Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Pursuit of Self

I've had this piece sitting in draft form for over two months now. And after tinkering with it for ages, I figured that this weekend, the 45-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, was a perfect time to finally post it. 

I found Grayson Moore online. After four semesters of assigning my students a profile paper, I realized that I’d never written one myself. Which was totally unfair. So I decided to join them. I logged on to the Facebook group “Mormons Building Bridges” and asked if there were any transgender members who’d be willing to be interviewed. Grayson Moore was one of the first to comment.

Grayson was born assigned female at birth, the second child of three. He was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and continues to be active in the Church to this day. He says that his whole life he “felt more like a guy than a girl” but it took him until he was 17 to transition--to begin identifying and presenting as male. He’s been living what he calls his “eternal gender” for almost three years.

On the outside, Grayson seems like your average Utahan young adult male--he’s studying math at the University of Utah, works part-time at a call center, and has a steady girlfriend. But his journey to becoming “Grayson” was anything but average.

“As a kid I had never really heard of the concept of being transgender, so it was difficult to acknowledge those feelings when I didn't have words to describe them,” Grayson says. As he grew older, he began cultivating a more masculine appearance and didn’t correct people when they called him “young man” or “sir.” But it was his mom who actually introduced him to the concept of being transgender. He began having crushes on girls in high school, and when he finally told his mom about it, she told him that there was a whole community of people who feel that their gender and their bodies don’t match, and asked him if that was how he felt. “It was a huge relief to have words for the things I'd been experiencing, and to know that there were other people out there like me,” he says.

The entire concept of transgenderism has existed in multiple cultures throughout recorded history, but it’s still so little understood that public conversation about it is still fairly recent, especially in Western culture. Many trans men and women live "in the closet," and Grayson considers himself lucky to have such a strong support system, especially among his family. “They've been there for me every step of the way,” Grayson says. “I don't know if I could have done this without them.”

Just to give our readers a little context, here’s a little “Transgender 101.” Everyone is born with sex characteristics. For most people, these line up in the binaries of male and female. If someone has XY chromosomes and a penis/testicles, they're assigned male at birth. If they have XX chromosomes and a vagina, they're assigned female at birth. But gender is a little more complicated. Gender isn't in the chromosomes, or in our sex traits--it's in the brain. For most people, their gender identity aligns along the same binary lines as their sex characteristics. Most people with penises and XY chromosomes identify as male, and most people with XX chromosomes and vaginas identify as female.

"Transgender" is the word we use to describe people whose gender identity is the binary opposite of their sex characteristics. It’s not to be confused with being homosexual, or being a “drag queen” or dressing like a man or woman for certain societal privileges. The condition of "gender dysphoria"--the sense that one's body doesn't match one's gender--is considered a clinical disorder by the psychological and medical community. This is kind of complicated...on the one hand, there's a bit of a stigma attached, but on the other hand, this means that many insurance companies will cover hormones and/or surgeries. Still a little uncertain? Grayson explained it in an apt analogy:

"Have you ever gotten carsick? Carsickness, like many other forms of motion sickness, occurs when your inner ears and your eyes disagree about whether you're moving. Gender dysphoria is like that. Awful, nauseating, headache-inducing wrongness from the disagreement of your mind and body. And you feel it every time you wear the wrong clothes, or are called by the wrong pronoun, or hear your own voice, or someone looks at you and sees something you aren't; every time you look in the mirror, every time you think about yourself it's like a knife in the gut because it's wrong wrong wrong it's not you but it won't go away and it won't stop and it hurts, it hurts like nothing you can imagine and nothing I can describe. It's so bad that I would literally rather die than feel like that again, even for a day."

It’s true that gender dysphoria is closely associated with depression and anxiety, and in many cases, even suicide. It's not quite that gender dysphoria itself causes depression--it's that we live in a world that doesn't give us tools to talk about gender identity, and a world that isn't always welcoming to anything it's not used to. (Things are getting better, though!) Years ago a friend and I were discussing the concept of gender dysphoria, and because it’s something I’ve never experienced, I told her that I had a hard time imagining what it’s like. I’ve always felt I was a woman, and I have a "woman's body." With great wisdom, this friend said she couldn’t imagine it either until one day she thought, “Imagine the shame and confusion and pain you would feel if you woke up one day and had a penis.” It sounds so outlandish, but it helped me gain a little perspective. It would be almost impossible to explain that experience to others, especially if I had no words for it. For me personally, I know I’m a woman, but that knowledge doesn’t come from what my body looks like. Think about it--most of us didn’t realize we were a boy or a girl (or both or neither) because we were told we were. It was something we always knew. As Grayson himself says, “Our sense of gender is something that most people take for granted, but it's very deeply written into the mind.”

(For a short but brilliant and more detailed explanation of gender, biological sex, and orientation, check out this video from vlogbrother Hank Green.)

Gender dysphoria affects a little under 1% of the population, and research indicates that the experience is mostly genetic. There are some rare cases in which abuse and trauma can result in a gender identity disorder, but for the most part, it’s a purely biological condition. (Perhaps the difference can be explained in that trauma can cause someone to hate their body as it is, while gender dysphoria is more about longing for a different body.) Currently, "transition" (or making changes to align your body and your gender identity) is the best and most effective treatment for gender dysphoria, whether that means social transition, legal transition, medical transition, or some combination of the above.

Grayson was gracious and understanding enough to answer my intrusive questions about his transition. He's fully transitioned socially, and has had his name legally changed. His legal gender change is still in the works. He’s been taking testosterone hormones for several years, and has had top surgery to remove his breasts. As for bottom surgery? At this point, female-to-male genital reassignment is pretty expensive, and not terribly effective, so many tend to skip it, Grayson included. Grayson also kindly reminded me that, “Most people would rather not discuss the contents of their pants with strangers, so it's not usually polite to ask about that sort of thing.” Journalism and education are some rare exceptions, but in general, it's best practice to leave the details about other people's bodies to them.

As a member of a small and often misunderstood community, Grayson is unique. But here’s what makes him even more unique: his continued membership in the LDS church. Wait, you may be thinking. He’s MORMON? As in, that church that takes a ridiculously strong stance on gay marriage and gender and families? That’s the one. It’s true that the LDS Church doesn’t have the greatest reputation in LGBT communities, and those who don’t fit the “cookie cutter conservative” image of Mormonism can sometimes struggle to find a place. So how does Grayson reconcile his faith with his understanding of gender?

“The Proclamation to the World talks about how gender is an eternal characteristic of identity and purpose, and I certainly believe that,” Grayson says. “I know that my spirit was male in the [premortal life], and is male now, and that in the resurrection I will have a male body to match my spirit. There are all kinds of problems and deformities in people's mortal bodies, and sex determination is no exception.” When Grayson and his mom had that conversation about being transgender all those years ago, Grayson did what he’d always been taught to do: he prayed about it. “I had one of the most vivid and profound spiritual experiences of my life; the Lord told me ‘You're a boy, and it's going to be okay.’” Scripture study and prayer (and other “Sunday school answers”) have also been big parts of Grayson’s continued testimony. So has transitioning, he says. “I used to kinda take the Church for granted. Having the risk that it could all be taken away from me made me realize how much the gospel means to me.”

Having it all taken away? “Life as an active Mormon LGBTQ person involves what some of us call ‘Bishop Roulette,’ which is that every time you have to move to a new ward you can never be sure how accepting your new leadership is going to be,” Grayson explains. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is run entirely by “lay-leadership”--everything is done on a volunteer basis, with no formal training. Which also means that some leaders are better equipped to deal with LGBTQ issues than others. “There's a lot of variation between wards in how LGBTQ members are treated, and if you end up with a homophobic and/or transphobic bishop you can have a lot of problems,” Grayson explains. “I've gotten lucky so far, but if I ended up in a ward with a transphobic bishop I could lose my temple recommend, or maybe even be excommunicated, and there would be very little I could do about it.” does Grayson’s relationship with his girlfriend factor in? The Church’s stance on homosexual activity is clear no matter who your bishop is. But one thing Grayson and his girlfriend have in common is being transgender--Brianna was assigned male at birth, but has transitioned to living her life female. “It is kind of convenient as it pertains to the church that we're both trans, because our relationship is heterosexual either way you look at it, so there's no risk of leaders having a problem with it,” Grayson says. I can’t help but smile at this, since Grayson and Brianna seem to be a great couple. They met in a choir over a year ago, and have been together ever since.

Brianna says that the first thing she noticed about Grayson was his voice. “There are lots of cute boys in the world, but few that can sing like him,” she says. She also says she admires his sense of integrity. “He doesn’t let opposition stop him from doing what he loves,” she says, “And he doesn’t let a church’s less than favorable stance on transgender people keep him from attending. That’s really powerful to me.”

As for what drew Grayson to Brianna? “She's a really good person,” he says, “And we're very compatible personality-wise. And we share a lot of the same interests, and she's a music major, and she's beautiful and tall and she doesn't think I'm a complete derp and she likes my cooking so basically we're soulmates.” (Are you grinning as big as I was when I heard this?) While Grayson says his girlfriend is a really good person, it’s clear that this is one thing that she and Grayson have in common. He is outspoken and passionate about educating others. He says the most important thing the rest of the world can do to help the transgender community is to “just be compassionate and listen to us.”

It strikes me as an act of tremendous courage to come out as transgender, especially within the Church. But Grayson wisely observed that coming out is about more than just courage. “Sometimes people talk about how ‘brave’ it is to transition, but it's not about bravery, really. I didn't transition because I was brave, I transitioned because spending my life pretending to be someone I'm not was killing me, and I don't want to die.”

Today, Grayson has chosen to speak out on behalf of the transgender community, and hopes that others can find the peace he has by transitioning. As for those who may be still in the closet, Grayson encourages them to be honest with those around them, and to transition as quickly and safely as possible. “Gender dysphoria often results in feelings of anxiety, depression, and self-loathing which are extremely corrosive to the soul. Gender dysphoria kills, and you dang well deserve to live.”

And this is the truth that Grayson is sharing with everyone around him. That we all, regardless of gender, sex, or orientation, dang well deserve to live.

If you or someone you know is experiencing gender dysphoria and would like support or more information, call the GLBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564. All calls are free and confidential. You can also visit their website here.

Latter-day Saints wishing to receive guidance and support on the transgender experience are also encouraged to join the open Facebook group Mormons Building Bridges. Allies and family members may also find helpful resources there as well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Netflix University

I haven't updated this list for months and months, so I've got a LOT of recommendations/reviews for you! Happy learning!

Titanic's Final Mystery
I've already watched and recommended Titanic's Achilles Heel, which focuses on how exactly the Titanic sunk (which was NOT how Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio would have you believe). But this documentary focuses on why the heck Titanic's lookouts could have FAILED to notice a gigantic iceberg until they were 30 seconds away from it. It also debunks some of the myths surrounding the Titanic--whether or not the captain was drunk, whether or not a nearby ship even knew what was going on. The sinking of the Titanic really was a freak accident, in so many ways. So many elements came together to create a disaster.

Pope Joan
Not quite long enough to go as in depth as I would have liked, but a nice little intro to the story. (Granted., there's not a whole lot to the story--resources are limited.) Legend has it that a woman made her way to the papacy in the Middle Ages, and wasn't found out until she collapsed during a procession. BECAUSE SHE WAS GIVING BIRTH.

Beyond Survival With Les Stroud (series)
This was one of those things that I enjoyed at the time, but it ended up having a much more profound effect on me as time went on. When you live in the first world, it gets easy to complain, or to have high standards for your living conditions. It sounds cheesy, but you take your four walls and roof for granted, especially if it's not painted perfectly, or is old, or isn't decorated well. But you freaking have WALLS. And there are THOUSANDS of people, around the world RIGHT NOW, who don't have that. And while this means danger and pain for some, there are lots that are just fine. That are okay. For whom that's normal. They are still able to make their lives good. That was a good lesson for me. When I want a new...well, ANYTHING, thinking of my life in comparison to others around the world helps me remember that what I have is JUST FINE.

Escape to Chimp Eden (series)
I actually didn't finish this series, and I watch it, oh...two years ago? But I've never posted about it. It's painful at times, but important, and also enjoyable at other times. I got sucked into the drama of it all. It's about a man who runs a chimp sanctuary. Most of the chimpanzees he works with have been taken out of really abusive situations--the entertainment industry, where they were forced to drink/smoke, or from private homes, where people got an exotic pet that they eventually couldn't handle. The most striking thing from this television series that I learned is that chimpanzees can develop the same psychological and physiological disorders that people can--from OCD to alcoholism to schizophrenia to PTSD. That knowledge has deepened my feelings that for the most part, people should let nature be.

Into the Pride (series)
Pretty interesting series. A wildlife reserve in Namibia gets a pride of 16 lions, but the lions are so aggressive that they'll either have to be "rehabilitated" or put down. Big cat trainer Dave Salmoni spends six months trying to help the pride balance their natural "wild side" with being calm enough to deal with inevitable human interaction. It was a fascinating look at lion "culture" (as in, the rules and norms of life as a lion), and of all of the issues facing wildlife in Africa right now. And the series has everything you could wish for in a wildlife documentary: thrilling suspense, cute baby animals, family dynamics, etc.

Nazi Temple of Doom
This is a "laundry documentary." My friend Carrie has what she calls "laundry movies"...something interesting enough to occupy you, but not so fascinating that you have to give it your full attention. It's a "multi-tasking movie," or something that you could fold laundry to. There was a decent bit of Nazi occult, German politics got WEIRD during that whole WWII era. An interesting, short watch to put on while you're cleaning the house or making dinner or doing a craft or something.

The Elephant in the Living Room
I've been really interested lately in the world of exotic pet ownership...somehow, it's just come up fairly often in the last few months, whether on Netflix or National Geographic. It's a bizarrely unregulated world--there are no national laws about exotic pet ownership, and laws vary from state to state. 9 states don't require any kind of permit, and 2 states have no laws at all. It's estimated that there are as many as 20 million exotic pets in the United States--there are more Bengal tigers living in Texas than there are in the wild in India. This documentary follows several exotic pet owners, and does some investigation into the world of the exotic pet trade. There are times when it's emotionally difficult to watch. There was one scene towards the end with a man who owned lions that tore me up for days afterwards. If you are an animal lover, this will probably be a difficult documentary to watch. But it feels like an important one.

One Lucky Elephant
Another one with a theme of wild pet ownership, this documentary follows the story of an elephant raised in a circus, and her owner's decision to find her a new home. He'd known her for so long, having raised her since babyhood, and that makes parting ways a difficult and complicated choice. There's also an uncomfortable reality that animals, especially elephants, are much more emotionally developed creatures than we've given them credit for in the past--rehabilitating an elephant who's grown up in the circus reveals some illuminating truths about what captivity does to undomesticated species. 

Fame High
A pretty interesting look at the whole "I'm a teenager and I'm going to be famous" world, and the "show-parents"/supportive parents that raise them. That's a pretty generalized summary, but to be honest, I don't think about this documentary very often. I watched it months ago, and found it enlightening at the time, but it didn't quite grab me the way other documentaries do. Perhaps consider it a "laundry documentary."

Surviving Katrina
In August of 2005, I was living with dear friends, working a fun job at Walmart, and getting ready for another semester of school to begin. I remember that the night Hurricane Katrina hit, Annie and I were over at Tim and Rosa's house, and Rosa was dying my hair. We had the television on, and the news kept giving updates, but we weren't really paying too much attention. This was one of those things that somehow didn't seem part of my world at the time...I was a little too young and selfish to connect with what happened. But I'm guilty of the same thing so many were--abandoning those I didn't feel connected to. There were so many factors that made this disaster so bad. There was a lack of infrastructure to deal with floodwaters that high, there wasn't enough communication, there were no supplies being sent in, and people were not getting the help they needed. There was one awful story about a doctor who kept requesting ambulances and medical assistance. And for almost a week, nothing came. Finally, he discovered that there was a line of ambulances waiting miles away, and they had been waiting for three days, and when he asked them what they were doing, they replied "We're waiting for patients." No one understood how bad things were, and what was needed. And towards the end, it was so hopeless that the streets became dangerous not because of floodwaters, but because of gunshots. I heard some horrible ideas during Hurricane Katrina, about New Orleans being a "sinful city" that "deserved destruction." I've heard people say that the descent into lawlessness that happened is proof of the depravity of the city. But I would say that what the history of Katrina illustrates far more clearly is that human beings will become how you treat them. If you abandon and dismiss an entire city's people, you cannot expect them to react submissively and calmly. Human beings are far more spirited, and I think their anger and upset was justified. It still is.

Sound City
Amazon Prime
Jacob and I want to be friends with Dave Grohl. So bad. And we love rock music. This is such an inspiring documentary--I hardly ever write music nowadays, but I picked up the guitar before I had even finished watching. I just had this incredible urge to CREATE. The story of the documentary is...well, here's the official blurb: "the film was conceived by Grohl after purchasing the legendary custom-built Neve 8028 recording console from Sound City Studios last year. The board, built in 1972, is considered by many to be the crown jewel of analog recording equipment, having recorded such artists as Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Guns and Roses, Metallica, NIN, Rage Against The Machine and countless other musical legends over the past 40 years." It started as the story of the sound board, but became much bigger. So awesome.

Chasing Beauty
An honest and interesting look at the labyrinth of the modeling industry. Contrary to popular belief, modeling is much MUCH more than being "pretty" have to look INTERESTING. And furthermore, you have to be able to open up on camera and be photogenic. And be personable and friendly. I have a few friends who model professionally, and it's a lot of work. Fun work, but WORK. This documentary follows several people at different stages of modeling careers, and does interviews with industry professionals.

The Antics Roadshow
All right, warning. This documentary is made by British graffiti artist Banksy, and as such, it's somewhat rude and rather irreverent. It will very likely offend you if you consider yourself a more conservative type. But if you're willing to look past all that, it's a fun summary of the people who have made shocking artistic projects, streaked publicly, snuck into Buckingham Palace, and generally created chaos and counterculture. Which is fun.

The Pixar Story
When you learn the history of Pixar, it's really a miracle that any of it got off the ground at all. But their success has come from the fact that every single person who works there LOVES what they're doing. They care about stories, they're honest with each other, and they work their BUTTS off. John Lasseter spent his entire life wanting to work as an animator, and his passion for the art form is what drove him to create such amazing stories. There's some awesome footage and awesome interviews, and it's all incredibly inspiring to any creative person ever.

The Woman Who Wasn't There
This one kept popping up on my "recommended" list on Netflix, and I finally watched it. It's about a woman who basically conned the world into believing that she was in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. And she wasn't. It's a powerful story of deceit, and how and why people do these things, and how it affects those around them.

Becoming Chaz
This is a great and very personal look into the transgender experience. I've been trying to learn more about the transgender community during the last few years, and learning about Chaz Bono's transition from female to male helped me gain a lot of perspective. His transition was so public, and happened at a time when the entire concept of being transgender was still so incredibly understood...I'm really glad he chose to share his story. I think the world has a looooong way to go before gender dysphoria and transgenderism is seen with complete understanding, but stories like this help bring that day a little bit closer.

It seems like a lot of people are dismissive of asexuality--there's this attitude that it "doesn't exist." It's true that it's not a very common sexual orientation, partly because sexuality traits seem to be genetic, and asexual people tend to not reproduce as often. But it's a completely legitimate sexual orientation, and this documentary does a great job of shedding some light on it, highlighting a handful of individuals who experience it.

Dark Girls
This fascinating documentary goes beyond the concepts of "racism" to discuss "colorism"--attitudes about people based on their relative darkness or lightness. Colorism exists within the black community and outside of it. One of the most powerful ideas in the documentary is a point that an educator made. She pointed out that slavery existed in the United States before the United States even people were treated as animals in the 1600's. Then there was Emancipation without a plan. Slavery ended in 1863, but there was nothing in place to transition society into a non-slavery world. Freed slaves suddenly found themselves facing the same prejudice they had as slaves, except now they had to navigate housing, food, and work on their own as well. The Civil Rights Act was so recent that anyone over the age of 50 today lived during a time when black people had no rights or protections under the law. So in over 400 years of North American history, black people have only been given the right to VOTE, have only been treated legally as PEOPLE for 50 years. And you don't overcome 350 years of psychological damage, of racial "training," in one generation.

Unhung Hero
When Patrick Moote's girlfriend rejected his very public proposal, one of the reasons she gave for not wanting to marry him was that his penis was too small. So Patrick sets out on a journey to answer the question "Does size matter?" He travels the world in search of enlightenment and enlargement, and interviews a lot of people along the way. We as a society often point to the pressure that women feel to meet some sort of ideal body standard, but men have similar pressures, and in our oversexualized society, we should talk about how ridiculous those pressures are. (Warning: You probably already guessed this, but there is some nudity and discussion of sexuality. There is also a point when Patrick attends a pornography expo in search of answers.)

Indie Game
So beautiful. It actually made me cry. I'm so inspired by people who do what they love...who pursue their passions, no matter what. The video game industry often gets this false reputation--that video games are time-wasting activities played by only young children, or by the psychologically disturbed and violent, or by 35-year-old losers who live in their mom's basements. But it's so false. Video games have grown into a powerful art form that's often LITERARY and symbolic and meaningful. and that's especially true of games that are independently produced. This documentary celebrates that world, and follows the creation of two games: Super Meat Boy and Fez. It's an emotional journey, and whether you care about video games or not, if you're not inspired by this, you're probably a robot.

The Science of Babies
A good "laundry documentary." Babies are fascinating and bizarre creatures, and this is a cool look at some of the understanding we've gained about how their brains work, how and why their bodies develop the way they do, and the evolution behind it all. It's also occasionally super-stressful, because several times throughout the program, they explain some aspect of babyhood, and then say, "But there are times when it can all go WRONG" and then do some case study. Spoiler alert: everyone always ends up okay, but it's stressful to watch.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Give oh give away

So, my first blog giveaway was kind of a fail. Well, no. It was a fail (not kind of). Because no one entered it. But I've decided that's okay. Because between the GoFundMe campaign and the ticket sales of the Rexburg shows this weekend and the last minute raffle we did and other donations/subsidies, Bielzy and Gottfried has raised close to $7000 for the New York trip. When compared to the total cost of the trip (over $1000 per person, and there are about 20 people going), it's not a huge amount. But considering it's all due to the generosity and support of others, it's an ENORMOUS sum. And we are all so grateful for it.

I'm going to leave the donate button up for a few more weeks, in case anyone would like to contribute. I thought about re-opening the giveaway to give it another shot, but to be honest, I don't think I've got the time or energy to do it. There are a ton of awesome rewards when you donate to the GoFundMe campaign, though, so donating won't be completely prize-less.

I think in another time and place, I could have been really upset about this failure of a giveaway. But I've spent the last two days surrounded by people who love and support the arts, and I've witnessed more generosity than I could ever have dreamed. And that makes anything that happened (or didn't happen) on the blog this week totally okay.

As fallible and foolish as we are, humanity is capable of beautiful things. And that's what's on my mind today.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"So many of us choose our paths out of fear disguised as practicality."

August 2014:

In order to:
1. Pursue theatre and maybe a little film among the many theaters and actors and producers and directors we have connections with in the Utah Valley area.
2. Build our resumes in more professional theatre settings before setting off on adventures elsewhere.


Jacob and I's collective passions are theatre, writing, comedy, and education. We're pretty sure that we will never make more than $60,000 in any given year of our life together, TOPS. But we're totally okay with's more than enough to meet our needs. In American culture, pursuing career paths in theatre or writing seems illogical or frowned upon. But why would we pursue something we don't want to do, for money that we don't need? We'd rather be poor and happy than rich and hating our jobs.

We've been sitting on this knowledge for a while--our decision to move to Utah, I mean. I've been reluctant to stay in the Rocky Mountain area, but this move both makes sense and feels right. The fact that we've known for a while has also given me ample time to think about all the things we have to look forward to:

1. Theatre/film opportunities! This is the main reason we're heading down there--there are so many more options and opportunities available, and we're excited to explore them all.

2. Restaurants. So many. So good. My eating out habit is about to get worse. And better. (Jacob, DO YOU REALIZE WE'LL HAVE ACCESS TO IN-AND-OUT BURGER ALL THE TIME?!)

3. The airport. It's RIGHT THERE. I don't have to look for more expensive flights from Idaho Falls or worry about taking the shuttle.

4. Public transportation! Buses! Trains! Yay for options and greener living!

5. IKEA. When decoration is needed, it shall be done both inexpensively and well.

6. H and M. Not that we really NEED more clothes, but if and when we do, they shall be well-fitting, inexpensive, and good-looking.

7. Concerts! A good handful of bands make their way to Salt Lake City, and we shall watch them play shows. There's also much more of a music scene in the area than there is in Rexburg. Rexburg has a DECENT scene, but not a big one, and people in Rexburg aren't willing to pay for shows, so bands don't always last very long.

8. Friends! We have a handful of close friends and a handful of respected acquaintances and we're excited to spend time with more of them.

9. Family! Grandma and Grandpa Fraughton, let's meet up to talk about holistic medicine and jam in that old church home of yours. And speaking of holistic medicine, Uncle Don and family, how about dinner sometime?

10. Costco. You can bet your bottom shekel that I'll be getting a membership.

11. Community classes. In a big city like Salt Lake, there are plenty of dance studios and arial silks gymnastics classes and fencing workshops and pole dancing lessons and so much more. Hooray for life-long learning!

12. And Trader Joe's! I hadn't even thought of that until my mother-in-law brought it up.

13. Places will be open past midnight!

There are a lot of things we will miss about Rexburg. Family, friends, the university. But we're excited for this next adventure. I kept thinking, while we were brainstorming about our "next step," that it would somehow have to be our final one, or a long-term one. But it doesn't have to be. It makes me feel a bit unsettled, but also gives me an enormous amount of comfort. We don't have to plan everything right now. Just one step at a time. This is one leg of the journey, and who knows where it will take us.

We're still working out the details--where exactly we're living, steady income, specific dates. But whatever those details are, I feel good about where we're heading, and why.

On a related note, a brief reminder:
Wanna help support other big dreams? 
Donate to "Bielzy and Gottfried" and enter the blog giveaway
Deadline is noon (MDT) on Friday, June 20th! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Donation Giveaway!

I've never done one of these blog giveaway things before, so you know it's an important cause now that I AM doing one.

So, Jacob was in a play a few years ago called "Bielzy and Gottfried," written by one of the theatre professors here on campus. He's been asked to reprise his role this July at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City! He's also accompanying the show on the guitar. It's an incredible opportunity for him to make a few connections and build his resume. But as you can imagine, an 11-day trip to New York City doesn't come cheap. So he and the rest of the cast and crew have set up a Go Fund Me campaign. (It's like Kickstarter, except you still get to keep the money if you don't make your goal.) And I am asking you, humble readers, to donate.

But there's something in it for you! We're doing a little giveaway for those who donate $5 or more to the cause. Every $5 you donate gets you one entry in the giveaway. And your prize?

1 Namaste tote bag from Seeker of Happiness ($12)
1 $10 Jamba Juice gift card ($10)
A free signed copy of my poetry book, "The Scent of Water" ($9/priceless)
A personal song of thanks written and recorded by Jacob Chapman (priceless)
2 king size candy bars of your choice ($2)
A signed copy of Midas Whale's album "Sugar House" (priceless/$9)*
One framed art print of a quote of your choice ($10)
A signed copy of the script of "Bielzy and Gottfried" (priceless)

That's like, $50 worth of awesome. Plus all that priceless stuff.
So it's like, an awesome, priceless prize.


So here's how it will work! Go to the GoFundMe campaign page. Donate whatever amount you'd like--every $5 gets you one entry into the giveaway (so, if you donate $20, you get 4 entries). Be sure to include at least your first name, and in the comment section, write "Blog giveaway." Like this: 

Then, one week from today, I shall gather up all the names of those who have donated, and draw one lucky winner. You can enter as many times as you would like! And remember that the more you donate, the better your chances of winning! Aaaaaaand, you will qualify for the rewards on GoFundMe as well. So even if you don't win the giveaway, you'll still get some cool stuff just for participating.


So what are you waiting for? Go donate! 

* For you Midas Whale fans out there, Jon is playing the role of Job in the production of Bielzy and Gottfried! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Revamp! And Odes! And things to look forward to!

Hello everyone! The ole blog got another makeover--I keep thinking I'll be satisfied with THIS revamp, but let's be honest, I'll re-do it again in another six months. That's okay, though. I enjoy it. Buttons with links will be forthcoming, html and I are in a little fight, but we'll work it out.

So, some of you may have heard of this fundraiser thing I've been doing for Jacob. He's in a play that's set to be performed at a festival in New York City in July! Woo hoo! But as you can imagine, 11 days in New York City ain't cheap. So the cast has organized a fundraiser through (link in the sidebar), and on Facebook, I offered to write an ode for anyone who donated during a given 24-hour period, with 1 line per dollar donated. Mad crazy thanks to EVERYONE who has donated so far. And a special thanks to the following folks, in ode form:

Amanda Kelley
Oh New Yorker of fame!
Now mighty mother of three!
Advocate of others whose children are still arriving.
We sing thy praises,
with our Jamberry nails raised high, glinting in the sunlight.

Carrie Chapman
Oh see what she hath done,
that woman of great beauty and smarts.
Her children smile, and it is her doing.
See her now, book in hand, taking in words of beauty!
She types, and the world hearkens unto her wisdom.
Great Carrie--defender of rabbits and babies!
How generations shall rejoice at the sound of her name!
We long to go unto her house, decorated fair,
to sit and talk and laugh.
For we love her, dear Carrie!

Mary Gritis
Oh Mary, returned missionary and theatrical goddess!
She coordinates and actors listen.
Costumes are arranged with such precision.
What joy is hers, as she wanders the halls of the Snow Building,
hearing her friends sing her praises!

Carey Ventura
And what great things hath Carey done!
Tis not easy to be the wife of a soldier.
Mother of three, she stands tall.
Commander of her household,
She shall prevail.
And what performances hath she given.
Hear her voice as she treads the boards!
The audience sits rapt, silent, and awed.
She is a star
in the theatre universe.
But see!
Her talents are not limited
to theatre and song!
See the marvelous works of her hands
A glory of yarn-made goods!
What more can be said?
A heroine of home and hearth,
with great generosity she stands
Queen of all she surveys,
from stage to etsy to home.

Jamey Meteer
Oh writer and speaker of great words!
See her courageous fingers fly over the keyboard.
Hark! She speaks, standing beneath the stage lights!
And in the eyes of her son,
she is a mighty heroine.

Kathleen Thorson
(in limerick form, for old time’s sake)
There once was a girl named Kathleeny
Who certainly wasn’t a meanie
She donated cash
For Jake’s New York bash
And the amount that she’s loved isn’t teeny.

And what's that, you say? You'd like to donate too? Well, right here on this little ole blog, I'm doing a GIVEAWAY for donations! The giveaway will open later this week, so stay tuned!

(Of course, if you WANT, you can just donate now, without entering the giveaway. Link in the sidebar. But hey, who wouldn't want free stuff?)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spring Hibernation

Sorry this blog has lain dormant for a while. Between working 35-ish hours per week at Jamba Juice, teaching, trying to figure out our future, and various visits with loved ones, I've neglected the ole blog-a-roo.

I've also been sort of writer's fatigued/writer's blocked lately. I just don't have much to write about. At least not much that I feel like writing about. I can think of a lot of things to write about, but I don't have the energy. I've got a few drafts that will be published posts in the near future, but in the meantime I just wanted to assure you all that I'm still alive.

And I know we're all so sick of my hair being the subject of so many blog entries, but to continue the theme of Liz-getting-her-hair-to-look-like-famous-people's, look!

Oh how I love Ancient Aliens.