Thursday, October 20, 2005

the flower at Grandpa's wake

From the outside, a funeral home looks welcoming. Flowers are planted in neat rows, the grass is neatly trimmed, and the sidewalk is swept. The large wooden doors, decorated in elaborate ivy designs are clean and polished. It’s hard to imagine that dead people are carried in and out of them on a regular basis.
Just inside, there is a hallway with blue-gray carpet and light blue walls. There are mirrors put up at modest intervals, framed with a light above and an end table below. Each end table has a little drawer with a single knob and a vase of flowers placed neatly in the center. What do they keep in the little drawer?
I am with my family and they were giving off a nervous air. My father and brothers are in the suits they normally wear for church. My mom is wearing a black skirt and dark blouse and my sister is wearing a dark-colored dress. My dress is the prettiest I own: burgundy and velvet.
At the end of hallway there is a right turn before you go into the room where the casket is displayed. The small crowd of my family turns the corner together in a large mass. I wonder if it is hard to turn a casket through this corner. Grandpa must have been carried through this little walkway; did the carriers bump him against the sides of the wall?
We enter the room. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, chairs set up facing a pulpit and more flowers. In another corner there is a television showing calm nature scenes to set the mood. A small upright piano was standing opposite of Grandpa.
Grandma is standing by Grandpa talking to Dennis, her son. There are people all over the place, some looking at Grandpa, some ignoring the existence of his dead body. What am I supposed to look at? Should I go admire some flowers? Should I go talk to relatives I’ve never met? Should I go see Grandpa?
I walk around slowly weaving between groups of people and head towards the piano. I had brought some music, so I move the bench out. The bench was old and had scratches all over it. Placing my foot on the right-most pedal, I see that it is easily the most worn of the three. I lean up and try turning the light one. Click. Click. Oh it needs to be plugged in. Noticing me at the piano, my mom starts towards me. Ignoring her, I open my music and start playing.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” She has been asking that all day. She thinks I should be too distraught to play at the funeral.
“I’m fine.”
“Ok…You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
I run through the piece a few times. It’s not hard. I’ve been playing it for at least four months now. Some relatives mention how nice I play and I give up at it. I guess I should go take a look at Grandpa.
Scooting the bench back, I get up and walk to the casket. Grandpa is wearing a nice suit and looks very peaceful- like he can wake up any second now. His hands are lying on top of each other on his belly, but he’s not holding any flowers. This is not how Disney portrays it in the movies. I think I’ll remedy that. I grab a bright orange carnation off an arrangement. Maybe I should grab roses…no carnations last longer. Taking the carnation, I try to slide it into the gap between his hands.
It won’t go in. I try again. No luck. I continue jabbing the end of the carnation against the dead man’s palms. His hands are like hard rubber; every time I poke the flower into the gap, it bounces back at me. I lean over Grandpa and down look at his hands from his perspective, trying to get the carnation in just right so I don’t have to feel the hardness of his hands through the flower. I try to slip the flower in, with some success. The flower is there all right. It just needs to be positioned just right….
Oh crap. I just touched Grandpa’s stiff, dead hands! I touched a dead man! What do I do? Is that bad? Are you allowed to touch dead people? Did my mom see?
I search around me for any sign that I was offending people…none. Ok. I can handle that. I just have to get away from the casket before I do it again. The piano! Yes. That’s safe.
Walking briskly back towards the piano, I sit down in one quick motion and play until the wake is over. The piano keys seem stiffer than they were and aren’t playing like I would like them. A few relatives comment on my dress. Grandma comments on the flower in Grandpa’s hand.
“It looks nice.”
“I did it.” And desecrated his dead body while I was at it.
“Thanks. I like it.”
I nod and get ready to go back to the hotel. I’ll be back tomorrow for the funeral, the orange carnation blaring that I had touched a dead man.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How to Make a Bed

When I wake up in the morning, I usually go straight to the shower because I feel dirty or straight to the kitchen because I feel hungry. It is not until I return to my room to grab a book or to refresh my hair that I realize that the bed has not been made. Panic ensues as I check the clock. Classes start in fifteen minutes. Making the bed takes between five to twenty minutes.
Of course, there is the easy way out, pulling the blanket over the mess to hide the unsightly bundle of sheets. This is the rule of choice most days, as I grab and apple and run out the door.
Making the bed is much more complex than that these days, with all the types of beds and blankets and our hectic schedules. We are not all hotel maids, trained in transforming strewn cloth into welcoming perfection.

Sheets
Sheets, whether red, polka-dotted, or paisley, are a staple in the bedroom. When making a bed, you must have the right size of sheet, or else you will find hideous wrinkles as you slip into sleep. This is most obvious with the fitted sheet. Now, it used to be that fitted sheets were bunched on the two ends of the bed: the head end and the foot end. However, lately, I’ve been finding fitted sheets that have been bunched on the two sides. This causes great confusion while making a bed, especially under a strict time-limit. To avoid this confusion, it is always best to find the tag before laying a fitted sheet on a bed. The tag will indicate which side of the sheet faces up and also where the foot of the sheet can be found.
If fitted sheets were our only worries, making the bed might not be such a chore. The flat sheet is where a lot of trouble comes in. Do you fold it over at the top or does the sheet just come up to a certain point? How far from the top of the bed do you make the fold? This is usually personal preference. Remember to keep the ultimate objective in mind. Decide beforehand how you want the sheet folded or not folded; if you do not, you waste a lot of time adjusting and re-adjusting the sheet for the perfect look. It might be best to do this when you have more time. Practice making the bed on a Saturday afternoon until you get it just right. Always tuck the foot end of the sheet in first before you continue on to the sides.

Beds
The biggest problem with beds is the orientation. Nearly always, the bed is situated against a wall on one or two sides. Having the head of the bed at a wall is not normally a large problem; practice over time will fix that, but having the side of the bed against the wall will increase the making the bed time by at last a couple of minutes. The fitted sheet doesn’t pose too much of a problem, but the flat does. Unless you can fit yourself in the small space between the wall and the mattress, you end up having to climb on top of the bed, lift the top mattress while you are on it and quickly shove the sheet between the two mattresses. The most common problem with this is the evenness of the tuck and any wrinkles that occur because you were on the bed. The best bet with this is to tuck the side near the wall first, so that when you tuck the open side, you can compensate for any wrinkles or unevenness. It is also fine to not tuck that side of the sheet between the mattresses, but let it hang against the wall; no one will notice.
The size of the bed is also problematic. Making a twin size bed can easily be down by yourself; however, a full-, queen-, or king-sized bed might require two or more people. Now, it is possible to make one of these larger beds by yourself, but only if you don’t mind running around the outside of the bed, back and forth, while you get it right. This technique will lengthen the amount of time it takes to make the bed. There is also the make-the-bed-while-you-are-on-top-of-it technique, but the maker who follows that course of study will lose points in the wrinkle department. Ideally, when you make a large bed, find a friend and use the buddy-system; doing it together will speed up the process (minding that you don’t argue about the technique or style while doing it).

Comforters and blankets
Comforters are relatively easy, they can be thrown onto a bed, and as long as it hangs evenly off the edge, it will greatly improve the look of the bed making. Sometimes, in colder regions, it is necessary to have more than one blanket for the purpose of keeping warm at night. If such a blanket is needed, this blanket is tucked into the mattress like the sheets are (foot end first, sides second). The comforter is then laid on top of the blanket in the usual fashion.

Pillows and throw pillows
Pillows are essential in sleeping. It is customary to keep the pillows near the head of the bed. Whether or not they lay under or on top of the comforter is personal preference and style. This also needs to be decided before attempting to make a bed.
Throw pillows are usually found on bed in which women sleep. Because of this, before placing them on the bed, check with the female sleeper how she wants them to be placed. If you do not do this, consequences could be disastrous, especially if you also want to be sleeping in that bed later and not on the couch. It is also fashionable to keep the throw pillows at the foot of the bed in a dramatic and stylistic pile.

Headboards, Footboards, and Four-poster beds
Extra stylistic addendums to the bed can also create trouble. Headboards are highly common and only create problems when the maker is applying the fitted sheet. Blessed is the bed with only a headboard, for the maker can cut minutes off his chore. Having a footboard not only complicates the fitted sheet, but the flat sheet, too. I once had an oak bed that had head- and footboards. Tucking the flat sheet between the mattresses is a painful chore. The best way to avoid scrapes on your knuckles and wrists during this step in the process is to slightly lift the mattress as you shove the sheet in there. I highly recommend having a partner help with this, unless, of course, you have a large supply of Disney Princess Band-Aids on hand. In dealing with four-poster beds, use the same techniques.

Loft and Bunk beds
Any woman attempting to make her child’s bunk bed understands the mess involved. This high-wire act can only be done while on the mattress, making the tucking more difficult. There are also other dangers such as unsteady ladders up to the bed or ceiling fans near the maker’s head. Authorities on this subject recommend wearing a sneaker for climbing up the ladder so as to avoid splinters and to keep a keen balance. Please make sure that any ceiling fan is turned off and the blades are away from the maker. Do not attempt making a bunk bed unless you have at least 10 minutes devoted to tucking and re-tucking. Blankets pose a natural problem; the safest solution is to fold the blanket neatly and keep it at the foot of the bed. Doing this will avoid unnecessary tucking and consequent scrapes.

Once the bed is made, the maker usually rushes out to run daily errands. The bed is left alone all day and there is no one to appreciate it until later that night, while crawling around in the dark, the sleeper slides a foot between the wrinkle-free sheets, and takes a deep breath, “Ahhh…”

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

sex education

I never saw the girl across the street go to school. I always wondered why not. She was about my age and ought to be in second or third grade, but I had never seen her waiting at the end of her driveway for the bus. She lived with her grandfather in a white ranch exactly opposite our cream two-story house. I don’t know where her parents were; I want to say that they were divorced.

I never knew how I felt about Samantha. Her grandfather and she would let us go in their pool sometimes. They were the only ones in the neighborhood who had a pool, so this was a treat. I went to Bible camp one summer with her; those kids knew all the travels of Abraham and Lot and even people you never heard of. They don’t teach that stuff in Primary. I felt really stupid compared to the other kids. But other than these, I never saw her out of her house. I wonder what she did in there all day.

Samantha had beautiful long dark hair. It would lay on her shoulders in a messy, carefree way. Her eyes were searching; she made me feel naked.

Her mailbox was just beyond a ditch in her yard, close to the white gravel road. It had been a while since I had played with her, so when I saw Samantha out by the mailbox, I ran over there.

“Hi.” The long grass by the road was rarely mowed. It was making my legs itchy. I fidgeted with my legs a bit, reaching down to relieve the itch, but only causing it to be worse. A grasshopper jumped onto my leg, I brushed him aside.

"Hi.” Her greeting was drawn out. “I’m just getting the mail.”

“Yeah. It came earlier. I already got ours.”

She drew her hand into the mailbox, grabbing some ads and bills. She turned and looked at me with a cocky stare and leaned on the mailbox.

She stood there for a while, letting the sun gleam in her wavy curls. I was facing the sun, so I squinted.

“You want to play?”

“No. I’m busy.”

“Do you know what sex is?” she interrupted, facing me abruptly, taunting and knowing that she knew about something that I didn’t.

I didn’t, and by the sound of it, it was dirty and something I shouldn’t know about. I had to answer her. I didn’t want to look stupid, but then again, I really had no idea what sex was. It was something that the boys at school would look up in the dictionary and giggle. It was something I was planning to stay completely in the dark on.

She could see my inner battle about answering her question, so she went ahead, leaning forward, almost matter-of-fact-like, but in a loud whisper, “It’s when a man pees into a woman’s pee-hole. It’s how you make babies.”

I looked at her shocked. No. That wouldn’t happen. That’s gross. I wanted to get away from that mailbox as soon as possible.

"I have to go.” I turned and crossed the street to our yard. She turned and walked into her house unphased, whipping her hair back and forth.

Pee is gross. Why would you want a man to pee into your pee hole? I felt dirty. I wasn’t supposed to know about this ‘sex’. Should I tell my mom? No. I don’t want to know if this is really true. Samantha probably made it up anyway and I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my mom, informing her of something that didn’t exist. But it did make sense. That’s where babies come out of moms. Samantha might be right.

I snuck inside the house, embarrassed, trying to avoid my mom. Finding my room, I sat down on the green shaggy carpet. I looked over at my collection of horse figurines that my grandfather bought for me. Horses have babies. Do they have sex? How would a horse have sex? I picked up a couple of the plastic horses. They were in walking or trotting poses. How would a boy horse even get near a girl horse’s pee hole? Horses can’t move that way. I put the horses down on the carpet, one fell over on its side. I ignored it and went to the window.

I could see Samantha’s house straight across the way. I was mad at her. Why would she tell me this? Now I had a secret. I was eight years old and I had the world’s most embarrassing secret with me. I wish she hadn’t told me.

I went to school with this secret. Did the girls know what the boys giggled about? Should I tell them? Once, in third grade, Mike told me that he had dreamt about me naked. Were the boys dreaming about girls who had no idea what was in store for them?

My grandfather bought me some more horse figurines. I now have two baby horses to go with my big ones. All of the horses now sit in the crawl space in a large box. I’ll get them out someday for my girls. On some afternoon by a mailbox, they would learn what sex was from a little girl with lusty dark hair and teasing eyes.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Purple Mountain Majesty

The Rocky Mountains of the western United States are the results of the ricochet of plate tectonics. The North American plate, moving westward, rammed itself into the side of the Pacific plate, moving northward. Since two plates cannot occupy the same space, the collision caused the plates to go up onto each other, creating the Rocky Mountains.
The Rocky Mountains have become a tourist attraction. National Sporting Goods Association claims that over 11 million people go snowboarding or skiing a year. According to the National Ski Areas Association, on average, 39 people die snowboarding or skiing every year.

The airplane was a little late; it was dinner time when we landed in Salt Lake City. We grabbed a little rental car, a bite to eat, and headed down I-15 towards Provo. It was my first opportunity to see the mountains. The mountains in the west darkened as the sun set; the ones in the east seemed dangerously close. I had seen mountains before, but my experience had limited me to the lively Appalachians and the vineyard-covered mountains of Bayern. I had never imagined lifeless, steak-knife mountains and yet here they were cutting the sky into pieces. It became dark very quickly.
The flashes of billboards were the number one attraction. “BUY THIS!” “CHECK THIS OUT!” “YOU WANT TO SEE THIS MOVIE!” I wasn’t convinced by their signs, nor did I have much time for billboards. Traffic was uneasy, so navigating became my first priority. I buried my head in the map. We approached Provo and I gave the signal to exit.
We turned east, and I looked up from the map. My eyes went wide. I leaned into the windshield and looked up.

There was no differentiating between the blues of the mountains and sky. There were stars and then where the mountains were, a void existed. It just ended. I strained my eyes.
I looked up at the stars above the mountains, closed my eyes, and struggled to keep their glimmer on my eyelids. I lowered my head and opened my eyes, trying to cut and paste the image of the night sky to the mountain.
You should never look out and see nothing. It’s unnatural.
I strained harder. I felt like I was waking up in a pitch black room and straining for a trace of light to indicate a shadow, color, something was there with me, but no effort would yield success. The only choice is to resign and close my eyes. It’s better to have your eyes closed than to absorb nothingness with them.
The mountain was mocking me. He was staring at me, claiming that I was the unnatural one.
“Ask anyone,” he taunted, “they’ll say I make them feel safe. I protect them.” Cheshire smile.
The car brought our faces closer together, amplifying the effect. I would not yield to his mind. There is no safety in darkness and he could not convince me that he was doing me a favor by sitting there.
I broke the contact, needing to see light again. I needed to know that the mountain hadn’t completely devoured the rest of the sky while I was staring him down. Stars. He hadn’t. But he had won. I couldn’t stop him from eating the stars and moon every evening. I couldn’t keep him from delaying the sunrise in the mornings. Every night, he would take everything beautiful and make a void.
We can’t live like that. When we look outside, we shouldn’t have to strain our necks to see the moonrise or the constellations. We need freedom. We need movement. We can’t be huddled in a corner, keeping the stars out and calling it protection. It’s not. It’s unnatural.
Lie down and look up. It should just be you and the heavens.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Police Blotter

This morning, a BYU co-ed was found unconscious in her bed. She has not been identified as of yet. Police reports say that it appeared as if there was a struggle.
"Things were everywhere. We could hardly get in the door." stated the county sherriff.
Police have infered that the victim must have been assaulted late last night or early this morning.
One roommate complied with questioning, "All I know is that we haven't seen her in a while because she's always doing Homework. She's out with him late into the night and I've seen them together in her room. They were pretty close. .... She always refered to him as her Homework. I think she's been sleeping with him for about 6 weeks now."
According to BYU-housing standards, boys are not allowed in the apartments after midnight and are not allowed in the bedroom areas at all.
"If she had just followed the Honor Code, this wouldn't have happened."
As of right now, Homework is the only suspect. BYU and UVSC students in the Provo should be on careful watch for this fearful predator; however, similar attacks have been seen on many college campuses.
"It would seem that this is not the work of just one individual, but that there is a ring of "Homework" all through the United States."
Homework is dangerous and armed. If you see someone that resembles Homework, turn him into the proper authorities immediately. Do not leave your apartments or dorms. Authorities have discovered that going to class will only aggravate this predator.

Updates on the situation will be made regularly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

GOOOOOOOOO......OOOOOOOOOL!

Hey! My brothers play soccer! Check them out!

Rick at the Cary-Grove versus Prairie Ridge game. He's number twelve!!!
(it was the best pic they had of him that he isn't in the background)

Jared at the Schleisman's tournament (he has the ball)
more Jared
and even more (I'm flying!!)


That's the happiness for the day!
Love you all!

Monday, October 03, 2005

ugh...mormon jello shots

College life is waking up and not remembering what happened the night before, with a blaring headache, sensitivity to light and motion, and impending dread of the day before me. I want to hit the snooze button, but it's out of reach. Someone was up before me and the light in the hallway is shining underneath my door. Rolling out of bed, I hit my right hip and bruise it badly; I've been doing this for so long, my entire right side is purple. It looks like my boyfriend beats me only on my right side...except for the ultimate lack of boyfriend.
The sprinklers go on outside. What are they watering? There's no grass there. The pssssssh of the sprinklers is incessant. Maybe I should close my window. No. No.
What did I do last night? I couldn't have stayed up late. Oh. Ugh. I have homework due today. That's right...I remember now. I had a party. A good ol' Mormon party. All weekend long. Filled with glasses of laziness, a keg and a half of loafing, and many shots of procrastination. While my state school friends had parties of toga all weekend, I had parties of lollygag.
The mirror shows how tired my eyes look; they are the remnants of an old widow's sagging breasts. Nothing a little makeup can't fix.
I turn on the shower and stare at my feet for a while. I find the energy to turn the water higher. It pours over my head and down my face. My arm reaches for the shampoo. No it doesn't. I'm telling it to, it feels like it's getting there, but my arm is still limp at my side. I heave a loud sigh. Thank goodness for showers.
After waking myself, I roll back into bed. I envy my state friends. At least they have a proper excuse for this...what am I supposed to say? I'm high on life? I'm drunk of funk? I've been shooting up laziness? I've been on an LDS trip?
And what a trip it was...
Is a hangover a good excuse not to show up at class?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

3...2...1....EVERYBODY KISS!

It was January first. We were watching football and eating leftover ham from Christmas.

"What're your resolutions for the new year?" I ask.
"I don't make them. I don't wait for a new year to change my life."

I agree with my dad.

So I figured I'd write up some resolutions (good and bad and in no particular order) for now. Happy ex-New Year!

  • I will get 1.5-2 weeks ahead in all of my classes.
  • I will keep my room clean for at least a week. (you have to start off slow, you know)
  • I will grow my nails out long and pretty (and sexy, mind you).
  • I will be able to do the splits by December 12.
  • I will get a good portion of a novel finished by December.
  • I will have enough work done on my proof that I'll present it in a conference next March.
  • I will catch up in my letter writing. I will write back the next day each letter I receive.
  • I will buy some new ties.
  • I will actually get asked on a date this semester...um yeah. That's more of a wishful thinking thing...
  • I will finish the Book of Mormon twice before the year's end (once for John and once for Hinckley).
  • I will buy some clubbing clothes.
  • I will kiss at least 20 people in one day.
  • I will find a bra whose straps do not fall off my shoulders in class.
  • I will write an epic poem.
  • I will find some way to download a whole ton of Megadeth songs, or I will just go out and buy an effin' CD.
  • I will be able to play Rachmaninoff's Pollichinelle by January.

That's kind of all I can think of right now. I'll probably add more later.