Monday, December 27, 2010


I've mentioned this a few times before (I think) and I believe the sentiments are shared by fellow converts:

Y'all, I feel stupid for even complaining. BIC members had no fucking choice. Me? I was EIGHTEEN.

Yes, I know. Eighteen isn't exactly adult, except perhaps on paper. I could vote, couldn't drink, finally got my sorry ass out of high school, and had zero clue of what to do with myself. I had a great GPA, but not great enough to get into UC Santa Cruz--and it wouldn't take much to talk me out of even that. It just took a pretty girl full of energy who was willing to be my best friend and a group of people who loved me without even getting to know me (all they needed to know was that I was a potential inmate). Whereas once I was a social outcast, surrounded by people who had known me since preschool, I was a new person. They didn't know who I was. It was a relief.

And let's be honest: I needed to get the fuck out of my parents house. I needed to cut the cord, because my mom would never on her own.

So you have a convert who left the church and is now bitching about it. I feel lame for doing it, and like I said I'm not the only one. I know what the world is like without the church whereas BIC members have no clue.

But I've been doing some thinking.

I characterize myself as an ex-Christian girl, but if cornered you'd find out that I'm hard pressed to go very far in denouncing Christ. I may know what the world is like without the LDS church, I can largely break off from the hammering doctrine easily construed as brainwashing, but I can't get away from Christ.

For about a year following my disaffection I would denounce and bitch about the church, feeling rather confident in my feelings--but the second you put me with SIL for more than five seconds (if that), I'd leave with an enormous desire to go back. To figure out a way in. A compromise. In the end I knew I couldn't, but you can believe I tried. I believe I've said it recently, but that part is over now. Mostly because she has changed, and so have I. Because our friendship has fizzled, and I'm done mourning it nearly ten years after it began to crack.

That said, I still have Christ. I have entered into one church since leaving the LDS church that hasn't thrown me into a complete fit of anxiety and panic. I wasn't totally calm by any means, but I didn't freak out. And while that church is nowhere near me now (you wouldn't catch even a UU church within 45 miles of me), sometimes I think "you know, if I were to attend a church that would be the one."

But then it stops, because I don't believe. But I want to. Sometimes I want to so, so bad.

I want to compromise my beliefs sometimes, but I don't even try to. I don't because Eric is atheist through and through now and I don't want to deal with that, even though I know he'd deal with it. I don't because my desires always hit a brick wall when I realize I don't believe. Not really.

Christmas was weird for this. All the children's shows and whatever featuring characters who mentioned Christ and the way I'd react inside, wondering when we're going to have The Talk with the kids. Jason, I know, is interested. My views (my scrooge-ish views) on Santa changed: let 'em believe! then later we can use that as a lesson regarding how everyone can tell you one thing and yet it's still wrong: use yr brain, kids). I couldn't just relax. I'm on constant vigilance, and it hurts. It physically hurts.

I need to come to some sort of peace, but I don't know how. I've rejected Mormonism after some work, now I'm working on my feelings regarding Christianity which entails a lifetime of inherent belief. Even when I took the four year sabbatical from church, I still believed.

It fucks me up with regard to my kids. It just really sucks.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


You know, I get that the snarky and funny and general pain-in-the-ass posts brings all the boys to the yard but the last few days I'm not feeling it so much.

Except for my Joe Smith birthday picture. That was pretty funny. At least to me.

Spent the day at the in-laws and have done a bit of thinking. I do this every now and again, get all introspective and that shizz--start to feel bad for including their comments and whatnot in my posts. My comments are not meant to be personal--again, dislike the church, love the people. Most of them, at least. They are people. It's what the church does to the people.

That said--and this is a big but--I love watching Eric and his siblings interact. They are, no joke, the best people I know. His youngest brother gave up his bed for me five Christmases ago when I was in active labor with Joseph. That was not an easy time for any of us. His sister (and the youngest brother) babysat the two other monkeys while I dealt with being in labor without my asking.

His younger sister used to be my best friend ever. And while she's changed considerably and while she was totally against "Christmas Vacation" tonight and does all that stuff, I love her. I used to say I missed her terribly, but I think I'm a few steps into acceptance. She used to be the girl who made me want so much to find a way to be a part of the church, but I'm no longer trying. It's funny how there's one person for each little step for me: one friend who makes me want to fit into the LDS creed, and then there's another who makes me want to try to fit into Christianity--even if just a little. Another post I'll hopefully remember later.

Anyway, five of Eric's six siblings were there today and they are all fun to watch. My brother and I are not close, and I'll freely admit I'm jealous I didn't and don't have the family Eric has. If that's what being LDS meant--having an amazing family--I'd totally rethink this. But I'm being idealistic, even there. Still, they are so neat to be around. I am the weirdo in their midst, but I'm hardly ignored--they try, dog bless them. There's a hope in being around them that my family will be even a little like them. I don't want my family to be like the one I grew up with. This fear, the one that leaving meant we were doomed to be like mine, was a big one that kept me from accepting my disillusionment.

But you know, my dad called me today. He's done that quite a bit lately (quite a bit being more than once), and today was special because he called me just to see how things were going. My dad doesn't do that.

And even though it would've been fine because we were at MILs house and they're all active members, church talk was minimal. Like ridiculously minimal. One mention of Christ's birth during the blessing of the fud and a gift of "The Princess Bride" that brought the comment "Every Mormon family has this movie!"

Which, you know, they do. And if they don't the individual people can quote the entire thing for you. Maybe that was another sign I'd never make it: "The Princess Bride" has played for me about five times and I've only stayed awake for it once. Not because I found it boring--not at all--I was just always sleepy when it played. Bad timing. Indeed.

And now it's eleven o'clock. The kids went to bed about twenty minutes ago, having been up since about 5am. I expect to sleep in in the morning, and now we've a big family get-together for all the late december/early january birthdays in the family (so many that i was afraid to announce joseph's due date), planned before the sibs go back home.

Like I said, I don't feel like I belong so much (especially anymore), but I like being around them all the same.

I could've done a LOT worse. I truly struck gold.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Sometimes, as some of you might know already, I feel like I can be a bit bitchier than is called for. My "War on Christmas" commentary included--

I realize what I've said cannot be wholly or honestly categorized as violent or to the same standard as others, but I've certainly put in my own two cents, much of what isn't necessarily original. You know, "the date is pagan, blahblahblah"

And while I've said it before, I want to say it again: I understand that the birth of Christ is an integral part of the holiday for many, many people.

I just get annoyed.

Even as an active Christian, this war on Christmas crap bothered me. Happy Holidays was just fine. Seasons Greetings. All of it is better than "Fuck off." And it did bother me to walk into Walmart and hear a very pointed "Merry Christmas" from their employees, knowing it was specifically called for from a company who places Christian things on its shelves and keeps its stuff "family friendly." Honest to god, I see more Glenn Beck crap than anything else in there.

All the while dealing with the guilt that is associated with shopping at Walmart. And now Target.

But that's a whole 'nother post.

I just wish this time of year encompassed everything it claims to be about, but all of this bitching doesn't make it what it is supposed to be. I watch these programs that tell us about love and hope and giving--nothing exclusively Christian, but values Christianity claims, but I don't see it. I see a lot of people fighting over who is the biggest victim. I wish it wasn't.

These days I lean more atheist, one who needs a lot of help in the living authentically department, but I believe in these things too.

Christ hung out with the sinners. He didn't condemn them--he told them to sin no more, but he had compassion. It was the hypocrites he didn't care for. He broke the rules in order to serve the poor and needy.

This is the time of year, I think, when everyone should reconsider their thoughts and actions and keep it to themselves instead of projecting their faults onto others and then judging others for their projected faults. I've been a bit proud myself, thinking I was better because I don't need a carrot. I think we all need carrots, whether it be heaven or a good reputation, a good feeling inside. Years ago I took a class called "Philosophy of Religion" as an LDS investigator under the guise of seeking it all out. The professor argued that pure altruism didn't exist--there's always a motive in doing good. Always. I rejected his argument in totality back then, but sometimes (like now) I wonder more and more if he was right. But is that so bad, and if not, how can I judge those who need heaven in order to do good? I don't think it's good to need heaven because I'd rather deal with people who are good to be good, but is that always the case with these folks?

Again, a whole other post.

I like Christ. I don't think I believe he was necessarily a divine being or even a being period, but I like much of what I read about him. Some of what I read, with special consideration of Matthew 5:48, makes my shoulders turn to brick:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

That one always gets to me. When I'm not kicking myself for not being perfect, I'm kicking myself for feeling perfect.

Anyway, what was that Gandhi said? It's so popular these days, especially in light of Anne Rice's distancing from Christianity: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

But I shouldn't judge. Some of the best people I know consider themselves Christian. Religion has no bearing on who is good and who is not.

And I guess that's the point. This blog/journal here is to work my way through my feelings regarding religion, and from time to time I get up on my high horse and preach preach preach. I'll make fun. And I'll probably do it again and again. Sometimes I'll feel justified, other times I'll apologize and perhaps even delete. I believe in poking fun, and I believe that religion can be more harmful than helpful. I hate the LDS church, even though it was there for me when I needed something good the most. I still don't understand that. There is a lot about spirituality and the need for religion that I don't understand. So I may not like religion but that doesn't mean I don't like its people. I don't know about it being good while acknowledging that it does good things. These days I can't figure out my fascination with Catholicism (I want to attend mass) while knowing what I know about the abuses therein.

Without trying to this year I bought two different kinds of Christmas cards--one said "Merry Christmas" and the other "Happy Holidays." For the briefest moment I considered being an ass and sending people like my father the "Happy Holidays" one, but stopped. This really isn't the time of year for that--and is any time of year appropriate for that? When I'm feeling mature enough I realize there is not. That doesn't mean I wasn't an ass in some other cards, just to the people who would appreciate it.

There are moments I feel pretty good about myself, but they're few and far between. Lately I've done little but degrade myself. But I'm trying. I think most people are.

I think that's all that matters.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays--whatever you like. It doesn't matter. God knows Christians and atheists alike celebrate, and if he's the kind of god Christians claim he is, he won't and doesn't give a shit about labels, just the heart. And it's in this way that I don't think Christmas is exclusively Christian.

Besides, O Little Town of Bethlehem remains my favorite Christmas song. Ever.

What's more, the LDS Hymns version (MoTab?) is the only acceptable version.

Happy birthday!

It's Joseph Smith's 200-and-something birthday, everyone!

Anyone remember his 200th birthday? I remember being all squeamish. How can they say we don't worship him and then put on that show?

I think I'll celebrate my nephew's birthday instead. Great kid. My 6-year-old son adores him ("he does dangerous stuff!"). He's 12 today.

Oh god.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Modesty is annoying.

"This would be a great dress if it had a bit more dress, you know?"

I heard this statement last night more than I ever want to again during a shopping trip with a few active friends of mine (family). One hunted for dresses in particular at Forever 21 (and Target, both decent places for clothes).

I thought a few of these were fantastic dresses. A few were a little iffy, if you're not into showing a little cheek. But you know, whatever. She looked good.

Seriously. ENOUGH.

It sounds so holier-than-thou. Especially when said dresses hit you mid-thigh. Mid-thigh! And she could pull it off. If I could pull of some of these dresses, you can bet your ass I'd be in them. Be in them while you can! Hell, I've got at least one now. Can you say "cleavage"? HELL TO THE YEAH.


Monday, December 20, 2010

A little bit of awesome.

You're in a meeting--Relief Society, YM/YM, Elder's Quorum, etc. The topic of inactives comes up.

"What can we do to bring him/her back?"

You shrug. "Do we really want that bitch back in our ward?"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Modest Lingerie: Brought to you by the Ensign

Dudes. I'll just leave you with the title. Honest to god, it's enough. 1971, sure, but still!!

Lingerie: Feminine AND MODEST.

Good fucking LORD.

Their poor, poor, poor sex lives.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Patriarchal Blessings

So glad I'm not alone.

Then again, had I KNOWN I wasn't alone at the time, I might've gotten the fuck out a lot sooner. Then again, I wouldn't have met Eric.

I swear, it's all sorts of fucked up.

For those who may not know what a patriarchal blessing is, in each stake there is one or two generally old men who are "set apart" to be the Patriarch. One of these old dudes gives what is often referred to as a personal scripture to each worthy member of the church after an interview with their bishop who determines worthiness. I think new members have to wait at least a year. So this "blessing" tells you about who you were in the premortal existence, what lineage you can claim re: the 12 tribes of Israel, warnings to watch out for in the present time and what you can expect in the future. If, say, your blessing promises you a marriage to a worthy woman which results in many children and you--gasp--don't get it (also counts for going on a mission), it is rationalized that you will receive such things in the afterlife.

So lately I'm reading a lot of other people's accounts of how their patriarchal blessings began with a fairly long "interview" where the almighty patriarch (he who is endowed--teehee--with the ability of a psychic to know my past, present AND future) before the actual "blessing"

The entire time I'm speaking with this man I'm thinking "wtf, are you serious? this is very weird." I KNEW I was in effect giving this man the answers before the test. This feeling was verified during the actual blessing as I was told all the same shit I just told this guy. Nothing--nothing--was new to me.

I was so pissed for years after this. Just pissed. I was in tears. I wanted to tell somebody, but that's just not an option. It's supposed to be just for you, nobody else. You can give away a few things here and there in the correct setting, but never ever share the entire thing with anyone other than your parents and/or spouse.

I should post it. I should. Maybe another time. Oh wait, I did!

And I understand that this may be nit-picking and rather punctuation-crazy of me (although I understand I'm not perfect at this either), but I couldn't believe the errors once I received my printed copy. Shouldn't something of this importance be, you know, professionally transcribed?

Every time I read it I wanted to cry. It just made me so angry. Once I married Eric I was happy to show him and confess, finally, that I hated it. I hated it more once I read his. He loved mine, though, and I could never figure out why. I loved his. I don't remember why. It just seemed better in a lot of ways.

I felt robbed. Any asshole can ask a few choice questions and them "predict" shit. Also, when all else fails just say this person is of the tribe of Ephraim and make some shit up when that person's other family member is of the tribe of, say, Benjamin (it's supposed to be a blood thing--if you're Jewish you'll be assigned to the Judah--I think. Correction?)

It's fucking ridiculous.

Now that I've posted it, you can see it at My Patriarchal Blessing

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's time

After adding "Fanny Alger" to my FB friends list the other day, I thought that perhaps I should begin my own little profile where I can be totally offensive. Eric agreed, haha. I do a good job of making that man uncomfortable. He is my checks and balances system. I'm his "just do it" girl.

Anyways, if you'd like to be friends with me on my new profile, send me an email at irreverency(at)att(dot)net and we'll get all set up. It's my place to bitch about religion, so if you're not into that don't bother, k? if that's you, no worries. i'm not going to think any less of you.

I don't know how active I'll be--depends on how I'm feeling at any given time and the time I have to mess around, but it should be fun.

Also, please send with your request a little note about how I might know you. I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Loud Laughter

I've probably told the first part of this story before on my last blog, but not everyone here read that blog (I think?) and/or doesn't remember it.

So, loud laughter. If you've been to the temple you made that promise to avoid it. I never really knew what this meant--huh? Can't laugh loud? WTF is that all about?


But you know, it's hard not to. Especially when you're in Sunday School and your husband is thumbing through the scriptures for some reason and starts to giggle. I nudged him. I'm easily embarrassed.

"Look," he whispered, offering his scriptures to me. Joshua 5:3

And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.


I don't know why this was so hilarious to us at the time--perhaps the lesson was especially boring that morning, or perhaps it was because Eric and I tend to have our minds in the gutter more often than most (it seems--am I wrong?) Not that our minds were in the gutter, so much, but "hill of the foreskins" just hit our funny bone.

We couldn't shut up. Front row. Everyone's looking at us, and we know it, but "hill of the foreskins" is an immensely funny phrase at the moment and it was going to take us a while to get over our fit.

Granted, not exactly a situation of "loud laughter" but irreverent nonetheless, being that we were in the middle of Gospel Doctrine learning about whatever regurgitated and repetitive nonsense Correlation had decided was doctrine that year.

It was fun. We would turn to that verse often throughout the following years. It wasn't always so funny, but it's a good memory. When we dared tell the story to others (this was in our active days), our recounting was generally met with quizzical but polite smiles and nervous laughter.

Foreskins, ha!

Fast forward about...oh, five years. We believe this took place the last time Eric and I entered a temple. Sacramento, California. I wasn't a big fan of this temple. Small, whatever. And you had to make an appointment. Laaaame. I'm loyal to Oakland. My first temple, where I was married, big and has a cafeteria and clothing rentals. Maybe not as shiny, but gorgeous.


So we took Eric's dad, sister, and BIL with us to the temple to do something or other. Endowment session, I think. We ended up being late, so we called to let them know. Nothing they could do, they said. We had a late appointment.

But wait! You have three priesthood members? Could you pretty plz do some sealing sessions?

We agreed. Once we arrived, we dressed ourselves in the weird getup and somehow ended up in the sealing room with an older man who acted as the sealer. I don't remember much about this day except that Eric broke into a random fit of giggles in the middle of the ordinances.

It was fucking hilarious, y'all. But I didn't think want to let on that I thought so at the time, being concerned about offending his family. Other than his sister being there, his fucking dad was there. He can be rather devout.

Instead of getting chastised, everyone else (except the sealer, and maybe his dad) started laughing too. The sealer didn't know what the hell to do.

People, it was priceless.

That said, on the way home Eric ran a red light at one of those camera intersections and we got BUSTED. I'm sure they think it was some sort of punishment for the irreverent way he acted in the temple. It sucked, for sure. Five hundred dollars hurts.

But the memory of the sealer is still funny. Like Eric said the other day, it could've been funnier if he would've chastised us. Mostly he just looked at us like this O_o and went about his business.

(Slightly off topic) another way to make a temple worker look at you like you've grown two heads: get your new name for your dead person, sit in the chapel, get really REALLY uncomfortable and then go give the name lady your proxy paper and say "I'm not doing this."

I'd like to know how often that happens.

Monday, December 13, 2010

11 Better Places to Spend Your Tithing Money

1. Therapy

2 Charities, duh. But reputable ones, otherwise you're making the same mistake you were when you paid tithing.

3. Do something about that savings account

4. More/better food for your family.

5. Books--fiction or non-fiction, doesn't matter. Just books.

6. School--for yourself and/or your kids

7. Clothes.

8. House--y'know all that crap you need to fix but couldn't afford before. Or, you know, rent and bills. That way you might not need church assistance.

9. That medicine you couldn't afford before.

10. Credit card bill. I love how the church insists on tithing (yes, insists) and then has to tell everyone every fucking year to live within their means and stay out of debt all the while preaching that the wimminz stay in their place at home having too many babies before the family can fucking afford them. Live within your means, indeed.

11. Flush it down the toilet.

Because, really, the church is doing well enough on its own and should probably build its own goddamn buildings and temples. I actually have no problem with members helping to clean the buildings (I really enjoyed it despite my grumblings; it helped me feel a pride for the building and a sense of ownership I hadn't felt before).

Jesus didn't want alms for the temples. He wanted alms for the poor, and as anyone could notice if they thought about it for more than two seconds--fast offerings, those offerings actually meant for the poor--come in second place.

And y'all, the church ain't poor.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Y'know what's annoying?

Going shopping for your mother/MIL and finding a totally hilarious book that you know they'd love EXCEPT IT SAYS "FUCK" TOO MUCH.

Therefore, even if they did like it they'd get this disappointed/weird/this-isn't-worthy look on their faces. EVEN IF THEY DID LIKE IT. They might read it in a distant, dark corner and giggle, but they'd repent later.

Which they would. Eric's stepfather would love it, especially, but he's weird. He's irreverent and mouthy one minute and the next he's being preachy. But I know they'd secretly love it, which is why I want to get it for them anyways, but Eric's pretty sure it's too much. Which it probably is, but for reals.

Dudes. I get that sometimes overuse of the word can be too much and unwelcome, but this shizz is funny.

And these people difficult enough to shop for, anyway.

I'm still tempted.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stupid Church

I know I already posted today and I worked on it and yadayada, but here's something that needs a bit of awareness:

LDS Church Buys Ogden Motel: Closes the Doors

"Residents of the Ogden Lodge were scrambling to find a new place to live Thursday as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finalized the purchase of it and plans to demolish the motel to pave the way for future development...The property is of interest to the church because of its proximity to the Ogden Utah Temple and the church's well-established support of downtown redevelopment efforts," [Scott Trotter, a spokesman for the church] said, adding that plans for the land have not been determined.

Now it seems the seller (not the church) was responsible for giving the residents sufficient time to get the fuck out, but one guy says he only got notice last week. The Church is throwing it's arms in the air "we were assured!"

But does it matter?

The Church doesn't even know what the fuck they're going to do with the property. And it's their property now, not the other dude's. Can't they just say "okokok, you know what, Christ would let you keep your home or at least give you somewhere else to live. At the very least we could wait until next year. It's not like we're hurting financially or plan on doing anything until next summer. Merry Christ-Christmas-Christ."


"My name is Tom Monson. I oversee '13 million' members of the Church. I wax poetic about widows so y'all know how compassionate I am. I call myself a prophet, a seer, and a revelator; even a businessman who represents Christ. As such, I needlessly kick the unfortunate out of their crappy but needed homes right before Christmas for our financial benefit. And I'm a Mormon."

Keep paying your tithing, good members. It's doing awesome things.

Teaching gender tolerance

The other day I had a talk with my daughter, who is seven. She goes through regular periods where she wants a sister so bad and tells me that we need to have a girl so she'll have someone to play barbies with. Usually when this happens, I tell her offhandedly that we're not having more kids and then I give her cousin a call (who also is without sisters) and arrange for her to come over because her best friend is more tomboy than a barbie girl--and she's a member. I don't give a shit that she's a member, but I'm beginning to suspect that perhaps her mother might. I dunno.

Anyway, this last time we had a talk. I sat her down and told her, again, that Mommy and Daddy could have fifty more kids and they could all turn out to be boys. "We just can't control it," I explained.

"Why not?"

Oh god. The timing was all wrong. While I have no problem (theoretically) having "the talk" with my daughter, her timing, whenever we get close like this, is always bad.

I mumbled something about mommies and daddies, not really sure if this was really the time. I'm waiting for the "where do babies come from" line, but maybe that's not how it always goes.

Eventually I went another route. "Sweetheart, if we had a girl it wouldn't likely be what you think it'd be like. Little sisters are extremely annoying. She'd be all up in your stuff. Wearing or eating your makeup. Messing with your toys. She'd be up all night as a baby. In time she'd want to hang out with you and your friends, and you won't want her anywhere near you. Eight years is a big difference. It won't pay off for another twenty years at least.

"Not only that," I added, "but she could end up just like I was and hate barbies."

"You hated barbies?"

"Yeah. It doesn't mean that barbies are bad, I just didn't like dolls. I wanted to play in the mud with the boys. So what if she ended up like me? You still wouldn't have anyone to play barbies with. We can't keep having kids until you get the sister you want. It might not ever happen."

She began to get the point. Still, I didn't like barbies? Wha?

I explained to her again that it didn't mean barbies were bad or good, it's a personality thing. I explained to her that some boys like dolls and barbies. That I know of one personally. She didn't quite know what to think of that, but I insisted on it. "It's not a boy thing or a girl thing, just a people thing. And it's okay."

Then I told her that, especially at her age, it's best to not count on a sister as something to solve her problems but to lean on her cousin or friends. This might prove difficult later (and has proven weird already) with regard to her cousin, being taught already about taking care of babies and cooking and church and specifically "pink" girl things like that, but y'know, whatever. For now, maybe for a while longer. Maybe forever. We'll have to see.

She got it. She's not happy about it, but she got it. And I understand her issues--I had a stepsister I hated (and despise still), another stepsister six years older than me who scared the shit out of me, and now a half-sis who I'm riding a thin line with. I always wanted someone I could talk with. I still do. I've my brother, but he lives 9 hours away now and we just were never close. I wish that wasn't the case, but it is. And that was my other point. Just because you're siblings doesn't mean jack shit.

It's just not all cut and dry.

Now I worry about my boys. The older one tends to hold rather black and white views on gender stereotypes. It might be due in part to us. I've noticed a few things here and there that we've only helped encourage, but it's his personality too. He's very much a boy (if you will). My heart sank a little when he said not to long ago "A boy marrying a boy?!" with a bit of shock and derision. The situation didn't merit a quick response and I just didn't know what to do. I didn't see it coming. I don't know where he's getting this crap from--my SILs house is very much gender-centric, but they don't spend a ton of time there. Maybe it's the social crap he hears on TV. Maybe it's the other boys at school--we're beginning to notice that he wants to play with the "cool" boys, and it scares me a little.

That said, if he's a "boy" like this, I shouldn't want to change him. If he likes stereotypical boy things, then that's fine. I need to remember that--it's part of who he is. I just don't want him to judge others for not being like him or feel the need to seem more "boyish" to fit the fucking mold and fit in. That won't happen in my house, not as much as we can help it.

But don't get me wrong, he is one of the most thoughtful and helpful and amazing kids I've ever been blessed to know. He'll help without being asked. He loves so much and gives the best hugs. He's a cuddler, and so smart. Unbelievably forgiving--to a fault, I worry, but forgiving. He responds best when you have a calm talk with him (most kids probably do, however). He understands. Huge heart. I have a lot to learn from him. As a kid who seems to have a lot of respect from his peers, I do think there's immense potential with him to be an influence. I want him, all of them really, to stand up for others when they're bullied. He's a big kid for his age, a good looking kid. A great kid. He could be an amazing force for good.

Then there's my youngest. He, like Jason, is incredibly social but much softer. I worry about him getting teased for being a little less than the stereotypical boy. He likes to play rough and all that crap, but he's a little less militant about it, if you will. He's in preschool right now, though, and gets along with EVERYONE. He won't let a kid come into the playground to begin school without saying hi. The other parents notice. He's just incredibly friendly. Got a bit of a temper, but so friendly. Just by personality alone, he too could be a force for good.

I worry about Abbie because, while she's such a great kid herself, she's a lot like me. I'm trying to figure out how to help her get past her confidence issues. She, too, could be a great force for good.

So I try to recognize "teaching moments" when it comes to these things, but I don't get to with Jason so much. Abbie and I have talks, and she knows. Joseph, I think, knows--but he's only four. Really, they're all young yet. I really don't care who they are, just as long as they're accepting of others and give out the respect they are deserving of themselves. I will admit, though, that I'm still learning. I come from a long history of this crap, and you know I like it when my man does his manly stuff and I like it when my boy holds a door open for us. I love being taken care of. I love girly things (i just don't have time, access, or knowledge to find the right ones) and all of that. So I struggle to not only realize that I need to learn how to do things, but to ensure my daughter learns it too. That she'll mow the lawn on occasion and my boys will mop the floor and clean the bathroom. She'll know how to change the oil in her car (something I've yet to learn) and they'll vacuum the house.

Deprogramming takes a while, especially when this shit is everywhere. Still, it was good for me to remember that I hardly fit the stereotype as a kid. As I grew older and especially in the church, I began to embrace more my feminine side--and I like it and want to learn more--but still. The church talks about self-reliance but does everything it can to prevent it in its women, if not by not teaching them basic things then by telling them their place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant.

This gender shit pisses me off more and more, like the other day when I went to find a microscope for my daughter. "Science" was listed under the "boys" section. I wanted to scream.

I realize I've some physical hurdles. I'm short and not as strong as Eric, for example. I don't expect to be able to do it all, but basic stuff I should be able to do. The problem is that during my stint in the church I never tried as hard. I did the whole "oh i can't do it" damsel in distress crap. I'm beginning to remember now that I'm stronger than I look, and I'm getting that competitive side of me back. It surprises Eric because he's not used to me having that confidence. He won't ask for my help, or think we need a third person, but I'm insistent now. I'm not a waif.

We all need to ask for help sometimes. Men can't do everything, either. We do complement each other, but it's not just a vagina vs. penis thing. It's personality. The longer Eric and I are out of the church the more we're seeing in each other a different personality emerge. It can be scary, but I think in the end we'll be stronger for it. He saw peeks of my real personality in the beginning anyway. I saw a little of his, but he's largely the same person. Just atheist.

I just want my kids to be strong. And I worry. I don't want to tell my boys to hold back on expressing less-than-masculine qualities just because some asshole might take them to task for it--but it's tempting. While it happens to girls, too, let's face it: it's rougher on the boys as it's more acceptable for a girl to be boyish. So I haven't figured out how I'll deal with that. I think, perhaps, confidence is the answer. But when you're a person still trying to build confidence in yourself, it's hard to know how to instill it in others.

But I'm trying. We'll get there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I want this sign

I saw a sign like it at my uni's bookstore as a christmas decoration, and you can bet your ass I almost bought it. Don't know why I didn't. Probably because it was just for Christmas and green and red doesn't exactly go with my intended kitchen color scheme (red, white, black). But stuff like this will.

Now if I could get the addendum for tomorrow we die.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conservative Faith and the Literate Female

An interesting tidbit I learned a few months ago.

When more opportunities become available outside of child rearing, most women delay motherhood and have fewer children. In fact, birth rates are lowest in countries where income is high and women are provided with education. This information provides a clear direction for public policies attempting to decrease population growth rates: improve conditions for women, including increasing access to education, health care, and the job market, and provide them with the information and tools that allow them to regulate their fertility.*

Makes sense, yeah?

Our planet's population is currently inching (though quickly) toward 7 billion people, and scientists disagree on how much more Earth can take. A U.N. report estimates it is around 10.3 billion--though a theoretical estimate is around 20 billion (briefly, this population of humans, however, would likely require the obliteration of other species as we'd need all the photosynthetic plants we could get--couldn't have competition for resources).

That said, the growth rate is projected to slow down rather considerably by 2050--but this may be an indication we are nearing capacity. I won't go into my amateurish overview of what this may or may not mean, but capacity is capacity. I don't want to be squished--besides not handling crowds well, there are health hazards to be aware of as well that we don't currently deal with. And you know, lack of food and resources because too many of us tend to think we're going to last forever.

But you know, money is powerful. Love of money is the root...ok i'll stop.

So perhaps Gordon B. Hinckley wasn't entirely off base when he said this...shit I can't find the quote (help?). But I do remember him saying, some years ago, something to the effect that in the near future, the population growth will not only steady but decline and we cannot allow that to happen. So, you crazy kids, have more babies. You covenanted, after all.

God will not be mocked.

Anyway, I could go on but this is the basic jist. We're growing too fast and using up far too many nonrenewable resources and those who seem the least willing to accept this are the conservative zionists.

(Hi, Glenn Beck)

While there isn't much concern about the growth rates of developed nations as its the underdeveloped nations that struggle hard with their growth rates re: their quality of life (you know, the ones we're preaching abstinence to), I can't help but think of the LDS and other religious groups such as the Quiverfull Movement who are still working hard on multiplying and replenishing the Earth. So, y'know, keep those girls in the kitchen. Keep building huge families. Education is for teh men.

I realize this is hardly the only reason (if one at all) for the patriarchy, and I'm hardly advocating anything by way of controlling family sizes--but the inherent control factor regarding women concerns me greatly. It's like a few of my commenters said: girls should be given choices. Real ones. Not "You have free-agency ladies, but if you don't do what we tell you to God will smite thee and you'll be unhappy forever for not fulfilling your divine role!" And I wonder now, too, if this education thing is part of keeping the rebellious in the house.

Oh god! If they go to school they'll likely stop having so many goddamn kids! Quick! To the batcave!

SO this crap of barefoot and pregnant, keeping teh house clean and dinners prepared and the kids well-groomed and all that other crap is preached day in, day out. All this bullshit about gender roles has been magnified over the past few years. Women who aren't happy at home stay home because that's "their place." They have no choice, not if they value their eternal souls. And it's not just the Mormons who teach this.

I mean, damn. We're multiplying and replenishing a little too well. They have to know that. Give the girls a break.

What do you think?

*Biology: Science for Life With Physiology. 3rd Ed. p. 355

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just because.

Because I'm doing fine--even good--all fucking day and then WHAM, one little comment or one little whatever throws me back down a hole black enough to scare me. And words elude me far more than I can give justice to in order to explain.

So. This is funny. 

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas
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Wrestling with school. Again.

Few things these days make me angrier than the fact that I'm 29 and haven't finished school, that I'll be 35 when I'm done if the planets align and I don't have to take a break here and there. That many who I run into and am acquainted with, non-members, are those who have either finished school or who are, you know, 21 and almost done. And there are worrisome issues after that. How hard I have to fight to do it. I can blame some of it on the church, but in the end the church was the perfect scapegoat. It gave me the excuse I was looking for. But it also encouraged me to give up my dreams. It encouraged me to rely on others (read: men), just as I'd always been encouraged to do--if not men, then others. To allow my fears to get the better of me because I'd never been allowed to stand up to them before.

Do y'all have ANY IDEA how terrified I am? Any idea? Two days ago I was looking up the phone number so I could call the university to tell them I couldn't do it. After all the bullshit I've fought past, all it took was one little phone call to the university day care program and the simple comment "There's really a slim to no chance you'll get your son in, so don't get your hopes up. We don't have much if any turnover this time of year."


You have to understand, and you'll likely remember if you've been here a while, even this past semester where I took ONE CLASS at my local community college I had to fight like hell just to be able to take just ONE CLASS. And to do that, I had to rely on the amazing help of my amazing step-MIL who picked up my kids once a week and then one other day when I had to help out in Joseph's class because putting the older two in the after-school program for a grand total of 45 minutes for $12 is ridiculous. I understand I could leave them there longer, but there's no reason for that. I would have, though, if I had to. If she wasn't so willing.

Now I feel bad.

I have a super-guilt complex when it comes to my kids, even though I told myself since high school that I would not repeat what my mom did: give herself entirely for my brother and I. I know this sounds noble, but she's always been so unhappy and without anything else to turn to when we were gone. It made her hold onto us that much harder because she didn't know what to do with herself when we weren't there. While it is certainly attributed to our own personalities, it didn't help us become independent in the least respect. I'm still struggling.

I still don't know if this is church-related or what. I really don't.

But next semester, in order for me to attend my classes, I very well may have to call on some more help. Three days a week. Step-MIL home-schools, as does MLDSFDTS. SMIL said she could watch Joseph for me on Fridays. My cousin volunteered quite freely to help, but she's got some things to work out for herself and may not always be available. I'm sure I could work something out, but y'all, it exhausts me to think of doing this again. I'm almost broken.

And neither Eric or I enjoy asking for help of this caliber. It's a lot to ask, and it requires a lot of trust on my part.

And it makes me so fucking angry. I'm angry because Eric didn't need to worry about this shit. He had his own things to worry about, granted, but he didn't have to worry about scheduling around me or the kids. At all. And in that way I feel terribly alone. Eric is willing to do what he can, and without his support I wouldn't even be trying, but even then: alone.

I don't know if I can do this. I'm pretty determined, but there's still a chance I'll opt to wait out until Joseph is in the first grade and I at least don't have to worry about this daycare stuff. I hate the idea of dropping him off at my cousin's house--he doesn't really know her (i can fix that somewhat) and I don't know how much fun he'd have there. I hate the idea of what my schedule will be like three-days-a-fucking-week. An hour there, four hours in class, race home to pick them up, ten minutes later pick up Joe at his preschool here. I also have my online class to worry about.

Y'all, I don't handle stress well. I really don't. Sometimes I do, but there are days...and that makes me question this entire thing. But I also think about what going will mean. And if I can't teach for whatever reason, there are other options. When I remember why I'm going, what it will do for me and my family, I've never been more determined.

The church took this away from me. Not directly, but indirectly. And I'm pissed. It didn't care about me enough to encourage this good thing. It told me to stay home, barefoot and pregnant all the time. It told me to multiply and replenish the fucking earth all on my own. It told me to submit (sorry, "hearken") to my husband. It told me that I could work only if I fucking had to, but even then that work such as that of a secretary was all I should do. Only single women in the early twenties who have "no opportunity" to marry a man are allowed to finish college. And I had the opportunity. Thank God I married a good man. I swear I'd be divorced by now if I hadn't.

And then what.

And not only that, but this whole fucking bipolar thing. It makes these things 100x harder. And while I'm fairly certain it would've reared its ugly head at some point anyway, my "heeding" the church's ugly teachings triggered it earlier than it probably would have otherwise.

This brings me to sobbing tears every day lately. The kids don't remember Eric being gone all the time, going to school. Abbie remembers a little, but it's like her surgeries and doctors appointments: she sees the scars and remembers some of the invasive procedures and yearly ultrasounds, but they're a forgone memory. She was young. They're done. They'll remember me being gone. They don't quite understand it. And I simply don't feel like a "good mom" anyway--mostly because now I don't know what the fuck to do. I've nothing to fall back on. Though I've known life sans The Church since I grew up without it, that's hardly a mold I want to use. I tell others my mom did the best she can, but while she didn't beat me and abuse me like her own parents did, I took and still take my own brunt. Then I have the genes from my father that freak me the fuck out. I'm fighting my genes, people. It's hard to convince myself I don't have to be them, that I can choose their best traits. But even then, their best traits simply aren't mine. I'm a fighter, but I can only do so much.

I do know I bust my ass for them as best I can, and I'm going to school for them as much as I am for me. But my best and your best aren't necessarily the same.

I want to be an example to my daughter--my sons too, but mostly my daughter.

I also know that if I thought this would be the worst thing for them, I wouldn't do it. But I also know that if I didn't do it, my anger would simply grow and my depression and sense of self-worth worsen. I'd be my mom. I can't fucking have that. My kids don't deserve that.

And now that I think of it, perhaps I AM doing what my mom did to us: making life too goddamn easy. They need to suck it up sometimes.

So, I'm going. I just hope it works out in the end. This is one area where my ten years of church still very much has a hold on me, and it pisses me off. So much.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Of music and choirs

(I hope this all makes sense)

Sometimes I have a thought that begins with "If I went to church, I'd..."

And then it stops. Because I wouldn't.

These thoughts happen when I think of the one church I've been to that I liked. You know, comparatively. It happens when I watch Christmas shows, like this morning with Home Alone, that features statuesque Catholic churches, featuring soft but powerful choirs, It happens when I hear "O Little Town of Bethlehem" sung in just the right way (the LDS Hymns way, btw)

It happens sometimes, but in the end, the thought comes to a halt. Because I wouldn't. I don't. I can't.

Sometimes I think about what I'd do if I believed, but I don't believe enough. Or at all. And sometimes I wish I did, but even if I did I'm not sure the world would have a place for me. Perhaps a group of people would be my support but outside I'd still be shunned.

It happens to a lot of people. But the fear of being shunned is not why I don't nurture what sliver of belief may be inside me. I've spent my entire life being different in some way, of not belonging. If I try to belong it is short-lived. In the end, that is not who I want to be. Catch-22, I suppose.

I know it was Home Alone but the choir was still amazing. I still love Christmas songs. I know and don't disrespect those who choose to use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus--I know that is part of it. I love some of those songs, if not for nostalgia than for the hope of what inherent potential is present in beginnings.

Just yesterday a friend of mine on FB asked for some Christmas song recommendations, and one of my absolute favorites is InsideOut's "Silent Night" (you can find it on iTunes by searching for "InsideOut Reverence")--but it isn't just that song. The entire "Reverence" album, with one or two exceptions, is amazing. One of those songs, "Heaven's Gift (Silence)," is the song Eric and I listened to on the way to the temple to be married--even though now listening to it reminds me it is of being unworthy, I don't know. I can't let it go. It's the music. And I'm a lyrics girl.

Then there is, of course, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Some love the Southern Baptist choirs--I prefer something quiet. At least I do today. Tomorrow may be different. Today I need to be carried away so  my thoughts become nothing.

So seeing, hearing that absolutely stunning choir in that stunning church--I wanted to be there. I wanted that hope, even if being there didn't make that hope any more able to convert to reality. Hope is powerful. It saves lives.

The fact that there are churches out there, open for anyone who feels a need--whatever need--to come meditate, is something to admire, to aspire to. I've felt this need often but either cannot or do not seek it actively.

Sometimes I just want to feel small, a humbling that transcends unworthiness--a feeling I have felt far too often lately (and not in a spiritual sense, to any faithful lurkers).

Sometimes I want to know I'm ultimately not alone, that I'm in someone else's hands. Being a grown up is so much better to me than being a child, but sometimes I want to be a child. Sometimes the burden is too much. Sometimes I just need to feel as if someone is there, wherever. Even if just for the briefest moment before I realize that there's probably not. Even an abandonment of any knowledge--just to have somewhere to rest my burden. I have none here. I am unable to unburden myself anymore. I am trapped.

I'm not in someone else's hands. I am not a child. This is not a bad thing--I've had great need to grow up for such a long time. To find my own strength. I've spent my entire life relying on the strength of others. But perhaps that's not good, either. And, upon thought, perhaps I'm too strong for myself in some ways. After all, I don't talk. But I'll be there for anyone else because I do feel unworthy to ask for anyone else's touch, for their ear.

So I watched that scene, a place where few people went to find mercy and forgiveness, and wanted to be there. Makes me very much want to visit our local parish, even though I know enough about the Catholic church, about most of religion in general, to vote with my feet. But there are times we love and grant chances even when we shouldn't. And I don't know why.

Still. Maybe it's the history. Maybe it's the greatness. The idealism of God. The suspension of knowledge. If nothing else, I've learned that knowledge, while powerful, is heavy. And I'm as of yet not quite strong enough.

Maybe it was just the idea of empty silence where nobody bothers me.

And, maybe, when one suspends knowledge, beauty can be magnified. It's not required, but it helps. I see too much ugliness these days. I could use a little beauty.

I don't quite know how to wrap my head around that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Contacting Spirits

When I was in the third grade, a kid brought his Oujia board to school. A few of us joined him in a hidden corner during recess. It was cool. And creepy.

When I had a chance to ask it a question, I asked "Will I ever be rich?"



My dad lost it when I told him about it later that night. He didn't think much of me conversing with the devil. I really, really scared him.

Anyway, I pretty much stayed away from that stuff afterward. During our 6th grade week-long field trip the girls in my cabin (not including one unbelievably religious girl) played a game of "light as a feather." I didn't play because they weren't really my friends and the game freaked me out a little bit. Maybe in part because the way my dad reacted a few years before, and part because I was afraid it would work. I still can't bring myself to do that "Bloody Mary" thing (is that right? something like that). I should probably do it just to get it out of my system, prove to myself it's not for real. I'm pretty superstitious, though. I like believing in the supernatural stuff. It's fun.


Yesterday my kids pulled out our small card tables and covered them with their blankets. This morning I walk in to Jason's complaints that Abbie was contacting spirits (via her snow globe).

"They're not real!" he said.

"Leave her alone," we told him. "She's fine."


That was weird. Still, I wondered how I'd react if I discovered one day she was doing some of dat witchcraft on a more...intense level. I had a friend who, prior to joining the church, engaged in that stuff and wouldn't speak of it. It freaked her out.

Yeah, I believe in that stuff. Not on a general level, but I tend to believe something odd is going on (but not without the realization that there is probably-maybe another explanation?)

So I dunno.

Still, my non-reaction was kinda cool. Yet, before, I would've felt compelled to respond (because y'know, as a god-fearing girl/parent i have to), but I never knew how to explain it without sounding like an idiot. Like I was encouraging my kids to believe in ridiculous things. Like they were going to look at me like this: O_o?

Projection, much?

Kind of like how I could never quite relate the story of Joseph Smith or Moroni or whatever. It just...sounded ridiculous.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


You know those signs churches have outside their buildings? You know, the ones with the clever and not-so-clever sayings? I actually think some of them are cute. Not all, of course, but some. Perhaps even most. My favorite one ever is in the picture below. Haha.

The churches around here aren't nearly as fun, but oh well. They don't often preach about how I'm going to hell, so I'll take it.

Anyway. I saw one today on the way to pick up my son that was kinda weird.

No Christ, No Christmas
Know Christ, Know Christmas.

Ugh. Seriously, WTF.

That's not how it goes, anyway.

My sister

I was 12 1/2 when she was born.

My mom and I came up with reasons they shouldn't have had kids. It wouldn't be fair to the child. It wouldn't be fair to my brother and I, even our stepsister. Little did I know but would discover later that my mom wanted to have a child with my stepdad.


My stepmom and I, only fifteen years apart, did not get along at first. At all. My mom did not and does not help.

But that's a post all of its own.

Let me just say that my stepmama and I are good friends now and she doesn't preach to me at all. My dad only ever mentions anything if I bring up religion first, like the time I told him we were leaving the church. Oh how happy he was, but he didn't quite get the whole story.

Dad--I don't like yours either.

I couldn't bring myself to say that, though. It's unnecessary given all the bullshit he has to deal with (his stepdaughter--let's just say "meth addict" "mother of three babies to three daddies" "abandoned her first two by moving halfway across the country to be with a new boyfriend" "had the good sense to at least adopt out her third" "smuggled in her unbelievably abusive last boyfriend from mexico so he could beat the shit out of her and her children again," etc. I have no clean or good words for her--to hell with compassion, it doesn't work on a sociopath). He and my stepmama have been granted full custody of their very small grandchildren. My dad is of not-so-good health and struggles with high anxiety (if not worse) as I do.

His religion gives him a semblance of comfort I will not take away, and as long as he's cool with me I'm cool with him--though omg "lisa, what is this 'agnostic' thing on your blog?" were uttered by them both.


Do I digress? I digress.

They both had an incredibly difficult time with my conversion to the LDS church--pamphlets and shit everywhere. But they were still pretty quiet, except for the time my father finally couldn't take it anymore and hissed to me over the phone "Where are the golden plates now, Lisa?"

Eric told me later to ask him where the...shit what was it. Oh well. Point: there's suspicious crap everywhere. Ark of the Covenant? I dunno. I'm a bit rusty.

And the time I married Eric. My dad wanted to come to the temple, and as per the story, my stepmom convinced him not to. I'm both still saddened by this and a little angry, but I understand it too. Someday I hope to rectify this to the extent we are able.

But besides the religious decorations that litter their walls and the insistence on listening to Christian radio and all that stuff, they're quiet. I cringe but respect that--but it's hard to when my sister comes to me with these stories of what she has to deal with. She's finished, too. Eric says I need to watch my step. She's only 16. But I'm her sister. Where's the line? I only want to give her support. To tell her she's not laden with sin as they all tell her she is. To tell her nothing's wrong with her simply because prayer, much as she's tried, hasn't worked. To be the only one to tell her that it's okay that she either doesn't want to or can't or finds speaking in tongues creepy. That she's not a slut because she slept with someone. But she does need to come to her own conclusions. I just want to be the person in her life that tells her she's a good person and a human being, that it's okay. That I still love her. That she can still be successful. To trust herself. To give her information, too. And perhaps that's where I cross the line.

The thing is, the harder they push the further she goes away. She was always a great girl, "obedient" if you will. Respectful. I set the bar, and that sucks. Nobody should be put up to someone else's bar. But more and more she's rebelling. Inside she's one of the best people, but they're stifling that by insisting and pushing and shoving and figuring that berating her is the best way to go--and I get that some of it is just getting rid of their own sadness and fear and rage, but it's not working. They get counseling for the grandkids, but I don't know that they have it for themselves. For my sister. So it pisses me off, much as I can understand where they come from. But understanding isn't condoning.

It's hard because they're under so much stress. But she's suffering for it, too.

So it's so hard to not cross whatever line Eric sees. She's being taught the Earth is 6000 years old and she suspects it's bullshit. She wants to know about evolution but is largely kept from learning about it.

This, they believe, will save them all.

She's interested in biology, and she and I both wanted her to come to my class with me a few times and each time she wasn't able to make it. I've my suspicions. They'd rather send her to a 12 week photography program in Montana. They're scared, but at the expense of her future. She has a fire, but it's hardly kindled.

I remember rather well what it's like to be sixteen. It's only been slightly over a decade. I think that gives me somewhat an advantage in understanding where she's coming from, that some of the things she says will change given time. She's still rather immature, but that's the age. That's the inexperience. I don't fault her for it. I give her my opinion on occasion. I don't condone everything she says (some of the stuff she says scares the shit out of me--things not every teenage girl says), but I love her despite. And she knows that. She knows she can tell me anything. She knows I won't always agree. She knows I love her mom and our dad and that I try to help her see their side of things. She spends the weekend at our home when things are too much. She knows we'll come get her at the drop of a hat.

It's been difficult, though. I feel as if my closeness with her has come at a price of my closeness with her mom. It's a rough place to be when I want to give her a sanctuary both in my home and in my heart but am asked by our parents to be a good example and to steer her right. I don't know that they completely understand that their right isn't necessarily my right. I haven't yet suggested that her rather mild rebellion is symptomatic of the shit she has to endure at home, if not directly than as a consequence of her fucked up other half-sister and the addition of her dysfunctional but lovely niece and nephew in the home. She tries so hard.

I understand her parents' dilemma. I do. But she suffers too.

And if they're not careful, she won't fulfill her great potential. And all of this bullshit will happen again and again.

In fact, all my sis wants for Christmas are things that she can use after she moves out of the house (the minute she turns 18, she says). Today I looked around for things and found a great deal on a coffee maker--I texted her mama to make sure this wouldn't be a duplicate.

"What're you getting for [her]," I asked. "I don't want to duplicate."

"You mean you're getting her a muzzle too?"

I get it. The girl has a mouth on her, whatever. All normal kids do and I get her mom's exasperation. My daughter is pushing 8 and god help me when she turns 16. I try to tell my sister to be nice so coming over to my house won't be an ordeal, but she's tired and can't help but fight back. It's the only way she knows how to do it.

"Lol," I replied. "I just found this great deal on a coffee maker. Good?"

I wandered around Target for a good ten minutes longer before I decided to bail, figuring I could return it (or keep it for when ours dies--this one is programmable, after all!).  At checkout, I receive a phone call. I checked the voice mail on my way to the car.

"Is this for your sister when she moves out, because really I'd rather get her a muzzle for her mouth."

It sounded beyond annoyed. Angry. Tired.

I don't know.

Being a 29 year old sister of a 16 year old girl with too much shit on her shoulders is a rough place to be in. Especially when I know her parents have exponentially too much shit on their own shoulders (i don't know how they do it--I'm not entirely convinced they are) and need support, too (my stepmom has called me multiple times in the past in tears). Especially when her mom and I have a really sketchy past--and I really would rather not go back there. I love them both. I don't judge either of them. I can only imagine what their lives must be like due to the severe selfishness her older, tweaked out daughter.

I want to be there for all of them, but I'm not sure anyone is there for my sister. Not enough.

More and more I feel as if I'm being kept from her, and that pisses me off and scares me. A lot.

I just don't know what to do.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Tis the *(#*@! season

Made me think of this Salon article. Salon! I dunno how I feel about the billboard because I really hate all these fucking billboards whatever religious/irreligious POV they preach, but good grief.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call for Help: Creating Avid Readers

My students are bright and inquisitive about the things that interest them. Many of them come from lower-income neighborhoods. They have been told that their voices and opinions don't always count because they don't have lots of money, or they don't speak English fluently. But they have a fire in them to be heard, and they have a curiosity about the world. They are just now learning how valued and important they are, that their choices matter, that they have a right to know things about their world. - Ms. B, Creating Avid Readers

You may remember some months ago when I plugged a project of a long-time friend of mine, a teacher down in Austin, Texas. After the success of said project (asking for help in acquiring a variety of fiction books to appeal to her specific student demographic), she's now hoping for help in acquiring a variety of non-fiction books for her students.

And today is her birthday.

Anyway, if you have the extra cash and willingness (these kids need support), please visit her project page at and donate whatever you can to help. One dollar, five dollars--whatever you can. The site makes payment really easy, and you don't have to make an account to do so.

Speaking as the wife of a teacher and friend of many teachers, our educators severely lack support, financially and otherwise. Consider making this your monthly charitable action, part of your Christmas giving. I know many ask for money (god do I know--daily emails) and that it can be overwhelming especially during this time of year, but check it out. Discovering a love for books, discovering knowledge, can not only change the life of a child but of those who the child comes in contact with as they go through their lives. It's a well-known saying, but it doesn't mean it isn't true: knowledge is power.

Thanks so much  <3

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Last Straw

Again, I sat in the chapel with the rest of the youth group at the age of 13 or 14-years-old. This night would prove to be the end of the road for me.

My young, handsome, energetic pastor whom everyone loved stood at the front. My peers and I waited in the front few rows of the pews, listening as he explained that night's particular activity. It went like this:

Two of our peers had been pre-chosen to be the angels of death. How they were chosen still fascinates and confuses me--if I allow my thoughts to dwell here, it angers me. Much about this night does.

Two rooms awaited us in the back of the chapel where the pastors' offices were located. One, representative of Heaven. Another, representative of Hell.

The two angels of death would come and take us randomly (like death often does, natch) and escort us to our proper destination.

I wasn't taken right away, but eventually those spared the pains of this ridiculous exercise silently stood before me with outstretched hands. I stood and followed them.

Led into the back hallway, the "angels" opened a door and invited me inside. I entered and found it to be akin to a janitor's closet--for all I know that's exactly what it was. It was hot and stuffy, small, and pitch black.

I was in Hell.

The realization struck me hard. Was it random? I hardly believed that.

Did the angels not like me?

What the fuck did I do?

As a girl who had felt the cruel impact of not belonging with a group of people who, by all accounts, should've been nicer, this was the harsh rub of salt to the wound.

I still don't know why I was placed here, or if it was intentional. I seem to remember another boy in the closet with me as I unsuccessfully fought like hell to hold back my tears and the embarrassment of muffled sobs that accompanied them. This wasn't about being put in hell so much, but of a complete and direct rejection of me as a person. That they thought so little of me as to find no problem damning me.

(It strikes me as something my 16-year-old sister probably feels often now, especially when her pastor unnecessarily took her aside to inform her she had kept her under the baptismal water just a little bit longer as to wash away her "extra sin" and continually berate her for things most teenagers do--effectively pushing her further away)

I don't remember anyone else joining us in Hell except for the one other person, and unfortunately even he remains nameless and faceless in my memory. Few, if any, words were exchanged between us.

Eventually the closet door opened and the two of us were invited to leave Hell. The object lesson was over. "Come to Heaven," they said.

The light in Heaven blinded our eyes as they had since adjusted to the darkness that was Hell. The room per my memory was as large as it was bright, probably a conference room. And rather empty. And a hell (ha!) of a lot more temperate.

"Have some cookies," they said. I wordlessly took one, hoping nobody would say anything to me. Hoping that the redness and puffiness that surely had to betray my resolve to be steeled and resolute was absent. Anger filled me here as much as did the stabbing pain of rejection. I also found the odd logic of the entire event somewhat amusing--did this mean we'd have a chance to enter heaven after a sufficient time in Hell? Of course it didn't. Not per their official doctrine.

Thankfully everyone left me alone. I didn't belong here. They knew it, I knew it. My years of attending had proven that much. And after this shit I was finished subjecting myself to the abuse.

But perhaps I was too hasty. I was eventually invited into Heaven, and there were cookies.

Wasn't that enough?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Salvation NOW!

I was eleven years old, brand new in the youth group program of my father's Assembly of God church. Our pastor, different from the previous one I've described, took us to the local Catholic cemetery, easily the oldest cemetery in our small town, if not in the vicinity. Full of history. I always wondered, if I was still enough, if I could feel the ghosts of those who had been lain to rest.

But there would be no such reverence this afternoon.

I stood there with my peers on the grass, listening to our pastor's strong and passionate admonishments that went something like this:

"I can't guarantee you that you'll wake up tomorrow. You can't guarantee me that the sun will rise in the morning, that the Earth will still be here. There is no guarantee. You don't know when you will die. If you don't accept Christ now, you will end up in hellfire--period. You cannot wait until the last minute because you may not know when the last minute is. You may not wake up tomorrow. You must accept Christ. Now."

Fear, as you may have noticed by now, is the primary tool in the Assembly of God arsenal. The use of fear is hardly exclusive to Mormonism, but it is certainly a different brand. This is a more violent, in-your-face fear mongering. It is without apology. It is hardly denied even by those who commit it. It is born of fear and perpetuated out of fear. It is a snake that you will pick up to let it bite you because you are unworthy and deserve ever more pain for Christ. You will ask to be bitten and stomped and crucified for and out of your own righteous guilt that, if sincere, will never be satiated.

This particular graveside example is relatively mild, but it remains in my memory.

Eleven-years-old and being told to accept Christ or be consigned to Satan's terrifying grasp to endure an eternity of fire, torture, and misery.

Because I was a sinner.

No matter how hard I tried, how good I was in my heart and in action, I was a sinner.

An eleven. year. old. sinner.

Who needed to be saved.

Have I ever explained to anyone just how hard I tried throughout my lifetime to be good? I haven't because I can't put it into satisfactory words. And it wouldn't matter, because it wasn't ever enough. It just didn't fucking matter because in the end someone would come up to me, for reals, to tell me nothing I ever did would ever be enough. It didn't matter what church I belonged to--Protestant, LDS, didn't matter. The Mormons straight up tell you to aim for perfection even though you'll never get there. To even suggest such a thing in my father's church could be considered blasphemy. Only Christ was and is ever perfect.

Assembly of God is bloody. But it's supposed to be. Therein is humility.

I would never be enough.

Praise Jesus.

I wasn't sure at this moment of my first real call to salvation if I'd been saved. I hadn't said "the prayer" yet--the one where you verbally "accept" Christ as your savior and call yourself an unworthy insect under his feet. But I believed in him. I accepted the story. I wasn't fighting it.

Apparently that wasn't enough.

Some people would tell me that's the point. 

I don't know. It's all bullshit. A part of me knew it, I'm certain, beginning that very day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memories: Assembly of God

The following describes one of three major events that led to my rejection of organized religion the minute I hit high school. Other factors were involved, but this--yeah.

I was in junior high, seventh or eighth grade, and sitting in the chapel of my father's Assembly of God church for youth group. Other kids surrounded me, kids I neither knew nor liked and who neither knew nor cared for me. But I was there because it was the week I was staying with my dad and, for some reason, I had agreed to this shit.

My youth group pastor was a young, energetic man, probably in his mid-twenties. His wife was super nice, a woman with big hair, a lot of makeup, and a Louisiana accent I adored. He stood at the front of the chapel and asked us all a question.

"If God offered to tell you where you'd end up after death--Heaven or Hell--would you want to know? Raise your hand."

Of course we all raised our hands.

"If God told you you were going to Hell, would you try your best to go to Heaven instead?"

Uhm, yeah I would. Apparently--and not surprisingly--everyone else felt the same way.

"You can't do that!" he said. "God told you you're going to hell, you're going to hell. There is nothing you can do. Now, who would still try to get into heaven anyways?"

What the fuck is this?! I wondered.

Yet my peers and I insisted, all raising our hands.

Again, he told us we were stupid for even trying because God said it wouldn't happen. Who are we to challenge God?!

So again he asked. And again we all raised our hands except for one kid. He was done with this shit. If he was going to hell, he was going to hell. Fuck it. I couldn't help but admire him for this and also couldn't help but think that it would make life a bit nicer if I could just enjoy it without worrying about the dangling, annoying carrot that was heaven.

Alas, he continued.

"What if God told you you were going to heaven?"


Friday, November 26, 2010

Agnostic Christmas

Before we officially-unofficially left the church, there was one thing I had grown to agree with the Jehovah's Witnesses on. To quote a friend of Eric's,

"If you teach your children about Santa and they find out that's a lie, then how can you trust that they'll believe you about God?"

I always thought he had a point, both before and after he said it. It had been on my mind. It made sense. But I couldn't teach my kids that Santa wasn't real--could you imagine? I wasn't worried about them but about them spouting off to their friends. Never mind the reactions from friends and family whom I divulged my hesitancies to.

God forbid I didn't teach my kids about Santa!

How dare I even suggest taking such a fundamental childhood experience away!

All of these reactions from fellow Christians.

I'm sure many of you fall or fell into this category and I don't want to judge you. I'm not. It just strikes me as a little odd. Especially when it comes from the camp of "Keep Christ in Christmas." Especially when it comes from a people who do understand the history of where Christmas comes from--why it's not held on or near Christ's supposed birthday. A people who get all up in arms over "Happy Holidays" when it's not necessarily a Christian time of year.

Knock, knock. Hello?

I didn't get it, but I couldn't bring myself to actively teach my kids about Santa, and Eric was on board with me. Our kids learned about Santa through other family and television shows, society at large. So you can imagine I got questions, at least from my oldest (who is rather observant), at a young age.

"Is Santa real?" she'd ask.

"What do you think?"

But now that we're not believers, it doesn't bother me as much. There's still a part of me that doesn't enjoy lying to my kids. It's interesting how things change once you have your own sometimes, in various ways. I was taught about Santa, learned all on my own that he was a hoax. It didn't bother me at all--in fact, probably like many of you, I reveled in knowing when my siblings did not. I didn't make the connection between Santa and God. We tend to think kids have a greater propensity for such conclusions than they do, much like we worry about them seeing or hearing things on a movie that, up to a certain age, goes right over their heads.

So why am I having a hard time with my own kids, especially now? Abbie is so close to figuring it out, she's such a smart kid. I want so badly to tell her, but I'm encouraging her to rely on her own logic. So far she's finding ways for Santa to be possible, but it won't be much longer. I look forward to that day, really, just to congratulate her and include her in the behind-the-scenes action. But perhaps I won't make it and I'll be the one to tell her. I don't know. I hope for the former so, so much.

Perhaps Santa will be a good lesson they can remember years from now if they ever decide to be interested in the church.

If something doesn't seem quite right and you have to reach and stretch to make it rational and probable, something ain't right.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red is bad, esp on Christ

Once upon a time some years ago, probably nine or so, I sat in my institute class like a good girl and listened to the lesson. Our instructor presented to us the picture of Christ at the door.

"What sorts of symbolic things do you see here?"

"There's no doorknob!" one particularly astute student said as if he, or anyone else in the room, had never seen the fucking picture before let alone was ever involved in a discussion about it. A million times over.

"That's right, what do you think that means?"

Blahblahblah. I raised my hand. "Christ is wearing red, symbolic of power."

His face sobered. "Now let's be careful with that, Lisa."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just in time for Christmas.

I'm cat sitting for my MIL this week and decided during my last check-in with him to peruse through their deseret catalog for giggles. Ugh.

Didja know how AWESOME Tom Monson is? If not, someone wrote all about it. Snore. These biographies are probably the worst ever. Tell me Tommy smoked a joint at the age of 16 and I might reconsider my stance, though chances are he told on some kid for smoking and called him to repentance or some bullshit like that. SEW PURE AND RITECHOUS he was made bishop at 22!

Did you know that? because I think everyone on the fucking planet knows that by now. Maybe Tom hasn't had enough praise for such an amazing accomplishment. Let's all pat him on the head until he feels sufficiently acknowledged.

Not fair? Maybe. I just don't understand why this is such a big thing. Who in their right mind wants to be bishop at 22? Y'all, I don't know of many men that age in the church who've finished school at this point.

But what is school, yeah?

Then there's a book out there called "The Time Starved Family"

As a mother of seven children, DeAnne Flynn has experienced firsthand the challenge of staying balanced in a world where jam-packed calendars have taken a huge toll on family time. The sixteen practical ideas in this book will help families break out of the hectic, overscheduled, underconnected way of life that has become the norm for both parents and children. Her sensible and realistic approach will help relieve anxiety, encourage self-reliance in kids, and restore order and simplicity to daily family life. Isn’t it time to refocus your energy on the best choices for your family?

DeAnne, if I may call you that, I could've written a pass-along card on this shizz. Sixteen practical ideas to save time and use what you have more wisely? I have just one:

Get yo ass out the church. 


How would you play with your figure set? Perhaps the missionaries, starved of human affection...well. When there's no Barbie, Ken will do. I've yet to find a man who doesn't look super hot in a suit. 

Unfortunately, I can't find any sister missionary action figures. Lame.

Then there's this beauty: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life

Yeah, pretty much. Although I'd change this title to "Ask some questions, change your life." Change Your Questions sounds pretty tricksy to me, like another strategy missionaries would use.

Wait. They already do.

Investigator: "I asked God if the Book of Mammon Mormon was true, but I didn't get an answer."

Missionary: "Did you ask right?"

Investigator: "Huh?"

But seriously, some examples from the book:

  • What is on my premortal list of “Things to Do While on Earth?” (Uhm...?)
  • What is the one question I most need to have answered from the scriptures today? (Horses in ancient America, fer realz?)
  • How can I be more of my true self at the end of this experience? (GTFO, that's how)
  • Whose agenda is this supporting? (duh, the liberal/gay agenda)

The Messiah Series.

I actually like these sorts of books. I'm interested in scholarly insights into the life of Christ, and these books look respectable and "thorough" enough for LDS standards (I did enjoy Jesus the Christ--one of few times I didn't feel spoken down to)--but then I saw the author. Bruce R. McConkie.

LDS interpretations of Christ's life are bad enough, but dudes.

Then there are all these books and whatnot about how awesome women are--I'll say it again: If you find yourselves having to convince the women of your church that they are teh awesome, something is wrong.

And to end along the same fucked up vein as my last point: I want to cry when I see a copy of "Emma Smith: My Story"

Because it's not her story. It's just not.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Default Worship

A common meme I've heard often lately is that those who do not believe in god must worship something. You know, stuff like mammon, money, cars, status, etc. Satan.

But srsly, I must be doing something wrong because I'm at a loss. I need something to worship, y'all.

Well. Maybe lately it's Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Natalie Dormer.

Jesus. I'm gonna be so sad when Anne is beheaded. Henry was cuter when he was all punch-drunk over Anne (I know! I should be PISSED for Catherine, what an amazing lady and what a fucker Henry was--but he still loved her. You could tell. In his weird, narcissistic kingly way), and I can't...ugh. Anyways. Maybe it's more Anne. I wanted to kill Henry when--

Well. Watch the show. And don't judge! My love for the couple is irrational and goes completely against my values--

--Wait. Do I have values anymore?

Anyway, what has filled your void as far as worshiping goes? Are you power-hungry? Bow to the coffee gods? Football? I think my husband worships his fish. Damn fish. Should've known better than to get that initial "family" tank. Family tank, indeed!

What else is there. Oh who the fuck knows. Apparently humans just worship. They just do.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cookies and Dinners

I've always felt like I was a square peg forcing itself into a round hole. But to be fair, I've felt this way both in and out of the church. Very much so within, though. And since this blog deals mostly with religion:

The other day, Kiley over at We Were Going to Be Queens sought for some help regarding how to comfort suffering friends from a distance since she no longer found "I'm praying for you" to be neither honest nor sufficient.

Totally get it. Been on my mind as well.

One of my suggestions? Give her a gift certificate for a restaurant so they don't have to worry about dinner one night.

Kiley was really gracious, noting that she felt it was a good idea but also reminded me how Mormony this sounded. Dinners solve everything! So I laughed with both embarrassment and frustration that this had stayed with me--also that I still feel it's a good idea when necessary. It is nice to not have to worry about that when times are tough.

But gawwwwwwwwwd.

And you know, they are nice. I guess. I always hated bringing them because what if the receiver doesn't like what I make? And I always hated receiving them because what if I hate it? I'm a terrible actress and hardly a gracious one, wearing damn near everything on my sleeve. And let's not forget the annoyances of getting your tupperware back or returning them. So I never asked and never received unless I had just given birth and they were just given.

That was kind of our mode d'emploi with anything regarding our "need" for service. We felt we needed to balance out the people who took full advantage--you know "Hi, I know it's 8 a.m. on a Saturday and it's the only day of the week you have to get yr shit done around the house and the only time your family will see you but we are moving today and need some help could you help?"

And then, then! to discover that the moving family hadn't even bothered to fucking pack.

No, we could handle our own. We had family. We were able.

Dinners and everything just seemed like so much work. That said, we had more than one recipe added to our list after a few dinners were brought over. Sweet and sour chicken is among my favorites. The others are unavailable to us now that Eric has accepted his lactose intolerance, but still. And offering dinners yet remains a go to fantasy idea when I don't know what else to do because anything more personal is just too scary.

Then there are the cookies.

Cookies are the ever universal ice-breaker and offering of friendship. I did this, you did this, we all did this. If you can't get your foot in the door without cookies, you sure as hell should be able to with them. And they're also the great intercessory offering when you don't really want to interact with the person. Just drop 'em off at the door when you know they're not home or pretend you have to split for whatever reason.

I don't like giving gifts when the other person is there to receive. Maybe it is because I am so insecure or so ungraceful myself when I receive--I don't know how to read reactions, especially within the church where cookies are just the norm and fake smiles and thank-yous run rampant. When I give things, I generally do so rather genuinely and if the other person is there, I often allow my insecurity to find signs of annoyance or ungratefulness in the recipient even if such signs weren't there.

"Thank you so much!" could easily, by virtue of tone alone, be interpreted as "Oh...a fruitcake. How, uhm, nice. I'll put it with the others."

Also, the more ornate the packaging the better. A paper plate wrapped in plastic wrap is acceptable in a moment of desperation, but colorful cellophane is better. Tupperware is good, but a pretty basket with a card is better.

After I had Joseph, I had decided to learn to bake because it was the one thing I liked to do that other women in the church liked to do. And I knew I could be good at it. I was. I am.

Bake cookies.

But it's not as if many people in my ward knew about it--family did. Eric's co-workers certainly did, but ward members? Naw. I've never been all that proactive about these things. I made a batch for a missionary dinner, some for a really cool family who actually befriended us, but it didn't work for me, not in the way I'd hoped. I was putting a little part of me out there and got nothing in return. And I think that was the problem: I gave in the hopes of receiving--and isn't that the idea of cookies in the church?

Years before I did make snickerdoodles for my non-member neighbors who, i'll have you know, did not also receive some lame pamphlet or video or card or any bullshit like that. Not my style. Because nothing says "Hi I'm a nice person let's be friendly neighbors" than "Have some conditional friendship cookies because i'm a mormon and therefore nice YOU SHOULD BE MORMON (would you like to meet with the mishies?)"

Anyway. I baked cookies.

And I still want to give them out, but the desire is going away. Mostly because I'm lazy and a horrific procrastinator--but also because it and the dinner thing makes me feel all too Mormon. Because I feel desperate when I do. Like me please please! See? I'm just like you, I make cookies! And also because I hate cellophane (it's pretty and crinkly but terrible for the environment) and the feeling that I'm just not creative or feminine enough to make a proper plating of holiday cookies--how will my presentation be judged? I'm still learning the balance between the redneck simplicity of my youth with the self-aggrandizing basket of "goodies" for whoever, and how either makes me feel as a person.

I agree with Kiley in that these aren't necessarily bad things--cookies and dinner--but motherfuck. They make me feel dirty.