Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Long and Unwinding Road

Years ago, I used to blog a running journal of our family’s vacations as a way to remember all of the crazy little things that happened that are easily forgotten over time. After a week in California, with my wife and five children, I have decided to revive that tradition, at least for this one time, and blog about our adventures in a five part blog post. So without further ado, I present day one of our family vacation to Magic Mountain and Newport Beach.

(As a precursor, we had planned on making the first trek of our journey from Thatcher to Phoenix on Sunday evening. But as things worked out, I was released from the bishopric at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and was needed for different items with regard to the changeover. Consequently, I informed my family that I wanted to leave the next morning by 5:00 a.m. As the night went on, however, I knew that getting up at 4:15 to get out the door by 5:00 would be a bit much, so I set the alarm for 5:00 with the hopes that we could leave by 6:00.)

4:50 a.m. – The slamming of a bathroom cabinet door jolts me from my sleep. I had wrongfully assumed that everyone would wait for me to awaken them to leave. Such was not the case with my 16-year old daughter (who we shall from here on out refer to as Thing 1). Angrily, she proceeds to get ready to go, demanding to know why I had not gotten up when I said I would, thus depriving her of precious sleep. All at once I had a flashback to a time when I did something similar to my wife during our courtship days. For just one moment, I was afraid. Very afraid!

5:30 a.m. – Beyond my wildest dreams, we manage to pull out of our drive a full half-hour before I had imagined we would. The 1-year-old (Thing 5) is set up and ready to go with Mickey in the portable DVD player and I am beyond grateful that I had time to pull a runner to Wal-Mart to get that ever important caffeine-fueled Diet Dr. Pepper. As we pull onto the highway, I mentally calculate in my head, “1 minute down, 9 hours and 59 minutes to go.)

9:40 a.m. – Can’t express my gratitude enough for Brandon Mull and Walt Disney as the last three hours have passed without incident. Thing 5 is still engrossed in the same Mickey, Donald and Goofy feature despite it being on its third showing and the rest of the car is now fully invest in book 2 of Mr. Mull’s Five Kingdoms series. Life is good. We have made our way all the way across the Phoenix valley and it is now time for breakfast. After leaving the small hamlet of Thatcher to come to the big city, we are overwhelmed at the wide plethora of option culinary options available to us. So overwhelmed that we end of up choosing…McDonald’s…located inside of a Wal-Mart. What the %#&@ is the matter with us.

10:05 a.m. – Back in the car and making good time. At least I think we are making good time. Once we get outside of Phoenix, it is hard to tell how we are doing time wise as the horizon in every direction looks like the surface of the moon as far as the eye can see. Gotta love Arizona!

10:48 a.m. – What is it with people who are unable to maintain a speed that is even remotely close to consistent. A white Toyota pick up for the third time pulls ahead of us in the fast lane and then slows down to the speed of the car that we are quickly overtaking in the slow lane. I’m suddenly feeling we might be too harsh on perpetrators of road rage.

11:35 a.m. – CALIFORNIA!!! YEAH!!!! The Rapier family celebrates by…staring on in horror as Thing 5 pukes repeatedly all over herself and the car seat she is sitting in.

11:48 a.m. – Despite all of my best intentions of never visiting this God-forsaken wasteland again, our family finds the first freeway exit available and arrives in Blight, California. Sorry, that’s Blythe, California. If you’ve been there, I’m willing to bet you can understand how I might get the two mixed up.

11:56 a.m. – After much scrambling, Thing 5 is clean and free from her puke dowsed clothing. There is truly nothing like walking around a scary gas station with your sweet little daughter wearing nothing but a diaper. Ahh, the sweet memories I still look back on with fondness of those leering weirdos following every move the two of us make. Meanwhile, a line of highly agitated looking females has formed outside the women’s restroom where Shannon is still barricaded inside trying desperately to work miracles on the car seat armed with only water and restroom paper towels.

12:05 p.m. – Shannon emerges from the bathroom and, to be quite frank, did an amazing job. The car seat ain’t perfect, but in light of where we started, she did an amazing job. However, the seat is still quite wet so we need to find something to put over it as a covering that Thing 5 can sit on. Shockingly, the Shell station where we are at has no such thing. However, they do sell California t-shirts that in theory should cost $3.35. So Shannon instructs me to get one of those and a water bottle while she re-installs the car seat.

12:07 p.m. – The police are called after I jump over the counter of the gas station and bludgeon the attendant after he tells me that the shirts are 3 for $10 and refuses to sell me just one shirt. Okay, the first part of that only occurred in my mind. But I seriously considered it. As a protest I throw the shirt and the water bottle on the counter and leave.

12:08 p.m. – I explain in great detail to my wife the injustice I just suffered. Her response? “Well did you at least get my water bottle?” Grumbling something unintelligible about her stupid water bottle, I start the van and we set off in search of a grocery store or big box store to buy a towel and a water bottle.

12:17 p.m. – The best we can find is a Dollar Tree. Blythe is quickly climbing the chart of Least Favorite Towns I’ve Ever Had To Spend More Than Five Minutes In. The Dollar Tree has no full size towels so I settle for two dish towels, M&Ms for my wife and a cold Diet Dr. Pepper. At this point, I also realized that we had spent so much time in panic mode, we had now reached a point where I needed to use the bathroom. Full-size towels are not the only things the Dollar Tree doesn’t have.

12:21 p.m. – “Where’s my water bottle?” D— IT!!!!!!! I explain that I need to use the bathroom so we will have to make one more stop anyway and I vow to get it there. And in other news, it’s official, Blythe, CA overtakes Lordsburg, NM as my least favorite town ever.

12:25 p.m. – We pull into a Circle K and I leave the van running as I head inside. I can’t describe the relief I feel as I take care of business.

12:30 p.m. – Shannon leaves me with the kids inside the running van as she heads back into the Circle K to get the water bottle I had forgotten for the third time. Any good will I may have built up with my wife during the course of the morning has all been squandered at the expense of some stupid overpriced bottle of Dasani. I’m an idiot!

1:00 p.m. – The Rapier’s successfully fuse cultures as we pull through the drive-through of Taco Bell in Indio, California to purchase burritos and nachos for Things 2 through 5 and then take said bag of burritos and nachos with us into Panda Express where the parents and Thing 1 get something much more closely resembling real food.

1:35 p.m. – We are back on the road and making excellent time. We should easily beat my travel time estimation of 10 hours.

2:00 p.m. – AAAANNNNDDDDD I just cursed myself. For some inexplicable reason, a traffic jam forms near the turn off to Palm Springs. I should point out that the turn off to Palm Springs is not Palm Springs. It is just an intersection in the middle of nowhere. What on earth could possibly cause a traffic jam that would cause us to go at an average speed of…12 MPH?!?!?!?

3:45 p.m. – After almost two hours and about 20 miles, I still have no answer to my question. We haven’t seen an accident, we haven’t seen a wide load blocking multiple lanes of traffic, we haven’t experienced lane closures. We have just experienced mind-numbing slow speeds as we crawl along the interstate. How could all the drivers in California not care that we have a 1-year-old toddler who has limited time in a car before she blows a gasket? GET OUT OF THE FREAKING WAY AND LET US GO!!!!!!

3:46 p.m. – It appears no one heard my desperate plea and we continue on at…12 MPH.

4:20 p.m. – After we pass the exit we would normally take to Disneyland, traffic finally begins to lighten up. Happiest Place on Earth??? Based on what I just saw, I would bet money it won’t be this week.

5:00 p.m. – Traffic Jam #2. Not near as bad and not near as long, but we have a whining toddler in back and we know it can’t be long until that time bomb explodes.

5:38 p.m. – Time bomb goes off. Thing 5 has had enough and begins to wail uncontrollably. Fortunately, according to the navigation on my iPad, we are only 15 minutes away. 15 minutes of crying baby out of 13 hours is definitely more than we could have or should have hoped for.

5:57 p.m. – We arrive at the Grand Vista Hotel in Simi Valley and frankly, this is a mixed bag. We are done driving for the day which is awesome. But on the flip side, the Grand Vista has seen better days. We check in and get on the elevator to go to our rooms. This provided our first exposure to several indistinguishable and yet entirely unpleasant smells we would encounter during our brief stay over at the Grand Vista Hotel.

8:39 p.m. – After most of the family goes swimming and we eat Chipotle for dinner down by the pool, we retire to our adjoining rooms and begin the process of getting everyone to bed. As I am laying on my bed waiting for one of my brood to finish in the bathroom, my 6-year old daughter (Thing 4) wanders in and says, “Your guys room smells better than ours. It smells kind of fruity.” At this point, she inhales deeply and then gets a look of consternation on her face. “Actually, now it smells more like a fart.”

10:00 p.m. – Two important events have occurred, allowing us to turn out the lights and go to bed. We have had family prayer and American Gladiator has come to an end. We say goodnight, shut the adjoining door between rooms and call it a night. Up next, Magic Mountain in the morning.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Email

Why No One Should Want To Be President

There is a game that is highly popular with my family that I absolute refuse to play. Some of you may have heard of it. It’s called Apples to Apples.

Now the reason I refuse to play is very simple. It’s because the game is stupid and it’s rigged. If the group of individuals playing includes multiple women, a man is guaranteed to lose 98% of the time. Now I suppose the outcome might be different if I played with a group of all men, but in that situation, I think the more likely outcome would be that each of us would look at each other and in unison we’d ask ourselves why we are playing such a stupid game when we could be a) golfing, b) watching sports, or c) any of the 1.9 million other things we could be doing that would be more fun than playing Apples to Apples.

So why would I mention this? Because I think we as the American people have created an Apples to Apples type situation for those who would seek the presidency of our country. A situation where no matter the issue, it’s impossible to win.

Case in point: Last week, President Obama suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of his own party with regards to trade policy. In short, what he wanted was the ability to negotiate trade agreements with other nations in good faith. He wanted to be able to assure foreign leaders that what they mutually agreed upon would be guaranteed a straight up or down vote from the U.S. Congress without a bunch of add-ons or changes that would leave the originally negotiated deal looking more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a trade deal. Shockingly, labor unions in our country are very much opposed to this. They, and their Democratic supporters in Congress, believe they should have final say over any trade deal negotiated with any other country. Which in my opinion, is a very bad idea. Any group that is singularly capable of destroying a city like Detroit the way labor unions have should not be granted one whisper of input when it comes to trade policy. Period!

So in this instance, I am very much in line with President Obama. And so should be every other Republican. Especially those individuals who love to eviscerate the President on Facebook or Twitter or Fox News. Each of us bearing a voter registration card with an (R) on it should be lining up to support President Obama on this issue. It is that important.

But we aren’t.

Because in today’s political climate, we are not allowed to give anyone we consider an opponent any credit or support whatsoever. It is simply not allowed. And anyone who might choose to break this sacred practice had best be ready to suffer some form of castration, crucifixion or forced viewing of Two Broke Girls.

And don’t thing Republicans are the only ones guilty of this. Democrats gave George W. no credit for being the first president to provide funding for AIDS relief in third world nations. He also got no credit for Medicare part D nor letting Democrats have such extensive input on his Education initiative. Instead, for his efforts he became the most reviled president by the left we have ever had.

Now don’t get me wrong. I disagree with President Obama on many things and I would certainly never vote for him, but c’mon. When somebody works hard for something you agree with, they should get your props and your support. But unfortunately, in the world of U.S. politics in the 21st century, that’s not possible. Instead, we would rather conduct our political discourse in such a fashion that it is devoid of rationality and common sense. In other words, we would rather play Apples to Apples.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Email

Avenge Me Now, Or Avenge Me Later

The movie, Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron, has only been available for viewing here in the United States for 11 days. And yet, assuming from the vast amounts of money that have already been spent on tickets for this motion picture, I think it is safe to assume that as one who has not yet seen this picture, I am rapidly becoming part of the minority in this country. To be quite frank, the box- office numbers for this flick are insane. (Apparently not quite as insane as they were for the first Avengers, which in some people’s eyes makes the billion + dollars this movie has already made worldwide somehow disappointing, but that is a topic for a different blog post.)

So with each day that passes, the likelihood of the question, “Have you seen the Avengers yet?” turning to “You haven’t seen the Avengers?” grows exponentially. In about a week, I expect the level of incredulity accompanying the second question to hit defcon level. But in short, whether it be this week or next week or even next month, my answer will be a short and unequivocal, “No!”

Now, I can already see some of you beginning to nod your heads in sympathetic understanding as you ask, “Is it because of the sexual innuendo, graphic violence and use of profane language?” To which my answer would be, “No, I’m perfectly fine with all of those things in a movie geared towards teen and preteen children.” (I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Relax.)

But no, that is not the reason I will not be seeing The Avengers this summer. However, my reasoning is just as idealistic if not as morally guided. You see, my goal this summer is to not see one movie in the theater that is a sequel or a reboot or a rebooted sequel or a sequel with everyone wearing cowboy boots of any kind. Bottom line, I don’t want to spend money on a film that provides some variation on characters I have seen before.

“So,” I can hear some asking. “Is this a movement you are trying to start? Are you boycotting Marvel and hoping that thousands will join you in your cause?”

Oh My Heavens NO!!!!!

I own Disney stock. If anything, I want each of you who has seen Avengers to go see it at least three times more. I mean seriously, bump that closing stock price right through the roof.

No, my little financial rebellion is mine and mine alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good retelling of a story or a new concept on an old idea. But frankly, I’d like to, in my own little way, suggest that enough is enough. I don’t need to see a reboot of Full House. It was stupid the first time around. I’d be willing to bet my next two paychecks it won’t be any better this time. I also don’t need to see CSI or NCIS: Barnyard Squad. Come on, come up with a new concept. At this rate, some genius will come up with the idea of creating a show centered around a Latino Archie Bunker or, heaven forbid, remake Ghostbusters with women.

Wait, What!?!? Are you seriously telling me that both of those concepts are currently in the pipeline? Really!!! Then consider my point doubly made. Oy!!!

So, anyway, there it is. My declaration of summer. NO SEQUELS OR REBOOTS!!! And may the force live long and prosper.

(Now, to be clear, I do intend to rent The Avengers when it becomes available on Blu-Ray. Also, this sequel thing is only good until September 22nd. I mean, c’mon, the new James Bond movie is due out this November and it’s titled, Spectre. FREAKING SPECTRE!!! I may be strong, but I’m not made of steel. Plus, I’m not going to lie. I, along with the rest of the world, am dying to see if J.J. Abrams has make the first decent Star Wars movie since the ’80s.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Email

When One Door Closes

Although I have been given no concrete verification, I just have a feeling that my time as a member of my ward’s bishopric is coming to an end. All of which is fine and good and as it should be. I mean, seriously, we hit our six year mark in April. It’s time.

(Again, I haven’t been told anything so don’t take this as anything more than the ramblings of a hopeful man. It could still be months away for all that I know (in which case I would look incredibly foolish) it is just that these thoughts have been very much on my mind so I am putting them to paper, or rather to screen, now.)

So, if all holds to form, some time soon, we will arrive at sacrament meeting and the stake presidency will be there. The new bishopric will be announced and then both the new and the old bishoprics will be invited to share their testimonies. So my question is, how do you possibly wrap up six years worth of service into one testimony?

The answer is, you don’t.

In fact, my comments should be short and concise so that I will leave plenty of time for the outgoing bishop to express his thoughts. So instead of being “that guy” who takes 20 minutes in sacrament meeting to self-indulge and in the end says not much more than if he had shut it down after five minutes, I will be “that guy” who self-indulges here and share some reflections of my last six years.

It is hard to believe that I was 35 years old when I received the call. I had lived in Thatcher for four years and had been in the teacher’s quorum for the entire time. I didn’t know that anyone outside of the current bishopric and Rhett Dodge knew my name. It is hard to believe that I lost my mom two weeks later. Much like this calling, it doesn’t feel that long ago and yet, at the same time, it feels so much longer.

Now, I am 41 (staring down 42 in just over a month) and I feel much older.

During these six years, I wrote a book. Our family welcomed another baby. And I somehow got roped into making an idiot out of myself not once, but three times, all for the sake of making a trek exciting for the youth of our stake. (Whose brilliant idea was Baby Got Hat anyway?) In short, a lot has happened.

I am so thankful for so many of the experiences this calling has blessed me with. One of the first that comes to mind is the role I was able to play in the open house of the Gila Valley Temple. I was asked, along with Kimble Hansen, to be the local point of contact for the media and be a part of the Public Relations committee. I’m not sure why being on a bishopric mattered for this assignment, but apparently it did. Nonetheless, it remains one of my greatest memories to be there for several shifts overseeing the tour guides. Also, the experience of being there with the press (all two or three of them) right near the cornerstone when President Monson came out to put the final mortar in place was beyond words.

I have been thrilled at the opportunities I have had to spend time with the young people of our ward. I will never forget the evenings spent in the garage of the Dodge cabin up in Nutrioso where Phil Oliver and Hal Skinner would be cooking while the rest of the adults would sit around talking. (In actuality, it usually ended up being the rest of us listening to Calvert Allred share Border Patrol stories…which were AWESOME!!!) During the course of those discussions, the boys would often drift in and hang around in the background. After two or three nights of this, the hour was getting later when some of the boys began to ask when we were headed to the garage for “man talk.” Man I hope we didn’t say anything too destructive to the mind of an impressionable teen.

Of course not everything over the course of six years is going to be positive. I’m going to admit something that I probably shouldn’t, but here goes. I have never made many remarks regarding the Ordain Women movement. Mainly because, although I don’t necessarily agree with their views and methods, I must admit that I am one of those that struggles with certain questions. One of those was made more apparent to me because of my service.

There is no doubt to me that our church is a product of the time in which it was founded. Even with all of the advances made in the last ten years, we are still a highly patriarchal faith. Which brings me to the disciplinary aspects of the church. At a bishopric level, almost everyone we met with in this setting was female. (Melchizedek priesthood holders are handled at a stake level.) In each instance I remember thinking, I will do my best and seek the Lord’s help, but I am not a woman. How am I supposed to relate to her on her level? The whole experience felt very cold and 19th century to me because it was not appropriate for us as men to offer a hug or any kind of physical contact and yet it felt sometimes that a hug was exactly what was needed to convey what the Savior would have done for this person. In short, it felt like we needed the presence of a woman. I hope I don’t come across as a contrarian, it was just one of the things from my experience I will not look back on with fondness.

Another is overseeing six different Friends of Scouting drives. Now, I wrote a book detailing in two different chapters my deep and abiding love for scouting so I will say no more, except this: Real friends don’t make you bum money off of little old ladies.

But the negatives are few and are so overwhelmed by the positives. The people who would bring food for us during tithing settlement; the individuals who accepted callings I know they would have preferred not to have; the answers to calls for service that were met without question by numbers that would bring tears to the eye; and finally, the opportunity to work alongside two of the most God-fearing, humble and extraordinary men I have ever known.

I will miss it. But not enough to ever want to do it again. Because I have missed sitting in church next to my amazing wife and wonderful kids more. It has been an amazing six years. And when the time comes, I will be the first to offer my support to whomever it is that takes our place.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Email