Thursday, November 10, 2016


Prologue: The following are my honest feelings and maybe somewhat meandering and ramble-like. Many will disagree with me, but I am feeling this way and your disagreement doesn’t change that. Nor does it change the heavy assessment I have to make in many aspects of my life. I’m willing to discuss these things, but not argue with someone as to why I shouldn’t feel this way or how I am wrong. I will discuss anything in this post the same way I talked about most of the election, in person or on the phone. Though he has a starring role, this post is less about Donald Trump and more about how the decisions of those I know have affected me emotionally. I am not ignorant of the fact that some people are struggling economically, or have feeling that a their vision of america is slipping away, but the people who have disappointed me most are not struggling in an economic sense. And a vision is just that, a vision, and not reality. Something I understand all too acutely today.

I woke up Wednesday morning in my own bed, but it might as well have been in a different country. To see that Donald Trump had been elected President made me question reality and is one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life, and my mom died when I was ten, so that is not a trifling scale.

I had to come to terms with the fact that regardless of other reasons they may tell themselves that they voted for Donald Trump, half of the electorate in this country had given into fear and hate. Growing up I learned from an early age, mainly from people of the republican persuasion, that people, especially in this country, all have the God given gift of choice. Though some may feel their choices are limited by circumstances or other barriers, they still choose how they will react in the face of challenges and circumstances. Many in our country decided to react like a caged animal and gave in to man’s most base, natural instinct… fear.

Many people chose to give into fear, give into hate, and value the empty promises of an empty man. Many of these who support Donald Trump, and a republican agenda in general, will chalk all the displays of sorrow and disgust at the result of this election as others just being poor losers. But I assure you, that is not the truth for many of people expressing these sentiments. If Mitt Romney had won the election in 2012, I would have been disappointed but also glad that our country would still be led by a good person. Our country's decision this week to elect a man bereft of any good deed, thought, or motive marks a turning point for our country.

Growing up LDS (i still am LDS) I was often exposed to the idea of the United States of America as a divinely established land, a divine heritage for those who value freedom, religion and expression of that religion. American exceptionalism was a matter of doctrine for many around me. What many of those people forget is a place is only as exceptional as the people who inhabit it and live according to their values and morals. On Tuesday so many people traded their values and morals for political influence, which makes them corrupt.

I work in communications and I understand that the truth can be obscured by how we say and frame a message. A lot of people I know are going to spend time justifying why they voted for Donald. Framing their choice in terms of the old republicans falls back of abortion (I’m neither completely pro-choice or pro-life), the second ammendment (guns), and closely tied to these two are the supreme court. There also the new republican hates, like the ACA. The fact that people gave into knee jerk reactions to vote for Donald because of pet issues is just one more confirmation of giving into fear. When you vote for someone you’re getting the whole enchilada. I understood that when I voted for Secretary Clinton.

For many people in the religious community I grew up in, faith and politics become so intermingled they can’t see where one ends and the other begins. But that does not excuse them from the choice they made. Some people have accused people of being too caught up in this election. I think the results show that being caught up in something, doesn’t actually mean someone will think critically about the ramifications of a choice, nor the consequences of that choice on others.

People will say I am writing all this because I am bitter. Well I am feeling a lot of emotions right now but bitter does not capture it. If I had to settle on just one it’s betrayed. I feel betrayed by so many people I know and  for whom I am losing respect, including family members. It would be easier if I could just say those nameless, faceless people did this, but that’s not the case. That they would vote for a man who treats women with such little respect and sees women only as objects to dominate, increase his status and fulfill his sexual desires is what is most heartbreaking. It definitely sends a message to me about what they think of me and my purpose in life.

My heart also breaks and yearns for the refugees who fled war and unconscionable circumstances, to end up in a country where half the electorate has just decided that opportunity and freedom today only apply to people who look and worship in a certain way.

In James 1:27 it reads- “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The modern widows and fatherless are women, minorities, the disabled, muslims, people who are LBGTQ, and all the other populations that Donald lambasted during his presidency. So many of my faith have violated this directive and made the choice that puts these groups in direct peril. Even if one can justify this in their mind, it doesn’t change the increased daily challenges, fear and persecution many of these people are now facing.

Will Donald Trump surprise us, will a 70 year old man change his stripes? I hope to God he does for the sake of everyone in this country and especially for the sake of all the groups of people I mentioned above. But we are already seeing so many reports of individuals in these groups being persecuted by people openly identifying as Trump supporters and justifying their actions by the outcome of the election.

I’m still going to do what I can in my small sphere of influence to love and serve, and to make America approach that exceptionalism that so many have violated this week. I will have to see if I can gain back any of the respect I use to have for some people in my life. I will also have to learn to deal with the ramifications of what it means when people use their sphere of influence, a vote, to give one of the most hateful men in the public eye the largest sphere of influence that exists in our world, the office of President of the United States.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Estate Sale

On my Saturday morning constitutional I walked past a house having an estate sale and my voyeurism tendency kicked in. How often do I have the chance to look through someone's house and stuff without them inviting me over or me just letting myself in? ;)

Browsing other people's most near and dear possessions quenched my bout of  voyeurism but also left me feeling sad.  Having never been to an estate sale I didn't realize that it literally meant everything is for sale. There were even pictures for sale of the people who, I can only assume, lived in the house. Who would buy those? Much of the stuff was still in closets or seemed barely taken off the wall and put on a table. These people's lives had been so exposed.

I associate estate sales with death, mainly of old people or sudden, tragic deaths. I hope when I die my family will just send my stuff to DI or Good Will and not open my house up for people to come riffle through my things. Despite my indignant rant they did have some great stuff. Here are the things I would have bought had I any money with me:

  • A Cole Porter LP
  • A MoTab Sings Christmas Carols LP
  • An 8-Track player
  • Portfolio-like books of Cezanne and Van Gogh, with prints
  • A few scarves
  • The July 1982 edition of National Geographic

Thursday, February 23, 2012

LOVE of Music

Many of you already know this, but I LOVE music. I LOVE music in the sense that I am annoying to talk to about music; but not in the sense that I am up to date on all the latest artist or know everything about every band ever. When I find an artist or a band I like, I REALLY like them and will follow them for years. I’m one of those people that if I wasn’t so inhibited I would be that annoying person you are standing next to at the concert swaying to the music with my eyes closed.  For now I try to keep that confined to my house and bedroom. 

Music is a balm and a coping mechanism. Music offers me the same familiarity and safety a security blanket offers a toddler. High energy situations and stress in my life are usually accompanied by a large dose of The Strokes; sad and lonely times require a few hits from Regina Spektor or Andrew Bird. Then there’s Bon Iver, who I will listen to anytime, anywhere, no matter my mood.  However, my music-listening hobby can have side-effects, a particular song, album or artist will suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelm me with memories.

Today I was listening to some M. Ward Archives on NPR as I was doing other work. A song came on from his Post-War album and the next thing I know, instead of thinking about the impact of maternity care practices on birth costs, I’m back in Cheyenne Wyoming at my brother and sister-in-law's house sitting on the twin bed they bought me trying to figure out what I should do with my life. Ironically, I can listen to the latest Bon Iver or Santigold and have the same experience, the only difference is the bed I’m sitting on now is in Atlanta:)

I know this phenomenon is not unique to me. I also have had similar experiences reading, but I love that a 3-4 minute song can conjure up a perfectly melded experience of time, place and situation that I will never be able to visit in person. I don't mind that the memories aren't always happy.

So I leave you with a cover song that I LOVE

M.Ward’s cover of David Bowie's Let’s Dance

Sunday, January 8, 2012

National Parks: Part II

I am not much of historian and think sometimes that I should write a letter to Richard Lyman Bushman for his advice to the novice historian. Much of the history I learn feels distant and disconnected from my personal life. Recently, I made an interesting personal connection while watching to the history of  Grand Teton National Park on the Ken Burn's National Park Series

Yellowstone was the first U.S. National Park, established in 1872. If you are a fan of national parks then it's a good thing that Wyoming was not yet a state, otherwise Yellowstone could easily have been a state park, like Yosemite started out or not a park at all. Years after becoming a park more and more people took notice of the beautiful jagged mountains south of Yellowstone, and in 1908 the Teton mountains themselves were made a national forest.

I have vivid memories of sitting in the front room of my grandparent's house or out by my grandpa's extensive garden watching cars go up the highway, a road that if one continues to drive 45 minutes east will wind along a beautiful reservoir and by taking the right forks in the road will land one in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.

While sitting in my grandparent front room or by the garden I have listened to numerous stories told by my grandpa. Grandpa, being a farmer, talks and thinks of land the same way most people talk and think about the weather, which means daily. (Don't worry the weather is also a common topic of conversation, especially for a dry farmer). Many times these discussions elicit not-so-friendly comments about how certain neighbors, the government and oddly, the Rockefellers are affecting local land prices. Growing up and even now I have not been involved or much interested in real estate nor the factors that change prices. I always thought my grandpa's statement a little odd, but after watching this National Parks series, I realize grandpa's statement may not be off the mark.

According to the NPS:
  • The original Grand Teton National Park, set aside by an act of Congress in 1929, include only the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at the base of the mountains.
  • The Jackson Hole National Monument, decreed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt through presidential proclamation in 1943, combined Teton National Forest acreage, other federal properties including Jackson Lake and a generous 35,000-acre donation by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Rockefeller lands continued to be privately held until December 16, 1949 when impasse for addition to the national park was resolved.
  • On September 14, 1950, the original 1929 Park and the 1943 National Monument (including Rockefeller’s donation) were united into a “new” Grand Teton National Park, creating present-day boundaries
After congress set aside the original 1929 land including only the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at the base of the mountains, John D. Rockefeller Jr. who thought the park should be bigger with an unobstructed view from the valley, was quietly buying up land in Teton Valley. He hoped to add it to the park. But Wyoming's was a state by now and an intense state-federal battle began.  President Roosevelt sought to expand the park despite local resistance. Eventually, a compromise was reached to bring more land under protection and gave us the Grand Teton National Park we know today.  But it also resulted in Wyoming being the first "state" (OK so it wasn't a state yet) to have a National Park (Yellowstone) and the only one that by law will never have another one created. As part of the  Teton's compromise the Federal Government agreed to never again use the Antiquities Act (the act used to create National Parks) to protect land inside Wyoming.

Apparently some of the Rockefeller's posterity must be meddling again in the local real estate, and grandpa's stories are more than just the reveries of a retired farmer.

Here are some pics to show it is a real pretty place, is it any wonder rich people would want to move there and drive up land prices:)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

National Parks: Part I

This last month I watched Ken Burn's The National Parks: America's Best Idea and loved it. I'd seen some of it a few years ago but this was the first time I've watched it beginning to end. It is a hearty 12 hour endeavor and I did over a few weeks, but it was worth it.

A few years ago I decided to make some lifetime goals. One of these goals was to visit every National Park (NP) in the US. I already had a good start, being from Utah and having a parents who must have loved NP --or were just cheap-- because it seemed we visited a NP every family vacation whether we wanted to or not.

Even though I may have complained on a few of those trips, I love National Parks, in idea and actuality. They may be the only form of federal government involvement some members of my family and I will ever agree on. It is easy to get caught up in owning very tangible and proximal items like electronics, cars, clothes and real estate, these things usually belong to one person or a family, we don't have many opportunities to experience what it is like to have ownership and responsibility for communal goods.

I recently visited two NP in Florida, the Everglades and Biscayne.  Each park has it's own beauty. The Everglades are like the where's Waldo of National parks, keeping one ever alert i hopes of glimpsing a Heron, Anhinga, Alligator or some other wildlife. Whereas the Western parks of my youth demanded great hikes and quiet contemplation as one looks upon God's natural temples.

National parks are filled with people from all over the US, the world and from every walk of life. I have met people both from the US and other countries with whom I have very little in common but can talk about the grandeur of delicate arch in Arches NP or the acrophobia inducing Angel's Landing of Zion NP. Talk to Europeans who once they know you are from Utah want to re-live their trips of Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion's to you. A national park is a place where I and a Latina teenager from Florida can stand side by side and watch in wonder an alligator on a log staring at a turtle. It is a communitarian experience that people from the entire political spectrum can appreciate. 

Everglades: If you look real close you can see an alligator



Glacier: Brother Mike and I on a sibling bonding hike. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Without a car no more

I made it a whole week without a car. I've felt real blessed--I have to use that word is it such a Southern word, do you know how many times I've heard "bless her heart" and this time of the year "have a blessed Christmas," What wrong with the word merry people?-- to have so many great friends who were happy to give me rides. In all, I got 10 rides from 7 people in 5 days. When I finally picked up my car Friday afternoon I was glad to be back in the drivers seat.

I was surprised at how well I did without my car, a blog post by by Dan Ariely about Flying Frustrations reminded me of this. He shares a story about how a two-hour flight to Chicago ended up taking 6 hours due to weather. Knowing myself, I was surprised that I didn't have more frustrating moments like this. The only one I can recount was upon learning how much it would cost to fix dear Regina. So while I definitely had to adjust to others schedules and had some of the idle moments Ariely talks about, my trick was to always carry a book with me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A week without a three.

Think about what you do when you are in a car by yourself... do you listen to the radio, talk on the phone (I don't recommend this but understand if it happens), make mental lists? I mainly listen to NPR and if I'm driving during the classical music hours then I listen to my ipod. Not that I have anything against classical music but the voice of the DJ sounds like she also works for a 1-900 number--sometimes it makes me a little uncomfortable.

Well this week everywhere I went was with someone and usually when I in a car with someone we chat, and I had some great chats. I decided to count up how many different people have given me a ride this week, it adds up to 6 so far. That means at least 6 conversations. It's been nice to have a little more informal human contact in my life. I have enjoyed learning more about the people giving me a ride.

Here's a few things I've chatted with people about:

  • The absence of official dietary guidelines for children 0-2 years old.
  • Birth control.
  • Musical talents, or lack thereof. 
  • The fact that one of my coworkers husbands stayed home and cooked Thanksgiving for his neighbor who has cancer while his family went to New York.
  • More than I ever needed to know about Sons of Anarchy. 
  • Someone who got married on 11/11/11.
  • HBCUs