Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conference weekend

I used to have fun writing my conference weekend play by play and thoughts. That's changed a little, partly because, well, you can all pretty much see what I'm up to. Also because much of what is happening is too personal to go online, or its against the rules for me to post it. But I thought I'd highlight a few blog-appropriate points, just for fun.
~The lady in front of me taped the words to the opening hymn to the back of the woman in front of her. By the end of the session we had added the words "kick me" as well.
~President Holland's talk + Sour Apple Yoda fruit snacks = nourishing the whole soul
~Didn't you just love that arrangement of Tell me the Stories of Jesus? Not a dry eye during that 4th verse, "one of His heralds, yes I will sing Loudest Hosannas..."
~I still feel a little like a movie star. At the risk of sounding vain, my makeup looked pretty awesome today.
~Switching around parts all the time because I'm sitting in the soprano section so I have to look like a soprano is exhausting. It's not like before, when I learned both parts and sang them for a concert. I have to look like I am only singing one part for the TV cameras, meanwhile I have to actually sing a totally different part. Its the toughest brain puzzle I've ever been faced with. And I love it.
~I love love love watching the people around me pass around boxes of kleenex. Strong, smart, amazing women, feeling the same stuff I feel.
~We get to keep going! Tomorrow is another day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fabulous?

You know, just because I am incapable of maintaining a chipper schedule filled with artful alliterations and endearing eclectic amusements doesn't mean others shouldn't. As was stated in my very first paragraph, my inabilities to endure, engage, and otherwise exude on a consistent basis do not exclude others from the same responsibilities. The point was never that I didn't want to read your creations. It was that I didn't want to feel the pressure to contribute my own. It wasn't that there is something wrong with one legitimate literary device or another. It was that despite all of the wonderful things in my life, sometimes I'm just plain grumpy. And I suppose if I didn't make that clear, and somehow sent a different message, then I should clarify, correct, and concede. I love having friends. And whether I hear from you by blog post or by internet social network or by wearing too much blue eyeshadow at the state fair, you make my life a better place to be. Even when I'm grumpy. And also, it was that I have more friends than Angelina Jolie. Which makes me better than her, I'm sure of it. I guess I'm just worried, you see earlier this week I had to text a sibling to communicate that I was not offended about a ridiculous communication that had been happening. And here's the kicker. It was a joke I thought I had started. But apparently I have a reputation for offending or taking offense where none was taken, intended, or accepted. So i'm putting this out to the universe too. I'm sorry. I'm sorry if you feel slighted that I'm not going to participate in the weekly themed post. I admire those that can do it, and I enjoy reading them, but I'm not up for that added pressure in my own life. I'm sorry if my political opinions are too strong, I'm sorry if my humor is too crass, I'm sorry if my voice is too loud, I'm sorry that I just won't accomplish my "to do" list this week, I'm sorry that I ate as much ice cream as I did, I'm sorry.

But here is who I am, and I promised myself I couldn't lie about it. It's part of "I Bei Momenti". You can't re-discover happiness if you aren't re-discovering yourself. And the fact is, I need rediscovering, and even reinventing in some of those previously discovered places that the depression changed. And you can't lay hold of the "beautiful moments" if you are pressuring yourself to write about them instead of going out and discovering them. So that's the part I'm not apologizing for. I'll still speak up. I'll still speak up about who I am and how I am. Because writing about it is how I figure it out.

So here's to my fabulous friday. I worked all week in a classroom that I love. Two of my very favorite babies were there, and they gave me hugs and fell asleep in my arms and let me love them and made my job worthwhile. We are starting some great music in choir, which you will all hear soon enough, and I even went out on an actual date that didn't leave me paralyzed with fear and tongue-tied like a kid licking a lamppost in January. I enjoyed class, I turned in homework, I got paid, and I ate too much ice cream. I laughed, I gossiped, I swore, I sang, I cried, I lectured, I listened, and I'm going to take a bubble bath. Right Now. And when I am done, I expect to see that you have all posted your friday favorites for me to read.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yesterday's News

I'm not making excuses for my blogging absence. Just know that if I'm not posting its because I'm using my spare time to do something I love more. And if I am posting, its because I want to. See how easy it is? Of course, that doesn't give any of you an excuse to slack off in your blogging, since I am interested in your comings and goings and you should be responsible about sharing them with me. Got it? This is not a double standard.

I was thinking I could start doing some sort of clever weekly post to motivate me to type at least something. But you know me. Rebellion would turn my Friday Favorites into saturday supers and sunday somethings and monday musings and eventually I would simply declare that I was done conforming to alliterative themes. I decided it would be better for all of us if I just didn't bother starting. Why put that pressure on myself and everyone around me?

And it would be pressure. You know, being chipper and positive online, letting everyone know that my life has become 52 Wonderful Wednesdays occuring in nicely spaced 7 day intervals, as reliable as getting cut off when trying to merge onto I-15. I don't want to give anyone a wrong impression. Sometimes life sucks. Even for people who in reality have it pretty good.

I mean, look at Angelina Jolie. Yesterday she was front page news on Yahoo (I know, what a reliable source...) because she confessed to some reporter that she is lonely. That's right. Angelina doesn't have any friends. Because no one can relate to her plight. You see, she has pressures. She is a sexual icon who acts as the UN good will ambassador, and has to leave her children with their nanny in order to travel around the world spending her millions of dollars helping everyone suffering from natural disasters. In fact, I don't know that there is anyone on the planet who can even begin to relate to that. Except maybe Brad Pitt. And how many people do you know that would trade her for her place? Think about it, millions of dollars, opportunities to right wrongs, beautiful children and a spouse who some would call attractive, personal trainers, a perfect body, those lips that look like they've been freshly pumped with collagen.... I could go on.

But the poor dear doesn't have any friends. Because what would they talk about? Work? Family? Politics? Seriously, who wants to listen to that woman complain?

Meanwhile, hundreds of women that I know have terrifying struggles every day. Will I make the rent? Can someone watch the kids so I don't throw them in a pond? How will I get to the grocery store this week? Is my boss going to fire me? Is my marriage falling apart? What loved one is ill, how do I support them and prepare myself for whatever that may bring? Did I offend that person? Did that person offend me? Did they mean to? How will I graduate from college? How will I pay for college? Homework, chores, laundry, car maintenance, children, relationships... the list goes on. And if the Landlord shows up and notices you haven't mowed the lawn yet, well that may just be the straw that breaks the camels back.

But still the alliterative blog post reflects perfection. Because if we can't have the perfect life for real, we may as well have it in public. Here's where we miss the boat though. Because, you see, unlike poor Angelina, we have friends. So we do the opposite of her. She lives her perfect worry free life and publicly complains of imperfections. We stress and cry and plow away then publicly proclaim our happiness. Maybe thats because our very best friends listen to us and share their own problems with us and we collectively and respectively listen, help, love and comfort. So by the time we are faced with our own personal press, we really are pretty happy with our imperfect lives.

Which means, in the end, that poor friendless Angelina really is worse off than all of the rest of us.

So I guess after a crappy and stressful week working a job that I resent a little more each day and worrying about papers and money and diets, what I really need to post is a HUGE thank you. To all my friends, near and far, close and distant, new and old, and loved in every way, you guys make my life better than Angelina Jolie's.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Bachelorette

My roommate watches lots of TV. She doesn't schedule her life around it or anything, she just records a ton of shows and then watches them as she gets bored in the evenings. She just likes to have some shows to watch and she likes them to be the up and coming hottest topic type shows that all the cool people are talking about. (For example, not Glee. Or Chuck. Or Psych. Or NCIS. The shows that all the geeks are talking about) The reality TV programs are what fascinate me the most, because, you see, while I understand a little Amazing Race and a season or two of Dancing with the Stars, she leans towards a more scandal-laden variety. She is catching up on her "Kendra" and thrilled with whoever won America's Top Model. She keeps up with the Kardashians and there was one that I don't even know the title of about a loser who lived in his parents basement and all the girls were vying to be his girlfriend. She eats it up when Donald Trump forces celebrites to turn on each other and she cheers on her favorite big losers with Bob and Jill or whatever their names are. Most of all though, she loves the Bachelor and Bachelorette series. She actually had a few copies of those trashy magazines detailing Jake's realtionship with Vienna. She was thrilled when "Ally" was chosen as the new bachelorette. Because you see, Ally really was the best one last season, and it was so smart of her to leave for her job, and so dumb of Jake not to take her back, and she just deserves a chance at love.
So then came the new season premier of the Bachelorette. I was sitting in my room reading for most of the evening, however I did something funny to my neck and was starting to get a headache from holding a book up. It being too early to go to bed, I wandered into the living room to seee if I could catch the Chuck season finale, when she excitedly told me that she was about to start the bachelorette and didn't I want to join her!? All right. Maybe I'd like it. Maybe I'd pick up a few dating tips. Or maybe some social skills for dealing with a generation of people who eat this stuff up. At the very least, I would end up with something to talk to people about, right? And I figured the worst that could happen is that I would be bored and go to bed early. There are some seriously stupid people out there! But I did come away wondering some things. First of all, knowing that each of those poor sad jerks was trying to put his best face forward in order to end up with a hot blond creates an interesting atomosphere. I mean, dating already sucks to be sure. But these guys are actually begging to be put in the worst dating situation possible, and they are banking on being able to come out of it looking good. Yikes! And then there is all this business with roses. Who gets the first impression rose, who is there for themselves and who goes home that first night beacuse they just couldn't stand out in a crowd. People seriously volunteer for this?
I started thinking, each of them is trying so hard to look his very best for cameras and for the generic (and mindless) hot blond. They must have some performance skills. There must be some character they are trying to play. They are trying to guess what she wants and she is trying to guess who they are and the production crew is trying to find the most dramatic aspects of their trying and lying in order to exploit them all. I'm pretty sure they choose the people with the most conflicting mental illnesses and personality disorders in order to guarantee interest. If it were my own dating life it would never even sell a local car commercial slot. This thing called reality TV is less real than regular TV.
So with fiction on my brain, I hve composed my own version of the Bachelorette, staring myself. Yes, indeed I am submitting my name to the networks as desperate single girl number one. I'm not quite skinny and not quite blond, but I have my own set of personality disorders and promise to overanalyze every behavior so that I occasionally cry for the cameras and pit the unwitting victims against each other.
Now for the men! Bring them on! What is that, you say, no one applied for the position? Well that's not surprising in the least, I mean, no one has in years really. But I make do. So we will here. Rather than choosing real men who are as false as any fictional character, I shall select my 25 bachelors from among the fictional characters who are as real to me as any dating I have done in the past 10 years. (yes, its been that long.) Or as Tenessee Williams stated so beautifully: "They give you the illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant guise of illusion." — The Glass Menagerie ...

Here is the show opener: I am standing on the front porch of the giant mansion selected for filming the show. I am of course decked out in something long and gorgeous and formal and romantic-y. It probably involves diamonds. Understated diamonds. I don't want to look too high maintenance. Not that it matters, after all these boys are coming to compete for me. Its evening and the porch is shiny. I don't know why the porch is shiny, it just looks shiny on tv. Also there are lots of flowers all over the place. They're probably fake, but I won't look too closely to find out, after all this daydream is all about deluding myself. There has already been a montage of me, my childhood, my dating life, all of the fabulous successes in my life mixed with a few moments of me looking humble about having messed a few things up but still coming off gracefully in the end. Now I am waiting on the shiny porch with the fake flowers and a smarmy host who has just stated something stupidly obvious as the first limo pulls up.

So who is in it? I want to hear your suggestions. Characters from books, prefferably, since if you know me at all, you know they are who I know best. Let's write a Bachelorette script for the book nerds. Who runs away to an ex-girlfriend, who do I boot off week 1, who is actually gay, who is just a player, which of the guys fight with each other, and who do I end up with in the end? I've followed a season of this crap now, and I think we could write it better and make it more real than the producers at whatever generic broadcasting company. Let's write it and sell it.

PS. Just FYI, in case you do watch it, you should know that I like Chris, but I know she'll choose Roberto. Which means Chris could be the new Bachelor. Which is fine by me. He's too good for Ally, but in a new season, at least he'll have his pick and his opportunity to show off his own flaws. And if I were a size 4 blond, I might go after him too. But maybe that's his flaw number one, he'd never date a girl like me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happiness is singing together when day is through...

People used to stop me on occasion and tell me that I should sing with THE CHOIR. And I never quite knew what to say, because what I really thought when they said that was "thank you thank you thank you! That would be a dream come true. And its kind of all I ever wanted, and the fact that you tell me that gives me all sorts of hope." But if you say that to someone they think you are weird and sort of give you the gutteral stutter as they walk away. So I never quite knew how to respond to that. But for the past 6 months or so, no one has said that to me. Until today. Finally today a sweet old gentleman turned around during church and said to me "You should be in THE CHOIR" and I finally got to respond with the response I have had prepared since I was 4 years old. "I do." (Meanwhile inside my head was screaming "YYYYAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!")

There are a few things I have to admit about the whole experience. Strange things that either didn't occur to me in all the preparations or that I never thought I would admit. Do you want to hear my top ten choir confessions?

Read on, Reader.

10. I love my blue name tag. I got the special black name tag (and it was in FRENCH. Very cool) and then I got the special white name tag (the one that called me a teacher) and now I have the blue one. With little organ pipes on it. It pretty much rocks.

9. I like the dresses. Oh no, I am not saying I would choose them or wear them for fun. I am not defending them as fashion statements or as elegant. I am not saying their cut compliments my body type nor does the color compliment my face. I'm just saying that for as long as I can remember I have wanted to be one of the people in one of these dresses. And now I have a closet of them and the pearl earrings to match. I get so excited every time I put one on, and I am a little sad when I have to take it off again. I would wear it 24/7 if they told me to.

8. Mack Wilberg is a musical genius and Ryan Murphy is as much if not more. This is the perfect timing for me to be in the choir. Past directors have been wonderful, but these two function at a level that astounds me and keeps me moving. These directors were the two I needed.

7. There are mean and rude people. There are good and fun people. There are kind people and there are selfish people. Every group of people has some nasty and some wonderful in the blend. Not everyone gets it. But lots of people do. Especially here.

6. I like the conference center organ better than the tabernacle organ. The two spaces are different and you hear different things from different places and sometimes not at all depending on where you stand and who is playing. And as much as one place is home and historic, the other is modern and amazing. One is Garnier, the other Bastille. We need both. You can feel the organ in your feet at both. But if I have to choose where to listen to the organ solo, I chose the Conference Center, where half the women around me are stuffing cotton in their ears because the pipes are right there and they are blasting you out of your chair, ad I am praying for the organist to pile on just a little more registration.

5. I still wonder what they are all taking pictures of. When rehearsal is open to the public and the tourists come pouring in, or at the end of a broadcast when the cameras start flashing, I still stand there wondering what everyone is taking pictures of. What did they come here to see? Oh yeah, its me. Me and 370 other people. But still, its me. weird to thing that I am in some stranger's scrapbook.

4. I hope I never get tired and complacent. I don't think I will, after all its 16 years since I first saw the big Y on the mountain and I still stare at it and am amazed that it became a part of my life. And its 12 years since I first saw "my" tower and I still marvel that I ever even saw it, let alone lived by it for so long. I don't think this will wear off either. And I don't want it to. There are some people in there, and you can see that it has. There are some people that still marvel after 20 years. I know which camp I want to be in.

3. I seriously don't mind having to miss RS every week. I know its SUPPOSED to be a sacrifice, but lets face it, I never belonged there. Not like I belong here. Half the time the only thing that kept me going was curiosity to see what would happen next. And don't even get me started on the running commentary that I employed in order to keep myself amused and/or behaving. Believe it or not, I am finally attending meetings where I don't have any comments at all, let alone sarcastic ones. Sure we chuckle every once in a while, but but there is no sarcasm dripping from my mind to my tongue every 15 seconds. Its refreshing.

2. It's a good thing I memorized and prepared for 33 years. If I hadn't had the choirs and music I have had, I would never be able to keep up. As is we have now only sung 3 pieces that I didn't already know. And two of them were brand newly written for the choir, so no one knew them. The other was a patriotic piece that always irritated me and so I chose not to learn it. My bad. I just keep telling the other new people that ask me how I keep up: "I'm lucky. God knew I would never be able to keep up with the learning curve in here, so he made sure I learned everything beforehand". With that, I should thank the amazing directors and voice teachers I have had, since they let God use them to prepare me. Seriously, I bet Jim never knew that whole stake choir thing (for how many years) was purely for my benefit. (Okay, maybe a few others too, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly me.) And I bet Jeanine never knew she had to move to MN just so she could teach me (sorry 'bout those terrible winters...) Maybe thats a selfish perspective. But seriously, I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes when you sing through a piece once before it has to be recording and camera ready... I would have been drowned, dead and buried if it weren't for already knowing the music and the vocal production.

1. You sing and you sing your whole life, and sometimes you sing and have to keep pace with a group that has a different goal and different style than you would choose. You try desperately to keep pace. Or sometimes you sing with groups where you set the pace, and where you desperately want someone else to pick up the pace. You are either falling behind or dragging an entire ensemble along behind you your whole life. You learn to sing out because everyone else is getting their part off of you, and then you learn to hear when they've got the part so you can back off and blend instead of lead. You never quite find the group that has unity in purpose and skill and heart. And because you are always ahead of or behind the pack, you always feel just that much out of step. I have sung with a few different groups over the past year. I sang with a professional opera chorus, where outsinging the next person was the rule and the Italian was to be memorized and understood by the second time through, They were professionals and they were already on to expression and articulation before I even got the note right. I also sang with a community college choir, where I shifted from part to part depending on what I heard and in some pieces sang all four parts at one point or another. But I had time to learn and memorize all four parts in the rehearsal time it took for the other vocalists to learn their part. They never even got to dynamics, let alone pronouncing the text properly. I am finally singing with the only group of people in the world that I am in step with. We sing the songs I love and know. We sing them well. I don't have to lead my section. If I get lost and am looking for a note, I can listen around me and not only will someone else know it, they won't hate me for backing off for a moment. It actually took me quite a few rehearsals to even start trusting the voices around me, simply because I had gotten so used to being the only voice. 90 people in a section means I can sing out or I can take a breath or I can quietly learn my part, and it is the best feeling in the world. It's the perfect blend. I have to work at it, but I am keeping up.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happiness is climbing a tree

Or in other words, "I can do hard things"

Do you remember that? Julie Beck talked about it in conference a few years back. She talked about a group of youth who had taken this on as their motto, and the thing is, that group of youth was from a ward in Minnesota, and it included my little sister. Who just put her mission papers in. And during that process she asked "People just tell me a mission is hard, but its worth it. ...So what is it you people aren't telling me about a mission?? I don't know what to expect!! Its driving me crazy"

Well little sis, none of us really want to send you out there unprepared, and we want even less for you to go crazy (especially know the genetic predisposition for crazy that runs in the human family) So here's a bit of what we aren't telling you.

Remember when we were trying to climb that tree in my front yard? You know, the one that looks perfect for climbing right up until you stand next to it and try to put your arms around one of those first branches, and suddenly you realize its just a little bit too high and the branch is just a little too big to get a good grip on and we never really had the upper body strength to pull ourselves up anyways? Plus who knows if you'll get splinters or fall down and break an arm. except we kept trying to climb it anyways, because there is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting in the branches of a tree. Yeah. Remember that.

Remember what its like to have a dear friend, someone that you can talk to about the most important things in your life and that you have sacrificed for and prayed for and really just loved. Now remember what its like when that friend suddenly abandons you and the things that you love, and not only do you wonder if you'll ever get to have that same connection again, you wonder if you'll even see them again and you worry about the part of you they took away with them, what they will do with it. And remember what its like when that friend chooses not to abandon you, and they stay close and make wonderful decisions, and the only reason you ever grow apart is because you have both grown and made good choices and taken good paths, and while you might not ever be close again, you know that they are taking good care of the part of you that you gave them.

Once or twice or millions of "upon a times" there was an MTC district that was super close. Normal people don't spend 10 weeks in a 14x14 room with 12 people and end up hating them all. You may clash with one or two of them, but by the second week you will suddenly find yourself with all new best friends. In my district there was an Elder that put up with me particularly well. You see, I have a tendency to make what he called "smart ass" comments during classes and discussions. If you've ever sat with me during Relief Society you'll know exactly what he means. But we sat next to each other for 10 weeks, 14 hours a day, meals and meetings and phone center times included. My companion was on my left and Elder Corey on my right and he not only endured the running commentary, he enjoyed it. And he commented back. We tried very hard to not be disruptive. We even made the comments in French when we could. But those of you who have spent time in the MTC know about disruption and reverence. By the end of those 10 weeks we had a pretty solid friendship. And then we went to different areas of the mission and we never served together again. We ran into each other in a train station once, and he told me that his left ear felt empty with out a constant stream of sarcasm, scriptures, and generally apocryphal stories. And we laughed over it and shared a great moment and went back to being missionaries. And we never really saw each other again. Until a couple weeks ago. 12 years later. When I missed my ward because of choir and so I attended the ward that meets right after mine, and while hiding in the back of the chapel, this bald guy with a beard approached me in a sort of formal manner and addressed me as "Sister Pratt". I seriously thought I was in trouble. I mean, he came from the direction of the bishops office and he carried himself like a ward clerk of some sort. Imagine my shock when, after I replied "Yes" he said "I was sure you would have some sort of a comeback for me". And he identified himself as Elder Corey (and he pointed out that he had changed his hair) and I just couldn't even contain myself and I jumped up and hugged him (how often do I do that?) and then we talked for a few minutes on the highlights of the last ten years. I showed him my MoTab nametag and he showed me his wife and daughter and pointed out that they were expecting again sometime in the next week and we discovered that he literally lives two blocks from me. And then that was it. The only real distance was the 12 years. Our circumstances had changed and with them we had a bit as well. But the really important parts of us, the parts that we knew best and loved and respected best, those are still there, and there wasn't anything else to say. I sat behind him at stake conference and made faces at his daughter, but I have gotten better at keeping the commentary to myself. I met his wife and chatted with her for a moment. I'm not sure that she would really get it if I told her how much I love her husband, so I was tactful and told her that he was awesome. The world that we live in tries to pervert the whole friendship thing into something inappropriate, and so you have to be oh so careful. I hate that we aren't really allowed to be friends with people on a deep and spiritual level without someone questioning what else is there. Look at what they have done to David and Jonathan. They are a scriptural standard for friendship and yet activist groups have attempted to place sexual overtones into their story in order to justify certain behaviors. It kind of makes me sick. So rather than standing there expounding on my love for the kid I sat next to for 10 weeks, I stepped back, expressed a socially appropriate level of admiration, and wished her all the best. And I really felt that whole Dr Seuss quote, where you don't cry because its over, you smile because it happened. And I'm pretty sure that Elder Corey felt that too, because he just smiled and walked away at the same time as I did.

The thing is, as a missionary, you are blessed with an ability to love people pretty unconditionally. That closeness comes from sharing the gospel, whether or not you share anything else at all. But its not socially acceptable to only ever talk about the gospel, and so it seems like distance grows when the important things have never changed. Like my love for a wrestler and a filmmaker, two elders that I have absolutely nothing in common with except for a few months and a French family and one chemically altered blueberry pie. And you feel that love for people that reject you and your message outright as well. There was a woman that we were teaching for weeks and months on end who, due to cultural and familial circumstances one day about a week before her baptism stopped me in the hall at church and tore me and the message to pieces. She accused me of lying to her, of attempting to draw her into a satanic cult, and of only wanting money and control. Her face and name are burned into my mind, and I still tear up a little when I think of all that she gave up because she didn't trust that love. I don't hate her for the things she said to me and about me. I ache for her and I hope that at her final judgement I will have the opportunity to be a witness and defense and even an advocate for all that she must have gone through. I don't want to roast her, I want her to have another chance. Hatred would be an easier thing to feel than sorrow for friendship lost.

There are a whole lot of people that I love like that now. CS Lewis talks about friendship (in his book "The Four Loves") and he points out that friendship is perhaps the love which distinguishes us most from and above animals and plants. It is natural to love your maker, and instinctive to feel a sexual love, and familial love is born of survival and commandment. But friendship does not have to be commanded or inspired by hormone and evolution. True friendship is the frosting on the cake. It is born out of sharing something, a common interest or frustration, and it becomes a kind of acceptance that is effortlesss because there is an understanding. And we still have choices to make when offenses are perceived, but in a great friendship there is understanding which reaches beyond those offenses. Sometimes distances crop up, but in friendship those distances don't diminish the love that is felt. Truman Madsen described them once as fires, that burn brightly and keep us warm for a time, and yet we continue moving forward, and sometimes the fires stay with us a while, and sometimes they are just distant lights on the horizon, but they each serve a function. They show us where we have been and where we are going and they serve as light and warmth and comfort as they go. The love that is there does not change as we travel. It may grow brighter or more dim, but its very nature is good and eternal. And each light is an offering and each friend chooses whether to make an offering and whether to accept yours. As a regular person it is easy to choose to stop offering once your has been rejected. But as a missionary you don't make that choice. As a missionary you continue to offer love and light despite the rejection. So you either connect on a powerful and spiritual level, or you feel that pain of rejection, and the spirit that you feel as a missionary won't allow you to hate someone that you have come to love and value, so rather than replacing the friendship with resentment, you feel a measure of the emptiness and sorrow that Father in Heaven feels when the children that He loves reject Him. But, when that light and love is accepted, you feel a measure of the love and joy that Heavenly Father feels when one of His children comes home.

So be prepared to do hard things. Climb a tree. Love people whether or not they love you back. Enjoy the blessings that come from true friendship and treasure the tears that are spilled over your ability to love unbound by whether or not the love is returned. After all, that is the definition of true charity. It is not conditioned on anything that this world values, not on loyalty or sex or security. There is no return policy. And there is no expiration date.

Oh yeah, and just because we didn't manage to climb the tree in my front yard doesn't mean you won't manage this one. After all, this one is more important, and so you get extra help. Besides, maybe by the time you get back, I'll have nailed a couple of boards to the trunk to help us out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm Back

School's out, I have returned to full time work, and I successfully completed the 4 months of MoTab training school. All this means that I have returned to a less frantic existence. There was about a month in there when it seemed like I was booked solid every day from 6 am through 11 pm. Between writing papers for school and doing homework for choir school and trying to be nice to people at work in between and desperately attempting to make healthy food rather than resorting to burger kings dollar menu every day, I not only haven't had time to write, I haven't had any desire to. Now that I have been recovering for a month I have things to write about again and intend to return to this. I make no promises though, because it seems like its taking me a while even to get this short update posted. Ah well, time will tell. In the meanwhile, please enjoy this poem by John Donne that has become my favorite thing lately.


IN what torn ship so ever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of Thy ark ;
What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of Thy blood ;
Though Thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,
Which, though they turn away sometimes,
They never will despise.

I sacrifice this island unto Thee,
And all whom I love there, and who loved me ;
When I have put our seas 'twixt them and me,
Put thou Thy seas betwixt my sins and Thee.
As the tree's sap doth seek the root below
In winter, in my winter now I go,
Where none but Thee, the eternal root
Of true love, I may know.

Nor Thou nor Thy religion dost control
The amorousness of an harmonious soul ;
But Thou wouldst have that love Thyself ; as Thou
Art jealous, Lord, so I am jealous now ;
Thou lovest not, till from loving more Thou free
My soul ; Who ever gives, takes liberty ;
Oh, if Thou carest not whom I love,
Alas ! Thou lovest not me.

Seal then this bill of my divorce to all,
On whom those fainter beams of love did fall ;
Marry those loves, which in youth scatter'd be
On fame, wit, hopes—false mistresses—to Thee.
Churches are best for prayer, that have least light ;
To see God only, I go out of sight ;
And to escape stormy days, I choose
An everlasting night.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Roommates

(A mostly boring post, but skip to the end for some fun if it gets to be too blah blah blah...)

I have mentioned it before, about the insane number of roommates I have had. My current count is 83. Seriously, thats more than worth an honorary PhD in living with people. In fact, I challenge you to find anyone that's lived with more people. That's right, I put it out there, now start counting.

But I'm not complaining. Don't think for a second that I have regrets or grievances about my roommate experiences. And just because there are a few experiences I wouldn't choose to relive doesn't mean they didn't have just as much value as those experiences I would relive. In fact, I think my top ten worst roommate experiences taught me and shaped me more as a person than the entire sum of my good roommate experiences. And now is not the time and place for me to list those things, even if many of them have been running through my head for the past couple of days. I'm not worried about any type of character defamation, since those roomies that might be offended by such a list would have no way of finding my little blog. In fact, everyone who could find this page fits into my "positive roommate experience" category. Even if I don't for them.

And that's where things get interesting. I know there are a few roommates out there that would qualify me as a "worst experience", and I apologize to them and thank them for having put up with me as I was learning and growing. I know there are roommates out there who might even put me in the "best experience" list, and I thank them for the patience they had with me and the benefit of the doubt that they gave me. And maybe I'm just a clueless person when I say that 95% are the roommates I have had are people that I would be willing to live with again, since I know that 95% of them don't feel the same way about me. But this is all becoming very statistc-y sounding, and we know how I feel about statistics. So let me say this in another way.

I have learned so much from my repertoire of people. And when I meet new people, I can easily recognize similarities to former roommates that make it easy for me to talk to them or relate to them. I know that no two people are alike, but I know there are personality traits that are common.

I wish on a strange sort of level that I could get all those roomies together and let them meet each other. And some of them would recognize "that one" or "the other one" that they have heard about. And I could say "You have to meet this one, because she taught me this, and if she hadn't, we might not have been friends". Now I know this would be truly boring for most of them. But then some of them might really like each other. And others might really hate each other. And that would make it very exciting indeed.

And all of this is coming up because as I was sitting in rehearsal tonight I was thinking about two different roommates who came at close to the same time in my life. Both of them are musicians, sopranos, that I really enjoyed connecting with. We bonded over arias and art songs and hymns and music theory troubles. But we didn't really get much of a chance to sing together. Which is probably better, knowing the diva-like tendencies of sopranos. Maybe that's why we were able to be roommates and friends. One of them is in choir with me now. I am so grateful that she is there, even if we sing in different sections and hardly see each other, there is comfort in knowing that a familiar and friendly face will wave and smile when I need it. She has my back, she'll be my friend, and she'll make fun of me only in the most loving way when I screw up. The other is gone now. We won't get to sing together and have each other's backs or wave like maniacs from across the room (even though she would have been the first one to do so, in any situation). But at the same time, I sort of get the feeling we are singing together anyways. Because if the angels sing along with any earthly choir, its the one I'm in now.

Aaand there's where I get a little too emotional. So we'll end this entry with a little fun, because making jokes is how I cope.

83 roommates also means that there aren't many roommate stunts that I haven't pulled. Think about it, the fun times in college you had, doing ridiculous things with your roommates. I don't know why more grown ups don't have fun like that. Sometimes I hear my sister talk about late night roommate experiences and I really want to say "I did that too!", but I don't want to spoil her moment to be the goofy fun college student with crazy roommate stories.

Too bad tonight, though, because I need it. I need to relive a few of the best stunts and roommate moments of my career. So here goes:

*There was the year that "Santa" brought us all leopard print bras for Christmas. I don't know how Santa managed to find all our bra sizes without going through our underwear drawers, but he did. And so we put them on (over a t-shirt, under a sweatshirt, modesty first, we were at BYU after all) and ran to all the other girls apartments and flashed them.

*Late nights at the grocery store, because of one very strange boy who had no concept of how to strike up a conversation, we spent a whole year going to food for less and buying one banana plus a bag of bulk candy, and trying to make it total $1.47. The game ended when one of us succeeded, but it was all sorts of fun while it lasted.

*Breaking into 212 in order to steal back our TV. Oh, and all of their spoons, just for retribution. Spoons, you ask? It was well reasoned. What is a college boy's main dietary staple? Cereal. Try eating captain crunch with a fork.

*Speaking of Spoons, Spoons. And people that are the best at spoons. Or spooning. And sentence to picture. and coming home to general conference reruns on a movie sized screen at 2am.

*J, the narcoleptic friend, who fell asleep on the stairs, mid-race to the kitchen for ice cream. I kid you not. And the story is even funnier if I could tell it to you in person, because it involves the words "Thunk thunk thunk"

*Spiders that drop from the ceiling. Not fun initially, but the retelling involves all sorts of jumping and screaming. It never gets old.

* Mattress sliding.

* Only the greatest Roomie "Road Trip" of all time, ten days in Paris.

* The Bern-mobile, and wondering if a geo metro could make it up some of those hills in Provo. Good thing it was a stick shift.

* Remember when he said "I'm reading a book that night"? Yeah, that's still burnt into my memory. What would I have done without roomies...

* Making bread. Too much of it. And cinnamon rolls. And cookie dough. And all the late night talks that can happen with a good batch of cookie dough.

* Getting a hotel room for a weekend, even if its just in a neighboring city, for the escape.

*Facials, hair dye, boy bands, Michael Jackson's Thriller, and hairbrushes for microphones. Some things are timeless classics.

*I can think of more than a few practical jokes, involving everything from BYU catering services, Mary Kay ladies, and onions to name just a few.

* Four wheelers, farms, farm boys, and boxing gloves. Combine them for an evening.

* The time we found out I sleep walk. 'Nuff said.

* Too many bridal showers to count.

* Movie escape days. Two or three movies at the dollar theatre, some olive garden in between, and maybe some shopko candy to keep you company

* And speaking of olive garden, ordering specialty drinks like virgin strawberry daquiris when you are out with roommates.

* Or staying home and ordering in. Pizza, soda, and the 6 hour long Pride and Predjudice with Colin Firth. There is no better way to spend a reading day.

*Discovering how many hiccups it takes before a case is considered chronic. THen counting them.

*That night that "The Birds II" was on at 2:00 in the morning. And due to an inexplicable case of insomnia, we all watched it.

* Stealing particularly amusing advertisements off the walls of local community colleges.

* There was this one semester that none of the 6 of us slept in our own beds once. It was always out to the living room or camping out in one of the bedrooms. The one night someone did try to sleep in her own bed, everyone else just piled in there with her. I believe this is where the line "I'm Twisted, Sister!" originated.

*The pink mumu. And the album of pictures we filled with every member of the BYU 188th ward wearing it. As a graduation present, of course, because what makes a better memory than having picture of that one boy, the one you never got up enough nerve to ask out, wearing your Pajamas. She complained that her pajamas had been missing for the whole semester, but I'm convinced it was worth it.

* Finally, last but not least, too many inside jokes to count. Whether they are related to TV shows or posters we had on the wall or dumb things people said, or smart things they said, taken out of context. I could spend the rest of my life laughing simply from the words I hear around me that remind me of one of those moments.

And I should spend the rest of my life laughing. Because like I said, who else in the whole wide world has been lucky enough to have 83 roommates? 83 insane, smart, clever, funny, admirable, strong, beautiful, cocky, catty, trying, terrifying, sassy, amazing, admirable, wonderful witnesses to my failures and successes.

I'm pretty sure it's just me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Voices in my Head, Part Two: Confessions- in which I allow a few of the less prominent voices speak their mind

(It's spring break. I have a couple of midterms and a paper to get through, but while I am enjoying a week out of classes and working full time instead, I thought it would be a good time to let the writing take over. All sorts of my own thought come into my head when I'm working full time instead of listening to professors thoughts all day long)

... I was texting to a friend today about getting through the afternoon, and I mentioned the power that a little Dr Pepper and Neil Diamond can have on the 3:00 drearies. He didn't text back for a while, and I got nervous. I realized that in the 15 or so years that I have known this fellow musician, I have never admitted my love for Neil Diamond, and I got worried. Ashamed. Why have I hidden it all these years? Is it really such a terrible thing, to enjoy a little "Forever in Blue Jeans"?

(Train of thought derailment: my roommate has decided to come in and chat at me while I type this, very difficult to focus. I want to be kind. I really do like her, but sometimes she just babbles on and on.)

Anyways, the text conversation went basically like this:

Me:I can only do this job when there is an end in sight. Also, Dr Pepper and Neil Diamond help the afternoon fly by.

Friend:Neil Diamond???

Me: Sadly, Yes. A childhood staple. Cracklin' Rosie and Song Sung Blue.

.... One hour passes with no response...

Me: Can you still be my friend knowing that? You can always blame my character flaws on my parents. I know I do. :)

Friend: FOFLOL! Actually I love Neil...

(Train of thought derailment part two. Roomie has decided to fill out the Census. At 11:00 at night. She is asking me questions.)

The Neil conversation continued from there. About certain songs and albums. But my initial reaction to the whole situation (that of shame or hesitation) had me wondering. What other quirks do I have that the Committee Chairperson in my head squashes with a sense of guilt or pride or shame? Committee Chairperson (as mentioned in my previous post about voices in my head) is ruled by hymns and poetry. Committee Chairperson is sensible and would probably drive a sedan. Committee Chairperson wants nothing to do with Neil Diamond. Or Celine Dion. Now that the voice who directly opposes the chairperson has spoken out (and perhaps we should call him "Neil"), will others be so brave?

Anyone? Beuller?

Ah. There we go. A hand in the back of the room.
Oh look at that. It's Suzy Homemaker. We heard about her a little before. Suzy? What have you got to share?

I like pink. It can be done tastefully you know. Particularly as an accent color. And I don't care what psychologists say about gender stereotypes, little baby girls should wear little baby girl colors and little baby boys should wear little baby boy colors. Its not just about giving a child a clean slate, its also about teaching them social expectations and giving them a template to draw from. They can make their own choices, but they need to know what they are choosing when they do.

Alright, Thank you Suzy. Every fiber of my academic being and every fiber of my women's libber disagrees with you. But I suppose you are a part of this team too.

And speaking of women's libber, it looks like "Libby" has taken the opportunity to control the floor. She may wear a lot of camo, but she certainly does have a way of standing out when she is allowed to.

"I hate the fact that women get paid less than men for doing the same jobs in our society. More than that I hate the fact that so called "pink collar" jobs are as undervalued as they are. And mocked. Seriously, I would love to see some jerk of a CEO try and handle 8 babies for an afternoon. Don't whine at me about balancing millions of dollars or making sure you sell more wheaties than the next guy. Change 8 diapers, make 8 bottles, feed the children 2-3 at a time and get them all down for naps, then start over again all without ever sitting down or having a grown up conversation. That's right, Jerk, you wouldn't last 10 minutes in a "pink collar" job."

OK, well, Libby does tend to get angry. But you can see why that might be coming out this week. Lets see if we can change the tone a bit.

(Train of thought back on track- Roomie finished the census and went to bed. Thank goodness it wasn't the long form.)

Perhaps we should limit the voices to a few words, rather than letting them spew bitter diatribes. Let's move this along. Neil, did you want to jump in for a moment?

"I want to buy a Red car. Not sensible red. Cherry red. And fast. And fun. Like a Mustang."

Thank you Neil.

"Also, I happen to like Celine Dion. And sometimes I sing along with her. Especially that one album, you know, from our Junior year of college. With "Because you Loved Me" on it."

Alright Neil, maybe you have overshared. Insecure girl, did you have something to say, I couldn't tell if you were raising your hand or checking your hair... and what's your actually name? We always just call you "insecure girl".

"Um, yes, my name is Heidi and, um, well, speaking of Celine Dion, there was that guy from our junior year that used to serenade us with that song. I'm still wondering if he was interested in us and we were just clueless. Because how colossally stupid were we to let that one go..."

Which guy? Oh yes, the 6'4" pre-med Puerto Riccan with the luxurious locks of curly hair... Yeah, we all still wonder about him. I believe we have made him the responsibility of "Suppression Sarah"


Thank you, Suppression Sarah. Now please go tend to that... Oh wait, you have a few things to add? Well I suppose, make it quick.

"I like conforming."


"It makes my job easier, when we conform there is more to suppress immediately, but less to suppress in the long run. Conformity is relaxing. It's vacation."

OK then, Sarah, that is something for us to consider. Although clearly allowing this conversation at all is a less than conformist approach.

"Well, that's why I brought it up."

Hmmm, it's true. We can't let this go on for too long. Perhaps we have time for just one more confession before we head to bed. Let's see who has something to say...

Ah yes, Marsha, Mistress of Chaos, you rarely get a voice. One final thought for the night?

"I feel pretty balanced right now. You know how usually the car is a mess if the bedroom is clean and the bedroom is a mess if the car is clean? Yeah. Its about equilibrium. The kitchen is spotless, the living room is ordered, the car is carrying everything I need for the crazy days I have and the bedroom, well, its time to focus on some laundry. Its balanced though. So I'm not complaining. Chaos often begets creativity. You need that too. But once the inspiration is there, we have a clean and quiet place to work. And while we were frustrated at having to work full time through spring break, it feels good to turn the brain off of papers and tests and focus on silly things for a bit. Especially knowing that next week we can return to school and listen to other peoples thoughts for a few more weeks. It's balanced."

Thank you Marsha. I'm glad we got to end on a positive note.

Good night everybody!

(Insert Walton's "good night john boy" conversation here, using committee members names and titles.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Excuse me for a moment while I indulge in intellectual snobbery...

I see dumb people. I hear dumb people. I talk to dumb people. I'm so tired of dumb people.

I'm sorry dumb people. I'm sure you are nice. I'm sure you have sweet spirits. I'm sure you have pretty faces. I'm just not sure I have the energy to be your friend right now. It's not me, it's you.

It's an Alton Brown night.

(sorry guys, I thought this posted then it didn't also, this is definitely not directed at anyone I know on here, it's directed at people that I see every single day. They don't have access to this)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More FYI tidbits

Here's some general communication. As of right now, the plan for sunday morning is that you should watch for me as the amazon woman smack dab in the middle of the very back row. It's a lonely place, with no voices behind me, a different voice part to my right, and a sweet but very quiet lady on my left. But it seems to be where I have always and forever stood in a choir. I had hopes of being shorter than at least someone this time, but alas, it's just not meant to be. Maybe on the 21st... Or else during the sat am session of conference. Then again, it could even change again on Sunday morning.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The problem with losing that much weight is that when you finally do get around to shopping for clothes, everything looks that much better and you just want to spend that much more money.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catch Up!

It's been over a month. I'm not sure than an apology is what's in order (it's not like any of us is obligated to be here, reading and writing) and I certainly don't want to make excuses, since excuses would seem to diminish the things that have been otherwise occupying my time. It seems that all I can really do is offer a brief “catchup” post. I do want to continue the “happiness is” series, and I have all sorts of ideas, but time is at a premium and taking a little to hash through all of that seems far too burdensome right now. I simply don't want the writing to make me more anxious or stressed.

So here is the DL. School started up again. I was taking 18 credit hours, but a few of those seemed to be a waste of time, so I dropped down to 13 last week. I'm irritated with myself that I couldn't take it all on, but at the same time, better to get A's in fewer credits than C's in a while bunch. Especially since those classes I am taking are pretty intense. No breezing through like last semester. (Ha! My last semester self is laughing at that statement)

Choir is good. I would write pages and pages on it, but it is against choir policy for me to post anything, so I will have to leave it at that. If you want all the gory details, you should give me a call or take me to lunch. :)

Work is still work. I still resent my boss, I still love the kids, I still struggle with the parents. But my “part-time” status (really about 30 hours a week) makes it so that I rarely have to face off with the unpleasant bits. I go, I hold some babies and chat with some preschoolers, maybe study a little while they take naps, and I look forward to the day I will quit. After all, no matter what happens with school, I don't intend to go back to full time there. (now watch me have to eat my words on that!)

And speaking of the future, I still haven't heard anything about grad school. Frankly, you'll know when I do, because I will immediately start stressing about one of two things. Either I will become obsessive about finding a new job (that means no college acceptance) or desperate to figure out how to fund the next two years of my life (that would mean things are about to become expensive). I'm not sure which is more frightening to me. Right now, I just bounce back and forth between the two stresses.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happiness is knowing a secret

I think secrets taste like lindt chocolates. You know the kind you get a christmas with the creamy middle? Yeah, those. Most are just the milk chocolate kind. They're good, and you can probably down a couple throughout the day, but they are fleeting too, the richness only stays as long as the secret is still a secret, but somehow those never really last very long. Some of them are wonderful dark chocolate secrets that you like to savor for as long as you can, enjoying every bit of the bitter and the sweet. That kind sticks around for a while, and you really can't handle having all that many of them. Somehow, probably because the bitter is just that much stronger in the dark chocolate and that actually makes the sweet taste sweeter, you cling to them, and the flavor of it seems to last. Sometimes, they are the more unusual kind, like the peppermint or the coconut. Those always take a certain kind of person and a certain kind of day to enjoy them.

There are some secrets that you just burst to share, and there are some secrets that are healthier once they are shared. But the reality of life is that everyone has a few secrets that make them so unsure of themselves they hide them away. I don't really think we are as alone in those kinds of secrets as we think we are. In fact, I wouldn't call then secrets at all, I would simply call those "insecurities".

Because if we never share them at all, they aren't really secrets, now are they? Just like if all you ever do is stare at the chocolate or leave it sitting on your dresser, you never really get the fun of eating it and savoring it. Secrets have to be temporary things. Imagine if you got your friend the greatest birthday present, only to never have them open it. And imagine if you simply took them shopping and never got to choose something and wrap it up. Neither of them taste quite the same as selecting and wrapping a present and then anticipating the chance when they get to open it. You have to time things so that your secrets are your secrets for only as long as you can savor them and enjoy them.

Secrets to me are actually just wonderful evidence of friendship. You know how special you feel when your friend decides to trust you with a secret? And you know how great it feels to have a secret and to know just exactly the right person you are going to tell it to? Yeah, those are the kinds of secrets that taste just like chocolate. And those are the kinds of secrets that are really happy to have, because they mean that you mean something to someone, and because they means that someone means something to you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happiness is walking hand in hand...

This one is out of order. Sorry about that. It's not that I didn't have anything to say so much as I mixed up my days and sort of forgot about this line.

Oh HO! You are thinking... who is Nancy walking with "hand in hand"? (I should have said "with whom" but it sounded all sorts of pretentious.)

Well I hate to disappoint on the gossip front, but right now, its CS Lewis. Although since he is dead, that has the potential to be a bit of a grotesque image... So let's say its more that I am walking and his book is in my hand. Which actually proves to be grotesque on another front, because I have a hard time holding a book in my hands without reading it so I end up trying to read while I am walking causing me to run into things, people buildings, etc.

Yup, rough life.

Anyways. I love to read for a number of reasons. One is for the adventure and escape, thus the books like "Count of Monte Cristo" and "Harry Potter". Another is for humor, particularly the dry and witty kind that I wish I could just come up with so I glean one-liners from novels by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. The biggest reason I read though, is that I like to find people, especially published people, that agree with me. Or rather, that I agree with. And its especially fun if the person that I agree with is someone smart or respectable or both. Like CS Lewis.

So I'm reading a collection of his letters that were published together just a year or two ago. And one of the things that I came across was his discusion with a close friend on the concept of love. Which as you know if you've read for very long, I'm a little cynical about.

Hang on, we've been through this. It's not cynicism, it's simply a disbelief in the traditional concept of romanticism and a deep psychological need for control. Or something like that.

But we digress. CS Lewis, in the middle of a discussion of the various greek words for love (in the biblical context), points out that most of the cultural definition of love involves a concept of romanticism that is outside of our own agency, and that it simply doesn't make sense that we would be commanded to do something which we can not control. He concludes that real love can not be remotely the same as what we view as romanticism.

Now lest I offend you romantics out there, he also points out that real love must grow out of something, and often romanticism serves as the foundation for a relationship that eventually produces real love. So I suppose I do have some adjusting of my attitude on the whole thing. I can take correction, especially when it is well founded on philosophy and logic. And when it comes from CS Lewis.

Is this too rambly? Am I making any sense at all? Here's the sum-up. CS Lewis and I agree that love has to be a choice. We also agree that love as a lasting emotion grows out of love as a choice and an action. Its the exact same reason I want the movie "Princess Diaries 2" to end where the fiance admits he is not "in love" but declares that he will keep his commitments and follow through with the marriage and learn to love her over the years. I personally have always thought that was the absolute most "romantic" part of the whole movie. And now I see that CS Lewis would agree with me. That's very affirming. It's almost like he came along and took my hand and walked with me for a few minutes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happiness is two kinds of Ice Cream

I stopped eating Ice Cream back in November. It was the stats Milkshake thing combined with wintertime and a little stress and a sort of a push on the diet thing. I don't know exactly when the last Ice Cream I had was, I do know that things sort of came to a halt with that on the night I was packing to go to Thanksgiving, I thought I might like some Ice Cream, so I got it out to thaw, and then I got distracted and finished packing and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, the Ice Cream was still sitting out and more than a little bit soupy. I threw it away and hadn't bought any to replace it....

Until New Year's eve.

That's when I suddenly remembered about ColdStone. Not that I had forgotten that ColdStone existed, just that I had forgotten about ColdStone's holiday flavor. Dark Chocolate Peppermint.

Of course, the sudden recollection of it's existence merited an immediate trip to the local shop, just to reassure myself that it was still there. And it was. And I found a coupon for those take-out quarts of ice cream.

But when I went by in the afternoon to check these things out, I got stuck in like behind some sort of relief society group who was having massive difficulties choosing their ice cream. I stood there for an appropriate amount of time before I gave an audible exasperated sigh and walked back out. (I was going to be late for work if I had to wait any longer, and only one of them had managed to order yet.)

So I went back after work. I bought Dark Chocolate Peppermint mixed with brownies and Cake Batter mixed with cookie dough. I'm enjoying a little of it now. And maybe it has everything to do with the "B" in stats that means I will never have to take it again. Or maybe it's just because I have a bit more self control and a little less need for emotional eating. And maybe it has everything to do with the fabulous flavors I chose and the rich creamy ColdStone goodness. Whatever it is, Charlie Brown was right. Happiness is two kinds of Ice Cream.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band

OR maybe its just getting the part you wanted in the school band. And for some of us, its just getting any part at all in the school band.

Or in the church choir.

And I know it's probably getting old, but you may have to hear about this again. Because choir school starts on Tuesday, and I have to admit to feeling a little nervous.

Nervous? Why? I mean, You are IN, aren't you?

Well, yes. But IN doesn't always mean all that it seems to mean.

I mean, I was IN the music program at BYU, and still a certain voice teacher managed to tell me that there was "No natural beauty" in my voice. Which tends to make a girl second guess herself. I was, in fact, in and out of the program several times before I actually graduated out of it.

Plus, they keep sending these letters and emails, full of instructions and warnings and such. What if I screw this up? What if I sing out of tune, forget the words, can't find the right door to walk in, or park my car in the wrong lot?

This is waaaay more complex than the school band.

I know all I really want to do is keep my head down and sing. I'm certainly not one of those people that walks into a choir and tells the director how to run things. For all of the enjoyment I get out of certain diva-ism, all I really want is to be a member of the choir. Sure, in theatre I want a challenge, but in the choir, I want to blend (a near impossibility with my voice). I've seen enough obnoxious self-appointed backseat directors to know that I will be more appreciated as the quiet girl on the back row. (I'm always on the back row, I'm too tall to be allowed anwhere else) It's just that I don't want to screw that up. The goal this time is actually just to fly under the radar, do what I'm told, be prepared, and blend.

Blend? Me? I guess we'll just have to see, now won't we...

Happiness is learning to whistle, and tying your shoe for the very first time...

My grandpa could whistle, I can't. I'm actually a little ashamed of that. Grandpa's whistle was one of those sharp and clear and LOUD whistles that got everyone's attention. My whistle is weak, particularly considering I played the flute, it should be a little more solid than it is. And I can only whistle when I'm inhaling. Don't quite know why that is. In fact, sometimes when I'm driving all alone I try to practice whistling, but whistling while exhaling only leaves me gasping for breath. I feel fairly insecure about this gap in my musical ability, but it turns out its a fairly common thing for people to not be able to whistle. I know several people who have only figured out how by using coping methods similar to my whistling by inhaling. One good friend whistles out of the side of her mouth, and another person I know just blows air through her lips and pretends like there is sound coming out. It's not that Grandpa didn't try to teach me, in fact, thanks to him I can whistle a blade of grass and even tune it to varying pitches. That is a mad skill that I think makes all the difference for my lack of independent whistling.

But while we are on the subject of learning basic skills with our own coping skills, I should mention the tying shoes thing. My dad ties his shoes different than anyone else I know. He taught me his way when I was in 1st grade, and I did that for a few years before some little girl in my fourth grade class told me I was doing it wrong. I was very concerned, perhaps that I had committed a social atrocity by tying my shoes the wrong way, and so I asked her to teach me the real way. She did, and I blissfully continued my life thinking that I finally fit in properly. Until one day I saw my dad tying his shoes the old way, the way I had learned before. I am grown up enough now to realize that it really doesn't matter how you tie your shoes, as long as they get tied, and so now every time I tie my shoes, I find myself with options. Do I tie them my dad's way, or the normal way? How lucky am I that I know both!?

So why am I still ashamed of the whistling thing? I mean, is it really necessary to whistle with the best of them? I'll be just fine without it, just like I'll be just fine without being able to only raise one eyebrow at a time (even though I still desperately want to learn that), and I'm sure I'll be fine without being able to wiggle my ears, wear nail polish, run in a straight line, or put things in alphabetical order without singing the song. And when it comes to whistling and tying your shoes, I guess its less about how you do it as it is about actually being able to. And even if you can't do some of those useless things, you probably have a few other useless tricks up your sleeve.