Thursday, December 27, 2012

Further Adventures In Dementia

I actually feel I've been adjusting to Mom's mental decline pretty well (well, as well as a person can).  But some days are still heartbreaking.

Yesterday I was talking to Mom and she was going on about how she's living in this strange house and that she's eager to get back to her old one.  Never mind that she's lived in the same house for 50 years and has never lived anywhere else during that time.

Mom was surprised that my niece and nephew had found out where she was living now, but was glad they were there.  She was having trouble recalling my little sister's name.  She knew that her neighbors lived across the street still (they've also lived there about as long as my mom has), but didn't think her other neighbors lived next door to this "new place."  (They still do)

Mom talks to me about the house I lived in for most of my life as if it's an unfamiliar place.

Dementia is such a bizarre and fascinating disease.  From a scientific point of view, it's so fascinating to me that a person can actually forget (and even misremember) their siblings or children's names or the way their own parents died or think that the house they've lived in for more than half their life is not the same place.  And it's amazing to me what a quick downward spiral she has taken in recent months.

And yet it's also funny the things she still remembers.  Some of them seem so insignificant, yet her brain has accurately captured them in great detail.

Dementia is a sad disease.  It is hard to watch a person you love mentally waste away and know that each day you lose more and more of the person she was.  And it's hard knowing that Mom can never fully take care of herself again.

And yet..., the disease is harder on those of us watching it happen.  Mom seems blissfully unaware of her mental decline.  She actually seems quite content and childlike, over all.

I predict it will not be very much longer (within the next year, I would think) that Mom will have to move into an assisted-living facility.  And actually, I think she will be better off, and I think we will, too.  I just wish these places weren't so damn expensive.

I think initially she will resent the move and be upset with us, but I do believe she will eventually grow to like it and will benefit from it.  It's the initial part that I am not looking forward to.

But like I've said, I'm trying to make the best memories with the mom that is rather than lament who she was.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One Of The Most Accurate Quotes I've Ever Read About An Actor's Life

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they'll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment.With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”-David Ackert, LA Times

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just Visiting

Well, I went back to Utah for an audition this past weekend.  The audition went well, by the way.  I am optimistic.

For the first time I can remember, being back "home" didn't feel like home anymore.  I truly felt like I was visiting.  I suppose that's good.  It means I'm learning to let go of Utah and my previous responsibilities dealing with Mom and her health and embracing my life here with Jonah.  It's a good thing.

After being Mom's primary caregiver for so long, it truly felt weird not to be in charge or to be everybody's go-to guy when there was a question about Mom.  In some ways, it felt nice.  In others, I feel bad that I don't have the same responsibilities or same input as I did before.

I really had to drill into Mom that this was just a visit and that I wasn't staying.  She has missed me a lot (likewise for me), and I really think she was hoping I'd stay.

Truth is, Mom has deteriorated even in the short month and a half I've been gone.  She's convinced she was living somewhere else for a while and is back in her house even though she's always been in that house (at least for the past 50 years), and she informs me of this every time I call.  She forgot her own brother's name, and even when I reminded her, it didn't seem to register.  She thinks my brother-in-law took us on a tour on a trip we took to New York back in 1989 even though my sister didn't meet my brother-in-law until 1999 or so.  She's forgotten how to take her blood sugar on her own even though it's something she's done on a regular basis for years.  She couldn't remember her hairdresser that she's been going to for 35 or 40 years.  She tells me my niece and nephew are living with her as if it's complete news to me (even though we all cohabited for a year).  We're worried that she's not using soap in the shower (and she doesn't remember to use soap when she washes dishes, apparently.)

Whereas when I left I was skeptical that Mom might be ready for assisted living, there is little doubt in my mind now that that is where she is headed.  Her dementia has gotten bad.  My niece and nephew had originally planned on staying just until June, but there is a chance they may stay longer because they feel Mom isn't as aggressive with them as she once was.  They say she is very childlike and isn't very resistant to doing what she is reminded to do.

I hope they stay longer.  These assisted living places are so pricey.  We will likely have to sell Mom's house to pay for it, and there is certainly the possibility that she will outlive her money.

Some of the places we have visited have been very nice, but most have been out of Mom's price range, even with some of the financial assistance possibilities there are.  I think when we eventually reach the point when Mom has to move out of her home and into one of these places, she will be resentful and upset at first, but will grow to like it and maybe even forget she was in her home at all.

It's the resentful, upset part I am not looking forward to, but I think it will give everybody greater peace of mind if she is taken care of there rather than worrying about the times she is alone in her house.  I think it will allow her to be more social, will help better regulate her medications, and will allow her to eat more healthy (although my niece and nephew have done a good job at getting her to eat better).

I'm starting to reach the point where rather than lamenting the loss of the woman my mom was, I'm trying to make the most of the memories of who she is right now.  I do miss my old mom sometimes, but there are things I enjoy about who she is now, and I figure it's better to embrace it because it's not going to ever be the way it was.

We had a family meeting about Mom and her future.  It didn't go quite as planned.  We started late, and the meeting was cut short because our antsy mom, who was at a friend's house, came back home early.

I can tell my brother is stressed.  My brother reminds me a lot of my dad: kind of a workaholic whose duties to his wife and kids come first, and then his church duties come next; calm and practical and not very prone to emotion; but stressed.  I can tell he's overloaded, and I'm sure the situation with Mom isn't helping.  The thing is, I would say of the four of Mom's kids, my brother is the least involved in her immediate care.  This is not due to an unwillingness to help; it's just that my brother has a leadership position in both his job and in the church, and so he is very busy.

But I also speculate that my brother uses (perhaps unconsciously) work and church duties as an escape.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I think my brother puts above all his duty to keeping his family clothed and fed, and he has to work to earn the money needed to do that.  And I think he puts his church calling second.  But just like my dad did, I think he sometimes drowns in his work and church duties at the expense of his own health and at the expense of his relationship with Mom. 

Perhaps I am not giving my brother enough credit.  I know he does a lot to help my mom in ways I don't perhaps observe.  But I remember shortly before I moved back here to be with Jonah, I reminded Mom that even though I was leaving, her other kids would still visit.  I reminded her that my two sisters and my sister-in-law visited her.  "But not [your brother]" she said, and I had to admit she was right.

That isn't to say that he doesn't visit or love her; because I know he does, and I know it's causing great strain on him trying to figure out how to best help her.  But I also wonder as Mom gets worse if my brother won't regret the time he missed with her.  I get it: he's busy and is supporting a family, and I don't blame him for that.  I just hope he doesn't carry any regrets later on.

I went to my nephew's ordination while I was in Utah.  He was being ordained an elder.  We sat in the high council room, and my nephews and brother and neighbor all ordained my nephew while I sat and watched.  It made me feel excluded, and as my nephew was given some Kleenex to wipe his tears as he bore his testimony, I remember standing in such a high council room shedding my own tears because I was losing my membership in a church I loved and still love.

After these terrible shootings in Newton, Connecticut, I had a long talk with God.  I told him, flat out, that I just can't believe people like Jonah and I are supposedly wicked for loving each other when there is so much selfishness and a lack of love shown by so many others in this world.  I do not buy it.  And when I see people do terrible things in the name of religion and in the name of God, I just find it baffling.  Their actions don't represent the God I know and love.

These terrible shootings have been devastating.  I can't even watch the news.  I just can't.  It's too much for me to handle.  I am normally a very optimistic and forgiving person, but these shootings have really had a negative effect on me.  The innocent lives lost at the hands of a selfish, mentally-unbalanced man simply makes no sense to me.  The only solace I have found are the positive reactions and actions I have seen by those affected by the tragedy and by those who want to ease their pain.

Two days ago, someone stole Jonah's rear tail light covers right off his truck right in our driveway while we slept.  I'm so weary of dishonesty and selfishness.  I'm so weary of cheating and lying and killing.  I'm weary of the taking and destroying of property, lives, and innocence.  I try so hard to see the good in all, but the bad eggs really make it hard sometimes.

But I try to remember how incredibly blessed and happy I really am, and I try to always remind myself that I can't control what other people do; I can only control how I choose to react and my attitude.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Shooting In Newtown, Connecticut

My heart is just breaking today for the all the people who lost loved ones today because of such a senseless tragedy.  I couldn't even watch the news.  It was just too much for me.  I think of all the innocent lives lost today and, even more, the innocence that has been taken away from those kids who survived.  It is so overwhelmingly awful.  When will stuff like this ever stop?  And why does it always seem like things like this happen so close to the holidays?  My heart grieves so much for those who will not ever spend another Christmas (or another day, period) with their loved ones.

All these parents did was send their kids off to school.  All these kids and adults were doing was going to school and work.  And then this guy has to come in and destroy innocence and lives.  I am normally such a forgiving and optimistic person, but this was just too much for me.

And then there's all the "whys?" and arguments for and against gun control and politicizing and the media trying to get the next sound bite, and it's just too much.

We have got to be kinder to each other.  We have got to keep our humanity.  We have to show more love and compassion, just in general.  When I read the vitriol in the online comment section of a newspaper or read some heated Facebook argument or see some reporter trying to pry the gory details out of six year-old kid or see videos of Black Friday shoppers mauling each other for some eternally worthless bargain or watch human beings treat each other with contempt or ignorance or watch politicians squabble to gain political power at the expense of the people they supposedly represent or read stories about kids driven to suicide because of bullying or see examples of racism or watch some clip of some stupid reality show that celebrates and exploits bad behavior and ideals or become smothered by the 24-hour news cycle of all the horrible things human beings do to each other, I crave a world in which love and understanding and hope and light and compassion and charity and thoughtfulness and joy are the norm.

I continually try to find the good in people.  I try very hard not to judge and to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I try to exercise mercy and compassion.  I am not always successful, but I really try.

I long for a world in which kindness and love are the ideals.  Days like this make me feel like we are losing that.  The world and its people just seem to get more wicked and selfish, and it has to stop.  It just has to.


Things like this and this and this remind me of the good there still is.  And, in my heart, I still believe that humans are mostly good.  I hope so, anyway.

One of my very favorite quotes is from Anne Frank, who had every reason to think otherwise: "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." 

There is another I like: "I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death... I think... peace and tranquillity will return again."

I have to believe this is true.  It's all that keeps me going sometimes in this crazy world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Thoughts On The New Mormons And Gays Website

Well, in my last post I said I would talk about my thoughts on the LDS Church's new website,  First of all, I was surprised that they made it at all.  I will say this: in spite of any faults I see with it, I do think it's a step in the right direction; a very tiny, baby step in the right direction, but a step nonetheless.

Some critics contend that this is just the Church trying to do some damage control with the gay community and give themselves a more positive spin by making it look like they're evolving somewhat without actually doing so.  I tend to think the Church's motives are sincere; I think they are trying to deal more compassionately with an obviously difficult issue without compromising the doctrine that teaches that acting on one's homosexuality is sinful.

What I like about the site:

That it requires a greater call for sensitivity.  I like that the Church is finally owning up to what a difficult and complex issue this is and how it is a reality for many people and that more love, sensitivity, and patience and less judgment is required in dealing with it.

 As Elder D. Todd Christofferson says, "Initial reactions are critical. And the inclination, the temptation that people have often is anger or rejection. Sometimes it’s simply denial, on both sides of the question, whatever it may be. And it’s important to have enough self control to lay all that aside and to have a little patience, and to begin to talk and begin to listen and begin to try to understand better. We lose nothing by spending time together, by trying to understand, even where there’s not agreement on a course to follow at the moment or how to respond or how to react." 

From an individual on the site:  "If you have not charity you are nothing, so I think we can’t profess to be believers or disciples of Jesus Christ if we don’t love all people. Regardless of what their lifestyle may be that shouldn’t change the way we feel nor our response to them."

That the Church doesn't have all the answers. From a church that often makes people think it does have all the answers, it's nice to know that it admits it doesn't.  From the main text of the website: "No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter. We simply don’t have all the answers. Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. We must not judge anyone for the feelings they experience."

Elder Christofferson: "We don’t have to do everything today. We don’t have to resolve everything in a month or a week or a year. These things are questions of resolution over time and accommodation over time and seeking the will of the Lord over time and guided by him over time. So, I hope we will give ourselves the time and have the patience to listen and understand and not insist on everything being resolved within a certain framework of time."

That it's not a choice.  I like the reiteration that homosexual feelings are not chosen.  This has been said before, but I don't remember hearing it so bluntly, and it's not something the Church has always taught.  I like that it's there in black and white: it's not a choice to have homosexual feelings.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

That it could further open up lines of communication.  I like anything that creates a dialogue.  For so many years, especially when I was younger, homosexuality seemed like such a taboo subject.  It was rare that you would hear anybody talk about it, and usually when it was, it was accompanied with hellfire and brimstone.  I like that this encourages people in the church to perhaps talk more openly and more compassionately about it.

That marriage is not a cure.  Also contrary to what the Church once taught, I like that they admit that marriage is not always a good option.

Elder Christofferson:  "You’ll see in some of these experiences that are related on this site that it has been a successful experience in a few cases, or some have expressed the success they’ve found in marriage and in raising a family and in the joy and all that has filled out and blessed their lives as a consequence. But that, we know, is not always true. It’s not always successful. Sometimes it’s been even disastrous."

That leaders have not always handled this issue well. I like that the site admits that leaders haven't always handled this matter with the grace and compassion that is required. 

Elder Christofferson: "I can understand that there could have been a legitimate concern about the kind of reception one might find from a local priesthood leader in the past."

That it includes the voices of gay people and their families.  I like that the site gives gay people and their families a face, and while the one of the site's main goals is to encourage gay members to stay true to its tenets, I do like that there are individuals reflected on the site who didn't necessarily choose that path.  I like that it includes practical advice from those individuals that could help others to better deal with this issue.  Things like:

"Don’t lecture. Don’t preach. Don’t tell either of my children why they’re wrong, why their positions are wrong because that is going to do absolutely nothing more than push them further away. And it’s hard to have a conversation with someone that is going away from you." 

"To just be honest. Let them share, let them be open. Let them be with you, let them come. Let them be where you are. I think the absolute worst thing we can do is to exclude them or to make them feel uncomfortable." 

"It’s hard when you feel that your experience is negated or in some cases outright denied."

"I can speak to the fear of wanting to tell other people and not being able to because they are afraid of losing their friends, losing their relationships, being castigated. If you have a family who is very religious and they’re afraid that if they tell their family they’ll lose your family. We actually do need to do the exactly opposite and reach out in love."

 "One thing that’s always important is to recognize the feelings of a person, that they are real, that they are authentic, that we don’t deny that someone feels a certain way. We take the reality where it is, and we go from there. And we want people to feel that they have a home here, that we have much, much more in common than anything that’s different about us."

That they're willing to use the word "gay."  Frankly, just the fact that they didn't call the site is a step in the right direction.  They do use the term "same-sex attraction" (which doesn't bother me), but they use "gay" and "lesbian," and I like that.

That not every apostle is a Boyd K. Packer.  And let me state for the record, I don't think Boyd K. Packer is a bad man.  I have said so before.  But I do think he thinks in very black-and-white terms as far as this issue goes, and I don't think he has always handled it with great compassion or sensitivity.

I actually don't know much about Elder Quentin L. Cook, nor did I know of the experiences he shared on the site until I visited it, but you can see that he sees a more human side of the issue, and I appreciate that.  Check out his video clip where he shares his experiences serving as a Stake President when several young men died from AIDS.

Quentin Cook: "I think the lesson that I learned from that is that as a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle."  

"...let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it’s a very important principle."

 That it could help families with gay family members.  Just this evening I received a call from a friend who is Mormon and is wanting to come out, but is scared of how his parents will react.  It is my ardent hope (and I believe church leaders probably hope the same thing) that this site will give parents permission to handle things more compassionately and with more love and to respect their kids' free agencies if they choose a path that is contrary to what the parents may wish.

Elder Christofferson: "I think what’s critical is that we try to resolve this in patience and with a divine perspective, not trying to dictate to God how and what His answers will be to our prayers or when and how He might intervene in this situation, but trying to achieve and understand His perspective on things so that everyone’s desire is to do what the Lord would want done, to do it in the Lord’s way, and not one’s own way, and not simply to be thinking of one’s own feelings exclusively. And that might work out differently in one family than another. We’re trying to communicate that our love is inclusive, that we want to have the family remain intact, and the relationships we’ve treasured over the years to remain and to grow. So there will be some work to be done but its work that ought to always be with the question, ‘what does the Lord want, how would He have us do this together?’"

Stake President Roger Carter "The best case scenarios that I have dealt with are where families have been unequivocal about their love and compassion for a family member who is gay and who has decided that they are not going to live the standards of the Church."

That they're trying.  While I feel the church and its leaders have sometimes floundered and made great missteps regarding this issue, I do appreciate that they are trying.

Now, what I don't like:
Failing at inclusiveness.  The Church wants to create a feeling of inclusion, but can't really be successful in doing so if it maintains its doctrine.  Now, I don't expect the Church to change its doctrine to suit me.  If the Church believes homosexual behavior is a sin and that it's contrary to God's law, it is its right to teach that.  But for those of us who felt we had no other choice than to follow our hearts, it's not going to win us over or make us "stay with [you]."

You also might want to consider helping those of us who have been excommunicated feel less isolated and excluded.  I get that my choices put me here, but I've also tried to maintain fellowship, and it is not easy when I feel so limited in my participation.

That we have to compromise in order to stay "valiant."  Ty Mansfield shares an experience where he talks about having dated men before eventually getting married to a woman.  He says, "And it was interesting because I felt more emotionally alive but I also felt a loss of light, and that was clear to me during that time. It was a slow decrease in light but I noticed it.At one point, I was feeling very, very distant, probably as far from God as I had ever felt, and I had this very strong spiritual experience, kind of a mystical experience, where I was almost being enveloped in this feeling of love. There was nothing in that that was ‘what you’re doing is right, what you’re doing is wrong’ it was just this feeling of ‘I love you.’ And I felt like God knew me, that he remembered me. And I needed that more than anything. Again, it wasn’t an affirmation, it wasn’t a rebuke, it was just ‘I love you.’ "

That is Ty's experience and is valid to him.  Fine.  But what about people like me who feel they found greater light in a homosexual relationship?  Is our experience to be denied?  Do we have to compromise our love to stay true to the LDS Church?

One guy named Ted, who is a celibate and active Mormon, said, "The gospel of Jesus Christ provides love and light and enhancement of our abilities to do things. You know, men are that they might have joy and I feel a great joy in my life these days."  He, apparently, has found joy in following that path.  I could not find it following the same path.  The path I'm on has been the best possible thing for me emotionally and spiritually.  Does not my experience count for something?  I felt the same love from God that Ty speaks of, but I was led this way.  So is his path right and mine wrong?  Or is it just possible that both of our paths were right for each of us?  Which brings me to:

 Not enough variety.  Dallin H. Oaks clearly states, "Our discussion is limited to two related questions we sometimes hear in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What does our doctrine teach us about how family members and church members should treat one another when one of their members is struggling with some of these issues, and how can we help members of the church who struggle with same-gender attractions, but want to remain active and fully engaged in the church?"

I get it.  The goal is to keep gay members active and true to their covenants, so of course, experiences that back that view up will be the ones featured.  And I do acknowledge that there were one or two people featured on the site that didn't choose that path.  But it would still be nice to see other facets of those who have chosen other paths, but are still happy. 

It still seems like a lot of the same old, same old.  There's still a call to overcome it or live with it, even if it means a life of loneliness.  On some level, it still feels like the Church doesn't understand what it's like on our end.  No reason why it should, but there it is.

Stuff like this: "Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma. Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective it can be done. Every human being, Latter-day Saints affirm, has worth and dignity as a child of God. In this respect we are all equal. Our lives here on earth are full of joys and sorrows. But God created each of us for greater destinies. Gender is an eternal characteristic. Latter-day Saints believe that the family is the central unit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our most cherished relationships can, under the right conditions, last for eternity." still feels like the same rhetoric that has caused so much pain and heartache over the years.  Just because you try to wrap it in a pretty bow doesn't mean it still doesn't cause damage.  But it is my hope that some of the more compassionate rhetoric will diminish the pain.

I guess my biggest complain is this:

That it seems too little, too late.  Although I applaud the Church for trying to make things better, and although I'm hopeful it will build bridges and heal hearts, why has it taken so long for the Church to acknowledge that which seems so basic to me: that whether someone is gay or not and chooses to follow that path, we should just love them and not make them feel excluded or judged or alone.  Too many people and families have been damaged by some of the old rhetoric.  A softer, more compassionate tone isn't going to undo some of that damage.  I'm grateful for a softer tone, but why hasn't this always been the norm.

Anyway, bottom line: I think it's a good step, and I hope it does good things.  Unless the Church fully accepts gays and lesbians for who they are, it won't change the attitude of most gay people, I imagine.  But a step is a step, and I'm grateful for it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Building A Relationship With My Partner's Parents

I don't think people think so much about getting old until their own parents do.  At least, that has been my own personal experience.

With my own father's health problems and early death in 1992 and my mom's relatively recent battle with dementia, I have thought about my own mortality and future as I grow older.

Today Jonah and I helped his parents out.  Their current Medicare plan will not be in service next year, so Jonah and I were trying to help them pick a new one.  What a process!  Researching and picking out a plan was a chore in and of itself, but actually applying for the new plan with a benefit advisor proved somewhat difficult.  Jonah's dad can't hear hardly anything and suffers from dementia himself, and yet they needed to personally talk to him and get his approval, so that was challenging.  We actually had to write cue cards in huge letters (he can't see very well, either) so he could answer the questions.  Just talking on the phone with the agent and getting both parents taken care of took two to three hours.

Neither of Jonah's parents are internet-savvy, so they couldn't have done a lot of the research on the internet that I did for them.  The plan specifics are very confusing to them (and frankly, some of it was confusing for me).  I honestly don't know how the government and the insurance companies expect senior citizens to wade through all the confusion and bureaucracy.  It's very complicated.  There's no way someone like my mom or Jonah's dad (or even his mom) could have done what needed to be done on their own.  There has to be a simpler way.

And then trying to figure out which plans cover what and if their doctors accept specific plans is a headache.  If we had a single-payer universal healthcare system like some countries, we wouldn't have to deal with a lot of this.

I was disheartened to see that the best plan offered for Jonah's parents in their area will be a  considerably higher cost to them than their current plan.  And yet my mom has a pretty good plan in Utah that costs her very little, but that plan isn't offered here.  Somehow it doesn't seem fair.

Almost all the plans offered here are HMOs, which are less costly, but also very restrictive and don't let you see the doctors you want to see without incurring great cost.  There were only two PPOs offered, both of which were costly (doubly so because each parent is charged separately, which seems lame).  We ended up getting the less expensive of the PPOs, but it will incur costs that Jonah's parents didn't have with their old plan, which was also a PPO.  (C'mon, Obama, you're making me look bad for believing in and voting for you.  Isn't the Affordable Healthcare Act supposed to make things easier for people like Jonah's parents, who are already strapped for money as it is?)

Anyway, I was glad we could help Jonah's parents through a complex process.  Then we went out and trimmed their rose bushes and cleaned up some of their yard.  It needed to be done.  Those rose bushes were out of control.

Jonah is such a good and devoted son.  I admire how attentive he is to his parents' needs, even when they drive him crazy.  I suppose I'm the same with my own mom.

It was really nice helping Jonah's parents out.  I really feel like stuff like that helps me bond with them and helps them see me in a positive way.  I know Jonah's mom, especially, initially had difficulty with Jonah's sexuality and our relationship (and perhaps she still does), but as I've gotten to know her and Jonah's father, I think we've really started to develop a positive relationship.

Jonah's mom said that she hoped I would find work here.  She said she likes it when I'm here and that she doesn't worry so much about Jonah when I'm around.  That really made me feel good.

I also feel like I'm reaching a point where I can talk about my living arrangements with Jonah more comfortably.  I don't feel we're at the point where I can refer to Jonah as my partner or husband around them (even though they know we are), but I do feel like it is acknowledged that we are together, and that it's a good thing, and that is a nice step forward with them.

We were there from about 9:30 or 10 am until about 5 pm, so it was an all-day thing.  But it was nice.

When I look at Mom or Jonah's parents, I sometimes wonder who will take care of Jonah and me when we grow too old to take care of ourselves.  It concerns me.

Anyway, it was a good day.

I hope to write about this website soon, too.

It's an interesting, perhaps progressive, move for the LDS Church.  In some ways it's positive.  In other ways, I feel the Church is still getting in its own way as far as the issue of homosexuality.  But it's step in a good direction, I feel.  Anyway, hopefully that will be another post for another day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Speaking My Truth

So I have this friend who's kind of "New-Agey."  I've always liked her, but I have sometimes found her ideas unconventional.  I know, for example, she does work as a spiritual birth assistant, which helps parents develop a spiritual and kinetic relationship with the baby while it's still in the womb.  She has also worked as a new energy practitioner, which involves channeling and balancing other people's energy.  She is also into reincarnation and angel readings and numerology and once paid for me to have a reading done by a numerologist/psychic.

She's actually a very smart woman and an extremely kind, loving, and spiritual person, but for a long time the skeptic in me felt like a lot of the ideas and practices she was into were...well, hooey.  That didn't mean I didn't love her or that I didn't believe that she wasn't benefiting from her own beliefs.  I just didn't quite buy some of them.

There are still some things she believes in that I'm not sure about, but others which I have since decided have more validity than I once thought.

I remember when I was still in the closet and trying to live the "good Mormon" life, I used to get laryngitis a lot.  I'd get sick and lose my voice.  As an actor, that was very frustrating.  It often meant lost work and pay.

I remember my friend, who knew that I was trying to figure out how to reconcile my homosexual attractions with my religion, once theorized that perhaps the reason I would get sick and, specifically, get laryngitis was because it was a physical manifestation of my inability to "speak my truth" (her words).  At the time, I dismissed this theory, figuring that these illnesses and loss of voice were just part of my particular health issues.

My friend had once been an active member of the LDS Church, but at the time she made this proclamation about speaking my truth she had pretty much left in the church and was pursuing these more New Age beliefs.  I was still trying to live according to LDS tenets and felt that my friend was losing her way spiritually.

I no longer feel that way.  I think there is much truth in many of the things my friend believes.  I don't know that I quite believe everything she believes, but I do believe in much of it.  I actually recently read the memoir of an actress I like, Ellen Burstyn, and much of her belief system reminds me of my friend, and I hope to write in a future post about some of the things I read in her book that spoke to me.

I do know this: since I came out of the closet and found Jonah, I do not get sick anywhere close to what I used to experience, and I have not experienced the laryngitis issues that once plagued me so often.  I think my spiritual health and happiness has had a great and positive effect on my physical health.  Maybe the theory about speaking my truth was true, after all.  In any case, I believe it is.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Decisions We Make

My dad hated serving in the Navy, from what I've been told.  In fact, I think someone in my family recounted the story that when my dad was finished with his service, he threw his naval uniform away.  I do not know why precisely Dad hated serving in the Navy.  He rarely talked about that part of his life...with me, at least, but I know he did not enjoy his time in the Navy.

 None of these is my dad, by the way.

When Dad graduated from Provo High, he was offered a scholarship at BYU, I believe.  Instead, Dad chose to join the Navy.  I have a feeling that one of the reasons he joined was because his best friend at the time also joined.  It turned out they never served together, so if that was the reason, I imagine Dad was very disappointed.

Dad did not serve during wartime (which, in a way, is slightly unfortunate as his veteran's benefits could have been of use to my Mom as we continue to search for economical ways to care for her).  He joined shortly after the Korean War ended.

I believe he was a radar operator on the ship he served on.  I get the impression that Dad didn't care too much for some of the rougher, harder-edged men he served with.

I always wonder why my Dad, who was kind of a meek, intellectual guy would choose to forego a university scholarship to join the Navy.  It just doesn't seem like the military would have been his kind of bag (and, it turns out, it wasn't).  I think he would have been happier going straight to college.

And yet...

...if Dad had not joined the Navy, he would not have met my mom and gotten married to her and had the family he had.  The Navy is also where my Dad gained his testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and that certainly shaped the rest of his life and the lives of my mom and us kids.

Dad met Mom at a church dance when he was on offshore leave, I guess.  Mom lived in San Francisco.  There's little chance that that Provo boy would have have met that San Francisco girl were it not for his time in the Navy.  Mom might still be in the San Francisco area still.  That's where both of her brothers are and where her mother resided until her death.

I guess my point is that what sometimes feels like a poor or bad decision and the unpleasant experiences that go along with it may still have the greatest positive effect on your life.  I imagine there were days (perhaps many of them) when Dad regretted his decision to join the Navy, and yet, Dad's family and religion were probably the two most important things to him in his whole life, and neither would have happened the way they did without his having joined the Navy.

Dad also worked at a life insurance company as a computer programmer for most of his working life.  I think he didn't care for his job much.  Mom told me once he had always wanted to open a record store, but gave up fantasy for practicality.  It's because of that job he disliked that he was able to support and care for the family he loved so much.

Sometimes (and often) the unpleasant things we have to go through bring us some of our greatest joys.  I try to remember that during the tough times.

Life is good right now.  Still unemployed, but very happy to be with Jonah.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving From Gay LDS Actor

Yeah, I know it's a few days late, but it's been a busy week.  Between the holiday, cleaning the house, and a freelance writing project, I've just been too busy to write a blog post even though I have a bunch of ideas for future posts.  Who knows when they'll get written?  You'd think being unemployed, I'd have more time to write.  Jonah keeps me busy, though, and there's a lot of things to take care of here at the house, so there just hasn't been.  Plus, I'm kind of lazy.  I have to be motivated to sit down and write, and sometimes I'm just not.

Anyway.  Thanksgiving.  This is mine and Jonah's first Thanksgiving together in six years, I believe.  Our first and only other Thanksgiving together was in the beginning of our relationship before we were even serious.  Every other year I've worked in Utah.  I made a very conscious decision to not audition for any holiday shows.  While my pocketbook isn't too pleased, I am extremely happy to be home for the holidays and spending time with Jonah.  It's been sublime.  Jonah drives me crazy sometimes, but I am thankful to actually be with him so that he can drive me crazy.

I've noticed something else while I've been home.  When I was living with Mom, I used to get this tight discomfort in my chest nearly every day.  I was even concerned I might be having some sort of heart issue.  Since I've been home, I haven't experienced that sensation.  I knew caring for my mom was creating stress, but I did not realize how stressed I must have been feeling.  While I hate to say it, I think there was a direct correlation between my chest issues and caring for my mom.  I'm glad I feel more relaxed.

Leaving was really hard, but in talking with my mom, she sounds like she is doing well.  And I know I am feeling better, too.  I feel more relaxed, less anxious, and I'm finally with my guy, so things are good.  I have wonderful siblings and family members who are carrying much of the load I carried, so I am thankful for them.

Thanksgiving with Jonah's family was really great this year.  I feel like I finally know them and am comfortable with them.  In earlier family gatherings, I didn't know everyone well, and I felt uncomfortable and overwhelmed at times.  Jonah and I were kind of in the closet about his relationship with me, and so that made things awkward as well.

I think know everybody knows about us by now.  I don't think it's ever been directly addressed by Jonah to the majority of his family members, but it seems that even though it's still kind of "don't ask, don't tell," everyone knows about our relationship and is comfortable enough with it that they now treat me like I'm a family member, and that makes me very happy.  We've come a long way since the beginning of our relationship.

Several family members, including Jonah's mom, call me Uncle [Cody] when referring to me around the kids.  That makes me feel good.  It really is the little things.

Jonah comes from a large Hispanic, working-class, Pentecostal family, and of course, culturally it's a little different than my own mid-size Mormon family.  At the beginning of our relationship, it really took me some time to get used to all the noise and the fact that any family gathering will last hours and hours, and even days sometimes.  As someone who gets overwhelmed and fatigued by large crowds and noise, it was hard in the beginning.  I've gotten used to it (although I do admit to sneaking in a bathroom or spare bedroom for a few minutes just to recharge.

Jonah's dad is in the beginning stages of dementia.  My mom is probably further along in the disease than he is, but I know he drives his wife and kids crazy at times.  He is also very hard of hearing, and so he misses a lot of what is being said.  Sometimes he talks over people because he doesn't realize someone else is talking.  I think sometimes he feels left out of conversations and that makes him feel a little lonely and depressed.

I actually quite like Jonah's dad.  He just makes me laugh.  He still has a pretty strong Mexican accent, so I don't always understand 100% of what he says, but I enjoy talking with him, and I get the impression he likes me.

While everyone was in the house, Jonah's dad and I were on the back porch alone, and he just talked and I mostly listened.  He actually told me things I know he hadn't shared with some of his own kids, and I was kind of touched by that.  He shared some stories with me from his life, and it was nice to just get to know him better.  At the end of our conversation, he said in his slightly broken English, "We should go in.  Thank you for hearing me."  I thought it was interesting that he used the phrase "Thank you for hearing me" instead of "Thank you for listening to me."  I think Jonah's dad just wants to me heard and acknowledged, and I feel like I was there for that, and it made me happy.

While Jonah and I were talking, I heard two guys cussing at each other nearby.  Jonah's parents don't live in the greatest neighborhood, and I was a little alarmed.  It sounded like it might escalate into something more serious.  So I was a bit shocked to see that one of the guys who was arguing was one of Jonah's brothers.  That's not something you'd see at one of my family gatherings.  lol

They had food, food, food!  Oh, my gosh!  There was sooooo much to eat, and Jonah's Mom is such a great cook.  They had pork, beef, turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, corn bread, rice, beans, tortillas, ambrosia salad, mandarin orange cottage cheese salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and I introduced many in Jonah's family to Mormon funeral potatoes, which I made by myself for the first time, and which seemed to be a hit with everyone except for one family member, who said in bewilderment, "There's cereal on top of these potatoes."

I had a good time mingling with everyone and didn't even get exhausted by all the noise and energy like I usually do.  Most of all, I had fun.  It was a really nice Thanksgiving.  Jonah's family comes from a different background than my own.  I think a couple of his brother's have been in jail at one time or another and some of their language is rougher than I am used to.  They're very hard-working, "get-their-hands-dirty" people, and the jobs I have held are either artistic or white collar work, for the most part.  But they treat me very well, and I am appreciative.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I got on the Facebook gratitude wagon this year and wrote a gratitude status for every day of the month.  It's been great reminding myself of the many blessings God has given me and continues to give Jonah and me and our families.  I hope your Thanksgivings were all terrific.

By the way, Jonah and I saw Rise of the Guardians this evening.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I may even write a post about it. 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Letting Go Of Utah

After 41 years of being a resident of Utah, I now have a driver's license and license plates in a new state and am registered to vote and have changed my address with the post office.  I live in a swing state now, so my vote my actually count for something in the next presidential election.

It's weird losing my Utah residency after so long, but it also feels right.

Leaving Mom behind was very difficult, but I've been feeling much less stressed and worried than I was when I was home with her.  I used to get this tight, uncomfortable feeling in my chest, and I notice I haven't been feeling that anymore.  I guess I was under even more stress than I realized. 

You never want to feel that your mother is causing you stress, and those who read this blog regularly know how much I love and adore my mom and know that leaving her to come home to Jonah was very hard to do, but it's like one of Jonah's friends said last night, "It's time to take care of yourself and to take care of this guy [Jonah]."  It's true.

Of course, I miss Mom a lot, and I know she missed me, but I'm glad to be home, and I'm glad that my family is caring for Mom and that she seems to have adapted well to my absence.

I had an audition here the other day that I was really hoping to get.  It was a really good show, a good part that I was really appropriate for, and it would have been good pay and likely a long contract that would have kept me here at home for a while.  There is still a slim chance I could get cast, but as each day passes, it looks more and more like I won't be (although that doesn't preclude me from possibly getting cast in the future).  I found out a friend of Jonah's was cast, so I know they've started making offers, at least.

I was so hoping to get this.  Maybe I still will.  Who knows?  But if I don't, life will go on.  There will be other opportunities.  But I will be disappointed.

Eh, such is the life of an actor, though.  I've had a couple of other auditions and have some more coming up, so hopefully, something will come through.

Anyway, it's good to be home for the holidays.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting Along, Post-Election

It's funny to read about individuals from several states wanting to secede from the United States rather than deal with four more years of an Obama presidency.  Hey, if I can deal with eight years of George W. Bush without moving to Canada, I think conservatives can do the same for my guy.

I also saw this charming story on the news about a woman who hit her husband with a car for not voting in the election.

Oh, and today I read a lovely article in the Salt Lake Tribune that says Utah holds fourth place for the most racist tweets following the election.  Utah is tied with North Dakota.  Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama took third, second, and first place, respectively.  Boy, isn't that something to be proud of?

Look, I get that people are upset about the election, but like former first lady, Barbara Bush, says in this article, "People spoke. Move on, get on with it."  I did it when George W. was re-elected; those who are unhappy with the current results can do so, too.

I had a good friend who's on the conservative side who said this on his Facebook page:  

"I wanted Romney to win too, felt it was best for the economy, but he didn't. It'll be ok. Maybe it was the way the campaign was run, or the way Obama ran his, or maybe its just that most Americans don't think like I do. That's OK too. But we need to get past the loss and move forward. Yes, go ahead and make adjustments to weather the storm we feel is coming, pass on the costs to consumers, alter employee hours, etc., and take care of your families. That's perfectly OK in my book. There is a 'settling in' that needs to take place when there is a shift. And Obama supporters, don't hold it against us when we make the changes since we all have our own plans for success. What I would encourage, if I may, is that each side at least try to understand that there just might be some merit coming from the opinions of the people on the other side, conservatives and liberals alike, and that we do our best to accept some compromise. There is enough aggression out there in the world that we don't need it between neighbors. Peace to everyone, God Bless, and may we all weather whatever storm comes, well. If you need some nails for the shutters, I will gladly give you some of mine - and I don't care who you voted for."

I agree with him.  Some of my liberal friends have come across as gloating or poor winners, and I don't think that's cool.  Likewise, I have conservative friends who can't seem to let the bad feelings go.  I don't think that's good, either.

My hope is that liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, can work together to solve our nation's challenges because we obviously have a bunch, and if neither side is willing to make compromises, we're not going to get anything done, and it is the American people who will suffer.  I just hope that neither party is so stubborn they will be willing to take United States citizens hostage as a result.

I sincerely wish we could see each things from each other's points-of-view.  I wish the rich could see things as the poor see them, and vice-versa.  I wish Palestine and Israel could see things from the other's point-of-view.  I wish gays and straights, blacks and whites, men and women, religious and non-religious, etc. could truly see things the way those they misunderstand see them.  It might not make them agree with each other, but at could at least shed new light, better clarity, and give new perspectives on misunderstandings.

I was listening to Jonah's brother talk about his religious points-of-view the other day, and it struck me that we're often so sure of what we believe that there is little room for another perspective or belief.  As someone who grew up Mormon, I've often felt (and still feel) the same way about some of my own religious beliefs.  Being outside of the church has given me a greater perspective and greater appreciation for things in which I was often so entrenched that I couldn't see anything but a certain myopic point-of-view. 

Seeing things from another's point-of-view was made a little clearer the other day through the following example:

In dealing with my mom's dementia, my brother and I have started taking over some of her financial and legal dealings.  One of these financial issues has necessitated getting my mom's attorney involved.  In my view, the matter seemed relatively simple to deal with, and I figured it could be taken care of fairly quickly.

I sent my mom's attorney an email detailing the information he requested, but he did not respond.  We had had a glitch previously when I had sent him an email he never received, so I was concerned that perhaps he had not received this one, either.  So I sent him a follow-up email which included the same information and another request simply asking if he had received the initial email.

He sent me a courteous, but obviously annoyed, email saying that this issue was actually a very complicated one to deal with; that he received about 25 emails a day, many of them of a higher priority than mine, and that he couldn't possibly answer each one as timely as perhaps the writer would like; that this was a very busy season for him because of certain tax issues he had to deal with with higher priority clients; that even though this issue may feel urgent to me, it isn't as urgent as some of the other issues he's dealing with; that if I needed confirmation on an email, it would be better to call him; and that if I needed this issue handled more urgently, I would need to find another attorney.

Well, I didn't realize any of that until I saw things from his point-of-view.  I responded simply by apologizing and saying that the matter really wasn't so urgent that it couldn't wait a few weeks; that I had thought calling him would be more time consuming for him than email him; and that all I had really wanted was confirmation that he actually received the information.

He got back to me; said that he had probably overreacted due to a particularly high number of emails that morning; apologized; and said he would get to it as soon as he could.

I responded back by telling him that I understood his point-of-view now; that he's always treated my mom (and my dad before he passed away) very fairly, kindly, and equitably; and that he could take as much time as he felt he needed.

It was weird.  I was crying after I wrote the final email.  I'm not sure why.  I think it's because I genuinely like this attorney.  He is a kind man and good at his job.  I felt bad that we had this misunderstanding due to our inability to see all the facts from the other person's perspective.  But because I now understand things from his point-of-view and because he was able to see things from mine, I felt there were no hard feelings from either of us and that we were able to get on with the business at hand.  And my heart ached for all of us to be able to do that with each other in spite of our perceived differences.

I have so longed to live in a world of peace.  I was saying to Jonah just last night, "Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where people got along and were fair with each other and were kind and loving?  I long for that."

I hope the afterlife is as peaceful as the scriptures seem to indicate because I don't see that world of peace happening here any time soon.  But we can start with ourselves.  I'm not always successful, but I try so hard to see things from other people's points-of-view.  I have my flaws, too, and I can be selfish, but I do try to love and help others as best I can.

Anyway, I hope we can all work harder to get along and be kind to one another.

In closing, here are a couple of articles and a blog post I have read lately about putting the election in perspective.  I make no judgment about any of them other than to say I found them interesting and they make some good points.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thank You For Being An Unfriend

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.  I was finally unfriended on Facebook.  You would have thought it would have happened leading up to the election, but no.  Ironically, it was Jonah's fault, not mine.

I have this conservative friend.  Actually, she's probably more of a Libertarian than anything.  Anyway, she is not a fan of Mr. Obama.  She's a realtor and also owns many rental properties and evidently pays a lot of taxes under the Obama regime. 

This friend is also a dancer, and I've done several shows with her.  She's a bit past her prime as a dancer and is also pretty much an Amazon , so her height does prevent her from getting cast sometimes.  Although she can dance, she's not a great actress and has a bit of an attitude, so she doesn't get cast as much as she did in her younger days.

For as long as I've known this friend, I always feel like money is her motivating force in life.  It all seems to come back to money.  To her credit, my friend is a successful businesswoman and has done well for herself in the past.  The last few years have not been as kind to her, and she blames much of that, perhaps rightfully so, on the way the country is run under the Obama administration.

My friend has no patience for those she feels are bringing this country down: the welfare queens, the unemployed who take advantage of the system, or basically anyone who's out for a free ride.  Problem is, she thinks everybody who is on welfare or on unemployment or collecting social security or using any government program for aid is a leech to society.  Granted, there are many who are capable of helping themselves who take advantage of the system, my friend is right that the government simply enables that behavior and drags our country down.

But I would argue that there are some who really need and benefit from government programs, and many of those programs have been paid into by their participants through taxes and deductions.

In any case, my friend is not a fan.  I sometimes have felt that her world view is so wrapped up in what's in it for her that she sometimes forgets that there are other people in the world besides her.

Anyway, a mutual liberal friend wrote on his Facebook page,

"I'm amused by all the doomsday posts I've seen over the president's re-election. People are terrified of watching this country collapse as a hapless second term comes to an end. Funny. Most of us remember living through that four years ago... We can either post pictures of gravestones with the United States on them, or we can continue to dust ourselves off as a nation. I would be proudly choosing the latter even if we had a President-elect Romney."

I responded with a simple, "Completely agree."  That's all I said.

Then my friend who eventually unfriended me responded with, "...Says the guy on welfare," and went on to say some other stuff about how it's only doomsday to those whose financial lives are being affected in very negative ways, and that I wouldn't know anything about that.

Well, first of all, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I'm certainly not on welfare.  I just lost my job (and I've been steadily employed since April) and hadn't even applied for unemployment when she made that statement, so I really didn't know where she was coming from.  And even if I had been on unemployment, I don't consider that welfare.  In the entertainment industry, we often lose employment through no fault of our own.  The acting profession is not always a very secure one.  But I will say that I work more often and more steadily than most actors I know, and when I am unemployed, I am looking for work, acting or otherwise, to pay the bills because I do not like to be on unemployment.  Even though I feel it is my right to file for unemployment, I still would much rather be earning my own keep than feel I'm getting money for nothing.  I would much rather be working than not.

I also save money very consistently for the very reason that I know my career is not always a steady or secure one.  I try to have money set aside for a "rainy day" because I know in my field of work, unemployment does occur.  Currently, I have about $6,800 in my savings account, and Jonah has about $9,000, so it's not like we aren't doing our best to help ourselves.

That being said, unemployment benefits have kept me afloat during tougher times and have helped me get out of some jams that I would have had more difficulty getting out of were it not for that aid that my employers have paid into.

But I wasn't on unemployment when my friend made that statement nor am I collecting any now, so I don't know what the "welfare" dis was even about.  

But I also have a thick skin.  I decided to let it go.  It's not the first time this friend has made such comments.  My liberal friend wrote me a private message that said, "What is [her] problem? She's been getting really personal lately and I'm thinking of unfriending her."

I said, "Boy, I sure don't know. I'm not even sure what the welfare remark was about. I think she thinks that anyone who goes on unemployment (which I haven't even done yet), collects social security, or uses welfare programs such as food stamps is automatically a welfare leech. Never mind that we (or our employers) pay into some of these programs.

"Based on my relationship with [her], it seems to me that money is the greatest motivator in her life. And because she is a self-made and successful woman, I think she has no sympathy for anyone who might need government help. I fully agree with her that there are abusers of unemployment or welfare, but there are also those who truly need the extra help they can get from such programs.

"I find [our friend] to be very successful financially, but she seems very unhappy and jaded otherwise. I think she has forgotten how to care for other people besides herself. I actually feel sorry for her, but I also thinks she shoots herself in the foot because of some of the things she said.
"I keep her around because I like to hear views different than my own, even if they're sometimes annoying or even hurtful. But I certainly wouldn't blame you for unfriending her. She is a big ball of negative energy, in my opinion. Maybe it's just the rawness of the emotions she's feeling due to the future of an Obama presidency."

Anyway, I let it go.  What I didn't know was that Jonah, who had also seen the comment and doesn't even know my friend, took it upon himself to write her a personal message because he was actually more offended by her remark than I was. 

He said, "Hi .... You don't know me , nor do I care to know you, but I am [Cody's] partner ... I saw that you posted that [Cody] was on welfare ,,, I just want to clarify something with you ,,,[Cody] nor I are on welfare ...I would be really careful about making statements that are so personal like that..I don't care what political background you come from but I will not let you bully [Cody] or I with that kind of statement ,,, Just to let you know [Cody] and I own a 2500 sq ft home here in Las Vegas that was bought with our own money and it is not government housing ,,, We also don't buy our food with an EBT card ...In closing I just want you to know as a Mexican American that has parents that were migrant workers who never were on welfare, I do and am offended by your welfare statement that not only reflects on [Cody] but also on me. Next time I hope you are more educated about the way you make your statements  ...Because I surly do think it was a very arrogant and ignorant remark ....No need to write me back ,,, I just need you to know that I am praying for you and I hope that God softens your heart ...As angry as I am at you right now, you're very lucky that I do not have to get ugly to get my point across .....Jonah"

Eventually, Jonah let me know he had written her.  At first, I was upset about it.  I saw no need to rock the boat and it made me feel like Jonah was fighting my battles for me, which I felt made me look weak.  I also felt he was making a mountain out of a molehill.

Well, soon my friend wrote some post about "calling a spade a spade," and if there were some people who couldn't deal with that, then she's just as soon not interact with them.  The she wrote some post alluding to the fact that Jonah's post was a threat on her life and should she be worried?  I guess she misinterpreted Jonah's statement that he didn't have to get ugly to make his point to mean that things would get ugly for her if he ever met her.  Then she defriended me and blocked Jonah from being able to contact her.

I was a bit annoyed.  First off, Jonah made his comments to her without my knowledge or blessing, and I thought, "Why is she defriending me for his actions?"  Then, I thought it was rather immature for her to unfriend me without even trying to discuss it or find out things from my point-of-view.  And frankly, my pride was hurt.  I've tried hard not to ruffle feathers, although I am not always successful, and I don't know that anyone has unfriended me before.  It bothered me.

But then I realized that this "friend" has never been much of a friend to me.  It's not like we have much in common.  And she has a very negative spirit.  It's not like my life is very empty without her. 

I wrote on my page, "I appear to have been defriended. Oh, well. Her loss."

One friend responded with, "Three people defriended me this past week. I'm not missing them."

to which I responded, "Yeah, I'm not particularly missing this one, either. But I did kind of like keeping her around just to hear her point-of-view. I think when you surround yourself with people who only think like you do, it's dangerous. I just wish people could have differing points of view and not feel that they have to sacrifice a friendship because of it.  Oh, well. It's not like we were bosom buddies or anything."

Other friends said, "BOO!!!!! How could anyone defriend you? I'm sure many have defriended me..I'm just not paying close enough attention. Defriending on FB is someone's cyber cowardly way of giving us the finger. It's interesting to me how brave people are with a keyboard and a computer screen. Just sayin'." 

"I may have been outspoken this political season, but I feel the same way as everyone else commenting here. I'm making my opinion heard, but apparently my opinion is offensive and contradictory enough to some that they choose to end the only way we keep in touch. I like the way [your other friend] put it, with a proverbial 'cyber cowardly way of giving us the finger.' To those who do that, I say, 'weak, very weak.' I don't defriend people based on the opinions they post on Facebook because they're contradictory to mine, I only defriend people when they attack my character or me as a person.

One friend, who knows this friend who unfriended me, responded privately with, "good lord...was it [our friend's name]?

I said, know? "Bingo! How DID you lol"

And he said, "funny enough...I just assumed at first...not that difficult I realize...and then somehow I must have seen a post of [hers]...anyone who knows you and[Jonah], and knows [her]...knows that you are gentle and sweet and she is somewhat of a I am sorry that had to happen, and just know you have plenty who support you. Really, she is a piece of work...sigh..."

And I answered, "I thought it was funny you immediately assumed it was her. She is a piece of work, indeed. My life is probably better off without her negative energy. I'm just sorry she felt she had to defriend me. Thanks for your support."

The liberal friend, on whose page the events leading up to the unfriending started, also wrote a private message which said, "She is a truly childish person. Funny how you never see real professional performers behaving that way. She is a community theatre diva." 

I responded with, "Well, what can you do?  Whatever. No sweat off my back. She's a big ball of negative energy anyway. I'm just disappointed that she felt she needed to make that choice. My partner wrote her about the welfare comment she made about me on your profile page. He was more offended by it than I was. I would have just let it slide, but he wrote her without telling me, and she overreacted to it. Oh, well. Who needs friends like that anyway?"

And Jonah wrote his own explanation on my page, saying, "[Cody] was defriended because of me and I would like to say I am sorry here on Facebook but I am not sorry for defending him ...My words are now being twisted around to make me seem as if I would do something hurtful to another human being. Facbook Friends, let's all remember to treat each other with respect and kindness. I know that each one of us walk different paths in life, have many different views and opinions on things but we should think about what we post here on Facebook before posting it . We all must be accountable for comments if they happen to offend or be offensive to others. [Cody] and I always think about what we say before posting anything. We also take responsibility for our words and actions if they happen to be offensive to others. The truth is I will not let anyone bully [Cody] or [me] with their words. God knows our hearts and if any of you ever feel offended by our opinions or comments please feel free to contact us to let us know. The great thing is that most of you, if not all of you know us by our character and know that we would never harm anyone. Please know that both [Cody] and I enjoyed reading your posts and getting your perspective on things. We feel its better to live outside of the box and not in the box where we only see our side of things."

Truth is, even though this friend made the welfare remark (which again, I was not all that offended by) and childishly defriended me, and even though we have little in common and often didn't agree on many things, I still did consider her a friend, believe it or not.

In two of the shows I did with her, I was paired as her dancing partner.  She is better dancer than me by leaps and bounds, and even though it was very challenging to learn the dances we did together, she was always very supportive and kind when she could have been critical and impatient.  I will always respect and admire that about her.

And we have had some good conversations in the past.  And like I said, I did enjoy having her around just for a different point-of-view than my own.  I will actually miss reading her aggravating posts, if you can believe it.

I wish she would have reached out to me and tried to talk this out before defriending me.  I wish she wouldn't have felt that was her only recourse.  As annoying and negative as she is, there are aspects about her that I do like.

Truth be told, I feel a little sorry for her.  I feel she breeds pessimism and is often guilty of self-sabotage.  She just seems very unhappy to me, and I am not the only one who thinks so.  I just wish she could find a better way in life.  She is actually a testament to me that money cannot buy happiness and the danger of only looking out for "number one".  Anyway, I do wish her luck, success, and happiness.  I really do.  She can use it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bad, Hamlet!

Last night Jonah and I were invited to the grand opening of a new theatre space that is going to go through more renovations and hopefully, be a new spot for new and vibrant theatre in our city.  The show they chose to christen the space with was a production of Hamlet.

I was actually excited to see the show because I like Shakespeare and I like Hamlet.  I also thought maybe it would be a chance to make some contacts with this particular theatre company because who knows, maybe I can work with them someday.

This company has a lot of money behind it, and they are trying to get other individuals with money to invest in it as well.  One of Jonah's friends (well, I guess she's become my friend, too) is one of those potential investors, and she is the one that invited us to the show.

From the get-go, it was terrible.  They should have called it Highlights of Hamlet because that's essentially what it was: a scaled down production with only the main players (Hamlet, Ophelia, Laertes, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Horatio, and the Ghost of Hamlet's Father) present.  The show was only 90 minutes long and was so butchered that if you didn't already know the story (fortunately, I did) I think it would have been hard to follow.  As a result of the butchering, many of the characters and relationships lost their depth.


I tend to believe the main fault in the production was in the direction of it.  I got the feeling that most of the actors on stage were capable of doing a better job if they had had a director who knew what he was doing, but it didn't appear that he did.

There was so much overacting going on up there that I felt like I was watching a melodrama.  During Ophelia's madness scene, I felt like I was watching a Carol Burnett sketch where the actress in purposefully over-the-top for comic effect.  That would have been fine if the tone of the scene called for it, but it doesn't, or so it was just reeally bad. 

The actress playing Ophelia, who evidently is a resident member of the theatre troupe, was easily the weakest player on stage.  Horatio was a close second.  He was often unintelligible and lacked any life whatsoever. 

The Ghost of Hamlet's Father was loud, but I couldn't understand about 85% of what he was saying.

Laertes was a super over-actor.  I guess it's appropriate that he and Ophelia came from the same gene pool.  He was waaaaayyyy over-the-top.  No subtlety at all.  When he was mourning his sister's death, it was one of the most melodramatic things I have ever seen on a stage.  I noticed, too, that his voice was raspy, and I'm sure all that yelling, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and scenery-chewing he was doing was the cause.

Gertrude and Claudius seemed like capable actors.  In fact, Jonah knew the woman playing Gertrude and said that under normal circumstances he would have expected better from her than what we saw.  I wasn't wowed by either of them, but I think in a different play with a different director they might have done better.

There was one scene where Claudius was whipping himself that just seemed so broad it was almost laughable, and the scene with Gertrude and Hamlet in her chambers was just laughable.

Hamlet was okay, but I felt like he rushed through so much of what he was doing and didn't really understand what he was talking about half the time.  He also had a kind of casual approach to the language that I didn't think worked well.  Moments that could have been poignant were quickly brushed over.

The only actor that I felt even had a grip on what he was doing was the actor playing Polonius.  He was the only one who I felt understood the style Shakespeare ought to have.  He could be a bit over-the-top as well, but for Polonius I think it works.

Jonah hated the costumes.  It was a mish-mash of modern and period that didn't work.  The acting was like that, too.  Some were too casual, and others were too melodramatic, and there was little cohesion. 

I also found the lighting very distracting.  With so much money going into this thing, why couldn't there be decent enough lighting to keep the actors well-lit?  The set was sparse, but that seemed intentional, and I wasn't bothered by it.

Mostly, I just thought it was badly directed.  I can't believe a good director who understands the story and language of Hamlet would have allowed his actors to make some of the choices they made last night, and worse, I suspect he misguided them into actually intentionally making those choices.

It was terrible.  It's probably the worst production of Hamlet I've ever seen, and I actually felt embarrassed that these actors, who had obviously worked very hard on the piece, were in such dreck.  It was nearly unbearable.  The only good thing about it being such a pared-down version of Hamlet was that it was over more quickly.  In fact, as each scene played closer to the end, I started to get happier because I knew we would be out of there soon.  Since there was no intermission, I actually felt like we were trapped into watching this thing.

I also was annoyed by the audience, many of whom kept getting up and down and leaving and coming back in.  I didn't blame them for wanting to leave, but I did think it inconsiderate, as I felt similarly toward the individuals who couldn't seem to break away from their text-messaging devices for an hour and a half.

I also wondered if the people who gave a standing ovation genuinely thought the play was good or if they were just trying to be supportive of this new company and space.  I suspect the latter.  I noticed my row didn't stand.

We had been invited to mingle with the actors after the show, but I couldn't bear to do so.  What would I say?  "I have never seen an Ophelia quite like yours."  "Wow, that was quite a production."  "You sure were acting hard up there."  "Wow.  What can I say?  Unbelievable."

Jonah and I noticed that Jonah's friend, who was also supposed to stay afterwards, ducked out as well.  In fact, I spoke to her as we were leaving.  She, admittedly, knows little about Shakespeare and asked my thoughts.  I tried to be diplomatic and said, "Well, it wasn't my favorite production of Hamlet."

She replied, "They want me to serve on the board, and I just don't think I can."

I was please that I was not alone in my assessment of the show.  As she and I continued talking, it was clear she hadn't been impressed, and Jonah's friend (and her husband) who had been sitting next to us at the show clearly didn't care for it, and Jonah and I spent the whole way home talking about what an awful production it had been.

It's sad, because this community could use more good theatre and more classical theatre, but if this production was an example of the type of shows this theatre company will be producing, I think the community can do much, much better.

I will say this.  I do believe a lot of hard work went into the production, and I do believe there was some talent up there.  I just think it was misused.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Four More Years: Trying To See Things From The Other Side

Well, I am pleased with the results of the election, obviously.  Do I think the world would have ended had Mitt Romney been elected?  Do I think America would have gone down the toilet?  No, I do not.   But a lot of my conservative friends seem to think Obama being reelected is the end of American society as we know it and that the end is near.  A lot of these friends are Mormon.

Look, a Romney presidency wouldn't have thrilled me.  I don't think his policies would have led me or this country in a direction I would have enjoyed.  But I don't think Mitt Romney is a bad man or that he would intentionally try to destroy America.  I just found him a bit disingenuous.  I actually believe Mitt Romney to be a moderate guy, but I feel he played up to the most extreme elements of the Republican party in order to succeed.  Maybe he had to; it's all political, but I just felt he compromised himself too much to appeal to ultra-right, and that lost some of my respect.  And if he is as conservative as he pretended to be (and I think he was pretending to win an election), well, then, I'm not interested in that, either.

But destroy the country?  No, I don't think Mitt Romney would have done that nor do I think Barack Obama will, either.  After all this country has weathered - a Depression, assassinations, wars (one which was the Civil War and could have easily destroyed this country forever), poverty, crime, drought, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, polarization of political parties, etc.- I think we can make it through anything.

But if you were to believe some of my friends (and some of their friends), we're doomed.  Here are some direct quotes from Facebook:

"I am ill... totally ill. Why is America so stupid? No more hail to the chief... we are going to be a socialist nation.... OMG... I want to cry for our nation. Now all we can do is pray and hope that the Lord hears our prayers ... and maybe strike a certain reelected officials with lightning?  ... Obama won, I don't support him, but I will pray for our nation and for the direction it's about to go in... and hope that we can survive another four years as a democracy with a socialist dictator as our president."

"The Constitution is still the supreme law, you still have freedom of Religion, Choice, Press , Assembly stand up for what you know is right. America is a Great nation because it is Good, when it ceases to be Good it will cease to be Great. This nation is founded on God given principles, the war in heaven was exactly that a War about our Agency, Christ gave us Agency & Lucifer wanted to force us, it is still going on."

"My neice posted this scripture this morning--- 'And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.' Mosiah 29:27"

 "[My son] is going to kill me, but he made me laugh last night while watching the outcome---he sat up and said 'I know who Obama is---He is MEGAMIND! He is out to destroy us and will leave our beautiful country in ruins!!!' haha except Megamind only had one minion---Obama has millions :)"

"i'm watching our nation get flushed down the toilet..."

 "This is a dark day for our country. Now more then ever we need to stay close to the Lord and follow the prophet!"

"We will be living in a different America four years from now..."

”'For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.

"'Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.'


"'it came to pass that Nephi had become weary because of their iniquity; and he yielded up the judgment-seat, and took it upon him to preach the word of God all the remainder of his days, and his brother Lehi also, all the remainder of his days;

"'And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

"Excerpts from the Book of Mormon, Book of Helaman 5:2-12"
"The treasonous bastard is back for another four years of stomping on the constitution and our freedoms, and sending us closer to financial ruin. We have just witnessed the end of America."

"'the last days' are getting closer. get ready usa. get ready world. the signs are getting stronger & stronger. seriously... crazy stuff. ❤still love u Mitt❤ so thankful WE know the truth. there's a reason for everything. PREPARE!"

"I am so sick to my stomach and disgusted and so worried for the future of my kids that I have decided to take a day of silence praying and pondering... God bless america"

"The scariest part is that we live in a country where a majority of the country lived through an awful last four years and still thought it was a good idea to reelect Obama. What hope does that leave America?"

"I'm still just sick this morning. And I suppose in all fairness, it's not just about the president being unrighteous, it's about the nation that chose him being unrighteous. Knowing the signs of the times and what lies ahead makes me nervous, but I am trying to gird up my loins and fresh courage take since God will never us forsake. The fact that He is unleashing His army at this time because, by law, there is always and equal amount of bad and good. That's why I choose to be part of the GOOD part!"

"Am I surprised?---NO----this just proves where this country is headed. It is prophecy. We know this country is going to be in complete disarray-there will be chaos and confusion and lack of moral values (wickedness) and when it seems that our country will be gone as we know it---God will step in and other things are going to happen that I will not post on facebook, but most of you know what is going to happen---get your food storage stocked up---we are headed in a downward spiral even more quickly now---but i"if ye are prepared ye shall not fear"!!! So grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!!"

"Oh no....we are all going to have a freedoms gone. This could easily be our final election because he will appoint himself Emperor and we will all be slaves to his majesty!"

My first instinct was to get all judgmental and criticize some of these statements, some of which I still think are a bit high on the hyperbole, but then I tried to remember how I felt when George W. Bush was re-elected.  Although his opponent, John Kerry, wasn't the strongest choice, I did like Kerry and couldn't believe people would be so stupid to reelect someone who I felt was doing a terrible job.  So I get it.  The feelings are still raw and people are disappointed and, apparently, scared.

I didn't write about my feelings when George W. Bush was reelected.  I was going to graduate school at the time and was quite busy.  My journal shows quite a large gap from 2004 to 2006 (I started this blog then, and that helped me write more), which is unfortunate because those were some pretty influential years for me.

However, when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I did write my feelings about that, and rereading them, I feel that many of those same thoughts could just as easily have been written yesterday as they were 4 years ago.

This is some of what I wrote:

                On November 4th  the incredible happened: Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.  It was a thrilling, thrilling moment.  I have been an active and ardent supporter of Barack Obama’s for quite some time now.  When he and Hillary Clinton were running in the primaries, I liked them both very much but leaned towards Hillary because of her experience and strength of name.  However, when Obama won the Democratic primary and as I continued to get to know him as a candidate, I put my full support behind him, donated to his campaign, put up campaign signs, and encouraged friends to see the same leader I saw in front of me.

                I have never in my lifetime been so behind a presidential candidate.  For the first time in a long, long time (perhaps ever) I felt I was actually voting for someone rather than just against their opponent.  When Bill Clinton ran the first time I was on my mission and didn’t know much about him and voted for him on the recommendation of my parents.  When he ran against Bob Dole, it was a no-brainer.  Al Gore was really the lesser of two evils for me.  I liked John Kerry, but again, it was a no-brainer.

                This year two exciting candidates have run, both of whom I have been impressed with personally (although I was not impressed with the McCain campaign’s smear tactics); but it was clear to me that there was something different and special about Barack Obama.  I truly wish his opponents and those who are indifferent could see the man I see.  Now I understand if people don’t agree with his government policies or his stands on certain political issues.  Perhaps they think universal health care is a bad idea.  Perhaps they’re nervous about his stand on a woman’s right to choose.  Perhaps they think raising taxes is a bad idea in today’s faltering economy.  Perhaps they think an early withdrawal from Iraq is faulty.  That I can respect (although not necessarily agree with).

                What does bother me is uninformed, ignorant, and even hateful people who think he’s a Muslim terrorist or a subversive Arab or the anti-Christ or is planning on ruining the world with socialism or liberal judges in the Supreme Court; who think he’s somehow going to bring about the downfall of America and society as we know it; who are actually afraid of him or who don’t like him because he’s black; who think his associations with free-thinkers (whether those free-thinkers be right or wrong and whether his associations with them have been minimal or prevalent) somehow make him a terrible person; who think he’s a liar or some horrible monster or has secret, ulterior motives or some hidden agenda that will bring about our downfall.  That I cannot tolerate.

                What I’ve seen as I’ve observed Barack Obama these last couple of years is an intelligent, moral, inspiring individual who truly cares about the United States and its citizens.  If one thinks his policies are bad for America, I can buy that; but don’t tell me he doesn’t have the United States’ best interests at heart.  Although I think George W. Bush’s policies were terrible and detrimental to this country, I have never accused him of not caring about our country or of not believing in his heart that he was doing what he thought was best for this country.

                In Barack Obama I see a man who is honest and tries to tell it like it is.  I see a man who doesn’t claim to have all the answers and is willing to listen to anyone’s ideas regardless of what side of the aisle they are on.  I see a man who is willing to admit when he is wrong.  I see a man who tries to inspire and unite others.  I see a man who leads by example rather than just words.  I see a man who symbolizes hope, optimism, and positive change.  I see a man who wants to be accountable to the people who elected him.  I see a man who cares more about the citizens of America than he does himself.  I see a man who is humble, and I see a man who I believe believes in God.  I see a man who rules more by hope and love than fear.  I see a man who is a diplomat who has consistently taken the high road during this campaign, who remains calm during a crisis and when attacked but who still is commanding and won’t back down when threatened.

                After eight years of what I consider one of the worst, if not the worst, presidencies in US history and certainly in my lifetime (and I include Nixon in that lineup), I finally feel like the sunshine is breaking through the clouds that have been hanging over us for so long.  I feel optimistic about our future and feel that hopefully mistakes can be rectified, our standing in the world can improve, and we can unite as a people.  Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen, but that’s how I feel.

                It’s funny, my first instinct to those who are frightened of an Obama presidency or who somehow think the country is “screwed” because of it is to say, “Welcome to how I’ve felt these last eight years.  It’s my turn to be optimistic and hopeful for a change.”  But that is a fleeting and foolish sentiment.  What I really want most is for us to stop being so divisive and hateful towards each other and learn to come together to work for the benefit of all Americans; to stop being so greedy, self-centered, and self-serving.

                I really have felt strongly lately that Barack Obama is just the kind of man we need to lead our nation at this particular time in history.  I have felt that we are in for some very difficult times, perhaps economically or in world relations, and that Obama is just the kind of leader we will need during that difficult period, much as I would say the same for someone like Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt, who I feel did great things during very perilous times.

                I actually think the economy is in serious trouble.  We may fall into a depression, which worries me somewhat considering both my career and the fact that I’m now helping to pay for a house.  But I do feel like Obama will be a good leader.  I think he will bring new ideas as well as inspire and cultivate hope and optimism, which is just what we will need.

                I’ve actually been impressed with how quickly he has already began his transition and the people he’s chosen to be in his cabinet.  It was so wonderful to finally see my guy win for a change.

                I was quite the election junkie while the election was going on, and on election night I flipped between CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and Comedy Central (where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were having their own comedy election coverage).  Ironically, it was Jon Stewart I was watching when the news broke that Barack Obama would be our next president.  I was so thrilled and emotional.  I cried because I was so happy.  As I said, I like John McCain, but I feel that the man we needed right now was Barack Obama, and is was thrilling and exciting to see him win, and it filled me with such optimism.

                Of course, there was also the great historical moment of having our first black president, although race was never an important issue to me during this election.  I don’t care what color a person’s skin is; I just want to know what issues are important to them and what they plan to do to solve various problems that are important to me.  But obviously the election of an African-American is momentous.  It was so wonderful to see all the black people’s faces as they saw that, yes indeed, a black man can be president, and that race was not denying them this moment.  It was thrilling to think that just 40 or so years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about dreams that were now actually coming true.  Never during his time would you believe a black man would be president, and here we are today.  It’s so exciting, and I speculate it’s a great moment especially for African-Americans, but I think it’s also a terrific time for Americans.

               I do think the Democratic party has lost power since 1968, but I am hopeful things are turning around for them.  I am also pleased to see that we’ve got a Democratic president, and Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House.  That’s not to say that I don’t think there should be a balance of power, but it’s nice to see that the balance of power has shifted to the Democrats for a change.
 I think one of the reasons John McCain lost was his choice of running mate.  While I liked John McCain, I absolutely did not care for Sarah Palin at all.  First of all, I found her lack of experience quite frightening, but more than that I found her political beliefs completely opposite of my own, and it really annoyed me that so many people (and many Utahns) liked her because she was “one of them.”  Well, excuse me, but I don’t want someone “like me.”  I want someone who knows what they’re doing.  The woman had no clue as far as foreign policy goes, for crying out loud!  It also really annoyed me how people find someone like Barack Obama more scary than someone like Sarah Palin.  I would be far less at ease with someone like her a heartbeat away from the presidency than I would having someone like Barack Obama at the helm.  I actually found her to be a bit dangerous.  I’m glad I won’t have to worry about her…for a while, at least.

Reading this again, I still carry most of these feelings, and that actually makes me feel good.  It means Barack Obama has remained the person I thought I elected and has done many of the things he said he would do.

Look, I get why people don't like Barack Obama and his policies.  I didn't care of Bush's or Romney's, either, so I get it.  But I never thought Bush or Romney were trying to destroy the US or that they were bad people or that the world as we knew it was going to end because of them.  

Certainly, the eight years under Bush's administration were not pleasant for me, just as I imagine my conservative friends feel the same was about another four years of an Obama administration, but I do wish people could see Barack Obama the way I do.  And I wish I could see things from their point of view as well because I do not quite understand it.

This post on Mormon Feminist Housewives summed up some of my thoughts about all the "gloom and doom."