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Splitting Apart the World

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split apart.”
Muriel Rukeyser

My words yearn to be spoken,
and my ring yearns to shine,
but the others before me
cause me to hesitate:

Tippi McCullough,
who received news of her termination
on her wedding day.

Kristen Ostendorf,
who had the courage to be herself
to a room full of colleagues and friends.

Al Fischer,
who simply decided to spend
the rest of his life with his love.

Trish Cameron,
who actually believed
in supporting equality and justice for all.

If they all share their voice,
after years of sharing their knowledge,
and are left in the dark to rot,
where does that leave me?

In the dirt, with their stories by my side,
habitually starting from scratch,
and knowing my voice 
will never be afraid to be heard.

Waiting for the world to change

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.

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:

Big surprise, Chris Christie has filed an appeal to last week’s NJ Superior Court decision on same-sex marriage.

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.”

School shootings are different now…

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.

newton