Baby’s first second piercing

“Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!”
― James Oppenheim

When I was in New York over the summer, X and I got second piercings together–an extra hole in one lobe each. We decided to do it almost from the moment we started planning the trip and even picked out the piercer we wanted to use.

So much, so high school, you may be thinking. Why is this, the tiniest of body modifications worth a write up? Well, a third hole punch in my frame may be a rather dinky example of self actualization, but it’s important to me.

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Body modification was not an option growing up. LDS teachings place a high amount of reverence on the human body and care of it, which is also why there are the famous dietary restrictions Mormons are often noted for: no coffee, tea, or alcohol, and (supposedly) meat in moderation. Raised LDS, I grew up with a lot of presentation expectations around hemlines, sleeve lengths, hairstyles, tattoos (hard no), and piercings. The formal advice, though it can be enforced in some circumstances, being none for boys and one hole in each ear permissible for girls. There were a lot of rules for girls.

You can find this referenced and cited multiple times in official church literature. I went looking for a link reference for this blog post and ended up with the following, which is instructive in its own right.

I started typing in the words “women should” in the website search bar, and the auto fill in immediately supplied “stay home” on my behalf. Thoughtful of it. But there, right beneath the advice of “women should be women and not babies” (a baffling admonition), and “women should follow their husbands and he follows the counsel from god” (to which, no), is the statement, “women should only wear one pair of earrings.” It’s a bit hard to read, but it’s there, right above “women should avoid paid employment.”

 

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This direction about earrings is something I heard specifically and multiple times growing up, and I experienced dress codes enforcing the one earring rule (among other requirements) which are in place at most church activities, and at its institutions like universities. I adhered to these expectations and didn’t think too much about it. I wasn’t particularly bothered about strictures on earrings and didn’t even get around to having my ears pierced until I was 13; I believe my sister still hasn’t at 19 simply because she doesn’t care to.

But as time went on and my opinions developed, I came to see this rule as a very minor cog in a much larger and troubling context of women’s and gender issues in the church and its culture. These eventually led (through a long and complex route I won’t bore you with again) to me deciding to leave the church and renegotiate my relationship to its organisation and teachings. I’ve sense felt the need to review a lot of my notions about my body and what I choose to do with it. It’s not in my nature to be impulsive about my corporeal form, a lot of the reverence I was raised with still lingers, but getting a second piercing was something I’d wanted to do for a long time–since my early 20s and then largely due to a misguided belief that it would look “rebellious.” Oh, youth.

And so, I made a decision to get another hole punched, and plotted and planned with my best friend–who has written publicly and far more eloquently than I have ever managed to about her own faith transition–to do it together. We made a girls day of it, shopped, got bespoke lipsticks, sat next to each other in the piercing studio, had a long and winding talk about faith journeys afterwards at brunch.

It’s tiny but it was a gesture that made me feel as if my body was really mine in a way it didn’t before. Not a loan from on high, not a meat house for the soul, but genuinely something that belonged to me in my own right.

Having the unexpected experience of seeing how many other gender admonitions are connected to such a trivial thing during a website search on jewelry was just reconfirmation that the issues I found so upsetting are still there. Possibly getting worse as strict concepts of bodies and purity and gender roles continue to be emphasized in the way that the organization does, and in some cases such as LGBT issues, is doubling down on.

Out of interest and fairness, I decided to check the auto fill on the site again more recently in drafting this post. The mention of earrings was not longer suggested. However there are now two references to women “hearkening” unto their husbands, one to dressing modestly with two about specific dressing standards, three references to either “staying” home or not working outside of it, and the most troubling suggestion which seems to be a variation on a statement on rape from a book by a prominent former church leader published in 1969–that it’s better to die fending off rape than live through it. I myself heard variations on this theme throughout youth and young adulthood and though I don’t believe it’s claimed as a public position anywhere in the church today, the fact that mangled versions of this idea are common enough to still being generated by algorithmic search suggestions is pretty disheartening.

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I also checked again today, out of morbid curiosity at this point. An auto fill suggestion about earrings is back–the problematic suggestion about rape survival remains.

My piercing has healed now and I don’t regret it in the slightest. In a twist of fate, the same piercing studio has now set up shop on the ground floor at Liberty and has begun singing a siren song to me to get another. I’m probably going to give in eventually.

 

Emails With Friends: Big Brother is Watching You

“I’m listening to this hilariously epic album of Icelandic folk music. My YouTube history is so fucking aleatoire.”
“My YouTube history is bonkers but it’s proof that internet algorithms work. As I type this my recommended vids include: a documentary on quantum mechanics, an outrageous makeup tutorial, PBS NewsHour, Beyonce concert videos from fans, and a record from 1958 called “Hip Harp” which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wonder my computer hasn’t exploded.”
– Katarina and C.

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Monday Links

“When Adam and Eve were dispossessed Of the garden hard by Heaven, They planted another one down in the west, ‘Twas Devon, glorious Devon!”
-Sir Harold Edwin Boulton

Hi, kittens! Your links are a day late this week, and that’s because I spent the weekend in a tiny village on the Devon coast with very little wifi. It was delightful, I’m not a bit sorry to be tardy. Full post coming eventually, but in the meantime, enjoy your links and let me know what the week holds for you. Ours holds a move…wish us luck!

Clearly, the view was hideous. HIDEOUS.
Clearly, the view was hideous. HIDEOUS.

Pockets for all, votes for women!

This longform piece really hit me as I have noticed an increasing fractal pattern to my attention span and way of thinking that I feel can be at least partially attributed to the media world and age we live in. It’s everywhere and it’s nearly impossible to shut out…and I agree that the culture of always being “on” and “accessible” has consequences.

Nothing says SDS clickbait like ancient archaeology.

A surprisingly good deep dive into the end of Brangelina.

Honestly, you couldn’t make this shit up in a sitcom generator.

Achieving a new museum.

Let me sing you the song of my people. Apparently.

Beauty PSA, people! Ilia lipsticks have arrived at Sephora. If you are looking for an ethical brand, I’ve found the pigment load is worth the price tag.

I’m both intrigued and repelled by the notion of communal living.

Finally, major fistbump to not just Gigi Hadid for standing up for herself both physically and verbally, but all the journalists and People Online who called BS on a sexist headline and situation.

Services at the Tower

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love getting in when or where others can’t. It’s not a noble confession, but it’s an honest one. And if you want a fantastic private peek into what is normally a very public space, make some time in your weekend calendar to attend Sunday services at the Tower of London. The main doors don’t open until after the first of two services (one communion, the other a sung matins), though a side gate admits service attendees without a ticket, and it’s an amazing chance to see this world heritage site nearly free of people. Redcoats excepted.

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The Tower still functions as a military fortress, though the vast majority of its activities are understandably ceremonial. The Beefeaters may wear Tudor era uniforms but their assignment is a proper posting and a detachment of the Queen’s Guard stands sentry over the Crown Jewels.

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However like all military bases, there’s a cottage community thriving here. Beefeaters live at the Tower, often with families, and there is also a small but famous Royal Chapel still in operation under the pastoral care of a military chaplain. St Peter ad Vincula (St Peter in Chains) is a Tudor church famous as the resting place of Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Katherine Howard, Lady/Queen Jane Grey, St Thomas Moore, Margaret Pole, and others.

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Attending a service here has been on my list of things To Do since moving to London, but I just never really got around to it. Then I went through the death throes of a faith crisis and didn’t really want to do anything more church-y than Christmas–which I still love and always will–and it fell off the radar. And then a friend friend from the MoFem (Mormon feminist) community invited me to attend on September 11th and it seemed a fitting thing to do.

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One of the ravens stood by as a small group filed in for services, beak wide open and likely expecting one of the familiar uniforms to provide him breakfast.

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Katie and I attended both the communion service and the sung matins, which I particularly enjoyed. Between the sessions, we wolfed down croissants and chatted about faith, community, expat life, and the nerdy history of the Book of Common Prayer. Totally normal touristy stuff.

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The congregation was not large, but we weren’t the only Americans there and as a military brat, it was nice to hear a few words on the day from a chaplain whose career was focused in and around active service. The fact that he managed to tie in references to Poldark and Great British Bake Off, before circling around to familiar parables was just icing on the cake. In spite of the day, and the remembrances of the day, the whole experience felt friendly.

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It may not be your usual cup of tea, but it’s worth trying, even if just to sit in stillness in a lovely place for a while.

Weekend Links

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
― William Cullen Bryant

This weekend, fall landed! The temperature fell after an unseasonable (and not very pleasant, in my opinion) hot first half of the month and yesterday I pulled out a proper jumper for the first time. The leaves on the tree in our courtyard are starting to change color at the tips, which is making me a bit nostalgic because it’s the last time I’ll see that happen in our first little London flat. New York Fashion Week closed up shop and London Fashion Week is kicking off, so there’s lots of media to follow that doesn’t remind one of a dumpster fire for a change. Some people live for spring or summer, but I find fall the best season for feeling refreshed, optimistic, and energetic.

These weekend we’re hitting up some street and food festivals, though a bit slowly as I seem to have come down with a minor case of food poisoning that’s not great but nothing so bad as that week long plague I caught years ago. Slow but functional is the name of the game. We’re also continuing the hunt for furniture for the new place and we packed up the majority of our closet to get started on the move process. We’re now living out of drawers for the next twelve days. The countdown is on!

Here are your links, let me know what you’re getting up to this weekend.

I may have snagged a Fashion Week beauty purchase...possibly...
I may have snagged a Fashion Week beauty purchase…possibly…

Interesting piece at Politico on the intersection of Little House on the Prairie and conservative politics.

What the hell, America?!

Let’s pull a Shakespeare and invent some words.

A new royal grave (potentially)? Excellent!

The Great and Good Sophie and Margaret of Two Bossy Dames are to thank for making me aware this exists. I am forever in their debt. Dame Margaret is one of my major internet girl crushes and if she ever comes to London there will be shameless fangirling appeals on her time from one C. Small Dog.

I shall be following this avidly.

Is there really a market for these? Seriously? I quite literally stumbled upon this page during a late night Amazon browsing session and have no idea what to make with of them.

An ode to the black leather jacket.

And finally, friend of the blog Grace over at Cultural Life has a new addition and the photos are shockingly cute. Go forth and indulge in a bit of squeeing!

Emails With Friends: Interior Design

“We like an obscenely expensive sofa and there are a million and a half online mattress companies. Also EVERYTHING is mid-century at the moment which is getting tiring. Actually, we found an great antique store with amazingly reasonable prices. Hidden gem for sure. I don’t need a taxidermy giraffe head or French tailor’s drawers…but I want them.”
“I definitely 100% need a taxidermy giraffe’s head, but then again, the amount of taxidermy mounts I have bookmarked = many.”
“I am currently flirting with the most charming taxidermy fox I found at a random street market last Friday. To go in my perforce mid-century apartment, apparently.”
“I’m really lucky that I have several great family pieces at my disposal (bed, vanity, piano), but I’m still so impatient because I have a very strong idea of what I want and it’s like, OKAY LET’S IMMEDIATELY BUY gazelle heads and masonic thrones and 19th-c maps and ENORMOUS POTTED PALMS and also, CHINA…
[later]
“…by which I meant, like, china dishes. Not the country; clarification is probably necessary.”
“Yeah, I totally read “china” as the country, but just assumed that had to do with the colonial elements of your design ambition. Heck, I live in Britain. The country that just rolled up to everywhere else in the world and said, ‘This wall. I like it. We’ll take it.'”
-C. and Katarina

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Sleep On It

“There is a certain proper and luxurious way of lying in bed. Confucius, that great artist of life, “never lay straight” in bed, “like a corpse”, but always curled up on one side. I believe one of the greatest pleasures of life is to curl up one’s legs in bed. The posture of the arms is also very important, in order to reach the greatest degree of aesthetic pleasure and mental power. I believe the best posture is not lying flat on the bed, but being upholstered with big soft pillows at an angle of thirty degrees with either one arm or both arms placed behind the back of one’s head.”
― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

Serious question: how many online mattress companies are there?

I am a podcast and public radio listening millennial who wants to support small businesses, and buys into the idea of buying more or less straight from a manufacturer or designer. This sort of model is right up my stereotypical street. However, the sheer amount of options being lobbed at me as we look at trying to fit out a new place are ludicrous. Caspar, Eve, Simba, Leesa, Yogabed, Tuft & Needle, Loon & Leaf, Keetsa, and goodness knows what others I’m missing–I’m sure the comment section will educate me.

More curiously, what was the impetus for every start up and their ping-pong-court-and-smoothie-bar-holding campus to decide that mattresses was the next great frontier to be conquered? What caused this convergence? Have we reached peak, direct to consumer mattress yet? And did they all use the same two branding agencies or something? So many mysteries…