Biddy and the Beast

Imagine that one stormy night, you hear a knock at your mansion door. You answer the door only to see a hideous old woman standing in the rain. She demands that you allow her to spend the night in your home. She's a stranger, and you have many valuable things that you are reluctant to entrust to her presence. In the end you decide not to risk yourself, your servants and your property and tell her to be on her way. Maybe you even offer her some money to find a hotel room.

Refusing to take no for an answer, she again insists that you not turn her away just because she's an ugly old woman. You stick to your decision and tell her no. Then she removes her mask and reveals that she's a beautiful young woman. She decrees that because you didn't want a potentially dangerous stranger spending the night in your home that means you have no love in your heart.

The woman then waves some magic wand and turns you into some kind of huge animal thing. Not satisfied with that crime, for good measure she then changes all your servants (who are all completely innocent bystanders) into various pieces of furniture and other household items, making sure they retain their consciousness and memories so they can experience every moment of this living hell in perfect lucidity.

She imposes an arbitrary date by which you have to fall in love and have it returned, a subjective experience in any event, and made much more difficult because of your new and grotesque appearance. If you fail, these changes will be permanent, and your entire household will be trapped permanently in this nightmarish existence.

Seriously, Gaston should have just married the "enchantress" from the beginning of the movie. The two jerks would have gotten along just great. And if the prince would have let her in to begin with, what would she have done? Married him? Is she not being just as judgmental as he supposedly was?  The crazy witch is really the bad guy in Beauty and the Beast. If there were any justice we would have learned that she was subsequently hunted down and burned at the stake.

Goal Tending

I think I've mentioned this a couple dozen times before, but I've never really liked setting goals. They generally conflict with the "Let's live from day to day and not try to worry about self improvement and ooh look there's something shiny" mentality I've worked hard to cultivate.

But since I started running I have found myself not only feeling better physically, but somehow my brain has betrayed me into trying to improve as well. So far these are mostly just goals related to running, but if I'm not careful I could actually wind up on the path to becoming a better person.

One good thing about some goals, at least, is that once they are accomplished you never have to try for them again. So with that in mind, I'm happy to say that this last week I met two running goals I've had in mind for quite a while. The first was to run a sub-1:30 half marathon, which I achieved thanks to an anonymous woman, who was running at an incredible pace that I tried keep up with for a few miles. Thanks, stranger, for reminding me that as long as we compete pridefully, we can achieve our goals (a lesson I first learned when setting goals as a missionary).

Anyway, I set the second goal a couple days later when, due to lack of time, I shortened a five-mile run to 5k. I decided to go for another personal best, and finally did it in under 20 minutes.

Fortunately, these are completely meaningless achievements, and aren't likely to lead to a run for the presidency or a vow of poverty (which would be redundant in any case). But I still get the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something much harder.

What about you? What pointless goals have you met lately?

Wax On

Remember the short-lived infatuation of Americans with karate in the 1980s, largely due to the influence of The Karate Kid? Well, I don't recall ever begging my parents for karate lessons, but maybe it just skips a generation. Or maybe it's because I was an incredible sissy as a kid. Anyway, for several years Sam has been interested in (read: obsessed with) Japan and martial arts, and he begged and begged to be able to take karate. But for a while we didn't think he was old enough (read: it was too expensive).

Once we got to Lehi, however, we noticed that the local rec center had a martial arts class that was reasonably priced. Not only that, but it was hapkido, a Korean martial art that I had been interested in learning. And so, we were eventually able to banish thoughts of "Put him in a body bag, Johnny!" and signed him up in January.

It's been interesting so far, and I think it will be good for Sam to learn some discipline and get good exercise. I've been thinking of joining the class too, as long as it doesn't interfere with my running. I should probably do it, though, because otherwise I'm pretty sure that within two years Sam will be able to break boards—using my head.

The Rebloggening

That's totally a word, right? Anyway, over the last few years as I've spent the majority of my day writing, I rarely want to stare at a computer screen on my own time. But for some reason I don't feel that way about mobile devices, so I finally decided to try blogging on my tablet. It's more ponderous, but maybe I'll just be concise. And I have something deadly serious to discuss today.

Let me begin by mentioning that I don't care what a tool looks like as long as it does the job. A hammer is a hammer, whether it's scarred and scratched or shiny and new. And a number of years ago I decided that was my official opinion on cars. If I could get a car that had the right features, I would be fine regardless of looks.

So, with child #3 preparing to rocket her way out of her poor mother's body (we'll be sure to get to the hospital more quickly next time), it seemed like the right time to upgrade our vehicle. Not to mention that both our current vehicles are nearly old enough to obtain driver's licenses for themselves. And so, at the intersection of safety and roominess is the minivan.

I grew up riding in a 1985 GMC 8-passenger beast, and largely learned to drive in it, so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. The kids love what we got, and it's actually pretty fun to drive. So, even though we now fit in more than ever into Utah stereotypes, I think we ended up with the right tool. Not that I want to be driving over any nails...

The Summer That Was

I had been planning this big long post about how challenging this summer was, but then I thought a short poem might sum it up better. I was going to add another verse about how we all got sick, but I figure this is enough. This is also the reason I hadn't posted for so long: I wanted this post finished before writing anything else. Anyway, here it is.

The Summer That Was

Twas a Thursday in late June,
A heat to make you choke
And as the day wore on we found that our AC had broke.

A simple fix we hoped for,
And so we called the man
"Can you come take a look tomorrow?" "Yes, we surely can."

But sad news was delivered:
Prepared for prolonged thirst
Because the part you need will be sent August 21st.

And so we mulled our options
In triple-digit heat
Deciding that, without a choice, this challenge we would meet.

And so a few days later,
The summer trials grew
My company informed me "There's no longer work for you."

We dug a little deeper
I followed every lead
And in a month had found new work of just the kind I need.

And now the final chapter
It was September when
Our poor AC was finally fixed, and life was good again.

Something Something Hot

These last few days in our house have been a fascinating experiment incorporating elements of psychology, physiology and biology. It all started last Thursday evening, when we realized that our house was 85 degrees despite the thermostat being set at 75. I called an AC repair company first thing Friday morning, and we were informed that it would take at least a week for the replacement part to arrive. In the meantime we’ve experience a slow descent into the depths of Hell, and I’ve become convinced that we are a part of some scientific experiment.

The mornings are comparatively pleasant, in the low 80s in the house, climbing to the mid-90s in the late afternoon, and remaining scorching until after the sun sets. We’ve been spending time outside and going various places as much as possible, but we can’t completely avoid the house. So obviously we’re hot and sweaty (I’ve discovered that I can drink more water than I ever expected), and more irritable, and it’s hard to be motivated to do any word around the house. The idea of cooking with the oven makes me want to faint.

Meanwhile, I’ve started putting the bread in the fridge so it won’t spoil quickly, I had to throw out a bag of potatoes that had rotted, and anyone on Facebook has seen the candles. And the saddest part is that this is happening during the worst heat wave we’ve had in years. Last year we didn’t have a single 100-degree day, and we’re in a string of a whole week of them now. I don’t even know what to say about that, except yell “I’m sorry for whatever it was!” at the heavens.

Vehicular Prosopagnosia

Okay, so I have been trying to decide whether or not to post this. Normally I mock those who not only do something embarrassing but also actively tell others all about it, but since I recently became accustomed to embarrassment as a form of repentance, here we go. And I thought I’d reward those who still occasionally check my blog hoping (mostly in vain) for updates.

Last night I went to Walmart. Calm down, that’s not the funny part. I got my groceries and headed out into the parking lot, congratulating myself for getting what I needed for the right amount of money. I tried to be patient getting out the door as a slow couple walked ahead of me. As soon as we were outside, I moved ahead of them and looked for my car. I parked in a different area than I usually did, so I was pleased to spot it right off. One of the few advantages of owning a car manufactured in the previous millennium is that it does stand out. So I walked to my car and put the key in the trunk to open it. But it wouldn’t open.

 I looked at my key and remembered that it was a copy I had made, and I haven’t had the best of luck with copied keys over the past few years. So I stuck it in the lock again. Suddenly, the trunk popped open. “There we go,” I thought. “But wait. Why is there a wheelchair in my trunk?”

“Excuse me,” a voice behind me said. “This is our car.” I turned around to see that the slow couple had caught up with me.

So, yeah. Same distinct car. Same color. Same parking lot, just one row over from mine. And we both left the store at the same time. We had a good laugh, and I went on my merry way (“merry” here meaning “red-faced”).

Bonus: Earlier that night a good friend of Katie's came to our door. When I opened it, she greeted me by name and asked if Katie was home. I thought she was just someone from the ward whom I didn't really know, so I just had to tell her "someone" was here.