Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Last Dance OR "Who Ran Four Miles? I Did!"

Part I
I was in middle school when I first personally encountered the concept of the Last Dance. I wasn't aware that it was a Thing (so unaware, that the first time I heard the song "Last Dance," I thought, "Cool."). But it was, all by itself, dramatic. The drama of the evening, the delay of seeking out the one boy, the back and forth and trips to the water fountain, etc., were all intentionally part of the intentional procrastinating of the evening's climax. And then, wham, it would strike us/me that we/I were coming up soon to the last dance, the Last Dance, and that all our hopes and dreams and fears would either realize themselves (or not), and this dance would either be a dance among men (or not).

And then, at my first middle school dance, they actually played "The Last Dance," the crime against music that is essentially a practical joke. The first thirty seconds are, you remember, slow. Slow, for just long enough for you to seek out (if you're brave) the boy you want to dance with and to begin working through those awkward first dancing moments, arms on his shoulders, hands around her waist (or on her hips). Slow for just long enough until the beat picks up, and it's a fast dance.


(Though, to be honest with you, I was never actually caught in it. I just watched the devastated uncomfortability it wreaked.)

All of that was a really inappropriate buildup for this: it is my last day at work in Provo.

Part II
Grandma and Grandpa take me out for lunch this afternoon, I come back to work, do my last run, do my last errands, have my last Cafe Rio, and then tomorrow, midday, Dave Hedengren (my to-Kansas driving partner) and I drive off into the proverbial sunset.

And it's worth noting--in fact, it's the reason I wrote this--that while this summer, I spent a lot of time not seeking people out (for which I apologize), and while I didn't get as much sleep as I should have (Stacey...Marisa...The West Wing...), I did read my scriptures, I did go to LSAT prep--every time I was supposed to, I did go to the temple weekly, and I did--are you ready?--reach my running goals.

I ran four miles--four miles--twice. Two days in a row. Me, Monday, four miles, no stopping. Me, Tuesday, four miles, no stopping.

And I have to tell you, it's like proverbial icing on the cake.

The Sum Up
In short, I haven't danced with a boy this summer and that doesn't worry or sadden me. So, my whole Last Dance intro was really a red herring. But I have run, and run and run and run, and finally, in the end, I ran just as long as I have wanted to. Four miles, non-stop, twice. And that's my story. And my summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My Own Private Mecca, or How to Get to a Natural Water Playground

My friends and I ran away a weekend or so ago and found ourselves at our target destination, which, to my delight, turned out to be my dream-come-true of a nature spot.

It's a natural waterslide and rivery system, up in the foothills of the Alpine Mountains. You can go, for free, and 20, 30, 40 minutes later, you're sliding down a natural waterslide, that doesn't hurt, that lets you go fast, that drops you off into an almost clear pool of mountain water on sandy, pebbly bottom.

And you can climb all you want, up the rocks, over the rocks, through the water, under the waterfalls. And you can explore and sit and think and feel like a country music album cover.

It's just such a great time that I'm hesitant to talk about it (despite my recent proselyting) because I haven't yet found the right words to explain it.

Everyone should go. And I'm including the directions below. (Note: They don't seem straightforward, but I went only once, and I've since been able to find it again myself and explain, on the phone, to someone else how to get there. It's not a difficult path; it's just without significant markers.)

1. Travel on I-15. (This is in Utah.)
2. Take the American Fork 500 East exit.
3. Go R on 500 East.
4. Turn L at the first major intersection (not the one by Carl's Jr.).
5. Go R on 100 East.
6. 100 East will turn into Hwy 74, Main Street in Alpine, and Alpine Highway. Stay on this road until you're done. On 100 East, you'll pass the Alpine School District office, the American Fork cemetary on your left, some developments and goats on your right, Lone Peak High School on your left, and eventually you'll come into some stop sign streetness. Keep going straight.
7. The road will eventually hit a roundabout. At the roundabout, do a 180, and head towards the chiropractor's office building (it should have a big sign on it). Keep heading on Alpine Highway.Eventually this road will start curving to your left. It will curve around, become windy, become narrow.
8. At some point, you'll see a really large gray house to your left. It has a big lawn. You might say to yourself, "Wow, that's a big lawn." Right after that, there will be a random farm-looking gate on the left side of the road. This is the entrance.
9. You can either park outside this gate on the side of the road and hike up (which is what I've done thus far), or you can do what all the cars that passed us while we were hiking did--you can unchain the gate (it shouldn't be locked) and drive into the field (there's a little dirt road).Rechain the gate. The field will have horses in it. Don't run into them.
10. The dirt road will curve to your right, and you'll hit a green gate. Undo this one, turn left onto the road, and redo the gate.
11. Drive up this road, going towards the mountains. Everytime you hit a fork, turn right. (This should be about twice.) The road will turn into a dirt road, then back into a paved road. You will trees and bushes growing up through the pavement. Keep going (remember to turn right at major forks).
12. Eventually (not too long--about a 20 minute walk), the paved road will end at a little parking lot looking thing. Park here.
13. You'll be able to hear the water from here. There is a major dirt road looking trail that's heading east (I think). I've seen people walk on this, but I don't know where it goes. The way I get to the waterfall is a little trail/clearing through the bush that is just to the left of this major dirt trail. It's just a clearing through trees and things that is result of a lot of people walking that way. Follow this for just a few minutes, and you should come out onto a rocky plateauish thing at the foot of a hill. There, in front of you, will be the waterslide.
14. It will be a great time.
15. To get to the top of the waterslide (if no one's there, already playing, to show you), you can climb a little rock wall to your right, and then walk along the top of that to the top of the waterslide. The waterslide has two seats--a middle one and a left one. The left one, apparently, gives you more air. Neither hurts. Feel free to go down on your stomach (though I haven't, yet).

1. Wear shoes that you can wear in the water. Not flip flops.
2. Wear shorts over your bathing suit.
3. Bring water (you will be thirsty and the river will mock that thirst).
4. After you've gone down the waterslide a little while, climb back up the river. You can walk alongside the river or climb through the water and across the rocks (I prefer a combination of both). You'll run into some lovely little pools and waterfalls. And if you go far enough, you'll hit a three-tiered waterfall system the size of a house, with a rope hanging down for you to grab and pull against as you climb a slick, mossy rock-face. Good and scary times. Explore. There's virtually no fauna.
5. Spend some time sitting in every body of water you see and under every rush of moving water.
6. Go when the sun is out--really out.
7. Bring a towel.
8. Tell someone else about it.

If you go and don't love it, I suggest two things:
(1) Try again. Maybe it was a cold day. Maybe you were with people you didn't like particularly. Maybe your bathing suit was uncomfortable. Maybe there were Utah Valley teens there, cramping your style. Just try again.
(2) Forgive me. I'm a moving-water kind of girl, and I have always dreamt of easy-access nature, solitude, and dizzying speeds. There will be water in my heaven. Water, rock, and light.

We're In, We're Out. I'm In, I'm Out.

I am about to embark on weeks of driving and larking adventures. I thought I would officially post the plans, for all who are wondering just how this Utah-New York-Canada-New York-Utah-Texas trip is going to go. (And if we all remember that I came to Utah from Texas, we can all appreciate the long-term chiasmus of my summer. Very religious.)

The Plans
1. Thursday, August 12--I pick up my friend Dave, after his final, connect with Nate and Brittyn and kidlettos, and we head out in my Brittyn's sister and husband's Passat to Kansas.
2. We drive like maniacs.
3. We arrive in Kansas sometime on Friday.
4. Friday night--we attend Matt Gee's (Ryan's brother) wedding reception.
5. Saturday morning--I drive away alone in the Passat (Dave is getting a ride back to UT with someone else), comforted only by my books on tape and Tiptronic technology (see for a lil more information on Tiptronicity).
6. I drive like a maniac to NY. At some point, I sleep.
7. I arrive in NY as soon sometime on Sunday.
8. I play with the family.
9. Monday--the family (those who are in NY) drive away up to Boston, to Sharon VT, to Canada, to play and to see my brother Joseph, whom we take home from his mission to Montreal on Thursday.

This is where it gets iffy.
Plan A
10. Sunday afternoon--we drive away (after Joseph's celebrations, etc.), across country in our van.
11. Wednesday--we arrive in Utah.
12. Wednesday afternoon--I fly to Texas.
13. Wednesday night--all concerned individuals (at least Elizabeth) rescue me from the airport and whisk me away to our happy new home.
And I'm back in Texas.

Plan B
(Pending job interviews and hiring and such--this is the less-nice but possibly possible option)
10. Sunday afternoon--my family drives away (after Joseph's celebrations, etc.), while I get in a plane and fly to Texas.
11. Sunday night--all concerned inviduals, la dee dah, and we go from the airport to Bent Oaks.
12. Monday and such--I interview/begin work.
13. Thursday evening--I begin class.

On the record: I've had a lovely, lovely summer here in Provo. It's been a small world of a summer, and I've loved going to and from work, to and from the track, to and from the church (or temple), to and from LSAT, and finally, to and from my house, and almost nowhere else. The people who surrounded me were/are phenomenally easy to love, and I felt protected, watched over, and tended to by greater, heavenly powers. It was a good time, a lovely, lovely time.

And yet, I'msoexcitedtoreturnto Austin. Soexcited.

(Good living this, it's.)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Midday Thursday Update

There's not much to say, really. I tried to pretend that I didn't have to make a lunch for myself today, that I wouldn't get hungry or that food would show up or that suddenly, ta dah!, I would have enough money to buy myself a chicken salad sandwich on an onion or poppyseed bun from the BYU vending machines (let's be honest--they're a secret BYU addiction).

But right before I left the house this morning, I put a nectarine, my last banana, and a thing of microwave popcorn in my typical lunch pail (a blue plastic Wal-Mart shopping bag). I also already had a thing of yogurt at work from yesterday. All this fell under what I hopefully entiteld Lunch Plan B. (I'm still pushing for a surprise free lunch at Thai Ruby. "Dr. Hatch, you're going to use department funds to send me to lunch at Thai Ruby? That's nice. Can it be on the clock?")

12:26 pm. I've eaten the banana. I've eaten the yogurt. I'm a little afraid to fill my stomach with buttery vacuity that is microwave popcorn, so I'm heading to the nectarine next. I am still working my way through the GIANT Costco bag of pretzels left over from our faculty seminar (in May). This brings up a story, that is also a tangent, that also might turn out to be the surprise purpose for this blogpost.

1. It was 2001, and I was a new employee in 118 HGB, the Writing Fellow office, we had a similar huge-o bag o' Costcoian pretzels. Someone kept leaving the top of the bag unzipped. And I would get kind of disgruntled and say, sometimes silently and sometimes audibly, "We need to shut this." I was envisioning the 24-lbs of Low Fat Cholesterol Free! pretzels soggy, pasty, white, and limp. Gone. Wasted. No good for the office eating. But two weeks, three weeks, four weeks--the bag was continually left open and the pretzels remained sharp, crisp, and edible. And then it hit me--

2. I'm from NY. In New York we would have needed to close the pretzel bag. In New York, the humidity is a predator and pretzels are unsuspecting, short-lived victims. In New York, you can say things like, "Waste not, want not." (But you wouldn't.) But in Utah, with Utahn co-workers, you can leave the pretzel bags open all you want, and still, months later, have happy, salty, crunch pretzeljoy (that's one word).

It's a lesson for us all. As John would say, "Let's apply it to our lives."

Thus ends my pretzel story. I'm heading to the microwave.

(This blog is dedicated to Laura, wherever I may find her.)