I wish I could tell you what was happ’ning in his brain…

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This is clearly the workings of a semi mad-woman.  I’ve had such a difficult time planning trips lately.  I’m not sure what it is.  My anxiety comes flaring to life suddenly and my finger hovers hesitantly over the “complete your purchase” button.  It takes me days to book flights.  When did this happen?  I used to book my travel, not with frivolity, but with much less…color coded paperwork.  Sure I’d make lists of things to do with prices and times, but this slightly obsessive, day planned, google-mapped location saved, color-coded mess of a calendar is not my typical style.

I noticed the difficulty start when I was planning my trip to Southeast Asia this past summer.  I didn’t even book my flights until maybe a month out.  The trip did bring me a lot of anxiety.  Solo travel in countries with total culture shock, I wasn’t sure I would be able to figure it all out.  I kept telling myself and everyone around me, “It’s a backpacking trail.  They will be used to tourists.  I’ll be ok.”  I had never had such profound reluctance or anxiety for a trip.

It’s continued on to my planning for this domestic vacation.  I’m not sure what it is.  I can’t seem to visualize what I want to do or when I want to do it without putting it all on a calendar.  I’ve never “saved” locations on google maps either, but for some reason, for this trip it seemed to be a necessity.  I’m not sure what that is.  Maybe it’s inherent of something that I can’t recognize in myself yet.  Or the effect of something I’ve been digging up in therapy.  I’m glad that I’m still able to push through the anxiety mess and travel.  That’s one thing I’m incredibly proud of.  No matter how scared or anxious I get, I will always travel.  There’s too much of the world to see to spend my life scared and afraid.

I’m going to change gears for a minute, but it still fits within the title so I don’t feel the need to make two posts back to back.

If it isn’t apparent from my other posts, I work in a school.  I have two aides in my classroom who help with the daily running of our room and support my students and myself.  I could not run my room without them.  I could do nothing without them.  A fact which I tell them on a daily basis.  I have spent my year making sure to thank them sincerely and often for their effort and their work.  We’ve developed a good, or what I thought was a good, report in the classroom.  I speak to them openly and honestly about work and our personal lives.

My students run a business and we have a cash register in the room.  I opened it on Monday and it looked weird to me.  My head immediately went to custodial.  I called my co-teacher and had her look also.  She also thought it looked a little short.  We count our money, but we hadn’t since Wednesday of the week before due to a snow day and then being backed up with paperwork and losing track.  I wrote a note to custodial and left it taped to the whiteboard above the garbage cans as I thought that’s where they’d see it.  One of my staff members noticed it and we chatted about it for a minute.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I took Tuesday off.  I got messages throughout the day that it had somehow turned into a bigger deal than it should have been.  All because I had to be a sassy cunt and leave a note.

Wednesday morning, I spoke with my assistant principal.  She told me to pull my staff and speak to them as they were upset.  This was news to me.  What did they have to be upset about?  Turns out, they both think that I passive-aggressively, in front of them, with them in the room, accused them both of taking the money.  One of my staff members somehow interpreted me showing them the register key on my key ring (in case someone purchased a card when I was out) meant that I was offering them to take money from the register for personal reasons and that greatly offended them.  They then thought that the register key was in fact NOT on my key ring…it was.  I didn’t remove it.

Then they thought that I just flat out didn’t talk to them about it.  I sincerely thought we had briefly talked about it, but that it wasn’t a bigger deal because I was clearly thinking it was custodial who took whatever money was missing…again, we aren’t even sure what was missing…or if anything was truly missing…it was just a feeling.  Intuition.  BUT I NEVER THOUGHT IT WAS MY STAFF.

They are both so utterly upset with me and I don’t know what to do.  I’ve apologized twice.  Sincerely and from the heart.  I’ve told them that I respect them as professionals and appreciate their help and never ever ever meant to offend them.  I am flabbergasted that that is where their heads went.  I thought that by mid-February they would know me better than that. I thought that if they were upset, they’d approach me, like I would approach them…instead, I had to be told by my administrator that my staff was angry with me.

I’m incredibly upset.  I feel like it’s one thing after another lately.  That no one actually knows me.  Or understands where I’m coming from.  That everything I say is wrong, or upsetting or offending someone.  That people that I work closely with on a daily basis, for almost a year now, could possibly think that I would accuse them of anything, especially without talking to them first.

To top it all off, my administration was insistent that I formally write up another staff member who allowed two students who are wanderers/runners to transition independently without her watching them (or with her watching from a great distance, from which she could do nothing if she needed to).  At their insistence, I did.  Today, they told her I am the one who wrote her up.  Isn’t that not a thing that’s supposed to happen?

It’s been an upsetting day.  An upsetting week.  An upsetting month.  And I am not ok.

2/16/17 UPDATE

This is awkward as fuck.  I’m uncomfortable.  Everyone says the awkwardness will fade and that I just have to keep pretending everything is ok until then.  The awkwardness will fade.  I’m sure it will.  But I will NEVER look at these two people the same way.  I will never not look at them and think, “They don’t trust me.  They don’t understand me.  They think I don’t trust them.”  I will spend every minute I am with them walking on eggshells, overanalyzing every single thing I say or do.  I will rethink every conversation we have from here on out.  I will never have the same carefree attitude that comes with perceived friendship and understanding with these two people again.  I don’t know how people move through situations like this.  How do you let it go and forget?  I know I’ll forgive.  That will come.  But forget?  I will never.  Maybe I’ve developed a strong genetic tie to my father’s side’s ability to hold a grudge (for 50 + years I may add).  I will never forget the looks of impassivity and misunderstanding and mistrust.  It will haunt me.

You know how you have moments that will always be there for you?  No matter how much time has passed?  I will always remember the time I opened my car door into a person on a bicycle.  I will always remember the way a dear dear dear dear dear friend slept on the couch not speaking to me after our first and only big fight.  I will always remember missing my flight to Portland and missing that time with my best friend.  My fuck ups stay with me.  They are burned into my memory and they come up and rear their ugly heads whenever a new (even perceived) fuck up occurs.  Taunting me.  Reminding me of my humanity.  Trying to convince me that I’m a worthless nobody.  My sister would say it’s Satan.  My mother would tell me to read the final prayer of the Amidah.  My therapist would tell me it’s related to my childhood.  None of them are comforting statements.

History has it’s eyes on you.

It was inevitable that I would, at some point in the next four years, title an entry this.  I’m sure this post will be restated by me many times over during the current political situation.

I’ve never been good at confrontation, dissent, or dealing with people who hold tightly to opinions I strongly disagree with.  Can I participate in a conversation where someone thinks that UCONN mens basketball is categorically better than Syracuse mens basketball?  Sure.  And I can even do it reasonably civilly.    But I know they are wrong.  Where I run into trouble is when people have opinions that, to me, are so clearly on the wrong side of history that it frustrates me that they don’t agree with me.  Not only frustrates, that’s too nice of a word.  It angers me.  It makes my blood boil.  I can feel the heat climbing up my chest and face until I can almost feel the steam coming out of my ears.  I’m having a really difficult time reconciling the fact that I truly believe, I have no doubt at all, I am currently on the right side of history, with the fact that millions of others ALSO believe, without a doubt, that THEY are on the right side of history.  That’s the way life goes though isn’t it?  I’m so convinced of my superiority in beliefs that I can’t even FATHOM how small minded someone must be to believe differently from me.

Now I don’t mean I believe that in all aspects of my personal beliefs that I am superior or correct, but in the following categories, I 100% believe that history will prove that I am right:

  • Trump.  Tell me I’m wrong.  Show me evidence that the policies this man is putting into place are good for our country.  Tell me how banning people from 7 predominantly Muslim countries…EXCEPT FOR THE ONES IN WHICH TRUMP HOLDS BUSINESS TIES…is beneficial to our country and our nation’s safety?  swastika-vandalism-w710-h473  This was in the NYC subway system…on February 5th…2017.  Two thousand and mother-fucking seventeen.  I relate more to this brand of hate because it’s the one that directly affects me, a Jewish woman, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s a story floating around the internet of a senior picture at a school in Texas gone awry when a group of around 70 students started shouting “Heil Trump!  Heil Hitler” during their class photo.  The stories, as you all know, go on and on and on and affect everyone who isn’t a white, cis-gender, Christian.  It’s horrifying.  I canNOT incorporate the fact that people, millions and millions of people, think that this man was the correct choice for President of these great, yet broken, United States.  (Photo credit:  http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/02/ny-subway-swastikas-removed-by-hand-sanitizer-in-viral-post.html)

There was a post from Humans of New York that I wish I could find, but I can’t.  A woman was talking about her difficulty with the election cycle and said (something to the effect of), “for me, the line in the sand was the misogyny.  For others, it was abortion.  For others still it was something else. I have a hard time understanding other people’s lines.”  That sums up everything I’m feeling right now.  It unconditionally does not make any sort of sense to me that people could have different lines in the sand.  How can any of the things he said be ok?  How can his stance on business or the fact that he isn’t a life long politician, how can that possibly outweigh ANY of the rest of it?  He would have to hold the secret to ending world hunger and communicable diseases for all eternity to have me even begin to consider voting for him.  How can the fact that the use of a private email server (which, by the way, Trump himself is now doing…hypocrisy much?) be enough to think the current choice is better?  I just, I mean really, I just do not have the capability of incorporating this into any sense of reality.  I just don’t.  Has anyone had success doing this?  Not that I want to try.  But anything? I feel so stuck most days.  I don’t know how to move through a world that exists like that.  Shame on my privileged life that this is my most uncomfortable living setting.  The end of this tunnel seems impossibly far away, and the tunnel could collapse before we even get to the end.

  • LGBTQ rights.  Again.  Tell me I’m wrong.  You who claim that your version of G-d makes no mistakes.  Who claim that to live your life as G-d like as possible is the only way.  You who claim that the path to righteousness is to follow the teachings of a man who spoke about unconditional love and understanding.  Go ahead and tell me again how G-d made mistakes and that people who fall anywhere in the vast queer spectrum are wrong.  A favorite comedian of mine once said, “The mere fact that there are gay people born in the back woods of Alabama is enough to prove that being gay isn’t a choice.”  Why would someone chose to be gay in an area where they will be ostracized, abandoned and the target of mass hate?
  • Abortion.  Please.  Let’s go back to a time where 5,000+ women died annually in a fight to have autonomy over their own bodies.  Tell me again how you, whoever you are, get to decide what is right and what I can or can’t do with my own body.  Tell me again how you, who fight so hard for an unborn collection of cells will then turn around and fight when I request government assistance.  How you will call me a whore, a thief and a liar who lives off the teat of the government and the hard work of other Americans.  The collection of cells only matter until they are born huh?  Then you could care less about them.
  • Education.  Continuing the theme of “these cells only matter until they are born”, let’s talk about education.  How is it even a little OK that a man, who openly mocked people with disabilities, is in charge of appointing someone who will have an impact on my students?  Not only that, but the person he picked?  And we all thought John King was bad.  How in the world is it feasible that a woman WHO HAS NO IDEA THAT THERE IS A FEDERAL LAW PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, not to mention her atrocious and extremely dangerous belief in taking federal dollars away from Title 1 schools for “school choice” is one small Republican Senator away from being official?  I cannot.
  • Immigration.  Let’s face it people, unless you are a Native American, you are, in some way, shape, or form, an immigrant in this country.  Do we, as a nation, need to make sure that we vet people?  Yes.  But guess what?  We already have a strenuous vetting process to enter this country.  Asking people their beliefs on the President before they enter the country and denying them entrance based on that?  Seriously?  I travel abroad at least once a year.  If they ask me my beliefs, I doubt I’ll be let back in the country.  Do we need to protect ourselves?  Yes.  We do.  Does that mean that anyone with a weird (to us) last name, a hijab, a turban, a burka, or brown skin is inherently evil and a terrorist?  No.  Throughout our history, people have been openly discriminated against based on where they came from.  How many of your relatives came over during one of the immigration waves and changed their last names at Ellis Island for fear of discrimination?  Again, yes, I understand that in the extremism of the post 9/11 world that we live in that we need to protect ourselves as a nation, but this immigration ban is unbelievably un-American.
  • Dakota Access Pipeline.  The crimes we, as Americans, have committed agains the Native Americans is nothing short of genocide in my opinion.  We have pushed policy after policy after policy through to oppress the Native population of this country.  We have marched them from their tribal lands.  We have lied.  We have stolen.  We have raped.  We have pillaged.  We have shrunk a population of people down to it’s bare bones but that’s still not enough for us.  Now, instead of responsibly harvesting energy, we are, as is the norm, taking the shortest (and in this case most destructive) path to victory.  We care nothing for the fact that in refusing the shift the location of a pipeline, we are creating the potential to completely destroy the drinking water for the reservation.  (I am aware that despite a mountain of reading, I may be getting some facts twisted.  If you notice any profound inaccuracies, please respectuflly let me know if the comments below).

The other problem I’m having today is centered around the Superbowl.  Such a silly thing to be up and arms about, when you first read the sentence but hear me out.  I’m not talking about the stunning Patriots comeback and could give two shits about whether or not Brady and Belichick are cheaters (as the evidence strongly suggests that for at least one Superbowl, they were).  What I’m talking about is Lady Gaga’s performance.  I, personally, enjoyed performance.  She did what she always does.  She put on a phenomenal show with a strong message about inclusivity and LGBTQ rights.  That’s been her platform for a while now.  But guess who else put on a killer show with a strong message that’s been in line with their platform?  Beyonce.  That’s right.  But all of a sudden there is article after article and statement after statement about how it was Lady Gaga who taught Beyonce a lesson in bringing America together.  Why?  Because Lady Gaga’s message was about people you could imagine as white?  Because fighting for LGBTQ rights is inherently less “dangerous” than fighting for the rights of people of color?  Because it’s “less” offensive to be gay than it is to be black?  Because we refuse to take a look at our police and we refuse to hold them accountable for murder?  (This in and of itself could turn into a whole rant about how we hold every other profession – mostly – accountable for mistakes – hell…teachers a essentially burned at the stake if they don’t hit a certain criteria for test score).  White people are so unbelievably scared of the concept of ALL people being equal.  If I can no longer oppress people who are black or gay or Muslim, than what does that mean for me as a white person?  Clearly raising someone up to have the same full rights as me means I’m less than right?  Because that’s what it seems like.  We seem to be so convinced that if everyone has equal rights, that really means that we won’t.  There have been so many articles written about why saying “All Lives Matter” is a crock of shit.  Do you homework and go read them.  Whitenonsense Roundup is a fantastic resource.

Ugh.  I’m so annoyed.  And out of time.  I’ll write more tonight if I can remember, or I’ll update tomorrow morning if any new feelings arise.


We have not come into being to hate or to destroy…

I have a problem.  Well, let’s be honest, I have a few.  My current struggle in the last few days has been surrounding the  Facebook profile picture filters for both Paris, and more recently, Brussels.

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I have been to both places.  I have been to Paris several times and it is a beautiful city.  When I’m there, I can see history unfolding before my eyes.  I hear Enjolras call his peers to arms.  I hear Javert cry out in frustration.  I hear Christine crying in the arms of Raul, terrified for her life; and yes, I see real documented history too.

Brussels is also a phenomenal city, filled with life and flowers and laughter and amazing beer.

My point in recounting my travels is simply to state that I have been to these cities, thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and have great respect for the people there.

My problem with these Facebook profile pictures is two fold.

First and foremost, as has been stated multiple times by many people before me, these filters have only shown up for Paris and Belgium…two Western European countries.  Not once has a filter shown up for Nigeria and the Boko Haram attacks.  No filter showed up for Pakistan and the recent Easter attacks.  Why?  Because they are black and brown?  Because they are developing countries?  Why don’t “we” (as Westerners) relate or feel the need to “pray” for these people?  What makes them unworthy of the outcry of support from social media?  Or rather, why does the outpour of support only come for Western/developed tragedies?

My second issue with these filters is simply this, why?  Do the people who use these filters change anything about the way they live their lives due to their use?  Do they study and learn and try to make the world a better place?  Do they read articles and try to better understand some of the racial and religious tensions happening in the world?  Or do they immediately turn on a filter and say, “Well, I made enough of a difference today.  Time to immediately pretend nothing has happened”.  I don’t understand these filters.  I’m terrified by the things that have happened in Paris, and Brussels and Lahor and all over Nigeria but instead of putting up a filter and hitting play on my most recent Parks and Rec binge, I read any article I can find to help me make sense of what is happening.  I reach out on every form of travel social media I participate in and open up my home to potentially stranded travelers.  I reach out to my many friends and family who live abroad and make sure they are ok and if they are stranded I try to hook them up with people I may know where they are.  I do try to reach out and let these communities know that they are not alone.  But I also celebrate their resilience.  They don’t need our prayers.  They need us to have our eyes wide open.  To change the way we interact as humans.  To celebrate the life and vibrance of these cities.  To be unafraid to continue to travel and expand our minds and our views of the world.

Is my method perfect?  Clearly far from it, as am I.  I just feel like these colorful little lines across our Facebook faces will do very little but make those of us who use them superficially feel like we’ve made a difference.  I choose to try and do more, to do better, to learn and continue to grow and to admit to my fears, anxieties and mistakes.

EDIT (July 5th, 2016)

Several days ago there was a bombing in Turkey that left 45 dead.  A few days later, there was a suicide bombing in Bangladesh that left 21 dead.  I did not see a SINGLE flag overlay for these countries and these people.  Why?  Because they are people of color?  Because we have a perception that a lot of them are Muslim?  Because it is a poorer country?  Because we think “Well they should be used to it.  It happens to them all the time.”  Why?  THIS is one of the major reasons why these stupid Facebook filters are stupid.  They only happen when it’s white, Western Europeans.  Apparently Facebook, and the rest of us (for where was the outcry on social media that these two events weren’t honored?), don’t care about anyone but the white, western world.  And that is a travesty.


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