Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catholic Mass


One of our favorite families is Catholic.  They have three daughters who love our children and are willing to babysit for us all the time, making us big fans of theirs.  Recently, the middle daughter was confirmed into the Catholic Faith.  It was the first time our children had gone to Mass.
    Let me give you some background as to what our children experience every Sunday when we go to church.  We go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Mormons.  (You should say “the Mormons” with a little lilt in your voice.  Thank you.)  Our Sunday services are three hours long, but we have three different classes.  Our congregation starts with Sacrament meeting in the chapel.  Our chapels are very plain.  If they have windows, they are plain glass or textured glass so you can’t see through them, but they have basically no decorative value.  We sit in a pew for an hour and ten minutes.  Fifteen minutes into the service, we will have the sacrament that is passed around on trays.  We bring coloring books, picture books, or church magazines to entertain the kids.  Occasionally, Iron Man or a storm trooper may make it into my church bag as well.  Our children wait for the sacrament and then can color or read until the rest of the meeting is up.  Generally, our children only have to sit there for forty to forty-five minutes.  It is the longest hour of parents’ lives, but it is generally manageable.  Fruit snacks can be administered if in desperation.
The chapels are built so that sound is muffled and one needs a microphone to be heard in the back.  It is built for families with small children, in my opinion.  If your child does become unruly, you can take them to the foyer and people in the chapel generally cannot hear them.  Most chapels have been built in this century with children in mind, in my opinion.  I do not find cathedrals to have the same characteristics.
We walked into the cathedral and found it to be full.  54 youth would be confirmed which is an unseemly number.  We split up and I took Katherine and Seth with me.  Kevin and James sat two rows back.  Our favorite family sat in between us.  We had asked a woman to move over so we could sit together, but she complained she wouldn’t be able to see because of a huge pillar.  I’m not sure why she didn’t move in toward the center of the aisle, but we ended up divided, nonetheless.  I had my church bag with me and I was told Mass is generally one hour, so I was feeling fairly secure.  I passed a church magazine back for James to read and got out coloring books and crayons for the kids.
I took a moment to look around and I noticed that most families with children were sitting on the sides.  They were mostly in the back on the left, as well.    I began wondering about that when the cathedral doors opened and the procession began.  The knights of Columbus came in first and my three year old noticed they had swords.  He very loudly let me know that all of the men had swords and Katherine asked me why they had swords.  She wanted to know if they killed you if you were bad.  I answered that although I was unsure why they had swords, I’m pretty sure it was to protect the church and not to kill sinners.  Plus, they looked like they could be bought off anyhow.
Then the youth being confirmed walked in along with an alter boy with incense.  Katherine did not enjoy the incense.  She commented VERY loudly about how she did not enjoy the incense.  Finally everyone came in and we would be able to sit down.  I thought my kids would now act as they do every Sunday and quietly occupy themselves, but that didn’t quite happen. 
After about fifteen minutes, Seth realized there were windows with pictures all around him.  He started yelling out what he was seeing.  He especially liked the snake hanging out with Adam and Eve.  I tried to get him to whisper but that must be an ability developed at age four.  It was at this time that I also realized that cathedrals are not built with noisy children in mind.  They are built with organs and choirs in mind.  When beautiful music is played, it is wonderous to hear the echoes and reverberation.  When children are calling out animals in the stain glass windows, the echoes and reverberations are not wonderous.  It is embarrassing and people sitting around you who don’t have children, look at you as though they wished the Knights of Columbus still used their swords.  Let’s just say when it was time for everyone to wish everyone else blessings and to give hugs, no one came near me.
Due to the amount of confirmations, Mass lasted two hours.  I lasted 1.5.  I took my children to the foyer, but the cathedral doors are left open and it echoes here as well.  Katherine started yelling that she wanted what was in the basket until I explained that people were putting things in.  She then wanted communion and seeing as I don’t know the rules of communion, I said no.
We ended up outside.  The wind started up and Katherine and Seth started to cry because they were cold.  We went back inside and people had moved around so now our whole family could sit together.  We made it.  It ended and we left the cathedral.  They had cake and I ate four pieces.
Kevin loved the ceremony of Mass.  He listened to every word.  He asked me if I listened to the sermon and I wanted to punch him.  I have to admit that I was not feeling any Christian feelings toward my husband at that time.  The sugar rush helped enough so that he lived, but I was thinking that being at a Cathedral anyhow, it would be fairly easy to get him his last rites.  I showed mercy and he lived to fight another day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

mixed metaphor


I have issues.  For those of you who read this regularly, I am sure this statement has not shocked you.  However, I am going to openly discuss one right now.  (This should be good and slightly incoherent.)

Lately, I have gotten worked up over the school board in my town.  At first I was worked up by what they were doing and now I am worked up by how they are doing it.  Really, I just can’t stand our superintendent.  I now believe he has ulterior motives for everything.  In fact, I am thinking of finding out if I can legally change his name to Bruce Malfoy.  At the next meeting I attend with him there, I may ask to have him roll up his sleeves to see if he has the Dark Mark.

I think that in my older age, I am becoming persnickety.  Or picky.  Or publicly annoyed.  Or annoyed with the public.  I used to be able to say that it took a lot for someone to ruffle my feathers.  Lately, so many people have ruffled my feathers that my plumage is suffering.  I would make a list of all of the people and why I feel this way, but what if I suddenly change my mind?  And I know that I am often seen as undeserving to have the same hair color as the Weasleys.  For instance, I know that there is no love lost among anyone in the Home Owners Association of our summer home.  I actually feel kind of bad for that.  I worry I am not being very Christ like when it comes to some of my neighbors.  At the same time, if there is an HOA for mansions in heaven, I DO NOT want them as president.  (If you think there are too many rules to get to heaven, just wait until you get there and they have written the HOA guidelines and rules…  Hell will sound better and better)

See?  Right there I am not letting things slide off my back.  I am letting it get under my fingernails as I dig and dig and dig.  The problem this is all causing, besides the fact that my kids are driving me nuts a little quicker than normal, is that it is making it difficult for me to write with the irony that I so enjoy.  I am trying very hard to write a short story that takes place in a bar, but whenever I think of certain people, it makes me want to literally GO to a bar.  I am trying to organize my writing and sell it to some unbelievably lucky person who will be known as the agent to one of the greatest voices of this century, but I end up organizing rallies and protests.  (Sometimes, when I feel really out of control, I leave sand toys at the beach by our condo.  A big no-no.  But only the cheap ones because I think someone is throwing them away.)

So what shall I do?  Rhett, Rhett, whatever shall I do?  Wherever shall I go?  Is Tara part of a Homeowners Association?  And who is the superintendent there?  And are any of the neighbors just really annoying?  (You can really tell this has thrown me for a loop because I started with a nice Harry Potter metaphor and then ended up with Gone with the Wind.  I NEVER switch like that.  Luckily, the bar is right next-door.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why I Should be Famous

When I was in college, I would have been placed in the more liberal of the conservative camps.  I was even part of a protest at BYU…  I ate lunch on the steps of the administration building while my friends held signs. I am counting it though – you can’t imagine how hard it is to find something to protest at BYU.  It was a very nice lunch, by the way.  My family was very worried for me and any future offspring I may have.   Imagine my family’s surprise when I brought my husband home for them to meet and he rode in on an elephant and his billfold contained pictures of the Republican members of congress, instead of his family.

Now I have just given my family another shock.  If you google my name, the first thing that appears is an Associated Press news article I am quoted in for being against the new proposed Helena School District health curriculum.  Now, I am not writing this to state how completely stupid and offensive the new curriculum is or how if the writers of the curriculum were so stupid to not realize how controversial this would be, they should not be writing curriculum in the first place.  I am writing this to let you know that the reason I should be famous is that I was not sitting in my study when interviewed by the reporter.  I was not pondering how to start a charter school.  I was not even thinking about school.

I should be famous because I discussed these controversial topics while shopping for clearance beach toys at Target.  I ended up buying $50 extra stuff to keep my three year old from yelling while I was on the phone.  I bought 4 bubble guns when I have three children and I bought a parachute guy whose head broke off once he hit the sidewalk.  (Seth will not play with it anymore even though he plays with all of the Star Wars toys without heads because he has taken all of the heads off and lost them.) 

I think my ability to shop clearance toys at Target under any circumstance proves that people should pay for the opportunity to read my writing or to be my friend generally.

Thank you and goodnight.

Monday, July 12, 2010



I am going to start a family reunion.  I figure that my side of the family needs one and I have learned a few do’s and don’t’s from Kevin’s reunions and previous experiences with my own family.
1.  We each get our own living establishment with our own toilets.  This could be a hotel room, RV, or house.
2.  Each dinner is catered by a different eating establishment.  I may love Uncle Stanley with all my heart but if I have to eat his potato salad one more time…
3.  We will each answer a get to know you questionnaire and the answers can not be contradicted by other members of the family.  These members can make notes about how wrong you got it and save them for the free for all on the last night.
4.  There should be designated areas where you are allowed to be alone.  If there is a sign that says “occupied” the next relative must run away so that the person there gets some unrelated time.
5.  Leftovers from dinner are not to be served for breakfast.  In fact, each family is in charge of their own breakfast.  You have to have one meal a day with your immediate family to make sure that Aunt Gertrude has not hurt your son’s feelings by telling him that if she ever had a redheaded grandchild she would drown it.  (I can't even BEGIN to tell you how many times I heard this one)
6.  You are under no obligation to listen to “good ole day” stories.  If Grandma Mamie starts to say, “I remember when…” she cannot be offended if everyone in the room gets up and leaves.
7.  There is no obligation to participate in group activities.  In fact, many people enjoy their relations more if they never have to do anything with them.
8.  Finally, on the last night, you are allowed to say whatever you want to whomever you want in a big giant family free for all.  Let's be honest... you can't leave a family reunion without someone saying something that ruffles your feathers.  This way you have a designated time slot for you to make everyone knows how you feel.  And you can go back as far as you would like in airing grievances so that if your brother locked you in an end table at the age of five and you haven't been able to crawl into an end table for fear you won't get out ever since, this would be the time to bring it up.  Reunions are to bring everyone together and nothing brings you closer than picking sides.

I’m sure I have missed some very important parts of the family reunion puzzle.  These are just a few ideas I have come up with.  I am sure I will amend this list once I do go to a family reunion or two this summer.  Or if I am lucky, my mom will fall down some stairs and break her hip and I will have to take care of her instead of going.  Wouldn’t that be nice.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You are now entering the Twilight Zone


I recently had a truly outer-body experience.  It made me realize that I am not a fanatic.  About anything.  It kind of made me sad.  Should I become so infatuated with something that I know everything and everyone that has ever been associated with it?  So far this year I have realized that I am not truly a Barry Manilow fan (I have not earned a fanilow nor a maniloonie designation) and now I have come to realize that I am by no stretch of the imagination, a Twilight fanatic.  I believe they are called Twihards.

I found myself in Utah on Tuesday, June 29, 2010.  This would be the day that Eclipse would premiere at midnight.  I guess it would technically happen on the 30th, but the events leading up to midnight happened on the 29th.  I walked into a Cinemark planning on watching the latest Tom Cruise flick when I saw that the marquee had been changed.  Every line was listing times for Eclipse.  I walked into the theater and saw signs for special Eclipse products.  “Quench his Thirst” and buy a mega-sized soda.  “Prepare your neck” and buy a necklace.  I was in awe.  I bought my Tom Cruise movie ticket (which came with no special products) and asked if they had any Eclipse tickets left.  They were showing the film at 12:00, 12:10, 12:20, 12:30, 2:20, 2:30, 2:40, 4:00, 4:30.  I may have missed some of the times, but I believe you can understand where I am heading.  I bought a ticket for the 2:30am show.  I figured I would never be in Utah again for a Twilight release and I must go.

After realizing that I would be going to bed at 5 am and then driving to Montana, I headed over to Barnes and Noble at Jordan Landing.  I wanted to get some audio books and I ended up changing my life.

I noticed the movie theater at Jordan Landing and I thought I would see if they had any tickets for an earlier show.  I parked the car and walked toward the theater and I started to notice a few things.  I noticed that I was walking among a lot of adult women in Eclipse t-shirts.  I also noticed tents set up.  When I saw a Volvo and a replica of Bella’s truck, I realized I was in for a treat.  Events by Alice had bought out two theaters and they were having a premier party.  For $35, I could get a seat in the theater, get a mini-manicure, get hair glimmer, get body glitter (so I could sparkle like a vampire), and I could get my photo taken with a Forks background.  I was in awe.  I was dumbfounded.  I asked if there was a cheaper package and I got my ticket, a pass to the photo booth and a chance to win prizes for $18.
I was given a report card, a test your skills score card, a New Moon poster and a free Vitamin Water.  With the report card, I was to find women with red umbrellas who would ask me questions in one of eight categories.  In order to enter into the drawing, I had to get an “A” in every one.  I went to social studies.  I was asked: “What beach did Jacob and Bella walk along and is part of the reservation?”  I said:  “Quaaludes.”  (The answer is La Push).  Now the reason I gave this answer is two fold.  The tribe Jacob belongs to is the Quileutes which sounds very similar, and I believe I was looking around thinking that instead of Vitamin Water, a few of the women needed Quaalude samples instead.  I got an “F”.

I moved on to Art.  She asked me what color Edward’s bedspread is and what color Bella’s shirt that the vampires take is.  The only reason I knew what was on Bella’s bracelet was because Katherine got a plastic one from Burger King a couple days ago.  I asked the woman if people really knew the answers to these questions.  She looked at me like she couldn’t believe I didn’t.

There were four jewelry booths selling Bella’s bracelet.  There was one booth selling bead watches.  They each had a tag on them explaining the inspiration for the design.  One watch was inspired by the forest of Forks, Washington.  It was a green watch.  Another was inspired by New Moon.  It was a white and silver watch.  I asked if she had a watch inspired by Quaaludes.  She didn’t answer me.

I walked over towards the Volvo and the Truck.  People were taking pictures in front of the Volvo.  They could have done this at any Volvo dealership in the United States, but this was special I guess.  I asked one of the workers where they got the car.  They told me that at the first event they sponsored, Ken Garff sold a Volvo and has offered to supply cars ever since.  I asked if it was a special Edward edition where the AC was always on and it was energy efficient, running only on blood, but she didn’t answer me.

There was a Twilight Moms booth selling all sorts of interesting stuff.  There was a plaque with five forks screwed on it.  You were supposed to put pictures in between the tines.  One tine was curved down and had a charm on it.  It was a “Forks” picture holder.  They wanted $35.  I asked if I got any knives or spoons with it.  No one answered me.

I went into a restaurant to eat before the TWO HOUR preshow.  I was surrounded by women who did not have teenage daughters with them.  They were here for themselves.  The table closest to me wore matching t-shirts with red sparkles in their hair and fake “Bite Me” tattoos.  (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and saying these were fake.)  One woman told me that her daughter was coming, but on the condition she did not squeal like a teenage girl whenever Jacob came on screen.  I was confused as to why she wasn’t allowed to scream.  “My daughter knows how to behave among the Twilight Moms.”  Then the table started dancing to “Holding out for a Hero” and I left.

I got to my seat, and the festivities started.  I received hand warmers and a book mark upon entering the theater.  I’m not sure what the hand warmers were for, but the book mark was made by Events by Alice.  It had charms on it that represented  Eclipse.  A wolf representing Jacob; a crystal heart representing Edward; a Swiss flag because Bella declares she is Switzerland; a graduation cap because they graduate; and finally, a bottle of ashes to represent “the newborn army of Vampires being defeated and burned to ashes.”  What?  One of the charms represents death and destruction?  And I thought Twilight moms were harmless, lonely women.  Who knew they were sadists?

They threw around beach balls and if you caught one when the whistle blew, you got a Volvo key chain.  My seat number was called out and I won a “Slumber Party with Alice.”  It was a small makeup case with some M&Ms, a sparkle lip gloss, a small bottle of nail polish and nail clippers.  Alice needs to have better slumber parties.

The Twilight Music Girls performed.  They are a group of five women that writes music about the Twilight series.  I’m being honest.  Ballroom Utah danced three dances inspired by the Twilight Saga.  There were look-a-likes.  There was screaming and laughing and then the movie started.  There was a hush.  There was no squealing.  There were little laughs whenever Edward was funny.  There were sighs when Jacob was naked (there were A LOT of sighs).  It was really boring.

I watched the movie wishing I was back in Montana where teens were allowed to squeal, shout and let their hormones fly.  I realized I had another ticket in my pocket.  I went to the 2:30 showing.  It was full of teenage girls.  I missed half the dialogue because of the screams.  The movie was SO MUCH BETTER.

So that was my Premier experience.  It changed my life.  It made me realize that I believe with every fiber of my being that every teenage girl, no matter where they are or who they are with, should be able to scream whenever Jacob has no shirt on.  Finally, I am a fanatic about something