on the subject of my uterus

The irony of my life:

Me: I’m 37 years old, I refuse to go back on birth control, and I give zero fucks if I my increasingly ridiculous periods cause me to bleed through my pants. The world can just fucking deal with the reality that women menstruate.

My doctor, literally two months later: Your biopsy indicates that you have precancerous cells in your uterus. If you want to have children, we can put you on progesterone and do another biopsy in a few months, but I recommend a hysterectomy.

Me, literally four seconds later: So long Betsy. Like your namesake, you are worthless, an interminable presence, and have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Unlike your namesake, you will actually be removed. Go into the light.


on school shootings

Twelve years ago, when I began my teaching career, it occurred to me that what I need most from society, in particular the parents of the students I teach, is that they love their children more than I love their children.
It’s quite simple, really. There is only so much I can do, seeing as I only see any one child for, on average, one hour a day. Hence, as much as I love my students (and I do, as love is very much a verb), it’s imperative that parents love their children more.

So today I’m sitting in what’s called Active Shooter Training. Some of the ideas presented were fairly logical and reasonable, and others struck me as being faintly ridiculous. But what struck me the most is that there may be some tacit assumption that teachers, as a general rule, are willing to die for their students.

Twelve years ago, I believed that I would die for any student. Now, I can say with certainty that I would not. I am no less passionate than I was twelve years ago, and I am definitely better at teaching and even at caring about my students than I was twelve years ago. But I need the adults in this country to care about their children more than I do. And as long as there’s resistance to even a modicum of gun control, the message to me is loud and clear: it’s okay to sacrifice our children for the privilege of having access to not only handguns and hunting rifles, but to guns that are explicitly designed to kill other human beings. And why shouldn’t I follow the rest of the country’s lead?

A colleague of mine made an important point today. The call to arm teachers is the height of hypocrisy in this nation. The majority of school shooters are students themselves. This means that, if teachers were to be armed, we would also be expected to be willing to shoot one of our own current or former students. My fellow American citizens, if you think that teachers should be armed in order to potentially take down a school shooter, take a good hard look in the mirror, because you are asking us to protect your own children, but are you also asking us to kill your children if they are the ones who make the decision to pick up a gun?

on anthems and irony

Irony is a difficult concept to teach. When I present the concept to students, I define it as what happens when the reality (or truth) is right in front of someone but he, she, they are unable to see it. Students struggle with this definition, so I often add another definition, that of irony being the opposite of what is expected occurring.

Students still struggle with it. They can’t really be blamed for it, seeing as it’s a concept that is lost on so many people who are far older than they.

There are those in the country of which I am a citizen who are clutching their pearls so tightly that their fingers are bleeding. And all of this over a scrap of cloth. Perhaps I am being undiplomatic, but it strikes me as being the perfect example of irony, the kind of irony that is most important but perhaps most difficult to understand, that of being unable to see a reality that is right in front of us.

Taking a knee, raising a fist, or remaining seated during the playing of the U.S. national anthem has drawn vitriolic criticism, the kind that has me raising an eyebrow because, as far as I know, none of these athletes has taken a match to the flag. Yet, there are those who have taken to burning the jerseys of certain NFL players in their own form of protest.

For a moment, my eyes just rolled at the news that His Fraudulency had taken to Twitter and ranted about the protests in the NFL and the NBA. Couldn’t people see, I wondered, that this was nothing but a distraction from real issues? And how can people be so angry that a certain NHL team is taking the obsequious route? I’d have to be angry to be surprised, and it’s not so surprising that a sport that is 93% white would treat this type of controversy as if it were radioactive. (And, if I’m being painfully honest, I too have bitten my tongue and fallen in line to ensure my own job security). But then I learned I could still be surprised at the words that His Fraudulency uses (and that is an irony that I really shouldn’t be caught by).

It’s not simply the fact that His Fraudulency used words that are blatantly misogynistic. It is not simply the fact that His Fraudulency is over-stepping his bounds by calling for the firing of players who protest (is anyone entitled to a job as a professional athlete? No. Are they entitled to exercise their First Amendment rights? Yes.) It is the irony of those who cry out that the flag and the armed forces and the country are being blatantly disrespected, but who do not condemn the man who used language that violated the dignity of the presidency and blatantly insulted and degraded citizens of the United States, the man who refused to call white supremacists what they are, but who used degrading language towards those who exercised rights guaranteed to them as American citizens.

For nine years I taught in a school in which the Pledge of Allegiance was recited on a daily basis. The day of the Sandy Hook massacre was the last time I recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Occasionally, students would ask why I wouldn’t recite. I would only reply that I had my reasons that I didn’t wish to share. I deflected because I was afraid my anger would spill over.

In the ensuing years, I have studied the history of education, read about how the Pledge of Allegiance was used to indoctrinate children who had been ripped away from their families and forced into boarding schools, all in an effort to “kill the Indian and save the man.” And I thought my anger was threatening to spill over, erupt and burn me from the inside out.

It’s only been in the past few days that I’ve been able to see the truth. And I can’t speak for those who are choosing to protest, but I suspect that they, like me, are not the petulant fools taken over by anger and resentment that some would think they are.

If they’re anything like me they’re unable to stand because their hearts are broken in pieces before them, pierced through and shattered because of the lies we were told all our lives.

teaching high school...

It’s the third day of school, and in comes a grumpy student who was working her crap minimum wage lunchmeat slinging job until 2 AM. I wonder aloud if this is legal. Other students indicate that it is, for anyone who is sixteen or older (my research indicates that this is true, not surprising considering that I live in one of the more ridiculous of the fifty embarassments). I then begin a mini-rant about how this country seems to have forgotten the efforts of the last 100 years (twas mild, of course, considering the stupidity of approximately fifty percent of the registered voters in this country). Then one of my students interjects, and before I get to her spot-on comment, let me first say that this was a student who came into the alternative school where I work lacking in confidence about her academic abilities a year ago. But anyway, she’s all “It’s not that people have forgotten, Ms. _______, it’s that employers don’t care about people,” and I’m all Merry Christmas in August.


I have a tendency to agree with Louden Wainwright:

A brother needs a sister
To watch what he can do,
To protect and to torture,
To boss around—it's true
But a brother will defend her
For a sister's love is pure,
Because she thinks he's wonderful
When he is not so sure.

Although I noticed he doesn't include the sister's perspective in the lyrics. If nothing else, brothers are good for comedy gold:

Me: I very nearly stepped on a praying mantis a few minutes ago.

My brother: Well, it was probably praying that you wouldn't step on it.

(no subject)

So the single greatest joke (most satirical, best pun ever) is not reaching enough people. This is from Vine Deloria Jr’s book, Custer Died for Your Sins.

Popovi Da, the great Pueblo artist, was quizzed one day on why the Indians were the first ones on this continent. “We had reservations,” was his reply.

Right on this joke’s heels, in second place (from the same book):

During the 1964 elections Indians were talking in Arizona about the relative positions of the two candidates, Johnson and Coldwater. A white man told them to forget about domestic policies and concentrate on the foreign policies of the two men. One Indian looked at him coldly and said that from the Indian point of view it was all foreign policy.

Shakespeare couldn’t reach such levels, y’all.

books meme

1. Hardback or paperback? This really depends on the book. I’d say what’s more important is the size of the book and the purpose. For instance, why were my science textbooks in college printed on high quality paper when that stuff is frequently updated while my English anthologies, containing works of literature that, y’know, don’t change, printed on cheap paper? I mean, we know why, but still…

2. Borrow or buy? Borrow usually, but cheap ebooks have made it more likely that I’ll buy.

3. Fantasy or sci-fi? Sci-fi

4. Love-triangle or love at first sight? Yeah, fanfiction has raised the bar, so really? Neither.

5. Wall shelves or bookcases? I’m such a slob that I don’t have either.

6. Bad plot with good characters or good plot with bad characters? Well, if one is really good it can make me forgive the other being neglected, but if the characters aren’t at least relate-able, I’m likely to abandon the story.

7. Harry Potter or Percy Jackson? I’ve only read Harry Potter

8. Booklr or bookstagram? Well, what is with these newfangled contraptions?

9. Contemporaries or fantasy? Contemporaries

10. English books or books in your native language? Generally English, as English happens to be my first language. However, sometimes a book in French is easier to understand than a book in English, as is the case with Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics.

11. Buy in a bookshop or buy online? Online, because I live about 100 miles from a bookshop. Also, online offers almost everything either used or in ebook form, which tends to be less expensive.

12. Amazon or Book Depository? The internet tells me that Amazon has eaten Book Depository. I am such a whore to capitalism that I didn’t even know.

13. Buy because of the cover or because of the description? Description, always. The cover can be a good hook, but does not seal the deal.

14. Alphabetical shelves or colour coordinated? If I had shelves, it would be by genre or size.

15. different sized books or matching sizes? Different sized

16. Wait to marathon a series or read as they’re released? Usually read as they’re released

17. Movie or tv adaptations? Usually neither.

18. Zombies or vampires? I am burned out on both of these, though seeing a unique spin on one can pull me in.

19. Reading indoors or outdoors? Indoors.

20. Coffee or tea? Yes.

21. Bookmarks or random objects to mark your page? Random objects.

22. Dog-earing or bookmarks? Bookmarks

23. Be your favourite character or be their best friend? I don’t usually play favorites.

24. Physical or e-book? Increasingly ebooks, because they are often cheaper, are in my hands in literal seconds, take up less space in a carry-on, and don’t get lost in my house. This is especially good when it comes to textbooks. The major drawback is that it’s much more annoying to “flip through” an ebook, especially if I’m trying to find notes for class.

25. Read in bed or on a chair? On a chair. I can’t get into a comfortable position reading in bed. I also just prefer to keep the bed for two purposes, neither of which is reading.

26. Audiobook or ebook? This is a strange choice because they have different purposes to me. Audiobooks are for driving or if one isn’t into reading or has some difficulty/disability. I love reading, don’t have a visual disability, and don’t spend a lot of time driving on long-distance trips, so ebooks.

27. Series or stand-alones? If I have to choose, I’ll choose stand-alones. I read series as well though.

28. Reading in the winter or reading in the summer? I read year-round.