October 26, 2010

The Ache to be Worthy

When I told my mom I was giving a testimonial of faith at the Unitarian church she said, "I don't like to tell people what I believe because I'm afraid they'll try to change my mind."

I feel that way, too. But the great thing about the Unitarian church is that we all sort of agree that faith is a constant journey of discovery, and it's OK to have different ideas, as long as they include love and acceptance. One member of the congregation said this week that he's a Born-Again Pagan with a Buddhist bent. Amen.

So if you'd like to read my testimonial (including a nod to Mary Oliver), you can find it here.

And, hey, thanks for reading!

October 19, 2010

Eat, Prey, Leave

Last night Sparkle Mama, FMF, and I journeyed to a little second-run movie theater in Clinton for a much needed evening of Eat Pray Love. Say what you like about Julia Roberts; she has kind eyes.

We stopped for a quick bite of pizza, and Sparkle guzzled her beer so we wouldn't be late for the previews. I have to say that I really enjoy the previews and often use them as a way to gauge the movie I'm about to see.

We circled the block for a parking space a couple of times. The spots were all taken because of a nearby school event and, perhaps, because of Blinky the Clown's appearance at a local pub. What?

"It's Clinton," said the FMF. "Go with it."

Finally we found a space, and upon arriving at the theater we noticed a sign that read, "Closed Mondays," and while it did happen to be a Monday, there were people meandering through the doors, so we followed them. The ticket booth was closed, and Sparkle and I hesitated, but FMF lead us through the swinging doors into the dark.

There were a number of people munching popcorn and sipping sodas, and I thought we must be crashing some private party, but since no one asked to see ID or offered to escort us to the door, we crashed away.

It was at this point that Sparkle Mama noticed the number of 19-year-old boys and thought it odd they all came out for a Monday night showing of Eat Pray Love, but she kept that curiosity to herself, and I went about blithely ordering my double pack of M&M's and rootbeer.

We found our seats, and the first preview started. It seemed to be a suspense-type movie, and I was watching cautiously (not my favorite genre to see in the theater as I tend to be a screamer), when suddenly Sparkle Mama flung her arm across my face in an attempt to cover my eyes from the horror on screen, and the popcorn went flying. She's a good friend, that one.

I took over and shielded my eyes until it ended. The next preview started, and it was also a horror film. I don't enjoy horror. In fact, R and I went through an unlikely and one-time-only Buffy the Vampire Slayer phase, but I regularly kept my eyes closed and made him narrate, which, unfortunately, he did not appreciate. Other than that I regret nearly every scary movie ever seen or frightening book ever read. They give me nightmares.

The next two clips were also horror, and that's when I turned to the FMF, who had been off fetching napkins, and said, "Shouldn't we be seeing previews for romantic comedies?"

And the three of us had the same, "ah, ha" moment.

We gathered our goodies, coats, and scarves, and headed back to the snack bar where we were informed that they were running a free, pre-Halloween, zombie flick.

Foiled again.

We re-bundled and carried our booty to the pub around the corner where, sadly, Blinky the Clown had gone home for the night.

October 17, 2010

Of Marriage and Mushrooms

The card R painted and gave me for our fifth wedding anniversary

One day, long before I knew R existed in the world, I was expressing to a friend my flabberghastedness at the idea that two people could remain committed, monogamous, for decades upon decades because at the time most of my relationships spanned about three months.

Lately, I've thought a lot about her response: "I asked my grandfather, at his 50th wedding anniversary, how he had managed to stay married to the same woman for so many years, and he said, 'I haven't. She has changed so many times, in so many ways, from the woman I married, and I continually re-discover her.'"

I'm embarrassed to tell you my response, but here it is: "Huh. I wonder how I'll change." The fact that I never gave a smidge of thought to the idea that my partner might also change perhaps speaks to my small-minded self-focus, and possibly the reason for those short-term relationships. But, hey, I didn't have a partner at the time, so I'm cutting myself a little slack on that end.

Karma is wiggling her clever tongue at me. I can almost hear her chanting, "Naah naah nah naah naah," because all these years later I have a husband, and he is not quite the same man I married five years ago.

When R and I fell in love we were city-type dwellers. We enjoyed the occasional hike, but we spent most of our days roaming neighborhoods, evenings at the movie theater. R regularly tried to convince me that he was an outdoorsman, and I would chuckle to myself.

Then we moved to the woods, and R came home. When we first arrived at our little camp on the lake, R pulled a book off of the shelf titled The Homesteader's Guide and told me when he was young he could be bewitched by its secrets for hours. At the time I didn't think much of it, but now I see that moment as a kind of foreshadowing.

Rick left The Woods at 18 after the death of a good friend, joined the Navy and didn't look back for twenty years. It wasn't until his parents mentioned selling the camp that he realized how much it meant to him. There's a line in a Josh Ritter song that goes, "you didn't know that it was home 'til you up and left." I think that line applies to California and me, but for R the opposite is true. He didn't know that The Woods were home 'til he came back.

Now he's re-discovered his inner outdoorsman. In Alameda he spent his alone time studying technology. These days, when he's not running a chainsaw, he watches youtube videos about mushroom hunting, permaculture, cider brewing, chicken and worm farming. He fantasizes about turning all of our land into vegetable gardens and living off the grid.

But every time R mentions buying livestock I think, "Where will we find someone fool enough to care for a llama while we're in Paris?"

That's right. I'm no outdoorswoman. I don't mind getting my hands garden-dirty every once in a while, but if R's gone, the land suffers, and while we currently have no plans to visit Paris, I long for travel, or at least evenings of Indian dinner and a late foreign film. Heck, I long for a date.

At some point during the course of last summer I realized that R's happiness has become one with The Woods, while the thing that keeps me going is, well, going. Suddenly we seemed to have conflicting pursuits of happiness.

Then, I had a complete freak out. Fortunately, my very wise friend Frog Mama told me something she learned about marriage: Not only do two married people change over time, they also have to fall out of love every so often so that they may fall in love all over again. It may sound odd, but I find that idea very comforting because it means that I (we) don't have to remain in a state of wedded bliss at all times. Also, it means that the bliss will return if we welcome it.

And then, to top it all, our UU minister gave a lovely sermon (find it here) about the wrongness of pursuing happiness, about engaging with the world around us and letting happiness, or contentedness, come.

So, I'm engaging with the Unitarian Church and all that it represents (love and acceptance, among other ideals) which goes to show how far my formerly-atheist heart has come, how much I too have changed.

What this means in practice is that I go mushroom hunting with R, and he comes to church with me. While I still check the travel sites for cheap tickets to Europe (and Disneyworld), and I'm terrified that R might one day ask me to eat a foraged mushroom, I'm letting go of the hot pursuit-- and the freak out. Whatever comes, it'll find me here in The Woods.

October 15, 2010

It Gets Better

I thought I was shouting about the "It Gets Better" project every where I went, but then R said, "I just heard Dan Savage on All Things Considered talking about this new project. . . " and I realized I hadn't even mentioned it to my very own husband. So, here it is! Check it out:

I've heard some criticism that it doesn't solve the problem. No, it doesn't, but sometimes change comes one baby step at a time.

October 2, 2010

"Forever" and Ever, Amen

If you are the one person left in the world not familiar with Judy Blume's Forever, let me tell you a little bit about it: Katherine and Michael are seniors in high school. They date, they make-out, and *spoiler alert* eventually they have sex, which, I suppose, is why there are so many attempts have the book banned from libraries all over the country.

I speak as the mother of a teen when I say I am baffled by folks who want to pretend that teens aren't having sex despite the fact that in 2006, 750,000 teenage girls in the U.S. were knocked up, resulting in 435,000 unplanned babies. I'm sure that nearly every one of the parents of those teens also thought, not my girl.

As a child of a teen mother, I've seen first hand that pregnancy happens to nice girls, and while my mother regularly reminds me that she wouldn't change her past, I watched her travel a long and arduous road toward adulthood.

Do I want my daughter to have sex in high school? Certainly not. Am I going to let her read Forever? Heck, yes. And here's why: The sex scene in Forever is explicit, but it's real, not at all titillating romance and passion. Katherine and Michael's first attempt at sex is on the floor, on a towel. It's cold, and Michael finishes before he's even started.

When they finally get it all together, it's fairly disappointing for Katherine, and that's what I love so much about it. Not only does Katherine insist that Michael use a condom (she had previously discussed birth control with her grandmother) she expects to have an orgasm and is let down when she doesn't.

"'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I couldn't hold off.' He stopped moving. 'It wasn't any good for you, was it?'

'Everybody says the first time is no good for a virgin. I'm not disappointed.' But I was. I wanted it to be perfect."

Some women, myself included, have sex for years before realizing there's something in it besides the undivided attention of another person. Go, Katherine!

Wait, there's more, and for me this is the clincher: Katherine's parents warn her that despite the love she feels for Michael, she's young, and her feelings are going to change, and in the end, they're right. Ha! How I love to be right. Katherine meets a cute boy at tennis camp and breaks Michael's heart.

Just imagine how Katherine's life would have changed if she had not known to use birth control, if she had parents who didn't talk to her about sex, just told her not to have it, if there were no Judy Blumes out there for her.