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.


Callused fingertips

I have calluses on my fingertps and the palms of my hands. I especially notice them when my hands get dry because they're the first parts to feel taut and papery. They remind me of when my brother and I used to race each other around the pool. We had an in-ground pool with concrete surrounding it. The rule was you had to float, using no muscles but your arms and by placing your hands very quickly one right over the other on the concrete rim, you would drag yourself around and around the pool, trying to pass the opponent. The concrete was hot and we would naturally wear out our fingertips on its roughness and burn them at the same time. It only took a few games of that in order to make it unbearable to open a car door. We found ways of dodging the metal hot handle to spare our worn fingertips, though, by reaching under the handle with a knuckle or two. Soon enough after so many games, they became callused and we no longer had to dodge car handles or the metal part on seatbelts for that matter.

It's been years since my fingertips have been so worn, but this summer instead of being worn from concrete, they've been worn by carrying hot plates to customers. I have been working as a waitress at JB's. I got the job extremely easily considering my husband is one of the managers, but no one there seems to mind the unfairness. I have trained myself to smile to the customers and not seem too anxious to get their flaming hot plate out of my hands. I'm afraid that one night I won't be able to make it to the table, that I will just drop their food on the ground and be done with the torture. I love it, though, when they sit there and stare at the food for awhile before realizing I have nowhere to put it. Then they clear a place for the plate to land. All the while I just have to stand there smiling while my fingertips scream. Then I smile, ask them if they need anything else, go behind the servers station, and stick my fingers in my ice water. Then I hear "Leanna!" from the cook's window, and I realize it's time to do it all over again.

Yes, I have greater respect for servers now, and a deeper longing to blister my fingertips in a more nostalgic way like by racing my brother around the pool in a silly game. It just made callused fingertips seem worth it.


Amusement Parks

(My one sunny day in Washington)
Hello People and Kirsten whom I haven't called back yet. We've kind of been out in the boonies, so I didn't get the message until Oregon. You kind of lose track of time on your second honeymoon. So far, we've made it to the sea lion caves, the redwoods, the beach, a scary motel when we couldn't find a camping spot with vatos and cops hanging around, San Francisco, and most recently 6 flags in L.A. I've never been to an amusement park or ridden on a roller coaster before. I liked it. I haven't worked up the courage to open my eyes yet, but I think my stomach would be less queasy if I did.
Chan, Kirsten, I wish I could say hi right now face to face, but keep blogging. I miss you all !!!
lv, Anona


Well, friends, Sis. Morgan's right: it's time I updated everyone. I'm pregnant. Just kidding.

Today's excitement reached its zenith when I found a new bottle of gel/pomade stuff in the bathroom and put some in my hair after my shower. Which I took at 2:30. In part that was interesting to me because I am vain (or, as I thought to myself while driving today, I have a strong appreciation for my aesthetic strengths), but mostly I just don't do exciting things from day to day . That's not to say I'm bored--I study Chinese some days, I take walks (on today's walk I pilfered a bunch of chicken wire someone was throwing away, which I will fashion into a turtle trap. I'll let you know how it works, Kirsten), I do sudoku puzzles, I try meditating, I make dinner once a week, I look for jobs, I look at birds in my backyard, and I try hard not to argue with my little brother and sisters. I'm getting pretty good at that one (somehow, of all the petty things to argue about, my little bro. and I argue about Mac's vs. PCs). I don't write much, but I mean to often.

And I read. I just finished a book about ADD (don't laugh), and now I'm reading a biography of John Adams, a book about meditation, one with testimonies of Mormons scholars and celebrities, and a book on LDS history. I don't usually read so many books at once.

I applied for a job at Petco as a reptile expert. I don't care to ever own a reptile as a pet, but I do like holding them, something I'm sure I'd do often at this job. I could probably get a great deal on a python for the WC; you know, like a mascot.

I've switched back to thinking I'd like to be a doctor. Regardless of what I do, I want a bachelor's in English. But I don't get excited about a career as an English professor. The results and worth of it would be too abstract, or maybe intangible, for my head; that is to say it's a wonderful field, but I would not fit the job. While making small talk at a YSA activity earlier this week, a kid asked me, "so what are you doing?" in reference to school and career. I took a breath and said, "uhh, well, I might get my BA in English with a minor in Chinese and another in biology and then go to medical school and then go be a doctor in China for a while. Maybe." He said, "...like, seriously?" Yes, seriously, that's my current pipe-dream career. But, then again, I wanted to be a doctor a couple years ago, until I took chemistry, which slapped me around and made me feel stupid. Which I'm not, but I am magically bad at studying and getting school work done. A pound of effort for an ounce of results, that's what school feels like sometimes.

This is very long, thank-you to anyone who read all of it. I miss all of you lots, honest injun. Wish I could be with all of you in the center this fall. I hope everyone is well.



Quick "Mind Droppings"

  • Heeeeeey Anona! Kirsten's trying to get hold of you, and your e-mail is full. (A blister? You cry baby. It sounds like great fun.)
  • Kirsten, we want to know the words you used to describe yourself to the M. Pres.
  • Kristen, where are you? E-mail me. When do you report?
  • And Dan, Dan the Man, could you please pay attention and leave these poor townspeople to their summer day-dreaming. Don't disturb Rexburg. It's dangerous. Your incredibly naive "weirdness" probably scared them into running to hit the alarms for a terrorist warning. Ha. Nice writing though (except the end sentence didn't fit tone, but . . . who cares?)
  • And Chan? How does it go with you?

News from Kirstenland

Today my mom said I could only leave 2 boxes at home when I am gone. I balked at that; I have an entire closet and underneath our stairs full of boxes. How I am going to cram all of my belongings into 2 rather small boxes I have yet to figure out. The realization that I am definitely leaving hasn't sunk in yet. I thought it would when I got my flight plan in the mail; I thought it would when I sent in my deferment; I thought it would when people started trickling back to school. Nope. Instead I continue in my la-te-dahness. Oh well, September 26 will pounce on me soon enough. I got a letter from my mission president, and on the back it said to use the space below to tell about yourself, family, etc. "Tell about yourself" things are always boring and kind of awkward, so I decided to spice things up by doing a name acronym. Yes, the kind where you write your name vertically and insert adjectives horizontally that begin with the letter of your name. Ha I bet they've never gotten one of those before.

I've been teaching swim lessons at the Y (as in YMCA, not BYU) for the past couple of weeks. It's been really fun. One of my students gave me a picture she had colored. She addressed it "To: You!" Aw, cute. The chlorine has made every strand of hair on my body as lustrous as a stalk of dried wheat in the middle of February; thus, my arm hair has all broken off and is non-existent. It is so cool- I wish they would stay like this forever. Smoother than a newborn baby's skin they are. Sister Morgan, if you read this don't send me Anona's number; I got it from Kristen. Anona, if you read this check your voicemail.


Two sides to any coin...

One thing I love about Pennsylvania:

There are trees everywhere. You can't look at any patch of ground without finding a tree growing out of it. Trees I've never seen before. Yesterday David and I went walking in a wildlife reserve just north of our apartment. It was a jungle forest. I kept expecting to see monkeys walking out onto the branches. Thick vines encase all the trees and tropical sounding birds cry out amidst the greenery. You can't take three steps without butterflies passing by your face, and you can't take five steps without at least two frogs leaping out from under your feet. It is beautiful.

One thing I hate about Pennsylvania:

THEY DO NOT PUT UP STREET SIGNS ANYWHERE!!!! Do you realize how hard it is to find your way anywhere out here when everyone just assumes that you know what street you are driving on, or that that next street is obviously the one you need, even though there's no bloody sign to let you know that yes, this is the street you are looking for. I've gotten lost so many times I've lost count.


Sorry for the sappy sentiments

People keep asking me how it feels to be a college graduate, and all I can tell them is it hasn't sunk in yet. I mean, why should it? I moved back home--that's no different than at the end of any school year. I don't have to be out looking for a job--I leave on my mission in less than two weeks. It isn't like I wake up in the morning with an imprint on my forehead that says, "I am a college graduate now!" It seems silly now to remember how I used to think gradauating would suddenly make me feel so much older, wiser, entitled. Looking at the pictures this blog, I am suddenly very homesick for the Writing Center and for my friends there. Now it hits me that I really am not going to be back there again in January like usual. My days at the BYU-Idaho writing Center are complete.

I watched the movie Freedom Writers tonight with my little brother. I had never seen it before now. I think I remember somebody (Julie?) writing about it on the WC Blackboard blog last semester, but I don't remember what was said about it. Aside from the fact that it is just another rendition of movies like Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me, and others, I really liked the movie. The whole time I watched it, I thought, I could never do what that teacher did. I don't think I'd have it in me to be as strong as that teacher, Ms. G., had to be. That thought scared me.

I leave for the mission field in less than two weeks. I am excited and scared at the same time. I wish it was time to leave right now so that I could stop making myself sick worrying about all the what-if's. I know I need to be in the mission field. I am needed for reasons for myself and for someone out there. I might not ever know why it is I needed to be there, but whatever the reason, I hope I am strong enough to be that right person in the place at the right time. I'll never forget the night I drove home from Salt Lake with Sister Morgan. As I read my patriarchal blessing by the light of my iPod, I clutched my door to hide from Sister Morgan and from the realization that my answer to serve was in there in at least six different places. No joke. Now serving a mission is the only thing I want to do. I think Heavenly Father knew I needed an answer that strong to get through to me.

The restless anticipation of getting out of here is killing me. I almost can't think straight because everything in me is geared up for being a missionary. Until August 22, however, there is nothing for me to do but wait to finally delve into the life I have been waiting to live since that ride home from Salt Lake.

-Kristen (a.k.a. Sister Meisberger of the Virginia Richmond Mission)


Well, I'm alive, just in case you were all wondering. I didn't die on my trek across the plains, but let me tell you, the United States is really big. It takes years to get across it. It took at least a year and half to get across Wyoming.
Contrary to most opinions, I found Nebraska to be beautiful--flat but beautiful. I have never seen so many cornfields in my life. Our first stop from our 30 hour drive was in Nebraska. I stepped out of the car and the first thing I noticed was that I could no longer breathe in the air. I swam in it. Humidity is something that Idaho and Utah don't have any of. For the first few minutes, I thought I was going to drown. But then something else caught my attention. It was a strange hum, like that of a disturbed telephone wire. A massive movement of electricity. After a few inquiries and some strange looks from people who work at gas stations, I found that the source of the noise were the cicadas.
The first time I had ever heard of cicadas was in seminar. I remember that Greg Fox wrote an essay about them. I think it was about friendship, loss, and transition (from what I remember), but I mostly remember his description of the cicadas. I was fascinated by them, and thought briefly that I would like to see them some time. The cicadas were my companions across the country as I traveled. If the full force of the move I was making suddenly showed itself upon the forefront of my mind, I would simply roll down the window and let the eerie electric sound of the cicadas sooth the knot within my heart.
When David and I finally arrived in Hershey, Pennsylvania, we were exhausted. Sitting in a car for 12 hours each day does a lot more too a person than you would think. As we unlocked the door to our apartment and walked up the stairs, the first thing I noticed was how empty it all was. You could hear your voice echo off of the brown brick that comprise our walls. Even after we had moved in our car load of items, it was still very empty. The front room had nothing in it, nothing at all. For our wedding, a nice old lady gave us a crystal block with the Idaho Falls Temple in it. (If you all remember Tanner's peacock paper weight that Sis. Morgan gave him for his farewell gift, it is like that). In addition to this, she gave us a silver platform that the crystal can rest upon. The platform has a switch that rotates the crystal around in a circle and emits disco colored lights through the crystal. At first, I thought that the platform was the ugliest and most sacrilegious item, but as David plugged it into the wall in our bare front room, I was reminded of home. We sat on the floor, starring at the temple circle around, changing from green to blue to red, the colors reflecting off of the walls. The rest of my body sank to the floor, my head resting on David's knee. And as the temple made another round, the tiny "Idaho Falls" shone into my eyes and burned tears onto my face. The only sounds to be heard were my sobs echoing around our apartment, and David's attempts to calm my aching.
I am better now. It is hard living so far away from family and friends, and David is gone every day for school. I miss everyone. But things are getting better. Pennsylvania is beautiful. A kind of beauty that I have never seen before. We got an air mattress to sleep on (better than the floor) and I've put up a few pictures in our front room to compliment our psychedelic temple. I realize that this is an adventure, but that doesn't mean that exempts me from the pain of losing and leaving. In the meantime, I try not to think too hard about where I am at, and focus more on what I have to do. Like drive amongst the crazy Easterners (good luck in Virginia Kristen, I hope they don't make you drive) and try and find a job (suggestions anyone?) I miss you all like crazy.


Best Story Teller

Emily Martin has just passed Dan as our greatest Story teller. She thinks she saw a bear in Relief Society. Here's a line from her recent e-mail: I saw a bear in Relief Society! It came up to the window right during our lesson. I'm going to have to take my camera to church from now on! Whew. Dan I don't know where you, Anona, and Chan can go from there?

Upside Down Day Summer Day

4Th of July, 2007. On the drive to the Rexburg parade, I remembered how melancholy Kristin had sounded the night before. I called and asked her to go pull Anona out of her cave (she had vowed to stay in and study all day) and meet me at the park. We ate until we were sick. Then, we bought balloon hats, knowing it would be impossible to stay sad wearing balloons. They gave me a "snake hat" (I didn't fire them) and a horse made out of brown balloons. Good day. Good company. Good memory.

Those Seminar Friends

We spent a lot of intense time together. Some days were good, and some were not so good, and some flew around the moon and landed us square on our feet.