How to Get Bryce into a Bad Mood: A Recipe

Generally speaking, I’m a fairly even sort of a fellow. I don’t lose my temper very often, though it certainly can happen from time to time. One such instance happened on Saturday, as a number of factors came together to get me into one of the worst moods I’ve been in in quite some time. How did it happen?

First off, it almost always happens when I’m under some sort of outside stress. Saturday, a whole slew of factors had lined up to make the situation as trying as possible. Tomas had to go to a cross country meet at 8:15, but the rest of us needed to leave at 8:00 to make it to the Ellsworth area for an all-day retreat. We had to be all packed before we left, since we’d be heading down to Worcester to stay the night. We’d planned things out ahead of time as best we could, but it was all going to be pretty tight, and I knew there’d be a whole lot of driving involved. (2 hours to Ellsworth, maybe 2 hours back home, then 4 hours or so down to Worcester, depending on traffic. And that was just driving time.)

Make sure to add in uncertainty, too. I don’t handle last minute changes well. I’m the sort of person who really likes to know what I’m going to be facing each day. Give me a good agenda, an organized To Do list, and clear expectations, and I can get a whole ton of things accomplished. I think fine on my toes in the heat of the moment, but when I have time to really worry about any uncertainty, I struggle. (I’m the sort of person who stresses out about silly things like “how will I get all this luggage off the plane” while I’m sitting on the plane waiting to get off. Known uncertainty makes me worried. I don’t know why.)

We knew we’d have to get Tomas later on, but we weren’t sure exactly where or when. Ideally, we’d be able to pick him up in Augusta and cut off an hour on the trip down to Worcester, but we figured we’d play it by ear. (Not my favorite thing to do. See above.)

I got up on time, and everything was going well. It was a rush to get everything together, but we were looking good. Just one last thing to do: grab the tickets for the devotional we were going to Sunday. I had fifteen minutes left, and was feeling haggard, but happy that everything was on track.

Except the tickets were nowhere to be found. I looked for them. Denisa got involved. Tomas and DC started scouring the house as well. We had ten minutes left. Five minutes. Then we were late. Five minutes. Ten minutes. I had to drive Tomas to the bus when we were 20 minutes late. I despise being late. It can be enough to put me in a bad mood, even without any other stress.

When we left for Ellsworth, we were running a half hour late for the retreat, and we’d never found the tickets. I was one very irate Bryce at that point. Definitely suffering from almost complete tunnel vision by then. My sole goal became to cut that half hour delay down to something less egregious. If I could make it there less than ten minutes late, I wouldn’t feel as bad, for example.

The drive is a blur in my memory. Many speed limits were broken to an extent I don’t typically break them. (Which in turn put be into a worse mood. It was a bad cycle.) At the end of it all, we arrived 9 minutes late. We were actually the second people to arrive, though I think I might have torn the space time continuum somewhere along the way.

Denisa and I were both stumped, because while we can (at times) be a tad disorganized, we’re never that disorganized. We decided in the end that the seats we’d been given weren’t the right ones, and we were supposed to sit somewhere else. It was the only thing that made sense. We ended up finding the tickets after we came home. They’d slipped into a crack by the recycling bin. We had been given the wrong tickets for the kids. Tomas and DC would have been seated much farther back. Instead, because we had to switch tickets, they got a seat on the fourth row. Since the topic of one of the talks was to acknowledge the hand of God when you see it at work in your life, I’m going to chalk the experience up to that.

Though next time, I’m putting any and all tickets in a place I’ll remember easily . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Who Are You Related To?

As I mentioned on Facebook, I was down in Worcester, MA yesterday to hear President M. Russell Ballard and Elder D. Todd Christofferson (two current member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) speak in the DCU Center. There were about 12,000 other people there. Tomas and DC got to sit on the fourth row, and Denisa and I were much farther back with MC. It was a great meeting. Elder Christofferson spoke of the need to involve God in our lives through daily prayer. I especially liked his observation that the things which seem of little consequence and things that are most important in our lives often end up being the same things. (After all, the way I see it, breathing is a fairly trivial thing we all do day in and day out. We take it for granted and don’t give it much attention, but when we’re suddenly unable to breathe, we realize quickly just how important it is to us . . . )

President Ballard talked about recognizing the hand of the Lord in your life. Acknowledging those times when He has helped you or guided you in miraculous ways. He told the story of John Howland, a passenger on the Mayflower. He was swept out to sea in the middle of the voyage, but he was able to grab onto a rope that was trailing in the water behind the ship and was hauled back on board. His survival has turned out to be key to much of American history, since he’s a direct ancestor of people including FDR, George Bush, Emerson, Longfellow, Joseph Smith, and 2 million others. It would be easy to dismiss Howland’s rescue as good luck. You can also view it as the hand of providence intervening in his life. How you choose to see it certainly depends on your personal views and outlook, but that’s probably a post for a different time.

President Ballard encouraged members of the audience to pray for the country and its leaders, a sentiment I can certainly get behind. (Indeed, I already wrote an entire blog post about it.) But it occurred to me in the meeting, what happens when people are all praying for the country, but hoping for different outcomes? When faithful Democrats and Republicans all think God wants two entirely different directions for the nation to go? For that, I believe it comes down to us bringing our own wills more in line with God’s. In an ideal world, as we all pray for the same thing (a bright future for the nation, the world, and all its inhabitants), hopefully we will begin to come together more and more, until our wills overlap in multiple places, and we begin to find ways to bring about the things we are all praying for. (If we choose instead to pray for detailed specifics, like “that Trump will leave office” or “that the Democrats will stop being idiots”, I don’t think the odds are high that such overlaps will ever occur. But then again, such prayers presuppose that we understand the will of God better than our neighbors. For prayer to really be effective, I’ve found humility is often a key ingredient. There’s little humility in partisan prayers. Again, probably a topic for a different blog post.)

As I was talking with Tomas after the meeting, we kept coming back to the story of John Howland. I told Tomas I knew we had ancestors on the Mayflower, but I couldn’t right then remember who. We decided it would be a good experience to discover more about our ancestors and look for stories like Howland’s: stories where we might think about where the hand of God interceded in their lives to make it possible for us to be here today.

Thankfully, we live in 2019, and there’s technology developed to help us out in these situations. (Assuming your family history is fairly robust, which mine is, to say the least, thanks to many generations of faithful genealogy-obsessed Latter-day Saint ancestors.)

If you go to relativefinder.org and log in with your familysearch.org account, it will look up your lineage and compare it to many different people’s, from presidents to movie stars to athletes to you name it. It’s through this tool that I now know Neil Armstrong is my 13th cousin once removed. Mark Twain is my 5th cousin 6 times removed. (I knew there was a reason I was so interested in studying Huck Finn for my thesis . . . ) Ben Franklin is my 2nd cousin 10 times removed. Muhammad Ali is my 14th cousin 1 time removed.

Too distant? William Bradford of the Mayflower is my 11th great grandfather. (And 8 other Mayflower passengers are my many great grandparents.) Of course, family history is only as reliable as the data you put into it. According to this tool, Henry VIII is my 14th great grandfather, but when I took the time to trace back exactly how that conclusion was come to, the results were sketchy to say the least. It also claims Grand Sachem Wyandanch, alliance-chief of the Montaukett Indians, is my 13th great grandfather. It would be awesome if it were true, but once again, the actual documentation is tenuous to say the least.

But that William Bradford connection is accurate. I traced his posterity down to Leonard Hill, a resident of Peterborough, New Hampshire (about 50 miles away from Worcester, where I went to the meeting yesterday). He and his wife Sally Forbush met early Latter-day Saint missionaries and joined the church in 1843. They were ostracized from their families and headed west. They both ended up dying on the eventual trek to Utah after the Saints were forced out of Illinois.

In any case, I’m out of time for today. It was a thought-provoking meeting, and maybe some of these tools would be interesting to you, as well. Not sure how much family history you have to have done to get results, but I will say that actually doing the research is fairly addictive once you start. (Or is that just for librarians?)

Who Ordered the Bomb Cyclone?

Today was supposed to be just a normal Thursday. A bit rainy, sure, but nothing noteworthy about that. At least, that’s all I was really aware of going into the morning. Unbeknownst to me, heavy winds in the night knocked down a bunch of trees in the area, killing power for a whole ton of neighborhoods. Our power flickered a little, but nothing went out.

At 7am, right when I was getting ready to go to work, we got message that there was a two hour delay for MC. That complicated matters, because Denisa would be teaching class right when MC was supposed to be getting on the bus. So we arranged it that she would drive MC to me, and I would walk her over to school during a break.

Fine.

Then I got a text from Tomas at the high school saying that the power had been out there since he’d arrived, and it was looking like he was going to be released. The school district finally decided to cancel school completely for the elementary school students . . . just when Denisa was already bring MC to me on campus. By the time she got here, we knew Tomas could go home early, since nothing was happening at the high school. I got the girls from Denisa, then drove them right back home, by way of the high school to get Tomas.

Meanwhile, DC’s been having some tooth pain, and we had to schedule a visit to the dentist for her. That’s supposed to happen at 2. Except now the school restored power at the high school, which meant Tomas has cross country practice after all. So the new plan is for me to drive back home, get all the kids, take Tomas to practice and DC and MC to the dentist, and then hopefully get through all of that in one piece.

I know to a casual observer this probably isn’t that hectic of a day, but speaking as someone caught in the middle of it, it’s been a whirlwind. Because of course this all happens in the middle of an otherwise busy day at the library for me. I’ve had four meetings and a sea of emails coming my way.

Definitely something to be said for those couples who have one of them just stay at home to cover the duties there . . .

How’s everyone else’s morning been so far?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Cleaning the Freezer

I’ve got a lot going on in my life. That’s practically been the theme of my blog for the last few weeks. So it was lovely to have a four day weekend just barely. We went on a short hike. I finished an Agatha Christie book (Death on the Nile). I organized Magic cards.

And I cleaned the freezer.

If you had asked me ten years ago what my idea of a good time was, “Cleaning the freezer” would not have been high on my list. If someone had told me that’s how I’d voluntarily spend time on a vacation day, I’d have said they were crazy. And yet there I was yesterday, hauling out various hard-to-identify items, throwing most of it away, and feeling very accomplished.

Why did I actually enjoy it?

Because for the last long while, every time I opened the freezer, I was met with a reminder that I hadn’t cleaned that freezer out in a long time, and that it desperately needed it. It wasn’t high on my priority list, but it was this perpetual little chore that needed doing, and I kept not doing it. And not doing it. And not doing it.

All those postponements added up, so when I finally took the time to get it done, it was a big relief. So much so that I kept going back to the freezer the rest of the day and opening it, just to remind myself that it was done. It felt great. (I checked it again this morning. Still clean!)

As with many small chores like that, it didn’t take a long time to get done once I actually committed to doing it. 45 minutes or so. So the question, of course, is why I didn’t take the 45 minutes a long time ago and just get it off my list then. Some of it is because I always felt like I had more important things to do, or that I was too tired to tackle it then and there. If it made me feel so good to just get the job done and out of the way, why don’t I do that with more jobs like that, each of which is waiting for me to get it done?

Probably because I’d rather be reading, or watching a movie, or doing something fun. I’m an organized person, but I’m not yet to the “everything is always organized in my life” phase, and I don’t know if I ever will be. For today, I’m just happy that the freezer is finally clean.

I think I’ll check it again when I get home tonight.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

New Church Calling: Stake Executive Secretary

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’re already aware of the periodic “callings” issued to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our local and area congregations are run as lay ministries, meaning all the leaders are volunteers. We believe we’re called through revelation to fill different positions, from ward librarians to Sunday School teachers to nursery leaders and more. These callings aren’t permanent. They typically change every few years. In my twelve years in the Farmington Ward in Maine, I’ve been a Gospel Doctrine teacher, Ward Mission Leader, Elders Quorum President (and Counselor, and Secretary), Deacons Quorum Advisor, Teaching Training Facilitator, and High Councillor. I might be forgetting a few. They rack up, over time.

The church is quite specific about what each calling is responsible for, and we do our best to understand those callings and meet the duties, whatever they may be. You don’t lobby for a calling, however. There’s no application process. No one asks you what you’d like to do. Church leaders pray about open callings, then select who they feel prompted to select. (Which opens up another calling, because that person was doing something before they got the new calling, and so the cycle continues.) (For the record: Gospel Doctrine teacher was great, but being the Ward Librarian would be absolutely peachy. Just in case any church leaders are wondering somewhere down the road . . . 🙂

Anyway. For the last two years and change, I’ve been on the High Council. Sunday, I started a new calling as Stake Executive Secretary. What does this mean? Latter-day Saints are arranged at the local level into Wards or Branches (a smaller-sized congregation). A collection of Wards and Branches make up a Stake. I live in the Farmington Ward of the Bangor Maine Stake, which consists of twelve Wards or Branches, spanning most of the northern half of Maine. (The very top of Maine actually is part of the Saint John New Brunswick Stake, so I guess you’d need a passport to serve in the stake up there?)

There is a Stake Presidency in charge of supervising the various training and direction of all those different units. It has a President and two Counselors. It also has a Stake Clerk (in charge of records for the presidency, essentially), and a Stake Executive Secretary (in charge of scheduling for the presidency, arranging for agendas, etc.) The latter is what I’ll be up to now.

What does this mean on a practical level for me? I’m not entirely sure. It’s a new calling for me. I’ve never been an executive secretary at a Stake or Ward level before. I have a general idea of what they do, since I’ve interacted with people who were serving in that calling over the years, but it’s one thing to have a vague idea, and another to actually be in the calling. I know I’ll be attending Stake Presidency meeting each week (typically via teleconference, thankfully), arranging interviews for the Stake President and his counselors, working out the logistics for stake meetings, training ward executive secretaries, and things along those lines. I won’t be speaking in churches across the stake each month any more, so I should be in my home ward more often, which will be nice.

It’s a change up, and there will be a learning curve involved, but I do believe these callings are inspired, and thus I believe whatever is heading my way through this calling is something that’s divinely inspired. That goes a long way to help deal with whatever stressful things may arise.

In any case, I enjoyed my time on the High Council. I got to know many more people across the stake, and I actually enjoyed speaking quite a bit. (Though there were definitely weeks when I wished I didn’t have to write a 4,000 word talk that week . . .) I look forward to this new calling and whatever lies in store for me there. In the meantime, if you need to arrange an interview with a member of the Stake Presidency, I’m your huckleberry.

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