Archive for May, 2010

Changing Course

May 24, 2010

Several people I love are going through life changes. Or are gearing up to go through some changes. What this means is that circumstance or time has brought them up against the fact that things aren’t working out for them in the way they are currently living. They have all known for quite some time that things are not going the way they want, but they have been too tired, too busy, too depressed or too confused to figure a way out of their current situation. They are not sure of what they really want, but they have decided that their present situation is for sure what they don’t want.

When you are removed a step or two, you can see these things long before they do. But when you love somebody, you don’t push them to do things they are not ready to tackle. You let them talk about things, try to hear what they are really saying, and offer what support you can in their current circumstances. You might (okay I might, cause I can’t seem to help myself) float a few options out there and see how they respond. You might bounce a few alternatives around, or mention something that worked for you once upon a time.

Mostly, a good friend listens, consoles, supports and, in my case, feeds people. Cause when you are in that interim, sort of convalescent stage of getting over one way of life, but not quite ready to pick up on another phase, I strongly believe in hot baths, naps and comfort food.

If you can’t be present to draw the bath or cook the soup, you need to be a cheerleader. You can do that from afar. You remind them that they are in motion. You point out that they are at least moving away from dysfunction, even if they haven’t mapped out the next step. As Mr. GG, a scientist, often reminds me: “Negative data is still data”.

Which I translate to: “If you know what you don’t want, try something different”. Clues are out there, but they are mostly in yourself. If you let yourself, you know what has brought you joy, satisfaction, fulfillment or at least some giggles in the past. Put yourself in those kind of situations again. The thing is, this stuff doesn’t just happen. You have to take an active role. And personal experience has shown me that you can get pretty comatose before you muster up the energy to do something. It is really cool if you can switch gears while you are still moving – it beats the hell out of grinding to a stop and wallowing in inactivity until you are so sick of yourself you will do anything to get going again.

Back before Mr. GG, my modus operandi was to bail out on things. On situations, people, places. When things were not working, I quit. Often I quit before things tanked, because I didn’t want to be the pathetic one clinging to a hopeless romance, job, etc. Mr. GG was the catalyst for my biggest changes. I wanted him, and I wanted what we had together. That meant I had to stay in the trenches and slog along when things got tricky, or dull, or tense. And I’m here to tell you it was hard work. Still is from time to time. But it is worth it for me. Our relationship gave me the framework, and other things fell into place in relation to that framework. But your focal point doesn’t have to be a relationship – it can be a job, or a career, or a place or a passion for just about anything that has meaning to you.

I know people that have switched focus by moving to a new place, by taking up a hobby, making a commitment to their health, or by purging extraneous stuff and people from their lives. I know people who were forced to switch focus by death or finances or ill health. And I know most people are amazingly resilient. So I have faith in the ones who are close to me and moving with a new tide… they are all bright, competent folk who will get things figured out. It is kind of hard waiting in the wings, looking on, while big changes happen, but I am eager to see what is next for them. And when they are not being anxious, I know they are, too. Hey guys, I’m here for you.

Toddler Season: Opening Day

May 21, 2010

Toddler season opened early here in Utah – on Mother’s Day, in fact. Ever since we moved here, I have been appalled and horrified at the number of small children who die because no one was watching them, and they fell into pools, irrigation ditches, off roofs, into rivers, and most commonly, they were killed because relatives in vans backed over them. I am not kidding. Google this.

This is the reason that Utah is the largest market for vans with cameras that show where you are backing up. Every year several children die because someone backed over them. THEY EVEN MAKE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMERCIALS ABOUT THIS!!!!!

Anyway the years’ first toddler got run over by her mother, who was parking her van on the grass in front of an apartment building so her radio could blast music for a party. This story was eclipsed by the murder of a 4 year old by his mom and stepdad. A lot of kids are killed in Utah. An awful lot.

Every year some are lost to snowmobile and ATV accidents. And then parents write obituaries saying the 6 year old lived to ride his ATV. You and I may ask what kind of nimrod puts an unsupervised 6 year old on an ATV, but here in Utah it is pretty normal. More kids are lost when they fall into rivers or irrigation ditches – you gotta wonder where the parents are, when babies are teetering on the edge of riverbanks – what is the family even doing there in flood season? But every spring, toddlers are lost in swollen rivers. And every summer little kids crawl under fences to get to irrigation ditches, even though those fences are posted and parents are continually barraged by PSA’s saying “Don’t let your kid play near the ditches!”

A notable death happened a couple of summers ago, when a toddler fell off the roof of a front porch. Several kids in one family crawled out on the roof to play, and the littlest toppled over the edge. Their teenage brother was supposed to be watching his siblings – because both the parents were in jail. For drug abuse, I think.

They cook kids, too. Leave ‘em in cars in the summer heat. One young mother forgot her baby when she went to a church meeting at someone’s house and came out to find a comatose infant. I guess it could have been postpartum depression, but what is so important about a church meeting, that makes you forget you have a newborn, AND IT IS IN YOUR CAR?

Well, an obvious observation is that people in Utah have huge families. And they get married young. Babies having babies. Those among us prone to black humor, say, well, if they lose one, they just make more. But every time I hear about another child dying because of stupid decisions, neglect or inattentiveness, I go into a raging fury. I don’t care what kind of afterlife you believe in, I sincerely hope your religious beliefs do not comfort you for being a horrible parent.

If you have little ones around, give them a few extra hugs. We all need to protect and nurture our babies, give them a chance to someday nurture their own kids. As I have mentioned, Utah is a beautiful place to live, but this casual approach to procreating is one of the things I loathe about its’ population. Anyway, since toddler season opened early, I expect it is gonna be a really long summer.

Love is In the Air

May 20, 2010

31 years ago yesterday, Mr. GG and I stood in a small, light filled chapel on the edge of a mesa in Durango, Colorado and got married. It was a beautiful spring day. Cherry trees were blooming outside the floor to ceiling windows and we stood up in front of a small group of our family and friends while Greensleeves played, and we exchanged vows we had written ourselves. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember what we said in those vows (hey, it’s been 31 years, and a few other things have been on my mind since then). I am sure we promised to be faithful and honest and to stick together, and weather whatever might come in the future. And so we have.

I wore a cream voile Gunne Sax dress that cost about $83.00 and flowers in my hair, and Mr. GG wore the suit he had purchased for his sister’s wedding a couple of years before. One of our friends was in charge of taking pictures, and we all went to the historic Strater Hotel and had a wedding brunch. The wedding cake lady screwed up, and put some ugly little cherubs on the cake, but other than that, things went swell. A lot of people showed up, including some friends of Mr. GG’s, who came in overalls and t-shirts. Well, they lived in a tipi, out in the woods, but still….. After the wedding brunch, a bunch of Mr. GG’s cousins and relatives came to our rental house behind the bar, and helped him change out the gas tank in my little blue TR250A convertible, because that was the car we were taking on the honeymoon. Then all the younger folk went out to the photographer/friends ranch and had a couple of kegs, and 18 giant pizza’s I went downtown to pick up, and we partied the night away. I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all.

On our honeymoon, Mr. GG took me to Idaho and we went to Dismal Swamp with friends of his – and their 2 kids, and 2 large dogs, and they fed us cold turkeyburger sandwiches with ketchup. I found a pay phone, called my best friend and cried. It was the turkeyburger that did it… really gross. But after that we went to Paradise Hot Springs (it was), and Flaming Gorge park (where the little convertible broke down in a spring snowstorm). Oh yeah, and we’d had a small electrical fire in the car at Newspaper Rock in Utah, but hey, life is an adventure, right?

We returned home and went back to work, being seasonal employees for the Forest Service. We spent the money we got for wedding presents on a 35 mm camera, a Brunton Compass, an oak dresser and the honeymoon.

Yesterday, Mr. GG surprised me by taking the day off work, so we drove up to Lava Hot Springs in Idaho, a spot we had visited on our honeymoon. They no longer have the little private rooms with pools, but we soaked in the large pools, and then we went on a scenic drive to Ft. Hall, and we also drove by the Pocatello house we used to live in 27 years ago – boy was it small.

We reflected on things a bit – after all, we have been together over half of our lifetimes. But mostly we just did what we always do – talked, laughed, noticed our surroundings and enjoyed being together in a low key way. I swear to god, it has been our ability to laugh at ourselves that has held us together for 31 years. That, and Mr. GG’s optimism, which nicely compliments my more nervous and anxious nature. Oh yeah – and we love each other. That love has changed, evolved, mutated and morphed over the years, but it is always there. I guess you can’t promise to “be” in love forever, cause that feeling comes and goes, but you can promise to be there, to “be” loving, and to talk and hug through the hard times. We did, we do, and we will. And 31 years down the road? Marrying Mr. GG was the smartest thing I ever did.

Living With Mormons

May 12, 2010

Disclaimer: This is SO not politically correct. It puts my bleeding heart liberal claims to shame. It proves that I am biased and bigoted. Well, guess what? I am.

When I was growing up, one of my aunts (by marriage) had a Mormon sister. This woman was often discussed in hushed tones at family gatherings. Of course, my mother married into Catholicism, so we were probably discussed in hushed tones at other family gatherings. Cause the rest of the folks were good old Midwestern Christians.

So until Mr. GG and I moved to Idaho, my Mormon experience was limited to one trip to Nauvoo. And at that time, all I was interested in was geodes, which supposedly were plentiful along that stretch of the Mississippi River. You couldn’t prove it by me. In Idaho there are lots of Mormons. But we mostly lived in Boise, so they didn’t really affect me, except for the daily religious meetings at the Baby’s junior high school. That irked me. But not enough to complain to the ACLU.

But when we moved to Utah, well, “Oh My Heck”, as they are wont to say here. Yep, they say that. Instead of Hell, or Shit or Dammit, which are bad, bad words. I don’t know how Mormons manage to watch prime time TV. Maybe they make special Mormon filters which black out the naughty bits. Oh My Heck! I just remembered. A few years ago, someone actually did edit all the movies in his Mormon video rental store. So much for the sanctity of intellectual property. Someone else sued him. I think it was moviemakers, and they won. Take that Mormons. Robert Redford lives in Utah. You don’t mess with the Sundance Kid.

So, Utah is beautiful. It is a gorgeous geological sonnet with mountains and red rock parks, and salt flats, and lots of forest, snow and sage desert. But these people don’t care. They are pro development, anti environment.

If you are going to continue reading, you are going to have to make some sort of peace with my generalizing. I do it. I do it in reverse. I make generalizations that contradict my previous generalizations.

So, there may well be one Mormon in Utah who also belongs to the Sierra club, but I haven’t met him. Technically Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Actually (okay, okay, in MY opinion) they are a bunch of inbred, patriarchal, closeminded religious nuts who have more money than God. Okay, reality check. I was raised Roman Catholic. The Pope actually has more money than God. But that’s because God let him have it. (And if God is on the ball, He should be taking it all away, because this whole molesting kids mess? If I were still Catholic, I would be at the front of the mob with the torches and lynching gear).

Mormons get their money from tithing, and they spend it building temples and making their kids go on missions in really unfashionable black suits, to convert other people to Mormonism, so they can tithe and continue the process. They also spend a lot of money so everyone has a years worth of food stored up in their basement. Our house came with a special cement room for this purpose. We store my daughter’s American Girl dolls and old cassette tapes in it. And I am grateful that I only have the storage room. Because every other house we looked at had a mother-in-law apartment and eleventy seven bedrooms in the basement. I can’t even keep one kitchen clean. What was I gonna do with two?

Mormons live to convert you. They invite you to all sorts of meetings at their wards and stake houses, and they don’t give up until you get ugly with them. Then you no longer exist. And they don’t drink coffee. Or wine. There is a loophole about cold caffeine, though. I think Mormons are heavily invested in Pepsico, so they are allowed to drink Pepsi. I think. I don’t let actual research cloud my predisposition to scoff, because when I do, the reality is much more awful, and makes me curl up and whimper.

Utah is a Really Red state. Really. Red. I was raised to vote. My vote is futile in Utah. The only reason I do, is to counteract someone elses’ vote. Every election I decide which person who has offended me at the grocery store, in the Legislature, on the News, will get his or her vote cancelled because of me.

Okay, I am not making my point. Here’s a short list:

*Mormons consume the most jello in any state in the US.
*Vans with back up cameras sell out here, because so many people back over their own toddlers each year. I am not kidding!
*Mormons wear modesty garments which are ugly white underwear thingies that show under your wedding gown. Or if you are a man, under your sheer, nylon, short-sleeved shirt. Bare shoulders are a Mormon no-no. I once tried to get a Mormon to donate a garment to our Museum as an example of social mores and the Bishop put the kibosh on that in no uncertain terms.
*2 guys got arrested in Salt Lake City last year for kissing as they crossed the Mormon grounds. Late at night. No kids around. Just some outraged security guards.
*A teacher got fired here for wearing a sleeveless top and carrying a cup of coffee to school one morning. It was a workshop day. No children on the premises. But she had signed a contract saying she wouldn’t do that. Still.

Gosh, I am going to have to make this “Living with Mormons, Part 1”, because I am too depressed to continue. Maybe next time I will dwell on something that makes me happy. Like homemade eggrolls, vintage fashion, Mr. GG. Leaving the computer now as Utah Survival Mode kicks in. Later.