Smell of petrichor
Pressures in the air
Smell of petrichor
Pressures in the air
I remember from the time I was only four or five years old, my dad would sing to me before I went to sleep. He’d sing the LDS primary song, “I Know My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” or as I liked to call it, “Rushes By”. I loved it when he’d sing this song because at the end of it, when he sang, “Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me”, he’d always add”… and Du Lady”. Du Lady has been my nickname for as long as I can remember. But I always loved it when my dad would sing that to me. It always made me feel, well, loved.
I must have been a strange child. When me dad sang to me, he’d also sometimes tell me stories. My favorite? The story of the Teton Dam breaking in 1976. I’d ask him to tell me that story all the time. He’d start. “I was 4 years old, living in Idaho Falls…” and he’d tell me the rest of the story. How the dam had been made of mud instead of concrete, and that’s why it had broken. How it had flooded all of Rexburg and there was so much water that the flood carried away herds of cattle, even houses. I don’t know why a four-year-old girl wanted to hear this story, but I did. And I loved it.
My favorite hymn has always been #30 in the LDS hymnbook, “Come, Come, Ye Saints”. When I was a kid, I just liked it for no reason, but my favorite verse was verse 4, “And if we die / before this journey’s through / happy day, all is well”. Seems a little dark for a young girl. But I always liked that it said “All is well” at the beginning as well as in the chorus at the end, where is says “all is well / all is well”. I wonder now if there was a little part of me, even then, that understood what this hymn was about: That God loves us and even if things are hard, or even if we die, all will be well.
I became vegetarian when I was 6 or 7 years old. To this day, I am not sure what exactly my motivation was. I do, however, know the event that caused it. When my family moved to Idaho in 2004, we suddenly had two and a half acres of land, and my parents decided to get chickens, so we could have some experience raising animals and also so we could eat their eggs. So in the spring of 2005(I think. I’m not sure exactly when we got the chickens) we got 10 or so chickens. We tried to only get hens, but it’s quite difficult to tell hens and roosters apart when they’re chicks. So we ended up with two roosters. And these roosters were mean. So mean that my parents decided they needed to kill them. So my dad slaughtered the two roosters in our backyard. As you may imagine, this was pretty scarring for a 5 or 6-year old girl. So my older brother and I decided to stop eating meat. And, with a few brief exceptions, I haven’t eaten meat.
For my fourth birthday, my grandma gave me the greatest gift a four-year-old could dream of: Polly Pockets and a huge stuffed bear! I loved Polly Pockets, even though I always lost the shoes. And I loved that bear. I remember when she gave it to me, it had a pretty striped ribbon tied around it’s neck, and it just looked so soft and cozy. I don’t remember if I named it right then, or if the naming happened later, but I named the bear Elaine, after my great-grandmother who died when my grandma was fairly young. I never met Elaine, but I feel a connection with her anyway. Elaine was an artist, and I have inherited some of her art supplies, so whenever I use them, I think of her, and how I wish I could have known her.
When my family decided to move to Europe in 2012, I was really upset. I didn’t want my whole life to be uprooted right before I became a teenager and started having friends. But my chagrin wasn’t enough to keep my family from going. And overall, I’m so glad for the experience now. But I remember one day while we were living in Prague in February or March of 2013, my family went on a walk through a park in Prague. It was a beautiful day, but for some reason I was really mad. I refused to enjoy the walk, or the park, or the time spent with my family. There’s a picture on my mom’s blog, of my whole family, everyone smiling, except me. I’m standing to the side, crossing my arms and frowning. I remember my older brother trying really hard to cheer me up, but I was so stubborn I wouldn’t let him.
Later, when my family was living in Bulgaria, my mom would sometimes send a couple of us kids to the grocery store, and to motivate us, she’d let us buy ourselves a treat for the walk back. One time, my brother Phin and I had to go all the way to the big grocery store at the other end of town. I don’t remember exactly how long of a walk it was, but it was far enough away that it seemed like forever for a thirteen-year-old and a fifteen-year-old. So we went to the store, Kaufland, and bought the things my mom had sent us for. As our treat, we got these little bagel crisps that were pizza flavored and an orange fanta. On the way home, we sat in a little park and ate them and talked. I don’t remember what we talked about, but that memory is burned in my mind. It’s like a little snapshot of those happy days.
Once, quite a few years ago, my friend Marissa and I did a dance workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, about a 45-minute drive away from my house. My mom and her mom alternated driving us over each of the five or six days of the workshop, and I remember one of the days, my mom was driving, and we passed this dead deer on the side of the road. Definitely not very out of the ordinary for Idaho/Wyoming, except the deer had no head, and the rest of it was in perfect condition. It didn’t look like it had been run over at all. And when we went back to Idaho at the end of the day, the deer was completely gone. Another time during the same workshop, I got there early, and our instructors were dancing to a Radiohead song, and then later a Yeasayer song. To this day, I don’t remember which songs, but I was so excited to hear non-pop music out in the normal world, even when I was younger.
The first time I remember hearing ABBA was when I was probably between the ages of 4 and 6. My parents friends came to visit us in Idaho, and they brought a karaoke machine, so we were all doing karaoke. But it got really late, so my dad was holding me, and I was sucking my thumb like I did until I was seven or eight. Dancing Queen came on, and my dad was slowly dancing to it, while I dozed off sucking my thumb in his arms.
Once, my family went to Montana. We went to Bozeman and Billings. It was significant to me because it was the first vacation I remember that we didn’t visit family. I can’t remember which city it was, but in one of them, we drove up to some cliffs above the city and looked at the view. It was really beautiful, but now every time I think about it, I associate it with the story from the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” called The Hook. In it, a couple went up to a cliff on a date, and parked their car, but there was a hook-handed serial killer on the loose, so they were both a little bit on edge, and they kept hearing scratching noises, so they eventually left. And when they got home and got out of the car, they saw a hook stuck in the door. I have no idea what made me make that association, but it’s there.
I hope that I never forget these memories. Though they seem pretty insignificant, they are really important to me, and I think these little things are the things that make life worth living. It’s not necessarily the big moments in life, although those are also important. The things that really change us are the small moments. The random memories that don’t make complete sense anymore. These are our most valuable possesions.
I listen to a lot of music that people might consider “feminist”. I love Lizzo, the Regrettes, and Kate Nash. I listen to their songs when I need to feel empowered and happy. But there’s a trend in this type of “feminist” music that just doesn’t sit very well with me. These women singing and performing are clearly very powerful and independent women. And I love that, and it’s a main reason that I love listening to their music so much. However, at least in their music, they sometimes tie their worth as a powerful woman to being able to control men. Essentially, it seems like they’re saying that a woman can’t truly be powerful and independent unless they could be with a man, but choose not to be.
My therapist has been working with me for the last few weeks on acknowledging my inherent worth. The fact is that most of my anxiety comes from the fact that I often feel like I have less worth than other people. In our session this morning, I brought up these artists who sing about feminism and independence, and how it’s sometimes problematic to me that they tie a woman’s power to being able to control men. I brought it up because this is another thing, of many, that affects the way that I see my own worth. I’ll explain why.
I believe myself to be a strong, beautiful, intelligent, and largely independent woman. However, I also don’t seem to have much sway over men. And this isn’t some pity party where I’m saying that I’m not pretty enough, or not worth anything because men don’t seem to fall for me like they do for other girls and women around me. That would go directly contrary to what I am trying to learn with my therapist. My point is just that I’ve spent my whole life wondering why, if I am such an amazing person, men don’t fall for me. And this is something that I have to work through on my own. But based on the messages of these feminist musicians that I listen to, the fact that men aren’t all over me means I’m not as strong as I otherwise would be.
I’ll illustrate what I mean by this. The song I’ve been thinking about particularly while I write this blog post is Like A Girl by Lizzo. I love this song and it’s one of my favorites to listen to when I need to get pumped up for something, but there is one line that just irk me a little bit, for the reasons I mentioned above. “I work my femininity / I make these boys get on their knees”(Lizzo). I love the whole song, except this line. To me, it implies that in order to be really feminine and strong in one’s femininity, a woman has to have all these men essentially at her disposal.
Another example from Lizzo is in her song Juice. This is another one I love to listen to. It’s a powerful song about embracing your body and loving yourself, but there’s another part that implies the necessity of people finding you attractive to be really strong. “Somebody come get this man / I think he got lost in my DM’s, what?” Again, this line implies that it’s not our inherent worth as human beings that should give us confidence, but rather the adoration of men, who we may choose to ignore.
There are probably other examples from Lizzo, but let’s look at the other artists I mentioned at the beginning of my post: The Regrettes and Kate Nash. Let’s take an example from the song How it Should Be by the Regrettes. This one starts of fine, with “Lots and lots of girls, they feel so worthless / they depend on him, to make them feel again”. From this line, I just hope that there will be something legitimately empowering afterward, but no. Instead, we get: “I don’t want you, cause I don’t need you”. Again, basing strength on the fact that she could have him if she wanted, but chose not to. which, granted, can be empowering, but when that’s the only message you hear, it’s problematic.
Let’s look at one more example. Kate Nash’s song Merry Happy. Again, a great song, with the same problem. In it, she sings: “you make me merry, make me very very happy / But you obviously, you didn’t want to stick around / so I learnt from you” this one is subtler, but again, I get the impression that in order to be a truly strong woman, I have to have these option and say no.
I’d really love to think that I am one of these women who men always fall for. But I’m not. I’ve never been asked out on a date, and very few guys have ever expressed interest in me in any way other than as friends. And it seems like society would have me believe that this makes me weaker and worth less than other women who do have that. And maybe this trend in society is a result of women being told for hundreds of years that they’re literally only worth something if they’re married, so these women over-compensate and try to prove their worth by showing that even though they have that option, they don’t need a man to be happy.
But nothing I can do will prove my worth. No matter how perfect my life is, no matter how funny and charming and beautiful I am, there will still be people who don’t like me. Hopefully there will also be people who do like me, but it’s okay if they don’t. Because how other people see or treat me has nothing to do with my worth. My worth as a human being is inherent and unchangeable. Being adored by my peers, male or female, won’t change that. Getting perfect grades won’t change that. having lots of friends won’t change that. Being an amazing artist, or musician, or writer, or mathematician, or literally anything else will. not. change. my. worth.
As I write this, I’m not sure I believe it. Understanding and accepting my inherent worth is going to be a process. I’m sure I will be working on this to some extent for the rest of my life. But I’m getting closer. And I hope that everyone can realize their inherent worth. Because once I do, I know it will be so freeing. I can already feel the freedom. I want to believe it. Because once I do, I can let go of other people’s expectations and live life entirely for myself. I won’t be trying to impress anyone anymore. And I won’t feel worthless because I don’t “make these boys get on their knees” as it were. I applaud women who can, but I don’t have to be one of them to be a truly powerful and independent woman.