31 May, 2009

If a genie gave you 3 wishes, what would they be?

Thanks for the prompt Vilja. I love you. You should all check out Vilja and Jordan's blog, because it is wicked awesome. Vilja's prompt in full was:

"If a genie gave you 3 wishes, what would they be? (Following the "Aladdin" rules of no wishing for more wishes, no wishing people dead, and no making people fall in love)"

Unrelated side note: my dinner tonight was red peppers, onions, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, corn and carrots roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary. And it was FABULOUS. Maybe I will be able to cook, after all. Someday.

Anyway, here are my three wishes and their justifications:

1. My first wish would be a cure for scleroderma. I know you all will probably call me a jerk for not eradicating ALL diseases with a wish, but here's the thing: diseases are necessary, even though when they strike and who they strike is often quite unfair. Having all disease eliminated would most likely lead to some post-apocalyptic world in which no one could survive past twenty and everyone was the most vile of sinners. Or something like that. If I could find a cure for one disease, it would be the one affecting my best friend Cori. And all the other people dealing with scleroderma who pretty much suffer in silence. It pisses me off that few people know about scleroderma only because no one famous has died from it.

2. My next wish would be to know 1. Whether I was going to get married in this life and if so 2. the EXACT date of said marriage. I know some people think knowing things like that takes the fun out of life. Not so! If I knew when I were getting married I could stop worrying about it, and plan my life accordingly. Assuming the date were at least a few years in the future I could even have a little fun and go on some adventures (maybe even join the Peace Corps!) without worrying about missing out on something more important. None of the stressing out about moving business. To stay in Provo or not to stay? Well, I'm getting married January 19th, 2012. So I can move to New York for a few years, at least. That was easy. Ah. If only.

3. This third one is harder to come up with. I can think of a few, but I can't be sure how important they are. Some of them just aren't, actually. Like inheriting a winery in Oregon and spending the rest of my life there. Or looking like Catherine Zeta-Jones. Or a horsey. I can also think of a few attempts at "changing the world" like eradicating war or ending poverty. But honesty, messing with agency in such an epic way really seems like a bad move in the long run. This life really is pretty short, when you think about it. So I'm going to say that my last wish would be to choose one hundred people in the world who could have one wish, and having it granted with my approval. I think a lot of good could be accomplished that way, but not so much that mortality becomes pointless.

Lastly: my new favorite snack is toast with sour cream. It's so yummy!

28 May, 2009

Forget those prompts. This is GOLD.

It is important that I share this story with you all while it is still fresh in my mind. This is one of those experiences that is only funny AFTER it's all over.

To set the scene: As most of you know, I occasionally model nude for art classes in Utah Valley. I understand if you have personal objections to the idea, but I can justify this decision as follows:

1. Modeling nude for artists is no more sexual than being nude while your doctor gives you an examination. To professional artists, I am not a naked women. I am a human landscape.

2. If someone were, theoretically, to judge me by my appearance, they are just as likely, if not more likely, to pass judgment on me when I am clothed. Thus, being naked in front of art students does not damage my self-esteem or make me worry that they are judging me based on my body. Most of the students barely remember that I am a human body at all (see #1).

3. Modeling pays handsomely and I desperately need the money.

4. Learning how to properly draw "the contours of the female form" (if you can name the movie I will buy you lunch ... I mean it) is an important skill for artists to learn. I am serving a purpose just like the good folks who participate in medical studies.

5. I feel obligated to donate blood as often as I can, and the main reason why I feel this strong sense of obligation is that giving blood doesn't bother me. I can even watch the needle go into my arm. No big deal. In a similar way, because being naked in front of others doesn't disturb me the way it might disturb others, I feel that I am doing humanity a service by fulfilling this purpose so someone else doesn't have to. Taking one for the team. Of humanity.

Anyway, if you're still not on board, we'll have to agree to disagree, and you probably shouldn't keep reading this.

So tonight I worked at an open drawing session at Utah Valley University. A fine institution, by the way. I have been nothing but impressed by the caliber of the art and theater programs there. Anyway, tonight's class was pretty small, so it only lasted an hour. There were only six people there--all guys. Which isn't unusual because there seem to be a lot more guys in the UVU art program than the BYU one. Probably something to do with money. But I digress.

We began the class with gestures, which are short drawings meant to capture the essence of a certain pose. Because they are so short, one can generally pose a little more interestingly: bending, twisting, lying on one's side, etc. I walked up to the platform, took off my robe, and stood in the center with my right foot at ninety degrees and my arms folded. Pretty standard art pose. but the red-headed kid sitting directly in front of me exhaled loudly in the silent classroom.

"Wow ...." he said, as if he had never seen a naked woman before (it occurs to me now that it's possible he hadn't until that moment). "Beautiful."

This was not the most comfortable moment of my life. My next pose was kneeling, with my head turned away from Carrot Top.

"Awww..." he said. "Don't turn away.... heh heh heh" To which one of the other guys, whom I now love and would happily marry if he asked, said, "Dude. Shhhhh."

This meant war. Thankfully, aside from one or two other muttered compliments (each about how I was "beautiful") the rest of the hour was silent. During my break, Ginger tried to strike up a conversation, but I shut him down with a dirty look and a one-word, borderline rude answer. I have no tolerance for people I don't like, and I did not like this kid. If you know me, you know this.

After half an hour of gestures, I did a long pose for about half an hour. I amused myself the entire time by planning a meticulous speech that would both shame him and learn him some manners. It went a little something like:

"Laying aside the fact that I am a human being and a daughter of God, and the fact that no woman deserves to be treated the way you treated me the first fifteen minutes of this class, I am a professional figure model for the art department of a university. I am not a porn star, and if I wanted someone to look at me naked and make weird noises I could be making a lot more than twenty dollars an hour elsewhere. If I ever see you again at an event like this, I will kick you out unless you display the same courtesy everyone else here does."

Beautiful, no? Searing, yet classy. And without a single swear, though I planned a couple alternative versions that were laced with profanity. And I was all set to let this kid have it, too. Until the class was over.

Afterwards, Archie thanked me profusely, asked me if I liked his drawing (I did not) and left. As he got up to walk out, however, I noticed that he was severely handicapped. Looked like cerebral palsy, but possibly another form of palsy. He spoke to some of the other students as the class was packing out, and although he was, in fact, a bona fide UVU art student, he was clearly not all there. I couldn't yell at a handicapped person. Shaming him wouldn't have helped. So I let him walk out, and though I was neither friendly nor polite, I didn't bitch him out.

As soon as he walked out, the other guys all walked up to me and apologized. One of the them even gave me five dollars. The most intimidating guy, who had piercings and tattoos and frankly scared me a little initially, was the most contrite and walked me out of the building. The other artists were the epitome of class. Each one apologized for not telling him off, but admitted they didn't know what to say, which is understandable. Anyway, they more than made up for Peppermint Patty's behavior. And now, a few hours later, I find the whole situation hilarious.

The End. To the post, and to my writer's block.

27 May, 2009

In which I do something just short of hosting a "giveaway"

Sorry about the blogging hiatus. It's been a crazy fortnight. But not the kind of crazy that would be interesting to write about, unfortunately.

That's why I need your help! Well, that, and I'm pretty much totally jealous of Kayla, who has amazing blogging fodder, in part because she asked her readers what she should write about.

I am doing the same thing! Tell me, dear readers, what you want to read about. And I will most likely supply it for you. Within reason, naturally. Remember, though, "within reason" for me is pretty darn broad. Go to, and provide for me blogging fodder!



12 May, 2009

"Women’s bodies are built to remember—men’s to forget." Lisa Piorczynski

Warning: This blog entry has been rated PG for content. Also, I use the words "blood," "childbirth," and "menstruation." You have been warned.

I am 24 years old, and I started my period when I was 11. That's thirteen unlucky years. I find it strange and disconcerting that I still have a hard time, thirteen years later, waking up one morning a month with that strange feeling between my legs, looking down and seeing myself covered in my own blood. I'm old enough not to be afraid, to recognize that's it's natural, just part of being a woman. But my blood is so red like primary school paint, and there's always so much of it. Thirteen years later, it still scares me.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why God created women's bodies the way He did. I think there's something to Piorczynski's quote that I cited above: for better or worse, I will never forget the first time I saw my hand covered in blood that wasn't the result of a cut, that didn't mean I needed a band-aid. Nor could I ever forget my first "real" menstruation. For whatever reason, the first few times didn't hurt. But I will never forget the first time my body took on a life of its own and sent me doubling over in pain. It felt--and still feels--like someone scraping my insides with a shovel. At an age when I did not want my mother to see me as vulnerable, that was exactly how she found me, lying in the fetal position in the shower, sobbing. Wet, naked, terrified, in physical agony, and lying on the floor, crying like a baby. It doesn't get much more vulnerable than that.

There was a purpose though, even in that incident. My mother never treated me the same way again. It was like I had enlisted in an army. Women are bound to each other in their mutual monthly pain and discomfort and pissiness, in a way that no man will ever understand. That night when I was 11, when my dad tried to yell at me for taking a shower in the middle of the night, my mom told him off, which she never did. My father never questioned my bathing habits again, and he also never looked at me the same way. With him though, it was with a new distance, a recognition that I had gone somewhere he could never go.

It occurred to me today that maybe there's a purpose in that vulnerability. Once again today I was sitting on the floor of the shower, whimpering a little, but not crying, as something inside me kicked and scraped and sent spasms of pain from my lower back to my lower stomach, right where my jeans sit. The hot water helped a little, but nothing really helps that much. Then Pamela came in and handed me a vegetarian egg roll, which I ate right there in the shower. (We like to eat in the shower at this house.) She knows what I am going through, because the same thing will happen to her next week. We take turns being vulnerable, feeling like whales with sharks swimming inside of us. We all know how it feels, so we take care of each other.

I also remember the way Cori's older brother fawned over her when she had her period. He would make her tea and bring her hot pads to lie with in bed. I still haven't figured out if this is a good thing or not, but female vulnerability seems to bring out the best in some men. The good ones at least. Maybe women were created to experience this pain to keep the men around, to keep them taking care of us. I don't necessarily like it, but the idea seems fairly rooted in our evolution. The Bible is full of analogies about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, of bearing children in sorrow and misery. Woe unto those who give suck in the last days, it says. I think it was Martha Beck who wrote about that scripture in particular, saying that a woman by herself can fight or run from danger, but a woman with babies is toast. A lot of times, the pain I feel each month feels separate from me, like a kicking creature, and I wonder if this is what childbirth will feel like. I also wonder how anyone would be able to endure something this painful without holding another person's hand. I don't think I could do it.

My friends who have had babies talk about how it feels like menstrual cramps, but stronger, that it feels like going to the bathroom, but more difficult. "Pooping out a watermelon" is how one friend so eloquently put it . Why do out bodies start preparing us for that experience years before it matters? Why does an 11 year-old need to worry about the pain of bringing babies to earth? It's all there, though. The means of doing it, and the physical foreshadowing of what it will feel like. The other thing I've heard from everyone, conversely, is that once you finish and hold that baby, you forget how much it hurt. You kinda want to do it again. All the pain is worth it--and I like to think they're talking not just about the pain of childbirth itself, but all the pain that led up to it. All the years of spending three days feeling like everyone on earth hates you and is looking at you wrong, then waking up one morning smeared with blood, showering it off until the only thing left is that dull, aching pain, an angry little man inside you stomping on your ovaries, scraping out your uterus with a shovel. A rusty one. It's pointless, I feel like telling him. Nothing there. All this pain is a waste of my time. But when I think about what it's preparing me for, I suppose it isn't.

10 May, 2009


When I was little my mom used to put me to bed. She would kiss me and say something her mother had always said to her: "I love you more than tongue can tell." However, the way she slurred her words, it would always sound to me like "Tunkintell." I pictured a little man, like a mix between William Tell, Robin Hood, and a leprechaun, who for whatever reason was not nearly as lovable as me. Apparently she loved my brothers more than that weird little guy too.

Today in my singles' ward three people my own age, two men and one woman, obviously none of them mothers, spoke about motherhood. Or rather, they had been assigned to speak about their mothers and the lessons they had learned from them, but each of them in succession started to speak about their own mother, then stopped and talked about something unrelated. They expressed love and gratitude for their mothers, but once that was said, it was like they ran out of steam. I believe this is because expressing one's feelings about the woman who bore and raised them feels overly intimate, maybe even a little sacrilegious. It's easier to talk about faith in the abstract than the faith you learned from your mother.

Every mother's life is connected not only to her daughter's, but to her own. I am tied to my grandmother as much as my mother is tied to me. We cannot be separated anymore than our names in a long line: DorothyKathleenElisa. My mother, Kathleen, told me little about Dorothy, my grandmother, until I was an adult. I have pieced together as much of her life as I can, but much of it remains a mystery to me. I wish I had known her better when she was alive, but now the stories about how and the reflections her life has in her only daughter's life are all I have to work with.

My grandmother lived in Spokane for most of her life. By all accounts she was an incontrollable sass, from the time she was three or four. She loved dancing and smoked a pack a day (sometimes more) for over seventy years. She married young and already pregnant in a time where marriage was the only option for unwed pregnancy. (I promised my mother I wouldn't share this information with anyone until after she (my grandmother) had already died. I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it now.) Her first husband drank too much. He beat her and chased her around with a knife in front of their three sons. I am fuzzy as to whether she left him or he left her, but they were eventually, mercifully separated and she moved across the country with her oldest son no older than 6. Once, on her way to work as a secretary in a doctor or dentist's office, she got on the bus, looked down and realized she had forgotten to put on her skirt. She was only wearing a slip. She laughed about that story for years, my mom says, which makes me think I probably would have gotten along better with her under different circumstances. It's the kind of thing I would do.

Later, Dorothy fell in love and married Edgar, my grandfather, and had three more children. my mother was the oldest of this newer set. My grandparents were deeply in love and never fell out of it, even though they were poor and couldn't afford a wedding ring at their marriage. Dorothy used to put on records of Hawaiian music and pretend to dance the hula when my mother had friends over. Once, she broke a plate over my mother's head when Kathleen was being especially horrid. Dorothy and Kathleen shared a love for professional baseball and little ugly dogs.

I have only heard one Mother's Day talk that did not involve the extravagant praise of one's mother. It was in my home ward many years ago. An older brother in my ward spoke about forgiveness, and his effort to understand that his mother did the best she could in raising him and his siblings. We all need a bit of that charity towards our mothers, I think. For me that recognition of the woman behind the mother did not come until a few years ago. But seeing that human being underneath, with quirks and fears and insecurities, makes every mother more lovable to me, not less.

My mother entered the convent upon graduating from high school. The Church paid for her Master's degree in biology, and although she had previously considered becoming a research scientist, as a nun teaching was pretty much her only option. She played guitar and smoked cigarettes (though not as obsessively as her own mother) and didn't get along with her Mother Superior. At the same time, she spent hours praying and meditating. She filled two gallon buckets with water and held them straight at either side of her body for as long as she could. She marched in support of the Civil Rights' Movement. She took off her veil when it itched. Later, when she left the convent, she took a job at a women's prison, where she met my father.

As a child, my mother was everything that was safe and reliable. I refused to go down any waterslide until she agreed to go down with me. I still hate waterslides. She was so much older than the mothers of most of my friends, but unlike many of them, she had a mind of her own. Real life experience. She had lived through enough of life to not be one of those eerie overbearing mothers that most first children have to deal with. She let me walk to the store alone. She let me climb trees and ride my bike and sit in the attic for hours if I wanted do. There was a tremendous amount of freedom in being my mother's daughter. Yet at the same time, when I was frantically finishing a poster or paper in middle school, she would drive me to Kinko's or check my spelling, but only if I asked her to.

I also saw the Kathleen in my mother every once in a while. When she lost her temper with me and told me to go to hell, I saw her Mother drop to reveal the human being underneath, just for a moment. Or when one of us kids would demand the same stupid book she had read to us every night for a week, she would roll her eyes and flat out refuse. She wouldn't buy me the trendy expensive toys I wanted. We had to play with math games and anatomically correct dolls. From a very young age, I was fascinated by babies and childbirth. She indulged this fascination and even bought me a copy of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" when I started puberty. She never treated me like I was too young or too stupid for the truth. Which is why to this day I have no patience for people who talk to children as if they were idiots.

I see myself in both of these women. Not only in my forgetfulness and brutal honesty, or in my near-constant cravings for cigarettes (though I don't give into them), but in all the things that make me who I am. My mother wrote this to me in a letter soon before I left for college:

"You are, first of all, my first child. You changed my life--and your dad's--so incredibly much! Your dad stopped riding motorcycles because of you. I never read the newspaper the same way after you were born. I quit my job because I couldn't bear to leave you. We watched you grow up, delighting in you daily."

Later, she pointed out the ways that I have followed in her footsteps:

"You know the joy of forgiving and have tried to mend fences and work for peace, in your personal life and in the world. I watched you go each Saturday to to stand with the group against the war in Iraq out of conviction that killings others is not the solution. You accept all different kinds of people and are slow to judge others."

The older I get, and as the possibility of my being a mother to someone becomes more and more real, the more I realize how much I want to emulate my mother. I want to love the world and work to make it better, the way she did. And inspire my children to do the same. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

06 May, 2009

Attention women of the world (particularly the women at my gym)

There is an opinion I have on a certain subject, and it's not exactly the kind of thing I'd make t-shirts or start a facebook group about. Nevertheless, I feel that this opinion must be shared. I am grateful for the blog and the forum it provides for honest expression of deeply held beliefs.

Here is my opinion:

I think healthy adult women should have healthy adult pubic hair.

There, I said it.

04 May, 2009

An interesting challenge

1. I held Suzie's brand new baby girl (Eliot Jane) for a few minutes, and she made that snuffling baby sound that is the cutest thing in the entire world, and I almost perished with adoration.
2. Learning about Tycho Brahe in my astronomy class, and about how he lost his nose in a duel.
3. Entertaining myself by wondering what I would challenge someone to a duel about.
4. NPR and dishes with Pamela.
5. My history professor who calls out my fellow students when they are full of crap. I love that.
6. Thai coconut soup.
7. Britney Spears on my iPod while riding my bike to campus.
8. Finally having an excuse to read The Arabian Nights.
9. Our lawn got mowed.
10. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band stuck in my head all afternoon.


1. PMS.
2. Being belligerent for no reason at FHE.
3. Our kitchen is a mess.
4. My room is a mess.
5. My love life (or rather, taste in men) continues to be a mess.
6. Too many things to do, to the point where I become overwhelmed and paralyzed.
7. Scraping my leg while playing a game that I don't even particularly enjoy.
8. Feeling obligated to come up with ten things, then realizing I sound like a brat.
9. I am pretty sure I smell bad.
10. I am also pretty sure I am a brat.


1. Vegetarianism is, in fact, consistent with Mormon doctrine.
2. Eminem is legitimately talented.
3. The death penalty ought to be outlawed in the United States.
4. Americans need to stop blaming Mexico for all their problems.
5. Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

The answers to these "Mystery Lists" are, respectively:
• Reasons why today was awesome.
• Reasons why today wasn't as awesome as it could have been.
• Issues over which I might challenge someone to a duel.

Also, watch this video. It's really great.

02 May, 2009

What goes on at the temple (100% appropriate)

1. A few months ago, I was leading a group of temple patrons up the stairs from the chapel into one of the Endowment rooms. An elderly male worker was with me, and while we were on the stairs I walked behind him, because the stairs were so narrow. Once we reached the top of the stairs I continued to walk behind him, until he stopped and turned towards me. He then said, "Walk beside me. That's the gospel."

2. This afternoon while I was in the changing room, I found a little grey moth. After some effort I caught her in my hands and went through the lobby and through the front doors. I then let her go in the flower patch right outside the temple doors. When I went back inside, the man at the recommend desk smiled at me and asked if i thought the little moth would be all right.

3. Several hours later, I saw an elderly woman do the exact same thing.

This is how I know the Church is true.