I missed the bus this year. Christmas sneaked up on me. I wasn't really feeling the Christmas spirit. Add to it that my girlfriend and I were both working Christmas, and since we work at the same place, we alternated shifts for the two days leading up to Christmas, Christmas day, and the two days after Christmas, effectively meaning that we saw each other just in time to go to sleep and repeat the cycle over.

Anyhow, this post is more for the conversation I had with my family on Christmas day. After I got home from work, I threw dinner into th crockpot and decided to tackle the phone calls I needed to make. I called my mom, chit-chatted for a bit, and then she passed the phone over to my dad, who is hard for me to talk to, even on the best of days.

All is well for the first few minutes, then he asks me if I am getting enough hours at work, whether I'll have enough money for bills at the end of the month. The frank answer is no, not even close, and I told him as much. He said, "Well, I can't help at all, I'm in the same boat."

Which, you know, is expected, but it still pisses me off. I don't ask for help, you know, and I don't expect it, so don't sound so long-suffering and condescending when you inform me that you are as strapped for cash as I am.

Anyway, he then asked me if I was paying tithing. And I said, "No, I am not."

"Well, you need to."

"Dad, let me spell this out. My last paycheck was under $200. Between paying the school and paying rent alone, I need $600 at the end of the month."

"Well, tithing works. It just does. You need to pay your tithing."

"Dad, as an adult, I am making the decision to not pay tithing."

"Okay, just listen to me. Every time I've gone to the Lord and said, 'I've done my part, I've paid my tithing, now it's your turn," the next day--the very next day--I've gotten the help I've needed. A check in the mail or whatever it is, it helps. Tithing works. And you know, I got the feeling like I needed to ask you how you were doing with money, just this deep feeling that you weren't okay."

There are many things I wanted to say at this point, like, for instance, maybe he got the feeling he needed to ask me about it because I make it no secret that I don't work enough, the very last conversation I had with him was discussing how I was only scheduled to work 9 times last month, and money is pretty tight. So, it's not a freaking miracle that his subconscious mind put two and two together and he decided to ask me about it. And, really, if tithing worked, he wouldn't be $90,000 in debt right now, would he?

I hate being preached to, and I especially hate it when my dad treats me like I am a child, like he has patriarchal, God-given authority over me to direct my life. I so badly want to tell him that I cannot in good conscience donate 10% of my hard-earned income, which is hardly sufficient as it is, to an organization which will not tell me how they've used my money, and, to the point, has a very good chance of using my money in ways which directly contribute to me living as a second-class citizen with my girlfriend.

At the very least, the next time he brings up tithing (which has happened a few times already, I fully expect it to happen again), I really want to have the balls to tell him that doctrinal teachings states tithes come from increase, and that as soon as I have an increase, or surplus, I will be more than happy to donate 10% to a charity of my choosing.

Anyway, all this is exacerbated by the fact that I cannot come out to my parents, either as a lesbian or as an apostate, while my mother is fighting cancer. I just can't do that to her. Now, more than ever, she is relying on her faith to get her through hardship. I can't take that from her, not when there is a decent chance she could die.


So much for a good omen...

So, this whole solstice-eclipse thing. I was real excited for it, and even though I'm not sure where I am on the spectrum of belief, as a child and teenager I was very drawn to paganism (though I didn't call it that at the time). I am currently dating a pagan, who feels a very dear connection to the moon, so an eclipse on a solstice was kind of special.

Well, first of all, I live in the land of tundra and snow, smack dab in the middle of that massive storm that hit the midwest yesterday and today. So, I walk outside at 1:30 in the morning, hoping to get a glimpse of this momentous event, and lo and behold, the sky is covered in a sheet of low-hanging cloud.

Disappointed, I wandered back into the house and went to sleep, cheered up by the knowledge that, if the weather cleared up, I would be greeted by my beloved the next day, as she drove home from her trip to visit her dad.

The weather cleared only slightly. I received a text from her at 7:43, letting me know that she was departing the cities. I rolled over and fell back asleep.

I woke up at 10:40 to a phone call from a strange number. "Hello?" I muttered.

"Hi, lovely," her voice said.

"Oh, hi."

She proceeded to inform me that she had been in a car accident, had rolled her vehicle across the interstate and landed mere feet away from oncoming traffic. Her phone had been lost in the accident, she was okay, but she wouldn't be home.

Now, I am waiting for the train to come in, bringing her with it. I've been alternating between worry and relief all day, knowing how close a shave it was for her, and how her journey isn't over yet.

So much for omens, right?


What Happened Over Thanksgiving

Not much, to be completely honest. My first night home, over dinner, my dad asked me if I was inactive now. I said yes, then completely crapped out and mentioned that I have to work Sundays. this seemed acceptable.

Then, a few days later, I had a private talk with my mom to confirm that they understood that I would not be joining them at the temple. She was understandably sad, having hoped that the whole family could be there, but seemed okay with it.

Later, Aunt Cool came up to me to inform me that my father had been talking about me to her, and said, "Yeah, I mean, she's not going to church, but it's because she has to work to pay bills, not because she doesn't believe."


The REAL fireworks had nothing to do with anything I was worried about. First, let's talk about medical issues.

My mother received a call from her doctor the day before Thanksgiving, letting her know that she had positive results for an aggressive strain of breast cancer. Let me back up: the night my sisters pulled in, they informed me that my dad decided to take out all his stress on my little sister in a phone call a few weeks back, and let slip that my mom had found a lump over the summer, and they were really worried. Then, all week, my dad kept making hints about how he wished he could help us financially, but "there were things we just didn't know about" and "it wasn't his place" to tell us, but "something is going on with your mom." I had myself convinced that she had early-onset Alzheimer's, to be honest, because she had suddenly started drinking tons of green tea and was talking about all the health benefits, many of which are linked to brain health and dementia.

Anyhow, after all this drama, my mom's doctor accidentally called my cell phone by mistake the day before Thanksgiving. My number is only one away from hers, so it is understandable. But the doctor sounded really concerned and stressed that my mom needed to get in touch with the surgeon as soon as possible. I then gave them my mother's cell number and told them that would be the best way to relay information. Later that night, my mom and my aunt pulled us aside and gave us the bad news. Then, my dad came in and tried to steal the limelight a bit, and then he and my sister's husband performed a blessing.

Watching the blessing as an outsider was weird. Dad gave my mom the blessing and, frankly, it wasn't very inspiring. He wanted so desperately to be able to say that she'll be healed, but he couldn't, because he's afraid it might not be true.

Then, Dad received a blessing from Jacob, because he would have to deal with the hardship, too. Jacob was clearly speaking as himself, from his experience with my dad and his feelings toward my sister--he kept repeating that my dad needed to listen to and respect his family and do what is right for them, et cetera, appealing to him to be a better person. My older sister commented on it later, marveling at how inspired Jacob must have been. I just kept thinking that he wasn't inspired, he was just stating the really freaking obvious. And, as usual, my dad is too obtuse to figure it out.

And by this point, I had definitely decided to keep my issues to myself for now, given that my mom has a lot to deal with. We talked about it a bit, right after she told us that she had cancer. After my sisters had gone back out to mingle with family, I stuck around and she asked me if I was all right, to which I replied that I was fine. The conversation that followed basically went by me telling her that we needed to take care of her, and then we could take care of me, and that she shouldn't worry, nothing is wrong, that I am very happy and fulfilled with where my life is going. I then reiterated that we needed to take care of her first, then we'd deal with where I am in life. She told me that if I ever needed anything, I shouldn't not say anything just because of what the family was dealing with right now.

So anyway, that's the bulk of important things that happened to me over the holiday. There was more drama relating to my father--an amusing tale that includes baklava, but I'll have to tell it another time.


Qualities I Want in a Man

Do you remember those lessons you would get in Young Women on how to choose a mate? No, really, I giggled every time they would use the term "mate." Anyway, they would talk and extol qualities the church liked to see in their Priesthood Holders, and usually talk about how we needed to keep our standards high because it is so easy to fall in love and become emotionally invested in things that were bad for you. All of this would generally culminate in an activity where they passed out cute pieces of girly stationary and pens and ask us to make an individual list of qualities we wanted in the man we were to marry.

I wish I could find the list I made. I basically made it out to be everything I had been indoctrinated to believe I wanted, with only a small handful of things that showed my distinctive personality. As far as I can recall, my list looked something like this:

--Eagle Scout
--Good cook
--Shares my sense of humor

A lot of girls put things like, "Good with kids," or, "Like my father." The first one, I didn't really care about so much, because I never wanted kids, and always scoffed when my leaders would look at me knowingly and say, "Just wait. One day you'll want them." Err... okay. Anyhow, what really bothered me was the second thing. Like my father. I wished so badly that I could put that on the list, especially since the lesson usually emphasized that girls usually married men like their fathers, and they would link this to why the church is so great--the church raises great men who honor their priesthood and exercise their patriarchal authority in righteousness. Which always prickled at my cognitive dissonance, because my father was (and still is) a grade-A douche who was prone to yelling, screaming, calling us names, and blaming everything on my mom or sisters. So of course I didn't want to marry a man like him, and it bothered me that everyone else had awesome, loving dads and I got stuck with a rotten egg, whom everyone at church loved.

Anyway, I look at where I am now, and I marvel at how far I've come. I marvel at how well I chose someone for intimacy and companionship, despite my upbringing and indoctrination. See, I've come to realize that a lot of the qualities they used to throw out in Young Women were superficial. They either went to comment on the church aspect--honors his priesthood, return missionary, Eagle Scout, et cetera--or they comment on things like, "Funny." "Artistic." "Good cook."

These things are nice, but they aren't as important to me as others. If I could go back, I would make my list look more like this:

--Intelligent (so, some things stay the same)
--Good communicator
--Good listener
--Knows how to have dialogue without escalating to an argument
--Shows charity
--Tolerant of all walks of life, including race, gender, sexuality, religion, et cetera.
--Shows empathy
--Not afraid to stand up for what he/she believes
--Has personal integrity in all his/her dealings

It's interesting to see how these things morph over time. It's even more interesting how, a matter of just two or three years ago, I proudly proclaimed that I could never marry someone who wasn't involved in theatre, because non-theatre folk just don't get us. At one point in time, I knew for a fact that I couldn't marry anyone who wasn't Republican, because we simply wouldn't get along. Nor would my family approve of such a thing. Once upon a time, I frankly knew that any guy who couldn't cook for me would never get to marry me.

Now, as I look at the wonderful person I've chosen to share my life with, I see that somehow, miraculously, I chose something even better. I chose someone whose fundamental personality makes her a joy to be around. I chose someone who can work with me to communicate and resolve issues before they become fights, effectively making sure that I break the cycle in my family, living in harmony instead of bitterness. I chose someone who has a vested interest in helping all of humanity. I chose someone whose very career--social work--goes to show how deeply charitable, humanitarian, and empathetic she is.

Somehow, I find it all very interesting


Not Dead

So, not that anyone reads this blog, but I'm not dead. The silence over the past three weeks has been largely due to my computer crapping out on me, a pretty new xbox game, and family stress. I will resume posting shortly. If for no other reason that it's cathartic for me.