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I’m Mormon. Hi! Did you know?

27 Aug

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I keep thinking about an article I read. An article on Mormon women and polygamy.

I’m Mormon. Hi! Did you know?

You probably knew.

I’m from Utah. I have four siblings. I don’t drink alcohol. The signs were all there! And yet, I avoided forever and ever and ever (six years) talking about it on this blog.

I didn’t want to be a Mormon Writer. I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want have to defend the Mormon church for things I disagree with it on.

In fact, I already wrote this post! Here it is:

Reasons I’m scared to write about being Mormon on the internet

  • Polygamy
  • Fielding any question at all about polygamy
  • Feeling like I must field religious questions in general
  • Judgment
  • People thinking less of me
  • People suddenly disliking me?
  • People thinking I agree with everything the Mormon church does
  • People wanting me to talk about everything the Mormon church does that I don’t agree with
  • Angry people who hate Mormons
  • Angry people in general
  • Being attacked for something that is so personal and so intricately linked to who I am, who my family is, my history, my culture, my language

Reasons I’m posting a list about being Mormon on the internet:

  • This is my experience
  • This is my story
  • I am Mormon
  • Even if I never talk about it, or write about it, or blog about it…I am already a Mormon writer, a Mormon blogger, a Mormon person

Whew, feels good to put that out there.

Or does it?

I’m wary about opening this part of my life up at all online. The internet can be a dark place. The Mormon church can be a dark place for many people, sometimes for me.

But, as a good friend pointed out to me, I am already a Mormon Writer whether I ever talk about being Mormon.

I am a Mormon. I am a writer. It informs my background, my choices, the words I write.

Whew.

Here I am.

Now, back to the article.

I didn’t think I would reveal my Mormonism by talking about polygamy.

Polygamy is something I would prefer to never talk about. Ever. Remember my list?

(And to clarify. The Mormon Church does not practice polygamy. I only have one mother, thanks for asking.)

But this article.

It’s an interview with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Mormon feminist at Harvard. She actually coined the phrase we see every women’s march, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” She talks about how the quote has been taken out of context, how she supports the new context too.

It’s an interesting article, should you decide to read it.

You should, probably!

But it’s actually the non-polygamy stuff I keep thinking about. (Surprise! Angst and embarrassment, remember?) It is the stuff she says about religion in general, and our religion specifically that stood out for me.

Recently I was on the sidelines of a conversation about religion and, well, how dumb it is. How it’s all made-up and arbitrary and it’s ridiculous that people believe and worship and follow these made-up, arbitrary rules.

I hear the people in this conversation and what they are saying.

I understand the people in this conversation and what they are saying.

And yet, Laurel said what I wish I had had the words for in that moment. What I wish I had articulated. She said:

My study…doesn’t turn me toward abstract questions about the nature of God so much as it turns me toward deeply meaningful questions about how human beings manage to live together in the world and to make reasonable lives out of inscrutable suffering. Those are such contemporary and profound questions.

“How human beings manage to live together in the world and make reasonable lives out of inscrutable suffering.”

Pow.

Wow.

She goes on to talk about her relationship with the Mormon church. She says:

It gives me many, many grounding values in my life, particularly the values of community, of sharing, of not being invested in being important or wealthy in the world. I don’t always live up to those values, believe me. I try very hard, and they – and I come back to them constantly. And it also – some of the most profound issues have to do with the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of human beings, the sense of fatherhood and motherhood of God that we’re in this together, and we’re in this world to, I think – and this is just such a difficult thing to say – but we’re in this world to make it better.

That to me is a fundamental revelation that Joseph Smith delivered. And believe me, he didn’t always make it better, but the value that he taught and that has been passed on through many generations to those of us who are privileged to have had that faith tradition is, you know – we’re supposed to try to improve things in whatever way we can in the world around us.

Well my golly, my gosh, look at me using Mormon terms here, but pow. Wow. That’s it, isn’t it?

I’m Mormon and I’m trying to be better.

I’m Mormon and I am privileged to have had that faith tradition.

I am Mormon, hey, did you know?

(You probably knew.)

My Protected Writing Time

11 Apr

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I’ve been sick for four months.

I’ve been sick for four months not in a chronic, (or) real, (or) life-threaning way, but in that awful way where you’re blowing nose on everything and you’re losing your voice and people are like maybe you should be at home? And you’re like, listen if I were to be at home every time I felt like this I would be at home every day, SIR.

I’ve been sick for four months.

It’s a bum start to the year.

2018 is that very pretty vintage car that looks so nice, but every time you try to get it going it kind of begins and putters out. Begins and putters out. And you spend all your time in the shop thinking, wow this is it?

This is what’s happening?

I’ve been sick for four months.

Apparently I’m not alone. A girl I follow on Instagram keeps giving updates to her own illness.

stillsick.com she says on her beautifully lit photo of a green plant

stillsick.net I say.

I’ve been sick for four months.

At one point I thought I would do a library blog. I even own the space.

jillianlibrarian.com

It sounds so great, right? I want to do that!

I want to be that librarian! That person!

I could do a post on National Poetry Month! On my book spine poetry lesson! And my magnetic poetry boards! The blackout poetry interactive station!

I want to write about that.

And I want to do so much else. I want to do it all and there’s no time and I’m at a place in my life where I have the most time I’ll ever have and there’s no time for jillianlibrarian.

And so I sit here writing nonsense on jillianlorraine.com in my 35 minutes of protected writing time. My 35 minutes set on a timer.

And so I sit here and waste the timer time on this time. Timer.

I’m watching Home Town. Now that Chip and Joanna are gone I have to do something to fill the achy brrakey void. I have to emotionally attach to strangers.

Rob refuses to be the HGTV couple with me.

It’s not that hard, I say. We’ll just move to a small town in the South. Restore it home by home. You’ll have to pick up some carpentry, maybe construction skills. I’ll use my natural design eye I’ll soon acquire.

It will be a hit! I’ll be a maximalist who loves color, a unicorn in the white-everything world!

We’ll buy homes for $30k!

Does it depress anyone else to watch people buy homes for 30K? Like what? What is happening? That is a decent rent for a year, fools.

I am the fool for living here.

We are all fools.

I have 16 minutes left on that writing timer I told you about. I could be working on the two books that I’ve begun in the last year. Or my wedding stuff that I keep avoiding. Or maybe a deep personal essay that I could send somewhere.

But here I am talking about Missisippi real estate.

Here I am, being me.

I did begin my wedding writing. It goes like this:

It has been over seven months since that day in Cape Cod.

Seven months in Santa Monica.

Seven months of meal planning (seven months more than ever before).

(Seven months of marriage.)

In those seven months, I’ve consistently had on my to do list, “write about the wedding.”

I know it’s some of the most important writing I’ll ever do. Writing that I’ll want to look back on again and again.

That’s probably why I’m avoiding it.

(Definitely.)

Because it feels so Important.

This writing will live on. Long after the memories have faded, long after those who karaoked forget exactly what they sang, my words will exist, telling people what it was like. Informing our children, and our children’s children.

Oh gosh, I’ve spiraled.

It always comes back to that maybe.

This is what I get for having a mother who is big on family history. I see how words live on. How an obituary is what we remember of a person. How a poem about an absent father informs how I see a great grandmother.

Words are powerful and they are something I have to offer and so I sit here paralyzed.

There are 13 minutes left on my timer.

Me Too

21 Feb

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A few months ago I sold my gold bookshelves on Craigslist.

The way it all worked out, I was home alone the night my buyer could pick them up. I did the things I know how to do instinctively.

I gave several people information about where I was, who I was meeting, and when to worry.

I turned on all the lights in my apartment.

I pulled out my mace and had it in my hands when I opened the door.

I was greeted by a woman, about my age, holding the exact same pink breast cancer foundation mace I have.

We looked at each other and our ready mace and laughed.

“Mace!”

“You have mace!”

“I have mace!”

Our relief was so palpable we hugged.

By the end of the transaction I’d helped this new sister strap the bookshelves on her car. Learned about her relationship with her grandma. Laughed again.

We were friends. We were safe.

I’ve thought about that moment a few times since. How I prepared myself for the worst-case scenario. How another woman felt the same way. How we live our lives prepared for the worst when it comes to our safety as women.

I haven’t written about the Me Too movement. I don’t write about a lot of political things here and then I wonder if I’m doing it all wrong.

A podcast I listened to shortly after the election quoted something along the lines of, thank goodness Anne Frank didn’t write about trees.

And while I know I am not even remotely at all ever in any way in the same situation as Anne Frank, I’ve wondered about what I write. Am I avoiding the important stuff? Am I only writing about trees?

And feel-good television?

And spring cleaning?

I think about this mainly when I imagine my future children. Young girls asking me about this particular moment in history.

What was it like when women started to speak their truths? How did it feel?

How does it feel to be a woman in this political climate in general?

The important questions.

And so.

I guess I’m here to begin in some small way.

To say Me Too.

Me Too in countless ways for countless reasons big and small.

Me Too like every woman I have ever met.

Me, me, me, Me Too.

Yay for me

25 Jan

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Inspired by a segment on this great podcast

Yay for me!  I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. That sort of crazy clean where you toss out everything that’s expired and realize, wow, medicine expires a lot quicker than I toss it out.

Yay for me! I wore my mouth guard last night.

Yay for me! I made a hearty Italian soup on Sunday to prep for the week which brought up bigger questions like am I only prepping to live and never really living? And yet I perservered through the existential crisis and prepped to live and live I shall, with hearty soup, every lunch this week.

Yay for me! I’m finally reading a book a friend gave me years ago and it’s really nice to slow down and enjoy what I already have.

Yay for me! I got rid of that blue hoodie I kind of hated.

Yay for me

One Project At A Time

19 Dec

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Today in TJ Maxx in between trying on Hawaiian print heels and convincing myself I don’t need a neon rainbow light, I maintained a conversation with a friend. I told her how I’ve become very crafty lately. I’m making pom poms and illustrating my words and putting photo albums together.

I mentioned the next projects I have in mind.

I’m about to become a BeJeweler!

Flower patches will adorn my jeans!

“I’ve told myself I will complete one project a month,” I said just as she spoke,

“Just remember, one project at a time.”

It was a subtle difference but it struck me hard.

I give myself Goals! and Deadlines! even for things that are supposed to be fun. Things like being creative.

It never occurs to me to let things happen naturally. To work on one project until it is complete and then move to the next. To breathe without deadlines. To do it as my life, as my pace allows.

There must be a structure! A plan!

Having fun was never so much fun!

We continued our conversation and our walk through TJ Maxx. I also dodged a 7 lipstick multipack purchase (but so cheap!) and white go-go boots (but so needed!). I did buy a pair of sunglasses because that is how I invest in myself and my future for the low, low price of $8.

The whole time, though, I kept thinking about my goals and my plans for next year. How I manage somehow to regulate every aspect of my life, every bit of pleasure and spontaneity. Every last inch of my creativity.

How I can ease up a little.

How I can go along with the natural pace of my life.

And so, in case you need these words today too:

Just remember, one project at a time

My Word For 2017

16 Dec

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On our wedding night, lightning struck our inn.

As we jumped over puddles in our formalwear, the inn’s manager told us just how intense the rain had been. He was sitting on a chair wearing galoshes and a waterproof coat. He recounted how the power had gone. How lightning had struck. Not just nearby. Not in the area.

Lightning struck our inn.

The next day as we looked in the newspaper and read the articles about it we laughed.

What did it mean?

If rain on your wedding day was good luck, what were flash floods and lightning bolts?

Well, we’re either the greatest relationship of all time or we’re going up in flames.

This year I got married. It makes sense that the word for the year was committed. I got engaged. I pledged to love someone in sickness and in health. We karaoked in front of our loved ones in torrential downpour. I put on birthstone wedding rings. There’s no going back now.

And yet, I committed to more than just Rob this year.

I committed to my work in libraries. In taking a job that I love, one where I can grow as a librarian and as a person. One I’m committed to.

This is no in-between phase, this is it, baby.

I bought the first couch of my life. A yellow thing that’s surprisingly easy to lift and surprisingly comfortable to sit on for being in the clearance warehouse at Living Spaces, La Mirada.

I committed to a kitchen table. That round one everyone has from Ikea?

To a new therapist. A new city. A new health insurance plan through an employer.

Because I have a single job right now! A job I love!

(Did I mention?)

(Did you know last year at this time I was working four different part-time jobs?)

Mainly I committed to a life.

I didn’t think it would take so long and then on the other hand I think, wow, OK I’m here. Am I here already?

I’m reaping the benefits from the long hard in-between phase. From the jobs I hated and the bad relationships I loved and the places I didn’t want to live and the versions of myself I didn’t want to keep.

I fought for this life. Therapy session by therapy session. I cried and I struggled and I sacrificed and I gained a bunch of weight because, listen, I don’t always cope in super healthy ways like meditation, and here I am.

In a life I’m committed to. A life I love.

I’m all in, baby.

Bring on the lightning.

 

PS: What was your word this year?

My words in 201620152014, and 2012.

We’re Getting A Cat And Other Updates

12 Nov

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Oh well.

Hi there.

Clears throat

Sorry, I’m just feeling a little self-conscious.

It’s been a while since I’ve stretched my blogging fingers. I’ve almost forgotten why I did it.

Do it?

I keep thinking that maybe I’ll have some great idea that I’ll need to write about and that will snap me back into it like a sugar snap pea!

And yet.

I’m sitting here on a Friday night at 7:33 PM. My laptop is at 10 percent so I’m writing at a weird angle so I can charge this baby.

Rob is watching the Celtics and cooking pasta in the other room and I’m reading three books at once. One is too emotionally draining and has to do with, oh I can’t even speak of it. Another is scary and so I keep taking breaks for the emotionally draining one. And one is due at the library. That one is the most neglected.

Is that me sticking it to the man? Neglecting the library book I actually should read?

Not playing by the RULES.

I turned 30. Remember that?

I actually spent the month before I turned 30 writing poetry about all I had learned in 30 years of life.

Excuse me while I find some of it.

OK I’m back.

You ready for this?

 

Buy the great big underwear

granny panties

waistless

size up

buy the great big underwear and start living the great big life

 

Hey that one was pretty good!

What about this:

 

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face bef

 

And finally:

 

A poem about bangs

Don’t do it

 

DON’T TELL SYLVIA HER REPUTATION IS BEING THREATENED.

 

OK, ok, what else?

 

I’ve been really happy lately.

Let me rephrase that.

I’ve been content lately.

It’s different than happiness, or at least how I see it. Happiness is an inherently temporary condition, one I’ve been chasing for most of my life, refusing to recognize it as an impossible standard. Contentment, on the other hand, is more a feeling of enjoying the right now. It’s not flashy or even that exciting. But oh my Oprah, what a relief!

What a rare treat.

Let’s see.

Let’s see.

We’re going to get a cat.

That’s happening after Christmas.

A cat was part of the great, ongoing pre-marriage discussion of What We Want in Life and Can We Give it To Each Other.

Rob is just about the biggest animal person the world has ever produced and I have had a lot of bad experiences with animals and so a cat.

A cat is where we landed.

Listen, I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with men and I still got married so I do have some level of faith and belief and hope.

I have faith and I believe and I hope that I will learn to love a cat.

And now here we are.

I recently bought a fluffy cat makeup bag at Forever 21 that looks like what I imagine our fluffy cat (non makeup bag) will one day look like.

I then converted said bag into a purse because nothing can be easy, and then. And then! I realized I’ve become the mother who buys matching clothing for her and her kids without even being pregnant. I’m that cat mother! Heaven help us all.

Other things.

Otter things.

Do Unto Otters, have you read that children’s book?

Political turmoil. Women getting angry and making a difference.

Hey! We’re here, we’ve always been humans and we are powerful and we are FED UP HEAR US ROAR.

It’s a hard time. I want to record it. And I also want to live. I want to feel content and not always hurt and riled up and angry and confused.

I want to live.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday.

That seems as good a place as any to end this thing.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday and life is good and I want to live it.

I’m living it.

Life As Advertised

10 Oct

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This morning we walked to the library and then the farmers market. I was getting hungry so I told Rob to go on without me.

Save yourself!

Soon, I was in a movie theater getting their large popcorn/large drink combo. Rob discovered me, some time later, on a bench, smiling boldly. “Someone’s happy,” he said, before asking if he still needed to bring popcorn back from his showing of Blade Runner later in the day.

“No, but I still want pancakes.”

“Well, I knew that one.”

We got back home and made brunch together. I’m in charge of any and all baking tasks. This time: banana pancakes. He’s in charge of eggs and bacon and choosing out the good basil.

He put on Madonna Borderline because we had just watched Will and Grace and Borderline was a whole plotline.

I attempted to dance like Jack and settled for Will.

The pancakes were delicious. (Add pecans and chocolate chips. Top with fresh bananas.)

After, as we cleared the dishes, I read Helter Skelter out loud, our October book of choice.

We discovered that the person currently residing on the property where the Manson murders took place is none other than the creator of FULL HOUSE.

You didn’t see that coming, did you?

It was a beautiful morning, the sort where is life as advertised.

I don’t want my money back, thank you.

I’m perfectly satisfied.

And All Is Well

9 Oct

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Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages. I have a bathtub! It’s really small! I have a really small bathtub I used while listening to Joni and burning a churro candle!

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a very long walk.

What a relief that was. To find a safe place I can walk at night. To lace up my shoes and burn through some podcasts. To start the mindfulness it takes to walk in circles without checking my phone, without texting or tweeting. Just being. Just walking. Just being grateful I’m walking.

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a long walk and scheduling my next therapy appointment.

I have a therapist here now. That’s exciting.

It took some time, as these tasks do. A failed appointment or two. Online research. Health insurance hubaloo trubaloo.

But I have a therapist and I have a walking route and I have a bathtub

And all is well.

Life Is Just A Day At A Time

18 Sep

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Our first morning back in LA we woke up early, still on Bermuda time.

There was some reading, some watching of Bachelor in Paradise (for me).

Eventually we made it to our local bagel place for hash browns and bacon and eggs. Strawberry cream cheese and more Tapatio please.

Next was the library where we picked up our waiting books and then some. We stumbled on to a farmer’s market! On accident! We were not prepared!

Lemon basil, cherry tomatoes, squash, garlic.

Hands too full on the walk home.

There was more Bachelor in Paradise. A nap. Four dozen bran muffins to freeze.

A friend worried about getting engaged once asked me about commitment, knowing that I pore over decisions, that none come easily to me. She wanted to know how I felt being engaged.

Life is just a day at a time now as it was before, I said.

I’ve been obsessive about getting our apartment together.

I’ll be walking down the street listing off the things that need to get done. A mirror in the hallway, maybe? Four frames on that wall. No five!

It’s a weird turn of events, wanting my apartment to look perfect.

For over a decade, since leaving for college, I’ve lived in a variety of apartments, some that didn’t reflect me in any way. I never cared until now.

I think it goes back to an idea I have about the person I’m supposed to be in my future. In my future I keep my (quaint) (completely unique) (beach bungalow) home spotless. That quaint, completely unique beach bungalow I keep spotless (easily, flawlessly, while doing other things)? That home reflects me in every way. That home is beautiful, fun to be in, full of light and color and vintage lamps!

I am in my future now.

There’s no denying it. I’m turning 30 next month. I have real health insurance. I’ve made legal commitments to another human. I’m on the career path I’d like to keep climbing.

I’ve always been in my future, but it’s hitting me particularly hard right now.

And so I obsess.

The ironic thing about all of this, of course, is that the person I’m supposed to be in my future doesn’t obsess over unimportant things.

I keep trying to write. To get back into the game.

It’s so hard.

I don’t write about writing all that much, but I talk about it with friends all that much.

How writing is like running. How you have to keep lacing up those Asics and getting out the door even when you end up shuffling down the street with sweat pouring down your face, sure you’ll never improve.

You have to keep writing those sentences even when they’re stilted and blehing and why am I doing this.

You keep lacing up those sneakers.

You keep typing those awkward words.

 

Life is just a day at a time, now as it was before.