December 31, 2006

Weenis of the Week

I've been behind on posting a Weenis of the Week lately. I finally found something I feel is worthy of weenis status.

The fool who actually TRIED USING A CURLING IRON TO CURL THEIR EYELASHES, prompting the necessity of having to label every single curling iron ever manufactured, is a WEENIS.

The worst part of this stupidity is knowing the curling iron company probably got sued and had to pay a huge settlement to the weenis who did this to themselves.

The second worst part is knowing that I won't be taking this label off of my own curling iron. And I don't know why.

December 28, 2006

I forgot to mention a few things...

The weeks before Christmas were so busy for me with finishing portraits and then cramming Christmas shopping, wrapping, and preparation into one week, that I didn't have time to post on a few interesting happenings.

My son was asked by my boss to come work on a Saturday with the guys as they took advantage of the nice weather to do a concrete pour on one of our jobs. I warned him to not complain, and to work hard, because someday soon he may want to try working construction during the summers to make more money than he would if he worked a fast food job someplace, for instance. His job was to set pins or something, I'm not sure. After his shift, I asked him how it went and if he had fun and worked hard. He said it went well.

He said there was a big silence while they worked, so he said to my co-workers, "So, did my mom tell you we're not Mormon anymore?"

I had to laugh. Trust J. to create an awkward moment just for the fun of it. He said none of them knew (religion just doesn't pop up in conversation much) and some of them talked about Mormons a of my co-workers has some family who are Mormon who ask him to attend things and to read the Book of Mormon regularly. He just says no. The next Monday, only one of my co-workers mentioned J. had said that. I said, "Yeah, I learned some stuff about the history and origins of Mormonism that didn't impress me, and that they never teach you about, so I decided it just isn't for me." He just shrugged and chuckled. Like I said, religion doesn't really enter our conversations around here much.

I wondered if my boss (whom I interact with most at work) was there that Saturday to hear my son's admission. I asked him if he had heard J.'s comment, and he said no, and I just explained the same thing, that I found stuff out and just didn't want to keep supporting a church that hides such stuff from its membership. He just said, "Huh. Interesting." It hasn't changed anything for me at work. They respect me as a worker, not as a Mormon.

Another interesting thing happened. I took my kids shopping at Target and when we walked in there was a family from my ward standing there. I said hi and smiled and wished them a Merry Christmas and moved on. In the toy section, I saw some kids from a large family in my ward. One boy was brought to me by his sister, and she prompted him to say, "Hi Sister Frank!" I smiled and told him how good it was to see him, and asked him if he was ready for Christmas to get here. He was one of my favorites in primary. Cute little white haired boy.

Then I walked around the corner a few minutes later and there stood my bishop and his wife. I smiled a huge smile and walked up to them, and we talked about Christmas and their daughter who's having her first baby, and basic small talk. They were very kind, and it was nice to talk to them. Apparently there had been a ward party that evening at someone's house, where each family adopted a family in need from the shelter, and bought their Christmas for them. That explained why so many from the ward were there shopping. I saw two more acquaintences from church and said hi in passing after that.

A few days later, I was standing in line at the post office in the doorway where people had to pass me to get out. One person turned away from the counter and it was a teacher in primary. I smiled at her as she recognized me, and she said, "Hi! I haven't seen you in a while!" I said, "No, I haven't been there in a while." She just said, "Oh...Merry Christmas!" and I returned the greeting and that was that.

And now, my good friends from my old ward (4 years ago) have invited us over to dinner. We get together about twice a year, and it's that time again. Our families became close because 1. he was my bishop for years in that old ward, 2. she and I were visiting teaching partners for years, 3. we are the same age, 4. she and I worked in the primary presidency together for years, and 5. he was my home teacher for maybe 5 years, even before he became bishop. He is the only home teacher I've had who ever actually took the time to get to know us well.

He was my bishop in whose office I sat with my husband, and whom I cried my guts out in front of because I'd just been blindsided with the church's rule that my non-member husband had to give me his permission in writing in order for me to attend the temple to take out my endowment. I don't think I've ever felt more humiliation than I did that night, there in front of my friend, being denied permission for something that was really important to me.

I wonder if they know that I'm not going to church anymore. If they do, they may ask me about it. If they don't, surely this question will come up in conversation: "So what calling do you have now?" and I will tell them, "I don't have one...because I don't go to church anymore."

This could be very interesting.

December 26, 2006

The rest, as they say, is history.

You seemed to demand want a continuation of my history that was prompted by my memories of the BYU Honor Code that I wrote about before due to Pete's tag. So here it is, without further ado...

I discovered I was pregnant, and I was alone at BYU with 5 roommates from Utah. I knew the next few months would not be fun.

I had missed a period the month before, and since I wasn't exactly regular anyway, and since we had used condoms, I just figured the reason was due to my stress and depression over two things: 1) the guy I loved had moved back home to Chile for good, and 2) I found out my mom had re-married my dad without telling anyone first.

I was so sad and listless once he left. I didn't want to do anything. I went to class, did homework, worked, ate, slept. I was way more tired than usual, but anyone who has been depressed knows this is common. Little did I know that the tiredness was due to the changes going on inside my body.

A few weeks after he left, I got a devastating phone call from my sister. I remember standing in the kitchen and answering the phone. Her first words were, "Mom didn't come home last night, none of us knew where she was, and today she called to tell us that she and dad got married." I immediately started crying and wailing "Noooooo. Ooooooohhh, noooooo. Oh sweetheart, I'm soooooo sorry." My sister and I were bawling to each other on the phone, because we knew. We knew. This was horrible. One of my roommates came running and thought someone close to me had died. It felt exactly as if someone had.

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. My dad was a traveling salesman who was gone about 5 days of every week. Life was good while he was gone, then he'd come home and we'd find ourselves walking on eggshells all day, holding our breath, waiting for the inevitable axe to fall. Life sucked until he'd leave again. He was the most controlling, anal, compulsive man I've ever known. He was emotionally (and at times physically) abusive to all of us, although some got it more than others. I was one of the (lucky) ones he didn't abuse as bad. My mom would often confide in my brother and me (we were the two oldest) about her unhappiness and wishes for divorce, and we would beg her to do it, to no avail.

She finally did it after I got home from Austria and went away to BYU. I know it was a struggle for her to be alone, and I've learned over time that she's simply someone who isn't completely happy alone. She had a hysterectomy after the divorce, and I think she was feeling weak and down, and he took advantage of her weak moment and that was all it took. I was seriously devastated. I have five younger brothers and sisters whom I knew would end up being the ones most hurt by this...She didn't tell anyone beforehand, because she knew she was doing it against better judgement, and without our support. I think she also knew we'd be able to talk her out of it if she told us in advance. I remember going out to my car after the phone call and sobbing harder than I'd ever cried in my life. I have never felt so helpless in my life as I did right then.

So, after the trauma of these two events in my life, it was just icing on the cake to go to work and find myself sick over the smell of barbecue sauce. The day after work, I drove to a store far from anyplace my roommates or I shopped, and bought myself a home pregnancy test. I took it back to my apartment in a brown paper bag.

It read Positive

Next day, different store, different brand, different paper bag.

Same results.

Up until now I hadn't even had my first visit to the gynecologist. I had no idea what to do. I drove to Planned Parenthood. They gave me another pregnancy test and helped me determine how far along I probably was. My dad's words kept running through my head like a mantra: "Any of you who comes home pregnant is no daughter of mine."

It was a full two months before I got up enough nerve to make a phone call to my brother, Eric. He commented this about my first BYU post:

WOW! Although I knew most details of this story, I can't help but feel like I was reading one of the books you or Mom used as an "escape" prior to you taking up art once again! My Pavlovian instinct was to speed to the "good parts" until I remembered I was reading about my little sister!! SHUDDER!!! HaHa!

As for your potty mouth. I believe it was your Utah County assimilation that helped you break your little news to me:

Lisa: "oh my HECK eric! you are a crack up!"
Eric: "Wow! Did you just say OH-MY-HECK! Utah has made you so Molly!"
Lisa: "What do you mean by that?"
Eric: "NO ONE says oh my heck unless you are totally Molly! You're just so - GOOD!"
Lisa: "You don't know me that well"
Eric: "Pshaaaa, NO ONE knows you better than me."
Lisa voice starting to shake: "Eric, I'm not THAT good."
Eric, confused by the sudden change of tone: "Whatever Lisa, you're the most Molly - EVER!" Desperately trying to lighten the mood.
Lisa: "No Eric, you don't know but I'm not good like you think."
Eric: "Why? What makes you not good?"
Lisa: "I've done things?"
Eric: "Ummm, WHAT kind of things?"
Lisa: "The WORST thing you CAN do Bwwwaaaah!" "And I think I'm pregnant."
Eric: "Ohh, Lisa. It's going to be alright."

Note that I called Eric first. We were best friends our whole lives, and I think he knows me better than probably anyone. By this time I was almost 3 months along, and I knew that soon I'd start to show, and I'd have to get out of there. I knew that I couldn't maintain my status at BYU and be an unwed mother. So I had to go home and start over. After calling Eric at his apartment, I phoned home, and of course my dad answered, and he put Mom on the phone too. I broke the news to them as best as I could around my feelings of shame and horror at what I'd done. (Remember I'm only describing how I felt at the time, I don't find it shameful now that I look back). My parents were shocked but they agreed it was best if I came home, and we'd figure it all out together.

I went to the BYU offices and told them I was quitting for medical reasons, and it was fairly easy. I had some thought in my mind that maybe they'd see through my lie and I'd be exposed. But nothing like that happened.

I told all my roommates some inane lie about needing help financially and that I was backing out of school for the time being to go home until I could get back to school.

And I went home. I don't recall really if my parents drove down to pick me up, or if it was Eric...he'd remember. That whole time was a big blur to me.

Once I returned home, I lived with my parents and they were pretty supportive while I decided what I was going to do. I got a job doing the books part time at Albertsons, a job which I did until about 7 years ago. My dad was a lot more vocal in his disgust that some "creep" would get me pregnant...he really hated him for doing that to me. He was so vocal about it I finally had to say something like, "Um, Dad, you do recognize that I also played a part in getting pregnant, right? It takes two... If you feel that way about him, then you must feel that way about me. If so, just say it." He finally quit the snide comments.

I made an appointment with my bishop. The minute I sat down and he asked me, "What can I do for you?" I started sobbing and it all came out...I was pregnant and needed to repent. He was very kind and understanding. I got one year formal probation which meant no callings, and no partaking of the sacrament for one year. I agreed. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Looking back, I feel so sorry for bishops who are kind like he was. I would HATE having people confess that kind of thing to me, expecting me to judge them.

All my life I've felt like that sin and repentance process brought me closer to Jesus, for I had experienced the worst suffering I'd ever felt, and afterward it was easy for me to imagine Jesus bleeding from every pore for my sins. If he felt that anguish I felt, times all the people throughout the history of the world, then that was huge indeed.

I struggled with wondering if I was good enough to be a single parent of a baby. I wondered if it was less selfish of me to give my baby up for adoption rather than subject him to the stigma of being a "bastard" and being raised by only one parent who may or may not be good at parenting alone. I had to consider my own parents and I sincerely worried I'd be just like them. I saw a poster for LDS Social Services at church, and I scheduled an appointment with the social worker. I told myself that it was wisdom to look at all my options before making a decision. That way I could choose with full knowledge, and would never wonder later if I had made the right choice.

He was kind, and explained the procedure to me. They would do an open adoption, where I could help review applications and choose who was to get my baby. But once the deed was done, I'd never be able to contact my baby again. The law in Montana is such that a woman has to wait 3 full days before she can legally give her baby up for adoption. I would lie awake at night and envision myself holding my baby for three days, and then handing him over to strangers to raise. I didn't know if I could do something so selfless. The pain of just imagining it was almost too much to bear. This baby was conceived in love, and I felt so much love for the baby the minute I knew I was pregnant, even though I knew my life would be in upheaval because of it. And I always thought of my baby as a boy. It never even occurred to me I'd have a girl. Every time I passed the baby clothes section in a store, it was the boy clothes I looked at and dreamed about.

One day, a woman from our ward came over to our house unexpectedly. She told me that she knew I was talking to LDS Social Services about possibly giving my baby up for adoption, and she had a son who was married and lived in Utah...and they couldn't have children.....and would it be possible........

Every single motherly instinct I never knew I had reared up and shouted NO!!! at the same time. I knew in that instant that there was no way in hell I would ever give my baby up for adoption. It was all I could do to sit there and look into her desperate mother eyes. I wanted to throw up.

So I let LDS Social Services know of my decision, and began to prepare in earnest for life as a mother with a baby. My mom, bless her sweet heart, took Lamaze classes with me. It was lots of fun. I was the only single mother in the class. I didn't note any judgemental glances from anyone else. People were very kind.

At this time, my mom's best friend had a son who had served his mission in Chile. He was the resident expert on all things Chilean. We found out that Chile is a country where Moms Rule. The matriarch in that society rules the household. I had seen the movie "Not Without my Daughter" during my pregnancy, and I was paranoid and worried about what would happen once I let the man who got me pregnant know about it. We had ended our relationship when he moved, and knew that we weren't destined to be together, but when you are pregnant with someone's baby, you feel things and worry and wonder more than you want to. And the hormones that a woman deals with while pregnant are a big factor too: funny things are way funnier than they usually are, sad things are way more sad, and when something makes you happy, what you feel is definitely out of proportion to what you should be feeling. So my feelings of paranoia were much worse than they should have or would have been otherwise. I worried that I would be forced to share custody of my baby, or that they'd want to take him and raise him themselves. It was irrational, but what I was feeling at the time.

So when I was about 8 months pregnant, I went to Eric's apartment, and asked to be alone to make my phone call. I broke out in a cold sweat and prayed three times for courage before I called Chile. A woman answered in Spanish, and I had to ask to speak to him 3 times before he finally got on the phone.

"Lisa, hiiii! How are you doing? Wow! I can't believe I'm really talking to you!"

"I'm doing fine. It's good to talk to you, too."

"Wow! So what's new? Do you have a boyfriend yet?"

"Uhhhhh, no.....Do you have a girlfriend?" What the hell?? That wasn't what I had expected him to say.

"No, but I've been trying!"

"Oh. Well. Heh heh. Um. Good luck with that."



"Um, listen, maybe you should sit down because I called to tell you I'm 8 months pregnant with your baby." My heart was beating out of my chest.

"What?!........Seriously? Wow. Really?....." A big pause as he sat down and digested what I had said. "Wow. Is there anything I can do? Do you need anything?"

I had rehearsed this line many times in my mind before calling..."No. I don't need anything or want anything from you. I just figured you had a right to know."

He sat there stunned. I could hear him breathing. "Are you sure you don't need anything? Wow. I can't believe this. Whoa."

"I don't need anything from you. I'm due April 12th.. I moved back to Montana so you may want my phone number and address."

"Yeah, I'll call you. Wow. I can't believe this. Wow. You're sure you don't need anything from me?"

"I'm sure."

"I'll call you. I promise."

"OK. That'd be nice."

"OK, well, bye, then. Good luck."

"Thanks. Goodbye."

2 weeks before my due date, I woke up one morning at 5 a.m. to sharp contractions. I drew a warm bath and soaked in order to relax and see if the pains would go away. They didn't. We drove to the hospital at 9 a.m., and were admitted into a room. I was a big baby about pain. Maybe this was because my parents were in there with me, I don't know, but I remember not feeling very brave, and not wanting to walk around because the contractions hurt so bad. My dad was a pharmaceutical representative (he sold drugs to doctors) so he told the doctor to give me Stadol, a pseudo-narcotic. Of course, this made me so out of it, I hardly remember anything except crying a weird cry that I've never heard myself do since. Strange. I don't remember much...I think that drug made me sleep between contractions.

It was taking about an hour and a half to increase one centimeter in dilation...and I was so tired. Finally at 3:45 p.m. the nurse checked me and said I was only dilated to 6. I was sick of it, and knew I'd never hold out any longer if it was to be another 6 hours to reach a dilation of 10. So (using my Damien voice) I said the words many women have come to rely on:

Give. Me. An. Epidural. NOW.

The nurse inserted the I.V. thing into the veins on the back of my hand, and left to go get the anesthesiologist. After she left, suddenly my body pushed. I say "my body" pushed because that's what it felt like: heaves you get and can't control, much like when you throw up. I told my mom that I thought I had just wet the bed. She looked and knew immediately that things were happening. She ran and got the nurse. My body pushed again.

The nurse came quickly and noticed that the baby's head was already crowning. She ran to the door of my room and yelled at them to get a doctor in here, QUICK! She ran back to me and said, "Don't you DARE push!" My body pushed again, and there was no way I could stop it. She said, "Breathe like you're blowing out a candle. That will help you not to push." I thought she was insane, but I tried anyway. It helped knowing that if I didn't stop pushing, one of my parents or the nurse was going to be delivering this baby.

The doctor arrived. He had just enough time to put on a pair of gloves: 4:00 p.m., just one push later, my baby boy was born. It had been 15 minutes from a dilation of 6 to delivery.

I had been told by Mr. Chile that he'd call me when I was due, so I waited for his call. It never came. I finally went back to my brother's house and called him again, when my son was about 3 or 4 weeks old.

A guy answered the phone who sounded just like Mr. Chile. He also had a brother who was a year older than him, so it may have been the brother, I don't know. He kept speaking Spanish, which I didn't understand.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

More Spanish.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

More Spanish.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

Finally he broke into perfect English. "J's on vacation in Santiago right now. Would you like to leave him a message?"

What could I say? There was no way I was going to leave the message, "IT'S A BOY!!" So instead I said, "Please have him call me as soon as possible."

I never heard from him again.

My pride wouldn't let me reach out one more time. For all I know, he died on that trip to Santiago. Or he was the one I was actually talking to, and didn't want to talk to me. Or he tried 10 times and my dad answered the phone every time and never told me about it. Whatever happened, I was officially alone. It was done.

I met and married Mr. SML when my son was 8 months old. He adopted my son when he was in Kindergarten.

And now you know The Rest of the Story.

December 24, 2006

God Bless Us, Every One

Well, I posted my e-mail to my dad on Friday, explaining to him that I don't believe in the church anymore. I expected an e-mail or phone call but got nothing until Saturday at 2:45 p.m. (he was supposed to have driven up to MT from UT on Saturday). He e-mailed my sister who had e-mailed him Saturday morning about her entire family being up all Friday night throwing up, and that he may want to stay at my house if he didn't want to catch the illness they have. Here is what he wrote to Tony and cc'd to me:

So sorry to hear you're having such trouble, just in time for the holidays! [Takes me back to the year I was quarantined at home in Kaysville with influenza the whole holiday week- What a drag!] Misery must be going around. I was up most of the night Thursday after watching the BYU bowl game with my brother Dave, and had a miserable day at work yesterday, so I just slept in today. My jeep's also sprung a leak in the cooling system, and it's not solved with the new upper radiator hose I installed, so I'll have to try something else to fix it. Guess this isn't going the way we'd have liked, huh. How about we just postpone the get-together up your way until we're all feeling better and can have more fun?? I'll use the time to catch up on some much-needed projects, do my taxes, etc. Perhaps I can take a four-day weekend trip up in the next month or two. Let me know if there are any weekends you won't be home, OK? Give my love to all, and get feeling better soon!

- Love, Dad

[Great Grandma will be disappointed that I didn't get her offerings to you in time for Christmas. I'll add that to the long list of things I need forgiveness for. I'll mail you up a Christmas card to hopefully arrive in time for New Year's....]

Great. My dad would rather do his taxes than come up and stay with me. The sad thing is, this may or may not have anything to do with my note to him. It probably does, but not in the way one would expect. I suspect he couldn't care less about my belief or not in the church. He probably cares more what the church expects him to do or feel about me not believing, and is trying to figure that out before he does anything. Or his "long list of things I need forgiveness for" somehow relates to my apostasy...maybe he is thinking this is somehow his fault. But no, I doubt that too. My dad is a very complicated and strange individual. It is impossible for me to know what he's thinking since we don't have a close relationship.

My apostasy can't hurt him more than my choice to have my brother walk me down the aisle at my wedding, while I had my dad say the opening prayer. I may have to write about that some other time.

If he'd rather spend Christmas alone than come up here and be with people who love him, that's his choice. More power to him. And Eric, I still think you and Keith should just do your Christmas Day relaxing and hanging out as planned, and don't worry about being with Dad because you feel obligated somehow... Obviously he'd rather be alone over Christmas. He's a big boy. If he's lonely, let him hang out with HIS parent.

December 22, 2006

Just hit'll be all right.

An e-mail I just sent a few minutes ago. He'll get it at work and at home.

Hi Dad,

I haven't heard much from you lately, but I hear you are still planning to come up for Christmas! The presents are wrapped and under the tree, so get up here quick and celebrate with us!!! We look forward to your visit. The Octoplog is a welcome addition to any party, as you know. Speaking of parties, we have a dinner at our house on Christmas Eve every year. Are you planning on staying at our house or Tony's?

I'm sorry to be giving you such news over e-mail, but it seems to be our best mode of communication...

I want to let you know that I've decided to leave the church. We quit going in September. I know this may be painful for you, and I don't want to hurt you at all. I hope you will be respectful of my right to choose for myself and my family what is best for us. I don't want this to ruin your Christmas, nor do I want it to create tension between us during your visit. Therefore, I will not be discussing this over the holiday. I hope you will also respect my privacy and not discuss this with Tonya either. She deserves to enjoy her much-needed break from work, and talking about me and my decision to leave the church will hardly be relaxing for her, or you. Plus she really doesn't care to discuss me with others. I'll be open to discussing it with you at a later time, if you wish.

Please know that I am truly happier now, and so are the kids. It is a joy to finally experience leading my own life, choosing my own path, and thinking for myself without all the answers handed to me.

I sincerely hope this will not prevent you from coming to visit. I felt like you would prefer to know now vs. finding out Sunday morning.

Please let me know when you plan to arrive so we can watch out for you!

With love, always.


December 19, 2006

Honor at BYU? Are you kidding me?

I was young and innocent (for the most part) when I stepped foot on the BYU campus for the first time as a freshman in 1991. Little did I know that all that was about to change.

When you attend BYU, you are informed the first day that there is a certain standard that all students are expected to live by, whether you live in dorm housing or off campus. This standard is published and given to you at your new student orientation. It is called the Honor Code. This Honor Code may have even been part of the registration/application to BYU...I had to look it up to refresh my memory.

The first thing you read when you go to the BYU Honor Code website is this quote:

Stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first! -Karl G. Maeser

Um, well, ahem, apparently I forgot about my little chalk circle, because BOY, DID I CROSS IT! This is what the Honor Code consists of:

As a matter of personal commitment, students, faculty, and staff of [all LDS Church-owned schools] seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will

1) Be honest
2) Observe Dress and Grooming Standards
3) Obey the law and all campus policies
4) Participate regularly in church services (except non-LDS students/faculty)
5) Live a chaste and virtuous life
6) Use clean language
7) Respect others
8) Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
9) Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
(numbers added by me for reference)

For me, it was a no-brainer. This would be easy. I walked into my apartment just off campus, and met my five roommates, all from Utah. Three were returned missionaries, and two were freshmen like me. I was born in Utah, but moved to Montana when I was six, so I consider myself a Montanan. There are a few obvious differences you notice when you are the only non-Utah person living in a household for the first time.

We were all standing in the kitchen that first evening, getting to know each other a little through conversation.

One girl said, "I get up at 5 a.m. so I can be to my early class on time."

My non-Utah upbringing reared its ugly head with no warning at all. "No way! That's the butt crack of dawn, for hell's sake!"

Suddenly the room was so quiet I could actually hear the breeze produced by five sets of eyelids blinking at me in shock and horror. I didn't even realize what was wrong -- I repeated what was said in my mind at lightning speed. It occurred to me these women were seriously offended that I had used the word HELL. Or butt crack. In Montana, hell isn't even considered a swear word. It's a place that you encounter at times much like I was experiencing RIGHT THEN.

"Oh, sorry. Did I swear?" They still just stared at me. I kind of laughed to cover the silence. I broke #6 of the Honor Code my first day at BYU. The shame. But hey, at least I gave my roommates their first chance to do #9 -- "Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code." Wasn't that nice of me? But I quickly realized that I was consistently breaking #7 every time I'd hear my roommate Heather say "Holy Hannah!" or "Gracious Sakes!" during times I would have said, "Holy Shit!" or "What the Hell?"

In very little time I had become comfortable with college life. I dated more in the first two weeks of college than I did in all of high school and my year in Austria combined. What an experience! It was crazy. Everyone lusted after the son of Jack Weyland (an LDS novelist) who lived 3 doors down, but he never looked twice at me. But that didn't matter. I was learning fast the ways of my new world at BYU.

NCMO. The famous term (pronounced Nick-Mo) that stands for Non Committal Make Out. That awesomely pleasurable call of the wild we all answered while at BYU. The pheromones were virtually visible in the air. It was understood that a date meant automatic NCMO. I remember one such date with a Californian guy I knew from Vienna the year before when he was in the BYU Study Abroad program and I was an exchange student.

He had taken me on one date with a bunch of his classmates in Austria, and had chivalrously taken the train back to my home a half hour away, and even walked me to my house, only to find out that the train didn't run regularly on the outskirts of Vienna like it did in town. He had a two hour wait for the next train. So I walked him back to the train station and we sat there holding hands and talking. I was so inexperienced at dating that I just sat there chatting away, when all he wanted was NCMO, I'm sure. I think back and recognize the signs that I was oblivious to then. He never asked me out in Vienna again, since they went home to the states shortly thereafter.

Back at BYU, I ran into him again. We chatted, and I agreed to go on a group date with him and his friends to a hot springs he knew of in the mountains that would require a hike to get to. I went with him and this was the first really vivid NCMO I remember engaging in, probably my first little step off the edge into Breaking Honor Code #5 Territory. I had no swimsuit that fit (you may know of my aversion to shopping for swimsuits) so I wore a pair of short jean cut-offs and a big t-shirt. We hiked a half hour in the dark to the hot springs, and the smell of sulfur was horrendous.

But it was just like a hot tub, and I discovered within seconds that the water was intended for the sole purpose of engaging in NCMO as close to the real thing as it gets. I remember thinking that swimsuits leave nothing to the imagination, and how glad I was that I had jean shorts on, and a t-shirt on over my bra, not really conducive to good rubbing. We managed, however, to make out for hours (and rub too, I'll admit). It was what the whole date was for. There was no talking, just murmurs in the distance, and the darkness surrounded my date and me like we were alone. It was very seductive.

Of course the hike back was bad, because it felt so cold, and I was in those stinking jean shorts and big t-shirt, and I hated the stench. But I had with me after that a healthy knowledge of what was fun and nice about the body, and a very good idea of how nice the forbidden fruit might be to partake of. Apparently the temptation this knowledge brought me was too much for me to withstand for long.

The next guy I dated seriously was also from Montana, and we got along fairly well. I discovered quickly that once you pass a certain point physically in a relationship, it's impossible to revert back and not go as far. So our dating quickly became physical to the point of heavy petting, rubbing, and even some nudity. He was a returned missionary, and we both felt terribly guilty for what we were doing (all the time). Eventually he went to his bishop and I went to mine, to repent, and we decided that in order to stay good, we'd need to break up. Our relationship was mostly physical anyway. We didn't actually go all the way, but we were damn close, and we knew it. The breakup was easy because we weren't emotionally attached as much as we could have been.

Interjecting one particular memory of my dating the Montana guy...He and I went on a date, and when I got back, it was just after midnight (curfew was midnight according to the Honor Code, even for off-campus students) and I realized I had forgotten my key. I banged on the door over and over again. Then I went to a neighbor's (male) apartment and called. No answer. I was livid. I must have kicked that door and called them at least 10 times. There was no way they didn't hear me. In retrospect, I realize my sweet Utah sisters were trying to teach naughty Lisa a lesson. "You shouldn't be out with a BOY late at night, see what can happen??" I ended up walking to my boyfriend's apartment to tell him what had happened, and that I needed a place to stay. His roommates were very leery of this, since they knew the rules and were hesitant to break them. I finally convinced them that letting me crash on their couch was really preferable to turning a woman out on the streets late at night, and I promised I'd be good. My boyfriend even stayed away from me, probably since his roommates were up all night, watching him. A GIRL was out there. TEMPTATION!

Anyway, back to my Honor. I was sitting in my apartment one day doing homework, and I was enjoying the music someone was playing out into the courtyard. Our apartment complex was jokingly called The Fishbowl, because it was U shaped with three levels, and I was in the middle apartment on one side of the U on the third floor, and could see across at any apartment except those directly below mine. Everyone could see everyone. And our phone numbers were all the same, with the last two numbers being our apartment number. So I was sitting there, listening to Chicago singing their greatest hits, when suddenly I heard the music stop mid-song.

I jumped up just in time to see someone down in the middle apartment on the first floor pulling his big stereo speaker back in from his doorway. I ran to my phone and dialed his number. Some guy answered.

I said, "Put the speaker back in the doorway, and turn the music back on."

He said, "What did you say?!"

I repeated, "Put the speaker back in the doorway, and turn the music back on!"

I had never been so audacious or bold in all my life. I walked with the 20 foot phone cord to my open doorway, and there he was, standing in his open doorway, looking up, phone to his ear. Black hair, Hispanic, handsome as sin. He asked me "Why should I?"

"Because I love that song, and I'm not ready to stop listening to it yet."

He grinned, shook his head, and disappeared back into his apartment. Soon I saw a big, black speaker being pushed back out into the doorway. Sweet music filled the courtyard once again. He looked up at me and grinned. I grinned back, and went back to doing my homework, only this time I sat out on the bench beside my front door where I could keep an eye on this handsome stranger who did my bidding without a second thought. He came up to visit a little while later, and we talked for an hour. We had our first date the next night.

Whether it was the fact that I knew he was graduating college and headed back to Chile forever in a month, or the fact that I'd already gone as far as one can go before going all the way, and couldn't resist trying the same stuff with him, I'm not sure. I think I convinced myself I'd sin on a temporary basis with this non-LDS man, and then repent once he left -- it was probably a combination of all those ideas -- but I ended up losing my Sister Mary Lisa Purity with him, and it was difficult to feel guilty about something so grand. Besides, I was in love.

Rule #5 of the Honor Code had officially been broken all the way.

Then one day he was gone for good, first on a one-month tour of Europe, and then back to Chile, his home country. I had been devastated and listless and depressed ever since he left. It was hard to find the desire or energy to do anything meaningful. I didn't date anyone, I just worked and slept.

I was working at the Albertson's deli in Orem one day about a month after he left, and I opened the oven that was filled with sausages cooking in barbecue sauce. The fans blew the overpowering smell straight at me, and I was hit by a wave of nausea so hard that I ran to the back room and threw up.

That was the moment I realized I was pregnant.

Honor Code Rule #1 was necessary to break after that. There was no way in HELL I was going to explain the real reason for leaving to my holier-than-thou roommates, or to the school either. I told them I was leaving for medical reasons (which is in essence the truth, kind of) and moved back home to Montana.

The rest, as they say, is history.

There, Pete, my thoughts on the BYU Honor Code, per your request. Any questions?

Happy to finally be 21!

This is a huge birthday for you, I'm sure! 21!!!

It seems like just yesterday I was meeting you for the first time when you were 7, when your dad brought you over to meet me. I remember your quiet shyness, and your reservation. Your eyes seemed so much older than those of a 7 year old, and I felt like you could see right through me, which you probably could. You have always had a kind and gentle soul, and I know there were many times where I hurt you and never realized it. Yet you never complained or said anything mean or hurtful to me, even though most teens can and do. I couldn't have handpicked a more lovely and sweet stepdaughter.

You have been a joy to have in our family. You are so much fun, and you have a talent for making people around you feel good about themselves. You have a real gift for helping others, and for being there for people when they need you. You are one of the most dependable people I know. And I'm willing to pay big for your secret talent of picking out perfect gifts for people. You are the best gift-giver EVER!

I have felt that you are more my own daughter than my stepdaughter. You are someone I admire so much. I wish I were more like you in so many ways: patient, non-judgemental, loving, kind, beautiful, graceful, punctual, and dependable.

I remember last year, when you and the kids sat down at the kitchen table where I was sitting, and you said, "We've decided where we want to go on vacation this year."

"Really? Cool! Where we goin'?"

"Yellowstone Park. Only...ummm...we want to go...without the parents."


I remember trying hard to keep my face from showing any surprise. After the first few seconds of trying to decide if I should be hurt or not, I realized something important: Here was a 20 year old woman who was willing and excited to use up her valuable paid vacation taking her little brother and sister on a vacation to Yellowstone. You don't know how much love I felt for you when I saw your three little heads crammed in front of the computer, excitedly planning the trip and places you wanted to see together. I wanted to cry seeing such sweetness. The kids still talk about how much fun they had with you, and it's priceless to me, knowing I had a hand in raising such a great woman. What a lucky, lucky mom I am.

I remember the year that you took a new recipe box and wrote all over it in black marker "Happy Mother's Day" ~ You took all my recipes, and sorted them alphabetically. It made for some interesting searches: if a recipe was labeled "Best Ever Chocolate Cake" it would be found in the "B" section, not "C." But I'll never change it, because it reminds me of the sweet labor of love that gift was.

I want you to be a woman who trusts herself and the decisions you make for yourself. You are so great! I worry that you don't recognize your own self-worth. You are so awesome! I love you more than you will ever know. I hope that I will be good at showing you my unconditional love and support for the rest of my life. You are a perfect example to me of how to do that better.

You are beautiful, inside and out, and I couldn't love you more if I were your real mom.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

December 18, 2006

Hey, Molly!

Check out the comments section of my post a couple days ago where I tagged Molly the Mormon to give us her ABCs too. She actually did it in the comments of that post (two posts ago)! I'm so excited.

You'll want to check out her great answers. It's like an early Christmas present. And it looks like she tagged Hyrum Youngster to come out of the woodwork to join her!!!

Should I be worried by how much excitement it gives me to have Molly and Hyrum comment on my blog? I can't deny it. I'm loving it.

Happy Monday, everyone!

December 16, 2006

Latest Drawing Unveiled

Karissa & Kory 8" x 10" Graphite

I was thrilled to be commissioned to draw these kids by a friend of mine. This is a boy from my son's soccer team and his sister. The photo I took doesn't do the drawing much justice, but here it is anyway. Mum is the word for any of you who know these guys...their mom doesn't know that it's her Christmas gift.

And now I can focus on shopping and wrapping. Then on to more drawing. I love this.

My son rips all his tags out...they itch.

I've been tagged once again, this time by the awesome Sofi of Miami. Thanks, Sofi, and I will someday try to return the favor!


A- Available or single? Neither
B- Best Friend? My Sisters and SILs
C- Cake or Pie? Pie. RASPBERRY pie. Because of the (horribly stinky) memories.
D- Drink of Choice? Pop: Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi. Alcoholic: Kahlua & Cream
E- Essential Item? Shampoo
F- Favorite Color? Green
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Neither.
H- Hometown? Someplace in Montana (if I told you I'd have to kill you, or rather, Mr. SML would think that 10 of you would be coming after me within 10 minutes of reading where I live)
I- Indulgence? Art Magazines bought full price (gasp) from the book store.
J- January or February? February. January is too busy with year-end crap at work.
K- Kids and names? 3 kids, named A, J, and S.
L- Life is incomplete without? Art. Laughter. Love.
M- Marriage Date? The Day That Will Live in Infamy. 13 years ago November.
N- Number of Siblings? 4 brothers, 3 sisters.
O- Oranges or apples? Oranges. Love their juicy goodness.
P- Phobias/Fears? Swimming in deep water, fear of failure
Q- Favorite Quote? "If you have to Google quotes just to find one, you don't have a favorite quote." by SML
R- Reason to Smile? My drawings are done, so that means I can begin the other two or three I have in the works! My kids are reason too.
S- Season? Spring. Duh.
T- Tag three people! I feel guilty about tagging already this week. I shall tag three more anyway: Just One of Many, Arizona Expositor, and Molly the Mormon.
U- Unknown Fact About Me? I take photos of strangers when I'm on vacation, with the thought that someday I may paint them.
V- Vegetable you hate? Pickled Beets. They taste like actual DIRT. Don't ask me how I know what dirt tastes like.
W- Worst habit? Procrastination.
X- X-Rays you've had? Um, ribs.
Y- Your favorite food? Steak and potatoes.
Z- Zodiac? Taurus

December 15, 2006

Dear SML - Response from Mr. What Should I Do

The following is a response letter from Mr. What Should I Do.

This is "What Should I Do" with a follow-up letter.

I appreciated the Dear SML response, as well as all of
the comments that were made about my letter.

It became clear pretty quickly that I chose a
signature name too hastily. It's been fairly obvious
to me for a while *what* I should do -- mostly what
I'm stuck with now is *how* to go about doing it. But
I digress.

One comment in particular I felt needed addressing --
the one by Taiko Tari. I realized after reading the
comment that my letter could be construed to sound
like I'm just wanting to point fingers or place fault.
It does sound that way, but isn't my intention at all
nor how I really feel. I gave many details simply as
a background for how I'm feeling and as evidence that
the relationship is broken at best, or dead at worst.

I fully realize that it takes two to tango, and
certainly I'm not an innocent bystander in all of
this. As one example of something I'm perfectly
willing to admit, I stonewall something fierce. I'm
the silent type anyway, so it comes all too naturally.
Stonewalling is not the same as the silent treatment
-- I don't do that. I may go for quite a while
without saying anything at all, but that's who I am --
it isn't the silent treatment. Stonewalling is more a
matter of not sharing feelings.

The problem is that I didn't want it to be that way.
I have tried sharing feelings and bearing my soul, so
to speak, many times. The problem is that she
couldn't take or accept what they were, thus she
reacted severely and harshly (from my perspective).
Of course people sometimes get shocked and simply
don't understand things another person feels or how
they could feel that way, or may not even approve
morally of the thoughts. That's ok, but it doesn't
give free reign to launch into emotional & verbal

So the problem is that this has happened time and time
again, to the point where I no longer share anything
at all, really. This stonewalling, of course, only
makes the problem worse, and I'm aware of that. My
other major fault is aversion to conflict or
confrontation, so that's why it's easier for me to
withdraw and let myself be walked on than to try to
stop the abuse and deal with the issues. Given the
abyss between our beliefs and values now, though, I
don't think it would make any difference. She has
shown the inability to agree to disagree with me many
times, on some topics. This is also understandable.
We all have our bottom lines that simply cannot be
crossed. It is her right to have those.

I have never, ever, to my recollection, directly
called my wife a derogatory name of any kind, directly
insulted her, not even so much as raised my voice to
her. I've never touched her in a moment of anger,
even in an attempt to escape as she was cornering me
for a brief bout of physical abuse to go with the rest
of it. She has done each and every one of those
things to me, sometimes innumerable times.

So, as far as I can tell, the real problem here is not
what it sounds like at all. My wife is NOT a bad
person. She is fiercely loyal, selflessly giving and
serving, and does so many things for me and our
children without ever complaining that they are too
numerous to mention. I don't hate her or blame her
for our marital demise.

Nor do I really blame myself, although that's tough
for me. I have a long list of
shoulda-woulda-coulda-s, but it's all water under the
bridge. There were plenty of warning signs that this
mismatch was clear from the very start, but I was
young, lonely, hadn't had much luck in dating (she was
only my second dating partner that I would consider a
"real" date, as opposed to casual friendship date),
and couldn't believe my good fortune that she agreed
to go out with me (she was quite attractive). I
ignored all the warning signs. I was a fresh gung-ho
morg convert who thought all we needed was to both be
committed to the "gospel" and everything would work
out. (This is also nobody's fault but my own for
being so stupid)

The real problem here is that we simply are not good
for each other. I think it's as simple as that. As
the commenter mentioned, abusive treatment like this
bubbles up from other stuff that's built up. If that
is the case, she had major baggage before I even met
her, because even shortly into our dating (within a
few weeks), I got my first major dosage of emotional
abuse -- up to and including being accused of having a
little side fling with her mother (I kid you not!).

Something isn't right there, from her past or
whatever, but she has never shared anything deep with
me that wasn't about mormonism -- not even from day
one when I'd try really hard to talk about deep topics
as I was getting more deeply involved in the dating

Looking back, with a start like that, it should've
been easy to see the trainwreck coming so it could've
been avoided, for both of us. But it wasn't.

I want to be happy. I don't expect someone or
something to make me happy, of course, as it's more of
a journey or attitude. But being with a person that
you aren't a good match with can really suck the life
out of you.

I want to be happy, I deserve to be happy. So does my
wife. I honestly & sincerely want her to be happy. I
do see your point that people don't just do this
abusive stuff I mentioned for the fun of it.
Something is really not going well within her. But,
like me, she isn't sharing. I've tried to share and
got smacked down, over and over again. She hasn't
ever shared -- that's her bad.

My point is that although neither of us is a bad
person, we are not good together. She says she is
happy with me, but her actions as I outlined in my
first letter tell me otherwise. It's as if something
about me brings out the worst in her. I have tried to
talk to her and explain it to her this way, but she
won't have it. In her eyes, divorce (or even
separation) is evil, so she'd rather both of us (and
eventually the kids) be unhappy and miserable for the
rest of our lives than consider the concept that
divorce can actually be the best decision in some

So I don't want to make her out to be a bad person,
honestly. These are just symptoms of an
irreconcilable marriage, as far as I can tell. And I
could only report the symptoms from my point of view,
as she doesn't share her perspective with me and it
would only be conjecture on my part to offer any. The
only one I could offer would be that I made
"covenants" to the morg with her in the temple when we
were married, along with a long list of expectations
that went along with that. I have broken pretty much
all of those (considering they were all covenants with
the morg and not with her directly -- if you don't
believe me, look up the text of the sealing ceremony).

I have been loyal/faithful to her, but not to the
morg. Her sense of fidelity includes things that I do
not agree with (such as not having friends of opposite
gender, and agreeing with her on morg-is-great

I can not expect her to change any more than she can
expect me to not change from what I was before (tbm).
What she fails to see is that our marriage mismatch
has been there all along, it's just that I was
suppressing the real me for the morg. The real me
enjoys coffee, tea, beer; finds profanity
entertaining; and feels passionately about being
passionate in general with life, with heated
intellectual discussions and all. She doesn't
appreciate or like any of what really makes me be me.
And now that I see how entrenched moism is in her, I
don't much like her either. So what's the point? We
are NOT doing ourselves or the kids any favors by
stringing out a dead marriage.

That being said, it's really pretty clear, after all
this, *what* I should do. What will remain unclear
until after going through it, is *how* do I do it.

I appreciate all the well-wishes, and especially the
dissenting comment by Taiko Tari who boldly holds up
the "wait a minute" banner to pose the harder

I am not asking anyone to judge my wife harshly --
unless she's been abusive to our children behind my
back. Just painting a picture of a bad marriage, and
how irreconcilable it can look. I am a deep thinker.
I'm at the point where I would like to just end this
and go on with our lives, amicably. I believe it's
possible to do so while preserving as much dignity and
resources for all of us (her, me, the children) as
possible without it going the route of the hostile
enemy-making classic battle. But *that* also takes
two to tango. I am willing. Whether she is remains
to be seen.

If there is something else I have done that needs
further inspection and correction, which has
contributed to this problem, I am wide open to know
what it is so I can work on it. I'm a very WYSIWYG
kinda guy, so it shouldn't be too hard to spot,
whatever it is. I'm also my harshest critic.

-How do I do it?

Dear I Know What I Should Do But How Do I Do It?,

My best advice is to consult with the lawyer that will defend your best interests and those of your children when the time comes. If it were me, I would ask a number of lawyers which divorce lawyer they would not want to either face in the courtroom or whom they would never want their spouse to hire to divorce them.

There is one divorce lawyer here in town to whom businessmen pay a fee for his promise NOT to represent their wives, ever. That's the kind of lawyer I'd suggest you get. I suspect that your wish for amicable divorce is not going to happen, since your wish for amicable married life hasn't happened either.

I wish you luck in whatever you decide you must do.

I LOVE Vanity Plates!

You may remember my rant about how vanity plates are dumber than dumb and a waste of money?

Today I was sitting in my car waiting for the light to change, when I noticed the license in front of me:


I had to smile and think, of course Sister Mary Lisa has style!

Maybe vanity plates aren't so bad. I wish he hadn't turned on a side road because I wanted to snap a photo of it for posterity.

December 14, 2006

All I want for Christmas...

This appeared on our table this week from our 9 year old daughter:

My Christmas wish? You know what I want. You know. See me if you need a reminder, Santa.

December 12, 2006

Tagged Once Again

I've been tagged once again (by Janet) to give you SIX weird things about me.

You don't really want to know six weird things about me, do you? Really?? OK. I'll try to think up some good ones. I can hear those people who know me in person thinking how easy this should be for someone like me.....

1. I think the word "weird" is funky. Curiously it doesn't follow the I-Before-E-Except-After-C rule. I think this every single time I write it out. This in itself is weird.

2. I love watching shows on nature channels about sea life, yet I would be highly uncomfortable swimming in the ocean in water deeper than my shoulders. I say would be because I've never dared try it.

3. I absolutely LOVE the smell of lemon-scented dishwasher soap in powder form. Sometimes when the package is brand new, and I take the sticker off of the spout and open it, a big puff of the stuff comes out in a cloud, making my eyes and nose burn, and I love it. Mmmmm - mmmmmmmmm.

4. I think the big homes that are built around here are major overkill and I sometimes judge people for feeling the need to have such grand homes. But at the same time, I've got an image in my mind of my dream home, complete with art studio, and very expensive, unique fixtures and awesome stuff from around the world. I daydream of entertaining all of my friends in such a great and comfortably luxurious home.

5. I still think that the Halloween party my brother and I planned and executed when we were in high school was the most brilliant ever, even if nobody came. We dipped our fingers in hot wax to create molds to pour peach Jello into, and we had a tray of fingers as a snack. It was great fun, even if we were losers. I don't remember what else we did but it was good. Eric, help me out here, your memory is good whenever mine fails. (Just an FYI, my brother Eric is not aneweric Eric. I've been asked more than once recently...both their comments have "eric" as a name, obviously.)

6. Oh, FINE! I'll tell you before Eric insists on telling! I used to sneak weird stuff to feed my sweet tooth. Really weird stuff. Like cake mix mixed with just water. Cherry chip is best, for those who wanna try it. Or Tang powder, straight. But the BEST: I'd take exactly one cup of powdered sugar in a cereal bowl and into it I'd stir one package of Kool-Aid. Grape or orange taste best. I'd stir it up really well, then I'd lick my spoon on the bottom, and lower it onto the top of the sugary perfection. I'd lick off what stuck to the bottom of the spoon, and repeat until it was gone. I recommend reading a favorite book and sitting on the floor behind your bed out of sight while you do prolongs the perfection of the moment.

Oh, and don't bother trying to brush away the purply goodness from your lips and tongue. It doesn't work.

.......I told you I was weird. But don't hold it against me. It's really one of my more endearing qualities.

Tagging six others: And not because you are my favorites necessarily:

Eric, my brother. You can post your weird things here in my comments if you wish to remain blog-free in life. And you can't deny we are weird. We come by it naturally. I expect some reference to how you feel about feet. Seriously.

Tony, my sister. Same to you. But not necessarily the foot thing.

Genilimaa. You can't use the rooster as a weird thing about you, because it's awesome, not weird!

Montchan. I can't wait to see what you may write! Not that I think you're weird...Oh crap. Have I stuck my foot in again?

Simeon. I think you will have a list that rocks. Just sayin'.

AND, last but not least,

Sideon. Because I read your blog as religiously as you read mine, if not more. :)

Oh, and I'd also like to tag Gluby and his wife Lemon Blossom. They're rather new here and I'd love to get to know what's weird about them too!

December 11, 2006

I will survive!

I'll be glad when the holidays are over. Cramming school concerts, programs, Christmas parties, shopping (which I detest) and wrapping into my already busy life just about does me in each year.

I want my life back.

I'm drawing, which makes me happy, and I know the rest of the stuff will get done - it always does. In the meantime, I kind of wish I had a personal shopper who would just do it all for me while I spend my time drawing.

Hey, I can dream, can't I??

On a different note, I'm wondering why NOT ONE OF YOU wrote me to tell me I'd misspelled the word 'portrays' in my about me section in the upper right corner of my page. I spelled it PROTRAYS. Sounds like something you'd find in a sperm donor lab.

December 8, 2006

Dear SML - Divorce or Not?

Dear SML,

My life sucks. I am married with children, but feel very lonely. I resigned from the morg, and have since discovered that my marriage was really just an empty shell with no foundation that was artificially held up by the morg.

My wife is nice enough most of the time, does a lot for me, says she appreciates me, and all. I appreciate all she does for me very much (and could make a very long list, that unfortunately doesn't include much in the sexual arena). But I don't really have any feelings left for her. The deep dark secret is that I'm an abused spouse. I don't mean that I've been beaten to a pulp over and over again (though the abuse has gotten physical a couple of times), but rather a victim of emotional and verbal abuse. And I'm man enough to admit it. There's only so much of that a person can take before completely withdrawing from a person, you know?

I've read several books, one of which was aptly titled "Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay" on this topic, as well as seeing a counselor on my own. It is pretty clear after all of that that I don't want to remain married to this person, yet here I am still.

I was a child of divorce myself, and my parents did all the things you're not supposed to do to a child of divorce, and few, if any, of the things you are supposed to do. I swore to myself that I'd never put my own children through the same experience.

I don't want to face the pain and hurt my children will feel if I leave their mother, yet I also know that giving them a relationship role model of an unloving marriage isn't good either.

We've tried counseling. After the last flare-up of physical violence, I insisted that we go. It didn't change anything from what I can tell. There hasn't been any recurrence of physical violence (yet), but it's probably only a matter of time. Even if it doesn't happen again, I know there's more emotional & verbal abuse to endure down the road.

I don't hate my wife, nor do I think she's a bad person. I just think that we're not good together as a couple. Unfortunately, she isn't willing to see it this way, and has blocked all of my attempts to discuss divorce or separation.

What should I do?

Dear Mr. What Should I Do,

I think if you read your words here, you already know inside what you should do. Although I recognize that there are always two sides to every relationship, I can only offer you my advice based on what you wrote.

First, let's address the issue of physical, emotional, verbal abuse. Counseling is a great way to work through this problem, and it is a problem. Physical abuse is somewhat easier to acknowledge and address as a couple, because the evidence is right there in front of both of you in the form of bruises, red marks, or visible evidence that some hurt was inflicted. It is harder for the one who inflicted the physical abuse to deny it after the fact.

Emotional and verbal abuse tends to be more subtle, insidious, and much more damaging than physical abuse. These are wounds that sometimes never heal. It can start with seemingly minor, derogatory remarks that belittle the victim, causing him or her to feel little or no self-worth. Often people who emotionally abuse others say they do it because the victim brings such treatment on themselves, or because they "deserve it."

I say bullshit!

The horrible thing about emotional and verbal abuse is that it is easy for the human psyche to forget (or push deep into the subconscious) those things that hurt emotionally. So you may be filled with anger and hate one night over the abuse you suffered, but the next morning when you wake up, and your spouse is treating you well, it is very easy to enjoy the relief you feel, making it easy to "forget." But it is still inside you, and it can build up to massive proportions, snuffing out all feelings of love and respect that you once had for your wife. This appears to have already happened to you. If left unacknowledged, it can even damage your ability to feel love and respect for anyone, including yourself.

What really stinks about emotional and verbal abuse is that it is difficult to make your spouse see what they are doing to you, and that it is wrong. They may claim to love you, respect you, and treat you well, but you know otherwise. Sometimes counseling is necessary to help the abuser to actually see their behavior, and then learn new ways to treat others that aren't abusive. You said that you've tried counseling, and it didn't change anything as far as you can tell. This may be because you initiated the counseling, and she only went because she had to. If a person doesn't recognize that they need to change, they certainly won't.

You are stating clearly in your letter to me that you want a divorce. However, you have reservations because your parents divorced and did all the things parents are not supposed to do during divorce, and none of the things they should have done. You swore that you'd never put your children through the same experience. So, what's holding you back? It sounds to me like you will NEVER do any of the same hurtful things your parents did, because it is not who you are, and because you are also going to consciously avoid making those mistakes.

If you are worried that your wife will make it ugly, and hurt the kids in the process, I can understand why you might be hesitant. But you should know this: kids are not stupid. They have eyes, and feelings, and they know a lot more than we give them credit for. If you remain calm, reasonable, and open to discussing your children's worst fears and feelings about divorce or their lives after the divorce, that will go far in giving them a firm confidence that you are there for them, and that you are an understanding, wise, and good father. This will cement your relationship, no matter what happens custody-wise. I'm guessing her verbally abusive behavior toward you now will translate into character-bashing later, maybe to the kids. But if you show them your calm, steadfast love, they will know what's true for themselves. It always works this way. And they will also see the truth in their mother at some point too. When this happens, they will need that love and support from you more than ever.

If you stay in this marriage as it stands now, you are teaching your children a few important things:

1. It's OK to be abused the way you are being abused.
2. It's normal to not be happy. (If you think they can't tell you are unhappy, think again.)
3. It's OK to treat your spouse and/or loved ones in an abusive way.

If you stay in a marriage where you are lonely, emotionally empty, and abused, you are doing your children no favors. When your emotional cup is absolutely drained and empty, how will you have anything to give the kids when something happens where they really need emotional support from you? That is a gamble you might not want to make.

You wrote, "My wife is nice enough most of the time, does a lot for me, says she appreciates me, and all. I appreciate all she does for me very much (and could
make a very long list, that unfortunately doesn't include much in the sexual arena)."

You could get the exact same thing from a maid, only the price would be money, not your SELF.

You owe it to yourself to be happy.

Make sure you get a great lawyer. Too often women get the best lawyers and men get raked over the coals for it. Stand up for yourself and your kids. If she doesn't want to listen to YOU about a divorce, maybe she'll listen to your lawyer.

December 7, 2006

Genilimaa is hilarious!

Or should I say "Senilimaa"?

Hats off to my friend from Sweden, Genilimaa. She wrote a brilliant post this week, one that's worth checking out. She often includes gimps, or great illustrations of her writing. Her English is better than mine. I really appreciate her sense of humor.

And yes, we plan to marry as soon as we can legally find a way.

December 6, 2006

Craptastically Busy

20 days until Christmas. I'm too busy this week to even care! A few things taking all my time at work and beyond:

Payment Applications need to be delivered to our clients by the 10th generally. When the 10th falls on a Sunday, I've lost some serious days. I always cut off receiving invoices in the mail on the 5th, and this really crunches things for me this week. I am SWAMPED. I will be working through lunch and late into the night every night until I'm finally done. Friday should be much better, since they better be ready for my boss to deliver by Friday morning.

Payables. In the construction industry, many lumber and hardware companies have invoices due by the 10th. The mail has been pouring in, since we have a lot of big jobs going right now. This causes me to have to process and pay payables, cutting way into my payment application process.

Drawing. I'm plugging away, and it's gonna be good, I think/hope. Unless some tragedy occurs, like my house starting on fire. Or a roof leak directly above the drawing where it waits for me. Or I lose my hand or eyesight. These are valid concerns ~ don't laugh. I plan to be done with it this weekend so I can deliver it to them on Monday. The extra money will be nice.

Putting up the decorations and tree tonight. This could be tricky, as I'm thinking I really need to be doing payment application stuff (bring home stuff) during that time. The family WILL NOT understand, so I won't do it. Tomorrow will suck!

Birthday party for my youngest on Saturday. This will only be a couple hours at a ceramic studio where they can have the entire party and paint the Christmas snowman mug she picked out. Fun times...I will have to not worry about drawing and enjoy myself.

If you are wondering why I'm taking time away from work to post this...just shut up. It only took me 3 minutes to type. Typing is what I do.

December 5, 2006

Dear SML - Cuddling Nausea

Dear SML,

I am attracted to characters in TV shows and movies. This isn't unusual in and of itself - the problem is that I'm not attracted to real people. I don't tend to put people on pedestals - I love them hairy moles, buck teeth, and all - but once I get to know a man I lose any attraction there might have been. It's not that I like him less - a lot of times I like him more once I get to know him. So what's the deal? Why does the thought of cuddling up with someone I know make me want to vomit? And how do I fix it?

-Suspended in the Second Dimension

Dear Suspended,

It is natural to become attracted to characters on TV and in movies. They are represented as ideal people with great looks, ideal living situations, they always seem to say just the right things, and they often appear to have no faults, quirks, or irritating qualities that can be so important when it comes to real life situations. This can be heady stuff to our fantasies.

I’m wondering if you’ve simply been rushed into the “cuddling up” stages of potential relationships in the past. It may be that you’re someone who needs to know someone better and longer before you will allow yourself to get intimate physically and emotionally. It’s possible that a man in your past has tried to rush the physical side, as is often the case, considering that most men have sex on their minds a lot from pre-pubescence on. The drive for sex can motivate men to behave much differently than most women, and seeing this may turn you off initially.

On the flip side, if you’ve found that you have no problem at all being physically intimate with people you barely know, but not with those you do know, then I’d venture a guess that you have issues with underlying fears holding you back. The fears that come to mind first are:
•fear of rejection
•fear of getting too close so you may get hurt if something goes wrong
•fear of letting someone real see your body that you may find imperfect
•fear of choosing the wrong Mr. Right, as if there can be only one perfect man for you
•fear that you will be sinning if you get physical with someone

If it’s fear holding you back from becoming physically close to someone you really like, I’d suggest counseling. This can do wonders for discovering what makes you tick, and for eliminating fear. Sometimes it is easier to see what we need to see through a therapist vs. seeing it in ourselves.

Many people grow up in religions that repress sexuality as sinful and wrong. This can cause a young woman (or man) to miss out on many or all of the normal steps youth take to discover their own budding sexuality and become comfortable and confident with it. Sometimes this causes fear of the unknown, especially if you have not been intimate yet. It can also cause fear of disappointing a lover, and fear of communicating what your desires are with your partner, because you were unable to practice anything remotely sexual or intimate without risking committing an unforgivable sin.

To fix this, I suggest practice. Practice touch and intimate speech with the one you are attracted to, starting with flirting. If you find your subconscious trying to convince you that it’s wrong, work on an inner dialogue where you can rationally tell yourself that you like this person, and you want to get to know them better, and that you deserve it. It is not wrong to have such feelings and desires. Breathe deeply to avoid undue nausea if you feel it coming on. Taking Dramamine before a date may also help if you truly come close to vomiting in instances like this.

If it helps you during intimacy to fantasize that the person you are with is one of the characters on TV, then do so in your own mind, and try hard to avoid saying the wrong name at the wrong time.

(Send your own DEAR SML request to

December 4, 2006

Dear SML

I've been toying with a new creative idea to try out here.

You remember Ann Landers? I was thinking how fun it might be to allow anyone who wishes to e-mail questions/problems to me, and I can attempt to dole out wise, good, funny, or horrible advice, depending on what you want to hear vs. what you will hear from me. I will keep all identities anonymous except my own. I reserve the right to pick and choose which requests I'll answer, and some weeks I may answer more than one in a post.

If you want to give it a whirl, just e-mail me at with a problem. I will copy what you say in full, and then answer, just like the advice columns we used to love. Hopefully.

If this idea goes over like a lead balloon, meaning not one person e-mails a Dear SML request for advice, then I'll nominate myself as Weenis of the Week.

December 3, 2006

He'll shit a ring around himself for sure

The portrait is proceeding nicely. I worked on it most of the day with sporadic breaks here and know, the kind of breaks that sustain life like lunch and dinner. I got one of the two faces done. I always like to wait overnight and look at it again the next morning with fresh eyes ~ sometimes it reveals mistakes that I didn't see as I was drawing. You know I'll post it on here when it's finished. What artist doesn't love to blatantly beg for praise?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love not having to cram church into my Sundays? I have had so much less stress without the weekly primary presidency meetings, sharing time preparation, phone calls from the primary president (who loved to re-hash decisions we'd made over and over and over). I'm just so glad that I don't have to do it all anymore. Not that I resented it before, just that now I can see how much of my life was sucked away into it, and it's a real relief not having it to do anymore.

I found out my dad is coming up from Utah for Christmas. I know Christmas is on Monday this year, so he'll for sure be here Sunday, and expecting us to attend church. He needs to find out that I don't believe anymore. The only way we communicate is through e-mail, and it feels weird to consider sending shocking news like that via e-mail to a parent.

A few things that could happen:

1. If I do e-mail it, there is a strong possibility that he will mass forward my explanation to every single family member I have, plus all the extended family on his e-mail list. Cousins I haven't talked to or seen in 20 years. He will most likely request that each of them put me and my family in their prayers, since our eternal souls are at stake. I can also imagine he'd do this with a regular letter scanned into the computer. He will find the most God-awful picture he has of me in his vast arsenal and will attach it to said e-mail.

2. He will come armed with as much information, books, pamphlets, and persuasion as he can to try to lead me back into the fold. I think my sister and I (who are the only ones out of his 7 children who still attend church) were his only hope. His shining stars. I'm not sure if this is presumptuous to say, but I think he felt that. Last time he came to visit, he went to church and sat in Primary with me to watch me teach sharing time. He had that same proud father look he used to get when we'd give youth talks in Sacrament Meeting.

His method will be to try to corner me and keep me in the conversation until I capitulate. He has tried doing this numerous times with talking about my mom, his ex. Like the time this spring when he found out that she was living with a boyfriend (a month after it had been going on) and he pulled my sister and me into my bedroom and said, in a hushed voice as if there were a dead body before us, "Did you know your mother has MOVED IN with a man?" My sis and I looked at each other and it was all I could do not to roll my eyes. Um, yeah, we knew it a month ago. I was good at shooting down any talking about her. I think I said something like, "I've never seen her more happy and that is the most important thing to me. I only want her happy." He tried a couple times to get us to say something and finally I just said, "This life is all about free agency, right? She needs to be allowed to choose her own life for herself." Don't make me say it, Dad. You could have kept her, but you blew it. BOTH times you were married to her.

3. He will wield his well-honed control freak nature and tell my kids to go get ready for church. Now. Then we will have a big fight. Of course, if he's a good LDS priesthood holding man, when my husband interjects and says HIS KIDS are not going, then he'll probably back down without a fight. Maybe.

4. He will leave sticky notes all over my house with reminders to choose the right. Once when I was 16, a friend came over and saw the notes. I had become used to them (translate: had ignored them for years). She and I went through the upstairs alone, and found 34. "Lint causes house fires" written directly on the dryer in permanent ink. "Lock door at all times" on the front door. "Hang Towels Up." "Turn off lights" by every light switch. "Keep fridge door closed." "Re-line garbage can." "Flush the toilet." "Wash your hands." Actually, the first four are the only ones I remember for certain. I do remember the number correctly, though. How embarrassing. And no, I'm amazed to report he never thought of writing one that said "Breathe in, breathe out."

5. He will most likely stay with my sister, and I worry that he will not talk about it at all with me (once he tries and I tell him I have nothing to discuss), but will keep my sister up every night until 2 a.m. trying to come up with reasons for how I could have had this horrible tragedy happen to me. Poor Tony. I suggest you say like I do. "I'm not discussing this. If you want to discuss it, please discuss it with Lisa." Then when he tries again, I will tell him there's nothing to discuss. I've done it and I know I'm doing what's right for me and my kids. No offense to you personally, Dad.

My sister still goes to church, even though she says she may believe the things that led me to leave it. So she'll be the one to take Dad to church on Christmas Eve, I guess.

6. He will blame my apostasy on the fact that my mother is OPENLY LIVING WITH ANOTHER MAN. Wouldn't he shit if he knew that the guy my mom lives with IS MARRIED???

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it. Just another fun thing to add to the holidays.

December 2, 2006

Get On It!

I got up early so I could blog without censure and also so I could get back to working on drawing all day on the portrait due (framed) before Christmas.

Here's a painting I did in the last year (one of my first oil paintings that I did straight from my own imagination). For me this is huge, because I'm usually not comfortable with creating art that doesn't have a reference photo. The painting is rather large, and it hangs in my bedroom amidst a bunch of other art, either finished and drying the required 6 months before varnishing, or not finished and waiting for me to remember them.

Modern Dancer 24" x 30" Oil on Canvas

December 1, 2006

What in the WORLD?!

I was on the Google search page and entered sistermarylisa. Usually I click on the top/first link to get to my blog. (I obviously don't want my blog as my home page on my work computer). Today, I answered my phone and got distracted while talking, and I ended up scrolling down the page. When I got off the phone my eyes fell on what my cursor was hovering over.

I saw my link on a website called That's News that I'd never heard of before. I have no idea how or why my blog got put on this list (found at the bottom of the page.)

Check it out, and tell me what in the heck it means, please...I am startled and wonder why this occurred. I was put into the category "News and other important links." There is a longish list of 45 news websites in the UK and other news sites from other countries, like the Irish Post, Irish Times, Washington Post, The International Herald, etc..and then at the bottom, (an artist with paintings to sell.)

What in the world?!

The header at the top says "We search the web for news and cool content, so all you have to do is to bookmark this page! Please provide backlinks to Thats News. Thank you!"

Does this mean that someone thinks I've got "COOL CONTENT" or what? I'm flattered. I really am. Not quite sure why they think I've got paintings to sell, unless they saw one or both of my posts that show 3 drawings I've done and think they are good enough to be considered paintings. Or maybe they saw this drawing I did with colored pencil back when I was 18. I do paint as well, but have nothing really available "for sale" (yet).

So...Thank you, my Anonymous Champion. Feel free to let me know who you are and why you put me out there on That's News.

I figured out the mystery all on my own! Some of the page layout in That's News looked familiar. It's from Matt at NOTAMORMON, who runs his own news portal at I think this was due to some shameless self promotion I forgot I made a long time ago on his blog. I had forgotten that he'd written about his other interests and work.

Thanks, Matt!

I'm not sure I'd be so brave...

Janet, I'm taking this moment to tell you that I'm impressed with your bravery in putting your address out there for all of us to see...all so we will SEND YOU A POSTCARD!

I will try to come up with a perfect postcard to send you. I'll try hard not to do it Post Secret style, as it looks like you may be copying any you receive on your blog. Or maybe I will......

Wouldn't that be the best???

Sister Mary Lisa's secrets right out there for your viewing pleasure. What would they be? What could they be? Does someone that prim and proper even HAVE secrets?? Oooh, I can hear your imaginations bubbling over from here!

Let me help you.

Of course
I don't have secrets. See that little halo shining above my head right now? Now get your minds out of the gutter and go get a postcard and send it to Janet.