A Dilemma (di - two; lemma - proposition)

This past December my mom asked me, as I gushed about a snake documentary I got for Christmas, "Why don't you go into something with critters? Zoology, or something?"

"I don't think scientists actually get to do much field work," I replied, "and I don't think I'd like lab work. And I don't think they get paid much. And even if it was cool, I think they have to leave their families for months at a time to do fieldwork, and I don't want to do that."

 "Well, okay..."

 I began giving the same speech to my boss the other day (it was not the first time we'd had the discussion) and she cut me off, saying, "you have an excuse for everything." I replied, "no, not for being a doctor. Becoming a doctor makes sense." And becoming a doctor does make sense for me. As a doctor I would do something concrete, I would be fulfilling a fundamental need. I would be serving people directly, and I could see the results of my work. I would make a lot of money. I would feel prestigious, like I had accomplished something with my career. If the economy tanked, I would be safe because people always need doctors. And if the nation collapsed into anarchy, I would have a usable skill (I don't know what HR guys or English professors will do if the nation collapses into anarchy).

 But it doesn't light me up. I do not have a native interest in the intricacies of the body. Take my skeleton, for example; these are the things I know about my skeleton: I have a cranium and a spine. There's a femur in my leg (the long bone on top?). I contain a metatarsal; however, I don't know where it is or what it looks like. I am not itching to know. I've never picked up an anatomy book because I just really wanted to learn more.

 Zoology doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I mean, I don't really care much for cell-structures and ATP and genetics. I'm a people person, and I think zoologists, by definition spend little time with humans. I can't really think of anything useful that zoology does. (Ornithologists are considering splitting a single species of sparrow into three really similar but different species of sparrow. That is semantic, esoteric, and I can't see how it will improve anybody's life, not even the sparrows.) Along that line, I think I veer away from science because it can study the body of life while ignoring the spirit (the humanities can do the opposite). Zoology jobs aren't in high demand right now, and zoology professors certainly aren't at the top of the university payroll. And I don't think they're as immune to anarchic upheaval as doctors are.

 But animals sure do light me up. I love watching nature documentaries; David Attenborough is my Michael Jordan. Learning about nature pleases me. Without looking anything up I can tell you that a certain species of snake has a down-pointing spur near the front of its spine specially suited to cracking eggs, that a velvet ant is really the wingless female of a certain species of wasp, that vinegaroons receive their name from the acrid odor they emit when threatened,  that scarlet macaws hail exclusively from Puerto Rico, that buckbrush can be identified by the pungent smell released when crushed in your hand, that the best way to carry a snapping turtle is not (regardless of what the field guide says) by its tail, that lack of teeth does not a painless bite make, that tiny whip-scorpions live beneath the flaky bark of the sycamores near my home, that "edible" plants don't necessarily taste good,  that even when you have a good grip on them, some snakes can dislocate their jaw and sink at least one fang into your hand.               


How my view of myself changed forever in a single day and will be that way for the rest of my life.

My life and identity changed forever today.

I approached the desk at the ophthalmologist’s office. Lots of big windows with slate colored light flowing into the large, mostly empty room. The lady I spoke to had dyed black hair, almond skin, and a shiny gold necklace lying on top of her black turtleneck. No eyeglasses, though.

“I need to have this eyeglass prescription filled, please.”

“Okay. Are you a patient with us?”

“Yes, I had an eye exam yesterday with Dr. Hatch.”

“Okay, go ahead and pick out your frames.”

“Actually, I already did that yesterday. I just had to talk to mom and dad about money.”

“Oh, okay. Go ahead and grab the frames you like and we’ll see if we have the lenses in.”

“Alright.” I turned around to the glowing display wall and found the black full-rimmed glasses with red stripes I’d liked yesterday. They were $40 less online, but the wait was several weeks, and my eyes were constantly sore from focusing too hard. I tried them on again (My neck looks fat with these on, I thought,) and brought them to the counter. “Here they are.”

“Okay, let me go see if we have the lenses.” While she walked behind a cabinet of manila folders and files, I looked around the office. Just like at Wal-Mart this morning, they had signs indicating Men’s and Women’s sections above the displays of frames. I’d wandered cluelessly around the glasses the day before until the overly-nice twentysomething secretary came over to help me figure out which glasses weren’t wussy.

The lady walked back to the front. “Okay, yes, we have them in. It should be about ten or fifteen minutes.”

“Wow, alright. Can I leave and come back?”

“Yeah, that’s fine.”

After eating my McBreakfast, I strolled back through the glass double doors and waited around in the waiting area. Over 25 minutes had passed. I didn’t see the lady from before. After waiting another ten minutes, I finally approached the desk and another secretary handed me my glasses wrapped in crème colored cleaning cloth; they looked like an eyeglass burrito.

The first thing I thought when I tried them on was, “Crud, this actually works.” The fine details I used to always see are back; everything is so crisp and clean, with a sharp “pop” to it. I actually do need glasses.

Fashion wise, I’ll need to cut my sideburns shorter so I don’t look like one of the Lone Gunmen. Also, I think they make my neck look fat, but that means I need to keep jogging. The gooey peripheral distortion when I move is uncomfortable, so I don’t think I’ll wear them while walking. Reading is nice, though, and feels good. Less eye strain.

In a daydream, I imagined myself visiting my sister at BYU when she starts there in the fall. I pulled my glasses out of a backpack and knew Kris would make fun. She made fun of my sideburns last weekend when I visited home, so naturally she’d make fun of this.

Suddenly, out of the daydream, I realized that I’d have to take my glasses with me on all of my trips. Every quick weekend away would require my glasses. I’d need them for every flight home or even staying at a friend’s place overnight. There’s no going back to pre-glasses, I thought. For the rest of my life, I will need glasses.

I have joined the glasses club. Old Navy and its spring lineup wouldn’t let me join the cardigan club, so this will have to do for ironic-nerd style.


Within The Walls

Note: Remember how I taught the "Blood Essay" to my sophomores? Well, it went so well that I decided to teach it to my honors juniors/seniors class. Before they began writing them, we talked about trusting each other, and I decided that if they were going to trust me enough to let me read their essays, I should trust them enough with one of my own. Hence, the essay below. I changed the church lingo for them.

Within the walls of my home, my world is perfect. Every night, Brad and I come home to our clean, cozy apartment with pictures and homemade quilts in every room. We burn apple-scented candles and sit in our lamp-lit dining room and eat our dinner, made from scratch, together. We play darts in the spare bedroom on the dartboard that hides behind our American flag. We read together every night before he lays in bed with me until I fall asleep. Then he goes into the other room until he finally gets tired a few hours later.

Sometimes, when we’re both busy, Brad sits on the squeaky couch with me, and we work separately, but together, on our laptops.

In the cool evenings, we put on our gray sweats with our matching man slippers and snuggle as we tell each other about our day.

Inside my apartment, life could not be more magical.

But outside of these walls, something happens. I change. I’m different. And I long to be in my apartment where I’m safe. Where I’m loved.

I used to have friends. I was maid of honor for four different girls because I was each girl’s best friend. Truthfully, none of the girls was my best friend, but I felt obligated to call each by that title because I knew they called me “best friend.”

During college once, I went on 11 dates in 14 days with different guys each time. Then, it was normal for me to go out for a lunch date and dinner date most days. Once, I got asked out on a date six weeks in advance because the guy wanted to make sure I was available.

But now, in Vegas, I have no friends. Thankfully I have Brad. He’s the only one. If I moved today, no one would know. It would leave no void in anyone’s lives here in Vegas because no one knows I exist.

I tried to make friends when I first moved here. During my first week of Relief Society, I walked in with confidence. I was on top of the world: one week prior, I married the greatest man alive; I was wearing a new outfit; I had a nice summer tan; I was confident in my skin. From a distance, I saw several girls sitting together. They were about my same age. Instant friends, I was sure. I could hear them giggling and calling to each other: Come sit by us! Oh, you’re so cute! Friendly girls, I could tell. I’d fit right in. But as I approached, they quickly silenced themselves, shoved their purses on the empty seats near them, and looked forward so their eyes wouldn’t meet mine.

 I sat by myself.


No one spoke to me.

They still haven’t spoken to me six months later. For several weeks, I tried smiling at them in the halls, tried making small talk, tried. And now I don’t try anymore because for several weeks, their eyes dodged mine, their small talk was fake, and it was clear that they didn’t care about me.

I’m no longer confident in my skin. I hide behind Brad like a shy child hides behind his mother. I dread going places alone. I dread knowing that I used to be someone, knowing that now, I’m a mere shadow. A ghost, even. I dread knowing that I might be here for more than a year, and my confidence outside of my home will atrophy even more.

I don’t need friends to hang out with every night or call every day. I have that with Brad. All I want is someone to notice me. Someone to speak to me. Someone to let me know I’m still visible. I want to be the same comfortable girl outside of my home that I am inside of my home.



Just thought I'd officially announce....

That I got my mission call.

I'll be serving in the Puerto Rico San Juan West Mission, Spanish speaking.


Birds on a Saturday

I love waking up to the chattering of Birds on a Saturday morning. Their songs let me believe Spring is here. Without looking out my window, I see the sun shining on each blade of dark green grass, casting spiky shadows on the heated sidewalk. I hear a plane fly over head, and see its tiny frame surging in the cloudless sky, leaving a string of puffy white behind it.

Then I hear some loud commercial downstairs and wonder why my grandparents are watching TV instead of enjoying the weather outside.

I then relapse into the present, realizing with a certain sadness that snow is everywhere. Icicles are clinging to rooftops and hanging under the frames of cars. The sun is hidden by a dull white—there’s a lifeless mist everywhere, matching the ground, stretching over the whole town. I don’t know if it’s the sky or clouds. But I can’t see the sun.

So I listen to the Birds, and they give me hope for Spring.


Apostrophe Catastrophe

While flipping through the Scroll, I saw an article with the headline "Apostrophe Catastrophe." I'd just taught about possessive nouns to my third graders, and I thought I might be able to share it with them. (Besides, I can't resist hearing about mistakes in published writing.) The article said Birmingham, London officials recently banned apostrophes from all street signs because they're "confusing and old-fashioned." Of course there are two sides to every battle, but the people they chose to represent each side made me gag. Maybe it's just the debate that makes me gag.

Side A:
Remove those comma things.

"Apostrophes denote possessions that are no longer accurate, and are not needed," Mullaney said. "More importantly, they confuse people. If I want to go to a restaurant, I don't want to have an A-level (high school diploma) in English to find it."

Side B: But apostrophes enrich the English language.

"They are such sweet-looking things that play a crucial role in the English language," said Marie Clair of the Plain English Society, which campaigns for the use of simple English. "It's always worth taking the effort to understand them, instead of ignoring them."

Now, if I had to defend apostrophe usage against people who complain of having to have a high school diploma to find their way to McDonald's, I would not choose "they are such sweet-looking things" as my main argument.


Good Movie Alert!

I just watched The Secret Life of Bees and can I just recommend it to everyone? Good, because I am.  Now, I haven't read the book, and I'm sure that there are some of you "book readers" that are going to sass me with a "the book was SO much better," in a nasally voice, but I say get the hence and see the movie.  I'm moving to the South anyways.  Chan is coming with me, so we'll have Ivor forward our letters.



I actually thought about attending this thing. Then I saw this ad and thought, "Heh."