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!

I Took a Personal Day and I’m Not Sorry

Monday was a long, but overall happy day. Tuesday, however, was much worse. We’re talking “no-good, very bad day” status. I won’t even go into the details but we’ll just say I left school after a long after school meeting, fuming. I walked to the subway half-furious, half-devastated and entirely exhausted. I did that weird little public half-cry where you wipe tears away before they really drop and try to pretend you’re not crying.

On the way home, I tried to find comfort in anything I could: I’m a good teacher, it’s almost the mid-point in the week, we get a break in two weeks wherein I’ll get to see my family and friends, I love my sweet smiling students so much…but nothing was sticking. Until I offered myself the possibility of a personal day. Not a concrete plan, just the option.

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A little backstory: in January, two of my colleagues in the history department had a little meeting without me and discussed an important topic; my continued full supply of personal and sick days. They’d both realized that I’d never taken a day off and thought it was ridiculous. As veteran teachers with 6 and 13 years experience, they are very protective of this first year baby teacher, a fact I’m endlessly grateful for. So it was no surprise when they both came to me separately and then together to convince me to take a day for myself.

They told me that it’s important to take care of yourself. They lectured me about self care and burnout. I laughed and told them I would consider taking a day in March because that’s the death month with no days off. And then Tuesday happened and I hit the end of my rope.

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Giving myself permission to call out on the subway gave me so much relief that I just continued thinking about it. Eventually, still undecided, I texted my co-teacher and told him there was a chance I’d be out. I wanted to see his response, since he’d be teaching alone the next day if I wasn’t there. He immediately texted back, telling me I deserve it and I need to take care of myself since it was a hard day. There were many emojis, he was excited, it was very sweet.

So I took a personal day and I still got up at five. I spent the day catching up on lessons and doing my homework. I went to therapy in the afternoon and spent the evening drinking tea and spending time with Boyfriend. By seven that evening I felt good, I felt ready for a 7am-10pm day with work and grad school.

And then de Blasio called a snow day. Excellent timing, de Blasio, excellent timing.

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Previous to taking this day off, I’d only taken two days off from work in my life. One for when I was so sick I couldn’t walk without passing out and the other was the day that an ex walked out on me. The idea of taking a personal day just to get my head on straight seemed weak. But my colleagues (and every other veteran teacher I interact with) have taught me just the opposite. Weakness is not listening to yourself, it’s not taking care of yourself. It’s easy to be in the building every day, it’s much harder to be present. And sometimes you have to be absent in order to be present later.

I refuse to feel guilty about this personal day because it was something I needed to do. I needed a reset and re-focus. And the snow day, well, that was just a bonus.

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.

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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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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Thanksgiving in Photos

This past weekend I had the enormous honor of spending Thanksgiving with Boyfriend’s family for the first time. I’ll post more about family, relationships and a sense of welcome later this week, but for now here are the photos.

We spent a few days wandering on the beach, hanging out with family, hiking around the Southern Washington coast, exploring lighthouses and old bunkers, running away to Oregon for a second, enjoying the sunset, eating too much and just relaxing.

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