Archive for January, 2009
WordPress is much more powerful than Blogger for doing the varied kinds of blogging that I do, so AmyJo has been trying to get me to move over for a long time. I believe she has finally succeeded.
So I’ll write more. Here’s a start.
So I don’t post for weeks, then we have three in one day, which is some kind of record. Sue me.
My eldest son is 17 today.
Alexander is not the most diligent kid I know, but he is the kindest. He is not the smartest kid I know (though he is PLENTY smart), but he is the most faithful. He is not perfect. But he is the best. His brothers and sisters are incredibly fortunate to have him as their older brother. Jeanette and I are fortunate to have him for our son. We cannot believe – cannot imagine – that he will be gone in 18 months, essentially forever. Our family without him is totally inconceivable. And yes, I do keep using that word, and it means exactly what I think it means.
Xander, in lots of ways, made the rest of the family possible. He’s been babysitting for us for 8 years or so now, mostly informally, and that babysitting has made it possible for Jeanette to keep her sanity and enough money in the bank to feed everyone. He is not a great babysitter in the classic sense – he won’t clean our house and the chance of our kids getting to bed on time is essentially zero – but when we come home, all the kids will be safe, happy, and healthy. Mira will get them put to bed. Xander will go get them out of the burning house.
He keeps peace. Among seven other squabbling children, that’s no small task. He argues with his brothers like all kids do, and he’s insufferably arrogant about how smart he is (as his father, and his father before him), but he doesn’t mean it. He prefers joy and peace to arguing and fights. His heart, in the end analysis, is good.
I love working with him, and talking with him, and being where he is. When he goes, as he is increasingly aching to do, my heart will break.
For now, for now, he’s still here, though no longer sixteen going on seventeen. Though he’s grown a foot or two, I do not hope they call him. Not yet. Oh, not yet.
Happy Birthday, my good and wonderful son.
So BYU lost to Utah again last night. It wasn’t a big surprise, because BYU has never beaten Utah 3 times in a row at the Huntsman Center, and had they hung on to a late lead they would have accomplished it yesterday. But it was a disappointment, partly because BYU led for most of the game and had several chances to put it away, but mostly because of the huge volume of Ute smack that I get from Ute “fans” who decide they like Utah only when Utah is good. Like twice a decade.
I, on the other hand, am a BYU fan even when things are bad, and things are relatively bad right now. Yes, BYU was 10-3 in football this year and is currently 15-5 in basketball, so it’s not like we became Wyoming or something silly like that, but we lost to Utah in football, which is a big deal, and the basketball team still doesn’t have a game to hang its hat on. Losses to Wake Forest by 7 and Arizona State by a mythical 1 point are no shame, since those teams are ranked in the top 15, but losing at home to UNLV is not acceptable (even though BYU had lost just once in 54 games at home before that), and losing to New Mexico by 20 is out of the question.
But being a FAN of my team, I take joy in the fact that BYU did beat San Diego State last week, and played very well last night in losing in overtime on the same floor that has claimed Oregon, LSU, and Gonzaga this season already. Utah plays well, rides its big man, and gets just enough from its other players to win. It’s a good formula. It won’t work in three weeks in Provo, and it won’t work in Las Vegas in the conference tournament, but it will work well enough to get Utah into the NIT and to make a run at the NCAAs. BYU counters with superior small forward and guard play – an excellent game from Lee Cummard and good performances from Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery – and tries to get enough from its big people to win. Chris Miles, who will be at Twelfth Night this weekend, played his best college game, but he was up against a legitimate NBA center and couldn’t do much with him. I thought Dave Rose had an excellent game plan based on penetration and drawing Utah’s center, then kicking to Miles or Anderson for a short jumper. It was a strategy that worked very well almost all game.
I’m proud of my guys. They battled, and came up short. This team has a habit of that. Some years are like that.
While this game was going on, I was calling the Springville/Provo high school game for www.totalutahpreps.com, that featured BYU’s big recruit for next year, Brandon Davies, Provo’s center. He scored 26 points, had 9 rebounds, and scored on a huge array of moves from leaging the break, dunk putbacks, 15-foot jumpers, 3-pointers, and a thunderous one-handed throwdown on the fast break that was one of the most athletic moves I’ve ever seen from a teenager. If you have Comcast, do the On-Demand thing and watch the first quarter.
Then, as the sun rises on another Red Day, you can take good comfort in the thought that a certain 7’2″ center up north is a senior, and NEXT year, it will be the fellows in blue, once again, that have the advantage.
I wouldn’t take it.
I’m talking about what The Myth of Laziness calls “output failure”. It’s essentially the failure to produce, despite knowing that you have to really get something done. Almost everyone I know has this problem, some worse than others, and I am among the worst I know. I sometimes even put off doing things I like doing, let alone the myriad things I don’t.
But it hasn’t made me any less unhappy with myself to find that I have some sort of syndrome, although to be fair to Dr. Levine, the book’s author, he doesn’t go in for that sort of excuse-making. I don’t actually care, I find, that there might be some sort of genetic predisposition to procrastination, and that I might be a victim instead of just lazy. Know what? I’m a victim of lots of things. I have a predisposition to like brunettes, yet I married a blonde. I suppose that could mean I’d be justified in having an affair. Just not my fault. It’s in my nature. Guess what? NO affair.
So I’m going to just buck up and get to work. How’s that for adulthood!
Chew. Gulp. Aaaah.
My sister Holly Allison was born on New Year’s Eve, and was greeted with joy by my father, who got a tax deduction out of it. The boys were less than thrilled, because she meant 3 girls against 2 boys. That it got worse later took some of the sting out.
But Allison was often in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’s right in the middle of the girls, number 3 of 5, with the brilliant Elizabeth and social maven Melanie ahead of her and the perfect Catherine and cute baby Diana behind her. She sings very well, but when Catherine arrived in high school she made it into the top group and her older sister Allison was cut. She is thin and tall and beautiful, but not as thin as one sister or as tall as another. She was born on quite a big holiday, which always makes it hard (I know this a bit from personal experience) to get focused on. She talked less than most of the rest of us (which is still plenty), so it took a bit before we realized that she was more observant than we were, and that when she talked, she said excellent things.
I think we get it now.
Allison was not really a person when I left home, so I can’t say that I knew her well before she grew up. She was only 10 when went off to college, and when I made drive-by visits after that she was usually busy. I spent a little time with her before I left on my mission the summer of ’89, and some more when I got back afterward, though by then I was getting married, and we didn’t hang out. We never hung out.
Fast forward to the digital age. Like most of my younger siblings, she gets the ‘net more than I do, but both of us, primarily among all of us, get the part where the ‘net makes winners out of those that can write. I heard a speech by Lynne Truss, the writer of the most excellent Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, about the decline of English and specifically English grammar. In this speech she outlined the destruction of punctuation and grammar, which occurred because in the 1960s, it was quite generally accepted that most communication henceforth would be by radio and TV, and spoken language has no need of punctuation, unless you are Victor Borge.
Unfortunately for this crowd and those educated by them, the Internet came along and all of a sudden the written word is roughly ten million times more important than it ever was before. It was a leap forward for writers absolutely on par with Guttenberg.
And just like that, my shy sister Allison is a writer. A really good one, whose stuff is a joy to read. She wrote a novel. A whole novel, all the pages. I wrote one myself once, and hers is to mine as Big Ben is to a wristwatch. Her blog, Alison Wonderland, is one of the only things I read every single day, no matter what. When we went to Blanding for the Jones 100th Reunion, it was Allison I spent the day with, drifting down the San Juan river. We never run out of things to talk about. NOW we hang out. I love it. She’s become one of the best, and most interesting, people in the world. NOW when she makes her wry observations, EVERYONE can tell how brilliant she is.
How cool that she should be my sister.
Happy late Birthday, Al.