“Guess what my host parents got me?” Sandra nearly shouted as she sat down at the booth. Bruna and I were already sitting with our lunch trays.
“What?” Bruna asked, making room.
“Scriptures! And it has all of the books—you know the ones? It has the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and…”
I burst out laughing. I had never seen somebody so excited about a pair of scriptures.
But the girls didn’t notice me. “Me too! I got a Book of Mormon in Portuguese!” said Bruna.
“I’m really excited about it.” Sandra said. “And for my birthday, they gave me a CTR ring.”
I smiled. CTR: Choose the Right. When was the last time I had a CTR ring?
“You guys are hilarious.” I said.
Sandra looked offended. “Why? It’s culture. This stuff is cool.”
Ahh, yes. It was culture. I should have understood from the beginning. I sat there remembering the things I loved in Germany. Schokocroissants, Kinderregel, Rittersport, and schokostreusel—AKA chocolate. In fact, chocolate was more than half of what I brought home. I still find random chocolate sprinkles hidden under the couch or inside my pillowcase. What else? Ohh yes, my eggplant costume from Karneval, journals from Oma, German history books, pins from Bavaria, Hiltrud’s wind chime, Marie’s pink bear and duck pillow, jewelry from Josa, Kulis from Lens, and over five thousand pictures. I failed to bring home a German bible.
After school, Bruna came over for dinner. She was ecstatic to see beans, rice, and chicken on her plate. My mom asked what she thought of the American food.
“The food is just different here. I never feel full, so I eat all of the time. And now look, I am fat.” She puffed out her cheeks and sank into her shoulders.
Germany’s food was also hard on me. Though I loved Schnitzel, Schwarzbrot, Sauerkraut, Kartoffelpürre, and Blumenkohl, my stomach could not handle the acid. It wasn’t until I got back and started taking Prilosec that the pains started to ease up.
I’ve heard the other exchange students talk about America.
Nele (Germany): “I like that you can drive at 16. We can’t drive until we’re 18.”
Macarena (Spain): “You can refill your drinks here!”
Sandra: “I really like the school spirit because it feels like a big family.”
I can tell that they are having fun. They try out for basketball, drill team, and the plays. They dance at stomps. They go to Young Women’s activities and make ice cream with friends. They take Driver’s Ed and learn how to drive. I can’t help but smile when I see them at school or the grocery store with their host moms.
Mom was sick for two weeks in December-sicker than we’ve ever seen her. She’s grumpy when she’s sick. Really grumpy. Then Mira was sick for the next week and a half. It was the same illness as Mom’s: weak, high fever, and a croaky voice. She was also a grump. On a regular day, Mira never yells or scowls for more than a minute. I thought her only two emotions were extremely happy and extremely sad. Apparently not. “Mom, stop talking to me like I’m three!” she yells.
“Ugh, what is wrong with you.”
“Everybody BEEE QUIEEEET!”
Now Harrison is sick. Weak. High fever. Croaky voice.
“Half of the family has been sick this season,” I said last night at the dinner table.
“Yeah and you’re next!” Max said with an evil grin, pointing his finger at me. I stuck my tongue out.
“Oh wait,” he began again, “You’re already sick. Don’t you need drugs?”
“I know,” he smiled.
Today, Mom and I walked in the house after picking up donuts. Mira ran up to greet us.
“Where’s Max?” Mom asked.
“He’s in the bathroom! Barfing!”
“Ugggggggghh,” a voice came from the bathroom. “I’m not barfing, just attempting.”
“Yeah, he’s sick,” Mira said.
I remembered Max’s finger pointing at me the night before. You’re next! He moaned again. “Uhhhh.”
I hid my smile.
Church began at 9 am instead of 11 am. Every new year, the time changes. I like church in the mornings, as long as I sleep well beforehand. But I didn’t sleep well… I spent the night from 10:30 p.m. to 2 am talking to my parents. I even snuggled with my dad. I don’t hug my parents often because I’m weird about that (which I hate), but it was one of those nights where I just wanted to talk and snuggle. The next day I walked into Sacrament Meeting with half open eyes and a dress that seriously needed a lint roller.
It was the first Sunday of the month, which meant testimony meeting and fasting. Maxwell kept rocking back and forth on the bench.
“Do you need to pee?” I whispered.
He scowled, “No! I’m hungry. And I want to eat.”
“You chose to fast.” I said. “I heard you this morning. You told everyone you were going to.” He rolled his eyes at me and stuck his tongue out. I smiled and nudged him. He went on rocking.
Church members got up and shared their testimonies. It wasn’t a weird testimony meeting. I felt warm and at peace hearing the words from the members. Teri also got up. Teri is a year older than me. She has a brain tumor. She said that though her life is difficult right now, she must have faith. If you have faith, she said, you cannot fear. The two do not coexist. I felt that warm peaceful feeling overwhelm me. She was right.
My favorite scripture is in Doctrine and Covenants (one of the 4 books of scripture used in the LDS church) chapter 34 verse 11. It says, “If you are faithful, I am with you until I come.” Although I know that I am an anxious person, lately I have feared life and the future more than any time before. It is important to have faith in God and in yourself. I had forgotten that.
Sister K, my Young Women’s advisor, got released. She was a beautiful and powerful teacher. I loved her and looked up to her. Now another woman, Sister Madd, will be our advisor. She and her husband are my Sunday school teachers. I am excited to be with her for both the second and third hour on Sundays.
We had a combined lesson for Young Women’s. All of the beehives, miamaids, and laurels were there. I looked at the little beehive girls who just turned 12 and the miamaids who were getting into black eyeliner and boys. Then there was Miranda and me, the laurels, getting ready for college and waiting impatiently for independence. I thought about Tia, Mikell and Andrea, who were laurels when I was young. They were beautiful girls and I always wanted to be just like them. I remembered them making time for Wednesday activities, even when they were older. I decided I’d go to Young Women’s on Wednesdays more often.
Another thing. I’ve decided I don’t want to leave home without having a strong testimony of the good ol’ BOM. The Bishop’s yearly challenge is for us to read the Book of Mormon. I’ve read it a million times before, but this time I’m going to sink my head into the stories and really try to understand. I have a testimony that church makes me happy, that things like the Word of Wisdom and the Plan of Salvation are true, but I don’t have a strong testimony about the Book of Mormon. When I read this time, I will not be cynical, but keep my heart open. I will ignore the things that bother me about religion. I will notice how I feel as I read and after I read. I will pray and ask to know the truth.
It was a good Sunday to start off my week.
I have been lucky to have good friends in my life. When I was ten, my old German neighbors, Marlies and Jerry, introduced me to their granddaughter, Emily. On our first play date, we ran through Jerry’s jungle of flowers (her backyard). We picked grapes from the vines hanging from the canopy and chased her Siamese cats, Porscha and Lilly. On other days, we climbed tall trees in Sugarhouse and ate honey suckle. We told secrets. We watched sunsets at Dandelion forest. We grew from little girls into tweens. We worried about our growing body parts and bluntly asked if the other was having the same abnormalities.
Because of Emily, I saw a “friend” as someone who thinks you’re dorky, brilliant, witty, strange, and beautiful all at the same time. Someone who loves you no. matter. what.
I was lucky in middle school. I met Megan in careers class. Tasia in art. Ana (who moved from Mexico) at church. The four of us hit it off.
Tasia was a punk rocker with attitude and Pocahontas hair. She was a dancer. She painted her fingernails black and used bright green eye shadow. Megan could hip hop, slaughter anyone at basketball, and spent her weekends playing golf. She could crack a joke at the drop of a hat and was always the life of the party. Then there was Ana who could shop all day and still get 100% on any school assignment. She was brilliant and fashionable. She filled our lockers with “I love you!” post its notes on our birthdays. She was a listener and knew how to cheer any one up.
I grew close to Loira in tenth grade. I loved her sweet laughs, her loud voice, how willing she was to help. I loved how she forced me to the gym, and as a reward, sat with me at the lake to spy on Will. I spent hours talking to her and never got bored.
I was lucky when I met Lucas. He pointed out the beauty in buildings, people, and culture. Karneval nights- he danced with strangers. The plane back to America – Lucas was so interested in the old man sitting next to him.
I was lucky when I met Micky. I can’t write about Micky right now, because it makes me sad. But I loved Micky, and was spoiled to have him as a friend.
This year, I am at a new school. I am back in Utah. I am going to college next year.
Ana has moved back to Mexico. Tasia is gone. Megan is gone (for the basketball season, at least). Loira is in college. Lucas is no longer a train ride away. Micky is gone.
I am attached to these people. I think about them more than any of them know. I am alone right now because I have no desire to make new friends, I just want to have my old friends back.
This was a girl’s Facebook status posted yesterday. There were 48 comments that followed. All are High School students.
You are right. It’s alright to judge someone based entirely on their looks. Cause of course, all people that have stretched lobes participate in homosexual activities. Epic fail. I know its taboo on planet Mormon… but try to be a bit open-minded maybe?
Yesterday at 5:15pm · Like
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23 hours ago · Like
Ms. D decided to give us a life this week and lay off the homework.
So I’ve watched two documentaries,
been an extreme Facebook addict,
eaten my Advent chocolates up to the 20th,
taken a shower,
watched three episodes of Glee,
talked to Lara and Ann-Kathrin from Germany,
and… That’s all I can think of.
Students complain about homework, being too busy, and having too many chores. But when they have time to do what they want, they do nothing but complain about their boredom. This week I thought, “Great! I can send off the Germany photos to CBYXers, or work on my art journal, or read Harry Potter, or call Jordan, or watch movie recommendations, or book recommendations, or be with the family.” It didn’t happen. Instead I was sitting in front of a computer. bored.
But I loved talking to Ann-Kathrin and Lara.
and watching documentaries.
National Geographic- Stress: Portrait of a Killer. Although during the first five minutes, a man with a deep voice says “Stress leads to death.” Dun dun dun. I could feel my heart beating fast. Oh my gosh, I’m going to die. Stress kills people. Am I dying? Another thing to worry about when I fall asleep at night.
But really. I loved it.
Imagine: John Lennon. 🙂
I feel weird.
I am insane.
Did I mention anxious?
I am unmotivated.
I am unsatisfied.
I want Sugarhouse
I am anxious.
Fall stayed only for a short time before the air sprinkled white crystals on our roofs. There wasn’t enough time to admire the leaves’ radiant reds and oranges on the mountains. Pity. I’ve always loved the fall. More than winter. Fall never made me anxious about anything. No slipping cars, Santas falling on the sidewalk, or furious shivers. Fall only brought delicious smells and cozy sweaters.
Megan and I celebrated the last bits of fall by doing a couple of things:
-Attending our last high school football games. Screaming our friends’ names and dancing when the band played.
-Porch chats. Talking about anything and everything because we can.
-Eating donuts with orange sprinkles. Megan took the two of us out for donuts the day Miss D announced me as the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper.
-Halloween party. Shopping together at Harmon’s, buying pizza, and showing up late to our own party.
-Making interpretive dance moves in the car while listening to Fleetwood Mac.
I love Megan. She is the most loving person I know. She makes me excited about the future and opportunities in my life. I am always happy when I am with her. Megan makes me want to be the best I can be. I am grateful for her influence in my life.
I have many other things to talk about. Like ranting about my math teacher. Or how excited I am to be editor-in-chief! But I’d rather ask you about book recommendations. I need a book to read over the weekend. Something uplifting… or factual. I’ve been reading Hamlet, The Road, and Crime and Punishment for the past two weeks. Definitely need a break. Any recommendations?
“You look like a nerd with that giant backpack,” Megan said to me after school. She held back her giggles as we walked to the car.
“I know! But I can’t use my hippie bag anymore. I have too many books.”
My face was parallel to the ground. If I stood up straight, my backpack would pull me downward and I’d fall. The weight on my back was too heavy, so I balanced it out by leaning my head forward. I’m a walking ninety-degree angle. …Did I really just think that? Who thinks that?
“What’s in the bag?” she laughed. Along with my fat backpack, I was holding a plastic sack filled with more weight. “Books. More books,” I replied. The sack pulled my body to the side. My shoulders would look deformed and unsymmetrical in the morning. Falling over ninety-degree angle.
She didn’t ask me what books they were, so I didn’t tell her. That in itself was another story. My English teacher asked us to bring a copy of Hamlet to school. A week ago, I asked my mom if we had a copy already. “Of course we do,” she said. So I didn’t worry about it for the rest of the week until the day before I had to bring it to class. “Where’s the Hamlet copy?” I asked her. Then she went upstairs to grab it and came back with a monstrosity. “We don’t have a separate copy of Hamlet, but this is the Complete Works of Shakespeare.” I should have prepared for this. Mom was the one in college who didn’t have a pocket dictionary at home. Instead of buying one, she brought the giant Webster’s Dictionary from the bookstand in our living room and dragged it to class with her.
Now I haul the giant Shakespeare book to school every day. Along with the US history book, math book, and the other million books for English.
My eyes hurt and I get headaches in class. I realize that I’m squinting to see the white board. Time to get out my good ol’ glasses again from the nightstand’s dusty drawers. Here comes Anne. Giant backpack, giant plastic sack, a falling-over-human-ninety-degree-angle-with-shoulder-deformations-AND-GLASSES. Nerd times a billion.
This is why nerds are nerds. Because they go on a foreign exchange, come back having to take all the class requirements for the year they missed, PLUS the current year’s requirements, go home with books and books and books shoved into their backpack until the zipper breaks, do homework until ten every night, stay up staring at their computer researching, get bad eyes, get glasses, wake up exhausted, leave for school and forget to brush their teeth, and DO IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! Muahahaha!