Let’s Talk Trump

I’m reentering the conversation.

First of all, let me be clear about my church membership. I haven’t left. I guess you could say I’m working my way back, even though I never fully left in the first place. If you were under the impression that I had left, I apologize that I wasn’t fully clear in my previous blog post. It’s just with so many active members vocally celebrating the election of a man who fell under broad LDS condemnation over his misogyny, racism, and general moral inappropriateness during his candidacy, I seriously needed a lot of space.

I could not even be in the same room as anyone in Utah talking politics after November 8. From that time, until the inauguration, the amount of angst I was experiencing multiplied. It got to the point where I studiously avoided Facebook, and I could not even retreat to the relative safety of blogging. I did NOT want to deal with any thoughts or opinions on the man many call our president. I still can’t bring myself say the words president and Trump in the same sentence. (Looks like I just did it–and to be honest, I didn’t like it at all.)

I really struggled with acknowledging the actual validity of this election, when it was so obvious that there was interference, and given the man’s penchant for taking pecuniary advantage of people, I’m sure there was money involved. After all, money talks, and people were listening, especially old white men. And if you are an old white man who is offended by that remark, I have just one question; why are you reading my blog? Continue reading

It Didn’t Work

What I really should be saying is that I didn’t do it. I mean, I didn’t follow my daily list, nor did I go to church.

Back in September of last year, I announced that I would be following a recommended daily to-do list that I had used way back in the day while I was still married to my first husband, and well into my years as a divorcee. When applied correctly, without compulsion, it worked very well for me. But, like I said, I didn’t follow it, and the results were very nearly disastrous.

I’m not going to go into detail, but I had to quit my job, and I very nearly left the church completely. So completely, in fact, that by Thanksgiving I began announcing to close family members, that I had already left the church. I didn’t really leave, I told them, but I felt that the church had left me, and that was why I would not be going back. Continue reading

Happy Native American Day!

Columbus Day is a government holiday that needs to be done away with.

Depending on the state you live in, it is a state holiday as well.  Less than half of the states in the U.S. still consider it a state holiday, but Utah is one of those states.  This means that not only do mail-workers, bankers, and other federal government workers get today off, but schools are closed and all Utah state workers get a day off too. No one else gets the day off.

Other states have gone a more logical direction, declaring it Native American Day; a more politcly correct celebration. One I can embrace whole-heartedly. Columbus Day is just an embarrassing reminder that millions of people died because someone got lost.

In honor of Native American Day, I’d like to share an autobiography written by one of my ninth-grade Navajo students while I was teaching in Page, Arizona.  I do not have a digital copy of the paper, so I  cleaned up some spelling and punctuation issues (what do you expect from a ninth grade kid, anyway?). Any words I changed are entered in brackets and I’ve added some photos and videos. Otherwise I am copying it exactly as written by my student.

The date on this paper is December 12, 2007.

I hope you’ll be as impressed as I was.

[I was born] in 1991 in Page, on April 3. I basically live a regular rez life–what people be calling it around here. We have our own slang words, our own accent, our problems in the Navajo place. It’s the typical rez: old hogan, old house, broke down cars.  In other words–ghetto. 

The rez is just like the streets. People die, drama, fights, gangs and drugs.  Poverty, violence, struggle  and the poor mostly reside on our reservation. Tons of people live without running water and electricity, but we still reside in an old-way society with a little urban in it. The good thing is that Navajos still speak their native language and know their culture and still believe in the old ways. Our mothers and fathers still talk to us in our tongue and they want us to learn to pass [it] on.

Then the bad thing is that no one ever quits getting high once they get into it. To this day my homies still come around drunk asking me to drink or to get high. Then I have to live with that every day and don’t get drunk or high.

 

[. . .] my father ran out on me when I was born and I don’t really know the story about that. I just heard that he was a drunk and spent most of his money on alcohol. Right now I have two little brothers, two little sisters and one older sister. Ever since, I’ve lived with my grandparents, six of my uncles, four of my [aunts] and my grandparents.

 

I had always seen drugs around. Ever since I was the age of five, I realized what it was and what it did. My uncles were alcoholics and my aunts used to party a lot when I was a kid, so I always saw it. I guess it was normal to see drugs around, to know it killed some of m relatives and sent my uncles to do time in the pen. My grand parents always talk to me not to do drugs but there was no use; it was an every night thing. I always [saw] my uncles fight because they were drunk. My oldest uncle named John is locked up now; and he did eight years and is coming back soon.

 

Well as I got older, I started to get into drugs and I used it and abused it. At the age thirteen I started drinking, getting drunk and high. I started to drop out of school an all I did was get high and drunk. I had to go to summer school to pass my grade. I kept on getting high and that’s all I thought life was all about, but I was wrong.

 

I did stress about myself and why I didn’t have a dad. I was stressing about how it would have been if he would be around. In reality, I found out that it was a stupid reason and he was a stranger in my life, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

 

As I got older I kind of got tired of partying because I was doing it every night. I tried to stop but peer pressure sucks, and my friends keep persuading me, saying “we’re going to have a good time.” Then I find myself drunk with my friends again. Also I’d find myself with a pipe in my hand, trying to catch a high. I guess I was really addicted for a while. Then all of a sudden I find myself locked up in a juvenile facility where I was locked up for criminal damage and minor consumption. The police also identified me as a Crip gang member, which I had started with my friends.

 

Native Warrior tat

We named our gang, our clique, Native Crips, also known as NC, behind the Warrior Society in the prison system . When I started the gang I just told my friends we should start a group so we could back each other up and watch one anothers’ backs out of it because w had problems with the Bloods, AKA BitterSpring Bloods. We had problems with them. We always did.  Therefore, they didn’t like us, we don’t like them.

 

As we started to get known, hangin’ around in a group wearing our blue colored bandanas, I honestly never thought the cops  would ever get involved with our so-called gang. As we started to drink, we got arrested and we threw signs in the cops’ faces. And they knew.  Ever since then, they [could] also identify the bloods, so they knew we had problems.

 

As I was saying, when I got locked up, I didn’t like it.  I started thinking about my life and if I were going to continue what I was doing. I would end up dead or in prison. I knew that, and I looked and thought about my family members that were locked up or that died because of drugs and what it does to you. So when I got released, the judge gave me a year of probation and told me not to hand out with my friends because we were known as The Crips. Then I thought deeply; if I continue this behavior with the gangs, I wouldn’t go nowhere in life. I thought if the gangs keep growing, that people’s lives are going to end because of colors, and I don’t want that for my people. Especially the next generation.

I don’t remeber the name of the student, but I hope that he meant what he said about getting out and getting clean.  It’s not an easy thing to do when you live on the Rez.  Especially since the rez life is so hard and leaving it means leaving your identity as a part of the Navajo culture.

When I was in college, I minored in geography.  I learned about the American holocaust from a class on the geography of American history.  The video below says that over 19 million people died “according to conservative estimates.”  I remember reading estimates closer to 80 million, counting both continents (Donald W. Meinig, The Shaping of America, 1986).  This video  explains what I am talking about.  It’s half an hour long, but well worth the time.

 

 

 

I Can’t–I’m Mormon

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I went window shopping at the Gateway Plaza. We were still living in Utah, so a trip to the outdoor shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City was a treat that we could easily afford. As we browsed through the shops we passed a display of t-shirts that poked fun at Utah’s Mormon culture. Usually I poke fun along with the best of them, but one t-shirt grabbed my attention, making a sad commentary on the general sacrificial perspective of those who have been raised with the should/should-not attitude of the pervading culture. It said “I Can’t– I’m Mormon.”

As a child, I had been taught not to smoke, drink, do drugs, or engage in premarital sex. Those were the things that Mormons are not allowed to do, and if I was going to be a good Mormon, I was not going to do them either.

I remember those days, while still in the general naivety of my youth, when I felt that I could dance around the edges of moral purity, and trifle with with the physical urges of the boys I dated, while remaining chaste enough for that coveted temple marriage. I particularly enjoyed what my dad called “huggy-bear and kissy face.” I believe that the generally accepted term in this generation is NCMO (a.k.a. non-committal make-out, affectionately pronounced “nickmo”). NCMO is too often given the wink and nod of ward-level church leaders who have “been-there, done that.”

I do know that even as I write this, I am treading over the general line of offensive opinion, but I make no apologies– general authorities have warned repeatedly against it, but many church members (such as myself) make excuses and allow for an occasional drift over the line, reminding themselves that they can “always repent.” I see it most often in the guys and girls who look for romantic commitment (and/or physical satisfaction) at incredibly young ages, because they haven’t learned how to bridle sexual urges. I understand it, because I was barely 19 when I was married the first time. I knew at the time that my husband-to-be was less than consummate, but those physical urges were over-powering, and being less than perfect myself, I naively believed that a temple marriage would save us from the disappointment of divorce.

Thirteen years, and four children later, I sat in my bishop’s office, with tears streaming down my face. I simply could not understand that my marriage could fail when I had done everything in my power to be the wife I thought my husband wanted. People close to me kept telling me that “it takes two” to make a divorce. Looking back, I believe that they were just as ignorant of reality as I was. I repeated this platitude to my bishop, and asked “I don’t get it, what did I do wrong?” My bishop leaned forward, took my hands in his, and said, “I don’t know, Marianne, what did you do wrong?” I thought for a minute, and suddenly the light went on– “I married him!” Continue reading