Monday, January 31, 2005 

No I’m a Faulconer

When I was in Kindergarten a boy asked me if I was Mormon, I said no I am a Faulconer. I wish I still answered the question like this; in fact maybe I should start because it would make life a lot easier.

Now when people ask me if I am Mormon I say I am, but I haven’t always. If you think about it this isn’t an easy question to answer. I was baptized when I was eight and have been raised Mormon, this makes me Mormon. I don’t practice the religion or believe, so what does this make me? A non-practicing Mormon? Or not Mormon? I don’t want to deny being Mormon because I don’t have a problem with the church, or people knowing that I have grown up Mormon. Deep down I feel that denying I am Mormon is somehow denying the love I feel towards my parents, siblings, family and all of the wonderful Mormon people through out my life that have taught me and raised me to be a good person. I don’t want to deny their contribution to my successes in life and by claiming to be a Mormon I am able to incorporate all of them in who I am.

When I was 21, maybe 22, I was dating a guy who worked as a bartender for a restaurant in Orem, Utah. At one point my mom heard, through a series of people, “so and so told so and so that so and so heard that your daughter’s boyfriend tells people he isn’t Mormon.” This upset my mom, hurt her feelings, and so she asked me about it. “Why would your boyfriend claim he isn’t Mormon?” Well, after the trail of people that provided the information who even knows if he truly said this or not? But quite possible he did. At first I couldn’t answer her, one, I am not him so how should I know and two, I understood the difficulty of a question like this especially when you are surrounded by good practicing Mormons. If I am eating dinner and having a glass of wine and someone asks me if I am Mormon and I say yes, this looks bad. Does drinking a glass of wine make me a bad person? No it doesn’t, but it does make me a bad Mormon. I don’t enjoy starting conversations off with, “Hi my name is Rebecca I am Mormon, but I am a bad Mormon, but a good person…” It is quite a mouthful of a hello. Yet, this is the hello I provide every time I meet someone new. They ask me where I am from, I say Utah, they say Salt Lake, I say Provo, and they say Mormon?

When I was first struggling with my lack of belief in the Mormon Church I always answered that I wasn’t Mormon. It was easy because I didn’t have to explain why I was Mormon and wasn’t practicing, something I really hadn’t figured out for myself yet. But it always bothered me that the answer would hurt my parent’s feelings. That if so and so told so and so that so and so heard so and so ask me if I was Mormon and I answered no the so and so’s would let my parents know and they would think I was denying who I was, like saying I wasn’t a Faulconer. It is funny, though, because once I figured out how I felt about the Mormon Church, about god, about religion I began saying that I was Mormon again even though I was the furthest away from being a Mormon then I had ever been.

In the end, what is the answer? What is the right thing to do? What does a good Mormon think about me saying I am Mormon and then behaving like I am not? Is this fair? Would you prefer that I said I was not Mormon? I’d honestly like to know.

Sunday, January 30, 2005 

“Holden” to your Horses!

So, Catcher in the Rye was really all about female suppression in communist China…wasn’t it? I can’t believe none of you GOT that! But, really… everything worth saying about this classic has been said, right?

As today’s guest blogger, and as someone who has read every “jot and tittle” written about Catcher in the Rye this week…I thought a re-cap (with a purpose) would be in order. Besides…who doesn’t love reading what they have written? I promise…there IS a point.

“Of course (Jerry) writes for himself, we all write for ourselves, but I believe he stopped writing for the same reason that he started writing… to gain notoriety.”

-Rebecca

“At last I understood. I understood what I missed before because of the last two lines in the book. ‘Don’t tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.’… I know what it is like to miss people so much it can drive you crazy, because somehow, in some cosmic way they own a part of you.”

-Sarah Marinara

“I don’t get literary symbolism… What I think is that the way Holden feels about other people is the way he really feels about himself…” (And Kaycee thought she didn’t “get” symbolism…)

-Kaycee

“Holden just can’t take it anymore… His imagery of catching all the children (in the rye) so they didn’t get hurt or lost is very touching. In my opinion, that’s what kept him going…That vision, if you will, saw him through. Maybe that’s Salinger’s image of hope.”

-JP

“So I hated Catcher in the Rye…Maybe (Holden) was just a spoiled brat. Maybe he was not held to a high enough standard…I hated it, but I feel that old JD succeeded as an author. He evoked some kind of emotion.”

-Cameron

“I just want to give the “phonies” a chance to be understood today… While Holden disparages the traits of the “phonies” he himself is literally running around town lying, charming, and manipulating… he sees younger children as innocent and ‘real’… youth angst… They are stuck in the middle; betrayed by both worlds… Holden is a peacemaker at heart… Next time I see him, I’m just going to say “hi” and see where it goes from there…”

-Carrie Ann

What more could I say?

This is the first time I’ve read Catcher. If someone were to ask the inevitable question, “So, did you like the book?” this is what I would answer. There is a reason this book is a “classic”, and it’s not because it’s a joy to read. It’s depressing and mostly sad, and the teenage boy first-person narrative often digresses for pages and pages, leaving you wondering where it could possibly take you of significance. The point is…it doesn’t. Therein lies the genius of JD Salinger’s writing. The ramblings of Holden and his misadventures takes us inside the world that most of us could never otherwise understand.

If I could have one super-power it would be the ability to think and feel inside someone else’s heart and mind. This is why I love to read. And this is why I like this book. In my life I’ve been promised that I’ve been blessed with a deep feeling and sensitivity for others. But most of the time I don’t feel like I do. I wish I could do away with all misunderstandings and hurt feelings in the world. How many people have true intentions to do others harm? With the exception of the obvious perpetrators: probably not as many as we think. If we did away with pretenses and misunderstandings, how different would our lives be? How much more understanding, tolerance and empathy would we have?

I love conversation, but novels and blogging are better for the reasons I just mentioned. Writing is a medium where we, just like Holden, can be heard and understood as we truly are. That is, if we allow ourselves…AND if someone is reading. That’s why we all love to get receive numerous comments in our blogs . “Someone IS out there who understands me, right?”

Holden (all of the “Holdens” out there), I hear you! As irritating, irrational, or mentally ill as you may be…I am trying to understand you! Until I get my superhero power…I’m giving it my best shot.

And as I’ve pulled quotes from the contributors of VSoM…I think they demonstrate that everyone here has tried to do the same. We’re on our way to world peace.

(Or is it “whirled peas”?)



Posted by Guest Blogger: Suzie Petunia from "Suzie's Petunias"


Saturday, January 29, 2005 

The Phonies Get Their Day in the Sun

Being the Saturday writer presents some difficulties which make my “job” more interesting. I have to watch the topic be covered beautifully and thoroughly by writers and commentators alike for 5 whole days, and I still have to have something to contribute…

All week we have held Holden in a forgiving, understanding light. It appears that many, many of us can relate to his anguish. And to be fair, Holden went through some crap, and I don’t think any of us “blame” him for breaking down, so to speak.

However, we have also briefly discussed the idea of accountability, the idea that Holden is responsible for his behavior even while he is in pain; this is not intended to become a moral discussion according to, say, my set of beliefs. But I just want to give the “phonies” a chance to be understood today.

This book has been interpreted at times as the “real” against the “fake.” Holden’s manic, painful, insecure, confused, but above all, totally honest take on everything is contrasted with his OWN view of “others”, the “phonies” as he calls them. These are people whom Holden sees as being fake, insincere, and selfish. An ironic conclusion don’t you think?

While Holden disparages the traits of the “phonies” he himself is literally running around town lying, charming, and manipulating the strangers and friends that pop in and out of his life over the course of these few days.

Holden doesn’t see everyone as a phony, and this is the essence of his argument against them; he sees younger children as innocent and “real”, almost incapable of deceit, while most adults and some of his peers he sees as fakers in a kind of adult world veneer. Everything seems fine and dandy on the outside, but he suspects turmoil, or a lie of sorts, on the inside.

Or rather, perhaps he suspects that deep down inside people feel like he does, but that they pretend, posture, or fake “normality” or maturity. One might sometimes suspect that Holden is trying to provoke his companions into “confessing” their own confusion and rage.

I am not trying to minimize Holden’s pain, or merely trivialize it as common youth angst, but for just a moment, let’s look at it like that: youth angst. This is not an unusual symptom amongst young people, male or female, who are definitely not children, but who are not yet adults. They have been somewhat let down by the adult world, but they cannot return to childhood. They are stuck in the middle; betrayed by both worlds.

Interestingly, as shocking as Holden’s language, behavior, and attitudes were back then, his world was a rather innocent one. A teenager on a downward spiral today would have a lot more access to much more insidious methods of escape: acceptance in a gang, harder drugs, more available sex, perhaps an introduction to crime… who knows. I want to briefly place Holden into modern day to see if we can relate to him now.

Who would Holden be today? How would he dress? Who would be his target? In his story, Holden targets the young people who don’t seem to see or mind the inconsistencies of the adult world, the people who know how to “play the game” (i.e. Stradlater and Sally Hayes).

These people are generally admired, and do what it takes to be admired. Holden is equally in between the “jocks” and the “outcasts”. He is friends with both (think of how he tries to bridge Ackley and Stradlater at first), but he is also nowhere in the social strata of high school. He is a loner. He has had friends, but he lets their minor faults and inconsistencies “bug” him into solitude. And yet he “showboats” for the attentions of both groups. Holden is a peacemaker at heart.

When I read the book this time around, I felt for Stradlater…I felt for Sally. I saw them as young people who had put childhood behind them (Stradlater by losing his virginity and helping others lose theirs, and Sally by immersing herself in things she perceived as being socially rich; the theater, knowing important people, getting married…). I don’t think these young people thought they were doing anything wrong or fake or harmful. They were trying to get by, just like Holden, and Holden judges them harshly, and ends up rejecting them.

I’m not saying feel sorry for Sally, by all means, feel for Holden. Sally is going to be OK, we hope that Holden will, because we have all known the modern Holden. We hung out with him at play practice. We went on scout campouts with him. He was the guy at the dance who came alone anyway, and stood by the wall with his arms crossed. You wanted to talk to him sometimes; you just didn’t know what to say. Next time I see him, I’m just going to say “hi” and see where it goes from there…

Friday, January 28, 2005 

My Turn?

So I hated Catcher in the Rye. I hated everything about the book. I have read it 4 or 5 times in my life and this time, I just hated it. I got sick of hearing Holden call everyone phonies, I got sick of his say, someone did this “They really did”. I hated reading a book that was written as a teenage would speak. I liked Kaycees blog about not getting the symbolism, because I just did not get it, never have, and never want to.
After all that’s been said about Holden, I would like to make another theory about him. Maybe he was just a spoiled brat. Maybe he was not held to a high enough standard. Maybe his parents were a lot of surface parenting, but when it came down to it, they sucked as parents. I look at Holden and I see a kid with a horrible attitude towards life and people. He spends so much time talking about phonies, yet I think he was the biggest phonie in the book. I think old Phoebe was the only one that he was completely true with, and even then he tried to hide some things from her. I really think that he caused most of his problems by his bad attitude. He had several teachers willing to help him, he had friends that liked him, and he had girls that were interested in him, and yet he still seemed to alienate himself a lot, if only in his head. There has been a lot said this week about this book, and I think some of the comments from yesterdays blog could be restated here, but that would waste everyone’s time, and come on, its Friday.

Having said all this I can now say it was a great book. I hated it, but I feel that old JD succeeded as an author. He envoked some kind of emotion. In me and in pretty much everyone who hass posted or commmented.


Thursday, January 27, 2005 

I Committed to a Book Club...and I Actually Finished the Book

I finished Catcher in the Rye a couple of weeks ago and am so glad that Rebecca forced me to read it! Okay, so she really didn’t…but dang, she totally started it all. For some reason, I totally escaped high school without reading so many of these classics that I really should have read. So while our little forum started with so many ideas and thoughts and goals, I’m excited that this book club was part of it. I’m just tickled pink.

I enjoyed this book and it is actually hard for me to explain why. What I’m going to tell you, though, is that this book brought some very hard feelings to face. And I’m not sure that ya’ll are going to like what I’m about to write. But then I remembered that I’m not writing for you to like it…I’m writing for you to know my opinion.

It makes me so incredibly sad when anyone feels like there is no way out. In the book, Holden just can’t take it anymore. He’s tired of pretty much every aspect of his life. I think much of that started when his little brother passed away. I just can’t imagine. In a lot of ways, Holden has given up. He’s “forced” to go to these schools full of “phonies” and people who ultimately make his life miserable. But he lets them do this…he let’s those people get to him. He just doesn’t know how to deal with much of what’s thrown at him…so he gives up or he fails all his classes except English…or he gets kicked out so many schools…or he gets in fights….or he leaves and hangs out in the city so he doesn’t have to go home to his parents and see the disappointment on their face. It makes me sad that he has to go through so much because he doesn’t feel like he has other options.

Much like Ian.

Ian grew up down the street from where my parents live and where I grew up. I remember when Ian and his family first moved in and I even remember babysitting for Ian and his brother several times. What I also remember are the problems Ian had. Let’s be honest, Ian had many issues and there were several challenges (chemically, emotionally, etc.) that he faced daily. Deep down (really deep down) you knew that Ian was a good kid…you just were never able to see this because all you saw were the terrible outbursts or fits…the trouble that he got in…and the hell he gave his parents, teachers and babysitters.

One day, Ian became tired of disappointed his parents. He couldn’t take the pain and consequences that came with the choices that he made. I honestly don’t think he was capable of processing these emotions, decisions and being accountable. (Holden and Ian seem to have MANY similarities in this way.) This young man who was always perceived as a demon, the bad kid…the trouble maker was just (I believe) a very scared “little boy” who could never process things the way many of us can. So when his mom left for Back to School Night, Ian knew that she was going to learn of all his failed and cut classes and just couldn’t take it. He just couldn’t hurt his mom anymore. Ian took his own life that night because he just didn’t think he had any other options. He couldn’t see anyway out. He was only 15 years old.

Holden Caulfield somehow made it through his battles. Somehow, he was able to pull through and find the light at the end of the tunnel. In this story, he made it through. It’s weird when you feel so much for a character in a book. It’s weird when you almost feel proud of Holden…or relieved that he made it through, at least to this point. It’s weird that you appreciate his sweetness for children. He thought that children shouldn’t have to see the ugliness that taints us a bit when we get older. His imagery of catching all the children (in the rye) so they didn’t get hurt or lost is very touching. In my opinion, that’s what kept him going. It’s what kept him pushing on. That vision, if you will, saw him through. Maybe that’s Salinger’s image of hope.

Maybe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005 

I don't get it...

I don’t get literary symbolism. I don’t get beyond the story. My friend, who is a high school English teacher, was very surprised when I told her this. She thought I’d get MORE of the symbolism because I knew the Bible. I don’t.

I know that there’s something about Catcher in the Rye that I’m supposed to get. I know that there’s something about it that makes it a good focal point for the movie Conspiracy Theory (which taught me that presidential assassins like it). I just don’t get it.

All I see is the story.

Holden’s reactions to things are what interest me the most. As I see it, he’s got a few emotions that surface repeatedly. There’s disgust. There’s pity. There’s admiration.

He is disgusted by the “phonies.” He disgusted by morons. He was often disgusted by himself, as well, though. Maybe he thought that he was a phony some of the time. I think he was. He pretended to like people he didn’t really like just to avoid loneliness, after all. He faked being older to impress the ladies. I think that he tried to fool himself, most of the time, into thinking that he wasn’t exactly like the people that he was disgusted by.

There is so much in the story that deserves pity, but Holden pretty much monopolizes it for other people. The way he talks down about almost everyone and about how sad they make him indicates that we ought to be feeling quite that sorry for the poor guy who can’t figure things out.

He does admire people, though. He admires the hell out of them… until they do something that makes him lose faith in them. Everyone that he speaks well of, he ultimately speaks poorly of.

What I think is that the way Holden feels about other people is the way he really feels about himself. I think this is true for a lot of people. The people who love other people outwardly and openly love themselves, too. The junior high kids I deal with constantly disparage others because they feel terrible about themselves.

Maybe this is only true of the immature. Maybe it is only true for some people. Maybe it isn’t true at all.

What do I know… I don’t get symbolism.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 

I’m Sorry, Baby, But This Is Just Who I Am

I really enjoyed reading “Catcher in the Rye” this time around. I had read it once before about 5 years ago and, while I thought it was well written, I just couldn’t understand Holden. I remember thinking if I had read the book when I was 15 or 16 it would have been more important to me. I remember feeling too old to really get it. How wrong I was. In truth, I wasn’t old enough.

This time through was interesting for me because it was coupled with wading through a rather deep depression. Honestly, what better time to read “Catcher in the Rye” then when you can’t pull your ass out of bed because you feel like your soul will break if you do? There is NO better time my friends, none at all. So as I lay in bed this weekend (pretty much the ONLY thing I did this weekend) and finished off the last of a book that has shaped so many I think I finally understood it. There in the dark of my room with only my little bedside lamp giving off light, the essence of this novel finally hit me. At last I understood. I understood what I missed before because of the last two lines in the book.

“Don’t tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

Those two lines… those eleven words got me out of bed and into Jilly’s room. “Listen to this!” I said through her open door. I read her the lines. “Isn’t that just… just … AMAZING?” She smiled at me, and then in her all-knowing way said, “Yes. That is amazing. It is amazing because it sounds just like something you would say.” I smiled right back at her because, as is most often the case, Jilly was right. It DID sound just like something I would say. And at long last, I felt like I understood Holden. I understood why so many people gravitated to him. In those two little lines I was finally able to grasp a generation’s obsession with a book I had never given a second thought because I know how he felt. I know what it is like to miss people so much it can drive you crazy, because somehow, in some cosmic way they own a part of you. I know what it is like to let someone know you, really know you, and then have them leave. I know what it is like to wish you had never shared the parts of you that you shared. I know what Holden felt like. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, January 24, 2005 

Famous Jerry

I could sit here and summarize the book for you, tell you how Holden is in a psychiatric unit retelling the story of his last year, his story of being kicked out of Pency Prep, one of the many schools he has been kicked out of. Our I could discuss the different glaring themes in the book; loneliness, fear of change, alienation, fear of becoming an adult, the phoniness in the grown up world, Holden wanting to be the protector of the youth - saving the young from losing their innocence’s and turning into one of the others… one of the “phony’s”. I could discuss the reference to the catcher in the rye and how Holden actually gets the lyrics of the song wrong and what this error really tells us about our dear simplistic Holden. But I really don’t want to… I figure we will be doing this for the next six days and then I will be doing it again with another group entirely Thursday night at my other book club where we are discussing, yup that’s right, Catcher in the Rye.

So onto the topic that really fascinates me: the author of the book, Jerome David Salinger, and why he no longer publishes and has become a hermit.

Jerome David Salinger was born in 1919 to a half Jewish, half Irish Catholic New York family that was in the meat and cheese business. He wrote many pieces, but supposedly the two that provide the most incite into who J.D. Salinger, prefers to go by Jerry, is are Catcher in the Rye and Bananafish. After Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 it gained mass notoriety which drove J.D. Salinger into hiding and then he stopped publishing all together. He stated that “publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.” (The New York Times, 1974). I don’t believe this statement, possibly because I don’t understand it. Of course he writes for himself, we all write for ourselves, but I believe he stopped writing for the same reason that he started writing… to gain notoriety. Once he discovered how talented he was, how approving the general public was of his work he had to do something different. But could it be another book? Most likely not because another book would never gain the attention that Catcher in the Rye did, but everyone would expect that it should. The only place he could possibly go from Catcher in the Rye was down, unless of course he never publishes again. But he can’t stop writing because it is what he does, what he likes, what he loves. So he decides to drop of the face of the earth (some where in New Hampshire) and continue to write, but never to publish. He has always promised that his works can be published once he is dead, once his work can’t be criticized. Of course, this is all merely my opinion. But I truly believe that J.D. Salinger stopped publishing, not for his own pleasure like he claims, but in an effort to remain famous.

Sunday, January 23, 2005 

I Was Never Really Into Scouts

I was never really into scouts …



OK, so that was a lie. I was very much into scouts until I was about 15. For this post, I looked all over for the picture of me in my full Boy Scout uniform (that’s not the whole thing, you ask?). The full uniform included a Smokey the Bear style hat (or optional beret) and a walking stick with feathers and beads. It was a sight to see.

In fact, I was so into scouts that I quit participating in my ward’s troop and joined a non-denominational troop. Don’t get me wrong, my ward’s troop was fine. Cameron was a member of that troop and he has memories of camping. But when I was participating it felt like all we did was play basketball and I really wasn’t that good at basketball. I felt like a real outsider in my ward when I was a young teen.

I remember one particularly trying evening at Young Mens / Scouts. I don’t remember what made it a hard night, but I do remember the drive home with the Scoutmaster. He was telling me to buck up. He told me, “Listen. My name is Lucius Levier G. You don’t think I got picked on? You will continue to be picked on, but you need to figure out how to deal with it.” That was some great advice.

My non-denominational troop was everything I wanted in scouts. We went on a camp once a month; we had leaders who made us earn our merit badges and came prepared to troop meetings. We also went to really cool Scout Camps. One year we went to Treasure Mountain, a camp at the base of the Grand Tetons. It rained and rained and rained, but we loved it. I had signed up to earn the Wilderness Survival merit badge and one of the requirements was that we spend the night in a lean-to that we built ourselves.

The merit badge counselor asked us to meet at a certain time and place to go on our camp and despite the fact that the rain was coming down in sheets, I was at the specified location at the specified time. The counselor and the rest of the scouts were not. This was not going to deter me, however. I built a poor lean-to at the foot of a hill and made my camp. I didn’t get ten minutes of sleep that night because rather than build a quality lean-to, I had essentially built a funnel. It was as if I were sleeping in a stream.

Until I wrote this, I never made a connection to another interesting scouting experience I had with my non-denominational troop. We signed up for the 50/20 (fifty miles in twenty hours). We all met at the This is the Place monument in Salt Lake City and we were supposed to hike to the Boy Scout Office in Provo. Somehow I was separated from my group, and as a result I was separated from my food and water. Sadly, I was convinced my group was ahead of me when, in fact, they were behind.

Keep in mind that I was only twelve, so my reasoning skills were not fully developed. At about mile forty, I was so dehydrated I started hallucinating. I saw talking chipmunks who kept urging me to stop walking and take a rest. Then I started to see chairs. I finally made it to a gas station on the corner of Center and State in Orem and I went into the bathroom. As soon as I sat down I looked up and saw a chair coming through the wall at me. I couldn’t take it anymore so I called my mom.

Writing this post has helped me see a pattern to my behavior. I was so driven to finish the 50/20 and so determined to get the Wilderness Survival merit badge that I made some pretty bad choices. I wonder if that was one of the reasons I never did much in Scouting after I earned my Eagle (at age 14). Either way, I look back at those experiences with fondness. My scout troop provided me with a lot of confidence during an awkward stage and I think I learned some good skills. And once we went to the Hogle Zoo and saw the Liger.


Posted by Guest Blogger: Christian from "Just Off the Top of My Head"


Saturday, January 22, 2005 

Girl's Camp: It's a Love Hate Thing

1987: Beehive 1st year camper – We were at a Boy Scout camp in Missouri. Tents…daddy-long-legs… My sister Amy was a 4th year, and was already the epitome of COOL. I hung out with her friends and felt like I was the bomb because I got TONS of older-girl attention. Highlights: popping popcorn on the black top using a sterno…watching the F-16s mock dog-fight while on the hike…hot boy scout life guards…swimming the mile (felt AWESOME, have yet to feel such endorphins again…)…meeting other girls from the stake for the first time, all-night conversations with 10 girls crammed into one tent. Lowlights: worrying about looking good at girl’s camp (yes I was one of those, but only this one time)…being involved in contraband radio playing involving “I Want Your Sex”… (older girls are so cool and rebellious)… one girl’s house burning down to the ground so she had to go home…

1988: Beehive 2nd year camper – Had to be at a camp with cabins; still in Missouri…it was weird. Our family was moving in a week, so I was a little preoccupied, and my best friend was acting weird (like she didn’t care that much that I was moving and she was using girls camp to find a new friend right before my eyes). Don’t remember much except for going swimming and seeing a leader get out of the pool right in front of me with “personal” hair down to her knees. I dry heaved involuntarily. I had no idea such things could be! Sorry that is a gross image, but it has stuck with me. Thank goodness for the invention of board shorts!

1989: Mia Maid 3rd year camper: New Jersey. New ward. New stake. Kind of a cool camp with quasi cabins. DID NOT WANT TO BE THERE. Wrote scathing letters home to Mom telling her how unfair it was to be here when younger sister was having a birthday and (idolized) older sister was leaving for college. Mom was there for part of the time which I loved. One younger sister there with me… was that the year she was my secret sister? If so, she painted a face on a piece of wood that touched my heart and I’ve kept all these years… Highlights: the white captains hat I wore the entire week…meeting some cool girls in the stake…cooking chocolate cake in dug-out oranges. Lowlights: condoms on the ground…this WAS New Jersey, after all.

1990: Mia Maid 4th year camper: Massachusetts. New ward. New stake. Got to go on the coolest overnight hike/camp trip eva! We went up to New Hampshire to this gorgeous lake and hiked out onto and island. Well, we took a boat to the island AFTER we hiked. Incredible. Highlights: Met some great girls. Jumped off a cliff into a FREEZING lake. Lowlights: Going number 2 outside in between two rocks. Camp itself was awesome. We had an amazing group of girls…no drama, no tears, lots of fun, lots of singing, great testimony meeting.

1991-1993: Junior counselor 2 years: Massachusetts. Highlights: getting to know girls in the stake and their younger sisters, being at camp with MY younger sisters and my mom, being thought of as inspirational, teaching lashing, again those yummy orange chocolate cupcake things… Lowlights: Hurricane Bob destroyed the camp ground one year, so they sent us to a RV Kampground that was next to a landfill. Big Stink and 1 million sea gulls…! Last year of girl’s camp I had to work.

Girl’s Camp (GC) is a great thing. I love camping in general. I loved that they attempt to teach outdoor skill to the pampered and spoiled. I loved playing with fire. I loved singing the songs in 9 part harmony, of course. I loved performing flashlight “water dances” from the dock. I loved skittery little first years. I loved that in my groups, we never had drama or popularity contests. I loved the adult leaders trying to be funny in skits.

But I disliked the anxiety I felt over going. I disliked worrying about forgetting something. I disliked the bathrooms and being constipated all week. I disliked crowds. I disliked the hikes for some reason, even though I like to hike. I can’t explain it, but they made me SO nervous! I think it is because I read a lot of Holocaust literature and they reminded me of forced death marches. Irrational, I know, because I like hiking in general. I disliked it when other groups didn’t get along. I disliked feeling hungry.

While being a young woman’s leader as an adult, I have avoided camp TWICE. That’s pretty rotten of me, I’ll agree, but I don’t know if I could handle the young female drama. I never experienced it myself at camp, I just know it exists and I have little patience for it. I also dislike sleeping really close to other people, breathing their air… Give me a tent… Although, I have always wanted to have cornrows… Writing this, and reading about this all week makes me want to go to girl’s camp, but each summer when the time rolls around…I’m nervous again.

I know that girl’s camp is a great opportunity for some girls to get out of their bad environments. It is honestly therapeutic for some people to be out in nature, and to be constantly reminded of things of a spiritual nature. Morning devotionals, testimony meetings, spiritual thoughts, singing in the trees, learning mad outdoor skills, etc… I think it makes an impact on some girls. I was so shocked to find out that Boy Scout camp was WAY different. Lots of urinating on people and things… But my “testimony” of camp has been renewed this week reading about everyone’s great experiences. That’s all I got…


Friday, January 21, 2005 

Boys Scout Camp, was it a waste of time?

So this is the fourth time I have started this entry, I hate to say it, but from a guys perspective its not that interesting of a topic. For the girls camp is a once a year deal, with months of planning and hundreds of girls. For the guys, campouts are nearly a monthly event. With 10 guys max. I have been on campouts that were thrown together a week before. Of course this throws the logic of a 3 month ward calendar out the window. Basically it was a chance for the scouts to get out and sleep in the dirt. ( No we do not have cabins to sleep in.) Of course I do have fond memories of those campouts. Luckily we did not have so sit around and sing songs. It was a time to cook manly breakfasts, sit around fires while making fun of each other, and play mean tricks on each other. Male bonding at its best.
So to answer the question Camp: Entertaining or Horrifically Tragic, I would have to say who’s point of view?

If it was JC or RB or SP, then I would say horrifically tragic. Crappy tin foil dinners, really bad therefore cold sleeping bags, no fishing skills, and a general distaste for the outdoors makes for a long trip. On the other hand you take me, I could sleep in the dirt for months on end, and eat nothing but freshly caught fish and be as happy as could be. I have friends who are the same way. So its hard to answer that question. I know there are guys who have come back from trips and do not speak to anybody for weeks after, and then there are guys who have come back from a trip and are been best friends with someone they hated. (Of course not Carlos who leaped across a HUGE fire to tackle me off the log I was on for repeating a Spanish phrase one of the guys told me to say. I have not won many fights in my life, but I took care of myself on that one. Of course it helped that as soon as he hit me I had 6 guys jump on top of him.)
It all comes done to a matter of attitude. Those guys who struggled in life and made things difficult for themselves did not do so well. Those that knew how to “play well” with each other enjoyed themselves. The important part of boy scout camps is that the opportunity to grow and mature and develop friends was extended to all, and just like life it’s a matter of recognizing that invitation, and responding. My only hope is that in some small way I was able to help someone, during one of the many trips we took feel welcome and feel like they were somebody.

Thursday, January 20, 2005 

Boom, Boom...Ain't It Great To Be Crazy??

Ahhh….Girls Camp. There are words or phrases that immediately take my brain to thinking about camp. I remember Kapers (I think that’s how it is spelled) which is just a nice way of saying CHORES, people. I cannot forget the RED DIRT and the impact it has on any color of clothing. I remember the love of and being a Big Sister. They changed the name to YCLs…but I will always remember being a Big Sister on Big Sister Hill enjoying the things that Big Sisters do best. Oh, and the cots! The misery of cots…but the wonderfulness of sleeping under the stars. Boom Chicka-Boom…need I say more? And who could ever forget CHUCKS…who knew that out-houses could have so much personality? Yes there are things that don’t necessarily bring happy thoughts…but that’s part of life. And part of camp.

I think that my fondest memories are from my 4th level and on. The first three years were great, but there is just something about those last three years as a camper or Big Sister that really stick out in my mind. (For the record, pretty much hated camp when I came back as a councilor that 7th year…I had the group from HELL. I kid you not.) But I love that I can remember hikes and singing most of the way…even when you were completely out of breath; it just helped pass the time. I love remembering how disgustingly dirty we all were by the end of the week…because it was just so funny. And being able to play Dot-to-Dot with Jaimee’s mosquito bites when it looked like she had chicken pocks. I love the memories of hangin’ with my gals and the fun we ALWAYS had. I remember the BIG fourth level hike and the hard work that went with it. We were so stoked when we got back, we were SO LOUD and were incredibly annoying to EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THAT CAMP. I love remembering the year that Jaimee slapped Sarah to bring her back to reality and I can’t believe she didn’t bring that up because we still laugh about it often. I love the fact that our last year for being Big Sisters we totally made the 4th levels go through an initiation process with NOTHING BUT FUN TASKS and actually had Happy Meals waiting for them to continue the tradition of having McDonald’s on The Hill. We were just the coolest.

And Sarah…I LOVE remembering Ruffles and Carl Jr. I wonder what happened to those two.

I have so many memories of camp and have a deep love for those memories. Most of those memories include Sarah and Kaycee and Rachel and Jaimee. But this is what it all boils down to: When you take away all of the “worldly” or outside influences (fashion, appearances, boys, status, etc.) and bring a BUNCH of girls together to camp, there is MUCH love, acceptance, friendships (singing) and bonding. There were girls in our stake that I really could do without…they just weren’t very pleasant. But once you got them to camp…you saw a completely different side to those people. You developed a love for people you just never thought possible. And yeah, it totally sucked that as soon as you stepped into the “real world” those people went back to being real…but you just waited until the next year when you could love them once again. I guess THAT is the beauty of Girls Camp.

Well, that and cornrows.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 

Red Dirt Love Affair

I loved, Loved, LOVED camp. Really, there’s no way for me to properly convey the tone of voice that shows the veracity of this claim, but just understand I loved camp.

I loved learning about tying knots. I loved singing songs. I loved pretending that I was the crafty type during arts and crafts time. I loved rest time when we read by ourselves. I loved hiking. I loved achieving new levels in short amounts of time. I loved everything.

I also love my memories formed over the eight years I attended camp (six as a camper, two as a counselor... seven of those years were consecutive). Here are the most vivid ones.

My Secret Garden
I went to Camp Bountiful for the first time far before girls’ camp age. My dad would work on the water pump that supplied the camp with water.

I used to wander off on these trips and once I found a hiking trail that led to a secluded campsite next to a brook (finding a brook in the desert-like red dirt of Camp Bountiful was like finding gold).

Each year of Girls' Camp I would take a few girls with me during free time to see the secret campsite. As years went by, the trail became impassible, but I’ll always remember it as a quiet place that I “discovered” and loved.

Plastic Surgery
My first year at camp was a good one. I was in a group with my cousin and a girl that I’d met the year before in GATE summer school (she later became a stripper). The only trouble was that my counselor was evil. She refused to let us have any fun at all.

One night on the way to our group’s camp from the evening program, I slipped and fell. I knew I’d scraped my arm pretty bad and asked to go to the nurse. She said “no” because the nurse was already in bed.

Imagine my shock and surprise the next morning when I found that a small stick (1/4 inch diameter, 1 and ½ inches long) had become imbedded in my forearm, just above my wrist. Not only that, but in the course of the night, the opening to the wound had healed over.

A few weeks later, I had “plastic surgery” and the stick was removed. It's a good thing I don't remember who that counselor was or I'd have held a grudge.

“And that’s news to me”
My two years as a “Big Sister” were some of the best ever. My favorite part was performing in the evening programs. I, and a couple of other girls, did a skit each night based on “Weekend Update” from Saturday Night Live. In the skit, we would recount all of the funny and embarrassing things that happened to the campers and counselors.

It was a hit. Everyone wanted to be in the “Campers Update” and everyone laughed. Ending each skit with, “I’m Kaycee, and that’s news to me, “ just like Kevin Nealon did, was the genius that held it all together.

Not Your Daddy
My first year as a counselor, when I was 18, was a bit traumatic. There was a priesthood member there (they had several on hand for the tough jobs and in case of emergencies) who went on the Level 4 hike I was a counselor for. He had a close relationship with several of the girls, probably because he and his wife couldn’t have kids of their own.

One of the girls he was close to called him “Dad” as a measure of her affection and respect. (A lot of people call friends’ mothers their “other mom” and such, so I didn’t find this part all that strange.) Some of the leaders found it worrisome.

Things got really weird when the girl was stung by a bee. She happened to be slightly allergic, so she was given a shot and was resting in the nurse’s tent. When the priesthood guy found out that she was unwell, he told the nurse that he was her dad so that he could see her.

That’s right… the priesthood guy lied to be able to see the girl who wasn't really his daughter.

After this came out, he was asked to leave and was not allowed to chaperone at girls’ camp again.

For Me
For me, camp was a great experience. There were parts of camp that were difficult. There were some things that made me unhappy every year, but I look past those things to the positives that camp brought me.

There were times in my life where I had a hard time making friends, but I always made new, wonderful friends at camp. It was a place where I felt loved, accomplished, celebrated, but most importantly accepted for who I am.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 

The Song Remembers When

Like Rebecca I went to girls camp for seven consecutive years. While I can't say I enjoyed every moment, there were many that I will cherish forever. I have so many stories from girls camp in fact that I think I could probably eat up most of our webspace with my tales of treks, mud, sisterhood and slander. But I won't... because it will bore you senseless. Instead I wish to chat about the songs that can bring the memories flooding back.

I'm not too sure how it is at Scout Camp (Cam, I can't wait to hear about that from you) but Girl's camp is all about the music. I still have a couple of Camp songbooks in a box somewhere in my garage, and I'm telling ya, if I picked on of them up right now and flipped through it, I can promise you each one would have a different memory attatched to it.

The songs we sang at Girl's Camp weren't especially uplifting all of the time (Anyone remember "I Stuck My Head In A Little Skunks Hole"????... I didn't think so) but there was something magically about EVERYONE knowing them, and singing them at top volume day and night. I can still remember learning all the words to "The Princess Pat" and "Honey, You Can't Love One" but it is also because of Girls Camp that I know all the words to "A Child's Prayer" (and girls camp is also the reason I sing it in my head EVERY SINGLE DAY before I say my prayers... wierd, but true fact.) I can remember sitting in the ampatheater and Camp Bountiful listening to the amazing voices of so many young women rising through the trees and into the heavens. It was a pretty powerful thing for me, to think that my voice could be a part of that. I loved the singing that happened at camp. It brought us together, gave us a commonality and really, sometimes all you need is just a LITTLE something in common.

Of all the songs that girls camp has given me, there is one that has the most memories attatched to it; there is one that means the most to me. After your 4th year at camp, and the completion of a rather difficult hike (JP, I would have NEVER made it through that hike without you and your dad sticking in the back with me the WHOLE FREAKING WAY! Seriously... you should get a medal or something for that.) you are given your completion certificate and go from the relm of "Camper" to the amazing world of "Big Sister." Being a "Big Sister" at Girls Camp is a HUGE deal. You assist the younger girls, you prepare spiritual thoughts for them, you are a prime example of what girls camp can turn you into. You have your own tables in the mess hall, your own seating at the ampatheater, being a "Big Sister" has perks as well as responcibilies (JP, Kaycee... you remember the McDonald's and Godfather's on the other side of the hill right?) For me though, the best part of being a "Big Sister" was the song we sang together each night as we circled the campfire arm in arm. We would stand there, the lights in the amaptheatre would go off and somehow, as we swayed back and forth, someone amoung us would begin

No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man's joy is joy to me
Each man's grief is my own
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

No man is an island far out in the blue
We all look to God above
For our strength to renew
When I help my brother
Then I know that I plant the seeds
Of friendship that will never die

I saw the people gather
I heard the music start
The song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart

No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man's joy is joy to me
Each man's grief is my own
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend


I know that it sounds terribly cheesy, but there was something about being in that circle. There was something about singing that song made up of a dozen voices that sounded as one. I wish I could better explain it, but it was just this mix of all the right things that make a moment unforgetable. No matter where I go, no matter what I do the smell of pine trees and red dirt bring that song into my mind. And I like that very, very much.

Monday, January 17, 2005 

Girls Camp: Simply Entertaining or Horrifically Tragic?

I love being around people, always have… especially girl friends. I remember being shy when I was little, but my mom says that I remember wrong. I guess I have to believe her because she can produce a million stories to support her claim and I really can’t produce one to support mine. So being the social butterfly that I was, and always will be, a week away from mowing lawns, dishes and all other sorts of chores and in it’s place a week spent with my girlfriends up in the mountains “camping” in cabins was Simply Entertaining, this explains why I attended girls camp seven years while the average girl attends girls camp five (one year I even went twice).

The first year, while packing my duffle with camping clothes, hiking shoes, secret sister gifts, candy and face cards my dad told me how he and other members of the priesthood in surrounding Stakes would go up Fairview Canyon on weekends to build Camp Shalom. Of course, this was before I was born, or maybe when I was just a little baby, but the idea of my dad building something, something like a cabin, or cabins, that I had never seen and would now be staying in for an entire week seemed so cool to me, special.

The first night of camp we always have homemade tinfoil dinners. Every year, with out fail, mine took over an hour to cook. While everyone else was finishing with their camp fire banana split smores dessert (take a banana, cut it down the middle stuff the middle with chocolate chips and marshmallows, wrap the banana in tinfoil and throw it into the fire for five minutes) I was just pulling my dinner out of the fire. I would complain to my dad every year before camp, “Mine takes too long daaaad.” I think he would make changes to how he created the tinfoil dinner, but I still was the last to eat. My third year my little sister started coming to camp as well. This was nice if for no other reason then to have someone to eat late night dinner with.

Evenings at camp were by far my favorite. I loved to huddle around the camp fire telling stories and singing songs. I have a horrible voice, but in the mountains around a camp fire nobody sounds bad, everyone sounds beautiful, even me, especially with a guitar. The stars at Camp Shalom are the brightest stars I have ever seen. When I was little my brother had this paper, glow in the dark, half circle thing I could turn out the lights and stick my head into and all of the stars would light up, mapped out, right in front of my face. The night sky at Camp Shalom always reminded me of Matthew’s star dome. If I looked up I felt the stars right on top of me, in a dome shape, brighter then I had ever seen them before and perfectly mapped out.

Camp wasn’t always perfect, or rather I wasn’t always perfect at camp. I managed to get myself in trouble even when I was trying to be on my best behavior. It was no surprise to me when my very first year, one of the very first days, I made Shauna cry because she decided I had called her fat - which I didn’t do at all, I just told her that I didn’t need to borrow her jeans because not only did I have my own jeans, but I didn’t think hers would fit me, she is tall and I am short. She became very upset with me, started crying and then told her older sister Pam that I had called her fat, really REALLY fat. In the end I wish I had just called the little “beg for attention, cry baby” fat, really REALLY fat because at least then all of the drama it created might have been worth it. Shauna spent the rest of camp picking at her food and complaining about her weight (she was rail thin).

That same year when I returned from our first year hike I found all of my panties strung through the trees. I new this was revenge for not borrowing Shauna’s pants, but I didn’t care. After all, we are all girls, what is so embarrassing about wearing panties? Or having them hang from trees? At least I wasn’t fat… I mean tall. I left my panties hanging from the trees until instructed to remove them.

The following year I told Shauna that Camp Shalom had installed electricity. Then took a face plate to an electrical socket and screwed it into one of the walls of our cabin. Her older sister wasn’t there and she had nobody to cry to, but she did cry and cry and cry and cry. The prank didn’t provide me with as much pleasure as I had hoped. I felt guilty about it all week. Fortunately a lot of other people found humor in it and fortunately one of them was our camp director so I didn’t get into trouble, she just shook her head at me and tried not to laugh. But I felt horrible and as a result never pranked again and I didn’t allow anyone else to prank either.

To be fair, I wasn’t always a pain. I wasn’t always the girl that made my Simply Entertaining camping experience Horrifically Tragic for others. In many ways I was the model camper. I loved girl’s camp so much that I would do everything in my power to make sure everyone else was having as a great a time as I was (as long as you were not Shauna). I participated happily in every activity, finished every single certification, helped the younger girls with their certifications and braided head after head of hair into corn rows. I was more then willing to play the fool in skits… one year I even agreed to dress as Joan of Arc and go to cabin after cabin in the pouring rain telling my inspiring story of female power and faith.

In the end the best part of girl’s camp was the comradely. One week with girls from my neighborhood, sharing a small cabin, staying up all night huddled together in our sleeping bags to keep warm, telling our secrets and sharing our candy… this was why I went to camp.

And for those of you that went to camp and didn’t experience the comradely? I find THAT Horrifically Tragic.

Saturday, January 15, 2005 

The Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

How do you dress and what does it mean…

I think I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to ask me this question and not “what are you wearing?” because that would imply a naughty telephone call, but wait, that also might imply a red-carpet inquiry… to which I HOPE the answer would be “Why, it’s a Chanel, of course…Duh, Joan, can’t you see the interlocking double C’s emblazoned in rhinestones across my bosom? Or are you too bedazzled by my glittering, 4” heeled Louboutin’s that seem to magically float about my feet?” That’s what I’d say… whoa, wait… Let me wipe the drool from the desk top and let’s start again.

And I am going to be totally honest and frank with you because I do not have to see you or face you at a social function where you or I are receiving an award and we are all nervous and on our best behavior and we’re all trying to be gracious and seem successful and popular. I have nothing to hide from you the blog-reading audience… almost…so…

All divine nature aside, we are basically a visual animal. We function heavily on visual cues. When we are young, we dress/act in predictable styles to form a tight (and seemingly safe) social group; hence the distinct “herds” you see roaming the local mall: the blond, pink-frosted-lipped, puffy-jacket-wearing “muffy” girls, the over-ratted-hair, exposed pierced-navel, lots of eyeliner girls, the mustachioed young men of the Latin persuasion, the longish-hair, jaunty/disheveled “preppy” boys, the ubiquitous Goths, etc… (Did you come to any personal conclusions about the groups I just described? Just wondering…)

In our Junior High and High School efforts to proclaim individuality and assert independence, we succumb to the most basic visual clichés, on purpose, so that we can belong. In our efforts to feel special, unique, we conform. Thus it has been and thus it will ever be…

Hopefully, we ease into a more personal and confident sense of style as we mature, but the ball and chain of personal independence is caring about what other people think. But do not fear, we all do it… so much so that everyone is spending so much time worrying about themselves that they have little time to worry about others…

We’ve all experienced a time when we dressed more for others than for ourselves. For instance, until I got a job and bought my own clothes, my parents guided us to choose clothes that were modest and I chose clothes that wouldn’t rock the boat. (Except, remember some of those “jogging” style shorts in the 80’s with the contrasting piping? Very short…and we all wore them…you know you did… with knee high tube socks with stripes at the top…).

I’ll divert for a sec and share a moment from when I lived in New Jersey, I experienced something totally unique: very weak, if any, cliques. That’s right folks, it was a social utopia of sorts. While there were very specific groups of people (preppies, jocks, burn-outs, metal heads, sluts, etc) we were all friends. It was amazing. But although there were few social barriers, our clothes still separated us into our various “herds.” The preps wore khakis with docksiders and sweaters, the jocks wore their jackets, the metal heads wore their hair long, tight black jeans, and black concert t-shirts, and the sluts wore short, tight skirts, and HUGE hair and LOTS of eyeliner (preferably blue). If you wanted to change social groups, you changed how you dressed; and there were defections and conversions to other groups all the time. But miraculously, it didn’t change who you could be friends with. I didn’t wear short tight spandex skirts because I didn’t want to be perceived a certain way, that’s not the image I wanted to project about myself. That’s not how I felt inside, all short skirty and stuff…

Who is going to be the first to comment on the fact that they COULDN’T tell who the “slutty” girls were in their high school by the way they dressed? I open this question up for discussion as to how/why/if this changes as adults… I think adults are more judgmental, in general. I think kids just naturally operate on those visual cues that say “dress like this to be this person”… so how does that change in later years? I would say that as youngsters, we follow the clichés to the letter, whereas adults do not. But the visual cues are set in our minds as youth, and sometimes they carry over into adulthood. You CANNOT tell what a person is like as an adult by what they wear. Think of all those horrible, perverted serial killers who walk around wearing turtle necks and polyester pants…and bad hair cuts…and outdated glasses…

Now looking back upon my youth from the “grown-up” perspective, I’m grateful that if my parents erred in the ways of style guidance, they did so on the side of conservatism so that I understood the boundaries and made certain clothing habits in preparation for covenants to be made in later life.

However, as I got older I made more independent choices that weren’t necessarily according to my parent’s guidelines. For instance, I remember in college choosing a black skirt for my waitress job (way cute – pleats…) that was SO much shorter than skirts I usually wore (this one was almost mid-thigh – gasp!). I didn’t feel immodest (and I got better tips… tee-hee). And this was in PROVO! I didn’t feel stared at or singled out, but I also didn’t care. The skirt wasn’t BYU standard, but I didn’t feel it was immodest. Just because something is appropriate for life/work and not for school/church does not, in my mind, make people hypocrites for wearing it. I hadn’t yet made temple covenants of a higher level of modesty, and I had nice legs (HAD being the operative word here…*sniff*). I was less concerned with choosing clothes according to what other people might think of me, and more concerned with expressing what I felt inside: attractive, young, energetic… ahhh…those were the days.

The standards of temple modesty ARE different from general modesty. Our fault as Mormons comes when we impose those higher standards upon those who are not ready/willing to make those covenants. Most parents want their children to make the same choices they made, so they prepare the child through life to do or not do certain things. Modesty is just one of those things. ‘Nough said on that…

As I get older, I find that I can’t rely on the visual cues from my youth. Thanks to Abercrombie & Fitch and the like, even the “nice” girls don’t look so nice to me anymore. It is considered “virginal” to have long legs that go all the way up to the butt we almost see, and to have just a sliver of abdomen peeping out. Young people have totally new visual cues from the ones I had. These days hardly anyone is wearing spandex skirts (I hope), but perhaps one of the new cues of overt sexiness is a purposely-showing, sparkly-meant-to-be-seen thong? I don’t know… I should ask some girls…I tried, but no one was home…

I do believe clothes make the (wo-)man. No, seriously. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I TiVo every episode of TLC’s “What Not to Wear” which makes me an expert on the subject of fashion and dressing appropriately. I honestly believe that changing how you dress can change how you feel. Why do you think women wear lingerie? We might need the boost a little lace, some leather, and some studs can give us in the “feeling sexy” department. Don’t take me too seriously, but watch an episode of “What Not to Wear” to get my point. It changes people’s lives sometimes to simply change what they wear.

Why do some people not keep up with fashion? And by fashion I’m not talking about trendy super stylish, I mean holding on to jeans and pants and shirts from 10 years ago so that the CUT of the clothes is no longer current? Don’t give me the money excuse, because Wal-Mart and Target carry cute modern clothes that are affordable. The shallow part of me thinks it’s because people get out of touch, or caught up in the fact that they USED to be in style that they don’t pay attention to the world at large.

But I think a better reason is that personal style and age appropriateness plays heavily into people’s choices. My mother (age 54 size 6 or 8) is a little hottie. After 7 kids, she still looks amazing. I do not take after her genes so I am always trying to get her to try on some “new” jeans partly because I want to see her style updated just a tad, and partly because I wish I were her size. This last visit she reminded me that at her age she wanted to maintain a certain level of decorum, and that the jeans I wanted her to wear did not express how she felt. I needed to keep in mind that to me she dresses like a Mom (very nice, but “mom-ish”), but to herself and to her peers, she was well dressed and age appropriate. Point well taken, Mom.

So basically, there is a time and a place. There is a time for young, hottie clothes, and a time for responsible adult clothes. A time for hire-me clothes, and a time for let’s-go-out-tonight-honey clothes…. Personally, there are also signing-karaoke clothes, trying-out-for-reality-TV clothes, party-clothes (and shoes), and hanging-around-my-house-in-jewels-and-sparkles clothes… May we all be able to discern the difference…

In the name… Ha… just kidding.

Friday, January 14, 2005 

Jeans and T-Shirt, would make the world a better place.

Since this is a blog on fashion apparently, I thought it would be nice to be fashionably late with the blog, get , funny huh?

Well I am not sure that being the second to last blogger is much fun because pretty much every thing has been said at least once and in some cases more then once.
I figured I would write about one of my very first comments on this matter. Fashion just does not matter.
I know that most of you are going to disagree, and I am going hear that its an expression, and a way to set us apart and whatever arguments people want to come up with about how important it is to societies, and personal life’s, but I just do not buy it.
Here's why. Every generation looks back at the other generations and there is a little bit of a mocking attitude to how they dressed. Could we ever return to the 50’s where kids wore slacks, and men walked around in suits even if they worked at the sewer plant, and women were in dresses? Who knows, all it would take is for Versace or Armani to put it in the display windows and our fabulous herd mentality would have us dressing like it. I remember talking with some friends a few years back about how stupid we looked in our I-Zods with the collars turned up. Well guess what, its back. I can remember when I used to wear truckers hats, not because Ashton Kutcher wears them, but because I actually thought I looked good in them. It was the nylon mesh; I loved how the ends of my hair poked through the holes. Every generations has there embarrassments, and people talking about how dumb they looked. Bell bottoms area a perfect example. 10 years ago, we mocked them, now half the pants out there are bell bottoms.

I can think of some really great people in our school, neighborhood, and in my life that were not the most fashionable people. I hate to admit that I have even avoided them because I wanted to be in the popular crowd. I have waited till no one was looking and went into my brothers room and took clothes from him because I did not know how to be fashionable. I had to leave the house wearing a big coat so no one would know. As I look back now, it does not matter if people accepted me for how I dressed. I think about a good friend I have now that I shunned in my younger years because he did not dress right, he is an amazing person, one of my best friends. We have been programmed to think that. And its not just LDS, its every click its every social group (OK, not everyone, I hate hasty generalizations such as “Oh mormons do this…… I seldom hear that and can actually agree.) So a large chunk of our society have been programmed that way. I watched a documentary about MTV once. They interview the President, and he said (paraphrasing) “lets face it MTV is nothing but one continous commercial. The clothes the VJs wear their hair styles the fashions and cars and bling bling its all one big ad.” How sad that parents would let their kids discisions be influenced by this. No wonder my mom would not let us watch MTV. I applaud people like JP who have dared say I will have a stand in what my child wears.

What I really wish is that everyone would wear jeans and a t-shirt. I think that we would be a much happier society if everyone was in jeans a t-shirts. We would be more comfortable and happy if only we dressed like this. (Plus if you saw a lady on the freeway with a flat, there would be no, “I wish I could stop and help, but I am dressed to nice”)

I know that this is mostly ramblings and I am not sure if I came to a point, but I read in a newspaper once an interview with a college professor who said
“When we try to dress different, all we do is end up dressing just like everyone else that is dressing different.”

I guess what I am trying to say is that fashion comes and goes, it gets made fun of, then it becomes popular. Its fleeting, its like trying to keep your computer updated, nearly impossible without costing you a fortune. Jerry Seinfeld does a bit where he talks about how people dress in the future, meaning the shiny silky clothing and how we might as well give up on current fashion because it appears by all the sci-fi movies that we are all going to be dressing the same in the future anyway.

There are far more important things in life then worrying about our dress. Like how can we get light ranch dressing to taste more like normal ranch.

PS Can I rant about one more thing? LDS girls who wear garments, and belly shirts. I would hope after having been through the temple you would have a little better understanding of life and how unimportant wearing cute clothing really is. Come on, you are not in high school anymore buy a stupid shirt that fits.

Love you all, and I hope everyone makes themselves a great day!

 

Sorry Folks

OK, I just got out of a meeting, major crisis at work, I am working on my post, and I will have it up at 10:05 MST.
Check back in 30 Minutes Thanks
Cameron

Thursday, January 13, 2005 

I Used To Wear Penny Loafers...

Once again, I come in COMPLETELY middle of the road. I’ve come to accept this now. I’ll ask you to do the same. Expect middle of the road from JP. I’ll try not to disappoint you.

I think fashion and the clothes you wear really are all about you. It’s your interpretation and your opinion. It is very personal. Even within the Mormon Church. Unfortunately, I’ve seen much judgment passed from church members and I find that very sad. Much like what Sarah talked about a couple of days ago, I remember seeing one ward member completely YELL at a young woman one Sunday for wearing a dress that didn’t follow the guidelines. This young woman was not a member, was visiting with a friend and I don’t think she came back. Yes, I know that not all members are like that. I know they won’t yell and make a scene…but they will stare. The will look. They may even pass judgment.

That’s not fair and it’s really not for us to decide.

When I was active in the church, I dressed the part. Sometimes I look back at pictures and say, “bleh” and wonder what the hell was wrong with me. No, I didn’t have anything specific wrong with me, well…at least when it came to getting dressed. It was just this: I was Molly Mormon to the fifth power…and my wardrobe matched that to a T (shirt.) For some reason, fashion wasn’t a big issue for me. I think it had much to do with the fact that shopping was always traumatic for me. I’m just under 5’10” and finding modest clothing for me was next to impossible. I usually ended up shopping in the “mom” section…and I just had to deal with it. “They” told me to dress modest, I dressed modest. I never once deviated from that mold.

I’ve been “away” from the church for a little over seven years. While I am pleased to announce that I am much more fashionable, I have not moved so much away from some of the standards of the church. I work in a professional environment, so my clothing is fairly conservative, but even my “play-clothes” aren’t that much different. I do wear sleeveless shirts, but I don’t wear spaghetti straps. I never show my midriff, but I have to admit that is largely due to the fact that I’ve had two children. That TOTALLY messes with your midriff in ways that just shouldn’t be discussed. But DEAR GOD, I wore a STRAPLESS GOWN to my company’s Christmas party last year…and I thought I was going to pass out from excitement. I showed my shoulders…AND my collar bone…all in the same night. I cannot begin to tell you how much I felt like a princess that night. It was a very fancy and princessey dress AND I LOVED IT. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was breaking rank and showing some skin. It had everything to do with the fact that I FELT pretty and like a princess.

I don’t feel like I dressed immorally at all. I really don’t. But I didn’t dress according to how I was brought up in the church. That is the difference.

I don’t dress like a Hoochy-Mama…not even close. I don’t EVER intend on dressing that way. But I don’t need to. There are items of clothing that I wear that aren’t completely in sync (it is impossible to use that phrase anymore without thinking of Justin & co) with “Mormon” standards. But I think I really stay true to who I am and how I feel about myself. It’s what I am comfortable with.

Having said that, I will maintain very specific standards for my girls as they grow up. I will allow them to be who they are, but there are rules in our household. I think those rules resemble standards within the church because I really don’t think they will harm my children. Oh yeah…and they’ll probably benefit them, too.

So, if you had it in your head that you were going to buy matching, sparkly tube tops or belts masquerading as skirts for Paige and Abby…you were wrong, my friend. Quite wrong.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 

Judge Not

Compared to the cute and fashion forward women who’ve had their say on this subject (Sarah and Rebecca), I am an absolute slob. Nevertheless, I will attempt to complete the task before me. This is how I dress and what it means.

Work Clothes
I taught my first year at a high school when I was 23. I got hit on. By students. A lot. I’m not saying this to boast (I’m no Mary Kay Latourneau), because filing a sexual harassment claim against a 16 year old is never fun, but rather to explain my work clothes philosophy.

For the past few years, I’ve been dressing frumpily. This suits my laziness, and along with my move to the junior high level, ensures that no student will EVER consider me good looking. I wear twin sets and khakis most days, jeans with school t-shirts on Fridays.

The most important thing about my school wardrobe is that I never, ever, reveal cleavage. I have an above average cup size and my breasts draw enough attention on their own.

There is nothing that the 13 year old boys love more than cleavage. Therefore, there are no v-necks and all button-ups are worn with undershirts. This stems back to the my second week of teaching at my current school when two of my strategically placed shirt buttons came undone… and none of my students told me.

Weekend Wear
Most of my weekend warrior wardrobe consists of jeans and T’s. However, during the summer time, I really live it up.

One of the best things about not being at BYU anymore and not being LDS anymore was getting rid of the knee-length shorts. I’m quite tall (I have a 34 inch inseam) and knee length shorts look absolutely retarded on me. I wore them, because the heat was unbearable and I always tried to appear to be a good girl, but I hated every second of it.

I also wore my first bikini last summer. Granted, I was only able to bring myself to wear it because I was in a foreign country, but I wore it. It was AWESOME! I felt self-conscious, but got over it as I realized that the looks I was getting were definitely not the negative ones I expected.

Finally, I must tell you about the halter top. I don’t know how the halter top got a bad name, but I think it must be the most flattering top there is. I purchased my first halter top for a friend’s bachelorette party last summer and loved it.

What it all means
But, for all my talk of these sexy-type clothes, I don’t usually wear them. I stick to my Mormon way of dressing, for the most part, and there’s just one reason why: I care about what people think of me, far too much.

This is a fault that I am ashamed of. I know that sometimes people judge me harshly and it hurts when they do. I know that I shouldn’t care, but I do. I know that what you wear isn’t who you are, but it does mean something, doesn’t it?

Your clothes convey a message, which you want others to pick up on. This is why I don’t show cleavage at work—I’m not there for that. This is why I dressed in a sexy way for the bachelorette party—I wanted to be daring and desirable.

The way I dress means that I care what you think.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 

The Way You Look Tonight



I was at Kaycee's not too long ago helping work out some kinks with the new digital camera that she bought for her dear sweet fiance (uh huh, sure it's for him). While she was playing with buttons and figuring stuff out she snapped the above picture of me. A couple days later she emailed it to me and pointed out first how cute I was, and secondly how much cleavage I was showing. I think the words, "I've never been prouder of you" were used somewhere.

As I was thinking about this weeks topic, and therefore thinking about how I dress, I'm sad to say there was only one thing I could really focus on: my boobs.

I know this might seem a little strange, and even a little off putting, but honestly, just hear me out on this. I promise to try to make it as comfortable as possible... but let's be honest, we're talking about boobs, more specifically mine. I'm not embarrassed--and you shouldn't be either. I'm just saying.

For as long as I can remember I have had a love/hate relationship with my breasts. When I was first growing them (far before any of my female classmates), I hated them. I hated bras; I hated the whole idea of it. I thought (and really still do think) that they aren't that great, but there is something about them that makes me feel so freaking pretty when they are in the right bra and the right shirt. I'm just gonna come out and say it--I like showing a little cleavage. I'm not doing this for guys to notice me; that's not the point at all. The point is, I like how I look when I am showing "the girls" off a little. Not to the extreme the above picture goes to, but honestly, I'm a big fan of the low cut shirt.

Here's the thing... part of me thinks I shouldn't be a fan of the low cut shirt and my slowly but surely decreasing bust line. There is this part of me that wonders if people think I'm slutty (although, again, I have to admit, sometimes that's totally the look I'm going for) or think that I'm not a "good" Mormon. I worry that people will think I'm a terrible person because of the smallest amount of skin I dare to bare. But to be perfectly honest, most of the time I just don't care. I dress for me and how I feel in an outfit. As many of you know, I had gastric bypass surgery about a year ago. My body has been changing rapidly, and my wardrobe is having a bit of a time keeping up. When I wear something that is oversized, I feel frumpy and ugly. I feel so unsexy. But when I wear clothing that fits me well, that flatters my shape, that enhances what I got and down plays what I do not, I feel amazing - I feel sexy and beautiful. And honestly... I'm just not sure what is so wrong with that.

**Added at 6:30 am **

I just left this comment on Becca's post, and wanted to make sure you all read it, because I have SERIOUSLY strong feelings about this. Please... discuss. ;)

Do I think members judge others based on what they wear? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTLY! I was at a YSA dance over the summer and had on black slacks, a hot pink lacy cami, a black 3/4 length sleeve wrap around blouse over the top, strappy high heel shoes and some dang cool, but very dramatic makeup. I had a girl come up to me and a dear friend of mine, inturrupt our conversation and ASK IF I WAS A MEMBER!!! I looked at her and asked, "Member of what?" to which she cheerfully replied, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." I was shocked. I confirmed that I had indeed been a member for about the last, oh, SIXTEEN YEARS and asked her what made her think otherwise. "Well," she said. "You just don't see many members who dress like you." And honestly... there was not even a HINT of cleavage that night. I just think it is amazing how quickly we are willing to judge other people on the most rediculous of things. I am endowed. Have been for 6 years. I have NEVER once asjusted my garments to fit an outfit. But, you know, most Mormons don't dress like me.

Monday, January 10, 2005 

Do I dress in a manner that would make a Mormon mother* proud?

As a devout follower of fashion I dress pretty damn well I must say. Lookin’ good is important to me.

I can take a perfectly clean room and turn it upside down in 10 minutes flat while searching for the perfect top to go with the perfect slacks. And don’t forget the shoes… Heels? Of course!! Open-toed? Checking pedicure status… all is clear. Now which clutch? Which wrap and what jewelry?

I ENJOY this life, I enjoy it a lot!

But, do I dress in a manner that would make a Mormon mother proud?

BYU’s honor code, the best guideline I can find to represent standards by which Mormon women are expected to dress, provides the following dress and grooming standards:
A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing; has slits above the knee; or is form fitting. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be knee length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles and colors. Excessive ear piercing (more than one per ear) and all other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.
Surprising even myself I bat 50%. I keep “a clean and well-cared-for appearance,” a COSTLY clean and well-cared for appearance, but a well-cared for appearance none the less. I don't have excessive piercings or colorful hair. I avoid the extremes in styles. I am a fashion follower, not a fashion forward, extremely awesome, risk taking dresser like Gwen Stefani, or beloved designer Betsy Johnson. Sadly, this is where it all ends. I fail because I show a little shoulder (sometimes the Whole. Entire. Thing), and not just while jogging. I do it in public non-recreational settings as well, such as restaurants, movie theatres, pubs and sometimes, EVEN WORK… **gasp… ah the horror of it all.** I wouldn’t/couldn't pass up a backless, strapless or sleeveless if it was beautiful, in my price range and blended well with other pieces in my wardrobe. I own dresses and skirts that show my knee, and sometimes my wrap around dress gets whipped up in the wind and reveals my ENTIRE leg, Marilyn Monroe style. I wear form fitting clothing because I think it makes my small 5’2” stature appear grander in some way and my small you knows appear larger in some other way. But in the end, I am an argyle sweater wearing tweed skirt kind of girl.

I have no problem with BYU’s dress code, or people personally trying to live by a similar dress standard. But I won’t lie when I tell you that I much more enjoy wearing a darling strapless sundress on a sunny weekend in San Francisco then I ever did in Provo, Utah. No ones looking, judging, wondering to themselves, “huh... that girl must not be Mormon, OR maybe she's a Mormon Gone Bad.” Don’t pretend you don’t know what I am talking about because I have done it myself and I doubt I am alone here. I prefer living in a community where what I am dressed in actually says next to nothing at all about me, one where I could make almost every mother proud.


*this in no way is a reference to my own mother. My own mother is a non-judgmental woman (when it comes to me… the rest of ya'll I can’t speak for). I believe my mother is comfortable with the way I dress. My evidence? That had she kept her clothing from when she was younger I would be sporting it around town right now!
I use Mormon mother very generically, as the Jane Doe of Mormon mothers.

Saturday, January 08, 2005 

I Blog, Therefore I Am

At first, blogging seemed like something “other people” did. People who download music, people who have frequented chat rooms, people who use internet cafes, people with few friends and a lot of free time…

Then a friend of mine showed me the blog site of her husband’s ex-girlfriend, a girlfriend who caused some trouble in their courtship. This ex-girlfriend blogged her personal life for the world to see, and my friend read it compulsively because she would often reference my friend’s husband (not by name) as part of her painful past.

I was intrigued, but my opinion of blogging didn’t change that much.

Until Kacy… Kacy is very cool and she is a friend of mine. We have known each other for a while, but we bonded over the blog. Kacy showed me that cool people blog (Kacy and David Sedaris and Zac Braff), and that you can blog about cool things (wolves, numchucks, crack whores, reality TV show auditions gone awry, etc.).

I used to write everyday. I wrote short stories and kid’s stories (and even started a novel – gasp!), and it was a great creative outlet. The more I wrote, the more fodder for writing would appear in my life and on my screen. With the idea of a blog, a whole new world of creative opportunity opened before my eyes.

I started blogging timidly, and suddenly I “met” many, many cool people. And not just distant, untouchable celebrity people, but funny, touching, “normal”, heart-wrenching, REAL people within my grasp! And these people have friends and very little free time! My cup runneth over now with interesting people who share with me an honest (and outright hilarious) view of their world. My life is enriched, and I feel blessed and downright honored to share their “space” and participate in this venture.









As a (rather shallow) side note, in eighth grade, my best friend Heather LeMasters said to me, “You’re going to be famous one day, I know it,” and I totally took it to heart. A couple of years later, I received my patriarchal blessing and one little section mentions something that I have chosen to interpret a certain way, and have been seeking fame subconsciously since. I see blogging as a way to get myself out there. I’m not looking for an agent or anything; I’m looking for disciples, a following so to speak.

So to boil it down to the honest truth:

Self-conscious reason: Kacy showed me that blogging is cool. And I want to be cool like Kacy.

Noble reason: I love to write (not as a career, as an outlet) and writing a blog helps me notice and appreciate all the strange and wonderful things that happen to me each day. It makes me use my brain again!

Touching reason: I have found a lot of truly interesting, insightful, intelligent people who are willing to “put it out there”. Kudos.

Shallow reason (with me, there is always at least one): If there is the slightest chance of fame or fortune involved, I’ll do it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005 

Why I blog, a look into the somewhat normal life of Me.

Cameron’s Post:
First off, Becca, if you comment, please do not post my entire blog in your comment, I like to keep my writing clean. Second, Jess if you comment, please do not comment twice. Third, I am sending this to Becca to post for me, because I am going on a glorious 4 day ski trip to Grand Targhee. Now to the meat of things.

Why do I blog? Well if you have never been to my blog, then you don’t know why. It is so I can comment on Beccas. I read Becca’s and I wanted to comment, so I signed up, and thought I had to make my own blog (a word I had NEVER heard of before Becca introduced me) to comment on hers. Then when Kacy showed me how to see how many people are visiting my blog….. I got excited. I could not believe that people would want to read the inane ramblings that I have been known to spew. I am not a good writer. My degree is in Construction Management. Stick with what you know, that’s what I usually say. Writing is not a strong point. So it’s kind of funny that I am still blogging.

“She knew that I had something inside that needed to get out” Quoted from JP. Funny because most the stuff I let out usually should stay inside. Rambling is the only way to express myself, like the time that Ed and I decided to drive down to Escalante and his truck broke down in the middle of no where and we had to sleep in a horse coral…. Never mind. Sorry, I will try to keep focused when it is my turn to write.

So back to why I blog. It has become interesting to me, to read peoples thoughts, and to see that my life aint as bad as sometimes I think it is. (If you are feeling bad email me and I will send you a list of blogs of people with some messed up lives). I also like meeting new people, and making new friends. I also like reading my friends blogs because it shows me a different side to them, like Becca. Its been interesting being a “blogger”. There has been times that I run home and log on to read, and there are times when I go weeks with nothing. Sometimes I really have nothing to say or do. Silence can be my best friend at times.

PS This blog was NOT written on the toilet.

PPS- Note to anyone who is not Mormon reading this: Being a Mormon based blog, there may be terminology used that is very distinctive to the Mormon culture. If you are a little confused, please feel free to drop a comment saying you are lost. And Welcome to our little piece of insanity.

 

To Blog or Not to Blog

To be perfectly honest, I blog because of Sarah. Plain and simple. I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s work since second grade and my admiration has only grown over the last 20 years. I’ve always been a frequent visitor to Sarah’s blog, but last summer I became somewhat obsessed. I used to just read it to keep tabs on what’s going on with Sarah. (I’m nosy like that.) But then all of a sudden I became a jealous child. I wanted one.

I wanted my own.

Sarah, being the good friend that she is, held my hand and helped me take my first baby steps to blogging. She knew that I had something inside that needed to get out. She knew that this would help heal some wounds that I just couldn’t get past. She knew that this would be EXACTLY what I needed.

I was nervous and honestly didn’t think I had anything interesting to say. I thought that I would just write to purge some of the stuff I’d been feeling and it would be a good way for me to sort some things out. I can honestly say that I didn’t think anyone (besides Sarah) would actually read it. But then I all of a sudden, I hoped that someone would read it.

Last year was a hard one in many ways. I’ve learned a lot about myself but there is so much that I’m still discovering. As cheesy as it sounds, my writing (blogging) helps me straighten it all out. I’ve also learned that it is something that I LOVE to do. I’ve never been a big writer, but have always liked doing it. Now, I have found a love for putting things down on paper (computer screen) even if I’m the only one who “gets it.” Somehow, writing it all down takes what is crazy in my head and makes it a tad more logical. It starts to make some sense.

I think I most love blogging because it is mine. This is something I don’t share with the kids and the hubby. Its MY thoughts and feelings and I’m in total control about what I post. Its me pouring out my heart or telling a crazy story about my kids and the understanding that comes from those who might read it. And for those that don’t understand…that’s okay too. There is a part of me that hopes that I am able to touch the lives of those who read my blog or make them laugh, just like so many of you do for me.

I’m excited for this blog. I’m excited that I can be a part of such an amazing and dynamic group of people. I’m excited to learn about other people’s experiences and how it has affected them. I’m excited to continue with something that I enjoy so much.

I’m excited for what this will bring.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005 

Friends, Mormons, Countrymen

I was introduced to the blogging world while trying to find contact information to plan my 10-year high school reunion. I "Googled" a name... and this online diary thing came up and I was amazed. I had found the correct person (because, and this still amazes me, some people use their real names on their blogs) so I ended up with the contact information I needed. I told the other members of the reunion committee about this amazing happenstance and one of them mentioned that she worked with someone who had attended our high school and had a blog. It was my old friend and pen-pal Sarah Marinara.

I was floored! I could hardly contain my excitement over being in touch with Sarah again. But what was this new world where people said whatever they wanted to the world? I didn't really know, but I wanted some.

In the few days prior to finding Sarah & her blog, I'd been realizing (again) that the combination of my clumsiness and terrible luck made the bad things happening to me quite funny. One friend told me, "I don't even remember what I laughed at before we were friends." So, why not share it with the world? The possibility of others receiving the joy that my friends did from my minor miseries might mitigate the fact that they actually happened to me. Maybe?

It was a perfect fit for me because like Sarah and Rebecca, I've always had a writing habit. During junior high and high school, it took the form of a journal. In college, it was my 10 pen pals, and later my email addiction (internet dating, anyone?). After college, though, I stopped writing, and there was a void.

I tried to fill that void by taking on responsibilities, thinking that I just wasn't busy enough. Not true. I thought that after I found the love of my life the void would be filled. It wasn't. My life changed and was improved, but there was something missing.

It was this. Writing. Knowing someone would read the things that I came up with and that they might think something new, laugh, be moved, or be moved to laugh.

But why here at Various Stages? I’m quite contented with my decision to leave the church. I’m happier this way, even though I know that it makes others feel that I am a “lost sheep.”

The problem is that I’ve got culture shock. It’s almost like I’ve immigrated to a new country. I have a great deal of knowledge and I still understand the culture, but I’m not moving back.

Various Stages is where I’ll talk with my former countrymen and my fellow immigrants. I look forward to the discussions we’ll have.

This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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