A Post for Peter

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For me, High School was not this gaseous pit of endless misery. I liked it. By-and-large, I don’t think I would tolerate teaching in a high school if I didn’t appreciate most of my four years of deep teenagerism.

But there was that time. It was the first time that I ever really could ask myself, “Am I depressed? Is this what depression feels like?”

And for no reason at all, Peter Spear was there for me. 

I was a sophomore in the height of my silliness. Peter was a senior, super cool, musical. I can picture the way his fingers pluck mildly, deliberately, smoothly at his upright bass that was taller than me. Even his fingers had soul.

I don’t know what Peter Spear saw in me as a person. I wasn’t funny or clever. I was my worst self.

Peter took me in anyway.

One day, Peter told me he wanted to show me a song. He led me down to his bedroom and I remember feeling instantly nervous. I’d been warned about upperclassmen boys and I’d been warned about their bedrooms. I’d been warned about basements with boys.

But Peter was genuine. He genuinely wanted to play me a song. He popped in a CD, and lit some incense (this is not a euphemism for marijuana), and he laid down on his nasty couch repurposed as a bed that he’d literally found. He wanted to listen to the song all the way through without talking. He called this a “Chill Session.” And for an hour or two every day, we’d go listen to music and obliterate our cares and annihilate our heartbreaks. It was better than yoga. It was better than a lot of things.

We’d spend a lot of time in his basement bedroom with a nasty couch instead of a bed.  This probably would have HORRIFIED my parents if they knew, but nothing happened but healing.

I promise Peter fixed me.

Peter Spear was the only person in the world who had shorter fingernails than me. I keep thinking about them.

I don’t know how else to process what happened to Peter Spear. But I like to think that he’s still here, still the same boy, helping everyone else with their sad feelings.

And then he doesn’t really feel so gone.


Peter played my big brother, George Gibbs, in Our Town. Here we are, looking at the moon.


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.

You Try Being A Fifth Grade Girl

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Every teacher has a Noah Osborne: You know, one of those kids that, as a teacher, you’re supposed to discipline. But Noah Osbornes make you laugh so hard that you can’t even inhale enough air to support your laughter, let alone breathe out the word “Stop,” with any sort of conviction that that is what you would like them to do. Basically what I mean is that Noah Osborne was a class clown. 
And he was good at it.
  To paint a picture of Noah Osborne for you, I turn back to fifth grade. The Growing and Changing unit: The unit pre-adolescent girls dread with their whole hearts and souls, and the only science unit wherein pre-adolescent boys give their rapt attention. To this day, I’m not quite sure fifth grade boys, or even girls for that matter, can handle words like “ovulation.” Perhaps this story will illustrate my point.
I remember one particularly alarming video that was supposed to assuage the girls’ fears about their changing bodies. For some reason, they allowed the boys to watch it too. I still remember this unnerving narration (complete with ANIMATED VISUAL, to make everything worse):  “Therefore, girls, do not fear. It is perfectly normal for one breast to grow larger than the other.” I remember as a collective female, the girls hung their heads in shame. It’s not like we had them anyway, but now we had to worry about size differentiation in addition to ovulation. The Growing and Changing unit was shockingly unfair.
  Noah had been one such young male who had given this video rapt attention (and if he feels like I’m singling him out just now, I assure you, he was not the only one). That day, during recess, he decided to put his newfound knowledge into practice. Claiming, what I can only guess, that he had the bloody nose from hell, Noah pilfered an entire box of tissues. He stuffed one side of his generic boy t-shirt full to bursting with Kleenex. I can imagine that this involved a sculpting process.
The other side of his shirt, he left completely empty.
Then Noah pranced into the classroom after recess, right in front of Mrs. Covert, chest proudly jutting out and announced.
“Look! I’m a girl!”
It allayed our fears better than any dang video, that’s for sure.  At least we would never look like that. We hoped.
Wanna hear the second Noah Osborne installment? Vote funny enough times and I will enlighten you with that one too.