Kangaroo Testicles

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“Good luck, sweetie,” my mom told me, “I’ll rub my kangaroo testicles for you.”

She said it so off-hand, as though this were a perfectly normal thing to do for your daughter.

Of course I spluttered back, which I am sure was gratifying for her. Apparently my mom’s friends from Australia sent her a pair of Kangaroo Testicles, the Australian equivalent of a rabbit foot?

“I love them,” she admitted. “Sometimes I hang them from my chandelier to see if the ladies during my book club notice. Here, I’ll send you a picture.”

She forgot for a few hours but then finally did send me the photo of her good luck charm. I felt strangely–so strangely–comforted. Maybe Kangaroo Testicles would do just the trick.

I’ve never been one to believe in luck, to be honest. I believed in hard work, and grit, and sure things. That’s part of the reason why I went into teaching. Teaching was a defined path with a clear outcome–one that could be obtained by hard work and grit. And I think, save for a few tired weeks, I was mostly a good teacher.

I’ve dreamed up blog posts where I offer up an explanation the hiatus I’m taking from teaching, but I’ve agonized about how to write them. Ultimately I realized that I don’t really owe anyone an explanation, and what’s more, I couldn’t give you a great one except that taking a break felt like the right thing to do. And Un/Fortunately, taking this break has forced me to take a little step onto an unknown ledge. A ledge that I’ve always steered far away from.

I’m learning what it’s like to sit in uncertainty, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t deeply uncomfortable. What I will say for myself is that I’ve gotten much closer to a part of myself that I’ve always liked maybe even more than my teacher self-my writer self.

I’ve done some great freelancing in the past, but I’m hoping to break into more professional writer circles, so I’m looking to pick up a few more freelance gigs. I’m looking for leads. I’m going to (gulp) network. Here I am, on the edge of discomfort, asking any of you for leads.

I think I am going to need my own pair of Kangaroo Testicles.

What I am Learning about How to Be A White Ally

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This will come as a surprise to no one: I am white. Though that’s never been a surprise to me, I have never been so aware of my whiteness as I am while living on the outskirts of Harlem. I confront my whiteness every day.

I try to be conscientious and introspective about my identity. I want to acknowledge my whiteness, and in so doing, I must acknowledge my privilege. I do not feel defensive about my privilege. Acknowledging my privilege doesn’t mean that I was lazy, and it doesn’t mean that I didn’t work hard, and it doesn’t mean that I haven’t earned my spot at Columbia. It simply means that I was in a system that was engineered for people like me to thrive. Perhaps most importantly right now, it means that I can walk basically anywhere in the United States and not fear that I will be accused of a crime. It’s ok to acknowledge those things. It doesn’t hurt me to acknowledge that these privileges exist.

What hurts is that these privileges don’t exist for everyone.

Dusting Off the Typewriter

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Someone recently said to me, “Sierra, do you still blog? I miss your words.” And it took me a minute to respond, because if my answer was truthful, my answer was no, I don’t still blog. Something happened to my blog psyche this year.
My words, well, they’ve been here all along, but they just got stuck somewhere in transit. I’m not sure if the words were busy or just intimidated, maybe a little of both, but they’re back now. I missed my words too, or at least, I missed the saying of them.

An Insight into Anxiety

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I wouldn’t ordinarily blog about this so candidly, except that I love the candid and real people out there. I love the people that share without asking for pity. I love the people that post pictures of their perfect little cupcakes one week, and then their disaster of a house the week after that. So in an effort to be relatable and, frankly, for a little catharsis, I give you….

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

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Ordinarily, this post might include a shame-faced apology for not blogging in so long. But there has been nothing ordinary about this past year, so the usual excuses of laziness or busyness just don’t apply. For once in my life, the most cathartic thing in my life has been–not writing–but in fact, teaching. So I can’t apologize for throwing all my efforts into that, and becoming the somewhat invisible thing that this blog is trying to catch. 


Reality Check

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I’m in my Princess Room. In Colorado. This room has gold walls and a luxurious purple bed spread, and just to make it more princessy, I used to have a plum beaded canopy with ornate beading and embroidery. My style has changed drastically since this room was mine, but it still makes me upset if I come home and find a poster missing or my closet re-prioritized. Home doesn’t feel the same without my mismatched posters.

But I’m at my childhood home now, which is where I was before our grand Chicago adventures. It  already feels like I woke up from a long dream rather, like I’ve just spent a pleasant weekend in Colorado and Chicago never happened. Lucky my blog negates that thoroughly.

Things are about to get crazy, and the world might start spinning off its axis. I head to Provo as soon as I pick myself up out of bed. I start decorating my classroom, I start moving back into our old and beloved apartment. I start attending meetings (and a wedding) and hopefully reconnecting with old friends. And then I start my big girl job… I’ve had a low-level stomach ache for the past three days and I think that it’s a manifestation of my anxiety. This is about to get real.

So I’m blogging in defiance.

The Renaissance Women and The Impossible Expectation.

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Hey, you. Your cupcakes are stressing me out. Your domestic achievement stands before me like an obtainable beacon of perfection. Your cupcake says to me:
“Hey! Look! I’m a Mormon domestic and I make beautiful things on the first try. Every cupcake I make is better than any cupcake you could make, because I used tweezers to individually place each sprinkle. And don’t worry, it’s a gluten-free cupcake, but I still managed to make it taste amazing. Come! Come one, Come all! And realize that when you partake of this particular batch of joy, you are also imbibing an extra dose of self-consciousness, because deep-down, you know that you’ll never create something so singularly perfect as this.”
Probably, in all honesty, what your cupcake meant to say was:
 “Oh my gosh, I made a pretty thing for once in my life, or I happened to have exactly four pretty cupcakes in a batch of twenty, and so I am going to prove to the world that I have somewhat awesome potential by editing this photo and posting it on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterst so that hopefully someone will stroke my self-confidence—because, well, to be perfectly honest, this is an area of my life where I am not used to accomplishing much.”
Friends, I would know. Because I am guilty of posting the following picture on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterest:

I spent several minutes assembling this adorable box you see, and then selecting which were my best cupcakes to publicize. I’m part of the phenomenon—I AM THIS PHENOMENON—the phenomenon that only celebrates my successes publicly, keeping (or attempting to keep) my failures a private secret. Why am I so keen to put my best face forward online all the time? 

Because everyone else is doing it. And it’s stressing us all out.
Men: You might actually be exempt from this particular societal observation. Hence, this blog is not catered to you. But ladies, I’m not just talking about cupcakes here. Cupcakes are a metaphor for (insert whatever you feel self-conscious about here).
For me, I didn’t reallyfeel the sting of inadequacy until I got married—and not because Jeremy made me feel this way. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but whenever I overcooked the eggs or pulled the laundry out of the machine too late, I’d feel a tremendous amount of pressure. Whenever I came home and the hallway smelled good because my neighbors had cooked something awesome, I allowed that to be something awesome that I had not done. Husband and I call it “Wifeyness,” this pressure that I put on myself to be The Perfect Homemaker. The pictures on facebook of other’s successes started to infect me…. I felt inadequate, so I posted a couple of pictures of my own cupcakes. Let someone else feel inadequate for the evening, I think I thought subconsciously.
The fickle thing about indulging in self-consciousness is that it bleeds into areas where you previously felt confident. As women, I really do believe that we are asked to “Do It All” these days. The demands on the modern LDS women are intense:
  • ·      Our religion asks us to be a nurturer. There are a ton of sub-responsibilities in this category.
  • ·      Our religion’s culture asks us to be a homemaker, and I suggest that you that there is a difference between nurturer and homemaker.
  • ·      Society says we need to be working women, severe, pencil-skirt wearing, ambitious feminists.
  • ·      Society suggests that we need to be friendly, affable, social party-goers, because there is something wrong with introverted women that prefer good books to good booze.
  • ·      We are made fun of by men for being “overly-emotional,” and Heaven forbid, we have tempers.
  • ·      The University asks us to be high-achieving, good-grade obtainers.
  • ·      The Media suggests we need to be sexy, yet also guarders of virtue.
  • ·      The world makes us feel like we should be skinny at all times, in all places, in all bikinis. 

What a silly expectation. WHAT SILLY EXPECTATIONS.
And we are expected to do this in heels, yet. No wonder the “Claire” from Modern Family, and “Debra” from Everybody Loves Raymond stereotypes exist. A tremendous amount of pressure is placed on women these days. And so once we internalize these things, if we are not one, or two, or all of these things, we are bad at being a woman, or a bad woman. Too often we confuse this: In the woman’s mind, Bad (Homemaker, Feminist, Skinny Person, Super Model, Etc) = Bad Person.
I need you to understand something: I desperately want to be a pencil-skirt wearing domestic, a hard-hitting career woman by day, mommy-dearest (not the crazy type) by night. I want to be a sexy protector of virtue that is a writer, seamstress, photo-shopping professional mother. I want to be a healthy eating, fitness guru who can actually keep my house clean! 

But here’s the important part: Even without the tug-of-war of influences, I think I would want to do this just for me. These influences, when I allow them to, just help to give me a complex about it—because I am not there yet. And neither are you. And that’s ok.
These are not “new” ideas. As women, we “know” in our heads that we are doing this to ourselves, that we are allowing our understanding of our personal divine natures to be corrupted by the published accomplishments of others. I suppose the difference here is that this blog seeks to publish it all:The epic achievements as well as the epic failures. Because life is a process, and the process deserves to be celebrated just as much as the mastery. Successes and Failures, it’s all part of being a woman. In fact, a healthy combination of the two probably makes us really fantastic women.

So, You! You out there, the amorphous, talented, beautiful, smart, hard-working, domestic-goddess in development, this blog is for you. Because, you, like us, like everyone else, aren’t “there yet,” wherever “there” is for you. If you’re not there yet, that is ok.  We aren’t there yet either.  

*This blog post is the premise to an upcoming blog I hope to co-author soon. Stay tuned.