Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby ūüėČ ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy little stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and even her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday, which was strange, really. Cricket’s spent plenty of overnights at the doctor. Penny had no reason to wonder, unless she knew. And she did. She knew it was different this time. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to have her here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, fat kitty!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting out alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious. It’s such a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.” Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. ūüôā

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. I never thought of Penny as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened. I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality.

I’m not ready.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

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Eclipsed and Bitter

And tongue-in-cheek as ever. That’s a good sign.

I’m recording my thoughts in real time, to edit and add to during the day from my desk. My ugly, utilitarian desk in a warehouse in an ugly industrial complex in the bowels of Salt Lake City. I should be enjoying the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE, complete with good viewing weather, and that amazing, once-in-a-lifetime solar corona, in my beautiful, mythic Western Idahome.

But I’m not. Because my family sucks. And I fit right in, ‘cuz I suck the hardest!

I’m getting my wicked sense of humor and strange spirituality back, the dance between naughty and nice I enjoy about my life, and I’m on the road to recovery. But make no mistake: This day is not easy for me, and I’m very cranky about it.

IT WAS MY BIRTHRIGHT, you bastards!

Bitter is easier than weepy. *sigh*

I’m drinking a 6-pack of cold Coronas with lime after work to commemorate missing the cosmic corona of my life. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d experienced this day with my family, with God, and the Mormons.

So there’s that.

*SOUR!*

I’m quite enjoying full indulgence in this tantrum, if I’m honest. It’s fun, and a relief from pressure to call on the strength of my higher self. I’m actually doing much better emotionally, having given myself permission to just be a brat. I’m not adulting today.

****

Hashtag This Is Happening!

The moment I saw the eclipse beginning I started hooping in the parking lot of my ugly industrial building, and making a TOTAL FOOL OF MYSELF, in honor of the total solar eclipse I’m still furious for missing. We’re visible from a very busy road.

I’ve been laughing so hard! It feels good to lose it.

It’s been a long time since I did anything other than cry and rage. Hardest summer/romantic break-up/familial divorce/pet emergency of my LIFE!

Seriously, Universe? Why you gotta pile on? What else you got for me?! I can take maybe one more thing, and then you better lay off while I do the work of getting myself re-situated and well.

Let this partial solar eclipse – that I’m pissed as hell about – be that one more thing, the cosmic smack-down that I’m finally willing to listen to, and have done with it. 91% is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

And guess what? I accept it. OK, Universe? I accept. I’m okay with that right now.

And I’m having fun! I’m so relieved.

*sigh*

****

Well, I just hula hooped for an hour in my parking lot with coworkers. I don’t even have jealousy in my heart for missing the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE in my Idahome town.

91% ain’t bad, folks. Not bad at all.¬†I’ll take it! … With joy, with zeal, and maybe even a modicum of humility for a minute.¬†¬†

*sigh*

My mom always warned me, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Dare I say it? … Mother was right.

That really was cosmic, and I feel great.

bowing to the mother

warehouse meeting~ Supervisor Mark getting in on the ridiculous ~

When I learned my boss had gone to Burning Man one year, and came to know more about his wonderful wackiness, I said, “I KNEW this was the right job for me!”

He’s been a great friend. He’s retiring in December, and I’m sorry to see him go.

(I’m not the best hooper – won’t devote myself to consistent practice – but one thing I’m good at is getting the shy-folk to JUST TRY IT. I won’t take no for an answer, whether you like it or not, and I love this pic of my colleagues in the hoop.)

We’ve been Eclipsed.

corona

I ended a beautiful day with Corona-and-lime to commemorate the Solar Corona I missed not going north to Idaho. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d spent the eclipse with my family, with God, and the Mormons. Perfect!

MoTabs Betray Lack of Morals in Mormon Leadership

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is singing at his inauguration. I’m so angry.

HOW COULD YOU?!

Fine, do it. But get off that fucking high horse. Your voices reach the stratosphere, but your morals are in the gutter. Don’t even pretend anymore!mormon-tabernacle-choir-750

(I¬†have this belief that he wanted the Mormons to sing for him as a way of forcing naysayers to worship at the altar of Trump. But, then, how Utah voted… we really can’t call ourselves naysayers, now, can we?)

(It’s more likely that no one else said yes. Ask the Mormons! They’ll call it a chance to spread the good word, and stick their tongues right up his asshole!)

Who better to herald a racist than a religion that refused to give black members full status, until threatened with loss of tax-exemption? Who better to honor a misogynist than a religion that sees women as little more than vessels? Who can mark the reign of a pedophile rapist like a church with a legacy of forced child brides? Who else could represent a power-hungry, money-grubbing bully like the wealthiest religion in the U.S., that keeps a political, ideological stranglehold on an entire population?

If nothing else, The MoTabs enter his immutable blandness¬†into history.¬†Is there a human being in the world with less groove? I mean, if you’re going to be a despot, at least be cool. Unfit, unready, petulant, vitriolic, stupid!, BANAL.

Click here  to petition The Mormon Tabernacle Choir to decline Inaugural invitation (and to read a lovely treatise written by a person of conscience, who illustrates the feeling of many decent people in that religious body).

Click here to read about the courageous, principled singer who resigned from the choir! Thank you, Jan Chamberlin! You’ve restored so much faith and pride to me.

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized!¬†It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them.¬†I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that¬†hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and¬†I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food Рprimarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup Рand turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

Hate-Mongering and the Homo

LDS Church launches ‚ÄėGay and Mormon‚Äô website; advises faith, celibacy

*surprise, surprise*

l-whitney-clayton

Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of The Brethren, offers yet more self-righteous platitudes about not acting on same-sex “impulses.”

http://gephardtdaily.com/religion/lds-church-launches-gay-and-mormon-website-advises-faith-celibacy/

I almost never comment on inflammatory social media blurbs, but this is the thrust of the problem in my particular religious community, and I feel a whole lot of cursing coming on. Instead, I just said this:

“cuz that’ll solve the misunderstanding, self-and-OTHER-loathing, and suicide rampant in our culture as a result of ‘love the sinner/hate the sin’ rhetoric”

It’ll be buried in a barrage of so-much-nothingness, but I have the satisfaction of saying my piece, for what it’s worth… not much when you consider that the #1 risk of death for children¬†in Utah is suicide, and, like, 90% of those are gay.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! It’s 2016!

Mormon Church, knock it off or shut the fuck up!
being-gay

Losing My Religion

“Rifts in the Mormon Family: What Just Happened?”
University of Chicago Divinity School

Since Nov. 5, 2015, when the¬†Mormon Church¬†was¬†outed for an LGBT¬†policy they¬†tried to¬†sneak into¬†leadership handbooks without anyone’s notice, I’ve been struggling to write something¬†cohesive about what just happened to the religion of my childhood.

The above article is the best thing I’ve read on the matter in the last 2 weeks, but it’s insufficient to characterize what this has really done the global community of Mormons of any kind. WHAT THE FUCK? is all we’re left with.¬†If good Mormons swore.

This affects all of us, the disenfranchised and the devout.

I haven’t gone to church in 24 years, but it hit me so hard I’m at a loss¬†for how to address it.¬†If you care to have any understanding of what just happened to the Mormon¬†Church¬†and why I, too, finally removed my name from the records at the rally mentioned in the article, please read it.¬†Perhaps because the writer isn’t emotionally invested, he’s better able to¬†capture it.

If you’ve been¬†reading me for awhile, you know that anger is the first thing I feel when confronted with any type of challenge. I learned early that anger is easier to feel than pain, and it was a natural fit for a strong-willed personality such as mine. But this deception by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has absolutely broken my heart, and all I feel is deep, throbbing sorrow. I’ve been emotional and profoundly¬†sad for 2 solid weeks.

I can no longer lend my name¬†to an organization that injures and alienates people. I was never able to believe the doctrine, but this is the first¬†I’ve seen them, firsthand, as intentionally deceptive and ungodly. I always gave them the benefit of the doubt: “They really believe it’s true and,¬†however flawed the behavior of mankind is,¬†their intention is to lead with love and be like Christ.”

I was wrong. This is just hate. They hid it, then scrambled like hell when buried exclusionism was exposed. It hurts to find out you’ve been duped. A knowing deception is more bitter than an accident of good intention.

It’s all bullshit. And they know it! This is simply a tactic to prevent the normalization of homosexuality among the rank-and-file of the LDS Church. And what of the¬†many years when leaders recommended various reparative therapies to LGBT people, including¬†marriages which¬†produced the very children the church is now disavowing?

When REM’s “Losing My Religion” was released in ’91, I was scandalized and¬†utterly tortured by it. Not only was blasphemy one of the greatest songs ever¬†(still), I’d¬†been struggling for years already, fearing for my eternal soul: I could not reconcile myself to the absurd claims of LDS dogma (later to all claims of all religions). It was as though I’d been¬†found out. When the song¬†played¬†among peers, I acted as though I didn’t hear it at all.¬†Alone, I turned it¬†full-blast and sang like God Himself was listening.¬†“Answer that! Tell my why, HOW, it’s true! Can’t you hear me? I’m losing my religion!”

I didn’t want to. My parents are well-meaning and honest. Educated, intelligent. They’re¬†flawed, nice, every-day folk. They wouldn’t sell me a false bill of goods. Ultimately, I accepted that we arrived at different truths. And that was fine.

This isn’t.

I believe in something, but not¬†orthodoxy. Right now I’m pretty pissed off at mine.

Good-bye, little Mormon girl. One voice matters and yours belongs only to you now.

trying to be like jesus

The Brethren changed the handbook for lay-leadership, barring the children of gay people from baptism until age 18 – if they disavow their gay parent(s) – AND DIDN’T TELL THE MEMBERSHIP! It was leaked on Nov. 5, 2015.

notary

Local attorney, Mark A. Naugle, offered his services for free. It can be a real hassle leaving the Mormon Church. This simplified the process and gave it gravitas. Notaries were also on hand, at no charge, for good measure.

robert and me

It was a beautiful Fall day with my friend Robert.

Embrace the Unknown

I found this awesome quote that speaks to my life’s journey: walking into the unknown.

Growing up, I was required to KNOW what my family, friends and community knew, and to say so publicly. I never did, because I never knew. I tried to know. I studied. I prayed. I cried. I begged. Still, I didn’t know. I felt inferior, ugly, evil, angry, guilty, unworthy.

One day, I let it go. I turned around and walked into an abyss of no answers, no knowing, no script on how to live, no idea what to expect of my future. I took a lot of wrong turns. Ultimately, I found myself dancing in the question mark. I like not knowing.

“… Uncertainty is a great liberating gift to the psyche and the spirit. It‚Äôs walking the razor‚Äôs edge of the sacred moment where you don‚Äôt know, you can‚Äôt count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.” -Joanna Macy