Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Slap in the Face from a Hymn

"Be thou humble in thy calling, and the Lord thy God shall teach thee / To serve his children gladly with a pure and gentle love." Hymn 130

I often find myself called upon to play the "organ" in Sacrament meeting. (The "organ" is actually a digital piano--a finicky, finicky digital piano that will make organesque sounds when you push the proper button.) And so I often find myself playing preludes and postludes. I don't plan which hymns I'll be playing; instead I prefer a far more intuitive method of randomly flipping the hymn book open and playing whichever hymn my eye falls on first.

A bit of backstory here: I recently (well, recently ish) received a call to serve as my ward's family history co-chair. I teach a class, act as a consultant, and supervise a committee (which, right now, has one member aside from myself). With recent changes in temple policy, my bishopric members also hope for me to encourage the acquisition of names so we can perform baptisms for the dead at any given time of day. More specifically, they've requested I figure out how to have 75 family names prepared for a November temple excursion.

My male counterpart has essentially been a no-show, and the one remaining committee member has been a person I struggle not only to understand, but not to be annoyed with. I know that in accepting my calling, I essentially agreed to become a part of her life. And she's willing to accept responsibilities. She's enthused about family history work. And yet I've still struggled to figure out how to work with her. In fact, I've sort of avoided meeting with her lest I fall prey to hours and hours of story about her life troubles.

And then yesterday morning, I flipped to this hymn and felt roundly chastised: between my school load, my work load, and my calling load, I've felt more than a little stressed. Some of that burden lifted last week after Ward Council meeting when the temple committee co-chair pulled me aside to ask what he and his committee members could do to help; he (rightly, in my opinion) figures that the goals of our committees are intertwined.

But as I started reading through the second verse while I played, I mentally cringed more than a little. Part of the stress I feel has been directly correlated to attempting to be a one-woman committee, and I don't have to be. And it occurred to me that in making an effort to work with this sister, I have an opportunity to learn how to understand someone. Perhaps even how to love someone.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Um, May I Phone A Friend?

Last night, I went with a friend and saw Up at the dollar theater. (The dollar theater where, ironically, movies cost two dollars on a Friday night. But still, that's a far cry better than paying eight. And since I dearly loved Up and I didn't pay for my ticket the first time around, I had no qualms about surrendering two dollars to see it again.) Anyway, really, the movie is neither here nor there except to say that when I came home from the movie, I heard a strange water-running noise. Our backyard, over the past few weeks, has undergone a transformation from untamed wilderness to extension of the dentist office parking lot and I thought perhaps some crazy person had turned on a hose out back to water the dirt. (You think I'm kidding; I'm not; I actually came home one day to see a construction man watering the dirt they'd piled up that day. Why? I really don't know. I didn't ask.)

Anyway, upon further investigation, I discovered that the downstairs toilet was continually making the noise a toilet makes post-flush while the tank refills. The noise was not stopping. I'd had a semi-similar experience with my toilet a couple of weeks ago, wherein I learned what the inside of our upstairs toilet tank looks like. Much to my chagrin, the toilet tank downstairs doesn't look the same...although, as I came to discover, it does operate on the same principles. Anyway, after looking at it a brief moment and subsequently deciding I was too tired to take action, I came upstairs and went to bed.

Didn't sleep very well. I could hear the stupid toilet from up here. So today, after I exercised and ate and showered, I went downstairs to investigate. And still found myself unsure of what I was looking at. So I texted a friend I felt sure would know about toilets and plumbing. No response. I called another friend--not because I had confidence in his ability to fix it, but because I hoped to high heaven he had a handyman friend who knew everything about toilets. No go. But he did, at least, know enough about the anatomy of a tank to provide a couple of things to check.

Those things were fine.

I called home to my parents to see if my dad were available; he wasn't. My mom suggested I jiggle the handle. A highly useful toilet tool, or so I've learned, because apparently jiggling the handle can help put things back into place...if they're out of place. And they weren't.

So I finally called my dad's cell. He told me what to look for. And I figured out--with his help--not only how to make the noise stop, but how to fix the entire problem. Not before, though, I called Friend #2 (the one I hadn't thought handy enough to fix the problem, but who proved not to be as informationally challenged on the topic of toilets as I thought he'd be) to whine that I couldn't see what I was looking at very well and could he please please please come be my second pair of eyes.

A few minutes later, I realized I had all but fixed the problem and I simply needed to tighten a screw. After completely finishing the job (and with nobody physically there with me, nonetheless!), I called him back to say nevermind, sorry, there was simply a screw loose. To which he replied, with a snort, "Obviously more than one!"

Nevertheless, I'd just like to take this opportunity to announce that I fixed a toilet! Also, that it's entirely plausible that I wouldn't ever be able to fix anything "on my own" without a roster of incredibly awesome people programmed into my cell phone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Wisdom of This Afternoon's Dessert... ?

The office I work in is on the fringes of The Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake City, and I periodically find myself working my way down there long before my shifts begins. In my defense, it's kind of ridiculous to come home for a brief span of time and then leave again. And I often find myself unwilling to stay on campus and force myself to study (or do something even remotely study-like) after I have exhausted my brain with the work of sitting in a graduate English course. (You may think that's not brain-exhaustive; trust me, it is).

Anyway, when I find myself down at the mall with an hour and forty-five minutes before my shift begins (I almost eliminated the "f" in shift...accidentally, I swear!), I go to get lunch. Because I have this horrifically bad habit of not eating real food during the semester. Instead, I eat breakfast. And then munch periodically until I arrive home (late in the evening, I might add) and have dinner. Today I wanted Chinese food. And my fortune cookie--with that generic wisdom only fortune cookies and horoscopes have--told me that I "would take a chance on something--and win."

This has occasioned a question I'd like to address to all of you: if I should--on a whim, not because I really believe that the slip of paper inside my fortune cookie has a remotely good chance of predicting my future--act on the advice of the fortune cookie, what would you recommend I take a chance on?

Consider carefully. Then let me know!

Also, on a completely unrelated note, arriving too early proves dangerous because I too often wander around the bookstore and then talk myself into buying things. The guy at the cash register actually recognizes me! (Sad, I know. Of course, as he pointed out today when I purchased an anthology--the book type I fall prey to during the course of the semester because I can read short works, individually, as I commute--there are far worse places to be recognized: a crack house, a meth lab, the police station...)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes I'm Graceful...

...but the other 90% of the time, I should earn a Klutz of the Year award. Such as today, when it rained, and I met the Puddle of Doom.

Most puddles, as I'm sure you know, are perfectly benign. Some of them are shallow, some of them are deep; some are wide, some narrow; all of them are great fun to splash around in if the circumstances are right.

But this was no benign puddle that rested in my way as I ventured to the Trax station after my American Lit class this afternoon: this puddle was not only wide, but indeterminately deep. After a careful survey, I decided that perhaps this puddle might be deceiving me. I optimistically predicted the puddle did not have much depth to it at all.

I was sort of right. The puddle did deceive me.

But it was deeper than I had predicted, not shallower.

The wedge (it's a type of shoe, people! don't raise your eyebrows at me!) on my left foot went one way, and my foot went another. My right shoe and foot magically managed to maintain a connection. But I still managed to wrench my foot somehow, even while it was in the shoe. (I know; I'm talented.)

And down went a Katie. I half expected for someone walking behind me to yell "Timber!" I admit, if they had, I would have laughed. At this stage, I'm mostly finding the experience amusing. Except when I stop to think about the pain in my left knee and my right foot.

Also, when I remember that I met a highly attractive man who asked if I was all right and I remember that all I could think to (defensively) say was: "I'm fine. Just a klutz."