Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Money." --Pink Floyd

I can hardly grasp the fact that my first summer as a Playmill Player is nearly over. Only a little more than a week! The season is slowing down, we're going down to one show a night again every now and then, and we're trying to play as much as we can before we have to leave beautiful Montana.
My first summer as a Playmill player, and at the end of it, I've got so much more to carry around with me throughout life, none of which is monetary.
Tonight we only had one show of "Plaid," so afterwards a group of us went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, just because we could. Former Playmill player and friend of many a cast member Jon-Peter Lewis also joined us, and I'm pleased to say he's not nearly as insufferable as I remember him being shortly after the whole American Idol craze. (See I even provided a link to his site...) We had a nice little chat about Paul McCartney and shared a dinner roll. Although I think we could probably be friends, I can't get past the difference in our pocketbooks.
Somehow, regardless of how nice they are, I can't help but feel slightly uncomfortable about people who are obviously very wealthy. I suppose it really doesn't have anything to do with's all me. As much as Jon-Peter is a nice guy, and as much as his head has shrunk back down to a satisfactory size, I can't help but be acutely aware of the fact that his jeans probably cost him $200 and mine were hand-me-downs. That he ordered both chicken tenders AND a $30 steak, whilst I was trying to decided BETWEEN a baked potato and dessert, because I could only afford one of them. That he doesn't feel like getting rid of his truck which costs $70 to fill up, just because he likes it too much, and I have to cross ice-cream and pantyhose off of my shopping list because I have to make a $50 cell phone bill every month. I can't help but resent Jon-Peter Lewis simply because he makes twice what my father does in a year. Jon-Peter didn't finish his Bachelor's. My father's preparing to work on his PhD.
I'm happy with my life, I really am. It's only when I come in contact with people who are rich am I aware that the world thinks I shouldn't be happy unless I'm rich too.
In a strange way I feel I have the upper hand on people with lots of money. Although in a capitalist society, that's far from true in many ways. I know what it feels like to really work hard for something, at the bottom of the ladder, in the simplest ways. Jon-Peter makes over $150,000 in record sales alone each year, doing things not too different from what I'm doing right now (for substantially less). But I also know what it feels like to wipe the sweat off my brow after mowing the neighbors lawn, knowing I now have enough spending money to buy souveniers on an upcoming choir trip. I know the satisfaction of coming home at night after unloading 3 semi-trucks worth of freight, with a paycheck that I beyond earned.
And yes, I do know the ache of wanting something that is monetarily impossible to get when you want it. A trip to New York City, a new computer, a used car to drive you to and from work. But along with that ache comes a complete knowledge that it is temporary. It's the same ache that drove you to extra chores to get that Safari Barbie or that Lego Pirate Set. It's just that we know ache more logically, and for different things. But I sometimes wonder if we won't look back on these things the same way we do old toys now...remembering with a bittersweet smile HOW BADLY you wanted that something and how it really didn't matter in the end.
I have food on the table, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and monthly bills made on time. As far as I'm concerned, it's enough. Of course, a new car would get me places faster. Of course a new computer would be a lot funner to play with. But they wouldn't give me the same feeling of satisfaction if they came to me easily.
I've nothing against the system of capitalism on which our society is built. It was just an interesting experience for me to compare my life with someone very close to my age, who is in completely different financial circumstances. I hope Jon-Peter never reads this, but if by some fluke he does, I hope he knows that I don't hold his wealth against him, nor do I judge him for how he's come into it.
My life is brilliant and absolutely without frills. I'm poor, but so far, happily so, and the frustrations of poverty only make what little occasional wealth I have all the more miraculous. I haven't a clue sometimes how I've made it thus far, and I'm all the wiser for it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The illusion of separateness


Okay so this is awfully dark and melancholy, but sometimes you need to get that way for poetry to really express the pain and beauty of life. Reading some of Willie's poetry on his blog inspired me. (The fellow's a genius.) So read away, literary enthusiasts. If I told you what it was about, it loses some of its validity as a tool to realize something in your own sphere of experience. I'll just make the disclaimer: It's not suicidal, homicidal, or a plea for help. It's an observation of humanity's capabilities and a commentary inspired by the buddhist philosophy: "The illusion of separateness is the foundation for all human suffering."

Behind the forest and the geysers and the highways
The verbal lynching of the everyman
Now is the time for all good men
Hypocrisy and
The slow stab of a scalpel
the flesh against the blade
Florescent autopsy observation
the masochism tango
The perpetual reopening
and scabbing

Yesterday the blistering began
Shoulders and stomach coming to a slow roast
marinade from the facial faucets
Preheat crematory, sew lips, widen orifices of ears

Librarian olympics
Always the optimist martyr
In the caves of mars or venus
Fixing a hole
Where the prom court disco mirror dancing ball
Dangles from the creaking wire
Wire tense and turning slowly
Weighed down as though by
A blackened human body
Labeling tag swaying gently
from the big toe

Exquisite cadaver atoning
Tongue hanging out in cartoon splendor

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Why should Mike get all the credit!?


A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from a good friend back at BYU-Idaho. Whose name will remain anonymous for the protection of his dignity, and perhaps even life and limb. He called to tell me a was a story of sarcasm, social experimentation, and journalistic pranking. He and another friend wrote a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper, tongue in cheek, just to see if it would be printed and what would happen if it was. The letter they wrote in no way reflects their actual attitudes. Also note that Mike Leman actually is dating a BYU-I girl, who is very low-maintenance. The letter reads thus:

Girls : BYU–I vs. EFY
Every summer hundreds of teenage girls come to Rexburg to attend EFY. As far as fashion goes, these girls are blowing BYU-I girls out of the water. They obviously go out of their way to be well dressed, do their hair, and do whatever it takes to be attractive. Why aren’t BYU-I girls making an equal effort? Most college girls only shave their legs once a week! Showering happens every few days. They throw their hair in a ponytail, instead of taking time to style it. Get with the times, ladies! I’m just saying that it would be nice if the girls put more effort into looking good as guys on campus do. We work hard for you ladies. Try and keep up. If you need a quick fashion lesson, talk to EFY girls.
Michael Leman, a senior from Rexburg

The letter was printed in the Scroll July 25 2006 issue. Completely unforseen by either of them, this is the reaction it got. The following are from the Scroll August 1 issue.

BYU-I girls ‘keep up’
I didn’t know whether or not to take Michael Leman’s letter seriously — “[EFY girls] do whatever it takes to be attractive.” I’m sorry Mr. Leman, but most girls who attend this school are here to better their education — not flirt and score with guys. A lot of BYU-I girls do take time and effort to look nice. I know many girls who spend hours primping each morning before class. As for your advice on “keeping up” with the guys on campus — why don’t you sit in a salon for 3+-plus hours cutting, dying and waxing and then we’ll talk. It’s sad to see that there are shallow guys on campus who criticize girls’ appearance and then compare them to 16-year-olds who are chasing after college guys. But hey, I guess EFY girls’ strategy is working, eh Michael?
Michelle McPhail, a freshman from West Jordan, Utah

Women, be feminine
I completely agree with Michael Leman! There are too many girls who do not take care of their looks. Too many of them have fallen into the belief that being feminine is bad and demeaning to their gender, when really it is the other way. We are women for a reason and we are supposed to be feminine. I am the mother of two, and I make sure every day that I take time to dress decently and put on some make-up. I do this for myself, my husband, and my Heavenly Father. He created me to be a woman and I should look it. Too many girls think that workout clothes are appropriate to wear all day long. Girls, take care of yourselves. Look nice. Dress nice. Do your best to look your best. Margaret Nadauld said in conference: “‘Femininity is part of your inner beauty’ … Our outward appearance is a reflection of what we are on the inside...You can recognize women who are grateful to be a daughter of God by their outward appearance.”
Shauna Taylor, BYU-I Alumna, Oroville, Calif.

Models have attitudes
Two thumbs up to you Mr. Leman, for speaking your mind. I admire that. In writing a letter that’ll probably have more than half the campus nipping at your heels, that took guts. I agree that it’s important for girls to dress nice and be well groomed. It’s part of the Honor Code. But they all have different ways of going about it. As a defense for the lovely ladies on campus, I’d say that they’re doing a great job at looking their best. But what I prize more in an individual is personality. That speaks far more to me than mere appearance. I’m sure that we’ve all known girls/guys who dress like models but have the worst attitude problem west of the Mississippi. What are their looks, then? But we all have our preferences. I can tell that you like girls with lots of fashion. Since I don’t really care about that stuff, you can scratch me off your list and find another girl. Just keep looking for those girls you prefer and the rest of us will keep doing what we’ve been doing, and we’ll smile the whole time.
Lauren Harvey, a junior from Plainfield, Vt.

BYU-I girls are pretty
I am confident that you have already received countless numbers of letters to the editor that have served as rebuttals concerning the latest letter in the Scroll. I just want to put in my two cents’ worth. First of all, this guy that wrote in must realize that the EFY girls are between the ages of 14 and 18. Being that he is a senior and probably of the age 23-25, he should be searching for girls who are more in his range. I feel that it is my duty as a male student at BYU-I to say that the girls on campus are beautiful, and they are that way daily. Many of them work very hard so some stupid boy will look at them. Not to mention they do this for weeks on end. The EFY girls are here for a week. That’s it. They are looking to impress the good-looking guy in the group and working on maybe holding his hand in group study or getting his e-mail address so they can keep in touch. This is not a good comparison. Good try, but I’ll take a beautiful college girl any day over a flirty, over-dressed and over-made-up 16-year-old.
Tyler Harper, a freshman from Lloydminster, Canada

Not only that, but the editorial of the week was devoted completely to this subject! The picture posted above was part of the article.

Poor Mike and Anonymous Friend are certainly getting torn to peices! For the most part I'm getting a kick out of the whole situation. I can't help but just sit back and laugh about it all.
But at the same time, it makes me a little frustrated with humanity...what a stink people put up for the silliest things. I'm beginning to come round to the opinion that a lot more sorrow comes of taking things to seriously, and not letting them go, whether it be an article in a newspaper or a comment that reflects an opinion you don't share.