Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The one where they got a puppy...

Our house has been a veritable nuclear plant this past weekend--full of energy and in danger of melt-down. That's what happens when you have a new puppy. Everything changes so dramatically that emotions run high. Several times a day you think, "What have I done? I can't do this anymore!" But then, you get a glimpse of this:

This is baby Eli, our little six week-old Boxer puppy begging to be let out of his kennel. Don't worry. Two seconds after the footage stops, I let him out for a little potty break and a brief run outside. He's a dear little boy. I dare you to keep your heart from melting over this one:

You see? Absolutely a delight! You giggle all the time over his simplest of tasks because they are so uncoordinated, so awkward, and so unassuming. He is a beautiful soul.

So what's the problem, you ask? Why, when this little boy makes everything so beautiful, should there be any problem whatsoever? Good question. You see, there is this other little boy that has also stolen our hearts for the past year, three months, and nineteen days. His name is Evan, and he has been the brightest spot in our home. Take a look:

He still doesn't know about Eli, yet. When we first brought Eli home on Saturday, Evan thought he was being replaced. He stayed downstairs with me for nearly the whole weekend. He would run to get away from Ammon or Nicole when they made loving overtures toward him. He lost his energy. He lost his appetite. He would lay on the floor at the foot of the stairs connecting their home to mine, and he would just stare up toward the top. It was so painful to watch.Someone so beautiful and so pure as Evan shouldn't have to ever feel that way, especially when he gives so much to us.

Living in this situation over the past four days has felt like living in a vice; the pressure is always on you, and you don't feel like you can get out. My darling little sister, Nicole, has been at her wits-end. She has felt like if she gives attention to any one dog, it will be at the expense of the other. Her loyalties are to Evan, of course, but she doesn't want to and shouldn't have to have loyalties at all. Both doggies deserve the best of everything good, just by virtue of being an innocent dog. It tears her apart.

Now, there seem to be signs that they are warming up to each other. It's like any change--one just needs time to get used to it. We cross our fingers in situations such as these:

Eli always wants to play with Evan. He follows him everywhere around the yard when we go outside for a potty break. Sometimes Evan engages in play, sometimes he doesn't. We are researching and trying every sound way to get them to love each other to death. It just takes patience. By the way, if you have any advice, it would be most welcome.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scattered life

I have a problem. You see, I'd much rather play around with the aesthetics of my blog page than actually blog. If you were a psychologist or a Hindi guru, you'd learn all you need to know just by my color choices. For the rest of you, it's no good. You all need a new post, which means I have to wade around in the swamp of my life, feel around with my feet to find and bring up the small bits of rusted metal, beer bottles, and rubber tires that would make my life seem interesting. So, here's what I dug up this time:

I'm writing a lot of letters these days. Compulsively, I write to everyone. I find it's a little exercise that calms my nerves while I am at work or in church. The only problem is that, when I am finished, I feel like I have wasted the hours that it takes to write them. I have nothing to show for it. The hours are gone, and I feel just as financially destitute, just as uneducated, and just as unfulfilled as before. Writing the letter only changed the position of the hands on the clock. Was writing to someone supposed to be like kissing a frog, only to have my life become miraculously beautiful afterward? I have no idea what my motivation is... but still, I write.

My family life is starting to make me just a little sad. As all of us kids start to grow up, we all think that the other siblings aren't growing as well. So when one makes a decision that seems odd to the others, we all remain convinced that their life would be so much better if they chose differently. Our family culture sometimes turns into one of control; if they're not going to do it our way, we'll withhold or manipulate, hoping that it will change their mind. I'm usually very able to give my family the benefit of the doubt, but not when it comes to this. You see, if there is one deal breaker for me in all types of relationships, it is in lack of respect. There's this attitude that says, "If you only did things my way, you'd be so much happier." It's painfully ignorant, and it makes pain shoot throughout my soul. It makes me want to cry. How can anyone be so sure that, even though there are so many different people in this world with different lives and different circumstances, there is one way to solve a problem, there is one path to success, and there is one way to be happy? People are not wind-up toys.

I think I talk a little too much. I'm going to try sitting on my lips for a while. The people around me are starting to give off little cues that I'm monopolizing the conversation. I can see it in their eyes. Even when people look away, you can still tell if someone is paying attention to you. The people I talk to are thinking about other things in their eyes if I don't lock my responses down to one, short sentence. I probably need to train myself to talk and think in sound bites, like spokesmen do when they don't want to be misquoted on television.

And then, while I was searching for accompanying photos for this blog post, I found these:

An underwater skyscraper

And an underwater tiger. They have no point, but I thought they were interesting.

Monday, May 24, 2010

...But now, I'm found.

I credit myself with happening to fall on the most marvelous little shop this weekend. For everybody that has never been there, you must go. For everybody that has already been, shame on you! You let me live my whole life thus far without ever hearing about this place. I'll need to hold a grudge a little while longer before we can be friends again.

And there it is... the temple for letter writers everywhere, a "crack-house" for paper addicts, a playground for paper-mania. This is my success story:

My life before Tabula Rasa Social Stationers is a dark one. I hardly remember it. When I think back one who I was or what I did back then, it seems as though it is someone else's life -- like it was a movie I watched or a book I read, not what it actually was... a life I led. I'm a clean man now, but I can still feel the craving at times, like when I'm stressed or on the weekend when I'm partying with my friends. It creeps into my blood: the need to find beautiful stationary.

Like so many of us, I got into stationary when I was young and stupid. All of my friends were writing letters, and in spite of better judgment, I thought, "Hey, why not? I'm curious to see what it feels like to buy stationary. What could it hurt to purchase some gold-embossed, blank note-cards just this once? I'm strong enough." But the cravings wouldn't stop, and pretty soon after, I was wandering the streets, going from store to store looking for the right lettersheets and matching envelopes that would stop the cravings. I prostituted myself, buying cards and envelopes that I didn't even really need -- stationary that somewhere in my mind, I knew it was ugly. But I was addicted. I was so high on letter writing that I just couldn't see what I was doing to myself and others around me by buying ugly stationary.

One day, I hit rock bottom. I was busy trying to do housework, but I just couldn't concentrate. I had to write a letter. My breathing was heavy. My palms began to sweat. I got that familiar headache and tingling in my head that comes when I've gone too long without a hit. I got in the car and drove over to Barnes and Noble. I picked up a few folios of whatever I could find, paid at the front, then drove home. My little dog who I love so much greeted me at the door. He knew where I had been. He could smell the cheap notepads and slutty stationary sets all over me. I froze. He looked up at me then began lick his rear as if to say, "When is it going to stop, Aaron?"

I broke down. I fell to the floor, curled up in ball like a fetus in the womb and cried like I have never cried before in years. I felt it all at once: I didn't like who I was. I felt dirty. I knew I wanted to see my dog grow up, but at the rate I was going, I knew I wouldn't be able to. After hours of crying, I picked myself up off of the floor and began searching the internet for resources to help.

I found a website for this store in Salt Lake City called Tabula Rasa - Social Stationers. Something inside me spoke. I felt the universe guide me to this store for healing. I wrote down the address on a small, torn-off piece of paper. I kept that paper safely tucked away in my pocket for days. It was my light at the end of the tunnel, my talisman against the demons of polka-dots and poorly designed damask patterns on letter pads intended for teenage girls and post-menopausal cat-ladies.

This last Saturday, I went through Tabula Rasa's Fifty-Step Program: it's fifty steps from the entrance to Trolley Square to the entrance of their store. They don't rush you; you take as long as you need to walk those fifty steps. You can even have the support of your family and friends around you as you make those final steps to recovery. I knew that I was finally "on the wagon" when I bought this:

24 Sheets of antique 'par avion' stickers to put on the outside of my envelopes. And just to make sure that I knew what it felt like to buy gorgeous, quality stationary (to ensure that I would never go back the same road I came), I bought a box of this:

When I got home, I found my dog half asleep on the couch, wasted. The very one who inspired me to change was almost passed out next to a Hallmark bag with pastel-colored floral note-cards scattered everywhere. It seems as though he's fallen in with the wrong crowd. But as long as Tabula Rasa is only one hour away, there is always hope.

John Doe (name changed for privacy) is now a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah pursuing a degree in Psychology. He hopes to one day bring help to recovering stationary addicts like himself. He is in high demand as a speaker, touring the country one day out of the year to speak on the dangers of ugly letterpaper and cliche greeting cards to high school audiences.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Following a job well done on my latest lesson, I have decided to treat myself to the delights of the city. You see, if one escapes the nomalicy of Utah County, or the UC as we sometimes call it, one must fully embrace the offerings of Salt Lake -- as cosmopolitan as is possible in this state. There is never a shortage of experience to be had; the city offers, and you either accept or are taken aback by the unfamiliarity and decline. Salt Lake asked me, the Wallflower of Utah County, to dance, and I took her hand and allowed her to lead me across the floor she knows so well.

Where did she lead me to? Today, it is the Beehive Tearoom on Broadway. Here, you share tea with your soul in Miss Havisham's dark and warm study. A cup of vegetable soup, spinach and artichoke sandwich, and hot pot of tea... they stir my soul, gently waking my heart from complacency as gently as a wise, old grandmother. Take a look at where I'm sitting:

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My big mistake...

Do you remember this post? It was right before I went to go pick up my dear little Pistol. I was reflecting on all of the quirks that I used to scoff at before I became a doggy parent, and I noticed with my impending responsibility that I was becoming a neurotic parent myself: organic foods! Safety border-lining on insanity! Etc, etc. Apparently I was scoffing too much, for last night, I received this comment on that particular post:

"That is my family photo you took from my blog. The outfits were made by a family friend, so we wore them one Christmas. Brings back good memories for me. Make fun if you wish. I am not the person you described." --Jules--

Small world, huh? Either this lady is lying, and it really isn't her family, or it is her, and I'm wondering how she found my blog. I, of course, have no idea who she is or where her blog is. This photo was taken from a Google Search. I don't just wander on to people's blogs and steal their photos to make fun of them.

Second, a closer reading of the blog post never once returns the phrase, "Look at this family... they're neurotic parents." I tried to speak in general terms, a hypothetical situation that relates to everyone and no one. The photo served to kick-start my readers' imaginations.

Third, I'm very sorry. It's funny that this comment should come last night. Earlier in the day, I was walking my sister's little dog, thinking about how head-over-heels in love I am with that little boy. He's a Pekingese / Chihuahua mix. It's been said on several occasions before that he's a homely little dog. I just don't care. I have no concern at all for the way he looks. All I know is I love him to death. But if anyone says anything derrogatory about him, I'm crushed. It bruises me because it seems like they're not getting how beautiful and precious he is.

It was unintended, but I'm sure I did that to this lady. I'm sure she'd die for her kids, and for me to step in and use one of their more precious memories in such a calloused way is quite unlike the person I would like to be. Even if this wasn't the actual lady and was just someone out to cause a stir, it's still a good wake-up call. People cannot be oversimplified. That's half the reason for trouble in our world. People look at each other and assume they know each others story. Then, they pronounce judgment on each other quite unfairly.

So, what does this mean? I was writing about a hypothetical parent, so I must use very general photos. From here on out, it will only be royalty-free images or clip art. I will never use someone's personal or family photos again. It's not enough that I don't know them; they still exist somewhere. They're real people. If I want a photo to illustrate my discussion of a neurotic parents, I have to find a photo where people were paid to look like or are pretending to be neurotic parents. I'll be leaving the original photo up for two weeks or so, just so everyone has a chance to go back and look at it if they want -- to jog your memory of the post, and to pause a while, imagine the family in a positive way (how much they love and take care of each other) to make up for the way I used them earlier. Then, I'll put up the kind of general photo I spoke of earlier.

After receiving Jules' comment, I wanted to shrug it off, pass the blame to someone else, justify my actions and suppose her reactions were far too sensitive. That kind of deceptive self-preservation gets our society further away from where it needs to be. Thank you, Jules, for giving me the opportunity to learn the grace to admit fault when fault arises, and the opportunity to hone my habits of respect for others.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Natural-Born Consumer

"Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).

Fail. Just chalk it up to another fail. I covet all the time. If anyone really knows me, they could describe me as such: covetous. My Wishlist attests to this. It has always been one of my most favorite hobbies to want what I don't have. Life is a game of identifying what I don't have, devising a plan on how to get it, finally owning it, and then moving on to the next item on the list. I keep little lists of things I want to buy, and then I go over my monthly budget and finances, once, twice, more than five times a week to see what it is I can afford to get this time. And sometimes, I just want, want, want so badly that I impulse buy. What a gross admission.

Let's look at what's wrong with this picture: can I really be satisfied with anything when I just want all of the time? Not really. Like I said, there's always something else on the list, and the list never ends. If I acquire one thing, there's always one more item that is added to the end of the list. Ergo, there is always something that, in my mind, I do not have, and I'm just miserable without it. Didn't you get that from my last post?

Did you ever see Confessions of a Shopaholic? Our protagonist describes her problem thus: "When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it's not, and I need to do it again." This has been my unconscious philosophy for dealing with life. Just acquire, and you will be happy.

I'm a visual person. I can walk into a bookstore, and all of my problems go away. I am cleansed by the sight of things I don't have, and every book promises to make me into a better person -- more controlled, or more educated, or more open-minded, and of course, much happier. All, I have to do is buy it. Or perhaps I feel overwhelmed or burdened; I go to a bookstore and check my problems at the door. It becomes such a marvelously positive experience that I just have to have a souvenir of my "journey."

How shallow. Let's just all get that opinion out into the open.

I simply have too much stuff for one person my age. I knew that when I moved this past January. I saw myself buried under a mountain of merchandise with no organization to any of it. You know that feeling you get when you look at a gaping hole in someone's flesh? Your friend falls off his bike and breaks his leg with a big bone sticking out of his skin, and you shudder with absolute shock and disgust? That's what I feel when I look at the state of my finances.

So, my strategy for change begins with this mantra: find fulfillment in doing, not having. If you buy a book, read it all. If you buy a DVD, make sure you'll watch it often (may I just say, I recommend seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development for this -- you will never make a better investment for entertainment). If you have an instrument, play the living hell out of it. Write. Read. Think. Those are the cheapest and longest lasting forms of fulfillment.

Yes, I see myself drifting off the road into a ditch, and it is so difficult not to over-correct the steering wheel. In fact, I do that all of the time. I shut off all spending, making myself impossibly miserable. I need a gentle transition back to the road. Finding fulfillment in doing does necessitate spending, sometimes. (I hope this is sound logic and not justification). You have to spend money to travel. You have to buy books you want to read if the library doesn't have them. You have to buy music if you want to be able to play it. Some of that is inescapable.

Now, I'm at the end of my post, and I want to delete the whole damn thing. That would be a shame, seeing how I post so infrequently. So, I'll hit the "Publish Post" button before I think better of it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Santa Baby....

Dear Santa,

Look, I know you aren't due here for another eight months, but we seem to have a good relationship going; I behave, and you bring me stuff. Who says that only has to be one time a year? The Easter Bunny picks up your slack in the spring, my parents and family have to fork out cash and presents on my birthday... from where I sit, it looks like you have it easy. So, let's talk about what I want in the meantime.

Santa, my life is on the line. I am absolutely dying for lack of one of these:

In spite of my best efforts to save up for one, things just aren't moving as quickly as I want. You see, summer is here, dude. Summer is the time to read. Most obligations run away in the warm weather, and school work never seems as pressing.

Reading is a lovely activity. Surely you can see its merits. And my request is very honorable. I mean, how many children actually ask for books for Christmas? I'll bet you've carried your share of Harry Potter boxed sets over the past few years, but other than that, who really asks for books? This is an investment opportunity for you. Here's how the logic of this present goes down: you decide to give me one, and you only have to carry 1.4 pounds to my house; from here on out, the books that I want for Christmas, you deliver wirelessly to my Kindle via Whispernet; the decreased poundage in delivery saves your back, not to mention the countless chiropractic visits you go to on the other 364 days in the year; you give me the Kindle, and I read voraciously; I read voraciously, and become more educated; I become more educated, and I get a damn good job; I get a well-paying job, and you have no need to give me free stuff anymore -- you can just send me post-cards. Brilliant!

Santa, I'm stuck without it. I can't see the sense in buying more books when all the ones I want are available on Kindle anyway. I'd end up buying them twice! So, this is completely up to you: do you really want me to be miserable? Do you really want me to ruin my back by shuttling stacks and stacks of books back and forth from the library?

Sincerely yours,

P.S. If you don't comply with my simple request, then I might just have to march into a few elementary schools and tell as many kiddies as I can that there is no Santa Claus. Is that really what you want?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You've got it all wrong

I think there's something wrong with the world when the top news story on is "Ricky Martin Announces He Is Gay" and the last story on the Top 10 is "Suicide Bombings hit Moscow Metro." (at 21:50p MDT, 29/03/2010). Don't get me wrong; I'm happy for the dude to unburden himself. But one man came out of the closet, whereas 38 people died. Judge for yourself.

I think there's something wrong with the world when people are so consumed with getting in front of other cars when driving. Did it ever occur to you to get behind someone? I look at someone who signals to wedge into the three feet of space between me and the next car, then I see that there is no one behind me for two blocks, and I think "what?! Are you serious?!" Do you really have to be in front of me? Will that one car length make that much difference?" Disgust.

I think there's something wrong with the world when everyone tries to appear as though they're on a catwalk, sending the signal: "You want to be me." No. Sorry. I just want to walk across campus without feeling like a potato. Maybe everyone should just relax and fart in public. Then, the masquerade will be over and everyone can be themselves.

I think there's something wrong with the world when higher education makes you feel like the biggest loser. It makes me wish I went to trade school to learn how to build stuff to compensate for all the people who tear down.

I think there's something wrong with the world when praise and good opinion are the scarcest resource on the planet. You can poke a giant hole in the ozone with your carbon emissions, and most of us will all die unfulfilled and thirsty.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today, You Get an "F"

Failed, failed, failed. I'm so sick of that word. It's the only word you have in your head when not a damn thing goes right. You try to get up early, and your body decides otherwise. Fail. You decide you need to go to class, but your health decides you don't. Fail. Today is your day to bring treats to the Senior Operator meeting, but your sister has to do it for you - on her birthday! Big, fat Fail! Then one of your old friends drops by the office to pick up a copy of the Quran you've had of his for the past year and a half. Yep, he came from Sandy, and you didn't bring it in today, so he left empty handed. Big, big, fat Fail. I shouldn't have gotten out of bed today... but wait I didn't. That was the whole problem.

While we're speaking of failing, should we even mention the fact that this is my first post in over four months?

My only consolation? This little boy loves me like no one else. This is Evan, my little sister's dog. We live in an upstairs/downstairs duplex now, and this little dog loves to come down and sleep on my lap. He likes to run down the stairs and dance excitedly when he sees my face. He loves me even after I accidentally dropped him when going to get the mail yesterday. Yes, I dropped him. I was the bad dog. I missed my work meeting today and all of my classes, but still, I was the most important person in the world today to someone - this precious little dog.

I always hope that Christ's mercy is like a dog's disposition. If He's as forgiving as dogs are, we are all in good hands.