Friday, March 22, 2019

How I Became a Feminist

Okay.  First things first.  If you believe your mother, sister, daughter, wife, female partner, or female friend should get paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work for the same job as a man, than guess what.  You're a feminist, too.

So now that we have that out of the way, let me continue.

I've been following the journeys of a number of young women I know who have come to their feminism out of a place of anger--sometimes, I think, because their experiences with the patriarchy at home, at work, and at church have left them feeling both diminished and furious.

I was lucky.  I had grandfathers, a father, brothers, uncles, and neighbors like Stan Collins and Tom Brown who assumed (and behaved like) women were their equals--and possibly their superiors.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized not every young woman has this experience growing up.

Dudes.  Give your daughters a reason to celebrate you and the rest of your sex, yo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

TRQ and the stolen cigarettes

One of the things I love best about TRQ is that she will laugh until the tears are running down her cheeks--even if (and especially when) she's laughing about herself.

Take the story we told each other yesterday at her birthday luncheon.  We remembered the day one of my brothers (WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) stole some cigarettes when he was twelve.

OK.  I love that sentence.  It's so quaint, right?  You'd think that he'd stolen cigarettes in Mayberry.

OPIE'S FRIEND:  Hey, Opie! Let's go steal us some cigarettes!

OPIE:  Yessir!  Let's just make sure my dad or Barney don't catch us.

If you wanted to steal some cigarettes by contrast today, however, you'd have to take a golf club and break the cigarette case first instead of just sneaking a pack off the shelf like you could have back in America's reckless days when nobody wore seatbelts.

Anyway.  My brother did just that and Barney Fife arrested him.  So the Coach had to leave the football field during practice to go pick up my brother at the police station where Otis the town drunk was taking a nap in a jail cell.

Needless to say, TRQ was not best pleased with my brother.  So I said to him, "Why don't you come to work with me tonight."  I was busy working at Albertson's bakery in those days, busting up whenever I had to do some "suggestive selling" over the PA system and also busy losing wedding cakes.  But those are stories for another day.

My brother was thrilled to leave the house.  But as we crawled into the car, TRQ came out and said, "Don't steal any doughnuts at your sister's work tonight, you little thief!"

So he didn't.  And to this day (thanks to TRQ) he doesn't steal doughnuts now.

Or cigarettes either.

Friday, March 1, 2019

When TRQ and I were driving around SLC this afternoon . . .

. . . I made an impromptu left turn from a right hand turn lane. I'm not proud of this but it needed to be done if I wanted to expedite our trip to Ruby Snap for a cookie haul.  Which I did.

Meanwhile, TRQ, gripping the door handle, noted, "That's something your father would have done." It wasn't meant as a compliment.

I couldn't help but marvel at the synchronicity of all this.  I just picked up a copy of Healing After Loss by Martha W Hickman to read today's meditation. Here's what she says:

In the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead, we may find qualities and actions in our lives which surprise us until we smile and think, "I wonder.  Yes.  Maybe that's a part of _______ living in me.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

What I Remembered Today

I'm going to tell you something I remembered today.

The thing I DON'T remember is if I've told you this before.  Sorry if I'm repeating myself.

Anyway. After Dad died, my therapist friend told me to keep a notebook and any time I remembered something or felt his presence somehow, to jot it down.  Which I did.  Which I continue to do.  At some point I remembered a conversation we (Dad and I--not the therapist and I) had while we were in France (my therapist didn't go to France with us), behaving like Americans who are trying hard not to behave like Americans.  I told him that I sometimes really, really, really missed my old lives--particularly the one I had when all my kids were at home and we were this crazy, noisy, vibrant, male-centric family.  And Dad said to me, "Oh, Honey.  You can't live your life that way," meaning that I couldn't keep living while looking over my shoulder for landscapes that have disappeared.

This morning at the store, I spoke with a clerk who knows my mother, mostly because they had a friend in common.  Barbara.  BIG personality.  Generous and inclusive and always game for a good time, even if her idea of a good time was going to BYU Education Week.  So the clerk told me again how much she misses Barbara and how she would give anything to go back to those days.  And suddenly I heard my dad's voice in my ear, "Honey, you can't live your life that way."

Thank you, Dad.  You probably knew I've needed that reminder.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Now Appearing at a Blog Near You--a Poem!

Lately I've been free-writing prose poems at night in my journal.  It's a fun exercise and a way to capture and crystalize a thought.  I was happy-ish with the way this one came together.

Thank you, I said to the orchid
When the last blossom folded its mottled white wings
And floated gently down to the counter.
I release you now, I said.
I’d bought the orchid one day soon after my father died.
Looking at it gave me soft comfort,
Made me think of my father the gardener,
Who told me I needed to discipline myself,
To resist the temptation to plant things too close together
So that each plant would have the space it needs to grow.
Like people.

The orchid bloomed and bloomed.  
Then stopped.  
Then bloomed and bloomed.
Then stopped.
Then bloomed again.
And I believed my father somehow had a hand 
in all that wild unexpected blooming from a grocery store orchid
And I also believed that when the blooming stopped for good
My heart would break all over again.
Until recently.

The blooms were gone from the green stick-insect stems, 
had been gone for a while this time and I felt . . . fine.
So I said I release you now. 
You’ve done your job.
I can manage from here.
I lifted my orchid from the counter to take it outside
And give it back whole to the ground
Because from dust to dust
But noticed that another tiny half-hidden bud
Was willing itself to be.

Thank you, I said to my father.

Monday, January 21, 2019

What I Love About TRQ

She called right now to ask if it's snowing in SLC.

ME:  Yes.

HER:  Are your snowflakes fat?

ME:  I'll look.

HER:  Well, I looked and the snowflakes here are fat.  Some of them are little and dainty though, but Doodle [one of TRQ's poodle-types] likes to bark at the fat ones.

And at this point TRQ sighed happily.  "Isn't Nature amazing?"

Yes.  Yes, it is.  And it's equally amazing to have people in one's life who notice and who take delight.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Thank you, Mary Oliver

. . . for this poem, "The Journey."  And for all the others, too.  RIP.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life that you could save.