Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Once Upon a Dream

This, as you no doubt guessed, is TOTALLY me.

They're on to us, girls. The High Beams of Reality have rounded the Blind Curve in the Blogway, and we're caught square on the Grill Work of Public Scrutiny like the Bunnies of Badly Capitalized Similes.

I know. It's like I was reading your minds, huh?

We were doing so well, too. Keeping our perfect little secret all to our perfect little selves. And then this article appeared in Salon.com, about how the writer - a self-proclaimed twenty-something over-educated atheist feminist clavichordist ... um ... lepidopterist ... OK, I really can't remember all the groovy things this gal is, but she's got "ists" out the wazoo - loves reading blogs written my Mormon women. It's very nicely written, and if you squint just so you can pretend that a few of the observations there (like a quote from "G," who says, "I'm just jealous! I want to arrange flowers all day, too!" or the suggestion that "Mormon blogs are an escapist fantasy, a way to imagine a sweeter, simpler life") are well intentioned compliments, and not subtle slams.

She does make it sound like reading Mormon women's blogs is a bit like visiting Disneyland, only to discover someone actually living in Sleeping Beauty's castle.

Of course, in this case, Sleeping Beauty is home-schooling all seven dwarfs and running an online etsy shop where she markets her hand sewn gowns to Belle and the gang.  For his part, Prince Wide-Awake Handsome is Elders Quorum president, finishing law school, and using a machete to keep those castle-climbing briars at bay.

I mean, duh.  That's exactly how it is.  I have no problem with this article, or with the ... let's see ... dodecaphonist who wrote it.

(Note:  I'm not what you would call over-educated, but I know what that word means.  I wonder if they'll let me back in church next Sunday.)

In fact, I don't have a problem with any of it.  The author is pleasant and positive, and I hope she swings by here some time. I think she'd have a lot of fun with all of us and besides, she's totally nut-shelled my life. 

But I had to share this one comment with you (posted by jbrockd), because it marks the beginning of the end of the elaborate hoax we've evidently been pulling on the 'real' world for 180 years:

"If you scan those blogs, you will quickly see the professional photography. That strikes me first. But almost as striking is the in-your-face product placement. The large shots of Costco or Ikea. The peppering of links to purchase the professionally photographed clothes and other products.

If their lives seem like a catalog, that's because those blogs are a catalog. I'm not especially savvy, but those are blatant, professionally produced Internet marketing-style product catalogs." 

Oh, man.  There goes my product placement contract with Mormon Vegas Hotties, which sponsored this professionally produced photo of Kristina and me:


And I guess I have to return all the kickbacks from the makers of Snickers, who I know are going to be totally frosted to learn that this exquisite, amateur rendering of what happens to their product when the First Lady comes to town and makes everyone wait in the Red Rock visitors' center parking lot until she and her entourage finish their club sandwiches back at the Holiday Inn - has now been outed as having been secretly taken by a pro.  I may even get sued.  Thanks a lot, jbrockd.



Tell me this isn't damn near the finest portrait of Michelle Obama you ever clapped eyes on. 
This baby won me my first Pulitzer.

And, jbrockd, you got me dead to rights.  Anyone who read this particular post about falling down in public, or this one where I discovered that crushing on Orlando Bloom made me a lesbian, or this more recent post about the way I keep my perfect bod in top form, will tell you we ALL have to submit head shots, resumes, and portfolios before we're allowed anywhere near the gourmet cupcake table.

Sheesh.

Now, all kidding aside (Ha! Just kidding.  Around here there is no such thing as 'all kidding aside'.) I suppose it's up to me to clarify to the world that, between trying to keep up with the Duggars and regular auditions to join the Sister Wives, we blogging Mormon women simply do not have time to fake our web sites.  What you see is what you get.  No catalogues.  No fantasies.  No surreptitious product placement arrangements.

Read enough blogs, you'll see we're just like all of you.  Our husbands are occasionally Grumpy.  We spend much of our time Sleepy.  We're not gonna lie; at one time or another we're convinced all of our children are Dopey. And when allergy season fills my house with six versions of Sneezy or I'm running low on Pristiq, the last thing I'll be is Bashful about cozying up with Doc.

We're also, for the most part, Happy.  We don't apologize for that.  Feel free to drop by any time for a slice of warm bread (I'll nuke the Wonder, just for you) and a dose of 'positive spin' on the complexities of your lives.  

Just, please, remember to wipe your feet before you come into the castle.

31 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I'm anxiously awaiting the next cover of Playgirl with that hot, sexy picture of us!

I've been following this controversy, if you will, and I definitely see both sides. I don't feel like those blogs are fake. But I do think some of them are very idealistic. There are a couple well known Mormon Mommy Bloggers, that I just don't feel I relate to, and while I'm sure we would get along, would have nothing in common with.

Weirdly enough, it's difficult to find women who share Hoff and Snuggie obsessions, and plot to destroy the earth and babies. I had no idea.

Patty Ann said...

Love it!! I am so far from perfect that I am sure it would shock anyone who really knew me to think that anyone could possibly think those things. If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is that church is for the sinners and not the saints. Therefore, we are all just a little far from perfect. I wish my photos were professional, that would mean that I would totally be making the big bucks because I take them all myself, and I could so use rich and famous right about now.

Garden of Egan said...

Well, I am so glad that you have clarified all that I have wondered about us Mormon blogging people.

Now, about that slice of wonderbread.

Momza said...

Hey DeNae,
thanks for the heads-up on the article. I went and read it and quite a few pages of the comments.
I came away feeling like everything I could contribute had already been said eloquently and thoroughly by other MMBs. I loved that so many positive comments were by our sisters. The point was made clearly:
WE KNOW WHO WE ARE. That's enough to warm my heart like homemade bread and honey butter smeared all over it. Mmmmm good.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You would nuke a slice of Wonder for me? You ARE a saint. I can see why people don't think you're real. Too good to be true, DeNae, just too good. Love your humorist essay guts.

wendy said...

Once I thought I saw 2 girls....who looked just like you 2, hanging around that street corner. Hmmmmmm

who the hell is this woman. Oh yeah, she is the childless, overeducated, atheist, feminist. thats quite a title.

I mean, I am totally happy for anyone "living the dream" of happy ever after in their shiny castle, and all the animals singing little "glee" songs to them all day long.

whew, not my world.
she said "we" have lovely homes...well ok, albeit a constant fight in mind to control the tracked in hay, doggies footprints, and occasional horse poop caught in some shoe.
Picture perfect kids......my hat's off to all of you who have that. I just lost one to drug and alcohol addiction. Not so picture perfect.
Super attentive husbands....ok, sure, works for me cause I keep rotating them (tee,hee...sorta)

I am not sure if she is making fun of US or seriously intrigued.
but if you looked at my last blog post, you'd see my baking skills are such the dog won't even eat it. And I don't even know where I have a needle and thread around here.

I think we as Mormom mommies do have a goal to keep trying to do "it" better.
Should we fake it till we make it.
Or be REAL with each other, and be a little more willing to help each other with the journey.

gotta go, I am sure there is a bluebird singing on my window sill about now.......And my husband needs his sword polished. (ooops)

MommyJ said...

I read the article too. And I'm glad Momza read comments and reported that there are some good ones there.

As for perfection? Oh, please. I'm sure there are blogs out there written by Mormon women that are shallowly full of hearts and rainbows and fairy tales. But see, I wouldn't know cause, um, I'm not shallow, so I don't read that crap. I think you can tell when people are pretending. For a blog to be really good, to draw readers in, there has to be a certain level of sincerity in it. That doesn't mean you have to bear your heart and soul about everything in your entire personal life, you just have to be sincere in what you do put out there. You have to be sincerely funny. Or sincerely optimistic. Or sincerely honest about the crappy day that you just had. Or whatever.

I think I'm getting sidetracked. Back to the article... I'm going to make a blanket statement here and say that I'm guessing there aren't many Mormon bloggers out there who spend a lot of time reading blogs written by atheist feminists. For that reason, I find it intriguing that this woman would have such a fascination with reading blogs written by women so entirely different from herself. Except, maybe it really isn't all that odd. Mormon women in general (another blanket statement) know who they are, and are, for the most part, happy.(Or at the very least, happier?) That alone makes us unique and well, yes, even fascinating.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I think sometimes people are really obvious about what they're secretly trying to sell but I can't believe he saw right through my money-making poop brick scheme. This guy is GOOD.

L.T. Elliot said...

Op! Better break out the "red" pill. Time to put everyone back under the spell. Maybe you could help me dump it in the water towers? Faster distribution, that.

Read the article. Mulling THAT one over. Read some of the comments. Yeah...where did we put those red pills?

Hel said...

I meant to comment last night after i read this, but promptly fell asleep.

I had just finished reading about 25 pages of those comments and I went from completely annoyed to crying from laughing so much (my favourite was about our special underwear).

I'm with Kristina. My last blog purge saw all those extra special shiny blogs leave my life because I couldn't find anything in common with them. All they did was make me feel inadequate about my life even though I told myself daily that it was only a small representation of their lives. So I understand why people think they are a PR stunt for somebody, but like you say.... we don't have the time or energy to fake our lives (mostly ;D)

I pretty much laughed until I almost wet my pants every time I looked at dear Michelle Obama's picture. It's a good thing you survived my blog purge.

Becca said...

You know, I read that article but not the comments. And I saw the article as a sincere woman's view of a culture that on the outset looks familiar, and on the inside feels desirable.

Maybe I am being naive. That happens.

But I think she really does have an honest fascination with what makes Mormon women, at least in their public personas, seem happy. And I'm for it.

Especially when it's real.

And I love how you're real.

Brandy Rose said...

That is one lucky street pole!

Twinmomwv said...

This woman has obviously never read Jana over at The Meanest Mom.

While I may not be "over-educated," I am educated and value college degrees as much as my non-Mormon associates.

I believe that MMBs run the same gamut as scrapbooks. There are those that only want to remember the sunshine and rainbows and paint the glossy picture of perfection and there are those of us who are blatantly honest to our audiences about the nitty gritty muddy footprints running through our homes.

I read some of the comments and am thankful that there are other MMBers who were able to point out our reality much more eloquently than I ever could.

As for having 4 kids before the age of 29, I did and Hubby was in law school at the time. But he was never home, also working on his MBA, and we felt more like ships passing in the night than the picture of wedded bliss.

As for Utah having the highest anti-depressant prescription rate, could it be possible that it's linked to the higher birth rate and gee, I don't know, post-partum depression?!

T said...

yep, that's me - the pro-photographer, product-hawking, etsy-selling, kick-back-hoarding, flower-arranging, home-school-teaching wonder woman of the year.

PFffffft...

obviously these people are not reading my blog :)

The Lewis Family said...

I think I should start a blog about being a Mormon mom in the navy...that would burst everyone's bubble...but since I'm sure I'm the only one maybe I shouldn't pop the bubble that way.

Hey, I love reading your posts, they always make me laugh.

Lisa said...

I read gobs of the comments, too. Toward the end, it seems the ugliest people had fallen asleep and were no longer able to throw their f bombs, so things took on a more polite tone, generally speaking.

If only I had my professional blog photographer here to capture the essence of ME right now~typing a comment to you~heat miser hair~stained pink bathrobe~newspapers strewn with partially completed Sudoku puzzles~but really, really beautiful copper fingernails that I just painted yesterday. Clearly catalog material. I hope my words did it justice.

Becky said...

This is my favorite of your recent posts. <3 (even if I DID have to look up dodecaphonist).

Qait said...

Perfect! That was awesome.

Kazzy said...

You tell 'em, Snow White!

We are even peculiar online. Who'da thunk it?

Ashley said...

*giggle*

Ahem

Having just now found your blog, I'm thankful that there are others out there like me. I read those perfect blogs but then I tend to go back to my piles of unfolded laundry, sink full of dishes and a set of kids ( yes we are stopping at two kids even though I'm only 27) that eat paper and can't do algebra yet. They may never get into kindergarten.

I tried the sunshine and roses approach for a while. Felt myself get depressed because the perfect life I was writing about wasn't mine.

Also, for the record, "depressed" doesn't mean you're unhappy. And taking meds for it is a part of being encouraged to care for your body.

Signing out MMB in her spit up covered bathrobe. And I refuse to put anything with birds in my hair, thank you very much.

Hilary said...

That is HILARIOUS about the product placement. Too funny.

Cheeseboy said...

Oh great. Now I am going to have to go out and buy a machete. And start law school.

And I tried to product place, but Google ads banned me for life. FOR LIFE! I should totally call the EQ Pres about that.

I think this article was written by the wife of the BYU athletic director.

(he, he, he. Let the sparks a fly)

charrette said...

SO AWESOME! I saw that article and loved your response to it here. Can't wait now to read your response to Tiger Mom. (Just sayin')

Love you!

p.s. No closet full of vintage dresses here, and not a craft in sight either, but I DO have a super-cute designer hubby with square frame glasses! :)

annie valentine said...

You were making your point so well until the Relief Society President showed up with her Sleeping Beauty Object Lesson. No one is that brilliant without a team of professionals behind them.

Karen Peterson said...

Wow. I had no idea it was a controversy. I thought I was the only that caught onto this writer's sarcasm.

Kaylie said...

You know, that cake the lady's holding? I'm thinking it's about to slide right off that plate.

LisaFisa said...

Hello! I discovered the brilliant funny of your blog from my mission president's (Boam) daughter and friend Christy, and I've been reading it for several months now. . .because it *is* real, and funny, and sarcastic, and sometimes a little bit irreverent (hee!).

This was a great post, but I just have to comment that I was a *little* surprised by it. It seems that many of the reactions of Mormon Moms to Emily's article was to be a little bit defensive . . .that our Mormon Mom lives are not perfect, not all the time cute, we *don't* arrange flowers all day, and darnit, we do have real problems!

(Part 1)

LisaFisa said...

In my experience, most Mormon Mom blogs are very normal, kind of boring, and only interesting if you know the Mom personally. But there is something different in the "popular" crowd of blogs that Emily's article referenced. We can't therefore prove that these popular blogs have great appeal just because the women who write them are Mormon. I think it's because the women who write these popular blogs have an interesting, creative, artistic, photographic, or other unique, etc. way of presenting their already good lives.

(And I think that they have good lives in spite of the problems that they have, and in spite of what religion they belong to - they seem to really have good lives).

It seems to me that the point Emily was making was that the common theme among their good and interesting lives is that they are Mormon, and the message of the Mormon faith is so different from her own, that reading these blogs is so intriguing to her on so many levels.

She said that these Mormon Mom lives seem “. . .fun. Easy. Joyful. . . .untouched by cynicism." Those adjectives, as describing the majority of Mormon women, I think most of us would agree, are true - again, in spite of the daily challenges we face. Even if and when we are in the middle of some serious struggles, because of the blessing of the Gospel, we can find joy, and things that are fun, and things that are easy. Because of those blessings, we strive to find more meaning in life than what faces us on a daily basis.

(Part 2)

LisaFisa said...

In Emily's world (as I understood it), there is more of a focus on reality - focusing on the way things are right now, instead of how they *could* be.

I guess I want to express that I don't think any Mormon woman (or man) should be bothered or upset by the way Emily (and others like her) view our neck of the woods. We shouldn't feel like we have to defend ourselves - (we're not just cute! We don't arrange flowers all day! We have problems, too, darnit!). We should be excited that someone can look at a slice of these amazing blogs and yearn for those simpler blessings the Gospel affords (and a good life provides), in spite of the fact that that person wouldn't ever be in a position in this life to embrace that common religion (but hopefully it's preparing them to embrace it in the next life?).

One last observation. . .I find it very peculiar that no one, in any of the comments or blog reactions to her article that I've read, mentioned the Seriously, So Blessed! blog. Tamn is trying to help Mormon women take it down a notch by not taking ourselves and the blessing of the Gospel so seriously that we lose sight of reality, and our place in the larger world outside of our blessed Mormon walls.

(Sorry this is so long. . .)

Again, I loved the funny of your post in reaction to Emily's article, but I guess I just wanted to throw my 2 (long) cents in. . . (I do realize I'm pretty late to the party, and no one will probably read this anyway. . .har).

(Part 3)

DeNae said...

Well, this has been an interesting dialogue! LisaFisa, welcome to the mix. I can only speak for myself, but I do hope that what you got out of my post with regards to what Emily is saying is that I was just fine with it, although not naive enough not to recognize the little jabs (like saying she is married to an "ex-saint" and having "no delusions" about what life as a Mormon is like.)

I think our problem, ironically, tends to be one of identity. We may "know who we are" better than many, but even then it's more along the lines of "knowing who we can become". That whole 'divine potential' thing. And it leaves us feeling inadequate at times and uber empowered at other times.

Which also means that sometimes we're ready to own the image of 'simple, domestic bliss' and others we want to let the universe know that it's as hard for us as it is for anyone.

Well, for you guys, anyway. My kids - and my house - went feral years ago.

LisaFisa said...

Good insight, DeNae.

And now you have me singing the song: "But as for me and my house, we went feral long ago. . ." Har!

That is why I love your blog! Always real, sometimes raw, brutally honest, insight-fully funny, and poignantly relevant. Thank you.

Lisa