Every day at 5:30
I turn on the television
and watch the evening news.
I am a glutton for punishment,
as I rub my eyes and mumble,
“What now?”

Will today be
a new tax policy
that will help “everyone”
(i.e. those making more than $1 mil. per year)?
Or perhaps I will see 18-month-old
babies being torn from their mothers
in attempts to escape gang violence and
be welcomed in “the land of the free”?
Or will today be another black teenager
shot dead in his own yard because he was
holding a cell phone in a threatening manner?
Surely I will see his royal highness
showing off an executive order,
freshly signed with a fat Sharpie marker,
and looking like the daily specials
at a restaurant, as he holds it up, proudly.

Some days,
it is all of these things.
Some days,
I realize how weary I am
of all the hashtags,
and I am not even on social media anymore.
But I have to stay aware and ready.
I must be resilient and angry.
There are more fights to be fought.
More bubbles to break.
What world will my daughter and her generation inherit,
if I give up now?


Red is motivated. Red is proactive. Red is power. Red is a nasty argument that you want to win. Red can’t hide its crimson. Blue is perfectionism. Blue is thoughtful. Blue cries during commercials and movies. Blue is all the emotions.

I’ve always had a somewhat split personality. I frequently veer between type-A and “I don’t give a shit”. Many years ago, my therapist suggested a book called “The Color Code”. The book contains various quizzes, drawn up on a points system, to determine what color represents you. Each of the four colors: red, white, yellow, and blue correspond with various emotions and personality traits. Upon taking the quizzes, it determined I was equal parts red and blue. Those two colors are so different from one another in the code that I thought, “That can’t be correct.” I took the various quizzes again and received the same results. While this book helped me make more sense of myself, being “purple” is still sometimes a terribly confusing experience. I’ve often described myself as being equally obsessive about things I love (blue) and things I hate (red). If I like you, I love you and would do virtually anything for you. If you cross me, I am unlikely to give you a second chance and will probably loathe you with every fiber of my being into the eternities.

I have this war inside my heart and head; and it’s deeply ingrained. When I look at my dad, I see all that is inherently red and all that is inherently blue. I know he gave these colors to me. This purple rose that is such a deep hue, it’s nearly black.

I’m trying to overcome the parts of each color that have weighed me down: The impatience, the annoyance, the unforgiving nature, the salty sting that creeps into the corners of my eyes when I am frustrated. But sometimes, the hardest thing to do is deny your genetics. Deny what is your material. Regardless, I have been trying more vigilantly the last few years to find an in-between. The attempt has, at times, been futile and I have had to start over more than once. My husband is the picture of calm and collected, even in high-pressure, stressful situations. He also has unparalleled levels of patience, even in the most frustrating scenarios. I am trying to emulate him in these regards, because those are character traits I admire greatly (white) and areas in which I have been lacking.

I don’t think I am as deeply red or blue as I used to be — but the changes have continually required me to re-think, re-draw, re-write. It’s been draft, after draft, after draft. But that’s the way it is when you are creating a thick biographical book, a masterpiece painting, or an album that is destined to be a classic. Toil, sweat, dark places, light places, and everything in between.

On my best days though, the scale finds a balance and I realize that purple, especially the deepest shade, is the most stunning color in the spectrum.


Did I lock the deadbolt? What’s my favorite kind of cheese? Whatever happened to that cast member from “The Real World Hawaii”? How many books have I read this year? That moonrise in Alaska was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. What does it take to become a Canadian citizen? Small talk has completely died now that everyone has smartphones. I hope my daughter gets financial aid, a couple scholarships, and doesn’t let losers take advantage of her once she’s in college. My nephew is the most adorable toddler on the planet. Mmmmm…a bagel with cream cheese sounds delicious right now. No wait! A chocolate Croissant from Starbucks. Why is anyone thinking we can live on Mars? That’s the dumbest idea ever. Scott Pruitt pisses me off. Betsy DeVos too. I need to make a donation to The Committee to Protect Journalists. How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Should I get up and shower now? What book do I want to read next? Why do so many artists and actors OD or commit suicide? The next time I organize the closet, I have to get rid of that quilt. It’s bulky and takes up tons of space. “Garden State” is still one of my favorite movies. It would be amazing to hang out with Mike D and Ad-Rock. Does David Sedaris have a reading coming up soon? I am stoked for the Kings of Leon concert. Why is summertime such a waste land for TV viewing? How old would John Lennon be if he were still alive? I wonder if he would have reunited with Paul McCartney to sing duets. What’s on my to-do list for today? I am going to need a nap. Can’t sleep. Clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep.  Clowns will eat me. Mmmmm…donuts.


The summer after we moved into the red house on Polk Avenue with the weepingest weeping willow tree, I took over lawn mowing duties from my father. Being the eldest, I slipped right in to the feeling that yard work should somehow be my responsibility. I’ve always had a fear of anything with a whirring blade (table saw, garbage disposal, lawn mower). I knew a kid once who accidentally lost two of his toes, but isn’t that what one deserves for mowing the lawn while barefoot? Despite that underlying, nagging fear; I felt a sense of calm in making perfect paths of clipped grass. If my father was upset that I mangled two sprinkler heads during that time period, he never mentioned it directly to me, but likely muttered heavily about it under his breath.

We had an above-ground pool in the backyard at the house with maroon siding. Our excitement was palpable at the time, though I’m certain now my sister would call this type of backyard adornment “white trash”. Anytime the water temperature was above 68 degrees, which was indicative by a tiny thermometer, my sisters and I warranted it worthy of a swim. I would skim off the water skeeters and the leaves fallen from the nearby tree and once we were in suits and had our fluffy towels, we played games and did somersaults into the shallow depth. We swam almost daily during the summer of 1992.

I sometimes secretly (or not so secretly) miss the days when my friends and I would go to the video rental store and browse the shelves. We would wander the aisles looking at new releases and cult classics. It often took hours to find a movie that wasn’t “all rented out” AND all of us wanted to watch. My friends had certain fall-back movies they always deemed worthy of renting; one of those titles was “Groundhog Day”. I love Bill Murray, but never cared for Andie McDowell. Something about her acting struck me as disingenuous. I can’t imagine waking up to the same day every day. That movie still gives me anxiety.

My freshman year coincided with a centennial celebration for the high school. While the castle-like, art-deco building had only been around for fifty years, the high school itself had existed for ten decades. The innocence of that year — of painting the football field for homecoming, of having a street named after the school, of spending late nights watching “Saturday Night Live”, of having a new crush almost every month — produces in me a sense of happiness and longing for the days of yesteryear.


Recalling the person I was
all those lifetimes ago,
holding the red Solo cup
surely sloshing a sweet liquor
I would regret consuming
the next morning.

You chased me.
I allowed the pursuit,
confused in my teenage brain
about where I belonged among
the Mormon-pioneer-ancestor

At the behest of my parents,
we married (living in sin is a sin).
They paid for the Vegas wedding,
but did not attend.
Probably best that way.
We wore vampire fangs,
because it was Halloween.
My dress was a paisley-print velvet material
and my feet blistered
from wearing dull-but-new Mary Jane shoes.

It feels like yesterday and 20 years ago
and all those lifetimes ago.
You didn’t have a lot to offer.
Your mom never read to you when you were little.
You’d done drugs and dealt drugs
and drank and drank and drank.
We lived in an 8×8 foot room,
mis-matched dressers stacked on top of each other.
Mis-matched desires trying to stoke the same fire.

All those lifetimes ago,
you told me you wouldn’t be able to get anyone pregnant.
Said you’d taken a steel-toed boot to the groin.
Within two weeks of casting aside my prescription,
I was growing a life.
The only productive, worthwhile thing that resulted
from our broken-down, wrecked-18-wheeler of a marriage.

It always felt like full-speed ahead,
because we will die someday?
If we don’t drink this case of beer now, who will?
It was a hostage situation —
me being held by the Insane Clown Posse and their juggalos.
You were never home,
and when you were, you weren’t present.
I missed my Granny’s 85-birthday party,
because you didn’t want to make the 70-minute drive.

Time slowed when you left.
I was glad to grab every inch of the sanity,
and give myself a few miles of this final lifetime.


I should have known long ago that social media wasn’t going to work for me. I should have known that being part of so many fake lives, conservative spewers, and uppity trolls wasn’t going to add positivity to the construct of my everyday life, and would only serve to make me bitter and depressed.

I would say the signs that social media probably wasn’t going to be my thing started more than a decade ago. My sisters had both moved away from home and started blogs so we could keep up with their lives. I read their blogs occasionally and sometimes left comments. At one point, my sister posted about how much she disliked hearing about “Twilight” and could people please stop talking about “Twilight”. I was also extremely over hearing about it, and this was before the movies had even been made. I left a comment akin to, “The only people I know who have read ‘Twilight’ and think it’s the greatest book ever written have pretty much never read any other books in their entire lives.” My comment wasn’t long. It wasn’t slanderous against one particular person. It was just an observation I had made, because a couple of the people I knew who were practically illiterate felt the need to tell me what an amazing book “Twilight” was. My sister told me shortly thereafter that her mother-in-law had been offended by my comment, because she and her daughters all liked “Twilight”, so my sister had deleted my comment. I was honestly quite perplexed. In sharing what I viewed as a pretty mild and not-that-big-of-a-deal opinion, I had been censored. It was not long after that when a friend of mine mentioned to me that another friend of ours was “upset” because I didn’t read or comment on her blog. 1. Why did she even notice? 2. Why did she care? I decided from then on that I wouldn’t leave comments on anyone’s blogs. I was done. Within the next several months, I pretty much never read blogs anymore.

It was around this time that I joined MySpace. What a weird community. I don’t even know if it could be called a community. I didn’t personally know many people who were actually using it, but several of the bands and musicians I liked were on the platform, so I followed them and even corresponded with a couple. It lost its luster rather quickly for me though. It didn’t seem like a sustainable platform. Shortly thereafter, in early 2009, I created a Facebook account. I had said to many, many people that I would never join Facebook. I weighed the pros and cons for months. I’ve never been one to give into peer pressure. In fact, I’m more likely to not do something everyone else is doing. Pros: I would be able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I would be able to share random thoughts I had during the day. (Many of my thoughts are pretty amusing.) I could better organize an upcoming class reunion. I could see pictures of my friends’ babies and my nieces. After a while, the pros seemed to outweigh the cons. I look back now at how fun it was when I first joined. Back in those days, people weren’t posting links to news stories. Fake news was many years from coming into existence. I don’t even remember seeing many politically charged comments. Re-posts and memes weren’t in heavy rotation yet. It seemed like most people still had original thoughts. Eventually, both of my best friends joined as well. Since they both live out of state, this made me extremely happy. I ended up reconnecting with a handful of people I hadn’t seen or talked to in ages. I was working from home at the time, so it helped me actually feel social. There was probably a juncture, which I’m embarrassed to admit, when I would spend hours a day on Facebook. I would log in at night and hope some of my friends from San Francisco would be online so we could chat. I would post random comments or thoughts on friends’ walls. I had a good time in the medium. I didn’t have a smartphone yet, so the only time I was on Facebook was when I was on a computer. It wasn’t always with me. It wasn’t sending me a continuous stream of notifications. Not everyone I knew was even using it.

I eventually joined Instagram. I was a fairly early adopter of the tool and created an account about a year after it came into being. I liked the cleanliness of the Instagram format. Facebook had started to lose its appeal, because of the changes they had made to their algorithms. I don’t want to see what my friends were liking or what comments they were making on a public link. I found that I was hiding more and more posts and people. I also had some Facebook battles with former high school classmates about what myself and a couple other individuals had planned for our 20-year reunion. The nonsense of it all was quite miserable. Once the reunion was over, I removed myself from our reunion group. Before that, I had taken extended breaks from Facebook, a couple which occurred in conjunction with squabbles with my brother-in-law over religious matters. I won’t go into details regarding this, because it could be a post unto itself. I eventually ended up unfriending him, which he didn’t figure out for about six months. But once he noticed, feelings were hurt and my sister said it was awkward. (I didn’t think it was at all.) There are just some people who can’t retain a sense of decorum in online forums. I was also upset because given the context of why I unfriended him, I felt like my sister should be on my side, but she clearly wasn’t. I felt like myself and my friends who felt the way I did and voiced opinions about particular subjects were being trolled. This past September, I started one of my extended hiatuses from Facebook. I didn’t do it thinking “this is election season”, the fact that it was just constituted as a bonus. After the election, my sister left a comment about the election results on one of my Instagram posts. We had a major difference of opinion. I had a lot to say to her, but it wouldn’t have ended well. I knew that eventually, I wouldn’t be able to keep silent. I would bottle my annoyances, and end up exploding at one or more people, potentially damaging relationships. I am a passionate person and rarely ride the gray line in any regard. If I believe something, I believe it with all of my heart, so it’s a wonder that I lasted as long as I did without getting into serious altercations with certain individuals who were spouting racist or sexist ideas or propagating fake news or extreme alt-right views. I couldn’t sleep on election night. Once again, I weighed the pros and cons of social media, and this time, the cons far outweighed the pros. I knew I was done with it all. At 1am on November 9, 2016; I deactivated my social media accounts.

People keep asking me if I miss it. I miss a couple aspects of it, like seeing pictures of my nieces and nephews, but I make a more concerted effort to send them snail mail or talk to them on the phone. I also created folders in my cloud so that I can see pictures of them whenever I want. For me, the benefit of expunging social media has led me to a sense of peace and calm I had forgotten was possible. It’s made life slow down and not feel so crazed. It’s created a greater sense of patience for me. I spend more time reading and thinking. After the election, I felt such deflation and sadness that it was hard for me to sit at the keyboard without crying, but I am now feeling compelled to get back into writing as well. One of my biggest accomplishments since exiting social media is that I have lost 20 pounds. Instead of lounging around checking my accounts, I’m up and moving and logging my steps, water, and calorie intakes.

Mark Zuckerberg thinks the world cannot survive with Facebook. I read an article in a magazine not long ago which stated that he thinks everyone on this planet should have access to a computer so they can be on Facebook. I am living proof that not only is survival possible, but living life to the fullest is more possible when one casts off the tether of social media. I have been making a concerted effort to get together in person with friends. To hold social gatherings — something that’s difficult for me given my proclivity for wanting alone time. To write letters, cards, or send packages. To call or text someone directly when I am thinking about them. All these things seem more personal to me than social media ever did. Some of these things seem like lost arts with all that social media has lead us to believe is “normal”. I have also found more time to devote to causes which matter to me. If you don’t think you want to delete or deactivate your social media accounts, I recommend taking a break from them to reconnect with yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you find and suddenly remember a simpler time that you didn’t realize still existed.


It’s been nearly two years since I left Mormonism behind. In some ways, two years seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not. In the Mormon perspective of “eternities” it is but a blip. I’ve wanted to write about my departure experience and share some thoughts for at least 12 months, but I have avoided it. Thinking about it now, all the energy I wasted “enduring”, is a pretty big downer for me, so that’s the main reason I haven’t revisited it. I’ve felt much lighter, happier, and unburdened these past couple of years. Writing about it takes me back to the internal struggle and the disappointment my family and some friends felt about my decision.

I have discovered several things over the last two years. When you leave a religion that is tightly knit and all-encompassing, like the L.D.S. church, the church people do not know how to react. The most common phrase said to me when I see church people now is, “We miss you.” To that, I would like to respond, “You still have my phone number. You still know where I live. If you miss me, perhaps you could reach out and we could go to lunch (a movie, an art exhibit, etc.).” If you sincerely felt like my friend at church, then why is that the only capacity in which we can be friends? This only-friends-if-you-are-exactly-like-me-and-go-to-my-church scenario baffles me. When I miss someone, I reach out often and stay in touch with them regardless of their religious affiliation. That seems like a pretty logical thing. I think what is meant by, “We miss you” in my scenarios is actually, “I don’t know what to say to you, so I’m going to say something that seems genuine (‘miss you’); but is really going to come off as the exact opposite.” In the Mormon church, the women’s organization is called Relief Society. The church is organized into geographical regions called wards. Each ward has a Relief Society President. When I made my departure, the president of my ward’s Relief Society was someone I had known well for more than a decade. I sent her a letter to let her know that I wouldn’t be attending church any longer. The reason I sent a letter was two-fold: 1. As a courtesy to several involved parties so that the information would be received at around the same time. 2. To explain things as succinctly as possible without any confrontation. This R.S. President texted me to let me know she had received the letter and asked if we could still be friends. I was completely bemused and it led me to question, “Hadn’t we been friends all along? Why would my decision to no longer attend church makes us not friends now?” My response was, “Of course we can still be friends. Heathens need friends too.” In that story, you find the name of my blog — the generation of which I promised to tell at some point. (*Consider that promise kept.)

Rumor has it that many church members think people who exit the religion do so because they have been offended by something another member said. These “offenders” are giving themselves way too much credit. Do church members truly think there is an offense so horrible and belittling and awful that the offended, on a whim, has turned their back on the religion they grew up with, the heritage they were taught, the day-to-day practices they’ve established? In some ways, it seems that the church people use others potentially “being offended” as a way to soothe their own minds. They don’t want to believe that the religion or the history of it could be flawed in any way. They would prefer to think that someone who has gone apostate was “easily offended.” I’ve talked to countless people who have left the L.D.S. church and not one of them has left as a result of something as simple as “being offended.” Are we not all offended at some point in time? I had people say things to me or my daughter that I did not like, but those occurrences have nothing to do with why I left the church.

I know why many Mormons I thought were friends have not asked to hear my story. They are warned against fraternizing with anything that isn’t praiseworthy towards their religion. It will always strike me as bizarre that people can throw me lines like, “I hope you’re happier now” and “please don’t spew vitriol about Mormons all over the Internet” (which I have not done) and “just move on”; but they don’t want to know how my painstaking decision was reached and many surely don’t want to see that I am much happier now. The L.D.S. church sends missionaries all over the world to preach what is their truth, but they don’t want to hear about what someone else perceives as truth, for fear it may shake their own faith in some way. They haven’t asked WHY I left the church or what led to my decision to withdraw; which was well thought out and sweated over for more than a decade. I did a tremendous amount of studying — I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 hours worth. I read church sanctioned scriptures, books that were published by church members, historians, and non-church members. I joined online communities for those with questions. I read blogs. I prayed. I pondered. I thought deeply. I considered. I cried. And then ultimately, when I couldn’t accept living what I felt was a double-standard any longer, I left. It was not easy. That is the other misnomer Mormons may have about those who leave. They think people just wake up one day and decide not to attend church anymore because they’d prefer to have Sunday fun-day or because they want to drink coffee guilt-free or because they don’t want to pay 10% of their income in tithing any longer. While all those things have been bonuses to my leaving, those are not the main reasons I stopped attending. Not. Even. Close. I would like to receive credit where credit is due. My decision was not made lightly. The Mormon religion teaches that there is a place for everyone in its religion and that it is the ONLY religion which will bring you true happiness. I must say, I never felt at home or truly happy within the church construct. Did I have pleasant experiences there? A handful of times. But I didn’t find it more spiritually uplifting than attending a great concert by a band I love or watching a movie I adore.

I’m grateful I had experiences socializing with non-Mormons in my day-to-day life for many, many years before making my departure (and I also have a supportive non-Mormon husband). That may sound strange to an outsider of the church. “Why wouldn’t she be socializing with a variety of people and have friends of all different kinds?” Mormons are taught that they are peculiar and that they need to stick together. Unless they are forced to deal with non-Mormons through sports teams, work scenarios, or school classrooms; they don’t. Most of the Mormons I know have social circles which are 98% Mormon. I cannot imagine how crippling it would have been for me had that been my case. Exiting would have taken much more strength and courage without a support system outside of church members. Beyond my studying and sincere praying, much of my leaving had to do with the huge place I have in my heart for my gay friends, my trans friends, my feminist friends, and my friends who are agnostic/humanists. I always felt those individuals were belittled, demeaned, vilified, second-classed and treated unfairly by the church in which I was raised. Being raised in the Mormon church caused a lot of internal confusion for me. I wanted to be Christ-like, in that Christ is kind and compassionate; but even more than that, I wanted to be the rebel Christ, which I feel is the Jesus they don’t touch on enough in Sunday School. I wanted to be like the Christ who overthrows money-changers’ tables in the temple and walks on the fringes of society with those who are less popular. That was the Christ I understood best, the one with whom I shared the most similarities.

Not being part of the church body any longer has led me closer to who I truly am spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I don’t waste my time seeking the approval of church people. Many of which I found to be more nice (sometimes fake), than kind. It’s the first time in my adult life that I have truly felt like an adult who is making my own decisions. I don’t do things now with the thought of an impending eternal reward or the thought of NOT receiving blessings if I don’t do something that was prescribed. I’m living how I’m living, because I know it’s right for me. My perspective of being Christ-like has changed to trying so much harder to walk in the shoes of another, to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and dignity regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual preference. (It’s not always easy, and I still slip; but then I remind myself that it’s alright. No one is perfect.) I also think any loving God would want me to be happy and to feel like I have a place in this world. He would want me to be comfortable in my skin and with my thoughts and the life I’m living. Over the last two years, I have learned a lot. One of the main things being that I am who I have always been, but I’ve become an even better version of my self. I am thankful for those who have supported me and have continued to be happy for me. Those who have not just said they miss me, but have shown they do by reaching out, appreciating my journey, and caring about me and my story. On to the next chapter.


I was born the year after America’s bicentennial celebration. I grew up in the 1980s, but came of age in the 1990s. I recall watching “Remote Control” on MTV and also the first time I ever saw Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. I distinctly remember the first tape I ever received as a gift (R.E.M.’s “Green”) and the first CD my Dad gave me (Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark“).

In 7th grade, my parents gifted me a small boombox for Christmas. I’m sure they had to sacrifice to buy it. They didn’t even have one in their own bedroom. With it, I got Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” on cassette. I frequently took the boombox into the bathroom so I could look in the mirror and attempt to mimic the choreography Janet did in the “Miss You Much” video. On the weekends, I would listen intently to Casey Kasem announce the Top 40, “Next on the countdown, up two spots this week….” with my finger over the record button so I could attempt to capture a song I had been wanting to listen to over and over again. If I was lucky, the DJ wouldn’t talk over the beginning or ending of the song, and the recording would be clean.

Once we were in high school, my friends and I would hop in Nancy’s Chevette (not to be confused with a Corvette) and insert Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album into the cassette deck. We would sing at full volume as we drove the back roads of Ogden. We didn’t usually have a particular destination. Driving and listening to music was the objective.

In my early college days, I toted my CaseLogic cassette organizer to my car each morning and selected something that would sustain me on my drive to the university. If I didn’t like a particular song, it wasn’t easy to skip over it. I would have to fast forward, and it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. I learned to appreciate entire albums, because the alternative was to rewind or fast forward, and trying to stop in the exact spot where the next song began or ended was virtually impossible. My tape deck had a removable face so that no one would steal my car stereo. I remember thinking how futuristic and expensive it was. One of the first CD players I ever owned was a Sony Discman. It made trekking through the campus on the snowy, windy days of winter much more bearable. I would hike daily from the humanities building to the science building or the library, fueled by Radiohead or Beastie Boys. I always double checked that the “stop skip” functionality was set so that I wouldn’t scratch the CD if it jostled around too much in my backpack.

Shortly after I moved to Nevada at the age of 22, Napster came into being. My teenage sister sat at the computer for hours downloading songs. I couldn’t comprehend it. “This is all free?” I remember asking. “Yah! Isn’t it cool?” was her reply. It wasn’t too long before Metallica ruined her ability to download a lot of “free” music.

In 2004, I had a friend who lived in Dallas. We worked together and he was based at our company’s headquarters. We always discussed music. We liked the same bands. We often made playlists for each other. We could discuss albums and concerts for hours. “Have you heard of an iPod?” he asked during one of my visits. “No. What is that?” From his pocket, he procured a device the thickness of a notepad and the size of light switch. “Take a look,” he said as he handed it to me. I didn’t even know what to do with it. On the sleek surface, there were just a few buttons. It was the simplest thing I had ever seen. He turned it on and showed me how to scroll through his albums and artists. I’m certain my jaw hit the floor. It was by far the most awesome thing I had ever seen. I saved up to buy one, purchased an external hard drive to store all the music, and spent hours loading my CDs to iTunes so I could sync it with my iPod. Around the same time, I discovered how easy it was to purchase and download songs from iTunes. I bought a transmitter that attached to the top of my iPod and it would (sometimes) let me play music in the car if I could find a frequency. My entire music library in my car! Before long, I had the next generation of the iPod, and then an iPhone, and then Bluetooth capabilities. Increasingly simple.

Late last year, we signed up for a music streaming service. Recently, when I learned the Violent Femmes had a new album out, I searched for it and was able to listen to it immediately. Being able to do that, have music at my fingertips so readily, is something I find amazing, strange, sad, and unbelievable.

When I was younger, I always stored concert tickets for each show in the CD cases applicable to the particular tour. Last week, I went through all my CDs and removed the ticket stubs. I’m planning on getting rid of my CD collection. I have a heavy heart about it. There was something magical about browsing the racks at a music store, purchasing a cassette or CD, removing the cellophane, tearing off the damn sticker (not always an easy task), pouring through the pages of the jacket cover, and intently listening. It allowed me to melt away to somewhere removed from myself. There was a distinct and wonderful smell that came with the packaging. It makes me sad to think that my daughter and her friends won’t recall that smell and the experience. They don’t have the privilege of HAVING to listen to an entire album of music, because it’s so easy to find “the popular song” and listen to nothing else. In many ways, it’s too easy. My daughter will never know what it’s like to make a mixtape for a crush or her best friend; or be aware of all the thought and time that goes into such an effort. I’m grateful to have access to millions of songs and artists, but continue to lament for the element of discovery and appreciation that has been lost. There is much at our disposal, and too much is easily disposed.

CD Collection


Our art class was held in the dark basement room of the since demolished Central Middle School. I always looked forward to that 50-minute period as a reprieve from asquared + btothethirdpower = a cow jumped over the moon or running endless laps in the gymnasium. The art class was also a time where I broke away from most of the same-old-same-old students in my gifted core classes to spend time with other students in the school. It was in art class that I first met Nancy, who became one of my dearest friends.

Mr. Wood, our teacher, was a non-descript man. He was rather short with graying hair and his words seemed to slur together. He probably had a flask in his desk. No one could blame him, for being with a classroom full of teens day after day must wear on anyone. I don’t remember learning much from his jumble of words, but once he was done talking, we were released into the expansive outer room — lined with tables, workshop spaces, and cabinets. For being a space that was designated for art, it was poorly lit and would have struck any outsider as depressing. There were a couple bulletin board walls where we sometimes displayed our latest drawings, but other than that, the room was void of anything that would have indicated it was used for learning the finer things. This was not the type of classroom environment where students would hang their artwork and then offer critiques or constructive criticisms to one another. Everyone was left to their own devices and many kids skipped out after the roll had been called. I was too much of a goody-goody during my junior high years to ever contemplate skipping class.

Despite the general lack of instruction, I have completely unclouded memories of time spent in the art basement. Mr. Wood was big on lettering. One thing he did attempt to teach us was how to create block letters, which had a 3D-like characteristic. I always found the “S” to be a challenge and could never get it to look quite right. Penmanship had been my strong suit from a young age. I loved the way the calligraphy pens had to be angled just so, and when pressed, the ink would flow into a wavy “r” or a loopy “y”. Another designated project I recall was meant to be an optical illusion. The instruction was to draw a grid within a certain shape and then fill in every other space with dark pen or marker. If you stood a couple feet away from the piece, and let your eyes soften, the lines would begin to move or suck you into their depths.

At one point during my eighth grade year, we made jewelry. This was a pretty advanced effort, given how infrequently we received actual instruction in the class. There was a hot blue wax substance we used to craft rings, pendants, and other items. We had little drills that we would use to work the metal smooth once it had hardened. During a lunch hour, Nancy and our other friend Liz were in the art room messing around with jewelry and drills, likely unbeknownst to the teacher. Liz wasn’t paying attention and before she knew it, she had a little drill spun into her wavy black hair. Hearing Nancy breathlessly retelling the story in between gasps of laughter became a favorite thing, “And then, ‘zooooop’ the drill was caught in Liz’s hair!” I don’t recall exactly how the scenario ended, but I’m fairly sure it involved scissors for drill removal surgery. I cannot remember which of us first discovered that we could decorate our fingernails with wax drippings, but somehow, the three of us thought it was a genius idea. Once we each had a finished piece of jewelry for “grading” (a loosely used term in this class), we spent a significant amount of time heating wax, and dripping it onto our fingernails. Each little drop burned and stung, but we had to try and be quiet practicing our craft so we wouldn’t get caught. (I’m not sure what the consequence would have been, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been significant.) Once a ball of wax was resting on a fingernail, you had to hold in an “eeeeee” or an “ah-ah-ah” and then casually blow on it until it was dry. At one point, probably as a resort of our tears of stifled laughter post-wax application, Mr. Wood turned from the drill area, sauntered towards us, and asked, “What are you girls doing?” It was as if we became synced robots. All three of us had our hands under the table, quickly rubbed the then-dried wax off our nails, and casually brought our hands up to rest on the table as we chorused, “Nothing.” While we held in laughter, Mr. Wood gave us a look of skepticism, and walked back to his drill bits.

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I brought in a 110mm camera my grandma had given me. It was a great source of amusement to us. In 1991 you rarely saw a camera at school. We took an entire roll of pictures, and despite the basement gloom, it was definitely one of the happiest times of my young teen life. A nagging pit of sadness creeps into my gut when I think that students no longer experience the slightly oblivious Mr. Wood and the dank of the art room basement.
Nancy, Liz & me Nancy, Liz & me

                                Central Middle School                           Mr. Wood & his pupils


I’ve learned over the years not to hang out with people I don’t like; people who are cheap, people who aren’t funny, people who are mean or insincere. I’ve learned to say, “NO!” emphatically. I’ve learned who my true friends are. I’ve learned that I don’t have to finish reading a book I start and can’t get into, just because a critic liked it or because someone else deemed it a classic. I’ve learned to listen to music that makes me sing (and to my daughter’s chagrin) might make me want to dance. I’ve learned not to stress as much over things I cannot control. I’ve learned not everyone will like me; I accept it and move on. I’ve learned that having a bit of chocolate after lunch makes me happy. I’ve learned that hot Chai tea soothes me and can alter my mood for the better. I’ve learned to let go a little. I’ve learned that insomnia can be productive, and that a 30-minute afternoon nap works wonders. I’ve learned the fundamentals of a person don’t change too often, so you need to accept them for who they are or walk away if their behavior is off-putting. I’ve learned to make time for the people and things I love the most. I’ve learned there are things I will never understand. I’ve learned I’ve still a lot left to learn.