The Scary Storm

There’s a profound metaphor a-brewin’.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed and ignoring the happy, oblivious posts of those who aren’t being affected by Sandy, I came across this photo. Click on it and say some prayers.

Winds are howling, lights are flickering, transformers are exploding. Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. There are reports of green electrical arcs in the sky, a scary form of the Aurora Borealis. I doubt New York has seen many hurricanes, and it probably hasn’t received the Noreasters that Boston has, but it seems that the Big Apple finally gets to enforce a lot of its emergency preparations. I know my friends are prepared.

The island would seem different than a mainland hit, because it’s an island. Two and a half miles wide by 12-13 miles long. The tunnels and bridges are closed.

Yet, no man is an island.

But I also don’t want to downplay the rest of the Northeastern shore. They also have floods and fallen trees and power outages. Leaky ceilings and floating cars.

Hang on to your hats.

My friends are prepared. I’ve seen their statuses of the provisions they’ve gathered. Lights, food, batteries, water, cheerful souls and prayerful hearts. When the winds stop whipping and the water subsides, they’ll use their optimism to clean up their towns and get back to their usual lives. Which happen to be extraordinary.

I believe John Donne.

I Shoot Guns Here

The metaphor of taking aim and the satisfaction of hitting one’s target in the safety of a shooting range are so different than what I would imagine sighting a human being through a scope and creating a void in the universe by taking that person’s life.

My friend Eleece lives in Oklahoma. I was excited for her to take me on my very first shooting adventure. I was open to doing anything else, but this is the one thing I really wanted to do. We went to a range where Eleece and her husband are members, and she brought a few guns and her bag of ammunition. We bought two paper targets, and Eleece let me and Reilly shoot a few rounds from each gun. She taught us how to hold and load the guns and be safe with the safety. We wore earplugs and eye protection. Something about the whole experience was relaxing and exciting at the same time.

Naturally I looked forward to visiting New York City, but I definitely wanted to visit Oklahoma. My dad and his sister live about 80 miles east of Tulsa. My aunt and her husband own dozens of acres of open land, where fish swim and breed in ponds scattered around their property. They catch the fish. They eat the fish. Buddy the dog likes to run in front of the truck that tumbles over the rampant, tall grass. He doesn’t bound quite as high as he did two years ago when I last saw him. But he does seem to eat an entire pack of hot dogs with his usual, efficient flair.

Reilly and I entered my aunt’s trailer, and the television blared Fox News. This aunt loves to give advice and tell stories about her days in northern Arizona, where she held various occupations and caused her share of trouble. The renegade of the siblings, she does whatever she wants but believes the things she believes with more conviction than anyone I know. I found her comparisons of Barack Obama and Hitler rather outlandish and very unconvincing, but she rattled off her theories as if they were truth. If you’re in your 70s and have made choices in the name of unforeseen wisdom, then I won’t mind whatever your political proclivities are.

My stomach sank when my aunt’s husband said how glad he was that we were able to visit, because he thinks this might be the last time I’ll be able to see my dad.

My aunt took us to the assisted living facility where my dad is staying. The dementia seems to be somewhat at bay. He talks far less than he used to, and whenever we talked on the phone in the past year, he’d describe the birds outside his window or how he watches this one particular squirrel scramble about the yard. The difference between having a clear mind and having an empty mind becomes heartbreakingly clear in my dad. My aunt told stories about how he nearly drowned when he was a child, how he had seizures and always had trouble in school. This is so different than my childhood perception of him, but this knowledge helps me to understand him, his passion for cooking that he no longer has, his meticulous cleaning habits that he couldn’t care less about now, because those thoughts never cross his mind anymore. I wonder if he’ll even know what I’m talking about if I tell him I’ve forgiven him for that time when I was 8 and 9 years old. I wonder if it really even matters.

Staring at the television, staring out the window. It scares me to think when his mind will shut off, when the power button on the remote will get pressed and the screen goes blank. Dark.

This growing mental void brings no satisfaction, but a type of grace emerges, makes itself known.

Dad still finds happiness in little things. In simple things. Him being able to walk, even though it’s much more labored with a weak heart and weight gain, and stricken with varicose veins and arthritis. The birds and the squirrels. Him seeing me with my husband. Him being able to tell me in person that he loves me. If hearts are the target and love and understanding are the weapons, then we’re finally becoming sharpshooters. Aiming across a thousand miles at each other, we’re turning into snipers, feeling more alive with every shot.

Say, “Cheese!”

Parce que c’est fromage!

Tonight was our annual French Club soirée fromage. It felt a bit different this year than last year as a 101 student. I ran into mostly people who were in my 101 class, then a girl from 202, and a guy from 321. Then I got to talk to random strangers about Paris.

Also, when the jugs of juice were empty, I was standing in line, watching nothing come out of the spouts. Then I said, « Il n y a plus de juice ! » It rhymed, therefore it was funny. It’s not as funny – it’s actually downright sad to say it in English: “There isn’t any more juice.” That really makes me want to cry. I didn’t realize how much I love grape juice until it was all gone.

Saturday at a potluck, I met a guy (he was with his girlfriend) from Orleans. It was his first time in the United States. He was very soft-spoken, and his french was very smooth-sounding. We talked for a little bit. Being the way I am, I asked questions so that he would do most of the talking. He is not LDS, but he attended a session of General Conference in Salt Lake City. “Vous avez écouté les discours en français?” Of course he did. And he was very impressed with the interpreters. He prefers English to “American,” and I don’t blame him.

Hemingway’s Shortest, and Supposedly Greatest, Story

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Can you imagine?

I was scanning the Ad  Board on campus this morning while waiting on the bus to work. When I saw this photo, I thought of Hemingway, but I also thought of the bloke who doesn’t get to wear the ring. Similarly, my heart broke.
My heart has been hurting a lot this week.

Out of 20

So. French 321. The first quiz. We’ll see if we can keep this up. What I described as happening is actually what happened: 2 half-points off, but I got the bonus correct. J’ai fait des fautes bêtes.

Did I mention I’m in this class with returned missionaries and other people who speak fluently? I hope the osmosis is extra effective, because I sound like an idiot when I speak. We’re supposed to be beyond the sentence level and working up to the paragraph level, moving smoothly between imparfait and passé compose, using the present tense only intermittently. Anyway, if I listen enough and practice enough, … I don’t know. Being a wiz on paper is great, but I need to improve communication in other ways, be in touch with the real world.

***

In other news, the forum this morning with Condoleezza Rice was incredible. I hope to come across a copy of the transcript. What an admirable, inspiring woman. She was a captivating, charming, lively speaker. She made us laugh, and we applauded every time she said something amazing, like it was the State of the Union address, but this was much, much better.

I’m still processing a lot of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks, and right now I feel I can’t do any of it justice. I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch any sort of a break. I would love just to sit back and talk or hang out sometime.

You Should Be Very Jealous of Me Right Now

Because I went showshoeing.

Vivian Park, south fork. Fresh powder, breathtaking views. On the way up, my fingertips were going numb, but once we leveled out and my blood was pumping properly, I was nice and toasty. Sweating, even.

Utah, today I really, really love you.

My friend, who was on cross-country skis, told me I did a good job. I told him I’m very strong.

By the way, is that very fair, him on skis while I’m in snowshoes?

We met a couple on our way up, Kaitlyn (not sure how she spells it) and George. Blond and smiley, they were. The girl spent last summer nannying in New Jersey, near the George Washington Bridge, and she said she prefers the fake niceness of Utah to the brashness of New Yorkers.

I can see where she’s coming from.

They took pictures of us, and we took pictures of them. I mean, how can one not bring a camera for an occasion like this?

I’m still kicking myself because I forgot mine. It’s sitting next to me now, in plain sight, cussing me out.

Sorry.

Good thing my friend brought his. I took a few photos with my camera phone, but the lens kept fogging up. You’ll see.

The snow brightened everything. It brought color to our cheeks. It was beautiful and powdery and frolicking in it brought me great joy. We would come to an untouched field along the trail and my friend would say, “This field is for you,” and so I skipped along in the snowshoes, sinking into the drifts and leaving deep prints and wandering trails of a very happy May.

Absolutely exhilarating.

Here are a few photos. Seriously, so much fun.