Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ladies in Waiting: World-Wide Pants


Note: I am still uploading blogs that were written a long time ago and put on hold. SO you will notice that the topic is out of date to say the least. But anyway...I often get asked to use my blog as a public forum for politically charged Mormon topics and usually I refrain because my answer is always the same "love each other." But this one seemed to hit me in my "sore spot" and I couldn't resist. This is not going to be anything you haven't heard at this point. Nothing new to add. I don't deny anyone the right to exhibit their dissatisfaction with the Mormons, least of all the Mormons themselves. I have a half finished blog about the Ordain Women Movement, but the vapor coming off of it is still too green and stinky things should sit a while before being touched. Stay tuned for that.

Recently a group of Mormon feminists unleashed an idea on Facebook and other social media that was an effort to bring attention to the gender inequities in the church. I read somewhere - "to build power by exhibiting a small external sign to the leadership in the church that we are tired of the inequities."

They wanted us to all wear pants to church.

I was asked by [a reader] if I would express my support via this blog. I swallowed hard. Then I thought about it. No need to overreact if I didn't need to.

Right out of the chute I wanted to take over their cause (That's the marketing director in me...because I thought it could use a little re-direction... hehehe...why is that always my first instinct? And why does it seem like these groups are always so much younger than me?) Did they have a mission statement? Who was at the helm? Pants? Really, just pants? It sounded like some out of control book club idea. By the time I was asked to participate it sounded nuts. It had lost its clarity. Did the greatest path to gaining perceived equality involve a passive aggressive movement? "...A small external sign..." Yeah, right. That was surely inviting ridicule... 

And it did. And death threats. (REALLY, MORMONS?)

I admit...I didn't do my research before I balked. I posted a snarky comment on my Facebook page. Shame on me. I would never deny anyone the opportunity to use a little "protest" as a way to bring attention to something. But...p.a.n.t.s? It felt a little like burning your bras in church, but not as dramatic and fun to watch. Can't I just go to my leadership and express my concern? I could throw my support behind something like a worldwide "...listen, bishop..."

But they felt..."oppressed" she said to me, "...this is our way of bringing attention to the inequalities that lie within the budgets of the church. We are begging for transparency..."  etc....

I have always felt like a "liberated" woman. When I was a kid the news was full of "women's liberation." I thought it wasn't my issue because my mom was such a strong woman. She could do anything. I felt sorry for them because I thought that's what it was - women who felt weak and imprisoned so they needed to be liberated. I thought they were all in jail and they needed someone to let them all out, but that's a problem for the inventors of the movement. A marketing issue if you will. Again...choose a better catch phrase, though I must say it did put the whole era right up there in the history of the world with the Continental Congress and Michael Jackson (before he went nuts.) I am infinitely grateful to the work of those women from Elizabeth Cady Stanton on because I have been an independent working woman since I was 16...and who's kidding who...just because I'm married now does not make me less independent. My handcart seems ultimately heavier now than it ever did when I was single. Right?

I asked my mother WHY they burned their bras and she said "because they're dumb...bras are expensive." That was about the extent of our conversations on women's lib. I wasn't really wearing a bra yet so it befuddled me a little. However, when Jean Partridge, my English teacher for a bunch of years, talked about symbolism I finally got it. Symbols were heavy things. They had intrinsic value. Families carried their crests around on flags heavy with the symbols that gave them value and in turn power.

If the bra is the symbol of a woman, it's because breasts, though not always equal, have always been the great equalizer. Consider the women of the Renaissance. No political power at all, but why do you think they wore those whale boned corsets? It wasn't because they were comfortable. It was a reminder to their men: Don't forget that I have what you want. Woman have always used them as a good source of power. (I know I do. ;-O) 

There are so many tangible things that I have turned into symbols that I put value in...

1. The Written Language/Books. I can't throw books away and I can't put them on the floor or touch them with my feet. I picked that last part up from the Thais. The mere act of putting something as ethereal as thought on paper, permanently for all to know, makes every book ever written sacred to me somehow.

I own a lot of books. Though it isn't the symbol of knowledge to me because I rarely feel smarter having read a book, most times it opens the door inside of me that says "See How Much You Don't Know?" I feel joy at having read someone else's thoughts. It's the purest kind of creativity and it doesn't require money, status or much education. Though education does elevate the thought process and I love that too...some of my greatest relaxation has come from reading cheap teenage fiction. I'm grateful to find something that takes my mind to another place sometimes. And if I remember right, men and women both have a brain. That's God's way of equalizing us.

2. My old car has intrinsic value and great symbolism. Andy and I dubbed it "Norah" because we used to listen to Norah Jones CD's and make out in it before we got married. I bought it right after I had a terrible engagement break-up as a kind of reward for getting through that. I paid for the whole thing myself when I was single and it will forever symbolize overcoming weakness, hard work and success to me. I bought it in 1997 and I still drive it every day. It has been a good friend. It drives me to work, waits all day to take me home and has for 17+ years.

3. The cross. I feel the weight of this symbol through the tree that gave it's life to have that awful responsibility through no fault of its own. I'm that girl that loved Bob Ross and the "happy little trees and flowers." So I have a weird sorrow for the tree, and a kind of reverence for it's sacrifice. And I know it would disdain the result of it's fame as a mechanism for death. Though human thought, manifesting its ugly power was the real cause of the death, that tree stood tall and accepted its fate. If the Mormons saw it my way, I'd probably have a drawer full of crosses.

4. Bridges. I love them. For me, they symbolize people coming to together and two sides of something agreeing to work together. I also love that they usually cover deep revenues of water or canyons, another great symbol of man conquering an obstacle by using creative thought.

4.   Dresses. It was not until I was in second grade that Alpine School District lifted the policy on girls having to wear dresses to school. I've told you about the incident where I was high riding the "Witches Hat" on the playground and some boy reached up and pulled my underwear to my knees. It was right about then that Women's Liberation was in full bloom, though the mini-skirt was all the rage at the time which is strangely ironic to me. It's probably safer for girls to wear pants to school however, pants can come off just as easily at school as a dress I suppose. ;-) (Remembering the reason we no longer watch Glee.)

Now, we aren't required to wear dresses to church. It's just what we do, here in America...D.R.E.S.S. up. It's a sign of respect. So whatever your culture deems "Sunday best" works for me. In my culture, it's a dress for women and a tie for men, for whatever reason and on varying levels of "formal." It has certainly evolved. We aren't Downton Abbey that's for sure. Most Americans wear dresses to formal occasions like weddings, funerals, graduations...Vanna White wears dresses to change the letters on Wheel of Fortune and no celebrity would walk the Red Carpet without some kind of couture gown. You know, in the 18 or so PROMS I've been to in my life, I've very rarely seen a pair of pants. 

Would we do less for the Godhead?

So every Sunday morning I dig through my humble collection of gray and brown tweed just-above- the-ankle-length (because I have bad veins - not because I'm some kind of fundamentalist) skirt and a white shirt and hey! it's cool enough to add a cardigan! (and I have about 27) and go to my worship services. It's not Christian Dior, but it's Christian Du' Jour and it humbles me enough to sit in front of the sacred sacrament table and beg for forgiveness of my sins, which are abundant. My level of dress, directly affects my level of humility. My humility, directly affecting my level of preparation to receive the spirit.

Still, there is no church policy on what we wear to church. I've seen some crazy things worn at church but usually it involves prom dresses and wilting corsages. I just LOVE it when the prom dress is strapless and the old ladies in the ward are whispering about why the bishop allowed his daughter to wear her strapless prom dress to church! (Truly, I'm just impressed that they are IN CHURCH the day after prom. Way to go!!! The bishop is probably just as glad!) Last week I saw a sweet old man in Sunday School wearing a brown suit coat and navy pants and I thought "Ahhh...his wife died and I'll bet he's color blind." We don't ridicule...we should NEVER ridicule or judge anyone for what they wear to church. I have been in sacrament meetings around the world, in the humblest conditions, where few members of the congregation were even wearing shoes (or bras for that matter) and I have felt the spirit stronger there than anywhere on earth. 

So what? Let me re-focus...

What did this young group of women want again... "to build power by exhibiting a small external sign to the leadership in the church that we are tired of the inequities." But it didn't turn out small did it? There were a few women in our hipster Salt Lake ward that wore pants that day. They huddled together. They laughed a little too loudly...I heard one woman say, "This is what I wear to work!" I was not friends with that group, they are much younger than I am and well, I work too much to have any real friends unless you are in a play with me. Why was I SOOOOO bugged at them? I did not want to be a hypocrite, a judger. Let them wear what they want. I just want my one day off a week to be peaceful...THAT'S IT!!! 

I was just irritated that this group willfully chose a world-wide distraction on the day when the real reason I go to church is to focus on worship and reaffirming my covenants with my D.I.E.T.Y. If I had a problem with inequity I would approach it on a Tuesday, over the fence, with cookies and a jug of chocolate milk:

"Hey, bishop..."

But then again, I have never felt oppressed because I was born a Mormon woman. In my Mormon neighborhoods I have only seen Mormon women raised on pedestals and families fighting the world to stay together and love each other. Oppression is always wrong. If you feel that you are being oppressed because you "have to" stay home and raise your kids, and it makes you feel subordinate to your husband, I'll trade you. I would KILL to get up and make pancakes for my 6 kids every morning. KILL. The grass is always greener, isn't it?

I digress. 

"Men (and women) are that they might have joy." When I feel true joy I am max-ing out the measure of my creation. I feel that it is God's way of liberating me from within. 

Everything else takes care of itself when you are truly liberated from within. Remember, this is coming from someone who has worked full-time since she was 16, didn't marry until she was 40+ and had eight miscarriages. I am just now coming to terms with the fact that the measure of my creation is different from my sisters. Just now. I'm right in the middle of it.

I am a child of GOD. He is my power from within. He liberates me. 

I assert that it is not a change in our outside appearance that gives us strength. It is a power from within. I see it in all my sisters, this way of thinking: that personal sacrifice isn't sacrifice at all but and investment in yourself and others. It is fulfilling the measure of your creation in every way possible...from within. Lots of things come from within. Knowledge, creativity, babies are created within. The priesthood is a power from within. All power we are given and that is expressed from within, is used at its best when used for the good of the world, for the good of the family. 

Does this mean that you should sacrifice all that you are for those around you? 

What will we have left to give? We have to also take care of ourselves. Oxygen mask on ourselves first!

I assert that this is where all of these feelings of oppression come from. 

FROM OURSELVES.

We Mormon women are such martyrs. We are. We guilt ourselves into saying yes to everything and serve everyone and spend every ounce of ourselves on everyone else because we believe that this will build us into the superwoman that we are to become. We see that we are not as good as the women down the block that are taking meals to people every other day, bottling their homegrown vegetables, reading "Jesus the Christ" in Hebrew and weaving the cloth for their children's school clothes and this drives us. It drives us alright...it drives us crazy.

Know what? WE ARE ALREADY SUPERWOMEN! And those women don't exist. 

If they do - tell them I have some bathrooms that need cleaning. 

I can't speak for them, but I can only speak for myself. Sometimes, I go to the movies with my husband when I should be doing laundry. Andy does more dishes than I do. He's also great at vacuuming. When we clean our house we each take a floor of the house and meet back at our chairs an hour later and fall asleep in them with one dog in each lap. When we first got married I used to have terrible guilt about making my husband clean "my house." 

But...

I got over it. 

Here's a favorite quote from another liberated woman:

“Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all. For example, when I became a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I was appalled at how many women were tormented by guilt about their responsibilities as mothers. They seemed unable to see a boundary between themselves and their children. . . .
It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”
Chieko Okazaki, (Former member of the Relief Society First Presidency) from her book "Boundaries"
So today I have to say "NO." I won't wear pants to church. Sorry. To my beloved reader that asked me to join the "Pants Cause," I love you but I just can't. I would be glad to talk to your group about what is really bothering you and re-marketing/directing your cause though. I'm old and I've seen so much happen for good!

Be patient. Things take time. Pray. It will all happen in its due time. Women are God's favorite after all!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ladies in Waiting: May 10th, 1962


Note: This blog was written more than a year ago: Because I was asked to curtail my blogging activities by my former employer, I left my blog, and my employer. They didn't ask me to stop blogging per say, but to stop writing about my experiences with the kids at their school. (Except that my blog is about my life as a teacher of Other People's Kids...) After that excruciating experience, I began to have anxiety and paranoia that they would find something liable in everything I wrote, everything I said, everything I did. So I began searching for a new job. It took me about a year and a half.

God works in mysterious ways and in His own time.

Every time we drove into Utah County, we had an overwhelming feeling that we would be working there, but that it was going to take some time. It's tricky because Andy and I have an identical skill set on paper. Finding two drama jobs in the same county would be tricky. So we prayed and attended the temple and it was made very clear to me that I was to brush off my English and debate skills and put them forward and see what would happen. In my heart I knew that trying to direct TWO full seasons of plays and competitions in one family would be too much for a marriage. And that's when I learned about sacrifice in such a way as I have never been asked before in my selfish, childless, double paycheck life. So when I committed to learn that level of humility, the Lord gave us two jobs at the same school but I gave my theatre books to Andy, my Broadway scores, my 23 years of files and my giant book of hand cut Shakespeare scenes and monologues (gulp). He has the energy for it now. He's so good at it. I walked across campus to my four empty walls and opened "To Kill a Mockingbird." Not the play...the novel. 


May I say first of all, that our new school is a progressive, technologically advanced, and warm traditional district school with all the bells and whistles kids need to move forward in today's world, and I love it. My classes are small!  Less than 20 in most, less than 30 in every class. The Principal is a rock star doing progressive maneuvers to make classes smaller than the stereotype. Okay - I'll write more about Andy's new kingdom later - just know that they have rolled out the red carpet for him. Not sure what Heavenly Father is doing, keeping us together for the third time, but we're not complaining. We are first and foremost committed to our marriage as a partnership and this I learned from my good parents. This is why I chose this blog to finish first. This is one that was started so long ago and then stopped in my anxiety. 

Sorry Mom and Dad. This one is for you.


On January 3, 1962, during a full moon and solar eclipse, an extremely rare grand conjunction of the classical planets, the sun and the moon occurred. All of them came within 16 degrees of one another on the elliptic.

I'm blaming that one-in-a-million moment for a few out-of-this-world things that occurred in 1962.

First of all,
Joseph David and
Kathryn M Smith Shelton
  • The Osmonds debuted on the Andy Williams show (note its placement as first on the list)
  • Wilt Chamberlain shot his famous 100 point game
  • Andy Warhol premiered his Campbell's Soup Cans
  • The Pope excommunicated Fidel Castro
  • Marilyn Monroe died a mysterious death
  • West Side Story (a movie musical!) won Best Picture
...and a bunch of crazy/awesome people were born in that year....
  • Baz Luhrmann (my favorite director)
  • Joan Cusack (my favorite comic actress)
  • Bon Jovi (hello?!)
  • Craig Ferguson (my favorite talk show host)
  • MC Hammer (my brother Steve thanks you for the pants)
  • Michael Ball (my favorite Les Mis Marius)
  • Ralph Fiennes (he who shall not be spoken of)
  • The Beatles released their first single - "Love Me Do"
It is also my conclusion, that this rare planetary conjunction caused my two ultimate favorite people in the entire world to find each other and be sealed (married) in the Manti, LDS Temple on May 10th, 1962.


Such good taste! Gorgeous!
F.I.F.T.Y.Y.E.A.R.S.A.G.O today. Yes - that's right! Fifty years ago today, my parents pledged before God that they would stay together "for time and all eternity."

Time and all eternity is significant in Mormondom. We believe that family relationships are sacred, and pivotal to eternal happiness. It is upon that foundation of faith that you work out your relationships on this earth with every fiber of your being before you give up on each other. Especially if there are children involved. Because no one is perfect. Isn't it funny how you find that out AFTER you're married?

And I'm tellin' ya...sometimes, when I walk into the house after my eternal partner has been home, and it smells like ripe dachshund, (for example) and nothing has been done about it, I wonder if I am actually up to the - eternal - task of staying married. All you married people out there know what I mean. I am, by the way, wildly in love with my eternal partner, it's just that sometimes you have to keep an eternal perspective on things to get through your mystified anger. It's a lot of biting your tongue. It's why Andy has scar tissue on the inside of his lip (from my trips to the fabric store.) But think of 50 years! No wonder my parents have lost their keen articulation skills over the years - it's from the scar tissue on their tongues...years and years of biting their tongues.


And in just seven years, the trials and tribulations that have presented themselves to us as a couple, far outweigh the moments of true joy...but who's counting? Those are the things that have built us, bonded us together. So when you are thinking about staying together for eternity, the trials seem to weave us into the same cloth and we are getting tighter and tighter like good Egyptian sheets.

My hypothesis is, the more you endure together as a couple, the stronger you become. When I think about how much I loved my spouse the day we got married versus today, I think I took a mighty leap of faith that day. What was I thinking? Maybe I just wanted to get him into bed - you know the Mormons don't have sex before marriage so we were pretty wound up by then. You can't get married in the temple if you have had sex together while you are dating. But we aren't all Duggar either. Oh no. Though maybe we should have been. So feeling victorious outside the doors of the sealing room (the room where you get married) we weren't all gooey and mushy like most couples are: "I will love you forever! Promise me we'll come back every week and visit the room that sealed us together forever! You and I were destined for eternity!" No, no, nope, none of that romantic stuff.

Jan: We made it.
Andy: We're actually IN the temple. 
Jan: High five.
Andy: Good job, babe.
Jandy:[uncontrollable laughter]
Temple worker: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Jan: Sorry.
Andy: (whispers) Not sorry.

By the way, although transcendent, sex is the dumbest reason on earth to get married. Especially for eternity. Marry someone that will make you laugh. I did. My mom did. So that will be the first thing I learned from my parents 50-year(+) marriage:

I digress.

Things I learned from my parents 50-year(+) marriage . . .


1. They laughed a lot. They created memories.
My dad taught school and my mom raised kids. So they never had a lot of money to create "fun." But I never remember it being boring. We had a playhouse in our backyard, a tree house, a giant sandbox, and bikes. My dad was constantly repairing bikes. Because he taught History he would sometimes show reel to reel films to his classes like Johnny Tremain and Thoroughly Modern Millie (you know the one with Julie Andrews and the beads that would never hang straight). During those units, he would lug that film projector home and we would gather up the neighbors and watch those movies on a sheet hung across the fireplace mantel. My mom would make colored popcorn balls with syrup made of Jello or sometimes she would make donuts for 40 people. That was a huge example to me. Several times during the movie the film would break and my dad would race over and splice it together. I will never forget the sound of a reel to reel projector or the smell of a lime popcorn ball. But most of all I will never forget how it made me feel to have all those people laying around, laughing and happy. (I blame Thoroughly Modern Millie to this day for my love of all things musical theatre.)

My dad also loved to camp and fortunately, because we had the same vacation days he did, we camped a lot. We also took his sisters and their families with us which made us extraordinarily close to our Lucero and Peck cousins. Every spring the entire ward would venture south to the warmer temperatures and we spent Spring break in Capitol Reef, Bryce, Snow or Zion Canyon.
Pre-Andy.  Should have bought stocks in Graco.
Read more: He Parked Near the Door  I remember so much laughing on those trips. All of the kids that went on those trips have grand kids now. Whenever we see each other, we still laugh.

One of my favorite memories was created by my dad when he saved his change for years in a metal garbage can and flew us out to Disneyland - FLEW us out! Where there's a will there's a way.

2. My parents never fought in front of us. 

I know it seems positively nuts. But they never raised their voices to each other while I was growing up. Now I'm not dumb enough to know that arguments weren't going on behind closed doors, but the family was not involved, not privy to the tension...ever. Maybe my youngers will argue with me. But for the first 20 years, I never heard it.



I recreated their wedding cake for their
50th Anniversary party and tried to get
them to look serious and cut the cake
again, but my mom started laughing and
could not stop. This is as good as the
pictures get. I like it.
As a result, we rarely fight with each other as a group. When there is tension among us, it tears us up. We spend as much time as possible with our siblings and we ache when those that don't live around us have to go back to their respective states/counties. Every single Sunday, everyone that can still meets at my moms for dessert or a birthday party still to this day. There are 37 of us now...37 reasons for birthday cake.

 I love and admire my parents for always presenting solidarity, though I know now, how difficult that must have been. I've been in my office at school when a full on brawl between parents has exploded in front of their child and myself and heard the child nonchalantly say to me "oh, this is nothing." I have been naively shocked to see what other people's kids go through. I am blessed to know that my parents worked things out without involving us. We wouldn't have known what to do anyway. And I can tell you from being a school administrator all these years now...opaque stress between mom and dad just makes kids lose focus at school. I know it doesn't seem like it would affect them at that level, but usually the first question I ask to a kid who's failing a class(es) is "how are things at home?" And that is why I have Kleenex in my office.

3. My parents treated each other with respect. It was modeling of the highest order.

Sounds cliche, doesn't it? But if we ever yelled at my mom, my dad was instantly by her side saying "did you just yell at my girlfriend? DID I JUST HEAR YOU YELLING AT MY GIRLFRIEND?" And that was the end of whatever conflict we had with our mother. You knew there was a pit bull in the background. They were a solid front. One did not say yes and the other no. One did not say "go ask dad/mom," they said "what did your dad/mom say?" So it did you no good to choose one over the other. Decisions about dating, going to sleepovers, who was using the cars, etc...were made with all interested parties in attendance.


I like this picture because this was a time when
everybody was fat and I felt right at home.
Heheheeeeee.
Despite my dad being a bishop (lay clergy) for many years, and having a hoard of hungry kids waiting for him after church, my mom held Sunday dinner so we could eat together. It was important to her that he got to eat with his family all those years. Bishops often have to listen to and meet the needs of many people besides their own family. We ate together twice a day and three times on the weekends. It wasn't a choice. We came at the whistle.

The old West had the triangle, my parents whistled. They both had this amazingly loud whistle and when either of them stood on the porch and whistled - you could hear it in the next county and you came runnin'. Or else. If you were playing outside of whistle range...well just don't play outside whistle range.

4. My parents never "counted" or kept track.  

They never took turns. You never heard "I did that last time" or "I think it's your turn to do that." If he had an opportunity to do something fun, like, go out to dinner with friends, she didn't insist on gathering her friends and going out to dinner, just to "make it even." You know what I mean? Yeah, that didn't happen. They didn't spend money dollar for dollar or have separate checking accounts. If there were dishes in the sink it wasn't her job and if the garbage needed to be taken out it wasn't his job. They were pretty enlightened as baby-boomer couples can be, I guess. Though my dad still doesn't like to eat leftovers, my mom will eat them for days on end and if there isn't meat in a meal my dad still thinks its just the first course. They did and will always do what is best for the group and not what is necessarily best for themselves individually.

When they still had kids in the house, if my dad was able to get a hotel room at a teachers conference that was the extent of their vacation time. My mom didn't get to finish her education and there was never money for her to get school clothes once a year when everybody else was - including my dad. But she didn't "keep track." There weren't "turns." It was always about what the family needed. She cooked every single meal, except the once a year we ate out at JB's Big Boy. She has about 80 rose bushes on her property and she bottles all the fruit and vegetables my dad grows. And it's not a little garden, it's nearly a farm (ie...70 tomato plants). She made most of our clothes when we were young because she's got skills. Very few people under the age of 70 have those specific skills anymore.

But to everything there is a season....

There is hope for all of you out there still raising kids. Once they retired, their cars got fancier, they eat out all the time and they started to disappear. In fact, the other day we stopped by the house and there was no one home. I was confused, so I called my sister and she said, "oh, they went to Panama." "Weren't they just in the Canadian Rockies?" I said. "Yeah, but Dad's always wanted to go to Panama, so they just went." Now, I occasionally hear them say "Where do you want to go next? It's your turn to choose."


The original 1.0's.
They lived. They did. They talked. They moved forward with an eye on the commandments of God. They multiplied and replenished the earth (the whole earth - just kidding!) adding seven good tax paying citizens to the land and not once did my mom say "this time I think I'll let you have the baby and I'll get out of this house and teach those kids Spanish and History because I am sick of staying home and raising kids!"

Though I'm sure she thought it.

Many times.

And I'm sure my dad thought "Why don't I just stop teaching Spanish right now and go back to Dental school like I always wanted to do, because then I could quit these two custodial jobs that I do after school that are killing me...."

But there were all those teaching awards... and kids need good teachers.

!


2.0's. Getting bigger. Kyle and JoEllen's wedding...Shayne is
thegrandchild on the farthest left with her chin in the air. She
is coming home from her mission next month.
In fact, they could have drown their stresses and sorrows in the world...or made it easier on themselves and done what I've seen done to other peoples kids dozens of times and just leave us all for easier climes and wider pathways.

But...

Narrow is the way...

And they adjusted their grip. They kept a good perspective on the future. While raising their own kids and teaching other peoples kids they kept both eyes on the Gospel and that is my last subtitle.


5. They know God. They REALLY know God. 


Religion is a HUGE reason they stayed married for over 50 years.

This is me being preachy. For those of my friends that have denounced religion - you can stop reading here. I won't apologize for saying that religion is the main reason we are purpose driven people. We espouse to live a Christ centered life. We learned the commandments of God, and we strive to live as Jesus Christ did when he was here on the earth and we have taken upon us certain restored ordinances that are gifts from God. We believe that everyone who shares these same gifts WILL BE BETTER FOR IT now and in the world to come. So why not give them away?

And that's what my parents have done for the last 50+ years. They have espoused themselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have studied His life and everything they do mirrors what He did. They listen to the living Prophet of God and they have served in so many capacities of the church I hesitate to start listing them. I can only say that if my mother knows of a naked or cold child in the world, she is currently working on clothing them. If my father knows of a hungry family in the neighborhood, they will have an anonymous bag of food on their back steps.

They are the reason that no matter how many times I sit through the musical Les Miserables, when they get to the lyric, "to love another person is to see the face of God," I start crying uncontrollably. Their sacrifice for other people, including me and my siblings and now their 23 grandchildren is a lesson that is ringing in my ears especially now as I battle the depression of wondering what God wants me to do now.

6. Last the best of all the game....Sacrifice. 


No surprises here. Works too much. 
We still have that table.
I remember my mom always ate the burned toast. She always took the smallest piece of meat. She always sat down last to dinner, went to bed last and got up first. For all the years we were in school, while you were living in her house, you had a hot breakfast when you got up. It was there. Always. There were scriptures on good mornings, then french toast or pancakes, a mad dash to curling irons and first period. Then she cleaned it all up and my dad ran off to teach Spanish and History to other people's kids, then he worked two other jobs after school to buy breakfast and curling irons and make a house payment, then he would come home to go to a church job...you know...or go to a school play. How many school plays did I make them sit through...er...sleep through.

If they were going to sacrifice for us, we were going to contribute in return without question.
We were taught chores. We didn't just get sent out to do things. We were carefully taught. Time was spent. I learned to sew from my mother. I learned to make bread and care for children (lotta good that did me - just kidding!) I changed diapers with SAFETY PINS and plastic pants!!! We had jobs that came up, like putting wood away for the winter, weeding the garden in the summer, snapping beans (while you watched Saturday morning cartoons). Putting in sprinkler systems, laying sod, cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry uphill both ways with no shoes on... (just wanted to make sure Abby was still reading)

What did I learn from that? I believe sacrifice and hard work keeps you humble, and humility keeps you open to learning and learning is the only thing you're going to take with you into eternity so...if marriage is the greatest sacrifice, marriage must also keep you humble.

HUMILITY IS GOING TO TAKE US ALL BACK TO GOD.

I've never seen two sincerely humble people fighting to hold their marriage together. So humility is the key to everything, I'm pretty positive of this. When I have raised my prideful head, I have incurred anger toward someone, I have felt indignant and self-righteous, I have been depressed and self-serving. I have LACKED the LOVE the Savior would have for all mankind. Including loving myself and the ability to forgive myself. I have lost the vision of what HE WOULD DO IF HE WERE IN THAT SITUATION.

And then I am lost.

Out there on my own, trying to keep my head above the quick sand. And I have wanted to call it quits. For real.

I'm positive there were times when both my parents wanted to call it quits. You really think after 50 years I was going to tell you that they are the ONE perfect couple that has never had an angry thought toward each other? Never wanted to run away? Leave forever? That's funny. But 50 years! I've only been married 7 (and 8 months) and 50 seems...like Mt. Timpanogos is to the speed bump in front of our house.

Humility. That's how it happened. I just worked that out for myself and I'm telling you I needed to hear it right now. (Thanks!) Not that my marriage is in trouble, but that I need to sacrifice for the good of the whole. Sacrifice always brings about exquisite blessings in the end. I know that too. I have a testimony of that. It's how I got Andy in the first place.

It's how we're going to get through this thing, not just "til death do us part" but for ever...forever.

I forgot to say - one other thing is...we're not perfect, not even Mama Kay or Papa Joe, not have we ever been, but because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be someday. And in that day, there will be no ripe dachshunds, no screaming, vomiting kids, no inequality, no bills to pay, no violence in the world, no drugs, no porn...

...no divorce.

ONLY LOVE.

And as we wait for further light and knowledge on all of those subjects, lets just LOVE EACH OTHER AS HE LOVES US.

Because in that day, if we remain humble enough to be obedient, that's key...we will be perfected.

I will not be tempted to hoard fabric! I will be an athletic size 12 (anything less will lessen my power, I think ;-) I will get the feeling back in my toes, I lose my ugly scars, my boobs will rise to the occasion, my veins will go back below their surface...

I digress...


I will get my son back!

Those are things I can wait for. Because even though I am a married woman now, I am and will always be...a Lady in Waiting.

Thanks Mom and Dad for your amazing example to me. Thanks for providing me with 6 of the best friends I'll ever have and Happy 50th Anniversary!

This is a tree that Brad, my youngest brother painted on the wall at the back of my parents garage, so when you drive in, this is what you see. It's got a bunch more apples on it now. 












Sunday, February 9, 2014

For the Love!

This is for Johnny and Nicole. I hope it lightens the week a little.

 “I guess I got an entertaining bug, from my grandfather, Hyme Progaut, who was very very big in the Yiddish theater back in New York. He was in the, the sardonically ireverant, 'Dibik Shmibik, I Said more Ham'. And that review, I believe was nineteen thriteen and that review, is what made him famous. Incidentally, the song, 'Bubby Made a Kishka' came from that review.” Waiting for Guffman

“This bulging river this God and Devil in one. There aint a THING can be done. The River's in our blood. This deep and bulging river's in our bloood. Corky- BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.” WFG


So there he was....dead. The King was floating away safely in a boat, but his daughter was groaning over the dead servant boy's body, sobbing with grief. He had sacrificed himself for their people...merely because she had turned to say goodbye to the man she loved.

The servant boy lead her to a secret boat containing her escaped father, the King. But her lover, a warrior captain, discovered them before she could get into the boat and float away to safety. So she turned and raced toward her lover to say one last goodbye and THAT was their undoing.

She had to say goodbye. She couldn't just get in the dang boat. She couldn't yell "I love you, but I have to save my nation!" from the water? She had to feel his embrace. She had to get one last kiss.

Then the King yelled out "daughter!" and the captain was confused. She was a Princess? Had she lied to him? Was it all a lie? No! She had to explain it all to him, but it was too late...HIS evil father was now on the scene commanding him to kill the errant King. But it became very clear to the captain now...She was a princess and she was trying to save her people and he LOVED HER. He KNEW her (and when I say "knew..." you know what I mean, right?) So... much to the dismay of his own father, he thwacked at the rope holding the boat to the shore and the King floated away.

Angered by this, the captain's father attempted to kill the princess but the servant boy flung himself in the sword's path and now...he's dead. And it's all her fault.

And there beneath the full July moon, Princess Aida cries over her friend as Radames realizes that his love is no longer a secret and it will mean his treasonous death.

Surely they will all die. And yep.

They do.

In a stone box below the sands of Egypt...errr....American Fork, Utah. But I'm ahead of myself. And I start to cry. Because I already know the ending but I always wish I could change it.

And I can't stop crying! I have directed in this theatre before. A couple of times. And it's not Egypt. And I have been bitten by about a hundred ants during the course of the show because it's a stone amphitheater cut out of the side of a hill and needs to be sprayed. But I am still bawling. And my back is killing me because there is no back rest - just a stone seat. Still...yes...bawling. And it's July. Sweltering heat. Bawling. And I know half the cast, in fact I taught a few of them when they were in junior high, which, I think made me bawl even harder. Night after night, I've listened to the director of the show (I know him because it's my husband Andy) tell me how difficult it has been to put the show together (all community theatre is!) and still it's an absolutely beautiful show, what was he worried about? Bawling.


“HOW HIGH A RIDGE I COULD NOT TELL, FOR THE SUN HAD SET AND DARKNESS FELL BEFORE I REACHED ITS PINNA-CUL.” WFG


Then the scene comes to a close and the servant boy is lying on the stage, dead, the lights go out. He lets a decent moment go by, and then he pops up and exits the stage and there is a little laugh from the audience because he's alive! Too bad about that gorgeous full moon "blue out." And I start crying again. If I was indoors that effect would take me hours to put together but in this amphitheater the sitting moon lends it's hand without another thought as if it’s just another audience member swinging in to see the show. "You're welcome" it says. Still, wish you could put a dimmer on it just for a second for the dead servants exeunt.

But we quickly forget about the undead servant when Aida and Radames are banished to the tomb together...and I am crying again. A big plywood tomb. Not sandstone at all. And it's on wheels. Two amateur actors. One of them graduated from BYU that very day, in business, I think. Both of them are married to other people. Amazing singing voices. But the commitment to the roles... I think that's what has me crying.

And is occurs to me that we are at the end of a year full of theatre that has filled our lives once again with people like us that love theatre and do theatre for the love of it. We are back in the arms of what we love. Community theatre. We are back where we began.

Literally.


“My first show was Barefoot in the Park, which was an absolute smash, but my production on the stage of Backdraft was what really got them excited. This whole idea of 'In Your Face' theatre really affected them. The conceptualization, the whole abstraction, the obtuseness of this production to me was what was interesting. I wanted the audience to feel the heat from the fire, the fear, because people don't like fire, poked, poked in their noses, you know when you get a cinder from a barbeque right on the end of your nose and you kind of make that face, you know, that's not a good thing, and I wanted them to have the sense memory of that. So during the show I had someone burn newspapers and send it through the vents in the theatre. And well, they freaked out, and 'course the fire Marshall came over and they shut us down for a couple of days.” Corky St. Clair, Waiting for Guffman


The day we decided to send out wedding announcements we knew just where to begin. My mom had taken all my "show shirts" - you know, the souvenir t-shirt you get with the cast list printed on the back - and cut them up. She sewed the squares together and made a quilt out of them. We called it the "Show Quilt" and it is precious indeed. We laid it out on the living room floor and started making a list of all the people we wanted to send an announcement to. Because those are the people you gather into your heart. Old roommates, old neighbors, old ward members...sure...but how much time do you spend with a show cast in comparison?! THOSE are the people that would want to know that you are getting married. Those people share an experience with you that cannot be replicated. This quilt represented all the time you came together after a long day at work to bind yourself to a group of people that may have never put on a pair of tap shoes in their life...and you see them sweating bullets over Stephen Schwartz’s Russian Klezmer harmonies in the bathrooms, backstage wrestling with Sondheim in the halls, panicking that I have just asked them to wear nothing but a towel in the shower scene of Damn Yankees...that hard swallow, followed by "Suuuure...my wife is going to have a heart attack." OH HOW I LOVE THOSE PEOPLE!!!


“I got off that boat with nothing but my dancers belt and a tube of CHAPSTICK!” WFG


And at this point as the cast of Aida has brought back a flood of precious memories, I pull out a notepad from my purse and start writing this blog through my tears. I forget about the ants and it just spills out onto the tiny notepad - all my love for every person that I have ever been in a show with or directed that never got paid to do a show, but just came out to do it FOR THE LOVE. You know who I'm talking about. And you know why you do it.

And you are why I do it. And you are why I was crying my eyes out that night in July.

I was an emotional wreck anyway because I was "sluffing" my own show (Thoroughly Modern Millie) that night to see Andy's show. But I had my Stage Manager on speed dial and we had already been sending texts back and forth all night.


Jan: How's it going?

Jamie: Taylor broke her leg today. Stop texting me. (Taylor was the girl that played Millie)

Jan: I'm not used to missing a show.

Jamie: You are useless now. Enjoy Aida. We got this.

Jan: I know, but...

Jamie: Stop texting me. I need to go do your show and you shouldn't have your phone on anyway. Geeeeeeez.

Jan: Yes ma'am.


“I was shopping for my wife Bonnie. I buy most of her clothes and Mrs Pearl was in the same shop! And it just was an accident you know, we started talking... about panty hose, she was saying... whatever that's not the point of the story but what the point is is that through this accidental meeting... it's like a Hitchcock movie you know where you're thrown into a rubber bag and put in the trunk of a car, you find people. You find them. Something, is is it karma? Maybe. But we found him, that's the important thing. And I got Bonnie a wonderful pantsuit.” WFG


The first show we got to do when we moved home was You Can’t Take it With You which Andy directed and I got to play my favorite role in the world – Penny Sycamore. I admit that I am completely type cast in this role, but I don’t care. I love her wackiness. The older I get, the more I see myself in her. And I loved this cast because it was all our “old” friends from Lehi High and Lehi Arts past and present. Jean and Jerry Hatch have kept the Lehi Arts Council going strong after all these years. And Chad… it’s so good to be home around Chad again…what an incredible group of people we worked with. It was like a comfort food buffet every night.


“Now everybody knew that Corky could direct, but who knew that he could act and sing and DANCE, and there's only one other person in the world who can do that and that's Barbara Streisand.” WFG


You Can't Take It With You the play that wraps its arms around you every single time...all five times I’ve had the privilege of opening its pages...and that's why we keep going back to it. The very theme of the show typifies those of us that spend our free time doing theatre…..What will we take with us into the next life? All the money we’ve made doing community theatre? HAHAHAHA! No! Might as well audition for a community theatre piece, make new friends, love on old friends and have the time of your life. Memories, people! It’s all about making memories. You can’t take it with you!


“If there's an empty space, just fill it with a line, that's what I like to do. Even if it's from another show.” WFG


I'm certain that the opportunity to do Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Sandy Amphitheater this summer (2013) was a gift from my Heavenly Father for the eight years I went without directing community theatre. What a relief that the cast we found was brilliant and talented and passionate and ready to RUMBLE...in tap shoes.

Everyone in Millie was a brand new friend, with two exceptions. I got to reconnect with our dear friend Kate who absolutely put the shine on the show with her magnificent chocolaty voice. Why isn't she on Broadway? And the lighting designer was my former high school student and lighting virtuoso Cole Adams (remember that early blog I wrote about Scmecky and Schmole? He's Schmole.) He also, should be on Broadway. Everyone knows it. Right?

Here's the thing...at casting, I was the NEWBIE. I didn’t know anybody except Kate. I would be casting blind, which is always scary. However, this was not my first rodeo and I set about to find passionate players that would come to the bar. And the bar was pretty high. There are four or five monster tap numbers in Millie, non-stop choreography, 16 set changes which usually means 16 costume changes, wigs…this isn’t your mamma’s South Pacific Jr. Still, we had more than a hundred people show up for auditions and I was flanked by choreographer Marilyn Montgomery and music director Eric Richards who were geniuses and knew everyone and could teach anybody anything (which, to my glee, I would learn later.)

The auditioners were all pretty great, but they were moms, and students, granddads and business men, a few community theatre Ron and Sheila’s with headshots that were taken in their backyard, etc… Some of them had taken drama classes in high school and a couple of them were actually theatre students on the university level, but most of them were there for the love and all of them were extremely talented. This was good.

We had an opportunity to cast some real veterans of the Hale Center stages but we would have had to work a miracle around their schedules because they were already in a show there. Still, when I listened to them sing and read their endless resumes I thought long and hard about making it work. They were real shiny types if you know what I mean. Their headshots were done in a studio and they had been asked to come and audition. They didn’t just show up for the love. It wasn’t sitting well with me and I know it’s because deep in the pit of my stomach, I pursue directing contracts on the community level for the teaching opportunity as much as anything else. (Heaven knows it isn’t for the money!) Would they be directable, could I get what I wanted from them? I’m so judging them right now and I have no reason to…except the air that followed them into the room and the non-verbal communication that was flying around the room from everyone else…screaming out “The Hale Center has just arrived, make way!!!” Hmmm…I would have to make a lot of way to use them – one of them was even an Equity actor that told us he was willing to lie to Equity to be in the show. Too bad I’m married to an Equity actor and know how completely unethical it is to put a theatre company like Sandy Arts in that kind of trouble. (And besides that, if you’re an Equity actor why are you even available for my little community show? Gah! I hope Equity catches that guy…)

I digress.

I made an executive decision, that if the community had come out to audition, the community would be cast. And I thanked the shiny-types for their presence, said a prayer over our rag tag but passionate crew of theatre lovers and posted the list. (I also bought tickets to the Hale show and it was fabulous!) But you know what?!

I was right.

I would put any one of my backyard headshots up against a studio hooty tooty any day. They were brilliant. They were zealous and grounded and available and they sang and danced until that show “shined like the top of the Chrysler Building.”


“I's a hankering as a young feller to be an actor but I went inta taxidermy instead.” WFG


The role of Millie was played by a sweet mom that used the role as motivation to lose 50 pounds before the audition! I had no idea! What an amazing example she was to me. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. She listened to me like it was her last day on earth. I loved her for that! But then she turned around and made bold awesome choices and lead the way. She was stunning to watch on stage. They all were. I cried every night and Millie is not a tear jerker. I just cried because I knew how hard they had worked and how much they listened to me and ran with it. BIG. On closing night they gave me a reel-to-reel version of TMM (Julie Andrews!), which is what I had grown up watching when I was a kid! How did they find that?! I just don’t know how to thank them for reminding me how much I love this stuff. This little blog will have to do. For the record, I would work for any of them again, anytime.

On top of having a brilliant cast, Sandy City also offers a support staff that is a shining example all community theatres everywhere. They are organized and ready to give you the world as a director. Of course, Cole came in at the end and lit it up until it was beyond the vision of what I had in my head.


“Of course Broadway is great and...there'll be other offers, keepin' our fingers crossed, but, and I think you know what I'm thinkin', the ultimate dream, Hollywood...Ever since I was a kid doin' my impressions..'Here's lookin' at you BABE' and 'yyyou don' cccare about aanybody but yyyerself'...who's that, who am I doin'...” WFG


I should take one more paragraph to pay tribute here to another community theatre that I owe my very life to. The Scera Theatre in Orem let me direct two of my all-time favorite experiences. First, Children of Eden, which is the mother of all my memories for some reason. It combined the warm summer nights with what I believe to be the greatest cast of all time and the greatest story of all time. Cole lit it, Becky stage managed it, Robert Bowden cracked the whip over the music direction and it brought me the dearest friends…all willing to wear sand colored overalls and be trees and animals on command.


“I'm walking on air... you know... this is a sensation which is... forget it. When I became a dentist, I thought I was happy, but THIS...” WFG


I must pay tribute to the show that brought me my eternal companion. Damn Yankees – also at the Scera. Andy and I were just “hanging out” every night that summer because I had cast him as Applegate (the devil). One night Chad, our BFF, leaked that Andy might have deeper feelings for me and I better be ready to deal with that if came up…”Just a warning…” he peeped out, “I know how you feel about younger men, don’t shoot the messenger.” The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. “Poor Andy,” I thought. I will never date a younger man again as long as I live.” But D’OH! He was an incredible Applegate! And I am a sucker for talented men on stage. Neither of us broached the topic for another year. But I sure thought about it. Every single day. Thanks Scera. Thanks Chad (who I met in Titanic – also at the Scera, BTW). See what I mean?!?!? I owe everything to community theatre!

Incidentally, some of you do to! Because I’ve never, NEVER, NEVER done a community theatre show without it introducing at least two young couples to each other who ended up getting married after the show! You’re welcome Johnny and Nicole, Stewart and Sarah, Jacob and Ashley…and I could go on and on and on...there is a list exactly as long as I have on my resume. (Okay, I’m not counting Nunsense or Steel Mags).

If that’s not reason enough to do a show… I don’t know what is! Those odds beat Match.com any day! Get out there and volunteer!!

So how to end my love note to community theatre peeps that have crossed my path? I owe community theatre my life. I can never repay it for what it has given me because it gets ahead. I am indebted for the blessings and so grateful for this particular gift I’ve been given because it gives back 100 fold. If your community doesn’t have a theatre, there’s no time like the present to start one up.


“So what I'm understanding here, correct me if I'm wrong, is that you're not givin' me any money, so now I'm left basically with nothing, I'm left with zero, in which, what can I DO with zero, you know, what can I--I can't do anything with it!..this is my life here we're talkin' about, we're not just talkin' about, you know, something else, we're talkin' about my life, you know!” WFG

So raise your plastic prop glasses to the community theatres that are still making it work despite the world’s insistence that money makes the world go around – I completely disagree – we’ve done some great theatre on a dime, some borrowed lights and a trunk full of love.


“You have to go where the love is.” WFG