"There is peace even in the storm." - Vincent Van Gogh
Sensing the storm
One of my friends can smell when rain is coming. When he calls for rain, it rains. He calls it better than the local weatherman. A lot of us are like that when it comes to our own lives. We sense something is off or on its way to us. Storms will come. The trick is to find the calm before we enter the storm.
A marked woman
When I was a teacher, I once worked with a principal who was more like a malevolent midget than an administrator. (And I will call her a midget because I’m short, too!) She would throw anyone under the bus when she felt threatened in any way. We had a tenuous relationship the moment I walked in the building. So when another administrator made an observation about a situation with a particular student, she came at me, guns blazing. I knew the observation wasn’t about me, but she liked to make preemptive strikes before criticism came her way. Since she didn’t like me to begin with, I was an obvious target.
She gunned for me for years. I found myself focusing more on making sure I covered my ass than making sure my lessons were fun for the kids. I taught in two different buildings, and one year, I had my evaluation in a different building than the malevolent midget. She got into the ear of the other principal, and that one started gunning for me too. She looked for something to nail me with, and she found it.
I admit, I did give her something. I was responsible for student files, and they gave me a broken, shitty file cabinet to put them in. I should have asked for a decent one, but since I was so beaten down I didn’t think I would get one. I didn’t bother.
Instead, I let the files look a little messy. Everything was in order, but the files kind of looked like shit. In my hopeless, dejected state, I thought nobody really gave a shit about me or the kids I taught, so I let it get there.
Then, the shit storm came. I knew it was coming, but I was ready to fight. One thing, I always knew, messy looking files or not, I was always a good teacher. That would always save me.
I had to remind myself of that, though. It got to the point where I started to feel physically ill. I remember the moment that happened. My heart started beating really fast for no reason. I thought: Fuck this. No situation and no person will get to me like this. I got myself together, took a breath, and decided to stand on the good work I knew I did everyday.
As the storm continued around me, the administrator who was evaluating me would just show up to my class just to make sure I was doing my job. Not only was she satisfied I was doing my job, she loved what she saw me doing. I eventually won her over. She also realized they needed to give me a proper place to put my files so they could look decent.They never complained about those files ever again. I didn’t give them a reason.
The storm passes
The malevolent midget was never really convinced even after the other one told her what a good job I was doing. She always looked at me sideways until the day she went to another district. Before that happened though, she gave up on giving me a hard time. As much as she tried, she could never prove I didn’t do my job well.
The only reason the storm passed is because I stood on my belief in myself and knew everything would work out. I made my classes fun again. I decided I wasn’t letting anyone do anything to me. If they tried, they could wear themselves out. That’s how I got through the bullshit.
That’s the key. You just have to find your calm before the storm hits.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
The politicians are coming!
As we head into another midterm election, I have been paying more attention to politics, something I haven’t done for a while. I remember a conversation I had with one of my cousins in 2016 about why he has never voted. He told me it doesn’t matter who is president, Senator, or representative. He said, “The rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer. Who will pay the price? Us.” The “us” he meant was the working people, the middle class. Damn if he wasn’t right. I agree with him on that. What I don’t agree with is to sit back, watch it all go down, and just keep my head above water. Bob Marley said, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.” Damn if he wasn’t right, too. That’s what we all need to do.
When you can't agree to disagree
Instead of people actually doing that, they’re fighting people who don’t agree with them. I see some nasty things on social media. “You liberals do this.” “You conservatives do that.” “Trump’s America.” I imagine people’s faces contorting as they point fingers at whoever they don’t like. Even 45 is not responsible for everything. He’s doing a helluva job holding up the mirror. Of course, he does add to the divisiveness. The malaise we have is bigger than him, though. It’s always a liberal thing or a conservative thing when there are assholes on both sides. It’s a you’re with me or against me kind of mentality. What happened to respectfully disagreeing on policy? About anything? Now, it’s some kind of character flaw when you disagree with someone. No one is listening to each other.
Fighting for scraps when the feast could be lost
We lose sight of the bigger picture when we just get caught up in our own ideology and don’t see another’s perspective. A great example was when some people chose to be horrified over black NFL players kneeling during the anthem because they saw it as disrespectful to veterans. A veteran told Colin Kaepernick to kneel in the first place instead of sitting during the anthem. That protest was never about veterans anyway. It was protesting the disproportionate amounts of police brutality directed at black people. While people are fighting over who’s standing or kneeling, 20 veterans commit suicide a day. About 40,000 are homeless. Black people still get killed by police in disproportionate numbers. Instead of arguing over protests that are about veterans as much as Rosa Parks’ protest was about a bus, why don’t people get together to find ways to help? In a country where national defense is a priority, the men and women who provide that defense should also be a priority. The Nike shoes some people burnt could have gone to a homeless vet or they could have done some other direct action to help. Instead, many chose to be pissed off and rant instead of using their energy to make a real impact.
Another real issue that is being used as a diversion is gun control. All most people ask for regarding laws is to have universal background checks, to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, and to keep weapons of war away from the common citizen. Asking for common sense legislation turned into taking guns away from the responsible citizen. Meanwhile, the unblinking Frankenstein, Mitch McConnell and his crony Paul Ryan are talking about taking Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security away. Programs they call “entitlements.” Working people pay for all of these out of their wages for their future. Yet, taking them away is actually a consideration. Granted, it’s not likely to happen for many reasons. But you have to pay attention to what happens behind the scenes when you’re attention is deliberately diverted. What’s more important? Your guns? Or the future that you worked for?
Don't give up the fight
While this chaos continues around us, we are more and more distracted by smaller issues than the big ones that really impact our lives. We allow politicians who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, the NRA, the insurance industry, or some other well-funded lobby to make laws that benefit their donors, not their voters. Republican, Democrat, it doesn’t matter. They both do it. Not all, but a lot of them.
During this election season, the fearmongering was at an all-time high. “Be afraid of the brown people” is what I see in a lot of these ads. It’s not the brown people who, the majority of which want better lives for their families like you, that you should be afraid of. It’s the ones who look like you and who make the laws that only benefit themselves and the ones who gave them the most money you should be watching.
Instead of fighting or fearing your neighbor, pay attention to what’s really important to you. Take action for a cause that matters to you. Then go out and vote for the person who is making laws for you, not for the person who wrote them the biggest check. “Don’t give up the fight.”
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
What's up, Doc?
My favorite Halloween costume of all time was Bugs Bunny with a mask that my mother made for me. The mask was cloth, durable, and three times bigger than my five-year-old head. I kept it past the Halloween when I first wore it and even took it to college with me. Sometimes, I would run around the dorm with it on my head just because it was fun to freak people out. It was still too big, but I wore it. At least, I loved it, and I wasn’t hiding. How many of us in our lives wear masks that don’t fit us, but we still wear them? We mask who we really are for whatever reason we think is important.
It’s always a question of what people will say. What will they think? We’re always conditioned to be aware of how other people perceive us because if they don’t approve they can deny us something. Their friendship. A job. Their love. Whatever we think they can give us that we don’t already have.
The masks I have worn
What that leads to, sometimes, is us hiding who we really are. We put whatever mask on that fits. My first one was the demure, soft-spoken, traditional Indian girl. I can give you all of those traits, but they are not where I live. I can be the hammer of the gods if I need to be, and I will question the status quo all day long.
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe said, “I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.” My problem is: I’m always smart, and most people don’t like it. Sometimes, I observe in a situation, and it can appear like the blinders are on because I’m not saying anything. When I’m really paying attention, I observe a lot, but I can stay quiet because someone may not be ready for the truth as I perceive it. Granted, there’s a time and place for everything, but even if I know you well, I might seal my lips.
Sometimes, I’m just hiding behind a silent, brooding facade. I am shy and introverted by nature, so I don’t like to stick out. When I was in college, someone I eventually became close friends with told me she thought I was a snob when she first met me. I surprised her when I opened up and talked to her more. That happens to me sometimes. People see my reserve as some sort of superiority complex. Or, they just think I’m quiet. Actually, most of the time, I’m just observing the situation before I dive in. If I know you, I can talk your ear off all day long. That’s who I really am, but I may not show you that right away.
Stepping from behind the mask
Instead of deciding which mask to wear, maybe we should decide just to speak our truth. We’re so caught up in what we could lose or what we may not gain that we lay our paths almost too carefully. We make ourselves palatable to whoever we need to. That’s something I still work on. The trick is to feel comfortable within ourselves and allow everyone else to follow that lead.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
"To thine own self be true." - William Shakespeare
Self-interested vs. selfish
We have to make ourselves a top priority in our life. Yet, many of us feel selfish when we do that. In fact, many words with the word “self” in it have some sort of negative connotation to them. Self-centered. Selfish. Self-absorbed. Self-interested and selfish are often used interchangeably. When many of us are thinking of ourselves in a situation, we pause and make sure we are not being selfish. Actually, we should think of ourselves in a situation where we have to choose between ourselves and others. We should think of our own well-being. Acting in our own self-interest is crucial to our survival both emotionally and physically. Weren’t we put here to survive? Thinking of yourself, then someone else does not make you selfish. For me, self-interest and self-preservation go hand in hand. Choosing ourselves and choosing others is a balancing act. Here are 3 questions to consider when choosing between ourselves and someone else:
1. Is my yes to someone else no to me?
Is that yes putting you in an uncomfortable situation? Will it lead to you denying yourself something that matters to you in the moment? You have to remember you always matter in the equation. Be unapologetic when it comes to setting your boundaries.
2. What will my yes to someone cost me, and am I willing to pay that cost?
If your yes to someone else costs you time, resources, or something else of value to you, is it something you can do without? If that cost to you is your well-being or happiness, that’s when you have to act in your own self-interest.
3. What will my no cost someone else?
If someone is on the verge of losing their life, livelihood, or something else precious to their survival, then, of course, you don’t say no in that situation. However, many times, we feel pressured to say yes even when a situation is not even close to being dire.
Being your truest self
Our lives are a direct result of the choices we make. When we consistently choose the needs of others over our own needs, we are devaluing ourselves. How does that affect our life? Have we really preserved our true selves or the version that makes others happy at the expense of our own happiness? Have we made ourselves happy just as much as we have made others happy? When we have that balance, we have our truest selves.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
The accidental plumber
I fixed my own toilet once. That’s a big deal because I don’t fix anything. I’ll pay someone. Anyway, some sort of valve got loose. I went on Youtube to see how to replace it and fix it. I did it, but I most likely couldn’t do it again. Granted, I only did it the one time, but my only real motivation to fix it was to avoid asking a specific person who I was mad it. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of asking him. When I was elbow deep in the commode, I just wanted to get it done. I got no joy from learning something new. I only did it out of spite, pretty much. Essentially, I missed out on a learning opportunity. I did experience some joy in doing something I didn’t think I could do, but I wasn’t present enough to pay attention to the process. Life is a balance between results and trusting the process.
Most of my life has been spent in the results I was getting, what I was producing. I’ve always been about the goal. Rarely was I about, how I reached a goal. I only paid enough attention to planning and executing the steps I had to take. I joined clubs in school because I knew it would look good on a college transcript. I only went to college because I knew it would help me get a good job. I chose a university that was 3 and a half hours away to get out of the house, not to broaden my horizons.
Inhaling the aromas
I didn’t step back to take it all in the way I should have. I was all about what I was doing next, where I was going next. Always thinking ahead. Not what I was doing at that moment. You can miss out on a lot when you do that: a memory, a lesson, or another blessing.
We can get a lot out of an experience when we’re not so wrapped up in an outcome. When we eat, a need is automatically met. We understand we are going to survive so we go beyond whether or not our immediate need is being met. Many times, it isn’t just the simple act of chewing and swallowing. We see the food. We smell it. We savor the flavors when we taste it. All of these factors help us enjoy our meals. When we pay attention to all the aspects surrounding it, we enjoy it so much more.
Why not apply that process to other areas of our lives? We can have that same amount of trust at other times, especially when it comes to things that we want. Sometimes, we are so focused and attached to the result that we miss what we could learn. Maybe, we could be missing something better than what we originally intended. We muddle through when we really should be inhaling the aromas of what we are surrounded by. When you’re present, and finding satisfaction in whatever you’re doing, it all enhances your experience. You may also find your goal gets accomplished without you even realizing it.
A matter of trust
From the moment we’re born, our lives are about trust. Trust that our needs will be met. Most of us don’t even have to think about it. We are fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved. As children, we have that trust, so we are exploring the world, taking it all in, and having fun. How much did we learn in that process? Things that are so much more difficult to learn as an adult, we learn with ease as children. Our minds are sponges, and we soak it all in. Sometimes, we get hurt along the way, but our needs are always met. We have that innate trust. That trust propels us forward.
We lose it along the way. We’re so wrapped up in what we think we should be achieving. We’re worried about time, how people see us, if we’re “doing it right.” Things that slow us down and actually can get in the way of what we want to do.
Show up, and it gets done
When I taught, I got so wrapped up in some form of “is it enough.” Enough for students, parents, administrators, even other teachers, Over time, I came to realize that I know more than the kids when it comes to the subject. Most of the parents were grateful that I helped their kids. Administrators and teachers were worried about covering their asses just as much as I was. That helped me to stop worrying.
When I prepared and enjoyed that process of putting a lesson or a unit together. The work was done, All I had to do was show up. Even when I did something completely off the cuff, just because I thought it would have a benefit and my students and I just enjoyed what was going on, magic happened sometimes.
Many times, if we trust, show up, and pay attention, we can do what needs to be done. We can achieve what we want to achieve. If we trust in our ability to meet our own needs and let the process unfold in a natural way, then we will have the results that we want. It’s that simple and that complicated at the same time. We make it that way when we don’t trust the process.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Harold Thurman
Making Major Life Decisions at Thirteen
For most of my life, I have made decisions that have made feel safe. When I was thirteen, I decided I was going to be a lawyer because I had an inner compulsion to know what job I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I knew that I wanted a career, but I didn’t know what. I chose lawyer because it seemed like a reputable occupation. I couldn’t be a doctor because I wasn’t scientifically inclined. To me, being a lawyer was the next best thing. Since that was done, I could relax and do what I needed to do in school.
Yes, this was my thought process at thirteen. Since I was the youngest and always wanting to do what my older brothers and sisters were doing, I grew up fast. It didn’t dawn on me that they were in a place where they had the time to figure it out. I was more concerned about having an answer than giving myself the time to learn more about me and what I liked.
I never could sit too long with uncertainty. To me, uncertainty was equivalent to unsafe. For a long time, I didn’t understand how people could freelance and work on commission. I had to know a paycheck was coming at a certain day and time, like clockwork.
Breathing in Uncertainty
All these years later, I am the opposite of who I was and what makes me feel safe. I started freelancing almost two years ago, and I love it. I love working for myself. I get paid when I do the work. I know I will do the work. That’s all the certainty I need now. I quit my steady teaching job for the risk of freelancing. I got work quickly. It wasn’t so difficult because I knew I could make it work. That’s all I need now. The inner knowing without the detail. That’s why I took my leap of faith. What I’m about to share with you, I’ve experienced myself. Maybe it’ll apply to you, too. Here are 5 signs that it may be time to take a leap of faith:
1. The things that you loved most about a situation are now repelling you.
One of the things I loved most about teaching was the students. I loved helping them grow, and I knew they appreciated what I did. Then, one day, they got on my nerves so much that I felt like they didn’t give a shit one way or another. We all have moments like that, but on that particular day, I felt like nothing I did meant anything. It wasn’t just there. It was everywhere. That’s a shitty place to be.
2. You start focusing more on the things you didn't do rather than the things you are doing.
I started asking myself lots of questions. Why was I still in Pennsylvania? Why was I still working in the same place? Why was I still in a house that I was only supposed to be in for a few years 10 years later? Meanwhile, I had written a book that I never expected to write and was finishing another. I was becoming a better teacher every day. I was becoming closer to people I had been guarded with before. But instead of enjoying what I accomplished, I was despairing over what I hadn’t.
3. You're not connecting with people close to you the way you once did.
People I once enjoyed spending time with bored me to tears. I wanted to be somewhere else with people I connected to.
4. Where you are is not where you want to be.
I experienced this both physically and emotionally. Places that I once enjoyed or at the very least tolerated I couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t want to be in Pennsylvania or in the classroom.
5. You're not growing the way you want to.
I love to read, and I love to learn. Anything that teaches me something I didn’t know before I am all about. I took a sabbatical for a half a semester to learn about a group of students I hadn’t had experience teaching but was getting a lot of. I wanted to be as knowledgeable for myself as well as them. That exhilarated me, but when I was done, I was in the same place. I felt stagnant. That’s when I really knew that I had to move on.
All of these things together showed me that I wasn’t satisfied. Satisfaction is the way to true movement forward. It makes you come alive. If you’re not satisfied, you have to find a way to be satisfied. There is safety in uncertainty about details. The reason for that is that when you are certain about yourself, who you are, and what satisfies you then you will always be safe. For me, belief in myself is all the certainty I need.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
But don’t move the way fear makes you move. - Rumi
We all fear something whether we admit it or not. When we were children, it might have been the dark, monsters, or animals. One of my fears was the escalator. Seriously. I was afraid to get on the escalator because I thought I might fall. I stopped being afraid. I don’t know what clicked for me or when. I made a decision that I wasn’t going to be afraid and went on it without creating drama. I’ve done that many times in my life. Here are 5 times in my life when I overcame my fears:
1. When I went away to college.
When I landed on campus in August of 1992, I was like a dog with my head out the window at the idea of being away from home. The first morning when I woke up in my new bed in the dorms I asked myself: Am I going to make it here? A twinge of discomfort shot right through me as I thought that. The next thought was some form of yes. I don’t remember what the exact words were. I just know this wave of calm came over me. I knew I would make it so I did.
2. When I lived alone for the first time.
I have always lived either with family or roommates. When I bought my first home, the first night I was a little fearful. I sat with it for a minute, and then a feeling of peace flooded me, like my first morning at college. Something in me told me I would always be safe. And I was.
3. When I wrote and published my first book.
Until recently, I dabbled in writing. I would have these bursts of creativity at various times, and I would write something halfway decent. Other times, it wasn’t on my radar. I was too busy trying to build my life in a practical way. Writing was special, a treat for myself when I had down time from doing “productive” things. For many years, I didn’t even share my writing with other people because I was afraid of judgment. Then, the heavens gave me the inexplicable nudge they blessed me with at other times in my life. I made a decision to write my stories and not care if people knew or not. I did have this fear of whether or not people would like what I wrote. Then, I decided how they felt about my stories was none of my business. Being creative and expressing myself became my priority. I decided to write a short story collection. When I finished writing, I researched publishers, chose one, and released Shaherazade’s Daughters.
4. When I took an early retirement from teaching to write full-time.
I loved teaching. Then, when I realized that I loved it, but it no longer fulfilled me, I decided to move on and become a full-time writer. After 17 years of stability and security with an established career, I walked away for the satisfaction that only pursuing a passion can give. At the same time, I accepted the uncertainty that comes with a new venture. It took me a year and a half to take a deep breath and go for it. I told myself: You built a life when you only had 26 dollars in your checking account. You have a little more than that now. You’ll be okay. Like so many times in my life, I relied on my strength. It hasn’t failed me yet.
5. When I worried about failing as a writer because I'm a newbie.
When I started out writing full-time, I didn’t know shit about how to do it professionally. I only knew that I am a strong writer with a brain and a plan, even if that plan evolves. Despite that assertion, that persistent nagging thought that plagues many artists came in my head: Am I good or do I actually suck and am too oblivious to realize it? That thought comes less and less in my head because nothing in me lets me waver from my writing craft. I hone it and perfect it every day, just like when I was a teacher. And I was a damn good teacher. The game-changer for me to get over this looming fear of failure was realizing how many times I have failed in life, and here I am in the best place I’ve ever been. So many times, I wanted something and didn’t get it. How many teaching interviews did I go on and blew it? I still moved on and became successful at it. The failures didn’t destroy me. I only rose from the ashes of them.
What's a fear that you've overcome? Answer in the comments below!
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
My first taste of freedom came in 1992 when I was 18. It was late August, and my brother dropped me off for college at Penn State. Happy Valley was huge. The dorms were divided into six housing areas : North, South, East, West, Pollock, and Nittany Apartments and Suites. I never took a campus tour so, essentially, I was plopped in the middle of Central Pennsylvania and had to figure my own shit out. No one in my family set foot on campus again until almost four years later when I was about to graduate. My parents didn’t even come to drop me off. When my brother left my dorm, I could hardly contain my excitement. Finally, I was on my own and loving it.
That night, I went to some dorm party for freshman. I immediately befriended some girls on my floor. We had a great time. I came back to my room exhausted but happy. In the morning, I woke up and thought: Oh shit. Am I going to make it here? I’m not sure what came over me. I think it was just that it was such a big campus, and I had to navigate by myself. From the same unknown place, another feeling came over me: I am going to make it.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
That was a defining moment for me. I was scared, but I decided to get over it. That was the first time I decided to just plow through fear. I also got over the shyness that was such a huge part of my high school existence. I just blossomed socially. I called people to see what parties were going on. I hardly did that in high school unless I knew someone well. At Penn State, I just went with the flow. On many a night, I would be hanging out in my dorm and random friends would stop by and snatch me up for some adventure. Let’s be honest. It was usually a party. During that time, I just decided to get on with it, whatever was happening and whatever apprehension I felt.
Another defining moment was when I was about to graduate in 1996. I was pretty much broke, like most college students. Despite that technicality, I stayed until the end of my lease in my studio apartment. I came back home with about 26 dollars in my checking account. I was a fresh college graduate and had already decided that I was going to enter a graduate certification program to become a teacher. I chose that route because I thought it best to get my certification and Master’s at the same time. Even with just 26 dollars in my checking account, I had a plan and a brain. With those two things, my gut instinct told me I would work through this thing called life.
The Best Teacher
Two years later, life threw me a curve when my father’s emphysema dealt him a blow that almost killed him. Getting a tracheostomy saved him but he had to breathe through a tube and stay attached to an oxygen tank for the next three years. According to his doctors, he was only supposed to live one more year after the tracheostomy. He proved them wrong. He was good at proving people wrong who underestimated him. As am I. How he handled an illness that he wasn’t sure he would survive cemented the foundation for who I became.
He taught me one of his greatest lessons through his example. He had a hospital stint and wanted to leave his room. He had to take his portable oxygen tank to walk down the hall to an equipment room he had laid claim to when he wanted some down time. I watched him as he silently and deliberately straightened himself so he could walk with dignity and composure. He couldn’t breathe on his own, and no one would have blamed him if he walked in a hunched position. But he wouldn’t have that. In that small action, he taught me to stand tall and walk proud no matter what is happening to you or around you. Even as he took his last breaths, he kept showing me how to live.
These moments showed me what I’m made of. No matter what may come, I will keep my swagger, just like my old man did.
Until next time...look behind and beyond the veil...
Photo by Dmitry Bayer on
Ronald Reagan. Rubik’s cube. Leg warmers. The first music video ever played on MTV. These were only a few of the iconic associations of the 80's. I grew up during that time and was part of Generation X. Some people refer to us as slackers and cynics. I proudly identify as both. I questioned the status quo and the notion of breaking my neck to achieve the “American Dream.” At the end of the day, most of us knew how to work hard. We just knew how to play hard, too. In so many ways, it was a simpler time to grow up in. We were given a certain set of circumstances, and we figured out what to do with them. Now, the kids coming up have so much thrown at them that they may not know what to do. Let’s not forget the music. Real musicians who played instruments. Imagine that. I can’t go into all of the shit that made the 80's a cool time to grow up in this small space, but I can give you 7 reasons I loved growing up in the 80s:
1. We can troubleshoot easily.
First of all, we can tell time on a clock and light a match. We know how to use a rotary phone. We have used a stamp and envelope many times, and we know where to get them. The point is, if our lives take an unexpected turn and we end up in a place where things aren’t so easily accessible, we will be okay.
2. A scrape on the knee wasn't a catastrophe.
I wasn’t dressed head to toe in protective gear before I left the house. I never wore knee pads or a helmet when I rode a bike. None of the kids I grew up with did either. We’re still alive with most of our brain cells intact. I still have a scar on the inside of my left knee that I don’t remember how I got. When I was 8, I stepped on a fishing hook that one of my brothers left behind in my father’s van. He held onto me while my uncle pulled it out of the sole of my foot. They sent me on my merry way after that. As a result of all these things, I am not delicate and don’t need my hand held every time I stub my big toe.
3. We went outside to play.
We weren't in the house playing computer games all day. We stayed out until the street lights came on or dinner, whichever came first. You know it's bad when the NFL has to encourage kids to play outside for 60 minutes a day.
4. Albums were king.
I don’t know how old I was when I first looked through my oldest brother’s boxes of albums. I just know that I was fascinated by the music and the whole ritual of listening to a new album. Opening the album, taking the vinyl out, looking at looking at the cover art, and reading the lyrics, if they were available was like opening a present that you have been waiting for. Spotify and iTunes can’t give you that.
5. We waited in line for concert tickets... And they were no more than 20 bucks!
Waiting in line for concert tickets was an experience within itself. The anticipation of getting good seats and connecting with other people who like the same band you do was exciting. You saw scalpers fact-to-face and had tickets in your hand right away. Now, you take your chances getting ripped off online if you missed the online presale. And tickets were cheap.
6. MTV actually played music videos.
I remember watching the first video ever played on MTV: The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I loved seeing a mini-movie with a song. Now, you can’t see a fucking video on MTV. It’s all shows now. I think you can see some videos on MTV2, but why call it Music Television when you’re not showing music?
7. I discovered Prince in the 80's.
I have talked about Prince in blogs many times and will continue to do so. He is that important in my life. In the “1999” video, Prince mesmerized me in a purple trench coat and jheri curl while playing guitar and dancing in time with the other guys in the band. The consummate musician and performer. The camera loved him. When I discovered him, I discovered R&B and funk. Before that, I was a classic rock devotee just like my oldest brother. I think Prince had the same effect on him because he went out and got the “1999” and “Purple Rain” albums. “1999” was the first double album I ever saw, and the vinyl for “Purple Rain” was actually purple. “1999” was a nuclear protest song and a bomb ass dance track.
I’m not saying the 80's were perfect, but growing up in that time helped make me the snarky asshole I am today. I’m pretty grateful for that.
If you grew up in the 80's, what's your favorite memory? Answer in the comments below!
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
I loved being a teacher. I love learning and being a part of someone else’s learning process. Teaching gave me an opportunity to be creative, coming up with lessons and projects that were fun for me and my students. I miss education and being around other teachers everyday. Most of all, I miss the students and mentoring them. We had fun together, and they did learn something. I am proud to say. If I do say so my snarky self, I had the best one-liners as a teacher. Here are my top 10 teacher quotes:
1. I am never late to class. I am never early to class. Because class doesn’t start until I get here!” - Frequently, I walked into class after the bell rang because I didn’t have my own classroom for a long time. As a result, I would stroll in after the scheduled start time because I was coming from another classroom. A student jokingly said, “You’re late.” A blatant deflection but true nonetheless.
2. “Whatever you’re thinking about doing, I either invented it or perfected it.”
3. “You can’t win. So don’t try.” - This line was reserved for when a student tried to talk their way out of something, and I wasn’t in the mood to entertain them.
4. “I’m the teacher, and I can flunk you.” - A 7th grader tried to tell me they were “the man,” and they could choose whether or not they were going to do their work. He wasn’t being defiant as much as he was just being a smart ass. I showed him who the bigger smart ass was.
5. “If you want my help, ask me. And don’t wait until the day before it’s due!” - I found myself saying this many times.
6. “Okay. Leave me alone now.” - This was used when I had a free period, and a student I had a good rapport with didn’t need help but just wanted to hang out and lollygag.
7. “Do your work. Don’t make me save you!” - By saving, I meant I didn’t want to go to another teacher and ask for a meeting to see what the kid had to do to not fail. As a teacher of English Language Learners, I had to advocate. I only said this to kids who I knew were capable of doing the work.
8. “Shut up.” - If I had to tell a kid more than twice to be quiet. It turned into, “shut up.” No, I don’t feel bad about that. If you got a “shut up, “ you deserved it.
9. “Sit down.” - It’s amazing how many times I had to say that to high school kids.
10. “Okay. Get out.” - Used in place of “bye” or “see you later.” I only said this to students who were used to my sense of humor.
Based on this list, you might think it's a good idea I am no longer a teacher. When I did practice this wonderful craft, I did a lot of good. As a colleague once told me, "sweet is not a weapon in your arsenal." Maybe so but the kids knew they could count on me. I just have to be myself no matter where I am.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...