مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recent events.

Today I have done almost absolutely nothing.

I say almost because there was that stint between 2 and 3:15 pm where I put on decent clothes and attended a lavish baby shower where I sat by someone wrinkly from my past life and ate expensive salad and raspberry sorbet at the redesigned Riverside Country Club. It was the first time I've been to the Club since returning from my mission and the place is impressive. The entryway has a large warm fireplace and smells comfortingly of cinnamon.

My post-mission life (three weeks ago I was on a plane over the ocean) is a flat line studded with sparkling expensive Events. I do things like lay on the couch in front of the TV for seventeen hours straight, getting up once to use the bathroom and once because I rolled too close to the edge and had to stop myself from falling off. I didn't even turn on the TV.

On Tuesday I dressed up and went to the opera at the Capitol Theater, and looking up at the huge gold splattery golf ball in the ceiling that's been there ever since I can remember made me feel classy and at home. The performance was "The Magic Flute" by Mozart and though I didn't expect dialogue in English (songs, of course, remained in German) it was marvelous and beautiful and way more thought-provoking than I expected (from the Wikipedia article: "The story itself portrays the education of mankind, progressing from chaos through religious superstition to rationalistic enlightenment, by means of trial and error, ultimately to make 'the Earth a heavenly kingdom, and mortals like the gods'").

Yesterday I went to the Mummies of the World exhibit in SLC and stared very very closely at the browned, stretched, peeling skin of all the thousands-of-years-dead people and even more closely at their hair; they still have hair, you know; some of it is even long and thick and dark and beautiful and braided. My mom came with me but she is more of a take-a-quick-glance-at-all-the-big-stuff-and-move-on type of museum person and I am a read-every-single-plaque-and-the-wall-stuff-and-take-fifteen-minutes-imagining-stories-about-just-that-one-piece-of-ancient-Egyptian-jewelry kind of person so she finished like an hour and a half before I did and lay on a couch at the end of the exhibit playing on her iPhone while I took my time.

The matted body of a four-thousand-year-old Peruvian woman with two children fascinated me, especially when my meticulous plaque reading taught me that she was originally buried with only one child under her head, which is missing its head and arms, and then two hundred years later another child was bundled up tight and placed in her arms as if it were a baby, but now thanks to DNA evidence and based on the size of the bones and the closure of skull sutures researchers guess the child was actually four or five years old and died of a mandibular tumor; regardless its bones were scrunched and bundled up like a baby and buried in the arms of a woman lying in a two-hundred-year-old grave. Another woman was found in a strange burial position, hands crossed around her waist, each hand clutching a child's incisor. Another woman with braided hair was found with weird possibly symbolic tattoos of ovals with dots inside on her breasts and below the left corner of her lower lip. I highly recommend looking at all of these people.

Being close to things from Egypt made me remember standing in the Cairo museum all by myself and being overwhelmed with death and time and passion and languages I can't read and things that fall apart and things that don't and wanting to see everything there is, just everything, and really not much has changed.

Except that everything has changed. I was a missionary for a very long time. I lived in South Korea and I had to take all responsibility for everything all the time and so many things hurt me over and over and the hurt wore calluses into my body and now I am stable and thick-skinned, deep-rooted, firm in my conviction, impossible to push over. Now I know how to survive. I know lots of weary secret things about the insides of families and churches and people and spirits and it makes me feel very very old. I had no idea what I was getting into, started down the rabbit hole as a blindfolded initiate but now I know lots of very important and true things about things not in this world and I feel mysterious and deep. But nobody asks me about those things anymore; now I lay on my couch for seventeen hours and I don't even turn on the TV.

I speak Korean. Spoke Korean. Well. Well enough to maybe neglect my 첫사랑 and make Korean-English simultaneous translation my grad school focus. And now I speak just to myself, listening to podcasts and Korean dramas and making myself play commentator so I won't lose the language. When I watch English TV I pause it after every sentence and make myself translate. It's lonely and pathetic and I know that but I worked too hard for my ability to let it fade away. I look forward to Saturday afternoons, when I volunteer at the MTC TRC and talk to actual Koreans for three hours straight, like nothing else in the world.

My mission was the best thing that ever happened to me; it IS me now, in fact. I carved a beautiful life for myself out of a culture and language I never thought would break; my hands got all bloody in the process but diamond knives cut through granite if you just know how to handle them right; it was the handling that took me a while to master. And I left at the peak of my artistic career--my painstakingly exact Korean, flowing more and more perfectly every day so I left in awe of my own language skill; my plentiful investigators and great relationships and overflowing gospel knowledge--and now I lay here on my couch and nobody talks of salvation or eternity and there is March Madness on TV now but I have no patience for this. I have an iPhone 5 and I will never be bored again, I'm reading The Picture of Dorian Gray because it's free on my iPhone 5 and literature  takes me aback; it's so ridiculously exquisite. Music, too; that doesn't seem to get old. There are five straight days of music on my computer and I can listen, mesmerized, rediscovering lyrics and feelings and beats and marveling, just marveling.

This is water.

This is water.

And tonight I am going on a blind date. I am going on a blind date because my mom and her friend thought it would be a good idea. Some kid called me during intermission at the opera; the opera was in German and German is his mission language and now he is coming over at 9:15 to get me tonight. I am scared of blind dates because I am scared of the world and date rape and missing people on milk cartons and guns. But this kid seems all right. They set me up with him because they say I am an Intellectual and he only likes Intellectuals. I don't know what that's supposed to mean. But I don't feel much like anything. I feel like someone who lay on the couch for seventeen hours and dressed up just to eat expensive salad.

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