Wednesday, November 17, 2010


My GPS may be trying to kill me.

This may seem like a far fetched statement, but that's the thought that ran through my mind this past Sunday. When I punched in the address for Ikea, it took off the beaten track and through the wilds of Baltimore. Not the pretty, Harbor District of downtown, but the sketchy, terrifying part of Baltimore where entire streets of homes have boarded up windows and there's auto glass strewn across the road in every intersection. The very air reeked of desperation.

I, who grew up small town Utah, have never experienced this kind of poverty before. My response was fear; sweaty palms, racing heart, paranoid fear. I recognize that this is an unfair reaction, but it is one that I could not help. My husband thinks that I'm a racist because of it, but I assure you it has nothing to do with race. It has to do with fear of the unknown.

Now, I'm not saying that I was in any immediate danger from outside forces. Was I honestly afraid that some one was going to smash in the window of my car to steal it? No. It came from something else all together. I have, until very recently, lived in a bubble of security that was untouched by any of the really unpleasant truths about life.

Murder was not daily news. Serial rapists did not roam the streets of my hometown, or if they did, the media sure didn't say anything about it. The Ghetto, you must forgive me for using the term but it is the only one I have, consisted of the west side of the freeway in Downtown SLC. And it really wasn't all that scary.

I've developed a sort of Social Anxiety since moving to Maryland. I'm afraid to leave my house. I do it, but instead of a smile and a hello, I keep my head down, go about my business and go home. I'm not sure what changed. It's been this way from day one. Are the people less friendly here? Perhaps. Am I just taking a really long time to adjust to a new setting? Maybe.

I'm not sure what has caused it, but I can say with absolute certainty that I have changed from the happy, fun-loving girl who wasn't afraid of anything into a woman who's afraid all the time. I'm afraid to leave post at night. I'm afraid to be alone in my house. I'm afraid to make friends.

And that, my friends, is not my GPS's fault.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Foggy Mornings and Espresso

It's nearly 7:20 and I've been up since 4:30. While I would love to say that I'm upset by this, I'm really not. It's been a productive, peaceful sort of morning. It occurred to me that the almost complete silence in my apartment wasn't likely to last long, so I broke out my novel and made some serious progress. Sure enough, at 6 am the music from the neighbor's place started up. Still, the peace was nice while it lasted.

It's a beautiful morning here on the East Coast. It's foggy. This is something I wouldn't normally be aware of, as the fog usually burns off before I bother to look outside, but this morning I agreed to drive The Husband to the company building--he's going on some sort of week-long training mission, which I'll come back to--and I was greeted by thick, rolling fog. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the fog? It just seems to scream Autumn.

I came home, brewed some espresso, steamed the milk and sat down with my breakfast of Cheetos, hoping to get some more words out of me before the music got too loud or I got too frustrated. It hasn't happened, though. Instead, I'm grappling with a strange sense of loneliness.

As I said earlier, The Husband has gone away for training. This isn't anything especially abnormal, however this time I had no notice. It makes it harder, somehow, because I haven't had time to come to terms with the fact that I am once again sitting alone in a house 2000 miles away from everything I love. Usually when he leaves, I've had time to not only come to terms with this, but to turn it into a positive. For instance, I could say that this second week of training this month means I only have to cook and clean for myself which, in turn, means that I've just scored another two hours a day at least in which I can write(which isn't to say, that he hasn't been supportive of my writing). So, this is definitely a positive, I tell myself.

It's not helping.

Maybe I'll feel less maudlin when the sky is no longer gray and I manage to clear some of this blood out of my caffeine system.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 8

It occurs to me that I should probably working on my novel at this moment rather than writing this blog. However, I am utterly incapable of a single creative thought right now. In my Nano Pep Talk, I rather glibly discussed the various stages of NaNo creation. Sure, I was speaking from my own personal experience, but I didn't do NaNo last year. I had forgotten how deeply these various stages can effect someone.

Today I have found every reason under the sun not to write. I've felt a deep, abiding rage at just about everything. My novel is open, the cursor is blinking and I have... nothing. Here are just a few of the thoughts that have come to me throughout the day as I attempted to get my word count down.

- The cursor is blinking too quickly. What were the programmers thinking, making it blink that quickly. Bastards, I think they did it on purpose.

-Why does the toilet keep running? Oh my god, if it makes that sound one more time, I'm going to go SheHulk on it's ass and smash it into tiny pieces of porcelain.

-I wonder if the neighbors would even notice if I killed that yappy fucking dog of theirs?

-I think that inconsiderate bastardry must run in the veins of said neighbors. Now the music. Oh my god, they should know that they never win this game with me by now.

-Get away from my ice water, Kitty!

-Oh my god, the toilet!

- Blinking cursor. Rage.


I have, of course, edited some of this for content and covering-my-own-ass's sake. I don't want to be arrested for making threats. That being said, I have managed exactly 166 words today. In other words, nothing. I love my story. It's progressing well. Some parts aren't even half bad for first draft, NaNo material.

I just can't write. I need an external force to coerce me into it, as word wars are no longer effective. Perhaps I'll have to find a write-in tomorrow. At the very least, I need to get out of my house.

In the meantime, I should get back to my novel.

Perhaps I'll have a drink. That bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter is looking better by the second.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


It's been raining for nearly 24 hours straight. To some of you this may be commonplace. For me, it's a first. Though it is lovely, it only highlights the extreme homesickness I've been battling over the last few weeks.

The leaves are changing here. It's beautiful, but I can't help but think of the fiery beauty that is Nebo Canyon or Spanish Fork at this time of year. Or the way that the mountains are slowly being repainted gold and scarlet.

I miss the way the air smells, still dry and hot but with hints of earthiness that only exists when the seasons are changing from Summer to Fall and Winter to Spring. The air here is too humid to smell of anything but leaf-rot.

I miss the haze of forest fires, the burning in my nose and tickle in the back of my throat; the violent orange of the clouds and moon and the false flurries of ash.

I miss the mountains.

I miss Cafe Rio and Malt Shops and really shitty Mexican food. I miss the good stuff, too. I miss knowing how to get around and logical street layouts and the stars. The food here, well, it has come up lacking. Baltimore drowns out the stars.

I miss hanging out at Barnes and Noble in Orem and listening to people talk. People here don't sit still long enough to be observed. I miss White Chocolate Mocha with Hazelnut from the Coffee Pod and their slightly psychotic live music. I miss my friends.

I miss my family.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I know that this particular blog is not for politics. It's not for ranting and it's not for preaching, but I honestly have something to say.

Never before has national news effected me personally. Even now, it doesn't affect me personally, but it's the first time that I understand what is really going on and what the implications are. I am, of course, speaking of the situation involving General McChrystal and the Rolling Stone article that's brought around the effective end of his career.

I am, in absolutely no way, excusing the behavior of General McChrystal or his entourage. On the contrary, I believe that the General has spent his entire career pushing the limit of what is acceptable and right for a United States Officer. It was only a matter of time before he pushed it too far and he absolutely deserved the punishment that he has finally received.

It was a mistake, from the very beginning, to allow this kind of access to one of our highest-ranking military officials by Rolling Stone Magazine. Anyone with half a brain knows what sort of reporting Rolling Stone does. Even if permission had been granted by the highest authorities, the General and his staff absolutely should have known better than to speak so frankly in front of a reporter who was obviously looking for a sensational story. One has to wonder at the complete arrogance it takes to assume that one is above reproach when one is being insubordinate.

As countless other people have stated, if I had spoken in a public arena about my boss the way that McChrystal and his staff spoke about their civilian superiors, I would have been fired on the spot. Any soldier in the armed forces knows that the vows they take are binding and their Code of Conduct, sacrosanct. Any private who chose to speak about an officer in such a way would have faced court martial and been dishonorably discharged.

However, I believe that Hastings participates in one of the lowest forms of journalism known to media. His sensationalist rhetoric (much like mine right now) has an air of "tattle-tale" and "I-told-you-so." I find it disingenuous at best, downright dishonest at worst, that he claims not to have understood the consequences of his article. To say that he didn't think the General would be fired for quite blatantly disparaging his superiors and allowing his staff to do the same is ignorant folly. If he didn't know, he has no business being in journalism. If he did, he still has no business being in journalism.

I understand that War is war. Our troops are under an incredible amount of stress and, of course, they sometimes have to blow off steam. To turn that into the basis for your self-righteous diatribe against the war effort, to use it to undermine the stability of our armed forces is shameful. Shame on you, Mr. Hastings. I do not for one second believe that you didn't know what you were doing, that you didn't understand the consequences. It's laughable, in fact, that you could be an active member of the media and not understand how the world works. Congratulations on your new-found fame. It will, undoubtedly, bring you all the riches and glories that you dreamed of. I only hope that you, yourself, are someday subjected to the same things you've subjected others to.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye

The walls of my beautiful home are closing in around me. If I spend too much time in here, I start to feel completely claustrophobic. In an effort to alleviate some of this anxiety, I've taken to talking short walks around the neighborhood, or just sitting outside on my low wall and watching. Today, as I walked outside, three children ran past. Two black children, I think they must be twins by the way they mirrored each other's movements, and a little girl with the most beautiful blonde curls I've ever seen. They looked at me, and the little black girl asked the blonde if I was her neighbor. For the record, I am.

"I don't know," was her quick response, making me smile.

"Can I see the baby?" The boy asked the blonde, running to catch up with her.

"Yeah!" They pelted down the lawn and disappeared between the wall separating my yard from the neighbors and I smiled. To be so young a full of energy. The little girl pounded on the door and I smiled again as she shouted, "Mommy! Open the door!"

After a moment, the door opened and a tired woman's voice emerged. "Say goodbye, honey."

The little girl parroted it, and again the woman's voice carried over the wall. "Say goodbye to the playground. We're going to our new house."

The little girl obediently repeated, "Goodbye, playground."

"Is she coming back outside?" This was the little black girl.

"No," the woman's said, wary. "We're going to our new house now. Say goodbye, sweety."

"Bye!" The blonde cried, her voice disappearing into the house.

"See you later!" The other girl said, already running back towards the playground.

A few minutes passed as I reflected on this. This, right here, has to be one of the worst parts of military life. My musings were interrupted by a high voice calling out "Bye!"

"Bye!" The girl on the playground called back, waving.

"Come here! Get a hug!"

The little girls ran towards each other and hugged, the little blonde giggling, "I"m so happy! Bye now."

"Bye!" said the dark girl, smiling. "Are you coming back?"

"Yeah." And the little blonde girl was gone, around the house and presumably into her car on the way to the new house.

As the little dark girl walked back to the playground, she turned to me and smiled. "Are you her neighbor?"

"I was," I say, smiling a little. "I think they are moving away now."

"Oh." The girl was quiet for a moment. "To another place?"

"Yes, I think so."

"So, she's not coming back?" The girl asked.

I must admit, I hesitated. I wanted to comfort her with my words, but at the same time I've always felt its best to be honest with children about these sorts of things. "I don't think she'll be coming back for a long time. But, someone else will be moving in here who might be your friend in a few weeks."

"Oh." The little girl looked down at her shoes then back up at me. "I have to go home now. Bye."

As she walked away her shoulders sagged and I felt my heart break for this little girl who'd just lost her friend. It's going to be a long tour.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Time In Baltimore

It's April Fool's Day and my first full day near my new home. The flight was tolerable, only four hours and straight through. I would never have thought that I would feel like a pro at this flying thing, but it definitely feels old-hat now. I don't love it, but I certainly don't hate it. Security was a breeze and everyone at Delta was super friendly. I had a rather emotional moment on the plane as we passed over the Appalachians, realizing that I was truly away from home.

Though March is when spring actually begins, April is when we expect to see it come in like a lion. Spring has always seemed like new beginnings to me, and this is probably one of the biggest things that's ever happened to me. I'm 2000 miles away from my friends and family, in a strange city surrounded by green things. I'm told that it's called "Nature," but it definitely feels unnatural to me. And did I mention that the city stinks? Like, really stinks. Trust me, I lived in Sanpete County, Land of the Turkey Shit, my entire adolescence. I can only hope that its because I'm near the airport.

I haven't had a chance to explore or see the city as we are entirely reliant on Taxi's and Shuttles until we've purchased a car, which won't be for several weeks. I am fairly excited about some of the things in the tourist guides. Apparently there's a medieval restaurant at one of the malls complete with jousting and sword fighting and a Renaissance Festival somewhere nearby. I also haven't had a chance to try any of the reportedly fabulous seafood offerings, though I hope to change that tonight.

Oh, and for the record? If you've never had non-Utah beer, you're missing out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Leaving On A Jetplane....

As many of you may already be aware, in just under a week I will embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life. I will pack up the last of my belongings--the ones that aren't in storage waiting for the movers--board a plane, and fly across the country to my new home. A home that, as of yet, I do not have.

Now, I know it's been blogged about in a thousand places before and it will be blogged about in a hundred places after, but I am here to tell you that an Army Move is exponentially more stressful than any normal move. Not only am I moving some 2000 miles away from my dearest friends and my family, I am going with no arrangements for housing and my belongings following behind. Sure, we're on a waiting list (8/33, the last time I checked), but there are no concrete plans. At worst, we'll be slapped into the on-base hotel until our apartment is available. At best, our apartment will be ready when we arrive. I'm not holding my breath for that.

To add insult to injury, our previous landlords would not give an inch on our move out date. They had been informed that our tentative move out date would be March 22, 10 days after my husbands graduation date. We told them that it was subject to change, nothing is concrete in the military. However, they wrote down simply the 22nd. Imagine my surprise and frustration when I called to let them know that our actual move out date would be something like April 2nd and they flat out refused to let us stay! We were told that we could vacate the apartment by the 22nd or we could stay until the second and pay them an additional two months worth of rent. Or, we could choose to stay, not pay the rent, and be evicted.

Thus began one of the most stressful weeks I have ever lived through.

I got off the phone, sucked up my pride and called my brother-in-law. He readily agreed to let us crash in his basement for the several weeks we had left, and then I called my mom for boxes. She'd known this was coming and set several dozen aside from her recent move.

Now, I have never considered myself much of a slob. I have also always thought of myself as an obsessive de-junker, much like my dear mother. I would tell myself that material belongings mean nothing to me. I was wrong. I spent all of that week sorting through what we would be keeping and what we would be giving away, under the (mistaken) impression that we would only be allowed to move 800 pounds worth of our belongings. Three days and two dumpters full of garbage and discarded belongings, we'd pared it down to the essentials. My coffee maker was gone, the microwave, the kitchen table and chairs, the various shelving units not dedicated to books. All of it gone to those less fortunate or the way of the landfill. I cried when my husband--aided by my older niece and nephew--carried out several bolts of fabric that had been partially damaged in our ceiling collapse fiasco over the summer.

When he gently suggested that I could maybe cut down on the number of books now sitting in the dozen or so boxes surrounding us, I put my foot down. Actually, I stomped it several times and threw a proper temper tantrum, the first of many minor melt downs. He let me keep all of them.

Now, it was time to pack. Normally we'd have some wonderful men in jump suits come in and do this all for us on the Army's dime, but because we had less than a week to be out and they needed 8 days notice, it just wasn't going to happen. So, I started sorting and packing. It took far longer than I had really anticipated, and when mom showed up to help get some of the work down, I once again broke down into tears. Though it took four days, I was absolutely convinced it would take an elephant standing on my boxes to break what little we'd saved.

For those of you facing a move in your future, let me offer this little bit of insight. Do not pack up every single one of your dishes at the beginning of a move. By day three, we were living on pizza and soda out of the bottle.

The move went smoothly. Several trips to the storage shed we'd rented out, no mishaps or dropped boxes. Everything was wonderful and we'd finally be installed into the dim basement we would call home for the next couple of weeks. I was spending time with my mom and my nieces and nephew, we had our plan tickets arranged, our housing was finally arranged and we had an appointment to sign our contracts. Wonderful.

Then things began to go wrong. First, we were informed that if we were not on Fort Meade at the Housing Office at 9 AM on April 1, we'd have to pay a cash deposit or lose our apartment. This was followed by a frantic call to the transportation office to rearrange our plane tickets. We asked if we could leave on the 31st instead of on the second as we had planned, and they agreed. The next day, my husband gets a phone call from one of his AIT classmates saying that he has my husbands orders. At Fort Bragg. 700 miles away from where we need them to be. This means, of course, that my husband has this other man's orders. In Utah. This was quickly taken care of by the Sergeants at the recruiters office and we take a deep breath, count to ten, and pick up the phone again.

This time, we're getting a hold of the movers. They just want to know what day is pickup and about how much weight we're moving. We don't know how much weight it is, having never had to think about our belongings that way before, and they ask to meet us at the storage shed so they can estimate later this week. We're fine with this, of course, wanting to be as helpful as we can. This is when the man we are speaking to informs us that they will be unpacking and repacking everything we've just spent the last week lovingly wrapping up, so they can create an inventory list. Wonderful. Cue yet another micro melt-down.

Finally, my husband calls to verify our flight information and they inform us that they haven't actually purchased our tickets. Until he faxes his orders in, they've placed everything on hold. Alright, no big deal. Stephen promises to get them faxed in the morning. As he was getting off the phone, they said, "You do know that we've only purchased a plane ticket for your wife, correct? HRAP travel isn't paid for." So, now we have one plane ticket to Baltimore and we have to be there on the 31st. Having understood this to all be taken care of, we'd spent what little money we had on packing materials, which will be thrown away April 1 when the movers repack everything, and an upgraded storage shed to keep the thousands of dollars worth of books from being damaged. Great.

The husband has said he will try and straighten everything out in the morning and we will see. At this point, all I can do is wait. Carpe Diem, they say. What an exciting adventure, and its only just begun.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mating Rituals: Two

And now we bring you another installment of the Mating Rituals of the Desperate.

This couple is older than the last that we followed. Mid-40's and recently divorced if the not-yet faded ring tans are any indication. Pretension oozes into the air around them like a fog, washing over the unfortunates sitting near them.

They make an intriguing pair. She's pretty in her three shades of purple and just-over-the-top jewelry. Every hair is in place and her makeup application could rival people who've spent twenty years in the business. She has set her bags on the table rather than the floor, arranged so labels flash at the casual passerby; Banana Republic, White House | Black Market, Dillards. Symbols of the very large settlement she's currently discussing with her potential mate.

He's middle-aged, overweight and over the top. Everything about him shrieks of High Middle Class and status symbol. In an attempt to seem hip, though it comes across as sloppy, he has removed his tie and undone the top button of his shirt. His floppy hair is full of copper highlights and he is playing with his key chain, clearly flashing the BMW key as he complains about how much he lost to his wife.

The conversation continues on this vein for some time, before moving on to kids. She has three, he has one. She smiles as he talks about his son, the basketball star. He interrupts to ask if she wants anything to drink.

“No,” She says, glancing at the beverage menu on the wall. “I'm watching my weight.”

“I like a woman who takes care of herself,” He responds, visibly annoyed as he slips his wallet back into his pocket. “What about your kids?”

Three daughters, all beautiful and accomplished. His eyes have wandered away from her face and settled on her ample cleavage. She notices and shifts just a little. Conversation again shifts. She does charity work in her free time, he has a high-level position at a local corporation. This doesn't last long, as neither of them are particularly interested in what the other does.

She glances at her watch and manages an almost-convincing show of being surprised. “I have to go, the girls will be home. It was really great meeting you. We'll have to do this again sometime.”

“Sounds great,” he says, his keys still in his hand. “I'd better get going, too. Hey, do you have Facebook?"

Girl In Blue

Two days ago, I was forcibly reminded that first impressions are not always right. For several years now, I've visited the same bookstore and watched a young girl of apparent middle eastern descent. Sometimes, she's there with a small group of other girls also wearing the hijab, but usually she's alone. Sometimes, she has coffee, sometimes she doesn't, but she always wears that powder blue headscarf and keeps to herself. Sometimes, I wondered what she was like, but I could never understand what she was saying because she spoke to her friends in Arabic. Mostly, I assumed that she wished to be left alone.

The other day, she came in about twenty minute after I had arrived. This was normal, expected even, and I just glanced up and smiled a bit before going back to my work. She wandered around for a minute, looking for a table, then looked down at her laptop. The only outlet in the cafe was being occupied by a woman who was just writing into little notebook and after a moment, the girl approached her and asked if she could share her table.

I'm not sure why, but this blew my mind. I felt like one of the fundamental things in my life had just been upended. I overheard some of their conversation. The woman was half Palestinian, the girl was also from Palestine. I stopped listening after a moment, waiting for my world view to readjust itself, and went back to my work. After a little while, the girl left and soon after, so did the woman.

I asked if I could have her table, my battery was beginning to run low, and took up residence. I was halfway through my second reading of Wordsworth's We Are Seven when someone touched my shoulder. I pulled out my headphones and looked up, only to be confronted by the Girl in Blue. I smiled as she asked if she could share my table and she took a seat.

Over the next hour or so, we talked about anything and everything. While I would never have been brave enough to approach her, I feel richer for the experience. So, if you're reading this, Girl in Blue, thank you for giving me something to remember and reminding me that things are not always what they seem.

Monday, February 15, 2010

In celebration of Valentine's Day, though a day late, I bring you a love story that stood the test of time, at least in this observers imagination.

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave
thee, or to return from following after thee:
for wither though goest, I will go; and where
thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be
my people, and they God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there
will I be buried: The LORD do so to me, and
more also, if ought but death part thee and

Ruth 1:16-18

Her voice was soft, just barely carrying across the little green table they were sharing. Two tiny paper cups of espresso growing cold between them as they stared into one another's eyes. His, wrinkled and clouded with age, softened as she finished the poem. He reached one hand across the table and stroked her hand lightly. She smiled in response and sipped her coffee. He murmured something to her, voice quavering, and she replied somewhat louder than was necessary.

They were old. He was in his mid-to-late seventies, a leather beret giving the impression of worldliness despite his obvious age. She was in desperate need of a touch up, the deep brown hair that had initially led the observer to believe she was in her mid-thirties grown out nearly half an inch. A vivid flash of a possible past in a café in Paris flashed through the observers mind, complete with cigarettes and lively conversation.

He lifted a book, a slim volume of love verse and began to read. His voice, no longer weak, but strong and beautiful. Her cheeks flushed as the words flowed like music from his lips; they clasped hands before the end.

Let my voice ring out and over the earth,
Through all the grief and strife,
With a golden joy in silver mirth:
Thank God for life!

Let my voice swell out through the great abyss
To the azure dome above,
With a chord of faith in the harp of bliss:
Thank God for Love!

Let my voice ring out beneath and above,
The whole world through,
O my Love and Life, O my Life and Love,
Thank God for you!

James Thomson

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jazz Lady

She moves like jazz; smooth and intense, passion bubbling just below the surface, confidence oozing from the hidden parts of her. It was love at first glance, through the milling bodies of a thousand Etta fans. She mingles here and there, lingering for a song or two before moving on, plastic glass in hand and wine painting her smile bright. The powerful thread of Ms. James' voice weaves a world where I am neither too young, nor she too old and I feel nothing but regret when it is over.

I don't even know her name.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mating Rituals: One

Ah, the mating ritual of the religious and desperate. Observe, a young BYU couple at the bookstore. He stands as she approaches the table, smiling as she maneuvers her way through the crowded cafe floor. She returns his smile and nods vigorously as he asks if she would like anything to drink. He moves off to the counter to order their mostly caffeine-free hot chocolates while she arranges herself to the best advantage at their table.

Her appearance is deceptively casual; jeans, tee-shirt, and a puffy vest. At first glance her hair is just as casual, a messy ponytail high on her head, but closer inspection reveals the jeweled bobby pins holding the whole thing together and the subtle sheen of pricey hairspray. Her skin is nearly flawless and covered by a perceptible circle of deeper tan than her natural skin. The heavy eyeliner and three coats of mascara are designed to draw her potential mate's eyes to hers. She has left her lips daringly nude aside from the near constant application of fruit-flavored lip balm which encourages her tongue to slip between them and lap at its sweet waxiness.

The male also seems quite casual, though it is obvious that he has taken care with his appearance. His jeans are conspicuously stain and wrinkle free, as is his button up shirt beneath a carefully subtle sweater vest. His hair bears evidence of styling product, probably applied by the capable hands of his “just friends” female entourage. His glasses are faddish, though they miss the mark of true pretension, though he hits the perfect note with the small man-purse at his side. The entire effect is somewhat offset, however, by his obvious African descent. He must appear twice as proper as any of his Caucasian counterparts.

He returns to the table with two Talls. A first date, then. The female accepts her cup with a grimace, though the untrained eye may mistake it for a smile and takes a small sip. Though she murmurs appreciatively, the cup is relegated to the table, where it sits for the remainder of their meeting. A moment of awkward silence, and then the verbal dance begins.

“How are your classes going?” The male asks, leaning forward to show that he is interested in what she has to say.

This begins the standard litany of professors and classes. The obligatory comparison and sharing of anecdotes and sycophantic laughter follows for several minutes. He reveals that he is a Returned Missionary and the female's waning interest is once again captured. She lifts her cup, hesitates, then sets it back down untasted. Instead, she applies another layer of artificial fruit flavor and rests her chin on her hand. Conversation immediately turns to religion.

Though she does not begin with “I'd like to bear my testimony,” the female does essentially that, explaining first how her parents met and eventually converted. This is a lead in to her own crisis of faith, beginning before she was shipped off to BYU and ending with her subsequent return to an even stronger belief through the efforts of her enterprising roommates.

Meanwhile, the male's eyes have begun to glaze over, and for the last three minutes he has not even bothered to grunt a response. Realizing that her prey, er, date has begun to withdraw, the female suddenly switches tact. Without pause, she asks. “What about you?”

The male explains, briefly, that his parents converted when The Church revoked a previous policy that forbade African American's from holding the priesthood. The conversation that follows is too absurd to transcribe, though for the sake of science I will share the salient points.

“I think that what the church did was right,” the female states, twirling a piece of hair that has escaped from her messy bun around one finger. “I mean, if they had allowed black people into the church before then, it would have been an incredibly negative experience for everybody. There was so much prejudice and hatred before then and for their own good they needed to kept out. I mean, you. You know what I mean. Otherwise you guys would've been completely destroyed by it, you know? It was the righteous thing.”

The conversation circles around this point. The male offers no opinions, instead he allows her to continue talking. Those observing resist the urge to warn her of the danger and watch as the female continues her self destructive spiral.

“I'm just happy that the church is so much more tolerant now. I mean, that way if I have interracial children,” Here the female pauses and looks at him, allowing the significance of this statement to sink in, “I could raise them in the church and feel alright about it.”

The male smiles, though his eyes have gone fixed and wide. The conversation continues for just a few more minutes, in which he leans further and further back in his chair while the female leans forward, pressing what she believes to be her advantage. Finally she begins to run out of steam, and he asks politely if she's finished with her hot chocolate while rising to his feet.

The female blinks, confused, and responds that she is. He waits patiently for her to get to her feet, and shakes her hand. Her face falls as she realizes that there will be no second date, but manages to paste a smile before he notices. She asks if she can hug him and after the tiniest of pauses he agrees, offering her a one-armed-back-pat.

“See you in class,” the male calls over his shoulder as he strides out of the cafe.

The female stands alone for a moment, going over the date in her mind and wondering what she did wrong. Then, before she can draw any more attention to herself, her cellphone is out and pressed to her ear.

“Hey,” she says into the mouthpiece, her voice cracking. “I'm on my way home. Yeah, ice cream sounds good.”