Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Sonnet, Doggonit

Here is a poem that Paul wrote for me when we were both just 17. Can you tell why I was smitten forever?

A Sonnet, Doggonnit

The world has taken television eyes,
Evolved and tutored carefully to see
Those things of beauty they themselves devise,
Which should not mean, of course, but only be.
When Alvin and the Chipmunks sing the blues
And Mickey Mouse is like a Rolling Stone
One wonders what deodorant to use
And whether Spot the cat would like a bone.
A petty prom spins onward, left and right
To flagellate my peace with ponytails
The answers beg for questions late at night
And Jeannie dreams me on my bed of nails.
And though I cannot see or hear or feel,
I think I know that Barbara is for real.


208 Seconds

Today I heard Sully Sullenberger speak at a luncheon, and I was moved. He talked about how the time that elapsed between having the engines go out and landing in the Hudson was 208 seconds, and he said that in some ways he felt like his entire life was preparing for those moments. I’m hoping I’m preparing properly for my own defining moments.

Thinking about “Sister Wives”

It’s like an accident–I know I should turn away, but I can’t help looking. That’s how I feel about “Sister Wives.” I know it’s voyeuristic, I know it’s trashy–but I can’t help watching the show. Part of my fascination is that I am a descendant of polygamists. My great-grandfather, James H. Hart, had three wives. At the same time. He lived in Bloomington, Idaho, and each wife had her own house. Here is a photo of him:

My great-grandmother, Sabina, was the second wife. Just like Kody Brown’s first and second wives, my great grandfather’s first wife could not give him a lot of children–well, she got pregnant a lot, but she either miscarried, or her children were sickly and died in infancy.

I watched Meri, Brown’s first wife, talk about her jealousies of the new fourth wife (Robyn) and I thought of my great-grandfather’s first wife, who had similar emotions when James married my great-grandmother (Sabina). She wrote in her journal “How can I bear it? He promised he would help me bear it.” It makes me cry when I read her journal from that time period. Soon, however, the two women were good friends, although it must have been hard for the first wife to see my great grandmother with her many healthy babies. They seem to have bonded in jealousy when James married wife #3.

So it occured to me, that technically speaking, since only his first wife was his legal wife, that my grandfather was illegitimate–according to the law of the land. How could I have never had that thought before? Perhaps because I know they were such well-intentioned and good people. I don’t think polygamy was an easy choice for them. They were doing it because they truly believed it was what they were supposed to do.

The whole thing is so mind boggling. People doing weird things because they believe God wants them to do them–and because they seem to have believed the more suffering the better! And now I watch “Sister Wives” and wonder how much of what they are doing and feeling was what my ancestors did and felt.

Although I think the practice of polygamy is fundamentally injurious to women and children, I have to look at Kody Brown and his four wives and think that they are happier and more functional than many monogamous families I know. And I have to think that in the same way that laws against gay marriage are unconstitutional, laws against polygamy and polyandry are probably unconstitutional as well–not that I want to participate personally! Just making an observation.

Genuine/ly embarrassing diary entries from 40 years ago

A few weeks ago my friend Hannah came over with her daughter, Libby. Libby told me she likes to explore, and while Hannah and I were talking, Libby found my diary from 40 years ago. It was high on a shelf, and she had climbed up the library ladder and in just minutes found the most embarrassing tome in my home–hey, that even rhymes! Some background. After I graduated from high school, I immediately started college, and at the very first dance, met Mark. Mark was a California boy whose family had a lot of money. By November of that same year, we were engaged (I didn’t say I was particularly smart at that time of my life. And I WAS only 18.) Mark was not really a good husband choice, as my diary entries make so glaringly clear from a distance of so many years. But I figured it out myself by April of that year, and we got unengaged. Aside from the fact that he was gay (and I was so naive that I didn’t notice), he also wasn’t particularly motivated to go to school or study–things also embarassingly obvious from my entries–which I think at the time I saw as documenting our great love affair. So here are some of them:

Nov. 5, 1970

I have a lot to do tomorrow to get ready for the dance–flowers, stockings, etc. I’m very jealous of Kris, so I want to look good when she sees me. I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

[note: I have absolutely no memory of who Kris might be.]

Nov. 6, 1970

Today was the happiest and most exciting of my life (to date). I wore the brown lace dress and it looked great even if I do say so myself. After the dance we went down to Jimba’s. Mark stalled the car on the way down and we had to call Daddy too push us to start it. I had garlic bread–of all the stupid….

[note: Mark’s inability to do anything mechanical, and my reliance on my father seem pretty telling from this vantage point. My anxiety about the garlic bread is self-explanatory]

Nov. 7, 1970

Mark ate dinner with us and then we took his car to the gas station. We went for a drive after, and he told me that last night (Fri.) was the first night that he knew for certain that he loved me and wanted to marry me. I want to. We can’t very soon though. By the time he’s old enough to get married he probably won’t want me.

[note: how pathetic that I was young AND had no self esteem! Further note that he was still having trouble keeping his car running!]

Nov. 19, 1970

I baked Mark a cake for our “5 month anniversary” of knowing each other.

[note: yes, apparently I was one of those.]

November 26, 1970

We went to Knott’s Berry Farm to eat Thanksgiving Dinner. We had our family talk that night. Mark’s father thought he should wait a while. We discussed extensively all Mark’s problems–how depressing. We drove up Sunset Strip. It was beautiful.

[note: see how quickly I went from “all Mark’s problems” to Sunset Strip?]

Nov. 29, 1970

We got to church late because Mark took such a long time to get ready after he wouldn’t get up.

[note: really, now–wouldn’t you think I would start getting a clue?]

December 21, 1970

This morning we went to Brereton’s to get 2 new radial tires. It took forever. He left about 1:30. He was supposed to call–he didn’t. I’m mad at him. I hope he has a good excuse.

Well the whole thing dragged on for several more months until I finally called the whole thing off. I’m going now so that I can put the diary back on the top shelf.