Giggle and Drown
The ordinary in our lives passes unnoticed. It is the quiet thrum that accompanies our days, the long and flowing river out of which stories—of the morning, of our lives–arise. What happens, though, when the events around us are made to feel ordinary when in actuality they are not. Using her experience as a military dependent growing up in the Late Cold War, surrounded by nuclear missiles, fast attack subs, and soldiers humping weapons along the side of the road, Jennifer Sinor unveils the idea of ordinary trauma—events that pass as ordinary but really work to disrupt or harm. These moments build over time, accumulating into a narrative of loss that has no apparent origin. However, in defining ordinary trauma and making the invisible visible, Jennifer demonstrates not only how healing occurs but how the ordinary can be equally wondrous when we pay attention. Her talk follows the arc from trauma to joy as it happened in both her writing and in her life.
In fourth grade, Jennifer chose to sell her own poetry for the class assignment on market economics. She experienced zero success, while her classmate hawking rock candy couldn’t keep the coins inside his pocket. Undeterred by this early lesson in the arts and solvency, Jennifer became a writer who told stories for a living. She is the author of a memoir, Ordinary Trauma, and a collection of lyric essays, Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe, and now encourages others to pursue their hearts. Jennifer lives with her husband, poet Michael Sowder, and her two sons at the foot of the Bear River Range in northern Utah. A professor of English, she teaches the joy that comes from a well-rendered line to students at Utah State University.