Archive for the flashback friday Category

because friday is meant to be a deep thinking trip down memory lane, don’tcha know?

Posted in blogging, books are bliss, dissertation, facebook is the new crack, flashback friday, i'm so much cooler online, Life, School on March 28, 2008 by drbolte

i wrote a post a while back–six months maybe?–about puzzle pieces and how you sort of find them when you’re not looking. it’s not my best post, but meandering through it again left me wondering:

what do you do when you think you’ve found the pieces…but you’re just scared to put them all together for fear that they won’t fit?

i’m just all about the questions lately, aren’t i?

this is my favorite post.

i wrote it when i was guest hosting at megan’s bloggy home (the Velveteen Mind…it’s back! i’m so happy!) many moons ago. strangely…it’s exactly how i feel today. so i’m scamming an excerpt of it (i wrote it! i can do that!) and i’m linking you back to it.

So, see, my life revolves around how well I use my words.

Except when I don’t, because sometimes I won’t.

(Except, apparently, when I’m channeling Dr. Seuss.)

Being invited to guest blog coincided with a dissertation crisis of confidence–all about my words and ideas failing me. Do I actually have anything to say that matters at all? What does it all mean, if it doesn’t really matter to someone, somewhere, even a little bit? Can I move beyond the mundane, the transitory, the ridiculous?

Can I make myself the master of words?

It’s the challenge that faces me now, every day, as I sit staring blankly at multiple screens–my blog, my dissertation chapter, my Facebook, my emails, my life that waits to be written. It sounds cheesy and lame and, well, it probably is. But it’s also true.

Can I, silly Carrie with an unnatural affection for vanilla-scented candles and a heart too big, truly be a master of words?

i still wonder. i really do.

let the celebration commence

Posted in family, flashback friday, friends, Life, me, roommates, the joys of living in Florida on October 5, 2007 by drbolte

About thirty years ago today, my mom was shaking her fist at the heavens and wondering if, in fact, humans could have the gestation period of elephants.

See, I was nearly a month late by that point.

(Let it never be said that I do ANYTHING on anyone else’s schedule but my own.)

Let’s see…I was born on Sunday, October 9th…so that would make today Wednesday.

She was probably anxiously awaiting her doctor’s appointment on Friday, where they were going to do a stress test to see if I was ready to arrive.

Because, you know, the 43 weeks I’d spent in her uterus was clearly not enough time for me to develop anything important.  Except, of course, for language skills and really long fingernails.

I would imagine, thirty years ago today, I was chillin’ with my Heavenly Father, way excited to come hang out on earth with the coolest family known to man.  I’m sure that I was really excited about the potential to prove that I had the faith to make the right choices. I’m sure, knowing me, that I was equal parts totally freaked out that I wouldn’t do it very well. I’m certain, also, that I was sad to leave those that I knew before this life and who I wouldn’t remember when I was here…and most especially sad to leave my Heavenly Parents.

Yep…it’s birthday time.

And I was freaked out about this birthday. I really was. I suppose there’s probably a shred of me that still freaks out about it. Time has a way of sneaking up on you and smacking you upside your head quite forcefully sometimes, reminding you that this time we have here is short and amazing and we better make the most of it every moment.

But these past few weeks have been so quite literally magical and amazing that I don’t even know how to express it.  It’s crazy how little words can encompass emotion sometimes.  But I feel like, for whatever reason, Heavenly Father has been giving me the best birthday celebration ever, as if to say: “Hey, kid, you’re doing good. You’ve done good.  Keep doing good–and here, how about you finally realize how amazing you are?  how much you are loved?”

It’s more than a nice gift to have. It’s irreplaceable.

But I’m also really looking forward to the earthly celebrations I’ll be having, kicking off today with the FLOWER DELIVERY I’m getting from my mom (can we say…daisies?!?) and tonight with my ridiculously wonderful pink Disney princess birthday bash, hosted by my wonderful roommate and my wonderful friend.  I’m excited. We invited some freaking insane amount of people–that’s how the Mormon world works for Carrie…if you’re having a party, you invite EVERYBODY so that nobody feels left out–but I know that not many of them will come.  It’s Friday night…it’s cool.  I understand.  But those that do come (and more than a few have said, absolutely, they’re coming) will be awesome and will make my birthday amazing.

I’m way loving the week-long celebration of my birth.


toothpick bridges

Posted in flashback friday, life lesson number 498, me, The Single Life, yet another reason why i don't understand men, you have to be a chick to understand on July 27, 2007 by drbolte


Picture it…Bakersfield, California, circa early 1990s, which is best known for this big ugly thing:


…and these bigger ugly things:


…and, unfortunately, this:


For me, though, Bakersfield was all about my friends. I moved there when I was 12, and after a few drama-filled fits and starts, settled into a great group of friends that my Mom trusted (which translated into no curfew for me as long as I called home–whee!).

One of whom was Ben.

Oh, Ben. Oh, dear. There’s so much more to the backstory to Ben, but for now I’ll confine my Flashback Friday narrative jaunt to senior year.

I had decided to take Physics. I don’t know what on the great green earth had made me decide to do this, except that maybe I was trying to pad my transcript on the off-chance that I would apply to a UC school. I am not a science person. Now, lest all of you science people freak out at me and say that there is no such thing, I will pointedly tell you that I am, in fact, evidence that you are wrong. With the possible exception of the summer school Biology class between my freshman and sophomore year that I loved (bring on the fetal pig to dissect! and, yes, that summer has a Ben story too), I have hated every single science class I have ever taken. They’re hard. They make my brain hurt.

And Physics just took the cake. I didn’t understand it. Now, to be honest, if I had studied at all and tried and gotten help, I probably could have been aceing that class. When I apply myself, I am smart.

But I was way more interested, at that point, in boys and friends and doing whatever I wanted rather than doing my homework.

So I was getting a C in that class. And I was NOT happy about it. I knew my Mom would not be happy about it. She wasn’t a grade freak, but she expected me to do my best. C is not my level best–and she would have called me on it.

Ben was in my class too. At this point, we had been good friends for almost four years. We were in the same seminary class, he was periodically in love with my best friend…and I was totally head over heels for him…completely unrequited and completely on the down low. Or so I attempted.

So when Mr. Rappleye, our Physics teacher, gave us the option of constructing a toothpick bridge that would hold a bunch of weight (somehow this was a Physics project, although I didn’t understand how at the time…do you see my problem?) for a heaping pile of extra credit points that I desperately needed (and that basically-average student Ben could use too), it seemed only natural that we would work on that joker together.

I remember very little about working on the actual project except that it was more difficult than I thought it would be, required too much glue and frustration, and eventually held up against more weight than I thought it would. YAY us.

The reason I remember very little? Winter Formal was coming up and my best friend was going with her current squeeze, James–who I later fell head over heels for. (Gosh, we were an incestuous little 90210-like group.) We had decided that I should go with Ben so that we could all go together. Kim, the BF, had sort of tested the waters with him in orchestra about whether or not he even wanted to go. He seemed to be good with it, good even with going with me, which I was honestly shocked and excited about.

So, we had a plan. I was supposed to basically ask him that night when he came over to work on the project. I was supposed to play it cool and not freak him out but just bring it up as a friend thing, so that we could all go together. The boy did not date. He pined, he crushed, he remained totally inside himself.

It was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it. Did I mention that I was IN LOVE with him? And he saw me as just a friend? Oy. I was just a little bit stressed. And excited.
And gosh if the whole night wasn’t one big lead-in to that big topic. I don’t remember how I got to it, but I brought it up. I was not going to be stopped. So close…so very close. Paraphrased, this is about how the conversation went, perhaps with some dramatic license. Please note where all of the action is in the conversation:

Me: “So…Kim and James are going to Winter Formal. It sounds like it will be fun.”

Ben: “Hmm. Uh-huh.”

Me: “It’s our senior year, so it’s the last Formal before we graduate.”

Ben: “Hmm. Uh-huh.”

Me: “Do you want to go?”

Ben (finally seeming to pay attention): “To the Formal?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Ben: “Yeah, I guess.”

Me: “Me, too. It would be way fun to hang out with Kim and James and do the whole thing.”

Ben: “Really?”

Me (at this point wanting to stab him through the eye with a very dull toothpick for his obtuseness): “Yeah. I think it could be cool.”

Understatement of the century. I was already planning the whole thing–the dress, the flowers, the whole nine–followed quickly by our Hallmark-style romance, my faithfulness on his mission, our quick engagement, our wedding, and the seven children we would have who would all have his…verbal skills. I was 16. Cut me a break, okay?

Ben: “Oh. Yeah. Well….do you want to go?”

Me: “With you?”

Ben: “Uh, yeah.”

Me: “Sure. Why not?”

Cue flowers, swelling music, and little blue cartoon birds braiding my hair. I thought I had successfully manipulated the coup of the century–The Boy Who Doesn’t Date is MY DATE!

Imagine my surprise when he is proudly announcing to everyone the very next day that HE asked ME. As if it was his freaking idea. As if I hadn’t completely orchestrated the entire conversation. As if, at one point, I didn’t think I had actually asked him out!

Bah. The things women do to get what they want.

The Formal turned out fun–just like I thought it would–and although it wasn’t the romantic liason or ignition that I had hoped it might be, I was glad to be there. It is a memory that I will never forget. Ben is married now to an adorable blonde and I haven’t talked to him in YEARS.

But he’ll always be the guy who made me associate toothpicks with dreams coming true, and for that I’ll always be grateful. That and the B that I managed to pull off in Physics class.

Even if he did take credit for my brilliant machinations.

Holding hands

Posted in family, flashback friday, shameless blog thievery on July 6, 2007 by drbolte

I’ve been blog perusing–almost addictively–over the past few days. Stems from my deep desire to procrastinate anything related to my dissertation (stupid Pride and Prejudice. stupid need to write brilliantly. stupid getting an education). I found I really liked the flashback friday posts. They’re fabulously interesting and, while I doubt I have nearly the exciting life experience that most of you have (eh, Brillig?), I’m going to give it a whirl. This one came to mind immediately. It was a summer I will never forget.

I’d come home for six weeks that summer of 2005, during the short break I had between spring semester and the summer semester in which I was teaching, for really one reason.

It wasn’t the typical “I will, in fact, eat you out of house, grocery budget, and freezer-stored protein having only consumed cheap carbohydrates affordable on a college student’s budget during the past four months” or the inevitable “I have so much laundry…do I actually own more than one sheet set?!?” reasoning.

It was my Mimi.

In February, she got really sick. REALLY sick. She just didn’t really wake up one day. My grandpa, after spending nigh on to 50 years waking up next to her, couldn’t nudge her lucid. It was then we knew it was serious.

I was hundreds of miles away when it all happened, still in coursework for my PhD and I’d never felt so helpless. There was talk of a stroke, and then an obnoxious cell phone silence all day because Mom didn’t charge her phone before she ran to follow her to the hospital. I cursed her for it. She obviously didn’t plan on having a family emergency, but I don’t think she’s ever been without a charged phone since.

The talk of stroke soon turned to talk of some weird electrolyte imbalance and her digestive system shutting down. I didn’t even know digestive systems DID that. They put her on a series of drugs, one of which basically turned into an extended acid trip. She didn’t know Mom, or my aunt, or my wheelchair-bound grandpa when he could visit. It was not good.

Over the course of several weeks in the hospital, they regulated her meds, got her digestive system up and cranking, and so it seemed like she was on the road to recovery. Mom and the Aunt took care of everything–taking care of grandpa, who was (no offense, but it’s pretty standard in this generation) beyond useless when it came to caring for himself. Mimi had done it all forever. She cooked, she cleaned, she kept up with all of us, she guilt-tripped us into submission as any mom and grandma does–she managed to keep the world together with a coupon book, a smile, and love from her very big heart. I still don’t know how she did it.

Suddenly, my already overworked Mom and working-mom-to-teenagers Aunt were primary caregivers not only for grandpa, who was routinely freaking out with the stress of his bride being in the hospital, but for Mimi, who needed them there too.

So, coming home, I was singleminded in my purpose: to relieve the nearly-broken Mom and Aunt from some of the demands. I could do laundry, I could go grocery shopping, or…as it turned out…I could sit with Mimi. Because, as healthy as Mimi might have gotten physically, she’d seemed to lose her Miminess. She couldn’t walk. She could hardly sit up on her own. The illness just drained her of all of her independence, an independence that had been her crowning characteristic my whole life.

Now, she struggled for words.  She wasn’t sure where she was or how much time had passed.  She couldn’t even worry about her most basic needs.  Once she was discharged to a rehabilitation center, ostensibly to get her ready to return home, she seemed to pull further into herself.

When I got home, though, she was still my Mimi.

Frail, yes.  Confused, sure.  But her hands, so warm and willing to hold mine, were my Mimi’s. Her eyes, amid the clouds of fear and confusion and pain, still held that spark of love that I knew and could claim as my own.  Mimi was more than my grandma.  The longer I spent with her that summer, and the longer I’ve been without her, the more I realized that Mimi was, in many ways, me.  Stubborn.  Loving.  Demanding in good and bad ways.  Smart.  Empathetic.  Afraid.

I decided that my job that summer was to take care of her in any way that I could.

I decided that I would be her handholder for as long as she needed me. It was my calling.  Whatever, whenever, however.  It was me and her–in the fight for as long as the fight was there to be fought.

It was the best decision I made that summer, and the fount of some of my best, most painful, and most faith-increasing moments.