Thursday, December 4, 2014

They Don't Care About Us

The situations in Ferguson and New York are starting to feel bigger than usual, like the beginnings another Civil Rights Movement. Maybe that is what the Black Community needs a movement

It feels like we're second class citizens. 

It feels like we'll never be treated fairly.  

It feels like we shall not overcome

It. feels. like....

"They Don't Care About Us"

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody's gone mad

All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us

Beat me, hate me
You can never break me
Will me, thrill me
You can never kill me
Jew me, sue me
Everybody do me
Kick me, kike me
Don't you black or white me

All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us

Tell me what has become of my life
I have a wife and two children who love me
I am the victim of police brutality, now
I'm tired of bein' the victim of hate
You're rapin' me off my pride
Oh, for God's sake
I look to heaven to fulfill its prophecy...
Set me free

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Trepidation, speculation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Black male, black mail
Throw your brother in jail

All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I'm tired of bein' the victim of shame
They're throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can't believe this is the land from which I came
You know I really do hate to say it
The government don't wanna see
But if Roosevelt was livin'
He wouldn't let this be, no, no

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, speculation
Everybody litigation
Beat me, bash me
You can never trash me
Hit me, kick me
You can never get me
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
Some things in life they just don't wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin'
He wouldn't let this be, no, no

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, segregation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Kick me, kike me
Don't you wrong or right me

All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us

All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don't really care about
All I wanna say is that
they don't really care about
All I wanna say is that

They don't really care about us

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Lives Matter

I'm so frustrated/angry/disappointed/upset/hurt over the grand jury's decision not the indict the police officer that killed Micheal Brown. I know there are so many variables but conducting a trial should be minimum. I can't even talk about it anymore without crying. I feel so defeated. 

The truth is... it is hard being Black in this country. Things are not equal. I wonder what can I do to improve stereotypes? I teach my students (90% are Black and 5% are Latino) how to conduct themselves but who is going to teach Caucasians about racial stereotypes? Where do we go from here?

Next Steps???

One of the things that made the bus boycotts of the 1960s so successful was it was a unified "pronged" attack. If we unite WE SHALL OVERCOME. If we hit them in their pocketbooks WE SHALL OVERCOME. If we vote and get involved in politics WE SHALL OVERCOME.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Teacher Fights Student- Who is to Blame?

Recently there was a video recording of a teacher attacking a student. Many people are on the student's side and they may be right but....the teacher deserves a little consideration 

This video shows the whole thing (forgive the guy editing it he put the first part on repeat) The student is seen cursing at the teacher and sliding a chair in her direction. Cut to the hallway, the teacher is clearly on the phone talking to someone (probably administration) about the student. The student then throws a book at the teacher. The teacher reacts and starts trying to fight the student.

Pause: I have a problem the the campus monitor. When the student was first escorted from the classroom she should have never been allowed to return to get her belongings. Thus never having the opportunity to attack the teacher. Then after the first round is over he leaves the student to retrieve her thing and of course the second round of fighting begins. He should have never left the student unescorted. 

Teachers are human beings. We're not perfect. We deal with attitudes, threats, and verbal abuse from students sometimes on a daily basis. We have good days and bad days. I'm not trying to justify what the teacher did. The teacher in the video is an adult; she should have handled the situation better. She shouldn't have let the student get to her. However, I do understand how easy it is to lose control. 

I've been cussed out by students a few times. I've had a student threaten to "cut" me. When I kicked her out of class the Dean at my old school allowed her to come back to my class 30 minutes later...I guess threatening a teacher is no big deal. (In the Dean's defense he said he didn't read the referral until later and eventually suspended the student). 

The one time I almost lost my cool with a student was not my best day teaching. I don't exactly remember what she said but I remember it being ridiculously degrading and disrespectful. She was cursing me out in front of the whole class. I lost my patience. I was seconds away from calling her a bitch and forcibly removing her from my classroom.  I was that mad. I counted to 10 (literally) and got a campus monitor to take her out of my class.

Sometimes parents don't believe the mean hateful things that their children say to us. I had a parent tell me "My child would never say that." I bet you they did! The family of the student in the video basically excused the girl's behavior. That is part of the problem. 

In the teacher's lounge we often talk about how students don't have any respect for adults (namely us) anymore. I would have never talked to teachers the way students talk to us. Students don't understand why their behavior or way of talking is wrong.  

I try to spend time teaching my students how to talk and interact with others but honestly I don't feel that duty should fall to me. What happened to big mama telling her grandchild that if you want to interrupt adults talking you say "excuse me" and wait to be acknowledged? Why isn't dad teaching his son to say please and thank you? Teaching children manners goes hand-in-hand with teaching them what to do when they are upset and how to handle difficult situations (like dealing with a difficult teacher). 

The family unit is not doing it's job and this generation is suffering. We need to do better. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Up Peeps?

I know I've been MIA for a little bit

My bad

I've been busy.....doing....

Working Way Too Hard

School started 9 weeks ago. I've been subbing for a teacher on maternity leave. I've been doing everything she would normally do (even though I'm not paid to do that). Now  the regular teacher is back and I have to give up her classes. I didn't think I would be so attached but I love her students. I'm invested. It's going to be hard to step back. I'm back to subbing for whomever is in need. 

Discovering that I should get certified to teach English.
 I am certified to teach History and I love it but I've discovered that History teachers NEVER retire. History teachers are the most unemployed of all teachers. (Why didn't someone tell me this before??) Last year I long-termed subbed in a ELA class and now I just finished subbing for a ELA class. Teaching English is fun and I'm damn good at it.

Studying to certify to teach English
I'm taking my test tomorrow. I've blogged about my anxiety and now I'm wishing for anti-anxiety meds. Meanwhile, I'm trying all my techniques to try to relax. Wish me luck.

Cutting my hair
For the first time ever I've cut my hair super short. I have a TWA (teenie-weenie afro). I've been playing around with the idea for awhile. I wanted to take off my relaxed ends but I was scared of having short, completely natural hair. What do I do with it? Actually I still don't know. I've been watching a bunch of YouTube videos (what did we ever do before YouTube?) hoping to replicate some hair styles.

Writing two blog posts
...but never actually posting them. I know, I know.  You'll see them soon. (see I didn't completely abandon you).

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Time I Catfished Someone

I was watching a recent episode of Catfish and laughing at the how silly these people are having a relationship with someone they haven't met. Then I remembered how I catfished someone...

Way back when AOL was new and it was the only way to connect to the internet; my teen-aged self use to troll around in chat rooms.

One day this guy read my profile (AOL was really the original Facebook) and asked me about a quote that was featured on it. The quote was anti-police and he said he was a police officer. He wondered why someone would openly hate the police.

We began to chat. I wasn't as anti-police as the quote made me seem. Typical online conversations at the time always started with a/s/l (Age, sex and location). I started the crafting my online persona then. I made my age older than I was. My location was close to where I lived but not exactly (actually that was just a safety measure).

I'm not sure why I told him I looked like someone else. I wasn't trying to get over on him. I wasn't even interested in a relationship or friendship. The internet allows you to be anonymous. I could be be anyone I wanted. Being the extremely creative person that I am I was able to craft my perfect online persona and feed my imagination. 

It was fun, exciting and a way to escape. The thing I feel most guilty about is I used a picture of an acquaintance of mine. These were the days of shitty digital cameras (I think I had to take a picture of a picture) so the picture he received was blurry. It is wrong to steal someone's picture. 

We talked for awhile (close to a year). We didn't have a romantic relationship but there was titillating conversation. I can easily see how people can get wrapped up in it. There is that anticipation of logging on hoping to "see" the person online. Feeling like you have a friend to talk to. It is easy to feel a sense of intimacy behind a computer screen. 

Obviously if this took place in 2014 I think the conversation and results would have been different. It truly embarrassing that I had the nerve to do something like this. I'm glad he didn't take me seriously. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Real Bodies Taking Over the Internet

Recently Buzzfeed posted this article about plus size women posting "gorgeous pictures of their real bodies with the #fakini hashtag." I absolutely loved the pictures of women. I thought it was empowering and incredibly brave.

I felt proud of these women.

Then I read the comments. The comments were disappointing, negative and mean.

Real Comments:
"Fat is fat. Obese is obese. Stop with the crap." 
"Stop trying to make people believe obesity is beautiful. These women are not even fat.. they have morbid obesity. I am obese and working to lose weight, i do not want to get diabetes, I do not want to die young of a heart condition and I want to feel better about myself. You accomplish that by eating better and exercising, not trying to make people believe it is ok to be this big"
         "Surely having a massive gut is unhealthy.."
"The issue I take with this is that, quite clearly, most of these women are obese if not morbidly obese. To willingly call them 'curvy' is a way of masking their poor health choices behind a fantasy of body confidence for all. Obesity shouldn't be a lifestyle choice, and there is nothing clever or empowering about passing on the message that women can be proud of being dangerously unhealthy because other people happen to be slim. They are not the antithesis of being slim. There are comments on here that women can be sexy no matter what their weight and I agree wholeheartedly, but at what point do we call out obesity for its complete lack of sex appeal? Is there really anything sexy about an early death, diabetes and heart disease?"

What people don't understand is it takes confidence to wear a bikini (skinny or not). It takes extra confidence to wear one as someone who does not look like what everyone else considers "normal."  On top of that, to take a picture of yourself in said bikini and post it to social media is brave!  
Photo: GabiFresh/Instagram

I don't think the article and pictures were encouraging obesity. I think they were about being confident and challenging societal norms. Society says it is not okay for women over a certain clothing size to wear a bikini (or even swimsuits).  People want "larger sized women" to cover up.  The truth is....we shame plus sized people. 

However, there seems to be a counter-culture body positive movement going on via bloggers, YouTube, and sites like Pinterest and Tumblr.  And there's nothing wrong with that. 

These women know that they are not an ideal weight. Some are working on losing weight. These pictures are not about unhealthy vs. healthy. They really are about acceptance and not being ashamed.  

If you are able to accept where you are in life then you can begin to change it. 

The other big argument in the comments section was the use of the term "real women." Some people feel that using this term for plus size women is throwing shade against skinny women. Every women is a real woman but by using that phrase, plus sized women are acknowledging that many women are over a size 10 (and considered plus sized), that most women are larger than the models we see in magazines and that plus sized is real sized. 

Once again it is about empowerment.  

How do you feel about the article and/or comments in the article?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The New Gig

After a year of unemployment (and "on call" employment) I'm finally employed FULL-TIME!!! I'm so excited. 

I really wanted to work at this school. I was a substitute there. I love the teachers and the school culture. I was "all in" but after two interviews and a demonstration lesson, I was turned down for the position. I was extremely disappointed. 


6 weeks later, I received a email from the school principal personally offering me a different position. I am now a full-time substitute. I'm at the school everyday and filling in as needed or like right now I'll be in one class for a few months because a teacher is on maternity leave.

While I don't have my own classroom I am at the same great school with those amazing teachers. It is a step in the door. It is a way to feel grounded in one place. 

It is humbling to be turned down for a teaching position and still show up and accept a lesser position. People keep asking me why I'm not a "regular" teacher since I obviously have experience. I have to explain the whole situation. 

I'm hoping that the powers that be see my strength, commitment, and willingness to improve. I'm putting in work this school year. I'm also going to beef up my portfolio; meaning I am going to get certified to teach another subject. I'm working on my classroom management techniques. I will also take every professional development chance I can get. 

Next year there will not be any question about if I am good enough. They'll know. 

Being unemployed has been extremely hard for me but I think I needed this struggle. I needed a shake up in my life. I spent too long living a fearful life and settling for the easy way. I needed to put my trust in God and let him lead my life. 

My husband says, "God's thoughts are not our thoughts. In times like these he is teaching us to trust him. We have to trust HIS process. God always has more for us than what we can see. He knows our needs and wants." 

You can't have a testimony without a test. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why is Fifty Shades of Grey a Movie?

I can't believe I'm talking about Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) again but with the new trailer for the movie--everyone  is in a tizzy.

I find that people fall into two camps; you either hate the book or love the book. I actually like the book but I recognize it faults. The writing is terrible. I mean absolutely terrible. The references to the inner goddess and looks through lashes are eye rolling. The multiple times the main character "bit her lip" was annoying at best.

If you could forgive the writing there is a fantastic love story. Which is the true center of the story.  Yes, there is sex and  very mild BDSM. Anyone who is a frequent reader of these types of books know that this is barely a tiptoe  in the BDSM world. 

Some people argue that this book sets a bad example for young people because of the controlling nature of the main character. 

When have we stopped letting fantasy be fantasy? I read a ton of erotica books and I have seen this particular type of story done better (The Fixed Trilogy, The Crossfire Series for example) but still abide by the formula. How many young billionaires are there? According to this books, these men are easy to come by. Part of what makes the book enjoyable is that is it unrealistic. As much as I love Harry Potter, I know I'm not going to wake up with an invitation to Hogwarts. 

I don't want to make light of controlling men because it is a serious situation. Being in a controlling relationship with an asshole is not okay. EVER.  However, that argument does not have a place in these books. Books allow us to escape, fantasize and dream. These books typically don't feature negative relationships. They have a formula, including seemingly controlling men, that many women find appealing. I do understand that many women don't agree. I would say these books are not for you. 

I love that this book exposed a very popular but underground genre of books. Making it acceptable for women to want to read these books and stop hiding it. Seriously, more woman read these types of books than you think. I do hope that women who are in love with FSOG will read (better) books and expose themselves to something new and exciting. 

I am completely opposed to making FSOG a movie. I'm opposed to making any erotica or pseudo erotica a movie. How can you translate the passion, the sex and overall fantasy in the book into the big screen??? There is a reason books are so much better than movies. 

The Trailer:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Married at First Sight

I was watching this new show Married at First Sight and while at first I thought it was sounded like some crazy reality show but I was surprised that it was actually sincere. 

The show has four specialists (a sexologist, spiritualist, psychologist and a sociologist) who use scientific data to pick the perfect couple. They create three perfect couples who don't meet until they are getting married. The couples agree to get married and live for five weeks together. After the weeks they have to decide to remain together or separate. 

So of course the "extreme" part is that they don't meet before they get married. The interesting part is that the couples really want to get married. They seem like they are taking the situation seriously. They want to meet the love of their lives. 

Of course they seem like that on the Bachelor and we know how that works out. But for now I believe them. The romantic in me is cheering for these couples but the realistic in me says they are not all going to make it. They may be completely compatible on paper but that doesn't always measure up in real life. Plus how long does it take to fall in love? They have five weeks to fall in love and decided if they are going to stay together. 

The first episode walks the viewers up to wedding day. The first couple Jaime and Doug are the first couple we see get married (or do they). As Jaime starts to walk down the aisle she is disheartened to not feel attracted to Doug. She starts to have second thoughts and the episodes ends. I was mad at her because she kept saying how "personality" is more important than looks but then focused on how he looked. He seems like a great guy. I hope she gives him a chance. 

The Black couple Monet and Vaughn seem like they would be a good fit because they have the same values. Before they coupled him up I told my husband he seems like an asshole. He is so uptight and set in his ways. It was easy to see why he is single. And yet I'm still cheering for them (YES Black love). 

Here's the thing I don't think this concept is that crazy. These specialists spent a lot of time with the participants. The participants had to fill out extensive personality test. It is like having the perfect matchmaker. The specialists could probably pick out a better match then your friends. 

I will be following this show all season. I'm interested to find out if the couples will have sex on their wedding night (they are married). How will they get along with their new families? Will they fall in love? Will they stay together? I'm intrigued. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Birthday Blues

My birthday was this week and normally I would be ecstatic. I love birthdays. This year I was unhappy. It wasn't about getting older; it was about that a whole year has passed and I'm still in the same position I was in last year. Yes, I was able to move back to my favorite state but I'm facing yet another summer without a full-time teaching position. 

This situation is my worse nightmare. One of my biggest concerns when I thought about teaching was the uncertainty of receiving a contract year after year. I finished this school year as a long-term substitute. I knew that school was not going to offer me a job but was so sure its sister school wanted me. 

After two rounds of interviews and a demonstration lesson I was not selected. Not only was my ego bruised but all that time I spent wooing them-wasted. Also I'm still a substitute there, how am I going to show my face in the fall? Speaking of faces they knew they didn't pick me but spent the last couple of days of school smiling in my face instead of just telling me. I had to wait two weeks after they said they would let me know to receive the rejection email. 

On my birthday I received another rejection letter. It was from my second choice school. 

Let me stop here and explain something. I've only been turned down from one job before this. I only applied to one college (and got in). I'm not use to this amount of rejection. It's demoralizing. 
I take birthday cakes seriously!!

Basically I spent my birthday feeling shitty about myself until my husband gave me a pep talk and a huge slice of lemon cake. Then my best friend called and gave me the best uplifting speech. I'm usually the strong one in our relationship but it was so nice to have her support and love when I most needed it. 

I realized those jobs were not for me and my job is coming but damn does it suck to be unemployed again. (Actually, I have two substitute positions but I'm on call. It is extremely rare for a school to need a sub for summer school). I am in a better position than I was last year. I have my teaching license for California. I just need someone to realize how awesome I am and how much I want to make a difference in the lives of young people.

I was just lecturing my students about faith. It is a classic case of I need to practice what I teach. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Much is too Much to Share on Social Media

Remember how I wrote that I wanted a designer puppy? Well I got one and I didn't have to purchase it through a puppy mill. My husband's coworker was moving and she couldn't take her four(!) dogs with her. She gave all the dogs away to a good home. I picked up one of her Chihuahuas. He is so adorable and sweet. His temperament is not like a feisty little dog but more like a sweet old man. 

I posted a couple of pictures to Facebook to show him off and left it at that. It got me to thinking about how much of our lives that we live online. I love social media. I love that we can connect to people instantaneously. When I was living in DC I kept in touch with all my friends through Myspace and then Facebook (FB) and now that I live in California FB keeps me connected to my DC friends. 

I try not to over share on social media (with the exception of this blog because that is what it is for). I wonder what I will be like when I have a child. I've read a bunch of those BuzzFeed lists about the top annoying infractions people commit on Facebook.  One of those is having your profile picture being your child and posting updates that are all about Junior. 

I never want to be that person who posts endless pictures and updates about their child or anything really. (Although I think having a kid-centered blog filled with pictures would be awesome for Grandparents and others who would be interested). Two of my friends recently gave birth and between the two of them I've only seen four (maybe five) pictures. I would not mind seeing more pictures. 

I think it is hard to find a happy medium. How do you balance wanting to show off your kid while not annoying your childless friends? I'm not sure there is a happy medium. People are going to be annoyed no matter what. 

Outside of the child issue how do you not being annoying on FB? I know my friends must be annoyed when I have a social event with my Sorority. There ends up being a ton of tagged photos of me 

Overall it is hard to annoy me on social media because that is what it is there for; sharing our lives with each other. Sure some of it is superficial but it is also fun and interesting. What people don't realize is that they have a choice. I don't have a ton of friends on FB because I didn't just want to be friends with some random person I barely talked to in high school. I wanted my friends who I care about and who care about me. 

So give your friends a break for posting endless pictures of their baby or a ton of group shots from their Sorority event. Give them a break for posting status updates about how much they are not sleeping. If it bothers you so much block or unfriend them.

Of course I had to picture of the dog: Here is Tre

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Confessions from your Child's Teacher

 To parents/guardian's as the school year winds down I (the teacher) have a few confessions: 

* Your child lies: Yes, your child. Your sweet angel. LIES!! They lie to you, they lie to me, they lie to their friends. They will say anything to stay out of trouble and look cool 

*Your child is manipulative: Yes, your child.... I had student tell him mom that I hit him. The real story is I tapped him on the head with a flat sheet of paper (one sheet). I had a grandparent who refused to believe her grandson would cuss. Yes, he does know those words! 

* I don't grade everything they hand in: Teachers have a extraordinary amount of things to grade. So much that we take grading home (all the time).  We'll even turn down a social events to grade papers. There isn't enough time to grade everything you scholar hands in. Sorry! 

* I don't like to call you (just as much as you hate receiving that call): But the school requires that I keep you informed and I need to document it. 

*I will tell you ANYTHING if you try to talk to me at 3:00 pm on a Friday before a three-day weekend: seriously you're the only thing keeping from three glorious student-free days. 

*Your child tells ALL your business- and I mean ALL: You should probably talk to your child about keeping certain information "in-house." I know about your sex life, how much money you make, if you and your significant other are fighting. 

*I have favorites: Yes, I have favorite students for various reasons; they remind me of me; they try really hard; they are sweet. 

*School is hard and your kids have more distractions: Yes, it is harder than when you went to school and you already know they have WAY more distractions (hello Instagram). Be strict and keep you standards high.

*Summer "vacation" is needed: I dislike it when people say I get paid to do nothing all summer. Well, I already earned that money. Most school districts withhold at least 20% from each paycheck since August to which is paid back to us during summer. I have mentioned that we always take work home. ALWAYS. That time is "unpaid."  Also, some school districts require professional development during summer. This could mean taking classes and/or going to conferences. 

Of course it is not going to stop me from bragging! 11 more days until school is out! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Book Challenge

I am avid reader. Both of my parents are avid readers. I spent hours on end at the library growing up. My mom was getting her degree and I was fostering a love of reading and learning.

 Lately I realized that I don't read as much as I use to. It is mostly because of grad school and life things. So during my season of unemployment I decided I would cheer myself up by going to the library and reading. I almost forgot how fun reading is. I almost forgot how it can be an escape from reality. Reading reminds me of how much I enjoy stories and how I can get absorbed and invested in good storytelling. Reading makes me a better writer. 

I decided I would challenge myself to read 50 books this year. I've never challenged myself to read a certain amount of books before and thought it would be fun. I have been on getting suggestions, monitoring and reviewing the books that I read and want to read. I'm obsessed with this app/website. I wish more of my friends would participate. 

There are many types of book challenges. My favorite suggestions are the ABC challenge (you read a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet), African-American authors challenge, and Classics challenge. There are a ridiculous amount of different challenges. I decided that in addition to my typical mysteries and erotica stories, I would read stories I've always wanted to read but never got around to doing it. Some of these books are newer, some are more culturally skewed, some are what my students are reading, and some I'm just interested in. This list is not my full list and I'm continuously adding to it. I am happy to take suggestions. I'm already 32 books into my challenge. 

The List: 

* 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup (Currently Reading)

* For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide /When The Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (Currently Reading)

* Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class by Lawrence Otis Graham

* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

* The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

* A Song of Fire and Ice [Game of Thrones] by George R.R. Martin

* The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

* The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (finished in April)

* Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (finished in April)

* The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander Smith (finished in April)

* Divergent By Veronica Roth (finished in May) 

Also, another favorite app of mine is my library app. I can check out books via my Ipad! I'm happy libraries are embracing new technology. I love that I can check out books anytime and start reading them immediately. Don't get me wrong, I love having the actual book in my hands; nothing beats that.  However, I do like reading on my Ipad when I'm reading books that I'd rather not have the cover show. I read somewhere that people were offended by women reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the metro (the cover is not offensive. I think they were offended by what they think the novel is about).  If the person knew the stuff I was reading (when I took metro) s/he would seriously be offended. 

The Ipad comes in handy when I'm staying up late reading and my husband is sleeping. It reminds me of the days of hiding a flashlight under the covers. Yup I was that kind of child. The best thing about reading on a ereader is being able to click on words and automatically getting the definition. Sometimes when I am reading a traditional book, I forget that I can't click on words. I've had to stop myself from pressing on the pages a couple of times. 

I hope you all challenge yourself to read one more book than you did last year. I could go on and on about how our children (my students) are horrible readers and how they suffer for it academically and personally (for life) but I won't. Please instill a love for reading and learning in your children. It pays off. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TV Should Reflect EVERY Aspect of Us

With the popularity of ABC's Scandal and BET's Being Mary Jane with has been a lot of talk about by the negative images these women portray. In both shows the main female African-American [AA] characters are sleeping with married men.

Each time I hear people argue about if we should and how we could watch these particular shows that make Black woman look negative I feel torn. While I agree that AA women need more positive images on TV, I also think that semi-realistic portrayals have a place as well.

For every Claire Huxtable there should be a Olivia Pope. Black women are extremely varied and TV should reflect that. However, I will admit that I hate seeing how black woman are portrayed on "reality shows" like Real Housewives of Atlanta or Bad Girls Club. The buffoonery is ridiculous over-the-top and embarrassing, but it is also expected.  The truth is, I am more offended when Black women are shown in a negative light on unexpected shows like Project Runway or The Apprentice. 

I was recently watching American Dream Builders where designers compete to fix and design houses for families. One of the competitors, the only AA , was shown as rude, confrontational, annoying and catty. It irked me because I wanted to cheer for her because she looks like me. I was upset that on yet another reality show where we are completing with Caucasian counterparts our lone representative confirmed every negative stereotype about AA women. There was a whole episode that seemed to focus on her being mean and disrespectful with another cast member. While others (read: not Black) on the show had confrontations it was not shown to the level as the AA contestant. I call it the Omarosa effect. It makes for juicy television but it makes us look terrible. 

Now to address the cheating issue.  I've seen a bunch of meme's saying something about how can we cheer for a "side chick" like Mary Jane but we get mad when our men stray. Or that by watching these shows, we are feeding into the media portrayals that all AA women are whores and cheaters. My argument is that these shows are entertainment. I watch because I like a good story. That doesn't mean I support cheating, will cheat, encourage others to cheat or anything of the sort. By saying that by supporting these shows is an endorsement to cheat or have "side chicks" is like saying watching Dexter is an endorsement of murderers. It's not a valid argument. 

The crux of this problem is the lack of AA people in important decision making positions. People dislike Tyler Perry but he has the right idea. If we control all aspects of the television industry, we can control our own images. This is why I appreciate the YouTube community so much. YouTube channels such as Black and Sexy TV create fantastic content representing all aspects of AA life. Honestly their shows should be on cable TV. They are that good. They have a deal in the works with HBO I hope it doesn't water down their content but I plan on supporting. 

Overall, I am seeing better representation of AA's in film and television. We just need to remember to continue to support them with our views and money. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

So You Are Bringing Your Boy/Girl Friend Home

You and your significant other (SO) decided that you're at the point where you get to meet each other's parents. It is such a big step and sometimes it is not easy to pull off so I am giving you some do's and don't of bringing your boo home. 

Do: Prepare your parents.
Don’t: Just drop in on them announcing your new boo 
You don't have to give them the whole rundown of your relationship but give them a little background about him/her. Obviously you're serious enough about this person to take this step. Show them that you're serious by 

Do: Prepare your significant other.  Give him/her information about who s/he is meeting.
Don't: Make him/her nervous. 
My mom is a little intimidating. I didn't tell my husband that before they met because that would have made him more nervous. It is important for you SO to know that your mom has a different last name from you (because your SO should first address your 'rents as Mr. and Mrs LastName until otherwise directed by them). Give your boo tips, does your dad love talking about food? Did you mom just win an award at work? 

I don’t suggest you attempt the first meeting over dinner. Breaking bread with people is intimate and some people have weird food issues. But if you insist on dinner...

Do: Go to a restaurant- a restaurant that you frequent often. You want your SO to feel comfortable as possible and if they have those weird food issues they know this menu well.  Bonus points if your SO picks up the tab.
Don’t: Go over your mom’s house for Sunday dinner. It’s awkward going to someone’s house for the first time and then there is the food issues thing. If you have strong family tradition it could make someone feel like an outsider. 
Bonus Don't: Get drunk or let your SO get drunk. Whatever you do refrain from getting tipsy, lit, toasted or whatever. Nerves and alcohol are a very bad combination. Bad things happen. 

Do: Think outside the box for a first meeting
Don't: Go to a sporting event if your family is ride or die for their team.
Something really cool (and casual) for a first meeting is an trying an activity like miniature golf, bowling, AAA baseball game, carnival, or a museum. Somewhere where the pressure isn't so focused on getting-to-know each other. This is especially helpful if your family like to "grill" your suitors. 

Do: Let the conversation happen naturally
Don't: "Mom did you know that _____ graduated from your alma mater." 
Forced conversations are terrible. If the conversation is not flowing naturally, you do the talking and casually try to bring others in the conversation. 

Do: Pick a regular day to bring your SO home
Don't: Pick a holiday
Holiday's are already stressful enough without adding the pressure of meeting the family. 

Do: Dress Appropriately
Don't: Over Do It.
Make sure the both of you are dressed for the occasion. No club gear, going out make-up, saggy pants, gym clothes, or formal ballgowns. 

Don't Be late without a phone call. 
Actually this is a life lesson. You should always strive to be on time in every situation. 

Do: Have fun
Don't: Stress yourself out. 
Keep it light and casual. Most parents just want their kids to be happy. Show them that this person makes you happy. If is doesn't go well don't be discouraged. What tends to happen is people try to force their family to like their SO. It may take awhile to your family to warm up to them. 

Just like on Meet the Parents

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Golden Rule

As y'all know I've been substituting in hopes of finding a permanent teaching position. Substituting is humbling experience. Last school year I was a awesome talented teacher with my own classroom and this school year I am a lowly sub. I have accepted my lower position because I'm not 'bout this unemployed life. However I didn't expect to get treated like a flunky. 

Recently I was subbing for a teacher. She was in the classroom preparing to leave when I arrived. She gave me the instructions for her classes. As the teacher was leaving she said "you can sharpen these pencils and put it in this box." 


I wish I could replicate the tone in which she said it. I'm so proud that I just smiled and bit back the smart-ass response I had. I have a Master's Degree in Education. I am certified to teach in two states. I taught in one of the roughest school districts in the country. And clearly she didn't care about any of that...

I would never ask another adult to sharpen pencils especially in that rude ass way she said it. I always treated my substitutes with respect. I went out of my way to get to know them. I wanted them to feel included in the school atmosphere.  I left them completely detailed notes. Sometimes I even left them treats because I you need it when dealing with my students. 

I wonder how people treat administrative assistants? Or janitors? Or servers? The "helpers" of the world sometimes get treated poorly because of some perceived hierarchy. 

I use to hate going to carry outs because of how the customers treated the servers. I never understood how berating the person serving the food was a good idea. I got recognized at a Subway restaurant -not because I was there often, but because I was the nicest person they encountered. I am always polite and say please and thank you. 

One of the things you learn as a journalist is be nice to everyone especially admin assistants. They can make or break you. They can easily "forget" to pass along your message or they can get you valuable inside information. 

But beyond getting things from someone it is just plain good manners to treat people with respect. When I was a child my mom made sure I said please and thank you. It was drilled into my head to treat others as I would want to be treated. That meant always being polite even if I was in a shitty mood. It seems that as we get older we stop being polite. We can't be bothered to say please and thank you.  

Someone told me politeness doesn't work in the business world. People who are polite are not seen as powerful and tough. I don't think that is true. You can balance being tough and polite. You can reprimand an employee without being disrespectful. You can have you assistant get your coffee- actually never mind that's rude. Get your own coffee. 

The Golden Rule still works! If we all would try to remember it maybe the world would be a better place. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

How I Met My Husband

As promised: The Story of Us 

We were neighbors. Literally. We shared a wall but somehow we didn't run into each other often. Sometime in the spring/summer of 2007 J (my husband) and his best friend starting hanging outside on the stoop; running their mouths and smoking. I would stop and chit-chat with them but I didn't linger. 

 That changed when I was asked to watch my sisters dog. Originally I was going to keep her for 8 months--I had her for 3 years. I started hanging out outside walking the dogs and chatting with the guys. They were entertaining and fun to talk to. I was incredibly lonely and they kept me company. I can't count how many times we stayed out late talking and debating. We had epic debates until 2 and 3 in the morning. I'm surprised our neighbors didn't call security on us. 

Slowly I realized that J had a crush on me. Unfortunately for him I was in "me mode." I just got out of a horrible relationship and I wasn't interested in dating. I wanted to focus on healing myself.  We became good friends.

I'm not sure when things started to change between J and I. I think when it started to get cold we stopped hanging out on the stoop and started chatting on Instant Messenger. We started to move from good friends to flirting. I was still very wary for a bunch of reasons. I didn't want a relationship because I didn't trust myself to make a good decision about men. Also, J wasn't the typical guy I dated. We were neighbors and friends, if it all went to hell how could I face him? 

Yet, I found myself starting to like him, in that way. We shared our first kiss on Christmas Day. We went on an official first date soon after. 

J was not like anyone I have dated before. In a good way. He was kind and considerate. He was a God Fearing Man. He opened doors. He was emotionally available. I was so comfortable with him. He saw me happy, sad, goofy, drunk, hungover, with glasses, with contacts, bitchy and everything. I could talk to him about anything and everything. The relationship felt different. It was different. It still is different! It's like wearing your favorite pair of jeans that fit comfortable, flatter you and make you feel sexy as hell. 

Pretty quickly I fell for him (and him for me) as in- by Valentines Day I had a feeling we would be getting married. It was scary. I never thought about getting married. I was not one of those girls who planned their wedding day when they were six. I thought I would meet a guy and we would cohabitate long term. Again, J different. He was old-fashioned. He believe in marriage and honest-to-goodness commitment. 

Speaking of old-fashioned we were not having relations. Yes, you read that correctly. J wanted the next person he was with to be special so he made me wait. It was very different for me. Frustrating at times. In the end I'm glad we didn't rush into that part of our relationship. 

By June, a little over six months after we officially starting dating, I had a promise ring (and him in that way, finally). The next month we were engaged. We got married two years and one week after that Christmas Day kiss. It has been the best decision I have ever made. He makes me a better person. He makes me want to be a better person. Corny I know but completely true. 

I thank God for him. I was happy that I didn't let my fears get in the way of love. It was completely unexpected and right on time. 

My single friends ask me how did I do it or what did I do different to meet a great guy and get married. The answer is I don't know. I wasn't looking for love. I was actually running from it. People always tell you to stop searching and it will come to you but that is really hard especially when you're lonely. unfortunately it is kinda true. When you stop searching and focus on being happy with yourself- love finds you. I will also add that women need to give men a chance (you know that friend that has been hanging around but you only see him as a friend). Date people outside your box. 

Our Wedding Song: Love is You by Chrisette Michelle

PS: I told J I don't date smokers. He quit cold turkey.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Seven Years of Blogging

My first post on this blog was seven years ago today (March 7). I crack up reading that first post because it is soooo me. I started this blog with no direction in mind (probably a terrible idea). I wanted to write what I wanted to write, when I wanted to write, with no inhibitions. As a journalist I never got that opportunity to tell stories the way I wanted.

I had blog before this one but I felt trapped with what could write. I had boxed myself in which made writing a pain. Therefore I started this blog to free myself of any parameters. It felt like a reboot.

Seven years ago was a huge turning point in my life. I was going through a quarter-life crisis. (Fun Fact: that was going to be the name of the blog).  I was unhappy living in DC, stuck career-wise, single and in general-failing at life. I didn't detail it very well in that (linked) blog post but I let that job decided my fate. I was packing up to return to California as a failure until I got my awesome job at a museum.

That year I also decided to start counseling.

As I said I was failing at life. My thought process was off.  I was always a anxious person but it seemed to blossom into something worse. I didn't like the person I was. I don't know if I was depressed but things were fucked up. I have briefly touched on my anxiety in this blog but I'm afraid I glossed over it as no big deal. But it was a big deal. Actually I would not be who I am today without going. I went for 2.5 years straight then after a year break I went back for six months. Yes, it was that serious. It still is.

I have learned how to handle my anxiety better. Of course there are options like medicine and medical marijuana both of which are tempting but neither are a "good look" for a teacher. So I try holistic options and coping mechanisms. I still have battles. My recent car accident was tough. On the outside I told everyone I was fine. I played it cool but on the inside I was completely freaking out. I mentally struggled for what I thought was a couple of days (my husband tells me it was more like a week). Truth be told some days I still struggle.

Speaking of my husband. December 2007 was when we went from being friends to dating. One day soon I'll post our love story but the very short version is, we were neighbors. We bonded over dogs and late night discussions. He had a huge crush on me but I was obviously going through a huge transition. He was extremely patient with me and it just blossomed. Seven years later and I'm so thankful.

I'm thankful that 2006 was the worse year of my life because I needed it. I needed to learn my lessons the hard way. I needed to change the direction of my life. The payoff was almost well worth it. It wasn't easy.

I'm glad I have this blog to see the changes and (of course) to entertain you. I hope you all learn something as well and maybe laugh a little. Thank you for your comments public and private.

PS. Sorry this was so link heavy. If you're a newer reader you might have missed the early stories.