Fracticality

An old friend was telling me today about how he is reading a book that talks about how patterns make things that are seemingly meaningless have meaning. All of a sudden, I recalled a tiny fragment of my crazy math professor from my Freshman year of college who took time out to teach us about fractals.

What are fractals? Well, I’ll tell you.

You see, fractals are tiny patterns that make identical larger patterns. More sophistically put, fractals are complex shapes which look more or less the same at a wide variety of scale factor whether they are big or small. There are many examples of fractals all around us. When I learned about them, we discussed cauliflower. Have you ever looked at it closely? Each piece, no matter how small, resembles and makes up the larger piece. And it doesn’t start and end with something as simple as cauliflower. Even coastlines, veins, and countless other things that we see on a regular basis are fractals.

So, I propose, to some degree, that in a way, each human being is a fractal. So, you could go all cynical on me and say, “Well, Amber, people are all different, no two people are alike, blah blah blah,” and you’d be right. Each of us is a delicate snowflake with individuality oozing from our personalities.

However, we do come together to make up a whole. That whole is the human race. We have so much to give in this world we live in, and while it may seem like we are insignificant, the truth is, there would be a hole where we were supposed to be if we never existed, or if we tried to act like we were meant to be someone else.

I believe that we were placed on this earth to be who we were at birth, and we bring something very important to the table. That is ourselves. Nobody else could take that job and have it fit the way it does. Other people could probably try to mimic what we are supposed to do on this earth, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same. The tapestry would have a little snag in it where you were supposed to be.

Anyway, back to fractals. They go on for infinity. There never seems to be an end to where the molecular structure breaks down to the point where the pattern is no longer present. I suggest that this means there is no end to matter, and there is no beginning. This means that the possibility of there being something greater than we could ever imagine is not completely out of the question. There could be countless dimensions, beings, creations that we can’t see or understand. The vastness to this little time we have on earth is so far beyond our capacity for understanding, but it is beautiful, isn’t it?

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.

Henry David Thoreau

Eyes Wide Open

The more I’ve grown in my education, the more old fashioned I find myself to be. I have a friend, Christine, who loves this Mormon feminist blog, and she shares things on there sometimes. The reason why I love Christine, and why I love reading this blog (that I hardly ever agree with, mind you), is because they really remind me how differently I think than do most people in the world around me, and how there are so many other views out there that make everyone so unique.

As I learn and grow, I realize how important it is to understand the way others view things for two reasons. One, I may learn something new that really applies to me. Two, there will probably be a time in my life where I’ll just need to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand what they are dealing with from their point of view. If I live in a tiny bubble my whole life, I’ll never help anyone or learn anything.

This doesn’t mean I have to accept everything they believe. It doesn’t mean that I have to prove them right or wrong. But it does give me the chance to see something from a different position, and to really benefit from seeing that position.

Anyway, today, Christine posted something from there, I thought it was amazing, so I really wanted to steal it. It’s from Emma Lou Thayne’s book, A Place of Knowing: A Spiritual Autobiography. So, please do read, and enjoy.

“Many years into my adulthood,
when asked by a Jewish poet friend why I stay in my Mormonism, I
explained it with a story, the details recounted by my mother. It is my
mother’s story transposed into an allegory about my believing.

When I was a little girl, my father took me to hear Helen Keller
in the Tabernacle. I must have been about eight or nine and I’d read
about Helen Keller in school, and my mother had told me her story.
I remember sitting in the balcony at the back of that huge domed
building that was supposed to have the best acoustics in the world.
Helen—everybody called her that—walked in from behind a curtain
under the choir seats with her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Helen spoke
at the pulpit—without a microphone—but we could hear perfectly,
her guttural, slow, heavily pronounced speech. She spoke about her
life and her beliefs. Her eyes were closed and when it came time for
questions from the audience, she put her fingers on her teacher’s lips
and then repeated for us what the question had been. She answered
questions about being deaf and blind and learning to read and to
type and, of course, to talk. Hearing that voice making words was like
hearing words for the first time, as if language had only come into
being—into my being at least—that moment.

Someone asked her, “Do you feel colors?”

I’ll never forget her answer, the exact sound of it—“Some-times
. . . I feel . . . blue.” Her voice went up slightly at the end, which
meant she was smiling. The audience didn’t know whether to laugh
or cry.

After quite a lot of questions, she said, “I would . . . like to ask
. . . a fa-vor of you.” Of course, the audience was all alert. “Is your
Mormon prophet here?” she asked. There was a flurry of getting up
from the front row, and President Grant walked up the stairs to the
stand. She reached out her hand and he took it. All I could think was,
“Oh, I wish I were taking pictures of that.”

“I . . . would like . . . ,” she said, “to hear your organ . . . play . . .
your fa-mous song—about your pio-neers. I . . . would like . . . to
re-mem-ber hear-ing it here.” All the time she was speaking she was
holding his hand he had given her to shake. I liked them together,
very much.

I remember thinking, “I am only a little girl (probably others
know) but how in the world will she hear the organ?” But she turned
toward President Grant and he motioned to Alexander Schreiner, the
Tabernacle organist who was sitting near the loft. At the same time,
President Grant led her up a few steps to the back of the enormous
organ—with its five manuals and eight thousand pipes. We were all
spellbound. He placed her hand on the grained oak of the console,
and she stood all alone facing us in her long, black velvet dress with
her right arm extended, leaning slightly forward and touching the
organ, with her head bowed.

Brother Schreiner played “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” each verse
a different arrangement, the organ pealing and throbbing—the bass
pedals like foghorns—as only he could make happen. Helen Keller
stood there—hearing through her hand and sobbing.

Probably a lot more than just me—probably lots of us in the
audience were mouthing the words to ourselves—“Gird up your
loins; fresh courage take. / Our God will never us forsake; / And soon
we’ll have this tale to tell— / All is well! / All is well!” I could see
my great-grandparents, converts from England, Wales, France, and
Denmark, in that circle of their covered wagons, singing over their
fires in the cold nights crossing the plains. Three of them had babies
die; my great-grandmother was buried in Wyoming. “And should we
die before our journey’s through, / Happy day! / All is well! / We then
are free from toil and sorrow, too; / With the just we shall dwell! / But
if our lives are spared again / To see the Saints their rest obtain, / Oh,
how we’ll make this chorus swell— / All is well! / All is well!”

So then—that tabernacle, that singing, my ancestors welling in
me, my father beside me, that magnificent woman, all combined with
the organ and the man who played it and the man who had led her to
it—whatever passed between the organ and her passed on to me.

I believed. I believed it all—the seeing without seeing, the hearing
without hearing, the going by feel toward something holy, something
that could make her cry, something that could move me, alter
me, something as unexplainable as a vision or a mystic connection,
something entering the pulse of a little girl, something that no matter
what would never go away. What it had to do with Joseph Smith or
his vision or his gospel I never would really understand—all I know
to this day is that I believe.”

What an absolutely fantastic story that pushed me to put myself into Sister Thayne’s shoes.

And so, sometimes looking at something from someone else’s eyes may more fully validate the feelings in your heart and give you an ever greater conviction to the truths that you know.

Heber J. Grant giving Helen Keller a Book of Mormon in Braille

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Helen Keller

4 Years

Four years ago today, I woke up really early in the morning. In fact, I could barely sleep the night before. Why? Because it was Prom. And based on the events of earlier that week, I realized that I was totally crazy about my date.

We had gone to a Diamondback’s game. In fact, it was my first. Not because I’m not a fan of baseball. In fact, quite the opposite. I just had never had the chance. So when I found out where we were going, I was so excited. Especially because it had been way too long since Jared and I had been able to catch up.

By dinner time, we were holding hands. And I can’t even describe to you how it felt to hold his hand. All the things I had ever heard about love attached themselves to our clasped hands. I cared about a lot of people before, but for the first time ever, I really felt love. And it scared the heck out of me.

So by the time the day of Prom rolled around, I had completely hyped everything up in my mind. I couldn’t sit still.

It started with the hustle and bustle of make upping and hair dos, and the butterflies in my stomach only got worse as the time that Jared was supposed to be here approached, along with an unexpected dust storm.

And yet, when he came to the door, the dust settled, the clouds parted (literally, it really happened) and my shaking subsided—all of a sudden the night had begun, and he looked amazing in his tux. I wasn’t scared, but pleased and excited to see what the night would hold.

And most importantly, I was in love, and after 5 years I could no longer deny it.

The night started with the usual taking of pictures, but then we went to dinner, and boy was it incredible. We ate at a place called Donovan’s. It was so beautiful and fancy, I couldn’t believe it. The best part was that Jared chose his food by closing his eyes and pointing. That’s what he picked. Steak, I think. What a goofball.

Then we headed on down to Stronebridge Manor for the actual prom. The thing is, they hardly played any good songs to dance to.

And then it happened.

My song came on, the song that I have always loved, that I, for some reason or another, have always associated with my future husband. And we danced. Our first dance together was my song, “I’ll Be. It was incredible. But the moment of holding each other in a dance soon faded as the rap music started again and went for over an hour. We sat and talked and smiled and joked until the Prom Royalty was announced and we danced on the grass together for the slow song. The rap music once again commenced, so we left.

We then went to a church parking lot and Jared played country songs out of his stereo in his brother’s car that we danced to. He sang to me, gently “Little Moments,” a song that described me in just about every aspect. I finally by then had worked up enough courage to tell him I was crazy about him, something I had wanted to do since earlier that week at the Diamondbacks game. He simply smiled, that beautiful, boyish smile and said, “I know.”

He pulled me closer, I rested my head against his shoulder, and we danced until it was time for Justin’s date, Lucy, to get home.

The thing is, by the time we got to my house after Lucy, I still had half an hour until my curfew. We hugged, but we didn’t let go. We held each other forever, it seems, just there together where there was no care in the world. And then, we kissed there under the stars. It was beautiful.

A day not to be rivaled until our wedding day. And this is the wonderful memory I celebrate today, and I just kinda smile and enjoy how everything happened.

Procrastination

I have a 6 page paper due on Friday.

I have a 10 page paper due on Monday as well as a final.

On Tuesday, I have a 3 page paper due, a 10 page paper due, and a final.

But I’m blogging instead. Because I have tomorrow to do all of that.

I’m thinking a lot about my life. I’m pretty poor, I live in a cheap apartment, I eat cheap food, my car breaks down every chance she (yes, brothers and sisters, she) gets, I’m almost always busy with school or work, but I’m pretty much the happiest I’ve ever  been.

Firstly: I’m married to my best friend. I was talking with some friends today about what would’ve happened if Jared and I wouldn’t have gone to Prom together. I don’t even want to think about it, because I am sososososososo happy. I love everything about him, even the things I hate about him. I absolutely love lying in bed next to him every night and just being able to reach over and play with his hair or hold his hand without him even noticing. Sometimes, I forget that we’re married, and every time I remember, it’s the best memory ever. I seriously love that guy.

Next: My family and my in-law family are both amazing. I was worried about how things would go with our families because it would be tough to balance time and life. But both of them are doing well sharing us and helping us and just being a huge support. On Easter, we spent a lot of time with both of our families, and we really enjoyed all of that time together. It just feels right. The other night, Jared said, “You really were meant to be part of my family.” I don’t know how his family feels about that, but I like to believe it’s totally true. And I love belonging.

Also: I have had a lot of friends that have come out of nowhere to just be there to give me a break and a hand when I need it. J.J. and Susan came and made dinner for me last week because I was so sick, and there are so many other stories of my friends being totally awesome through all of this. I can only hope that I’m as big of a help for them or that I will be one day.

And I kinda like to be busy. Even though I put a lot of stuff off and get a lot of grief for it, I really enjoy having every second of my life totally full of good and edifying things. And I’m really so grateful. I just love life. So, thanks for that, everyone.

Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.

Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby 

Honeysuckle Puppy Poo

Yesterday was a successful holiday. I know this because I’m completely exhausted today. And I feel completely edified.

We started out our day in church, the perfect place to be on Easter Sunday. Sacrament meeting was way more humbling than it ever really has been before, as my thoughts turned to the last week in the life of our Savior. We were able to spend some of our lesson time talking about how much He loves us and how we see that every day in our lives. The rest of the lesson was on miracles, and how our faith grows. We let each of the kids tell about their favorite miracle, and talk about maybe some modern day miracles (oh yea, did I mention Jared and I got called to teach primary? We’re teaching the 8-10 year olds. I love them already). I felt like that was the perfect lesson for Easter Sunday.

We then came home and waited for my parents to come and pick us up to go out to visit Pam and David. It’s always so nice to go over there because it’s so relaxed and comfortable. The food was great, the company was fantastic, and it was really a great way to spend the afternoon. I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and I was really happy with the way things went. It’s always so nice to spend time with them because there isn’t any pressure. One day, I’m going to get Pam and David a sign to go over there front door that says, “Come as you are” because I feel like that’s completely the mentality. It’s great.

Then we came home and rested for about a half hour and trekked down to Grandma Lanette’s, which is always a good time. We had more great food, an epic Easter egg hunt, a lot of story telling, and even more laughter. And, of course, holding the baby is always pretty sweet. Especially because he doesn’t always cry when I hold him, and he hasn’t spit up on me yet. Overall, Tyler and I are off to a great start.

So, you might be wondering about my blog title. Really, I’m just hoping I beat Dan to it. Basically, this is what I’m going to call Dan for the rest of my functioning life. And that’s because, well, I mean, can you say it without giggling?

Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive. 

~Thomas C. Haliburton

Broom

I bought my first broom today. I’ve been married and living outside of my parent’s house for four months, but I haven’t bought a broom until today. It wasn’t until I looked at it happily and touched it’s bristles that I realized what’s going on:

I’ve caught the homemaker bug. All of a sudden, all I want to do is clean and decorate.

I think that three years ago, I would’ve looked at myself and shuddered. Ugh. Women are always giving up blah blah blah blah to become housewives. I dreaded that idea all through high school. There was nothing I wanted less than to just become the little woman. And I knew I couldn’t marry anyone who would force me into that role because I would resent him forever. But I’m pretty much content. And I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything to be a wifey. I feel like I’ve gained more than I could ever explain. But that’s me.

I think the world expects women to operate at two extremes. Either they are feminist or they are oppressed. I don’t see it that way. I think that it takes a lot of character to stand up and say, “I’m going to be a successful, working woman.” I also think it takes a lot of character to stand up and say, “I’m going to be a mom and a wife.” I think it takes a lot of character to stand up and say, “I’m going to do both because they’re both good things.” I don’t think any of those are wrong. Women who choose not to have children are no less women, just as women who choose to have children are no less brave. It’s all a matter of perspective and priorities, and so to the women in the world, I say, be proud of who and what you are, and do what’s best for you! Don’t feel like you have to give into something just because that may or may not be what’s expected of you.

For example. I’m so not ready for babies. If the Lord sees it fit to bless me with one now, I’ll gladly accept. But if it were 100% up to me, a baby wouldn’t be in the picture until I’m done with school. But I have friends younger than me who have had babies or will be having babies soon. And I think that’s great! I have friends who never ever want to have kids, and that works for them. I’m in the middle of the two camps because it’s where I need to be. I don’t feel any pressure to go one way or the other on the matter because I have decided that what I need to do for myself is more important than either doing what people expect of me or defying the standards of the world around me.

Right now, though, my new baby is my broom, and I plan on getting close with it this weekend. And I’m all right with that idea.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Mawage

People keep asking me how married life is. I guess my most honest answer has been, “Not really what I expected it to be.” Here’s what I’ve learned and how I’ve learned it:

1. Alone time doesn’t happen all that often. Jared and I were all cute on our honeymoon, showering together simply because we couldn’t stand to be away from each other long enough. Monday after our wedding, I wanted to go visit family or friends. He just wanted to stay in the apartment and be together. And I almost screamed when he climbed into the shower with me. I just wanted some time by myself, but that wasn’t in my stars for the day. But it’s really really okay. Because when you’re in love, even though you may want some time for just you, you’d be surprised at how well those moments where they invade your personal space end up going.

2. When you’re mad, don’t lie. They won’t leave you alone until you tell the truth. When I can’t stand being in bed with him one more second (and it does happen here or there, mostly when I’ve had a long day), and I go lay on the brown chair to just get some air, he’s out there in record breaking time, telling me to come back to bed, not willing to go until I get up and come to bed or tell him why I’m upset. And usually, the reason I don’t want to tell him is because it’s so dumb. And I come back to bed.

3. When you spend a lot of time together, you get on each other’s nerves. Moreso than when you were dating. All of a sudden, your business because “our” business, and you’re accountable for the things you do that didn’t matter before. All of a sudden, stealing the blankets becomes a crime punishable by death. All of a sudden, the dishes are piled up, you’re exhausted from working all day, and you just wonder why the other person couldn’t do it when they were sitting around all morning. There are no answers, and there are no arguments that will solve the problem. You do what you do, they do what they do, and you’re going to butt heads, but that’s part of life.

4. Eventually, finishing each other’s sentences gets really annoying. Let your loved one speak, otherwise, they’ll feel like they’ve lost their voice. And you’ll start getting the wrong endings. That’s just a bad experience all the way around.

5. You never run out of firsts. You might have to get a little creative with them, but as long as you have an imagination, you’ll never feel like an old married couple with nothing to look forward to together. There are always more firsts.

6. Sometimes, sleeping in the same bed is just plain annoying. You might find yourself stretching out when he’s in the bathroom or not home yet, and you will find yourself sighing with relief. Don’t let it get to you. It’s normal.

7. Praying together really does work. There are so many times that he come home angry or I come home upset, and we just pray together. All of a sudden we are just wrapped up together in spiritual closeness, and those problems don’t seem so big anymore. You can solve any problem by praying together. Bold? Yes. True? Also yes.

8. Sometimes, you just need to have a pillow fight. Having fun together is the best remedy for rekindling happiness in the marriage. Go on a date some time. Tickle each other. Dance in your living room. Cook breakfast together. Dating doesn’t end when you get married. In fact, it just goes up to a whole new level.

9. Enjoy each other. You know what I mean. Even when you’re upset with each other or you feel too tired. Don’t let time pass without making sure you share that time together.

10. No matter what, you just have to go for it. Do whatever it takes to be the best wife or husband. If you think it’ll make you a better person, do it. You will change when you’re married, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You can’t stay where you are and be devoted to someone else. There is change that happens when you give your whole life and heart to another human being.

And, really, that’s that.

I love being married.  It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

~Rita Rudner

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