Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Hoops We Jump Through

Wow... so I was reading through my latest entries, trying to clean up the I-only-have-a-half-hour-to-pump-out-this-blog harried grammar of my mission days, and realized I left a few gaping holes. I didn't even say what happened during my final days as a missionary.

Well, for starters, Quelito DID get baptized, and it was amazing. He's so cute. It was a great way to end my second-to-the-last day as a missionary.
Left to Right: Me, Quelito, Hna. Bryant, and Denise, the mom

And on my actual, legitimate last day (a Sunday), I was asked to give my actual, legitimate LAST talk in church. This assignment was SO last minute, and considering I'd already given my testimony the week before in church, AND a talk the week before that, I was a little burnt out. So I just winged it, which I have never done before. And it turned out well. When it comes to things we really care about/believe, usually the unscripted stuff turns out better. Of course, you still have to study and prepare the material, but I'd been doing that, oh, for only A YEAR AND A HALF previous, so I think that even though I couldn't tell you what I talked about, I remember feeling really good while talking about it. And the people in the congregation looked engaged, so I took that as a good sign.

And either the talk was THAT good, or people were feeling sentimental, cuz everyone was either asking for my contact information or offering me their skirts. I have to admit, the offers were tempting; there were some pretty sassy skirts. But it was just a final reminder of how great these people are, and how much I would miss all of them.

Anyway, I have realized a couple things that have been really hard readjusting to. I was really surprised there weren't more. Sometimes, it feels like my mission was a crazy time warp, and I'm already back to exactly how life was before the mission. Exactly the same, except I know Spanish, and experienced a whole different culture and had my life changed forever. But sometimes, it's almost like that was a crazy dream, and none of it was real. But all I need to throw me back into reality is to hear a loudspeaker announcement in some random department store, in Spanish, and I'm back. Something happened. Something big, and I was a part of it. And it will always be a part of me.

But back to what I was saying about my readjustments. Getting used to throwing toilet paper into the actual toilet has been quite the retraining process. It just didn't feel right for the first month of my being back. And I'm STILL getting used to the taste of tap water. It tastes a little off to me. But when you drink out of this for as long as I did, well... we'll just say that dirty became the new clean for me.

To be fair, I only got my water from a truck like this in Lava Pie, my last area. But I always drank from those blasted bottles.

Other than that, I think I've handled the "real world" with some sense of grace. I even have a job now. As I mentioned on Facebook, I get to rock a bright orange outfit, and help people make life-changing decisions. That's right- I am officially a Home Depot Associate, Garden Department.

This is what they don't tell you when you get your degree- that you'll probably just end up watering flowers someday. Actually, thus far, I enjoy my job, even though I work in the evening, until midnight, most days. But the other employees are friendly enough and it's fun kung fu-ing people, o sea, Hispanic people, with my Spanish. They just never see it coming. I think they go from being uncomfortable to impressed in about a 30 second time frame. They always end our conversations by encouraging me to keep practicing and learning. And it has made me realize just how much I miss I miss speaking the language on a regular basis. Those people I've talked to have touched on one of my greatest fears- I'm terrified of losing the language.

But at the moment, my peeves are overtaking my fears. One such peeve is that, to accomplish anything in this life requires a whole bunch of hoop jumping. Let's face it- in this day and age, you practically have to be certified to breathe. I'm violating some sort of code as we speak. I guess what's really eating at me is that the two professions I'm looking at right now (teaching and paralegal) require that I be certified to do them. Granted, I presently don't know much about being a paralegal (other than what I've learned from watching "Law and Order: SVU," but teaching- come on! I was a Teaching Assistant in college, I have my Bachelors in Humanities with an English emphasis, AND I've essentially done nothing but teach for the last year and a half of my life. I so have this! Except that I don't. If I want to follow through with either of these plans, it would require more schooling, o sea, more MONEY. Jesse J may say that it ain't about the $, cha-ching cha-ching, bu-bling bu-bling, but I also suspect that she isn't up to her extensions in school debt.

Now, I'll never regret my education, because I'd never be who I am and where I am without it. I guess I just wish I'd known more about what I wanted to do with it ahead of time. People told me not to worry, and so I didn't. "It'll come," they said. Well, it did come- but somehow "better late than never," is a feckless consolation at this point. I still believe my future's bright, but maybe it's too bright, cuz it's blinding me and I'm not quite sure where I'm going. Chalk it up to a quarter life crisis. I'm not alone, but I think there should be a help group for people like us. Hmmmmm... maybe I just found my vocation. I guess being an overly-confident teenager had to catch up with me at some point.

So, if anyone has any particularly strong emotions/opinions/jokes about the whole "hoop jumping" hoopla of today's up-and-comings, leave your message after the beep.  Uh, BEEP.



Oh, and a big P.S.- I passed the CBEST test. One less hoop to jump through.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It Just Takes Some Time (Little Sween You're in the Middle of the Ride)

Wow, I'm back. But no, really back, like, in charge of my own ship and everything. Well, if you can compare my keyboard to a helm, and being back with the fam again to the ol' ball and chain (er, I mean, anchor), then I guess I can say it feels pretty good to be back on the good ship bloggernaut.

O sea, it's sorta a big mix of feelings. Like the surprise goody bags Hna. Bryant loves getting at 7-11 with her brother. I just never know what I'm gonna pull out next from day-to-day. And there I go again, recounting a mission experience/companion/memory. I've come to a conclusion: people want to here about your mission... in theory. On your blog. In small doses. But I think that was one of my biggest weird factors upon coming home. I always thought it would be so natural to say, "oh how cool, milk from a jug and not a box," or "hey, the light comes on when I flip this switch... and stays on. You spoileds have REAL 24 hour light?!" People would think I had been culturally refined or somethin.'

Somehow, these comments just didnt' slide out as naturally as I would have hoped, if at all.

Not only that, but people don't really know how to respond to them. Reading about fantastical, death-defying missionary moves sounds good on paper (virtual or otherwise), but people nowadays are just so busy and if they have time to talk, they want it to be about a subject they can relate to. I agree with Einstein. Time IS relative. Not to say time moved differently, slower, strangely, on the mission but IT DID.  Where does it go now? I definitely feel like I'm accomplishing less, and yet, somehow, I find myself a month out of the proverbial airport gate, and life hasn't magically become simpler. Case in point- I really meant to write this post a few days after I got home, not weeks.  Anyway, more annoying than my lack of blog devotion is the fact that the problems I had pre-mission life didn't somehow vanish after my year-and-a-half of devoted God service. I'm still trying to figure out what in hell's kitchen I want to do with my life.

Is it possible to have a quarter life crisis? I feel like I've been having one for the past 3 years...

Hey, that sounds disheartening and stuff. I AM back in the real world! But I guess I'm not being completely fair (though I'm a lot less fair in general after 1.5 years of free tanning under an unforgiving Caribbean sun). As my original blog attests to, I was driven by a strong wind (more like a hurricane), to go on a mission. I didn't particularly want to go, but I accepted it, went, and ended up being all-the-better for it. Yeah! I can even hablar in espanol. And, you know, spiritual stuff. But now I come back to the harsh realities of, well, REALITY.  Should I attend the family ward or the ever-intimidating *gasp* singles ward? Where did all my friends go (or stay?) Why am I an adult that still lives with her parents? And WHO IS GONNA GIVE ME A JOB? Right before I left for the mission, I was offered a job interview that I'd tested for a year previous and almost positively would have gotten. And when my parents were kind enough to reconnect my cell phone line until I can get my own plan, o sea, the iPhone 4S (which, according to what everyone has been telling me, is pretty much mandatory), I found out that I had an old message on it- someone who had seen my resume on and was calling with a job interview.  There. Aren't. Words. Who plays these pranks? I feel like the time punch card of my life is full of holes in all the wrong places. As the Rolling Stones would say, "you can't always get what you want... but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." Maybe that's how I'll make my fame and fortune-writing a counter-song about the unsung option: what if you can't have either?

But it really ain't so bad. Hard? Obviously. Weird? Certainly? Self-doubt? On the occasion. I think I'm just being forced to get over any lingering entitlement mentality. If I should think I'm owed anything for being even a half-way decent missionary, I can almost feel the heavens rumble, with the indubitable accompanying voice saying "girl, PLEAZE." And I think I will. Be pleased, that is. And enjoy that which is enjoyable. Here isthe short list of some of the things I've done/decided/tried/enjoyed since being home (not necessarily in that order. But not NOT necessarily in that order):

*Be endlessly harassed by my sister
*Visit from the grandparentals
*Visit from the aunt eater
*Harassment from the brother
*Google chat
*Drive down Lombard Street and eat a crab sandwich in San Fransisco
*Toyed with the idea of being a teacher
*Go shooting
*Take the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test- necessary to teach in the good ol' C of A
*More harassment
*Speak in church about being the Good Lord's carrier pigeon (I believed I could fly!)
*Speak Spanish to the Post Man (and really no one else. I forget people don't automatically know that a white blondie can speak Antonio Banderas' language).
*Job search, which I think constitutes as a form of harassment

So I feel like my gift of the present is the presence of other people. I've gotten to see and at least talk to a lot of people I care about. But I can't help but have the feeling of being stuck in limbo. Nothing is settled. Where I go, if I stay, what I do. These are the kind of roots that help ground people and give them sanity, and I don't have them. And not like I was terribly sane to begin with. Har har, laughing at loud at my own expense. And yet, if the D.R. taught me one thing it's that you can handle ANYTHING. Even if it seems like parts of your life are held together with Silly Putty, something unexpected and delightful may be just around the corner. So cheers to Jimmy Eat World, who comforts me in times of uncertainty and unintentional fence sitting.

"The Middle" lyrics

It just takes some time,
little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be all right, ALL RIGHT

To all my fellow riders, just buckle down and hold on- No one will judge you if you have to let out a scream now and then.

Hanging on for dear life,

Sweeney - I no longer come with a title. Hopefully the name says it all at this point. Whatever "it" is.

Oh, and this is my grand and triumphant arrival. Is it everything you could have hoped for?
Freshly arrived

My biggest fan beats out mom for the honor of first hug

The Sibs


Nothing says welcome home quite like a sign on your garage door that says "welcome home!"
With cupcakes, no less.