Thursday, December 29, 2011

Man Versus Coke Bottle

 *Yesterday was a bad day for me and food. I got up early (which I NEVER do) had a protein shake (because I wasn't REALLY hungry yet) and proceeded to spend the next four hours at work engaged in relentless physical labor.

"Poo! Poo!" you say. "What kind of hard labor could you possibly be doing in a library?"

Well, I pulled over 2,300 books off their shelves, in groups of three, and replaced them. And I'll tell you what: no bid deal doing that with a couple hundred books, but by the end of approximately the 2,000th book, my lower arms and hands were shaking a little bit. In the spirit of making a long story short, I'll just say that I spent more calories than I was inputting. I got home, promptly informed everyone that they could not expect a coherent conversation with me until I had fed my brain, and stuffed my face. (Travis has coined a phrase for this state of mind: "Grungry.")

I have a small stomach and a fast metabolism. It's a curse. And don't throw any of that, "But you're so skinny!" crap at me. I could write volumes about how difficult this aspect of my life is. But I will forbear for now. Anyway...I starved, and then I ate. And I thought that was that.

But no.

Later that day, I found myself sitting in a movie theater, about to watch the hotness that is Tom Cruise in the eagerly-awaited fourth installment of Mission: Impossible, but (for reasons I will not go into) I had not had time to eat dinner. "Erin, Erin, Erin..." you tsk tsk, "You just don't take care of yourself."

Shut up. It was out of my control.

It was a poor substitute for real food, but I happened to have smuggled a bottle of coke into the theater. My blood sugar level was plummeting (once again) to starvation levels, and a headache seemed, I thought, if I could only get into that coke...those measly 150 calories just might help...

What Travis and I failed to reckon with, however, was the stubbornness of the Mexican bottle cap. It would not be twisted off; it would not be keyed off; a belt buckle proved utterly useless; SHEER FORCE OF WILL had no effect whatsoever. That sucker was not coming off! At last, I leaned over to Travis--though it pained me to do so--and told him it was no use. As if he didn't know.

It's silly now, but I thought I would cry.

I didn't. And eventually I got home and ate something. But I guess, in closing, I will just say (as if it weren't obvious to anyone reading) that Mexican Coke bottle caps are real sons of b------, and they have messed with me for the last time.

*By the time I'm posting this, this will not have happened "yesterday." However, the trauma, I have no doubt, will live on and on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another BBC mini-series (for all you anglophiles out there)

A coworker recently recommended I watch this:

I was skeptical at first. Not sure why... I love a good BBC drama. I even enjoy Dickens when adapted to the small-screen. (Little Dorrit, which I would never actually pick up to read, was phenomenal.) But I was completely bewitched by Downton Abbey. Firstly, I was surprised to learn that it is an original story and not an adaptation from a book. Secondly, it is set in Edwardian England just prior to WWI--a time that seems too often overlooked in literature. It is an England just emerging from the nearly century-long shroud of Victorianism, on the cusp of modernity and world war. Downton--a traditional great house and a vestige of a class-system on its way out the door--struggles to maintain its relevancy in a modern world. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is that it is told from the perspectives of both the upstairs aristocracy and the downstairs serving class. Everyone is watching everybody else. Some waiting to take advantage. Others, to help. Characters you love to hate become characters you learn to love. Others remain completely despicable. Here's a teaser...

Also, I should warn you. It is slated for a second season, which means season one ends without any resolution whatsoever. It was completely infuriating to get to end of disc three and come to this realization. Other than that, this was perfect escapist television.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gave, and Hath Taken Away

Two years ago on a Sunday just like today, I made a promise to myself that today was the last time I was going to hang out with Travis. I had finally admitted to myself how much I liked him. And knowing that (in spite of our friendship) those feelings were not reciprocated, it was time to move on. For my own sake. "This is the LAST time," I said to my self, as I drove over to his apartment.

Earlier that day in church, a clipboard had been passed around so that people who were able could go up to visit a girl in our ward who was suffering from leukemia. I had visited Rachel once while she was at the hospital here in Provo. But by now her cancer was so serious she was up at the Huntsman institute an hour away in Salt Lake. I usually let that clipboard pass me by when it came around, but that day I decided it was time to visit Rachel again. That day, I happened to be sitting between the two boys I had alternately had crushes on all semester. I had stopped crushing on the one, and determined to stop crushing on the other, but for whatever reason, I turned to them and asked if either of them wanted to come up and visit Rachel with me on the coming Friday. Travis said he would.

I secretly rejoiced. And worried.

What happened later that Sunday when I went over to his apartment is a story for another day. It was an important day, and one that began a chain of events that culminated in our marriage.

But I am thinking, today, of a specific milestone we passed as we moved toward that culmination. Before Travis picked me up that Friday we went to visit Rachel, I told myself that I was not going to treat tonight like a date. I was not going to expect to do anything afterward. Tonight was for Rachel. I was going to just be friendly and natural with Travis--which wasn't hard.

Rachel's room at the Huntsman was one that commanded a view of the entire Salt Lake Valley. It was beautiful. She greeted us with such warmth, I immediately felt at ease--which can be difficult when visiting a sick person you don't know very well. Rachel always had a gift for putting people at ease, and one that only became stronger as she became weaker. I was pleased to see her in such high spirits. But shocked when, later, as she struggled to stand up, she appeared to have almost no physical strength left.

It was hard not to be aware of Travis either. I could see the way he was looking at me that night when he thought I wasn't looking. It was different. It was...interested. I tried to ignore it, but naturally I could not.

After about an hour, we left so Rachel could get some rest. It was clear that she was not doing well, in spite of her cheerfulness. Still, her optimism was contagious, and we left the hospital buoyed by the hope that she would pull through this. The rest of the evening essentially became a date. And a very enjoyable one at that.

Three weeks later, after Travis and I had begun dating in earnest and were in the first throes of young romance, we both received the sobering text message that on December 23, 2009--two days before Christmas--Rachel Bush had passed away in surgery. Her body just couldn't do it anymore.

I have thought about Rachel at this time of year for these last two years. I think about that Friday night at the Huntsman. I think about how melancholy, and how inexplicable it is that, at the same time two young people were discovering love and beginning the adventure of life together, she was at the end of hers. She was dying. I am not asking God by way of this blogpost, "Why? How could you do that?" I am simply ruminating on the beauties and perplexities of life. And death. And how they are intertwined. How I know the way things happen has nothing to do with how fair God is or isn't. "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away," wrote Job. And yet...Blessed be the name of the Lord.

It is hard not to feel sad that while Travis and I were being given, Rachel was being taken away. Taken away from her family, her school, her dreams for the future... But my--and her--belief in God's plan for us assures me that all was not taken away. That at this very moment, she is probably being blessed and given in ways unfathomable to my understanding.

So I don't really have good way to wrap up this post. It is mostly just memories and thoughts. So I'll just say Merry Christmas to all! and hopefully, there will be another post before the big day.