Archive | December, 2014

An Open Letter to Every Female Celebrity Claiming She’s Not a Feminist

30 Dec

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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I read a headline today – one is a veritable slew of its ilk – that left me fuming. If I were a cartoon character, smoke would be pouring out of my ears. But this proclamation, as if it were some kind of moral high ground, has been completely in a fit.

“I don’t consider myself a feminist.”

DARLING. Sweetie, perhaps you don’t understand. You see, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. It is not a prompting to burn your bra, eschew all men, and became a man-hating cave troll. Clearly, there’s a gaping chasm between the word and its actual meaning.

As such, let me explain. No, too much. Let me sum up – and I’ll use small words, so you can understand. (Are you catching on to The Princess Bride theme, yet? Good. I’d hate to send the Brute Squad after you.

Feminism…

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The Christmas I Was a Guest Blogger

24 Dec

Hey everyone! Be sure to check out my Christmas post over on the lovely Deanna Raybourn’s blog!

From my household to yours, Merry Christmas!

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Things Seen & Heard While Ringing Bells

21 Dec

Ringing bells for the Salvation Army has been a part of my family’s winter/Christmas traditions for many years now. We’ve learned a lot over the years, like whether standing at the entrance or exit is better (the exit, always the exit), and that no matter how many pairs of socks you wear, you will not be able to feel your toes at the end of four hours. What we can never truly prepare for, however, are the people.

Maybe it’s something about the neighborhood we ring bells in, or maybe it’s just the clientele of that particular store. Whatever it is, the people watching is truly what makes the time go by, and the people do not disappoint. Here are just a few of the things seen and heard during this year’s shift.

Seen

  • Two legit Santa Clauses (real beards, folks!)
  • A woman in a tank top (the high was 30 degrees yesterday)
  • One fire truck, one ambulance, two police cars
  • One man digging cans out of the garbage
  • A woman putting out her cigarette, then putting it back in her pack to (presumably) smoke again later
  • One woman giving my brother her gloves because he didn’t have any

Heard

  • “It’s nice to see young people out here ringing!”
  • “I hear those bells in my dreams.”
  • “Jesus IS the reason for the season.”
  • “You need a pint of rum out here.”
  • “Mom, those candy canes are for the kids.”
    “I don’t care, I want one.”

An Intentional Disengagement

12 Dec

Husband asked me the other day if I remembered life before I had an iPhone (which was, in my case, my first smart phone). An only-slightly-exaggerated answer? Not really. It’s hard to remember a time when I couldn’t use my phone to look up movie show times, check for directions while driving, do my Christmas shopping, and keep constant tabs on what’s what on Twitter.

I would say wholeheartedly that these things have definitely made life more convenient. I would probably stop buying groceries before I’d give it up. I would say without hesitation that these things have made my life better. But, I cannot honestly say that it has made me better.

It is with embarrassment that I reluctantly admit that my attachment to my iPhone might not be particularly healthy. I am, perhaps, unnaturally attached to it. You can usually find it within a 10-foot radius of my person. Furthermore, the once or twice when I’ve left my house without my iPhone left me with a strange sense of unease. I’m normally an optimistic person, but I couldn’t help but think, What if this is the time my car breaks down? What if no one stops to help me because they just assume I have a cell phone? What if I get lost in the middle of nowhere and no one knows where to find me? What if a new trailer for Game of Thrones comes out and I don’t have a way to immediately watch it?

You see my point?

I sometimes have to remind myself that there was a time before smart phones. Before cell phones, even. And yes, I am old enough to remember those times. When my mom would tell me she’d be running errands, she was basically just off the grid. I didn’t know which stores she would be at and for how long. If I wanted to get ahold of her, for whatever reason, I was SOL.

Now, technology has made it so that there’s no such thing as being unreachable. When I call someone, it’s with the expectation that they will answer. When I text someone, it’s with the expectation that they will respond. When I post something on Facebook or Twitter, I find myself checking for responses within minutes. It’s assumed that we are connected, always. Working and sleeping are pretty much the only excuses for not engaging with someone via technology, and sometimes not even then. Gone are the days of I-just-don’t-feel-like-answering. After all, what’s the point in having a cell phone if you don’t answer?

At least that’s what we say in the off chance that we get someone’s voicemail.

Most of the time I am happy for this ubiquitous connectedness. I like engaging in social media. I love my Twitter family. I love my blog. I love the engaging in witty banter entirely through gifs and emoticons.

But again, I wouldn’t say it’s made me better.

There are times when I’ll be watching a television show and I’ll find myself Tweeting/Pinning/Facebooking and realize that I’ve missed an entire chunk of dialogue. Sometimes I feel like I am actually physically incapable of doing just one thing. If my phone is there (which it always is), I must be on it. Is that what technology has done to me?

At least when it comes to television, it’s not that big of a deal. There’s a rewind button on my TiVo remote, after all. The issue is that it’s not just television.

True Mom Confession: Every now and then it’s my children. I feel like a horrible mother even admitting it, but there will be times when I’m on the ground playing cars with my kids, and my hand will gravitate toward my phone. Let me just state for the record that there is nothing in this world more important to me than my children. I know that these moments with them are literally once-in-a-lifetime, and that time spent playing with them will be over all too quickly. There is not a rewind button for these moments.

Because of this, I have started making a concentrated effort to disengage. To not be so connected, all the time. That’s not to say that I won’t ever Tweet or blog (clearly). I’ll still take my iPhone with me to work and I’ll have it with me when I’m driving. But, when it’s during my children’s waking hours, don’t be surprised if I don’t answer that text immediately. I won’t like that status immediately.

It won’t be because I don’t care. It’ll be because my phone is in a different room. It will be because I’m playing with my children, the way my parents played with me, before iPhones. Because life before iPhones wasn’t half bad.

The School that Saved Me

5 Dec

I’ve always been the type of person who likes to stay busy. I complain about it, of course, but really it’s all of my own choosing. Apparently, Child #1 has inherited that trait of mine. Through my school district’s Community Education program, my kiddo has basically done it all. Swimming, gymnastics, t-ball, basketball, cooking, science, Lego engineering. He’s jumped from one activity to the next, always excited about trying something new. His newest class? Karate.

One of the exciting things about Community Ed. programs is that they take us to schools in my district that I never would have set foot in if not for the class we were there to attend. As a teacher, poking around other schools is something that I love doing. Karate class, however, took me to more than just another elementary school. It took me on a trip down memory lane.

When I talk about the elementary school I attended as a child, I talk about Desmond Charles Elementary.* But, in reality, Desmond Charles only accounts for half of my elementary education. Before I went to DCE, I attended a private, Catholic, elementary school. In kindergarten I didn’t mind it, but at the age when school was mostly play, what wasn’t to like? As I got a little older, my Catholic elementary school became repressive. I felt like I wasn’t able to have a personality. Or really, I wasn’t able to have my personality. There are some who may have thrived in the rigidity of the rules and regulations. Not me. I had always loved learning, but I became less and less excited about school. While I was still young at the time, I remember my unease about going to school vividly. When I was at school, I felt like I was a shadow of my real self, only visible in the right light. I began to try to get out of school, crying to my parents that I didn’t want to go back. I am beyond blessed that they listened.

Desmond Charles Elementary saved my life. That may sound melodramatic, but I know it to be true. At DCE I had teachers who provided me with opportunities to be goofy. They encouraged and helped me to be creative. To write. To read. To sing. I found a home at DCE, and in that home, I found myself.

When I walked through the doors of DCE to take Child #1 to karate, I felt just as at home as I did the day I had left. The ceilings felt lower. The media center, massive in my memory, felt smaller. The desks most definitely felt shorter. What hadn’t changed a bit was the ease I felt as I walked the halls. To an outsider, they’d be nothing special. Just elementary hallways with plain walls masked by student artwork. To me, they were a reminder of the power of great teachers, and parents who truly hear their children when they speak.

There has been much talk in some circles of how public schools are failing our children. In some cases, that may be true, but it was public school that saved me. I won’t soon forget it.

*Desmond Charles Elementary is not the actual name of my elementary school. It has been changed here for privacy.

+DISCLAIMER: I am sure there are many, many people who have had fabulous experiences with Catholic and other kinds of private schools. I am just not one of those people.