Saturday, May 23, 2009

Virtuous, or I'll Never Cheapen Her...

So when you wake up to your mother making ear splitting chocking and gagging sounds and 3:45 in the morning and you run into her room an adrenaline worried mess and it turns out she just has super heart burn because she downed some Taco Bell nachos way too late at night but you thought she was chocking to death and you're still so adrenaline ridden hour later you hands are still shaking and you're wide awake there is only one thing to do.


And blog about calming things.

Like sacrament talks that are over so you have 20/20 retrospect on the matter. I know I said I was going to blog about this earlier but, well, the week got away from me.

So for the 3 of my 6 readers that weren't there (and you 3 that were, I love you to bits - thank you) here is the gist of my thoughts.

My assignment was Elane Dalton's talk, A Return to Virtue, from the Nov '08 Ensign.

D&C 121:45 is also our ward theme this year, so Bro. Forester (my bishopric member that gave the assignment) let me know with a certain amount of gravitas, well as much as his jovial self could muster, that this was something they really wanted covered.

I took the assignment and was grateful for the chance to speak, but I kind of giggled to myself for a few reasons.

1) The Church erroneously uses the term "virtue" interchangeably with "chastity" so that essentially meant that the bishopric was passing off the quarterly sex talk to me and I found that funny.

2) I am the super open hippie's kid. We grew up talking pretty openly and candidly about sex and it's roll and implications. This is also a stark contrast to Mormon Cultural norms which, when it comes to sex takes on the "don't ask, don't tell, don't do anything for that matter till you're married. Then - have at it"

I have always found this puritanical approach to chastity less effective. In fact, I think it does a lot more harm than good.

These were my thoughts that I shared in my talk in no significant order

1) Our sexuality isn't something to be afraid off and packaged up and left alone till the fairy tale of Marriage comes along and somehow provides all answers and questions. It's this monster under the bed that we just have to learn to live with and work around. The culture has made it scary and dirty and something that can destroy us if we let it.

I refute that. I think when *doctrinally* examined that we will find a different case. *Fornication* or the abuse of our sexual powers is a huge, nasty, and vile thing. This eschewment has trended toward vilifying that fact that we have sexual tendencies, sexual identities.

I submit that our sexual capacities are some of the most beautiful parts of our person, of our eternal identities. There isn't a state we enter in in mortality that is more god-like than those moments, where we become creators and selflessly exist for someone else.

The crowning ordinances of the temple are all support columns and sacred hedgerows that protect and sanctify our sexual identities. I think that the sanctity and level of reverence we have for the temple should be proportional to the things that the temple protects, which is the family, the physical and emotional connection of a man and a woman. Think about it for a second, like really equate those two and let the Spirit teach you something and help you throw away toxic cultural norms.

I think because it's so close to who we really are and plays so directly into our eternal identities that it comes under the heaviest of fire from the Adversary and its manipulated, trivialized and reduced to selfish recreation and entertainment. OR, and this is just as destructive in my opinion, if the Adversary can't get someone to forsake the covenant the swing the pendulum as far as they can the other way.

They shut off that part of their person. They ignore it. They become afraid of it (like I said before) and buy into the concept that once a wedding ring is on your finger the world changes; you can see fairys and rainbows and galloping unicorns. Marriage isn't the tunnel from LA to Toon Town (start at 2:20). You're not all of a sudden aware and comfortable with every element of your body. I don't know how many people I know that once they got married and tried to consummate it, failed for months because they had to get used to this whole new side of themselves. They had spent their lifetime up to that point stuffing themselves into a proverbial box instead of getting to know themselves and how to *control* themselves.

Head in the ground thinking like that isn't obedience. Obedience is a very deliberate, informed, and pointed state of being. That, my friends, is ignorance. And yes someone completely disconnected from their sexuality isn't sinning but they're not a whole person. They're not learning control and respect. They're not humbling those powers at all. They're not progressing. You tell me which would be a bigger offence to The Plan and our Father in Heaven and what makes a bigger mockery of the Atonement. I know what I'd say.

Now I am by no means encouraging anyone to break the law of chastity as a way of "getting to know yourself". That's not what I mean. Don't go getting ready to go fly your freak flag.

What I'm saying is that I see our sexuality as any other appetite. It needs to be acknowledged, learned about, and controlled. I see it as the difference between anorexia and proper nutrition. Learning to recognize who we are and embracing it, loving it, and respecting it enough to keep it in its proper time and place is a lot harder than just cutting loose or straight jacketing ourselves, sticking our heads in the ground and waiting for Marriage D-Day. It just doesn't work like that.

It's very possible to talk about something all the time and reverence it. We do it with the temple all the time. Why can't we give sex the same respect? I think it would be nothing but beneficial. But like I said, that's just me.

And honestly, "virtue" doesn't exclusively mean sexual purity. Its from the Latin virtus which means strength. It means to be strong. Now, given, our sexual purity and how well we keep the law of chastity is a pretty definitive litmus test for where our moral strength is, how converted we are to the testimonies we have, but it is not just about sex.

It's about being a whole person, about being a spiritual Olympian, about taking not just sexually compromising situations or temptations, but ANY kind of morally compromising situation and being strong enough to make a decision our Heavenly Father would want us to and dealing with the consequences.

And now I'm finally getting tired so I'll leave off there.

Please discuss, question me, do whatever, just start thinking and talking in some form or another. That's all I ask, that's all I want.

That and my mom not to wake me up at 4 am in a panic attack.

A pox on the Taco Bell - a pox on you. It's grade E meat anyway. The the lowest grade they can use and still legally call it meat. Just. Don't. Do. It.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Open Letter

Dear Real World,

I am seriously thinking we might have to break up soon. You keep throwing these impossible insane people and situations at me and I'm not sure how much more my bleeding heart and thin skin can take.

Like this latest employment episode, was this some elaborate fraternity prank? That's the only way I can explain how truly terrible it was.

Firstly, I should have known something was up when the dude was so eager to hire me. I mean, I know I'm brilliant and cute and smell really good so any straight thinking 35 year old male would be sold. But this wasn't a date, it was a *job*.

Secondly, I should have known that the hellish 19 mile commute that took over an hour and a half EVERY day both ways should have been a deal breaker.

Applying for a simple secretary position and finding myself with not only one but two desks of work to do for not only one but two companies should have also been a warning sign. All this for two companies who happen to be totally unrelated to each other and have two totally different needs. One of many being a capable and trained accountant that boss-man just assumed "because I was smart" that I could just step into, despite my protests and admonitions of only having "light accounting" as in balancing my check book.

People go to school for years and study for years after that to be able to keep up a full set of auditable books, much less two of them. Oh - and the detailed and helpful instructions of "just go and do this" were invaluable in dealing with the waves of overwhelmed "wtf" and my helpless internal hysterical laughter.

So when boss-man comes back in all of 20 minutes demanding a pretty and accurate one page report of the "this" and I'm still starring blank eyed at the instruction manual and begin to ask a clarifying question and he oh so sensitively yells back "DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TWICE??" - um - yeah. That's not so conducive to my productivity.

Or having boss-man call almost every weekend asking me to come to do things as meager as send an email when he knows I'm 100s of miles away at Coachella and not exactly available to drive 4 hours to come into the office to send and email that isn't an emergency to someone that can't look at it till Monday anyway. A bit irrational you think?

I don't mean to be picky but also have a suggestion in the responsibility section of things. When someone hires someone else, lets try to make sure its not just to have someone to dump all of the problems they've left hanging or have managed to avoid/ignore.

Like say, when an individual has started a business that costs about 25K a month to keep up (not including payroll or anything else, just infrastructure support) and you're only billing customers about 17K a month, you're going to run into some problems running that kind of deficet. Look at the State of California and the US for that matter. AND that's assuming that everyone will pay their bills on time every month, which they don't. SO - putting off the bills you have to pay for months and months and making arrangements time and time again and not paying them and finally getting disconnection notices (which will cause a lot of customers to have a bad day) and putting the newbie on the phone with the only instruction being "fix it. Disconncetion is unacceptable" but because boss-man had totally abused any good will we might have had for leverage all I get is a bunch of people yelling at me, $10,000 bills to pay, no money in the business account to pay it and boss man being as unnegociable an inflexible as the collectors are. Yeah - thats effective.

Oh - and having boss-man not letting me know the entire situation before I get on the phone with said upset and lied-to people was really considerate. Brave even. I was floored by the honor-bound way boss-man was running things. I found it inspirational even. Made me want to do everything better and faster, since rapidity seemed to be his core value. Things were expected to be done before he asked for them, even before he imagined they needed to be done. Last time I checked I was an employee, not an X-Men, and this is a three room, 3 person operation, not some Fortune 500 highrise in New York. Having expecations purportional to you resources is a pretty key part of success last time I checked. Boss-man hadn't gotten the memo yet.

Oh and Real World, letting people go around with all these expecations and frustrating senses of entitlement under the guise of "thats how things are in small bussiness" is ascenine. Its even worse when that's their answer to every question you have. That or "DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TWICE??!"

Being a small bussiness doesn't excuse you from simple values like honesty or decency. It doesn't suspend the concpet of keeping your word to your vendors or the people around you. It doesn't make things like bills go away. It doesn't give you the right to just plow your way, emotionally and logistically through life. As a matter of fact, it heightens your accountability. You have to run a bussiness as well as be a leader and be more responsible because if you have people working for you they don't have a logistical safety net. If you screw up they don't get paid. It's that simple. More caution is required, not less.

6 weeks of this almost did me in Real World, and I have to say, I'm one of your better assets. I'm addiction, STD, child-out-of-wedlock free, I'm literate, educated, in possession of responsible transportation, and make divine chocolate chip cookies. I think all that puts me in the top 5% of the population and few would disagree.

I think you need to start treating me with a bit more care. I'm not affraid of hard work or doing hard things but I am not a magician, a whipping boy, or a push over.

Please reconfigure your settings, I'll mend and dress my gapping wounds and we'll meet back up some time next week.

bewildered and bruised,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

April is Possibly a Perfect Month

General Conference
Spring at the Huntington
Baseball Opening Day
The NBA Playoffs

and new starts in general.

I know that I've been a bit absent as of late. I've had a number of things going on so I'll try to cover them all with as much accuracy that my 3 tps of wit allows. April has been a rather amazing month.

I've glossed over my Coachella experience already.

* I started a job last month that kind of takes up A LOT of my time. More than it should. I have a lot to say about my job but the first rule of blogging is don't blog about work so I won't. Nevertheless, remind me when you see me for an update because - well - lets just say I feel like I'm in a REALLY bad comedy sometimes.

* Its finally starting to warm up and I find myself a bit sad. I kind of like crispy, clear-aired weather but I love sun too. I went to the Huntington the other Saturday, found a patch of welcoming grass in the rose garden (which is in full bloom right now) and just thawed. It was lovely. It was also kind of funny because my brother called me mid-grass stretch and we started talking about the playoff game the day before. There was a couple sitting on the bench a few feet from me. They weren't conversing at all, she was enraptured in the garden and he had that bored-to-the-point-of-pain look on his face. My brother and I were in a animated Kobe vs. LeBron conversation and I noticed him listening with pointed earnest from a far. I found it rather funny.

* Its the playoffs. The Lakers are in the Conference Semis right now and winning very well. Not at this exact moment, the Huston Rockets are dirty little mean players and have drawn blood more than once. I hope they're all in ace bandages and eye patches when we finally send them home. Grrrr

* I had a lovely random Thursday this last week. Random because I found myself in Hollywood at my favorite music joint with a Facebook friend. I wasn't sure how I knew him or met him, he was a CalPoly person so I thought maybe we had had a class together and I just didn't recognize him but apparently he just was searching for people with similar interests and found and befriended me. We've been in loose communication for a while and this The Rescues concert was coming up at the Hotel Cafe so we decided to go together. He had been kind of flirty online for a bit and then he changed his tone and started saying he felt like I was his "long lost Mormon Little Sister". How guarded can you get? I don't mean to be a brat, but between my real brothers and cousins I have as many male relations as I think I can handle. He had just broken up with someone so I get that space is kind of necessary. I think I'm wholly date worthy so getting this kind of pussyfooted emotional circumlocution not just from LDS guys but non too was a bit of an annoyance. I didn't want to miss out on the concert so I decided to go anyway.

Hanging out was weird enough, but he brought another "friend of his" that hes "sweet on" to the concert half way through. He told me he had wanted her to come but she didn't buy tickets or anything so I just thought we were going to hang out. But low and behold, I became a third wheel and the "little sister" to someone I barely know as well as with people that I've known forever. It was all just weird but I was determined not to have my night ruined. The people were cool enough and the music was AWESOME so I felt the night was a win, I don't think we're going to hang out again though. Not impressed. Not at all.

However, everyone that reads this blog needs to go check out The Rescues right now. They're phenomenal. I think I found my next album to be addicted to.

Sara Ramirez (Callie from Grey's Anatomy) was there and introduced the group and so was Mayor Villaraigosa. Yup - I met the mayor at a rock concert in Hollywood. Only in Los Angeles. He is a tiny little man and was quite drunk. When he shook my hand he grabbed my elbow with his other hand to steady himself. It was quite an experience. So yeah - if I were to sum up the night it would be "Awkward guys, garden burgers, transformative music and the Mayor".

* While watching the Laker game this last Monday I got a call from my bishopric member asking me to speak in two weeks and to speak on Elaine Dalton's talk from the Oct 08 Conference called "A Return to Virtue". He also pointed out that the theme for the ward this year is "Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly" so essentially the bishop has passed off the quarterly chastity talk to me. I'm laughing like a loon to myself. How funny can it get. Asking the hippie's daughter to address Chastity? I CAN'T WAIT to have a podium to talk about. I'll probably be sorting out some of my thoughts on here and asking for feedback sometime this week so you've been warned.

*I went to the Ren Faire last weekend for the first time and it was magical. I ran into a few people I was hoping not to but what can you do? We saw an amazing joust and our knight was pretty hot. He was one of the good guys too. We didn't stay for the Death Match at the end of the day but I'm sure he won. He has a really friendly horse too. Wendy got us all garbed up and we were all proper maids, scallywags and belly dancers. We had the munchkins in cloaks and spend the day throwing axes and eating turkey legs and listening to hammered dulcimers and watching nobles parade about and play blinds man bluff and got flirted with and harangued by the royal guards. Just a typical day at the Faire. I loved it. And taking in the Faire with your former professor who is a medievalist and her chemical engineer husband, ridiculously brilliant children and old classmates/bosom friends is a rare and glorious thing.

It's been a pretty amazing month. I'll keep you posted better in the future. I promise. Once things start balancing out.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wednesday Giggles

I know I haven't posted in while but I've been lost to the land of New Job and Laker Playoffs.

However, I have stopped for long enough to come across this and hence have discovered new levels of weird the 60's managed to produce, new levels of Nerd-dom and new appreciation for the random that is the omnipotent YouTube