Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

“Cough cough, cough cough.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, my sisters have been sick this week. I think now I have it too.”

“…sick with what?”

“Like — a fever and a cough.”

Long silence.

“My mom told me not to tell you though.”

This is an excerpt from a conversation a few months ago with a student. I sent the student to the school nurse. Twenty minutes later, someone in the office came by wearing a mask and gloves and picked up the student’s backpack. …

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. We’re all consumers. We scroll. We double-tap. We swipe.

It’s online shopping, and we’re shopping for others and selling ourselves. I want to think I can stop consuming, but whenever I delete the app I find myself downloading it within a few days — or hours. Sometimes minutes.

I am constantly thinking up ways to commodify myself. What’s the best thing about me? What can I sell that others will buy?

My body — okay, show more skin.

My creativity — write a more clever caption.

My happy family-film every moment.

My depression — use authenticity for…

After years of depression, it was a one way trip to healing

Photo by Alyssa Grenfell

I am a woman. I am a mother. I am white. I am a teacher. I am a wife.

Go ahead, put me in a box. I certainly do. I spend a lot of time thinking about “the right way” to act and believe. I was raised in a very orthodox Mormon family where obedience was the norm and disobedience was met with harsh punishment. I’ve wasted hours of my life setting goals and attempting to fulfill resolutions that I hoped would lead me to happiness, but usually left me feeling empty.

I never thought I would love psychedelics. As…

Women are also guilty of perpetuating rape culture

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

I wake up early every morning to try to beat the Austin heat and get in a few miles. On June 9th at 6:30 am, the morning was especially muggy so I decided to run in a sports bra. I finished my three miles and stopped in front of the gate to my apartment complex to stop recording my workout on my app.

“Excuse me, miss?”

I turned around. A young man in a white car twenty-five feet away was looking at me.

“Can you help me with directions? I’m looking for…” his voice trailed off.

“Excuse me?”

I took…

Las Vegas Black Lives Matter Protest on May 29, 2020 — Photo by Alyssa Grenfell

“Yeah, but the protestors were acting violently.”

“No, they weren’t, I was there.”

“I’m sure they were. You’ve seen the videos of the looting and rioting. They had to control the crowd.”

“It was peaceful. I was there.”

“No, I’m sure they were arrested for a reason.”

This is the general dialogue from a recent conversation with a friend. I see it all over the internet too. Yeah, the cops did that, but obviously, it was warranted. They needed to use that level of force.

As white people, we have an implicit trust in the police. Part of our white…

Unpacking my Mormon past, I’ve decided that I’m taking charge of what sexy means to me

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

When I was a kid, sexy was a bad word. Britney Spears was sexy. The Spice Girls were sexy. (I didn’t know what that meant besides that they wore revealing clothes and danced in a certain way.)

I knew it was bad to be sexy. Sexy meant short shorts, low tops, and girls who talked to boys too much. If you were sexy, you were dirty in a used-up kind of way. When I heard someone say the word “sexy,” their voice took on a half disgusted — half intrigued tone of judgment.

In Mormon Sunday school, my teacher explained…

I Hate the Zero Waste Movement

From where I stand, the Zero Waste movement is self defeating.

As a self-described — and very naive — environment lover living in a very liberal Brooklyn, I decided to quit waste. Within 24 hours, I realized my goal was impossible. Somehow, waste — especially plastic — coated every layer of my life.

I longingly read the blogs of zero wasters. Many of these women keep small mason jars to show the waste they generate in a year or more. How did they do it?

My day to day living as a middle class…

Yes, I’m sure it’s not a UTI.

Photo by Curology on Unsplash

When I was in the third grade, I loved to pee.

Every day during class I dutifully raised my hand and asked, “Can I go to the bathroom, please?”

Mrs. Bock’s eyes would stare at me from behind her wired glasses before muttering a dismissive yes. Soon my body was parked behind a light pink stall, my feet dangling a few feet from the ground. My lips curled up in a triumphant, free-at-last smile.

To say I liked to pee is a lie; the act of peeing every day during class was not really part of the equation. It was the bathroom. It was the glorious, peaceful, silent bathroom. No one…

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

Moles? Warts? Nipples? Oh my!

The first time someone pointed out my chest, I was in fourth grade in Montana City, Montana.

Your mom needs to buy you a bra because those are pointy.”

Looking down, I realized for the first time that there were two bumps poking out from my shirt. As if she cast a spell, the bumps seemed to mutate and grow beneath my shirt, rocketing off my chest like the Rocky Mountains in the Cenozoic. The weight almost tipped me over. Her voice whipped me out of my daydream.

“Ya know, I would be embarrassed to be walking around like that.”

to Spend the Summer in Tarifa, Spain

“What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.”

— Benjamin Spock

When I tell people I live in New York City, they lean a little closer. As if living in a place could automatically make you a hundred times more fascinating. “Wow, it’s my dream to live in New York City.”

I know what they’re seeing — it’s what I saw too before we arrived in Williamsburg in our 2005 Mercury. …

Alyssa Grenfell

Writer. Mama. Teacher. Human.

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