Saturday, February 28, 2009

Part Deux

The Omniture Conference was in Salt Lake City and was my first work related conference. Omniture is a company that collects data for companies that have web sites regarding all of the people who come to your web site and what they do. So, for instance if you go to a web site and look at sweaters and then leave, that company can see this and “follow” you around the internet with ads for sweaters. Pretty Big Brother creepy, I know.

Unsurprisingly, I felt out of place the entire conference. My first thought, when I saw the fancy hotel we were staying at and the laughing beautiful men and women who were in the lobby attending the conference was, “Oh man I have to pretend I am an adult now!” Why, when put in these situations do I feel like I am not part of the crowd and this somehow makes me feel childish?

After much thought on the subject, I realized that this feeling has less to do with acting like an adult and more to do with acting like part of the upper class. And I just did not feel like I belonged.

When I would walk out the door and the bellboy would say, “Ma’m can I help you get a cab?” I would wonder if he was talking to some women behind me in a mink stole and a snotty look on her face and then shocked, I would realize I was the ma’m he was talking to.

At the conference, when an older woman who looked about 55 came up to me and asked me if I would like an hors d'oeuvre at the opening reception I wanted to crawl under my table and die. I felt disrespectful smiling at her and looking her in the eye, seeing that she is the matriarch of the family, probably has children and grandchildren and this woman is serving me hors d'oeuvres!

There was something of the celebrity in the air the entire week. When I would walk into the main conference room, lights would flash and techno music would be thumping. I could not avoid feeling some degree of self importance, as if I were a movie star walking down the red carpet. One night, Maroon 5 played and the Celtics who were staying at the hotel came down to watch. I told Sarah this and she cackled, then said, “But Theresa only 15 year olds like them (Maroon 5, not the Celtics)!”

I escaped one day from the conference and visited the local Catholic church. When I saw it, my heart was at peace and I said to myself, “Here I feel at home.” I walked in for daily mass and as the priest walked towards the front I heard an angelic sound. I thought, “How strange, they have recorded music for the daily mass! Suddenly I realized it was not recorded. I turned around to see a full boys’ choir walking down the aisle singing in Latin. Their voices were so pure and angelic. I felt like it was God’s gift to me saying, “Look Theresa, here is something truly of value, something truly beautiful.”

How can I end this post without mentioning my trip to Temple Square, the center of the Mormon faith.

I think I will avoid saying too much; honestly my head is spinning from information from them and from my dad about their faith. I do not want to make judgments to soon. I will say this much, as I walked through the square several young missionaries stopped to talk to me. When I looked into their eyes as they spoke of their love for Jesus my heart leapt with joy. I felt a kinship with them based on that love. I also admired that they cared enough about my soul to stop and talk to me about their love for God.

That being said, there were some strange aspects of their faith that gave me pause and although I admire some things about their faith, I don’t think many Mormons would say the same about mine which does not give me a warm feeling inside.

So that is my strange week in Salt Lake City folks.

I’ll close with a short message to my dear Franciscan friend Mike who I saw in Portland and did not mention in my last post. When I felt out of place at the conference, I realized that this feeling was very Franciscan at heart. When I thought of the little St Francis parish in Portland with the dwindling congregation that we visited, I realized that your desire to join them and to be with them was a very beautiful thing. The desire to be with the marginalized, not to change them, just to be with them, that is a wonderful gift and something I hope you continue to share with us. Love ya!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Portland, Mormons and Maroon 5

I have had the strangest past week ever ever ever.

It began with a fabulous weekend in Portland with Davie. When he arrived to pick me up, he said, "Oh as I was driving here I was wishing that all of the girls were coming to visit me." A sweet thought that I am sure faded as the trip wore on as I liked to wake him up every day before he had coffee with noogies and giggles.

There was something that clicked as I spent time in the city that has been David's home for several years now but was never visited by a family member until now. It was like the hidden life of David was suddenly revealed and the city and all of the people I had just heard passing murmurs about became living and breathing characters in my life. And they were characters.

Let's start with Ian, the spritely "wood-elf" as David calls him. I did not quite understand this characterization until I met Ian and really there is no other phrase appropriate to describe this odd little silly man who loves plants and has nothing but non sequitur conversations with those around him. Some of my favorites quotes from Ian:

"We should start a marketing campaign that cannot possibly lead people to anything else but complete confusion - how about this - CATS THEY EXIST!"

"I like to walk, it really is an amazing thing, you just put your foot in front of the other over and over and it doesn't even feel like you are expending energy, and yet you are active."

Then there is Ryan, his friendly roommate who told me that I can "invade their space again anytime" and made yummy fajitas and apologized to me because he made some chicken to go with it.

And of course, who can forget Chad. Goofy, gushy Chad. When I met him, I could tell that he was genuinely eager to meet me because he loves David so much. And I know this because he does body work and gave me a free stretching session and a few minutes into it he said, "I love your brother, he is just such a great man." It is funny to imagine dry, sarcastic David getting along with someone who would say something like this but he does. Chad, like the Noble sisters, brings out what David calls "his soft underbelly."

Anyway, enough about Portland, although I could go on and on about that city. One last thing, the food is GREAT! Vegan options everywhere! It was a vegan utopia.

On to the Omniture conference in Salt Lake City Utah. Actually I am running out of steam and honestly this conference deserves its own post. Seriously, there is so much to say. Here's a sneak preview - Mormon missionaries, boys choir, Smart cars and Maroon 5 concerts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Prayers

"I just am never satisfied with the little things," I sighed to my friend, "I know I should be, but I am just never satisfied with the small ways that God is working in my life during the day."

Later that night as we boarded the BART, I noticed a disheveled woman wearing torn jeans and an over-sized sweatshirt. Her face was made up so thickly that she looked like a clown. Her hands were a dark brown color but her face was smeared with white make-up and she had long fake eyelashes that were half fastened on. I could barely keep myself from staring at her and observing her nervous movements. She was talking to herself quietly and reading a torn piece of newspaper.

"If you have a problem with someone you should ask your guardian angel to talk to that person's guardian angel," my friend said to me.

"That is a really good idea," I said, something I will keep in mind.

I turned my attention again to the woman and said a short prayer for her, something I do every once in a while when someone's condition or way of being tears at my soul like this woman.

I began to talk to my friend again but all the while I watched the woman out of the corner of my eye.

She was sitting toward me but never met my eyes. Suddenly, something she said caught my attention.

"Prayed for me and snap it worked."

I was startled.

I strained to hear her again.

The group of boys next to me were talking loudly in Spanish about dancing with girls and I could not hear her.

Then the woman made the sign of the cross and kissed her thumb.