It’s been nearly two years since I left Mormonism behind. In some ways, two years seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not. In the Mormon perspective of “eternities” it is but a blip. I’ve wanted to write about my departure experience and share some thoughts for at least 12 months, but I have avoided it. Thinking about it now, all the energy I wasted “enduring”, is a pretty big downer for me, so that’s the main reason I haven’t revisited it. I’ve felt much lighter, happier, and unburdened these past couple of years. Writing about it takes me back to the internal struggle and the disappointment my family and some friends felt about my decision.

I have discovered several things over the last two years. When you leave a religion that is tightly knit and all-encompassing, like the L.D.S. church, the church people do not know how to react. The most common phrase said to me when I see church people now is, “We miss you.” To that, I would like to respond, “You still have my phone number. You still know where I live. If you miss me, perhaps you could reach out and we could go to lunch (a movie, an art exhibit, etc.).” If you sincerely felt like my friend at church, then why is that the only capacity in which we can be friends? This only-friends-if-you-are-exactly-like-me-and-go-to-my-church scenario baffles me. When I miss someone, I reach out often and stay in touch with them regardless of their religious affiliation. That seems like a pretty logical thing. I think what is meant by, “We miss you” in my scenarios is actually, “I don’t know what to say to you, so I’m going to say something that seems genuine (‘miss you’); but is really going to come off as the exact opposite.” In the Mormon church, the women’s organization is called Relief Society. The church is organized into geographical regions called wards. Each ward has a Relief Society President. When I made my departure, the president of my ward’s Relief Society was someone I had known well for more than a decade. I sent her a letter to let her know that I wouldn’t be attending church any longer. The reason I sent a letter was two-fold: 1. As a courtesy to several involved parties so that the information would be received at around the same time. 2. To explain things as succinctly as possible without any confrontation. This R.S. President texted me to let me know she had received the letter and asked if we could still be friends. I was completely bemused and it led me to question, “Hadn’t we been friends all along? Why would my decision to no longer attend church makes us not friends now?” My response was, “Of course we can still be friends. Heathens need friends too.” In that story, you find the name of my blog — the generation of which I promised to tell at some point. (*Consider that promise kept.)

Rumor has it that many church members think people who exit the religion do so because they have been offended by something another member said. These “offenders” are giving themselves way too much credit. Do church members truly think there is an offense so horrible and belittling and awful that the offended, on a whim, has turned their back on the religion they grew up with, the heritage they were taught, the day-to-day practices they’ve established? In some ways, it seems that the church people use others potentially “being offended” as a way to soothe their own minds. They don’t want to believe that the religion or the history of it could be flawed in any way. They would prefer to think that someone who has gone apostate was “easily offended.” I’ve talked to countless people who have left the L.D.S. church and not one of them has left as a result of something as simple as “being offended.” Are we not all offended at some point in time? I had people say things to me or my daughter that I did not like, but those occurrences have nothing to do with why I left the church.

I know why many Mormons I thought were friends have not asked to hear my story. They are warned against fraternizing with anything that isn’t praiseworthy towards their religion. It will always strike me as bizarre that people can throw me lines like, “I hope you’re happier now” and “please don’t spew vitriol about Mormons all over the Internet” (which I have not done) and “just move on”; but they don’t want to know how my painstaking decision was reached and many surely don’t want to see that I am much happier now. The L.D.S. church sends missionaries all over the world to preach what is their truth, but they don’t want to hear about what someone else perceives as truth, for fear it may shake their own faith in some way. They haven’t asked WHY I left the church or what led to my decision to withdraw; which was well thought out and sweated over for more than a decade. I did a tremendous amount of studying — I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 hours worth. I read church sanctioned scriptures, books that were published by church members, historians, and non-church members. I joined online communities for those with questions. I read blogs. I prayed. I pondered. I thought deeply. I considered. I cried. And then ultimately, when I couldn’t accept living what I felt was a double-standard any longer, I left. It was not easy. That is the other misnomer Mormons may have about those who leave. They think people just wake up one day and decide not to attend church anymore because they’d prefer to have Sunday fun-day or because they want to drink coffee guilt-free or because they don’t want to pay 10% of their income in tithing any longer. While all those things have been bonuses to my leaving, those are not the main reasons I stopped attending. Not. Even. Close. I would like to receive credit where credit is due. My decision was not made lightly. The Mormon religion teaches that there is a place for everyone in its religion and that it is the ONLY religion which will bring you true happiness. I must say, I never felt at home or truly happy within the church construct. Did I have pleasant experiences there? A handful of times. But I didn’t find it more spiritually uplifting than attending a great concert by a band I love or watching a movie I adore.

I’m grateful I had experiences socializing with non-Mormons in my day-to-day life for many, many years before making my departure (and I also have a supportive non-Mormon husband). That may sound strange to an outsider of the church. “Why wouldn’t she be socializing with a variety of people and have friends of all different kinds?” Mormons are taught that they are peculiar and that they need to stick together. Unless they are forced to deal with non-Mormons through sports teams, work scenarios, or school classrooms; they don’t. Most of the Mormons I know have social circles which are 98% Mormon. I cannot imagine how crippling it would have been for me had that been my case. Exiting would have taken much more strength and courage without a support system outside of church members. Beyond my studying and sincere praying, much of my leaving had to do with the huge place I have in my heart for my gay friends, my trans friends, my feminist friends, and my friends who are agnostic/humanists. I always felt those individuals were belittled, demeaned, vilified, second-classed and treated unfairly by the church in which I was raised. Being raised in the Mormon church caused a lot of internal confusion for me. I wanted to be Christ-like, in that Christ is kind and compassionate; but even more than that, I wanted to be the rebel Christ, which I feel is the Jesus they don’t touch on enough in Sunday School. I wanted to be like the Christ who overthrows money-changers’ tables in the temple and walks on the fringes of society with those who are less popular. That was the Christ I understood best, the one with whom I shared the most similarities.

Not being part of the church body any longer has led me closer to who I truly am spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I don’t waste my time seeking the approval of church people. Many of which I found to be more nice (sometimes fake), than kind. It’s the first time in my adult life that I have truly felt like an adult who is making my own decisions. I don’t do things now with the thought of an impending eternal reward or the thought of NOT receiving blessings if I don’t do something that was prescribed. I’m living how I’m living, because I know it’s right for me. My perspective of being Christ-like has changed to trying so much harder to walk in the shoes of another, to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and dignity regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual preference. (It’s not always easy, and I still slip; but then I remind myself that it’s alright. No one is perfect.) I also think any loving God would want me to be happy and to feel like I have a place in this world. He would want me to be comfortable in my skin and with my thoughts and the life I’m living. Over the last two years, I have learned a lot. One of the main things being that I am who I have always been, but I’ve become an even better version of my self. I am thankful for those who have supported me and have continued to be happy for me. Those who have not just said they miss me, but have shown they do by reaching out, appreciating my journey, and caring about me and my story. On to the next chapter.


Recalling the time
You called me a dyke
As if that were
The worst thing to be like.
Sticks and stones
And broken bones,
I never wanted to see
You down on your knees,
Begging pretty please
Or forgiveness nonetheless.
Of course you were Mormon,
Sling arrows, then turn and run,
Light switch is off
Everything’s better thrown with a scoff.
Wanna-be punk —
But truly straight-edge junk,
Playing guitars in the attic
Never pragmatic.
You were upset we didn’t bring
The Polish exchange student queen.
She was foreign enough
not to be your fool,
Time to wipe the drool
Then lose your cool.
Direct it at me
Let the words fly,
Set them free.
I can take it.
And I did.
You’re nothing but an immature kid.
Draw your cartoons,
Play distorted tunes.
I will write this poem
And remind you, he who is without sin
Let him cast the first stone.


You dropped words
heavy on me,
a fancy paperweight
from a forgotten vacation;
a rapper’s lyrics
so salty and stained
that spittle flies
when they are spoken.

You cried for a few minutes,
as incomprehensible verbalization
poured from your wicked mouth
like wet cement —
all the while, not understanding
the depth of what you’d done —
the final check mate move
you had initiated.

I ran outside,
for fear of suffocation,
with my brain a swirl
of reds and grays.
The cotton was thick
on the patio that summer,
dense as Utah’s dark, snowy winters.

I should have been
smiling into the sun
as I pedaled my bike
past the gurgling river,
but my mouth tasted
like I had swallowed sand
and it had collected
at the back of my throat.

That was when I realized
you were leaving.
I was a burden.
You felt saddled by me.
You needed some newer,
fresher horizon.

Now whenever I see cottonwood trees
shedding their seed,
I think of that July weekend,
my sandpaper throat,
and how you closed the door





I was born the year after America’s bicentennial celebration. I grew up in the 1980s, but came of age in the 1990s. I recall watching “Remote Control” on MTV and also the first time I ever saw Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. I distinctly remember the first tape I ever received as a gift (R.E.M.’s “Green”) and the first CD my Dad gave me (Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark“).

In 7th grade, my parents gifted me a small boombox for Christmas. I’m sure they had to sacrifice to buy it. They didn’t even have one in their own bedroom. With it, I got Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” on cassette. I frequently took the boombox into the bathroom so I could look in the mirror and attempt to mimic the choreography Janet did in the “Miss You Much” video. On the weekends, I would listen intently to Casey Kasem announce the Top 40, “Next on the countdown, up two spots this week….” with my finger over the record button so I could attempt to capture a song I had been wanting to listen to over and over again. If I was lucky, the DJ wouldn’t talk over the beginning or ending of the song, and the recording would be clean.

Once we were in high school, my friends and I would hop in Nancy’s Chevette (not to be confused with a Corvette) and insert Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album into the cassette deck. We would sing at full volume as we drove the back roads of Ogden. We didn’t usually have a particular destination. Driving and listening to music was the objective.

In my early college days, I toted my CaseLogic cassette organizer to my car each morning and selected something that would sustain me on my drive to the university. If I didn’t like a particular song, it wasn’t easy to skip over it. I would have to fast forward, and it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. I learned to appreciate entire albums, because the alternative was to rewind or fast forward, and trying to stop in the exact spot where the next song began or ended was virtually impossible. My tape deck had a removable face so that no one would steal my car stereo. I remember thinking how futuristic and expensive it was. One of the first CD players I ever owned was a Sony Discman. It made trekking through the campus on the snowy, windy days of winter much more bearable. I would hike daily from the humanities building to the science building or the library, fueled by Radiohead or Beastie Boys. I always double checked that the “stop skip” functionality was set so that I wouldn’t scratch the CD if it jostled around too much in my backpack.

Shortly after I moved to Nevada at the age of 22, Napster came into being. My teenage sister sat at the computer for hours downloading songs. I couldn’t comprehend it. “This is all free?” I remember asking. “Yah! Isn’t it cool?” was her reply. It wasn’t too long before Metallica ruined her ability to download a lot of “free” music.

In 2004, I had a friend who lived in Dallas. We worked together and he was based at our company’s headquarters. We always discussed music. We liked the same bands. We often made playlists for each other. We could discuss albums and concerts for hours. “Have you heard of an iPod?” he asked during one of my visits. “No. What is that?” From his pocket, he procured a device the thickness of a notepad and the size of light switch. “Take a look,” he said as he handed it to me. I didn’t even know what to do with it. On the sleek surface, there were just a few buttons. It was the simplest thing I had ever seen. He turned it on and showed me how to scroll through his albums and artists. I’m certain my jaw hit the floor. It was by far the most awesome thing I had ever seen. I saved up to buy one, purchased an external hard drive to store all the music, and spent hours loading my CDs to iTunes so I could sync it with my iPod. Around the same time, I discovered how easy it was to purchase and download songs from iTunes. I bought a transmitter that attached to the top of my iPod and it would (sometimes) let me play music in the car if I could find a frequency. My entire music library in my car! Before long, I had the next generation of the iPod, and then an iPhone, and then Bluetooth capabilities. Increasingly simple.

Late last year, we signed up for a music streaming service. Recently, when I learned the Violent Femmes had a new album out, I searched for it and was able to listen to it immediately. Being able to do that, have music at my fingertips so readily, is something I find amazing, strange, sad, and unbelievable.

When I was younger, I always stored concert tickets for each show in the CD cases applicable to the particular tour. Last week, I went through all my CDs and removed the ticket stubs. I’m planning on getting rid of my CD collection. I have a heavy heart about it. There was something magical about browsing the racks at a music store, purchasing a cassette or CD, removing the cellophane, tearing off the damn sticker (not always an easy task), pouring through the pages of the jacket cover, and intently listening. It allowed me to melt away to somewhere removed from myself. There was a distinct and wonderful smell that came with the packaging. It makes me sad to think that my daughter and her friends won’t recall that smell and the experience. They don’t have the privilege of HAVING to listen to an entire album of music, because it’s so easy to find “the popular song” and listen to nothing else. In many ways, it’s too easy. My daughter will never know what it’s like to make a mixtape for a crush or her best friend; or be aware of all the thought and time that goes into such an effort. I’m grateful to have access to millions of songs and artists, but continue to lament for the element of discovery and appreciation that has been lost. There is much at our disposal, and too much is easily disposed.

CD Collection


Mr. Brooks smells like love
on a Saturday morning.
Love and passion fruit,
sweet with juice to dribble
and dark seeds.

Spreading himself too thin
jam or preserves…
she doesn’t deserve
him at all.
He gets hot when she smiles.

He barks, she bites
and which is stronger?
This bond is broken,
taking with it…dreams

of California’s ocean side
and a thin-lipped smile
which is never wide enough
to drive you home,
Mr. Brooks.


Uncle Ted smokes a cigarette.
It’s cherried,
until tufts of smoke
flare from his nostrils.
He rides a motorcycle on weekends.

My dad kneels, solemnly
near his mother’s grave.
He places lilies and baby’s breath
directly behind the headstone.
The Salem Cemetery is generally
slow on Sunday.

The veterans have their crosses lined up
neatly in perfect rows.
The stars and stripes wave freedom
and stink of death.
My Grandpa fought in World War II.

My mother sighs
as she gets in the stifling hot car.
I prop my swollen knee
on a fluffy pillow
and close my eyes.


Once he struggled to find himself and he told me about it. He had always written poetry and love songs, but refrained from sharing them. He was usually toying with my mind and when I was in a good mood I let him toy with my heart too.

I never really told him how much I hated life or how I felt about him. He said I always looked happy. I knew I had decided to like chocolate brown eyes and humor, instead of long hair and science fiction. I swore myself to secrecy on that one.

Sometimes, I watched midnight movies and thought about him. Then I would stay awake listening to Abbey Road. He liked to go to bed early and always seemed drowsy if I called past 10:00. I tried to avoid late-night conversations for fear I might say something I didn’t truly mean.

So tonight I lie awake because when he dropped me off, I told him I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. He said he’d go home and dream quickly. Then I wondered if he snores and if he would wear his navy blue slippers when he gets up in the morning.


Our art class was held in the dark basement room of the since demolished Central Middle School. I always looked forward to that 50-minute period as a reprieve from asquared + btothethirdpower = a cow jumped over the moon or running endless laps in the gymnasium. The art class was also a time where I broke away from most of the same-old-same-old students in my gifted core classes to spend time with other students in the school. It was in art class that I first met Nancy, who became one of my dearest friends.

Mr. Wood, our teacher, was a non-descript man. He was rather short with graying hair and his words seemed to slur together. He probably had a flask in his desk. No one could blame him, for being with a classroom full of teens day after day must wear on anyone. I don’t remember learning much from his jumble of words, but once he was done talking, we were released into the expansive outer room — lined with tables, workshop spaces, and cabinets. For being a space that was designated for art, it was poorly lit and would have struck any outsider as depressing. There were a couple bulletin board walls where we sometimes displayed our latest drawings, but other than that, the room was void of anything that would have indicated it was used for learning the finer things. This was not the type of classroom environment where students would hang their artwork and then offer critiques or constructive criticisms to one another. Everyone was left to their own devices and many kids skipped out after the roll had been called. I was too much of a goody-goody during my junior high years to ever contemplate skipping class.

Despite the general lack of instruction, I have completely unclouded memories of time spent in the art basement. Mr. Wood was big on lettering. One thing he did attempt to teach us was how to create block letters, which had a 3D-like characteristic. I always found the “S” to be a challenge and could never get it to look quite right. Penmanship had been my strong suit from a young age. I loved the way the calligraphy pens had to be angled just so, and when pressed, the ink would flow into a wavy “r” or a loopy “y”. Another designated project I recall was meant to be an optical illusion. The instruction was to draw a grid within a certain shape and then fill in every other space with dark pen or marker. If you stood a couple feet away from the piece, and let your eyes soften, the lines would begin to move or suck you into their depths.

At one point during my eighth grade year, we made jewelry. This was a pretty advanced effort, given how infrequently we received actual instruction in the class. There was a hot blue wax substance we used to craft rings, pendants, and other items. We had little drills that we would use to work the metal smooth once it had hardened. During a lunch hour, Nancy and our other friend Liz were in the art room messing around with jewelry and drills, likely unbeknownst to the teacher. Liz wasn’t paying attention and before she knew it, she had a little drill spun into her wavy black hair. Hearing Nancy breathlessly retelling the story in between gasps of laughter became a favorite thing, “And then, ‘zooooop’ the drill was caught in Liz’s hair!” I don’t recall exactly how the scenario ended, but I’m fairly sure it involved scissors for drill removal surgery. I cannot remember which of us first discovered that we could decorate our fingernails with wax drippings, but somehow, the three of us thought it was a genius idea. Once we each had a finished piece of jewelry for “grading” (a loosely used term in this class), we spent a significant amount of time heating wax, and dripping it onto our fingernails. Each little drop burned and stung, but we had to try and be quiet practicing our craft so we wouldn’t get caught. (I’m not sure what the consequence would have been, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been significant.) Once a ball of wax was resting on a fingernail, you had to hold in an “eeeeee” or an “ah-ah-ah” and then casually blow on it until it was dry. At one point, probably as a resort of our tears of stifled laughter post-wax application, Mr. Wood turned from the drill area, sauntered towards us, and asked, “What are you girls doing?” It was as if we became synced robots. All three of us had our hands under the table, quickly rubbed the then-dried wax off our nails, and casually brought our hands up to rest on the table as we chorused, “Nothing.” While we held in laughter, Mr. Wood gave us a look of skepticism, and walked back to his drill bits.

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I brought in a 110mm camera my grandma had given me. It was a great source of amusement to us. In 1991 you rarely saw a camera at school. We took an entire roll of pictures, and despite the basement gloom, it was definitely one of the happiest times of my young teen life. A nagging pit of sadness creeps into my gut when I think that students no longer experience the slightly oblivious Mr. Wood and the dank of the art room basement.
Nancy, Liz & me Nancy, Liz & me

                                Central Middle School                           Mr. Wood & his pupils


Last night
you haunted my dreams,
like the ghost-owner
of an 18th-century Victorian.

You peeled some twenties
from your back pocket
to purchase a bag
of weed-laced Doritos;
handing the crumpled bills to your ruddy faced dealer
whose hands were larger than was natural.

They were the best chips
I’d ever tasted,
even though they were the color of moss,
and after eating a few
we were giggling
like Catholic school girls
with a dirty secret.

There were paddles
and fluorescent bouncy balls
so we played a game of
table tennis,
but we were in such fits of laughter
that I don’t think we kept score.

I produced a notebook and a pen
and sat on the floor
in a nearby apartment alone.
The words wouldn’t stop flowing
and I could tell they were the best
I had ever written
but can’t recall them now.

I was happy,
blissfully happy,
and that’s how I know it was a dream
because you were there,
and I was elated.
That never happened in real life.


even when the story is my own,
I don’t know where it began.

Perhaps with a fly’s
incessant buzz around my head
or back to that time
you told me I didn’t matter anymore.

It could have started strong,
and eventually petered out
like an inexperienced runner.
Or the inverse could be true —
the beginning was a weak thing,
the neck of a newborn,
that evolved into a Led Zeppelin
guitar lick.

I often sit and wonder
where and why it ever started at all.
How my perfect visage
eventually cramped
and broke into all these shards —
a broom isn’t determined enough
to sweep them up completely.

People will talk.
They will say,
“She always was small.
She always looked tepid.”
I will lick my fingers,
and ask for a third helping.


Keep dishing it out,
and like the court’s fool,
I keep taking it.