Monday, November 8, 2010

Burning Party

I didn't think I was that dramatic of a person...but Saturday my Mom and stepdad Scott found me out back ripping old love letters out of their plastic page protectors and hurling them into one of those old metal garbage cans that doesn't come up any higher than your thigh. When they realized what I intended to do (and that there was pretty much no stopping me), Scott ran to get a grate to cover the can to minimize the ash-spewing and my mom tried to rationalize that the whole process would be good for me--cathartic. You know, letting my past stay just where it should--in the past.

I was surprised at how hard it was at first. I kept trying to rationalize the keeping of certain letters or certain recuerdos, justifying that they were parts of my history and that they might "make it into my writing someday." But when I saw the flames kicking up their legs higher and higher into the air, I kinda just let loose and tossed in everything---photos, notes, hand-drawn pictures... And then the tears started coming. Not too many. A few trickles that were wiped quickly away. I almost lost the nerve about a tenth of the way into the process, but two people saved me: my old boss Bruce and then Matt.

Bruce happens to be my back-door neighbor and strolled through the gate separating our yards to say hello. When he saw the semi-large bonfire emitting forth from the garbage can, he jokingly asked, "Whatcha burnin'? Love letters?" When I answered in the affirmative, his face blanked, unable to find anything appropriate to say. So he mumbled something about how sometimes we need to just let the past go, and returned through the still-open red gate to return to his mowing.

And when Matt walked into the backyard and came over and just wrapped his arms around me, I knew I was doing the right thing. My future looks much brighter than any flickering spark a past momento could hope to incite in me.

I did feel kinda like a mad-woman though, at the end of it all---hair blowing in the wind, poking at the flames, reeking of smoke. It was a good weekend.


I sure do like this geek-boy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Skinny Jeans

Apartment 17 is finishing up Week 2 of the Biggest Loser competition, and Jeralyn and I are neck-and-neck, having lost about 5 pounds apiece. Kayla hasn't even started yet, claiming that she'll be able to cram it all in and beat us all at the last second. We shall see.

My favorite part about this whole competition is chuckling at the exercise videos I bought (while I do them faithfully, every other day). Mondays I kick off the week with a little Billy Blank's Cardio Inferno. Now, there's nothing like seeing Billy grunting in a tight black leotard to get me all motivated to kick the crap out of the empty air in front of me. But what I really love are all of Billy's little comments (Billy and I are on a first-name basis, just in case anyone's curious). What follows is just a little sprinkling of some of my favorite Billy-quotes (if you want more, you'll have to buy the video yourself):

"I don't wanna see no gobbledy-gobble. We gonna get RID of that gobbledy-gobble" (apparently "gobbledy-gobble" is underarm jiggle)

"Now I'm here to help you out [pointing at me], but we gotta work together as a TEAM" (brings on the guilt trip every time)

"Hey you there, on the couch--yes you! Get your butt off that seat and stop watching ME work out!" (cracks me up every time, because for half of the video, Billy's not even working out either. He's going around criticizing everyone else in the video and heckling this little Asian girl to "get tougher")

"You can't let me be your leader. YOU'VE got to be your leader. Let YOUR voice lead you--not mine." (Valuable advice from a man in tight spandex)

My other video is the Dancing with the Stars' Latin Cardio Blast, which makes Kayla crack up like a clown every time I do it, although I have no idea why. Okay, maybe I do---it's pretty bad. And I know it's bad, because even I can tell that the instructors feel awkward as they do it, which makes me feel awkward doing it. My favorite moment is when the main lady (don't remember her name) says after the first two minutes (literally): "I'm tired. Take it from here, Max." My other favorite moment is when Max (cute Russian guy, also in black spandex) says, "Now I want you to turn out your hips. Whatever that means to you." What if 'turning out my hips' meant that I just turned them right of there and ate me a couple of handfuls of peanut butter M&M's and watched an episode of The Office?

Moral of the story: Exercise videos = Way too much fun for me.

K, jokes (mostly) aside, the videos actually do seem to be working. I mean, I have lost those 5 pounds, and I actually seem to have gone down a pant size. I found this out accidentally when I went to Old Navy last night to check out their Skinny Jeans sale. I never thought I could pull off skinny jeans and I had especially not been too willing to try lately. But I picked up a pair of Size 4s and thought, "What the heck? They might fit." Much to my surprise, they did. And looked pretty good. So I'm sitting here now in the TSC computer lab in my first pair of skinny jeans...and feeling pretty hot.

Pictures of the jeans to follow.

If I remember.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nostalgia

I never realized how many memories I have tied to Utah State and Logan in general until I came back after my 18 month absence; I remember that my first week back was one continuous chain of "Oh yeah, I remember when..." moments. And I discovered something new about myself: my Cache Valley memories seem much more tied to strong emotions than my Bountiful memories. In general, anyway. Maybe because they're a little bit fresher, or maybe because I was a little bit older, or maybe just because Logan is a little less familiar, but I've found myself encountering some very unexpected sensations of latent emotion walking through campus---teary eyes, burning heart, bittersweet recollections...

What's strange is that I find myself longing for some of it again. But logically, I know I really don't want it. I want now. Maybe that's what "nostalgic" really means, anyway---an inexplicable longing for the past, a painting-over of memories with rosy hues.

I remember stopping under a yellow-leaved tree one morning behind the Geology building to write a poem before class, just because I felt like it. I sat wedged between an outdoor vent and a metal box and wrote a spontaneous poem about loss. Or as a freshman, I remember carrying around a sketchbook (the last time I've done so) to sketch the campus statues between classes, slightly encouraged that my artistic talent was not as dead as I thought. As I pass the ivy-laden wall of the University Inn, I remember the time that I stopped and watched the birds fly in and out of the leaves for 20 minutes, mesmerized, as students swiveled their necks at me and stared.

I pass locations that bring up heavier memories---breaking up with Bradford in front of Bullen Hall, walking with Carter around the Quad and talking about life after death, having a talk about "our future" with Todd in the lounge of the TSC as we watched the sun set out the window. I never realized how drenched in memories Logan was until I came back to it...and I don't know why, but it's actually HARD for me to remember things. Let me clarify that: it's not hard for me to pull up the memories...but it is emotionally hard for me to think about them again, because even my happiest memories seem to always be tinged with sadness. Maybe because I generally know the outcome of most of them.

I always thought I didn't remember much. But maybe I was just in the wrong place for remembering.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not a Good Month to Hold Halloween

Today I went to the gym for the first time in a month. I have been trying to convince myself that because I walk to and from campus and to and from work several times each day and don't eat a lot in general that it was okay to have large quantities of ice cream, cookies, brownies, Dove chocolates, or whatever new treat my roommates concoct whenever I did decide to eat...However, the scale apparently did not justify my decisions as well as I did (it obviously lacks the advanced justification capabilities of my brain) and I was a bit horrified to find that I've gained about 6 pounds in a month. Now, perhaps this wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that my doctor told me about two months ago that I should LOSE ten pounds...So, using my brain's also-advanced calculation abilities, I have come to conclude that I now "should" be trying to lose 16 pounds. Boo.

I probably would have kept ignoring the problem, except for the fact that I climbed a fence yesterday. Now, for those of you who don't see the connection yet, I will explain: I was running late for class, and walking at my abnormally fast pace as usual, when I spotted a possible shortcut to class--the cemetery. So I pop in at one of the side entrances, congratulating myself for my brilliancy, and then notice (after crossing the whole length of the cemetery) that there didn't seem to be any exits. While I was searching for the quickest way out, I happened to pass by the cemetery keeper's house three times; after the third, a man in overalls walks out and asks, "Ma'am, are you lost?"

My brain processes the 'Ma'am' before anything else (wondering when I possibly could have changed from "Miss" to "Ma'am") and then finally gets around to muttering out a "No" to the rest of the question. Looking at my cell phone, I realize that class starts in 30 seconds, and there is basically just a fence between me and getting there. The kindly caretaker points out the nearest two exits (which are at opposites ends of the cemetery) and then suggests, "Ya know, if you're real brave, you could just climb the fence." I decline the offer and start walking towards the exit that will roughly put me out in the direction of my class, which is not-so-conveniently located in a trailer at the farthest end of campus (thank you, budget cuts).

When I'm out of sight of the caretaker, I spot my trailer about a block away and make a split decision: I am climbing the fence. I look left, look right, then whip my jacket off and drape it over the top of the chain-link spikes. I hoist my right foot up and attempt to wedge it into a little space about the size of a teacup. Reminding myself that this used to be easy, I eagerly try pulling myself up in one fell swoop, even though the fence is swaying dangerously under the unexpected load. Disaster: my jacket falls down (on the wrong side) and I have to come back down to throw it back over again. I am now officially late, and sweating much more than I probably should be. I make a second attempt at the fence, which starts to go much more smoothly until I realize that there's no way I'll be able to hoist myself over the final part with my backpack on. So I do an awkward grip-with-one-hand-to-the-fence-and-wrestle-the-backpack-with-the-other thing and somehow manage to send my textbook-laden bag over to the other side. And then, Voila! I jump over the fence. Well, kinda. I apparently was not as light as I remember or as easy to self-hoist, and so I only marginally missed the spikes poking up at the top with my body, but I sure got a good feel of them with my hands before I thumped down onto the ground, panting and bleeding. I was out of breath for the next five minutes and sore for the next hour or two. I knew then that something had to be done.

So today I went to the gym. I don't remember ever noticing before my belly fat jiggling as I jogged on the treadmill, or the way that my once-cute dance pants had gotten so snug that they gave me "muffin top." I have hardly ever had any body issues in my life, and all of a sudden, it was like I realized I wasn't as skinny as I used to be or as skinny as I secretly thought I was (as if the fact that I had to buy a whole new wardrobe wasn't evidence enough).

I asked Kayla jokingly as we were walking through Walmart if buying a Shape magazine would motivate me to lose the weight, and she said, "No. I think you just want an excuse to buy a magazine." Hmmph.........True.

So today I unofficially started The Diet. I talked myself out of buying steak (my favorite late-night dinner) and made myself pay the dollar extra for the lean beef. Then I cursed the world for holding Halloween in the same month that I had finally decided to try dieting for one of the first times ever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fearsome Threesome

I couldn't be more happy with these sisters who I will be "leaving" to carry on in Versailles and Joyas in just a couple of weeks. Hermana Nelson is from Bountiful; in fact, we graduated the same year (totally small world). Hermana Rodas is from Huehuetenango, Guatemala and is a natural missionary. Her dad is a Stake President and she is very dedicated. In fact, it seems like she has already been out about six months instead of just the few days that I have had the opportunity to "train" her. I was also thrilled beyond belief this week when both of them expressed their amazement at how incredibly supportive and united our branch is...hearing that, I knew that my work here is about done.

Marleny's Baptism

7/3/10: The baptism of Marleny Uribe de Fuentes was beautiful.
Here she is with her returned missionary brother, Jorge (who we have been working with to re-activate), her daugher Dulce, and her son Derek (who would like to get baptized but is awaiting permission from his father).
The man in white in white is President Morazan who is the branch president in Versailles.
What a beautiful family! We are hoping for Derek's baptism to take place soon and for Marleny's husband, David, to show more interest in seeing what the Gospel is all about.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Remembering Bob Marley

6/23/10: While at the ruins, it was nice to have some 'down time' enjoying the shade and visiting with Hermana Bermudez and Elder Marin who is our district leader Outside of the ruins, there was a Bob Marley souvenir stand. The people here are nuts about him.
"What do you know about the Mormon church?"
To truly appreciate the experience, I find it's better to be a doer instead of a watcher.

Ruins of Tazumal

6/23/10: Our zone was given permission to change our P-Day to Wednesday for this week so we could see the Ruins of Tazumal which are not open on Mondays.
Wave hello to our awesome zone.
I must say that a pair of tennis shoes would probably conquer this terrain a little easier than my "Mary Janes."
For how old they are, the structure is still surprisingly intact.
All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience to see something like this.

Rio Sucio

Here I am standing on this bridge in Joyas.
The name of the river is Rio Sucio, which means "dirty river"--appropriately named!

Two More Baptisms

On Saturday, June 19, we had two more baptisms--Lucia Fernandez and Marvin Alexander Espinoza. Lucia is 70 and the girlfriend of Francisco, the 100-year-old man who was baptized last month. Marvin is 10 and is the grandon of Dinora (the woman in black) who is Lucia's daughter in law.
The other woman in the picture is Marvin's mother and the little girl is Marvin's sister. Elmer Marin, our district leader, performed the baptism.

A Taste of the Orient

6/14/10: Everyone in our zone baptized again last month, so our reward was to eat lunch with President Lopez again. This time is was at a Chinese restaurant.
I'm not sure what he is celebrating...
but Hermana Bermudez hopes that rubbing his stomach brings us good luck.

Training Again

I'm now training my 4th "daughter" here on the mission. My newest companion is Hermana Bermudez. She is actually from a place right here in Salvador that is only about 10 or 15 minutes from where we live. She is serious and quiet but has a strong spirit.
Here is yet another strange fruit found here--semilla de paterna. The white fuzzy part if edible and sweet like a fruit.The green inner part you fry up with salt and lemon and is like a legume.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm Staying

5/24/10: Life here is full of surprises. I am staying here in Versailles/Joyas and Hermana Bautista is being transferred to Chalchuapa to be Hermana Beckett's new companion. This is getting to be a familiar scenario: saying goodbye to everyone while they depart to their new destinations on the Coaster.
Jacquelin Amaya is taking Hermana Bautista's department pretty hard. She has been one of those special people we have worked with here.

Versailles Activity

5/22/10: This was a crazy Saturday. After Francisco's baptism in Joyas, we headed back over to Versailles for a branch activity. Three of our investigators are sitting in the forefront of the picture: Marleny, Dulce, and Derek. Marleny's brother Jorge, who is a returned missionary, is in the striped blue and black shirt.
We knew last Saturday that most likely one or both of us would be affected by transfers on Monday. We weren't together for too long, but we got along just fine.

100 Years Young

5/22/10: Meet Francisco Ayala, 100 years young. He will be 101 in October. His favorite seat is this tire outside of his house.
Francisco's baptism went without a hitch.
This is the first baptism in Joyas this entire year (which is very exciting for us but very unusual for the area here)

Getting to Know Joyas

5/20/10: I was finally able to take a few pictures of Joyas, the other area I am currently covering (along with Versailles). Joyas in very much out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by jungle-like vines and trees. This is a picture of a typical house here in Joyas.
Many of the homes here have their own wells like this one.
This is Hermana Dinora who has come to church and we are hoping to prepare for baptism. She is making pupusas in the back of her house.
Hermana Bautista is standing in the back of this same house. Notice the denseness of the foliage that basically make up the "back yard.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bad Hair Day

5/17/10: You may not be able to tell from this distance, but my new haircut is very uneven, a common outcome for a very cheap haircut. Luckily, my zone won't hold it against me.

A Day at the President's

5/10/10: We were invited to President Lopez's home to eat dinner with his family. Our zone was the highest baptizing zone in April plus every area in the zone baptized, so this was our reward. It was great to see the progress of the El Salvador Temple. It had been awhile since I had been able to see it.
President Lopez has this wonderful hammock hanging in his yard. Looks like paradise--no? Probably because it's been so very long since I've had a nice long nap......
We played this game called "Elimination" while we were there...
and also enjoyed some delicious food.
It's always great to see my "MTC" buddies. That's Hermana Schmidt on the left in the purple shirt.

Two Weddings and Two Baptisms

4/30/10: The marriage of Jacqueline and Moises de Amaya went without a hitch. We had a few nervous moments making sure we had all the necessary paperwork and the birth certificates from the other mission, but all worked out in the end.
Moises is a returned missionary and has already taught his family much about the Gospel. Jacqueline and their son Aaron were well prepared for their baptism which followed the wedding.
Bringing families together in the Gospel is one of the great joys of being a missionary.
Then just one day later Karla Jiminez (who I taught in Sensunapan) married Jorge Guevara who was a returned missionary in the ward there. I actually introduced them but am not planning on going into the matchmaking business full-time.Karla and Jorge are planning to be sealed in the temple in November which will be just over one year following her baptism day last October.

New Beginnings

4/20/10: My new companion is Hermana Bautista. She is a convert of two years and is from El Salvador (east mission side). She is very quiet but willing to learn and work hard.
Here is our new zone. Hermana Bautista and I are the two jewels in the crown!
4/24/10: Our branch participated in an awesome Stake Choir Activity. Here we are enroute on the bus. We ended up with by far the largest group there--about 30 to 35 people. When we did our branch's presentation, we almost didn't have enough seats for everyone in the choir section.
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