Monday, December 31, 2007

My Year in a Nut's Hell

2007 began for me with an ethereal stop into a cozy English pub to ask for directions. It was called The Pelican Inn, and everyone inside was really drunk and really British and slightly helpful. Eventually we gave up on our destination, as the roads were all washed out. But Evan and I couldn't help but shake the feeling that if we went back looking for The Pelican Inn in the daytime instead of on a spooky, foggy morning on New Year's Day, it just wouldn't be there. Especially because we weren't even in England. We were in the woods in Sausalito, CA. That's kind of how I feel about this whole year. In ten years when I look back, I don't know what I'll have filed away in my brain for 2007. So here's my attempt to cement proof I even did this year before it vanishes into the mist.

So. By the holiday.

New Years was spent camping in the Redwoods, my favorite place on earth, with Evan, Justin, and Wiggle. It rained the whole time and was freezing and beautiful.
On Valentine's Day I took the girl I've loved for years to dinner. She told me I "get" her. Then she told me about this other guy, and when it comes to who actually gets her, it's him. I don't get it.
Saint Patrick's Day was spent at Los Hermanos, peddling yucky "Mexican"food to a bunch of grouchy old Mormons who don't believe in tipping or wearing green.
On Easter I bore my testimony in church.
Mother's Day was spent getting ready to go camping and to Disneyland with my mom and step-dad and 5-year-old sister.
My Father's-Day phone call was cut short because dad was at work at Home Depot, and I was at in my apartment in a scary Eskimo ghetto.
Independence Day was a let-down, since it doesn't ever get dark enough for fireworks in Fairbanks, AK in July, and I ended up on a plane most of the day anyway. The company barbecue consisted of hot dogs, to which I'm allergic, so we went and ate pizza in a bar.
Pioneer Day started out on a plane as well, on the way back after giving up on that horrible job. We opted out on fireworks and went to see Hairspray with Caitie and her mom. It was wonderful, and we saw fireworks from the freeway on the way home anyway.
Halloween was spent at my new job at a school for euphemismed girls. I didn't get to dress up as Urkel, as I had planned.
Thanksgiving was also my birthday, and I had to work, but my friends did Thanksgiving dinner with me at Tara's house before I had to go to work. Wills made a Turkey, and Evan dressed up in full pilgrim regalia for the occasion. Jordan lured me unwitting into a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving by stealing the food off my plate, even though I was the one who cooked it. The when I stabbed him with my silverware in an attempt to steal it back, he made me sit in the corner, which was referred to as "Oklahoma." That night the girl I took out on Valentine's Day told me she was still interested in me and was considering leaving her boyfriend for me.
I got to play Santa for Maggie, since she and Rusty and the folks were in town again for Christmas. Then off to a 14-hour shift at work, during which that same girl let me know that she had chosen to stay with the other guy. Bummer.

Most of the big events in my life fall on holidays. But lots of other stuff happens, too.

2007 was the year that:

My dad's second divorce was finalized. He celebrated by going out with his new ex (Darla II: The Meltdown, as opposed to the woman he left mom for, who was named Darla I: A New Hope) and getting drunk or worse and not showing up to Home Depot for over a week. He lost his job and his apartment and now lives with a maid named Rosa, we believe. He's gone dark ever since he was supposed to show up at the rehab center in Healdsberg where he was during my mission.

I learned a traditional Eskimo greeting: "Hey! Can I have two dollars?" I would fend off the throng of Eskimo beggars by beating them to the punch and asking them for two dollars before they had a chance to ask me.

I bought the most expensive thing I've ever owned: a Nikon D40 camera for $650 in Alaska. That's more than my computer ($300 including the scanner/printer) and my car (another $300) combined. Got some great pictures with the camera, and I have them all backed up on the computer now.

Our house was broken into and burgled. Burglarized. Whatever. I just know it wasn't "robbed" because the biotch ladycop on the phone gave me such a hard time about reporting the wrong crime. Anyway, someone took all of our stuff out of the house last week while we were all asleep. The take: Jordan's iPod, Aarons record player, speakers, and record collection, the apartment DVD player, and my Nikon D40 camera and my computer. Bummer. The cops only dust for fingerprints if there has been a homicide, apparently, which begs the question, "who do I have to kill to get the police to do their job around here?" I had even dusted everything the morning previous. Oh well, when did the police ever help anybody?

Also my car broke down. Been getting rides from some great friends, including Ryan and Evan, foremost.

I came up with a surefire new weight-loss method: poop more. An easy way to ensure it works is to get food poisoning by eating a chicken burrito at Beto's at 2:00 a.m.

I got all enrolled for school and will soon be taking classes at UVSC,which will soon be UVU, and hopefully will soon have a film program. For now I'm a Behavioral Science Major.

I finally got my Utah driver license and registered to vote as a Republican. Glade says that makes me an official Utahn now. Before you get your hopes up, Mom, I just registered as a republican to help swing the primaries in favor of Ron Paul. A little party crashing, if you will. Soon as March rolls around, I'm back out.

Evan and the gang and I finished our film, Lords a-Larping. Episodes two and three are slightly stalled in the works, but will come eventually, have no fear.

I was invited to be in the musical program, Joseph Smith: The Prophet. We recorded a DVD and a CD. Wonderful testimony builder, that.

I watched my two best friends as one started to drift away from the church and the other started swimming toward it. I love those guys.

I went to see Wicked in L.A. with Evan, Ronnie, and Sheri, and fell in love all over again with the ocean. I also went to Vegas with Glade and Evan, and again with Evan and Tara.

I was called as FHE committee chair in my ward, which is the second time I've had that calling in this ward. Also I don't like it, but whatever.

I've started to actually enjoy reading the Book of Mormon. Weird.

I've also started receiving notices about my ten year class reunion this May, which has me a bit freaked out. I need to hurry and do something with my life.

Anyway, that's my life this year. Obviously, other stuff happened, but that's what I'm going to look back and remember. Some happy, some sad. Mostly anti-climactic, I feel. Lots of build-up to something awful. Lots of fizzling out. But I also feel fresh hope on the horizon, like the first spring breeze. I'm happy, healthy, and I feel an energy I have missed for a while now. Things are going to move forward, whichever way that is from here.

Finally, a more philosophical note. Sometimes in this life, we are carried along. Sometimes we are led. Other times we are given directions, and have to walk about on our own. And sometimes we're merely released into the wild, to see which way we'll go. Our path is tortuous, and is meant to be. Usually, as we're coming around a bend, we make the mistake of thinking that in the direction in which we're currently headed lies our final destination. "That's where I'm headed," we think, "and so it must be where I'll end up." But the twists and turns are leading us somewhere unexpected. Coming up over a hill usually reveals only more hills. If your final destination were whatever you could see from here, you might as well stop right now, because that hill and this don't really differ so much. But we move forward based on the faith that beyond all the hills there is a beautiful blue lagoon, people waiting to greet us with drinks in hand, a peaceful end to the journey. So for now we trudge along and find beauty in what we have. We know that just because the road bends south toward the barren dessert, or north toward the frozen forest, it doesn't mean that that's where we're going to end our journey. Unless we stop walking halfway through....

If you zoom out far enough from the rainbow, you might see that it's just a sheen of oil leaking from under your broken-down '93 Ford Tempo, into a mucky puddle of stagnant water that has been ever growing these last six weeks of relentless dismal rain. That's when you squint your eyes and just look at the rainbow, and give thanks to God that He showed you this infinitesimal beauty in the midst of a vastly grey and dreary world.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankfulness III

Thanksgiving again, and here's my list:

Carrots (great in Jell-O)
My friends (including the best roommates a guy could ask for)
Costa Vida, Bajio, and Cafe Rio
An excellent job, doing things I love and actually care about
That I'm not as old as my family all thought I was this morning
Thanksgiving dinner with good people
That I punched a girl in the nose at work today, and totally got away with it.
That for the first time in my life, I have a car, a cell phone, a job, and a bank account all at once.
Beautiful sad music.
The stars, and that they shine here at any time of year.
Red maple trees.
My family, I guess, even after today's insult.
My mission
The ending of the harry potter series.
That it really hasn't snowed here yet.
Long-lost friends, found again
Utah (I never thought I'd say it either)
My ward. Seriously, I love those guys.
My computer and my mp3 player
Past parental indiscretions.
The movies, music, and games I got for Birthgiving (Gravy's term for half birthday half Thanksgiving)
The mighty ocean
The fact that there are still so many wonderful things to discover.
Ron Paul
My one dimple
The candle factory
As in years past, that I'm not an Eskimo (Though after having lived in Alaska, I really really mean it now).
Five-hour phone conversations in the middle of the night.
That I'll be starting school again in January.
Our movie we made, and everyone in it, and that the sequel will be done before too long.
The Holy Ghost.
My kind and off-beat bishop.
Tobler chocolate oranges.
IHOP and my favorite waiter
That I'm not a woman.
This whole amazing life.

I'm filled with a lot of love tonight. I'll see you.


Monday, November 19, 2007

America's Hundred Wost:

So while I was digging through my blog archives searching for the Thankfulness lists I'll be using when I post on my birthday, I came across the list I did entitled "America's 100 Best." I had a lot of fun listing my favorite two things from each of a hundred different categories I made up out of my mind. I liked it so much, I decided to make that list's antithesis. I now give you "America's Hundred Worst:"

1: Classical Composer: Debussy (Chopin)
2: Muppet: Elmo (Wayne)
3: Game Show: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (The Price is Right)
4: Vegetable: Capers (green beans)
5: Candy Bar: Take 5 (PB Maxx)
6: Sitcom: Everybody Loves Raymond (Wings)
7: Movie: Master of Disguise (The Miracle of Birth)
8: Food: Capers (lasagna)
9: Superhero: Spawn (Blade)
10: Number: 5,280 (pi)
11: Color: Grey (puce)
12: Foreign Country: The Philippines (Georgia)
13: Band: The All-American Rejects (Boy Meets Girl)
14: Smurf: Smurfette (Vanity)
15: Burger: Sonic (Wendy's)
16: Magazine: Maxim (The Watchtower)
17: Book: Haunted (Fascinating Womanhood)
18: Asian: The bad guy on Season 2 of Prisonbreak (Imelda Marcos)
19: Crime: Child Molestation (Police brutality)
20: Season: Spring (Winter)
21: Elvis Song: Blue Christmas (Jailhouse Rock)
22: Musical Instrument: Bagpipes (Slide Whistle)
23: Insect: Potato Bug (W.A.S.P.)
24: Spice Girl: Sporty (Scary)
25: Provo Location: BRG (the mall)
26: Stephen King Novel: Delores Claiborne (Cujo)
27: Restaurant: Los Hermanos (Red Lobster)
28: Place: Hell (Salt lake City)
29: Gem: Citrine (Amethyst)
30: Famous Lesbian: Rosie O'Donnell (K.T. Lang)
31: Video Game: Golden Eye (The Sims)
32: Comic Strip: For Better or for Worse (Ally Oop)
33: Letter: U (Y)
34: Bird: Stellar Jay (Crow)
35: Natural Disaster: Blizzard (Avalanche)
36: Mouse: Ratatouille (The Country Mouse)
37: Disease: Alzheimer's (Progeria)
38: Political Party: Republicans (Constitution Party)
39: Painting: Anything abstract (Jesus at the Well of Bethesda)
40: American Novel: Haunted (The Andromeda Strain)
41: Musical: Cats (Grease)
42: Tree: Really, how can you hate a tree? (Ficus)
43: Baseball Team: Tigers (Yankees)
44: Ice Cream Flavor: Peppermint (Peanut Butter)
45: Landmark: The St. Louis Arch (Hole in the Rock)
46: Merit Badge: Citizenship in the Nation (Fingerprinting)
47: Language: ASL (French)
48: Dinosaur: Plesiosaur (Brontosaurus)
49: Disney Movie: Mulan (The Aristocats)
50: Spice: Anise (tarragon)
51: TV Show: The O'Reilly Factor (Teletubbies)
52: Pet: Tarantula (Cat)
53: Female Vocalist: Janis Joplin (The Dixie Chicks)
54: Continent: Antarctica (Asia)
55: Cereal: Meuslix (Peanut Butter Crunch)
56: Fast Food: Taco del Mar (Pita Pit)
57: Weather: Snow (Sleet)
58: Hair Care Product: Shampoo that burns you (Aquanet)
59: President: W (Nixon)
60: Dr. Seuss Book: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (The Cat in the Hat Comes Back)
61: Word: Potential (funner)
62: Sexual Position: Haha just kidding again (Congress of the Crow)
63: Old Person: Lorelle in Alaska (My maternal grandfather, who's dead)
64: Harry Potter Character: Fenrir Greyback (Grawp)
65: Weapon: Guns (the A bomb)
66: Thing to Eat: Poop (Razor Blades)
67: Classic Rock Band: Rolling Stones (Heart)
68: Animal: Spiders (naked mole rats)
69: Fruit: Pumpkin (Gooseberry)
70: SNL Alum: Chris Farley (Will Ferrell)
71: Root Beer: Barq's (Dad's)
72: Curse Word: C Word (SH Word)
73: Flower: Broccoli (Rose)
74: Sport: Basketball (Lacrosse)
75: Greek God: Ares (Iris)
76: Board Game: Monopoly (Yatzee)
77: Beatles Song: Paperback Writer (Imagine)
78: Hymn: Come All ye Sons of God (I am a Child of God)
79: Jelly Belly: Cappuccino (Licorice)
80: Punctuation Mark: Slash (Ampersand)
81: Bone: Patella (T-12)
82: Car: Hearst (Oscar Meyer Weinermobile)
83: Soup: Clam Chowder (Cream of Shrimp)
84: Black: Will Smiff (Anita Hill)
85: Cologne: Anything in a bottle shaped like a pheasant (Axe)
86: Comedic Movie: Master of Disguise (Jackass)
87: Card Game: Slapjack (Egyptian Rat Screw)
88: Job: Janitor (Assistant Crack Whore)
89: Category So Far: Tree (Bone)
90: Holiday: Take your Daughter to Work Day (Veteran's Day)
91: Marsupial: 'Possum (Wombat)
92: Organ: Rectum (Nose)
93: Football Player: Terrell Owens (Bo Jackson)
94: Jam: Apricot pineapple (Mint)
95: Appliance: Cuisinart (Toaster)
96: Fish: Moray Eel (Great White)
97: Meat: Fish (Pate)
98: Soda: Grape (Anything Chilean)
99: Tool: Bone saw (auger)
100: Actress: Angelina Jolie (Mary Tyler Moore)

Monday, November 12, 2007


An original poem for this holiday season:

Cut down in the forest
Only a stump remaining
Dragged back home to Mom
Lower limbs trimmed away
Propped up
Dressed nicely
For all to see
Sapped of life
Adorned with ornaments
Filled with memories
Family gathered
Gifts given
Speeches made
Tribute paid
Then dried out
Hauled out
Left on the curb
Purpose served
The War Hero

Happy Veterans Day, everybody.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Scholarship Essays

Essay #1:
Please write a brief biographical sketch about yourself.
Limit your response to 300 words.

Mom had four boys by the time she turned 24. Dad worked awful hours in the stench of a tannery to support us and put himself through nursing school. She had joined the LDS church while living in foster homes; he was the youngest son of a single Mexican immigrant mother. Both ignited in their children a love of learning and virtue. Dad rid the house of its television, insisted his boys say “yes” instead of “yeah,” and taught us the names of every bone in the body. Mom ran a daycare from the modest duplex, took the kids on weekly educational fieldtrips, and shopped at garage sales for the best surprise we knew of: armfuls of used books.

As the oldest of the boys, I was the first to finish high school and serve an LDS mission. I served in the frozen southern reaches of Chile, learned Spanish quickly (thanks to Mom’s grammar lessons and Dad’s sangre Mexicano), and spent my mission loving and teaching the Chilean people. When I returned, I attended community college in Napa, California, then moved to Utah to attend BYU. I went to the beginning of a semester of BYU, but found I was financially unprepared and dropped out to earn some money first. I became a waiter, determined to follow Dad’s example by working hard and supporting myself. Within a year I had worked my way to the top of the restaurant’s hierarchy as general manager over two restaurants and almost two hundred employees.

The restaurant job was enjoyable, but my parents’ emphasis on education still burned within like an ember. Hence, I am applying again to BYU, hoping to get my English Language degree so that I might stoke the flame of my education and share its light with future generations.

Essay #2:
Please describe your educational, professional, and other goals. Describe how BYU
will help you achieve them. Limit your response to 300 words.

I have a slightly out-of-focus vision of my future. I’ll describe it to you the best I can. Of course, anything I write here is subject to unforeseeable change, but for now I’m working vigorously toward this vision.

In my future, I will attend BYU and receive a bachelor’s degree in English Language. During my time there I will find a virtuous and patient woman who will consent to marry me in the temple. I will take the appropriate classes to make myself eligible for consideration as an employee for the Church Education System. I will proceed to teach seminary or high school and get my master’s degree in something Englishy. Then I’ll teach Institute, and eventually get my doctorate. Along the way, I plan to continue in my hobby of writing fiction and screenplays. I believe I can work happily for a time as a writer of uplifting, educational, and entertaining programming for television.

Meanwhile, my wife will be bearing (or adopting) many children, and she’ll stay home from the workplace to raise them. It will be a home with plenty of books and education and love. We will live somewhere between San Francisco and Seattle. My wife and I will both serve in a wide variety of church callings, and will dedicate ourselves to living the gospel and teaching it to our children. Eventually I will teach English or linguistics classes at a University. My wife and I will die happy and old. We will have made significant contributions to education. We will have built up the church in our area and raised happy, interesting children. We will not have forgotten that it was at BYU that we first met, and where we began our commitment to learning and higher education.

Or I could go to UVSC, marry a woman with a nose ring and pink hair, get my degree in waste management, and manage a dump in Nevada where I have to work Sundays and my wife has to get a job to supplement my meager income at a convenience store where she meets a flashy man with a motorcycle for whom she eventually leaves me.

(OK, I didn't really put in that last paragraph)

Essay #3:
Please list and/or describe your participation and leadership during the last three
years in extracurricular activities, including performance groups, athletics, cultural
and civic clubs, and church and community service. Limit your response to 300 words.

I am always involved in some project or other. Most recently, I have written, directed, and acted in a series of short films that my roommates and I have been working on, mostly for fun, but also to have in our portfolios. A few years ago, I was a writer for BYU’s Hundred Hour Board—an exclusive question and answer forum that provides answers to students’ questions and allows its answerers to write creatively and do important research—though I wasn’t yet an official BYU student. I enjoy projects where I can write and be creative.

I also find occasion to perform meaningful service through my church callings. During the past few years I have been able to serve as a Family Home Evening group leader, Family Home Evening committee chair, and Sunday School president. These callings have given me the opportunity to plan dinners and activities for groups of 150 students, to prepare spiritual lessons, and to work with and organize the efforts of a variety of different people. I have also used these opportunities to effect service for the greater community, by organizing canned food drives for the needy and starting an annual Christmas toy drive for the children at a local battered women’s shelter.

I love music, and have been a member of Latter-Day Sounds, a traveling fireside choir that shares its testimony through uplifting spiritual music. I was also a member of the choir that performed Rob Gardner’s Joseph Smith the Prophet in Salt Lake City last year.

My employment has given me the opportunity to work with many people who are immigrants from Latin-American countries, and I have made audiotapes and taught lessons to help these wonderful people become proficient in English and learn enough about U.S. history to be able to pass their citizenship tests.

Friday, September 28, 2007


“We can’t have you in here with the other girls.”

The other girls shift skittishly, sensing the storm on the horizon.

Ursula sits on her haunches on the chair of her desk with her muscular brown arms folded on top of her black ashy knees, her back pressed uncomfortably against the bars on the window, her forehead and eyes pointed at us as though pure rage might explode out at us. Her neck swivels menacingly; the vituperation continues as the staff members warily close in. “Bitch! I don’t need your fat-ass face in my face! You want something in your face, go get another cheeseburger!” To another: “Just come at me! I’ll rip your titties off!” To the nurse: “You! Black girl! I’ll kill your baby!” The nurse takes a step backward and sideways, trying to shield herself behind some wall or counter or piece of furniture she wishes were there, letting her hands flutter like birds around her distended belly in their search for the most protective place to alight.

“We need you to walk into Investment.”

The girl has become rigid, barely moving. Her breath is an ursine growl. The last thing she says is “You’ll have to take me. And I promise it will be Prob. Lems.” She punctuates each syllable of that final word with another around-the-world sway of her neck. Her eyes lose their focus, and a roar, guttural and startling, emanates from between her clenched teeth and angrily parted lips.

“Get the other girls out of here.”

The other girls leave their desks, their pens, everything. They funnel through the door in an ovine panic, following the staff to safety. They get jammed in the doorway, rammed into each other in their attempts to simultaneously leave quickly to escape harm and linger to witness the melee. A wispy girl, Rachel, is pushed, misses the doorway, and gets hit in her clean teeth by the wall-mounted pencil sharpener. She is swallowed up by the stampede, bleeding slightly from the corner of her mouth, led down the hall, and into a new classroom. The nurse looks sternly at all of them as she pauses pregnantly, then closes the door and gives them new pens. They strain to hear, quiet for the first time all day. The first sentence they can make out is:

“You have until the count of three to walk on your own. You are going either way.”

The men of the staff close the circle on the animal, hands forward, shuffling apprehensively. It bares its teeth, growls and screams.


Its painted claws clatter dangerously on the desktop.


Saliva pools on its lips.


Two men advance, each grabbing a wrist and a shoulder. The moment it is touched, the animal begins to thrash truculently, kicking, gnashing, jerking its strong arms in an attempt to knock the men off balance. They pull it off of the desk, away from the wall, and two of the women grasp at the flailing legs. It bends at the knees, the hips, the neck, trying to free itself. In a surprising move, it yanks its hand inward instead of out toward the attackers, and is able to catch the back of a man’s manacling hand in its teeth.

“She’s biting me!” he caterwauls madly. Several pairs of hands grasp at its nappy head, its strong jaws. The man doesn’t let go of its arm, though fangs are piercing his skin. Blood vessels are mashed between gnashing teeth and the bones in the back of the hand, causing an instant black and purple ring to shine through. He finally manages to pull the hand away, leaving a bite-sized roll of scraped skin in its mouth. It continues to spasm and scream, shaking its head from side to side in order to drench them all in its slobber. They rustle it into Investment, down to the cold pavement floor, and nimble fingers remove its shoes and belt. The nurse reappears with a hypodermic and doctor’s orders. Heavy hands hold its hips and thighs and head. A flash of brown fleshy buttocks lasts just long enough for the injection. They wait.

After a few minutes, the struggling has stopped. The man with the bloody hand has gone to watch the other girls, a wad of paper towels pressed to the wound. The thin girl, Rachel, shaken and jealous, raises a malnourished arm like a tentative twig growing in time lapse. “May I break chair structure and come ask you a question?” she asks sheepishly. He nods his assent, eyes still on the smashed plum that is the back of his hand. The closeness of her small voice seconds later startles him. “I need to isolate. I feel like I’m going to explode.”

“Sit there in the chair in the hallway, facing the wall, and stay where I can see you,” he instructs impassively. Every other hand in the classroom erupts into the air, each straining to peak above the others. A few girls blurt out. “But!” “Me too!” “I can’t!” The man’s glare successfully conveys his unwillingness to tolerate nonsense this day. Most of the hands have sagged back down even before he says, “We’ve all just been through something stressful. Nobody is in trouble here. Please stay on task. You can’t all isolate at once. Rachel, write me a Feelings Paper and come back to your desk.” They settle back into the work of eavesdropping on whatever might be happening in Investment.

“I think we’re okay to let her go and back out of the room.”

They stand up and start slowly for the door. Without warning, it wheels up and around, punches the heavy-set woman in the face, aims a clumsy kick at a man’s knees. The woman throws her hands to her face. The man pulls the knee to his chest, swearing on one leg. There are still enough of them to grab it again and get it into a submissive position. This time they let it go and bolt for the door, which they close. They can hear it growling and panting, slamming its bulk against the other side of the heavy door. The long string of invective resumes. They exchange glances, wishing they could be anywhere else. Anywhere calmer.

“Rachel. It’s been five minutes. You need to rejoin these girls or face a Natural Consequence.” His voice carries out to her in the hallway, but she pretends not to hear. “Rachel!” he says, not more loudly, but more emphatically. She turns her head, and he sees the wet tears on her face and in the chopped bangs that she parts by pushing them to either side of her plastic-rimmed glasses.

“I did it again,” she bleats.

“What did you do?” he asks, as he cautiously stands up.

“I self-harmed,” comes the pathetic response. As he comes around, he sees the electrical outlet on the wall. She has ripped the face off of it, and a shard of the hard plastic is clutched in her slender right fist. He sees the red viscous droplets on the edge of the weapon, continues around her and sees the bright poison red spreading all across her left forearm, seeping out of a six-inch cherry-pie gash in her pale skin, soaking darkly into the leg of her sweat pants, making sticky scarlet elbow prints on the chair. He cries out in alarm, then grabs for his radio. “Code Nine in Classroom Four!”

The ensuing commotion of staff members and radios and paramedics and craning girls is enough to drown out the commotion the beast is making a few rooms down by banging its head against the door until it tires itself out. “I hope you know what you are responsible for today,” comes the bitter voice of the fat staff lady through the little hole in the door of the animal’s cage. Her voice is muffled a bit by the bag of ice she is holding up to one side of her face. “A lot of good people have been hurt trying to help you, but do you care? No. I hope they press charges. I don’t get paid enough to deal with you.” But the animal doesn’t hear her, and really doesn’t care, and sleeps through the rest of the afternoon’s events.

It sleeps through the fat lady’s attempts to sting it with guilt, in order to assuage her own guilt about her size. It sleeps through a man’s testimony to the police as he gingerly favors one knee. Through the police officers’ assurances that the school won’t have to deal with this one anymore, because she’ll spend some time in Juvie and then she’ll be back to her mother’s, if she’s out of prison herself by then; after all, no other school is going to take her after this one. It sleeps through a frail girl getting stitches up her arm and a reward of all the attention she has been craving today. It sleeps through a nurse’s phone call to her supervisor, saying that she just had to get away, and that she might not come back at all, at least not until the baby comes. It sleeps through the gossip that spreads through the school, and its own elevated status as another rebel who showed the staff what was what. “Oh, I bit a staff member once,” they brag and lie. It sleeps through that, too.

It sleeps through a man’s sobs. The man has pulled over to the side of the road, just as the clouds mockingly burst. He wipes the tears off his glasses on his tee shirt with a bandaged hand, amazed by the catharsis that begins to spread through him. But still he sobs and sobs, for himself, for the girls, for the world, forehead on forearms on the steering wheel. The hail bangs unfeelingly against the roof of his battered old car.

Soon, the animal will be returned to the wild. “Untameable,” they’ll say.

God damn the bastards who raped that little girl.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


So instead of wasting my time typing up all of our fun adventures from our trip to Los Angeles, I thought I would just copy and paste everything Veronica said, and just add my own comments in there in brackets. She did take copious notes, after all. Here they are:

It would be impossible to detail the happenings of this epic trip with any sort of literary distinction. However, I will tell you that it was quite mighty, and will no doubt live on in infamy for many weeks, if not months to come.

That said, I will now whet your appetite with brief snippets of what actually happened, and leave you tantalized, to wonder what these things really mean.

Tuesday, 6:00am. Wasn't sure what was happening until I realized that I was talking to Evan on the phone, and I had probably fallen asleep whilst packing.

7-or 8 something am: Robbie schools me at BOMB, but I will eventually exact much revenge and carnage upon him later.

Hang on, wait. I can't find Tuesday in my notes...

Lots of mention has to go out to Evan's hilarious impressions of the Conchords.

Oh, okay here it is--the all awaited summary of Tuesday night, as copied verbatim from my notes:

(Disclaimer: as one of the favorite recurring quotes of this week has been "That's Racist!" prepare yourself, if you're in any way delicate.)

(Dialogue follows Robbie as he shuffles down the street in his best impression of an Asian tourist, several of which we had just seen)
V: "Are you flexing your butt, Robbie?"
R: "No, it just looks like that."
E:(totally out of nowhere) "That's the Grand Illusion."

Other Tues happenings...

While driving haplessly down the 10, almost got smooshed by an inconsiderate Semi Truck. Has anyone noticed? Why is it always the psycho drivers who DON'T have the "How's my driving? 1-866-TELLUSOK" signs? I ask you.

Ooh, here's a fun one. After our departure, at our first stop in Las Vegas (in the GHETTO of LV) [in 100+ temperatures] we noticed that the car would NOT start. Broken battery. So, for EVERY time we turned the car off for anything on the way down to LA, we had to find helpful citizens who would rescue us with an electric charge. I used my Oliver Twist face whenever possible.
Twice though, (or was it thrice?) [thrice] we were rejected, and some of the best excuses I've ever heard were given. Such as,
"Oh, this car doesn't do that." said the rich snobby guy as he and his dearest, "Muffy", stepped out of the Lesabre.
"I can't help you. This is the company car." said other unhelpful corporate type man.
[The third was "sorry, dude, but this is a bicycle." Ha, no. Not true. The third was that they were "really late."]
All I have to say about that encounter is God Bless Canada.

Wednesday. I'm glossing over some stuff because I'm tired and can't remember everything.

We ate lunch in the same Chinese restaurant where they filmed Rush Hour. Cheapest food EVER.

Surprisingly, considering my dislike of the general populace as a whole, Chinatown was my favorite part of our meanderings that day. (Just kidding. That's racist!)

Things I noticed:
One, I had way more fun standing in the footsteps of the guys, because Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe ALL had midget feet and made me feel like a freak of some kind.
Danny Kaye, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Nicholas Cage were all very humble in the signing of their names. But their feet were huge.
Matt Damon has freakishly tiny hands.
I couldn't find Mark Wahlberg anywhere, but it was probably for the best. If I had been able to, there would probably be some very embarrassing pictures of me trying to cuddle with that particular slab of concrete.

Other observations from the Walk of Fame:
Several guys playing bagpipes for money, although I think they could've gotten more if they had a sign saying "We'll stop for cash."
6.5 foot Diva/Drag Queen dressed as some kind of demonic creature gave me a "Ummmhmmm". Not really sure, but I'll take that as a compliment.
Saw Darth Vader with his helmet up, and was surprised to find out that he's actually Latino, and doesn't look like James Earl Jones at all.
Robbie finally found the star for Cuba Gooding Jr., and was at peace with life.
Stupid Musketeer wannabe [and Supergirl] forced us to take picture, and then demanded tip. We didn't even want one with him anyway. I would've just deleted the digital photo and been like, "No harm, no foul."
Homeless man on Hollywood and Vine held sign that read "I bet you a dollar that you read this sign." I REALLY wished I had a dollar to give him, cause that's what I call creativity.
Also discovered that Batman is actually a Mormon, after taking in evidence of G-lines under the Batsuit.


Standing in line for WICKED TICKETS:

Didn't win the lottery again, second night in a row. Convinced it was my fault, bad karma from not giving that guy a dollar.

"I heart transvestites." [No recollection of all of what that is referring to. That's racist]

R: [Peering through the crack of the door] "Hey, I can see the stage!"
S: "No, you can't."
R: "No wait, I can see a poster of the stage!"

Evan: "I hate Argyle. If it were up to me, we'd bomb Argyle."

Random, I don't know where this goes.

The Labrea Tar Pits: (White Trash Day)

S: "The tarpit has tasted Robbie, and it desires him."
E: "I like the thought of it being a living thing. And it's gonna HUNT YOU DOWN."
S: "I bet that tarpit gets bored with that same ol same ol...gazelle carcass and giant sloth pelvis."

Rubbing Elbows with Famous People conversation.

E: "I didn't talk to him. But I saw him through the glass and I said, : ' O."


Whole morning at Venice Beach. Also part of afternoon. Read the entire book Twilight. I LOVE the beach for this reason.

Robbie has a big mouth. Enough said. [Veronica was too busy menstruating to swim].

Wicked was the single most pivotal moment of my life. It marked the first time I have ever fervently wished to be a mythical creature, and practice the dark arts. And to be green.


R: "Isn't it funny that we're going to a place called Fuller to fill up our gas?"
...Ten seconds later...
V: "Isn't it funny how the town is called Fuller, and we're getting gas here?"
R: "I just said that."
V: "I know. I was quoting you."
R: (WTF look)
V: "It doesn't matter when you said it. A quote can be resaid anytime."
E: "Yeah. Like my good friend Ronny once said, a quote can be resaid anytime."

I still think that John Lithgow was in Bill and Ted's SOMEWHERE. [He's not]

Until next time, kids! I don't know why I've been on this irreverent streak lately. I'll post something in a more serious tone next time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What I Did In Church On Sunday

People are always asking me why I'm afraid of midgets. Well, here's the definitive answer, in storybook form. It's a definite departure from my norm. I offer this flotsam up in the wake of my last post's political incorrectness:

Man, I don't know what's wrong with me. The last thing I need is to be haunted by a midget ghost. I hope you enjoyed this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Further dashing my hopes that I may someday live a “normal” life, Ty Mansfield (King of the Gay Mormons) called me the other day (to proposition me, he said; I told him I was going to tell the internet). Apparently the leaders of the Navajo Nation wanted to meet with us the next day because they are trying to restructure their government and need to know what to do with the 2005 law they passed stating that marriage is only between a man and a woman. So we went.

I must say I was pretty nervous. I may have been mistaken for an Indian in the past, but I’m not one, and I had no idea what sort of cultural barriers I might run into. Do you shake hands? Or do you just raise your palm and say “How?” Is “Navajo” plural? Is it offensive? Was there any way I could score some Navajo tacos out of this deal? Was I going to have to smoke something? Did thinking about these questions automatically make me unqualified to help them?

So the next afternoon I texted Ty “What are you wearing?” which cracks me up. He didn’t answer in time for me to change my own outfit, so I showed up in a nice shirt and tie, and he showed up in the standard shorts and polo. Oh, well. I don’t mind being overdressed. Plus at least I didn’t go with my first thought, which was this: “Hmmm, it should be something part Indian. What do they wear? Feathers? And then something part gay… A feather boa! Perfect!” Really, all you gay Indians out there, if you want to start building understanding and tolerance in your community, you probably need to start building your outfits around the feather boa. I think snakes are even sacred to your people anyway. Wasn’t your Quetzalcoatl god a feathered serpent? It’s a good thing the American Indians have me to sort out their complex social issues for them.

So we showed up and Ty apologized for what he was wearing, probably mostly to make me feel more at ease, because the nicest any of the Navajos was dressed was a bolo tie, which I felt was a little stereotypical. The obvious leader of the group was an elderly man who had served as Supreme Court Justice in the Navajo Supreme Court for 13 years. The rest were aides or interns or something, but their opinions seemed to matter. They asked question after question for an hour and a half, and we answered them all. Each of the men seemed to have his own individual agenda, to which our words were constantly twisted. The whole meeting seemed a large balancing act, paring away what I didn’t believe, some from this side, then some from that side, until we got to the core of it.

Here are some things that I gathered that seem to matter to the Indians:

Their government and laws (they have their own constitution that does not fall under the U.S. constitution) have grown inorganically, mirroring our constitution. A push is being made to return their government to its traditional setup, with spiritual leaders called “medicine men” at the head. A problem with this is that the medicine men’s treatment of early signs of homosexuality is to send the person into the desert for nine days. That’s a long time.

The Navajos have not ever had a case of two of their citizens of the same sex trying to marry. They view the law as moot, built to reflect the current political trends in the U.S. At the same time, they worry that such a law only engenders prejudice, and would not want the laws they have set up acting as the catalysts for hatred.

Many fear that the Navajo people have forgotten their roots and rich heritage. According to the leader, gays were traditionally treated with much respeck (that's a Navajo word they taught me that means "respect"). “Just like you would treat a firstborn son or twins with respeck,” he said to me, which I felt was the sentence which most clearly pulled back the curtain on the differences between our cultures and mindsets. We learned that that mindset had changed over the last hundred years, as conservative U.S. values have seeped into their community, and that several of the current leaders among the Navajos have begun to accept those values as a part of the Navajo historic heritage (the same thing exactly has happened among the Mormons; we're forgetting that our church membership wasn't always aligned with the Republican Party).

The Navajos also don’t wish to make a homosexual person feel that he or she must necessarily live a homosexual lifestyle just because he or she feels homosexual desires. Their first law is respeck for all people. They also seem heavy on the “live and let live” policy, for which they have another special Navajo word they taught us that I don’t remember.

Now, here are some points that I made during the meeting:

First, they may have never had a case of two Navajos of the same sex trying to get married, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It’s the same with Utah: I can’t imagine wanting to live in Utah if I were trying to live in a gay marriage and adopt children and all. There are better places for that. But that doesn’t mean our law is moot. There are activists out there who would try to get married in Utah specifically to challenge our laws. And the fact that we have a law set up means that we already know in advance how we are going to deal with that when the time comes. I told the Indians that their nation would probably someday come to a similar point, where their laws are being tested not from within, but by a movement from the U.S. that aims to challenge their beliefs. Inorganic laws can serve as a good preemptive defense against inorganic activism.

Next, I told them about the changes we helped effect in the BYU Honor Code, and how the most important part to me was that it now specifically states that a person can be open about his sexuality. Homosexual behavior is still not allowed, but the new wording prevents the problem of the rule itself fostering anti-gay feelings. In this way, the law takes responsibility for itself.

Furthermore, I said, I would never want to coerce someone into living what I believe. I also would not want to push someone into living the opposite of what I believe. What I would rather do is clear the way before them and let them choose their own path (that’s how Navajos talk, right?). I gave the example of the teenage boy who went and got a tattoo without asking for parental permission, an action which was clearly against his family’s values. His family, however, maintained the attitude, “oh just let him do whatever he wants.” The flaw in that thinking is evident when one takes the teenager’s actions to the next level. What if what he wants is to do drugs? I told those Navajos that it’s fine to let people make their own decisions, but that doesn’t mean that at any point we stop teaching them our values and spiritual traditions, and that we have a responsibility to those over whom we have a charge to help them make good decisions, as well.

I don’t know how much anything we said actually reached them, or whether they’ll be able to communicate any of it back to their government in any useful way, but I felt that the meeting went very well.

After the meeting, we talked to one of the aides, who, it turns out, is Navajo and Mormon and a closeted homosexual. Yikes! Sucks to be him. He is working in his government right now, trying to bring about social change, which is the reason he can’t come out. He’d lose his job. It was really neat to talk to someone who was fighting the same fight, but on a different battlefield. My prayers are with that kid. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to mix three different clashing cultures in one life. I hope he writes a book.

Anyway, I do have one regret from the meeting. It’s that probably if I had just remembered to bring some firewater and beads to the meeting, I could right now own a LOT of Arizona. Yeah, but who wants it anyway, right? I mean... right?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Freudian Slip

Well, I'm in Washington. I'll be back Monday night, latish. So, I don't have much time right now, so I figured I'd just post another poem that I have saved in my drafts for just such a time. Enjoy. I'm still working out the ending.

Freudian Slip

There WAS no summer.
We sat high on the edge of the spring, bored,
waiting for the inevitable fall.
She eyed me a little,
owed me a lot;
I let her.
She had a strange piece of mind
wedged in her smile,
leaves left
tangled in her sloppy hair
the brush struck and stuck
in the tangles and tendrils.
"So knotty today," she sighed, coil-ly

In a matter of secs,
the fall came.
We slipped.
The hole whirled past us,
the whole world passed us,
lightning fright'ning away
foreign twenty blackbirds,
rousted from their roost.

...And now here we are together in a moment of calm...
...The you and I of the storm....

Then it's upon us again, the sky
rains on the back of my neck, and a bit in my mouth.
The weight of it all; I'm lead.
Then, nothing.
I am her fading crush;
Her fading crushes me.

p.s. If you have a few minutes (which you obviously do if you're reading blogs) go read Evan's blog. He's hilarious, and I think his writing style is similar to mine, with the feeling that he's just talking directly to you, and the fact that he seems to interrupt himself all the time.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Other Thoughts

K, here's a poem I wrote a while back. The last line is something odd that someone odd actually said to me, and the rest of the poem grew out of there. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think this might be about. I am wondering if it's clear enough.

Have to find something else to think about

That man has a hook arm

Metal, impenetrable arms

Wait—How does he pick his nose?

Dead fish in the marketplace, grey, cold, dead

Almost out of money; have to return to work soon

Razor blade, poisonous, keen

Where are my house keys!?

Okay, they're in my pocket

I can’t do this

No drinking fountain on this damned bus

Blood, worms, dust

Forever unused bottles of nail polish and perfume

Our little bridge over the Napa River going by

A stop, and there goes Captain Hook

More Mexicans get on

The barren future

Getting sleepy

My headrest is gone


Awake again

Where are we!?

Downtown, all the people, moving, unmoved

So thirsty, always now

Foamy, spongy food; all I get anymore

Is that Tina Davidson? Has she heard?

Just look away--Can she see?

Uncomfortable bench, no seatbelts

Rusted, sinking nobody

Mouth dry, needing kisses

Have to pee, have to hold it

Always, always, have to hold the liquids in

Time to clip my nails again; no reminder

Last month is swallowing me

Train of thought slipping


Quickly, anything else

Scientific advances within the last hundred years

(not ENOUGH!)

Mom's meatballs

A kitten, and fleas sucking the life out of it

Frowning Arabian crossing guard, sweaty

Should have seen the signs


A bit ill; no more corn flakes at home

Chuck's baptism, creepy, necessary?

Guy across the aisle looks like a turtle, wizened

Cracking world made of solid ice

A bell, a light, a lurch!

Now down the stairs, left, right, left

Yellowing, lumpy mayonnaise spilt on the counter last night

No one to clean it up

No one to clean it up for

Cold, insensitive smiley faces, like stars

Distorted by the atmosphere, rushing blindly past

Gamma rays on my head, hungrily biting my face and neck

Raining that day, not like today

Powdered misery, just add water

Shouldn't have eaten those microwaveable nachos for breakfast

Pushing the pavement with my feet

Should have learned to cook for myself


Have to let go

I waste too much time

What does despair taste like? Does it taste ugly?

Gouging blade in a dying wrist

Spiral checkerboard in my eyelids, hell

Here at last; the grass looks nice, green

Need to call Mom back

The empty spot of ceiling over our bed

Linoleum composure, easily wiped off

No one to clean it up for, either

How sad the caretaker woman must feel, no teeth

All her friends deep in plots against her

How do you spell resolution? How do you do it?

My shadow is being midgety right now

Falling across the erect slabs of marble

I can’t help but step on him, on you

Veins pumping black tarry sadness

Here I am, here.

Can't ever make some people happy

But I still bring flowers


I only think of you when I run out of other thoughts

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Media Recommendations

I've seen some great movies and read some great books recently. Just thought I'd report here. Movies first:

Transformers: surprisingly good! I expected a lot of rubbish with some familiar old characters, and I was hardly prepared for this delightful adventure. The writing was incredible! Of special note was the main character's mother, whom I found to be hilarious. Evan and I went to see this one twice.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: This movie was much better than the bloated, depressing book from which its script was adapted. I don't know why, but I got very excited at the end with the battle between the forces of light and dark, and also by the editing in the final battle between Harry and Voldemort that takes place in Harry's mind.

Hairspray: The music in this movie was inspiring. The entire cast displayed an enormous talent, the message was timely and important, and it avoided slipping into the dubious Hollywood morality. It has a fluffy exterior, but underneath it is an important movie that everyone should see.

Ok, I know all three of those movies aren't supposed to be very deep, and they won't win a Best Picture Oscar, but they all were very well done. Much better than your average summer blockbuster fare. I wouldn't be mentioning them here had I not been so favorably impressed. Books next:

The Poisonwood Bible: Sadly, I don't have many people left to whom I can recommend this book, since I seem to be the last one to discover it. I was very impressed with Kingsolver's daring experimentation with voice. The book was shocking, heart wrenching, and didactic. It tells the story of a preacher and his wife and four daughters who travel to the Congo in the 50's as missionaries, and each chapter is told by either the wife or one of the four daughters. Each has a very distinct perspective and voice. Eldest daughter Rachel is skeptical and aloof, and inadvertently uses humorous malapropisms, all the while providing a metaphor for the average American's refusal to see what the United States was doing to the Congo. The twins are next, with Rachel speaking in lofty and idealistic tones, and we follow her down a path of disillusionment that ends in a harsh but crucial place. The other twin, Adah, has suffered brain damage and is literal and belligerent, writing in palindromes and wordplays and making deep, resounding metaphorical connections between the family and the African nation. Youngest daughter Ruth May is optimistic and naive, her imaginative and uneducated voice being used to illustrate otherwise hidden dangers in a tone heavy with dramatic irony. The mother speaks from many years later, with a deep melancholy and richly wise hindsight, all proffered in a dizzyingly poetic style. It's an absolute joy to read this novel, which begins as a story about the one family, but by the end has drawn all of the Congo under its scope.

Cloud Atlas: I don't know what inspired me to pick this up, but I was looking for something that was as much fun and experimentation as The Poisonwood Bible, and I found that in Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas opens with a man named Adam Ewing presenting us with his 1849 journal, using an old-fashioned English where words are spelled however they sound. Right in the middle of one of his adventures, indeed, in the middle of one of his sentences, his story comes to an abrupt end and we are introduced to Robert Frobisher, a gifted musician with an uninhibited sex life and a knack for getting himself into and talking his way out of trouble, all told through a series of letters to a former lover, which employ shorthand, often leaving out the subjects of sentences and abbreviating important words and names. Before reaching any resolution there, we begin "Half-lives: The First Luisa Rey Novel," which is a story corporate intrigue set in the 1970's. In the middle of that story, we begin to read a hilarious memoir of a publisher named Timothy Cavendish, whose misadventures are told in Cockney slang. Then we're on to the science-fiction story of Onmi 451 clone designed to feed people in a restaurant in Korea in the near future. This is presented in interview form, and the language of the future has been truncated and streamlined, so we end up with words like "xpect" and "fritened." This character's confused perspective matches ours, and as the world becomes clearer to her, so the story does to us. Finally, we begin the story of a post-apocalyptic people whose language is only in spoken form, and who long for relics of the once-civilized world. The language in this section is the most bizarre of all, representing an English corrupted by hundreds of years of benighted thinking. At this point in the novel, the story turns around, and goes back through all of the stories we've already read, finishing them off and answering our questions. What is strange is that each main character seems to be in possession of the previous sections of the book (an idea I've long considered for a book idea I've been working on), and each main character seems to be the same soul, reincarnated over and over throughout time. It builds to a neat climax several times, and astonishingly, only when you reach the end of the book do you realize the overarching themes that were surely present the whole time. Full of self-allusion and tricky, sparkling wordplay, this novel also punches out an important moral about power and greed and living as a part of a society, and how an individual's downfall will be the same as a civilization’s downfall if the citizens don't keep their pride in check. It's really astonishing, and I recommend this enjoyable read to anyone who loves language.

Finally, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Yes, this is the end of the Harry Potter series, and J.K. Rowling did it exactly right. I don't want to post any spoilers here, and I don't feel I need to explain what the book is about (who doesn't know at this point, right?), but I do want to say that this was very much the most moral and important book in the series, with lessons about sacrifice and loss and friendship and forgiveness. It was also more honest than the other books, with well-established "good" characters coming under new scrutiny (Dumbledore, Sirius, Lupin, etc.) and "bad characters finally getting a chance to bask in a more positive light (Snape, the Dursleys, the Malfoys, Wormtail, etc.). The characters all became much more detailed and richer. The questions were all answered in a very appropriate and sometimes unexpected way. And I felt the action sequences were more enjoyable than ever, primarily because so much happens, and secondarily because more is at stake. No fewer than seven good characters from previous books die in this one, which is hard to take, but makes Harry's struggle all the more important. If you haven't read the Harry Potter books, I strongly recommend them. They are very life-affirming and humorous and warm, and above all, remarkably well plotted. I know everybody has probably already told you, but they are not just kids' books. They are human books

Well, kids, that's it for today. I just learned about Google Feed Reader, which might change the way I do things on the Internet, and I recommend you check it out. Especially because I update this blog so unreliably, and this will automatically inform you whenever I do. Okay bye.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The First Thing I'm Going to Do When Evan and I Get Back!

Go tubing down the Provo River!

Go to Zupa’s with Kaylene!

Go stargazing!

Finish watching Heroes with Ben!

Go to outdoor movie night at Sundance!

Go camping all around Utah!

Go to IHOP in the middle of the night!

Go to a baseball game and watch fireworks with Caitie and Janeen and co.!

Edit our movies!

Get a car, a job, and pay my debts to the Po-lice.

Eat at Bombay House!

Watch the season finale of Lost!

Go swimming whenever I want!

Other craziness!

Everyone's welcome!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Rude Awakening and a Golden Moment

Despite the causticity of my previous post, the days of drudgery have been interspersed with life-affirming moments. One of those I feel acutely this morning (afternoon? There is no “time of day” here). This post will probably erode instantly into abstraction, which might effect a fine juxtaposition when coupled with the minutiae of the last post. This one’s more about my feelings, a topic about which I have much less writing experience. Deep breath.

I’ve never really liked myself. I can see all the things that other people like about me, sure, but I can see all the other things as well. Now don’t worry, folks, this isn’t some sort of suicide note. I’ve actually never had suicidal thoughts. I don’t hate or pity myself; I just find that I usually prefer other people. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s amusing but insubstantial to have around. If life were a TV show, I’d be the wacky neighbor, popping in and out randomly, leaving people shaking their heads affectionately. “That Robbie!” they’d all intone upon my departure, turning to clean up whatever mess I’ve made and return to their normal lives.

Now, for all of my preaching about not basing one’s sense of self on the opinions of others, that’s exactly what I do. One of my greatest strengths is my adaptability. I feel very natural taking on the characteristics of those in my vicinity. Many people would see this as “fake.” But it’s something else with me. I simply admire the people I choose to have around me, and genuinely want to be more like them. This is especially true of my closest friends. People like Caitie, Evan , and Glade are so amazing to me, that I start to try to emulate them and soon forget who I am besides a patchwork of them. This would probably be fine if a) it weren’t a bit unsettling to the people I’m Single-White Female-ing, and b) I hadn’t realized that I’m doing this when I woke up this aftermorn.

At this current crossroads in my life, I have many forks in the not-too-distant future. Do I buy a car? Do I go back to school in September? What job should I get? This sort of thing normally stresses me out, and I find myself wishing for some sort of Life Consultant who could look at my monetary situation, my dreams and aspirations, my whole life, and tell me what to do next. And sure, it’s obvious to YOU, the reader, that that person should be God, especially when I go and capitalize “life Consultant” like that. But when you’re IN that life, it’s a little more difficult to constantly remember that. And so I find myself trying to weasel my friends’ opinions out of them, since these issues overwhelm me. I really do operate with a whole support system made up of people whose opinions I value more than my own. But if I take a couple of steps back, I see that I’m an adult, just like my friends, and I DO have a relationship with God, and while I love my friends and would do anything for them, and trust they would do anything for me, I need to be functional enough that if those friends were to suddenly go away, I’d be sure to remain stable. I’m not far off from that already, and I’m not talking about severing my attachments to my friends, but I’m talking about giving them breathing room. Letting them love me for who I am instead of how well I can emulate them. I still want to cultivate the best things I see in these people. Caitie’s ability to make everyone around her feel loved. Glade’s scrutinizing and analytical mind. Evan’s solidarity in doing only those things in which he believes. Ben’s refusal to back down from a deep-felt conviction. Kaylene’s expression of gratitude and excitement about life. Wiggle’s unflagging loyalty toward her friends. Rachel’s graceful compassion for those in need. Brett’s ability to find humor in any situation. Jon and Sara’s utter faith in the people they love. And this list goes on, with more people and more traits from the folks I’ve mentioned. What I don’t need is to adopt, say, Caitie’s taste in music, Evan’s choice in schools, Glade’s political stances, etc. Not that I disagree with any of these things. This is the fine point above which I’m hovering: I can love these people without desiring to be just like them or have them be just like me. The things that are right for me are not necessarily right for them too, and I can love that Ben loves computers without having to love computers, too.

An example, in the form of an initially seemingly unrelated story, which I hope you find funnier than offensive:

A Rude Awakening

One day I was mistakenly quarantined on the train. I’d vomited, you see, which is pretty normal for me, but scary in the tourism industry because of something called the Norwalk Virus, which they had to be sure I hadn’t contracted before letting me continue to serve food to the crustomers. Normally there are no witnesses when I puke at work, and I just go about my day as usual afterward. This instance was different, though. As I felt the glands under my jow throbbing, and knew my lunch of pasta primavera was about to force itself back out of my digestive system, I ran for the bathroom and threw the door open. There was Kate, the car manager, wearing gloves and a smile on her face. “I JUST finished cleaning the bathroom!“ she exclaimed proudly.”

“Oh!” I tried to make my panic look like enthusiasm.

“I cleaned out the toilets, took out the trash, wiped up the whole floor--”

That’s when I puked (mostly) into the trashcan. I swear it was exactly like that. In one ghastly second, her pride at having accomplished something unpleasant was squashed. Poor lady; she’s very nice.

So they put me on a car that had no passengers on it, and I promptly fell asleep. I was awakened to a bizarrely surreal experience.

A portly bald black man in his late thirties was shouting. “Boy, it is NICE up in here!” He took a seat across the aisle from me as I sat up, stunned and a bit unnerved. And then he started to tell me his story. He was the manager of the cars for Royal Celebrity Cruises, and he’d had a girl disobey him after he told her to do something mildly illegal to save himself some paperwork. And he’d been so angry, he’d come to our car to cool off. The thing is, his language was the foulest of any human being I’ve ever encountered. He described explicitly his wish to inflict oral sex upon the girl in order to teach her a lesson, his possible future sexual encounter with another of his female employees in the restroom of our empty car, and the problems posed by the stains the bodily fluids would leave on his uniform. He even began to act out a sexual encounter with an imaginary woman who was under the table where he was sitting. I just sat there, still in a daze from having just awakened. Eventually he stopped talking and jauntily tromped back down the stairs and out of my life. The end.

Now, I know that story doesn’t quite fit in yet, but I’m getting there.

My plan had always been to be a teacher when I grow up. I really love working with people, and explaining things, and having my summers free to go do whatever I want. So teaching sounds like the perfect job. In fact, one huge lesson I’ve learned from this Alaskan summer is that I need to be doing something I actually love. I’m considering trying to get a job as a substitute teacher or at a school for troubled youth when I get back to Provo. Now, I know the latter is what Evan does, which is actually why I haven’t done it in the past; I didn’t want to end up copying him. But the more I consider it, the more I realize that my favorite job I’ve ever had was as a youth counselor at efy. I loved teaching the kids and being an example and friend and moderator for them.

But I also really love to be creative, to write, to make films, to be funny. And with Evan’s express interest in going to film school and Rachel‘s suggestion I become a writer for television, it has been easy for me to stoke my enthusiasm for that creative outlet. I’m not copying Evan, but I’m finding in myself the things that I see in him. And we work very well together. In just about a month I expect to have finished editing parts two and three of our film project, which I believe is a hilarious success and is due in large part to the successful creative synergy that exists between us. And it’s reassuring for me to link the next few years of my future to another person, to think, I’ll just go to school where Evan goes. These sorts of decisions make perfect sense when you remember that I’ve been esteeming Evan’s opinions and judgments as having more value than my own.

A man named Christopher came to see me one evening before I could get off the train. He works for Royal Celebrity and wanted me to visit his office the next morning. I had told my own manager in very brief terms about my encounter with that crazy black man, and I suppose the word had gotten over to RCT’s office, and they had fired the fellow and were building a legal case against him, and wanted my testimony for the record. So the next morning I went down there, and told them ALL the disgusting things the man had said to me, and they thanked me very much for my time and candor and promised appropriate actions would be taken I was mostly indifferent about the man’s fate, but wanted to help the company if I could. Christopher offered to drive me home. He asked me what I was studying and I told him I’d been studying English and was considering switching to film. He was a film enthusiast himself, he told me, and had recently been working on short films with the scout troop he leads. Which of course begs the question is he LDS?, which it turns out he is. And he told me he took classes in film at BYU, and has enjoyed film as a hobby ever since, on top of his career working on the railroad, which he enjoys immensely. This information was really important to me. I can’t say why, but I felt an unnamed impact from these words, and pondered them for a while afterward. And what I’ve realized is that I don’t have to give my life to film just to feel fulfillment from it. I don’t need to earn money from a movie I’ve made to be able to enjoy the effort.

So the new plan is this: I’ll try to hurry and finish school (I earned enough money to be able to get back into that now), meanwhile working in some sort of teaching capacity. I’ll get my English Language degree, as previously planned, and if I find I’m enjoying teaching, I will go in that direction, and if I find it lacks the creative outlet I need after all, I can use that degree and the few films we’ve made to pursue the job as a TV writer after all. Maybe I can do both. And if Evan and I can continue to work on video projects in the future, I’ll be ecstatic, but if our paths eventually diverge, I’ll be ok, and I’ll still love the kid just like I still love Brett, though I get to see him too infrequently.

What cracks me up is that this recent self-discovery, the whole new plan for my future, would not have lighted in my mind had that perverted old man not awakened me from my slumber, had I not been puking on the train that evening, had I not been in Alaska in the first place. So at least one good thing has come from all of this. And I use this story about film school and Evan as an example of the new mindset I’m going to try to employ. There’s one more story that helps to explain why this has all come to a head this morning, why I awoke today with a feeling that I need to be more myself.

A Golden Moment

The day after my surreal experience with Nasty McNasterson, I had to get back to Anchorage, but I was still quarantined. So they put me back on the empty train car and didn’t let me out. Luckily, the kindly, overworked lady who arranges our housing arrangements in Fairbanks provided me with snacks for the long ride. Among these treats was a carton of something I’ve never tried. Cherries. I don’t know why I’ve never eaten cherries before, but I never have. And here was a whole carton of sweet black cherries.

Anyway, I admit I slept for most of the trip. In the “evening” I woke up, stretched, and dug my book out of my backpack. Thus began one of the most serene and beautiful experiences of my life.

The sunlight came in relaxed and lazy, lounging sideways, as the sunlight is prone to do in Alaska. The birch and alder and spruce whirred by in a strobe-like blur of white and green and brown. The cottonwood trees had released a flurry of white cotton pixies, swarming and whizzing silently and gleefully past the windows in millions, lending a snow-globe effect to the afternoon. Crystal clear ponds reflected the blue of the sky and the white of the cumulus clouds stacked up above the horizon in all directions. My eyes could scarcely take in all of the beauty, and a peace settled over me. My attention turned to the interior of the train car, to the bowl of ripe cherries, and I ate one. Delicious! The juices burst into my mouth, ripe and sweet and unexpected, like a show of affection from a child. I realized that the blackest cherries were the most delicious, and I soon had a cup full of their pits. Amid the sensual beauty, I turned back to my book. The sunlight cut a sharp angle across the pages, the fibers of the paper casting shadows, tiny and definite, on each other.

Then I looked at my hand, which was holding the book open. My skin is a honey beige, more golden than most people’s, and in the yellow sunlight it looked healthy and warm. I turned to look at my reflection in a nearby mirrored panel on the wall, and the sun again cast a favorable light on me, entering my eyes at a slant and seeming to illuminate my irises from inside; they glowed like electrified amber. And for the first time I can ever remember, I thought, “I am beautiful.” Such an astonishing thought! I have never seen beauty in myself like this. I’ve grown up wishing for lighter skin like my friends, blue or green eyes like the kind I personally find more attractive, a different body altogether. But in that moment of peace and beauty and spirit, I was able to see myself through different, more fiery and perceptive eyes. I was able to see myself as an essential part of a whole wide beautiful world, inhabited by astoundingly good human beings and remarkably brilliant ideas and preposterously delightful nature. There is beauty in places I’d never thought to look. In cherries, in trees, in myself.

And this is the big thing I’m bringing home from Alaska: a recognition of my own worth and beauty. A new-found respect for my own desires and dreams and abilities. A love as deep as ever for the friends who have helped me to become who I am so far. And a determination to forge a path forward to that unique person that I, and no one else, is meant to become. I love you all.


another picture i took....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Alaskan Adventure! Hooray!

yeah, I took this picture

So Evan and Glade and I (I've decided to stop using pseudonyms on here because they're just plain old confusing) decided to get jobs in Alaska for the summer. We got hired by Holland America to work on the train as waiters! Such a crazy idea!

So, I normally try to remain pretty positive on here. But Alaska is Hell and i don't even have the energy or the emotional wherewithal to spin this one. Caitie thinks the reason I felt inspired to come here was to help me gain an appreciation for the Utah things in life. Like, you know, sober people, stars, friendly neighbors, happiness, etc. Stuff you can't find here in Alaska.

The pay at our job was pretty excellent. But the hours were crazy, and above (or below?) all else, the management was corrupt, inefficient, and unreasonable. And mean.

And ugly and old. Let me paint a picture for you of how life (if you can call it that) is on the train. At five thirty in the morning you wake up (I just realized I've become Mr. Jeffries, the Saturday School teacher/babysitter who used to sit around and tell his depressing life story in the second person so you would really feel his pain) and you get ready and bike down to the railyard. At this point you try your hardest to avoid any kind of interaction with Lorelle, who is, as Evan points out, that one secretary monster from Monsters Inc. Further description for those who haven't seen that movie, or who have successfully blocked it out: picture a reptile, only pink, with wispy whitish hair and strange glandular growths on her eyelids and bulldog jowls. Then picture that it's attached to an oxygen tank with a canula in its nose and it's really mean. No need to further describe its voice, as that should have been in place when I said "reptile." Also it swears a lot. As you arrive at the railyard, this monstrosity is stomping about the grounds, snorting fire and venom from its pustulated nostrils. Should you successfully evade the beast and jump onto your train car, you run into a Catch-22. Your job at this point is to take an inventory and ensure that your car is amply stocked for your two-day journey. The problem is this: If your car is missing anything (e.g. dessert, silverware, tablecloths, crackers, etc.), you will be in trouble if you don't restock it from the storage units at the rail yard before the train takes off. In theory, everything should be stocked the night before by the Russian night crew anyway, but there is a lack of language understanding or work ethic or something in that department, so you end up needing all sorts of stuff the next morning. Now what you're supposed to do is get one of the lingering Russians to run to the sheds and hand you the stuff, because the train could move at any second and you can't be getting on and off. But if Lorelle sees you, she will yell at you, because she is horrible. Her entire job description must say, "get in people's way and go to any lengths to impede their work." So really your efforts will almost surely be in vain, and since you're going to get yelled at anyway, you might as well cut your losses and just ride without crackers for the day, and only get yelled at the one time when it's discovered you're out of them, instead of once when you try to get more and then again when you‘re out later because Lorelle didn‘t let you have them.

Now, there's another succubus stomping about the trainyard in the mornings named Kim. She looks like, hmmm. Okay, you know "Arthur?" The children's books and TV show? She looks like one of the monkeys on that show, with dyed red hair and orange, wrinkly chimpanzee skin. And she has smoked too much, so her voice is raspy and her teeth yellow and flat, like an herbivore. Kim and Lorelle. I hate each of them more than the other. In one morning I have been yelled at by one for "hiding out on my car when there are no customers on it and I should be helping someone else" and by the other minutes later for "not staying on my car so I can be found when they need me." I've been yelled at three times by Kim in one morning for being late. I've been yelled at for getting off the train to grab supplies, and then minutes later for sending someone else to do my work for me. I have to be good for the rest of my life so when I die I don't go to hell and have to see these ladies again.

So let's just assume you got out of the yard and over to the depot, where you pick up the guests. Your job is to either a) load their luggage onto the train (and I swear some of these people packed their grandchildren in their "carry-ons"), or b) stand at the entrance to the car and tell people to "watch your step" as they board, due to a 4-inch drop back down after they've already come up the steps to get on the car. The guests will be annoyed with you for stating the obvious, and will often say so, cantankerously: "I can see that!" Either that or they will ignore you and fall anyway. One of the highlights of my trip was the woman who did both. "Watch your step ma'am!" "Don't you people think I know how to--" and then she fell. Hahaha.

The customers. They are old and rich and picky. Also, I think most of them are not really rich, and are spending beyond reason already, which is why they're so unhappy. Many grouchy people seem to think they will be happy if they can only go on an expensive vacation. But my experience has proven that grouchy old people are every bit as grouchy and old regardless of their settings. And nice or young people ride Princess. Now don't get me wrong--there are nice people and young people mixed in with all the liver-spotted bags of piss and vinegar who comprise the majority of our passengers, but they're not the ones who really influence the outcome of your day, or demand comment cards at the end of meal service.

So once you've got all the undead onto the train, you immediately serve breakfast. If someone on the train is going to die or just have a heart attack or stroke, this is generally when it's going to happen, even before the train gets moving. Yeah, yeah, it's sad. Partly because somebody just died and partly because now you have to wait for the paramedics and you'll be an hour behind schedule, but mostly because you have to listen to the rest of the gargoyles upstairs saying things like, "Well, is this going to affect breakfast?" and "It's almost ten o'clock! We should be eating lunch by now!" Seriously, they say that crap when someone has just died. I have no idea if they have an exaggeratory streak or if they actually eat lunch at ten o'clock because they are old. I also don't know if you turn like this when you're old or if this is just how everybody used to be during, like, the depression. "Here's your tip! Seven dimes! Oh, wait one second, I'm going to take one of those dimes back because you were out of crackers. There! Why don't you buy yourself some nice moon pies and go see a picture show!"

As far as I know, only two people have actually DIED on our train so far this year, and I didn't personally see either of them. I was the first one there when a man inexplicably fell and stopped breathing and turned blue, but we had a nurse close at hand, who revived him, thank goodness. He had gross teeth and I think I might be afraid of CPR.

So you serve breakfast to the old people, you and your partner for the run, forty consumers at a time. This part is hellacious, but not more so than most other restaurant jobs, except for two factors. All your tables come in at the exact same time. And you're in a congested box that shakes both continuously and sporadically. When the first forty slobbering zombies have finished consuming their scrambled eggs and reindeer sausage and human brains, you have to politely make them take their "coffee and conversation" back upstairs to the "dome" and set up for the next forty. This will probably take a while, since you are still out of silverware and have to wash the whole set between seatings, thanks to Lorelle's diligence.

After breakfast you start setting up for lunch. And you serve two rounds of lunch, and then you set up for dinner. Then two rounds of dinner, and then you're there. I didn't skip your break; you don't get one. This is, of course, simplified. The main challenge lies in convincing people that they do not get to choose when they eat on the train. "Hello, sir, we're ready for you to come down to eat dinner now." "Hell we just ate lunch not four hours ago! We'll come down in about an hour." But you just have to make him come now. You can't be serving someone an hour after everyone else, because you have to be setting up the dining room for the next meal at this point. But the old badger will be so upset, cussin' and cryin' and making his wife fan him off and tell him he's making a right scene and they can go to dinner now if they absolutely must (with a scornful eye shot in your direction at that point). And what you CAN'T do is yell, "Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was the midnight BUFFET train, and everybody eats whatever they WANT! You know what, Let me just go get my good friend Conductor Bob and tell him that couple in seats 7C&D would like him to delay the train for a couple of hours so they can eat whenever the fancy catches them!" Instead you must say something far more obsequious and self-demeaning, like, "I know, folks, I'm sure you've had a rough-and-tumble schedule these past few days! I wish there were something I could do (to you [you think, don't say that part]), but I promise we have a very delicious tender pork loin drizzled with a bourbon glaze and served with sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and you will love them right up and forget all your cares and woes and such!" And then you realize how one turns into an insane, murderous clown or a Carebears villain, and you begin to slowly hate yourself.

And then when you bring out their hot tea with lemon and sugar and cream ("What! No honey! What kind of a place has TEA but no HONEY!"), they actually have the presumption to say, "This must be a great job! You must love this! Getting to ride the train all day!" And you are required to lie and tell them that it isn't hell.

Now what is it that really makes it hell? We haven't even gotten to that part yet. It's that on any given day at least one of the following will not be working: air conditioning, fridges, stove, handicapped elevator, bathrooms, order-taking computers, printers, the other server. The bathrooms are most likely to be out of order, which means the people have to go up and down three flights of stairs, which I admit is no easy feat when you have one foot in the grave and the other on a shaking staircase. The air-conditioning is the next-most-likely thing to go, which means all of your leathery old people will be moaning, sweaty, leathery old people. If either the bathrooms or the air conditioning is not working , it's probably your fault and will be deducted accordingly from your tip. You should have known better. The final irony on all of that is yet to come, and you will see exactly why these broken things make the train ride hell.

So now you're in Fairbanks, and all of your co-workers go get drunk and/or stoned and you eat some ice cream that is not very good but is very close-at-hand, and then you go to bed in the hotel or stay up until one or two wishing Jose would turn off "King of Queens" so you could sleep. And if you've ever wondered why there are handrails in motel showers, it's for people who work on the train. When you work on the train, you see, the ground never stops moving. I had heard this, and expected a vibrating, or a swaying, or maybe a gentle shaking at worst, but I was not prepared for the ground's random lurching beneath my feet. It’s especially bad when you close your eyes, and handrails or no, at least one employee gashed his forehead open when his shower unexpectedly moved about five inches to the left. I have no idea what it is in the brain or inner ear that makes it do this, but you will still feel this effect the next morning at five thirty when you're up again and headed back to the train to do it all over, only headed south back to Anchorage.

When you get there, you fill out a little report on what's not working. An example:

"Two of the four automatic sliding doors between the kitchen and the dining room come slamming shut unexpectedly and knock the food out of my hands. The toilets didn't work at all in this car and the customers were quite loathe to go to the next one. The computers didn't work and we had to do all of our orders by hand, which took an extra half an hour per seating and resulted in several mistaken orders."

This report is fun to fill out the same way Madlibs are, because you know nobody will ever read it again and you can say anything at all and it won't mean anything to anyone! "Two of the ninety-seven automatic hungry doors between the weasel and the singing room come swallowing shut sexually and knock the carburetor out of my elves."

For, you see, they don't actually fix any of that crap. So the next time you're on the train, you still won't have air-conditioning or toilets or computers, and the decrepit old people will whine once again, "well, if you knew it was broken, why didn't you get it fixed?"

And while broken toilets and air conditioning mean stingier, angrier consumers, they first and foremost mean that you have to work in a congested, 90-degree box that is shaking your full bladder. Maybe the old people are too hot, but they're not running around in and out of the kitchen, and maybe they have to wait in a ten-minute line to use the restroom, but you don't HAVE ten minutes to wait in line, so you have to hold it. Which just makes you grouchier, which affects your tips, and it makes you sweatier, which drips on the customers and their food, which affects your tips.

And here's the final insult: The Blind Drop. This is unethical and immoral on the company's part, and I'm pretty sure it's also illegal. In a normal serving job, the waiter collects all his cash and credit card slips throughout the shift, an at the end he can total up all of his sales for the night, turn that in, and whatever remains is his tips. In The Blind Drop, the waiter is expected to keep track of his sales. The company could (if they wanted to) print out a little slip saying how much you're supposed to turn in, but they don't, ostensibly because it cuts down on theft, though they can't describe how when pressed. This is especially hard when your tables all try to pay at the exact same time and need different amounts of train (as I’m proofreading this I see that I inadvertently inserted the word “train” instead of “change,” but I think I’ll leave it as evidence of the brain damage [stroke?] inflicted on me by the change), and all of that is compounded by the idea that servers on the train serve six meals, two times each, over the course of two days before it comes time to turn in their money. There is no good system of doing this, and one doesn't have time to run and make change every time a crustomer (I just invented that word) says "keep the change" just to separate the money into different bags. The bottom line is, you get to the end of the second day and you have money sitting around, and you don't know whether it was tip money or money for someone's order and if it is whether it still has the tip in it or what. And so the company tells you to just stick it in with your deposit if you're not sure. "That's too bad," Kim says, "You lost it." If you accidentally mix up the two piles (which I did on my FIRST DAY), they tell you just to turn in all the money, and then you just never hear about it again. If you forget to take out all your credit card tips, and realize the next day and go tell them you accidentally deposited an extra $160, they tell you that they didn't notice any discrepancy in your deposit. One of two things is going on here. Either they are stealing all of the extra money themselves, or they actually don't check the money bags against any sort of a list that says how much everyone should be turning in. In which case, we the servers could actually be taking a lot more money out than we were owed, which is a hypothesis upon which I've been sorely tempted to experiment, at least until I had reclaimed all the hundreds of dollars I know (and those I suspect?) I've lost to the company or its minions.

Anyway, it's hard for me to do anything where money is the only end goal. I wasn't raised with a lot of money, and I don't really even like the concept, and I actually feel a lot of disdain for people who flaunt theirs. So it's hard for me to put myself through that kind of hell only for monetary gain. I'd much rather be poor and happy, any day.

And once I realized that, I realized that I couldn't work there anymore. In fact, right in the middle of typing this up, I got a phone call:

"Robbie?" [Yeah, that's my name, by the way, gentle reader, as though anyone who reads this doesn't already know that these days]

"yep." I said it all lower-case, just like that, because there's only one reptile who has this number and I knew her voice immediately.

"This is Lorelle. Weren't you supposed to have a meeting with me this morning at ten o'clock." Not a question, you'll notice.


"Yes you were. This isn't a really good way to keep your job, Robbie [ironically, this is the first time she's gotten my name right. I've been "Bobby" for two months]. I suggest you get down here right away if you want to keep your job."

"Well I don't. I guess I quit."

"Oh. Well, okay."


"Oh. Well, okay."

And then one of us hung up, I don't remember and it doesn't matter which. And the reason I only "guessed" I was quitting was because Evan and I had been hoping to go to Denali National Park on the train to go rafting and stuff before anyone noticed we weren't working for the company any more. Oh, well.

So, Evan and I are coming home. A week from today. July, 23, that is. So everybody get Provo ready for us, because we're coming back, and this time we're going to LIKE it, dammit.