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!

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

Growing up I watched my very motivated father work his fingers to the damn bone. If there was a retake needed by a football player, he’d stay until 6 to give it to them. If a parent meeting needed to happen at 5 am or 9 pm, he’d make it happen. If he needed to learn Spanish or trombone to get the information across, he’d do it.

Every evening I watched him get home late and fall asleep minutes after sitting down. And every single school break I watched him get horribly sick and spend his time off recovering.

When I started teaching I promised myself I would find a way to work for my kids, to give them every chance I can, without burning myself out.

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I have been blessed with a team of co-workers who are caring and understanding, who always look out for me. My co-teacher tells me often to take care of myself. The beginning of every department meeting is either a self care check-in (where we talk about our specific self care goals and what we are doing to reach them this week) or a self care practice (Tai Chi, guided meditation, etc.) My Assistant Principal meets with me once a week to lesson plan/unit plan/revise curriculum/talk about what’s not working and how to fix it. My in-school mentor meets with me once a week to talk about literally anything I need help with.

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I’m supported, much more so than a lot of teachers. I’m lucky and I know it. But still I got caught with a case of ignoring my own needs.

Last Monday I got up at 4 and laid on my couch sobbing because my head was pounding so hard I couldn’t move. I called in sick but by noon the fever, headache and general ick was so bad I couldn’t stop crying.

I went to the clinic in the afternoon (I’ll be honest I went mostly because I wanted to be at work the following day) and found out I had a high fever, a sinus infection, and an ear infection.

My point is: don’t do this. Don’t let it get this bad. I was sick, really obviously sick and tried to push too hard through it and for what?

Americans especially have this notion that if you are not absolutely killing yourself at work, you’re lazy. I can’t say this enough times: that’s bullsh*t.

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In Peru, we would work from about 7- or am until lunch, go get lunch and take a nap or spend time with family, and then go back to work from 3 until 5 or 6. Yeah, that’s a three hour lunch. We also took 20-30 minutes breaks throughout the day to sit and talk.

At first I was torn apart by the difference and went to the go-to argument so many others have used (or at least thought in their head): well maybe if they worked more, their country would be more advanced. This, my friends, is also bullsh*t.

The reasons that many countries struggle has more to do with internal structure and corruption than with amount of hours worked. Hard work may be important, but worker bees working their buzzers off with no break  will not improve a country or a city or a workplace or a person.

I suppose the moral of the story is: put in the work, do whatever it is you do the best that you possibly can, but remember that half of being your best is treating yourself well. Work hard, self care hard.

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Best of luck.

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

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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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?

I Couldn’t Hate Them If I Tried

Something I’ve learned many times before but continue to learn every day is that nothing in education will turn out as expected. The “solid gold” lessons won’t be received as you imagined (or hoped), the “total crap” lessons will hit some just right, and the emotions and break-downs and fights you expect will not happen when you expect them.

My first term as a high school teacher just ended in December and nothing went as I expected. Kids I thought would throw fits over failing didn’t, kids I thought would fail pulled it out at the last second and some that I thought would pass lost their momentum too soon.

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Overwhelmingly though: I am continually floored by how much I love these kids. How much I want to hug them when they cry and tell them it’ll work out even though it feels terrible right now.

I push them hard every day, nobody is allowed to take the L. I expect greatness from everyone, no one is mediocre. I don’t hand out good grades until they’ve been earned. I get called mean on the regular, I’m always “extra” and “doing too much.” I get mad sometimes because CAN EVERYONE STOP TALKING OVER ME?

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But still, when they celebrate, I celebrate. Nothing is better than seeing that smile they tried to hide when they find out they passed.

And when they cry, I cry. Nothing is harder than seeing the despair they’re trying to hide when they find out they won’t pass.

There was this small part of my brain that thought I’d feel justified and righteous handing out failing marks to those kids that have blown off the work and made bad choices. Because I’m teaching them lessons in social studies but I’m also teaching about consequences and professionalism. I thought somehow it might feel good to give a well-earned failing mark.

I was surprised at how much it hurts me when they hurt, even when the pain is necessary.

I’ve known these kids for three months, but something clicked in the hall with Elle while I held her and let her cry through my sweater. Something clicked when Steven laughed out loud at the news of passing my class and couldn’t stop grinning. Something clicked when Kam came in late to study hall and begged me to let him finish his work and pass, and his relief when I let him.

These kids are magic. And I am forever honored to be connected to them in even the smallest way.

Best of luck.

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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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Escaping the Food Battle

Food and I have a complicated relationship. And not complicated like we fight, break up and get back together or we don’t want to put a label on it or one of us is married to a plant. Complicated like we’re actually trying to kill each other.

We go way back. Unfortunately, however, my knowledge of proper nutrition only dates back a few years.

I grew up in a pretty classically American household; there was a lot of processed foods and ready-to-eat stuff. I don’t remember noticing my body as anything other than a vessel with which I moved through life until fifth grade. Overnight I went from running around without a care to worrying that I didn’t look the way I was supposed to and that I needed to fix it.

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Body issues bred food issues, food issues bred eating disorders and shame which bred more body issues and so the cycle goes. In college, armed with the ability to buy and eat what I wanted and a crippling depression, I gained sixty pounds. By junior year I was desperate and terrified. I was terrified to work out in public for fear I’d be laughed at, so I tried cutting calories. I tried juice cleanses, and purging and alcohol-only days. I tried sketchy internet diet pills that made me pee all the time.

It was not some conscious moment that changed everything, that part came later. Looking back now, I think it had to. At the end of my junior year of college, I studied abroad in London. My daily commute just to and from school logged a solid two miles, plus the time I spent exploring the city the rest of the day. I walked and I walked a lot. I started noticing how much better I felt, not just because my pants were starting to sag, but because my body was getting the chemicals it had been needing.

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The struggle continued through the following years, but the pant sizes kept going down and my general outlook got better. The conscious moment of change came during Peace Corps years later. I’d had stomach infections, parasites, and a myriad of other ailments through my first six months of service. After a lot of antibiotics, I finally started to heal but found that my stomach was always upset for some reason.

So I started reading and I found the Whole30 community and Paleo and AIP* and everyone claimed the same issues I’d had for years past and in recent times. Everyone found solace in changing their diet.

I’m sharing all of this for two reasons:

First, I’m doing another Whole30 reset through January, because the holidays and the stress have led my eating patterns down a dark road and it’s time to reset. I’ve recently read Melissa Hartwig’s most recent book, Food Freedom Forever, and I’m feeling mighty inspired.

Second, for too long diet changes and exercise and living a healthy life have been connected only to weight loss and that’s not what this is about for most people. I’ve felt that itching inside me to lose weight, to be skinny, to finally be beautiful and that itch wasn’t cured by weight loss, it was cured by learning to love myself and understand myself. If everyone told a story of weight loss instead of health and self love, we’d be…well, nowhere good.

I’ll keep y’all posted on the Whole30. I’d love to hear your questions, comments, and especially if anyone would like to join me on this round of Whole30 fun!

Best of luck

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