Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Caffeine Withdrawl

I really don't drink that much caffieine on a regular basis, but apparently I have some built up in my system and I am going through Coke withdrawl. There is no caffeine on the BYU campus....none, nada, nothing. Now you can get pop.....with no caffeine. I discovered today at lunch that not only does Caffeine Free Coke taste like someone left bubblegum in the fountain dispenser, but that is is also not refreshing in the slightest---in fact it made my tummy hurt. So this afternoon about an hour before afternoon session of classes began, I looked over at naked face Mr.3 and announced that I would rather be at home. He eagerly looked up and smiled and said that he is dying for a nap. So we played hookie, drinking cans of pop (expertly hidden contraband in our car) on the way home in a desperate attempt at ridding ourselves of the lack of caffeine headaches that we are both suffering from.

It was a nice nap made all the sweeter by our flight from BYU.

I don't think that it is going to be the class that kills us, it will be the oppressiveness of the campus. And we have to figure out why my chest aches when we are in Provo....I don't think that the elevation is that much higher, but it could be that the campus is right in the middle of the smog line. Either way....ouch.

Quick posting from the trenches

In-between classes at the moment....and I discovered that people watching on this campus and listening to "Shake Your Booty" is really damn funny.

Shake, Shake, Shake....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Conversational Snippits Heard Today...

Girl 1: 3 dates already?! I mean, you don't have much time. Did you talk about marriage?
Girl 2: Not yet, I was going to wait until the fifth date.
Girl 1: No, you've got to talk to him now.
Sign in the ladies room in the Math Classroom Building
"This lounge is for nursing mothers only."
(One married woman discussing dating options for an unmarried friend-married woman is wearing a shirt that says "I love Mormon boys" in which her newborn son is goobering all over)
Girl 1:...well, I guess he's nice. He runs alot and has a really tight body...I think that you'd just love him....only problem is that he is from Nairobi.
Girl 2: Is he a member of the church? It can't be too bad.
(Question---they are talking about a future husband for this girl...shouldn't she be more inquistive about this guy, you know...trying to make a decision based on more than "a tight body"? This is marriage for all eternity you know....)
Sign on the elevator in the business building
"Do your heart a favor, take the stairs! You should only use the elevator if you are infirmed, over 75, or under a doctor's care."

My personal response---- "F@$% that! The only way up this hill is through your building and it's four flights of stairs framed in a glass box....just watch me NOT take the stairs."
Mr.3's response to my response-----"Indeed!"
My conversation with a secretary in the building...
Me: Excuse me miss, where is the ladies room?
Girl: Ok, well. You need to go back down the hall, do you see the stairs? (Keep in mind that we are standing right next to them and the men's room) Take the stairs down, make a I mean a right, down the hall and I think that it should be somewhere about like the men's room."
Me: You mean, that the bathroom is just the floor below, in the same place of the men's room?"
Girl: Yeah...that's right....that sounds much easier to find!
-----I was nice and didn't ask her how long she had been working there.-----

Day 2 of feeling stupid in Arabic Class

Yes....another day of being confused but trying...hopefully I will be able to get fully caught up by the end of this week.

But let me say this about BYU and is superfical. Everything looks pretty and manicured, students walk on the frying campus with this blank happy look on their face and no sweat.......NO SWEAT PEOPLE....I DON"T THINK THAT THEY ARE HUMAN. At least you can see Salt Lake's flaws when you visit, the city feels lived in not like you just walked into someone's front parlor. Everything is only the surface, an image of tranquility that smacks of the brainwashed. And I am not talking about the church, although I am sure that something has to do with it. No one has any real personality, they don't question things, they just walk and live their lives in a herd...following the leader to devotional. Tuesdays is the lucky day that BYU has their devotional....everything, and I do mean everything, completely shuts down on campus....and if you are in a building that the devotional is not being held in, they pipe the audio in for you. It's frightening. Everyone seems to be forced into a must dress right, are you married, if not why?, what car do you drive?, blah blah blah....even Mr.3 and I feel like we are put in a little box. We haven't been holding hands like we normally do, or the occasional kiss and cuddle. I am definitely not sitting close enough to him. In fact during our break I finally caved in, put my chair next to him and put my head on his felt like we were doing something illegal, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Of course we are also exhausted....the heat radiating off of the campus is killing us. I don't know how they manage it. There are very little trees there, mostly just fast growing small growth type of no shade at all....then there is also the issue of us trying to figure the campus out. For example, our classroom got problem. So today, seeing that there was a closer parking lot on the map we decided to park there this morning, only to discover that we had to go up (and I am not kidding with the number here) 8 flights of stairs to get to the main part of campus. My chest hurt so bad by the time we got to the top (because we had to hurry or we would have been late) that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I didn't, but did end of spending a lot of time in the bathroom sick today. My chest still aches dully, which was only increased in the level of pain with the awful case of hiccups that I had when I began to write this post---I'm better now....apparently the hiccups were cured by a short snuggle with my hubby.

Quickly, back to our class....they don't ask questions about things that they should....I mean they are in their second year of Arabic, and they don't know what Ramadan is.....or they know that Muslims fast but haven't bothered to find out why. These kids have been having a full year of colloquial Arabic as well as the Modern Standard and they seem to have no idea of Arab and/or Islamic culture....nor do they even bother to want to know. It is really sad, and I honestly feel that since they have such a strong belief that "the LDS is true" in all aspects of it...that they feel that even learning about other faiths would somehow make them a bad Mormon....and it wouldn't, it would make them more worldly. Honestly, you can speak the best Arabic in the world, but the second you go up and say the wrong thing to someone because you don't know the culture, you're through....and a lot of them want to work for the government! If you are translating something and don't know about the culture, think of how much you would miss!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Exhaustion in the land of Zion

So today began the first day of BYU Arabic class. Mr.3 (aka Mr. NF for "Naked Face" since he had to shave to attend classes--pictures will be posted soon) and I left early at 6:45 am to head down to Provo, picking up our friend Jeff on the way. We all felt so out of place, granted we looked the part because we all had to make sure that we were up to the Honor Code dress standards, but there was still that overwhelming feeling of not fitting in. This was only ex-asp-er-ated by the fact that BYU ends their classes four chapters ahead of where the U ends off....and they learn colloquial Arabic at the same time. So all three of us feel incredibly left more that than Mr.3 and Jeff because I was a lazy butt and didn't study up on my first year stuff at all (keep in mind, I took first year Arabic in 2000). Lots of work to do. Everyone in our class lives up to every Mormon archetype ever conceived....fills me with mirth that does.

Anyway...short post....going to go and eat and then study some more.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Torture is Where You Find It

I agreed to write a post about Torture to help a wonderful organization called Bloggers Against Torture in response to June being Torture Awareness Month. The majority of the articles that I have seen posted have talked about government actions against citizens, but torture is not about a government/private citizen relationship. Torture is about an unjust aggressor destroying others. On Bloggers Against Torture there was a nice post about the universality of grief and suffering in which mention was made of two US soldiers who were recently tortured and killed. While I agree with the message of the universality of grief I am disgusted by the lack of outrage from the anti-torture community and organizations like Amnesty International about the brutal treatment of these two men. I believe that the reason for the lack of this outrage is that way too many people equate the soldier with the government and since the government may be unjustified in its actions that anything that happens to a soldier is just. Torture is torture, no matter where you find it.

Perhaps my stance can be further explained by sharing a bit of the personal with you. Long time readers of my blog know that I have quite the protesting history, including a total of three weeks in the Cell of Atonement for the American Kurdish Information Network. I have always been very appreciative of my right of free speech and used it as often as I can. And I also met a man, fell deeply in love, and married him; a man who is vastly more conservative than I ever thought that I could deal with. I married a soldier. In my love for him I learned to be more objective and understanding to a section of individuals that I had previous denounced. I saw that I had been making the same mis-judgement, I had been equating the soldier with the government, almost de-humanizing them. I have reformed, I have learned to see the individual in everything.

My husband fought for his country, he fought for freedom for the Iraqis....and in that fight he was badly, badly injured. He has been called a baby-killer to his face, scoffed at, called names.....and for what? For being blown up in service of his country? For trying to protect others? Soldiers are precious individuals. Soldiers are brave individuals....they understand the consequences of actions that could be taken against them in the course of their duty, and yet they still find the courage to carry on.

Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker were tortured and killed in the line of duty to their country and the people of Iraq. Details of the mutilations done to their bodies and their remains have been quietly covered up by the government for the soldiers' protection. But anyone who knows and loves a soldier knows what happened because it has happened to many many before them. Stories range from their eyes being gouged out, being emascultated, beheadings.... What has been released was that their bodies were "brutalized" and that the bodies were booby-trapped to prevent their fellow soldiers from collecting the remains. (At least one soldier was gravely wounded in the collecting of the remains because of an IED placed on them) Where is the outrage over this treatment? Why are we not hearing calls against the tortures perpatrated by radical Islamists? I believe that this is because the majority of anti-torture campaigns only focus on governments and neglect the individual price that is paid.

I have had many people ask me how I can reconcile my opinions and that of my husband's....there is no reconcilation needed because at both of our cores be believe in the same things. And when we have children, I will drag them along to every protest march and patriotic rally I can find. I am not alone in this sentiment.

Strange People

Salt Lake is an odd place to begin with. If you are not part of the Mormon culture (which resembles a bunch of medically happy people constantly dressed in Sunday best) you are part of "the other". There is no middle ground in Utah. People watching is really fun here as you get a lot of the extremes of "the other".

Case in point, the pink guy. I see this guy all the time, but he seems to be mostly around Liberty Park (a park that used to be quite scary but is now a Bohemian haven). He is always walking, with intent, with his bleached blond hair tipped with neon pink, hot pink flash pants and light pink shirt. He fascinates me...whenever I see him I am never in a position to ask him about the pink....he could just like pink....but that much...there must be a reason. However I do run the risk of never being able to end the conversation with him if I begin it.

Another odd person that I saw today was at the Fred Meyers/Smiths/or whatever they are calling that store this week, and as I was walking in I was presented with this guy who I think was trying to do a half Joan/half Jack thing (bonus points if you get the music reference on that!). This shirt was half hot pink (what is it with that color today?) and half black. On the pink side he had his black hair in a ponytail that jutted out from his ear and his eye was lined like a cat with liquid black eye-liner. The other half of him was normal. I tried not to stare but I was honestly trying to figure out what he was up to. As we passed each other he said in the deepest voice ever "what's going on girlie girl?". I didn't say anything, just nodded hello. But I really wasn't sure how to I address him as "Girlie Boy"? Or just "Hey, I'm good, but did you know that your makeup is running?" Mr. 3 says that I should have addressed him with the more formal "Mr. Ma'am".

My basic confusion is how to figure out what people's statements are. If they had buttons they could pass out or wore t-shirts that say "Today I am trying to prove ______". That would be sooo much easier for me.

As to my sleep patterns, I have been employing the sweet over-the-counter-generic-unisom-sleeping-pills to relieve my sleeping malady....oh what a beauty they are!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Spinal Tap

This morning Mr.3 was rubbing his hand on my back when he noticed that I had some weird bump on my back.....after a little investigation we discovered that there wasn't some strange growth coming out of my back but that we were feeling my spine. Being able to finally feel my ribs was a strange-enough trip with this whole weight-loss thing, but now being able to feel the individual vertabrae in my! This leads me to the title of this post (and I am not referring to the band Spinal Tap-although I listened to them for the first time yesterday-one of these days I will get around to seeing "This is Spinal Tap"...) way back when I had my spinal tap procedure the doctor attempted to do it in the office (which is fairly common now) however after stabbing me with the needle she decided that since she couldn't actually feel the individual vertabrae in my back that performing the spinal tap with an x-ray might be of some use. I agreed because honestly someone poking things into my spinal column without really knowing where they are going is a little worrying.... I guess that now she wouldn't have that problem anymore. Mind you, I am not going to go and volunteer myself for a spinal tap anytime soon...the aftermath of the first one was bad enough- a migraine so bad that killing myself did seem like a pretty good option.

I haven't been sleeping well the past few weeks. After last night I am considering going to the store and getting some over-the-counter sleeping pill. I'll sleep soundly for a few hours, then I will wake, toss and turn for a few hours (but still too tired to get up and do something else) and then I will fall asleep for an hour or two before I get up and have nightmares until it is time to go to work. This week is the last week at Outreach for the summer, and the Arabic class at BYU starts on Monday (I have sooooo much review to do)....if only we could get the issues with our bank fixed I think that everything will be ok. Until then, I think that my only option is to continue to self-distrust slowly.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Your Emoticon is Grumpy

Maybe you're having a bad day... or maybe something just upset you. Either way, you're definitely seeing red!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In the further reading department...

Mr.3 sent me this link to an article on Joseph Smith, or rather it's more of a teaser to a later article to come.

and Rob, I meant for my link tab to be that long.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mormon Readings

This weekend I finished Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints. (Let me know if you want to borrow it Mom.) I thought that it was rather good, but it is a book swirled in controversy.....and I have read both sides of the arguement on her book and I think that both sides have valid points. If you would like to read an in-depth and wonderful commentary on the events surrounding this book, see here.

What I found interesting about this book was that really for the first time in the eighteen years (wow, that seems like forever) that I have been in Utah...I have really become interested in looking into the history of the LDS church. Now wait, before anyone starts to worry about me converting.....I have already been through all of the missionary discussions, the temple ground stuff...and bunches of movies. While I have found it interesting there is no way that I would ever become Mormon. Growing up here has shown me that the people are not open-minded and I should have never been treated like I, my brother, or my family have been, as "outsiders" by this community.

The dogma of the LDS church I find freaking fascinating. And I am partly envious of people who are so firm in their belief that their church and everything about it as "true". I question too much (that is why I am Sufi)...and so I must learn to be content with my spirituality and learn to deal that I will probably not ever find myself comfortable in a religious community.

In response to this book (and an exceedingly interesting Episcopalian ceremony that I went to on Saturday) I have been back to studying different religions: which includes lots of internet research that Mr.3 has thought to be pretty funny. I have often thought about going to RCIA classes---which is the Catholic conversion classes--- because I am interested in the more obscure practices of the Catholic church, but I would feel bad about taking them because I would not convert at the end and that is really the expectation.

So I am beginning my quest into more info....right now the focus is on the LDS church. After I read the anti-Mormon book I decided to read a pro-Mormon I read Charly by Jack Weyland. I see why it makes everyone cry but ugh! the sentimentality in it made me want to double-over. Here is the synopsis: Mormon boy takes out non-Mormon girl as a request from Mormon boy's Dad. After a rocky beginning they became friends....he introduces her to "the one true faith" after reading the Book of Mormon and finding it all "to be true". She converts much to the dismay of her family. She wants to marry him, he says no, they fight, she leaves to go to school in New York. He pines for his mistake, goes to get girl and fails horribly at it. Girl returns with potential husband to meet her family. Both boys fight over girl. Girl decides to marry Mormon boy. They marry (in the temple!), live very poorly but happily. Boy finishes school, gets job, they move, decide to buy a house, then just buy land in which they camp on until the finally build their house. Girls gets pregnant, has a baby. Both happy and productive members in the church community (happy happy happy). Girl becomes diagnosised with un-named cancer (which I was really disappointed in because I was looking for a way to use my Cancer book). Girl sick and dying and the church community rallies around them (she even let one of the other Mormon ladies nurse her child which, I'm sorry we are no longer in the days of wet-nurses....not a line to be crossed!) Girl dies but not before she tells her husband the following about wanting him to find another wife after she dies:
"Now, about your next wife, Sam....Find someone that I can get along with. You're not only looking for a wife for you, but you're looking for a sister for me. I understand I'll have to share you in heaven, and we don't want any violent agruements between me and her there would we?"
See I found out this weekend that Mormons may not believe in polygamy in this life (well, it is illegal you see) but believe that polygamy will be practiced in the afterlife. Now I understand the woman wanting her husband to find an alternate wife...but having to figure out the living arrangements in heaven? Geez...people, can't you just wait until you get there? Additionally, unless you are having an agruement about religious doctrine, an acceptable end to a fight is never "I'm right because I hold the priesthood in this family". In Mormonisn, only men can hold the priesthood, and this was actually an agruement illustrated in this book....AND THE WOMAN WAS OK WITH IT! AAARRRGGGHH!!! Ok, breathe, breathe. Sappy doctrine aside..the book was ok, a lot of things happened in its short 120 pages....I would have liked to see more fleshing out of the story. Glad I can now say that I read it, but will never read it again. Yes, I cried a little at the end but I felt nauseous about it at the same time. I had to go and read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons to cleanse my head. I've read a few more chapters and will probably start another Mormon type book later tonight or tomorrow....I am going to try and be even handed in the books I read (one positive, one negative and so on) and yes, I plan on reading at least the first volume of The Work and the Glory.

I'll let you know how this goes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Even the stars are aligned against me

Again, I have neglected the dishes and I must face the horror of them today. So I stalled and took a shower and I stalled by deciding to check my email.....and this is what I get for today's horoscope:
Those responsibilities sure feel heavy right now, but people are counting on you to assume a certain role. While you're not totally willing, keep in mind that you are absolutely the best person for this job. refusal to do dishes has now reached epic astronomical proportions.