Evangelical Baby Part 5


Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 5)              

Back at the farm my boyfriend was busy planting beans with his dad’s old 3020 John Deere.  He got in contact with a group of Christian counselors, InterFaith Counseling, and set up an appointment.  I didn’t have any money to pay for our couple’s therapy so he footed the bill.  Oblivious to all this drama was our little girl, suspended in my womb, whirling and twirling as she slowly added cells and fat.

The first and only time I went with my boyfriend to talk to our InterFaith counseling team, a Catholic priest and a Lutheran therapist, they seemed sympathetic to our situation.  But they told me I needed to tone it down a notch, because I was pressuring my boyfriend into marriage and he couldn’t see beyond my anxiety to discover whether or not he truly loved me.

I finally understood what Tina Turner was warbling about.  I was starting to shed any allusions I had about love being the answer.  Actually love was beginning to feel like a high school thing, a second-hand emotion.  There were more important things to consider, more pertinent things, like how I was going to raise a child by myself?

Evangelical Baby Part 4

Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 4)

My boyfriend’s sister suggested we see a therapist and work out whether or not we loved each other enough to get married.   Marriage, love, and now baby were all pieces of my predicament.  Sadly, these pieces seemed all out of order now.  Maybe a counselor could help us.

Meantime, most mornings I found myself in a beige waitress uniform walking (since I didn’t own a car) two miles across the interstate overpass from my apartment to the truck stop restaurant I worked at.  Each day I thought about the degree I had in history, the one with the focus on medieval Europe and the Reformation, and wondered how that degree was going to help me pregnant and in debt.

Debbie, another waitress on my shift, was someone I talked to about my pregnancy.  “Listen, you’re not even showing yet. If this is your first pregnancy you probably can keep working and no one will know until the last trimester and you figure things out.”

“Thank you for saying that. You must have kids?”

“Nah. I had three abortions before I finally got a tubal.”

I was so shocked I started madly busing tables, as if cleaning tables with a dish rag could somehow rid my ears of what Debbie said.  Why didn’t Debbie use birth control?  I could see one slip-up, but three?  Obviously, Debbie was not an Evangelical Christian.  But still, three abortions.  I’d never seriously considered abortion because in my religion if birth control was wrong, and extra-marital sex worse, abortion was the third horseman of the apocalypse (doom and damnation prophesy from the Book of Revelations).   I was beginning to see how my religion was waging war with my young woman’s body.

Sometimes, a Poem by Sheenagh Pugh


Sometimes (a poem)
by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Evangelical Baby Part 3


Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 3)

Driving back from the gynecology clinic knowing the results of the examination we were both initially subdued.  Then, he looked over at me in the passenger seat and smiled broadly, “I’m going to be a father!”   His smile didn’t faded when I started questioning him about when we should tell our families, and next steps . . . like maybe marriage, one those dusty old institutions people still seem to participate in.

The good news, if you could call it that, was now as hormonal 23-year-old’s we didn’t have to worry about pregnancy.  The bad news was, just like that old blues singer, Tina Turner, sang, “What’s love got to do with it?”  That was a great question considering that in our religious backgrounds, love was supposed to have everything to do with it.   For the record, I was in love with my boyfriend.  He, however, seemed more smitten with the sex.  Such an old story.

So I got that waitressing job I’d forecast to the college Finance officer at a truck stop a couple of miles from my apartment and my boyfriend went back to the family farm, driving the hour into town to visit me for conjugal visits at least once a week.  He put off telling his parents about our growing dilemma, but finally broke the news to his sister, a social worker and also an evangelical Christian.  She was shocked and disheartened for her brother and ironically, curious about why I hadn’t been on birth control, as if the big Christian taboo of premarital sex was okay as long as there was protection.

“Hypocrite!” I thought, but I didn’t say anything.  She on the other hand, insinuated there was some sort of entrapment, that I’d figured out a way to force my boyfriend to marry me.  I was so offended.  Overall, not a great introduction to his family.

Book Review: Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius

Buddha Brain

Genre: Meditative, Science, Nonfiction
Buddha’s Brain, a book that responds to this question: Why am I not happy and how can I become happier?

Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius has something important to tell us about how the brain functions and what that has to do with mood disorders.  Hanson and Mendius, a neuropsychologist and a neurologist, believe that the basic tenants of Buddhism: mindfulness, virtue, and wisdom, can be applied to the three fundamental neural functions of the brain:  learning, regulating, and selecting.  I found this book both helpful and fascinating, the way the authors explained how the teachings of an ancient religion have something significant to say about healing the mind and improving our emotional health today.  “We get upset about being in pain, angry about dying, sad about waking up sad yet another day.  This kind of suffering–which encompasses most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction–is constructed by the brain.  It is made up.  Which is ironic, poignant–and supremely hopeful,” Buddha’s Brain, pg. 12.

Book Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Women’s Lit

A question this book asks:  Can you be more loyal to a friend(s) than your mate?

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is definitely chick lit, but it’s a good story and well told.  It’s one chosen by the Reese Witherspoon book club, which may or may not be a good thing.  It’s a tried and true formula.  Four women have a dark secret from their school girl days.  Now as adults, they’ve come together once again to stave off new questions about the body that was buried.  Ware, a British author, keeps the suspense going and does a nice job describing the rugged English coast and the kind of people that live there.  What makes this story interesting to me though, is actually a subplot, the relationship between the narrator, Isa (one of the four women) and her partner, Owen.  Isa says she loves Owen, but their child together, and her old friends, always seem to come first.



Idaho Governor’s Race

Political Commentary

Dear candidates for political office: please tell us, your public, something we don’t already know. This would be so helpful when we vote in the primary. Rather than signing on to Team Red or Team Blue and showing our team loyalty, it would actually be nice to vote for something, as opposed to someone or some side.

Take the Idaho Governor’s race for example. I don’t know much about Tommy Ahlquist or what he proposes to do, but I do know via TV advertisements that he is a lying, closet democrat. I also know that both Brad Little and Paulette Jordan look great on a horse cantering around the ranch. Raul Labrador however, is about the laziest person on earth and did absolutely nothing, NOTHING in Washington when he was our representative there. And though I’m sure A. J. Balukoff is a great guy and super sportsman, he needs to lose the oversized hunting cap. Sorry A. J., but you look like Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck in that cap.

Probably some of the readers reading this would say that these gubernatorial candidates have extensive policy proposals which they have attempted to discuss and debate through a multitude of mediums the past few months. I’m not saying that we, your voters, are dumb. But I will say that listening to a dry litany of canned proposals edited and rewritten by your assistants is about as much fun as reading the fine print on my cell phone contract.

So maybe it’s your messaging. I realize it must be very comforting, when facing an upstart broadcaster looking for a “gotcha” moment to revert to talking points. Don’t do it. Please. We already know you’re the non-establishment candidate for lower taxes and smaller government. Yes, we your voters agree that education is important. We know all that.

See, this is the messaging debacle: it either doesn’t explain enough or it explains too much. Don’t just tell your voters that education is important. Talk a little about how you want to change education in Idaho because it’s unfair that 56 school districts, mostly rural and poor, can only send their kids to school four days a week, while big city schools like Boise educate their kids a full week, every week.

You can smile all you want and tell the camera the importance of preserving public lands (yet another talking point), but we’d actually listen to you if you told us how much public land, land people might want to mountain bike on for example, has been sold the past five years to private entities. And for those voters more visually stimulated, a film clip showing fisherman or hikers running into no-trespassing signs would be nice.

We’re just starting the mid-term election cycle so there’s plenty of time to improve your message. Help your voters out. Don’t bore them to tears. Consider it, well . . . a public service.