Sunday, March 30, 2008

Glow, fat heads, and NYC

There is this little Italian trattoria by my work that I am obsessed with. I dream of the fresca sandwich nightly. So, when my sister, Lauren, flew into town, I decided to take her there. The owner found out that we were Mormon (as they always do somehow). He immediately juxtaposed these three sentences, "I love Mormons! They have such great complexions. They're like a super race." He quite obviously was referring to the Mormon "glow," but being ignorant of semantics, chose to call it complexion.

All aglow, Lauren and I headed off to NYC (which has been Lauren's dream for oh, about all 17 years of her life). She died in SLC and arose in the fashion heaven of NYC. I think her highlight was H&M shopping, but she claims it was Central Park.

On Saturday, we went to the kite flying festival on the Mall. My roommate, Claire, poured her whole soul into creating a phenomenal tetrahedral four-cell kite, including hand sewing and collapsable joints. Tragedy struck, however, when she was trying to get the kite in the air. As she was running, the kite began to catch air and rose precisely to children's head-level. As it so happened, a fat-headed child stood aimlessly near the Washington Monument and managed to get his noggin stuck inside the kite, unbeknownst to Claire, who continued to run despite the slight drag she experienced. Continual tugging on Claire's part caused the fat-headed child to fall, breaking the kite in several places. We had the likes of the President of the Kite Association come to play kite-doctor, but to no avail. The kite would not fly. This is why we a. should not let small children out of the house, and b. need to urgently address the obesity epidemic in this country. Claire's spirits did seem a bit cheered when she saw the huge Mao kite in the air. But, then again, whose spirits aren't lifted with a little Mao?

Monday, March 24, 2008


I fully realize that Easter was yesterday; however, I do so hope that you will indulge me a Pascal post in the spirit of Easter. Now, what Easter would be complete without a little egg dying and some Pirates of the Caribbean egg stickers?

Also, on Saturday we went to the Easter Vigil at the National Cathedral. It was a great service. The cathedral was completely dark in representation of the tomb and the darkness associated with Christ's death. The darkness was almost palpable and I felt a sense of sadness mingled with hopelessness, which I believe the darkness is wont to invoke. Upon entering, we each received a candle. At the beginning of the service, the priests and other leaders entered carrying torches and lighted candles. It was poignant to witness that symbolism of the resurrection - of bringing back the light to the Earth. As the leaders walked up the middle aisle, they would light people's candles. The most beautiful part for me was watching people lighting one another's candles. Each person turned to the next and lighted his/her candle. The dual symbolism really struck me - that of Christ bringing light and hope, coupled with the idea that we are the bearers of that light. We share the light with others and hold the locust of responsibility. It was amazing to watch the light in the cathedral grow brighter and brighter even though we each held only a small candle. It was experiential learning where I saw and felt the light increasing until it filled the whole cathedral. It made my Easter more meaningful and thoughtful.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another one bites the dust

I am beginning to believe that my workplace is a microcosm of the greater economy. Let me just start by saying that my organization is up for rebid in June, which means that lots of people are feeling nervous about job security. So, many people are nipping the heartache in the bud by moving on to greener fields. Literally every day I get an email inviting me to join in a happy hour celebration to bid farewell to (mostly) people I've never met. Sometimes the happy hours exceed my personal quota of 1 daily. In light of this, I have adopted "Another one bites the dust" as my work theme song. This week, my boss topped it all off by announcing that he was leaving.

It is as though when one person gets nervous and pulls out, the rest suddenly cannot function. The left-overs have to bear increasing amounts of weight and responsibility. Some cannot handle the pressure and politely beg pardon. Some, seeing others' nervousness, yet not having been nervous themselves, feel that they must - under a sort of obligation or realization - become nervous as well. Thus begins the interminable cycle. How do we stem the fear? How do we keep those left from pulling out even amidst trying circumstances? How can we ensure that uncertainty does not quench our passion?

I am not capable of answering such questions. They are just musings. However, we are now placing bets at my work about who will be next.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars"

Death of a salesman

On Friday night I went to see Death of a Salesman. Each time I read or see the play, something different sticks out to me. This time, I caught myself pondering over what we equate with value in this life. The theme that struck me repeatedly was that nothing has value unless it can be sold. Tangible, measurable commodities - in this stage world - are the only things that hold value. Uncle Ben continually chided Willy for not seeking riches in the jungle, discounting being well-liked and having good children. (Never mind the fact that those were both illusions.) Ben brings up the idea, "now that (money) is something you can hold onto." If you can't heft it, if it isn't palpable, it is not valuable. How ironic that money is the one thing (although tangible) that we cannot hold onto. In the end (in my eyes) Willy cedes to the idea that money and the amassing of things is what gives a man worth. He believes he will be of more value dead than alive, because his life insurance will provide his family with "value" that they were lacking all those years. $20,000, after all, is a whole lot of value. Willy says, "After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive." While material worth may have increased with his death, moral worth declined.
These thoughts were coupled with some scriptures I have been thinking about. In 2nd Nephi, it talks of priestcrafts, how churches will "preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor." "...behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion." Nephi then suggests that the antithesis and solution to these priestcrafts is charity. "Wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love...Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish... for if they labor for money they shall perish." I return to my original question: What do we value in this life? It seems that in the process of valuing monetary gain, worldly recognition, and praise, we begin to seek not the welfare of Zion. We become so focused on ourselves, our own "needs" and pursuits that we cease to notice the needs of those around us. We begin to suffer our fellow laborers to perish, and we grind their faces, so to speak. We can choose to value equality and charity, or money and praise. It is, of course, not that black and white. But the beginning steps of valuing one or the other take us down well-trodden, opposing paths. Seeing Death of a Salesman was a positive impetus for me to examine the black, white, and gray areas of my values.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wickedly wicked

We made the trek to the land of the Cleves to see Nikki's brother in Wicked. It was fabulous - every minute. Great company, great show, great music, great food. What else can you ask for?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Where have all the socks and tupperware tops gone?

Something simply scandalous has occurred. The socks have run off with the tupperware tops. I can't fathom why the tupperware tops would leave their beloved lower halves for a stinky, holey sock, but they have done it, and it alarming numbers. I'm sure that single socks have their virtues - they can be warm and fuzzy, I suppose. But, I think that tupperware tops and socks are quite ill-matched. I wish they would come back and join their rightful mates.