Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Gchat Lesson on Patience and Action

I wrote like three drafts of this blog post with all kinds of high-falutin' and mock epic ramp ups, but really I just want to say this: a friend of mine said a seriously beautiful and seemingly true thing today about how on earth we reconcile the need for patience and the need for action.* I feel like its truths will unfold.


5:10 PM David: patience is the essence of fine mexican food, sarah o [...]
that's what my favorite mexican restaurant in san diego has painted in large print on the wall
so i've decided to apply it to other aspects of my life
me: Wow.
5:12 PM Wow was too big a word for that moment, maybe.
Nevertheless, I am impressed.
Though how do you balance patience with taking control?
David: here's how i see it
me: say
5:13 PM David: i walk up to the register
and i spell out my order
tell them what i want
that's taking control
then i wait as they prepare it
knowing that it will be delicious
that's patience

I know. Seriously. A metaphor that is genius, elegant, and tasty.

Muchas muchas gracias, David Shoe.

*Or in scriptural words:

James 1:4: But let
patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

versus something like

D&C 58:29: But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

Monday, August 25, 2008

With Peter* Gone

We decided to drown our sorrows in fruit.

Missing Peter (and missing California), I went to Trader Joe's before dinner and bought
  • the six-pound container of blueberries
  • three containers of white nectarines (my favorite summer fruit, hands down)
  • one watermelon
  • one crenshaw (like a not-quite-ripe canteloupe)**
  • six pluots
  • a honeydew melon
  • a pineapple.***
At Trader Joe's, the checker had said, "How are you today?" He seemed to mean it, so I told him: "I'm good--but sad." And I told him how my brother left today on a two-year mission to Japan for my church (which, of course, required explanation) and how my family sent me to the store to buy comfort food. He said, "But you are proud of him, yes?" "Yes," I said. "Absolutely. Very proud."

But sad, too. The checker packed my groceries, and I considered the sadness. Peter's leaving this morning was tender. Beka buried her face in Peter's suit and cried as she hugged him goodbye. Rachel watched the huggings wet-eyed and solemn-faced. Jacob hugged Peter firmly, like a man-brother, and then said (with unexpected brightness), "Have fun." When Dad and Peter drove away, Mom and Rachel ran after the car. They stood on the sidewalk crying, long after the car had gone. When they finally came in, they told us that a neighbor had seen them out there and had come out to ask them if everything was all right.

Tonight Dad reported that Peter had cried all the way to the airport.

Grief seems too heavy a word for moments like these. Mourning, too. But they are the words that come to mind. I am grieving for Peter, and I am grieving for Palo Alto. I am mourning the loss of Melville and my law school days and the salads I loved and bought and got with the ridiculously good beef at Pluto's. Mourning that Peter will not raise his arched eyebrows at me across the table at breakfast tomorrow.

But Peter is not dead; he's in Utah. And Palo Alto and Pluto's are not gone. They are only gone from me. For now. And "Melville" may be gone, but the three women I loved are not (they exist, they assure me, though I'm having trouble visualizing their lives with others and apart from mine).

I both worry and have faith that I will not so acutely pine for days gone by forever. I know I will feel happier about Peter's whereabouts, and soon. (After nine years of my own away-from-home living, including one year of his own college life, I am used to having him gone, am I not?) My life will soon (too soon) fill up with the concerns and the chatting of new roommates, ward members, friends, visiting teachees. I am callous/faithful/pragmatic enough to move on. But what should I do in the meantime, in this interstitial zone? I don't even have a good name for it. The Empty Room. The Time Between. The Crossroads of Some-of-the-People-I-Love-Best-Have-Gone and There-Has-Not-Yet-Been-Enough-Living-to-Muddy-My-Memory-and-Mask-the-Leavings. Maybe that's the damnablest part of all. I can't even name the place I'm at and the feelings I have. At least, not succinctly. The sadness cat has got my (articulate) tongue.

When I left Trader Joe's, I left with four paper bags and one plastic one. As I pushed the cart away, the checker said, "I hope you have enough food." He said it half tenderly, half teasingly.

No more Melville and two years with no Peter?

No. The answer I'm going with is no.

*My use of "Peter" here is multivalent, of course. It's both literal and symbolic. Peter represents Peter himself, a seriously good 6' fellow of the brotherly persuasion, but also he represents the things I recently have moved from and/or lost. It has been a time of emotional and compounded leavings. Which is, I have to say, both exciting and totally sucky.

**Only these first four fruits were served at dinner. I'm sure we'll need fruit tomorrow. (Also, among other things I believe these days, I'm newly thinking that to be fully appreciated, honeydew melon should be served as a lone fruit. Preferably as the side of something hot and juicy and savory, like sausage. Or quiche. Consider.)

***(I also bought Trader Joe's marshmallows, which were square (because Trader Joe's has to be different) and which we roasted on forks and fondue skewers over our electric stove to make smores after dinner. We stood around the kitchen, trying to gracefully eat the drippy, sticky marshmallows we sandwiched with dark chocolate bars and pistachio-white chocolate chip cookies, and trying not to notice that Peter wasn't there.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Elder Peter Boshard

It seems almost unnecessary that my brother Peter was set apart today as a missionary.

He's going to be serving a full-time mission for two years in Tokyo, Japan, so, yes, in our church, this meant that he needed to be "set apart" (which is what we call the rite when he is given the official responsibility of being a missionary and blessed by the priesthood with the gifts he will need). And yes, being a set apart full-time missionary means that he will not be around, that he will not be on facebook, that he cannot read for government or study math or hug girls, that he will not come home for Christmas or leave me short voicemail messages about how he loves me and about what songs he's been singing non-stop of late. So yes, after today, having been set apart, his life will be different.

But I'm trying to imagine meaningfully, how.

Full-time missionary work seems to me to be about (1) learning to live in a fully consecrated, single-eyed, disciplined, and devoted way, and (2) blessing others through, among other things, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But, as a sister, I have to say, these are ways of being Peter is already practicing. He is, already, a student in AP Godly Living.

For one. Peter has led a more fully focused life than anyone I know, really. And he has since--I don't know, he started getting grades, probably. Maybe before. I probably wasn't consistently paying attention. Peter's focusedness has led to a lot of (entirely deserved) public acclaim, acclaim he likes (but only very, very privately) but also that he (entirely rightfully) finds highly problematic and distracting from what he really wants, which, I think, is to love God, serve others, and live in accordance with God's will for him. So, even as Peter was working towards being valedictorian, concert master, homecoming king, the physical education student of the year, an Eagle Scout, a seminary graduate, then a freshman at Harvard, a weekly homeless shelter volunteer, and a home teacher--he was also focused, sacrificing sleep and energies and so so much time--on being a rockstar, loving, and tender brother. A faithful pray-er. A diligent scripture-studier. (Even right now, as I write, he is sitting with the family in the living room, talking Judaism and Jesus and our nephews, when he really needs to pack. Dad said, "Peter needs to pack." And Peter said, characteristically, "This is more important. I can sleep on the plane.")

And, two, Peter shares his love of God thoughtfully and routinely with the people around him. Today, seven hours after he was set apart as a missionary, he baptized and confirmed his long-time friend and mentor (and, formerly, his high school teacher), with whom he has been working to study the gospel (as well as AP Java, AP Spanish, AP calculus, etc., etc., among other things) for years. Daily (literally, daily) conversations about the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, Preach My Gospel, God, Jesus, the Spirit. Even when Peter left New York and went to college, he was talking with Ross, praying for him, and trying with heart and Spirit to answer his many searching (and analytically minded) questions.

Missionary/hard work? Peter knows thee well.

But I do have faith--I do--that a full-time mission will teach Peter things. I'm sure he does, too. I have my own private hopes for him, of course (I'm a colonizer, we know, and spend too much time wanting other people to be what I want them to be). This includes a desire for him to come home more familiar with heart break. But too, interestingly, with a more natural joie de vivre (we, as a family--we're all working on this--we have a talent/tendency, we're realizing, for the intense and the sober). Maybe with the desire and ability to orate loudly, maybe like a Baptist preacher. (Okay, now I'm just making a wish list. How AWESOME would it be for Peter to come home from Tokyo able to preach like a Southern Baptist orator? AWESOME. And what are the chances? Almost nil. But a girl can dream.)

I was trying to explain earlier to Peter and Beka that, for me, as someone who has never served a full-time mission, missions are like this: "Ahhh? Twinkle twinkle twinkle! Ahhhh!"

I'm not sure what will happen during Peter's twinkling. And I feel safe predicting that it will not feel like twinkles to him. (Especially if heart break is on the horizon.) But I know that he and his companions and Japan will all be better for their years with each other.

As I am already better for my years with him.

Peter B., I love, love you so.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I ate so much zucchini bread tonight

I'm hurting right now.

(But my mom made it, and it was so, so good. Maybe I'm making up for
living away from home and thereby missing any regular chance at periodic but sane consumption of her baked vegetable sweet bread goodies as they've emerged from her lovin' oven over the course of the last nine years?)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On This Day in 1988

Twenty years ago today, on August 21, 1988, my family arrived in NY.

We'd lived in Stanford for four years, while my father was getting his PhD. We'd never lived in the East. My parents met and married in Salt Lake, and in 1984, they and the five of us then-living kids picked up and moved to CA. For four years we traveled back and forth between Palo Alto and Salt Lake, summer after summer, Christmas after Christmas, but it wasn't until 1988, when Dad finished school and took a job, that we packed up and left the West. In the end, it was a choice between Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Long Island, NY. (Maybe, if they'd chosen differently, I'd be blogging now in an OSU sweatshirt.)

Grandma and Grandpa Hoggard drove ahead with our stuff in a Hertz-Penske truck. We followed behind in our old tan van, driving 55 mph without air conditioning through Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, to, finally, New York. We wound our way around the city, found Long Island and the LIE, and, on a summer afternoon, pulled into West Sayville. 118 Cherry Avenue, West Sayville, NY. It was a new day. For dinner, we had Chinese food from the Wai Wah Kitchen. When second grade started a few weeks later, I told people who asked that we were planning to be in NY for "three to five years, seven at the most."

Twenty years later, today, Mom hung signs in our livingroom. "Happy 20th NYersary!" For dinner, as usual, we had Chinese food (but not from Wai Wah's Kitchen--our move in 1998 put us an hour west of West Sayville). We looked at old pictures, wrote fortunes for our fortune cookies, and made predictions about what would be true for us in 2028. "We'll have forty grandkids," Dad said to Mom. "That will require some more marriages," she said, looking at Jacob, Peter, Rachel, Bekah, and me significantly. "One hopes," I said. (I'm for children being born in wedlock, is what I mean.)

But today--also today--is my own anniversary. Today I made my own trek from Stanford to NY. I've finished law school, I've taken the bar, and I've moved out of Melville. Yesterday I made a final victory loop around Palo Alto. I said goodbye to my favorite tree. I bought chocolate chips from JJ&F's. I ran up College Ave, stopped by the Klutz store, returned a key to the law school, picked up my transcript, picked up my diploma, and walked down Embarcadero through our leafy, lovely neighborhood to Melville. KT, MH, and I had dinner at Pluto's. I hugged KT at Melville, RM in my heart, and MH at SFO. MH said, "Today San Francisco. Tomorrow, the world." And I dragged my suitcases away.

I JetBlued it over night and ended up here this morning. It's August 21, and I'm back in New York.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So Much* Has Been Funny to Us Lately

Sarah: I eat my Ben & Jerry's with milk. Appreciate my superior ways.

Michelle: Remember when our home teacher today tried to explain why he thought I was more "innocent" than you?

Michelle: I would have expected this mint ice cream to be green.

So once, we tried to be serious. (Note Michelle's regression, particularly.)

It's a good life.

*I'd say everything has been funny (that's the blog title Michelle and I agreed upon), but KT has had some super tragic family news. We are praying for her cousin and his lovely wife. See the wife's charming (ridiculously charming) blog here:

Last night I was reading in D&C 78, and I came across this:
17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
May heaven be with us all but especially, especially with the Nielsons.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday: A Day to Lift, A Day to Level

Today, I made this beauty:

It was, of course, originally full of heart-shaped watermelon chunks and blueberries, until it met seven girls I know.

Let's see that again. (Here, modeled by the lovely Sara S., one of the seven girls I know.)

And also today, I made this mess--gratuitously:

I'd made a normal sort of mess prepping my dinner (a bowtie pasta salad with salmon and edamame in a dill-ginger-mayonnaise glaze), but during dinner we decided that I would maybe take KT's bookshelf with me on the move, which meant a quick unloading of said bookshelf in preparation for the packers and movers coming early, early tomorrow. But the kitchen was messy, and MH was in it (but on the phone), and I didn't want her to think--Oh, those roommates, always leaving messes they may or may not remember to clean up--which, of course, she could rightfully think--so I was faced with a choice: clean up the mess, so it will be taken care of, OR find some way to let her know that the mess was on my mind and that I would, in fact, return.

I chose the latter. Go big or go home. So I scattered the edamame pods all over the counter, and I took the lid off the PAM spray and the lid off the ginger container, and then I turned to the pasta.

It was while I was sprinkling the remaining dry farfalle on the counter by the sink that Michelle turned from her phone conversation and said: "Sarah, WHAT are you doing?" And I threw the empty pasta bag on the ground and ran.

As Michelle says and said again today: "Sarah, you're on one."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Melville at Night

Points of interest:

The second window from the top left is slightly ajar. It is now, as it often has been, propped open by a small blue plastic elephant that appeared in my room one day. The first two windows on the left are mine.

The next two windows are Michelle's room, where she is, right now, peeling and cutting five green apples and talking on the phone with a boy. When her phone rang, we both guessed who it would be. As she flipped open her phone and walked from the kitchen, I heard her say, "I'm taking my apples with me."

The bottom two left windows are the kitchen, where I was (until I went outside to get a blanket from my car and ended up taking this picture) cutting watermelon into heart-shaped chunks, with a cookie cutter that disintegrated just as the job was done. Michelle (in her room) and I (in the kitchen) are both preparing our contributions for a Tea and Testimony party two ward friends are having after church tomorrow. We'll drink herbal tea and eat mini-apple turnovers and heart-shaped watermelon chunks and talk about how the Lord has blessed our lives recently. It will be a good Sabbath.

The bottom two right windows are the windows to our eating room, what I began to call the Cupcake Room after Reija's birthday cupcake extravaganza. (You can see the curtains Reija bought and hung for our first Christmas at Melville.) Michelle and I ate beef stroganoff there two hours ago (at 9 pm)--she made it with mustard, as per the infallible instructions of Rachael Ray. Also, two hours ago, there I demonstrated for Michelle what my moving this Wednesday will be like. She was a large slice of nectarine (bruised, significantly); I was a small one. The beef pieces came (my movers) and packed my stuff off to the right side of the table (DC). My nectarine slice flew from the plate it shared with Michelle over the table and through the air, landing (just north of the beef pieces) on my plate, which happened to be covered with stroganoff gravy. "The gravy of my family's love," I explained to her.

She said the move is now, finally, clear to her.

Actually, no, she didn't. I totally just made that up. I think she's in denial.

And the dark windows (which you can't see) to the right of Michelle's windows are the glass that protects a sleeping KT from a Palo Alto night. Karren has been working hard for work and hard for Prop 8 (it's newly her assignment to rally ward members to support California's initiative to state constitutionalize marriage as between only a man and a woman), but she is, gratefully, asleep now in her wide, white bed.

Beneath palm leaves and moonlight, Melville wants Reija.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Pantry

Melville has a pantry.

It's a cute pantry. A little three-foot-by-three-foot sort of job, in the corner between the fridge and the stove. Since Christmas, it has held not only our food stuffs--scattered on shelves and floor--but also a small Reija-made painting of a ship and a great white whale. In honor of Mr. Melville and the name he contributed to our street and, derivatively, to our house.

The success of the pantry is its slimness, its size of two-peopleness, its folding blue door that allows someone(s) to enclose themselves in the pantry. Shut off from the kitchen. Alone for a moment. With the cake mixes and the sugar and the syrup--and with each other. The makings of many sweet things.

The pantry. Place where Melvillain dreams have come true.

I have one week left (before I move) for it to happen for me. I'm ready, and I believe.

Monday, August 04, 2008

We're in Ohio.

At the Delux Inn.

Doesn't it look delux?

(I didn't misspell that. The picture I found online says it's the Fremont Motel, but it must be under new management because the sign outside definitely says DELUX INN. Yes, it is kind of creepy.)

To update: Second day of the bar went fine. The family picked me up. We got squished by a semi (some noticeable but only cosmetic damage) and kept driving, all the way to Utah, where we family reunioned at the family homestead (that will be a post of its own, if ever I get the pictures from my mom's camera--turns out, I come from people who Lived By The Land), and where, on Sunday, I was picked up by Reija and whisked away. East again, back on I-80, through Wyoming and Dix, Nebraska, and Lincoln, Des Moines, Chicago, South Bend, Toledo, to here, Fremont. Home of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. And the Delux Inn.

Tomorrow, Rochester. And a new life for Reija. And maybe more than one night in the same bed for me.

Here's to intransience.