Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bouldering at U-Mound, Sandia Foothills

Here's some video, self-taken (hence its being off-frame), of me doing an easy (V0) boulder problem at U-Mound, which is located in the Sandia foothills between Lomas and Copper. (The sequence I'm doing here is one of the easier variations of the "I-2" problem described in Andy Mayer's "A Guide to U-Mound Bouldering," found at http://www.cs.unm.edu/~moret/u-mound.html.) I'd like to do a lot more climbing in the boulders than I currently do, but it's difficult to find time to do much of anything these days. There's been so much erosion around some of the boulders at U-Mound in recent years that I can't even get off the ground on a few "problems" that I used to be able to do. That which I'm still capable of doing, however, is good exercise, and I enjoy the outdoor recreation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Buoying Up McCain: Our Tone-Deaf Media

I don't have much else to say about this year's presidential election, except that the manner in which most of the major news media have dropped all pretense of objectivity in seeking to secure a victory for Barack Obama has been positively breathtaking. That the election is still pretty much a toss-up at this point, even with the threats to (and pending broad-scale government intervention in) our financial markets, is a testament to the fact that traditional media no longer exercise nearly as much influence on public opinion as they'd like to think they do. Moreover, there is profound irony in the fact that the media's extremely biased reporting -- especially their utter refusal to scrutinize/publicize Obama's record and life history as they've done to his opposition, not to mention their completely glossing over the various idiotic things that Joe Biden has said (e.g., regarding President Franklin Roosevelt's supposedly going on television in 1929 to reassure the public about the stock market crash) -- seems actually to be causing a fair number of marginal Democrats to consider voting for McCain/Palin. In my observations, these media types aren't stupid, which suggests that they must know the effect their unfair reporting is having on swing voters. But they simply can't help it! The emotions that this election is eliciting, especially on the left, are producing a certain tone-deaf desperation that even Freud couldn't rationalize, making one wonder whether more than a few heads won't explode if McCain wins. (Me? I think it will be a shame if Obama wins, but I also think our country's institutions will survive four years of him, just like they survived four years of Jimmy Carter. I don't anticipate his being elected a second time if, perchance, he wins on this go-round.)

It's apparent that most Democrats and their fellow travelers in the media believe that Republicans are a dull, unintelligent lot (never mind evil and malicious). However, it bears pointing out, as more than one pundit has done, that the Democrats managed to nominate their sole candidate (not counting the moonbat-magnet Dennis Kucinich) who could lose this election, whereas the Republicans nominated their lone candidate who could win it. That tells me a lot.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sixth Grade at McCollum Elementary

While I'm on this run of autobiographical posts, I thought I might as well upload the attached "class picture" from my sixth-grade year at McCollum Elementary School. I still have good memories of that year, which in some ways seems as though it happened yesterday. My teacher was Mrs. Whitmore, who was easily my most-sympathetic teacher to that point. The principal was Mr. Montman, who was in his first year at the school after his predecessor, Miss Morrow, retired. (My most enduring memory of Mr. Montman was from years later, when I was a senior in high school. He had been appointed to some kind of obscenity commission in Albuquerque that was tasked with determining whether the porn film Deep Throat offended community standards of decency. As he was leaving the theater, a local television news reporter asked him what he thought of the movie; his response -- something to the effect of "It was great! I thought it was the funniest thing I ever saw!" -- was rather telling, I thought.)

I could say a lot about my sixth-grade year, but I'll keep it relatively short. First, I remember I had a crush that year on Jeri Locke, which seems strange now. She was LDS, although her family was only marginally active in church when they moved to Albuquerque and went completely inactive shortly thereafter. Second, Duane Dalby was the third Mormon in the class and lived on my street, although he moved to Grand Junction, CO with his mother when his parents divorced a couple of years later. (Down the road, he and I went through the MTC at roughly the same time; he went to the Chile Santiago North mission, and we actually saw each other in Santiago a couple of times, too.) And third, I'll never forget a very funny classroom episode that happened that year. Most of the boys in the class were fairly expert at shooting spitwads; the usual delivery system was the shell of a Bic pen used as a blowgun, but one day, during "reading" time after lunch, I was experimenting with a 6" plastic ruler used as a catapult. Unfortunately, I overshot my intended target and the spitwad hit Mrs. Whitmore on the arm. (I still have a vivid mental picture of her being so startled that she practically jumped out of her chair!) She immediately got up and started grilling all the boys in the class to try to identify the culprit, but, luckily, the fact that it could have been any one of eight or nine kids gave me "plausible deniability," and I escaped punishment. (Yes...I lied.)

I can actually remember all of the kids' first names and most of their last names. Top Row: Mr. Montman, Mrs. Whitmore, John Lindsey, Toni Lopez, Mitch Magee, Kim Olson, Stan Esquibel, Dolores Trujillo. Second Row: Mary Weimer, Amy Harris, Patrick Sena, Elisa Banda. Third Row: Tom Eaker, Jeanette Vigil, David Lewis, Linda Peña, James Snider, Perri Stovall, Duane Dalby, Colleen Kimble. Fourth Row: Jeri Locke, Elizabeth Plumley, Jeff Kamin, Trina Stewart, Steve Gallegos, Cheryl MacKay. Bottom Row: Paul ____, Cella Dewey, Shawn Herringer, Laura Madrid, Clarence Montoya, me, Todd ____.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Playing Softball with the Saints

I played softball for a lot of years in the city church league with the Albuquerque Saints, a team formed by Pat Wallace and Tony Collyer that consisted over the years almost entirely of LDS church members. I came to love playing softball -- I can honestly say that until I had acute cerebral flatulence in 1993 and had radial keratotomy done on my eyes, which severely impaired my ability to see a ball under lights (or to tell how fast the ball was coming at me, day or night), I would almost rather play softball than eat. Slow-pitch softball is a hitter's game, but my favorite part was playing in the outfield and chasing down fly balls, and the frustration and humiliation of not being able to see the ball finally made me give up the game in, I think, 1997.

We were a pretty good team and won our league most of the years I played, although we always had it handed to us when we went to big out-of-town tournaments (e.g., in Show Low, AZ and Dallas, TX). Pat still has a Saints team, although I'm not sure how many of the original guys (most of whom are now in their early-to-mid fifties) still play. I played a few games with them several years ago -- I could still hit the ball well, but I had to play catcher and watch all the younger guys on the team run circles around me.

This photo was taken in my first year with the team in 1984. I remember I had a bad hitting year that season -- slow-pitch softball is all about feeling comfortable and confident at the plate and in the field, and I hadn't yet developed that kind of confidence in my playing -- but, thankfully, Pat and Tony kept me on the team. I hit my peak in 1990, when the team voted me their MVP, something I still consider an honor. It was sad that I had to give up softball a number of years before my time, but there was a positive outcome in that I turned to less-competitive forms of recreation that drew me closer to nature.

My First Car - 1978 Fiat Strada

In the summer of 1982, my sister Kristen took a roll of photos of me; the intent was for me to have pictures to send to people I'd known in Chile, but I ended up keeping a few of the prints, including this one. It shows me in front of my parents' house with my first car, a 1978 Fiat Strada that my parents helped me buy in August 1981 from Tracy Carroll's dad Bill, a car wholesaler. My Strada, which I drove until 1989 (at which time Dorine and I replaced it with a used Mercury Topaz), was an interesting, if temperamental car that simply did not like to run in cold weather. It had a surprising amount of interior room for a small car, and it was fun and economical to drive (well, most of the time). I had more than a few epic experiences in it, but two stand out in my mind. The first was the time I broke down late at night in Lybrook, NM on the way home from BYU for Christmas in 1981 (and had to call my mother and brother Roger to come tow me home in a snowstorm). The second was the time Jeff Jolley and I drove up to Sanford, CO to play with the Albuquerque 11th Ward team in
the regional softball tournament in August 1983. Timewise, we were cutting things close anyway, leaving Albuquerque late, but what made things worse was that neither of us knew the route from Española, NM to the San Luis Valley, and we were well on the way to Taos before we realized we were on the wrong road. We didn't have time to backtrack, so we drove across the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, and fifteen miles of dirt roads, to get back on U.S. 285. By that time, we were so far behind schedule that we had to drive 90 mph the rest of the way -- looking back, I'm surprised my car would even go that fast -- and we pulled up to the field just a few seconds before our team would have had to forfeit. (Ironically, that first game was against the Albuquerque 6th Ward, my home ward, of which my father was still bishop at the time.)

BYU - Living at Deseret Towers

This photo, taken by my friend and fellow "KNOB" Galen Kekauoha, shows me sometime in the fall of 1977, playing my Gibson SG electric guitar in the dorm room I shared with Bob Maes in BYU's Deseret Towers dorm complex. I had worked that spring in Albuquerque, bagging groceries in a food store, to get the money to buy a nice electric guitar; I wanted a Gibson Les Paul, but in the end I wasn't quite able to save enough money -- hence my buying the SG instead. Deseret Towers has now been razed, or is in the process of being razed, which points up the growing unpopularity of on-campus housing in Provo. I kept the SG until 1984, when I sold it to buy the diamond for Dorine's engagement ring. I wish I still had it, especially since it would be worth some serious coin now. (I sold it for $225 in the days when every kid wanted to have big hair and play a fluorescent-pink Jackson Soloist. It would be worth perhaps seven or eight times that much now)

Seeing this picture now brings back a lot of memories. I was in my 4%-body fat days. We lived on the south side of the top floor of "T" Hall, which is/was situated between two other halls; thus, we had no clear view of anything besides "U" Hall to the south. I was seriously homesick most of the fall semester, but fortunately friends like Bob and Galen helped me stick things out.

I still have the leather guitar strap with my name on it (a very 70s sort of fetish), which a fellow student from my high school named Joe Lifke made for me right about the time I bought the SG (and for which he only charged me $8.00, as I remember). It still looks and functions like new, although with the extra girth that my body has acquired over time, my guitar rides quite a bit higher than it used to--and my name appears on my shoulder, almost!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The 11th Ward - Coda

Here are photos of Shawna M______ (left) and Sue A______ (right); I'm pretty sure I don't have a photo of Barbara T______. Out of curiosity, I googled Shawna's name and found that, indeed, she lives in the Seattle area. I also found a recent photo of her that strongly suggests that she is of a different "orientation" now, which is both surprising and, well, not surprising, given that she always swam against the stream. (One wonders to what extent jerk-y boyfriends -- obsessively clingy, insufferably priggish, and unable to accept rejection [describes me to a tee] -- figured in that change.) Sue is no longer listed in the phone directory as a lawyer, at least under her maiden name; thus I don't know if she and her husband still live in the Albuquerque area.

And -- I can't resist it -- here is the full set of lyrics to the song I mentioned in my earlier post: 

Journal (sung to "Diary"; words by D.R. Watkins III and R.A. Lenberg II [with tongues firmly in cheek])

I found the bishop's journal in a drawer,
And started reading of our ward,
Of all the sinful things that they'd confessed
Unto the bishop and the Lord.
I read of all the sick, perverted things they'd done.
Couldn't believe it --
Wish I had seen it!

I read where Patty after her first date
Went home and told her mom, "Steve's great!"
Displayed the marks he gave her at the Crest;
She even has one on her...arm.
And who would ever think Bill Steagall has a whip?
Couldn't believe it --
Wish I had seen it!

And as I looked through the book,
How my testimony shook,
But I liked it just the same.

I read how Ron went on a date with Pam;
They went out cycling by the Tram.
They hit a rock, both fell, Ron would be dead --
Pam amply cushioned up his head.
And Kevin Kartchner's got a new girl half his age.
Who's dating Sue now?
If Lowell only knew now.

And as Craig goes through his life,
All he thinks of is a wife,
And whose home teaching is done.

I put the journal back inside the drawer.
I didn't need to read much more.
I'd read enough sins in one afternoon
To make a filthy movie soon.
And all these marriages,
I now know why they're rushed:
They just can't wait now --
She's two weeks late now. 

As I go to church of late,
I now know which girls to date
For the best time I can have...
For the best time I can have.

(Well, I said we were pretty irreverent....)

["Patty" was Patty McGraw, a nice girl with a great sense of humor. "Steve" was Steve Schulte, Patty'
s then-future husband. "Ron" was Ron Wiser, who eventually married Cindy Shupe and is now the stake president in Roswell, NM. "Pam" was Pam Aguilar, who, as the lyrics suggest, was both well-endowed and fitness-minded. "Sue," of course, was Sue A______, and "Lowell" was Lowell Huber, who dated Sue before I did. "Craig" was Craig Mortensen, who, in addition to being elders quorum president, was well-known for hitting on all the new girls in the ward. (Craig married a girl named Cissy Reazin in the summer of 1981, but by the time I came back from BYU in May 1982, he was already divorced and back doggin' the girls in 11th Ward.) Bill Steagall was a very strait-laced fellow from Brazil (his slave-holding forbears moved there after the American Civil War, and he spoke native-level English and Portuguese), who eventually married Melissa Maw.]

[Update 1/4/2011: Sue's senior annual from Highland HS has been uploaded to Classmates.com, and here is a bad copy (taken from a screen shot) of her school photo from it.  I didn't know Sue until years later, but she obviously was übercute as a teenager -- very pretty eyes and exotic good looks.  (I'd also say that straight[er] hair suited her better than the perm she wore in 1983.)  Reportedly, she dated a fellow named Randy G______ for a long time before deciding to serve a church mission; in fact, more than one person later expressed surprise to me that the two of them had not gotten married, but of course not all long-term dating relationships result in marriage.  I'm glad things have apparently turned out well for her -- she had a lot on the ball, certainly more than I ever did.]

[Update 1/5/2011: Here's what I seriously doubt is Barbara T_____'s favorite photo of herself -- her ninth-grade school picture from the 1976 West Mesa HS yearbook.  (It's amazing what one can dredge up on Classmates.com these days; "Gold" membership indeed has its privileges.)  I met Barbara five-plus years later, when she was twenty and had blossomed significantly.  She was working as a legal secretary and was bright enough to steer clear of me for the most part; she could see, at a time when she had me fairly bedazzled, that our respective neuroses weren't a good combination.  I have to assume she married a lawyer at some point, and I hope she found happiness.  (I once wrote a song for her, which I still sometimes play now, called "If You Want Me" -- to pose the condition was to respond to it in the negative)]


[Update 2/27/2011: Here's Shawna M______'s ninth-grade school picture from the 1980 Eldorado HS yearbook.  It's interesting to me for the fact that she appears to have affected something of a "mannish" look as a high-school freshman that she didn't have at age eighteen when I knew her (see her senior [twelfth-grade] picture above).  I would never have pegged her as having same-sex attraction during the short time that we dated -- and neither would her friends from that era [her best friend at the time is now one of my "friends" on Facebook] -- but now I'm wondering if there were signs of it earlier in her life. I guess one never knows.]

[Update 3/14/11: Here is a photo of Barbara T______ from roughly the period in which I was interested in her.  It came from an upload to the Facebook group that people created for 11th Ward Alumni.  Barbara doesn't look as attractive here as she remains in my memory, but she did start wearing contact lenses at one point, revealing pretty eyes.

Here is a photo that someone had from Sue A_____'s mission in Argentina; Sue (L) is standing here with a missionary companion.  This would have been around 1981.










"I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot pole"
[Update 7/28/11: I found this photo on Facebook, too.  It didn't mean much when I first looked at it -- just another photo from a ward activity in 1981 -- but when I examined it more closely, it made me laugh out loud.  I'm in the yellow shirt on the left, playing my guitar and hoping to impress Barbara T_____, who's standing on the right and is purposely keeping her distance from me (while looking like she might be having second thoughts -- either that, or she's annoyed at her sister Penny, to my immediate right, for standing so close to me).  What a perfect illustration for me of that summer's frustrations!  I can't really understand now my attraction to Barbara then, although I'm not sure I ever quite got over her rejecting me; however, I'm guessing I would finally let it go if I saw a recent photo of her.  (Not that I look any better after the ravages of thirty years.)]  

 [Update 7/3/14: There have been quite a few more yearbooks posted recently on Classmates.com from Albuquerque-area high schools, including Barbara T______'s 1979 senior annual from West Mesa HS.  It contains this picture of Barbara -- a much-better photo than her 9th-grade school picture, I must say.  It's funny how some high schools continued, in the late 70s and beyond, to make girls bare their shoulders, and boys to wear tuxedos (with bow ties, no less), for their senior pictures.  I still haven't seen a recent photo of Barbara, although I did meet up with her sister Penny, who still lives in the Albuquerque area but no longer attends the LDS Church, at last year's 11th Ward reunion.  I think I've finally exorcised my 11th Ward "ghosts."  Lyle and Wilma Porter's A History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Mexico notes both the creation of the 11th Ward on September 24, 1978 (from what had previously been the student branch/ward) and its dissolution on August 3, 1986.  Somehow I'd had it in my head that the ward had lasted a few years longer than that, but it sort of makes sense now that I know.]


[Update 4/19/16: Here it is -- the "recent" photo of Barbara (alongside her husband Kary Simcox) that I've been wanting to see for years.  Time appears to have treated her fairly gently, although the pic still represents a species of "resolution" for me.]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sleep Re-ordered, Part 2

I've been off sleep meds now for six weeks; I wish I could report that I've been sleeping soundly for a solid six or seven hours every night, but unfortunately that isn't the case. I can fall asleep very easily most nights, but the difficulty is in staying asleep. The "VPAP Adapt SV" machine is still treating my problems with sleep apnea effectively, and I currently have no major psychological issues that impede my sleep (otherwise, past experience has shown that I would be having problems falling asleep). Therefore, it appears to me that the problem is one of environment, which is turning out to be extremely complex in light of the many factors in play, any one (or more) of which can be the thing that prevents my falling back asleep: (1) Dorine's snoring and her general night-time restlessness; (2) the discomfort associated with wearing a full-face mask and foam earplugs; (3) stomach upset from swallowing air coming from the "VPAP" machine; (4) a full bladder from drinking too many liquids before retiring; (5) frustration caused by restricted movement due to the mask and the attached air hose; (6) a hot-cold cycle (common in the fall and spring) that has me alternately pulling the covers on and then throwing them off; (7) occasional caffeine intake too late in the evening (Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper are the usual culprits); (8) indigestion resulting from my tendency to eat a late meal before bedtime; and (9) adrenaline overloads from going to the gym too late in the evening. (Oh, and I guess I can add one more to the list -- using a too-hard pillow while lying on our new pillow-top mattress, which apparently is what has caused the stiff neck I've had for the last two weeks.) Managing all these things requires extensive planning, something I haven't yet come close to mastering; however, I'm hoping it will become second nature to me over time. I'm still overjoyed at not having to take sleep medications, but I'm a little dismayed by the fact that I'm not sleeping any better or feeling any better during the day. This is obviously going to take some time!

(The attached photo was a joke played on me by a co-worker, who photoshopped my face onto an image of Tom Hanks playing Forrest Gump. Given this topic, it's somewhat appropriate -- lack of sleep makes me feel mentally challenged a lot of the time!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bubble Bursts

I've often thought about the process of growing up and all the painful moments of self-discovery that I've experienced in my nearly fifty years of life. There were the early ones, such as the realization (a) that I would never be a great athlete, (b) that I was not endowed with genius-level intelligence, and (c) that most of the girls whom I regarded as attractive were not attracted to me. However, I have to say that the greatest disillusionments of my life were reserved for my adulthood. First: that, unlike me, not every Mormon kid of my generation grew up believing that it was more or less a doctrinal imperative to have a low sense of self-worth and an impaired sense of ambition. Quite literally, a day doesn't go by that I don't feel the far-reaching effects of what I call "King Benjamin Syndrome," yet it's obvious now, judging from the overinflated egos I continually encounter in the church, that I didn't have to view myself as slime or consider it wrong to want to excel in some worldly pursuit.

Second: that the management paradigm on the administrative side of Sandia National Laboratories, where I work, has gradually gone from being almost strictly meritocratic to being, well, something else -- which has caused me to realize that I'm wedged squarely under the proverbial "glass ceiling." It was nice to leave the CFO organization (the most-glaring bastion of the new philosophies) three years ago and move out to the "line," where at least I'm able to provide direct financial support to managers and staff of a technical organization. However, now all of the "line" admin personnel are being sucked back into the CFO organization, which I regard as the surest sign of the company's ongoing descent into the maelstrom of abject irrelevancy. The worst part is that I have no other choices -- after sixteen years at Sandia, my only real option is to keep doing what I'm doing until retirement in another 9-14 years (and hope that there still is a Sandia for that length of time).

And third: that my lifestyle -- which is dominated by having to go to work and then having to attend various church meetings, activities, and service projects -- is largely incompatible with the things that I find most rewarding in life: romance, spontaneity, creativity, travel, and outdoor recreation. One of the good things about working at Sandia is having no shortage of annual leave and other days off; however, I still find it extremely difficult to devote resources to those things that, to me, make life worth living.

I don't ask for much, since many of the things that I enjoy cost little or nothing. But will things ever change?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kiley's First AYS Concert



These photos are from Kiley's first "official" concert with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony, at UNM's Popejoy Hall on September 14, 2008. The first is a view of the group warming up before the concert, taken from the mezzanine. The second is a shot of Kiley with Bethany Roper, a friend from our ward who plays the harp. The third photo shows Kiley with her private cello teacher, Pamela DeLisse (third from left), and Pamela's other AYS cello pupils, Johnny Mok and Katie Dunlap. The group sounded remarkably good for having such a long program to prepare in about six or seven weeks together!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The 11th Ward – The Original Singles Ward in Albuquerque

I attended the Albuquerque 11th Ward, a now-defunct singles ward in the Albuquerque Stake, during the summer of 1981 and, then, the two-year period between May 1982 and May 1984. The ward met at the old Indian School seminary building on the corner of Cutler Avenue and 9th Street NW (which building the church no longer owns). Since it was the only unit that met there, it kept the same “optimal” Sunday meeting schedule (10 am to 1 pm) the entire time I was there, and in addition maintained the “traditional” order of meetings (priesthood meeting [and Relief Society], followed by Sunday School, with sacrament meeting at the end).

Initially, 11th Ward was a fun and exciting place to be, and I enjoyed most of the activities and being around other young LDS single adults. My closest friends there were Tracy Carroll and Ken Mantlo, whose father Dick was bishop of the ward until he was called in 1982 to the stake presidency of the then-new Albuquerque South Stake (being succeeded as bishop by Tony Aguilar, who was later called to be president of the South Stake). I regret to say, however, that eventually the social aspects of membership in the ward almost completely overwhelmed the spiritual aspects, to the point where about all we did was have fun, often with pretty irreverent overtones.

Still, the ward served its purpose in marrying off lots of couples, even if I wasn’t able to find the right girl there. I can’t remember how many girls there were in the ward in whom I had a passing romantic interest, but three stand out in my mind now. The first was Barbara T______, who I think was from the old 3rd Ward and graduated from West Mesa HS. Barbara was the object of my attentions in the summer of 1981 (and beyond), although she paid only enough attention to me to "keep me hanging on"; I don’t know what became of her, although she moved to Denver and may still live there. The second was Sue A______, who was from the old 1st Ward (having graduated from Highland HS) and was on a mission to Argentina when I first attended the 11th Ward in 1981. Sue, who was a dental hygienist when she and I dated, later went to law school at BYU and became a successful medical-malpractice defense attorney, and I think she married a doctor. The third was Shawna M______, a pretty girl (originally from the old 8th Ward and, at that time, a recent graduate of Eldorado HS) who was (a) rebellious (and thus "dangerous"), and (b) six years my junior. I went fairly ga-ga for Shawna in the summer of 1983, even though she was headed to BYU and I knew things would never work out. She may live in the Pacific Northwest now, but I really don't know. I still have fond memories of all three of these girls -- I wouldn't guess whether they'd say the same about me -- even though my marrying any of them probably would have been a disaster (for both parties) in the end.

Some of my best memories of 11th Ward include the following. The many dances we had, including the memorable one at the Institute building that a number of us guys showed up for in drag. Going to movies at various theaters around town on dollar night (i.e., Tuesday). The “gong” show for which Ken, Tracy, and I put together a “punk” band called “Joe Regulator and the Little Factories” (which male church members will recognize as a reference to Boyd K. Packer's To Young Men Only). The New Year's Eve party in 1982/83 for which Jeff Jolley rented a suite at the Airport Marina Hotel. The Halloween party I went to dressed as a “blind cholo flasher.” (Of course, I did have clothes on under my overcoat, along with a sheet of paper pinned to my shorts that said "Sorry! You did not win this time! Keep trying!") The ward “movie night” for which five or six groups of people put together videos. (Bootleg copies of those videos have circulated for years -- man, I wish I had one!) The talent show in which some of us were Danielle Aleman’s backing group as she sang “Wedding Bell Blues” to her long-time boyfriend Jeff Jolley. (They later married and then divorced.) Hanging out with Dickerson Watkins, the coolest gay friend I’ve ever had (though none of us knew he was gay at the time). Ward campouts (a) up near Cuba (1981), (b) at Elephant Butte Lake (1982), and (c) in the Jemez Mountains (1983). (On the latter trip, Dickerson and Bob Lenberg came up with side-splitting alternative lyrics to the Bread tune “Diary,” which lampooned the ward [I found the bishop’s journal in a drawer / And started reading of our ward…] and various people in it, including me [...And Kevin Kartchner's got a new girl half his age -- a reference to Shawna M_______].) And numerous church basketball and softball games/tournaments, including the 1983 regional basketball tournament in Albuquerque (where I was voted to the all-tournament team), and the 1983 regional softball tournament in Sanford, CO (where, in a real travesty of justice, I most undeservedly won the MVP award).

The photos above are from the aforementioned overnight trip to Elephant Butte Lake in the summer of 1982; the girls "posing" with me in the first shot are Debbie Berger (L) and Yvonne Collyer (R). I'd ridden down to the lake earlier in the day with them and Danielle Aleman, and Danielle took the photo as we were joking around, waiting for everyone else to show up. Yvonne was going out with Ken Mantlo at the time, and Debbie was on what was then presumed to be a temporary hiatus from a long-term relationship with Mark Aguilar, so we were "just friends." (I honestly don't know what's become of Yvonne, despite the fact that I see her brother Tony quite frequently [and Dorine works every day with Tony's wife Tracy]. Debbie eventually married a fellow named Darrell Stephens, and I think they still live in the Albuquerque area.)

Things were never really the same in the ward for me after first Tracy, then Ken, got married, and I finally got tired of the dating scene -- or, in my case, the non-dating scene -- there. (The biggest factor, I remember, was feeling like I had lost face after making a fool of myself one too many times.)  Thus I finally went back to my home ward in May 1984 and started going out with Dorine; looking back, it's easy for me to see the hand of God in all this!

The 11th Ward limped on for several years in the mid-to-late 1980s, but finally it was disbanded, in part due to pressure from the Albuquerque East Stake leadership, who never seemed to like the fact that many of their young adults were attending a ward outside their jurisdiction. (I think we were having way too much fun from their perspective!) The East Stake later created its own singles ward (now known as the Eubank Ward), and I understand there is now also a west-side singles branch in the West Stake.

When the movie The Singles Ward came out in 2002, I tried not to like it, thinking it wouldn’t appeal to my sense of humor. However, the writers must actually have attended a singles ward at some point, because much of the satire was dead-on in my experience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Changes for Darren

Although Darren was expecting to spend at least one more six-week period in Comayagua training Elder Osorio, he received a surprise transfer to a small town further west called Jesús de Otoro. There he'll serve as both district leader (over two pairs of missionaries, including his own companionship) and branch president; needless to say, he's feeling a little overwhelmed by all the added responsibilities, but he must also feel good that his mission president has that kind of confidence in him. His new companion is Elder Capiona, a Bolivian. The attached photo shows Darren at a Primary activity in the small chapel there at Jesús de Otoro. Darren will hit his "hump day" this Friday, September 12 -- now he has a few added challenges as he starts the second year of his mission!