Week 1. Commitment.

Anyone who knows me at all knows I have trouble with commitment.  I am in fact so obstinate that the idea of claiming I am going to do something every week immediately makes me want to not do it.  I mean really, Anne, who would you be hurting now if you quit?  Just you. I am ridiculous.

Anyway, here I go.  I am going to try to take a little time each Sunday and reflect on my week.  We’ll see what happens.

Personal Stuffs: This week I turned 29.  Yep, that happened.  It was not my favorite birthday but looking forward I am seeing only good things and opportunities this year.

Classroom Stuffs: My classroom is shifting.  The group I had the most trouble with at the beginning of the year is a cohesive unit who speak openly about the learning they do and how they do. My class that I was most impressed with at the beginning of the year seems to be shifting away from that.

Personal Change: This weekend I made my lunches ahead of time and I am hoping to get my act together and join a gym with a good friend of mine.

Classroom Change:  I am going to spend this week really focusing on fostering conversation and in order to that I am going to have to structure a lot more.

Reading: I am trying to get into My Brilliant Friend.  It was recommended by a couple people but I just can’t get into it.  I am thinking of reading Orleans cause I love me some YA and I bought it after the voices of color YA panel at Comic Con.

Watching: I am binge watching Medium.  It is bad and I love it.

Your assigned reading: How to fall in love with anyone. It’s beautiful, short, and I am seriously considering trying it.

miss you, love you, see you next week. (hopefully)

On Agency and Dress Codes

(This is going to be a post where a lot of you disagree with me.)

I am the dress code enforcer.  I spent three years at my last school making sure that sweaters always covered butts, that shorts had inseams, and that boobs were fully contained. Anyone who knows me knows I love clothes.  I love fancy skirts and high rise jeans and shoes of all types.  I love new fashions and the return of old.  So, while I listen to other teachers say, “I just don’t notice dress code,”  I, instead, notice all the clothes, see the infraction, and spend the rest of the period thinking, “dress code, dress code, dress code.”

So, for three years, I said something, each and every time. It almost always started with, “I need you to go change.” It almost always resulted in an argument.  Nine of ten times the student was convinced that their outfit was fine, that their shorts were cute, that their sweater absolutely 100% covered their butt, and that I was doing this to be a jerk.  I wasn’t though.  I was doing it because in my head I thought I need to teach them how to dress appropriately. ::vomit::

I’m going to digress for a moment and I hope you will stay with me.  About a month ago I was having a conversation with my brother and a friend of his and it wound around as long conversations tend to do and got to the topic of body hair.  Both my brother and his friend immediately said that they would happy change any of that for a partner, whereas I was a firm no.  I wasn’t sure why but I was pretty sure I wasn’t willing to do that.  The conversation continued to dating where brother’s friend say he would never date anyone who was pro-life.  He said it was just against what he believed and that was where it hit me.  I wouldn’t change my body hair.  I wouldn’t date anyone who was pro-life.  I wouldn’t give away any of my hard earned agency(1) over my body.

Women and girls spend years being told what their bodies should look like.  What their hair should do.  What their feet, boobs, eyes, lips, teeth should look like.  How much of them they should show, how much of them they should hide. And those messages don’t agree with each other.  At school boobs covered.  On a date boobs out.  Smile and greet people sometimes, other times you should put your head down and avoid eye contact.

It has taken me 28 years to really feel some sense of agency over my body and what I do with it.  So as of today I am no longer enforcing dress code. I am no longer telling teenage girls what to do with their bodies.  I am happy to sit down with them and talk about media influence and why people believe we need dress codes but I am not their mothers, sisters, or aunts. I am not them.  I would really like to provide opportunities for my students to come to this on their own. I certainly refuse to impede it.

(1) definition of agency: a means of exerting power or influence; instrumentality.

Quitting Big Bang Theory

It started last summer, I was talking to my dad, who had just started watching The Big Bang Theory online, and he compared the boys on the show to my brother and his friends.  You see my brother has had the same group of friends since high school, and they are by most people’s standards, nerds.  They like comic books, movies, video games, board games, and yes, even D&D.  My brother though was seriously offended.  We are not like them, he told my father.  We do not treat women that way, we do not treat each other that way, and we are not like them. He was pretty adamant about it.  While I had never compared my brother to the show it changed the lens with which I watched.

Next it was an episode about Howard’s Mother.  I like the gag where we never see her. I think that’s cute in a Cheers/Frasier way.  But it has gotten mean.  You know Howard’s mother’s defining feature?  She’s very fat.  That’s it.  Well, also she’s needy and naggy but mostly she’s just fat. I know this because the show insists only telling me each and every time she is mentioned. In the first season she took a lover and we got to see the fallout from that.  This was a interesting story line. There is humor to be found in adult children seeing their parents as sexual adults.  But this/last season there has been none of that no expanding of her character, no personality, no nothing.  Mom is fat.  Mom is gross. Mom is soo fat that ____________.  For an entire episode the only jokes were about Mom being fat.  In fact to be a mother on this show you must either be: relentlessly religious, cold and detached, or fat. (I know we see Raj’s mom at some point also but only in the context of Raj’s father.)

After the itchy feeling the treatment of Howard’s Mom gave me I started to notice other things.  There are a million ways subtle and not so subtle ways they degrade women on BBT.  From Penny being dumb, to Bernadette being shrill, to Amy being undesirable these women (who are essentially written as tropes) are verbally mocked week after week. The sexism in BBT is all over the internet.  There are great think pieces on the lack of  girl-geeks and lack of well rounded characters.

Tonight though I want to take issue with the episode I just watched entitled, “The Misinterpretation Agitation.”  The basic premise is this:

Penny flirts with a doctor she sells pharmaceuticals who takes her “3-Mississippi arm touch” as a invitation to look her address up on the internet and then show up at her door.  (This is what some people might call stalking.) He then discovers she is engaged to Leonard who apparently won her by sheer determination, which his friends point out at every turn.  Doctor Stalker then takes the boys to the basement of his mother’s house where he locks them in order to win Penny by wearing her down.

This episode makes it very clear that none of Leonard’s friends think he deserves Penny and on top of that, she did not choose him so much as she just finally stopped saying no to his advances.  (Excuse me, whilst I vomit.)

The are 20 million people that watch BBT each week and let’s say half are people like me, people who like things that are traditionally considered “nerdy.” Of that half, let’s assume half are men. This means there at 5 million men who are being told week after week, season after season that if a woman says no, if she doesn’t want to date you, if she doesn’t want to talk to you, you should just keep trying til she does. Or at least until she stops saying no. This is terrifying to me. 

I’d always sort of liked Penny and Leonard’s relationship on the idea that they balanced each other there have been really good episode where we see all the reasons Penny loves Leonard but, this week, this week I am done.  The small scattering of pop culture, nerd ready jokes are no longer enough to hide the mean, petty, sexist, shit they are slinging each week.  So I am deleting my season pass and quitting.  Next week BBT will only have 19,999,999 viewers and if one of them is you I hope you start getting a little itchy, too.

You can take your work life balance and

shove it.

Yes, I am tired.  Yes, I am working hard.  Yes, this week kicked my ass but you know what?  My freshman scholars presented statistics projects where they demonstrated understanding of standard deviation in real life contexts.  I heard my sophomores say things like, “Explain to me what you did on that problem” in order to help their group mates on the work.  I had two students study together and retake competencies (assessments) for solid B+ grades.  I had a very tough repeating freshman clear a no mark with me and practically cry in joy  AND THEN the next day she went to work on her science no marks.

I also worked to0 much and was too stressed and too tired but you know what?  I enjoy my job.  I want to be the best that I can and your first year at a new place that takes time. Real time.  But you know what’s different than my first year of teaching? I am good at it. Guys!  There is a real chance I am doing a good job.  An exhausting, painful, sleep losing good job BUT a good job none-the-less.

I could use more hugs, more wine, and less whine. But I am happy, healthy, and good.  Just in case you were wondering.



I’m not ready to talk about it and I’m not sure why.

I owe an apology to anyone who asked about my first day of school. There is a very good chance I replied, “It was good,” and I didn’t mean to be rude. Here’s the thing, it was good.  I can’t think of a way it could have gone better and still I don’t really want to talk about it. 

I am writing this post at 4:33 am.  I’ve been awake since 4:00.  You see, I went to sleep at 9:00 pm last night because I am so emotionally exhausted.  I am in the midst of figuring out how to live near one of my closest friends while still being me, I am watching tear gas being thrown at children, and yesterday I taught a class of 40. It is too soon in the school year to feel the way I am feeling. 

So here’s where I’m at: I’m good. Assume if nothing else, that the children are amazing and I love them. Assume that I am happy for every minute they are in my classroom.  Assume that if I am doing a bad job keeping in touch that I am watching twitter and hoping for other children to get to go to school soon.  Assume that I miss you but I have to figure out how to have a life here in San Diego before I can jump back into my digital ones. And assume I miss you, cause I do.


They just want someone to talk to.

Near the end of last school year the 11th and 12th grade advisors sat in a circle to talk about relationships.  Our goal was to make sure that every student had a person on campus that was their person. Then the conversation shifted to bigger things and to littler things, some as big as what to do with students who couldn’t cut it and some as small as dress code.  When I got a chance to speak I said this,

“I think with all this stuff the students are just looking for adults to talk to.  They are looking to have important conversations with us and we are not giving them the space.” 

I would like to tell you that this became something but the truth is that I was quickly and very rudely shut down with the phrase, “I think we are getting off topic here,” said by the person leading the discussion.

I start at a new school tomorrow.  A school that spend the first four days, not on curriculum, but on building relationships and creating intentional community. I am really excited to be a part of this.

This is also a school where I don’t have any status or reputation yet.  A school where I have few, if any, relationships.  A school where I don’t know how aware my students are of the world. A school where I don’t know the place to bring up Mike Brown.   

I wish I could say that I was going to find it, that I was going to make this important piece of the world known to them*, let them live with it, and be there together as it happens but I am probably not.  I will keep discussing this with you, on twitter, and with my former students. I will keep trying to be a safe space. I will keep all of this and his family in my heart.

I want you to know that I am disappointed in myself but that I am not perfect Social-Justice-Safe-Space-Maker all the time.  Sometimes I am a new teacher at a new school working to find her own place. Sometimes I work inside a system I am not yet sure of.

*or just let them know I know

Would you rather?

My best friend Katie and I play a mean game of “Would You Rather?”  (To be honest it’s mostly Katie with her insane imagination but I am there and I play.) From the hard hitting: Would you rather marry a magician who was constantly doing tricks or marry a chronic nose-picker?  To the deep life questions: Would you rather wake up one morning and not remember the last 24 hours at all or wake up and realize you just spent the last 24 hours naked?  Like you lived your normal like but you were naked.  This game has become a staple of our friendship and aides in our endless ability to entertain each other.

For the record, I would chose naked. I could not handle the not knowing.  I need that control over my own life. Except for today.  Today I would rather not know.

Would you rather take a genetic test to find out if you carry a gene mutation with an 85% chance of causing breast cancer OR, just, not? 

We are pretty sure my father’s family is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and we know his mother died of breast cancer at age 55.  Which means nothing or it could mean nothing.  It could mean that I am not one of the 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews that carry that BRCA mutation (as compared to 1 in 800 in the general population).  It could mean because my paternal aunts and cousins are fine that we don’t carry it and my Bubby got sporadic breast cancer.

Sporadic breast cancer is a term I learned today from my packet entitled “Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome: A Patient’s Guide to risk assessment.”  It is a terrifying packet handed to me by my OBGYN while I wasn’t wearing any pants.  I add this because the indignity of being told you should probably get tested for a gene mutation that almost guarantees you cancer while half naked cannot be overlooked.

One of the most interesting things about this whole day was the assumption everyone I told had that I would be tested.  There was no “Would you rather?”.  Just a simple “You should do this.”.  I’m not saying I don’t want to know, again, I chose naked but I almost wish it hadn’t been proposed because now it’s an entirely different game:

Would you rather be at risk for breast cancer your whole life or reduce that risk 90% by double mastectomy?

Would you rather have children or reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 60% and take oral contraceptives for the rest of your life?

Would you rather get tested for a gene mutation or just be 28?

*this post reflects my day and the information given to me by my doctor in my packet.  This is not medical advice or anything else.  Please be kind in comments, it's been a day.