Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflective trip to the grocery store

I learned some great lessons tonight.  There's something very nice and satisfying about taking time to ponder.  I had never understood it's value before.  But I really see it now.  It's good to look back at different lengths of time in my life and try to make sense of it, try to draw conclusions, try to learn.  Tonight was really great for me in that regard.

I was in the grocery store, meandering the aisles, trying to pick up the necessary ingredients for this weeks menu of delicious dishes.  It's been a roller coaster of 5 months on the east coast.  I've been very blessed.  I've been a wee bit stressed.  While reflecting on the time spent in the area, I'm in the produce section, squeezing the cucumbers, trying to make sure they're just right for my cucumber salad that I have planned to eat tomorrow at lunch.

I've learned so much in the last half year.  I feel like I've been broken down, I feel like I've been built up.  I moved out here with a fearless sense of adventure.  Right off the plane from Africa, nothing seemed more exciting than picking up and moving to the other side of the country, not knowing what awaited me.  I was sure I'd move out here and find a fantastically swanky job, have a fun city social life, be able to afford the wardrobe of my dreams, and have a fun, sassy, single life in a big city.  It makes me laugh now because I realize that all of those things take time.  And that's okay.

The truth is, I was really surprised by how difficult living in my own country could be.  I naively had had the thought (and I can almost quote it), "I've lived in France, Italy and Uganda, how hard could the east coast be?"  Well, only a couple of weeks ago had I put together why it's been difficult.  I could never put my finger on it.  But I figured it out.  In all of the other places I went, I went with a group--we came from the same culture, we went with the same purpose, we experienced the same culture shock, language barriers, struggles, etc.  We knew what we were supposed to do there, we knew when we'd be returning home.  We had someone else that was going through the exact same thing we were going through.  Well moving out here by myself...it's been hard because it's felt very lonely.  I don't have a companion (like in the mission) where when they're struggling, we strengthen each other, we go out, we work hard and know what our purpose is.  I don't have a study abroad roommate who is experiencing the same culture shock, but we study, listen to music from home and go out to explore together.  It's not even like being in Africa--with a group of girls who all felt as unfamiliar with the language and living circumstances, but were sure of their desire to serve and make the lives of those around them better.  It's not that I'm dependent upon other people.  I feel rather independent, in fact.  It's more the idea that I'm the only stranger, the only one that's not settled, for whom this place is not normal everyday life.  It's strange going through that alone.  Arriving here by myself, unsure of exactly what I'm supposed to do and having no idea when I'll be going home.  Somehow I'm supposed to figure out why I'm here on the east coast and what I'm supposed to be doing...all by myself.  haha

By this time, I'm in the section of the grocery store that sells those facial wipes--you know, for those of us that aren't classy enough to wash our faces in the sink before bed.  One of my companions in La Spezia bought them as well and we'd wash our faces while we talked across the room in our beds before falling asleep.  I decide on the apricot scent and remind myself that it's my one splurge for groceries.

I keep trying to pinpoint why living here would be that different.  Well...I miss my life.  Everything about my life has changed...and it's been hard to figure out how to adjust.  I miss having tons of friends around me.  Christmas break filled me with joy because I loved having friends scheduled every day of the week to visit and catch up with.  We laugh our faces off, we adore each other, we share a past, we'll always be friends.  I miss them.  I don't have those here--at least not near as strong of friendships as I have at home...yet.

Missing my family is a given.

I miss the feeling of home.  It's really awkward not knowing where I am.  I need a GPS to get anywhere more than 4 miles away from my home.  But I'm working on it, trying to explore, things will get better.

The new job and housing arrangement is obviously an adjustment.  Naturally starting a new job adds stress and one needs to figure out how to do everything and become comfortable with that adjustment.  I think that's fairly normal and to be expected.  But it just contributes to the lack of familiarity in the my present life.  But it will get better.

By this time, I've checked out at the register, scanned my recently acquired VIC card, which saved me approximately $7--making my apricot facial scrub splurge less of a blow to my wallet, and am now driving home.  I park in front of the house and the once watery eyes have now spilled over and a few crying noises begin.  Oh great. haha  Inside I feel the fight between telling myself to knock it off and allowing myself 15 seconds to be upset.  I give myself 15 seconds.  That's plenty.  I then pull myself together and open my scriptures on my phone.  I had last been reading in 1 Nephi 4 in Italian.  I came across these verses which were just what the doctor ordered.  The ever famous verse 6 but followed by the first 4 words of verse 7.

"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.  Nevertheless, I went forth"

Oh Mal, you know that you're supposed to be here.  Stop fretting about why.  You're not the first nor the last to be unsure of the path ahead.  Just go forward.  Have faith.  Keep moving.   If you felt good about it and the Spirit led you to be here, than keep moving and go forward.  In time the purpose will be clear, but until then, take heart in the fact that people have faced greater unknowns.  See the good.  Choose to be happy and love each day you are given.

Mmm...okay.  Carried my groceries inside, made some gluten free muffins, and prepare for bed.  Definitely need to thank God, as always, for the comfort given in scriptures.  I'm thankful that I know that everything will be okay, even if my current pathway isn't clearly marked before me.  I'm very berry blessed.  I do love my life and am thankful to be here.  Til next post, Mals

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mattress hilarity, new calling, dating creativity

I haven't blogged in many moons.  Who's surprised that I'll be updating you with random bullet points?
  • I have a bed!  It it one of the most wonderful things in the world.  My friend Steve in the ward was outrageously kind and helped me move my new mattress (that I was buying off my old employers) to my cute house.  He normally bungees a mattress and box spring on top of his car.  Since I am only the owner of a mattress...so the bungees were hard to get really tight on my mattress and therefore the ride home was kind of hilarious.  The mattress blew off the car as soon as we were pulling out of the neighborhood.  We looked at each other with our eyes big...but laughed.  The next hour and a half of our lives was quite eventful.  Bungees snapped and it slid down the car two more times on the way to my house.  I felt really bad because while it was already super kind of him to take time out of his Saturday to help me, the task wasn't being made easy.  Thankfully he was the perfect person to experience something like this with.  Instead of either of us being stressed or angry, we both laughed, he put on the hazards, and we'd try strapping it again tighter.  We concluded that he should probably have rope for the next time he ties a mattress to the roof of his car.  I personally concluded that the experience might have justifiably scared him away from ever offering to give service again. haha 
  • My friend Sarah is quite literally a saint.  She came over one night and had seen that I hadn't put my bed together yet.  She made me do it.  We took 3 hours on a Sunday night and put everything together only to discover that the last, and most crucial piece, was missing.  So I slept on my mattress on the floor, returned to IKEA the following day, and found out that piece was sold separately.  My bed is fully constructed.  And I feel incredibly spoiled and fortunate to have a comfy bed of my very own. 
  • My new job is great.  The doctors I work for are very patient and darling.  I work for two endocrinologists.  I tried hard not to die laughing on Valentines day when loads of men came into the office (or their wives) requiring last minute refills on their testosterone cream. haha Awesome.  Happy Valentines day indeed.
  • I have a co-worker that is hilarious.  She asks me the silliest questions about my religion and it makes me wonder what she actually thinks of me.  She asked me if we celebrate birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Last Friday, she asked if we're allowed to dance.  (Do I radiate some sort of "Foot Loose" aura?)  She then put her fingers in both hands to make quotes as she asked, "Well don't you think music is satanic?"  haha No, my friend.  I love good tunes and I enjoy shaking it like you wouldn't believe. Neither of which are against my religion. haha Hilarity.
  • I got a new calling today.  Sunday school teacher.  I had that calling in Logan and I loved it.  It's funny to me because I remember being at BYU-Idaho back when I was like 18 and was asked by one of the bishopric members to substitute teach a Sunday School class one week.  I agreed...because I never wanted to say no to a calling.  But I was terrified.  I was so intimidated and thought that nothing I could say would be enlightening to the spiritually brilliant members of the class.  I had some label on all RM's that they knew everything about the gospel and my testimony and gospel knowledge would only make them roll their eyes and demonstrate what a spiritual amateur I was.  I called home crying to my dad and asked him for tips.  It's all hilarious and laughable to look back on now.  I spent a year and a half teaching the gospel non-stop.  So I had to figure it out and enjoy it.  But it's been funny to look back at that moment of being asked to teach one week and see how inadequate and terrified I felt.  It's not that I feel brilliant or like I have more to offer than other people.  But I understand now that I do have things to offer--everyone does--and it's my job as the teacher to facilitate a way for everyone to learn and share together.  Anyway, it still makes me nervous but I'm excited as well.  I know I'll learn a lot and it will push me.
  • Dating hilarity has happened.  My friend in the ward had had a really bad day.  My natural instinct for him, or any friend of mine, would be to do something nice to get their mind off it.  I think it's what anyone would do.  I had come home with extra lunch (some reps came into work with tons of sandwiches and salace so I got to take some home) and felt like the very least I could do was bring him some free food.  We hung out for a few hours and watched a movie together.  I, unfortunately, assume as always that we're just friends.  He kept inching closer on the couch.  We were sharing a blanket which I initially hadn't thought anything off but the shrinking proximity between us was making me start to rethink this.  I didn't feel in the mood or like I had the energy to have some embarrassing "I thought we were just friends" DTR so....I did something new.  I was racking my brain for anyway to get out of this and not have to deal with it.  I started thinking, "Well his next move is either going to be to put his arm around me or hand holding...neither of which I'm wanting to happen."  In him doing these gestures, he'll obviously be looking for me to reciprocate--snuggle in to him or hold his hand back.  Well, if I don't want to deal with this...I just need to be in a state where I cannot reciprocate whatever he does.  So...I forced myself to fall asleep. haha I started making less little comments during the film, closed my eyes, and fell asleep in a little ball.  Naturally he'll leave me alone if I'm asleep. haha When I woke up he was watching the special features.  I sat forward and when I sat back...his arm was there.  I was right!  Thankfully I only had to awkward my way through 15 minutes of it instead of a dimly lit hour and a half.  I told him that I needed to go home so I wouldn't fall asleep on the drive but just died laughing.  Definitely a first for me.  Purposefully falling asleep so I wouldn't have to deal with someone putting the moves on me and having to talk to them about it afterward. haha Gosh.  Good times.