Archive for February, 2007

Dreaming of England

I love it here where I feel safe. Safe in the arms of him. These familiar arms have carried me through my life; the whispers in my ear tell of so many stories we share together. I laugh and I cry happily here. I am comfortable. I don’t want to belong anywhere else. I belong to America.

But in my sleep my dreams betray me.

I dream of her. Of fog-shrouded castles and of writing words with extra letter Us thrown into them. Of eating pasties outside of the chippy on the corner and seeing her familiar face in the features of the pub owner down the road. Of uniformed schoolchildren and my own children calling me “mummy”. Of the gentle curve of her thin winding roads and her sultry thick mud on my Wellies. Of time spent together at London shows and ancient cathedrals. Of wandering hand in hand with her through villages of thatched roofs and little brick houses that have leaned on each other for hundreds of years.

As much as my dreams are sincere they equally decieving. Life would be easier and more comfortable if I stayed in the arms of America. Life would be more romantic and exciting if I was able to melt into the dream of England. Yet I refuse to put my own selfish desires in front of my honor. But which road is more selfish? Which is more honorable? Truly I can’t tell what my own desires are any more – when am I dreaming and when am I awake?

So I live at the whim of my emotions. My dreams. There is still a possiblity I may leave, or that possibility might have disappeared a long time ago. Perhaps it never was there. Perhaps it only existed in a nightsong. I believe I shared some secret, unspoken language with her. I felt her dancing eyes and suggestive smiles she shared with me in a castle, a little old man waiving his cane, a rainbow.  Did England feel it too?

So I will wait. Until time whispers when it is the moment that adventure and comfort can exist together. I don’t know if that means my dreams or my reality will change, but I know that it will mean that they will become one someday.

Until then, I will have her in my dreams.

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Environmentalism: England vs. America

When I was in England a couple of months ago, my innkeeper and I were talking surrounded by the mild fall night outside of the main building.  Across the garden lie another building – he and his partner shared an apartment on the bottom and the top was let out by some long-term residents.  He pointed up to the apartment, which was unnecessary as it was like a blinding beacon in the darkness.  “We call that the American house,” he teased me.  “You can see it a mile away.”  Sure enough, every light on the top floor was on while the innkeeper’s place showed only faintly by a singular light from one room.

Throughout my trip I had noticed the lack of artificial illumination in the English night.  I was annoyed and inconvenienced by this – as I walked along the village streets, there were no bright street or house lights on to make me feel secure.  Only a few dim lights and the moon guided my walk to the neighborhood pub – at a couple of points I actually had to feel my way along the stone walls and hedgerows.  It had been almost as much on the unlit major motorways.  Is England so much poorer than America that it cannot afford proper lighting? I wondered as I tripped into the dark mud.

So I asked the innkeeper why English towns are so dark at night.  “English people find it very – unbearable – when too many lights are on.”  he was being careful with his words although their meaning was not lost on me.  “For example, it is one of the most obnoxious sights to fly over an American city like New York or Los Angeles.  It’s quite blinding.”

The negative connotations of the word “environmentalist” are still very prevalent in the US, although the tides are starting to turn.  If someone labels themselves as an environmentalist here one conjures up images of the tie-died, stoned hippie hugging a tree and shouting angry nonsense about spotted owls as the loggers approach.  But in the UK and the rest of Europe, using resources irresponsibly or in an extravagant way is not a sign of wealth but intrinsically viewed as a sign of waste and greed.  There is no need to put a label of “environmentalist” on someone who drives a low-emissions vehicle – it is viewed as normal and sensible to want to make as small of an environmental footprint on the Earth as one can.

Despite our countries’ common histories, I’ve thought of several reasons why we might have such different worldviews.  Consider the implications of these facts: the US is a very large, relatively isolated young country founded on individual rights and capitalist principals.  I love my country fiercely for these very same reasons, but there have been some disadvantages to all that wealth and independence.  When settlers first came here resources were abundant – it seemed impossible that the richness of our land might some day run out on us, yet here we are.  While England began taking their environmental lesson to heart during the industrial revolution, ours is just starting to sink in.

In the recent film An Inconvenient Truth, a surprisingly approachable Al Gore rips to shreds the fallacy that global warming is part of a natural cycle and after hitting us with fact after indisputable fact calls it a “moral issue”.  At first this might seem either laughable or a tired cliche, but just take a moment to think about what this means:

Just for a moment, throw out everything you believe about religion and morality (or the lack thereof).  And pretend that it was you – in a moment of insane genius – who created the beautiful universe.  And in this universe you created beings, gave them free will, and surroundings that had everything they needed to survive.  As you looked into your petri dish of budding new life, what would you wish for your inhabitants?

My answer is clear.  I would think very little on trivial things like sexual rules and if it was necessary to eat fish on Fridays.  But I would care deeply about two matters:

1) I would want the residents of my world to love each other and be happy.

2) Similarly, I would want my beings to be kind and loving to the world I had created for them.

According to that last idea, I’m a sinner.  Through the years I’ve taken a lot of care to treat others with kindness and I do think that most of the time – even with my foot-in-mouth disease – I do pretty well.  But as I have been going about my life feeling all smug and superior morally, with my gas-guzzling SUV and our outrageously high energy bills I’m committing horrific crimes against humanity each and every day.

And just as my eyes had to adjust themselves when I moved from the cloudy, dim light of Seattle to the bright sunny days of the desert area I now live, I’m sure my eyes can adjust the English night if that’s where we end up living.  And along with sharp night sight, I hope England can adjust my heart to see more clearly as well.

Although I’ll never be an angry tree-hugging enviro-nazi, I’m slowly taking steps to rectify my sins.  As I go I’ll be writing about them here along with the usual ramblings about whatever I feel like talking about at the moment.  Follow along.  And if you care to, maybe we can change our lives – and our world – together.

Polygamists: support gay rights and I’ll support you

Polygamy Porter Beer - Wasatch BreweryAs a feminist, liberal, religiously holistic person I’m probably the last person the folks in Centennial Park, Arizona – a polygamist fundamentalist Mormon town – would think would be on their side.  But after watching Primetime tonight I realize I’d be a hypocrite if I was not.

Many of you might remember a similar story a couple of years ago about Colorado City, Arizona – a town only two miles down the road from Centennial Park – whose residents also practice polygamy but with an abusive and pedophilic twist.  But if Primetime got its story right, Centennial Park is a far cry culturally from Colorado City.  In Centennial Park, although a marriage is partially arranged, women have a say in who they will marry and can walk away from the match without a problem.  Families there look and act much like the people in my neighborhood – they listen to hip hop music and have modern homes even if they do have dozens of children.

I absolutely don’t agree with Centennial Park’s strictly literal interpretation of the scriptures.  For instance, they believe that persons of African lineage were given their dark coloring through a curse by God as they are direct descendants of Cain.  And as a feminist, I was ready to be hung up on their belief that wives are much like property, which is disconcerting to say the least.  Yet one does not have to like a person or buy in to everything they believe in order to support their rights.

But the funny thing?  Although they are racists and sexists and their biblical rigidity would prohibit them from recognizing me as a Christian, I do feel their cultural structure is working – for them.  If the interviewees were being forthcoming, they are happy and even the wives in these marriages would have it no other way.  They say their hearts are big enough for more than one spouse.  Who of you who are parents to multiple children can not understand the notion that love does not have limits?

So, residents of Centennial Park, I have a proposition for you.  You believe you have a right to have a marriage that is not the cultural norm yet works for you?  Support gay marriage.  GLBTs are asking for the same thing you are – the right for their relationships to be recognized as legitimate even if the majority of us choose not to live their way.  Can you see that you are different yet you are the same?  If so, I’ll stand by your right to plural marriage one hundred percent.

It’s what Jesus would do.

Now, do I want a sister-wife?  Nah.  “The Lifestyle” is not for me.  Nor is it for my husband, who much to my dismay loves his Polygamy Porter t-shirt still insists that I’m all the mate he can handle and then some.  But if others choose to swing, even if it is in long skirts down to their ankles, we’re not going to cast the first stone.

Who I am: a mantra

I’d rather be…

…smart than beautiful.

…aware than happy.

…ditsy than dumb.

…true to myself than trendy.

…honest than witty.

…the target of a cruel joke than the jokester.

I’d rather have…

…a pair of sensible shoes than a closet full of uncomfortable ones.

…a few real friends than a lot of fake ones.

…a heart full of love than a pretty face.

I’d rather feel…

…ackward than fake.

…self-aware than self-absorbed.

…true to myself than “one of the cool kids”.

…like a square peg than a perfectly shapened round one just like all of the others.

Sadly, some days, I have to remind myself of these things.

No Plan B for Rape Victims in Connecticut

Opponents of a Connecticut bill that would require hospital workers to offer emergency contraception (EC, Plan B, the morning after pill) to rape victims are calling it a “restriction on religious freedom”.   Others are saying that it is “ludicrous” that Connecticut “apparently needs a state law to force hospitals to provide” EC to rape survivors.

40% of rape survivors who make it to a counselor in a Connecticut hospital are not offered emergency contraception or were not given the full two doses of the drug, according to Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

Not surprisingly, the largest opponents of the bill are Catholic Hospitals, who currently test to make sure a woman is not ovulating before agreeing to give EC.  In other words, they only agree to give EC if they are sure there will not be a pregnancy in the first place.

And the point of that is?

The Catholic Church equates the prevention of implantation as abortion. It is little known that most fertilized eggs pass through a woman without implanting, EC or not.  In fact, ACOG (the main body that governs Obstetricians and Gynecologists) marks the beginning of pregnancy at once the egg implants into the lining of the uterus.  So EC does not cause an abortion.  In fact, it prevents one from happening later.

Even if you do not buy that EC is not abortion, let’s examine the ethical dilemma in question.  Are doctors having to compromise their religion by offering the morning after pill to rape victims?  No.  A doctor’s job is to give accurate information on both sides of a coin and allow a patient to decide the best treatment for themselves.  In other words, it is not the doctor’s (or counselor’s or hospital’s) ethical or religious delimma at all.  It is the woman’s.

The withholding of EC and information about EC from rape victims is happening in Catholic hospitals outside of Connecticut as well.

Can anyone say “personal agenda”?  Holy hell.

Breastmilk: It’s not just for babies anymore!

Have you heard the news? Jennifer Laycock over at the Lactivist is out claiming that breastmilk is not just for infant consumption.  In fact, we all should be drinking it.

Or that’s what the attorneys at Fagre & Benson and the National Pork Board would have you believe she meant with her “The Other White Milk” t-shirts for sale at her CafePress.com store.  And namely one Jennifer Daniel Collins, esquire, an associate attorney who was paid to write this letter to Jennifer, accusing her of trying to confuse us into consuming breastmilk instead of pork products, as pointed out in this quote from the cease and dissist letter:

“In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board’s mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan “The Other White Milk.” “Dairy Diva,” “Nursing, Nature’s Own Breast Enhancement,” “Eat at Mom’s, fast-fresh-from the breast,” and “My Milk is the Breast.”

I can’t help but feel sorry for the young Ms. Collins.  She seems like a nice girl.  She has an impressive education and a good start in her budding professional life.  But now, I imagine she has now been reduced to turning out boring trademark infringement letter after letter like this so she decided to have a little fun and throw in the above laughable paragraph.

Luckily, thanks to bloggers and readers, the Pork Board has now given the Lactivist an apology and they are working towards a resolution.  Hooray for the online community!


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