Thursday, July 21, 2011

Maurice, It's French

People say that once you get your mission call the boys start appearing. I expected this to mean that nice Mormon boys would start to look at me twice (or even once for that matter) and after a demure flutter of my eyelashes I would have to tenderly decline their proposal (for a date, marriage, family, etc.)

This was not the reality.

Enter Maurice.

Once upon a summer day I was at Walmart stocking up on groceries for my happy family of four. As I examined strawberries, which were on sale, I heard someone behind me say something about "beautiful," but I didn't catch much else. I figured it was an off-hand comment about the strawberries, and turned around to find a man 6 inches away from my face. I gave him a confused smile and he repeated himself, "Brown. It's a beautiful color." I happened to be wearing a brown dress.

"Oh, thank you. I think so too." I said, thinking that would be the end of the conversation.

It wasn't.

He proceeded to gush about the color brown. "What color is the earth? Blue, green, and brown." And he gave me this look like, obviously! "The colors of France are brown and blue--"

??? WHAT ???

The colors of France are definitely red, blue, and white.

After his prose on how wonderful the color brown is, he asked my name. I gave it to him. He took my hand, "Elisabeth, it is so nice to meet you." This is when things got . . . uncomfortable . . .

He. Kissed. My. Hand.

That is more action than I've ever gotten and it was wet and gross. And inappropriate. I delicately withdrew, wondering when this exchange was going to end.

"My name is Maurice, it's French."

This was too much. At this point, I had to play along with the absurdity. "Maurice, it is so nice to meet you."

The conversation--or his monologuing--continued. Things about how he wears a three piece suit and pocket watch to Sunday services. How he was born in the wrong decade and should have lived in the 1920s. How his mother doesn't wear make-up and that's why he prefers women who don't--obviously!--(which I found insulting, by the way). All the while he kept touching my hands, which were resting on my cart.

Gag me.

"Tell me, Elisabeth, what do you like to do when you have free time."

"I love to cook--hence being at the grocery store."

"Elisabeth, we were just made for each other. Men think that they have to spend a bunch of money--especially when their goal is to [insert air quotes here] 'have sex', but when I want to treat a woman right, I like to take her to my house, make her a home-cooked meal and feed her by hand--"

Excuse me?!?!

That is disgusting.

More monologuing. "The name Elisabeth is Hebrew, you know." (Actually, it's the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Elisheba, but whatever.)

"Well, Elisabeth, would you like to shop together?"

!!!! NO !!!!

"You know, Maurice, I kind of have a busy day, so I'm just running in and out." That was a big fat lie. I was there to stock up. I had just walked in the store when he pounced on me and I had a good hour of shopping left.

"I completely understand. How can I give you my number?"

Thank you so much for not asking for mine. "You can write it on this note pad." The note pad that had the first vision in Spanish written on it because I had been memorizing it that morning.

"If you have your phone, you could save it in there."

Yeah, right. "You know, the note pad is better, I live by it."

"Elisabeth, I totally understand that. I'm a creator--" What does that even mean? "--so I keep a notebook with me all the time to write down my ideas."

"That is so good." Who is this guy?

He writes down his number. "My name is Maurice, it's French." Got it. But if you were really that cool, you wouldn't be shopping in a Walmart right now. That kind of cramps your style in a major way.

"Tell me Elisabeth, when can I expect you to call."

"I'm not really sure of my schedule."

"I understand. Elisabeth, let me just tell you how I am with women. If you don't call in the next 3 days, I'll forget this conversation. So I need to to call within 3 days so I remember who you are."

Wow. Because that doesn't make you seem like a total tool.

"Maurice, thank you so much for letting me know."

"It was so nice to meet you, Elisabeth. I saw you from across the parking lot--" creepy. "--and thought, if I run into her, I need to tell her how beautiful she looks." creepy squared. "I look forward to hearing from you."

I make an indistinct sound, smile, wave, and bolt.

I can't walk into a Walmart without feeling like someone is watching me.

Let me just tell you, this man was definitely at least 20 years older than me. So even if I bought into is attempt at Euro-chic, I've seen "An Education" (Scherfig, 2009)--I know how these things end.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Sometimes when I feel sad I stare at myself in the mirror. I stand there, very still, for a very long time looking at that sad person looking back at me. I look into her eyes and try to discover the things that burden her soul. And then I try to see the things that lift it. I look at her face and I wonder what other people see when they look at it.

Sometimes I see a tear crawling down her cheek.

It takes a long time, but eventually I start to talk to her. I always make sure to start by telling her she's beautiful.

Telling yourself that you are beautiful seems to be against the rules nowadays. But yourself would be so much happier if she could hear that you think she is beautiful. And I think the more beautiful yourself feels the more beautiful you will feel.

And you are, you know. You are beautiful.

You don't need to be sad to do it. Just walk in front of the mirror. Take a moment. And then tell her "You are beautiful." Let it sink in. Then walk away.

Can't you just feel how happy that made her?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sous le ciel de Paris

As I assume the role of personal chef to my family, I find myself, not fully blooming into the familiar world of domesticity as I had expected, but rather escaping into an untouched realm.

I find myself on a European adventure.

Each day I go to the store to buy the things I need for dinner. I pretend I am at a street market, picking out my ingredients and planning my menu as I go. When I see a sign that says "sale" I pretend it says "picked today" and begin to imagine all the things I can do with such beautifully fresh ingredients.

I inspect a pile of green beans, determined to select the very best to bring home to my family. And as I do so, I can faintly hear the bells of Notre Dame ringing in the distance.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Scrapbook of a Few Hours

I feel as though I might be the daughter of some wealthy land owner at the turn of the 19th Century. Not that my father is wealthy, though after three years of living in a college apartment, being back in this house certainly makes it feel that way. But the feeling really has less to do with the house itself and more to do with the atmosphere. I am wearing a sundress that makes me feel like I walked right out of the 1950s. I went outside with my sunhat and sunglasses in tow and lay on one of the white benches to read for a while. I read chapter 3 of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and somewhere in the middle dosed off for a while. There is a short discussion in chapter 3 about memory books and what is held inside of them.

Here is mine for this day--for that brief soiree in the backyard this afternoon. No scraps or trimmings, only words and memories, which seem more substantial in the end anyway.

The sun is bright and hot. I sat directly under it until my skin was burning, and then for a moment longer before I sneaked into the shade for refuge.

And there, hanging from the porch cover is the wind chime, which rings majestically as the desert breeze caresses it along its way to a mysterious place that can be seen only in dreams. Birds are chirping as this same wind ruffles their feathers. It is their season--the season of life and growth--and they are so full of hope and gratitude that they cannot keep from singing.

The sun and the wind and the sound of the chime and bird songs cannot be clipped and pasted on a page, but if they could they would sit next to a small piece of my dress, which is orange and tan. And my hat, which is green.

And I would reserve a small corner for a timeless bouquet of blossoms and leaves from the desert plants that speckle the yard in true New Mexican fashion.

Then on the neighboring page, there would be a collage of images. Not images the way they exist in a photograph. But images they way they exist in a memory. The visual isn't entirely clear, but the feeling is as strong as it was in the moment it was first felt. Old wagon wheels, a thin and elegant roll of barbed wire, clay pots and a metal pitcher, my grandfather's old work bench . . .

Sitting here in this air, with this sun, these plants, and artifacts from a time almost forgotten by the people who tread the ancient earth, I don't feel afraid of today or tomorrow or even yesterday. Out here with the endless New Mexican sky unfolding me from my curled up stance, I experience peace. In its purest and truest form. Here in this yard, made sacred by the hands of its caretakers, I experience God.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day

Put simply, I needed to go to the grocery store when the car was unavailable. I was not out of food, but I needed to get supplies for the Fourth of July. I LOVE that day. I love making a flag pie and grilling and every other yummy thing that goes with it. On this years menu: pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, bread and butter pickles, crudite, and vanilla cream flag pie. Oh, yeah! Aaaaaaaanyway, I thought to myself, "I walk to Provo Library all the time . . . and Smith's is only a few blocks more." Then I thought through what I would be buying, "It should be manageable to carry by hand. It's not like I'm carrying a sack of potatoes." No, Elisabeth. It's not like you're carrying a sack of potatoes, but it's a lot like you are carrying a 2 liter bottle of soda, four cans of olives, a jar of pickles, a jar of mayonnaise, assorted vegetables, a carton of eggs, a pint of heavy cream, and a can of cooking spray. But what was, was. And so I marched the 11 blocks home with a fifteen pound grocery sack in my hand and a fifty pound pack on my back. And as I did it I found myself thinking, "If this means getting into MDT, it's worth it." Now, I'm not exactly sure what being woman enough to trek 11 blocks with that kind of baggage has to do with either music, dance, or theatre and most definitely don't know what it has to do with the three of them all together. But I think allowances can be made for my utter lack of mental continuity . . . brains and brawn historically don't get along.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is there one?

Every time I leave my apartment and every time I walk into it again, I unavoidably walk under a row of massive icicles. Contrary to popular belief they are not nature's way of adding beautiful decorations to the side of your house--they are death traps. I live in subtle fear of being impaled by one of those two-foot daggers. For a while, I would look up as I passed underneath to make sure one wasn't falling, but it has since occurred to me that that is a really stupid idea. If an icicle is going to assault me, I'd rather that it didn't put a hole in my face. So now I am left to wonder . . . what is the best way for me to hold my head when I pass under the veil of death? I don't really want an icicle in the crown of my head, but if I bend my head forward, the icicle might sever my spinal chord, which I'm pretty sure is worse. The best option is still unclear. Has it really come to choosing the lesser of several evils? I certainly hope not, but I fear my hopes are vain.

To review:
Icicles are bad

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Scene in an Airport

We are sitting in the Albuquerque Airport, it is 1:29 pm, and our flight doesn't leave for another hour. We are surrounded by people in a similar boat (or terminal, as the case may be) and the scene is definitely worth reading about. In the lull between the actions of getting through security and actually getting on the plane, people all need to be thoroughly occupied--Heaven forbid we spend an entire hour with nothing but out minds. So what do we do? We rely on the true American pastime--eating. The man across from me is eating pretzels and coffee, the women to the right of me are eating a picnic of cheese and crackers, behind me some people are eating ice cream from the airport Baskin Robins, and my brothers and I are eating Mike and Ikes and Whoppers. When the food runs out, so does our attention and we all rummage through our bags trying to find something to occupy us: I pull out my computer to blog about the scene, Arthur pulls out his computer to look at facebook . . . five people have books out but aren't reading them, two have books out that they are actually reading . . . and then Richelle calls because she is in the airport in Michigan with down time too . . .

Anyway, I'm diverted and I hope you are too.