I work for idiots.

I often read over memos and notes written by my immediate supervisor. Today I came across the phrase "I all so incourage him to see a dr." It took me a little while to figure out she meant "I also encouraged him to see a doctor."

Other mistakes she makes frequently: sense instead of since and tell instead of till or until.

Do you think I could get fired for making a running list of her errors? I hope not, since I've already dedicated a post-it pad inside my desk to just such a list.


If I had known my post would inspire insect and reptile horror stories, I would have kept my mouth shut. Just reading about bees and snakes makes me squirm at every tickle on my skin. Rather than continue the theme by telling one of my two really scary giant cockroch stories, I will gradually change the subject by telling a silly amphibian one.

One night in Florida, Hermana Nipper, my mission companion, woke me up screaming, "There's a frog on my face!" It was pitch black in our room, and my first thought was to wonder how she decided it was a frog without being able to see it. It was 3 a.m.. I gathered all the sympathy I could, turned on the light, and looked around. No frog. I gave her a groggy hug, patting her back and telling her it would be okay and to go back to sleep. That's when a little dark smudge near the ceiling moved. I squinted. It was a frog. I still have no idea how she knew what it was. My first thoughts would have been spider or lizard. Sis. Nipper grabbed a giant cup from the kitchen and we caught the miscreant responsible for waking me up. The cup was one of those big clear Coke cups with a switch that turned on colorful flashing lights, and I remember giving that poor frog a disco party in the cup before we took it outside. The next weird thing that night was just as we were taking it to the front door, I saw a lizard hanging on the blinds of the front window. Seriously? Two amphibians determined to keep us up all night? He took a little longer to catch, but we eventually got them both out the door and went back to bed. What a night.


"I'm Alive and Well" or Reptiles, Bats, and the Atonement

Aha ha. I had a similar experience when I creamed a small snake with spider spray, then whisked him out the door with a broom. He had the nerve to slide sideways into my house when I opened the door one night, and, hey, I'm paying the mortgage here—not him.
However, after I realized I had NOT had a heart attack, but had calmly (OK, “calmly” may not be the right word) walked to the kitchen to get any deadly poison I could find, I, like you, Matt, started to feel sorry for this snake. Though it was a fleeting tinge of a feeling,  I even stopped spraying him as I watched him squirm frantically away, but, then, he turned and slithered sideways toward me—probably because he was blinded by toxic chemicals—and I saw it as a direct attack. That ends story of one very dead snake.
Since then I've decided to choose my fear--or rather not to choose it because it’s such a waste of time and energy. I remember I did this when I went sky diving for the first time. I refused to let the fear rise up. It was an amazing thing (did I just use the word "thing"?) to realize I had that much control. Though my rabid fear of snakes has seemed out of my control, somehow I've finally perceived that snakes are usually crawling AWAY from me (though I still reserve all rights to smash any who turn to slither my way). I've decided to save my fear for bigger things--like tarantulas or bats.
Seriously, though, I love your thesis about how uncomfortable giving up even false beliefs and fears can be and how just contemplating the idea can seem like too much risk to one's personal mental health. (This is why I have not had much hope for Obama from the beginning. Our nation is still too infantile. Yes, my patriotism was fanned into fire as I watched us elect him. Geez, after what I saw in the late 50's, 60's, 70's, I was ecstatic to see such a miracle. But, I knew he'd be hit with hand grenades from all sides. He looks like a deer in headlights. However, I’ll reserve judgment until we know more.)
 But, on a personal level, I fear going numb—like one of Pavlov’s rats that gets shocked so many times she stops moving out of the way? What is that? What is going numb? It’s not letting any little feeling surface because if one tiny feeling gets though the concrete, others may come until there’s a whole wash of them, a flood that may drown us because the painful ones may be more agonizing than any we’ve yet known, and the sorrow we’ve already known was almost unbearable. I’m afraid of fear and how it can turn us inward to live in such a small suffocating world. So, sometimes, to choose faith instead of fear means reframing my day from the very beginning—not just once a week or yearly, but every single day, sometimes every hour. And without the Atonement to oil this process, to soothe this rocky struggle, I wouldn’t last 30 seconds. I would turn my back on the future and stop moving. Like the Wife of Lot, I’d turn into salt because I looked backward instead of having faith in the Lord to shape a good future. He does have that kind of power. He does want our happiness. He does have a stake in our lives turning out well. And He IS very powerful and kind. 
Today, I'm "alive and well. And that's good enough for me."
Did you know that Tarantulas can spin silk with their feet?
Ha. I just heard a country song lyric that says “Heaven help the fool who gets it wrong.”


Bumblebee homicide.

A few days ago, my roommate left the bathroom window open to air out the steam—our bathroom doesn’t have a fan and this is the best we have. Sometime after he left for work or whatever, I got in the shower. A few seconds after the water started running, an inch-and-a-half long bumblebee flew up towards my face. I jumped out of the shower, dripping and not sure what to do. After a few moments of standing naked and wet in my bathroom, I realized I should dry off and get dressed.

The bumblebee must have come in through the open window. I remembered the first apartment I lived in as a missionary, when the hornets that would come in through our bathroom window, and I remembered how my companion and I took care of them when we found them in our bathroom. I looked around to see if we had any pump hairspray or flammable aerosol liquid for a makeshift flamethrower. I checked the house next door to see if any of the girls had some (they weren’t home), then went back to my house. I looked underneath the sink and pulled out every bottle I found. I took my lighter and tested the Febreeze; it only put out the lighter, and the liquid didn’t catch on fire. A disinfectant spray flared up when sprayed over the lighter’s flame.

You know that scene from Ridley Scott’s Alien where Ridley finds the alien nest on the under part of the ship and splays her dying crewman with a flamethrower, delivering a coup-de-grace? That’s what I did with the bee. Its wet wings prevented it from flying, and it cowered behind two shampoo bottles in the corner while it buzzed in vain. There’s a sick satisfaction that comes from killing an insect with a flamethrower, especially one that can sting you. When I was finished, I saw that one of the shampoo bottles had partially melted during the frenzy. I didn’t stop spraying until the bee was a charred, black distortion of its former self. I left its body there for someone else to clean up.

I felt bad afterwards. That bee didn’t know that the only creatures I’m afraid of are flying, stinging insects. It didn’t know about the bee that stung my cheek when I was in third grade—how I cried my way to the nurse’s office, and how the nurse said, “Wait, hot water?” when she called my mom to see what she should do but find out that she’d used the wrong water temperature for my wound. That bumblebee in the shower didn’t mean be so big and fly towards my face when I was naked, relaxed, and most vulnerable. It didn’t know that I’m particularly afraid of insects that can sting multiple times—wasps, especially, because they look the meanest—because it might, what, hurt if I get stung more than once?

My fear of bees and wasps and yellow jackets and other stinging insects is completely irrational. I don’t know what it’s really like to be stung. I’ve never really thought about why I jump off ladders when I see hornets or bumblebees and run for the “Wasp & Hornet Killer—Fast Knockdown!” spray, holding onto the can like it’s some amulet of protection. When people ask, I explain that I don’t know if I’m allergic and that I might die if stung, but I’ve never imagined what a sting would be like. Would it itch or hurt? How long? Would it just be annoying? I don’t know because I don’t really remember what it’s like to be stung, and when I try to imagine it, it doesn’t seem so bad. Yet I’m irrationally afraid of it.

But I’m not willing to find out what it’s like to be stung. I don’t even want to take thirty seconds to do a Google search because I’m afraid of what I might find. It might not be as bad as I think, what I imagine as some abstract worst-pain-ever that I sometimes pretend results in paralysis, but I’m sure to find horror stories which would support my ignorant ideas and irrational fears. I mean, if I’m right, then everyone should run in fear when they see a wasp less than twenty feet away. But if I’m wrong, it means that whatever I’ve believed in the past must be abandoned and that I have to act in ways that are consistent with my new beliefs, even if those actions are uncomfortable. This would mean that when I’m standing on a ladder while I trim hedges and a bee quietly hums nearby, I would have to continue working as usual instead of what I do now: freeze until the bee goes away, and then run to the nearest can of that insect death spray. One time I tried being brave while a yellow jacket flew near me, and found myself still shrinking away from it until it flew away. So I willfully stay ignorant, irrational, because I don’t want act brave.

Maybe’s it’s the fear of acting differently that drives me to stay wrapped tightly in my blanket of ignorance, fear that I’d have to change my ideas and worldview to something else, fear that I’d have to wander in the dark for an unspecified period of time until I found what was actually true, fear that I’d be uncomfortable until I got used to my new way of living. Maybe that’s what propels those people who continue to say that our black president will destroy our country when to me, it looks like things are going pretty well, or at least about the same.

A few days after the shower experience, I imagined the bumblebee’s family wondering why Dad didn’t come home from work on Thursday. Mrs. Bumblebee goes to the insect police station, infant in her arms and towing a toddler behind her, to file a missing person report. I imagined the rose bush where Mr. John Bumblebee used to gather pollen and the questions his co-workers would ask each other. “You heard anything about John?” the honeybee would ask the butterfly while they pollinated.

“Nah, I ain’t heard nothing,” the monarch would reply. “But a yellow jacket says John’s drinking got the best of ‘im and that he’s probably in a ditch somewhere.”

“One of the other worker drones says that she heard he went off with a young bumblebee to Mexico,” the honeybee would say. Throughout the day, they trade stories and theories with other insects. Some say it was the drinking, some trade stories about a secret lover, some suspect foul play, and one guy suggests it could be that John Bumblebee just couldn’t handle the pressures of life.

But his wife will never know what really happened, that John Bumblebee’s corpse is in my shower behind a partially melted bottle of shampoo. She’ll never know that he died because I’m unwilling to squelch my ignorance of stinging insects, to have the courage to possibly be wrong or right and learn what would really happen in a sting. And that’s why a bumblebee which used to fluffy with yellow marking is now all black and twisted sitting on that ledge. For all I know, there his body still sits, a horrible token of irrational fear, extreme violence, and consequent death. 


Amen. We Need to Share Our Writing More.

I know people may be tired of me saying, “Hey, I have a motorcycle,” but it was a big step in my life. Pretty much my whole life I have always wanted to do things; then, I research those things; then, I make plans to do those things; then, I tell everyone that I am going to do those things; then, I never do.

I was going to learn to play the piano. I was going to learn Tagalog. I was going to go skydiving. I was going to run a marathon. I was going to live in France. I was going to lose forty-five pounds.

I have always wanted a motorcycle.

On the first nice, semi-warm day of March, I walked past Porter Park to my French 101 class. I thought to myself that this weather would be perfect for riding a motorcycle. I decided right then that I was going to buy one. By the time that I walked past the stadium, I realized that I probably wouldn’t buy one because it is the constant theme of my life to think about doing something, and then not do it. When I walked out of the doors of the Snow and saw the Spori, I decided that I would buy one, but I wouldn’t tell anybody.Two weeks later I arranged the funds, called Don in Ogden, UT, and then arranged to pick-up the 1985 Honda Shadow. I only told two people that I was buying it. I borrowed Suzie’s Saturn Vue and rented a u-haul trailer to go pick it up.

It didn’t really occur to me that it was actually happening until I went to the Madison County DMV to take the driving test and motorcycle test. I forfeited my Maryland license to get my motorcycle learner’s permit.

When my co-worker, Dallin, was teaching me to ride, I fell off only once. I kept practicing, which is something that I rarely do. For the first two weeks of owing it, I laid in bed at night wishing I hadn’t purchased it. It wasn’t buyer’s remorse; I don’t think. I was afraid of following through with learning to ride it well enough to not look like a fool. I even made plans to sell it, but I didn’t tell anyone.

I still have it though, and I love it.


I agree with Meghan

Although I also have no room to talk. I've been trying to write something to post on here for at least a month, but I have too many thoughts--I want to post the best one. This past month I've written essays on my dad, my broken fingers, my grad school experience, my feelings on being unemployed, my confusion over past relationships, my thoughts on marriage and future family life, the pieces of myself I've discovered through the years, the guilt I feel over not keeping in touch with friends, the tears I've shed over my little brother, the dreams I've had lately, the hours I've spent at the Provo Library, and the books I browsed on Amazon today. Yep. At least my journal is full. But for quite some time I've simply missed all of you, no matter what my essays were about.

13 Posts?

Okay, 13 posts this year? Come on. I'm but not one to talk, since this is probably my third post ever, but what's happening? Last year there were 93. The year before that there were 208. Before that there were 67. So we're halfway through the year and we've got 13? Is something wrong? We're the Writing Center. Start writing! Either that or you must be dang busy at the Center this semester.

Where is everyone?

I was looking forward to getting on and reading everyone's new posts. So where are they?

It's me, Meghan. I hate having to try and piece together details from a post to figure out who wrote it. I've thought about the WC last night while reading a talk by Elder Bednar in this month's Ensign. It's called "Things as They Really Are." It's a warning about getting so involved in facebook, texting, computer games, and blogging (Is that why you all stopped writing on here?) that you miss out on reality. He says, "Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed...you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication." I thought of the Writing Center. He would like what he saw there.

The first parties each semester are some of my favorite memories because of the incredible spirit of friendship and trust I felt there. I remember crying with Shannon at her first "party" and how satisfying it was to get home that night and feel so connected. I'd never shared that feeling with anyone before after leaving Sis. Morgan's house. There is some wall between me and nearly every other person I know that limits us...masks we wear. Somehow, Sister Morgan made it okay to take them off for awhile. I envy those of you who married someone who worked at the Center. I often wish Jason could feel what I've felt there. It's hard for me to explain it to him, so I'm glad you've all felt it too and understand me. I think that's what it is. We understand each other. We went beyond chitchat and really talked to each other on those nights at Sister Morgan's house and during so many seminars. Man, I want more of that.