Archive for July, 2009

News according to a not so impartial source

July 28, 2009

So there are random tidbits of news that have been popping through my head all morning – news that keeps invading my thoughts while I try to figure it all out. Some site, Princeton Review or someone, just ranked BYU as the #1 Stone Cold Sober school in the nation. Newsworthy? Why not. But surprising? Not really. In other news, an elephant is about to give birth at Utah’s zoo – after being pregnant for almost 2 years. Again, probably not worth the time I keep thinking about the event, but I have so much empathy for this poor mamma elephant pregnant in the heat of Utah’s summer. Can’t they ship her off to Alaska for the last few months or so? Seems so much more humane. But really, having to be pregnant for 21 months + doesn’t seem too humane either.

The real news. The stuff I can’t get out of my head is this story. The amount of money that Utah spends on education. And this story, the kiss-in at Main Street Plaza.

Okay, so here goes. I feel like anger like battery acid corroding my stomach and seeping out.  I’m angry because the state of Utah spends less money per pupil on education than any other state. The state spends less than $6000 per pupil – more than $4000 less than the national average and about $9000 less per pupil than states like New York and New Jersey (who lead the pack on money spent.) There should be widespread outrage. Top education officials in Utah are saying things like – this means larger class sizes for Utah students. Fewer course offerings. Less professional development dollars for teachers – fewer counselors. Continued low teacher pay. But the mass outrage doesn’t arrive.  Instead, I’m hearing nothing but praise for the state.   The nutjobs, and I am not just talking about the crazies who call into KSL, but actual people, the nutjobs we call the citizenry of Utah – people in the office, people in the neighborhood, people in the news, people on the bus are RAVING about Utah. Can you believe it? The state spends the least amount of money per pupil to educate and we aren’t dead last in achievement.   Isn’t that great? WE AREN’T DEAD LAST IN ACHIEVEMENT.  I’m surrounded by people who think that Utah spends our money more efficiently than other states and that we should just jump up and down to celebrate the fiscal responsibility. Some are even saying that we should be a model to other states. We educate cheaply, efficiently, and our children don’t suffer THAT MUCH. Can you see the slippery slope here? It isn’t too much of a logical fallacy leap – and not much of a leap at all for people who think that Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus hopped on over to North America to spend some time with indigenous folks, wrote another book and then was resurrected.  Or whatever Jesus timeline we’re dealing with here. Point is, we aren’t exactly following logic now are we? What I was saying is that there isn’t too much of a leap to,
education is such a bargain
equals
I think I’ll have another kid
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maybe I can get eight or nine and really cash in on the deal before it’s too late

The second bit of news that keeps flying around my head is the kissing on Main Street Plaza event. This thing just won’t die down. Since July 9th when a gay couple was detained and ticketed for trespassing on Main Street Plaza, this thing has been in the news. And before I launch into any more rant, I want to take a teeny weeny break to post a couple of pictures of us – the H-Ps kissing in front of god and everyone.

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As much action as we ever get while holding one kid, trying not to lose the other.

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Sharing filthy kisses.

Riley was just glad we didn’t get arrested, Riley’s “nightmare” the night before we went.

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Kim, giving one helluva explanation as to why those people are chaining themselves to the gate, and those other people are in their face yelling about how god hates us and we’re all going to hell.

Yes we went.  And I am glad we did.  But I keep thinking about the event – all the events.  The two men walking home after a concert and sharing a moment in the serenity and beauty of downtown Salt Lake.  And then the  “kiss-in” in response to the harassment.  And there we were protesters on private property.   And there they were.  The protesters who were protesting the protesters who were shouting the land is sacred religious space and that we’ve violated it with our filthy kisses.   And a protester emerging as a leader, his voice calm and inviting against the backdrop of the shouting telling us that all are welcome here and to please gather closer and respectfully be seen and known and kissed.  And the reason I keep thinking of this is that this thing illustrates the gray. The hues of black and white mixed together in such a complicated concoction of private property and human rights, and issues of access to the downtown of a city and hurt and harassment and Proposition 8 which I really cannot just write like that, I actually am now compelled to write Proposition h8 because really we have to address the hate “the everyone is a sinner, but YOU PEOPLE take the cake” attitude that prevails here.  But private property.  I value that.  It is so gray.

There are some people who want to know if the kiss was “inappropriate.”  They want to know whether the incident was a peck on the cheek.  Or a bigger kiss.  Or a grope.  And I guess I want to know too.  But truth is, no matter what the kiss was like, it was deemed “inappropriate” long before those two young men engaged in it.  And lets be real here.  I’ve seen some heavy action on the Plaza.  Typically hetero-action where the gal is in a long white dress and the guy in some fancy tux and there’s also usually a photographer catching the lip-lock for time and all eternity.  What about those filthy kisses?

The language around this subject is also fascinating. Whether you call the space the kiss occurred the Main Street Plaza or the Church Temple Grounds depends completely on where you align on the issue. And NOBODY wants to talk about the time that the city owned Main Street Plaza and in fact, it was called the Free Speech Zone, and people actually had a fundamental right to gather and protest. But here, when the church wants something it gets it, and a controversial land swap happened shortly after and Main Street Plaza is now part of World Domination Headquarters, I mean Mormon Church Owned Property.  Supposedly this is still public access private property.  But there’s obvious caveats to the “public.”  No gays.  No smokers.  And if you happen to be the foul-mouthed profanity-spitting type, you might want to walk the extra block to State Street with the gays.

Its not possible that the Founding Fathers could even conceive of churches owning empires when they granted tax exempt status.  Farms.  Businesses.  Tithing.  Now that’s a greater plan even than a ponzi scheme.  In a ponzi scheme, there are investors expecting to be paid.  But with religion, you pay the 10% hoping that god will grant you blessings and if he doesn’t then you must have had it coming.  Maybe you should try harder.  Maybe your reward will come in the afterlife.  Maybe, just maybe, you should have given 15%.  We’re talking a business with billions in assets – who really knows – because these churches don’t have to file taxes.

Then I feel the shame.  The shame that I am spouting bitterness through clenched teeth just like the rest.  And a shame that’s even more raw than the clenched teeth shame, the shame that writing my truth, my bitter truth, actually makes me feel better.  Even if just for now, just for the moment, I’ve let the steam off.

The real problem is that the hurt hasn’t healed. The scars of childhood get opened again and again as I watch my children endure what I endured.  What I continue to endure.  I know that I simply cannot internalize it. I know that I simply cannot let my children internalize it. And the truth is, a church shouldn’t own Main Street Plaza.  Or a city. Or a state. But it does. And that plaza.  That city. Indeed that state. Must make room for me. Because. At least for now. I live here too.

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It is true. She wanted to pee at IKEA

July 25, 2009

Kim read my last post and apparently didn’t approve of the spin I put into the post.

Spin.

This isn’t a political blog.  “What spin?” I inquired.

“I won’t be happy until you post the picture and ADMIT that I WANTED TO PEE AT IKEA.”

Alright.  Alright.  If it is important enough for my partner to want Internet folks to know, I guess I had better post the picture and admit that she wanted to pee at IKEA.

But first, the only reason I didn’t want to pee at IKEA is that it was close to 7 PM already and the Kennecott Visitor’s Center was going to close at 8 PM.  And what kind of a self-respecting Visitor’s Center doesn’t offer restrooms?  Besides, IKEA makes me uncomfortable with their family restrooms and free wet wipes and yummy smelling hand soap.  I wouldn’t want my offspring to inherit their peeing entitlement from their OTHER mother now would I?

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That’s right.  I got to be the one to teach our toddler how to pee in a porta-potty without touching anything.  And it was only fair.  AFTER ALL, SHE WANTED TO PEE AT IKEA!

As beautiful as destruction can be

July 22, 2009

This past weekend we decided to take Saturday afternoon and have a family date.  Casey has wanted to go to the zoo for the last few weeks so we gathered the boys up with the intention of going.  We made it all the way to the glass recycling drop-off to deposit some beer bottles before making it to the zoo.

The engine was shut off for merely 10 seconds when I realized I was, in fact, NOT, going to make it to the zoo.  It was hot.  And I mean burn the rage right into my gut hot.  I mean, sweating from pores I didn’t know I had hot.  I mean, “stop touching me, you’re sticky hot.”  The bitch comes out when I’m hot and I just wasn’t going to make it through the stank that is July at the zoo, especially in Phoenix weather, no matter how much I love the kid.   Casey cried and I did feel bad.  What kind of a parent loads the kids up and says, “hey kiddies, you get to go to the zoo today” parades them right past the zoo on the way to the recycling spot, and then announces, “umm.  Never mind.  No zoo for you.”?

I knew I owed the boys something special, and nothing says special like an air-conditioned IKEA with free babysitting, and meatballs.  I knew Casey would forgive me.  And promptly he did.

Since we were in the neck of the woods anyway, and since we’d never been before, we decided that we’d swing by Kennecott Utah Copper Mine after Ikea.  By then it was almost 7 PM and I figured it’d be a bit cooler.  I had no idea that the mine would be such a hit for the kiddies.  I guess nothing says redemption like land destruction so large you can see it from the moon.  It truly was awesome in a sad, this used to be a beautiful canyon and now it’s a ¾ of a mile deep pit sort of way.

The boys ran around, begged for quarters to peek in binoculars to watch the active mining that continued well after we left.  And Casey was in his own version of heaven.  There were trucks everywhere – tractors, dump trucks – huge trucks that could trounce our house in a second.  And the boys held still and watched the wonder of the activity below.  It was like watching Casey playing trucks in a sandbox, but the trucks held people and continued an assembly line of efficiency below.  The largest man-made excavation on earth became Casey’s playground and the wonder of his face continued well after Riley lost interest and bounced into the gift shop and the visitor’s center.

We really truly do have a boy.  A boy boy.  A trucks and big holes and sandbox boy.  And with that, I give you a few pics from the day.

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Twilight sucks but I keep on reading

July 14, 2009

I am sick, disgusted, and ashamed of myself so it makes it hard to admit (much less to THE Internet) that I have been sucked into the Twilight series craze that I have seen snowballing for the last few years. It all happened a couple of weeks ago when my 13 year old niece left the Twilight book at my house. This young lady had already read the book a few times, and had seen the movie countless times. She left it and one night I picked it up. It was a quick read. Misogynistic. Lusty. A guilty pleasure I suppose. I then felt compelled to read the whole series and the further I get the more I want to scream. To put them down. To throw them out. But they are truly like a bad drug and I am so far in, my only option is to ride out the high and finish the damn books.

My niece returned to my house this weekend to reclaim her book. I made the mistake of asking her what she thought of the books and she responded with something like, “I know that I will wait for MY Edward.”

How many gorgeous, vegetarian, overprotective vampires are there out there? I’m not sure she’s going to find her Edward. Is it really Edward we should be chasing here? This is the real problem I see. Jacob Black is safe. He’s nice. He’s even lovely. He loves her. She loves him. She even refers to him as her soul mate. But no. She has to throw that all away for a scary, strong, exciting, “I might crush you by accident” vampire. There’s just too many parallels to domestic violence for me to be comfortable telling my niece that she should definitely wait for someone she lusts after, keeps secrets from, and who can break her in half at the first sign of losing his temper.

I know. I know. I’m overanalyzing. But that’s who I am. My nieces (yes plural) are reading trash and getting more and more tied to the idea of some dangerous and exciting man who will swoop in and protect them for the rest of their lives. AND THEY LIKE THAT IMAGE!

It just bugs me. Yet here I am picking up the 4th and final (thankfully!) book. Sorry. I’ll blog soon. I have 700 disgusting pages to read.