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."