For My Mom

My mother sadly passed away August 23rd. Originally for her memorial service I wanted to just sit there and let it pass by. After a couple weeks though I had the feeling that I should be the one to give her eulogy. Below is that eulogy.

In all honesty I have no idea what to say.  Well that’s not true because for the last two weeks it’s been hard to not think about my mother and what she has meant to me.  Rather I don’t know how to say it in a way that won’t come across as rambling or go on for days.  And I mean literal days, that isn’t figurative.  How does one compartmentalize the life of 62 years into a ten minute talk and not leave out anything?  It’s impossible, especially when the person you are talking about is your closest friend, greatest ally, and strongest support.  But I am going to try and do my best.
Sandra was born in 1952 in Spokane, WA to Allen and Elaine Bushman.  He was in the Air Force and moved around a lot so it’s really a good thing she had four brothers and a sister to keep her grounded.  Her mother was sick a lot of the time and as such Sandy spent a lot of time taking care of her younger siblings, though she definitely favored her youngest brother Robert over Beverly who was just too cute and girly and pretty much everything my mom wasn’t.
She married my dad Ralph in 1970 when she was just 18 and while her mothering instincts were there I was stubborn and didn’t show up until 1980.  Due to the many struggles with her pregnancy and her many medical ailments I was also the last of her children, but that never stopped her from spreading her love and care out to her many nieces and nephews or even my many friends growing up.  She was always there with an ear to listen and as much support as she could give, usually far beyond her means to actually give.
Not to go off on a tangent but I’m absolutely going to go off on a tangent here, that’s the one thing she was ALWAYS doing – giving far beyond her means to give. Not even with just me or my relatives, but with EVERYONE.  She bought winter coats for my friends who couldn’t afford them, she bought new shoes for my friends growing up when they couldn’t afford to buy new shoes.  While living in a small two bedroom apartment my cousin Tenea came and lived with us for months because she didn’t have anywhere else to go.  My mom quit her job and uprooted her entire life in Lewiston just because she felt that my cousin Rob would be a good influence on me.  And that’s just a few things I could think of off the top of my head.  In her years in various assisted living homes there was not a single Christmas that passed where she didn’t take the time to personally address a Christmas card to every single resident in the various facilities that she lived in, whether she knew them or not, just to make sure they got a Christmas card and knew that someone was thinking of them and knew they existed.  If I were to leave you with one lesson to learn from my mother it would be to give always.
She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1983 and I’m really only saying that because it’s a fact that we have to talk about and it’s pertinent to the story of her life so leaving it out would be doing a disservice to the fact that they gave her 10 years to live from that point and if we are doing math she survived thirty two, but at the same time that disease wasn’t who she was just something that she had so this is also the last time I am going to talk about it.
My parents divorced in 1988 and while that’s another sad thing that I wish I didn’t have to include in this it’s is also part of what made my mom so amazing and helped us forge the relationship that we had, have - I honestly don’t know if I should use past tense there or not but you get the point.  She was both mother and father to a little boy struggling to find his own place in this world dealing with her own struggles the disease that shall not be named, from here on out if I have to talk about it I will just call it Voldemort.  Looking back at it, and If I were to risk two pop culture references that would have gone completely over my mom’s adorable head in a row, it’s like Tupac Shakur said “I finally understand for a woman it ain’t easy tryin to raise a man.” But she once again utilized strengths beyond her means and I can honestly tell you that if I were a child from a traditional family I would not be the man I am today and it is all thanks to her.  If I were to leave you with a second lesson to learn from my mother it would be that we all have the ability inside of us to transform the lives of those around us no matter our weaknesses and struggles.
Not content with just taking care of an annoying brat of a kid, oh trust me if you knew me then you could testify to the accuracy of that sentiment, and fighting an endless battle with Voldemort, she also found time to get an education and keep her mind sharp.  It may have taken her six years to get a two year degree in accounting from Lewis Clark State College, but the important thing isn’t how long it took, it was that she managed to do it and succeed.  Her own desire to push through and achieve something has motivated me countless times to see things through to the end - like my own struggles with high school and the fact that I wanted to stop writing this eulogy five paragraphs ago.  If I were to leave you with a third lesson to learn from my mother it would be to see things to the end and when things seem their darkest, keep going and the reward at the end will be worth all the scars and pain.
So at this point I am going to take a moment to tell you a quick story about my mom.  For the last few years she had been living in SeaTac and thanks to my latest job being at the Southcenter mall she finally had her wish of the two of us spending A LOT of time together.  Being the thoughtful son I am I managed to combine my love of movies and getting my mom out of her apartment into almost weekly excursions to the movie theater.  I would let her pick the movies from a list of either things I wanted to see or things I hadn’t seen yet depending on the week, but her picks were incredibly random and impossible for me to predict.  Just to give you an idea - over the span of three weeks she picked “If I Stay”, a teen drama about a girl in a coma deciding if she should live or die, “What If”, a romantic comedy about two strangers that try to be friends instead of falling in love, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, a movie about teenage mutant ninja turtles.  The movies did not really matter to her, it was the spending time out of the house and more importantly with me that mattered.   And no matter how terrible the movie was, and if I am being completely honest a lot of the movies we saw together were terrible, walking out of the theater she would have a smile on her face and would tell me that she liked it. I don’t know if she ever actually did like these movies or if she was just saying she did because she didn’t want me to feel bad but it really doesn’t matter because those movies, good or bad, will forever be our movies and that makes them the best movies.   I had to talk her into seeing Guardians of the Galaxy after the Turtles movie because I was curious what her opinion of it would be, she thought it was related to the Marvel tv show she didn’t watch so she was hesitant.  After walking out of the theater I asked which movie she liked more Guardians or Turtles.  After pausing for a bit to think she replied “I think Guardians, because it wasn’t based on earth.”  I hadn’t even thought of that as a possible response.  It wasn’t based on earth. The simplest things in life brought her happiness.  If I were to leave you with a fourth lesson from my mother it would be not to let the bad overwhelm the good in life and to always remember that at the very least you have, it wasn’t based on earth.
Now that I have told you about the life of my mother I’d like to take some time and tell you about the person that she was.  It was always hard to convince her that she was wrong.  No matter what, what she wanted to do was the way things were going to go even if they weren’t feasible or practical.  Every time daylight savings time would roll around, like clockwork, terrible pun intended, she would call and ask me to come over and set her clocks for her.  I would try and convince her that it would be easier if someone from her facility did that for her, or that it was a bit of a drive, or that I didn’t have a car and not really something I was excited about spending two hours on the bus to do no matter how much I loved her but to no avail she would explain that no one there would do it and that maybe I could do it the next day I worked so it would be less of a drive, or that I could get a roommate to drive me.  No matter the excuse she had a counter for it and every single time I would cave and switch her clocks.  After a few times of playing this game I realized that it wasn’t really about the clocks but rather about spending time with me any chance she got and eventually I stopped trying to get out of it and let her have her way.  This isn’t so much a life lesson I want you to take from my mom but still the lesson to be learned here is never take no for an answer, and just spend time with your mom you selfish jerk.
Four years ago in an effort to get my mom to ease back on her greeting card habit I tried to explain that to some people they are just cards and people don’t really keep them around unless they are for important events.  “well why not?  If you gave me a card I would keep it forever because it captures how you feel about me and shows that you took the time to find the right one for me.” I had honestly never thought of cards in that way before.  To me they were fun to look at but never survived more than a couple weeks from when I got them.  It was at that moment I had an idea that would become a tradition and would easily be the best Christmas gift I’d ever given my mom.  I asked all my friends to send her cards from all around the world.  That first year she received well over a hundred cards.  It was a lot of fun every time I came over there were new cards for me to hang on her door and I got to tell her where they were from and how I knew the person.  At first though the plan was to not tell her about the idea.  I wanted her to have these special moments all to herself.  I wanted her to see how much her love as a mother had reached.  I wanted her to realize that she really was the best mother I could ask for.  That plan naturally was ruined when the first card came.  “Allen who is Emily Brunson?  She sent me a Christmas card and said she was your friend.” “oh she’s just a friend of mine.  I wonder how she got your address.” “well I’m gonna send her a card.  That’s the rule if I get a card from you, you get a card back.” “Mom…. You can’t do that.  I don’t want to explain but you just can’t do that.” “But that’s the rule.” “Okay look mom I did this thing and you’re going to be getting cards from all over the place so you can’t do that.  We will find another way to tell everyone thank you.” “Okay but if I know them and they send a card I’m sending them a card” “that will work mom”.  And those cards stayed up for an entire year until the next batch came and we started all over again. If I were to leave you with a sixth life lesson from my mom it would be this, pick the right greeting cards, they are more than just empty sentiment.  Also I am going to need everyone to send me cards this year because I’m not ready to let go of this yet.
Honestly I probably should have ended this a while ago but I want to leave you with one last life lesson.  This time from my life.  Hug your mother.  Every chance you get.  Tell them you love them. Every chance you get.  Even if they are far away, reach out and let them know just how much they mean to you.  And do all the little things they ask, because it’s important to them.  One last story.  I forget how old I was when my mom got rebaptized into the church.  I was probably in my teens at this point and way into my rebellious phase.  She had asked me and my cousins to sing “I am a child of God” as a part of the program.  At first I had told her I would but the closer the time came to sing the more I didn’t want to and so I backed out and made the moment about me instead of her. So my cousin Rob sang all by himself.   It sounds weird but for the last two weeks I’ve thought about that moment and just how selfish I had been.  It was forever ago and I had done countless things for her but I never sang that song.  I should have sung that song.  Fast forward to a few years ago and my mom had just gotten back from a friend’s funeral in Prosser where she sang like she always loved to do.  “Allen you may not like it but you’re going to sing at my funeral”.  Well you’re right mom I don’t like it, and truth be told I don’t remember what song it was you had told me I was going to sing.  But I am going to sing today.  Because no matter how much I don’t want to do it, it means that much more to you.

(Sing I Am A Child Of God)

I love you mom.


An update of sorts

So after much deliberation and even more chaos, I have managed to put together a podcast.  To those of you that do not know what a podcast is it's essentially prerecorded radio on the Internet except awesome.  The reason I wanted to create this podcast was mainly because after I turned 31 I had come to a crossroad in my life where there was a group of friends that I was going to lose contact with if I didn't force myself to come up with reasons to hang out with them.  It sounds stupid but that's how my mind works.  If I don't see you or talk to you on a regular basis I most likely won't ever talk to you.  You're out of my direct memory and as a result I think that you wouldn't want to spend time with me so I chose to just be alone or find new friends.  I've lost many a friend because of this and I decided that I needed to find a way to change this behavior, or at least force myself to invite friends over to hang out with me.  And thus the Unoriginal Thought Process Podcast was born.  The idea is that I will invite some friends to come onto the show with me every week and we'll just talk.  talk about their lives, their relationships, funny things that have happened in their lives.  Just catch up and hang out for a bit.  I realize I could do this without the hook of recording the podcast, but I thought that this would be more fun and it would share with the world just how awesome all of my friends are.  So far I've got one episode in the books and this week I'm recording Episode two that should be marketable better and then we can build from there.  So please do give it a listen, subscribe and share your thoughts with me either here, or on facebook or even better just leave a comment on the libsyn page.  I promise I'm going to still be updating my blog here with about as much regularity as I have been, hopefully more.  I'm just really excited for this new project and I hope to take all of you along for the ride with me.



I don't really have a lot to say, but instead I just encourage you to listen.


Words I Should Have Said

Hey.  How are you doing?  I hope everything is going well with you in your new life.  I hear things are going smoothly and that you are quite happy, and I am truly glad.  Anyway enough with the small talk it's time I just came out and cut to the chase.  A few months ago I deleted you from Facebook and Twitter.  About a month after that I finally worked out the courage to delete your number from my phone.  This isn't my way of apologizing for doing that because in all honesty you deleted me first.

Yeah that's right you deleted me first.

If we were to take a ride in the Way Back Machine to four years back you would see that you were my best friend.  I could tell you anything.  We would text until the ends of the night.  It was because of you that I had to get unlimited texts you remember that?  You told me about how the latest boy you were dating was driving you crazy, how much you loved a certain show and the time you spent with your family (even if they did drive you to the brink of insanity from time to time). I would tell you it would all get better eventually.  I would tell you about my struggles with my weight.  With my job. With my friends.  With my family. With everything. My favorite times together though was just being around you and not needing to say a word.  In those moments I felt like nothing could hurt me.  No matter what was happening through my life there was safety in those moments.

I thought you knew me better than anyone, especially when I would go through my phases.  You knew everything there could be about me and how I worked.  Sure we would have our moments of difficulty but what friends don't?  You knew about my tendencies to worry about nothing.  To make fun of and ridicule people, especially when I first meet them. To get quiet and whiny when things don't go my way.  To lie and say everything is fine when they obviously aren't.  So many other idiosyncratic aspects of my personality that even I don't immediately recognize.  Maybe at one point you did.

When you decided to move you knew how much it was bothering me and how much I believed that things wouldn't be the same once you left.  You swore to me that they wouldn't.  You told me that I would still see you when you would visit.  You said we would still talk.  You convinced me things would stay the same.

I really should have known better than to believe you.

It started off small.  I would send you texts and it would slowly take you longer to respond.  I would write on your wall only to be met with silence.  The birthday present I bought you was returned because you couldn't get time off work to come up for the game.  You did make time to see me when you came up to visit your family so of course I forgot all about the past slights and thought everything was fine and that error in judgement got me through the next bit until I realized the cycle was continuing on.

Time went on and you told me about a boy you were dating.  How much you liked him.  How you thought maybe he would be the one.  I was happy for you.  I only made one simple request - Don't let me find out about your engagement on Facebook or Twitter.  You laughed and promised I wouldn't.  Four months or so later and you were engaged and I found out on Facebook and Twitter.  You claimed to have texted me but those things don't exactly get lost.

I blamed this distance that was growing between us on your new Fiancee.  He clearly was the one driving you away from any male friends you have out of jealousy.  Clearly if I could just make him go away I would have my friend back.  And so came the day that I finally met the man I disliked so very much.  I would make him feel  unwelcome among your friends he would leave you.  The plan was simple.  Obvious.  I made fun of him, ignored him.  Basically treated him like crap.  The funny thing was he took it.  He was a good sport about it, and he even seemed like he was actually a nice guy.  Now I realize that it wasn't your now husband's fault we grew apart and I am greatly sorry for how I treated him.  He didn't deserve that.  All he wanted was to be my friend and I pushed him away.  If I could take back the way treated him that night I would.

After that day things were awkward between us.  I never really quite felt like you wanted to talk to me.  You stopped following me on Twitter.  You stopped responding to my texts.  After I planned a trip to San Fran to visit you and get to know your fiancee more you magically had to go out of town the weekend I had planned even after verifying with you that you would be in town before I booked.  You essentially vanished from my life.  I did get an invite to your reception but the entire time I doubted if you actually wanted me there.  Even up until the week before the joyous day I needed reassurance from your sister that you wanted me there.  Of course the entire time there was awkward, uncomfortable and only salvaged by mutual friends who knew my situation.  We talked a little bit but it was superficial and empty.

okayness.  I decided that I wasn't going to reach out to you for this to happen because every time I've reached out in the past nothing was reciprocated.  If you wanted to prove you wanted to still be friends it would be up to you to initiate.  When the time came and you were in town I gave you three days before I reached out to talk to you.  We talked briefly and in vague terms about getting together for lunch or something.  And then nothing.  Our last conversation led to unmet expectations.  How fitting.

Recently I found out why you stopped being my friend.  It seems that you didn't know how to be my friend after I made fun of your new husband.  I have multiple problems with that logic though.  I have made fun of almost everyone you have ever dated up to that moment.  I make fun of almost everyone I meet.  It's how I operate and learn how people will put up with me.  We never had this issue until him.  Furthermore you were my best friend. Best. Friend.  One would think with that designation you would know what I was doing and why.  Clearly you were just looking for an excuse to cut off your friends.

I wouldn't be as upset with this situation we currently find ourselves in if you had just been honest with me when you moved and admitted that things weren't going to stay the same.  Is it really that hard to say "Hey I know things aren't going to be the same between us once I move but that's okay because you're going to move on and find other people that will take my place.  We'll always have our memories and you'll always be near to my heart."?  No instead you toyed with my emotions and led me on and now those memories are forever tainted and I have no desire to ever have anything to do with you.  You ruined it.  Congratulations.



Oh hey can you play...

So like I mentioned in the last post there was a Sweet Meet and fun was had.  As tradition dictates, for the last few years anyway, there is a dance that follows.  Once again I was lucky enough to be asked to DJ this dance.  Now I really do love to DJ church dances, if for no other reason than I am that arrogant guy that thinks he can do better than most of the DJs that do the church dances he attends and as such spends most of the night complaining about the music being played.  Now I do give a little bit of slack because I know how hard it is and I know that they are just doing their best, but my best is usually better unless the DJ is someone I actually know then I tend to shut up and enjoy myself.

Better than you.
 Now my preparation for these sorts of things actually starts long before the event.  From the moment I am asked to DJ the dance I begin researching the music that the kids are listening to these days.  I scour the iTunes and Billboard charts to see if there is something new out there that I should play, or that would most likely get requested.  Then I start downloading songs to fill my computer.  I want to make sure that aside from having all of the dance standards I try and keep it as current as possible.  Nothing really beyond 5 years unless it's timeless like Michael Jackson or the like is my general rule of thumb.

After downloading the songs comes culling a playlist.
You don't want it to be too top heavy.
It needs to be a steady incline in fun.
You can't focus too much on one or two genres because you then run the risk of alienating people who don't like those one or two genres.
You have to anticipate requests.
You have to include slow songs.
You have to include fast songs.
You have to properly space the songs.
You have to over plan and include more songs than you need.
You can't have any songs that swear.
You can't have any songs with inappropriate themes.
You have to achieve the impossible.

You would think this would be enough but in actuality it is only beginning.  Once your playlist is finally ready it's time for the dance to begin.  In a perfect world I could just set my laptop up to the sound system, walk away and go have fun with everyone else.  Sadly the world isn't perfect and I get to spend the entire evening (save for the slow songs) sitting on the stage trying to figure out which song I should play next to keep things going.  If your lucky your preset playlist won't change much.  If you aren't you will have changed absolutely everything by the end of the night.  On the night of the Sweet Meet I wasn't lucky.  I started with what was originally #17 on my playlist and it just went downhill from there.  Here's a link to a quick spreadsheet I put together for this blog of my playlist for the Sweet Meet.  It's color coded to show you everything I played and everything else I planned on playing.

A few notes that you might find interesting about that playlist.  You won't find Ke$ha anywhere on there.  Not only is she devoid of musical talent, she is also trash and her songs are all about being a whore aka not appropriate.  The song "Teach Me How To Dougie" was in fact played, though quite begrudgingly.  They requested it around song #5.  As you can see I held out until song #17 to play it.  The logic to that is simple really.  That song/dance is retarded.  You know who should be doing the Dougie?  Paul Wall.  You know who shouldn't?  Over privileged self-indulgent white people.  No.  Knock it off.  I only played it because they literally hounded me all night with requests for it and I wanted to shut them up.  It was futile however as with three songs left the self appointed voice of the people came up to me and said "Man you gotta play Dougie again!" I simply said "No.  No I do not." and went back to my business of playing good music.  Needless to say if I ever DJ a dance again I have learned my lesson and I will simply tell these annoying brats that I don't have their stupid song.

Generally speaking everyone had a good time and thought I did a wonderful job with the music.  Or at least that is what I heard from everyone that knew I was the DJ.  Last Sunday I overheard a conversation about the dance where someone mentioned that they didn't have a good time because I didn't play enough slow songs because "that's the only reason to go to those things".  Now I have more than a few issues with this logic.  the first issue is I only played 22 songs and two of those were slow songs.  They were spaced out to fit almost exactly to the ratio of 1 slow song every 11 songs.  In my eyes that's a good ratio.  Secondly, Do you know when I got requests to play slow songs?  When I was just about to play a slow song.  I know my audience and I knew when they wanted to dance and when they wanted to slow dance.  Thirdly if you wanted more slow songs, come up and ask for them.  There were people on the stage with me all night long requesting songs.  And considering how often I accommodated their requests I would have done the same for you too.  And Finally, I received many, many, MANY compliments from the women in attendance for NOT playing that many slow songs.  It turns out that because the ratio of women to men is so lopsided at these sorts of activities many of the women spend the slow songs sitting off to the side wondering why the many boys that aren't dancing aren't asking them to dance and questioning their beauty.  Now maybe you did dance these slow dances, but I would say the majority of guys don't.  That leaves even more girls sitting alone and bummed out.  I'm not going to disappoint these women any more than I have to, and so I chose to not overcrowd the playlist with slow songs.

Pictured: How Mormon Women Spend Slow Dances
So in conclusion, shut up and appreciate the work I do to accommodate everyone and make sure everyone who is there to have a good time has one.  If your only goal at a dance is to poorly dance in a circle while stumbling through small talk YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.


Not so Sweet Meet

So the 380398230843208th annual Sweet Meet was this last Friday and once again the guys were in charge of making their desserts and there was a dance and blah blah blah blah blah. Alright I'm not going to go on and on about the activity because it was in general a fun time and most of you who are reading this were there or have been there so you get it and what it is essentially about.  Instead I am going to rant about Mormon culture in regards to dating in general.

We've all heard the complaints and grievances from both sides.  No one dates.  No one is asking me out.  No one wants to go out with me.  It's really tedious and annoying because in every instance people are saying things that they really have the power to solve but are either too cowardly or prideful to stop.  If you want to go on a date with someone then ask them out.  it doesn't have to be complicated or difficult.  If you are doing something and would like someone to have along, all you have to do is ASK SOMEONE.  You don't have to be thinking of marrying the person on this date, you just have to be open to getting to know them, and since you're the one deciding who you are doing this thing with if you don't want to get to know this person you were dumb to ask them in the first place.  It's about you and getting to know this other person is a perk not the point.  If you fall madly in love like in the movies, great.  If you don't, oh well you have a new friend and is that really so bad?

Now tradition dictates that the guy should be the one doing the asking out.  Screw that noise.  You women have cell phones just as much as us men do and you should be able to shoot someone a text or heaven forbid an actual call to ask them to do something.  Besides as so many women like to remind me men are stupid so if you really think being coy and vaguely flirty is going to actually capture the attention of the average male you are clearly not listening when you are complaining about us.  I'm not saying men shouldn't ask women out, I'm saying women should as well.  Everyone should be asking everyone out.

Which brings us back to the Sweet Meet.  In years previous the whole point of making a dessert was to have it won by one person and set up a very short impromptu meal and dessert date-like evening.  That's the appeal.  You meet someone new and share food, which last I checked was the point of dating.  However last year people complained that they were stuck with someone that they somehow couldn't even be brought about to talk about the weather with for 20 minutes while they ate.  As a result of the complaints they decided to make it into a group thing with three guys and three girls per table.  Now maybe I am alone in this but in group things I don't really get to know people much because I shell up around people I don't know and let other people dominate the conversation while I listen.    Yes I can survive in groups but one dominate personality and I get away with not having to do anything which while leads to a quasi successful activity it also doesn't let anyone really get to know anyone.  I sat at a table with 5 people ranging from complete strangers to casual friends and I honestly can't tell you one thing I learned about any of them.  Meanwhile last year I managed to get to know someone who is now one of my closest friends.  I wouldn't have gotten to know Cassie if the event wasn't one on one, and she certainly wouldn't have gotten to know me.

Yes dating can be awkward.  It can be tough.  It can be rough.  If it was easy, what would be the point?


Diet and exercise

I need to go on a diet and get exercise.  This isn't really anything new for anyone who has been friends with me at any point in my life, but it's something that I have decided to finally do something about.  I'm not thinking at all that I need to look like this:

No that would be absolutely unreasonable.  I don't need that.  I just need to look more like say this -

instead of, say, this -

not actually me I promise.

This will be my menu for awhile.  And this will be my exercise plan every other day (the stupid link wouldn't work but the gist of it was I would walk from my house to the Japanese Gardens which would be about a mile and about 30 minutes).  This will not be fun but it will be worth it.*

*If I stick it out.