Monday, December 28, 2009

my god delusion

Just a few quick thoughts while I'm in the middle (pg 155) of reading Dawkin's The God Delusion; I like biology! Wow! And the cosmology stuff the Dawkin's just finished delving into, seriously, my son's favorite book to read at night one about the universe and it was freaky cool to suddenly have a few more interesting tidbits of information to impress my kindergartner with.

But when Dawkins gets into the scientific proofs about why God could absolutely not exist (ie, a being so complex as to have 'created' the universe is even more highly improbable and raises more questions than the creation of that universe in the first place and the problems with declaring God un-research-able and outside the realm of science etc etc etc ...) he sort of loses me. And I'm trying to figure out why.

Maybe it's because I see how absolutely futile his arguments would be, say, in a dinner table discussion with my family? Or maybe it's because I still have my own lingering theist/deist biases that continue color my thinking? Or maybe it's connected to Dawkin's tendency to be a bit dismissive of believers (believers making up the vast majority of my friends and family). Perhaps it's because my own loss of belief in God went through an entirely different route than pure scientific rational inquiry. Still thinking on it. And enjoying the read in the meantime.

Anyhoo... random but related, while doing a bit of reading for my last post I stumbled upon Answers in Genesis (a website Dawkins references several times in his book) and did a good amount of eye-rolling as they try to pander to a female base by raging against Darwin's sexism, because Christians are ALL about equality of the sexes, so poo poo to you Darwin. Yah. Whatever.

Friday, December 18, 2009

weaker vessel

Dusk had turned to dark but I still had 7 miles to ride before I was home. The bike path I was on took it's usual detour down, away from the road, into a stretch of isolated desert. I've ridden this route so many times, but this is the first time in the dark. There's two figures riding BMX bikes towards me. They are not kids. Men, tall, deep chests and thick arms. As we approach each other they see that I am a woman and begin to whoop, yell and cat call. My mind is flashing through the facts: I'm on a faster bike and have a head start, could they catch me? How far till the path comes back to the road? If worst comes to worst then what?
We pass each other in a second and they continue on their way. I ride home.

Caroline recently wrote two excellent posts on the economic vulnerability of women who are mothers and those posts really resonated with me. What has also been on my mind is physical vulnerability. I can rage and get all pissed over cultural and societal flaws that put women at a disadvantage. I must also admit I sometimes feel miffed at the biological evolution that made women smaller.

So, I collect heroes among female athletes, Mia Hamm, Paula Radcliffe, Dara Torres, Cynthia Cooper, Lynn Hill, etc. I collect them in fiction: Buffy, Black Mamba (aka The Bride), Xena, etc. I love this blogger who talks about women, risk assessment and being able to say "fuck off" with feeling. I look inside myself and cringe at how much I've internalized society's message that women should be accommodating, and I admit my own conflicted feelings about raising girls in our culture.

Meanwhile, that ride in the dark occasionally crosses my mind. What if worst had come to worst? I've started taking a bus that carries me in light and company across those isolated stretches till the days grow longer again. Also, I'm going to buy a can a mace.

I wish I could wrap up these thoughts with a nice neat "and that will solve everything".... but ya. Whatever. So instead, I will wrap up these thoughts, hit the publish button, then do a round with my speedbag. Because that always makes me feel a little tougher.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The Christmas season weighs heavy on me.
It brings out all my contradictions: A joy for giving gifts fighting against a need for frugality and a resistance to the pervading sense of commercialism and obligation. A love of celebration warring with the heavy cultural Christian overtones. Conflicted feelings about my 6yr old's adamant profession of belief in Santa (though he has informed me that he DOESN'T believe in elves) and, in particular, feeling that the time investment expected for the festivities weighs heavier upon the woman in the household. (Am I nuts for thinking this? Does anyone else feel that way?)

But... as of today, the extent of our Christmas shopping/wrapping etc is finished. (I take that back, I am putting some finishing touches on a few sock monkey's for the little guy. But still, close).

So now, I'm hoping to sit back just a bit and meditate. And read. I've done some interesting reading so far, like how Christmas is, in fact a Huge Value Destroying Hurricane (which prompted me to add Scroogenomics to my reading list). Also, regarding Atheists, eat drink and be wary about the land-mine strewn war zone that the season can be for non-believers (which prompted me to add The Atheists Guide to Christmas to my reading list). (Plus I fell in love all over again with Dar William's song The Christains and The Pagans.) Most recently, I was delighted to find an intersect of commonality where a letter from an atheist was well received at the Christian Advent Conspiracy, it was encouraging to see mutual hands of friendship extended there.

Speaking of Advent Conspiracy, since their cause is drinkable water, I'd like to point you to Melinda's Christmas wish list where you can help her reach the goal of $1000 to fund clean water projects in developing nations. I like how she puts it: "I have everything I want and need.
If you want to get me something for Christmas, please donate to my campaign for this organization. You would put a real smile on my face. :)" You're awesome Melinda!

here's the promo video for Charity:Water

and here's the promo video for Advent Conspiracy

Okay, that's all. Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

belief and dissonance

(2011; cross posted at The Exponent)

"...I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck..."
American Gods pg 394 (Here's her full monologue, because it's brilliant. )

Yes, I'm thinking about belief and dissonance again. It really hasn't been on my mind a whole lot lately (don't believe, haven't been attending, therefore no dissonance. I like it simple that way.) But questioning type stuff is so hardwired into my DNA that I read a few blog posts and it's all back to the front of my mind again. That, plus a conversation with a dear friend, in which she admitted she believes. As much as she wishes she didn't.

It started by following an @Mormonblogs tweet for Jeff Lindsay's post where he claims to have the answer for Mormon's who have hit up against cognitive dissonance. His answer; it's okay to re-evaluate/test religious beliefs just like we re-evaluate/test science. Except not "the One Being who is the source of all truth." You must not re-evaluate "Him". So there you go, don't leave The Church. Easy. [Bringing to mind this post, which asks (in a round-a-bout sort of way) why, exactly, the existence of God is Unquestionable?] Personally, Richard Bushman did a superior job to Jeff in showing sensitivity to the extreme emotional rupture that is caused when a sincere member is faced with the discrepancies between historical fact and white-washed church manuals. His own answer (speaking to church leaders): work hard to help the struggling soul regain some semblance of trust, if not in the church manuals, at least in the community. Lisa at Feminist Mormon Housewives recently asked Mormons (in a very cautiously worded post with lots of requests to be respectful and thoughtful) what things about the church they have conflict with. There are currently 150 comments and counting. There is always John Dehlin's extensive essay "How to Stay in the LDS church after a Major Challenge To Your Faith" (which includes a good break down of many of those Major Challenges). But my favorite is Madame Curie who gets at the heart of the two main reasons people leave the church (hint; it's not so they can go get drunk/high/laid/rob a bank). I think my believing friend falls into the first category: the church's stance on various social issues is at such odds with her own conscience it finally causes the rupture. I guess I fall more into the second category: a "truth-driven" gal driven nuts (and away) by church doctrine/history.

So there you go.
Now, how about you? Because some of my deepest burning questions about people are how they reconcile or do not reconcile their various beliefs and practices. The believer who doesn't attend, or the non-believer who attends faithfully. Or what finally broke the camel's back (so you left), or healed the camel's back (so you went back) etc etc etc...
Cuz I'm curious that way.

(I realize the majority of these links are more about staying in the church, feel free to share if you have helpful accounts about leaving.)

women making art [or not]

Because so many thought Eva Hesse was just "Tom's wife".

Because so many thought Esther Broner was just "Bob's wife".

Because Sister Butterfly felt the impact of LDS women who can only introduce themselves by their husband's and children's accomplishments and Mraynes discussed the issues of wives giving up their own ambitions to support their husbands.

Because I just spent two hours cleaning the kitchen, and holiday preparations have kept me from my work for almost a whole month. Which isn't the same thing as being identified as merely DH's wife, but seems to fit as I currently feel my identity being absorbed by housework. And it also triggers all my own insecurities about even claiming I have "my work" (who the hell do I think I am?)

(Perhaps also exacerbated by an approaching birthday and a sense of having accomplished not much.)

So I'm just feeling kinda lousy lately. But it might also just be the weather.

i hates housekeeping

Friday, November 13, 2009

finding ritual.

It's been on my mind a lot, this desire to find some sort of ritual that has meaning to me.

The desire was reignited by participating in Tucson's All Souls Procession. A good amount of that event was just for fun, like dressing up for Halloween. But underneath it, was this urge for ceremony, for ritual, to use creative energy to make something to honor and commemorate someone/something who has passed on. A costume, a mask, a float for a parade. Part celebration, part closure (with a good amount of carnival thrown into the mix).

A friend just made a little alter for peace in her home. A simple thing from a cardboard box, some tin foil, a bit of paint, a few handmade objects, a few found objects (similar to these alters displayed during the Procession of Little Angels).

Another friend just had a blessingway for her upcoming birth, a powerful ceremony of womanhood.

Yet another friend shared with me the little alters she would make and put in her room, and of the little handmade talismans she would put in various parts of the house (each with their own specific meaning for the home and the family).

So this veteran's day, I decided to make something as a ritual. It was really very simple, me and my son each made a little person out of Popsicle sticks and string and fabric and other things. We joined the figures together, holding hands, a wish for peace and for our loved ones in the armed services. Then we took the figures to the El Tiradito shrine located in the historic barrio in downtown Tucson, lit a candle and left our our little peace figurines on the shrine. (I had been wanting to see it anyway, this was as good an excuse as any.)

Now here's the thing about me, and shrines, alters, prayers, blessings, etc...
I have lost the belief in there being anything mystical, or supernatural, etc about them. However, what is still very strong for me is the belief there there is still power there. We are creatures wired for ritual. We respond to it. So while I don't think these objects and actions draw out any special essence from the ether/heavens/spirit world, I DO believe these objects and actions resonate in particular ways in our own psyche's.

I mourned loosing my LDS rituals. (see here and here). Time to start finding my own.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

a Mormon feminst image

(posted at Feminist Mormon Housewives)
painting AFP (in progress)
A room of my own. Because Virginia was right.
My space, where I have room (sufficient for my needs) to work, to make, to make a mess, to make art. My entire married life I have maintained this space in our various living/family situations; sometimes it has just been a corner of a room, or half a closet and part of the table, etc. In our current local, I occupy the entire thing. I have frequently felt guilt about it, conflicted about my taking up so much space (a lovely way to top off recurring feelings of artistic failure). And for a good couple of years after my son was born, it became a rather neglected room. But not lately. With my son's growing independence and starting school, I am back in my room. No time for guilt now, only have time to work, to get into it with my materials. Making a mess, Making art. Using this room of my own.

BTW, I just found this trailer for a documentary about women artists who are mothers, to me it's searing, I almost cry every time I watch it. Powerful. "Who Does She Think She Is?"

(I think that woman, in the middle of the documentary, is Mormon. Makes my heart so happy.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

more inky thoughts

Yes, still on my mind, but not on my skin... just wanted to share some cool tattoo links
Birds flying out of their birdcages here here and here
Birds flying across backs/arms here here here and here (that last one is an interesting Banksy knock off).
Plus, think he's faster now, for having wings on his heals?
If you hadn't noticed, I have a thing for birds, so I was delighted to find these flickr pools; tattoos with wings and my tattoo can fly.
Now since I also have a thing for swords (and am thinking that having a sharp blade hidden somewhere on my person might be a good idea) her's caught my attention.
Oh, and since I love a lady tattoo artist, I heart her and her.
And lastly, just for the heck of it, a few horror podcasts that tell tails of disturbing ink, Orifice and The Valknut.

Friday, October 23, 2009

comic challenge + zombie walk

This Saturday I"m going to have to do some balancing between two awesome amazing events. It is the 18 hr Comic Challenge, but I have also discovered that it's the day Tucson is having a Zombie Walk (complete with Michael Jackson Thriller dance along).

So, I'm tailoring my Comic Challenge just a bit, to make room for a walk with the dead. I'll be doing a 12 hr draw (5am to 5pm) but still hoping to put out 24 pages (the Eastman variation "noble failure" may be an option).

Then me, the hubby, the kiddo (and maybe the dog?) will apply fake blood and head downtown. We'll watch the local undead do the Thriller Dance (in sync with thousands around the world) donate canned food to the food-bank, then meander downtown in a zombie-ish way looking for fresh brains.

Wow, what a day!
Pics of both will be uploaded throughout :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

winter is my discontent

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons--
That opresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes...
-emily dickinson (full poem here)
Perhaps it's seasonal depression, perhaps it's the pressure of holiday season, perhaps it's facing a dying year and another birthday (Capricorn!) and fears of growing older... but whatever it is, Winter is my down time. My off season. And I start to feel the first strokings of this right about now, the Fall. (Which sucks, living in Tucson; Fall is such a relief from the heavy summer heat. I LOVE Fall and Winter!)

The past few years the off-ness has actually been a heavy crash, a fairly burdensome melancholy. But this year, I have a plan, and lists of little things to jumpstart out of a downward spiral if I start down that path. Little rituals and routines for my salvation. Heh, I started to list what my rituals are, but they are so benign and boring, sufice it to say, I have them, and they are easy, and I think they will work. We'll see if they work, if I can embrace this season of death with hope. (Hehheh.)

Meanwhile, for your viewing entertainment, two absolutely delightful music video's which a friend shared with me, and BOTH of them touch upon the dying times of Fall and Winter.
The short animated "Rain" and the most exquisit Emilie Simon's "Fleur de Saison" (Sorry, couldn't embed them, but do go see them; pure amazing.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fob Bible

I'm in love... swooning away wrapped up inside of these insideout tellings of old testament tales contained in the Fob Bible.
I'm a sucker for a good twist on orthodoxy. I can't help myself. (BTW, CLHanson liked it too.)
A few of the "plain and precious parts" are online here. Among those my favorites are Blood Red Fruit (a captivating conversation between satan and the snake), Genesis (the rib and the fall), Capitulation: Forbidden Squirming (childbirth and the fall), How Long Till Two Times (a newly fallen yet still ignorant Adam and Eve) Abraham's Purgatory (a horrifying, provoking take on the sacrifice of Issac), and Faith of the Ocean (Jonah as you've never seen him before).

This was just what I needed this morning, to get my creative juices flowing, many thanks to the Fob Family.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

temple of food storage

I went to the cannery today, was signed up for rice and sugar and dried onions. It's been a good long while since I have been to the cannery. Not sure why I never noticed it before, but I got a trippy sense of deja vous looking around the room and seeing everyone wearing aprons and funny caps on their heads. To be standing side by side in rows all wearing the same drapery and hats performing the repetitive motions of canning... a ritualistic ordinance producing row upon row of shiny cans filled with non-perishable food items.

It's been forever since I have been to the temple. Hell... it's been a good little while since I have been to my ward. Not sure why now I suddenly saw symbols of the endowment all over that wide open warehouse space. But get this... It was FUN! I have a soft spot in my heart for food storage. (Well... more of a paranoid conspiracy-theory driven urge for post-Apocalypse survival, but same thing, sort of. BTW, can't wait for The Road to come out.)

First we canned the wheat, then the pinto beans, then the rice... other tables were canning oats, dried onions, sugar. There was so much powdered milk (weird yellowish stuff) that at the end all of the tables were working hard in a powdery haze to get the last of it in cans.

A ritual of food. (not good food, to be sure... but still.)

No problematic creationist myths with misogynistic undertones; Just food. In cans. I am cool with that. (Well... perhaps a tiny tiny bit sexist in that somehow only men seem to get to operate the big machines that screw the lids on the cans...) (And yes, I am aware of how controversial food is in general. I'll grant you that. But still. Yah.)

And now I have row upon row of shiny cans in my pantry.

PLUS!! Just next door to the cannery is Nimbus Brewery. So I took the opportunity to drop by and grab a six pack of Monkey Shine.

Anyhoo... just a few thoughts for this morning.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Invitation to 18 hr Comic Day!!

eve thumbnails

Please Join Us!!!! On Saturday October 24 2009, Me, John Remy, Catgirl, and a goodly handful of other friends are going to do our own version of Scott McCloud's 24 hour Comic Challenge. Here's a quick rundown of McCLoud's "official" rules but for the purposes of our comic challenge we're being flexible. (Hell, we already decided that we are just too old for the 24 hour version.)

Or even able to draw for that matter: comics are diversifying in very cool ways, for example: consider storytelling with Legos, or cookies, or paper cut-outs, or photo snapshots, or stick figures. One of my favorite artists sometimes just takes his iPhone for a walk (just turn it into a 'story' of some sort, and voila!). You can PAINT a comic. You can Sew a comic. There doesn't even need to be words (wow, SO in love with that last link...!!)

More info will be forthcoming, but part of the idea is to foster the community aspect of it by sharing, discussing, tweeting, (etc) both heading up to the 24th and also posting real-time updates, panels, (etc) on 24th.
(if tweeting, consider using hashtag #18hrComic for easy searching)

If interested please leave a comment on john's post, or send an email.

We understand if you need to tweek the day/duration a bit to fit your own circumstances, THAT'S OKAY!! It will still be awesome to have you and we'll find ways of including your work throughout the 24th.

Pleeeeaaaase say yes :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Growing Up Straight

(continued from here...)

[WARNING; some pretty horrible stuff is said in this book about homosexuals. I'm reading/writing about this out of my own morbid curiosity and a need to delve into the roots of my culture's homophobia. But please be warned, it may be upsetting.]

"The possibility that one's child may become a homosexual seems, to Americans, as remote as it is repugnant. Yet the unpleasant truth is that homosexuality is surprisingly common in our culture..." -Stanley F. Yolles, (Director, Nat Institute of Mental Health 1964-1970.)

Thus begins this fascinating/disturbing book, written in 1968, no longer in print and sadly NOT found in the Goodreads archive. Which disappoints me... every page contains some shining example of sexism, homophobia, misogynism or whatnot, and I REALLY wish I could do those little 140 character updates that Goodreads allows for.

I'll just have to blog about it.

The two major assertions of this book: 1) Homosexuality IS a mental disorder. And 2) Homosexuality IS curable and preventable. And the bottom line is that Mom and Dad need to drop their drawers and bend over for a really good spanking for the sin of making their offspring gay. "Bad Mom!!" (for being seductive, incestuous, overbearing, and overprotective.) "Bad Dad!!" (for being a weakling, unable to protect the child from the ill effects of Mom.) Thus the authors delve into the parental pathology that created such a revolting aberration in their children. (Except where the authors do a bit of head scratching over the cases in which parents who where not "severely disturbed" somehow produced homosexual sons. The authors seems to feel that if the psychoanalyst probed deep enough, some parental defect would be found.)

Well, I'm reading this book mostly because of Elder Hafen's recent talk on the subject (a response to the APA's removal of homosexuality from it's list of Mental Disorders.) His own wording is much more circumspect, more sensitive to the feelings of the person with same sex attraction than is the tone of Growing Up Straight (and he thankfully leaves the sins of the parents out of the equation). I don't think he ever once refers directly to homosexuality as a disorder, no... he tiptoes back and forth, weaving in and out, bending over backwards in the sharing his personal feelings of sympathy for the suffering individual. Then goes into his conviction that homosexuality should NOT have been removed from the APA's list of mental disorders.

See... the operative word through out Hafen's talk is SUFFER. The poor individual has this terrible burden, sorrow and misery etc... which is fitting if the individual has a Mental Disorder. They SHOULD be suffering. If they are not... well then, what the hell does that mean? For although Hafen is much more sympathetic, like the authors of Growing Up Straight, he has no language to discuss the happy well adjusted homosexual person. (In Growing Up Straight, the authors briefly mention Hooker's research indicating homosexuals are as well adjusted as heterosexuals, but didn't have much positive to say about it, viewing it as an anomaly and poorly researched).

When I compare this to the recent efforts to de-stigmatize homosexuality, even in middle school, to help kids make the adjustment, gain the knowledge, gain the confidence and the understanding etc... all the stuff that DECREASES the suffering...
I have a feeling that's sort of inspired-by-the-advisary activism Hafen indicates should be avoided.
Because... damn,
If they aren't suffering...
Then... maybe... (/hushed whisper...) homosexuality is NOT a Mental Disorder....?!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

meet Eve

bite the apple
Okay, so BiV beat me too writing about this (and OF COURSE, she did it way better than I could), but anyways; I'm drawing a story about Eve. Yes, drawing, because really, I'm better at images than words... though we shall see if I can jump into the sequential nature of graphic novels with any success. Now I'm still working out the particulars, but the general run down goes something like this: After the fall, Eve returns to the garden to have it out with that angel who was placed as guardian. Whether she beheads him or just beats him to a bloody pulp I'm not real sure, but as with Virginia Wolf, she has to kill this angel to get on with what she needs to do. She also takes on the apple (see above, inspired by Brooke's delightful poem on eating the apple). Now I'm still not sure the exact outcome of all this, but Eve's bottom line here is to have a deadly serious conversation with God (who, of course, is also her husband Adam, because Brigham said so. Oh, and Adam is also Michael who helped create the earth. Yah, serious schizophrenic identity crisis here. Utterly fascinating.)

So here's the thing, several people have asked me why this isn't a story about Lilith (the usual suspect for uppity aggressive garden of eden variety femaleness).

It's because I was endowed in the temple and, as a woman, was a stand in for Eve. I was dressed in her name, said things in her name, did things in her name, I was her and she was me.

And she was this silent and passive thing, created to please Adam. (Absolutely LOVE Lynnette's take on the subject. Wow.)

So instead of despising her (a strong tendency, especially at the end of the temple movie when Adam is pontificating and her role is to hang insipidly on him like eye candy) I wanted to re-invent her. To give her a quest. Give her a sword (she takes that flaming one from the angel). Give her a mind of her own and the grit to do what she needs to do which is different than what the 'authorities' are telling her to do.

I guess feel I owe it to her. And to me.

So that's why it's about Eve and not Lilith.

Oh, and btw, I've written before about my artist's block and my neglected studio...
Well lately I'm back in the paint again! and it feels good. Just had to share :)
painting AFP (in progress)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Killing them with love

In the book section of a Deseret Industries I found this outstanding gem of 1970's homophobia: Growing Up Straight, What Every Thoughtful Parent Should Know about Homosexuality. A guide for parents to be able to "help prevent homosexuality from developing in youngsters" and "spot incipient homosexuality and... take steps to alter it's course." I bought it in a heartbeat. To have it as proof that yes, people actually DID once think this way.

I kinda forgot I had it till I found out about elder Bruce C. Hafen's talk on overcoming homosexuality (discussing how God "has the power to remove your unwanted same-gender attraction" but he might chose not to, but still...)

I guess people still do think that way.

(BTW, if you haven't yet, check out ECS's superb breakdown of Hafen's citation problems.)

My main thought, upon hearing Hafen's words; How many individuals went home after hearing his 'loving' rhetoric, and seriously thought about opening a vein?

I wish I could say more about this, but time is short and my words aren't coming the way I wish they would.
Maybe later they will.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

closed mic

in a few minutes I will be heading out the door to go to church.
in all probability, I will sit in the back and say nothing.
there is really nothing I could say that would be found acceptable by my ward family.
this is a issue I have mulled over and mulled over and gone back and forth with for sometime now, trying to find how to be the openly apostate member in my ward (so far, nothing open about it)... and for that cause, JohnR's recent post (the one about the member who had the mic turned off by the bishop during testimony meeting) has REALLY been on my mind...
This man is heroic to me.
but he is also my cautionary tale.
I don't have the guts to get up and speak my peace to my sisters and brothers.
I don't have it in me to be shut down in the way he was.

I'll write more about this later... (heheh, sitting in the back of sunday school should provide the perfect opportunity to clarify these thoughts a bit more)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

words about God

From two different friends, two fascinating quotes about belief in God.

From Jana:
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.
~Thomas Jefferson

And from Judith:
[excerpts from THE AWAKENING By Don Marquis]
...The God that we have worshipped for a million years begins to be,
And he whom we have prayed to creates himself out of the stuff of our prayers...

For them that have desired a God create him from the stuff of that desire....

He builds himself out of the desperate faith of them that have sought him,
And his face shall be wrought of the wish to see his face....

Out of agonies and love shall God be made...

For he builds himself of the passion of martyrs,
And he is woven of the ecstasy of great lovers,
And he is wrought of the anguish of them that have greatly needed him.

[This poem is much longer but these were phrases that particularly caught me. Unfortunately, I cannot find an online version. Let me know if you find one.]

I'll have to say more later...
For now, I just wanted to put these up, frame them together, and think about them for a while.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

sarah haskins (funny girls, strong girls, smart girls, I LOVE YOU)

A friend of mine forwarded me some of comedian Sarah Haskin's skits

when I googled Sarah Haskins I found that there's also one who's an elite triathelet:

To be really cool, I thought I'd try to find a brain surgeon who is also named Sarah Haskins. There may actually be one out there, but I left off simply finding the youngest brain surgeon in Briton, Gelareh Zadeh (who is also a mom.)

Anyhow, from someone who grew up always implicitly knowing that it was the guys who were the funniest, the strongest, the smartest... THANK YOU!!!

you say that like it's a BAD thing

[also posted at The Exponent]

Atheism- the absence of belief in the existence of deities.

At a large family dinner a few years ago, the conversation turned to the topic of one of my cousins (not present at this gathering). It had been discovered that this cousin no longer believed in the church (!!) which revelation brought about a general round of disappointed head-shaking. But that was not all, the informant continued, "he told me he no longer believes in God!" Gone was the disappointed head-shaking, in it's place was a profound sense of horror.

In my heart (a heart already secretly dealing with questions about the church) I also felt that sense of horror, my own hidden fears that I might lose God.

As manifest by the reactions of my family, the label "Atheist" is a slur, a tragedy, an almost incomprehensible failing, a fate worse than death (well, okay, maybe that's going a bit far, but you get the idea, right?)

[My trusty Webster's dictionary at home has as it's first definition of Atheism; UNGODLINESS, WICKEDNESS. ]

It always intrigues me when I see an individual address a predominately believing audience and refer to their own atheism. It doesn't happen very often. When it does, I try to speak to them about it afterward. Frequently they share the small reservation they feel about stating such a thing out loud in such a setting, there being such a negative stigma attached to the label amongst believers, but that they felt it should be included in their remarks anyways.

I, for one, am always glad they do.
Because, you see, I don't really believe in God anymore, and I'm having to confront my own reservations about admitting this to myself and my peers. (I was recently asked to give a lesson in relief society and was strongly tempted to say "Sure! But I'm atheist, do you still want me to teach the lesson?" But I didn't. I just graciously declined the invitation. Maybe someday.)

I have been delighted to discover the non-theist community is extremely diverse, full of good works, purpose, hope and joy. To discover, as Phil Zuckerman puts it, "Lack of theism does not render this world any less wondrous, lush, mystifying, or amazing."

I have an absence of belief in the existence God.

Which is very ironic because I have always been and still am a spiritual person. But it's not tragic and that's the point I'm trying to get across. There is incredible room for personal growth, for wonder and awe and profundity and mystery within the realms of non-theism. There are amazing people in this world, contributing members of society, friends, spouses, parents etc who do so much good even though they don't believe in God. (Funny isn't it, the impulse to add a caveat about how a person can be good without believing in God.)

I sort of wish I could go back in time to that family dinner and respond to the pronouncement that this cousin was atheist with something like "you say that like it's a BAD thing" and try to get a discussion going that perhaps distilled some of the negative associations with the label.
Maybe next time. :)
Meanwhile, I'll take this opportunity here, on this blog, to get a discussion going.

This is not a post to promote atheism and I want to avoid here any bashing or proselytizing of either theism or non-theism. I'm just curious what your own experiences with the label have been.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Break The Vessel

I encountered an amazing short story the other day.
Break the Vessel by Vylar Kaftan.
It is speculative fiction with some rather gruesome and erotic aspects to it, just to give you fair warning. (Also a warning, this post may give away spoilers. So read the story first if you are interested. It's not long.)

Break the Vessel in it's self is fascinating but I was particularly struck by a strong resonance between the two main characters and my own experience as a Mormon and questioning Mormonism.

On the one hand, Numa, our narrator. A ranking priest in the Temple assigned specialized duties to Sun God. Faithful, a believer, fully immersed in the the doctrines and in the role that has been assigned to him. His role is intended to make the audience recoil just a bit, we would maybe even consider it a vile disgusting duty Numa must perform. But how blessed, how honored Numa considers his lot. At several points in the story, Numa ponders the deep doctrines of his particular role, fascinated, faithful, and in awe.

So much about Numa reminds me of younger self as a member of the church. Heavily involved in service in the church, preoccupied and obsessed with the doctrines, with the spiritual. Mind oblivious to the gaps, the inconsistencies, the contradictions therein.

Then, there is Aki. A God in his mortal incarnation. With no memory of his former Glorious Divine self, but raised from birth with the knowledge that he is Aki, the Sunlord. The Chosen one with a vital role to play for his people.

But Aki comes to a point where he can no longer ignore the gaps, the inconsistencies, the contradictions.

He has questions.
A conversation between him and Numa is so familiar to me:

What if I am not a god?

What?” I ask, shocked beyond propriety.

What if there has been a mistake?

No mistake can be made.”

How do you know I am Aki?

It is faith, Sunlord.

But blind faith wasn't a satisfactory answer for Aki.

And his quest for knowledge only revealed the boundaries imposed upon God by his own Temple and High Priests.

Anyhow... It resonated. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

out out damn spot!

(John get's the credit for the title to this post.)

So, I'm not the best homemaker, but I swear I did mop the floor. Occasionally.
Yah, so I was mortified when I went to spot clean something that had spilled on the floor and saw the contrast of the light clean spot against the dingy brown of the rest of the tiles. (I had sort of forgotten that our tiles were light colored, the gradual darkening of the earth tones just didn't register on my radar.)

So me and hubby spent about 4 to 5 hours together on our knees the next Sunday, scrubbing each tile by hand (800 sq feet? not sure, but it was a lot).
OMG, we have a whole new floor!
And a determination to make it stay that way!
Anyhow, I guess this is sort of my two cents to add to the housework/gender-divide topic that Mel and Adam have already posted about. Typically, I do more of the cleaning (probably why the floors were so bad). But in that instance, my lover was down on his hands and knees, up to his elbows in it with me.
That was nice. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Family Values

[a revised version of this post is at the exponent.]

I've had several conversations with individuals who continue to attend the LDS church, even though they may have serious doubts about the theological/doctrinal claims, because they like the church's emphasis on family.

It finally clicked for me (yeah, took me a while) that it was the church's particular emphasis and teachings on family that first cracked open my nice comfortable safe belief in the church.

To be specific;

I think the church's focus on gender rolls and the spiritual mandate to marry and have children are extraordinarily damaging to individuals who do not fit so nice and neatly within that lifestyle. Those who are single or childless are treated with tremendous pity, except if they are single or childless by choice, then they are the recipients of condemnation. Likewise, the church, ignoring it's own history with unconventional and controversial marriage practices, continues to promote homophobia as a way of propping up their "family values" claims (also trying to earn a place at the table of the Religious Right).

Even for those who fit nicely within the heterosexual nuclear family model, I find the church's practice of extending labor intensive callings to parents with young children a harmful tendency that particularly adds to the stress of the wives/mothers in the family. I'm remembering a conversation with a ward member who counted it as a mark of his faithfulness that he rarely had an evening that he could spend at home with his wife and kids. This remark of his was concerning a "less active" member who had stated his desire to spend evenings home with his family (selfish unenlightened man).

Particularly damaging is the teaching spread around (especially amongst the singles) that any two people can be compatible in marriage as long as they have a firm testimony of the Gospel. This rhetoric is stultifying (intentionally I'm sure) to any sort of spiritual questing/questioning as partners risks being legally and financially tied to someone with whom the only things they have in common are a bunch of children and a hefty mortgage. (Likewise, I think the imperative to not put off childbearing is an intentional step to lock couples into a situation in which it is harder and harder to get out of. Especially considering how many very very young kids at LDS collages get married within months or even weeks of knowing each other.)

And that's just the stuff off the top of my head at this moment.

So, yeah. I think the church's record on Family Values suck.

Granted, there is much about the culture and teachings that encourage strong family bonds and togetherness, but these things are not at all particular to the Church. (of course, neither is a lot of the aforementioned damaging stuff.)

Now, having said all that, if individuals (thinking here particularly of the ones I have had conversations with) find participating in the church is a good thing for their family, more power to them. And I wish them well. There are a lot worse things you could do.

(I'll do a more family-positive post later, one about how my DH and I got down on our hands and knees together to scrub each tile in our kitchen floor by hand. Whoa, that was fun!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

killing arachnids

John doesn't kill the wolf spiders in his desk.
(Yeah, that's not what the post is about, but he does mention this fact. And it's a good post, you should read it.)

Here I must try to expunge my guilt.
I kill the spiders.
The big hairy ones.
If they stay in the garage, they are okay, I let them live.
But if they cross the threshold (well, if i see them that is)...

Just the other day it happened and the pacifist in me, the person who values life tried to reason with the arachnophobe in me: "Just catch it, let it go back in the garage"
The arachnophobe in me tried... she really did, but catching it requires getting so much closer to the big ol' quick-crawling eight-legged thing than just killing it.

After a few heart-pounding attempts to capture it in a jar, I gave in and killed it. Not in a nice way either. It took almost a minute for it to slowly writhe it's way to death after I sprayed it with Raid.

I feel horrible every time I do that.
Killing a spider. Especially when I use Raid (poisoning the very home I live in.)
Every single time I do this, I get this horrible thought in the back of my head, that his spider is actually one of my friends who has somehow been TURNED INTO a spider and has crawled their way to my home in the hopes that I can help them turn back to their human form.

(As I watched this latest one die I am thinking "oh, please don't be Mel, Please please please")

The thing is, spiders ARE our friends? Even if it wasn't Mel (she's still alive, it wasn't her), this eight legged eight-eyed thing is my friend, right? (/Cringing!) Right?
And harsh chemicals are Not our friends.
And I respect life...

I'm working on it.

Anyhow, for your viewing pleasure, here's the Camel Spider (ironically, not even a spider but a solpugid, but close enough) who thought my casa could be it's casa. (And who died in a spray of nerve destroying gas.)
Camel Spider

Thursday, July 16, 2009

more adornments....

About three weeks ago, I had a few more holes put in my head (as my mom would say). It's been about a year since my last piercing, and I thought it was time for another.

I've also been doing some pondering about whether my birds should fly over my arm, or under my arm. Or both.

Anyhow, while I continue to ponder, I though I'd share with you some stats about tattoos that I gathered from this article:


● 36 percent of those born in the U.S. between 1975 and 1986 have tattoos.

● 24 percent of those born between 1964 and 1974 have tattoos.

● 15 percent of those born between 1953 and 1963 have tattoos.

● 37 percent of people with tattoos have military experience.

Ethnic breakdown

● African-American: 28 percent

● White: 22 percent

● Hispanic: 38 percent

● Other: 36 percent

Income breakdown

● Those who make less than $40,000: 32 percent

● $40,000-$75,000: 24 percent

● More than $75,000: 19 percent

Jail time breakdown

● Three days or more: 58 percent

● Fewer than three days: 20 percent

Education breakdown

(ages 24 and older)

● Did not complete high school: 40 percent

● Completed high school: 29 percent

● Some college: 25 percent

● Bachelor's degree: 14 percent

● Graduate school: 14 percent

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

And, of course, the all important political breakdown: "According to the study, Republicans and Democrats are about even when it comes to tattoos, with Democrats only sightly more (24 percent) than Republicans (22 percent). Independents (27 percent) and "others" (29 percent) were a little higher."

There you go! Now you know just that much more about how rare or average you happen to be in your particular socio-economic-inked state.

Oh, and just because, Here is one of my favorite images of a pierced ear.

{updated...} Just wanted to add a few more links about tattoos, here's another (pro-tattoo) site with an even more extensive Harris Poll breakdown of tattoo wearers. And, just because I found it hilarious, here's a fundamentalist Christian's rant against tattoos (and homosexuals and witches too)

{updated again...} adamf informed me that I needed a link to a Christian's for tattoos site. And, of course, he was right. so here you go: Needle for the Nail. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

to cover their nakedness....

Cabaret sensation Amanda Palmer last week took a bunch of pics of herself nekkid and put them out for folks to appropriate for artistic purposes.

Last week I went to the gym but forgot my workout t-shirt. I decided to not let it stop me and worked out in my sports bra and shorts. And felt so completely exposed.

I have several years worth of life drawing experience under my belt (yah, very punny,) including (but not limited to) a few years at BYU where the models wear bathing suits and students and teachers can get in trouble for going to undraped sessions off-camps (what a joke. Seriously)

Recently I have been considering applying to be a model for the local drawing studio.

In the privacy of my home, I walk around practically naked all the time. Always have.

When I first took off my garments I didn't really notice a difference until I went to a family dinner and fully clothed in modest clothing, felt so very very vulnerable.

I'm trying to find a way to draw this all together in a cohesive way, thoughts about my body image, nakedness (particularly female nakedness), LDS moral standards, the temple, garments, etc... But cohesion and witty examinations will have to wait for another day (how's that for optimism?) For now I will just leave you with my rendition of Amanda's nekkidness, which worked it's way out of my brush as a sort of a tribute (rebuttal?) to The Garden of Eden and the root of all ashamedness at being found naked.

amanda f. palmer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

matrimony and money matters

I just got back from the bank. Set up my own separate checking account and deposited this week's check into it.

But let me back up.

For my hubby's birthday I bought him this watch. A sweet little training aid. All sorts of cool bells and whistles.

And I bought it with the money I earned through my part time job as a receptionist and from photographing a wedding.

The past few years I have never known what to do around my husband's birthday, or Christmas, or whatnot. I didn't earn any money, it felt weird to buy him a gift with HIS money. Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be OUR money and yeah, the unpaid work I do as the stay-at-home mom has monetary value blah blah blah...

But, yeah. Financial dependence weighs heavy on me. And heightens my tendency to be ignorant of the family finances. Not sure why; I was obsessively aware of my finances as a single, and other (non-wage-earning) women I know exert complete control over their families financial matters. Me; I felt dependent, overwhelmed, out of the loop, and infantilized.

I've had this little part time job for a while now and have just been adding my meager earnings into the pool. But I've had the recurring thought to get my own account.
Well... to use it on all the little personal "just for me" expenses (like books and visiting friends). To save it. To watch it. To maybe gain a stronger sense of trying to increase the revenue flow (hmm, in this economic climate?) To regain the sense of watching over my finances. MY finances.

That's all. Had to share.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

baby clothes on the goodwill pile

We did some spring cleaning a bit ago. Made a nice big pile of stuff to go to goodwill. I tackled our son's room and decided that all the baby stuff we had been holding onto just needed to go. I'm not planning on having another child, let's free up some shelf space. When DH came in to take the pile out to the car, and saw all the baby stuff I had put on it, his shoulders slumped a bit. "Oh" he said. "This makes it feel so final."

It's not something that comes up too often, but I know that my husband would like more children. Just when I get feeling at peace with my family planning decisions, I realize that it's my peace and my planning, but not the decision that my significant other would make. So, not family planning... selfish me planning.

A one child family.

It would only take one more child to appease his disappointment. A sibling. So our son would have someone to share with, grow up with, grow older with. And this is where my insecurity about my family planning concerns really hits a tender weak spot- what is best for my son. I'm tormented by the anecdotes about the lonely only child. About what my not having any more children will mean for him in his life. I cling to stories about normal healthy people who were only children.

Fecundity and procreation are all around me. At church on Sunday it seemed the bellies of every woman under the age of 40 were blooming with newly implanted life. At church, in my neighborhood, among family, I feel like such an anomaly. An ovary-ed freak of nature deaf to the call of multiply and replenish.
I'm okay being a freak.
Occasionally I get twinges of guilt/sadness over my husband's regrets about our family. However, what really gets me is the doubt, the the worry about what possible harm I am inflicting upon my son by my unwillingness to give him a sibling. (Mom guilt. We will never be good enough. We will always be the cause of so much harm.) Sometimes, just for that, in insecure moments, I waver; Okay, Yes! Fine! Let's make a sibling!


I keep a stash of pregnancy tests in the bathroom. Sometimes I get this wave of terror that my birth control has failed and I am pregnant. I rip out another stick to pee on, praying to my goddess mirana that it isn't so. She has not failed me so far.

I should just get my tubes tied.

But then...

I see the slump in his shoulders;
"this makes it seem so final."
"Well," I say,
"If we have another baby we can just get new stuff."

[meanwhile the clock ticks away.....]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

you sanctimonious perv!!!

I say a lot of stuff in my head that will never ever make it past my vocal chords. The most recent non-verbal conversation that keeps banging around in my head has to do with finding out that my underwear has been a topic of discussion for a particular LDS male acquaintance.

"Get your mind off my underwear!"
I'd love to say to this upright and utterly self-righteous prig.
"Do you think your sanctimony hides the fact that you are obsessing about what's under the clothes of another man's wife?!?"

Oh the things I dream about saying, but never will.
Unless he actually brought the topic up to my face. Maybe then.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

shhhhhhh.... (quite II)

I sat down to write a post the other night and after working on it for almost 4 hours I deleted the whole thing in frustration.
I make lists in my journal of things I want to write about, but when I finally get to sit down for a minute or more, nothing comes; I blankly stare at the screen. Or, like the other night, write and write and write and then give up with the futility of it all.

Even now, I will be able to count the sentences in this post with one hand but I think I will publish it anyway. Why?
Why not? It's something to say anyways.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

laying on of hands

(posted at the exponent.)
The first time that I went through the temple, I knew that I would come back and become a worker there. I knew this the moment that a woman parted a white veil to usher me into a room and laid her hands upon my head.

Backing up a few years, I was one of those beehives who was fairly ticked off at the system that promoted boys to the priesthood and me to lessons on getting married in the temple. There was all this hype about having the power to act in God's name, lots of talk about "privilege" and "power" and "being God's agent" etc... and my 12 year old heart really wished I could be more a part of it then just getting one of those chosen ones to marry me when I came of age.

So when I went to the temple and experienced this space where women laid their hands upon other women to bless them, where they ceremoniously washed and anointed and blessed... I knew I would have to do that too. And so I did, after my mission. And it was amazing. Memorizing the blessings came easy for me and I had some very powerful experiences with the patrons and the other women I worked with. I loved using my hands to do this spiritual work.

Then life got busy and I got married and eventually had to let my time as a temple worker go, but the real question this raised for me was "Why?" "Why can't women perform this work outside of the temple?" Especially when I found that early in the church women were instructed in the blessing and healing of others, I felt it as a painful slight.

So years have past and my view of the church as the exclusive receptacle of the true priesthood power has changed. As have my views on faith healings, miracles and God too. What hasn't changed is that desire to use my hands for spiritual work. I've lost my connection to the memorized blessings and the carefully laid out instructions, even to the notion of channeling some higher power through this act... but I do still have this sense of there being powerful value in these actions we make; human touch, hope, love... I really don't know even exactly how to explain it. I liked the post fmhLisa wrote a while back about blessing sick children because that is a lot like what I feel and experience. With intention I lay my hands on my child when he is sick or hurt or troubled. And I hope it helps.

Do you have experiences where you have felt moved to perform some sort of spiritual act? (I use that term loosely, and for lack of a better one.) If you wouldn't mind sharing, I'd love to hear others thoughts and experiences with this.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aweism [and labeling within the secular humanist community]

In the latest issue of Free Inquiry Phil Zuckerman seeks to create a new label within the Secular Humanist community: Aweism.

A brief overview of his thoughts:

"'Atheist Is Fine, But...

Of course I am an atheist; I don't believe that any of the gods that have been created by humans actually exist... But it's not [a label] I feel comfortable using when people ask me to label myself. Here's why. First off, the term is one of negation rather than affirmation... Second, the label 'atheist' doesn't adequately capture the joy of living that I often experience... I find that the self-designation of 'atheist' simply falls short....

'Agnostic' Is O.K., But...
"Is [agnosticism] really even a position? It is actually more like the absence of a position, for it entails nothing more than admitted indecisiveness or embraced fence sitting... In sympathy with the agnostic position, I believe that there are just some eternal unknowns out there. The God question is not one of them, but other questions do persist that may ultimately be unanswerable... But when I ponder the existence of certain existential questions and cosmic mysteries, I often have an emotional reaction beyond that of mere dry puzzlement or cold contemplation...

'Secular Humanist' Is Better, But...
I do find the designation of 'secular humanist' useful and appropriate now and then... [But] I find that that secular humanism is more accurately a position or agenda that I support... a set of values, ideas, and practices that I advocate... [But] when I first heard my eldest daughter's heartbeat in that small doctors office in Eugene, Oregon, I didn't feel like a 'secular humanist.' What I felt was a tearful joy and wonder...

Yes, I am an atheist. Yes I am an agnostic- at least the version that suspects that there may be limits to human knowledge. Yes, I support and advocate the sane and noble goals of secular humanism. But I am something more. I am often full of a profound feeling. And the word that comes closest to describing that profound feeling is awe...

Aweism is the belief that existence is ultimately a beautiful mystery, that being alive is a wellspring of wonder, and that the deepest questions of life, death, time, and space are so powerful as to inspire deep feelings of joy, poignancy, and sublime awe... There are literally hundreds of words to describe the religious... and yet when we consider the labels and self-designations available to secular folk we can count them on one or two hands... We should not shy away from articulating the various shades of secularity that we may experience, for it is important to others as well as to ourselves, to accurately describe the numerous ways in which one can be godless..."

Okay, now that I have cut and spliced, sliced and diced Zuckerman's article for you, the reason it stuck out to me is that I am somewhat up in the air as far as a belief in deity is concerned and one of the reasons I have been conflicted about discarding a profession in the divine is that I experience moments of strong tangible physiological responses to certain situations that I have always associated as "Spiritual". So it was intriguing to read his thoughts (recounting experiences where he has felt things similar to what I feel) on how his "lack of theism does not render this world any less wondrous, lush, mystifying, or amazing."

Just something interesting to chew on.

Now I am curious to wait for the next issue and see the livid letters to the editor about his treatment of their various chosen labels.

Friday, May 8, 2009

coming out over candle-light

I think it's time.
Time I had "the talk" with my parents.
Time I answered some of their questions.
(Btw, I have contemplated 'coming out' before, but never did.)

Why now? Why not before?
They have asked multiple times in the past, "What is up with you?". But always my response was "I can't talk about it right now."

Now I feel different. See, before, I was still in an uncomfortable and unstable transitional phase. My body, my emotions were still trying to cope and come to terms with the crisis of faith, with the loss of the familiar foundation of my life and I knew that I was in no place to be able to discuss it without either a) becoming an emotional wreck and/or b) becoming aggressive or confrontational. Because I think that genetically my family is wired towards emotionally aggressive confrontational "discussions" about politics and/or religion. That's just how we are. A confrontation is what I expect from their side; perhaps an interrogation, an attempt to demean my views and experiences. I had to get to a zen place where I could be cool with this, not return the hostilities, and most especially, be fine with the fact that I don't have all the answers.

Maybe that's the clincher, what changed for me; coming to grips with living in ambiguity, living without certainty, without all the answers. I think that may be why I feel more zen now. (Or maybe just because it's Spring. I Dunno.)

So here's the anticipated scenario I'm creating in my head. Me and Hubby will invite them to dinner at our house. (Home court advantage?) We'll let them know ahead of time (a week's notice at least) that this will be an opportunity to sit down and answer some of their questions about my relationship with the church. We'll also let them know that there will be ground rules, kinda like the comment policy on some of the LDS blogs (cuz, like I said, that whole genetic thing... we do tend to fight mean.)

And I am seriously considering offering to let them read some of the things I have written about my journey through (and around and out of ) the church before we get together for our little dinner. Only if they are interested. Which means they will know about this blog. Could even be reading this. (/Waves! Hi mom, dad!) I waver back and forth about this part, Hubby and several friends have said it isn't a good idea. But this blog IS the place where I have discussed these things already and show the "real me" and a part of me really wants to share that with my family. Then all the other parts of me get sad and morose about how the "real me" is going to be very disturbing and disapointing (and infuriating) to my family. We'll see.

Anyhoo... in the fantasy scenario in my head at the end of the dinner we will all group hug and all be okay with having differing viewpoints about certain things (okay, almost everything) but be able to respect each other and each other's decisions.

And then I'll be officially out of the closet as a non-believer in my family.
[And then I wake up]
[HA! No, seriously, this is really going to happen. It is time for it to happen. At last. Whew.]

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A month of Sundays

Last weekend our family went to the lake for church. Two weeks previous we visited the First Congregational United Church of Christ together. This up and coming Sunday (mothers day) we will be attending our LDS ward.
It's kind of a work in progress, but when I made the decision to attend church again, this is what my Lover and I negotiated concerning how our Sundays would look. Two Sundays a month we go to our ward. One Sunday a month we attend another faith. And one Sunday a month we do some non-church family activity/outing.
The main emphasis here is being together. Making Sunday a family day.
And so far, it has been quite the success.
Like I said, it's a work in progress. (For example, if Lover gets a calling that requires his weekly attendance we'll have to re-negotiate.)
It has been a nice change from the stressful tension and disjointed fracturing of what Sundays used to be.
Just thought I'd share.

a day in the life of G (spring 2009)

This is getting to be a bit of a annual habit, but I thought I'd revisit my "day in the life of" thing again. Here is what a day in my life looked like about a year ago, and here is what a day in my life looked like two years ago.
(wow, life in fast forward.)

Anyhow, here's what it looks like now:

Mon - Wed:

6 or 6:30 am: Get son ready for school, Help hubby get ready for work (on a good day one of us packed the lunches the night before. on a bad day, well... rush rush rush.)

7:15 Leave to drive son to kindergarten. It's a 30 min drive, which is tedious. At first I would drive him to school then drive home to try to get stuff done then drive back to pick him up, etc... and that was 2 hrs of driving in a day. Totally sucked.
Now I do things differently. After dropping off son, I stay "in town". Initially I would do all sorts of things trying to be creative with the time. But now I know what works perfectly: First I work out. Then I go to the library and draw. I have decided it's time to be an artist again, and I find I get too distracted trying to work in my home-studio. So I draw at the library for 2 to 4 hours. I no longer bring the laptop or books to read; this is me being serious about starting to draw again.

1:45 I pick up son from kindergarten and drive the long drive home.

2:30 we're home and do the whole snack and homework and play with friends thing and I also starting thinking about dinner.

5:30 or 6 Hubby comes home from work, we have dinner and enjoy the last rays of sunlight (work in the back yard, take a walk, whatever.)

7:30 to 8:30 somewhere in here we get son to bed.

8:30 to 10:30 cleaning up, hot baths, reading books, hanging out, getting ready for the next day, hubby and I may watch a show or a movie together (recently we watched all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer together. That provided for plenty evenings of entertainment.)

10:30 Bedtime. Except lying there together we usually end up having sex.
11:30 Bedtime. For real this time.

Ready to do it all again the next day.

Oh, Thursdays and Fridays I work as a receptionist in a nice low-stress family-run office and so those have become my days to be online, catch up with friends/blogs, write blog posts etc. Today is Thursday. Which is why I am writing this post. Maybe I'll write a couple while I'm at it.

(And, btw, I am not looking forward to summer and having this nice routine I have established be shot to hell. But o-well.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Food, Flesh and Spirit

(also posted at The Exponent.)

This is going to be a little sensitive to talk about, but it's been on my mind lately so here goes.

I used to have some serious issues with my body and with food. For most of my teens and 20s I was pinging back and forth between thin and thick, either starving or stuffed, but never satisfied. And my mind was utterly and completely preoccupied with it all; what I was eating, what I wasn't and how it translated on my hips and tummy. (It took a good chunk of brain space for all that obsession. Aside from the bad health, I miss all the other things I could have been putting my mind to.)

What has been interesting for me is to trace back and try to mine my history of eating disorders. Inevitably, the worst spikes in the disorder corresponded to my times of heaviest activity in the church. In high school when I was deeply involved in the seminary counsel. During my mission. At BYU while holding a calling as RS pres (and working at the temple and teaching at the MTC).

These disorders were spiritually distressing to me, I viewed them as a sin that kept me from God and made overcoming them a spiritual quest of worthiness. To no avail. That just made it worse.

This isn't a universal experience. Not all LDS women experience this. (And PLENTY of non-LDS women experience it.) However from many personal conversations and from the plethora of anecdotal evidence I get the sense that I was not an anomaly among Mormon women. In fact, I was in good company.

Happily, I think that depression and eating disorders (etc) among Mormon women are being recognized and addressed by the leadership much more than they were before.

But I sat in Sunday School last week and had an epiphany. The teacher was talking about service in the church and kept using the term "swallowed up". "Swallowed up in the work of the Lord". And how we should strive to achieve being "swallowed up" and what things keep us from being "swallowed up" and as everyone else around me gave faith promoting answers to the problem of why we aren't "swallowed up" the answer in my head was "Because humans are hardwired for SELF PRESERVATION."

My epiphany was this: when I was starving myself perhaps I was trying to disappear, to erase myself, to be swallowed up (and cease to exist).

And when I was stuffing myself perhaps it was my sense of self preservation refusing to let myself disappear, increasing my area of circumference as protection against being swallowed up.

Who knows? Maybe Freud would.

Me, I'm just happy to have that behind me thank you very much. It is nice to finally have a healthy navel, (and strong loins?) and to have my mind (relatively) free from a preoccupation with food and my flesh.

Just some of my thoughts on the subject at the moment.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our House

A few random thoughts about the house we live in here in Tucson Az. In my mind these thoughts all seem important and related, we'll see if they actually are.

A few weeks ago I put a hole in the wall. With my foot. It was the accidental casualty of a momentary emotional outburst and it terrified me. I usually don't burst out emotionally. And I hate to leave marks. And the thing is, I have been feeling pretty good about our house lately.

When we first moved into our home about 3 years ago, new homeowners and all, I hated the place. It was my cage locking me into the life of a suburban housewife. I used to fantasize all the time about breaking all the windows and knocking holes in the walls. (Btw, I've ranted a bit about our house before.)

But I feel more at peace with our home now. Maybe it is just surrendering to the situation, maybe it is making the best of the situation, whatever it is... I no longer feel the same hostility to this house that I once did. Our back yard is heavenly; the Ash tree is an explosion of green that gives the nicest shade, hubby just put in a Chinese elm that promises all sorts of loveliness, at this very moment the star jasmine is in full bloom (intoxicating smell), a month ago the trumpet vines had an unreal flowery orange and pink and red party and the favors are still lingering. (Seriously. It's just beautiful. Ya'll are welcome to come visit anytime you like. But if you come in the spring, it's the bomb.) Plus we just painted a bit of red in the house that just makes my heart go pitter-pat.

I like our house.
Financially... well, we won't go into the finances of this. That's depressing. But for now, we can afford this home, and that counts for a lot.
And our family is happy here.
That counts for tons.

So, I'll patch up that little hole I put in the wall and maybe paint it too, add even more color to the home.

And anytime you want to come for a visit, feel free. :)