Friday, December 25, 2009

it's the season of grace

The other day I was chatting with a friend, and he asked me how I go about setting priorities. I thought out loud about it (and by "out loud" I mean "into the chat box") and was generally unhelpful for a while as I thought about what priorities I have and why they are that way.

Then I came across my one piece of good advice, that I have continued to think about the past couple days.

I set my priorities depending on who will be disappointed if I don't complete x. I work hard as a secretary because disappointing Brother G is one of the worst things I could do. I worked hard as a student so I didn't disappoint myself with poor grades. I work hard at doing ... fun things so I don't disappoint ... my natural man. I clean my room every few weeks because it disappoints my parents when I don't.

When I was doing physical therapy last November, I had the absolute hardest time doing my exercises regularly. I didn't know the therapist, and didn't really care if they all got mad at me for not doing them (come to think of it, I still have a problem with this...) but when I told my friend that I wasn't doing my exercises, he would remind me almost every day. I cared what he thought of me and my diligence, so I did my exercises. Sometimes.

Church things ... I struggle with sometimes. I was wondering why when I realized: Too often I think of God as someone more abstract than, say, my friends. I think less about disappointing Him because he's not right there to look disappointed at me. This is a problem, obviously, and since I realized it I've been trying to remedy it.

Brother G, besides being my boss, is YM President in our ward and a family friend. Last Sunday he gave a talk with a nice little insight I would like to share, since it kind of ties in to what I was saying. It was the Christmas program, of course, and he mentioned how there was no room at the inn for the Savior so they put him off to the side in the stable.

Then he said something like, "I think we also tend to put the Savior off to the side in a stable in our hearts instead of his rightful place on the throne."

We hear things like that every year, but I still like this one. It's helped me a lot this week.

"The Atheist Christmas Carol" ~ Vienna Teng

[slightly ironic, yes?]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

photographs framed in reeds

So, my sisters and my mom are going through our photo albums for pictures to scan onto the computer. My second scrapbook (the one they handed to me) is very short; come high school I had very few photos taken.

I did, however, have quite a few pictures of me and our fake sister the day after Homecoming, when our hair was still done and in our lovely dresses. I love that dress; it's the only formal I've ever owned and I got it for less than $40[1]. After staring at the photos of us for a while, I went downstairs and decided to try it on once more.

(It still fits.)

As I stared at myself in the mirror, I felt very wistful. I thought about the times I've worn that dress (one high school Homecoming, one college Homecoming), the time I planned to wear it and ended up in the hospital all weekend instead, and the times I could hope to wear it. I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to wear it again, which makes me sad and reveals my lack of faith in dating.

But then I started really looking, and my thoughts changed direction. In all those pictures my hair was wonderfully coiffed -- curled or straight, it was long and gorgeous. Today, it's short and spiky (I woke up with incredible bedhead and never bothered to fix it because I stay at home all day anyway) and while it's soft it's not ... pretty. It'll be years before I can count my hair one of my beauties again. So it doesn't matter if I don't get to wear my beloved dress for years and years, because I won't look right. It's the kind of dress a princess wears, not a punk.

Oh well. At least I'm alive and healthy, right?

"Pontchartrain" ~ Vienna Teng

[1]Let me tell you, after going wedding dress shopping with my sister, where the cheapest dress is just under $500, I feel even luckier to have made that purchase.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

strange how you fit into me

I should be working on devotionals right now, but I just hit a dead end -- a talk that is referenced in the Teaching Resources Manual for the scripture block is actually a video on my list ... but there's an apostrophe in the title that means the file is lost (don't ask me why, but this isn't the first time it's happened). I am saddened by this -- it's not often I have a perfect fit for the block, and now I can't even use it -- so I will drown my sorrows in a blog post.

I've been editing my previous post with new languages Moodle keeps telling me my page is in. So, er, check that out.

Sunday afternoon, when I was in Provo, I was so tired and my friend let me sleep in her bed. I had a nice nap (I don't even take naps but I succeeded, which gives you a measure of my exhaustion), and I think it was a bit because of her Cuddle-Monkey. She has a nice little stuffed monkey on her bed that her missionary gave her, and I ended up using it and slept so well.

So, last night I was thinking about it and saw, in my closet, a little white dog. She* was in a big canvas bag full of all the goodies I got from the hospital my first month. Scrapbooking materials, another blanket ... they treat you well at Primary Children's if you're there for Bingo day. I also found the socks my home teachers got me for my birthday that I couldn't find for the life of me.

Anyway, so I got the little Goggy out and cuddled with her. She was nice and soft but I fondly (if vaguely -- chemo does that) remembered a lovely stuffed bear that I got as a prize for one of the Bingo days. I slept with it constantly the whole time I was there ... then left it in the hospital. Very sad.

I still slept pretty well last night. Slept right through scriptures (again). But I've been thinking about this.

So, my friend got her Cuddle-Monkey from her missionary. I have decided that it would be nice for my fiance to get me a soft cuddly thing for an engagement present or wedding gift, if he doesn't want to make me a clock. And if I don't just fall in love with Goggy and spurn all other stuffed animals. Wouldn't it be sweet, though?

Yep. I'll file that away in "things-about-me-that-may-come-in-useful-later-if-I-don't-change-my-mind."

*Knowing my luck, it's probably a boy dog. But I named it a girl name first thing (though I've decided against the name since and now call it Goggy) so ... it's a girl now.

"Eric's Song" ~ Vienna Teng**

**By the way...went to her concert on Saturday. It was amazing! I'm so glad I went. Had a great time with Nathaniel (and Kyra and Kevin too)! Hurrah.

Friday, December 11, 2009

and the words, they're everything and nothing

I recently added Google Toolbar. As I tootle along in our online classroom Moodle, Google Translate sometimes says the weirdest things:

This page is in Polish. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Hungarian. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Bokmal. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Swedish. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Slovak. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Czech. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Lithuanian. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Danish. Would you like to translate?
This page is in Simplified Chinese. Would you like to translate?

Never Romanian, though. Even though we have a Romanian class. Or Portuguese, despite our Brasilian class.

About 1/8 of the time (if that) I do actually want to translate from one of the above languages, but even then I'm finding Google Toolbar a bit ... tiresome, because then I have to translate back. Google and its plenitude of free products unsettles me in general.

Oh well.

"Recessional" ~ Vienna Teng

Sunday, December 6, 2009

it's the season of possible miracle cures, where hope is currency

I tend to make long, laundry-list posts when I have a lot to say. Here is one of them (perhaps the first for this blog). Enjoy!


I. Last Friday evening, perhaps even last-last Friday evening, we were going down to Utah Valley for my grandparents' 50th anniversary celebration, and, since it was the day after Thanksgiving, we were listening to Christmas music. My mother said suddenly, "Ooh, I just had a Christmas frisson!"

A discussion about what "frisson" meant followed. My siblings were enlightened.

I got the CD from my friend Marie for Christmas three years ago, and as I listened to it I found that I wasn't feeling any delicious frissons in anticipation of Christmas. This time of year, with that music playing, makes me wistful and nostalgic, for no particular reason (besides that I'm crazy). Perhaps the echoes of lost love, since that sounds nice and poetic.

I guess I am excited for Christmas. Not much to look forward to -- I don't have finals, I'm already spending time with my family, I don't think I'll be getting any presents -- but a tiny bit of the spirit of the season is within me still.

Mostly, though, I feel the cold reflected in that small place in my heart reserved for the unrequited love of my youth. Or something.

II. Three months of not having to go to the hospital has really made me resent the trips we have to take now. Which reminds me...six months since my surgery, and I still have a hole in my leg. Not that it matters anymore! Bah.

III. Friday (as in, three days ago this time) I went down to BYU with my colleagues/supervisors for one of them to make a presentation to the religion faculty. I learned a lot about teaching, and a bit about myself as well (they're all about improving each other through frank discussion of faults). It was nice. My favorite Creamery flavor, German Chocolate Crunch, is back. I almost cried with happiness.

The main problem with the trip was this: we were scheduled to be done at 1:30. In fact, we were done. But then they started chatting and then went and visited someone else, and chatted for like another hour. I'd told a friend that I'd call him to say hi while I was in town, but then told him that I couldn't because we were leaving. If I'd known we were going to be there another hour and a half, we could've totally done a crossword puzzle. Sorry, Tobias. We also had to reschedule Bro G's musical number rehearsal with my Dad. So sad. And so ... predictable.

IV. Pretty much as soon as I got home, we raced off to the high school/Logan Institute choir concert. It was good. One of the songs was too long, but other than that they all did a great job.

Now, I'm Miss Human Faucet sometimes. This night was not one of them, but there is one time where I came the closest to crying. Not during any of the sweet songs, or the touching Nativity scene, nope.

During the ballroom dance number.

(You may disagree, but in my book, for me, I call that Pathetic.)

V. No rest for me on Saturday, though. I spent half the day at the Logan Tabernacle for the dress rehearsal of Cache Children's Concert and Cantate Choirs. I'm pretty awesome, but I still needed page-turners. Oh, the shame.

The concert that evening went mostly well. I totally slaughtered "Silent Night" (but I do think the director took it faster than I was used to) and my back hurt from sitting on the bench so long, but overall a success. No dropped music.

My favorite part? Sitting on the padded bench next to the Concert Choir while the Candlelight Carolers sang. My quintessential 17-year-old crush was there, and oh man, was he cute. My dad couldn't resist teasing me, even though I pointedly did not mention anything about him. *sigh* He seems so nice and he sings so well. If I could find a man my own age with similar characteristics I might not have to look to my littler sister's age group, you know.


Maybe next time I'll make different posts for each subject. Not my style, but it's probably more professional. I'm all about being professional. It makes it hard to find a subject line, too...

"The Atheist Christmas Carol" ~ Vienna Teng