Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Days and Escorts

I don’t remember my first day of first grade, but I remember my second first day of first grade. I was six years old, and my family had just moved from Orem to Sandy. My new school was called Sunrise Elementary (photo courtesy of my sister). My mom took me to the administration office where they then took me to meet Mrs. Richardson, my first grade teacher.

School had already started so my teacher took me to an empty desk and told me to sit down and she would come find me later. The classrooms were much different than what I was used to. Each grade at Sunrise had it’s own giant room with four quadrants. Each quadrant was a separate class "room" and then there was a giant common area in the middle. Instead of four walls and a door, each class had just three walls. I sat down, not really listening to what was going on in class, but noticing how I could see inside two other classrooms from where I was sitting. Neither of the students sitting next to me really talked to me or acknowledged me. They just worked on their assignment, which I suppose they were expected to do, so I didn’t take it too personally.

After about ten minutes of sitting patiently, waiting to be told what to do or introduced to someone who could show me what to do, a loud bell rang. Immediately, every student in my classroom (and the other three classrooms) grabbed an orange, green, or yellow bin that was suspended under their desk in a wire tray, stood up and headed for either a different classroom or a different seat. I sat there, confused and a little alarmed. One boy walked right up to my desk, stopped and stared.

“What?” I said. But he just stood there and stared, waiting for me to do something.
“What??” I repeated. But he remained standing, as if he expected me to read his mind.

Mrs. Richardson finally came running to me, flailing her arms a little as if she’d forgotten all about me and realized I didn’t know that the bell meant it was time for “rotations”. I didn’t have an orange, green, or yellow bin like the other kids, and I didn’t know that this silent student who was standing and staring was waiting for me to move because my seat was in fact his seat for the next class. She pulled me aside and explained things to me, gave me an orange “tote tray” with some paper, crayons, pencils and glue and told me not to worry about where to go. They’d figure that out later.

It was a long first day of new things and new people in a new environment. At the end of the day I was so excited to go home and be with all things familiar. I went to the playground where my mom said she’d come pick me up, but she wasn’t there. I waited there for about ten minutes and still, no Mom. All the students had walked home and the only sounds I could hear were cars driving down the distant streets. The quiet was disconcerting and I began to cry until a teacher found me. She wasn’t my teacher, but she was nice and asked me what was wrong. I told her between sobs that my mom was supposed to come get me and I didn’t know where she was and this was a new school and I didn’t know how to get home. It wasn’t long before my mom came running around the corner, relieved to find me. She was a little late but apparently there was also a miscommunication about where we were to meet.

Thinking back on this I realize even though I’m technically a grown-up, I still haven’t mastered new situations with new people, especially when I’m left to myself. I get anxious and uncomfortable when I don’t understand what’s going on and I am sometimes shy to ask questions.

It’s funny, I also remember my first day at church when we moved to Sandy. After Sacrament Meeting my parents handed me over to the bishop who led me to Sunday School. He took me into the gymnasium where my class was and introduced me to a girl named Mary. He told Mary my name was Laura, I was new and she was to be my friend and show me exactly where to go. She nodded at him, and then smiled at me. After class she held my hand and took me to Primary and sat by me. What a difference a friend made; someone to escort me through strange, new things and to answer all my questions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about escorts. We were talking in Relief Society one day about how important escorts are in the gospel and how we aren’t meant to go through difficult and new things by ourselves. When we first make our way through the temple, we bring an escort with us so we aren’t confused and alone. And from what I’ve read and discussed with other members of my church is that we are also given an escort when we move on from this life and enter the next; someone to make us feel comfortable and at home so we aren’t scared and alone.

New places and new things can be scary. Sometimes we need someone to ask questions, sometimes we need someone to show us what comes next, and sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to sit with and talk to so you don't have time to cry before your Mommy comes to pick you up.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Rough Patch

"You need to understand, owning a Vitamix is like having a relationship with a person." At least that's what the customer service lady said on the phone this morning when I called to tell her I was concerned about my machine.

I've had my Vitamix for about a month now. It was working like a dream until about a week ago when I tried to make a smoothie and the contents in the blender stopped moving. I was taken a little aback. "This isn't the Vitamix I know," I thought to myself, "what's wrong?" It eventually mixed everything just fine, but it didn't work as well as I thought it should.

And that's the problem. As with human relationships, unmet expectations freak us out a little bit. Everyone has a different reaction when things don't go as expected. Some (like one of my roommates) avoid the situation and leave it alone because they don't want to deal with another mishap. Others (like me) try to figure out what's going on by spending as much time with it as I can, testing different scenarios to see if it was just a one time behavioral blip. That's not how I handle personal relationships by the way in case you were wondering. But with the Vitamix, I was frustrated when I wasn't home with it throwing fruit and juice and ice in there to see what was up. And for some reason it was important that no one else was around. I needed alone time with the Vitamix so we could talk it out and see what the issue was.

I knew the Vitamix worked best when a certain order was observed: liquid first, dry ingredients, and then frozen ingredients and ice on top. I was so confused because the Vitamix is incredibly powerful. The motor is built to run forever, I couldn't have done anything wrong. I have a friend with a Vitamix who told me last week how she likes to test its strength so sometimes she'll throw something in there like an entire apple just to see what it will do. I don't have that kind of gall, but her machine still runs fine she says.

I decided it was time to turn to the Vitamix people for advice. This is what I learned: according to customer service, the Vitamix is built to blend on high, not low. So the motor wants to go from 1 to 10 in three seconds and then run on the highest speed possible. It wants to work hard. I wasn't always letting it work hard. Sometimes I thought that 6 or 8 was good enough, but apparently that taxes the blades.

So the Vitamix and I have exited the rough patch. It was such a dream for awhile that I expected perfection, and when I didn't get it I figured something must have gone awry. But I learned as long as I observe the appropriate order, and not hold it back from it's power potential we should get along just fine. Nothing is perfect -- not even the Vitamix. But it's pretty darn close.