To Egg You On, Through the Political Seasons


DURING SPRING EQUINOX, it is said, an egg standing on end will balance.

During a full moon, it is said, the poets drink from the goddess well, Luna.

During divorce, it is said, separating parties should move away from the shared space. If moving is impossible, the stationary party should, at very least, rearrange the furniture.

During a flash flood, one should avoid even the driest desert washes.

During spring, one should avoid even the driest desert washes.

In her episode “High Wire Egg Dishes,” the Barefoot Contessa reveals the secrets to perfectly hard-boil eggs. “Use extra large eggs in cold water. Bring the water to a boil then turn the heat off immediately. Allow to steep for exactly 15 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool for at least two minutes.”

Sally, my long-time friend and breakfast date, remarks, as she always does, on my hair, “I see you’re still going au naturale?” She approves. I order poached eggs over avocado and tomato on an English muffin, a dish the diner menu calls “Vegetable Benedict,” although I keep thinking, and still think, its actual name is “California Benedict.”

In 2008, more than 800 Utahans gave 2.7 million dollars to support California’s Proposition 8 (22 million dollars from Mormons nationwide). In contrast, a mere 16 Utahans gave $1,264 to the 2012 ballot measures against gay marriage. On March 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a case to overturn Prop. 8. The next day, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a case to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, i.e., Windsor vs. The United States.

My very energetic mother just served us nine pickles. This was the mnemonic device I used in second grade to memorize the planets that were once included in our solar system.

My very energetic mother just served us nine…

My very energetic mother just served us twelve eggs, which we will color for Easter as we do every year, just the two of us. This year, we’re experimenting with natural dyes: turmeric, red cabbage, smoked paprika, blueberries, coffee, chili powder, beets.

She’s also brought Easter gifts, “Dutch iris bulbs, for you and Lisa. They’ll stay dwarf but need full sun.” For our child, a separate bag, inside, markers and a chocolate bunny. “I didn’t go crazy with the candy. I figured Kenzie would get a basket full of sugar.”  “Maybe at her other mom’s,” I say, “but Lisa and I still don’t celebrate Easter.”

My mom opens a can of beets to mix with boiling water and a splash of vinegar. I’ve arranged every coffee mug in the house on the counter to use as egg baths. “Use the black mug for the beets,” I say, “in case they stain.” The black mug bears text in classic script, “I (heart) Beaver” and was purchased for me by Lisa and Kenzie last year at this exact time as the two of them drove south for a spring break mother-daughter biking trip in the desert. Beaver, the small town at the mid-point of I-15 between Salt Lake City and St. George, boasts a single truck-stop which boasts and sells, in great quantities, ephemera sporting the town’s innuendo: I heart Beaver shot-glasses, I heart Beaver T-shirts, I heart Beaver bumper stickers, and of course I heart Beaver coffee mugs.

It remains my intention to speak to my Mormon mother about the SCOTUS hearings during this year’s egg dyeing date. Instead, I start smaller. “We’ve had Kenz an extra day this week, so my house is a little messy.” It is in these types of domestic complaints where we seem to find our only common ground these days. Instead, she begins talking about her preserved tomatoes. I try again. “Oh, I made tofu pasta with spinach and tomatoes for dinner the other night. Kenz ate it because I called it a lasagna bowl.” She begins talking about her meatloaf. I try again. “Don’t you think Lisa’s great-grandmother’s china cabinet looks nice in here? It is a priceless family heirloom.” She asks where the bookshelf went. “It’s gone, Mom, that is what happens when one person moves out and another person moves in. Things become rearranged.” She shrieks in delight, for her egg has turned “ombré.”  “Ombré?” I ask. “You know, two-toned hair wash? It’s so trendy.”

In old detective mysteries the tough and cynical characters are often described as hard-boiled.

At the end of March, while I was glued to television, internet, and Twitter simultaneously listening to, reading about, and tweeting about the court hearings, I received an email from my ex-husband: “Back home from Munich. Stayed at the edge of a forest. Spent one day in the city. University impressed with my research. Expect the most boring piece of mail ever. Once I file the papers, the waiting period begins.” Getting around to getting divorced isn’t something we have put much effort into. Both California and Utah require waiting periods for divorce; California 180 days, Utah a mere 90. It’s been five years since we’ve lived together, but still we opt for Utah. We’ll incubate another 90 days.

Sometimes the ovum divides into two embryos. When you crack an egg with two yolks, it’s said to be lucky.

The precocial killdeer hatches from the egg, dries off, and immediately starts running to find food. As a defense mechanism to protect the wild child, the mother killdeer will feign injury, usually by demonstrating a broken wing, agonizingly dragging it against the sand. As you move to help her or to eat her, depending on your species, her chicks have enough time to run and hide before you notice. Just as you reach for her, she rights her wing and flies off, calling a loud jeer: “kill dee, kill dee.”

A killdeer faking a broken wing. Flickr: Gdahlman

A killdeer faking a broken wing. Flickr: Gdahlman

That morning, during the hullabaloo of our routine, Kenzie gathers her viola, her backpack, her swim fins, and her daily current event. It’s a story about polluted waterways. She’s decided against reporting to her accelerated learning class about Prop. 8 – at ten years old, Lisa and I can see the shadow of “otherness” beginning to descend upon her. As she stands, weighed down by the physical evidence of her precociousness, she remarks about the impending Mother’s Day program at school. She confides that she’s announced to the class, “If anyone needs a mom, I have extras to spare.” We all laugh.

Birds that hatch blind, naked, and helpless are termed “altricial,” which comes from the Greek, “wet nurse.”

Perhaps the most annoying question asked of lesbians with children is, “Which one of you is the mom?”

In light of the political landscape an Ellen Degeneres Internet meme was recycled and recently showed up on my Twitter feed.  Her bit of wisdom: “Asking which person is the ‘man’ in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork.”

Rainbow Babies, an at-home insemination guide for lesbian couples, offers this advice: “If you’re using frozen sperm, thaw it by running it under a stream of hot water for several minutes before insertion.” Also, “Try to have an orgasm. It can’t hurt; it might help.”

When baking, it is always best to use room temperature eggs. The United States is one of the few countries in the world where egg refrigeration is even a household practice. When a chicken lays an egg, it is coated with the “bloom,” a natural, protective layer that keeps out oxygen and bacteria. If left unrefrigerated, one should wash the egg, thereby eliminating the bloom, before cracking.

The best time to attempt insemination is the day before the “LH surge,” the rise of the luteinizing hormone that triggers ovulation. In contrast, spontaneous ovulation is caused by the moon’s energy effect on the ovaries. Spontaneous ovulation is possible, according to some, at the moment when the moon will be at the same lunar distance as it was at the moment of the woman’s birth.

After several hours, it’s time for my mom to take off, but the natural dyes aren’t working as well as we’d hoped. I volunteer to leave the eggs soaking overnight, check back and photograph them for her in the morning. My mother concedes, and as we’re cleaning up, an express envelope arrives in the mail. I’ve officially been served divorce papers. I don’t let my mother see.

My very energetic mother just served…

My veritable ex mate just served untied nuptials – platonic.

The one time my mother and I spoke about my homosexuality and my impending divorce was, as it is for many queer people, hyper-sexualized. “You mean to tell me, you were married to Pete for seven years and….”  “Mom, I deserve to have a satisfying sexual relationship.” She agreed, but here we stand, on the erroneous ground that homosexuality is solely about sex. The former President of the Human Rights Campaign recently tweeted about the “difficult conversations around kitchen tables” which have contributed to the country’s changing attitudes about marriage equality.

My very homophobic mother just served us nomenclature 134340 – (Pluto’s relegated name).

Although Lisa isn’t my first love, or my first girlfriend, or my first live-in partner, nor will she be, with any luck, my first marriage, she is my most authentic love.

During spring, one should avoid even the driest desert washes.

During a flash flood, one should avoid even the driest desert washes.

During divorce, it is said, separating parties should move away from the shared space. If moving is impossible, the stationary party should, at very least, rearrange the furniture.

During a full moon, it is said, the poets drink from the goddess well, Luna.

During Spring Equinox, it is said, an egg standing on end will balance.


Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on DOMA and Proposition 8, the heavy, late summer sun hangs yellow and burning in the Western sky. The last flecks of colored eggshells have disappeared into the compost. In June, the heroic Edie Windsor served as the Grand Marshall of the New York City Pride Parade. Weddings have resumed in California.

According to the State of Utah, my marital status is now “officially divorced.”

Lisa and I were honored with an invitation to ride bicycles alongside Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker in the SLC Pride Parade. Salt Lake City Corporation distributed colored T-shirts to all participants. I wore orange, Lisa, green, Kenzie, red. Although wobbly and unsure of herself on an adult-sized bike, Kenzie rode the entirety of the parade route.

Holly, Lisa and Kenzie prepare to ride in Salt Lake City's Pride Parade

Holly, Lisa and Kenzie prepare to ride in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade

My very conflicted mother showed up just in time to snap a photograph.

Mayor Becker and his longtime partner, Kate Kopischke, have chosen not to marry. Of the five current New York City mayoral candidates, all are married, including Christine Quinn, whose wife, although repordedly shy, has just joined her on the campaign trail.

Three couples have filed federal lawsuits against Utah in an effort to have their marriages recognized. The ACLU has sued Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. A gay couple has sued Kentucky. The wheels of justice, as they say, turn slowly.

Despite being a common bird in Utah during all seasons, this year I haven’t spotted a single killdeer.

Autumn Equinox will soon be upon us, the elections loom, followed by the deep freeze of winter. We continue to live our lives. To act where we can, but mostly we wait – we exist neither alticial nor precocial, neither passive nor idealistic in this divided nation. Decisions, compassion, the planets on the table, continue to hang, in the balance.

About Holly Simonsen

Holly Simonsen lives and works in her native Utah landscape. Primarily, her work explores the relationship between language and ecologically disrupted environments. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her recent work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cutbank, Ecotone, NANO-Fiction, and elsewhere. Her manuscript, S AL T F LA T, was a finalist for the 2012 Yale Younger Poets Prize, among others. She was a recent fellow at the Vermont Studio Center and at the Djerassi Resident Artists’ Program.
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One Response to To Egg You On, Through the Political Seasons

  1. I’ve had this tab open for three weeks – should have read it sooner. I love the mystery of those first lines (repeated near the end); I imagined them as voiceovers accompanying still shots, if that makes sense. Elegant style, positive content, good stuff. Cheers!

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