in the family of things

Wow. Lots of people have thoughts on Bentley, Mormon Douches, and the women who love them.

While it is sort of exciting to get lots of comments, it is also sort of intimidating. What do I say now? I feel like the wedding guest who chimed her glass at the reception, ready to give a speech, only to discover she has nothing more to say.

Or, as wife-beater-wearing commenter raysugarray so aptly stated: "I can't wait for all of this Bentley hype to dissipate so that this pathetic blog will go back to the depths of anonymity where it belongs."

Me too, ray, me too.

Then I realized that my career has already prepared me for this moment. Whenever I want to ensure that 90% of my students will stop listening to me, I bust out the poetry. And not the fun, rhyming, full of blood and guts and bleeding roses and angst poetry. (Teens love them some angst and bleeding roses.) Instead, I bring out the Creative-Writing major, hippie, in tune with your inner tree-hugger, poetry. Even better if said poem has no concrete point. I'm hoping that if I do the same thing on my blog as I occasionally do in my classroom, 90% of you (especially the trolls,) will stop listening. After all, to quote an oft used Bachelorette line, some of you (again, trolls) aren't here "for the right reasons."

I've been thinking about this poem  a lot this past year, and especially towards the end of the school year, what with all the Graduation speech tryouts, and the school board telling students to PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE and FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS. I think it especially applies to my honors students, who have been overachieving for so long that the world must seem like one big AP Calculus exam. Plus, I just really like Mary Oliver.

So, without further ado:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Even if you aren't a hippie English teacher, don't you find the idea fascinating?

You do not have to be good.

I keep reminding myself of this every time a lesson plan flops, every time someone logs on to tell me about what a bad Mormon/person/feminist/woman I am, every time I find myself tempted to walk on my knees, repenting for having an opinion that someone else doesn't like. I do not have to be good. My body loves what it loves, and I have a place in the family of things.

That sound you hear? Hundreds of randoms hitting "unsubscribe" simultaneously.


Ru said...

:) Thanks for sharing this poem.

L.S. said...

Hey Girl -

I read your Bentley post awhile ago and loved it! Just laughed and laughed. But I didn't really think anything of it- it didn't jump out at me as offensive or that you were giving the church a bad name.

Well after this blog post, I was like "I need to go read these comments!" So I did.

Um. Holy Crap.

People are horrible! I mean honestly, to lash out at you for your own opinion, which you tried to share in an amusing's STUPID. Do not be bothered at all by the haters. (though from your responses, I am pretty sure you're not bothered at all!)

I actually had a really random similar experience last year. Remember that JetBlue flight were the flight attendant cursed out the plane and jumped out and down the emergency slide? I was on that flight. It was hilarious. I still will say that with no fear. HILARIOUS. So I blogged about it. Well, a bunch of press people found my blog and all of a sudden my blog ended up on like 3 national TV shows. So I got a crapload of comments telling me that I was horrible b*tch for calling this guy a "jerk" and an "idiot". ...Which I still believe he was. :)

Most of the comments I received were really mean and negative. I'm glad that in this instance, most of yours were positive!

But I just wanted you to know you have one more supporter out here who thinks a blog is a's not to be taken so seriously and it's not always a reflection of the person you are on the inside. Sometimes we all just want to tell a funny story.

The craziness will die down and your faithful readers will still be here. Myself included. :)

Stephanie said...


Thanks friend, I love normals.

tetisheri said...

I love the poem. And if you are a bad Mormon/feminist/woman, then so am I, since you're my kind of Mormon/feminist/woman.

Sunny said...

If I could subscribe twice I would. :) I love our blog!

UK Yankee said...

I love that poem! That was beautiful, thanks for sharing it, especially with non-tree-hugging wannabe's like me. ;)

I've only been stalking you for a few months, I think (those Kuwait hits? Pretty much all me.) but I really admire your bravery and really enjoy your writing. Keep it up, you have a fan out here!

Sharone said...

I love this poem, and Mary Oliver. :) Happy almost-end-of-the-year, and boo to the horrible people who hide behind the internet to be great big jerks. They take the "you do not have to be good" part way too literally.

Crystal said...

WHERE IS THE SUBSCRIBE BUTTON!?? Seriously, love the crap outta your blog. I got hooked all because my friend posted the Bentley post on FB. Thanks to her, I have found you. Let's be friends? K? K!

mathistown said...

I don't know if I've ever commented before, but I've read your blog for a while. I was in the elementary MAT program, so we have actually met and been Westminsterized together at times (culture! Integration! Best practices!)

I love your blog, not just because I agree with most of what you say, but mostly because it really makes me think. And I think you're brave for blogging (and thinking) in a different way than many of your/our social counterparts.

Loved the Mormon Douchebag post. Keep up the good work! If you're pissing people off, you're probably doing something right.....

mollymuses said...

Still subscribed!

Marisa said...

I heart your blog to pieces. Just remember the old Latin phrase Illegitimi non carborundum. That's my motto!

JustMe said...

How could I unsubscribe? National elections will be coming up soon and I'm hoping to talk you into voting against Obama.

The fun never ends :-)

amy said...

have confidence, child bride. there is a place (however small) for depth and humor in the blog world, and your thoughts are not only your right to have, but also shared by many. plus, i loved that poem!
-- another new blog friend :)

Tristin said...

Excellent choice, ma'am. However, might I suggest some Shel Silverstein if you are really interested in retaining the random masses? Nothing tricks ADD into reading poetry better than a reading from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Xan said...

Two things:

1. AMAZING poem, loved it.
2. I read your Bently-blog in my reader, and then...a few days later my friend emailed it to a list of us with a "HILARIOUS" and "YOU MUST READ NOW!"

So...keep up the good work. :)

geoffsn said...

Don't worry about people unsubscribing, they're likely people who can't handle your sense of humor anyway.

I can only imagine how much traffic you got from that post. My blog has been getting steady traffic from people who read your post, read the comments, clicked on me and glanced briefly at my blog before being bored and leaving.

Stephanie said...


That's funny.

I kinda want people to go away. Look, if you're normal and funny, and can take a joke, even if we disagree, stick around.

If you're a huge ass mofo douchebag, get the hell off my blog.

Wow. Clearly I have feelings.

Mrs. Walker said...

I will never unsubscribe, because I knew you in real life. And now you are Utah blogger famous! I can't let that tangible connection go! Does that make me a Mormon Mommy narcissist? I think that needs to be your next rant. I wish I were still in SLC to chat you up at Relief Society.

Aunt Spicy said...

....Kind of crushing on JP anyway...wait we aren't talking about the Bachlorette anymore? We are talking about Geese? What? Guess I was daydreaming...

Love the poem.

Carley A. T. said...

Curious, if someone read the douchebag post and was offended, doesn't that single them out as douchebags? Like that raywhatever person, I'm pretty sure that's a douchebaggy thing to say. Loved the poem, I'm totally going to use it next year.

Caitlin said...

so I'm a random, but can I stay? :)

I swear, I like your blog.

I'm sorry if I told you I didn't like your blog layout. You're right, it doesn't have to be good. haha. ...sorry, I'll stop.

Stephanie said...

@Caitlin: are you offering to fix it? Bahahaha. Kidding. Sort of.

markii said...

Love the poem. I like the determinism-istic vibe. I think about things like that all the time and it helps me get through my flops also. Subscribed. :)

Sandy said...

i love this poem. i'd never read it before, even though i was a hippie dippy english major in college. it makes me want to subscribe to your blog EVEN HARDER. i hope you keep on walking the tough road of an LDS lady with observant, funny, and sometimes critical things to say.

Angie said...

Oh, MCB--

I too was brought to your blog by all the FB-link-sharing of your Bentley post. Five days later, I have officially read all 418 of your posts. Creepy? Yes. Equally flattering? I hope so.

Your blog has proved several things to me, most important being that it IS possible to write an entertaining blog that includes intelligent thoughts/feelings/notions, even if I don’t agree with all of them. They don’t need to be forums exclusively for insecure bloggers who do nothing but attempt to gain approval for their life choices (i.e., compliment my baby! adore my headband! covet my perfect husband!).

Sensing that we have similar senses of humor, I’m now considering joining the blogosphere—I desperately need some kind of a snark outlet. If only I can get past my crippling, self-sabotaging tendencies.

Summary: you’re wonderful. I kind of want to be you. Or at least have someone like you to sit by in Relief Society.

--Fellow MCB (I got married at 19—yikes. Believe me, I know)

Stephanie said...

@Angie: Do it! I will stalk you.

Kara said...

@Angie ditto! All 418 posts because of the link on FB
@Stephanie you are now ny new hero!

Nookleerman said...


Just kidding. It wasn't a lame poem at all. Lame poems are all "This is a rose. This a petal on the rose. The petal is slowly falling from the rose. You are the petal. Didn't you get that?" - Nookleerman orignal©

Yours was at least comprehensible. Not the least reprehensible. Although I have to say one of your comments was, if not douche-y, at least a little too hipster with the whole "I know latin. What, you want to know what that means? I guess you'll have to go look it up." Cuz that's what I want to do when I'm on the internet. Research.

Of course I guess I kind of did the same thing at the beginning of this post, but that phrase is mainstream enough not to make me a hipster, right?

Nookleerman said...

Okay, I actually looked up the phrase and saw it was a tongue-in-cheek mock latin term and now I'm feeling a little douche-y.

Sharon said...

Oh I LOVE that poem! (I first came across it because one of the engineers at work had it permaposted in his cubicle, later his office - as the house computer geek, I wound up at everybody's desk sooner or later.)

Um. Anyhow. I've been an occasional lurker here for some time, but you pulled me out of the woodwork with this post.

Disappearing again. Best wishes.

Rachel said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog too and really enjoyed the Bentley post. I'm from Toronto, Canada, and have to admit that a lot of the culture everyone was talking about in the comments is completely unfamiliar to me! I loved it!

(p.s. I didn't think anyone still wore those shell necklaces?! also, what's with the home security/alarm sales??)

HollyAnn said...

So, someone I know linked your Mormon Douches post on Facebook - and I'm basically in love with you(r blog) now. I think the idea of you fading back into obscurity is pretty unlikely!

It's rare to find someone else in Mormonville who thinks like a human - I salute you madam!

Lauren said...

I was a reader long before Bentley, and I'll be a reader for a long time after. You seem to have a knack for articulating things that have bothered me for a long time--and in a way that makes me go, "Aha! Yes! That's why it all seemed so strange to me."

Oh, Mormon Child Bride (for that is what I call you), thank you for representing the sane Mormon women in this world.

jackie said...

i got to your blog via the bentley douche post (which was fantastic, the bachelor franchise is a beacon) and then proceeded to read your blog in its entirety. the most productive day of work to date. although i did skip right over the poem because i am part robot, i really appreciate your blog and the things you write about. keep it up!

Stephanie said...


The robot comment cracked me up.

I'm A. said...


Long time reader. This is my first comment. Wanted to tell you that I love your blog and what you have to say. Nice to know I'm not the only one thinking my thoughts. Refreshing to read for a liberal, Mormon girl like me.

I like to pretend I know you because we went to the same High School... you graduated with my sister.

Anyways, wanted you to know I think your blog is awesome, even with the poem.

Also wanted to say, how dare MIM steal Mormon Douchebag. The shame! I think you do, in fact, have a monopoly on the phrase. :)

Cortney said...

I think I came upon your blog a while back- you either commented on C.Jane Run or Feminist Mormon Housewives, or some such site- and I clicked over.

I pop in every now and again and the last time I popped in the Mormon Douchebag post was blowing up. Have fun handling the new found fame. Honestly, I find that the more people read my blog, the more self conscious I get. It's hard not to subtly censor oneself, but I fight against it. I'm sure you will, too.

Ashlee said...

Like most people, I found your blog through the Bentley post. All I can say is, you are friggin hilarious, and I won't be leaving any time soon... Unless you decide to go private, in which case I'm screwed. So please don't do that! :)

It's always nice to see fellow church members who share a more liberal point of view. I married a devout Republican. Let's just say we get into some lively debates from time to time. He loves him some Glenn Beck and Shawn Hannity (Heaven help me). He grew up in a typical Utah home where they vote Republican and ONLY Republican. I'm quite the black sheep in their eyes, but I consider it a compliment :)

Danielle said...

i was new to your blog when someone posted your bentley / MD post on facebook. i was HIGHLY entertained, and recommended it to my friends.

just wanted to tell you that i like the way you write! and the only thing that really offended me was the person explaining what a douche was (um, gross? but i'm pretty immature...), and somehow incorporating mitt romney into it. but whatever.

well done!

Fig said...

I was here before Bentley! But I wasn't subscribed, I was the clicking over type. However, I did just NOW subscribe, and I am subscriber number 666. So, do with that what you will. The devil is either threatened by your particular brand of Mormonism, or you ARE the devil, or I am, or something.

Stephanie said...

@Danielle, seriously? I must have just skimmed that comment. That it sort of gross. But, I decided what the hell, post every random comment.

@Fig I am totally Satan. You have subscribed to SATAN.

Rynell said...

I'm a long-time reader...but then I'm also a hippy-type mormon mom feminist that majored in English and loves Mary Oliver and contemporary poetry in general. I'm also awesome at run-on sentences.

Carry on.

Aurora said...

I'm a reader who showed up for Bentley and I'm staying for the geese. Now I just need to figure out how to 'subscribe'.

I wish more Mormons were 'bad Mormons', if you're one of them.

Shelby Clark said...

Well, I wouldn't classify myself as a troll so I'll go ahead and stay subscribed, if that's okay. :) Also, I find you wonderfully refreshing. Keep on posting! And let the trolls be trolls. :)

Nicole Johnson said...

Steph, can't comment so much on the Bentley thing because frankly I watch very little T.V. and have no idea what you are talking about. I had to get caught up on your blog and started laughing when I read the post about the name "mckenzie." Don't know if your husband told you this or not but I am expecting again (I KNOW NUMBER 4!). This wasn't planned and I totally just fell into the category of typical mormon family, but oh well. Since I am pretty sure it is a girl (since all the others are) we were discussing names and I said, we should probably stick to the pattern because something completely different may feel out of place (yes another typical mormon thing). So we are talking about names for girls we have - Laynee, Madison, London, got it Mckenzie. It fits. Although I think I might like the name Emery right now. It still fits. Since I don't have your flare for blogging, I will stop because I am asleep now too. Have a good day :)

Jamie said...

Love that poem. Thanks for posting it.

The Cotton Floozy said...

I think I want to marry you. Too gay?

The Marauding Angel said...

I, however, take the cynic's view
on the family of things:
being 'in' is declassified;
that an empty world
is one devoid of meaning.
And this meaning drained
by the daily passions
that are fickle and common
(being common to every weakness
-yet men love to embrace)

-Cynic Troll
Come visit my FB and be my friend.
even trolls need friends...

Leslie said...

Thanks for sharing this poem and your perspective. Both are very thought-provoking. :)

Eliza R. Snitch said...

I will stay a fan for time and all eternity, unless you have a baby and post pictures of it wearing stupidly large flowers on its head, in which case I will drop you like a bad habit.

I like people who aren't afraid to drop truthbombs.

Karen Ella said...

No unsubscribing here. But your "poetry" reasoning with the English students made me cackle out loud. Hopefully the trolls WILL go away.

Karen Ella said...


Cackled out loud at the "stupidly large flowers". Seriously. Out loud. In my cubicle.

Rose said...

Garrison Keillor came to my university a couple of months ago and I attended an intimate Q and A session with him, and he recited this poem. It was beautiful. I love it.