Friday, July 29, 2011

Maybe It's Nothing

I think he's depressed.

He seems happy enough, usually, although it's almost a manic kind of happiness. But behind it, there's sadness, always sadness. It clings to him like fog clings to a lonely shoreline, seeming to disappear when the bright sun breaks through, but always returning with the darkness of night. Sometimes it comes out anger, sometimes bitterness, but really, it's always sadness.

She's part of it, I'm sure of that. He doesn't talk about it, but every once in a while it seeps through. He's angry at her, he's angry at the other man, the grown man who should have known better--they both should have known better--and she, like a child whose mother has left the room in frustration, sits confused by his withdrawal.

He's hard for me to pin down. He's friendly and talkative, but it's difficult to make a real connection. I think it's a problem of passion. When he loves, he loves wholly and passionately and with complete abandon, and when he hurts, he hurts deeply and permenantly. Middle-ground relationships are difficult.

Maybe I should say, Cheer up. You've got so much going for you. You're amazing and capable and you don't need to do this to yourself. The alcohol doesn't help the way you think it does. Throw it away and embrace life and love and be happy.

That's easy for me to say. My adult life has been charmed. Everything I should want--love, family, children, money, education--has just fallen into my lap.

But even with all that, I'm still sometimes consumed by depression. I just hit the coffee cup instead of the beer bottle. We're both just trying to make it through the day, trying to find that elusive, fickle thing called happiness.

I hope he finds some.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I had the strangest flashback. I was laying in bed after feeding the baby early this morning, trying to go to sleep, when suddenly I was back in second grade. My teacher, or maybe a "special guest" or someone else, had announced that there was going to be a multicultural assembly/celebration/something or other. The details are a little hazy. Anyway, any students from other countries or with "multicultural" heritage were invited to participate.

I'm part Danish. If you don't believe me, just look at my full name. It really doesn't get any more Danish than that. My great-grandparents came to Utah from Denmark, making my grandfather American by birth but fully Danish by blood. My dad had always made a big deal about being Danish, and my mother claimed to be an "adopted" Dane, so I always took a little pride in my sort-of-quarter Danish heritage.

Back to second grade. Back to the multicultural program thingamabob. I volunteered. I wanted to be part of it. Whoever was in charge and had made the announcement--I only vaguely remember that it was a round woman--took me out into the hall after I excitedly raised my hand. I don't think she believed that I was multicultural. All she saw was a little white girl from Utah.

"Are your parents from another country? We want kids whose parents or maybe grandparents are from another country."

"No. I think it's my grandma or something. She was from Denmark."

Or something like that.

So she grudgingly added my name to her list. I don't think she was very excited about it.

When time for the assembly came, everyone involved was to walk into the gym carrying the flag of their country. For the life of me, I could not remember "Denmark" when the flag person asked me where I was from, so I just got handed the last random reject flag. I really wish I could remember what it looked like, because to this day I have no idea what country I was supposedly representing.

I do know that I was the only white kid in the assembly. There were Mexicans, Koreans, Colombians, and none of them white. I stuck to my guns though, determined that I was multicultural.

And indeed, I think I am. My ancestors came from Denmark and Scotland and England and Ireland and Germany. Some of them were pre-revolutionary war colonists; some were relatively recent immigrants. There's even rumor that a native American woman named Watchikitka was among my progenitors. And there's solid evidence that I'm directly descended from "Mr. Cool." A lot of different cultures went into the making of Jo. The girl next to me may have had Korean parents, but I don't know that she had traveled outside of Utah any more than I had. And it's entirely possible that she was descended from a long line of Koreans, and not Russians or Chinese or Welsh or anything else for a long way back. Yet she was legitimately "multicultural" because she wasn't white. And I was kind of the multicultural assembly's white bastard child.

So what does "multicultural" actually mean? Does it simply mean "not white?" Do predominantly white cultures not count? Are they completely homogeneous simply because the people who created them freckled easily? A white person born and raised in South Carolina would bristle at the idea that she was essentially the same as, say, a white person born and raised in Boston. Am I to believe that "culture" is white and "multiculture" is brown/black/purple/green/yellow?

I think that's dumb.

And I'm (Not Really) a Mormon

Here it is, the post I've been dreading.
But I think it needs to be written.
I'll try to keep it short.

I'm not really mormon anymore. My name is still on the records and everything, but I don't believe and don't attend (although I do still sing "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam once in a while).

Whew, there's the bomb. Now for the commentary.

I'm not going to delve into the details of my disaffection. I'd be happy to discuss it privately with anyone who's interested, but the point of this post is not to enumerate my grievances with the church. The point of this post is to inform those who didn't already know, and to tell the world (and myself, I suppose) that I'm okay.

In fact, I'm better than okay, at least when it comes to spirituality and religion. The decision to leave the church has absolutely been the right thing for me to do. This may be hard for some people to wrap their heads around--ten years ago I wouldn't have thought it possible that leaving the church would be good for anyone. I think it's one of those things that is really hard to understand unless you've been there.

So what am I now, if not really mormon? I don't know that there's a label for it. Agnostic Christian Buddhist...humanist...universalist...Saganist? The funny thing is, I think a lot of my religious ideals have remained the same, but instead of being personified in the form of God, they've kind of been generalized to people, nature, the universe, what have you. This means giving people full credit for the amazing good their capable of, as well as full credit for the great evil they are also capable of. I don't know what the whole purpose of everything is (I tend to think that nature is an end in itself), I certainly don't know what happens when we die (I kind of have to believe we're with loved ones in some form in order to remain sane), but I strongly believe that the here and now is important, that the relationships we form and the way we act and think are important. I no longer see people as the center of the universe, but we are a beautiful and rare part of it, like all life. Losing my religion hasn't made the world look more depressing and useless. It's made the world all the more beautiful, life all the more miraculous and precious. And quite honestly, it's comforting to no longer believe in a man-God who is just a glorified version of Joe Shmoe sitting across the pew playing with his iPhone. (You can't have a post about leaving your religion without at least one snarky comment, right?)

I'm not going to try to convince anyone to leave their religion. Quite honestly, I would strongly advise against it unless you absolutely feel you have to for your well-being, because it's extremely painful and difficult.

I don't want anyone to worry about my eternal soul. I think she's doing quite well and will be okay in the end. However, if you feel bringing baked goods will help, I encourage it.

Now, for my next post, I will be discussing politics.
Not really.