Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

I don't know what I thought I would escape by leaving Utah. I think if I tried to explain it, I would just come off sounding like a jerk. And I also see the irony of this statement in reference to a previous post I wrote in defense of many things Utah. I still stand by that post.

But I will say, that in the move to Nevada--and, consequently, on my quest to redefine myself--maybe I thought to escape the culture of politely pretending to be perfect. I know no one, anywhere (with probably a very few exceptions) actually thinks they're perfect. It just seemed like everyone was trying really hard to be really good, and it made me uncomfortable sometimes, because I knew how really flawed I was. How really not into some things I was. How many doubts and questions and struggles I had with things that everyone around me took for granted--or at least seemed to. And I was mortally afraid of being judged for not trying hard enough to pretend that everything was all right. In some ways, it has been a relief to just...leave.

Now, that being said, let me share with you an observation of behavior here in Las Vegas: pervasive rudeness. Not everyone all the time. In fact, almost everywhere we go we meet genuinely cheerful people. But there also does seem to be a lot more out-and-out incivility. And feeling the dampening effect of this incivility on my spirits has caused me to reflect on the one thing I mentioned above that I thought was "wrong" with Utah. It made me realize that, though the hypocrisy of someone pretending that everything is all right bothers me, it doesn't bother me near as much as someone who doesn't even bother with the veneer of civility. It made me realize that it is not my problem if someone judges me for not being perfect.

That being polite, being nice (I know people hate that word) is totally, and wrongfully, underrated.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Is Wrong With this Picture?

Take a look at this:

This rolled around Facebook last week and created quite a stir. Mostly of approval. I didn't think much of it at the time, except to feel a vague sense of unease. I didn't "Like" it, and I certainly didn't share it. But I didn't stop and address my unease either. I just moved on.

Today, I read this invective about this very meme, and it made me sit down and seriously think through my unease, and I find that my opinions have become...stronger. First, let's start with some hard, scientific truth--because, behind every fallacious argument rests a grain (however small) of truth.

Truth: Most men are hardwired to frequently think about sex. Visual cues are very strong for men, and seeing a woman display some skin MAY (not WILL) inspire a man to think sexy thoughts. That is scientific truth. If this is all this meme had said, it wouldn't have been controversial at all, and probably wouldn't have gone viral. But I suspect, by the charged wording, that sensationalism was its author's intent.

And this really gets to the heart of what I think is wrong here. Not the old, tired debate about whose responsibility it is to "keep mens' minds clean," but the question, Why are we still talking about this issue in these terms? Why are we still resorting to droll witticisms? And why, Oh WHY, do people still gobble up this kind of pharasaical nonsense as if it were gospel Truth?

First, the word "immodest." Modesty is a judgment based on subjective cultural values. In many Muslim countries what I wear every day is heresy. In Las Vegas, what I wear every day probably looks like way too much clothing to almost everyone else. What the author* doubtless meant by modesty here was the Mormon standard of modesty: no sleeveless, no booty shorts, no plunging necklines, etc. For those who don't know, this standard of modesty has its basis not solely on the caprice of Mormon culture, but because of certain commitments many Mormons choose to make in LDS temples. I personally have made these commitments, but as far as I'm concerned, they are between me and my God; I choose to conform to this standard of dress without reference to you, my neighbor or any other stranger. And I certainly don't expect everyone else to share my beliefs. What the author of this meme has effectively done, however, is to impose his or her standard of modesty on the world at large, regardless of the World-at-Large's sharing in the author's beliefs. This attitude really bothers me, because I feel, if fostered in Mormon communities, it will achieve nothing but to antagonize and to separate Mormons from their neighbors along totally superficial lines.

And even if it is only aimed at Mormon girls, what on earth does the author hope to achieve but to be divisive within the Mormon community?

The use of "immodest" bothers me, but not as much as the response to this meme. It was "liked" and "liked" and "liked" again! Some people were even avowing to use it in their next Young Women's (LDS youth group) lesson! WHAT? The only thing this is going to teach teenage girls is that men who appreciate women's bodies for the beauty that they are are not "real" and are ALL PIGS, and that it's okay to judge other girls' dress. I know teenagers love these simple little sayings, but that doesn't mean we need to be feeding them to them. That doesn't mean we need to be fostering self-righteousness. 

Whoever authored this is doubtless congratulating him or herself on a job well-done. They got lots of virtual slaps on the back from people. If you were one of those people who "liked" it or "shared" it, it's fine. Obviously, it doesn't make you a bad person. I do challenge you, however, to think hard before jumping onto this kind of bandwagon again. 

So basically, what bothers me the most about this meme is that it exists at all. Its very existence, and the praise it garnered, is, to me, an indication of an attitude that I wish were totally absent among the LDS community.

*I am actually not sure if this meme started in the LDS community, which necessarily makes some of my points moot. It may not have. Regardless, it became very popular among Mormons.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In which Australia's second favorite marsupial saves the day

It is time for an update. And I definitely feel more compulsion to write now that almost no one I know or care about (besides Travis) is involved in my daily life. So here goes...

We moved to Las Vegas on Friday, June 22. It was about 105 degrees and cloudless, and it only took about three minutes of moving sundry heavy items up 16 stairs to realize I was in trouble. My heart was racing and I could feel my face turning a bright, tomatoey shade. So I chugged ghastly amounts of water and came up with an ingenious plan of staying cool:

Did you know that kangaroos living in the Outback lick their arms and let it evaporate in order to stay cool? I'm sad to say, this little factoid gave me the idea. No, I did not lick my own arms, though the temptation was real. (Mmm...salty!) Every five minutes, though, I would splash cold water on my face, neck and arms, and by the time I made it back down the stairs to keep moving stuff, I was totally dry--but cool! Let me just say that it TOTALLY worked, and I have Australia's second favorite marsupial (after the koala) to thank for the idea. Hey. Don't bag it till you try it.

 Dad and Sue helped us move for the next three or so hours, and we all took turns resting in order to avoid heat exhaustion. After getting everything in the house, two things were determined: Summer really is a horrid time to move to Nevada. But all that said (and DONE) it was actually time to get some food.

The next day, we were able to take a VIP tour of the Hoover Dam that Sue had arranged for us. She knows the guy who runs the dam (yes. she knows the guy WHO RUNS HOOVER DAM) so we got to explore some places where almost no tourists get to go. Awesome doesn't do it justice. Neither does a photo, but here you go anyway.

It was another hot day.

In fact...let's just get something out of the way here, while we're at it. Fact: It is hot here. There hasn't been a day yet that hasn't soared well above 100 degrees. There are actually some clouds today, which constitutes a minor miracle. But the heat is still seering, and from everything I've been told, will continue to be so for the next few months. So, until further notice, just assume it is hot, and if it isn't, I'll be sure to let you know unless, of course, I first die of the surprise.

Well, that's it for now. There is more to tell--big news, even--but my patience for reporting all things quotidian is remarkable slight. So, for my benefit--and for the readers--I'll keep my updates short.

One last note, though. My parents in law, for my upcoming birthday and graduation, gifted me a Nook a couple weeks ago, and It and I have been inseparable ever since. I had been debating the purchase of an e-reader for some time now and had recently come to the decision to get one. Imagine my delight when, with very little effort on my part, my desire was fulfilled! I have now read all of Peter Pan as well as Pride and Prejudice (alliterations not intended) and my love for my Nook is now very real. It goes with me wherever I take my bag and sleeps on my pillow at night. In fact, i am now in the process of petitioning Harry Reid to draft a law that would allow polyandry in the state of Nevada so that my Nook and I might solemnize our love before a justice of the peace.

Travis doesn't mind. He's used to competing with my love of literature.