Monday, September 30, 2013

When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Mother....

Disclaimer: This post may be considered controversial......it's about a gender-creative little boy (in other words he cross-dresses and is very effeminate). If you're not comfortable with that, you have been warned.
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I have always loved children. Being the oldest of ten, I guess that makes sense. I am extra sensitive to young children being in danger, even in fictitious circumstances. I remember reading one of the Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins before she wrote Hunger Games, fantastic) books at fourteen or fifteen and being so terrified for the little sister of the protagonist. Her nickname was Boots, and she was lost in a strange world. I was practically crying. To this day I associate negative feelings with Disney's Tarzan because of my first experience. The new baby at our house then was a boy, Matthew, my first little brother. You may recall the opening scene of Tarzan depicts Tarzan's mother and father being killed by a leopard, and the baby narrowly escaping death. Seeing this on the big screen at the drive-in was what I can only describe as traumatic.

As I pursue life as a single adult, I sometimes think that I could do without men entirely. But I have never been able to shake the deep need for children around, MY children around. I dislike singles wards because of the lack of children-- some days I want to find a nursery and hide there. I relate to children so much better than a lot of people my own age. I want to be a mother so badly it hurts sometimes. Children are so....good. That is obviously vastly oversimplifying them, but I can't put it into words. And seeing fathers-- young and old, especially my own dad-- with their children makes me rethink the single mother approach. I can only marry a guy that wants to be a daddy.

Since my future isn't exactly littered with marriage prospects, this craving for motherhood is frustrating. I hope that I'm more smart and savvy than your average baby-hungry BYU freshman, but who can say? The most I can do now is keep my list of baby names updated (it's historical and literary figure based and pretty dang awesome, if I do say so myself) and keep an eye out for strategies I plan on using or most definitely not. Oh, and stress myself out thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong when I have kids.

What's that, you say? You don't have that on your Preparing to be a Parent checklist? Haha, would that I could say the same. I first starting stressing out about raising kids, especially girls, soon after I became a feminist. Packaging Girlhood (by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown) and Cinderella Ate My Daughter (by Peggy Orenstein) were particularly helpful in pointing out that **Spoiler** our world is not particularly conducive to girls having high self-esteem. I've spent the last couple years revising my plans for raising independent girls (and independent boys who will respect independent girls) and occasionally flying into a panic when I ponder having to deal with raising daughters amid the inherent sexism of our society, both in the media and out. My mom will testify to the fact I've called her worrying about the fates of Abigail, Alice, and Anne-- who are years away from being born!

Anyway, this afternoon I sat down and read Raising My Rainbow (by Lori Duron) which alerted me to a whole 'nother set of issues I'd never considered. Suppose I have a son who naturally breaks gender roles? I've been so concerned with making sure my girls know they don't have to play with dolls I've never thought, "What if my son wants the dolls?" Raising My Rainbow tells the story of CJ, a gender creative little boy who completely stole my heart almost immediately. CJ loves Barbies, makeup, dressing up like a princess-- anything girly. He identifies (in his own words) as "a boy who likes girl stuff and wants to be treated like a girl". I greatly admire his mother for being willing to chronicle this experience (the book left him on the verge of starting kindergarten but she also writes a blog that is updated weekly).

It was hard to read about little CJ and his older brother, Chase, a very traditional boy, getting bullied because their family was different. Children should never feel ashamed of who they are or be afraid of going to school. I started thinking, "What would I do?" Would I let my son wear his Snow White costume to the school's Halloween party? Would I buy him Disney princess dolls? Would I let him have lipstick? There are hard questions here, not just for letting a child express himself, but for the consequences it may have when dealing with the outside world. Kids are not always kind, and 'hiding' and 'protection' may seem to blur into each other.

I recommend Raising My Rainbow to someone who has never thought about gender-creative children. I enjoyed it and it made me think, which is the most important thing a book can do. I'm still digesting it and trying to work out how I would deal with raising this type of child. By the way, having a gender non-conformant son is not the same as having a gay son, although gender creative children often do end up members of the LGBTQ community. In my mind, sexual orientation can't truly be defined until you hit puberty and hormones kick in. Toddlers aren't gay and they aren't straight because they aren't sexually motivated at all. Just my two cents.

What I came away from the book feeling is that no matter what issues come up with my children (and I know there WILL be issues), I want them to know that I will love them no matter what. Heck, I love them SOOO much right now, and I haven't even met them! I know that love will grow exponentially when I am actually ready to start a family, but for now just the hope of being a mother is a light for the lonely days. Anyway, I'll freak out over how I would raise and accept a gender-creative child and how I want my boys as well as my girls to know that they are unconditionally loved and that I can do anything with God's help and that home is a safe place for a week or so and then I'll move on to another issue.

I swear, my husband will have to be a saint to deal with all my fears.


www.raisingmyrainbow.com  for the continuing adventures of CJ

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Historical Fangirling

If you don't like history, you're wrong. I'm sorry, but I will stand by that statement. History is the most fascinating subject there is. It's stories about people having adventures and making mistakes, falling in love, committing murder, changing the world, being subject to the twists and turns of fate, but all the stories are true! These people really lived! Men and women have lived out plots that we'd deem much too fantastic to be novels or movies. I don't understand how people think history is boring. I suppose if you have a teacher that just makes you recite places and dates....but most teachers aren't like that. And if you take it upon yourself to dig deeper.....history is awesome. Holy cow.

Right now I'm in the midst of a Mark Twain (or Sam Clemens, as I'm learning to call him) biography. So good. He's such a snarky and funny guy; I feel like we'd get along. Not perfect, but so real and down to earth. And his love letters to his wife, Livy Clemens, are simply too adorable for words. What a couple of cuties.

William Shakespeare. Just- William Shakespeare.

My favorite biography of all-time (so far) has to be Hide and Seek With Angels by Lisa Chaney. The subject is the playwright JM Barrie, and it's fantastic. That was the book that really got me into biographies.

James Madison by Richard Brookhiser changed my favorite president. I still idolize George Washington-- who doesn't?-- but James Madison is overlooked and incredible.

American Eve by Paula Uruburu focuses on Evelyn Nesbit. She's depicted in both the novel and the musical Ragtime, but after learning more about her life I felt physically ill at how I had misjudged her from those fictional portrayals.

William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Charles Fox, William Pitt-- the whole gang of British abolitionists. FOREVER LOVE. (I don't have individual biography references for all those, but the film Amazing Grace is five stars. [And I realize the irony of recommending a film right after relating how wrong fiction can get a peson.])


For more general historical books that aren't about one specific person:

American Tempest by Harlow Giles Unger talks about the causes, effects, and general what-have-you of the Boston Tea Party. It's wonderful-- this event was so much more planned, complex, and important than I had previously realized.

The Ghost Map by Samuel Johnson relates the tale of how cholera was cured after one of the most fatal recorded London outbreaks. It reads like a thriller, the plot is that straightforward. I am amazed and humbled by the men who dedicate their lives to research and healing.

A History of Opera by Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker is a five-hundred page history of, well, opera. What did you expect? Like another favorite of mine, Showtime by Larry Stempel, this book delves into the behind-the-scenes of theatre. The lives of composers and actors, political issues, different translations, and the wax and wane of opera are all discussed, along with a lot more. Made me want to go catch an opera-- I've only seen two.


Anyway, history is the bomb and I will never be tired of talking about it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear Diary.... (Part Two)

Taking another lighthearted stroll down memory lane. Sometimes I worry about the odd glasses I see the world through. Journal entries from early 2012

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I just discovered the sensation that is peanut butter toast. Why have I never eaten this before. Why. It is so good. Can't even use question marks, that is how good it is. Also, when I was on the phone today scheduling an audition, the guy said I sounded like I’d had extensive experience in musical theatre. I consider that win. That’s a being identified as a theatre freak even over the phone win!
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         Restarting the on-hold-since-July Ivanhoe and getting past the first two chapters: Accomplished

        Making goals for at least the short term: Accomplished

      Accepting that I'm almost through the tenth Doctor's seasons: Not accomplished

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I just sort of want to show up at his house and be like, “Hey, we both love Harry Potter and Doctor Who, so naturally we’d be a great couple and I think this is where you kiss me.” The only problems with this scenario are: A) I have no idea where he lives, and B) He would likely have no idea who I am. Other than that, it is one hundred percent foolproof.
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Today Kelli was telling us the story of her CRAZY temporary roommate before we went home. The guy is insane. He didn’t bring any stuff besides a razor and a toothbrush, and when left alone in the house he ate ALL of the food (a five-pound jar of nuts and uncooked cornbread mix included) and used ALL of the dishes in the house (right down to eating cereal with a measuring spoon) while washing none of them. He set the fire alarm off at one and then again at two in the morning. When Kelli was getting ready for work in the morning he just sat in his completely empty room. He claims he has a car, but it has never been seen.
UPDATE ON KELLI’S ROOMATE: He has moved out, but left a pile of toenail clippings behind, as is fitting and representative of his stay. 
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There was a brighter spot in my day when we got candy. That in an of itself is a bright spot, but I had it sitting there on the desk, not going to eat it till lunch, but it looked so good, so in between calls I put some m&ms into my mouth, even though a call could come any second, and realized, “I am just like Donny Osmond.” You see, back in Powell 97.9 had Donny’s DJ program and I would hear his crazy stories. I’m not a huge fan of Donny Osmond. But I will never forget this story. He was in a show and he entered flying over the audience singing. He had a chocolate ├ęclair that had been tempting him all day, and he stuffed it into his mouth while getting into costume, the harness, etc, and ended up spewing it all over the audience. But nothing bad happened in my case, although I had to compare myself to Donny Osmond. 
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Lyrics That Define Me

Here are some lyrics that have been stuck in my head lately. I can't say it any better than these.

"I know the last page so well I can't read the first
So I just don't start
It's getting worse
I wanna know what it's like 
On the inside of love
I'm standing at the gates
I see the beauty above
I can't find my way in
I try again and again
Must be a different view
To be a 'me' with a 'you'."
"Inside of Love" by Nada Surf

"Not for me the happy home
Happy husband
Happy wife
Though it sometimes touches me
For the likes of such as me
It's a fine, fine life!"
"It's a Fine Life", Oliver!

 "I want a moment to be real
Want to touch things I can't feel
Want to hold on and feel I belong
Why does the world want me to change?
They're the ones who stay the same
They can't see me
But I'm still here."
"I'm Still Here" by Johnny Rzeznik

"I have died every day waiting for you
Darling don't be afraid
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more."
"A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri 

Pretty much all of "The A-Team" by Ed Sheeran 

"All the odds are in my favor
Something's bound to begin
It's gotta happen
Happen sometime
Maybe this time
Maybe this time I'll win!"
"Maybe This Time", Cabaret

As is probably apparent, it's been an unusually melancholy week.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. I usually complain about how early in the school year Labor Day comes-- we barely get into a routine and then we have a break-- it would be more appreciated at the beginning of October. But this year it was perfect. This was my first real day off in a long time, as I work every weekend and have class during the week. But today I had no school, no work, no commitments to anyone. I needed it so much.

My roommates and I drove to Jordanelle State Park to go kayaking. It was great. We rented two kayaks, then proceeded to take the lake by storm. We sang Disney songs and Macklemore and Adele, we rammed our kayaks into each other, we went swimming and lay in the sun and talked and talked. I'm not the most outdoorsy person in the world, but I loved the physicality of paddling and swimming and getting in touch with a little bit of nature. Four stars, would highly recommend.

Sometimes I get really discouraged and don't even know if I want to keep on trying, but there are bright spots like today that make me remember life doesn't always completely suck. I'm not gonna lie-- the last month wasn't the best. In fact, a lot of things about it were very difficult for me. Starting school again at Salt Lake Community College has been different than expected. Not harder, just....different. I don't know how to explain it. I met a Very Cool Guy who seemed to think I was funny, things seemed to be going great, and then I randomly got the feeling that I'd never see him again. And I haven't-- Eternally Single mode reactivated. Money is tight and will be for the foreseeable future. Every audition I go to gets me a callback, but not cast. My emotions are so fragile that Despicable Me 2 made me cry.

But I forgot about my problems while I dangled my feet in the water and had the sun on my shoulders. It's only one day, but we all need that day. That's why we have holidays. Thank goodness. I need an excuse to celebrate when maybe there's not that much in my life worth celebrating. I need to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel.