Saturday, March 02, 2019

Because you can have an opinion and not be a jerk about it!

Someone I know and like posted this on Facebook last week:


We spend our hard earned money to hear
your music. And to watch you pretend to
be characters in movies and on TV.

Your only job is to entertain us. To take
us away from reality.

Your personal opinion means nothing to us.

You are significant and influential only in
your own mind. And within the minds of
your elitist peers.

You are a marionette to us. Nothing more.


Wow. Just, wow!

I mean, what an incredibly harsh thing to direct at another person. You wouldn't say that to anybody's face, would you? Or to any other person you ran into in your every day life?

If the checkout girl at the grocery store said something to you about enjoying the weather when you thought it was too hot, you wouldn't snarl at them and say "Just scan my groceries and take my money. You and your opinions don't matter to anyone. You're just a minimum wage earning machine."

I hate that the remove of a screen seems to make it ok to treat people horribly.

I also find that comment hypocritical. So a wealthy and famous person isn't "supposed to" use the platform that they have gained by a combination of talent, luck, and hard work to share their opinions, but you are allowed to use the platform you have gained by signing up for a Facebook account and acquiring some "friends" to share yours? See the irony there? It's practically screaming at me!

What I wanted to do was tell this person (in a kind and gentle way) that she was being mean and horrible. That her meme was really at odds with some other ones she posted right after that. Like this one:

"I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another"
--Jeffrey R. Holland

You can't have it both ways, mate. You can't speak horribly about people in one breath, and then go full-force Christian in the next. If God cherishes all people alike, you were just a major jerk to a beloved child of God. I don't think He will be really happy about that.

I see so many "good Christians" acting like this. I see members of my own church claiming to love God and then openly mocking His children. Why? Because they don't believe the same things? Because they have different opinions on social policy? Because they said something you don't agree with? That's utter madness! Opinions are like a$*holes. Everyone's got one, and most of them stink!

I've tried to be more kind to people with differing opinions to mine in the last two weeks. Writing my last post made me think, and I know that I am guilty of making fun of people who don't think like I do. And so, when I read that first post and I looked at the memes surrounding it (a LOT of negativity, anger and hate from this person, guys!) I decided to think more deeply about this lovely person and wonder why that emotion was there. Instead of angrily posting a reply, I realised that she must be unhappy right now. And so I directed some positive energy her way and tried not to dwell on the hypocrisy and vitriol.

Always be kind.

Love one another.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Don't feed the trolls.

Wise words to live by!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Because if I bite my tongue one more time, it might fall off...

There was a political/moral issue making the social media rounds a few weeks back, and I felt passionate about it. I kept quiet on the matter until someone I know to be fair minded asked on Facebook for different opinions. So I shared mine. I did it in an intelligent and intense way, and felt really good about the comment. Then I had a mini-panic attack while I sat back and waited for the hate to roll in.

That's a problem.

I am an opinionated person. If something important is going on, I like to educate myself using multiple sources or, whenever possible, the direct source. Then I think about the matter and form my own opinion. I draw on my own life experiences, try to see things from others' perspectives, and be thoughtful and empathetic. You know, like a grown up. But lately, I have kept quiet about those opinions. Well, with everybody except Martin. Poor guy, he has to hear ALL of my opinions.

So why am I no longer talking about the way I feel? I never used to stress out about how my opinions would be received. I relished a good debate! Now I practically have a melt down when I express an unpopular opinion on social media. What's changed?

I'd like to think that it's the rest of the world. To a certain extent, it is. People these days think that their political parties define them, and we have generally become intolerant of differing opinions. And the remove of a computer or phone screen makes us more likely to attack others viciously. Something I've really been thinking in the last few days is that we are more than our political affiliation. So much more! To reduce the people in our lives to nothing more than an "R" or a "D," or any other label, is really doing them a disservice.

I'd like to think it's that.

But really, truth be told, I have become a coward.

I tried so hard to be non-objectionable while we were living with my parents. Obviously I failed, since my dad told me I was argumentative and impossible to live with, but I did my best. And since then, I have continued to bite my tongue in most public places and on most public forums. In some cases, it has been an attempt to keep the peace. But most of the time, it has been out of fear of causing "drama" or making people angry.

Guess what? I am a politically unaffiliated though unashamedly liberal woman. I have been ever since I first started taking an interest in world affairs and started forming my own opinions. I live in a very conservative area, and have a very conservative extended family. I disagree with so many of the things they are passionate about. And I need an outlet. Because if I bite my tongue one more time, it might fall off!

So the nature of my blog is changing. If I can't be more courageous in my online persona and face to face interactions, then I can at least be brave in my writing. Expressing my opinion on Facebook felt good, even with the panic attack. I need to talk about the things that matter to me. So be prepared!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It's been a while...

I've been meaning to write for absolutely ages. I mean that, too. As each milestone has been passed, I think to myself, "self, you need to write about this." And then I don`t, the milestone passes, and I feel like it`s too late.

So here`s the run-down:

We moved in to our own house on September 5th last year. It was hard, but we managed. The actual move was not too hard, as we didn't have much stuff and it was only in one place in mom and dad`s house. Living in a building site was hard. Our bedroom was floorless when we moved in, so we were sleeping in the living room. But we're comfortable now. In fact, we only have 1.5 rooms that need work. All of the rooms need little things doing to them, but its pretty much cosmetic. Martin built an amazing porch this year, and next year we are going to do our dining room and bedroom extensions. Or maybe just the dining room. Not sure yet. The current project is the "raccoon room."

Christmas was an adventure. Money was really tight, and Martin's dad came for a visit as well. The kids had a good Christmas, but Martin and I had to wait until after December to buy presents for each other. Laurence was good company, and we were thrilled to see him.

We got our own mortgage in January. It was amazing to be able to pay off the loan from my parents. We are independent again, and it feels amazing! We couldn't have bought the house without them, but I hated being beholden to them. It felt like they were constantly checking up on us and making sure their investment was going well. So January mortgage was amazing!

The kids are fully settled in to school here. They are also enjoying community sports and church. Edith does dancing, and she is on the competition team this year. Dylan is doing twice weekly crossfit classes to keep himself/get game fit for soccer. He's getting really good, and he wants to play at the high school when he's old enough. They continue to be a constant source of irritation and joy!

We hit our one year anniversary in March, and it was crazy! Then it was back for a visit to England in May, which was even crazier! It feels like we've been here forever. The visit was rushed, but incredible.

September saw the one year anniversary of us moving in to our own place. That also seems crazy. And the year saw a lot of changes, like a real bedroom for me and Martin, the remodel on the front room to get rid of the 60's wall panelling and avocado green carpet. We've reclaimed more of the garden, as well.

The best part of life right now is how it's settled back into a pattern of normalcy. Things were absolute chaos for a while, and it was a real struggle. Obviously, nothing's perfect. My relationship with my dad still isn't great, and I don't like to go to their house unless I have been explicitly invited. And we miss our friends and family in England a lot. But we fit in here now, and that's a real comfort.

I have to do this more often.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A family emergency of sorts...

Last Thursday, my Grandpa Cook took a tumble. It doesn't seem like such a big deal until you realize that he is nearly 90. And the way he fell was bad. He cut his arm open, and bashed his head against the kitchen counter. My dad and Jace got him up and bandaged his arm. Then he started complaining about pain in his neck. One trip to the emergency room later and the doctor discovered he had broken the top vertebrae of his spine. They thought he would be able to have surgery to fix the break, but it turns out that surgery won't work. His bones are too brittle. So he is in the hospital in Nephi, and going to have to learn to maneuver around with a neck brace. He's in a lot of pain, but he is doing ok. My parents are exhausted, as they have been running back and forth between Nephi and Salt Lake City since Thursday. Jace has been a trooper as well, spending nights with Grandpa in the hospital.

It's been a hard weekend for everyone, but there is a silver lining. I was able to spend some time with grandpa in the emergency room, while he waited to be transported to a hospital in SLC. And I will be able to visit him some more while he is in the hospital here in town.

As I sat next to grandpa and held his hand, I felt so grateful. For years, I have missed every major family event. The weddings were difficult to miss, but the funeral was the worst. Being so far away when my Nana was dying has always filled me with the deepest regret. Krystle skyped me for the funeral, but it wasn't the same. So being able to hold my grandpa's hand was like a gift. And I remembered why I wanted to move back here in the first place.

I also got to spend some quality time with my dad. I don't know how or why, but things seem better between us now. And that feels like a gift as well.

In other news, my super diligent mom found us some free mattresses on KSL classifieds. We are so close to being able to move in. Martin is leveling the floor in the kids' room as I type, and our bed is set up in the front room. Bathroom tile is arriving on Friday, and once the tile is laid, we will have a working bathroom. A working kitchen and bathroom, plus beds for us all. Those were my only stipulations for moving in. We are nearly there.

I'm pretty excited to be in our own home again. But I'm also nervous about moving into a building site. We'll see how it goes I guess. I mean, we have been practically living here for a while now. We do most of our cooking here, and spend most of our waking hours here as well. But it's another change. I don't really do change very well. And my parents' house is super nice. Ours, less so. Not right now, anyway. But we will get there, and it will be great to be the queen bee of my home again!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A long overdue update...

So much has happened in the past three months. We made it through a difficult transition period from England to the U.S. There was paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. There was getting the kids settled in to the new school. There were bureaucratic hoops to jump through. There was the dismay at discovering that our U.S. credit had reset to zero due to inactivity, and our British credit was useless. There was the discovery of a lonely little house that needed someone crazy enough to come along and love it enough to buy it and fix it instead of tearing it down. There was the loan from my parents to make that purchase possible, and the frustrations that entailed. There is the ongoing process of renovation, and the fact that my children and I are sleeping on the floor of our unfinished home tonight because of my inability to get along with my father.

This is not going to be a rant about my Cook dad. It never was. It is going to be me, finally being honest about my very complicated feelings.

My dad doesn't like me. Don't get me wrong here...he loves me like his own flesh and blood. But he hasn't LIKED me for a long time now. I know it's true, and I've felt it deeply since I was about 15. I don't know why he doesn't. Maybe it's because I am too much of a "bleeding heart liberal" for his conservative Republican ways. Maybe it's because I place very little value in the things he chooses to do for fun. Maybe it's because I am too outspoken in my opinions. Maybe it's because I am fundamentally unlovable. It could be anything. I am at a total loss here.

I wasn't an easy teenager to deal with. Something I will freely admit. If I hadn't grown up in an extremely religious household, I probably wouldn't have been such a "problem child". But religion was a big part or our lives (I wouldn't have it any other way) so even though I was a straight A student who was involved in theater, speech and debate, choir, drill team, and newspaper staff, my constant questioning of authority and my boyfriend made me...not good enough? My relationship with my dad, strained before, took a nose dive at age 17. I moved out of my parents' house five days after I graduated from high school, and aside from a brief two month period between years at college, have not been back.

One of the difficulties of moving back to the good ol' U.S. of A. has been leaving family and friends who knew and loved me and coming back to virtual strangers who felt obligated to love me, but don't know me. My dad is at the top of that list.

Since coming here (and staying in his home rent-free, because he is a very good man with a strong sense of familial obligation) we have fallen into our old, tired roles of disapproving father and rebellious teen. Ridiculous, as I am attending my 20th high school reunion later this month. I have felt myself slipping back into daughter mode instead of staying in mother mode. I hate it, and I am trying so hard not to do it. But I fail. Often.

I beat myself up over it constantly. I've tried so hard to be as unobtrusive as possible in his home, since he made it very clear that we were welcome to stay, but he didn't want it to look like we lived there. I've shouted at my kids and my husband because I didn't want my father to be inconvenienced and annoyed. I've offered to help. I've done what I can to be a help instead of a burden. But it's never good enough. I've been a bad wife and mother, in the hope of being a better daughter.

Full disclosure-I have lost my temper as well. Over something that I felt I was right about, and on behalf of my own children, but I still shouldn't have snapped the way I did.

Conversations have been difficult with him, because so many of the things I care about passionately are things he disagrees with me about. So we don't talk about things that matter, because I don't want to rock the boat. I thought I was doing ok at it, but apparently I'm not.

Tonight he went to Lamb Days in Fountain Green. He took a couple of my brothers-in-law and they got mutton dinners. The kids and I came back to their house after being out all day, and Dylan asked how the mutton was. My dad said it was ok. Then he said something about Fountain Green having the best lamb in the world. And I said, "Oh, I don't know..." and then the gloves came off. He yelled at me. A lot. He accused me of always contradicting him, no matter what he said. He said something about the 150 year lambing traditions of Fountain Green. He asked me why I am so argumentative. And I backed down, told him I guessed he was right. That all I had been going to say was that North Lincolnshire might give Fountain Green a run for their money. I apologized. And then I didn't want to be there any more. I didn't want to get bawled out over the stupid Lamb Days celebration. I didn't want to spend one more second under the roof of a man who feels that way about me.

I wish I was angry about this ridiculous fight. Anger would be more in my nature. Instead, I am so upset. I've tried so hard to be the kind of person he could be proud of. And in so many ways, I feel I have succeeded. But my success was 6,000 miles away. He never saw that success. He doesn't known that me. All he sees is that punk ass kid who punched him and screamed at him in a ShopKo parking lot over 20 years ago.

At least, I hope that's what it is. Because if it's not, if he sees the adult me and still treats me with such disdain, then maybe it really is me. Maybe I really haven't done anything in my whole life to make him proud. So that even if he doesn't like me, he can at least have a little bit of begrudging respect for me. Maybe I haven't actually earned that at all?

I guess I wouldn't care so much what he thought of me if I didn't love the man, but I do. He's a good man, and there is so much that I admire about him. I WANT him to like me. I want him to be proud of me. I don't want him to speak to me like I'm a horrible person-especially not right in front of my children.

I was virtually abandoned by my Bowcutt dad as a baby, and that relationship has only existed through my own efforts. Right now, I feel like I am driving another father away. It sounds so disgustingly melodramatic, even to me, but I'm starting to wonder why my dads don't want me around. Because if it's just the one, it might be him. But when it's two, well, you have to look for the common denominator.

So there you have it. That is why I am sitting in an unfinished house at midnight, my children asleep on the living room floor, crying my eyes out while my husband sleeps at my parents' house. Because my dad actually likes him. And because his back isn't up to sleeping on the floor, and my poor husband shouldn't have to suffer because I can't get along with my father.

I really need to buy a mattress.

These eagles have landed!

We did it! After an extremely busy month of frantic preparations and a final three days of pure madness, then two days of hard traveling, we have arrived back in the good old' U.S. of A. It's very different this time around.

When we moved to England, we said tearful goodbyes to my family. There were not many super close friends that we cried over, though we had a select few that we were sad to leave behind, and we stayed in touch with them. It felt like I was leaving home, but not like I was leaving my whole life.

This time, that's exactly what it feels like. It isn't't just family we left behind. It is that close knit fabric of a life delicately woven of school friends, church friends, work friends, extended family, and those close few who are kindred spirits. This time is heartbreaking.

I never thought I would feel this way about leaving England. So much of my time right after the kids were born was spent hating it there, and I have longed for my family every time we missed a major event. But the bottom line is that I learned to love it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Just salute and call me Arnold...

Super obscure Red Dwarf reference there. I promise, if you get the reference it is hysterically funny. Though I did cry the first time Martin said it to me...

But basically, I now have an "H" shaped scar on my forehead.

I saw a dermatologist for a mole next to my nose right before Christmas. That one was fine, though the doctor referred me to have it removed. Then, on my way out the door, he asked me if I had any questions. So I asked him to take a quick look at what I thought was an age spot (because my papa D has loads of them). He looked at it, then grabbed a magnifying device for a closer look. Then put some lubrication on my skin for an even closer look. Then he measured it. And said, "Hmmmmm..." Then he referred me to the maxillo-facial surgery department at Scunthorpe hospital. Six weeks later (which, incidentally, is lightening quick for the NHS!) I was having the "lesion" removed for biopsy. They removed the entire lesion as well as a small margin all the way around it, which was approximately the size of my fingernail. And because the area was so large they had to do some creative cutting on my face to cover it. A graft wasn't necessary, but they had to release my skin from my fascia and create "advancement flaps" to stretch over the wound.

This is immediately after the procedure.

Obviously I was numb for the procedure. There were a lot of dissolvable stitches underneath the skin, and twelve of them to close the outside flaps. The nerves were cut, and could take up to 18 months to regenerate, so the stitched area doesn't hurt too much. But holy Hannah, my eye puffed out like a proud father's chest, and I had some deep bruising that came out yellow about 3 days after the procedure. Seriously, my eye was nearly swollen shut!

I basically hid in the house for a week because I felt like a hideous beast, leaving only when I HAD to. But then the stitches came out, and it looked a bit better. But my right eye and cheek were still swollen. It felt like a really bad allergic reaction, but without the itching.

After the stitches were removed, I accidentally rubbed the wound lightly with a washcloth. It opened up on the bottom again. Only a little bit, but it bled for about half an hour. I just read a book while I applied pressure until it stopped. That is still some delicate skin! But it occurred to me what a miracle the human body is. A week ago, my skin was in a different place. A doctor loosened it and moved it, then stitched it somewhere else. And my body changed. Just like that! In another week, I will be able to start massaging the area so the scar tissue doesn't become too bulky, and a year from now you probably won't even be able to tell I had it done. The surgeon moved stuff around, but my body is going to accept that movement and heal itself in the new place. Amazing!

And now, three weeks later, it looks, well, almost normal? The healing process is coming along nicely, and I don't cringe when I look in the mirror any more. At least, not over the facial scar :D

Oh, and that mole next to my nose? Still there!

Friday, March 03, 2017

So our moving sale happened...

I've decided what it is about a trans-Atlantic move that stresses me out so much. And it's not the moving bit!

When you move house, you take your belongings with you. Yes, you have to pack everything up and get it from point A to point B, and that is a major nuisance. But you get to the new house, and you settle in and make it your own. You hang pictures, figure out where to put the telly, plug in the refrigerator, cook your first meal there to get rid of the previous occupants' food smells, etc. And you are surrounded by familiar things. Things that are still yours, just in a new place. Not so with this move, or the one we did over 11 years ago.

What we are trying to do, essentially, is erase our existence on this island. We are shipping some things over, yes. But we almost have to make it like we never existed over here. Our belongings aren't moving to a new place with us. They are being scattered all over the place, either with friends or through charity shops. Our house will have to be cleaned out and stripped of our presence. Even our car, that ridiculous soccer mom Renault that I hated for the first month I drove it, will either be scrapped or sold to another family. It will be like we were never here.

This move would be so much easier if I could just pack a few suitcases and boxes, and then go. It would feel like an adventure then, instead of the slow and systematic dismantling of an entire life. Four of them, actually.

A funny thing happened on Saturday, as we tried to sell off our earthly possessions. I lost it over an antique white enamel bowl. Such a simple thing, but I loved it. Irrationally! Martin and I picked it up on an antiquing day, not long after the children both started going to school full time. We went to some random town near Harrogate that is famous for its' antique shops, and rummaged around this converted factory. It was such a lovely day, and this old bowl was the icing on the cake for me. It is HUGE! And really old, with chips in the enamel that have rusted. The age and the rust made it all the more beautiful to me. And when our friend Naomi asked if I was selling it, I almost cried. Over a rusty old bowl. Plenty of other things that I love have been sold and taken away, but that bowl nearly undid me. I don't care about the clothes and shoes that I'm giving away, or the furniture we are selling. I don't even miss the microwave and toaster, both of which have already gone! But the memories tied to that bowl are so lovely, and I wanted to clutch it to my chest and hold on to it forever. So silly! I'm normally not that sentimental. Or emotional.

It's been tough to start saying goodbye to friends as well. We've met so many wonderful people, who have enriched our lives in countless ways. Luckily, I have my family to look forward to. They are the best sort of friends--the ones who stick with you no matter what. And I know we will meet new people, and rekindle old friendships as well. I am excited about the prospect. And so happy to be able to participate in the family events that we have missed out on for the past decade! There's the sealing of the little Bassetts, the birth of my newest niece or nephew, their blessing, Edith's baptism and confirmation, where her many uncles and her grandpa will be able to participate in the ordinance, the family reunions, and so much more. It makes me unbelievably sad that I have missed two weddings, a funeral, and more baby blessings, birthdays, and baptisms than I can count.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that things are pretty bittersweet right now. So many different feelings, each one contradicting the next. The only thing I know for certain is that our little family will be together, and that's what matters the most. Home is where the heart is, and my heart resides in Martin, Dylan, and Edith.

Still, a large part of me doesn't want to leave my home here.