Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2012

I've decided to do a Year in Review of my blog posts.  I'm going to choose my favorite post for each month of 2012.  Some months have only one post, and that one is my favorite.

1) January. This is unusually pessimistic of me, but it's so true.  Bullying is a problem, but I think it's approached all wrong.

2) February. I'm not entirely sure who I'm talking about in this, but I was hurt by whoever it was.  Still true.  Not the hurt part.

3) March. I still have a few jobs and this list should still be posted in every place requiring some kind of customer service.

4) April. This is a reflection on a movie I had watched with a friend.  The movie had a much different outcome from what we expected, much more serious.  There's a heavy message, a message of humanity.

5) May. I, seriously, wish men took this advice.  I think it'd be very beneficial to them.  They're always like "What do women want?!  It's so hard to please y'all; you're such mysteries."  But then we, women, tell them and they don't use that advice.  Men!

6) June. I see myself being more and more of the woman who has to put make-up (even if only a little) on to leave the house.  It's crept up on me, but this blog has reminded me to look and love myself.  Just myself, no make-up.

7) July. Lol, this was right before I created an online dating profile.  But, having experienced online dating, I can say that I still have the desire to meet someone serendipitously.  Perhaps 2013 will have something in store?

8) August. What can I say?  He's a gem.

9) September. Gosh, September was a tough month to choose from.  But I settled on TiMER.  It's (another) reflection on a movie.  It's about love and not love, about possibilities and impossibilities.  Today, I'm cool with not having a TiMER.

10) October. This pretty much sums up my online dating experience.  What an adventure.  I think I stopped messing around with online dating soon after that post.  I've since tried to pick it up, but I'm pretty tired of dealing with duds.

11) November. November was another tough month to choose from.  I chose this post, about marriage because I'm forced to think about it on a daily basis.  The more it's in my face, the more I hold the 'marriage' I see up to what the church says about it.  They don't match up.

12) December.  I would have liked to close out the year with something jolly and optimistic, but I can't lie.  December was a tough month.  A lot of sadness was present in the world.  I feel like it was a terrible end to the year; all the bad things that happened seem to be glaringly obvious in the Season that's meant to be full of happiness and hope.  This post was written out of despair and frustration.  I despaired in the senseless deaths that took place not just that day but this year (and every year) in this World.  And I grow more and more frustrated with humanity's response to such terrible events.  These aren't just events, these are reflections of the heart of humanity.  I know, I know, you're not capable of this kind of evil...but you are, we all are.  The fact is, we humans are pretty terrible, we don't even realize how terrible we're being, but the evil's always there.  Sometimes we chose good and sometimes we choose evil.  There's always a choice even when we don't know we're making one.  I'm frustrated with the bickering that always happens after terrible out-pours of humanity's heart.  It's a blame game, it's a shoulda-woulda-coulda's a waste of time.  Don't argue, do.

I'm realizing how long a year is.  Hearing the year in review of music/pop culture/politics/everything, has made me realize how much the World goes through in just 365 days.  I mean A LOT!  Well folks, that's my 2012 in blogs.  I hope you have a splendid, safe, exceptional New Years.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is a Post About Video Games

Yesterday was Christmas, which means people got new games and gaming consoles.  My family is included in this group of people; they got the PS3 and, I guess, some games just come with it.  When I arrived to my family's house yesterday morning, they had already opened their gifts and my 17 year old brother was playing Mortal Kombat on the new console while everyone else was watching.  I'm pretty familiar with Mortal Kombat, it's an old game and I grew up seeing it being played.  I'll be the first to admit that I am terrible at video games, I just don't get them.  All the buttons and the combination for them all to get someone/thing to jump/roll/shoot; it all seems superfluous...and hard.

I'm not really against video games, I just don't like a lot of them.  I'm not a fan of violence, in real life or in the media.  I'm not a fan of objectifying humans (it's usually the women who are objectified).  There's a lot of that, violence and objectification, in a lot of video games.  In Mortal Kombat, different characters fight each other.  The characters, some human and others mutants, have different skills sets and they fight each other in different arenas.  One arena, they're in some kind of hell, with bodies and body parts in puddles of magma and on posts, and Cerberus in the background.  In another gladiator-esque arena there's different dragon in the background (I'm guessing the makers of the game really love dragons) and, get this, just behind the fighters are women on either side, who are tied in bondage between these posts and have VERY skimpy clothing barely covering their large breasts and bottoms.  When the opponent won (the computer beat my brother), another naked woman comes from nowhere, gets on the ground, hugs the winners thigh and makes a borderline sexual sound.  I saw that and nearly had a conniption.  The violence upsets me because I don't condone killing or harming others, even if it's pretend; but the objectification of women, even in the main women who fight, infuriates me!!!  I felt violated and I was/am upset that the males in my life would expose themselves to such blatant violence and mistreatment of women.  I was disgusted, I felt sick to my stomach.

While visiting, a different game was played, a war simulation game.  All I will say about this is: I pray my brothers never have to experience actual war.  I don't understand these games.  War isn't funny, death isn't funny and they certainly aren't why have they been made into a game?

Anyways, I'd rather do pretty much everything else besides play video games.  They're not very fun for me, and I always feel so old, because I can't even figure out how to do simple things like 'Select' or 'Go Back'.  Here's a list of things to do instead of playing video games.

1) Read.  It's the best.  And, similar to the world of video games, there are endless possibilities.  There's something for everyone.  I believe reading makes you smarter.

2) Sleep.  Studies have shown that your brain is more active when sleeping than when watching TV.  Now, I know video games involve more than just your eyes, it involves thumbs as well.  But sleeping still seems like a better option.

3) Volunteering. Let's face it, playing video games isn't helping anyone.  So why not use your time to help build others up?

4)  Exercising.  There are plenty of sports video games, but they're based off actual sports.  Go actually play one.

5)  Creating.  There are numerous ways to be creative and seemingly countless mediums to do so.  Go find something you want to be good at and work on it.

I don't believe that all video games are bad and I know not all call for being sedentary.  But I do believe there are far better things out there and I encourage everyone to go explore them.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Grown-Up Christmas List

Well, it's Christmas Eve's Eve, something I used to get excited about as a child.  Now, I don't really feel any difference.  I figure I might as well put a Christmas list out to the Internets.  So here's my grown-up Christmas list that's pretty impossible.

1) Car.  I already have one, but if someone would just make all the payments/pay the rest up front.  I'll pay the insurance and the maintenance bills

2) An End to Genocide.  It's an SNL sketch; but it's also pretty true.  I'd like for people to stop killing other people, in every way possible.  It's really unacceptable...seriously.

3) Full Time Job.  I would like ONE full time job that I really enjoy and that has full benefits, instead of the multiple jobs that have no benefits that I don't even really like.

4) Benefits.  I'd like to have an insurance company that actually pays for a simple doctor's visit.  I'd like vision and dental as well.  I'd like all of this for a price that I can actually afford.

5) Free Rent.  Just for a year, until next Christmas when I ask for it again.  I'll pay utilities.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

As a Teacher

Today, a man, 20 years old, went into the school in which his mother was a teacher's aide and shot several people.  He shot 27 people, 20 children, six adults (school personnel), and himself.  Meanwhile, in Central China, a 36 year old man stabs 23 people (22 children and one elderly lady).  Initially, I heard about these in bits and pieces and was a little confused.  But I've heard and read about them throughout the day and still don't understand it any better.

I am a teacher; and though I often comment on the lousy bureaucracy of the US educational system and have endless stories of my students' ridiculousness, I love teaching and I love those kids.  I don't have maternal feelings towards them, but I do feel a common humanness and a sense of duty in helping to grow them into wonderful adult humans.  So when someone, anyone, hurts a child, or many children, I am baffled.  I don't understand how a person can purposefully hurt another, especially a child.

School is supposed to be a safe place.  Education is supposed to elevate.  But countless times I see these safe havens and institutions tainted by the troubles of others.  A few days ago, at the school where I teach, a stalker of a substitute teacher threatened to come to campus.  My reaction?  I was angry.  So many of our children face great brokenness in their own homes and they feel safe and nurtured and loved at school, when someone tampers with that, where can they go now?  My kids were scared and confused, and while I showed a calm facade, inside I was seething.  How dare someone come and even whisper danger into the lives of my students!

I realize that people who do such heinous things often have mental health illness or have disorders or disabilities.  I also realize that there's great brokenness in this world that's inescapable.  But this doesn't soften the blow for me.  Because, how do I explain this to my kids?  How do I convince them that it's safe to go to school?  How do I explain that although they're learning to do the right thing, not everyone always will?  How do I distract them, even if only for a moment, from all the terror around them to see the beauty of life?  How do I reason with them that although those kids' (and many others') lives were cut short, life is worth living?  How do I explain that there are people who want to hurt them, but there are people who love them unconditionally?  How do I explain death to them?  How do I teach them to combat the oppressive fear of death/dying/failure, and to approach everything with love and optimism?  How do I teach them to sing Love when Hate yells louder?  How do I teach them that everyone deserves grace and love, even when it's not reciprocated?  How do I teach them to be humans when they are surrounded by the inhumane?

I'm apprehensive about school on Monday because I can't even think about the shooting and stabbing without choking on my tears.  How do I talk about it with my students if someone brings it up?  Do I bring it up?  When I think of today, I get knots in my stomach.  I don't understand, I just don't understand.  I don't know how I can face my students with a hopeful smile and not think of the students, the people, who have been harmed or killed.  I'm grateful it's not them, but I am rattled.  We live in a damaged world, with people who are broken, and at times it seems irreparable.  But we can be the music makers and the dreamers of dreams.  We can change the world.  We can break the cycles of death and dying, sickness and decay, pain and anguish, chaos and confusion.  We can change the world, for the sake of ourselves, for the sake of the children.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fun With Flags

Something that no one knows about me is that I have a fascination with international flags.  I really enjoy learning about the story behind the flags because I think it speaks accurately of the country it represents.  Last week one of my roommates and I were at the mall when we came across a flag store.  I got all excited and asked if we could go in and she humored me and we went in.  The nice man, who, I'm assuming, is the owner of the store, handed me a paper with (I guess) all the flags of the world pictured as well as USA state and historical flags.  Every time I'm getting dressed I check out this paper and admire the flags.   Here's a list of my favorite flags.

1) Marshall Islands.  I know absolutely nothing about this place, these islands.  I had never even heard of them until this paper.  But I think their flag is somewhat reminiscent of Disney Land/World in perhaps the '70's or '80's.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's the orange and white stripes stretching to new possibilities while still honoring the past.  Perhaps it's the pretty star from the song "When You Wish Upon a Star".

2) South Africa.  I actually do know a little of the history of their colorful flag.  Of course all the different colors represent different things, but my favorite thing about their flag is the peace sign.  When you turn the flag upright it makes a peace sign.  This country has fought for peace and unity for so long and they put it in their flag.  Beautiful flag, beautiful message, and beautiful people.

3) Guam.  Guam's just keeping it simple and keeping it real.  They don't like any guess work, they're just straight up.  I'm into that.

4) Isle of Man. What's better than two legs? Three.  These people get that and they want you to know they get it.  So they put it on their flag.  I'm certain this has a fascinating story, but I kinda just like for my imagination to work a little.

5) Kiribati.  Again, another place I have no clue about, but I still like their flag.  I feel like their flag tells a story and that they appreciate the beach with a good sunset.  I dig the wavy lines (I'm assuming those are the ocean/sea), but mostly like the flying bird.  It's a nice touch.

6) Nepal.  Those bunch of rebels.  I am intrigued by their flag, because it doesn't have a traditional rectangular shape.  Perhaps they're conservationalists and figured they shouldn't use up all that fabric if they can make a statement and represent their country with less.  Perhaps that shape has a sacred meaning.  I'm not sure.  But I like it.

7) Gibraltar. I didn't know this place actually existed outside of that prison off of California.  But it does and judging by their flag, they're pretty fancy people.  I mean, they have a palace on their flag.

8) Christmas Island. There is a place in the world where it is Christmas everyday.  A place so majestic has to have an equally majestic flag.  Their flag is a lot to look at, but I like it.  It has a nice color scheme and some meaningful stuff on it.  They should be very proud of their flag, it's quite lovely.

9) Japan and Palau. I put these together because they have the same theme.  They both like to keep it simple, nothing flashy.  This likely means they are secure in their countrydom and don't need to prove it to anyone.  

10) Libya.  Libyans just want to keep the mystery alive.  What's great about Libya?  Come see.  What are they proud of about their country?  Come and see.  What're their natural resources?  Come see.  Well played Libya.  I am intrigued.

11) Turkmenistan. I mostly like this one because of the pretty stripe on the left.  I don't know if the (what I'm calling) designs mean anything, but they certainly are lovely.  The decorative stripe would be a very nice tapestry or table runner.

Well, those are the ones that have intrigued me today.  There are many others that I find to be interesting/attractive, but there's not time enough for that.  These flags represent a people, a country, a history and no matter how different they are, we all have one huge thing in common.  We are all people and we deserve love and respect.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Marriage and the church's handling it: A Retrospective List About a List

A looong time ago, early high school, there was this fad at the church I went to at the time, and probably other churches too, that had the teenage girls (I don't know about the boys) make a list of features they wanted their future husband to have/be.  Of course they didn't want us to just put stuff like "must be super hott".  They wanted us to think of the character of this alleged future husband of ours and they told us that in doing that, God would honor our list.  He would actually give us even better than our  list.  Oh Golly!, even better than our list?  I, of course, made a list.  I was trying to be super deep.  I actually think that was the time in my life when I was convinced that I would get married.  Even more than now, when people are getting married like it's the flu shot.  They told us that while God was making him (future husband) into the man I needed him to be, God was making me into the perfect woman for him.  Nice sentiment, huh?  I'm not entirely sure what the overall objective was for this whole list-preparing-yourself-for-your-future-spouse ordeal was; perhaps to keep us from having sex (that will likely always be the objective, in some underground way), perhaps to focus on our relationship with God, perhaps to grasp the holiness of marriage, perhaps to have us be in constant pursuit of becoming better people (even if only for your future spouse).  I don't know exactly what they were trying to accomplish, but I don't exactly agree with the mentality.

1) Marriage isn't guaranteed.  Getting teenage girls (and boys) all amped up about marriage when there's no guarantee they will actually ever get married seems terrible.  While this is the South, and people get married ridiculously young down here, not everyone gets married.  Having girls focus their hearts so fiercely on marriage seems sadistic.  Yes, you'll likely, more than not, get married, but what if you don't?  Does that mean something's wrong with you?  No, but, to me, it does mean you wasted a heck of a lot of time prepping for something that's not even happening.  I think this 'marriage will happen' mentality will inevitably backfire for anyone who expected to be married by a certain age and then isn't.

2) Purposeful life.  Raising girls to think that their sole purpose on this Earth is to be the best wife ever is wrong.  There's nothing wrong with being a wonderful wife, but that's not all you are.  And you certainly shouldn't glean your value from how good a wife/mother you are.  Our value as human beings rests not in what we do or don't do, not even if we do it well, our value rests in what/who our Creator says we are.  We are His beloved and He sees us as His Bride, His Love.  Being seen as so valuable by the Creator of the Universe is far more impressive than being liked and loved by faulty humans.

3) Useless Prayer.  Prayer's great, like really awesome.  I think nothing's too small/big/major/minor/augmented/diminished/whatever to pray about.  But I do often wonder if God gets annoyed at our prayers.  Something that I was taught was to always be praying for my future husband, praying that he was becoming and being the man of God I want and need for him to be.  That's a nice enough prayer right?  But I was taught to not just drop a prayer in the jar for him occasionally, but to always be praying for him.  Everyday.  To me, that seems a lot like nagging God.  Hey God, you're still molding my husband right?  Is he gonna be as handsome as I like?  Can he play the guitar?  Is it true about opposites attracting?  Have I already met him?  When am I gonna meet him?  Please let him be a vegetarian.  Are you still working on him?  Can it be that guy, he's super hott.  Is he gonna like me?  I mean seriously, already obsessing over this man before having met him seems like a terrible idea.  It's okay to wonder and pray about him/her, but to constantly be bringing it up to God seems like you don't trust God enough to just work.  He's the Creator of Time, He doesn't need constant reminders about your future spouse.  And He certainly doesn't feel pressured to work on your schedule.  Why don't you focus your prayer on Him (God) and how you can be more like Him.  Or, brace yourself, pray about something other than yourself and your life; there are few wars happening right now.

(just to go on record and say that this above prayer isn't at all useless, it's quite beautiful; I just think of this when I think of prayer)

4) Intrinsic Responsibility.  Something that's hard to teach my students is the intrinsic motivation to do the right thing.  They want stickers/points/tickets/candy/rewards (all of which are extrinsic motivators) for doing good things.  Good things like: fixing my chairs at the end of class, letting someone be in front of them in line (this is actually a HUGE deal for all grade levels), finishing their work on time, all stuff they should just do because it's the right thing.  But we want a world of people who do the right thing because it's the right thing.  We want people who practice self control because they know it's healthy for them and others and not because they can get something they want later.  Telling girls/boys to keep pure and live a Jesus filled life BECAUSE you don't want to make your spouse feel cheated (because he's/she's not your first or because you have a less than pristine past) seems a lot like extrinsically guilting them into doing the right thing.  Why don't we try a different approach and let youth experience, freely, the love and life God has for each of us.  It's not like we could ever earn God's love and approval so why should we be busting our butts for beings that matter less than God.  How about teaching youth to stay pure and live a Jesus filled life because that's the way it's meant to be.  Why twist their arm saying they'll be disappointing their future spouse?  They don't even know their future spouse or if said spouse even exists.  I want youth, and everyone, to have an intrinsic responsibility to do the right thing because it's what's best for them and everyone else, because that's how their life is meant to be led.

5) Embracing Youth.  Also, why are we having kids focus so hard on marriage?  Isn't it illegal for kids to get married, or something?  Yes, children grow into adults, adults typically get married.  But if we're doing a good job of modeling wonderful marriages and of raising intrinsically motivated people, then why do we have to have this big even when talking about marriage and family?  Children have so much to worry about just being youth.  They have the ever competitive school, they have have puberty (which takes up a large part of their brain power), they have peer relationships, they have so many things they need to think about.  Let's not preoccupy them with a possible future marriage added to their load.  They have enough responsibilities as youths to think about, why add something very adult to their plate.  Of course what they do in their youth effects their futures, but if they are becoming wonderful human beings (who are compassionate, respectful, communicative, and responsible), then the transition to adulthood, with all it's glory, will not be nearly as bumpy as people anticipate.  Kids shouldn't be worried or preoccupied about adult things, they should simply be becoming.

I really wish the Church did a better a job at growing youth with a healthy view on marriage.  I know there are presumptions about marriage I am dealing with now because of how marriage was handled in the churches I went to as a child.  I know that marriage isn't something I'll truly understand unless I'm married, but that's really all that needs to be said to kids.  Don't try to explain away the holiness of it, just tell the kids it may or may not happen, but you are no more or no less whether it happens to you or not.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I am thankful

Just shy of three weeks I have been in constant pain, all day, every day.  Sometimes the pain is managed through slowing down and taking deep breaths, but as the weeks have progressed, the pain is less manageable and I have had to take large amounts of meds every few hours to be able to function as I normally would.  It's been frustrating and exhausting and confusing, and, at times, debilitating.  I know there are people who have/do face worse pain longer than I have, but this is a very new thing for me.  This week's post, I have decided to reflect on the things I'm thankful for.  For obvious reasons, I hope.  But also because it's easy, at least for me, to let my circumstances and fleeting emotions cloud all the greatness in my life.  Yes, there are always going to be serious, difficult things to overcome or tolerate in life, that's unavoidable, but to let them taint the goodness in life is your choice.  Choose wisely.
Here's what I'm thankful for, in no particular order.

1) Money.  Although I don't like the effect people let it have on them, it is necessary to function in this world.  I have three jobs, none of which I'm super fond of, that enable me to make enough money to live month to month.  I think I'm technically living within the poverty bracket, but I live a comfortable enough life and don't ask for much.

2) Childlessness.  I work with kids a lot.  And the more I teach and care for kids, the more I am grateful that I am not a mother or have any direct responsibility in the 24/7 well being of a small human.  I don't hate kids; I love teaching them and I tolerate nannying them, but the thought of actually raising kids is a recurring nightmare of mine.  I don't have a desire to flex that maternal muscle of mine (if I even have said muscle). Click on this.

3) Residency.  I live in a big house with four other women. The house is a safe place for all of us to discuss sweet & savory topics authentically and freely.  I look forward to going home because I know there's a dear friend who lives across the hall/across the loft/down the stairs from me...and that makes me feel loved and known.  We make each other better.

4) Health.  Yea, I've been feeling pretty crappy the past few weeks, but overall I'm a healthy person.  I'm grateful for all my body can do.

5) Loved Ones.  The last couple of weeks I have felt filled to the brim with love, from receiving and from giving, for people.  Just people in general.  I often feel really hurt by people; I'll take everything personally or feel like I can't speak my mind because I'll hurt someone else.  But I've gotten to spend quality time with friends & family in Greensboro, Winston Salem, Charlotte, Concord and I am thankful for each of their lives.  Not just because they are a part of mine, but because they are making this world a more bearable place to live.  Thanks y'all.

6) Books.  I have always loved reading.  I've been reading since I can remember and it's stayed a huge part of me.  Right now, I'm being intentional about always having a book I'm reading.  I'll read this book when (if) I go to the gym and after the kids I'm babysitting have gone to bed (or are taking a nap).  Reading has been a constant means for me to escape my world and learn about the World.  It's made me better.  Right now, I'm re-reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.  This book, this writing, literally gives me chills by the pages.  Griffin is a sensational writer and his true experiences he recorded have made me hold my breath, laugh, cry, gasp, despair, and every other emotion under the Sun.  The book isn't just about civil rights for Negroes (in the late 1950's), it's about being human, the human condition.  I, essentially, want to quote the entire book to you.  So much goodness.

7) Singleness.  Today, I am content being single.  I'm glad women can not just live, but live well, without having to be married (with kids) first.  I'm glad my worth isn't wrapped up in another human, even if it is a great man.  The longer I'm single, and the more I grow up, the more I'm learning what I'd like and need in a man if I'm to be married to him.  I used to think I needed to have a very specific list of everything I wanted and (thought) I needed in a man.  Then I ditched the list and 'just trusted God to provide the perfect man for me'.  Now, through different experiences, I'm redefining what the 'perfect' man for me looks like.  I know he's just a man and no human will ever be flawless, so I don't expect him to fulfill me 100%, only God can.  Whether I stay single forever or I eventually get married, I always want to live a life full of love and joy.  I basically want to be awesome all the time.

Alrighty folks!  What you thankful for?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 9 Worst Christmas Songs

I'm a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to the Holiday Season.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE CHRISTMAS and get all gooshy when talking about how great of a Savior Jesus is to be coming to this earth as a helpless baby.  I really do love Christmas.  I don't love the Christmas/Holiday 'Spirit'; what is this 'Spirit' and why does it look a lot like a neutered Winter celebration partnered with consumerism?  The true meaning of Christmas isn't family time and giving (that should be year round), the true meaning of Christmas is celebration and adoration of the arrival of the Savior of mankind.

So you might imagine that I dislike Holiday songs.  That is both true and false.  I love Christmas songs rich in the Gospel, telling how God came to His Earth to save His people because He loves us.  Those songs are beautifully written and have such sweet language, they capture the true meaning of Christmas.  Then there are those songs that only come out during the Holiday Season, but really don't have anything to do with actual Christmas.  Some of those songs I don't mind, some make me angry because they're so inappropriate/dumb/shallow/ugly.  Also, please keep in mind I've been in band since I was 10.  In band/orchestra/chorus (and in my music classroom now) we start preparing/rehearsing Holiday music in October.  I kid you not.  So by the time Christmas and Hanukkah (we don't really play any Kwanzaa songs because there aren't really any) actually arrive we've been over the music since mid November.  We've heard and played the songs ad nauseam.

Here is a list of (in my opinion) the worst Christmas/Holiday/Winter Season songs.  These are not all of the worst ones, just some.  In no particular order.

1) Frosty, the Snowman.  I never really cared for the song, I never requested it.  But this year my second and third graders are singing it for the school's Winter Program and, upon typing out the words, I realized what a truly terrible song this is.  It's about this snowman who comes to life and leads this group of kids into town knowing that he's gonna melt and leave the kids alone.  Why aren't the kids' parents stopping them from following a snowman?  Why would said snowman lead kids into the streets of town?  Why would Frosty purposefully go out in the sun, with kids in his care, when he knew he would just melt?  He essentially stole a bunch of kids and then stranded him.  Also he smokes, which makes no sense on several different levels.  People think this song's jolly, it's not.

2) Santa, Baby.  This song captures, perfectly, the consumerism of Christmas.  The song is literally a woman rattling off her Christmas list in a seductive tone to Santa Claus.  Santa is married and you are a grown woman...materialistic home-wrecker.

3) Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  The only redeeming quality of this song is that it helps me remember the names of the reindeer.  But other than that, it encourages kids to only like someone if they do something for you; much like how the reindeer bullied (by exclusion, teasing, and name calling) Rudolph until he did something for them to 'earn' their positive attention.  I don't want kids growing up thinking it's okay to treat others like that.  My advice to Rudolph is to find some truer friends than those eight.

4) Jingle Bells.  This is a song about one of the most annoying instruments that exists in auxiliary percussion.  The song is overplayed and has no meaning.

5) Jingle-Bell Rock.  The third and second graders at my school are learning this song and I've come to realize it's dumb.  The words "jingle-bell(s)" occurs way too often, like two to three times in a two measure phrase.  The song has even less meaning than Jingle Bells and doesn't make any since because no one would write a rock song centered around such an instrument.

6) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  It didn't occur to me until last night that this is a really bad song.  I adore the Jackson 5 version, but I also just adore the Jackson 5.  I never really thought it was that bad because, growing up, I was told my Daddy was Santa Claus.  Like, he turned into Santa on Christmas Eve.  So of course my mom was kissing Santa Claus, she's Mrs. Claus.  But if this song is functioning on the premise that Santa Claus is real, then there are bigger issues at hand.  Santa is a married man and in the song, so is the mom.  There is an affair at hand and the child doesn't realize the severity of this situation.  Heavy stuff for a Holiday song.

7) The Christmas Shoes.  I don't think this is a very popular one, which is a good thing.  It's just such a downer.  It's about a boy whose mom is dying and he wants to buy some shoes for her but doesn't have enough money.  Seriously.  Of you need a good cry, watch this video I found of it.

8) We Wish You a Merry Christmas.  What could possibly be wrong with this song, right?  I didn't realize until last year when my the Kindergartners and First graders sang it for the Holiday Program, that the song is downright rude.  There are different versions, but a very popular version says "Now bring us some figgy pudding (4x) and bring it right here!...We won't go until we get some (4x)..."  The song goes from wishing someone a Merry Christmas to demanding figgy pudding and refusing to leave until they get their way.  In what world do we want people to be so rude?

9) Mr. Snow Rap.  This song is literally only performed by tiny children (my Kindergartners and First Graders) and I know people will think it's super cute, but I hate it.  The 'rap' is simply explaining how to make a snowman.  This is basically what's it's gonna look like at our Winter Program except with over 200 kids rapping this stupid song.

This list is from the bottom of my heart...just like my wishing you a Merry Christmas con prospero año y felicidad.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Trying to be polite here.

I have a lot of opinions about this whole election business.  I don't want to be rude or crass like I feel like we've been treated for the past several months.  So, for now, I'll plug this blog from a friend.  It's about presidency, but it's much lighter than what I'm feeling.

If I were President

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm fairly certain these things are in Heaven

I believe in Heaven and Hell; anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and owns their brokenness is automatically going to Heaven.  What's Heaven like?  Well there are plenty of theories and dreams about what it'll be like, but one won't really know until they arrive.  With that being said, I pretty sure these things will be in Heaven.

1) Falafel.  Let's just be honest, it is delicious.  I will always be 'in the mood' for it.  It is perfect, which is why it can be in Heaven.  Heaven is said to have a big banquet table and falafel is on the menu.  We will get to eat falafel for all eternity.  I am excited.

2) Memory Foam.  I know sleep is unnecessary in Heaven, but I'd like to think it'll be an option.  Or, if some of your friends (including Jesus) wanna have a no-slumber party, they will be the bed of choice to swap jokes in.  Actually, I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and say that the ground, chairs, and stools will be made of memory foam.

3) Frijoles Negros y Arroz.  Black beans and rice are, literally, in the Top 5 of perfect combinations.  Notice that I used the word 'perfect', only good and perfect things are in Heaven, thusly beans and rice are in Heaven.  Sound logic.

4) Musicals & Music.  Of course they will be about how wonderful Gods is, but that's okay because we won't be limited to the Western/Eastern Styles of music; we'll have infinite tones/pitches and infinite instruments and will, of course, have infinite combinations to create.  Music is one of the best things about life.

5) Ethnic Food.  In Heaven, we'll all be able to communicate with each other no matter our earthly background; and since we're coming from different earthly backgrounds we're bringing excellent food to the table (this includes all Morning Star Farms products).  All the food will be purified (and I feel like since there's no death/dying in Heaven it will all be vegetarian, which I'm pretty jazzed about) and only do good for our body.  Please expect me to be table hopping forever.

6) Hula-Hoops.  They're just plain fun.  Heaven's pretty fun.  Just look how much fun they are having.

7) Animals.  More specifically, dogs.  I also expect to encounter a unicorn and a friendly dragon.  All animals, like humans, will be vegetarian because there is no death/dying in Heaven.  It's just not allowed.  All animals will be treated with the utmost respect and will have all the love they could ever want and more.

Alrighty, seven is the perfect number and that's what I have given you: a perfect number of reasons why Heaven is awesome and why you should want to go.  Let's print this list and when we get there compare; I'm certain my list fails in comparison to the Glorious Perfection that is Heaven, but these things would still be pretty great.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The 5 Great Men Who I Don't Want to Date

A few months ago I started online dating out of curiosity and for fun.  Initially, I was getting a lot of messages from men who I weren't (or is it wasn't) interested in.  I'm not very picky, but they were not my type.  The other night, a couple of my roommates and I were talking about online dating and our experiences and preferences; one of them said that she gave up on online dating because the men she's interested in aren't the kind of men who'd sign-up for online dating.  When she said that, I realized that's the same for me!  I've gone on five dates with men who are truly great; I'm just not into them for different reasons.  Again, I want to emphasize that these men aren't terrible and someone, somewhere will be very lucky to have them as a mate.  With that being said, I don't want to be in a relationship with them, and I'm really considering just dropping online dating altogether.  Here's the dish on the guys I went on a date with and the story. (This does not include the guys who I just talked with through phone/the site.)
In order of appearance.

1) The Ambitious-Bossy Man.  This man I wasn't completely sold on based off his picture online.  I just didn't think he was that attractive, but he was/is well spoken and seemed pretty interested so I figured 'why not' (I pretty much figured 'why not' for all these guys).  We very vaguely made plans for a Friday, but then I didn't hear anything about it for a couple of days so figured it was a dud and made other plans.  Then he wants to go out and we make plans.  We met at this place called the Wine Vault...there was no food and there was  INTENSE conversation.  We, essentially, talked about the terrible state of the world; then his cousin came and they started speaking in, what I can only assume was, Swahili.  They're from Kenya.  His cousin joined us and they started speaking in English so I could contribute to the commercial, how considerate.  After his cousin left, we continued to talk and he started sharing about how he really wants to have kids because he thinks he's so awesome that he wants to pass on the awesomeness to his kids as a legacy.  Seriously, that is what he said.  I told him that I believe it's selfish for someone to want to procreate simply because they want to pass-on their (self-perceived) awesomeness, as if they're a gift to the world.  He wanted to know more, but I had to go.  After that date, I was pretty okay with never hearing from him again, he really wants kids and I really don't, but he texted me a little under a week later.  Then he wouldn't text me for like two weeks at a time, so I figured he wasn't interested (what a relief).  I deleted his number from my phone.  Then I would randomly hear from him, every time I'd ask who it was because his number wasn't saved in my phone.  The final time: he texted, I asked who, he told and said that I "really need to save my number in your phone!", I told him I had his number saved then stop hearing from his so I deleted it and that he really needs to learn to speak respectfully and consistently to others and that I wasn't available to hang that night, he apologized for communicating poorly, I told him I wasn't interested in dating/seeing him anymore, he said he thought we were friends from the get-go (which is strange to me).  The next day he texted me, inviting me to this networking event, I declined.  The thing is, he's so ambitious, so fast moving, so meticulous, so controlling, so bossy...I'm not into that.  I understand that he wants to make a big name for himself, but I don't necessarily respect that.  Life's not about making a name for yourself, it's about giving of yourself to make this world better.

2) The Super-Sensitive Man.  The online conversation was him insecurely asking if I was gonna make him fall in love with me and then hurt him by walking out of his life, leaving him with a broken heart.  I tried to keep the conversation light and he asked me out.  He was late for our date; I was in uptown at night by myself, not cool man.  Our original plans were to go to this fun thing called a Silent Disco (a dance where everyone has headphones on listening to the music instead of it blasting through huge speakers) at this popular spot in Uptown Charlotte and then get something to eat.  It rained really hard earlier, so the Disco had been cancelled.  We decided to do something in that same area and ended up going to the trendy bowling alley in the same complex.  I was pretty excited about bowling as we walked in, BUT we didn't bowl, we just sat at the bar (Bar's are on my list of places I would be okay with never going to).  I ordered a rum & coke and he ordered something, I had to remind myself to drink very slowly because I was very hungry.  So we just sat at the bar, yelling in each others' faces because the surrounding were so loud.  We talked about our likes and dislikes, pretty cliché first date things.  My butt went numb, because those bar-stools are uncomfortable, so I went to the bathroom to stretch my legs. The bartender kept asking if I wanted something else to drink and the date would tell him 'no' but would order something else for himself.  Not cool.  After me hinting that I'd like to get up and move around, we finally left.  He wanted to find another bar to hang in, I didn't see the point, so asked that we not go in another bar.  We walked around Uptown Charlotte for a little.  He was way too touchy-feely.  He then walked me to my car and I went home.  After, like, a week he sent me a message through the site, even though he had my number, asking if I was "really interested in getting to know me more."  I didn't know if he meant really=actually or really=very so I answered both by saying 'I don't know you well enough to know whether I'm actually interested in getting to know you, so yea, and I'm not very interested in getting to know him because I don't know him well; that's what dates are for.'  He responded with 'it's a simple question, I just want to know if you want the same things I want out of a relationship.'  'That's the whole reason you go on dates, to learn more about the person, to see if you want the same things they do.'  He responded with something like ' wow, you're good at answering questions' and I just didn't respond.  It seems to me that he was far more invested in the 'relationship' than I was; he was trying to figure out if I was going to be his girlfriend, I was trying to figure out if I ever wanted to be around him again.

3) The Attractive-Lighthearted Man.  He's really good looking, my favorite part of the date was checking him out...and the easiness of our conversation...and that it was a breakfast date (I really love breakfast).  He was really great about consistent communication and funny conversations.  The problem was every time we'd make a date, he'd end up not coming through on it, and he wouldn't even mention it.  I shared how hurt and confused about these unfollowed through dates and he said he was trying not to get hurt and that he did care about me.  This happened a couple more times and I was just through.  I heard from him less and less and unfriended him on Facebook.  Now we don't talk anymore and I 'm kinda okay with that.  I knew from the get go we wouldn't turn into anything, but he's a sweetie and quite handsome.

4) The Sweet Teddybear Man.  This guy is super nice and has a nice smile.  He was very respectful and we had a great time playing arcade games at Dave & Busters.  After games, we went to TGIFridays, I hadn't been there in a while, or ever, so I didn't know what they'd have for a vegetarian to eat.  They didn't have anything for me to eat, so I ordered an appetizer that left my breathe funky.  We had pretty standard first date conversation.  He expressed that he had a cat (and a dog) and I expressed that I hate cats.  After food, he walked me to my car and we hugged.  He texted me afterwards, but it wasn't about anything in particular.  It all just kinda fizzled out.  There wasn't any chemistry and I wasn't attracted to him, although he expressed that he was attracted to me.  It was a good date, nice company, but I felt nothing (no attraction, no desire) from the beginning.  I'm alright with that and I hope he is too.  He's got a great job having to do with helping the community through sports (he works for the Parks & Recreation Dept., and I just had to ask if it was like the show), is very nice, and apparently his father is a retired professional football player;  someone, somewhere will be into that.

5) The Fresh-Sincere Man.  I don't remember who initiated the conversation, me or him, but we spoke for maybe a couple weeks and then he asked me on a date and I agreed.  We went to eat at this sandwich place at the mall by where I live.  I chose that place because I figured there'd be a good variety of vegetarian sandwiches...there wasn't.  We had to scarf down our food because the movie would be starting in just an hour.  They got my order wrong and put black olives (which I find to be gross) in my quesadilla instead of black beans (which I have such a fondness for).  Over dinner we talked a lot (too much) about kids, sharing stories from different experiences in life.  I guess he thought I must love talking about kids since 2/3 of my jobs has everything to do with them, but I don't actually like to talk about them that much, especially not on a date.  Then we went to see the movie Looper, which was exceptional; after the movie, we sat in our seats for a little and chatted about movies.  As we walked towards my car, we just talked about movies and celebrities, nothing too interesting.  We got a couple spaces away from my car and I told him a had a great time (which was a lie) and hoped to see him again soon (another lie, I just didn't want to hurt his feelings) we hugged (he touched my butt, but I wasn't sure if it was on purpose, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt), and I walked towards my car.  He asked when were times I was available and I tried to explain my confusing schedule, then we hugged again (he touched my butt again) and he tried to kiss me on my lips, but I turned and got a kiss on my cheek with his scratchy lips.  He looked disappointed that I didn't let him kiss me.  I got in my car and went home.  The next day he texted me and would ask me a question, I would responded and then he would send me four or so texts in the next minute, I got really irritated at that.  I think, he stopped texting me after that night, and I was glad.  He's a pretty cheerful guy, laughs a lot, and has a real desire to marry, settle down, and I have kids, pretty normal desires.  I don't want those things, though, and he wasn't as attractive in reality as he is in his picture.

Well, there you have it.  Five great men who I don't want.  Ladies, they're up for grabs, have at them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

(Un)Inspired List

Today, I have no inspiration.  Well, it's not just today, it's like the past week or so where I've felt uninspired, sad, depressed, drained, hazy, and all around not good.  It's not any one thing in particular that's causing me to feel these feelings, it's a culmination of several things going on, and not going on, in my life.  I don't even want to write my weekly list post; I have plenty of list posts I'd like to do, but I don't feel like doing any of them, so I'm gonna write a list of things that inspire me/make me smile/happy.  Hopefully, this will cheer me up, but probably not.

1) Puppies. I just really love them.  They are cute and perfect and wonderful.  And I love them.

2) Trader Joe's.  I went grocery shopping today and I really enjoy shopping there.  There are really great things there as well as less great things.  But there's always something new, interesting, and healthy there.  Another perk is the rather attractive, grizzly men there.  Today, there was this handsome ginger man with and hearty beard.  I'd date that.

3) Cake.  I mean, it's cake.

4) Equality.  Social injustice really upsets me.  I just want everyone to be treated with equity.  When I see people being cared for and respected all over the world with no regards to their race/socio-economic status/religion/gender/etc, I'm thrilled and relieved.

5) Good Teaching.  I'm a teacher and some days I'm not awesome at teaching, but some days I'm frickin' beasting it.  I've had a great couple of teaching weeks, it's a good feeling.

6) Good Make-Up Job.  I've been pushing myself to try different make-up techniques and it's a lot of fun.  Some things I'm still working on that are hard for me to perfect, but it's rewarding to finally get the cat-eye I've been butchering for so long.  I'm feeling pretty good about my make-up choices, it's a good way to express myself.

7) Alcohol. I like it.  Not all of it, but most things I've tried, I like.

I'm feeling a little better, but that's likely because I'm eating ice cream.  We'll see if it lasts.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I live close to the Speedway, like I-can-see-and-hear-it-from-my-house close.  I, in no shape or form, like NASCAR.  I literally think it's one of the dumbest things ever created by humans, ever.  Today, I was driving home from getting my oil changed and tires rotated and I take my normal exit, this exit happens to also be the exit you'd take to get to the Speedway, when upon exiting I realize that all the traffic lights are blinking.  No, there were no police officers directing traffic, people were just going on their own accord, all willy-nilly.  I saw several people dodge collisions with other cars driving with no regard for others on the boulevard; I saw people getting irate and honking because they had been waiting for several minutes.  But most of all, and worst of all, I saw police officers weaving through traffic (with their lights on), parking in the medians and NOT GETTING OUT OF THEIR CARS TO DIRECT THE UNMANNED INTERSECTIONS.  WHAT.THE.HELL?  I.HATE.NASCAR.  And this is just scratching the surface as to why.

1) Gas.  People are always complaining, and rightfully so, about how expensive gas is.  But then there are race car drivers who literally use up gas by driving in circles.  What?  Are you serious?

2) History. NASCAR credits it's origin to the Prohibition.  While the Prohibition wasn't a great time in history, the fact that a "sport" started from illegal means is unacceptable.  The government said 'no' to alcohol, that's not alright; so let's trick-out our vehicles to outrun the law enforcement, not the proper response; now let's make this whole racing thing into a big deal, where did decency go?

3) Sport.  Why is this considered a sport?  It doesn't take any athleticism on the drivers behalf, they just have to be able to fit into the window, see, steer, and withstand extreme temperatures.  Most people can do that.

4) Hazardous Speculation.  I am squeamish when I watch football, because these guys are getting hit by other giants all for a ball; but when I'm watching NASCAR (which I try to make sure is never), I'm downright sick to my stomach.  It is so dangerous.  It's not like football, rugby, or lacrosse in which all you have is your body and a stick to cause others bodily harm for sport, no!, in NASCAR you have an entire car!  People have died from this so called sport.  No sport is worth that.  On top of that, people watch this event, on purpose with pleasure.  It all seems twisted to me.

5) People.  I know wonderful people who enjoy watching racing, but those aren't the people I end up dealing with during racing seasons.  Earlier this year, May, when a race was finished and people were leaving, people came in my neighborhood (it was around 11-12 at night), driving recklessly, honking, and yelling out their windows.  I guess their favorite guy had won and they wanted to alert the locals, as if we cared.  This time of year brings in a lot of tourists, they're coming in for the races and they don't know (or choose to use) the proper decorum for this city.  They drive like maniacs who have no clue where they're going no matter how many signs are up; they walk drunk in the streets; and they, all around, lower the standard of living for the residence of this and surrounding cities.  If you are a NASCAR fan, don't make of a fool of yourself, stay classy.

I dislike NASCAR.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

So I have these feelings about...Fall

It used to be I dreaded the coming of Fall.  Now, I dread it less.  I'll admit there are things I enjoy about Fall; but, overall I have mixed feelings about it.  Here's what's going on inside my heart in regards to Fall:

1) Pumpkin.  And I always have.  When fall is near, everyone starts, suddenly, announcing what the heck they're drinking.  Were you not hydrating during the rest of the year?  People always are like: "curling up reading a great novel with a pumpkin spice latte."  I literally don't care.  Suddenly, everything has to have pumpkin in it.  Pumpkin is gross, slimy, stringy, and nasty.  Literally the smell of it makes me nauseous.  If Fall means pumpkin, then I don't like it.

2) Day Light Saving Time.  Hallelujah!  That's Fall's biggest redeeming quality.  I am not a morning person, so getting an 'extra hour' of sleep is a luxurious treat.  I'm a much more pleasant person.

3) Weather.  I prefer warmer weather.  But it is nice to not get sunburned and sweat stains from checking the mail.  But I'm such a sissy in cold weather; the temperatures that we're having now are ideal.  I'm okay with beginning Fall weather, in the 70's and 80's.

4) Fashion.  I've really come to like Fall/Winter fashion.  And I really like that people start to cover up; ladies, I realize our bodies are beautiful creations, but I don't want to see yours.  Sweaters, colorful tights, boots, leggings, scarves.  I dig.

5) Plant Life.  I just feel so badly for the trees.  They're these excellent greens and then they change to all these lovely, vibrant colors...then the leaves fall off.  How sad.  I wouldn't mind if the leaves stayed on the trees and then just changed back to green when the weather grew warmer.  Already, this week, I had students dodging leaves because they were fearful of what would happen if they were touched by them.  Everything starts to die. How sad.

6) Food.  I'm not into Thanksgiving food, with the exception of mac'n'cheese and dinner rolls, but I do like that people start making chilis and soups.  Last year, I made chili for the first time and I'm looking forward to trying different recipes this year.  I'm not sure why, but people tend to make more wholesome food during the colder months and like to share it; I am so happy to try the vegetarian ones.

7) Television.  There are some good shows that come back on in the Fall.

8) Wind.  I don't mind it, but it gets really cold and takes my breathe away, then I don't like it.

9) Decoration.  I'm not a fan of Fall decorations.  They always involve straw/hay, orange, brown, red, and yellow.  There's always pumpkins and other nasty gourds involved; suddenly, people start putting pumpkins on their front porch and call it decoration.  People have dumb Halloween decorations all September and all October.  Turkeys, which are ugly, dumb creatures, become ironic celebrities and kids transform their hands into these poor, ugly, dumb creatures and call it art.  Scarecrows become famous, as if crows aren't a problem during the rest of the year.  People start using "Fall scented" candles, which essentially means cinnamon and pumpkin, so my nose feels constantly harassed.  It really just feels out of control to me.  Like everyone has lost their tasteful mind and has embraced tackiness.

10) Winter.  Winter makes me so sad, and kinda S.A.D.  All Fall, as the season progresses, I'm trying to brace myself for the terribleness that's Winter.  This kinda ruins Fall for me, because I know it's just getting ready for Winter and I really don't like Winter.

11) My Skin.  My skin does not like cold weather.  It get dry and peels, no matter what I try.  I've already started seeing some peeling.  Gross.

12) Holidays.  I don't care about Halloween; Thanksgiving is just okay, but mostly stressful.  I do like the Jewish holidays, but I don't celebrate them any longer.  People go all out for the first two holidays, and I just don't care, so I have to hear all about their plans for costumes and pumpkin food...and I don't want to.

13) Christmas Music.  I am a Music Teacher, this means I have to start teaching and rehearsing Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa music in October.  So while everyone is enjoying the Fall season, I've got a mental soundtrack of politically correct, Jesus neutered, Holiday Music.  Not my favorite thing ever.  Then, when the time actually comes for Christmas Carols and other festivities, my stomach turns at the thought of singing about commercial Christmas again.  I like the Jesus rich stuff, but if I have to sing Jingle Bells again, I'll turn into a Scrooge.

14) Beards.  No Shave November is my favorite.  I'm so glad men feel inspired to let their face-mane grow.  I'm not just glad, I'm grateful.

15) Scary Movies.  I don't like scary movies, not even a little bit.  Scary movies start getting released in Fall, for Halloween, I guess.  It's really terrible.

So there you have it!  My mixed feelings about Autumn.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The 'F' Word

One of my roommates and I were discussing something and disagreed about the issue; I then tweeted "Woke up in a feminist state of mind."  A different roommate asked me about the tweet and asked if I was angry; I shared, briefly, and expressed how I wasn't angry, just a feminist.

If you haven't figured it out by now, the 'F' word is FEMINISM.

Ever since I first heard that word, feminism, I've avoided it.  I never wanted to be associated with that word.  It has all sorts of negative connotations attached to it.  I didn't want to be associated with the feminists who, apparently, burn their bras (which, from my understanding, only happened once and people never shut-up about it)...I don't mind wearing bras, so why would I ruin one?  I didn't want to be thought of as someone who just walks around angry, with a chip on their shoulder.  I shave my legs and armpits and I'm not ugly; so I must not be a feminist.  I grew up hearing all these stereotypes about what a feminist is and I didn't want a part of that, I didn't want to be labeled as 'one of those feminists'.

But, hang on!  Feminism is the advocacy for women's rights to be equal to that of men.  Why wouldn't I be all about that?  I believe that every person, no matter gender/religion/race/nationality/age/intelligence/socio-economic status/etc, deserves equal treatment BECAUSE WE'RE ALL PEOPLE.

Feminism isn't bad; but, just like the religious bigots who deface their (and others') religion, people can deface and twist the meaning and mission of feminism.  People are always ruining great things, like it's their job.  How annoying.

(This is 2012, our society and world have come a long way.  Huge daily strides are being made in places like South Africa (where the abolition of apartheid is under 20 years old) to ensure equality for all people.  When I was there, I was always hearing about what the government was doing to improve the standard of living for all people, not just the white minority.  But even though we're better off now (in some respects) than we were before, there is still social injustice.  In a time where I can communicate with my best friend in Chile with the press of button or introduce my students to 'pen pals' in Malawi to exchange music and become little ethnomusicologists, the world can seem kinda small.  It's easy for us to become so wrapped up in our worlds, that we forget to breathe and look up at all that's going on.  I don't just mean watching the news to see what's happening around the world.  I mean doing something about it.)

There are a lot of different groups to focus on, in terms of equity; women happens to be one of them.  So, yes, I am a feminist;  but, really, I'm more than that.  I'm a 'humanist' in the sense I am concerned with the interests and welfare of human beings.  I love people and I want everyone to live a life saturated with love and fulfillment.  We're all people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

So, basically, my life should be a reality show.

I live in a house with four other women.  I know what you're thinking, that sounds hazardous and ridiculous...well, it's not.  The women I live with are sensational and unique, and I am amongst them.  I am so blessed to be a part of each of their lives, they make my life better and I hope I do the same for them.

Alright, enough of the mushy stuff.  We have AMAZING times together; like, really funny times, or really productive times, or really serious get it, we have lots of times.  Sometimes we joke about how we should have a reality show because we're so excellent; so here's the case for our reality show:

1) Looks.  We're all exceedingly attractive.  People like looking at aesthetically pleasing people, that we all are.  We all look very different so variety is a plus.

2) Magazines>>> Conversations.  We have a lot of them.  They provide endless hilarious conversations.  Conversations about: men, fashion, copy machines (that actually wasn't a magazine inspired conversation, but it was still riveting), sex, media, politics, ourselves, life plans, anything and everything.  We're all intelligent so the conversations are actually substantial.

3) Occupations.  Grad school, Marketing Director, Music Teacher, Translator/Interpreter, and Toddler Teacher.  I'd say that's a pretty diverse array of occupations.  Since we're all doing different things, viewers would see different parts of society.  It's not just that we have different perspectives on life because of being different people, we have different perspectives on life because we each have different occupations.  I see things, often, as a teacher, that effects my world view.  It encourages diversity.

4) Role Models.  We're not perfect, but we do all strive to be great.  We take responsibility for ourselves, each other, and others we love and care about.  None of us are into the party scene, harming ourselves with drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol, or sleeping around.  We're pretty good people, by people's standards, who always try to do the right thing.  I think our show would demonstrate how to be a person, a woman, of high esteem.  We all want different things from life and that's okay.

5) Our House.  We live in a pretty spectacular house.  It has LOTS of rooms (we each have our own room), but we always end up together in our living room downstairs.  We take pride in this building and keep it clean and decorate it (mostly just one of us decorates it, but we're all in agreement that we're alright with that).  Our house warrants a lot of opportunities for hosting different types of get togethers.  We love get togethers.

6) Community.  A couple guys were at our house Monday watching a football game with one of my roommates who LOVES the Green Bay Packers.  At some point we were talking about a little about music and I asked if that singer was the same as the one who sings that *ugh* song.  My roommate responds with a 'no' and the two guys were confused.  We have our own language, our own code, and many times it only takes one word to offset this whole codified language.  It's splendid.

Well, producers, I think I've made case for our show.  Come at me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The 9 Things Children Should Know Upon Entering Kindergarten

It's been about four weeks since the beginning of the school year.  I teach grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and see a lot of different functioning children (high functioning to low functioning) throughout each grade level.  The single most frustrating grade to teach is Kindergarten, they don't know anything.  It's normal for them to not know anything; for the most part, many of them have never been in a school setting.  I guess Pre-Kindergarten and More-At-Four and Head Start aren't required?  They should be.  Anyway, at school we come across a lot of kindergartners who are helpless; not only is that inconvenient  to us who teach them, it's dangerous for the students as well.  Here's a list of things I (and others) believe Kindergartners should come to their first day of school knowing.  Please and Thank you.

1) Their Full Name.  I know what you're thinking, of course they know their name.  WRONG!  Many kids only know what their parent's call them (Princess, Sweetie, LoLo), which may or may not be their 'legal' names.  So on their first day, when we're trying to figure out who they are and where they belong, it's almost impossible.  "What is your name?" "..." "Que es su nombre?" "...". What are we supposed to do with that?  Kids should come knowing their First Middle Last Names, and should be able to say them separately.  If I ask for their last name, they should be able to say JUST their last name(s).  BONUS: If they can write at least their first (or middle) name.

2) Their Parents'/Legal Guradians' Names.  In the event that we need to know their caregiver's name, they need to be able to say more than 'Mom' or 'Dad' or 'Auntie'.  What happen's if they get lost in Wal-Mart and the security guard is trying to page their parents?  What is the security guard supposed to say over the intercom? "Mom, Dad please come to the front of Wal-Mart!"

3) How to make a line.  Yes, a line.  You probably don't remember learning how to form a line with others, but you did and you're a better person for it.  Walking Kindergartners, in a line, from one place to another is like herding cats.  You'll lose some, have to stop every few feet to regroup and be extra grateful for your ending destination because it was so trying getting there.

4) How to dress themselves.  Again, you might be thinking that surely they know how to dress themselves.  While most do pretty well, there are the few that don't; I have onE student who's shirt is ALWAYS backwards.  That's not a big deal, but the kid who wets himself and doesn't know how to change his own clothes is a big deal.  Kindergarten classes are around 20 students big, having kids who can't put their jacket on, or who don't know how to tie their shoes (which is a big problem not just in kindergarten) slows the process for everything down.

5) Potty Trained.  Yep, you guessed it.  There are some kids who are still learning how to work their urinary tract.  There's a kindergartner (thankfully in a class I don't teach) who pees on himself everyday.  And...what for it...doesn't know how to change his clothes by himself; so he walks out everyday naked hold his wet clothes asking for help.  Lawsuit.  I'm not talking about bed wetting, that's not a problem since napping has been taken out of the Kindergarten curriculum and has been swapped for testing and college preparation.  Kindergartners are notorious for being surprised when they have to pee; they haven't yet realized their body sends signals far before it is an 'emergency' and they have to go at that instant.

6) Their Alphabet & Numbers.  Notice I didn't say the ABC song.  There's a difference between singing a song and actually being able to identify each letter of the alphabet visually and maybe a little aurally.  The latter is what is desirable.  As far as numbers go, being able to visually and aurally identify them and counting is pretty much a good idea.  BONUS: If they can actually read, spell, and do math.

7) Contact Information.  They need to know their parents' numbers and their address.  There's no reason to not know it.  It's a matter of safety.

8) How to Sit.  I know they're young so their attention span is like that of a goldfish, but they still have to sit.  Some kids are always sitting on top of each other, some kids I have to continually move their legs for them because they don't know how to sit criss-cross-applesauce ('indian style' for my politically incorrect generation).  They must not sit at home, because they look at you like you're a crazy person when you ask them to sit still.

9) Their Left and Right.  In the US, most everything is right oriented: we drive on the right side of the road, we write from right to left, most people are right handed, and we WALK ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HALLWAY.  It's difficult to tell kids to walk on the right side of the hallway when they don't know what 'right' means.  It doesn't take much time to incorporate it into everyday jargon, so, parents, please do it.

Well, look!  Only nine things for them to learn, not even ten.  If/when you have kids, please teach them this stuff.  It'll make their educational experience better and will make us teachers happier.