Feeling Like Jello

I once ate Jello with chopsticks at the MTC. It’s not the hardest thing to do if you slightly break up the blocks so that there is something there for the chopstick to hold to.

My life feels like Jello. I think that I am falling behind in my classes although they seem to be all that I ever do. And even as I write that, I know that I spent more time watching TV this semester than I ever have before, and also a lot of time looking through job ads. God said that I needed to keep up with school, but He never mentioned how I would get through my  bills and that’s caused me to be a nervous wreck for a few months.

Although actually less stressful somehow, I just moved this weekend to another location in the city, pretty far away from the things that most people act like are important but closer to companies, businesses, and actually closer to one school. The amenities are resoundingly better than my last apartment, and although the commute to one school is much longer than it used to be, I get to deal with that next semester.

Today I am supposed to register for classes at the closer school and I have no idea what to attempt to get into. I want to do markup language coding and learn more languages so that I can mark up the way that I want to mark up and do things that help my projects progress and be happy. Personal happiness is a luxury now, not a right. It’s that elusive thing that living commandments is supposed to get you, and sometimes it just takes an attitude adjustment to get toward.

Nothing in my life is simple. I wish that it was, but instead, I feel like I am walking on Jello. God walked on squishier stuff, but I am starting to wonder if my current state of being is simply an attribute like a mark up language. I have some stability, but at the same time everything else flows around me and ignores me. Goes right past me and maybe that is a good thing.

All that I can see is that I have to hold on and do what God’s already told me to do. To live the commandments, I’ve turned down some really hard temptations, and when others would not listen to Deity, have been pushed aside akin to Miyagi’s wax on-wax off method. Whatever the method or reasons, I’m here now and am trying to figure out what to do with this lifetime.

Afterlife is easy: help with the gospel, do the right thing, keep on going. Done. Just work hard, and do as well as possible. Seems simple enough. All that I see for this life now is finishing school, making family history apps, working on the genealogy business, and otherwise paying bills. I wish that I could have a family, but that is dependent on other’s agency of which I do not have control and would not ask for that control to be had by me. Without someone else’s choices, my progression is limited in this life. It seems harsh, but it isn’t. Not everyone has the chance to marry. I think/thought that I will have that chance, especially as I am still fairly young. I’m young, but I have the weight of kingdoms on my shoulders and they hurt a little. I’d give my life for a good, honest, temple-worthy guy to help share the load and for me to share his load.

No matter what, I must keep going. There is no vice without a price, and in this case, I have avoided much and hope to be able to endure a lot more. God has said often that He expects a lot of me, and I don’t really know exactly what that is or how to get it done. How long did it take the Brother of Jared to figure out that God touching small stones could make light for the barges when crossing oceans? I mean, that’s REALLY creative stuff. I’m not honestly that good. I have an app. One app, and it could easily change the world. I feel like I am behind in everything that I do, but maybe I’m stuck in the DNA-style loop that seems to befit the fullness of times.

I don’t know what God wants me to do now outside of unpacking. Do homework, look for and apply to everything under the sun including scholarships, and become exhausted on a regular basis. Trying  not to drown.

Best from the GenealogyDr


The Uncoventional Motivational Speaker

Last night I attended a performance of Hero: The Musical. It’s showing at the Marriott Theater. Some years back, this rather obnoxious kid came through town to do a few character sketches for this play that he was trying to do. It will seem bad from the caricature, but I was the inspiration for Susan. That was me ten years ago. I know it because I discussed the character with him. He came up with it after talking with his friends. People who had met me one day prior, and apparently had me pegged in ways that were severely unbecoming. Last night that had me crying. Someone who met me for less than two days emphasized my biggest faults and added things that didn’t and don’t exist, like becoming a boozing floozy. The rest of the show was superbly well-done, and I’ll admit that I laughed at Susan like everyone else after my initial horror. The one thing that I am glad about is that all of these years later, I’m not Jane and I’m not Susan. I’m me. By the end, I was Hero, no comic book required.

Considering this in the morning day light, I thought “Why was I so unhappy with the portrayal of Susan?” Yeah, for one thing, her character was a caricature, and while accurate in idiosyncrasies, false in the realities. Something that got to me further was, “Why do others make fun of people trying to do well?” Between a conversation with a friend this morning and thinking about a roommate’s reactions to me in the past, there’s a lot of judgement going on. I’m not doing bad things. I’m not exactly or even close to how or what society wants me to be, but society is pretty screwed up anyway.

The current trend is to be some sort of liberal. I’m conservative in my dress, speech, behavior, and values, and get a lot of criticism for doing so. It’s not me judging other people. If they feel judged, that’s NEVER been my intention. From my perceptions, people judge themselves. No one in that play knew that I was there (outside of being an audience member) and definitely no one had ANY idea of my history concerning the playwright. And more power to him for creating a character that I recognized and for the rest of it, he also indirectly helped inspire this blog post.

Every time I turn around, I feel like there’s someone disapproving of me or of what I do. I’m a conservative religious female historian. I like the 1950’s ideals of family life, (not the witch hunts) and I’m sick of people telling me that something that I’m doing is wrong when it’s not. I believe in God. Most people in grad school don’t. That’s not my concern. I just ask that people let me worship how I want so long as I’m not trying to hurt or harm them. And no, I’m not trying to do either. My competitiveness deals with grades and my career options, and neither are worth harming anyone over.

Since I started my undergrad major, Family History-Genealogy, people asked me what I wanted to do with it. Now I want to look all of the them in the eye, and say with a smile, “Keep your family from going to hell,” and mean it. Within my cultural group, I get ridiculed from everyone but the leaders. What I do tends to make people feel guilty, and the topic (NOT the guilt) is something that I’m good at, something that I love, and something that only people who do or try it even remotely understand. Most people (myself included) aren’t always perfect at keeping every commandment and this is one that is essentially socially acceptable not to be good at.

People aren’t supposed to be good at genealogy unless they’re a bit crazy or something. Well, guess what? No one else pays my tithing, and I’m the only one in charge of my salvation besides the grace of Christ, so… may as well GET good at it. At least understand it.

I’m a little sick of people who make it their lot in life to complain about people who try to be good at Church and think that there is something else going on. Shut up, and let them live their lives and live yours! No one asked for your opinion, typically. My guess is that people in such thought processes are more nervous about something wrong in their own lives and want to push their negative thought processes on others. In any case, a lack of complaining helps.

Yes, I’m complaining about someone doing a caricature of me. Verbal complaints are one thing, and hopefully they take up as much air as they’re worth. Written down is something else. It’s why people get sued for libel, and it’s something that I don’t ever want to be a part of: either in suit form or otherwise. Makes things a little harder to mention bad things, but people who know English well enough know how to talk about sadness and anger without throwing mud pies at each other. At least, I hope not.

I wanted this post to be about people who choose to be conservative and being strong in value systems and how that’s just fine and is in fact a form of rebellion unto itself against an oppressively liberal society. We don’t have to be like everyone else, and that being firm in committed values is a good thing.

Now, this post is becoming reflections on how what a person writes effects people. I want to write my story for mass-consumption. Why I haven’t is that I have concern for my family. I don’t want to ring anyone through mud, and maybe have some sort of family left when it’s all done. It’s not a horrible story, but it won’t make us look perfect, either. Seeing how I reacted to the caricature makes me think how others react. Some people say to do things no matter what or without thinking about repercussions. I can’t live that way, and in modern society, no one can. Not sure where the line is between doing what one feels one should, and showing people, warts and all, in a public manner where it’s not just to a few people but anyone has access. Wide open spaces are scary places.

Where is the balance? I want to be open, to show the endurance of a life lived well when (especially when) the rest of the world wants to trounce you and only brings to light your faults. Not to say that those faults are not a part of you, but they’re keenly felt. Finally, over-coming the otherwise problematic structures of modern society that bring a person down and away when rising above it and truly being oneself means leaving behind some friends. It’s a return to being good, or to doing one’s best when everyone around you says, “What?” and then acts like you’re weird because they don’t get it.

I’m probably as conservative as they come, and I’m not a wench. I like to love people and to be what the gospel says that people should try to be. Yeah, it’s difficult, but so it Calculus, and people get through that class. I don’t believe that anything is impossible. Maybe improbable, but not impossible. Let people judge themselves. It’s not my job and I don’t want it!


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.



Holiday Traditions: Family History through Traditions of Material Culture

I might just be learning something in my Public History major. The term, material culture, from what Wikipedia says,[1] “refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations.” One interpretation can be that that means how the lace doily or the medal or the PUMPKIN PIE makes sense between people. My family is big on food. We are nowhere near Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving picture,
see right (don’t sue me for sharing the pic) but we do our best.

Small departure from possible other blogs, you cannot get away with writing about Thanksgiving unless you talk about family traditions. That is where material culture comes in. The positive memories of Thanksgiving keep the tradition alive. Black Friday came AFTER Thanksgiving. Despite retail America’s reluctance to admit otherwise, Thanksgiving is a legitimate American holiday and it gets celebrated whether they want to jump straight to Christmas from the 4th of July or not.

My family has changed much over the years. Growing up, the basics of the meal composed most traditional dishes sans the sweet potato or yam dish because I’m not typically a marshmallows fan but I can eat them. I do not go after them, however. My family did not stick specifically to a tradition or custom because it was there (meaning part of the national holiday culture), but adapted it to our personal needs and requirements. I think that many families are like this. A tradition means something when it becomes personal. Besides, five sides in addition to the meat entrée and dessert was plenty.

Although my personal plans include traveling this year, I can mentally go through the entire meal and prepare it with minimal paper/online recipes. Thanks, Mom. This may be silly, but I am going to prove it. (For anyone with any questions or other ways of doing this, feel free to comment below the post. I’m always looking for fun recipes.)

Basic Menu:

Turkey breast (cooked breast side down, 15 min/pound, 325 degrees. Thermometer does not pop out. Safe, juicy, yummy, oh my word-good!) DO NOT SLICE turkey until it’s rested for at least 15 minutes to a half hour. Just don’t. Thank me later.

Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce (whole berry: Somehow that was better for you?) I don’t care if it’s generic. I just want some form of the sweet-tart concoction on the plate, and I don’t know that many people who want to make the stuff when it’s less-expensive to buy it. *shrugs*

Mashed potatoes with garlic powder and salt to taste (beat with a beater after mashing- makes a difference). You can add onion powder and pepper if you would like. My Mom made them with a little milk, and sometimes added parsley flakes. Simple good food.

Green bean casserole (One family member’s favorite, another despised it.) We make it simply: cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup (secret ingredient), milk, cut green beans. No onions needed for the top. Simply cover with aluminum foil. Because I’m the one that loved it, I got opening cans duty. After a while, it hurt your hands to make it, but I could live off this stuff.

Corn- niblets (open can, pour into bowl, nuke, add salt/butter if desired; life goes on).

Stuffing (we actually like Stove Top, although I now prefer whatever the type is that has chunks of celery and bread in it).

Some people have any number of other dishes to add. Pumpkin pie is Libby’s recipe, double the spices (triple if doubling the recipe), add a little vanilla, and make the pie crust from scratch. Honestly? Pie crust is not rocket science if you take about fifteen minutes and tastes fantastic. Just choose whatever you want and go with it.

That long explanation of my family’s food traditions for one holiday should help you to think of what your family does. If you were not commenting on traditions either mentally or to a coworker or family friend when reading the food part, I would be surprised. Food elicits passion. It helps establish communications and is a form of communication in itself. A good meal can settle wars. Other good meals start relationships. Humans bond in material culture over food. Think about this for a few moments, and then choose to write down your family’s specific holiday recipes.

It may be something small, but people writing down recipes (and especially family-modified recipes) are how a recipe survived in my family since the 1880’s and my Great (multiple times) Grandma Baker. I am not making up the name, and her chocolate cookie recipe survives, albeit in a slightly changed form. I have both the original recipe and my Mom’s modified form. If your family has a “secret” recipe, you don’t have to share it, but write it down. Although oral history is a valid, useful, and amazingly accurate way of communicating history most of the time, the numbers change over years. Make sure that your teaspoons and tablespoons or ounces and grams don’t get modified too far.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and write things down while the tradition-leaders still can make corrections. When they’re gone, they’re irreplaceable.

[1] I like Wikipedia. It may not be “scholarly” but I use it all the time because it works and helps. And the fact that anyone can review it makes it relevant.