Sunday, November 27, 2016

It's Only Awkward...

separate (v) - to keep apart or divide, as by an intervening barrier or space

Even for those with a front row seat to our lives, it has come as quite a shock that Kirk and I have decided to separate.  To be honest, it even came as a shock to us.  It's not that we were unaware of the problems we need to work on.  Rather, the realization that we each need some space to become stronger individuals came seemingly out of nowhere.

As has always been the pattern in our marriage, the decision was confirmed as things quickly fell into place.  I was able to find a basement apartment only five minutes from home with a separate entrance and a private bathroom.  The landlord allowed me to paint, and I was able to turn my room into a home of sorts -- at least a home base that gives Kirk and me the division we have decided is best for now.

So why the public announcement?  Well, Kirk and I are already confusing our friends and family: attending parties together, sitting together in church, eating dinner together as a family most nights.  As we know it will become increasingly obvious to others that I am not living at home, we decided it was best to deal with the common questions up front.

Q: "If you are separated, why do you spend so much time together?"
A: Well, because we like each other.  Neither of us are angry about the problems we are working on.  What we have essentially done is taken a step back to something like the dating stage where we want to spend the time together that we can, but then go back to our own houses at the conclusion of the date.

Q: "Why did Andrea move out?"
A: This one is a little more complicated.  First, I'm the one who suggested that a separation might punctuate the importance of our need to make some adjustments before moving forward as a couple.  But mostly, we are putting our kids first.  This is the best way to minimize the logistical impact on the kids.  In fact, in the two weeks since our separation, we have been able to successfully maintain the kids' routine with very minor adjustments.

Q: "How are the kids?"
A: While I admit that it is too early to determine long-term effects, they appear stable and confident in the situation as it now stands.  We are encouraging honest communication on all sides and have tried to be as upfront with them as is appropriate.  Their well-being is at the forefront of every decision we make.

Q: "What is your plan?"
A: Our plan is to acknowledge honestly that we, like all couple, have problems.  We are going to start working individually on those issues that require personal attention and together on what we can.  We will seek help and support from friends, family, church leaders, and professionals as needed.  And we will mostly continue to do it quietly and privately as is our style.

Q: "How can I help?"
A: Treat us like a family, because we are one.  Treat us like a couple, because we are one.  Ask us questions if you need to know something.  Let us keep our lives private if you don't.  And remember what our friend Skyler says, "It's only awkward if you make it awkward."

Yes, we've separated.
Yes, it is really hard sometimes.
Yes, we'll reach out if we need it.

And yes, we're okay.

Also... Kirk says I am supposed to say he's awesome.  So...

Kirk's awesome.  :)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cry Uncle

"Thank you for letting me borrow your kids," Jack said.  "Putting together this marble track with them was a lot more fun than it would have been as a twenty-three year old man in his parents' basement."

Maybe the best part was the debriefing Jack led me through after the project was completed.

  • Adam and Alex really enjoyed it; Dylan was bored to tears.
  • Adam frequently pointed out that Jack was wrong.  According to Jack, this was because his ideas were different than Adam's and so Adam deemed them wrong.
  • Alex frequently pointed out that Jack was wrong.  This was because Alex had checked the instructions, and Jack was wrong.  According to Jack, Alex is a Casdorph.

Or maybe it was the two hours of quiet I got to myself to work on Empress marketing projects while they worked in the game room.

Or maybe it was looking through the pictures Elise took of the boys hard at work.







I guess I don't really have to choose an exact favorite moment, but rather just appreciate that the night happened completely without my involvement.



Thanks, Uncle Jack and Aunt Elise!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Rest of my Keys?

"Um, excuse me?" I ventured, not entirely certain where to take my statement next.  "Can I possibly get the rest of my keys?"  I giggled uncomfortably, shrugged, and held out the key fob in the general direction of the Discount Tire employee.  

He looked back at me, panicking.  "You gave us more than just the fob?"

"Yeah, I handed the first guy my whole key ring.  It has a carabiner, a small Eiffel Tower, a USB drive, and a few assorted keys?"

He was already moving toward his nearest associate, seeking out immediate backup.  "Hey, do you know where this lady's keys might be?"  I could immediately see the answer dawn on the poor guy's face, and he had not choice but to admit it.

"I think they got tangled up in the customer's before her.  The Montero."

I laughed, knowing something they didn't know.

"Would that happen to have been the gentleman in the grey slacks and maroon button up?" I asked.  "Because if so, I actually know him.  He lives in the neighborhood across from mine, and it really wouldn't be that big of a deal to get them back from him."

And so it was that I left Discount Tire with a slightly lighter load (although I guess I technically traded it for the burden of the tire's diagnosis) and an odd text message to send.

"Brother Hatch, Discount Tire thinks they may have given my keys to you.  Any chance you received an extra set?"
"Sure did!  Just noticed as you said that."
 No harm, no foul.  Now I have my keys back and a pretty funny story to tell.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Alone

To preface this post, let me clearly state that I do not enjoy being alone.  All those internet memes and posts that explain how extroverts draw their energy from being around others while these same interactions drain an introvert?  Clear evidence of my extroverted nature.  Solitude is not only draining, but honestly frightening for me.  Beyond the fact that I just don't enjoy it, there's also the whole social-perception aspect.  And so I've never so much as attended the movie theater alone.

And yet...

Last weekend, I spent the most amazing 24 hours all. by. myself.  I mean, people were around.  But not people I knew.  I spoke only to strangers (a feat generally so terrifying that I struggle to ask a question at Home Depot) for 24 hours.  To be fair, Kirk had to endure a two hour steady stream of words that flowed out of me like an unstopped dam when I returned home.  But still.  24 hours alone.  And I loved it.

I headed to Bear Lake to check out the Pickleville Playhouse and review a show for UTBA.  I could easily have driven back home after the production, but I decided I would rather just camp out in the back of my car and drive home fresh the next morning.  But then the more I thought about it (and checked out area attractions on my phone), the more I wanted to tack on extras to make the drive even more worth it.  A museum.  A cave.  I had no real obligations on Saturday, so why not?

And so it came to be that I woke naturally to the sunrise over Bear Lake.


That I drove an hour away to explore a cave full of ice simply because I was awake and bored, and the diner didn't open for another hour.


That I spent two delicious hours picking at my pancakes, sipping hot chocolate, and feeling way more important than I really am while I used my phone as a wireless hot spot and submitted my review.


That I traveled back to 1852 and got a one-on-one tour (and a million good teaching ideas) at the Oregon Trail museum.


That I enjoyed a 90-minute hike inside a cave... without having to worry about one of my kids destroying the natural formations.


And that I ended the day wishing that I could intentionally achieve the loose curls that resulted from sleeping in my car and hiking in the rain!


Of course, now all I want to do is take my family back to each of those spots and enjoy it all over again with them. 

And find another adventure to try... alone.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Don't Like You

"Are we having spaghetti for dinner?" Adam asked, the spaghetti noodles sticking out of the pan in his clear visual path.

In unison, Kirk and I responded, "No."

"Then what is for dinner?" he asked.  As we chuckled, he rolled his eyes.  Then he flatly proclaimed, "I don't like you."

Honestly, I don't blame him.  This sort of a response is an every day occurrence, not just from parent to child but in adult to adult interactions as well.

For example:

A few weeks ago, Kirk came up the stairs after kissing the boys goodnight.  "The kids have requested your presence."

He stood in the middle of the kitchen, Michelle and I forming two opposing points on a straight line cutting through his location.  Standing equidistant from his point, we could not see each other.  That didn't prevent us from speaking in precise unison, however, as we responded chorally, "I don't even have any presents."

I guess this is why Adam can accurately define words like "sarcastic," "facetious," and "rhetorical."  And why I sometimes find his insistence that I speak with accurate consideration of the varied connotations of each word every bit as annoying in him as it is in his father.

It's a wonder we manage to get anything done around here.  As I just mentioned that perhaps I will list the organ that is just taking up space in my music room and wonder aloud whether anyone else has organs listed on KSL, Kirk answers back, "I don't know... maybe kidneys?"

Just give it a few years, and I will have cultivated an entire army of soldiers who wield words as swords.  And it will probably be me stuck with no comeback other than, "I don't like you, either."

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Read, Write, or Play

Soon baseball season will be upon me, and this strangely calm moment I have found will be whisked promptly away. But for now, I am not in a show. And Kirk and the older boys have scouts on Tuesdays. And Dylan is just a really quiet human. Which means that each Tuesday, I find myself with an hour. One quiet hour. With which to do whatever I choose.

I have found that since discovering this hour, I usually spend my drive home contemplating just how to spend it. It is kind of like going to Kohls with only $10. There is so much I would love to get, but the budget will only go so far. I have to browse the entire store, trying everything on, making certain I have gotten the most out of my meager amount. Most of the time my options come down to three of my favorite activities. Do I want to spend my hour curled up on the couch with a book in my hand? Or perhaps seated at my laptop, my thoughts pouring effortlessly onto the screen. Maybe I could spend it in the piano room, a book of Broadway tunes held open by the weight of the conveniently nearby primer piano books.

Read, write, or play?

Or give up on choosing and just take a bath instead.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Couch, Same Story

As I write this, Michelle sits on the couch behind me singing "Pomegranates" with Dylan and Ryder, a part of her nightly "songs and prayers" ritual with her kids.  She's sick as a dog with some sort of viral gunk Ryder brought home last week that's now passing through our joint families, so her initial rendition of "Book of Mormon Stories" was hoarse enough to incite Ryder's laughter.  His sweet, "Again, Mom?" was met with Michelle's admittance that she might not have one more in her tonight.  That was, at least, until Dylan requested "Popcorn... no... actually... Pomegranates."

These are the sorts of things you get to hear when the lines between two families are sometimes fuzzy and sometimes completely invisible.

It's been 16 days since Skye texted me and asked if he and Michelle could talk to us.  I'd already heard a couple of rumors and burst immediately into tears.  Even somewhat expected, their announcement that they were moving back to Idaho was nothing short of devastating.  But the extensive and specific list of things that I will miss when they move is a post for another day, because right now I am in the calm eye of the hurricane, a beautiful oasis in which I get to sit down to dinner with my nine-person household and be greeted after a long day at work by Ryder's "Hi, Nana!"  And since the Davises will be living with us until their actual move in a few months (their mean landlords are selling the house out from under them), that's where I am choosing to stay.

Timehop greeted me today with some pretty happy memories from two years ago when we found ourselves similarly as nine people under one roof.  With all the major life changes that have happened between 2014 and 2016, it was crazy to realize how much has stayed the same.  And Dylan and Ryder were more than happy to help me prove it.



Yes, today's picture is taken on a couch I didn't own two years ago in a house that wasn't done yet.  Yes, today's is totally contrived (though they were both already on the couch, watching a dog show with Michelle).  But the genuine smiles on Ryder's face whenever he sees his cousins?  The raw happiness I feel when I see Michelle's car in the driveway and the stress that melts away when I get frequent Scarlett and Ryder hugs?  The gratitude I feel for the knowledge that I know that right now I am in the middle of something special?  All real.


And how lucky I am to know that "goodbye" won't really be a goodbye at all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Tapestry

If I could draw the moment, I think I would start with a boot, draped in pants.  Which probably sounds as ridiculous as I would hope it would look.  Because to capture the moment, my pencil would have to capture ridiculous.

If I could freeze time, I would catch Stephanie mid-story and BreaAnna mid-laugh.  Melina would be primping her bow in the reflection offered by her own shadow.  Alisa's eyebrows would be arched in equal parts amusement and thought.

And I would be happy.

But I am neither the Master of Time and Space nor an artist.  I have only what some lovingly refer to as the words I sometimes vomit onto my computer (thanks, Skye) and the endless analogies that course through my veins.

This time, it is a tapestry.

I am so grateful for the HUGE number of friends that have come to see the front of the tapestry, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Empress.  Seriously.  So grateful.

But while the performing is rewarding, it is not why I do theater.  There is so much more that the audience doesn't see.  If you could spend an evening backstage, you would get to see the tapestry's underside. (And hear a whole lot of funny and occasionally inappropriate conversations, but "that's another story... nevermind...")

Oh, I have done some shows with a backstage tapestry that looked something akin to a 6 year old's first cross-stitch.  But in my favorite shows, backstage runs like clockwork, each thread overlapping in the same pattern night after night, creating a design not meant to be displayed but organized and beautiful in its own way.

If I could draw the moments, I could weave the threads.  I could capture the tapestry and keep it.  And I wish I could. In some way I can't quite explain, I know that my threads in the show have sewn some necessary pieces of my soul back into place.  And I worry that on Saturday when we bow for the final time whether my thread alone will be enough to hold the tenuous happiness in.

Here are just a few of the threads I hope to keep after the lights go down.


  • Alex, whose thread is that special kind that changes colors so smoothly that you've suddenly reached green before you even realized you have left blue: when he waits for me at the bottom of the stairs as I tear around the corner straight from an exit, his hand extended and his face betraying his worry that we will miss our cue.
  • Logan, whose thread I cannot see but instinctively know runs in organized, parallel lines, strengthening the whole tapestry: when he passes me in the dark as he exits and I enter before the lullaby and we each extend a blind hand to wrap a brief arm around the other's middle.
  • The Brides, a colorfully braided strand that cannot be separated without damaging the composition: when we sat in the hallway before receiving our gifts, overlapping our skirts and turning the hallway into one big quilt.
  • Nick, a dark brown that blends effortlessly in and out of the patterns: when he stands in silence then wordlessly offers me his hand just before our entrance.
  • Jordan, an unassuming gray completely unaware of the depth his presence adds to the palette: when he says, "Thank you," every time I help him change his shirt.
  • Roy, a vibrant neon that cannot quite distract from the symmetrical patterns in which it is woven: when he threw his shirt over three brothers in a dark hallway and it landed precisely on my shoulder, when he carefully sets me down and stabilizes my balance until I no longer have a blanket on my head, and when he counts down the moments until Logan turns the corner to climb the ladder.
  • Gaylon and Julie, two shades of tan, used nearly always in tandem: when they smile at me every time I dance or flit or spin through the green room carefully arranging their expressions to hide from me the fact that they think I am a bit crazy.
  • Raymond, a noticeable orange, confident in any configuration: when he creeps to the music of the suitor's final crossing.
  • Evan, whatever the unicorn equivalent is for thread: when the only thing predictable is his unpredictability and his ability to make me smile.
  • Michelle, the edges to which all threads must eventually lead: when she doesn't let anyone else zip her dress and I love knowing she needs me for a minute. 
Sure, many of these people are legitimately a part of my normal life.  So in theory, maybe the tapestry will hold a bit longer.  But I've done this before, and I know how it works.  Saturday night as we turn in the costumes and strike the set, each of us will tug a bit at our strings.  At first the tapestry will stretch, straining to cover its new dimensions.  But it won't hold for long.  Each vibrant strand will walk away, weaving already into the next design, forming already the next picturesque moment.

If I could draw the moment, I think I would start with a boot, draped in pants.  Which probably sounds as ridiculous as I would hope it would look.  Because to capture the moment, my pencil would have to capture ridiculous.  


If I could freeze time, I would catch Stephanie mid-story and BreaAnna mid-laugh.  Melina would be primping her bow in the reflection offered by her own shadow.  Alisa's eyebrows would be arched in equal parts amusement and thought.

And I would be happy.

The front of the tapestry.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Hero in Me

Sometimes I want to climb to the top of the nearest mountain and proclaim the awesomeness of m eldest child at the top of my lungs.  Since today is his birthday, it seems like a good time to do that without embarrassing him too terribly.

First, there's this:

"My Cousin's Hero" - Digital Art Entry in the "Inspirations" Contest
The things I am proud of (specifically):

  • His conceptual representation of the theme "The Hero in Me."  
  • That he understands and embraces his role as role model in the lives of his brothers and cousins.
  • That Red, as Adam consistently refers to him, would happily play right into the photo shoot.
  • That Adam quickly and confidently navigated Photoshop, eating everything up as fast as I could teach it to him to piece together the two original photos and then add filters for maximum effect.
  • That something as cool as this kid literally came out of my body.
  • That my son is ridiculously handsome (and reminds me so much of his dad).
  • That he wrote this as his description for the project, "When my cousin Red cries, he comes straight to me.  I feel like a hero because it makes me feel like he looks up to me."
Then, just for fun, there's these tidbits from recent text conversations with my recently annointed texter:
  • I asked Adam what cake design he wanted for his birthday, and he sent me a picture of Call of Duty Black Ops.  I responded, "That is not a cake!  I would have to have some mad skills..."  He immediately responded, "You do.  :) "
  • After I sent a "Thanks for being so responsible" text, he sent back, "I know I'm awesome."
  • The day I left a note that said, "Text me when you wake up," I received a text at 10:45.  It said, "I woke up at 9:30."
I've always enjoyed having Adam around, treating him as much as a grown up as his behavior allows.  I am looking forward to living with a legit 11 year old and excited to watch him enjoy this next part of his adventure.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sarah



Meet Sarah.  Having recently  made the trek west from Alabama, Sarah is still trying to figure out exactly where she fits into her new Oregon home.  She spends much of her time observing the other girls and trying to figure out the appropriate ways to act.  Although she takes a bit from each of the six girls in her social circle, Sarah can't help but hang on the wise words of Milly.


Although she has her pick of suitors, she's being courted most directly by Zeke, a handsome young man whose manners remind her of the southern hospitality she left behind.  



What Zeke may not realize is that although Sarah loves to be the center of attention at the parties, she's never been kissed, and the thought of being alone with him (or any other man), scares her half to death.  When Milly describes going off with her husband Adam to a sheltered cabin just for two, Sarah makes up her mind to entertain suitors in public only!


But Sarah didn't account for meeting Frank Pontipee, a handsome mountain man whose shirt matches her favorite hair bows and who happens to be as tall as a church steeple, a major selling point for this southern girl who wants to be taken care of and protected on the Oregon frontier.



And then there's Frank's unique ability to sweep her off her feet - literally.



Things get a little complicated for Sarah, however, when she realizes that both Frank and Zeke are willing to fight for her.  Unable to decide between the two, Sarah decides to leave it up to whichever man leaves the social dance as the winner.



When Zeke picks a fight with Adam, the oldest Pontipee, she figures she has made up her mind and will continue to allow Zeke to court her.



Much to Zeke's delight, she even decides to let him give her one little kiss, if he promises to close his eyes first.  Sarah gets her first kiss, alright.  But not from the genteel Zeke.



Just as Sarah is deciding that kissing isn't as scary as she once thought, she realizes she isn't kissing Zeke at all.  Unprepared for this turn of events, she kicks and screams all the way through the mountain pass, contributing to the avalanche that keeps her trapped with Frank and the Pontipees (and five of her closest friends) for the winter.

But Frank has his charms, and it isn't long before he's convinced her to give kissing him another try.



Although she can't shake her obedient nature and her shyness still makes her a bit hesitant, Sarah gives into the entertaining game of being courted by Frank.  She even learns to make a few moves of her own.



A bit drunk on the power she wields over Frank, Sarah eventually gains confidence in herself and in her place in life.  Not only that, but she starts to see more than just fascination in Frank's face.



Sarah starts to realize it isn't really a game anymore, and that she can't imagine being with anyone other than Frank Pontipee for the rest of her life.  But the coming of spring brings with it the knowledge that she will have to get permission from her family and the town before being allowed to marry Frank.



With the help of a little, white lie (Sarah and the other girls each claim responsibility for a baby the townspeople hear after the spring thaw), Sarah is able to stand with her best friends to marry the Pontipee clan.



Sarah even gets Zeke's blessing - in the form of a shotgun wedding.



As Sarah holds Frank's hands, they listen to the preacher speak the words that will bind them.  She looks up into his eyes and sees that he's actually crying.  In this exact moment, Sarah falls completely in love with Frank.  And she knows that she is all in.



I'm proud to get to be a part of this (and six other love stories) in the Empress Theatre's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Purple Ink

I woke up this morning with Willy Wonka lyrics on my mind. "I write my thoughts down in purple ink and think positive."  I have to say that it sounds like a pretty good plan.

You've heard the story of the two wolves? The ones that live inside of us, battling out the good and evil? As the story goes, the determining factor is which wolf you feed.

Then there's the small differentiation surrounding the way Mormons view Christ's death, choosing to focus on the Resurrection more than the Crucifixion.

Throw into this recipe the fact that "lack of control" has left me feeling a bit off balance for the last year.  And you get this:

Today I choose to think positive. I choose to feed the right wolf. But I have a bit of a problem. When I glance inwardly to check the reserves, there is a huge, heaping pile of food for the Big Bad Wolf. And only a small pile of the good. Some days I drown in bad memories of this day, specific and overwhelming and right at the surface. While I do think there is some merit to airing them out now and then, today I want to make a pile of good food so big that I can't even see the other pile.

Can you help me?

I am looking for your positive experiences that happened in the hours or days after Tyler died. The tender mercies. The times you laughed. The times you cried, but in a good way. Please help me relive those today. Through your descriptive inagery, take me there and let me stay awhile.

Write your thoughts down - in metaphorically purple ink - so I can think positive.