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!

MAYbe MAY’s BirthMAY Will Have MultiMAYrious Posts

I feel so immensely blessed, you guys. I love my seminary class so much.

In seminary, for people’s birthday’s, the students write something nice about the objects of celebration, and they write what they’d get them if they had a million dollars.

The students did that for me this morning. And I’m posting their thoughts here. No names, of course.

May – You are the best seminary co-teacher I’ve ever had! Ha Ha. No really – you inspire me with your insight and understanding of the gospel. Your testimony strengthens me, and your ability to be on time to seminary even you’re late astounds me. Also – Thanks for all the hours of free therapy, temple discussions, photo shoot park walks (I hope there will be more) and breakfast – not to mention all the wonderful lessons we’ve taught together.

– Okay, so this one’s pretty obvious who it is. My seminary co-teacher and I have gotten to be pretty good friends. We spent the afternoon in Central Park yesterday talking and taking photographs. This photo shows what else she got me for my birthday:

Not too shabby, eh?

May (drawn music notes, “We are naturalized American idiots”), I was thinking. You’re pretty cool, you blog, you are in an indie band and are super tight with the younger “generation.” Hanging out with them, going to shows, putting up with their nonsense, etc.

For a million dollars I’d get you:
-Enough time to bike across the country and live on the beach writing, playing clarinet during a sunset, and going to Starbucks to chat on facebook with me, to share witticisms, indie artists and stick figure comics. I’ll miss you when you’re in San Francisco. Race you to the bestseller list!

-Then this student proceeded to draw a few stick figure comics with inside jokes. Seriously, these cartoons are funny. This student for some reason wants me to move to San Francisco. This student just knows I should take on a new adventure. This student is typically right.

May! La la la la! Today is your birthday day, so I”m going to try to listen to your lesson. 🙂 Which might be a bad idea, considering how long it takes me to write these things. 🙂 So for your birthday present, I will give you that super hot guy, only he will be a member of the church – a super strong & steadfast member – who wouldn’t run away from you, EVER! And he would marry you, & make out w/you … May, you are awesome! Thank you for your fabulous lessons full of sound effects and scenarios and pogo sticks & wacky things. I adore you! 🙂 ❤ U!

-This student said the closing prayer in class today and made me cry. This student prayed for me and my current situation, that I’d find peace and choose the right path for me. These kids are always going beyond what they’re asked to do.

May May May … You’re birthday is today! La di da di da … it’s in the month of May! Wow okay that was a really sad attempt to rhyme this early. But i think you get the idea that it’s the thought that counts. Anyway HAPPY Birthday! You’re super duper lucky because today is going to be ABSOLUTELY gorgeous & sunny! What a perfect time to celebrate you! If I had a million dollars I would give you an immense amount of concert tickets. To any band or artist you want … EVER! And hopefully one of these days I will be able to go to a concert with you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ❤ ya.

-This student’s life completely blows me away. This student is moving at the end of the summer, and it’s going to be sad. I might be moving at the end of the summer. It’s going to be sad.

When May was born, the world rejoiced. Flowers bloomed on all the trees and in the fields. Choirs of clarinets and ukuleles serenaded her with adaptations of classic rock songs. Rabbits bounded through the fields – each perched atop a pogo stick. Mirrors gathered from far and wide to have the honor of installing themselves in her room. Seminary students gathered from around the world to hear jewels of wisdom dispensed from her mouth. May – all your days be merry and bright and all your birthdays be white. Happy Birthday!

-This student is extremely grounded and intelligent and sincere and comprehends the gospel so … comprehensively. This student wrote the note similarly to the way I write birthday notes to my students. It was thoroughly flattering.

Happy birf dae Mae. Ay hoep yu kan haav ay fineanchalee secure yeer. Yu arr ay gurate seminairy teechr. Eeff aye haad a melyon dolers aye wood bye yu a sleip masheen su yu cood maed up lost sleip and bee a sinanairy teechr agan en 2010. Hav a gud yer and bee haapy.

-This student is smart and diligent and funny and clever, and this student is going to be an incredible leader and maybe rule the world alongside the student who thinks I should move to San Francisco. I can’t wait.

Dear May, Happy Birthday! The thought of starting seminary this year was a bit overwhelming for me, but thankfully I happened to get a teacher like you, and I know it was for a reason. You have taught me a lot this year with your lessons and especially with your devotionals. You are so sweet, I am lucky to have you as my seminary teacher. P.S. That hot runner in the park totally wanted you, he just didn’t want to make [co-teacher] feel bad. Love, [Student]

-This note was actually the first one read, and it made me cry. Except the part about the hot runner, and that made me laugh. Good times.

My class has no idea just how much I’ll miss seeing them this summer. My love, admiration, and respect for them is boundless.

After class, I headed over to the east-central part of Central Park, behind the Naumburg Bandshell to listen to Green Day perform. How nice of them to sing for my birthday. For free! Thanks, guys!

Then I got home and checked voicemails and text messages and facebook notifications. Thanks, everyone, for singing and texting and writing on my wall.  You’re the very best family and friends anyone could have, and it’s such a blessing having you in my life. You mean everything to me.

I guess now it’s time to make a wish …

Why Do You Care So Much About Merlin Olsen Shirtless?

Seriously. That search term pops up in my stats ALL THE TIME. 

I went to seminary this morning. Pulled off a lesson that I took 15 minutes to prepare. Not that I’m bragging. It’s actually kind of embarrassing, how I can’t focus very well right now. It worked out, though. Those kids are amazing.

Then I went to the temple with my friend, Lynn. I had a really, really good experience there. 

Then we went to brunch.

Now I’m blogging.

Oh, I need to announce my reading! 

I’m reading!

Stake Arts Festival. Saturday, May 2, 2009; Lincoln Center Building; 4:30-5:00 PM. I get 15-18 minutes of that half-hour. Exciting stuff! 

See, life isn’t all sludgy tar acid rain deep-fried poop on a stick. What happened two days ago is in no way connected to any potential un/happiness in the rest of my life. At least it doesn’t have to be.

Oh, yeah. The rest of my songs on that list. Right. I’m on that. Fun music projects, yay!

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.