Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Birth Process

This is a piece I made before my son was born. I may have been pregnant with him, I don't remember for sure.

Childbirth was definitely on my mind, the pressure to reproduce, the spiritual mandate to make a body for a spirit brother or sister to inhabit. And I was fascinated with the many scriptural analogies between spiritual growth and actual pregnancy.
Blood and Water and Born Again...
(Matriarchal imagery in a Patriarchal religion)

For this piece I took an old screen door that I had found dumped out in the desert. I de-constructed it, taking it apart and putting it back together as a bunch of boxes of various sizes. I than began to fill the boxes, stuffing them with egg shells, broken cups (that box is not shown here), pages riped from books and rolled up tight, jars filled with salt and stones. One box is empty, painted stark white inside and then closed off (protected?) by a rusty spikey metal "door" (a large joiner that I found in the ashes of a bonfire, the wood it was joining burned away). I also put in some of the little female fertility icons I had been making out of plaster- little venus-of-willendorf-ish type figures, one with wings (angel? resurrected being?) one surrounded in flowers, almost like a burial.

blood and sweat and amniotic fluid and baptism
sex and pregnancy.

All compartmentalized in a bunch of boxes.
It was sort of a self-portrait: Searching for spiritual rebirth and conflicted about the roll of motherhood that was expected of me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

mothers and daughters

I got her blue eyes. The only one of eight children to get them. I am also the oldest. Previously I have always had a close relationship with my mother. Not big talkers, either one of us, with personalities leaning toward the spiritual, I was her good child, the one she could lean on, count on when all my other siblings ran got off course and didn't "choosing the right".
Now, with most my other siblings safely in the fold of the church (presumably having 'gotten it all out' in their young and rebellious years) it is my turn to tear her heart out. And to do it so cruelly.
Everything about me now is a rejection of her beliefs and values: her faith, her politics, her lifelong calling as stay-at-home-mother...
You know... I think my losing faith in the church, and swinging left in my politics are hard for her, but not unbearable.
But I think that my only having one child is killing her; proof that I do not think she was a good mother.
"Was there something in the way I was as a mother that makes you not want to be a mom?"
She asked me that today, in the moment as we were saying our goodbyes. I was unprepared for it, didn't know how to respond, we were in the process of going to our cars, going our separate ways... "Was there something in the way I was as a mother..."

My choices becomes her proof that she was lacking as a mother.
I'll have to write more about this later. Not now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"are you gay?"

I wasn't sure what to expect when I posted this at my family blog. That it would raise a few eyebrows, get tactfully ignored, and perhaps ruffle a few feathers and get a tart comment or two. The reason I posted it there, at the family blog (where I have avoided politics) is because I am the ONLY individual in the family circle who thinks homosexuals should have rights of any kind. (Can you see the reason I have avoided politics on the family blog?) But after reading Hera's well-written post about Mormon's who support the right of homosexuals to have marital rights, I though, 'Hey, it's time my family knew that there are active believing Mormons who think homosexuals should have the right to marry.' Because, really, I think they have no clue. They assume that all members would obviously support the fight against same sex marriage. Just like how they were stunned that there were actual 'good' members who weren't going to vote for Mitt Romney. Of course, my waivering belief puts me in the realm of 'not-good Mormon', one who would obviously be deceived by the lies of the devil. But I hoped that the exceptional Mormons for Marriage webpage would give a good showing of faithful members who think the church is wrong in this matter.
Anyways, I just had to post this because I just got an email from my mom. The only thing she wrote is "are you trying to tell us you are gay?" And I think she was serious.
I wrote back: "Yes. And DH is a woman in drag."
I wonder if she'll think that I am serious?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

discussing Take This Bread

Discussion taking place at The Exponent.

[If you have not yet read Take This Bread, excerpts can be read here here and here, and an additional essay by Miles can be read here.]

“ ‘Oh God of abundance,’ I began, ‘you feed us every day. Rise in us now, make us into your bread, that we may share your gifts with a hungry world, and join in love with all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’ ” -pg 247

This was one of the prayers offered by Sara, one she specially wrote for use at the Food Pantry where her and her volunteers distribute free groceries to upwards of three hundred people once a week. I think the main reason it caught my eye as I read it this time around, was that it is reminded me very much of a prayer Bart Erhman described in his book God’s Problem. For Bart, the doctrine of a God who feeds people became proof that there is no God because millions of people starve every day. For Sara, the doctrine of a God who feeds people became the knowledge that God was asking for her help, because millions of people starve every day.

I hardly know where to begin with this book, there are so many themes and things written in it that just stop me in my tracks, I can hardly refrain from just blurting out “oh, did you read this part?” and “I LOVE what she said here” and “this quote just blows me away!”

So, actually… I’m gonna just blurt stuff out here:

I LOVE Sara’s doctrine of inclusion that welcomes everyone to the (sacramental) table;
“As I interpreted it, Jesus invited notorious wrongdoes to his table, airily discarding all the religious rules of the day, and fed whoever showed up, by the thousands. In the end, he was murdered for eating with the wrong people.” –pg 92

I am profoundly humbled by her belief that you cannot be Christian by your self,
“I was going to get communion, whether I wanted it or not, with people I didn’t necessarily like… the people God chose for me.” –pg 97 The atheist, the Buddhist, the wealthy liberal church member who doesn’t want the Food Pantry interfering with ‘church’, the schizophrenic, the hopeless drug addict, the homophobic evangelical, the sexual deviant (as she occasionally refers to herself) … all part of God’s flesh, the body that we are a part of.

Her take on the Holy Scriptures is delightful to me; “ ‘The Word of God,’ [Donald] said, ‘is what’s heard by the people of God when the Bible is read.’ That meant the Word was living not because it was magical but because over and over, down the centuries, believers wrestled with texts, adapted them, edited them, interpreted them, swallowed them whole an spat them out. The stories in the Bible were records of human attempts to understand God- attempts that were hopelessly incomplete. But through words and acts, we kept trying.” –pg 172

One of my favorite parts, the one lodged in the back of my mind like a seed, is when Sara takes a vial of rosemary scented oil to the Food Bank and shyly goes around asking the workers there if they wanted a blessing. A special anointing, a ‘blessing of the hands’ that she thought up just for the occasion. Dipping her thumb in the oil, making the sign of the cross upon the palm of whoever said yes, giving a little prayer. As they all go about their work of feeding the poor. The imagery is one I just cannot shake.

I was sometimes uncomfortable with her ‘new convert’ fervor, slipping scriptural phrases into conversations with her atheist partner, self-righteously strong-arming her new church community into the good-works sector using the guilt card (“it’s what Jesus would do if he were here”). And my heart hurt a little bit when she shared the account of the young girl, obviously abused, who wanted baptism; ‘…the water God puts on you to make you safe…’ It was a beautiful, intimate ordinance, as Sara and Lynn (the female minister) washed and anointed this girl (pg 237)… but I found my self thinking, aching; does she think this will protect her? Did they explain well enough to that beaten abused child that the water and the oil won’t keep her from getting hit (or worse)?

I could go on and on… (the politics of food, the ordination of women and homosexuals, the wars within religious communities and between different factions of Christians, same-sex marriage, the spirituality of sharing food and of the dinner table, etc…) but I’ll stop now.

However, I’m hoping you will go on, I’m dying to know what you thought of the book!

What did you think of Sara’s conversion, of her experiences at St Gregory’s, of her radical politics and her unconventional education, of her work with the Food Pantries and her unorthodox gospel?
What parts were memorable, which were uncomfortable?
What similarities do you see between Sara’s beliefs and experience and your own?
Anything else that I am not asking but you want to share, please feel free.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

releasing nursery..... ?

We, my husband and I, serve in the nursery.

About three months ago I wrote this post, and had pretty much resolved to take a sabbatical from the church. The SAME DAY I wrote that post we were visited by a member of the bishopric (a friend of ours) and asked if we would serve as nursery leaders together.

Was it some joke from God? (Still assuming the existence of one.) A divine sign I should stay? Observant leadership perceiving that I might leave? There was a lot of emotional junk associated with this calling; the most basic being that I have a hard time with kids (hubby however, is great with them). But in addition to that, for all appearances, my disaffection kept my husband from getting a calling in the Elder's Quorum, and I, enraged, sent off a missive in which I indicated that my ability to support my husband in his callings had been severely misjudged. I never did receive a response to that letter. When we were extended this calling a month later, I wondered if this WAS a response; "oh yeah miss-offended-and-apostate-smarty-pants? support your husband in THIS!".
A calling that is typically considered one of the least desirable.
And which my husband cannot do unless I am present.

I seriously considered saying no. I was really planing on taking a break. But this brought up all sorts of stuff for me, like the taboo of saying no to callings, how badly the ward needs SOMEONE to do this, how it might be a suitable break from Sunday School and Relief Society yet still a way to participate (a sort-of sabbatical), how a humble calling would be a good thing for me (as an active and believing member I used to be so proud of my doctrinal teaching skills, this calling would have seemed like SUCH a waste of my talents!). And above all, "Hell yes, mister ass-hole Stake President... I DO support my husband in his callings! (You pompous arrogant white-collar slim ball!!)"

So, Sunday has become a pretty miserable day. (It was anyways... but now especially I feel stuck, arrested mid-step.) This Sunday I was dead set on asking to be released from nursery (and then take a break from church for a time.)
I haven't made the call yet.
It's a scary difficult phone call for me to make (to a friend).

There is a part of me that wants to just tough it out, that whispers that this is giving up, deserting the children! And then another voice self-righteously implies that it is all in my head, and if I had a better attitude it would be so wonderful and I would learn so much from this. (That voice sounds an awful lot like my mom.) And there is this little conspiracy theorist voice whispering that my giving up is exactly what mr. pious peremptory Stake President is expecting of me: then it becomes a total "I'll show you" pride thing.
(In all honestly, I bet he never gave me a second thought. This mostly just shows off my self-absorption. Sick.)

Really, I wonder if I am trying to talk myself into staying in the calling (hard option #1) or out of making that excruciating phone call (hard option #2).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

down time... or is Google making me Stoopid?

I've been getting concerned lately.
I used to read. A lot. When I was pregnant with my son and had a cake job as a live-in apartment manager I sometimes used to consume several books a day. Even just a few years ago I was still consuming ten or more books a month. Now, I feel like I am trickling in a book here or a book there, and struggling to 'get into' them the way I used to. When I read this fascinating article I realized the author had a point:
"I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle... what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski".

That sounds so familiar.
And it is not just reading. It seems a lot of things that used to be pivotal to my life are suffering, I used to write a lot; compulsive journaling, playing around with fictional characters and story lines, reviews and letters and thoughts and ponderings and observations... Not so much anymore. My journal is sadly neglected, I haven't touched any of my fiction in months, and when I look at the past couple months worth of blog entries they are mostly just brief humorous quips (appropriated from other sources) and pictures.

On top of reading and writing, I have not worked in my studio in.... almost a year? could that be right? Has it been that long? Previously an obsessive sketchbooker (as opposed to a scrapbooker) it so something that I just no longer do. And it's loss is painful. As sort of a replacement I have been taking pictures, but it's not the same; it doesn't satisfy the same need for expression that is still underlying and gnawing away.

Meanwhile my time on the internet has increased. A lot. Yet it feels like my internet 'productivity' has decreased as measured by meaningful contact with friends and exposure to ideas and information. I'm not sure how the math works out, I haven't sat down and analyzed my internet time, but perhaps I should. Flickr, Goodreads, email, chat, Blog Reader... and for all my attempts at getting all my information organized into one place I still just find myself... scattered and spinning my wheels.

And how embarrassing to write about this ON MY BLOG. (So, G, sign off already and go read a book!)

Maybe it is just an adjustment period (been lots of upheaval lately), maybe I just need to find a balance, get better at time management, maybe this has just been a necessary down time, and I'm ready to 'get up' again, maybe I have an addiction that I need to address. Or maybe Google has made me stoopid.

So... does anyone have any thoughts on the subject? ever gone though something similar? I am soliciting advice here, so feel free.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I've lost the energy and ability to organize my thoughts into any sort of cohesive writing, whether as journal entries, blog posts, comments, etc. I think about the topics and issues that I have wanted to blog about and compare it to the easy little quips and pics that i have posted instead in the past month or so and I get sad and worried. I try to remember what an associate of mine (an artist) said; something along the lines of 'honor the down time'. And so I keep holding on to the hope that this is just 'down time' and it will pass, and that I will be better for it... But I also harbor the fear that this has just become plain laziness, lack of discipline, complacency, or worse.

have you ever felt this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Utah 2008

from left to right: chandelle, G, mfranti, ellen, lessie.

back row, left to right: kiskilili, lynette, G, ellen, JohnR, lessie, bored in vernal, saraphine. seated in front: Jana, mfranti.

Finally! In the flesh, all these close friends I have, whom I had previously never seen face to face. It was AWESOME!!! Our family was already planning a trip to Utah to visit family, but when I found that the Sunstone Symposium was going on as well I couldn't believe my Luck. And so, after spending several days enjoying family and the great outdoors in St George and Provo, I continued on to Salt lake City where I hooked up with mfranti. And from there the fun never stopped. Honestly, mfranti's summary of the weekend is brilliant I don't know that I could add a single addition. But I can add a whole lot a photos, so here you go: bloggers in the flesh (for those of you only interested in the faces of the bloggers we hooked up with) and the whole shebang here (for those of you who also like pics of window shopping, shoe shopping, carrots pulled right from the ground, and a few extra candid shots of those aforementioned bloggers.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

finally letting it go...

I finally got a new drivers license today, one with my married name. I've been married over 7 years, it was about time! It needed to be done anyways, the address had changed, and it was one of those older affairs where my social was my drivers license number. Totally needed to get a new one, should have a long time ago. But I didn't. I couldn't. I continually put it off, and couldn't even tell you why... but now I know.
Filling out the forms for my new ID I realized I had been holding on to that piece of identification with the embarrassing mug shot, with a completely obsolete address, with potentially dangerous personal info... because that ID had my maiden name on it. It had been my form of rebellion against changing my name. Having been unable during my engagement to express to others (or even myself) what it meant to me to take on a 'married name' I instead held on to a piece of plastic. Now, seven years after marrying, as I finally went into the DMV and got my much needed new drivers license, I felt the letting go of it all as I wrote my (by now so familiar) married name in the blanks of the required paperwork. A little sadness, a little resignation. A little relief (this had been an awkward double life that rose it's head anytime I needed to proffer identification). I mentioned it to my lover afterwards, and his response was "you can change your name back if you like. It won't hurt my feelings." And I know it won't. But I doubt I will.