Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The List

I was recently asked to make a list of all the qualities I desire in a spouse. It was to be thorough, they said, covering all aspects. This is the list I developed.

Desired Qualities in a Spouse

  • Elegantly beautiful (I think I’ve earned it)
  • Poised
  • Strong
  • Athletic/Active
  • Well-proportioned
  • A natural allure
  • Clean, but not afraid of getting dirty
  • A good smell
  • Not a lot of makeup!
  • Someone who can sing
  • Good fashion sense, physical taste
  • Not a picky eater
  • Pleasant voice

  • Smart. Very smart
  • Intellectually open-minded
  • Tolerant
  • Strong sense of motivation, and also the ability to motivate
  • Lover of Art/Music
  • Lover of literature
  • An intense curiosity for the past and also the future
  • Appreciator of Nature
  • Adventurous
  • A traveler! Someone with whom I can share the world
  • Humorous, a developed sense of irony
  • Witty (think Beatrice from Twelfth Night)
  • Compassionate. Someone who can truly love
  • FAMILY – Someone who will love our children
  • A romantic at heart
  • Curious
  • Someone who loves fun
  • Someone with the ability to look at the situation from different perspectives
  • Someone in whom that childlike sense of wonder can still be brought out
  • A woman in touch with her emotions, and yet not wildly controlled by them
  • Loyal and HONEST
  • Open to conversation on Delicate Matters!! Communicative without being chattersome
  • At the same time, someone who can appreciate watching a beautiful sunset without saying a word
  • Someone who hates being late as much as I
  • A wildness… and sometimes irreverence
  • Respectful of opinion, but adamant in course
  • Someone who genuinely wants to understand me… and does
  • A good friend

  • Unshakable
  • Active
  • Craves the temple
  • Intellectual rather than solely sensational, yet rooted in faith
  • Someone who knows the scriptures
  • Someone who does not rely upon the testimonies of others
  • Someone who wants more than anything to build a family that will last an eternity
After I made the list, I was then asked to make another list, being a plotting out of the man I needed to be to be worthy of this perfect wife.

I won't show you that list. But today I shaved my beard.

A step in the right direction. :)


Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have a roommate from China. His name is Song. He's a really nice guy. Sometimes a few of the things he says are strange (he asked me in church today if I could take him to see the golden plates... it took a bit of convincing for him to accept they weren't down here anymore), but he's still learning English. He makes sure everyone is up for church, and he chides anyone for breaking the commandments. As a result we all love him.

I spend a lot of my evenings with him, talking to him about China and America. He's amazed constantly by the girls who live here. He wants very much to get an American girlfriend and maybe even wife. "All girls in China are lazy," he says. "They only want to sit around and let the parents raise the children. I want my wife to raise my kids with me."

Not only does he want one for himself, but he's also become quite the crusader for getting me a girlfriend as well, which is a subject I'm still iffy about. "You're too shy," he says to me. "You so good looking. You write stories. You make all the girls laugh with them. You walk into group and your mouth stays closed. You need girlfriend."

I tried to tell him about the whole armor/hurt thing, but he said, "You don't need to hurt. Just open your mouth and talk."

I don't know if he knows how actually right he is.

It didn't really help that he kept introducing me to the girls in the ward after all the meetings and, with his broken English, announcing that I needed a girlfriend. I'd end up smiling sheepishly, shaking hands and saying, "Hi. Not really." And they'd laugh. And I'd laugh. And Song would huff in consternation and start to insist until I dragged him back to the car.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

To Run After

When I graduated my high school seminary class way back in 2006, I remember how excited I was. It was the first graduation ceremony I'd been able to go through, and it was just another little reminder that soon I would be out of high school and on to the wondrous world of college and freedom.

The ceremony itself lasted only about thirty minutes, I believe. Not too short, not too long. The majority of the time was taken up in the reading of the names and presentation of diplomas. We were all very excited. We had never received a diploma before. It was to be the first of hopefully many.

It went off without a hitch. Everyone was called up, myself included, and we all managed to shuffle back to our seats without incident or indecency. The closing prayer was said after a few words of encouragement and congratulations, and we all retired to the gymnasium behind the chapel for refreshments.

There were about two hundred students at the ceremony, and as the two stakes present shared incredibly small boundaries, nearly everyone present knew everyone else. Everyone mixed and mingled and hugged friends they'd known since being little kids, friends they'd known since junior high or even from just a few years before. And it wasn't just the graduates that were excited, but dozens and dozens of underclassmen were there showing their support and excitement.

I got myself a drink, said hello and congratulations to a few people whom I'd recognized in some fashion, and then... nothing. I stood there, cup in hand, and watched the people in front of me bursting with excitement and happiness and memories. That was what they shared. Their friendships had been developed through years and years of active memories, of being around each other, of hanging out, of misadventures and trials. I had friends in that room, many extraordinary people whom I admired and used as personal examples in many aspects of my life... but in the middle of all those people, in the middle of that buzzing, happy crowd, I felt deeply and intensely alone.

Through the course of my life I have moved several times. The first time I was about 9 years old, and I remember crying the entire drive to Indiana. I was leaving behind all of my friends, all of my favorite spots in the woods, my favorite climbing trees and sledding hills, everything in the world that was important to me at that small age. Several years later, leaving Indiana for Washington, I didn't cry until I finally reached my grandmother's house, where we would stay for several months while our house was built. I bottled in the loss of my home, my best friend, the Knight Sensations, the river and the greenery of the Midwest and my first girlfriend until that night, sleeping in a strange house in a strange bed while people sat outside on their porches appreciating a "Spokane Thunderstorm". I had always been a quiet kid, but I think that was really the point where I must have stopped trying to let anyone in deliberately. I was afraid. I had always after that been afraid. It was standing there, holding that empty cup in my hand, that I realized this, and I hated the fact.

This self-disgust was what drove me to do the following.

I told my parents I was leaving. In a rush I left the building, got into my car and fled from that parking lot, tires squealing on the pavement. I was upset with myself for squandering my life all by myself, for not letting anyone in. I had let the fear get to me, the fear of loss. I was so transfixed by that fear, by that possibility that I might leave, move away and lose everything I had gained up to that point, that it overpowered any desire to have it. My only constant up to this point had been my family, and I had convinced myself my senior year that I hated them, that they hated me, and that I would be much better off without their interference. I am ashamed at how deep my cowardice had grown. I had gone through life and been bested by the ugly parts.

I arrived home and my mother, my sweet, caring and loving mother, who had never in her entire life put herself before any of her children, who was always there for everything we had done, who supported us and encouraged us and helped us grow every step of the way, followed me by herself. The rest of the family was still at the ceremony. I was inside the house, and my dear mother only sought to console me, to calm me and help me through the anguish I was going through inside, but, coward that I was, and ashamed of myself as I was, I chose the easier way out and blamed everything upon her and my father. It was their fault I had no friends, their fault I never went out to parties, their fault I never hung out or grew and shared those memories with all of those fine people at the Seminary graduation. We got in an argument. We yelled. I was vicious and cruel, probably the worst I had been. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted her to feel how shitty I felt at that moment. In the end I stormed down into my room in the basement to listen to music, ending the conversation, leaving her crying upstairs. I don't think I've ever apologized to her for it. I don't think I've ever been mature enough yet to acknowledge that I was wrong. It was so much easier to take that self-loathing and hate I had towards myself and channel it into pure malice at her. It makes my stomach turn thinking about it, and it puts an incredibly bitter taste in my mouth knowing I've never resolved it.

I'm sorry, mom. I love you, so very very much. Until I see you again, I want you to know that I love you.


The main reason I'm thinking of this tonight is because today is my big brother Chase's birthday. I think, more than anyone else in my entire life, he is the boy and the man that I have most looked up to. He has proven time and time again that he loves me, and that he'll stick up for me no matter what happens. Since we were little kids I've wanted to be him, or be like him, or be with him, and so I always followed him around, even into the "secret clubs" he would set up in the woods in Ohio with his friends, even though the initiations involved being thrown into the briar patches surrounding the place.

I didn't mind letting him win all the time when we played with Lego knights or pirates or cowboys or space men. I was always the losing side with army men. I loved watching him play StarCraft on the computer. Whenever I could be around him, I jumped at the chance. When I finally got to high school, he was the reason I got into the Varsity ShowChoir (he was a Senior and had been in it for years), and he was the reason I did football my first two years. All of his friends became my friends despite the fact I was ofen much younger than them, and I was suddenly one of "the guys", all because I was his little brother. All sorts of doors were opening up because of that fact. I wanted to be a Castle Knight, I wanted to be a Knight Sensation, I wanted to be a Boy Scout, I wanted to have the Priesthood, I wanted to serve a mission, all because that's what he had done, that's who he was. He was my big brother, and after all the arm-punching, name-calling, pranking and teasing was said and done, I loved him because I knew he would always be there for me. In the meantime, memories were made and enjoyed.

He's the best man that I know. He's kind and a gentleman to women, rough and rowdy with other guys, and has the most incredible charisma I've ever experienced. You can't help but like Chase. Really. Unless you're a total douche, but then he won't like you either (as a rule).

Anyways, tonight was his birthday party. My cousins Cohen and Tek were there, Chase and his new wife Sammy and some of her old roommates. And me. I knew all of them to a degree. I was (mildly) comfortable around them.

I think it's a Ficklin trait, but everytime you put one of us in a crowd (especially with other members of our family) it's as natural as breathing to reminisce about past exploits and memories, and so after dinner and cake that's what we did. We lounged in Chase and Sammy's living room talking about the old times, about the crazy things he had done, about the crazy girls he had dated, about mischief and misadventure... and I got really excited whenever I realized I had been there for any of them, because I could remember almost none. I hadn't been around.

Then I realized that I don't know my family, and that they really don't know me. I don't think any of them ever realize exactly what I'm thinking, and I can't think of any time in recent years I've gone out of my way to explain. In recent years I've often joked about being the "Black Sheep", sometimes half-believing it, but it really rang true tonight.

And sitting there, amongst that laughing group of happy, celebrating loved ones and friends, I felt terribly, horribly alone. And it was still my fault. And I hadn't changed a thing. And I don't know how.

I haven't treated my family with the love they so abundantly deserve... nor anyone else for that matter. Out of every friend I've made in this life I've only stayed in contact with one, and we only talk a few times a year.

I think I'm waiting for something, I think I always have been, and I think that must be one of the worst ideas I've ever come up with, because nothing has changed. I still feel that fear.

I don't know how you do it, Chase. I don't know how you got so amazing. Maybe it's just the fact that you are my big bro. Maybe every little bro sees their brothers this way. You're fearless. You're a man's man, and you got the girl, and you're happy. I wish I had your courage. I think maybe I do, and maybe I just have to find it deep down. Then I can do what you do. You make me proud to share your name. I love you, Chase. No one has had a better big brother.