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