Thursday, September 29, 2005


One of the things from my pre-summer list of things I was looking forward to was seeing "Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz."

I didn't read the book by Gregory Maguire, mostly because I had tried reading one of his other ones about Cinderella's step-sister and couldn't even get through the first 50 pages, which for me is saying quite a lot because I love to read, so it wasn't the story that intrigued me.

Oh, and it especially wasn't the story of "The Wizard of Oz" that I loved that made me excited to see it, because I hate that movie. Okay, maybe "hate" is strong. But "hated" works. When I was little and that would be the featured Sunday Night Family Movie on Easter Sunday or whatever, I could only get as far as the witch's castle because the flying monkeys freaked my tree. Really. Scared me. To death. Or at least scared me to not being able to sleep well. Just ask my sisters -- I'm sure they'll tell you all about it. Anyway, I don't know that I ever made it completely through the movie. The only time in recent, memorable history that I'd seen it completely all the way through was when I was in Chile. For some reason, it wasn't as scary in Spanish.

Speaking of the monkeys, three of my friends who I was going to go see it with first were sending an email back and forth while I was in Guatemala talking about the reviews the play was getting here in L.A. One of them said that someone she knew had gone to see it already and had this to say: "The sets are great, the music is great, the cast is great. [Laura, close your eyes]

She did say the flying monkeys are pretty scary. No one mention this to Laura..."

So you can see that I wasn't thrilled about the original story, or even the book the musical was based on.
But a couple of years ago I made one of the best music investments ever when I shelled out $17 for the soundtrack. A friend of ours had seen the pre-Broadway version in San Francisco and raved about how great it was. I didn't understand all the nuances of the story just from listening to the CD so I asked my friend to fill in the blanks for me. I was hooked. The music was beautiful, the lyrics creative, and the story intricate -- with the details it wove in from the original L. Frank Baum story to the current one.
I ended up seeing it three times this summer. I actually had tickets for a fourth night, but ended up selling those ones to a friend. I plan on seeing it again when it comes to the OC next summer. It is absolutely entrancing.

People more qualifed than I have gotten paid to write actual critical reviews of it, so I won't do that, but I did want to share some of my favorite words or lines from it that I wrote down because they were so enchanting.

"It's good to see me, isn't it?" (Glinda when she's descending from the sky in her bubble.

"You've been Galinda-fied." (Fiyero to Elphaba when he sees she's a victim of one of Glinda's makeover attempts.)

"You think I'm really stupid, don't you?"

"No, not REALLY stupid." (Fiyero and Elphaba.)

"He's been thinking, which worries me." (Glinda to Elphaba regarding Fiyero)

"I don't cause commotions, I am one." (Elphaba)

"I happen to be deeply shallow." (Fiyero)

"Excuse us just a tick-tock." (Glinda to her adoring public.)

(then a bit later:) "Wait just a clock tick."

"There's a goat on the lam!" (don't remember who says this, but it's hilarious.)

"We can't all come and go by bubble." (Elphaba to Glinda)

"And that poor little dog, Dodo!" (Glinda to Elphaba)

"Lemons and melons and pears."

"Oh, my." (Boq and Nessarose talking about what's in the punch.)

"I clash with everything." (Elphaba commenting on her green skin.)

And some fun, Glinda-fied words:



Definish chance.



Toss-toss. (what Glinda does to her hair to try and teach Elphaba how to be Pop-uuuu-laaaaaarrrr)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Homing Humans

I was reading today in the fabulous book, "Catwatching" by Desmond Morris a snippet about cats' homing devices. A German zoologist did an experiment where he crated several cats then drove them many miles outside of town using a very circuitous route, to a maze that he had constructed in a field. The entire maze was enclosed so that no natural light could enter to give navigation clues to the cats. The majority of the cats selected the passage which was pointing directly toward their home.

Other cat scientist people though there must be some sort of flaw in that method. So they performed more tests with US cats. They doped the cats, putting them into a deep sleep before the trip so that they couldn't retain any visual clues. Upon arrival they were allowed to wake up fully and then were put to a similar navigational test. Astonishingly, they knew their way home.

Morris goes on to say that it has since been discovered that may species, including human beings, "possess an extraordinary sensitivity to the earth's magnetic field which enables them (and us) to find the way home without visual clues. The experimental technique that clinched this was one in which powerful magnets were attached to the navigators. This disrupted their homing ability.

"We are still learning exactly how this homing mechanism works. It seems likely that iron particles occurring naturally in animal tissues are the vital clue, giving the homing individuals a built-in biological compass."

I am intrigued by the idea that humans have a built in homing mechanism based on iron particles that point to a specific place. It begs some questions. What home does your built-in mechanism point to? What magnets might disrupt your homing device and put you off-track? What does your personal compass use as its own North Star?

Many of you will see what obvious (to me, at least) parallels I can easily draw here, but I'll tell you what I hope my own homing mechanism is.

Though "beautiful downtown Burbank" is a wonderful place to live and the place I currently call "home," it is not my permanent home. Nor is Walnut Creek where I grew up. Humans move around a lot. No one stays in the same place for a lifetime. What, then, is "home?" For me, I define home as the place I came from originally and the place to which I hope to someday return permanently -- heaven. Whatever name you assign to it, to me, it means the permanent home of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

My compass can be a lot of different things -- a testimony of the divinity of the Savior, daily prayer, the scriptures, the guidance of the Holy Ghost -- essentially, anything that keeps my homing device pointed to heaven.

The strong magnetic forces that mess up my own personal compass, or the built-in ability to sense where the pathway to home is can be anything. Too numerous to name, says King Benjamin, and in today's world, are constant and omnipresent. They also change from day to day, depending on individual and circumstances.

Polaris, the guiding star by night that is constant and doesn't change position even as all the other nighttime constellations rotate and move, can be an obvious analogy to Christ. Always there, always beckoning, always guiding. I just have to be willing to look and be guided.

What home are you looking for? How will you get there? How do you know what path to take? How do you not get off course?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


The importance of friends in our lives I think cannot be defined succinctly, cannot fully be comprehended as to its importance in our lives, and as such, can be, I think, taken for granted. People much more talented and word-smithy than I have undertaken this topic and there are books and articles written on the topic that cover it much better than I ever could. Even as I write this, I know how woefully inadequate anything I write will be in comparison.

The blessing of a true friend is just that -- a blessing. There is something magical, and perhaps even a bit mystical that happens with friendship. Like the miracle of the Grinch's heart expanding within his chest with the gift of giving, friendship makes one heart feel better than it can on its own. Being listened to, heard and understood, and offering those gifts in kind makes a good person better. Carl Jung said it this way: "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."

Not only can a good and true friend make you a better person, but the value comes in other immeasurable ways. You find a type of validation that you don't get with strangers, work associates or even good acquaintances. "In a friend you find a second self." (Isabelle Norton.)

Or the same sentiment is expressed this way: "True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self, and in the next from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions." (Joseph Addison) We become people we cannot become on our own. Oh, I know I've already said that, but there truly is something wonderful that happens when you find someone with whom you can share your thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams. It really is as though by finding a second self, your own self enlarges and expands. You become more capable in goals and endeavors, and more able to help others.

The writers of South Park expressed the value of friendship this way: "I've learned that all a person has in life is family and friends. If you lose those, you have nothing, so friends are to be treasured more than anything else in the world." (Trey Parker and Matt Stone)

Can a high enough value ever be placed on friendship? Certainly not monetarily. And you can't measure or value spiritual and emotional growth, so perhaps that is why we struggle with expressing the importance of friends. It can't be expressed properly because it can't be valued in human, mortal terms of measurement. Only the soul truly knows the worth of a true friend.

I have been blessed in my life with many wonderful friends. Some have lasted for a shorter time than others, especially when I was younger and perhaps it was easier to take all of those for granted. In fact, as I've grown older, and (hopefully) matured, friends and the blessings they bring into my life become more precious and valued. When a friendship is lost, for whatever reason, it makes it that much more painful because I believe that I've reached a point in my life where no friendship is trivial. And understanding all that other stuff about being able to speak spirt-to-spirit and heart-to-heart in ways that only the soul understands and values makes it nearly unacceptable. And AND if a true friend really is a second self, losing a friend is like a kind of amputation. I don't want it. It hurts. It's a part of me that's lost, not just the other person. So when I've had no choice in the matter, well, that really bites.
There is a great scene in the movie "Beaches" with Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler. There has been a rift in their friendship for several years, and they finally have a moment where CC, Bette's character, is forcing Hillary (Barbara Hershey) to confront the fact that she has refused to speak to CC for many years.

Hillary:I don't even remember what it was I was mad about and I don't care. Whatever it was that you did, I forgive you.

CC Bloom: What I did? You and your lousy letters. Just to get one of them made me special even before I opened it. All your crappy stories, all your big dreams.

Hillary: I didn't know that.

CC Bloom: Well, what the hell did you know? Did you know how bad things were for me? No, because you wouldn't even open my letters. If you had even answered one, just one! Told me what a jerk I was, anything! But you didn't. You took your friendship away without even discussing it with me.
I know exactly how CC feels. Like her, I have specific ideas of what comprises a friendship. I believe there must be mutual respect, communication, and a certain amount of time invested. I know that events come and go, but friends can be constant, if that friendship is nurtured. Nurturing doesn't have to be a full-time job, but there is an investment required. With no investment, nothing can be earned. I don't believe that friendships are an even 50/50 split of time, just as with any relationship. With any relationship that matters, neither party will count the investment percentage. But both parties will emerge better people because of time that's been invested. And if there is no investment on one side, just like with CC and Hillary, a breaking point is reached, and the decision must be made to either make a clean break and move on, or resolve differences and move on.

I understand that friendships come and go. I know that sometimes you become friends with someone for brief moments for very specific reasons and that some of them aren't meant to last for this entire lifetime. I get all of that. But that doesn't lessen the hurt when one is taken away from me, by that friend, prematurely and without my permission.

It's hard to make an offering of friendship and have it rejected. But I know that I'd be willing to accept the friendship were it ever offered again. But I don't know that it will be. And that, more than anything, is what bites. I do not want to accept that it is totally over, but I fear it is. The problem is, that decision has been taken away from me, and I don't like that. But there's only so many times and ways I can continue to offer my friendship up before the comparable amount of rejection makes me unwilling to make one final offer. I want to make that one final offer, but I am human, and as such, despise rejection.

Perhaps it really doesn't matter that it's over if I take this last quote to heart: "Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone - but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming." -- William Hazlitt

To all my friends, past, future and present, thank you for all the lessons you've taught me, the love you've freely given, and the growth in me you've encouraged. I love you all. After all is said and done, the blessing in this can be the lesson to learn to forgive more easily in the midst of feeling wronged and misunderstood, and to not take anyone for granted, because you just don't know how long it will last.

I hope I can freely return the friendship to you that you have given me.