Flights of Fancy

Marianne Dashwood's journal intime

Occupying my mind
Tonight Hot Sauce and I went to the Occupy Provo meeting. They have a meeting everyday. They're not camping out anywhere yet because they can't find a legal way to do so. But they're staging protests every day. They're pretty cool people.

This being Provo, a good chunk of them are BYU students and, I'm assuming, Mormons. They're mostly PoliSci majors. The other people are UVU students, a super communist guy, a super animal rights girl, and a 12-year-old boy, mom, and grandpa originally from Mississippi. They're extremely civil, none of them want to get arrested, and the discussion is all rather tame. I'm toying with whether or not I could go protest with them tomorrow. I have to take a test at some point during the day. I would want to make a poster that said "Live simply that others may simply live." I probably won't do it. But I like that these are the kinds of places Hot Sauce invites me. It's a little adventure we can have together. He's like Perchik. Only not a communist. And cuter.

I had two parallel conversations within 24 hours - one was with the neighbor boy last night and one was with my group for my Chinese culture class today. They were both about how Buddhism is kind of like the Book of Ecclesiastes. I didn't even bring it up the second time - I thought it was a pretty odd thing to be in the zeitgeist.

But it reminded me to write about it. Overall, I think Buddhism is pretty great. But the underlying principle of mujō kind of breaks my heart. It's the idea that everything is impermanent. On one hand, this is really important to realize - everything is vanity, everything is going to decay and vanish, and we don't need to set our hearts on things that moth and dust doth corrupt. But in Buddhism, this applies to people and relationships. Don't get attached to things, to people, to families, because they all pass away. It's only through overcoming attachment and desire that you can cut the strings that keep making you be reborn into this world of suffering. 

But that's so tragically sad! Not the things - that's where it's spot on. Realizing that all of this STUFF that we're so worried about is impermanent and useless is a very good thing to realize.  But that one little oversight - the idea that the people and the love we create is just as fleeting - that's what breaks my heart. Because people are the one thing that we need and the ties between them are the one thing we get to take with us. 

And that's why Asian religion, as beautiful and peaceful as it is, will always be so fundamentally sad to me. Not that there aren't Buddhists who are truly good, loving people - but those who do follow the teachings that would have a man as fleeting as a dying cherry blossom - those are the ones who do not see the things in this world that are the most joyful and fulfilling of all.

Anyway, that's what's been occupying my mind. That and sad things in my family. None of them even bothered to get a permit, either.

Too much to say
I had so many thoughts today I was gonna write down. Some were about Ephesians 2. Some were about the weirdest thing I've noticed about Protestantism. Bur I'm so tired my fingers don't really move.

So, here's all I can think of to say: happy families are really wonderful. But it's really easy to get very bitter when people say that if your experience was otherwise. But here's what I say: if you didn't have a happy family growing up, you do your utmost to create a happy family for your kids. If you don't have a chance to have kids of your own, you do your utmost to make life better for someone in your circles who needs you to be family to them. That's as articulate as I can get right now, but it's really imperative.

A memory that's been bothering me
I know I'm kind of tough and assertive sometimes. I had to learn to be because for a long time I've been the girl who had to take care of herself. When I was in France with a group from college, the guys in our group made a big deal about talking about how the girls should always be safe and take a guy with them when they went out into town or walking around the streets. I thought that was very chivalrous of them. And they made sure, whenever Jamie or Elizabeth, who were beautiful, went somewhere, that one of them was on the job ready to escort them around the unknown city. 

Then my friend Jenny and I told the group we wanted to check out the public market. "Cool," they said. "Have fun. Let me know if they have any cool stuff," they said. 

The thing is, Jenny and I could handle ourselves. We spoke French, we had a good sense of direction. We even managed to take ourselves on a day trip to Geneva and back. We didn't run into any trouble and we were just fine without a strapping young lad there to keep us safe. 

But it would have been nice to have been treated with some consistency and respect. It would have been nice to be acknowledged as women. And that's the worst thing about our cultural trends that value some things that women have to offer but not the things that matter. It makes a lot of invisible women. And that's a really sad attitude to have to deal with. 

Setting my mind to things
I've made two resolutions that I've kept for two weeks now, and I'm feeling so willpowery it's exciting.

First of all, I'm not eating sugar. I'm still eating fruits and some limited things with sugar in them (like bread and things that are made with it but not excessively) but no candy and sweets. It's going really well. The only thing I've eaten was a little piece of a muffin because Hot Sauce brought them over and I didn't want them to go to waste, but other that that I've been doing super well.

The other resolution started two weeks ago in church - one of our high council members got called on a mission (he's a doctor, and it's the being-the-regional-missionary-doctor type of mission) and spoke in our ward before he left and it was actually all kinds of inspirational. He told us to eat healthy and to get sleep because it's our responsibility to our bodies and I was all "Yeah! Yeah! You tell it!" there in the congregation. In fact, if I were in one of those holy roller Southern churches they show on movies I probably would have stood up and shouted "Amen!" But I'm not so I just wrote little notes. But then he said that we needed to exercise (which I'm all about) and said it should be for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. And so I decided that since I was so enthusiastic about him I should probably extend my enthusiasm to things I wasn't currently doing. I've been exercising regularly for years, but only 3 times a week, and I've been running a mile (on the treadmill) and then doing weights. In all fairness, I haven't had time for much more than that during the school year and that's why I kept it so short. But I decided that if he said it should be 5 days a week it should be 5 days a week and if he said it should be 30 minutes it should be 30 minutes. So for 2 weeks now, I've been doing it - running for 30-40 minutes 5 days a week. My knee feels a little beat up (because my legs aren't quite the same length) so I'll have to figure that out, but overall I feel fantastic. Every day as I walk back to my house I have this awesome feeling like I own the world.

The only trick now is to keep it up when school starts. I have a dang 8:00 class this semester (why does Chinese do this to us? 8:00 every day) so I'll have to figure out how to schedule the running and still get to school on time. But it's cool to be doing well at something that I used to be very bad at. I used to be the fat kid who couldn't run a mile in high school and tried to avoid it.

So, anyway. That's all for now. I'll post again when I have something interesting and non self-serving to say.

Cute cuteness
Remember all my dear cute students from Taiwan? Well, a good chunk of them are currently in Provo, Utah. And I am teaching a few of their English classes. And I ran into the other group that I'm not teaching (that contains most of the ones I know the best) in the middle of the Cougareat today and had my picture taken like 43 times and got at least three separate gifts. Why are they such sugar coated little darlings?

So, at the beginning of the day, we were walking with 23 Taiwanese high school students across campus and into the Wilk where we had a room reserved. On our way in the doors (I was being a shepherd) we intersected with an EFY group (a groups of American high school students) and were all going in the doors together. The Taiwanese kids were all linked arm-in-arm with at least one other member of the same gender, and several of them sharing parasols. The American kids were each linked arm-in-arm with a member of the opposite gender. My Taiwanese students were all sorts of shocked and started muttering in Chinese. One of the American boys behind me said, "Why is everyone in this group wearing glasses?"

I, in my cute, cheap, trendy glasses from Taiwan, turned around and said "Because cool kids wear glasses."

Half-Japanese Babies
Do you know how many half-Japanese babies I know in my little world? A lot. It's funny, but that's what happens to people in my line of life, I suppose.

Today I went to Yuko's baby's blessing. It was really sweet of her to invite me. I would have felt like I was intruding  but she invited me rather explicitly, and the whole time there I felt totally comfortable. I wish I saw her more than I do - she's so great. But she's so busy now with two kids, but still, it's so nice that we're still doing things together. 

I was the "mother of the bride" at her wedding. I was kind of her bridesmaid - none of her family and very few of her friends could come to her wedding and it was really small, and I was with her and Tyler as they went in to the Salt Lake temple that morning because I was going to help her do her hair and they stuck a special sticker on me and called me the mother of the bride and it was kind of super neat. I've seen pretty much all of a temple wedding now, and all of that not actually being married myself. Plus, we got a kick out of the fact that I am now her "mom" and she's still older than me.

Anyway, today I went to her ward for the baby's blessing and he's such a cute little ball of fluff with really huge eyes. And his big sister Koko is four kinds of cute, simultaneously, and she's usually afraid of me because I'm a stranger but today we made peace because I was wearing bird earrings and she's a big bird fan lately. Every once in a while during the sacrament meeting she would point at my ears and shriek "tori!" and squeal with laughter.

And then after church we went to the park and I sat on a blanket in the shade with four Japanese women and their four American husbands sat at a nearby picnic table and their half-Japanese babies ran around in circles and mixed funny vocabularies together. And it was just so interesting, the conversations we had. It was all about the different approaches to bilingualism, and occasionally they'd ask me why my handsome bilingual boyfriend wasn't there and then we'd talk about people being afraid of radiation and the church work in Japan and the quality of nearby Asian markets and it was so interesting to me because I felt like we were sitting in this really narrow slice where two huge circles on a venn diagram overlap. But it was a really lovely day.

Here's the other funny thing that happened:

On my way to church, I had been riding my bicycle down Freedom Boulevard which is a part of town where white people are in cars and "ethnic people" or teenagers walk on the sidewalk. This isn't even the part of town where there are three really quirky and slightly liberal college professors who ride their bikes to work - that's up on the hill on the other side of campus. No, this is right next to the power plant where bicycles don't belong in the landscape. And I was on my bicycle in the left turn lane in the middle of the street because I was a vehicle wanting to turn left and that's what you do.

And up beside me - at my left since I was keeping to the very right edge of the lane - pulls a white sedan. Very new and classy, and they were edging awfully close so I turned to look at them. The passenger side window was rolled down and a very well put-together old lady was smiling at me. She had white hair set in perfect curls and wore white-framed President Kimball glasses (I was going to call them Malcolm X glasses but that would just ruin the mood of the description I'm trying to set up) and she asked me:

"Excuse me. Do you need employment?"

I was a little taken aback but wanted to be pleasant. I thought about my four jobs. "No, I don't actually. But thank you."

The light then turned green and I turned, and they pulled on past me but I was still totally baffled. Was that a nice gesture you do when you see a girl in a bright flowered skirt riding a bicycle in the part of town next to the power plant because she looks like she's struggling to make it in material society? Was that what she meant, "Oh you poor thing you can't afford a car. Do you need employment?"

Or was she honestly looking for someone to do a job that needed doing? Maybe she was hiring a bike messenger. Why would you ask a random person in the middle of the street to do a job for you? I was very perplexed.

But it gave us a good reason to look at President Kimball's glasses at least, don't you think?

So, I gave up on Things.
I wasn't chronicling "things" well, so I decided instead to just be productive with my time. It has worked pretty well.

Yesterday I self-published an ebook. It's a little Mormony but may be interesting nonetheless. I made it 6 dollars because I wanted to make a little bit of money if anyone is interested, but I also didn't want it to be cost prohibitive. So here it is on amazon, and I'm afraid you have to have an ebook reader to read it; either that or read it on kindle for your computer. Let me know your feedback. :)

Re-tweeting, as it were
I liked the way Tatiana phrased it on Facebook today: "I'm pretty sure the rapture is happening every day. It's just that none of us are making the cut."

(no subject)
10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Thing Eleven
My thing today was spontaneous. I was at my research job and K started talking to me on google chat. She sounded a little down in the dumps. So I decided to check out a book and go give it to her. We had been talking about being mental illness hypochondriacs so I found the book that started it all in me: ABCs of the Human Mind. Published by Reader's Digest. Now THAT'S science. Made me dig psychology as an adolescent; I probably read it about 50 times.

Anyway, I found it in the BYU library, had them put it in a plastic bag because it was raining like a leaky bag of heaven, and I got on my bike and went to see my little friend. And it was great and we chatted about interesting things like we often do. So this Thing was a good Thing all around. Plus, it stopped raining my the time I had to bike home.


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