Wednesday, May 14, 2014

mid-mid life crisis

Okay people of the web I'm going through another ridiculous rough patch. My contract at work is almost up so I'm currently looking for work again. That process sucks for all of us, but a lot more right now because I don't have a reliable baby sitter. This is usually the part where my super flexible mother jumps in. Right now she's not doing any jumping, actually not much of anything. This past Friday she had a surgery on both of her breasts to remove cancer. So as her eldest child I have been trying to be there for her but it has been hard. My grandmother came down to 'help out' which has just made the whole situation 1000% worse. I was up for my dream job. A coordinator between after school programs and the non-profits/schools in my community because of my age I was passed over. I'm broken-hearted over it. Even more so at the idea of having to work some minimum wage job in the fall while going to school. It wouldn't be so bad if my mother didn't start chemo within the next two weeks. So on top of my own health issues, I have the entire outside world to deal with. I owe my school triple digit money and no real way to pay them back so I can attend in the fall. I feel like I'm already in this huge 100 foot grave with the rain pouring down on me and every time I try to dig out the sludge pours back in on me. The part that is killing me is that I'm trying. If I was just getting along, none of this would matter to me. But the fact that I'm killing myself with the school load so I can graduate on time and putting 40+ hours in at work to get zero out of it is strangling my spirit. I was so comfortable, getting my body back in shape and moving on to the next step in my relationship even that doesn't raise my thoughts. In normal times like these, when I feel the universal middle finger I would just sing my heart out in the car or on stage but now it makes me sadder. Due to a stupid disease that is making the cartilage in my body swell, is taking away my hearing from me. As a normal person is hard enough but being under those spot lights is where I feel at home. On a platform no one can touch me, no one can make me feel little. All of my stress melts away with my notes. Now even that is a struggle. I'm at a lost of what to do. I can't run away because my daughter (my boyfriend and his son) are here. My family (understandably) is a mess right now and mainly have no clue.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Official" language

This topic was brought to my attention in my multicultural class. it struck a chord with me because I watch people from across the world struggle to learn English.

Of course, there's a different levels of enforcing this law. It could be a federal bill, which means all laws/bills have to be in English, or on the state and local level meaning on signs, information etc would be in english. I think the ladder would have huge crowds on both sides. Proving this, almost every year a bill is put forth at Congress and kicked right back. No one wants to touch this topic. Whether because they have bigger more important tasks (ie minimum wage or population restrictions) or no one is interested in fielding this particular mine field, me might never know.
What I do know is that it would enforce immigrants to learn English faster. Working with them every day I know many work very hard to learn with varying results. Sometimes to the point where their children learn to read and write in English and not in their native language at all. Losing that connection with their families and heritage. Losing the pride they should feel, damaging their self image and outlook on how they should assimilate, look, act, etc.
English being the only written language would maybe being the country together later than sooner. English being the only spoken language I believe would be illegal and evil. I can't see this bill ever going anywhere.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Walls" building them or breaking them down?

I see myself using social media and technology for A LOT of my waking hours. So it makes me wonder about its effects on my life. It is making me anti-social? Surely its lets me keep in touch with relatives across the globe on a daily basis but would it take that much more effort to text to call them? Definitely, at least personally I find it being my go to time waster. I'm a sucker for the games and pictures of tattoos. I do find it a great news references on the topics I follow like marijuana legalization and LGTBQ rights here and everywhere. I find myself making Facebook groups instead of meeting with classmates in person. Google docs has made work instant and face to face interaction unnecessary. Being very socially awkward myself, I find this online meeting faster, simpler and less hectic. I find I can voice my opinion without instant backlash. Even if the backlash does come I can deal with it calm on the surface (via text on screen) even if I'm emotional. The downside our lifeline becomes whatever device is in front of us. My phone never leaves my hand unless I'm showering or going through a metal detector if I'm awake. To the point where my soon to be three year old can open my phone play angry birds and or call her grandmother to complain.

What do I think about all of this? I think technology is certainly not going anywhere so this is how we are going to communicate. Instead of having meetings we are going to Skype and IM each other. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing unless on a personal level it becomes obsessive. If you literally can't go five minutes without checking your wall or whisper, you have a problem and need to go outside for awhile. If you take dozens of selfies a day you need to find a new hobby. I'm sure decades ago when tvs first came into living rooms, parents then thought social interaction was going to disappear as well too. I think if everyone uses in moderation, our generation and future ones will survive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Power of words

In the past I've talked about how we separate ourselves through systems of oppression and language is a way we keep them alive. Language, words are the biggest weapon we have as humans. Yes, a bomb was designed to kill millions at a time and that power is undeniable. But! With the power of words one man spread his hatred for everyone unlike him, to hundreds thousands and killed millions. To the point 70 years later we still know his message and the result. Unfortunately, words can be used to inspire with good intentions and not. Humans hear things and spread them like wildfire. Growing up I had a very religious, spiritual step father and a ex catholic mother. both swore when the time was right but one word they couldn't allow was CUNT. It was nails on a chalkboard. So I grew knowing that the word had power that it belittled someone, a woman so much that even grown people were afraid to say it. So, my freshmen year in college when I was in an argument with a ,at the time, friend over a mutual friend that insult got thrown my way. I froze. i wasn't even sure what it meant but I knew she meant to hurt me deeply. I cried, I ran. Looking back I was upset at the broken social contract that I thought was in place not to say that word. The power of words rocked my life. I was scared to speak, I was scared to write.

I vowed to figure out what I was doing. I started looking up words. Fag for instance. One of my best friends is openly out and fabulous. So when he was called this I was appalled but I didn't understand. Fag as everyone should know is a bundle of sticks. What they don't realize is that bundle of sticks was used to light gays, witches, etc on fire alive. So the church would leave sticks on someone's doorstep as a threat to change or be punished. Needless to say I took it out of my vocabulary.
Another word that spoke to me because it is thrown around too easily is Bitch. Yes, everyone knows it refers to a female dog. What they don't realize is that it was used as a word worse than slut or whore. It was shameful and sometimes a life long brand. This generation is trying to take back words. Its a slow process.
I ran across this clip in my women's study's class and fell in love with it. This young girls are amazing. Definitely trying to take back the word. My point here is that we should look at what we are saying. We shouldn't use gay to describe anything but someone's sexual orientation. We shouldn't use words to tear down each other but rather cheer up someone we don't know. We should use our powerful words to unite the people not confine us to boxes.
The fact that in 2007, 32% of students admitted to being bullied is horrible. Bullying, using words to tear each other apart leads to so much more than that student having a bad day. It leads to depression, suicide, killing sprees in the extreme. There is no way a child should not feel safe going to school. As a parent it scares me to no end knowing that my children could be the victims of this. I know I was bullied in high school and it effected me for a long time.
Someone needs to change on how people around the world see their language. They need to know how amazingly hurtful their words can be. Small gestures like a smile at a stranger or holding a door open can make someone's day let alone the spoken words. Kindness is undervalued. If the goal is to be judged by the content of our character we have to live up to it. We have to be nice, patience, loving, to complete strangers and helpful, true, kind to the ones we don't agree with and loyal, caring, true to the ones we love. We have to use our words to change the world. They have power if you are brave enough to use them right.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Too much or too little

American Education System
In this country we probably have the most access to education out there. But is access enough? After 12 years of instruction, hopefully, you are handed a piece of paper. This paper is supposed to be the key to your future professionally. Does it prepare you? I think not.
The high school I graduated from, in rural Nebraska, didn't have tracking, blocking scheduling, and hardly any vocation classes, and maybe two dual credit classes you could take. That being said it was a small school and in my senior English class, because of low scores on the 11th grade standard tests, the class I had to take to graduate, had to (re)learn parts of speech. Luckily I graduated early. So I have taken my education very seriously since. Speaking of tests, I don't think that's what should measure a student's success. According to a tests I took my freshmen year, PSAT pre-act, I could have graduated with presidential honors. If a freshmen can beat a national test and a senior can't form a complete sentence how does our education system work? And how do we fix it?
According to Forbes:
In 2011-2012, 48 percent of U.S. schools were not making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates. As reported previously on Crotty on Education, under the Obama administration waiver policy, many states have been exempted from NCLB mandates. Beneficiaries? Unions and politicians. Losers? Students saddled with teachers, principals and school districts that are not meeting even minimal standards of educationexcellence.
Yes, to a point teachers, principals etc should be held accountable but schools shouldn't loss funding if it's failing. That only make teachers work for less and students go without free and reduced lunch among losing fine arts. Not saying succeeding schools shouldn't be rewarded but if a school is failing it needs help not to be broken apart and the students shipped somewhere else. 
This article by Gordon Cawelti points out the many side effects of NCLB that people don't think about.  The worse thing that can happen is have discouraged teachers leading to bored students who don't want to learn. Teachers teaching to the test in core subjects is going to kill any passion they or the students have. Teaching teaching the 'other' subjects art, foreign language etc will feel unimportant and expendable. 
In high school, we start to explore who we are and what we want to do with our lives, how can we put that into boxes and fill in the bubble tests? In school I might have been book smart, but I was in an abusive relationship that led to a teen pregnancy. Who knew? My favorite teacher: a foreign language teacher who took the time to teach us about systems of oppression and how to find our voice. I can honestly say that thanks to her voice in my head, I left the father of my daughter and have been striving to make an impact on society ever since. Will that reflect on a report sent to someone in a cubicle in DC or our ESU? No. Will she get recognized for being an amazing teacher, friend and co-worker? No. All that will be reported is that I graduated early and soared at my standardized tests and college entry exams. 
There's something broken about our education system. If we spend less time, money and effort on testing and get to know our students and teach them about the society around them we can change the world. We can stop domestic violence and give pride back to minorities. If we empower our students instead of making them some statistic, we will have a generation of leaders and activists not illiterate reality show personas. 
Here's my ideas.
1. Tell NCLB to shove it. Each state, district needs to set standards of achievement. I do think federal should set the graduation standard but I think locally should set what classes and how funds to be set. Especially, for elementary and middle schools I think there should be more book fairs, Accelerated Reading programs that reward reading and comprehension, and programs that give books to free and reduced lunch students. I think there should be more classes for minorities like Raza Studies schools in Arizona tried to do. I think gender studies should be a part of the curriculum ideally as well as sexual education. Along with classes like life studies (balancing a check book, resume preparing etc).   
2. Appreciate teachers. First, give them a big fat raise they deserve it. Second, give them free reign over their classes, let them fail the students who deserve it and teach to the majority of class not the students who are slacking. Third, tell them they are doing a great job, most of them are. Could you put up with hundreds of hormonal teenagers a day with a smile on your face? Would you spent dozens of extra hours grading and doing lesson plans  instead of spending time with your family or friends? No? Didn't think so. Teachers are amazing the end. They need support in college and the years of teaching that follow. Students in college should spend more time in the classroom and less time reading some text book. Then they should be paired with a veteran teacher as a mentor in their given field. The first few years of teaching the pair should meet regularly and discuss pros and cons of different teaching styles etc. Schools should provide opportunities for all teachers to go to conferences, training and or continue their education. If we are going to trust them to instruct the next generation they should be held to standards. I just believe those standards shouldn't be whether their students care enough to not blow off a test. 
3. School year. No, here isnt where I suggest year around school but that surely shows to have its advantages in other countries. I do also think school uniforms have merit. Those are things I won't breach right now. I do think though that all schools should offer after school programs until at least 530, so children have a safe place to stay until parents get off of work.  I think students at least in high school should be put on block scheduling to prepare for college settings. I also think that community service should be a requirement to graduate. 

I have tons of ideas and opinions but as a future teacher I know something has to be done or the future generation won't have the passion for reading and learning I have.         

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Women as Objects

Ads in the US Then and Now

I keep my opinion to myself about a lot of things but this is not one of them. Twice now in my life, I have watched the documentary MISS-REPRESENTATION.  It's my thoughts that every middle/high schooler should see this film and others like it, like Killing Them Softly. The first time I saw the film, I was fresh out of high school and wasn't a mother yet, the second was weeks ago. Each time, it had a very different effect on me. The first time being a slight boost in my self esteem. I saw the models and some of my idols underneath the makeup and Photoshop they go through before very picture or film finally. I understood at least for a short while, that the ideal I was striving for wasn't realistic. It opened my eyes to how poorly out society treats itself. Women are objectified and belittled. men are put on an inhuman pedestal built on macho standards. Putting the sexes on opposite sides of an invisible fence neither is supposed to glance over let alone cross. Making individuals that don't identify as macho male or a frightened Madonna outside society's norms. We separate ourselves and limit our connections. We make it taboo to respect a woman, calling men who do 'whipped'. And making any woman who demands respect a 'bitch' or 'butch' because according to society she wants to male if she is demanding the same respect males are given at birth.  
This past December, Adweek looked into this horrific trend. Naming the top 10 sexist ads of 2013. I was appalled. I was frightened. Knowing that ads like these show the people that women are less than human. They are just the body of their chests and reproductive organs. The ads belittle them to just being eye candy, being sexual objects. Women are made to be less than human. Making a race, gender, sexual orientation, any group less than human gives others right to treat them anyway they like. Like it or not we live in a rape culture. Where women who wear clothes, that models are displaying, on the town are begging to be taken advantage of. We live in a country where 89,000 rapes are reported annually according to How do we change this? How do we make this country and world safer for our children? We start with the things they see everyday. We start with the media. Making them regulate the size of models and amount of editing a photo can go through before publishing. We change our attitudes. Women make up over 51% of the population. If we speak up, we change things. Men can be feminist too. Many have already spoken out about the horrid treatment and judgement we place on women.
"Fake" Ad but powerful 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I've decided I'm going to make this blog a bigger part of my life. It might even expand to a website full of tons of other people's opinions as well.
More information to come but right now I have these topics that I'm writing about:
And Social media.
Of course, these topics will be broken into subcategories that could keep me busy for years. See the need for more help? I'm super excited. But I'm not that great at writing or technology.

I do want to say something quick but every important. Everyone matters. No one's life is more important than the person next to them. Whether you're the president of a country or a peasant inside it, each breath each heartbeat should be counted and rejoiced. Too often we are preoccupied with progress and what we think is the betterment of our lives that we forget what we are bettering our lives for. I'm especially guilty of this when I'm rushing out the door to go to work or school. Today I realized I'm more happy sitting at home laughing at the TV in bed with the three people I love the most than giving a speech about systems of oppression to hundreds. My message for today is be grateful. You may not have the Porsche or the projection screen but you do have the people around you. If you are anything like myself those people are few and far between so cherish them. Text the friend you lost contact with months,,, years ago. Call the parent that you haven't heard from (they really appreciate it)! Do something nice for your partner (they'll probably do something really nice for you ;-) ) Breathe! Take a step back from the term paper or quarterly report and smile. And know that you have life, you have hope and that's one of the most powerful forces in the world. Know that your voice matters and others want to hear it. Know that whether you look like someone on the cover of a magazine or freckles red hear and acne that you're so beautiful. Know that you're important and smart. If you know this others will see it in you. Give your permission to shine.