What is Drastic + Dramatic

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I made a website!


It even has a secret page! Go find it, go, go!

Friday, December 07, 2012


I had two poems published in Touchstones journal this semester. They asked me to read one at their release night event, My Word!. I read "Peacemaker" and I think it went really well. I was nervous at first. Usually I'm not so bad, but I had to calm my mind and whomping heart with some discreet yoga breathing before going up. Man, sometimes it just feels good to get applauded for doing what you love.

image of Touchstones fall 2012 cover "Color" by Frankie Mercado
beautiful cover by Frankie Mercado; digital medium

back cover of journal; my name included in list of contributors
some wonderful publications this semester!

So, the sound and image matchup of this next media clip is off. Kinda drives me crazy. But the sound doesn't suck, so whatev; now you can listen as you read along! (*the hanging art in the background is not Japanese, though that would've made its presence cooler. It's Vietnamese for "patience," which is a key element for being a true peacemaker.)

Sometimes, when I exit the school, I see this plume of white smoke some distance to the north. Oftentimes it makes me ponder what it must have been like waking, breathing free on a still morning in August, year 1945.

I could have been born any time, any place, but as it happened, my grandpa, yet unmarried, was at war the morning Enola Gay awoke, breathing, pregnant with the death of hundreds of thousands of volunteers of the enemy. Drifting on divine wind, Gay dropped her Little Boy; a steel stork with nuclear delivery, a warrior child whose entire life would last 44.4 seconds in freefall.

I might have been placing a pot of rice on the flame, or pouring steaming water for father’s tea, and I know I would have felt a pausing measure of profound pleasure in the whispering morning air, cool like clammy palms, so I would have stepped out to the porch to listen. I wouldn’t so much hear the lightning geyser erupt in town, but every eyelid wipe would try for weeks to scrape the inverse x-ray pillar from my retinas.

Here from school, where I see the smoky finger poking at the sky, my guess is the town of Pleasant Grove would disappear, every cant slab of concrete an unmarked headstone. I used to live in PG. I want to say I remember what that plume is from. I can't.

I picture the people in the surgical clinic above which the Little Boy released his nuclear tantrum: the nurse bowing, lifting the page of a patient's chart; the patient turning his sick gaze toward the window, his breathing subtle like the leaves nodding sleepily at the summer morning sun—

then in the profound silence of full volume noise, an instantaneous slurping of every atom simultaneously resisted by a force that turns teeth to ash snatches their two bodies, etches them for an instant in the transparent monolith of time, the rupture of artificial sun searing each human statue, radiating skeletons framed in charcoal silhouettes—

and after leaving a melting tear in the earth, their stunned souls rise on a smoldering halo of smoke.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dead end

How should you
feel when you see
the man you believed
was dead, who
tried to take your life? Filled
with burning
relief, still I lost
my appetite when
I saw him,
that secret gagged
and bound behind
his teeth, captivating
the woman hanging
on his arm, dazzling
expectations strangling
her left ring finger. He will take
her home, bury her
alive in his
parents’ basement.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Father of ten children including my mother, WWII navy sailor, 3-year missionary in Brazil, counselor for married couples and families—this man has left unfading footprints of good all over the world. In his old age as he slowly loses footing on the current reality in which he lives, I am honored to be a physical product of his goodness and will never forget the many great things his life has brought to mine. The rose he would send would carry the scent of eternal grandpa love, which smells something like chimney fires, newspapers, button up shirts, and Eastern Oregon wind.

grandpa Jack and cousin Hannah, 2009

This week my grandpa's progressing dementia steered him through a stroke. Mom told me Gramps was still a bit responsive, could at least still hear and seemed to recognize words expressed, and that we would be able to call and tell him goodbye. He would hear us.

Since his condition has been somewhat poor for months now, the expectation of his departure was clear, and so there's been a degree or two less heartache to see him get closer to that end. I pressed "call" with remarkable composure.

Tom answered, said things were as stable as they'd be for the next unknowable time. "He's just been waiting for your call." I know Gramps wasn't remembering people lately and how they're connected to him, and Tom was just saying what he said to say something, but it painted in my mind the possibility that though a stroke further immobilized Grandpa's body, perhaps it had unchained his mind, and perhaps he truly was waiting to be reconnected to family, to hear voices, and say goodbye.

Tom asked if I was ready, I said I guess so. I heard some movement, then from a distance Tom's voice said, "K, Em, he can hear you."

That's when I noticed another sound, one that had blended in with Tom's movement so I hadn't recognized it: the soft, uneven rasp of life's surviving breath.

It's a wonder sometimes how an old body sticks around so long when so much of its cognitive functioning has shut down. We take each breath, yet we hardly notice them. It's a perfectly automatic reaction to life. The breath of life. Our souls keep working the diaphragm, pulling, until they're called to another home. My own breath caught in my throat.

"Hey Grandpa. It's Emily. Big Em." I cleared the tightening in my throat with a laugh at my family's nickname to differentiate me from the other Emilys. But the laugh only tipped those inevitable emotions  over the edge of my eyelids.

Strange thing, talking through phones. I was thinking about this the other day: sound travels millions-of-words-a-second fast from one mouth to another ear. We're miles apart yet we're instantly connected through sound.

But silence travels even faster. Knowing he was there, hearing me, but unable to respond . . . that communication transmitted directly, immediately to my heart. I muttered something about gratitude for history and legacy. I kept offering a silent moment ample enough for that warm voice to give even an incoherent reply. I said with a warbling whisper, "I love you, Grandpa."

And then I was quiet. I just listened. And wept. I wanted to tell him more, things going on in my life, but I had this feeling like, in a couple days, he'll be privy to it all, in ways inexpressible, and so the silence felt okay, felt right. It felt like goodbye.

I pictured the home phone resting near his ear, propped on a pillow. I projected myself there, phones connecting and disappearing, relaying more than sound, and I imagined my heart resting on his shoulder and I wrapped his still, breathing, unresponsive body in my love.

Tom picked up the phone and broke the illusory connection projecting through a cascade of tears. "Em, are ya done?"

"Yeah, I'm not really sure what to say, I guess." I was sitting in the hall at school, crying, watching walking people pass in front of me while my ear was linked to the echoes of North Benson Street, Union, Oregon.

I think it is possible to be in two places at once.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Not-so-Super Power?

What shall I compare it to?

A bucket to a well is as I am to people's souls.

A match to a hard, dry surface is as I am to people's souls.

[Photoshop] - Striking Match

As a siren to a sailor, a muse to a musician, a pair of scissors to a puppet's strings.

I've recently realized I have this unspoken ability to charm demons, as it were. Perhaps you have been touched by this "awesome" power of mine. I can think of a few people already who exhibit symptoms of exposure. 

Here, I'll explain.

I'm an honest person. Not perfectly, sure, but I can't stand to house incongruities, unbalanced feelings, unattended weaknesses, disturbances of peace, or unrepentant acts or urges within me. When something's not right, I scour my insides to pinpoint the source and determine a solution. I'm a healer, a peacemaker, a life guard. For myself and, peripherally, for others.

See, I don't take crap from myself. I know when I'm coming up with excuses, justifications—all those limp impostors of security—and when that happens, I smack it away. I always try. Sometimes I'm around others when they start to take crap from themselves. We've all done it. We may or may not know what it looks like as we're doing it, but if you try to be self aware, you'll recognize the crap.

We want to coddle our unconfident emotions, we steam and pout to justify our sour moods and wallow in them longer, we attempt to protect our faltering temperaments by wrapping them in more faulty behaviors. Why do we do that? It's like we enjoy doing things wrong over and over in an attempt to ruin our esteem and potential so we don't have to work as hard to be good. Or maybe because we care so much about our tender centers that we want to keep them from pain—even if that pain refines, purifies, gives true strength and protection.

A prick of the needle to draw blood for the diagnosis is as I am to people's souls.

So when I see this happening in myself, I turn off my usual feelers of tender listening and give myself a "you're excruciatingly stupid if you actually want to put that crap in your mouth" look and vie for a better route to redirect my self-pitying sorrow, unforgiving reaction, unrighteous judgment, irrational fear, crippling self-doubt, etc., to a destination that will bring me back to the still, peaceful feelings of the spirit and restore an inner equilibrium. 

If I see this behavior brewing in others, I try to be their truest friend and smack it away. When they see the "what the heck, don't eat that crap" look on my face, they are often in an emotional state that doesn't handle a lack of tenderness very well. I admit that I'll seem uncaring and unhelpful, but seriously, don't make up crap and take it from yourself. I'm on your side.

But there are other times when I don't realize I'm drawing people to face their demons, when I'm catalyst, impetus to self-inspection, and then I find out later. 


1) Mission companion number five. We struggled a lot. Living together and more importantly working and teaching together without unity was very straining, draining. Eventually I learned my unsettledness was due to my own stingy judging that she was doing things wrong where I was doing them right, and instead of focusing on the who, I focused on the what. What was right? Love and service. So I served her, and that made me love her, and the consequences of that were unity and harmony. And she later told me that because of my being a complete prickle bush stickler for obeying rules (she said to me "at first it felt like I was living with the mission president. That was really hard." ha!) and always pestering for peace, her own testimony (in seemingly unrelated topics) was strengthened. I didn't ever know she juggled those elements of her knowledge of God and the restoration of the gospel, but my own testimony and the way my way of living made her uncomfortable apparently helped her face the unsettled things within herself that she was trying to protect, and she realized she could heal them instead of hide them.

2) A male who wasn't a boyfriend and who got more outta me than a not-boyfriend should. We struggled to meet anywhere close to a middle to decide if we should officially date...lots of back and forth crap. One day, at the pitiful end-part of our non-relationship, he said something like "you've helped me realize I don't want to live the gospel anymore." He explained some things that put ache into my soul. This was a time I wasn't happy for my super power. Sure it wasn't because of me that he had those desires, but I can't help but wonder if our less-than-ideal interaction wasn't impetus for his realization. If it was what he truly desired to do, sooner or later it would have manifested itself in his life. Probably. Perhaps he could have kept going through the motions long enough to realize the benefit in christlike living, but instead I interfered and made things happen faster in his life than they should have. Who knows. I apologized for anything I could claim responsibility for and left him not a bit better than I found him. Maybe.

3) A male who wasn't a boyfriend but who perhaps would have like to have been. He is a quiet sort and he went out of his comfort zone to get to know me and ask me out. I agreed to see if I could be interested as I got to know him better, but ultimately I didn't feel like a good match for him/him for me. And he didn't go away without aches of his own, but he later told me I was impetus in showing him what things within himself needed attention. He would say I did leave him better than I found him. Not that I've "left" him—he's still my friend; I just don't want to think up a different way of saying "leave it better than you found it." 

It's just my general Mary Poppinsy desire to help people get to the honest roots within themselves. I know personally honesty with myself is what has set me free. Maybe this power is what makes me a good editor, too. I try not to use my editing powers on people (people are too complex for there to be "grammatically correct" way to live), but when I see the lies, I don't indulge them. Sorry if you ever encounter this power at a time when all you'd rather want is a hug. I really do need to attach hug powers to the end of my "don't take no crap" powers.

Truth sets free by nature. So I look at myself with a truthoscope and pluck out the lies; apparently I help others do the same. Not always, but quite often, if they get close enough. I've decided overall it's a good thing, if not always immediately, then ultimately. Because the truth will always taste better than crap.

The bucket dipped in an impure well will only offer impure water. Fire will destroy whatever cannot endure it, or will refine what is stronger than it. A diagnosis offers impetus to find a cure. Without the truth we will crumple in weakness. Don't take that untrue crap from yourself or anyone else. Draw from true super powers, wherever they're found, and become your best and true self.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Heroinism Kinda Feels Weird

I can dress the part, but don't know that I'd really be a good heroine. I always feel kinda bad for people—even deserving people—when they get cuffed n' locked up. But, since their own choices lead them into trouble, trouble is wont to befall them—so, better that they take the fewest possible bystanders into trouble with them, right?

Well, if singling out the 'bad guy' and saving possible bystanders is what a heroine does, today I was kind of a heroine.

My roommate and I were driving to go get groceries at Costco, then later to Winco, a trip that took a total of two hours. On our way to Costco it was 6:20pm, about 95 degrees, and traffic was slowly moving north up University Ave.

The pickup truck in front of us was leading a graceful waltz across the painted lines of the road, and he was also starting up from the red lights sluggishly and then driving really slow. As we nervously passed him by, I took a good stare at him. The evening sun filled the cab of his truck, making his bronze skin and orange shirt appear the same in color. His eyes were squinting against the light and his head was nodding under the heavy heat. The poor dude looked exhausted. When his eyes were open, they were hardly slits. He was in a real subconscious gutter . . . if that makes any sense.

It doesn't, really. Oh well.

So, I wasn't sure if his driving was a real emergency (we all get tired, right . . .) but I shot a text to my cop friend and he said that it's a danger and gave me the non-emergency dispatch number, prepping me to have the license number, vehicle description, and direction of travel ready to report. He also told me the driver might be under the influence of something, so it's better to call. Both my roommate and I thought he looked like such a nice, clean, super tired old man—that just never occurred to us. See, I really just give people the benefit of the doubt. I'd be a real sucker of a heroine.

I called 801-852-6210. Call this number if you have questions. If it's an emergency, the number's 911 ;) heh. okay, but really, the first number will ask you first if you want English or Spanish, then all these other "choose [number] if you need [what you need] or stay on the line and you'll be connected with dispatch." There was no "press [number] if you need to report suspicious driving/drivers," so I stayed on the line). When I was connected to the polite and professional female voice, we began communicating, but at this point we were no longer following the dancing, drowsy driver. I'd looked at the license plate, but now that Utah has letters and numbers that aren't segregated, I have a harder time retaining them in my short-term memory. (Does anyone else feel that way?)

"Hello, Provo Police Dispatch."

"Um, hi. I'm calling to report a drowsy driver headed north on University Ave."

"Okay, can you describe the vehicle?"

I proceeded to list things I remembered about the license plate, car, driver, etc. We interrupted each other a couple times, and I felt like a very clumsy, tattle-telling citizen, but she managed to get all she could out of me. She even asked me for my name and phone number, which I was curious about at first, but now it makes sense, cuz if it ever turned out to be a serious matter I reported, they might need to contact me for witness stuffs.

"Okay, we'll send an officer over that way, thanks."

We said our adieus, the voice and I, and then Lori and I commenced our important mission: grocery acquisition.

Two hours later, laden with fine foods and returning home, we were driving south on the same Univ. Ave., and I was actually thinking to myself, "hmm, we'll never know if that guy made it home safe or what." Up ahead I saw some flashing red-and-blues on our side of the road; I hoped there wasn't an accident. Accidents are rarely happy, and they often tend to cause traffic, which is less than happy. But as we cruised at normal speeds closer to the Police SUV, suddenly my mouth dropped.

The SUV was pulled over behind the truck I called in! The drowsy driver wasn't in his truck, and the whole scene just had a strange feel to it—first because I knew I'd had a hand in the deal, and second, because if it had just been a "go home and get some sleep" situation, perhaps the driver would still be in his truck, or at least not closed up in the police car, right? He'd be trying to pass the test of walking in a straight line while trying to touch his fingers to his nose with his eyes closed, and reciting the ABCs backwards. All the cop shows teach us this.

So my roommate and I bubbled with curiosity, mostly amazed that two hours later he was still on the road, this time headed the other direction. Curious, right?

Well, turns out he'd been DUI! What was he U the I of? I don't know, but he'd been seriously swerving. I guess that sucks that he got arrested, will have that on his record, et cetera (because what if he'd never done such a thing before in his life? What if his wife just passed away and he'd irrigated his sorrows with booze? What if somebody slipped something in the manure in the back of his truck and he was just an innocent bystander himself, high off the fumes? See, we just never know), but better that he didn't cause an accident, right? Maybe he'll be smarter in the future and respect the other drivers on the road by not driving when his abilities are seriously impaired.

And I hope he's not sending hate vibes out into the universe toward me. Not that such nega-rays would affect a superb heroine such as myself. . . . This week I donated blood, dropped off your generous birthday-gift donations to United Way, called in a DUI. You know, all in a week's work.

That same roommate and I saved three lives each on Monday. A heroine's life never rests, so long as she has blood in her veins! ;)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

28-year-old To Do List

My poetry teacher last semester had us write up a list of things we would accomplish in the next year, a list with as many items as we will have years behind us. These are the 28 things I came up with.

(1)  Dip naked into water outdoors
(2)  Operate a heavy construction machine
(3)  Romantically share an Umbrella with a man
(4)  Blog once a week
(5)  Listen to a mountain
(6)  Eat a spoonful of sugar after I take some medicine

(7)  Float down the river

(8)  Take a hitchhiker wherever it is he or she needs/wants to go
(9)  Empty my car trunk, vacuum it out
(10)  Take a Nap in a hammock

(11)  Perhaps join a protest

(12)  Ask Jason out (unless he’s gay; then be his friend and find someone else to ask out)
(13)  Narrow down my body fat percentage
(14)  Take a (second) Date to Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors and ask my 31 Flavor Questions while we eat ice cream (but not enough to negate previous item)

(15)  Compose several “poetraits” for family and friends

(16)  Activate a stagnant brother or sister, even just a little
(17)  Dust
(18)  Raise Donations for a charitable organization

(19)  Yoga more

(20)  Actually create definition in my calf muscles
(21)  Take my Nephews on a spectacular outing, maybe to the zoo

(22)  Save money for the future

(23)  Eliminate half my stuff. I obviously don't need what sits in boxes more than half the year
(24)  Investigate something that puzzles me, like the funny bone or Lady Gaga
(25)  Grant a wish
(26)  Have a poem published somewhere awesome
(27)  Send Thank you letters in the mail

(28)  Play the piano more; really learn Clair de Lune

Shall I elaborate a little?

Ones I won't be able to do solely on my onesie, therefore not entirely sure they will happen:
(2), (3), (8), (26)

(1) I've just never done. Not sure I really want to, but, I will be going on a trip to Lake Powell in August...maybe when everyone's asleep I could dip in the lake real quick. Catch some fun disease.

(7) I could do on my own, but that would be lame. I say a river tubing party should be planned soon.

(8) I really want to do. Won't let myself do it alone, though. Safety first!

(9) Not sure I've ever done this. I've had my car 8 years...

(10) the hammock I have recently acquired is actually and unfortunately quite under qualified to assist me here. Perhaps someone I know has a hammock they can spare for one nap?

(11) the perhaps is key, here; I'm very non-protestant. I don't seek out protests. I don't see myself beginning to seek protests. But maybe, because I'm 28 now, I'll make an exception-al effort.

(12) well, since creating this list, I have discovered that this individual is not gay, but he is also not interested even in being my friend, so I will find a substitute, and then ask him out on a date.

(14) So I had this great date idea for a second (or 3rd, 4th, go with what feels right) date. I've been collecting questions in a note in my phone's "notes" app ("what do you have a passion for?" and "what TV series or book would you be a character in?") for a time when I actually get a 2nd/3rd/4th date. We'll go to Baskin Robbins, get a couple scoops of ice cream, and ask and answer 31 questions. We will just melt into each other's hearts during this date, I'm sure. So far my collection is only up to 24, and some of my current questions are unsatisfying. If you have suggestions, please share.

(17) this is something I rarely do. It just comes right back, what's the point...but at least once in this next year of my life I'll wipe up some dust somewhere...

(18) is happening this Saturday! I'm excited. I'm having a "birthday" party but instead of presents for me, I've asked for donations for the Center for Women and Children in Crisis. Click there to see what donation items they need and see if you want to participate. If you're not local, find your own charity to donate to, or this one'll happily take your money, too, I'm sure.

(19), (28) already failing well at these. But, I am signed up for fall classes for both subjects!

(21) can't wait to do this one!

(25) I'd rather enjoy granting the sensible wish of some deserving person, so far as is in my power. I'll make it my next charitable project after this Saturday.

Man, double tens and an eight. At the moment, that seems like a lot. Amazing what twenty-eight years will do to a body and soul.

Grateful to be who I've become, excited for today, happy to care for tomorrow.

And now, for some media

what I had for my birthday dinner. i love me too much; so generous

my lovely co-interns, Katja, Abby, and Holly. We have so much fun. This is them posing with my birthday treat of muffins and popcorn. They are too perfect!

me gazing into the future...or, onto Utah Valley from the Y. My roomies and I hiked the Y on Sunny's birthday.
I would say this proves we hiked up there together, but you can't tell it's us, really. Take my word for it.

I don't know when the tradition began, but I buy myself a coconut for my birthday every year. And generally, this is precisely how I bust it open. I love coconut everything, except for the coconut milk—happy to cook with it, but can't drink that straight!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding My Wings

I had a sudden realization that my life has for years been following quite the symbolic parallel path to one of my childhood favorite movies: Thumbelina. As with most animated fairy tale flicks, I mostly love the music. It isn't until I watch them again when I'm older that I actually see grown up themes in movies.

Like Mary Poppins. Who knew the theme was generally "fathers, spend more time with your kids, and don't let your imagination fade, and certainly never forget to laugh"? As kids, we worried about learning how to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards the way Mary can so easily. (I've actually never tried that, but you know what I mean.)

So up until recently, I've sung and hummed and twirled to the music in Thumbelina, but never really cared to think whether it hid any deeper gems of meaning. But now, every scene, every word has new symbolism to me. First I'll point out the important plot points of Thumbelina, then I'll make 'em shine with romantic symbolism.

Thumbelina, according to Family Feature Films, is a tiny girl, no bigger than a thumb, who grew inside a flower. (I can tell you right now, that's just the introduction—no future symbolism for my life. I went quite the opposite route, reaching a whopping size at least 36-times-cubed bigger than a thumb. But anyway)

When the flower blossoms, she stretches her arms and legs and starts her optimistic journey through life. Always singing and dancing about, she seems not to have a care in the world. However, Thumbelina is troubled: she reads in her fairy tale books about boys and girls falling in love; but she realizes they are usually about the same size. Since she is the only person her size, she feels that finding love will be next to impossible for her.

However, one day she meets her perfect man: he is exactly her size AND he has wings! Doesn't get better than that. Oh, he's a prince, too, so riches, fame, all that. Not only is he attracted to her strange beauty, but he was able to hear the song in her heart (which was conveniently escaping through her mouth) and recognize that she had great depth despite her size. In her own words, the love in her heart shined like "the sun . . . bright and warm and wonderful." Prince Cornelius could see this. 

This is how he made Thumbelina feel:

It's a fun, giggly feeling, as if there were gold-glittering wings in your tummy; I think we've all felt this sensation if we've made it to fifth grade so far.

They spend a magical evening swirling about in the skies, flying into fairy tale love. 

"Every day I'll take you higher, and I'll never let you fall!"
As they serenade the stars with their loving duet, Thumbelina mistakenly gives a certain Spanish toad the impression that she is interested in him. She did not intend to. But toads think what they will. 

He becomes so obsessed with her after one sight that he devises a plan with his bosomy mother to kidnap Thumbelina and bring her home to him to marry her. Creeeeeper.

After a lovely first date, Cornelius's parents (King and Queen of the fairies) call for him to return to their floating, gold-sparkling caravan. Before he leaves, he promises to return for Thumbelina the next day (after asking her to meet his parents, to which she emphatically says "I will! . . . and then, we'll live happily ever after." "oh, much longer," says Cornelius. So, really good first date, I guess).

He does return, laden with excitement, love, and an array of silly gifts only to find Thumbelina missing! Her dog provides Cornelius with the first clue of Thumbelina's whereabouts and the fairy prince speeds off to search for and rescue his true love.

Who, meanwhile, is being forced to dance in the middle of a pond with mamasita toad and her three creepy sons. She is entertained by the thrill of trying something new, for a minute or two, but then she realizes it's just really not what she wants for the rest of her life. 

The crowds cheer and applaud, but the instant the show is over, they all slip beneath the water. Then, like a truly heroic lover, the toad who claims to want to marry Thumbelina leaves with his family to prepare for their wedding, leaving her stranded in the middle of a pond. Their first performance as a couple. Not quite so inspiring as the one the night before.

She cries out for help and her savior comes along in the form of a swallow—a friendly french swallow named Jacquimo. I like Jacquimo.

Jacquimo snips the lily pad loose, and Thumbelina says, "wow, that was easy." She floats along gently, trying to row to shore, but up ahead there's actually a dangerous waterfall and she gets caught in the current, headed straight for it. Jacquimo grabs the lily pad with his wings (which of course we all think he should have used to just fly her out of there, but they only just met, that would be weird to fly around with some stranger, right?..), so then he can't fly and isn't really useful. Mr. Mustached Fish* and his Missus hear their cries for help and come to the rescue. When she's JUST about to go over the falls, Mrs. Fish smacks the entire lily pad into the air. It helps . . . in the sense that the lily pad and Thumbelina don't fall over the edge—but it also knocks her out.

*not actual names of fish
After a few seconds, Thumbelina sits up in a daze and meets the jitterbugs. Rumors boogie quick where Thumbelina comes from and all the jitterbugs know about her date with the fairy prince. They ask if she's really going to marry him. She does this:

"I will if he asks me. He will call for me at my house. Oh, that's why I want to go home."
She adds, "Besides, Mother will be terribly worried. sigh If only I could find my way home."

The jitterbugs instantly volunteer to help her home. She congratulates them on their bravery but admits that she's afraid she'll probably never see her home again. Jacquimo, never to say never, (a true French dreamer . . . or perhaps student to the same master who taught another familiar bird to sing . . .) asks if she loves the prince. She says, "well, yes." "Then follow your heart!" He promises that he will go find the prince and Thumbelina says, "Oh, that's impossible."

Au contraire, mademoiselle. They break it down.

Such a natural thing for birds to sing, and to can-can! As you just heard, they encourage the little, lost Thumbelina that she doesn't need a guiding star or a map, just to trust her internal ticker to make it back home. Home is where her heart was found, where her prince will know where to find her. 

But first, life has a few dangerously thrilling stories for her to gather so she'll have some baggage—er . . . souvenirs to bring home with her. 

Back at the vale of the fairies, Cornelius begs his parents, King and Queen of the change of seasons, to delay the incumbent winter frost as long as they can so he can go rescue his damsel. He races away and then we hear them say they can only hold the frost for at most a day.

Meanwhile, as Thumbelina happily hums her way home, a giantly obnoxious beetle drops from the sky onto her path. He shmoozes her into joining his showgirl lineup at his night club for bugs, because, he says, she's beautiful, delicious, he's crazy about her, he loves the sound of her voice.

Poor naive Thumbelina falls prey to his wiles. He dresses her up to be exactly what he wants, and then puts her on display. During their singing and dancing performance (she does a lot of that, doesn't she), the beetle's nightclub entourage makes fun of her and, because she no longer poses any benefit to his reputation, he kicks her to the curb—but not without first taking back all the nice things he said in order to buy her hopes, and telling her she's ugly. It shocks her.

Me? Ugly?
No one had ever called her ugly before. At least not that she'd ever heard. He was just plain hurtful, that beetle. But Jacquimo comes out of nowhere again to comfort her, reminding her that she doesn't love the beetle, so it doesn't matter what he thinks. She will get home to her prince, who truly loves her—her voice and her—and thinks she's beautiful.

Then, the jitterbugs who were running from the beetle run into the toad and blurt that the beetle took Thumbelina; the toad chases them off and continues his twisted pursuit. Then Jacquimo gets injured, so he's slowed down, and then he gets lost. Then Cornelius finds out about the beetle and the toad, stresses out about the weather (fall and winter arrive in the same day, kinda stressful), doesn't watch where he's flying and falls into a stream and is sealed frozen in the ice. The toad and beetle devise a plan to nab the prince and set a trap for Thumbelina, etc., etc. A bunch of manly drama.

Thumbelina presses forward, but, undernourished and certainly fatigued, she collapses in an abandoned shoe. She is found and dragged, unconscious, underground by Ms. Fieldmouse who has heard all the latest news. She shares what she knows with her new guest: how she knew Thumbelina had been hoping to marry the fairy prince, but how tragic it was now that he had been found stone-cold dead in the ice.

Thumbelina collapses again, this time with sobs, and Ms. Filedmouse apologizes for blurting things out without thinking. She adds, "you're still young, though; you'll find another." Then, of course, Ms. F. breaks into a chipper song about love and marriage, mentioning Romeo and Juliet, how all they ended up getting from their "true" love was death. Without any reason to hope for that love that used to shine in her heart, brightly like the sun, she allows Ms. F to convince her to marry Mr. Mole.

Mr. Mole possesses only one moderately attractive quality: money. Ms. Fieldmouse certainly appreciates that about him. He appreciates music, but he detests the sun, so Thumbelina feels she'll have a hard time communicating with her soon-to-be underground, blind, furry husband. "Winter has killed everything, even the sun," she says as her heart deflates.

Quite honestly, if my hair looks like this on my wedding day I will run away, too.
Wedding plans are put into effect, and as Thumbelina is marching down the aisle, she sees in golden sparkly vision an image of her deepest desires: Cornelius; her hopes for true love will never surrender. And then before I do's can be pronounced, the toad crashes the party, Thumbelina snaps out of it, runs away, finds Jacquimo, they fly together to the vale of the fairies (don't know why they didn't just fly home in the first place, right? We'll discuss this later), no one's there, Thumbelina is kind of sad, but Jacquimo tells her to sing. The song in her heart, of love bright as the sun, causes the ice and snow to start melting and the flowers to bloom. Just when she's feeling like none of her effort is working, that Prince Cornelius is dead and is never coming back, the man himself bursts in behind her, singing where the swelling music is carrying us to the climax of the film:

"And I'll never let you fall!"

Of course Thumbelina is deliriously, disbelievingly happy to see her prince.

They kiss

which is always a bit awkward for animated persons, don't you think?

They get married

Her love and marriage give her wings

And, surrounded by the swelling voices of the ubiquitous choir of animated fairy tale movies singing the moral of the story, "and always follow your heart," the two fairy lovers fly off to live " 'appily ever after" (as narrated by Jacquimo, in his french accent).

Hooray, we're happy, we can't believe she overcame so many seemingly impossible obstacles, we applaud monumental love in tiny people. Then we hit stop/rewind. Or at least we used to. Back when this movie first came out. When I was ten...

Okay, now for [my] life's parallelisms:

Skip all that being born and feeling so small in the world stuff. Happens to everyone. We're going to start at the beginning of romantic love. In the movie, that moment of knowing when Thumbelina meets and falls for Cornelius, I equate this with a sort of in-born hope and desire for our heart's dream to have a warm, wonderful, sun-bright love. The more people we meet, the more experiences we have, the better we come to know what this dream within us looks and feels like. It's going to be unique for each person: some dreamers may have their hearts set on the toads, beetles, and moles of this earth, so let's not judge!

Personally, I don't like forceful creepers (especially those still living with mom), manipulative jerks, or the blind, indifferent, self-satisfied bachelors. Though few men actually fit such cookie cutter stereotypes, I've dated guys with some of the basic characteristics portrayed by these critters, and those dating periods were just . . . not fun.

Anyway, it would seem in life that just as soon as we envision this beautiful dream of what we believe we can't (or would rather not) live without, inevitably something steals us away, breaks us apart, takes us from familiar comfort. And if this has never happened to you, actually you should let it, otherwise you will never appreciate when love is replacing sacrifice in your life.

This doesn't mean you fall for anyone anywhere just to get your heart broken. I mean you can't appreciate love unless you know loss. And so that could be a loss of personal confidence (which usually happens somewhere between ages 10 and 18, repeatedly), a loss of anyone you've ever loved (friend, grandparent, parent, pet, etc.), and these losses just get the heart ready to pump for love, something our hearts hadn't quite understood before loss, and therefore dutifully just pumped our blood.

Personally, I've always wanted to marry in a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because then I have the opportunity to make an eternal covenant and make my marriage last forever. 

Once I love someone completely enough to give him my whole heart, I won't handle it well if I'm forced to give that up just for some pesky interruption called death. No, if God can seal it on earth it will be sealed beyond earth. That's what I want.

I also want a man who will be patient with my foibles as well as my greater short-comings. He'll have to be ready to forgive me 70x7 for leaving cupboard doors open in the kitchen, and he'll have to be patient with my somewhat bossy and stubborn side. He'll also want to like living the gospel of Jesus Christ rather precisely or I'll drive him crazy with my polite suggestions that we try to do better at keeping commandments. (It is the least fun thing to date someone incompatible with the way you live your faith. So tiring, draining; it does not give me wings.) Besides, some commandments are really just so simple to keep.

Commandment example: I personally love me a Sabbath day, and keeping it holy, to me, includes: not doing homework/work/studying/the secular learning I should have scheduled into the first 6 days of the week; avoiding, as much as possible, travel and spending; going to church and other necessary meetings; avoiding T.V. (especially sports. blah. I like watching sports, don't get me wrong. But sports on Sunday is, in my opinion, the lamest possible pastime. It will not happen in my home, the end.) and rather, watching uplifting or wholesome movies—I'm all about movies (for example, Thumbelina would be a great Sunday film); studying scriptures and other manuals; writing letters, blogging, singing, etc.; doing some family history stuff; meeting with friends and family; preparing and eating delicious dinners and desserts; playing board/card/group games; walks; naps. Whatever brings us together as a couple, as roommates, as a family, which is lovely, praiseworthy, uplifting or wholesome—I seek after these things for a Sunday.

Basically I want a man who would love to tag along in a lot of the same things I love doing: do the church things, go to the temple, travel and go camping when time and money permit, learn, read, develop talents, sing, play other musical instruments, write (or at least appreciate that I write), cook, eat, have deep discussions, kiss a lot, and love even more. And then I'm earnestly happy to add his interests to my interests, too. I dream of some basic commonalities, and then to have him add to my life every wonderful thing that he's made of.

Basically, the words of the first duet in the film describe my desires in a relationship: "let me be your wings, let me take you high above . . . anything that you desire, anything at all . . . every day I'll take you higher, and I'll never let you fall . . . heaven isn't too far, heaven is where you are . . ." etc. A mutually lifting and enabling and cherishing relationship.

The first few guys I dated (age 16-21; I dated 4) were guys I could have married in a temple. But, it just didn't work out for other mismatched reasons, and that's A-okay. All of them are married now, to fine wonderful girls well-suited for their own hopes and dreams.

Then I dated one that I couldn't marry in the temple. He was perfect in every way except that I couldn't marry him. So why I chose to decide that he should have my heart, that I was definitely going to marry him (I just knew it would happen, somehow), I don't know. Our heart seldom reasons well with our mind, nor with our dreams sometimes! What I tried to do was force my dream to come true out of a situation where it simply wouldn't happen. Couldn't happen.

When this boy and I broke things off, I thought it would be impossible for me to find my heart again. But a friendly Savior told me, "Nothing is impossible! You're sure to fly on magical wings, if you follow your heart." My heart told me to break it off, I trusted it. It was the hardest, most uncomfortable thing my heart had ever done. But then it got less hard. And then the pain went away. I was comforted. The love in my heart is bright again, warm and wonderful, ready to be found by someone who will never let me fall.

I wasn't immediately flown to safety, returned home to familiarity. Basically, I had changed too much, gone too far from who I'd once known myself to be, so I had to discover my heart anew. If my savior bird had flittered me off to where I'd been before, it would have done more harm than good. I had a few lessons to learn before I would find my heart again.

But, that journey was littered with a lot of poor choices in dating. Not many toads, I suppose. I have given some boys the wrong idea before, but from a very young age I recognized what it felt like to be used by someone I liked, and to get nothing in return. I never wanted to be insincere or abusive with anyone's feelings, so if I don't like a boy, I let it be known. And if he continues to act on his unreciprocated feelings, he's free to do so, but I will not take advantage of that. I will never fear to remind him he won't be getting what he's hopping for—er, HOPE-ing for.

But I have dated quite a few beetles. Way too many. . . . They didn't seem so roach-ish at first) because they're usually good boys who go to the temple), but a selfish, manipulative interior can only hide for so long. I don't know how I found so many . . . At first I really thought it was me: either I was naturally attracted to exactly the wrong guys, or I was a poor, sappy fool who fell for wiles shrouded in charm.

Seriously . . . watch this part. He's unbelievable.

All he wanted was his way, a star for the show that revolved around him, something to make him look good, and he didn't care what he'd have to say to get it. He never wanted Thumbelina for who she was, just for how she could make him feel and look good for a time. She was entirely disposable.

One guy that I went on a lot of dates with, and ended up kissing, totally treated me like this. He broke me. I didn't know I was so breakable, actually. After having had a boyfriend I was sure I'd marry, I had a frustratingly hard time finding a way to fit with other guys; it's a definite challenge. I don't even remember now why I felt like I had anything to prove to this guy, but at the time I did; I felt I needed his approval somehow. He hardly ever said anything nice about/to me, I felt like I had to be someone I naturally wasn't.

At the lousy end of our song and dance performance together, he didn't call me ugly (the only thing he ever did reassure me about was that I was "hot"); no, he called me boring. That's when it was my turn to be shocked. Wha? 

ME? boring?

I definitely knew I'd never been bored being me, so finally I understood that this guy was no good for me, a zero on the marriage meter, even though he was fully capable to go to the temple and, actually, frequently attended for service to others. He has his good qualities, sure, but he and I together had very few loving compatibilities.

There was something about the way he treated me like an instrument solely for his entertainment that totally devalued me, and it hurt me at a time I was already numb from that previous loss of long-time love. Somehow I felt like no one would see the me who had been loved before, and I would only be seen as boring. So I "broke" up with myself, sealed that lovable me away, not to be seen or known by, unfortunately, several more manipulative beetles.

Fortunately, my savior bird was constantly returning to comfort me. My healing would take a lot of patient wisdom on his part, because I wasn't letting myself remember who I was.

"Do you love ze beetle?" "No." "Then never mind ze beetle. Good riddance to ze beetle. And good riddance to ze toad!"
He will find the vale of the fairies [fulfill my dreams] if I do all I can to make my way home [continue my life journey with faith, hope, and trust].

Beetle boys, you know the kind: their outer shell is usually shiny and attractive, but it's easily breakable, and what you find underneath if you press for depth (which you should if you want to get married) is slimy, gross, and often smelly. Most beetles have wings, which, we remember, is what we're looking for, so this gets us excited at first! But usually those are shrouded and encased in their hard outer shell. They don't use them often, and certainly not for the benefit of anyone but themselves. They get all touchy-feely to coax a girl into trusting them, they kiss and hold and compliment so they can satisfy curiosity and selfish, lustful desires. Then, once they realize they aren't getting what they want, they shoo away the girl, most often with no explanation at all. If they do say something, it's very excusatory, vague, untruthful. I don't think they'll ever find what they want because they always just want more. They want to want. Until they figure out how to give of themselves, they'll never be satisfied.

My own lineup of beetle boys was a long, non-nourishing stretch wherein the warmth and light of my heart's desires definitely felt as though they were being dragged, unconscious, underground.

I've never had to surrender to a forced almost-marriage against my will the way Thumbelina did after her heart was numbed and dragged underground by loss. I've never been engaged, never gotten to that point, but still, I have dated some moles. Basically a girl needs to have reached a certain numbness by the time she runs into the moles of life to consider dating one.

Moles are a little older, more established, burrowed deeply in their lives, careers, etc. It's hard for them to see where another will fit in to their life. The longer they stay focused on perfecting their own domain, the harder it becomes to find the perfect girl to fit there. Also, moles don't have a lot of time to waste . . . so you'd think they'd take it slow, get to know a lot of girls before narrowing it down to the one he'll date, kiss, pursue with focus. But they're getting antsy, which is a muted way of saying horny. And, moles just love digging holes. Instead of one tunnel toward one heart, it's a confusing maze of non-committal make out sessions with a variety of girls, because he thinks this will help him figure out whom he loves. And he thinks this because he's blind and has a tiny brain.

Well, the last guy I semi-dated was a mole. He disappeared back into the ground without a word after a couple months of very convincing affection. And you know, if I'm not right for him I'd much rather him scurry away; but really, there's no reason to be so cowardly as to not say a word, right?

Then the last guy I kissed, he was a young beetle. After our first date we kissed . . . for a while. He got his fill and never talked to me again. My numbness allowed for this to not affect the locked-away lovable me. But I was still so tired of being that girl, the one without depth, who would just kiss any old/young beetle/toad/mole.

I decided, made a promise to my savior bird: "the next man I kiss I will actually date and intend to love." I've already been put to the test on that promise, and I've held true. I want to be proven faithful to myself before I add anyone to my life. It's a strengthening, glorious feeling to make and keep a positive promise to yourself.

And then something wonderful happened: finally, something clicked, I snapped out of my gloomy numbness. I ran away from the mole, the toad, the beetle. I let it all go; I trusted my heart again. I climbed above ground and felt the sun shine again on my face. After all this time, effort, a realization here, a good choice there: my heart is healed. Because I was finally ready, my savior bird swooped in and flew me to the vale of the fairies. He is my sure source of wings no matter the loss or findings in my life. My heart could finally sing again, and the warmth and wonder and brightness returned, melted the ice, blossomed open and released the sealed-away lovable me. She didn't escape because I'm married, engaged, or even dating anyone: I'm not. But I don't need those to have love. I just needed time and faith and trust . . . and guts, man. That was a rough trip. But I made it. I'm free from myself because I'm going to trust again. I'm happy.

Happy to be me. Ready for my wedding wings, whenever they come.

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