Prophets, Sea Cucumbers, and Such

So I’m the Primary pianist at church, which means I get to sit in on the kids’ lessons each week, while I wait for singing time. From the piano bench, hidden behind the piano, I did Sudoku while the Junior Primary (ages 7 and under) answered questions timidly and quietly participated.

Then came Senior Primary. Senior Primary was like a shoebox full of squirrels and caffeine. I don’t know what these kids had to eat for breakfast, but it shouldn’t be legal. They were everywhere.

Discussion about following the prophet:
Teacher: Would you follow someone’s instructions if there was a really good reward?
Kid 1: A free Xbox!
Kid 2: Being president!
That Kid: I would do it if there were a baby dolphin made out of rubber diamonds.

Discussion about Noah:
Teacher: I don’t think Noah had to get the sea animals on the boat, because they could swim.
Kid 1 asks a question about being tortured for eternity.
Teacher: Kid 2, what did Kid 1 just ask?
Kid 2: … A question?
That Kid: What about sponges?
Teacher: They’re sea animals.
That Kid: What about sea cucumbers?
Teacher: They’re sea animals.
That Kid: But they’re also cucumbers.

Singing Time:
Teacher: What do you do in the springtime?
Kid 1: Step on flowers!

At some point, a little girl went up to put something on the board or pull something from a bag. I thought she was wearing a garter. On further investigation, it turned out to be a stuffed white monkey strapped to her leg.

I really hope they don’t release me from this calling. And I really hope they don’t call me to be a teacher. ♦



Acronym Battle

The other day, my neighbor sent me a text about an NDA. I didn’t known what that meant. Naturally, instead of looking it up, my husband and I stayed up until midnight, coming up with all the options we knew NDA didn’t stand for.

National Defense Administration: probably not, at least not in the context of getting a new job. I hope. I don’t think I’m working for the NDA.

Never Die Alone: good advice. Probably not what he meant.

Nine Doilied Abuelas: I just pictured an army of elderly Chileans pushing food and life wisdom on me.

Non-Dairy Asparagus.

New Die-hard Action.

Novel, Dangeresque Activity.

Nervendings Don’t Accumulate.

Norman – Dust Around!

Nirvana Does Acid.

Nickelodeon’s Dust Allergy.

Non-Denominational Atheists.

We used to drive Ethan’s roommates insane doing this for hours. We still do this for hours. I’ll spare you the full list – I don’t remember it all anyway. ♦

That Primary Kid

The Primary kids needed a pianist on Sunday, so I filled in. I’ve played piano for most of my life, so it’s easy enough for me to play children’s songs; plus, it gave me a reason to stay in church without having to pay attention in sunday school.

There’s always some chill time in Primary, because there’s a lesson before (or after) singing time. This one was on the ten commandments. I sat hidden behind the piano, sneaking goldfish crackers when the kids weren’t looking, and wondering how the teacher was going to cover “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (She talked about respecting your body, then said there would be more details when they were older.) I also enjoyed watching the kids tell a newer teacher all the wrong names when she asked which child was which.

At the start of the lesson, the teacher wanted to remind the kids that we obey God’s commandments to show we love Him. She started by asking, “Who do you love?” The junior kids were all about their parents, friends, baby siblings, etc. But the second time around – when she taught the senior kids – everyone was wisecracking and claiming they didn’t love anybody.

“Nobody?” she asked. “Really? You don’t love a single person in the whole world?” A few of the younger girls giggled and started chattering out of turn.

In the midst of the noise, that kid in the back row stood up and held something up between his thumb and forefinger. “This pufferfish!” he shouted emphatically. “I love this pufferfish!”

Maybe everybody’s just used to ignoring this kid, but somehow I think I was the only one who noticed. I was quietly dying behind the piano, trying not to laugh out loud as the teacher kept on smoothly with an explanation about how much God appreciates our obedience. This is why I volunteer for Primary. ♦

At The Mountains of Madness and Other Weird Tales


As far as I’m aware, H.P. Lovecraft singlehandedly created the “weird horror” genre. His writing depicts things so advanced that we can never hope to understand them, monsters that terrify us not because they’ll kill us, but because they’re so far above us on the food chain that they don’t even seem to care about us. While most horror authors scare us with things that hunt us down, Lovecraft scares us with things that exist that shouldn’t.

At The Mountains of Madness is the second collection of his that I’ve read, a series of short stories. I didn’t like this one as much as some other stories, mostly because this collection featured some of his longest stories – several were about a hundred pages long. That’s a short novel to me.

Aside from the ridiculous length, I did find a new favorite story: The Thing on the Doorstep. In true Lovecraft fashion, it was a very predictable horror story that I thought I understood until the last few paragraphs. He doesn’t take you on twists and turns all along the way; he saves it all up for one last punch at the end.

I would not recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for an easy read. It’s not. But if you’re looking to find out where our modern horror came from, or if you’re looking for some sophisticated, science-fiction-y goosebumps, go for it. It’s a classic. ♦

Alligators at the Golden Corral

There was a man with an alligator puppet at the Golden Corral tonight. He was just kind of cradling it in (on) his arms, like it was his favorite cat.

I was about to point him out to my mom, but she was too busy asking me a question. “What is the name of your reptilian brain?”

My reptilian brain. My reptilian brain? I pictured an alligator brain in a jar on my bedroom desk. With a name. Evidently, this was not what Mom meant. Evidently, the faces I was making trying to figure it out were entertaining. Mom was crying, she was laughing so hard.

“…I call him Vincent,” I managed to come up with. Mom died laughing.

Apparently, the “reptilian brain” is a fairly common term for the more primitive, instinctual part of the human brain. The things you learn at Golden Corral.

I never did see the alligator man again. ♦


We were late to church on Sunday. Actually, we were on time, but because baby John is in the crawl-everywhere and talk-to-everybody stage (with or without intelligible syllables), we opted to pretend we were late and just stay in the foyer listening. It’s hard to chase a baby through the pews inconspicuously.

Oh, he’s crawling now, by the way. He’s been crawling for maybe a week and a half, and he’s just frustrated he can’t quite walk without help yet. This child is determined, and I need to clean everything off our floor at home before he eats it.

Anyway. I digress. John was gurgling his way around the floor in the foyer when a really sweet old lady came walking toward the doors. She paused in front of Jonathan, looking down and smiling at him. She looked up at us, then looked adoringly back at the baby.

“Space,” she said sweetly. Then she opened the door and left the building.

I smiled a little bit. I must have heard her wrong, I thought. I glanced over at Ethan. He had the same face. We looked after her, thinking she might come back and explain. She got in her car and drove off.

“Maybe she meant to say something about his face,” I said, and we both started laughing.

“Or maybe…”

Or maybe she’s just crazy. At least she liked the baby. ♦

Lazarus, Our Undead Housepest

The other day, Ethan brushed a dead fly off the windowsill while cleaning. It fell a few inches, then turned right-side-up and buzzed away happily. The thing just straight-up rose from the dead. We named him Lazarus.

A few days later, I found a fly (the same fly?) lying dead in the kitchen. I joked with Ethan that it was going to fly away when I cleaned it up. I picked it up with a napkin to put it in the trash, but when I opened the napkin, it was gone. Like, half a second later. I hadn’t moved. It hadn’t moved. It wasn’t on the counter, or the floor, or flying in the air, or anywhere. It was just gone. Lazarus had disappeared.

Then yesterday, I found a super-creepy dead spider under the vanity in the bathroom. It was all curled up, but it was still right-side-up, so I wasn’t sure if it was dead. I was concerned it might just be waiting to scare the living daylights out of me. I blew on it to see if it would move. It didn’t. I blew harder. It looked pretty dead. So I went about my business. Suddenly, something on the floor caught my eye. The spider had suddenly flipped upside-down, extended its legs (which were twice as long as I’d thought they were), and was having a little many-legged seizure all over the floor. Upside-down. It twitched its way two inches toward me, while upside-down. I might have peed my pants a little.

Moral of the story: don’t let anything dead come into this house. Especially if it’s a thing you don’t want to see undead. ♦