Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moving Day Neuroses

I have developed a habit of being miserable for the first night I spend in a new place.

It's not a consistent habit, but I'm certainly feeling that way now. Occasionally (usually when I'm transitioning into something that scares me out of my mind), I have this moment of terror-induced despair, when it seems like absolutely nothing about my new situation is right.

Take tonight, for example.

Jacob got back from New York last night--hooray! We spent last night and this morning together, and then I loaded up the van and drove down here to Utah. He's joining me tomorrow with the Uhaul. And maybe it's the fact that we spent a week and a half apart, but I miss him a lot for this one night we STILL have to spend apart.

Our new apartment is wonderful, but there are details I hadn't anticipated/noticed. For example, I have no idea how or where we'll store anything in the bathroom. It's the size of a postage stamp. The kitchen sink sprays water with tremendous force, and one closet door is perpetually stuck. These are things that I'm sure I'll find charming later, but tonight it's all enough to send me into fits of sorrow.

It doesn't help that it's roughly 4000 degrees in our apartment.

I'm all for summer weather, but it's almost 11 pm and it's still 81 degrees out there. Which I would also love, if we had an air conditioner to take the edge off.

Okay, so we do have an air conditioner. It's just still in Idaho. Along with my husband.

I think I'm also feeling particularly vulnerable tonight as well. Partly because I did an audition today, and those are always terrifying. Half of me feels okay about it, and the other half is certain that I sucked worse than anyone has ever sucked at an audition. I was just so nervous! I didn't know a soul, and I didn't give the accompanist the tempo beforehand, and I couldn't figure out where to look, and I tried belting a note which I had been using mixed voice for, and I hit it but it wasn't amazing, and I forgot all of my blocking, and basically everything I've ever learned or practiced about a good audition flew out of my head from the moment I entered that room. The producers did spend a few minutes whispering to one another after I finished, which is a fact that I will proceed to overanalyze for the next week or so. Jacob said it's probably a good thing...they wouldn't talk about me if they weren't interested. If I could just get a callback--I'm terrible at initial auditions, but being called back gives me the confidence to do well. I'll keep you posted.

The other thing is that our house is actually a duplex, and I can't figure out who our neighbors actually are, because there seems to be a constant flow of people, surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke, and I'm pretty sure I just heard either a wolf or a very very large dog howling somewhere in their place. New people scare me. And because I'm a woman alone in a strange new place, I'm suspicious and vaguely certain that sometime in the next 12 hours, I'm going to be robbed, raped, murdered, or all of the above. I'm sure they're nice people, but I'm too scared (about everything in my life) to believe it right now.

I'm just feeling that there's a lot to be scared of tonight. Not getting cast. Not getting hired. Not making friends. The wolf/dog creature next door attacking. The people next door being horrid. Being robbed. Being raped. Being murdered. Choking to death on a fruit snack. Cockroaches attacking. Falling down the cellar stairs.

You see what I do when I'm anxious? Stupid brain.

I know that by this time tomorrow night, it will all be fine. I'LL be fine. Jacob will be here, and all our stuff will be here, and I can spend all day decorating and organizing all of it, which is one of my FAVORITE things. And my feeling that I don't know a soul here is not based at all in reality...I know LOTS of people around here. In fact, the majority of my fears listed up there are not based in reality. Most of them are extremely unlikely. And even if they DO happen, most of them are survivable. And really, when it comes down to it, no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

So I'm choosing to focus on that fact.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I miss this man.

He's in New York City right now, following his dreams and performing in a play festival. Which is awesome. But I miss him a lot. How could I not? Look how awesome he is: 

Sigh. 7 days down. 5 days to go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The rains came down...

...and the floods came up.

Literally. Rexburg had some major flooding yesterday evening...about 2 inches of rain. 2 inches doesn't seem like a lot, but it's a lot. Especially when it all comes down within like, half an hour. There was also dime-sized hail. Between the debris caused by the hail and the huge amount of water in a short time, Rexburg's drains just couldn't cut it.

So this happened.

Plenty of people just took it in stride, like these folks, and the kayaker who's now famous among Rexburg's community (so many pictures of this guy). 

Video from the steps of the Kirkham building:

Video from the 4th floor of the Smith building:

Video from the east side of the Snow building:

Almost every building on campus was flooded. The Smith had some major electrical damage and is still closed, but the MC saw the worst of the water:

The testing center is located on the bottom floor of the MC, and seeing as how it's finals week next week, there were a lot of prayers that finals would be cancelled. But no such luck for students. Things are up and running again today.

The Snow building saw it's own share of water...this is the actor's studio:

Way to save the acting blocks, everyone. :)

There haven't been any major injuries, and no deaths. Jacob and I and his family live north of Rexburg, and we didn't get one drop of rain. I could hear the thunder, so I sat on the porch and watched the storm go by. Then I got on Facebook and was overwhelmed by all the photos and videos of what was happening on campus.

So, like any nature-lover, I got in the car and drove to campus. (I can't really explain why. I just wanted to be a part of it all, or something.)

Anyway, by the time I got to town, the floodwaters had receded quite a bit...and campus wasn't the raging rapid that it had been a few hours earlier. But it was clear that it had rained something crazy. I drove around for a bit and took pictures of the damage. These were all taken about 2 hours after the worst of it:

(This puddle was deeper than I had anticipated...)

This guy was happy about the rain!

 So I drove around for a little while, and then noticed crowds of people with buckets and trash cans, bailing people out. And suddenly, I thought, "Wait. People actually need help." I parked the van and grabbed our car trash can and waded out to help. I joined this group of people in their assembly line...they were trying to get the water down before it reached the front door of the house (just off camera to the right).

You know, I'll be the first to admit that the Mormon Church is not perfect. I love the Gospel dearly, and I don't ever want to leave the Church, but there are a lot of cultural things and sometimes policy things that I struggle with. But when it comes down to it, the students at BYU-Idaho are ready to serve. There was so much teamwork and service last night. Everything from "Bucket Brigades" to people bringing soup and water bottles to offering places to stay. No one told them to do it. They just saw a need and stepped up. 

Someone caught this gem of a moment, and it captures the spirit of last night's efforts pretty well:

 After we finished with the yard above, someone said they knew Baronessa Apartments needed help. So we all headed over there. And boy were they right. When we got there, a lot of the furniture had already been taken out of the apartments. 

But the biggest task ahead was bailing out the apartments. A lot of the student housing in Rexburg has a semi-submerged lower level, and quite a few of them were flooded pretty badly. I don't know details on other complexes...all I know is that Baronessa had about four and a half feet of water in each apartment.

Students were able to get most of their belongings out in time, but the damage was pretty bad. I joined the Bucket Brigade working to lower the water level, which meant standing waist-high in muddy water and filling up buckets to hand over the wall. I ran into several friends there, including my friend Eden who exclaimed cheerfully, "It's my first natural disaster!" as she stood waist-deep in water next to me, her hands muddy as she filled bucket after bucket.

We got the water down to about three feet, and then they brought a truck to help pump out the rest. The next task was to get the water-logged couches and mattresses out of each apartment, and to clean up as much trash as possible. We worked until about 9, before we ran out of light to work by.

I dreamed about it all last night, and this morning I woke up and wrote down my fragmented thoughts. I'm posting them here, unedited, so it's a bit disjointed, but it was an overwhelming experience, and I don't think I could describe it as well if I tried to compose it. Here are the images and memories I have of last night:

Wading through Baronessa. Surreal. Could have been any one of the apartments I lived in (thought of Beehive) back in the day. Walking on carpet underneath three feet of water felt so strange--a combination of sensations that I'd never experienced. Personal belongings floating among bark and dirt. Could see the waterline above the kitchen counter, along the living room walls, on the bedroom closets...it would have been neck-high in some places. Pictures and quotes on the walls, like every other girl's apartment in Rexburg. Dark because of no electricity, and getting darker. Towards the end, had to squint. 

Paper and occasionally clothing brushing past legs and feet. I would pull something out of the water now and then, to keep it from getting tangled. Stubbing toes on bed frames and cinderblocks. A few stray hangers now and then. A floating bag of flour. Swollen and water-logged cheerios. Carpets coming up from the water...bits of padding and plastic floating. Standing water being blocked by floating mattresses. Lip gloss, first aid, notes from classes, the occasional shoe, all floating by my legs. A water-logged towel I pulled up, and handed to someone outside, joking, "Just in case you need to dry off." I thought of Rose and Jack in the Titanic...wading through the water while furniture began to float around them. It all made the ceiling seem closer. 

My toes lost sensation after a while. I wondered what else I was walking in. I had to just not think about it, not wonder what was brushing my legs and feet. I was careful not to touch my face with my muddy hands. Thought of the times I moved mattresses in the past, and how awkward and unwieldy a mattress is. When they're waterlogged, they're too heavy to lift. You have to fold them, push them along in the water. We found a full suitcase under one of the beds, the clothing inside weighing it down so that we couldn't float it out. It took three people to carry. The box springs would make a squelching sound when you lifted them--all the water creating a vacuum underneath. Box springs revealed candy stashes, boxes of notes, the odd piece of clothing...things that would pour out with the water when we lifted them. In one apartment, I couldn't identify the white swollen cloth-like things floating in the water, until I picked one up and realized it was a wafer cookie, the package long gone. All of the refrigerators were floating, tipped up on their sides. 

When I got to the apartments, half of the furniture was already out on the lawn, and when I got down into the rooms, I realized it all had to have been floating. There was some good natured teasing...people still smiling. "It's my first natural disaster!" Eden laughed, while covered in mud, throwing a bucket of water over the edge of the wall. A boy who put a plastic rat on one of the refrigerators, and then watched while we all freaked out. Someone brought garbage bags, and we would just pick up whatever we could, setting the full bags outside the windows. One apartment where we thought we were done, but then I opened a door and discovered another bathroom, another bedroom. The water had been standing still for hours, and the smell made me gag. So much trash floating in that room...the mattress was blocking the bedroom, and the closed door had kept all the trash from floating out. 

Going through room by room, apartment after apartment, felt so strange--the water made them all look the same, but every square foot held some unknown underneath the surface. We started to warn each other of where nails were sticking up from the carpet, where the ground was unsteady. I kept slipping on linoleum, not being able to see where it started. 

There aren't a lot of pictures of the damage, simply because no one wanted to drop their cameras in the water. But here's what I saw last night, where I was helping:

(You can see the waterline near the light switch.)

As much trash as possible had to be removed so that it wouldn't clog the pumps. The couches and mattresses had to be pulled out so that all the water could be drained from them. We got all of it done just as the light was fading. The electricity was all off, so a few people had headlamps to help with the last of it. 

When I got home, we all exchanged stories. Kristi, Anna, and Jeff all went to Millhollow Rd, where their old house is. Their basement was fine, although the window wells were filled with water. They had some neighbors who weren't so lucky, though. Jacob and I were worried about our storage unit, especially since a lot of valuable things were close to the sliding door (guitar amp, my mother's old sewing machine, a box of my journals from the last fifteen years). But the seal on the door was strong enough that everything was perfectly dry! Whew. 

I had Laura take a picture of me when I got home, before I cleaned up. You can't quite tell in the picture, but my shorts are completely soaked through. 

Here's the other slightly worrisome thing that happened. I got in the tub and glanced down and thought, "Why is the water all reddish?" Then I noticed the enormous gash on my ankle.

It was bleeding a lot, and I had no idea when or how or where I'd gotten it. I was practically numb from the knees down by the time I finished at Baronessa, so I probably didn't even register it when it happened. I was worried because I'd been walking in muddy, possibly contaminated water for the last few hours, which is no good with a gaping wound. Laura and Anna helped me clean up, and when the dried blood was cleaned off and when the bleeding had slowed down, it really wasn't too bad of a cut. It was deep, but pretty clean. So I don't think it was from anything metal--all the metal I was working with was old and would have made a more jagged cut. There was one apartment where they told us to stay out of one room because of broken glass, so I think it might have been that. I disinfected and bandaged it up, and decided that if it looked bad in the morning, I'd go to the doctor. And as of this morning, it looks fine. It hurts when I forget about it and bump it or sit cross-legged, but its healing well. It's awkward to care for, since it's on the outside of my ankle, but in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing.

UPDATE: After being urged to do so by individuals and the healthcare community at large, I went and got a tetanus shot today. And now my arm hurts. But I am now less likely to die because of the flood. 

For the most part, Rexburg is doing pretty good. The floodwaters are almost all receded and campus buildings are completely cleaned up. As I type this, this is what the weather is like:

But there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. There are several families who lost everything.

UPDATE: Those wishing to make financial donations to help survivors of the flood recover, there is a fund set up HERE

There is also a Facebook page to coordinate recovery efforts. A lot of it is for meals and cleanup and housing, so it's mostly for the Rexburg area, but check it out to see if there's anything you can do to help! Click HERE.

During cleanup yesterday, I kept making the joke, "Everyone repent!" There were a lot of references to Noah's ark, too. Which makes this sight all the more meaningful...this was taken right before I drove into town yesterday:

"And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."
- Genesis 9: 11-13

The floods that happen nowadays don't have the power to destroy the WHOLE earth, and in times of flash floods, that's a nice thing to remember. So if this rainbow ain't perfect timing, I don't know what is.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lessons learned from a 22-hour trip to Utah

Going to Sephora will not make you feel confident. It will only make you feel poor. Because you do not have $195 to spend on eye makeup. And it turns out that you already DID know how to do an "everyday eye" look, and you don't actually need the Sephora girl's expertise.

City Creek Mall, in general, will make you feel poor. You will hunt for a women's button-up shirt for an hour or two before deciding that human beings are crazy to spend $55 on a women's button-up shirt. You will leave City Creek feeling like you are leaving Panem's Capitol, with plans to visit DI when you get home.

Fear is a powerful force, but it does not have to rule you. Reserves of courage can be found over and over again, even when you are feeling that you have none left.

You will also find reserves of positivity, even when the day's tasks have left you feeling fatalistically discouraged.

Food has the power to revive courage and positivity.

Grapes are the best summer road trip food ever.

If ever you have the chance to sing Frozen's "Let It Go" while driving into a thunderstorm in the evening, DO IT. Because it will be the most epic thing you have ever done.

Never, ever, ever attempt to drive to Utah at 6 am and drive back the same night. You will get home at around 3:30 am, and despite the naps you took at rest stops and gas stations, you will be exhausted. So much so that you are physically ill the next day. Because 22 hours of driving and running errands is not okay with the human body or spirit.

The best resources on a trip like this are a loving husband, and a loving Heavenly Father, both of whom will give you encouragement throughout the day.