Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Art.

Has anyone else noticed that the caliber of a club can often be equated with how much urine needs to be blotted from the toilet seat? Maybe only the ladies can relate here, but I am always impressed (impressed!?!?) when I don't need to clean up after someone who went before me. (Pun unintentional, but funny, now that I see it.) Which is rather sad, really. Since I would hope that wiping down a toilet seat would be an unnecessary task for an evening out.

The other night we went to The Strand in Hermosa Beach. It felt like the swanky living room I never had, as if I had invited my block over to hang out and hear a show while we had upscale chicken and waffles (a natural aphrodisiac, you should be warned). Jay Nash opened with a bare-bones, heart wrenching set. His sandpapered voice is deep and growls like a 300lb trucker, and it rumbles out with the power of a barrel-chested 50 year old, past the lips of a face so pretty, it's like seeing the love child of Ryan Gosling and Jason Lee. Listening to Jay live, even in a small living room, feels like holding onto the outside of a train as it rushes forward; exhilarating and exhausting and a total experience worth having.

I realized only after the show, while I was driving in my car, listening to Jay's cd, he's really got this edgy, Springsteen-esqe type of voice. Only I like it more than Springsteen.

The more I listen to his album, the more I appreciate the journey he takes. From sensitive and pained, to gentle and loving, from tender romance to stuff so sexy it may have gotten me pregnant. They're stories of experience and understanding.
Check him out.

The dear, sweet, magnanimous, Chris Pierce headlined. While we haven't seen each other in a couple of years, he was still as sweet and genuine as ever. (He had been a great supporter of
Shameless benefit events.) He's lost weight, cut his dreads off, and traded his homespun threads for sleek lapels and a sharp tie. If his smile didn't tell me he was exactly the same humble guy who brings the Spirit in through music, his performance certainly did. O- and did I mention his response to my thoughtless, "So- what have you been up to lately?" He smiled shyly, "Well...I just got back from touring with Jack Johnson...Have you heard of Colbie Calliet? And Al Green- that was really cool. But it's really nice to be back and just be at home. I love it."

A couple of years ago, my bishop called me into his office with a furrowed brow. "Farrah," he said, "I have been thinking a lot about your work...And I don't think you should do it anymore." Pardon me, Bishop? "Well...You're going into a lot of bars...And the people you're going to assoicate with...I just think you should reconsider what you're doing." I nodded. And genuinely took what he said into conderation. The advice still weighed heavily on my mind when I went to the Chris Pierce show 2 nights later. I walked into the club. The dark, tightly packed Budda Bar. Chris took the stage, and immediately, I felt the warmth of his heart. His spirit radiated out in love as he shared stories of his family and of courage and of faith. I could feel my heart leap in delight- I know this feeling! It's the Spirit! I feel the Spirit here!

Now, years later, Chris' hair may be different, but when he sings, that same spirit of joy and love and genuine soul pierces through to open the hearts of the people who hear him. At points in the show, his face beams and he reaches out, proclaiming, "Do you feel the Spirit?!" It is truly like watching a miracle of God. Jeni and I were saying that the glow of joy is so infectious- it must make the Lord smile to see one of His children take the time to dedicate themselves to share their talent and bring joy to the lives of others. His song is his testimony, and I am so thankful for artists who are not afraid to let it shine, shine, shine.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

False Icons.

In the previous post, a lot of people (who don't know me or my background) made some pretty severe accusations and were unnecessarily defensive about something I assumed nearly everyone has experienced. In an attempt not to get my own feelings involved in their battle on Blogg, I'd like to recognize a pattern which I thought was made clear from the previous post:
How is it that we allow our cultural stereotypes to create assumptions that are directly contradictory to our reality?

Case in point- We assume that most people are married with 3 babies by the time they're out of college, and that something is wrong with us if we're not that person. But...more and more, I am seeing women and men over 27, with a successful career, rockin' bod, great personality, hilarious sense of humor, great testimony, and a life full of adventure and experience. So why do we still feel like a toaster that burns everything if we have such a full life, but not the 'expected' spouse and family to go with it?

I don't feel bad about who I have become. I like that I'm well-travelled and that I have amazing experiences and a great education and that I enjoy working. But somehow, when I walk through the doors of the chapel, I suddenly feel like maybe it's the one place I don't belong. How is it that this cultural expectation outweighs even my own sensibilities? I like to think I'm stronger than that- more rational and more stable than allowing myself to succumb to an insecurity from the one place I want to feel the most secure. And especially when I see what is around me- telling me that the times, they are a'changin'- but of these things is not like the other.

When I was at BYU, I remember how everyone would rip on the ignorant, big-haired-bows floating around. And it was funny to think of those flowered-dress girls with their backward bubble-naivete and silly desperation for matrimony. We can all admit that image was a real icon. But when I thought about it----not one of my close friends was like that. And no one I hung out with was like that. And I didn't see anyone in my classes like that...yet that image hung around until the late 90s...How? How did that standard image of expectation somehow cloud over the reality that we were all college students out having a good time and getting a great education?

It's the same thing in a family ward. People self-consciously joke about not being married- as though that is the standard expectation- but there are more single people than families in these wards. We're getting older, more educated, and better in all aspects of our life. And we happen to be single. So why do we assume we should be anything other than that?

It's ten years later and the image is different, but the feelings about cultural expectations are the same. All I'm saying is- let's kill the image and see ourselves for who we really are today. With no explanation or apologies needed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Don't Touch the Unicorn!

Why is it my new ward makes me feel like I have a giant unicorn horn attached to my forehead? The reaction to a happy 31 year old single woman seems to one of quizzical awe or audacity and fear.
" unusual!"


Seriously. It's like being single makes us some kind of exotic, bizarre commodity to trot out and sell tickets for or lead in a parade,'re exotic, bizarre and they don't quite know what to make of you so they keep a safe distance and suggest forms of fencing.

You're either outlandish and a danger to society or some kind of oddity not to be trusted. Where this impression comes from, I'm not quite sure, since it could be a number of things.
1) Maybe you're "too old" to be single and should have been reproductive by this point in life.

2) Maybe you don't consider yourself "too old," and are having a pretty great time with no regrets. (Shocking. The audacity.)
3) Maybe you're too cute/fun/youthful to be single. (Because only fat, ugly ogres who never leave the house are still single, right?)
In addition to all this, my candor and "joi de vive" has been embraced by others with such gusto that I have been asked to represent the underrepresented. The single women who are tired of being represented as "single women," who require fixing and who want to be recognized as whole individuals taking part in a community think that I need to run some sort of "Hilary for president" campaign and demonstrate how okay it is to be "over the hill and spunky." Like one of those red dress & purple hat sisters in their 60s.

To be honest, I don't want to be either. I am tired of taking one for the team. I am tired of being the example. I am tired of serving my time as "the older girl who's still cool." Even hearing myself say such things, I think, "That's ridiculous! We ALL serve and we all make sacrifices! Don't be so selfish. Think of Sheri Dew." Unfortunately, that was what I was most looking forward to as being part of a family ward. Selfishness. No required socializing and lingering longer. No micromanaged social life. My time would be mine and the Lord's alone. I could go for the sacramental renewal of my covenants and gained spiritual enlightenment and then just go home. If I wanted FHE, I'd have a family. If I wanted a date night, I'd date someone. I don't even really want more women friends anymore and girl night is SO over for me. And I really don't want to be told what to do or where to spend my time; especially when the options are (ironically) completely self-indulgent. "Let's play games!" "Let's have a party!" "Let's blow things up in a microwave!" Sorry, kids. I'm not a kid anymore. And I don't want to be treated like one. I'm a bad-attitude Betty now, and I don't even care. I am not going to allow the church culture to become my automatic default for who I hang out with and I don't want the activities I participate in to be dictated by a schedule designed around frivolous games with people other people think I should click with simply because we are peers. If I participate in an activity, I'd like to make a contribution. I'd like to serve my fellow man. Maybe part of our dissatisfaction with "singles wards" is that the cultural socialization expects to make us be just too damned selfish!

Everything revolves around socializing...but haven't we learned that true happiness comes not from temporary thrills, but a deep commitment to serving others? Isn't the best way to foster a relationship with God to take time to read and study His words and then take time to ponder and wait for an answer? That we only learn the true nature of God through these steps, and that it is this way which we learn and develop our personal relationship with the Lord? Why do we think human (read: romantic) relationships would be any different? Which begs the question: Why are we filling our time with busy-ness and not allowing enough time for stepping back, going out, and genuinely attempting to learn more about each other one-on-one?

For once in my life, I have no solution here. For once in my life, I feel entirely selfish and irritable. I am no unicorn. I am a grizzly. And if one more of your sticky handed children reaches out to touch me, or if you dare to reach your curious little paw too close, I am liable to bite it off and then turn and saunter off in another direction, flattening forests on my way out.
Any suggestion for solutions? I want a serious attitude adjustment. For the safety of others. Because I am increasingly uncomfortable being the unicorn. And my money says, so are you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Walking Art.

I love how New York can make a practical joke into Art.*

It's like how my fantasy life is like a musical. Or like my new favourite show,
Eli Stone.

*Thanks, Cropper.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So Sexy.

sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.
And so totally
Happy Valentine's Day.

The Most Romantic Song IS:

Last year I made a fantastic playlist of songs about love.
This year, I'm wondering what would be the best about ROMANCE.
You tell me. Clearly it's nothing I know about. And it's time I romanced iPod.
Happy Valentine's Day, iPod. I sure do still love you.

The Most Romantic Movie Is:

I've never been much for romantic movies. The Hollywood habit of love emerging because of conflict, a'la argue until we fall into bed and then "poof!" -that's love? Nope. Don't buy it. And this recent message we're bombarded with which tells us that we only find real love when we're committted to someone else and have to break our commitments in order to pursue our true love, who happened to bump into us once on the subway/took a dance class with me/planned my wedding/insert corny moment here? I don't think so.

True love is borne of committment. Not a fleeting moment. The only stories I end up buying into at the movies are those that...well...I guess they don't seem very romantic on the surface. But they emerge out of a friendship that weathers all storms and endures time and temptation; it's THEN that we realize that the one we love was the one who was with us through it all. And THAT, my friends, is Real Love.

When Harry Met Sally. I saw it when I was far too young. The concept of best friends realizing after 10 years that they are in love with each other has ruined my concept of romantic love forever. Still, it's smart, funny, and just too, too honest. Which is a lot how I imagine it will be like to be in love.
The Mirror Has Two Faces. Romantic love is nothing more than a lie; a manipulation created by the media. We must rise above it in order to experience Real Pure Love. So what happens when you take attraction out of the equation...And still find romance? It's very, very confusing. A lot like love.
While You Were Sleeping. I love, love, love! the fact that Sandra Bullock's character has the juxtiposition of her idealized, 'romantic' love and the real-life, laugh-till-you-snort, cute-even-when-you-know-you're-not kind of love. But I mean, really: Which would you rather have?
Fools Rush In. "You're all the things I never knew I always wanted." The best laid plans...While everything is backwards, it still somehow feels like this is a love that is o-so right! That, when all reasons for being together are taken away and you STILL realize that you want to be with them- well, now. That's a love I can believe in.
Far and Away. Before the whole Tom and Nicole issues came up, this was simply a great film. While the typical "love to hate you" factor usually has me rolling my eyes, this is done in such genuine and honest performances of heroism, sacrifice, and loyalty that I never fail to cry.
Mansfield Park. Okay, Austin. You got me. I'm not much for Jane Austin, but this is reportedly her favourite work- and it's one of my favourites, period. As long as you can get over the historic habit of cousins falling in love with each other, this has that classic slow build of realizing love through really knowing someone well...with a few handsome twists that legitimately make you wonder if romancing those too clever for their own good can ever end in love.

Wuthering Heights. I'm questioning if this should even be included in the list. It's full of madness, revenge, manipulation...and then I realized- ah, yes! CRAZY LOVE. Another book I read when I was far too young, this film captures the out and out passion that comes when love binds souls together to the Othello-Desdemona sort of admiration that melts into disaster. Still, the concept of loving another so fully that you lose yourself to them absolutely fascinates me. Just make sure it's the 1970 Timothy Dalton ("O, James!") version. The others don't hold a candle.

Tell me what your favourite romantic movies are so we can watch them and love them, too. And- bonus round! Tell me what you think the most romantic movie ever made is, and I'll tell YOU what that says about YOU.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tuesday's for more than just Tacos...

Dear Conservative Republicans,

I am writing to you out of respect and concern for our country and political future. I am asking you one thing:
Would you please leave me alone?

I respect and recognize that our voting history may be different. Some may consider us to be at odds.
I do not.
I believe that my freedom of choice and expression of political values relies upon allowing others (even right-wing extremists) the freedom to express themselves as much as they like. However, time and time again, your conservative mouth seems insistant that I must agree with you on every point or I am somehow morally repugnant and then (as if to better sway me to join their "side") you commence to shove your beliefs down my throat. And however ignorant I may consider some of YOUR beliefs, I am more than happy to listen to them so long as you are willing to extend the same courtesy. Our democratic system is a lovely thing; it was designed for us to have different opinions in order to have a greater perspective and come to a compromise which would serve the greatest good.

Aren't we tired of the "dark side" quips and self-righteous assertion that my church membership is questionable because of the association with pro-choice values? I'm really shocked I still get this one. Last I checked, my faith is very much concerned with individual agency and the common good. Not an "every man for himself (so long as that makes ME more profitable)" attitude. And besides- it's MY choice and MY vote. And I will excercise this right according to my values which are built from my experiences; not yours.

Please don't fool yourself into believing that insulting my intelliegence by regurgitating whatever your white, upper-middle class father says at the dinner table or think that the more you attack me the more likely I will be to see the light. YOUR light. Now, I've been putting up with this sort of biased, bigoted treatment for years and I never really let it get to me. But as someone outside your mainstream who is TRYING to communicate productively with you, I have two suggestions:

1) If you expect to convince someone of your point of view, please refrain from indignant, generalized rants of passion that hinge upon telling your friend that they are not only wrong, but immoral, unworthy, and unrighteous. Last time I checked, there was only one person qualified to judge me. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't you. In fact, if you are trying to convince someone of your point of view, the best avenue is not to try shoving your opinion down their throat, but to simply explain where you're coming from and why you feel it is beneficial to society. I delight in the idealism of my conservative friends; I support and respect them and even admire some for their beautiful idealism, and even agree with most of their beliefs. The difference between us is that I simply believe we need to prepare to help those who are not helping themselves. Primarily because that minority affects the lives of an entirely new generation who does not deserve to suffer from the ignorance or foibles of their parents. Do your best to refrain from self-righteousness. It's not appealing as it makes you look ignorant, foolish, and generally asinine, so it's a really ineffective premise if you're trying to get me to agree with you.

2) Don't feel threatened because I think differently than you. It baffles me at how your reaction to my politics somehow makes you recoil/sneer/gasp as though I am walking around pantless, eating raw baby flesh. Just because I have a different perspective does not mean that I think you are foolish, stupid, or immoral for having your beliefs. It just means that my experiences have made me more sensitive to certain topics more than someone who may not have been exposed to issues related to poverty. And that's okay. I'm not about to burn anyone's house down. Yet.

As we prepare for the primaries, I hope you've kept your mind and heart open as I have. Not just in regards to the information out there but to those around you. While I may be accoustomed to taking your snide remarks with a grain of salty humor in order to not further embarass you, not everyone will be as open to embrace your assumptions as I am. For your sake and for the sake of the party you wish to represent, I ask that you be sensitive to the politics of others. Being open minded and accepting of somoene's differences may be the best way to convince someone that you are, in fact, as moral and upright as you wish to be percieved.

I hope that's helpful on your crusade. Best of luck. And thanks for voting.

Sunday, February 3, 2008