This week has been filled with inexplicable angst and emotions in my life.
Maybe, as my one student so boldly suggested today, it’s just “my time of the month” (which it totally ISN’T by the way), but I’m finding it hard to believe in others this week.
I love teaching, with all my heart, but I find it disheartening to be a firsthand witness to the attitudes of today’s youth. I’ve been discussing different stories of bullying this week in my one class, and when I asked about cyber-bullying, an entire class was in agreement that “people join ‘those sites’ expecting to be bullied.”
In the teacher’s room, the conversations are toxic. I invested in a pair of headphones so I could drown out negativity during my prep, but even Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” can’t save me from gossip, complaints, and whining.
I’ve heard multiple people, both in the halls and out, referring to people and things as “so gay” or “retarded.” It has actually become more of a battle to call people out on this and have a reasonable conversation with them on it than it is to let my blood boil and realize that it is physically impossible to open the minds of some people.
Even tables at bars are calling me gay.
I’ve been feeling sick these past few days, but I’m stubborn and haven’t wanted to call out. I left school with a sore throat and a killer headache today, which was only made worse when I logged onto Facebook once I got home:
This alone wasn’t surprising to me, as I made it clear in my post on the topic that I felt it was only a matter of time before he tried to stop it.
What did surprise– and hurt– me was what Christie said about the topic. He said, “If the court single-handedly, without guiding precedent and without input from the [NJ] Supreme Court, reverses this course and overrides the intent of the democratically elected branch, the state will suffer irreparable harm.”
You know what makes me suffer irreparable harm?
Being told I’m not human.
Being told I’m less of a person than someone.
Being treated like a second class citizen.
Having my civil rights decided for me by individuals who aren’t even affected by them.
Having my job, potential marriage, and any thought of stability in the future being ripped out from under me because I live in a state where the governor thinks he has the right to treat teachers and same-sex couples like dog shit.
I’m sick of all the injustices in the world. I’m sick of discrimination. I’m sick of ignorance. I’m just sick of everything, in general, being less than ideal.
I guess I’m just, as I’ve been singing non-stop this week, “waiting on the world to change.”
When I first heard about the Newton shooting today, I was in my end-of-the-day prep period. I was done teaching for the day, and I stared in disbelief at the news rolling in on my Google+ newsfeed. At first, I thought it was just another school shooting. (It’s sad that I can label anything “just another school shooting.”) Then, I comprehended that it was an elementary school shooting where innocent children were killed by a father.
I was shaken up for the rest of the afternoon, as it hit me for the first time that, like some of those who were killed, I identify as a teacher. It also hit me that many of the teachers who were hurt or killed were doing what I have done every day since September 5th– protecting my students and supporting them in whatever way possible. I became numb and tried to block the eeriness of the situation out of my mind.
Then the texts from my Cohort (the group of students I’m in my grad program with) came rolling in.
“OMG I can’t believe what happened.”
“Are you okay?”
“This is surreal.”
I tried to sympathize and provide words of comfort to each text that I received, but the reality of the situation is I didn’t really process what had happened until I sat back down at my computer tonight and actually started reading posts on Google.
Then the six degrees of separation kicked in.
A blogger from BlogHer, the blogging network I’m a part of/ the individuals who host the blogging conference I attended, lost her nephew in the shootings. As I read her twitter posts as she found out about the shooting in her family’s town I broke down and started crying. I shed tears for her, her family, for all of the families, for the entire Newton community, for the teachers, for their students, and for every child who was somehow affected by the tragedy.
A lot of people are starting the age ol’ debate on gun regulations on Facebook, but you know what?
Now is not the time for that.
Now is the time to be scared, mourn, be grateful, feel guilty for being grateful, and to reflect on what has happened. Now is the time to remember those that have been lost, and to honor their lives and memories.
It is also time for me, as an educator, to be thankful that I’m safe and do not have to cope with the aftermath of a shooting like this in my school. I care about my students so much, and I cannot even begin to imagine what those teachers are going through.
I think this tweet sums up what I’m feeling tonight… There’s no reason it couldn’t have been my school, and I don’t even know how to begin processing this tragedy.
Every day my wife is in a classroom doing her best to help children learn. No reason it couldn’t have been her room #prayfornewtown
For the past eleven years, September 11th has been a day of solemn reflection and temporary patriotism across the country.
A 9/11 tribute from my freshman year of college
This year, I have been able to look at September 11th through new eyes. I am student teaching tenth graders, and, for most of them, September 11th is just another patriotic day on the calendar. They were 4 or 5 years old when the terrorist attacks occurred, and if they remember anything at all, they just remember the images that are bombarded across television sets year after year. Of the students who have actually memories of that date, most of the students just recall their parents or guardians being upset, or a lot of people leaving school early.
For me, the day has a completely different meaning. I was thinking about the significance of 9/11 in my life earlier this morning, and I realized that I am 22 years old. 9/11 happened 11 years ago. This means that for half of my life, I have been living in a post- 9/11 world.
A lot of my students have no personal recollections or memories of 9/11. Today, I ended up explaining to them how different the world was 11 years ago. Their minds were blown when I told them there was a time when there was hardly any security at airports, that you were allowed to bring liquids on planes, and that there were very few restrictions on packages you sent in the mail. To them, they have only known a life filled with extra security and safety precautions. Terror alerts are as normal to them as thunderstorm alerts, and terrorist is a casually used word in their media-filled lives. They only know what the Twin Towers look like as a result of “really old movies” (their words, not mine!), and the 9/11 memorial is just a construction project that has been going on for a really long time. September 11th is just another day to wear red, white, and blue, but they don’t get off from school for it. They know that it is socially acceptable to feign sadness, remorse, and a lack of understanding of the events that surround this day, but they do not remember the actual emotions that this day brings out in some people.
For me, I am blessed. I didn’t lose any loved ones on 9/11, although my aunt was in the last subway car that went to the World Trade Center. She and my uncle both survived working in the city that day, and for that I will always be grateful.
A few months ago, for my Teachers as Writers course, I dug up an old journal I had started on September 11th, 2001. I was convinced that the world was going to end, that Osama bin Laden was going to kill me and my family, and that life as I knew it was going to end. After reading through my neglected journal, I wanted to give my eleven year old self a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay. I was so filled with fear of the unknown, like many Americans at the time. In a weird sort of way, being able to revisit my thought process as a child allowed me to realize how much has changed and how much has remained the same in our crazy world.
I haven’t looked at Facebook yet today, but I can almost guarantee that when I do, I will see a lot of “Never forget” statuses. I can also almost guarantee that there will be moments of twisted 9/11 jokes, political ideologies, anger, hatred, and temporary patriotism. I respect that everyone has the right to their memories, emotions, and opinions, but I also hope that all of you will remember that some people are also still suffering various levels of grief and emotions 11 years later. Some people were personally affected by September 11th, 2001, and others were not. I hope with all my heart that everyone who reads this blog will think before joining the bandwagon, and that you all will be respectful of the lives that were lost eleven years ago.
I leave you with the song “Where Is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas. We used it to discuss life post 9/11 in my classroom today.
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged New days are strange, is the world insane If love and peace are so strong Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong
I got a lot of free “swag” at BlogHer12. On the first day in the city, I had to buy another suitcase just so I could lug it all home!
Now, a lot of stuff were products I wouldn’t think to buy on my own normally, but I did end up with some pretty amazing things. My top pics? A purse, a $10 giftcard to Kohl’s (that paid for half of a shirt I bought the other day, thank you very much!), a banana shaped usb drive, my nails, and a lot of coupons. The dorky soon-to-be-student-teacher in me also got really excited about the notebook I got from Martha Stewart. It reminds me of the moleskins I’ve had over the past few years, but it’s slightly larger. It’s perfect.
I may be a blogger and a product of the digital era, but I still prefer pen & paper over my Macbook. (Unless, of course, I have hand cramps or forgot a pen. Then my computer wins.) There’s something magical about the smell of a new notebook, the crispness of untouched pages, the undeniable serenity of blank pages just yearning to be written on. As Natasha Bedingfield might sing, “I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined/ I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned.” Blank pages are amazing, and nothing made me happier than to get the notebook from Martha… it even has perforated edges! This is bliss.
As you might be able to tell, I’m really excited about the Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery line. (And no, I’m not being paid to say this.) All of the products are really cute and perfect, and the line’s coming into my life just in time for me to stock up for the school year. I’m starting to get a bit nervous about student teaching a bunch of tenth graders, but I know as soon as I hit Staples I’ll over-buy organizational supplies. (I have a slight office and school supplies addiction.) I’m super excited for all of the cute binders, journals, and notebooks, and I know I’m going to go overboard with the desk accessories. (Have you seen these cute document storage boxes? I’m already thinking of turning them into “Homework” boxes for my students!)
The BlogHer12 loot explosion.
A lot of women who attended BlogHer12 were petty, immature, and ungrateful. It disgusted me that people could be so ungracious towards such a phenomenal experience. In the days that followed the conference, they complained about not getting enough free swag, about the quality of swag, and some even insulted NYC, the host city! I think these women all had glue guns up their rear-ends…They should be ashamed of themselves. The conference was AMAZING. I learned so much, and I am so grateful for all of the fabulous bloggers, brands, and individuals I met. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend my first BlogHer. As for those complainers, I think they just didn’t get a notebook. Notebooks make the world go round.