Wednesday, March 14, 2012


When I was in third grade, there was a kid in my class, Eddie, who was even more of a nerd than I was. He had super thick glasses, super skinny arms, and he went around saying things like "Do you know what the cubed root of 64 is?" When we had a class assignment to memorize the first paragraph of the Gettysburg Address, Eddie memorized the whole thing. I don't remember him having any friends really, though I do remember going to his house once to play Acquire. I suspect that his existence is one of the main reasons that I survived that year relatively unscathed when school bullies came looking for the weakest prey to pick on.

I remember one day after class, he came running out ahead of me, pursued by one of the bigger kids in the class. I don't remember what exactly went through my head, but I chased the bigger kid down and squeezed the back of his neck so he fell to the ground, giving Eddie the chance to get away. I then bravely ran away myself before this bigger kid had the chance to get back up. This was probably the most heroic thing I've ever done.

I am not sure what has happened since then.

Several years ago, I remember walking through town, and I saw something happening about 100 feet away on a side street. There was a kid with a bike, backed up against a wall and surrounded by 3 other kids. The kid with the bike looked terrified. I was much larger than any of the kids there; probably if I even just shouted something, the three other kids would've cleared out and the Bike Kid would have been able to get home safe that day. Instead I walked by quietly. I still picture that kid's face every once in a while. Doing nothing in that circumstance is probably one of my biggest regrets.

I think that as one who was at high-risk for teasing and bullying in elementary school, I learned to blend into the background and not make waves; you don't bully someone you don't think about. I do remember the "tougher" kids kicking down my snowmen I would make during recess, but I can't remember any other particular instances when I was the victim of targeted bullying. I stayed out of their way for a few years, and by high school I could almost completely avoid them by taking honors courses. Even now, however, certain sorts of people still really intimidate me, which I think is why I did nothing to help the Bike Kid years later.

I recently read The Help, and it got me thinking about these issues again. This book tells the story of several courageous women who risk everything for the cause of civil rights. I think that I'm at an age now where I have fewer chances to chase down and tackle people who are victimizing those weaker than them, but I do think that there are several instances still where I can stand up for other people and for principles that are important to me. Many of these instances may not be as dramatic as putting life and limb on the line, but they may be just as heroic.

Friday, January 6, 2012


My brother was making his End of Year video for his family and he mentioned to me that he had a clip of me making one of my traditional self-analyzing comments. I think that this one was, "I think that I eat as much candy as the average person; I just do it by eating a four-pound bucket of Red Vines a couple times a year."

Self-analysis is not an aspect of my personality that I had ever acknowledged before, which is a little ironic if you think about it. (Or is it? I always nervous about calling something ironic because I know that literary-types like to rip into that one.) But after he said it, I realized that he was absolutely right. I spend an awful lot of time thinking about the things I do and why I do them.

It has gotten me thinking a lot about where this characteristic comes from. Until my Sophomore year of high school, I really didn't really think a whole lot about how I was just a character in a larger world, and the things that I did had on impact on people around me and what they think of me. Since then, I actually do almost everything on purpose (e.g. what I wear, the things I say, the movies I see) to try to give off (or not give off) a certain signal.

When I was in high school, I think that this primarily manifested itself in portraying a persona that was different than I was in order to better fit in and make friends. I've become more sincere since I've come back from my mission, not necessarily trying to be something I'm not, but being careful to only dispense information about myself at the pace I want. For instance, for a long time, I made a huge effort to dress and act in a nondescript way, wearing plain clothes in neutral colors. I allow myself a little more freedom to stand out these days (I'm wearing bright green shoelaces right now (shout-out to Elisa!)), but I tend to be pretty quiet when I'm around groups of people I don't know.

A lot of this purposeful living leads to a strange sense of humor, involving several inside jokes where I'm the only one on the inside, and the thing I'm inside has more layers than an onion. My sister pointed out to me that my entire life is a little like one big piece of performance art in this way. She is just about right.

For instance, on my mission, I had a tie that I decided I would dedicate as my Depression Tie that I would wear when I was depressed because it was just a sort of dark gray. As a joke, I would occasionally wear this tie on days that I wasn't depressed, just to fool people around me. The thing was that I never told people that it was my Depression Tie, which made it all the more funny to me. I was wearing a tie that was supposed to fool everyone to thinking I was sad, but I wasn't sad. But furthermore, they had no idea I was pretending to be sad because they didn't know about my tie. In short, they weren't being fooled and they didn't know it. Hilarious.

In a similar vein, I often tell people "they are true" (rather than "they are right") partially because I think it is funny, but partially to make fun of the common church-phrase "[fill in the blank] is true," which doesn't really make sense to me. I especially love saying it to non-Mormons who don't know this important piece of information. I also like that I pronounce things like "borrow" and "sorry" with a Canadian accent, that I'm a regular at IHOP, and that I bring my math books to the movie theater by myself for approximately that same sort of reason. Hilarious.

And more hilarious since it's not really that funny at all.