Saturday, November 04, 2006

In the moment

About ten years ago, I made some decisions about Bevin based on this line of reasoning: she is easily pleased, easily okay, even happy, with her world. She has an amazing capacity for optimism, moving on. And so I balanced the quality of my life against the quality of hers. And I've allowed myself some ten years of focus on the quality of my life--work, personal time, creativity, travel, peace, companionship. And to that end, I've paid attention to the quality of Bevin's life on a transactional, don't dig too deep basis. I think she's been okay. She's lived with folks who cared about her and did their best to take care of her. Jeraldine. East Side.

I don't want to revisit those decisions, flagellate myself with guilt, could have been, should have been. In important ways I think I was right. The last ten years, for all their limits and disappointments, have been important to me. I can't imagine not having them.

But I do find myself thinking that I haven't appreciated Bevin's world enough. At her best, she has an amazing ability to live in the moment. She has a deep sense of affection. A deep sense of pleasure in the moment. She can move on, embrace change, whatever is over the horizon. I should learn this from her.

And I worry that the life she has been living recently has caused the balance of pleasure and anxiety in her life to tip. The anxiety rather than pleasure may predominate. She does have this talent for the moment, for affection, for pleasure. That is what I need to work to preserve. Bevin doesn't have the ability to manipulate her environemt. I can do that for her. I need to create an environment where she can succeed in what she does so well. Better than me--the normal. Live in the moment. Let go. Find pleasure.

If she loses that ability, it falls on those who create the world she lives in. What a responsibility.

Friday, November 03, 2006



I've made some progress on bringing my beloved idiot girl to Seattle. I've filled out the paperwork. I've explored things to the point that I know I can take a leave of absence from my work when she comes. And I'm going to do this. I've made the commitment.

I spent time this week talking to the good people who run the group home where my daughter now lives--in Utah. I had a conversation with the administrator there that stunned me. I think of Bevin, my daughter, as having two extremes for coping with stress. On the one extreme, the anxiety builds up and she acts out. She runs around, can't settle. She becomes angry, grumpty, and she exhibits a range of alarming behaviors. She sniffs, she hits, she picks up things and stashes them in closets, she slams doors, she flushes the toilet again and again, she begs for soda and candy, opening the refrigerator door, raging if she doesn't get her way. At the extreme these behaviors overwhelm me. I don't know what to do. I have a hard time remaining calm, not becoming alarmed, angry, sad, tearful.

And then there's the other extreme. She lies down on a couch. Draws a blanket over her head. And sleeps. Goes into a deep quiety place that is something like a trance. I feel guilty when I let this go on too long. I want her engaged in the world. I love her happy smile, her affection, her openness to whatever comes next. I'm afraid if she goes too deep, she won't come back. She becomes less engaged, less the wonderful little person I know she is. I feel guilty, because this Bevin is so much easier to deal with than the other Bevin.

I was stunned because the administrator at her group home told me she had never seen the latter behavior. Only the former. And she told me something I found it hard to believe. Bevin has a hard time sleeping. Because of lack of sleep she is grumpy. And if anything this seems to becoming worse. She wakes up in the wee hours of the night, roams through the home, has even managed to get outside and set off the alarms.

I was stunned because I think of Bevin as someone with an amazing capacity to sleep, to descend into a deep quiet place. As I thought about this I realized that Bevin lives in a situation where she is always in a group. A group home after all. She has a roommate. The television is always on, a group of women/girls, a group of helpers. She travels on a bus with a group to "work"--spends the day with that group. I was stunned today to think that Bevin basically has no privacy. No time alone. She does need constant supervision. You can't leave her alone. She can't make any choices. But in her current life, this means she is always in a group.

Bevin definitely has anxiety in situations of transition, in crowds, in public places, in transitions, in noise. And in important ways I realize this is the structure of how she lives. No privacy. No time alone.

She has an amazing capacity to be happy. To live where she is. But that seems stressed.

I don't know what this means about where Bevin is right now. For the last few times I have spent time with her, she has been so pleasant. But I realize now how tired she must be, what a relief the quiet and peace of being alone, being able to put her head under a blanket and lose herself, must seem. Bevin is amazingly difficult to move out of a pattern. I wonder what imprint this time of living in a group, in a crowd, will have made on her. I can understand a certain kind of anxiety I see in her behavior now. But what might that mean overall in the range of life she can live.

This leaves me more committed to bring her to Seattle and to create a place where she can be alone, be quiet, be isolated. But in the context of a balanced life. What will this mean? How will she have changed? I look forward to this. I'm committed to this at this point in my life. But I am a bit afraid. What will this mean? And am I a big enough person.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I keep wondering about how to find language to explore the dilemma that is my metaphysical, spiritual life. I can't believe. I don't believe. That I admitted some twenty-five years ago. And I still feel at peace with that recognition. I spent the first thirty-five years of my life dutifully trying to believe, to do the right thing. And at some point so much had shifted that I had to admit to myself that I couldn't. And wouldn't. And that has described my life. And I've been releaved, at peace with that admission.

But I remained fascinated by religion. By its good, bad, and ugly. By the hair that can divide the believer from the non-believer. I read a book recently that made me think for the first time about the term agnostic. A-gnostic. Not a gnostic. That describes me. Not a believer. But where does that leave me. Not an atheist either. Atheism seems like a belief. So stable. So satisfied. So right. So ready to stop and live right there in that place--perhaps a very narrow place. I find exploration, questioning what describes me. Not staying some place. Not being comfortable. The notion of belief assumes such a stable world, a stable place to stand. I haven't found that. Not really looking for that any more. What I want is a way to keep finding the string that starts to unravel. It's that quest that sustains me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A conflict of interest?

I spent last Saturday at a symposium sponsored by Sunstone. Sunstone publishes a magazine on Mormon history, literature, pop history, politics, you get the idea. Sunstone also sponsors a yearly symposium in Salt Lake City and smaller symposia in local areas. I visited the one in Seattle.

The magazine and the symposia live on a short list of publications/groups/events the official church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, substitute Mormon) at best ignores and at worst harasses. Some 20 years past a number of folks who had published or spoken in venues like Sunstone were publicly excommunicated. I had a bit of a brush with the church over content I had published in Sunstone during that period. But I managed not to fight. And I'm still on the official roles of the Mormon church (but that's another story).

So here's the story on my background and why I'm thinking about this now. Some 20 plus years ago I worked as an editor for Sunstone magazine. I was part of the group who sponsored the original symposium in Salt Lake City. I was the editor for all(yes, I do think all) the articles or books cited as justification for the excommunication of the folks in the 90s. That's my history. Editor. Magazines. Books. Print. Design. The printed word.

That's my past. My present? I work for a software company in Seattle. I create documentation--help systems, tutorials, user guides. I get frustrated every day at work by silly folks who cling to the printed word. I want folks to move online, to the web, and now to Web 2.0--to blogs, WIKIs, tag clouds, community, interactive, up-to-date, way cool communication (so okay "cool" shows my age).

So what did I do last weekend. I found myself volunteering to help with Dialogue--yet an another very Mormon, very much old hat, PRINTED magazine. And over the past couple of days I've been e-mailing back and forth about the younger intelligensia of Mormondom. They don't read the old "liberal" magazines. They flock to the blogs.

The blogs. At work my hope of the future. And at home. My son, my daughter-in-law, they rule in the blogosphere, the bloggernacle (that's the Mormon, mostly faithful, sphere).

So here's my dilemma. Why I'm thinking I may have a conflict of interest, an unresolved tension in my life. How do I bring together my impulse to join the greying crowd who care about a magazine, a print artifact, something bogged down in the past? And my impulse to embrace the web, the community the interaction, the immediacy of the blog, the web, the community--web 2.0 as it's styled by my crowd at work.

I just plain worry about what it means to lose the boring reality of these old print venues. My son blogs very persuasively that the problem is the quality of the work. I often agree that's true. But I find something very troubling in much of what happens on the web, in the blogs I read, as well.

Such short spurts of argument. The emphasis on controversy (lots of comments, fights only generate lots of comments), popularity (again comments and links). And brevity. Again a conflict arises here. I value, conciseness, elegance in the word. But I also worry about the lack of attention, of digging through. I find myself rejecting any comment that goes beyond two paragraphs. What does this say about what reading attention tends to be online. (I still read very long books.)

So you see it here. Look at the length of this mess. Way past the rules of good blogging. Too rambling, too undisciplined to make it into print. Alas, where has the world left me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A plan is emerging

I have decided that I am going to bring my lovely idiot girl to Seattle. Lots of planning to complete. But I've decided that I'm going to take time off from work to find a decent place and settle us all in. I'm also hoping to cut back on work. More time for Bevin. More time for life. The goal is late January or February. I'll try to make an account of this.

So far I've learned that Bevin can't apply for services in Washington until she's living here. That means she is no longer living in Utah. That is a gamble. She is far away but she has a decent place and good people. No guarantee here. If I bring her here I'm back on call. And that's difficult. For my life. For my relationship with my husband. But I've decided that being her mother is the most important thing here. I need to take some risks for her. I've had my time. I want to be a good mother. I'm hoping that we can both have a good life--here in Seattle.

I'll try to write more about this.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Can Idiot Girl come to Seattle

My heart won over my head this weekend. I went to Utah, in large part to spend a weekend with my Idiot Girl. I visited friends. It was a perfect weekend for Bevin. We ate out twice on Friday. Three times on Saturday, with an additional picnic. That means this is how the days went: eat, drive, eat, drive, eat drive. What is more perfect for Bevin. Her topic desires: eat, ride, walk (and the fourth is cuddle). That is at least what I do with my Idiot Girl.

A grand weekend. On Sunday, we ate, drove. And then I took her back to her group home. A very good place. 15 girls or so. But they care, are responsible, do their best. It isn't a scary place. Not in the world of places where a young woman (she's 26) like my dear Idiot Girl, my Bevin, can live on her own.

I stopped at the home. And she was just plane mad at me. On the roam as I took her back. Now this is where it is difficult with Bevin. She get's over it. I knew that she'd settle down. Her grand ability is this: she's happy, she lives in the present. But it was so striking for me. She was angry, she expressed her feelings. She seemed to care, if only for the briefest slice of time.

But it broke my heart. I drove away, but I couldn't leave. So I brought my Idiot Girl home with me. Definitely heart over head. I have a job. My daughter has a family of small children. Bevin, for all her charm, can be very difficult. And as I called around today to begin the assault on the officialsom of this state. It's not easy. It's a catch 22.

So what do I do. I have made so many compromises in my life around my children. They know I love them. And the other two have done fine. Truth to be told. Bevin is doing fine too. But am I? I want to take care of her. Touch her. Love her. I just can't let this go on. My easy life. My Idiot Girl isn't in Seattle. She's hundreds of miles away.

And that is what I must fix. For my heart.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I think I'm safe

So I've had this blog for several years. And as near as I can tell, no one has visited it. So I think I'm safe. Maybe I could try writing something just a wee bit public. Push these lazy fingers. Lay myself out there a bit.

We'll see

What I distrust

I haven't been writing. Because I don't think? Because I'm private? But who is reading this? So I'll proceed and see if I can write.

I just saw a clip of Ronald Reagan and his famous "tear down that wall." I suppose I've come to believe that Ronald Reagan was a good man. And listening to an abridged version (I hesitate to admit) of his biography, I'm also willing to think that he was more accomplished than I gave him credit for. Particularly in being able to articulate his own vision.

But I still can't respond to someone like Ronald Reagan. Even if in the end it turned out better than I might have thought. And certainly, given what I distrust, things have gotten more troubling, not less. (Now I'm thinking about George Bush.) So what do I distrust. A person who trusts an idea, a belief, without submitting that idea, that belief, even a "gut feeling" if that's what it is, to inquiry, thought, investigation, skepticism. I just can't trust belief. And it's not that I trust reason or thought either. But human animals do have the ability to reason. The ability to discover a view of where we are standing, a sense that it's one of many places we might stand. That's what the ability to reason can help to glimpse. Another way things might be. A sense of this place, this context, a horizon. And a horizon, a view, that might just be different. That is what I value. What I try to find. Another way to think about this. Then I have a way of choosing, valuing, my view. Otherwise it's blind. So what I continue to question, to distrust is the true belief, the only belief, the obvious, the one true way. One.

And one that has an easy enemy, an easy other. My husband always tells me this leaves me in a murky, muddled place. But I have worked very hard to get to this murky, muddled place. And I value those things I can still value so much more, living in this place. So I continue to distrust the Ronald Reagans of the world. True believers. Even if kind and benign. I can sometimes admire. I can wish. But I just can't trust. I can't trust trust.