Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Bodies are creepy and powerful

I am thinking about bodies today. They are eerie and mysterious and they know things and they do things and they affect us in ways we only barely understand.

Last night I had PMS. 

I assume it was PMS. I was lying in my bed, weepy and tired. My lamplight was on, the room smelled vaguely like our puppy--who really needs a bath because damn. I kept trying to think of why I was weepy. What had made me that way? What was wrong? I couldn't settle on anything. But it had been about a month since my last major bout with the weepies. 

I don't really have periods (God bless my Mirena), but ever since seeing Heather became a daily thing, I get PMS. 

I also get sick when she's gone. Within a day of her leaving on her last business trip, I'd lost my voice and found myself shaking in the hot bathtub, cold, coughing, and miserable. Within a day of her getting back, I had my voice again, my throat no longer burned, I felt--and was--better.

Human bodies affect each other. Through touch, through breath, on a molecular level we affect each other. The swings in oxytocin, in estrogen, in the countless other hormones and neurochemicals that swim in our veins, through these, we affect each other. 

We are, all of us, biological creatures. 

We fight that, I think. 

We want to believe we have choice. (I want to believe I have choice.)

But even if I do: my body has an opinion. 

Awhile ago I had to make a choice--decide what to do. I'm not going to talk about that choice here. (I'm not sure I'm ever going to talk about it, to be honest. Though I might. Someday.) What matters is this: I wasn't sure what the right thing was. I wasn't sure at all. But I knew when I thought of the one option--no matter how much I wanted it, no matter how much I thought it was the right one, no matter how much it was what I'd always thought I wanted--whenever I leaned toward it, I would feel sick.  

I am Mormon. 

It's an identity I claim, however much I no longer fit the rigid definition of Mormonism I grew up with because I am queer and I have decided to stop fighting that fact. I am queer. And I am Mormon. And both of those things are part of me. Even the church can't take that away.

I was taught as a child about prayer, about stupor. Discernment. My patriarch told me I had a gift for it. You know the right thing in your mind and your heart. You know the right thing, because you cannot hold the wrong thought in your head. You feel the spirit in your body. 

Truth manifests: in the body. 

Mormons are not big on the "weakness" of flesh. We don't particularly believe that humans are fallen, that mortality is a corrupted state. 

But we do believe in the sanctity of the body. 

My body has taught me things that the Mormons couldn't. 

But the Mormons taught me to trust my body. 

It's only one of a thousand contractions I'm only just beginning to work out. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The End of my Secret Page of Doomed Love

I've been following this page on Twitter. It had 3 followers and, like, years of tweets. One-sided conversations. Maybe there was another Twitter account responding, but there were no outside replies, no linked @accounts, posts only responded to themselves. It was, like, this doomed love story. Like watching a broken heart rage and prattle into the void. She posted love songs, she asked how her love was doing. On the top of the page was a thing about how "I will always love you."

Based on the times posted, and the vocabulary used, I think she's based in the U.K.

Tonight she locked the page down. Said Twitter had lost its meaning. That she needed to move on and had to let [him?] go. She posted one last, heartbreaking, song, and then wrote GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT before locking the page.

I'm surprised how gutted I am by this, y'all.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Love makes fools of all of us

Here is what I know of love: it makes fools of all of us.
            We can be perfectly rational creatures. We act with sense, with decorum, with measured steps. That is, we normally act that way. But love: it makes us irrational. We find ourselves doing things. Ridiculous things. We cannot control the way our thoughts ever circle. We cannot control the surge of feelings in our chest, our fingers, our stomach. We cannot stop the torrent of images that dance behind our eyes as we try to sleep.
            Love renders the strongest of us utterly powerless.
            I do not try to excuse what I did.
            For no matter the cause, my actions were still my own.
            I would like to think that if I knew the consequences, I would have done something differently. But that is impossible. We cannot know how things will end. Things that are utterly tangled unweave themselves and work out for the best. And things that feel clean and true can end up staining us deeper than blood.

            One thing is clear to me now, now that everything has passed: I am not sure I would have done anything differently. Even knowing how it would end. Because love is not the elixir of fools because only fools drink it.
            All of us—
            Every blessed one—
            All of us can be lost to it.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

You Cannot Stop Your Body From Screaming

Found this in an old text this morning. It seemed... useful to the day.

What I learned from cancer: you cannot stop your body from screaming.

We have this arrogant idea that how we respond to stuff is a choice. We say to ourselves, "Well, I can't help but feel pain, but I can choose how I respond to it, right?"


When you hurt enough, it does not matter.

There is no choice.

You will scream. 

Meaning: things we think are choices? They are not always choices.

Only God knows the difference--knows where the line is.

The rest of us just have to forgive ourselves.

And the people who hurt us.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And then I went, "Well. This dream is very unsubtle."

I dreamed that I went back to visit my old BYU colleagues. They'd been relegated to a temporary building--the kind that made up the bulk of my over-crowded elementary school. On the white board in the front of the classroom/office was a quote about "Daughters of Zion."

Lisa Rumsey Harris came up to me, apologetically. "So..." she said. "BYU has this new policy?"

I knew she meant just for the women. (Or maybe just for me.) Because it was a dream and you know stuff like that.

She was holding a chain in her hands. "We're going to have to actually bind your hands. I'm sorry. I won't do it very tight."

I held out my hands for her to bind. "This is so BYU," I said. "It's not like I'm gonna hurt anyone with these. Boys are, like, way more likely to do that. Yunno. Statistically speaking."

Lisa said, "Oh, I hear you. It is ridiculous." She wrapped the chains around my wrists once, twice. Three times. "But, hey," she said. "At least these chains are really cute ones."

I looked down at them. They were cute. They had little sparkly hearts on them.

And then I went, "Well. This dream is very unsubtle."

And I woke up.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

This morning I woke up thinking, "I was having a sex dream..."

and I was super excited cuz I never do, so before I opened my eyes I tried really hard to remember it...

and I did...

but I wasn't having sex.

I was eating a sandwich.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Caterpillars, Hamburgers, and Mayonaise

Something happened in my class today.
Or rather… it didn’t happen.
And it’s not happening… I am haunted by it.

We were discussing our biases. (It’s a rhetoric class. We do that sort of thing.) The class was lively, everyone chiming in with only perfunctory attention to traditional decorum. Hand raising was half assed, at best.
“I have a bias,” someone said, “against caterpillars.”
“Against Caterpillars?” I asked.
“Yes.” She nodded and sat back in her chair. “I love butterflies. But I cannot stand caterpillars.”
I tilted my head in mock shock, “Isn’t that, like, the insect equivalent of hating babies?” I asked.
Someone from the back of the room shouted, “I have a bias against babies!”
There was a gasp of laughing horror at that.
“I will tell my mom everything about my roommate’s love life,” someone said. “But I refuse to tell her about my own.”
“I only like little dogs,” said someone else.
“I don’t even like dogs!”
And then a girl in the front row said, “I am always falling in love with women. I don't ever want to date anyone but women. But I just never like sleeping with them as much as I like sleeping with men.”
“Well,” I responded. “Pretty sure you’re not the only one who’s felt that.” Which made people laugh even harder than they already were.
And then someone said, “I hate hamburgers with mayonnaise. Just hate them. I mean, why even have a burger if you’re going to do that to it?!”
And the game went on.

About five years ago, before we moved to Maryland, when I was at still teaching at BYU, a boy—brown hair, troubled expression, wrinkled T-shirt—said during class, “I think we’re too mean to gay people in this church.”
The initial response from the class was silence. It lasted maybe ten seconds.
And then there were protests. Polite at first. “We love the sinners,” someone said. “We hate the sin.”
But the boy, his face growing ever more troubled, said, “I… I guess I just don’t see the sin.”
At which point the class completely pounced on him.
I don’t even remember what they said.
Stuff about obeying the prophets.
Stuff about right and wrong.
Stuff about morality and purity and chastity.
The carpets had been cleaned that week. I remember the stale smell of still-wet fibers, clinging like a mildew to it all.
Because there was something nearly primal about the way they turned on him. Animals, encircling a threat.
And they literally encircled him.
They turned from all corners of the room, some nearly jumping out of their chairs. Everyone facing him. Everyone talking over each other.
They utterly and completely shut.him.down.
I felt helpless as I watched. Their reaction was so much more violent than I expected. Their speech so little concerned with charity.
They seemed to have absolutely zero awareness that, odds were nearly certain, at least one person in that room was gay.
I stuttered.
I tried to interject.
There was nothing I could think to say.
In my entire teaching career, I have never felt more helpless, more at a loss, more of a failure to my students than I did that day.

And then today happened.

Today: when we talked about caterpillars. We talked about how it was just so hard when you couldn’t decide which gender you preferred to sleep with. And the (non) response?

That hamburgers are so destroyed by mayonnaise.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

And then I go, "Oh. This is an allegory."

The good news: I remembered my dream last night for the first time in forever!

The bad news: It was as judgy as a bad Sunday School lesson.

It started with an earthquake.

But it wasn't, like, a scary earthquake. It was more like a, "Hey! Pay attention!" Earthquake.

And then I looked outside the window & there was this bum who was eating the leaves off our bushes. Then he'd spit out the berries cuz poison. He was obviously hungry.

Then I was all, if I were Christian, I'd feed him.

But he was scary looking so... I just sat there.

But then I did a re-take & was like, *if I were Christian I'd feed him.*

So I drag myself up, go to the door to look for him & invite him in.

But he's gone, and instead there're crowds of hungry people.

And then I go, "Oh. This is an allegory."

And I wake up.