Last fall my friend Allyson wrote to me and told me she was doing something and that I should join up too. I've known Allyson for a dozen years now and she has never recommended anything or anyone that isn't stand-up-and-shout fabulous. So I started participating in an online discussion group following the readings for the Gendering Mormonism class at Claremont College. It consisted of about two dozen women who all did readings and then commented in an email group. The catch was that most everyone knew each other from their graduate student days at Notre Dame. I knew three people.
Then, someone suggested a retreat (which was a reunion for everyone else) and I had to accept the fact that I'm kind of a retreat hussy. I'll go anywhere for any reason, and even with people I don't know. So I chipped in for that too. We stayed here at the Timberlakes, just outside Heber.
These two were the masterminds (can you say mistressminds?): Liz, who organized the group and the cabin, and Melissa, who got all the readings up online and got our food and entertainment squared away.
There was a hot tub. There was not a lot of sleep -- these women are hardcore; also a fair piece younger than I am now.
Kennan was one of the others I'd known before. Here Kennan demonstrates crying on command for her latest job: she's an actress at a communications training center for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors have to tell her bad news and she gets to be devastated umpteen times a day. Or she gets to be the crazy relative whom the doctor has to contain and control. Never a dull moment when Kennan's around!
I had to put in one picture with the bison. The bison really set the mood, I think. Friday night we played a rousing good game of Cards Against Humanity. I should warn that it is an NC-17 game, and we got an edited version. During the day, we took turns interviewing each other for the Claremont Women's Oral History Project. I was a reluctant participant up until about this point (I'm over on the right giving Allyson prompts) when Allyson expressed something that was so brilliant and she said it so gracefully that I thought it needed much wider press. So, I'm on board with that too.
Here is the whole group at the end of the retreat: Nadine, Alyssa, Jillian, Jennie, Hillary, Me, Kennan, Elaina, Allyson, Melissa, Kelli, Melissa, Lindsay, and Liz. They were an incredibly diverse, talented, articulate, warm and drama-free group, even with eight of us sleeping on bunk beds in the same room. I left with plenty of new viewpoints to consider and even new examples to follow in living a faithful LDS life. It was rejuvenating and thought provoking in a way that church just hasn't been for a long, long time. I hope we do it again!