12/19/07

Last Night in Chile (Pardon the intrusion)

My last night in Chile,
I walked up the hill.
Five buses passed me with the lights off
—out of service—
crammed with people standing in the center.
That happened last night too.
So I walked up the hill.
Yellow streetlights bathed the sidewalk,
the shrubs,
the houses.
I was practicing my rrr’s.
Chorrrrrrrillana.
Rrrrrueda.
Malorrrrrri.
I felt the humidity of sweat in my armpits
and under my backpack.
So I sat down on the bald spot on the hill,
and waited.
A dog in the distance was throwing a fit,
like a two-year old,
the same bark over and over,
twenty times.
Another replied with four or five.
Then the first did fifteen more,
this time in pairs—
makes you want to club him one.
Then it got quiet.
The sound of the cars faded away
like the foam on the ocean.
The dogs were silent.
I heard glass clinking in a kitchen
somewhere down below.
The yellow lights brightened the rim of the sky.
But the light faded as my eyes climbed upward.
The darkness took over,
and I could almost hear the stars.
I continued walking when the sweat had turned to coldness.


--Trav

12/18/07

I have to tell you guys, I'm a happy person. I'm sittin' the living room with my family. Most of us are watching the Biggest Loser finale (embarrassing but true), crammed in an area not meant for 9 adults and a baby. My oldest brother is playing with his six-month old daughter (Sydney, my niece), Mom is writing Christmas cards, the Christmas tree is beautiful. Merry Christmas everyone, I miss you all, I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday.

Chan

12/14/07

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight

I'm sure you are all relieved to have a semester over. Congratulations to all. I hope those of you who are graduating will keep blogging. I like hearing from you and will miss you if you don't. Good luck everyone and have a wonderful break.
Merry Christmas and I hope to hear from you all soon
Julie

12/10/07

Christmas Party

Chandler,
They gave me a beautiful wooden box, which would have been enough because I collect boxes, but it was also filled with letters. It's the coolest of presents. Someone had printed off Christmas carols, and the singing turned the house into soft cream. In spite of minor catastrophes (sure to happen without Julie and Shalese here to keep me on task--as in I forgot to buy the ham, then made another four trips back to Brolims for silverware, a gift bag for Andrea and butter, and in the last trip, I lost in a game of wits with a disabled person and bought another Christmas tree to bring home for everyone to decorate, so I'd have something to fit in the gigantic tree stand he wanted me to buy; don't ask. Oh so long a story), the night will go down as one good memory. I wish you had been here also. You would have liked this party. I'll post pictures later. I woke up to lots of snow falling on the river, and the eagle flew into a fallen tree outside my window. Don't they hibernate or something?

12/5/07

Night musings

Anona, a "kid" is a small goat. You are going to have a baby.

Chan, Chan, the bearded man, What Anona meant to say--if she weren't swimming in hormones and nausea--is thank you for the congratulations and good wishes. (I'm always having to take care of this little girl lately, that is whenever she's not taking care of me. I bought her and Emily Martin a soft blanket and pillows, so they could get some rest during their shifts. Ha. They don't even have time to get a drink of water. We've been so swamped.)

Sara, who was the serial killer on your staircase tonight when I dropped you off? Scary.

nswer to Chan's question. I don't think a good writer embellishes as much as gathers strings of experience and detail and pieces them together--sometimes in a non-sequential way. However, the real trick is training yourself to see what's in front of you (I know I sound like a broken record about this, and I will continue to sound like it) because, really, the Lord has already embellished the world enough for us. How can we improve on what He's already done? We just have to open up and SEE it. When we don't do this, when we want short cuts, when we don't want to expend the energy or time to develop a "writer's eyes and ears," we add fluffy bits of sentimentality that clutter up real truth and reality. They feel like guk. They sound like hicky-gicky-guk, because they're coming from a very small, tightened down world locked up in our ego, where there's no breeze or birds singing. And writing like that can turn us against real writing forever. Good writing takes commitment, courage, time, and practise, and a lot of it is not done at the computer keys. To be able to "see" crosses into spiritual realms. Again, it's a daily, constant training. Ask Leanna about this. I think she just had a great insight into "seeing" that won't leave her quickly. But, don't embellish. The Lord already did a great job of that on His own.

Also, ask Leanna about the cat. She's our resident cat expert, but I'd say that was ONE scary dream. What's scaring your inside blood?

Hey, Chandler, also, I just had a long talk with your AZ brother. He's looking forward to coming home--has some interesting insights about it even. Keep in touch.
You should stay with our company rather than posing for pictures as the next bearded GAP ad. Stay with us, Brother; stay with us. Hey, instead of writing about an early experience (Dan stole your assignment anyway), describe for us a cloud--or snow.

12/3/07

Heartfelt congratulations, Anona, I'm excited for you. Does this change grad school plans at all? Is it sexist to ask that?

Sister Morgan, I haven't forgot my writing assignment. It will come sometime. I thought of saying "by Christmas," or something like that, but that would probably be a lie. I have a bad habit of promising to do things or be places by times that are much too wishful, and I'm trying to break it. So I'll finish my assignment sometime.

I had a dream last night that I caught a teeny, tiny, orange feral cat that went crazy clawing and scratching every time I touched it. Tell me what that means and you can have a peppermint from the basket by the front desk.

I really have nothing to write, hence the bit about the dream. Here's a question I've had as I've been reading Travels with Charley by Steinbeck and writing a little. To write compelling or entertaining personal narrative, do I have to embellish? Embellish doesn't really get at it. When I write about my own experience, it often feels like it becomes more that it originally was, the joys more buoyant, the disappointments sharper. Does anyone else feel like that when they write?

Quick update: I've done odd jobs the past couple of weeks and will work construction for the next couple weeks. I bought the fountain pen I mentioned a couple posts ago and love it to the moon and back, as my niece would say. Turns out my car doesn't need new spark plugs, but needed several other more expensive things, which I have replaced myself, thankyouverymuch. Good luck on finals, drive safe going home, etc, etc.

Chan

P.S. - I'm the one on the far right.

11/30/07

Turkey Gizzards, flies, & Spiders


Nice writing, Julie. Always a pleasure to read.
As one of the flies who dropped back into bed again today (Geez, Anona, that's a horrid metaphor for us--and so is the headless chicken, followed by the gross image of a guy wiping his nose. Excuse her "gentle optimism," Julie. She's so proudly pregnant, she doesn't realize she's pale and walking around with half her mind gone), I want to go on record as saying Sara is completely dead wrong about cooking dressing inside the turkey. Plus calling other sick people "babies" just because we'd rather not come in contact with bloody turkey gizzards and livers throughout all eternity shows her total lack of compassion and understanding of the human condition. (Sara's turned into this fun person to tease, Julie). At least Sara can get out of bed and get dressed. Whine. Whine. By the way, Sara, that post was good writing. Strong voice, so much better than the "sitting by the guy on couch" essay that I can't believe it's the same writer. I'm looking forward to your next essays.
And, Julie, I'm trying so hard to feel sad about the mess the Ed department made out Em Po's and Bryndie's academic life. And, I honestly do feel terrible for Bryndie. She really got a raw deal; it's going to be tough to get around, and I don't understand it.
However, this means we get to keep Emily for another two months, so secretly, just between you and me, I'm guiltily happy about her trouble. (Notice how Em's writing is so true to her own voice. I'd love to see her write an essay.) I just wish we could keep the rest who are leaving. . . .

Excuse me. There is a spider crawling on my couch . . . hmmmm. Couldn't find anything to kill it with except my cat's tail (who is sitting on my chest unconcerned that I can't identify this particular spider). So I smashed it (the spider--not the cat). But, since it's still wiggling, I flipped it with my finger, and now it's stuck on my painting of Indian ponies. . . . Guess what? After lying on this couch for almost a full week of nausea, and other unmentionables (I called in. Dan answered the phone. I said, "Hmmm. . . . Can I talk to a girl?" He was highly offended, but, believe me I spared him details), plus the endless weakness that makes me sweat from just looking in my closet for clothes to wear, the idea of working in my stuffy office is sounding like a vacation in the Caribbean.
Also, I owe Kaitlin a public apology for making fun of her four line poetry. It was a cynical slam against her lack of writing for the Center, though she did send me an e-mail joke, which I didn't get because she put the punch line half a mile down the letter; however, it did relate to my insomnia. Where does she get this stuff? Do you get this? What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
And, so, Julie, you truly thought you'd be a "lone writer"? Chan, It'll be at least a foursome.

The Lone Blogger


Since everyone is probably stressed to the max because of finals, I realize that no one will be posting until after Christmas. As such, I decided that I will be the lone poster of the blog.

Sis. Morgan, thanks for the tips on cooking the turkey. Thankfully, I didn't have to do that this year, but I thought I was going to have to. I was talking to my mom and she was explaining how to cook it and when she got to the part about the gross stuff I had to say, "Wait, wait. I have to stick my hand where to get what out of the turkey????" But I guess there's always next year.

Thanksgiving was quiet. We went over to a neighboring couple's house and had dinner. We brought pies and salads and other traditionals, attempting to make our neighbor's house fit the mold of both my family and David's family Thanksgiving.

Now it is only 16 days until we get to come home for a few weeks. 16 days. I try and remember what it felt like to first come here. When I first arrived in Hershey. It was so foreign. Now it feels like I have two different lives. One out here and one out there, and neither of them are the same or have any connection to the other.

A couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law came to visit us. (He had a business trip in New Jersey). We met him at a restaurant that was rated with 5 stars online. When we arrived and took a look at the teetering sign that said, "Louis'" and the black streaked walls, we concluded that you can't trust internet ratings. We went in the two room building and there was my brother-in-law sitting in a dark corner with a newspaper in front of him. It seemed like some surreal dream; one where you are living your life currently and you encounter someone that you haven't seen since elementary school. And at that moment you have to stop and check yourself. Which life are you living? Are you back to the one before or the one now? And shouldn't they all be the same life? Only they feel like they aren't.

I stared at my brother in-law for a good 15 minutes until I concluded for sure that, yes, he was not a dream or figment. I had to watch him eat his chicken alfredo and slurp up a noodle from his fork. I had to speak with him about his Greek and Arabic studies. I had to observe him take off his glasses and clean the smudges on his shirt before I actually believed it was him. It really was someone from a life, not from a dream. And he wasn't just from a life, he was from my life. And then I remembered, I have not always been out here and lived this way. I had another life-- a different life. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. But how to make the two connect? How to reconcile who I was and who I am with where I was and where I am--I'm not entirely sure.

I have, quite literally, been counting down the days until we go home for Christmas. A paper chain made of construction paper hangs on the door of our bedroom marking each day that passes until Christmas break. When it was first created, it was a circular chain; now it is straight. There are not enough links to make the ends meet. But now that my chain is smaller and the days are colder, I'm not sure what to do. And I feel I need to make my chain a circle again, but I'm not sure I am big enough to make the ends come together for another beginning.

11/20/07

Hey, Jewels Julie

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? You cooking? The first time I cooked a turkey by myself, I had to call my mother and ask if they were really serious about sticking my hand in "there" and cleaning, wiping with salt, then filling it with dressing. I was already a good cook, thought I knew everything, but Mom always cooked the turkey. I can not, nor will I ever cook my dressing in a turkey. Since then, I have many memories--good and bad--until I realized I can make them good no matter what. For instance, once I forgot to buy the turkey, so we had pizza in the middle of creamy potatoes, cranberrie sauce, etc. Once I decided on ham out of rebellion but had a zillion kids running around and forgot to take off the outer covering. (Oooo, my sister's won't let me forget that one.) Once, my first Thanksgiving with Jim, I came running down stairs (my mother's rule was turkey in oven no later than 6 AM, which by the way is not true, but she was coming to dinner, ), and Jim had already washed, salted, and STUFFED the turkey. I was aghast, walked around in confused circles, then grabbed the keys for my office, where I sat still and quiet for an hour, trying to find my misplaced identity--oh yeah oh yeah, I remember who I am, I'm fine, didn't disappear, no problem, before I drove home to dress kids and cook yams and potatoes. How many Thanksgivings have I been through? Only 60? It seems like many many more. The basic problem for me is I don't like to cook in chaos. I especially hated cooking at 5:00 everyday when everyone's hungry, ornery, and complaining. My family got used to me cooking in the middle of the night--big bowls of home-made Chile, lasagna, manicotti--then we'd eat that all week. I like quiet when I cook 'cause it should be an art form, and I want to be completely present and in the moment without worrying about who just spilled grape juice on the carpet, who swallowed pits from the olives, who's yelling from behind the locked bathroom door (I almost left him in there until company came, and why not? What could he do besides take another bath, which never hurt anyone). OK, so if you're cooking, I have to warn you about this gross sack of gross stuff in this gross place in the turkey. Some people think it'll flavor the gravy? Naw. Not worth it. Then check the stupid neck, because there's another sack of stuff in there also wrapped in paper that you don't want cooking in salt. Salted paper isn't really on a thanksgiving menu. Good luck. Keep up a running chatter. I'll be home reading books, except it's my turn to cook--actually there's no one else now. Maybe take David to a fancy restaurant. Or don't forget candles. We miss you. EmPo will answer soon. She and Bryndie just went through major trial with graduation, as in not.

11/19/07

Talking Cat

She's complaining to Leanna about Lance's dirty looks.


Poor Anona. I can't think of anything worse than being away from your own warm bed when you're throwing up. We'll cook you soup when you get back. Hang in there.

Leanna, I found your cat on You-Tube. You should keep better track of her. She's really wandering around. See pictures.

11/14/07

Oh where oh where oh where is Emily?

Emily Poteet. Where are you? Why don't you ever post? Come and say hi and tell me how your life is.

11/13/07

Introductions


Julie, meet Andrea. Andrea meet Julie. Andrea meet Chandler. Chandler meet Andrea. Ok, never mind. I can't find a pic of Chandler. Daaaaan, where are those conference pictures? You know? The ones where you dressed up in a hippie head band and Chan won the prize? Post, please, for those who don't know Chan.

Hey Anona

Hey Anona, how did you like doing copy staff for the Scroll?

Paper Thin


Today I am making a paper Turkey. A large one with no feathers. The point being that I don't want to study the GRE, I don't want to think about my impoverished school anymore, and my home has no Thanksgiving decorations. So, I am making a turkey. "No feathers," you say, "why?" That's the fun part. We make the feathers and write what we are thankful for on them and then you put it on the turkey. Slowly, the turkey fills up into a conglomeration of the most unnatural looking feathers you've ever seen in your life.

My roommates and I have done this for the last three years. Now I'm doing it here. It brings back really odd memories. Things like an FHE brother writing that he was thankful for "The perfect outfit" and David writing that he was thankful for "His girl." My roommate, who is married and is having a baby, writing "being single." The list of random thankfulnesses go on ranging from W.B. Yeats, to camping, to snow, to the cha-cha, to a toothbrush.

It makes me miss that time for just a slice of a second as thin as the paper that the feathers are made on. Because if I think too hard, it brings back other memories that I am thankful I am no longer in. But for that slice, I reminisce. And it is good. Happy Thanksgiving.
Julie

11/12/07

Presentation of Chagall Flowers

These flowers are not as beautiful as the ones Emily Martin makes, but since they're from Chagall's collection, (whom I've always loved because he's just off center enough to continually surprise me), I want to present them to the Scribbler Editors--who have kept us from humiliation and ruin by cleaning up our bad writing before it hits a professor's desk--in particular EmPo, Leanna Banana, Baby Face Anona, and may their job forever rest in peace. Also, to all those who stayed many evenings to help them, to Meghan and Rhett for the work on new template ( though don't get too comfortable with it; it's still evolving.) also to Sarah for Friday morning help, to . . . well, actually I guess they go to everyone--to those who took over nine sessions in a row of almost straight Econ papers, to those who have stayed cheerful and continually step up for sessions. Notice I have not posted an employee of the month? I've never had a time before now when I had so many assistants who go above and beyond their stewardship to help the Center that I literally could not choose one or even two.

But one complaint from you that these are poor substitutes for Viking candy bars, and I'll take them back immediately. Besides who ever heard of students who would trade Chagall's flowers for a candy bar.

11/11/07

A day of firsts

I have a five-page essay on the history of an ingredient due soon for my baking class, so as I am doing research on the history of chocolate, I think to myself, "Hmmm, what's new on the writing center blog? I wonder if a day will come when I will ever actually post something." Well, today is the day! This truly is a day of firsts -my first ever entry on a blog, my first report on chocolate, and well, that's about it. I know this isn't much, but maybe it will become an icebreaker that leads to more posts in the future. This is only a small glimpse into why my writing process is often a very slow one. -Andrea

11/9/07

I'm taking a Shakespeare class from a fella named Brugger, Eng 314 from Scott Samuelson, and Eng 326 (editing) from a Vaun L. Waddell. Does anyone know anything about these teachers/classes?

Chan

11/3/07

Reply

I figured I'd answer Sis. Morgan's quips and questions in my own post. Is that allowed? Can I reply in anything other than a "reply"?

Tanner's phone# is (208) 351-9241, and his e-mail is etwarnick@gmail.com. That's for you to get ahold of him, Sis. Morgan, but if any gals are headed toward Mesa, he's single and handsome and writes catchy-if-sometimes-sappy love songs on his guitar (but usually only after you break up). And I don't know where Princess Melissa is, but Tanner is done pining, he's even dating. Distance and a final spat of two-timing did it, I think.

Anona, good luck on the GRE. I'm sure you'll do well. By-the-way, what are you going to grad school for?

I will be getting a job, I become listless when I don't have one. I've never worked retail, I might try that, or there's a moving company I could work for, or maybe another lousy factory job, or maybe something genuinely good will pop up. Who knows, who cares, I slept in 'til eleven today and loved it.

To celebrate both keeping my job for two months as well as quitting, I'm buying myself a nice fountain pen. Or new spark-plugs, I haven't quite decided which. Okay, fine, I'm getting the pen, but the spark-plugs were a serious consideration, and they make me sound manly and competent by indicating that I know my way around cars, which is a lie.

Chan

11/2/07

GRE DAY! IT'S HERE.


Sooo, guess who's taking the GRE tomorrow (Sat). Yep. Baby face A. I'm very proud of her, though because of my sleep deprived state, I spaced that I was supposed to help her study today. In fact (plug your ears, Julie), it's Friday night 10:24, and I'm still working on Scribblers. There's-got-to-be-a-better-way.
Let's all say many prayers for Anona tomorrow. It's what we would want done for us. She'll do great, but everyone can use all the help they can get. And who better to ask than her Father of all Fathers, since He's also King of the universe. Good luck, Girl. We'll be right there with you.
Speaking of tests, Chan. Your one brother? You know, the weird one who plays a guitar and has a neurosis as bad as mine about returning phone calls? rang me sometime in the middle of the night to give me an update. Uhhhhhh, yeah, sure. No update, except he got good scores on the LSAT, which he was very happy about and wanted to know if I'd write him a recommendation. I'd love to say YES, but he left no phone number, no e-mail, and didn't say when he'd call back. What a ditz. Also, I wish he'd call Rhett, who really is so happily married he makes everyone throw up, but who is stressing mightily about the LSAT, to give him some encouragement.
Chriiiiiiisss Mooooower and AAAAAfton, where are you? Geez, don't you hate fair-weather friends who just drop in once in a while and then leave for long months? When I sent Chris rights to the site on his gmail, I thought for sure we were in for some great posts. But, what do I know?

Speaking of ditzes (joke), what are you doing, Chan? Don't sit around. Really. This one thing I know: Work of any kind (except for maybe the mud-sucking job you had) is a great blessing. Get a job at Burger King or something. And I'm happy for you that you turned Black--great honor. I'm being serious. Are your sisters and brother still here in Rexburg? and dare I ask? What ever happened to Princess Melissa? (Do I sound cynical? I don't mean to. I'm not cynical. I'm overwhelmed. Ha. This morning I was eating Cheerios, Breakfast of Champions?--wow, what false advertising that is--and I fell dead asleep--woke up to find the cat eating the rest of the milk. Good thing church is only a day away.) GO GET 'UM, ANONA!

10/31/07

When in America...

I just got a mass group of trick-or-treaters! Luckily I bought candy today just in case (well, I'll admit it, I bought it to eat all by myself) but it seems risky to go trick-or-treating in newly married student apartments. You could end up with Ramen or pickles or whatever they have on hand.

When my grandparents lived in Provo, they rented out their basement to a couple of men from India. The day after Halloween the men were talking to my grandparents about what a great holiday it was, what fun traditions they had in America, etc. "People kept ringing our doorbell and giving us candy!" Turns out they thought the kids were offering them the candy in their pillowcases instead of asking for more, so the Indians would take a few pieces and wait for the next group to show up.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a little sample from each kid's bag instead of giving them my luscious Reeses.

10/30/07

Call for Friends

Hey, has anyone heard anything about this new movie, "Across the Universe"? Does anyone want to go see it with me? (Maybe after finals-ha)

North South East West- Ogdenis the very best

I just copied this from the e-mail that I sent my family. I am not 100% sure I can be on here, but I figure I'll keep posting here until somebody tells me I can't. I think the funniest thing about Utah is that people tell you directions by the mountains. Example: Go east, towards the mountains. Um, do they not realize that there are mountains facing 3 of the 4 cardinal directions? It makes me laugh. I am in Danny Leavitt's neck of the woods. Sweet. We are teaching this fellow, James Koenig, that reminds me of SIster Morgan/seminar. He is great. Oh, I'll paste my letter starting now:

[My district sang to my Mom for her birthday yesterday, I forgot to send her a card. Oops] We had interviews with our Zone leaders last week. SIster Bedwell adn I are the only sisters in our zone, and we can't play any contact sport (apparently vollyball falls under the category of 'contact sport' and other sports of the like) with the elders because we might touch each other or something scandalous like that. Elder McClure, one of our ZL's, asked us (B and me) if there were any sports that we wanted to play as a district. After a nanosecond I chirped up, "I think water polo would be a really good P-Day activity." HA he was very confused until he realized I was trying to be funny. Maybe next time I should use my joke-voice. I wrote a list of everything that I wanted to say, but I forgot it. I got a coat from the DI for $15. It's a cranberry and cream herringbone mock-peacoat; it only has 2 buttons, so that is why I decided it's a mock-peacoat.. And it's ankle-length. So it should keep me warmish. We were at dinner the other night at the Golding's house, and he is a chiropractor or something like that, and he said that he could get rid of my egg allergies. It sounded really hokey to me; he said they test to make sure you are allergic to the whatever it is; and then they massage your back and then do this probe thign and then you ahve to hold a vial of eggs or something for 20 minutes and tehn you can't touch anytyhing related to eggs or poultry for 24 hours and then you are cured! I don't see how it could possibly work, but maybe it's because I don't have enough faith. Who knows. We shall see. We have mission conference this weekend; President HOlland is coming. YAYAYAYAYA! I am super excited. I think that will pep us up a bit. Sister Bedwell's mentality is that the members need to help us out more, and she focuses on how we can get members involved; my mentality is that the members are being lame/lazy and aren't doing anytyhing, so we need to get up and get moving. And so I make sure that we are up and moving. I am trying not to be to bossy about it. When I plugged in the treadmill yesterday morning I think I short-circuted the downstairs becasue half of the plugs don't work. Oops. We are teaching McKenzie right now; she has 2 kids and she smokes. She realizes that she needs to quit smoking, but she doesn't want to. I can't remember if I told you about this already; if I did, too bad, you have to hear about it again. It's really frustrating because she wants to progress, but that dumb smoking thing is keeping her back. HELLOOOOO can't she see that eternal salvation has a no-smoking sign on the door? I need to quit being so negative. Luckily for her, though, she has the Atonement to help her. Penny, an 11-year-old girl we are teaching, had a baptismal interview yesterday. SHe came out of the room, and said really quitely, "I'm not ready to be baptized." I was thinking, "WHAT? Are you serious? I know that you've felt the spirit and that we've taught you everything that you need to know, crap I am a horrible missionary, etc." and then her mom, who was sitting next to me, starts saying, "Aw, quit teasing us, you stinker" or something like that, and I am thinking "Kathy, this is not a time to be joking around- WAIT. Penny and Elder FUnaki are pulling the wool over our eyes. CURSES! I fell for it. I found a potato on the side of the road yesterday. I took a picture of it. If this computer wasn't as old as the dinosaurs I would be able to load it up for you, but you can probably use your imagination and conjure (is that spelled right? I can't tell) up a mental image of some sort. SIster Bedwell and I were looking for service the other day, so we grabbed some rakes and went around to the houses on our street and when someone opened the door we asked if we could rake their leaves. Some people told us no, I can't imagine why they would do that. IF someone knocked on my door asking to do chores I woudl have them work all day. ANyway, we ended up raking the leaves for an elderly, wheel-chair bound gentleman. Tender mercy: last night our dinner appointment did not make eggs for dinner like she planned, she instead made Venezuelan food. With no eggs. Oh my, it was amazing. Tonight we are going on splits and we 4 people to teach; 2 of them are recent converts, 1 is an investigator, adn 1 is less-active. Cool. I am not good at teaching at ALL; I never remember what I had prepared to teach, people are dropping their baptismal dates like moths to a flame, and we haven't found any new people to teach. OH well, I have quite a while to become a better teacher. and to become more patient. Last week sometime, we helped the Prices (a devout Lutheran couple we are teaching) with their laundry. We sorted socks for 45 minutes- that's how backed up on laundry they were. It took at least 3 houses in their neighborhood, each doing laundry for a couple of hours straight, to make an impact in their laundry pile. SHeesh. WEll, I think I've rambled on enough. We are working hard teaching and trying to find mroe people to teach. Oh, we spoke about the Restoration at one of the Elder's baptisms last week, and tehy got another investigator from our presentation. Yay for them. The end.

It was lovely reading up on all of your lives, I made a mental note on all of your blogs. Too bad nobody can see them, though...

Kirsten

P.S. Here is my e-mail address: kirstenforsberg@myldsmail.net
P.P.S. Have a splendid day.

10/26/07

Halloween Smalloween--Guky Smuky

Halloween scares the crap out of me. Even more, people who get off on Halloween scare me out of my head. I don't understand them. I hate Halloween. I mean it's not like we're celebrating love or hearts or Christmas trees and lights; we're centering in on ghosts, Satan, blood (have you seen some of the masks they sell to kids?), guts, & goblins, PLUS candy. (I'm like Chris--I buy the candy on sale weeks before.) But I KNOW I'm going to eat it all myself because when everyone else is celebrating "ugliness," I either go to a movie or turn out the lights and read a book by the little book lamp one of you gave me for Christmas. I enjoyed Halloween before they quit throwing carnivals at the schools for LITTLE kids--with cake walks, fish ponds, bobbing for apples, and before we had to take all candy to the hospital in Provo to have it examined for possible razor blades stuck in apples. Really. People are too sick today to celebrate a sick holiday. It just adds to the madness.

The only Halloween party I've ever been to was Meghan Hoyos--mainly because we were also celebrating her birthday. Chad and Savannah were dressed up like CATS ( I'm not kidding--so creepy); DJ had on a full prison jumpsuit; and Meghan switched between at least three full hoop-skirted ball gowns and got so hung up in swooping the skirts back and forth on the floor just like Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind that I thought she was for sure stoned on something other than red kool-aid (why do they call that sugary stuff "aid"? Or did I spell it wrong?) Then, Chad tried to teach me how to swing dance. Really. I was so freaked out that I totaled my car on the way home, had to have my son, Turner, call Meghan from the hospital to tell her not to come out to my house the next morning as planned, and puleeese do NOT come to hospital as I was fine. Did they listen? No. Next morning I open my eyes to see Chad and Mike Danielson standing--with flowers--staring at my bruises and swollen-up body, etc. (all damage caused by air bags). I hate Halloween.

And ChrisBob, I keep asking and asking for your e-mail, so I can go to "permissions" on this site, where I send you an invitation, which you answer, which adds you as author/admin. We need you. We miss you. Where's Afton? Why doesn't she write? (I sound like Costner in Dances with Wolves.) Don't get your own site. Use ours, 'cause you make us laugh, and we need help in supporting Julie & Chan, so Chan doesn't come back to us next semester driven completely mad by his mud-sucking job, and so Julie doesn't throw books at students, kill one of them, lose her support money for the fam, which would mean that she and D. starve to death before David can even get through his first year of med school. It's pretty serious. Plus Leanna has developed an Aloneness neurosis AND voyeurism habits. (I've thought of talking to Lance privately. What do you think?) Haylie has a beautiful new baby, but Kameron has disappeared into the world of Busy-ness and dropped off the earth, Rhett is so happily married that he makes everyone sick, and Dan (Jami's brother?), I don't even know how to describe his weirdness. Believe me when I say, we need you.

And, puleeeeease, do not let Anona fool you. She's the one who hauled the straw bales up the three flights, trying to keep buff for soccor (msp?) but it's so uncool that she insists on acting surprised. Sure. Sure. She'll do anything to keep that unruffled, queen-like cover. The little twit.

Also, do not visit me this weekend. I'm still chain sawing trees that fell, trying to unscrew sprinklers before snow, so I'm so overwhelmed that I haven't even washed dishes for a week (had to use a WC paper cup this morning for water), and I'd feel like I'd have to, at least, clean off a place for you and yours to sit, but I can't. The snows she is a comin' Mun. Come see me next time you're here, which better be soon. Go make fun of Anona's straw bales. And trick or treat at her door, so she's not disappointed. AND SEND YOUR E-MAIL.

10/25/07

Trick or Treat?


So people in Pennsylvania are weird. I know I've said this before, but really, they are bizarre. You have this holiday called "Halloween," right? The one where all the children dress up as monsters, princesses, and the latest super-hero movie star and then go and raid people's homes for candy. That day, as far as I have ever known it, is on October 31. Always. Halloween is October 31. Not a hard concept. But here , oh no, here they decided to have Halloween the Thursday before October 31. Always. And the things is, no one knows why we are having the holiday up to a week early. We just are. So today, the Thursday before Halloween, we celebrated Halloween.

So it's a week early. Okay. Fine. I'm still excited about this because this year I will actually get trick-or-treaters. I mean, in Rexburg, no kids comes to the apartment complexes. So I went to Wal-mart and bought 15 dollars worth of candy. (The paranoid person within me was afraid I would run out). I bought those little plastic spider rings and Halloween pencils. Reflecting back, I have to think, what do pencils have to do with Halloween and why would a child want one? But oh, well, they were shiny and festive and I was taken in by someone's marketing ploy.

I go to work today and I ask if I can get off a little early, so I can be home in time to hand out candy to the kids. I get home around sixish and I wait. And wait. And wait, until finally the door bell. I race down the stairs and my eyes behold an adult. "Trick-or-treat," they say with a smile. I am about to slam the door in this person's face. How dare they have the audacity to steal the candy that belongs to children? Then I realize that it is my neighbor asking for the mail key. I trudge back up the stairs and wait some more. All night.

And the grand total of trick or treaters? Six. I got a Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, a cowgirl and an Indian, a leopard, and a cow. And I have never had such a good time with Halloween, even if it was a week before it was suppose to be. I thought for sure I would be disgruntled, but with the six trick or treaters I got, I was able to talk to them, they explained to me their costumes, how much candy they had already gotten, and how the cow was sure she saw a vampire. It was the best round of trick-or-treaters I've had in four years PLUS I gave them so much candy, pencils, and rings, I'm sure they'll come back next year.

Don't worry though, I had enough candy. I didn't run out.

10/24/07

Hate job

I hate my job. There are two good things about my job. 1) I get to drive a forklift. They can pick up heavy things and turn really sharp. 2) I get to see the sunrise out a big bay door near my area. I can't remember the last time I was awake early enough to see a sunrise; before beginning this job, that is. They used to have free popsicles, which would have made three things, but not anymore.

I get so angry at work lately. The past couple of weeks I've been training guys into my area so I could switch to a different one. But after training five guys who either quit or were fired (five!), I just stayed. They changed my area so it's much less efficient, meaning more work for me. I don't mind work, I like work. But I don't like having extra work piled on me by someone who doesn't acknowledge me at all. It's like I'm not a person in there. They just expect me--if they even consider that there is an I, a me doing their work--to do it, no questions asked. I feel helpless, and I hate, hate, hate feeling helpless. It makes me angry; plows me straight into the dirt.

On a lighter note...I currently have a beard. Congratulations on your engagement, Tyler. Coincidentally, the last time Southern California was burning to the ground (for years ago) I was serving my mission in Tyler's home ward.

10/23/07

Hey!


Hey, did everyone but moi know that Tyler Little is engaged? Look at the first picture. Ha Ha Barbara is thinking Hmmm . . . He's too too crazy. How can I get out of this and still keep the ring. No. Congrats. Congrats.
It's going to be a little like going through Eric's thing again--separated, planning a wedding long-distance? Remember how wiggy he got? And he never really recovered, did he? Don't worry, Tyler. We'll help you out. I don't know how, but don't worry.
Also, Haylie--Remember, Haylie? The missing person whose name we sent into Without a Trace?--came in to the office today with babe. I took great pictures and will post them tomorrow.

This just came through from Kirsten's mission. Write her?

From: Kirsten Forsberg [mailto:kirstenforsberg@myldsmail.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 8:31 AM
To: Morgan, Sharon
Subject: Well hello
Well here I am in the mission field. I am sure the reality of it will sink in someday; right now I feel like I am substituting for someone else. We are busy teaching people; we have a couple of investigators getting baptized, some that are struggling with their testimonies, and we are teaching some less-active and recent convert lessons. So we are on our toes. Going into he transfer there were 7 sisters in the mission, and 6 came up from the MTC. Do the math, and you realize that just about every sister is training. One sister has only been out 6 weeks and she is training, mine has been out for 4 1/2 months so I am counting myself lucky. Sister Bedwell, my companion, likes to sing and give hugs. I guess I am just gong to have to get used to that aren't I. She is helping me be nice to people, so that is always a plus. Hindsight is so cool sometimes; I was pondering about life the other day and I realized how much the Lord has been preparing me for going on a mission. It says in the D&C 38ish "I have prepared thee for a greater work" or something like that, and it's a blessing to know that the Lord really does know what He is doing. How is the semester going? Sorry for the grammatical and spelling errors; I am trying to type lightning fast and my sausage fingers sometimes hit the wrong keys. Have a great week, let me know how you are doing.
Kirsten

10/21/07

Alone

My husband left me Friday morning. It's been our first time apart since we got married a little over a year ago. He went to his sister's wedding in North Carolina, so since Friday I've been alone. Well, except Jami Joy's husband had to work all night, so she came over and we had a slumber party! I don't think I've done that in years. We painted our nails, watched chick flicks, ate too much junk food, I got her addicted to hot chocolate and creamer, and we talked...a lot. It was nice not having to sleep all by myself. Oh and if you want any scoop on Jami's inner psyche, just let me know because she talks in her sleep. Just kidding...

All of that was Friday night, but last night I was most definitely alone, except for the company of my cat. I turned on two night lights (why we have two, I don't know...) and cuddled up with an old teddy bear (yes, I still have a teddy bear). It's weird how scared I was. I kept telling myself "Come on, Leanna, you used to sleep by yourself all the time for 21 years until you got married! Now what's happened to you?" and "It's okay, Leanna, those noises outside are only the wind not some madman about to come through your window...right?" It was like just having him here makes me feel safe. And I can't even tell you how many ditzy things I did while he was gone because he wasn't here to keep me on track. They say you become one when you get married, and I'm learning that that is so very true. So much that it's a bit scary.

(And everyone admit, I got you good with that first line, didn't I!)

10/19/07

Help

Help me people, because I'm living small. I make lists at the beginning of each day to add purpose to my life, which include items like "finish reading my library books," or "cut Austin’s hair." Why don’t I ever put "go to grad school," or "climb a mountain"? I never get everything on my list done, so I guess in proportion to the goals I didn’t accomplish, my guilt too would grow.
You know what, I’m just too comfortable. Being married has definitely not helped in the "do great things" area. This may sound bad, but it just means now that I know someone is okay with the person I am now, in this moment, I’m not searching for something big to define myself by. But I think I could do better. I haven't done any homework for the past two weeks. Any suggestions?

10/17/07

Across the Universe


I always end up with the best people in the whole universe working for the Center. Ultra sensitive students (well, except Dan--Joke) teach me constantly by example. It has been this way for several years now. You seem to be in a continuous state of awareness about the condition of others around you.
I, on the other hand, walk in my own clouds and stumble through life hitting doors and trees, unaware when someone else is in need until they actually reach for the Kleenex in my office. For example, I have been ill. (I feel so much better today that I suddenly realize just how ill I've been. Thanks everyone for holding things together, for helping my supervisors, for doing your job with diligence and responsibility.) However, certain--unmentionable in-an-open-blog-- elements still linger from the illness. This afternoon as I sat in a session with a student from South Africa, my stomach dropped out from where it usually sits, and I panicked. I didn't know how to excuse myself without being rude, but it became critical that I move quickly, so I yelled for Kiersten (who had an ID card in her hand to swipe) to come quickly and show Eric how to indent a long quotation, Puleeeese! As I walked/ran down the hall to the restroom, I thought, thank Heavens Kiersten didn't protest, joke, quibble, or question me. Bless her heart. Later, I looked up and Em Po was waving her finger in the air--my own sign for "wrap it up--NOW." Too funny. Then when I walked into my office, I found a bowl of fruit and some Yoplait with a note: "You look like you could use a snack."
Now, I'm sure some of you have been in similar situations while tutoring ESL students from Siberia who don't understand the workings of our sickly soft, unable-to-play-soccer, Caucasian bodies. But did I ever notice and run to your rescue? Nooooo. Never. Not once. I only notice if you're talking too much in a session or if you're late. Last week, when I came back to my office after many days of murkiness, I found food and vitamin C (which Lance had made lighter by 150+. "We need them too, Leanna."), and a sweet note from my "supervisors" taped to my screen. Then here comes three Assistants to the door, bearing more gifts: Jami brought me lotion, which I bought for the front desk; Meghan had the basket of mints in her hands; Em Po brought...Kleenex from the front? Cute. They just wanted to bring me something to make it better. So they faked it. And I loved the feelings behind it. It reminded me of the Christmas Jaren and Greg came early and realized they hadn't brought any gifts? Does this shame them? NO, while I'm rushing to wrap a few paltry things for the spouses I forgot were coming, they go from room to room of my house, collect small treasures, sneak into the loft to wrap them, and address them all to me. When I opened one later, I said, "Geez, I love this; I just bought one just like it at DI." Such is the mettle of those who have served here and who serve here now.
During that beautiful snowstorm over conference, I lost half the trees in my yard. Big clumps of trees fell as my retribution for killing a beaver this spring. I've tried to clean it up, but it's been overwhelming. I could barely pull the tree limbs into piles, sweating, slightly cussing, retreating to the couch in total defeat, hoping to find even a John Wayne movie on TV to distract me from having to spend all my free time in the bathroom. (Wait till you try to play soccer at sixty, Anona; the realization that you won't have a good functioning body back until the resurrection hits you from behind. I still gasp with surprise when I can't even climb on top of my truck to pull a branch off the wires without scraping my knee, which caused me to pull the branch down on my face. Ahhh.) But last Saturday I came home to this note: Sis. Morgan (this rules out my hipster and cowboy friends and half the intellectual company I keep), I didn't realize the amount of limbs until I got here! I didn't have a chain saw so I couldn't do much. I hope I didn't make a bigger mess than there was. Thanks for all you do! Anonymous. I looked around and someone had pulled trees, brush and limbs into four or five huge piles--as tall as my house. I remember thinking whoever did this is very tired right now, and I prayed for blessings to come down on his/her head. "Make a bigger mess?" Hardly. It would have taken days and weeks for me to do what this person had given up a Saturday to do. And then the note ends with "Thanks for all I do"? Sure. Did I feel humbled? What do you think? Good people. Good company. Good job. Good year.
(Now, will these blessings and this current humility keep me from yelling at you from now on? Hmm . . . .)

10/16/07

Thirty seconds of writing which is all I have to spare


1. K-mart is a microcosm for life (more on this later).
2. Teaching is hard.
3. Sugar cookies are best when they are first taken out of the oven.
4. "Hostess" is just another way for saying "Superficial."
5. Life is better when it is cold outside.
6. First graders have an attention span of about 30 seconds.
7. First graders are like fly paper for every germ known to mankind.
8. Run down places known as "the projects" really do exist outside of movies.
9. Teaching is really hard.
10. Ice Cream should be on the National Nutrition Standards Food Essential Chart Thing (Yes I did make that name up) because it is saving my life.
11. Gettysburg should be visited by everyone before they die.
12. I know that more than Anona, Chandler, and Sis. Morgan read this blog so you should all get busy and write!!!!!! (i.e. I miss hearing from you all).

10/15/07

The Brutal Sport

Last Thursday I played in my first soccer game. I didn't really mean to. The thing is, for the ward teams there has to be at least three girls playing, otherwise you forfeit. So Austin and I are rushing from campus, he's changing in the car, and we pull up and this big group gathered around the ref all turn and stare at me. Then Gaelin, our next-door neighbor, runs up to my window and starts pleading with me to play. ("You don't even have to run, you can just stand there on the field...I'll cook you a t-bone steak...etc.) Anyway, I agree, because otherwise everyone in the ward will know me as "the-girl-who-caused-us-to-forfeit-our-game" right?

I've only played with my family before (homeschooled, remember?) but I was having fun running around until this girl who had gotten a yellow card earlier kicked a soccer ball at me at close range. The upshot of which is, I had forgotten to take my ring off, so the ball crunched my fingers onto my ring, gouging a square gash down the inside of my pinky and bruising the side of my hand, then ricocheted off the left side of my face, leaving a red streak up the side of it for the next 24 hours. I was really embarrassed because I started crying just as an instant reaction to the pain when the ball hit my face, and the girl started apologizing profusely and the ref came over and asked me if I wanted to go out, and I'm just trying to wave them away and tell them I'm fine as I'm crying and holding my face. Because come on, it's sports--no pain no gain! As this girl in a session today said, pain in sports is like a toy in your Happy Meal--you just expect it.

10/8/07

I have good intentions of posting on here all the time but can never think of what to write. Sister Morgan is probably rolling her eyes and saying, "pffshh, well duh," to her computer as she reads that. It's probably the oldest excuse on the planet for writers. I can recall specific instances when I used it in 2nd grade, but I used it even before that, I'm sure.

Week days roll by one after another. (Well, that's stupid. How else would they roll by, two and three at time? I'm trying to say that week days all seem the same and pass without event) At best I wake up willing to get out of bed and put on my steel-toed sneakers and greasy, dusty shorts and shirt I wear all week without washing. Sometimes a warehouse colleague will say something I can laugh about with my family when I get home (the latest, compliments of Bill: "...of course I can count! I've been countin' since I was six!" Impressive). At worst I go to bed late, convince myself from 5:45 to 5:50am that I won't quit my job and will go in to work, run from my car to the timeclock to punch in by 6:30, try not to work too quickly until lunch at 11:00, forget my plight for a moment at 3:30 while eating a three pack of vanilla Zingers from the gas station on my way home, and then think about doing something productive with my time from 4:00 until I go to bed at 9:30. Refrain.

No, days don't always, or even usually go that miserably. Mostly I like my job, kinda. But time has felt slow the past week with little on the horizon to focus on. It's like the point in a roadtrip when you're tired of your music, conversation has lapsed, you've eaten too many Swedish fish, and you're still too far from your destination to anticipate reaching it. Blah.

Oh well. I'll write again next week when I'll probably be happier. I hope everyone is well, I love reading your posts.

Chan

9/26/07

Dumpster Diving

So there is this thing that the other Mormon medical wives do here in Pennsylvania. It's what most of us did in Junior High when we accidentally threw our retainer into the garbage at lunch time. That's right--dumpster diving.

But get this--they are really good at it. My friend Amber, she hasn't bought a single piece of furniture in years. And if that's not enough, she's gotten into the business of finding furniture at the dumpsters and selling it on Ebay--for a profit. I still remember the first time I walking with her and a few others in the morning. Her long ponytail swung behind her as she thrust her stroller forward like a general leading a battalion. "Yes," she said enthusiastically, "I found the desk at the dumpsters and TJ helped me haul it up to our apartment. I sold it for 20. Not bad for lifting it up a few steps, eh?"

Since we've been here, David and I have invested in a bed and a table. The bed we bought from an actual store (but hey, we were desperate after the air mattress) and the table we got at a garage sale. A nice lady, said her grandsons used the table as a Thomas the Train play station. Since then, the dumpster diving med-wives have made it there personal mission to help furnish our home for less than, well, less than any money.

After our two weeks, they had found us a lamp. A tall, open faced one with a black finish. Not bad. Then after a few more days, we had a desk. A small stain in the corner, but nothing to complain about. And just last week, Amber found us a couch. T
Amber knocked on our door at around 10 pm. "I've found you guys a couch," was all she said, "Do you want to come see it?"
We walked out to the dumpsters, and there sat what was soon to become our newest edition. This was not just any couch, though my friends. This was a felt-green-orange-gold vintage relic from the golden ages of the 1960's. Do we count ourselves lucky? Oh yes. We sat on the couch by the dumpster for a few minutes, seeing how it 'felt.' After a few moments, we knew that this sunken in antique had to be ours. Amber piled the cushions on top of her stroller, completely covering her little baby daughter. Then David and I attempted to heave the couch back to our apartment. I hadn't walked 20 feet, when I had to set it down. Just then a loud voice floated from the parking lot. "What a great couch! That is just the couch to get you through the first two years of medical school." David strained his neck around and I glanced over my shoulder. Approaching through the darkness was a short, jovial looking fellow who was balding. "Do you need a hand with that? That happens to be my couch."
The fellow helped us with his old couch up to our apartment. He cast one look around our bare front room and stated astutely, "Well now, this place is heavily furnished."

The medical students circulate through furniture. I think our current coach (the one we found at the dumpsters) has probably been through medical students since the early 1970's. When the med students are done with medical school, they simply leave their furniture at the dumpsters for the rest of the campus to utilize. It's a beautiful process to see.

Now in our front room sits a table, a couch, a desk, and a lamp. None of which are coordinated, or were purchased at Pier One. It doesn't look like Better Homes and Gardens or like Martha Stewart. And I couldn't be happier. Because our apartment looks like a home.

9/25/07

First letter from Kristen's mission


Hey Sister Morgan! This mission is awesome. I'm not very good at teaching, but everyone has to learn I guess. I want to learn and be good because this is people's salvation at stake here. It is hard. I am ALWAYS tired. I fell asleep in a member's house once. Ooops. I don't think she noticed though. It is so cool to see how the Lord truly blesses His missionaries.
By the time I got to Virginia, I was pretty sick with bronchitis, but I still had to go out and work, so some days I felt like I was dizzy and stumbling around. But it felt like someone kept pushing me to the next door. Then when we got to a doorstep, I felt fine while we talked to someone. Then I'd stumble to the next door and so on. The Lord gets me where He needs me. Then there was one day when nobody was home that we were supposed to see, so we went to see someone we weren't expecting to, and it turned out she really really needed to talk to someone. We actually stayed there for four hours (way against the rules), but this 84 year old lady in our ward is depressed and told us that day she didn't see a reason to keep on going. We couldn't just up and leave her. Man. I'm out of time. I have to go. I wish I could tell you all the amazing things I see here and the people I talk to. Conversion stories are incredible. Someday, I'll have time.
Gotta go. Tell everyone I said hi. Tell me how its going.
Love ya
Sister Meisberger

9/17/07

Good times ahead for Everyone



I told Kirsten not to lose the "bratty tilt" to her head because we love it. We wish her the best of all the best--or whatever Heavenly Father wants to send her through, knowing she's ready and able. All our love and prayers go out to you, Kirsten.
And ALERT--Chandler Warnick is coming back. We are happy. Winter semester? His warning--"I'll be back to school this winter semester, or I'm a Dutchman (that's a phrase I just read in a Thomas Hardy novel). Put me on the roster. Lock up your daughters and hide the silverware."

9/16/07

AAAAaaaaaaaaahhhhh...........


I leave in ten days. A week and a half. My emotion is either one of excitement, super charged enthusiasm, or completely apprehensive, under qualified, and stressed out. It's either one or the other- nothing more, nothing less. I reread my P. Blessing the other day, and after reading over one part I had read a million times before, something clicked; and I thought, oh yup, this points to Utah, no doubt about that. The Lord needs me in Ogden. Someone in Ogden needs me there. Maybe I'll figure out why, maybe I won't ever know. But whatever the reason, hopefully I will have the strength and desire to do what is needed of me, and do it well.

Next Wednesday can't come soon enough; I think the restless anticipation is getting to me. I don't have anything profound or inspirational to say. I'm too worked up to think about anything more thought-provoking than how I am going to fit my humidifier into my suitcase.

(soon-to-be) Sister Kirsten Forsberg, of the Utah Ogden Mission

9/14/07

9/13/07

Hey.

Julie, where are you? I forgot who you said was a good scribbler editor. And has anyone seen our good friend, Chris Mower? Kirsten F. when do you leave for mission?
Kristen called me from the airport, scared, excited, and ready. Really. She said she was having an identity crisis, but who isn't? Jami Joy is very creative, and have you noticed she's luminous since she got married? And Bryndie makes me thoroughly happy laugh because she's now saying, "Hey, you forgot me again," instead of just sitting there and letting me pass her peaceful face by. Great improvement.
Chan, if you're reading this, you should ask Dan S. about his latest explosive mess of a situation. You'd have good advice for him. Travis and Millie, guess who's back? Meghan Hoyos, as beautiful and full of sweetness as ever.
Thanks to Leanna and Sara for rushing me materials tonight for the schedule and quotations from students. I'm excited--but I've just got to go home right now and talk Patch out of this crush he has on that skunk.

9/8/07

A Nostalgic Afternoon

I'm looking ahead at fall training, just realizing that most of our crew is new this year. How strange. Of course, Leanna, Anona, Rhett, and Emily P. have already been thoroughly immersed (baptized, initiated) into the WC culture. They know what to expect, what not to expect, and they don't squirm anymore at seminar. Dan still waits for Anona's confrontations, which always chip away at his unhealthy neutral stance. (Dan looks so normal, doesn't he? Who would have guessed we've hired a madman?) Emily Martin, I believe, would fit in anywhere with her calm spirit and willingness to do what's needed.I hope Kameron is coming back. Hailie should have had her baby by now. Has anyone heard?
I remember the first time I ever saw Leanna:I was giving an Academic lecture to a group of English majors in the Taylor Bldg, and I was talking about how hard it is for English majors to walk out of Barnes and Noble with only one book; they usually spend money they don't have on sacks and sacks of books. I saw her sitting in the middle row, a little to the right of where I was standing. She nodded her head and smiled. I had an instant flash that this girl, who was laughing at her own book fetish, would be working for us soon. I could tell similar stories about most of you. Anona has become a close friend even though we don't talk much. I feel her old and wise spirit standing beside me even when she's sitting in the classroom in front of me. Anona, Kristen, and I have choked down thick brownie cakes, bought snake hats, and watched rodeos and fireworks together. Rhett has settled down and become a strong tutor. He welcomes people with open arms into the Center, even as he suffered all summer with nervous love sickness before he finally asked B. to marry him.
I almost lost Emily Poteet as she and Byndie hid behind others in the seminar, afraid I'd call on them. I coaxed her back, and now as I watch her work with ESL and with Travis, our autistic student, I know I'm watching miracles. And who could forget the bratty tilt of Kirsten's face? She wrote this sentence in a paper once: "I sit here and I fake it; I don't know anything" [paraphrased]. Ha. She leaves on her mission soon, and I say, "Watch out, Ogden; a strong cool breeze is comin' your way."

Today, many assistants who sat in sessions at these same desks, just a little while ago, walk through my mind. I see Shalese flipping her hair back. ("How are you?" she said once. "I'm fine." She looked at me carefully and asked, "Are you telling me the truth?" She had a way of forcing me back into dealing with the moment.) I see Millie and Tev painting my hallway and sun room. I remember Shalese and Millie walking back into the Center after their missions, and how glad and proud I felt, as if they were my own daughters. (Once, as we drove to find something to eat, I realized I'd left my money in my office, and since all three of us were too tired to go back and get it, I drove down the sidewalk to park in front of the library door. "Here comes a suit-person, Millie," I said. "Act like we're supposed to be here." We stared straight ahead looking our official best, so Shalese could run up the stairs. "Now what do we do? I can't back out of here." "It's okay," Shalese said. "Just drive straight across to the other side." Whew.)
I remember laughing so hard as Chris picked me up when I fell off his horse. And I still see him, sad and scared, hanging onto Afton's hand as she sweated in a hospital bed. I see the Warnicks as they jumped to rescue anyone and everyone who was the least bit uncomfortable. I miss watching Tanner wander through his confusion over M. And Chandler? Snake catching Chan? I've never known anyone pull off parties, right in front of me, without my permission, like he did.Images from their papers still hang with me. I remember watching Kristen cringe while she read her P. blessing to me when we drove back from RMTC, as the Spirit called her heart on a mission. And Julie? She once lay on the bench across from me and waited out a dark twilight night that I had to pass through. "Can you eat some Pizza?" she said over the phone. "No. I don't want to see anyone today." Ten minutes later she drives down my lane with the Pizza anyway. Now, she cries over her cut finger? Don't let her fool you. That girl is not afraid of real pain, gut pain; she is stronger than she knows. I still see her puttering around my kitchen, and I greatly value the hand can opener she and Shalese bought me for Christmas because they got tired of trying to get my electric one to work at each party. I can hear Travis' voice, this quiet afternoon, as he patiently taught me computer stuff. His work ethic is impeccable. I trusted him as a strong leader and watched him shed his concrete mask. He became honest and open. And we all loved him because we saw the real Travis. His courage to be himself helped us work to be more real.
Many other assistants walk out from corners in my memory. So many late night talks in my office, so many movies, dinners, parties, and long loooong seminars. I am amazed as I remember the faces, the strength, the patience. You were the Writing Center. I leaned heavily on your responsible leadership. Now, for the first time in several years, I'll have to give my full attention to the WC because those of you who held it together have moved on. How blessed I've been to work with some of the great and noble Spirits who walk this earth. Some of you I know I knew in the Preexistence. I see us as sisters and brothers rather than employer and students. And today I feel nostalgic, sentimental, and incredibly grateful. Thank You. (Of course, this mood probably won't last until our meeting on Tuesday, so, don't worry; by then you can expect me to be back to my onery self again.)

9/4/07

When life gives you lemons...


Yesterday my Singles Branch had the usual Fast Sunday potluck. I planned on bringing rice and soy sauce, but after a moment of contemplation I felt I should bring something else, something more potluck-y. After all, who really brings rice to a potluck? I couldn’t scrounge up anything else, so I grabbed a 2-liter bottle of pink lemonade sitting in our garage. It must have been in our garage for quite some time; the gritty film of dust on the top of the bottle proved evidence of that. I strolled into potluck with my rice, soy sauce, and pink lemonade, dropped everything in its designated place, and began to flit around like the social butterfly I am. A while later Chelsey, a girl in my Branch, pours herself a cup, smacks her lips a bit, and says, “Kirsten, this lemonade tastes kind of funny.” Hm, that’s weird; how can lemonade taste funny? I had to try it. And sure enough, it tasted… odd. I even tried swishing it around like wine-tasters do, but it still didn’t taste right. We couldn’t figure out why it tasted so suspicious until somebody looked at the expiration date: December 2003. It is September 2007. Somebody suggested that it probably fermented; hey, makes sense to me. So, since nobody in attendance at potluck drinks fermented anything (plus the fact that it tasted funny) the remainder of my lemonade got poured down the drain. I think next time I’ll skip the rice and hard lemonade and just bring Jell-o.

9/1/07

I began my career as a warehouse laborer this past Monday. But I don't feel like writing about that. Instead I want to tell you about the animals in our backyard, which we name. They are

Skitch the chipmunk
Earl and Pearl the squirrels
Sedgewick the wren
Cecil and Robert the downey woodpeckers
Maggie the rabbit
Guillermo the baby cardinal
Fred and Martha the adult cardinals
Walter and Edna the hummingbirds
Romulus the nuthatch
Estaban the bluejay
and, finally, Horton the elephant.

For most of these species the same individual probably doesn't keep coming back, but we still call them all by the same name.
The hummingbirds chase each other all day because they're territorial. They'll zip and squeek right past your ears if you sit on the porch long enough.
Currently the cardinals are molting, so some of them have ugly, skeletal black heads, like buzzards.
Nuthatches spiral headfirst down a tree looking for insects.
Wrens don't do anything special, but they're spry and pretty. And in fifth grade, I wrote a poem about a wren who was my friend. I asked him if he was in a fen or a forest glen.
Bluejays immitate hawk calls to scare the other birds away, or they just bully them all 'til they leave.
When Earl is eating at our feeder I try to step slowly toward him. I want to get close enough to touch him, because squirrels look so soft. If that works out, maybe I'll teach him how to play Uno, or something. I whistle regularly as I move his way, thinking maybe over time he'll associate me with the whistle and that will...do something, I'm not sure what, now that I think about it. I've gotten pretty close, but no consistent progress.
We also dog sit an old, white terrier named Dusty who lays at my feet as I type this. By that I mean that he lays where my feet would be if he weren't laying there. He is the most static, unexcitable dog I've ever met, and he won't move when he's in your way until you begin shoving him.
About my job: I wake up before six. Numbers like 17700-U2230 and 16711-16630 mean specific things to me. I get time-and-a-half for overtime. I'm required to wear a hard hat when operating a fork-lift. The first couple of days were rough because it was new and the guys I work with cussed a lot and told filthy jokes. But as I didnt't cuss and and didn't laugh at their jokes, things got cleaner. The guys are good hearted.

Chan

8/30/07

Potato Peelings


I was frantic, trying to get dinner somewhat done and get ready for work and clean up the apartment, all within 30 minutes. I pulled the potatoes from under the cupboard and began peeling like mad. Potato peelings were flying everywhere when suddenly I saw something that was not a potato peeling. How did I know this? Because potatoes don't bleed. I glanced down and saw that I had peeled half my finger off. I began to shriek and clawed at the paper towels. I pulled off half the roll and wrapped my finger in it, bouncing up and down with anxiety. Strangely enough, the only thing I could think of was, "Okay, just stay calm. It's only a little cut and you have to get these potatoes peeled."
Without even thinking I picked up the potato peeler again (without washing it) and began to peel the potato. Before I had done more than two swipes, I glanced down at the paper towels around my finger. They were soaked in my blood. Okay, not just a little cut anymore. I dashed all around the apartment looking for bandaids. David is going to be a doctor, for pity's sake, you would think that we would have bandaids. Nope. By this time I was growing hysterical. I ran over to my neighbors, blood dripping all the way, but she wasn't home. I ran back up into my apartment and searched through the ward directory for someone I could call. But I didn't need to. The phone rang. It was my other neighbor. "Julie," she said, "I was just thinking--" I cut her off, "Nancy! Do you have bandaids? I cut my finger."

I ran over to her apartment, this time with my finger wrapped in a drenched hand towel. She took one look at me and said, "I don't have a big enough bandaid." We wrapped it cotton swabs surrounded by six bandaids. My finger looked like it had a small grapefruit taped to the end of it.

When I got home from work, I threw the potato peeler in the garbage and we had pasta for dinner. David wanted to clean my finger to protect it from getting infected. I flat out refused. There was no way he was taking off my bandages. He threatened to take me to the hospital if I didn't. While he cleaned it, I cried like a seven year old. I yelled, and threatened, and pleaded. All the while David saying things like, "You're doing great sweetheart."

Yesterday, I found out I cut through multiple nerve endings and an artery, which is why it hurt so much. And my finger will always be slightly skinny--it won't ever be the same as it was.

I never thought of peeling potatoes as cruel. But it is really a thing of exposure. With a sharp ended knife, you are peeling away the skin of something to get to what is underneath. Since I have been out here in PA, I feeling like I have been peeled again and again and again. Each time, a new layer of exposure is unmasked and I am left to toughen and to heal. David is there to make sure there is no infection, but there isn't really a whole lot to do against the pain. I suppose it must be a good thing, but it the meantime, I think that I am going to eat pasta for dinner from now on.