About Settling Down

I hate to be that stereotypical person, you know, "my life iz sooooOOoo CRAZY lulz" but...haha, it kind of is.

I bought this mug at Ross once.  It has a flamingo on it.  It's this mug, actually. I LOVE flamingos (sidenote, not because I'm into pinup stuff, I actually have loved them because I'm a Benny Siegel fan) but when I noticed this big huge coffee mug, I couldn't get past the big "welcome" banner.  Welcome? Like, you're welcome because this cup is full of coffee?  Welcome to your morning? And I almost didn't get the mug because I was put off by the weird Engrish-reminiscent banner.  But then I thought of this:

And I thought, "oh man, this mug is talking about my life." So I bought it.  And every time I get me a cup o Johan in that mug, I welcome myself to the fuckin' show. 


I've talked years ago on this blog about how I was veering toward a career in earth science or geology.  At the time I was a new EMT and though I love the field, I wasn't sure if I had a future in it.  The truth about EMS is that it doesn't pay, and if I were thinking of committing further--paramedic or firefighter, say--you pretty much have to mow down competition and/or travel extensively to find a position.  I've met many a man in my career field who's so hell bent on getting a spot with a fire station he'd set you on fire.  There are people with a passion for it.  I have many passions.  I don't want to stand in the way of someone who wants and deserves a career as a fire chief.  I am very ambitious, but it just didn't feel right.  So I stalled, waiting.  

However, in my work as an EMT, especially now, where I work around chemicals and dangerous substances, I talk to and network with a lot of people who have been in this field a long time.  I also have the opportunity to do work that I feel is important and meaningful, while thinking about the long term of this field, and getting feedback on my questions and ideals.  These people have made careers at it and they come from a variety of backgrounds.  Some of the people I work with are chemists.  Some have hazmat or wildland firefighting experience.  It's a whole world of chemistry, explosions, reactions, burns, concoctions, ...good stuff.  Fun stuff.  I have been mulling over my options as I learn. 

I never thought I'd say it, but my son is another factor in what I plan on doing for the rest of my life.  Honestly, I could be content forever with a fulfilling and mediocre-paying career, I truly could.  If I'm a good EMT, why not be satisfied?  But that changed this year.  Wanting the best for his future blah blah blah--I won't get redundant, every smug parent ever says the same crap, but it really does make a difference in where I see myself going and work I want to do.  I need something sustainable, and something that will ensure he doesn't end up in Farner eating food bank rations (not that I don't have pride in where I come from.  I just want him to have better.)

Whenever I talked about living in Salt Lake to county dwellers, the response is "oh I couldn't live in the city."  "I hate the city."  "The city drives me nuts."  My reply was always the same "I'll move when I'm older."  I wasn't disagreeing with them, but made sense as a young adult to stay somewhere close to networking.  You can find events and meet people.  There's always some shitty concert or bar or party or gallery or festival to get dressed up for.  The shopping is better, the restaurants are better, the extra-curriculars are better.  Being a young adult is about learning what the world has to offer and I learned.

Turns out the "when I'm older" has come, though.  Living in the city is chipping away at my sanity every day.  I don't care about shopping and festivals.  I am not interested in meeting people; I've met all I want to meet.  Driving bumper to bumper and cursing at red lights is pretty much my idea of hell.  I always had this dream of being in a comfortable house in a small community--maybe not as isolated as where I grew up, which is pretty much the jungle--I didn't imagine the handsome lumberjack husband but I'm so glad he's here.  I imagined having foster kids (never imagined my own, but I'm SO glad he's here) and cats (check) spending some place I like working in a home I love managing.  No more farmer's markets, just my own garden.  No more downtown restaurants, just learning my own recipes.  A place where I can pick and choose important events and travel farther to them instead of screaming at the Maverick Center every time there's some dumbass country music artist blocking traffic all night long.  I've outgrown the city and want to go back to my roots.

Every time I envision raising Ender in the city I get massive anxiety.  I was thrown from a backwoods Appalachian school into a city when I was fifteen and it was an obscene culture shock.  I'm not saying it's better or worse.  I feel that school and its effectiveness is based on parental input as well as the teachers, and rural versus urban isn't really an issue in a city the size of Salt Lake.  Allyn was born and raised in Salt Lake and he is the smartest and kindest human I've ever met, so I know it's possible to be a city slicker and turn out okay, but there are parts of my childhood that I want my son to know and not wonder about.  Things like lightning bugs and snakes and the occasional bear in your backyard.  Exploring in the woods with no restrictions, just imagination.  Riding horses and raising animals, survival skills.  The quietness of reading books for hours while it rains.  Being so bored you make up your own games and force your parents to play along.  Grabbing a toy and going outside and letting time pass until the sun is completely gone.  Even in my poverty and knowing, then and now, all of the things I didn't have, those days seemed so completely full to me.  That may be why I go back and try to recapture the magic of places like Cherokee and Ghost Town.

Combining the Two
So, with all of these heavy topics at hand, what am I to do?  I've decided that I'm not yet ready to fully settle down and that's no surprise.  I'm only 30 and there are many more states and maybe countries that I want to live in.  Utah will always be the place I return to, but luckily for me it will be there whenever I am ready.  I am drawn to places, unsurprisingly, with beautiful forests and landscapes.  Before I was ever in foster care, my parents and aunt Doris both pitched the idea to me to become a game warden or work in forestry.

Living and working here has taught me that I really am at my best, and happiest, when my work interacts with nature.  Not just in the way that a park ranger might interact with nature, but the actual science of things; biology, especially chemistry, ecology, geology.  That I have dilly-dallied around and still after years feel strongly about these topics means something to me.  I've moved so much that I'm comfortable with the idea of moving for work, moving my family.  Ender already had his first flight to Tennessee and back.  I used to be a wild woman fluttering around wherever on my Crocodile-Dundee-esque "walkabouts" but I have no problem doing that with my boys either.

I don't know what kind of forestry jobs exist for environmental science graduates, but I know that the career field is open and varied.  I honestly would love the experience; anything from a game warden to a wildland firefighter to a ranger to instructor and on down the line.  The time has finally come to finish my education and I'm doing it without having a set, black and white career in mind.  But I feel great about it.


Life Lately // October Goals

When did liking fall and spooky stuff become the norm? When I was in school you were a total weirdo if you thought about your costume anytime before October 15.  Rude.

It's been awhile since I just sat down and wrote about how things are going, and those are posts I avoid writing because who cares?  You're supposed to write interesting stories and stuff, but back when cool people used to blog for fun and not for money, "what's up with me" posts were always my favorite.

Ender is one month old today.  Everybody's telling me to slow down but I'm loving his strength and watching him grow.  I was not made to take care of tiny babies, and I long for the days he'll be able to communicate with me past a screeching wail.  That being said, oh I love him so much.  It hurts me when he cries.  I am a slave to his tiny impatient little will.  He's a wonderful baby.

We went to Oktoberfest.  I had a great time until the end (naturally) but I took some great pictures of Allyn.  It's sorry and pathetic how much more often I need to get to the mountains, and also to take photos, but I did order a new lens as a late birthday present to myself, and I got some great pictures.  But this one is my faaaaaaaave <3

I got married!  So...to make a long story short, Allyn and I went to Die Antwoord at Saltair a day after my birthday when I was suuuuuuuuper pregnant.  After the song "I Fink U Freeky" (a song of ours) and during the song "I Don't Care" (one of my favorite love songs of theirs) Allyn officially asked me to marry him.  Oh, it was the most beautiful moment, I can't express enough how special it was.

We'd already talked about my hatred of people social anxiety and the likelihood that an actual wedding would cause me more misery than a few hours in a pretty white dress was worth...I just think weddings are so ridiculous.  Thousands of dollars because you are getting married?  A commitment of two people to each other--whyyyyyy does that require such a stiff affair? I mean if you're the partying type the party aspect of it makes sense, especially if you're an extrovert (which neither of us are) but the thousands of dollars in venue and flowers and photography and having matching seats and this big just ridiculous display of tradition do not.  I always thought things like college graduation or buying a home made way more sense to throw a formal party over, but whatever, I was the weirdo who liked Halloween in school....

So we went to, where else? Saltair.  I picked the date--it was the anniversary of our first kiss.  I also picked the venue because it means so much to me and I've taught Allyn all about it.  For those who don't know (the reverend marrying us, for example) the original Saltair building(s) which were destroyed by fire several times, are now just pillars and debris and a long, straight road into nothingness.  The majesty of the resort is gone but everyone who knows me, knows that it haunts me and draws me in regardless.

Where Saltair stood, versus the same road today.  Credit/Read More

The wedding ceremony was perfect.  We had two witnesses, people whom we love and cherish, and most importantly, our son was there.  The service and the vows were so special to me, and luckily I have a printed copy of everything that was said, so that I can always remember it.  I also have a video of it, which I've shamelessly watched and cried to several times. We stood on that old road that played host to thousands of visitors from all over the country, toward the empty lake that to me holds more magic and mystery than anyplace I've ever been.  Every time I look down that road I imagine the silhouette of the resort and thousands of twinkling lights and the roar of conversation, the rail car screeching to a stop to pickup and transport the swimmers.  Now I have a memory there that is real and doesn't involve my imagination.  A piece of me and us is and will always be at the old road, to mix in with all the remembrances and thoughts of everyone else who had special moments there.

I know it's extremely random and weird, especially factoring in my disdain for weddings, but ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to get married barefoot.  My mom is probably the person who put that ridiculous notion into my head since she was all about that bra-burning 70's free spirit crap.  When she married my dad she wore a flower crown with her feathered bangs, ha! Anyway, it somehow got into my head that I needed to be married outside (outside is far superior to anything man-made) and barefoot.

And lo, it happened! I kicked off my sneakers onsite and the entire affair I was barefoot.  Not only was it great to fulfill that strange, absurd lifelong expectation, but I felt a bit closer to my mom, and that's always nice.

I also cried, and Allyn almost cried.

So now, in addition to Ender's Birthday, my sister's Birthday, my wedding anniversary, and my Utah anniversary--all in September!!!-- I get to look forward to all that October has to offer.  I wanted to make a little fall to-do list.  Honestly these days just putting clothes on is the end of my routine, not the beginning, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to make a big-ass list and be optimistic about it.

October Goals
-Deep clean the baby's room and our bedroom
-Go back to physical therapy
-Go back to therapy therapy (haha)
-Go with Allyn to therapy
-Take care of insurance records etc due to marriage and having a baby
-Start calorie counting again
-work on getting milk supply up for when I return to work
-Get Rusty moved into the garage/clean out the garage
-Make a dump run with the garbage leftover from moving
-DIY lighted curtains for our bedroom closet
-Hang up shelves in the bedroom and finish hanging pictures
-See the symphony (they're playing Beethoven's 5th!!!)

Spooky goals
-carve pumpkins
-make my costume of course!
-finish decorating the house and get the decorations out of the garage
-bake a cemetery cake with the kids
-go to a haunted house with Allyn
-do my skull makeup on Allyn
-attend Fear Con or the Halloween Expo (not sure which yet!)
-Go to Wheeler Farm and do the haunted corn maze + pumpkin patch
-Go to Red Butte Gardens
-Drive up to Silver Lake, maybe hike up a bit if the weather permits
-bake Halloween treats for the guys at work
-Go to the Halloween Hoot at Tracy Aviary
-Enter the Halloween contest at the Gallivan Plaza Monster Block Party

Oh yeah I'm sure allll of that will get done.  To be fair, the spooky goals are more like "here's what's happening and what I want to go, let's pick a few" so as long as I get out of the house I'm good.

Life is busy, but it's a good busy.


Ender's Birth Story

Oh man, I'm a mom!

To preface this birth story (which I am writing out of total need for catharsis and no entertainment whatsoever) I'll start with the end of my pregnancy.  I'll also state that I have always had an extreme fear of pregnancy and childbirth.  I was fully anticipating a traumatic experience but it really blew away even my expectations. Ha!  Also, a final disclaimer: this is not a fun or entertaining read and unless you're just that interested, I'd skip over it.  I wanted a written experience for my own benefit and that's about it.  You've been warned of the tedious horror of this birth story! Onward! 

On my 30th birthday, which was the solar eclipse, I felt a total lack of fetal movement.  It was worrying, obviously--he'd always been a fairly active baby.  Allyn and I went to the doctor, who appeased me by performing an ultrasound.  He confirmed the decreased movements (as well as some other stuff--fluid in his kidney, low amniotic fluid, a few complications) and ordered weekly NSTs until an induction was scheduled.  They kept an eye on the kid, who had just literally decided he wasn't going to move anymore.  My health got poorer, with increased glucose and even worse anemia.  I was so done that I didn't even mind the fact that I was getting induced.  Going into labor naturally wasn't important; I just wanted to get this over with, I was so miserable and worried about his health.

So we check in, September 4 at 2030.  I had told my OB as well as the nurse on staff that I have intense PTSD and any internal exam or invasive procedure was going to set me off--even things like the IV and catheters, they're HUGE triggers--but right away my hopes for being understood and respected were dashed when it became obvious that my nurse was a total novice.  She was more nervous than I was and I was the one about to have a baby.  She blew out a vein in my arm immediately and I started crying.

She informed me that she'd have to perform a cervical check and I warned her again that I wasn't going to handle it well.  She then proceeded to ignore my screams and panicked lack of breath and jam her fingers up in there nice and good while being panicky and terrified of my reaction.  I did learn, post-sobbing, that I was already 2 centimeters dilated.  She started cervodil and I asked for the charge nurse to step in for any future cervical checks.  I have nothing against novice medical personnel but I'm done being a guinea pig for them, it's like cooking your first meal for Gordon Ramsay....just a really, really bad idea to put a severely traumatized person in the hands of people who aren't used to seeing patients with those experiences. 

Hours go by and I held off with any pain medication or intervention because I hate catheters.  The rest of my labor for the next however long was an uneventful blur with increasing pain and discomfort and trying without success to sleep.  I don't even know how an entire day passed, but I do know that I finally, finally asked for pain medication and got fentanyl.  I've never had it before and WHEEEE! I felt better than great, for a very short amount of time.  Once I'd maxed out my fentanyl I endured the pain a bit longer before tapping out and asking for the epidural.  (I should add that in between, I had another panic attack during a cervical check and my doctor suggested I take a xanex.  I suggested I take ten. They gave me one.) 

Now what follows as far as the epidural goes...is my personal experience.  I'm not shitting on my hospital and I don't enjoy talking shit about doctors.  I have huge respect for what they do.  But I also calls em like I sees em and my experience with this doctor was probably one of the worst things I've endured and has made me 10000000000x less likely to ever consider birth or pain meds or doctors or needles or intervention or whatever.  In fact it made me sympathize with my dad ripping all his cords out and trying to leave.  

By the time he came in I was in 10/10 pain and lying on my side half-dissociated.  I had bought a birthing gown that was prettier than ye olde hospital gown and had holes in all the right places: the belly for monitoring, the back for the epidural, and the boobs for skin to skin and breastfeeding.  It was still pretty modest, but since I'd just had a panic attack at a recent cervical check I was splayed out with probably my ass showing.  I don't care, I'm not modest anyway, and a hospital is no place for modesty.  

However, the doctor enters the room, I'm on my side moaning with my eyes closed, and I remember his voice, a disdainful "Can we do something about covering her up? I'm just not going to be comfortable with her or this..." you get the idea.  He continued to complain about whatever body part he saw until one of the nurses rushed over to hide my obnoxious, in the way body.  Had I been more conscious I would've had words with this man--sorry for nudity in the hospital?  And why not address "her" as a human being? I mean, a simple "hey lady let's cover dat ass!" would have sufficed. 

I couldn't really talk but I was laying there whimpering and trying to form sentences asking what would happen.  I've seen epidurals in videos, but my brain fog assured I didn't really remember what the procedure entailed.  I tried to ask.  I remember feeling him picking me up and sliding me around very unceremoniously and it terrified me.  I hate that I have that reaction when he was just doing his job, but he was very rough and strong, and being a ragdoll flung around was not pleasant nor good for abating trauma. 

Nobody really replied to my dazed questions, and without a warning he jammed in the first needle.  You know, the spine is a pretty bad place to jab somebody without a warning.  I can give him the benefit of the doubt there, maybe he thought going without warning was the better idea for the traumatized wimpy girl who couldn't even handle a cervical check like an adult...I don't know. What I do know is that I screamed, and sobbed, and while he was working he just kept saying "DON'T SOB DON'T SOB STOP SOBBING" which was exactly as effective as you'd think.  I felt totally betrayed and disrespected and ignored, all I wanted was to do what Dad did and rip everything out, tell them to eat it, and run to Farner.  In fact I strongly considered it, and probably would have done it had I not been pregnant.

I was so traumatized by this point that I was begging for Derik.  He came and calmed me down the best that he could.  I don't even remember his visit, just crying like a baby and wanting to hear his voice.  Everything was making everything else worse.  The awkwardness of the medical staff (is there seriously zero training on abuse survivors and invasive procedures?) the horrible epidural placement experience, the defeatedness of being confined to the bed thanks to the catheter and all of the other shame I was experiencing at already not getting the birth you're promised in those woodsy twee mommy blogs....it was just snowballing. Poor Allyn didn't have a chance.  I kept wishing he would leave and go home and pet Flemith so I could just endure this without looking so weak and pathetic, but I was also scared to be alone.  So he was in the shittiest position (after me of course...) 

Unsurprisingly the epidural failed.  My feet got numb and I was dying of pain in my pelvis.  I was told to sit up and push the button to get the medicine to flow to my pelvic area.  It didn't help.  In fact (is this even a thing?) the areas that he numbed actually hurt.  It felt like Novocaine wearing off a pulled tooth and every nerve was tingling with stabbing pains. From this point on I was in even more of a dissociative fog due to pain.

The OB on duty showed up to break the amniotic sac and all I remember from that was hearing, after the burst of fluid, the word 'meconium.'  I started to panic as everyone stupidly assured me "oh, it's norrrmal, it's noooothing.  You probably read some bad stuff about it but it's normal and we'll just flush out the fluid with some IV fluid..." there are not enough unimpressed, eye-rolly gifs in the world to express my disdain...I hate being treated like a total fucking idiot by medical professionals.  I got an internal fetal monitor, (yes, placing that hurt, as did everything else in this entire scenario) but despite the pain and now fear for my baby, it was "time to push"!  

Out of the shit show so far, I actually enjoyed pushing.  It felt like I was making a difference.  I was being coached and guided to do something instead of sitting there getting stabbed and poked and fingered and prodded.  I did really good at pushing.  It hurt, and it began to hurt more as the baby moved--the nurse remarked at one point while feeling around up in there that I was going to tear "really badly" because of how tight I was...great!  Thanks! I didn't care, it was a finish line--!

--until it wasn't.  I pushed. and pushed. and pushed. I could feel fluid coming out and every time I pushed, I could feel the little fetal monitor cord move out, and then immediately go back in.  The kid's head was stuck.  I pushed anyway, sure that when the time came I could deal with the pain (since the only thing numb was still my feet and calves, and the doctor kept coming back to give me more doses, which wound their way up my back and into my shoulder area) but it just didn't happen.  My strength started to go.

I was surprised to learn later that I'd been pushing for hours.  My OB had warned me before we started that a first time mom might have a long time pushing, ie "one or two hours."  Um okay, because I've been here since Monday night and it's now Wednesday morning, two hours isn't even long.  As it turns out I pushed close to three hours.  I could feel my baby in my pelvis and I knew he was stuck.  Finally I just gave up.  I told the nurses it wasn't happening and I'm sure they hear that with everyone's birth so they did their best to cheerlead me on.  Nope.  Not happening.  "You've got to push! You can do it! He's almost here!" 

I think at this point I crashed.  I told the doctor I was done and just wanted the baby out.  He looked at me for a minute, probably reflecting on how happy he was to be a man, and then nodded in agreement.  I heard rabble of preparing me for a c section and everyone ran off.  A nurse cheerfully told Allyn to bring the camera because he would want photos once the baby was out.  I stopped him and told him what I truly truly believed; that I wasn't going to make it and was going to die shortly.

It's such a strange and terrible feeling to believe you're going to die and say goodbye to someone you love.  I don't even particularly enjoy living, but I've always preferred the idea of dying on my own terms and dying after a miserable non-birth while Allyn had to watch me writhe in pain, unable to provide any comfort, was not how I wanted to go.  I just remember having the thought that he was going to take photos of me before I died, and I didn't want him to be traumatized.  I thought about what my son would be like and how he would be told about me, and how hard it would be for Allyn to bring up a kid himself.  These are horrible, horrible thoughts to have and no woman should have to endure that fear and terror--I'm not blaming any one person for it, but just the system in general.  It failed me here, during this experience.

Anyway, everything after that was literally a dream.  I felt them undress me and move the bed.  They were trying to reassure me that I wouldn't fall off when they changed me from the bed to the crucifix (that's probably not its name but that's what I'm calling it) and at that point falling was the least of my worries.  I've moved a billion patients, most of them bigger than me and I have no fear of backboards or gurneys or whatever, but I couldn't vocalize this--that again they were pandering and reassuring me where they didn't need to, and neglecting me where I needed reassurance--oh well, I was going to die soon.

My body was screaming in pain, I could almost sense some kind of panic coming from my son, and I couldn't decide if I wanted Allyn there or wanted him to be away (someone asked and I eventually ended up yelling for him when I was sure I was dying and my last moments were upon me, haha) the doctor put something in my IV and I started screaming that I could feel it going up my arm.  Everyone was frantically reassuring me that I wouldn't feel anything to which I countered I FEEL EVERYTHING!!! I felt their hands on my body, I felt the pain of the epidural medicine prickling me, I felt whatever the hell going into my arm.
"You can ....feel that?"
"YES I DO!!"
"How strongly can you feel it?"

-awkward medical procedure silence-

I begged to be knocked out and the doctor halfheartedly attempted to tell me that something could happen to the baby--yeah okay but the meconium is a non-issue, right?--and in some kind of demonic voice I uttered I DON'T CARE PUT ME OUT.  If I verbalized that I just wanted to die, I don't remember it, but the truth is that I would've loved the respite.

Aaaaand cue the voice of the damned anesthesiologist very near my head.  I heard him say "I don't think she's going to stand it" (why the fuck does he talk about me in third person!?!??!) as he pushed MORE meds into my epidural and I felt the coldness trickle upwards (as it had nowhere downwards to go by that point, and I was supine) one of the last things I felt was that shitty medicine numb/tingle/sting EVERYTHING from my back up to my shoulders, into my arms, and finally my neck.  Allyn said I fell asleep but the truth is, I passed out--either from exhaustion or pain, or both, who knows.

I woke up to a flurry of doctors and nurses and Allyn holding a bundle of something.  I was so out of it I couldn't talk but I just stared.  I couldn't see the baby's face and barely remembered who I was, let alone that I'd "had" a baby.  He and someone else asked if I wanted to hold him and due to the body-wide epidural, I couldn't even lift my arms.  I legit tried--nope.  I shook my head and fell back asleep. At this time and many times since, it has "felt" like someone just took a baby off a shelf and handed it to me.  I got no experience of birthing, I got zero skin to skin or breastfeeding.  There was just suddenly a baby.  It's a strange and surreal feeling, and a little depressing when you compare it to the "magical miracle of birth" and realize you puked jello all over that horrible anesthesiologist and that was your final contribution before passing out.

I woke up again and it was quieter, and to the left of me was a clear hospital bassinet.  There was a baby in it...again, nothing ever made me feel like this was "my" baby.  Just "the" or "a" baby.  I looked at the baby and the baby looked at me.  Even though we were pretty far apart, a foot or two, he immediately looked at my face.  He was as immobile as I was and we just faced each other and stared.  Everybody always told me how "in love" I would be and how I would just know my baby immediately.  I would say that what I felt was far more profound than love.  Love is pretty ephemeral and mortal in the gist of things.  I felt like the transcendence cat.  I felt like I was looking at something more than a person, or a tiny human, I was looking at a piece of the universe, and a piece of my universe, and I was the universe, and we were both terrified and we had both died and we were both alive and we were total strangers, but we were closer than any two humans could ever be.  Also, he had my eyes.

I've looked at him a lot since and he's looked back and every so often I get a glimmer of that feeling again.  I don't know what to call it, but I'll never get tired of it.  



Marie Ogden and the Home of Truth

I love cults.

Okay, well, I love learning about them.  I get obsessed with reading, investigating, and watching footage of the Jonestown saga in the same way most Mormon mommies watch The Bachelor or pick out scrapbooking sheets.  I can't help it and I think a lot of people feel the same way; there's just some kind of draw to watching the questionable, ludicrous and dark things people do and believe, as well as how cult leaders engage and persecute their sheep.

I won't go into cult psychology or what I find most fascinating--that would be a whole separate post, but I did want to share a jaunt that Allyn and I made to a cult location earlier this year.  When I say earlier this year, I am ashamed to admit I mean January.  I have been meaning to blog about this f o r e v e r but it's August and here we are.  Forgive me and know that there will be an even better Utah-cult related post coming up, but the upcoming one will feature an active cult!

But first....

We went to Moab for Allyn's birthday and a hobby of ours, exploring abandoned places, intersected with the location of the Home of Truth.  I've mentioned it on the blog before, but I'll give a proper recap in case anyone's interested.  You can also read more in-depth info here and here.

And yes--Moab is beautiful any time of year and we had a WONDERFUL time!

*happy sigh*
Aaaaanyway, the cult.

Marie Ogden

Remember the name, it's important!  Marie had zero to do with Utah until she moved there as an adult.  She was a rich widow who turned to the occult after her husband died.  She traveled around talking about how the world was doomed until she got--via divine intervention I suppose--the idea to make a commune that would survive the last great calamities of the world.  Marie and her few followers bought a barren, harsh piece of land in San Juan County and settled there.

Creepily, the setup was comprised of concentric circle areas called "portals", and buildings were built on these imaginary boundaries.  There was an Inner Portal, Middle Portal, and Outer Portal.  Like any reputable cult leader Marie required all potential followers to hand over their worldly possessions and anything of monetary value and accept her doctrine.  There was no water, no electricity, and no dependence on the outside world, which Marie believed (a bit ahead of her time really) would be destroyed by nuclear war.

Wouldn't you hand over your checkbook right away? 

Impressively, the cult grew from the original handful to around 100 members at its 'peak' years of 34-35.  They did normal cult stuff like farming, starving, not having cars (except Marie) not ever entering civilization (except Marie, who went shopping almost daily in nearby Monticello), not eating meat, not drinking or using tobacco, and preparing for that apocalypse.


Whoops, Dead Body 

While the cult was doing its thing, the Mormon settlers of the area mostly ignored what was happening.  I read in a lot of places that Mormons are "tolerant" of cults, but I think it's far more likely that the Mormon plane of thought is "finally, someone who looks weirder than us!"  It's like the relief of being picked second-to-last in dodgeball.  Either way, no1curr about Marie and her weird shenanigans, so Marie got bold and decided she'd take her "God speaks to me through a typewriter" stuff to the local news, because she wanted to convert more people.

Mormons ignored this for the most part as well.  She bought the entire newspaper and though I don't have any articles, I'm sure you could guess the topics--fire, brimstone, God's anger, death, salvation, come over here and eat no meat with us et cetera.  It was shrugged off and no one paid attention until one of the cult members, a miss Edith Peshak, who had only joined in hopes of curing her cancer--passed away and Marie wrote brazenly about keeping the body preserved and feeding it, preparing it for "restoration."  She couldn't stop her from dying, but by God she was going to bring her back to life!!!  Exciting. Apparently the corpse was fed milk and eggs daily--how, I'm not sure, but it was also rubbed with salt and Marie oversaw the process by which her minions desecrated the corpse.  I mean, "prepared' it.  

This was the beginning of the end for the Home of Truth.  The cops showed up due to complaints over what citizens were reading in the local paper; they saw the body (remarked that it was well preserved) decided there was nothing wrong with keeping an embalmed body around other than the general weirdness, and left the compound.  Legal or not, this was too weird even for the Mormons, and their apathy turned to disgruntled side eyes.  Shortly thereafter the cult members followed suit. After all they had to live around this insane woman.  They became disillusioned and abandoned the Home of Truth (minus a few diehards.)  In the end Marie's cult was an epic failure, the body was lost forever, and the creator and divine interpreter Marie Ogden lived out her senior years giving piano lessons to the children of San Juan County.  Bet that was awkward. 

Our Trip 

So we trespassed to get to this place, but other than a few startled/confused cows and what I presume was the rancher driving by (I am 99% sure he knew we were there and didn't mind) it was a quiet, spooky January day.  I remember thinking at the time how weird it was that I was hiking through the desert while pregnant, because I didn't feel pregnant--OH HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED--and how eerie the entire place seemed.  It was so quiet.  Nothing like a desert Ghost Town to be absolutely motionless and suspended in time.

The buildings were in a really sorry state, as was the land: there's an unfinished cobblestone chapel, remnants of a windmill and water cisterns, and a vague circular layout.  We didn't find any treasures MINUS THE ONE other than a couch, some female shoes (WERE THEY MARIE'S?!?!?! I MUST KNOW) and a few other pieces of trash.  For some reason, a few of the houses are literally filled with manure--who buys a tract of land with a cult headquarters on it and then shovels the relics full of shit? Ranchers, I guess.  Supposedly there's a cemetery out there but we didn't find it.  We did find something cooler.  Read on! 

Okay, so ALL credit for this creepy find goes to Allyn.  I'd filled him in on the history of the ranch before going, as you do.  He was shining his light up in a once-attic---this one, to be particular...and he noticed a familiar name....

The crate reads:


Isn't that CRAZY?!?!?! I tried googling the name Letitia Whitley with no result.  But we all know she was a cult member, hence the 'c/o'.  Actually SEEING that someone had sent belongings or who knows what, to someone in this strange Depression-era faction of nuclear fearmongers, made the whole thing more real and exciting for us.

I'm assuming I could get some records from Letitia if I were to go to the Family History museum, but I haven't been.  Something to look into though.  How cool is that?