Monday, December 30, 2013

(NO TITLE) or 2013

I didn't post very much in 2013. My blogger is full of half-done, choppy, unpolished drafts which is quite indicative of how my year went. So to flush these thoughts from from my blogger and to do some mental housekeeping, I've created a post for the end of the year comprised of these 'partial posts'. 


January 3, 2013 on Divorce


(no title) 

The effects of divorce are like the ripples from a disturbance in the water. 


February 8, 2013 on Mormonism and Prop 8 


(no title) 

I remember back in '08 or '09, when I was still going to Relief Society on Sundays at the Mormon church, a friend of mine gave a lesson based on a recent talk by a general authority. 

In reality, her lesson was the talk. She spent most of the lesson time (roughly 40 minutes) reading right from it, because, to paraphrase her words, she just couldn't say it any better than than him. 

The gist of the lesson, I believe, was for those of us members who were not in favor of the Prop 8 festivities, which in essence was 'let's not forget who we are'.

Obviously, that was a hard one for me to sit through. 

I remember my friend, the giver of said lesson, was blushing and not looking up at us very much at all as we listened. 

She confessed to me later that she purposefully didn't look at me. 


February 10, 2013 on Ada and Baptism


(no title) 

I'm at church per Ada's request. 

She asked me to be present at her It's Great To Be 8 meeting for kids turning 8 this year and their parents. 

In the Mormon church, you are typically baptized at the age of 8. 

I was. 

My ex husband was. 

My boyfriend was. 

All 3 of my other kids were. 

My brother. My sister. The list goes on. 


June 19, 2013 on Work, Daughters, and Lack of Sleep


(no title)

I can't sleep. 

Having work dreams. Retail dreams. 

I have a new boss. I have the same job, just new boss. I feel like I'm auditioning for him. 

My stomach is in knots. 

Not just because of work, but tonight there was something nagging me, in the back of my mind. Then it surfaced... It was Hana. 

I haven't seen her in 3 days. My daughter. Then I thought about how 'normal' that has become. 

Then I thought about Emma...

Emma needs glasses. 

Emma is in Utah. 

Emma... tall and beautiful and... well, that's about all I can say for sure right now. 

I haven't been eating. 

How can I eat when I have a new boss and daughters floating around in the ether and... oh yeah, I applied for grad school. 


July 17, 2013 on Being Unfriended


(no title)

It happened again. 

Yeah. 

Was a BFF during adolescence. 

S'okay. 

But here's the thing- I haven't been blogging that much lately.  That's usually been the culprit. 

But I HAVE been posting lots on FB about Love, Equality, and Acceptance. 

Too bad she didn't see it that way. 

Well, okay, to be fair, I have no clue why we're not FB friends anymore.  I haven't asked her.  I guess because I don't care enough.  Haven't seen her since I was 15.  


September 7, 2013 on Men


(no title)

On trying to get to know a man for the first time: Men seem so interested until you show them your personal power.  Bless all their little hearts. There is an epidemic of massive insecurity among men.  

On unhappily married men:  Men who don't love their wives still make babies with them. Surprise, surprise, their misery continues. Then, they will usually start looking elsewhere for love...typically while still married. 


September 16, 2013 on Luxuries


(no title)

Right now, I'm sitting on a couch. I love it. I did not have a couch in my apartment till last week. 8 months. No couch. Can I tell you how luxurious I feel at this moment? 

The thing is- couches are a luxury. You don't know this until you go without one for 8 months and realize, 'Huh. A couch is not a necessity. I'm grateful for the half gallon of milk in the fridge and the 1/4 tank of gas in my car.' Necessities. 

I'm grateful for this couch. Thank you Gina and Jerry. 

I'm grateful to have all my kids live with me again. 

I'm grateful for my job. 

My car. 
 
Milk. 


September 16, 2013 (yep, the same day as the last one) on Identity


(no title)

Who am I? 

I thought I was on the fast track to this epiphany. 

I'm lying in my redundant king-sized bed with my 8 year old daughter next to me. 

Before Ada drifted to sleep in a Benadryl-induced slumber, I taught her that no one can ever make you happy- not a boyfriend or husband... At best they can only ADD to your joy. You MUST be happy and content on your own first. 

I married Matt with the hope of finding completeness. That's what I had understood to be the idea due to my upbringing. 

How can two incomplete people make two complete people? I know what you're thinking... 'Well, you're like puzzle pieces, Ashley. That's how.' 

What I found to be truer was we were like 2 half-baked cakes. Two half-baked cakes do not a baked cake make. 


November 3, 2013 on Being a Mom


(no title)

I've never enjoyed motherhood as much as I do now...having been a mother for 15 and a half years. 

Why? 

I was a lost girl when I started out. And the journey of finding myself and my womanhood was exceptionally stunted. I look back on that past life, and I see a girl in her 20's who was narcissistic and depressed. 

I also see little ones. Precious, perfect, angelic, indescribably astounding little human beings that were mine. Who did and said the most wonderful, cute, adorable things. 

But I was in a fog. 

Now half my little ones are teenagers and there's a 3rd one on his way to middle school next year. The fourth still cuddles with me and her stuffed animals. 

Regardless, I'm 38 and starting to figure things out. 


December 28, 2013 on Providing


(no title)

Earlier this year, I was standing in a food line at a local Baptist church. And, of course, I had the thought, Hmmm, if I'd stayed active in the Mormon church, I wouldn't have to stand in a food line... I could just sit across from my Bishop in his office and hand him copies of my bills... 

But whenever I have that thought, I quickly remember my last Bishop rolling his eyes when I asked for rent help for the 3rd or 4th month in a row. And yet, my single-mom friend who lived literally down the street from me, who did not work and got to be a full-time mom, was told by her bishop that he would provide her with anything and everything she needed. 

And there I was working two jobs... 

It was just the rent. I could pay for everything else... The utilities, the internet, food (made too much money for food stamps), endless toiletries, car insurance... You get it. 

Not gonna lie- I had regular lunch dates with a friend I consider a soul mate. $6 lunch specials at our fave Mexican spot in Cedar. Weekly. There were weeks when looking forward to that planned lunch date with her helped me survive. Unequivocally. 

In a way, since that time, I've come full circle. I make twice what I did then, working just as hard as I was before. And gladly, I do not need a bishop or a food line. Guess what else... Through my job, I can now provide health insurance for myself and my children. 

My hero? 

Me. 






Friday, December 13, 2013

The Mormon Church Makes a New Statement About Past Restrictions on its Black Members

http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood

(For the record:  I never believed that God favored white people over people of any sort of color, because I'm not the matron of a plantation home in 1800's Louisiana.) 

So, okay...the church leaders of yore were racist. Okay. Sure. They were human beings. Got it.  

Next, it'll be a statement about women not having the priesthood because of sexism and not really revelation or anything pertinent to your testimony of the 'True Church'.  Then they'll take care of all the issues with the gays. Then...what? Will the church start retracting its claim to revelation on coffee and tea? Could it ever be?! 

This very recent statement on the blacks and the priesthood, or the Mitt Romney-inspired statement on diet coke (caffeinated sodas) that was a few decades too late, or the "Oh, but we DO love the gays, even though we've been disowning them in our family units generation after generation, and don't forget the part about how we don't want them to get married,"...it's all so ...embarrassing. 

Here's a story that shook me up once upon a time: 

I remember hearing about this really great guy I knew who was Mormon. Devout. He'd had an affair. "Was he excommunicated?" I asked. This had been- and still can be, depending on the leader said adulterer has to deal with- the common repercussion to a member who commits adultery. "No. Just disfellowshipped," my friend told me. Being disfellowshipped in the Mormon church means you cannot partake of the sacrament on Sundays, or give a talk, teach a lesson or pray in a church meeting for a certain amount of time, but you still have member status. (I was disfellowshipped a few times in college for too much touchy-time with a boy or two.) 

"Just disfellowshipped?!" I asked incredulously. I relayed this story to other members over the next few days, emphasizing my confusion that this dude wasn't exed. What I learned was that the church was having to ex waaaayyyy too many members for adultery over the years. 

Yeah. They were losing members. 

Which brings me full circle...

Could the church be trying to keep members? 

You might ask "Would that be such a bad thing?" Perhaps not, but these are hot button issues for members- active, semi-active, and inactive members alike. These are issues that have truly tried the faith of many for generations and in that trial of faith, we had to trust with all our zeal that the church's stance was inspired of God or, just simply, look the other way. Otherwise, our testimonies would no doubt be in jeopardy. 

Which is what happened to mine.  If I disagree with the church on homosexuality, what else do I disagree with? I asked myself that question 6 years before I offically considered myself done. 

These defining, sometimes unfortunately so, Mormon dogmas and principles that are now either being retracted/reworded and apologized for were once based on and vehemently defended by the idea that they were revealed from God, whether or not they really were...apparently. 

Do you know how many times the mantra 'the prophet is the mouthpiece of God' is repeated and repeated and REPEATED within the walls of a Mormon church building or inside a Mormon home or in a conversation between members at Outback? This is a major tenet of Mormonism that I have never heard followed by the clause "as far as the prophet is interpretating God's words correctly". How can anyone possibly build a testimony of the True Church if we don't take a prophet's words at 100% face value? And now, to be told that the treatment of black members was just due to the racism of another time... It feels like a betrayal. 

You have to understand that this church doesn't change its mind on things because of cultural change. No freakin' way. 

Or does it? 

I know, I know. If you're Mormon and you're reading this, one of the thoughts you're having is But revelation can change if the change itself is a revelation. Or The church is run by imperfect men. 

In essence these thoughts tell me that each and every statement and/or revelation in the Mormon church leaves PLENTY of room for doubt. You can either just wait a few years for it to change, or you can cherry-pick your way through your testimony of The One True Church on the Earth Today. 

I couldn't stomach it anymore. 

One last note on the church and its statement on former restrictions on black members:  The bans were lifted 35 years ago; Brigham Young has been dead for 135.  Why is this explanation coming so late? So very, very late... 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, My Name is Ashley… And I Am… A Working Mom.

A curse of a parent? Your kids never really know how much you love them.

They don't get it. The won't. They can't.

It's okay.  It's the order of the Universe:  Fish swim.  Birds fly. Your kids don't know how much you love them.

They don't understand the tears you cry.  They don't understand your firm manner with them.  They don't understand that rules are really for their protection.

And they don't understand the sacrifices.

-Pricey vacations…vacations, at all, really
-Haircuts (mine)
-Pursuing my great love and passion, Theatre

and...
-Matt and I staying married as long as we did…as long as we could


I recently started working 40 hrs/wk again- first time since Cedar City when I was working 2 part-time jobs.  I love my job.  I do.  I'm now an Assistant Manager at World Market, a company I loved as a shopper, and now as an employee on the management team.

After a couple of weeks, however, I came home and had a breakdown.  The kids actually didn't see this one.

Matt was over at the apartment, and he said, "...Wanna …talk?"

I managed to eek out, with surprising rigor, "Matt, I'm not raising my kids! (sob, sob, sob, blubber, gasp)"

After a perfectly timed pause, ala Matt Neves because he's a theatrics god, he said, "Ash… you're more available to them now than you were when you were a full-time mom."

I let this register.

Then asked, "Because… now… I don't want to kill myself?" (Remember the whole mixed-orientation marriage thing I did that one time...?)

"Yep."

I couldn't help but laugh.  Because, y'all, for some reason the truth can really be hilarious.

All the time, my oldest will ask, "When do you work today?"

I'll tell her and, 9 times out of 10, I get an "UGH" in response.

Even my oldest child, who is, ya know, a teenager, wants me home.  I'm mom.  The only one she's got.

I'd rather be with you, honey.  I would.  You're my child.  I love you in a way that consumes me.  My whole body, mind, soul.  Being.  It keeps me up at night.  It gets me up in the morning.  It's what drove me to upheave from Cedar City and 2 jobs to come to California to make my best attempt at making us the most cohesive family we can possibly be in this 'less-than' situation.  

But I HAVE to work.  To feed you.  To protect you from the elements. Don't you see?  First and foremost, I have to keep you alive.  


Ada makes pouty faces.  Emma doesn't seem to care.  Timothy, in true Timmy fashion, has become more and more affectionate, reaching out for tangible, palpable love, to reassure him.

And the oldest, Hana, her "UGH's" are only part of her reaction to mom being a breadwinner all of the sudden.  She's become my friend.

Interesting, isn't it?

My gift in this:

Embracing the moments.  Moments are incredible gifts.  I try to make them about peace and wisdom and laughter.

Listening.

Patience.

Just being in the same room.

But… it probably wouldn't hurt to go back on Zoloft.




Monday, November 4, 2013

This is a Rant. About Freedom.

So last night one of my teenaged girls said, "I'm gonna move to New York."

Inside, my reply was Hahahahahaha!

Outside, my reply was, "There are only 3 reasons to live in New York-"

Before I give you the 3 reasons, let me express to you how much I would LOVE- would love more than I love the Wynn buffet in Vegas- to live in NYC.  Or even just East.  I prefer East over West as far as the US goes.

Back to the 3 reasons, "#1 If you're a student, #2 if you make a crap ton of money, #3 if you have a very generous friend who agrees to let you stay on their couch for several months because you're trying for your big break as an artist of some sort."


I read somewhere this summer:  'Don't expect anyone to support you.  Maybe you have a trust fund.  Maybe you have a wealthy spouse.  But you never know when either one might run out on you.'

During the summer, I had serious talks with both of my teenage girls about Education/Money/Adulthood/Career Paths.  I like to call these talks "Freedom Talks".  I used all my passion to express to them with great emphasis the necessity of an advanced degree.

Just seems in today's world, a Bachelor's doesn't mean much anymore.  Work experience means infinitely more.  So, the next thing I conveyed to them was the necessity of consistent work experience, and if you aren't able to get a job for whatever reason, volunteer.  And put that shit on your resume.

They listened intently.  I explained to them my struggle with employment and being employable since my split with husband.  Since the days of raising kids and relying on Matt's income.  Period.

"You can't EVER rely on someone else to take care of you.  You MUST always be able to take care of yourself. And the amount of education plus work experience you can accrue equals your freedom."

That means do what it takes to be a professional, and, HELL, if you have a Master's you can always teach.  And, sweet Lord, teaching usually means health insurance!

DO THE MATH.

Back to the idea of living in NYC… I've lived in Southern California, an hour away from L.A., for a year now.  Cost of living isn't as nuts, perhaps, as New York, but it's up there.  I've been living here in SoCal with none of things that I'm pushing for my girls.  And y'all know it's been hard.

I never ever ever want my kids to feel that fear and, sometimes, hopelessness that I felt.  Mouths to feed and where's the next meal?  What account is going to collections next?

(I have somehow made my way into retail management after only 2 years of really being in the work force.  This was a feat.  And it took caring about my job and not just a paycheck.  I'm unspeakably proud of myself and shamelessly sing my praises.  So, don't count me ungrateful.  I'm feeling a new sense of freedom that is brand new to my repertoire of emotion.)


I'm not sure if my "Freedom Talks" sunk in…

A couple days ago, I was talking to another teenaged girl about how next year is the time to make decisions about what schools to apply for.

Her reply, "I don't know if it's really worth it."

"UM, WHAT???!!!!!! What is the IT you are referring to????  School???????????"

"Yeah…"

"What is your plan to be successful??"

"Open a bake shop."

So that was the highlight of that conversation.







Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Haven't Ruled Out That It Could Be My Twin

In the ER... brain cloud.

Nah, it's a staph infection. (See previous post for the beauty on my hip that looks like a boob.)

Here's today's photo: 



It's like the Eye of Sauron. 

They're about to drain this bitch, pack it, and send me home chock full of antibiotics. 

They gave me a tetanus shot about 20 minutes ago. So I'm good for 5 years. 

I went ahead and asked if they could switch out my Mirena IUD while they're at it. That way, I can take care of renewing both in 2018. You know, for convenience. But the cute man-nurse with a girlfriend was uncomfortable with how excitedly I asked him to do it. 

No new Mirena. 

So I'll go home with a snoopy band-aid instead. 


(I'm a good girl.)

Dude in bed across from me is getting his hand sewn up. They just told him to close his eyes. I'm just countin' my blessings is all. I may change my tune once they slice The Eye open. I'm a teensy bit nervous. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm Brazen, and Maybe Even a Hussy

Should I just go live with my parents? 

Should I have all 4 kids live with Matt and I rent a room? 

Should I become a call girl? The high-class, makes 6 figures kind?

It's too hard. 

Scraping by. 

Telling my kids 'no', they can't have this $3 ice cream or that $15 shirt. 

Exhaling mightily when they tell me they need new shoes because there are holes in the current pair or their feet have grown. 

It's so damn hard. Too hard. 

I feel like I'm a pretty good person. I'm smart. I'm witty. I'm a hard worker. I'm even pleasant. 

Why is it so hard? 

I'm not pursuing acting because I need to be a parent first. 

I'm not in school because I put all my eggs (for now anyway) in a $35,000 a year basket (see previous post). 

I'm ready to throw in the towel. I'm feeling beat. I'm the woman who lived in a shoe. I'm Lady Madonna. 

What I want is to be valued for my talents and intellect. $Valued$ 

I'm not ashamed to say it! 

I am worth chasms more than this barely scraping by bullshit! More than this I-should-forgo-deodorant-so-I-can-gas-up-the-car joke way of living. 

I got a spider bite on Wednesday. Today, Sunday, it's nasty. Discolored. Bright red. Painful. Swollen. And rather than take myself to an urgent care, I'm waiting till after 4 tomorrow for the free clinic. 

I can't lose work hours- I'm paid hourly. And I don't have insurance so whatever bill I'd rack up tonight at urgent care would inevitably go to collections. 

Fuck that. 

I've got 3 huge open accounts in collections as we speak! 

And WHY? Because, I'm resolved to making minimum wage, thus couldn't pay all the bills. 

And WHY? Because my résumé is freaking pathetic. 

WHY? Because I was raising my kids for over a decade before life went upside down. 

Look at me!! I'm freakin' hot! 

How am I not making more $ in this world with a face like this?? Yeah, that's right! I said that! 

I said it!!

(The following photo is not my face)


(That is also not my boob)

Long live Jambi. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer 2013 (What the Hell is Going On with Ashley)

I applied to a graduate program at an extremely reputable school called Loma Linda University about 5 minutes down the street from me.  I applied.  I interviewed.  I got in.  But I'm not going.  It's just too damn expensive- yes, even with a $20,000 student loan award.  Looking into other options for fall of 2014.




Jeremy and I are no longer together.  Sad face.  There was just too much time and distance apart.  I really needed him and him, specifically, during a very crucial part of my journey and discovery.  I will be grateful always for him.

Emma is home.  She is home.  Home!  Hooooommmme!  No more waking up at 3am with my-13-year-old-daughter-lives-in-another-state panics and tears.  I'm so happy.  Matt and I picked her up in Vegas a couple weeks ago, and Matt was the happiest, most silly, go-lucky I'd seen him in... too long.



My sister is still living with us, as are her daughters for the summer.



I'm still feeling somewhat lost in my corner of California.



Reasons that may be:

Possible Reason #1)  I really don't belong here.  This is for my kids, and Ashley's Mecca will have to wait- perhaps it's even being perfected for me during this flux.

Possible Reason #2)  The weather.  This IS the Inland Empire.  It IS a desert.  Even if Redlands is more or less the Atlantis of this 3rd World Country known as the I.E.

Possible Reason #3)  I'm a bad person.

Matt and I struggled a lot in this last year.  In our relationship.  I think I envision this Will & Grace kind of idea for us.  That is certainly not always or often the case.  I still love him in a special way that I'll never be able to love anyone else, because A) I'll never ever ever have another baby daddy B) I'll never ever ever have another gay ex and C) there will never ever ever be another Matt.  And right now things are good.

A couple of days ago I downloaded an app on my phone to meet men.

Yeah.  I did.

It's supposedly not just for hooking up... However, the night I downloaded it, a dude sent me a photo of his penis.  And just so I could have the complete opposite of that experience, the 2nd night I was chatting with someone who asked me very quickly, "You're not Mormon, are you?"

"What in the world made you ask that?!"

"Just a feeling."

"Um, well...I used to be... Not anymore..."

"Oh? What happened?"

"Wait...are you Mormon??"

"Yes.  But I consider myself a freethinker."

"Are you ready to learn something about me?"

"Yes."

"I was married to a homosexual."

"And?"

Uh...this is our first conversation and on a dating app's chat, no less.  How in the world do I put this so we can move on to other topics???

"Well...when I gave myself permission to accept that I disagreed with the church on the GAY ISSUE, everything else started crumbling around me.  It was heartbreaking.  The fairy tale wasn't true."

"So, how do you know the church isn't true? I understand this was painful for you, but how do you know?"

"Um..."

"This was your experience and it must have been hard, but do you have proof?"

"Like I said, things, over time, crumbled right before my eyes.  I didn't ask for that to happen, but it did."

"Yeah, I got it, thanks.  You were hurt.  But how do you know the church isn't really true, dear?"

"Dear?"

"You're giving me gravy and I want meat, damnit.  This is all emotion, but I want your proof or evidence that the church isn't true."

At this point, my hands were shaking and I could barely see what was on my phone's screen.

How do I put a button on this so I can end this CHAT and block him??!!!

"Okay, so you're clearly getting defensive.  You asked ME.  I just shared some serious emotional stuff with you over this Chat.  Leaving was not about proof or evidence for me, but about Love and Safety.  I find your tone extremely odd and very uncomfortable."

Send.

Block.

Since when is a Mormon's testimony based on proof or evidence anyway?!  Any Mormon or otherwise believer will tell you it's fundamentally based on Faith.

So I came to 2 possible conclusions about this Blonde Mormon Man on the dating app:

Possible Conclusion #1)  He's in serious denial about the fact that he ain't sure one way or t'other of the church's TRUEness.

Possible Conclusion #2)  He's closeted.

Easy Peasy!  (can't wait to see the haters' comments on this one)

I'm Ashley.  Opinionated.  Not afraid of stereotypes.  I sum things up to my own satisfaction.

JUST LIKE ALL OF YOU.


Lastly, my daughter, Hana, who's 15, has her first official job.  She works at a water park.  And our relationship is really pretty great.