Rants

2016 Year in Review

Now that we are firmly ensconced in 2017, I finally feel like I can write this post. I think we can all agree that 2016 was just a weird year. The negativity just seemed to get worse and worse and worse as the year went on, and there was a lot to be legitimately unhappy about in the year 2016. It’s interesting for me because in a year of so much hate and anger and sadness, I made one of the best decisions of my life, and personally speaking, I am the happiest I have ever been. So I promise, this post is going to end on a high note. But as Dolly Parton would say, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. Let’s tackle the enigma (sadly not wrapped in a riddle or cash…high five if you got that reference) that was 2016.

I was bullied out of my job.

Honestly, I have been grappling with how to share this story for months, and I still don’t know that I can do it justice. I wanted to get to a point where I was emotional enough that the story made an impact, but not so emotional that it didn’t have perspective. I don’t know if I’m in that place yet, but I’m going to try. I might go into more details about this situation at a later date, or I might not, but some form of this needs to be out in the universe. Here’s the sitch: For those of you who don’t know, I spent the last eight years teaching both junior high and high school. In the beginning I was just teaching English, but for the last four years, I also got to teach theater, which was my dream job. The school I was teaching theater at is located in the kind of neighborhood where parents are overly involved in their children’s lives, and it happens to be in a suburb of LA semi-famous for shooting out teen and tween stars (like Ashley Tisdale and Taylor Lautner, to name a few). In my junior high theater program I had kids who were legit working actors, on both stage and screen. To say that the parents were challenging would be the understatement of the century. However, for the first two years I had an extremely supportive administration whose bottom line was basically smile and nod to their face and then do whatever the hell you want (you know, since I am the one with a degree and credential). When we got a new assistant principal and principal, that attitude changed. The motto became “If the parents complain about something, you change your program to make them happy.”

It sucked. And I was miserable. I was verbally abused and threatened by multiple parents, and the response of my administration was always, “Let it go”. My final year, things got pretty bad. My AP called myself and my theater teaching partner in to a meeting and accused me of going behind her back and deliberately disobeying a direct order from her. I had proof that I had not done that, because she did not give the order in the first place. When our principal was confronted with this information, he lied and said he was responsible for the miscommunication. I also had proof of his lie. When it came time for me to be evaluated by this AP–who despite the proof could not bring herself to, I don’t know, apologize for calling me a liar and placing restrictions on my program that were not in place for anyone else’s–I asked to be evaluated by someone else. My principal refused my request. I sat through multiple evaluations with the AP who had lied and accused me of something I didn’t do and listened to her tell me that my students had no direction and no purpose (even after they won multiple awards for their work). She observed me one day teaching a lesson that was mandatory for our elective department and then asked me why I would have her come in on that day since the lesson did not relate to my subject (so maybe then, don’t make me teach it?). Every one of her evaluations had comments in it that were in direct conflict with our contract and the stipulations of teacher evaluations. And she topped it off by telling me that after eight years of teaching, and four years of running the most successful junior high drama department our district had seen, that I did not meet the minimum standards of teaching.

As an added bonus on top of the bullying, I also got deal with some sexism, because why not?!?! When I told my principal I was resigning at the end of the year he said, “If that is the decision your husband and you have made then I understand.” Let’s just imagine a principal saying to a male teacher, “If that is the decision your wife and you have made, then I understand.” Right. In addition, the male performing arts teacher on campus did not have to comply with any of the rules that were enforced for my program.

I don’t like to use the bullying term lightly. As a former teacher, I have seen the effects of actual bullying, and I have dealt with both kids and parents inappropriately using the term. But I was bullied out of my job. I sent a file folder full of documents proving wrongdoing on the part of my administration to my union and never heard a word about it. In the end, I knew the only way I was going to be happy was the remove myself from the situation. So I did. I gave up my dream job because an assistant principal targeted me and didn’t relent. The sad thing is it’s only a matter of time before she’s promoted.

Okay, that was a little heavier and more detailed than I originally intended so let’s break this up with some positivity! I was bullied out of my job, but it turns out….it was the best thing that ever happened to me!

Some Highlights from my First Six Months as a Work at Home Mom:

I get to spend every day with my kid. We go to Disneyland once a week. I get to work with amazing couples on the happiest day of their lives. I have a job that allows me to be creative. I get to make my own schedule. I trained my toddler to sleep in until 9:30. I can go to Starbucks whenever I want. I don’t have to change out of my PJ’s if I don’t feel like it. During Squirt’s nap time I can lay in bed and read a book. Or take a nap. Or work on my blog. Or craft. Or watch crappy TV. I finally feel like writing again. I can stay up late. I don’t have a boss. I am not constantly worrying about pleasing other people. I get to see Squirt grow and learn and change and progress. When I have to pee, I go to the bathroom, like right then. I do what I want. Oh, and I am not completely fucking miserable every day.

The 2016 Election (aka Back to the Shitty Stuff).

I don’t think I have anything poignant to say on this topic that hasn’t already been said by people much more eloquent than I am. But here goes. I never imagined I would sit on my couch and cry watching the results of an election. It wasn’t even just November 8th that I cried. I cried multiple times in the following days, not just because Trump won, but because people in my family, that I know and love actually voted for him. That was the hardest thing to come to terms with. How can people who I know are good people put aside the rights of others, the rights of people in our own family, for a tax break? Because that’s how the moderate Trump supporters justify themselves. Trump is going to do wonders for the economy. We’re all going to have so much more money after he cuts taxes. Even if I’m a millionaire by 2020, it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing basic human rights (and tax cuts don’t turn anyone into millionaires). It is really, really hard for me to talk about these issues with my family because they just don’t get it.

I was raised in a very well off suburb of LA (see description of where I taught, above). In comparison to my classmates, we were poor. My mom was a single mom with three kids. She didn’t make a lot of money, and I had less than almost every person I went to school with. But we also weren’t actually poor. We always had a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. We were definitely different from most of our friends, and I’m not taking anything away from my mom’s struggles, she worked her ass off to support us. But that doesn’t change the fact that we still grew up in a white, middle class neighborhood. In the entire 6th grade of my elementary school, I was one of two kids with divorced parents. There was one African American girl in my grade in elementary school and no Hispanics. I grew up in the epitome of the bubble. My extended family all traces back to Oklahoma and the south. I had ancestors on the second boat from England to America. I had ancestors who were slave owners. I remember my great grandfather using racial slurs liberally. My family members told racist jokes at holidays and we all laughed.

These were all things that I knew, they were just my life.I would never have dreamed of calling anyone a racist name. I would not have let an initial racially based judgment form my entire opinion of a person. But I would be a big fat liar if I said I didn’t make those judgments–I did. Mothers on welfare? Lazy. Hispanic kid falling asleep in class? Doesn’t care about his education. If a cop shot a black guy, then he obviously did something to provoke the action. I had always been liberal when it came to gay rights, probably stemming from my background in theater and the fact that I had several gay friends in high school and in my theater career in college. But I would not have been someone to stand up for immigrants or for the poor or for women who need access to Planned Parenthood. Teaching completely changed my perspective on politics. I saw and heard more heartbreaking stories than I could even begin to express here. Basically, teaching allowed me to see the perspectives of hundreds of people who were not like me. I had been making judgments based off of my American experience, and it didn’t really occur to me that others had a different story to tell. The problem with America right now is there’s a whole lot of talking and hardly any listening. Think about it: When was the last time you sat down with someone with a completely different background and upbringing and asked them what it was like? When was the last time you listened to someone’s struggles and put yourself in their shoes? Listening to and acknowledging someone else’s struggles does not diminish your own, but I feel like that is the most common defense. “Well, I didn’t have to use food stamps so why should she?” Maybe because she is not you. How about you ask her why, hear her story, instead of judging her.

I am TERRIFIED of what Trump might be able to do in his presidency. But I’m even more scared of the power of the people who voted for Trump. Are they all terrible, horrible people who are going to go out and commit hate crimes? Of course not. But by voting for Trump, you made it okay for others to do just that, and plenty of people already have and will continue to do so.


Positive Things That Came Out of the 2016 Election:

Okay, there aren’t that many. But there’s always a good side to look at. Thousands of people have spoken out in support of those who now feel unsafe in our country. People have rallied around their friends and neighbors. The majority of voters in our country voted for a female President. People like me, who may have stood quietly by in the past, have found their voice. Millenials–God bless ’em!–proved to be exceedingly in support of Hillary both in the polls (as this map shows) and on election day. So there is hope for the future.

The Death of Carrie Fisher.

I did not expect to be so affected by Carrie’s death. My love for Star Wars is a new thing, so I did not grow up idolizing Princess Leia like so many others did. My brother was a SW fan so I saw the movies often enough in passing, but it wasn’t until recently that I developed my own love for the films. I was sad to hear about Carrie because I know for many girls she was their first example of a strong, intelligent, brave, headstrong, kickass female role model. And I wish I had had that. Maybe if I had idolized Carrie Fisher I would have been more likely to stand up for myself on the countless occasions I have been sexually harassed throughout my life. Maybe I would be able to put myself out there more without fearing judgment from others, or try new things more often, or I wouldn’t just let people walk over me. Obviously, I don’t know if anything in my life would have changed if I had grown up with Carrie Fisher in my life, but the impact she made on the world in terms of feminism and mental health issues cannot be denied. RIP Carrie.

Photo courtesy of Disney


The Only Good Thing (So Far) That I Know of to Come Out of Carrie’s Passing:

A whole new audience is going to watch her movies and hopefully be inspired by her message both on and off screen. Her books are going to reach a new market of people (I ordered The Princess Diarist on Amazon about a week ago and it was the top selling book, and on back order) and they will hopefully look at mental health issues in a new light.

Are you depressed now? If so, I’m sorry. But I would like to end on this final (positive) note: Despite the shittiness that is going on in the world–not just in America, but everywhere–there is always good to be found. Mister Rogers used to talk about how his mom always told him to look for the helpers when there was a scary situation. The new incarnation of Mister Rogers, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, dedicated an episode to this statement with a song reminding kids (and adults) to “Look for the Helpers”. Remember that there are always helpers. Look for those people. Surround yourself with those people. And when you can, be those people. 2017, don’t let us down.

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Things That Have Pissed Me Off Lately

Hello readers and welcome to another Monday. I figured a Monday is a great day for a super ranty post about everything pissing me off lately. Things are going pretty great for me right now so not sure why I’m so impatient these days, but I’m not going to fight the feelings, I’m just going to put it out into the world so you all can feel annoyed too. You’re welcome. Things that are really pissing me off right now:

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Inconsiderate people in the Starbucks Drive Thru. The idea for this post stemmed as I was waiting in line in the Starbucks drive thru that recently opened near my house. I’m going to assume that since the drive thru is new to our area, that is why people have no idea how to use it. So hopefully all my neighbors are reading this so they can learn. The drive thru is for people who are in a hurry. The drive thru is for people who want to get in and get out. The drive thru is for people who don’t have time to get out of their cars. The drive thru is not for people ordering ten frappucinos. The drive thru is not a place for you to have a conversation with the barista. The drive thru is not a place for you to explore the menu. If your order takes longer than thirty seconds to relay to the drive thru operator, you don’t belong in the drive thru.

Unavailable Podcasts. I really hate when I get in my car for a long drive, excited to listen to my favorite podcasts, and when I hit play my phone tells me the podcast is unavailable. Why you gotta play me like that iTunes?

Parents Who Don’t Support Their Children. This one stems from a recent wedding where some of the groom’s family, including his father, decided not to come. Now I obviously have no idea what the circumstances were behind the decision, but I don’t really care. As a parent, you should want your child to be happy. Period. And if your kid is happy (and in a healthy, non-abusive relationship), you shut up and be there for them. This one is a hot button for me as I have known several people in my life whose parents cut them out when they told their parents they were gay. And I have actually had people say to me in the past that I would understand why the parents acted that way once I had a child of my own. Well, the opposite is true mother effers. Now that I have a kid of my own, I cannot believe that there are parents who would cut ties with their kid because of who they love. My kid could murder someone and I would still be there to support him (after expressing some serious disappointment, obvs).

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People Who Knock Hamilton. Ugh. So you want to be that person. You want to find fault with the most popular and acclaimed musical of all time. Cool story. Can you give me one legit reason (like can be substantiated with evidence reason) why? Here’s what I’ve heard: It’s too long. False. It’s shorter than several popular musicals, including Les Mis. Also, it just means more awesomeness to love. The choreography is weird. It’s called contemporary and it’s different, and ground-breaking. Oh, and it won the Tony. The raps are simplistic. This one came from someone who actually claims to have seen the play, but obviously doesn’t understand what the word simplistic means. Here are some of the words used in raps in Hamilton: ascendancy, manumission, venerate, inimitable, quagmire, parapet, reticent, intransigent, polymath, and diametrically. If you can use each of those words in a sentence, then you can call Hamilton simplistic. Also, the next time you are writing a historical musical, make sure you throw in multiple direct references to American documents written before the year 1810 and at least one quote from Shakespeare. Suck it.

This Season of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Snooze. Fest. I’m so bored of all the non-conflicts, and I am over Teresa.

The Way Some Women Reacted to Donald Trump’s Recorded Conversation. Approximately zero percent of the population was surprised to hear Donald Trump saying he feels comfortable grabbing women without their permission. Not exactly a surprise. What is surprising is to hear some women defend, and even celebrate those comments. Those women must be super special unicorn women who have never been degraded by a man’s words before. I remember the first time a guy made a sexually explicit comment to me. I was twelve. A boy who shall remain nameless because we have Facebook friends in common came up to me during PE and told me that all the boys in class would get together to watch me run and then talk about my boobs (saying I developed early would be an understatement). It was the first time I can remember feeling ashamed of my body. I didn’t even really understand the full context of what he said, I just knew that I felt humiliated, and that I was obviously doing something to encourage them. Like I was responsible for them standing around and watching me, and then talking about me. So if you think locker room talk is no big deal, you’re wrong. It’s been over twenty years since I heard that comment and I remember it in great detail. And I have had body image issues ever since that moment. If you are a woman condoning those comments, you’re seriously pissing me off.

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Bad Drivers Are Always Pissing Me Off. I spend a lot of time on the road on some of the most crowded freeways in the country. If you are going the speed limit in the fast lane, you’re pissing me off. If you turn or change lanes without signaling, you’re pissing me off. If you cut people off, you’re pissing me off. If you don’t know how to merge, you’re pissing me off.

I actually feel a little bit better! I hope I didn’t entirely ruin your Monday. Feel free to vent to me about what is pissing you off in the comments.

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Dear Everyone, Please Stay Out of My Uterus

Okay, friends, I have a feeling I am going to be doing a lot of ranting in the upcoming weeks. There are just a lot of things about people that piss me off (#sorrynotsorry…also #sorrynotsorry for that obnoxious hashtag). I will try to space out the publishing of these rants so that they don’t interrupt my normal content too much. But please feel free to leave me your honest thoughts in the comments. I promise I will respond!

Today’s Rant: Do not ask women (any women!) when they are going to be having kids.

Literally, the number two question I am asked when chatting with well-meaning strangers/acquaintances/Facebooky friends (after “How’s Squirt?”) is “When are you guys going to have number two?” Kind of like the first question I got from said group of people before Squirt was born: “When are you guys going to have kids?” I have SO MANY problems with these questions. So I made a list.

  1. First and foremost, it is noneya damn business. For reals. Think about the questions being asked here. Do you want to know the last time my husband and I banged without using protection? Do you want an inside look at the state of my uterus? ┬áDo you want a report from my OB? Like seriously, you might as well ask me the last time I pooped and if I have regular bowel movements. It’s basically the same thing.
  2. I don’t feel like explaining to you my (and Matt’s) totally legitimate reasons for not wanting another kid. Trust me, we’ve talked about it. A lot. And right now, it’s not for us. Just take my word for it, we have our reasons, and I don’t feel like explaining them to you. If we change our minds and decide to have number two, you can find out about it on Facebook like the rest of the world.
  3. How do you know we are not already trying? If you take away nothing else from this post, let it be this: Most people do not broadcast to the world when they are trying to conceive, let alone if they are trying to conceive and it’s not working. So there is a good chance that the woman you are asking these questions of is trying to get pregnant. Maybe she can’t. Maybe it’s taking longer than she wants. Maybe she just had a miscarriage. Maybe she just peed on her 800th stick this morning and it was negative. Maybe trying to get pregnant has been a painful experience for her and SHE DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
  4. You don’t know more about my life and family than my husband and me. Don’t try to convince me to have another kid because you think it’s the right thing to do. Are you going to pay for said kid to go to college? Are you going to carry him or her around for nine months and then have major surgery to get him or her out (Oh, you didn’t know in order for me to have another child I would have to have another C-section? Didn’t ask about that?)? Are you going to be up every three hours for three months feeding and changing my newborn? Will you be there to break up the fights between Squirt and that sibling he NEEDED to have? If you answered no to any of those questions, then you don’t get a vote.
  5. Do you want to be asked super personal questions? I’m not going to go up to every 60ish woman I see and ask her how menopause is going, and I imagine most people would probably agree with that. What’s happening in my body is between me and my husband.

I understand that the vast majority of people asking these questions mean well and do not have harmful intentions. I promise that I do get that. I know for a fact that I have asked these questions myself. And if you are one of the dozens of people who has asked me these questions, I don’t hold it against you, and I’m not mad at you. I am, however, tired of explaining very private family situations to people who don’t know me well enough to earn an explanation (now seems like a good time to add that if we are legit friends, like hang out and know real shit about each other, this post does not apply to you). And I am tired of women being subjected to these questions when trying to conceive has been difficult for them. I did not have trouble getting pregnant, and I am so thankful for that. But I did have a miscarriage very early on in our getting pregnant experience (I just had to stop myself from writing “journey”, bleh). And when I had the miscarriage, like five people knew about it. So when it had been a month since I lost the baby and people were asking me when I was going to have kids, it sucked. And they didn’t know, and so I get it, but the whole situation could have been avoided if they hadn’t asked in the first place.

So the next time you are chatting with a newlywed or parents with one young child and you get the urge to pry, check yo self. If they want you to know about their future plans, they’ll tell you. Maybe instead of asking when baby number two is coming, you should ask when you can babysit baby number one. I promise, that question will be much better received.

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