New at Rosetta Stones: Let’s Take a Scientific Trip to Seattle’s Seward Park!

I have, at long last, begun the Seattle adventure series requested by Rosetta Stones reader Galway. This trip, we’re visiting Seward Park, and all of the delicious geology within. There’s plenty of other science there for those strange people who don’t get really excited by rocks. Enjoy!

Stay tuned, for if all goes as planned, I should have some delicious photos from Mount Baker for you tomorrow, my darlings. And Misha’s had some adventures of her own she’ll share with you very soon. Also, too, there is a ginormous party going on at our place on Saturday, with some astonishingly awesome live music acts and an actual entomologist, so I’ll likely have photos and videos from that shindig for you once I’ve recovered. Swag will be forthcoming to those who asked for it, I swear, next week without fail. Thanks for your patience!

Do you want to know how devoted I am to you? [Read more…]

Trapped – Escape Chapter 5: “Linda’s Flight to Freedom”

In our last installment of Escape, we watched Carolyn’s sister Linda flee the FLDS cult with her friend Claudel, despite the threat of losing their families and being condemned to the worst portions of hell. In the last half of this chapter, we’ll see that running from the FLDS is one thing. Hiding successfully is quite another.

When women flee the FLDS, they’re hunted down like fugitives on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, only with less of a chance to evade capture. Linda and Claudel only manage a few days of freedom before they’re tracked and surrounded by a posse of their male relatives. The woman they’re staying with has to call the police to get rid of them, and even when told by the cops that the girls are legal adults and can do whatever they want, so scram, Linda’s dad won’t leave until he’s talked to her. She finally relents when he promises to leave her alone after they’ve spoken.

Pro tip: when an abusive asshole or a cult authority tells you they’ll stop bothering you if you’ll just talk to them this once, they’re lying. So, y’know, don’t bother. [Read more…]

Bringing Warren Jeffs to Justice: The Witness Wore Red Review

If you’ve read Elissa Wall’s harrowing Stolen Innocence, you already know a sliver of Rebecca Musser’s story. She’s Elissa’s sister, and was introduced under the pseudonym Kassandra. You’ll remember her as the vivacious young woman married to elderly prophet Rulon Jeffs. She had tried to make Elissa’s underage coerced wedding day less painful, became her lifeline, and left her devastated when she fled the cult. Later, Rebecca helped Elissa begin her escape by giving her a taste of life outside the FLDS. The sisters would later be instrumental in bringing Warren Jeffs to justice.

In The Witness Wore Red, we not only get Rebecca’s own story: we get aspects of Elissa’s story through her sister’s eyes, which helps broaden and deepen the context of both their lives. We see the Wall family as it was in the earlier days, before the new house, when Elissa and Rebecca’s part of the family would have to hide in the basement to escape the violent jealousy of their father’s other wife. We’re shown some of the domestic violence endemic to FLDS families, and the child sexual assault perpetrated so often within them – in addition to the violent other mother, Rebecca has to endure groping and attempted rape by an older half-brother. She, of course, is the one who gets called a whore when he assaults her.

If you’ve read Stolen Innocence first, it’s a bit confusing at first to navigate this book, which is using different names for people we already know from Elissa’s book, but you soon get everyone sorted out. And you’re too wrapped up in the trainwrecks of all these various lives to mind. Rebecca and her co-author are very good at putting you in Rebecca’s shoes, experiencing the stomach-clenching anxiety, anger, and despair of a girl trying to navigate the minefields of her religiously-smothered life.

She survives the FLDS school where Warren Jeffs rules, and gets a brief taste of adult life as a teacher, before being betrothed to 85 year-old Rulon Jeffs at the age of 18. Shortly after her 19th birthday, she becomes his 19th wife, very much against her own wishes. She’s never been given counseling to help her sort out the guilt and shame from her half-brother’s sexual assault, and on her wedding night, is desperately hoping humans are indeed higher than animals and that she won’t be forced to endure Rulon’s sexual advances. FLDS members are supposed to only have sex for procreation, and Rulon is far too old to sire children. But he has no regard for religious rules or Rebecca’s own wishes. Her only reprieve is the notion that with so many wives, he won’t be able to sleep with her often – but then learns that he only sleeps with his youngest wives, ignoring the older ones.

She’s able to go back to teaching, but it’s a difficult life for her. She witnesses the truth of the Jeffs men: they’re not exalted beings, but selfish, grasping men who love to degrade women. When Rulon has a stroke, she watches his son Warren step in and lie to the people. She looks on in horror as he begins to marry off younger and younger women. And then her young sister Elissa is forced into marriage at 14. We see Rebecca ordered to make Elissa happy, and watch her doing her best to cheer her while crying inside.

By the time Rulon dies, Rebecca is already almost at the end of her tether, having endured too much abuse and been forced to witness too many awful things. When Warren Jeffs starts marrying his father’s widows (an act prohibited by FLDS incest taboos, which he as prophet feels free to ignore), she finds herself questioning her faith. She begins a cautious friendship with Ben Musser, the only man she’s ever felt safe with. But after Ben kisses her, Warren tells her she’s cost Ben his salvation, and she’s going to be married to someone else within a week. She’s allowed to tell him her choice of men, but she’ll be forced to do something she’s adamantly against: enter another marriage.

She breaks. Then she makes a break for it, trusting a few scattered memories of the kindness of strangers on the outside. Ben escapes with her, and they begin a new life among the apostates, helped by her brothers who have already been kicked out of or left the cult. She describes how hard the transition is, how it’s difficult to make her own decisions, and learn how to function outside of the FLDS.

Ben begins a relationship with her, one that comes across as dubiously consensual to me. Soon, she’s pregnant, which causes a whole new set of issues. Ben stays with her, but the FLDS life is all they’ve ever known, and they fall into the old patterns of male dominance, which causes considerable strain.

When Warren Jeffs is arrested and Elissa’s former husband is brought up on charges of child rape, Rebecca becomes a witness against them. The last third of the book is her quest for justice, and freedom for the women still trapped inside the cult. She ends up testifying in many trials, always wearing red – a color Warren Jeffs had for forbidden.

Her work with the prosecution exposes her to the extent of the horrors Jeffs perpetrated. She’s there when his Texas compound is raided, and explains the significance of what they find there. Through her, we see the room in the FLDS temple where plural wives would have to witness their husband having sex with each of them, complete with a clerk to record the act. Girls as young as twelve were recorded being raped there. Rebecca listens to the audio of one child rape, and it is horrific, even though she shields us somewhat.

In the end, Rebecca can’t save all of her sisters from the cult. She can’t save her marriage as the strain of repeated trials and diverging worldviews destroys it. But she is able to get justice for Elissa and many other girls harmed by the FLDS cult. And with her story, she shows the way out for many more.

It’s an infuriating, heart-rending book. But it’s also infused with hope. It’s more than worth your time.

Image is the cover of The Witness Wore Red. On top, there is a picture of Rulon Jeffs with many of his wives, all of whom are wearing white. Rebecca's dress has been photoshopped to be red. Below the title is a picture of Rebecca Musser dressed in red and flanked by Texas lawmen, ready to enter the courtroom to testify against Warren Jeffs.

Going Back to Baker

With Seattle continuing to be ridiculously hot, B and I have decided to escape both heat and his brothers, and head up to Mount Baker for a nice overnight trip this Thursday. If you have any special requests for us as far as what you’d like us to check out while we’re there, let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best!

Image shows what looks like a watercolor image of Mount Shuksan.

Mount Shuksan reflected in a lovely tarn on Mount Baker.

Never Mind Fury Road, Go See Spy!

You know how everybody was going on about what a feminist movie Mad Max: Fury Road is? Yeah. I saw it a while back, and it’s pretty good, and it was nice to see the hero get the tar (briefly) beaten out of him by a woman, and the MRA tears were simply delicious. But while it had strong female characters and was a pretty good flick, it wasn’t the feminist movie I was looking for.

Spy is.

ZOMG, you guys, it was delicious. B and I went together today in a bid to escape the heatwave. I thought I’d like it okay, y’know, well enough for a hot summer day. I didn’t expect to love it entirely and wish to stay for the next showing, and want to own it on DVD the instant it comes out. [Read more…]

Another Possible Major Life Change Ahead…

So, I’m thinking of breaking up with B.

He’s a great person, and I know he loves me a lot. He’s even said so. I love him, too. He’s got his quirks and rough edges that sometimes grate, but everyone’s got those. What he’s got that’s the potential deal-breaker, though, is brothers he won’t stand up to. And I’m so done with that.

It’s been festering a long time. Younger Bro hasn’t liked me since I asked him not to tell rape jokes in my presence. He’s convinced himself feminists are some sort of evil man-hating force out to destroy men, and won’t listen when B tries to tell him otherwise. He’s not an MRA yet, and he thinks GamerGate is bullshit, so there’s hope. But bringing him around would take an enormous amount of effort. I’d be willing to try, but… he’s not the only one. [Read more…]

A Rainbow Splosion for This Historic Fourth

I woke up this morning and realized: this is the first 4th of July we’re celebrating wherein same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. I’m usually all, “Yeah, July 4th, meh, bwhatever” because crowds and noise and mindless patriotism aren’t my things, but this time, I’m all, “America, fuck yeah!” I wish it hadn’t taken the Supreme Court to make my country catch up with the other countries that’re happy to let couples marry even if they happen to have matching naughty bits, but I’m just happy we’ve got it. And the religious right tears have been so damn refreshing during this heat wave!

Of course we’ll need a rainbow fireworks display for this particular 4th! [Read more…]

Adorable Pictures of the New Kitty, and a Very Odd Song

People, it’s been A Day. We’re still having record-high heat, which is just spiffy when you’re trying to sort out your boxes and unpack crap in a house with no air conditioning. B’s older brother is driving him up all the walls and across the ceiling. He’s one of those control freaks who wants everyone to arrange their lives to his satisfaction, and doesn’t give a single shit what the people in question actually want or need to do. This means Montana is even more in the cards than before, because B wants to get the hell away from him, and it’s really hard putting the brakes on and advising him to take it a step at a time. Then we visited furniture stores looking for a simple mini chest of drawers, and nearly choked to death on the prices. $550 for a two-drawer chest, people. The cheapest we found was over $130 on clearance. And it’s not like they were made of wood grown in a fairy forest and blessed by unicorns, for fuck’s sake! You can tell how long it’s been since I’ve looked for furniture by my sticker-shock, right?

But it wasn’t all annoying. I spent a pleasant bit of the morning down by the creek with Boo-Boo. It took some effort, but I got some photos of her. She’s so squirmy! She’s constantly moving around, getting your attention, making sure she still has your attention, demanding more attention… but look at how adorable she is! [Read more…]

Moving Day is a Very Dangerous Day

Well, my darlings, we made it.

I won’t say I’m happily ensconced in the new place. I hated leaving my peaceful apartment behind, with the dragonflies in the back yard, and the hummingbirds that would sometimes hover by the porch and demand I put in a feeder. I miss living alone already. And Misha is outraged by the entire notion of another kitty in the house. Just wait til the dog gets home – it’s currently on tour with its owner. It’ll take some adjustment for all of us. [Read more…]

Updates on Moving, Why I’ll Be Scarce for a Bit Longer

Oh, my darlings, this is hard.

I’ve had to sit myself down and have some stern talks about reality lately. Like, the fact we can’t live alone anymore isn’t a personal failure – almost no one in the Seattle area working the kinds of job I worked can afford housing by themselves anymore, hence a huge explosion in the roommate market. Even if I’d stayed with Ye Olde Day Jobe, I’d have had to get a roommie. But it’s hard. I’ve been independent for so long that it feels like major fail to be crawling into a home with other people. [Read more…]