Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You Could Beat Him With a Stick...

There's a guy at work who has the most positive outlook on life that I have ever experienced. No matter what happens, he can find a list of reasons that it's just great. Not just good, but great. Pile on the work, make him cover for a slacking co-worker, have computer problems all day... everyone else is tense and snappy but Steve is still happy and will tell you how great it is to work there. I truly think you could beat him with a stick until he was bloody and he'd still tell you everything was great!

And his attitude is infectious. I know I walk away smiling every time I talk to him. We all want to hang out with Steve because he is so uplifting. Or maybe we are just hoping even a wee smidgeon of his positivity will rub off on us... I don't know how he does it. Where does his overwhelmingly upbeat outlook come from?

It's not like Steve's life is perfect. He has stresses and trials just like the rest of us. He's got a challenging full-time job, a full classload working on his Masters, an ugly divorce in his past, a cute new girl friend and who knows what else going on. For me all that would be like the recipe for a stroke. I regularly get overwhelmed and grouchy over the details of my relatively simple life.

I'd sure like to figure out his secret...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Polygamists in the News

Like many people, I've been watching this whole FLDS polygamist/child-abuse raid thing happening in Texas with interest. There's something about it that makes me really uncomfortable. Actually several things. Strangely all sides of the argument make me feel like squirming in my seat a bit.

One minute I'm looking at a photograph of a weeping woman dressed much like a pioneer. It's a little bit eery -- almost like looking at living history and suddenly being confronted with the human aspects rather than just the cold facts of what has happened. It's hard to condemn something or someone when you feel a personal connection. You see some of my own ancestors practiced polygamy.

The next moment I'm confronted with horror stories of abuse and fear. There are some published accounts of life within the FLDS community that are getting a lot of publicity right now. The details of their lives make me shudder. At the same time, I'd expect them to be less than enthusiastic supporters of a group they disassociated themselves from. People just don't leave something because they really, really, really like it. On the other hand, I personally know a man who did leave this lifestyle and religion and have no reason not to trust what he tells me about his childhood.

And then there's the legal issues. Did the State of Texas drastically overstep their bounds and trample on the rights guaranteed us citizens by the Constitution? While it's looking more and more like the impetus for this raid was a hoax call, I can find merit in this argument and I feel some distress for what it means. Freedoms once lost cannot be easily regained.

I'm just not quite sure what I think about all of this. At the end of the day, though, I think I'd have to say I'm not patently against polygamy. If consenting adults choose this life I'm really not offended by it. Actually if you get past the sexual issues and politics of sharing a husband... it might have some intriguing benefits. My great grandparents had passed away many years before I was born, so I only know the family stories about them but it seems they were very happy in their chosen shared life. Great grandpa was married to 3 sisters. Between them they had 30 children. My grandfather often said it didn't matter which house they were in as children, they were treated the same. They knew they were loved and wanted and welcome and treated as a gift from our Father in Heaven. The stories passed down in my family say that it was the wives who chose polygamy. Great grandpa fell in love with, and wanted to marry, the oldest sister. She told him the only way she'd agree was if he also married her two younger sisters following their 18th birthdays. My great grandmother was the youngest sister.

But I don't think the polygamy they lived is anything like the polygamy that I understand is practiced in the FLDS communities. For perspective, I'm relying heavily on Dave's story. He was born into the FLDS community of Colorado City as one of 56 children - I don't remember how many wives he said his father had. He said the first word he learned was "more" because with that many kids there was never enough food and as soon as it hit the table everyone was clamoring for their share. He tells of deciding it wasn't the life he wanted to live as a teenager and trying to run away from home... only to be hunted down, beat nearly to death and drug home where he was forced to kneel before their "prophet" to confess his sins. He tells about being so scared afterward that he knuckled under and tried to conform and eventually found a girl he wanted to marry. He went so far as starting to build a house. One day this "prophet" came by and declared it a fine house for "5-6 little doves" and expressed the expectation to... shall we say, produce quick and visible results. He ran again. This time he was successful.

The way I see polygamy, like most things we encounter in life, has a good side and a shadow. It can be a joyful shared life or it can be full of force, abuse, loneliness and hard thankless labor. It's very hard to judge someone else's life. It's hard to know why they do the things they do. And in this case, I think the "why" matters.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One Step Closer To A Homeless Person

My friend, Marcy, teased me last year that my acquisition of a new purse left me "one step from a homeless person." (Isn't that a Seinfeld line?) I'd been shopping at The Gateway and one of the stores had a promotional thing where if you bought $250 in clothes, you got a free purse. I liked the purse. I wanted the purse. I felt a great desire to own this purse. But I couldn't spend that much on clothes right then so sadly I left the purse on their rack and moved on. A few minutes later we stopped in the bathroom and... what was poking up out of the trash? My coveted purse!!

After a quick glance around, I decided I wasn't too proud and lifted it out of the used paper towels, emptied the bubble wrap out of the inside and went merrily on my way. It's my favorite purse still today!

If Marcy is reading this, her "homeless" opinion is about to get a major reinforcement. Several weeks ago, one of the units in the duplex on the corner was unexpectedly abandoned. The owner has hauled stuff out like you can't imagine. I can't figure out where in that apartment they had so much stuff!! It's been like 6 or 8 trailer loads they've hauled off and that's not counting the bigger pieces of furniture they drug to the curb and tagged with "FREE" signs. Of course, I snagged one of those pieces... an antique table.

Now it does need a couple of repairs... but they're ones I think I'm capable of making. And when I do, I will have the most amazing upstairs desk. It will be great to hold a lamp, my laptop and a few papers. Then if I ever need it, I can pull the sides out, drop in a leaf and have a dining table for up to 6 (as if I'll ever need to seat 18 for dinner!). I'm not sure if it's mahogony or cherry - a little dirty, plus I don't know woods that well - but it's dark and has some reddish tones like the rest of my furniture. The legs are intricately turned and the braces have a graceful arching quality. And considering I've only invested a little effort in dragging it home and about $6 in wood putty and glue, I'm quite thrilled with my find!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Near Fatal Case of Pack-Rat-itis

For the first time in 8 months, I have all my stuff under one roof! Nevermind that the bulk of it is stored temporarily in my future master bedroom... I thought that sounded like a grand accomplishment until I started looking at just how much 'stuff' there actually is... No wonder moving has been such a trauma!

What was I ever thinking in accumulating so much 'stuff?' I'm overwhelmed, disgruntled and a little repulsed by the sheer volume of 'stuff' I have to sort through. I think, not only am I a horrid pack-rat, but I have a shopping addiction. That's a deadly combination! Some of this 'stuff' will surely get tossed, some will be given away and some I'll have to find a place for here.

Time for the confessions:
Some of it will get tossed - When I emptied out the pantry I found a ton of expired canned goods. Worst was some very expensive salad dressing that was 4 years past its "Best When Used By" date. Yeah... full garbage can this past week and probably for several more to come.

Some will be given away - When I emptied out my closet there were pants I don't remember buying that still had the store tags hanging in them. Obviously they were really important for me to have, huh? I took a huge box (24"X48"X20") and filled it so that the top was rounded over nearly as deep as the box itself and gave all of it away. Sadly, there's still more clothes I'm pretty certain I will never wear and don't want taking up space in the closet here. I've also given away boxes of food that isn't expired but I know we won't be able to get it eaten before it does. Yes, that was boxes... as in more than one and it's likely there will be even more as I get the rest of the 'stuff' sorted out.

Integrating the rest of that 'stuff' into my new home... There are some obvious pieces that already have a designated place but the place isn't ready for them. Like a couch and slipper chairs and TV (+ the stereo/home theater components that go with it) from my old living room that are destined for my new family room. And some craft and office supplies for the office which also isn't ready yet. Just getting these things out of the way will make a huge difference in the space and how I'm feeling about it.

Just keep me away from any store that sells anything... Seriously, if you see me whip out the debit card, slap me!! Trust me, whatever it is... I've probably already got three!!