Tuesday, January 22, 2013

someday we'll find it

the lovers
the dreamers
and me
fan art by lookgreatbegood from Tumblr
via facebook

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

it gets better

there wasn't even digital color
correction back then...
 on Christmas morning, my mom unwrapped a small box labeled as a photo negative scanner.
"oh, well, we all know how much i love technology," she said wryly.
after all these years, we have learned that.
"no, that's not your present," i quickly said.
"oh! is there something different inside the box?"
being that my mom has employed many varied and creative methods of wrapping and disguising presents over the years, this was a very reasonable question.
"um, no," i began. "the scanner isn't exactly your present. your present is that i'm going to go through all of our old family photos and scan them so that we can have them digitally."
thankfully, she was actually quite happy about this being her present.

and so, each night after the nephews were tucked in, i sat at the kitchen table and scanned hundreds and hundreds of old strips of film while my brother-in-law and i went through the lord of the rings trilogy. by the time i had to come back to texas, i had done the bulk of 1978-1995 and seen a lot of pictures i hadn't seen in years, if ever.

no, a lot of the photos aren't that good, and when you're shooting on film, you can't check to make sure it was a good shot of someone, nor can you take a lot and just keep your favorite. most years would have a dozen pictures from Christmas, compared to this year where i think i took 87 on Christmas morning and then edited down to the best ones on my mac.

but looking back on me and my family in the 80s and 90s was interesting. as i've gotten burned out and tired of and even a little annoyed at my nephews after only a few hours, i've developed new respect for my sister and all mothers and parents who do that all the time. and so i looked at those family moments in a new perspective, since i am now probably closer to my parents' age in those pictures than i am to myself at that time.

it was hard sometimes. kids are annoying. obnoxious. ungrateful. i can say that because i know i was. me and my brother and sister fought with each other. me taking advantage of my little brother or bugged by my sister. things got broken or the dog ran off because no one was keeping an eye on her and huskies are born to explore. and life is just hard and unglamorous most of the time. in a very real sense, looking over these pictures left me very grateful that my parents didn't give up in any number of ways that they could have.

my family is now spread out in four part all over the united states, all with individual lives. but everyone was able to come home for Christmas this year, something i took for granted only a few years ago. there were ten different stockings hung by the fireplace and the house was a home, warm and full. there are no estranged siblings and there were no fights. i daresay that everyone would agree that this was one of the best Christmases we've had (in part because i didn't screw it up.)

and i wish i could step back into one of those kodak negatives and show that family a few of the pictures from last month. not only would they be amazed with digital photography, but i'd want them to know to not give up, because they will make it. the trials will pass, the stresses lighten, and the questions will be answered. it'll work out. really well, actually.

i can't do that. but i can remind myself of that. that as i'm fighting through grad school, wanting to do well in a competitive industry, and wondering if we'll ever have to make room for a new stocking next to mine on the fireplace, yes, things don't stay the same forever.
and if you stick with it, it does get better.

post script: in case anyone out there has been thinking that they should get around to scanning their old pictures, here's the one i used. it's $30 and i've done over 3,000 pictures without any problem.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


there's a song called "thirty-three"
and another called "1979." that's
kind of my album right now, i guess
a few months ago i wrote about how i still act like i'm 25 and, for all intents and purposes, i may as well be.
the truth of it is that i am thirty-three years old. and my self-described "by the book" bishop felt it was time that i "transition" into a family ward. i smiled a little when he cited how the age gap gets bigger and it can make some of the younger girls feel a little uncomfortable, since cassidy is arguably my best friend at church and i think she'll be 20 this year. so i managed to talk myself in to amnesty until the end of the year. today, after twelve years, seven wards, and a whole lot of sunday school lessons, i went to a family ward.

i knew half a dozen couples from the ysa ward and after sacrament meeting i leaned forward and said hi to a couple.
"jeff! what are you doing here?"
"i'm in the ward now."
"not quite."
"you're engaged??"
"kicked out."

if getting married is referred to as "graduating" from a singles ward, i think of myself as having my g.e.d.

still, it's a friendly ward. in addition to the people i knew already, i had three or four people, generally in the borderline-overly-friendly-elderly-person group, introduce themselves to me before the service even started. that was nice and i think it'll be fine here. i did smile a little when one friend from church texted that she missed me and that i should still come to institute (which was my plan, anyway.) the sunday school president texted me also, saying that he missed me.

but, like i said, i'm 33 now. one of my friends that i grew up with in fargo was just called into the bishopric there and another is a high counsellor in the stake. time goes on, we grow up.

and while i'll always be me, i'm trying to grow up in some ways. elder christofferson's talk from last october's priesthood session was my favorite of the conference, a whole talk around the idea of "arise from the dust my sons, and be men." this line stuck with me:
In an observation that is too often accurate, one university professor remarked, “The men come into class with their backward baseball caps and [their lame] the ‘word processor ate my homework’ excuses. Meanwhile, the women are checking their day planners and asking for recommendations for law school.”
and it just prodded me to straighten up a bit and take my last (hopefully) year of school a little more seriously. i spent yesterday looking at my finances and am working to keep better track of where my money goes. i'm putting more thought into what i eat and going running every couple of nights (and loving my new ipod.)

there's a part of me that will always be 25 (or 17) at heart.
i like that about me.
but i'm growing up as well. and i like that part, too.

Friday, January 11, 2013


i originally intended to post this on Christmas eve.
i'm just now getting to it.

december 24, 2012 3:34 a.m. (so technically it's Christmas day)

everyone is home.

i used to find it a little odd when friends would talk about how their whole family would be coming home for Christmas that year. that's what you do at Christmas. why wouldn't your whole family come home?

but then life went on. my sister got married but brady came home and the family was a little bigger, not smaller (which was nice, since i remember the three of us getting home the year before and it seeming a little... stale?) then there was a little nephew to join the year after. but growing families mean stretching a young family budget and becky and brady weren't able to come home one year.

last year tim and lyndsie came home, but becky and her family celebrated out in seattle. me and tim and lynds had a good time and made the most of it, but still wasn't the same. it's how life goes. and soon it was a year and a half since i had seen my sister and her family. i used to see them every week.

but tonight becky and brady and caleb and isaac and annie flew into salt lake. i hadn't seen caleb for about a third of his life, yet my time with him for the first two years of his life imprinted me well, because he was thrilled to see uncle jeff again. and his younger brother, as with everything else, did the same.

a few hours later my dad and i were back at the small fargo airport, hugging my brother and his wife. and every room in the house was again full.

once the little kids were in bed, the big kids were up for a several more hours, talking and laughing and wrapping presents. i revealed that mom and i had bought four nerf(-like) dart guns for us to unwrap and  play with tomorrow morning and, in our own "gift the magi" way, becky said that she'd bought little dart guns for her boys. so that should be a good time.

now, everyone is asleep. i've wrapped my dad's present to my mom and helped my mom set out my her present to my dad. we've helped santa fill ten stocking hung by the fireplace and becky has promised that she'll hold the boys from waking me until 8:00 if she can.

this fall i took an institute class on the writings of isaiah. we spent a lot of time on chapters 52-53, probably the most well-known sections of the book. isaiah 52:7 begins with
how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace;
my teacher told us that the hebrew word for "beautiful" in that verse is the word nauvoo. it means not only "beautiful" but "suitable." the root connotes "properly to be at home, to be pleasant or suitable," and carries the idea of being at home, being satisfied.

tonight, with my whole family together for Christmas, that is how i feel.
at home.