Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm gonna be sick . . . (just kidding; I'm not)

Can I talk to you for a sec? It'll just be a minute.

Do you ever feel like you're on a roller coaster and you can't get off? Once when I was a kid we went to this place called Hoffman's Playland. We used to go there on our way home from Lake George, NY. Anyway, it was a really small amusement park thing and they had a very small roller coaster but it made very sharp turns to make up for the fact that it was small and it went around 3 times. I went on it once. I have no idea how old I was, maybe 9? Anyway, I freaked out so much that they actually had to stop it to let me off before that last time around. I kind of feel like that right now. "This is freaking me out. I'm not ready for this. I need to get off and get my feet on the ground."

How does life change this quickly anyway? I mean, what is up with that? It's like with my new job. I got a phone call about it on a Monday, had the interview on Wednesday, and had the job by Friday. I went from being a starving-artist-slash-part-time-stay-at-home-aunt to having the perfect job for me and it just came to me. Weird.

Today my life flip flopped big time. And all in a matter of hours. I'm not going to go into details because it involves other people. What I will say is that some of it threw me for a complete loop and some didn't. I mean if I had stood back at what was slowly unfolding, I probably would have seen it coming (especially because I'm really good at that with movie plots most of the time). The thing is that it's not like my job where it was easy to know how to feel about it. Instead I'm a ball of nerves and emotions that I don't have time to sort out because we're gearing up for the third time around this ride and I'm just really not sure I want to stay on. The last two go arounds seemed fun at first, but ended up being doozies and I'm thinking I might need a break.

Ok, that's it. I just needed to vent and you were the only one up at this hour. Thanks a bunch! Here's to hoping that I'll be able to get some sleep. Also I apologize that I'm rambling. It's late.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mormon Lexicon: Some of the basics

Here it is: the beginning of the long - awaited (I know you've been waiting) Mormon Lexicon! And you thought I forgot . . .

I decided to put together this dictionary of sorts to put you in the loop. This will explain some of the terms I am bound to use while telling a story (as I am a Mormon that has experiences with other Mormons especially now that I live in Utah where they're - I mean we're - everywhere). The fact of the matter is that this will take a number of posts to fully explain. I thought I'd give it to you in smaller chunks so it would be easier for you to swallow (we wouldn't want anyone choking, now would we?) So don't be surprised to see additional installments in the future. I would like to say up front, that though I will poke some fun at our lingo and weird cultural stuff, I believe in the doctrine very strongly. Tone in the written word is sometimes difficult to make out, so I will say right now that unless I specifically indicate, I am not being sarcastic. Most of these jokes will be the kind that are said with a small chuckle. Included in this first edition will be some of the basics of organization and Sunday meetings in our church. Enjoy!

Mormon: 1. Mormon was a prophet in the ancient Americas who abridged the writings of not one, but two ancient civilizations and put them into a record that later became known as The Book of Mormon. It was named after him, because he did a whole lot of the work. Better give credit where credit is due! (Note: Joseph Smith didn't write The Book of Mormon. It was already written . . . in another language . . . that no one knew how to read. This is why God called Joseph Smith to translate it by the power of God.)

2. A nickname for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People started calling us Mormons because we read The Book of Mormon. By the way, we don't mind being called Mormons, but we don't really like our church being called "the Mormon church" because it makes people think we worship Mormon instead of Jesus Christ.

LDS or Latter-day Saint: another nickname for a Mormon. The term, "latter-day saint" does not suggest that the members of our church have achieved sainthood (not even close!). We point to the way the term "saint" is used in the New Testament to refer to members of the early Christian church. Basically we are members of Jesus Christ's church in later days.

ward: a congregation of Mormons in a geographic area. A ward is like a family. Sometimes it's a little crazy, but we love and support each other. In some areas there are specialized wards like singles wards, deaf wards, Spanish wards, Tongan wards, etc. These specialized wards are not created to exclude people, instead they are formed when the leadership finds that the specialization better meets the needs of those ward members especially when it comes to language. Wards are usually split when they get too big. A smaller group is better than a larger one because it is easier to know everyone and their needs. It also gives more people the opportunity to hold callings.

calling: the job/responsibility that you do/have in the church. All worthy members of our church get to help out by serving in a calling. A calling is not paid work; it is service. There are numerous callings in a ward and you can even get a calling that has you serving at the stake, regional, or general level. Callings range from Bishop to Sunday School teacher to greeter to librarian to Prophet. The key is that each calling is important. And though there are different callings with different levels of responsibility, you don't get "promoted". You may go from being in charge of a lot of stuff to teaching 5 year-olds and it is not a demotion. We believe that the call comes through inspiration aka God is choosing what you are doing right now. And because there are so many things to do and you usually don't stay in a calling forever, you have the chance to learn . . . a LOT. I recently taught a Sunday School class entitled "Marriage and Family Relations" to other young, single members of my ward. I loved it. I learned so much while preparing my lessons and from the comments I got from those who attended my class. What a great way to have a positive outlook on something that has so long eluded me! The Lord sure knows what he is doing.

bishop: the bishop is the ecclesiastical leader of the ward, kind of like a pastor. The father of the ward family, if you will. He is actually responsible for everyone within his ward's boundaries whether they are a member of our church or not. Our church has a lay ministry meaning that the bishop is not paid. He has a regular day job to support his family (oh yeah and celibacy is not promoted in our faith. Family is the most important thing for everyone). A bishop may be a lawyer, accountant, garbageman, artist, etc. to pay the bills and then spend 20 hours a week fulfilling his duties as bishop. Bishops really do work so hard. My dad was the bishop for a while and it was tiring work. The good news is that this calling is not forever. Usually a bishop serves for about 5 years. After that, someone else is called.

bishopric: a group of men including the bishop, his two counselors, the executive secretary and clerks. The other members beside the bishop help him do his job. Yay for teamwork!

branch: a branch is like a ward, but smaller.

branch president: the branch president does everything a bishop does, he's just called a branch president because he's over a branch instead of a ward.

stake: a larger geographical area that includes usually about 7-10 wards. The term comes from the analogy used in the Old Testament that the House of Israel was like a tent with stakes spread out.

stake president: a priesthood leader that presides over a stake. Like a bishop, he has two counselors an executive secretary and clerks to help him do his job. The stake president also works really hard and spends a lot of hours on his calling. This is actually what my dad is now. This calling isn't forever either, but the average stake president serves for about 10 years. My dad isn't quite half way there yet. You can do it, Dad! (As you can see, you really don't hope and dream for leadership positions, they take a lot of time and often those who are called feel inadequate for the job, but whom the Lord calls, he qualifies. Each opportunity to serve brings faith building experiences as you rely upon the Lord to help you figure out how to do the job right.)

stake center: the building dedicated to holding stake events. It also serves as a meeting house for at least one ward.

3 hour block: our Sunday meetings last for three hours. I know what you're thinking, "THREE HOURS?!?! Are these people crazy?" But the truth is that it is broken up into three meetings: Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and the last hour one is either in Priesthood, Relief Society, Young Womens, or Primary (all of these groups will be discussed in later posts.)

Sacrament Meeting: the worship service where all the congregation meets together. The meeting starts with a welcome, then a hymn sung by the congregation and a prayer offered by a member of the congregation who has been asked beforehand. After the prayer, business is conducted (if there is any) and then another hymn is sung to prepare for the sacrament. Sacrament hymns are usually solemn and reverent and the words speak of Jesus Christ and how he suffered for our sins. The most important part of Sacrament Meeting is the sacrament. The sacrament is when bread and water are blessed and passed to the congregation. It is much like the eucharist or communion in other faiths. The bread and water are symbols of Christ's flesh and blood as he explained during the last supper. The sacramental prayer reminds us of the covenants (promises with God) we made when we were baptized. After the sacrament, talks are given by 2 or three members of the congregation who were asked beforehand (usually you get at least a week to prepare unless your dad is the bishop and the person scheduled can't do it for some reason or another). There is usually a rest hymn in between talks which is a chance to stand up and stretch your legs (sometimes). In my current ward, we stand up for the rest hymn EVERY week, which I hadn't experienced before. The meeting closes with another hymn and a closing prayer. Yes, we sing a lot. Which I really don't mind even though I have a terrible voice. The hymns are so beautiful and are so much a part of me, that I love to hear them. Besides, usually there are a lot of people in the ward that have beautiful voices, so I get to hear them sing over my voice.

the church vs. The Church: 1. the actual structure or building where services and activities are held i.e.: "will you be at the church tonight?"

2. short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints i.e.: "How members of The Church are there worldwide?"

Well that's it for now, please. If any of this confuses you or if you would like to put in a request (you've heard a Mormon say something that didn't make any sense to you) leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

She lives!

Hey Remember how I used to be a blogger? I guess I forgot . . . the truth is that my social life got super interesting and involved. I know you're intrigued! You should be! Too bad I'm not talking!!!!!!!

Anyway, Nat the Fat Rat is doing another giveaway and this one has nothing to do with me except that I would love to win it. It is a $100 gift card to HomeGoods! Go ahead and enter for a chance to win. If I win, I want a new temple in which to house my shoe shrine. I came to the realization as I returned home Saturday with two new pairs of shoes that this problem of shoe space is only going to get worse now that I am gainfully employed.

I think I'm going to be blogging again soon as I will have a little time while I'm visiting home. Love you all!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Golden Age of Hollywood

Last night while staying up too late (again), the thought came into my head. "When is it going to be doppelganger week again on Facebook?" It seems like a long time since the last one, doesn't it? Well, in times like these I turn to my trusty source for all things pop culture and completely trivial: Wikileaks, oops . . . I mean Wikipedia! The trusted Wikipedia told me that Doppelganger Week (don't you think it should be capitalized?) is the first week in February. Why, that is NOW! No wonder it seems so long; it's been a whole year.

The reason this is so funny is that on Sunday night at ward prayer (don't worry guys - I'm working on a lexicon of Mormon lingo for those of you who are not familiar), everyone was asked to think about who would play them in a movie version of themselves and then share it with the group. This, of course, was just an excuse to get people talking as ward prayer is really just a ploy to get those crazy singles to date! Well, I was thinking about it because this is actually a fun thing to ponder, but I found that it was easier for me to think of who should play other people than who should portray myself. Perhaps that is because there is no one quite like me? We'll say that's the reason. Anyway when it was my turn, I spouted out some popular actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner. Basically anyone that already had droves of adoring fans and therefore would make just about everyone want to be me due the fact that they already want to be her. (Confusing sentence?)

But the girl right before me said that she wanted Lucille Ball to play her, and I thought, "Wait, are we allowed to pick dead people?" So after I had given my lame answer, I started thinking through all my favorite classic movies wondering which actress had the right look, the right comedic timing, the right je ne sais quoi that is the essence of . . . me. And I decided that Barbara Stanwyck was my girl.

Until I looked her up the next day and realized that I had associated the wrong name with the actress I was actually looking for.

Jean Arthur. Jean Arthur is my girl.

Wasn't she just lovely?
Even better, she was funny. And that is why I chose her.

Here's a great tribute to telemarketers. I love it, so universal. Although I usually don't get calls offering me furs and jewelry . . . just people asking for money (I love you too, Metropolitan Opera).

Also, I found this picture of her which I think was back when she was in silent films, before the world came to hear that wonderfully quirky little voice of hers and before she bleached her hair blonde. I've taken the liberty to take a similar picture of myself with my handy dandy built-in iSight camera so you can compare. I didn't specifically do my hair for this, but I'm pretty sure it could look like hers if it wanted to. I understand that we don't look exactly alike. I mean, I would hope that as a portrait artist I could see when people have similar features and I admit that we don't really. But she's great and I would still have her portray me in a riveting and hilarious movie version of my life. My life is riveting and hilarious, of course.

A cute young little Jean Arthur.

A cute young little me.

Furthermore, if I got to choose who would play opposite good ol' Jean - and therefore play my love interest - I would emphatically choose Jimmy Stewart. And not just because I've seen them on screen together, but because I have decided that I love to watch Jimmy Stewart. I'm pretty positive that he is my all-time favorite actor. He is so great at what he does. He really reels me in. (Please excuse the terrible pun - it's a really bad habit I've gotten into and I don't know how to stop it. I blame Dr. Gray!) I'm sure some think he's a little goofy, but he's seriously a master of his craft (and he 'ain't bad looking either). Please just watch some of his movies, he's fabulous.

I mean, just look at those eyes!

While we're on the subject, can we talk about classic films? I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I LOVE classic films. I miss the days when writing was clever and girls had gumption while still having grace. You hardly ever see that anymore in the big blockbusters that Hollywood cranks out now. So much of the money is put into explosives and too often the leading women are chosen for their cup size. Ok, so maybe I'm just picking on the Fast & the Furious series, but you have to admit, half of the movies that come out nowadays aren't fit to be seen. Which explains why I hardly ever go to the cinema anymore.

So for those of you who have not had the pleasure of discovering the world of old (I'm counting up through the 1960's) movies, I will list for you some of my favorites. This is by no means a complete list, because there literally hundreds of wonderful movies that I can't even remember right now. Not all of these are black and white and I'm even including some musicals (don't worry boys, I'm putting in some Westerns, too). I'm just going to list the titles as they come to me, so sorry that I'm not dividing them up into genres, but I do need to get a few other things done today besides finally posting on my blog after almost a month of silence (btw, sorry 'bout that). We'll start with some classic Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart and go from there.

You Can't Take it With You
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
It's a Wonderful Life
Vivacious Lady (little known gem w/Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers)
The Philadelphia Story
The Shop Around the Corner
Big Country
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Long Hot Summer (can you say Paul Newman? *drool*)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (similar to the above)
Now Voyager
Roman Holiday
The Snake Pit
My Fair Lady
The Sound of Music
Mary Poppins (isn't Julie Andrews mesmerizing?)
Black Narcissus (nun thriller, I kid you not)
An Affair to Remember
North by Northwest
Wait Until Dark
Rear Window
My Favorite Wife
Swing Time
Holiday Inn
White Christmas
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Singin' in the Rain
The Quiet Man
The Searchers
The Longest Day
The Sons of Katie Elder
Arsenic and Old Lace
12 Angry Men
A Letter for Evie
A Place in the Sun
From Here to Eternity
The Taming of the Shrew (w/Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton)
The Ten Commandments
Lost Horizon
The Barefoot Contessa
Three Coins in the Fountain

That's what I can think of for now. Are there any you would add to the list? Please share, because this list suddenly seems urgent. Like the kind of thing I should have started years ago.

In parting. I've thrown in a few more shots of me a la iSight camera (I may have gotten a little carried away . . . but doesn't everyone have impromptu dress-up photo shoots in front their computer in the middle of the day?). I am a little embarrassed to post pictures of myself. I'm often the one jumping out of the frame when someone is yelling, "CHEESE!". And I've never been that girl who brings her digital camera everywhere to take self-portraits with each of her friends. (You know the shot with their faces squished together and the arm that is holding the camera extended out to the side?) But I couldn't help myself. The temptation to play dress-up was too great and I thought these two turned out to be especially glamorous. I was going for drama Bette Davis style.

By the way, did you know that if you use enough light, your nose almost completely disappears? Fabulous! Should have thought of it years ago. I could have avoided so much teasing in middle school.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Regular Travel

This post is coming to you from the JetBlue terminal of the Long Beach Airport. Can I just say that this is a very small little place? Definitely smaller than my high school gym. Possibly as small as my elementary school gym? The construction is more like the portables, though.

Did you notice how that guy looks like a giant?
Yup it's pretty tight in here.
And when I say tight, I'm not
talking about how awesome it is.

What am I doing here, you ask. Well here it is.

Many moons ago when I was making my travel plans to come home for Christmas, I felt some kind of urgency to get the best deal I could get before prices rose closer to the holidays. So in the aforementioned urgency, I booked a ticket home that took me straight from Salt Lake International Airport to my beloved JFK. At the same time, I apparently booked a return flight that cleverly took me straight from my beloved JFK to Long Beach Airport to Salt Lake International. Wait, what? I'm flying PAST Utah all the way to the opposite coast only to get on another plane so that I can get to Utah? I really don't remember choosing this. I hate layovers and I hate long flights, so I must have been momentarily out of wits when I chose this for myself. But it WAS my choice (so they tell me), so I will live with it.

The first flight wasn't too bad. JetBlue gives you free DirectTV, so I took advantage by bringing along my earbuds. My biggest tender mercy of this trip so far was seeing a rerun of the Closer which I had never seen (How did that even happen? I don't know). That was an hour that went by quickly. After that, I was disappointed to find out that it wasn't a Closer marathon :( I did watch a little bit of the Usher story and a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. The rest is a blur. What I do remember was popping Ricola herbal throat drops the ENTIRE time. I'm not even kidding.

You know when you feel the slightest tickle on the side of your throat (this is of course the opposite side as the side that is all sore and has a lump in it because you've had a cold and talked WAY too much in the last couple of days and now you have no voice) and you try not to think about it because you don't want to cough in the middle of sacrament meeting? But the more you try NOT thinking about it, the more you do, so you fumble for a cough drop as the coughing begins, and even after you put the cough drop in your mouth, somehow it doesn't seem to work right away and you're coughing so bad that you are crying? Yeah, that was happening to me today (and also when I was out to dinner last night trying to play it cool). Except this time I wasn't trying to not cough because I didn't want to interrupt church (or look like a dork in front of a really awesome guy). This time, I didn't want to cough because when you cough on a plane, everyone looks at you and thinks to themselves, "you're infecting us all!!!" And I surely didn't want to attract that kind of attention, did I? So I literally consumed a full bag of Ricola herbal throat drops today. Luckily I still have more to cover my next little flight to Salt Lake.

I should mention another tender mercy that I experienced today. I haven't needed to blow my nose like crazy. In fact, I was able to breathe through my nose the entire trip. This is great, of course, because blowing your nose and making those sounds that indicate you probably have some kind of nasty sinus infection also gets people thinking. For the most part, my only tell tale sickness signs were my barely-there raspy smoker's voice and having a tissue on hand for the inconspicuous nose pass.

Also a tender mercy or at least an upside to modern day technology: that even this teeny tiny terminal has WiFi so that I can pass the time by writing a blog post.

So here's to looking at the bright side. I made it thus far without too many problems. And for that I am grateful.

I WOULD like to make a small complaint, though. Why do I have to pay almost $9.00 for a sandwich that tastes like it was made 3 days ago?