Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family, Isn't it About Time?

So, an interesting thing happened today. My mother just called in almost a fit of tears and sadness. Apparently, my sister called her and told her that my blog is covered with pornography (which I find quite entertaining/disturbing on several levels). My sister also told my mother that I was bashing the church, the 12 Apostles, and that I used the F-word every other word. I am not kidding, this is EXACTLY what my mother said to me. Now, given my families penchant for drama, I'll believe that my sister said about half of that.

My mom and my sister. They've never read my blog actually. I really only know of a cousin or two who occasionally checks it. Other than that, no one in the immediate fam besides April. Thus my freedom to discuss and talk and not worry about any repercussions.

So, back to this moment...my sister just printed out my last blog to give to my mother who doesn't know how to use the internet very well. They know I've not been active, but I've never given too many reasons because I know that they wouldn't understand. My mom in a fit of tears and frustration, just dramatically shouting "But why?! Why would you want the priesthood?! Why?!!!!"

It is the easiest thing for me to say, "Well, women need the priesthood." Because to me it sums up much of what I feel and see in the church about the patriarchy. Maybe I don't REALLY want the priesthood per se, but I do want more. I don't know how to voice that I feel hurt in a religion that doesn't hurt them, that I feel confused by a religion that doesn't confuse them, that I feel put down and trod upon and used and slapped, and lied to by a religion that has lifted, helped and loved them. And it does not help that they know very little about the actual true church history and the deeper doctrines, in response to this my mom said, "Well, I have more important things to do everyday." So, again, it's hard to get my point across with this type of "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude.

My mom confessed that she feels I am falling away from the family. With my family I don't mention a lot of ideas because I know no one will converse with me about them or even understand them. I am happy, simple, kind, the peacemaker, and when my mom or sister say things that I utterly can't agree with, i just smile and nod. I know, hard to picture me like that. But truly, it's the Pollyanna image I've cultivated for years as an active LDS/return missionary.

I've seen my family about 5 times in the last two weeks, so I'm not falling away per se, but I did finally confess to my mother something as well.

"Well, Mom, you don't really know me."

And then there was silence. And neither of us knew exactly what to say....

So she went on to tell me that Obama was the Lenin of our time, the Hitler and the Anti-Christ all in one.

Way to find some common footing mom.

But mom, as you read this, just think. Think about it. You've raised a daughter who is happy and accomplished, a daughter who seeks to do good and spends her days teaching children to think important thoughts. You've raised a daughter who has loved and traveled the world and embraced everyone...no matter color or creed with love and acceptance. You've raised a daughter in tune with her spirituality, a daughter who thinks on her own, a daughter who lives authentically and not how anyone else wants her to live. You've raised a daughter who is true to herself, who loves her family, who loves God, who is trying to do her best. Really, mom, just remember, you've done a good job with me. So, sit back, take a deep breath, and let's try to get to know each other, ok.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Am I Pornography??

(This was taken from a post over at Zelophehad's Daughters...some awesome, rocking ex-mormon/mormon feminists!)

A major voice in the LDS church recently said, 

“And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.” (Elder Oaks, April Conference 2005)

To me, this quote raises a troubling, unsettling issue for me as a woman. I don't really know exactly how to voice it, but I'm gonna try.

Elder Oaks centers his ideas around very specific gender roles. Men are the ones who are continuously subject to their sexual urges and women are the ones who hold the power to control men's sexual urges.

To Elder Oaks’s credit he does qualify his statement, not alleging that women are themselves inherent pieces of pornography under all their clothes, but only that they become pornography to some men. Yet, I still find myself completely troubled by this statement in general. 

Does the focal point of pornography reside more in the object instead of in the action of gazing? I mean, isn't the definition of pornography that of an image viewed in a particular way, and not a particular person?

I could pose the question, what exactly is wrong with pornography? Is it ok in moderation? Is some pornography, that of various photos better than full on videos depicting random and wild acts of sex?

I think the real problem is the complete and utter objectification of other people that pornography tends to promote. People (women mostly) soon become viewed as tools capable of satisfying the viewers own desires rather than seen as actual people with desires of their own.

Is pornography the opposite of charity? Of selflessness? Of purity? 

In the above statement, however, women’s subjectivity has been conveniently elided. Men are potential consumers of pornography, where women are potential creators (even unwittingly); thus, men’s obligation is to eschew viewing pornographic material where women’s obligation is to eschew becoming pornographic material. Men are sexual subjects where women are sexual objects.

In short, by framing his discussion in this manner, Elder Oaks has replicated and perpetuated the very dynamic which is problematic about pornography to begin with.

Too bad.

For discussion fun:

I've dated several men this past year and most of them, in fact, all but one, admitted to watching pornography in some form or another. Do you think this is just a right of passage, a normal part of everyday life? Is it something we need to learn to accept rather than condemn? Or is it something, as women, we should shun and leave room for a NO EXCEPTIONS type policy?


I was recently rereading Persepolis and there is a part when the women have to go back to wearing the veil because their hair is seen as too much temptation for the men in their country. That, in fact, they were walking pornography when they had their hair showing. I am concerned, honestly, that in some respects, the LDS religion seems to be embracing this idea and leaving the residual feeling in the hearts of women that THEY are part of the problem.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Utah is Number One

Utah is NUMBER ONE in anti-depression consumption. Yee-haw!

Psychiatrists point to several factors that could contribute to Utah's high levels of depression: limited mental health resources, restricted access to treatment as a result of cost, poor quality of resources and a varied list of other factors, including an under funded educational system and a culture deeply rooted in the Mormon faith.

"In Mormon culture females are supposed accept a calling. They are to be constantly smiling over their family of five. They are supposed to take supper across the street to an ill neighbor and then put up with their husband when he comes home from work and smile about it the whole time. There is this sense that Mrs. Jones down street is doing the same thing, and there is this undercurrent of competition. To be a good mother and wife, women have to put on this mask of perfection. They can't show their tears, depression or agony," Canning said.

"Obedience, conformity and maintaining a sense of harmony" are unspoken but widely recognized behaviors, which all contribute to what he calls "the Mother of Zion syndrome."

Salt Lake City is rated the most VAIN city. Three Cheers!!

Yep, not New York or Miami or L.A...but little ole' humdrum SLC. 

SLC earned this distinction, in part, because there are at least 45 plastic surgeons practicing in Salt Lake City, or six per 100,000 people, according to Forbes. Part of our bounty could be attributed to the University of Utah's School of Medicine, which offers residencies in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The other part of the ranking had to do with our at-home beauty regimens. In the last year, locals spent more than $2.2 million on hair coloring, $116,478 on hair growth products, more than $2.5 million on facial cosmetics and more than $4.4 million on skin-care products. Our spending exceeded that of similar-size cities.

Oklahoma City, for instance, spent only $172,080 on hair coloring, $9,323 on hair growth products, $190,820 on facial cosmetics and more than $400,000 on skin-care products, according to Information Resources, a research company that tracks cosmetic and toiletries sales.

What does this say about us? That we care a million (or two) more times about what we look like than the people in Oklahoma City? Or, as the article suggests, are we vain? Or do we just place a premium on looking good? OR ARE WE ALL JUST FU**ING INSECURE?!? Hmmm....

And finally, our proudest moment?

Utah NUMBER ONE in online porn subscriptions! Whoot! Whoot!
And friends...I gotta lot to say about this one...but that's it's own post!

May I politely ask this religious state what in the world is going on? Does an emphasis on perfection lead to horrible insecurities? Does an emphasis on chastity and loving, lasting relationships cause the porn subscriptions to sky rocket? Are we all just awkward and backwards? Seriously, what is going on?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I realized that one thing Iove about this time of year is not only the budding of flowers, but the simple budding of color. And you see it most pronounced with the new look of the candy. All your favorite candies seem to put on a new frock that is much more appealing than the drab garb they usually wear. Oh sweet candy, how you allure!

Apparently I AM taken in by a pretty appearance because I went to put together a little Easter basket for my sister and found myself smiling at all these little adorable sheep, delightful carrots, bunny rabbits and chicks and other favorites. And I thought, "Hey, I'm a grown woman! I'm smart! I'm college educated! What is it about these sweet little lambs that makes me want to buy them?" I still can't figure it out, but buy them I did.

If only healthy food tasted like chocolate! God's cruel trick. I guess fancy marketing is all it takes to reel me in! When did I become so predictable!?? What's your favorite Easter treat?

Once when I was little my parents bought Audra, April, and myself each our own little chick that had been dyed (so not PETA approved!) Audra's was an unnatural cobalt blue, mine was a deep fuschia (so odd see a bird of that color..her name was Ruby) and April's was a bright, bright Hollywood yellow (not sweet baby chick yellow. I have NO idea where my parents got these birds, if they dyed them on their own (which seems unlikely) and why no one else in the neighborhood had such an Easter treat. We soon became the freaky girls in the neighborhood with the scary chicks. All chicks died shortly, probably from complications of unnatural dyes mixed with feathers. Wow, crazy memory. Any great Easter memories you have??

Some Easter Candy Facts:

Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed 7 billion pounds of candy in 2001, according to the National Confectioner's Association.

In 2000, Americans spent nearly $1.9 billion on Easter candy, while Halloween sales were nearly $2 billion; Christmas, an estimated $1.4 billion; and Valentine's Day, just over $1 billion.

Ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced each year.

Chocolate bunnies should be eaten ears first, according to 76% of Americans. Five percent said bunnies should be eaten feet first, while 4% favored eating the tail first.

Adults prefer milk chocolate (65%), to dark chocolate (27%).

Hot cross buns were among the earliest Easter treats, made by European monks and given to the poor during Lent.

Pretzels were originally associated with Easter. The twists of a pretzel were thought to resemble arms crossed in prayer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Free Bird

Life is good. Life is beautiful. Life is busy. Life is happy. Life is right where I want it to be given a few exceptions. I think because I'm not having religious anxiety, I've gotten rid of most of my relationship drama in my life (that intense dating time was TOO intense), and I've decided to focus on me again, funny how happy I can become.

I have been focused on others a lot this past year. I focused on what people would think about me given my religious woes, and I spent the better part of last year trying to get two people to fall in love with me when it just wasn't working. Now that I've taken a step back from it all, and I'm just D'Arcy again (happy and mostly sane...except for those late night phone calls to Michelle to help keep me grounded) I feel good. I feel damn good.

Work is a major success. Homelife is peaceful and idyllic. My heart and home and love and money are all just working.

I haven't posted much. I've been getting healthy. Farewell dear Rice Pudding...hello cucumbers. I've been hitting the gym about two hours a day, making healthy meals, putting more effort into waking up early and actually putting some make-up on this mug. And by the time I know it, it's 10 o'clock at night and ready to go to bed. I've been trying to read blogs and keep up, but it just hasn't been calling me like it used to. My attention is somewhere else.

Here are some various snippets:

1. My kids took first in the state for English Quest competition

2. A young boy dropped a note on my desk telling me he was praying for me ( I think my feminist/agnostic soul just hangs in the air)

3. I got to hold Holly's adorable baby for almost an hour on Saturday and he just cooed and smiled a winning grin.

4. My students have been composing their own poetry and presenting it. One of my student, a girl who got pregnant four months ago and just found out the sex of her baby read a poem today that she composed for that baby. It was one of the most emotional and heartfelt moments of my teaching career. She will be giving that baby up for adoption in just five months.

5. Another student picked up a gummy bear from the ground to eat. I advised against this. He did not listen to my plea, only to chew on said gummy bears and come to find out it had been in another students mouth just seconds before. Um, yeah, I DON'T teach elementary school.

6. I've been sticking to being a vegetarian. It's a sweet, sweet fresh life!

7. I just rediscovered an old poem by Maya Angelou:

A free bird leaps on the back

Of the wind and floats downstream

Till the current ends and dips his wing

In the orange suns rays

And dares to claim the sky.

While so many are struggling to claim their piece of sky....mine is blue and clear for now. And I'm gonna enjoy that while it lasts...in between the storms. Oh yeah, and I just reserved my hotel for Venice. That's some blue, blue sky!
P.S. Jenn, I don't know if this is entertaining to you....but here's something I found funny if you want to take a gander!!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Matt & Katherine

I had such an amazing time photographing Matt and Katherine's wedding on Thursday. They are so in love, so amazing, so beautiful, and I am so lucky to have them both in my life. This was a quiet moment I caught between the two of them. The day was sunny, but still a bit chilly. It's nice to be wrapped up in an embrace, fully, in love, isn't it?

You can see the whole event here!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

D'Arcy gets Shot

I was born ready to learn. I was a curious child and asked endless questions and was continually creating stories and ideas to fit my world.

I envied my older sister (five years older). She had the pretty blue room. She didn't have to share with anyone. She had all the cool things. Amongst her belongings was a golden yellow booster chair like the one featured aboved. When she became too large to sit in it, she would place her dolls in it and pretend to feed them. In contrast, I was the PERFECT size for the chair. I dreamed of owning it. Of sitting in it at the table so I could be taller. Of putting my dolls in it and feeding them.

Oh, the dreams of a young girl's heart!

During the booster seat-envy-phase, I was also preparing for school. I went to preschool when I was still two (almost three) which sounds crazy now. I stayed in preschool until I was four. At four, I was going to start kindergarten and I couldn't wait.

There was just one thing.

I had to get the booster shots.

But this was ok. I was prepared to take the pain, because I logically worked it out in my mind that when I got my boosters shots...then the nurse with shiny hair and a pristine, white uniform and angelic voice would congratulate me and hand me a beautiful, new, golden booster seat. All in slow motion.

It just made sense: booster shots merited a booster seat...I mean, where else would you get a booster seat?

The awaited day came. My father took me to get the shots. I was determined not to cry or show any sign of pain (as I thought that might be reason for them NOT to give me the seat). I went in and was the bravest four year old you ever saw. All the nurses said so. There were screaming kids all over that waiting room, and my father was proud that his kid wasn't throwing a fit, showing fear, or just being annoying with tears. He was beaming with pride.

I waited.

I got shot.

It hurt like hell and I wanted to cry.

But I didn't.

The nurse had shiny hair and a white pristine uniform and the voice of an angel as she congratulated me.

And then she patted my head and sent me on my way.

I was confused.

I looked up and said, "Um, excuse me. But, where is my booster seat?"

The nurse and my father exchanged glances, unsure what I was talking about.

"You mean, your booster shots? Well, honey, you just got it. And you were a very, very brave girl." And she patted my head again. My father echoed her praise and started walking away.

"Wait, no! I got a booster shot. Now I want my booster seat!"

The two looked at each other and the nurse started LAUGHING at me! LAUGHING.

"You don't get a booster seat just because you got a booster shot. How funny. Whan an imagination."

I felt dejected. Awful. And I waited before we were back in the truck before I let the weeping, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth begin.

My poor dad didn't know what to do.

Sometimes I feel like I still create these type of logical explanations in life. This sound like it should equal this. And when it doesn't. I'm not sure what cruel joke life is playing on me. I go through something painful because I'm sure the reward will be worth it. And sometimes, the reward is just a pat on the head.

The end.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Using her Tiara

April and I have gotten a little hooked on the first season of Wonder Woman. The clothes, the moves, the lasso, the tiara. 1976 was the year of great television and the beginning of girl power on TV.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

God's a Woman Too

I found this video while reading over at Kate Lord Brown's website.

I've been pondering a question today. A question that makes no sense. I've wondered how people who claim to love you can be the quickest to speak harshly to you when you do or do not deserve it. When you feel love for someone, shouldn't it be the easiest thing in the world to speak words of love to them, even when you're angry? Don't we all reach an age where we learn how to handle other people's mistakes or shortcomings gracefully, ESPECIALLY with those we love? I guess that's a Godlike attribute that many would say we lack, but I'm hopeful. I've been hurt a lot. A lot. But I can honestly say that I have not ever purposefully or intentionally tried to hurt someone with my words. I've never said "I love you" to someone and then turned around and said "fuck you" to that same person the next day. Is it true that love and hate can be that closely connected?

That's the thing. I got an emotional sucker punch in the face this morning.  A very big FUCK YOU right to the gut. And yet, instead of crying and scrambling around doing what women do best in trying to apologize for causing it (even if I didn't) or blaming myself (even if it's not my fault) or questioning my own valid feelings (even if they don't match with what someone wants me to feel)....well, ok, I DID do all of those things for most of the day....but instead of being pulled into this pit of failure or sadness, I decided not to go hide in a corner like the wounded puppy I felt like. 

That's right, instead of feeling too trampled to move forward, I actually felt a pull to better myself, push myself, and to let that Phoenix rise and fly, even if I go my journey alone (And Paris alone this summer is a big manifestation of just what my life has in store for me). Then I found this song, and  actually it seemed to fit my mood. You can tell the singer is powerful, her words alone prove that, but her voice is so small and has so much growing and things yet to prove, but she is on the brink of proving that. That's where I am in my life. That's what you are witnessing. Sure, I got hurt today, but in the end I'm responsible for my actions. I'm responsible for my happiness.

In the end, I own my reality, and I've decided I'm not going to get mad at the world or at God. I'm not looking for a man or a woman or a job or a car or a size to make me feel better about something. I've weighed all the facts, and despite it all, I'm still an optimist.

Neko Case is Woman

Album: Middle Cyclone
Artist: Neko Case
Review: In Your Speakers
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Neko Case is woman. Hear her roar. And lest you doubt, just take a glance at the album cover for her latest artistic endeavor, Middle Cyclone. Case is crouched and ready to pounce, fight, defend, and sing her heart out. In truth, she’s not much different than the animals that she writes and sings about. With the fierce gleam in her eye, you get the sensation all at once that Neko Case is simultaneously a killer whale and a magpie. She has tapped into her animal like characteristics, all the beauty, all the soul, all the chase and put it into one all too human album.

Neko Case is not a novice to her craft, and yet, with Middle Cyclone, she brings the intensity, passion, and heart of a first time recorder. In 2006, Case released Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. It was a funky combination of country rock, soulful gospel (Southern style), and some pop hymns. She sang about lions and sparrows. In Middle Cycle she sings about whales and magpies, all the while reminding us “I’m an animal, and you’re an animal, too.” Combining the talents of several of Case’s longtime friends, including Calexico, M. Ward, Los Lobos, and the New Pornographers, the album embraces a country twang as well as the beauty of a whole new type of tenderness . In Middle Cyclone, you will find Case as tangible as ever, and yet she manages to stay illusive enough to remain just out of reach (just try and decipher the lyrics of “Polar Nettles”).

With so much creative genius joined together, you’d have to seriously hate indie rock if you don’t immediately fall in love with this album. And for all of that collaboration, you get the sense that this is her show, her tour de force, and she doesn’t apologize or wonder…she knows she has created a masterpiece. Middle Cyclone also embraces something that Neko has shunned in most of her previous work: the topic of love. The album begins with “This Tornado Loves You”, in which she compares love to a near natural disaster, saying to the world that when she’s involved in loving, it can get dangerous. Her voice is as wide and strong as you’d expect from the woman on the album cover. And yet, when you listen to the title track, there is something so revealing, personal, tender, and quiet about the loneliness she reveals. She is definitely putting all of herself out on the battlefield.

Two of the albums most lyrical tracks are "I'm an Animal" and "Red Tide" because they do everything that Neko does so well. They are vast, they are poetic, they encourage you to think and sway at once. She takes to minor chords in “Prison Girls” and then goes to an old time slow dance in “Fever”. Her spunk is lilting in “The Next Time You Say Forever” where she threatens violence to the next man who makes false promises to her. Following that up with “People Got A Lot of Nerve” drives her point home.

What stands out above all else is the care, love, craft, and soul that Case put into every detail of Middle Cyclone’s creation. From finding as many pianos on Craigslist that she could cram into a Vermont barn for recording, to the sax solos, the beating drums, and the quick succession of each track to create a work of art that gives the impression that while intense, quick and intelligent, she also has all the time in the world to do what she loves.