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.


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


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."



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




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.


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.)


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.


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.