Clint will have a conference in Italy this March, so we're starting to plan how I can go with him for a long overdue vacation. Usually this meeting is in the midwest, but a five years ago it was held in Mexico City. My mom and sister watched the kids so I could go. What follows is an unfortunately true account of one of my adventures there. I can't wait to see what happens in Italy.
Mexico City has excellent public transportation. The Metro is clean, efficient, and cheap. For dos pesos you can go anywhere in the city. If only Mexico had a public restroom system to match.
None of the common spaces, the Zocolo, the gardens, have restrooms. The Metro and bus stations have pay restrooms. For one or two pesos, you get admittance and two squares of toilet paper. Once inside, wading through puddles, and debris, faced with a bare tank, no toilet seat, you wonder where your money has gone. None of the public pay baños have toilet seats. Are they stolen? Were they too expensive to buy in the first place?
And do not think the state described is just at the end of a long day before the janitors arrive. I paid my pesos at the second class bus station in Oaxaca City and entered the restroom at the same time as an attendant with a broom. A few minutes later, we left at the same time, with no discernible change in the room’s condition. The many guidebooks I’d read before our trip left me entirely unprepared for the bathrooms of Mexico. But the resourceful tourist notices these things not long after leaving the airport and adjusts plans accordingly. If only it weren’t for Montezuma’s Revenge.
We were in the first class bus station, just off one of the Metro lines, when the need struck. And there were two restrooms; free and pay. Being new to the city, I had already used my small change on the metro, and chose the gratis. It was a dismal gray room, empty but for me and the ubiquitous ineffectively sweeping janitor. I chose the only stall not clogged and overflowing and locked the door behind me. Now, it can be difficult to crap in the woods when you’re socialized from toddlerhood to use the porcelain bowl, but I have, and I can, and I felt confident in my ability to overcome socialization to do what must be done. But despite the wringing turmoil of my much distressed gut, hovering there, with my butt in midair over a truly disgusting stainless steel bowl, I was unable. Perhaps it was the sound of sweeping. Whatever the reason, I knew that I could indeed wait longer, until I got change, or to the hotel, or even until I left the country.
Thus resolved, I put myself back together, only to discover that the lock was jammed. I tried jiggling, shaking, prizing with my fingernails, all to no avail. Damn airport security! But for them I would have my trusty leatherman in a situation when it might actually be useful. I considered calling out to the janitor “Perdon, pero, la puerta esta cerrado y no puedo la abierta.” But I was too mortified at the thought of revealing my ignorance and ineptitude, so I remained silent. I would have to escape on my own. If only she would leave so that I could do it privately. But after a several interminable minutes passed, during which time I reconsidered, and rejected the thought using the toilet, I decided that I would have to act, humiliating public spectacle or not.
Under the door? Nope, only about six inches between the bottom of the door and the untouchable floor. It would have to be over. I stood on the seatless rim and looked over the stalls. The custodian, still sweeping, was at the other end of the room, looking away. Now or never. I squeezed my bag and hat under the door, hopped up on the toilet (finally serving a purpose), and hoisted myself over the door. As I retrieved my gear, I felt the janitor’s eyes on me. “La puerta no abeirta,” I fumbled. She responded with something along the lines of “Then don’t close it,” but of course that was by now obvious to both of us.
I rejoined Clint outside in the terminal. “Feeling better?” he asked. “I decided to wait.” He raised his eyebrows at that, but mercifully, said nothing.
This morning the kids and I read the passage in Numbers where the daughters of the deceased Zelophedad petition Moses and Eleazar for an inheritance in front of the tent of meeting. The census of all men had been taken to determine how to distribute inheritances and these fatherless women were excluded.
This is a great story. The women were slighted, wronged by an unjust system. So they took their petition to the top. Moses asked God, and God said, “They’re right, this isn’t fair. And while we’re at it, here are the rules for passing on inheritances to the next of kin.”
I think we should follow their example. We can disagree with the status quo without rejecting the Church and the prophets. We can bring our petition to Salt Lake. And it’s possible that God will justify us, say you’re right, that policy should be changed. We do still believe in the possibility of revelation. That should give us hope for change.
The kids had fun this year. Jacob was a dragon tamer. Claire was a vampire. Then, because we didn't get fangs, but she did have a red bendy straw, she decided to be a butterfly vampire with a proboscis. Jacob countered that she should just call herself a mosquito.
Obviously I should have had these up sooner, but I ran out of batteries. You see, the batteries in our wireless keyboard gave up the ghost, so I had to steal the ones from the camera to use the computer. Then I couldn't upload the pictures, and I never remember to buy batteries. Until now. Enjoy!
During our 5th Sunday meeting, the bishop lectured us about not regarding conference Sundays as free days when we get to do fun stuff because there's no church. So for our 3-day holiday weekend, we decided to go camping in the mountains, thus skipping a regular Sunday of church.
Because we'd been apart all summer, this was our first chance to have a complete family vacation. We loaded up our kids and gear, and drove up into the mountains.
The Unitas are high, forested mountains dotted with glacial lakes. We parked at the trailhead just past Trial Lake and hiked our gear in about a mile to Cliff Lake where we set up our base camp. It was a fairly steep climb. We hadn't yet gotten Claire's pack adjusted correctly, so her center of gravity was way too high, and Clint had to spot her so she would fall over backwards.
As we finished pitching our tents it started raining After that, the weather was beautiful. The kids enjoyed scrambling on the rocks and climbing up the cliffs. Isaac puddle-stomped like crazy, soaking though all of his pants at least twice. We had close encounters with free-ranging black cattle and bold little chipmunks. Jacob and Claire learned how to use the little orange shovel. (Does a Claire crap in the woods?)
We even built a fire one night. Clint taught Jacob and Claire about the constellations. Jacob told the creation story from Norse mythology, and not to be outdone, Claire started in on Greek mythology and the titans. All I had was "It was a cold, cold night, in December. And Brigham Young and Brigham Old sat sitting 'round the campfire..."
It was a great trip. We learned several things:
1. Everyone needs good shoes, preferably waterproof, and wool socks. (I was the only one with happy feet on that cold, wet morning after the previous day's rain.)
2. Isaac needs his own sleeping bag.
3. We need to take the kids on more practice hikes with all of their gear strapped to their backs.
4. Toothbrushes. But the hairbrush was not even missed.
5. Better clothes would be nice too--comfortable, quick-drying pants for all and good parkas for the kids.
We've needed a little nightstand for the kids' bedroom to go in between their beds. Today I found an old school desk at D.I. that I thought would just fit. I brought it home, cleaned it up, took it apart, painted it and put it back together, all before the kids got home from school. It fits perfectly!
I used spray paint that had been just sitting in the basement for the metal base and legs. I was careful to tape over the cool chrome plates at the base of the legs. I painted the desk part yellow for the base coat, then the gold on top. The gold matches the wood front edge of the desktop. The wood top I sanded and painted with the latex chalkboard paint. In a week or so, they can start coloring on it with chalk if they want. Because I already had the paint, the total expenditure for this afternoon project is $8. Good times.
Jacob is going to 4th grade. He is in a technology classroom, where each desk has an iMac and computer use in integrated into the curriculum. His teacher is incredibly organized, which should be great for Jacob.
Claire is in 2nd grade. Her teacher had been the music teacher. She runs a more open and flexible classroom. And Claire already knows a friend in her class from church.
As long as I can remember, I wanted to do yoga. Even growing up in a tiny Texas town, knowing nothing about yoga, I had a sense that it was something I wanted to learn about and do. I finally got my chance at the La Jolla YMCA after I had Claire. I loved it from the first class. After a year or two, I went to a 200-hour Yoga Alliance accredited yoga teacher training program. I loved that too. Then I started teaching adults and preschoolers. It was great.
When we moved to New York, instead of teaching professionally, I practiced yoga on my own, keeping strong and flexible and focused during pregnancy and the year post partem. I volunteered at our church branch, teaching first on Saturdays, and then during early morning seminary for seminary moms and other relief society sisters willing to get up. I loved seeing the women develop in strength and confidence.
Now that we've moved to Provo, I'm once again practicing on my own. I'm looking forward to teaching again. Getting a paying job would be nice, but I'm more excited about sharing yoga with those who would otherwise not be able to practice, seeing others benefit from something I love.
I'm not sure how I could have known I would like yoga, when I had only heard of it, vaguely. I'm grateful I found it, because it is part of who I am.
Today, thanks to hours of babysitting provided by Cheryl and my sister-of-awesomeness Cait, I got to go the Sunstone Convention for the first time. I had so much fun! I enjoyed listening to the papers that were presented, I've got a whole new list of authors and books to check out, and some novel ideas to mull over.
I met several of the bloggernacle regulars whose distinctive voices I've come to recognize. I fell in with the group from Feminist Mormon Housewives and had lunch in Pioneer Park with them and the contingent from Zelophedad's Daughters. It was a pleasure to meet in person so many intelligent and articulate people who run the gamut from readers like myself to bloggers to scholars. I even found a fellow yoga practitioner from Orem. Three cheers for new friends!
I'll be home with the kids tomorrow morning, cooking and cleaning so everything will be in order when I leave them again in the afternoon. (I don't want to imagine what state the house would be in if we were gone to all the sessions 8 a.m.-10 p.m. three days in a row. Shudder.) I'm sorry to miss the morning sessions, but it's already been better than I could have hoped.
I'm collecting notes and sketches. I'm feeling more energized in my interest in church history and feminism (not necessarily related topics). I can't wait to look through the bookstore they have set up. This has been a great perk of moving back to Provo.
Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. Since I'm in Utah, but Clint's still in New York, we can't do anything together. So I decided to celebrate by coloring the children. Why not? It's fun, out of the ordinary, and a great thing to do on a special summer day. (Isaac and Claire colored his arms while Jacob was getting his done. I think if I hadn't put the body crayons away, he'd be completely covered by now. Which would be fine as long as he didn't touch any fabric or upholstery.)