Sunday, December 21, 2008
The program itself went well. I had a great rendition of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for while the kids came in. The actual program went very smoothly. My confidence was firm.
Then it was suddenly over. I scrambled through my big songbook to find something for the exit. "Jingle Bell Rock" caught my eye.
I figured, since it's technically a jazz song, it wouldn't really matter if I missed a couple notes here and there. I thought I was doing a great job having never played that song before. Apparently I was wrong. Some redneck in the back row shouted "Come on, Piano." At first I thought I was just hearing things. Then I realized that my take on a Christmas classic was offending someone.
So I stopped playing. Looked around. Stood up and left.
This experience is now the newest addition to my Anti-Christmas arsenal.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
These last few weeks, I have been tossing around the idea of going back on a mission. It's still hard for me to shake the thought of "where would I be right now?" and "where SHOULD I be right now?".
Well, I made up my mind. I decided I am going to try to go back. If I tried, I would know whether or not it was meant to be.
Unfortunately, not long after having made that decision, the exact opposite occurred. My body gave me a gentle reminder that I am not quite at full capacity.
So, I am here to stay.
I know what you are thinking. Deciding to stay in one place is no life-changing decision. You're right. The part about my life changing is more about the way I view my situation. I have made every effort to return, but it's just not meant to be.
The next step? Find a good reason to be here. This one shouldn't be hard.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
1. I sometimes get the overwhelming urge to shake my right hand violently. Knowing that such behavior makes me look a little crazy, I usually channel the energy by rapidly rubbing my hands together. You may or may not have noticed.
2. I waste at least twenty minutes a day at work focused on facing my money, and everybody else's. I also spend at least ten minutes after playing any board game that involves cards. This time is spent turning all the cards the same way.
3. Cheap lotion makes me uneasy.
4. I refuse to fill my gas tank up without washing my front and back windows. Even if it is raining, the windows need to be washed. I would only regret it if I didn't.
5. It is impossible for me to fall directly to sleep. I get up to use the bathroom one last time approximately fifteen minutes after I lay down. This was a big problem for the first bit of my mission because I slept on the top bunk and it was hard to get up and down without shaking the whole bed.
6. I always sit indian style.
Monday, November 10, 2008
If anybody ever wants to ride in my sweet, warm Hyundai Elantra, you know where to find me ; )
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
To all you over-zealous snow fans, I have a one thing to say: No.
I'm just not ready. If any of you have ridden in my car lately, you realize that snow is not good news for me at this time. I have no heat in my car. In fact, cold air is constantly blowing from the vents. No heat means my windows fog up really easily. I literally hold my breath as long as I can while I drive to work. If I want to be able to see, I have to turn on the defroster which blows more cold air. It's also really hard for my to shift since I have to be bundled up pretty tight. My rear passenger window is also stuck rolled down about a half-inch. My cd player doesn't play CDs if they are too cold so I have to use friction to heat up the discs before I can listen to them.
The snow also throws off my lunch schedule. I usually walk across the parking lot to Albertson's where I buy a yogurt and some noodles. The only dress shoes I have are the same shoes I wore on my mission. Although I didn't make it two years, I still managed to wear holes in these shoes.
I drive to work in my ice cube of a car. Then I get my feet wet just walking from the car to the bank. My feet are finally dry just in time for me to walk to pick up my lunch. By the time I leave work, it's already dark and my windows are frozen once again. I have to start the whole CD rubbing process all over again.
I'm not complaining, but. . . . okay, I'm complaining. If anybody has any cheap ways to stay warm (other than the obvious answer of fixing my heater) let me know.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
For this reason, I am calling on anyone and everyone who knows a missionary in the field. It's time to write that missionary. Let them know that you haven't forgotten about them. I'm sure everybody who reads this can think of at least one person who might enjoy a letter from them. If you are having trouble thinking of a missionary to write, I would be happy to remind you of a couple.
You might find yourself making excuses, such as "We weren't really close friends" or "I have nothing interesting to say". However, I have witnessed the miraculous change that can be brought about when a missionary sees something in his mailbox.
It's not even hard to write to missionaries anymore. Just use dearelder.com.
I trust you'll do the "write" thing.
Monday, October 27, 2008
When Kyle signed up at Gold's Gym, he was under the impression that he wouldn't have to make his next payment until November 25th. Just to double check, Kyle even asked the girl at the gym when his next payment was due about two weeks ago. She confirmed that it was due November 25th.
My account was debited this weekend by Paramount Acceptance (Gold's Gym's spy name) and I am not pleased. It overdrew my account. When I called the corporate number to ask what is going on, she tried to tell me it is "in my contract." When I signed up for the account, the guy never said anything about my payments being automatically debited. Needless to say, I am a little annoyed.
I gave Gold's Gym the benefit of the doubt when I signed up. Working at a bank, I get a lot of complaints from customers who were debited without giving permission. I would venture to say that about 4 out of 10 of these circumstances involved Gold's Gym. This unofficial statistic was in the back of my mind while I was getting the hard sell from the rep at GG. I should have known.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
As most of you know, my life is currently at a crossroads. I have a lot of options on my plate, but I'm having a hard time getting a grip on my silverware.
Not any more.
I have reached a decision. An important one. I have finally chosen a school and pinpointed when I will be going. It seems perfect. Now all I have to do is apply and get accepted.
The school I will be going to starting Summer of 2009 is . . . . Brigham Young University in Provo.
Now, this might come as a shock to some of you (cough-Landon-cough), but I feel right about this. When I first got home from the mission, my plan was to go to BYU. For some reason, I had a hard time committing to that plan. This last week, I was experiencing what I am calling a "higher sensitivity" thanks to my solo road trip. This is when it occurred to me that BYU is the best place for me to be.
So, I will continue to work for Wells Fargo and will eventually transfer down to Provo. Then, in the fall, my boys Steve and BigCat will be back from their missions and we will live happily ever after in what will easily be the most happenin place in P-town.
Thanks for caring.
PS- Although I will live in Provo, I refuse to let that place get the best of me. I will still be liberal. I will still wear bright red neck-ties. And I will still refuse to jog outside.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I work with a lot of cool people. For example, my Service Manager, Darci, is probably the best "boss" anyone could wish for. She is just amazing. She is also pregnant. . . very pregnant.
Since my coworkers and I love Darci so much, we decided to throw her a Baby Shower. I know what you're thinking: Baby showers are not for boys. But do you know what I say to that? This is the new millenium.
So my fellow Lead Tellers and I set to work planning a Co-Ed Baby Celebration (we weren't allowed to call it a shower since that would repel the not-so-forward-thinking guys at work). I actually contributed quite a bit to the plans. This was surprising since I have never been to a baby shower. I did most of the shopping for food and supplies. I made the invitations. I even swept the porch of Katey's apartment so we could hold the event there. However, my greatest contribution was the activity. . .
I bought a bunch of onesies and baby t-shirts, and some fabric paint. Each guest at the celebration got to decorate a onesie for the baby. Some chose to put funny sayings such as "I'm not chubby, I'm 'phat'" and "Let's face it, it's time to call Grandma." Others decorated with smiley faces, and stars. Then there were the more original creations (all created by males): Jason turned his onesie into a cow. The bottom piece was painted red so when you unsnap it, it looks like the cows tongue. Joe put a "T-Stamp" on his. (A T-stamp is a special stamp we have to put on high transactions). I chose to make mine something that would remind Darci of me every time she saw it. I drew a french flag and wrote "oui oui" under it.
We also played candy bar memory and opened presents.
I was told repeatedly that it was one of the best baby showers the guests had been to. I am now considering "Baby Shower Coordinator" as a possible career move.
If any of you are pregnant, or know somebody who is, I would love to share my expertise throughout the shower planning process.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
On Monday morning I woke up and hit the road. I go to Cedar City at roughly 11:41 am. I met my friend Kate at the Pastry Pub for some lunch. I ate the best turkey croissant I have ever had.
I then set out for Zion National Park. This is, by far, my favorite place on the planet. It was so cool to see the park alone. I met a lot of awesome french people and had some good talks. I also took some sweet pics (too bad my computer sucks or I could upload some).
Then it was off to St. George to settle down for the night. I got all checked in to my hotel. Then I hit the outlets. I found a sweet shirt/tie combo for only $30.
The next morning, I went to the St. George temple. After a session, I took more sweet pics.
Then I was back on the road, headed to Manti. On the way, I passed Cove Fort and decided to take a tour. It was so cool. I was the only person there other than the missionaries. I got the VIP treatment and was given my own tour. Again, more sweet pics were taken.
I arrived in Manti with enough time to head straight to the temple. The Manti Temple is definitely my favorite and I will hopefully be married there. The people of Manti are just so nice.
Then I drove to Ephraim for some really good pizza and bread-sticks.
The next morning, I woke up to take some more pics of the temple. Then I headed to Provo. I didn't have to be there until 2:30, but I got there at 11:30. So with three hours to kill, I went to the Provo temple. I was done there by 1:00 so I got my book out ("The Miracle of Forgiveness").
After some good reading, I decided to take more pictures. I finally got one with me in it. I probably looked like an idiot setting up the timer, pushes the button, then sprinting across the temple courtyard to get on my mark in time for the flash.
Then I went to the MTC to volunteer for a couple hours. I love missionaries and I still wish I was on a mission.
I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed in the "self-discovery" results of my trip. I had a good time, and it was great to be alone for a bit. But, I don't feel more enlightened than I was before. The only decisions I reached aren't even heavy issues on my mind. I accidentally stumbled on a couple names for my unborn sons. Oscar Jack, and Oliver (middle name here). It wasn't a complete failure.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Those of you who know me know how much I love solitude and independence. Tomorrow I am fulfilling a life long dream of going on a vacation. . . all by myself.
Just so nobody worries too much about me while I am gone, here is my itinerary:
Tomorrow (Sunday) night I well arrive in Cedar City where I will stay with some friends from college. I will wake up Monday and do lunch with some old school buddies. Then I will be heading further south to St. George.
On the way to St. George, I plan on stopping at Zion National Park to see some scenery. Don't worry, I am not going to do any long hikes by myself. I am brave enough, but not stupid.
After a couple hours in Zion I will continue to St. George. I will check-in to the Days Inn. (I have always wanted to stay at a hotel by myself.) I will probably spend the night reading and recording my thoughts in my handy-dandy notebook.
Tuesday morning, I will head to the St. George Temple for some long-needed recharging. Then I will get back on the road and head to Manti.
Hopefully I will get there in time to do some more temple work. I will eat dinner in Ephraim at Roy's Pizza (a.k.a. "Fat Jack's"). I will also make a stop at the Penny Candy Store to fill up on Fruitie's, SlapSticks, and Candy Tools. Then I will retire to my room at the Temple View Lodge in Manti.
Wednesday morning, depending on how awake I am, I will go to the Manti Temple again. Then I will head to the Provo MTC to do some volunteering with the french-speaking missionaries. Then I will head home.
I am pretty excited for this trip. I plan on doing a lot of soul-searching. I have a couple things that really need to be sorted out and this is when I plan on taking care of that.
Lots of people have asked that I check in frequently so they know I am okay. I will not do that. If you are concerned about my well-being, shoot me a text and I'll probably respond. Don't panic if it takes a while. Part of the purpose of this excursion is to be alone.
I love you all and will see you on Wednesday.
Friday, October 10, 2008
This one is my favorite one:
there once was a diver
who would fall in search of joy
only when he hit the water did he realize...
there once was a climber
who crawled in search of life
only when he scaled the summit did he realize...
there once was a writer
who slept in search of thought
only when he awoke did he realize...
...the diver, you see, found his prize at the floor
where someone had left it who needed it no more
...the climber looked down and he saw what he'd left
his climb was over. he took a clean breath.
the writer awoke and frantically scrolled
fragments of dreams that his mind couldn't hold
the diver cried
the climber died
the writer felt better, but kept it inside
Monday, October 6, 2008
This year, I attended the Priesthood Session at my friend, Landon's Stake Center. The Conference was going as usual. There were no surprises in the speakers' comments encouraging the respect of women, and avoiding pornography. I confess, I was starting to doze off.
While my head was nodding, I heard a strange breath from two rows in front of us. I looked up so see a man get very tense while turning to the man next to him with a look of terror in his eyes. He was having a seizure.
The commotion drew the attention of nearly all the Priesthood holders in the room and a small group helped the man without saying a word. I was amazed at the way they seemed to move together, almost like they were responding after years of drills. They helped him to the floor and continued to aid the man.
Many of the spectators were reaching for their phones when we all saw that one man already had his up to his ear. We all knew that the paramedics had been called.
They say that time moves slower at a time of crisis. I am not sure if that is what happened in that church. At one point, Landon turned to me and pointed out that the paramedics were taking a really long time.
Eventually, a lone paramedic woman strolled in carrying some equipment. She was followed by one or two of her colleagues.
I found the whole situation somewhat surreal. It is interesting to see the contrast in the response of the "normal" guys seated around the victim and the delayed response of the paramedics.
Granted, nobody knows if there was a more pressing emergency somewhere else.
Conference was generally a faith-promoting experience. However, this time around, I lost a little faith in the emergency response system in this community.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Recently I have been really craving some good french conversation. Unfortunately, here in Utah, there is not a lot of opportunity for some good "parler".
I got so desperate for french that I starting reading "The Bourne Identity". There are a lot of random phrases in the dialogue, but it just isn't enough.
I work at a bank and I always get jealous when my Spanish-speaking co-worker gets to speak his mission language with the customers. Or, at least, I USED to be jealous.
The Starbucks by my bank recently hired a cool girl from Minnesota. She studied in Quebec, thus she speaks excellent french. She comes in a couple times a week to make the deposits and I get so excited each time. It's so much fun to watch everybody turn and look when they hear such a beautiful language.
She has been coming to the bank for a couple weeks now and it has been great to keep my french going.
But the other day, someone even better came in. I was helping a woman with a very french name purchase some traveler's cheques for her very silent friend standing next to her. I finally got the guts to ask her if she is french. "OUI!" I was so excited. I immediately fell into my soft french and loved it.
I walked around the rest of the day with a huge goofy smile on my face. It was the same goofy smile that I sported on my mission and it was great to have it back.
Another great feeling from my mission has been returning lately. These past couple of weeks I have been able to work with the missionaries at least once a week. And I love it.
Yesterday, one of the elders was sick so they called someone to come sit with him while I went out and worked with his companion. I miss doing that everyday.
Tonight, I got to baptize someone. Something I didn't get the opportunity to do while I was in Europe. (I always got transferred right before the baptisms.)
I stand by the fact that I am home for a reason. And I am at peace with that. But there is still joy to be had in a little french conversation and a good missionary lesson.
PS- I went to the gym four times this week. I'm determined to get my money's worth on this one.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
My dear cousins (Chris and Mandy) talked me into coming with them. So I went to take a tour and have a little workout. They wanted to charge me $10 just to look around. So I just cut to the chase and talked to them about joining.
About ten minutes later I was a real member. I have my own key-chain pass thing and a sweet payment plan. After four "easy" payments of $175 dollars I will be a full-fledged muscle-man (for up to three years).
I couldn't believe how big this commitment was. I feel like I just took a big step.
So now my goal is to hit the gym at least three times a week.
Look out, ladies.
PS- If anybody has a Gold's pass and needs a workout buddy, I'm pretty low-key and would love to go with anyone.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We have been planning a cousin night for about a month now and yesterday was the big day. We all met at Italian Village for dinner. Everybody loves a good pizza bender (Joe loves two of them). Then we moved the party to Amanda's condo. We watched "The Emperor's New Groove" and ate some delicious air-pop popcorn (caramel flavor). Then we busted out the ice cream and the toppings. I discovered the great taste of putting fruity pebbles on vanilla ice cream.
The real fun started when we all just sat in a big circle in the dark and chatted it up. Chris and I (the more politically-minded of the cousins) tried very hard to not slip into a debate, but it was a struggle. We all sat there for a good hour and a half just swapping scary stories and laughing at each other. I always love a good round of "What I Like About You".
I realized last night how great my cousins really are. We are all so chill. We have been spending a lot more time with each other as we have all grown older. I love it. I am so happy it is happening like this. Usually people lose touch with their cousins as people start getting married and having careers, but that is not the case with us.
We are now planning on having a cousin night once a month, and on top of that we will be watching "The Office" every Thursday night. I am so excited.
I am also starting a completely separate blog devoted to "What I Like About You." Look for links on my page.
I love you all.
Monday, September 15, 2008
According to my admittedly limited political knowledge, the office of "President of the United States" does not really have the unlimited power with which it is often credited. There's not much the President can do without the approval of congress. He (or she) can propose all the tax-cuts they want, but nothing is going to happen until the Senate and the House say so.
Obama can't change anything by himself.
McCain? . . . well, in a couple years he really won't be able to do much by himself.
It's called "checks and balances" and it's why we're the best.
I based my decision on this simple truth:
The rest of the world thinks America is a big joke right now.
The patriot inside me says "Who cares what the rest of the world thinks about us?" But the truth is the world is getting smaller every day. We need a leader who will be taken seriously by our neighbors. Barack Obama is exactly the kind of leader we need.
Plus, he is WAY cooler than John McCain.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Naturally, it does.
"The best two years" usually begin shortly after your nineteenth birthday and logically shouldn't end anytime before your twenty-first. Usually.
This past friday marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my "best two years." Unfortunately, I only made it eight months.
I thought this week would be one of the hardest weeks of my life.
Monday: I was working the drive-thru at Wells Fargo Bank in Riverton. I was doing fine until a car full of five missionaries came through to cash a check. It was difficult for me to speak to them, but I had to ask one of them for his ID. Their smiles and the way they carried themselves took me back to my months spent in Belgium. Back to my "best two years." I haven't cried since my farewell, but that moment was the closest I have come to shedding a few.
The next day, Tuesday, was much, much worse.
Tuesday: My cousin Michael was getting set apart as a full-time missionary on tuesday night. All day long I debated whether or not I should go. After Monday's episode, I wasn't sure if I would be able to make if through such a spiritually and emotionally draining situation. . . stress aggrivates my condition. About an hour before it was scheduled to happen, I jumped up, got dressed in "pross" and headed to the church, an hour early. I took my scriptures with me and read while I waited.
The whole family gathered in a big room at the church, and to start things off we each took turns saying anything we wanted to my cousin who was about to leave. There were tears shed by almost everyone. Bittersweet tears of pride and love. I thanked Michael for his example. At the end, a leader pointed out the support system that Michael has. Again, I found myself transported back to my mission, back to every time I was struggling. Every time a door was slammed, or every time I was in a hospital waiting room I would have this mental snapshot of all the people who were in the congregation at my farewell. I literally felt their support. I had that same support system, and while I still have all those people who love me, it is still difficult to fight feelings of failure. When I first came home, I felt as if I had let all those people down.
Wednesday passed without any sort of sorrow. I went to the State Fair. I have never been so thankful for Side-Shows and Funnel Cakes. Without them, this week would have been unbearable.
When it was time to decide whether or not to come home, I took great comfort in hearing things like "there is a reason for everything" and "the Lord will put you where you are needed."
Thursday: I endured another long day of work despite feeling a little under the weather. I had almost forgotten that I had an appointment to teach a family friend with the missionaries that night. I went over to the house and we waited for the elders to arrive. We waited for over an hour until deciding they probably weren't coming. While we were there, our family friend (who is planning on being baptized) asked me if I would baptize her.
I humbly admit that -as far as I know- I played no part in her decision to be baptized. But, things like this help me see that there is no reason this time in my life can't be my "best two years."
I love my mission. I love Belgium and France. I love the Gospel.
I know that the Lord is in charge and He brought me back for a reason.
I just have to find that reason.