Thursday, July 31, 2008

A vampire in love with a human--Okay I'll Bite!

I know I'm coming a little bit late to the blood bath that is known as the Twilight Novel Series, three books written by Stephenie Meyer. I finally found them. It only took me three years to discover them. I finally saw the three books on sale at Target and snuck in behind three twittering teen-aged girls who were ogling over them and snagged the last copy of Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. I admit that at first the thought of reading a book about vampires put me off. Secondly, I didn't think I'd enjoy a book written for the teen-aged set.

But, then I read it. I was sucked in, bitten by a splendid tale of teen-aged angst, first love and blood sucking vampires. What fun!
The story is told from the perspective of a tormented yet quirky, accident prone, unsophisticated and guileless seventeen year old girl, Bella, who moves from Phoenix to live with her divorced father in Forks, Washington. Watching the story unfold through her eyes, I was drawn back to my own teenage years. I remembered vividly what it was like to be the new girl in a strange high school. I remember those pressures of trying to fit in, to be acceptable to the populous and to find that first blood-boiling heart-stopping love. It brought back memories of humiliation and apprehension as well as my own thirst for acceptance and romance. I could almost imagine myself as Bella.

Bella discovers a group of teenagers that are unlike any of the other "normal" crowd of teenagers at her high school and a fascination begins with one angelic-like figure named Edward. Her fascination turns to obsession and when a friend from the Indian reservation intimates that Edward is part of a group called the "Cold Ones", Bella soon discovers for herself that Edward and his family are--bloodthirsty vampires!

But does this information scare Bella? Certainly not! When she should have run screaming for her life, she falls in love with this enigmatic, perfect, devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful boy-man-old guy. Really, really old guy. She asks him how old he is and he responds by telling her he's seventeen. Then she has the courage to ask him how long he's been seventeen. And he replies, a very long time.

I am so thankful that I came to the blood lust obsession late. Now I can read all the books at one time instead of waiting breathless, dripping in gory anxious agony waiting for the next installment to be written and printed. I raced through Twilight and New Moon faster than Edward can race through the forest with Bella on his back. Now I'm starting Eclipse. On Saturday, August 2, the last book in the series hits the stores, Breaking Dawn. How will it end? Boy I'm so thirsty to find out, I may just have to go on a hunt! At least to Costco to pick up the next book.

I remember my first love in high school. I can picture him now. Not unlike the unflinching stunning beauty of Edward, this young man may not have had pale cold skin, or amber eyes, or run like a gazelle, but the shock to my system whenever he was near was like having my life sustaining blood drained out of me and my heart removed from my chest. I felt like an undead creature when I was around him. Gorgeous, athletic, divertingly handsome, this young man held such a fascination for me that I followed him around like a love sick puppy dog for four years.

When he graduated from the junior college we attended together and disappeared, I felt the exact same empty hole in the chest pain that Bella experienced. Even now, some thirty three years later, I can picture this young man in my mind, tall, handsome, with exquisitely bright blue eyes and tussled reddish brown hair smiling at me with straight white teeth amidst the glow of his scarlet cheeks that flamed when he was engaged in activities. I even dream of him still. Always running toward him, wanting him to stay with me. Wanting him to love me with an eternal never-ending love. But that's a story for another time and has nothing to do with reality.

I digress. Back to Edward and Bella. My only heart stopping blood curdling fear is that when the Twilight movie opens on 12-12-08, that the Edward and Bella characters I have already seen clearly in my mind, won't be portrayed on the screen sufficiently for my taste. From the movie trailer, I don't get a really good image of either of them. See if you agree.

I also hope that the producers of the movie will stick to the essence of the book and not take too much creative license with the story line. For those of us who read the books, we've already seen the movie in our minds and know Edward and Bella intimately.

If you haven't read the Twilight series, you should, even if nothing more than for the entertainment value. You may find the idea of a human girl in love with a vampire boy that thirsts for her blood repugnant. I did. But after reading the first two books, what stood out the most was the relationship between the two main characters. The taste of love budding for the first time for both of them and the excruciating and intense love story that grips your heart and doesn't let up through dangers and threats of blood shedding and death are extremely exciting.

But if you don't lose your soul to Edward and Bella after reading the books, then you really aren't an imaginative fanciful romantic who believes in the whimsical and mythical spell of love that can transcend boundaries of unthinkable differences. Like the trailer says, "Forbidden fruit if the most sweet." Go on, try it, taste it, thirst for it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Family---It's About Time!

That statement--Family, It's about time can mean two different things. It can mean that families take a considerable amount of time to maintain, cherish and nurture or it can mean it's about time we made our families a priority. I like to think it means both options should be considered.

Family--we all come from a family. We're involved in a family of some sort right now. Whether we have the traditional family--consisting of a mother, father and several children or not, it doesn't matter. We are surrounded, if we're lucky enough, with people we love and consider to be part of our family.

My family is very important to me. They are part of me. Spiritually, emotionally and physically. Physically, I inherited my nose from my father, my facial features from my mother's side of the family and my blue eyes, from Heaven knows who, because my parents both have dark eyes. Those are my physical inheritances from my parents.

Spiritually, I was taught in the religion of my parents. I was instructed at an early age about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and developed through the faith and testimony of my parents, to believe and follow the teachings that would bring me the most joy in my life. I will be forever grateful for their love and faith.

Emotionally, I was raised with four older brothers. Scott, Reed, Dale and David Olsen. They taught me a love of country, sports and the great outdoors as well as a respect for nature. I'd like to say we were the most obedient and respectful children in the world, but that wouldn't be the complete and honest truth. We had our problems and challenges. Happy times and sad. Life was not idyllic, but I wouldn't change those experiences for the world.

Through the long season of my parent's marriage, some 152 people have come to be called members of their family. Some of those people have left the family due to divorce and others were added over time due to marriages to individuals who already had children or their own. But all were adopted in, loved and considered members of the Paul and Helen Olsen Family. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren have graced my father’s family. What a great heritage! What a great posterity!

I guess I'm just a little proud and boastful of my family. I love my family. That's why I spend my vacations visiting with my family. My husband Tim and I just got back from a trip to Utah where we attended two family reunions. One for my father's family and one for my mother's family. We spent the time renewing and strengthening family ties and enjoying the company of extended family. It's always a pleasure to see new families being added to the fold with new babies born. It's a testimony to me that people have faith in the human family of man.

As time goes by, family members die and leave us. My mother passed away December of 2005. It was a tremendous blow to me and my family. Of her family of seven children, only three brothers remain. In my father's family of nine children, six siblings are still living. Two children are missing from this photo on the right.) Pictured are my father, Paul Olsen, his sisters: Lois and Zola and his brother Larry. Missing from the reunion are my dad's brothers Frank and Roger.

Soon the older generation will be gone and I and my brothers will be the older generation. But that's as it should be. Death is inevitable. We just live our lives and pray that our children will remember the legacy of love we tried to leave with them and hope they will pass that same legacy on to their children.

What ever your family situation may be, I only hope that you will take advantage of the time you have with your family to love and cherish them. We never know when they will no longer be with us. And what a shame to waste even one precious second being mad at them or of leaving forgiveness until it's too late. Families are about time--taking the time to relish these precious, finite relationships and consider taking the time to do more to hold them close.

I just hope you will consider your own family. Time is passing--

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Food and diet are four letter words...!

Adding insult to injury, realizing that I had an addiction--to food that is. I struggled long and hard to find a "diet" that would work for me. As a child I was taken to fat doctors, pumped full of pills, shots and the latest crazy diet. They'd work for a while, then when I ate something off the diet, the insane cycle would start again. I'd berate myself and jump off the track all together.

As a teenager I did Weight Watchers. It was rough. The recipes were gross and the meetings sappy. I think I may have dropped ffifteen pounds after a long period of time, only to find them again when I quit. Then my doctor introduced amphetamines. Wow! Man! Heavy stuff....! This is good sh%$...! I lost tons of weight had jumbled nerves and was freaked all the time, but I got down to 112. Once they outlawed the lovely little pills, I puffed up.

College brought exercising as a college course. I actually considered being one of the little exercise bunnies with the firm abs and tight buns. I approached my exercise leader, a woman with a body like a goddess, who explained that I still needed to loss another 35 pounds to qualify to be a bunny. Curse my stupidity now, I felt it too much of a challenge and let my addiction have it's way with me. Boom! 200pounds, well maybe a little more.

After college---work. I drove up the scales topping out at 225. I received a call to serve a mission for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Independence, Missouri. Walking all over Kansas and Nebraska helped me drop 80 pounds. Now I'm 145.

Now I'm home and looking to get married. Still more weight comes off. I join a program. Drop 11 pounds in a week. (The food was disgusting. Gag me with a spoon!) Got married, got pregnant, got sick, gave birth. Surprisingly I was the same weight when I delivered my son as when I got pregnant. Nice surprise!

New son, new marriage, new experience. I don't want to get pregnant again. New problem. I eat like there's no tomorrow. Gain 153 pounds. No more pregnancies!

Food was my friend, my companion, my lover, my temptor, my jailer. Harsh. No I consoled myself with food. Going out on a date, we ate. Being with family, we ate. Go to a church party, we ate. Going on vacation, we ate. I can tell you every vacation we've ever been on by the restaurants we ate at, from the Spaghetti Factory in Honolulu to the Three Crabs in Squim, Washington to Dan Mario's restaurant in Orlando, Florida, and a little closer to home, a buffet in Salt Lake City. Boy those are great memories. Mmmmm!

Twenty five years later, I believe I have started a diet on Monday mornings, done a little exercising, thought positive and starved myself about as many times as McDonald's has fries. Millions and millions served.

My husband lovingly told me I had an attitude problem. What attitude?! Who wouldn't be cheery, happy, delighted, ecstatic, tickled pink or bursting with joy with an overblown, morbidly obese body that won't walk properly, has to buy two plane tickets or has to have one of those perky female ride operators at Disneyland call loudly for the seat belt extender because "fatty" in #3 can't fasten her saftey belt. I just told him, "Hey, buddy, I'm a realist!"

So what changed? When did I make the decision I'd had enough? When did exercise become a part of me like a thirst that can't be quenched or a hunger not sated? Where was the shove that pushed me through the door of a Weight Watcher's meeting again and making that work for me. He$#... if I know. (Excuse my Mormon French, I'm from Utah!)

There was not one single defining moment that sticks out in my mind, but a series of steps along a very, very, very, very long path. Sometimes it was really hard to keep going. Like when I had lost about 50 pounds and a good friend of mine told me that she didn't notice any weight loss because I only wore moo-moo's. Ouch! Pow! Zowie! (A little Batman lingo!) Boy did that smart! And to prove to her and everyone else that I was on my way, I lost another 20 pounds. Now it shows, she says.

So to end this rambling on a good note, I am still on the journey. I'm still losing weight. I still exercise six days a week. My body aches. It's still so very hard, you have no idea how hard it is. But that's part of the journey too.