Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Go Set A Watchman: My Review

Readers and students never forget their first Mockingbird encounter. Harper Lee's celebrated book has a place on that Great American Novel List for a reason. Everyone comes away from this book wishing Atticus Finch was their father and even if they say they don't, they're lying.

The 1962 film starring Gregory Peck is probably the greatest example of a movie adaptation of a novel Hollywood ever made. If someone never read the book, at least they're familiar with the film. It's on every Top Ten Greatest Movie List out there.

In case anyone's wondering, Go Set A Watchman will never be made into a Hollywood movie. It will never make anyone's Top Ten List. Who would play Atticus? He's about 70 years old in this prequel everyone is calling a sequel. It is no sequel. It's not even a novel but a rough draft of an idea the publishers wisely rejected in 1957. It lacks everything that make Mockingbird great.

I'm still wondering who got their hands on this manuscript and inserted their own modern day ideas and opinions because this book contains none of Harper Lee's style and prose for anyone familiar with the original story. The social consciousness is gone. Childhood's safe cocoon shattered. The heart has been removed, replaced by grim, cynical, 21st century reality that the nuclear family, not to mention the nuclear age, has been forever lost. Cast aside. Replaced by something much better. Post-Christianity.

It is a very disappointing read.

"The novel must tell a story," says Dr. John Finch on page 188 in this most anticipated novel of the year.

Was Harper Lee even paying attention to her own writing?

The setting is irrelevant. There is no plot, no character development, theme or style because this story could happen anywhere. The time period is supposed to be the late 1950's yet all featured characters, including Atticus Finch and his precocious daughter, have been reduced to 21st century stereotypes. Harper Lee has conveniently forgotten the Atomic Age came before The Feminine Mystique and the Equal Rights Movements.

Only two passing references are made to To Kill a Mockingbird. Any reader who picks up this book anticipating another fascinating and exciting "Where are they now?" tale will be very disappointed. Jem is dead. Dill Harris fought in The Good War and is currently living it up in Italy. The glaring absence of Boo Radley, the Robinson family and Mayella Ewell is why this book has no place alongside its counterpart.
Go Set A Watchman is no Great American Novel. Readers will have a hard time walking around in its shoes. It has no shoes.

Told entirely in third person limited, Jean Louise is rarely called "Scout" these days. She's grown up into a career woman. She's here in Maycomb for a visit and spends the entire novel drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, shunning marriage to Henry Clinton, and looking down her nose at everyone who doesn't appreciate equal rights and feminism the way she does.

When she's not daydreaming about her coming of age experiences, (menstruation, how babies are made, her first school dance) Jean Louise Finch is screaming bloody murder at her boyfriend and Atticus for attending a KKK meeting.
The Horror!

That's the entire plot of this novel. I'm serious. Nothing happens.

After talking to everyone: Henry Clinton, Uncle Jack Finch, Aunt Alexandra, and finally her father (to whom she should've run to in the first place but that would be plagiarizing To Kill a Mockingbird) Jean Louise Finch finally comes to terms with the fact that Harper Lee was wrong to make Atticus Finch into a Christ Figure because what kind of a world would this be if men were actually good for something?

Oh, and she's never getting married. This is 1957 after all.

There is some swearing but no f-bombs, sex scenes or violence. It is appropriate for all middle-grade readers and above but it is no literary classic and will never be celebrated in freshman English classes like that Other Book.
Please, let's keep it that way.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meeting Elder Perry

As our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this good man who touched so many lives, I consider myself blessed to have been one of those people who walked away a better person after my own brief encounter with an apostle of the Lord.
I've been keeping a journal since I was thirteen. On May 3, 1997, I was twenty-two years old, living in Cedar City with no car, working part time at Arby's, going to school at Southern Utah University and preparing to put in my mission papers. I was struggling with the decision since I'd much rather be preparing for a temple wedding, anticipating creating an eternal family of my very own, with kids and everything, but with no prospects in sight, what's a sister to do?
I was also struggling with the wound in my heart after being sexually molested in 1995.
My stepfather, whom I refer to as "Dad" in my journal, is a good man and I'm grateful to have him in my life, but too often I find myself missing the father who gave up his own eternal family and yearning for a priesthood holder of my own; determined to break the Llewellyn cycle of divorce.
In 1997, as the oldest of five kids, I was the first one to leave the proverbial "nest" in La Verkin. The shock of leaving that comfortable home life was just plain HARD. I'm a homebody by nature and I missed hanging out with my siblings, eating dinner together, passing notes during sacrament meeting; just having people around who really knew me and cared about me.
I would like to share this excerpt from my journal about that special day when I was privileged to shake the hand of a general authority. (I'll never wash this hand again!)

May 12, 1997
Time can eventually heal most wounds, or at least scab them over so they're less noticeable. Wonderful things don't always happen, but, sometimes, the Lord does see fit to send somewhat moderate events into my life to let me know He hasn't completely forsaken me.
Going home and spending a nice, long, three day weekend among my family helped tremendously. I left early Thursday afternoon with Amy Picklesimer with whom I also returned with Sunday night.
During my stay, I went to St. George twice, saw Stacy (Stacy Snider was my roommate at Dixie in 1995) and went to church with my family.
I also attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert at the Dixie Center with Mom, Dad and Grandma. We gave them three standing ovations until the choir finally sang Battle Hymn of the Republic and it was wonderful. One day, I too will be among the members of that choir.
After the concert, Dad and I went down to the stage. Dad knew one of the artistic directors and Elder L. Tom Perry of the "Big 12" was also accompanying the choir on their bicentennial tour through Utah and some of us got to shake his hand! I was SO psyched. I was on cloud nine the whole way home and for several days afterward. I mean, this was my first time meeting any of the BIG CHURCH LEADERS.
He was awesome. Elder Perry even said he liked my necklace. (I just happened to be wearing my medallion that night!) He was very tall, too, just like in that picture where he's standing with all the other members of the twelve.
I actually got to shake his hand twice. After I returned back to where Dad was standing, to gloat about my thrilling meeting, he said he also wanted to talk to Elder Perry. As it turns out, Dad knew one of his sons when he lived and worked in the Salt Lake area before he married Mom.
Dad knows everybody!
Since I happened to be standing there, Elder Perry shook my hand and spoke to me AGAIN!
Whatever may befall me in this life, I will never turn my back on the gospel. I love being a member of this church. I love the gospel. I have to. I am, after all, a fifth generation Mormon with pioneer "Faith In Every Footstep" ancestors behind me. 
I can't disappoint them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You'll Understand When You're Married

So, what's a good response when someone lobs this condescending bomb into the conversation?
"You'll understand when you're married."

"You'll understand more when you're not."
"Stop infantalizing me you condescending b----!"
"My marital status does not, in any way, define who I am as a person."
"You married folk think you're so much wiser than everyone else on the planet."

After resisting the urge to punch this person in the face, I simply turned and walked away; bereft of any Clever Comebacks.
"Well the jerk store called and they're running out of you."

Too many people in this world think that marriage is something that just happens to you. That thousands of frustrated single people can simply wake up on the morning of their choosing and *TWANG* "Look, Ma, I'm married!"

It isn't that simple.

Way too many people imply this same phenomenon to divorce. We have turned into a society that not only values marriage, but has become obsessed with re-creating it for ourselves over and over until we get it right.

Apparently, the only good marriage one can have these days, is the marriage built on the solid rock of divorce. 
I disagree.

Instead of letting my anger and bitterness stew, I had to focus on the positive things in my single life before I began to feel better:
Just because I'm single doesn't exclude me from being a contributing member of society. Until my own day of happiness arrives, I can use my gifts and talents to bring happiness to others.
I have two nephews, a sister, a brother and plenty of girlfriends who value me as a complete person and with whom I enjoy spending time with.
Every Sunday, I help teach three sunbeams and, guess what? They don't give a rat's a-- whether or not I'm married! As Sheri Dew said, "Are we not all mothers?"

Maybe there are some things I won't understand until my wedding night. Maybe stretch marks do bring greater wisdom to a woman. Maybe I do have to wait until I'm married, divorced and then happily re-married again before certain members of society will listen and accept me into their "adults-only" club.

Until then, I'm just getting more awesome.

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Week of Service

In his talks directed to single adults in the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley's most oft repeated advice was, simply, to serve others.
"The best medicine for despair is service," (To Single Adults, 1989.)
"Lose yourself in the service of others," (A Conversation with Single Adults, 1997.)
In the past, my eye-rolling response was always, "How can he possibly know what being single is like? He's married!"
I thought losing myself in the service of others meant becoming the next Mother Teresa. Then I had some amazing experiences last week proving how wrong I was. I don't have to move to Calcutta. As I started looking around this small, humble, microcosm in which I exist, I discovered there's plenty of nice things I can do, right here, in my own community.
As my week of (mostly) unplanned service progressed, I realized I was on a roll and I kept finding many opportunities, both big and small, to serve my fellow man.
Like Cher from Clueless, (who found joy in helping her friends by taking them shopping) I was feeling so satisfied, so filled with the sprit of service, I wanted to do more good deeds.
So, here is what serendipitously became "My Week of Service."

About Vinny's
Monday: Volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake City with the Murray 11th Ward. (Because my Mom couldn't make it and sent me in her place, thanks Mom!)

Platelet Donors
Tuesday: Donate blood at ARUP Blood Services, Sandy UT (which isn't easy for me because of my pernicious anemia)

Wednesday: The ward I attend was throwing a going away party at the neighborhood park for a beloved family who was moving. Any willing volunteers to bring cookies would be very welcome. So, I stepped into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of my famous chocolate chip cookies and went. Because our ward has lots of kids, including my two favorite nephews, I had many opportunities to play aunt and help pick up the toddlers being loaded like torpedoes down the slide by their older siblings, (which we quickly put a stop to) wipe noses and kiss boo boos.

Thursday: My stepfather came down with the world's worst virus: coughing, laryngitis, fatigue, and was sent home from work where I sent him straight to bed and made sure he had plenty of chicken noodle soup (and chocolate chip cookies) to aid in his recovery.

Friday: Babysit my eight year nephew until his parents could get home from work. Then we all went to Fashion Place Mall for some shopping and dinner at the food court where I helped keep an eye on both my favorite nephews. I recommend the corn dogs, they're excellent!

Saturday: Attended a friend's party
(OK, going to a party isn't exactly an act of service or sacrifice, but spending time with your best girlfriends and catching up on each other's lives is important too, right?)

Sunday: Sang in church.
First time I've ever been asked to sing in public so I was both honored and flattered when I was asked over a month ago if I'd be willing to do a number in sacrament meeting. I found a great piece, printed the sheet music off the internet, practiced hard and was able to perform with poise and confidence; bringing the spirit and love of the Savior into the meeting.
The many compliments I received afterward didn't hurt either!

I challenge anyone who is feeling a little down, in the depths of despair, or having too much fun indulging in their own pity-party, to take President Hinckley's challenge and find some small way to serve.

You don't have to make a week out of it. It doesn't have to be big and grand. Don't feel bad if it doesn't go viral. The littlest, most insignificant act of service you stop and provide might just make somebody else's day.

And, who knows, you might just lose yourself (or find yourself) in the process!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How Can I Defend Marriage and Family When I'm Single?

We have just enjoyed another General Conference. Like many others, I was also a little shaken when five people stood during the sustaining of those we consider to be prophets, seers and revelators and shouted their dissent. I realize everyone has a right to their own opinions, but I think I speak for the majority of church members in my desire to stand up for our revered leaders declaring, “We Oppose your ‘Opposed!’”
Right back at-cha!
Noted and moving on.
The church is still true, our members are imperfect, but the gospel of Jesus Christ will always remain-steadfast and immovable.
It isn’t easy. Even for Old Maid Mormons like me who often feel like second-class citizens, listening to four separate and distinct talks delivered during the Saturday morning sessions, all focusing exclusively on the importance of heterosexual man-woman marriage, supporting our priesthood holders, the sacredness of human sexuality and family formation.
How can a forty-year old midsingle like me stand up and defend the Proclamation to the Family (given twenty years ago when I was just entering the young single adult scene) and follow the prophet’s call to increase our temple worship when I was never even asked to the temple, let alone my high school prom? Who would ever take me seriously? I’m a virgin who can’t drive.
How can I proclaim that marriage and family matters to me when I have no husband, home or family of my own?
How can I honor and sustain the priesthood when I have no worthy priesthood holder in my life?
I posted these very questions to my friends on a Facebook Group for LDS midsingles.
Their supportive and uplifting comments were wonderful. There are many singles who share my frustration, feeling like an “invisible saint” as we continue to wait patiently for our blessings. These faithful singles suggested a return to prayer, serving others and to not let myself feel inferior when the ideal is not my current reality.  
Frankly, I was told I needed to start looking at my situation in a different way.
  To begin with, there is hardly a shortage of worthy priesthood holders in my life: my bishop, brother-in-law, three younger brothers and my stepfather; all worthy and honorable priesthood holders that I can call, any time, for blessings of comfort and council.
Whatever humble structure you call home, even if you live by yourself, you can make it a place of safety, refuge and peace-like a temple.
Those people in your life you simply cannot live without: friends, nephews, siblings. They are your family and you are never alone.
Pray and study the scriptures. Find little ways to serve and make a difference.  
I struggle often with the question of continuing to live the law of chastity when isolation and loneliness are the only blessings I see.
A life free of guilt and shame are the real blessings that come from living this law. I have no reason to feel inferior. Continue to strive for the ideal and next time you feel like a second-class citizen for choosing celibacy, when the quick and easy path of cohabitation beckons, stop and say, “Opposed!”
 During his Sunday morning address, President Monson admonished us all to have a spirit of temple worship. My temple recommend expired years ago, due to my lack of motivation to attend, yet, as I listened to the voice of our beloved prophet, I discovered that spirit of temple worship continues to burn in my heart. The desire to believe and worship was there. Recalling the words of Alma, I would let this desire work in (me).
The best way to stand up and show our support for our beloved prophet is to encourage each other to study his latest words and follow his most recent council to seek the blessings of the temple.
Let’s keep our hearts open as to how we can be like that return missionary in President Monson’s talk who followed a quiet prompting and made a difference in someone’s life.
We can show our support for President Monson by increasing our spirit of temple worship and performing small acts of kindness.

For by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Clinging to my Log

Clinging to my Log
By Michelle Llewellyn

Picture a Mark Twain log raft as an example of the traditional family unit. A man and woman meet with their two logs and lash them together. Children are added with their respective logs and soon a large raft has taken shape. Wise adults understand the importance of a well-constructed raft to navigate the often treacherous river that we call life. The man and woman work to maintain the rope lashings that hold each log in place; ever vigilant that these bonds remain secure. Everyone is kept safely aboard, protected from the dangers of the swirling, perilous water. The log raft floats lazily along in calm waters. All is well.

Until, the unthinkable occurs. The man and woman, through no fault of their own, declare this log raft inadequate for their needs. They regret their decision in coming together. The log unit they created is broken up. Perhaps the woman re-lashes her log with another. The children are left scrambling for their share of loose rope. They manage to hang on and survive the transition but his new, blended, log raft is weaker than the original. Still, everyone keeps insisting the only requirement a good log raft needs are a group of people who like each other enough to commit to creating a raft in the first place.

As the children of this blended log raft grow up, some find their own partners; break away from the log raft they grew up on to create their own rafts. The rest remain, dangling behind the makeshift raft everyone insists is much better than the original.

They aren’t alone. Up and down the river of life, these same scenarios are repeated as men and women constantly break up and re-form rafts. Occasionally they check to make sure the children’s logs are still with them but maintaining their own logs on a blended raft requires more attention. The ties once formed with the old logs from the original raft will never be the same. All they can do, they reason, is set a good example for how to keep a blended log raft afloat and hope, somehow, everything will work out.

In another part of the river, the man who broke away from his original log raft found others to create new, insistently better, log rafts with. Occasionally, he too will remember the children from that original raft and will shout his support and encouragement to his single children clinging to their own individual logs but, like his ex-log partner, maintaining connections amidst his own blended raft are more important. All he can do is hope his children understand how much he loves them and that he will always be there for them, despite the fact there is nothing he can do for them so far away; so completely disengaged from their lives.

On the river of life, it’s every log for themselves. If a log isn’t well connected to a larger family raft it is that log’s own fault. If a log can’t find another to form a strong raft with, there is nothing anyone can do for that log.

The oldest child from that original broken and reformed raft is now a single adult woman. She remains passive, holding fast to her only connection with a blended log raft. No strong, single man with his log ever floated by on the river of life and offered her the opportunity to join their two logs together to create a stable log raft. She is an outlier. She floats alone, determined not to make the same mistakes others have made in their hasty coupling and uncoupling of various log raft experiments. Logs of the same gender never interested her. Her desire was always to form just one raft in her life and she wants it to be the right one, thus securing a better future for the children that will one day come with their respective logs.

As the years on the river have passed, the meager ropes connecting her single log with her blended family raft have frayed. Her mother resents the fact she remains with this raft and has shouted numerous times over the roar of the rapids that it might be time for her to let go and create her own raft and cease this drag on her own. Just settle for the next single log that floats by, at least you won’t be alone. The daughter ignores this advice. She would prefer to be a single log, floating independent and free, than unhappily lashed to someone who felt compelled to join her.

It’s a difficult and frustrating choice. She grows weary of the pressure to either lower her standards or suffer the social stigma of a lifetime of solitude on the river of life. Holding out amidst the growing lack of strong men desirous to form a raft that will last for eternity brings no blessings. The single woman, realizing her lack of worth and value to anyone as an undesirable, single log can no longer be endured. At last, she succumbs and releases her grasp on the only connection she ever had to a stable, albeit shaky, log raft.  

Severing her connection she is carried downstream. Clinging to her log, she knows she is headed toward a waterfall. A single, unwanted woman, going to her death, yet, she is at peace. Numerous times she was told by the experienced river guides that her only hope in navigating the river of life alone was that someone or something better awaited her on the other side of the falls. Her final destination.  

Image result for log raft image

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

36 Questions

Today’s post was inspired after reading this Deseret News National article about relationships. A study was done exploring love and compatibility developed by Arthur Aron at State University of New York at Stony Brook that was published not long ago in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
In another article, someone actually tried this experiment to make herself fall in love and it worked!

There’s actually 72 questions. The study was divided into two “games” where each couple was given a bunch of slips of paper with one question written on it which they were to answer and discuss with each other. The two categories were:
Interpersonal Closeness and Small Talk

It was fun to read through the Interpersonal Closeness questions as I’ve often fantasized what it might be like to discuss such topics with someone I could call my soul mate. Instead, I had to answer them all-by-my-lonesome. Since I have never (either now or at any time in my life) had a partner to share these topics with, I will share them here, with the world, on my blog.

I would encourage anyone reading this to do the same, either with the person they love or by yourself, as I did, as a good exercise in self-reflection and evaluating your personal values.

36 Questions for Closeness-Generating Procedure

1.      Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

That’s an easy one. Those who know me best will recite the answer along with me: Paul “Bono” Hewson, lead singer of U2, of course! We’ll start the discussion on their latest album, Songs of Innocence, which wasn’t very impressive (as thousands of grumbling public voices agreed after hearing their free download on iTunes) and why it might very well be their first “crap album.” Then Bono can listen to me sing his praises about his efforts to use his money and celebrity status to make a difference in the world. The fact he’s always been a faithful husband and dedicated father to his wife and four children has always been more important to me than anything else, aside from the music. Alison Hewson is also welcome to join us at the dinner table. I’m not trying to steal your husband, Ali, I promise!

2.      Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Of course! In our current culture obsession with fame and popularity, who wouldn’t want five-hundred thousand internet followers while the commercial industry beats a path to your door with multimillion-dollar contract offers? These days, if the right circumstances come along, all you have to do is work at Target (if your name is Alex) to achieve such success. As for me, I’d prefer being a famous author as my claim to fame.

3.      Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Well, this one’s easy enough. Yes, I think all of us have done this at one time or another. Why? So we don’t sound like stupid idiots, of course! I always rehearse, even when I know I’ll be talking to a computer automated voice, I’m determined to be smarter than the machine.

4.      What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

      Hmmm, let’s see. My fantasy of a perfect day is living the life of the now outdated, anti-feminist, 1950’s housewife. I’m sorry, but after twenty-plus years of working my ass off in order to pay my own bills, studying my ass off to obtain college degrees and certifications, traveling, volunteering and babysitting other people’s kids; I’m ready to experience some of those greener pastures for myself. I WANT the stewardship of seeing my breadwinner out the door to his job, spending my days wiping noses, overseeing naptimes, building outrageous models out of Legos, cleaning house, chauffeuring kids to soccer, tending a backyard garden, playing the piano, reading a good book (when I can spare a minute), and looking forward to an upcoming Friday “date night” with my wonderful, eternal companion who is feeling a little stressed out with his job, family and church duties right now and needs me, his all-wise, all-supportive, loving wife to tell him he’s doing great and we’ll muddle through this together. After homework, family dinnertime, family games on the iPhone or some other wholesome activity, baths, prayers and tucking the little monsters into bed, hubby and I look at each other in disbelief that we actually made it through another day and could still remember each other’s name. We then make wild, passionate love until we pass out in exhaustion because, hey, it’s my “perfect” day! Anastasia Steele, eat your heart out.

5.      When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

I caught myself singling along to “Love Runs Out” by One Republic just the other night as I was doing dishes while my iTunes shuffled through my favorite playlist. I last sang to my two-year old nephew, Charlie, at my mom and step-dad’s house at the piano that no one else in the family ever uses. Charlie was doing his best to pound out what constituted as music to his ears, but he finally agreed to let his aunt have a turn. There was an open Children’s Songbook in front of us and since little Charlie is already acquiring a list of favorite primary songs, he requested, “I am a Child of God,” one of Mormonism’s most popular songs, especially among the younger set. He joined me in singing the chorus. I’m glad my sister makes a nightly habit of singing to her babies before tucking them into bed and whenever the opportunity arises, I do the same.

6.      If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

I’d have to go with the body of a 30 year old because my mind is already pretty sharp and I plan to keep it that way. Alzheimer’s doesn’t run in my family (but cancer does). When I think of all the knowledge I’ve acquired over the last 10 years; I wouldn’t want to lose that.

7.      Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

I’ll die an old maid, of course. A wholesome, untouched virgin that plenty of men wanted, but not in the way I wanted. I often speculate who will find my cold, dead body since I live alone in a world where patriarchy is already dead.

8.      Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

                                                      What partner?

9.      For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My two nephews, Calvin (age 8) and Charlie, (age 2) of course! Both the children of my happily married younger sister. Thanks for letting me be part of their lives!

10.  If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

Ray and Linda Llewellyn won’t like hearing this, but I wish they hadn’t always been such narcissistic assholes. Growing up, it seemed to me they always valued themselves and their own lives and happiness over their five children.
Stepdad, Alan Scholes, was always too disengaged from my life to take any interest in it. He had five boys living outside the home to maintain a relationship with.
Linda Scholes had her new husband to flaunt in my face.
Ray Llewellyn (living in another state) always made sure he had a woman in his life to keep him company.
Who was left to take any interest in MY life?

Gee, this is getting depressing. And we’re not even halfway through the list yet!

11.  Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

I’ll spare you those painful details. However, my life does contain pleasant events. We took fun family vacations to the lake or amusement parks. I’d lead my younger siblings in putting on wild theatricals, make up games to play outside and we’d roam the neighborhood on our bikes as part of those carefree, innocent days of childhood in the 1980’s. We’d go out to dinner and to the movies as a family (both during the years as a biological and blended step-family), attend church together and hold family scripture and prayer study (both before and after the divorce). My best date was in 1994 when my college friend Mandy turned down Roger and set him up with me and we ended up having a good time together. I managed to get a good education, earned enough money flipping burgers and washing dishes to support myself so my life wasn’t the dark, bleak Dickensian life I sometimes make it out to be. I just wish more good had come out of all the effort I put into preparing myself to be somebody’s companion, helpmeet wife and mother but, alas, it was never to be. That pretty much ends my life.

12.  If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

If I can’t wake up tomorrow with the ability to make a good man fall desperately in love with me and want to start a family with me, then I’d like the ability to succeed in a satisfying job or career that paid more than $25,000 a year. Simple, right?

13.  If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

I think many of the previous questions already covered this one. I suppose the crystal ball would point out the many superficial faults marrieds enjoy telling singles: I have a bad attitude, don’t make myself attractive enough, should just be patient and keep waiting or that Prince Charming will knock on my door at approximately *blank* time and day. I’m sure the majority would say they’d love the crystal ball to show them swimming like Scrooge McDuck in a roomful of money. You can buy anything in this world with money, except (Mormon temple) marriage.

14.  Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

Um, because it takes two people (or at least two incomes) to make a marriage, baby, mortgage or even a satisfying career; at some point in all our lives, somebody has to open that door of opportunity for us. Somebody has to make the choice and pick YOU, out of all the other candidates for that dream job or dream date that might lead to marriage and happiness. I’ve done all I can while watching all my dreams fade away…

15.  What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

I wish I could say, “Serving an LDS mission,” or “All the hours I’ve spent babysitting my nephews,” but I have to choose obtaining my two bachelor’s degrees. Even if they never bring me a satisfying career, I worked hard, learned a lot and (for the most part) enjoyed the experience of being part of the campus life at two different universities in the state of Utah.

16.  What do you value most in a friendship?

Kindness. Growing up I didn’t have many friends but those I counted as friends were always the ones who didn’t join the others in bullying or teasing but included the social outcasts like me in their conversations and activities. I always made an effort to return such kind favors so I had friends to help me celebrate birthdays, go on group dates and just hang out.
So, everyone, just be kind. To me, that is real friendship.

17.  What is your most treasured memory?

I’m afraid I don’t have one. Holding my nephew Calvin for the first time in my sister’s hospital room, I suppose. That was the moment Bono got knocked off his pedestal.

18.  What is your most terrible memory?

Ouch! This might get painful. Linda Higginbotham Llewellyn and Ray Llewellyn weren’t immune to the occasional slapping or kicking of the little innocents under their care when they felt justified in exercising unrighteous dominion. Even Alan Scholes slapped my ass once. Then there was that morning in October 1995 when I was nearly raped in my own bed by a strange intruder. Oh, wait, I can only pick ONE?

19.  If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

This is a good one. Many people would probably make drastic changes in their work schedule to spend more time with their family. For me, there’s nothing I would change. That year can’t pass quickly enough because nothing ever changes for me. I can’t wait to die!

20.  What does friendship mean to you?

Please see my answer to question #16.

21.  What roles do love and affection play in your life?

One of the hardest parts about being single and living alone is that utter lack of physical affection. It’s especially tough if you grew up in a family that didn’t show a lot of physical affection. As I grew older, I’d hug and kiss my younger brothers but they would push me away. Our mom encouraged this. It seems everyone loved reminding me that there must be something hideously wrong with me to be *blank* age and never had a boyfriend. No one is going to associate themselves with someone like that. Love and affection? What are those? I’m lucky to get hugs and kisses from my two favorite nephews; that’s the extent of any love and affection I’ll ever know in this life.
Okay, this is getting depressing. Moving on…

22.  Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of 5 items.

It would be easy to skip this one, since I have no partner. But I suppose I could use my imagination and list the 5 positive characteristics my perfect partner would share with me.
1.      You are smart and witty with a mind like a steel trip. You intrigue me!
2.      You are good and kind with a nurturing heart and desire to love and serve others. I’m grateful to be one of those.
3.      You have so many wonderful gifts and talents: you are like that character in the Book of Mormon who was “mighty in writing,” you enrich our home with your music and homemaking skills. When do I get a cooking lesson?
4.      You’re a scholar of the scriptures. I love that we can hold friendly debates about the physical existence of Kolob.
5.      You absolutely love being a mother to our children. Except when they’re mine.

23.  How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other peoples?

I think some of the previous questions have already answered this one.

24.  How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Oh, let’s not even go there! But, I’d always imagined our relationship considerably improving once someone found me attractive enough to date, court, marry and start a family with. Linda Scholes seems to take great pleasure in reminding me that because I’ve never given birth, I can’t possibly understand her point of view on some of our most toxic issues; like why I’m still single, have never presented her with grandchildren and the frustration that I won’t live beyond my meager income and just purchase a home of my own already.

25.  Make 3 true “we” statements each. For instance “We are both in this room feeling…”

                     There is no “we” there is only “I” and I’m feeling quite forlorn.

26.  Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”

Um, yeah, pretty obvious, “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…MY LIFE!!!

27.  If you were going to become a close friend to your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

I have some baggage: childhood divorce, abuse, molestation, insecurity and low self-esteem, but we can work through it. I’m also ready to accept you and all your subsequent baggage for us to work through together. As long as it doesn’t include porn or illegal drug smuggling.

28.  Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

                                                 What partner?

29.  Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting with a group of girls before first period started when another girl came up to us who was writing an article on whether or not to allow vending machines that sold condoms on school property. The question was directed at me. Blushing furiously I was forced to admit I didn’t know what a condom was, (remember I’m only 18, it’s 1992 and I’m living in Utah where sex-ed classes haven’t been invented yet!) the others girls began squealing like a bunch of baby piglets exclaiming, “How could you not know…?!” “You mean you’ve never…?!” “Don’t your parents…?!”while I just wanted to crawl under my desk and not come out until graduation.

30.  When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

I cried in my bishop’s office two months ago over the heartache of reaching the age I’m currently at and still single with no reason to go on living. Just last night, I was sobbing in my room, alone, still struggling over that same question.

31.  Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

                                                     This is getting redundant.

32.  What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

The sexual exploitation of children. Nuff’ said.

33.   If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

We know what the underlying point of this question is: call someone and tell them you love them NOW before it’s too late! I know this makes me sound like a narcissist but there’s no one I can think of, not even a member of my own immediate family, that I would call and say that to. We’re just not that kind of family. My oldest nephew or my next youngest brother, the one I’m closest to in the family, maybe, but they both know I love them. I’m not worried.

34.  Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

Right now, at this point in my life, with no family or pets of my own to worry about, I would want to save my computer-my entire iTunes music library is in there! My huge collection of books would be impossible. My USB flash drive with all my Word documents and home movie files might be the easiest item to dash in and save.

35.  Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

Either one of my adorable nephews, Calvin or Charlie, because they’re still so young and have so much life ahead of them with plenty of family around who love them and are encouraging them to grow up to be good men and contributing members of society. Besides, I’d miss them terribly.

36.  Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

I’m sure all singles share my problem of how to cope with the daily grind of loneliness but for me, compounded with my lack of career opportunities over the last twenty years of my life that keep dragging me down into the depths of depression and despair, I would love to know how someone in my shoes would be dealing with so many lemons and a shortage of sugar.