Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Friends" vs Real Life and Friends

I haven't blogged much lately (well, for the better part of the past year I suppose) because I've lost interest in talking about my private life so publicly, and I write more on my Author Page on Facebook now.
But lately I have felt like writing a few things, so maybe the blog will rise again.
Or not.
This week was very unusual for me as I had kidney stone surgery (sort of). A few weeks ago, right after our family cruise, I thought I had severe back pain. And I probably did have actual, regular back pain (from traveling and riding a horse in Mexico with the worst saddle I've ever seen). The back pain was bad enough that I didn't recognize the symptoms of kidney stones until it was too late. I was in so much pain I decided to go to the E.R., which required either an ambulance or a friend to take me, as I was in no condition to drive. I texted everyone I could think of who wouldn't be at work at that time, and found one wonderful friend to take me. Even as I waited for her to pick me up, I debated calling an ambulance. But ultimately didn't take an ambulance because I was worried I wouldn't be able to get to the door fast enough to let them in.
These are the real problems of being single and living alone. How to keep from dying alone in your own home because there was no one else around to open the door for you. As it was, it took me nearly 30 minutes to slowly move across my bed to reach my phone to call for help.
I've been watching "Friends" a lot on Netflix for the past few weeks. (Being bedridden from kidney stones and then the surgery will do that to you.) Sure it's a sitcom and far from reality. But I think sometimes all these silly TV shows that glamorize single life do a huge disservice to actual singles. Life isn't like it is on "Friends" where everyone is buddies with the cute guys/girls across the hall, and everyone comes and goes and eats each other's food. I don't know my neighbors' names. Believe me, as I was sobbing in pain, praying for a miracle that someone, somehow would know that I was in need of help at that moment, I wracked my memory trying to think of a neighbor's name I could yell out to get help. But the truth is, I could probably recognize one guy who lives on my floor, but I've never asked his name. But of the other 2 apartments, and presumably 5 other adults who live here, I have no idea what they look like, or what their names are. (I don't even really know that 5 people live on this floor.)
And it has always been like this. I never know my neighbors or anything about them. They are just people who could afford the same amount of rent I can, and need to live in the same area. We have nothing else in common. We don't even speak the same language.
On "Friends" they do everything together. They hang out in the coffee shop. They spend holidays together. They go on vacations together. Again, sure, it's a sitcom, and it's all fiction. But the truth is, when I want to go see a movie, and invite friends, it takes a week's notice, and 50 text messages for all of us to agree on something.
I had little to no expectations for my friends to be able to drop everything and come assist me after my surgery this week. I have been grateful for the few friends who have made the time and effort to come over and help me out. (I really was bedridden all of Tuesday and Wednesday. Today I was able to shower on my own, and I think by the end of the day I will be able to walk my dog.) I know my friends love me and would help me if they could. But the truth is that life is nothing like it is on TV. Friends can't make time sacrifices like that to always be there for you. When you are single, your job is to look out for yourself. You don't have the luxury of assuming other people will be able to help you out.
Part of me finds this all a bit ironic and funny. Because I definitely get the impression from non-singles, that they assume that since I have no family to tend to, that when they need help, I should be able to drop everything and be there for them. (And I often do.) But when a single person needs help, it can be far more difficult to find someone to give the help.
I'm grateful for the system my church has in place to provide help and compassionate service when needed. Yesterday a woman from my congregation that I didn't know showed up with dinner for me, and took my dog out for a big walk. (The dog came home one very happy pooch, which is good, because help isn't coming to walk her for a few more hours today.) She didn't know me. She just knew I needed help because of our compassionate service system. Next week she is having surgery, and I've signed up to repay the favor by assisting her. (Although there is no expectation that I should do so. I did it because I want to.)
If it weren't for the compassionate service through the church I don't know how I would get by this week. I know my mother wishes she could be here. And my sister has offered to come help me (but she lives over an hour away without traffic, and has a full-time job, plus goes to college at night, so it's hard for us to work it out).
Single life is not what it ever appears to be like on TV or in movies. Singles aren't a codependent happy bunch of people who do everything together. They are floating, independent ships, looking for a comfortable place to anchor and find reserves and supplies.
As for the rest of my story and situation, I did have surgery on my kidneys on Tuesday. I'm recovering as well as can be expected. I have high hopes that tomorrow I can leave the house (for a job interview). I also have high hopes that I will be able to sleep for more than 3 hours before the painkillers wear off and the pain wakes me back up. Sleep would really make me happy right about now. I do expect to return to regular life by Monday. We haven't completely solved the mystery of my kidneys yet, and that situation is far from over. I expect there will be another surgery next month, but I'm going to push that off for as long as possible. I have no desire to "recover" from another procedure for a good long time. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Religious Liberty and the Right to Free Speech

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Religious liberty and freedom has always been one of the most important Constitutional issues for me. I believe in, defend, and love all of the Bill of Rights. But the rights to free speech, freedom to worship, and freedom to exercise religious liberty (which are all greatly dependent upon each other and intertwined at their cores) are most important to me.

On January 27, 2015, my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held an extraordinary press conference on the subjects of defending and upholding the right to religious liberty and nondiscrimination.

In the attached transcript, you will find this awesome quote from Elder Jeffrey R Holland, "Accommodating the rights of all people—including their religious rights—requires wisdom and judgment, compassion and fairness.

"Politically, it certainly requires dedication to the highest level of statesmanship. Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry.

"These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse."

In the same press conference, Elder Dallin H Oaks said, "It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals. The precious constitutional right of free speech does not exclude any individual or group, and a society is only truly free when it respects freedom of religious exercise, conscience and expression for everyone, including unpopular minorities."

Many people make the mistake of thinking that just because someone disagrees with one's point of view, that they must tear each other down, or block their rights. As you can read in the attached transcript, and see in your own life, the right to religious freedom (and the intertwined right to free speech) is often challenged and blocked by those who disagree with them on matters of sexuality. For instance, if the Mormon Church doesn't condone gay marriage, it must hate all gays, according to LGBT advocates. And as a result, many of those advocates wish to block or harm the right to religious freedom and their associated right to free speech. (For the record, if you read the transcript, the Church makes it blatantly clear that they help support anti-discrimination laws for all people, including LGBT.)

Aren't we all entitled, granted, and ensured the right to free speech, and to freely exercise our established religious beliefs?

Earlier this week I took an "interview test" for a potential job with an organization that will remain nameless, but I greatly admire and respect. They work to defend religious liberties.

Part of the test was to read about an actual religious liberty lawsuit and write a press release and talking points. (DISCLAIMER: I don't know how I did on it. I'm sure there are many qualified people for this position. I know I didn't do my best on it do to passing kidney stones and painkillers at the same time. I have many irons in the fire right now as I job hunt. But this particular job is a unicorn of sorts for me. It's a cause I'm passionate about, and work I enjoy doing. That doesn't happen very often.) Back to my point- the case they had me read was very controversial. (And I'm sure that was by design.) It involved an ancient religion that still practices live animal and blood sacrifices. On one hand, it is hard to defend animal sacrifice. Most people find it distasteful and horrid. And I'm one of them.

But does this established, ancient religion have the right to worship where they believe, and what they believe? Yes. We all have the Constitutional right to religious freedom. I could waste my time here and defend and explain how/why animal sacrifice is not as wretched as it may seem at first. (How is a sanitary sacrifice of a rabbit where all meat is eaten, any better or worse than shooting a rabbit for sport?) But that's not my point.

My point is that if you believe in the rights of free speech and religion, you do not get to pick and choose who gets it. It is universal. It is a right given to everyone, including those you disagree with.

Elder Holland summed it up best, "We must find ways to show respect for others whose beliefs, values and behaviors differ from ours while never being forced to deny or abandon our own beliefs, values and behaviors in the process. Every citizen’s rights are best guarded when each person and group guards for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Big Surprises!

I'm back from a big family vacation. We went on a cruise from LA to Mexico. It was a wonderful time, with lots of new things to do, lots of family time, and new experiences.
But I think we can all agree that the best part of the trip was the biggest surprise of the trip- my brother proposed to his girlfriend! (And she said yes!) They have been dating for at least 3 years, so she already felt like a member of the family, hence the reason we invited her to join us. We even included her in the professional family pictures we had taken (before he popped the question). (We took most of the pictures with her in them, and a few without.)
We had no idea he was going to propose (even though we had all hinted that we hoped he would do it on the cruise). He never let on that he was going to do it. You should have heard the screaming, laughing, and crying when it happened. And it wasn't all just from our family- there was a line of people nearby, and they all clapped and cheered for the couple as well.
It was so fun and unexpected to get to be there for the special moment.
And we are all so glad that our new "fiancee-in-law" was there with us to start building our new family memories with her.
Welcome to the family, Madi!

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