaim, “ I will not be the victim here!” When we victimize ourselves we've given up. Accepting circumstance is not the same as enduring circumstance. To merely muddle through does not take initiative or strength nor does it build character, but rather, justifies us simply patting ourselves on the back for drowning in an experience rather than attempting to swim to shore. Perhaps we cannot change the deep waters we are asked to tread, but we can choose if we sink to the bottom and wait for the proverbial rescue boat to bail us out. And even then, we WOULD get the most rickety row boat when we deserve a cruise liner for our saintly heroism! We demand reward for our inaction! We demand reward for opting-out! For sitting down in the rain. 


“Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can MAKE us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.” 
– Elder David. A. Bednar

This my profound thought #1 and the lesson I have learned for the year, is that we are beings that are meant to act, and not be acted upon. We may find ourselves the heavy in less than ideal circumstances, but that does not define us as a “victim.” We choose to take on a “victim mentality” and allow circumstance to choose for us… which really in the end… we are still held accountable for our indecision as much as we are for our decision. At least with decision, you’ve gone out with a fight rather than blending neatly into the background. 

End profound thought #1. And Happy New Year! Choose to make it a good one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hobbit

One of my most favorite novels of all time. Yes, you know why... because even the smallest of persons can change the course of the future. Short people are important! THEY ARE!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Cute Little Guy

You just try and prove that you have newborn nephews as cute as this! That's what I thought. These were taken through Lizz Davis Photography. I think she did a pretty fantastic job.



Monday, December 19, 2011

The Worth of You

Recently, I’ve had some close friends who have struggled in negative relationships that have made them question their self-worth and lower their standards and expectations. To this I say, STOP! Stop doing this to yourself.

It saddens me that these beautiful, smart, inspiring women that I have the privilege to interact with feel they must accept poor behavior and mediocre treatment simply because they desire love and companionship. I too desire these things. As a 28 year old single female living in Utah, you better believe I very much desire these things. You could say it’s the greatest desire of my heart. But I have learned, very much the hard way, that such a good desire can blind us to some very bad things. Things that perhaps our close friends and family can see because they are emotionally removed from the situation that we simply choose to ignore in the name of love. Things that will not lead to that happiness we envision, but instead, find us curled up in our bed crying and praying, “Please God, why won’t this just work out?” Love is blind. So perhaps find yourself some trusted friends and family with the eyes to see what you refuse to. 

It’s the Dumb girl (or guy... it slices both ways!) disease. We’ve all been that dumb girl or guy. Glance back at your life and pick out that time or two (or three) where now, because you can look back and see how you’ve progressed and grown and hopefully learned what a wonderful person you truly are, wonder why you ever wasted your time with a relationship and situation that only ever brought you personal pain and heartbreak. The scales of love-blindess will fall from your eyes and instead of begging God for "things to work out", you thank him for not letting you continue in a situation that would have never lead to any sort of happiness. Or, perhaps examine a relationship you are in now; what is your ratio of happiness to negativity? Are they even? Is one far outweighing the other? And for heavens sake, how long has it been this way? Of the 6 months you’ve been dating, have 5 of those months only ever been drama, negativity, tears, and confusion? And yet, all we can think of and all we remember is that one month where things were really great. Or, perhaps, we keep hoping for the tomorrow’s that continue to never come. You can’t change him. You can't change her. Only he can change him. And why would anyone have an impetus to change if their bad behavior is constantly reaffirmed by you, dumb girl or guy, that continues to lower your standards and self-worth simply to be around this person. 

Self-reflect. When you are around them, how do you feel about yourself? Does she make you feel like a hero? Does he make you feel like the most beautiful, interesting woman in the world?  Are all those good things about you amplified? Do you have a desire to progress and be your best self? Note - this is different than feeling guilt and shame of changing your wonderful you to be the person they want you to be - rather - it is a healthy confidence and desire for doing good things that should make you feel uplifted and able - not down-trodden and unsatisfactory. 

Some might say, “Well, not all things are roses. There are always hard times.” And we are all realistic enough to understand that in every relationship , there will be challenges. However, I submit to you that I know some very smart women who make some really dumb decisions in the name of “well, every relationship faces challenges.” To me, challenges are my husband losing his job and though he is working hard to find another one, things are going to be very tight for awhile and we will make it through. Challenges to me are caring for a sick or disabled child, together, as companions. Challenges to me are learning to share your life with another person and understanding that there must be MUTUAL sacrifice and patience if you are going to make it through. Challenges to me are facing rough patches in a very long road of happiness shared together. Challenges are allowing each other to have bad days, of getting over your OCD tendencies and just accepting he has no concept of "put your nasty socks in the hamper", or her chronic lateness. Challenges are pit stops, not the entire journey. To me, challenges come and go but your overall love and respect for each other won’t diminish and in fact, should continue to grow. Disrespect, verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, and selfishness are NOT challenges. These things demean, diminish, and disrupt the goodness that companionship is intended to bring. To me, companionship isn’t the key to happiness, it is the key to an enriched life. A life already being lived. A relationship to add to your already existing happiness and elevate your life to something more fully lived.  If a relationship is not more enriching than it is “challenging”, particularly in the first few months of dating, I submit to you that perhaps you should rethink that relationship before it’s too late. Before you are so blinded for your good desire for lovely things, that you continually dress the wolf in sheep’s clothing yourself. The wolf that everyone else can see is dragging you away from the happy, active, wonderful person you once were. 

I also want to shout from the rooftops to all the women (and men too!) that I know: YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT! You are WORTH dates. You are worth forethought and planning. You are WORTH your doors being opened and you are WORTH physical boundaries and limits. Guys you are WORTH honesty. You are WORTH respect. You are WORTH time and energy and trust in the good you and potential you have. You are worth fidelity. You are worth loyalty. You are worth commitment and you are worth his/her undivided attention. You are worth someone being fully invested.

Ladies and gentleman, your time, your life, your interests, and what you do ARE important and YOU are worth seeking after. Someone who doesn’t believe that isn’t the someone for you.  And though it is always easier said than done to let go, not necessarily of the individual, but the perceived chance at companionship, your individual worth and ultimate happiness is far too high a price to get “sorta” what you want now instead of having patience for a little while longer and getting what you truly deserve later. 

Ladies particularly, truly, you deserve it all. Stop selling yourself short and believe it. Become the good woman that the good man you deserve will seek out. And good men WILL seek you out if you are being your best you while still accepting that we are all a work in progress. So stop wasting your time with the ones who don’t see your worth and prepare yourself for the one that ultimately will.

As for myself, I would truly live a happier life as a single person (gasp! The horror! The horror!) then locked into a life-long unhappiness with someone who I’m constantly having to prove that I’m worth more than what he sees. If you have to constantly remind him (or her) you are worth it - then he's DEFINITELY not worth it and its time to start setting your sights for what is right instead of what is available at the moment. 

End Rant. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meow-ry Chris-meow-us... er... something

A special thank you to Jaime for showing me this gem. And to her husband who, though cheers for the wrong team ENTIRELY, can still understand the enjoyment that is Cats and Christmas tunes. A Catsmus Miracle!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Spirit of the Law

I was shown an article today outlining the banning of skinny jeans from BYU-Idaho campus. Yes, you heard me. The banning of skinny jeans. Don’t believe me still? Enjoy:

First and foremost, this isn’t a rant about skinny jeans propensity for immodesty and what the benchmarks and standards are for what is “too tight… too form-fitting... too “skinny””. What I’d like to bring up is something that has always… what’s the word…. “irked” me about certain rules and restraints upon grooming and dress standards inherent to BYU campuses. Also, this is not a rant about BYU, rather, a discussion on the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law and what it actually means to choose to adhere to principles vs. being forced into compliance by rules.

What irks me most is the lack of individual accountability (intricately connected to agency) that many of these regulations discount. Some of these regulations I see as flirting with the line of “force” vs. “choice.” I understand as a religious institutions, the BYU’s (Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii respectively) they must uphold religious precepts and therefore, cannot very well support or accept lack-luster standards of their student body. Nor can they very well afford to implement regulations without subsequently enforcing such regulations. This I like about the BYU’s and their Honor Codes. Not only are these honor codes rather audacious albeit conservative when it comes to “societal standards” but these standards are not swayed by the whims or fancies of fashion, media, and other “moderninities.” As VP Henry J. Eyring says in the article, “fashions will come and go.” BYU’s student body, for all intents and purposes, actually looks pretty upstanding most of the time. As to what that translates into when you reach into the cockles of the heart or even more simplistically, into the recesses of a dorm room is a different matter. But that’s life… that’s people… no one is perfect. The institution must uphold what it upholds because it's representing a belief system the the world, and I for one admire them for doing so despite the fools who mock.

That said, this lack of personal accountability for your own thoughts, actions, and perceptions of adhering to regulations of the institution you have agreed to be a part of has, once again, gone beyond the realm of self-governance and independent religious commitment and into the realm of force that’s completely based on the personal ideas and standards of whomever happens to be working in the testing center that day. THIS is what I have issue with. What is a standard of “too form-fitting” and how does one decide what is form-fitting and what is not? Who is the ultimate judge of whether a woman’s butt curvature is too accentuated by her jeans that she may not take a test for a class? Should it not be the woman’s decision as to what she feels is appropriate and adhering to the regulations she so agreed to when she became a BYU student? When are the students themselves given the freedom and ability to interpret these standards for themselves? Joseph Smith once said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” Some regulations are not allowing for self-governance and I find this stifling to the spiritual growth and strengthen of beliefs.

I feel that there are instances, much like this skinny jean scenario, where adherence to correct principles goes beyond logic and reason and accountability and essentially, the spirit of why BYU asks its student to dress appropriately. Rather, the letter of the law is blinding the spirit of the law. 

And here is the law via BYU-Provo

 “Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner."

I feel this is a reasonable standard to set for students that attend these institutions, and furthermore, I think that students who sign the honor code should be expected to take personal responsibility for such. 

Here is BYU-I's Honor Code for grooming standards for women:  

A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained at all times. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing. It should not have slits above the knee or be formfitting. Dresses and skirts must be knee-length or longer (even with leggings worn).

Pants, slacks or jeans should not be patched, faded, frayed or torn and must be ankle length—no capris or shorts may be worn on campus. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extreme styles and unnatural colors. Caps or hats should not be worn in buildings. Excessive ear piercings (more than one pair) and all other body piercings are inappropriate. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas. Flip-flops and other casual footwear are inappropriate on campus.

They are basically similar in every way. However, the difference here lies with institutional interpretation being forced upon students or allowing students to interpret this standard for themselves.

There needs to be a line where the institution gets involved and where it is left up to student accountability. In the case of BYU-I, I feel flip flops, overalls (though let’s be honest… no problem there), shorts (at all), and apparently now skinny jeans is institutionally over-stepping the line of self-governance and forcing their students to apply their understanding of the rules “their way.” I recall a little council in heaven where there were two individuals offering to fulfill a heavenly plan and one was about CHOICE while the other was about FORCE. Mull that over. Naturally there will be those students who roll into the Creamery with cleavage up to their eyeballs and attempting to pass of their boy-cut panties for shorts exclaiming, “This is how I interpret the Honor Code!” In such extremity, clearly, the institution is without question required to address such instances. But again, I’m not talking about the black and white – I’m taking about the gray that encompasses self-governance simply because individuals think, feel, interpret, and apply principles differently. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Then again, I went to the University of Utah.

I think this would also be an appropriate time to point out the difficulties of trying to adhere to strictly to a grooming code given the mirage of body types that make up college campuses. I am containing most of my comments to females as grooming standards tend to effect them more so than men. Something that may seem revealing or low cut on a woman who, say, is very busty, and has significant butt curvature may look completely acceptable on a woman who perhaps has little curves, a small bust, and no butt. The later woman may wear a simple boot-cut jean while the former could get away with strait up leggings. The “tightness” factor could by all accounts and purposes be the same, but it is the body shape and difference that can make a pair of skinny jeans (or a t-shirt, or a skirt) look very different from one body to the next – from one booty to the next. Some women will always look curvier than others and they should not have to adhere to a different standard, in my opinion, for something that was bequeathed upon them by genetics. I only ask they be self-aware. In fact, I was told once because I was short, I should wear crewneck t-shirts because taller guys might be able to look down my shirt.


My response, “Well maybe they shouldn’t try to look down my shirt regardless...” I’m not dressing like a marm simply because men taller than me (read: that would be 98% of men) have wandering eyes.

I’d like to give you some more real life examples of similar double standards I experienced while spending time on a campus.

#1 - I was involved at BYU-Provo campus for some time and in that time, I quickly learned that things I had not noticed living outside of the “Honor Code” I had to start taking notice of very quickly. Like 5:00 shadows. Can I tell you how my male employees would take advantage of my “beard” ignorance  and wander in with their stubby faces because they knew it wouldn’t even register with me? Imagine their surprise when I started remembering and sent them home for a shave. Scally-wags!

Anyway…. Better example:

I run in running shorts. What? Yes. My running shorts aren’t long shorts, but they aren’t short shorts really. They are running shorts hitting me probably about mid-thigh. Now, as standards dictate on campus, students are asked not to wear short shorts and skirts. Of course I knew this, but it didn’t compute to running shorts for me. I don’t know why. Probably because I’d never had to think about it before as I attended the secular school up North (or any other school in the nation) where showing significant butt cheek out the bottom of your Daisy Dukes was common classroom attire. I was reminded very quickly of this “no short shorts fact” though as I had to leave from running the BYU outdoor track (with another girl who was doing so in a sports bra and shorts only – just pointing it out) through campus for something. As I was walking on campus, I noticed I was getting some curious looks. One such fellow almost tripped over himself, gave me a gawking up and down, and then shook his head and “passed by on the other side." It was then, when I followed his gaze, it hit me. I was wearing “short shorts”. Now, I’m 5’1 and don’t boast a lot of “leg”, but never the less, they were shorter than probably is customary for campus wear. I blushed and felt ashamed. That shame, however, turned to annoyance when, as I watched this pimpled sweet spirit walk away, I noted that he in fact was wearing flannel teddy bear PJ bottoms, an old “BYU Basketball 1997” t-shirt with holes, and fuzzy slippers. I REPEAT, flannel teddy bear PJ’s, a wholly old t-shirt, and slippers. If I might now QUOTE from the BYU Honor Code: “A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained... Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas. Flannel teddy bear PJ’s. Perhaps Mr. PJ’s and I should’ve thought twice before venturing on campus in our attire. But the thing is, I was the only one getting side glances. I was the one who was breaking the rules. And though I won't deny that in my ignorance I probably was breaking the rules, so was this gentleman. But I also know if someone were to report us - the PJ boy wouldn't have even caused an eye to bat. Why? Because no one things "sexy" about flannal pj's... and that's really what it's about. Sex.

#2 - Student complains of unseemly ankle bearing. I once had a student email the department I was housed in complaining that he could see the ankles of a woman on one of our posters. I was silenced mid-scoff by the faces of colleagues who were actually considering his complaint as legitimate. Ankles?!? As professionally as I could muster, I offered the following logic, “If this student is getting off because of women’s ankles, might I suggest he has bigger problems then our small marketing department should be encumbered upon to address?” Call me devil's adovcate.

Which brings the accountability discussion full circle. Immodesty is a “women” thing. Is it not? Societal standards, the nature of women, the nature of men, it all coagulates together upon the fact that men are more aroused through visual stimuli than women and women’s bodies are generally the object of that arousal. I get it and I agree that as a woman, I have a responsibility to not be the proverbial “Potiphers wife”… displaying my womanly wiles for all to partake. But I do not think that my responsibility to be aware of my womanly effect on the male gender also encompasses their responsibility (or lack thereof) to maintain self-control. They are accountable for their thoughts, feelings, and “triggers” and therein lies my biggest irk of all. Men and women are both responsible for the image they project, but also how they internalize an image that will inevitably be projected upon them; skinny jeans being the lesser of those projected images I expect. Mr. Ankles email was somehow justifying a thought or (assumption here) action or pattern of actions he was involved in and instead of taking personal accountability for a human weakness, placing blame upon a woman's ankles. I perish the thought of this poor fellow ever living anywhere else but Utah, or turning on the TV, or going to the grocery store or hey, even going to church. I assume if it ever came down to mandating burkas on campus, he'd sounds the rallying cry.

BYU-I campus cannot keep their student body from viewing skinny jeans, flip flops, skirts, cleavage, ankles, and any other fleshy or curve hugging fashion, trend, or natural endowment that is rampant in every other corner of the world. They can ask their students not to partake, and they can ask their students to adhere to these standards, but they cannot keep them from, at some point in their lives, dealing with “the world” as it is. As Elder Holland so aptly put it (and I paraphrase) we must live in the world, just not of the world. We still must live IN the world. We must adapt and build up resistance and learn to make choices and uphold standards when our environments tell us we’re ridiculous or archaic. I admire BYU’s for upholding that standard – but only to the point where it still allows student agency and speaks to the spirit of “why” rather than the paternal “because I said so, that’s why.” We must still take accountability for our choices, thoughts, actions, and apply those principles and concepts we are taught through prayer and individual interpretation. We are taught correct principles, and we govern ourselves.  

Now don’t misread me here. It’s not that I think BYU (or any religious institutions) student bodies consist of only drones that can’t make their own choices and govern themselves. They can. Regardless of institutional codes and regulations, I know there is still personal choice to follow those regulations when no one is watching, when your boyfriend keeps trying to push your limits, or when you are home alone with a computer and internet connection. I get that. But for me on a personal level, attending such an institution didn’t appeal to me simply because I wanted to make sure I was making those choices, setting those limits, and following those standards simply because it was how I chose to live my life; not for fear of punishment, being caught, or being shamed. I also realize, because I was born and raised in rural Utah, I felt an even greater need to do that. Make sure my identify and convictions were what they really were beyond my parents house rules, and my cultural surroundings. I could only do that by not going to a school where they were similarly enforced through crime and punishment. Weird logic, but it works for me. And makes sense too - as most BYU students are NOT from Utah and thus, have likely already had their spiritual mettle tested many times through out their life.  I wanted to learn to govern myself and I’m glad I get to wear skinny jeans and date bearded men while I do it. That's all I'm sayin.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Coming...

I feel I am dangling on the precipice of a bonified cold. The pressure in your head, the boogies encrusting your nasal cavity, the slight aches in your shoulders, and the feeling that your world is about to shatter around you. All these things I am feeling right now. All these things spell out "you're getting a cold, sucker face."

And what does one do in such an instance? Attempt to back away from the precipice? Hork Vitamin C this that and the other in the hopes of curbing this sickness that is sneakily laying hold of my body? Attempt to ignore it away (which I've successfully done before!) by not mentally acknowledging the existence of the a fore mentioned unpleasantness and pressing forward as if my only desire WASN'T to find my big heavy fuzzy blanket, some hot lemon tea with honey, and finish out Season 7 of the X-Files? Just repeat after me, "I will not get sick. I will not get sick. I. WILL. NOT. GET. SICK! YOU! SHALL NOT! PASS! (I couldn't help myself). Sure... I could try all that.


I can let the sickness take me. Face it like a man! The sooner it takes me, the sooner it leaves me. Plunge over the precipice and hope I bounce off the ground with grace rather than a SPLAT!

Though, I don't think I've hit the point of no return quite yet. I think I could still beat this foe back with a little weekend R&R... which should probably start sooner rather than later. Best not to procrastinate the battle for fear of losing the war. And you can cross-stitch that. Call it your I'm a Sick pillow.

As for me... I'm going home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gobble it Up Little Thankfulses

Welcome back indulgent few! I hope you ate yourselves into a silly stupor like I did this weekend. Mmm… eating myself into a silly stupor… that sounds so great. SO GREAT! SO! GREAT!

Of course, I have naturally committed to a non-accomplishable goal of skipping the sugary substances until Christmas like the rest of you weak-willed pot bellied suckers. Let us be suckers together! I give it one week. Who can resist a maple cookie or ginger snap? Or anything boasting peppermint accents and warm chocolaty ANYTHING! Losers. That’s who. Do you want to be a loser? Me neither. Eat, Drink and be Merry! For in January, we'll all be a huffin and a puffin on neighbor treadmills together. Alas.


I thought I’d jump on the bloggery bandwagon and give you a list of “Me So Thankfuls.” Tis the season. I realize this is post-Thanksgiving and by rights, Christmas is “legally” acknowledged with the behest of Black Friday. But you know me… I like to ruminate on things and then spew it forth in my own due time… generally a little post-facto. I’d also like to get into the knitty gritty of this thankful business and really pull out some miniature gems of simple happiness that make my day to day existence worth facing. You won’t find a bunch of blather about family or friends or America or “food on my table” on THIS list! No sir-ee-bob! When I say it’s about the little things… I take it to a whole new level. Perhaps it would do you some good to really get down to the nuts and bolts of the tiniest things that you’re thankful for. Eh? Scrap the bottom of that proverbial barrel.

Me So Thankfuls List
  • Word-smithery. The fact I just threw out such words as “behest,post-facto, and blather” without blinking an eye makes me very grateful for my self-proclaimed title of Word-Smith. Behest?!? Who does that?!? This guy. And I think I almost used it right too. What do you know anyway?
  • The semi-colon. A fantastic grammatical tool combining two very separate yet related sentences into one. It gives my writing flow; it gives it stream of thought. You see what I did there?
  • A really smooth ball point pen. None of that inky splotch sort of fancy stuff for me! I write in cursive rather exclusively (right?!?!) and a nice ball point pen makes the curve and flow of the cursive hand smooth and magical.
  • Sporks. It’s a spoon, it’s a fork. Enough said.
  • Washing my face at night. Oh heaven! Oh bliss! I love wiping of the days grim with a warm wash cloth and seeing my bespeckled cheeks shine through rosy and clean. I’m thankful for washcloths! I’m thankful for Clinique Face Foam! No really... I LOVE CLINQUE FACE FOAM!
  • The smell of books. Yep. I’m that weirdy you saw sniffing the books in the Fiction section of Barnes and Noble. I snatch me a book, examine its bindings and coverings, hold the pages close to my nose and flip through while inhaling deeply. Sniffing a good book is almost as good as sniffing freshly copied paper. In grade school I’d sniff a newly printed assignment before beginning to tarnish it with ink and lead. Saver the smells.
  • Bill Paxton – for being that “one guy… ya know… UGH! What is his name?!? He's in... stuff!” in any movie or TV show that requires some amount of talent but not a lot of face-memory. He also did a fine job in Twister.
  • Bejeweled Butt Jeans. Seeing women of the 40+ age bracket sporting them reminds me that I am what they want to be without having to wear bejeweled butt jeans. I’m a 20 something.  It also gives me a false sense of superiority realizing that they are getting a false sense of superiority derived from sporting a bejeweled butt at $200 a pop. Vicious circle… but I’m grateful for it.
  • Miracle Whip – oh the tangy zip!
  • Dust. I like dusting! Thus, when dust besets my table tops, dressers, book shelves, and black TV stand, I skip happily to the cleaning product cupboard, selecting my Orange scented Pledge and dust rag with almost palpable ecstasy at the prospect of de-dusting my furniture to an almost sparkling newness, and proceed in a twirling Poppins-esque enthusiasm around the room, wiping as I go! Oh dust! Thank you!
  • Comeuppance. I get no greater satisfaction then when weasely bad guys get their comeuppance! And it’s more so when it’s the douschy little side kick rather than the full blown villain. Grah! I can’t stand snively little sidekicks that are more annoying than they are villainy. But I like it when the villains get their’s too. Take that! 
  • Mouse Glue Traps. 
  • Spell Check
  • All Day Marathons such as but not limited to: Lord of the Rings Trilogy presented on Encore this weekend commercial free; America's Next Top Model all day marathons on Oxygen (she suddenly realized that what had begun as a potentially productive Saturday morning had now dimmed like the 6 daylight hours that had so easily slipped by), A Christmas Story all day on TNT Christmas Eve, Harry Potter marathons a la ABC Family, and any other all day epic marathons that steal your day in a flurry of Orc battles and ring bearing! 

And there are a few things that make my life a little more worth living. What about you? What’s your Spork?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

It Ain’t No Stuart Little

Mouse! In the house! More like mice… but that didn’t rhyme so I had to stick with the singular there. Never the less; we have mice!  In our HOUSE! Pretty gross, right? Only gross because they are diseased ridden little varmints that scurry and scratch and dart and poop. Other than that, I find them kinda cute. What? How many movies/TV shows/literary characters can you name off the top of your head that showcases an adorable wee mouse and his or her mousey adventures?

  • Stuart Little – Duh
  •   Fievel Mousekewitz
  • Mickey Mouse – duh
  • Minnie Mouse – naturally
  • Mrs. Brisbee
  • Mighty Mouse! 
  •   Basil of Baker Street aka the Great Mouse Detective
  • Benjy Mouse and Frankie Mouse from a Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy
  • Bernard and Miss Bianca – the Rescuers!
  •  Chuck E Cheese
  • Itchy – Itchy and Scratchy Show
  •  Jerry – of Tom and Jerry
  • Mr. Jingles – the Green Mile
  • Pinky and the Brain
  • The Three Blind Mice

Am I right? So though I understand people’s dislike of mice because of their carrying such diseases as the Hanta virus… which I just looked up and am now sufficiently freaked out!  Sometimes WEBMD is a blessing and a curse, am I right? But just in case I do contract the Hanta and effectually DIE like 60% OF THOSE WHO CONTRACT IT THROUGH MOUSE EXCREMENT…. I bequeath my book collection to Jaime, my clothes to Camille, and the $170 I have in my checking account to brother Nick. He’s a poor student and could use the help. The rest of my goods I expect to be sold at auction and the moneys given to the Fight Against Hanta Virus Non Profit Organization. I’m sure it exists somewhere. 

Anyway… what was I saying before crafting my living Will? Ah yes, how diseased rodents are kinda cute.

I first discovered our little mouse problem while watching an X-Files (Season 7!!) at home one night. I caught the varmint out of the corner of my eye as it skittered out of the fireplace and under our wood pile thing (scientific term). At first I thought, “If that was a huge spider, I’m moving out tonight!” And I rightly would have until the rodent made an attempt for the bookcase and I could see it was a little gray mouse instead of the eight legged creatures of my nightmares. Phew! Relief! I really hate moving.

Which brings me to another tangent…

On top of MICE problems we’ve also been combating a “spider in the tub” issue and I tell you I am an exhausted wreck because of it! I can’t take it! I have a very bad case of Arachnophobia and having to face some disgusting scurrying eight legged nasty first thing in the morning is not the “wake me up” I prefer. Oh gag. Oh loathing. I freaking hate spiders. FREAKING! In fact, my attempts to work out in the morning have been very successful with the promise of a spider free facility shower. This is me being more optimistic. Seeing the silver lining in my NIGHTMARES! How’d I do?

So now with both a spider and mouse problem – we decided it was time to kill the suckers. Kill ‘em real good. We called an exterminator who scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.Little did we know we were about to face the longest weekend of our lives. 

My poor roomie Alex made the decision to call the exterminator when she discovered that the mice had been having a Fiesta in her bedroom closet. She keeps protein and energy bars in a basket on the floor. Energy bars! And the FLOOR! So not only had these sneaky mice found the foody jackpot, they were all hopped up on complex carbs! “Hey fella’s! Look what I can do!” as he propels his fur-ball body from clothes hanger to clothes hanger, shitting as he goes. And boy to mice shit!! EVERYWHERE! Always! What’s more, do you know mice can procreate at 6-8 weeks old? Slut-mice! AND! AND! They can dump a 10-20 (TWENTY!) varmint liter in as little as 4-6 DAYS! What the hell?!?! So we could have great, great, great, Granny  Mouse leaping around hopped up on energy bars in as little as 2 weeks! This could only spell one thing, major anxiety and gross infestation.

Still, with images of Stuart Little and Mrs. Brisbee in my head, I convinced Alex to try the “humane” little traps first. Ya know, those little boxes you can catch them in and then take them to a field where they may roam free as wild mice! When those proved a complete failure, she opted for the glue sheets.  No mercy. Upon laying down glue sheets in her now completely cleaned out closet (full of gaps and holes by the way – yep – we were just asking for it! Come on in mouse! The front door is wide wide open… so is the back door and side door and a couple of windows… oh… and here’s some food within reach too). This was at about 5pm Saturday afternoon. I came home from a baby shower at 6:30pm and found a squeaky mouse struggling on a glue sheet. It was kinda sad and also kinda an internal vindication. I picked up the glue sheet (that’s right! I’m bad-ass) and walked Granny Mouse out to the garbage. Don’t worry, I prayed later that her death would be quick… she would fall asleep in the winter night and freeze. That was my hope. 

Alex came home and I told her of the adventure. She promptly went to lay down another sheet and just as she was placing it on the floor… FLYING MOUSE!!! It leaped out of a hole and face planted onto the glue sheet. Mouse #2’s attempt to flee was easily thwarted and leaving Alex to her panic attack, I walked  Papa Mouse out to join his hooker mother in the garbage can… a brief prayer to usher him in. Two mice in 3 hours! Didn’t bode well. The next day, Sunday, when we came home from church… Alex came running out of her bedroom because one of the sticky papers was gone. GONE? How could it be gone?

Here’s how…

TWO MICE! TWO MICE had fallen onto the glue trap and one of them had only stuck by its hind legs. With his front legs, he was attempting to drag them both to safety, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you!” A fool’s errand! And as a picked up glue sheet three, he knew his struggles were in vain. I plopped these next two in with the others before them, making note that the other two from the night before were definitely dead. This made me feel a little better though at this point I was considering putting their heads on pikes and sticking them in front of crevices and holes around the house as a warning to other mice. Keep away! 

Instead, we opted to hold out for the exterminator and come Monday morning, he came galloping up on his white horse and placed “poison blocks” strategically around the house. He guaranteed us that if we saw a single mouse within 10 days they’d come back and dispose of them again. They ALSO said if we saw more than 6 (SIX?!?) spiders within 10 days they’d come back. They sprayed all around the house AND extra in the bathroom. I asked Alex if she gave him a big hug and slobbery kiss from both of us. She said she seriously thought about it – then felt weird. I said he probably gets a lot of love from a lot of ladies ALL THE TIME. That sly dog. 

So we shall see if the pests are good and taken care of. We shall also see if we start manifesting flu like symptoms centralized in the lungs in the next 2-3 weeks. If that happens, I bid you all a fond adieu with this advice: Screw Stuart Little! Just kill the bastards.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Lyrics

Turning Tables - Adele

So I won't let you close enough to hurt me, no
I won't ask you, you to just desert me
I can't give you what you think you gave me
it's time to say goodbye to turning tables, turning tables

Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior
When the thumb that cost me
Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet
Innocent - Our Lady Peace

Oh, [She's] losing faith in what she knows
Hates her music, hates all of her clothes
Thinks of surgery and a new nose
Every calorie's a war
While she wishes she was a dancer
And that she'd never heard of cancer
She wishes God would give her some answers
And make her feel beautiful

 Fix You - Coldplay

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in Reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Monday, November 14, 2011

H& M Brings Me One Step Closer to Perpetual Cat Ladyery (ladery?) and Puts a Few Things Into Stark Perspective

H&M opened this weekend at Fashion Place Mall (HURRAY!). Now, as a country bumpkin - I generally don't like large crowds; particularly if those large crowds consist of crazy eyed self-proclaimed fashionista's with huge strollers and nothing pressing them for time at 2:30 in the afternoon on a weekday. Stereotype so established. Thus, I wasn't planning on visiting my now very LOCAL H&M until several months after its "grand opening" to avoid such crowds (and reinforcing stereotypes ;)). In fact, I didn't even visit the Cheesecake Factory for easily a year AFTER it opened in SLC because the lines are atrocious and I couldn't understand "what the big deal was." Well, I'm so happy I found out because that place is freaking delicious! Lines? What LINES??? I will wait as long as it TAKES to pay $17 for the most delicious plate of garlic pasta I've ever EATEN!!!

Back on topic.

SO! I don't like large crowds particularly if its brimming with the a fore mentioned stereotypes, thus effectively putting my H&M Utah plans on hold until after the holiday season. BUT, I suddenly had an internal conflict with this plan this weekend as I am ALSO a very good daughter. Didn't you know? And my mom came to visit me for some mother/daughter shopping, eating, and ballyhoo time and of course, OF COURSE, we had to go Fashion Place Mall - it easily becoming the best mall in the state with such additions as the afore mentioned H&M, Crate and Barrel, Anne Taylor Loft, Apple Store, and the usual bought of awesomeness: JCrew, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom. I think I just salivated all over my keyboard. Shoppy shoppy nom nom! Spendy Spendy!

Yep, you guessed it. Being a good daughter won out and we went to H&M, opening weekend, as Christmas approaches. Madness! We had to stand in line for about 15 minutes to get in the store. Have you ever had to do this? You know I haven't because of my crowd aversion and general avoidance of "hype." It was pretty amazing how people eyed each other - making snap judgements about your worthiness to have a presence at such a grand opening. At least I'm spending my own money, Princess. Oh snap. Presence we were granted and upon entering the store - we were assailed with Club/Techno/Whippersnapper music BLASTING our senses and shaking the walls. Why do they have to do that? Why? I don't understand why the shopping experience must be assailed with BOMP! BOMP! BOMP! the entire time. UN-PLEASANT!

But what WAS pleasant was the 15 pairs of new socks (I only have work out socks... and they get eaten by Zooey periodically), scarf, and ridiculously "me" (dahling) dress and blazer I purchased amongst the madness.


You're asking yourself - what is that face you are making? It's a "did it take?" face. Phone cameras are sneaky little blighters!

Yes that's right. My dress is head to toe cats! And not just any head to toe cats - head to toe cats with BOW TIES! Cat-lady Andrea is well on her way!

Though I did purchase a few choice items and it was cool to go into the new store - it was also somewhat disheartening to see this middle and upper class American line to get into a moderately priced retail store; stomping and cutting (in line...not flesh... but I can see how it would've come to that eventually) and bumping and shoving and eying each other for a $20 blazer or $10 stripped socks. I had women edging me out of looking at a shirt or leggings simply because they must have thought I would take the last one... when it was clear we wouldn't have even worn CLOSE to the same size anyway. The passive aggressiveness rating scale was off the chart. And for what? Apparently one's true character shines through when sweater tights are on the line.

Now, don't get me wrong - I really like shopping. I like it a lot and if it's a good deal - I'm a sucker for it. But I couldn't help but have a small existential moment realizing that in America, where we stand in line for H&M's or the newest IPhones or midnight showings of Vampire Love movies; acting like children and  anxiously climbing over each other in angst - somewhere else in the world people are standing in line for their one meal a day, a crust of bread, or vaccines against diseases American children have enjoyed for decades. We reduce our character to shreds and curb our humanity for wool sweaters, or video games when fathers who have lost their jobs stand in unemployment lines and mothers go hungry again so their children will have enough to eat that night. And this doesn't happen in a country far far away - but in our own cities and neighborhoods.

To me, it's curious and even disappointing what we will stand in lines for sometimes. Is this really a good use of our time and resources? And for heavens sake, what happened to downright common decency? No, I don't think that standing in line for H&M makes someone a bad person. I don't think it's a bad thing to like to shop and enjoy some nice things if you can afford them. I just ask for a realistic amount of perspective and a polite "excuse me" now and again. I don't think waiting in line at an H&M provides justification for leaving your humanity at home so you can be the first one to use your stroller as a battering ram to the jeans section of a retail store. But maybe I don't get out enough.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's that? I've not mentioned my watching of the X-Files in awhile?

Well I'm so sorry! I know how much you enjoy my obsession of yester-year coming back to haunt my blog posts. Sometimes it's good to remind yourself why you liked these sorts of things when you were younger. And even more interesting is what you see them for now - years hence. I'd say that my revisiting of the X-Files with my more molded 28 year old brain vs. my 16 year old brain has brought some new enjoyments and insights into the mythology and magic of this unique series classic. It's also a good gauge of how much you've progressed (or not) changed your perceptions (or not) and how you internalize things differently (or not). What indulgences of yester-year have you not thought of in awhile? Are you a Trekkie? Did you love Xena Warrior Princess? How about your love of Full House or Home Improvement? Give yourself the gift of nostalgia this holiday season, why don't you? Dig up those simple things that used to take you places that only those truly good stories really could. It's why we love these things isn't it? It's why we obsess and discuss and hold forums and blogs... so we can talk about things more than the mundane. So we can escape the ho-hum of everyday. I think there's some magic in that... and a little medicine as well.

Somethings, will always remain the same. It's worth conjuring up the same excitement and curiosity. It's also nice to maybe go a little Freud on yourself and figure out why these things so appealed to you as much as they did. A little insight for me? I've always admired and even worshiped strong women. Scully... Xena (it's true)... Dr. Crusher (little Trek in there)... there's a pattern here. And the pattern is strength and confidence and kicking the crap out of someone if you need to and proving your mettle through your mind rather than your hips. I don't think that's such a bad thing to admire, is it?

Our adoration's of yesterday offers us an escape from the every day and reminds us of what we once were.  Enjoy a mini-chick flick moment whether you were an X-Filer or not. It's still worth an "Aw."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Upon Writing: Some Definitions

There are times when I read things... and some stuff... but mostly things... where during said reading I get annoyed. I don't know why I feel this way. If the grammar is sound and the structure intact, and heck, if there are a few creative adjectives spirited throughout the prose then what's my problem? WHAT'S MY PROBLEM?!?!? WHY AM I SO BUGGED!!!!

I found out why today.

First, I am an elitist. But we knew that.

Second, it's because I can tell when the writing is contrived. 

Contrived: adjective obviously planned or forced; artificial; strained: a contrived story.


The Kiss of Death in fictional story-telling... or writing anything in general.

It's a super power... spotting contrived writing.

No it isn't. Because you, you average citizen you, would feel the same way I did when reading something that annoys you for no other reason than you're just annoyed. And now, you have a reason. It's annoying reading something contrived.

Why am I talking about this?

Because I'm attempting to become a legitimate writer and I need to know if that's even possible. Legitimate writer as in... that's what I "do." It's my craft, my art, my "thing", it's what I want to be. It's like all those other struggling art forms; art, music, acting... where there is a rather small percentage of the population that are wildly successful practicing their "craft" without also having to juggle a 9 to 5 to pay the bills. How would it be to pay your bills with your passion? It would be like being Tom Hanks or Bono or J.K. Rowling. For every ridiculously successful ar-teest there are a thousand other suckers who attempt their whole lives to "make it" and never quite break through the teeming mists of critics, nay-sayers, and just plain old not having talent. That last one is the worst. How do you know you've got it? How much of that "it" factor is determined by societal shifts? (see increasing number of lusty vampire teen novels... gag). How do you know that you could be the next Steinbeck or Updike? We need a proverbial Simon Cowell to lay it strait for more than just angsty warbling teenage singing hopefuls. Open wide and take your medicine art people! You're very bad at what you love. Jagged pill.

Legitimate: in accordance with established rules, principles, or standards.
Writer: a person who writes or is able to write;

Therefore; legitimate writer: a person who writes or is able to write in accordance with established (metaphorically, unspoken, or recorded) rules, principles, or standards.

Thus I've learned, some of the annoyance I have from reading some people's (ahem "writers" ahem), though well structured and even adequately crafted, prose is because it's contrived.... forced... artificial... and strained. Is it in accordance with established standards? Grammatically... you bet. But writing is more than the structure; it's the story. It's the idea. It's the conveying of an idea that allows your reader to say "I know exactly what you mean!" Leave the grammar to your editor, dear writer. Your job is to tell a story!

Stephen King said in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, that you should write the truth. It's a bed-fellow of the common writers guide: "write what you know." Someone can know a handful of things or a lot of things... but is it true? Is it true for you? Is it true for you character? Write what's true. I believe the lay-man/woman of all readers can spot an untruth... which is to say... you can tell when you're being suckered. It just doesn't sit well. I've read these contrived little things and may have even stretched my own writing to the point of annoying the hell out of some unsuspecting reader. And now that I know why a blunt pencil in the eye is preferable to contrived writing, I'm holding to ye old writer's precepts: Write what you know. Write the truth.

When writing fiction, you must write the truth.

Fiction: something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story: the act of feigning, inventing, or imagining.

Truth: the state or character of being true.

Lie: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood; something intended or serving to convey a false impression

You see the difference, don't you? Writing fiction truthfully without sounding contrived or a big fat liar. Fiction writers do it all the time - and they do it well. Did a boy possessed of magical ability truly survive a killing curse go on and attend a magical school with peers of similar magical abilities so he could then save his world from the evil devices of a sinister Dark Lord? Of course not. But that doesn't make it not true. In fact, it's a beautiful truth that speaks to us about things that are believable. Fiction is making your reader believe it could be true. 

So I 'm trying to become a legitimate writer by writing a little of what I know and always writing the truth... and mostly avoiding sounding contrived... because I'm not here to annoy anyone. Truly.