Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Why Quitters Sometimes Win, Part 2

Throughout my time in the M*rmon church, there were other incidents that led me to question the truthfulness of the doctrine that was presented to me. I thought that I could eventually reconcile the unsettling beliefs generated by the church - the racist doctrine and mythology that taught the creator of all things might play favourites with one skin colour, the sexist dogma that insisted that women were equal to men in positions of subservience and had no choice in the matter within the organization, the pressure to procreate beyond a family's financial or emotional means, a lack of desire to engage with the wider world (in the world but not 'of' the world) except in the context of proselytizing and the competitive righteousness that was firmly ingrained in the congregations' collective understanding of heaven, hell and every level in between. I knew by the time I was twelve what kinds of offenses would get you into which level or kingdom of heaven, and which ones would get you banished into outer darkness for time and all eternity.
Growing up in the 80's and having the horrors of World War II pounded into us, we all assumed that Ad*lph H*tler would have had his boots, jodhpurs and mustache fixed firmly in hell, but a quick check on a few Google sites, yesterday, assured me that, indeed, Mr *itler had had all his temple endowments done for him and would have the opportunity to enjoy the highest kingdom of heaven, at some stage. Whether this was a hoax perpetuated by anti-M*rmon sources, or whether the documentation was, indeed, generated by the London temple still gives me pause for thought. Would I really want to belong to an organization that has so overtly given the option of salvation to a mass murderer, when I cannot even hope to attain the same? If the Hitler temple documentation is not really true and anti-M*rmon sources have created a hoax to discredit the church then shame on them, the church has enough controversy to bring it to its knees. The racism I experienced as a youth and young adult against my friends was enough to seal the deal for me. I grew up among the Lamanites and counted them as my friends. I couldn't understand why they had such a raw deal on the reservations until I learned that they were constantly being punished by god for their iniquitous history. Hey, that makes sense and absolves me of any guilt or responsibility! Their darkened skin was a result of rebellion shortly after they arrived in the Americas, from the Middle East. Cough, cough. They would have a series of chances to 'lighten up' if they turned towards god and gave the Nephites a chance to save them with the only true gospel and a sweet little program called Indian Placement. Seriously folks, I learned that my friends were inferior not only in the eyes of the government, but also in the eyes of god. Problem was, in my head most of the Navajo actually had their sh*t together a lot more than I did. The Navajo friends I had gone to primary school with who had the missionaries around to convert them almost always did a few years away in Arizona or Utah with a white M*rmon family. The idea was that their education would have been supplemented by living in an English-speaking family and that their salvation would have been overseen by a priesthood-holding bunch of M*rmons. The reality was that they often returned to the reservation having forgotten their language and had been left out of important family events. I don't know if their education improved as a result, but I seriously doubt it. The doctrine taught to the white seminary students who remained behind was that our Lamanite friends would return whiter and more delightsome in the eyes of god. Who needs to know that H*tler is hanging out with Jesus now? If the N*zi connection with M*rmonism bears out as truth then the wider world will know what I've been convinced of, for years.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Soundtrack of Your Life

One of the things in common that my SO and I share is our love for music. About six weeks ago J took an introductory filmmaking course and it was during that time that I confessed that I composed 'soundtracks' in my head, to accompany my daily events - like walking Tendy down to the shops in Brixton or looking out the window whilst riding on a train. I hear a song and 'see' potential camera shots in my head. I can only assume that others do it too. SO and I agreed that there were certain songs that defined periods in our lives, by bringing back poignant memories and emotions. Songs that we listened to over and again whilst playing, eating, rollerskating/rollerblading/skateboarding (this dates me, I'm sure), songs that were playing while we were having a bit of a teenaged grope at dances or clubs, or just hanging out with mates and turning up the volume to 11...
Some of my earliest memories of enjoying music came from listening with my parents, who owned quite an interesting mix of folk, country, classical and pop records (again, my parents' music also dates me). Cat Stevens, Carole King, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kingston Trio and Bach gave me a foundation to enjoy the sounds of lyrics and notes from a variety of musical genres. I cannot go a day without listening to music and my house is often filled with impromptu sessions when J and I break out the CDs or plug in the ipod and lend our ears to each other's new favourite songs.

I'm sure you see a pattern emerging on my blog; I have a tendency to fill the gaps with music videos when I'm grasping for something to say, where others might use a meme. The music I put on my blog isn't meant to bore the reader - I'm happy to do that with my writing alone. I've been reluctant to share too many details online, but I hope that by listening to a bit of my world that, somehow, you will get to know bits of the real me at the end of this computer.

I know that musical tastes can vary from person to person but I would really love to know what your 'life soundtrack' would have on it. Say you limit it to 10 or 12 songs that reflect your personality or experiences at various times in your life. If that seems too complicated, then just pick a CDful (yes, that's a word I made up just now, and I'm keeping it) of your favourites and list them with your comments or blog post, if you feel so inspired. I'm sure this counts as a meme, somehow, but I think that the music that moves and shapes gives as much insight into the personality as any confession could.

Here are mine:

1. Peace Train - Cat Stevens : ages 5-10. My parents had Teaser and the Firecat and I adored every track on this album, but a cover of this song, done by Natalie Merchant before she knew that CS had converted to Islam, sealed this as my favourite. I remember doing cartwheels down the hallway while this record was playing on the stereo, in the middle of summer and I especially love the intonation of "Peace train, ho-ly roll-er, everyone jumpuponthepeacetrain" get the drift?
2. Kids in America - Kim Wilde : Junior High. What can I say about this song? I loved it and I had a huge crush on KW (though I would have never admitted it at age 13). It was great to dance to and it had a good beat, Dick. I'm giving this song an 8 outta 10!
3. Big Time - Peter Gabriel : High school. I obviously had ideas above my station to identify with the lyrics... I wish I had been one of those kids who took all the energy she had in feeling displaced and misunderstood and had done something spectacular with it. I've been living a bit of an insular life for the past twenty years, which is mostly okay but difficult to get out of when you really want to do something that requires the belief of others standing behind you. When I hear this song, however, I think there were a few key opportunities that I didn't take because I was scared and feeling unworthy and I wish I had disregarded that angst and really been "on my way" and "making it". I still love this song because it's a youthful, two-fingered salute to the entropy of small town life.
4. Over the Hills and Far Away - Led Zepplin : High school/college. The melodic beginning turns into a dervish of vocal, guitar and drum genius by Plant, Page and Bonham. It's just a brilliant song that brings back memories of finding my feet as a young adult, and speaks to a romantic and nomadic nature I thought I possessed.
5. Down In It - Nine Inch Nails : early Boston years. I think I fancied myself a tortured soul. There were a few years where my behaviour was a bit sketchy and I found myself in some situations that seemed quite remarkable, at the time. However, looking back I feel more lucky to have weathered them with few or no consequences. Some of my friends weren't so lucky.
6. Mother, Mother - Tracy Bonham: This videois worth a watch. In the same vein as NIN, it encapsulates the feelings of youth simultaneously trying to break away and be independent whilst still struggling to find their next meal. I remember working in a train station from 6am to 2pm, making minimum wage and blowing most of my paycheck down at the pub, trying to forget that my life was a bit miserable. Oh, and the fact that I think most daughters have strained and strange relationships with their mother, makes TB's song a must-have on my life sountrack.
7. Are you getting bored, yet? I'm thinking that I'll save the last six for another day. Enjoy this last vid - it's the English subtitles that I dig. It's saying what I think most of us are saying through our blogs...

Thursday, 10 January 2008

This One's for Wry...

I have a preference for somewhat thrashy music. I love a good guitar intro and hook. This song has both, I believe, and everytime I hear it, the title reminds me of my favourite Shwissy ex-pat

The song is called, "Am I Wry? No." It's by a band called Mew Frengers, who are Danish/Swedish/Norwegian...well, Scandanavian. I bought the CD based on the cover, which has a young girl dressed in a matador's got a few good songs on it. This one is good to clean house to - the vacuuming gets done lickety-split with thrashy-esque music. Notice the especially pouty lead singer; love him, he's gorgeous.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

A New Year, Same Ol' Me

Here I am. Feeling quite good about 2008. I've loved the number eight since I was eight years old. I tell myself that it's because the first letter of my first name is the eighth letter of the alphabet: H (Aitch). Before that time, I had picked the number six and held firmly onto it through my seventh birthday (in case you were wondering whether I was fickle and picked successive numbers according to my year), I loved 'six' until the summer's day when my dear cousin informed me that it was, indeed, the favourite number of Beelzebub. Shock. Horror. Those Southern Baptists ground their truth into me sure enough as the Mormons did. I promptly dropped six and I've been running with eight as my lucky number since that time.

I've not got any resolutions, at least not any that haven't been made and broken before. I've got a determination, if you will, to be mindful. I'm going to be mindful of how much I eat, drink and have sex. I'm determined to do less of some and more of others and mind less that others may or may not be able to do more or less of what I've been mindfully determined to do...or not do. Ehem.

Roll on 2008, let's see what you've got.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Free From Fear

Sister Mary Lisa has had some guest posts on her blog as of late, writing about what they would do if only they were free from fear. I thought I would share one of my favourite songs of the moment, aptly titled 'F.E.A.R.', by the singer that put 'man' in Manchester, Ian Brown. Here is 4:05 minutes' worth of another perspective of fear -