Archive for February, 2011

Is that a pregnant bird?

February 13, 2011

Yesterday the temperature got into the upper 40s.  The 40s probably doesn’t sound warm to most people, but when you were raised in the Uintah Basin like I was, and winter brings back the memories of:

Our car refusing to start because it got to -40 (yes minus 40) in the night.  Of course when the car doesn’t start that means the little kiddos – myself among them – get to walk to school.

Those walks.  Where my hair was still damp because I never could really gather myself in a timely fashion in the morning.  By the time I got to school my snot was frozen to my nose hair and my hair was frozen solid.

Our wood burning stove that made our entire house smell like burnt bacon but I didn’t care because I could curl up next to it and actually feel warm.

The buckets of water that sat on top of the wood burning stove – boiling up moisture into the dry arid air.  And Dad making me pour the buckets into my bath water so “save a few bucks” in hot water bills.  Don’t you know the biggest expense of taking a bath is the energy it takes to heat up the water, not the water itself?

But the thing I remember most about winter has always been the arrival of spring.  When the sun shines and the mercury rises and I walk outside to bask in it.  As my soul starts to thaw I realize how paralyzed I have been by the winter. It isn’t until my core starts to wake up that I realize I have been sleep walking through the last few months.

Once a friend (trying to be helpful) told me that what I needed to do was find some activities that I like to do outside in the winter so that I could have a fun, enjoyable, reason to endure winter.   I told him that winter is like the famous saying about peas.

I’m glad I don’t like peas. Because if I liked them, I would eat them. And if I ate them that would be gross because I don’t like peas.

If I were outside playing in the snow, someone might think I was enjoying myself.  And I don’t want anyone to be confused here.  Because I hate winter. And snow.  And cold. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  SO NO, I don’t go outside and “play” in the snow.  The best thing about winter is the onset of spring.

All this to say that yesterday when the sun was shining and the temperature was in the upper 40s, the inversion was absent, and the air was fresh and clear, we all decided it was time to get out.  Riley hopped on his scooter, Casey on his bike, and Kim and I walked along behind them soaking up the sun rays.  Cold. But pretending it was warmer than it was.

As we rounded a corner a block or so from our house we saw a giant bird perched on the highest branch of a neighbor’s tree.  This was the biggest, fattest bird perched on the teeniest tiniest limb.  But it was the highest limb and I could just imagine the bird deciding whether or not the limb would hold….”Well it’s worth a try….it’s at least a foot closer to this amazing ball of warmth than any other branch here.”  Anyway, we all pointed to the bird and started talking about how big it was.  where it was perched etc.

Then they were racing away on their scooter and bike again.

It seems that the more educated I become, the more fundamental common sense I lose.  Luckily they were out of earshot when I commented, “I wonder if that bird is pregnant, it’s so big.”

Kim just looked at me, “Really? ”

Um, yah, I’m just glad my four year old was now a hundred yards ahead of me, I didn’t need my toddler telling me that birds lay eggs.

Crisis diverted.  My toddler still thinks I’m smart – at least for now.

And the moral of this cautionary tale is a lesson I thought I had learned a long time ago but the bird served as a reminder –

if you have to ask if someone is pregnant, it’s best to just remain quiet.



A rare proud virgin

February 8, 2011

One night my Sophomore year of college, the roommates and I were having a conversation about love and dating and other aspects of college living. I was at Utah State University.  I had five roommates.  They were all active LDS women.  All but one was from Utah.  Even having lived in Utah my entire life, living with five of them was culture shock.  I’m sure they were equally in culture shock having to live with me.

One roommate – the subject of this post – was particularly Molly.  I think she had gone on fewer than a half a dozen dates in her whole life.  She certainly had not “dated” anyone exclusively.  And come to think of it, I believe it was her cousin who took her to prom.  Let’s be clear here.  Her cousin took her to prom because she didn’t have a date.  She didn’t have a date because she wasn’t popular.  She wasn’t popular for myriad reasons one of which was probably because she made it clear that she wasn’t “easy.”

So we were all sitting around the common room visiting about life and love and Molly piously announces that she is a virgin and she cherishes it.  A proud virgin.  No.  I believe she said a “rare proud virgin.”  A couple of the other Mollies chimed in that they too were proud virgins and quickly the eyes shifted to me, waiting for me to disclose my sexual history, but I simply informed them that they shouldn’t be proud of something that has never been at risk.  Virginity is not to be treated as some sacred commodity when one has never been tempted to lose it.

My theory at the time was this:

It isn’t until you’re in the back seat of a car, someone’s hands are up your shirt, and your heart is beating rapidly that you really know how important your virginity is to you.  Only when you have known temptation and refused to give in can you proclaim yourself to be a Proud Virgin.

The Mollies were not going to find themselves in the back seat of a car in the first place so they weren’t going to get themselves in a position to ever really have a reason to be too proud of their rare feat of maintaining their virginity.  At the time I didn’t understand the value of Not Getting Into The Car In The First Place.

I have since come to appreciate that the best way to stay a virgin is, in fact, to simply do exactly what Molly had done.  Go to prom with her cousin.  Avoid lewd and lascivious locales like bars, bring a chaperone, make it clear that nobody’s getting nothing from this body, and NEVER EVER get in the back seat of a car.

All this to say that I’m figuratively in the back seat, someone’s hands are up my shirt, my heart is beating rapidly, I am being tempted.  Oh, and I am loving every moment of this temptation while simultaneously trying to hold on to my virginity.

I came to law school, at least I told myself that I came to law school, to change the world, to make social change, to make the world a better place for the marginalized and unfortunate.  I wasn’t Dis-interested in working at BigLaw, I seriously just had no idea about it.

So while I said I was going to go into public interest law, I did well my first semester.  I realized that I had opportunities beyond those that I had considered.  I am enticed by the thought of paying our bills, getting the boys off CHIP and MEDICAID, maybe even starting a college fund, going on vacation.  Buying a latte without feeling guilty.  Then, at the very first chance I got, I started applying to paid (and I mean well paid) summer opportunities with firms.  I didn’t admit to anyone, and certainly not to myself, that I was starting to seriously consider the possibility of a firm.  A back-up plan I said.  Or, the career office recommends everyone to apply.

And they are seductive.

Their smooth skin and polished image is arousing.

And suddenly I don’t remember why I was so intent on refusing to take off my clothes in the first place.  Virginity?  Ahhh, overrated.

If I valued this figurative virginity so much then would I have applied for these jobs in the first place?  My entire argument with my roommates was fundamentally flawed and I just now – 20 years later – see it.  Nobody should have to make a decision about virginity, partially disrobed in the backseat of a car.  At that point temptation is too much.  The really smart ones do exactly what Molly did.  I just didn’t see it at the time.

And here I am, in the back seat of a car with a dozen or so other people, we’re all taking off layers of clothes, hoping, just hoping they will see something in me that sets me apart.  I’m begging the seducer to pick me while simultaneously preparing my speech to my roommates if they don’t.  If they don’t pick me, I’ll simply proclaim myself to be a rare proud virgin.