Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Single Funeral

     My name is not Maud. I didn't attend this funeral today looking for a Harold. I read her obituary in the paper. This young woman was but one year older than me. She had never married. From her picture, she looked just as boring and wholesome as I've been known to be referred to. I was curious, how was her family handling such a sad loss? What would the funeral service be like for such a lovely young woman with no husband or children to mourn her passing? It was my day off; the funeral was just across the valley in Herriman so I decided to go.
     It was a very nice service. Her only sister got very emotional as she spoke of her deceased sister's selfless acts of service, despite her health problems. She identified five things that served as examples for how we should all live and which her sister never failed in emulating: Friendship, Service, Hard Work, Forgiveness and I forget the last one (five thousand pens cluttering up my desk at home but not a single one in my purse) but all gave me pause to reflect and consider my own life.

     Her five brothers also took part in the service and also got very emotional as they spoke of how proud they were of their sister who always put the cancer patients she cared for first as well as being a favorite aunt to her nieces and nephews. Her father spoke and anyone could tell just by looking at him that he was a good man who had raised his children well, loved their mother very much and was a good provider for his family.
     There was no graveside dedication as this young woman had requested her body be donated to science at the University of Utah. I couldn't help but be impressed at both the courage of the deceased in donating her body to science and in the way the family was handling her last wishs with such grace. In the midst of such melancholy circumstances they managed to find dignity and closure by pulling together. What a lucky young woman to have been born into such a family.

     As the years have passed with no opportunity to meet anyone, I've given a lot of thought to what my own funeral will be like and how my own family will handle it.When I was taking anatomy at the University of Utah, I'd often cheer myself up with the thought that if I didn't make it through this grueling course alive, I'd want my own body donated to the anatomy lab with a little note tied to my big toe, "A C+ in Mark Nielsen's class can really kill you".

      I could never do that to my own family-request my body be donated to science. Even though I was already dead, Mom would kill me for denying her the opportunity to weep and wail over an open grave. When it's my time to go, I don't want anyone to be sad for I know certain things to be true and I'd want to reassure my family that I'll be going to a better place where I'll be welcomed with open arms. Who knows, maybe there's already someone waiting for me there on the other side. I even got bored one night a few months ago and wrote my own obituary. That's the curse/blessing of being single-lots of personal time.
    I'm not afraid to die. After the hell of this life, honestly, how bad can it be?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Declaring Spinsterhood

   I just finished re-reading that last entry, "A Single Woman's Liberation" and feel a need to explain myself because, wow, I was really ranting there. I'm not always like that. Living alone can really drive me nuts sometimes and I start focusing too much on being alone. In my heart, I think God understands, after all the lightening hasn't struck me yet when I sometimes curse His name and rant and rave about my lot in life. I'm like a child throwing a tantrum and after the storm has passed I'm always in awe at God's extended hand of friendship. It's OK. He understands. I'll try again tomorrow.

   Let me just take a paragraph or two to redeem myself as I made it sound like I was about to march into my Bishop's office and demand the removal of my name from the records of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that is such an important part of my life. I could never denounce what I believe in. One of the things I absolutely love about the Mormon faith is how unique it is from all other religions on Earth. As an avid reader I've read, studied and taken religion classes in all the books in the Mormon cannon we call scripture: Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. Frustrating as it is searching for just one female character in scripture I can relate to, nevertheless, I could never deny the truthfulness of what's contained in each of those four books. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon serve as guidelines for all who wish to live a life of happiness and joy, even if I often feel like I'm exluded from a good deal of that happiness. Luckily, Calvin brings me great joy.

    Likewise, as someone who spent eighteen months teaching and testifying about Joseph Smith, I could never deny to anyone who asks me that he was indeed visited by heavenly beings and called by God to restore His church. Yes, it does sound fantastic and even absurd, a fourteen year-old boy visited by God the Father and Jesus and testifying to the world that they appeared to him as two seperate, glorified, personages, thus shooting down the entire Nicene Creed, but for Mormons, this is a very important part of what our religion is based on.
   Jesus Christ in the year 30 BC began organizing His church with the Apostle Peter taking over leadership after the Crucifixion and Ascension. When Peter was killed along with the other twelve, many truths were lost and needed to be restored. Who better to delcare it than the resurrected Lord Himself? Thus, Joseph Smith is our man and the Book of Mormon is the nuclear bomb clearing up any doubt over just who this Jesus of Nazereth was and why His life was so important. I'd really like to see the talented folks on Broadway sing and dance about THAT!

     My great great grandmother joined the church in England around the time of the Civil War in America. She immigrated to Utah, had a daughter who begat my Grandmother who begat my Mom. My biological father, Ray Llewellyn, joined the church as a teenager in the 1960's along with his Mother, Stepfather, and Sister. He and Mom met at a church activity and married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1973. He's excommunicated now and all three of his parents died before I knew them but the roots of my religion run deep and it just goes to show it doesn't matter what background you come from, Mormons are regular, normal folks with problems and challenges just like the rest of the world.

   So, being an avid reader, I just finished this book I came across while browsing at the library called "Declaring Spinsterhood" which turned out to be the story of a thirty year old single woman from Texas who lived the kind of life us old maids can only dream about. For starters, she had not one but TWO nice young men (meaning they weren't perverts, video game addicts still living at home or divorced deadbeats) falling all over themselves to win her affections and walk her down the aisle. Meanwhile, Mom and Pastor Dad continue to set her up with MORE nice young men, like, every other day. Where were they finding them? When did Texas suddenly become an Old Maid's Paradise? Nobody slept around and no one ever drank anything stronger than coffee. This book came so close to an LDS romance it was freaky. I didn't like it. Why?
   Um, if I had that many dates a week, I'd be mommy blogging right now. This young woman had no business declaring spinsterhood.
    So, I went to Goodreads, a great site for booklovers like me and left a review. I urge anyone reading this to go check it out. And please read my reviews because just this morning a good friend of mine sent me a text. She'd read my review, had a good laugh and told me I write the funniest reviews. Wow, a fan. Thanks!

    I also have good news to report. My four year old nephew is NOT the closest person I have to a having a man in my life! For the last year a casual acquaintance of mine at work has been dropping hints that he'd like to take me out on a date sometime. I'm flattered and I'd totally accept, he's really fun to be around, but, he's 50 years old and with his long hair, tattoo covered arms and questionable membership in the Mormon faith, he's not exactly the kind of guy you bring home to meet the folks.
    Nevertheless, in the last year he's become a good friend. If this relationship goes to the next level I promise I'll report it but for now it's strictly friendship as no dating outside the workplace is the wisest course. We share a love of Seinfeld and music. He makes everyone in our workplace laugh. It's not unusual to find him playing air guitar along to the oldies staion or crooning into a stalk of celery. One morning in February he came up behind me as I was chopping veggies for the cafeteria salad bar and planted a gentle kiss near my elbow wishing me a quiet, "Happy Valentine's Day". I'll admit it, I blushed, because a kiss is a kiss no matter where it lands!

   Then, just last week, he presented me with a U2 T-shirt he'd found at Wal-Mart. Only those who know me best understand just how much a gift like that means to me. That's the nicest thing any man has ever given me in my entire 36 years of life. He doesn't know this of course because, after all,

    A femme fatale doesn't have to tell her causual male aquantaince everything!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Single Woman's Liberation

     I apologize in advance to any non-Mormon readers as this entry contains several Mormon culture references which I'll try and explain as I go along. I'm in one of my moods tonight and I need to vent. Thank you for your patience.
    In 2008, Kristen M. Oaks published A Single Voice, an entire book dedicated to faith and importance of our membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and not necessarily to being single. What a shame, I feel more books need to be written for us single Mormon women on how to deal with loneliness. It seems we've been banned to a life denied the blessings of temple marriage, having a worthy priesthood holder nearby, and devoid of children-for reasons God only knows.

    I'm not excluding other women out there. My rant includes anyone suffering from this loneliness disease. You can be in a lonely marriage (or lonely relationship since cohabitation is the new marriage) or feel isolated while living at home with parents or siblings who don't communicate or whatever and still feel the pain. How do you deal with it, how do you manage it? Sure, you can go see a psychiatrist, but prescription medications are a poor substitute for a relationship with a real human being. It can be really frustrating sometimes, no matter what your religion or lifestyle. I should probably include gay people in my list, not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's a delicate subject for another blog.
    Most single Mormons (female especially) attend sabbath day meetings, take the sacrament (communion-partaking of the symbolic flesh and blood of Christ) and serve in callings just like married ones. Callings are part of your service in the Mormon church as we have no paid clergy, everyone volunteers to teach Sunday School and other jobs which are determined by a Bishop.

    Yet underneath it all is a subtle reminder to those of us who don't quite fit in-yet oftimes a secret something whispered, "You're a stranger here". How to deal with that? Remember in school there was the "dumb group" that everyone else patronized, including the teachers? Who didn't do as well academically or socially just because of the label they'd been given? Everyone else breathed a sigh of relief that they were "normal". There was always that unspoken rule that you'd never be caught dead being friends with "those kids". That's how I feel sometimes.

 Anyone who's phased out of their local singles ward into a family ward knows exactly what I'm talking about. (In the Mormon chruch, every city, down to the most obscure village in every country in the world has been divided into wards and branches which all members attend-those married or divorced with kids attend family wards, those 30 and under who haven't had the opportinity yet are encouraged to attend singles wards in hopes you might meet someone to marry and procreate with. If you reach age thirty without having reached this rite of passage you are condemned to observing from the sidelines of a family ward.) For a woman this is especially frustrating as our only important self-identifying  title in the Mormon church is Mother which I'm not belittling, on the contrary, I want it and I want it NOW!
    Years ago I gave up trying to follow the advice in books like Sister Oaks and there are times I want to scream "F-you!" to our beloved well-meaning leaders who continue to send these mixed messages to Mormon single adults. Us single women are expected to be chaste and virtuous yet these are not attractive qualities to single Mormon males who say they're waiting for us to make the first move and dress and act more provocatively to show we're interested in them while they don't have to do anything. When was the last time you saw a scantily dressed woman without a date? Yeah, I thought so. When was the last time my modest dress and manner landed me a date? I'm 36 and I'm still waiting!
   Take those articles in the Ensign (a Mormon church magazie) that don't even mention dating or courtship among single members. Instead it pushes us female single members to take the initiative, get out there, make an effort, ask your Bishop to give you a calling and all that crap. Reminded me too much of those dating articles in the New Era (the one for Mormon teens) where the young men whine, "Why can't the girls ask US out on dates? Why are WE always expected to take the traditional route, what if they reject us?" Hey, guys, I'm 36, I can tell you a few things about rejection. This wasn't my choice and I'm sick of being told that as a single woman in the church, I'm the one with the problem. 
    In full rebellion, I let my temple recommend expire (it's OK, Mom, I 'm not sleeping with anyone, I still know the church is true, I'm just so TIRED of it all! Why go when I have no one to share the experience with?) I'm still waiting for the lightning to strike. I haven't had a calling in years and I don't plan on asking my current bishop for one either. He seems relieved. He doesn't bother me and I don't bother him. I don't do visiting teaching and I have no idea who mine are but you know what? That's OK, I don't mind, because it's just as uncomfortable for me hearing a message about strengthening marriage, family and home as it is for the sweet Molly Mormon sisters condescending upon the "dumb" single, never married woman who lives alone in her one bedroom apartment. I only attend sacrament meeting (Mormon worship service with talks and sermons presented by fellow members-lay clergy) when I feel like it and suffer no guilt over missing my Relief Society meetings (A Mormon Sabbath meeting is divided into three: men and women meet seperate with children and teens also meeting seperate, Sunday School for adults and kids, everyone attends worship service together).

    So I had this epiphany: if those young men floating adrift in the world can slack off in settling down, getting a college degree and a job and mooch off Mom and Dad or their current girlfriend for the rest of their Peter Pan lives, well, why can't I do the same by slacking off in my own religious duties? If attending church surrounded by eternal families while denied my own is so painful for me, why not skip a Sunday or two? It's not like anyone will miss me. It's not like I have any children or a partner to be setting a good example for.
     I will continue to blog about this subject until something earth shattering occurs one of these days in my life giving me a change of heart. In the meantime, Mom wants me to attend the BYU Education Week next month in August. So, I went online for more information about how much a one day pass costs and what kinds of classes I might be interested in attending. What I found only proves my point-are you divorced? They have a class (several actually) for that! Are you the parents of rebellious teenagers, older single adults, have a blended family, or worried about raising righteous children? Yep, they have classes for that too! Are you infertile and can't have kids? There's a class for that. Want to strengthen your marriage? There's a class for that, too.

   On the other hand, want tips on how to survive a Telestial world as a single adult without drowning in the depths of despair and lonliness? Sorry, BYU Education Week does NOT have a class for that. Cost of ticket for one day, $64. Guess what the co-payment for my last filling at the dentist cost me, $64. Sorry, Mom, I think I'd prefer getting my teeth drilled than spending an entire day attending classes and workshops I can't relate to.

    Ah, the joy of a single women's liberation!