Saturday, September 28, 2013

Not always, but sometimes...

...drivers in Logan give me dirty looks when I am in their way. Nevermind that they are the ones driving on the left side of the road. Nevermind that this happened twice in the past three hours. Nevermind that we are not in England.

(But seriously. Let's not think about not being in England. It will make us sad.)

....I want people to do their job, because I am doing mine, and also, you are getting paid. When things in my life depend on you, and I have never met you yet, and the only thing I have ever heard from your employees is how you are pissed off at them even though they are literally doing your job, I get grouchy. Not that that is your problem, but your job description is, actually, your problem.

... I am grouchy. Not always, but sometimes.

....I remember to write in my happiness calendar, and Zane snapchats me stuff, and I make a lot of money in two hours, and I dance on a streetcorner with a new friend, and I get all of next week's homework done in advance for my YAL class, and I find twenty dollars I forgot I had, and I suck up the grouchiness and make my bed, and then I feel better.

...I remember the boy from England who can't pronounce Tater Tots to save his life and also that he winks at me a lot, and I feel better about not being in England, cause he isn't either.

Take away message:

 (Cause randomness has to mean something. That is what they taught me in Lit Analysis, so it has to be true for the sake of my sanity. )

Ahem. Happiness is sometimes a precarious state of things. But we have more control of it than we realize most of the time. Happiness is hard work. Good thing I have a whole lifetime and that's the point of it.


*Dear family, I realize this is, as we used to say, pretty rich coming from me, the door slamming cusser with the tiny black soul filled with rage you all spent last weekend with. But I am making progress, so thanks for all the niceness and putting up with that psycho wielding a lawnmower in spite of the rage.  Y'all are great. Love you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Library Sleepers

Sometimes I am one of them. Like today. They just put pillows in the chairs lining the east windows, and that was a beautiful thing that turned out to be the arch nemesis of homework time. I had an hour and a half break between classes and sixty pages of Gulliver's Travels and rms errors to study and instead I took an hour and twenty minute nap. And the amazing thing about this is that I woke up and didn't even feel that guilty.

You hear that, mom? Not guilty. Boom. Roasted!

We're making progress. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Word Vomit and Why I Abstain, Courteously

Not in the usual sense of dumping any words on a page you might feel like at the time with no regard for applicability, coherence, or appropriate boundaries.

No, my friends, this is me realizing that I want to vomit because of the textbook that wants to teach me how to be an English Teacher. I just read a chapter on censorship that made me want to vomit. Such self-righteous language as I have never been fed from a legitimate source! Such self indulgent and exclusive Messiah complexes! Wowza!

I understand the point. We believe in the right to read.  I get it. I agree with it. I read a lot of stuff in school that wasn't necessarily 'appropriate' for my age group. I believe that being 'appropriate for an age group' is a subjective thing, and I certainly defined that for myself. That's cool. My parents were fine with it, and they were involved in it and I talked about a lot of it with either my parents or my teachers. Go Right to Read! Yay American Library Association!

 However, one small qualification: I absolutely believe in the right to read, and I absolutely believe in advocating the right to read for other people, especially children. What I don't support and can't understand is that a campaign which claims its purpose is to support the free thinking and trust the intelligence of the individuals they work for also refuses to accept the fact that these people may exercise that free thought and intelligence to choose not to read a work they find inappropriate or disturbing. The Right to Read is valid only when accompanied by The Right not to Read.

 I would like to think that I am not a close minded puritan who hates anything remotely offensive in literature. I read Les Miserables and Crime and Punishment and Beloved, for crying out loud. I had no problem with reading an uncensored text of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I support the sentiment as my Writing Professor expressed it; "If you're gonna be offended about something, be offended that this is rooted in history, that this type of thing existed to be written about in the first place." Truth. There is value in literature that contains things we may find offensive, immeasurable value. There is a reason I have never had an issue with reading the things he assigns. There is a reason we talk about things like racism, and violence, and as abhorrent as it is, there could even be a reason to use the N-word in a book. We should have the right to read.

But what if there isn't a reason? What if vulgarity, or obscenity, or extreme violence, and there isn't a purpose for it? What if there is a purpose but I just know that I'm not ready for it? What if those kids in high school who we hope are learning to think for themselves and make their own decisions actually do just that when they say "I believe that this material is degrading and offensive for no reason and I choose not to participate."? What if their parents decide with them that they are willing to say it out loud and find an alternative assignment? Maybe we should knock down our pride a notch or two, enough to realize that they are applying the critical thinking skills and independence we've been trying to teach them and get over ourselves enough to accept that they are doing it in ways we may not personally agree with. Maybe we respect that, or if you can't, suck it up anyway. 

This is all on a case by case basis, of course, There are absolutely students and parents who abuse that right not to read, who try to impose it on other students who have no problem with what they've been assigned, and that is a shame, and when it extends to the rights of others to read, then absolutely educators should fight such attempts at censorship. But if a student chooses not to read something and has legitimate reasons and cares enough to address them with you, perhaps the respect and open-mindedness you've been preaching could go both ways. Maybe you could refrain from demeaning, belittling, and self aggrandizing vitriol. Perhaps you could recognize that 'censor' is not a term automatically synonymous with 'Beelzebub'.

I never realized before taking this class that the field might involve some things I have deep personal issues with. I didn't realize I might be one of those people they are preaching against in this book they made me pay for. And it makes me nervous. I didn't realize it might be such a difficult task to support the Right to Read and the Right to Abstain simultaneously, but maybe if I can pull it off, I'll have something to be proud of.

Though it is not always an option, and we don't want to be New York, sometimes it is appropriate to abstain, courteously. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


You know how female cops are stereotyped as being horrific and terrifying because they have something to prove? Well, I am going to extend the stereotype to female professors. Like a terrible person.

According to the world of academia, I'm allowed to be a terrible person because I am female. Seeing as how all the female educators preparing me to be a female educator are hateful, its going to take a lot of energy not to be unwittingly inducted into their clan of shrewishness. And that, my friends, is energy I just don't have today. Which we can all tell cause I am venting all my frustration to the internet and I'm going to hit the publish button.

And all my suspicions that I am not at all a feminist have finally been confirmed. Because I have never had any trouble with the men who teach my classes.  But the women are overwhelmingly catty and passive aggressive and elitist and unclear and impossible and vicious.

Also, I hate your reading assignments. I wonder what she'd say if my assigned video posting for banned books week actually supported the parents who cause all those headaches for teachers whose literature choices they despise. Because that book was terrible and also inappropriate and I would never make high school students read something that included that much graphic description of sexual activity.  Maybe I don't want to support all the banned books. Maybe some of them should be banned.

I'm breathing. And I'm going to show up to class and be pleasant. I'm going to!

My High School English Teachers followed the opposite trend. Does that mean I have hope?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Catastrophe of Epic Proportions

Keeping up with the Kardashians and Pretty Little Liars just showed up on my list of Netflix suggestions, just for me. Which means one of two things:

1) Their algorithms are royally screwed up.
2) I need to seriously reevaluate the nature of my media consumption.

Cause guys. They think I would watch that.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Sometimes I have this intense need to go to Walmart with Erin in the middle of the night. And I can't, but I still need change so I can do laundry. So I go by myself and buy the cheapest thing from the day old bakery section. And then I eat three crullers on the very short drive home. And I know what Erin would think about such extraneous carbohydrates so late at night so I pawn off the rest on all the random people who are watching a movie in my living room when I get home. And I feel closer to her, cause that's what Erin would do.

Now if only I had some salsa verde to smash all over the driveway. That'd be good.

The Happiness Calendar

I have a friend named Genevieve. She is twice as cool as her name if you can believe it. She can make me laugh harder in public than anyone else, and she uses words like "indelicate", and she cannot cartwheel.  And she is superwoman and kind of intimidating sometimes, because she has a book of a hundred and something things she wants to do in college and she sticks to it with the utmost dilligence. I've seen it. All the goals and their descriptions are written in a small book in pencil, and she retraces over them in pen as she completes them, and she has done a lot of stuff, my friends.

Last week we had our breaks at work at the same time and were sitting eating dinner together, and she was telling me about the last year when I was in North Carolina, and it was a rough year for her. And out of the difficulty was spawned a thing called "The Happiness Calendar". (Tell me she's not the most admirable woman in the world. You can't. Such positivism!) All it is is a tiny cheap calendar from Walmart and the rule is that she must write one thing that made her happy that day before she can go to sleep, even if it's really hard to think of anything. She just makes herself pick one.

Such a suggestion struck me like a lightning bolt. I thought, I must have a Happiness Calendar. To be able to look back at an entire huge period of time marked only by the things that made you happy? I need it. I told her I was going to do that. I thought, life is kind of rough, and I am kind of nervous and wandering around trying to figure out exactly what it is I'm doing and how exactly I plan to pay for that and just being lonely and afraid in general. And that's no way to live, but I have a hard time snapping out of it at times. This seemed the perfect solution.

So, needing a new planner, I bought one accompanied by a calendar, and I've been writing on it. And let me tell you, folks, that the majority of my days are still ones of fatigue, and discouragement, and uncertainty, and that balance that you have to find at the beginning of each new semester is not yet achieved. But I am inching slowly closer to the fulcrum, I think, and it has been eye-opening to take that calendar out and write down something that made me happy today. Not because it's hard to choose one, but that the instant I actually stop wallowing and think about it, it's impossible to pick from the streams of small miracles and tender mercies. It helps me to remember the things I love about Logan and why I wanted to come back here. And it helps me to realize that, even in the midst of my loneliness, most of those things that end up on the Calendar are people. Katie who I ran into on the Quad, and Alan who keeps me from falling asleep in the mornings at work, and Scotty who will teach me how to stretch my intensely painful right shoulder blade area, and Dr. McCuskey the professor who changed my life who I saw on the stairs (who looked at me and said, "Why  aren't you in my classes?"), and Erin who will leave me voicemails just to say she misses me. Life is hard, but the point is to surround each other with love and support, and my Happiness Calendar sessions are not only an excellent excercise in humility but a reminder that I'm not alone even if I feel like it.

Genevieve gets a spot tonight, I think. She gave me the way to remember all those things. It's almost like giving me all those things in one. I'm a lucky girl.

Everyone needs this. That is all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Also. This.

Because we are awesome. And very awkward. And we own it. Like Champions. Best Day Ever.

"If it looks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, it's Imperialism"

Once upon a time I locked my keys in my car outside the library at school. After extensive searching under my car looking like a loser, I concluded that my hide a key is no longer attached to the underside of my car and could be in any number of places spanning about three thousand miles. So I called the campus cops and sheepishly asked them to come break into my car for me, cause you can't do that with a credit card, and that's the only break-in I am any good at. Sigh...

While I was waiting for the cops to come save me, I called my twin Amy. I miss her and I needed someone to give me permission to drop the horrid grammar class. And I sat outside the library talking with her for a good long while about all manner of things; cabbages, kings, our parents, bratty teenagers, school, and eventually the George Orwell piece I had read for my persuasive writing class called Shooting an Elephant. I highly recommend anything written by George Orwell at least once*, and in this case a re-read would probably be in order. I was sharing with Amy the intense satisfaction I get from this class, which is taught by my second favorite professor who I love. He is hilarious and paces around the front of the classroom with growing intensity proportionate with the intensity of the literature we are currently analyzing. I love this man. And I took this class specifically so that I could take it from him and not some grad school hippie who doesn't care, which was a wise choice because this, this is just like the Lit History class that changed my life, but applied to writing. And it is brilliant. And even at seven thirty, it gives me an adrenaline rush that reminds me why I want to teach English! Dr. King! The Rhetorical Triangle! Characters symbolizing the conflict between Imperialism and the native oppressed! yesyesyesyesyesyesyes!**

Long Story short, Shooting an Elephant is the most damning evidence to Imperialism I've ever read, including everything I ever read in 19th Century British Lit. And it is brilliant and beautiful and gory and graphic in all the most effective ways, and now I sound like my crazy coffee-chugging floor pacing, cussing professor, who, after reading a specifically revealing passage, yelled "Excellent!" and then mutter under his breath as he paced away, "Syria...".

That's okay with me. I like him.

And I really like Amy, who is a really good egg, and a really good twin.*** And she plays along when I get all hyped up on English and says extremely quotebook worthy things. It was a good day.

* AKA nobody ever needs to read 1984 twice. As Crawford said, "And just when your soul starts to weep, it gets worse..."

**I miss Brighton. And the yesyesyes dance. That is all.

***Guys. Did you know I have a roommate named Amy? I am also one of five Amys in my ward. We're taking over the place.