EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Christian Jesters in the Kingdom of Heaven

In R[evol]ution, Thoughts on Christianity on December 13, 2012 at 6:39 am

The title says it all.

This was not the original post I intended to publish under this title, but why waste a perfectly good title! Originally, I planned to lambast Westboro Baptist Church, Chick-fil-A (I may get into that in another post….there’s quite a story there), and all manner of people who have (in my opinion) used Jesus to cover up some very shabby (to say the least) and not Christian beliefs. I was going to use a series of pointed catch words like hypocrite and Pharisee, along with the required stock phrases (“judge not lest ye be judged”).

Lightning bolt. Am I not also being pretty judgmental? Basically, all I planned on doing was pointing out a group of people and using scripture to say, HEY! SEE ME? MY BELIEFS ARE RIGHT! MY BELIEFS ARE FAR MORE JESUS-Y THAN YOURS. What a waste (though I am aware that I have passively aggressively done the very thing that I didn’t want to do).

This was all set in motion because one of my Twitter followers retweeted some tweets by a lady who is very much against the legalization of marijuana. I began to fall into my sanctimonious attitude while I read some of her tweets, planning on how to rip her a theological new one. Then, I began to read some of the derisive and dismissive responses she had already gotten. She responded to none of the them, and kept on tweeting.

Who am I to judge? How can I afford to waste time by showing off my Christian demi-hipsterism? She believes that her assignment is to inform people about the pitfalls of smoking weed. Am I the one to tell her that there are (in my opinion) far more important things to worry about? No. I am the one to concentrate on the path laid out before me, to complete the assignment that I am given, to judge the fruits of my labor.

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The Love I Never Lost

In Encouragement, Friendship, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on December 13, 2012 at 6:17 am

Two of my oldest childhood friends are on Facebook, and I have reconnected with each of them. They don’t know each other; it’s possible that neither will ever read this or know that I am talking about her. One of them I haven’t heard from in almost 20 years. I ran into the other by chance after many years of being apart. The honest truth is that it is difficult to pick up the thread of a childhood friendship where it left off. I am glad to be able to check on both of them and to know that they are both well. There was a time in my life when when I connected with each of them on a daily basis. Of each of them, I can say that she was my friend, my play sister, my closest confidante, my note passer, and my giggle buddy for a long time. She (each of them) eased my passing from one phase of life to another.

My father’s mother, who I called Granma Porter, died when I was about 5 or 6. She did not live in the same state as I, so our visits were planned. I don’t have very many clear memories of Granma Porter. I have snatches of watching TV at her house; of her reading on the porch; of her face. When I was very small, she would come and spend the summer with my parents and I. My mother tells me of how Granma Porter would talk me, in my stroller, with her for a walk everyday when she stayed with us. Somehow, from just these brief stories, I know that she loved me.

The love my friends shed on me and the love my Granma Porter wrapped me in has never been lost. The friendships have changed and faded and my grandmother is with the Lord. But, the love I received from them stays with me. On days when I am feeling less than, I remember that of all the things that I could have done, been, or had: I have done loving acts for, I have been loved by, I have had love from these people and countless others. This tells me many things: that I exist; that I have purpose; that I am lovable; that I am not fatally flawed. Oh, yes. I have been loved.

Rejection Solution

In Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on December 8, 2012 at 4:07 am

Total downer of a title, right?

But, it comes. It happens. Rejection. The insidious thing about rejection is that it makes an impression on you. It lasts for a while, and it comes in stages. There is the initial sting. The acceptance. The waves of it coming back. And, rejection can come from so many sources: strangers, family, friends, jobs, school, contests, FaceBook…the possibilities are truly endless.

But, here’s a word for the rejected: it gets better. It fades. It evaporates. It will atrophy. I promise you; after going through several different kinds of rejection, I have learned a couple of things about dealing with rejection.

The most important thing I have learned: DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. I know, I know. The facts are the facts: they/she/he/it didn’t want you; they/she/he it didn’t choose you; they/she/he/it decided that you weren’t “right” for whatever it was.

My problem was always that I took it personally. Because I wasn’t right for THAT, I just wasn’t right; there was something wrong with me; if I could fix that thing wrong with me, then next time I wouldn’t get rejected! My mind would take me through a pseudo-logical progression.

STOP. Stop your brain. Stop your own pseudo-logical progression. The facts are the facts and that’s all they are. You weren’t right for THAT. For a reason. Maybe you don’t know what that reason is right now. And, maybe you will not/do not agree with that reason. But, that’s all it is. You weren’t right for THAT. But, YOU ARE RIGHT. Your life is so much more than THAT. Everyday, wake up and JUST BE. Some people will tell you to look for something joyful or happy or affirming. No, I say: just be. Slowly, you will begin to feel the rightness of YOU. Breathe, eat, sleep, learn, talk, love: BE.

Just be.

Hair Racing

In Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on December 6, 2012 at 4:02 am

      

I was literally born with a head full of curly hair. Some of my earliest memories of my mother is of her combing my hair. Nearly every morning, she would open the can containing all the hair supplies and begin by pulling a wide tooth comb through my back-length curly frizz puff, moisturizing it with vitapointe, sectioning it off, and braiding it up neatly. The care that my mother took of my hair was a direct expression of how much she loved and still loves me. Also, she imparted to me the importance of taking care of and respecting my hair and myself.

Hair was easy then–my hair was cared for in whatever way my mother saw best. But, then I decided to take over the job of combing it. I was about 14 or 15 and my natural hair was a little beyond my shoulders. I starting pressing it and pulling it back into a huge ponytail, then wearing it down. Everyone had a relaxer back then, and I wanted one as well so that I could wear my hair straight with no problem. Mom wasn’t having it, though. I was teased for wearing my hair pulled back into ponytails and buns almost all the time and never going to the hairdresser. By the time I graduated from high school, my hair was nearly to my waist.

College was a time of change and experimentation–for my hair. I cut it short; I cut it shorter;  I wore an afro; I got a relaxer; I changed the color. Since college, I feel like I have been in a hair race to stay on the cutting edge of a hair care trend; of the newest wave of hair identity; of the right side of someone else’s opinion of my hair.

I’ve bought Shea Moisture, Paul Mitchell, Carol’s Daughter, clippers, scissors, clips, bows, curly pudding, curling milk, hair gel, spritz, FHI, hot tools, Aveda, coconut oil, shea butter, Vitapointe, Aphogee, intense deep conditioner, CHI infra treatment, ceramic tools, tourmaline tools, hair dryers, combs, and brushes. I am afraid to begin to add up the amount of money I’ve spent on hair care.

Today, I am relaxer free (because my hair was breaking off too much) and letting my hair grow out (because I missed my long hair). I’m currently pressing it (because I like wearing hats in the winter…..and I just like how my hair looks when it’s straight) and using some slightly expensive hair products (Nexxus and Aveda….because I like my hair to smell good and feel thick). That picture of me in the horrendous sweater vest is a recent picture; I like my hair–and, I realize that’s the important thing.

I had to tell myself NO today. No matter what the internet says, I am not going to worry myself by trying to learn the latest method to take care of my hair. No matter what the anyone else says, I am going to press/blow-dry/not press/twist out whenever I want. No matter what customer reviews tell me, I am not forking over money for any more styling tools or implements. No matter what some psychologist says, I am not going to tie my racial identity to the texture of my hair.

In the end, this all circles back to my mother. She told me today, “What your hair needs is whatever works.” When I was young, my hair was long, thick, and healthy. So, I think that what my hair (and I) need the most is love, caring for, and respect. Honey, you do whatever works best for you! If you don’t know what that is, stop the next woman you see who has healthy hair and ask her what she does that works. Then, once you find what works, don’t let anybody talk you out of it. This right here is about YOU and YOUR hair.

Former Teacher RANT

In Education, Somewhat disjointed rant... on December 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

I was bitter when I left education, but I never talked about it. I had great colleagues, great students, and great parents. I would never want my frustration to diminish the greatness of what I learned and the people I met and taught. What I lacked was a good employer. I worked for a school system in the state of Georgia. I direct all of my frustration at my former employer. On days when I’m not quite sure why I’m in law school, I think about all of the legally deplorable situations that I was in as a teacher–and suddenly, I become William Wallace. Let me explain why…

1. School systems cleverly pay teachers a salary, rather than paying them by the hour. The fact that I was paid a salary meant that I was due no overtime. Teacher conferences, PTA meetings, school events, plays, teacher workdays, and time spent preparing my classroom for students was not compensable EVEN IF IT EXCEEDED 40 hours per week. Even though I was essentially an hourly employee, with no ability to work flex time (I couldn’t come in an hour late and stay an hour longer, for instance). I once had a principal explain to me that all of that was calculated into my base salary. Right. Oh. Ok.

2. I never felt that I got the disciplinary support that I needed. I  had a student call me a man…several times…to my face. I once had a student rummage through my personal belongings. I experienced several instances of students bullying each other. None of these students (Manly, Rummagey, or the Bullies) were ever suspended or even sent to in-school suspension. I was once told that I CAN’T expect students not to do things like that. BUT, my employer expected me to be able to teach 3 courses to 2 grades at the same time (for the record, I was teaching SIX different subjects each with its own academic standards EVERY day). CAN’T? Right. Oh. Ok.

3. When I tried to institute my own disciplinary procedures, I got in even more trouble. Yeah, I said it. TROUBLE. Indeed. The students weren’t called to the office; but I sure was! Boy, oh, boy. I got called on the carpet for yelling; for things that I said to fellow teachers; for things that I should have said to fellow teachers; for being absent too much; for not sitting in chairs properly (really happened). But, when I send a student to the office for physically hitting another student? Naaaaaah, send him back to class. He’ll be just fine. Right. Oh. Ok.

4. Teacher’s contracts are terrible. Believe it or not, they’re about two pages long. They always refer to some blasted addendum. What ADDENDUM? It’s available upon request? I don’t know about that; now, I’m not a contracts law genius or anything but, it seems to me that the addendum should be furnished to each person who is in the acceptance process. Oh, it would cost too much to produce that many addenda? Well, maybe you should STOP TRYING TO PULL A FAST ONE ON YOUR EMPLOYEES BY SLIPPING EVERY ACCURSED THING INTO THE ADDENDUM. For me, not signing that last contract I received was a feeling of freedom like no other. There’s a copy of the addendum in the media center? Right. Oh. Ok.

5. Pay teachers a living wage. Period. Many of my colleagues had second jobs and side hustles. Being a teacher COSTS a lot of money. From markers, to transparencies, to posters,  to educational games, teachers buy and/or make a lot of things in their classrooms. That’s money that they will never see again, because it’s not like anyone is going to buy all of that stuff from them. Teachers who retire or leave the profession do the same thing I did when I left: I GAVE THINGS AWAY. Was all that captured in my salary, too? Right. Oh. Ok.

6. IEPs are a serious thing. Students who need individualized education plans deserve the same quality of education as every other student. I’m not quite sure how a triplicate form with check-boxes on it could be individualized, but let’s pretend that such  a form is individualized. It seems to me that the teachers who teach the student should have an overwhelming voice (along with the parents) regarding which boxes are checked. But, no. An IEP (in my experience) is not collaborative document of a collaborative process. It is a mere CYA formality so that the employer can say: HERE IT IS. All the while, however, the teachers are left with very little support to help a student who needs and deserves help. But, it will all turn out ok in the end! Right. Oh. Ok.

If I seem frustrated and angry, that’s because I am. My employer treated me terribly, and expected me to thank them for it. I was sad to leave the kids and my colleagues. But, now, the school systems of Georgia can do nothing to me; I know all of their tricks; I’ve seen all of their cards; I am familiar with all of their mis-truths. I am outside of the box. But, justice is calling.

First AND LAST warning (on a slightly unrelated note): HOW ABOUT YOU SCHOOL SYSTEMS POST A PANEL OF PHYSICIANS WHERE TEACHERS CAN SEE IT?