Saturday, September 20, 2008

And The Blustery Winds of Change Blew ...

That's the title of the last chapter of my Craig book, it's been on my mind a lot lately, 1. because i'm still trimming the fat of verbose from it's body & 2. as a one time English major i find that just as the main plot and theme of any good book is intertwined symbolically throughout the story so to goes life.
In my book the change marks an end of the Revolutionary era and new dimensions of the Early republic - a place where people have to be flexible and have resources in order to navigate swift economic and social changes that occur from the upper class down. It is not trickle down economics it is more like a flash flood and quick displacement of people. In my life - well that's pretty obvious.
Sunday the wind was almost a welcome addition, it had been, and was still, so hot. There was an eeriness everywhere, people tried to smile as they held their hats atop their heads and remarked on the weather. Leaving church, my hands holding down my skirt, I am sure I said a hundred times "Yes - it is a blustery day!" Who ever thought there would be a hurricane in Ohio? The soft buzz of electricity fell silent (and stayed silent for days on end). As the wind reeked havoc outside there was little to do hunkered down on the inside - I read Bernard Bailyn by torch (not quite as romantic as it may sound lol), I soaked in a candle lit bath steaming with the last hot water and lavender milk. I eat up time with honey, mud, and Dead Sea salt -exfoliation, waxing, plucking, and moisturizing. There was some interstate texting until the battery died, random ceiling staring, cards with Friends, and an intense game of get the ball with Nadi... though the ball wasn't a ball but the torch light on the wall, carpet, and ceiling.
Of course the wind was only one small part ... the aftermath was yet another. When day broke the following morning the damage left was unavoidable. The air smelled burnt from random fires come to smolder in the neighborhood. Shingles and trees lay with an assorted variety of other debris - everywhere. Not counting the park and river walk along my run 70 trees had been severally damaged, ripped out by the roots or simply snapped in half and discarded like twigs. There was a great deal of cleaning and sorting that needed done by all able body hands. Simple staples like new groceries, light, news, and email became unobtainable luxuries...

It wasn't quite the organized manner in which I wanted to begin my graduate studies... It wasn't a lot of things. It was however a big mess. I made myself of use to the neighbors haling branches and trees to the curb. Getting started was hard - there was just so much to do. I could not help but see a symbolic reflection in the wind tossed mess and my life. What mess was already beginning to collect at my feet thanks to the changes I had brought upon myself? The thing about creating a mess is your bound to have to clean it up - alone. Having days on hand without electronic interruption when I found myself sifting through my own little mess. Though 3,000 men were shipped in to get the buzz back in the power lines I started to wonder if perhaps the storm itself couldn't be an opportunity to ponder and regain lost ground - to sort through this mess.

Teaching Orientation began - it was a nice added bit of normalcy amongst the mess. Muddling the waters a bit more or perhaps clearing them, I happen to have met this really great guy at orientation. Normally I wouldn't have spent any time with an art history major - but he just struck me right. I ended up spending a bunch of the day with him and invited him to join me for lunch with some friends - we inadvertently had the same orientation schedule where I found out he was ... LDS. Of course. It keeps happening to me... again me seeing the symbolism... is this like spotting a bit of light in darkness... is this HF way of showing me back to the road or Rod? I prayed lol in my head right in class... is this what this is? But the other church felt right and this one does not? and so here I am in a steeping pile of I don't know what afraid to go either way because I just don't know what it all means or if it even means anything. Without power or street lights you start to notice there are an awful lot of stars out there...

Dear HF ... can you hear me now?

Monday, September 8, 2008


I went to the Methodist Church today. The organ filled the Sanctuary with familiar and wonderful music. In the Methodist church music is of great importance and each song is sang as though it were a prayer with a resoundingly warm Amen at the end. My heart swelled with joy, my soul revelled in peace.

This feels a lot like "going home".

Growing up I went to the Methodist church. In my family religion is important (along with being well read, politically active and serving ones "community" ). Each person is responsible for actively forging their own testimony and in the process forming their own independent relationship with God. As a result we have Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Agnostics, Unitarians, and Jews in our numbers. That said, the Methodist church is a special place across the whole. (I'm not sure why because historically my family is Hard Core Baptists, with a great great grandfather who founded the first in Texas) The Methodist church is the place were we gather to mourn our loses and to bless, give thanks and welcome in new life.

This is a church were growing up you are taught the basics and once you have them down to ask questions, to really analyzes what you read and hear. This is a place of spiritual and intellectual growth and evolution where the world and scriptures are seen as having far more gray than black and white. Interpretation is up for grabs. This is a church where ministers only stay for 4 to 6 years allowing for congregations to hear mixed views and can arrive at independent conclusions. A place that was often challenged for spending less time on scriptures and more time on active Services. Of course it was also at this church were I realized that the position of Choir Director might be the best hiding place for the anti-Christ.

Perhaps some of you do not know, but when I was much younger this was also the church I wanted to dedicate my life. It was an announcement that hit much of my family twice as hard as "I want to be a History major" lol. My grandmother looked at me as though I had just asked for a sex change operation! Looking back on it I think it was bad timing in their eyes. I had just been accepted to CMU early, I was being offered scholarships at a number of schools, i'd just won the presidential award and it was the same year my bookcase oded on writing awards, crap that was the year I even won the stock exchange game lol. I think they thought the only limit to the sky were those of my own making and I was endanger of doing such. I think they thought the opportunities that were piling up on my lap were things few people ever saw and Seminary well anyone could go to seminary.

It would have been a different kind of happy life But you know I think there are lots of different Paths to happiness and life is all about finding and then traveling them. These are things with which I have not thought of in nearly a decade and yet as soon as I began, the emotions, connections, memories they were all right here. I think sometimes we feel as though there are clear places and paths that in parting we are somehow forbidden or unable to return. I think most often out of pain we attempt to abandon those things which are closest to our hearts, those things which have made us fundamentally who we are and the things which can never be made truly dormant within our souls. The trajectory of life, everyone, is never straight forward. Inevitably we will run into ourselves and what it means to be us along every path we take. I think what I have taken most from this crisis of faith is that when you struggle to stave off the few things that make up the fiber of your being well it begins to feel a lot like trying not to breath. You can't do it forever or at least I don't want to.

On a slightly side note, on my afternoon dog walks I've found quite an inspirational and relevant Baptist pastor on the radio, Alistair Begg - check him out Truth For Life: Listen Online. (It has nothing to do with the fact that he is Scottish lol though as he speaks I do picture him looking like Carson Beckette (Stargate Atlantis)... I was a captive audience...I swear it was totally unwilling! l)o

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Freedom, Crap-tastic Freedom

I thought I could sort this matter out myself but everyday it seems I wonder back to the drawing board with new thoughts to ponder.

Many of the people I am surrounded by live a very different lifestyle and drinking is a prevalent aspect of that lifestyle. It isn't just that half of the Giant Eagle is filled with alcohol (to the point I think it is missing quite a bit of the food selection)- there is a whole other culture to it. People drink outside lol sometimes when they go for a walk they bring them along. People tend to offer you a drink when you are at there house, even if it is noon. A common built in kitchen appliance I have frequently noticed is a small refrigerator especially made for wine. I have only actually seen people with pop once - and it turned out they were mixing something brown into it. So there is me trying to fit in and at a fairly new acquaintance's house the other night when she offered me a glass of wine. I was thinking there is nothing stopping me but of course something did. In this and other instances it has become quite apparent that I still think like a Mormon and honestly there is no comfort to be had in the notion that someday that will fade. I wonder if in time my questions/concerns might fade? If I didn't fear losing too much of myself if that were to happen I would find comfort in it, but admittedly in leaving I am losing more of my identity than I realized.

An older sister, that I was never particularly friends with, once told me that she hopped I would stay in the church, that she knew sometimes I must find difficulties. She said in her life she had known several people who loved the church but ended up leaving it because of the culture. She said if everyone who doesn't like the culture leaves... well then how will the culture ever change? That story bought me an extra year... but I can't help but feel like to stay is to continue to bite my tongue... and that's just not me either.

Maybe I just need a break maybe I just need to miss it a little more... maybe sometimes Inactive just Means Inactive... for now... and not inactive and leaving.

And so this internal conflict rages still...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snared by Snicker Doodles: The Big Confusing Mess

The light tap at the door sounded Innocent (as apposed to the sinister creek of an ax murder creeping up ur steps late at night lol). I assumed it was a social call from across the street - I bypassed the peep hole and went straight for the handle to find 2 pairs of hands barring... baked goods... Snicker Doodles.... still warm. I had no idea what to say as two clueless sisters stood there refusing, or unable, to get the politely presented and subtle hintS as I delivered them one by one in heavily sugar powdered push offs.

I don't know these people and they don't know me - or the endless nights filled with questions that had no answers. The horrible and wretched feeling of being fundamentally torn to bits - regardless of which side my decision to stay or leave the church fell in. And there they were smiling, clueless... and I was standing there feeling miserable and inching back to square 1.

I can't explain my disdain for the types of Mormon Culture that add to the already extensive lists of things one must obey to really belong. They don't know me and thus won't understand the importance I place on polemics and being able to simply talk about things - openly. I was invited to join a group of devoted yet closet cafeteria style Mormon intellectuals and for a short bit that seemed to fill the void or at least it was a great relief to ask questions - get answers - to talk things out- and to know that other people saw things as I did - I wasn't alone in the torment. But not being able to be open about what I thought with people I cared about felt dishonest.

I'm not going to talk to people I don't even know about the list of things I don't have a testimony of like doing things in a ritualistic fashion. I'm the kind of person who believes saying prayers every single night at dinner only leads to empty vain repetition that adulterates prayers until they are simply words. I'm not going to sit with strangers and tell them that I'm sick of having to justify the church's history with D&C 132 - Polygamy. Sometimes there is no justifying history - you just say what happened and if apologizes have been made, ways changed you keep going with the story. But we haven't yet have we? So we can't keep the story moving - we have to stop - we have to explain. I want the church to stop explaining and say "Polygamy is Wrong" NOT "Polygamy is illegal".

If there is anyone who believes that people should not be judged for the sins of the "father" it's me. If your ancestors were polygamists - who cares?! Some people have blood lines to Crusaders, Moors, slave traders/owners, "Indian killers", Nazis, confederate soldiers...or just run of the mill crappy bad people.. having politically incorrect ancestors has nothing to do with who you are - as long as your not protecting or propagating their behavior. Admitting a theological misstep is NO biggie. The Catholic Church has washed it's hands of quite a bit of blood and changed scriptural interpretation many times - they are doing just fine- we can too. Polygamy is wrong. I know this because the part of me that sees the Good in it are the parts of me I don't let make big decisions. The fact is we better bone up on our position pretty soon because if you haven't noticed "poly-amore" is gaining popularity in the general population and if you have listened to any of the FLD's argument - they plan on riding on the coat tails of the legalized gay marriage. Polygamy could very easily become legal again... and as things are now I don't have faith in the stance the church would take. ( A side bar on Polygamy - yes it's in the OLD testament - but read between the lines - it tares families apart - Joseph's brothers hate him because he's from the "favorite wife" & what about Isaac and Ishmael ... maybe we've missed part of the lesson...and you know Check out Judges sometimes, just because something is in the Bible doesn't mean you'd want to partake in it.)

There is no cliff notes version of how I got to right here and now or why I think and am the way I am, these people wouldn't get it - their heads turn from side to side, like a confused dog, trying to make sense of the fact that I haven't been at church - Mormons go to church, that's basic and who would want to skip? So there they were standing at my front door trying to give me Snicker Doodles and not getting my shrugging shoulders, my polite indifference.

The Bishop's wife brought me flowers.... and then a member of the Bishopric showed up... and then the Sunday school president called... and a part of me felt "compelled" to go back. There is QUITE a bit worth staying around for actually and fundamentally I agree with MOST of what the church stands for. But how can return when I feel this way? Wouldn't staying be tantamount to supporting? and wouldn't biting my lip and showing up be like pretending that I have a testimony of things I don't? Wouldn't it be lying? Believe me, staying would be the easiest path to take - I get that. But there's a trade off and it's one I'm not sure I am willing to make. I've promised my family this is only a temporary move and we'll see what happens - it doesn't have to be permanent but I think I need to try. According to Plato a "man" who lives in a vacuum, who is never tempted, never forced to make the hard decision is not actually a good "man". The good "man" is the one who is tempted and chooses the right. Why chance it? I don't know... but I guess well see exactly where my integrity lies.

This is all just a Big confusing head spinning mess... The cookies were good though...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leaving the Church: The White Button Down Conflict

I have decided to go inactive. For my non Mormon contemporaries that means essentially I've decided to leave the church aka not be a Mormon. I'm not having my name removed from the rolls or anything dramatic like that. "What to do about church" has been an up hill struggle for nearly a year. I've made no secret of my dislike for most of Mormon Culture and in the end it all came down to White Button Downs.

Let's get one thing out in the open before we head down this un returnable path: When it comes to clothing I can be well... a bit shallow. I love "nice" clothing. Unfortunately most of what I'd give my right arm to own I'd have to pay for with exactly that because I cannot afford most of the duds that make me gaga and they do make me gaga. "Expensive" clothing has all the right little stitches and small details that, while You most likely couldn't pin point, do create an overall refined image. It's specific fabrics and fitted styles you can't just pick up off the rack. mmmm... BUT the one thing I will not and cannot tolerate is fashion snobbery or elitism. Clothing is something I like - I like lots of things - I don't expect other people to stare longingly at a pair of special collection boots at nordstroms...Or even to know what they are.

I am a huge promoter of dress for the job you want and Heavenly Father has endowed me with david copperfield like skills to tun a near empty pocketbook into something wonderful. The same research skills I utilize for school I utilize for shopping. The last outfit I purchased, navy pin strip dress pants and matching vest, went for well over $600 (on a scale of $ clothing this barley qualifies) But I got it and paid about what anyone would pay for something off the rack at the mall. I encourage people who are interviewing for jobs, going to conferences, visiting schools etc to fallow my lead - I also show them the tricks of the trade and have loaned out and or given away suites, gowns, and every day clothing. But church should not be a place to be seen or interviewed/judged worthy but a place of acceptance and community.

The White Button Down conflict all started when a talk was given at church on the importance of dress, clean shaven faces, and cleanliness. The Bishop had specifically asked it to be given But I did not feel it was appropriate at all. Actually I would say politics from the pulpit are more appropriate than fashion. Men should wear clean starched white buttons downs and ties preferably a suite. Boys should be in dress shirts, dress pants and dress shoes, older boys a tie. As for women's clothing - I like Skirts... but I don't understand why we can't wear pants... I mean wouldn't that be the ultimate in modesty? Why do men have to wear short hair and clean faces? A white button down - is that really a symbol of one's purity? I think shaggy hair can be cute & on the right guy a goat-ts got some adventure to it. But the fashion angle isn't what has me bothered by this bit of Mormon Culture it is something far greater, I really like White Button Downs BTW.

As the talk began - rows up a single mom, a convert, shifted uncomfortably in her seat. I felt bad for her. Things are tight in her house and she does a good job with what she has, she doesn't need one more thing added to her plate. Her coming to church is good enough. She has two little boys. Sometimes they wear dress pants - sometimes they wear clean jeans and polo's and there best tennis shoes. I would never wear jeans to church, crap I don't even want to wear them to school - but I understand that sometimes people have to make choices between providing the essentials for themselves and/or children and getting the extras like one day a week clothing or new "holiday" clothing and shoes. I don't think those people should be made to feel publicly uncomfortable regardless of there reasons for doing so. Some people just don't like wearing certain styles of clothing and what is wrong with that?
I also think it is absoutly ridicuoulse that Heavenly Father tends to choose men who wear suites to church to fullfill higher level callings?! And yet in many wards men who dress the part get those callings - this means only men who can afford a suite and are the type to wear them willingly will be in the pool. Why on earth would anyone want the same rules that apply at work to apply at church? Church is supposed to be Diffrent.
Apperance is personal preference and what about culture? What a lose it would be as the worlds fastest growing religion to have white button downs snuff out the vibrant colors and symbolic/historical imagrey found in the clothing of many nonwestern countries! And yet so often world wide the baptism of a new member is followed by the adoption of the standard white cotton button down. Why should the world conform to some silly Utah standard? Are the people in 3rd world countries less goddly because of their lack of hygeinie, the result of a lack of clean water, or the impracticality and costly nature of a white button down?
We send missionaries out and it is no secret most of the people who convert are from the lower class - we give them a taste of the "good life" - we encourage them to take the big dunk and join our wards... in many cases they lose whole lives in the process of becoming Mormons. They lose Friends, they watch as families turn their backs on them. They are often publicly ridiculed for their choice to become Mormons. There entire lives are turned around and sometimes upside down for the church and,while there is NOTHING in Mormon theology that suggests a dress code,we then also force Mormon fashion culture on them. If you think there isn't a judgment being passed or that people don't feel on the fringes - your wrong. I belive this cultural requirment goes against everything Christ stood for. Was he hanging out with robbers and whores and telling them ... "well first you need a hair cut, a good shave, a pair of dockers and a nice white button down"? or was he saying "live a good life and just love your neighbor"?

You want to preach modesty - fine... but white button downs - that's a line drown in the stand between you and them. Fashion should not be a part of Sunday talks, conferences, or ensign/friends articles. No way I want to be a part of that. I know your thinking... well it isn't like they are being asked to leave, people in jeans are welcome in the church... No they aren't - not when people are giving talks about it. Not when children are asking other children in primary why they are wearing tennis shoes. In this clothing has become a tool of exclusion and church should NEVER be a place of exclusion, especially not such a shallow one. I am not saying that this is everyone - I know more people than not who could care less what other people are wearing - but recently I've come to learn that outside of my own/old ward it is a much bigger issue. I feel compelled to make a stand against Mormon Culture, especially because I love clothing!

On a side note... I do have to wonder if this engrained bit of what not to wear isn't the same nonsense that has so many of the born LDS student, nonworking, population of the church racking up publicly funded debt on trendy clothing for themselves and their weed growing too good for hand-me down little ones. There is something that isn't just not right - but actually wrong with this sentiment.

I hope this is not a disapointment to anyone - But I wanted to be honest not "hide" my "new life" in another state. It was a hard and complicated decision and one in a few years I may even reverse. I'm going to the Methodist church and I'm taking a lot of Mormon theology and Mormon "rules" with me. I am in the process of making a list of what I believe in and the standard I am going to hold myself to throughout this journey, a kind of solid proclamation of me that will keep my hand firmly around the "Iron Rod". While this decision has nothing to do with theology in a way I guess it does... I don't want to worship Jesus anymore I want to be more like him and while I love my church - I think sometimes the culture gets in the way of being able to do that.

In my heart and soul I know this to be true.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fall Schedule or Oh-Crap - Ur pick, I opt the latter

Monday - 12:30 - 1:30 (Lecture for class I'm Taing)

11:30-1:30 Sections/Recitations
3:30-5:30 Class

12:30 - 1:30 (Lecture for class I'm Taing)
3:30-5:30 Class

11:30-1:30 Sections/Recitations
3:30-5:30 Class

2:30-5:30 Class

I Feel like this is a LOT but my advisor says "[I'll] be fine" - I hope he is right! We are on a 10 week term not 16 and I am wondering even how I will jugle 4 Big papers in 10 weeks. Normaly I space them out between THREE classes and in 16 weeks that is just a paper every 5 weeks. +I've got Comps/Generals and I've got no less than 200 more books to get through if not many more. This is all starting to sink in....

Sports? Really?

"It is about the sports not politics" - Screw That! If you put sports ahead of politics, not water cooler politics mind you but real world crimes against humanity and the utter lack of respect for human life than your priorities are desperately in need of a check. Are we really that ambivalent to human suffering that we can't even make the smallest of scarifies? Seriously?!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Taking it Easy"

I understand"taking it easy" means no midnight runs - but I didn't think it included walking to the park or river or across the street to my friends house or around the grocery store. Having worsened my injuries by doing said tasks "taking it easy" has now become a week long sentence - to the sofa and a stack of pillows that keep both my ankles propt up. "Taking it easy" means no pool, even if i just meant to hang out on the side with a book and I wasn't even going to do any laps. If there is a word that means after you have already been Bored and were thinking you might have a fun adventure right around the corner but instead you got hurt and are now stuck at home on a sofa between bright white walls of a townhouse that feel like it has been shrinking than that is what I am. I don't know if I will be better for the trip next week. BOO!

My legs ached a solid week before the move - I think it was that I had no time to run. Arthritis is a dull lingering pain and running is sometimes a very wonderful magic in issuing a reprisal to it. "Flare ups" are scary straw pulling events. Waiting for them to pass I am stuck wondering if they will or if this is the beginning of a physical dark downward spiral. An ankle injury, let alone two is equally as unnerving an event. Admittedly I've been warned that if i injure my ankle/s again that could be "IT" for them. I have never been able to picture what "IT" really means and so I have lived a life of bliss ignoring the doctor made list of forbidden actives like Soccer ROFLMBO. But now looking at two bandaged, iced, and well propt ankles... the idea of "IT" scares me.

It is silly & I will be fine. But in the mean time on my butt I will remain ... more than bored... but with a smile... Chess Anyone?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Same Crap Different Place

5 rooms less to clean also means 5 rooms less to fill with stuff... in what once took up the span of 3 rooms is now stuffed into one room that is only about 25 by 23 feet. The townhouse is and feels much smaller - but thankfully I spend more time outside of it's Bright White Walls. ergh.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Belief- O - Matic

Ive become stuck in an insomniactic slump & being vulnerable to the suggestions of a quite mischievous acquaintance decided to stop shaking the magic 8 ball and switch to a more scientific method of determining my spiritual leanings al la the Belief- O - Matic. The results are as follows

Needless to say I am quite relived that LDS came in at 11 (Hey I'm okay with 57% - then again I'm also 57% Neo Pagen?). That said I am thinking being a Liberal Quaker might be good fun. Someone once responded to my saying I was a Mormon by saying, "Well ... It could be worse you could be Amish or Quaker" lol oh the self afflictions of the spirit. So now it's your turn...(even though I am fairly certain most of you will land on 100% heathen : P)
And for goodness sakes people... sleeping during reasonable hours is totally over rated - totally!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Holly Kilt, New Friends, & Death by the Sandbox


Ahhhhh this weekend was the Irish Fest (the biggest in all of the US). I always think kilts are more Scottish than Irish, BUT they had quite a showing... Quite. There is really nothing like a nice Tartan. I took Soooo many pictures I felt like a dirty old man at the beach lol. I decided, however, nobody really fits out a kilt like Hamish (see Pic). I have come to learn this place has a huge Irish and Scots-Irish population and thus even a few LOCAL IRISH BANDS - which I am ALL ABOUT!


Not only are people nice here but you know how sometimes you move and the last ppl left a table behind and it ends up being perfect for you? Well that is how I inherited an entire group of ready made friends - just add water. The guy who lived here B4, now my LL, was a Phd Student who ran with a fairly tangled group of friends who live right next door and across the street - I seemed to pick up right where he left off. I like them and they keep me busy and the late night pool parties are a blast. I am pretty used to solitary living where you only talk to your neighbor once every few years - this is much better. Everyone comes and goes and a trip to the mail box becomes spontaneous gathering. I do think it is a little funny to get an email from someone whose computer is set up on the other side of the same wall as mine. Of course come Fall... back to the grind.

Death by the Sandbox

I have new reading spot under a huge tree right in the middle of a vast sprawling green park and field a few blocks from home. Which brings me two very important things.

1. I have to start reading again - I need to start getting my head back in the game. Not necessarily immersed in it... but in it none the less. The new term is approaching and I'm getting a little nervous.

2. I don't want to lose myself or the things that are important to me. I don't want to give up everything that is important to me for a PHD. I think it would be quite possible But I don't think it would be worth it. Now what exactly are those "important things" to me for which I have to learn to balance my work and time - that is another question but one I think I know how to answer IN PART at least for now.

What does 1 have to do with 2, let alone what I had been saying? I was engrossed in an incredible book today, Disposable People by Bales, when I suddenly realized there was a fire truck & ambulance right behind me in the grass in the park. I had heard them a bit earlier glancing up from my book as they bellowed down the street. I hadn't even noticed it pull up right behind me! A man collapsed. Their was chaos and crying as they tried to revive him. He was in his low 50's and had a heart attack playing softball with his church. I had just run past them a few mins before- they were all smiles enjoying a perfect day out loling and joking. It was only b/c another man passing me asked what was going on - That was the ONLY reason I even looked up and noticed. Everything about it was horrible, there was nothing I could do but sit and watch as a man's life ceased. Although the man succumbed to death I thank the Lord, for my own sake, that several members of the team knew CPR and had immediately responded. Can you imagine my guilt to think I could have been of help and just hadn't been? It was all a horrible event to watch and to make matters worse I had blown off church for No Reason and though I was praying with everything I had I felt ill prepared to pray for someone who needed it - I felt my prayers were ruined or worthless and while I could have served at least in that manner - I really could not.

and so the day ended with my locked up inside my head with the companionship of so many thoughts, the conclusions of which are as follows:

Life isn't going to stop and wait for me to get my PHD... I don't want to get so engrossed in my work that I don't notice what's going on around me. Simply It could never be worth it... there must be a balance - I must find it as well as spiritual peace.


Admittedly I like it here MUCH more than I expected.

I officially know my way around the area enough that today I confidently gave directions to someone else. I walk almost everywhere and have little use for the Jeep. The farthest place is the grocery/whole foods which is only 1.6 miles away.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Plumpy Nut Christmas

Over the last few months my hands have touched every single thing I own and although I'd say I've liquidated about 3/4's of my worldly possessions I've come to the conclusion It's just too much...

So although it is only July I am plotting out my Christmas Service Project - you know the drill. I am still in the organization phase but here's a heads up, this years theme is "A Plumpy Nut Christmas".

Plumpy Nut is a totally amazing high protein mixture doing wonders in the fight against malnutrition in Africa. To top things off - It comes ready made (no contamination risk), keeps long term, is easily shipped, and the kids LOVE it. The recovery rate in some areas have been reported as high as 90-95%, though I have also seen more realistic rates of recovery listed around 75%.

I think this project also falls really nicely in line with my year long project for social/economic responsibility ... I know it's not easy... there are lots of things I want too ( ... but you know there are an awful lot of people out there with actual Needs, we must always keep them in mind. It is always better to try and make some small difference than not to even try. I'd also like to organize something local too. I assure you don't need to go to Africa to find people with needs and things to do to help, this winter is suppose to be pretty bad and there are lots of people who will spend it out doors

So ... you have been warned.... More info is to come: )

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There & Back Again

Fortune Cookie Says:
"Follow that restless urge to find yourself." - perhaps this will be the montra of this "trip"

i'm laying belly side down stretched out on a mattress in the middle of my living room as i savagely dip animals crackers head first into steamy hot coco. i am a officially a month and a day off schedule - this is mildly amusing considering the notorious reputation i have for Leaving without notice and perpetually Returning late. i've got good feelings about going just not exactly about leaving or i guess staying gone lol.

The Move:

the house has been empty for quite some time now. in 1 hour and 20mins it's entire contents were loaded into a 17 foot truck, it was then driven 2.5 hours away were it was unloaded by complete strangers in under an hour! you can't beat that and it totally impressed my landlords parents (who dropped off the keys) lol "you mean that guy is a Bishop - in your church? And he's helping you move? And you never even met him?" lol that's just how we Mormons roll lol.

The New Place

despite my inability to stay gone - i do really like it there. i live in a small community, and my townhouse is a block down from a long and windy river walk, the river of course, and miles of wooded park. There's a rowing club and many of the homes dock boats right off their backyards. small waterfalls and cobblestone bridged over creek beds are abundant. the area is fairly wooded and tree branches arch over the street creating a nice cool umbrella of shade. where the trees are sparse their are gulf courses and ranges - the pga tour is currently right up the street. it reminds me geographically a lot like Miami Lakes - pancake flat. but with more of a N. Michigan like topography and in some lush marshes lined in weeping williows and purple headed thistles a bit of Georgia. The houses are more Lebo than USC and the people are the nicest. My first day here several people randomly stopped to see if I needed help getting situated and 2 people pulled over to welcome me to the area. this of course was much better than my welcome to USC, "Hi are your parents home?" The entire area is so quite - but people are everywhere walking dogs and riding bikes down the middle of the street. in another direction there is a small bz district with a Whole Foods and bakery and a white house black market and a Wolf Gang Puks. a block up in the other direction you can see the city sky line - it is really quite a sight. Of course I have a pool now and loads of running trails and a very nice very buff very single next door neighbor who seems not to own any shirts and would be perfect for someone i know.

The Old Place

tonight is my very last night under this roof, my very own roof. i love this house - it was everything i ever wanted. i know i still own it - it will still be my house - but i have a strong feeling it will never be my home again. and so i spent the last week on my knees scrubbing floors and up on chairs scrubbing walls to the point i am certain i have touched every single surface of this house. i am going to miss the many shades of brown and cranberry and light pinks and all the earthy greens... all the perfect fixtures and knobs. i'm never going to sit at night and watch the snow fall from my favorite chair in the sunroom... or sit too close to the fire all snuggled up to a yummy history book (lol yes some of them are so good you can read them by fires and in bathtubs) or sit by the pond and watch the koi... of course... it also means all that grass is no longer mine to bother and I don't have to baby all the different varieties of roses someone else planted... I am going to plant hydrangea and echinacea purpurea at the new house... and with Five less rooms to clean... i'll have much more time to do Anything else.

The New Ward ( the term ward is equivalent to saying like specific congregation)

in one word the new ward is dumpy in two words it lacks energy. The Bishop is very nice and seems energetic but the rest of the ward is just dumpy. the bishop said they had lost 12 families since spring - you think they would have been happy to have someone new among them. if they just had some energy ...or maybe smiled... said hi perhaps? I was standing their thinking... it's okay I read an article in the Ensign about just this sort of thing - i will say hi first! but no one was receptive. So the next week I went to the other ward... and it was like being at home - dental students and all - i found great comfort in that. And i met gobs of people and I thought I will be happy here! and so i asked the Bishop if i Could switch wards - I can SEE the ward boundary from my driveway! - he said he would like that and he gets the request often BUT i had to take that up with President Munson (for non LDS ppl - that means NO!) i am going to try the dumpy ward one more time... i am totally bummed out - totally.
I have officially become a landlord - this occurred on the same day my whole house A/C officially became Dead. lol of course it did.
And so life goes... i unpacked my boxes... i put them all in the shed for next time...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Girl in the Box

I've been living out these last few weeks in a physical Feng Shui state like metaphor. I've returned chaos back to order, sorted, de-cluttered, and discarded - much. Caught in the in-between of two lives I have found things that were easily and innocently misplaced. Not so much like uncovering a treasure chest, more like peeking between the floorboards and uncovering hairpins. Not just any hairpins, mind you, but the ones which slid between stacks of curls, your curls, holding each lock perfectly in place on that one perfect night. (Speaking of hairpins - remind me sometime to tell you the story of the prostitute's hairpins, perhaps valentines day -its a love story)

Of most interest I uncovered a cardboard box that has been shuffled from one place to another for so long that it has been warn soft with wrinkles and masking tape. Inside stacked heavy and high - stories, essays, poems, written in a dark, sometimes religiously saturated and often morbid if not macabre voice I almost didn't recognize. Some of these things date back as far as the Third grade lol and Most should be stacked a top a very hot pyre -totally. Though many of these were written within the last decade the voice struck me as foreign. It was really quite an odd and distant find. I hadn't recalled having won so many awards or even applying to college for creative writing in the first place, let alone the portfolio I sent in - or receiving a scholarship based on it. You' think having applications on the brain as of late it might have crossed my mind? The girl int he preppy short skirts and tall heavy doc martins was going to grow up and become a writer everyone said that - all the time.

While I remember in finite detail the moment when I "became" a history major (it was a moment that felt all warm and giggly and a lot like falling in love), I feel as though I am missing something important in not remembering the moment I stopped romancing the notion of writing a best seller on an old and loud type writer. Some people collect post cards, to remember where they have been, I collect moments down to the background music. I've been told it's just a quirk associated with how my memory works. But whether we realize it or not, whether we remember them or not, moments aren't returnable and you cannot give them away anyway - they stay with us all regardless of how detail specific we can nail them. Despite being emotionally a bit inept I do tend to be fairly good when it comes to peering into the small pin prick of clarity amidst an important one. I get their importance, maybe not exactly Why it was important but simply that it was. Of course the fact is most important moments are wrapped in disguise and enmeshed in everyday normalcy.

Having lost this one has forced me to consider my research - I don't do events, more or less I look at the interaction of ppl and life... what if there is no way to sift through an archive and pin point those life altering "moments" -the ones which end up directing the trajectory of life? Crap. What if all the research and footnotes in the world miss the truly important and singularly private moments that make all the difference in life. Crap.

Of course I have to wonder what it means to misplace ones voice or replace one with another? What if I never was a good writer and it was only that I had lived a life so different from most that I simply understood the world in different terms. How do you love something for so long that it becomes your defining quality... until one day in a moment you don't even remember it is simply gone?

And thus the quest continues for answers in the shadow of the valley where only questions grow.... In the mean time, I also found my Diadoras - mud still wedged between in the cleats.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What the Smurf!?

Unpacking to repack old boxes I hadn't bothered to unpack the last time I moved it came to my attention that ALL of my soft/stuffed SMURFS have been ... Destroyed - Death by unnoticed Water Damage. Thankfully the two 30 gallon containers which houses all of my Comic books, PVC guys, buildings and other random smurfy shtuff I brought back from Amsterdam was unscathed! Be assured I spent the afternoon putting off real work to ensure the safety of my "precious collection" Well I can't think of any other better reason for a god old round of Saturday morning smurfing ; )

***UPDATE*** Thank you for the out pouring of sympathy... oddly enough... as much as I love my Smurfs... after the initial WTS! I was okay... no Really. To be honest Except my ancient teddy "WishfullThinking" I don't Really like the feeling of stuffed animals (yuk!) They were easily obtainable on the Smurf-Market & as soon as any guy I ever dated found out about my collection they would be quite "original" & quite"romantic" and present me with one... unfortunetly I found the idea of snuggling with a stuffed smurf about as tempting as snuggling up to one of them and Thus I ended up with an old school sized computer & monitor box full of the little stuffed blue guys... lol Soooo Please...Thank you for the many offers but - No need to restock my collection just yet... especially not when all 60 gallons, minus the say 60ish new released figures I just picked up, are smurfing away their days at my sisters untill I arive back in town with my favorite three letters... P, h & d.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Blogging on the 4th of July

My house and their's is separated by a park of trees no less than a block thick - none the less it does not stop their crappy white fireworks from disrupting the complete silence and blanket of darkness required for me to sleep. It's well after 3 and the big buff Marine and a league of other barrel chested guys pickled in beer are bellowing the national anthem... yawn...

When I was still a very little girl I hated the Star Spangled Banner. I was after all the same very little girl who in, stiff dark blue hand-me-down jeans, a white turtle neck, and Rainbow Brite suspenders, was dragged to anti-nuclear everything protests, social marches, events like/including hands across America and sometimes late at night, in pjs, across town somewhere to a basement coffee house where people talked about politics and religion and I ate bagels and drank coffee.

To a very young, very adorable pigtailed version of me the Star Spangled Banner was just about another war we didn't even win. War was something I was quite aware of. My dad was Career Military, he had proudly fought in Vietnam and remained in the army up into 90s. I had heard enough stories to fill the creative blanks of my little mind.

War scared the crap out of me.

I was not yet in Preschool when I first heard about the on going Civil War in Lebanon and far too young to understand there was a mighty big difference between the small Middle Eastern country, Lebanon, and Mt. Lebanon, the small upper middle class suburb of Pittsburgh I called home. Many nights I laid awake my eyes peeking out the window next to my bed - through the tree branches that hung over my window I searched the skies for military helicopters, the shrubs for skulking camo clad enemies. I logged many hours in the wee hours of the morning playing dead, laying deathly still, taking small shallow breaths, practicing the art of not reacting to anything weather they be tickles or a cold steel muzzle pressed against my head These were important skills to have if ever ambushed or drafted to fight - I would simply fall on the battlefield and hope they didn't take pot shots on the dead. What can I say I was a battlefield coward.

It was during one of those long nights that my sister poked me with her bony elbow and informed me of the difference in the two Lebanon's. I laid awake that night as well, but this time it was a different kind of awake, it was the kind of awake that comes with new found knowledge. I realized that while there was no war raging in my backyard that where ever war raged there might be a little girl who couldn't sleep because there was in fact a war in her back yard. The thoughts and questions that came to me that night stayed decades later - some still today. On many sleepless nights I have thought and rethought and come to many very different conclusions on the subject of War and Wars, past, present, and future.

This in mind, my dislike for an anthem that seemingly glorified war is quite easy to follow. That was until I actually learned more about the circumstances surrounding it's having been penned.

History Lesson: Everyone knows Frances Scott Key, & "some other guy",wrote the Star Spangled Banner as prisoners of war on board a warship off Baltimore. It seemed Baltimore was about to be sacked when low and behold the sun rose and old glory was still beating in the wind. What most have forgotten however is that the War of 1812 & a moment like that marked a substantial moment in US history. The 30 years that followed the Rev War had been tumultuous to say the least - insurrection was abundant at every turn, economic depression, politics, state building, debts, and the idea of one union itself threatened to tare the new country apart at the seams. As always Super Powers France and England continued to battle each other - caught in the middle of their melee stability was at a premium for the US. Having no hindsight on unfolding matters there was no guarantee of what would happen. The Revolutions and Republics of other countries had been short lived. The country was forced into war. In the end the US stood up against a world super power - held its own, forced a stalemate and became a global contender. The moment captured by the Star Spangled Banner wasn't just against all odds a battle had been won but that by the skin of its teeth this country was here to stay (not that it wouldn't have it's problems). The republican experiment was no longer just an experiment.... it's a song about survival and the strength of rebounding.

In the days after 911 a flag raised over ground zero brought meaning to the Star Spangled Banner as a beacon hope amongst rubble. I thought over the songs historic value, and the then current circumstances and the message fell together not nice or neat but in my lap none the less. Things hadn't been perfect or peachy when the US entered war in the early 1800s and they weren't perfect or peachy at the turn of our century but I thought you know as long as old glory still finds her way up and symbolizes the unique liberties of this land then we have the tools to maintain/return/make good the potential and ideals set forth by this country in her making. We live another day and thus have another chance to make things good. What rises from the ashes might just be better than what it replaces ... 200+ years is not a long time there is still an oppertunity to realizes what could make this country great
now that's something I can get behind...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Diet: Ice Cream & Oxycontin

The Tooth fairy paid her very last visit to my bedroom Friday night leaving behind a two inch pvc smurf -ahhh she knows me well. I personally think she made out on the deal a bit better than myself. I mean I had 3 wisdom teeth yanked...and got 1 smurf for my troubles! But perhaps the state of the fairy economy is not so different from our own, maybe even fairies need to buy petrol - I mean just b/c they can fly doesn't mean they have to all the time - i mean we can walk and yet we don't.) Maybe wisdom teeth just aren't worth what they used to be on the used body parts market she deals in. The Doctor on the other hand was far more giving. He did not stop at numbing my gums but set me on a collision course for a near nonfunctional drug induced mind numbing fog.

I'm on Oxycontin - I didn't get anything this strong when I had an ORGAN removed a few years back! My mom is terrified I am going to get hooked on the stuff lol which is funny because there is nothing fun at all about being on it. It feels a lot like having Mono. My mind is wide awake but with a slow and steady tug my thoughts they begin to slip to the back of my head - collecting - growing heavy, heavy like my eye lids that bat slower and slower until their no longer batting but simply closed and i've fallen asleep in a bubble filled tub. I've touched down in lala land and snuggled up in the warmth of the precipices at the back corner of my thoughts. But I'm never at a loss for a crazy great dream where you can almost taste and certainly feel so this is clearly not a pharmaceutical benefit of oxy.

So here I am living my days asleep at the wheel. I wake occasionally. i creep with a yawn like slither out from under the pool of blankets on my bed. Wrapping a light blue sheet around me like a toga I try to muster land legs but I have the grace and fiances of knees caps smacking off the corner of an end table. Drowsy squint eyes skim the world or at least the ice box for my true drug of choice and only thing which makes sense of having allowed a strange man to take pliers to mouth: The reward - the recreationaly addictive bowl of skinny cow mint chocolate chip ice cream with reduced fat smushed up Oreos.

Before the kitchen lights have ultimately faded to black I have once more returned to my labyrinth of thoughts and dreams .... licking a smudge of mint chocolate wonderfulness from the corner of my lips.

*Update* I have no recollection of writing this - actually - I don't remember anything about that entire week lol which is just totally Crazy -totally. I mean What was I wearing???? I hope I at least matched! Lesson Learn: Never mix oxy and Valium together...

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Molly Mormon" vs. the "Rouge Sheep"

Being a Mormon is hard work, it isn't the rules or the lifestyles or all the scripture reading or even 3 hour church services that make it difficult. It's trying to fit perfectly into a mold that's been forged by other people.

Sometimes it's the basics that nudge me into annoyance - Your sitting their "having drinks" with friends and everyone wants to know what exactly the Mormon is drinking.
Your sipping on a Diet Coke and someone suspiciously and inaccurately says... "I thought you weren't allowed to have Caffeine?!" You make a pot of Herbal tea and you have someone reading tea leaves over your shoulder trying to identify them as not really herbal. It's almost as though there is a pot of gratification waiting for them if they can catch me in action - sinning lol. That said one time I am sure they will lol because although I try to do and be better - i'm not perfect. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes people, including me, even make the choice they want as apposed to the choice which is Right - *Gasp* on purpose. It could be anything from shopping on Sunday, Speeding, or even lying to your husband about exactly how much you spent on that new dress. It happens. It's life. You live. You learn. Knowing is half the battle - that's what I think. As much as the ever watchful attention my secular comrades annoys me - it also strengthens my Mormon identity. They remind me that the bar is set high. But I don't think if I were Catholic or Methodist they would care in the least about my sinning or not sinning why does being a Mormon make that different?

Where Doctrine is concerned people have no problems telling me exactly what I believe (and of course why it is wrong). I think that is funny because sometimes I'm not even sure of all the different things that I believe - i just believe them. Like I 100% believe in a combination of pre/post existence and reincarnation. I also believe that life is made up of elements that are both fate and self determination. These things are not very Mormon but they also aren't actually excluded from Mormon doctrine either. I don't know how on earth these things may work or any of the details but I know them to be true in my soul. My testimony is something that is alive and evolving and ever changing and growing. I want to ask them what religion they are and do they believe and interpreter every single thing their leaders or minister or Sunday school teacher does in the same way? The funny thing is most of the time is that the people on the other side of these questions are people who are not religious themselves anyway - so why do they care? Me, I think religion is really a personal journey of beliefs and understandings. I don't think I could ever conform 100% to the beliefs of any one person or group - but you know one of my beliefs is that I don't have to. I know everyone says that Mormonism is different b/c it can't be served Cafeteria Style - but in coming to know some of most devote Mormons I have also come to understand there all different ways they understand and pay tribute to the churches teachings - the Words of Wisdom is the easiest example to point at.

A non Mormon once remarked that I didn't seem very Mormon. I'm certain there are members who agree - There's an older sister who says hello to me as her eyes lower to scan my hemline - im not sure I've ever made the grade where she and the minority of others like her are concerned, but they are the kind who get disjointed by boys with longer hair or girls who want to wear pants to church. It is a small contingent that misses the big picture in focusing on the small details. I can't imagine that God cares what people look like when they show up at his door - I tend to think he is just happy they came. Cleanliness isn't really next to Godliness - it's just Cleanliness. I don't suppose Jesus had many haircuts or took many baths... or wore pants for that matter. Mind you it's a small contingent but even so it taints the water of inclusion. Worse yet however are the non members who equate my "individualism" to a status "Bad Mormon" or "Renegade Sheep." I wouldn't go that far - I think being a Mormon doesn't equal being a sheep - but I can certainly see why people might think that because I think there are some Mormons who think that. Not me. One of the most amazing things about my church is the necessity it places on individual scripture studies and forming ones own unique testimony. This can't help but encourage intellectual thought and analyses - if not out right demand it.

Between both groups in my life there is one consistent conclusion - put me in a room of female Mormon's and i don't blend in. When I think over the list of differences between myself and them the list is endless and overwhelming. Worse yet there's nothing really to bridge the gap. I envy the standard Mormon female the glowing integrity, the way she caries herself, and all that she is feted with in talents, skills, patience which she dedicates to the upkeep and progress of family and community - a noble deed. It is a perfect little mold but one i just don't seem to fit. Each and every time I try - I find myself horribly unhappy. I always fail.

This year has been a struggle of self identity for me. It seems like I've been boxing with my own shadow and neither one of us will win. Amidst all of these on goings it seems many fixtures that were axioms of who and what it meant to be me have fallen away like the polls of a cage. What used to be me no longer seems to be an accurate depiction of what it is to actually be me. The chasm of dissonance widens and the only conclusion I come to is that non Mormons make me more Mormon but other Mormons seem to make me less. How odd. Being stuck between two worlds doesn't suite me, and why should it - in neither one am I able to simply just be happy with myself. That's really all I want to
be. It's like living between a rock and weird place. Perhaps this moment of self analyses and transition into grad school & moving have been placed side by side with more purpose than irony. Perhaps this transformation is more metaphorical than physical. Perhaps within these muddled waters I might make some changes that will enable me to be the person I want to be...which is a person at peace with the person she already is. This of course requires some changes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Question...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Ran

It's hand to hand combat with a pale yellow sports bra,a blue tank top, and a yellow long sleeve t-shirt slipped on overhead, a pair of really warm fleace gray running pants and a swift tug and a tie of my blue and yellow trainers - & i'm off.
The constant steady rhythm and motion is not something i especially enjoy but as the sun returns from it's winter quarters it becomes something i do particularly crave. It's not the destination or sometimes even the time v distance that matters but the unavoidable and quite perspective that comes from sliding my feet into my very own very warn pair of sneakers.

Okay so i'm not going to break any records but there is something that feels fast about running, something that reminds me of being free. Free to move around without that yucky old wheelchair or crutches, something i often take for granted. it's free to let my thoughts run off just as far and fleeting as they dare adventure. It's setting fresh goals - and then crushing them! It's pushing myself farther, for the sheer reason of reminding myself that I can.

This month my goal was run 100 miles in a month and tonight as I was nearing the end of 100 and the beginning of 101 twelve years worth of adversary whistle wearing gym teachers came to mind. Despite my varsity soccer and swimming status, I am certain my dislike for working up a midday sweat earned me a proclivity toward civil disobedience, one which nearly cost me my summer vacation - every year, and eventually almost my diploma. Those gym teachers with their gym teacher smell and their ironic gym teacher round and lumpy shape would share quite a laugh if they knew that these days I actually get a bit cross when forced to skip a run.

Ahhh...How things can and do change....this of course is aside from my continued dislike of totalitarian women in sweaties and bad hair cuts... that has stayed pretty much the same :P


Friday, May 2, 2008

"The End"

After 264 pages and 601 footnotes Craig was Finally put to rest today leaving behind one very happy Me!

According to my Microsoft Words Stats: This file has been on my screen for 336 Hours or 14 DAYS. I have opened this document 132 times. There are 452 paragraphs & I have been happy with the placement of exactly 74,328 words.

This last month it has taken me longer to write a single page than last year it took me to write an entire chapter. I don't think it was negligence but perhaps avoidance. It is hard to end a life on paper to say this is the end. I remember the day in the archive when I reached the end of his papers. It is a family collection, 16,000 items extending from 1765 to 1890. Craig's papers, letters, receipts, notes just stopped and a new generation of Craig's and their letters began. It wasn't just that life moved on, it was knowing that he would become forgotten. As someone who has been touched by the cold hand of death more than her fair share of times there was something very final and lonely about this experience in particular. It left a great and quiet sadness in me. I drove home without the radio on (very un-me, my life is immersed in music). I have felt a great responsibility in helping Craig tell his story, and although his death was but one small event of his life it seemed such a personal moment. Putting his death back onto paper felt as though I were dressing the body for a wake as opposed to what I wanted to do, bid him farewell on his journey to Aman. (psst it's a Tolkien reference)

As for me - It is not necessarily the ending of a project I don't like it is more the idea of starting another. At the end of each project I look back on the collection of stints where I ran my keyboard hot with good ideas and It scares me to think I will have to do it again & again & again because What if ... What if I never have another good idea...what if this time it was a fluke... what if I already played my best card...worse yet...what if I never had any good cards to play to begin with. This is the thought that scares me as the sun begins to set on any given project. This is the thought that makes Me (the worlds biggest lets-just-do-it-right-now-non-procrastinator) suddenly gain a back burner.

But for now, for this very short moment I'm going to sit back & as one dear and evil friend reminds me... feel like "amazing...crap" ;)

...Of course there is a great deal of editing to be done now...but that is a monster of a very different breed. For now I am just happy to say I am done.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Fool's Gold: Ethanol

Fact: In ONE YEAR 1 man could live off of the amount of Corn it would take to make ONE full tank of fuel...

Fact: According to USA today for all cars in America to run on ethanol we would need 261 Million gallons A DAY! and at full capacity (i.e. - if ALL available farm acreage in the USA was in corn production for ethanol) we'd still only have less than 100 million gallons a YEAR!

Fact: As it turns out Ethanol isn't as pollution free as you thought (oh and BTW - Neither is your plug in car - electric cars run clean... but the power plants that fuel them are WORSE than Petrol!). According to the EPA Ethanol plants produce high amounts of Carbon Monoxide, Acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acrolein - none of which are good for you know things that live... and breath.
Fact: According to Time Magazine currently 20% of the Carbon emissions being ... well emnmited is being done so not because of Cars but because of the deforestation, for the production of ETHANOL and Sugar Cane, taking place in the Brazil Jungle (You may also recall the Jungle by its other name from way back in the 80's & 90s when we were trying to SAVE IT FROM BEING DEFORESTED - the RAIN FOREST. But Boo Who saving the Rain forest is old school but not so much yet that's gone Vintage and is back IN again.)

Fact: Ethanol is only truly "renewable" to a point. Crops need rotated or fields need to replenish the nutritional value of their soil and production at full capacity means all available acreage is being worked continuously and sucking that value out of the soil and thus at some point yield will begin to decrease and we do not actually know the long term effects of long term land abuse.

Fact: Ethanol is not as efficient as Petrol. According to Consumer Reports mileage decreases by about 27% on cars that run on Bio Fuels as apposed to those running on Petrol.

Fact: Ethanol is already more expensive than Petrol and is not cost efficient to produce. Companies that specialized in Ethanol have turned to "alternative" bio fuels to supplement their output because thanks to Ethanol - the cost of corn and wheat have increased so that they are no longer profitable crops to work with.

Fact: According to the director of the EPA there is NO way to accurately calculate your "Carbon Foot Print" and most things done by intuition - like purchasing locally grown produce are inconsistent with what is actually eco-friendly.

The Biggest Fact: We've got to stop problem solving old school - i.e. exchanging one Problem for anther. We've got to start using our brains to come up with REAL and LONG TERM solutions. We've put the Cart in front of the horse and although the horse is standing there looking at the cart and getting it ... somehow it's blowing right over our heads. The health and well beginning of the earth - it is a great and noble cause to champion but must be done with appropriate, economical, logical, scientific actions, not knee jerk emotional reactions. We all must become stewards of the planet but we must do so responsibly. I have argued the case for lessening our impact on the earth for most of my life and while it is wonderful to see it has now become the thing to do over the last few years the hysteria surrounding how to "Go Green" has become as stylish and sensible as buying 5 to 8 year olds $1,000 tickets to see Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) lip sink.
The leap for ethanol is still technologically premature (as are most gas-alternatives), yet our jump to conform, to be trendy, to allow the market to dictate the best solution is creating new problems and leaving ethanol's distillery stink and yellow stain on the world economy in escalating prices and wheat/rice/corn food shortages around the world.

Even if we could grow the amounts of corn required seeing as the food shortages we are already creating should we? There is obviously a considerable moral issue at stake if we do. Turning food into a energy increases it's value substantially and thus moves it farther out of the reach of those who already struggle to survive. We are only just feeling the crunch here in the states and while we have the conveyance of perhaps just nipping our splurges here and there to fund our necessities that is a luxury not all the world enjoys.

What about other forms of Bio Fuels? As it stands now anything organic or dropped off the back end of an animal - will require substantial land. Before we encourage developing nations to begin deforestation of their invaluable resources in the rain forest or farmers to utilize their land for fuel as apposed to food research must be done to see what the repercussions of our actions will be. Of course Displacing people and animals are also ill side effects of programs which demand large sums of land to supply goods to a significantly smaller group. Bio Fuels only seem to "work" b/c they are currently low in demand, compared with Petrol. To rely only on Bio Fuels of any kind is to create an environment of dependence were shortages and higher/unstable costs rule the market.

First we need to decided what our goal REALLY IS. Neither 1. wanting to be independent of other countries for energy or 2. eco-friendly earth saving solutions are solved with Bio fuels. If these are the problems we are looking to solve we need to define them and then construct appropriate and humane solutions - based in logic and science. I think the answer is going to be harvesting, harnessing, and somehow retaining solar energy but I'm going to leave it to the scientists - the people who know a heck of a lot more than I do.
The answer should not be emotional, political, or necessarily stylish - but one made out of the necessity and with the planet's best interest at heart. If we treat this issue like a trend, like the cute mini-toy dogs all dressed up and shivering in a purse-carrier so popular 2 years ago - Than that's what it will be - a trend and when it becomes old or boring, just like those dogs it will be discarded.
As long as we remain uninformed and uniformly trendy and afraid to speak out against green fallacies and the PC Police the vote buying politicians and corporate vultures will swarm above us pimping their ever increasing amounts of new and improved unregulated "Green" crap. Down below we'll buy it all up and think we are doing our part - just like the toxic and hazardous Compac Fluorescent light bulbs we feel ohhh so progressive for jamming into our sockets. Companies will always be glad to fill our " green needs" but it doesn't mean their agenda is ours... though it sure as heck is Green. Right now they are leading us by the nose and deciding for us and we cannot afford jumping on the hybrid wagon a moment too soon, because the planet cannot.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lost: Inspiration, if Found please Return

I am STILL stuck on page 261...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I Boycot China & the Olympics

According to BBC News in China last year 3 Million people took part in over 58,000 mass protests. China is one of a small list of countries I have never been to. Honestly I'm not sure over a life time that I've really given China much thought until last year. It wasn't the never ending recalls that brought the plight of the Chinese people to my attention but it was the the Bodies exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center. I was working for the Carnegie at the time and the first time we discussed the exhibit I was taken back by it - That Said in the name of Art and Science I was able to find tolerance for a "noble and higher cause" within the slightly distasteful display. It was not long after however I began to learn of the Crimes Against Humanity that take place in China everyday. So While I am not in China I quite my job to stand behind the 3 million Chinese who have taken a stand against the kinds of things this exhibit stands for - Western Ambivalence and East Asian Oppression.

These are just some of the reasons why I have been promoting consumer social responsibility (aka boycotting exhibits like Bodies, limiting the purchase of China made products, and by informing others) in the plight for human rights so that all citizens of the world may live... think ... believe... and speak freely. I support this with all my being.

1. Followers of Falun Gong (Which is a system of beliefs that work toward the "cultivation of virtue and character", "moral standards for different levels", and "salvation of all sentient beings.") are tortured and imprisoned daily for their beliefs. According to the UN over 65% of all torture cases and over 50% of all Labor Camps in China are comprised of Falun Gong Followers. This truly is a philosophy built on peace and the betterment of man through each persons own individual development.

2. China has no voluntary organ donation system. The majority of organs harvested and transplanted are done on the black market to people from all over the world who are able to afford them at about 16 million dollars a pop. Where do these organs come from? Although the exact figure is still unknown many of the people who have conducted these transplants have admitted that the organs were harvested from LIVE religious and political(people who have spoken out against communism)prisoners. In 1996 the Chinese Government reported that it had participated in over 20,000 transplant of kidneys alone. UN Report:

3. Slavery is a reality in China. Men Women and Most often very small children are stolen from the streets, removed from their daily lives they are forced to live in bare hovels, they are tortured, raped, maimed, and fed bread and water, and worked from dawn into the night daily on tasks of hard manual labor in agriculture and mines. To their families most will never be heard from again.

4. According to CNN there are 1,100 known forced-labor camps in China. They are "are driven by hard-line ideology, Communist Party directives and the whims of local cadres. It is designed as a repressive mechanism to control and, in effect, eliminate anyone whose political, religious or societal views differ from those of the Communist Party."

5. All of this before we discus the unregulated and environmentally unfriendly acts that pump pollution above china in unprecedented percentages that corrupting the entire worlds air supply or the rampant sex and child sex trade that employs children as young 4 years old (and maybe younger) and encourages pedophiles from around the world to vacation there or the infanticide & gendercide that has created a gender gap that in some regions has meant a population of 70% males and 30% females. The mutilation of females. The sheer lack of value placed on human life. The 3000 Christians that have been put to death in the last 7 years for speaking out. Or that there is no Freedom of speech, and the internal media is used to propagate propaganda and a tool for oppression of ideas. After an even longer list of Chinese issues we come to the recalls which placed children around the world at risk for nothing more than pennies more in profit.

As for the Olympics I have mixed emotions. In general I don't support the Olympics because of their fundamental ambivalence to human suffering around the world. In one hand I understand that increased revenue can assist impoverished countries But what is good for tourism is Never good for long term sustainability and habitation of developing or oppressed countries. Tourism to oppressed countries only heightens the power of the economically and socially empowered people of the ruling class. In instances like the Sex Trade and Child Sex Trade (popular economic stimuli in developing tourist countries such as Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia) aside from social and emotional ramifications they counter act economic development by denying children the necessary education and opportunities needed to economically mobilize themselves and their families long term. Instead these children become fodder for sexual deviancy until their youth has been spent and their futures blackened and decided. Even in countries were the child sex trade does not operate (openly) children are kept from school in order to make and sell trinkets on streets and in open markets. These sought souvenirs not only reflect the local culture but the culture of oppression & while tourists can not have enough of these goods to showcase their travels they have little heart or consideration for what they have really bought into.

I fear that as the times get closer to the Olympics the Chinese government will become more desperate to silence the heroic voices that have begun to rise above the oppression. During the last Olympics over 300,000 dogs and cats were put to death in order to make the city appear cleaner and more welcoming to outsiders - That was in Athens a country that does not already have such problems as China. For a country already plagued by torture and oppression what drastic measures might the Chinese government take in an attempt to maintain their "image"? That Said, I cannot help but hope that having a spot light on China will if not, empower her people, will showcase the social and inhumane injustices before the world and perhaps with a few billion behind them China may become free. Join the Fight Speak on behalf of those who cannot, limit your purchase of China made goods and make the economic statement that we will not conduct business or be bedfellows with those who commit atrocities against man kind.

An inside look into China:

PdotSdot: I am not so foolish as to think that these things and worse do not happen in other countries of the world... i just figure i'll tackle them one at a time.