Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Flattered

At Wendy's today I ordered my food from the dollar menu in my native tongue (English). When the cashier asked if it was "for here or to go?" I paused a second as I usually do when my brain is shut off between class and work like that but the cashier quickly restated "¿Para llevar o para aquí?"
"Para aquí" I replied.
And from there on out it was all Spanish. I was wearing my black track jacket that does kind of make me look ethnic and I had been bumping to reggaeton all morning in my car so maybe that was showing on my face. Who knows.
Anyway, I was flattered.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Contrasts


I jumped in my sisters' pool on Thanksgiving day. It was almost 80 degrees out but the pool was just 62... that's really cold (for my Canadian friends who don't understand our scales). I did it as a dare more than anything. It actually felt kind of nice.

So I'm back in Provo tonight....
At 6 p.m. I was barefoot and wearing a t-shirt pushing my nieces on that swingset in the picture under the setting Arizona sun. So I was a little shocked when the plane hit turbulence at 9:30 coming into the Salt Lake valley and the pilot told us it was because of a snowstorm. The idea seemed absurb but the white flakes whirling by the plane confirmed it. I still hadn't quite accepted the frigid reality when my car went skidding into the next lane at the first stop light leaving the airport. I modified my driving and spent 10:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in my hockey-puck of a car praying my way back to Provo as I slid along the ice skating rink labeled I-15 at an average speed of about 25 mph. My weak little headlights and windshield wipers were no match for the snow pelting my windshield like the Starfield Simulation screen saver. As I passed literally dozens and dozens of accidents and flashing lights and squinted to see through the small defrosted area in my windshield into the whiteout I really started to question Brother Brigham's inspiration when he called this The Place. Strangely, the sign welcoming me to Provo still elicited a big smile and I kind of think I'm glad to be back. Utah might just be getting to me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Muchas Gracias

101 Things I'm thankful for. In no particular order.

1. Stick shifts
2. Safety belts
3. Piles of leaves
4. Airplanes
5. Sunshine after the rain
6. MSN Messenger
7. The pictures from my mission
8. My mission journal
9. My small-town Utah parents for escaping to Babylon
10. Parents who give me nothing to complain about
11. Real friends (I can't say enough about this one)
12. Learning
13. BYU
14. Phone calls just when I need them
15. People who don't think like I do
16. Music that makes me want to dance
17. Wireless internet (which I'm currently stealing from my sister's neighbor)
18. The little kids I work with, like the girl today who couldn’t remember her phone number, last name, or teacher
19. The custodians I work with who make cleaning up vomit fun
20. My bosses for letting me get away with so much
21. My metabolism
22. My sixth grade teacher for making me go into Junior High thinking I was “gifted and talented.”
23. My Eighth grade PE teacher for making me run track.
24. My Ninth grade drama teacher for making me quit drama.
25. My Junior High/High School friend Scott for putting up with me.
26. My High School Journalism and History teacher for making school something to look forward to.
27. All the guys I ran with for making me feel less freakish
28. Every one of my missionary companions but especially the ones who cared and especially, especially Elder Nelson for saving me when the ZL was pounding on me.
29. Knowing Spanish
30. My patriarchal blessing, especially the part that says I chose this life
31. Dollar movies
32. Peanut butter
33. Watermelons
34. Racial mixing for creating beautiful people.
35. Free food—wherever I can get it
36. Fruit, flowers, rainbows, butterflies, queers, and everything else that adds color to the world
37. My fleece blanket
38. Waking up and realizing I can keep sleeping.
39. Small towns with gas stations and Wendy's along long stretches of highway.
40. I-Tunes
41. Hot showers
42. Late test days with no late fee at the testing center
43. Dollar menus
44. My faithful little car
45. My absentee roommate
46. My clean and well-decorated apartment
47. The Atonement
48. Prophets
49. Picking the right team in the war in heaven (barely)
50. Moments when I feel close to heaven
51. Knowing God accepts and loves me
52. Music lyrics that say the things I've been thinking but just couldn't express.
53. My brothers who look like me so I know I’m not adopted
54. Modern medicine
55. Getting to keep my wisdom teeth
56. Google
57. People who play music in the street (especially those kids at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle)
58. Being American
59. Looking Latino/Jewish/Arabic
60. Mountain meadows
61. Weather that perfectly fits my mood
62. Smoothies
63. Not being all that messed up
64. Somehow avoiding speeding tickets
65. Indoor plumbing
66. Having very talented siblings
67. The beach
68. The few peeks at love I’ve had
69. Church leaders
70. Agency
71. My parents for never making me walk around with one of those child-leash things on
72. My mom for being an amazing cook/decorator
73. My dad for making it so we never worried about money
74. My dad for serving people all the time
75. Mormon funerals
76. The counseling center
77. Being so dang good looking
78. My Quiksilver jacket I got for $14.99
79. Hymns, special musical numbers, and prelude music
80. Graham crackers (good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
81. Tortilla chips (equally good)
82. The hikes I went on as a Boy Scout
83. The clothes of my brother who is on a mission
84. The CD collection of my other brother on a mission
85. My brother getting home next week
86. My nephews and nieces
87. Study guides
88. Cell phones
89. People who do the jobs I’d never want to.
90. The memorization technique my seminary teacher taught us.
91. Running shoes
92. Fireflies
93. Bonfires
94. Hammocks
95. Trampolines
96. Seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, and smelling (although I’m admittedly less thankful for smell)
97. My over-analytical, hyper-sensitive, silent observer nature
98. People who talk to me normally and don’t ask if I’m dating anyone
99. The Marriott School
100. Summer
101. Hope of good things to come

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Frigid Obscurity

With more than a month to go until winter even officially starts, the weather is unofficially way too cold and dark. I keep getting distracted looking for airline tickets to warmer climates. Here are some warm pictures I found to at least help you imagine being some place warm.


You're welcome.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Phonies


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Long Sunday Post

The sun never quite made it out today. The occasional rain and wind is tearing the last leaves off the trees. Gloomy clouds fill the sky and snake along the mountains and up the canyons. It all looks very ominous. Winter in Utah isn't my favorite season. Maybe if I just learned to ski....

Despite the forbidding weather, today was a good day. Church felt especially early at 9 a.m. but I wore my wool sweater so I could at least close my eyes and kind of imagine I was still under my warm covers. We had ward conference today and the lessons and talks all focused on seeking out the one--especially giving service and sharing the gospel. Those are two of my favorite topics and the speakers were splendid. Our high counselor told some great stories. He’s from Payson. People from Utah know how to tell really good stories.
I had "Once in Royal David's City" stuck in my head for some reason but I can never remember the tune of the first line and that was kind of frustrating me. I always get it confused with the tune from "Guide Us Oh Thou Great Jehovah."
After church I came home and stayed home for about nine solid hours except for taking out the garbage and one short visit to another apartment. Two of my roommates are out of town so it was just me and my roommate, the EQP, at home. I really like the EQP; in fact I told someone today that I think he's the best roommate I've ever had. I also told someone else that I think I'm his service project. He sits by me at church, comes into my room at least once a day just to chat and see how my day's going, and invites me to do stuff with him all the time. Plus, he does his dishes, likes international films, and he's into dancing, singing, music, and all that. When he asked me what movie I saw last night, I was almost embarrassed to say Bride and Prejudice but he surprised me saying he loved that movie... cool.
He and I gave a blessing today to a girl he home teaches. She was worried about a lot of the same stuff I'm worried about--graduating, prioritizing her time, and getting everything done she needs to. She said "I feel like I'm doing lots of stuff ok but nothing really well." I've felt like that too. During the blessing I was praying for my roommate that he'd be inspired and I really felt like he was cause he started out hesitantly but then said some awesome stuff. I got a good taste of the spirit and the blessing probably helped me as much as it helped her.
I spent a lot of time alone in my room today. The past few days I’ve been with my best friends a ton and I love spending time with them, but I’m sure they get tired of me and occasionally its good to just be alone to sort through my thoughts. I finally read more than one chapter of the Book of Mormon in one day. I really need to pick up the pace though to finish by the end of the year. I listened to some first-rate Sunday music, including Christian music by Jars of Clay that I've been liking and two songs I found on my computer that I used to listen to on repeat in my darker days.

These are them (skip this part if you're getting bored):

Psalm
I thought this road I’ve been wandering held promises at every bend.
But every turn just leads me to nowhere and every step takes me far away from You.
Long, long road out before me, longer still the road behind.
I’m too afraid to change my direction-- too ashamed that I’m far away from You.
I remember everything like the first time that You took my hand.
You said You would lead me, lead me forever, I did not understand.
I let go of everything, when I chose to release your hand.
I thought I knew the price I was paying, the price of wandering far away from You.
I know that I’ve earned my emptiness.
I know I’m reaping what I’ve sown.
Now as I mourn the distance between us, you come and show I’m not so far away from you.
And you chase away my emptiness, and you chase the sorrow from my soul. You bind my wounds and bear up my burdens till somehow I am whole.
And I’m set free because you have loved me.
Now this road new before me seems brighter than the road before and I will hold your hand for forever. And I’ll never wander far away from you.

Better than I
I thought I knew what’s right, thought I’d found the answers, thought I’d chose the surest road, but that road brought me here.
So I put up a fight, I told you how to help me. Now just when I had given up, the truth is coming clear.
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
This has been the test. I can not see the reason. But maybe knowing I don’t know is part of getting through. I try to do what’s best. Faith has made it easy to see the best thing I can do is put my trust in you.
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
I saw a cloud and thought it was the sky.
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow.
But it was you who taught that bird to fly.
If I let you teach me, will you teach me?
You know better than I. You know the way. I’ve let go of my need to know why, for you know better than I.
I’ll take what answer you supply, you know better than I.

I also listened several times to Go the Distance from Hercules. I've got to give credit to Pinetree for referring that song to me. It’s become something of my anthem recently.

I know I can't just wrap myself in the gospel and pray myself out of my problems, but I do feel like I need to be a little closer to the spirit. My realism doesn't need to replace faith. I can still trust in the Lord. I need to be a little less bitter and sarcastic. My life is pretty good.

I finally got to read this article by Master FOB Coming Out Straight. He's a gay man who chose to marry a woman. I really appreciated his grounded optimism. This week my counselor asked me (as he often does) what I want in life. I told him that what I really want is a nice house, a trampoline, country music, a church calling, T-ball games, school plays, Fourth of July barbeques with the neighbors, and summer nights sitting on the porch drinking lemonade and watching the kids wrestle in the grass. I don’t think I want that cause that's what the church tells me to want or because I'm ignorant of other options. I just can't see myself being really happy in coffee shops, discotheques, chat rooms, and pride parades. I guess the middle ground is a life of celibacy and "great loneliness"--bearable but not my ideal.
So that's what I want. I'm content with the way things are now though and I just don't know what's going to happen.

There's this really sweet girl I work with at my campus custodial job. We were talking about dance classes yesterday and we decided she would try to get into my country dance class to be my partner. I sent her an e-mail today telling her what section I'm in and she responded with a girlishly friendly e-mail. This girl is so cool but I'm not attracted to her and probably never will be... Still, in the interest of being less bitter, it’s nice to remember how nice girls can be.

Speaking of girls, a girl from my business group invited me over to her apartment for hot chocolate and cookies tonight. There were a bunch of people from her ward there and it was cool meeting new people and just making small talk. I love quote boards. On the quote board I saw the name of someone I know from this volunteer thing I coordinate. When I mentioned that, my friend asked if I knew a girl named Becca... Oh no! Yeah, I know her. Its a long story, but basically I had called and e-mailed her several times to get her to start volunteering but she was waiting for her friends to be able to start and her friends haven't been able to start volunteering cause of other stuff I can't control. So one of the times I called this Becca girl I know I sounded like a total jerk cause I basically just told her to stop waiting for her friends and volunteer cause we need her now or else let me know if she doesn't want to do it... I didn't mean to be rude, but I was just trying to explain the situation to her... anyways... apparently she had been over at this apartment for lunch and was complaining about how disorganized this whole volunteer thing was. I can't stand to have people not like me, so I made them invite Becca over for cookies too! She came, but my friends told me just to make chit-chat but not tell her who I was for awhile. We made chit-chat for a long while and finally I got ready to go and chickened out about telling her who I was. As I left my friend pointed to her and mouthed "should I tell her?" I said yes. Now she’ll think I’m an even bigger jerk. I swear though, all the other people I volunteer with like me.

Anyways, it was a good Sunday. I think I took at least three naps. This whole week turned out nice. No prince charming ever showed up, but I do have some great friends who fill the void. With the anticipation of Thanksgiving break, this next week should be even more bearable. I can almost taste my mom’s turkey and stuffing and can’t wait to hang with my nieces in a little over a week.
Happy birthday tomorrow to Gilmore Guy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Waiting for my prince to come


A minute ago I told my roommate I'm ready for a knight on a white horse to come and rescue me from this provincial life...
To top it all off, I just lost a tiny screw from my glasses somewhere in my plush carpet. That's gonna be hard to find.
It was actually a good day all in all, but the mid-semester stretch is just killer. Everything feels a little off. Maybe it will all be better in four hours when I wake up.
Anyways, two weeks from right now I'll be in Arizona on Thanksgiving Break. I think I can hold out that long.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Custodians say the darnedest things

It had been awhile since I worked the night shift at my campus custodial job. The night shift is special because:
A. It’s when all the slackers work.
B. All the real work has already been done during the day.
C. The supervisor goes home after a few minutes and puts the most senior custodian (yeah, that’s me) in charge.

So we scrubbed spots off plastic chairs using those cool “magic eraser” pads for three hours. Turns out they’re not quite as magical as the commercial claims.
The best thing about my job is hanging with a group of people who are pretty much total strangers or casual acquaintances at best. Despite being unfamiliar and totally different personalities, something about cleaning up poo together makes people feel like old friends. Our three-hour conversation was all over the place—just the way I like it.
By some law, all custodial conversations must at least touch the subject of dating. Tonight we talked about dating a lot. We also talked about periods and feminine “issues,” movies, puberty, converting vegetarians to meat, hot people at work, and homosexuality…lots and lots of homosexuality.

ME: “Basically the only reason I even consider getting married still is just cause I know I probably should.”
MARRIED GUY: “Come on, you’re a guy, there has to be a physical aspect.”
ME: “Um, no really no. I think after you hit a certain age the biological clock just runs out and there’s nothing left.”
MARRIED GUY: “Hmm… I’d really have to question a guy who says that. You do like girls don’t you?”
Pause as I consider my options.
ME: “Yeah I do like girls… but not enough to marry one.”

Later…
MARRIED GUY: “Sometimes girls are like ‘I’m so glad I’m a girl,’ but being a girl would suck. [He lists reasons] The only bad thing about being a guy is being so physically attracted to girls and having to constantly control your thoughts.”
ME: “Hmm… it’s been a long time since I’ve been that attracted to a girl.”
MARRIED GUY: “Well you’re lucky then.”

From a girl on the dance team…
“I know lots of gay guys at BYU and they all try to repress it and pretend they are straight. I’m just like, don’t just pretend to be straight, Be Straight! Either that or just be really gay.”

ANOTHER GIRL: “I work with a gay guy at my other job, he’s hilarious. He’s so flaming”
SINGLE GUY: “Gross.”

Voting for the hottest guy and girl custodians…
ME (Talking about one of the other custodians working with us): “James is pretty hot too, don’t forget about James.”
GIRL 1: “Yeah I think James is number two. If I didn’t have a boyfriend he and I would totally hook up.”
GIRL 2: “We need a cool name for James that makes him sound hot.”
ME: “How about “Flamin’ Jamin?”
GIRL 1: “Umm… I think that means something else.”

GIRL 1: “Why do you think the rainbow got associated with being gay?”
MARRIED GUY: “I think cause the rainbow has all the colors so no one knows if it is a boy or a girl.”
ME: “I think cause rainbows are really cool and gay people wanted a really cool symbol so they picked it before anyone else did.”
GIRL 1: “I don’t think so.”

Talking about something....
GIRL 2: "I learned that in my Miracle of Forgiveness class.
ME: "They have a Miracle of Forgiveness class?"
GIRL 2: "At my old college."
ME: "Oh, I don't really like that book. It says some pretty crazy stuff" (I was thinking about the section on homosexuality but decided not to elaborate).
MARRIED GUY: "Like the part where it tells the story about the Seventy who was out riding his horse and he saw Sasquatch and they talked and he told him he was Cain and he had been condemned to grow hair all over his body and wander the earth for eternity."
ME: I wasn't thinking about that, but that is pretty crazy.

After the married guy asked the girl if she felt bad that the boy who she reactivated and is dating hasn’t served a mission when the prophet said everyone should serve a mission…
GIRL: “My grandma was like, ‘well you better get him on a mission.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen grandma.’ Old people can be so dumb.”
I told about this guy who sat in front of me in my business ethics class who got noticeably uncomfortable both times my teacher made some sweeping statement about how we had all been on missions or something to that effect. After the second time I asked the guy about it after class and found out that he hadn’t served a mission. He told me he gets frustrated and feels embarrassed whenever the topic comes up, even though he knows he shouldn’t be. I told him sorry that people at BYU assume a lot and sometimes don’t think before they say stuff. We became pretty good friends after that and he impressed me every time he did a presentation in class. It was an ethics class so we talked about the gospel and I could tell he was just a really good guy. I have no idea why he didn’t serve a mission and really don’t care, the point is he’s a stud.
So we custodians talked about that girls shouldn’t just go through a checklist with a guy like, “yeap he’s served a mission, check.” Cause I know plenty of idiots who serve missions and plenty of fine fellas who don’t.
Everyone agreed.

To substantiate my point that some real idiots serve missions...
GIRL 2: “I knew this one kid at my old college who went on a mission just cause he thought he owed it to the church but then as soon as he came home, he revealed that he was gay. And I was like, ‘a lot of good the mission did him.’”
ME: “Um… Gay people can be good missionaries. There were two latinos in my mission who were open about being gay and they were fine missionaries.”
MARRIED GUY: “But their poor companions!”
SINGLE GUY: “Yeah, there was a ward mission leader in my mission who was gay.”
ME: “When I was in his zone, one of those gay missionaries baptized a gay guy and he was called as the ward mission leader. I went on splits with them both once.”
GIRL 2: “Wait a second. That’s just wrong. How can you be gay and have a calling like that?”
ME: “Ok, I guess I should say “same-sex attracted” they were attracted to guys but they didn’t act on it. They were totally worthy. There are lots of people like that in the church.”
GIRL 2: “Oh, ok. I guess that’s ok.”

Me telling another custodian that he won our vote for hottest male custodian…
HOTTEST MALE CUSTODIAN: “What about you man?”
ME: “Oh, they were judging the whole body… if they were just voting for best nose then I would have won for sure.”
HOTTEST MALE CUSTODIAN: “See, how can I compete with that sense of humor?”

I can’t believe they pay me for this crap.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Self-Flattery

In another exploit along my constant quest to make other people pay attention to me, I've added some cool features to my blog sidebar. Please enjoy the music video. I'll try to change it frequently. I just fixed it so it doesn't come on automatically--that was really annoying. Click play if you're in a musical mood. The other additions are just fluff. I am pretty proud of myself for remembering some of this html stuff from my Information Systems class... ok, I'm more than proud, I think I'm a genius. I got a 100% on a hard test today.... maybe I really am I genius.