One summer evening, my mission companion and I were in the plaza near our apartment attempting to do some street contacting. A woman approached us and asked “do you think you can you help me?” I looked up at her and noticed that she had a black eye, a bandaged nose, and bruises down one arm. A man was holding her by the elbow, glowering at both of us. My heart sank–I hoped she had recently been in a car accident, but feared that something much worse was going on. I had no idea how I should respond, especially as a missionary in a foreign country working in a language and culture that weren’t my own. My companion and I briefly talked with the woman and exchanged phone numbers with her before the man guided her away and she disappeared into the crowd. When we tried the phone number she had given us, we found that it had been disconnected. This woman and her face still pop up in my mind from time to time, and fifteen years later I wonder if there really was anything I could have done to help her.
A few weeks ago, By Common Consent published a post about the recent Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, asking what we can do about domestic violence and abuse within our Church congregations. Some who commented expressed surprise that the author of the post implied that every ward of the Church has at least one “Ray Rice” in it; I agree that this particular extrapolation of statistics may not be fully correct and hope that there isn’t someone in every ward who regularly beats their spouse into unconsciousness. However, I’ve also seen enough situations to know that abuse takes many forms and Church members are not immune. Think about the following scenarios for a moment: Continue reading
I was pregnant with my first child and in graduate school when I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. As I listened to my classmates, mostly older mothers, talk at length about the sense of malaise they’d felt when their kids were young, I thought it would never happen to me. I would never fall prey to “the problem that has no name.” I was educated. I had chosen to become a mother, so certainly I would not be one of those women who ferried cub scouts all day and lay in bed at night wondering, “‘Is this all?'”
Fifteen years later, it’s my preoccupying worry.
A few years ago, I won a writing contest, and got a check for $50 in the mail. I didn’t want to cash it; I wanted to frame it. It’s the only time I’ve ever made money for my writing. It was both incredibly gratifying to be paid and a little bit depressing to see that the sum total of years of my work is less than my husband could make in an hour. Marriage isn’t a competition– I know that. But it still rankles. Continue reading
In the world of Harry Potter, a boggart is a shape-shifting creature that hides in enclosed spaces like closets or cabinets. When released, the boggart takes on the shape of its victim’s worst fear. At school, Harry and his friends battle boggarts that look like giant spiders, disappointed teachers, or bloody mummies; in one particularly poignant scene towards the end of the series, Molly Weasley confronts a boggart that keeps turning into each of her family members dying, in turn. I’ve got a boggart in my closet, and it seems to change shape too. Sometimes it looks like the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, spouting gibberish and flinging cats at anyone who tries to approach her. Other days I think it might be Eponine, patron saint of lonely third-wheels perpetually stuck in the friend zone. Perhaps it’s Miss Havisham, moldering away in her wedding dress. Continue reading
Lapis Lazuli ring of love
I am a proponent of having friends and family of all ages, faiths and “worthiness-es” join to support and celebrate marriages on the wedding day. There is something moving and profound in answering “We will!” when an officiator asks the gathered crowd, “Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to support these two and their marriage?” Regardless of what you send the couple off their registry, this communal commitment to support and sustain their marriage with them is the best wedding present of all.
That feels absolutely right to me.
A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune mentioned the prospect that soon LDS couples in North America may not have to wait a year between having a civil wedding and their temple sealing. This is standard in most other areas of the international church.
Hallelujah, I say. This adds a dimension of honor to the couple’s promises for this life – and their covenants beyond time.
So with all this joy, hope and love in the air, I offer you a little literary frolic. It’s a non-rhyming poetic puzzle which provides the answer to the question:
When Did Vincent Finally Commit?
Vincent vanished into the vault, vowing to return with valuables.
Amanda, annoyed at his absence, altered her attitude when, at
Last, laden with lapis lazuli, he lavishly locked lip to lip with her.
Encircling his enamorata with embraces, he exclaimed while
Nestling a nice nugget over her knuckle, “En-
Twine with me th’eternal tendrils of your timelessness,
In integrity, ingenuity and imagination – both in illness and inoculation – in perpetuity
Never to nick off to nether lands, nor nag nor niggle nor canoodle with another.
Sighing, she said,
“Darling, I DO!”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
“Well, the break up takes place in parts. The brain, the heart, the body, mutual things, shared things. The mind leaves but the heart is still there. The heart has left but the body wants to stay. The body leaves but the things are still at the apartment. You must come back. You move everything out of the apartment. You must come back. You move everything out of the apartment but the mind stays behind. Memory lingers in the place. Seven years later, perhaps seven years later, it doesn’t matter anymore. Perhaps it takes longer. Perhaps it never ends.”
– Paula from Fefu and her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes
One of the most interesting plays I ever performed in was Fefu and her Friends. It’s a feminist play that’s pretty prickly around the edges. The characters (all female) muse on different topics: relationships, evil, genitals, charity skits, etc. I found it confusing, yet exhilarating at the same time, with poetic passages that have stuck with me long after the performance.
The quote above is given by the character, Paula, speaking of human connections and the process of breaking up. It’s a convoluted monologue, but the statements resonate. I’ve never had a clean break up—the separation occurs in stages, often erratically, with one part of the psyche alternately hanging on, and then letting go when another part kicks in. Continue reading