Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I went out to the garage to track down some files left in my filing cabinet. Because a filing cabinet, in a garage, in Oregon...a state which gets an average 8 months of rain? Not the best place to leave paper items you want to ever see again.

Like my adoption records. Or marriage certificates (and divorce papers). It was a trip, because we've moved a lot and I hadn't seen many of those files and photos and letters for about 10 years. One of the best discoveries was an entire folder full of the kindest, hardest letters, circa 1986, from my friend Chris.


"...I'm not going to kill myself. Although I sometimes think it would be nice. I felt sick all last night. And I couldn't sleep...I'm going nuts, Becky! Crazy!! I scream silently for help. I wish it would STOP!...I'm safe at school. Sort of. The feelings don't go away. It's ruining me. What do you think of me? Am I awful? What do you think of the vestle (sic) clean white boy who is all American, Mom's dream, funny all the time? Now that he's shown to be a corroding pervert and a....I can't write it. I'm so scared. It sounds terrible. The nights are worse because I'm forced to think. God is trying to help me. He is giving me confidence. I love him. Mike told Melonie that you told me that she admires me. If she only knew. If she only knew. {sigh} Goodnight, with all the love I have left, Chris."

Heartbreaking. And since you don't know Chris, you just have to take my word that you would be hard pressed to find a dearer, kinder boy. Every letter of his from this time contains some measure of that self-loathing and pain.

When we were there, in high school, in Salt Lake City, Chris & I were misfits for different reasons, but ended up in similar places. His support, constant irony, and sense of the ridiculous (and the finite nature of high school) kept me sane and optimistic.

I was...awkward physically and socially, with parents trying to convince me college was where good, plain girls like me go to find husbands - as quickly as possible. I wanted SO MUCH more for myself than I was getting. More encouragement. More freedom. More opportunities of all kinds. More room to just figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be once I was away from the constant control. Like a LOT of people, I wanted out Out OUT - NOW!!! College couldn't sweep me away soon enough!

Conversely, Chris was an absolute golden boy, and my opposite in many, many ways: Class president. Lead in all the school plays. Handsome. Perfect teeth. Perfect hair. Snappy dresser. And closeted. SUPER closeted. He wanted in In IN! FOREVER!!!!

It's hard to describe to people outside of that world all of the ways in which being a gay Mormon man is simply impossible. Not only because everyone around you subscribes to a sort-of basic fundy-homophobe-going-to-hell belief-system (and so do you, probably), but also because that is a world which in particular provides both secular and metaphysical rewards to faithful, heterosexual men.

I don't think Mormon women have it all that great. The messages they get are a mixture of subservience, polygamy-in-the-afterlife, having-babies-is-your-calling, being-a-helpmeet-is-fun. Whee. Plus bad underwear. I'm always surprised that many women are fulfilled in that world. But they are...and that's another topic.

Obedient Mormon men, however, are constantly being promoted to higher and higher echelons within that structure. They're told that faithful men are like gods, both figuratively and, in their afterlife, literally. All the wives they can support in that post-life-godhood. And greater community standing, jobs, houses, leadership roles, etc. in this life.

It's not easy to walk away from being constantly told how great and important you are, and how many gifts you will receive in this life and the one after, particularly if leaving meant existing in an unknown, chaotic world which you've been told leads to hell, misery, corruption, self-loathing and complete social ostracization by everyone you care about...

Also in the 1980's, gay=AIDS=death. It wasn't a great, promising time to come out and experience the naked panoply of hot, gay, man-love.

So Chris was suffering. A lot. And I was figuring out that, contrary to the rumors I'd heard, being gay didn't actually seem to mean all that much of anything disgusting, abnormal or corrupt, news which fit right in with my growing resentment of religious hypocrisy.

I also was figuring out that the key difference for Chris was that he'd have a hell of a lot harder road to happiness than my own average one of angst and rebellion.

Re-reading those letters was sweet. Bittersweet, sometimes, but...also moving and delightful. Today I xeroxed the entire folder and mailed the copies to New York. To Chris, who is now all fabulous, demi-famous, completely out, acting and directing edgy off-Broadway theater, living with his long-term love, Desmond, and, most importantly, loving life.

High school=sucked...but that seems to be one of it's key functions. Oppression=very sucky. Suffering=also sucky. Having your parents cut you off because you are gay/atheist/not-them=very very sucky.

Lifelong friendships+freedom+love=NOT SUCKY.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vampires! Sexist! Sexy!

So...I caved. The hype got to me at last...and a friend loaned me her copy of the famous vampire book for teens (Twilight).

Here's my summary:

Her: Wow, it rains here. Bummer. Who is that smouldering-and-impossibly-sexy mysterious man-boy?

Him: I'm a hundred-year-old vampire with super strength, super speed, and powers beyond your dreams. I speak like a gothic romance novel and know everything. Of course, I also go to high school, because otherwise...how would we meet?

Her: (Thump) Dang! Woo! I just tripped. I'm so clumsy! Jeeez!

Him: Mysteriously, that just makes me feel really manly, so please trip or talk about how clumsy you are more. Also, you smell like strawberries. No, wait, heroin. You smell JUST like heroin! Are you scared of me?

Her: (tee hee) Wanna go somewhere alone in a car?

Him: How about a meadow?

Her: Keen! (thump) Gosh! I tripped again!

Him: I will save you from the danger you are to yourself! Because that's what men who don't talk much and are mysterious do!

Her: Hey! Sparkly!

Him: I just ate a grizzly bear!

Her: Wow. Your sparkly sexy magnetic manliness makes me trip over and over again. Also faint. Wait! Why don't I make some very bad decisions to show how much I need YOU to make all the decisions?

Him: You do that. Next time, let VAMPIRE MAN-BOY do it. However, I'll save you again anyway!

Her: My hero! Wanna smell me some more?

Him: (sniff sniff) We are doomed by our doomedy doomed love. But I will be here, beautiful clumsy girl. Unsleeping and nearly catatonic. Forever.

Her: Jeepers! Super neat! Ow! Aw, I tripped again!

Both laugh, smolderingly, as the sun sets over the prom...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kandinsky meets cotton

Lessons from date night: Things to NOT forget: Things to LEAVE HOME ON PURPOSE (because, you know, standing up to see a band all night - after downing 2 drinks, after driving all the way home to retrieve your license): Ow.

Things to remember: WHY you are with the one you're with. Jamie: The 80's were like...Kandinsky meets cotton

Me: Ha! But the hair was all...

J: Awesome. Like we all just stepped out of a biplane.

Me: More like an explosion.

J: Precisely! Kandinsky!

The evening was good. The Mountain Goats amazing, and their opening act...loud. And reverb-y. But John Darnielle is...damn. Weird. Great. Heartbreaking. He played Song for my Stepfather about himself as a battered 5-year-old boy that made me break a little. And he closed with Love love love and This Year, which are probably my 2 favorite songs of theirs. An experience worth having, which made me reflect on all the ways last night was a precious rarity.

Annnd...the kids were asleep when we checked in at 9:30, and seemed to have a good time too. Our sitter always tells us they are the best behaved, sweetest kids she knows. Possibly...it certainly makes leaving them with her pleasant. In 5 years, we might try this again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Date Night!

OMG...next week, I get a real, live, EVENING date with Mr. Waffle. Our sitter is going to PUT THE KIDS TO BED. Or so we hope. Even if they fall asleep in front of a video and she carries them to the bed, that's AMAZING and a FIRST in almost 5 years! We are going to hear THIS band: At NIGHT! At a BAR! A REAL, evening date without racing home by 9!!!

Wardrobe-ish (and guessing game)

A few weeks ago, two of my friends, Amy and Danielle posted about all the lovely things they would like to incorporate into their wardrobe. And it made me think how I'd love to look all SAXXY and HOT for Jamie on Date Night in awesome new duds. Except my budget calls for me to buy this: (Actually not, as barrels are REALLY pricey...which I know from recent Rain Barrel purchasing pains) But their posts about shopping and looks and stuff made me think about wardrobing... I think one of the better things about being older is that I've got an ok base wardrobe. Not awesome, but I own ample clothes which fit and which I can stand being seen in. Mostly covered in that nice mom-combination of mystery stains and boogeys, but still...I don't shop like I did when I was worried about how I had like, one pair of pants that fit my can (which, come to think of it, is rather barrel-shaped)... This past year my shopping habits have been about longing for, and occasionally squandering my money on indulging in a few, quality items. And by few, I mean not enough "one" and by quality, I mean "shitass-expensive-and-causing-minor-self-loathing". Examples? This: This:

These: This sweater (for when I want to go kick around some oversized balls of yarn): And these socks, because pirate moms in cool stockings are just...you know, righteous!

Technically, I'm participating in Bossy's poverty party. I think that means posting about spending $$ on RIDICULOUSLY overpriced veritable couture is somewhat out-of-bounds. But I do own one of the fabulous items displayed above, and I spent my ENTIRE lunch budget for the month on it a few months ago. Guess which one?

Monday, October 13, 2008

A typical (week)day at the waffle house...**

(**Now with Chai Recipe**)
Mrs G. at Derfwad Manor is having a post-in* today.

*This is something like a pot luck for blog readers.

It's pretty easy to predict a Wafflehouse weekday, whereas weekends are a smorgasbord of chaos, kung fu and laundry. 12:00 AM-5:25 AM -
(Thanks, Lee, for this pic)
5:30 AM - alarm goes off
5:39 AM - alarm goes off
5:48 AM - alarm goes off...
5:49-6:15 AM - Shower and then dress in the dark (one of many downsides to the Family Bed not thoroughly investigated prior to implementation).

6:30 - 7:00 AM - Laundry folding. Dinner dishes washing. Start a pot of chai for myself and some breakfast food. Common options:
a) Dutch Baby
b) egg white omelettes
c) peanut butter toast and apples.

7 AM - Jamie wakes Milo without waking Zel (when possible).
Sometimes, I get to eat toast and drink my chai in the relative silence of our breakfast nook while that happens.

Usually not...

Meals are eaten here:
Because THIS is clearly not for food... ...it's for Legos. 8:00 AM - Preschool drop-off and commute
8:30 AM-5:00 PM - work
5:45-6:30 PM - I get home, nurse the baby, start a load of laundry, do breakfast dishes, and cook dinner
6:35 PM - Eat
7:00 PM - Commence battles...and put laundry in dryer...
8:15 PM - Bath and bed...and hopefully toothbrushing... Sometimes one chapter out of a book. Currently The Trouble with Jenny's Ear.
9:00 PM - Sometimes I get about 5 minutes of reading in before I crash...but usually by 9, it's lights out...
Chai Recipe ^
In quart+ sauce pan, heat equal parts water and milk (I prefer 2%) over high heat. For me, a heavy tea drinker, this is about 2 cups of each.
1 t-T honey (it's all about your own sweetness, baby!)
2T tea (I LOVE the Tao of Tea's Sada Chai for this, but any black tea or, well, rooibus if you must, works) equal parts (about 1/8 t): - cardamom - cinnamon - nutmeg - ginger
4-5 whole star anise stars
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t rose water
4-5 peppercorns extra cardamom (yum!)
Heat until mixture begins a rolling boil.
Turn off heat.
Pour through a strainer into mug or other mouth-delivery system.

^I used to make quasi-authentic claims that this recipe is from my ex-MIL, who is from a chai-making country. I don't think I actually remember how true-to-her-recipe this is anymore. But it IS? Delicious!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rewards for good behavior? Not so much...

Some days, in an inspecific burnt-toast-traffic-meetings-missed-clothes-stained kind of way, make me feel insignificant. Some days, those same events can feel a bit more personal. And then there are Thursdays...