Monday, September 26, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Ok, so it's not my birthday. But it is my blog's birthday. So I felt I should do something special for today. But I couldn't think of anything, so instead you get a report of my last few days, which have been incredible.

I saw the Corpsebride on Friday night with Wiggle, Pinetree, Blushorts, and a bunch of librarians and a roommate and a few random friends. I thought the movie was amusing, but it had a huge dearth of actual conflict. The threatened death of several characters didn't phase me at all, since half the ensemble was already dead, and nobody seemed to mind. Death was made completely moot. I also found it difficult to care which girl the protagonist ended up with, since he himself seemed pretty apathetic about it throughout the movie. There wasn't enough motivation given for his decision when he learns about the impending wedding of his betrothed. The piano music was haunting and beautiful, the puns and gags were enjoyable, but the conflict and suspense were as flat as yesterday's Pepsi. Even if we hadn't been able to predict what was going to happen in the end, we wouldn't have cared, since none of the characters seemed to.

Afterwards we picked up Asmond and Rock Flower and played Cranium. My team won, though I blew two turns just by making stupid mistakes.

Friday evening I went to watch "Into the Woods" on video and have dessert with Jessica and Kip, the people with whom I went to "Wicked." The desserts were excellent, and I love the play, but I had to leave early to go watch Stealth with Hero. Which was fun. We got there a bit late, but as Hero said, "I can't believe we got front-row seats!" The movie didn't suck even half as much as I expected. The plot was inane, but more politically conscious than I had expected, and characters actually ended up in interesting predicaments. The dialogue wasn't your standard pre-packaged blockbuster fare, which helped a lot. The main problem was that for most of the movie, there was no villain. The hero finds a ridiculous way to brainwash the evil plane and somehow turn it good. By splashing water on it. No joke. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, Bawb points out. They spend the rest of the movie just cleaning up the mess that was made. I guess you could count North Korea as the antagonist after that. In the end, the sentient plane pulls a Jesus and sacrifices himself to save the main characters. We are meant to feel bad for it, I think. After the movie, Hero and I went back to his place and ate banana pudding and talked about girls. I almost wonder if he wanted to hang out just so he'd get another mention in my blog. He wanted a nickname on here, so I went back and edited the previous references to him. Anyway, Hero's one of my favorite people. We understand each other, I think. As I've told him, I have a rule about arrogant people, and it's only OK to be as arrogant as he is if you're as cool as he is to back it up.

We tried to track down Chris and the Los Hermanos crew at Vermillion Skies, but there were only a bunch of people that made Hero nervous because they were all wearing Vans, and they made me nervous bcause they were all dancing. Ran into a vampire-like kid I know from Fairfield, and asked abouit his wife, but it turns out he had not gotten married after all. Whoops. I ALWAYS do that.

Yesterday was the best day I've had in a long, long time. I awoke early and got all ready for church. It was fast-and-testimony meeting, and it seemed that half the ward got up right at the beginning of the meting to bear its testimony. I was among them. In the end, the bishop allowed everyone who had gone up to the front to get up and speak. It was really a good meeting. It also had the unintended result that people seemed to instantly be my friend after that. People were just clapping me on the back as they passed me in the hall, or saying hi to me and addressing me by name. It made me happy. I also got sustained as a member of the activities committee, which is going to be awesome. We had a meeting after church, and the rest of the members of the committee are hilarious and good to work with. They told us that our main goal as members of the committee is to be best friends with the ward, and be aware of people and what they're doing. I think that sounds like the perfect calling for me, since I love meeting people.

My home teaching companion and I went and did our home teaching after that. We have the same name. We home teach two girls and my companion's best friend, who lives downstairs from him. They are all really great and amusing, and we had nice spiritual experiences with all of them.

Then it was off to ward "break-the-fast," which I think is a Utah invention and an excuse to have a potluck once a month. While there, I worked hard on memorizing people's names. After that I took a brief nap and then went to practice for "Joseph Smith the Prophet."

You guys, this music is amazing. It goes through Joseph Smith's life, which is great because of this being the year of his two-hundredth birthday and general conference coming up this weekend. Our performances are this Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., and I can think of no better way to get oneself prepared for Conference than by attending this concert. We have a 160-person choir and a 40-piece orchestra. The soloists are astounding. This is the best music I've ever been affiliated with. I hope everyone who can come, will. Tickets are $5.50 and will be available at the door. It's at the Abravenel Hall in Salt Lake city, right across from Temple Square.

I was offered a ride home by a married guy in our group. He joined our group only last Wednesday, and he sat next to me then. Last night he sat next to other people. On the way home last night he told me that he wanted to sit next to me from now on, since I have such a strong voice and read the music so well. That was a really nice compliment, since I had been thinking I was just good enough to have made the choir. I am in charge of the carpool to get us all up to SLC, and it was a good thing I was organized with that information, because I kept getting complimented. Seriously, I got so many compliments yesterday my enormous head kept knocking my pillow off the bed last night. Really.

So I went to Ward Prayer, and it was really cool. We ended up teaching the elderly bishopric members and their wives about the game Seven Minutes in Heaven during a raucous discussion. After that I went to the Alamo, which is the house near mine where my hometeachee and my companion live. We had a huge group of various members of the ward, all of who'm I'd met earlier during the day. We played a game called "Buzzword." My team won, and they declared that next time it was Smurf versus everyone else. I've said it before, but if I have one super power it's mad wicked board game skills. This one was almost as ridiculous as Mad Gab. Afterward my namesake companion gave us all ice cream and we told stories. Then I came home, and talked online to Merry, my old mission companion who's now fighting in Iraq, and to Topsie, and found out that things are moving forward with Jonathan, "according to plan." Then it was midnight, so Wiggle and Bekachu and I went to Beto's and got big honking nasty burritos and ate them. Then I went to bed.

Autumn rolls on, and I am feeling more and more blissfully, sanguinely happy. Happiness is in my blood, like hemoglobins. I start my job at the library tomorrow. I'm a page. I imagine that means I'll be following around a knight and handing him his sword or his lance, depending on which is right for the conflict at that moment.

Anyway, once again I ask you to pardon my effusiveness, but things are just so great for me lately.

Finally, in honor of my blog's birthday, I've added a new subtitle to my blog: "The Brainy Poet Corner." Brainy and Poet are two of the smurfs who make contributions here on my blog, and the whole subtitle is an anagram for my full name. As is "Horny-brain erect poet," but I pretty much hate that.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Buh's Work and a Happy Dinosaur

Concert info will come on Saturday evening when I can give you a sample of the awesome music we'll be singing. For now, I got these amazing things in my e-mail from buh today, who really really needs to start his own blog because he's so freakin' hilarious and talented on the computer.

I'm so glad colored people no longer have to sit in the back of the bus. I sure make weird faces when I'm riding these things, huh?

Okay, I really don't know what is happening here, but I like it.

If you would like to know what else I've been up to, click here.

That one made my day. See you soonish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wicked Awesome

Well, I'm a day behind schedule, so I'll talk about both of the things I promised I would.

First, Colorado trip. I ended up going with some people I didn't know. Genevieve, Jessica, and Kip. Jessica and Kip know each other and bicker like elderly people and it's funny. Genevieve was quiet and worried a lot. We got along great.

We drove up to my mom's house and got there at midnight. She had porcupines ready for us, including some for Genevieve with oat meal instead of rice, since Genevieve has decided not to eat flour, sugar, or white rice to avoid getting diabetes. There is no history of diabetes in her family, nor evidence that such a diet would help to prevent it anyway, as far as I know. I think that sort of thing is weird.

The next morning, my brother went off to try out for Wheel of Fortune and the rest of us went to a farm with the Maggot to feed the animals. We stopped in and saw my bulemic step-sister, who's lost a huge amount of weight and looks terrible. In the evening Mom and Mack put on a huge barbecue. My brother got back and announced that he'd lost the drawing round and wouldn't be going on the show. The food was great: tri-tip steaks, barbecued chicken, baked beans, watermelon, corn on the cob, caesar salad, lemonade. There were chips and guacamole and salsa Mom made from vegetables she'd grown in her garden.

We went and saw wicked, which blew my mind. It was so clever and amazing and well-done. I was sad that it ended so soon.

When we got back to the house, Mom had made apple crisp and there was ice cream. We watched the first half of The Sword in the Stone and then we all fell asleep.

In the morning we went to church and then came home, just in time for practice for Rob Gardner's Joseph Smith the Prophet.

On second thought, I will have to tell you about the concert next time, because I can't find the info on it. See you soon, weirdoes.

Monday, September 19, 2005

More Favorites

Well, I'm jumping on the bandwagon with the favorites lists that several friends have done. Tomorrow I'll tell you about my weekend, Wicked, and how I almost died, and the next day I'll talk about our upcoming choir concert. So....

Make-Believe Words:

1. Scandalicious (excitingly scandalous)
2. Hideodious (ugly and hate-worthy)
3. Festivate (party hardy)

4. Scrumtrulescent (so great words can't describe it)
5. Gratuition (scholarships and grants)

My Clothing:
1. T-shirt my secretary made that turns my real name into a dirty joke
2. Short-sleeved Trojans jacket purchased for ten pesos
3. Rugby shirt with number 24 on it
4. Peter Pan hat with feather and all

5. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish tie

Classical Music:
1. Piano Concerto in A minor by Grieg
2. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven
3. Canon in D by Pachelbel
4. Morning by Grieg
5. Saber Dance by Khachaturian

Animated Movies:
1. The Iron Giant

2. Hercules
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
5. The Incredibles


1. Ecclesiastes 7:13--
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?
2. Mark 11:24--
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
3. Mark 5:36--
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
4. Mosiah 4:20--
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
5. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24--
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Evil Dictators:
1. Stalin
2. Hitler

3. Hussein
4. Napoleon
5. Castro

1. Glow-in-the-Dark

2. Orange
3. Green
4. Purple
5. Oil Slick

1. Madascar
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. Tajikistan
5. Lesotho

Comic Book Heroes:
1. The Confessor

2. Robin
3. Superman
4. Ice Man
5. Captain Marvel (Shazam!)

1. Raspberries

2. White Peaches
3. Bananas
4. Pineapple
5. Blackberries

1. Foolish Games by Jewel

2. Light Up My Room by the Barenaked Ladies
3. Mad World by Gary Jules
4. Love You Madly by Cake
5. I am a Lighthouse by Nickel Creek

TV Shows:
1. 24

2. Jeopardy
3. Trailer Fabulous
4. The X-Files
5. The Muppet Show

Chao for now.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Pinetree and Wiggle and I went to see Batman Begins again at the dollar theatre last night. This horrible girl sat right behind us with her loquacious friends, blabbering on and on.

"Oh, where do I know that actor from? Is that Tom Cruise? Remember that time when we went to that dance and you dressed like such a slut? Hahahaha. Man, those bats are scary. Are you s@%* faced? I know I am."

It just kept going. Wiggle wanted me to say something. The people in front of us turned around and told us to let them know if we heard any high-school students around. Then the stupid girl reached over and touched Pinetree's ear. She said she just couldn't stop looking at it. I finally turned around.

She grew defensive. "What, I like his ears."

"Could you please try to be quiet?"

She gasped. "Are you serious? I--"

"Yes. This isn't an audience-interactive movie-going experience."

She turned to her friends. "He's serious!" Then back to me, "I can make comments if I want."

"Yeah, you can go home and rent a movie and talk all you want. But here you need to be quiet."

I turned around, and she muttered under her breath, "Well, I am NEVER joining the Mormon church now."

That one actually amused me. Because yeah, right she wasn't Mormon. People in Utah who aren't Mormon don't just automatically assume that everyone else is.

Anyway, to make sure I hadn't done irreparable damage, I called her the B-word on my way out, just so she wouldn't think I'm Mormon. And also because she was being one, hitting my chair and kicking the back of my head throughout the movie.

The sad thing is that once she actually quieted down, I totally fell asleep. I had to leave part-way through the movie so I could sleep in the car. I'm such an old man these days. The good thing about that was that when I left, the girl thought I was going to tell on her, so she totally shut up for the rest of the movie.

While I was in the car, a couple came and started making out against their running car right next to me. They saw me, but ignored me. I was awakened a while later by the guy saying very loudly, "Not right here. There's a guy like two inches away and he can totally see us."

"Come on, I don't care!" whined the girl.

"No way, look at him. He's probably got a hand in his pocket and he's--"

Well, common decency requires that I not repeat what he said. But it sure was crazy. After a lot more discussion about sex and the fact that I could see them, they finally they got in the car and drove off. They were obviously saying those things so I'd hear them. It was very strange, all around.

Anyway, I thought I'd just offer you a little slice of what it's like to be me in Provo. Bye.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wild's Turn

These are some of my favorite animals. After I started collecting them, I realized there's a relationship between all the animals I love best. It's that they're all a little bit off. Just like all my favorite people. This little guy to the right is a fennec fox. I bet all the other animals make fun of him for those ears. Poor guy. And I bet he can hear them talking about him behind his back, since he can hear bugs crawling beneath several centimeters of sand and can distinguish between very subtle difference in his friends' vocalizations.

Over here on the left we have the California moray eel. That's a face only a mother could love. These things are so ugly, the only roommates they can find are the red rock shrimp, bottom-dwellers who clean up after the eels in exchange for the food they bring back in. The eels have huge nasty teeth, too. Bleh.

Below we have one of the most fascinating creatures in existence: the fossa! It's pronounced "foosa." This thing climbs trees and eats primarily lemurs. You have to find a nature documentary on Madagascar so you can see how these guys climb. They're so graceful. They wouldn't make it onto my animal outcast list, except that they are endangered and are relegated to living on one small island. I will own one some day.

Now over here we have that inbred, white trash salamander known as the hellbender. These things don't have gills; they just breathe through folds in their skin. They never complete metamorphosis, and their lungs are only used for bouyancy control. They live in the deep south, and their wives are larger than they are.

If crazy old Asian men were marsupials, they'd be koalas. Koalas might look cute to you, but I can tell that they're secretly grouchy. No matter when you see them, you can tell you just woke them up. They have bedhead, sour expressions, and sore throats. At least, I am guessing their throats are sore because of all the eucalyptus they're always chewing on. I bet they want us to go away and stop looking at them right now, so we're going to.

Most fat people I know just avoid the beach. The poor manatee, though has no choice. She must live there all year round, and naked, to boot! They are sometimes called sea cows, but I think they are sea dog-poops. All that extra fat helps to keep them warm, I guess, and it helps them to float. Plus, there's just more of them to love, huh?

Nobody knows what nature had eaten the day it barfed out the pangolin (left). Also known as the scaly anteater, it's the only mammal with scales. Its only hair is its eyelashes. A sad fact about the life of the pangolin: only once has a pangolin been discovered by humans with another pangolin. The two were in an underground burrow with a baby pangolin. Otherwise, this pathetic creature walks all alone at night, presumably so that the animals that aren't freaks can't see it. It eats nasty insects and climbs trees with its powerful tail, or digs using those sharp claws. You can find it in Africa or Asia.

I have a huge soft spot in my heart for this li'l feller. He's called the pink fairy armadillo. Yeah, that's right, it's an armadillo. He hails from Argentina, so everybody give him a warm "iHola!" So as though it weren't bad enough to be pink, fuzzy, and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, they had to call him a fairy, too. The saddest thing about this creature's existence, though, is the fact that scientists haven't been able to find any impact this thing has on its ecological system. If all the fairy armadillos dropped off the face of the earth, nobody would ever notice. Sorry, fairyboy. You matter to me. Almost.

Speaking of fairies, did you know that the male sea horse has the babies? Poor guy is totally whipped. His wife probably goes to work or hangs around in sand bars all day while the guy stays home and changes diapers, tries to keep the sea stable clean, and have 36,000 live baby shrimp ready for the seamare to eat by the time she gets home. They have to eat that much live shrimp every day! If they eat dead food they die. They swim too slowly to catch anything, so instead they use their little snouts as vacuums to suck up the food, with pretty good accuracy up to one inch. The horsey you see to the left there is a lined sea horse. See how forlorn he looks? That's because evolution somehow screwed him up and his body is not very hydrodynamic at all. Plus he knows that beastly wife of his is coming home soon, and he's just been sitting on the couch watching Orka all day.

The sea horse is not a real horse.

You know that one crazy cousin or uncle who never gets invited to family reunions? Meet the secretary bird. This is actually a bird of prey, though his closest relatives, such as the eagle, the osprey, and the peregrine falcon, would love to keep that a secret from you. And who wouldn't? He's got a drab grey coat, acne-esque skin, capris, a stupid hairdo, and worst of all, those ridiculous gangly legs. It's no wonder he's stuck with the job of secretary to the other, cooler birds. I bet the other birds call him "secretary nerd." He even wears a pocket protector. Or at least I'm sure he would if he wore pockets. And one time the kite locked him in his own locker and he was in there for two periods before they found him. He didn't mind, though, because he missed gym class. He eats snakes and rodents, and is so lazy he prefers to walk everywhere, even though he can totally fly.

The black swan has it pretty rough. When swans migrate, the black swan has to give up his spot for a white swan and fly in the back of the V. Haha, no, just kidding. Swans don't form V's, but I thought that would be funny to say that. The black swan does have a lot of parallels with the black inner-city youth, though. He communicates by visual signs, for one, and sticks together with other black swans throughout the adolescent years until a mate is selected. He is also bigger than other swans and is really good at basketball. Holy cow, I'm going to get into so much trouble for this one. On to the next animal, before some swans do a drive-by on my house.

You probably didn't know this animal exists, but I have wanted one for years. It's a kangaroo. But not the red or grey kangaroos you're probably more familiar with. This is a tree kangaroo. Isn't it other-worldly? If I owned him, I would name him Fuzzbucket. He's especially good at jumping back and forth between the trees in the upper levels of the rainforests of Australia and the surrounding islands. My theory is that the other, bigger kangaroos chased him out of the wide open outback and he had to go hide from them in the tops of the trees. And he will be mine some day. Oh, yes. He will be mine.

Ok, I leave you with two pictures of the animal I want most of all. He's called the kinkajou, and if anyone has a few thousand dollars he's dying to spend on my birthday, he can glean some inspiration from these photos. Kinkajous are nocturnal in the wild, but diurnal as pets. They can live up to 24 years in captivity, so you can count this as all my birthday presents until I'm 48. And they just eat fruit, so it's really easy to shop for them. Please please please somebody get me one. If this doesn't work, I'm writing Santa.

Well, folks, That's the end of Wild Smurf's animal tour for today. Maybe in the future he'll team up with grouchy and tell you about his least favorite animals. For now, I'm going to be over there in the corner dealing with the fact that I've just realized that I want to be a TV host for a children's educational animal program instead of anything realistic.

Friends & Enemies

I've been walking on air the past few days. Everything seems so right in the world, and every sensation seems to have been heightened. That's what happens to me when it starts to turn colder outside. Until it overshoots and becomes ridiculously cold outside. Like with snow and stuff.

Went on a date last night with Racherella. She invited me. We dressed up in outrageous golf clothes and went miniature golfing at Trafalga. Ronnie and Chris came, too, which was awesome, even though they kept bickering with each other. They almost used to date. The girls had on these matching little miniskirts and tall argyle socks. They went in and flirted with the boys at the counter and scored us free games. I'm telling you, it's so nice to have hot girls around. We went to IHOP after that, and I got a french toast breakfast.

Ok, I just wrote several paragraphs about enemies and how we make them. But then I got bored with writing it, so I figured you'd get bored with reading it, so I erased it. I need to find something else to talk about. Maybe something light. Whatever flits into my head. Here we go.

Smith's had candy bars on sale a few weeks ago for three for a dollar. So I bought tons and put them in my second dresser drawer, and forgot about them. Then every time I was frantically looking for something, I would pull open that drawer and be surprised and eat the candy and I wouldn't be so stressed. Being this forgetful is great because it means you can surprise yourself. I could probably hide my own Easter eggs.

I saw Dark Water with Jennifer Connely. Booooring. Jennifer is great, but this movie sucks. The first hour of the movie, it seems as though it's just a Lifetime Channel melodrama about a divorcing woman who moves into an apartment with a nasty leak in the ceiling. Except, there are two differences. Every time they zoom in on the leak, they play eerie dissonant music and then flash to a series of external shots of the apartment complex. And the whole thing is shot through a filter to make everything look dingy and greenish. The movie climaxes suddenly and too late. It was like watching a scary movie from Cleanflix, with all the scary parts taken out. There was only one attempt at making the audience jump, and it failed completely because it was a false-alarm scare (the janitor is in the elevator and we didn't expect him [except we did]), and the scariest thing we'd seen to that point was just a little bit of black hair coming out of the faucet. John C. Reilly, as the apartment manager, is supposed to be comic relief, but while he is comical, there is nothing from which the viewer needs to be relieved. He ends up feeling like just all the other otherwise cheerful components of the film that fail to be made creepy by the sea-water lighting and clanging music. Don't go see this movie, folks.

I went to my secretary's birthday party. Not a huge fan of parties where I end up being the majority of the entertainment. There was some techno music playing, and everybody just sat around on the couches. At one point Jenny and some guy posed for photos and made it look like they were snogging. I made a mess with styrofoam. One of the roommates made a chocolate cake with strawberries and cream cheese frosting, which was good, but maybe a bit too busy.

I made my first computer joke today. I feel like a sell-out. My friend Kreig takes phone calls from technophobes and helps them with their computer issues. I had the following conversation on msn instant messenger:

Kreig: I am on the phone call from h***!
Smurf: They have computers there?
Smurf: They must be Dells.
Kreig: Hahahaha.
Kreig: I'm going to get into trouble for laughing at this caller.

Man, I will sink to any level for a laugh.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Maggot & Me

Okay, this is me and my adorable little sister, the maggot. I know what you're thinking, and I can't explain the differences in pigmentation, either.

Meanwhile, to go with the previous post that was mostly about my mother, here's a new song for you. It's one Mom used to play for us when we were small. Pay attention to the words....

Nothing to Say

I have writers' block, so I figured I'd write about it.

Ok, actually, I don't have anything to say about that. But I do want to say that I really enjoy all the comments people have been making on here. Ring Bearer, that's not you or your social circle I was referring to at all, so no worries. We're still cool. Blue Shorts, thanks for the defense of Utah. All the rest, brilliant things you have to say there. And buh, when are you going to get your own blog? You always have the funniest things to say, and the coolest pictures you've made.

I have several projects in the works for my blog. One is to write short entries about all the people I know and talk about here on my blog, so you all don't feel terribly lost, but that's going to take me a long time. Another is to talk about my opinions on racial considerations in college admission practices, based on a conversation I had with my mom (is college making a democrat of you Mom? It seems like it is!), but I'm still doing research on that. A third is to bear my testimony of the gospel and explain the difficulty in doing so in a Provo context, but I'm not feeling that today. Instead I will share a little bit about my mom in Colorado and the things she's been telling me lately.

Mom amused me via phone the other day. She's back in college, and she's taking this writing class. One day in class, the issue of discrimination came up. "Um, discrimination is mostly for old people," one student asserted. Haha, that statement cracks me up. Of course Mom, the token old person in the room, saw the prejudice inherent in that remark. So what did she do? Probably what I would have done: she chewed them all out, focusing in on this one kid who's been making disparaging remarks about Mormons to other students before class had started. In the end she felt so bad that she decided to make brownies for the whole class as an apology. Way to be, Mom. I see now where I get that from. My immediate reaction is always to just tell people exactly what I think, regardless of whether it's nice, and then to reason it out later and finally grasp the reigns of the situation. Shoot now; ask questions later.

I was awakened from my nap on Sunday by a phone call from a lady with a Mexican accent that sounded pretty fake. "Heeey, what are you doooing?"

I looked at my watch (I wear a watch now!). 7:00. almost time for Latter-Day sounds. "Well, I'm going to my fireside group in just a minute."

A strange dirisive snigger carried across the wires. "Do you always tell strangers your business?"

Ha, you have no idea, lady. Instead what I said was, "Sure, when it's inconsequential."

"Do you know who this is?" Obviously someone immature, said my grouchy, groggy, garrulous brain. My mouth was more cooperative.


"This is your Auntie."

Aw, hell. "Aunt Laura?" I hate the word "auntie." "Ohntee." So pretentious and way too blue-blood for my white-trash Ant.

It was Laura, all right. Joy. I love how relatives in my family exist in cycles. They disappear for several years, either to go to prison or Mexico or oblivion, and then they show up randomly. Uncle Bob one time called us after an extended leave of absence, only to see if we wanted to join his MCI Friends and Family plan. Another time--no, this story's good enough to merit its own paragraph.

So one day my brother Ouija decided to stay home from tenth grade. He was sitting on the couch playing video games when a tattered, bearded man came into the kitchen through the garage and started going through the cupboards. When he noticed Ouija staring at him, he stopped what he was doing. "Oh, hey, is your mom home?"


"Okay, do you know who I am?" I think that should be our cue that we're talking to some relative. Turns out it was Uncle Bob, who had last been seen at Great-Grandma Kretchmar's Denver house a few years earlier. He had mowed half her lawn, collected the money from her in exchange for promises that he'd finish it the next day, and then disappeared. The next we were aware of him, his name showed up on a search of prison inmates in Arkansas, of all places. And now here he was in our kitchen. Even after Ouija figured out who he was, he made him leave. When Mom got home from work at the dentist's office, we went out into the garage and found that Uncle Bob had been storing his stuff in there and sleeping on a makeshift bed, out of view from the doorway. A few days later there were flowers on the kitchen counter with a note that said "love Bob," and he had disappeared again.

Flash Forward to last Sunday evening, and now Ant Laura is putting me on the phone with my cousin Felicia, who inherited her mother's fake Mexican accent, which Laura in turn inherited from all the Mexicans she hangs out with, not from any kind of genes or parental influences. I'm supposed to be congratulatitng Felicia on the birth of her first child. I'm sure there's no way she's old enough to be responsibly having babies, but I act excited for her anyway, playing my questions carefully to try to ascertain whether there's any father in the picture. She has named the baby "Jestiny."

"Well, that is so awesome that you have a baby!" said some enthusiasm inside me that I don't like to let out very often, because it grosses me out.

"No, it isn't," she said bluntly, obtusely.

"Oh, well, I'm sorry then."

Poor girl.

I got off the phone pretty quickly after that. They had called from Mom's house, and Ant Laura promised to come and see me when I'm in Colorado next week. Joy.

From Mom, I later learned that she and Mack had soon grown tired of the visit from Mom's half-sister, niece, and great-niece. While they were sitting around talking, mom suddenly looked panic-stricken. "Oh, Mack! What time was that meeting?!"

He tool the cue, and luckily, had just looked at his watch. "Oh, no! It's at 7:30!."

"Well, what time is it now?"

Mack looked ostentatiously at his watch. "Okay, it's 7:10."

"Okay, good," Mom lied. "That gives us a few more minutes to visit before we have to leave."

When 7:30 rolled around, Ant Laura showed no signs of leaving. Mom and Mack loaded up the Maggot into her car seat and just drove off. They drove for about fifteen miles, but when they came back, Ant Laura and her progeny were still loitering in the front yard, talking to my youngest brother. Mom went to a friend's house to call my bro, hoping he'd go inside to answer the phone and Laura and her brood would leave. He didn't answer the phone, though. Finally Mom and Mack and the Maggot ended up parked around the corner and waited in the darkness until the family left.

I'm so excited to go visit on Friday. mom is making porcupines, my favorite food. It's going to be such a good trip. That's all I have to say for now. Funny, I titled this "Nothing to Say," and then it ended up being my first major post on my family. I wonder what that means.

The End.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I feel so connected to things right now. I think that waking early is like an anti-drug. Life seems suddenly more boring and you get more done and you feel more acutely connected to your surroundings.

My plan to stay awake all the way around the clock to fix my sleep schedule worked. The past four days in a row I've been up before eight o'clock. This morning I awoke naturally and rested at six thirty. I wrote some letters, read my novel, decided that it's a little bit uninteresting to sit there on the couch while my roommate s paraded by in succession, leaving in an order that mostly indicates who's slept through the most classes.

It's starting to feel like autumn. "Autumn" is the word that disqualified me from the fifth-grade county spelling bee. I remembered that stupid silent "n," but capitalized the "A." I almost made that same mistake just now, too. What a gyp.

It's starting to feel like fall. I know it's summer for another ten days, but--

Crap! It's the twelfth! I forgot to go to court this morning. There I was lounging about and I totally forgot I was supposed to go in. I wonder what happens now. Whether they just fine me and I don't get to plead my case or whether they now put out a warrant or what. I'll have to look into that. I need to re-establish my secretarial relations with Jenny.

It's Jenny's birthday today. I am going to go to her party after FHE tonight.

I wish I had a bright scarf and a big coat to wear outside right now. I seriously feel so alive!

Why is it that all the interesting things happen at night? Last night I retired at about ten o'clock, after practice for Latter-Day Sounds. At midnight I was awakened by a call from Racherella, who informed me that I was going to Beto's with her, Veronica, Chris, Pinetree, and the Ring Bearer. That was great fun. Pinetree is supposed to report all the funny things Racherella was saying, but if he forgets, I'll do it. I hope my blog isn't just turning into a shopping list of all the things that I do. I'm just too happy to be introspective right now.

I'm off. I can bear it no longer. I must go play outside. And then return and write some happy poetry. Goodbye, all.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Banks are the bane of my existence. I hate them. And I always have, so today's incident is just another drop in the bucket.

I have a check from Dad for $100. It's drawn at his bank, which is Bank of America. I looked in the phone book to find the nearest branch, since I don't have a bank myself and would need to cash it there. Aparently they don't call them branches here, they call them forks. So I was about to call the closest Bank of America fork and realized it was actually Bank of American Fork, which is a city just north of Provo. Dumb. So it turns out there's no Bank of America around.

Blueshorts volunteered to cash the check for me if I could verify the funds in the account. So I called the automated bank teller guy and he had an option for check verification. I followed his instructions, then told him the number of the account. He repeated the account number back to me, then asked if it was correct. I assured him it was, and he told me he was sorry but he wasn't allowed to do account verifications right now. I hung up on him.

Then I called the local branch. The lady there was very friendly-sounding unless you listened to what she was saying. Between apologies she explained that she couldn't give me information on whether my dad had enough money for the check unless he were here with me. Which is stupid, because then he could have just checked his own stupid account. So then she told me that if I cashed the check and my dad didn't have the money, my bank would charge me a fine. And then she suggested that I could try one of their branches in Nevada or a neighboring state and offered to look up locations for me. I decilned her offer and hung up.

Bank of America my eye! More like Bank of America Except For Utah. What gives with this state? Crappy produce, no banks, no Jack-in-the-Box, no In-n-Out, snow, no beach, no water polo, no Round Table, no good forests. I'm annoyed.

They do have Eclipse, though. Last night's concert was awesome. They have a new member, and he really pulled his weight. The highlight was when they sang "Everybody Dance Now" and tons of twelve-year-old girls ran out there and started dancing. And then Blue Shorts and Pinetree ran up there too, making a conspicuous spectacle of themselves.

El Veneno came with us. He is really chill. I like him lots. We served in the same mission, which was weird for me because I never meet anyone who served there. Eventually I need to splain the whole Peircian semiotic color triangle thing to him, and to you, casual reader. Anyway, I hope he sticks around.

I have noticed that there seem to be a lot of people here who dislike me for some reason or another. It's a weird thing for me. I really think it has a lot to do with my frankness. Oh, well. i just live my life happily and feel markedly free of drama. It's annoying to get these little blips on the enemy radar, but if anyone has something against me, he can just tell me or he can go die. I am not going to waste my happy time tracking down everyone who feels that I hurt someone they care about because they heard some unfounded rumor. I won't be blackmailed like that. Fortunately, I have tons of friends who back me and are a major blessing in my life. I appreciate those who stick up for me even when I'm not around. In the end, I expect this miasma of hate to blow away, since the source of most of the stink is officially out of my life.

The living end? (you know what that's from, anybody?)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Total Eclipse

I'm going to see Eclipse tonight. They're my favorite a capella group. They're so good. If anyone else wants to come, he should. Tickets are available at SmithsTix. You should go to Smith's and buy one. They're $7-10, and that's totally worth it. You will gain a testimony of them as I have.

In other news, I'm going to see Wicked next week for $45. Such a steal. It's in Colorado. I hope you're all terribly jealous.

Monday, September 05, 2005


I've decided to just post some things I've written in the past. These are my favorite entries from my other blogs and a poem from a while back. Meanwhile, i'm working on something really big, so enjoy these while you wait. This bit is from my whiterobbit blog, which I have decided to dicontinue:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
A Guessing Game For You

Pinetree and I walked to Smiff's in the rain last night at about 3:30. And guess what I found there! Really, guess.

Ok, if you guessed "a new way of life," you're correct! Dingdingdingding!!!! Yes, that's right, friends and neighbors, I discovered the lifestyle that is known as "Hungry Man." A pound and a half of food for about two dollars. Hungry Man is my new cult religion. Like if my beer-battered chicken and cheesy potato wedges assigned me a wife and instructed me to move to the mountains, I so would. I'm shaving my head and drinking the punch on this one, folks. In other news, I helped an old lady take apart her screen door today. Part of me was imagining that it wasn't really her screen door, and I was just helping her steal her neighbor's screen to let all the flies in. My youngest brother will be here in a few hours. Man, I am happy, even though my throat feels like it has tiny little wolverines or badgers truculently trying to claw their way out like a tracheotomy. Nobody at efy seems to be taking me seriously when I tell them I can't be in charge of the dance instruction. Really, I have tried, and I can't learn to dance. It's my learning disorder. I'm dancelexic. Oh, well. They'll learn. The fools.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Last Requests
Today is a stay-in-bed sick day. I'm sapped, tapped, trapped. Oh snap. I haven't felt this bad in eons. My little brother is here. I think he's still asleep on my couch. I don't feel like going out there to check. Maybe he'll bring me some delicious juice or a french dip sandwich. Mmmm. And raspberry cheesecake. We went to the Nutty Putty caves last night. Except that we were relying on Betty to find the way. That and some directions we had that were written like this:

Left after gate
mile marker 7
straight on
lots of cows
Redwood road
big hill
all the way
S curve
second driveway

Needless to say, we did not even find the turnoff. Instead we pulled over and ironically had that bonfire that had been rained out the previous night. Can I just say how great it is to hang out with girls named Betty and Veronica? I love that. I almost forgot! Free frosty week happened! On Sunday The Ring Bearer and I went to Wendy's after midnight, and they were still giving out free frosties! "Well, how many can we have?" asked The Ring Bearer cordially.

"As many as you want," said the lady in the menu.

We conferred for a moment and then got six. No wonder I'm sick. I assert that I still feel a tad disconcerted any time we go to fast food here and all the employees are white. Damn white people, stealing all the minorities' jobs.

I know it's our constitutional right to bear arms, but I am crazy, sick, delusional, and seriously wondering if I can stretch that to include the right to fire warning shots into my ceiling in the general direction of the noise of my upstairs neighbor playing the guitar and singing loudly for up to eight hours a day. I hope my brother gets here soon with that cheesecake. Oh, wait, that was an imaginary scenario. Well, maybe I'll order out. Or maybe I'll just lie here and die. I'm afraid to fall asleep on my back lest I drown in my own snot. If I'm dead by tonight, somebody cancel my subscription to Entertainment Weekly. I don't want my bum roommates mooching off my cold dead body. If they want to learn about the most anticipated summer blockbusters and Hollywood's scandalous gossip, they can fork over the money themselves. Bunch of vultures.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Racherella Smurf
I worked for one hour today. I'm SOOOOOO broke. Oh, well, by the end of the summer I'll have money galore. I crashed L80's night last night with The Ring Bearer. Racherella bought me dinner. I love that girl. I don't think she realizes that I seriously would marry her. And go live in a trailer somewhere and be happy and poor and unemployed. No more Los Hermanos. We won't need to buy clothes; we'll wear the dirt from our land, and we'll subsist on berries that grow naturally in the back yard, like deer. And we'll have shot all the neighbors with our muskets, so no need to worry about getting the authorities called on us for dressing our adopted dozen black babies in nothing but Mother Earth. And I guess we'll shoot the deer while we're at it, so they quit eating our damn berries.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"It's a Sad Day to be Mormon."

Not really, of course, but that's what my roommate Asmond thought the sportscaster said on the BYU football game today, where we were getting thrashed by the other team. It wasn't what he really had said, but it would have been really funny if it were.

So I've been catching up on my 24 lately, and I love that show. Every episode has stars, guest stars, and special guest stars. I used to look at my life as though I were the star of some TV show, and random people would come in and out. Lately, though, I have started to feel like one of those special guest stars in everybody else's life. It's a weird thing. I used to go to parties and be the center of attention and often the host. Now I'm happy to just mix with the other guests and try to soak in a little of each person. I still tell stories and such, but I really like to hear from others and see what they think about life.

Speaking of stories, I've been thinking that they will be an integral part of my future. I want to hone my writing skills, and write things that people will enjoy reading.

Four of my favorite people have read my entire blog in just a day or two recently. That makes me feel a few things simultaneously. The first is the obvious feeling of accomplishment at having produced something tat people will put in enough effort to at least finish. The second is this weird and unexpected feeling of loss. It has taken me a year to write all of that, and here these people come and read it all like it's a magazine on the back of a toilet. Of, course, I realize that this is a completely unreasonable response. I just feel a bit like J.K. Rowling must feel after she slaves away for two years putting all these details into the latest novel, only to have a million people finish reading it on the first day it comes out. The final feeling is one of connection to these friends. Three of the friends began their own blogs after reading it (the fourth already had hers). They are all prodigious writers, and I am glad to add them to my list of daily reads. I recommend them to anyone who appreciates a nicely turned phrase.

I wrote too much today. I had it all as one long entry, but I have since broken it down to make it more digestible. Read at your leisure. I've set a major goal to write a lot this upcoming year so I can figure out what it is that people like in my writing, so there will probably be a lot more of this coming.

Further Reason for the Computers on Campus to Block my Blog

More California summer adventures:

Mom asked me if I had seen or heard from any of my mission companions lately. I told her I knew about the middle four, but the first and last I had no idea. Then I went on to tell her the story of Elder E., my last companion. His name is being protected because, despite the awful story I'm about to tell, I love this kid like a brother.

Elder E. began his mission in Brazil, speaking Portuguese. Four months into his mission, he decided that he needed to confess to his mission president that after he'd been through the temple, he and his girlfriend had begun having freaky sex (I had to hear WAY too many details). He was sent home immediately, and spent about a year going through the repentance process. He was reassigned to the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, Spanish speaking. It was there that he became my first junior companion.

Elder E. was a difficult companion, and he knows I say that. He was very self-assured. One day he told me he had already done the whole repentance thing and was now on his mission just to put in his time. He confided in me about his pre-mission problems, and told me that his only obstacle he still had to overcome was lust. He just loved butts so much and could not stop thinking about them. I told him that he had plenty of other obstacles to overcome, like his pride. That bowled him over, but he believed me, which was cool.

He didn't speak Spanish. I guess they just expected him to be able to switch from Portuguese. We spent a lot of time going over the language, and he just kept speaking Portuguese to our investigators and I'd have to translate because I knew what he was supposed to be saying.

I found out the kid had been masturbating the whole time we were companions. I was completely agog. I couldn't believe someone could be doing that and trying to have the spirit and teach the gospel at the same time. I told him that either he would call the mission president and tell him, or I would. He did it. A few days later a pamphlet came in the mail that was called something like, "How to Apply the Atonement and Stop Masturbating." Ha! I couldn't believe that was the end of it. We set some goals and I think he did much better after that. Elder E. and I grew to be very close. We could talk about anything, and we usually did. When I got sick (bronchitis), he offered a prayer in the other room while I was languishing in bed.

"Please, don't take Elder Smurf from me. I still need him." He reports that he immediately heard a voice say, "No, you don't." When he told me about it, I was mildly annoyed. "And where am I going?"

We found out the answer to that one a few days later when my doctor had decided it would be necessary to send me home again. That's a story for another time.

When next I saw Elder E., I was at a mission reunion. He was with his new wife of four months. Since we were the only two Spanish speakers there, he said to me, "Todavía no hemos consumado el matrimonio," or, for those of you who don't hablar español, "We still haven't consumated the marriage." Like I really need to hear these things. Apparently his wife had some sort of psychological problem that caused her to feel extreme pain instead of pleasure whenever they tried to have sex.

I must admit that that night I lay on the trampoline looking up at the stars and laughing my head off. Poor Elder E. You couldn't stop with the sex your whole mission, and now here you are married and can't actually get any. The ironies of life were just too much. It seemed just, in a way, or at least appropriate. Anyway, that's the story I told my mother that day in California when she asked about my comps. I ended it thus: "And if I never hear from him again, that's ok, because this story is complete in my mind. I don't ever expect to see him again."

Of course, stories are NEVER complete in my life.

So two days later, we were to have dinner at my mom's best friend's house. Due to the fact that my dad accidentally dropped his telephone in the sink, I was suddenly left without any way to contact anybody to get a ride to the dinner. Dad came home with his cell phone after the dinner had begun, and I called my brother. He said he'd come get me after he scarfed down some food. He also said that Mom wanted me to know that the missionaries had come over to eat with us because of some sort of miscommunication in their dinner schedule. And she wanted me to know that one of them was an Elder E. Yes, folks, it turns out Elder E. has a little brother who is serving a misison in my homeward right now. The missionaries waited around for me to show up, and I regaled them all with mission stories of the two of us. The spiritual and funny ones, that is. When they left, mom freaked out.

"Smurf! Why does this always happen to you? All I could think the whole time we were having dinner was 'Did he wash his hands before he shook mine?'" Ha, sorry, Mom. Never really expected any of that to happen. Especially not two days after the story.

I thought the whole matter was entirely funny, and shared the story with several friends. The a few days ago I got an e-mail from my Elder E. I'll quote the essentials here:

"I believe that I would have a better chance at making a decent living for my family by playing the craps in Las Vegas than in Utah's job market. I have been on an active job hunt for about a year now and it is the most frustrating and humiliating processes one could possibly endure.

"I have been doing a lot of thinking today. I have decided that I am upset because I am unable to enjoy the now because of my worries about the then. I understand intuitively that I should be able to have peace and contentment now and be prepared for the future. But I am having great difficulty letting go of my fear of failure. I can probably trace that back to pride or to expectations (real or perceived) from others or some combination of the two. But I'm still having a really hard time.

"I'm struggling with the emotional and physical roller coaster of a wife during pregnancy. I've lived the majority of the last two years like that and I think I'm done. Right now, I do not want any more kids. It has nothing to do with the kids. It has to do with wanting to stay married.

"Other than that, I have about 6 minutes of free time per week and I don't get any sleep or eat healthy. So my brain will be sharp and the rest of me will give up when I'm 35. What a way to go...

"Sorry to unload on you after four years of almost no contact. But, as I believe I have told you previously, I feel like you understand me better than anyone with whom I have ever spoken. Maybe you just listen better, but it works."

We're meeting on Monday to "do lunch." Can I just say how awful I felt when I got this and realized that I'd made Elder E. almost into a punchline in my head? Here's a kid with real emotional scars, and he really looks up to me. I should have been there for him during those four years. Not that I feel I can magically solve his problems, but he seems to feel I have this great perspective that can help him. And maybe it can. Who knows? Anyway, I don't know why I shared that story just now. I just need to get these things out sometimes. And I hope you caught the moral, which is that other people's trials are never a joke, no matter how hilarious or awkward or ironic they may be.

And the Academy Award for Worst Segue Goes to....

So, speaking of masturbation, I got an instant message from Figgy, one of my last-year efy kids, this afternoon. He lives in Tennessee, and was one of the best kids I'd had the whole time. I talked to him for a bit, and then he asked me if I knew how to stop masturbating. I think this might be exactly the type of conversation that is the reason we're not supposed to keep e-mail contact with our efy kids, but he's old enough now that it's all legal. So I dropped everything else I was doing and focused on this conversation with Figgy. He said he'd already been to the bishop about it and the bishop had told him to try to stop. I offered all the advice I could, and shared a few scriptures. He said something to me that kinda surprised me. He told me that he still remembered a promise I had made at efy last year in which I had told the boys that if they would just read the Book of Mormon straight through in two week's time, they'd be blessed with the strength they needed to overcome whatever their trial was at that time. He said he had decided to start that today, and wanted to know if I really thought it could help him. I said it would take a lot of work but that I really felt that such a serious study of the scriptures would help him with his trials, as it had helped me with mine. I really respect this kid for having the courage to seek help with his problems, and to try to clear these things up before his mission. He's a great teacher, and he'll be an awesome missionary some day. I had completely forgotten I'd issued that promise to the boys that week. It makes me glad to know that someone actually took to heart something I had felt inspired to say. Figgy will be in my prayers for the next little while. Man, I'm grateful for that job.

An Audition and an Epiphany

Shelley (BC I worked with all summer) and I auditioned for a musical fireside group called Latter-Day Sounds yesterday and this morning. And we both got in! I'm so excited to be a part of this group. It looks like it's a time commitment of large proportions. We'll be singing and bearing testimony. I really enjoyed the auditions, mostly because they had us sight-read some music and I was able to do it without any mistakes. All this singing at efy has really paid off, I guess. I don't even really remember learning to do that. We'll go on two tours, which sounds really great. It'll be good for me to be surrounded by good people and to use my talents to bear my testmony.

At this morning's audition, there was a question on a slip of paper that I saw that read, "How have you gained a testimony?" I've been thinking about that lately. Why me? It's not like I was this extra-righteous youth. It's not like I even had a constant strong desire for the church to be true. Daily life would be easier if it weren't true, I can easily believe. So what's the answer?

I could say that I gained my testimony by delving into my scriptures and looking for answers to my real problems in there. I could also say that it came because I prayed so earnestly and desperately to know if God was there. Or maybe because I repented of my sins when I was a young man, and was able to see the difference in my life.

But yeah, right. That would be like the farmer taking credit for the miracle of a sprouting seed. My testimony of the gospel is a gift of the spirit. Alma says that we are blessed when we are compelled to be humble. That's totally me. I guess those of you who are humble without being compelled are even more blessed. But I'm not in that camp.

Alma himself, you'll remember wasn't one of those guys, either. Here's an interesting thought I was sharing with my roommate the other day. Look at the greatest missionaries in the scriptures. We have Alma, Paul, and the sons of Mosiah. All of those men were compelled to be humble. Why is it that the Lord sent angels to them all when they were zealously working against the church? Did they deserve it? Obviously not. There is a great deal of grace involved there, it would seem. So is it because they had the ability to effect a lot of good in the world? That's my roommate's theory. It seems a bit unfair, though.

Still, an angelic visitation is not a guarantee that someone will follow the path of righteousness. We always have Laman and Lemuel. So maybe there is still something inside a person that sets him apart. Maybe there are plenty of wicked men out there who see angels and ignore them.

Anyway, I feel that these men all seem to have worked for the rest of their lives like men trying to dig their way out of debt. They seem spurred by the knowledge that the Lord blessed them and called them when they didn't deserve it. That's the way I feel. Maybe the Lord blessed me with a testimony because he has confidence in my ability or at least willingness to bring others to him. I'm not sure. But whatever the reason, I need to work as though that's why he did it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Aftermath of a Barbecue

Speaking of something else, I got food poisoning at the barbecue last Saturday. That was fine. I was just too impatient to wait for my burger to cook. The sad part was that I finally lost my cool with this female efy counselor we'll call "Butt" for several reasons I won't tell you.

Butt is the quintessential younger sibling. She pokes and prods, and pushes people's buttons like an epileptic monkey in a fighter-jet cockpit. I really can't stand her. Especially not when I have a terrible headache and am on the verge of vomiting. Anyway, I eventually had had too much. She was very childishly calling me by the shortened version of my name, which is my dad's name, which irks me to no end. It's fine if someone does it once and then stops when I tell them how much I hate it. But that wasn't the case with Butt. "Okay, ___, sorry, ___, I'll stop now ___."

My friend Germany was actually the first to say something rude to her. She pouted. "Maybe you should just take me home."

Germany called her bluff. "You don't want us to take you home. You want us to tell you we want you to stay."

Her eyebrow went up like a little kid leaning over clandestinely to see if there are any cookies left in the jar. "Well, do you?"

"Sure," responded Germany amicably.

"Yeah, I want you to hang out with us," said my other friend Dawn Treader.

I sat there without speaking.

"And what about you, ___?" she aksed, calling me once again by my dad's name.

I hesitated, then responded. "Actually, I'm done," I responded curtly. "There's only so much butt I can take and I am WAY past my quota tonight."

Dawn Treader started cracking up.

"Dawn Treader, that's not funny! He's serious!" complained Butt.

"I know, that's why it's so funny!"

Butt then leaned over and whispered to me that she hated me. Things were generally awkward between everyone after that, so we all just went home. Now, I'm okay with her thinking I can't stand her, because it's kinda true. I don't need to be around people who intend to bother me. But I still felt pretty bad about having said that, especially after I puked and started feeling better. I had just attacked her generally and not given any reasons, and that was unfair of me. So for future reference, my goal is this: If I ever absolutely have to say something rude to a person to keep them away from me, I need to at least be specific. That way they have the option of trying to fix it. What I should have said to Butt last time is, "Butt, I'm sorry. You're a funny girl, and you can say really nice things, but I feel like you're constantly trying to push my buttons. I don't like to be around people when they do that." Ah, well. You live and learn, huh?

Anyway, that's the end of a rather scattered series of posts. I hope I haven't gotten boring. It seems that my posts since the summer ended have been a lot less whimsical than the old ones. Maybe something in me died this summer. I still have to talk about all of that, I guess. And I still have to tell my new super-awesome Jennifer Ortiz story. Those are always a hoot.

iChao Pescados!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lessons Learned

I think I stole today's title from my friend n. But I feel it'll be a good way to catch up on things I did since the events of my latest posts.

1: I can learn lessons from those I'm trying to teach.

While I was a counselor up in Idaho, I had to teach a lesson on obedience. My BC was coming in that evening to observe me. Previous nights we'd learned about faith and hope. I decided to drive home the lesson about why we obey Heavenly Father (because we know he has our best interest in mind and we'll be blessed by it). We started off with a little game of Simon Says. I, naturally, was Simon. I decided to tell them to do things that would benefit me more and more until they refused to obey.

"Simon says touch your toes," I began. I had them complete a few very simple tasks. Then came the turning point. "Simon says give me a dollar." Fourteen wallets were whipped out of fourteen pairs of sagged jeans. Twelve dollars were placed in my hand. One boy asked timidly, "What if I only have a five?"

"Simon says give me that." The five landed atop the other bills in my hand, and was immediately covered by a twenty from the last remaining boy. I took out my wallet and placed all the money inside. "Simon says go clean my room."

In a flash, the boys were gone. I sat in the empty room with my BC. He said laughingly, "Wow, I need to teach more devotionals like this." I explained that I was trying to tell them to do something that they refused to do. He suggested I ask them to do something illegal or impossible. Across the hall, the sound of a half-chant, half-grunt was emanating from my room. I went over there to see what was going on.

It was like a scene from a college-dorm version of Lord of the Flies. The boys had descended upon the room with their war chant, "Ugh! Hah! Ugh! Hah!" and efficiently made my bed, packed my bags, folded my laundry, and emptied the trash. With a cheer, they ran toward where I was standing in the doorway. I fled back to the room where we'd been holding the devotional, and the boys filed in behind me, still chanting.

When they were setlled down, I said, "Simon says kill Sippy!" For illustrative purposes only, I will describe Sippy. That was his last name, but if it were your last name, you'd have to go by it too. It just wouldn't fit you as well. Sippy somewhat resembled a love-sick toad. He had a round face and a broad smile and thick brown curls on his head. My paperwork reported that he suffered from ADSD, but he usually just sat there serenely watching whatever I was doing. As soon as I issued that command, his smiling face disappeared. I don't believe he stopped smiling; I just couldn't see him any more beneath the tumult that immediately surrounded him. The other thirteen boys soon cleared away (except for one tiny guy who had mounted Sippy like a wild boar and was pressing a pillow against his face), and Sippy just lay there, eyes closed and tongue out, obediently dead.

I couldn't figure out where to go next. It would seem pretty dumb to have these kids go through all this and then not be able to tie it into my lesson. I got desperate. "Simon says float in mid-air."

Most of the thirteen surviving boys formed a huddle in the middle of the room, and then after conferring for a moment like Huey, Dewie, and Louie, they began to lift each other off the ground. A few of the others began to hang from the bunkbeds, the light fixtures, and the doorframes. The room had been changed to the monkey pit at the zoo, with one large dead monkey in the middle. My BC was really amused by all of this.

"Okay, Simon says game over." I decided there was only one way to act like everything had gone as planned and that I'd had a spiritual lesson for them in the game--let them make it up. "So what are we learning about tonight?" I asked.


"All right, great. And what did we learn about obedience from this game?"

"That when Heavenly Father asks us to do something, even if it's impossible, we can still do it."

I was suddenly amazed by the simple fath of these young men. It occured to me in that moment, and more as I thought about it later, that I falter so often on the simple commandments, yet here were a bunch of kids who had so much faith in their efy counselor that they would strive to find ways to obey even the most immpossible of commands. I looked to my right and saw Sippy, still dead, but now squirming with the visible desire to make a comment.

"Simon says Sippy's alive again."

"I know what we're supposed to learn from this!" he shouted ecstatically. I nodded for him to go on. "This is just like that one time in the Bible when that guy had to kill his son and then the son was all obedient and then they put him up on the rock thing to kill him and then he lifted up the knife, but at the last second Heavenly Father came and grabbed the knife away [he was acting all of this out as he was speaking] and he was like, 'no, you don't have to kill your son anymore' and Heavenly Father blessed the son because he let him kill him even though he got saved before it happened." All that came out in one breath.

Bless you, Sippy. My heart reached out to him because of his enthusiasm and because he'd made the gospel connection I'd failed to. Abraham and Isaac, of course! We have few better examples of obedience in the scriptures. I told the kids about another Father in the Bible who let his Son be killed, an how the Son had died (just like Sippy! the kids noted) and how he had always shown us how to be obedient. I gave back the kids' money and promised them that if they would always try to find ways to obey Heavenly Father like they had me that night, that they'd always be given the blessings he had in store for them.

So, here are the things I learned that evening from those sagacious boys:

Lesson 1a: You are always God in lessons for your youth. You can't play the devil for a group of 14-year-olds who look up to you.

Lesson 1b: We should be striving to be obedient. The times when it seems the most impossible are really just the times we have to work the hardest.

Lesson 1c: There is a really easy way to get your room cleaned. Just make it a principle of obedience for a bunch of zealous teenagers.


Lesson 2: It is not our goal to outgrow our dependence on God.

"Heavenly Father, please take this trial from me." Repeat 4,000 times, but with a little more conviction and desperation each time. That sums up my prayers during my teenage years. I finally reached a conclusion: I would have to remove it from myself.

I don't know where this idea of God as training wheels came from in my life. I've always felt that if I were to grow into a being even remotely like God, that there would come a point when God would have to let go of the handlebars in my life and let me ride on my own. I viewed my major trials as tests like the Brother of Jared had with the light in the barges he built. I've just recently typed this all up in a letter to an old mission companion, so I'll copy and paste here in just a moment. First, though, I should say that I finally got these false suppositions out of my head after a lot of prayer and scripture study and especially a particularly grueling conversation with our Session Director, Brother Hinton in Santa Barbara well past bedtime one night.

Here's my new conclusion:

After the brother of Jared built the barges, he noticed three problems with them: we can't steer, we can't breathe, and we can't see. The Lord answered each of these issues in a different way. He takes care of our trials in those same three ways. With the steering issue, the commandment was basically, "I'll take care of it; you just need to have faith to get into the boat and you won't have to do anything else." Someimes we need to relinquish control to the Lord. With the breathing issue, the brother of Jared was given specific instructions about what he should do. The Lord was able to see what needed to be done and tell him to do it. In our lives, we often need to find out what the Lord's will is and go and do it.

It's the last one that is the most interesting, and in the end took the most faith. When the brother of Jared repeated his concern about not being able to see in the ships, the Lord turned it around on him and asked the brother of Jared what he wanted to have done. It seems that most of our major trials in life fall into this set. It is natural to feel like the Lord has abandoned us when he doesn't take care of our problems for us or at least tell us what we should do to work our way through them. But there's something important to remember. It may be up to us to come up with the plan, but that plan needs to include the grace of God. Sometimes we have to go into the mountains to forge our stones, but we still require the hand of the Lord to come and give them light. He always will, too.

That's what I'd been missing! Nowhere in the scriptures does God leave someone alone to fight out his own destiny. So what if God doesn't simply abolish the trials from my life the very moment I ask for them? That doesn't mean I have to face them alone. I might have to say, "Lord, please, I'm willing to do this and this and that, but I can't do that on my own and I need thy help." And you know what? He'll do it. It's not meet that we should be commanded in all things, but it's also not meet that we should try to do anything without the blessing and support of Heavenly Father. We need Him every hour, not just until we're done with him.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to write about more things I learned this summer, but for now it looks like my time is up on the library computer. no time to proof-read, either. Bye!