Monday, January 11, 2010

A Book Review, and a Goal

I just finished reading The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance a few days ago, and I greatly enjoyed it. In reading feedback from others, I've found this memoir seems to be of the love it or hate it variety. Nobody who feels a need to discuss this book seems to be shrugging their shoulders and saying, "Meh. Didn't really care."

I laughed; I cringed; I groaned; I empathized.

Most of the camp who have hated the novel seem to hate Elna's portrayal of herself as Mormon, but as a Mormon who does not behave in the strictest sense of the stereotyped definition of our faith. (I honestly knew I would love the book when she dedicates the book, minus the swear words and a couple of racy scenes, to her parents.) She swears; she struggles with physical boundaries; she doesn't exclusively date men from her faith. More importantly, she questions: she's not always sure about how she fits into her faith and she's not always sure how to explain what she believes. Hell, she's not always sure what she does believe. That doesn't make her unfaithful; in his November CES fireside talk, President Uchtdorf defined LDS church members as a "question-asking people" because "inquiry leads to truth."

I enjoyed the book because it felt so utterly honest and it rang true to my experiences. (And mind you, I have yet to move outside Utah! But Salt Lake City has a liberal scene all its own; and as a graduate student in a liberal arts program, I often find myself purposefully avoiding most church settings except my Sunday meetings, because I believe the doctrines--but I don't think that the culture is true. In fact, the culture can be exceedingly difficult to swallow sometimes.)

That said, if swearing offends you (and it would offend you even more coming from a Mormon mouth) or if you can't handle a candid discussion of sexual boundaries (including a couple of racy scenes--that, to be honest, I didn't find terribly scandalous...but I'm an English graduate student, and after several years of studying literature, I probably have a more broad definition of "racy" than most), this book isn't for you.

Now, onto the goal part: after reading the book, I admire something she addresses in the book: an ability to say "yes" to many, many things. As she notes, there's a power to saying yes: you never know where--or what--it will get you. And I've decided that's my new goal--to say "yes" to more of the opportunities I'm presented. To stop rationalizing away opportunities. To live a little. (Or who knows? Maybe a lot.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year

Another year has come and gone--far too quickly, it seems. I used to think time would never pass as quickly as I wanted; years used to feel eternities long. Now time passes more quickly than I wish it to, and I find myself expecting change. Welcoming change, even. And this year will be a year of change.

I should (if all goes according to plan, but really--since when has all gone according to plan?) graduate from my program this spring. And then I'm not sure what I'll do. Where I'll be. It seems like a time of infinite possibilities, I've decided. Sure, it's a little bit petrifying to think I should be planning on what to do with the rest of my life, but I figure that it's always served me best to make it up as I go along.

Last year I made a set of goals, and now I don't remember what they are. I can't decide if that means they weren't important enough or if I need to learn a little self-discipline. Maybe both. Maybe neither.

I can think of all kinds of idealistic goals I could make, but I'm not sure I want to make any of them; if I think of anything I actually feel an urge to express, I'll tell you. In the meantime, I welcome 2010 with open arms . . . preparing myself to embrace whatever life throws me at this year.

Or, at the very least, to catch whatever life throws at me--if only for a second, before I drop it.