Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


[I apparently wrote this in February but didn't click publish for some unknown reason.  I'm thinking maybe I'd had intentions of attaching a picture from when I was 24 and then got busy.  Oh well, here's the post...]

I don't read everything that people post on Facebook.  Most of the time, if it is any sort of a tag-post, I skip it entirely.  But I love to read the age posts.  I think it is so interesting to hear people reflect on a year gone by, and comment on it using their present-day goggles.  And since I enjoy it, I liked a tag-post, and now here I am, using the good old blog to complete my tag because, well, I can write more here, and it's slightly more private.

So here it goes.  


My initial thoughts are that I have no initial thoughts.  What was I doing at 24, exactly?  Quick math equation: 1981 + 24 = 2005.  Okay, that helps.  So 24 would have gone from September of '05 to September of '06... hmm... still nothing.

Here's a few things I wasn't doing (because I had just finished doing them):
  • Having a baby (Adam)
  • Getting my bachelor's degree
  • Settling into our new house
Oh!  Finally!  I just thought of something actually pivotal that happened when I was 24(ish).  I quit my job so I could be a stay-at-home mom.  And then I couldn't pay the bills, so I started working part time teaching music at Challenger.  Both of those decisions (to put being with my babies as a priority & to use my talents to make up the difference) led me to where I am at right now with a great part-time teaching job that lets me be mom in the mornings and Mrs. Fife in the afternoons.

It is highly possible that this was the school year that my sister Lisa lived with us.  (Though that may also have been 25...)  If so, that was a pretty awesome time and helped Lisa and Adam forge a still-strong bond.  

What I mostly remember about 24ish is that I was a laid-back sort of happy.  The kind of laid-back that only comes when you get to focus all of your motherly attention on just one little person.  The kind that comes when you can make your daily decisions for the good of mom, dad, and baby, without having to balance so many needs and wants into the equation.  The kind that comes from learning how to make a home.

But it must not have been that great, since I really can't remember it!  :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Wanna Gnu

We all experience that embarrassing moment, singing along loudly to the radio when suddenly the person you're with crumbles in a fit of giggles.

"What?" you implore. When your friend finally returns to a state of forced decorum, you are informed that the lyrics to "The Lazy Song" do not, in fact, include "Oh my gosh, Mr. Grey" at any point.  And it dawns on you that, "Oh my gosh, this is great!" makes so much more sense.

Okay, that one probably only happened to me.  But stuff like that happens to Kirk all the time.  I wish I had kept a 12 year log of all the lyrics he's messed up.  But "Let me see those hands" ("Let me see those Hanes" -- Ke$ha) comes quickly to mind.

Still, none of the ones I have heard firsthand can even hold a candle to his recent true confession.

Imagine elementary school Kirk, adorably geeky with a side-part in his hair.  (Okay, picture Adam with a side-part...) Two of his playmates are being teased in classic grade-school fashion:

Billy and Suzie
Sitting in a tree
K-I-S-S- silent 'g'

Please take a moment to laugh hysterically at Kirk's expense.  Maybe even go mock him on his Facebook wall.  But be sure to come back, because this last story takes the cake.

An acquaintance recently recounted the story of a phone call to a woman named Jucinda.  In the course of the call, he remarked that she had an interesting name.  She explained, "My parents were huge Elvis fans, and when my mom heard that new Elvis song, she just had to name me Jucinda."

What Elvis song?!  

She continued, "You know... Return Jucinda?"

Return Jucinda
Address unknown
No such number
No such zone

And just in case I haven't ruined enough songs for you, please enjoy a couple of Fife Family favorites:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let's All Be Right

It doesn't make any sense to me.  But neither does eating mushrooms, running marathons, birthing children naturally, or arguing with friends and neighbors over a word.

The way I personally see it, God created plugs and outlets, and it's pretty obvious the way He intended for them to be used.  But that's me, and I also believe:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.  (11th Article of Faith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
To me, that says that I believe that if you believe in a God that is totally fine with plugs being with plugs and outlets being with outlets, good for you!  And I genuinely hope it makes you happy!

Along those lines, I'm fine sharing the term "marriage" with anybody who wants to use it.  But I get why a lot of people aren't.  I completely support the idea of equality for all, and I get why a lot of people consider the fight over marriage a fight for equality.

But I think there is something fundamentally broken in the argument.  As it stands, one group will win at the expense of the other group, who will lose.  And that's not good enough for me.  In order for anyone to truly come out of the debates and legislature as victorious, I think we need a marriage of the equal rights group (ERG) and the traditional values camp (TVC).

And like with any good wedding, it'll take a lot to pull it off.

Something Old:
Okay, ERG, I am going to ask you to give something up here.  Let the TVC have the word "marriage."  That's what most of them want.  According to their system of beliefs, the Bible set a definition in stone way before the constitution was written, and they are not particularly interested in a new definition.   Many of the TVC aren't particularly bugged by the idea of you cohabiting, getting medical benefits, even raising children.  They're just being a bit territorial about a word that has some seriously emotional ties for them.  Be the bigger party and let them have their word.

Something New:
If the ERG is going to give up "marriage," then there has to be something new in its place.  Something brand new that is for everyone.  A contract recognized by the government that grants the rights and protections of marriage without the religious and emotional connotations.  Let religion have marriage, and let's let government have something legal.  Separation of church and state, right?  It could be as simple as sticking with the already recognized terminology, "Civil Union," or we could come up with something totally new.  But rather than trying to change the definition of an existing word which will always carry with it it's alternate meanings, why not create a brand new term and define it exactly the way we really mean it.

Something Borrowed:
Your turn, TVC.  If you get to keep "marriage," you're going to have to budge on a few other words.  Can you agree to share terms like "husband" and "wife" with committed members of the ERG?  These words carry so much positive connotation and history, and they can certainly expand a bit to include any civilly joined pair.

Something Blue:
I can't represent myself with the popular equality square, because I think it represents ideas I can't support:

  • There is one right side in this debate.
  • People who defend traditional marriage are against equality.
  • Acceptance can solve this issue.
Of course I support equality.  Duh.  Honestly, who doesn't?  But I also support the rights of people to believe what they believe, and I can see no way of changing "marriage" that doesn't strip a huge population of their rights to define a very personal word with a longstanding tradition as they see fit.  So instead of the red equality symbol prevalent on Facebook, I'm going to change my profile picture to a new symbol.  One that means acceptance on both sides.  One that means compromise. One that means "Let's All Be Right."  

I know I'm oversimplifying.  And I'm not saying my solution is the answer.  I'm just saying there has to be a better way.  Because everyone being equal isn't enough for me.  I want everyone to get to be "right."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Presidential Physical Fitness

I truly cannot remember a time in my life when I worked harder to earn something than the Presidential Physical Fitness award I earned in 8th grade.  Actually, I worked hard at it every year, running the mile every chance I got, trying to cross the finish line seconds ahead of the requirement.  Even the "shuttle" run was challenge for me; I was just never a runner.

But in 8th grade, I had the unfortunate misadventure of pinning my right knee between the floor and an upright piano, and somehow that had a negative effect on my ability to train for the mile.

The time came when I could run again, but I was abysmally behind the required time of 7:59.  I worked during recess and P.E., but it wasn't enough.  So my 4th grade sister Lisa became my personal trainer, running with me, timing me, and cheering me on as I neared my goal.  Finally, I clocked a time of 7:35 - the fastest I have ever run a mile in my life.

I cannot think of a single other life achievement toward which I have ever directed more focus and effort.  Consequently, I can think of few achievements that felt as good. 

And it isn't only this big moment I look back on fondly.  I remember similar elation two years in a row when I happened to pass off my mile on the same Friday I'd be sleeping over at my best friend Rosie's house in preparation for Draper's Easter egg hunt.  I remember serving as the personal trainer for the less flexible, leading group stretching exercises on the field just prior to the v-sit or sit-and-reach.  I remember cheering on the boys who had to do seemingly impossible amounts of chin ups.  I remember Mrs. Casdorph (aka Mom) motivating students to try one more time to pass the shuttle run, pairing us with students who had already passed it off but were willing to run alongside us.

In my recent how-to-teach-P.E. class at University of Phoenix, several students brought up "that Presidential fitness program" and mentioned its obstacles (most schools don't even have chin up bars anymore).  Curious to see the list of things I used to be able to do, I clicked around the website and happened across some disturbing information: this 2012/2013 school year is the last year in which the program will be achievement based. 

An excerpt about the new Presidential Youth Fitness Program:

Awards That Reward Good Health
Because only modest amounts of exercise are needed to obtain health benefits, most students who participate in regular physical activity will achieve scores that will place them in the Healthy Fitness Zone®—and earn them the chance to get recognized. Students need to reach the Health Fitness Zone® in at least five out of six categories to earn the Presidential Youth Fitness Award. We offer lots of great ways to recognize their efforts.

Beginning in 2013, students who participate will earn their award based on, well, participation.  Yet another chance for everybody to earn the gold star.  Yet another chance for us to make excuses for out-of-shape children.  But no longer a chance for a kid to feel the self-respect that is earned by doing hard things.

I am really sad.  Fundamentally sad.  And kind of worried.  What a harsh world our kids will find themselves in when they graduate to a system where rewards are based on achievement.  What fragile confidence they will have when they no longer earn pats on the back for showing up.  What a disservice we do when we take away their ability to earn.

One of my best childhood memories is of a moment when I worked hard to earn something that was important to me.  I wonder what memory will fill that void in the lives of my children.

[I acknowledge that I have completely neglected to mention the negative aspects of the old program or the positive aspects of the new program.  This is nothing more than opinion piece about one key aspect as it related specifically to my life.  I would love to hear your comments and conflicting points of view!]

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guess what?! Guess what?! Guess what?!

For the full affect, you'll have to imagine me jumping up and down in my bedroom as I finally received an email I had been checking obsessively for all day.

"Hello Andrea!
You and another student have been selected as student speakers for our 2013 commencement."

Not just any commencement, by the way, but my commencement.  The one where I will receive the Master of Arts in Education degree I have worked so hard to earn.  And since I still have a cumulative 4.0 in the program and I get to speak at graduation, I have decided to crown myself valedictorian. 

Okay, okay... it's not an honor University of Phoenix is actually bestowing upon me (they don't do valedictorian), but it is just kind of fun to reward my personal dedication with the idea that standing up in front of everyone means I earned something colossal.

But now I am just letting my ego get away from me.  In reality, I am incredibly honored that the speech I submitted was interesting enough to get me a live audition, and that the six-person panel liked me enough to offer me the opportunity.

And that I get to have a bio in the commencement program.  How cool is that?!  But I am kind of at loss of what to put in a "real people" bio.  I doubt they'd appreciate if I submit my most recent theater bio...

I've decided to wait until May 4th (graduation) to "unveil" my speech here on the blog.  My plan is to set it to post at about the same time I will be delivering it live.  But I'm gonna give the bio a test run:

Andrea Fife is honored to add Master of Arts in Education to a Bachelors of Science in Marketing degree.  Andrea's primary occupations include teaching music to elementary students at Navigator Pointe Academy and raising her three young sons.  She also enjoys being the program coordinator for the Empress Youth Theatre program in Magna, directing the mainstage productions at the Salt Lake Dickens Festival, and writing regularly for the Utah Theatre Bloggers Association.  Andrea hopes that her classmates, friends, and her immediate and extended family know how much she appreciates the support and time they have given to help her attain this goal.