Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh, bother!

I spent the whole night making Christmas cookies when I should have been packing! I move out of my apartment in less than 48 hours!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

By Popular Demand

This is the abridged and lightly edited (because I hate misspellings) conversation I mentioned earlier this week (copied and pasted from AIM logs):

lanoitarus: you really want to do this insanity huh
lanoitarus: why
areagar: because i believe in what i'll be teaching
areagar: i believe in the power the church's doctrines have to change lives
lanoitarus: i dont believe you
lanoitarus: i dont buy that shit for a second
lanoitarus: its too canned an answer
lanoitarus: all the time ive known you youve never given a canned answer and meant it
areagar: i'm doing it because i was sitting in my apartment one day watching hotel rwanda and thinking of joining the peace corps and god said to me "go on a mission"
lanoitarus: and then god said unto you, thous must count to three, three being the number thou shalt count...
areagar: you didn't want my canned answer
areagar: i'm just telling you how it happened
lanoitarus: i like it a bit better
lanoitarus: it has always seemed to me that the true purpose of missions is less to convert other people than to super-convert the missionaries themselves
lanoitarus: and while i can see why that would appeal to you
lanoitarus: it doesnt seem like a very good reason to spend 18 months who knows where
lanoitarus: i just dont frankly see why you would
areagar: the first time i can remember my dad ever hugging me was february 2001
areagar: the first time i ever remember my dad telling me he loved me, saying the words, was may 2003
areagar: whether i am right or wrong, i have long attributed my dad's improvement as a father and as a person to two things: his assignment as a bishop and the opening of the boston temple, both in fall 2000
areagar: i believe his work in the church changed him
areagar: i believe his weekly visits to the temple over the past 7 years have changed him
areagar: the same has happened to me in the past year
areagar: my last answer for why i am going on a mission: i like the temple
areagar: i wish everyone could go to the temple
areagar: so i guess i want people to become mormon so they can go to the temple
lanoitarus: i dunno what to say to that one
lanoitarus: glad youre doing what you want to do

A Lesson Learned

sour cream and onion Pringles + toothpaste = yuck (worse than orange juice and toothpaste)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Honest Truth

Last night an old friend asked me why I am going on a mission. When I gave him my reason, he said, "I don't believe you. That answer is too canned. In all the years I've known you, you've never said anything canned and meant it." I was pretty upset because my cliche answer was also honest. After a long conversation that was frustrating and emotional for me, I gave essentially the same answer I had started with but I said it in the form of a personal story. My friend seemed more satisfied, but I was confused because all I had done was restate my "canned" answer. What was different?

One of the first lessons I learned in my college writing classes was that every cliche was once original and meaningful, but overuse has robbed them of significance. The way for a writer to freshen a cliche is play on its original meaning, which requires you to know the context of its first use. Essentially, phrases are meaningless cliches when we forget the stories behind them. I keep that in mind when I write but apparently not when I speak.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cold Hands

I almost quit my job tonight. It snowed all day. Thinking tonight would be slow at work like last Saturday, when it snowed all day, Nick gave half the employees the night off. He gave me the option of staying home, but I said I would come, especially since he said we could close early. Well, the night turned out to be just as busy as any weekend night. We didn't make deliveries because 1) the roads were bad and 2) we were understaffed. At one point, Nick told me to stop answering the phones all together because we had more orders than he could handle without Andrew there to toss dough. Nick was so stressed out that he started swearing under his breath at the customers. He yelled at me because I didn't tell him to bake a roll, though I actually had told him. ("Nick, I need another roll." "I just took two out of the oven." "I know. I need another one." 20 minutes later: "You didn't tell me you needed a roll! Now I have to wait to get this order out!") He kept saying how much he hates people in Provo and blaming his stress on the customers. Really, it was his fault for telling everyone to take the night off. He hates having everyone come in and then sending them home early when it's slow. He thinks it's a hassle for us to come to work for only an hour or two and do nothing but fold boxes. Frankly, I would rather come in and be sent home early when I'm not needed than endure Nick yelling and swearing because we are understaffed. When the dinner rush was over, I had to wash dishes because the woman who does that took the night off. Washing dishes was particularly miserable because the restaurant's second hot water tank is not installed yet, and we run out of hot water often. Nick told me to scrub everything with cold water so there would be enough hot water to run the sanitizing machine, which meant I spent 5 hours with my hands in water that was barely above freezing temperature. I seriously considered quitting as I brooded in the dish corner, but by the time I left at 1 a.m., I had calmed down.

Friday, December 7, 2007

We Have a Christmas Tree

It is standing. It was standing last night, too, but it fell down this morning. Right after I finished vacuuming up all the pine needles. There are pine needles all over my car. My car smells like pine. Our living room smells like pine. I smell like pine and bleach and pizza. My pajamas have sap on them from when I picked up the tree this morning. Tomorrow we will decorate the tree. Tomorrow I will also light the menorah. Tuesday was the first day of Hanukkah, and I haven't lit the menorah yet. I dusted it off. I got out the candles. Then I slacked off. I'm a terrible fake Jew.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Once Upon a Time

I wrote poetry. This was always my favorite:


Sometimes all I want to do is run.
I throw my hair up with double elastic
To keep my Pantene-soaked strands together.
I change into my shorts—
They match the red wine leaves
At the base of our Japanese maple,
Just as ragged on the edges—
Unstretched elastic hangs loose,
Catching on my pelvic bones
Unlike my seven-year-old shorts,
My trainers blind, like sun on snow,
With newness;
They light the pavement
As I hop-skip into a jog.
I head south toward the cumulonimbi
There’s wind, cold and penetrating
The kind that makes heavy clothes
Seem useless as loose mesh.
Every few houses,
Out of the corner of my eye,
I can see wrinkled skin
And too-bright lipstick
Peeking from behind curtains;
I can see the near-dead women
Only because I know they’re there.
Twenty-two minus four.
Eighteen years—
Long enough to know these neighbors, their habits,
This street and town.
The rain comes suddenly,
As suddenly as the street disappears
Into a cluster of trees.
But the dead end has not stopped me since I was eight,
Since Mom said I could cross the street alone.
I barely let my toes touch
To keep from sliding on the wet leaves
On the other side of maples and oaks
The main road lies empty—
Buildings are the only watchers
In the center of town:
A local bank where I opened my first account
With Mom holding my eight-year-old hand
As my moon eyes looked up at the teller,
The white plaster
Seen through walls of glass
Where the Gap mannequins used to sport polos,
An Indian restaurant
Where my friends and I got food poisoning
The day after Thanksgiving,
Store 24, which closes at eleven,
Small shops I have never seen before
And probably will not see next time I visit home.
Every cartographic speck has its charms:
My town has peace,
The chance to be alone,
To run through the rain
In shorts that will slide off
Once water weighs them down,
And no one will see.
I quicken to escape pace.
I have a fistful of dripping track shorts
And another fist punching the rain,
Pumping to make up for my lazy legs and sore knees.
I feel the pull in the front of my leg,
My shin ripping away—
I forgot the custom arches in my new shoes.
I slow to a walk
But my knees buckle after six or seven steps.
I’m on my knees and one hand,
The other still clutching more water than fabric.
I roll my shoulders and neck
Feeling liquid fingers tap my back
I vomit.
Rolling onto my back
The rain massaging my eyelids
I see myself running.

One of my professors liked it because it included vomit. See what kind of an education I got!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The colors of the rainbow...

...so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of the people passing by.

Lately, I've been thinking about color. I guess I have always thought about color—ever since I was about 5 years old and my sister told me I could not wear a maroon sweater with a red skirt and pink hair clips because they clashed and never clashing again became my life goal. But besides making sure my bandana matches my shirt before I greet all those customers who are sticklers for color-matching pizza delivery girls, I have been thinking about color a lot.

A little over a year ago, for my final project in History of Creativity, I drew this somewhat morbid picture, Ophelia et Filius (Ophelia and the Son). At the time, I thought it was important that the only color be in the wounds of this generic Ophelia and Christ to emphasize that the Atonement makes us like our Saviour. I was adamant, too, about the simplicity of the picture and the lack of background because only Christ's connection to the sufferer was important. In the past few weeks, I have had the urge to draw a new version of Ophelia, vibrant with color. I've been wondering where the urge came from, and I've decided it stems from my mood and my perspective on life.

While I was in the UK last May, I wrote an essay about color and vision. For weeks I had felt that the world was a void; my life was meaningless, full of failure and stale relationships; and when I looked at people, plants, books, sunsets, all I saw was black even though I knew there were colors and shapes in front of me. After a week of hiking in Scotland and England, looking at the once friendly countryside from familiar mountain peaks and lake shores and trying to write profound truths in my journal, I realized, I still didn't see anything. At least, I saw no form, but I had begun to see color. I saw the silver of Loch Lomond at I sat in the hostel, the gray of the rock as I climbed Scafell Pike, the blue of the sky at the top of Helvellyn, and the green of the pastures along the Pennine Way. But I saw nothing more than color—no breezes blowing the grass by the lake, no newborn lambs in the fields as I had seen 2 years earlier in the same places. Color was something, but it wasn't the detail I needed for my writing, nor the experience I wanted from my trip. I tried to see form in the following month, but I never did.

Now, 6 months later, I am not only seeing color and form but desiring to create them. I wish I understood how and why these changes take place in me. I wish I controlled them better. I wish a lot of things. But right now, mostly, I wish I had pastels to draw a picture of all the colorful gifts God has given me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

People I Never Knew

My 5 year high school reunion was a little over a week ago. I didn't go. Awkwardly greeting a bunch of people with whom I was never really friends and watching them get drunk wasn't worth flying 2000 miles. But I spent a lot of time last week thinking about high school. Looking through my yearbook brings back memories, not of what was happening when each photo was taken, but of what happened in the yearbook room the night we designed each page. And reading everyone's parting words of friendship and love, judging their (in)sincerity, reminds me of how those relationships began. Oddly enough, the people I have come to love deeply are the same whose existence I preferred to ignore at first. I wonder how many people I have met in my life and immediately discounted. Now I am beginning to wonder if I should have gone to the reunion.