Thanks a lot, LANGUAGE

So, I was reading Macbeth and came across this line from Lady Macbeth:

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature.
It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

And, since I’ve been listening to a lot of the Indigo Girls lately, the following song came to mind.

Also, the play freaks me out. A LOT. The song does not. That one phrase–“milk of human kindness”–is probably the only intersecting point between them.

I guess that I’m just looking for any excuse to post another Indigo Girls song. And talk about Shakespeare.

Do I really need an excuse?

Anyway, here’s the song.

Songwriting. Countermelodies. Harmonies. I love it all.

Love Will Come To You

The website has the lyrics in the format below.

guess i wasn’t the best one to ask me myself with my face pressed up against love’s glass to see the shiny toy i’ve been hoping for the one i never can afford the wide world spins and spits turmoil and the nations toil for peace but the paws of fear upon your chest only love can soothe that beast and my words are paper tigers no match for the predator of pain inside her i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if I’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two i was born under the sign of cancer like brushing cloth i smooth the wrinkles for an answer i close my eyes and wish you fine (i’m always closing my eyes wishing i’m fine) even though i know you’re not this time (even though i’m not this time) i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if i’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two dodging your memories a field of knives always on the outside looking in on other’s lives i say love will come to you hoping just because i spoke the words that they’re true as if i’ve offered up a crystal ball to look through where there’s now one there will be two and i wish her insight to battle love’s blindness strength from the milk of human kindness a safe place for all the pieces that scattered learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters

Australia Trip, Day 4: Sleep and Church on Opposite Sides of the Venn Diagram

(It’s been over two months: Documenting the rest of this trip will be a major test of my memory.)

I wake up in a strange bed, in a strange place. I walk out of the bedroom and check a clock: 3:30am. It’s Sunday, August 15, 2010.

I wake up the computer then go to the kitchen where I started opening and closing cupboard doors. The fridge holds new contents from last night’s grocery shopping.

For some reason I remember where the chips are, which is a different cupboard than the biscuits.

Biscuits are cookies.

I blog for a little bit, then it’s back to the kitchen to my new favorite activity of opening and closing every single panel with hinges.

In and out of sleep until 10:00 am or so, when I decide it’s time for pancakes, because they’re delicious.

Becky and Karl are about to head off to a meeting. But we chat for a little bit while pancakes jump into my mouth.

I read for a little bit before  getting ready for church.

Becky and Karl return from their meetings.

It begins to rain, and Karl tries to use that as an excuse to not to go church.

For lunch, we make sandwiches from the chicken from Red Rooster. We watch the rain turn to hail. Honestly, I’m curious about church here, though I’ve spent most of the summer not really caring about church in general.

The weather has cleared.

Church. Is the same. Except for the accents. And the organist who looks like Ronald Reagan.

We get back to the apartment and change, then we head over to Karl’s parents’ house. They’re rich.

We have a lovely dinner of pork roast, potatoes, green beans, and carrots, and homemade cracklings. And lemon fizzy drink.

The family tells stories around the table. I ask a question every now and then.

After everyone helps with clearing the table, we sit on couches and talk.

Karl’s mum makes fun of his very white legs.

And then, Analiese pulls out of the oven an amazing chocolate pudding for dessert.

She cuts a piece way too big and dollops some cream on top of it. I eat the whole thing, then all of a sudden, being alive is uncomfortable. Maybe it’s sort of like a mild version of hell, where you have too much of a good thing, and the overindulgence is its own punishment.

When we return to the apartment, we rush to get into our pajamas. Then we decide it’s a good idea for Tim Tam Slams, because hedonism and hell both begin with h.


Now watch a famous Australian do it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

tim tam slam, posted with vodpod

Natalie’s using tea. Other people use coffee, but we use Milo, which is like hot chocolate. After a couple of rounds, we leave the biscuits on the coffee table and settle in to the mammoth leather couch to watch some “Banzai!” then I more or less pass out for a little while before Karl and Becky go to bed.

So maybe overeating and jetlag can be like roofies for Mormons.

Australia Trip, Day 3: Touchdown

It’s nearing 6pm on Saturday, August 14. I’m on the other side of the world. The wheels lower and in a few seconds, skip along the runway, and the wings tilt up, dragging us to a stop. It’s dark outside.

Some people are in a hurry to catch a connecting flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. The captain tells us to let those passengers off first. We deplane, and I head toward immigration, where BAM! the first stamp marks my passport. Then I wait for maybe 30 minutes at baggage claim.

Passing through customs isn’t too bad, except one of the personnel asks what’s in my suitcase, and I say chocolates, but I don’t know what kind, and I say that, too. She asks me to open my bag, and I point to the box of chocolates, and I say they’re kind of like bonbons, and then she lets me through.

I know Becky and Karl are waiting for me. Karl and I see each other, and I wave, and Becky walks around a few people to a small clearing, where she and I meet, and I let go of my suitcase, and we hug, and it’s the hug that bridges countries and grants all those favors from friends in the United States.

The moving ramps are called travelators, or something like that. The myth of my doppelgänger is confirmed, and apparently she was connecting to a domestic flight, and Becky almost chased after her. We find the car in covered parking, and after we exit the airport grounds we drive through some tunnels and take motorways and since it’s dark, I don’t really know where we are. Becky points out the Opera house behind us. She asks if I’m hungry, and I say I could eat. I start asking a few questions, because Australia is a foreign country, and there’s a lot to learn.

We stop at a restaurant called Red Rooster. They say it’s a Boston Market-KFC hybrid, but it’s strictly rotisserie chicken. I order a combo meal called the Tropicana, and I take a Solo – or maybe it’s a Lift – to drink. Some sort of lemon soda. The chicken is good. The soda is good. The deep-fried pineapple rings are good. Don’t ask: I don’t know.

We go to a grocery store called Woolworth’s. “Wooly’s.” Becky and Karl do their weekly shopping. This is where I begin my collection of candy bars:

Everywhere I go seems like a museum. Like a cultural museum meets the MOMA in New York City. Sensory overload.

Sensory overlord. He’s the one in charge of what people hear, touch, see, smell, and taste. It’s best to be on his good side.

We get back to their apartment. It’s in the suburbs, but it doesn’t feel like the suburbs. They give me the grand tour, and I’m excited to be staying with them for almost two weeks! My room, and their bedroom, and the living room connect to the balcony, and the view is incredible.

Other people will be visiting Becky in the next few months, and I don’t want to spoil everything for them. I’ll just say it’s a great apartment.

We all change into our pajamas and settle on the couch (that could fit three of me lengthwise) in front of the television. I get my first experience with Australian television.

What an experience it is.

I can’t decide if I’m tired or what time it is. The clock says 11pm or thereabouts when I head to my room and slide under the covers and pick up the book Becky left on the nightstand.

The Thorn Birds.

Oh, great.

The Church Is The Same Everywhere

Especially family wards, even down to the cute little deacon ushers.

And the organist who really looks like Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of, election day is this coming Saturday.

According to some folks, the current prime minister here has a bogan chin.

And voting is mandatory here.

And, I volunteered to read a scriptural passage in Sunday School, somewhere in 2 Chronicles, four verses (6-10), and the classroom was dead silent as they listened to my “accent.” It was fun how it made me extremely self-conscious.

I’m slowly getting used to the language here. I’m picking up on some of the colloquialisms, and that’s great. But during the opening prayer in sacrament meeting, I might have only understood “blessings” and “atonement,” and luckily I could interpret it well enough to know when to say “amen.”

Oh, here’s the morning view from the balcony, which my room has access to:

These clouds produced hail right before church, and they caused power outages at some of the members’ homes:

Also, I’m staying in a shire (county) in northwest Sydney called Baulkham Hills.

And, I’ve done the Tim Tam Slam. Pictures of that will follow eventually. Fun and unique. And I’m still full of food from all the Sunday eating.

I woke up at 3:00am. I’m hoping to be able to go back to sleep in the next hour or so.

And no one’s ever around for gchat. It’s not like I’m using time for being a tourist for the internet. And it’s a reasonable time in the afternoon, stateside. So: where are you?

Having fun, exploring, living life, falling in love, making out?

Any and/or all of these, I hope.

Oh yeah, I have a couple of dates this week.

I’ll take all the help I can get; it’s obvious I need it.

I Crossed An Ocean Today

I’ve been taking weird pictures the past couple of days. My flight got delayed by about 12 hours, so the airline put everyone up in a hotel and paid for dinner for the evening. I explored Los Angeles a little bit, and the plane ride actually passed a little more quickly than I thought. Becky and Karl are gracious hosts, and they’re allowing me to adjust to the time zone by not jam-packing my day with things I’d end up sleeping through. It’s been low-key, and I’ve been extremely grateful.

They speak weird English here. I noticed it first from the unusually, strikingly attractive flight crew. One of them would serve me a drink or food, I’d say “thank you,” and he would reply, “that’s okay.” And it made me laugh inside. In the plane’s cabin, the overhead compartments are called “overhead lockers.” Also? Driving on the wrong side of the road. Roundabouts that go clockwise. It’s been a little jarring.

I’m pretty exhausted, but I just wanted to say hello, and I’m having a great time. And it’s so, so wonderful to see Becky. She greeted me with a giant hug at the airport, and I felt tears heating up my throat. My, I have missed her. But, I’m here now, and it’s already such fun. I’ve already started my candy bar collection to prove it.

Oh, here’s what I did today. It blows my mind:

Amuse Me

A white board hangs on our front door. Sometimes the roommates write interesting things on it. Yesterday I happened to look at the door and found these two ideas wrestling:

I can’t identify the handwritings. Two different people, out of the three who live with me. I could figure them out easily enough. I pass through the kitchen all the time, and often I do the dishes just because it’s nice to have a clean surface for my food to ass on. I’m on about three hours’ sleep today, and that apparent curse word in the last sentence was a crude and pretty tacky derivation of a French word, but right now it’s pretty dang funny, and all I can think of is how my professor says that 60% of English vocabulary comes from French, and so many layers of meaning seep through words by learning another language, intensifying and expanding my power to communicate. Muah ha ha ha ha! But here, in this instance, I just visualize sitting on a plate of food.

Much easier than trying to reconcile the white board.

No wonder the French are so skinny.

Weighing In

Sending a text didn’t even occur to me.

We just received our second midterms in class today.

With the two-point curve: 99.5%

Without it: 97.5%

On paper, I’m the ideal French student.

In practice, it’s gross.

The well-rounded Frenchie should be able to listen, write, and speak proficiently.

I can do one of those things moderately well.

But that’s because I’ve practiced a long time in English.

The listening carries over – I have to focus in French as much as in English. I’m lost otherwise.

The speaking – well, I don’t talk a lot in English, so I expect my talking to be pretty crappy.

The grade’s exciting though, eh?

Matthew 5:14-16

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Fine. I’m talented. It’s not anything I flaunt, and it’s definitely not something I broadcasted living among the musically and artistically touched up in New York City. Lots of people were able to serve in this capacity, with lots of musical numbers, often more than the number of Sundays in the year. I spent the last six and a half years sitting back, appreciating other people’s expressions of beauty and worship and … showing off. Let’s be honest.

I’m no prodigy or genius, but I won’t deny that I know a little bit about music. I won’t pretend I don’t love beauty. I won’t ignore the chance to make words shine and give them substance. Sometimes, though, I let these supersede my ability to make friends. Or, vice-versa. Still, I don’t carry around a flashing marquee that says I’ll sing for you or play the clarinet or write a mini-biography for your fireside. (But, I might offer advice you didn’t ask for.)

Sometimes, though, I’m so insecure it’s paralyzing.

My good friends know what I can do. They probably know that I’m best at being a good friend. That’s not something I hide, per se, it’s something I’m very deliberate about, and I take it very seriously. It takes a lot of time for me, which is why I’ve been so hesitant to venture into the unfamiliar here in Florida. Eleven weeks is not a lot of time.

It’s enough, though.

People haven’t held me to any expectations, which is … different. I see people with their walls down while I am still ever so rigid with my guard. People are so willing and eager to share anything and everything they have, not out of pride or praise; they’re full of love.

This past week, something possessed me to go to Institute and make a couple of comments in class. It’s always helped to ask myself during the lesson how I can relate or what I know. When I can actually answer these questions my heart rate increases as I try to decide whether to speak aloud in front of the class. Then comes the whole effort of trying to make my thoughts make sense as they come out of my mouth. Then comes hoping the discussion continues without my feeling foolish. I might have some anxiety issues.

Today in Sunday School we discussed being good citizens. And heck yes I had some things to say, because it seemed no one else could quite say what I could say from the place where I came. At least in that particular class. You know what I mean? And so I commented and the words flowed, which surprised me, but also confirmed how much I’ve thought about citizenship. Anyway, it spurred on further conversation and as the class continued, I wrote in my notebook, “I’m pretty cool. :)”

At the end of Relief Society ten minutes were reserved so sisters could bear testimonies. I really thought about bearing mine during sacrament meeting (what has gotten into me?), but when time ran out I figured I’d stand up at the end of Relief Society. The lesson ended. With five minutes left, our 83-year old pianist apologized for not standing. She uses a walker, and it’s great she still plays the piano for us.  Cute as can be. She sat behind me, and we sat near the piano.

I listened to her as her humble voice expressed her love for the gospel. Then she told a story about how she talked to her son who lives in Middleburg about someone who moved into the ward who once attended the Middleburg Ward. She continued on about how she asked her son if he remembered someone named May, and how her son said yes, of course he remembers. Then how he remembers how I play the … flute?

With a lump in my throat, I gently corrected her. “Clarinet.” And then she recounted how her son said to make sure not to let that talent go to waste. Then she ended her testimony.

Well, damn.

Then the adoring 21-year old sitting next to me whispered how there’s a Christmas Program coming up (she’s the choir director, and we’ve spoken only briefly but she announced to the class that I’m fun), and our pianist’s daughter who was also sitting behind me overheard this and laughed and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Fighting tears, I whispered to the 21-year old if she finds something, I’ll play it.

There’s nothing like being outed by an octagenarian whose son watched you grow up with his children and remembers well enough certain details about your life from so many years ago.

After the closing prayer I turned around and thanked our cute little pianist for her thoughtfulness. She had her hand on the back of my chair, and I held her hand while we spoke. We talked a little bit about her son whose children are all grown now. I told her I only have a few weeks left before I leave, and she said she was glad, because she didn’t want to miss the chance to hear me play.

Forget that I could literally fit under a bushel. I’m not hiding; I didn’t say no. It’s worth it.

Eleven weeks is more than enough.

And, I get to play.


News That’s Fit to Broadcast Locally

What I’ll miss: Kristen Shaughnessy
I don’t watch NY1 every day, but sometimes it’s nice to hear a confident voice on the weekend giving me my city’s news and weather. She looked a little worn this morning, but I feel I can always count on her, reading me headlines from the papers, telling me about the mayor’s election budget, reading her teleprompter with perfect inflection, making me laugh intentionally or otherwise. She always does a wonderful job, and she helped me get ready and excited for my weekends.

What I won’t miss: The F word everywhere, especially on the local news
Okay, so this lone incident was a blooper, and it was actually quite hilarious, especially the co-anchor’s reaction, and I’ll only link to it instead of posting the video here for those whose ears haven’t bled senseless from hearing that word in all its forms constantly. And by “constantly,” I mean all the bleepin’ time. Welcome to bleepin’ New York! … Go away! Bleepin’ leave already, we don’t bleepin’ want you here. I know how you really feel, New York City, and I feel the same way: I bleepin’ love you, too.

I don’t know, people. This actually might turn into something I miss.

Bumpass, VA – Warning: Heavily Implied Profanity Ahead; Rated PG

So, I went to a Stake Institute FHE on Monday in the Union Square building basement.
A lot of people showed up. We mingled.
I saw one of my friends who is also doing the triathlon on Saturday.
She was standing with another good friend.
We got to talking about training.
And the town where the race is.
And we started making jokes about the town’s name.
And getting trucker hats as souvenirs.
“Bumpass! We’re going to Bumpass, yay!”
“Bum. Pass.”  “Bump. ***.”
Harmless enough. I’ve typed that before, without asterisks.
Then all of a sudden I blurted,
“We’re going to BUMP some ***!” (Those asterisks are capitalized, by the way.)
That turned out to be a LOT louder than I expected.
The friend who was standing with us started to giggle.
And blush. I covered my mouth and laughed.
I tried to pretend not one of the hundred-or-so surrounding people AT CHURCH heard me.
She pointed out that she was blushing, and I was blushing.
So we must really be 10-year old boys.
Which I’ve already admitted to.
Embarrassing. And hilarious.
I’ll be taking pictures on Saturday.
I don’t know about a trucker hat, though.
That’s just obscene.