Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Plea From a Teacher

A Plea From a Teacher. I’m not entirely certain how this “Press This” feature works, but the linked post is a must read! As an educator, I whole-heartedly agree with what this teacher says: If you want to reform education, do away with the testing!

My students just took the new Texas STAAR test, and I am appalled that they were expected to write an entire narrative in under a page, and expected to include all the necessary elements of a story. Then to give them two Expository essays (both under a page), and expect it to make sense, when not only were they under a time limit…It’s asinine! Like she says: take all the rules of writing and through them out the window.

This blog post needs to go viral! If you want to make a difference about something a little closer to home than the Kony 2012, which was all the rage a few weeks ago, share the above post any way possible!

To Discriminate or Not…

Remember in the 1990s when people were claiming that Affirmative Action was Reverse Racism? People who were highly qualified for positions were passed over because companies were looking for minority candidates to fill their quotas. People all over were angry about it, and lawyers made a killing (I assume) suing people. I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase “reverse racism.” Racism is racism, whether you’re black and being discriminated against, or white and being discriminated against, but in the continuing anger over atrocities that happened during the Civil Rights movements in the ‘60s, it was politically incorrect to say that racism was perpetrated against a non-minority person.

I remember it, and, as a minority myself, I remember thinking this was going to do more harm than good. I am now terrified to see it happening again… at the college level. College is the place where young people and, in the case of “non-traditional” students, not-so-young people can explore life and determine who they are; figure out what it is they truly believe.

Think back on some of the college movies you’ve seen: remember the images of the incoming freshman (usually the protagonist or some other key player) walking around the quad/courtyard/assembly hall and walking by the individual booths of various student organizations? Each organization had some creed or philosophy that was central to their group, be it a religious ideal, a cultural identity, or a political philosophy. Occasionally, there might be a student who is part of the organization that you wouldn’t expect, for instance, there might be a very liberal looking hippie type as a member of the uber-conservative Young Republican group, or a Caucasian student associated with the an African American club, but generally, each group has a stereotypical image that makes it easy to distinguish them from the other groups.

Recently, this is beginning to change. Vanderbilt University has begun implementing its “all comers” policy, which states that all student organizations must accept any student into it. For instance, the Asian-American club must accept any Hispanic student that would like to join, or the Christian groups must allow the Muslims in. On the surface, this doesn’t really seem to be a problem; after all, experiencing new ideas and cultures is what the college experience is all about, right? Vanderbilt is taking it one step further, however, and forcing them to accept these members who do not follow the integral principles of the organization as group leaders. So a devout atheist may become the leader of the University’s FCA organization, or, as is already the case, a non-Asian male may become the leader of the Asian-American organization.

The policy, which has been around since the Civil Rights movements of the ‘60s, is being implemented to keep religious organizations from excluding homosexual students. This is a noble cause, but it will back-fire just as Affirmative Action did. By implementing this policy, the university has actually made these organizations more resistant. It opens the door for people taking advantage of and corrupting these organizations. One student put it very succinctly: “”If someone that doesn’t share the faith is teaching, then what’s the point of even having these organizations?”

Personally, I wouldn’t want to be part of an organization that didn’t want me as a member. It seems like a hate crime in the making. In order to keep whatever group they deem undesirable out, eventually someone will decide the best way to remove them will be to discourage them from joining in the first place. The more you try to make people accept an idea, the more resistant to it they will become.

What do you think?

Bombs and Mutilated Bombshells

The country life “ain’t” what it used to be…

Today, two things happened in the tiny little Northeast Texas town where I live that I would have told you wasn’t possible. For those of you who know me, you already know that I live in some strange, never-ending episode of the Twilight zone, but today was just a little more bizarre than usual.

For those of you who don’t know me, I lovingly refer to the town in which I work as the Ghetto of Mayberry. (If you’re under 25, ask your parents what that is, or try to catch an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” on TVLand.) My very first day at the school where I teach, I looked out the window next to my desk while I was completing my lesson plans (keep in mind, every other teacher at that school had left hours before), and I see a young African American male, a student who had already shown himself to be a potential problem, riding what appeared to be his little sister’s bike while holding a rope in one hand. At the other end of the rope, was a horse.

Two other young African American students were rough-housing in the parking lot (I had already stepped out to tell them to cut it out, at which point I was informed they were cousins, and that was how they played), and they stopped when he came up. The older of the two pulled his sagging pants up, turned his baseball cap backwards, and hopped onto this horse. Bareback. Around the boy’s neck was a large, blingy necklace, the kind you see on rappers from the 90’s, and if he hadn’t been on a horse, he would have looked like the stereotypical “thug”. But here he was, on the back of a horse, bareback, and then he went galloping down the road!

It was then that I realized I was no longer, as Dorothy would say, “in Kansas anymore.”

Nearly four years later, I would have told you that nothing could shock me anymore. In a world where people are mugged at stop signs, and the government is searching for terrorists in countries on the other side of the world, I live in a small town where I can leave my door unlocked at night (not that I do terribly often, but I could, mind you), and hip-hop loving boys in sagging britches ride bareback down Main St.

Today, my doors and windows are locked, and my faith in the innocence of children is a bit shaken.

Earlier today, one of my students, a favorite of mine (if I can be permitted to admit having a favorite), who happens to be rather well endowed and pretty, informed me that she got her nipples pierced, and then, without blinking an eye, asked me if I wanted to feel them…

My mouth dropped. I’m not sure what shocked me more: the fact that her mother TOOK her to get them pierced, or the fact that she thought I would want to FEEL her freshly pierced nipples.

Of course, once that cat was out of the bag, other students in the same class began telling me all about their exploits over Spring Break. One got a tattoo. Another got her sternum pierced, and was thinking about an Isabella (I had to Google that one… and it’s NOT polite for mixed company). This was not my little mock Mayberry, ghetto or not.

What’s happened to the youth today that they’ve begun mutilating their body before 18? Don’t misunderstand me: I’m fairly liberal and see nothing wrong with self expression through body “art”, but my mother told me that if IEVER got a tattoo, she would sand it off of my body. I’m about to be in my 30’s, and still have only my ears pierced. One hole in each, and not gauged. And, not a single tattoo. My ex told me once that this made me awfully vanilla.

Now, that alone isn’t enough to completely scare me into locking my doors. After all, rebellious teenagers aren’t anything new, and tattoos/piercings, while strange at such an age, are not a sign of danger.

During my nap (I’m still trying to recuperate from Spring Break), my dog went absolutely bananas! I went to let him out, assuming he needed to go (and when a dog needs to go, it’s best to let him do his thing). He wouldn’t leave his cage, but he was barking furiously! About that moment, I heard a very loud boom. It sounded a bit like gunfire, but infinitely louder. I assumed some of my neighbors were out trying to shoot coyotes, or wild hogs, or any other of a number of large, crop eating animals (I am very deep in the country).

It wasn’t until a few hours later that I found out that the local cops, and state police, had been called because someone was running around with a stock pile of weapons. Furthermore, the bomb squad had been called and the loud boom I heard earlier was them disarming a bomb they had found in his vehicle.

Definitely not in Kansas anymore…

I do believe that it is time to find a new place to call home. I think that the people here have been taken over by the  2012 fever and are preparing for the end of the world. If left to their own devices, some of them may very well be the cause. This is not the first incident of stock-piled weapons I’ve heard of in this area.

Only in Texas…

Five Things I Learned from Being Adopted.

Recently, I read a post  in which a charming, young lady wrote about the 10 things she learned from her father, and it inspired me to do something similar. After all, what is a blog for, if not to experiment with your ideas and to find out who you are in front of the whole world, yet entirely anonymously?

In a few previous blog posts, I’ve spoken a little about my family, but it’s been more of an aside; supplemental conversation attached to a larger idea. I’ve spoken about the main lesson I learned from my father, and hit upon some of the harsher lessons from my mother, but I haven’t actually discussed my family, and the full impact they’ve had on my development.

I am adopted (in case you missed that from the title). Being raised by people whom you have no genetic ties can be trying at times, particularly when you are trying to determine who you are and where you come from, but I survived, and it is because of those wonderful people that I am the well rounded, thoughtful person I am today.

So without further procrastination adieu:

Five Things I’ve Learned from My Family

1. You are Chosen.

At an early age, I realized that I was “different.” My hair was curlier, my skin was darker, my eyes were not the same. I was not the same. To explain it to me, my mother told me that they picked me out. I was chosen, and not just born to them. She told me that instead of carrying me in her belly, they came to the hospital and picked me out. The result was that I’ve always had the feeling that I had the right to be picky. Not picky about what I eat or what I wear, although I am a bit picky about both, but picky about who I let into my life. If someone proves themselves to be untrustworthy or in some other way undesirable, I expunge them. Everyone you let into your life is a choice, and life is too short to keep toxic people in your life.

2. Be the Best at Whatever You Do.

In that earlier post I spoke of, I explained that my father brags about how, even just a few years prior to his retirement, he could outdo the younger guys at his job. My father was a cable splicer for the phone company, and spent most of his career climbing poles. I mean literally, spikes on his shoes, climbing poles hauling wire up and down. The month before he retired, he raced one of the new recruits…and WON!

Pride is only a vice if it isn’t earned. And being the best means you’ve earned it.

My mother had a similar motto, but hers stemmed from issues with her mother. My grandmother doesn’t say “I love you.” Instead, she says “I’m proud of you.” Took me years to get my mother to understand the difference, but her pride in my accomplishments made me strive to do better in my life. I graduated in the top 10% of my class, and everything I set out to do, I try to do my best, no matter what the odds.

3. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry.

My parents used to have other couples come over for game night when I was younger. The house would be cleaned, and I was told to be on good behavior. We don’t let others know what is wrong in our life; it’s none of their business. Acting out in public was strictly forbidden (something I wish more families would do nowadays)! And you don’t leave the house unless you are put together: makeup, hair, everything. You want to give the appearance that everything is alright, and thus give the appearance of success.

In the era of Facebook and Social Networking, NOT sharing intimate details of your life seems strange, but my mother was old fashioned in this respect. It works twofold, if you think about it. First of all, you can’t get angry when people don’t empathize with your anger/disappointment/outrage of whatever “drama” you’ve put out there for them to see. Secondly, it gives you an air of mystery that we have forgotten how to appreciate.

I’m reminded of the old burlesque shows in which strippers didn’t actually show all their “goodies”, but made tons with the hint of skin. There is something inherently sexy about the unknown. It’s like the forbidden fruit of human interactions. We want to know! The withholding of information causes others to be more attracted to you.

I’ve seen this time and again in my romantic life. Guys are drawn to someone they can’t quite figure out. As soon as they know everything about you, they are pretty much done with you. The allure, the mystery is gone.

4. Why buy the cow…

On a similar note, here is an oldie, but goodie: “Why buy the cow, when the milk is free?” For those of you who have never heard this saying before, it alludes to sex. One of the ladies I work with is currently trying to teach this lesson to the young ladies in her youth group. She says it slightly differently: “A man will think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, until he gets what’s between your legs. Then he’s done with you.”

Both are correct, and it goes back to that allure of the mysterious. In a world where everyone believes you shouldn’t “buy without test-driving,” we’ve forgotten about the thrill of anticipation. Anticipation is a strong tool. Ladies should use it more often instead of assuming that a man won’t love them if they don’t give it up…

I do find myself slightly frustrated when a guy seems genuinely interested in me, until I don’t sleep with him, but then I remember that I am chosen (see item 1.), and I don’t need toxic people in my life. I’m glad I’ve waited to find the right person to spend the rest of my life with. When I wed, whether it be sooner or later, I know I will have chosen wisely.

I have my Mom to thank for that one. She ingrained it into me, with a little reminder every time I talked about a boy. A good man will understand, and wait… Apparently, I’m still waiting, too: for that good man to come along.

5. Video Games Can be Essential.

My brothers (who are not adopted), have taught me that video games can be both educational (you’d be surprised the amount of math/history/literature you can learn from some games), and can make almost any bad day better.

Mad at your coworkers? Kill some zombies in very violent ways.

Worried about that new (insert a life-altering change here)? De-stress by searching through time in any of a number of fantasy based games.

My personal favorite is the Sims3. I enjoy testing out how my life could have been, though it sometimes gives me a God complex. Don’t worry; I’m a benevolent goddess. I try to keep my Sims happy, like I wish I was all the time. I tease my students that I make Sims of them when they treat me poorly and make their lives miserable. It’s like an electronic voodoo doll, but no one actually gets hurt, and there is no communing with “evil” spirits…

It was a way for me to connect with my brothers, whom I sometimes feel like I have very little in common with; goes back to that whole lack of genetic ties…

And that will be all for tonight. I’m a bit verbose (if you haven’t noticed), so I will stop here before you completely lose interest. It isn’t as nostalgic as I had originally set out to do, but it is based in the nostalgia of my family, as strange and wonderful as they are. They have taught me many lessons to live by, and these are the top 5.

I’d love to hear how your family inspired you. Leave me a comment, and I’ll try to respond in a timely manner. I’m enjoying this interactive journey of self realization!

Beauty Queens and Texas Whores

Just finished watching The Client List, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.Overall, it was a pretty decent movie, given the indecent subject matter. A Texan woman, a former beauty queen, takes a job at what she thinks is a massage parlor to make some money to support her family. Turns out, it’s a whore house, and, turns out, she’s really good at what she does! To make it even more interesting, it’s based on a true story… and they’re remaking it into a Lifetime series.

Now, my interest in the show lies primarily in how it portrays Texas women, as I am a lifelong Texan (thus far). The main character makes comments early on in the show about how her mother told her “never to leave the house without makeup”, and “no one as pretty as [she] is should be poor.” I can relate to the first statement; I can honestly say the last time I left my house without makeup on, I was trying not to be recognized. (It did not precisely work, but then again, I have other attributes that make me stand out…or so I’m told) It seems in Texas, we prefer the not so natural look.

Later, when Hewitt’s character gets busted, she tells her mother that somehow it was like acting, but that having that much attention, all those powerful men treating her like she was the most important thing in their world, was something she needed. It’s not until after everything seems to fall apart that her mother tells her that she (the mother) should have taught her (the daughter) to rely on more than just her looks.

Coming from Texas, I understand this strange ideology that we women are only as good as our looks. It is bred into us from a very young age. My mother liked to tell me when I got into high school that I would lose the weight over the next summer, or the summer after that, because she had a growth spurt when she got to such and such an age. Imagine her disappointment when the weight never quite went away. Or how she always told me I look so pretty with makeup, but never said the same without it. Even now, every time I change a job, or location, my mother tells me that this time I’ll meet the one… As if meeting some man who wants to take care of me will make my life complete.

Interestingly enough, there was a time when wearing makeup meant a woman was a whore… Then again, I’ve also heard men say that they pay for their relations with women in a multitude of ways. It could be said that dinner and a movie were payment for future favors…

And men wonder why we are so messed up.