December 31, 2007

It's snowing again

Pumping gas in the freezing cold while the snow falls heavily sucks ass. Just sayin'.

December 28, 2007

Updates and stuff

Christmas came and went, with the usual fun times watching the kids and their joy at opening their (many) gifts. Time spent with family was per tradition...good food, lots of gifts, games played, laughter.

I had to return to work the day after Christmas, and have been attempting to cram 40 hours worth of work into three days. It's been fun, let me tell ya. Not sure if we are taking off next week Monday as well as Tuesday, but I may work Monday anyway just to make my life a bit easier. Year-end stuff is adding to my usual work which is always a joy. (...do you like how I'm trying to convince myself here? Truth is, it kinda sucks but I'm avoiding saying that aloud. It helps).

I have been neglecting writing my own thoughts in my blog, but hope to write more often here as my only New Years resolution. I like it. What do you think? I generally avoid making resolutions at all for myself, recognizing that for me they are a futile endeavor anyway. If I see something that needs changing, I'm gonna just do it now, if it's that important to me. Or I'm gonna at least talk about doing it now...queen of procrastination that I am. Ha!

I wish you all a very good New Year and hope that you all find the happiness you deserve. This I wish for you above all else.

December 23, 2007

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #6

Having died (no vital signs) 4 times in this life and having my family brutally murdered in front of me, with me killing one of the murderers, I have little left to fear.

My one great fear is of being disabled. I have a touch of that from this latest stroke, where half my body still doesn't work too well (I'm typing this with one hand at about 30wpm), but I am terrified of being trapped in this body unable to communicate or do anything. My best friend's father was in that state for several months. His only communication was by the look in his eyes; he didn't even have the muscular control to blink 'yes' and 'no.' But he could cry. There are many definitions of hell; surely this must be one of them.

If I had no fear, I'd throw away all the stupid pills I take every day and just let nature take its course.

Mai (Harinder Kaur)

Some see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?
Bobby Kennedy

Other blog links for Mai: Sometimes - 2 and The Road to Khalistan

December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays!

May your holidays be filled with joy, love, and happiness this year!

I want to send you all a personal greeting card from SML, but since I can't, this will have to do. I have enjoyed this last year getting to know you. Perhaps more importantly, I've enjoyed getting to know myself better with your help, so thank you for that! I feel like blogging has helped me to grow as a person, and I feel for the first time that I'm actually steering my own ship. It's pretty cool.

I hope you are all able to enjoy whatever celebrations you have in the coming weeks, and that you realize that you are special to me in ways you may never know.


(PS ~ I wanted to and even tried to get a pretty image of a snowflake onto this post, but it kept failing on me so I bagged it. It's the thought that counts...)

December 20, 2007

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #5

free from fear

fear is the feeling, the false reality, the insidiousness that binds us, fetters us, keeps us stuck

fear of what is out there away from the shelter and support of family weighs heavy on me…family fears for me, wants me to stay close, discounts my happiness in favor of what is frightening…this fear is a direct outgrowth of religious training, which is rooted in fear as a mechanism to keep adherents on the straight and narrow, holding to the rod, contemplating every possible consequence to the point of debilitating standstill…all in an effort to achieve perfection and immortality…all while letting life pass me by

free from fear

if i were, i would sell all that i have and follow my bliss…my bliss would be “making it up” as i move along…i would be a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker…i would open a card shop, a gift shop, a flower shop, a book shop, a cakes and cookies shop…i would write children’s books, coloring books, novels, erotica…i would go back to school and climb mountains and swim oceans and become wise…i would only work for me and never answer to anyone ever again…i would learn to do well the things i love best: cooking, writing, capturing beauty in word, picture, and paint…i would buy a vw van and live in it, worrying only about gas and food and where to bathe; no utility bills, no mortgage payment, no settling, and being stuck in one place…i would be a vagabond and stop worrying about responsible stability

free from fear

if i were, i would stand up to my parents and clearly articulate to them who i am and why i have made the choices i’ve made in my life…i would resign my membership in the church and do it without regret…i would never question again whether i’ve made the right choices and whether i’m going to hell or whether god loves me…i would never worry about whether i’m enough and i would stop worrying about how to avoid upsetting my family or hurting their feelings while suppressing my own…i would never again apologize for who i am

free from fear

if i were, i would go to berlin and london and rome, delhi and beijing and moscow, yellowknife and macchu picchu and patagonia, kinshasa and tangier and istanbul, taos and fargo and niagara…i would breath in their beauty…in the darkness i inhabit, i would walk the avenues of paris, hand in hand…in the luminescence of the city of lights, my darkness would melt away and my heart would grow warm and passionate again…you would be there…i would be there…the energy would be palatable…but real…and i would embrace it without fear

free from fear

if i were, i would free my better half…we stay together out of fear, false security, ease…i would free us from each other…then, i would find my way to the one i love, have always loved, still love…i would stand on her doorstep and to her and the neighbors and the world around declare, i love you…i would not fear whether she would love me in return or send me packing…i would only fear not saying those words…i love you

if i were…

December 19, 2007

If I were free from all fear, I would... Posts on Other Blogs (Updated)

A couple of online friends have been brave and posted their thoughts on this subject on their own blogs, and they are worth sharing here.

FtA at Emerging From the Ashes

Sillynut at He Gave Me My Eyes, That I Might See

Angie at Touch of the Phoenix

Cele at Oh Joy, It's Me


JulieAnn at Ravings of a Mad Woman


Sideon at Sideon's Sanctuary

Chandelle at Our Organic Life

If I missed any others, please email me so I can link to your blog. I am LOVING your thoughts and daring, my friends. Thanks for sharing.


**Edited to type Chandelle's name correctly. I seriously thought I DID type it the right way with a D, and hadn't. *blushing* How embarrassing!**

December 18, 2007

Been busy...

I have been pretty busy lately, unable to take time to post on my blog. I still have a ton of memories to share from my trip to Paris...that will be coming soon. With pictures, even!

I've been enjoying all the thoughts on what you'd do if you were free of all fear! Thanks so much to those of you who shared your posts on your blogs and to those who posted here. I am impressed by your raw honesty and heartfelt introspection, and I feel lucky to associate with such wonderful people cyberly. (Is cyberly a word??)

I finally got my work Christmas cards out, addressed almost 200 of them by hand, as well as addressing around 50 gift certificates. Amazingly, I also got my own greeting cards filled out and now just need to mail them. Any overseas friends will get them after Christmas, sadly. But at least they will know I am thinking of them.

My ten-year old daughter made a gingerbread house at home a couple nights ago, it looks awesome! I'll get a photo of it and post it if I remember. She basically did it herself. So cute. Today I'll go to her school and make another one with her. I look forward to it. She's very creative and it's fun to watch her shine. She and I love to do artistic things together. When we are at the ceramics place, we both sit there focused intently on our art, and we hardly speak. Bliss! Other people watch us and probably wonder how we can be so boring and quiet...

I've got all my Christmas gift wrapping to do still, which I had planned to do this weekend but a horrible migraine prevented me from doing it. Oy, I hate headaches. Last night we had a music concert for my 14 year old son ~ my youngest and I laughed silently throughout the concert as we made faces at each other to the music! so fun ~ and tonight is a Christmas party for my husband's work, so I guess tomorrow I can hit the wrapping hot and heavy. We may have a birthday dinner for my 22 year old daughter Thursday night. Somewhere in there I will also be shopping a bit more.

I can do this, right?

December 13, 2007

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #4

If I were free of fear I would see my vulnerability as strength. I could love my wife more fully without worrying if I will get anything in return. I could give compassion completely to anyone without wanting reciprocity . If I were free of fear I would tell that anonymous woman that I think she is beautiful, I could flirt, and not feel guilty. Free of fear I would not be worried about how I look when trying to ride a skateboard, a surf board, walking down the street. I could be homeless and eating out of dumpsters. I could talk to my LDS cousins without the nagging feeling that I am a total loser.

Free of fear I could leave the church I was brought up in, (did that) completely; I could write my thoughts and opinions and post them where total strangers could see them and comment on them. (hey......I do that too....so did all of you. cheers! you fearless people)

Wayne

beatdad.blogspot.com

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #3

If I were free of all fear (and guilt), I would....

Pack a suitcase of clothing for my children and I, leave my husband a "Dear John" letter and walk out the door. I'd find a bungalow downtown to live in and I wouldn't be afraid of living alone with my small children. They could play on the street with their friends all day long and be safe.
I'd tell my parents, to their face, that I resigned my membership from the church and explain in detail why I left.
I'd hold my head up high and tell people that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I wouldn't care about their reaction. They wouldn't show me pity, they would just understand.
I would find a job that required me to be creative, artistic and then throw myself into my work. I'd go back to school, just for fun. There would not longer be "have tos", I would only have "want tos".
I'd drive my car as fast as I want to, music blaring and I'd let my hair blow wildly in the 35 degree wind. When I get pulled over, I'd pay the handsome police officer off by having incredible sex in the back of my car on the side of the highway. I'd write my name and phone number in the steam on the windows afterward.
I would dance naked in my kitchen (which I do now), with the blinds up and without fear of the neighbors gawking. I would sing loudly, and maybe a little off key, but it would be from my heart.
I would sun bathe naked during the summer and get a tan without lines. I'd put blond streaks in my hair and go out dancing with my friends. I'd wear a tight red dress and let my breasts overflow... there would be no fear of men staring. I'd let my sexuality just be and learn how to strip and grind my body against the pole.
I'd travel the world, meeting friends, making friends and just enjoying other cultures. I would stay as long as I like, without consequence. There would be no itinerary, I would plan nothing... just go by feeling.
I'd fly to Paris and meet my extended family. I've never met them and I want to.
I'd meet an attractive man in an elevator...rather then turn my eyes away, I would look at his deep blue eyes and make the first move. We'd go to his hotel room and make love (or screw like rabbits, whichever I choose) all night long. I would have no fear of STDs or pregnancy. His only desire would be to please me.
I would say "Fuck" more often, in front of who ever I wanted, without fear or consequence.
I'd tell my mother what I really do and how I feel, instead of sugar coating everything so she can live in her Mormon bliss.
I'd wear slippers and pajamas all day and not feel guilty or think I'm lazy.
If I was free of fear, I would take more time for myself, do more for myself and love myself more.

Enlightened Fairy

December 12, 2007

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #2

Let me just preface this by saying that on the outside, I am fearless. I have adrenaline and dare in spades when it comes to the physical. Skydiving? Boring. Bungee jumping? Yawn. Public speaking? For sissies. But being vulnerable? That scares the shit out of me. Can I say shit? Well, I did. And it does.

If I were free from all fear, I would do what I love for a living. I'd stop it with this Corporate America crap and throw myself into my photography and into teaching. I'd apply for that doctorate program I have my eye on and stop hedging because I'm nervous about having a safety net. I'd travel the world and take pictures of every pretty flower, every beautiful bridge, and every gorgeous person I see.

If I were free from all fear, I would be myself - my whole self - around my family and old friends. I'd stop being a watered-down version because I wouldn't be worried about rejection. I'd tell my parents that I actually learned more about unconditional love and integrity after I stopped going to their church. I'd tell my family that my being gay isn't evil, but their efforts to get me to conform are. I'd tell them that they have nothing to be afraid of.

If I were free from all fear, I would spend more time being still. I'd let myself just feel my emotions as they come up instead of constantly doing something to drown them out.

If I were free from all fear, I would spike the eggnog at my family Christmas party. At every family party, actually. I'd at least sneak a flask for myself.

If I were free from all fear, I would stand up for myself more. I'd accept that yes, I'm a really nice person - but that doesn't mean I have to sacrifice my wants. I'd understand that it's okay to be an asshole sometimes. In a business setting, I have no problem saying what's on my mind. But if I were free from fear, I'd do myself a favor and do that with the people I love, too. They mean the most to me anyway, and that would probably improve my relationships.

If I were free from all fear, I'd go out to dinner and order something crazy. I'd stop playing it safe, even with the menu. I'd have one too many drinks, spend a little too much, and stay up a little too late dancing my ass off. I'd request Britney Spears.

If I were free from fear, I would have more faith in myself. I'd let myself be as smart, as daring, and as amazing as I want to be. I'd follow my outburst from when I was four, when I shouted, "I don't WANT to be reverent!" in the middle of church. I'd stop thinking that my life has to fit nicely and neatly into a little perfectly-wrapped box. I'd let my past mistakes go and be a little easier on myself because my life has been one hell of a ride so far. I'd let go of one trapeze before I reached out for the next ...

LG

If I were free of all fear, I would...Guest Post #1

If I were free of all fear:

I would:

Not worry about how much money there is (or isn't) in my bank account and just live

Climb up the steep, metal-grate stairs to the top of the old powerhouse with you to watch the fireworks from the edge of the roof during winter carnival

Have a real orgasm, not fake one after just a few minutes because I am scared to let my husband know how long it really takes me to come and it's been so long now I just can't tell him I have always faked...

December 11, 2007

How can I expect you to do it if I'm too scared to?

Here is my writing from months ago which I wrote when I was asked what I'd do if I were free of all fear. I figured that it was pretty lame to ask you to post about your fears if I can't do it too. Of course, you are able to do so anonymously here, whereas I'm putting myself out there somewhat. So be kind, please. This isn't easy.

If I were magically free of all fear, I would swim naked in the ocean. . .in daylight. . .with my friends. . .with large sharks swimming around me. . .in water over my head. . .and I'd calmly let the currents pull me into the deeper water until the shore was no longer in view. Hell, if I were fearless I'd swim AT ALL.

I'd go dancing in high heels and a little black dress, and I would dance alone in the middle of the floor, my arms raised high and my hair and hips swaying to the music, and I would relish all eyes on me. I would accept the drink bought by the handsome stranger across the room, and I'd confidently charm him and would later enjoy our one-night-stand. I would return home the next morning without regret.

If I were magically free of all fear, I would quit my day job (my awesome day job that allows me to blog a lot) and I'd become the artist I know I am. I'd laugh in the face of rejections and I'd damn well shine. I'd approach the best galleries to sell my art.

I'd eat alone in my favorite restaurant, and then I'd go to the movies alone too. Afterward, I'd walk to my car with confidence that nobody bad was lurking in the dark shadows near my car. I'd roll down my windows and crank up the volume and I'd sing along. . .You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel. . .

If I were magically free of all fear, I'd book a trip to Austria immediately so I could visit my LDS host family I abandoned for 12 years after being afraid to tell them I got pregnant at BYU, and I'd tell them (in person this time) that their adoptive daughter left the church, and why. I'd say it with caring and with confidence that their love for me is secure. I'd also book a month-long trip with my host sister to heal the wounds I caused by not calling, writing, or staying in touch from the time she was 13 to when she was 25. I was her only "sister" and I really let her down. I'd attempt to make it up to her bigtime.

I'd write a novel. A very good novel.

I'd tell people what I really feel and not worry that they'll think less of me for my honesty. I'd also do it with style.

I'd take myself and my kids to a counselor and we'd learn how to communicate better, if I were free of all fear. I'd encourage my husband to do the same. If I were free of all fear, I'd say what I really mean and I'd mean what I say, and I wouldn't worry about the ramifications of doing so, which are probably all in my mind anyhow. I'd walk away from people who consistently hurt me with their words, because I would have no fear that my happiness isn't worth fighting for or that I don't deserve to be happy.

If I were magically free of all fear, I'd walk up to Dubya and tell him what I really think of his fucking bumbling ineptitude.

If I were magically free of all fear, I'd take the chance to meet each and every one of you as I travel the world to gather experiences and reference material for my art and my writing. Oh, who am I kidding?? I'd meet every one of you because I love you and feel like you have made me whole. And I'd tell you that to your face, because I fear nothing.

If you were fearless, what would YOU do?

December 10, 2007

If I were free of all fear, I would...

I have an idea that I'd like to try with the help of my friends who read my blog. Once a very good friend gave me the assignment to write about this topic:

If I were free of all fear, I would...

I posted it elsewhere, and it was raw and scary and amazing to write about my fears and to interact with others about them from the relative anonymity of the internet. So I hereby propose that it'd be cool for anyone who wishes to anonymously send me their thoughts on this topic, and I'll post them here for anyone to read and comment on. Trust me, this is way cool to do. It puts you in touch with yourself in a way that is not common, and I was so glad I did it.

If you're interested, send me your thoughts on what you'd do if you were free of all fear to sistermarylisa@gmail.com (use Fear as your subject line or something so I don't think it's spam) ~ your identity will remain anonymous (unless you specify otherwise) and I will probably post one at a time. Not only will this be fun for you, it'll revive my blog that has been sadly neglected while I've been buried at work. And if you should choose to do this and not send it to me, that's good too.

Good luck, and happy writing.

December 4, 2007

Vanity Plates....Oy.

Yet another sighting of a vanity plate in my ongoing saga with vanity plates that just had to be shared...

CHSE HED

I'm certain that this vehicle owner didn't actually think before doing this, considering the three Jesus fish symbols on the back of the car, and the bumper sticker that read "Let Jesus in the Schools" And perhaps I need more Jesus in my life, but seriously...I saw that license and two things came to mind first:

CHASE HEAD

CHOOSE HEAD

I obviously need to get back to work and get my mind out of the gutter.

December 2, 2007

Paris: Arc de Triomphe

Montchan and I finished shopping and we returned to our apartment where Genilimaa was waiting for us, eating baguette bread and brie cheese. We snacked on the bread for awhile until Tari called to tell us she had arrived! We ran out to let her in and greet her, and we were thrilled to finally be together at last after months of looking forward to this!

She got settled and we decided to find a restaurant for dinner. We found one a block or so away and enjoyed a good time talking and laughing and hearing about everyone's travel experiences and lives. It was fun to discover that the women I had enjoyed getting to know through their blogs were much like I expected. Each of them were beautiful and fun to be around, and I enjoyed getting to know them in person. Montchan is an American woman who grew up in South Africa (her accent came as a surprise to me, I don't know why!) who now lives in Sweden where her husband works. Genilimaa is a Swedish woman who lives in the same town as Montchan. They met after the local newspaper reported about Montchan's blog. Tari is an Indonesian woman who lives in Tokyo ~ she was in Paris to conduct a conference for her work, and this was what brought the two from Sweden to Paris to have a girls' weekend, which resulted in an invitation to me. I'm so happy I met them in person. Finding such good friends is priceless to me.

Those first two days I didn't drink any alcoholic drinks because I was still pretty tired due to jet lag, and drinks make me sleepy sometimes and I didn't want to risk it. I enjoyed eating and talking ~ I think that dinner was very late (my memories are already somewhat hazy detail-wise) and was surprised when someone said it was after 11:00 pm while we ate. After dinner we walked back to our apartment and crashed for the night.

The next morning we got up and ate breakfast then headed out to buy tickets for the Metro, and then took the subway to the Arc de Triomphe, where Tari planned to meet with a friend whom she wanted to visit.
Emerging from the Metro just below the Arc de Triomphe.


We stood in the cold wind underneath the arches, reading the names on the walls and taking photos and laughing and planning what we'd do for the rest of the day. Genilimaa and I planned to visit The Louvre, while Montchan planned to shop some more (at The Gap, no less...something about her husband needing some specific clothes and The Gap not being anywhere near them in Sweden ~ we had a good laugh at that considering all the shopping opportunities in Paris). Eventually Tari's friend arrived and we all went our separate ways.




Tari, Genilimaa, and Montchan

















I made my friends pose for about a thousand photos to try to get good photos like this one. Isn't it great?! Thanks for being such good sports about it!

November 23, 2007

Seven Weird Things ~ Tagged Again

Sumwun tagged me to share seven weird things about myself again...I have to wonder why I'm always tagged on the sharing weirdnesses posts. I have shared more weird things about myself than I care to admit.

1. Every time I get out of my car at the grocery store, I walk away from the car and hit the door lock button on my key thing at least three times. I hear the honk and the headlights flash but I still have to do this three times. Sometimes I even turn around to watch it happen.

2. My pinkie finger on my right hand is as big as my middle finger. It looks unnatural, and I am so self-conscious of it. I have no idea why it's malformed. It kind of makes writing with pens and pencils difficult. Thank goodness it doesn't affect my drawing, though.

3. Watching men's individual figure skating during the Olympics is a real turn-on for me. Am I the only one who thinks those outfits and moves are sexy?

4. I had a Tina Turner hairstyle in 7th grade. I thought she was so beautiful. I often danced to her Private Dancer song alone in my bedroom, but only when my dad was out of town, since he thought she was a tramp and evil.

5. I never pump my own gas. I won't do it. Do you have any idea how many germs are on those pump handles?! Dart finds this a nuisance at times, but I don't care. I will not pump my own gas. He can do it.

6. It never fails ~ every morning when I first wake up, the song from Oklahoma goes through my head: "Oh what a beautiful mooorning, oh what a beautiful day. I've got a wonderful feeeeling, everything's going my way!"

7. I made up all these weird things. None of them are true.

;)

November 22, 2007

Life as a Goddess...or...Thankful I'm Not One

I wanted to share my response to Reformed_Egyptian's question to women on FLAK about what they felt being a goddess in the next life entailed. Here is what I think it will be like if the LDS church is teaching the truth about the nature of God...

You say you haven't given the subject a ton of thought, and I can't blame you as it's obvious that the entire focus is placed on God and Godhood, not goddess and goddesshood. I can tell you that being married to a non-member makes a woman like me keenly aware of this subject. I came to realize over time that I had a few possible scenarios available to reach salvation and become a goddess:

1. Outlive my husband and seal myself to him posthumously, and risk his saying no way again like he did when he received the discussions in this life.
2. Divorce my husband and find a TBM man willing to seal himself to me.
3. Be as righteous as I can and endure to the end, and in the next life find some stranger and become his second, third, or hundredth wife. Remain hopeful that my children will also get sealed in the temple someday to their own spouse and endure to the end so perhaps God will let their mansion be next door to mine in the celestial kingdom. Hope also that my never-mo stepdaughter will someday join as well, so I will be able to live with her in eternity also.

What does actual goddesshood mean to me? I can only guess from the example I've been given about God by the teachings of the gospel:

I will have countless children with my husband in the next life. We will love all our children very much. (I am not going to portray any sister wives in my example here, to make it easy. That is a whole post unto itself.) My husband will choose two favored sons who will be asked to outline what they think my husband requires of them in his plan for all his children…one will guess slightly wrong and my husband will banish him as well as one third of all our children who thought his guess was right. The other son will guess correctly and will be favored and blessed. Together, my husband and the chosen favorite son will create a new world where my husband will send our children after taking their memory of me and him completely away. My husband’s plan includes only telling a select few of our boy children (whom he makes prophets) to tell our other children that he expects them to do certain ordinances in the temple in order to live in the celestial kingdom with us. Those of our children who don’t get the ordinances completed as per my husband’s plan will live in a lesser kingdom which I will not be able to visit.

My children will learn a song as mortal children: “I am a child of God….and HE has sent me here….” They will be taught that they must honor, obey, and worship almighty God in all ways if they wish to live with us again. My husband will command our children to always remember him and to keep his commandments. He will command our children to pray to him always, to thank him for all their blessings, all glory to his name. I will not be mentioned in any of the important books and doctrine that my children are told they need in order to be saved. He will teach our children that it is good and right for our sons to have authority and dominion over all the earth, and they will be given the power to act in their father’s name and will be told they preside over their families.

He will teach our children that it is good and right for our daughters to have only one valid role to aspire toward: being a mother in Zion. They will be taught by my husband that in order to prove their love to him, they must embrace this one role and nurture all their children to the best of their ability. But for some reason, my husband chooses not to show our children my nurturing skills. They will have no example of my nature as a guide to follow.

But wait! There is that one song among hundreds of hymns which glorify my husband as God ~ ”O My Father” which mentions me once:

”In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there.”

Not sure how that one line is helpful to my children, but hey! It’s something. And I love music, but of course my children won’t know that about me either. And when any of our children think of me enough to actually pray to me publicly…well. That’s a huge no-no. My husband doesn’t like this. My sons who have the power to act in my husband’s name will admonish any of my children who dare to pray to me openly, and if they won’t cease such a practice, they will be punished, seriously risking their chance to live in my presence again someday in the top level of heaven.

When my children finish their mortal testing, they will be made to stand before my husband and his favorite son, who will together judge each of my children to determine which is worthy to live in the celestial kingdom and which will not. I will not be part of the judging process. In all their sinning on earth, my children were expected to pray to my husband for forgiveness and mercy, I had nothing whatever to do with any of that. This is sad, since I am merciful, loving, and kind, and a good judge of my children’s hearts. I also know that my children who don’t make it to the top level of heaven will never be allowed to see me or my husband because we will not visit the lesser kingdoms. Those children will be alone for eternity. Too bad.

The truth is, if this is the way it is to be for me as a goddess, I much prefer to be single and alone in hell than married to such a man as God at my side who has no problem keeping me as an unmentionable afterthought in the lives of our children.

November 18, 2007

Paris: Apartment

After getting our hair done, Montchan and I found another taxi and we headed for the train station where we planned to meet Genilimaa before heading to the rental company to get the keys to our apartment. I was amazed at the traffic in Paris! I thought Utah drivers were bad. In Paris you might see there are two lanes marked on the road (if there are markings at all), yet four lanes are crammed up into the two, not including the motorcycles that roar through between the lanes. It’s insane. I think Paris taxi drivers are some pretty amazing drivers to do what they do. I would be so stressed out if I had to drive in traffic like it. Wow!

We got to Gare du Nord train station, and tried to find the Tourism Office Genilimaa told us was across the street, but we had no luck and got tired of my luggage again, so we found a little café there and sat down to wait. We called Gen who arrived shortly thereafter.
We had a yummy apple tart pastry and some tea until she arrived. When she did, she also had tea then we made our way to the apartment. She was a bundle of energy and was fun to finally meet in person! It really is great to put a face and personality with the blog persona. Another taxi ride to the office, then on to our apartment.

Our apartment was located at 29 Rue Rambuteau, a great area very close to shopping and Metro and the Pompidou Center, which we first thought was a parking garage, humorously enough. We entered the code to open the outer door, which opened into a tiled entryway with mailboxes. It was totally dark until we found the light switch, and we went forward and entered the second code to get through another door. Beyond that was a regular sized door requiring no code which led to a curving, old wooden staircase. It was fortunate that Montchan’s luggage hadn’t arrived, because she helped me schlep the luggage up to the second floor where for the next twenty minutes we tried to get our key to work to no avail. We were laughing and frustrated and swearing, and finally we resorted to sweet-talking and caressing the door in an effort to make the lock open the damn door. Genilimaa had been told the key was tricky by the office where we got the key, so she went back out to the street to phone them and find out the trick to opening it.

SML and Genilimaa trying to get the damn door unlocked

We finally got it open after about twenty minutes, and we entered a cute little apartment that looked to be perfect for our stay. It was so exciting! Upon opening the door, we walked through into a hallway that we could see led past a kitchen area into the living room which had quaint French windows that faced across the alley/street into another building with similar windows facing ours. Just to the left of the entrance door was a bedroom with floor-to-ceiling closet mirrors on the opposite wall, and a king sized bed covered in a white down comforter which immediately reminded me of my bed in Austria which had a similar comforter on it when I lived there. There was a somewhat mildewy smell which came from the bathroom beside the bed, which obviously had leaky problems in the wall beside the toilet. But it appeared clean and cozy and we were very happy. The couches in the living room were red futons, and there was a coffee table and lamps and stools by the counter that divided the kitchen from the living room which fit right in.
The ceilings were high and we were all happy we had chosen to rent the apartment, as it was only 37 Euro per night per person, much cheaper than the hotel which cost over 100 Euro per night per person.


Montchan and I went shopping for clothes (since her luggage hadn’t arrived) while Genilimaa stayed behind to buy breakfast groceries at one of the little markets across the street from our building. Tari was due to arrive around dinnertime, so we had some time. It was awesome to walk the streets of Paris and see the sights first hand vs. on television or in pictures. I loved how we had a grocery store, a deli, a bakery, shops, and restaurants all around us near our apartment…it was so convenient and so fun to step out onto the narrow little street lined with bumper-to-bumper little cars, and look up to see the blooming plants and vines from the quaint and charming windows and know that I was in Paris! The smells were so reminiscent of Vienna and the distant sound of police cars which are so different from those in the states, and the many people walking in all directions in stylish hats and scarves and jackets made me so glad I had done this crazy thing.

November 17, 2007

Paris: Salon Visit

Montchan and I were so damn glad to have finally found each other, and we were both so tired from our flights and adventures that we chose to take a taxi to our next destination: our hair appointment in Paris which we hoped wasn’t lost because we were two hours late. Her luggage had not arrived in Paris with her, so she was bummed about that. We got dropped off and she found the salon by remembering the area from the last time she had been there (and by asking some nice guys in a grocery store where they thought it might be), and she went inside to see if they could fit us in while I stood outside with my three pieces of luggage.

Three pieces of luggage, you ask? Why, yes. I had a suitcase type carry-on, a suitcase for my clothes, and a suitcase containing items Taiko Tari and Montchan had requested from the US, such as a queen-sized buckwheat pillow, a two-man tent, a large box of Bounce fabric softener sheets, 17 pairs of Victoria’s Secret undies, and some dental floss. It felt crazy having that much luggage for four and a half days, and it was such a pain lugging it down the beautiful streets of Paris, and into the tiny salon once they said we could have our hair done even though we had missed our appointments. They were so kind.

Montchan having her hair cut by Steve

I admit I was embarrassed by my hair being so nappy…I had flown for what felt like days and felt all greasy and gross. My stylist, whose name is Warren, washed my hair while Montchan had hers washed too, and then I was sitting in a chair in front of the mirror, trying to tell him what I’d like, but I think I was talking too fast so in the end I simply said my hair was limp, and I needed more body. He said in a very charming accent “Body? More body?” only his accent made the word body sound like “Bow day.” In the end, I said I trust him to make me beautiful and give my hair body. He began to cut.in silence while Montchan and I occasionally talked during our cuts. We enjoyed the look of the place: wood floors, pink walls, ceiling painted in metallic gold, stylish and fabulous gay guys cutting our hair, two dogs walking around underfoot, and a fixture on the wall that is best shown rather than described:



I know I will NEVER find one of these in Montana, even though I’ve seen thousands of them hanging here. I love it.







Warren, my stylist

My hair was finished first, and Warren had done the impossible: he had given my hair body! I loved it. They allowed us to take pictures, and we gave them our blog addresses so they could see themselves on our blogs. Warren plans someday in the next five years to head to Miami and live and work. He’ll succeed wherever he goes, he’s great! His was the best haircut I've ever had.

Now if only I could figure out how to get back there every three months to have my hair done...

November 15, 2007

Paris: Arrival


The thing I forgot about international travel is how great the people-watching is. I left Montana half an hour later than scheduled due to a delay, that fortunately didn’t hinder my following flights. It was a quick trip to Denver where I sat next to a kid who said he was in 9th grade (14?) but who looked to be about 12. He was very friendly and was headed to a Catholic youth conference in Ohio. I had about half an hour before boarding the next flight to Washington, D.C. On that flight, I sat next to a woman who was headed back to Vermont where she grew up, although she did spend some time living in San Diego. We had an interesting discussion and I learned things about her and I could tell she was someone I would be friends with if we lived close. In D.C. I spent an hour sitting and watching the masses of interesting people walk by me. I love to speculate about their lives, and let me tell you, I come up with some great stories when I take the time to sit and watch and wonder.

All my layovers were shorter than 1.5 hours each, and lucky for me, each new terminal was only one or two away from the previous one I came from which made it smooth and simple for me.

The flight to Paris from D.C. was interesting. I sat between one woman who was headed to Paris for the third time this year, going to visit her daughter who works there, whose husband is a stay-at-home dad. She beamed telling me she about spending ten days with her granddaughters. The woman on my right was a bit more reserved, because after making small-talk for a minute, she fell asleep and then so did I. I had hoped to sleep the entire flight in an effort to eliminate jet lag, since I arrived at 6:20 a.m. Paris time. The woman to my right woke up in the last hour, as did I, and we had a very interesting and thoughtful conversation about religion (she asked what my connection was with the different women I was spending time with in Paris, and I admitted that I knew them through blogging ~ ex-Mormons making up the majority of them, although none of us blog solely about being ex-Mormon). Her name is Carole (hi, Carole, if you are reading this!) and she’s a fascinating woman (doctor in Oregon with French parents) who will hopefully read my blog (she said she’d check it out) and who will stay in contact that way or through emails. She really made that flight enjoyable for me, as well as standing in line to have our passports stamped, and standing at the baggage claim area too. She was another woman I think I’d love to become friends with if we lived in the same town and I had met her in the usual ways in person.

While I had been in the airport in Denver, I saw I had a voicemail and it was Montchan, informing me that our master plan of her arriving in Paris the night before and meeting me at the airport so we could go back to her hotel to shower and prepare for the day went awry when she got stuck in Amsterdam due to a hole in her airplane (!!!). I made my way to the United Airlines desk where she had hoped to leave me a message with her arrival times, but I called Dartman first who was glad I finally did, as it was midnight for him and he had a message for me from her. She would arrive at 10 a.m. and I was to wait. So with hours to burn, here I sit, typing a blog post while I watch fascinating and interesting people walk by. Next to me in the row of seats is quite possibly the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen (besides my son, of course). If it weren’t rude, and if his mother didn’t look harassed enough, I’d take his picture and paint him later. He keeps talking to me and bumping my arm and doing that little kid flirting, but I don’t understand a word he says. I wish I did. I think he’s probably 3 years old.

I got to Europe and discovered my cell phone has no service here like I thought it would. Sigh. That could be a pain. But once I get to my apartment (first two nights) and then the hotel (second two) I’ll have my computer and can communicate with my family via Skype or emails. In awhile I’ll use my credit card and call Montchan’s cell to let her know where I’m waiting for her. She said she was arriving via Terminal 2F, and there is no F after any terminal signs I see. So I hope this is it. Having no cell phone in a situation like this sucks ass.

I’m loving being here, I think this will be a memory to treasure. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog about it while I’m with my friends, but I certainly will give more detail after I return home.

If we didn’t miss our appointment due to Montchan’s late arrival, she and I plan to have our hair cut somewhere in Paris this morning, and after lunch we will be meeting up with Genilimaa to check in to our apartment where Taiko Tari will meet us as well. Then the fun can begin.

In the meantime, I shall stare at all the beautiful people of the world and wonder what their lives are like.


***UPDATE***
I was waiting for Montchan in the completely wrong terminal…sitting outside the only arrivals area I could find after exploring the entire building. As I was finally beginning to panic just a twinge, I walked back to the United Airlines information desk at departures to see if she had left a message (I had called her cell phone ten times but no answer) but she hadn’t…so I went back to the one place I had described to her in a message the one time I got through on her cell phone, and as the elevator door opened, I heard a very heavily-accented French voice over the intercom: “Paging Leeza Frrraahhnk. Paging Leeza Frrraahhnk, would Leeza Frrraahhnk please come to the information desk at Terminal 1 Meeting Area please?” and I had never heard such a sweet sound in all my life! It was noon, and I had been waiting for almost six hours. Montchan had found me! The funny thing was, she was told they don’t page people at that desk, so she stepped away a few steps and began calling my name at the top of her voice, then she turned around and got a little finger motioning her back to the desk, so they could page me rather than have to hear her making such a racket. The memory of her telling that story with a mischievous grin in her eye makes me smile again as I recall it. The sad part of the Charles deGaull airport in Paris is they have no maps that show the airport having multiple buildings located far from each other, and very poor signage that gives you a clue that this could be the case. But now I know and will never make that mistake again. Terminal 2 where Montchan arrived and waited for me was 15 minutes away by airport tram. Nice. My first blonde moment in Paris.

November 14, 2007

Jet lag...

Is kicking my ass.

Home from Paris

I am sitting on the airplane, high above a layer of fluffy cotton batting, with wisps of blue ocean showing through thin spots in the clouds and blending into the atmosphere that seems to go on forever.

The pilot announced that this flight to Chicago from Paris will last 8 hours and 52 minutes. I already ate lunch, watched a movie, and took a little nap, and now I’m happy to write my thoughts while they’re fresh. The greatest part of this flight is that only about half the seats are taken, which gives me my window seat and also the one next to the aisle ~ aaaah, sweet leg room! If I had a stranger next to me, I’d never feel comfortable writing this where he or she could watch me and read what I’m writing. I know once I return home (after two layovers and thousands of miles and hours of flying and time zone differences), I will be dead tired. Work tomorrow should be fun because I will be busy as hell catching up on what I missed while I was away. But I don’t want to think of that right now, because…

I have fallen in love with Paris!

I heard many times from many different people that I should expect to find French people rude and contemptuous toward Americans, and I am here to tell you that this is a Big Lie. Instead, I found French people to be pleasant, hospitable, kind, charming, and with a style and flair that I now consider purely Paris. I wish I knew the French language, which I feel is vital to fully appreciating and understanding the people there, but for now I leave Paris with a love for it that will remain with me forever. I have found a new place to cherish.

Of course, another reason I will always cherish Paris is because my friends have given me memories that I hope to remember forever. I split my time in Paris in half, with two sets of friends for each half. Montchan, Genilimaa, and Taiko Tari were with me my first two days, and the second two days I was with Wry Catcher, Chanson, HM-UK (Aitch), and Ripzip. I knew from their blog writing and from emails and chats that these women were people I would love to meet, and I feel so very lucky to have been able to finally meet them in real life. Each is unique and beautiful in her own way, and very special to me. I am so happy to be able to call them friends. Thanks to each of you for joining in on my ladies’ weekend in Paris! What a fun time it was ~ I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I plan to write and share my thoughts and adventures one at a time, so I can have a good record of my memories (yes, I’ll include photos) while they are still fresh in my mind. I’ll post my first one soon, and hopefully all of them will be posted with little or no long lapses in between.

For now, I’ll leave you with this advice: Start saving immediately and go to Paris as soon as you can. You’ll love it, I promise. Especially if you are with friends you love.

November 7, 2007

feeling magnanimous

The huge spider crawling across my office floor (that resembles a gray crab with a huge butt) has no idea how lucky he is I'm going to Paris within 24 hours!

I'm just too happy to kill anything right now. Instead I let him crawl onto a piece of paper and then I carried the paper outside and let him live.

I should go to Paris more often! It makes me a nice guy.

November 2, 2007

Once upon a time...

There was a little girl who was so busy getting ready to go to Paris she didn't think she'd ever see her way free.

The end.

October 26, 2007

Q&A from Wry Catcher

***A huge thanks to my good friend Wry Catcher for her great questions that really made me think. You're awesome, and I look way forward to meeting you in Paris in a couple weeks!

Q: What was the best thing about your life growing up? The worst? If you could go back and change one thing about your childhood, what would it be? Why?

A: The best thing about my life growing up was having so many siblings, they're awesome. I was particularly close to my brother who's a year older than me ~ he was my best friend always, although I've got other siblings now whom I consider best friends in addition to him (now that I'm making the effort to get to know them better and be a better sister). I remember as a teen asking my mom why we had to have 8 kids in our family, complaining about how it made me miss out on some things due to lack of money, and she asked me a question I never forgot: "Which of your brothers or sisters would you like me to get rid of so you can have the life you want?" Wise, wise Madre. None, of course.

The worst thing about my life growing up was my Dad's behavior. He was often emotionally and physically abusive. I don't think he was a very happy person, and this was a continual problem in our family. A big problem. It was a happy place the five days he'd be gone doing the traveling salesman thing, but the second he walked in the door, we were walking on eggshells and uptight and unhappy until Monday morning rolled around and he hit the road again, when we'd heave a collective sigh of relief.

If I could go back and change one thing about my childhood, it'd be to get my dad on Prozac before he ever had children. I think my mom would have really benefited from this ~ we all would have. He's taken it since I've been an adult and it's like night and day, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He needs Prozac like most people need air to live. I'd wish for this because I think it would have prevented many of the extremely hurtful things that happened that make many of his children not care to have a relationship with him now as adults. And perhaps he'd love himself more too.

Q: Are you a feminist? What does that word mean to you? Why?

A: I consider myself a budding feminist because I'm so new at thinking thoughts that may be considered feminist. The word feminist to me means any person, male or female, aware of the inequality females suffer in the world, who wishes to change it to actual equality. Having grown up in a church that thrives on a very patriarchal system, and having assumed this was the way God wants it, has skewed my views a lot, I think. When I stepped away from the church and looked at it with open eyes, I see very well how harmful such a system can be, especially for girls, although I honestly think that systems that favor men are also harmful for men. I recognize that most societies in the world are patriarchal in nature, and I seek to learn more and raise awareness and be a proponent for women and their right to be treated with equality in all areas of life. I've read one book so far that touches on feminist issues within America by describing the lives of a handful of women in the early 1960s, and I recommend, yea, even DEMAND that you all read it. It changed me in a very good way. "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French. Gluby recommended it and it's well worth it.

Q: What is the best thing about your marriage? The worst? What one thing would you change?

A: The best thing about my marriage is the commitment we both feel to support our children in their interests. We are both at every school function, sports event, choir concert, musical program, girl scout parent meeting, soccer game, open house, parent-teacher conference, spelling bee. I am glad we have been able to do this, since I didn't always have my parents at my functions and sometimes I felt their absence (although I do understand why they couldn't always be there since having 8 kids poses logistical problems).

The worst thing about my marriage is a lack of communication. I need to learn to communicate better without a doubt. I avoided confrontation like the plague as a child, and that is still my tendency now, but sometimes things must be discussed. If I could change one thing, it would be to have much better and more open communication, even of the non-confrontational variety. I'd like to be able to talk more together at all.

Q: If you could forcibly (but not damagefully lol) instill ONE THING permanently in each of your children (specific to each of them), what would it be?

A: I'd have to say that I'd instill the same thing in each of my children if I could ~ it wouldn't be a different thing for each. I'd like each of them to have a true sense of self-worth, a deep down knowledge that they are just fine as they are, and that they are amazing and unique and wonderful no matter what. I would have them be comfortable in their own skin so that they aren't worried what others think of them, and so that they are comfortable standing up for those things they know are right. I want them each to be so comfortable with who they are, that they can allow others around them to be who they are too. This is priceless to me. I would want them to shine and blossom and thrive knowing that they are good and worthy and amazing no matter what they pursue. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a person who loves themselves enough to follow their dreams and who is therefore supportive and encouraging of others who do the same. I want them each to be able to feel completely free to live their lives without fear and without apology.

Q: If your dad would really listen to you, AND hear what you had to say, for 10 minutes straight, what would you really want him to know? What would you most like to hear from him? Same thing for your mom?

A:
Dad: I love you. But I don't respect you or like you very much. The way you conducted yourself while we were growing up hurt in ways you may never be able to know unless we seek professional help, which I know you will not do. I think that would be a good thing for you, and for us all. I recognize that who you are stems in large part from how you were raised, and from depression that is likely clinical/biological in nature...so I try to be understanding even when it's very difficult. I am saddened that you worry more about what the church would have you do regarding my apostasy from the church, rather than listening to or talking with me about what I feel. I wish we had communication beyond your generic birthday and anniversary greetings that go out to the entire family including all the aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles I don't even know...and I also wish to heaven that you'd quit attaching the most hideous old photos you have in your considerable archive to those emails. I also want to talk about why I had Eric walk me down the aisle at my wedding, instead of you. That memory hurts me now that I think about it as a parent and we should probably discuss this.

What I'd most like to hear from him is why he keeps an abandoned house (since 1996) here in my hometown, and why when he comes to mow the weeds there (because the city threatens to do it for him and charge him $300) he refuses to stay at my house or my sister's and instead he camps out there with no water, electricity, or heat/air, even if it's over 100 degrees that weekend. Strange. I'd also like to hear what his second wife wrote in her letter that she left when she killed herself.

Mom: I love you. You were the glue that held our family together during those difficult years. I have no idea how you remained sane with that many children when you had so little support, money, or hope. I have always admired your open acceptance and thoughtfulness. You have always supported me in what I have chosen to do, and for that I will always be your biggest fan. You went with me to Lamaze classes when I came home pregnant from BYU. You held me and listened when I was devastated by how my best friends rejected me in third grade. You taught me how to write. You supported my dream to be an exchange student, even though we couldn't afford such a huge thing. You gave me a sense of drama (*insert wry smile* yes, I enjoy my drama even if I tease you about yours). Your poise under pressure is amazing. Your love is the closest to unconditional I've ever experienced.

I'd most like to hear from you your favorite poem. You are so good at reading words and making them sound great. Of course, your voice is so soothing that you could make the worst words sound like poetry. Which brings me to my second good question...why have you never opened your own 1-900 number?? You'd have made it big, I swear it's true. ;) I'd also most love to hear your memories and stories of childhood and of your parents.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about yourself? Your least favorite? What one thing are you falsely modest about?

Hmmm. My favorite thing about myself is a tough one. I've been thinking about this for some time and am having a hard time thinking of what to say. I must say my favorite trait is my genuine interest in other people. It makes me happy to hear people's stories, to delve into what makes them tick, and to enjoy them for who they are. I hope that I'm accepting and understanding (although sometimes I fall short, I know) and I think that has been improving lately by leaps and bounds. People fascinate me and give me great joy. I truly love people.

The least favorite thing about myself is my penchant for procrastination. Holy crap, do I wish I didn't procrastinate. Can I blame this on being ADD?

I'm often falsely modest about my art skills. I don't usually say it, but yeah, I think my art is pretty good. You can judge for yourself by clicking the links under "My Art" in my blogroll. Now you can't call me "falsely modest" anymore, can you? And if you saw my price list, you'd perhaps not call me falsely modest either. I charge a lot for my greatness. :)

October 23, 2007

Worried

I'm extremely worried about my brother who lives in San Diego and has no car. They've already evacuated 250,000 people due to the fires and 70 mph winds.

October 21, 2007

Unconditional Love

I'm sitting here reading blogs and I look over at my dachshund who is snuggled up beside me, sleeping soundly in a warm bundle of love. His breathing is even, and his eyes are closed all the way. He is content. I love how his little paws are tucked up between his belly and my thigh.


If I were to stand up right now, he'd stand up, shake his head fast to make his ears flap against his head, and follow me to where I'm headed. He follows me everywhere. No matter where I've been, he lets me know how happy he is to see me again. When I wake up in the morning, he's there with tail wagging, his little body wriggling in happiness as he rolls over to give me his belly to rub. If Dartman gets up before me, Chewie comes into my bedroom and jumps up on my bed to kiss me once on the nose and snuggle up beside me with a sigh.

When I ask him if he's hungry, and he sees me walk to his food container, he starts running circles and chasing his tail all the way to his dish in pure happiness that I'm feeding him. He's so cute when he does this.

When I walk in the door after work, he's just as excited to see me as he is when I leave for ten minutes and return. He's such a lover. Right now I rub his strong shoulders and feel his warmth and I'm filled with such love for him. I feel the silky softness of his ears and I want to hold him forever.

He shows me what unconditional love is.

October 20, 2007

13 Firsts

Courtesy of CV Rick

1. First day of school.

The first day of school is hardly something I can remember. I know I attended kindergarten in Orem, Utah. But, I do recall moving to Montana when I was six, and how in first grade there was this boy in the second grade who chased me ruthlessly every single recess. I was so scared of him, every single summer I began praying multiple times a day, with all my might, that he didn't get held back somehow to end up in my grade. I dreaded the first day of school so much every year! I was extremely relieved when we moved across town in the middle of third grade. That kid scared me so much. He always threatened to kiss me if he ever caught me. I was always faster.

2. First kiss.
I was in 9th grade, standing in my best friend's living room with Cal, my first official boyfriend. I didn't like him much, but felt pressured by my friend to have him as a boyfriend. It was a very quick, dry peck, which I ended quickly by hugging him. We mutually broke up shortly thereafter, and a year or two later, he came out of the closet as gay. That may explain why we didn't kiss after that once, and why there was no chemistry.

3. First date.
Of course my first date was when I was 16, as that was a rule in our house. It was with Mike, an adopted native American in the other stake whom I had met at a bi-stake dance. He was so handsome, and I was so infatuated, that I barely talked at all during our date, for fear of causing him to think I was a nerd. If only I had talked, perhaps we'd have dated more than just that once.

4. First car.
I got to take the Wally Wagon to BYU with me, even though I didn't have my license yet. The stipulation was that I get my license (finally) and then I could drive it. What's the Wally Wagon? My grandpa's Plymouth K station wagon, of course. The first real car I actually owned I bought when Dartman and I first got married (Geo Prizm).

5. First time---
My first time was with a guy from Chile who lived in my apartment complex in Provo, Utah where I was going to BYU. I blogged about it here.

6. First break up.
I never actually broke up with anyone...but the guy I loved in high school one day quit talking to me...found out later he felt that saying goodbye would be too hard, so he ended it that way (he had been accepted to West Point) and he later wrote a paper in his English class about his love for a girl named Lisa and how he regretted doing that to me.

7. First 'real' job.
Someone from Albertsons grocery store called the art department of my high school and asked if anyone would be interested in a job making signs there. I thought it was window painting and sign design, and when I first arrived to "interview" he instead walked me through the store, telling me what my job entailed, which was making price comparison signs the size of recipe cards that hang between the Albertsons brand items and national brands. It was writing with markers in a legible hand. Fun times.

8. First time to lose a job.
My first job ended when I was scheduled to head to Austria as an exchange student. The store manager begged me to stay, but somehow Europe sounded like a better option. I've never been fired.

9. First time in love.
High school, ninth grade, when I was walking down the hall and saw him for the first time...yes, it was Mr. West Point. But he didn't know I was in love with him due to that same problem of me thinking if I spoke, he'd never like me. I loved him on and off all through high school, until our thoughts were aligned and we dated until he stopped talking to me.

10. First drink.
Blogged about that too. I was 34.

11. First Sign of a Backbone.
When I decided I wanted to be an exchange student even though I knew I wouldn't be able to afford it. I dragged my mom to the parent information meeting the night I first heard the announcement for anyone interested in being an exchange student...I had sat straight up in my desk, my heart pounding, knowing this was something I had to look into. I had never considered it before that time. I'm so glad I did it.

12. First Ambition.
I wanted to draw women as well as Blossom Lefcourt did in my 4th grade class. I'd draw pages and pages of feet in high heels, noses, arms, hands, chins, profiles, cheeks, hair. Yep. I'm still drawn to drawing and painting the female figure.

13. First Realization of Mortality.
When I woke up last of all my siblings the morning that my baby brother died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It was surreal peeking out and seeing strangers in the living room, and my parents with baby Mark. I was five years old at the time, I think. I'll blog about that another time, as it deserves thought and care.

October 17, 2007

Leavin' on a Jet Plane - Part Three: Orientation

Jet lag was a term I had heard of but had never experienced until I arrived at that scouting lodge in Austria. We were shown into big rooms full of single twin beds and bunkbeds, where we all fell into an exhausted sleep almost immediately.

I discovered cultural differences the next morning while getting ready that until then I had been ignorant of. Standing at the sink next to a girl from France, I reached for the cold faucet and turned it on at the exact same time she turned on the hot. We had each also simultaneously lowered our toothbrushes under the water to get the toothpaste wet before brushing. We looked at each other in surprise, and she spoke first. “You use cold water when you brush your teeth?!” I replied, “You use hot?!” Interesting. I let her go first. She shook her head and laughed about using cold water with another French girl.

When it was my turn, I got in the shower and proceeded to do my usual routine: wash my hair with shampoo; wash my face with face wash; put conditioner in my hair and leave it in while washing the rest of my body with soap; rinse conditioner out; turn off water. It wasn’t until I was standing at the mirror drying my hair and applying my makeup that I noticed something strange. The girls from Europe and Sweden would get in the shower and step out again within one minute! I thought my eyes deceived me the first time I noticed this, but every last one of the non-Americans did so. Did they wash themselves at all?? I discovered later that day why ~ utilities in Europe (the cost to heat water) were over four times the cost of the same thing in the United States. Another interesting thing learned.

We had five days of orientation at this lodge before our host families were due to pick us up. There were about five Austrian volunteers who were in their early twenties. Each had been exchange students previously, so they understood what we were going through. We would break into smaller groups between meals and have lessons (in English) on Austrian culture while sitting out in the mowed field surrounded by lush trees and greenery. Over half of us were American, and the European exchange students spoke English as well as we did.

We were taught basic German words we would need to know. Philip, the handsomest of the volunteers, taught us how dialects differ in various areas of Austria. For instance, when you go to an outdoor sausage vendor and ask for a hot dog, in Viennese slang one would say (and I spell this phonetically), “Ee voo ah hahssa” ~ he made us say this until we got it right. It meant “I want a hot dog” (although this is a much higher quality type sausage than the American version of a hot dog). High German would be “Ich möchte eine Heisse.”

We were instructed that during meals, proper etiquette in Austria is to hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right. You cut your food with your knife, and rather than set your knife down and transfer your fork from your left hand to your right hand before taking a bite, as is customary in American culture, you keep your knife in your right hand and you eat with your left hand. If you have ever eaten next to someone who does the opposite of you so your elbows clash, you will know why they taught us this vital piece of information. We practiced this at every single meal. It was one of the most important lessons, because anything else would be considered very rude behavior.

During my orientation days, I also noticed one thing. I was very aware of how loud and obnoxious the majority of the American exchange students were. While outgoing, I was a lot more reserved and observant during those days. I was drawn to two Swedish girls, a French girl, and a Danish girl. We got along really well, and we would spend free time together, talking about our host families, sharing pictures, poring over maps to see how far away we’d live from each other. We knew we’d be coming back to the scout lodge about once every three months, so that was something to look forward to. We shared our fears that we would end up in a family we didn’t get along with.

On our final day, there was a different feeling as we all ate breakfast. This was it! The day our families were to come and take us home. We were all less talkative and trying to not look apprehensive, when in reality we were all nervous as hell. What if we never learned the language well enough to communicate? What if the language didn't suddenly click with us at around the three month mark like the volunteers assured us would happen? What if they didn’t like us? What if we didn’t get along? The length of a year never seemed so long before. After breakfast, we all packed our suitcases and dragged them outside in the morning sunshine to wait for our families to collect us. I sat with the Swedish girls and suddenly one of them sat straight up and smiled, and we could see that she recognized her host dad from his photos as he walked across the clearing with a smile on his face for her. She gave us a quick smile before heading off into the unknown. The same happened with my other friend a few moments later.

Suddenly a small, red car pulled up and three people got out. It was my host mom, her oldest son (age 20), and youngest daughter (age 12). I stood up, my heart beating out of my chest, and they walked toward me. With tentative smiles on all our faces, we shook hands and carried my things to their car. My journey had officially begun.

October 15, 2007

Honest...

I am writing a new blog post, a continuation my Leavin' on a Jet Plane story found here:

Part One
Part Two

I'd finish writing the next chapter tonight, but find I'm too tired.*

Good night!

*It's a good kind of tired. You know, the kind that comes from a full and busy Monday at work. Get your mind out of the gutter!

October 11, 2007

Fun

This morning I got to enjoy Muffins for Moms at school with my youngest. She thrills to do this each year, and I enjoy the alone time we have eating doughnuts, drinking juice, and talking for half an hour before I walk her to her classroom and head to work late.

This week is also homecoming week for my son at high school. Each day they have a different dress-up theme. It's been a fun week around here. Two nights ago, we shopped for him to dress as a movie character. He decided to go dressed as a "mean girl" from the movie Mean Girls. It was pretty funny watching him try on mini skirts, and then high heels...he was so confident that he would be able to do it, and he almost broke his ankle twice in three steps! I haven't had a good laugh like that in a long time! He refused to let me post the pics of him. Damn.

So yesterday morning I had to help him don makeup, which was another adventure. Ever seen an eyelash curler being wielded by the big, knuckly hands of your goalie son?? Hilarious.

Today he went to school as a nerd. He wore his old Sunday pants that are five inches too short, and a white shirt with black bow tie, hideous shoes, and Gumby cap with a really long bill that he bent upward. He also wore a huge old pair of my glasses (lenses removed) that he taped in the middle. Classic. He has guts, I have to hand him that.

What a great week.

October 9, 2007

Hell Week

A few quick thoughts then back to the grindstone for me, since I'm in billing hell right now...

**Chewie is doing much better (thanks to all who asked). He's been jumping up on the couch and chasing his tail and wanting to play again, which means he's feeling better. I wish I knew how to train him to not jump on and off the couch. He's gonna hurt himself again. I love his little self.

**I'm drinking a caramel latte this morning and I do believe it saved my life.

**Fall is here, and a few weekends ago we drove to a town a few hours away, and I forgot my camera. I was so bummed, because the black walnut trees, the aspens, and the red shrubs on the mountains were just gorgeous. The cottonwoods are most prevalent and they are changing color now too. Gorgeous.

**The other morning it was raining and my daughter ran into my bedroom to inform me it was SNOWING! So she opened my blinds and we laid in my bed and watched the large flakes magically falling in slow motion, to melt on the green grass in the rain. It was beautiful. I love rainy days, and snow is beautiful every time I see it while warmly wrapped in my comforter with my daughter snuggled close.

**I have a couple of good blog posts brewing...I hope to get to that soon. Sorry I've been lax in writing more in my blog. It happens sometimes.

**I'm afraid to read or listen to the talk from General Conference by the token female speaker, who apparently spoke on the wifely duties of women that apparently were ripped straight out of the 1950s. I can't wait to sink my feminist teeth into that one.

OK, I gotta get my ass back to work.

October 4, 2007

computers, sex, and denial in the living room

The following writing comes from a friend of mine, Sister Secret. She'd like to remain anonymous yet would like to open up dialogue about the subject of internet porn and how we react to it as Mormons. Any thoughts are appreciated and she will be reading and responding as she sees fit.

computers, sex, and denial in the living room

One Christmas season, we were visiting my in-laws. Newly married, I was enjoying getting to know my husband's family. One night, we were gathered in the living room playing a game. I got up to get a snack, passing by the computer in the family room on the way to the kitchen. My father-in-law was at the computer. I glanced at the computer screen--okay, I'm nosy--and saw that he was at a website that contained several links to calendar girls. You know, naked ones.

I kept walking by, and thought that I must have been mistaken. I only caught a quick glance and wasn't sure what I saw. There's no way my devout Mormon father-in-law would be checking out...No.

I grabbed my snack and went back into the living room. A little while later, I walked by again to get a drink. My father-in-law was still at the same website. And I could tell now that it was definitely what I thought it was. Yep. Porn. Back in the living room with the rest of the family, my brain started working hard on denial. Surely he was only on that site by mistake. He's not of a computer savvy generation and just followed a link he shouldn't have and accidentally found himself here. Right?

Out of morbid desire to know for sure--or perhaps, a certain lack of boundaries about other people's business that Mormonism bred in me--I walked by the computer again. This time, I saw he was printing something out. A picture. I only saw a couple inches worth as I quickly walked behind him, but I could tell it was a whole lot of flesh color. I was shocked and appalled. Curiosity just got the best of him, and, I mean, he's only human, right? This is exactly what the Brethren warned against, isn't it? You get one glimpse, and suddenly you're sucked in and your marriage and life are ruined. How could he be so stupid? I walked back through on the way back from the kitchen, almost as a "I know what you're doing" statement and saw he had folded up the picture and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

I returned to the living room, angry and confused. I tried to play the game with everyone, but I was distracted. My father-in-law disappeared into his bedroom, and came out a while later, hair disheveled and a goofy grin on his face. No way. He did not just--oh, my gosh--how could he? What do I do? Granted, he probably hasn't done it with his wife in years, but, jeez. This in pornography, the bane of modern existence. I sneaked away to the computer and checked the history. His sins were confirmed: there were several jpgs, all of them named female names. I didn't click on any of them myself. Too dangerous. Besides, I didn't want to see any naked women. Gross.

It all made sense now. The computer viruses, the raunchy pop-ups on the screen when you least suspect it. He's been downloading things, all sorts of cookies and junk infecting the computer. Everyone had been wondering what the heck was wrong with the computer, why there were so many porn ads popping up. I had been too innocent to suspect any of the teenage boys, or even that someone in the house was viewing porn sites. I just figured those evil-doers who make the sites are also good at finding ways to infect random computers. You know, like the Brethren said, it catches you unawares.

I was angry. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been that angry. I had to do something. Something. But what? Confront him? Ugh, too embarrassing. I hardly know him. Tell my husband? What good would that do? Make him mad, too? That would just be gossip, and the fewer people who know about his sin, the better. Tell my mother-in-law? Yeah, that's probably good. She should know. She should know that their marriage is about to be ruined by some insidious pictures from the internet. But how do I tell her? That's just so awkward.

I seethed and thought the rest of the evening, but didn't say anything. Then it hit me. Whose business was this, more than anyone else's? The bishop! Yes, I could tell the bishop. But how? I'd heard of people slipping notes to bishops to let them know about other's sins. I could do that, write a note that my father-in-law has something to confess. Yeah, that'll work.

The next day was Sunday, and we all packed in the car to head to church, like always. I was so mad at my father-in-law I couldn't stand to be near him, or even look at him. He happened to sit next to me in the pew. I tensed up and scooted further away from him, trying not to make it obvious. I sat there thinking about my plan to tell the bishop, wondering how to word it. But I wasn't sure, still, if that's what I should do. I thought and thought, just as angry and confused as ever. Finally, I prayed, "What should I do?"

And then it hit me. I should do nothing. At the time, this came to me as, "That's between my father-in-law and the Lord." I felt the Spirit was telling me Heavenly Father would take care of it. I felt relieved, a burden gone from my shoulders. The Lord knew, and would deal with it in His own way.

I never told. I kept my little secret, and smugly noticed that next time there was a temple wedding, he didn't attend. His wife gave some excuse about forgetting to get his temple recommend renewed. I figured that his bishop had found out somehow.

Since then, I've changed my mind about the church, and have reinterpreted the Spirit's little message to be my then-devout way of realizing a simple truth: It was none of my business.

Now, the Brethren's fearful advice seems overblown. There are plenty of far more important things the supposed leaders of the True Church of God on Earth could be preaching about than men's solo sex lives.

--Sister Secret

October 2, 2007

every dachshund owner's nightmare

A couple weeks ago I was playing with my beloved wiener dog ~ I threw his toy into the dining room and he ran to get it, jumping over the step because the dining room is eight inches lower than the living room where I threw the toy from. When he got to the toy, he began crying in this horrid yelp that sounded like he'd swallowed a squeaker.

We knew he had hurt his back again.

He cried a lot that night, and this was worse than the other two times his back was hurt. I barely slept, and kept hearing his cries and would go to him and give him loves while he shook and whined. The next morning we took him to the vet.

I carried him inside wrapped in his blanket, and they took him with his blanket to check on him. Within a minute, the vet came back and said she was keeping him over the weekend, to restrict his movement and prevent further injury. I felt bereft, like I didn't get to say goodbye! This is not like me, and I shocked myself even further by saying to her, "Would it help Chewie if I brought him a stuffed animal from home?"

In looking back, I seriously can't believe 1. that I'd say such a thing, or 2. that she held a straight face as she replied, "I'm sure his blankie is enough."

We were able to bring him home on Tuesday after four nights of his being away. He had obviously been in a small cage ~ probably made of chain link fencing because his nose had a big sliced scab on the top near where his facial hair meets his nose. This week that scab fell off and now there's a big pink smooth spot where black nose should be. I hope he's not scarred for life. Either way, he's gorgeous to me.

He's been on Prednesone to reduce swelling in his joints/vertebrae. This (or his trauma at having been in a small cage for days on end) has created an unfortunate side effect. Three days ago, he peed on the living room carpet. Yesterday, my husband got home from work to find he had pooed on the carpet too. Last night, after my son's soccer game and dinner out, my husband got home first, and when we walked in, we found that while Dartman was busy, Chewie had pooed again. This morning, I saw that he had jumped up on the back of our couch (which we had failed to rig with cushions standing straight up to prevent his jumping up there) and peed into the back cushion where it had run down into the seat cushion too. Three times this week he's gotten into garbages he never touches and shredded kleenex and other stuff all over.

That had better be the last incident. This sucks. Oh, but his back seems to be much better, thank Jeebus.