Wednesday, May 12, 2010

that time I barely made it out alive

When I was thirteen, Grandma and Grandpa Coombs flew me up to Utah to visit them for my birthday present. They picked me up from the airport, and we stopped at a McDonald's for lunch on the way home. I got a Big Mac and fries-- my favorite at the time. By the time we got back to their house I wasn't feeling well. I called my mom and told her so, and she advised me that often vomiting will relieve said discomfort. All that talk about it and... well... you know. I spent the rest of the day doing it. I developed a (food) aversion to McDonald's that day (I think it was the sesame seeds that really sealed the connection between throw up and McDonald's for me). To date, I have only had one piece of anything from McDonald's pass through my lips. It was a single french fry, and I did it for the sake of a joke. I still remember, I was in St. George with some friends and Burger King (and everywhere except McDonald's) was closed. I decided to starve rather than eat there. Bonnie held a fry in front of my face, in reference to a story she once told me, and I ate it. I still shudder when I think about it...

Well. I'm babysitting two of my nine favorite cousins this week, and McDonald's was on our itinerary. Rather than trying to trick Kallie out of wanting to go at all (yeah--prolly impossible), I decided we could just get it over with. So when she said she wanted to go on the first full day I was 'sitting, I agreed. The building was actually ok-- not as ghetto or nasty as many are. Kallie ordered for herself and I ordered for Kamden. We got their food and went over to fill the drinks. I had it in my mind to choose root beer for Kamden's drink and to share it with him, since Barq's root beer is obviously not made by McDonald's and I apparently wasn't eating dinner (I couldn't bring myself to order anything for myself). We sat down and I neatly arranged Kamden's nuggets and fries and opened his ranch, trying the entire time to not think about all the terrible stories and nasty images that I associate with McD's. I felt guilty letting the children eat it. Ew. After we were settled in for them to eat, I reached for Kamden's cup with the intention of partaking of the goodness that is Barq's. I couldn't do it. The cup didn't even make it halfway to my mouth. I just couldn't do it... not with that stupid clown on the cup staring at me. And another one sitting on a ski lift above our heads. And two more on their Happy Meal bags and another... and another... and another... they're everywhere! I forced myself to help Kamden finish his dinner then permitted the kids to play on the play place thing. I whipped out my hand sanitizer. (The restaurant was, of course, out of theirs. I've learned to be prepared, though.) I then put in my earphones and hunched over my sketchbook, drawing and trying to pretend I was anywhere but McDonald's. Needless to say, I survived and am now able to safely look forward to the rest of the week. :)

the roller coaster's peak...

Crap. I looked up from my Zune, a bit panicked, and quickly scanned the faces in the room. Could they tell I was panicking? They all knew-- they had to. They knew that we were only ten (maybe fifteen) minutes into the lesson, with twenty to go, and that I was nearly out of material. Crap.
I thought about my brief conversation with Mark right after sacrament meeting. "So... what time am I supposed to be done?" "Eleven." "Eleven? Not even, like, ten fifty or fifty-five?" "Nope. Eleven. On the dot. Oh, and you're teaching in the big room." Crap.
At first I thought maybe the big room would be better. A bigger room meant more people. I was already nervous enough that I don't think adding even several hundred people to my crowd could have made me more nervous. So a bigger room was good, right? More people means more comments. Right? Wrong. Crap.
I stared out across the room again. Waiting for someone to comment. I desperately tried to make eye contact with Mindy. Kim. Lowe. Steven. Tahna. Anyone?? It felt like I was up there for an eternity, just staring at them all and praying for someone to answer the question I'd just asked. I mean, it wasn't a hard one to answer, and I had said plenty of things before the question that would be equally easy to comment on. So why wasn't anyone commenting? I was already hot (I get hot really fast when I'm nervous), but I felt my body temperature jump a few degrees. Oh no! No one's going to comment, and this is the last topic of discussion before I'm supposed to end! If no one comments, I don't think I'll be able to improv my way through fifteen minutes to get to the closing thoughts I had prepared. We'd have to end early. But twenty minutes early? Really? That would make it painfully obvious that my experience in teaching is extremely limited and that I don't have the blessed skill of improvising under pressure. No one is going to want to come to my class when I teach. Crap.
I moved my bangs away from my eyes (something to do while standing up there, waiting for a comment). I think I remember feeling sweat beads on my forehead. Not only gross, but also visible to others! Oh no. I also ran my hand over the back of my hair for some reason (a fake itch? "adjusting" hair that had fallen out of place? just another something to do, most likely). The heat my nervous body was emitting was intense enough that I could feel it through my thick hair. I wondered if it would be wise to put my hair up next time. Maybe then I wouldn't feel quite so hot. I also realized just then that if my head is this hot, my armpits have got to have something going on down there, too. I, again, panicked for a moment. I had no idea what their status was. Tacos? Pancakes? Had they gone straight to full-out pizzas?? I didn't even think to sweat-proof my shirt, so who knows what it looks like! Ok. Note to self: keep arms down (that made for several awkward side-hugs after my lesson) and sweat-proof all future outfits worn on teaching days. Ugh. That's not something I've ever had to worry about! Crap.
I glanced at my Zune again. Oh no! It hadn't even been a minute!
My thoughts continued to wander. Luckily, before I could get so far as to seriously consider moving out of the ward, I saw a hand go up. Lindsey-- you are my hero. She made a comment and asked a question that spurred other comments and thoughts. The next time I looked at my Zune it was ten fifty-five. I tied up the discussion and said my closing thoughts and asked for a volunteer to pray. I can't remember the last time I'd felt so relieved. Happiness.
Upon thinking about the lesson a little more, I came to the conclusion that it was like a roller coaster ride. Almost exactly like riding the Colossus for the first time, actually. The analogy I did at the beginning with a volunteer was like the slow climb to that first really high part of the ride. You know--where you can look down into the parking lot and freak out because you realize how high you are. The moment I just went into great detail about was a lot like the moment where you pause at the top. You see the track ahead of you, and you know gravity is going to pull you in that general direction, but you're not 100% positive you're going to stay on the track and make it safely to the end. Sometimes freak accidents happen, you know? But then Lindsey's comment was like that moment right after the roller coaster starts on its way down. You're relieved to not be hanging out at the top anymore, but you're still not all the way ok. Then you make it through the first turn. Seems like easy sailing... until you hit the first loop. Someone makes a comment and it's awesome, but the ride slows down for a second on the underside of the loop and you're not sure the coaster's got enough speed to make it. It does, and you're relieved. Just to hit another loop! But you've already made it through one and you're more confident this time. You make it through the second loop and the rest of the track. The coaster pulls back into the stop area and you relax all those muscles you were tensing through the entire ride. What a rush. Wanna ride it again? Afraid I have no choice.