Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Guessing Game

I don't know if you've noticed, but the "Friends, Real and 'Imagined'" links periodically changes order.

Points to you if you can guess why.

Also, as a note: I don't think any of you exist entirely inside my head. The "Imagined" is my way of saying--hey! you're a cool cyber-friend that I found through a "real" friend (that is, a friend I know and have interacted with in person).

Because let's face it: if some of you existed entirely inside my own head (*cough* Schmetterling *cough*), I'd be in a near-perpetual state of internal conflict. And that just wouldn't do.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brief Notes on a Movie . . . Also, My First Relief Society Teaching Experience

Feel free to tell me that it's sad, but watching The Dark Knight once was more than enough for me. Heath Ledger was quite amazing (and as decidedly creepy as he should be) as The Joker, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were--as always--delights as Alfred and Lucius, and Christian Bale served his purpose. (He was good eye candy. Sadly, though, he wasn't in the film nearly often enough.)

Anyway, once was more than enough for me because this film was dark to the edge of my limits. Which my roommate found interesting, because I own The Prestige, and she finds that movie far darker. (I don't. Obviously. But then again, The Prestige isn't something I watch on a regular basis . . . I've decided it's worth repeated viewings, but only if those viewings are spaced out to such an extent that it's not so easy or obvious to look for clues about what is going on.)

That said, it was definitely worth watching. There were lessons from the movie definitely worth learning. (Yes, yes . . . I know that modern cinema is no Aesop's fable, but I sort of feel like I should be able to find at least one theme in a movie, even if it has nary a plot line in sight) But it's highly unlikely I'll see it again.

Once we got home from the movie Saturday night, panic ensued. On the way to the movie, I'd made a flippant (yet not untrue) comment about how I'd yet to unpack the notebook containing the notes for my Relief Society lesson. But how I was so sure I knew where it was.

When I got home, I promptly retired to my room to review my lesson notes. Only to discover I did not actually know where I had packed said notebook. It would not have been nearly so stressing if we had an Internet connection, but alas--we're 'Netless at home until tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise, I would have printed off the talk and rewritten my lesson. My memory, after all, works quite well and I remembered--more or less--what I wanted to.

Instead, I asked my roommate if she knew where her copy of the Conference Ensign was, and more panic ensued as we searched for that. She found her copy, only for me to go upstairs, look at my laptop bag, open it, and therein find my copy. All was right in the world.

And my lesson went well. The sisters laughed when they were supposed to laugh, participated when I asked for their participation, and paid attention to what I said. Nobody gave me a deer-in-the-headlights, our-Relief-Society-teacher-is-crazy kind of look.

But I learned something valuable yesterday that's rather paradoxical: when you teach, you have to plan a lesson. But you can't truly plan the lesson. I invariably plan how I teach based on the way I would react to my lesson. But that's the thing about teaching church: you aren't teaching you. Well, actually, you are. I learned any number of things while preparing this particular lesson. But you're called to each (in my case) about fifty other sisters, none of whom think in exactly the same ways you do.

(Thus my surprise at some of the answers to a question I posed yesterday. We were discussing President Uchtdorf's "Faith of Our Fathers" and a quote that says (I'm paraphrasing): "True religion should not originate from what pleases men . . . but rather, from what pleases God." So I posed the question: what sorts of things please God? I was looking for answers like service, being kind to others, and faith--my segue between the "pleasing God" part of my lesson and the "faith" part of my lesson . . . Because according to Hebrews, without faith it's impossible to please God. The sister who quoted that scripture with no solicitation whatsoever earned many, many brownie points. I wasn't looking for answers like, um, chastity.)

Lessons, I learned, are evolving creatures. While a teacher can steer them in the direction she wants them to go, the boat never ends up at precisely the pre-determined destination she wanted. And that, I discovered, is not a bad thing. In fact, I think I will worry far more if my lesson goes exactly according to plan. (I will also be disturbed, because that would mean that 50+ girls were channeling my thoughts, and that is downright frightening)

And so I leave you here with a thought I had when I prepared my lesson: though Alma 32 teaches us that faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things, faith--once cultivated--eventually becomes knowledge of perfect things (when we're talking about principles) and of The Perfect Person.

And as we learned from Elder Oaks, that knowledge--though not empirical--is no less valid than things we learned by seeing. In fact, I think that knowledge may be more valid. But that's a topic for another time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why I Need to Write More

I ache.

Let me explain this particular form of ache: I would say it's more or less metaphysical, but that would be a lie. If not a lie, at least a half-truth. Because it is, to an extent, part of my genetic composition. I think it's hard-wired into my genetic composition to write. As I sit here thinking about what types of things I haven't been writing, I can feel a gnawing in the pit of my stomach.

And I'm not speaking of the writing of blogs here. I've been doing just fine with that recently. I've also been doing a rather smashing job of doing nothing in particular (with the exception of packing boxes and moving them) for far too long now.

For some particular reason, I must have decided that a brief period before I commenced my graduate degree and start stuffing my head full of composition theory and critical theory (again! come August!) would be entirely devoted to--wait for it--nothing in particular.

Don't get me wrong. There is some idling I've done that I've greatly appreciated and that has helped to relax me. I exercise no regrets about having watch 3/4 of the DVDs in my second season collection of Psych. (If you haven't watched this show, find an episode. Watch it. Report back. And if you didn't laugh at all in the course of watching the episode, then I'm afraid I'll have to temporarily disown you as a friend. But no worries, when I say "temporarily," I mean it. I'll disown you for thirty seconds or so. Not even long enough for you to realize except I just told you I would!)

But today, I stumbled upon the blog of a friend I tutored with and took many classes with. (He, too, was a Poetry Major. And not the aforementioned of the bad-boy looks) His blog included links to his published poetry. Discussed his writing techniques. He's heading to Purdue for his MFA in the fall. He's a genius.

He is also working at writing. I haven't been. And as I read, and then when I stumbled upon more writing of other people I know via his links, my stomach sank. And kept sinking. In fact, I'm pretty sure it has sunken completely out of my body, past the ground floor of this building, and now resides somewhere in the dirt.

Some days I wonder why I feel so blase.

Today I know why.

It's time to break out the notebooks again. (Literally and metaphorically. I have to unpack them before I can write in them.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Back in the Honeymoon Stage

But not in regard to any of the following things: moving, my roommates (Are you kidding?  We've never fought.  So I think that means it's possible we've never left the honeymoon stage.  Or else we just disregarded it completely.  Also possible.), dating, any type of romance.
No, I'm back in the honeymoon stage again when it comes to work.  And this is why: I'm busy!
I started last Wednesday, and last Wednesday flew by.  After talking about all of the many facets of my job with all of the many people who correlate with those facets, it was all of a sudden time to go home.  But due to extenuating circumstances, I found myself thrown into my job--solo--for half of Thursday and all of Friday.
Though I had a list of things to do, some of them were menial.  And the fun ones?  Well, I wasn't able to do them yet.  Especially since all of my permissions had not yet been set up.  I heckled a little bit, and saw a few results.  But by the end of Friday, I feared that I had lost all interest in this job within a three-day time span.
That thought, friends, was incredibly depressing.
Imagine my delight this morning when I found out there is much to do!  Trainings to go through!  Things to fax!  I'm totally de-valuing the exclamation point here, aren't I?!
I am enjoying my tasks.  I am enjoying talking to people as I complete my tasks.  And I'm seriously enjoying the casual dress code.  Denim capris and a t-shirt, baby.  (Also, this nicely makes packing a heckuva lot easier.)
There is enough to do.  More than enough to do.  Which means this is excellent.  Even when I return home and there's more than enough to do there, as well.
When we were younger, whenever my siblings and I would engage in laziness, my mom loved to quote: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." 
If the converse of that statement is true, I'm in heaven!
(I told you I was in the honeymoon stage . . .)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Effects of Living a Religion

"But even in this present life, there is danger in the very concept of religion. It carries the suggestion that this is one more department of life, an extra department added to the economic, the social, the intellectual, the recreational, and all the rest. But that whose claims are infinite can have no standing as a department. Either it is an illusion or else our whole life falls under it. We have no non-religious activities; only religious and irreligious." --C.S. Lewis

In Relief Society today, we were talking about missionary work. One of the question posed was why talking about religion intimidates some of us. One of the comments pointed how ridiculous, even crazy, part of the premise the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on. We believe a fourteen-year-old boy had a vision. That he saw the Father and the Son, and he was told what to do. Other people find that hard to accept.

My mom, when she once spoke with me about her conversion (she was baptized at age 20), mentioned that it was something that seemed pretty unbelievable. But she found herself believing in spite of any urges she had to think of it as a crazy story. She knew it was true.

But that wasn't what brought her to the missionaries. She was friendshipped into the church. When her family moved into the house in Kaysville shortly after her high school graduation, she and her sisters were assaulted by a myriad of invitations to church activities. And they weren't invitations designed to convert my mom or her sisters. They were welcoming invitations. Everyone there wanted to be friends with them.

And my mom found herself impressed by all of these people. By the way they interacted with each other. How they related to other people. Their optimism. Their kindness. In short, she wanted to learn more about what religion they were because of who they were. I can never express to any of the people who had such an impact on my mom how grateful I am.

One of my Institute teachers used to talk about how the world likes to compartmentalize their life as they would a pie: a slice for work, a slice for play. Slices for hobbies, slices for religion. All part of the same pie. His point was always this: for us as members, religion is the whole pie.

It affects who we interact with and how, our work lives, our home lives, and our relationships of any kind. It dictates what we say and how we say it--and how we feel afterward. I can't think of any part of my life that isn't affected my what I believe.

Because there is an amazing power in living what we believe. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I think a good example is worth a thousand sermons.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Many Books

Every time I move, I try to get rid of things. Moving is a chance to clear out the clutter. Not only does it make me feel better, but it means fewer things I have to pack. Practicality. Especially since I have a tendency to acquire clothes I don't wear. Some things looks much less cute after two weeks. Perhaps I have apparel ADD, but since it only happens with certain clothing items . . .

Anyway, I've been good. This time around, I have been merciless in sending clothes to DI. If I hadn't worn it in a month or more, it got tossed into the big donation bag. I've been clearing out extraneous papers. You know, like the copies of checks I wrote in 2002? Those got taken to my parents' house to be shredded.

But I've discovered something: I am far more prone to acquiring things I won't get rid of. Things like DVDs and books. My shelves runneth o'er. And that's no exaggeration. I now officially have more books than I have shelf space. (Of course, I know the solution: more shelves!)

This makes the most intensive packing--by far--the packing of the books. The DVDs took ten minutes or so, but the books are taking significantly longer. And I can't get rid of any of them. I love them all. I wouldn't own them if I didn't have particular attachments. Throwing them away would be a crime. Practically unmentionable. Book blasphemy.

Which is why this afternoon has been exhausting. And I'm not done yet. But I'm providing myself incentives. I just got the second season of Psych on DVD, and I told myself the number of boxes of books I pack is the number of episodes I'll allow myself to watch tonight . . .

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thoughts about C-ville Church

I always love going to church with my parents. And the rest of my family. Because those are the times when I realize, though I'm usually reluctant to admit it, that Centerville truly is home. That no matter how much the congregation changes--no matter how often people move in and move out, change callings, or how much their families grow or shrink--it is still a place where many people know me. And these are people who have known me since before I could walk. Or talk.

And they have a great deal of faith in me. More than I have in myself.

It is also a place where I have multiple surrogate mothers. Where the reminiscing takes a very, very long time to get old because there a lot of years to cover. It's a place where the woman conducting Relief Society doesn't have to ask my name to introduce me, because she already knows me. Where they don't judge me if the speaker is boring and I have no attention span, because a lot of them don't either.

Of course, things aren't exactly the same. Three of my siblings are married. My sister has three children. And I've reached a point where it's odd for me to be in a family ward. There's, you know, noise, during sacrament meeting.

But it's nevertheless a place where I learn. Where people love me. Where the Young Adult Sunday School class is half life stories (of the most highly entertaining variety) and half doctrinal teachings. It's a place where it's not only okay to laugh, laughing is encouraged.

Because that's what it's all about, people. 2 Ne. 2:25. We are that we might have joy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pet Paranoia

Pets bring out the paranoiac in me.

I am not a person prone to anxiety. In fact, I've purposefully induced stress in specific situations--because I work better under stress. I push myself more in those circumstances. And while it sometimes leads to a particularly bad case of wipe-out after the fact, it always produces magnificent results. You may think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not. I am the weird sort of person who thrives on challenge.

Anyway, back to the point at hand: pets bring out the paranoiac in me.

This is another blog (of course) about my friend's fishies. Which (yay!) aren't dead.

But that doesn't stop me from worrying that they are going to die in the next few days. Because even though my senses tell me that the fish are still alive, my memory tells me that I don't have the best track record with people's pets. While I've never killed birds, they've gotten sick on my watch. And more than one fish has met its doom at my hands before.

Not intentionally, mind you--but it has happened nonetheless. Often enough that I pause every time I walk past the fish bowl and they aren't really moving. Which brings me to a question: do fish sleep? Because yesterday, I saw them and I swear I thought they were dead. But then I saw their fins moving. Which brings me to another question: would the fins of fish still being moving in the water after they died?

Just when I think my paranoia has peaked, something new comes up: what if I somehow manage to kill the fish with toxic water? What if I overfeed them and kill them? What if they die from neglect because I didn't play with them enough or watch them enough? (And really, can one play with fishes?? And if so, how would I go about playing with them?)

Also, the fish aren't catching my psychic vibes about how they should be moving every time I pass the bowl. And this morning, when I came back to the apartment after spending the night at my parents', I didn't see the littler fish at first. Which led me to believe it had died, and one of my roommates had probably flushed it down the toilet, or the bigger fish had finally had enough and eaten it . . .

And then I saw it. And the hyperventilating stopped.

From now on, I am only going to look at the fish when I feed them. No matter how guilty I feel. No matter how much I worry. Because so far, they're alive. And they're bound to stay that way. They're the fish that won't die.

And that, for me, is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Experiences with Fish

My friend left on vacation with her family this Monday. She was originally going to leave her fish at her parents' house, to be cared for with the cat. Then she realized that the cat may not enjoy sharing its space with fish. And that, since it's a cat, it may take measures to eliminate them.

That is how I came to be a designated fish-sitter. Also, I have a very difficult time when it comes to telling people no. That may have factored in as well.

But I'm proud to say that since she left her fish here on Sunday night, they haven't died!!

For me, this is nigh unto a miracle. Ever since I've lived on my own, I've kind of been a fish killer. Not an intentional fish killer, mind you, but I've never had the best of luck in keeping little fishes alive. So naturally, when I said yes, I immediately started praying that her fish won't die.

Yesterday, I passed their bowl, and they were both very still. I thought for sure I had killed them. But then they moved. And I breathed an immense sigh of relief. No dead fish here.

Although if you want proof about how knowledgeable one of my roommates and I are about fish: well, we thought that some of the big one's entrails might be spilling out when we saw a string hang from it. My other roommate got a kick out of that. Apparently, it was just pooping.

Speaking of which, I should go feed them. So they don't die. So that next week, I can triumphantly declare that I managed to not kill the fish.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Privileges . . .

Writers, I have realized, have their own set of privileges. When we write, we get to frame the world. Show it to others from our perspective. Indoctrinate them into our ways of thinking (sometimes, anyway--mwahaha). We get to shape reality for ourselves--and, to a certain extent--for whomever else reads what we write.

Sort of daunting to think about, isn't it?

What I tend to forget, though, is that readers also have their own set of privileges. We do not have to accept the reality proffered by everything we read and consume. (And thank heaven, for that, I say!) We get to choose what we believe. We get to see what we want to in writing and ignore what we don't want to see.

(And trust me, as an English major, I can think of a number of realities and ideas I've rejected. Because I disagree. And it's my prerogative to do so.)

This is my way of saying that I like all of you who comment on my blog. Sometimes--but only sometimes--I need someone to question my reality.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Housing Situation

We found a place to live.

It's darling.

It's a house.

The rent is reasonable.

We move in July 24!!

Also, Heavenly Father loves us.

Unbeknownst to each other, we were all fasting about this yesterday.

Our parents have been praying.

And we'll be living in a house.

A cute, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I've been singing a song of sunburn. Probably because I managed to get a killer sunburn on my neck last Saturday, only to follow it up with a killer sunburn on my shoulders and legs this Saturday.

The first sunburn was the result of pure folly: when my roomate and friends said we'd only stay at the arts festival an hour or two, I took them at their word. I thought that surely, surely I'd not get terribly sunburned in the course of an hour or two.

Three hours later, we left the festival and I looked at my arms with slight dismay. I was, indeed, sunburned. When a fair-skinned person stays in the sun for 3 hours, she burns. Despite her hubris.

Yesterday, my roommate and I decided to relax by visiting the waterpark at Cherry Hill. They have a lazy river that can be wonderfully relaxing. (I say "can be," because at one point there were roughly twenty little munchkins swimming around the lazy river, playing tag and splashing any and all in their path. And pretty much everyone else was in their path.)

We applied suncreen before we left. And she came home with a slightly sunburned face, whereas I came home with red shoulders. A slightly red back. And upper legs that look like they're on fire. Which they sort of are, I guess.

I whined about the unfairness--two roommates, same amounts of sunscreen, and I got fried? And she didn't? And then I heard my dad's voice in my head, asking who told me life was fair.

Nobody, obviously. It's just a presumption I've had. But as we sat in Sunday School today talking about all of the different (metaphorical) weapons we need to bury so we don't fight against God, a girl made a comment about how all of our "weapons" are obviously different things. That's part of what makes us individuals. Part of the reason our lives, our experiences are tailor-made.

It's important that we bury our weapons: not our siblings', not our friends'. We don't share the same weaknesses, just as we don't share the same strengths.

And when I stopped to think about that, I stopped to think about how ridiculous it is to decide our lives are not fair because we are comparing ourselves with others.

Our lives are, in fact, as fair as Heavenly Father makes them for us. And given all the aids and resources He has provided us, I would say that's pretty darn fair. In fact, I'd say that our lives are more than fair, because they are ours.

And we don't really gain much in comparison.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4 Thoughts

Two years ago on (or shortly before) July 4th, I moved out of my parents' house. In all my cleverness, I felt it appropriate to give myself indepence during Independence Day festivities. Timing, I admit, that I regretted when the Centerville parade announcer set up shop right across the street and awoke me at 8 AM on the 4th. To add insult to injury, he wasn't even announcing anything important. (Also, he was the same stake high councilman who liked to call me a flautist and not a flutist--something I disliked, because I wasn't playing a flaut, I was playing a flute . . .)

At around the same time last year, one of my best childhood friends and I moved out to Salt Lake City. But she went back to Centerville and I stayed in Salt Lake, where I knew absolutely nobody. (At least, not yet. I think it highly unfair to say there's nobody I know here now) So last Fourth of July, I sat on my bed and watched the fireworks show I could see by looking directly out my window. That moment, incidentally, is one of the few moments in my life where I've felt very much alone and unsure of what I was doing with myself.

This year, as my roommates and I (and a couple of our friends) hiked around to get a view of the fireworks from Sugarhouse Park, the Bees game, or--better yet!--both, we finally found a spot and settled in. And I couldn't help wondering where I would be at this time next year. And who I may or may not be watching fireworks with.

It didn't make me sad. But it was yet another thing to wonder about.

And on a fireworks related note, I spent last ngiht at my parents' house and my brothers executed a show for the benefit of my almost 2-year-old niece and my 3-and-a-half-year-old nephew. (He's at the age where the halves are so important) It may well be the first fireworks show my nephew will actually remember.

My poor little niece was not terribly fond of the fireworks. In fact, that's the understatement of the year. As soon as the first of them went off, she started crying and yelling, "I don't like this! I don't like this!" She wouldn't even look at the fireworks until she was safely in the living room, behind the door. Then she would watch.

My nephew, on the other hand, will make an excellent scout in the future. As the fireworks show progressed, he bounced up and down, excitedly yelling, "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More and More Changes

I am not opposed to change. There used to be a time in my life where I hated change more than I hated anything else. At that particular time, any sort of change symbolized just one more thing about my life that I had failed to control.

But change, as I have mentioned before, is inevitable. People grow up and move on. Situations never stay exactly the same. Education, though it sometimes felt stagnant, has never truly been a constant.

I figure it's all a part of progression. If everything stayed exactly the same as it always has been, that would mean I was going nowhere. In every possible sense of the phrase "going nowhere."

And then there are times like the present, where I wish I weren't needing to go quite so many places. An educational change. A job change. A location change. (Granted, not a terribly drastic location change, but a location change nonetheless) To be frank, I think the only thing not changing is a relationship status change.

And if that changes and it's right, I'll be fine. But I still can't help thinking that the fact so much change seems to come at once is a little bit of a cosmic joke.

Also, a note to anyone and everyone near me or who will be venturing near me at any given point that may want to play with me: get all of your Katie time in before school starts in the fall. Because I will be working full-time and taking 6 hours of graduate credits, and I fully expect to have no life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Now the job hunt is over.

And the apartment hunt is on in earnest.

So, interestingly, is the frustration.