The Return of the Author

I realize that it has been close to more than four to five months since I last wrote here. I got busy. What that means is that I got married, started a business, and now it’s time to write on this blog from the perspective of a new business owner besides the random musings that otherwise occupy this piece of Internet turf.

My thought processes and feelings are not quite the same as the person last writing the pretty though starry-eyed posts before. I love my husband, and we are getting used to being married. It’s still new for us, and last Sunday someone asked how the newlyweds were doing, so it’s still new for everyone else, too.

The wedding was good, though the prep for it still makes me shudder. A miniature rant on the processes of finding and buying dresses would not be enough to make my ego deflate on the topic. Suffice it to say, I am not like other women on the planet… or maybe I am. Sleeveless dresses are NOT an option for me. It’s not a case of weight. It’s a case of personal preference and religious observation. David’s Bridal is the Kmart of bridal collections.  But not when it comes to inexpensive. More like, they’re all cookie cutter, sleeveless numbers where the only difference between them is the designer and the skirt style, basically. Can you tell I went there to get a gauge of the scene and kept on going? Yep!

WEDDING DRESSES SHOULD BE ABLE TO COME WITH SLEEVES!

Had I been able to scream this any louder than capital letters, you would hear it from bull-horns filling Cowboy Stadium in a sold-out crowd. One should not have to wait until winter time to find a dress that comes with sleeves attached.

Why do I need a jacket for a wedding dress? I want my dress to fit me, and I have enough chest that having sleeves built into the dress makes a gigantic different about how the rest of the dress will lay, how to get in and out of the dress, and whether there will be a slip underneath, etc. Instead of waiting for the dress to buy the shoes, buy whatever shoes you like and then take them with you to the fitting. Little things like this come into play when dealing with bridal retailers. It feels a little like buying a computer or a car, and is a similar process.

In the end, there were no options in my state, and so when I flew out to meet his family, I had one weekend to find a modest dress. It happened by the skin of teeth metaphor.

Sorry, Chicago, but you were LACKING in this department. My dress was soft white, called ivory, and my veil worked out by the grace of the Almighty. It was one densely-embroidered piece of fabric held on my head by a tiara picked up by a very kind friend who let me borrow her shoes.

When getting married, remove all notions that any decision is strictly yours. Unless you take five years to get married (seriously? Is the wedding then for you and your family or a town meeting?), then get it over and done with. Your family will do its own thing, his family will be angelic, and in the end, it works out similar to the end of Spaceballs. The short-short version: Do you? (Yes.) Do you? (Yes.) Good, You’re married. Kiss her.

The reality of the day was more like a pretty white and gold party. The people who could make it and were invited came. We had a luncheon, and then had our honeymoon. That worked out well. In returning to Chicago, the honeymoon continued. I admit that I wish that we could do a reception or open house, but somehow I think we’re past that and it won’t be happening. My family was crazy, his was patient, and we survived it.

I gave an “introduction to the couple” talk at Church, and as of August 8th, three trips on the El, and more than three hundred dollars later, I own a sole proprietorship and hope to be able to do good work.

As of now, many of the photos are on Facebook and we’ve settled in. Time to go to bed and work on business Monday.  Tomorrow is Church and the one day of the week I tend to knit/crochet/whatnot anymore. Hoping that life works out for the best with God en tow.

GenealogyDr

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Pressure

Last night, someone asked me if I was happy with what I was up to: two Masters, trying to find a new job, being super-busy with Church stuff, and otherwise under a lot of pressure. My answer didn’t really sound that good. I want to be obedient to God and because of that, I don’t expect immediate happiness. That just sounds bad. It seems like the point of doing all of this stuff is becoming happy, and I don’t remember what it’s like to be happy. I can remember gratitude, but at the same time I’m trying not to panic every second of the day.

Having problems isn’t really going to change. Everyone has issues, whether they’re health-related, whether it’s employment or family or school or relationships or whatnot. Some of the problems get solved, and a lot don’t. At least not in ways that are convenient or otherwise things that are “nice and fluffy.” There’s no puppy or reward for completing some of these issues. New problems come up to replace the old ones. While I like being a problem-solver, the solutions that I see to the problems are things that I can’t do anything about.

Maybe my worldview actually isn’t that bad. I do everything that I know to do, and I have faith in grace. I try to have a lot of patience because my life is non-ending pressure, and there isn’t adequate outlet for it. I don’t know anyone who is happy-go-lucky all the time. Attitude does have a lot to do with it, however.  Everywhere I go, I’m expected to be an example of my belief system. To literally live my religion as well as I can. People have perceptions of those in my religion that could be anything, and a favorable impression is the best thing that we can do.

We don’t persecute others and wish not to be persecuted. I feel sorry for politicians who ascribe to my belief system as politics is non-ending catfights and sorrow. I love peace, quiet when wanted, and a time to dance in positive manners when possible also.

Anything that isn’t perfectly in accordance with my belief system in my life makes me upset. This isn’t necessarily about other’s actions very often, but about my actions. Of late, there are myriad examples of things are not in perfect accord but all of them require things that are not under my control to correct them. I have built my own puddles and walls but I don’t own ladders and don’t have bridges. There is honestly no way that I can save myself (ha. not possible to save yourself, no, but wanting to make up for things- that is where I fall flat on my face and break my nose no matter how much I want to repent.) Saying that you’re sorry often is not enough on these things. It is paying things back bit by bit. I just don’t have the ability to do so now. That is the reason that I want a job besides paying bills.

It feels like the math concept where a line can get so close to zero, but never quite gets there. I feel frustrated that I will never get where I need to should be. Although I am grateful for where I’ve gotten so far, all that I can ever see is where I am insufficient and it compounds when looking at the different aspects of life. I see all of my errors and how I don’t have ways of fixing them. Some of these errors have been around for a while. While none of them bar me from participation in religious activities, I’m sick of having my soul eaten up by acidic pain, remorse, or guilt over things that I would change in an instant had I ability.

It’s like looking at the homeless people when going on or coming off highways or at major intersections and seeing their signs and not being able to do anything about it because of being on low fuel and not having cash or otherwise ability to do anything. I don’t care whether someone did things to get to the point where they’re at. Who hasn’t? God doesn’t look at someone and says, “Oh, you did this to yourself. I’m not helping you.” He looks at them, shows compassion, and helps them get to a better place: training or something else that changes people and helps them toward a better life. I desperately want to be better and to be clear, and it’s not happening. Prison isn’t just for cell inmates. I talk to God a lot, and He doesn’t bug me about the things that I haven’t been able to change. I think that He knows that I know them well and want to fix them and don’t have a clue how to do it currently besides what I’m already trying. I typically come back with more things to do, and my feet feel bashed because I don’t see how I can get them done when I need to get these things done…somehow.

When you’re capable, it seems like you become more alone. People expect more of you, and sometimes you have extremely kind friends who help you get from A to B, but most of the time expectations are that you will figure it out for yourself. That you will do something that will save yourself, or that you won’t mess up or somehow that you will see any or all dangers and not make any mistakes. Nothing will really get to you; somehow you’re superhuman. That is RIDICULOUS thinking. It sets an extremely unfair double standard on people and makes it close to impossible to recover. The world is a very cruel, cold, lonely, bitter place.

So, all of those judgements, whether they come from others (often the case), or come from internal sources (people usually tell me that I’m too hard on myself, but I figure that it’s better me being hard on myself versus someone else being hard on me- beat them to the punchline, as it were), it’s a LOT of pressure. Saturday and yesterday, besides asking whether or not I was happy, I had people who told me that I needed to de-stress. I would if I could, but I can’t, so… I can’t. I am responsible for myself. I have extremely good friends who are kind and thoughtful, but the only person putting me first is me. And that doesn’t work out that well, either. There’s only so much self-talk that a person can do to feel better, work harder, or otherwise keep going. I do believe in infinite capacity and that God can do miracles and all. I just wish that they came before I was literally falling head-first at the ground and I can’t see anything to catch me.

The falling head-first without security is how I have felt starting in 2005, but was more apparent after 2008. But that’s when everyone lost security and safety. 9/11 was the beginning of restrictions in the name of safety, but trying to be a good person, trying to pay bills, and advance in life feels like trudging through the swamp in the Never-Ending Story where it’s just almost too depressing for words. Governments are destroying themselves, laws are passed that give no one any rights and take rights away, and people are dying more often now than before no matter what kinds of medical breakthroughs attempt to extend life longer. My generation is not doing better than my parent’s generation even though their generation expects it and says there is something wrong with us if that isn’t happening immediately.

I miss being part of a family. Miss a support system that kept me safe. I was brought up so well, and I received such an incredible education. My home life was amazing, but there were definitely flaws, most of which I didn’t know until I was out of the house. Now, my generation feels lost. We want to hold to something. Anything with a feeling of permanence to it. I’m a little surprised that anyone gets married anymore, even though I definitely believe in marriage and people having families.

I see other people who can figure it out (jobs, families, progression in life), and on one side wonder either what’s wrong with me, or else what can I do to change things? (meaning changing myself, not wanting to change them.) That’s about the time when I put my faith back in the tool belt and keep on walking because I can still walk and I don’t know what else to do. If I was sick in addition to my current maladies, I think I’d break. I may be sick, but I haven’t been able to get to a doctor for a long time and I do my utmost to try to stay at least symptomatically-healthy. There may be worse things going on, but I literally can’t afford to find out right now.

Guess there’s one thing left to do at that point. When at the end of the rope, make a knot, and hold on tight. I have nothing left but faith, and maybe an Internet connection if I can pay the bill.

Best to all,

GenealogyDr

Loyalty

I write this post with a little of a heavy heart. Recounting what happened this summer to a former friend, I realized that this summer there has been my car accident, two friend’s parents died, two friends went through surgery (one brain surgery), I found out that my Mom’s best friend is dying, and that my family has bigger issues than I realized.

Last year, both schools acted like I was a traitor for not being “only at one school” when THEY were the ones that set up the joint program in the first place. It was like siblings fighting over toys. Now, I am no longer part of a joint program, but still doing two Master’s degrees at the same time. My present degrees dovetail better than my previous degrees did, and where scheduling may not fit with one, I then get material in the other. I feel like I am pulling up a zipper and whatever this clothing item is fits nicely.

I am no longer being split apart. It is harder in some aspects because neither school naturally communicates with the other, but I finally got over that at the end of last year and decided that if I was going to do this, I had to keep up and do it on my own. I work as hard as I can with my advisors, but in the end these degrees depend upon my coursework and not on anyone else’s work, ambition, or similar things.

Along with this is the need for a job. I had one job, and then another opportunity presented itself. That opportunity evaporated, and although I may be able to get the old job back, the commuting costs versus the pay and hours did not come together well. I need something else.

School feels steady. I am only starting the semester, but along with that I feel like there is a genuinely secure feel even though nothing is truly set up. Why am I so calm? Why have I been pretty calm through all of the employment shifts and changes? The only thing that really shook me up was the family trouble, and somehow that has to work out. I think that I am extremely lucky that it is the beginning of the semester, and I need and am able to get something together instead of feeling like I am only ending up somewhere.

Despite or because of all of the insanity of the summertime, I feel surprisingly calm. Not exactly happy, but somehow dealing. Not neutral, exactly, just… to quote from the Bible, “I know in whom I have trusted.” (gentle paraphrasing), so I’m not freaking out quite so badly as is customary in a dead economy when nothing really makes that much sense. Pressing forward even when there isn’t time to process life. I guess it’s called growing up.

Best to all,

GenealogyDr

One Year Mark

Today I reflect on one year in this town. The anniversary already passed in mid-July, but I was a little busy to reflect on it much then. I kind of hate saying it, but it took me a year to transition from life in Utah to here. I came here, and it was “comparison city.” A fish that went from the salt water pond to the fresh water lake, it was probably the hardest transition made since I first went there. I never thought that I’d get used to it, or that any of it could ever be considered home. I denied it the whole time that I was there, but I was pretty much hooked. It wasn’t about the place, it was the people. People make a place home for me. I get asked where I am from. Still mention where I grew up, even though I haven’t been back there since Jan 2006. That was for a weekend for a friend’s wedding.

I’ve never told anyone that I was from Utah. I likely never will. It was home, though, for six years. People ask me where I am from now, and I get to say my town, and I feel like I’m from a cooler place. (There is more to do here, period.) I never made fun of the location when I got here, though, because I lived there and I learned to appreciate it. I met someone’s sister and it was actually the first time that I made any in-kind jokes about the place. Nothing bad, just hadn’t done it before.

I am a lot more sensitive to people making snarky remarks about the place. While there are people who have to transition like I did, I never knew that was what they were doing until I had my year of crazy where I had to get used to life behind “the Mormon curtain” as a friend put it. You live in Utah and you get used to things being a certain way, which is absolutely different from everywhere else on planet earth. There is no place else quite like it. It’s not better and not worse than anywhere else. It’s just another place. Coming out of Utah, though, you get really sensitive to the culture and splitting the Church, the gospel, and the culture apart got harder than when I was growing up. I never saw the changes at all until I had that brief conversation with the guy’s sister, and then it was as if I saw where I changed incredibly. I was partly back to my old ways (pre-Utah) where I could see things in a manner where things were funny instead of being claustrophobic.

Being in this town, though, I have learned more respect than I had out there. My ward here is full of people from everywhere. That is nothing new to me. I’ve lived in big city (or multi-ethnic populated wards) my whole life. I served a mission in LA, and it is much more normal to me to have people from every walk of life and everywhere than a bunch of people who look, act, and think alike.

There’s no one right way of living the gospel. There are as many ways of doing things right as there are people within it. The basic commandments are completely standard. It’s not a “make up your own religion” place. There was a general authority sister, Chieko N. Okazaki, who wrote about giving a talk somewhere and holding up in one hand a bottle typically used for canning peaches, and a basket. Both used for the same purpose, gathering and preparing food for the respective women’s families. One way was not right and the other was not wrong. There are a lot of standards in the Church that dictate life patterns. This is on purpose. But honestly, being single or married, having children or not, being in a city or being in a rural area, in high-tech land or without electricity, the gospel works just fine in any environment. It’s not a bunch of middle class white people, thank heavens.

Also, it’s definitely not made up of only people with ancestors who crossed the American Mid and Mountain West in the 1840’s. Although I found that population disproportionately higher in Utah, that’s NOT how it is in the rest of the world. Also not how it is for my life.

When I was a child, I lived in a suburb of a big city and there were a lot of people who came there for work from Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. They acted like where they just moved to was a dirty place or that somehow it was not as good as where they left. That attitude left an extremely bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. I grew up thoroughly prejudiced against people from those areas. Now, I realize that either they didn’t know any better or else they needed the year to transition. I have more compassion for new kids from parts west. They’re not completely ignorant. That was another assumption that I had, and I tended to be one of the annoying Easterners who thought that I knew so much more than those westerners and made “corrective comments” in classes in college.

Well, guess what? Nothing works that way. No one is smarter, no one is prettier, no one has a right to judge unless given the authority from God to do so (and that’s pretty rare), and even then (to quote my Mom) God has better taste than to do that 9x/10. So now I’m living in a city where finding $10 when I was out of cash randomly is really humbling. And where 95% of my ward are converts (meaning chose to join the Church on their own versus growing up in it) and for the people who grew up in it, there is a deeper strength here that I have not seen. People here work HARD to be members. It is a choice, and it’s not an easy choice. Being a part of my Church has a lot of benefits to it, and it’s also not easy because you are different from other people around you. It’s not specifically a self-reflective thing about the difference. Other people see it and it makes a difference one way or another. If you’re not living up to what you covenanted to, that’s pretty obvious, too.

Living in Utah and being where I was gave me a lot of good experiences, and those should be coming out in a book soon. I was able to get a lot of experience with idealistic ways of how the Church can be, and I figured out ways of making things better that others hadn’t tried and they worked well before. They also work now, even if the actual product is different. The fundamental concepts behind it are the same. That is comforting.

I love this place, and I am extremely grateful for the people who I know, the people who I meet who are nice (and for the gruff or silent ones, I know that they have great hearts…just takes longer and more patience to get to know them if they allow it) and there are good things done here by extraordinarily great people. I have never been among a group quite like this before.

I have definitely loved groups that I was a part of in the past, and the people tried hard (for the most part) and accomplished a lot. Those places and the people were pretty transient and I got used to never really getting to know people THAT well. It is a tiring existence. Here, there are families and more-stable situations. People here are nicer, they care about each other, and they try VERY hard to do what is right.

It’s this little miracle group in the middle of a big city that’s not known for being kind, but gets things done. You know it’s here, but I was able to ignore the city for years without any problems. It’s kind of this amazing thing that leaves me in awe whenever I think about it. I’m among a bunch of titans. Whether or not we all agree all the time, that’s not the point. I love these people. I don’t know them all yet. Working on it, though. And I hope to have enough time here to get a chance to do it. I live in city-meets-suburbs, and you can see that the people here are genuine. We can be ourselves, and people WANT you to be yourself. It’s kind of fantastic in its own way.

I’m grateful for where I am now. I am not done by any means, and my life this past week alone changed so spectacularly that I am not sure how it will all work out, but I do know that things continually get better and I look forward to it.

Thanks for the hardest and most challenging year of my life so far,

GenealogyDr

 

Someday Kid’s Names

This is a more-personal blog than most. I don’t have any children, and am free of respective obligations in that regard at this point. Consider this post a hope chest of sorts, where I tell the world my version of the Odd Life of Timothy Green (or at least what I gather from the previews.)

My first child will be Meredith Anna, Mere (Mary) for short. A combination of named after a roommate that was nice, a version of my grandmother’s name, and Anna just works. Anna is also the name of one my very good friend’s kids. Spelled Mere, pronounced Mary.

Next kid is Elizabeth Kathleen, named after my sister and my Mom. One of the names is my Mom’s middle name. Call her “Kathy” for short.

Last, but not least is red-headed either Michael David (after my Dad’s middle name and I’ve never known a bad guy named David) or named after his father, whatever my future husband’s name happens to be. I have thoughts on that matter, but will keep them to myself. To be determined in many ways.

That’s the basic low-down. If there are more kids, figure out their names as they come along, or if the husband in question has preferences, or his parents, then that is fine. Otherwise, I want solid, easy-to-spell names for my kids. Names from other countries are fine, but I WILL NOT mess a child’s spelling habits up by creating some odd spelling where they can never find a souvenir with their name on it for the rest of their life! I have plenty of friends with normal names that can’t find them, nevertheless odd spellings that only make sense when they’re spoken. Being a genealogist, I realize that it is hard enough to figure out names given standard abbreviations. When people decide to be “original” they are only pushing back Webster more than a hundred years, resorting to old English when any old spelling was fine, and are condemning their child to a lifetime of spelling and re-spelling their names! So, please, for the love of your child, let their personality be original, NOT their name. Ranting rampage done.

Thanks,

GenealogyDr

Thoughts on Life

I never thought about how much I needed to get out-of-town until the past hour. I saw yet another homeless person, which made me think about how I’m much closer to them than they could ever imagine. The situation in the US when the Supreme Court can require people to pay for insurance when not able to afford to live in a dwelling space, period, if they want the status of legal, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens is too much. I have not yet read the legislation. I will admit that. Just not a fan of the Supreme Court writing into law yet another tax. And upholding it due to tax reasons. Same idea as getting Al Capone on tax evasion, which was brilliant for its time but kind of… getting them on the side instead of dead between the eyes as is the ideal. So basically, annoying. Satisfying when there is nothing else to work on besides that particular thing, but in general… not enough unless there is no other approach towards justice.

In this case, it’s working on the American people when it is a matter of regulating private agencies and upholding a system corrupted at its core in an inter-layered web of intensive and extensive lies and kick backs. I am not a fan of this. I am a conservative with small government preferred whenever possible.

The idea of the government forcing me to pay for something where I do not have a choice in the matter… I realize that Social Security is there and it set this precedent years ago. The idea was for a temporary fix, not permanence for all citizens. It was the answer to the Great Depression and did not have cost of living or other economic factors fitted into it. Watching how it happens now, people get discounts when it is their only support. That means that it doesn’t work for the time. That, and/or the cost of the good or the charge for it is too high. Same deal with students, and there are problems with what students make, also. While there is nothing that appears possible for solving the issues with Social Security, its existence and “constitutionality” was what made this pass the Court. And the fact that part of the ruling mentioned that it was due to the political race and leaving it to the people to change it. Guess what?

Our rights hang by less than a thread. They hang by the scraps of fingernails and nothing else. I’m done and sick of the lies that plagued the system for the past four years. While I used to not care, I’m done with that.

I glanced at a grandpa (or older father?) buying and eating an ice cream cone with his daughter/granddaughter today at the place where I found wi-fi. I got a hot dog because where I am traveling does not have hot dogs like this place, and it’s become an “addiction” of sorts. Watching a man who cared about his daughter (or grand-daughter) I grinned about memories where I did that with my grandpa’s. Just loved it. It really was about taking time, and the little girl was utterly cute and sweet. Things like that are what SHOULD be happening. People at Church have incredibly cute little children, and it helps me think that maybe it’s not quite as incredibly scary as it’s seemed during my entire 20’s. I’m not sure.

Definitely not baby hungry, but watching these grandpa’s (another came in with a little boy and they bought fries and drinks), it just makes me think of this place as a throw-back to a much simpler period where things still had some goodness. Life circumstances were less convoluted, complicated, and utterly survival-driven. I have not thought about childhood in a really long time. It will be nice to get somewhere where I can get away from men and just be GenealogyDr. No frills, no performing needed. No need to worry about making a good impression other than being respectful with friends.

I am the adult, but perhaps even I can take time out once in a great while and simply “be.” Otherwise, burn-out inevitable. I cannot out run my problems, but I can let myself relax (I usually describe this as “breathing”) once in a while. Everyone needs that. I need to get away from constant reminders of people who make me want to cry.

Off for the weekend although still working,

GenealogyDr

Decisions, Decisions: Update from Last Time

I took an “I” in the class. I fell down in that class and could not get back up again during the semester. At least, not for my personal projects. Moving during Spring Break was catastrophic for my assignment course load for that class even if it was extremely beneficial for me emotionally.

It took forever to choose the right project, but my West Point Foundry paper from 2000 is the right thing for this. Between Omeka- ouch, painful, painful, to creating a 3 minute movie using iMovie, I need to finish this class and get on with my life. Especially since it feels like my life is getting on without me lately.

I work for one of my universities and am looking for a second job to make sure that I hit 40 hours a week. Can’t live on less, honestly. When fall semester comes around, I will be starting a new program also, Digital Humanities in a new program at one of my schools. It’s one school’s answer to the need of programming in humanities work and follows in the steps of the great pioneers of GMU, NYU, University of Nebraska, and basically anyone who is trying to keep up over the past fifteen years.

Personal thought process after attending AHA in January is THATCamp is literally the only way that history survives. Although traditional monographs are good and they establish a doctoral student as a true candidate starting on the way to tenure, I sit at this moment in a Barnes and Noble in my town roughly five feet away from a shelf of monographs with historical leanings.  When something that anyone writes hits this shelf it is a privilege, but a person does not need a PhD to do it. David McCullough is not Dr. He’s just plain good and he writes excellent material. Reading The Johnstown Flood got me first interested in public history way back when. Now, I am more interested in defining the wheel rather than re-inventing it.

The likelihood that there of a nuclear war that takes out all electricity really is not that high. People, no matter how psychotic, typically want to live when it comes down to it. That defined, there is a reason that two rows over from United States History, Military History, and World War II there are Graphics & Web Design, Apple & Everyday Computing, Windows & Office Applications, and Programming. There are not enough monographs on family history for people’s consumption. However, monographs are not where many people look for this sort of information. Online or die. Hence, Economics and Accounting & Economics are the next shelf.

I feel like I am part of a very small little niche that encompasses the whole world. I know that there is hunger for the topic. Family is the basis for society when it’s not completely blown to bits. So many people want to know the answers to who they are, why they are here, and where they are going in this world or have similar thoughts in contemplating the meaning of life. That is what I want to do. Answer that question in a practical, uniquely-applicable approach, one person at a time. We’ll see what happens.

First, however, back to West Point and getting the basic archive, storyboard, and otherwise movie trailer made. Wish me luck.

GDr