Monday, August 13, 2012


...Because I don't mean to be roaring, but the emotion is taking over the logic, and there is nothing I can do about.   Before you read beware, this blog includes:  tmi, little sleep (the current time is 4:44 am), and a mind too full of thoughts to even doze.

The same thought keeps running through my head: There is no way God is a woman.  I know this topic has been debated before.  I am sure there are many comedy acts or skits that have tackled this idea.  Maybe it's just  feminine frustration or too many discussions about religion lately, but I needed to vent.  Nobody, but family mostly, read this blog, so I won't offend too many people.  Also, a quick reminder, my emotions have taken over my logic this weekend.

There is no way God is a woman, or at least not the God I always pictured in my head and heart for many years. Maybe if I believed in Gods and Goddess like the ancient Greeks and Romans, I could believe God was a woman.  Don't get me wrong, the feminist in me loves the idea of a woman in charge of the universe, but I just can't believe any woman would have created the female reproductive system.  No woman would ever wish "monstrating" (a adept description from my favorite "Modern Family" episode) on another woman.  Of course if the Heavenly being really is Greek or Roman then it all makes sense, the female reproductive system really is a curse.  Hera can be very vengeful when pissed off.  Okay, who messed with Zeus, this is all your fault!

Back to my original thought, God can't be a woman, because no woman I know would wish monthly, week long mood swings, migraines, cramps, diarrhea, back aches, exhaustion, tender breasts, lack of iron, heavy bleeding, and any other ailment that a woman has experienced during her period.  (I could only think of my symptoms or the symptoms of people I complained with during our menstrual cycles.  There are many more aches and inconveniences I'm sure.)  A female god might wish a  few of those things on women, if you believe God needs to give us trials to overcome and grow from.  Giving women most of those symptoms MONTHLY, no way, she would never be that cruel.  I mean even if you bought half of the idealistic crap they taught my daughter at her "Maturation Tea," like what a blessing or wonderful part of nature it is to be able to have children,  you still wouldn't wish it on your daughter or friends. 

Speaking of pregnancy, would a female god make gestation nine months?  (I know, don't tell about how long an elephant is pregnant, right now I'm on humans.  Animals and gods are a whole other discussion.  Unless, the female god is ruled by an elephant spirit, then maybe it all makes more sense.)  I doubt it.  Who would choose so long to give up their body?  That is what happens, not everyone seems to comprehend that (most men.)  A woman's body gets nauseas, exhausted, fat, bloated, achy, and sore when she's pregnant.  That just what her body does.  She also has to give up any bad habits.  I think smoking is a bad thing and I didn't drink until after I had kids, but if I had I would have given those up.  Of course if the man in my life happened to have those same vices he need not quit, just smoke outside perhaps.  Sometimes we even have to give up good habits and things it's okay to love.  Like cats for some people or sports for others.  I had to give up hockey, both ice and roller.  Okay, I still scrimmaged with the kids during their roller practice for several months, but I couldn't keep it up for long.  None of my male counter parts have ever had to make that sacrifice and it pisses me off. 

So, in conclusion, I will restate that God is not a woman.  I would not, nor any woman I know, make women have a monthly period or give up their bodies for nine months of pregnancy.  The hell that is "mother nature's little gift" is not a present I would pass on if I was in control.  I am not, however, in control as I stated in the beginning.  The emotion has overtaken the logic in my brain and that is why this idea of God and his sex has kept me awake.  Venting this unneeded knowledge has calmed me somewhat.  Thanks.  Now should I try to sleep for an hour or just start getting ready for work?  I'm too tired to make that decision.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tattoos and Thank-Yous

These tattoos were inked Christmas of 2010.  The book spines have my children's names on them.  They are both on my lower back.

"Mrs. Johnson?" one of my third graders asked as I was bending over to tape student work to our classroom door.            
  "Yes?" I inquired, turning to look at her.      
"Thank you for teaching us math" she said with a hug.                                                      
Surprised, I squeezed her back and thanked for the compliment.    
 "Are you enjoying that I assignment?" I questioned, "Is it a little challenging, but fun?"
   I was thrilled with her seeming enthusiasm for the math assignment.             
"No," she replied, "I'm just reading your back.              
 "My back?" I replied puzzled, "Did someone stick a note on my back?"  Third graders would think that a very funny joke to pull on the teacher.                                                                                    
 "No," she answered and pointed to my lower back, "your back!"                                                    

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Important Discussion About The Fresh Beat Band

"When did they get a new Reid?" I said as I got dressed yesterday morning.  This brought my husband into our bedroom to watch the t.v.
The Fresh Beat Band was on, distracting Hewson while the rest of the family got ready in the morning.  Being lazy, older parents this time around, Nick Jr. is a babysitter at our house much too often, and is always part of our morning routine. 
Mike watched the t.v. for a moment.  "Didn't he have an English accent before?"  I asked.  Reid didn't not appear on the screen right away.  Mike grabbed the remote and rewound the show to find Reid.  He pushed play when I said, "There, that's him.  Aren't they calling him Reid?" 
Mike watched for a few minutes them answered, " Yea." 
I replied, "Those are the type of clothes Reid wore aren't they?"
Mike murmured agreement and commented, " The hat is different."
"It is?" I questioned.  We discussed the hat for a few moments.  At some point our 13 year-old daughter had come into the room.I noticed her shaking her head.
"What?" I asked.
"Are you guys really discussing this?" she said.
This made me smile.  This coming from the same girl who had been singing "I just want to go bananas, na-na, na-na, na let's go bananas..." the other morning in my classroom before school.  A song frequently sung by The Fresh Beat Band.

Yes, we were discussing whether or not The Fresh Beat Band had a new actor playing a regular character.  After all we spent almost every morning with them.  Just as when she was about Hewson's age we discussed whether or not we liked Steve or Joe better on Blue's Clues
We're parents and whether we like it or not, often our lives revolve around are kids.  Deciding whether or not there was a new Reid was similar to me asking her who she liked better Jacob or Edward?  (She's only seen the movies.)  Or pointing out to Rilyn that his music had a definite country twang and having him explain it wasn't country, it was folksy and blue grassy.  (A.J. said it was country folk from Utah County.)  Whether their three, thirteen, or sixteen, I find myself discussing and pondering things that I mostly because I'm a parent.
Someday when she's a mother and I'm long past babies, I'll probably find myself researching or debating what to do to get a baby to sleep through the night.  Not because I need to know, but because it will be important to her.  Also, I'll get to smirk when she's discussing the latest preschool show.  And a character change will warrant a discussion because she's spent so much time with the characters of the show.

Hewson just came in to asked to play Nick Jr on the computer.  I said after I was done writing my story.  Logically he wanted to know what the story was about.  When I told him The Fresh Beat Band he started singing, "Friends give friends a hand..."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I Did Over Summer Vaction: A Report From a Teacher

   As August comes to a close and the school year zooms towards me, I find myself once again awake during the wee hours of the morning.  Why can’t I sleep?  Sleep eludes me because my brain is much to busy.  There are too many things to contemplate: lesson plans, seat arrangements, kids clothes to buy, new tattoo ideas, money and where, oh where, did the summer go?  I will soon be greeting my new students, in a new classroom, in a new grade.  (I am not feeling stressed, I am not feeling stressed.)  As I greet this new batch of youngster and get to know them, the first topic of conversations typical begins with, “What did you do this summer?”  So to calm and focus my mind I will give my report on what I did this summer.
    I worked three days a week tutoring students in math and reading.  I enjoyed the opportunity to work one on one with kids and focus on their needs.  It’s a nice change and helpful perspective to experience after working with 20-24 students the rest of the year.  Also, I’m a teacher, therefore I need the extra income. I spent many hours each of those three days a week planning tutoring lessons.  The other extra hours I found myself at school I used to move into a new classroom and become familiar with Class II.  I’ll be teaching second grade for the first time this year and there is a lot to learn.
    I spent MANY nights this summer having “School Dreams.”  These are common for teachers to experience.  However, my dreams started in June.  In my dreams I’d often show up for work and it was the first day of school.  School had started earlier than I expected and my classroom wasn’t ready.  Other nights they’d rearrange the building plans, change my room on me and I couldn’t find it.  One dream had me cramming a bedroom into a corner of my classroom, like a college dormitory, where I was expected to live throughout the school year.  I then also had to fit my normal classroom full of books, desks and shelves into the same space.  They moved the offices into busy hallway spaces and I trashed their cubicles out of anger.  Changing grades and classrooms has been a large part of my dreams.  My dreams rarely strayed to the norm where I frequently spend time yelling at three particular in-laws.
    I went to some fun concerts this summer.  I saw Michael Franti with my sisters.  Concrete Blonde and Carlos Cornia with Mike and his siblings. Kings of Leon with a whole bunch of family, including my teenagers.  I enjoyed each of these concerts and wish I had more money to go to more concerts.  We were supposed to see U2 twice, but Bono got hurt and they rescheduled.  Live music was a highlight o my summer.
    I made a deal with my 13 year old daughter.  I love to embarrass her.  I tease, but I’m also very frank and ask lots of questions.  I tease that I’m the “after school special” mom.  Sex, drugs, rock and roll, no topic do I avoid.   I want to be honest and talk about the pros and cons of temptations and choices she’ll have to make.  Then I want her to make smart, hopefully logical decisions.  Finally one day as she was brushing me off with her, “Okay, okay, I know, I know. Mom please stop talking.” 
    I said this to her, “I’ll bargain with you.  You can annoy me with your ‘Please, please,’ begging and your ‘ It’s not fair’ pouting, and I can embarrass you all I want.”  She gets to be annoying, I get to be embarrassing.  Mostly it’s worked.
    I went to my 20 Year High School Reunion.  I’m one of those people who gets excited for these things.  I like people and facebook has made it even more exciting to see people you talk to often.  Of course, instead of losing 50 lbs. like most people do for these types of things, I gained 50 lbs., but that’s life.  I still loved seeing people.  Especially people who hadn’t been there 10 years ago.  I had the best time talking to a guy who remembered me better than I remembered him, but he was the most fun to talk to.  A good friend and on again off again boyfriend throughout high school had seemed to drop off the face of the earth, then suddenly he was there to see again.  I had a blast and wished I had more time to talk to more people.  Unfortunately, I didn’t want to make my ride stay up too late.  It made me think 10 years is way too long.  More people remembered me than I thought would.  I’ve changed a lot, it was fun to see people’s reactions.
    After my high school reunion we had a family reunion of sorts.  It didn’t go very well, and unfortunately, how poorly it ended up was not a surprise to me.  It was tiring, took a lot of avoiding, watching what I said and trying to buffer people.  It was survival mode week for my family.  Feelings were hurt, offenses were taken, but I really don’t know how it could be avoided.  There are many perspectives and I don’t know how they’re ever going to coincide.  Looking back I think my wish is that more people would have stood up for themselves and each other.  I just worried about the consequence of how my actions would effect others.  It was complicated and remains so.
    I didn’t write any books this summer.  I’m a little disappointed.  I just didn’t seem to have time.  I didn’t blog much either.  Again the time seem to slip away.  One of my favorite and most powerful experiences of the summer was a writing opportunity with my sisters.  I am so proud, overwhelmed, and grateful for the experience.  It was truly and important event in my life.  We wrote a five part series telling our individual experiences with my dad’s cancer and death.  I think it was excellent writing and unique in the view from five different perspectives.  If you haven’t read it check out early blog post here @ or my sister’s blog  I’ve been amazed at people’s reactions and it was a great bonding moment before the later storm of the family reunion.
    Well, now that I’ve gotten a lot off my chest, maybe I can go to sleep.  If I could just stop imagining and designing the two tattoo ideas I have in my head.  I sketched a little bit.  Also, my family (hubby) will not be thrilled that I’m obsessing over these sudden creative urges that I can seem to stop planning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mom's Side: The Final Voice

I cannot express what an incredible experience writing my story and reading my sibling's narratives has been.  Today my mom shares her perspective.  Here is the final voice from my family's encounter with cancer and the loss of my father.

To read my children’s comments on their father’s death has been a very painful experience for me, yet I know at the time all this was happening I probably could have changed nothing. I cannot explain to anyone how devastating a cancer diagnosis one January day so many years ago was for me. I was forty years old and my oldest child had just gone to college, years of working to make a marriage the best it could be had finally reach the point of having a little time for ourselves and seeing our children begin to progress to delightful self sufficient individuals. In within a few moments my whole world changed forever. The fear and anger I felt that day are something I will always remember. I remember calling my friend on the phone and just bursting into tears. I cried off and on for the following three years. How could this be happening to my husband and our family?

From the beginning of his diagnosis we had always felt my husband’s illness would be terminal, having a sense of this does not make it any easier to realize it is true. It is a path which changes over time and as it becomes more prominent it is harder and harder to have a normal life. My heart aches as my children write about not being able to talk to me as their father’s illness progresses. Towards the end of his life my life was in complete disarray for many months before. I was not only watching my husband become extremely ill day by day, I was also dealing with the knowledge my father was very ill and I could not be with him, because of Lyn’s illness. I was so torn between the two most important men in my life each one so very ill and I couldn’t leave one to be with the other.

By September of 1993, my husband’s illness had progressed to the point where he had tumors on his brain stem and in his lungs. He had tried chemo the April before, but the results we had hoped for did not continue. The doctors were quite frank and told us not to expect anything beyond the first of the year. After dealing with an illness for such a long time, I was torn emotionally; there was a part of me wishing my sweet husband could be out of his pain and this nightmare could be over and the other part of me who wanted to cling to him as long as I could.

One morning eleven days before Lyn died we received a 5:00 a phone call telling us my father was dying and to come quickly. Sitting with my father for his last few hours was probably the most therapeutic experience my husband could have had. When my father died it was as though he realized it was okay to let go, that the world around him would survive and he could move on.

I can’t even recall the next eleven days very well. We attended my father’s funeral, relatives on my side of the family came from Utah and my very social husband was not even well enough to socialize during the evenings or at the family gathering after the funeral. All of the sudden his life seemed to be drifting away. As the days progressed, his breathing became more labored and he needed a breathing machine for oxygen and he could hardly function. More and more he used his narcotics to control his pain and he was growing weaker every day. We spent many hours just holding one another and talking of little or nothing, but enjoying quiet moments together.

On the day he died we started at the doctor’s office to have his lung checked and ended up at the hospital so they could help him breathe, our few months turned into a few hours. When I called Meredith we both expected him to make it for at least a couple of days from our discussions with the doctor. I never thought it would be a couple hours later I’d be calling her to tell her that her father had died.

Close friends came to see Lyn for the last time, by the time they arrived he was unconscious, the wife sat down next to his bed and held his hand, she was holding his hand when he drew his last breath. I rarely admit how sad I was not to be the person close to him during his final moments or how hard it was to have to call my children and tell them their father had died or to greet my two youngest who were bringing dinner with the knowledge their father had just died.

When I returned home there was a group of people waiting to offer comfort and help, yet my greatest wish was to be alone, to cry and grieve for my losses of the last two weeks. Unfortunately life doesn’t allow this process and it was a few months before I could face my personal pain and loss.
I often tell people how much I miss my husband and my children wish they could share their life moments with him, but I will always be grateful for the sweet experiences we shared during his illness and the precious life lessons learned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mindy's Story

When I think of my father, the strongest memories I have are of the way he smelled of Old Spice and the outdoors, the dark mustache he always wore, the warmth of his generous smile, and the deep, soothing timbre of his voice. I once had a substitute teacher in high school who distinctly reminded me of my father. I felt a dual reaction to this realization. A part of me wanted to sit and stare at him forever, soak in the familiarity of him. Another part wanted to curl up in a corner alone and cry because I realized the sharp memory of my father's face was fading and would continue to dull over time. 

I was ten years old when my father started experiencing mysterious pain in his legs. Looking back, I am not certain which is worse: watching someone endure pain without answers  or knowing for certain that they have a rare form of cancer. His diagnoses came somewhere around my eleventh birthday and it seems that I should be able to recollect the exact moment my parents broke the news. When it comes to my father's illness, however, my memory seems to be broken in some way, shattered into disconnected fragments.

The way I remember things, dad endured multiple surgeries over the four years he was ill, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. In some ways, cancer treatment became a regular part of our lives, bringing with it both despair and moments of hope. When I think of those days, I can distinctly hear Dad in the bathroom, retching violently, clearly in agonizing pain. I recall watching him grow pale and frail,  confused as I witnessed someone I saw as so spiritually and intellectually strong become so physically weak. I often try to replace memories of him lying on the floor or curled up on the futon in pain with healthy, vibrant images of my father.

As I've discussed Dad's illness with my family over the years, it's become clear to me that everyone expected dad's death but me. My parents never made empty promises to us. They walked a fine line between helping us to understand the reality of dad's illness without unnecessarily burdening us. I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been for them. To this day, I hate those moments in films when a parent promises their child they'll never leave because I know this is a promise they simply can not keep. 

My father was sick for four years, with frightening news of new tumors, difficult treatments, and times of recovery. His illness became my reality and, while I did not want him to suffer, I was not prepared for his death. I lived from day to day and did not want to imagine life without him. What others recognized as signs of a terminal illness, I must have internalized as another difficult part of the cycle with hope of recovery again. My father suffered a great deal, but we had wonderful, cherished times together as well. I recall watching Dad lose every bit of hair on his body, down to his eyelashes. But then hair started to grow anew, returning to his head soft as a newborn baby's. Hopeful in it's own way.

I, frankly, don't remember a sudden turn in Dad's death, meetings with Hospice, or recognizing that he was letting go. This gap in my memory disturbs me, but I feel helpless in recovering it. Perhaps reality simply became too much to internalize, so I protected myself. This Pollyanna strategy worked in its own way over the next few years, as I tried to comfort myself with platitudes of faith, reassure others that everything was okay, and take on other's happiness as my responsibility, whether they asked me to or not. It eventually failed me in college, when the weight of my feelings became too great of a burden and I struggled through debilitating depression.

I carried guilt over the day of Dad's death for years. I was 14 and hanging out at home when my mom called from a routine check up to tell me that they'd found new tumors on Dad's lungs. To my shock and dismay, they checked him into the hospital and gave him only the weekend to live. Devastated and overwhelmed, I asked my mom if I should tell my sister, McKinzie, this news or wait to let Mom and Dad explain things to her. Mom, in her kind way, relieved me of that burden and told me I could wait. 

McKinzie came home from work and I told her Dad was in the hospital, but nothing else. We didn't rush to the hospital, but actually stopped to grab Taco Bell for lunch on our way. When we arrived laughing at some silliness, Dad was gone. I felt for years that I'd robbed McKinzie, my fellow traveler of those years, of the small bit of preparation she deserved for that moment. Years later, I revealed this regret to her and felt both shocked and relieved to hear that his death did not come as a surprise for her. I, alone, seemed woefully unprepared for Dad's death.

While I wish I could have spoken to my father one last time before he died, I am grateful that I saw his body on that hospital bed. It may sound odd, but I understood in that moment that our spirits and bodies are separate. I kissed his cheek, but knew that his spirit was no longer there. This knowledge confirmed what I believed about life after death, as have sacred, quiet moments when I've known he is not permanently gone. As I've struggled with grief, longed to know him as an adult, and wrestled with the loss of him, this knowledge has sustained me.