An Interesting Distraction

Yesterday while I was at Starbucks, a girl sat next to me. We sat at one of the perimeter bars along a window. She pulled out one of those NYC tourist guides. I didn’t think too much of it, because anybody could buy those and not be a tourist. A few minutes later a friend of hers sat next to her. They talked in a foreign language, and I wasn’t paying enough attention to try recognizing what they spoke. They chatted quietly, minding their own business, clearly stopping in a chain coffee shop for a pick-me-up. Then, out of the blue a few seats down from me, a guy’s voice asked, “Would you ladies like some wine?” I automatically assumed he’s not talking to me, gripped my pen extra-tightly and concentrated enough to levitate my journal from the counter if I wanted to. (I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself.)

The girls looked at each other, like, wha? and asked, “You have wine?” Then the guy sneakily reached into his bag and partly pulled out a bottle. Then he held up his cup. This man was pretty far gone. He was young. Red hair, baseball cap. Fiddling around on his iBook.

Then, all of a sudden, he got loud. He must have detected a foreign accent. “IT DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE WINE, DOES IT? ALL IT NEEDS IS FOOD COLORING. YEAH, THAT’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT FRANCE, I CAN KEEP AN OPEN CONTAINER AND NOT GET IN TROUBLE. I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING ARRESTED.”

The girls nodded. The guy asked, “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”

The girls said, “Switzerland.”

“SO YOU SPEAK FRENCH?”

“No.”

“YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH? WHAT ABOUT ROMANE?

“No.”

“WHAT LANGUAGE DO YOU SPEAK?”

“German.”

“YOU DON’T SPEAK ROMANE? [Aren’t you SO impressed I even know about Romane?] DON’T YOU KNOW FRENCH?”

“We took it in school, so we know a little.”

“SO YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. HOW ABOUT ROMANE?”

“Just German.” They started toward the door. They had tickets for some show out and ready. They were ready to go, like 3 minutes ago, before Mr. Look-at-Me-Pretending-Not-to-Drink-Wine-and-Hit-on-Foreign-Women started chatting those girls up at a volume where everyone in the Starbucks felt included. I felt for them.

“ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS LIVES IN SWITZERLAND. OH, HEY, HEY. YOU LADIES TAKE CARE. HAVE A FUN TIME IN AMERICA.”

They left. He withdrew back into his iBook, like some bipolar gigolo turtle.

Then I took a few notes in my journal. Then I transcribed them here.

I Won’t Prepare My Actual Lessons like This, I Promise

So between the last seminary teacher training meeting two weeks ago and last night’s meeting, I was supposed to have read 30 days’ worth of material. I was supposed to journal each story. We’re not reading the entire New Testament, so each assignment was a matter of verses. It wouldn’t have been a lot of work if I paced myself.

I didn’t pace myself.

The first day after the first training meeting, I read over the first two stories, events around Christ’s birth. Then, the next day I didn’t read. Then for the next thirteen days, I didn’t read. The Church Education System coordinator sent us an email Monday evening reminding us of the next night’s meeting and where we should be in the reading. Thirty days? I figured I’d go into work early Tuesday morning and throw my scripture-studying gears into overdrive.

That’s what I did. I came into work, sat down, opened the notebook for journaling, accessed the scriptures online, and kept a pen in my hand. As I read each story, I’d jot down thoughts or short summaries and made sure to write neatly enough for later reference. Scenes of the stories would form in my imagination, which was no small blessing.

I finished through story 21 before work. The plan was to stay late and read the remaining nine. What I did instead was go to a Starbucks near the church, unload my scriptures and journal and continue with the process. I arrived around 6:00 and read and wrote until 7:00. I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate in such a busy place, but it wasn’t bad. I tucked myself in a corner and no one bothered me.

30 stories in fourteen days, except it was more like  2 stories in a day and 28 stories thirteen days later. My thoughts danced with familiar stories from the New Testament. We’ll be starting off with the Gospels, which we’ll teach using a harmony approach. The life and ministry of Christ. The shepherds, the temple, the miracle at Cana, the healing, the forgiving with the same pronouncement as the healing, the multitudes, the parables.

Having crammed so much of the Word in my head, my mind spun, but it managed to find focus for the meeting. It somehow found a way to participate in the discussion and understand the feedback from the CES Coordinator. The meeting was small – only five other teachers showed up. But it was a good meeting, and I picked up some teaching tips that I know the students would appreciate.

Procrastinating is generally not a good practice. I wouldn’t normally do it. While the consequences of this instance of laissez-ness have humbled me, I also consider it no small deal that I was engaged and contributive in this meeting as I was. It probably had something to do with the material. If this was a meeting for work, I probably would not have fared as well. Just saying.

This is going to be a good school year.