Fahrenheit-114 a.k.a How Legislators Try to Play Teacher

Screen Shot 2022-01-26 at 5.29.00 PMThis image is being republished from one of my student’s MamaG Fan Accounts on Instagram.

Here is a letter I am emailing my Utah politicians today:

Hello to Representative Fillmore, Senate Education Committee Members, House Education Committee Members, & my UEA Representative,

The proposed bill SB114 is so horrific that it is being circulated repeatedly by a mass amount of teachers. I’ve personally found it in my email box three times.

If you don’t already know this, and I assume you don’t by out of touch some of this bill is with the nature of education: most teachers just go about their business doing their jobs and don’t have the time or the concern to typically worry about Utah’s legislative decisions. We have typically just trusted that you will all do the right thing on our behalf, but as our jobs are becoming more and more unmanageable, we, as a group, have started tipping our curious and altruistic natures in your directions to protect ourselves, our students, and our colleagues.

If you don’t already know this, as you are all terrified of educators getting wind of their power (as was remarked on the Senate floor last Friday – a representative’s fear that Utah educators will strike like those in Chicago), we as educators are terrified of more power being given to a small minority of Utah’s unstable parents. Why do we worry about this? Because we are dealing with these parents on the daily. It’s the thing that most educators list first when talking about the worst part of their jobs: the demanding, critical, unrealistic, and often ridiculous parents. They are unrelenting, and unfortunately, the group is growing. Even the best of administrators often will throw teachers under the bus just to get these parents off their backs. The more we give to these parents refusing to set healthy boundaries, the less and less enjoyable it is and will continue to be an educator. If you don’t believe me, ask any Utah teacher. I promise that they agree with me.

SB114 is catering to the very people who make our jobs H – E – Double Hockey Sticks: the ones who want to burn books, the ones who want to come to our classrooms every day and tell us how to do our job, the ones who are never satisfied, the ones who threaten homeschool over a set of educational standards, and the ones who will email a teacher 25 times to demand their child get an A (when the kid doesn’t even come to school, much less know the material.) Do you have any idea what a remarkable MESS you will be making if this bill passes? We can’t even get TWO parents to agree on anything, much less an entire LEA’s worth of them. There is great potential in this bill to leave absolutely nothing to be taught because parents won’t agree on anything. There is even greater potential that the state of Utah will no longer have any teachers to employ.

To help you understand my point, I would like to dub this bill Fahrenheit-114. If you’ve never read the amazing book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, it could be because someone’s parent, within a school that gave parents too much power, decided that it wasn’t any good for you. This book offers a sad tale about censorship and control and is a critique of a possible and fictional futuristic society that only consumes material that everyone has agreed is good…ultimately, even leading to cancelling The Holy Bible. SB114 is this fictional society becoming our today’s reality: it is exactly what Ray Bradbury warns us about – a society that fears anything and everything different, so they no longer have any differences. They are all controlled by the book-burning government employed firefighters. I would encourage each of you to read this book before voting on this bill. I will gladly mail you a copy. While reading, consider it and what Representative Fillmore is requesting of local LEA’s in the following bolded verbiage of his bill:

213          (24) (a) As used in this Subsection (24)(a):
214          (i) “Instructional material” means any learning material or resource used to deliver or
215     support a student’s learning that a local school board adopts and preapproves for use within the
216     LEA, including textbooks, reading materials, videos, activities, digital materials, websites, and
217     other online applications.

218          (ii) “Supplemental material” means any learning material or resource used to deliver or
219     support a student’s learning that an educator reviews and selects, including reading materials,
220     videos, activities, digital materials, websites, and other online applications.
221          [(24)] (b) A local school board shall:
222          [(a)] (i) make [curriculum] instructional material that the school district uses readily
223     accessible and available for a parent to view;

224          [(b)] (ii) annually notify a parent of a student enrolled in the school district of how to
225     access the information described in Subsection [(24)(a)] (24)(b)(i); and
226          [(c)] (iii) include on the school district’s website information about how to access the
227     information described in Subsection [(24)(a).] (24)(b)(i).
228          (c) In selecting and approving instructional materials for use in the classroom, a local
229     school board shall:
230          (i) establish an open process, involving parents of students enrolled in the LEA, to
231     review and recommend instructional materials for board approval; and
(ii) ensure that under the process described in Subsection (24)(c)(i), the board:
233          (A) posts recommendations online for a period of no less than 30 calendar days to
234     allow for public review;
235          (B) holds a public hearing on any recommendation, materials, or resources before
236     adopting the recommendation or approving the materials or resources that provides an
237     opportunity for parents of students enrolled in the LEA to express views and opinions on the
238     recommendations, materials, or resources; and
239          (C) approves the materials or resources in an open and regular board meeting for which
240     prior notice is given to parents of students enrolled in the LEA.
241          (d) A local school board shall adopt a supplemental materials policy that provides
242     guidance to educators on the selection of supplemental materials or resources, including
243     whether any process or permission is required before classroom use of the materials or
244     resources.
Above, I have bolded most everything that I have heard educators seeing as problematic. The problems with this bill are unending for us, but I will gladly scale down the teacher lounge talk to our Top 5 Reasons that Fahrenheit-114 is Ridiculous to Educators:
  1. 30 day notice on curriculum. Do you realize that sometimes we are figuring out the specifics and details of a lesson on the day or the morning or during the prep-period directly before instruction? We, unlike you legislatures, aren’t given the luxury of all the time in the world to do our jobs.  This an absolute IMPOSSIBLE directive. Can you let me know what you will be doing even 20 days from now, so I can approve it or not? Of course not. That is not the nature of our jobs.
  2. The potential size of our school boards. You obviously have no idea how many “learning materials” are generated on a daily basis by a single teacher. On a good week, I generate hundreds, and even on a bad week full of the other parts of teaching monopolizing my time, I generate at least 25. There is no way a school board of even size of The Utah House of Representatives would be effective enough to glance at (much less study) each and every teacher’s generated learning materials.
  3. Catering to parents over educators. I really shouldn’t have to say much more here, but really, parents can be very very impossible to please. You would know this if you spent just one week doing our jobs.
  4. Parents are NOT EDUCATORS. Do you really expect parents to review and recommend instructional material and do any semblance of a decent job? Let me put this in your language. Do you think I can come to the Senate Floor tomorrow and vote on bills that I’ve never even read. Can I come down there and even understand where I am supposed to go or what I am supposed to do? Right. I cannot. I have not been given the training. I don’t have the experience. Yet, this bill is telling educators that our State Senate thinks that parents can do the job that we have gone to college to do, we have obtained all the training necessary to certify for, we have researched, collaborated, and lost sleep over.
  5. Trust is earned, not found. Just as in any profession, there are a few bad eggs. But, just as a school teacher was fired in Lehi this year from a student’s published video and another I know just got a “letter in his file,” we should all let the current processes do their job. They work. Even if you don’t think that they work, controlling every little thing for every little educator, is not the answer. That’s called Communism.

Most educators that I know are giving up so much (even too much) to offer a “fair education for every student.” They don’t need the meddling of untrained and unaware people who are afraid of the one bit of power they have been given: to teach. We have been trained on what is appropriate or not to speak of in a classroom. We know not to talk about charged topics: politics, religion, or even weather patterns in a way that causes uproar or offended parents. The last thing an educator wants is an offended parent, and the very last thing that they want is a student that feels ostracized in any way, shape, or form. Please just trust us to do our jobs. We’ve earned that trust with our blood, sweat, and tears. It’s what we live for. It’s what we work 70-hour weeks for. It’s highly offensive that we as front-line workers are being told by SB114 that we have to jump through even more hoops for the squeaky wheels. It’s highly offensive that Representative Fillmore has written legislation to cater to those squeaky wheels, and it’s even more highly offensive that the rest of our Utah State politician’s are actually humoring it. It’s also very very dangerous of legislation to limit teacher’s autonomy in this way. Autonomy is likely the ONLY thing that is keeping us in our professions because more than anything, we love our kids. And the challenge of engaging them is the why of why we are still willing to do a job that is way under-respected and even more under-paid.

Thank you for the time you have taken to consider my position, and thank you for your hopeful actions in fixing this horrific dystopian-esque nightmare of an education bill.


The Alchemist Inspiring Minds

Sometimes, I have to rub my eyes and wiggle my toes, just to make sure I am awake.

Why? Because I get to do what I do for a living.

I GET TO teach literature to young impressionable minds.

And, those minds enrich me right back.

Here are some recent Visual Quotes my students created.

They chose their favorite quotes from the book The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo.

Check out the wisdom that they gained from reading ONE BOOK!

Imagine now that I’ve somehow managed to influence these students to repeat the simple task of reading a book and pondering on its meaning and how it connects to themselves over and over again.

That’s POWER!

Twenty-three years.

I’ve had the sacred privilege of sharing the last 23 years with a man that I love, respect, and adore.

It’s been a great ride with many ups and downs, but the roller coaster is what keeps it exciting. The challenges are what make us stronger.

In the last couple of years, it’s been especially tough, as my husband has struggled with connection. It’s left me very lonely, but I am grateful that he continues to choose me. Even if he doesn’t show his choice how I want for the majority of the time, I know at the end of the day, he’s doing the best he can.

It’s THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING in existence to choose the same person over and over again.

Now, if you are happy at that sap, stop reading here.

Next, I am going to share with you my poem from last night. I’ve been writing a poem a day for the past two weeks. I plan to write one every day for 365 days straight. I am trying to think of the one moment that I found the most significant and write about it. Last night’s poem is depressing. It captures the loneliness I feel while my husband is mentally and emotionally checked out.

Now, don’t be mad. It is what is. It’s part of the roller-coaster. Even among the pain, we choose each other, and that is what makes our marriage beautiful.

Ignore the bullets. I couldn’t figure out any other way to get this poem to be single-spaced.

The Light He Never Sees

  • I wear a head lamp
  • to illuminate the
  • graphite scratches
  • containing all my hurt and loneliness
  • made to the rhythmic interruptions
  • of
  • slurping and
  • muzzling and
  • choking and
  • blowing
  • of his snores.
  • It seems it should be
  • impossible
  • for him to sleep.
  • Yet, he’s dead to the world
  • as I know it,
  • He’s oblivious of this small consideration
  • as he’s oblivious to the large services and the even greater care.
  • But, at least at night,
  • he’s got snores to blame.
  • During the day, it’s just neglect.

Stay Gold, Knights.

Stay gold.




To my very first students:

I’d like to leave you with a story. It’s a short and simple one.

Once upon a time, a great American poet named Robert Frost penned a poem.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Years later another great author named S.E. Hinton wrote a book titled The Outsiders, one of my favorite novels of all time. I never got a chance to talk to you about The Outsiders, just as I never got a chance to tell you a lot of other magical literary things I would have liked to stuff into our last two months of school. However, I do have high hopes that maybe you were introduced to this great American classic in junior high. To jog your memory it’s about a bunch of American boys stuck in the socially-constructed life of violence. Read the book. You won’t regret it. Then, watch the awesome movie.

In Chapter 9, while struggling to breathe (that’s all I will say because you know how I hate spoilers) Johnny turns to Pony Boy and admonishes, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold…” In his dying state, the one message Johnny has for Ponyboy is to “stay gold.” Here S.E. Hinton is making specific reference to Robert Frost’s poem. You should go back and read and analyze the poem to contrive so many meanings packed into these two words. Meanings such as:

  • Life is short.
  • Change is inevitable.
  • Carpe diem.
  • Accept what is.
  • Cherish the early experiences that shape you.
  • Shine to your fullest.
  • Everyone’s time will be up eventually.

My students, my last words to you are “stay gold.” Not just because I am Mrs. Gold, but because the message packed into the two words include everything I want you to know, everything I hope for you in  your lives.

Stay gold.

I love you. I love each and every one of you. Thanks for sharing your lives with me. Thanks for teaching me. Thanks for giving me one of your golden school years. I’ve loved almost every minute I’ve spent with each of you and the minutes that weren’t so hot, I still will cherish in my heart forever. You are all some of the best people that ever happened to me.

S.E. Hinton started writing The Outsiders when she was fifteen. That is younger than most of you. I challenge you to really think about that. Some of you might not bloom until later. I hope I can write just one mediocre novel before I die. I don’t know why some people can do things at fifteen that I am still working towards, but I will never stop trying to play catch up. And neither should any of you. You all have miracles to create of your very own. It might not be in writing. It might not even be in reading or speaking, but it will be from our three class principles: listening, learning, and loving. Your miracles will be something that comes from your heart. Teaching you all was a labor from my heart. I know I wasn’t perfect. In fact, I know I was far from perfect, but I am better because of each of you. Every one of you has shaped me into more of an S.E. Hinton than when I started as your brand new teacher. And, that is a miracle that I will never EVER forget. If any of us exist after this life, I will look for you. I will always be looking for you to tell you I love you and I believe in you, no matter what.

Stay gold.

The Riptide Otherwise Known as Teaching

sea turtleAs you all know, my blogging has taken a BIG back burner to my new adventure as a first-year high-school  English teacher. WOW. Do I have so many stories to tell someday! Like, only after I retire, so no one can sue me for privacy infringement. If I had to describe this year, I would say it’s been like learning to surf. So much sea-water has jammed its way down my throat into my digestive system that I lost count.

I’ve been sore on the daily from the mental and emotional anguish called teaching. I’ve laid in the shallow water with sand all up in all my body parts just rubbing me raw like I was some kind of beached whale — the bathing suit crotch pocket was loaded with at least two pounds of sand and rocks. Every. Single. Day. [If you don’t get this crotch-pocket reference, it’s because you’ve never been a female who lived on the beach.] Every day, as a teacher, I would show up at 7 AM hoping to learn to surf and pray to go home by 7 PM, but it rarely happened. The only thing I could ever count on was the water, the sun, and the sand. And, the only thing I couldn’t count on was actually riding a wave. I can say that surfing happened very rarely. Being a rookie teacher is a lot like being a novice surfer. It’s all work, and very very very little euphoria. In fact, this year, I had just a few rare moments of euphoria, but compared to the surfing experience I had in the 80’s with my former boyfriend, Travis Parker, teaching was much of the same: I never even was able to paddle out to the really good waves much less own a single newsworthy ride. I barely even got up for more than 20 seconds. Why? Because it was my first time! And teaching is as hard as hell. The kind of hell that only a teacher knows. Surfers don’t even know this kind of hell. Even after they’ve been bitten by a great white and lost an arm.

Teaching has a lot in common with the trauma I experienced just last November. You see, I went to Hawaii with my husband. On our last day of our 22-year-delayed honeymoon, before flying back home, I went out in the water to get one last snorkel session in. I was alone, and I knew the riptide was dangerous.  But, I thought I could handle it. I didn’t even take fins out. I think I had a mental lapse assuring myself that I could still swim as a native Californian. Except I haven’t lived in California since 1995. I planned to stay close to the shore, as my husband was napping. I knew there was no one around to save me.

All was going well until that damn huge sea turtle. I was enamored. I followed it away out. I watched it in awe. Then I saw another. And another. Was I in heaven? How did I get so lucky? Then, before you  know it, I had a sickening realization — the coral was way too far underneath me. I pulled my head out of the water searching for the shoreline, and I almost died of an immediate panic attack. Or was it a heart attack? I’m not sure. I was probably at least half a mile from the deserted shore. I started paddling and kicking for my life. My CA girl instincts kicked in. “Go with the shore diagonally. Don’t try to go straight in. Don’t panic. Use the waves.” I got about halfway in, and my body that hadn’t had any serious exercise in years (unless you count childbirth) succumbed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do it. I started to scream. Louder than I have ever screamed. And, I’m a screamer. Just ask my kids. My entire life flashed before my eyes. I thought about my perplexed husband wondering why I never woke him for our missed flight home. My younger-year threats about trying out homelessness for the adventure would be ringing in his ears. Except I wouldn’t be homeless, I would be at home to whatever existence my spirit earned. My body would be devoured by sharks. My five children would go the rest of their lives wondering if I had been seduced by Jack Sparrow.  Yes, all these thoughts and 37 million more went through my head during that 45 seconds of screaming.

So, what am I really trying to say here? Back to teaching. Teaching is a B$#(^. The only people who sign up for the gig are 30% insane, 30% masochistic, and 40% passionate dreamers. The pay sucks. You all already know this. As an intern teacher this year, the pay was half of suck. I thought being 46 and having five kids would have prepared me to be a rock-star teacher. I thought being a recent college graduate with the latest theories and pedagogies stamped into me by some of the best college professors would make me 500 times better than any other new teachers. I thought being hired by one of the most prestigious high schools in the state of Utah with amazing capable colleagues would fill in the gaps. But, none of any of these things made my job easier. Every day, I was half out to sea with just myself to save me. This year, it felt like the only thing I had going for me was my willingness to show up day after day to be pounded. And, my sheer stubbornness that wasn’t going to let ANYONE (and by anyone I mean tyrannical teenagers) pull my dream of inspiring a generation out from under me. I mean, I might have lost the board many times every day, but lucky for me it was always tethered to my ankle. There was no way I would ever give up and untie the board. Also, lucky for me, I never drowned. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” And swim I did. I swam a lot, but I only got up on the board a few times. For less than twenty seconds. I might have done better than that. In fact, I probably did, but I was too tired to really notice or acknowledge it because another riptide was coming.

But, next year. Next year, I will get up on that board at least twice as much. And, in five more years, I expect to sign a contract as a Pro. I just have to make it that far. Did you know that 50% of teachers leave the profession in the first five years?

“Why do I plan to stay?” you ask. Because I broke up with Travis Parker before I ever learned how to really surf. And, I always wonder what could have been. With the surfing, not with Travis. {Hi Travis!! I still love you, but, you know, as well, as I do, that we weren’t meant to be. I hope you are loving your job as a more-seasoned teacher. Will you send me some advice if you get a second?}

So, back to the riptide. I kept swimming and kicking and praying. I would dead-man float every little bit and scream, but I couldn’t afford to scream long because the tide would pull me back out. After what seemed like the longest ten minutes of my life, a young girl appeared ashore. She was about twelve. The palm trees split and she arrived from the park on the other side with a lovely sun-shining conduit straight from heaven ushering her to the sand. I have never been so relieved to see another person in my entire life. She looked a lot like myself at twelve. She was overweight with a great tan and long dark hair. It was as if God was giving me a moment to observe myself as a totally unconfident but capable twelve-year-old watching my totally uncofindent but capable 46-year-old self. He was telling me that I was alright. Then. And now. Right as she waved and hollered asking if I needed help, I felt my feet hit the rocky bottom of the great Pacific. I rode a tiny wave in, and hugged the sand as the wave pulled my bathing suit off my top. I laid flat modestly only lifting my head and said, “Thank you so much. I’m okay. I’m okay.” She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “You idiot! What have you gotten yourself into now?” I was too tired to answer her, but a sentiment screamed from my cerebellum, “Aw. C’mon. Give me a break. I know I’m not a native, but I’m fine. I don’t need you anymore. I’ve got this totally under control. I made it this far, didn’t I?”

And then I went and woke my husband, drove to the airport, flew home, and went back to school the next day. I stood in front of that one class that was out to get me all year long and thought the same thoughts as they exchanged texts of ugly memes about me under their desks, “Aw. C’mon. Give me a break. I know I’m not a native, but I’m fine. I don’t need you anymore. I’ve got this totally under control. I made it this far didn’t I?” But, it felt like more of a lie than that silent conversation in Hawaii. I couldn’t feel my feet on the rocks. But, this lie was at least a little familiar. Why?  Because I had told myself the same thing daily for the last 200+ days. That lie was the only way to survive the humiliation of first-year teaching, the humiliation we call figuring things out as you go.

Here were some pieces of hope along the way. Straight from the sea turtles:

Mrs. Gold, I know I didn’t attend your class too often but I really wish I had. You are one of my favorite teachers for lots of reasons, you’re funny, you’re kind, and you were always willing to help me with whatever I needed… you made it a safe place for me…and I really really appreciate everything you have done for my family.

Hi Mrs. Gold, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all that you’ve done this year for us… As this was your first year of teaching, you did very well. If there was a rating system for teachers, I’d give you 10/10 for organization, 3/10 for staying on task (but that’s fine because it was mostly hilarious experiences that won’t be forgotten quickly), 10/10 for keeping teenagers entertained and interested, and finally 10/10 for being an amazing teacher overall. So, thank you for helping me with assignments when needed, thank you for making class a little more fun, and thank you for being a great teacher overall.

Hi Mrs Gold,  I just want to say thank you for being the most amazing teacher! You definitely were my favorite and always knew what to say to make everyone around you laughing, feel loved, and happy. Thank you for always listening to me and especially the one time when I walked into class and you just saw me and knew instantly to ask if I was okay after I had gone through a heartbreak. Thank you again, I will miss you very much!!

Gold, Thank you for all that you have done for me. You have helped me have a confidence I didn’t even know I had. The memories that we have made will be with me forever. I have never had a teacher I have been so close to. You are such an amazing teacher and NEVER forget that!! You are practically perfect in every way (haha stole mary poppins line). I am going to miss you so so so much as a teacher. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed English as much as I did while you were my teacher.  HAHA you are hilarious and everyday I think of a joke or something you said, and I can’t help but laugh out loud!! I will always remember the things you have done for me and the big inspiration you have been. You are probably one of the biggest role models in my life. Thank you for supporting me in all the things that have happened in my life. You will be my twin forever. I love you!! …P.P.P.S MAMMA GOLDDD IN THE HOUSEEE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Gold, this year has been A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. All thanks to you. I remember the first day of your class I thought it was going to be the most fun adventure of my sophomore year….. and little did I know it would be so much more than that. From the very beginning you showed genuine care for each and every one of us. Each. And. Every. One. Through pushing your students, helping and caring, and opening your arms with love you have changed the lives of so many people this year. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you, thank you for being the best teacher on the planet, thank you for being yourself, thank you for loving, thank you for caring, thank you for lifting others up, thank you for hosting karaoke , and lunchtime parties, thank you for investing in what you love, thank you for showing dreams can come true and thank you for who you are.  I truly believe I will never forget the amazing memories. The finger twerking, the karaoke, the pencil throwing, the messages on the white board, the Rick Astley memes, the off-key songs, the random videos we played in your room… the burnt popcorn smell, the walks, the unimaginable love, the genuine care, and the strength you have given all of us.

thank you! imma miss you!
Hi Mrs. Gold!
How are you? I miss your class!
Mrs. Gold, I watched your video tonight and you seriously made me cry! I love you so much and I can’t thank you enough for putting up with me and teaching me all that I have learned in English this year! I will for sure miss you and hope to get in contact with you after I graduate! I just owe you the biggest thanks! So thank you for everything!!!
Mrs. Gold, I just wanted to send a short letter to tell you thank you so much for all of your hard work on our behalf.  Teaching is such a hard profession!  My son … has loved being in your class!  He says you are one of his favorite teachers he has ever had!  … says out of all his teachers, you are the one that cares about the students and works so hard to prepare fun lessons that are interesting!  Warmest thanks!
Hey Gold, I just want to thank you for all that you are doing for me and for all of your students, you really are a great teacher.

The sea turtles are the real reason we teachers teach. If you don’t believe me, just look around the country right now during COVID-19. Remember that the sea turtles that are in your homes driving you crazy are so enamoring to the few, the proud, the educators. We see them for what they are: majestic beings full of unlimited endless potential. We care that we don’t get paid anywhere near what we are worth, but like the surfers, we just take it for what it is because that HUGE wave and the Pro Surfing tour is waiting on us. And the sea turtles wouldn’t get to the front pages of National Geographic without the humans who see them for what they are.

Even if every night, usually in the dark, I had to paddle away from my sea turtles, back to a dirty house to make dinner for my own full home, do homework with my own kids, and clean the mess to be ready for another early morning, I always did so with the hopes that tomorrow I could reach the ones I was supposed to and ignore the ones that shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders.
And thanks to the sea turtles that I taught how to write, I think I didn’t end up doing so terrible. I mean, I didn’t drown or die of a heart attack. I at least made it back to the shore. But, next year. Next year, I will be in way better shape, and I am going to have a way better surf board.   Bring on more sea turtles.


Saber was his name.
My brother’s dog.
He belonged on the set of Sandlot.
Minus the growl.
Because he was a gentle giant
that wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Just like his human counterpart, Braxton.
My nephew had passed to the other side.
Too soon.
Paper angels filled their lawn.
What a shame it was that B was gone,
but his dog was there
laying, hanging his head on the stoop
waiting for his boy to come home.
The reunion never took place until Saber died, too.
I would have liked to have been there, Braxton
because in many ways I am still on that doorstep
my brain is reeling in the why.

Lucky was his name.
The little mutt with crazy wire whiskers.
He was a high-strung dog,
but how she loved him.
Her boyfriend relayed through sobs that he found Lucky
licking up her blood.
My hug that can’t be given is in that backyard fire
along with hers
among the coals and guts
wondering along with Lucky
where she went and why she went there.
Stephanie, my dear friend,
I’ll never stop
reliving the conversation
we had over messenger
a week before.
I told you there was hope.
You could still live a full life
even with a mental diagnosis.
I’m so sorry that I wasn’t convincing enough.

I don’t know their names.
One was a fat chocolate lab
and the other was a bronze retriever.
He walked them every day.
Twice a day.
Like clockwork.
Early morning and right after rush hour.
They dragged him along
and he held on tight
to both of their leashes
and their bags of poo.
But his own life was slippier.
Hey you, we said hi in passing
for years, but you never
had many words.
You let go of your life
and your dogs are probably
still sitting at the window
with scrambling paws
tangled in the blinds
waiting for their walk.
When our neighbor texted
to report the news,
I cried
because I wanted to see
those bags of poo
one last time,
so I could tell you that
you mattered.
To your dogs,
and to me.
Even if we weren’t friends.
Even if I don’t even know your name.
Daily, since the news, I drive the streets
that never again will know your soles,
and my soul feels empty.

He loved them.
He tried to convince me
to love them, too.
I wouldn’t even look,
even though my kids said they
were the softest animal on the earth.
Caleb was the softest human on the earth.
His smile.
His laugh.
His love.
His open arms
and funny jokes.
Everyone’s friend.
Everyone’s cheerleader.
His love for cooking.
I want to buy a chinchilla
just for you, Caleb
because I didn’t listen last time when you told me to
and because maybe
just maybe
the chinchilla’s fur
in my hand
will bring back my ability to breathe.
But mostly I want to travel back
two weeks and embrace your face
and tell you how much you taught
instead of just remarking
on how handsome of a young man you had become.

Social Media Fast

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I survived my ten-day social-media-fast. I accepted the challenge by the prophet, but I wasn’t perfect. If you went to that linked article at Washington Post, you will see how many women were perfectly justified in delaying their own fasts. I didn’t start mine until last Sunday because I wanted to have an actual fast for the extra boost of help. I know it would be hard for me. I’m a junkie, and I’ve not just allowed but invited social media to penetrate my daily life. In many ways, it’s the only adult connection I get on a daily. Sad, but true. My husband works out of town, and my teenage kids are busy.

I was one of the women with my doubts and worries. As you can see:

social media fast

Here is the transcript of my feelings:


  • alicewgold

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are unique from other world religions because we believe in a modern-day prophet. The current prophet is Russell M. Nelson. He challenged us all to fast (a lent of sorts) from social media for 10 days and to take inventory during the fast of how we can better use our time. My fast will happen from Sunday 10/14- Tuesday 10/23. I’m worried a bit because I rely on social media for so many forms of communication nowadays. If you need me, e-mail, call, text or snail mail. I have full faith that this difficult challenge will bless me in ways I don’t currently perceive. If it were Noah, I’d like to think I’d get in the ark, even if it seemed crazy before the rain started.

I had many friends tell me that they would love to hear my experiences with the fast once I got through. So, here they are.


  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I think that is basically because I’ve created my own boundaries with social media throughout the years. I’ve unfollowed everyone that is toxic to me. I rarely see any political posts, improve-your-body posts, and complaining-constantly/always looking for empathy posts.
  • I have a problem with driving and scrolling. This completely stopped in the last 10 days, and I hope to have totally broke the habit.
  • I really don’t waste that much time on social media even though I admit to checking my facebook/instagram many times a day. They are the only two platforms that I use consistently, and I think that helps me control my usage. I don’t use snapchat or MarcoPolo or many others. I rarely use Twitter unless I am trying to get a hold of JK Rowling. I usually only checked my linked in every month or two. I mostly check my insta and FB while in the bathroom or standing in lines, but I have wasted too much time hiding in the bathroom. I feel good about not wasting a lot of time, but bad about all the extra time I’ve been spending in the bathroom.
  • I will stop using my phone in bed. I have let social media steal my nightly reading time. I blame my nightly reading habits being broken on homework, but in honesty I could be doing some reading for pleasure if I wasn’t using social media as an escape.
  • There are some times that you just have to get on social media. I did some research for a local autistic group. I’ve been looking in to getting an adult diagnosis for someone I know. One of the first hits was an organization that helps adults and their facebook page was prime real estate for connecting with other locals who have been diagnosed. (That was cheat #1, but in my defense, I only sent one message. And, I have yet to read the response. Second, my daughter’s mother–in-law asked me to post about her dog so that she could win a year supply of dog food, and there was no way I wasn’t going to try and help. (Although most of my local friends weren’t on social media to see my post.) Fourth, I had to go back and look at an old message from a friend to recall a band name that I wanted to share with a co-worker. (Not vital, but what can I say? The flesh is weak, and in my old age I like to get things done when I think of them, so they won’t be forgotten. Lastly, I got an e-mail notification of a neighbor giving away a plastic filing system that I desperately need for my classroom next year. The photo was in my e-mail. I jumped on to snag that. Yes, I could have lived without all 4 of these cheats, and yes, once I jumped on for even a second, I felt the pull to stay there, but I resisted wasting any more time. That is a big takeaway for me. I need to be the ruler of the social media, not the other way around.
  • I  missed chronicling my life in photos every day. I have a phone full of pictures from the last 10 days, and I will be sharing them. I love love love how easy it is for me to store family memories in this format.
  • I found it easier to connect with my family, as I had completely removed one really big distraction.
  • I also found it easier to read my scriptures in the mornings because I just did it at my first possible chance without being drawn away by cute pictures of my friends’ children/dogs.
  • I just re-added instagram to my phone (to add all the missed photos.) I will probably take some time to re-add facebook. I really don’t enjoy it as much as insta.
  • I really think I know a lot of women in-particular that have gotten stuck in the social media trap. They are more negative, whiny, impressionable, and don’t seem to be doing a whole lot but sitting on their sites all day. I think this is a really easy trap for stay-home moms and I’ve allowed it to influence myself way too much in the past. I’m grateful I’ve been able to identify that for myself and altered my own usage previous to the challenge.

That’s it for now, but I will probably be back to add some more (and edit my own typos and errors) when I have some more time.


2018 Oct General Conference Printable

This post is for my friends the belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, if you aren’t one of those, feel free to play along. We watch eight hours of sermons here. Four hours Saturday and four hours on Sunday. Schedule is currently showing on the link and when it is going, live feed will be available at the same link.

It’s that time of the year, and because two new apostles were sustained in April, we needed a new printout for our treat schedule.  {AND HOW EXCITED ARE WE TO SEE SOME ETHNIC APOSTLES!!!}

Feel free to use my print-out instead of taking the half of an hour to create your own. Here is a screenshot and a direct link to the printable google doc.

Happy conference weekend, y’all! They really are my two favorite weekends of the year.

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General Conference

There are a lot of different ways that desperate parents try to engage antsy children for this bi-yearly event, and I have tried many of them. However, I finally found my perfect system for the simplistic mom about a decade ago. It has stuck and is always looked forward to, so it must be a winner. It’s super low-maintenance. Here is a photo of it being put to use a few years back. Thank you insta for making a photo easy to find.

I write numbers (chronologically) in sharpie next to each of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I then go to the store and buy 15 snacks and write the correlating numbers on the snacks. The kids have a snack bingo all weekend long. Beef jerky is always the favorite and for some reason it often correlates with another favorite, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

I know, I know. It’s kind of gluttonous, but aren’t all the best times of the year about hanging with family and over-eating? At least on these two weekends we are also deeply fed spiritually.

Enjoy! And feel free to share with your friends.

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Pole Creek

Twenty miles south from my home, there is a raging forest fire occurring. The other day, a neighbor put out a call for some donations to take to the firefighters. As usual, I started to ponder on which items I could donate and which items I should donate. I thought of my budget taking another hit. We’ve had several weddings this month, a totaled car, a friend whose home burned down, school fees, etc. etc. There is never enough to go around. I started to worry because I wanted to help, but I didn’t think I could. I thought of the baby wipes up on the shelf and some beef jerkey that I had bought with a coupon a few weeks ago, and I determined that those would be my personal pledges for support. I prayed to God and told Him I would do more if I could and that it was on my heart to serve however He saw fit.

A message came back loud and clear. It rang in my mind, “Alice, this is not one that you need to do this time.” I didn’t understand. Didn’t the firefighting heroes deserve some clean socks, protein, and water? I prayed again. I got the same message. I decided to go on with my day, but it kept itching at me. I wanted to help where I could, but I was determined to follow the prompting I had received even though I didn’t understand it. This was on Friday.

Imagine my surprise, when yesterday I read this news report:

Cannon also tweeted: “The American Red Cross is saying thanks to the generosity of local citizens they no longer need donations. There is a waiting list of people offering space in their home for evacuees. Thank you all.”

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox also tweeted: “Update from the Red Cross noting a few problems: 1) Big waiting list…of people that want to HELP and provide shelter for others. 2) TOO MANY donations. Please stop for now. 3) 6,000 people evacuated and no one staying at the shelter. Well done Utah. Well done.”

You guys, God is real. He speaks to us if we listen. He speaks about things that may seem inconsequential. He knows all.

Oh, and people are amazing. I am so glad that so many stepped up to provide what was needed. They all beat me to it, but my budget is grateful.

The Peace of Wild Things

When I was eighteen, a few of my friends brought me a stuffed animal wild thing for my birthday. This was back in the days when my nickname was Crazy Ali, and I was a wild thing. I was free. I wanted nothing more than to wander. I also loved the book Where the Wild Things Are. I didn’t even associate loving that book with my own desire for adventure where Max had the ultimate adventure when he met the wild things.

If I were to write a book about my own perfect adventure, I would be the wild thing, and my adventure would be finding my way to peace. But, gosh dangit, Wendell Berry beat me to that story. And, how I love him for it.

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