Monday, June 20, 2011

Why I Didn't Have Friends in High School

I went home for the weekend, and brought back a binder that I intend to use for choir music, but it had a notebook in it from high school. In addition to some of my emo-teenage short stories and song lyrics (which were pretty well-written, but will never get published), it also contained a sheet of crappy lined paper, upon which was written the following rant:

"I didn't use my scratch paper at all.

"This test was made for stupid people. A monkey with severe brain damage could have taken this test and passed. But then again, seventy-five percent of the students at Center have the mental capacity of the common houseplant*, so some might have found it a tad challenging. Do you know what the worst part is? I've been finished for about 15 minutes and there are 20 minutes of testing time left and I already checked my answers a million times and I didn't bring a book, so in my boredom I'm writing a thesis on the low mentality of Center students and the pointlessness of these assessments just so the "proctor" won't have to throw away a blank sheet of scratch paper. This planet disgusts me. I'm reading this over and boy, is it cynical. I really hope nobody reads this. But then again, I used some pretty big words, so most of the lemmings-er-I mean students- wouldn't get it anyway. To negate all of my negativity, I should say something nice about Center High School. I should have brought a book, too. I didn't do that either.

"*Except the Venus Flytrap, which was scientifically proven to have an I.Q. higher than that of the combined members of the football team.

I'm really glad that nobody read this when I was in high school. They would have probably profiled me as "most likely to shoot everyone during the prom." I'm happy to say, now, eight-ish years later, that I'm a lot less angry, and grateful that in post-secondary education, you can leave when you're done with a test.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Newton's Principle of Indecision

I should probably not be allowed to be in charge of things.

I went to Newton Centre today, which isn't inherently traumatic. It's a pretty cool place full of restaurants and boutiques for clothing and jewelry I will never be able to afford. I went into this one "consignment shop" thinking that consignment=cheap. Not so. There was this super beautiful silk dress in one of my favorite shades of blue; it had sleeves, went down past the knee, and had a really pretty embellishment thing on it...for only $158. As I was gawking over it, the lady asked me if I wanted to try it on, and after I told her it was out of my price range, she said it was on sale...only $98. That's still too expensive (even though it fits my rule that if I'm going to spend over $50 on an article of clothing I should be able to wear that and absolutely nothing else and still be able to go out in public), but I knew if I didn't try it on, I'd spend the rest of the day thinking about it. Thankfully it didn't fit me properly, so I could let it rest in peace.

The "trauma" began when I decided I was a little peckish and wanted a snack. There are a lot of restaurants in Newton Centre, seriously, a lot. I can't just pick the first place I see, so I wandered around the entire town (after wandering around once already) looking for a place that looked good. After wandering for about 45 minutes, I still hadn't decided, and by that point, I went from "a little peckish" to legitimately hungry. Of course, that required an entire paradigm shift: I was no longer looking for a snack, but for actual food. I wandered for another 20-ish minutes. There was a diner attached to the train station, but it wasn't what I imagined and was a little too saloon-like for me. There was a place called "Cafe St. Petersburg" but I felt that I would feel out of place at a restaurant that had six middle-aged women shouting at each other in Russian sitting on the patio. There were a bunch of sit-down places, but I wasn't in the mood to wait for waiters. At this point, I was very glad I was alone, as any traveling companions would have been quite impatient with me (but then again, they probably would have picked a place in five minutes).

I ended up eating at an itty-bitty place called "Lee's Burgers." The name is pretty funny if you're a biological anthropologist (there's a guy named Lee Berger who published Australopithecus sediba recently...I mean, I'm pretty sure the restaurant was just named after some other "Lee," but I appreciated it). The burger was decent, the onion rings were good (they were served with this sauce that was almost like fry sauce sans ketchup), and best of all, it was cheap.

Anyway, the point of this post is that even though I'm okay with deciding things about my life, when it comes to food, I have the absolute worst decision-making skills ever. I hope this will change before I have dependent children to feed. Frankly, I'm glad I'm not a guy, because if I were, I'd probably never be able to plan a dinner date.

Also, I feel I should mention that I was really sneezy today (I hate springtime) and took a behind-the-counter antihistamine/nasal decongestant and washed it down with a caffeinated Diet Coke, and now I'm a little wired. I may go take on the universe right now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spiritual Tornadoes

For those who don't know, Massachusetts has had some pretty intense weather today. Thankfully, Boston only got some severe thunderstorms, but the western and central parts of the state got hit pretty heavily by tornadoes. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their homes and loved ones in these storms.

This morning in Charlestown, we had a 15-minute thunderstorm, and I thought that would be it for the day. As I walked home from work in the early afternoon, it was sunny and gorgeous. You can imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV and saw that the National Weather Service had issued a "Tornado Watch" for Boston and surrounding areas. I thought, "that's not possible; it's so nice outside!" Later, watching the weather, and seeing that the storm was more imminent, I thought, "I've dealt with much worse storms than this in Pennsylvania; I can handle it." Then, later in the evening, I rode away from Institute in a torrential downpour and the flashiest display of lightning I've ever seen.

[When I'm a General Church Auxiliary Leader and tell this story in General Conference, I'll have to embellish and include something about how when I finally thought to get my potted plants off of the balcony, it was too late and they had been pummelled by golf-ball-sized hailstones.]

The Gospel connections are all too clear. I'm grateful we have Latter Day Prophets who receive revelations from a Heavenly Father who can see the end from the beginning. We may receive warnings about spiritual storms and think, "that couldn't possibly happen, life is so great right now," or "It won't be so bad; I can handle it!" Prophets give us counsel for a reason: to protect us and keep us out of spiritual (and often temporal) danger. We may think that they cannot relate to us--they're from "a different generation"--but these leaders are inspired and are speaking for Someone who, without any doubt, can relate to exactly what we're experiencing.

With that, I'll leave the text from a piece I sang a few years ago in Concert Choir, a text that I've thought quite a bit about in light of the weather:

"After the Rain" (by Lane Johnson)

"Darkness expelled by a Light through the clouds
Heaven compelled to dissolve lightless shrouds
Tears dried by Son Light no longer remain
After the rain

"Storms overhead no more darken the way
Shadows have ceased to bedim the noon-day
Then brilliant beams of hope are born and brightness regained
After the rain

"Oh how the cloudburst and tempest refine
As we allow light to encompass and shine
Freely the soul sings for respite attained
After the blessed rain"