The (Late) 2017 Bucket List

At the beginning of college I got my first credit card. Don’t worry, I’ve always been ridiculously responsible about budgeting, this story’s not going down that road. What I recall almost as deeply as the nightmares I had about the possibility of interest payments, is getting my first statement.

It wasn’t that I’d spent a lot of money, it’s that every line item on the statement was a fast food restaurant or something I ordered from the internet. My credit card statement was a story of me as a shut-in. It was not an untrue story.

I wish I could say I saw this sad story and immediately changed; went full Eat, Pray, Love and traveled the world, sky dived and moved to a new city, danced like no one was watching. I did none of those things, because isn’t life lived in the small changes and the tiny moments?

Yes, it is.

So I went to a few more stand up shows and plays, I made my meals out into dates with friends, and I traded a few pretty dresses for road trips and ridiculous midnight adventures. I learned to get back into the world and be a bit more brave and a bit less tied to things.

When I heard about Eventbrite‘s GOMO, or Get Out More Often, I thought “that sounds pretty baller.” And then I thought “damn, son, you need to stop picking up slang from your students.”

In all seriousness though, there’s a huge life lesson here and you know how I love those. So in the spirit of GOMO! (something I will be yelling randomly all over NYC’s subways), here’s a list of 10 adventures I’d like to have this year.

*I’m putting a couple on here I already did, because, well, I want to brag a little too*

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1. Go To the Oscars

I did this. So…

2.  See a Play

I hadn’t totally planned on it, but I did this today too. Casually went to see Hamilton with my students. More on that later.

3. Get Out of Town

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New York is draining, which is surprising since I’ve yet to live in a New York apartment with decent sink and shower drains. In our year plus here, Boyfriend and I have only left the city a hand full of times, mostly to fly home or get out for a weekend camping trip. This year I really want to go somewhere quiet, stay in a B&B and relax for real. I want to be not just New York relaxed, but actually relaxed.

4. Have a Picnic

It doesn’t have to be in Central Park or Prospect Park or any park. I just want to make sandwiches and pack them to green, nature area and eat them in the company of those I love.

5. Go Camping

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This tends to happen a few times during the summer but it’s something that I really like and Boyfriend LOVES. Nature is the great healer and no matter how hot/humid/disgusting this summer is, we have to get out there.

6. Write a Story

I’m keeping expectations low because I won’t even finish grad school until August. So, not a novel, nothing epic, just a story. I have ideas in my head all the time and I used to do a lot more writing them. Time to get back to that.

7. Do a Yoga Retreat

Yoga brings me as much peace as nature does and I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time. This year I want to bite the bullet and go all in for a weekend (or maybe a week).

8. Take the Train

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Not the subway. Dear god, never the subway. The actual train. I don’t even really care where I go, I just want to go. On the train.

9. Be Present in the Blogging Community

I have made a few great blogging friends and interacted with other bloggers and I genuinely love this community so much. Grad school and teaching tend to keep me from both blogging (whoops) and making deeper connections with other bloggers (double whoops). This year I want to get back to the blog and jump in to the community.

10. Get a Tattoo with Boyfriend

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I should note: I definitely don’t mean matching tattoos. I truly believe though that it’s an experience worth having with someone you love and Boyfriend has not yet gotten a tattoo. I’m working on designing one for him and as for me, who know, could turn out as anything.

Best of luck.

P.S. Eventbrite also has some crazy cool planning tools, like this one. Check them out!

Clothing Sizes are Not Your Friend

Last weekend I took decided to be brave and go on a hunt for new pants. This might seem silly to some, but pants are hard for me. My big (but not big enough) hips and butt, my belly squish and my big (strong, gorgeous) thighs mean that I don’t easily fit most of the pants on the rack. 

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When I was younger and many sizes larger I thought it was because I was just “too big” overall. Choices were limited. But as I’ve shrunk over the years I’ve found that pants are just a b*tch in general. 

My biggest issue is that if I can find jeans that fit my legs, they’re way too big in the waist. If I can manage to squeeze my legs into pants that fit in the waist, the legs end up being so tight they pull the waist and stretch the pants. Either way same uncomfortable problem. 

Anyway, lately I’ve noticed that my pants are a little big and decided to buy some new ones. Unsure whether it was due to two years of stretching fabric and I was still a 12 or if I’d actually lost weight and was something smaller, I went in unsure of my size. 

Naturally I went to the jeans wall in target and got ten pairs of jeans in three different fits and four different sizes. At one point I put on a 12 that was a tiny bit too big and then a 6 that was too short but otherwise almost right. Yeah a 12 and then a 6. Same brand. 

What the hell?

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I could go on and on about how the numeric sizing in women’s clothing doesn’t even make sense and men’s clothing going by measurements if much more useful, but that’s a post for another day. My issue is that, if I can manage to not let a number define my body and if I can avoid the media barrage of impossible bodies, I’m still confronted with total confusion in the dressing room. I’ve grown a serious garden of love flowers to cushion my body but I can only take so much of this bull honkey. 

Eventually I went into a random store in the mall and bought a 29…This number sounded like men’s sizing but unless I’m measuring myself incorrectly, that’s not true. 

So, I ended up buying pants and I like them but bro, what the hell? The fashion industry has got to be stopped with the confusing numbers and the ridiculous sizing. 

Oh and then I went back to the same store a week later to get another pair of the exact same pants and ended up needing a 27…what?

Have any of you had a similar experience or is it just me and my “weird” body over here? Let me know in the comments and, as always, best of luck.

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Classroom Portraits: Pete, Javier & Mercedes

I’ve decided it’s time for me to introduce some of my students and celebrate the magical moments of my profession. I’m hoping this will be a regular series, so please let me know if you enjoy it.

Pete

I had Pete in my government class first term. He was always sweet but spent a lot of time trying to sleep through class, begging to be given a task that required less effort and in the end, he barely skated by.

Going through this brought us pretty close. Every single day he comes into my classroom after school and we do our patented jumping high-five, where we back to either side of the classroom and run at each other, jumping and high fiving mid-air in the middle. Every time he exclaims “now my day is complete!” and runs out the door.

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Javier

Javie and I also had a rough first term together. He’s known for leaving class suddenly and disappearing for half the period, cursing out teachers who call him on his behavior, and generally keeping everyone off task. This term, after so many good days, bad days, and long meetings, he’s in my class again. He has grown up a lot in a few weeks.

Last week we held a Class Court for the case of NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin. Many of the more engaged students participated in the court early on and I watched as Javie alternated between talking to a student near him and listening to the other side. I would have been happy with this behavior, but then there came a booming voice from his side of the court.

Javie spoke clearly and with all the professionalism of an attorney defending the rights of workers and the role of the government. He stayed calm when questioned by the judges and stood for his team when challenged. At the end of the period I stopped him and told him I wanted to see this every day. He grinned at me and said “I’ll try.”

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Mercedes

Mercedes is a very sensitive kid whose hurt usually turns quickly to anger, cursing, and fighting. She struggled through the first term but passed. She says hi to me in the hall everyday and has this infectious, crooked smile that I just can’t describe.

At the beginning of January, she came into my classroom at lunch and talked to me about her second term classes. She complained about biology and English but said she liked art well enough. She turned to leave and get some food but then turned back enough and said, “I never got a chance to thank you for all your help last term, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

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These precious moments with this amazing young people bring me up from the very drudges. The best advice I’ve received so far as an educator is to write down this good moments, these students showing you their best selves and cherish them. These moments can save you from the very worst days.

Fellow teachers (and others), do you have any of these moments you hold on to?

Best of luck.

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Whole30 Confession #2: I have IBS

I believe I’ve talked about this a few times on the blog, but there’s always room for another IBS post. Right? Right.

A little over a year ago I was feeling pretty crummy on the regular; nauseous and constantly battling stomach cramps. Someone once likened this type of stomach pain to feeling barbed wire run through your intestines and I’ve never found a more spot-on comparison.

One Friday evening my symptoms got worse and worse until I was sitting in bed realizing I could no longer take a full breath because of the pain. By the next day I was really struggling to breathe regularly and couldn’t eat much without increasing pain or nausea. Not eating regularly made my blood sugar crash and I got dizzy and sick. And as often happens when my body is overstressed, my blood pressure crashed to the ground and so did I.

I passed out at least twice, though Boyfriend says three times. I’ll go with his answer because I wasn’t really there. Eventually I went to the clinic* and saw a lovely on-call doctor who poked, prodded, asked questions, ran a few tests and eventually said “I can’t see the cause but you’re obviously in pain.” See wrote me a prescription for Vicodin** and told me to come back and see my doctor.

I went back that Monday and saw my GP who declared that it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I praised, I rejoiced, finally a diagnosis!

Then she explained further – IBS has no cure, treatment, or reliable cause. Basically it’s the diagnosis you get when you have chronic stomach issues and every other possible issue has been ruled out. Cool, a diagnosis…

IBS is a b*tch. It’s what I would image having a teenager would be, except that the child is your digestive system. You can’t control it, it argues with you constantly, but you can’t just get rid of it. IBS is enjoying a cupcake but knowing you’ll be sick later. Maybe. IBS is waking up one random morning, after weeks of healthy eating, in horrible pain for no reason. Like I said, IBS is a b*tch.

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Since then I’ve been through many different diet restrictions and natural methods, though the only thing that’s made a real difference is the Whole30 reset. I’ve learned a lot about my body and what it doesn’t like doing multiple Whole30s and I’ve come to look at food differently.

My body is angry much of the time and I’m by no means perfect when it comes to food habits, but I’m taking a step every day toward food freedom.

Best of luck.

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* I waited until Monday and went to a clinic because my health insurance did not cover ER charges. This absolute hell brought to you buy: bullshit rich people in health policy who don’t f***ing get it.

** My crappy state insurance did, however, cover prescription painkillers. So, I guess if you can’t get emergency healthcare, get drugs.

One Lovely Blog Award

Chrissey over at Unabridged Sass was kind enough to nominate me for the One Lovely Blog Award! I’m super honored and excited to participate; thank you Chrissey for thinking of me and this silly little blog of mine.

I absolutely love Chrissey’s blog, it’s a glorious mix of all the things a lifestyle blog should be without all the BS that so many lifestyle blogs lean towards. She’s honest, she’s witty and, probably most importantly she delivers the appropriate amount of sass.

So go check her out, like right now, I’ll wait. Do you need the link again? Go, I’ll be here when you get back.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  • Post about the award
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate at most 15 people
  • Tell your nominees the good news!

 

Seven things about me:

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1. I learned to straighten my hair on accident.

In 7th grade, I was curling my bangs*, with my mother’s lime green curling iron from the 1970s. I pulled the rod downward on accident and the piece of hair came out straight. It was magic and I spent hours experimenting.

2. I’m obsessed with my cat.

I talk to him all the time and treat him like my baby. He’s a perfect little flop and I love him more than most people.

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3. Boyfriend and I say “peekaboo” when we pass gas.

It started with a video of a bird saying peekaboo. I don’t remember why. But it’s been two years of this.

4. I have an overactive imagination.

It’s what makes me both a good writer and completely unable to watch horror movies.

5. I have no modesty when it comes to bowel movements and stomach stuff.

I spent most of my Peace Corps service stomach-sick which made me take a lot of desperate actions I’m not proud of**, so I don’t hesitate to tell people I need to poop or I’m going off to poop now.

6. I’m an introvert.

But not necessarily that shy, those aren’t the same. I actually like other humans and I spend my day talking in front of young humans, but I need alone time to survive.

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7. I collected spoons from different states as a kid.

I don’t remember how it started but I had 44 spoons by late middle school because my family traveled a lot. I think they’re in a box in my parents house now, but they’ll probably end up on my wall at some point.

And now to spread the love, I’d like to nominate:

Best of luck.

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*Oh, middle school Becca, this was such a bad look for you, my friend…

** I’m referring to 100% crapping my pants. Multiple times. And also the one time I couldn’t take another pants-crapping so I found a bucket in the corner of some shed. There weren’t a lot of bathrooms, ok?

The Mindy Project: A Television Rant

Sometime whilst I was in the Peace Corps, a couple of shows came out that I quickly fell in love with: Broad City and The Mindy Project.

Most people don’t think of this, but at least in Peace Corps Peru, TV and movies were a big deal, they were our connection to home and our zone-out (rather than freak out) tool. We showed love and made new volunteer friends by passing along all of our favorite media.

So during the passing off of our favorite shows at conferences, I championed my two favorite shows, not only giving people the episodes but insisting that we watch the first one together, to get them hooked.

Broad City remains one of my favorites today. Abbi and Ilana are my girls. But the Mindy Project…I don’t know.

After a pretty long hiatus from the show, I recently picked it up again and I’m not super impressed. I’ve watched almost two seasons in the last couple of weeks and found that witty humor and silliness have been replaced by confusingly low brow humor, moderately racist/sexist comments, and big themes that should be addressed but are more often ignored.

For a lot of people I’ve spoken to, the decline started when Danny and Mindy got together, but that was ok for me. Whatever they’re in love, it’s cute, we can do comedy and love.

For me it all started with the anal sex episode. The episode centers around a moment in the bedroom when Danny “accidentally slips” leaving Mindy angry and startled. Where this gets really dicey is when Danny explains that he was just “trying something.” Seriously? 2017, and we’re still playing this game where sex is not an act between consenting adults involving conversation and consent, but a scuffle where people decide to do whatever they want without warning.

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As it turns out this episode was just one in many incidents showing the absolute bullsh** that is Danny and Mindy.

Danny incessantly complains about Mindy’s eating habits, cleaning habits, and personality traits which eventually started to get at me. That’s so unhealthy in a relationship. Do I expect that my boyfriend loves everything about me? Absolutely not. But I also don’t want him to constantly pick at every aspect of my life.

The big issue is that Danny can’t compromise despite the fact that he believes he’s always compromising.

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He expects Mindy to stay home with their son when he’s born and when she expresses discontent he shames her for not being a good mother. When she eventually returns to work (and starts her own business on the side), something he should be proud of her for, he shames her further and accuses her of threatening his vision for the future where they have many children. A future he did not consult her on.

Again, it’s 2017.

It seems every time Mindy finds happiness in her work life, Danny drags her down. There is no lack of love for her son here as she continuously shows how much she loves spending time with him, but because she working (something Danny is doing too), she’s a monster.

How are we still thinking like this and pushing these ideas into popular media today? How? In a world where this actually happens to so many women, can we put it on the small screen so unapologetically?

Sure, Danny and Mindy eventually break up which at least shows Mindy opting for her own happiness. Thank god for that. But the real issue is never addressed. She never says “hey I don’t have to stay home because I’m the mom, you staying home isn’t heroic babysitting, I’m going to work, stop mommy shaming me.” So we’re left to believe that they just wanted different things, rather than seeing that when Danny wants is sexist and damaging.

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I’ve written before that I’m scared to have kids one day because I am so career driven, that I fear I wouldn’t have the time to be a truly good mother. And it’s no wonder that this is a sentiment heard from many women and very few men.

What we need is for media to reflect a life where women and men can stay home or go to work or do a little of both. We need to normalize that life because while art reflects life, life also reflects art. With the number of young people watching these shows we’ve got to give them something better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show, feminism, working parents, etc. Even if you disagree with me, hell, especially if you disagree with me. Let me know your thoughts.

Best of luck.

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Election 2016: A Plea for Sanity

***political post: if you don’t care to read about politics or my opinion on politics, kindly skip this post. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of non-political content coming. See you again soon :)***

This election is reaching its due date. At less than three weeks out, all we can do is practice our breathing and hope they’ve got the good drugs if this goes sideways.

There’s a lot on the table this election and I’ll admit, there is no perfect candidate. There is no Obama ’16. Oh how things would be different.

Politically I’m pretty liberal, but I try to stay close enough to moderate that I can still see the line. I try to think from varying perspectives because I know I have an enormous amount of privilege. I don’t vote with my gut, I seek out facts. I’ll also note that I’ve been a Clinton supporter for years, though Bernie was my top pick in this election for a while there. I’m guilty of laughing off Trump as a fool and ignoring him.

I teach government and history to high schoolers so while I know that I’m never entirely unbiased, I try to show them every side of an issue and force them to justify their own thoughts with evidence. In my classroom, saying “yes” or “no” or “that’s dumb” isn’t good enough, you have to give me a “why.”

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But all that aside, the end of this sh**storm is getting close now and I’m scared.

I’m terrified of the racist and sexist comments I’m hearing from not just Trump but his supporters. Of slurs I’ve been lucky to miss throughout much of my life. I’m terrified that this election is becoming the pinnacle of “boys will be boys.”

I won’t even go into what might happen if he’s elected because I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to know.

What I can tell you is that I’m not on the fence about Trump being a threat to the American people. There is no fence. There is no saying that he’s fair or kind or empathetic to all of the people of this country. That’s just a bald faced lie.
There is no covering all of his ignorant hate up with applause for his honesty. You know what honesty is when it delivers unnecessary pain to specific populations? It’s hate speech.

What really makes the bile rise in my throat every time I think about this election is what I hear from my students.

I teach at a school in Brooklyn that is almost entirely black and Latino. My students have all been held back at least twice before ninth grade, that’s the requirement to attend our school. (The overlap of race and grade retention should also tell you something about racism in the school system and our country).

I teach topics that easily lend themselves to the election. And yet every day I fear talking about it. I fear the pain in my students eyes, the distress that they express at the possibility of this man becoming president. tumblr_nebz73cmsw1rk1f5to1_500
On Monday a student said he wasn’t concerned about Trump’s policies on education because “if he wins we’ll all be slaves again anyway.” Comments like that come up every day and while students try to laugh them off, they’re too true to be brushed off that easily.

This man, this sexual harassing, bullying, bullsh**ting, lying monster of a man cannot become president. He can’t.

I get it if you don’t like Hillary Clinton. Ok. She’s got some flaws, she will not be perfect. She is a politician and I know a lot of us are tired of politicians. I’m not even standing for her right now, that is no longer what this is about.

If you decide not to vote because you don’t like Clinton, it’s a vote for Trump. I wish our system didn’t work like that, but it does. In not letting your voice count, you’re letting it shout “Trump!”

That’s my final word on this: go vote, take down the monster.

Best of luck. To us all.

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