Monthly Archives: December 2012

what are we going back to?

I didn’t hear anything about what had happened in Connecticut on Friday until my   mother sent me a text that seemed so out of the blue – “18 Elementary school kids & 6 adults in Ct. Just go home…gonna turn on the news…”  I had no idea what she was talking about.  After school ended I joined some of my co-workers at a local bar we used to frequent, and we vented and ate and had a drink or two.   I saw some footage on CNN (because every single restaurant and bar has at utter minimum, one TV in it) about a massacre in Newtown, but it wasn’t until I got home that I read all about it.  (I didn’t even have NPR on in the car driving home.)

I caught myself up on what was still a good deal of incorrectly reported information, and after a particularly difficult week at my job, I just sort of felt hopeless.  I fell asleep on the living room couch for about three hours, and woke up and headed to bed.

I spent all of my Saturday busying myself with various pursuits, and even spent some time with the husband and some of his clients.  (Said clients are 18-28, and most suffer from some disorder on the autism spectrum or other developmental conditions.  This matters later.)

At some point today, which was mostly spent doing laundry before our upcoming trip, I read more about the horrors that occurred in the small town in Connecticut.  Many people have spent a lot of time this weekend trying to make sense of what happened, in one way or another.  What I can’t stop thinking of is how that’s all going to come out tomorrow morning, as children go back to school, and their teachers may end up having to answer questions about what would happen in a homicidal maniac broke into their school.

People, especially empowered by social media, have come to terms with what happened in a variety of ways.  A lot of people have spent their weekends sharing strong opinions on gun control, for or against, or mental health treatment on some sort of social media this weekend, and a lot of people also shared the “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”  blog post.

I do have to share two thoughts on that particular piece.  One: obviously  did not grow up using Live Journal, where if you had fantasies about injuring a family member, you made that crap friends only.  Or you made it so only a custom group of close friends could read it.  Maybe my mother’s warnings sharing my whole life online were more prescient than I give her credit for.  They began at age 13 and they echo in my head to this day.  (Note: she loves this blog, so I’ve probably gotten something right.)  The frankness and negativity with which she speaks of her children is honestly upsetting to me.  While I don’t have kids, I deal with parents and kids on a daily basis, often way more than I want to.  Even if I one day want to throttle my figurative teenage daughter or yell at my five-year-old for crying (because there’s no better way to get a kid out of a chronic crying habit than to yell at them!!), I would not feel good about posting that for the world to see.

Secondly, anyone who has ever worked with any child with any developmental disability knows that, yes, they follow patterns.  Yes, there is a DSM book that counselors use to diagnose psychological conditions for a reason.  But every kid with a  developmental disorder is different.  Every single one of them.  When I worked with a self-contained class for the first time, that’s what struck me the most about these kids.  They were such strong personalities, every single one of them, and so individualistic.  They call it an autism spectrum for a reason.

So yes single mom with four kids who complained that she had to give up her freelance career for a college gig (a job I’d love to have myself), you have a sometimes violent, special needs child, but for you to claim to have any understanding of the inner workings of Adam Lanza’s family is ignorant and opportunistic.  And have you ever thought that maybe one day, your kids will read and be aware of the fact that millions of other people have now read about the bodily harm you wanted to inflict upon them?

For more critique, read an analysis by an excellent writer, Sarah Kendzior.

So now there is the task of going back to school, for millions of teachers and students in the next 6-12 hours.  While I personally have tried to stay distracted all this weekend, it hits you right upfront when you think about Monday morning.  Most schools are almost on their Winter Break, so typically students and teachers are a little more laid back this time of year.  That won’t happen tomorrow morning.

I was in 10th grade during Columbine.  I never genuinely feared a copycat attack at my high school, and I felt safe where I was.  Virginia Tech happened the week before I graduated college, and my last class of that day evacuated because of a fire alarm.  Turns out a professor burned popcorn on the fifth floor and they decided to take any small problem seriously that day.  As they should.

Being a teacher during this time, I will say, is the scariest circumstance of them all.  I am sure that my overactive imagination and penchant for wild disaster scenarios will make me a really paranoid parent one day.  But I’m already in that role.  When a kid is late to class or I don’t know where he or she is, I really give it to them when I explain why this is such a bad thing.  “I am legally responsible for you during this time of the day.  I can be held accountable for the things that happen during the time you’re in my class.”  Usually, this does not present an issue, but when outside circumstances create terrifying scenes as we sat in Newtown this week, the thought of my students losing their lives chills me to my core.

However, as tales of heroism by teachers, and by the principal and school staff of Sandy Hook come forth, I don’t find them surprising.  Not in the least bit.  This is what teachers do.  They take bullets for their kids, both physical and metaphorical.  They leave their marriages in ruins.  They neglect their personal health.  They spend buttloads of money on supplies (and those numbers are getting higher).  Surely there are teachers who only go into what they do for the money. As in, to have a job that receives some sort of paycheck, not to be rich.  To make ends meet.  But they sure as hell don’t stay in it for the money.  Whether they can ennumerate those reasons or not, they realize they have a chance to have a direct impact on the future course of society at large.  I don’t even have to like my co-workers to know that they would have done the same, given the circumstances.

Most teachers don’t have to take physical bullets for their kids.  Most teachers shouldn’t have to.  Well, scratch that.  No teacher should have to.  But the next time I hear people demonizing teachers unions I hope they stop and consider what happened in Newtown, CT.  The staff members who gave their lives so that their students may survive are heroes.  But in this profession, making personal sacrafices on every level is standard operating procedure.  In every classroom in America, there is a teacher not being paid what he or she is worth who will in some way, shapre or form, save a kids life this year.  Some teachers will provide warnings or give advice, some teachers might prevent suicide or abuse.

The prospect of mortal danger in my profession scares me, but so does taking I-95 to work every day.  (The latter is actually a little more scary on a day-to-day basis.)  As stated, no teacher should have to block bullets with his or her body so that their six-year-olds can go home to their parents.  But I think if put in that situation, an abnormally high percentage of teachers would absolutely do the same thing.

And tomorrow morning, after that first bell rings, there will be a lot of announcements from principals concerning what happened on Friday morning in Connecticut, trying to assuage fears and provide for safe learning environments.  And after those announcements end, there will be 20-30 different perspectives, different reactions, different clouds of information or misinformation about what happened Friday, and it will be the job of millions of teachers to bring together those perspectives and help them move past this horrific act.  Whether it happens by means of talking about it in a round-table discussion or simply pressing forward with mid-terms, it is yet another burden shared by all of America’s teachers tomorrow morning.

Wish us all luck.

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Cooking with the RHoWM

I just made an abbreviation for myself!

Last night, my husband and I were back-to-back in the kitchen, making things to eat (as one does).  I was convinced that I had to prolong the life of the avocados we bought the other day, and I did this by mashing them up with pulled chicken into an avocado chicken salad.  Hooray.  T-storm decided to put bunches of vegetables in the rice cooker and curry some stuff up.

Meanwhile, I double fisted a Vitamin Water and a PBR at once.  My beloved husband alluded to filling the (small) kitchen with farts.  Then he began singing each and every song that popped into his head, all from a wide variety of vocal genres.

We bumped into each other and laughed as our cat crawled directly underneath our feet, burrowing in some bizarre manner (or just waiting for some chicken to drop).

A typical night cooking with our little family.

Lately, T-storm is all about cooking with quinoa: in chili, in whatever really, and what follows is a few outstanding examples.

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prolonging the holiday spirit

We had a small holiday party the first week of December.  And there were plenty of holiday spirits shared – and shall we say, re-gifted the next morning.

It sounds stupid, but it makes me want to have another holiday party.  It went well, our friends had a great time, but I had all of this stuff to hang up all around the living room that never got hung up.  We had our tree up, and the place looked okay, but there’s a nagging itch to have more people over at various times this month to see our modest holiday decor.

What is the malfunction in my brain that makes me think I won’t be satisfied with my holidays until people compliment the bunting I made last year?  Or until they appreciate the cookies we made?   Seriously, dude.  I don’t understand why I feel this way.

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a proper way to flirt.

well well well.  I had written eariler about odd ways of being approached in daily life, but I had an experience a couple of weeks ago that left me feeling positive and complimented, and not violated.

T-storm and I have a BJ’s membership (laugh if you will), which is awesome if you want to buy sparkling water, Fage yogurt doubles and quinoa in bulk at a decent price.  Costco is a better company, yes, but at least we don’t have a Sam’s Club membership.  and I don’t even know where the nearest Costco is.

I was buying bottlewater in bulk for an event, and I headed to the register to get rung up.  maybe the cashier did actually check me out at the same time, but I didn’t feel like I was being objectified.  we had a conversation during the transaction, and he was particularly friendly.  of course, at big discount stores, they check your receipts as you exit, and I noticed on my receipt that I’d only been charged for three giant packs of water, when I’d gotten six.  I didn’t want to get my butt kicked by the exit police at BJ’s.  (that would be a pretty crummy fall from grace story if there ever was one – loss of career due to shoplifting bottled water at a membership discount store.  glory be.)

so I went back to remedy the situation.  and the cashier felt a little embarassed at his mistake.  but he also said to me, “Here I was, thinking you were coming back to get my number.”

I responded, with a grin, “No, I’m married.”  I nodded politely, we completed the transaction, and smiled away.   he said nothing more on the subject, but wished me a good way after he charged me for the other water.

I wasn’t objectified, and he had simply made a flirtatious, yet polite comment.  I certainly got the message that he’d like me to give him my number, but it wasn’t anything creepy or asshole type.  certainly not someone chasing me down in a parking lot at Panera shouting “EXCUSE ME!”

so for any Men’s Rights goons who think that feminism excludes the opportunity for men to be complimentary and flirtatious, please take this as an example of flirting without being a sexist prick.

it is possible!

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