Birthday Interviews: Sewage

Hello, and welcome back to the blog!

I didn’t post on Thursday because I have been suffering from a Random Spring Illness since about Tuesday. It began with a sore throat and headaches, which took backseats to an accumulation of phlegmatic material in my upper story; but at this point it’s mostly coughing and headaches. I have moved my posting schedule back a day, with an exception for the “regularly scheduled” pieces like the name thingy and the writing progress thingy.

Yes, I am very elaborate when I’m sick.

So, this interview is with my mom, and I will just be very honest with you: my mom is literally my favorite person on this entire planet. She is very, very very closely followed by the rest of my family, but my mom is my favorite person and probably my best friend. As you read through this article, you will see where I get a lot of my writing style. The way I write is similar to the way I talk; the only difference is that I don’t generally include conversational fillers unless I’m recording an exact conversation. I’ve included my mom’s conversational fillers because we have very similar speaking styles and by reading what she’s saying, you can sort of picture the way I speak. That is, when I bother speaking.

The title of this post comes from my mom’s habit of putting the suffix “-age” onto words it doesn’t belong to. Like you have cabbage and triage and pilgrimage, and other words of that sort that actually have that suffix; but my mom adds it to like, everything. Foodage. Sleepage. Drinkage. And my favorite is the article/adverb “so,” which she uses as a constant conversational filler; and then it becomes “so-age” which then becomes “sewage,” and not in the original meaning of that word. I like to helpfully remind her of the original meaning of the word by adding “raw sewage” whenever she says that. I’m such a charming, mature woman, I know.

Anyway, here is her birthday interview. Because she tends to be a bit more verbose than my brother, I have included less in the way of author’s notes. Please enjoy.
S: Are you here because you have willingly consented to this journalistic piece, or because you are being bribed?

T: I want to be here. (Author’s note: she actually did seem kind of excited to do this. I don’t know if it was because she likes helping me or because she actually likes the idea.)

S: What day is your birthday?

T: March 23rd.

S: How old are you turning?

T: Fifty-three. Prime number. Dad says this will be one of my best years. (Author’s note: my father is a mathematician and he likes prime numbers. )

S: What did you get/want for your birthday?

T: So, that’s really hard to say, because… I mean, I don’t really, you know, get things. But any time I want something, I can have it. Know what I mean? And I’m a spoiled rotten child, in that way. My husband gave me the sweet potato and flowers, and that was really nice. So I got three new audiobooks. I got the latest Sarah Eden book, which was interesting because it’s in continuation of a series that I’ve already started, so that’s cool. I also got another Melanie Dickerson book, and I’ve enjoyed all her books. They’re very much alike, but somehow I still like every single story that she writes, so. I also got some new shoes, because my exercise shoes— once they get worn, I just need good shoes for my wretched feet. So I got new exercise shoes, except I forgot to use them. And I got more stuff than that, but anyway. Those are some of the things I got. I had some fun, I shared treats with most of my piano students that day and that was kind of fun. I would have liked to have six pans of cinnamon rolls ready, but I… didn’t do that. But I had pies in the fridge and I thought you know what, I’ll get those out. It was fun. And my husband is a great gift every day of the year. (Author’s very fond note: Ewwwwwww.)


(Pictured above: the aforementioned sweet potato, a birthday gift from my father to my mother.)

S: What are your hobbies?

T: Define hobby.

S: I would say that a hobby is something you enjoy doing, whether or not you have time for it.

T: There’s a lot of answers to this question. I hope you don’t get to two thousand words in this thing and say “no more!” I like books. I like reading, and I like a lot of different kinds of reading. I do, um, do the escape reading, which is to think about something else. But I do enjoy my daily spiritual reading, which I do partly out of obligation and partly voluntary as well. I know it just helps me stay a lot healthier than I would otherwise, in every sense of the word “health.” Of course, the music is always something I’m going to do probably every day, whether I have time or not. Again, it’s scheduled into my day, because it’s work. Sometimes that’s all I get to do, but I still love it, every time I do it. It just so happens that I get to get paid for some of that, which is quite a bonus. It’s really fun. It’s one of the best things my mom ever did for me, is give me that. I like any sort of creative activity. That comes in several different ways. I like sewing, creating; I like certain other crafts, creating; I’ve done some composition and arrangement (music); even food I consider to be creative, cooking. I like doing those things. I need to focus on making my work in the kitchen one hundred percent healthy but still, there’s a lot of ways to use creativity and I like it, regardless of what form it’s in. I wouldn’t call church or family a hobby, but I’m grateful for all the time I can spend serving the Lord and being with family.

S: Would you say you’re more of a dreamer or a doer?

T: *laughs* Oh, man. That’s a really hard question, for me. I think it would be really interesting to know how other people might answer the question about me. I can work, really hard and diligently, another gift my parents gave me. Especially when I feel like I know what it is I either need or want to do. I can get a job done. Part of me is still what I was at about the age of six, which was this totally innocent, naive child who believes in everything that’s ideal. So I’ve had my heart broken over my life when things weren’t that way. Because I have this part of me that just likes to think that everything can be a certain way. It can be perfect. Not that I’ve ever achieved that, or anything close… but, you know, it’s what draws me to romance in stories. I like thinking about the concept of true love, and I like reading about it. Most books, of course, don’t get into true love. Which is what you see in your parents after fifty-plus years of marriage. So I think I’m almost equal parts, because I can work really hard, but I also, you know, my mind goes off on all these idealistic dreams.

S: What’s your favorite period of history?

T: Okay, well. I’m horrible at history, okay? Just saying. My knowledge of history is just pitiful. *laughs* I hope it will happen someday that I really get a family history bug, like Dad has. And my mother, of course, spent a major part of her life doing this. So that I have a drive to discover and help those people. Sometimes I think family history is the most interesting history there can be. I certainly like all the history I read about in the scriptures, because I think that’s very valuable and relevant to my life. So I like that, as far as history goes. Other aspects of history, like I said, my knowledge is just so abysmal that it’s not worth even thinking about. That’s my confession.

S: What’s your favorite place?

T: … Okay, so… I don’t think I can pinpoint one physical location that I can regard as my favorite place. I live in Pennsylvania. I love Pennsylvania. You know, I think it took me a lot of years to become accustomed to living in the East, but now I regard it as much my home as the West. And I love Utah, I grew up in Utah. I love the dryness of Utah and the humidity of PA. I love the desert of Utah and the deciduous forest of PA. They’re both really amazing, great places and I love them both. I spent some time in Europe, in Austria, as a missionary, and I love it there too. It’s been a long time, thirty years since I’ve been in Austria, but I love that place. I think if I had to identify a place I love most, it wouldn’t be physical, it would be… it would be a mental, emotional place. Where I’m at peace with myself. When I feel like I’m doing well spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, that’s where I want to be, regardless of physical location. A lot of times I am falling far short of that place. And I don’t like that, when I’m falling short. I don’t like when I’m stressed out because I know I’m not taking care of myself physically or emotionally. Or I’m spending too much time on one thing and neglecting another. So, that is the place I like the most, when I’m at peace with what I am currently doing in terms of taking care of myself.

S: What’s your favorite season?

T: I think I’ve got to go with winter. I like winter because— well, I don’t mind all the snow. I like shoveling, I even like the exercise of it. In the last couple of years I’ve done enough exercise that it didn’t feel hard for me, that it didn’t hurt my back. I didn’t suffer side effects. I think I could handle a lot more snowfall than, for instance, we got this last winter. Spring stresses me because I feel like it’s just going to be this influx of insects in my life. If they respect the boundaries of my life, I have no problem with them. But if I have ants in my house, I am annoyed, continually. Summer is just hot. Like I said, I love PA and I love Utah; but I am less likely to be happy anywhere in the heat of summer. Though I love that time of year, because my kids are out of school and I like being with them and helping them do things. My kids are probably groaning, “Oh, the Daily Summer Schedule.” I LIKE that. I like doing that. Fall would probably take a close second to winter, because my eyes are just in a feast. Especially in Pennsylvania. There’s nothing greater than this area than when you have all of these amazing colors. I’m not a visual person, particularly; I don’t have that gift. But the Lord sure has this down, so I really appreciate it.

S: What’s your favorite smell?

T: Good night. Probably something that’s forbidden to me now, like pumpkin bread, because I can’t have it anymore. *laughs* That’s really hard to say. I like a lot of the spices that I associate with pumpkin— cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, that kind of thing. I love all those smells. Cinnamon is definitely a favorite. I like chocolate, I like that smell. I like the smell of almost anything that’s being baked. Fresh bread, how can you beat that? Cinnamon rolls, good night. How can you beat that? I love that cinnamon roll recipe that came with the bread mixer. But it’s like the most direct invitation to diabetes that I have, probably, but I love that smell. You become a mother and you become so much more sensitive to smell than before. Too much of something I don’t like. A little garlic, a little onion, is okay— but enough is enough. I don’t like super, super spicy kinds of things. I guess I don’t really think about smells from day to day. (Author’s note: In an unfortunate incident the Thanksgiving season before last, my mother became allergic to pumpkin at the age of fifty-one. RIP all of the recipes she had that involved pumpkin-flavored anything, because she always bought the pumpkins and did the smushy-boily-freezy thing instead of buying canned pumpkin.)

S: What’s your favorite memory?

T: Boy, so many. It’s hard to choose just one. I’ll have to tell you some… Well, meeting Dad. Meeting Mike, and getting to know him… and knowing that he can love me, which is something I wasn’t sure would ever happen. So I love that memory. The whole courtship and really, not just courtship, but the last twenty-six years have been really good, and I have so much to be thankful for. And we’ve both changed a lot, but we sort of change together, too. And I feel like we’re both learning still, and we’re not going to give up on each other. So that’s always pleasant… There’s nothing like your own babies. So I know that my babies are really precious memories. They’re a gift from God, the sweetest things possible. And your baby grows into a person who’s sitting over here interviewing me. And you don’t think of that when you’re holding that innocent and pure creature in your hands; but there’s just a lot of joy between birth and, you know, the accomplished, amazing, profound girl sitting here next to me. It’s kind of an overwhelming thing to think about. And I can say the same about all of my kids, in different ways. So my babies are just— there’s difficult memories associated with them, too; but it’s really touching to think about… And then I would just have to say, my parents. My dad because he’s gone, I think about all the times I spent sitting in his office, just having normal girl problems. Teenage girl depression, feeling horrible about yourself, your body, your nonexistent social life, whether you can accomplish anything, be anything, do anything with your life— and how patient, kind, and constantly supporting my dad was. Is. He would sit there and tell me I was beautiful, and I thought he was lying through his teeth, but there was such a look of sincerity in his eyes that you could tell he believed what he was saying. So just thinking about my dad… that’s a really good memory. And my mom, too, is just a constant. She’s still here, but I think of such an inspiring example of hard work and faith and determination. And courage. She’s such a strong woman. I’ve never seen my mom be weak in any way. She’s especially not one to sit and talk about stuff. So much of my mother is what she does. She’s the ultimate “doer.” She definitely doesn’t spout anything that she doesn’t do. The furthest thing from a hypocrite that’s possible. And then there’s just, my own siblings. I can think of good times with each of them. I can think of bad times with each of them too. *laughs* But your siblings are your best friends, growing up; I’ve had a lot of best friends in my life. I’m really grateful.

S: Who is your best friend or friends?

T: My siblings. Well, first there’s Dad. First there’s Mike, he’ll always be my best friend. But then there’s my siblings. Enough said. And you would think that I would stay in touch with them better. I’m not as communicative, I don’t talk with them as much as I should; but when I’m around them even for a few minutes, the bond is there. It’s always going to stay. It’s going to be there.

S: Who is the funniest person you know?

T: I think there’s a five-way tie. Because my kids are hilarious. Literally. They all, I mean, you’re all so different from each other, but you’re all so funny. Yeah. Definitely a five-way tie on that. (Author’s note: Despite the fact that this is an opinion question, I would argue that it is objectively true. I am obviously hilarious and my siblings are also some of the funniest people I know.)

S: Who is the kindest person you know?

T: Ooh, that’s tricky… Well, I’ll answer this locally, because from the past, I could probably give you a lot of people. But I’ve had a really good friend for a few years. She’s so kind, so thoughtful. Yoon-Joung Hill. She’s just kind, she’s amazing, she’s thoughtful. A truly kind, right to the bottom of her heart kind of person. It’s amazing to get to meet and know somebody like that. I mean, there are other people I think of. Quite a few years back, there was Aimee Allen, she was such a celestial person. I’ll never forget her. But I was always drawn to her. There are a lot of women around here I admire, too. I wouldn’t say kind is the first description I have for a lot of them. They are my mentors, in many ways. Because this has been my home for a long time. Billie Rae Morgenegg— she’s kind, but she’s more like a mentor. She teaches me, when she talks to me. I love that about her. Tina Wagner is always— she’s a mentor too, because she’s so helpful and knowledgeable about everything, and she will support you in the best way she can— which is sometimes to correct you. I’m okay with that sort of corrective type thing, because she’s helped me grow. So I regard her as a good friend, because she helps me, and is not afraid to say what needs to be said, and that’s a true friend. There’s others. Carmen Estes is certainly somebody that comes to mind, because she is so supportive and helpful, and willing to help you. She’ll drop what she’s doing and she’ll come to your aid. And I have a lot, I mean, there’s so many good women around here. I hate to even mention names, because you almost feel like you can’t stop. There are so many good women in my life. They’re my examples, they’re mentors, they’re friends, they’re supportive, they’re helpful. It’s something really amazing about the Church. I don’t quite put them in the same category as my siblings, but they’re still my sisters. We’re really blessed to have that kind of association with people.

S: Do you believe in magic, or do you believe in miracles?

T: Miracles. (Author’s note: There was no elaboration required. Miracles are a given in this household.)

S: If you had the opportunity to write books about the most important people in your life, what would they be called?

T: With Dad, I would probably say The Greatest Miracle of All Time. It should be Christ, but Dad comes right after that. Joe, what came to mind was— and I’ve said this repeatedly— Nothing Should Ever Surprise Me Again. That’s what I would call a book, if I were thinking of just Joe. That has a positive side, and it has, mmm, another side. But both sides. He’s kind of an enigma, but he can do anything he wants to do. Let’s see, Sarah… ugh. I’ve been thinking of how to title it. I know the crux of it, but you might have to help me with the words. That part of you that’s so sneaky, Getting Away With Murder Quietly. That kind of says a lot. And it’s not just murder; but when you were younger, it seemed like there was a lot of murder there. But nowadays, it’s more that what you see, with you, isn’t always what you get. Judy, I’ll just say in a nutshell: Take Everything You Thought You Knew and Throw It Out the Window. And you should laugh, while you say that title. Because that’s what it is these days. Everything I say is somehow hilarious; I don’t know why. Now I’m rethinking the title for Dad, because I came to Paul… so I’ll say it this way: The Sweetest, Greatest, Most Miraculous Gift God Ever Gave to Dad and Me. That would be Paul. And it’s like “The Greatest Miracle” which is Christ, because Christ came to save us and I think God sent Paul to save us, too. He’s got his work cut out for him. James… *laughs* Oh, that’s a tough one, too. It’s almost like, you can’t name this book because The Minute You Think You’ve Got It… It’s like Judy and Joe. And you! You can’t quite put your finger on it. It’s always changing, it’s always different, always something new. And always very funny, too. *laughs*

S: What was your favorite part of this last year of your life?

T: Oh, that’s easy. Because I had the most amazing opportunities given to me in association with the dedication of the Philadelphia Temple. So many blessings. I’m completely overwhelmed by the blessings and the gratitude that I feel. I was given a job that was way too difficult for me to do, which was of course to conduct the Cornerstone Choir for the dedication of the Philadelphia Temple. It was certainly beyond my ability, but it was like 1 Nephi 3:7— he gives you a job, and he provides a way for you to do it. He gave me people to help. I would say every single person in that choir, and the pianists, and my contacts with the committee— everybody went the extra mile just to help, to be supportive, and help me learn and teach me. So I feel like, with everybody’s help, we got the job done. I certainly couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help. It was amazing. The day of, I felt the presence of the Lord right there. I haven’t talked about it much, because it was a sacred memory and I don’t want to talk about it lightly; but it was an amazing day and I’ll never forget it.

S: What are you looking forward to in this next year?

T: *laughs* Well, I hope to improve myself. A lot. That’s something I’m always hoping that I can do, that I can improve. I’m looking forward to spending time with my mom, with her 90th birthday this year. Our family’s been talking about some things we can do for her birthday, but I just look forward to more time I get to spend with her before she goes. And not just being with her, but being with all of my kids, Joe too. So just having my family all together, but also all of my other family. Seeing my family as much as possible. I mean, all my nieces and nephews are grown up and I don’t know them anymore, they have families and kids, but I want to know them. It’s always great to spend time with family. I’m curious to see what this year’s going to bring, actually. I feel like change is coming. I have no idea what, but it just feels like there’s going to be changes. I don’t know what they are, but I hope I can get ready for them.

Author’s note: Me too, Mom. Me, too.

If you’re looking forward to seeing this blog in the future, consider following. If you want to see Occasional Pictures of My Face and Food I Have Made, you can follow me on Instagram at hypotheticalelephants. If you want to see me being a Whiny, Immature Human, you can follow me on Twitter at sadINFJwriter.



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