Saturday, July 23, 2005

Published July 23, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I'm sure you're all sick of my whining about the summer temperatures. Let me offer my apologies and an explanation. I have just been diagnosed by a mental health expert on a reputable website called askaquack.com with Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.


If you're familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD, its eerily appropriate acronym), you'll know that it is a form of depression that presents itself in the winter months and is thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight and its effect on the hypothalamus. Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, which occurs in 1/10th of all cases of SAD, is depression which finds its onset in the summer months.

Not to impugn the reputation of askaquack.com, but I'm not sure I agree with their diagnosis. Summer makes me feel sad, cranky, annoyed, and hopeless, but it wasn't always this way. When I lived in Kingsville, TX, where the humidity made every day a wet t-shirt contest and hot winds blew strong enough to give Hurricane a run for its money, I managed to keep on a happy face. In Del Rio, TX, desert temperatures often reached as high as 115, and still I noticed no measurable change in my cheerful mood.

The problem seems to have begun when I moved to the great state of Utah, and the city of St. George in particular. It seems I have a version of SAD that is, as yet, undiagnosed. I'm on the cutting edge of mental health exploration, and I didn't even know it!

I thought about calling my ailment Utah Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (URSAD), but the acronym seemed a bit accusatory. So, I changed it to InterMountain Seasonal Affective Disorder (IMSAD) as it summed up my own feelings rather well. Then I realized that seemed exclusionary, and since many others are feeling the same way, I changed it again to Utah State Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (USRSAD), but of course, the atrocious use of grammar kept me from using that.
 
When I really got down to thinking about it, I realized the state itself is not to blame as much as the practices of its people. Summer never caused a problem before because I lived in areas that understood the value of central air conditioning. When temps climbed, all I had to do was run from my air conditioned car to my air conditioned house, and life was good.


Here in Southern Utah, I'm subjected instead to the "energy efficient", "environmentally friendly," ultimately depressing invention called the Swamp Cooler, a machine that is purported to lower the temperature in my house as much as 20 degrees below the outside temperature. Yesterday, it was 115 degrees outside. You do the math!

This brings up a whole new list of possibilities for the name of my disease. How about No Air Conditioning Affective Disorder (NACAD)? Sounds too much like naked, which is what I'd like to be right now.

Swamp Cooler's INeffective Disorder (SCID) makes a lot of sense, as my cooler is thoroughly ineffective at cooling my house in the face of any humidity or triple digit temperatures. It might also be fun to tell people I live in the SCIDS.

I'm thinking I'll end up calling my disorder People Are Big Fat Liars And The Next Person Who Says A Swamp Cooler Works As Well As An Air Conditioner Will Get A Kick In The Head Disorder (PABFLATNPWSASCWAWAAACWGAKITHD). It's hard to pronounce, isn't clever at all, but I think it truly captures my suffering.

That, and I like the thought of my insurance company having to cover my kickboxing classes.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Published May 21, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

It's 2005.


I just thought I'd let you know.

Ten years ago, Braveheart swept the Oscars. Ten years ago, the blue M&M candy made its glorious, chocolaty debut. And ten years ago, I met, courted, and married the man I still consider the best thing the world has seen since, well, the blue M&M.

Being in my tenth year of marriage is my newest "goofy happy thing," I think. In fact, ever since our ninth anniversary, last October, I've been so excited to be in my tenth year of marriage that I have yet to actually utter the words, "We've been married nine years." I skipped year nine and went straight to, "We've been married nearly ten years," and called it good.

Even though I know marriage is a journey and not a destination, the whole ten year thing creates the distinct feeling of having "arrived." (Upon learning that the symbol for the tenth anniversary is tin, I'm feeling like we've arrived in Funkytown, but that's neither here nor there.

Looking over the past decade of matrimony, I'm happy to say we've done much of what I had planned for us. From blind, newlywed bless to young parenthood to the settled comfort of double digits, we've had almost all of the experiences and honored almost all of the traditions I could have hoped for.


Almost...

Sadly, one very important detail has been overlooked in our happy time together. In all these years, through all our experiences, Aaron and I still have not acquired "our song."

It's shocking and shameful, I know! Week in and week out, I hold our marriage up as an example of true happiness and bonded bliss, and now you know. We're frauds!

It's not for lack of trying either. We've been on the lookout (or would it be "hearout?") for the perfect song since the moment we met, but none has ever caused the visceral, bells-ringing/angels-singing/heavens-parting kind of clarity we always assumed would accompany the discovery of "our song."

Maybe I'm making this harder than it has to be. Maybe other couples just hear something over the radio and say, "Yeah...that one'll work." Maybe I've heard "our song" every other week for ten years and never recognized it because I was waiting for a burning bush or a couple of stone tablets to spell it out for me.


Either way, I am resolved that by midnight on our 10th anniversary Aaron and I will have found a song that is the perfect musical expression of the love we share for each other. We will gaze deeply into each other's eyes every time we hear it play, and we will dance to it at our 50th anniversary party and bring tears to the eyes of our posterity.

So far, I've narrowed it down to Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious" and "The Hokey Pokey" but I'm open for suggestions.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Finding joy in the goofy and the happy

Published April 9, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

A very good friend of mine has a daughter who celebrated her 16th birthday a week ago today. In the grand tradition of 16 year olds, Charly has decided the time has come to trade her after school time for a hard earned paycheck and get a job.


Filling out an application, she came upon a series of lines meant for personal references. As you know, a reference should be someone who is not a family member, knows the applicant well, and can attest to his or her skills and positive attributes as a potential employee. A reference can make or break an applicant in some jobs.

And whom did she choose to fill this challenging and illustrious role, do you ask? Why, me.

What a feeling! Out of all the people in all of Southern Utah, she picks ME! How cool is that? I, Sarah Wilson, have the honor and responsibility of speaking to the abilities and strengths of Charly, a teen on her way to a bright future surely filled with fame and fortune.

I can see Charly now, standing tall in a shimmering dress, beautiful face aglow as she clutches her Oscar or Emmy or Tony, as the case may be. Just before the orchestra cuts her off she'll say, " And I'd like to thank Sarah Wilson for believing in me and giving me the start I needed that got me here today."

Okay, so maybe I'm getting a little carried away here (just a little). In the interest of clarity, I will explain. Charly's request is what I lovingly refer to as a "Goofy Happy Thing."

A Goofy Happy Thing is anything in life that is completely mundane to the average person but has the effect of creating spontaneous, silly excitement in you. In other words, a normal person might feel slightly flattered at being asked to serve as a reference for a kind and capable teen. Ask me, and I'm instantly skipping down the street without a care in the world.

You may think this is a phenomenon specific to me, but I challenge you to look closely at your own life. We all have our Goofy Happy Things. If more people recognized the goofy and the happy in life, the world would be a better place.

If you're having a hard time finding your own Goofy Happy Thing, I'll let you borrow a few of mine for now, namely: Finding pieces of cereal stuck together in my bowl; winning a particularly difficult game of Minesweeper (expert level, if I do say so, myself); finding someone who has actually heard of the Hall and Oates song, "Sara Smile;" pink footed pajamas on a three year old.

Oh, and fan mail that includes chocolate...lots of chocolate.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Published April 2, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News
I remember a day long ago when I thought I was losing my mother to some sort of insidious brain disease. My good friend, Joi, called and I asked Mom if I could spend a few hours at her house.

Mom grilled me on whether or not my chores were done, whether or not her parents would be home, and what time I was planning on being back, then gave me the hoped for consent. I hurried to get my coat and headed out the front door.

"Where are you going?" came a voice from the kitchen. There was my mother, standing in the dining room doorway, looking confused. The time lapse between permission and repression? About 1 minute. Inwardly, I cried a plaintive, 12 year old cry and thought, my mother is losing her mind!

Years later, I talked with her about her absent mindedness. She said she first started noticing it during pregnancy, and indeed, it is something most pregnant women experience as a temporary side effect. However, her next words were, "after your brother...it just never went away...What did you say, dear?"

Fast forward to the present. I realized I had left the upstairs cordless phone downstairs, so I hurried down to retrieve it. Upon descending the bottom step, I looked into my family room and thought, "Why did I come down here, again?" I didn't remember for another hour.

I wouldn't be worried except that exact scenario happened 18 times today. Whether I was searching for a hook for hanging aprons or needing something from the chest freezer in the laundry room, by the time I made it down the small flights of stairs in our split level home, I had forgotten why I even started.

They say the memory is the first thing to go, and people, it done gone. There's a cutesy little wall hanging I see for sale now and then that says, "Of all the things I've lost...I miss my mind the most." I laugh hysterically every time I see one, probably because I think it's the first time I've ever seen it.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I had my fifth child just four months ago, at the same age my mother was when she had HER fifth and the absent mindedness settled in for good. It's just par for the mothering course, I guess. And when I say course, I mean one of those thingies where you take the doohickey and hit it with the thingamajig.

Of course, senility at 28 isn't all downside. There's comfort in knowing I'll never remember bad news (Iraq WHO?). It gives me something new to blame on my children, and that's always good (up 'til now all I had was gray hair and broken Precious Moments figurines). And speaking of gray hair...nope, I've lost it...and it was going to be a funny one...I think.

What did you say, dear?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sarah, the Waterbed Conqueror

Published February 20, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Today is a day that will go down in history as a day of mighty triumph for me. I am no longer Sarah Wilson, mild mannered wife and mother. I am Sarah, conqueror of the waterbed! If you're feeling adventurous and are willing to sign a waiver absolving The Spectrum of any liability, I'll tell you the harrowing tale.


The waterbed in my master bedroom knew its days were numbered. Years of maintenance and thankless drudgery were at an end as I approached with an arrogant swagger and an uncommon temerity.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?" I asked. The bed just stared back in cool defiance. Just try, it seemed to reply. Something in that bed knew my husband wasn't home to help. But that bed didn't know me well enough. When there's a job to be done, I'm 40% impatient urgency, 60% stubborn spunk, heavy on the stubborn.

Throwing back my head in a laugh of evil delight, I wrestled a hose into the spout of the mattress and threw open the faucet in my laundry room sink. Nothing... I readjusted the hose, checked the connections, and again turned on the water. Again, nothing.

Somewhere in the murky depths inside that mattress, I heard a snicker. Surveying my hose, with it's brand name of "Cheap" prominently displayed, I saw a long row of tight kinks. Blast those infernal kinks!

I descended upon the home of my unsuspecting neighbor.

"My kingdom for a hose!" I cried. They quickly produced one, eager to rid their home of this crazy woman. With the new hose in my arsenal, I knew victory would be mine, and the cocky mattress was dispensed with quickly and methodically.

I fought a few more minor battles before the deed was done. I had to enlist my young children in the task of moving the new, king sized mattress into my room ("One...two...three...PUSH!") only to learn it didn't fit within the waterbed frame. Dismantling the frame took longer than planned because of an insurgency of stubborn screws, but with the Power Drill of Destiny, I claimed victory.

It probably would have been easier to wait until this weekend to tackle the bed with the aid of my husband's strength and know how. However, had I done that, I would not have the story to tell, and I would have lived out the rest of my life without ever knowing my full, bed conquering potential. Aaron, on the other hand, gets this opportunity all the time.

For instance, tomorrow morning will be quite character building for him when he discovers the deflated mattress in the shower.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I don't wanna be a cub scout mom!

Published January 22, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News
My oldest child turned eight just before Christmas. Aside from feeling much more elderly than I should, I think I'm handling having an eight year old really well...or I was, up until the moment a woman at church handed me a rectangular package, disingenuously wrapped in bright Christmas paper.

What could it be? Chocolate? A small jewelry box? A million dollars? Alas, the trickster in the pretty dress had something else in mind. Under the deceptive wrapping was revealed a kit containing a block of pine, four wheels, axels, and numbered stickers. What kind of Christmas present was this??

And then it hit me like a model car flying off a homemade racetrack...my son is a Cub Scout.

A Cub Scout? Ray? How can this be? He was in preschool, like, yesterday. He can't possibly be ready to be a scout! Scouts sleep in the woods and light fires and eat bugs. I'm not ready to have a woods-sleeping, fire-lighting, bug-eating scout in the house!

Obviously, I'm coming into this from a difficult space, ie., womanhood. Having never been a scout, I'm just a little bit scared. I was one of four girls. I don't know nothing 'bout raisin' no scout!

I did have a brother, but a four year age difference and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry kept me from paying too much attention to his scouting activities. I do remember him being turned upside down in front of a large group of people once, but I just assumed that was the universe finally giving him the humiliation he so rightfully deserved.

Of course, I should remember that I'm not alone in the scout raising. My husband, through diligence and hard work (and parents who wouldn't let him get his driver's license until he did it) achieved the Eagle Scout level in the Boy Scouts. That's right, he's a bug eater too...a Boy Scout through and through.

This fact became apparent tonight as he, ahem, "helped" Ray carve and put together the pinewood derby car from the box. I've never seen man so obsessed with a piece of wood and four wheels before. After the official Derby's Eve weigh in, it was obvious my husband was not alone. I'm not sure I want to know how competitive they'll all be when the actual race begins
 
Thinking about this development more rationally, I know I'll probably make it through the next eight years of merit badges and campouts (and the eight years after that, while Michael is a scout). After all, I've got a husband to help with the really tough stuff. I've got it pretty easy! Just a little bit of sewing...yeah...sewing...


Aw, dang.