Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hie To Kolob

I think this is the essay I'll use as the final entry for the book. I still have several transition pieces to include and some righteous rants regarding frustrations with the LDS experience, but as I contemplate wrapping up the content of my book I think this story emulates the optimism and opportunity I want to offer to show that there really is life after Mormonism.

A few years ago I applied for a job with a creative advertising firm here in Vegas. The Director asked me to write an essay describing my perfect day, from the moment I awoke to the moment my mind drifted off to sleep for the night.  The director liked my essay and she and her team interviewed me in their very funky offices. I was so excited and they were looking forward to my contributions, but then the economy crashed  and they lost too many clients and could not add me to their staff. I was disappointed but happy that I'd gotten the opportunity to describe my perfect day.

The job is long gone, but the dream lives on. In my new life after Mormonism there are many wonderful things that I can now include that were not part of my limited box of crayons while I was LDS. I get the whole big box of 64 to color my world with now. It's wonderful and exciting. Instead of "Endure to the End" as a tedious mantra to carry us through till death I have "Enjoy to the End" to guide my daily choices. No rules, no limits, no rigid order to dictate what I will enjoy and whom I enjoy it with. 

So here goes, my dream day.

Hie To Kolob...(obscure reference to biblical term of star nearest where God dwells, or Heaven)

The blinders on Brigham and Joseph don't come off till about 7:30 a.m., well after sunrise but a respectable "lazy morning" wake up time. They crow vigorously while their numerous wives echo with little clucks and murmurs. Bill has been up since 5:00 a.m. making sure all the niggling details on our financial accounts are tediously recorded and cross referenced. The sound of the shredder eating yesterday's receipts is like the second snooze call on an alarm clock and I finally toss my legs over the edge of the bed and shuffle into the kitchen.

The coffee pot is on it's second shift and has cooled to a perfect sipping temperature. Bills thick cotton robe feels better than my own and opens just enough to reveal that this old granny still has the boobs of a much younger woman. He fondles me and kisses my forehead, avoiding the morning breath but approving of the messy tousled hair.

I squeeze his bum and marvel that the love just gets better each day. "What's the news lover?", I ask as I turn on my computer. "George Bush and Dick Cheney were indicted today and it looks like they'll be prosecuted for war crimes, profiteering, and wire tapping as well as perjury and other crimes. It looks like their accounts have been frozen and they're going to have to pay reparations to the soldiers and their families, the Iraqis and the American people. I suspect they're finished financially and will spend their days in abject poverty, possibly prison where the CIA will practice water boarding techniques on them till they cough up all their dirty secrets.

The Coal fired Power Plant in Mesquite was converted to solar, wind, and soy based fuel and I heard that President Obama just got the Nobel Peace Prize (wasn't that prophetic!) for negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the rest of the middle east. He left a message on the recorder thanking you for writing his speech.". "Ahhh, mmmm," as I sip my hazelnut flavored Mountain Roast at just the right temperature with my favorite not too thick rimmed mug. All is right with the world with Liberty and Justice for all.

"I traded some summer squash for homemade bread with Joyce. Would you like some toast?", I ask Bill as I pop a couple slices in the toaster. The butter has softened just enough to spread without tearing the perfect crumbly bread as it pops up, filling the air with it's toasty goodness. We revel in the tangy sweetness and warm textures as we gaze out the kitchen window to the herb garden beyond. The bees and butterflies are already hard at work and the shadows of the locust trees are starting to creep west as the sun gets higher over the Utah, Kolobs, dancing across the valley and teasing the warts at the base of Pine Valley Mountain. She spreads her arms around the valley like a big bosomed mama, drawing us close and protecting us from all that is "Out there" in the big wide world.

Holly pops in to pick some fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden for the lunch crowd at her Bistro near the highway. "Good Morning Holly Wally-Doodle-All-The-Day!", I proclaim as she hugs me and reaches to pat Honey (the ambassador of Good Will) on the head. Honey wags her stub erratically and follows Eric and Kevin out the door, running hell bent for the trampoline and playground in the east yard and I smile at my two perfect grandsons, full of life, robust, wild with energy and imagination. I dash to the bedroom and pop on my turquoise smocked sun dress and some fresh cotton panties and floppy hat and scoot into the well worn Birkenstocks by the back door. Holly and I follow Bill to the garage where he's working on yet another Mission Style bookshelf for the art studio above where piles of art and reference books still sit in miscellaneous boxes waiting for daylight to reveal their lovely crisp pages and once again fill me with inspiration and ideas.

"How's the triptych for the shrine coming?" Holly asks as we climb the stairs to the studio. The light from the east and north windows floods the attic and the coral glow on the Kolobs makes the bright green of the rye grass valley below pop like a Maxfield Parrish painting. I place the panels together on the easels and we study them, trying to decide if the narrative is too precious or which leaf needs to be edited. "Why does she have six fingers on her right hand?" asks Holly pointing to the muse.

I bend forward and look closely, counting carefully. "Made you look!!" Holly teases. We hug and our girly giggles fill the room. "It took a while but I'm glad you finally got the city to take down those old satellite dishes and put in underground power lines. It makes the view so much more fantastic this way", she declares as we bask in the reflection of the eastern mountains. The sun is already getting higher and invites us to the garden below where zucchini, squash and tomatoes are propagating like Mormon newlyweds on a Saturday night.

We peruse a few of the more tender and ripe specimens to be used in Holly's famous "Whachagot Stew" at her patio lunch restaurant by the Texaco. "The sauteed summer squash and peppers are selling like  hotcakes", she states, plucking several more buttery yellow crooknecks from the vines. I place a few eggplants and some fat juicy tomatoes in the basket and we head toward her Subaru.

"The boys haven't had a bath yet but I figure they'll just get dirty playing in the yard today anyway."she informs. "They're probably going to get muddy at the creek catching crawdads. I'll give them a bath after lunch before their naps.", I assure her as she calls to them. "You boys be good for Grandma and help her in the garden". She gives them a quick kiss on their curly mops and thanks me for being part of their lives. Little does she know how much I'd grovel to just be included and how warm it feels to have family nearby.

She drives off and I head over toward the old school bus where the boys are planning yet another private "Club". They've written, "No Gorls Aloud, only Gramma" in permanent marker above the door. I eavesdrop on the planning commission. Eric the Older is subjugating Kevin The Fearless One in a classic power struggle. "Well you can be whoever you want but I'm SUPREME DICTATORFOR LIFE!!" declares Eric. A manly war is about to be instigated and true to my nature of peacemaker, I intervene. Distraction is the order of the day and so I delegate some weeding and compost turning to my labor force. "And don't pull out all my carrots this time", I instruct as I send them off for their duties. I glance at the interior of the old bus and it's gaudy pink and blue walls painted in equal parts to reflect the girls and boys halves, with shelves full of old toys, Barbie houses, and costumes from two decades of kids and neighbor kids. The echoes of their playful yelps and silly squabbles, creative games, and zillions of Kool-Aid tea parties still fills the air. "How did I do it all?", I wonder, reflecting on the years of poverty and struggle to raise a family. Honey sidles up to me and begs for a belly scratch. Her old dog odors are pungent but remind me of the years of love and affection that she's brought to our home and neighbors. I know my popularity is only vicarious through her friendliness and eternal puppy hood.

I manage to keep the boys on task for about 45 minutes as we glean the garden for weeds and nasties. They've named the biggest praying mantis "Deloris" after the lady who taught me to read and they're trying to convince her to set up housekeeping in the fort they've made from a coffee can. She resists and scuttles off in the forest of fennel and cosmos to hunt out aphids and squash beetles.

"If you boys will haul all these weeds to the compost and give the bins 10 turns, I'll let you play for a half hr. before we get ready for lunch. It's Kevin's turn to choose, will it be soup and sandwiches or hobo dinners today?", I ask. "POT PIES!!!", Kevin exclaims. I concede (again) and try to remember if I have any left in the freezer. "Didn't we just have Pot Pies on Friday?", I ask, hoping he'll get off his fetish and onto something else.

The pies are almost toasty brown on top when Bill comes from the garage and brings me a strawberry Popsicle from the freezer. "Where do you want to go today?", he asks, kissing me with his cold Popsicle flavored lips. "I've never been to Kiev or the Ukraine", I mumble as my mouth tingles with the tangy iciness of the Popsicle. "Ok, I'll check the weather there and see about what we should wear. Are we staying for dinner?", he asks. "I think it would be nice to try something local and maybe take in a sunset walk in one of the parks. Do you want to do a museum or just people watch this time?", I respond. "If we have time I'd love to see the Folk Art and Architecture museum or the Eastern and Asian art museum.".

The boys gobble their lunch and are busting to go back outside but I entice them with the promise of Grasshopper Slushes if they read for 1/2 hr and then take showers before a short afternoon nap. They relent, shuffling upstairs to the library to fight over the banana chair and "The Big Book of Really Gross Insects". Reading is a misnomer because they're both just looking for the most repulsive and frightening pictures to appall their mother when she returns after the lunch crowd dies down.

We try to rest and get a little cat nap while the boys are restlessly feigning quiet time. I hear the gravel crunch on the driveway as Holly pulls up and I sigh a big breath of relief and help scoot the boys out the door . "You look tired already Holly, was it a big crowd today?". "About the usual. A fire crew came through on their way up the mountain. Crikey those men can eat!!". "Did they like the stew?", I ask. "They nearly licked the bottom of the pot. I used up every single vegetable and all the beef stock in the fridge and then some today." she replied.

"Were the boys good?", she asks. "They are wonderful and so much fun. Eric is Supreme Dictator For Life and Kevin wants to show you the fort they made for Deloris.". "Deloris?", she asks. "Praying mantis", I state. "Oh". They pull her to the garden and show her the coffee can, complete with a chair made from a rock and a beer cap sink for Deloris's private drinking fountain.

Bill and I hop in the shower as Holly and the boys drive off. We've chosen comfy sneakers and loose khaki shorts with big pockets for our passports and wallets. I don my favorite rusty red scoop neck top and snatch a sweater from the closet. "Off we go!!", says Bill as he hits the "Send" button on his Google Earth Nano-cule Transport Blackberry /Ipod/Cellphone/DVD player/pocket sized Time Traveler. Bill has already programmed it for the coordinates in Pirogovo Village near Kiev and we have mosquito repellent, a city map, and our unlimited, 0 interest (forever) MasterCard's tucked tightly into our zippered pockets.

We appear before the gates of an old Ukrainian village where traditional arts and crafts are brightly displayed between the houses and gardens. Bill marvels at the woodworking and craftsmanship in the gingerbread details on each steep roof and porch. I fondle the embroidered aprons and hand tatted doilies, wondering how many long winter nights each incredible art piece took. We spend an hour or so there and then hop on a funky bus full of locals and European tourists heading into Kiev.

The bus rattles into the cobbled streets of old town and we crane our necks trying to catch all the sights of the beautiful ornate stone buildings lining the twisted avenues. We finally end up at, 15 Tereshenkovskaya St., the Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art. It's a beautiful peach colored classical French building with stone balustrades and elegant arched palladium windows. Inside is a double staircase in dark walnut, curling up and up to the floors above. We browse through such world-famous work of Diego Velasquez, The Portrait of Infanta Margaret, and Juan de Zurbaran's still life in the Spanish hall of the museum and through hundreds of other masterpieces collected by Khanenko, the museum collector and curator. Eventually we work our way out to the gift shop and I purchase a large collectors book showcasing many of the collections of the museum. We ask the plump cashier for suggestions on a good dinner location and she directs us to a local favorite called, "Panikovsky".

Bill looks it up on his Blackberry and we find the following brochure....
"The restaurant is a modern and fresh establishment that aims to offer its diners a pleasant eating experience. The original interior is decorated with the objects and furniture of the first decades of the 20th century. The cozy dining hall is not very big, just for 36 guests. The staff is friendly and courteous, and the chef strives to provide an extensive menu in order to ensure that each guest could choose something to his or her taste. The menu, decorated with the funny scenes from the film "Golden Calf" and quotes from the book, offers delicious dishes of Ukrainian and European cuisine's. Dishes are called with pithy expressions from the film that have become popular.

For example, the guests are offered dishes "I Would Take It in Parts, but I Can't - I Need All" (surgeon steak with vegetables), "Everything Will Be Extremely Good" (chicken in bacon with piquant sauce and baked vegetables), "And Suddenly, All at Once" (salmon cooked in champagne, served with fried leek, potatoes and delicious sauce), "Petrol - Yours, Ideas - Ours" (black and red caviar, served with wheat and potato pancakes), "Only for Members of the Trade Union" (baked trout, stuffed with salmon), "After All, Do I Have a Right to Dine?" (Ukrainian borshch with mushrooms and prunes, served with pampushkas (traditional rolls), garlic sauce and cream), "Homer, Milton and Panikovsky" (salad from goose, new potatoes, peppers and cedar nuts) and so on. The wine list, offering 48 items, features wines of France, Italia, Spain, Chili, South African Republic, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine. There is a large screen in the corner of the dining hall, so if you like you can choose some popular soviet film and enjoy the charm of the naivete and optimism of the past. In the extensive film collection you can find "Twelve Chairs", "Golden Calf", "Chapaev", "Volga Volga", "Circus", "Mimino", "Maxim Perepelitza" and many more. At the restaurant, which is situated in the premises of the Split Casino, always reigns welcoming and festive atmosphere. "

We order "Everything Will Be Extremely Good" and share it while Bill orders a glass of Moldavian wine. I savor the chicken and veggies and the garlic from the pampushkas sits on the side of my tongue, making me thirsty for more as we watch the last of Volga Volga on the big screen. The locals are merry with wine and food and the banter of vigorous Russian conversation fills the air. We don't need to understand the language to know that these people have passion and dreams and lots of ideas about how to make the world a better place. Talk of politics is thick in the air, but so is music, literature, history,art and culture. Bill and I bask for a while, watching the people interact and remembering what it was like when we still had idealism and optimism to guide our youthful energy. The comfort of being just slightly past all that angst, set enough in our ways and saggy enough to be settled into the bodies we've acquired worked like an old blanket over us and we felt warm and at one with another. The sun was starting to set in the northern hemisphere with just a hint of green northern lights dancing on the horizon.

We swipe our cards leaving a generous tip for our waiter and then saunter out to the street. It's still busy with traffic and people and a robust night life is just getting started. The Dnepr River is nearby and we stroll arm in arm along it's grassy banks, taking in the lights and old bridges doppled with pretty potted trees and bright flags. The geraniums and hanging flower baskets sway slightly in the breeze and fill the air with the heady scent of petunias and musky moss covered river rocks. We watch the sun set toward Poland and then when we've had our fill Bill wraps his arms around me and we are instantly transported back to our lovely old home in New Harmony.

The hot tub on the deck is just right tonight. The afternoon thunderstorm and breeze has cleared the sky and the stars are popping out like.. like stars. We step into the tub and I lean back into Bill's chest as he fondles my floating "Orbs of Joy and Pleasure". The hot jets pound our muscles into oblivion. He's a little soft but that is quickly remedied and in a few moments we're ready for a cool shower and to bury our bodies in a cloud of softness on our Memory Foam topper. We both go "Hie to Kolob" and Bill finishes the bliss with a 16 minute back rub, remembering that spot on my lower back that loves to be played like an old timey piano. Soon I've spooned into him and his "Soldier" gives me a thank you nod and we fall blissfully asleep.

I wake up the next morning and realize I've just had the most amazing dream in the world. I'm still smiling when Bill comes in to kiss me goodbye. "Have a good day at work sweetheart", I say as he squeezes my thigh. "I'm going to write back to that one11 place and see if my skills are useful to them. I feel really intimidated and like an middle aged fuddy duddy compared to the crowd there, but it seems like such a cool place to work and I really think I have something to offer". "You never know till you try.", Bill says, encouraging me. I get up and shuffle to the kitchen, pouring some coffee and click on my computer. Holly calls and tells me that she's got a Chemistry test that she forgot to study for. I remind her that all she has to do is pass and graduate and the rest will take care of itself. Keeping her on task is a full time job but its so hard to do when she's "Up there" and I'm down here. Vegas has it's charms and Bills job is great so I'll make the best of it. I think of the cabin and the little town where the world goes away on the weekends. Bliss is relative and can be had where the heart is willing.

I wonder if our Home Owner's Association would mind if I got a couple of chickens?


Donna Banta said...

For some reason this one slipped down my blog roll without me seeing it. Wonderful imagery, and the political fantasies will have me smiling for some time.

Great end for your book -- after all what is life after Mormonism but one long perfect day, or happy ending.

I nominated your blog for best humor blog in the Brodies, btw. I know it's not strictly humor, but it has me cracking up a lot of the time!

Insana D said...

Well GAWLEEEEE! That's just about the nicest compliment anyone could give me Donna!! Thankyou a million times over.

I actually have a lot of short stories that won't fit on this blog theme but are very well loved by the few who have read them.

Now that Christmas is over and I have some time on my hands I'm going to get the final chapters written and start the grueling editing process. I hope to be able to send it out for rejection soon (soon is relative).

Sarah Polier said...

I love this one!!!! I really enjoy reading your blog, but sometimes I miss one cause it wasn't posted on facebook,but maybe it was and I missed it. Enough lolly-gagging now for me its back to work. That son-in-law of yours is a slave driver....

Insana D said...

Thanks for reading it Sarah!! I sure do love your daddy and if he'd get busy and invent a Geo-nano-transporter thingy so we could travel the world I'd be really happy. Till then I will have to settle for a few trips on the motorcycle and some rare trips across the states. It's all good.

We're actually considering becoming a truck driving team. There's a school in Cedar that trains for a fairly low cost and several companies located in St. George that hire new drivers. It's one way to see the U.S. and maybe we could get a scooter or something to use when we're waiting for a load or something.

I hope you and Jake will be as well suited as your daddy and I are. There's nothing more important than having a good marriage.

Sarah Polier said...

I could see you and Dad doing the truck driver thing, I think it would be kinda cute!! So far Jake and I seem pretty well suited for each other and I know things just keep getting better! If Dad ever does invent one of those Geo-nano-transporter thingies then we want to use it too!!!

Donna Banta said...

Insana D -- did you see? Both of our kitten posts got Brodie awards!!! Should we co-author a thank-you letter to BKP and post them? ;-)

Insana D said...

I'd love that Donna!! I think you and I are peas in a pod and could definately write some hilarious dual Sister Slander. You say when and where and I'm there!

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