In About 45 Minutes

A former seminary student from Manhattan will be attending class with me. She’s the same age as a lot of my classmates. She’ll fit right in. I haven’t seen her since October, when she attended my going-away party. I think she’s on spring break and visiting her grandparents here.

I’m pretty excited.

Should be fun.

***

The girl at the computer next to me has a notebook very similar to a Trapper Keeper. I feel like I’m 10 years old again.

From Early This Evening, Wilkinson Center Computer Lab

Hey, are you from New York?

Um, yes?

I know you from somewhere…

Hey, yeah! You’re totally [a former seminary student]!

You were my seminary teacher!

Wow.

I have to go, but can I get your number?

Sure, it’s [my phone number]. How have you been?

Good! My ride is here –

Call me –

But I’ll call you.

Awesome.

***

Being here is still so incredibly surreal.

From Early This Evening, Wilkinson Center Computer Lab

Everything Church

What I’ll miss: The church hodgepodge
1. Teaching early-morning seminary. One of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Those young people are extraordinary: smart, spiritual, hilarious. Also, I developed a couple of crushes on students and chose a few favorites, which I know I’m not supposed to do, but I couldn’t help it.

2. Teaching nursery. Kind of like teaching seminary, but with more snacks and less verbal skills.

3. Sheer talent. So maybe we have a few professional performers in my ward that like to sing extra slowly to the hymns or make up their own little obbligatos. I mean, it’s pretty, but it’s also hilarious. I mean, who needs Carnegie Hall when you have a professional trumpet quintet to accompany the ward choir? Or singers who sing for the Met at the church Christmas or Easter concert? Sometimes it’s excessive, but more often it’s quite moving. I’m spoiled.

4. Wacky sacrament meetings and awkward Sunday School moments. People say some crazy things at the pulpit sometimes. They burst into song or say that God rocks or talk about strip clubs or accidentally say orgasm instead of organism. Or they attribute their paying tithing to the fact they don’t have to pay alimony.

What I won’t miss: The church hodgepodge
1. Teaching early-morning seminary. When it was cold, and dark; and if the kids seemed resistant to being taught any particular morning, or if no one showed up, those were rough mornings.

2. Teaching nursery. I know I unnecessarily caught respiratory diseases from handling snotty children, as cute as they were. And they were SO cute. Insufferably so. Except that sometimes I suffered, with a cold, or bronchitis.

3. Sheer talent. You’re with the congregation, people. I know you sound amazing. Stop with the excessiveness. Stop performing already.

4. Wacky sacrament meetings and awkward Sunday School moments. When false doctrine starts spewing from people’s mouths to make the room uncomfortable or to stir doubt, that’s annoying. It seems to happen at a higher incidence here than anywhere I’ve been. We’ll see what Provo’s like.

Flooding My Inbox

Tuesday morning, I sent my seminary class a letter:

Dear Class,

Two days into the summer break from seminary, it’s strange. Especially this time of year, I miss the sunrise on my way to the subway. I miss our classroom. I wonder if “gullible” is still on the ceiling. I miss all of you.

What a year, y’all. What a roller coaster, with its loops and twists and other weird momentum shifts. I’ve appreciated every single moment. The tangents, the abounding cognitive dissonance. I’ve learned much. I have to thank you.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning. Slept in. That’s about 90 minutes “extra” sleep. I still can’t believe the school year is over. What does one do?

I can close my eyes and see your faces and hear your voices, especially your laughter. I may close my eyes a lot this summer, but not while biking or during concerts or movies. Well, maybe during boring movies.

Continue doing what you do to have the Spirit in your lives. Please be in touch.

Me, I’m just going to keep closing my eyes. Just to get through the summer.

Get out and have fun.

Love, may

I received a few responses from parents (I copy them whenever I write the students), and some replies from students. I miss them terribly. Memories of class flash in my mind: happy scenes, funny scenes, powerful scenes. Their voices and personalities are so palpable. So substantial. Maybe that’s why my heart is so full.

This message arrived today:

May,

I just wanted to thank you again for a great year. As you said, it had its ups and downs, twists and turns, but I always felt somehow that you acted as a kind of glue for the group, balancing so many crazy people J I’m thankful that you got up every morning for us, but you put much more into it than that. You could make us laugh. You gave us your quiet, moving testimony. And you always listened when we had something to say. We could trust you.

Well there you go. In bullet form, that’s a bit of why I’m thanking you. I hope you have a great summer. If you teach seminary again next year, I’m sure I’ll see you there some time; otherwise, I’ll see you around some place.

Sincerely,
[Student]

I Guess You Had to Be There?

I need to recap a conversation. My friend, Deena, the one who posted that video of me and her simulating an OK Go video, talked with her cousin. Her cousin saw the video. She and Deena talked about it on the phone. Her cousin asked who the little girl was in the video. Her cousin asked if Deena was babysitting. Deena explained it was her friend, May. Deena asked her cousin if she wanted to know how old I am. Her cousin said, sure. Deena said, 33. Her cousin said, Oh, 23? Deena said, no THIRty-three. Her cousin said, Wow, I hope I age that well. Deena recounted this story to me, and I laughed until I almost cried.

I did explain to her the night before that sometimes when I’m with friends on the subway, I’ll ask one of them in a little girl voice, Can you please help me find my mom? It turns a few heads. And for some reason I think that’s hilarious.

It’s time for bed. And, it’s time to sleep in. I am so pooped. Internet, I promised to catch you up on some things. If you want to know about other things, we’ll have to converse in person or via phone or personal email.

Seminary graduation was tonight. Never a prouder moment. I’m really going to miss my class.

How June Begins

It’s an unusually cool morning. Seminary this week is going to prove to be a little turbulent; today was a little rough, with the students hyper and distracted and loving each other’s company to the point of seeming to forget they were in seminary. I observed some glimmers of redirection, and I tried keeping everyone on track, but I sensed a little defeat today. Hang in there, guys. Let’s finish strong.

I mistakenly took the D train at 59th Street on my way home. I didn’t realize it until I was at the 155th Street stop. Earphones securely plugged into my ears and blaring catchy tunes while I concentrated on the day’s crossword puzzle and sudoku. I got off at the Yankee Stadium stop and backtracked to 145th Street, where I transferred to the uptown A.

I actually got into bed at 10:30 last night, expecting to fall asleep relatively quickly. I had dinner and belated but love-infused birthday brownies with one of my favorite families yesterday after church. Somehow I managed to spend almost five hours with them. I kinda didn’t want to go home to my empty apartment; my roommates are out of town. I walked through Fort Tryon Park. It was around sunset, the park was beautiful and green and a slight breeze swayed the trees, and all sorts of emotions washed over me, and my soul was a filter and kept the bigger chunks.

I reached home and unlocked the door hoping someone else would be there. No one. I sent a few texts to friends. Watched a little bit of television. Got ready for bed.

Said my prayers, and actually felt grateful no one else was home, because then I got to pray aloud. There’s a different power in uttering prayers. Not necessarily better, but for me it helps me focus and organize all my scrambled thoughts and emotions. Not that the Lord doesn’t already know.

I lay in bed, recounted the day. Cried a lot, sent a few more texts to friends. Cried a bit more, kind of hoping the crying would lead to sleep, but it wasn’t doing it quickly enough. Maybe I got to sleep after midnight.

Started Google chatting with some friends this morning. Here’s part of one conversation:

me:  got my bishop to give me a blessing
friend:  oh good!
me:  yeah. really good
friend:  peace and clarity in abundance?
me:  peace. and clarity. the most bizarre confirmation that my will is maybe starting to line up with the Lord’s a little
kinda shocking to me
friend:  hey that is great!
me:  incredibly humbling

I wish I could articulate better what I’m going through. Little quotable snippets by C.S. Lewis or Elder Neal A. Maxwell come to mind. Also, a statement the commencement speaker made at Becky’s graduation applies, if indirectly: Something about reading to learn, and writing to discover. So maybe writing could extend or include the experiences or processes about which we write. Maybe as words appear on the screen as we type or as ink marks paper, thoughts literally materialize. Things happen.

Maybe I think of writing in terms of praying aloud. At least where power is concerned.

All Right Then

So, I delivered my talk at church this morning. I think it went all right. I cried and stuff. I mean, considering I used a lot of what I’ve posted on this blog as material for the talk, people seemed to respond positively. That makes me glad.

Also, someone who really intimidates me and whose approval I’ve always wanted approached me and said that I wrote the talk and presented it well.  He said some other stuff, but I was rather shocked and surprised that he was talking to me, so I forgot what it was. We talked about teaching a little bit. I thanked him for his kindness. He thanked me. He. Hee.

It might have helped that I looked pretty cute. Not tooting my own horn. Just an observation.

The boat party last night was fun. I mean, I had a good time because I couldn’t get over voluntarily confining myself on a boat for three hours with hundreds of other church singles. There were lots of people to meet, lots of people to avoid. The music was great. The weather and the scenery were amazing. Sitting in a corner, telling stories. Fidgeting. Enjoying great company. Watching people kinda sorta fall in love. Hilarious.

Today is a glorious day. Enjoy it. 75 degrees, sunshine. Seriously.

Oh, I curled my hair last night. A friend of mine actually did it. She used a flat iron and turned my board-straight hair into a bouncy mane of springy ringlets. I didn’t take pictures, but other people did.

I thought it might be nice to have cute, curly hair for my talk this morning. But after three hours on a boat, surrounded by water and the wind rushing through my hair, and after sleeping on it, and after looking in the mirror, I decided to pull my hair back. Yeah, there was no way I was going to subject my fellow churchgoers to that. It kind of looked like a small beast was attacking my head. Maybe a cross between a tasmanian devil and a poodle. Yes.

Got a priesthood blessing today. All I gotta say is, Wow.

Nap time!