Writing a Valentine

Eleven years ago yesterday, Valentine’s Day, I met my husband. He was a twenty-eight-year-old virgin. I was an eighteen-year-old not-virgin. I was in a position of both influence in sexually available sort of way and simultaneously highly vulnerable to influence. In four weeks and one day I will turn the age he was when I left him. Arbitrary numbers really. It was all signed and done and finished over eight and half years ago.

I’m much more sad and heartbroken about my lack of writing and the failure to make a man, a different man, love me after five years. Especially only to realize in hindsight that if I had of succeeded I would’ve hated myself and my life. You can’t make someone love you and if you could, would you really want to?

If I’d had a Valentine this year, it probably would’ve been the end of me.

Progress is failure.


I had it all wrong before

and it wasn’t quite right

It was playfully serious, nerdy witty funny

Ceasing away little by little

While I was maturing into young love

Jaded grew but the plants tended to die

I had it all wrong before

But that is all right as long as

I am only metaphorically a tree

And our roots were not so entwined

As to kill the trees

So the ceasing, the untwining, uncomfortable

Yet strong inside the inevitable storms

A long time coming

For different reasons and from different places

Into a long place and time where we never know what

It is like to be that other person

And without curiosity insatiably driving being

It ceases.

It was.

I live only for a while, as one must,

Inside the place of no longer.

A DJL Inspired Experiment

Creative Installment: another ‘failed’ experiment

Transcribed Oral Story (15:45 minutes long)

You can listen here.

Beginning – Me talking the whole time:

One of the stories told over and over again is the story of Joseph Smith. He is of course the founder of um the Mormon church which is called, people were called Mormons a long time because his vision to find the gold plates which was called the book of Mormon. And  It was only years later that they said, ‘no, we’re the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’.  Partly because they were doing the typical rhetoric, uh renaming um

– laughs –

My cat is insisting on being pet while I do this. Okay. Um But yeah It’s the same as when they took back the term queer or umm don’t call ahhh people don’t want to be called Hispanic. They want to be called Latinos or Chicanos ‘cause Hispanics got a negative rap for a while or Mormons got a negative, anyway, it’s the same thing. So then they were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints which of course is a mouthful so they Shortened it to LDS the latter day saint part being as what they considered  as unique. So uh, which is, uh, truuue? I mean I guess I would say all followers of Christ are latter day saints but just really, trying to articulate the new revelation from god factor.

Um, so.

So growing up we learned the story of Joseph Smith.Uuh, Joseph smith was 14 years old. And uh, the We learned that there was a time that was, I think it was called the spiritual enlightenment I was looking it up for this class actually, or class, English 550 And um, the spiritual enlightenment, 1820 early 1800’s is happening and He is basically like visiting all the churches and the story goes Joseph smith was confused because every church said that they were the one true church and he said, “How could they all be true?”

And so, one of the, I think it’s supposed to be one of the pastors, Someone tells him, oh you should, you should pray about it. Oh right, right, there’s a scripture in James, If a man asks of god with good intent then God’ll tell you right? So he prays and prays and goes out into the woods and Satan attacks him. An unknown darkness attacks him and is trying to stop him from praying because Satan knows that he’s about to get revelation from god to restore the one true church. Um. And I have to let the cat out.

Okay back.

So, It’s ironic that the answer to which church is true is none of them,  I’m going to show you the one that IS the one true church. So, sticking with there is one true church. So he prays and its, the a big deal, a big part of the vision is the Father and the son in perfected physical bodies appear to him um, like in the air, so they are floating in the sacred grove like the Mormons have bought the land and I went and visited when I was twelve. To visit the sacred grove and we could all feel the spirit, as it were, there. [Laughs] So yeah, he prays there. God appears to him and says, “Joseph, this is my beloved son, Jesus Christ, who I have sacrificed for the sins of the world.”

And then Jesus is like, “heeyy” [laughs] No. No he’s not. It’s always very formal, the formal language and then they tell him that the angel Moroni is going to visit him later and give him more instructions. Uh, which happens.  So um, so the age thing is interesting and, because he’s super young for starting a new church. Uh and, The church isn’t officially organized until later. Like God keeps visiting so he finds the plates and he gets the priesthood bestowed upon him. Oh but before that, actually John the Baptist unless I’m mistaken, wow my folklore is a little rusty but uh, ya know. Reappears because he’s been resurrected prematurely and stuff because he’s a good dude baptizing Christ and all. So John the Baptist who baptized Christ comes to baptize Joseph Smith and um ‘cause you have to get baptized, to get into heaven. It’s really important, So there’s a lot of people that are screwed but, see this is my problem.

[5.5 minutes in]

I can’t tell these stories orally I think actually very well actually because I just – laughsl a lot of negativity and maybe not outright bitterness but I would say at least latent bitterness. It would also be interesting exercise if I could like, make myself tell the stories again like as if I believed. It would probably be really cool and also disturbing. Uh, but that’s the other thing that like when I tell these stories – I’m remembering and like I remember believing all of it. And uh, I was going to tell all of the Joseph Smith story or am telling it or I did a shitty job of telling it because it is what I do just remember, I remember hearing and learning that story at my parents knee, literally. And going to Sunday school and learning the stories learning about Christ learning about Joseph smith, learning about the pioneers ya know before, or As I’m learning to read so the oral tradition is definitely, definitely there and I would say the oral tradition is probably where like some of the, potentially some of the quirkier stuff or just like where Mormon folklore comes about. Like there’s all these jokes about,  you know the celebrities that are mormon and, I dunno. Anyway.

I was going to follow up the Joseph Smith story with, ya know, he’s 14 when he has his revelation with me getting my patriarchal blessing. Um. Which I did the winter of my 8th grade year. Things were rough for me. I had a falling out with my friends. Um. In retrospect I can see that depression was starting  — laughsl — or ya know, maybe I already had it. IT was ya know, low-level depression. It was only three years later of having depression that then I started having suicidal thoughts uh, but yeah so like I kinda had a falling out with my friends I was sorta making new friends. And it’s interesting though, when I think about it — My new friends were kind of the bad kids. So, um…Yeah it’s possible I didn’t feel fully comfortable embracing and accepting them as friends because I was, –pause– when I think about it, it was kinda weird that I was making friends with them because I was like I always knew the answers in Sunday school, like star, Mormon-Molly but then I was friends with Jenny who was like rebellious and lived in a trailer park and So actually when I think about it there was definitely class things happening too. But yeah, like, ‘cause my other friend Shawn also kinda from a poor family and he was like, not, I don’t even know, I think —

I think his family was mormon just by proxy. like if you grow up in Utah It’s rare that you aren’t officially mormon even if you never are active as they say. Is that the parents will…Some how or another you will have gotten baptized when you were eight and then. Yeah.So. So here I am, so I have sort of have new friends, new old friends that I’ve like never been close with possibly largely because they were poorer than my family was poor or they were less mormon than my family was mormon and um. And um. And. So I did what I was taught. I prayed more and read the scriptures more and I decided, ya know. I was a little younger than they usually….They want you to be 12-years-old. Um so ya know I was 13 almost 14 so it wasn’t like unreasonable, it was still a little unusual. Usually…. I think men and women are usually like a little bit older. Um, maybe boys sometimes would get it when they get the aaronic priesthood which happens at 12.

Gosh there’s like so many layers and steps that I uh, take for granted that I just know them so Yeah.

So I, I went, I pushed, my parents were like, “are you sure?” and I was like, “Yes.”  And so,um, I went and got it. And basically what happens is you have an interview with the patriarch which is someone who is called to do it and they do it like until they die for a region, usually a stake or several stakes. Which – laughs — A stake is not a piece of meat it’s or a peg in the ground it’s what they call a group of wards and wards is a congregation. And yeah, so on and so forth.

Coughs [10:45 minutes in]

Um Yeah, so. I wanna say his name is something Harvey, why is that. I dunno. I’m related to some Harveys. So maybe I’m mixing things up. I’d have to ask my mom. I should probably remember or have it on record. They keep it on record forever so even if you lose your patriarchal blessing you can get it again. Anyway, they do an initial interview to make sure you’re like worthy and ready and stuff. And then you go back again and just in his house Which is was very ornate, speaking of class. He was really….judging by his house he was definitely wealthier. So I don’t know if the church pays him or something but um. Yeah so he, he … they record it. And his wife would transcribe it which that is interested I’m just remember that now. And then, yeah so I read a copy of it. You…

Which definitely had more impact than, cause You just can’t remembering everything that he says. But you find out when you compare notes with other people which you’re kinda not discouraged from doing.  Like you’re only supposed to share your patriarchal blessing with your spouse and your immediately family. Um, but, I think the reason why is there’s a lot of language in there that is like stock language like you’re adopted into the tribe of Israel that is called Ephraim and you’ll be resurrected on the morning, on the first morning of the  oh, what’s it called. And. Like it says you’ll marry a priesthood-holder, tells me that my kids are going to be really hard and difficult and I’ll need to utilize all my family and my husband’s family to help raise them. Which, sorta terrified me I, it…That combined with my depression I think honestly to do this day it’s just like, “ehhhh… Do I really want to have children? They are obviously going to be devils and really hard and Um, yeah….”

And it also said that I was really sensitive and that this would become more pronounced as I got older. Uh, which now, right now, I’m wondering,  “Oh Is that uh, did he like pick that up in the pre-interview and… I dunno. Planted the seed …for my depression to get worse? –laughs – I dunno. Probably not. That is overthinking it. Overthought it.

So um… yeah. I dunno.

I’m not sure what to do with this project. I’m thinking… This is an experiment. I wanted to try an oral story and… I feel like the lesson learned is that it’s hard – laughs – and uh.


I dunno. I can’t um. It’s hard to tell it because I feel like I have to explain so much about Mormon culture along the way and then I get sidetracked which I am, it’s super easy to sidetrack me with sidestories anyway and then, that I, I am still processing I think. A lot of the stuff that I went through or that I was taught and so ya know, when I tell these stories and I remember how fervently I believed and how much I, trying to make that religion make me feel happier when in fact if anything  It was doing the opposite. Um….

It’s hard. I can’t um

…pause… Yeah, there’s definitely feelings that are still there and…

And and ugh/sigh. Yeah. Well,  — laughs — here was my oral, that’s all. Uh, I’m rendered inarticulate as I hone in with the pain of my 13-year-old self. Which, I mean I don’t know of any, I never heard of any woman in the world not remember that age and just being like, “oh god’ But. Um.  So I don’t think I’m special or unique in that way. Um. But. Just as I remember how I tried to feel better by like praying more and being more righteous… uh, It’s sad. It’s sad. Yeah pain painful memories.

Um. I will stick to the scripture format ‘cause that’s fun. And it’s vindicating because it’s a little bit of a fuck you. Yeah.

Yep. That’s where I’m at.

On Living

Live: I don’t mind living for it’s a temporary commitment;

I do mind others’ living, because we all want to be minded while we live and,

it would be weird to just ignore everybody all the time.


If I don’t write, I’ll die.

If I do write, I’ll still die.

If I don’t write, I’ll feel like dying sooner;

If I do write I’ll always have some unfinished idea to justify living,

to fighting off dying for a while.

Remember the 5th of November

…because at midnight (technically the 5th still) the last day of the eternal campaign finally ends. As far as I know, nothing is going to get blown up, or even be that surprising, but I’m sure the news will spend lots of make up and time convincing us otherwise.

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing. I already turned my vote in because that’s how the state of Washington rolls (and I love it).

Today I didn’t go to work like I should’ve. It’s a long story because of explanations and ultimately boring, so I’m going to skip it. I did finish retyping all my old stuff for NaNoWritMo and have added at least 200 words of new stuff. My total is 6,807. This combined with other events made this a spectacular autumn day of 100% self-indulgent productivity.

I’ve got my sleepy time tea and I’m going to try and sleep normally tonight, but if I wake up and find myself staring at the clock for more than 30 minutes, these keys be aclackin!

I Don’t Know…Yet.

I Don’t Know

I don’t know is what I used to fill out all my novel parts on NaNoWritMo.
It could be the question that destroys my generation.
And not because we don’t know like we’re not smart, because we don’t know like we just got too many options and we’re just smart enough to know picking the wrong option can really, really, suck.
For example: parents and marriage. Are you an accident? Are your parents miserable in their marriage and is it their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th? These aren’t the only options of course, but it’s so pervasive that even if you didn’t personally experience this, your friends did/are or you watch A LOT of TV, possible a combination of Lifetime and CSI. So are you happy enough to try for life with your significant other? No? Ok, break up and be miserable.
At least. That’s what I decided to do. It seems to have driven everything. Why I left my hometown to go to college. Why I dropped out of college. Why I DIDN’T break up with my ex-husband, thus he became my husband, thus he became my ex-husband.
But I digress.
This is not what my novel will be. At least, not in this narrative style/voice, not this NaNoWritMo. No.
How much is 50,000/30?
Holy Fuck. 1,666.667 words a day? Shit.
I have close to 900 words for Vampires in Space
I have 8, 235 words for Confessions
I have 6, 037 words for my YAL lit novel (maybe)
…yeah, the latter is the only one that fits nicely into novel format for me. So, here we go. To feel less like a cheater and to warm up I’m going to retype up what I have.

From Why-I-Don’t-Write to my first ever NaNoWriMo

My First NaNoWriMO


I’ve heard about it from my former roommate that seemed so much like me that we decided we were clones (well, I decided. She said twins, I pointed out that I was 4 or 5 years older so that meant she had to be a clone — why on earth did she end up hating me?) and thought, “this is exactly what I need.”

So here we go. I can’t decide if I should pick up writing up off of one of my three (four if you count a poetry project) started books or if I should stick to the rules and start completely fresh. (I won’t enter it if I ‘cheat’ of course). But whatever I do I’ve got to start in the next hour and 50 minutes.

Why I Don’t Write

The first Why I Don’t Write

Because, I think I’ve pretty much figured out why I write already. It’s the friend that’s always there, an obsession or madness, a therapeutic survival tool for hacking my way out of Mormonism, blah-blah-blah, then oddly hanging on to Mormonism by continually continuing to write about it. I hope the latter is not like my nail biting, because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t bite my nails and I sure as hell haven’t been able to quite yet.


Why I don’t write.


Mental fatigue after An 8 hour work day – which is actually 9 hours at/around the office and 20-50 minutes commute time depending on how I get there. So, like anyone with an 8/9-5-er but probably a shorter commute.

Emotional fatigue. I love my job; I help students one-on-one. Sometimes I’ll have 9 sessions in a day and average 5 or so. Emotional fatigue.

Emotional fatigue B: office politics. Really not a fan and I think also probably not that great at it. The good news is I had a revelation today that office politics is like Diplomacy – we just need to diplomatically decide that we are all equally powerful, except of course for the boss, and that we work better as a team. No more games, for the love of god. This does doesn’t appear to be going anywhere however so, emotional fatigue B.

This is Mildred or ‘Millie’. She’s super pissed off that I’m not writing and she’s sick of all my talk and no action. Though, to be fair, she kind of always seems pissed off…

Fear. Fear keeps me more charging on with an idea. I don’t know why I’m so afraid of writing crap. When I taught/tutored writing I would constantly tell my students that I was certain few, if any writers were good because they could shit gold. No, it’s about revising. And I hate all the hypocrisy I grew up with, so…that’s pretty lame that I’m inviting it into the one thing that I’ve maintained and been some level of passionate about for 20 years. Sigh.

Perfectionism fear. This is redundant. But I’m keeping it in the name of facing my fears of writing crap.

Timing. I recently talked to an awesome writer/teacher of mine about getting up early to write, because getting home late and writing wasn’t working. My significant other, bless ‘em, makes dinner and it’s usually ready fairly immediately after I get home. I can’t do coffee after eating without risking screwing up my sleep schedule. And, I’m not a morning person. However, as I write this, it is 11:36pm; I can’t seem to get back to my regular schedule since my awesome trip abroad. Maybe, my body is finally sick of me not writing. I don’t know.

Lack of time, see rambling last paragraph.

Accountability. There are no deadlines. There is no person hounding me to write or holding up consequences if I don’t. Recently, I made a promise with my mother that I would write for 5 minutes daily then she would work on her Microsoft text/class on the days she doesn’t watch my niece and nephew/her grandkids. This starts tomorrow. In fact I’m going to pause to make sure I’ve put this in my calendar and even though I have a feeling it will not work out, it will definitely not work out if I don’t give it a try.


Ok, done. Also under the accountability category is no writing circle. I tried to start one, but the buddies weren’t having it. However, since it’s failure I have been encouraged to try again with a forum of what we’d be willing to put into it. Mmhh. I’m going to do that now too.


Ok, done.

Why else don’t I write?

Let’s see, accountability, perfectionism and fear induced procrastination, mental and emotional fatigue, and timing. I really don’t think lack of time is one I can honestly say, nor writer’s block (yet, knock on wood, thunk thunk!) but…

…Oh yeah, and laziness.

Please feel welcome and free to write via comments to me why you don’t end up writing.

Much Love,

E. Phoenix