Six Good Reasons To Kiss The Irish

kiss me im irishSt. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, and it’s a time that being Irish is celebrated. Although my ancestry includes a mix of Irish, English, Native American, and Scandinavian, if somebody asks me – I’ll say I’m Irish.

In November when our family went to England, we took an unexpected trip over to Dublin for a day. We couldn’t fly out of Manchester because flights were full, and the train rides and exit fees from Heathrow would have been pretty expensive. However, if we bought some ID-90 passes for Dublin, we had an almost certain shot at getting seats in business elite for our flight back to the US. So we got some tickets on Aer Lingus and enjoyed less than 15 hours in Ireland (half of which were spent asleep). We walked the streets, had some delicious Irish coddle, enjoyed little shops and did a fair amount of people-watching. Those hours in Dublin whet my desire to spend a significant time in Blea Cliath (the nickname for Dublin). Someday!
dublin collage

Last week we published this infographic at work, and it’s all about kissing the Irish. With stats like this, you can see why I’m proud to be Irish!

6 Good Reasons To Kiss The Irish [infographic]

Are you Irish? Or do you just like to pretend to be at St. Patrick’s Day? Either way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day this weekend!

Wearing Pants To Church On Sunday

mormons pants on sunday

I’m a Mormon.

Did you know that? Although I’ve been a member of the Church for my entire life, many people have said that this surprises them. While  I dress modestly, avoid coffee and alcohol, go to church almost every Sunday, live in Utah, and refrain from swearing (usually), I’m used to getting a startled look from my acquaintances who have assumed that I’m not Mormon.

My sense of humor has an edge of crassness that I can’t deny. I have opinions, and as a blogger have found a good platform for speaking my mind. “Slightly inappropriate” is part of my blog’s tagline. I have a progressive view on many topics.

So, why don’t people think I’m a Mormon? Maybe it’s because I didn’t do a profile for the “I’m a Mormon” campaign.  Maybe it’s because I have friends of various ethnicities, sexual preferences, and walks of life. More than anything, I think it’s because I adhere to LDS Church doctrine, but I’m not a strict adherent to every facet and social norm of Mormon culture. Especially Utah Mormon culture. I’ve lived in six different states around the US, attending church outside of Utah for most of my life.
So. Let’s get to the topic.

Wear Pants to Church Day.

If you aren’t familiar with the hullabaloo about Wear Pants to Church Day event , read up here. Or here. Or here. Or here.

The Wear Pants to Church day is not challenging a rule, but it is against the Mormon social norm. Nothing in Mormon doctrine nor official church policy says that wearing pants to church is wrong or breaking a rule. But it’s the cultural expectation in the Mormon church, especially in Utah, that women must wear dresses and skirts to church.

I will admit. I lean toward the feminist side. Not necessarily because I think that all women have been disenfranchised, but because I embrace the divinity of womanhood. I am proud to be female, and I am glad that there are things about me that make me different from a man. That being said, I am not a raging “Femi-Nazi”, or even an outed Mormon feminist. I am not wearing pants because I want a change to official Church policy, but I am wearing pants because I’m concerned about the harsh ways people are treated when they don’t fit the social norm at church.

From Feminist Mormon Housewives:

“What makes social norms so powerful is that they often are not enforced by the hierarchy or someone in formal position, but rather we all enforce them on each other.  We do this by treating people who break the social norm as deviant.  This can be as clear as screaming hate speech at them or telling them how wrong/awful they are, but it can also be as subtle as the sideway glance, the fake smile or the cold shoulder.  Alternatively, those who follow the norm can receive more acceptance, quicker dinner invitations, more visible callings, faster friendships.   Often social norms don’t operate as clear bright lines, but often in matters of increment and degrees.”

mormon modesty short dressThe topic of modesty has been an oft discussed topic in the LDS bloggosphere (AKA the Bloggernacle). It is a cardinal sin in Mormon culture to be deemed immodest, but there are so many opinions on what is modest and appropriate attire for Mormon women (and token Mormon men, too). There is too much shaming in the church over modesty. And while modesty isn’t the topic of this post, it’s definitely related – It’s likely that you’ll be shamed or judged if you wear the wrong thing. Especially if you’re wearing the wrong thing to church.

For this reason, there is a proliferation of modest boutiques in Utah, which specialize in clothing items that cover up the parts of your body (like your shoulders) so that temple garments are covered. Although there is some cute stuff on their website, it cracks me up that a store called Sexy Modest even exists. I like to wear clothes that fit my body well, and sometimes trousers and a blouse look dressier than a dress.

My friend Sue gave a wonderful summation of her thoughts on the Pants to Church issue on Facebook yesterday. It’s lengthy, but worth reading:

I plan to wear pants on Sunday, if I go at all.

Here’s what I don’t understand about the furor over the event. It wasn’t a protest. The church, as lately as last Tuesday, has already said that pants are fine at church. So there is no rebellion in it. It was a simple, quiet way to show solidarity and support with those who might not be totally orthodox. A way to perhaps quietly identify other women who struggle with the same concerns about what it means to be a woman in the LDS church. There is nothing attention seeking in showing up at church in a pair of pants. There is nothing disruptive about it. It was just a nice, harmless thing. A way to say, you know what, feminist lady who often feels alone and disenfranchised at church – we support you. We’re quietly here and around you. We recognize that not all women share these concerns. Some women feel valued and loved and respected in the church. Nobody denies that. But there are some women who do NOT feel that way. This was, as Courtney said, about outreach.

But people went absolutely bat-crap crazy about it. Some of the responses from conservative members were hateful and cruel and vicious. My friend Stephanie Lauritzen received death threats. DEATH THREATS for encouraging women to wear pants – SOMETHING THAT IS TOTALLY ALLOWED. And then it did become about standing up for something.

One thing that makes me sad about this are the many, many comments inviting people to leave the church if they don’t like it. TO LEAVE. Let me ask my true believing friends and family this question, because I really don’t understand it. If you believe you have the one true path to God, how can you justify inviting someone to step off that path? If you believe that the church saves people, and brings us back to Heavenly Father, how can you justify encouraging people to leave the church? Aren’t you then working directly for the adversary, trying to lead people away from his church? Please explain that line of thinking to me. You are uncomfortable with how someone else thinks/feels/believes/works through their Mormonism, and so, instead of embracing the fact that we are all in different places in our faith journey, you INVITE THEM TO LEAVE. I don’t understand this.

I’ve also heard a lot of complaining about disenfranchised/inactive/former Mormons being involved in this. When you leave the church, why can’t you just leave it alone, they ask. Here are my thoughts. It is really hard to “just leave” the church. There are a lot of good reasons for staying and trying to make it work for you. Maybe you are married to a member. Maybe your kids are Mormon. Maybe you are afraid to lose your friends. Maybe your entire social structure is built around Mormonism and you don’t want your kids to be ostracized. Maybe you love a lot of the religion and see good in it and want to make it work, but have a lot of concerns that you are trying to work through. Maybe you are intellectually connected to Mormonism. Maybe you are angry because you feel lied to. Maybe you love the people. Maybe you HAVE left, but you have parents, family members and friends who still judge you for it, admonish you for it, mourn over your inactivity. Maybe you have parents who remind you every week that they are putting your name on the temple rolls and are praying for you to return, making you feel like crap. Maybe you are tired of being judged for your beliefs. Maybe you love green jello and roadshows. Maybe it is your spiritual and cultural home and you are trying very very very hard to make it work, because it is a big part of who you are, and at the same time, knowing that the church DOES change and evolve, you are hoping to see it change and evolve in this regard as well. Maybe. Maybe a little of all of those things. It is really hard to just leave and leave it all behind. That doesn’t make people angry and possessed by Satan, that makes them human.

One thing this pants event has taught me is that you just can’t disentangle the culture from the religion. I have had so many well meaning true believing friends respond to some of my objections by saying “that’s cultural, not doctrinal”. Well now we know what happens when you push back against the culture, even in a totally harmless way. It seems like the culture is just as much the religion as the doctrine. It makes me really sad, and it makes me feel a whole lot less welcome and able to continue attending. But I won’t be pushed out until I am ready to leave and convinced that it won’t harm my family to do so. So l will quietly sit behind the piano again this week, fulfilling my primary pianist calling. I will be there in body if not entirely in spirit, and I will continue to allow my patient, understanding bishop to have hope that he will eventually win me back over to the right side mentally, however futile that hope might be.

And I will be wearing pants.

Can you see why wearing pants isn’t a bad thing?

For the record:

  • I am not in direct rebellion with church doctrine.
  • I am not trying to be a dissenter.
  • I am not possessed by Satan.
  • I am not breaking the rules.
  • I am not rallying for women to be given the Priesthood
  • I am not begging for absolute equality of the genders within the Church
  • I am not asking for a change to official Church policy
  • I have no problem with wearing a dress or skirt
  • I am not asking for others to wear a skirt, but to understand why I won’t be wearing one tomorrow

I am silently showing support for my sisters who feel like they don’t fit in at church. It is a show of respect, not disrespect.

My faith has waxed and waned over the years. I’ve had a difficult time moving from ward to ward, and always being immediately called into Primary (8 or my last 9 callings have been primary teacher or nursery leader). I feel a little out of touch with the workings of the Relief Society (despite doing my visiting teaching, attending mid-week activities, reading the lesson manuals, etc). And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

However – I am currently feeling the most faithful I have in years. I am excited about the progress the church is making worldwide. I pray. I am temple-worthy. I’m feeling less jaded with Mormonism than I was, say, a year ago. I’ve had recent and magnificent promptings of the Spirit. I feel more faith in mankind. And despite the horrible tragedies that happen in the world, like the shootings in Connecticut yesterday, I think there is so much good in the world.

I don’t think anything bad will come of me wearing pants tomorrow, but I expect it cause some confusion and questions. I hope it will generate some conversation about acceptance, and why social norms and culture of the church are not doctrine. And especially, why we should not shame others or ask them to leave the church over trivial matters.

As the 11th Article of Faith says,

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.

If we allow others to worship how they see fit, it shouldn’t matter if they are wearing trousers.

So readers, tell me. Will you be wearing pants to church tomorrow?

My Evil Cult Avatar

cuteculturechic is in an evil cult

cuteCULTurechic by @joshspeters

Thanks to Josh Peters, I have an evil avatar to emphasize the CULT in cuteCULTurechick.***

Yesterday on Twitter, Stephanie, aka @sahans, was going through a tweet-life crisis. She was brainstorming ideas for a new Twitter handle. I suggested a few…specifically ones that had to do with her obsessions of Snuggies, BumpIts, unicorns and sparkly things. I still think @Stephicorny was the best, but she decided to stick with @sahans. In this discussion, Josh joked about the evil pronunciation of Sahans = sawhands. One thing led to another, and Stephanie became “Sawhands McSnuggie.”

@sahans evil avatar
Changing your online persona can be a pretty traumatic experience. Your name becomes your “personal brand.” Once you change your username, especially on Twitter…you can lose a bit of your identity. Do I love my name “cuteculturechick?” Well, it worked for my online dating profile in 2003, and it’s just stuck with me. If I’d been thinking clearly when I grabbed a Twitter account in 2008, I would have picked @nicolebullock. I have @_nicolebullock that I use occasionally (typically for LDS General Conference). But once you’ve established yourself online, and branded yourself…it’s just impossible to give up who you are.

But in the meantime, Steph and I have AWESOME evil avatars. Thanks, Josh!

***I’m not really in a cult, despite what many say about my faith


October is my favorite month of the year. Not only does the shift in weather punctuate, the end of the hot, oppressive summer; October is the month that I celebrate my wedding anniversary with my Tayviator. The days and nights are a bipolar mix between needing the heat and air-conditioning on. The leaves on the trees change color, shed their verdant rainment, and bear their naked skeleton for a season. The world becomes more monochromatic, making Spring colors even more delightful.

I love breathing in October, especially in Utah. The air is not too dry, not to cold. It’s crisp. It’s invigorating. It’s great for a few weeks before Jack Frost makes a daily residence, thereby torturing my asthmatic lungs. The precipitation tends to be rainy, which I love. Occasionally a few days of Indian Summer will pop up, but I rarely have to deal with temperatures over 80 degrees. The first dusting of snow happens, as it did yesterday, and the “3 month holiday season” begins.  October is my happy place.

In high school French class, I listened to “Octobre” by Francis Cabrel. Every October since, I’ve listened to this song to get in the mood. Click on the video below, and enjoy the soothing music and voice of “France’s James Taylor.”

Octobre de Francis Cabrel

Le vent fera craquer les branches / The wind will rustle in the branches
La brume viendra dans sa robe blanche / The mist will come in its white dress
Y’aura des feuilles partout / There will be leaves everywhere
Couchées sur les cailloux /Lying on the pebbles
Octobre tiendra sa revanche / October will have its revenge
Le soleil sortira à peine / The sun will be just gone
Nos corps se cacheront / Our bodies will hide themselves
Sous des bouts de laine / Beneath bits of wool
Perdue dans tes foulards / Lost in your scarves
Tu croiseras le soir / You will pass October
Octobre endormi aux fontaines /October asleep at the fontains
Il y aura certainement, / There will be certainly
Sur les tables en fer blanc /On the tables of tin
Quelques vases vides qui traînent / Some empty vases lying around
Et des nuages pris aux antennes / And some clouds hanging onto antennas
Je t’offrirai des fleurs / I will offer you flowers
Et des nappes en couleurs / And colored tablecloths
Pour ne pas qu’Octobre nous prenne / So October won’t capture us
On ira tout en haut des collines / We will run to the top of the hills
Regarder tout ce qu’Octobre illumine / And see everything that October is illuminating
Mes mains sur tes cheveux / My hand on your hair
Des écharpes pour deux / Scarves for the both of us
Devant le monde qui s’incline /The world will give into us
Certainement appuyés sur des bancs / Certainly resting on a bench
Il y aura quelques hommes qui se souviennent / There will be some men who remember
Et des nuages pris sur les antennes / And some clouds hanging on antennas
Je t’offrirai des fleurs / I will offer you flowers
Et des nappes en couleurs / And colorful tablecloths
Pour ne pas qu’Octobre nous prenne / So October won’t capture us
Et sans doute on verra apparaître / And without a doubt, we will
Quelques dessins sur la buée des fenêtres / See some paintings of condensation on the windows
Vous, vous jouerez dehors / You, you will be playing outside
Comme les enfants du nord / Like the children from the north
Octobre restera peut-être. / October will stay, maybe

The End of The End

Forgive me for my recent lack of posting…I’ve been in mourning.

My absolute favorite radio station of all time, 101.9 The End, disappeared off the Salt Lake area airwaves last Wednesday. I had less than an hour of notice before the last songs of Utah’s Rock Alternative played.

I’m a music junkie. I’m a fan of terrestrial radio. I spend ridiculous amounts of time in my car. Good music is a MUST when I drive. Despite my loaded 120 GB iPod, I like me a little sassy bit of radio personality peppered in. I’ve found stations in other states and cities that I’m loyal to (particularly 93.9 The River in Detroit), and thankfully most of them broadcast online. But it was like the air was stolen out of my lungs to have MY STATION lose its DJs and go jockless. And does America need another crappy Gen X radio station? I think not.

O dear Grant Ruby, Cort and Chunga, and all the others at The End who made the world a happier musical place, please accept my devoted love to you. I wish you much success to you in the future. You’ve got a fan for life.

Now excuse me while I begrudgingly reset the preset stations on my car stereo.

UPDATE JANUARY 2011: They’re back on the air!!!

Meeting Keane, and other brushes with stardom in 2009

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I love going to concerts, symphonies, operas, plays, and musicals.

My favorite concert of 2009 was Keane at the Hollywood Palladium (with Mat Kearney as the opener). My “bosom friend” Esther treated me to my ticket for my birthday, and we met up with my friends Kathryn and Elizabeth in Hollywood for a night we’ll never forget last May. I was recently going through my pictures of 2009, and realized that I never blogged about my experience meeting Keane after the concert, nor had I mentioned other “celebrities” I met in the past year.
The Palladium is a fantastic venue, and I was excited to actually be there for a performance (after being a lifetime closet fan of The Lawrence Welk Show.) It underwent a very extensive renovation that was completed 6 months earlier in 2008, but it still had the retro charm. Mat Kearney, who has become one of my other recent music obsessions, performed a stellar opening set (and Esther and I saw Mat again in SLC in October). Keane’s set was phenomenal…the best performance I’d seen of their three concerts I’ve attended (Coincidentally, all in LA). After the show, us girls were DETERMINED to meet our favorite band. We waited out on the street by the door, shivering in the cold next to the tour bus, for over an hour until the boys from Battle came out to greet their adoring fans.

Esther with Tim

Kat with Tim

An awkward shot of me with Tim (there wasn’t any time for retaking pics)

Tom greeting his adoring fans

Esther fondling Richard’s ear (I mean, caressing his cheek)

Another embarassingly bad shot of me by Tom post-autograph (I was the dedicated photographer of the post-concert experience, so there aren’t any decent pics of me)

I was lucky to go to more concerts in 2009 than any other prior year. Despite my anorexic bank account, family and friends with connections hooked me up with great tickets throughout the year (They no longer think it odd when I tell them which concert tickets I want for my birthday and Christmas) I also got some insanely cheap concert tickets off Twitter and fan sites. Here’s my 2009 list:

January: Missy Higgins, Justin Nozuka, and Lenka at Atlanta Center Stage
February: Flight of the Conchords at Atlanta Fox Theater
2 Fox Elipsus Shows (Austell and Snellville, GA)
March: New Kids on the Block at The Bi-Lo Center, Greenville, SC
April: Jersey Boys in Chicago (technically a Broadway musical, but it FELT like a concert)
May: Keane and Mat Kearney at the Hollywood Palladium
June: No Doubt at Atlanta’s Lakewood Amphitheater
August: Greg Laswell and Elizabeth and the Catapult at the Murray Theater
Iron and Wine at Gallivan Center, SLC (sort of…long story)
October: Mat Kearney and Vedera at In the Venue, SLC
November: Imogen Heap at In The Venue, SLC
Justin Nozuka and Elizabeth and the Catapult, Glass House, Pomona, CA
December: Natalie Cole with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Salt Lake City
Peter Breinholt (et al.) at Rose Wagner Theater, Salt Lake City

Throughout the year, I did meet a handful of celebs. Here are the pictures I was able to snag…

Me with Elizabeth (of Elizabeth and the Catapult)

Missy Higgins (I was 5 feet away from her at the merch table, but Taylor didn’t want to wait in line to meet her) I DID have a wonderful 5 minute conversation with her in 2005 in SLC.


Rosie with Peter Breinholt (I could write a whole blog post about these two…)

Rosie and I with Ryan Shupe (of Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band)

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir – obviously, I didn’t meet the whole choir, but I have several friends and relatives who are in MoTab, or the Orchestra on Temple Square


Waiting in line to meet David Archuleta at his Christmas CD signing in November

This goofy Archie kid went to Murray High, where I graduated, and used to hang out with my sister Mary. When she came with us to the CD signing, he said “Hey Mary, I like your hoodie!”

Rosie with HER favorite (American) Idol