Unseen Worlds: Interview with Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell

By Terresa Wellborn

It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell. She is an LDS Haitian-American poet, painter, and short story writer. She is as brilliant as she is charming. Her latest book is the memoir, Unseen Worlds: Adventures at the Crossroads of Vodou Spirits and Latter-Day Saints (Calumet Editions, 2018). It is an intriguing story …

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Confessions of a Seminary Sluffer

By Terresa Wellborn

5:30AM is never easy. I wait until the last possible moment then slip into a t-shirt, jeans, Nikes. Then I wake up my 14-year-old. Her alarm hasn’t gone off. Again. I nudge her. She gives me the sleepy evil eye and turns her back. I persist, “We have 10 minutes til go time. Let’s do …

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Whitney Finalists: General Fiction Round-up

By Shelah Miner

The General fiction category for the Whitney Awards has always been one that seems to spark a lot of controversy. Sometimes, the category seems dominated by inspirational, feel-good stories that might sell a lot of copies but night not be well-respected by fans of literary fiction. Some years, audiences and publishers raise the outcry– “But how could <<Insert book name here>> not be a finalist? It was far and away the best book of the year!” This year, the pendulum seems to have swung away from the inspirational novels, and toward, well, death. Protagonists in four of the five novels have recently been uncoupled, and in the fifth, an aunt’s death starts the action of the story in motion. And with that common thread running through the stories, I know you’re just dying to dive in, right?

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The Worst Visiting Teacher in the World

By Shelah Miner

fillmorespencerDear Segullah,

As a Visiting Teacher, I’ve had my ups and downs. I got started off on the wrong foot during my freshman year of college, when I was assigned to visit the Relief Society president’s roommate, who was a new convert. If I didn’t make an appointment the first week of the month, the Relief Society president would come by my room to remind me. And because I can be passive aggressive (and because the RS president had a crush on my boyfriend), I started keeping the door closed, and my roommate and I would hide under our desks and pretend we weren’t home whenever we heard her forceful and distinctive knocking (yes, the hiding under the desks was entirely gratuitous because you couldn’t see through the door, but we were eighteen, and it was funny). Anyway, the real loser was the new convert, because my passive aggressiveness won out and she didn’t get the blessing of being graced with my presence once a month, and I suppose me, because I’ve always struggled with visiting teaching.

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The Privilege of Being a Mormon Woman

By Marintha Miles

This post is mistitled. It should read The Privilege of Being a Middle Class (American-Mormon) Married Woman. I admit that up front.

We marry. We have a baby. We breastfeed them and change diapers. We potty train them and squish play dough. Then we walk them to school, and drive them to lessons. We usually have more than one baby. And the routine is more or less the same. Soon the last baby is no longer potty training or squishing play dough. And we walk him or her to school. And then we have, time.  It’s like air at the top of an hourglass, gradually increasing, letting us breath deeper and deeper as time runs out with our children. The time creeping up on us, the time that is ours.

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Failure Academy

By Annie Waddoups

“Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”  Samuel Beckett

In the early summer of 1991 we thought we had the world by the tail.  My husband had just finished his first year of law school and had been accepted to study international law for the summer in London.  Hooray! I’m no fool; I quit my job to spend the summer as his “kept woman” in a top-story room in a long-term hotel in Pimlico.  We pushed the twin beds together, made simple dinners on the room’s hot plate, and shared the bathroom down the hall with the other two rooms on our floor.   We had enough to spend about $10 a day but we were in London, in love, and in luck.

Greg had studied hard all year, treating his law school gig as a full-time job and then some.  Everything hinged on the high stakes, end-of-the-year exams—all of that work boiled down to one set of tests, which would in turn determine internships, Law Review placements, and (it felt like) the future.

In July my mom phoned with the results. We huddled with the public pay phone on the stair landing as she read off the grades.  Torts, good.  Criminal, good. “What about contracts?” He was particularly fond of that course and had worked especially hard.


“What? A+?!!”

No. When she repeated the grade, he was silent, stunned.  A grade in the basement of grades was what he got.

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Well, I really want to be married.

This Up Close: LIVING SINGLE post comes from the energetic and entertaining, Sheryl. She grew up in Virginia and currently teaches school outside Washington, DC.sherylg

So when I was first asked to write this post, I thought to myself, “Seriously? I’m being asked to write a post about being single? I’m only 26! I guess I’m the next Sheri Dew. Better yet, since my name is Sheryl, I’d be the next Sheryl Dew.” But in reality, I do have an opinion about being a single, black female as a Latter-day Saint Christian, and I don’t mind sharing it.

Living just outside of the Nation’s capital where everyone is so concentrated on verbalizing their resume and playing the asking game of, “Who do you know?” and “What are you doing here in DC?” before asking your name, it can be a challenge to remember the more important principles of God’s eternal plan for His children. However, I do think about one of those principles often and that one is, eternal marriage. I openly tell people I want to be married. Sometimes I get the response of, “Don’t think about it and continue on with your life.” I sometimes want to scream back and say, “It’s not like I’ve been waiting around and not doing anything with my life! If you’d like my resume, I am a BYU graduate and a former collegiate athlete. I served a mission. I returned honorably and worked at the MTC. I’ve worked three years for the Especially For Youth program both as a counselor and a building counselor. I currently teach just outside of DC through the Teach for America program where I’m doing my best to alleviate the achievement gap. and I’m almost finished getting my masters!” (Out of breath) Instead, I usually respond, “Well, I really want to be married.”

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A Baby

Today’s Up Close on this months’ topic, Adoption, comes to us from Jeannette. She is a mother to boy/girl twins and has been happily married for 10 years to her best friend. She loves to read, play sports, spend time outside, play games with her family and spend time online. She lives in the Northwest.

I was eighteen when what I swore would never happen to me, happened. I was pregnant. You know there is something wrong when you are taking a pregnancy test by yourself in a McDonald’s bathroom, and yet there I was. I should have been a few years older doing this in my own home with a loving husband right there, waiting with me. The test was glaringly positive but I felt disbelief followed quickly by shock, surprise and fear. I had just graduated high school a few months earlier and there was no way I was ready to be a Mom. Not to mention the fact that I had left my boyfriend in Texas two days before.

I don’t know why I was that surprised, I mean, I had been sexually active since I was 15. But I had done the responsible thing and had gone to Planned Parenthood by myself to get the Pill. I guess the surprise was coming in because I was getting ready to turn over a new leaf. While in Texas with my boyfriend, it had finally hit me: I was miserable! I wasn’t active in the church, I was living with a guy I didn’t love, I was in Texas while all of my family that I loved was back in Wyoming. I was so far, literally and figuratively, from what I knew to be right and from what my parents had taught me. So I left him and came home, just in time to move with my family to a different state, and to find out I was pregnant.

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Let me tell you about the birds & the bees…

By Leslie Graff

donotI started my lecture that Thursday morning by polling the students in the upper division family science course I was teaching at BYU.

“How many of you had ‘the talk’ with your parents?”
25% of my students in my raised their hands.

“How many had homes where sexuality was discussed openly and on repeated occasions?”
Again 25% of my class raised their hands.

“How many of you never had any discussions with your parents about intimacy and sexuality?” 50% of my class raised their hands.

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