Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

My parents were in town this weekend. They came for all sorts of family stuff, but they also used it as an excuse to bring me my stuff. I left Minnesota with as much as would possibly fit in my Taurus (which is a lot), and I also left a pile of items in my old room, for the next time someone was making a trip out here. But what they brought was so much more. I took a picture, but the mess was too embarrassing for me to post here. Really, it was a lot of stuff. And as I have been unpacking it, I have had a fabulous walk down memory lane. Here are a few things they brought me:

  • A paper I wrote on Genomic Analysis, U of MN, 1993, including phrases like "electrophoresis of the charged palindromic sequences of DNA" and "proving species variance directly correlating with distance between lakes of origin"

  • An album of photos I took of little sister Emma, 14 months old. I was 12, and obsessed with making sure her outfits matched perfectly

  • A Macmillan English first grade reader and workbook, half completed

  • A homemade cabbage patch doll, from the Christmas that my dad was unemployed. My mom spent much of that holiday season in her sewing room.

  • A wooden doll from Japan, my dad went when I was 7

  • A bin of blankets, none of which belong to me, all of which smell of mothballs

  • A box of knick-knacks I have never seen before including: a yarn doll, a hideous pink ceramic heart, and a wooden toll painted necklace strung on a blue ribbon, and much much more

  • A box of mugs, only one that I recognize, the rest have either cheesy winter scenes or looney tunes characters on them (including the Tasmanian devil, so I know they weren't mine.... Amy.)

  • A file box of notes from former students

  • No fewer than 12 boxes of books

  • a bookshelf that holds 3 boxes of books

  • A box of props and costumes from shows I have done including: dress from Music Man, lei and coke bottle from South Pacific, Magic Wand from Wizard of OZ (I was Glinda!), scroll from Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe, peasant costume from The Mouse that Roared, flowers from Brigadoon, knitting from The Tears of my Sister, script from The Happy Journey to Camden and Trenton, my "lucky" owl necklace from the year I went to state in speech, earrings and cigar from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever

  • 2 boxes of music books

  • Portfolio of drawings from Angsty teenage years through cheesy BYU years

  • A Precious Moments journal from my freshman year (high school) including confessions of undying love for boys whose names I no longer recognize

  • 1 box of baby clothes (mine) including the "Mommy's Angel" dress and a "#1 daughter" onesie. Proof positive that I was the favorite daughter for at least the first 6 months of my life.

  • A lampshade

  • Box of crystal stemware packed in an odd assortment of dishtowels. I needed some dishtowels.

  • Cookie jar (empty, I checked)

  • A file of Papers I wrote at BYU and one fairly impressive Sacrament Meeting talk entitled "Faith in Love"

  • Pancake Griddle
  • Yearbooks, all of them.

  • My "rejection" file, of rejection letters and grad program attemps, along with jury pages and audition sheets from failed attempts. I really was trying to leave that bit of my life behind.
  • Silver American Ballroom Standard Pin and certificate
  • A Troll Doll, dressed in pink lace and a tin foil crown, in an attempt to replicate my Glinda Costume. This was surely a great treasure from the time when troll dolls were "cute"
  • A bin of Scrapbooking supplies and Mission memories, clearly assembled when I had an intention of scrapbooking my mission.
  • Every toy or Stuffed animal I ever owned, including a set of kittens made out of rabbit fur that used to be my mom's, a doll I called "Tommy" that cried when you pulled the string on it's back, "Baby Beans" (we were as inseparable as Red Blankie and myself) and various Strawberry Shortcake Paraphernalia
  • An unfinished Toll Painting project involving teddy bears and peppermint swirls
  • one box of various useless paraphernalia from my Young Women's experience, including all of the paperwork (completed) for the YW recognition award that I never received

  • 8 more boxes and 2 suitcases that I haven't yet opened. (should I keep you updated?)

The list goes on, but I think you get the picture. I have officially been moved out. Past the point of no return, as it were. I now have less stuff at my parent's house than my married with 4-7 children siblings do. In fact, I am pretty sure, I have some of their stuff at my place now. So here goes a call to them: If you desperately want your WST t-shirts, your blankets, or to explore memory lane for a while, my door is open. But I will force you to take a box of it with you.

The interesting thing about a walk down memory lane, inspired by unwanted junk, is that you don't get to choose the memories. Generally when we stroll through our minds, we do quite a good job at editing. Sure there are still unpleasantries, but they are kept at bay, and the worst of them are suppressed. But when you open any box from your parent's storage space, beware the ensuing hours of discovery! The pathos is overwhelming. You could discover that you have been, at various points in your life, both more pathetic and more remarkable than your memory allows you. You could come to the terrible realization that you were, in fact, just as silly at 14 as the fourteen yr old you see at the mall. You could be faced with a wash of memories that you finally have the experience to comprehend, and in that moment, you will realize that you surmounted formidable mountains, with more than mere survival, with grace. You may even find that you have outgrown a few of those skeletons in your closet, and where a few years ago they seemed to fill the room, now it is a simple thing to sweep them away. Your heart might ache a little for the person you were, once upon a time, but the void will quickly be filled with rejoicing for the path that you have been privileged to walk.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Naked Mole Rats and Hot Wheels

Before I even get into this, I thought I should share with you a photo of our bathroom. The one for my classroom, not my house. This bothers me for a number of reasons. First, the obvious, community feeling of the whole thing. Second, the fact that for some reason everyone here is OK with the mixed gender of it all. That's right, boys and girls making waste in the same undivided facility. Maybe I should be more liberal, but when it comes to potty time, we should maintain the gender apatheid. They all sit there and discuss their various waste processes, and I think it should stop. How can I teach them that bathroom humor during meals is inappropriate when their bathroom experience is a public one? Third, the smell. need I clarify that one? Fourth, picture this: Three little boys, standing in a row, bared butts to the world, chatting and swinging their bodies around to talk to their friends. I really struggle with this set up.
On to the meat of this. I am in my classroom now, we are settling into our school routine, and I need to share a little of that life with you all. Of anyone on the planet, a four-year-old will come up with the most brilliant one-liners you have ever heard. and I have collected some of my favorites from the past year or so. Here are the things I hear on a day to day basis:
-Dr Seuss? He's MY doctor!
-Oh my gosh, my boyfriend totally loves hot wheels
-I live in Africa, there's naked mole rates all over the place!
-That was DEEEEL-yummy!
-You don't have a baby sister? That's ok, ask your mom and dad, they can make one for you.
-Mr. Dan, you stink.
-Hey, Mister Nancy?....
-Ariel's bra broke, so we had to throw it away
-Can I bring some germs to school? At my dad's work they grow on a plate.
- I always get cold after I pee.
- I love Star Wars! I am going to be Tard Spader for Halloween
-You don't have to go to work anymore, because you are expired.
-Teacher: "how did Michelangelo paint the ceiling?" Student:"He had rocket boots!"
-Child 1:"I am going to marry my daddy"
Child 2: "You can't marry your daddy, he's already married to your mommy"
Child 1: "People get divorced"
Child 2: "God says you will go to Hell if you get divorced"
Ahhh, wisdom from a 4yr old. although to be fair, I have included one of my own gems of wisdom from my childhood. Can you guess which one came from me?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Count Your Many Blessings

*this post is a little more serious and introspective than usual, and I thought it would only be right to warn you of that.

My Stake President in Minnesota was one of the most fantastic church leaders I have ever had the opportunity to get to know. I hung out with his daughter a little at BYU, and then when I moved back to Minnesota, I was invited on a Nauvoo road trip with the singles. I got to hang out with President Payne and his wife, and President Kerr and his wife during the 7 hour bus ride there and back, and we all laughed pretty hard the whole way. It's amazing how laughing with someone can create a relationship of love and respect as quickly as mourning with them. It's the in-between relationships that I struggle with. For some reason, when I know that someone can laugh at the same things as me, I find it easier to trust them with the real me.

(Tangent, again.)

So about my stake president. We became friends. He came to teach my seminary class one morning, and it was a wonderful experience, he called me and asked to interview me just to see how I was doing, which was a much needed experience, and every time I spoke with him, he took an extra 45 seconds to smile, ask me how I really was, and offer me some extra love and support. I generally don't ask for help, especially from busy church leaders, (I pride myself on being the kind of Mormon that the Bishop doesn't have to worry about. Sort of an ironic twisted kind of pride, I know.) But with him I never had to ask for help, nor did I even have to accept it, as there was no question in offering it. This all came at a point of deep emotional struggle in my life, and I am big time grateful for it.

Well, last May he invited the stake to keep a daily gratitude journal, and so of course I followed his counsel. It's always easier to follow the counsel of a leader who is also your friend. We are four months in, and I am no longer a member of his stake, but we are supposed to send him a copy before the next conference and I still think I will do that. As I was perusing my list, I felt like in a note of seriousness, I should post it here. Again, I don't want to breech too much that is personal, so I may skip some days.

Things I am Grateful For

May 18- Every talk at that conference was written for me.
19- The spirit of the conference stayed with me today
20- I had a great opportunity to serve. (wish I had been more specific there!)
21- My mom.
22- my job
23- Hannah Hinckley
24- Music
25- Seth blowing kisses to me
26- Jim
27- Keys to the Chapel, and practice time
28- My health
29- Co-workers that care
30- Late night Movies
31- Jeanine, the best voice teacher in the world

June1- My dad

2- Personal revelation

3- Temple
4- Scripture Mastery verses
6- Sleeping in
7- Tamara Clifford, the most remarkable seminary teacher in the world
8- The entire Seminary class, the most remarkable high schoolers in the world
9- Emma
10- Nathan
12- Sam
13- Tim (My nieces and nephews are better therapy for me than anything else)
14- Madi and Amber, two of the seminary kids that are particularly remarkable
15- France Paris, 1998-2000
16- Friendship with my co-workers, particularly Heather
17- President Payne
18- Organ books from Jim (well, and Jim)
19- Things in general. As in concrete stuff. I have all the things I really need
20- Neal A Maxwell. I could read and re-read his talks forever
21- A Computer
22- great talk, spirit and training (that is what I wrote, and I have no idea what it means, but I was grateful for it...)

23- (one of my preschool students, whose name I won't put here, but she was particularly special to me)
24- The Hinckley Family, my Apple Valley Sanity

25- Music. Again.
26- Financial Security
27- My parents
28- Everyday Comforts
29- Organ Shoes. (I managed that bass line, finally)
30- Jeanine, again, both because she is a most amazing teacher, but also because she is my friend.

July 1- Grandma and Grandpa Burnham

2- Ann Marie
3- the few extra dollars for a Cold Stone
4- The Apple Valley Ward
5- My Visiting Teachers
6- All the tiny babies in my family. (I’m still a girl)
7- The opportunity to transfer with my job
8- Tracy and Maggie
9- Brook
10- The LaFonda's Crowd (that's right, I am grateful for drunken Karaoke regulars.
11- Emma/ Mom/ Dad (my current "roomies")
12- Church today
13- Stephanie
14- Allie
15- Hot cocoa at Barnes and Noble, which is the only thing that eased my anxiety today
16- People came to my party. Talk about anxiety relieved
17- Nancy Gator
18- My really great Bishop, Who tries to understand me in spite of his friendship with my dad, (which usually serves to confuse people about me...)
19- My health, I rarely get sick, and so I can use those PTO days to move.
20-The "Mountain" Hymns, I have never been so happy to conduct the music in my life
21-Bryan and Brittany

22-Jelly Bellies, and all of those memories

23-Loni Chelsea and Haleigh

24- Andrea
25- Dinner with my co-workers, now my friends
26- Time alone
27- General Conference Report, Elder Condie's Talk28- My job, the parents, the great company
29-My big Brother, and Ice Cream
30-... And my Brothers wife and seven kids, again with the niece/nephew therapy

Aug 1- Mathilda, my car, which is a really good car
Aug2- Mountains Mountains Mountains Mountains. These mountains are the safest place in the world to me
3- Music and the Spoken Word, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Scrabble with my Grandfather
4- Job security, with a great company
5- The sudden realization that I am very good at what I do
6- Facebook. Random, I know, but it has helped me contact so many old friends
7- I finally go to meet Caleb, the mini-Szymanski
8- The Olympics, the world we live in, and people that make efforts to love each other. (Cheesy, I know, but it has to be said)
9- One very comfortable and large Bean Bag Chair
10- Ann Marie, who I already mentioned, but she is letting me live in her basement, so she gets double blessings
11- Today I am grateful for the growth I have experienced in the past few years. I have come a long way.
12- Smart People. Today I am grateful for grown-up conversations and intelligent friends
13- A complete paycheck, in spite of the time it took to move, they paid me for that too.
14- Bryan And Brittany, Again, because I know I can go there when I have nowhere else
15- I am only beginning to realize how much the depression affected me, and how much better I feel now. Thanks for healing.
16- Bishop Yamada, who years ago encouraged me to get a job in education, even though I didn't want to. That has been the source of some of my best friendships
17- I am grateful That my 90 yr old Grandfather can still cream me at scrabble
18- My new boss, who listens to me and helps me with my concerns
19- A place to live, close enough to work and reasonable rent
20- My new roomie, who is not psychotic, as I feared she would be
21- There have been many people over the past few years who have risked friendship with me in spite of my social awkwardness, and I am only now beginning to realize how bad it was (is?) and how hard it must have been for them. Thanks for everyone who helped me figure that stuff out.
22-I am grateful that I got out of debt when I did, since it seems like the whole world is crumbling now. (Economically speaking) and in turn, I am grateful for church leaders who foresaw and forewarned.

23-*gritting my teeth* I am grateful for the Beanbag chair that has become quite uncomfortable, and for chiropractors.

24- U-Haul and BYU Bishoprics
25- A text message I received on May 17, that has been running in and out of my thoughts all day: "Are you defined by what your family wants or doesn't want you to be, or are you who you are aside from them?" Its taken a long time, but I think I am beginning to understand.
26- My Bed!
27- My mom is the best cook in the entire world, and she taught me a few tricks. I am so grateful for her, and for having a kitchen to make food in again.
28- New friends, Susan particularly, who helps me realize I am not quite insane.
29- voicemail from little children who love me, and don't understand why I left them, but make me realize that those two years were not wasted
30- Lisa, another therapist-friend, mostly friend, who knows me enough to know what I am saying without having to say it.
31- The Sacrament. It really does feel better to be a part of something...
(I find that one ironic, since it was about the Ward that kicked me out)

Sept 1- The sunrise out my bedroom window
2- Aunt Nancy and Uncle Steve, without whom I would have zero furniture.
3- Friendly girl, who remembered me and smiled and said hi. It really does make a difference to people
4- My Testimony, apart from the green jello culture and the labels
5-Another former student, a different one, but who still means a lot to me
6-Amy Every, and unconditional friendship
7- Becky, and her music
8- Family Wards
9- The French Language, and the miracle that I am somehow still very good at speaking it.
10- Practice time
11-The overwhelming sense of peace, which I am feeling again for the first time in a very long time.
12-Laundry, friends, and late night laughter
13- Milton and Mountains
14-A Prophet and my church
15-My talents. Frankly, there is no reason that I should be as good at my job as I am, and so it is purely a gift, which I should do a better job at sharing and refining. I really don't want to sound obnoxious, but there is great comfort in doing something well, and in recognizing where it comes from.
16-My new friend Shaelyn, and my old friend Ann Marie
17-Aunt Elaine, one of the most remarkable individuals ever
18-Prayer, which is finally becoming easier again
19- Roommates, all 80 of them, even those that i have nothing nice to say about
20- I felt comfortable in a crowd, that is major progress
21- Jim, again my Therapist and Friend
22- Books, and the love of reading and learning that was instilled in me.
23-Parents that are beginning to trust me
24- Afternoon Naps
25-Lucie, and the fact that our lives touched at exactly the right time, for both of us.

The thing about this list is, when I started it I was quite possible at the lowest point emotionally and psychologically that I have ever been at. And, while I don't necessarily attribute the blessings of the past six months to keeping a list, I do see the wisdom in the experiment. Especially for these 6 months, where I have come from some pretty serious darkness into a general sense of happiness again. And it really is fun to count your blessings, although pretty difficult at first, since we are generally out of practice. Think about it, when was the last time you got on your knees and said "Hey, thanks"?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My new friend Filbert

He hangs out on my ceiling and watches the sunrise with me every morning. Want to meet him?

I just don't have the heart to kill him, so I hope he isn't poisonous. I am someone who would rather see a friendly spider patrolling the neighborhood for nasty bugs like mosquitos than kill it and have it be all gushy and squashed. Filbert doesn't bother me, and I feel like since he likes to watch the sunrise too, we have a sort of a connection. But I suppose if he is poisonous, I will catch him and free him in the garden in my backyard. At least then he can continue to watch the sunrise!

(You can see the pink tounge from my cherry snowie...)

This weekend some friends and I went to the Real game. I truly enjoyed it, even if I know less about soccer regulations than about football. I paid $4 for a cup of crushed ice, and enjoyed doing it for two reasons. 1. I am a grown up, and I can do it if I want to. 2. I could afford to.

The Real lost, but that doesn't ever matter as much to me. The great joy is sitting in the stands with friends and strangers, teasing and laughing and connecting with people. Have you noticed how much we are disconnected from people in our world? I wonder if that is why we are so blog-addicted. I enjoy reading about everyone's life so much that it actually makes me want to share a little of my own. It feels like a connection that was lost has been at least a little bit re-established. For the past two years I have been at a sort of a disconnect, from my own life particularly, and this was one of the first times since then that I didn't feel lonely in a crowd. I suppose since I don't care who wins, it's a waste for me to fill a seat, but I love to sit in crowds of people and feel a connetion to them. And on that note, I think I should try to get tickets to the BYU/UofU game in November. We could do the whole she-bang. The nightmareish traffic, the screaming fans, the rivalry. I don't care who you are cheering for (although I will be wearing blue), come along and feel like you are a part of something. If not a football game than at least a friendship and a culture and a few hours of frivolous fun. I have become convinced that these connections are what really matter in life.
Maybe I'll even bring my friend Filbert.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So last night, wandering around Targeeet, I had a thought. I love to make lists. And I was thinking in my brain of the many roommates I have had. I decided to make a list. Then, I decided to post it on here, knowing that some of you have been my roomies, some of you have heard about them, and some of you could care less. I am in no way forcing you to read this, I just found it interesting.

I have had an enormous amount of Roomies. Most of them got married, otherwise I would still be willing to live with them, others were not such great experiences. Some had some pretty severe issues. I promise not to reveal anything too personal, but I will throw in a fact or two that I remember. Keep in mind, not including my sisters, I have lived with roomies since 1993. So here's to 15 years of my life.

University of MN
1. Carrie-(and her boyfriend, but since all he did was share her bed and not pay rent, he doesn't count. I think his name was Devin)
2. Sam- We had fun. She was nice.
3. Jen- Her mom and dad sent her clean needles every week. Not for legal drugs.

4. Tove- From Norway
5. Brenda- Aka BatBern, Berndaaaa, and BUIIIIIIIIII! One of the first Kindred spirits I ever met
6. Jammie- Pasta Girl, and we are still tight.
7. Katie- Poor girl, we were a bunch of weirdos and she was the only normal person
8. Jen- Had really long fingernails. No, I mean really long
9. Cyndi- Gave me rides to work, and enjoyed driving like a madwoman on the streets of Provo at 4 am
10. Laura- Klepto
11. Cheryl- certifiable
12. Melanie- Classic CA Blond
13. Liz- So tiny we called her "Fattie"
14. Cathe- Texas, or "cafe au lait"
15. Marina- "MRNA"
16. Lyndell- She actually helped me figure out the timing for me to go on my mission
17. Hailey- Don't remember much, but I think she was friends with my cousin James
18. Erin- Hailey's friend
19. Spring
20. Kelly
21. Tessa
22. Andrea
(if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.)
23. Robyn- Changed Hair color more often than I can count.
24. Andrea- We intend to be roommates again, soon!
25. Melissa- we made a leonard bernstien puppet for her class once
26. Suzanne- We would eat popcorn while she did her excercise video
27. Amber- Suzannes sister

28. Soeur Bulla- MTC Comp
29. Soeur Beer- that's right, I said Beer
30. Soeur Holmes- Nothing Nice to say
31. Soeur Burymski- Trainer
32. Soeur DeVos- Nothing Nice to say
33. Soeur Nilsson- She taught me how to say "don't let the bed bugs bite" in Swedish.
34. Soeur Bryson- Good Times were had. Seriously.
35. Soeur Stephens- Best Brownies on the Planet
36. Soeur McPherron- a little pie and some Bleu de Methylyn for the elders...
37. Soeur Chaffin- We later bacame BYU roomies too!

38. Carrilyn- Thanks for the Vanilla Coke!

Back at BYU- This may get messy, Some people I spent so much time with, I don't remember if we were actual roomies or not. But if the line is that blurred, then it probably counts.

39. Heather- Fellow Diva!
40. Maren- Banana Republic, Jaguars, and BYU Football.
41. Marlene- Pickles at the movies and the most random games ever.
42. Megan- and her odd fascination with Camo underwear
43. Trisha- original owner of "Dr. Zahn" the apt mascot
44. Robin- the ballerina who grew up in a mortuary
45. Anya- and the rotisserie chicken from Sam's
46. Melinda- who left us for BYU Jerusalem
47. Kim- Don't know what happened there.
48. Leah- We went to paris, but again, I don't know what happened there.
49.Jana- The RS pres.
50. Jenny- and many good times we had
51. Kirsten (or kristen?)- I don't remember her name, but she tried to flirt with my Frenchman, tried and failed.
52. Leticia- We watched Moulin Rouge so many times...
53. Ruth- Ahhh, the Vegan
54. Natalie- the dating fiend.
55. Julia- yes, fols, people actually go on super-dates.
56. Stefanie- nursing student
57. Kijrsten- Nursing student
58. Nicole- engaged, I hardly knew her
59. Liz- went away to basic training alot, so I didn't really know her
60. Tricia- now in the MoTab and I am insanely jealous.
61. Curly Blond haired girl- Honestly, we were roommates for 2 months, and she went to hair school and I don't remember her name.
62. La- Two blissful years of only having one roomie, and watching law and order and Angel
63. Carolanne- fellow bird girl, Bursts out into her own songs more often than me
64. Carma- Miss Clinton! That's right, I was roomies with pageant girls and I liked them.
65. Crystal- although that was short lived since she got married shortly after I moved in
66. AnnMarie- You have no idea how frightening it is to let some one know you that well. Well, may be you do, but I didn't.
67. Jessica- Oh Jess. Fellow Diva and Drama Queen
68. Do I get to count Brittany? we spent so much time together...
69. Ruth- I almost forgot her!
70. Beth- When I was 12-ish, my parents let her stay with us for months on end while her mom was unemployed.

I could also count:
Shaelyn, Hailey, Abby, Miriam, and Julie, In whose basement I have been hobo for a month.
and My sisters- Jessica, Melissa, Amy, Emma, with whom I have shared a room with at least once each.
And Tiffany, who lived with us for a while too.

And Currently, Mindy. Who I found on Craigs list. But it's ok, she's not psycho or anything.

So there you have it. Does anyone need any roommate advice? Because I have an Honorary PHD in how to live with girls. Go ahead and laugh, but you have no idea how much these people and this experience has impacted my life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I am pretty sure life doesn't get any better than this.

Ok, for starters, I took pictures and it is my every intention to upload them with this blog entry. But that may take the afternoon. So initially you will see a skeleton entry. But soon enough, there will be images. How exciting.

First, I took a picture of my cute little duplex where I live now, with the big tree in front. See!

Then I will add some other (various and sundry) photos. Various and sundry is one of my favorite phrases.

Then I will tell you about my weekend. Life doesn't get any better than last weekend. And I am not just talking about the Football Game. Especially since you know that football outcomes hardly affect my life, other than to make me smile briefly when BYU wins. I recognize that it does not affect the education I received from them in any way. It's merely the very human emotion of pride, popping out to say "hello, they did well, and you have every right to wear a shirt with their logo on it, and when they do well, it makes the logo cool." And I smile and move on with my life. Of course, I wear shirts with their logo on them anyways, I just feel a little cooler when they win.


Back to the real reason the weekend was great. It started with Friday night, when I drove up to Roy to visit the Szymanski clan. Ok, not so much clan as Bryan Brittany and Caleb. And not so much visit as mooch off of them for their washer and dryer. But two loads of laundry later we had read many notes passed to Bryan during his High school years, teased him a little for all of the heart breaking he did, and had in general an extremly pleasant evening. I love those kinds of relationships where the friendship is as comfortable on day one as it is 4 years later, and where we can grow and change and move through all of the stages of life together and seperately, but no matter what we are still just as comfortable with each other. Plus, my clothes are clean.

On Saturday I woke up early. I watched the sunrise by opening my window and then curling back up in my bed with Red Blankie. If you have not met Red Blankie, then you are missing out on a major figure of my life. Red Blankie has travelled halfway around the world with me. It has been my companion since the day I was born (actually, before that, according to my mom), and has not left my bed since then. Even when I am bedless, Red Blankie stays by my side through the nights, keeping away monsters and the ever-constant "Ankle Grabber" which lurks under all furniture. Red Blankie joined me for the beautiful sunrise on saturday, and I knew it would be a perfect day. After sunrise, a friend called me, and we chatted for an hour about the blessings and fun things in life. When I was finally ready to get out of bed, I had no anxiety issues at all, partly due to the conversation, and partly because I had done laundry, so I knew I could choose to wear whatever I wanted to.

I got dressed in my favorite jeans, a comfy t-shirt, a hoodie, and some beautifully mismatched socks. (one striped, one leopard print). I put my perfectly mismatched feet into an old pair of sneakers, and headed outside to work on a dreaded task. I had to continue un-packing my car. I hate all things packing and un, but the task seemed less frightening with the prospect of a perfect day ahead. I spent about an hour bringing things in from the car, finding places for them to belong, and then my ADD took control, and I left the job unfinished while I ate some breakfast.

(I know you are thinking that this doesn't sound like all that great of a day yet, but here's where it gets good.)

I returned to my car, this time with a water bottle, a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost, and my camera, and I drove to the nearest canyon I could find. Turns out, it's Millcreek Canyon. I drove until I found a suitable trailhead, and then I hiked. Somewhere along the hike, I wandered off onto a smaller trail. I was worried about getting lost, until I found some random picnic benches, hidden away. There wasn't anyone around, but I figured that if there were picnic benches, then this must be a real trail. I continued onward. Suddenly the trail turned into a dry creek bed, and there was no trail left, but there was a large rock, just the right size for sitting and reading. This was providential, since my Minnesota-Altitude lungs combined with my depression-weight-gain were beginnning to combine against me. I sat and read for a few hours. Bees came, some small animals came, and occasionally I could hear a hiker on the trail that was apparently some 60 feet above me. Not often enough to bug me, just often enough to reassure me that if a bear came, my screams would be heard. So again, no anxiety. Plus, how can anyone have anxiety in the mountains? The world is perfect there!

Just as Satan was tricking an archangel to tell him where the garden of Eden was (remember, Milton?) I thought I should perhaps make an effort to return to civilization. I hiked back down, finding a few red leaves along the way. The mountains are going to be stunning in a week or so.

I proceeded to drive home, but got distracted at the chapel. A meeting was ending, and I had my music books in the car, so I slipped inside while the door was unlocked to practice. I practiced for a few hours, again without noticing the passage of time, until the faint sounds of a basketball alerted me to life. Basketball meant it was probably later in the afternoon. 3:30. Just enough time to run home and change before dinner with Aunt Elaine.

We met at Olive Garden. Aunt Elaine is my Grandfather's older sister. She lived in Wisconsin most of her grown up years, moved there on her own as a child psychologist/social worker in her mid 20's. (when she retired she moved to Minneapolis, where she spent some years spoiling my siblings and myself with theatre shows, fancy dinners, and more handbag cast offs than Saks Fifth Avene and Bloomindales combined.) She grew up in UT, but after treating the children of her high school friends for a few years, she decided she had to go someplace where she didn't know the families. You have to be a pretty feisty woman to pick up and move halfway across the country alone, in the 1950's, and she was feisty. And she stayed feisty. She is about 4 feet tall, and every bit as tiny as tiny should be. But best of all, she is crazy. Certifiable. You know that shopping disorder, where people buy stuff compulsively? She has it. The real thing. And she amasses these piles of things that stay in the boxes, or still have the tags on, and that she rarely even remembers having purchased, but she continues shopping. QVC, the mall, anywhere. It's a good thing she hasn't met amazon.com yet. (I mentioned something about the internet to her, and she said "oh, I've heard of that!") Add to the shopping thing the fact that she has been single for some 90 years, she loves children and knows more about them than someone who has raised 20 of them, and she knew me when I was 10 years old. Then throw on top of that her favorite color, powder blue. Every home she has had has been powder blue. The walls, the carpet, the furniture, its as if the color spectrum shifts when you walk into her residence. You have to check the ceiling occasionally to remember what white is. And, she drives the same car that I once accidentaly locked the keys in when I was 9. (traumatic story for me, actually, if you're curious just ask.) That's right, she still drives. A big nasty reddish brown sedan from 1985 or 6. SLC drivers beware. I'm still not sure how she sees over the sterring wheel.

So Aunt Elaine and I met for dinner at the Olive Garden in Sugarhouse, because there is good shopping in Sugarhouse. Not that we were going shopping, I think she just felt better knowing that there we decent stores close by. We talked about everything from Lingerie shopping (akward!) to whether or not it was ok to support the Braves, since they were in Wisconsin for a while, but they played against the Twins in a World Series (when they were in Atlanta. I remember that. Twins won, becuase the Braves pitcher walked Kent Hrbeck home in the 11th inning. Aren't you impressed with my sports knowledge today!) She told me about growing up with my Grandpa, and his car and the football games they would go to and the hikes they went on, and his job at the ice cream parlor, and her working 40 hrs a week while attending grad school full time. In the 50's. I told you, she's pretty incredible. She made me order dessert because she wanted to finish her entire plate of lasagna. Do you know any 4 ft tall 90 yr old ladies who can down an entire helping of Olive Garden Lasagna? I thought not. It was a grand experience.

I went home around 7 pm, thinking I had just finished a great day, when suddenly the day got even better. The teachers I used to work with up in Roy called, they were going to see "Mamma Mia" at the Gateway, it started in 20 minutes, and they were leaving a ticket for me at the door. Of course I went. We sang along with all of the songs, and when the credits rolled with the music video and the blue spandex jumpsuits, we got up and danced. After we played a few video games, a round of Dance Dance revolution, and then we went our seperate ways.

Sunday Morning, I had regional conference. It was in the conference center at 10 am. A new experience for me, regional conference in the BIG building. But I didn't want to miss Music and the Spoken word. So I got up early again, and went to their rehearsal before I slipped over to the confernce center. The advantage to attending huge important meetings alone is that you get to be the person who fills in the leftover seats up front. The ushers kept telling me to go farther up, until I was in the 10th-ish row. And Elder Ballard and President Monson spoke. It was awesome. My only complaint was that the organist played "reverently, quietly". Who, given an opportunity to play the Conference Center Organ, one of the best in the world, chooses "reverently quietly" for prelude? While 20,000 seats are being filled? I comfort myself by believing that it was the organist's personal joke. As in: *snort* let's hear 20,000 people be "reverently, quietly"

Now do you see why it was the perfect weekend? I had it all. Well, there are a few things that I might have wanted to add to it. I didn't make it down for a scrabble game with grandpa sunday night. And there wasn't a choir at the regional conference. And I wasn't singing in any choirs. But I wonder, if I asked for anything more, if my head would have exploded off of my shoulders in happiness. Then I couldn't have enjoyed it at all.
PS. My favortie flower is probably considered a weed, especially here in Utah where it lines roadsides and chokes out all other life. But it is in bloom right now, so in the spirit of posting pictures, here it is! Hello Brown-Eyed-Susan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On a positive note...

You should know that while am am snarky, sarcastic, frequently depressed, anxious, occasionally whiny, and openly negative about many things, I am not actually a negative person! It just occurred to me that much of what I post has some sort of a complaining spin to it, and that bugs me. I am by no means chipper, don't get me wrong. What I refer to as realism is often regarded by others as devoid of hope and just plain sad. But I really do have positive, hopeful things to say. I wonder if I just use up my quota of positive and bubbly statements while I talk to parents every day. You know that I have to spin everything to sound positive. Just imagine if I told them the truth! I would be out of a job in seconds. I can't say "you child is the most stubborn, controlling and manipulative 4 year old I have ever met." Instead, I grin and say "Wow, you will never have to worry about your little girl caving to peer pressure!" And instead of "Your two year old is a terrorist, he has bitten 3 children today, drew blood twice, and if I were you I would consider selling him to a jihadist organization." Instead, I say "Well, little Draco certainly knows what he wants out of life, and he is going to go after it until it is his!" And you really don't want to know what it means if a teacher tells you your child is "really smart" If the teacher stays generic, don't ask for more details.

But I digress.

I was going to tell you how good I feel today. Now that I have a ward, and therefore a chapel, I am able to practice again. Music withdrawl is no good for me. I have, for nearly 6 years now, been practicing the organ for at least an hour a day. Don't accuse me of holding out, I am terrible at it. My church leaders who take the time to chat with me about music will know that I can teach piano, I can play piano for some meetings, and I can even coach the piano to organ transition. But I cannot play for the big meeting. No way, ever. The skills are not there. I have the shoes, I have the books, I have the metronome, and I have no ability to time releases with my 3rd and 4th fingers, on both hands. This is essential in organ play. So last night, I went to the building, and very discreetly snuck into the chapel to practice. A dear friend of mine arranges hymns, and it is my dream to someday achieve playing something at a non-embarassing level. He sent me one of his new arrangements yesterday, and I was so excited to try, partly because it is one of my favorite hymns, partly because I haven't had consistent practice time for 6 weeks. I warmed up, and then I played for 90 minutes. Nobody interrupted, nobody criticized my terrible releases, nobody was better than me, nobody was worse than me, and most of all, I knew the text to every line of every hymn I played, and it felt great. Even the pre-set stops were decent enough for me to figure out the sound I wanted. (have I mentioned, I am terrible at registration as well?) The only reason I stopped was because it got dark outside, and since I couldn't find the light switches to the room, I was using an open window to read the music. Seriously, aren't light switches always by the doors? Not in this room. I checked in all the usual places, and in a few unusual places. There were no light switches in the room.

Light switch issues aside, I feel so much better now that I have practiced. I feel better that I am into a routine in my classroom. I feel better that the mysterious swelling in my feet has gone away. I feel better knowing that I can go back and practice again tonight. I even feel like I might be able to find the light switches. (And I know that it's a false hope that will only lead to anxiety, but who cares, I'm on a roll!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Anxiety and swollen feet

Well, I can finally say that I am settling in. I have yet to finish unloading my car, but it is in a state to take on passengers. (I should say just one passenger, but we could squish someone into the backseat now too.) This weekend I accomplished some of the last few official things that make me feel like I have come home. I visited a few more friends that I had yet to see, I found my ward (and that was a project, another blog entry entirely, involving condemned buildings and my limited Spanish speaking ability.) And I baked brownies. You can't call a place home until you have baked something there. Preferably an entire meal, but at least some dessert item. Oh yes, and the most important point of all, the real indicator of settling in, I have anxiety about absolutely nothing. Before, my anxiety could be pointed at something. For example: "where am I going to live" anxiety, "how am I going to pay the deposit" anxiety, "I should get a second job" anxiety, "the new people at work must hate me" anxiety, "nobody wants to hang out tonight" anxiety, even "first Sunday in a new ward" anxiety. All of them can be debilitating, justified, and real panic attacks, but they are in a certain sense better, simply because they can be directed somewhere. The anxiety I am feeling now (shall we call it "Settled in" anxiety?) has no direction whatsoever. I try to point it at something, but my logical and less depressed brain knows perfectly well that these are all merely excuses. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, friends to talk to, and many pairs of shoes. I don't actually need to feel anxious about anything. I can worry about my future, like everyone else, wonder if I am going to be at this job for the rest of forever, I could worry about the price of gas or hurricane season or the upcoming presidential elections, I can occupy my mind with all sorts of grown-up type stresses, like in the Little Prince, all of those figures in their various spheres that spend their time counting money, declaring themselves to be kings, and lighting lanterns, and I can be aware of the waste of brain cells that these things are. But the anxiety makes it so that when I do stop to enjoy the sunrise over the mountains, or when I stop and appreciate the amazing friendships I have found through the years, or even when I am grateful for my car, every time I sit in it, there is a nagging feeling, an unsettling of my brain, some sort of emotional ADD that takes over, and the peace that should come with financial security and general happiness escapes me. The anxiety tries to latch on to something, usually something ridiculous, like "The guy in that car looked at me funny" anxiety, or, "when I get out of bed, should I brush my teeth first or go potty first?" anxiety (that one has actually been known to keep me in bed for hours, writhing and wretching because my breath stinks and I have to pee so bad, but since I can't plan ahead, I can't manage to get out of bed to take care of things that would already be done if I would just do them. Please, please, please, tell me I am not the only one who has ever been confined to their bed until at least 9:30 am because they couldn't decide what minor task to accomplish first. Go ahead, make the crazy sign at the computer, then graciously tell me that you have done that too. Lie, if you have to, or I will have anxiety about that too!

All this is to say that today, my anxiety has bounced around in my head from "how will I watch conference when I don't have a TV?" to "Why are my feet swollen?" I know these things don't really matter. But seriously, It's Monday, I didn't run a marathon this weekend, in fact the most strenuous thing I did was play a few games of scrabble with my grandfather last night ( I lost one, terribly, but won another by enough so that i am sure he was letting me win.) So why don't my feet fit into my cute shoes? I almost called in sick to work because of it...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kicked out.

Well, not really. But it's an interesting story. You see, when I went to church on sunday, I met a few people, one of who was a member of the bishopric. He said "Are you new in the ward?" and I replied "I don't know if this i the right ward, but..." and he interruppted, "What is your address?" And I gave it to him, adding "but...." And he interrupted again "that is in our ward. Welcome!" and he wrote down my name and adress and walked away.

Last night, he and another member of the bishopric showed up on my doorstep, invited themselves in, (in spite of the fact that I had barely walked in the door with cafe rio, which was gettin cold as they chatted.) They pestered my roommate, who works sundays and prefers to say inactive. It was embarrassing. They pestered her for 25 minutes before they talked to me again, and asked what callings I had held in the past. Finally given an opportunity to speak, I said "Before you get too far, I need to tell you that I am 31, and is that ok?"

They stopped. They stood up and said "you are welcome to attend our social activites, but for church, you need to go to a different ward. Have a good evening." ( I checked myself for leprosy later that night.)

Well, at least they didn't mince any words. I just wish they had let me find that out before I wasted another sunday and several social efforts on it. Besides the fact that it felt a little rude, abrupt, un-welcoming, choose an adjective.

I guess I really don't want to attend ward with that flavor anyways. My response to them, as they went out the door was simply, "Oh, thats ok. I don't go to church for the social activities. I prefer to go to church to worship. So, goodbye."

They just lost a damn good teacher.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Ha. That got your attention, didn't it?!! DOn't worry, you don't have to skip this one for fear of adult ratings. It's just, that was what was written on the chalkboard in the RS room at the beginning of our 3rd hour combined meeting on sunday. They promised us it would not be about marriage. I should have known that in any singles ward, "not about marriage" simply means "About the law of chastity". THere is nothing like sitting in a room with 200 people you are just barely meeting, and discussing the definition of intimacy. I was sitting between two new people. ONe I will refer to as "Polite Guy", who sat about three seats down from me in Sunday school, but when others got up and left, he scooted down and politely acknowledged my newness to the ward and made small talk with me. THe other was "Friendly girl". At one point I though she was trying to walk past me, so I stood up for her to pass, and instead she said "oh, I don't want to pass you, I want to meet you." It is odd to encounter such propriety and friendliness inn a Singles ward. Especially from a fellow female. I was intrigued, we chatted, then the word "INTIMACY" appeared on the board, and we both made a few inappropriate and uncomfortable jokes before the opening hymn. Of course it was akward. And for all they knnew, I was some sort of a harlot in my own past life, so why would they want to share such a topic with me? I tried to remedy the akwardness during the opening hymn. Some brilliant fool chose "Love at Home" for the song. Really? It was only too easy. I sang "There is beauty all around, when there's INTIMACY at home." And so forth. My new friends snickered. Not only had I moved past the creepy looking sideways at each other in order to figure out what the other person is thinking stage, I established myself as the smart-aleck that I am. After all, why leave a false impression?

It's nice to be settling in.