Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I have very high expectations – of myself, of others, of the world, of processes, of nature. It’s been mentioned by one very important person that my expectations are just too high. Of course, I don’t think so. In fact, I usually think that other people’s expectations are just too low and that’s why we live in a society that allows and supports mediocrity.

As a couple and family, we’ve been struggling through some tough times. In the ten free minutes per day that I have to actually think and reflect, I’ve been trying to come to terms with myself. It’s hard. I don’t like to re-think myself. I don’t like to change because I’m perfect, right? (As if.)

So, a while ago, I bought a book at a rummage sale. I intended to just skim through it. I opened it up randomly to page 94, and the first sentence that I read was “There are two kinds of expectations. Expectations may be realistic or unrealistic. Clinging to unrealistic expectations is the cause of suffering.”

Why, though, are they unrealistic? And, why does it bother me so much? And, yes – they do cause much suffering in my life. That part is correct. But, how do you just let them go, or alter them? Why should I have to alter them? I think that’s bogus.

It’s not like I’m setting goals that are completely ludicrous. I don’t expect myself to look like a super model. I don’t expect that I’ll suddenly start running as fast as Paula Radcliffe. I don’t expect Bub to get a six-figure job. I don’t expect the republican controlled state of Utah to support abortion.

But, I do expect that I will lose weight. I’ve been saying that for years. So far, it really hasn’t worked all that well. I’m 20 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight. While I’ve never gained the entire 20 back (except during pregnancy, but that doesn’t count, and I never went over my heaviest anyway), I frequently gain and lose 10 pounds over and over. My goal weight is still 35 pounds lighter than what I am right now. And, it’s totally possible. And, it would make me so much faster/flexible/energetic. I know all of this, but I’m still struggling. Why can’t I just lose it already? Why do I say to myself every stinking Wednesday “I hate being the fattest one in yoga class”? Why do I disregard all of the good work that I do during the day only to blow it in t evening? Why do I eat more and more after I have lost a couple of pounds? It’s like I want to gain it back (but I don’t want to!). See, I don’t think that this is a ridiculous goal. I just think that I’m not working hard enough.

But, I do expect that my running times should improve. I’ve been running for 12 years now. My pace has only improved by 2 minutes/mile. I should be 5 minutes faster than I was when I started. Not unrealistic. I just haven’t worked hard enough. I don’t do speed work consistently. I haven’t lost the weight. I ditch my planned runs when it’s too hot or inconvenient or because I want to sleep.

I do believe that Bub will get a job. It doesn’t have to pay a ton of money, but something would be good. Don’t get me wrong – it has been good to have her home (that’s another post for another time), but we’re drowning. She has the same skills that a thousand other unemployed people have, so she’s just another face applying for whatever job. But, I hear all of this talk about the economy turning around, so I expect more. I sometimes feel like she isn’t trying hard enough.

And the state of Utah? Lots of things are NEVER going to happen here. But, some general decency towards each other would sure be nice. Will gay marriage happen? Yes, some day. Will tolerance and acceptance prevail? Maybe. Until then, it would be nice to just have a smidgen of respect. And, there stands the old phrase “respect must be earned.” Maybe I (we) am not working hard enough to educate people.

So, this clearly comes down to the fact that I don’t work hard. But, I do! I work my ass off every day. OK – I’ll admit – Friday is usually my day to just do nothing after putting in 40 hours at the office, but other than that, I feel like I AM working! I have a full-time job. I run. I tend to the garden and the yard work. I take care of the dogs. I help with the housework. I make sure that our reading and exercise time gets done. And, that’s in the two hours that I have between dinner and bed! I work hard, but my expectations are still so high that I’m suffering because I’m not meeting them.

But, where did this notion come from, anyway? My mom was the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my entire life, and she seemed to have it all. Obviously, this is where it comes from. I’m sure that if she were here, she would set me straight. She did NOT have it all. She struggled financially, and physically, and (probably) mentally and emotionally. But, I don’t remember her wishing for the next thing; I don’t remember her beating herself up because she didn’t reach a certain goal. She made the most of her life – as shitty as it sometimes was. Am I just wishing life away? Am I missing something?

Or, am I just being honest with myself? It’s obvious that I’m not losing weight because of my eating habits in the evening and because I don’t run six times/week. I’m not as politically active as I could be.
I maintain that I’m just not working hard enough. Therefore, the expectations are realistic, but my effort is half-assed. The suffering (aka beating myself up), then, is justified.

Am I just screwed?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's a good night to sleep outside

We haven't been camping at all this year. Not even once. I feel like a terrible mother, but at the same time, I've been trying to save up for our family vacation this year. Trust me - these kids are going to LOVE us when we finally get to Florida!

So, while weeding the garden tonight, I decided that we needed to have a "camp out" in the back yard. So, here we are - laying on the grass. 2/3 of us are asleep after finally giving up on seeing the stars - too many clouds tonight. We did wish upon a couple of airplanes, though.

It's nice and breezy. People are finally done lighting their neighborhood fireworks. Crickets are chirping. The dogs are protecting us. I'm only worried about the mosquitos. (Rat bastards.)

I worry sometimes that I'm not giving the boys enough fun experiences. For heaven's sake - haven't been camping once this year? Crazy. But, we have gone to the train museum, gone to the dinosaur museum, toured a cave, done a lot of swimming, hiked in the canyon, played and raced at the local track, gone to parks, stayed in a resort condo, played miniature golf and shuffleboard, gone to the amusement park... I guess we've done a decent amount of stuff. I do wish that they spent a little less time in front of their computers and a little more time on the swingset.

I respect what my mom did for all of us. I can't believe that she did this for FIVE kids. I always say that I would have loved ten kids, but I wouldn't have been able to provide them all with the experiences and attention that they would have deserved. Two is perfect. Now, I just need to get my act together!

Camping out in the backyard is a start.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

365 Photo Challenge, March 2013

March 1, 2013: So, this is what happens when I wash my hair and then don’t do anything else except for let it dry. I try not to let it get this out of hand because it’s just not pretty!

March 3, 2013: I’m getting tired of looking at myself. Really? A whole year of this?

March 6, 2013: Me in the foot doc’s mirror at my six week appointment. About 20 minutes after this shot, I ran 4.5 miles for the first time in what felt like forever. I was supposed to run 1 mile and gradually work my way up in half mile increments over the course of a few weeks, but I just couldn’t bear it. It was 4.5 miles or nothing!

March 9, 2013: Me (and Bub and the kids) at the zoo. The first picture was taken by Meatball. I wish he would have given me more time to prepare so that I would be smiling. But, whatevs.

March 10, 2013: This is me and our 1960s oven. Awesome avocado green. Poor, old piece of shit. But, it works….

March 11, 2013: These are my jammies. Moons, stars, suns. Very groovy.

March 14, 2013: The greatest kids in the universe!

March 16, 2013: My Peanut.

March 18, 2013: Another day at work. I look tired. I’m always tired. I’m tired of doing what I’m doing.

March 19, 2013: I’m melting butter to make some frosting for cookies. Now, if I let the kids eat more of them than I eat, we’ll be good.

March 21, 2013: These are my boat shoes. We don’t have a boat. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared….

March 22, 2013: Snuggle time. This means that the boys fall asleep next to me or on my lap. Sweet boy… I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but I still don’t make them go to bed on their own. I will let them fall asleep with me for as long as they want to do it. Bub is finally on board, too. (This photo totally counts. It includes my hand...)

March 23, 2013: Yes. The whole damn kitchen is green. I hate it. The idea is to strip all of the paint this summer and re-finish all of the cabinets. Wish us luck.

March 24, 2013: Another awesome pajama ensemble (made even better with the busy shower curtain behind me). It’s a good thing that Bub goes to bed first and that I get up first. Otherwise, I would never hear the end of my fashion flubs.

March 25, 2013: It’s time for sandals! Spring! (It snowed the next day.)

March 26, 2013: Santa brought me these socks. They are from the NFL store. Go Eagles! Then, I watched Invincible. Awesome show.

March 27, 2013: Blah.

March 28, 2013: I’ve had this shirt for probably 20 years. It used to fit, but now it’s too big. Now, I wear it to bed more often than anything else. It’s so comfy. And, it’s not the Cowboys.

March 29, 2013: I wore these jeans to work today. Then, I realized that they are falling apart. I won’t be wearing them to work anymore.

March 30, 2013: THIS means that I’m happy. Bub gave me these Birkies the first summer we were together. The cork is millimeters thin in some places and non-existent in other places. They are ALMOST broken in….

March 31, 2013: The boys and I at Papa’s and Nana’s house. We just helped feed the chickens, and now we’re lounging on the swing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baker, NV, and Lehman Caves

I decided a while ago that I wanted to take the boys to some caves. I think that they are fascinating, and it’s a great learning opportunity (for everyone). Bub isn’t really keen on the whole cave thing, so she was less than excited when I brought it up. In fact, she said “go without me.” (She would regret that later.) So, while the boys had spring break, I decided to take a couple of days off of work and go to Lehman Caves.

When I was nine or ten, we took a trip to California and Disneyland with our neighbors. We were making a stop in Oakhurst, CA, too. Since we lived in central Utah, it was almost a straight shot to Oakhurst if we just cut across the desert, so we headed first to Delta and then on to Baker. We stopped to see the cave before we went on to Tonapah and then to Oakhurst. It was a long trip – all driving. Back then, it wasn’t illegal for people to ride in the bed of a truck, so five of us kids were in the back of a Datsun pickup with a shell. It’s a good thing that we were all great friends and had grown up together!

That was my first cave. I have been enthralled ever since. Unfortunately, I don’t find many people who share my excitement…. The ex? Nope. The wifey? Oh, hell no. (A cave is not the place where claustrophobic people want to be.) And, there just aren’t many around. We have an AWESOME one in Utah, but it’s a steep hike (and nobody ever wants to hike with me, either).

[Incidentally, I’m not as codependent and pathetic as it sounds like I am. I’m perfectly capable of caving and hiking all by myself, but I would rather spend time with the people that I love than off wandering around by myself. My running time is my alone time.]

So, where was I going with that?

Anyway, as the time drew nearer, I started planning and packing, and Bub was surprised. She really didn’t think that I would do it. She wasn’t very happy. So, I told her to come, but then she couldn’t because she had just started a new job. She was not happy, but we went. I determined that we could sleep in the Honda and spend almost nothing for food. The only expense would be gas. We were off.
You really have to be the right kind of person to see the beauty in the Great Basin desert. It’s not the red rocks of southern Utah. It’s not the dunes of Africa. If you don’t have the right view, it looks gray and empty and void of, well, anything. I think it’s wonderful, but even I started to get tired of it on this drive. That may have had something to do with the fact that the boys were fighting in the back seat for almost the entire drive.

Finally, we arrived in Baker. To be generous, it’s quiet and sparse and interesting. If I’m not being generous, it’s a bunch of trailer houses, pre-fabs, a couple of actual houses, and scrub brush with a post office and a sort-of gas station.

There is no pay phone. There is no cell service. And, the wind was so crummy that there were no people outside. We passed another car while we were checking out the main drag (which was about three blocks long). I had to stop at the post office to try to find a pay phone. That’s when I learned that there wasn’t one. However, the postal lady had a great hint: Drive north for about a mile and a half. Then, turn right on this cut-off road. After passing one cattle guard, there would be service sometime before the next cattle guard. Drive slowly. So, here I am, driving two mph with my hand in the air…. We did manage to call Bub and let her know that we had arrived safely.

We checked out what promised to be some really cool Native American ruins right in the middle of nothing. Sadly, someone broke the promise. It wasn’t that great. It probably would have been better if I could have stuck around and read all of the information signs, but it was COLD and, well, I was with two 5-year olds. There is no “sticking around” when this crew yet. Maybe in a few years.

Having seen the entire town in a matter of two minutes and having checked out the archaeological dig over the course of four minutes and finding the only cell service around (which took more like 15 minutes), we were out of things to do! I had hoped to take the boys for some hot cocoa at the local cafĂ©, but it’s only open sometimes, and this wasn’t one of them. So, we went to the local school and played on the playground for a while even though we were freezing.

After we were sufficiently iced over, I talked the boys into finding a camping spot and having dinner. There are two nice campground areas with about ten sites each. Considering the location and the weather, they certainly weren’t swamped, but we did have a few neighbors. I believe that even on a popular weekend, the sites are spaced far enough apart that campers wouldn’t bother one another. After dinner (where we got rained AND snowed on), we gave it up and got ready for bed where we would at least be warm. Maybe not tired, but warm.

So, I laid the back seat down and arranged the sleeping bags and pillows. Quite cozy. We donned our PJs and hit the outhouse. Then, we snuggled into bed – me in the middle with a boy on each side. It was at this moment that I realized that our little mini-SUV wasn’t going to be long enough. Yup – my brilliant plan was perfect for someone 4-feet tall (the boys), but about 2-feet too short for an average adult. Son of a….. Needless to say, I spent the weekend sleeping in the fetal position and was never comfortable. (The boys are ready to do it again, but not mommy!)

The next morning, I awoke and started heating up some water for hot cocoa and oatmeal. We managed to warm our clothes by snuggling with them and then dressing inside the sleeping bags. We ate breakfast in the car and rearranged everything so that the seat could be lifted back up and the kids seats put back in. Then, it was off to the cave!

We arrived with about 90 minutes to waste until the next tour. The park rangers gave us some kids workbooks to complete. We toured an old cabin, hiked an easy trail, learned about the flora and fauna of the area as well as the history. It was a really cool activity book, and kept us busy until the last minute. FINALLY it was time to go in the cave.

The boys were amazed from the beginning, and we were only in the tunnel leading to the cave – not the actual cave itself. Once we got inside, they were very well behaved and very funny. They were super careful to not touch any of the formations or cave walls as both I and the tour guide had explained how our natural skin oils damage the cave environment. They asked good questions and participated in the conversations to the best of their abilities. (We learned that the stalagmites grow up from the ground and become mighty tall, and that stalactites grow from the ceiling and hang on tightly. Get it? Pretty clever. We also learned about cave bacon, draperies, and popcorn!)

It was sad to see some of the vandalism that had happened 60 or 70 years ago – well before the cave was a state park and long before scientists understood the damaging impact that humans could have on the cave. So, the vandalism happened forever ago, and while it was a bit depressing, it was still fun to take a couple of minutes to try and find my great-Uncle Frank’s and great-Uncle Auer’s names on the wall. We never did find them.

It was also very interesting to learn that a really bad B-movie had been filmed in the cave! Something about a Mars exploration. I guess in the 50s – knowing almost nothing about the true surface of Mars – the interior of this cave could be seen as a landscape from another planet. At the time that the movie was filmed, the “great room” was half full of water due to a very wet spring, so they filmed some raft scenes. Hahaha! Now we know that there is NO water on Mars. Raft scenes. Hysterical!

Well, after the tour, the boys got their picture taken with Ranger Peter, and then it was time to certify as a Junior Ranger.
I had no idea that there was even such a program, but since they finished the hike and the activity book and the cave tour, they were eligible for such an honor. The “presiding” ranger had them raise their right hands and even take an oath. It was a very serious occasion, and the boys were so proud of themselves.

Well, with all of this excitement over with before 1pm, what’s a family to do when they have technically done ALL there is to do in town? Well, the family high-tails it outta’ there! We headed towards home after just one night and through a driving rainstorm.
We didn’t make it all the way home, though. Instead, we decided to visit the Little Sahara sand dunes for the first time.

Easter weekend is by far the CRAZIEST time to go to the sand dunes, but we were hitting it two days after Easter when most people would be back at work. It was wonderful. There were some lingering ATVs, but not enough to be a nuisance or a hazard. We found a site, got out our toys, and played in the sand all afternoon and evening.
It was really fun to just let the boys get as dirty and grimy as they wanted. Cell service – an added bonus! (The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the fact that I had to pay $18 for one night. I totally understand that when you’re bringing in campers and trailers and toy haulers full of ATVs, but we were a mini-SUV staying for a single night. Harumph! Oh well.)

I was very happy to wake the next morning and get OUT of the sleeping-quarters-for-midgets. My body was tired and achy from being so cramped up. The boys slept in for a while, so I got some reading time with just the sunrise and the birds.
After breakfast, we packed up and finished the trip home. Bub was super happy to see us, and us her.

I can’t wait to take the boys to Timpanogos (Utah) and Minnetonka (Idaho) caves!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

TN40D challenge 1

The Next 40 Days (Utah version), challenge #1: No cussing.

This challenge came at a very appropriate time in our lives as Peanut has been pushing his boundaries by dropping a few naughty words here and there. Thanks to people who take wonderfully entertaining children’s concepts, completely misconstrue them, and then post the videos on YouTube, he has a list of phrases that he never would have learned in our house. Mostly, however, what he learned came from us.

When I was still pregnant, I suggested that we stop cursing. Bub did not see the urgency in my request even though she had been assessed a $2 fee by some friends when she cussed in front of their 2-year old. (A bit funny that this happened in OUR house, not theirs, but she put the money in the potty-mouth jar nonetheless.) “We don’t curse that much,” we told ourselves. “We can stop at any time,” we believed. Yes. I realize that those last two sentences are exactly what addicts in denial say.

So, when one of the boys would occasionally say a bad word at the age of three or four, we looked at each other, giggled, and then agreed to tone it down. Yes. We giggled. What of it? It’s funny when a little kid says “our car is a piece of shit.” It is. Wait – let me give you my mailing address so that you can send my parent-of-the-year award….

But, finally, thanks to our efforts and YouTube’s influence, Peanut was getting a bit out of hand. Meatball was saying some naughty words, too, but he’s much less determined to push us. Peanut wants to find the boundaries and kick at them until they break and fall down in a mess around him. (As one of our close friends puts it “He’s going to be your pistol.” Um, yeah.)

So, we were having the typical conversations that parents have with kids about their language:
Sweetie – we don’t say naughty words (while thinking to myself: Yes – we DO say naughty words – a helluva lot of naughty words, actually – mommy is a hypocrite! ACK!)
Honey – you’re a smart boy – let’s think of some smart words to say (while thinking to myself: I AM smart – why am I so lazy that I resort to shitty words that belie my own intelligence?)
Oh no – that wasn’t very kind – we only use kind words (in my head I heard: Kind words my ass – mommy is the worst hypocrite EVER! Dammit!)
What did you just say, young man? (to myself: Why did *I* just say that? I had a good word in my head, and then THAT bullshit rolled off my tongue?)
Dude – zip it! (and, again, to myself I was shouting: Zip it. Zip it? YOU zip it, you rotten damn mommy!)
Oh – I don’t think so! (while thinking: That’s right. “I don’t think so” because I don’t fucking think! That’s the fucking problem here!)

And, that is why I chose “no cussing” as one of my challenges, and I actually thought that it wouldn’t be that hard.

Wow. I really missed the mark on that one.

I’ll tell you my success rate right now: 7.5%. Yup. 7.5%. I managed to NOT curse only three of the 40 days.

In all fairness to me (because 7.5% is just NOT something that I am proud of), cuss words included some things like “screw” (as in screw you or screw it) and “idiot” because we don’t allow the boys to say those words. The list is actually very long; I’m surprised that they are successful at avoiding most of the naughty words on the list! One of the most difficult has been “god” (as in oh my god and not to be confused with God). This was a concept that needed to be explained a couple of times to the boys. An agnostic and an atheist explaining the existence – or non-existence – of God made the explanations probably 20 minutes longer than they needed to be.

So, at the end of the 40 days, I thought that I would be 98% or 99% successful. Boy, I was so wrong, wasn’t I?!?! But, I’m still considering this whole thing a success, and here’s why: I had no idea that I was cussing so much. Now, I know – like, I KNOW. Every time a curse word escapes my mouth, I realize it. I stop what I’m doing and reflect on it – even if it’s only for a moment. I’m even catching myself when I THINK a naughty word.

I didn’t sound like a sailor before the challenge – well, ok - SOMETIMES I sounded like a sailor – but I DID use the quintuplets of curses (shit, damn, piss, fuck, hell) a couple of times per day. And god – not to be confused with God but offensive, nonetheless, to those who believe – multiple times per day… x3… easily. But, I didn’t realize that I was doing it then. At least now I do.

I was beating myself up a bit (big surprise) for what I considered to be this epic failure until I talked to my friend, Nate. Nate has recently given up a 6-a-day (sometimes more) Dr. Pepper habit – cold turkey – without a single side effect (hahaha). He is now 66 or 67 days DP Free. Anyone who has ever given something like that up knows that it’s not easy, but he has done an amazing job. (And, yes. I know that quitting smoking or drinking or drugs is so much more amazing, but let’s get some perspective here. I’m talking about cursing, not shooting up. These things aren’t even in the same ball park, so I’m not going to compare them. DP and the f-bomb? Much more similar.) So, I was lamenting my abysmal 7.5% performance on this challenge, and he helped me put it into perspective.
“Look, I could separate myself from the Dr. Pepper. Simply, do not buy it. Do not walk past it in the cafeteria. It would be different if I had DP bubbling up in my veins and I couldn’t escape it. It’s a bad habit, sure, but I can physically remove it. You can’t remove words. They are in your brain, and they’ve been trained to be there for the last 30 years. It’s a total re-programming of your brain, and it will take time.”
He’s right, of course.
And another thing. I’m “scoring” myself on a completely pass/fail basis. If I said ONE prohibited word during the day, that was a fail. My pass rate would be much different if I had taken a percentage of the number of times that I actually SAID a naughty word compared to the number of times that I WANTED to say one.

It was not all for nothing. It was really a very good challenge for me to experience. I learned how lazy I had become with language, how little time I spent actually thinking about what was about to come out of my mouth, how EVERY thing I say is heard by two sets of little ears who will then repeat it. Being mindful of these things was worth the entire 40 days. And, of course, just because the time is up doesn’t mean that I am going to quit. I’ve established more of a pattern, and I will continue working on this. It can only get better.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Slim, over at The Next 40 Days, and his wife, Laura, are completely on to something. Go HERE for details, but I’ll give you the short run-down: Make a change in your life and stick to it for 40 days. It’s that easy. The change can be to your own behavior and impact only you (example: Slim and Laura are about to embark on a 40-day juice fast), or it can be for the greater good of the world (case in point: Slim and Laura gave away personal care packages to homeless people last year). Either way, I have been following their progress for about a year while all the time admiring their creativity, chutzpah, and positivity. All the while also knowing that I needed to do something similar.

Well, I just couldn’t wait any longer, so I started my year of 40-day challenges on June 1. But, what to do first? Should I focus on myself? Should I do something good for others? Before I get on to the actual challenge, I must first explain something about myself: anyone who knows me understands that this was the hardest decision to make. Planning out a year’s worth of challenges was a piece of cake, but THIS? This was difficult. Me or others?

I will never go so far as to say that I am either selfish or selfless. However, I’m not one to seek the spotlight when it can (and should) be given to others who are more worthy. I find that when I focus on myself, I am uncomfortable in my own skin. When others focus on me, I am not only uncomfortable, but I actively (although usually subconsciously) try to sabotage myself until I am the opposite (internally or externally) of the focus/praise that I may have received. Does that make any sense?

(An all too often) Example: Wow! You look great! You’re really losing weight!
My inevitable response to this compliment EVEN WHEN IT IS TRUE AND DESERVED is to verbally downplay the remark (Oh, this is just a flattering skirt), and then to go home and spend the next ten days eating every dang snack I can get my hands on as well as second servings and calorie-filled drinks and doing fewer workouts.
I don’t know why.

I’m not selfish, but I’m not selfless, either. I try to do good because it is the right thing to do but also because it makes me feel good about myself (remember Phoebe’s selfless good deed on Friends?).

I believe in the ability of one person to change the life of another person. I believe that those who are in a position to do so should help those who are struggling. I believe that even those who are struggling can, and should, so something (volunteer). I believe in the greater good, in the ability of a community to effect major change, and I believe that I should play an instrumental role in these things. I should not sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to do something so that I can reap the rewards of their hard work. (Although I do some of that. I’m not as politically active as I should be. I don’t donate time or money to as many organizations as I would like to. But, I think that we’re all there to a point.)

I am this way because of my mom. Plain and simple. I don’t know why she was that way, and I’m sure that I was influenced by other people, too, but in my mind, she is the epitome of selflessness and altruism. She gave and volunteered and did for others until she couldn’t anymore, and I don’t remember a time when she did anything for herself. But, she was (or seemed) genuinely happy with this.

So, I always, ALWAYS feel like I should be doing more – for my family, my neighbors, my community, the boys’ school, my coworkers, LGBT groups, cancer fundraising groups, youth organizations, blood drives, environmental causes, and on and on. I barely get to a fraction of them.

And, I always, ALWAYS feel guilty that I’m not doing more, that I’m not doing as much as my mom did or would have done.

So, the pressure to choose challenges that are about myself or other people? Well, that just about put me over the edge. What kind of person chooses self over service to others?

Well, Me. That’s what kind of a person. Me. Because I feel truly and sincerely and profoundly screwed up right now. The past four years have been hard being a single income family, and I will admit that I have become more tired and ornery and less fun than is probably necessary. But, the past six months (very little to do with a single income) have really messed with my mind, my self-esteem, my belief in myself, and – let’s face it – my ability to be happy. So, I chose me.

People are always saying stuff like “you can’t love others until you love yourself” and “you must take care of yourself in order to take care of your family” and “don’t eat yellow snow.” (I just threw that last one in there to make sure that you were still awake.) I’m not sure that I truly believe those things (except the yellow snow bit), but I’m also not sure that I can handle another year of constantly questioning myself, of being angry, of yelling (internally at myself and externally to anyone unfortunate enough to cross my path), or belittling myself, or believing that I’m less than I originally thought, or being genuinely and unmistakably sad most of my waking hours.

I just wanted to experience some success for a change before I forgot what that felt like. So, I chose me and nine challenges that will be broken up into 40-day increments. I wrote each challenge down on a piece of paper and then asked the boys to draw the slips out of a hat thereby determining the order in which they would be performed (so that I couldn’t give any “preferential treatment” to those that seemed either easy or hard).

Nine mini-success opportunities.

Nine times to learn.

Nine times for me to feel like I’m not completely broken.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My words to straight people regarding DOMA

Back in March (?) April (?) … Oh, let’s just say “earlier this year,” shall we?

Earlier this year when the Supreme Court was hearing the cases against Prop 8 and DOMA, I “tuned in” for the first time. And, I mean, literally, tuned in. I’m sure that this is not news to the lawyer-ly folks who read my blog (OK, maybe one person, IF she is still reading this), but I was unaware that the average person could actually listen to the Supreme Court proceedings. Huh! Thanks to some exceptionally active groups (Equality Utah, Equality Federation, HRC, Campaign for Southern Equality, Family Equality, Freedom to Marry, and more), I – and thousands of others – was made aware of this face via FB.

So, I tuned in.

Being able to listen to the proceedings is one thing. It’s an awesome thing – I’ll give you that.

Being able to UNDERSTAND the proceedings is something else entirely.

I’m not a lawyer. I have very little desire to become fluent in the legal jargon. These details were completely lost on the highest court in our nation as well as on the best legal minds in the country. Luckily, there is a SCOTUS blog that us plain ‘ol hillbillies can follow that spells everything out in less confusing terms. (Still a bit confusing, but not as bad as the courts.)

By the way – bless my little lawyer friend’s heart. She’s such a smart woman, and I’m so proud of her for finally chasing down her dream. And, bless the heart of the lawyer that I will eventually need to hire for some reason at some time in my life. Someone needs to understand all of that legal-ese, and I’m happy that it won’t need to be me.

Back to my DOMA story. Ha! Back to it? I just realized that I never even started it! Well, now that all of that yammering is out of the way…

So, I’m sitting at my desk, and I’m listening to the DOMA and Prop 8 proceedings. (Relax. They are spreadsheets, people. I can listen and “spreadsheet” simultaneously until the cows come home. I’m awesome like that.) In between all of the jargon being flung around, I kept hearing stuff like “social experiment” and “alternate family structure” and the like.

I got mad. Then, I got madder. Then, I wanted to throw something. It was, literally, hours worth of blathering on about this “social experiment.”

Here’s the thing: I AM NOT AN EXPERIMENT.


Got me? A human frickin’ being.

A social experiment is, oh – I dunno – a group of people who all speak completely different languages being forced to live as naked vegans in a bio-dome that is surrounded by a moat filled with toxic sludge and no access to clean water. THAT is a social experiment. (And, a pretty good proposal for the next hit reality show, if I do say so myself…)

Straight people: I understand that you don’t “get” me sometimes. Know what? I don’t always “get” you, either. And, that’s OK. It makes us interesting. It makes us each worth getting to know. The truth is, I don’t always “get” all of my LGBT peeps! I’m sure that you can relate, right? Just because you are straight (and, likely white, Christian, and middle-class) doesn’t mean that you “get” Rajesh because he is straight, too – especially if Rajesh is Hindu and lives in a wealthy city in India. Being straight doesn’t mean that you automatically understand each other; being gay doesn’t necessarily understand that I understand all of the other lesbian folks in the world simply because we’re both playing for the same team. In the end, we’ve all got to sit down and talk – really talk - to understand.


So, just because you don’t “get” my committed 17+year relationship does not automatically mean that it is an experiment. Just because I am attracted to a different form than you are does not mean that I am an experiment.

Guess what? Us gays? We’ve been around a LONG time. Just as long as all of you straight folks. It’s true. Oh, some of your straight counterparts try to deny this, but we all know that it’s true. Isn’t there a chance that Eve was actually attracted to Jane (or Mary or Ruth) instead of listening to that snake? It could have happened. But, seriously, the ancient Greeks believed that all people go through life simply looking for their other half from whom they had been separated by one of the gods. Sometimes, they were looking for someone of the opposite sex and sometimes someone of the same sex.

So, yeah. We’ve been around for quite a while. And, we haven’t been living alone for all of these centuries, either. We’ve lived together. That’s right. Oh, call us “roommates” all you want, but the truth is, we’ve been more than that. We have truly loved each other, shared happiness and sorrow with each other, cared for each other when sick, celebrated each other when well, honored each other, and – like you straight folks – dishonored each other, too. Yes – we have our share of screw-ups in our population. It’s a number that is proportionate to the number that you have in your general population.

So, if we’ve been living together and loving each other for centuries, how are our relationships “social experiments?” They are not. They just haven’t been accepted.

Maybe the true social experiment is not so much US and who/how/where we love, but more YOU accepting the fact that we should be legally allowed to do the thing that we’re already doing. Hmmmmm….

By the way, we’re not going to stop. And, guess what? We don’t have to!

Fast forward (what a relative term when it’s your own happiness/equality/pride/self-worth that’s being legislated) to June 27, 2013: DOMA IS DEAD. Dead, I say! Oh, social media was all abuzz! E-mails and IMs and phone calls were going here and there and everywhere. According to the highest court in our nation, we can no longer be discriminated against when joined for life in a state that allows same-sex marriage. We can file our taxes together. We can adopt the children that we’re already raising. We can receive counseling and collect death benefits if our partner has been killed in war (soldiers) or in the line of duty (police, fire, first responders). We can take advantage of the OTHER 1,179 federal benefits that were previously denied us. Yay!!!!

Well, “yay” as long as we never leave the state in which we were legally married or ONLY travel to other states that recognize same-sex marriage…. As for the other 32 states, nothing has changed. Sorry about that. Some of us are equal, but only those of us who were lucky enough to be born in a state like Massachusetts or were bright enough to move to a state like Washington. For those of us who choose to stay in backwards and mean-spirited placed like Utah, Kansas, Mississippi – well, we’re still screwed.

And, by the way, what’s with this “staying put” crap? I get asked by straight folks all the time! “Hey – why don’t you just move to another state?” Dude – why don’t YOU?

Here’s why (and I’ll bet our lists are strikingly similar):
---This is our HOME. This is where we were born and raised.
---Our families are here. I don’t just mean the wife and kids. I mean parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, best-friends-who-are-better-than-siblings.
---We own a home and property, and we quite enjoy our little plot of dirt. We chose it for a reason.
---My job is here. I’ve been at the company for 23 years, and I do ok. I’ll leave it when the time comes, but I can’t just quit and go without something else comparable/better waiting for me.
---Like many parents know (and I didn’t understand until just recently), it’s not easy to uproot your kids from their school – especially when you LOVE the school. LOVE IT. Love the curriculum, love the approach, love the staff, love the teachers, love the other students, love that they are open and willing, love that our kids are happy.
---For all of its backwards politics and exclusionary religious crap, Utah is still a pretty cool place to live. Those of you who live here know how pretty it is and how amazing it is to have opportunities to do just about ANYTHING! Mountains, deserts, red rocks, meadows, forests – the only thing that we’re missing is the ocean (and, technically, the Great Salt Lake was part of the ocean a gajillion years ago).

So, see? I’ll bet a lot of our reasons are on your list, too. We don’t just up and move because some things are hard. We try to change them. We try to change policies. We try to give others an opportunity to change their own minds by showing how we are much more similar than different.

So, when the leader of HRC says that their goal is to have marriage equality in all 50 states in 5 years, well, I sit up and listen. When he says that he is going to start in a state like Utah, I fall off of my chair. Then, I sit back and think about it. Not a completely horrible idea. After all, the tides are changing here.

So many young people (younger than most of our current state legislators and senators) just don’t care. They don’t hang on to this stuff that makes us different from and fearful of each other. They are much more concerned with the environment and ethics and food additives than they are about who is kissing whom. This is not to say that they do not respect and follow their religious leaders, but they seem to be more of a mindset that their church can prohibit same-sex marriage, but as long as we’re not getting married in their church or within their faith, then they will just let it go. Oh, please grow up faster, you whipper-snappers!

So, what if we were to elect more open-minded folks? Is that such a bad thing? What if we actually convince some of the old fogies that we’re not out to destroy all of humanity? What if marriage equality actually happens in Utah? Well, then it is my opinion that the other 32 states will fall into line. After all, who wants to be known as MORE conservative than Utah? Um, nobody, that’s who.

So, DOMA is dead, but we still wait and see. Progress, people. Progress.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Where have I been?

Due to a change in my car-pool schedule, I rarely get home before 6:15pm. This gives me three hours to bathe myself, have dinner, bathe the boys, spend time with the boys or Bub, weed the garden, do yard work, help with house work, read with the boys, go for a walk or bike ride with the dogs or boys, or much of anything else. And, no – I’m not making that stuff up. I truly expect that I will get all of those things done each night. I have yet to make it work, but that’s still what I think is going to happen! Sometimes, after a decidedly UN-glamorous day of spreadsheets and data collection, I just come home and zone out in front of the TV. Those are not my best parenting/wife-y days.

But, blogging just has not been on that list. It’s true that I can blog a bit after the boys finally go to sleep, but the past two months have been consumed with pulling off a successful arts festival. (And, it was, by the way. More on that later.)

This week, however, I have been “given” the gift of time. In other words, I’m riding the bus to work all week long. BLECK! I may not like the commute, but I have a few extra hours to try and catch up here in blog-o-land. (To be fair, I do not mind riding the bus – even the creepy one on State Street. It’s the amount of time it takes – 90 minutes each direction. Oy, vey!)

So, that’s where I’ve been: working, running, festival-ing, and trying to be a good mom and wife. There have been so many times when I thought “Oh, I really need to blog about that,” but four or five days later and the thought is long gone. Too bad. I’m sure that some of them were brilliant. Yeah. That’s it.