The Past Blog Post and the Song Might Be Distantly Related

Aimee Mann. Summer concert at Rockefeller Park; June 30, 2004. Free. I may have just seen Magnolia within the past month. This is one of the songs from the soundtrack.

It’s not what you thought
When you first began it
You got what you want
Now you can hardly stand it, though
By now you know
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

You’re sure there’s a cure
And you have finally found it
You think one drink
Will shrink you till you’re underground
And living down
But it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

Prepare a list for what you need
Before you sign away the deed
‘Cause it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

No, it’s not going to stop
Till you wise up
No, it’s not going to stop
So just give upIt’s not what you thought
When you first began it
You got what you want
Now you can hardly stand it, though
By now you know
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

You’re sure there’s a cure
And you have finally found it
You think one drink
Will shrink you till you’re underground
And living down
But it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

Prepare a list for what you need
Before you sign away the deed
‘Cause it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
Till you wise up

No, it’s not going to stop
Till you wise up
No, it’s not going to stop
So just give up

Almost a year later. An experience that didn’t involve very much wisdom at all.

 

Vanishing Points

See those photos, there, from yesterday. I see a series of parallel lines, along the X and Y axes, giving the illusion of a Z. Put something where the lines are wider, it looks closer, and where they narrow, farther away.

Follow the lines, follow the rules.

What if I stood outside of these lines? Would it skew your perspective? Can there be more than one horizon? What if I stood without the convergence, at its very end? What if I withstood it? Could you still see me? Would I disappear?

Third Time This Year

I have to give yet another talk on Sunday. That’s three in about four months. So, I’m not going to put much thought into today’s post. I’m simply going to cut and paste the beginning and end of the last talk I gave. Maybe at least looking at it will motivate me to prepare Sunday’s message with a better heart, because it’s so incredibly rotten to the core right now. Well, maybe not to the the core, but maybe the pericardium and mesocardium and the outer layer of the endocardium. Anyway, I guess the assignment couldn’t have come at a better time. This one only has to be 5 to 8 minutes long, so it forces me to be concise and non-word-mincy. I’m always up to that challenge.

Without further ado:

I have a confession. Sometimes during sacrament meeting, I get distracted. Maybe I don’t feel the Spirit as strongly as I should, and my mind wanders. During one such sacrament meeting, the speaker’s voice droningly transmitted from the microphone to the congregation. It was monotone and it kept going and going, and occasionally I could tune in, but it was one of those situations that took a great deal of effort to focus on what was being said. Usually, if I try, even with any kind of distraction, I can really channel the speaker’s words and intentions to my mind and heart, and I can usually find something useful or edifying from the talk.

This wasn’t one of those instances. The temperature was fine; I wasn’t falling asleep. There wasn’t much in the way of noise or commotion that I haven’t ignored before. But the speaker’s voice just blended into the background and I might have started daydreaming. I don’t know for how long.

I’m not sure exactly how I snapped out of it, but suddenly I was present, and I became very keenly aware of my surroundings. I was standing behind a podium, in front of a congregation, hands resting on the varnished oak surface. My eyes followed typed words on white paper. My mouth moved, dictating my reading and forming words into the microphone with a droning, monotone voice. My voice. A sinking feeling grew in the pit of my stomach. It occurred to me that one of my worst nightmares had come true: I had checked out of my own talk.

Has this ever happened to you?

It wasn’t as if I didn’t prepare, because I did, and I tend to put a fair amount of thought into my … thoughts. Maybe the writing was off, maybe I was too nervous and I tried too hard not to show it. Of the possible causes I considered, the one reason that kept my stomach sinking was the state of my heart. Where was my heart? If in delivering my talk I wasn’t getting through to myself, how was I coming across to the congregation?

[anecdotes and experiences I pulled from this blog to make the talk last 15 minutes]

I could go on, but I won’t. I confess: Teaching seminary has been one of the greatest, most tiring, most humbling, most joyful experiences of my life. I’m grateful to all the students who have blessed my life. Our hearts are in a better place. I’m grateful for my co-teachers and friends and parents and church leaders for their amazing support. Because of seminary, the students learn that all scripture is given by inspiration, to feast on the word of Christ. They know to go and do the things the Lord commands. They know to pray always and come off conqueror. They are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, and they know wickedness never was happiness. They are the light of the world, whose immortality and eternal life are God’s work and glory. They know the Book of Mormon is true. That Joseph Smith restored the gospel. That Thomas S. Monson leads the Church today. That Christ’s atonement is for everyone. They know it, and I know it. Nothing can distract me from that.

Fanning the Nostalgic Flame

This blog is nearly as old as my time here in New York City. It has become a decent body of work; it’s an okay chronology. I was never this diligent in journaling during any other part of my life, and I’m so glad to have developed the habit.

I revisited the archives this morning, as I tend to do, with “Hometown Glory” at least semi-permanently stuck in my head, and stumbled upon an entry from April 10, 2007. I’ll copy and paste it here. A friend of mine had just moved from the city the week before, and I had a really hard time with it, crying on the train, on my way to my therapist’s for an appointment, and I had cried all the way back home, gotten ready for bed, and gone to sleep. Emotions bombarded me, and the following week this post happened:

***
Depth X Height X Intensity

In high school, friendships tend to go deep, fast. You’re in many of the same classes, even extra-curricular activities. You spend your spare time together. Factor all that in with what it means to be a teenager: self-discovery, learning critical thinking, drilling into everything’s deeper meaning, even if it doesn’t have one; hormones raging; angst flying. Identifying with Rand or Salinger or Hemingway or Dickinson; Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Sting, Tori Amos. It’s a pretty intense time.

Not everyone has the same experience. Some coast along until they get to move away from their parents. Others live those years with moderate intensity. Others still dare to push, to challenge the limits of their very young characters. Paradoxically, these are the old souls, the kindred spirits.

These were my peers. We didn’t wear our hearts on our sleeves, per se, but I know we had angst, though not the destructive kind. We jammed and cruised and tossed some ideas back and forth and flicked others away, like lint. In the classroom, in somebody’s living room or a porch or a trampoline; out at a park, in the car driving to nowhere in particular, or perhaps coming back from bowling or eating.

I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world. I’d die first.

The intensity tapers as life goes on, in varying degrees. The people are different; the transitions suck. Relationships aren’t as much intense as they are weird; they are dis-tense, and the wordplayer in me morphs that into distance, which is the obvious space between me and these other people who don’t seem as kindred – we don’t want to get too close. They notice it too.

Old souls in high school aren’t the only ones. In fact, that phase of life has thoroughly prepared us to spot one now, a mile away; years later, or maybe a few hours. We recognize a certain gentleness and power, a familiar warmth in the countenance; a subtle thawing, like the conversion of winter into spring. Then, the intensity picks up again. You know how it goes.

Another transition comes along, and we haven’t forgotten how much it hurts to say goodbye. And that was 13 years ago. Or even last week. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if it means an unbearably poignant departure. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if the thought of goodbye keeps sneaking in on your forethoughts, which bear the trite truth: there’s no such thing as goodbye.

The key is to remember that you are old souls, kindred spirits.

When you do part ways, the key is to be so happy and excited for your friends, so grateful for your paths crossing, that you cry and cry and shudder and hiccup and snot everywhere and pray and cry yourself to sleep; so that eventually, you can look back fondly at all the good times, and giddily anticipate a sweet, joyful reunion. Every single time.

Intense.

***

Needless to say, I’ve found some old souls, kindred spirits in New York City. I’ve been blessed enough to get to know you, to have been found worthy to be a part of your lives. Some of you have left recently, and I didn’t get the chance to tell you how special and incredible you are; how much I miss you. I have hugs reserved specifically for you. Some of you will leave with the next outgoing tide. Some of me will go with you.

Because I’m Lazy, That’s Why

Maybe I was going to write up this spiel on how I got engaged today. Describe the boy and everything; how we met, our first kiss, how he proposed. And it was going to be brilliant. And ludicrous. And you wouldn’t even have seen embellished until you’ve read this little number, because it is April Fool’s, after all, and I wanted to get back into the subtle mockery that I’ve missed doing for so long. Because I can exaggerate and underplay at the same time.

But I won’t. Instead, I’ll post a letter I sent to my seminary class. It’s a little sassier than I intended. I’m not sure what to do about that. Maybe nothing.

Hello, Students! Happy Spring!
 
Imagine a cloud. It’s a low cloud, nimbus, plump with precipitation. It’s heavy, drooping and drippy. Slow-drippy. Sputtery. It wants to burst, but it can’t. This cloud knows once it releases its contained waters it will become lighter, float higher, dissipate into sunshine, yippee!
 
Imagine a tall, heaping cloud, cumulonimbus. It is turbulent, churning hail and creating numbing lightning within itself. This cloud is in a lot of pain and needs some rest to recover from the internal, unpleasant electricity. This cloud knows once the pain goes away, it too will become lighter float higher dissipate into sunshine. Yippee.
 
Here is the link for the reading calendar for the rest of the year. It also includes the reading from the 3rd term, for those of you interested in submitting makeup work:
 
http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=5qks25cpt91cgc6ds3f9gkb25k%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York
 
Remember that makeup work is due Monday, April 6.
 
Also, General Conference this weekend! It’s gonna be great!
 
Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything.
 
We’re upon the last term of the year. It’s incredible how quickly the time has passed. Let’s make these last two months really count. Please come! Or, keep coming! We like it when you’re in class. Before you know it, the summer will be here, and you’ll miss the early morning fun. I can tell. 😉
 
I’m sorry I’ve been a little under the weather, and I know [other teacher] wishes she could be in class with everyone. Can you tell which cloud is which teacher?
 
You guys represent the sunshine, by the way. Thanks for that. Seriously.
 
See you in the morning.
 
Love, Sister Anderton

April showers. LOVE.

I left the link active for the reading calendar, just in case you want to turn in some makeup work, too. If so, hop to it. It’s due in five days.

I will pose the same question to you.

Lazy post, right here. Wednesday morning I taught a lesson about humility. I came up with a couple of situations we could discuss where we might be able to exercise humility. After the second one was read, one of the students asked if I wrote them. I answered that I did, and he responded, “Props.” Then the class chimed in on how funny the scenarios were. It’s such a blessing to be able to be creative with this group.

The first situation was about pogo sticks. I didn’t get that one back, and I didn’t save it on my computer. It was fun to write. I mean, pogo sticks. Anyway, I managed to get the second one back into my little paws, so I’ll transcribe that here. Then maybe you’ll read it and offer your wisdom? I need to have more humility on the subways, people. We’ll see if you have the same suggestions as my students.

It’s the end of a long and tiring day. A certain seminary teacher is riding the subway home. The train arrives at her stop, and before the doors even open, she sees the rush-hour crowds huddle who she knows will try to funnel their way onto the train before anyone even has a chance to get off the train and this seminary teacher has been standing the entire commute which she never really minds but being easily bumped around and shoved aside due to her size all she wishes is for other people to practice some subway etiquette and common courtesy and let her off before they get on because she’d be really frustrated if she missed her stop and sometimes it takes all the energy she can muster not to think of pushing one of those impatient people into the subway car doorframe as he or she rushes onto the train.

How would you get this teacher to calm down?