This doctor was looking at a Hobo spider bite on my leg today, which I got while weeding by the mailbox last week, and he said, "You needed to bring the spider in with you." . . . OK. It's hot. I'm tired and having a triple ornery month. I’ve had no summer—no camping, no fishing, no horses, no Pro-rodeos, no fresh mountain air--Plus, though I’ve made it a goal to watch my mouth (no laughing, Matt), I’m seldom able to keep it shut and act with any decorum or dignity when someone, who should know better, makes stupid stupid comments like that one. I say, “What?”
“It would help if we knew whether the spider was mature and/or male, since they have more venom than females.”
“Wow." I'm biting my lip. "I agree with you about older males."
And it goes downhill from there because I’m thinking, WHAT? WHAT! I mean what exactly is a “mature” spider? Does he wear spectacles, have perfectly groomed manners, know the best restaurants in New York, read the Washington Post with his poached eggs? It's been a long errand-running burn-out day, and suddenly I'm over the edge into that dark hysterical laughing that you know you'd better quit--or else.
"I'm sorry. I just wasn't thinking. I flipped out. I think I ripped all the spider’s freaking legs off and fed him half to the snakes and half to my cat.”
And, then it got worse. What is the matter with me?
“But, I can go try to find his brother and bring him in if you want. Actually, how do people do that? Run back to their garages and find steel gloves? Catch the spider in a butterfly net? Or call the fire department? And, how can you really tell if a spider is male or female anyway?”
I don’t want to know the answer. I don't think this guy has any answers about anything anyway. Besides, he’s standing wide-eyed with that what-is-the-quickest-way-to-get-HER-out-of-my-office look. But, while I’ve got his attention, I ask, “Is there anything anyone can really do about spider bites?”
“Well, yes, if we know for sure it was a Hobo Spider or, say, a Brown Recluse, we give you a treatment of antibiotics.”
Antibiotics? ANTIBIOTICS? Hasn’t this guy ever listened to Alanis Morrisette? I’m living on a planet with degree-carrying IDIOTS. (Edited out screaming.)
“OK, thanks,” I say on my way to pay money, cash I-could-have-have-bought- ice cream-with to the receptionist for listening to a foolish talking medical degree. “If I find the spider, I’ll bring it in.”
My advice? (Sorry David.) If you get bitten by a spider, wait until your leg is gray and putrid-smelling before you pay good money to hear what you could have looked up on the Internet.
Leanna, NO, that’s never too much information (except for the joke about Labor Day). We’re with you and excited. I’m betting on Sunday night.
Julie, I wish you’d “write” about your life. Title it “The First Year of a Solitary Affair.”(Not funny.) But, I think there’s a huge market for a book about “wives of medical students,” as long as it was strictly honest. Then, they’d know they’re not so alone.
Megan (daughter) is going to the Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot with me Monday afternoon, but she has to leave there for SLC around 4:00. So I’m following her down in my car to stay for the 7:30 Pro rodeo. If you’re bored, come with us or meet us (except not you, Leanna; you’re definitely NOT invited), so I don’t have to sit alone in the fairway waiting for the rodeo, as I delightfully watch a mish- match of wonderful people (scads of writing material), as I eat bits and pieces from all the food booths--corn on the cob, tiger ears (huge scones with honey butter), cotton candy-- and as I walk through the arts and crafts exhibitions, pay to see the Snake Lady (just kidding), or ride the Widow maker rides. Seriously, do come if you can. It’s a novel experience. (I really do love it.)
What really got me was Dorian’s awareness that even his attempts to do good were selfish in their true nature, efforts meant to satisfy his just remorse and guilt and mask his evil nature.
Jami, you were unfortunately right. I am Lord Henry, and God help me change.
(Post publishing edit: This sounded too heavy and out of character, so I'll include an apology for my characteristic moralization that's hiding in there somewhere.)
Pregnancy-wise, I'm doing just fine. This Saturday I'll be at 38 weeks. (Meaning the baby is "term," but she's not actually due for two more weeks.) She could come anytime now. Part of me can't wait to see her. I have a strong desire to count all ten little fingers and all ten little toes, which I never understood why people did that until I got pregnant. I just never realized what a miracle it is to make a perfectly formed, healthy baby. To believe that my body can do that on the first try without any practice boggles my mind. I won't believe it until I see it--until I can count all of those beautiful little appendages. Anyway, like I said, part of me is so excited to meet her and to finally see what she looks like, but then part of me has to keep reminding myself not to be too eager--"This is the last time that it'll be just you and Lance, so enjoy it while you can. Everything will be different when she comes." Different in a good way, of course, but still different.
Lance thinks she'll come this Saturday. He's pulling the "I have a feeling..." card, but I have to wonder if it's really just that he's so hopeful and eager for her to come that he's turning it into a feeling. I am trying not to think about it, though, so if it doesn't happen then I won't be disappointed. But why did he have to say that? Because even though I know that technically she can show up anytime she wants, I now find myself looking things up online about symptoms of oncoming labor and then quizzing myself on all of the items listed. "Hmmm...I think I could have felt something like that..." I can hear Sis. Morgan laughing at me, too, as I try to make plans on when she'll come. I can hear her in my head "What control do we have at all over anything? It's all on the Lord's timetable." Thanks, Sis. Morgan. I need someone in there to keep me on the ground.
Well, I made it. I’m married, I have a new last name, and I live in Henderson, Nevada, with a boy. And I’m happy. So happy. I thought I would get butterflies the morning we got married. Everyone gets cold feet, right? But Brad and I never did. We got our marriage license the day before our ceiling, and the lady just kept saying, “You both seem so calm. I don’t typically see this.” Then the ladies in the temple kept saying, “We always feel so nervous for the girls because they seem so nervous, but you seem completely calm.” And I was. So was Brad. And now that it’s all said and done, we keep asking ourselves, “Why did we wait 19 months to do this?”
We went to Glacier National Park for our honeymoon. It was a different kind of beautiful than I’ve ever seen. It looked like hundreds of paintings smashed together. I felt like we weren’t in America. At a certain point during each hike, there were small signs next to the path that read, “Entering Grizzly Country.” For being such a sure warning, I’m not sure why they didn’t make the signs bigger. Then the signs gave specific rules on how not to get killed. They said such things as, “If your body has a strong odor, do not hike. If you are carrying food, do not hike. Make lots of noise as you hike so the animals will know you are coming. Report all Grizzly Bears and Mountain Lions you see while on the trail.” Luckily we didn’t see any bears or mountain lions because we would have been dead before we could report seeing them. We did see lots of dear and mountain goats. Beautiful. Sister Morgan, if you’ve never been there, it’s time. Brad and I will come pick you up and take you with us.
Now we’re in Henderson, Nevada, in our little apartment that seems huge because we don’t have enough to fill it. I thought I would cry for days leaving Idaho, but I only cried when I hugged my family goodbye. I’ve driven downtown four times by myself so far. I’ve even changed freeways. And I’ve only gotten really lost once. Talk about true accomplishment. I might even like it here, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions too quickly.
I start work on Monday as a long-term substitute. All that means is that I’m a teacher who writes lesson plans according to the state curriculum, but I don’t get paid a salary. The hope is that by October the district will start hiring again, and I’ll get to keep my spot and get paid like a real human being. The teachers keep scaring me about what it’s like. The big fights are outside of my classroom, so they told me how to best jump in to break up a fight. They even told me how to handle students who are having sex outside of my classroom. I’m not in Rupert anymore…
He sits in the basement with a jar full of pennies and he counts them. He counts them one by one and writes the numbers in a spiral bound notebook while he sits on the floor. He pours them out and ca-plink ca-plinks them back into the jar. I have never seen him get all the way through an entire jar of pennies. I'm not sure what will happen if he does. What will happen if he counts all the pennies? And really the answer is simple. There will be no more pennies to count.
I'm at Jacob Lake selling expensive rugs. I'm better at being a salesman this time around, at least I talk to more people, which is a small, satisfying victory for me. My favorite things to do are watch the Olympics, read (currently Wuthering Heights), and watch birds at fountain near the cabins.
I'm trying to vamp up my scripture study and prayer and soforth--the usuals. It's a good thing, but sometimes I fear I can't sustain the effort, as if I were sprinting, and I wonder if I'm not trying too hard, and there's some principle I'm missing, like, oh, I don't know, the Atonement? Anyone else ever feel like that? Anyone ever heard that DairyMan's Daughter song by Michael McLean?
Michael McLean is possibly my guiltiest musical pleasure, guiltier even than Beyonce and Avril Lavigne (you heard me...but I also like the Beatles and Stevie Wonder, which I think atones for a lot of bad taste). Michael McLean, for those of you not in the know, writes (but does not sing because his voice is terrible) some of the cheesiest Mormon music out there, songs with lines like "When you feel trapped inside a never ending night--Hooooold Ooooon--When you've forgotten how it feels to feel the light--Hooooold Ooooon..." I began to like him on my mission. And this is my argument in favor of Michael McLean: I think he means all of his songs. They're cheesy, I know it, but I think he means it, and I can't help but like him. I don't think that's the case with a lot of the EFY music or Christian rock, but Michael McLean's legit. Sorry Ivor.
I met a fifty-year-old Chinese man from Vancouver in the gift shop today, and we chatted a little (some in Chinese, but not much). He said, "I take my daughter for summer break and see national park." Then tonight I bumped into him and his daughter in the dark in an obscure slot canyon by the Colorado River and we chatted a little more, and I asked him if you can say xiari for sunset, and he said, "It's okay."
It seems like the things familiar to me as a youth have corrupted with time. Dad tells a story about a man in a Cadillac with tinted windows pulling up across the street for a drug deal. News reports blare with stories of another man shot dead today after an argument goes violent—more after these messages from our sponsors. Half-finished McMansions bursting on their small lots sit empty; their dirt lawns cook in the sun because the owners took out a bad loan and lost it all in the mortgage crisis. Even at home, the familiar pillars of my life are cracked and mossy.
“No, someone else may have called but it wasn’t me. I didn’t call you at all when you were gone.” My grandmother was trying to tell me that while my family was on our three-week drive she hadn’t called us at all, which was incorrect because she called over a dozen times every day (except three.) She was sitting in Grandpa’s tattered brown La-Z-Boy recliner. Dark brown washcloths served as makeshift arm-covers for the chair where the fabric had worn thin and stringy. Grandma wore faded navy-blue sweatpants that seemed to veil her thin, bony legs. A dozen wadded up tissues lay on her lap and between her legs. Her head was limp, pointed at her shoulder, and her grey skin seemed to have melted from her face.
“Grandma, you called me no less than eight times in the last three days.” I pulled my phone out and looked at the missed calls list. I thought about showing her how many times she had called me, but then slid it back into my pocket.
“No I didn’t. The only time I talked to your dad he told me to go to sleep.”
“That’s because you called at midnight repeatedly until he woke up and talked to you. He told you to go to bed because you should have been there instead of on the phone.”
“Well, that’s not how I remember it, but I don’t see any point in arguing it.”
I wonder if she knows she’s wrong, or if she just doesn’t want to argue, I thought. She took a hard candy out of her mouth and half-puckered her lips. “It’s not working, my mouth is still too dry.” Grandma placed what was left of the candy onto a white plate among 15 other pieces just like it—small buds of colorful hard candy, some re-wrapped in their clear plastic.
“Have you tried drinking some more water?” I asked. I grabbed her almost empty glass and stood up.
All that remains of the vibrant Grandma who spent my childhood showering me with toys and compliments and who told me she was so proud of me all the time is a shell of a person, a corrupted body of flesh that has stolen another piece of my home forever. I am not home; I’m in LA.
Dan's been helping me refine my technique. Not bad for a first independent attempt using new technique huh?It's been a while since I drew anything, but it feels great to be doing it again.
I feel like I need to fill up this white space right next to the picture. I don't really have anything witty to say, so maybe a couple of sentences of ramble like this is sufficient right?
[No transition] I don't know when I became a horrible pack rat. I keep everything, movie stubs, performance stubs, programs, whatever. As long as there is some kind of memory associated with it, I keep it. Maybe I don't make a conscious thought to keep whatever it is, but months later I'll find something like the "Fiddler on the Roof" ticket stub from three years ago, and then I can't throw it away. Why is that? This even carries over to pictures that I take on my camera. I can't stand to delete anything. I was deleting photos today, trying to make room for my California trip. It really took me 20 minutes to psyche myself up to delete things. Be ruthless. Just click on those pictures and hit DELETE. It's not that hard. But it was. I contemplated buying a new SD card for my camera just so I didn't have to do it.
I didn't though. The pack rat lost this time, and I rambled enough to make this post not look so lonely in white space.
OK. Yes, my heart hurts over Tibet (it has for a long time), and yes, I'm aware that a family member of our Volley Ball coach was murdered by a Chinese man on Saturday (who immediately committed suicide),and of other sundry events taking place as I write, but I'm still in awe over the opening Olympic Ceremonies.
Can we argue that some of the money spent should have gone to other causes? Yes. Of course. Is it strange to see Pres. Bush playing volleyball in Beijing while Russia blows Georgia off the map? Yes (no more words on that issue). But, I feel sorry for any who missed the opening ceremonies (except for EmPo and Bradly, who had a very good excuse). What an amazing event!
Zhang Yimou (director of HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, etc.) gets most of the credit. Maybe later, he will regret aligning himself with China's official authoritarian state identity, since he's been at odds with China's leaders most of his life, but he is an incredible Chinese Artist--maybe "he" will be the future China, as he tries to move his homeland out from under Mao's shadow; or, maybe he's selling out his old beliefs for fame and money--but, right now I don't care, because he gave those who saw it an amazing gift of art, theology, harmony, vision, and pure beauty. I heard two newscasters today, who have covered over 25 opening ceremonies between them, say they have never seen anything like it, not only in the Olympics, but also in any art form, ever; nor did they expect to see such an event again in their lifetimes. One said, "There are no words for it."
Today, I got addicted, forgot about politics, watched volleyball, swimming, and cycling--yuk--but I loved it all--even found myself routing for Lithuania's long-haired Samoilovs against US almost-seven-foot giant, who should have won, but didn't. And good for Spain for winning the cyclist race, which was painful to watch because of the tortuous route. The point? The celebration of the physical human body is the center of the Olympic Games. My body hurts all the time now, but I remember how it feels to be healthy (though none of us reaches the training heights of Olympians. Hardly). I love this celebration, no matter where it's held, but, there's no doubt that Zhang Yimou artistic portrayal will be hard to beat--ever. If you missed it, try to pull up some news coverage--but not from YouTube--don't wade through the hate mongers; go to a reputable news source for some re-runs--if you can find one, that is.
I keep thinking that I'm living a bad dream too. But I don't want to feel this way, so I implemented our deal. I found one thing that I like about this place. I know that I'm supposed to have two more--I'm working on it.
I like all of the culture. Asian people, black people, chinese people--it's all here, and it's great. I'll keep looking.
We're getting the internet on August 12th and I'm looking forward to it. Did we do the right thing? Julie, you're much more brave than I am.
How is everyone doing? Where is everyone for the seven week break? I guess now it's about 6 or 5 weeks, but don't shoot me for reminding you how quickly it's flying by. Oh yeah, I forgot. I'm too far for any of you to shoot me even if you wanted to. I guess there is a perk to being on the opposite side of the country.
Anona, contratulations on the baby! EmPo, you are such a beautiful bride and I'm happy for you.
Once we get the internet, I'll describe our trip on our blog. By the way, it is www.travnjam.blogspot.com so you can come and visit. For a short version, though, I'll just say that now I know how to change a fuel filter, a fuel pump, and to report an accident on my insurance (not my fault. Someone backed in to me). That's all for now though.