Three Sisters and a Ditch

Let me get back to where I left off- several months ago. I have to admit, getting back into blogging isn’t easy. But, I have stories that must be told. By that I mean I’ve done some stupid things that might make you laugh.

Anyways- back to March!

As I left off, my sisters and I all had to drive back to Nebraska together. Now I had discussed how I’m kind of the lynchpin of my family- not a role I ever volunteered for. It was more assumed because I organize the family gift exchange.

We left at the crack of dawn. Well, more that we attempted to but slept and left two hours later. I had assumed that I’d have two co-pilots to help me drive, but that wasn’t the case.

My older sister was having a rough time. This was the first time she’d spent a few days without either her husband or kids and she was not in good shape. I guess sometimes you get attached to the people you marry and birth- go figure? My younger sister wasn’t well versed in cross country driving, so I wasn’t really willing to risk my life to a novice. So where did that leave me? A lot of freaking driving.

A couple hours in I was getting too tired to drive. No amount of cinnamon bears was gonna keep me awake, so I threw in the towel.

The little sis took over, and though I was hesitant I was sure we’d be fine…

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About an hour in we decided it was time to eat. I’m not sure why, but all three of us agreed that Wendy’s was the only thing we wanted. We tried venturing into the town of Sidney Nebraska. Tay took the wrong exit to get into the town, which should’ve been my first tip that something bad would happen. As we drove through the town that looks most likely to be featured in a Stephen King novel we decided there must not be a Wendy’d and figured we’d try our luck in the next town.

As we approached the exit, Taylor was speeding. Then she missed the exit. And continued speeding. Did I mention that Sidney was covered in slushy-snow? So here we had an inexperienced driver, snow, and speed. What could go wrong?

After Tay missed the exit and didn’t slow down, my spidey senses started to tingle. Or maybe it was common sense. Anyways, I yelled “Tay slow down!” and Taylor replied, “It’s fine!” If she meant “fine” like “we’re gonna end up in a snowy ditch” then yeah, everything was fine.

Suddenly she hit some snow and we drifted into a ditch. I should say it was scary- but it wasn’t. I basically gave zero effs about life at that point.

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So we all sat there a moment, in silence. As much of a loud mouth I am, I like to utilize silence when it makes people reflect on their mistakes. Eventually we all pulled out our cells aaannnndddd learned that none of us had service. I had slipper shoes and a t-shirt on, but I went out into the snow and flagged down the first car I could find. Turns out the town only gets service from one little no name cell company, and everyone else is S.O.L. This is only further proof that this town will be featured in a Stephen King novel.

Eventually the tow found us, and we got back on the road. Taylor drove the rest of the way home. JK- she totally didn’t get behind the wheel again. Taylor angrily asked why I wouldn’t let her help or let her drive home. It’s as if she completely forgot she put us in a snowy ditch…

I’d like to say that this was my last scare on the trip, but it wasn’t. We got Taylor back to Kearney around 11pm, after a 15 hour drive. My older sister was bound determined to get back to her family in Lincoln. Mind you, we had just gotten out of a snowy ditch, it was raining/storming, and she had been completely useless to drive the whole day… My older sis was being cray cray.

As we drove to our hometown, a little diversion from her crazy goal, I kept asking God why this road trip turned into my own Little Miss Sunshine??? Thankfully, before we ended up taking ourselves to a beauty pagent that would turn into a strip tease- our mother called and convinced my sister to wait one more night so that we could return home unscathed.

The next morning, my sister did not listen to vital information from our dad about roads to take and almost drove us off the road from being pulled by the mud. I don’t know what would’ve been worse: death by snowy ditch or death by muddy ditch?

Eventually, we all made it back alive. And eventually, I decided that it’s best if I travel without my two sisters. I can deal with one, but two just seems like it’s asking for death.

 

 

Four Siblings and a Funeral

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I’ve come to learn that funerals can somehow bring a family together. It’s traveling together that can tear you apart. Or at least put you in a ditch.

Last Monday I got a call from my mom. I couldn’t answer so I texted her asking what was going on? She simply answered back, “Grandma passed away.”

I admit I didn’t cry, or feel terribly torn up. I knew this was coming. When my Grandma had been making a miraculous comeback in the ER and her doctors were hopeful, I just knew deep-down that this was it. I take it from working too long in the Senior Assistance industry- you just know the nature of death.

I managed to call my mom ASAP and see how she was doing. She held it together pretty well on the phone, I could tell she was also busy contacting everyone to let them know what had happened. I shuddered a little to think that someday I’d be in my mother’s shoes, but I pushed back the thoughts quickly.

Things kind of went in a whirlwind from that point. My mom flew out right away and I took the role of figuring out how our family was going to go from Nebraska to Idaho to make it to the funeral. Well, I didn’t really “take” the role as much as it got put on me. I’ve come to accept that despite my efforts to constantly showcase my immaturity I am the ‘lynchpin’ of us siblings. I think I got this role of being in charge because I organized the sibling gift exchange every Christmas. I wonder if everyone realized how much I rig the gift exchange then they’d be less inclined to put me in charge.

So late one Wednesday night we gathered in our brother’s apartment and had 4 hours of sleep before driving for 16ish hours. It. Was. HELL. Or at least so I thought…

Between two cars the five of us took turns driving. It was odd, we hadn’t been on a ‘trip’ like this in years. When we were kids there were two kinds of trips: the Dad kind and the Mom kind. Mom’s kind entailed only a few bathroom breaks and efficiency. Dad’s kind entails bathroom breaks every chance we had and sitting down at rest areas that could kindly be described as “questionable” (aka disgusting). I’m pretty sure we could have cut two hours off our drive if we had just left Dad behind.

Through the barren land of Wyoming and past the brief piece of Utah we made it to Idaho around 8pm. We visited with family for a short while then went off to sleep before the funeral.

The funeral came the next morning, and it was actually nice. Sure there was the hurt of losing Grandma, but you could feel closure in it too. I’ll never forget when my uncle gave part of the eulogy and said, “She did not lead a remarkable life but she left a remarkable touch on everyone’s lives.”  If only everyone can be so lucky to have that said at their own funeral- “She left a remarkable touch.”

My Dad and brother had to leave right after the funeral but us girls stayed behind for a day. We had some time to catch up with family, and it was simply magical. I’m one of the eldest grandkids, and suddenly all the kids had grown up. The whole day was perfect in a bitter-sweet way, except for one thing.

That evening amongst the driving and everyone traveling in different cars I had left some things behind and had to have my mom bring me my stuff. When we finally met up she told me I’d find my stuff in Grandpa’s van. I opened it up and got the surprise of my life.

My stuff was packed with Grandma- and her casket. There are only three reactions you can have to happening unexpectedly upon a casket: calm, scream, or cry. I did all three. I’m emotionally complex like that.

Everyone laughed at me. A lot. And my aunt said, “Didn’t you hear us talk about how there is going to be a body in the drive way tonight?” I replied that I had thought they were talking about the kids, since they were going to be in their tents camping outside…

After that heart-attack, we got ready for the journey back home. As scary as it was to find a casket in my Grandpa’s van it was actually nice to be able to tell Grandma goodbye one more time before we left.

 

Progress Report- 5 Years Later

This morning as I struggled to get out of bed and get ready for a meeting- which shouldn’t have been a struggle since I didn’t have to wake up until 9 am… I had a Timehop notification.

Scrolling through my social media mistakes of the past I saw a Progress report and anniversary post from 2 years ago. I had a bitter sweet smile as I saw what it was. It was a post about an amazing date I had two years ago with a guy I called Major. I took a moment to read the post.

It amazes me how much I used to write on this blog. Though to be honest it was easier to write when I could post without my grandma texting me afterwards with life advice I neither wanted or needed. I have better writing material if I’m allowed to continue in my mistakes uninterrupted. I also was amazed at how much my life has changed. Not just within the 5 years I’ve had this blog but within the past year. Heck, life has been pretty extraordinary within the last 6 months!

5 years ago I thought that not being married would be the end of the world.

3 years ago I was wondering if I had a future in news.

2 years ago I thought I had met someone that was going to be a permanent part of my life.

1 year ago I was constantly questioning if I could make it through grad school, let alone figure out what to do after grad school.

Within the past few months…

I’ve gotten to speak with Warren Buffet and ask him if he needed help paying for lunch.

I got to be part of the media covering President Obama coming to Omaha- and didn’t get arrested by the secret service.

I camped out in a Chick-fil-a parking lot for 30 hours and attained a free year’s worth of food- again!

I have a job once I finish at UNO, at the news station I’ve wanted to be a part of since the day I moved to Omaha.

I work within the Regional Public Affairs for church, and love every aspect of the calling.

Every Thursday night I work at the temple, something I’ve also wanted to do since I moved to Omaha years ago.

My life is not perfect. My life is not easy. My life is nothing short of blessed and spectacular. A lot changes in 5 years. I can’t wait to see what will change within the next 5.

My Thoughts On The Mormon Same-Sex Marriage News

Last night I got done working a shift at the Temple here in town. Every time I spend a night working at the Temple I walk away with a glow, a spiritual buzz if you will, that I always wish never had to wear off.

I got home and jumped onto Facebook and caught wind of the news. I saw that Same-Sex marriage was to be defined as apostacy. That didn’t entirely surprise me. Later that night I had a coworker Facebook message me asking about the other new policy. I looked at the article he sent and initially didn’t believe it. The handbook they posted didn’t look official, and I hadn’t seen anything from the Mormon Newsroom or LDS.org.

The article said that children of same-sex couples could not join the church unless they were at least 18 and denounced their parents’ way of life. I didn’t believe it because this also seemed much different from the way the church has been moving.

Let me be clear, I didn’t have any perceptions that we would start accepting same-sex relations for the members of the church. But I saw the church start putting funds towards assisting gay youth in Utah who often are at high-risk for homelessness and suicide. I saw Elder Oaks condemn Kim Davis for not fulfilling the oath she made for her public office. I saw the church promote protection for housing and work for the LGBTQ community. When I saw this it just felt like it was stepping away from everything my beloved church had been building. It was stepping away from everything I had been building.

I know it’s selfish, but it hurt because I knew this would hurt people I cared most about. In my two years as a grad student I have made some wonderful friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. These friends of mine have been there with me to suffer through horrible classes, laugh about the troubles of being a GTA, and showed the unconditional love for me even with our conflicting beliefs that my religion has always taught me to have for other people. These friends of mine shared connections with me I don’t have with anyone else.

So as I came to realize that the new policies were true, it broke and confused my heart. It’s been a lot of soul-searching. Looking through my social media I have seen much of the same feelings of confusion. I tried to give my coworker answers as to what was going on, but I honestly don’t have any.

But though I don’t have all the answers, there are some things I do know: I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church of God restored on the Earth. I know not only that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, and that the Prophets and Apostles called today are of God and do their best to adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I know that these men aren’t perfect, no one on Earth is, but I’ve made promises to uphold their teachings and counsel. I still sustain these men as I did years ago when I was new to the church.

I could go into great lengths about how there is some practicality in this new policy, that it’s nothing new, or go further into the confusion it has caused me. Trust me, if you have frustrations or disagreement with this policy I understand, you’re not falling on deaf ears. For as much confusion this has been, interestingly enough I have found some interesting words of comfort in this time:

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Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

These times are confusing, and hard, but God is never the author of confusion. People are the only authors of confusion. I implore anyone who is confused, conflicted, or angry to simply pray about this. I won’t say that you will all come to the same conclusions, or that things will be made easy once you’ve prayed. But what I will say is that Heavenly Father wants us to seek understanding, and it is never wrong to ask.

Why Aren’t You Worried About Me?

It. Is. Done.

Well, almost done. Or more accurately, it heading towards being close to almost-done. I’m talking about my thesis, a.k.a “The Monster.”

A few days ago I went to meet with my graduate advisor to discuss next semester, which meant talking about my comprehensive exams and thesis possibilities. I was waiting quite a while for my advisor to show up so in the mean time I wandered around the offices to see who I could talk to. I ran into one of my professors and started discussing my “future.” As we talked she just said, “I worry about some students but I don’t worry about you.”

As flattered as I was I thought, “Seriously? You saw me eat two expired sandwiches in your class last week and I was about to eat another one yesterday except you gave me pizza. You’re sure you’re not worried about me and my future?” And in my defense after surviving all the bouts of food poisoning I’ve had I do not fear expiration dates. If the price is right they are more ‘guidelines’ than ‘warnings.’

After I talked with her and went back and forth across campus looking for my advisor, I finally got to meet and talk with him. We went through my semester plans quickly, discussed my thesis idea, and he even said he wanted to be a part of my thesis committee. The meeting went well. Surprisingly well.

When I’d shared my concerns about comprehensive exams and my thesis he said that he wasn’t worried about me. Again, I thought about eating expired sandwiches, but then I started to think about how people just aren’t worried that I’ll finish my M.A.

It’s weird. A year ago I never would have imagined I’d have things together, that I’d be okay at this point. Then again at this time last year I was still grappling with the fact that I was in school and not in Utah like I had planned to be. More importantly, how did this all work out?

It baffles me how Heavenly Father has slowly but surely gotten me to this point. I regret questioning him so much if grad school was really what he wanted, but I’m so thankful he didn’t smite me for pestering him. Yet maybe my questioning has something to do with all the food poisoning I’ve had… Or maybe because of my failure to refrain from Hy-Vee chinese buffet food.

Anyways, I still don’t understand why people have this sense of calm when it comes to me and accomplishing my M.A. I guess everybody just sees something I don’t quite understand. Regardless, I’m thankful they do. It just further proves, again, that Heavenly Father was right and I was wrong.

Now if only people would have this same calmness about me and my living choices. Despite past problems my complex has really straightened out. Admittedly I am a little concerned as to why the same neighbor has a different car every 2 weeks (I’ve been tracking this for a few months now) and I don’t feel the need to carry my pepper spray around anymore (maybe because I lost it)!

I’m glad people aren’t worrying about my school work or future job prospects, hopefully they will stop worrying about my apartment too.

Texts From My Father- Part 16

Last night my dad called asking me about some pharmacy stuff and I told him I would be around Hastings or Kearney this weekend. Somehow this translated to me making my way home as well… Not entirely sure how that will work out but I figure I’ll just do what I’m told. This made me realize I had not shared any of our texts since this summer, so here is a bunch of my misery for you to enjoy!

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It Could Be Bird Flu

I am ashamed of myself. For the first time in my adult life I have let a cold knock me down. I tend to have a problem of working through sickness because of pride and learning from a Dad who will likely die from an electrical shock at an old age rather than just old age. This week has been another story.

Saturday evening after General Conference (one of my favorite sessions ever- the whole Saturday) my friends and I were looking for something to do. Our plans will usually start as one thing then turn into whatever will cost us the least amount of money. We decided to take a walk around ConAgra Park, aka the site of evil.

We wandered around and somehow I ended up chasing the geese. I don’t remember how or why I got myself to do that but I think I just have this innate drive to chase geese. Much like my desire to trap a wild turkey into my car. See, this is a pic of me chasing geese back in 2008. Things have not changed…

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I managed to get my hands on a goose for a bit. I didn’t pull any feathers, maybe just ruffled them a little. I can’t tell you how much I want to domesticate my own bird. Anyways, the next day I may have started to come down with something…

All through Sunday Conference I had to fight to stay awake. Halfway through the morning session my couch-mates were giving me sideways glances. I think my friend Melissa was thinking about taking me out and burying me in the back. It’s always the quiet ones that are most likely plotting to kill you. Frankly with the amount of sniffling I was doing I would deserve it. We’re all professional students, we can’t afford to be sick.

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See, Melissa is totally plotting to kill me. It’s always the sweet, quiet ones!

By Sunday night I was in a haze of sniffles and sleep. I woke up at my usual 6 AM to see how I was feeling and decided to email my bosses that I was close to death. Everyone was understanding but missing a day of graduate school can be detrimental. Plus I actually like my Monday classes. You don’t get to say that too often in college.

I slept all day Monday and should’ve stayed in bed for longer, but I was stupid. It was a Wolfpack birthday, Ash was turning 26 again. I texted MT at 2:30 saying something along the lines of dying and not being able to make it then around 4:30 I drank DayQuil until I felt different and texted again that I could make it.

Should I have gone? Probably not? Was it a bad idea to drink more than the daily recommended amount of DayQuil? Definitely. Do you know what happens when you drink too much? Your symptoms go away but you get the weirdest headache. My vision became, what I would call, “psychedelic.”

But, it was Ash’s birthday. The last birthday of hers we will likely ever spend together. I still remember us becoming friends 2 years ago and breaking into her garage to decorate her car to show that I really cared. I may have been sick but I couldn’t miss one more birthday with Ash, especially if it was at the Cracker Barrel. Seriously, that place looks like my hometown wrapped up in an Iowan restaurant.

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See, I was so excited to be there with Ash and our friends. I had promised Ash I wouldn’t post this, but I bet my meager little blog doesn’t count. After dinner I could quickly feel the effects of DayQuil wear off. My nose began to run like a river and sleepiness came over me like a princess under a spell. Though let’s be honest, I am no sleeping beauty. Sleepy Lauren has been described as, “deranged”, “delusional”, and “just plain weird.”

I’m feeling a lot better after being in a coma all day today as well, but I am going to be up forever catching up on homework. I miss the days of undergrad when I could actually skip assignments. The worst thing is that I have this small worry that I have bird flu. Before I know it I could be pulling feathers out of my back like Natalie Portman in Black Swan. That crap was all in her head but it could happen to me! Well, at least if I die by feathers and growing mad I will have one last sweet memory with the pack.

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