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 and being a Hillary supporter.

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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

School Lunch

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:
Christopher and I have this deal for the mornings: I make the breakfast, he makes the kid's school lunches. I guess you could say that's the MO of our marriage--trades and negotiations. For instance, last night I wanted a back rub so I traded one-for-one. I got a ten minute back rub and gave Christopher a ten minute back rub. You might think this paragraph gets saucy at this point, but instead I'll disappoint you by saying it was not a fair deal. In a marriage where one partner consistently does things far better than the other, I have found sadly, that my few winning strengths includes a good back rub.

I give a better back rub.

This does not benefit me much.

At first when we struck this breakfast/school lunch deal I was a bit disappointed in myself for not campaigning harder for the school lunch duty. I can cook, in fact, I am not a bad cook, but hot griddles and gooey messes are not always kind. For instance, I have never made an egg I was proud of. But I have found a bit of creative pursuit in my morning breakfast adventure. Yesterday I made cheese and herb biscuits with a side of scrambled eggs (like yellow lumps of coddled dairy, but still edible) and it was a big hit with the second grader.

Are these essays the reasons why people keep unsubscribing to my blog?

(Just 4 people have unsubscribed since I started writing again, but I'm sensitive that way.)

In the afternoons when the kids come home I always make a first responder's effort to dig into their backpacks for traces of their day. An art project, a wadded flier about a pumpkin maze, a trinket or rock usually, homework, books and their lunch box. I spill the contents of their lunch box out on the kitchen counter every day and examine the evidence. Sandwiches are sometimes intact, untouched. Grapes are missing one or two off their vines. The treats bags are always vacant except that one time CK proudly admitted his homemade brownie. And then I feel a wave of frustration. Why aren't these kids eating their lunches? What kind of trade deals are going down on the floor of the school's kitchen cafeteria? Are my children, (oh please say no) asking other kids if they can have their lunch stuffs?

We let them dictate what they want in their lunches. We ask for details. So the uneaten portions of their meals are perhaps more of a mental mystery than a one of sensitive palate.

After I comb through the evidence I report my findings to CK. And then I don't worry about it after that because I have breakfast to make the next morning.

I was never really great at solving mysteries. Or making eggs.

But you should feel the way my can thumbs penetrate the base of the neck in circular motions.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Your Most Important Hair Moment

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

Perhaps this very day was my most important hair moment. I don't know. Time will tell.

I was cleaning up the den, throwing away bygone masterpieces from the art table and stacking books which will be unstacked by sunset. In the middle this work Erin came to me with a comb and scissors in her hands.

"Cut my bangs right now please," she demanded as her brown wispy bangs blew and tickled her eyelids.

I knew it was time for a trim, but I was going to get to that...when I could...

"I can't stand them anymore. And make them super short."

Erin and I have gone the rounds with her bangs for most of her hairful life. There was a couple years when she was hairless--a Kendrick baby trait I came to know intimately through the years. She has a long forehead--the perfect size and shape for a display of bangs. (I spend a lot of time wishing I had what I gave my children.)

But here we were.

"Could you give me a second? I'm just..." I tried to divert.

"No. Now." She had actually gotten so tired of her bangs that she interrupted a playdate and came home from a friends house while they were pretending princesses. Now here she stood in a puffy pink dress, a tiara and some bedazzled flip flops making a royal demand.

And yes, I am so grateful she knows to ask and not do the cutting herself. But that's because she's picky and likes to have things done correctly.

So I picked up the comb and the scissors and I started cutting those bangs. The bangs I've cut for years. Like gardener to his dahlias I have cared and grown those bangs, pruning and shaping year-after-year. Only today she insisted they go short. Short. Short!

Parenthood is nothing but walking the tiny line between having the final say and letting them decide for themselves.

So I cut them short. Short. Short. Partly because I want her to feel she has ownership when it comes to making choices for her body. But also because I don't want looks to be a battle between us. Ever.

When we were done she ran to the mirror and declared victory. I was happy for her. But also, anxious because will she now be the kid with weird bangs? I mean, I've given up on trying to dress her, she's very into a certain Herdman Child chic and I have played it up like it was her vibe is cool with me. But these bangs? Man, I don't know.

And then when it was time to go to preschool a few hours later, I remembered it was picture day. Right? Picture day! On this very day! So we dressed her in a cute little flowered dress, and matching shoes and I took her hair into the loving embrace of my straightener. And those short bangs did all the talking.

But she was so happy. When we dropped her off at preschool she strutted inside like she wasn't pretending to be a princess anymore, she was a princess. A princess who was about to sit for a portrait...that will likely hang in our house for awhile...that she will fondly look at for the rest of her life. And out of my head came images of school pictures-- those awful perms, awkward ponytails, bangs gone bad, and a lifetime of blaming my mother for clearly not caring for me at some of my most important hair moments in history. (Editors note: she tried, I honestly have impossible hair and no genetic skills for hair craft. As this blog has documented.)

I drove away with this letter in my head.

Dear Erin,

I sincerely love everything about you. In many ways I wish I were more like you. You're smart and funny. You have energy I envy. I love your style and particular-ness about all areas of your life. I wish I were as particular as you. Today you asked me to cut your bangs super short. So we took off the blue tiara you were wearing and a shiny sticker you had put on your luscious forehead, and we cut those bangs as short as you requested. And then you went to preschool picture day and had your picture taken with your class. In case you are reading this sometime in the future, please know you were super happy with those bangs. And I was happy for you.

I'll always be happy for you.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

I am a decision-making junkie. If I am not making decisions I feel very smothered and suspicious and I worry that a decision I am not making is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Whenever I get stressed or overstimulated my only recourse is to make decisions. I go to some place quiet like my room or the bathroom (for like 4 minutes) and I go through my decisions and then I make a choice and at that point I can return to whatever I was doing with a slice of resolve.

The problem with this (and any under-balanced coping mechanism) is that sometimes I over-decide. I will over-analyze and obsesses over methodology. I get about twenty steps ahead of myself on occasion. This happens mostly when I am planning things--like family adventures or civic events.

This is a problem because I stop taking care of myself emotionally and physically. I am so present in the decisions and so absent in my actual life that when the events or adventures are over I am a shell of a human for weeks. Then slowly the blood spools back into my body and I revive and carry on.

The good news is that I do this less and less in my life. Mostly because I've stopped caring about so many things I once cared deeply about. Like for instance how I look. But I still have a long way to go. Don't we all?

But right now Erin is begging me for some attention and so I will make a decision to stop writing about this and go make her lunch.

Grilled cheese or peach smoothies with toast?

 And so it goes.

Losing Things

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

Iris' yellow spoon (why didn't I buy two sets?)
My battle of composure in a community that fights public transportation
My geometric gold earring from Darlybird, the pair wore every day until they broke up and one took off for a better life (is the story I say in my head).
Brown strands of hair (but I'm discovering new silver strands so it's ok).
My temper with September flies in my basement. As I write. Like right now.
My attention to almost anything that lasts longer than 10 minutes. (10? Maybe more like 7?)
My guilt about "screen time".
The bottoms to those piggy pajamas, size 3, very soft fabric.
My silver flip flop, jelly, sparkly, I've had them for years and in the fall I carefully put them away in a box and slip them out in the spring. Did this pair also break up...wait...

Oh my gosh. Did my silver jelly flip flop run away with my geometric gold Darlybird earring?

Mixing metals. Such rebels.

Good for them.