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Unfinished business

Like an old friend or even a lover you have taken a break from, but with whom you must have some unfinished business – that’s how I feel about Proposition 8. The majority voter-backed constitutional amendment declares that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. The majority of the money that funded the ads and the campaign came from Mormons, though Mormons are less than two percent of the state’s population.  The church’s influence in the political process (members didn’t donate in force until their leaders strongly urged them to)  was the final straw for me. I resigned from the Mormon church. I blogged about it. I did my part – for a while – and let go and moved on. I changed my blog (from A Series of Small Failures to I Am Blossoming) and shifted my energy to focus on yoga and other aspects of life, more in the present and less hanging onto the past.

Yet here we are, going on two years later, and California, my home state, is still torn about whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Yesterday’s closing arguments in the trial in San Francisco kept me riveted as people live- tweeted and blogged. Perfect timing, as I had a chance to watch 8: The Mormon Proposition last night. And I’m interviewing Reed Cowan, one of the filmmakers, tonight.

I may have set this issue aside for a while, but I still care. And Proposition 8 is still in effect. (Closing your eyes and pretending something’s not there doesn’t make it go away!) Yesterday, the attorney defending the proposition, Charles Cooper, proposed undoing the 18,000 marriages that took place in the brief window when same sex marriage was legal in California. That includes the marriage of one of my best friends. I want to do whatever I can to move this emotionally-charged conversation forward. Yet I live in Salt Lake City. Most of my immediate family are Mormons. Many of the people I work with (and like and respect) are Mormons.

As I was wondering whether I should just keep my mouth shut, I saw this post on Facebook. It’s from the Dalai Lama:

“If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question: What do you care enough about to fight for? Honestly, this is somewhat of a crusade. But I want to address it with kindness, compassion, and respect. After all, the heart of this issue is really love and family.

Have you seen The Mormon Proposition? Do you want to? If you could talk to the filmmakers, what would you want to know? I would love to get questions from both sides – from those who support same-sex marriage and those who don’t, from Mormons and non-Mormons.

This issue isn’t going away. Based on the closing arguments yesterday, I think the court will overturn Prop. 8. And it will get appealed to the supreme court.

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Haiti

Thanks to @elephantjournal, who posted these poems from Haiti.  Just wanted to share one:

YO DI

Yo di
san kretyen
enrichi
late

Si sete vre
Si sete vret
mezanmi

ala diri
pitmi
ak mayi

ki ta genyen
la peyi
D’Ayiti

They say

human blood
enriches
soil

If that were true
If that were true
my friends

how rice
millet
and corn

would thrive
in
Haiti

Here’s the link for the rest: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/01/poems-from-haiti-translated-by-merete-mueller-with-dominique-herard/

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twitter circa 1899

I found this Universal Dictionary of the English Language, published 1899, at the same estate sale where I found the pink and orange shell lamps.

Awesome. This dictionary has *every* word in the english language! “Orthography, pronunciation, meaning, use, origin and development of every word.” Plus it’s profusely illustrated.

Wanted to look up Internet, but I only have volume IV (RHE.-Z) But Twitter!

twit’-ter, *twit-er, *twitre, v.i. & t. [A freq. from a base twit, and so = to keep on saying twit: twit is a weakened form of twat, which appears in twattle, the older form of twaddle (p.v.); cf Ger zwitschern=to twitter; Dut. kwetteren; Dan. quiddre; Sw. quittra=to chirp, to twitter.]

A. Intransitive:

1. to utter a succession of short, tremulous, intermitted notes; to chirp. “The swallow twittering on the straw-built shed.” Gray: Elegy

*2. To have a tremulous motion of the nerves; to be agitated.

*3. To make the sound of a half-suppressed laugh; to titter.How the fool bridles! How she twitters at him.” Beaum. & Flet: Pilgrim, iii 6.

B. Trans.: To utter in tremulous, intermitted notes.  “The linnet twittered out his parting song.” Cowper: Anti-Thelyphthora.

twit’-ter (1) s. [Engl. twit; -er] One who twits, taunts, or upbraids.

twit’-ter (2) s. [TWITTER, v.]

1. A small, intermitted, tremulous noise or series of chirpings, as the sound made by a swallow.

2. A slight trembling of the nerves; slight nervous excitement or agitation; tremulousness. “Cut whole giants into fritters./ To put them into amorous twitters.” Butler: Hudibras, iii. 1.

Kinda begs the question: What is twattle?

twat’-tle (1), v.i.&t [TWADDLE.]

A. Intrans.: To talk much and sillily; to prate, to twaddle. “The apostle Paul finds fault with a certain sort of women who were prattlers, which would go from house to house, twattling, and babbling out frothy speech that was good for nothing.” — Whateley: Redemption of Time, p. 15. (1634.)

It’s making me laugh yet also annoying me that men are never twats.

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Inspiration goes to Sarah Tomson Beyer (Flowmotionstyle.com)
Mumtaz : Bombay Dub Orchestra : The Rough Guide To Indian Lounge
Fleur blanche : Orsten : Hotel Costes X
Ganesha : Wah! : Love Holding Love
Hare Krisna (feat. Seu Jorge) : Thievery Corporation : Radio Retaliation
Ma Chant (Kali) : Wah! : Love Holding Love
Rock In A Heart Space : Krishna Das : All One
Say Hey (I Love You) [feat. Cherine Anderson] : Michael Franti & Spearhead
Monsoon Malabar : Bombay Dub Orchestra
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 : The Flaming Lips : Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
It’s Summertime : The Flaming Lips : Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
A Universe To Come : Tulku : Chill Out In Paris II
Más y Más : Pacifika : Asunción
Chiquita : Pacifika : Asunción
Krishna Dub Remix (feat. Sharon Gannon) : M.C. Yogi : Elephant Power
By Thy Grace : Snatam Kaur : Grace

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What we lose

Reflections – past and present blurring

I got a Christmas card this week from the mother of my boyfriend Scott who died 27 years ago.

She sends cards every year. Until this past year, the cards were heartwarming, humorous tales of the past twelve months – Republican Women’s Club meetings, fishing trips with her husband, dinner parties … unspoken was the nagging reminder that Scott wasn’t part of any of it. Or part of my life.

This year, however, her husband died. After he retired from a career that included living in Lebanon (where people liked to touch the young Scott’s blond hair for good luck), she and her husband were constant companions. Decades together, and now she is single, finding her path:

“Dear friends,

I’m still adjusting to widowhood.

At times I’m like a babe in the wood,

Seeing wild things behind every tree,

And searching for paths to harmony

(Couldn’t find a pear tree, let alone a partridge)”

When Scott asked me to marry him, I was only 19. I was in my freshman year at BYU (where most of the women there had gone to find a husband – something that shocked me). I was just awakening to the world (living in a different state!). So despite being in love with him, I was torn. I wondered what else was out there. Bottom line: I didn’t want to get married yet, so I said no. Or was it pure fear? Fear of the unknown? My refusal led to his decision to go on a Mormon mission to Kentucky, where he died.

Of course it was all my fault, I thought – I had introduced him to the church. If I hadn’t said no to the proposal, he wouldn’t have gone, and maybe he wouldn’t have died. Once he left, though, we wrote to each other, and despite my brief engagement to someone else (that BYU influence is the only excuse I can come up with), I was convinced that all was well and that Scott and I would get married when he returned. When he died, my first thought was that I wanted to die. I have a journal full of sad prayers asking God to take me, if it was his will. It wasn’t, though I begged. Instead, I took the money I was saving to go backpacking through Europe and I went on a mission too, thinking I would finish what he started. Missions are a great way of avoiding life – and grief. And the church’s doctrine was such a comfort. I thought that by “serving the Lord” (and doing all the other right stuff) I would be worthy to be with him once I did pass over to where he was. People just don’t know better, I think, when they tell you things like “he was too good for this world.” Which implies that those left behind (you) are somehow inferior.

“Ignorance was bliss when Glen was home.

I’m learning now what I should have known.

At making things work, he was adept.

With complex concepts, I’m still inept.

(Trying to program the thermostat leaves me cold.)”

His mom felt inept on her own. I, on the other hand, was independent. Sort of. I met someone on my mission and fell in love, but by the time D proposed (five years later) I was jaded. I did say yes, and wore that ring for a while – until I caught him cheating and moved to San Francisco to put enough space between us to move on.

Looking back, I realize that I was afraid of letting anyone else ever get that close again. No one else could ever be as amazing as Scott. D wasn’t, and that was proof. So after D, even if someone were, I wouldn’t have allowed him to be. No way was I going to risk that kind of loss again. No fucking way. Okay, well, I did risk it again. More heartache.

This seems to be a theme in my life. Failed relationships, and moving. To San Francisco, to New York, to Puerto Rico…

Now that I’m in Utah, I want to stay and deal, rather than moving on. Receiving her card reminded me of everything I have lost. When I learned Glen had died, it awoke all that grief, and I did reach out to her for the first time in years. Her printed poem and letter ended with a hand-written note: “Hope all is well with you – Thank you again for your caring words about Glen.”

Stupid, how after Glen died, I mourned for the inlaws I never had. For the children I never had. Yet, my losses seem so insignificant compared to hers.

Loss appears again:

One of these beautiful beings is now an angel

And again:

What is dear will always remain

Sending love and compassion to everyone who has lost, and found a way to move on.

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Yesterday I started writing this sappy syrupy sickly sad post called “Requiem for Love Lost.” Perhaps one day I will finish it. I was thinking about Gogo (who I saw last weekend!), T, and D. I am not a stranger to loss. And those are just the losses of the past six months. (Not really lost, in the case of the men… love lives on in friendship, but the loss of romantic love is something to mourn. sigh.)

Lately, I am really into living in the vibration that I want to be my reality. No use dwelling on what’s lost. What’s to come…. now that’s what I’m interested in at this very moment. And I just bought my ticket to Element 11!

What is Element 11? It’s Utah’s regional burn, the official regional Burning Man event ™, out at Seabase, somewhere on the Bonneville salt flats. It starts Thursday. I can’t get there until after my nephew’s wedding on Friday evening. Hmmph.

Looking over the description of the theme camps and events, I feel the rebirth already. There’s Camp Oasis of Transformation, with yoga and bodywork and even a “Transformation Testimony Meeting and Fashion Show.” These are my people!  Then there’s Anti-M’s Home for Wayward Art & the Artery, with an art station for creating stuff. The Black Rock City Canoe Club is setting up a communal kitchen for anyone to use, and is making grilled cheese and bacon every night (reminiscent of Bianca’s). The Giggle Collective is having banana splits and ice cream sundaes on Sunday. I’ll probably skip Viva Las Vegas camp’s banana blow job competition.

I first went to Burning Man in 2000 with some friends from San Francisco. I went again in 2002, which was a bit more challenging, as I was making the trip from New York (where i was living at the time). The 2003 burn was even more of a schlep. My ex and I (who i met at the 2002 burn) traveled all the way from Puerto Rico to Black Rock City, about two hours north of Reno.

So after six years, I’m easing back in, starting with Element 11. Compared to the 40,000 or so who attend Burning Man, there will be maybe 800 people at Element 11. I’m going to be in Pineapple camp, with my friends Mark and Kameron. I’m driving up with my friend Phidias, who I met via Twitter. I’ll teach yoga on Saturday and Sunday for anyone who wants to come. It’ll have to be spontaneous, because I can’t even imagine setting a schedule. I predict there will not be a lot of sleeping going on. Summer solstice is on Sunday — hallelujah!!! the longest night of the year!! — and there’s a solstice burn with offerings to Ra, the Sun god, at 3:45 a.m.

Tonight I pulled out my costume bin and started planning a mixture of old and new. I lost most of my burning man photos when my hard drive crashed five years ago, sadly. I wish I could share some of my creations. I spent two entire months in the summer of 2002 (visiting Utah while waiting for my nephew Logan to be born) going to Deseret Industries every day and making stuff. I found a coconut shell bra, and made a green fabric grass skirt to go with it. I made a lot of hats. My favorite was covered in moss and flowers. Paired with flowing green fabric wrapped into different styles, depending on my mood, I was an earth goddess. The year before, I dressed as the angel Moroni’s wayward sister. Gold body paint, gold spray-painted wig, gold lame fabric wrapped everywhere, and I carried a golden trumpet. That year, I drove out with a bunch of ex-mormons from Utah who created a temple and re-enacted certain ceremonies. But by then, I was connected to Asylum Village, where I stayed my last two years, with 300 or so amazing New Yorkers.

I usually changed costumes four times a day. I guess that was my contribution. At Burning Man, you are not a spectator. You are a participant. You can create whatever you can fathom. Friends from Brooklyn, part of the Madagascar Institute, created an Octopus on the far reaches of the playa. They welded the structure, 80 feet by 30 feet, covered it in fabric or fiberglass — i can’t remember. At the end of each tentacle, fire cannons erupted all night long. It was glorious.

People create beautiful art and burn it. And they make gifts they hand out. Or they just do random sweet things. My first year, at the end of the week, parched and dehydrated, I was walking along the esplanade (the first street in the series of concentric circles that make up the village) when a man offered me a tray of watermelon. Cold, crisp, perfectly cut into big cubes. I picked one cube. It was delicious. I kissed him and told him I loved him. It was such a random, perfect act. That to me is the essence of Burning Man. Unexpected kindness. Love. Vision. Creativity.

Last year, when I went to San Francisco for Heather and Stacy’s wedding, just after the ceremony, as the summer heat was overtaken by clouds, I handed them two fake fur coats. Heather told me later that it was a perfect Burning Man moment. They wore their coats the rest of the evening as protection against the cold.

There’s something about Burning Man. The sense of community — when you arrive at the entrance, greeters say, “Welcome home.” Just purchasing my ticket tonight, I feel like I’ve come home.

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Yesterday I resisted moping around — and i had a lot to mope about. I was feeling sad over changes in my relationship especially.

My mom is back in town, meaning that I am under the microscope again. We are sharing the car while she is here, and thankfully I decided to drive her to my brother’s so that she could take care of my nephews while their parents were doing their church duties. I didn’t want to be depressed and isolated and car-less here in the basement on the side of the mountain.

I haven’t seen much of my family lately. Things have been strained since I resigned from the church in such a public way. They were so happy to see me, and full of so much love in my time of sadness. My littlest nephew, Logan, gave me the sweetest hug. They were all heading off to church, but my brother Ted suggested I go to their pool. They live in Saratoga Springs in a development with a pool fed from the natural hot springs. “It’s Sunday,” he said. “No one will be there.”

So Pooka and I drove home, got my bathing suit, and headed back. The sun was bright, the water was really warm, almost hot. From the first moment underwater, I felt the sadness melting away.  He was wrong — there were actually quite a few families there. At first I thought maybe being there wasn’t such a good idea, reminding me of what I thought I lost. It was a little cold to be in a bikini in the sun, at first, so I headed to the hot tub. Ah. So healing.

Back in the sun, lounging on a chaise next to a flowering bush, minding my own business, a wasp landed on my thumb and stung me.

But from there, it got better. I didn’t leave. I just moved away from the bush. It got warmer. I swam some more. After two hours of just sitting with my thoughts, kissed by the sun (ok, a little burnt, but it felt sooo good!) I went back to my brother’s. Logan gave me another big hug. He stuck with me all afternoon. We trampolined. I showed him Pooka’s trick that Tyler taught her (sit! shake!). We tried to teach it to Jack, his boston terrier. We trampolined some more, with Garrett. We played tag on the trampoline. It was impossible to not laugh, collapsing in giggles and out of breath. We brought out a bowl of popcorn and trampolined with that too. I thought of parents scolding for something like that, but thought, what is the harm? (and again thought of Tyler and how he let Elliott paint a robot and a sun and other designs on his bedroom wall, and also of how I had painted a heart on Harper’s wall before Tyler evened it out with the roller.) We tossed popcorn to Pooka and Jack, and finally let Pooka eat all the popcorn that had suspended midair and hadn’t fallen back into the bowl during the trampolining.

So much comfort and care. They really are beautiful — my nephews, my brother, my sister in law, my mother.

We stopped by my other brother’s on the way home to pick up his ipod so we could have Mad Men marathon (season 2). Again, though things have been strained, they were so loving. Jennifer gave me the sweetest hug. They had three desserts, and i decided to eat all three. A little sugar therapy.

So my mom and I watched four seasons of Mad Men.

I’m so grateful to be surrounded by family love. They have known me all their lives, most of them anyway. We have a history, yet it was still hard for them to come to terms with me and my “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” as my mom puts it. Tyler’s family, on the other hand, doesn’t know me well — mostly from the really nice thanksgiving weekend we spent visiting in Arizona. They have found my blog, the old one, at least, and are upset about it. More sadness. I am no longer a Mormon, and I have been critical. But that’s me. When talking about my experiences, I don’t mean to criticize others for something that brings them happiness.

I forgot to take my camera battery out of the charger at home, so I didn’t get to take pictures, but here’s one of a similar day last year, when Cooper was alive.

trampolining is such good medicine!

trampolining is such good medicine!

I think that I lost myself for a while in my relationship, something i always intend to avoid, but that always seems to happen when things aren’t going well. I can’t afford to do that. No one can. And if we truly can get back our friendship, that’s all that really matters. I was mourning the loss of a friend. I was needy. I was intense. And I’m sorry.

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