Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So Long, Farewell, Awe-vee-der-zane, Goodnight

Tomorrow will be a marathon of a day: 7:30 to 7:30. Ah, parent-teacher conferences, five hours of finding the bright side in every scenario. Wish me luck.

Friday morning I head to Lost Wages for a much needed vacation. Hence the reason I'm not freaking out so much about the conferences.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Manners: A Lost Art?

It has been said that people show their true colors in a crisis. I decided today that this old assumption is not entirely accurate. I believe that people actually reveal themselves in a very common, ordinary situation. I believe that people show their truest colors in the parking lot.

I came to this conclusion during the four hours I spent directing traffic in a church parking lot today. I'm not quite certain as to how I wrangled myself into the events of my day, but we'll boil it down to this: I am driven and motivated by guilt. I once read something to the tune of: the challenges of life aren't really good versus evil--life is hardly so epic--most days the battle we fight is doing good versus doing nothing. And because this struck a chord with me (and is apparently still striking), I seem to volunteer for things I really do not want to do. Alice, who seriously cannot and will not ever say NO, tends to make this happen on an even more frequent basis. For me, it is especially likely that I jump in when I'm quite positive that no one else is all that willing to do it. That cliche little angel on my shoulder always pipes in with her annoying voice, pleading, "It needs to be done and if you don't do it, then who will?"

And so, when the relief society president of my ward informed us that her dad needed help with "ushering" at the Draper Temple open house because the members of his stake (the stake called to this responsibility) were so over volunteering after a few months (understandable), Alice and I raised our hands and told her we would help out.

Alice is a social worker and I am a teacher, self-described do-gooders, over-educated (with the student loan debt to prove it) and underpaid. Apparently self-punishment and penance run deeply in our DNA--we were wired incorrectly from the get go, I believe. (Becoming best friends and roommates has only resulted in a multiplication of self-punishment and penance episodes.) Basically, we're very stupid gluttons for punishment.

Anyway, back to the story, so "ushering" in my best Sunday clothes quickly morphed into me still wearing my best Sunday clothes covered by an almost incandescent orange vest with reflector strips. And that whole "ushering at the temple" gig transitioned into the reality: locating empty parking places in an overcrowded church parking lot for the arriving tourists. Oh, and making sure people didn't park in the partitioned off sections of the lot where the shuttle bus carrying these same tourists needed to turn wide on its journey up to the temple.

But the day was sunny and I kept telling myself this was important work, WWJD, I'm from Pioneer Stock and can handle this even if these new shoes will probably give me blisters, etc. So we helped the crowds as they arrived (as best we could). And did I mention it was sunny?

Lucky for us, the vast majority in the steady stream of tourists were patient with the limited parking availability. They were polite. They entered on the "entry" side of the parking lot. They waited for more spaces to become available. They teasingly commented on my orange vest and treated me with human decency, knowing that I had no control over the parked cars. Knowing that I was just a girl trying to do the right thing, sacrificing the middle of her Saturday to help out. Recognizing that, in spite of the orange vest, I was quite powerless. Because as reasonable, rational people, the vast majority of temple tourists understood that there is no such thing as a supreme being of the parking lot with a talent for swiping cars out of their way. So patience and politeness are probably their best option. And, really, circling around the lot a time or two wouldn't hurt until that time when more busses arrived filled with leaving tourists in leaving vehicles.

And then there were the Others. Wait, before I explain these Others, let me first put this as nicely as possible: we all are in a hurry sometimes and in that hurry everything seems to go wrong. We all let our behavior slip into the impatient. We all get a little frustrated. These are natural and understandable reactions. But, you would think that while going to tour a temple on a sunny, unhurried Saturday (here, in Utah, where the majority of the population touring the LDS temple are, well, probably LDS and the majority of these LDS individuals probably believe in the sacred nature of temples, etc.), well, you would think that you might put some of those negative feelings aside for a few hours and just submit to going with the flow and enjoying the spirit of the event. You would think that this would be the case, but my friends, it was not.

Let me tell you, these others (oh, these others!) showed a side of humanity that is disappointing to see. Social Darwinism, that whole philosophy of every man for himself and dog eat dog and survival of the fittest, must infuse the lives of far too many in this world. Because these others followed with exact precision the selfish rules of Social Darwinism.

They cheated: sneaking in through the exit to steal spots from waiting cars. They broke the rules, parking in clearly partitioned off spots. They acted nasty when I said they couldn't park there (until I kindly, saccharinely informed them they could remain if they didn't mind the bus taking out their back seat). Some simply ignored (read: nearly plowed down) the person checking tickets at the entry. A few littered their unwanted items in the lot (because I guess that finding trash receptacles must be impossible, what with the enormous blue dumpster you've driven past multiple times staring at you in the face). Several simply rolled down their windows and demanded I direct them where to park "in this mess." Others, opting to park on the road, had to be told to clear their cars from blocking the driveways of the church house's neighbors. And, upon their return on the bus, the same individuals filled with complaint two hours earlier, lazed and laughed in the same overcrowded parking lot still encircled with patient, creeping vehicles waiting for their spot. Rather than scuttle off to clear the way for more tourists, they decided on dinner plans and waited while someone powdered their nose; they cleaned the car out, changed from suit and tie into street clothes. One group with multiple vehicles even held a picnic.

And I, representing a church with a doctrine and message I believe in fully, had to smilingly show patience and kindness and a tightly controlled lip with every last one of them, in spite of their selfish inconsideration.

And then, near the end of my shift, came the icing on my Disappointed in the Human Race Cake. Not only did her husband originally pull into the exit and flat out LIE to me about it (politely, at least), but she had the audacity to, in an uppity tone like I've never heard uppity before, inform me that "THIS has been organized VERY poorly" when said husband dropped her and their children at the door. And I, biting my bleeding tongue, smiled like I didn't quite hear her, and turned to stare into the sky as if admiring the day. She stomped into the building and I started formulating the following blog post in my mind. It read:

Dear Temperamental Temple Tourist,

Listen, lady, I know waiting really throws you for a loop. Clearly. But I'm just trying to do the right thing here even though, frankly, it really, really sucks. I'm not the god of the lot. I can't just pick up cars so that you and your yuppy spawn who happen to be honor roll students at Bryant Middle School (don't worry, those FIVE bumper stickers you posted on your status-mobile announcing this fact were not missed--by anyone) can get right in to watch the movie and tour the temple. Sometimes parking is scarce. Sometimes we have to wait. Get over it. Grow some manners. Your kids are watching you and learning to do everything you do.

P.S. If you'd like, I'll turn this orange vest over and you see about organizing the entire event that has been going on for over a month with thousands of visitors daily and thus far they haven't lost a single one.
P.P.S. I spoke too soon. Scratch that. Casualties: 1.

Eventually we were relieved of our posts, Alice and I, with battle stories to share: she nearly getting hit by cars, me hearing the wrath of the impatient. We drove away, leaving an empty spot in the lot that was, I'm sure, quickly filled. All in all, in spite of our wounds, it really wasn't a bad day. Like I said, most of the visitors were polite and decent. But those Others got me thinking--we've lost something in our culture. Is it manners? Goodness? Patience? Self-sacrifice? All those democratic ideals, all those altruistic characteristics and personality traits we say attract us to others? We've lost something, clearly--the intricate workings of our economy surely cannot be blamed singlehandedly on the government.

I think the events of my day pointed to my guilty truth, once again. It doesn't take a crisis to show our true selves. It just takes the ordinary. We show who we are day after day, one small action after another. What I read is true: our daily battle is doing good versus doing nothing. We are either being selfish, or we are not. And in order for society to run smoothly, someone needs to do good. Who will raise their hand?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Day in Numbers (Or Rookie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

Number of times I pushed snooze...3.

Number of times I checked the clock in my car to make sure I wasn't really THAT late to work...47.

Number of times I repeated directions to my students on a new writing program...872.

Number of people I ate with during lunch (unless you count the other people in the restaurant).

Number of assignments graded...79.

Number of text messages sent...103.

Number of text messages received...98.

Number of times I lost my car keys...1.

Number of times I scoured the parking lot of the doctors' office for said car keys...17.

Number of times I stared through the windows in my car to see of car keys were locked in...27.

Number of times I scoured the waiting room in the doctors' office for said car keys...83.

Number of times I scoured the exam room in the doctors' office for said car keys...14.

Number of people with car keys in-hand as they left the doctors' office (that I possibly stared longingly at)...35.

Number of suspicious people I accused in my mind of stealing said car keys (and stealthily followed into the parking lot--I swear she had two sets of keys in her hands)...1.

Number of phone calls to roommate to come rescue me at the doctors' office and swing by the house for a spare key...2, maybe 3.

Number of times my cell phone battery died while waiting for said roommate to come rescue me with said spare key...1.

Number of times I nearly cried...3.

Number of hours spent at the doctors' office...3.

Number of minutes spent (naively) thinking I was a car key and remote entry pad owner while at the doctors' office...15 (it all went down hill from there).

Number of hours my rescue team spent stuck in traffic or lost in an attempt to save me at the doctors' office...2.

Number of suspicious Land Rovers driven by a suspicious key thief (that I swear simply drove by in the parking lot hours after leaving with what I'm pretty sure were my keys) that I might have stealthily followed in traffic and scared a little (because Alice brought the spare key)

Number of chances I'm wrong on that...too many to count.

Number of found

Number of new red stiletto heels stuck in sidewalk cracks at the temple...1.

Number of times I was glad I went to ward temple night (in spite of a wretched day)...156.

Number of times I stare-glanced a little bit at my new ward crush at ward temple night...16.

Number of times I really tried to NOT like his (DTR, please) "lady friend" with the great personality (she needs an eyebrow maintenance session--her only weakness)...I gave up after about 3.

Number of gallons of gas put in my car because it was bone dry...14.

Number of hours left until I need to wake up...6.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's the Little Things

The little things are what get me through winter. These simple pleasures let me know this season I spend buried beneath snow and sweaters will eventually end. 

Today I smiled because...


with some of these:

and a few "choppings" of this:

mixed with a squeeze of this:

and a small dash of this:

makes me feel like winter has disappeared just a little bit, 
and I'm living like this again:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weak in the Knees

Last week I went for my annual check up with the doctor. And by annual I mean my first time visiting the doctor for a complete health check since I went off my parents' insurance several years ago. (I know better. I have no excuse--procrastinating the inevitable is my bag, baby.)

In case you were wondering, I hated every last minute of it. The paperwork, the weigh in, the nurse's smug "Mmm kay" as she recorded the number following the weigh in, that awful hospital "gown" (or peep show with sleeves), the stirrups, the lecture about what I should and should not be doing.

But nothing, nothing at the doctor's office compares with the slow removal of MY blood through a thin steel device inserted directly through MY vein wall. Of all the things that happened to me here, this ritual was the most invasive, the most torturous.

Examine my va-j-j and conduct a breast exam while I stare uncomfortably at your fluorescent office lights, I can handle that. Ask for all of my top secret information including social security number and my weight (which, under normal circumstances, is revealed to flat out NO ONE), okay. But my blood!? You want my blood?!

Let me explain. Wait, no, I don't think I can explain it clearly. It is like this: I don't particularly like needles. Any needle with the sole function of entering my epidermis is not a good thing. But a needle carrying a vaccine into my upper arm might make me grit my teeth and little else. I can handle it with little more than a grimace. The real problem with needles arises when the sole function of that needle is to slice through a perfectly innocent vein and remove life-giving fluid from my body. For whatever reason, this tips me over the edge, typically the edge of consciousness. I sweat everywhere. The blood that was previously renewing my brain function suddenly goes AWOL and I turn a pale shade of colorless. My vision goes foggy, my breathing becomes labored, and I essentially lose muscle function and the ability to act sober. I lose conscientious control of my own body.

The pain isn't the issue. I can handle that little pinch of pain. And I'm not really opposed to freely giving my blood away because I know I will produce more. But, for whatever reason, this process of blood removal sends all functions of homeostasis into a chaotic disaster zone. And I cannot mentally stop it from happening. No matter the positive self pep talk, no matter my focus on anything but their blood snatching, I go weak in the knees every last time.

Perhaps it is that I have deeply buried veins in the crooks of my elbows (they usually go through my hand for the blood supply). Perhaps I should blame it on that destitute year of college when plasma donation kept me in an abundant supply of top ramen. Whatever the reason, I struggle physiologically with giving blood.

And the eight or so vials they removed last week are no exception to my trend. I wanted to go lie down, I wanted to stick my head between my knees. I wanted to get out of there and go to my car and forget the medical lab had ever happened upon my day. But I had to sit still. I had to stare at a wall until the ordeal was over. And by the time it was over, it was too late. I'd gone into my freaky blood loss zone, teetering between consciousness and a starry, starry night.

There is no point to this blog post, really. Other than to give you a good laugh at my weak-kneed expense. And, perhaps, this: the next time I go weak in the knees and swoon a bit, I'd prefer it be for a good reason. Say, six or so feet of tall, dark, single, normal(ish), LDS, and handsome. That's all I ask.

Time for Something New

I've been eyeing this designer paper pack for a while now. I finally decided tonight was the night (much to Alice's dismay) for a new blog layout. Many thanks, as always, to Alice, my html "expert" (or at least the one gal I know who has the patience to figure out the frustrating HTML ridiculousness!).

Just so you all know, I LOVE it. There is nothing quite like a makeover.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I think I now know how I got myself into debt...

This week after grabbing dinner, Alice and I decided to visit our favorite overpriced store to see what we could see on the clearance racks. It was during this venture that I figured out the root of my issue with spending money I don't necessarily have on things I don't necessarily need.

I can now say that I blame it on my imagination and overly strong sense of empathy. I've been trained (by myself? by the media?) to see the potential of every diamond in the rough. And during clothing shopping this tendency manifests itself like a bad rash.

"Oooh," I think, "that knitted poncho could toast me right up during the cold winter months in my classroom!" I think. "I'd be like the school's eccentric/sophisticated/slightly hippy-ish English teacher wearing that." I think. These mistakes have found their way into my goodwill bag time and time again.

And so, my insanely active imagination expressed itself full force once again during our most clearance rack browsing trip. 

It all started when I saw IT: a vanilla colored, asymmetrical/chunky knitted collar, synched slightly at the waist, hits just below the hip, dressy-casual masterpiece at 75% off. At that price, this coat was a steal!

In this coat I could make men swoon. In this coat women would drool with envy and attack me with sharp claws when they found out the clearance special I nailed. In this coat, I would fall in love with the man of my dreams in a chick-flick-esque love montage: building a snowman together with my coat and maybe a bright knitted hat and matching mittens, kissing in the snow with that coat, walking through a brisk autumn in central park together, my coat standing out against the leaves. This coat, my coat, would star in this whirlwind romance. Imagine with me:



*kind of what it looked like but not really even close at all because my coat was even more splendid and I am certain I looked better than some skinny, faceless catalogue model


*only the jump for joy would include my coat

I saw every last reel stream through my head and I hadn't even pulled it off the rack. When I put it on it got worse, trust me. This coat was dreamy and beautiful and looked even better on than hanging there, lifeless. And did I mention it was on SALE?

But I didn't buy it.

Oh, I took it into the dressing room with me and a smoking hot red dress (that was too tight in all the wrong places and quite itchy, really). I paraded the coat for Alice to see. I stared in the mirror at me in my coat. But amongst the reels of my future's movie footage, a few key facts kept bludgeoning in on my shopping nirvana:

1. I already own several casual coats and two dressy-er clearance coats. One red, one black. They haven't fulfilled their imaginative promises yet.

2. I spill or accidentally rub everything on me from dry erase marker dust to salsa. And here I was foaming at the mouth for a CREAM coat.

3. 75% off at my favorite overpriced store isn't really that much of a steal, especially when it's in the coat department. And I didn't have the available cash so it would without doubt be going on my credit card.

4. There isn't really a four, but one through three sort of kept reoccurring again and again and again, interrupting my imagination incessantly.

The final slap in the face came when Alice, who supported my purchase because she knows better than to stop me when I get "that glazed over, far off stare" in my eyes (her exact words describing me while facing any and all clearance racks), said, "that's kind of like Cameron Diaz's coat in The Holiday."

That is when I knew I couldn't get it. I was duped by my own imagination and too many chick flicks over the years. The purchase would be impractical and stupid. It wouldn't bring world peace or the man of my dreams.  It promised nothing, not even to keep me all that warm.  And I'd probably get a bloody nose or worse the first time I took it out on the town.  And, after all, I'd just have to pay it off when the bill came.

And so, I've learned what my problem is when it comes to the ever-stuffed-can't-find-ANYTHING-in-here closet. We can blame my imagination.  Yes, all the lies my imagination tells me as it runs away from me all the way to the counter where it pulls out my card and buys unfulfilled promises.

P.S. A little piece of me still wishes I had that coat.  
P.P.S.  Does anybody else do this too?  Tell me I don't need help!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Feeling Lucky?

Everybody I know seems to be doing this, so I signed myself up. Hope you'll play along.

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me.

My choice. For you.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It'll be done this year (hopefully sooner than later).
4. You will have no clue what it is going to be.
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh the catch is that you must re-post this on your blog. The first 5 people to do so and leave a comment telling me you did will win a FABULOUS homemade gift by me!

** Oh, and be sure to post a picture of what you win when you get it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I've Always Liked the Far Side

I think of my landlady's four (yes, I did in fact say FOUR) freaking chihuahuas every single time I see this one.