Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm just never going to get back to that story, am I

My brother-in-law keeps insisting that I mention him in my blog.

Because you know how my blog makes people famous. Also, I can use it to bend and shape reality. I could probably give people the ability to fly if I mentioned them here in this blogging land.

So there you go, Ben. Go and fly. Just make sure to give your kids rides, otherwise they'll be cranky for days.

Speaking of the marvelous kids of my sister and brother-in-law, have I mentioned yet that they're marvelous? And that they like to get rides from their flying dad?

Seriously, though--I have really enjoyed being around these kids for the past several days. I keep getting all amazed at how funny and how articulate and how gosh-darn-it adorable they are. Also, they apparently think I'm hilarious. Or possibly just weird and crazy. But, either way, I think my 'Favorite Auntie' status is almost in the bag. (Now, if I could just learn how to fly...)

Also, it is really, really, really ultra nice to see what great parents my sister & brother-in-law are. I think that a hefty chunk of the greatness of their children is due to the greatness of themselves. (Did that sentence make any sense?)

Also, the sound of my three-month-old neice cooing is just about enough to make me melt into a puddle of sticky auntie goo. (Goo! Gross!)

Um... And we leave for Utah in, like, two days! Hooray for seeing family! It's officially my favorite thing ever. Even flying couldn't be as good as this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No, it's still not the fiction story. It's better.

Guys, I am amazed. I've been spending about the last hour just going over tonight again and again in my head and I'm just. I'm just amazed. About a lot of things.

Let me back up a bit.

Tonight, I needed to get my temple recommend renewed, because I had foolishly never gotten the new kind with the barcodes that are now necessary in at least the U.S. temples. And my mom really, really wanted for us to all do some work together while I'm home visiting the fam.

So tonight, I needed an interview with a member of the stake presidency, as I had previously been interviewed by a member of the bishopric. The only problem was that the chapel where the interviews take place is a little difficult to get to by using public transportation. So difficult, in fact, that I had never been there before. Although it is (nearly) right next to the Boston Temple, which I had visited a few times, although only once by using the MBTA.


So, because the interviews started at 7pm, and I wanted to be sure to get done early so I could get back and finish packing, I left my apartment about 6pm, thinking that it would take me about an hour (give or take 15 minutes or so) to get to the appropriate subway stop, take the bus, and walk the necessary distance to the chapel.

It took three hours.

First of all, the train ride into the center of town was rather unpleasantly wet. We had a thunderstorm system move through the area, and the train apparently was not fully protected against the wiles of nature; the roof dripped the whole way into downtown.

Also, when we were about halfway to the stop where I had to change subway lines, the driver of the train announced that the station I needed was closed due to an emergency, and that we could get out either a stop before or a stop after to catch a shuttle bus service to the parts of the other line that were down.

So, not wanting to sit in my ever-increasing little pool of train-filtered rainwater any longer, I opted for the earlier stop, got off the train, walked up to street level, and walked over to where hordes of people were standing around, waiting for the shuttle buses. (Remember, this was right in the middle of evening rush hour, and this is one of the busiest stations in the system, I think.) So, I stood in the crowd for a long, long time, (I had forgotten my phone, and I had no watch, so I had no idea what time it was), a bus or two came by, which were immediately rushed by the crowd, and I got a little closer to the front of the mass of bodies. Then, buses for the other direction kept coming up and passing us. Over. And over. And over.

By this time, I was seriously starting to have doubts about whether or not I would make the interview. I thought about just giving it up as a bad job, but the thought of missing out on possibly getting the recommend, when I might get it if I perservered, was intolerable. I couldn't let myself give up.

So, I stood there for even more time. And more. While glistening in the humidity and rather warm air.

Finally a bus came that was going the right direction, so the crowd pressed onboard, and we were at last on our way.

Then, before we had even gotten to the next stop, the bus broke down.

Apparently, these buses are meant to hold about 50 people max, with 40 in the seats, and maybe about an additional 10 standing in the aisles. The bus driver estimated that there were about 110 people on board. The hydraulics system on the right-hand side of the bus broke down, so the bus started leaning right. Hard. And we couldn't go faster than about 10mph. Everybody tried to stand over to the left of the bus (which was where I had been, so I got a bit squished), but we eventually had to pull over.

A bunch of the passengers hopped on other buses, (also tightly packed), but there wasn't room for everyone. After a few minutes, the bus driver had the rest of us get back on the bus, but at that point, we were down to maybe 20 people. We all sat or stood on the left side of the bus, and made sort-of good time past the first stop, but unfortunately, the bus just couldn't keep going, and we all had to get off at the second stop.

So, we did. And waited while a lot of 'not knowing what was going on' happened.

And here I have to make a comment: one of the funny things about this whole experience (it was now probably not quite 8 o'clock, so most of us had been trying to get to our destinations for a couple of hours) was that it broke the silence that normally exists between public transportation users. It's as if this invisible (yet impenetrable) barrier exists around each person, and crossing that barrier by chatting with someone you don't know is a sort of serious social taboo. Sort of.

But that taboo just could not survive the wonderfully improbable and highly impossible situation in which we all found ourselves. We all started laughing at how crazy and horrible and frustrating and funny it all was. (One girl's laughter sounded a bit hysterical, but I think she made it through okay.) One of the funniest moments was when the bus driver, in frustration with having to take the bus out of service, and the complete lack of direction he was getting from his superiors, turned to the guy in the front seat and said, "This is what I have to put up with. Stay in school, man."

So, there we all were, outside of Kendall Square station, wondering how long it would take to get another bus to us so that we could finally get to Harvard Square station, where apparently the subway was up and running. Then, one of the T-employees in the know told us that Kendall Square was now open for northbound trains. Joyously, we began to frolick downstairs, and found out that we had to go in the other side of the station. So, with joy liberally mixed with trepedation, we made our way down the other side, where we were able to board a train. That was going the right direction. And it really did pull out of the station.

(And the cool thing is that everybody was still talking to each other.)

So, we finally got to Harvard, where I got off to figure out which bus to take to get up to the chapel. But, naturally, there were no schedules available for the bus that I thought I needed to take (the 78). So, I grabbed a different schedule instead (the 77) and went to go see which bus came first. It was the 78. (By the way, I later realized that the 78 route was printed on the 77 schedule as well.)

By this time, it was dark outside, (it was about 8:30, according to the clock on the bus), so when we pulled out of Harvard Square station, I realized that finding the right stop was going to be tricky. Then, as we went along and along and even more along, I began thinking, 'None of this looks familiar. I really, really do not know where we are right now. I bet I took the wrong bus.' Which was discouraging, as you may imagine, since I had just spent the past two and a half hours trying to make the interview. Again, I kind of wanted to give up, but I thought I'd just ride the bus to the end of the route and then back to Harvard station again if I hadn't seen the temple along the way. (Remember, the chapel was next to the temple, so I was going to use the temple as my guidepost. Because it was lit up. And thus easy to see.)

One by one, (well, occasionally in twos and threes), all the passengers got off the bus until it was just me. It was very dark outside. I couldn't see anything, and I really didn't quite know where we were on the route. Finally, I saw the temple up ahead, so I signalled the bus driver to stop. He made a turn under an overpass, and pulled up at a covered bus stop, where I got off.

It was completely deserted.

And did I mention it was dark?

And I was armed only with an umbrella?

So, I cursed myself for the biggest idiot the world has ever known, and walked briskly, weilding my umbrella like a club, as I walked under the overpass, convinced that lurking in the shadows were murderers and rapists and probably rabid dogs.

Guys, in all seriousness, I was actually really terrified. And I really did think that I had been an idiot to get off the bus. Because it was really dark. I cannot even tell you how dark it was under that overpass. It was one of those moments when you realize that something really bad really, really could happen to you, and probably will.

But, I made it through. And if there were rapists, murderers and rabid dogs lurking around, I didn't see them. Which is good, because I don't think my umbrella would have been quite enough. So, I started walking up the hill towards the temple, still not quite sure where exactly the chapel was located.

Also? It was past 9 o'clock now. I knew that once I found the chapel, it would be deserted, and I'd have to walk some more in the terrifying dark in order to find a bus stop where I would wait and continue to be terrified until maybe a bus came along before horrible things happened to me. And I would go home in disgrace.

Also, there was no sidewalk. So I kind of had to walk in the street a little.

By this time, I could have wept with frustration. I almost did. I felt like I had tried so hard, and it still wasn't going to be enough. I was still going to have to call my mom and tell her that I couldn't go with the family to the temple because I was a dope and didn't have the right recommend and then.

There was the sign for the chapel.

So, I turned down the street (lit with a few streetlamps) and saw a parking lot in the distance.

It had cars in it. Not very many, but there were cars.

I got up to the chapel door, convinced that it would be locked.

It wasn't.

I walked inside, convinced that I'd find someone cleaning the building, or people playing late-night basketball or something.

I saw a girl in a skirt sitting on a couch. Which was the most wonderful thing I could have seen just then. I tentatively asked if they were still doing interviews for temple recommends (I think it was about a quarter after 9pm by this time) and she said that she was waiting for her own recommend interview, and pointed out the person I needed to talk to in order to sign in.

So I signed in.

And I sat down.

And I tried really hard not to cry because I was just feeling this sense of being amazed and awed and stunned that after all the halting and mishaps and obstacles, I had made it. They were still there. I could still have a temple recommend.

When the stake president called me into his office, he talked with me for a moment, then asked if I'd be willing to share a bit of my testimony with him. I felt a rush of the spirit, and I bore my testimony with a more firm conviction than I've felt in a long time. And again, I struggled not to cry.

The interview went fine, a brother from the other singles ward gave me a ride to the nearest T stop so I wouldn't have to wait in the dark for a bus, and I got home a little after 10:30.

Guys, I think there is something really valuable about this experience. I think sometimes the things that are good and right for us to do come very easily; the way opens up for us suddenly, spectacularly, like the parting of the Red Sea, and we walk through on dry ground towards the Promised Land.

But this was not a Red Sea moment for me. For me, this was one of those times when the thing I was supposed to do was hard, a time when all these awful (and sometimes even ridiculous) obstacles kept getting thrown in my path. And I nearly gave up. And didn't. And now I have what I needed.

The Lord shows us all kinds of tender mercies. Tonight, mine came in the form of a busted subway system, a broken bus, and a rectangular piece of (barcoded) paper that's securely stashed in my purse.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


So, I wasn't going to post anything until I got my bit of fiction finished (which is one reason why I haven't posted in awhile, because I have been doing a lot of not writing it)...

But I have to tell you about this.

I just have to.

Because you will be utterly jealous, and I kind of really want you to be.

This evening, some friends and I went to see the Boston Pops, because John Williams was conducting, which, as you know, makes the experience extra awesome. Because John Williams rocks.

Anyway--so we had tickets for the orchestra (which is a large open area on the ground floor) which means that we got to order food during the performance. So, I got Boston Creme Pie. While watching the Boston Pops. (Also, root beer.) How. Blasted. Cool. Is. That.

The music was, of course, fantastic; the orchestra played bits from Far and Away, Dr. Zhivago, the theme from the Julia Ormond Sabrina, Lawrence of Arabia (one of my favorite films), and the bulk of the evening (the second half) was taken up entirely with music from the Harry Potter films. One of the best parts of the experience was that they had montages from some of the films while they played the music. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it was awesome.

Then, when the performance was all finished, the audience was reeeeeeaaally enthusiastic. Like, they wouldn't stop clapping. So, we got an encore performance of, GET THIS, a piece of music from the new Indiana Jones movie. Mwahahaha!

Then, because the audience was seriously clap-happy, we got a SECOND encore, this time the major Indy theme.

And THEN, we got a THIRD encore, which was the E.T. theme.

After that, John Williams had to pantomime going to sleep before the audience would finally sit down and stop clapping. Seriously, folks. These performers just might want to go home.

Anyway. Now that you've all turned a wholly satisfying bright shade of green, I will leave off for this evening.

You can thank me later.

P.S. For pics, check out my roommate Pinto's blog.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In which the author continues to tell the most appalling lies.

Chapter 2

Beth paused at the bottom of her apartment building to readjust her grip on the bag of pastries and the marmot-filled cage. The hand that had held the cage had a red line across the palm where the metal had dug into it. Beth glared at the line in some disgust and asked herself for the fifteenth time just what exactly she thought she was doing.

"Why, rescuing us, of course," said a squeaky voice emanating from the general direction of the caged animals.

Beth jumped back, glad she had already set the cage down; she was sure she would have dropped it otherwise. The bag of pastries, of course, fell from her suddenly paralyzed fingers, and a single éclair fell out, landing with a gentle squelching noise right outside the marmots' cage.

"Unghrgh," Beth said, which, under the circumstances, she felt was quite a reasonable statement to make.

"Oh, don't be coy," said the voice, now unmistakably coming from one of the marmots. The one who had spoken curled its tiny paws around the wiring of the cage and pressed its nose through a small opening. The other marmot sidled over to the éclair, and began picking at it, pulling pieces into the cage and stuffing them into its mouth.

Beth sat down hard on one of the carpeted stairs.

"I'm so sorry," she said, even though she wasn't. "I always feel frustrated with characters in books who just can't seem to get over it when an animal starts talking to them, but really, it is just so astonishing when it happens in real life."

The speaking marmot shrugged, (or at least Beth thought it was a shrug; it looked so different on a marmot), then turned its head towards its companion and reached out one paw, palm up. The
éclair-eating marmot paused and swallowed, then obligingly passed over a sizable chunk of pastry. The first marmot stuffed it in its mouth, then licked both its paws thoroughly.

"Ah," it said at last. "That baker does an extraordinary job. He'd be quite a fine human if he weren't so insufferable."

Beth said, "Hmm," as noncommittally as possible, then leaned forward over her knees to peer at the cage more closely.

"Wait," she said. "Isn't there some part where you're supposed to explain just how exactly you learned how to talk, or why you're talking now, or did I miss that bit?"

The marmot looked at Beth scornfully. She didn't know how it managed it.

"Do you think we go around asking humans how they learned how to talk? Or cows? Or dung beetles? Of course not. Really," it huffed, "you people are so species-centric."

Beth blinked a couple of times, then leaned forward to rest her forehead on her knees as she sighed heavily.

"Fine," she said, her voice muffled by her speaking into her jeans. She lifted her head and looked at the marmots again. "But I don't really have time to deal with talking marmots right now, you know, even if you were to tell me how you did it. It's almost the end of the semester, for crying out loud! How about I rent a car and take you guys out to Walden Pond, eh? Would that do? I'll even give you the rest of the

éclair-eating marmot nudged the other with a furry elbow and stage-whispered, "Isn't there a lovely bakery out there in Concord? Sally Ann's, wasn't it?"

The other marmot put one paw on its companion's shoulder, and said, "Patience, Jean-Marc." Then, turning to Beth, it said, "We gladly accept your offer. In any case, it beats being drowned in the Charles River."

Several hours later, Beth pulled her Zipcar up onto the side of the road, in a woodsy area bordering Walden Pond. (She didn't feel it would be the best idea to release the marmots too close to Concord and its enticing bakeries.) She pulled the cage out of the backseat, rested it gently on the ground and undid the clasp, then stood back to allow the marmots ample room to burst forth into the wilds of Massachusetts.

They ambled out of the cage, and one of them came up and looked up at her expectantly. (She was pretty sure it was the one who had first spoken to her; its fur was a little darker than the other's.) The marmot cleared its throat. Beth looked down at it blankly.

The marmot raised itself on its hind legs and rolled its eyes. "The
éclairs?" it said, putting both paws on its rodent hips.

"Oh!" said Beth, embarrassed, and dove into the passenger-side to retrieve the bag of pastries
. "Here," she said, handing the bag over to the importunate marmot.

The marmot sniffed and said, "That's better," then started off, dragging the bag behind it.

Beth watched for a little while, and then shook her head, laughed a little to herself, and turned back to the Zipcar.

"You realize what this means, of course," she heard just as she was about to shut the front door.

"What?" she said, leaning and looking back at the retreating marmots.

The one with the bag had raised itself on its hind legs again, and cupped its paws around its mouth. "You'll get three wishes, I mean!" it shouted.

"Wha... For saving you?" Beth said.

The marmot shook its head and called out, "You read too many fairy tales! No, it's for the
éclairs!" and it turned back and shuffled along through the leaves until it and the other marmot were completely out of sight.

(To be continued...)

Friday, May 09, 2008

In which the author tells the most appalling lies.


She pressed one finger into the small tense spot between her two eyebrows and regarded the computer screen with frank incredulity.

There was so much space to fill!

And so much to tell.

She supposed that she ought to just start, but she worried that no one would believe her. No one could possibly believe her, not even the bit about the estate in England, let alone the unicorns.

But she knew that the only thing she could do was to record it all, record it for posterity, record it for the little urchins on the street who looked to her to write down her own life in the most inept fashion possible. She owed it to them all.

So she decided she would tell the very, very exciting story of the past several weeks, and she would tell it in the third person, because she knew it would help her to look at everything wholly objectively.

"Right," she muttered to herself (causing her rommate to glance over at her in alarm). "I'll do it."
And so she began:

Chapter 1

It all began with the marmots... No...earlier than that. It all began the morning she decided to have a bagel for breakfast instead of an egg.

Beth had been eating eggs for breakfast steadily for roughly the past year of her life. And while she admired the efficient packaging, not to mention the cheerfully bright yellow of the yolk, she found that morning that she had simply had enough. She had had enough eggs.

Unfortunately, despite her desire to eat a bagel, she was unable to find one anywhere in the apartment. (She even checked the 'secret shelf' where one of her roommates stashed particularly divine eatables.) So, to appease her craving, she dashed down the stairs of her apartment building, and down the street to a fine little French bakery. Which did not sell bagels. Alas.

However, while there, she noticed that there was a large cage set up behind the counter of the bakery. Intrigued even more than she was hungry, Beth inquired about the two animals that circled the interior, occasionally snapping at passing customers.

"Oh, zoze [those]?" said the man behind the counter, in an obviously fake French accent. "Why, zey are ze marmottes."

"Marmottes?" murmered Beth musingly.

"Oui, mademoiselle," replied the fake French bakery man.

Beth cocked her head in a manner which was meant to imply charming confusion (for even with a fake French accent, the man was not bad looking) and said, "But why marmots?"

"Ze marmottes, mademoiselle, zey haf been pilfering ze pastries!" cried the man.

Beth gasped in shock, for it is not every day that one meets rodentia who share one's tastes so completely.

"Thieving marmots," she said, shaking her head gently to express just the right degree of sympathy. "Shocking indeed. So, what do you plan to do with them?"

"Ah," the not-French man said, looking away from Beth and rubbing his upper arm with one hand, "Zat is perhaps not a sing [thing] I should be saying to ze young lady."

Beth hurridely glanced around for the young lady he spoke of and saw a woman with a parasol just exiting the building.

Once the woman had left, Beth turned back to the man and said, "Now that she's gone, won't you tell me?"

The man's face flushed, and a vein throbbed in his left temple. He pounded his two fists on the counter, causing the eclairs in the display case to jump up and turn upside-down. "I will drown zem all!" he shouted, causing the elderly gentleman in the corner to glance up nervously and fold his newspaper with some speed.

As the bell over the door marked the exit of the elderly gentleman, Beth turned her mind to the problem at hand. While she could not, in her heart of hearts, advocate pastry theft, she found she could advocate the drowning of the marmots even less.

Glancing over at the marmot-filled cage, and leaning forward to emphasize her earnestness, Beth said, "I'll take them."

The man of dubious nationality rubbed one hand through his hair, causing most of it to stand entirely on end (which, incidentally, made him just a little bit less becoming), and said, "Mademoiselle, you know not zese marmottes. Zey are full of ze tricks. Zey will make you meezerable, I believe."

Beth drew breath to argue: she did not care how miserable the marmots made her; she would not let them be drowned. But the baker spoke again before she could reply.

"But, I have not ze time to go to ze river today. I have ze orders up to here," he said, pointing to his left eyebrow. "You can have ze marmottes. But know zat I have given you ze warning, mademoiselle."

He looked grimly at Beth.

Beth looked grimly back.

Then the man who was not French shrugged, and shoved the cage forward with his foot. Beth smiled at him and reached for her purse.

"Now how much are those eclairs?" she asked.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So this is what it's like when the world is alive.

Just an observation, before I get down to the nitty gritty of creating an awesome fictional account of what exciting things have been going on in my life for the past several months (hint: I believe it involves finding out that I'm the heiress to a vast estate in England, and that's only the boring part):

Despite my occasional (or, more or less constant) self-image issues, I've discovered something very important. It's impossible to feel anything less than beautiful while walking beneath a long line of trees that are raining white petals down on you.

Seriously. It's like frolicking through the fields in a white dress, or facing the sunset while the wind whips your hair behind you.

It's just one of those things.

And I love, love, LOVE that the world is coming alive again. I always forget over winter just how beautiful it all is, how vibrant everything is. It amazes me every time I step outside. And it makes me feel vibrant and alive as well.

That is all.

Now I must continue working on my fictional account.

(What do you think about unicorns?)