Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Do I like my job?

Can someone please tell me the real answer to that question? I think I might secretly hate my job, and by "secretly" I mean "subconsciously." Every time someone asks me how my new job is going, I say, "Oh, I love it," but I sound like I'm forcing down liver and trying to tell some young, unwitting child that it tastes good. Then I laugh and say, "I don't sound like I love it, do I? It's just draining." And I am sincere--I really do think I love it, but everything about my affect says otherwise. Today I woke up in a good mood (which was miraculous after my failure to apply any of my healthy coping skills during these several weeks of depression) but my good mood was ruined as soon as I listened to the voicemail asking me to work tonight. It's not like I had anything else to do. I cleaned the bathroom this morning, went to the temple, did laundry, bought groceries, and the only thing I planned to do this evening was clean the kitchen, so I'm not sure why I was so upset about working unless, of course, deep down in my soul, I hate my job. I don't know, I don't know.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Welcome and wanted"

Is that a common phrase? I seem to be hearing it a lot in the past week. A few days ago, I was talking to some friends about how I've been feeling a little extra depressed lately because it is the holidays, which is a hard time of year to feel like your life has a gaping wound in it. When I left, one of my friends sent me a text that said, among other things, "You are always welcome and wanted here." The next day I was in the temple doing some initiatories, and the work was feeling especially significant to me because I was proxy for 8 women who were born in Boston in 1871. (I was born in Boston!) I felt, distinctly, that someone (or perhaps many) on the other side of the veil were saying, "You are always welcome and wanted here." Then, today, I heard it again. My best friend Lizzy was trying to convince me to make a last minute trip to Arizona to spend the holidays with her family since I have elected not to go to North Carolina with my parents. I just hate traveling at the holidays. Other people can travel, they can visit their families, and I will pick up their shifts and get overtime pay. It's not so bad. But Lizzy assured me that if I change my mind for New Years, I am always "welcome and wanted." So I just wonder: what's up with people using that phrase this week? Or do people use it all the time and I simply never notice because it has never held significance to me?--like in high school when I thought I had never heard a word until it appeared on my vocabulary list and then it seemed to pop up a dozen times in my favorite book. Funny how we make things invisible or important.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Little Ball of Stress

That's what I am these days--well, not a ball of stress so much as an upright, walking, talking, human-looking container of stress, but I keep the expression I adopted in the days when stress continually forced me to curl up in a ball and try to hide in the nearest corner. I feel like banging my head against a wall when I go to church every Sunday, which is how I felt for several months last year when my mission papers took forever to go through and then I was told I couldn't serve a regular full-time mission because it would be too stressful for me and then I had no idea what to do with my life because I was certain the Lord had some work for me to do and I had really thought it was a mission. Yeah, I feel that way now. There is something I'm missing, something I'm supposed to be doing or leanring or some significant event is looming, but I can't quite see it through the clouds right now. And I want to bang my head against a wall to try and force the answer out of the depths of my mind, like maybe cracking my skull will release the pressure my thoughts are building up and then all the answers will be free to float lightly through the air where I can look up and see them. I feel like shaking myself and yelling, "Wake up and figure it out already!" But patience, patience. I actually did bang my head a little on the desk during the closing prayer in Sunday School. I also cried several time in church and afterwards today. The only meeting in which I did not cry was Sunday School, mainly because I was teaching it.

Two days ago, a good friend asked me to do something for her that I simply cannot do. I mean, I could do it, and it is tempting to do it because she wants me do it so badly to "solve" one of her problems, but I can't do it because I know it will solve nothing. In fact, it will perpetuate a gross lack of communication between her and another friend and aggravate the problem at hand. But she doesn't see the situation the way I do and insists that I can be the solution to her problem. I have done everything I can think to do for her, and now I am stressing myself out wondering if there is more, if I have missed something that will help her.

Then there are boys. I go through periods when I embrace modern society's gender role reversal during courtship. I happily (though not easily) ask out the boys that I like until, after a few months, I grow tired of it and wish I lived back when everyone knew that it was the man's responsibilty to pursue the woman and fewer people put off courtship and marriage the way they do now. Right now I am at that point where I am starting to get frustrated. I am currently interested in 3 guys. I don't know which one I like best because they are all quite different and I like and dislike different things about them. I suppose the solution to this is to go on dates with all of them so I can decide how much I really like them. I don't want to ask them out, though--I want them to ask me out. Sadly, I have never been successful in getting the guys I like to ask me out. Some girls are so good at that. But not me. Alas and alack and woe is me and pout, pout, pout.

Of course I am still enduring the adjustment to my job, and I have moments when I know I will get through it and love it and moments when I feel like I'm going crazy.

So while I cried in church today, I decided to ask for a blessing. I thought of several people I might ask, and couldn't decide on one. Then my home teachers, who never bother to talk to me outside of their short monthly visit and whose names I cannot always remember, decided to come over, and I thought, "Maybe I will ask them. It is, afterall, their responsibility to use their priesthood to meet my needs, and perhaps I need to give them this chance to be better than the sub par home teachers they have been thus far." I decided I would ask them if, during their visit, I felt like they were sincerely concerned for my well-being. I did not feel like they cared. They talked to me about the Red Sox, and, while I love the Red Sox, the conversation was not even close to meeting my needs and didn't show much effort on their part to determine my needs. Then, despite their failing my little show-me-your-sincerety test, I asked for a blessing anyway, and I'm glad I did. It is interesting to receive a blessing from someone who knows nothing about you because you know that what they say is pure inspiration, uninfluenced by their knowledge of your situation. And so I heard the words of the Lord, speaking directly to me through the voice of a young man I don't know, and it removes none of my stressors but helps me remember the gifts God has given me to help me deal with it all.

And as I have expelled many long and audible sighs, the kind that shake your whole body, while writing this, I realize I am worn out, and it is time to eat and sleep because these most primitive acts are the most comforting right now.

Current song: "For the Beauty of the Earth"

Monday, November 17, 2008


The past few weeks have been rough. I have a love-hate relationship with my new job at the center for women with eating disorders. I love it because I love the women. Every day I look at them and think, "You are so beautiful, and you have no idea!" There is one little girl who looks like she would crumble into dust if you poked her, but her big eyes will melt you quicker than a stroll on the sun's surface. Watching the women at meals is heartwrenching--the anxious trembling, the sullen faces, the sidelong glances at the bacon as though it will suddenly snap to life and attack them! Part of me wants to grab the bacon off their plates and stuff it in my mouth just to take away the pain I see in their eyes and slumped shoulders. But of course that wouldn't help them.

I wonder sometimes if I can handle such an emotionally stressful job. I am not the only one who wonders. A week ago, my Relief Society President came by to see how I was doing, and I had to admit I was miserable. I had been taking care of a lot of people (at work and elsewhere) but neglecting myself, and no one else seemed to be taking care of me, so I had a lot of unmet needs. Training on all the shifts (morning, eveing, graveyard) threw my sleep schedule out of whack, and being tired is no help for managing my mood. This morning, I was so tired that when my alarm went off, I started crying, cried myself back to sleep, and missed my shift at the temple. When I finally woke up, I spent the day consciously combating the flood of guilt I felt for letting down the other temple workers on my shift. So I don't know if I can do this, but one of the other care techs (that's my job title) said it takes about two months to settle in, and if I can survive that long, I'll be fine. My therapist thinks this job will be good for me and I'll be good at it, and she's the expert, right?

Segway to something unrelated: I had to work yesterday morning, so I missed church. Luckily, my friend Matt let me tag along to church with him in the afternoon. He attends the ward for single adults over 30. I had a fascinating experience there. In Relief Society, for several minutes, I watched a woman pick her nose and roll the mucous around between her fingers. All I could think of was what I have heard my dad say many times about the older single adult wards back home: "There's a reason some of these people aren't married." In the past, I have found that statement offensive, but provided it is not overgeneralized, it's accurate. I mean, come on, picking your nose and playing with your snot, in public no less? Really? Really?

Despite buger lady and several mildly offensive political comments during the Relief Society discussion about the "signs of the times," I enjoyed church. Mostly, I think I enjoyed going to church with Matt. These days, I go to church alone because my roommate is always ready to leave earlier than I am. Also, even though I have plenty of friends in my ward, I feel lonely at church. There was something about going with Matt--walking into Sacrament Meeting with him, seeing him waiting for me outside of the Relief Society room, sharing a hymnal and using his knee as the "book rest"--it all felt comforting somehow.

Wow, I really didn't realize how lonely I've been lately. Sad, sad. Bedtime now because sleep solves all problems (I'm only half joking).

Current songs: "Life in Technicolor" and "Lost!" by Coldplay

Organization: An Open Letter

Dear unauthorized viewer of my DVDs,

Despite the fact that I don't know who you are, you are welcome to watch my movies, but please put them away properly. My movie collection, which I keep alphabetically by title, is one of the only organized areas of my life, and I need it for my sanity. For your reference the alphabet is ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. This means that The Sum of All Fears does not belong between Bride and Prejudice and Bridge to Tarabithia, nor should Legally Blond be between Hook and Hotel Rwanda, as I found them this afternoon. If you would prefer to use the Greek alphabet, alphabetization by director, chronoligical release date, or some other organizational system, please discuss your ideas with me and I will reevaluate my current practices. Thank you for your consideration.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Little Justice

I found out that, while Bramble was re-elected to State Senate, he did not retain his position as majority leader. As hard as I have tried over the past few days to stifle my childish response to this, I give up and have one word now: sucker! But, to be completely serious and considerably more mature, I doubt this experience has changed Bramble, but perhaps it is at least part of a series of experiences that will humble him. We all need those experiences that force the pride right out of our bodies in beads of anxious, God-fearing sweat. Myself included.

Current songs: various Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas music (kind of blends together into one long song). I'm going to the TSO concert in Salt Lake this Thursday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Several people asked me today if I blogged about the election results. (These days every conversation I have with people seems to involve them asking me if I have blogged about something or telling me I should do so.) Really, I was avoiding talking about the election because an exhaustive email discussion over the past week with some friends about Proposition 8 has left me disgusted with politics. Nonetheless, here's what I think.

McCain's speech was excellent, and I hope the Obama haters will take a lesson from McCain's gracious attitude. Why can't candidates act like that during the race?

I am disappointed that RaDene lost and Bramble won. Maybe I will egg his house. (Just kidding, but maybe someone else will do it now that I've planted the idea. I am still amazed at the impact of my little voice.)

I believe the potential for good equals the potential for evil in every person and in every situation. When I was growing up, whenever some adult talked to me about reaching my potential, I thought, "Which one?" (Sometimes I think I fear to use my influence because I know that I have the power to hurt as much as to help--and it's far more power than I like to admit or want to have.) We have just chosen which candidates we will allow to show us their potential, and now our elected officials will decide for themselves to work towards either their potential for good or their potential for ill. I like to hope that the leaders we don't like and in whom we have little faith will surprise us. I find most people surprise me in a good way when I give them the chance.

Current song: "How to Be Dead," Snow Patrol

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grumble Grumble

That rain and thunder outside my window right now, that's my mood spilling out of my head and chest and climbing into the sky. I have been tired and stressed and grumpy for the past week and a half. Despite all the obvious mercies the Lord has extended me, I continue to sulk.

Mercy number one: Last Sunday, though my Sunday School lesson was ill-prepared and my mood was uncontrolled enough that I snapped at the class for being late, one of the young men who does not usually come to church appraoched me and said, "That was a really good lesson. I was surprised." "You didn't think I'd be a good teacher?" "No, it's just that usually Sunday School sucks, but that was really good." Then he walked with me almost all the way to Relief Society, discussing what we had talked about in Sunday School. So despite my frustration, I achieved my goal, which is always to reach the one person who needs the most help. (I don't know if he needs the most help, but I'm calling my lesson a success anyway.) But of course it was none of my doing because I was too grumpy to say anything of consequence on my own. In fact, I am surprised the Lord was even able to use me to convey a message to someone else, but whatever.

Mercy number two: On Monday, my first day of training at my new job, I was remarkably not overwhelmed or stressed at all. It is impossible that I de-stressed myself.

Mercy number three: On Wednesday, I received a very nice and unexpected phone call of sympathy and encouragement.

Mercy number four: Yesterday, I received a postcard from two old friends. They aren't on vacation or anything--they were just on their way to the movies and saw a stand with "postcards which screamed out to us 'send me to Anna Eagar!!!'" For a brief moment, I felt loved, undeserving as I am in my current state of hating the world.

Mercy number five: Last night, when I was thinking, "Gee I read need to do something more interactive tonight than watch a movie, but I really don't have the emotional energy to organize something," Lizzy invited me to play games at her apartment.

Yet I continue to feel unloved and unloveable and irrationally grumpy, with the strong urge to break something. Actually, what I really want to do is cook dinner with someone and sit down and eat together and ask the other person how their day was, but I won't because I am too busy wallowing. So today I will sleep, and tomorrow I will consider putting myself back together.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday School

Some weeks, preparing my lesson is so easy. Other weeks, I feel like banging my head against the wall. I have read the chapters for this week (3 Nephi 12-15) several times but can't seem to come up with anything to say. I kind of want to just read aloud and leave it at that. I mean, Christ is speaking to the Nephites in these chapters, so what more can I really add? Do I think I can explain the gospel better than Jesus himself can? So what do I say? I am also considering singing hymns for the entire 40 minutes, but I am pretty sure most of the class would not enjoy that (except, perhaps, if I was performing solo, in which case, I would not enjoy it). I have to give some sort of lesson, and it's not coming together, so we're trying something new: I'm going to blog it. That's right, I'm using this post to brainstorm my lesson, so here goes. My apologies to my readers who aren't LDS.

3 Nephi 12:13 reads, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." In my 24 years as I Mormon, I'm sure I've been asked at least a dozen times what it means to be "the salt of the earth." Yet, I can't actually remember the answer to that question--maybe I never actually answered it. As I was reading the verse today, something clicked. Salt is a preservative. To be the salt of the earth means to preserve the earth or to save it. In the Bible story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the righteous people can literally save the cities simply through their existence. Abraham and God have a whole discussion that results in God saying that if He can find 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, he will spare the cities. God destroys the cities after sending Lot and his family away. When Lot's wife looks back to the city, she becomes a pillar of salt. Lot's family was the salt that was preserving the cities. Lot's wife seems to have "lost her savor." So how are we saving the earth? How am I saving the earth? Are we? Am I?

3 Nephi 13:25 reads, "take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than rainment?" (The next several verses continue in the same vein, and we will probably read them all in class.) Here, Jesus is speaking to the twelve apostles. Their work is so important that the Lord really will provide food, clothing, money, or whatever they need, and they do not need to concern themselves with it. Most of the rest of us, however, still have to earn a living so that we can eat, but the point is that if we focus on the work the Lord has for us, he will take care of our needs.

As I have mentioned before, I have anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder. I am pretty stubborn about taking my medications, by which I mean I only take them when I am in the depths of despair and feel like curling up into a ball and camoflouging myself among knotted piles of blankets. I don't like to think that I need a drug to fix me. Several weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about the stigmas surrounding medication for mental disorders. She said to me, "You know, I just figure it's better for everyone if I take my medication. Without it, I'm just not a functional member of society." I thought about that for a long time. It kept me up at night. When I am functioning, I am highly functioning. God gave me gifts that allow me to make amazing contributions to my society, but I am only able to use them when I get over my pride and all my other little hang ups, when I stop concerning myself with my "rainment," so to speak. If I'm curled up in a ball, sulking about not wanting to take my medications, then I'm not fulfilling the Lord's purpose for me. I know what I need to do, so I just need to get over myself and do it!

Ask yourself, "Where are my hang ups? What is keeping me from doing the work God has for me?" Then get over it.

So there are some of my muddled thoughts. What else, what else? I am still seriously considering singing hymns for the entire class, even if I have to do it solo.

Current song: "More Holiness Give Me" (totally singing this for the opening hymn tomorrow)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Feel Like Crap

Any of 3 things can solve this: sleep, mood stabilizers, a declaration of love from the man of my dreams. Can you say "naptime"?

Current songs: all of U2's Rattle and Hum. I especially like the beginning of "Helter Skelter" when Bono says, "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. Now we're stealing it back."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Humor Me

Okay, so I am slightly calmer than I was when I wrote my post a few minutes ago. I have a question. I have been thinking about it all day and have come up with several answers, which I may or may not share at a later time. This is not a rhetorical question--I really want your answers. To those of you who do not know me: Why do you read my blog? Most of you started reading it because of the Bramble post, but why continue to read it? I had a professor who said that people are naturally voyeuristic--that's why we write and read novels (or blogs). But why is that true? What do we get from examining other people's lives, especially lives as mundane as mine? I am particularly curious to hear answers from people who don't like me. The people who do like me could give that as their answer--you relate to me, you like my writing style, you simply like me. But if you don't like me, why would you read what I write? It seems like a waste of time to me, but you're reading, so you obviously don't think it's a waste of your time. I honestly have been thinking about this all day as well as off and on since I acquired my extended readership. I can speculate, but I don't want speculations. I want to hear your actual reasons.

I'm Judgemental

So are you. Let's both just get the hell over it already.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Another Manic Monday?


  • On Saturday, I asked my super cute coach on a date (for this coming Saturday, and he said yes).
  • I was totally in control of my spending when I went to the Park City outlet mall this weekend. I only bought pieces if I could use them to put together outfits with other clothes I already own.
  • Yesterday, I baked. We hosted Sunday treat night at our apartment and I made peanut butter cookies and coffee cake.
  • Instead of staying up late playing games with my friends last night, I went to bed early enough to be rested and alert for my temple shift this morning.
  • I spent five hours organizing my room today. I rearranged the bed, my desk, and several other pieces of furniture. My bed is now prepared with flannel sheets and a down comforter to fight the winter chill with minimal impact on my energy bill. All my clothes are clean and put away, except for the ones in the mending hamper and the pile that I am saving for the day when my stomach miraculously returns to its once flat state with the defining line down the middle.
  • Vegetables won out over coffee cake and somehow ended up filling my tummy for lunch.
  • I was offered a job today, as an aide at a residential treatment center for women with eating disorders. They rejected me a year ago. I accepted the job, of course.

Whenever life goes this well, I wonder if my mind is about to be swallowed by that familiar black cloud of depression that follows the brisk winds of mania so closely. But this doesn't feel like mania. I don't know what this is.

Current songs: all of the Viva la Vida album by Coldplay but "Strawberry Swing" and "Violet Hill" in particular

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Five Things

I think I am supposed to complete this (yes, KTB?).

Ten years ago I
1. was failing Honors Freshman Physics.
2. played field hockey and ran track.
3. could not talk to boys. Ever.
4. wore my brother Matt's soccer jacket to school every day.
5. had amazing girl friends (and I still have them!).

Five things on today's to-do list:
1. work at Nick's
2. cheer on my super cute coach in his intramural football game
3. buy orange juice, bread, cream cheese, and lettuce
4. call Lizzy
5. work on my Sunday School lesson

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. strawberry Fruit Roll Ups
2. chocolate frosted doughnuts
3. smoothies
4. Cheez-Its
5. cheese

Five places I have lived:
1. Belmont, MA
2. Tokyo, Japan
3. Provo, UT
4. Orem, UT
5. world of pure imagination

Five jobs I have had:
1. research assistant, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joining Lab
2. assistant to the president, Fusion Optix, Inc.
3. tutor/supervisor, Brigham Young University Publication Lab
4. early morning custodian, Brigham Young University
5. kitchen worker/delivery driver, Nicolitalia Pizzeria

Five pet peeves:
1. people saying they'll call and then not calling
2. people not putting the DVDs/CDs back in their cases
3. hypocrisy (in myself and others)
4. being left out of secrets
5. people letting the food dry onto the dishes so that it won't come off in the dishwasher

Five things that bring me joy:
1. working in the temple
2. cute clothes
3. the way Lucas laughs, then stops and thinks for half a second before laughing some more
4. watching/helping people learn
5. hugs

Five people whose business I want to know (i.e. tag, you're it):
1. Lizzy
2. Caranine
3. Deja
4. Annie
5. Liz

Current song: "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid," Offspring

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Topher, age 2, said the family prayer tonight: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank thee for Jesus...and Bob the Builder..."

Current song: "Nobody," Five for Fighting

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yesterday, I decided to trim my layers all by myself. Then I decided to do it with my hair wet, even though I always cut my hair dry. Sadly, I neglected to consider that when my hair dried, it would be shorter than I thought, and I gave myself some pretty awful bangs. Bangs make my face look chubby and young--in fact, if I parted my hair down the middle, I would look exactly like I did when I was 14. Awesome. Now if only I had those tapered acid washed jeans that I loved at that age. (I wish my sisters would have told me not to wear their old clothes since I am so much younger than them. Let's just say I preempted the 80s comeback...way back in 1998--I'm so fashion forward!)

Happily, hair grows. In 3 or 4 weeks, my layers will be the length I wanted them to be. And I still won't own tapered acid washed jeans.

Current song: "Better," Regina Spektor

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Avast, me hearties!

Arrrr ye all aware September 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Current song: "Little People" from Les Miserables

Conspiracy Theory, or Like Father Like Daughter

For the past couple weeks, a political activist has been recruiting me to his cause--to purge the corrupt government in Utah and the nation. It has been both stressful and entertaining.

The first time I talked to him, the long-winded pest woke me up from a nap and took an hour and 15 minutes of my sleepy time to talk about Bramble's evils. At the 45-minute mark, I informed him that I had been taking a nap and wanted to get back to it, but he didn't get the hint--too subtle, I guess. In the end, all he wanted was my email address so he could add me to a political discussion group. I gave it to him, immediately setting a filter to route all the emails to their own little folder where they are out of the way. I actually read all the emails but with a healthy dose of skepticism.

He has some crazy stories about Bramble. My guess is that they have at least some basis in fact, and I think Bramble needs to be exposed for the creep he seems to be. However, I have only my one experience with the pompous senator and will not pass on hearsay that I cannot verify, especially since I suspect personal injury affects my informant's rationality.

Mr. Pesky Crusader called me repeatedly last week and emailed me when I didn't answer my phone for the third or fourth time. I told him I would call him the next day, but that, if he was going to talk my ear off, it would be on my time and not in the mornings before I get up or on Saturday night when I am busy having a social life. (I wasn't actually busy having a social life on Saturday night--I was preparing my Sunday School lesson--but, as I am 24 and single, I should have been at the movies or playing mini golf or something. No need to tell him that, though.) He wrote, "I mean to be very sensitive to your time needs. My first calls to people often go long because there is so much history that most people have never heard of." Lies! My phone call with him the next day was even longer than the first!

Then, last night, he wanted to meet me in person. Jellyfish that I am, I agreed. He said he likes to meet people face to face so they can decide whether to work with him or say, "This is not the man I talked to on the phone." Little did he think seeing him in the flesh would convince me that he is delusional.

The most ridiculous part of the evening:

"There's someone I want you to meet. Are you familiar with 9/11 Truth Theory?"

"I don't know the details, but I've heard of it." The theory posits that US government operatives blew up the World Trade Center to incite a war with the Arab nations.

"What do you think of it?"

"Well, my father is one of the most respected metallurgists in the country, and he wrote the definitive article on the collapse of the World Trade Center. And I tend to trust my father." Apparently, he didn't get the hint. Too subtle again?

He introduced me to Steven Jones, the ex-BYU physics professor and leading proponent of 9/11 Truth Theory (I can't decide what to link to, so just Google him), who immediately connected me to my father.

"Your father and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things."

"I'm aware." I miraculously refrained from saying, "That's because my father is a rational man and you are a fool."

"You say hi to your father for me. And tell him I was a bishop, too."

Brilliant. Way to win me over to your cause.

I have always considered myself much like my father, for good and for bad. At this moment, I became aware that my recent experiences have established one more commonality: people will listen to me because I am smart and honest, and I can trust myself enough to handle the criticisms and personal attacks from people who disagree with me. Another breakthrough to discuss in therapy!

Current songs: all of the London Calling album by The Clash, but "Guns of Brixton" in particular

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Think I'm Funny: Flag Football

I'm playing intramural flag football this semester. That in and of itself is hilarious to me. I spent most of our first practice laughing at the thought of myself flailing about in an actual game. I spent the second practice trying to make our coach Lucas laugh because he was acting way too serious to be coaching a lower division intramural team.

Lucas: All right, we're going to run a 2. Do you remember which one that is?
Lacey: In and out! In and out!
Me: Down and in! Down and in! The other one's a burger joint!

Lucas, inexplicably, found this sidesplitting.

Current song: "Insignificant," Janelle Lamb (yeah, you don't know her and won't find her on Google)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Solved Mysteries


Current song: "Flat Foot Floogee," Benny Goodman

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

Who names the hurricanes? I want that job.

Current song: the SPAM jingle (yeah, don't ask)

P.S. Don't forget to join the discussion on my new blog.

Tell All Your Friends!

I have a new blog. It is political--as political as I can stand to be, anyway.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


All summer, I have been asking for fewer hours at work. I only wanted 3 shifts a week, but I have been working 4 or 5 or even 6. When anyone can't come in, I am the first employee Nick calls to cover the shift. Now that we've hired a general manager, I am finally getting the minimal hours I requested: 2 shifts this week and 1 shift next week. I have started scheduling productive activities to fill my new free time so I won't inadvertently spend all day watching Law & Order reruns. (They always suck you in by starting the next episode while the credits are rolling from the previous one!) But it occurred to me tonight that I feel valuable at my job, and, knowing my irrational brain as well as I do, I anticipate feeling worthless in the next few weeks as I discover (gasp!) that Nicolitalia Pizzeria can survive without me. I guess, since I am prepared for the feeling, I should be better able to combat it. Still...

Current song: "Yeah," Usher (I actually hate this song, but, when I worked early morning janitorial at BYU, I always danced to it while I mopped the bathroom floors. It was on at a party I went to tonight.)

Friday, September 5, 2008


Shaant and I used to walk down the streets of Manhattan looking for Indian restaurants full of Indian customers or waiters on break speaking Italian to each other outside an Italian restaurant. That's how you know you'll get good food. Tonight, I was comforted to find that, even in Provo, I can get Chinese food delivered by a Chinese man.

Current song: Polonaise, Chopin

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Becoming Jane (not the movie, which I found lacking)

A few years ago, my British Novel professor told me I was like Jane Austen. I can't remember why he said it, but I do remember that I was offended for several class periods because I don't like Austen (blasphemy from an English major, I know). Her novels bore me. They are all the same. Tonight, however, finding myself in a situation that smacked of Austen, I felt some appreciation for her deft portrayal of Victorian manners and romantic intrigue.

I was driving with a new friend in my car (it may as well have been a horse-drawn carriage!). We were on our way home from visiting a (male) friend. I casually asked her what she thought of said friend--at least I sounded casual, though I was actually digging for information, which turned out to be easy to unearth. She admitted to having a crush (as she put it) on our friend and asked if I thought he liked her, too. I replied that I did not know him well enough to read him accurately and that the way to tell if a member of the opposite gender likes you is to observe whether that person treats you differently than others of your gender. She then explained that she thinks he likes her and how she can tell, and asked me what she should do about it. I told her that if I were her--not to say she should do this, but it is what I would do--I would be forward with him about it. We chatted about what exactly she should say, and she decided to call him when we got home. 

What makes this a truly Jane Austen experience is that I have a romantic interest in the man I told my friend to pursue! Now, I won't take my own advice in this situation because I have no reason to believe that he has interest in me, so to spill my feelings all over the table in front of him would be more of a risk than I am willing to take. From what she said, I think it plausible that he has feelings for her, but we will soon see whether she was only reading optimistically into insignificant details. She is supposed to report to me tomorrow.

Coincidentally, earlier tonight, one of my friends said, "Anna, pick a boy, and we'll set you up with him." I said, "I've already picked one, but I don't think he'll have me," to which my friend said, "How very Jane Austen!"

Current song: "I Could Write a Book," the one by Harry Connick Jr.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Politics? Me?

Last week, RaDene, Bramble's opponent in the upcoming election, came into Nicolitalia and asked Nick to have me call her (I wasn't working). Apparently, she wants me to get involved in her campaign. When Nick told me, I just laughed. Me? Choose to get involved in a political campaign? Definitely one of the funniest things I've ever heard! 

But I've been thinking about it. Nick said it could open doors I don't yet know exist, and Shaant, my best friend from back home, said, "Look, life just dealt you a way cooler hand than the one you've been playing lately. Besides, it's been a long time since you did something ridiculous." It's true, but the ridiculous things I used to do were more along the lines of spontaneously drawing big yellow smiley faces and taping them to apartment doors or baking cookies and sending them to friends on the other side of the country. Besides, after meeting Bramble, there's no way I'll vote for him--I'll vote for RaDene--but there's a difference between choosing to do something yourself and telling other people to make the same choice. So I read RaDene's whole website--including the part that explains how to pronounce her name. From what I read and from meeting her briefly, I could tell people to vote for her. 

I was worried at first that she doesn't have enough experience since she has been a full-time mom for so many years, but she has the educational background for politics and plenty of community involvement. And, you know, who is better suited for leadership than a person who can raise healthy, happy children and keep their family well enough in order to balance family and community activity? I know a lot of parents who can't do that (I'll bet we all do). Besides, it's not like she's running for President of the United States. As my roommate said, it's like that first "real" job--you apply for dozens of positions, and everyone tells you you need experience but no one will give you the experience. What you really need is to be an intelligent decision-maker, a fast learner, and a dedicated servant (in the best sense of the word). RaDene's community involvement and personal life convince me we should take the risk and break the Catch-22.

I suppose I should call RaDene now that I've decided to help her campaign. I wonder what she wants me to do. Maybe I'll just have to blog...

Current song: "Fa Fa," Guster

Sunday, August 31, 2008


This memory is stuck in my head:

I am 15. Dad is stepping down as Department Head, and I am in the middle of a crowd of academics at a reception for him. I am wearing my Nine West penny loafers and my navy pinstripe, bias cut Ann Taylor dress. Some women, who apparently knew me when I was a baby, pinch my cheeks and tell me how grown up I am. (If I am so grown up, why do they think it is okay to pinch my cheeks?) I mingle like the miniature adult I am until one of Dad's colleagues calls everyone to attention so he can tell humorous work-related stories that epitomize the man of the hour, at which point I slip behind the refreshment tables and munch on orange Milanos for the rest of the night.

I am happy that I shed the traditions and expectations of my parents' socioeconomic class and opted for a simpler, less formal life when I left for college. But perhaps I have strayed too far in denying my talents and intelligence in order to avoid social responsibility.

What am I doing delivering pizza for a living?!

Current song: "Hallelujah," Rufus Wainwright

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Megan (5) looks at her little pink diary and wags a stubby pencil in the air. "I could write something in cursive. Or something in Spanish," she says, thoughtfully. Then, looking at me as though revelatory lightning has struck, "Wait! I don't know how to write!"

Current song: "Great Escape," Guster

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Think I'm Funny: Homophones

I played putt putt with friends tonight after work.

"Are you good at mini golf?"

"I'm good at Wii golf."

Get it? Well, I think I'm funny.

Current song: "Starlight," Muse

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In Closing

In a day or two or by the end of next week, certainly, this matter will have died down. I can't wait for that. My blog was not about politics before and it won't be now because the small details of my life and the lives of those I love are more important and more interesting to me than anything going on "out there." Expend your energy on things that matter. If Bramble and politics matter to you, keep talking about them. You are welcome to continue commenting on my posts. I will read everything, but I won't respond. Bramble mattered to me for a few days, the way a stubbed toe would matter for a few minutes. But I have a 3-day-old niece to coo over, a new apartment to organize, a "History of Nicolitalia Pizzeria" to edit, a friend to congratulate on her mission call to England, and Boggle to play.

A Legitimate Question and a Little Gratitude

Several people have asked me why I went on TV and the radio if I wanted to be invisible, as I said before. This is a fair question. I appreciate those who have asked it nicely, in a spirit of curiosity. To those who have asked it as part of an attack on my intelligence or sincerity, I am glaring in your general (virtual) direction and wagging my finger at you. (Yes, I am actually sitting in my bedroom glaring and wagging my finger.) 

I wrote this response to the first person who asked the question, and I post it here in the hope that I will not have to address everyone individually.

I did not write this blog to get attention. Yes, I knew there was a possibility that people other than my friends and family would read it, but I thought it was a small possibility. I knew that anyone who found the post would know exactly who the senator was. I left out his name naively hoping that fewer people would stumble across the blog during searches (or whatever methods people use--I still have no idea how random people found this).

When I wrote a couple days ago that I wanted to be left alone, I meant it, but I have had a change of heart.

In his essay "Self Reliance," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.--'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'--Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

When I first read "Self Reliance" during my junior year of high school, I thought Emerson was an idiot who was trying to justify his fickleness, but now that I have a few more years of life experience, I see that he was right. Someone who does not change her mind as she acquires new information and experience is foolish, indeed. In the past few days, I have acquired information and experience at an alarming rate and am, therefore, justified in changing my thoughts about the attention I am receiving, as well as about many other matters.

Furthermore, my desire to be invisible is a maladaptive coping skill I have developed in response to a severe anxiety disorder that I have struggled with since the age of 5 (or thereabouts). It is called avoidance, the hallmark of anxiety. My current psychotherapy focuses on overcoming avoidance. This week has given me many opportunities to face my fears (like speaking in public) rather than run from them.

Additionally, every criticism I receive gives me a chance to practice my assertiveness, another skill I am working on.

As so many people have been supportive, encouraging, and complimentary, I cannot respond to you individually, though I would like to. You've helped me find courage somewhere in my trembling soul and given me more hope for what the world can be and what I can be. Thank you.

Current song: "Leaving New York," R.E.M.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Lest this blog become only a discussion of the recent incident with Senator Bramble, which is beginning to wear on me, let's have a random, inane post!

Unable to sleep, I got up at 2 a.m. to edit my letter to Senator Bramble. There was a huge spider crawling on my wall! Okay, when I say "huge" I mean a body length of about 1 inch. But it was totally freaky. I had to climb on my desk to kill it. I didn't want to be able to feel the crunch, so I tore a piece of cardboard from a box from my recent move. A shoe would have served the purpose, but then I would have had spider guts on one of my shoes. Sadly, the cardboard was not as effective as I had hoped, and I could still feel the spider's insides squish out of it. They looked like gray snot.

The Limelight

So this Bramble thing was kind of fun at first. I felt pretty cool having people praise, encourage, and defend me for telling the story. The personal attacks are not so fun, though. I don't regret having told the story, but I wish I had been calmer and more thoughtful. I would have been if I had thought anyone would actually read it. I don't like all this attention. Bramble's a public figure. He has to deal with publicity, good and bad, on a regular basis. I, on the other hand, have spent my whole life trying to become invisible. (I guess a blog is not a good way to be invisible.) For Bramble, this is life, but for me it is hell.

I have good intentions, but I am imperfect. Please have some charity. I am doing my best. Please leave me in peace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I slept better last night than I have in months, which surprised me because I am conflicted about this situation with Senator Bramble. I'm sure I am more bothered than the senator, as he must regularly endure much worse criticism and publicity as a public figure. But it's not every day people listen to my quiet voice, so I want to make sure I express myself as clearly as possible, even if no one is reading anymore. Good sleep was what I needed to do it.

My letter to Senator Bramble:

"Dear Senator Bramble,

"I am sorry if my blog about my recent experience with you caused you a headache. In my naivete, I thought that, since I am not a public figure, no one would notice anything I said on my blog or elsewhere. Clearly, I neglected to consider the possible ramifications of what I thought was the innocent telling of an interesting story to my friends and family. I guess I no longer deserve your praise for handling the situation professionally.

"I do not excuse my actions, but I do not excuse yours either [. . .] there are better ways to express frustration and displeasure than to rant and belittle others. There are better ways to get what you want than to wave your accomplishments and titles in front of others. Some people respond only to aggression, and I say be aggressive with them. Aggression has its place, but generally assertiveness is as effective and avoids alienating, offending, or degrading others. My boss might well have accepted your check after a calm, rational discussion. Unfortunately, because of your rudeness, my manager and I were upset, and I was uncomfortable, to say the least. Shame on you, Senator.

"Shame on me for my mistake. I think we would both be happier if we had acted differently.

The Pizza Girl

I signed my name on the actual letter, but I may as well try to maintain anonymity here.

I am assertive! Huzzah!

Current song: There can be no music when I am writing seriously.

Oy vey!

At work tonight, I told some of the other employees about last night's incident with Curt Bramble. (There's no point in not writing his name. I was being stupid before. I get it.) Nick had already told the day shift workers. 

I was upset for a little while yesterday, but by the end of the night it was just a funny story. Everyone else at work thought the same thing. No big deal, right? I mean, who really cares about this stuff? I'm sure pizza delivery persons all over the country have had worse experiences with customers. It was a ridiculous incident, and I would have blogged about it and told all my friends even if this guy had been a nobody. 

Unfortunately, he wasn't a nobody, and my innocent blog got some attention (listen to "Bramble Tries to Write Check for Pizza"). I found all this out when I got home from work tonight. I have mixed feelings. Like, this is kind of my 15 minutes of fame, which is cool. I mean, this is way cooler than when I was on BYU Weekly (whoop-de-do). At the same time, I'm worried it will give Nick a headache. He's way too much of a softy to do anything but whine at me about it, but his inability to stick up for himself makes me feel doubly bad about causing him trouble. I mean, let me feel the consequences of my actions! Also, I'm slightly miffed that The Nightside Project kept saying I was 19 or something. Granted, I look about 14 in the picture on my blog, so all they could go off of when guessing my age is the fact that I am old enough to deliver pizza and vote. The guess is understandable, but, still, what 24-year-old wants to shave 5 years of her age? Maybe when I'm 40. I just never imagined my blog post would be this big a deal. I guess that was pretty naive of me.

Current song: "Radio Free Europe," R.E.M. Lots of R.E.M. lately. It's good for my soul.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Run-In with the Majority Leader in the Utah State Senate

I won't tell you his name because I'm afraid it could get me in trouble. Maybe this post could get me in trouble even without his name. Probably not, though, because there's only, like, 20 people who read my blog, and half of them don't live in Utah. But you won't have trouble finding this guy's name online if you're curious.

Work tonight was uneventful as usual, until my second delivery of the night. 

I show up at this pretty house with a 3 car garage and lots of expensive camping equipment airing out on the front porch. A boy, maybe 12 years old, answers the door, asks the amount, and yells it to his parents who are in the kitchen. I pull the pizzas out of the bag as the father walks out to me.

"Can you take a check?"

"I can't take a personal check. We accept business checks, but not personal checks. Sorry."

He gets huffy. "Well, then you can take your pizzas back."

I'm thrown off a little. At worst people are a little annoyed that they can't pay with a check, but no one has ever told me to take their pizza back. I don't really want to go back to the store with $30 worth of pizza wasted. (It wouldn't have been entirely wasted--the employees would have eaten it for dinner, but Nick wouldn't have charged us for it, so it would have been a loss to him.) I'm deciding what to say, but he doesn't wait for me.

"Look, I'm the majority leader of the state senate, I've lived in this house for 30 years, and I've never bounced a check." He's gruff. I am uncomfortable, my eyes pleading, but I say nothing. "Do you know what that means? I'm a public figure. If I bounced a check, it would be all over the papers. I'd lose my reputation!"

My jaw drops as though I will say something, but I can't figure out what words are supposed to come out. He starts to walk away. "If you don't have cash, you can call the store and pay with a debit or credit card, and you can still have the pizza," I manage.

"What's the number?" He sounds angry enough to become abusive at any moment. Even taking my anxiety disorder into account, I believe this is a rational fear. "Who should I talk to?"

"Whoever answers the phone will be able to help you," I say, assuming he is just going to pay the bill. I give him the number.

The phone call: "I'd like to speak to the manager...Good. What's your name, ma'am?...Oh. What's your name, sir?...My name is _____. There's a nice young lady here who says she can't take my check." 

From the tone he's been using, I'd never have guessed he thought I was a "nice young lady" or even a human being with feelings. 

"Look, I'm the majority leader in the state senate..." etc., everything he told me. 

"No one told my wife you don't take checks when she made the order." 

I was not about to step in and tell him I took the order and had given her the option of cash or credit, saying nothing either way about checks. Luckily, the wife spoke up and said what I was thinking. She and her daughters were clearly embarrassed. 

"Look, I'm a CPA, so I know a check is the same as cash." 

Yeah, if it's a cashier's check

"Where are you from? I'm from Chicago. You're probably from New York, right?" 

How is this relevant? 

"You're from Massachusetts? We're both Easterners."

Since when is Chicago considered the East?

"Then you must understand that a check is the same thing as cash. I'm from an old school of thought and I'm a CPA, so I understand that a check is as good as cash...Yes, I understand--trying to build a business and everything, but it's all money in the bank...Yes, you can talk to her."

Mr. Logical Fallacy hands me the phone, and I'd like to say, "Nick, I'm sorry I sicked this long-winded bastard on you," but I just say, "Hi, Nick." He tells me I can take the check as long as the man shows me his driver's license and I write the license number on the check. I hang up the phone and tell Mr. Impressive Title what Nick said.

Taking the phone back, "What's that number again?"

Why is he still pissed? He's getting his way. I really hope the restaurant's not busy right now because Mr. Doesn't Know When to Stop has been keeping Nick from making pizza or doing anything else for several minutes, and who knows how long he'll talk this time.

The second phone call: "Nick? This is ____ again. I'm going to give you my American Express number, and pay for it that way."

Huh? Why have I been standing in this guy's front hall for the past 10 minutes?

"Look, why should I give my credit card number and the security number on the back when some unscrupulous business owner could make fraudulent charges on it?...A check is the same as cash--"

Again? Really?

"--but with a check you get the amount I give you. Don't you know what someone could do with the account number for a card with no credit limit?"

1) Is he accusing Nick of being a corrupt business owner? I thought people were supposed to distrust politicians, not the other way around. 2) Is he bragging about his credit?

An embarrassed daughter emerges from the kitchen and tells me I can put the pizzas down if they're getting heavy. I thank her, but hold on to the pizza. Somehow, having the boxes in my hands is giving me a sense of security. Without them, I would feel naked and vulnerable.

Mr. Ridiculously Pissed Off gives Nick the credit card number and angrily reiterates everything he has already said in both phone calls. After he hangs up, he takes the pizza from me. "This isn't your fault. You've been very professional about this."

Since when is staring uneasily at the pizza boxes I'm holding considered professional? Whatever.

"I'm sorry about this," he continues, but he still sounds like he's stifling profanity with great difficulty.

"Oh, no. I'm sorry for the confusion and inconvenience." Let's end this amicably. I turn to the door.

"Hold on just a second."

Ah! I just want to get out!

"Does anyone have any cash? I don't have any. Someone have a couple bucks?"

One of his daughters comes up with $2. Crappy tip, especially after making me suffer through that ordeal.

Aren't politicians supposed to be charismatic and stuff? I guess it doesn't matter what they're like in their private life. Maybe it should matter. Needless to say, now that I am registered to vote in Utah, I will not be supporting ____, current Majority Leader in the Utah State Senate. If you live in Utah, I hope you won't support him either. He is obnoxious and prideful. He argues illogically, citing irrelevant details as some sort of proof. I suspect his overly aggressive and defensive behavior masks some insecurity. But what do I know?

Current song: "The Outsiders," R.E.M. featuring Q-Tip, an either unfortunate or ironic name for a rapper.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Personal Disclosure

Lest the title mislead you, I'm not going to make a personal disclosure (Gosh, don't I do that enough?). I'm going to talk about personal disclosure.

During Sunday School today, we were talking about fear. Having a lot of experience with the subject, I shared more personal information than I normally would. (Side note: Last week I shared something much more personal with the class than anything I said today, but I'm pretty sure last week's class had no idea how personal it was. It's one of those things you only share when you need to, when other people need to hear it.) I apologized to the class for all the personal disclosure, but I wasn't actually sorry. Over the past few months, I find I am most comfortable teaching when I am sharing my own experiences. This may be because I know and understand my own experiences so well, whereas my knowledge of the scriptures is limited and I sometimes feel awkward sharing something on which I am not an expert. But today, I saw things a little differently. When we share personal information with someone, we are essentially saying, "I trust you with this part of me." Generally, when we give trust, we receive trust in return. If you open yourself up to someone else, they are more likely to risk opening themselves to you. And when we are open to each other, we will love and learn from one another. Of course all of this has to be done appropriately, so that it is in the interest of establishing trust and teaching rather than feeding one's own vanity. That said, I'm rather exhausted from the effort of overcoming my fears today, and I would like to sleep for the next 3 days.

Current song: None. I am too tired for singing or thinking.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Just because you weren't in my dreams last night doesn't mean your younger brother can start popping up in them!

Haunted: An Open Letter

Dear Man of My Dreams,

Please go away. Last night, you saved me from a witch who was chasing me with a butcher knife. Then you came to dinner with my family. You understood each person's insecurities and eccentricities, you handled our dysfunction with grace, and you knew exactly how to comfort me when I was criticized and hurt. You were perfect. But you did not love me. You pitied me.

I fear you pity me in real life. I see you looking at me, and I wonder what you are thinking. You are friendly to me. Most of the time. The more I get to know you, the more I realize that you are not the man of my dreams. I see that you are stubborn, picky, and controlling. I wonder if I can look past that or if I will pity you for your faults. You don't care about my opinion, though.

Please cease your nightly visits to my consciousness.


P.S. I hope you are reading this and wondering if I am talking about you. I hope it haunts you the way you haunt me. But it won't.

Current song: "Leaving New York," R.E.M.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Well, Jesus Loves Me Fine"

When I started this blog, I had this idea to title every entry with an R.E.M. lyric. I decided that would be difficult and too gimmicky, but when I feel bad, I sing that line at the top of my lungs.

Lest anyone worry over my last post, I feel better today. Because Jesus loves me fine. My home teacher gave me a blessing last night. My decision to confide in him was probably as helpful as the blessing. 

Tangent: Last fall, I read an article in the New York Times about the function of dreams. The gist of it is that dreams are a way of working out fears in a safe environment. A nightmare, defined as a bad dream that wakes you up, is a dream dysfunction because you don't get to finish working out your fear. Children tend to have more nightmares than adults because they have had fewer years to work out fears. 

For the past several weeks, I've been waking up almost hourly because of bad dreams. Last night, I slept 4 hours before my first nightmare, which is a huge improvement. While I was at work this afternoon, I was thinking about how much happier I was after a good night's sleep. I mean, I was up to my elbows in greasy dishwater, but I was happy and singing contentedly and much louder than I usually would in the company of others. I attribute this to the blessing.

I thought about how much more helpful than counseling that blessing was. And then I thought of Elder Packer: "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." I thought about my own study of behavior. The past several weeks of counseling have been more stressful than helpful. The cognitive behavioral approach to therapy, which my current psychologist and which my original group psychologist took, doesn't work for me. I tend to feel pressure to do things that clutter my life without helping me. Keeping a journal of my fears and conducting informal experiments to see what happens when I overcome avoidance are not for me. For a while I needed a counselor so I could dump all the emotions that had built up over 2 decades, but I stopped needing that more than 2 years ago. I don't need to unload anymore. I need more faith. I need a better understanding of the nature of God. I need to remember that Jesus loves me fine.

Current song: "Make It All Okay," R.E.M.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tired: A List

I am tired of:
  • my job
  • being on my feet at the pizzeria and at the temple (though not tired of being at the temple)
  • being the only person who takes out the trash and washes the dishes
  • clothes that aren't pajamas
  • waking up every hour from nightmares
  • getting out of bed in the morning
  • medication
  • counseling
  • role playing with my psychologist
  • feeling lonely while I sit alone in my apartment
  • feeling doubly lonely when I force myself out of my apartment to make sad attempts at social interaction
  • not being able to cry when I need to
  • singing sad songs
  • fear
  • having the strong urge to bang my head against a wall
  • needing and asking for help
  • feeling stuck
  • tummy aches
  • being intelligent and insightful
  • teaching Sunday School
  • mortality
  • people who think I can and should just snap out of it
Current songs: "April, Come She Will," Simon and Garfunkel; "Why Not Smile?" R.E.M. (Coincidentally, this is the source of my blog title and the name under which I post. Ten points and a big smiley face if you can figure out what it means.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Think I'm Funny: Voicemail

Since I spend so much time alone with my own thoughts, it's good that I can make myself laugh. A voicemail that I left the other day (it still amuses me): "Hi, Andrew. This is Anna. Nick asked me to call you because he had a question to ask you, but he thought you'd be more likely to call me back since I'm cuter than he is. So, yeah, please call me back or I'll have to assume that I'm not cuter than Nick, and that would be very sad for me." See, funny, right? Well, I think I'm funny.

Current song: "Sorry or Please," Kings of Convenience

Monday, August 11, 2008

21 (the movie, not the legal drinking age)

I just finished watching 21. At best, it was a mediocre movie, but I found it considerably less disturbing than the book on which it is based. A few years ago, I read Bringing Down the House, written by Ben Mezrich, the card counting genius himself. The movie was a much softer portrayal of the events than the book.

The movie makes Ben a sympathetic character: his father is dead, he needs money for Harvard Medical, and he is this social loser who has given up everything for the sake of his studies and joins the Vegas hustlers because the possibility of a relationship with a beautiful girl entices him. It's been a few years since I read the book, but I can't remember any mention of Harvard, and I'm pretty sure Ben's father was still around. Also--what I remember for certain--he had a steady girlfriend in Boston with whom he was discussing marriage. In the book, he leads a seemingly charmed life, and ennui and curiosity, not need for money of social acceptance, motivates him to join the group.

Also, in the movie, we don't see the true extent of his deception and immorality. In the book, we are privy to the constant lies to his parents and his girlfriend. And the group's alter egos consist of more than fake IDs. They were heavily made up, and occasionally assumed different ethnicities. The part of the book I hated the most: Ben starts sleeping around with exotic dancers and even finds one he likes and pursues, all the while maintaining the relationship with his girlfriend at home. He goes from being this good, honest kid to a promiscuous fraud in the course of a few months. The ease with which he was corrupted bothered me for weeks after I finished the book.

The movie calls these escapades "gaining life experience." I'd call it being an idiot.

Sidenote: When Ben goes to his first meeting with the Vegas group, he walks into room 4-145, which would be on the first floor of Building 4 at M.I.T. It happens that I spent much of the summer after I graduated from high school working (i.e. reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) in that hallway. The filmmakers made a reasonable facsimile, though the actual corridor is much dirtier than the one in the movie.

Current song: "A Little Doubt Goes a Long Way," Reel Big Fish (I think this song has a good message for the young Ben Mezrich and for all of us at some point. Consider the lyrics: "I gotta go, gotta go, before I do something stupid.")

Courtesy of the Dancing Newt a.k.a. KTB

Current song: "Santa Fe," Newsies (You know this song makes little girls everywhere fall in love with the young, scrawny Christian Bale.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

How did Grape-Nuts get their name? It's so deceiving. They don't taste, look, or smell anything like grapes or nuts, nor do they appear to be nutritionally comparable to grapes and nuts. I wish they did taste like grapes or nuts because then they would actually taste good. As it is, they just ruined the yogurt I ate for breakfast this morning. Luckily, I was watching Newsies, so I had a few good brawls, a string of catchy songs, and Christian Bale's adorable New York accent and charming smile to distract me from the horrid taste, which was that of neither grapes nor nuts.

Current songs: the entire soundtrack of Newsies (surprise, surprise)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Inside Joke with God

I was talking to my sister the other day about what an interesting experience it has been in the past year for me to learn to recognize how God talks to me. It is confusing at times because I have these strange thoughts that seem to belong to me, but they are definitely not my thoughts. For instance, one day in September, I was watching Hotel Rwanda and felt a great urge to devote myself in service to the world. I thought, "I'm going to join the Peace Corps!" After about 30 seconds of looking at the Peace Corps website, I thought, "Or I should go on a mission!" I heard my own voice in my head, but I knew that wasn't my thought because my brilliant plan was to join the Peace Corps. (Some of you will say, "But, Anna, you didn't go on a mission." First of all, I'm on one--just not a proselytizing mission. Second, submitting the papers was as significant an experience for me as, perhaps, a full-time mission could have been.) The ensuing months brought many similar experiences. Each time, I was surprised to find that the Lord spoke to me in my own voice. But this morning I was shocked to find that the Lord will even speak to me in inside jokes. 

I was upset about something last night and doubly upset that I didn't understand why I was upset in the first place. I had distressing dreams about being stuck floating in the air in Macey's and not being able to eat doughnuts because they would make me fat, but I really wanted to eat the doughnuts. (The dream is not related, although being stuck floating in the air may be symbolic. I'm pretty sure the doughnuts mean nothing.) I woke up with one thought: There's no such thing as Joel. "Who is Joel?" you ask. "What does that mean?" I won't tell you the meaning because it is not important for you to know--it is my revelation, and I'm keeping it. But I will tell you what the sentence originally meant.

Junior year of high school, 4 (or 5?) of us were crammed into Ellie's bed, trying in vain to fall asleep at 2 or 3 in the morning. But first, our usual late night conversation:

"Guys, I'm afraid of the Rapist." I don't know who originally concocted the Rapist, but he lurked outside waiting to ambush us at every sleep over and late night gathering.

"And the rabid raccoons." Again, more demons who stalked us.

"There could be a lion!" This one was new.

"There's nothing outside. Go to sleep."

"I heard a noise! It's the Rapist!"

"It's one of the cats." Ellie goes to the door and lets the cat in.

"It could be a rabid raccoon disguised as a cat!"

"It's not."

"I heard a noise! It's the Rapist!"

"Guys, I'm scared of the Rapist."

"I'm scared of rabid raccoons."

"I'm scared of lions."

"Yeah, and I'm scared of Joel Diamond." Joel was a loud, often obnoxious, sometimes mean student in the graduating class ahead of ours. Many of us found him intimidating, except for Ellie, who took multivariable calculus with him and insisted that he was always nice to her.

"Joel Diamond is scary, but not as scary as the Rapist!"

"There's no such thing as the Rapist."

"Rabid raccoons!"

"There's no such thing as rabid raccoons."


"There's no such thing as lions. The only real scary thing is Joel Diamond."

"There's no such thing as Joel!" We all burst out laughing, which relaxed us enough to fall asleep.

The statement "There's no such thing as Joel," survived for probably a year. We applied it to all situations, kind of like "your mom," but I think it mostly meant, "don't worry" or "calm down." It has many connotations that only the creators of the joke would understand. I imagine that over the past 7 years, it has evolved in my mind and taken on meanings only I understand. I suppose that is why the Lord can bring it to my mind at a time when it makes no sense, and I know exactly what He means.


P.S. My apologies to anyone named Joel. I'm sure you exist.

Current song: "The Lord Is My Shepherd"

Monday, August 4, 2008


My dear friend Shaant is a high school math teacher in NYC. He teaches "problem students," so he comes up with lots of games and creative assignments to keep them interested. Last fall he emailed me some pictures his students had drawn for homework. The assignment was to draw what you think a mathematician looks like. The drawings ranged from the cliche nerd with glasses to Mario of Nintendo Mario Brothers (that one I don't understand) to total hardcore renegade (extra points for challenging a stereotype!). Last week, after I called Shaant to lament my current feelings of irrational guilt and general meh-ness, he sent me a note saying, "feel better" accompanied by another fun homework assignment: Draw what you think a mathematician's greatest enemy would be. There were scary operation signs (i.e. plus signs, division signs, etc. with gaping jaws and angry eyes), captioned, "If every thing that he solve come back and haunt him [sic]." There was "The Student," a ripped, long-haired thug wearing a "Math Sucks @#?!" tee shirt. But my favorite was "The English Dictionary." I laughed out loud, and, indeed, I did feel better.

To any mathematicians who read my blog: What is your greatest enemy? Feel free to draw me a picture.

As a student of English, my arch nemesis is poetic meter. My inability to tell the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables has lowered many a grade on assignments to explicate poems or write sonnets.

Current song: "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," Smashing Pumpkins

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cute Card My Little Brother Sent

"Pooh!" whispered Piglet.
"Yes, Piglet?" said Pooh.
"Oh, nothing," said Piglet. "I was just making sure of you."

Current song: "I Won't Back Down," Tom Petty

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Elusive Tear of Catharsis

It sounds like a caped crusader from an exotic land or an ancient lost treasure, doesn't it?

Last week, some old girl friends were talking about the need for a good cry, not as an expression of sadness per se but as a release of emotional energy. A good run has the same effect, as can breaking significant objects. On Thursday, I decided I was due for such a release, but it is too hot to run (I prefer to run in snow or pouring rain) and there was nothing in particular I wanted to break. So I watched Little Women and bawled at the usual parts--when Amy throws Jo's manuscript into the fire (maybe this is only emotional for we writers), when Jo cuts her hair to pay for Marmee's train ticket to see Father in the hospital, when Mr. Lawrence gives Beth the piano, when Jo refuses Laurie's proposal, when Beth dies, when Jo falls in love with the professor--okay, so pretty much the entire movie/book makes me cry for joy and pain. But I still didn't feel better. What a waste of tears for no relief! Sunday night I couldn't sleep, so I took a walk and thought about sad things, which made me cry but not long enough or hard enough, I thought. I felt lonely and sang myself to sleep, which usually works, but not this time. Then this morning, I thought about how much power I have to make my future children happier and healthier than I am, and I felt all that pent up emotional energy run down my cheek in one sticky tear.

In other news, I have developed a twitch in my left shoulder. It is only slightly less annoying than the twitch in my left eye. The muscles in the right side of my body are much more agreeable.

Current song: "New York State of Mind," Billy Joel

Friday, July 25, 2008


Did you know Heath Ledger was named for Heathcliff of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights? Were his parents insane? Who names their child after a psychotically obsessed, abusive wretch who is, for all we know, a demon? Makes me wonder if they actually read Wuthering Heights.

Current song: "Love Song," 311 cover

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting into Character

I saw The Dark Knight yesterday. It was ridiculously awesome. I love a well played homicidal maniac, and Heath Ledger was brilliant as the Joker. That said, I spent much of the movie wondering how the role affected him. Ledger spent a month alone to get into his character, during which time he started taking sleeping pills. Little surprise he couldn't sleep while he was swimming in the cerebrospinal fluid of a psychotic killer. I am reminded of my traumatic experience of watching Devil's Advocate several years ago. I am convinced Al Pacino was possessed by Satan while he played the role, and I can no longer watch Pacino films or even listen to interviews with him. As a writer, I know what it's like to get lost wandering the corridors of someone else's gray matter and the strength it can take to push off the emotional weight when you're done with the character. Ledger's death was ruled accidental overdose, but I can't help wondering.... At least he will never watch his career go downhill, and moviegoers will remember him in a truly masterful role.

Current song: "Your Racist Friend," They Might Be Giants

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

'Zona, Part 3

Friday: Lizzy and I went to Sunsplash water park where the pavement burned our feet and the slides gave us wedgies. Though we went in the middle of the afternoon, amazingly, I did not get burned, thanks to multiple layers of SPF 45. I actually got a tan, but even with a tan I still look like I should be walking around with seven dwarves in tow. The sun drained us, so we opted to go out for burgers and ice cream. I always think going out to dinner is worth the money because a) you get good food, b) you get waited on, and c) you don't have to wash dishes. Then we crashed at Lizzy's, and she introduced me to the cheesy Mormon film genre. That's right, we watched Singles 2nd Ward. Wow. That's all I have to say.

Saturday: We went to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center. I had mixed feelings about the photography exhibit Reflections of Christ. The first 3 photos, which depicted Mary and Joseph with their newborn, were brilliant. Joseph looked beautifully awed. But the "Ten Virgins" photograph was comical to me--all the goofy expressions and poses--and so detracted from the spirit (and Spirit) of the exhibit, I thought. We also visited a cactus on temple grounds. Lizzy informed me that the Saguaro (the typical image that comes to mind when you think "cactus," i.e. tall and skinny with upward reaching arms) only grows in Arizona and Mexico (wikipedia adds a small area of California). Everyone looks at the picture and asks, "Did you really touch it?!" Yes. I mean, it's not like I walked up and punched it or squeezed it tight, but I wanted to feel how sharp the needles are.

Sunday: Church as usual. Lizzy and I made turkey for dinner. It was good. Her family was impressed with our cooking skills. After dinner, Lizzy played the piano and she and her sister and I sang hymns and show tunes and Disney songs. We ended the day with a game of cards and family prayer. I like having family prayer. Sundays are usually hard days for me, especially this past year. It was good not to feel alone this week.

New feature of my blog: each entry will now include the song(s) stuck in my head. Current songs: the entire soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera

Thursday, July 17, 2008

'Zona, Part 2

I can now verify that Arizona is hot. However, I nearly laughed in a woman's face when she said it was humid today. Said woman is from Utah, originally, and thinks Arizona gets humid during monsoon season. I am reminded of a certain camping trip in upstate NY when I waded in a river and was unable to get dry for the next two days because of the humidity. That's all I have to say about that.

Today we went to a cooking class and learned how to make pizza. That's right, I work in a pizzeria, and on my vacation I go to pizza making classes. Lizzy and I used a recipe from the class to make calzones for dinner. Her family thought they were great! I thought they were vomitous. But don't tell. I'm assuming Lizzy isn't reading the blog entries about my trip to see her.

Once burning hours were over, I agreed to venture into the sunlight, so we went swimming before dinner. Yes, I, who have been afraid of water for the past 17 years (since almost drowning at the beach in Hawaii) went swimming. And liked it. I even learned how to dive, though the first attempts were somewhat painful. Can you get bruises from belly flopping?

It is interesting, strange, and refreshing to be with Lizzy's family. They are such a contrast to my own. Since my life revolves around food, the differences between our families are most apparent in that area. This morning, I was informed that we are not allowed to have ice cream or popcicles except after dinner. I can remember polishing off an entire box of Klondike bars before lunch when I was a kid. Granted, I would hide on the roof of the neighbors' garage after eating the first one because, while ice cream was acceptable at any time of day, eating multiple expensive ice cream novelties in one sitting was not allowed. Also, they eat meals together. And they last more than 5 minutes--more than 10 minutes, even! They watch TV together and agree on what to watch. And they pray together. Real prayers. I wish my family did that. I think this is what we call a "functional family." They may even be unnaturally functional. Don't worry, though, I have seen their flaws, as well--I am just choosing not to disclose them here.

Also, I am getting much better at Wii golf.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

'Zona, Part 1

I finished packing in a hurry this morning and forgot pretty much my whole life, i.e. scriptures, sunglasses, and camera. But I arrived at the airport with banana bread in my purse, so that's what counts. Right? Actually, since I'm in Arizona in July, my deoderant, bathing suits, and sun screen are probably the most important items in my suitcase.

On my flight, there was a girl with no arms. I was terribly distracted from my sudoku as I thought about what it would be like to have no arms. Really, I can't even imagine. I think I would die. I'd fall into a deep depression and commit suicide--except I don't know how I'd kill myself with no arms. Probably, I would have to use my teeth or foot to turn on the water in the bathtub, and then I could just lie down in it, but it would be too hard to slit my wrists or open pill bottles to OD. Okay, I'm totally morbid. But really, I don't know what I'd do without arms. I can imagine not having legs, and, while that would be limiting, I feel like I could adjust to living in a wheel chair. No arms, though? Couldn't do it. My toes aren't coordinated enough to be fingers.

On the way home from the airport, Lizzy and her mom were talking about how brown Arizona must look to me. It does. "But it is beautiful in it's own way. I mean, the brown is this pretty red-brown, as opposed to a grayish brown," I said. "Anna, you're becoming so optimistic!" What can I say? Been in a good mood since I crawled out of my hovel Saturday night.

Lizzy says it's hot here, but we've been inside all day, playing Wii sports and Skip-Bo and making whistles out of Tootsie Rolls, so she could be lying, for all I know. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Diagnosis: Stupidity a.k.a. Poor Domestic Skills of Teenage Boys

I was trying to get all my laundry done before my trip to AZ when Karli's little brother showed up with a mountain of his own dirty clothes. I, overly accommodating (read "wussy") as usual, invited him in and told him he could use the washer as soon as the load occupying it was out. 

An hour later, after the water filled the washer for his second load, an ominous grating and snapping sound interrupted my laughter at the Daily Show. Far worse was the silence that followed as I realized the washer had stopped working. 

I tried restarting it in other cycles (i.e. gentle instead of normal, etc.) and then starting it at different points in the cycle. I hoped, if nothing else, I could put it on spin and drain the water. Nothing. At that point, I reached into the heavily perfumed, soapy water to feel if something was caught on the agitator. Oh, and there was the problem. The machine was crammed so full that I couldn't even wedge my skinny arm between the clothes to get to the bottom. I started pulling out dripping handfuls of fabric, and suddenly the water started filling the basin again. "Good, maybe it will work now." The water shut off. Nothing. Broken agitator.

Someday, I would like to be handy enough with household appliances to fix them rather than just diagnose the problem. Since I'm not, I guess I'll have to finish my laundry at my sister's house. But when I use my sister's washing machine, I won't break it.

I have newfound appreciation for my mother's wall of laundry instructions that taught me how to wash the clothes when she was out of town. I used to think it was ridiculous that she included every detail, right down to "6 large towels or 8 pairs of Anna's jeans make an extra-large load." Ah, the wisdom of my obsessive compulsive mother!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Misunderstood, Though Not Misheard, Lyrics

Remember that song "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine? Remember the line "Rally 'round the family with a pocket full of shells" and how I asked, "Why would anyone carry seashells in their pockets?" Yeah. I'd love to watch a video of my naivete being stripped from me over the years. I think it would be hysterical.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

That's a Wrap

I knew I was over him last summer when we went out to dinner, and, for the first time in 3 years, my entire being didn't ache at the memories and the disparity between the life he leads and the one I imagined for him (us). When he said he'd call but didn't and I contentedly watched a Sox game and fell asleep without tears, I knew I was over him. But I really knew I was over him last week when I forgot his birthday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brilliant or Flawed?

Are they mutually exclusive? I think they often go together, actually. Think of any great and lasting invention over the centuries. It's conception must have been brilliant, but the first model was likely flawed.

For many years, I have pondered the relationship between mental disorders and extraordinary thought. It started when I saw A Beautiful Mind. I like the movie, but I love it's title. The idea of a "flawed" mind as beautiful is intriguing and romantic. I mean, John Nash was delusional and yet absolutely ingenious. Van Gogh was insane but will be forever remembered as a brilliant painter. Starry Night is my favorite painting. In the swirling sky, I see the reflection of my muddled mind and tormented soul. I imagine Vincent sitting in front of his canvas feeling much the same as I do when I look at it. I often think that one of the reasons I am insightful is that I am not right in the head, so to speak. It makes sense to me.

What does it mean to have a psychological disorder? Essentially, it means that one perceives the world in a way that society views as abnormal, irrational. It means one has a different perspective. People appreciate the importance of taking perspective so long as it does not stray too far from the norm. But to be truly brilliant, one has to think unlike the rest of the world, to see what no one else can see. John Nash literally saw things--people!--no one else could see. Van Gogh saw the inside of a trouble mind and soul. And they both created something from that.

I do not mean to imply that all my irrational thoughts are brilliance in disguise, nor do I mean to compare myself to icons of our modern world. I am just reminding myself that this trial, like every other, serves a purpose greater than I imagine.

Today's Breakthrough

Going to counseling in the morning just leaves me with so many things to think about for the rest of the day.

Last week I had to list my issues, the one that I thought was most insightful was that anxiety is my primary motivator. Four years ago, counseling taught me to manage my anxiety to the point that I was rid of it almost entirely for a few months. The result was that I became aimless. I started skipping class on a regular basis and wasted my life watching Law & Order reruns and eating Mint Milanos for dinner. It was an identity crisis, really. Without other people's expectations to tell me who I was and what I should do, I was lost.

So today I took the Myer-Briggs personality test. I told my counselor that I always had trouble with these tests in high school because I never knew whether to answer according the questions according to my behavior and thought when I was comfortable or uncomfortable in a situation. I could never choose whether I am easy to get to know or hard to get to know (question 33) because it depends completely upon my anxiety level. She told me to answer as though I had no anxiety. This was an interesting challenge because for some questions, I could answer based on certain instances or certain relationships in which I have not felt anxious, but for some of the questions, I could barely even imagine what my answer would be if I did not have anxiety disorder. For instance, question 47: When you are in an embarrassing spot, do you usually a) change the subject, b) turn it into a joke, or c) days later, think of what you should have said? Well, usually, days later, I think of what I should have said. But that is because I am usually anxious, and on the occasions that I'm not, I turn it into a joke. I have at some point in my life been embarrassed without being anxious. Then there was question 150: When you do business with strangers, do you feel a) confident and at ease, or b) a little fussed or afraid that they won't want to bother with you? Well, no experience to draw on there. I couldn't even imagine not feeling anxious in that situation. 

Often, while I was taking the test, I found that my anxious self is diametrically opposed to the person I feel I would be without this disorder. I realized, for the first time, that my anxiety and I are separate entities. Meaning, I was born with a certain personality. The environment in which I was raised triggered a genetic predisposition to anxiety and depression, and I let those disorders overrun my natural personality. The implication is that my anxiety is learned, which means I can unlearn it and figure out who I really am.

Shaant said that was a "cool thought process." It is rather brilliant, isn't it?

P.S. Favorite question on the Myers-Briggs: 137: When you find yourself in the wrong, would you rather a) admit you are wrong, or b) not admit it, though everyone knows it, c) or don't you ever find yourself in the wrong? I'm sure there are people who answer C, but the idea made me literally laugh out loud.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Megan (5) was collecting pill bugs in a plastic cup. I told her to leave them in the grass before she came inside.

"But the ants will eat them!"

"The ants won't eat them. Ants don't eat other bugs."

"Then what do they eat?"

"They eat the same food you eat. They're gatherers. That means they walk around collecting all the crumbs you drop, and then they take them home to share with their family."

"No. There are worker ants who take everything to the queen."

"There is a queen--you're so smart, Meg. The worker ants collect all the food and take it to the queen, and she makes sure everybody gets some. It's like how Dad goes to work and earns money. Then Mom uses the money to buy food, and she cooks it and makes sure you guys all get some."

Jacob (3) joins the conversation: "Where are the ovens?"

"The ants' ovens? They don't have ovens. They go around picking up your crumbs, so they are eating the food that has already been cooked for you. They don't need ovens. Now come in and leave the bugs outside."

"But the ants will eat my rolly pollies!"


Great Minds Think (Nothing) Alike

Remember that time we played Scattergories and had to come up with a song beginning with M? You put "Machinehead" because you were sure I'd never think of it. I put "Machinehead" because it was the only song I could think of.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Lovely People You Meet in First Class

Been thinking about this story for the past week or so:

I knew it would be a bad flight when I stepped onto the the airplane, wearing my Red Sox shirt, and saw that the man in the seat next to mine had on a Yankees hat. But he seemed more interested in his rum and Coke than in arguing about the ancient baseball rivalry.

At 10 a.m. the flight attendant brought breakfast and my neighbor's third rum and Coke. I was almost done inhaling my food when my buzzed friend thrust his strawberry yogurt in front of my face.

"Want mine?"

"Sure. Thanks." I was tempted to ask for his bagel, too, but restrained myself. 

A minute passed in silence, and then the deluge: "I can't eat lately. I think my girlfriend's cheating on me. How old are you?"


"You're about her age. Listen to this and tell me if you think she's cheating on me."

He spent the next hour or so telling me about his illegitimate children, child support payments, and 19-year-old girlfriend who lived in another state and never answered the phone when he called.

"Do you think she's cheating."

How should I know? "Whether or not she's cheating, it sounds like you have some problems to work out in your relationship."

"She's cheating. I'm gonna find out for sure when I get to Dallas. I'm getting in 5 hours early. I'll call her and tell her I'm getting on the airplane. Then I'll follow her."

"That doesn't sound like a good idea. I think it would be better to confront her directly."

"I'll confront her after I follow her."

"Clearly, there are trust issues between you two, and if you follow her, it will only perpetuate that problem. I don't think you should follow her."

"Maybe not."

"Just think about it. Okay?"

"I'm gonna go to a bar first. I need to get real drunk so I can relax. I don't know if I can confront her unless I'm relaxed."

"That sounds like a bad idea." At this point I felt a rush of gratitude that this man and I lived in completely different worlds.

"I gotta relax."

"There are other ways to relax. I'm in this class right now where we practice ways of relaxing." Group therapy counts as a class, right? An airplane seemed like a bad place to teach progressive muscle relaxation, so I was debating whether to teach him imagery or controlled breathing when the captain announced our descent. Controlled breathing it is. That would be faster. We worked on breathing for 10 or 15 minutes. As we deplaned, I asked, "So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know. Maybe I won't go to a bar. But I still think I should follow her."

Better he follow her sober than smashed, I guess. I wonder what happened. I wonder whether that flight would have been better or worse if we had discussed baseball.