Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kurt Vonnegut would be the author my tattoo.

If I ever get a tattoo of a quote, it will likely be the phrase from Vonnegut that thrummed through 15-year-old me like a revelation in the stacks of my small-town library--the phrase I have to remind myself of again and again: "There's only one rule that I know of, babies: God damn it, you've got to be kind.” To each other, to ourselves, again and again and again.


[photo source click here]

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hipster Missionary: I was a female Mormon missionary before it was cool.

Hipster Missionary: I was a female Mormon missionary before it was cool So the New York Times just published an article about the huge influx of female Mormon missionaries, and I just want to send out query letters for my book that say, "Hi, I've written a memoir about this exact experience. Let's publish it!"

Click here for the article. Or cut and paste this into your browser: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/us/a-growing-role-for-mormon-women.html?_r=0

Could this be any more timely?! Ack. I'm getting mildly discouraged with this project, but I can't give up hope that it really is a story that appeals to a wide audience and I've done a decent job of writing about it.

And here's the photographic evidence, from 2005, for your viewing pleasure/terror:


And in the meantime I'm up at night stressing about "platform" and "audience" and wondering if I should become a twitter whore...but part of me is tired of talking about this subject. Next, please. 

I mean, I will totally pimp this book. Just be my agent. Or publisher. Mmkay?

[It's definitely Monday. Blech.]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Childhood Crushes: The Gay Version

The second-most popular post on my blog is my childhood crushes, second only to magic Mormon underwear. Ha! Since I've finally admitted to being pretty damn gay (see my post about being bi), I thought I'd follow up with my gay childhood crushes. In retrospect, they're pretty hilarious.

1. She-ra's arch nemesis, Catra.



Why not She-ra? Well, I wanted to be She-ra, not date her. Second, I've always had a thing for brunettes, especially slightly evil ones. Meow.

2. Daria's best friend Jane Lane



Let's face it, Daria was wicked smart and wore glasses--two very hot qualities in my book--but she was such a downer. Jane Lane had that lanky, clad-in-black artist vibe, which was super hot to a small-town blond like yours truly. She was also reasonable,

3. Cher's best friend Tai in Clueless


Okay, I'm spotting a theme here for crushing on the best friend of the main character...perhaps because these characters were the perfect partners in crime. Tai was so much cuter as a tomboy. (Although I must admit, Brittany Murphy in the song/video Faster Kill Pussycat...another meow.)

4. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Raised by her two gorgeous "aunts"? Hmm...right...
Also, I know she was a "good" witch, but I'm sure she could cast a wicked spell.



5. Poison Ivy (a.k.a. Uma Thurman)



Yes, another villain. And while I'm not normally a fan of redheads or super campy characters, how could I resist her transformation from pent-up nerd to vicious environmentalist? I'd go vegan again for her. (I confess: Uma Thurman's characters almost always get my heart rate up.)


Today's crush: Alex in Orange is the New Black.



Hot. Damn.

This was, of course, my 2013 Halloween costume.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Shifting

My grandfather died this fall. Even typing those words feels surreal--a physical acknowledgment that he, the most important male in my life, is no longer here, biking around town, laughing with his family, eating brownies, playing with his great-grandchildren, fixing things for his children and grandchildren, and wielding his "patriarchal authority" so gently that it only steadied, never condemned.

I already know that I will miss him for the rest of my life.

The funeral was a little brutal. My family is all Mormon, and for the first time since I split with the church, I found myself a little jealous of their faith. How nice it would have been to, once again, have the barricade of "eternal life" and "sealed forever" to hold up against the crushing waves of grief. How much I missed believing that, as my aunt said, "He has so many people waiting for him on the other side." But amidst all the conflicting emotions I had during several conversations with and about Mormonism and faith, one emotion was noticeably absent: anger.

As anyone who has read my blog knows, (and thank you for reading, btw), anger has been a rather dominant note in my emotional chord for the past several years. A second emotion has been fear, especially the fear that because I left, my friends and family would reject me. And, in the clarity of hindsight, I've been trying to protect myself by rejecting them first. Perhaps it was necessary to gain the distance I needed to make a full break from the church, but finally I am strong and steady enough to make a U-turn and reach out again.

I'm beginning by coming out to my roommates, both about my sexuality and about my book. I lied to them throughout college about my relationship with C. (our roommate, who I was sleeping with) and it's time to come clean. I've been coming clean to my family, one sibling at a time, then a cousin, making tighter circles toward my mother. Still nervous about that one.

Anyway, yeah...less anger. Thanks for listening. Here's to moving in a more positive emotional direction for a while (and still acknowledging that "bad" feelings are legitimate, too...but nice to let go of.)

-M






Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Aspiring to be a Surfer Girl in Oregon

 This is where I live, and this is what I want to do.


Monday, May 13, 2013

to bi or not to bi

I have a problem with boxes. Ever since I busted out of the Perfect Mormon(TM) mold and began constructing a life from that wreckage, strict definitions make me claustrophobic. But sometimes I contemplate checking the box next to "bi." As Lady Jonathan writes in this rad blog post, it's a pretty fraught term.

[Disclaimer, especially for those who know me in real life: contains explicit sexual content. If you don't want to think about me naked or having a sex life, don't read this!! Save us both the embarrassment! Ok? Ok.]

Backstory for context: When I was a student at BYU in Utah, I slept with my female roommate. We had both served Mormon missions. I felt incredibly guilty and was terrified of anyone finding out, since I would've been kicked out of school, had my church membership put on probation, and been incredibly shamed by my religious community. So I never told anyone. And in my mind, what we were doing was not sex, because I was definitely not gay--I was just lonely, and screwed up, and...something...

Fast-forward 10 years. I've left the church (for reasons other than my confusing sexuality). I've only dated men, despite having crushes on women, and fell in love with a particular male and thought we would end up getting married and making babies and building a life together as a straight couple. That relationship went up in flames, but that's another story.

The juicy part of this post is that I recently met a woman I'm incredibly attracted to: she's funny, sweet, intelligent, witty, absolutely gorgeous (yes I'm a shallow Libra), ambitious, and I feel awesome around her. We talk for hours. I'm utterly twitterpated. And, because this post is inevitably leading to this: the sex is fantastic. Mind-blowing. I get full-body tingles when she texts me.

So now I'm confronting that sticky question that I put on the back burner all those years ago and left to simmer: What am I? Gay? Bi? Shouldn't I have figured this out before 30? Sigh...

For a brief moment after the Devastating Breakup of 2012, I made an OK Cupid profile and listed myself as "bi." Unfortunately, this was interpreted as "I have no type! I will sleep with anything that moves!" when, in reality, I've had fewer partners than most gay and straight people I know. (Not to be shame-y; this is just a fact.) I felt terribly awkward being approached by dudes who wanted me to seduce their straight girlfriend, or a couple wanting a threesome. So I deleted that account.

Even in offline life, there seems to be a lot of pressure to be either gay or straight. Both male and female partners I've been with have expressed worry that they "can't satisfy me." [Insert tacky joke about my dream partner being a hermaphrodite.]

I was discussing this with a friend over lunch the other day. He and I had slept together in the past, in a weird moment of consensually "using" each other that didn't ruin the friendship. (I know, miracle.) I was telling him about my new lady love. 

Me: So this is awkward, but you and I slept together, and, you know [insert gesturing toward myself to indicate that I clearly had a physical response when we were together] so how can I pick a side?

Him: I think the fact you feel like you have to pick a side is the answer. Straight people don't feel like they're picking a side, nor do gay people. But you do.

Clearly I have genius friends.

I also have friends who are not shy about asking me how I can vacillate between male and female partners. Or, more bluntly, one friend asked, "How does sex feel good without a dick?" She didn't mean this offensively--she understands that plenty of female cisgendered couples (translation: both women were born with their lady bits and identify as female) have fulfilling sex lives. But she knew I had enjoyed sex with men and was honestly curious about how I could be "satisfied" by both.

I thought about all this for quite some time, and my answer is rather indelicate: I like it when a person I'm aroused by and feel an emotional connection with puts part of their body into my body. And I like touching their body--whether they have "innie" or "outie" sexual organs--in ways that feel good to them. I don't feel like anything is "missing" when I'm in bed with a woman. I get just as much pleasure and feel just as much of that terror/exhilaration of emotional connection. (Reason #4 why I'm not very promiscuous: I tend to fall for people I sleep with.)

Why do we get so hung up on body parts, anyway? All of our bodies are different. Even within the general categories of "male" and "female" there is a LOT of variation. There are "man boobs" and flat-chested women. There are V-shapes and hourglass shapes and pear shapes and apple shapes. Ok, I have to insert this here:

I love that.

These body parts I find attractive: eyes, hands, smile creases, full lips, not-cankles, and dark hair. My biggest conundrum is that I find both beards and breasts attractive...but not on the same person. ;) But seriously, I look for plenty of physical attributes when it comes to who I want to sleep with; just not one specific type of genitals.

A much more significant part of my attraction involves how a person takes up space in the world: how they interact with others, how they use body language, and how we spark. Falling in love is not picking a side: it's picking a person. And I don't pick someone as a man, or a woman, but as an incredibly specific individual AND someone largely composed of what we all have in common: a body. A heart. A personality. A soul.

I would honestly hope that someone would consider a lot more than my uterus, vagina, and boobies (sorry, third grade humor sneaks in) when deciding whether or not I'm attractive. Even for being a six-foot-tall blond with long hair and a curvy body who wears dresses and earrings, I'm not 100% girly girl.

Par exemple:
I love wearing stilettos and short skirts, and I also own ties, a suit, and suspenders.
I love sewing and also using power tools.
I'll spend hours baking gourmet desserts, but my idea of a weeknight dinner is often popcorn and beer.
I love being called "doll" by the person I'm intimate with, and I adore having an androgynous name.
I love wearing make-up and going on fancy dates, and I love getting sweaty and dirty playing outside.

I'm sure all of us could come up with "gender-bending" paradoxes. The world is not black and white. It's no mistake that "gay" and "rainbows" go together like chocolate and peanut butter because the strongest rallying cry I can find that unites the GLBTQ community is acceptance of diversity. Now THAT is a revolutionary concept.

And finally, if I feel the need to be with more than just my primary partner, that would be called polyamory, not bisexuality.

So yeah. I'm setting up residence on the goddamn fence.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This is water.

There are many days when my mantra is "This is water...This is water..."

As always, the book is better than the movie, but this is beautiful in its own way.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Eating rain for breakfast

Recently I went to LA/San Diego for a weekend of sun and surfing. Ironically, it rained. (Cue Alanis here.) I surfed anyway, because that is what I do. In the words of my dear friend Arla, "Don't they know you eat rain for breakfast?" (If you're a bike commuter in Portland all winter, this is true.)

It was a pretty rough day of surfing. The waves were coming choppy and at angles, and I accidentally caught a *huge* one. It shot me forward and I held onto my board for a couple seconds before the curl crashed down over me, knocking me off my board and pulling me underwater. As I spun in the ocean's washing machine for what felt like forever, I began to panic. What if I never surfaced? What if I drowned? I was completely overwhelmed by the force of the water, lungs burning, hair wrapped around my throat. But then the spinning slowed, and I stopped flailing. I opened my eyes to see a spectrum of calm blue and rising bubbles, and I figured out which way to swim.

Before I surfed in the washing machine.
Last night was rough, and to be totally honest, it scared me a little. I keep thinking that I'm at a place where I will stop getting knocked off my feet by pain, self-doubt, and despair. I keep thinking I've learned enough healthy coping mechanisms and made so much progress (thank you, therapy) that my emotional "baggage"  will stop making me a "difficult person to be around" (as my ex so charmingly put it). I keep thinking maybe I'll be fun and sunshine and rainbows 24/7.

Just to be clear: I'm not bipolar. I have a therapist (and she doesn't think I need to be medicated). ;) I'm high-functioning and an affable, enthusiastic, and even joyful human being who is deeply grateful for all the good in my life (see: friends, job, city, lifestyle, etc.). This is all true. But it is also true that my emotions run deep, and they are not always sparkly I-am-Wonder-Woman feelings, unfortunately. And I confess, when I go to that dark place, I arms-distance everyone around me and get lost in the death-spiral of self-pity and am convinced that no one will ever know and still love pathetic, nauseatingly bleak little me. It's so ridiculous that it's hilarious...except when I'm in it.

So anyway, last night I was slow-boiling myself in the bathtub, listening to sad music and feeling awash in teary pessimism, when I had a small epiphany. I realized that perhaps the key to getting through my rough patches, just like the surfing incident, is learning to be quiet through the pain. Perhaps I've finally been in this dark place enough to know--and I mean really know on a brains-and-gut level--that feeling bad doesn't last forever. Sadness won't kill me. And if I can just hold my breath for a moment longer, if I can stop flailing and panicking, if i can figure out which direction to swim in, things will be okay again. I will surface, coughing and sputtering, a little shocked and waterlogged, but alive.

These are novel ideas for me: to stop being so afraid of negative emotions; to stop regarding my occasional moments of being swamped by sadness as my ugly impediment to being loveable; to be quiet in the darkness, sure in my strength to swim upward, even if it means waiting patient in the spin.

I got back on my board that day in San Diego. After a rough night, I'm at work, laughing with my staff, throwing myself into everything I believe is important and worthwhile. I keep getting in the ocean, so to speak, knowing that I'm strong enough to keep swimming. I keep eating rain for breakfast.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If being too enthusiastic about things stops me from ever being coolly ironic, I'm okay with that. I like stuff. A lot.