Friday, March 30, 2012

True Beauty

I like the theory that everyone has one true beauty. We spend so much energy inventorying and loathing our physical flaws and sometimes everyone needs to just admit that they posses one perfect physical feature. One thing that we can just embrace as beautiful and feel comfortable about. I have fabulous eyelashes that are long and thick and naturally curly. I can think of improvements I could use to every single thing about me but there is no way to improve my eyelashes.

Physically I didn't win the genetic lottery and get blessed with a gorgeous face or body and as a chunky kid who grew into a chunky teenager, an entire life of feeling gigantic has a way of warping your self image. I never had what I would call low self esteem because apparently in the pre-mortal world I decided to skip the line where they were passing out athleticism, I refused a fast metabolism and I went straight for where they were passing out confidence and took two helpings. Don't get me wrong, I believed that I was a morbidly obese monster of a girl who would never be found attractive by any human male alive, I just happened to also think I was genuinely the coolest person I knew. I was always the life of the party, I could get along with anyone, I cracked myself up constantly and I knew God loved me. My mother probably deserves credit for the confidence because she was certainly my biggest fan and she is a social/emotional genius who has a magical way of making people feel at ease in her presence. She did not go overboard praising every mediocre accomplishment but I never craved her acceptance because it had never been withheld in any way. Can a daughter give higher praise than that? I have known enough screwed up adults in my life to tell you that nothing damages a person more than a childhood of wondering if you will ever be good enough to your mom. Not to mention the fact that neither the Arnett nor the Haws gene pool has ever run short on confidence and the odds of Marolyn and Milan producing an insecure introvert are about as high as the odds of them having a brown eyed baby.

With that said, I would also like to tell you that the first thing my dad ever said to my mom was "Do you know that you have fat knees and no boobs?" I'm not making this up. This is not a pick up line that would or should work on any woman but the effect of this statement combined with his obvious attraction was to expose her most sensitive secret that she had spent her life concealing and hating and just exposing it, acknowledging it, and dismissing it. What a novel idea. Long story short, they ended up married with four kids and as soon as medical science caught up with the growing plague of women who hated their figure, the fat knees and flat chest were fixed. These days I can name ten people in ten seconds who I know personally who have had boob jobs and/or liposuction (and a hell of a lot more than that) but this was back in the 80s when it was almost unheard of in the middle class. I was about ten when she got her boobs and I remember that she was extremely worried about the message she was sending her daughters by surgically altering her appearance. At the time I held no strong opinions about breasts one way or the other but I understood that everyone else seemed to give them (or the lack thereof) a lot of attention. My mom kept telling me "Staci, when you grow up you will most likely not have boobs at all. Thats okay. That doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you." I remember thinking something to the 10 year old effect of "No shit, Sherlock."

Besides her own neurosis about body image, I don't know where she got the idea that I would grow up and have small boobs since I had never possessed anything that had ever been described as small. Even stories of my birth always included what a giant baby I was. People don't realize that a statement like that is the emotional equivalent of telling a girl she was born hideously disfigured. They also don't realize that comparing a child to a Cabbage Patch Doll is not only UNORIGINAL, it is CRUEL. (And those are the only two qualities I truly detest in a person to this day.) I wasn't a sensitive kid and never had a penchant for violence but a person can only get their chubby cheeks pinched so many times before they begin plotting revenge. Just freaking try to pinch my cheeks today. See what happens. Better yet, pinch my kids cheeks and call them a Cabbage Patch Doll. Please keep in mind that the number of semiautomatic firearms 35 year old Staci has immediate access to is in the double digits.

Okay. Now that I have that off of my chest I can tell you that I have spent my entire adulthood or an insane roller coaster of weight change from literally being morbidly obese, to getting so thin that size 2 jeans were loose on me and I couldn't even lay on my stomach in bed because my body would teeter precariously on my prutruding hip bones. I am 5'10" and I was about 110 pounds. This was a few years ago when I was in the grips of a mysterious auto-immune disease that ravaged me out of nowhere. The sick thing is that I was literally wasting away to nothing and there was a point when I started to honestly expect to just keep shrinking until I died. I would lie awake at night and wonder how the end would come. Would I collapse in the house and be rushed to the hospital where I deteriorated until organ failure while my family watched helplessly and doctors continued to be stumped or would I just go to bed and not wake up? I went to dozens of doctors and I couldn't stop or even slow down or diagnose the problem. The sick thing is that I was a walking skeleton and everyone who saw me just couldn't help but congratulate me and celebrate this weight loss. When I got sick I didn't even want to lose weight. My weight had been average and stable for years before I got sick. My neighbor told me that I look like a holocaust victim. I was shocked to hear such a direct and graphic insult and then I realized that she meant it as a compliment. I can think of no better illustration of how completely weight obsessed our culture is than the moment I realized that healthy women are looking at images of Holocaust victims and feeling envy. It got to the point that I couldn't have a conversation with anyone without them pointing out how fabulously skinny I was. I was familiar with the phrase "There's no such thing as being too rich or too skinny." but I had never expected to experience either condition and I certainly wouldn't have put my money on becoming too skinny, but I was officially there. I would dread church on Sunday because each week I would have to explain over and over that no, I did not do the HCG diet. I have a horrible incurable undiagnosable auto-immune disease. Then I would have to maintain a pleasant demeanor as everyone responded exactly the same way every time I said it. "You're so lucky." Yes. I am lucky. I am wondering who will raise my kids when I'm gone and wondering if my funeral will be one of those depressing tragic type of funerals or if it will be inspiring and touching. But I can buy my clothes in the little girls department, and I don't have to try anything on because I know how it will look on me which is exactly how it looks on the hanger. Lucky me.

I am all about extremes. I'm either scary overweight or scary skinny. My house is either a disaster or it looks like a model home. I am either so healthy that I haven't needed to see a doctor in a decade or I am so sick that I am hooked to an IV five times a week so that I don't die. I got pregnant with Jack while simultaneously using 3 forms of contraception and I had to take fertility drugs for a year to get Abe. I experience no physical pain when I am in advanced stages of labor. In case you think I'm talking about digging ditches, I'm not. I'm talking about pushing something the size of a watermelon (with shoulders) out of my vagina. I went through the entire process of meeting, dating, converting, and marrying my husband in a little over two months. Once I paid cash for a brand new 328i BMW. The car I drove for three years before that was a red and grey two toned Pathfinder that had been wrecked on three corners, didn't have power steering (or power anything) that was lovingly called "the Dyke Mobile" by everyone who knew it. There was a time in my life that I had a private corner office in literally the highest rent Class A office space in the entire state. Mine was the office with three walls of floor to ceiling glass on the corner of 32nd street and Camelback on the sixth floor overlooking the Biltmore and right across from the Ritz Carlton so if I got bored I could watch famous people sunbathing. That job came with an expense account, a ridiculously large paycheck, an assistant and a primo reserved parking space in the garage. The monthly rent on just the parking space was higher than the total value of the car I parked there every day. If you are wondering how a 23 year old high school drop out landed that job let me tell you something about sales. When the president of The American division of a multinational corporation realizes that he just bought a plane ticket from NYC to Phoenix to interview a 23 year old high school drop out, he knows that he has found someone who can sell anything. I hate the term "She could sell ice to an Eskimo." Of course Eskimos will buy ice. Eskimos LOVE ice. They love it so much that they live in houses made of it. In fact, thats the only thing I know for sure about Eskimos. They are ice addicts. Thats like saying "She could sell Crack to Whitney Houston". Lets all be clear about our target demographic. If you ask me if I'd rather sell ice to Eskimos or desert dwellers I'll take the ones who didn't move to the desert specifically because they hate ice. Let me tell you a far more accurate phrase that would express sales ability. "She can sell Mormonism to the French." Thats a tough sell. It is also a perfect job to prepare you to sell high end office space.

There was once a time when I was on the VIP list at every trendy bar in town (tip: the girl who will be the designated driver every single time is the most popular girl in the club scene) I have never tasted alcohol but I was on a first name basis with all the bouncers (another tip: It never hurts to make out with a bouncer every now and then if you want to be on the VIP list at all the clubs) Speaking of extremes, Once I spent the night in jail. I used my one phone call to get Lisa to come post bail and I made it home the next morning just in time to shower and get to church to teach gospel doctrine. You get the idea. I sound bi-polar but I swear I'm not. I'm not even a thrill seeker. Sure I find it entertaining to push people's buttons (especially the buttons on uptight Mormons) but really, somebody has got to do it. Lets not take ourselves too seriously.

With my all or nothing track record it makes sense that one day I had a revelation that hit me over the head and changed everything. I am hot. I had spent my whole life avoiding mirrors and accepting platonic BFF status among all of the cute boys I knew and had totally convinced myself that had God wanted me to be a wife and mother he would have given me a totally different set of physical attributes. I had totally grieved the loss of the husband and kids I was taught to want but would never have and I had made peace with it and moved on. After all, I was in my early twenties and everyone knows that that put me way into old maid status. Sick.

I was successful at selling just about anything on the planet but I saw my DDDD boobs as a liability. Male humans are HARD WIRED to love DDDD boobs. I was daily selling high end commercial real estate to companies at above market premiums effortlessly and I was failing to sell DDDD boobs to men. I wasn't even really overweight then. I had learned how to advantageously dress my figure and learned how to doll myself up. Wait a minute. I was marketing my product to the wrong demographic. If my life had a soundtrack, this is where you would hear Sir Mix-a-lot. There is an entire planet of men who love my LA face and my Oakland bootie. The first group I discovered was black guys. I couldn't get a date in the singles ward to save my life but I couldn't walk down the street without a hot black man pressing his frantically scrawled phone number into my hand. I was dating a professional basketball player and he was showing me off to his jealous friends. And I was the trophy girlfriend based entirely on my looks. I didn't have to make anyone laugh or engage in witty banter to make them want to be around me. That got old in a hurry. That got offensive in a hurry. The magical thing about realizing one day that you are in fact attractive is that once you know it everyone else seems to notice too. There is a vibe that gets sent out and heads start turning. Once that vibe was put out I found another demographic. Non-Mormon men. Here is another little nugget of truth about attraction. A chick who is a solid seven gets more attention than a ten. A seven is attractive enough to catch their attention and not too hot to scare them away. This is especially true if the girl who is a ten never had to be forced to develop a sense of humor and never got forced against her will to learn how to be BFFs with cute boys because it turns out to be a very handy skill to have when you are married to the cutest one of all and you are raising the other two cutest ones.

I keep thinking about Eve n the Garden of Eden. Before she ate the forbidden fruit and Satan had no influence over her she walked around naked. Then she ate the fruit and became subject to Lucifer's. The very first thing Satan did was make her ashamed of her body. This is the Father of all Lies who laughs at suffering and is bent on destroying us and out of all of the millions of things he could tempt her with he went with the most effective destructive thing possible. He convinced her that her body was disgusting. In fact thats what signaled God that the fruit had been eaten. They covered themselves with fig leaves because they were ashamed. Its no coincidence that death and body image issues entered the world simultaneously.

5 And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where agoest thou?

16 And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.

17 And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely adie?

They made themselves coverings out of fig leaves to cover themselves and the scriptures don't say this but I its very possible that Eve then said, "Does thou know wherest I may go to find a good underwire minimizer fig leaf so that I mayest lift and separate my breasts? And wherein may I find a way to cover my cellulite? The Serpent beguiled me and told me that this apron I have fashioned out fig leaves maketh my thighs look huge."

I love Eve. She is the smart cookie who figured out the answer to the whole tree of life riddle. I guaran-damn-tee you that while the Garden of Eden was probably a really nice place it was about as exciting as watching paint dry. I mean how long can a sharp girl walk around a place carrying baby lambs gathering flowers and watching ripples in a pond without something interesting around. I would have been all over that forbidden fruit. Sure, death is fine. We'll take the curse. I'll push shoudered watermelons out of my vagina and Adam will till the earth and we will figure it out as we go, just get me out of this boring place where we feel nothing. I'll take the combo of pain and joy any day over perfect boringness.

The great thing about life is that the whole point of life is to come here and get our asses kicked. Life has a way of figuring out the one thing you don't see coming to level you every now and then. The worst thing that could happen to a person is for nothing hard to ever happen to them. Its actually the only thing you can ever really expect out of life. It will all be unexpected. And just when you get to where you feel like you have a handle on things and you are strong and capable and you don't need help from anyone, watch out. An infinitely loving God won't let you get too far like that without blessing you with some challenge that will efficiently remind you exactly why we need Him. I let Abe wander far enough away from me that if he falls he might get hurt but I don't let him get so far from me that he'll get hit by a truck. And when he insists on running towards traffic without me I give him a swat on the butt. He doesn't like getting a spanking and he may even cry and throw a fit about it. He might even be mad at me or claim to not need me at all. He doesn't understand immediately that the little pain caused by the reprimand is nothing compared to the pain that those cars will inflict. He won't understand it for years. I love him unconditionally and endlessly and will do anything to keep him safe. Even spank him. I don't ever enjoy the spankings life hands out but I'm trying my best to reign in the tantrums and learn to stay close to my Parent. Sometimes he even throws one of those leashes made for kids with ADHD at Disneyland onto my back which really pisses me off but I'm starting to understand why I need the freaking leash. He loves me. I have a covenant with Him and He keeps His end every time.

Of all the names in the world my parents could have chosen for me they picked Staci. Staci Haws. Say it out loud. Now say it with a severe lisp. Thathi Hawth. Go figure that thats the kid that got a lisp. I examined every angle of this irony for a half hour every day of third grade as I was forced to sit in a small room with a tyrant of a speech therapist who made me talk about that slut Sally and her stupid seashells by the seashore every single day. I'm sure the woman was much nicer than I remember her because horrible people don't typically choose to make helping children a career, but thats not what I was thinking about because I was too busy mentally slaughtering Sammy the Seal with my semi-auto. I couldn't hear the damn lisp. In my head it sounded exactly the same when I said it her way or my way. I literally made no progress. Finally the school year ended and the speech therapist wrote me off as a hopeleth cathe. Wow this post is long. Can you tell that I am thuffering with inthomnia? Feel free to stop reading anytime.

That summer I had to get a dental spacer put into my teeth just to prevent crowding. It was a little bar that connected to my back molars and ran along the inside of my bottom teeth. You couldn't see it but it felt weird. I spoke and it was a little awkward. I sounded weird. Terror ran through me. For a moment I thought that Thathi Hawth had just become Shashi Hash. In reality the lisp was gone. In one instant. The lisp disappeared. I never mispronounced an S again in my life. Even when the spacer came out. It was that simple. cathe clothed. Can you believe that I had such a dramatic change in one instant. Its a fact. Its the story of my life. Its how I roll. I do pretty much nothing by degrees.

To close, let me just embed a nugget of a video that illustrates exactly the kind of girl that all the guys every LDS singles ward go nuts for. This is my true revenge to every boy that didn't ask me to dance at the stake dance and to all of the ones who asked for my number and called to ask me about my girlfriends and then lingered on the phone for hours because I was so fun to talk to. I sound bitter but I really am not. I count my unsuccessful teenaged love life among my greatest blessings. Not to mention I ended up scoring the kind of man that…… uhhhh…. I got…… I am at a loss for words. I have no words that do justice to John's goodness and his hotness and his integrity and intelligence. He is my perfect complimentary match. The only person that I trust completely. I made it across the finish line of single-hood with a white dress that symbolized the perfect hard-won virginity that I possessed. He was worth saving it for. A real man who loves my rack a lot and loves my brain even more. It blows my mind that I got so lucky. Not Holocaust lucky, Real lucky. I was searching for my equal and I married up.

So back to the greatest viral video ever to grace the Internet. I could watch this over and over and over and over. I would like Travis to report in twenty years how entertaining it is to be eternally yoked to this sweet spirit after she has gained a few pounds. Being married to this girl after the newlywed sex is over sounds about like the Garden of Eden to me. Enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Tooth is Out

This whole day has revolved around Jack's obsession with getting his loose tooth out. Yesterday he was all about letting me yank on it but there was one or two incidents where it bled and hurt more than he expected. Today he was twice as obsessed but now was completely wussing out. The tooth was so obviously hanging on by nothing. It could twist 180 degrees and protruding out. I could have let it go for another day if he wasn't so stressed about it. Finally I pinned the kid down against his will and yanked the tooth out when he opened his mouth to scream. No blood, no nerve, the new permanent tooth is showing and there's no way it actually hurt him. Nonetheless he didn't take too kindly to my helpful assault and so he cried and flipped out for twenty minutes. Then he walked next door to the Gartner's house to show them his tooth where he promptly dropped the tooth onto the ground where a bag of crushed popcorn had recently been spread. We sorted through thousands of small white tooth shaped debris. Just as I considered fetching one of the old teeth from my jewelry box to solve the problem, the tooth was found and once again Jack could stop sobbing. Here's a pretty classic picture that illustrates the trauma of the tooth. This is literally the best smile I could get out of him.

Announcement: I am the Tooth Fairy

Jack is eight and has only lost two baby teeth. He lost the two bottom front teeth but in both cases the permanent tooth grew in behind the baby tooth and we had to take him in to the dentist to get the baby removed. They were not even loose and then he didn't look any different when they were gone because their replacement was already there. All of the other kids his age have lost lots of teeth so I'm surprised he still has his baby faced smile. I am in favor of keeping those suckers deep in his gums for as long as possible because even though he has never had a cavity, there is definitely a bigger responsibility to take care of permanent teeth. John and I both have straight teeth naturally but there is a rampant buck tooth gene running rampant in the Haws gene pool and I'm hoping we can avoid braces.

So finally Jack has a truly loose tooth. His first official one. He is very financially motivated and he knows that the tooth fairy pays kids who have never had a cavity a big "copay bonus" so as soon as he discovered the wobbly front tooth he has been trying to get it out. It has gotten to the point that you can see it swinging around in his mouth when he talks but I can't for the life of me get the stupid thing out.

Jack was talking about the Tooth Fairy and wondering how much she'd pay for this tooth and I was trying to dodge the subject because I have been feeling guilty about how hard we sell the mythical characters (Easter Bunny, Santa, etc.) and now that he is 8 I just think we ned to set him straight. He is getting baptized next week and I feel like he needs to know that what we have taught him about Christ and God is the only thing that is real. Kids nowadays end up with more tangible evidence of Santa Clause than they do about the Atonement and while I think the traditions are fun and I don't want to be a grinch, The age of accountability is a good time to cut the crap.

Then the next day Jack was going through my jewelry box and came across his first two baby teeth. He was totally confused as to why I would have these in my possession when he had definitely sold them to the Tooth Fairy long ago. He is a sensitive kid and I didn't want to to bum him out. Then I realized that like everything in life it is all about how you sell it, I realized I am the queen of spin and I can make this a positive thing. Sales is a skill that is valuable in every industry and mothering is no exception. So I said, "Jack I need to meet you in my closet in five minutes for a top-secret kid/mom meeting and I am going to tell you a spectacular secret that is so exciting. I have been wanting to tell you this secret for a long time but now you are ready. See you in five minutes. Don't tell anyone. We can't be followed or overheard. Make sure the coast is clear, okay?"

Five minutes later in the clandestine closet meeting I gave him my biggest smile and told him that "I AM THE TOOTH FAIRY! Isn't that Great!?" He wanted to know if I was the Tooth Fairy for everyone but I told him nope, I am his and Abe's private Tooth Fairy and every mom gets that job when they have kids and it is one of the most fun things about being a parent.

"So when I have kids will I be the Tooth Fairy for them?"

" Yes. And you get to be more than just that. You get to be Santa and the Easter Bunny and even the Halloween Candy Fairy (who in our home takes all of the candy on Halloween and leaves cash. Yes I am a genius)." I explained that now that he is in on the secret he gets to be my helper and he has to keep my secret until Abe is old enough to be invited to a mature secret closet meeting like us. I told him about how much fun I have had bringing him presents and explained that there is nothing to any of it beyond parent's pretending. I also let him know that he will still make money on his teeth and Christmas and Easter will proceed as they always have, he is just on the inside of the secret now.

The strategy worked. He likes being given responsibilities that he sees as grown up and I sensed a bit of relief as he thought about it and it all made sense. "I might still want to pretend to believe in that stuff just for fun even though I know the truth about it. Is that okay?"

"Absolutely. I still do that myself. Don't ruin the secret for anyone else."

So the whole thing was far easier than I expected and Jack took the news like a champ. I am a little relieved to drop the charade and he was pretty excited to know that his teeth were still available for inspection and would be kept safe in my jewelry box. The Halloween Candy is long gone but feel free to visit the cavity free teeth any time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jackass: a perfect mascot

I realize that it would only take a goole search to inform me on the history of this particular political symbol but it doesn't really matter because honestly, I can't think of a better animal to represent the left. A Jackass. Classic. Loud and long winded with nothing but braying and carrying on with no point but to satisfy them self and other donkeys while making all of the other animals listen. Known for being obnoxiously stubborn and willful. Does not provide food for itself or anyone else. It kicks.

I am so ready for this Republican primary to be over with. Its time for every one to rally and stop acting like liberals and spending our time kicking each other in the teeth. (and writing Obama's damn ads for him) Heres a newsflash, Mitt is our guy. Yes, I recognize that there are candidates that are more conservative in their voting record but lets not lose sight of why we hold the primary in the first place: To pick the guy will the best odds of winning the long term prize which is to beat Obama. Mitt has always been that guy. He is consistent, has the money to stay in the game forever, and once we get our act together, conservative principles will rule the day.

Jonn and I disagree. We went around and around and couldn't convince each other and finally accepted that we will cancel one another's primary vote. He likes Santorum. Of course he also liked Bachman, Perry, Cain and Gingrich back when they all had their flash in the pan. We always discuss the debates and the issues and what specifically we like or don't like about the candidates but there's always an unspoken undercurrent of judgement and eye rolling just under the surface. He wont come right out and say it (because he knows he is no match for me in an argument like this) but he thinks I like Romney because he is Mormon and that because of that fact I am willing to overlook things I wouldn't overlook in a non-Mormon contender. He, on the other hand, is a convert to the church raised by slightly anti-Mormon parents in Mesa and I can tell that he is just not comfortable throwing his support behind the Mormon guy because he doesn't want anyone to think about him, what he thinks about me. I don't care what anyone thinks about my vote. This is not the same as black people turning out to vote for the black guy without listening to a word of debate or even bothering to ask if he had even one qualification before doing so. Yes, most of the Mormons I know are voting for him, but I don't know any Mormons supporting him who don't fundamentally understand the issues and given the whole thing a lot of thought.

Heres the other thing: I AM SUPPORTING HIM BECAUSE HE IS MORMON. I wouldn't vote for Huntsman if you paid me but I will not claim to be above the influence of basic human nature and be drawn to people who are like me. Its what we do, we go around all day long calculating how much people are like us and then we like them accordingly. Its how species survive. So with that said let me explain why I am sold…

1# Do I like the idea of the president of the free world holding the Melchezidek Priesthood of God? Yes. Does it comfort me to picture our leader kneeling in the temple before declaring war somewhere? Hells. Yes. Do I like the fact that he is squeaky clean with a fabulous family and wife? Absolutely. Do I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the earth? Do I tingle to think of the doors that would open for the preaching of the Gospel of Christ across the globe with that kind of publicity? Check. It will sound in every ear and in every nation.

I served a full time mission in the Brussels, Belgium Mission which at the time covered Northern France, North Eastern France, Luxembourg, and the French speaking half of Belgium. Pretty much every where I served is in the Geneva Mission now and I served in the International Ward in Brussels which is now in the Netherlands Mission. We all had Belge visas and lived in France as "tourists" which I thought was funny becasue I had never realized how much the church is willing to bend the rules to get their missionaries in. It was a good back door approach and when we crossed borders we knew to tell them we were visiting and use the mission home as an address of residence. (I have since heard of missionaries that had to literally dress up in disguise as tourists to get passports stamped and when it starts to get fishy looking at the end when the passport is full they are instructed to "fast and pray before attempting a border crossing".

So the number of missionaries was plummeting in Belgium and a whole bunch of missionaries that had already ben called were stuck in MTCs or sent to random stateside locations to await visas. The Belge government was undergoing a religion crisis and froze the missionary visas while they decided what to do about it. They had always let pretty much anyone put missionaries in Belgium but had a recent outbreak of strange sects and cults taking root. The church was on the cult list and we were pretty much screwed. My mission president was going crazy filling out paperwork and pleading with them to see reason and pointing out how much cash flows in from each missionary. We learn the language and culture. There is no missionary crime. We take no resources, we rent apartments and pay bills on time and spend a massive amount of energy (a minimum of 15 hours per month) doing service in the community outside of our proselyting. We teach free English classes in every town. All of the relevant arguments had been made and every other misunderstood or group of religious freaks had clogged up the system with their pleas. It was insane. My mission president was at the very tail end of his three years and knew that if he couldn't solve this that the church would literally die in Belgium. He always said "Pray and have an increase of faith" as an answer to every problem and he asked us to do just that. The whole case was about to be closed one way or another and a new incoming mission president without all of the contacts and history and work invested would be useless. So finally the day came when the Office of the Minister of the Interior was going to take a final vote to seperate the good and bad apples. Pres. Hart was there pleading to be heard. They didn't allow him. The Church vote came up and all of a sudden one of the Belge members of the MI board, asked to say something about the church before the final vote. He then told the story of twenty years ago when he had gone through a phase of being interested in learning about religions. He had met with a pair of Elders back then and listened to the entire message. He then said, "Religion is not for me personally, but I can tell you that what these missionaries teach is true and if we disallow them to live and work here, we are doing our country a great disservice." They voted, the church was voted in, the fight was over. The visas unfroze and it would never be an issue again. It was a miracle, plain and simple. It gave me great comfort to think about those two missionaries who probably wore their knees out praying that this guy would humbly consider their message. They probably taught him and then got ditched with no explanation and they were probably sad. Its not an unfamiliar story in missions like this. What they didn't know and what they may never know until the next life is that the effort they put into it twenty years ago SAVED THE CHURCH twenty years later. Their actions would eventually result in thousands and thousands of convert baptisms. its incalculable really. It made me feel a lot better about the rejections I had experienced and I received a witness that my effort was accepted by the Lord and that I would never know or need to know the fruit of my labor, but it had been worth it.

My point is also this: If the church is facing struggles like this in first world developed nations where they have been established for a hundred years, I guarantee that they constantly deal with roadblocks caused by ignorance or bigotry or misunderstanding. I have a feeling that having a card carrying Mormon president would bring these roadblocks down in an instant. You can not buy that kind of mainstream exposure and I don't think it is a coincidence that the church is launching the largest global most aggressive marketing campaign in history. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. Lets get the show on the road, right? I am biased. Shouldn't we all be?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Unpopular Question

If you have never browsed the website you need to go there now and check it out. I know it is not politically correct to exploit the Asian's English faux pas but its pretty irresistible. My mom lived in Japan when she was in high school and my sister Stephanie served her mission in Osaka and when I was a kid for some reason we had an endless stream of Japanese foreign exchange students live with us. They always came with literally a suitcase full of gifts and oragami paper for me and literally more than half of them were named Yoko. We always got very attached and I always cried at the airport when we sent them home and promised to keep in touch but I have to admit that it harder to keep track of a Japanese girl named Yoko for more than a little while. At the time the Japanese Yen was insanely strong so they were always crazy rich and our entire country was pretty much like Tijuana to them. They thought everything was so cheap and spent freely. I was always struck by how freaking smart they were. They were teenagers fluent in a second language and we could quiz them and quiz them and could never stump them. And we inevitably asked them to attempt to pronounce the word "purple". Over and over. "Say purple." "pulper" It was funny every time. There was always a big party at the end of the group's stay and somehow they would all produce a fresh suitcase of gifts for the occasion. I can still fold up a crane in sixty seconds and if pressed can produce a goose and a pig as well. Every few years or so I put my oragami skills to good use entertaining my kids in sacrament meeting with a torn up program.

For my birthday we went to Benihana and spent a fortune on unauthentic Japanese cuisine. I got the idea to go there in a book I read where a mom took her kids to Benihana and one of them vomited all over the hot grill/table. I should have taken that as an omen but instead I figured that the odds of my kid actually puking there after I read that story were practically non-existent. I should know by now that reading the essay actuallly increased my odds of seeing puke sizzle a hundred times. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked over at Jack and saw him turn a light shade of green. There is no faster mathematician than a mom calculating the distance between running for the door and running for the bathroom. I chose the front door because I wanted to avoid the anger I would feel if I got to the bathroom dragging a leaky kid behind me and got any resistance to enter the Ladies' room vs. the Men's room. This wasn't my first time trying to outrun a gag reflex.

My original point about Benihana was to tell this story: Before the chef came to the table I pointed out that these restaurants try their best to staff the place with authentic Japanese people but in Arizona they are guaranteed to slip in a Mexican or two into the lineup. I was crossing my fingers for an authentic Japanese dude and once again I put it out to the universe and tempted fate. We not only got the only non-Japanese chef in the place, we got a white boy missing all of his teeth but one in front. His teeth are probably wherever his missing personality is.

The waitress was as Japanese as humanly possible and my mom announced to the table that she knew the woman was from Japan and had always had a special talent for spotting Japanese people. This was hilarious to me for some reason. I didn't think it took a special inborn talent. Look for the dark hair and squinty eyes. It turns out that I have The Gift for spotting Japanese people so developed that I didn't even know anyone didn't have it. My mom claims that other people struggle to tell the difference between Chinese or Korean or Japanese.

I would also like to point out that this week I heard Jack utter the phrase "Me Chinese. Me play joke. Me go pee-pee in your Coke." How in the world has that survived all of these years? I was floored. Who is the genius who wrote that line originally and why are they not getting a nickel every time a white kid pulls his eyes back and steals his intellectual property?

So when we got to talking about what makes a Japanese person different from their Asian counterparts I was reminded of a question that has plagued me and that I have asked a hundred people and never received a satisfactory response to: What do Asians put on their driver's licenses as a physical description? Hair: Black. Eyes: Brown I understand that they all look different from one another, I just don't know how to quantify it for the DMV. Do they even bother with a physical description? Millions and millions of people living on top of one another with the exact same physical description. The EXACT SAME. Then it occurred to me that this has got to be a problem on the majority of the planet. Africa, Asia, India, South America (kinda) Those of us living on a continent where you regularly run into blondes or red heads or blue-eyed freaks are seriously outnumbered. Seriously. When I ask this question people always laugh nervously like I am being openly racist but I swear I am not. I just want to know. Do they have some set of descriptive traits that we don't use? If you were underage and wanting to get into bars couldn't you just borrow anyone's license? See, now you're uncomfortable.

One on my mission in France a woman asked me if I was "a bit Japanese?" I thought for sure I was mis-translating the question. I was fluent in French at the time but I made her look it up in the dictionary anyway to confirm that I really did know the meaning of the word "Japanais". I am literally the palest person I have ever seen and I have large light green eyes. I am 5'10". She thought I might be a Geisha. Turns out I have the palest skin other people have ever seen too. I wouldn't do well in a Kimono and I am bad with a set of chopsticks but if you ever have a minute I can make you a fabulous crane.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys