29 October, 2008

The Miracle of the Bra

Brothers and Sisters, I have a testimony that God laughs. Mostly at me.

I could cite numberless examples, that would have you all crying at my misfortune (NOT with laughter, you callous fiend!), but I will spare you this time because whenever I start an epic post that tries to summarize more than three events that have happened in my life, I neglect to finish it.

Today, however, a miracle occurred. Because I believed.

I work at the temple Wednesday nights, as the three people who read this blog already know. I would wager that even the most Jack of Mormons knows that in the temple, one wears white. This includes white hose, white slips, white undergarments, and of course, for those who need it, white bras.

So this afternoon I arrived at the temple about ten minutes before my shift started, congratulating myself for being on time for once in my life, mostly because I had chosen to wear a skirt and blouse to school that day. I sauntered into the dressing room, feeling pretty good, and that a thought assaulted my brain that made me stop in my tracks.

I was wearing a dark maroon bra.



This one, in fact. Which would so show even underneath a camisole, slip, and dress, because this is MAROON and all those other items are WHITE.

Seriously? My life is a joke. But now, the miracle!

In the locker room the sisters keep a little box of little bitty bras for my fellow sisters who also occasionally, ahem, forget. To be honest, most of the bras in the box are so small I figure a girl who needed one of those would be just as well off forgoing the bra altogether. My less-endowed girlfriends do it all the time. But maybe some girls find that gross. Anyway, I started going through the box. 34A. 36B. 38A. I hated my life. Then one of the sweet elderly sisters saw my distress and came to my rescue. Together we dug to the bottom of the box. Aha! 38D!

That is, in fact, not my size. I'm actually a DD, if you care. If you don't, then why are you still reading this, you weirdo?

I haven't fit into a D in years. Nevertheless, the adorable lady told me to go try it on, and see if I could get it to fit. I figured it might not be the most comfortable evening of my life, but I could probably manage something.

I went in unto the locker room. I took off my shirt. And to the sound of a chorus of numerous concourses of angels ...

IT FIT!

Like a glove. Like the widow's oil cruse. It's not a perfect metaphor, I know. But I was so happy I almost cried. Holy tender mercy, Batman.

I'm expecting a letter from the Vatican any day now.

28 October, 2008

The Brain Game ... or I go off the deep end in a matter of paragraphs

This weekend I went home for no reason at all except that I wanted to. As a bonus incentive, Cori was there and I don't get to see her (or Donovan) nearly as often as I would like. It was a good weekend. I even enjoyed the 13-hour drive, truth be told. It was nice to listen to music/NPR (my secret shame) and focus on one thing for so long. It was like meditating while operating heavy machinery, which I am sure all experts recommend. For the past five days I haven't thought about school, my plans for the future, the state of my personal finances or all the ways in which I fall short of my own expectations for myself. All I thought about during the drive was:

1. Is Sego OK? The answer was always yes. I am blessed to have such a chill dog. He travels beautifully.
2. Where did this song on my iPod come from? I like it/it sucks. I want to put it on a CD/delete it.
3. Do I have enough gasoline? The answer was also yes more often than not.
4. Am I hungry enough to actually stop and buy a meal? The answer was no every time except one.
5. How many miles to Boise/Ontario/Seattle/Provo/Babylon?

I should mention that as a result of my let's-not-think-about-anything weekend, I completely forgot about a midterm I was supposed to take today. Whoops.

Unimportant. What is really important is how wonderful my family is (Cori is included therein) and how happy it made me to be with them for a few days. My parents are getting along so well these days that sometimes I forget they're divorced. Don't ask me if that's good, bad, or weird, because I still haven't figured that out. My point is it was a weekend sans conflict, which is my favorite kind. David and Carlos are crazy old, and awesome. Donovan is freaking adorable. My grandma and I had several tea party jam sessions during which we talked about politics and reviewed family gossip. The members of my former ward not only remember me, but are glad to see me when I visit. We went out to dinner at a Mexican place near Southcenter and the waiter put a sombrero on my head and sang to me in Spanish. Good times, I tell you.

There are a lot of raw concepts and orphan sentences swimming around in my head, and I can't make sense or cohesive paragraphs out of any of them. Themes include ways in which Cori has changed since getting married and having a baby, and ways in which she hasn't changed at all; Scott's leaving for Kuwait and what lies in store for him there; my Aunt Debi and our conversation over tea about self-esteem and balancing career with family; David's college applications; my absentee ballot; sugary cereal and cartoons with Carlos; ordering the only vegetarian dish at a diner even though I knew it would be vile ....

Now I'm home and I should be studying, doing laundry, and drafting an email to my professor begging for mercy re: the midterm I missed today. But part of me just wants to stay in that limbo between home and here, doing the things I want to do with the people I love (who spread themselves across many continents, unfortunately) and conveniently disappearing from things I don't want a part in. Which I know is impossible.

A friend of mine wrote a note to her husband on facebook that made me think. It started with, "I know I could never beat you at the brain game..." One of those phrases that gets stuck in my head, like a bar from a song. The phrase, independent of its original context, got my mind heading in a strange direction. Two girls from my ward got married recently. Arranged marriages both. No, like, literally. To guys from India. An old friend of mine is getting married and has changed his glasses and the way he dresses, even his goals for the future, to appease his fiancee and future in-laws.

I've been thinking about that all weekend. When is it good to change for someone else? Is it ever? What does it mean to be self-actualized, and when does that concept drift into selfishness or eccentricity?

I picture the version of myself that is truest to who I really am, and I'll be honest, she's pretty odd. Then again, even the version of who I am right now is passionately against selling out in any form. If I do decide to stay this way, and be the kind of person who takes off for a weekend without telling anyone, like a cat, will that bode ill consequences for my future? Will no one want to hire or marry me? Should I care?

Now I'm just stalling. I'm going to bed.

Obligatory Election Post

In case you were curious, I am voting for Barack Obama. Right now, actually.

18 October, 2008

What I Want Today


Thanks for the idea Janssen.

I want some delicious onigiri. From Japan. As seen above. Not the joke they sell in Seattle, even. The smiley face would be nice but is definitely negotiable.

12 October, 2008

Letter from the past OR I was funny then, too

So sometime during my senior year of high school, in my last semester, my economics teacher Miss Cobb made each of her students write a letter to herself to be read in five years. We were supposed to focus on "values," things that were most important to us at the time. I am glad I actually put some thought into this letter, because I wrote a similar letter my sophomore year that was so inane I was embarrassed to receive it five years later. It said something along the lines of, "You have a job, right? Good. I need money. Today I went to Starbucks. Bye." I must have been in a foul disposition that day.

Anyway, it has been five years. My parents actually received this letter while I was on my mission and forwarded it to me. I just found it today while I was cleaning my room, and I thought it was pretty interesting. Here it is:

Dear me in many years,

Well, I suppose many years isn't the most accurate phrase in the entire world, but anything further than tomorrow seems like a long time at this point in my life. I mean I'm really excited to go to BYU and all that, but right now I'm just trying to get through one day at a time.

So I'm supposed to write to you about my values so that you can laugh at how superficial we were back then, back now. This year I have really gotten in to spirituality. I have really been making an effort to improve myself, break bad habits and make good ones. Sometimes I wonder why, if I am working so hard, people don't seem to notice me, especially, well, guy people. I am starting to get past the desperate need I had for a boyfriend last year. My mantra has become "I'll be married in five years, so I might as well enjoy being unattached while I can." Oh, you are married, aren't you? If you're not I'm sure I've hurt your feelings. My plan was always to marry right away, but maybe that has changed. That's OK! Really! Anyway, I'm sure we will get married, eventually, even if it's only because some crusty old haishya takes pity on us. Do you remember that phrase Haishya to kekon suru tsumori desu. But seriously, money isn't really what matters to us, is it? Family. Children. That's something we value a lot. I hope our uterus is capable of doing the job, but anyway, that's disgusting. This year I have really learned to value my immediate family as well. I'll bet you miss Mom and Dad, now that you're living away from home (you better be, you loser). How often do you get to see them? Are they still alive? I'm not trying to be morbid, I'm just considering all the possibilities. I also wonder how David and Carlos are doing. Let's see, David would be almost sixteen, yikes! And Carlos would be about nine. Isn't it strange how far apart we all are? I mean the fifteen years between us and Carlos ... by the time he gets married, our kids will be practically grown up!

So now that I have totally depressed you if you aren't married yet, let's move on to another subject. Writing, our second love. You're in grad school now, are you not? I hope you got a position that involves a lot of teaching. You know how much we were looking forward to that. I really want you to keep on trucking and get that freakin' PhD. I don't care what it costs. If you want to be a real writer you have to earn it. You have to deserve to be published. And I hope you don't care about being famous, because we won't be. It doesn't really matter, anyway. All that matters is that you write all the time and get better. You know how much we value hard work and dedication.

How's Cori? You've kept in contact with her, haven't you? So how long did that Derek disaster last? Tell me they're not married or anything like that.

Also, I hope you are riding your bike and working out every day. We have to stay in shape for our admirers. And I hope you're eating right, taking vitamins and all that junk. You know how much we value health.

Good luck and I'll see (be) you really soon!

(My signature)

A few clarifications:

The Japanese sentence means "I intend to marry a rich old man," and was an inside joke in our fourth year Japanese class. Much to my dismay, I had to think a lot and use google before I could remember what that meant. Then again, I haven't studied Japanese in many years. At the time I intended to study it for the rest of my life.

At the time, Cori was dating our mutual friend Derek, and though I was a fan of him as a person, I found their relationship annoying and gross. It didn't last. Hallelujah! Shoot, Derek doesn't even play for the same team anymore, if you catch my meaning...

Obviously, at the time I was planning to get a PhD in English and become a writer. The writer part hasn't changed (though I haven't written poetry in a while ... that's embarrassing) but the desire to be an English Professor has. At the time, I assumed I would be married young and wouldn't have to be concerned about supporting myself. Ha!

Additional commentary:

This letter is pretty solid evidence that I have at least minor psychic abilities. Note that all the things I am concerned about came to pass: I am not married, I am not in graduate school, and there is a distinct possibility that I will be unable to have children. On the other hand, I do still bike, take my vitamins, and write, so my life isn't too shabby. I have not yet succumbed to the temptation to marry a rich old man about to die, but that was a joke anyway. Still don't care about money, or fame. Still best friends with Cori (Hi! Love you!). I am not living with my parents. And I'm still very much taking my life one day at a time. That's still about all I can stomach.

11 October, 2008

List thingy centered around the number 8...

Thanks Alli.

8 Things I am Passionate About:
1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2. Raising kids.
3. Civil liberties (for).
4. The Death penalty (against).
5. Peace.
6. Honesty.
7. Animal rights.
8. Environmentalism.

8 Words or Phrases I Say Often:
1. Does that make sense?
2. Oh shoot.
3. Seriously?
4. Eghhh. (If you know me, you know that sounds like)
5. Wow.
6. That sucks.
7. Oh man.
8. Sucker!

8 Things I want to do before I Die:
1. Get married.
2. Make babies.
3. Be an extra in a disaster movie.
4. Memorize all the hymns in the hymnbook.
5. Have a really, really, REALLY awesome Halloween costume.
6. Swim in every major body of water.
7. Learn to cook really well. :(
8. Study a language spoken by less than one million people.

8 Things I Have Learned From my Past:
1. Individuals are more important than categories.
2. Correcting others' grammar is not the best way to win friends.
3. Pig brain tastes terrible.
4. God has an ironic sense of humor.
5. Nothing is simple.
6. I am a sucker for _________ (fill in the blank)
7. Almost all art is meaningful.
8. What would Jesus do?

8 Places I Would Love to Go or See:
1. New Zealand.
2. India.
3. Ireland.
4. Israel.
5. Turkey.
6. Iran.
7. Kenya.
8. Paris.

8 Things I Currently Need or Want:
1. A clean house.
2. To lose weight.
3. More trust in people.
4. More time.
5. A soul mate (that is, in fact, higher on the list, but I'm too self-conscious to put it first).
6. A good Hungarian dictionary.
7. Jeans that fit me properly.
8. To be satisfied with my life right now.

09 October, 2008

Cortisol, Faith, Love, and Feces


I have been thinking about the stress hormone cortisol lately. I have made some attempt at researching it on the internet, but it reminds me of a conversation I had with Vilja freshman year. My religion professor had given a devotional about chastity, and he addressed the males first, saying, "Brethren, did you know that there are ten million sperm in your testes at any given time?" I forget the actual number but you catch my drift. Then he said, "Sisters, how many eggs do you think you were born with?" At the time, I thought I knew the answer, and responded with something in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand. He said, "Actually, you have about x eggs in your body..." and then made some point about how magical sex is, and how we should avoid it for the time being. Anyway, I was embarrassed to have answered wrong in a class that was mostly men (boys!). And I thought for sure that my answer had been correct. I told Vilja about my problem, and asked if she knew where I could find the correct answer.

V: Why don't you check out a medical textbook?
Me: Because I wouldn't understand it!

(Note: I briefly attempted to research the true answers to the aforementioned questions on wikipedia, but my search results led to medical photos of stuff I don't want to see until I'm married ... I have no desire to look at a stranger's testes, thanks)

Anyway, my point is that I've been researching cortisol but I don't understand much of what I read. I did manage to learn that it's a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands and that it increases blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduces immune responses. Raising my blood pressure? Mine is too low, so that's good. But damage to the immune system!!! That must be how I got tuberculosis on my mission!!! Stupid stress hormones ...

I found no suggestions of how to reduce the amount of cortisol I produce. Someone dear to me suggested "happy thoughts." I'll let you all know how that goes.

Speaking of happy thoughts, I have realized recently that my tendency to assume the worst about people really is a bad thing.

Yes, Cori, I recognize that you have been telling me this for years.

No, seriously. I used to think that my lens on life was a "realistic" one, and that people are by nature unreliable, so it is better to assume that no one keeps his promise, everyone will always forget something important, and that if there is a negative way of interpreting a piece of information, that is most likely the correct interpretation.

As I type that out, I realize how absurd it sounds. but that is a pretty good summary of my general beliefs about humankind. This is bad.

I was reading Alma 32 a few days ago, and the point of the seed allegory struck me in an entirely new way. I have always read those verses with the idea that one should take the gospel out for a spin, and if they like the way it feels, buy the car. Or something like that. But this time around, I started applying the nature of that allegory to people--that if you have a desire to trust someone, and give him a chance, then you can trust him a little more, and on and on to that perfect day. That might sound obvious, but it was really cool to me.

I talked to Matt about that today. He likes this girl that he thinks is out of his league (she isn't) and we discussed the idea that giving it a shot is better in the long run because then at least he'll know whether or not it would have worked out. A little awkwardness might ensue, but we Hungarians thrive with that. Plus then you have funny stories to write about in your blog (right, Kayla?).

My final subject is poop. Because I am both a nanny and a dog owner, I deal with excrement every day ... usually multiple times a day. Honestly, our western treatment of this bodily function fascinates me. Why is it that when I with friends, I can excuse myself to "go pee" and not feel strange at all, but I would never, ever excuse myself to perform its sister function? Why is it so, so taboo? Japanese people think poop is cute. Sometimes I wish I were Japanese.

Anyway, so my dog is the single greatest dog ever to walk the face of the earth (I'm biased), but he has one flaw: the last few places he lived had large fenced areas where he could go poop whenever he wanted. We do not have a fenced backyard. Thus Sego is still getting used to the idea that he has to wait to go poop until one of us takes him outside (which we do at least five times a day, so don't be calling no ASPCA on us, aight?). Results have been several incidents of poop in the house. Unpleasant. Today my dear Ama and I took the dogs for a walk and discussed potty training.

Me: I want to take that potty training class. I'm at a loss.
A: Me too, honestly.
Me: Because, I'm not sure if I should punish him when he has an accident inside, because I don't want him to think that going poop is inherently bad...
A: I know, just not inside.
Me: Right place, right time. That's crucial.
A: Going poop is a lot like having sex...

I love Ama. The End.

08 October, 2008

My Future Midlife Crisis



I know this is a little premature, in view of the fact that 1. I am only 23 and 2. I am generally surrounded by enough crises so as to have no need for a "personal" one. But my darling Thelma was in town this weekend prior to her departure to Thailand, and one night as we were visiting Carl and Andrew, she told us that she and a friend had already planned their respective midlife crises.

Thelma's involved bursting into tears at a grocery store when she realizes her suburban housewife existence is nothing like she planned and then running off into the forests of Burma.

Mike's involves verbally abusing a pretentious colleague at his dead-end job as a meaningless consultant of some sort, and then running off into the jungles of Burma.

I have been thinking ever since, what would be my midlife crisis? And would it, as current trends suggest, end with my running off into the jungles of Burma?

Of course, any good midlife crisis must begin with a tirade of some sort. What in the world could I write a tirade about?

Elisa thought. She thought and she thought and she thought. (lightbulb)

That's it! That's my midlife crisis!

Observe:

I am 40 years old, and still unmarried. I went to law school and library school in a fruitless attempt to find personal meaning through education, but instead found myself in gobs of debt, with no good job offers to alleviate it, and little else to show for my years of training. Thus, I am forced to work in the basement of a newspaper in American Fork as a copy editor, per my undergraduate training decades before.

One day, I walk into my cubicle and find all my papers and books out of order. The papers have clearly been messed with, and my books are out of order. Since my workspace is so small, I normally make it my personal priority to make my desk as organized as humanly possible. The girl in the cubicle next to me does not meet my eye. She is fresh out of college, bleached blond, and spends most of her workday video conferencing her girlfriends or making playlists on her iPod*. She is only working at the newspaper to save money for her upcoming wedding.

I ask Tiffanee, "Did you, by any chance, need something from my desk?"

"What?" She removes her ear buds and I repeat the question.

"Oh, shyeah, I needed, like, the Sensitivity Style Guide 'cause I'm editing this little feature on gypsies, you know those people in South America that live such gross sad lives? Such a downer. I couldn't remember how to spell gypsy. No J! I know, right? Anyways, I couldn't find it, so no biggie. Oh! And I was wondering since you're like a lawyer and stuff if you could help me write, like, my prenuptial agreement, 'cause you know I'm getting married in a few months and I just wanna be sure, like, just in case, 'cause, like, we've only known each other a few months and whatever."

I am astonished, not only by the idiocy of her word choice and her egregious usage errors, but also by her subject matter. Before I can fully conceive the consequences of my actions, I grab her by her blond-with-red-and-black highlights and start my tirade:

YOU COMPLETE IGNORAMUS! YOU ABSOLUTE IDIOT! YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GYPSIES! THEY ARE NOT FROM SOUTH AMERICA! NEITHER ARE THEY DIRTY! HOW IN THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING DID YOU MANAGE TO TRICK BYU INTO GIVING YOU A COLLEGE DEGREE!?! HAVE YOU EVER FORMULATED A SENTENCE IN THAT OXYGEN-DEPRIVED BRAIN OF YOURS THAT DOESN'T CONTAIN SOME SORT OF HEDGE?! AND IF YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR FIANCE WELL ENOUGH YET, THEN WHY ARE YOU MARRYING HIM?????????????????????????

She looks at my stunned for a few minutes, then starts whimpering. Then, of course, our supervisor walks in. I am fired and arrested. Tiffanee is awarded a minor sum in damages, but enough to ruin me financially. Also, the restraining order necessitates some sort of move since I can no longer live in the state of Utah. I file for bankruptcy, change my name, get a credit card and move back to Hungary. There, I live amongst the Gypsies and run various literacy/advocacy programs, becoming sort of a local honky hero. When I die, all the Gypsies in Hungary wear black, and make my birthday a recognized day of mourning.

The End.

Ha. That was cathartic.


*Or whatever portable music player they use 17 years from now.

Remember what I said about purses?

Look! If you click this thingy you can win purses. Thanks Kayla.

http://www.handbagplanet.com/

05 October, 2008

General Conference Musings

Twice a year I look forward immensely to an entire weekend of chilling at home in my pajamas, making cinnamon rolls out of the can (yes, sub-par as far as Mormon domesticism goes, but a step up from cold cereal for me) and watching General Conference. For those of you who don't know, General Conference is a huge meeting held in Salt Lake in April and October in which the President and Prophet of the Church, the Twelve Apostles and other major leaders address the Church membership as a whole. It is translated into lots and lots of languages and broadcast by television, radio, satellite and on the net. The men and women who speak are outstanding and have a genuine concern for the people of the world, even those who aren't Mormon. I would highly recommend tuning in sometime. Great people, great messages. Also the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Anyway, this weekend's conference was a little unusual for me. Since there are four sessions, each two hours long, with an average of six to eight speakers per session, I take notes to help me remember stuff I think is interesting or thoughts that come to me while I'm listening. Generally, there are noticeable themes that pervade General Conference (for example, the importance of staying out of debt, the bad influence of pornography, missionary work, etc.); even though the speakers are never assigned topics or told what they should speak about. This Conference, however, there wasn't any concrete theme that I could pick out, besides the extremely broad yet very important concept of charity. There were no fire-breathing sermons (although granted, I wasn't in the Priesthood session) about chastity or any of the typical problems that leaders of th Church often address. Just peace and love and a carefully masked talk about non-violence that sounded like it could have been written by Gandhi. It was quite refreshing. Here are some of the impressions I wrote down yesterday and today.


* Simplify my life. I guess the speaker (L. Tom Perry) did mention debt in that one.
*I don't take enough advantage of the Book of Mormon in my life. I should be excited to come home and read it every day.
*The best way for me to be a missionary now is to radiate the peace, love and happiness that I feel because of Christ and the role He plays in my life.
*I need to write more often to people I taught on my mission.
*If I feel inadequate (um, like every day), an important part of being a disciple of Christ is having the faith to get past my inadequacy, knowing that God will make up for what I cannot do.
*"Faith is not only a feeling. It is a decision." Neil A. Anderson.
*Do not recoil from the will of God. I really like that image.
*The main focus of Sacrament Meeting should be the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "Don't violate your covenant to always remember Him in the very meeting you are making it."
*Make sure I am doing everything I can to qualify for the cleansing power of the Atonement.
*Faith, hope, and charity will stabilize my life no matter my situation.
*Hope and despair cannot co-exist.
*Jesus Christ is the hope of all mankind.
*The Holy Ghost can help me perfect my hope in the gospel and everything else.
*"Come what may, and love it." Joseph B. Wirthlin's mom.
*The Lord compensate for every loss in His own way.
*Even Christ had need of Heavenly comfort--there is no shame in seeking it.
*I can manifest the love of God to others through my kindness.
*God always adapts to anyone's level of understanding. He would fail to be a merciful god if He only spoke to some elite group and not to others.
*The goal of all gospel teaching is to turn people's hearts toward Christ.
*Christ is the only way to happiness and fulfillment. "Any other way is madness." Lawrence E. Corbridge.
*I can't wait for Zion to be established to make the world a better place. I have to make the world a better place so that Zion can be established when the time is right.
*My prayers throughout the day need to be less discrete--more like a frequent counseling with Heavenly Father. That is how I can really "pray always."
*"Meekness is not weakness." Robert D. Hales.
*I need to utilize the gospel to "lift up desperate souls."
*I need to acknowledge God's hand in all things.
*Part of the charge to be merciful is to be merciful to governments. Being patriotic and realistic, but always trying to improve things instead of becoming cynical or losing faith in the system.
*When I reject an offered gift from God, I am also rejecting Him.
*The key to a happy marriage is selflessness. I hear that so often, it must be true.
*I need to live so I can always welcome Christ into my life.

Also, M. Russell Ballard mentioned Burma, and Thomas S. Monson mentioned Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. That made me so happy. Oh yeah, and Elaine S. Dalton sad something about how young people should not be "ever texting, yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth." Forced, but still funny.

I like General Conference.

Two Funny Stories

I always forget to write about the little moments in my life that make it so great.

1. The other day I was sitting by myself at church until my friend Robbie, who is half-Mexican (but prefers to tell people he is from Ethnia) came and sat on my left. Then Stanley, an exchange student from Taiwan, came and sat on my right. The following conversation ensued.

Me: Mmmmm. Ethnic sandwich.
Robbie: Technically, we're a white girl sandwich on ethnic.

Ha ha. Robbie, I heart you.

2. Last night I took Thelma over to the yellow house (but not the one near us) and met Mo, one of Thelma's buddies from way back. We hit it off instantly and started talking like we had known each other for years. Conversation:

Me: I feel like I have known you forever.
Mo: I feel the same way.
Me: You must be an INFP.

Then a long pause followed, in which I thought to myself, "Darn it, that was a really stupid comment to make. I'm such an idiot." Then Mo said:

Mo: I so am!

Then we hugged. The End.

03 October, 2008

This is my place.


I like to make important decisions by the seat of my leggings. For example, my senior year of high school, I was making list upon list of where I wanted to apply for college. At the time, I was interested in pursuing my Japanese language experience, so when we had visited BYU Hawaii a year or so before, I thought that it was the perfect place for me. I knew, as a white girl, that my chances of getting in would be lower than for most other universities, but I figured I had a pretty impressive CV (for an 18 year-old) and it wouldn't be much of a problem.

I mentioned that to my bishop, and he asked if I was going to apply to BYU Provo, just in case. My response was a church-appropriate equivalent of "hell no." I would sooner live in a war zone than Provo. At least a war zone would seem like familiar territory.

But God, as we all know, has a wicked sense of humor, and likes to prompt me to do things I would never otherwise do (hello, serving a mission). So as I was getting my paperwork together for my application to BYU Hawaii, I noticed that for a mere 25 dollars more, I could also apply to BYU Provo. What the heck, I figured, and checked the little box on the web page.

For days following I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. The same way I feel after eating too much at Chuck-a-rama. The feeling said to me, Utah. You need to go to Utah. But I don't want to go to Utah, I responded in my head.

And the response was something along the lines of, "Have I ever cared about what you want, puny mortal?"

After a few days of misery, I went back online and modified my application so that Provo was my first choice. It sounds ridiculous looking back, but at the time, this was an immense trial of my faith. I had always dominated close games of Mutual "I never" with my secret weapon: "I have never been to Utah." The closest I had ever been was Montana. I had always known that I could never be happy there. I barely fit in with the Mormons in Seattle. I was just too different for Utah. And now I was going to live there? Sight unseen. I hated my life.

Then I got accepted, and talked to my Young Women leaders about BYU (they had all gone there ... go figure), and emailed my roommate-to-be (I love you Lori), and I started to get ... well, excited might be too strong a word. Curious would be better. I was curious about Utah. And how I would fit in there, if I could.

By the way, I was rejected from BYU Hawaii. I think God wanted to remove any unnecessary temptation.

My first few years in Utah were eventful. On the one hand, I came to see that I wasn't quite as different as I thought I was. Plenty of other kids at BYU came from cities where Mormons were a minority. I met a couple of kids who were also the only members in their graduating class. Additionally, I was not the only liberal, either. There was even an Amnesty International branch at BYU. I was, surprisingly, pretty happy. However, there was a disastrous first date with a boy who had liked me for months, which ended in a near-hysterical political row. There was the time my fellow students practically booed Helen Thomas (one of my heroes!) off the stage, and I left the devotional in tears. There was a time when I unconsciously crossed myself after a prayer in class and the girl next to me pointed at me as if I had conducted some sort of idol worship and screeched "Why did you do that???" One time, a friend of mine invited me and my three roommates over for dinner. The conversation began like this.

Eliza's mom: So, which one of you is a vegetarian?
Me: (Smile hesitantly, raise my hand)
EM: Oh, how interesting! Now, which one of you is the convert?
Me: (Smile hesitantly, raise my hand)

I never got over people's confused expressions when I explained about my family. I never got over the awkward personal questions about why I was a vegetarian, how my family reacted to my joining the church, when my parents had gotten married, etc. I also never got over my snobbery about how I was from a "real" city, and Provo was lame.

I have Grant Olson to thank for this paradigm shift. Once in a casual conversation, I dogged on Utah (he's a native) and Grant responded, with actual anger, "You say something like that and I will punch you in the face! The only people that hate on Utah are the ones who don't know what it's really like!"

This past year, I have experienced some of the things that make Utah great. And I'm not talking about the abundance of temples, or the fairly low crime rate. Not really. But after nine mile canyon, and the SEGO festival, and the farmer's market, and all the restaurants on center street ... how could anyone not think Utah is amazing? More specifically, after five years, I finally think Provo is amazing.

I feel so zen about this. I have no desire to escape from Provo anymore. Conversely, I am filled with a desire to make Provo a better place to live in, because I am here, and I am cool. I want to make Stand Up for Students a legitimate organization. I want to make Provo the kind of place cool people would want to live. Where all sorts of interesting types can dwell, and none will molest them from morn until ev'n.

What I'm really trying to say is, I think I want to go to law school here.

Oh my gosh. I can't believe I typed that in a public forum.

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