Thursday, September 28, 2017

On Church & Zion

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A year ago this month I stopped going to church. I don't really want to write much about that. In some ways my life is much better and some ways it's the same, but for the most part it's not really remarkable. It's just a choice. I am still the same person and I am still happy sometimes and sad other times and whatever.


A couple months ago I turned 40 and it's been the best thing I have ever done for myself. I turned 40 and accepted that I am a gender justice warrior. That's who I am. That's my passion. My goal in life is to make this world better for women. Now when I meet someone I let them know that's pretty much the beginning and end of me. If you like sexism or misogyny you'll probably find I am not a fun hang. 

Sometimes I feel shame that I am so passionate this subject, because as it turns out, there are other subjects to be passionate about. I promise I will not passion shame you, please don't passion shame me.

I also sometimes feel shame for the boundaries I draw around my fight with misogyny. A lot of my friends who are just as passionate as I am about sexism still go to church. Not because they don't see it, but because they do see it and they feel they can do some good. As for me, it just makes me angry and I find myself glaring at men in Sunday School who make stupid comments. It's just best for all of us if I brunch out on Sundays. I am good with that. Hope you are too.

And even if you aren't good with that, whatever. That's your thing, and I will respect your devotion with space between us. Because that space is a sacred divide that keeps us both safe, let's be grateful for it.

Because in the end, the world will still spin and I will still carry on as a somewhat over-emphatic but always sincere gender justice warrior and the sun will set and the seasons will turn and slowly slowly slowly I think things will change and hopefully you'll get to see the day when your passion is realized, and I hope the same for me. When my daughters aren't tone-policed and my son understands that "fair" isn't about what people get, but about where people come from, and I will never have to apologize again for standing up for voiceless women even at my own peril--on that day I will enter into Zion.

Enter into Zion--not by church, but by passion. 

It feels good to write again.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Just Swell

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It has been too long since I've written, unrusty and well-oiled, to describe what I feel when my body gets near the San Rafael Swell. I think I have tried and I come off sounding somewhere between totally stoned and possibly manic--which, I may say, its probably not a bad place to be. But the land does something prime to me, what I imagine people feel when they "come home". I think about those rocks, deep canyons, empty vistas, strange formations and my inner emotive system become anxious with desire and exhilaration.

I think I might be in love?

When I am not there I'm quite often in bed with a yellow highlighter and my withered map--tracing all the lines my eyes haven't absorbed in real life. Not just the swell, but the Delta desert, and the carves of the Colorado River, the muddy channels of the inexplicably named Green River, and the high elevations of the Flaming Gorge region. There is so much to do.

And so little time?

I do quite often feel like I am running out of time.

Along that stretch of treeless land from northern Utah into Wyoming on your way to Bear Lake there are historical markers and every time I pass one without stopping in every little town (Woodruff, Randolf, I see you and I love you) I feel an ache. The older I get the hungrier I am to know about places--how the marriage between geology and weather produces a progeny of plants, animals and people.

I have stood in ancient lake beds, sifted sands of a million years, grazed petrified wood, picked shiny black obsidian from pastoral watering holes in the west desert, felt the whoosh of the thin air in the alpine country of my own backyard.

Alone, these adventures are enough, but I get to share them with the man I love and the children we created. And all together, it is more than enough.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Before the Longest Night of the Year

I woke up yesterday to my son touching my arm.

"Will you come and lay down by me?" he asked. The sky was dark and I checked my clock. Early.

Sometimes the earliest mornings are the greatest gifts to an anxious soul. So I took advantage.

"Yes, let me grab my journal and I'll write."

It had been nine months since I had written last. I tried to write everything down I find significant in my life right now. And then I thumbed through the last few years of my life.

2013: I feel a strange loneliness

A strange loneliness indeed. I was born with it and it followed me around like a childhood dog. And here I am, still well-acquainted with this feeling. Comes and goes. I take note of its presence and absence. I'm sure this blog is full of posts about this sentiment, this friend (I guess?) I've carried with me forever.

There is no cure for this--it is what it is. It is me. I think maybe, some of us thinkers think through tunnels so deep that there are few who can understand (at least that's what we think)(I suspect we're just not advanced enough in language to communicate this experience). It's strange to be in those places, and it's lonely. Strange and lonely.

And the loss of light on the earth doesn't help.

But because Anson gave me the gift of an early morning, and after he was settled back down, I took it outside to a still, ashy pre-dawn. I slipped into the hot tub and kept my eye on the white mountains just east of me. In a few moments the top of Cascade Mountain flashed a pinky-orange and clouds moved in trails towards the Wasatch Back. Light from the top of Slate Canyon appeared and the sky turned into a melted pastel Popsicle-yellows, pinks, blues. The pines on Y Mountain appeared like black statues standing watch over the the sunrise. The fir tree to the south filtered in a warm light, past the steel grass and into the hot water where I sat.


It is a reprieve for the strange loneliness.

And I was grateful for it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

To Erin on Turning Five

Your face when we surprised you on your fifth birthday party will remain in my mental storage for a very long time. You asked for a party with all your friends but we told you because you have that fate (as some humans do) of being born on a rotating holiday (Thanksgiving) we weren't able to do a party this year. "Thanksgiving will be your party this year Squish." It was too easy. Except the part where your face would go long and sad. It was only bearable because secretly dad was scouring pinterest for party games and making TOP SECRET birthday invitations.

I may have been the parent, dressed in pink for your honor, dancing with ten little girls to Katy Perry remixes during Freeze Dance but you should know Dad did a lot of the work. I arranged for Emily, Olivia and Maggie to come and help. They did the nail salon and the candy necklaces. (Grandma woke up super early to stealthily collect a heap of candy with holes at the store!) And of course we had to have the face painter come--you live for a great spray of art on your face. This one was remarkable, transformed you into a blue fairy with jewels and flowers. It could've stayed on your face for days except, well, Thanksgiving dinner the next day required a decorum of sorts.

Your birth and its anniversaries have a curious effect on me, Erin. With every year added to your personal resume, I become more aware of life. By that I mean I feel a sense of awakening--deeper as you grow. It can be both freeing and painful. Freeing because I can peel off layers of shame and expectation that I have heaped upon me in my life. Painful because it can also feel remarkably exposing, raw and lonely. I wish I could explain this better, but maybe you'll read this one day and not need any further explanation, you'll just know how I felt.

And if not, that's ok.

I do want to say something absolute. It's this: you came to earth for a reason...because we wanted you. Your Dad and I wanted to love you. I remember feeling so ornery and tired and I took a pregnancy test in the blueish green bathroom upstairs and when it confirmed that I was pregnant I was so thrilled, I felt buzzy. I took the stick downstairs and tossed at Dad who was sitting crossed legged on the floor with Ever and Anson. He said something like, "Well, there it is."

You'll probably find thousands of reasons why you are alive. Hundreds and thousands of reasons. And they can all be true if you want them to be. If they make you feel strong and purposeful, please gather them up. Have a huge, colorful collection of reasons why you are here, but please don't for get the very first reason: because we wanted you.

Maybe someday you'll also be 39 and you'll be awaking up and fumbling and looking around for clues and searching in science and consciousness and faith to tell you why you are here. And maybe you'll read this and realize the answer is far more simple than you thought.

And the truth is: you're even better than I could've imagined. I am so glad you came.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Just Before I Vote

It would be really weird if, in twenty years or so, my posterity reads my blog and wonders why in the world I didn't write one post about this election.

So here it is.

In about an hour Chup and I are going to take our Erin and Iris to the Rec Center so we can vote early. Voting early is on my list of life hacks.

This is the first time Utah is considered a "swing state" although it's not really. It will go GOP whether that's Trump or Evan McMullin. Even still, we've had flirting from the DNC and that feels good. And weird. And exciting.

Because of this election I got to chat with Scott Simon on NPR and talk to NYC Mag's The Cut about being a Mormon feminist. I also got to host an intimate chat with Ann Holton, married to Tim Kaine--Hillary's pick for VP. And that was lovely. In a sunny room off of capitol hill in SLC, we chatted about life and work balance, faith and Hillary Clinton's platform for women.

Oh yes, that's right, I'm with her.

Being with her in a state that has an unwritten pledge to hate all things Hillary Clinton means that you are in jeopardy of losing your social status in certain circles. I have sort of approached everything with a "burn in all to the ground" attitude. Sexism does that to me. Maybe it's my approaching 40th birthday and lifelong frustration with patriarchy, but this election has made me pretty bold.

I know she's a flawed candidate. I can see how people don't trust her. I get that she's not likeable (in the way you want women to be likeable). But her fight feels so personal to me. She's had to fight like hell and she's still standing--and that's important to me because I've never seen it done before. And I need to see it done. What will we gain from a nation full of women who fight and stay strong and don't give up until their voices are heard from the very, very top? We don't know. But I am willing to bet it's going to be radical, transformative and ultimately healing.

She understands women's health (in all its complications and strata) and children's justice, and cares about taking care of the earth. Those are my three things-women's bodies (all women, all consent, all bodily autonomy, all mental wellness, all body acceptance, but especially women who are marginalized, silenced, unseen and unprotected), children's access to resources (but especially children who don't have resources), and the earth.

Of course there are more, but everything pretty much boils down to those three things.

It's been lonely. I have a few dear friends, and a few family members here in Utah who I have been able to reach out to when things have gotten rough. Many times Mormonism has mingled with the political and that brings on a tidal wave of frustration for me. The sexism has been awful. The sexual assault stories have been hard to read (but important) because they reach for memories I've tried to leave behind.

It's time to look at our sexism, America. Time to stop defending patriarchal practices. Time to usher in the season of equality. Time to examine the racism and ableism we were all baptized in from generations before us.

I am going to vote for Hillary today,  but I am not ignorant of what that means. It means it's about to get messy in America. On top of the racial tensions burning already, we're about to add gallons of misogyny. And if we don't come out better and on top of all this, then maybe we really aren't the special country we always believed we were.

But I am a believer. I believe. And I am going to vote like a believer today.

And then I am going to get to work.