In Which We Accidentally Prove My Father Right

Over the summer, while I was going through the wonders and delights of my first trimester, the temperature shot up to the high 90’s and low 100’s. Our apartment does not have air conditioning. My dad, concerned, asked what we were going to do about it. “Set up a fan,” we said. “Sleep in our underwear, and spray cold water on ourselves before bed.”

“What about moving?”

“Not in the budget,” we said.

I lay on the couch fighting morning sickness while Dad relayed information to Mom. “They’re probably going to rent month-to-month until they can find another apartment with air conditioning.” That’s not what I said at all, I thought. What I said probably just came out as moaning. It’s hard to win an argument while you’re trying not to throw up.

So we set up a fan and slept in our underwear and soaked our clothes and managed to survive the summer. It was hot, but we did it. And now it’s cooling down, and we’re very happy about it, and we’re looking around, saying, “Hmm. We need to make room for a baby.”

A few days ago, some friends told us they were selling their contract for a two-bedroom apartment. Hmm. Two bedrooms would be nice. We went to take a look at it. This is much bigger than our current apartment, we thought. This would be nice. We took a look at our budget. We can afford this. And, since our landlord still hasn’t gotten around to writing out a year-long contract for us, we’ve been renting month-to-month. Almost in spite of our best efforts, we have proven my father’s words correct.

But hey – we’re moving! As of next month, we’ll be living about a mile east, and with significantly more space. Hooray! ♦

Book Duel: To Kill a Mockingbird

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This is quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read. Ever. It’s definitely topping the charts for this year (sorry, Old Testament), and I can’t think of a more wholesome, refreshing, honest look at life. It’s simply fantastic.

Written at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is the story of a 9-year-old learning some harsh truths about the society she lives in. Scout lives in southern Alabama, during the Great Depression. Her new schoolteacher won’t let her read, because she’s not supposed to learn that until 3rd grade. Her classmates often go hungry. Her father is appointed defense attorney to a Black man accused of raping a White woman, a crime that can carry the death penalty, and Scout’s neighbor Boo Radley is rumored to be a madman who haunts the streets at night. Scout encounters all these with a childish candor that blasts through the layers of complication grown-ups add to everything. To Scout, there’s just one kind of folks: folks.

This is not only a beautiful depiction of childhood, it’s also a beautiful depiction of the fight for humanity. Scout’s father Atticus Finch spends much of the book defending Tom Robinson, a Black man, even though he knows the White jury will convict Tom. Atticus already knows the cause is lost, but does everything he can to change the minds of the jury, considering it at least a “baby-step” when a juryman considers acquitting. Atticus is one of the only people in the state, it seems, who considers all human beings worthy of respect. He doesn’t allow his children to disrespect anyone, or to grow up with prejudice – but he also doesn’t become bitter in the face of opposition. He allows that everyone has their faults, and gives everyone – Black, White, learned, or ignorant – the benefit of the doubt.

I would recommend this book to anyone mature enough to understand what rape is, and to recognize that there are racial slurs in the book for the purpose of pointing out their ignorance. The writing is beautiful and hits home, making decent human behavior look like the obvious course of action. ♦

Book Duel: The Old Testament

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Woof. The Bible is not easy reading. I don’t even remember when I started in Genesis – but I just finished the Old Testament, and I’m super proud of myself, and of course I’m counting it for this year’s book count.

Now, how does one go about summing up the entire Old Testament? It’s complicated. And not just “1200 pages” complicated (although it is). It’s that the book is actually a collection of much smaller books, written by various different prophets and historians, and many of them out of chronological order. So the best I can hope to do here is to find some kind of running theme.

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My dad knew someone who had read the whole Bible, looking for a thesis to the whole work. I think her conclusion was that the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was supposed to be answered, “Yes, you are – or at least, you’re supposed to be.” (In the words of Jeffrey R. Holland: “…although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother…”)

Anyways. I’m not going to spend an eternity here dissecting individual books of the OT – but I would say the most prominent (and relevant) theme I found to connect to my own life was the question, “Do you want a God or not?” Most of the prophets who contribute to this work ask, in one way or another, why the children of Israel keep contradicting themselves. When the Israelites aren’t following God’s commandments, they tell the prophets to leave them alone and find other “gods” who will condone the lifestyle they want. But when the Israelites are in trouble, suddenly they want a God of vengeance and justice, and they get mad that God isn’t being consistent. And the prophet’s like, “Well, do you want God to follow His own rules or not?”

Basically, everybody wants God to take their side – but they don’t want to have to take God’s side. They want a God who will back them up, no matter what they decide to do, with no demands in return. So… they just want to be God.

I thought this pretty accurately described our society today. I’m not saying it describes everybody – but let’s face it: most people just want to be accepted for who they are. Even if who they are is a total jerk. And while I think we should certainly be accepting of people, that doesn’t mean everybody  has the right to be a total jerk. It doesn’t mean everybody’s doing the right thing, just because they say they are. And it doesn’t mean we have to be okay with every decision people make. On the flip side of that, we should take a good, hard look at the way we’re living our own lives. Are we mad when the cops pull us over for speeding? And if we are, do we have any right to get mad at the other drivers on the road when they ignore the law? Basically, I feel like the Old Testament draws a connection: if you want protection, you have to follow the rules. If you want God to defend you, you have to pattern your life the way He asks. ♦

 

And the Floods Came Up…

This morning was interesting.

Ethan’s alarm went off at 5am, but happily, Ethan had the day off today, and he just turned the alarm off. Unhappily, I felt like a donkey had kicked me in the small of the back. I have no idea why, but apparently pregnancy means you should not sleep on your back. I had fallen asleep that way and slept most of the night with steadily growing back pain. It took me an enormous effort to get onto my side and curl up, and the pain in my back eventually died down enough for me to fall asleep again.

Several hours later, Ethan got up because he heard knocking at the door. Nobody was there anymore, but after a few minutes, he tried to turn on the water and found we had zero water pressure. Not good. So he went to check with the neighbors in the studio apartment next to us. Apparently, our neighbor had gotten up early to discover his kitchen floor was wet around the door to the laundry room. When he opened the door, a wave of water came flooding through his apartment. The water heater had exploded – or at least, there was a sizable hole in it, and the laundry room had accumulated nearly 12 inches of water.

Fortunately, our neighbor is competent and clear-headed, and quickly shut off the water valve to the whole house. Also fortunately, our manager is much more proactive than our past management, and we had the problem fixed by noon. In the meantime, Ethan kindly massaged my lower back until the pain went away. No lasting damage to apartment or body. Just small-scale adventure. ♦

The Foody Blues

I have a love-hate relationship with food. Before pregnancy, it was love. Shortly after pregnancy, it became bitter and tainted, and food and I began arguing. We had a few (very) nasty break-ups. But now, I think I’ve moved on from the post-break-up bitterness to complete apathy.

I’m done with food. Ready to move on with my life. Find something new and exciting, better than that old relationship.

Except that food is necessary for survival. Small detail.

It’s not that I hate food. It’s just that, for the past few days, I have absolutely no desire to eat it. Oh, what’s that? Food? Oh, that’s nice. Occasionally, I’ll have a sudden need for pizza, or a taco, but aside from random cravings, I’m pretty much eating when I think I should, not when I actually want to.

Except for Halloween candy. Man, if I had realized how good a KitKat can be just out of the freezer, I would’ve left food for candy a long time ago. ♦

A NY Slice with General Washington

Ethan and I were running errands the other day when we got hangry. (It’s the kind of anger that strikes when you’re hungry.) We drove into the parking lot of Panda Express in Orem, because it was the closest purchasable food – and we were just too hangry to go home and make it ourselves. First-world problems.

Anyways, while we were parking the car, Ethan spotted a restaurant that claimed to be serving New York pizza. I scoffed, as often I do. I lived in New Jersey for a year and a half, and while I still enjoy a cheap slice of Little Caesar’s from time to time, I have yet to find a “New York” slice that actually tasted anything like the east coast. (Not that I’ve ever taken a bite out of the east coast, mind you. Just the pizza.) Anyways – we decided to go in, ask for a menu, and see what the price was like. Worst-case scenario: too expensive, and we end up at Panda anyways.

We walked into Lucy’s Pizza, and the waiter graciously gave us a menu, pointing out that the $3 slice was the best value. Now, in Jersey, a “slice” means something about the size of your face. It’s huge. And it’s usually $1-3, depending on the sketchiness of the pizza joint you’re at. And it’s addictively delicious. In Utah, a “slice” is a piece of pizza. As in, you order a whole pizza, and a “slice” is the piece you’re eating. You don’t order a “slice.” And a slice of pizza is usually about half the size here as it is in Jersey. So I was hesitant – Lucy’s sold slices, which was a good sign, and they were quite affordable, which was another good sign, but they might be tiny. We asked the waiter about the size of the slices. He held out his hands and indicated a good, face-sized slice. Alright then. We decided to stay.

We couldn’t decide which toppings to get, so we got one of each (there were only 3 options). And while we waited, the waiter brought us some pickles and marinated olives to snack on, as well as describing for us the $4 Italian meatball we found on the menu. (It’s a 10 oz. meatball. We’re totally going to make this some kind of birthday tradition.) And when the pizza came, it was delicious. I’m sure it’s still better in Hoboken – but this was good pie. And 3 slices was too much of it for the 2 of us to eat. And – to top it off – when we were leaving, the waiter brought us a take-out box that had a picture of George Washington, wearing a “No. 1 Dad” apron, tossing pizza crust. It’s a work of art.

Basically, I’ve found my favorite restaurant of all time. At very least, it’s the best I’ve ever found in Utah. Buffalo chicken pizza, 10 oz. meatballs, marinated olives, and the Father of our Country to pack it all up in. It was a fantastic dining experience. ♥

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Book Duel: The Miserable Mill

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Lemony Snicket is at it again, with book 3 of the Series of Unfortunate Events. The Miserable Mill took me about two days to get through (a grand total of probably two or three hours, to be honest), and it made a fun read. Heavy literature? Hardly – but good for “snack food” reading.

The Miserable Mill includes hypnotism, chewing gum, coupons, and a horrible sawing machine. Also, a sword-fighting baby. It’s a fun read. ♦