12/29/11

this is happening.

And by this, I mean blogging. I'm a little disgusted by how infrequent a blogger I've become. I wish I could blame future child entirely, but we all know that I always have some reason not to blog, usually involving T.V.

(Side note: I started watching How I Met Your Mother over the break, and it is embarrassing how close I am to being caught up. I like HIMYM. Is it not cool anymore? I live in a TV time warp.)

(Another side note: This blog post is coming to you in the form of No Delete Thursday. Which means barring a huge typo, or maybe even despite the huge typo, I'm not deleting anything I write. I'm that rusty at blogging. Apologies (or, if it is awesomely embarrassing,) You're Welcome, in advance.


It is weird that I always put off blogging because I really enjoy it. I like interacting with people, and I'm a glutton for attention. It is also a great way to kill time. Maybe my reluctance to blog stems from my superego trying to control the raging narcissist id that is my blogging persona.

Oh shit. Claiming to be a narcissist is what truly annoying narcissist bloggers do in an attempt to be cute. Oh, here is my one-millionth photo shoot of me doing mundane things! Bahaha, I'm such a narcissist, want to see what I wore c/o Anthro?

Damn you, No Delete Thursday, damn you to hell.

News and Updates

-Spouseman claims pregnancy doubles all pre-existing personality traits. Thus, I have become even more antisocial (I find myself avoiding social gatherings for no other reason than I worry about being homesick) and more easily enraged (I don't care if it is No Delete Thursday, I'm not telling you about some of my more awesome rage freak outs.) I'd feel bad for Spouseman, until I remember that not only am I the one rapidly gaining weight and going insane, it is also my job to push this kid out. So, really, dealing with an angry hermit is not that big a deal. Be grateful for that Y chromosome, friend.

Want to know the way I remember which gender has the XX chromosome and which has the XY? XX is the girl because it is closest to XXX which means porn stars, who, in my mind, for the purpose of memory-keeping, are all girls. Sexist? Yes. Even true? No. Meaning men are also porn stars, the part about XX and XY chromosomes is true.  Slightly ashamed that I put that on the internet? Yes. But the integrity of No Delete Thursday lives on.

If this were one of my normal posts at this point I would

a. use a poem to help resolve my deeply rooted issues with the LDS church.

b. insert the word "damn" into another word (i.e. adamndorable.)

c. develop some form of conclusion/ask a question so I could wrap this up.

Clearly, this is not a normal post.

Side note: I really liked how people left comments on my last (non-deleted) post about what poems/bits of literature they have floating in their heads. Aren't words wonderful? I think you can tell a lot about a person based on what poem they keep in their heads. I think you can tell that they are awesome.

Anyway, as I've mentioned, I'm really angry sometimes when gestating. I told this to the person I Visit Teach, and she told me how she kicked in a door while pregnant with her second child. That made me feel really good, because I've done a lot of things (including throwing away any of my husband's church books that were written by Packer, Young, or McKonkie in a fit of church rage) but I haven't kicked in a door yet.

 Spouseman,  if you are reading this, I am sorry about throwing the books away without telling you. (Until now, on the internet.) In my defense, I could have said I threw away all your church books that were homophobic, sexist, or racist (in that order,) and I know you haven't read 90% of them anyway, nor do I think you have noticed their absence. Also, I refuse to look up how to spell McKonkie, but find my way very amusing.

Given that I just confessed to chucking (not even recycling, just chucking,) a bunch of Venerated Chruch Literature away, are you surprised to learn that I am a kickass Visiting Teacher? For real. I hardly ever miss a month. I've given up on many church-related rituals (either entirely, or else modified them so that they suit my needs,) but I'll be damned (if you are a TBM, you might take that literally,) if I don't visit my church sisters. I genuinely like Visiting Teaching, though. I like talking to people about kicking doors in while pregnant, and even having meaningful gospel related discussions without worrying if it is the right "church answer."

I think I would like church a lot more if there were more talk about how human we all are, and less talk about what will happen to people who have double-earrings in the Millennium. (Spoiler alert: Spirit Prison. Seriously, last time I went to Relief Society, one sweet sister was very adamant that this was Christ's chosen way of dealing with multiple piercings.)


Anyway, after typing the word "porn" out a whole lot, I think it is time to wrap this thing up. I should leave you all in order to read some of my fascinating pregnancy literature, but I will probably just join Ted Mosby in another quest to find his future wife. It's been a very fun No-Delete Thursday. Really, I mean that, and if I don't, there is nothing I can do about it anyway.

12/11/11

discuss the following:

Every so often I get finicky and I delete blog posts. Nothing to see here.

12/4/11

and the soul felt its worth

I like to think that all literature lovers are like me, and walk around with lines of poems repeating in their head. If this isn't true, don't tell me, I don't need any more evidence that I'm a little bit nuts.

When I'm stressed, the repeating line comes from e.e. cummings, "and staggered banged with terror through/a million billion trillion stars." Don't we all feel that way, at least some of the time? I've staggered my whole life, even more so now pregnant.

Recently, I remembered the words to the John Donne poem I studied in high school. "Batter my heart, three-personed God." I couldn't remember the rest of the poem, but remembered relating to it strongly when I was 17. (I was a weird 17 year old. I don't think many of my students relate on a personal level to John Donne.)

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Did you skim that? It is okay, you probably already graduated from high school. Essentially, the poem's speaker asks God to batter his heart, because his usual tactics to "knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend" are not enough to save his sinful soul. Instead, he needs God to "break, blow, burn, and make me new." Married to God's enemy (Satan,) the speaker asks God to "Imprison me...enthrall me....ravish me" in order to gain spiritual freedom.

Why did I like this poem? A poem about God raping (ravishing) a soul married to Satan in order to purify it sounds fundamentalist at best. But after re-reading the poem, I remembered the line that interested me as a senior: "Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend/ But is captived, and proves weak or untrue."

The idea that God gave us reason to defend us, but said reason is captive and weak in the mind of man made sense to my often unreasonable teenage self. I felt comforted by the fact that while I may sometimes misuse it, God had indeed given me reason.

Growing up, I was desperate to be Good, more specifically, I was desperate to be a Good Mormon. I felt often like my God-given reason had betrayed me, when I struggled to understand Church practices and doctrine that seemed to defy reason, and frankly didn't make sense. (Wait, I'm really more righteous than my 7 year old brother? And that is why he will someday have the priesthood?)

So I loved John Donne's plea to his three-personed God to batter his heart. The brute force of God would still be kinder than the mental beatings I gave myself every time I flippantly refused to accept that God sees homosexuality as a sin, or dared to believe a woman could choose to stay at home or work outside it and still be a good mother.  If God could somehow break and bend my cognitive dissonance into a temple recommend, into perfect Mormon compliance, I would be happy.

Still, I distinctly remember postponing my Patriarchal blessing because I was afraid God would tell me what I already knew. He would reveal my secret heretical thoughts to the patriarch and my parents. Until God battered the rebellion out of me, the least I could do was pretend.

Maybe I should just stick to e.e. cummings.

I was thinking about John Donne while driving home yesterday, listening to Christmas music on the radio. I've changed my position on God, but I think John Donne did get one thing right: God gave us reason to protect us.

It wasn't rebellion or sin to question my role as a woman in this church, it was the reason that God gave me. It wasn't sin to love my fellow man, Gay or not Gay. It was perfectly, beautifully, reasonable.  God never answered my prayer to batter my heart, because my heart, though broken, was perfect as it was. I knew this driving home, just as the lines of "Oh Holy Night" played through the radio:

"...Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices."

That thrill of hope sustains me, as I stagger and bang with terror through the million, billion, trillion stars that constitute being Mormon and not-so- Mormon at the same time, especially at Christmas. Pulling into my driveway, I let go of my guilt for the last time, and rejoiced. My soul felt its worth. Now, instead of fearing the beating of a three-personed God, I simply and sincerely hope that what they say about Christ is true.

 His law is love, and his gospel is peace.

11/17/11

I think I'll be a clown

"I think I'll be a clown when I get grown," said Dill. "Yes, sir, a clown.... There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off." 

"You got it backwards, Dill," said Jem. "Clowns are sad, it's folks that laugh at them."

  "Well, I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks." ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird,

Oh, internet.

People frequently ask me how I'm feeling, which is nice and very social-normish. I always feel like I'm disappointing them though, because I'm five months pregnant, and have nary a horror story. I feel fine. I threw up a few times, (once while driving to work, which required some orchestration since I didn't want to teach covered in barf.) and my pants don't fit.

People run through the checklist of possible symptoms, almost hopeful I'll say yes. Heartburn? No. Cramps? No. Just wait, it's coming! Okay. I'll wait. *

I feel like I'm disappointing them, frankly.

But if they spent less time asking me about my body, and more time asking about my head, I'd have a textbook worth of symptoms.

Where is the chapter in What To Expect When You are Expecting that explains what happens when a student at your school dies, and you spend the week with heartbroken students, and then you watch them struggle through a long and painful funeral. And then you go back to school the next week, feeling like you teach in a mausoleum.

I don't know about the books would say, but I say I get angry. I get mental heartburn, because I don't understand the senselessness of the whole thing. My heart cramps up with rage because I don't get to feel grief like a parent or friend. My role is to watch everyone struggle,and hope that if the situation arises, I say and do the right thing.

I get mad because I can't protect my goofy, funny, lovable students from tragedy. All I get to do is teach them about themes, foils, and character archetypes, and it doesn't feel like enough.

Remember, students, in To Kill a Mockingbird when Jem finds out that Nathan Radley filled up the hole in the tree with cement, so that Boo couldn't leave Jem and Scout gifts anymore, and Jem cries, but doesn't know why.

We never learn why Nathan Radley is so unnecessarily cruel, bent on taking away any source of happiness for Boo. We never learn why sad things happen, and it makes me mad.

I feel impatient, with little social manipulations and power struggles, with the day to day human interactions where no one says what they really mean, or what they really think, and we all just dance around each other.

I don't feel like myself, these days.

Oh. (That isn't what people want to hear.)

Do  you get cramps?

No.

On Monday, during a fairly dry (by nature of the subject) discussion of The Federalist Papers one of my students started giggling uncontrollably. He couldn't stop. Like a hilarious virus, it spread, until everyone was shaking with quiet laughter and looking at me apologetically through happy tears.

I pretended to be very put-out. But secretly, I was happy not to be angry anymore. Happy to know that there is something (even if none of us knew what) to be laughing about. I hope I remember that, when this first little daughter of mine comes home hurt, or angry, or shattered because she doesn't feel quite like herself these days, and her friends think she's lost it.

There is still something to laugh about, I just don't know what, right now.







*Murphy's law says I will experience all of the above mentioned pregnancy ailments. Probably starting now.

11/7/11

MCB: emotional ranting until early April...and most assuredly beyond...

Can I do an "all call" to the internet asking for a bit of a break? Recently I got two "trigger" comments, comments that were not intended to be mean, but sort of made my overly sensitive soul hurt. One was on a very old post claiming that me/commenters on the blog didn't appreciate motherhood, especially SAHMhood.

I'm so tired of being told I don't like SAHMS. I like SAHMS. If you are a SAHM, odds are I like you. Good job. Is that what you want?

Said comment then proceeds to tell us all how it is much harder to be a SAHM than a working mom. (Do they have an acronym yet, the working moms?) Ask anyone, they say, it is way easier to go into work.

Because what the world needs now isn't love sweet love, but apparently yet another line drawn between women, another stupid gauntlet thrown on who has the hardest life. How about we all put our hands in a circle and agree that being a woman is hard sometimes. Having kids is hard, not having kids is hard. Working is hard, unemployment is hard, SAHMing is hard, and working moming it is hard. But it is all probably pretty wonderful, at times.

And aren't we so damn lucky that we even get to have this conversation, however belabored? That some of us are lucky enough to SAHM when we want to, and some of us are lucky enough to work and still be moms, if we want to. And really, I suppose the only truly hard thing is not having any choices at all. That. Is. The. Hardest.


The which-very-privileged-life-is-hardest argument exhausts me. So stop it. Stop saying things like "I decided my kids were more important than work" crap. Because the equation for working or not working isn't as simple as math equations where x is greater than y and kids equal x for some and work for others.
Likewise, stop trying to make SAHMhood seem like eternal drudgery for the spotless mind. It is insulting, smart people SAHM all the time. Your paycheck is not a qualitative reflection of your IQ, it is a reflection of a choice. Stop trying to make insulting a SAHM's intelligence happen. Like "fetch," it never will.

Why is the idea of "different strokes for different folks" so difficult to live by? It rhymes! Doesn't that make it easier to remember?

I want to know what exactly we gain from comments intended to belittle those who didn't make our same choice. Does it feel good to put the gold star on all by yourself?

I'm pregnant*, and I don't know if I'm going to SAHM or work, part time or full time. I expect I will do all of the above, at various times. Did you know you can work for my school district .78 time? or .625 time? Does that mean I'm only .22* of a mom? or .375? That I love this kid 3738494% less if I work? If I don't work does it mean I think Moms who do love their kids less than me? What if I confess that I want to keep working? What if I confess that I don't?

If I work, my kids will have a role model who shows them how wide the world is, how it is possible to balance the seemingly impossible (however imperfectly, at times.) If I don't work, my kids will have a role model who shows them how wide the world is, how it is possible to balance the seemingly impossible (still imperfectly.) The ratio of things balanced might be different- family, work, self-identity, but they all add up to the same thing: You have a choice.

My kids will know that feminism means choices. I like to joke** with my students that math is a pointless subject that they will never use in real life, because real life can't be determined by "less than" or "greater than," and especially by "no solution" Life isn't math, and parenthood isn't math. It is making the best choice for you and yours, and not leaving passive -aggressive comments on the internet that make pregnant women want to stab you with the pee-stick she promised never to display on the internet.

It probably isn't very fun, being fair and being kind, and giving people the benefit of the doubt, and you don't feel like you got a gold star at the end. But if x is greater than y, I'd say that x is not having a pee stick lodged in your sternum, and y is having that self-applied gold star because you claim to love your kids the mostest/ you're too smart to just parent.

Do that math.



*Yep. Not as awesome as Beyonce's announcement, but the hormones released writing this post should mean I get to avoid the "fake pregnancy" conspiracy thwarting my beloved B.

** Totally a joke! Math is important! Girls can do it just as well as boys, as it turns out! Hurray math! Can you use it to build me a time machine?

10/29/11

a rant mcranterson

There is no other purpose in this post except to give a short rant, based on a book synopsis I read while browsing Barnes and Noble online. Seriously, that is what this is and I understand if you want to skip.


It is the end of first quarter, and I am exhausted. I'm teaching three different grade levels this year, co-advising National Honor Society, and trying desperately hard to meet the needs of all of my students.

But despite my best efforts, I cannot reach all of them. Of my six classes, my smallest is a class of 27 sophomores. My largest is class of 40 seniors. Take a minute to imagine how long grading essays takes.

This is not to say I hate my job. I like/love my job. I do, most of the time. I feel like I am a good teacher, and each year I improve. I want to be better every year. I may not be able to reach each student, but I feel like it is my obligation to try.


I am however, tired of books and movies (sometimes written about or by teachers) that tell me my obligation is to give up my entire life in order to teach. Apparently, in order to be a good teacher I am supposed to give up on my marriage and my family, spend every waking moment focusing on teaching, and sacrifice any sense of personal self. For less pay than the manager at McDonalds.

Furthermore, these books/movies never seem to tell the whole story. An elementary school teacher at a charter school has all 19 of his students reading on the college level. Fantastic, but how many of those kids were severely special-needs? Or learning English as a second language? Also, ever notice how long these teachers actually teach? Two or three years before they quit to write their teaching memoir.

Even if the teacher has a class-load similar to mine, and just as many students, with just as many disabilities, is it unreasonable to still assume that every situation is different?

I believe in high standards for teachings. I'm angry at bad teachers for the same reasons you are. It denies students a right to a quality education, which they deserve. It puts an added burden on good teachers to catch up students after a year with a lousy one. I get it. Along with higher pay, I'm entirely fine with raising and maintaining standards for educators. Also, as a side note, if you want me to personally tutor each and every student every day, you might not want to give me 27-40 of them per class. Just a thought.

So next time you read a book, watch a documentary on some teacher who has their students over at her house every night doing practice ACT exams, remember that there is a difference between high standards, and committing emotional and physical suicide for your job.

I won't be able to be a good teacher if I burn out after two years because I'm living at my school. I help no one if I'm angry all day at school because I stayed up until midnight in order to grade essays the day I receive them. I'm a better person, and teacher when I wait a day to grade and spend some time outside instead. Outside! Can you believe it?

Last Tuesday I came to school at 6:45 am. I left at 7:20 pm after teaching all day, grading all afternoon, and putting on the NHS Induction Ceremony.  Unusual? Yes. But fairly indicative of how much work goes into working at a public school.

 Despite all this effort, some of my students still failed this quarter. I truly believe there was nothing I could do. Especially for the student who came to class three times last quarter, and earned 9% in my class,

But if you believe the "inspirational" movies and books, I should have been at that student's house every morning, driving him to school. I should have spent every day after school re-teaching my entire curriculum, so that this student could pass. Then I should have held his hand every day and walked him to each class, and made sure that he stayed and turned in all his assignments. In between classes, I could maybe wipe his nose, and tie his shoes.

And at the end of the quarter he would have passed all his classes, and Ivy League colleges would want to give him scholarships. He would stand dramatically on his desk on the last day of school, and pledge his loyalty to me, "Oh Captain! My Captain!"

And then I'd return home, to my husband who I haven't seen all year, burnt out and exhausted, and deciding to quit teaching after two years to write my inspirational novel, where I lecture other teachers on creating  Freedom whatsits, or how to teach with their hair on fire, or wait for superman, blah blah blah.

I admire teachers who make a difference. But not as much as I admire the teachers who make a difference and have a life outside the school. Why? Because those teachers stick around. Thirty years later*, they never have a book deal, they've failed some of their students, but they are still there. They are good teachers, getting better every year, and making a difference a thousand times over.

If no one stands on their desk reciting poetry in my honor, I'll survive.


Rant over. Thanks for playing.





*I know that time teaching isn't an indicator of greatness, I've worked with crappy 30 year teachers. But I do think that a good teacher who makes teaching part of their life, but not their entire life, becomes a better long term teacher.

Now I'm really done.

For real?


I hear that one inspirational teacher with the book is kind of a bitch in real life.


Just kidding. I'm done.

10/23/11

not like riding a bike

Hi interwebs.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not like riding a bike. I keep opening the new post window, and can't think of what to say. What did I used to talk about?

TV
Mormon rage
Teens


All of those things are still an important part of my life, I just forgot how to write about them in a way that is even remotely amusing. Also, I think somehow I lost a lot of my funny. Sometime last year. I now replace funny with profanity. Shit. Damn. Hell. Pretend I told a joke instead, if swears offend you.

If swears offend you, why are you reading my blog? If you are reading my blog because you get some sick high from being pissed off at strangers online...well good on you. I totally do that too. Except instead of swears I get pissed off at things like not acknowledging privilege (Everyone could be as successful as me if they just tried harder,) and not so subtle hints about their husband's income (Even though he works for my dad, Hubs is totally a self-made man.)

But it is okay, according to the gospel of Stephanie, to read blogs just because they sort of piss you off. Sometimes feeling superior is the best medicine, and also cheap, and doesn't require health insurance.

In case you haven't noticed, my ADD is out of control this year. Most of the time, I consider my ADD under control. It has been under control since college, when I got to pick my classes and schedule, and really loved what I was studying. Despite scary pamphlets, I've managed to get multiple degrees, get married, have friends, and stay employed. ADD/Mischief managed.

Recently though, I've really struggled. I feel like I'm re-learning skills that I thought I had mastered. Things like Remembering Deadlines and Staying Organized. It is funny how these things come back and haunt you.

Managing my ADD though has re-taught me a few things though:

1. I am not my ADD. I am still a good teacher and person, even though I've hit a rough spot. I have a student who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and his mom is very worried, even though he does well in school/life. I think she has forgotten that her kid is the same kid as before, just with more awareness of how his brain works. I'm already pretty damn aware of how my brain works, so suck it ADD. I will manage the hell out of you.


2. ADD means my desk will never be organized, but (some of) my lessons will be awesome.


Remember when I told you I couldn't get into Modern Family? I keep forgetting to tell you that I have repented. Modern Family is really funny. Please don't tell me it isn't cool anymore, or how the second season just isn't as funny. My heart can't handle it. I really like Cam.


So. Checklist. Teens. Done. TV. Done. Mormon rage? I will give a pass for today, since it seems to freak my Mom out sometimes. Uchtdorf is hot, even if I don't like being compared to flowers. That isn't rage, just a personal preference.


What is new with you? Catch me up on the most awesome parts of your life.

9/29/11

the people who make them.

When studying culture and civilization in my Humanities class we often discuss Zora Neal Hurston’s quote “Gods always behave like the people who make them.” The Greeks, obsessed with the human form made human Gods, complete with man-made foibles: jealousy, rage, passion.
Sumerians, perhaps terrified of a world they did not understand planted wide-eyed prayer figurines in their temples. Ensuring a constant source of prayer to the mysterious and unintelligible heavens. Different worlds, different customs, but always complete with a matching set of Gods.
I don’t care much for the Old Testament God, who alternately destroys and saves at whim. Kill your son, Abraham! Or not. I will take everything away from you Job, but give it back once I win this bet with Satan. Locusts for some children and manna for others.

Then, somewhere along the line, the Judeo-Christian God became a single-parent. What were we thinking, when we gave up our right to the Divine Feminine?

When I start to wonder what redeeming qualities can exist in a species that creates horrific Gods, I remember that amongst all our violent and vengeful Gods, we create kind and loving ones. Patron Goddesses of childbirth, Gods that lead us to enlightenment, Shiva does not just destroy, but transforms. A God who sends his son to save us all. Gods who I must believe still speak to us, in some form or another. If you believe Hurston, believe that people create Gods that behave like their creators, then we humans cannot be all bad.

However, Hurston also warns us that “Anybody depending on somebody else's gods is depending on a fox not to eat chickens.”

 For years, I relied on somebody else’s God. A patriarchal one, who denied blessing to some, changed his mind regarding others, and tells me that one family is better, or more real, than another. He was a scary God. At times, this God seemed less concerned about my soul and more concerned about the number of holes in my ears. Someone else’s God, but I depended on him until my yard was filled with bloody chicken carcasses.  People told me God wanted it this way. We knew this because it has always been this way. Would the God we created ever lead us astray?

But Gods always behave like the people who make them.

We are patriarchal, we change our mind on who receives blessings, and when. We define our families by what is familiar, clinging to stability in an uncertain time. We deify tradition, and culture, and we care a lot about earrings. We make Gods to match our values and shirk change, afraid of insulting our creation.

So when there was nothing left, I remade my Gods. I threw out the carcasses, and I went back for the mother I didn’t know I left behind. I reacquainted myself with the Father who sent his son. I felt peace.

I worry though, often, that my Gods can be no more or less real than the others we create. How do I know the God who created me, the one who made me in their image?

Through raising new hatchling beliefs, I’ve learned that I know I’ve found God by the way I treat others. When I am kind, I recognize some part of God in me. When I forgive, I remember that a divine God forgives, and a man-made God seeks revenge. I am God-like when I love my enemy, transcendent when I choose peace. When I seek out other travelers, sometimes hurt on the side of the road, I am too busy to create a false God.

After all, God was here all along, waiting to be found.






9/25/11

please excuse Stephanie

When my students are late for class, they have the office make them an official-looking note explaining why they are late. It looks all legit, but I know the office ladies are kind, and my students wiley, and that the label "personal" can mean "at a very important appointment" just as easily as "I used my mom's phone to call and say I was sick."

I guess I'm confessing that if blogger made notes excusing neglectfulness, mine would probably include a stupid fake reason. Mostly that I have been feeling grumpy and ragey, and not in a productive way. Waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to teach Hawthorne will do that to you.

Also? I logged on and blogger was all changed and re-formatted. The hell? I hate change in my technology and social media. Remember when you needed a college email account to join facebook? Grumble, grumble.

Clearly, I'm a little rusty in my blogging. A list of random and incoherent thoughts to jump-start the process.

Things that make me judgey because I am a grumpy and sleep-deprived buzz-kill these days:


1. I maintain very complex feelings about the Dance Company portraits hanging up by the Gym at my school. Most of the individual portraits are girls exhibiting their favorite dance move, which I'm sure looks stunning for the split second it exists on stage. Captured on film? Well... there are a lot of in-your-face crotch shots and a lot of heads titled back so you can't see their faces.

Part of me says the photos over-sexualize 16 year old girls. Can't you take a nice picture in a less dramatic pose? One that shows your face, maybe?

The other part of me worries that I am body-policing and slut-shaming girls who are simply celebrating their body and it's capacity for self-expression. Gross boys be damned, they have a right to do whatever they want. The problem is with me, not the photos.

I don't even know. Thoughts?


2. Sometimes, a funny thing happens when you and your child-bride spouses and peers start to grow out of adorable child-bride-and-groomness and into real adulthood. When we were all barely off missions and still in college, most of us were desperate enough to realize we didn't know what in the Sam Hill we were doing, and were therefore content to hang out in our crappy apartments and go to free concerts.

Now that most said peers are nearing their thirties, I'm noticing a disturbing trend I call "Sudden Desire to Be My Parentsitis." It is a silent social killer. You know your friends have it when they start combing over their hair, even when not balding, and start bemoaning the "youth of today." Suddenly everything is a sign of the damn times, and they are purging their R-rated movies, and wanting to discuss modesty*, as well as their recently acquired 401K.  When did hanging out turn into a Righteousness Fest? I don't like it. Also, I don't think people who were dry humping their now wife and mother to three-children a mere 4-5 years ago have any business criticizing the "youth of today."

However, I get to criticize my peers because I am sometimes guilty of SDTBMPitis. I find the cure is self-awareness, occasional bouts of immaturity (like spending unreasonable amounts of money on sour candy at Winco,) and swearing profusely. There is a cure, dammit!

Anyway. This is getting embarrassing. Kids these days.





*Discussing Modesty as in "Girls who dress like that make it difficult for my son to focus in sacrament meeting" not "What's the deal with Church and shaming girls into being accountable for men's behavior?" I will participate in one discussion of modesty, not the other.

9/11/11

waiting with their light

If there is ever a day to post a poem...



The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.



— Wendell Berry




Hoping that each of us can take a moment to rest in the grace of the world, and be free.

8/29/11

notes from the salt mines (now with photos)

Well. That was an unintentional blogging break, now wasn't it? It is now the second week of school, and here is what you non-teen interactors are missing:


- Harem pants are actually a thing. I was hoping they would stay trapped in the realm of back-up dancers in music videos, but alas, they are worn by girls who list "Seminary" as their favorite class. I think you can determine how mainstream something has become when conservative Mormon girls accept it as normal. And yes, I saw one tuck her EFY t-shirt into said pants. I miss pre-distressed denim now.




-More alarming, Hugh Hefner style slippers are in now too. How did that happen?





-Last year, I grew fascinated my a set of twins I saw wandering about, and I hoped I would have one or both of them in my class. They just looked so other-worldly and creepy, with their dyed black hair, multiple piercings, and dinner-plate size ear gauges. As luck would have it, I do have one of them this year, and he is very nice. I've since noticed that when they walk together, they walk so close that their shoulders touch, and they lean inward to talk. More endearingly, they subconsciously (I assume) match their strides, looking like the winners of the three-legged race at the annual Goth and Alternative music convention. I don't know why but the image makes me feel all warm inside.

Signs you will do well as a high school teacher: You find yourself fascinated by people others would not want to meet in a dark alley, and you find brotherly affection twixt teens adamndorable.


-I am teaching two Honors English classes, and find the eager-beaver mentality of some of my students off-putting. Where is the challenge in teaching a kid who triple checks his work? I'm used to reluctant learners, but shall carry the burden of working with over-achievers, somehow, if I must.


We can discuss the hideousness of harem pants, among other things, in the comments, if you would like.












8/16/11

But Brutus is an honorable man

Years of reading and watching romantic comedies taught me the following: the words "Do we have to put a label on it?" are the kiss-of-death in budding relationships. If you aren't willing to label your love, you aren't ready for a happy ending. You've got to be able to commit to the thing relatively early if you want to last the full 118 minutes, or  341 pages.

I suppose I also learned this lesson in high school, when I, or a significant other inevitably proposed a "DTR," an awkward chat designed to "Define the Relationship," to "put a label on it."

Thus, I am found of labels. My relationship as a wife is labeled by law, and irrational or not, I enjoy the institution of marriage and the label in a form of a marriage certificate.

I am equally proud of my label as a teacher, my teaching license and the degrees allowing me to continue my almost unholy worship at the shrine of literature and words, and get paid.

Those papers and labels remind me that I am committed. Committed to my spouse and my career, and myself.

Despite the lack of official looking cards (which I really want, by the way,) I very much associate myself with the label of feminist. Even though I don't always agree with every incarnation, or every other feminist, the overall cause is important enough to me, important enough to willingly embrace a label. Even when that label associates me with a minority few that "hate men" or burn bras.

The label of feminist reminds me of the inherent worth of every human being, of myself, and of my choices. Feminism allowed me to marry not out of economic or social need, and to teach out of devotion to education, not because it used to be one of the few "female friendly" jobs in a world with a low glass ceiling. Sometimes, I identify so strongly as a feminist that I get annoyed when other equality-minded people do not. I am aware that this is a little irrational. But truly, do you not want to commit for the long haul? Get the happy ending? Don't you know that you can be a feminist even if feminism isn't a perfect social movement?  Or are you going to lecture me on the failed institution of marriage, I mean, feminism.

I guess that is the thing about labels, what they represent doesn't need to be perfect in order to be good.

Despite my affection for labels, and my belief that perfection isn't necessary for goodness, I still hesitate to embrace any label concerning my religion. To clarify, I am quite able to embrace some aspects of the LDS label. The Of Jesus Christ part is easy, Christianity, like feminism, reminds me of the inherent worth of every human being. But the Of Latter-Day-Saints part troubles me at times. It's the cognitive dissonance keeping me up at night. The LDS label reminds me of ideas I value: family, charity, humanitarianism, while simultaneously reminding me of ideas I don't: exclusion of certain types of family, Victorian gender roles, and a degree of group-think (more kindly referred to as "Mormon Culture,") that could make Orwell shudder.

But what about embracing labels even when they are imperfect? Don't you want to commit for the long haul? Don't you know you can be a Mormon even if it isn't a perfect religion? Or are you going to lecture me on the failed institution of marriage, I mean organized religion.

Like the romantic partner unwilling to "define the relationship," because they aren't sure of the future, perhaps labels in religion are not always effective. Labeling something assigns it a degree of stasis, permanence that can be rewarding and reassuring, but can also close the door to change, halt evolution, and lead to stagnation. I like labels that help reaffirm who I am, but not when they define me entirely.

While I always want to be a wife, an educator/amateur thinker,  an advocate for human equality, I do not know if I want the stasis that comes from the label of religion. I'm not saying I don't want to attend church ever again, or that I have nothing to learn or gain from my LDS background. I'm simply saying I want the luxury of choice. Can I become some incarnation of LDS without being LDS? Can one be Of Jesus Christ always, but Of Latter-Day-Saints in part?

There is one thing I do know: labels are easier. That is certain.

But not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien.)




8/8/11

snooze button panic button

There is a single blog that I read in order to keep relatively up-to-date on things I am interested/invested in: politics, feminism, race relations, education.  Doesn't that sound like a dream blog? All that information all in one place?

I unsubscribed from that blog two weeks ago, because I felt it was crowding up my reader. Then I felt extremely guilty. I have a whole separate file for sewing and craft blogs, and another for read-to-mock lunatics,  but I can't handle a single grown-up blog? I re-subscribed.

But the blog is making me stressed. Ten posts on how the economy is going to hell?  Five posts promising that my kids will probably be fighting in Iraq by the time they are 19? Rape and bigotry 60 years after the Civil Rights movement and Women's lib?

Shit. SHIT.

Forget the stress of resuming teaching in two weeks, is there even going to be a planet in 10 years? (According to said blog, probably not, and if so, will be run by Republican zombies.)

I'm feeling anxious and stressed, and I don't know where the line is. As a human, and especially as an educator, I feel obligated to be relatively well informed about the world around me. I do not want to be yet another ugly blissfull and ignorant American buying luxury goods when people in my own country can't afford groceries.

But I cannot read one more article on how corporate America indirectly supports Rape-culture, or how we are entering another Great Depression (but without the hero-making WWII panacea.) I find myself struggling to sleep at night because haven't you heard? We are all going to be jobless in two months.

So what do I do? Keep reading my happy sewing blogs? Occasionally pick up a Time and hope for the best? Accept my role as a future minion of the well-coiffed* Zombie Republicans?


Talk me through this.







*I bet you can guess who the president is in that scenario, long-term readers.

8/1/11

Gluten-free Mormonism

Sometimes, it is easy to enter a Zen-like* state during church meetings. A lot of the stuff, while sometimes meaningful and faith-affirming is simply a repeat of last weeks, months, and years meetings. In Relief Society, I had just settled into my center, breathing slowly to the familiar mantras spoken by the instructor: Faith is like a seed, there is always one conference talk that I believe was "just for me," conference is intended to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable, so it is important that we don't become "Cafeteria Mormons" who try and pick and chose what doctrines to follow....

Hold the phone.


What does it mean to be a "Cafeteria Mormon?"

Like the title implies, a "Cafeteria Mormon" is someone who doesn't like the "yucky" food that comes with the Lunch Of Mormonism. For instance, a Cafeteria Mormon probably tries to pass on the brussel sprouts of tithing, and goes instead for seconds on the "yummy" stuff like Ward Ball and Super Saturday. Bad, bad, Cafeteria Mormon! You cannot go to recess (Celestial Kingdom) unless you eat the brussel sprouts (pay tithing.)



There are several things wrong with the Cafeteria Mormon analogy, starting with the basic assumption that if you do not clean your plate, you aren't a "true" Mormon. But if we extend the analogy even further, it reveals some disturbing ideas about what it means to eat in the LDS cafeteria:

1. God is a grumpy lady in a hairnet, who does not care about your individual nutrition needs or desires; you are simply one of many "customers," who paid for the same meal as everyone else. If you want special treatment, or need an extra serving of mercy, grace, or forgiveness, you're out of luck. The God of the Cafeteria does not see every sparrow that falls, or number the hairs on your head.



2. Not only is there no accommodation for those who would like some extra chocolate pudding of the Atonement, but there is no recognition of individual allergies, implying that an inability to digest certain foods is a faith issue, not a blessing of personal revelation.

For the record, I am allergic to modesty lessons that teach people certain body parts are "bad” and set-in-stone life "roles" based on gender. I cannot tolerate the gluten found in polygamy (Apparently, most people are born moderately gluten-intolerant, but their body adapts over time..)

I wish the cafeteria would serve more talks by Uchtdorf, and am sad the cafeteria seems out of talks Elder Faust. I loved that man.



3. The Cafeteria does not serve "spicy" food very often. "Spicy" food must be cleared by a priesthood holder, does not pray in General Conference. It is naturally more "spiritual" than regular food, and therefore doesn't need to be served very often, even in the Young Women manual.



4. Even when laced with preservatives, all food eventually goes bad. You wouldn't eat moldy canned tomatoes, so why do some members still claim the counsel against inter-racial marriage and women working outside the home as their favorite food? We have fresh tomatoes now! President Hinckley and Elder Cook grew them outside in their gardens! They may even be organic...


Trying to eat both the moldy and fresh tomatoes leads to indigestion. There is no shame in passing on the moldy food in favor of the fresh stuff, especially when polygamy is involved.


Lastly, the "Cafeteria Mormon" analogy is flawed since we all know Cafeteria food is bad for you. Eating all of it simply means you ate a lot of preservatives in the form of frozen chicken nuggets. Not exactly what we want to be serving under the auspices of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


In reality, the best cooked meals are made from scratch, using fresh ingredients, and cooked al dente. When you make your own food, you can use as much spice as you want, and just a pinch of the stuff you don't want. You can be a vegetarian, should your own personal revelation guide you there. You can use recipes passed down by people that love you, or create your own. Either way, when you pray over the food, you can rest assured that it wasn't made by an angry lady in a hairnet, but with the aid of Heavenly Parents that care about your nutrition.



And know that you are allergic to polygamy.

7/28/11

i can't decide if lyla is a mediocre actor, or a mediocre character....

Confession: I usually skip out on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette after the hometown dates. It is just boring after all the crazies go home, and everyone pretends to be nice, and that they really are falling in love. I do however, love the "Women/Men Tell All," because the crazies come back. I also feel like the show gets boring after the hometowns because there are simply not enough people to participate in the insane dates that have nothing to do with building relationships. Wrestling! Boat racing! Gathering of a suitable dowry! Ritual animal sacrifices! You aren't really ready and open for love unless you are willing to face your fears of paganism! Okay, I'm exaggerating. I told you the show gets boring....


Tangent: My sister Laura and I were recently discussing lame excuses people use to justify bad behavior. Things like "I didn't know you felt that way," after being called out for saying something insulting. This excuse implies that most people don't feel bad when being treating poorly, being insulted, etc., and that you are sort of crazy for being upset.

Similar, and used frequently on the internet, is the "I didn't understand the context" excuse. Oh, I didn't know this wasn't a site for insulting the writer, my bad! This excuse implies that the behavior is somehow okay in other contexts, and that the bad behavior was simply a mistake.

I never buy this particular excuse, but my sister said it best with this analogy: "Claiming they didn't understand the context is like saying 'Sorry I pooped on your face, I didn't realize your head wasn't a toilet.' No. Not okay."

Helpful hint for online interactions: there isn't really a context in which face pooping is okay, or nasty online comments.


Obsession: After a disappointing run with watching Make it or Break it on Netflix, I decided Friday Night Lights would be my summer show of choice. Best decision ever. Matt pretending to be his Grandpa to calm down his elderly Grandma! Anything Landry! Tim Riggins! Tami Taylor!

In fact, I think Tami is my favorite character. Behold her response to a whiner student caught cheating:

"It's my job to make sure you don't grow up stupid. It's bad for the world."

Can I commandeer that for my own personal use? Also, "Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose!"








Any confessions, tangents, or obsessions you want to discuss?

7/24/11

we will probably end up feeding them or something

While driving home, stopped at a light, Spouseman and I watch some Elder missionaries cross the street. I quickly avert my eyes. Like whole wheat bread and G rated movies, anything that wholesome makes me immediately uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, Spouseman honks, and leans across me to wave.


The fact that we like each other is a constant reminder of a miraculous God. Miraculous, with a healthy appreciation for situational irony.

7/18/11

Can this soapbox be saved?

A potentially preachy soapbox! Maybe your FHE needs some spice?

On the whole, I'm not a huge fan of gendered statements. The whole "men are from Mars, women are from Venus," stuff. Not because I don't acknowledge differences between men and women, but because I don't see those differences as interplanetary. For example, say we use a scenario oft found in women's magazines:

Woman has a problem.  Men hear about the problem and offer a solution, infuriating the woman who didn't want a solution, just a listener. Enter a bunch of "Can this Marriage be Saved" hijinks, fade out on Lucy and Ricky hugging it out. Lucy promises to tell Ricky how he can best respond to her problem, Ricky promises to listen. Yay!

I understand how that scenario is appealing, and how many, maybe even most, women and men identify with it. So I'm not going to say it isn't valid in some cases. However, I would not go as so far to say that men always want a solution, and women always want a listener. Sometimes men like listeners too, and saying otherwise implies that they are just Tarzan -like doers that must be trained to listen. Sometimes women like solutions, and saying otherwise implies that women aren't solution oriented.

Gendered language bothers me because it easily dissolves into exclusionary language. A person's masculinity or femininity shouldn't be defined by a series of black and white statements.*

Surprisingly though, the previous paragraphs are not my "main" soapbox today. In fact, it is just a cleverly disguised disclaimer for a gendered statement I'm about to make:

(Some)women are mean. We've all watched it on TV (Tina Fey** at least makes it funny,) read about it books, and most importantly, experienced in real life: the girl-on-girl woman-on-woman hate that eats at our souls and makes men call us "crazy."

(Some) women are mean, but I don't think it is an innate behavior. I don't think women are born mean, or that there is something in about double X chromosomes that make us meaner than our XY counterparts. (Evidence: High school, where I've seen boys gossip, and girls sport black eyes.)

I do however, believe that we live in a culture that encourages women to be mean, especially in areas relating to physical appearance. For instance, in my experience, a man calling a woman fat is generally thought of as a pig, but if a girl makes a comment on how "She shouldn't be wearing those pants" well, that's okay. It is especially okay if done in a funny and sarcastic way,  or by a very pretty girl.

Other areas in which it is okay for a woman to pass judgement on a woman's body:

Breastfeeding without a cover (Gross! You're making me feel uncomfortable!)
Pale skin (If you can't tone it, at least tan it!)
Anything over a size four (Ewwww, muffin tops!)
Clothing not found, or at least similar to, clothing found in magazines. (Frumpy!)
Personal Hygiene routines that do not feature razors, waxers, and make-up prominently (It is your job to use these so that men will like you!)
"Immodest" clothing (Slut!)

I know it is socially acceptable to mock these things because I've been guilty of it, and gotten away with it. Past selves have made comments on how she's "let herself go" or "gotten big" or "frumpy." I've said it, but seeing in crop up, and even celebrated in the blogosphere makes it seem less funny than the Means Girls sequel, and more depressing than, well, the Mean Girls sequel.

The idea that our foremothers would fight for control over their own bodies, only to have their granddaughters dissect them on a limited and superficial scale...it is just mean, and it ought to stop. I don't think girls develop negative self-image simply from seeing air-brushed photo on Cosmo, they develop negative self-image from the women who tell them they are failures for not looking like the images they see.

So here's the deal, from now on, I'm not going to-

1. Tell you how often you need to shower, wash your hair, shave your legs, or wax, in order to be "attractive" or even "clean." I will trust that you know your body, and what it wants. This also includes comments about how much or little you need to weigh in order to make me happy.

2. Tell you that your husband, boyfriend, significant other, or partner "deserves" a version of you that requires you to alter your physical appearance. If you want to wear make-up, wax yourself bald, and strut in high-heels, I salute you, but not because it will make your husband happy. Because it makes you happy. Apparently.

3. If you chose not to cover up your body while feeding a baby, I will realize that I too have control over my own body and mind. I can chose whether to see boobs as "awkward" and "gross," or I can chose to see it as natural. Thinking breastfeeding is gross doesn't make it gross. Making comments about how disgusted you are is gross.

After all Lindsay-Lohan-acting-as-Caddy-written-by-Tina-Fey said it best,

"And that's when I realized,making fun of Caroline Krafft wouldn't stop her from beating me in this contest."

So from the vaguely- hippie- liberal -soapboxers- who -sometimes- forget- to- shower to the shower- nazis-grossed-out-by-bus-breastfeeding-moms-plastics: making fun of us won't stop us from beating you in this contest.

What? I said we shouldn't be mean, not doormats.



















* Including statements about providing and nuturing, but you already know how I feel about that.

**Tina Fey is not mean, Regina George is mean.







Controversial post check-list: Gender relations? Check. Breastfeeding? Check. Soapbox? Check. What am I missing, what am I missing? Oh, right: BENTLEY WILLIAMS IS A JERK.

7/12/11

a million billion trillion stars

I'm stuck in an airport for 5 hours. It is time for some poems.

a man who had fallen among thieves, e.e. cummings


a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

fate per a somewhat more than less
emancipated evening
had in return for consciousness
endowed him with a changeless grin

whereon a dozen staunch and Meal
citizens did graze at pause
then fired by hypercivic zeal
sought newer pastures or because

swaddled with a frozen brook
of pinkest vomit out of eyes
which noticed nobody he looked
as if he did not care to rise

one hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.

Brushing from whom the stiffened puke
i put him all into my arms
and staggered banged with terror through
a million billion trillion stars


I memorized a this poem once, at a time where I felt certain my life would consist of nothing but staggering and banging through existence, filled with terror. I found it comforting that if this were true, I at least would do it through the stars. I also really loved the unbuttoned button, personified and "solemnly inert." I've never buttoned an article of clothing the same way after this poem.

I also love the twist on the good Samaritan story. Most of us would help an innocent victim on the side of the road, but it is harder to help the drunk man covered in puke, pink vomit oozing from his eyes.

There have been a great many self-inflicted drunks in my life, and I haven't always chosen to pick them up and carry them through the stars. It is overwhelming, sometimes, to think of having to treat people kindly, not just through a million stars, but through a million billion trillion stars.
And because it is a literary Sophie's Choice to talk about only one e.e. cummings poem, here's another:

a total stranger one black day

a total stranger one black day
knocked living the hell out of me--

who found forgiveness hard because
my(as it happened)self he was

-but now that fiend and i are such
immortal friends the other's each


I like the jumbled words, a result of having "knocked living the hell out of me--" Eventually though, we forgive ourselves, our immortal friend. Despite the fact that our more rational selves, a total stranger on our blackest days, sometimes knock living the hell out of us.

7/7/11

My Planned Parenthood Story: Mormon Child Bride Edition



As many of you know, I got married when I was 20 years old. What most of you may not know is the health insurance battle we went through during our first year of our marriage. We were a few months away from our college graduations, and every single private health insurance company had rejected our applications. Too many pre-existing conditions. Well, one company accepted us, they wanted to charge us an arm and a leg for partial coverage. We were unemployed, uninsured, and uncertain.

A few months into our marriage, my prescription for birth control (the one I had when I was unmarried and insured under my parents,) expired. I couldn't afford birth control without insurance, let alone an annual exam. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood, covering my unease with jokes about driving to the "ghetto" Planned Parenthood in downtown SLC. My unease was rooted in the fear-filled rumors I'd heard growing up in a very conservative environment. Planned Parenthood was dirty, disease-ridden, and determined to force an abortion on every unsuspecting young woman in the valley. I wanted to get in, get my birth control, and get out.

But I was wrong. The people at Planned Parenthood treated me with respect and kindness, more so than many of the doctors who treated me previously, who often lectured me on getting married young, and insulted me for not being "smart enough" to be insured.  In contrast, Planned Parenthood walked me through all my birth-control options, and helped me stay healthy, both emotionally and physically, when no one else would.

When the health-care system rejected me, Planned Parenthood kept me informed, and helped me understand my own body. They helped my husband and I make the best choices for our situation: (young, unemployed, uninsured students.) They got to know me as an individual when insurance companies saw me only as a liability. They didn't care about my pre-existing conditions, they cared about me.

I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in men and women making informed, smart decisions about their bodies and overall reproductive health. I respect any organization with the following mission statement:

Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. We believe that respect and value for diversity in all aspects of our organization are essential to our well-being. We believe that reproductive self-determination must be voluntary and preserve the individual's right to privacy. We further believe that such self-determination will contribute to an enhancement of the quality of life and strong family relationships.


I will be forever thankful to the organization that helped a naive Mormon Child Bride grow into an informed woman who knows how to care for her body. To show my thanks, I will advocate for, vote, and support any person or organization that maintains that right for men and women everywhere. Planned Parenthood For The Win.


This is a post for  the "What Tami Said" Blog Carnival in support of Planned Parenthood. Click HERE
to read more stories from people who are proud to support Planned Parenthood.

7/5/11

some people write the great American novel during their summer vacations...

Turns out, I'm not the most self-motivated person on the planet. I mean, I obviously manage enough to show up to work and not get arrested, but when left with no real deadlines or responsibilities, not much happens. In fact, when people ask me the inevitable "What have you been up to all summer" question, I usually respond with "absodamnlutely nothing." Which makes my righteous friends cringe because of the swear, and my heathen friends cringe because "absodamnlutely" sounds sort of awful.


HOWEVER. I am waaaaaaaay to busy to babysit your kids. Let's get that straight right now.


Anyway, have you seen THIS? I think it is sort of gross. I mean, I'm not exactly queen of political correctness, but altering a dead person's photo to correspond with a semi-inflammatory article about what they would be up to if they had not died young crosses a line for me. Aren't we all glad I found my line of human decency? On one side of the line, we have Mormon douchebags, open criticism of religion, reality TV, general mockery of Republicans, and all manner of things in poor taste,but heaven help us if Newsweek messes with Princess Diana. Line crossed.

I don't want to speculate about what Princess Di would be doing if she was alive because I posses a brain very ill-suited to imaginative play/suspension of disbelief. For instance, there are many things I shun solely because accepting it would require me to change a previous acquired mindset, and that just isn't going to happen. I cannot tolerate: Fan-fiction, remakes of classic movies, replacing any member of the original movie cast in said movie's sequel, digitally remastering anything, and cover songs. I know. I'm a purist. But I really don't care about if Diana and Catherine would get along, because it won't happen. I don't want to read an alternate version of Harry Potter where Dumbledore falls in love with Harry, (if I wanted to read something ridiculous and implausible, I'd re-read Twilight,) and I most certainly don't want to see Zac Efron coming anywhere near Footloose.


I worry sometimes about my inability to accept gray areas in popular culture. I mean, if I can't hypothesize about Princess Diana, why do I frequently want to hypothesize what will happen if Mitt Romney is actually elected ?(Prediction: huge spike in Rogaine sales, men going into salons asking for the "Romney swoop.") Furthermore, why do I always want to hypothesize about past and present changes in the LDS church? I mean, and I ask this sincerely, isn't the whole church just (sometimes) divinely inspired fan-fiction? What would Nephi be doing if he was still alive?


You will have to ponder that intellectual gem on your own. I'm clearly very busy this summer.

6/27/11

An example of the believers...

It should come as no surprise to long-term readers or friends that I struggle with my identity as a Mormon. I've written about things I no longer believe, things that frustrate me,  as well as the things that I love about Mormonism, despite how those things occasionally conflict (but sometimes interact quite beautifully,) with the things I love about other things: feminism, equality, how good a sincerely spoken "damn" feels in moments of annoyance...

I've shared these frustrations in a very public place, and since the very beginning, mixed in with praise and support, the same comment reappears: spoken by different people, but using almost the exact same words. Statements along the lines of " you are giving the Church a bad name," "what if a non-member wants to join the church, and on the day of her baptism, finds your blog and decides not to! Her salvation will be on your head!*" My favorite comment, from a person known only as "Julie"** came in response to my post on Mormon Douchebags-

"Not to be rude but I think that this was very unnecessary and uncalled for. Yes Bentley is an idiot, as are a lot of people out there. But you gave the LDS Church as bad of a name as he did."

I need to write this down so I stop forgetting it: if one starts out a mean comment by saying "Not to be rude," or "No offense," it is guaranteed to be rude. However, it is apparently seen as a socially acceptable way to be rude. Excellent resource for when I'm feeling nasty, but don't want to get kicked out of the Celestial Kingdom.

Either way, to many people, expressing questions, criticisms, or doubts about Mormonism,or a Mormon, means that  I am not acting as "An example of the believers." (Timothy 4:12.)

According to some, a true believer is someone who does not question, speak, or wonder out loud about things that do not seem right to them. Even if something seems wrong, a true believer does not do or say anything about it. A true believer pretends that all is right in the church "world," so that other people will believe the same thing they do. A Mormon can go on national television and treat others unkindly, but if another Mormon comments on it, her words, not his actions are what gives the church "a bad name."

But if we return to Timothy, the scriptures tell us something different: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

I've wondered often about the phrase "Let no man despise thy youth." Especially since it is separated by a semi-colon to the phrase "Be thou an example of the believers." The semi-colon suggests that the ideas are related, but can also stand as independent ideas. What does it mean to despise thy youth?

Looking back at my yearbooks, photos, and even some old journal entries, I can honestly say that moments exist where I "despise" my youth. Truthfully, there are moments from last month in which I despise my youth. I see the mistakes, the lapses in judgement, the stubborn devotion to ideals that no longer ring true.

But in my youth, and hopefully still, I yearned for something better. I believed in an innate potential inside me. Despite all my questions about the LDS church, I still very much believe that someday I can "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father  (and Mother,) which is in heaven is perfect."*** (Matthew 5:48)



The LDS church is also, a "young" church. Consisting of, and led by people still in the "youth" of our full potential. I hope that someday our church can perfectly mirror the gospel of Christ, but I do not think we are there yet. I am not there yet.

Thus Paul, speaking to Timothy, tells us we should not despise our youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

For me, being an example of the believers stems from being honest: in word and conversation, about the things we may "despise" about of youthful indiscretions as a church and a people. Not to despise ourselves, but our errors.

A true believer has charity, the ability to love those who disagree with us, or whose journey through the gospel differs from ours.

A true believer maintains the spirit and faith required to say the things which are difficult, in hopes to make us more pure.

It is true that I am sometimes not the most perfect example of the Believers. Sometimes I am too angry, hurt, or cynical to act in a manner of faith.

However, I am not always an example of the believers because I question, but because I fear the answers with the potential to change how I think.  Patricia T. Holland states "We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection." (“One Thing Needful: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ.” Ensign, October 1987)

 Sometimes I fear the imperfect: in myself, in my church, in the culture I find myself immersed in. It takes courage to be imperfect, but I do not believe the way to alleviate imperfection is to pretend it doesn't exist. The Emperor has no clothes, and pretending otherwise doesn't change it. It does, however, provide a very good recipe for Kool-Aid and Nike shoes.

So let no man despise thy youth, or my youth. After all, "It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are." (e.e. cummings.)






*Slight exaggeration.
** Truly anonymous Julie, not one of my many friends by the same name.
***Feminist addition mine, not King James'.

6/25/11

SLC Art Festival

Pros: Art

Cons: Humanity

Conclusion: Such a shame one cannot exist without the other.

6/24/11

assistance?

If anyone knows how to get the timestamp thing to show up on my blog, you should email me: mormonchildbride(at) gmail (dot) com.

Note: I already tried the basic edit settings stuff, but it still won't show up....

OR If you just hate my blog layout (I do!) and want to tinker with it to improve the general suckiness of it, that would be awesome too.

Otherwise, we are all doomed to mediocrity due to my laziness. Which is fine.

Update: fixed! Thanks, Annike


woot.

6/21/11

"this is the music I will die to"

Greetings, e-travelers.

Here is a list of things I have been thinking about as I am enjoying my summer of fununemployment.


1. Can we all agree to take a break from instagram? I'm starting to forget what the real world looks like. It doesn't look vintage? The sky doesn't look nuclear fallouty in real life? What do regular people look like? Just a break. We can resume normal activities after I remember what reality looks like.


2. My sister and I frequently buy candy together, since she shares my affinity for candy combinations that make normal people sick. Her combination of dark chocolate and knock-off sour patch kids from the dollar bin, and my black licorice coupled with Airheads caused our cashier  much concern. He told us to remember to brush our teeth, and that he no longer had an appetite. He wanted to know if we really eat it all simultaneously. We do.


3. My title today is from the out-takes of tonight's Bachelorette episode. After we are done taking breaks from instagram, can we all acknowledge that the out-takes are always much better than the actual show? Let us cut all the fake drama and strange dates and just watch a bunch of fame whores muck around the house of 6 weeks.  Or lock Bentley and Michelle M. in a porta potty together. You are welcome for the idea, Chris Harrison.

4. I think this is the first post I have ever written where I have said nothing offensive or remotely controversial. It feels boring. I'd feel bad about this, but it must mean I am enjoying my summer.

Fear not, pilgrims, I'm sure something will enrage me shortly.

6/10/11

in the family of things

Wow. Lots of people have thoughts on Bentley, Mormon Douches, and the women who love them.

While it is sort of exciting to get lots of comments, it is also sort of intimidating. What do I say now? I feel like the wedding guest who chimed her glass at the reception, ready to give a speech, only to discover she has nothing more to say.

Or, as wife-beater-wearing commenter raysugarray so aptly stated: "I can't wait for all of this Bentley hype to dissipate so that this pathetic blog will go back to the depths of anonymity where it belongs."

Me too, ray, me too.

Then I realized that my career has already prepared me for this moment. Whenever I want to ensure that 90% of my students will stop listening to me, I bust out the poetry. And not the fun, rhyming, full of blood and guts and bleeding roses and angst poetry. (Teens love them some angst and bleeding roses.) Instead, I bring out the Creative-Writing major, hippie, in tune with your inner tree-hugger, poetry. Even better if said poem has no concrete point. I'm hoping that if I do the same thing on my blog as I occasionally do in my classroom, 90% of you (especially the trolls,) will stop listening. After all, to quote an oft used Bachelorette line, some of you (again, trolls) aren't here "for the right reasons."

I've been thinking about this poem  a lot this past year, and especially towards the end of the school year, what with all the Graduation speech tryouts, and the school board telling students to PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE and FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS. I think it especially applies to my honors students, who have been overachieving for so long that the world must seem like one big AP Calculus exam. Plus, I just really like Mary Oliver.

So, without further ado:

Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Even if you aren't a hippie English teacher, don't you find the idea fascinating?

You do not have to be good.

I keep reminding myself of this every time a lesson plan flops, every time someone logs on to tell me about what a bad Mormon/person/feminist/woman I am, every time I find myself tempted to walk on my knees, repenting for having an opinion that someone else doesn't like. I do not have to be good. My body loves what it loves, and I have a place in the family of things.





That sound you hear? Hundreds of randoms hitting "unsubscribe" simultaneously.












5/31/11

unfortunately, not endangered.

Interntet, are you watching The Bachelorette? You should. Don't worry, you can listen to NPR after if you need to. (Listening to NPR after watching The Bachelorette is like taking the morning after pill after having unprotected sex. Doesn't make having unprotected sex a good idea, but at least you won't get pregnant/permanently annihilate brains cells you may need later.)

Was that too raunchy of an analogy? I don't know anymore. I spend so much time being perfectly neutral and teen-appropriate all day, my filters are wonky. Judging space, should you require it:______________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________


Anyway, for those of you not watching The Bachelorette, let me introduce you to an excellent contestant.







Meet contestant Bentley Williams. Bentley is a 28 year old divorced Mormon, BYU alum ( he has a degree in...wait for it... Family and Consumer Sciences. Just kidding, in Finance.) He has a daughter named Cozy, and an ex-wife who sells headbands on Etsy. Hobbies include general misogyny, being jealous of guys who get more attention than him, hair products, and plaid.

People seem unusually confused by Bentley's behavior on the show,since it is extraordinarily douchey, even by reality TV standards. But it really is not that hard to explain. Bentley is a textbook example of a rare specimen of Mormon maleness known as the Mormonus Douche Maximus, or Mormon Douche.



How can you tell if you or a loved one is dating a Mormon Douche? Here are a few tell-tale signs of the species:





1. Mormon Douches give good face. In public, especially around their significant other, they are often charming, overly-polite, and gregarious. It is only behind your back that the Mormon Douche will rank your physical appearance, try to date your younger sister while simultaneously flirting with you, and text his ex-girlfriend. This can make a MD incredibly difficult to spot, so be on the lookout for other signs.



2. On the surface, MDs appear to be devoted to their religion. They will have served a mission, and will brag about being Zone Leader or AP. (They will not mention that they worked in the President's office solely so that their Mission President can babysit them for two years after catching them making out with the Bishop's daughter.)



While seemingly devout on the surface, they have strange little exceptions made to suit their needs.



For instance, an MD will openly criticize people who watch Modern Family, since it clearly supports a malevolent Gay Agenda. However, they have no problem watching Californication, or anything featuring hot girls, boobs, and bikini's.



3. Likewise, they will assure you that their porn problem is "taken care of," but still be unusually interested in shows produced by HBO. Mysteriously, you will find much from the "Adult Chanel" on their Netflix queue.





4. Naturally, a true MD will major in Finance, Dentistry, Law, or Medicine. He will have average grades, but excess charm, and will temporarily be wildly successful. However, a few failed tests will result in a sudden interest in alarm systems.





5. The MD will promptly quote Church talks or Proclamations that support a woman staying at home with her children, mostly because he doesn't want to have to compete with them in his Macro Economics class, Law School, or Medical School.





6. While MDs can and are often found outside of Provo, the isolated and often inbred species, Mormonus Provoian Douche Maximus will only be interested in dating UVU students, hairstylists, or Nail Technicians. This is not met to degrade any of the previously mentioned females, but simply a reflection of the more insidious characteristics of an MD: they don't like to compete with others, especially their wives. They will actively seek a mate who is perceived to be less intelligent. Bonus points if they actually fulfill the dream.



Allow me to clarify: a true Mormon Douche is highly competitive with other males, but would combust if forced to compete at home. Prolonged interaction with female missionaries, engineering students, and professors (all known by Mormon Douches as "bitches,") would cause his head to explode. Survival instinct and an intense urge to propagate the species makes the successful female a natural enemy to the Mormon Douche.





7. Similar to the trait examined in #5, Mormon Douches are drawn to older Church Doctrine that most find wildly outdated/offensive. He uses quotes and snippets from such talks (Think Packer, McConkie, and Benson,) to support embarrassing beliefs involving racism, homophobia, and general misogyny.





8. Mormon Douches generally fear, and simultaneously admire the Gay Population. They fear them because they sense common ground on certain stereotypical standards: hair, clothing, and gym equipment, the same things they often surreptitiously admire. This causes them to question their masculinity, leading to outbursts involving the words "fag," "queer," an"that's sooooooo gay." They will assure you they do not "mean it."





9. At one point, all Mormon Douches wore pukka shell jewelry.





10. At one point, all Mormon Douches popped their collars, often popped multiple collars, and perhaps tried on their girlfriend's jeans. Just to see.





While sightings of the Mormonus Douche Maximus are frequent, any first hand experience or expertise in contributing to the analysis of this fascinating species is welcome in the comments. Good luck, Ashley H., you were doomed the day you signed up for Dental School.


5/23/11

toast spiders

Things I Enjoy


1. Articles and magazine columns that tell me things about myself based on seemingly minimal character traits paired with broad generalizations. Oh, hello there, magazine. I DO in fact style my hair the same way every day. That means I am a genius who prefers to focus on saving the world? That is why I rock the bob? I had no idea. I thought I was just lazy.

Tiny character trait + broad generalization= contented reader Child Bride. I wear red, I am passionate. I wear black, I am mysterious. I prefer watermelon to cantaloupe= I am great in bed. Really? I love you, magazines.

I especially like that the magazines will never tell you something bad about yourself. What if I start wearing my hair differently? Never fear, that just means you are a creative free spirit who sees her body as a work of art. Oh. Good. I was worried. You wear yellow? You are a sociopath. Just kidding, you are friendly and good in bed.


All of them seem to go back to that, I’ve noticed.


2. I enjoy pretty, pretty designy blogs and fashion blogs so long as they don’t attribute a sense of morality to certain design trends. I do not like pretty, pretty design blogs that try and tell me things about myself based on minimal yet broad generalizations. You have a sweater from Anthropologie? That does not mean you are a creative free spirit. It means you had $90 bucks of disposable income. I reject design/fashion blogs that make consumerism a personality type.


I’m not saying the correlation does not exist, because hippies buy Subarus, not Suburbans, and for a reason, I’m saying I don’t want to read about it. I don’t want to read about how wearing a vintage apron from etsy will make me feel more feminine. I like the photo of the potted orchids, but it does not inspire me. Just show me the picture, for hells sakes.

This is getting sidetracked and muddled, let us go back to things I like.


3.I enjoy feeling superior to people who made different life choices than me, and are therefore less successful. Especially if those people tormented me in junior high. This makes me a bitch, but a successful one.

(I enjoy that feeling until the guilt starts seeping in under the cracks of my bravado. Fortunately, this is usually when I am humbled by a group of angry teens who don’t understand why I keep trying to make them read things. The universe finds a way of balancing itself, does it not?)

4. I enjoy Ray Bradbury. I would venture to say that Ray is one of my very favorite authors, which seems to shock people. Like I am supposed to say Shakespeare or Milton, who I also love. But there is something about Ray Bradbury’s accessibility (his characters swear when they stub their toes, no need for a dramatic monologue when a “damn” will suffice,) coupled with that heart achingly beautiful language:

“Montag’s hand closed like a mouth, crushed the book with wild devotion, with an insanity of mindlessness to his chest. The men above were hurling shovelfuls of magazines into the dusty air. They fell like slaughtered birds and the woman stood below, like a small girl, among the bodies.”

See?

Not to mention all the inventions. A nursery that comes alive and eats the parents! Automated houses that make pancakes until it collapses upon itself! Talking cars! I always tell my students that while most of our technology has caught up to Bradbury’s imagination, I am still waiting for Apple to create a tiny mechanical spider to make my toast, and little brass cockroaches to clean my floors.

What do you enjoy?

5/13/11

as we all know...

blogger sucks and deletes things. Like your comments. So let us just all agree that no one should be named Mckenzie, and be done with it.

5/11/11

mckenzie

We need to stop naming our kids Mckenzie. Or any variation Mckensie, Mckensey, Mckenzeeee, etc. Because I have at least three of them in each class, and it is getting confusing. Unless you want your child mentally labeled as Blonde Mckenzie, Ginger Mckenzie, Mean Mckenzie, Nice Mckenzie, Hates Reading Mckenzie, Mckenzie-looks-like-a-girl-I-knew in high school, Mckenzie-looks-like-a-girl-I-knew in college, etc. Also, it is really hard to grade a paper simply labeled as "Mckenzie" when ALL THE MCKENZIE'S HAVE THE EXACT SAME CHEERLEADER HAND-WRITING.

Is there a special camp where cool and popular girls go to learn the official hand-writing? It must be invitation-only, and fairly intensive. Do you get kicked out of the club if you slip out and use your natural writing?

Girls, it is really hard to grade what appears to be nothing but repeated heart-shapes and stick figures.


I'm sorry if your name is Mckenzie. I will grandfather you into the system immediately, it is a very nice name.



Before you get mad, remember that I am no stranger to adding my last initial to my first name to distinguish myself. Growing up, I was always Stephanie N. I share my maiden name with a Utah celebrity (prompting me to change my maiden name to my husband's because I was tired of people emailing me to see if I had been in a plane crash.)

Moral of the story: (besides the fact that there is no real point to this post?) I'm starting to think names like "Apple," and "Moxie Crimefighter" aren't so bad.

5/3/11

list makers.

Guys- 4.5 weeks of school left. I think I might make it. I am at the stage where I consciously force myself not to think about summer too much. I'm afraid if I think about it for more than two minutes, I will walk out of the building and never come back.


Thus, a few things I think about to occupy my mind.


1. Signs your student is raised by fascist Glen Beck worshipers: His self-starter for today talked how he wishes it was Obama instead of Osama. (Oh! What a clever joke! I haven't heard that 1,000 times in the past 2 days!) His other self-starters are all about how everyone on welfare is mooching off the government! He has a right to bear arms and shoot illegal immigrants! They are invading his property as a tax payer! Speaking of taxes.....


I sigh, roll my eyes, and hope he doesn't end up in my ward someday. Or the state legislature.




2. Vampire Diaries. There seems to be a lot of sequences when people get drunk, listen to loud music, and dance. Usually alone. Does this strike anyone else as odd? I mean, I get that drunken debauchery happens, but it will be all ACTION ACTION ACTION, and then we will pause for a five minute intermission in which one of the extremely attractive characters dances around drunk. Also, they dance so very sexily. Which, as we have previously discussed, does not bother me, but in this case it seems kind of pointless. No one is watching. All the other characters are busy trying to kill Klaus. Why try? Oh wait. No one is watching, except a bajillion TV viewers.

Aren't you glad I updated my blog today with that riveting commentary?



3. Annoyance: When you disagree with someone on a spiritual topic, and they advise you to pray about it. That is not the annoying part, the whole believing-God-still-speaks part.

The annoying part is the motive. Like they haven't considered that you might have already prayed about it and still disagree. You have issues with gender inequality in the church? I don't. Pray about it. It will go away. Also works for being gay, a democrat, and acne.

In my admittedly limited life experience, praying doesn't usually make deep issues of the spirit (or acne,) go away, but you figure out how to deal with it. I'm sure there are some miraculous exceptions.

However/Likewise, I hate it when people tell me that they USED to have issues, but prayed about it, and then those issues went away, and therefore their experience should be enough for me. I testify that my opinion on this is right. Therefore, you should not have issues anymore.

What if I prayed about it and got a different answer?

I'm sensing that I'm going to get lots of comments on what people meant when they say things like that, or that they have had issues of the spirit taken away via prayer, or analyze my wording to the point that it becomes irrelevant.

All I'm saying is that to assume that dissatisfaction in the church stems from the idea that someone just forgot to pray about it is sort of silly. It makes it seem like gospel questioners are just little kids with tummy aches. Your tummy hurts? Have you eaten something? No? Oh you silly goose, go eat some cereal and you'll feel better.


You thought you were going to get out of here without a religion lecture. HA.



I have nothing else to add here. This is where you come in.