Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Earworm Wednesday: A Sexy Running Song

I never thought I'd like Katy Perry, but there is something about the song Dark Horse that I just love. I woke up last night with the song in my head and I didn't hate it. It's been coming on when I work out and the beat is just intoxicating. It's one of those songs that makes you feel sexy when you're running. You know what I mean--
What I feel like when I'm running to Dark Horse (or any sexy song with a good beat) vs Reality. [via]
Plus, the video is hilarious. 1) It's badass, 2) It's ridiculous, and 3) It makes me want to learn how to pole dance.
Enjoy. I'm going stir crazy over here and regretting my decision to not go to Ft. Myers this year. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Scale Betrayal

I've been working out like a fiend for the last few months. I've found over the last few years that it's the only thing that helps me beat the winter blues. Exercise equals endorphins, right?
I don't want to shoot anybody-- Legally Blonde is just proving my point. 

I feel better, my clothes fit better, I have more energy, and I'm an all around happier person. Plus, if I go to the gym fifty times within a six month period, my health insurance pays me. I've already gone forty-eight times and it's only been three months. Needless to say, I've been feeling really good about myself. I even weighed myself at home and the scale said I've lost six pounds. 

Or did I? 

I thought our scale was broken because it's old and the one never shows up on the screen, so I've been weighing myself on it over the last few months and just ignoring that it was "broken." Then, the Hubs texted me last week to let me know that the one on our scale hasn't been broken this whole time. Here's an excerpt from our rage-ful texts:
Hubs: I just realized our scale got set to kg instead of lbs... I was assuming the "1" was broken. AHHHHH
Me: NOOOOOOOO. My day just went from phat to fat.
 Stupid scale.
I hate you, scale.
F U, scale. 

I've written about my struggles with weight before. I'm up from where I was after my first season of triathlons. From the job change in 2013, to the stressful summer job of 2013, to eating my feelings due to other stresses, to this other job switch, I'm not where I want to be, but I felt like I was getting there before the stupid scale betrayed me. 

Then I asked myself, "Why do I CARE about this?"
At the beginning of this post, I said I've been working out like a fiend, I feel better, my clothes fit better, I have more energy, and I'm an all around happier person.
So, seriously, why do I put so much worth into the scale? 
Yeah, that's right you stupid scale. This is what I've been doing while you've been making me feel bad about myself:
Lifting weights and getting stronger.
Push-ups-- I can do those now.
Strengthening my core. Yeah, you stupid scale. I can do planks without crying now.
Swimming like a boss. I'm faster than last season.
Training for a 10k. Yeah, you dumb scale. I'm not the best runner, but I've been running outside while other people haven't been. In yo' FACE.
Yoga. I'm better at downdogs than you are.
Dance. Yeah, that's right you stupid scale. I've been shakin' my curvy self at the dance studio.
Going to hour long spin class twice a week and killin' it.
I'm done weighing myself for awhile. I'm just going to let my jeans fit better without the side of depression because the numbers don't match my body. I'm going to focus on eating foods that make me feel good instead of not eating anything to look good.

Peace out, scale. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Earworm Wednesday: Old Timey Tunes

I absolutely LOVE covers that are done in fun, quirky, and interesting ways. If I had a cover band, I'd take 90s rap and make it sound like folk songs. That's why this Wednesday's post is dedicated to Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox. I am obsessed. I've been listening to the album Twist is the New Twerk for the last three days. Is it cheesy? I don't give an eff. It's beautiful to me. It's a throwback to times when I didn't exist and wish I did. It makes me want to dance.

My top covers from the album:
1. We Can't Stop
The back-up singers swagger. The ability to make a song I hated sound amazing. 

2. Sweet Child O'Mine
The lead singer. The clarinet Slash solo cover. The lead singer. The "where do we go" part. 

3. Young and Beautiful 
The banjo. The mutes on the horns. Everyone's chill, badass attitude. 

I even like this cover of Royals...
...even though (1) I rank the original on my list of annoying songs. It's up there with Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and anything by Muse and (2) Puddles the Clown is too grim and sad and freaky and (3) I've of the "being scared of clowns" generation, mostly due to this movie:
Ew. Contemplating taking this pic off of this post because I can't stand it that much. It's ruining my vibe.
Can we just all get dressed up in some vintage threads, learn some synchronized dance moves, and go to a party with Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox playing live? I mean, PLEASE?! Let's drink cocktails from every era and smoke cigarettes from a variety of holders that reflect the times when people thought smoking was a health benefit. 

Let's dance like the days when there were dances that went with every song that weren't like this:
But more like this:
I mean, we won't all look like this, but let's use our imaginations! 

Happy Wednesday. Do you have any quirky covers to send my way? Do it! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm Not the Freedom Writers Teacher

My new work office is on a college campus. Last week, I ran into one of my old students in the hallway of my building. She immediately grabbed a few of her friends and dragged them over.
"Do you see this teacher?!" she exclaimed, "she was like the Freedom Writers teacher! She taught us so much!" We hugged, and caught up, and parted, but I was feeling something I haven't felt in awhile. Seeing her and her excitement gave me the warm fuzzies, but her comparison of me to the Freedom Writers teacher, Erin Gruwell, made me cringe on the inside:
My gut did this when she made the comparison. [via]
When the Freedom Writers movie came out in 2007, I found myself getting compared to Erin Gruwell's self-sacrificing and savior figure teacher quite often. My students were really into the movie and saw themselves reflected in the characters. They saw me reflected in the teacher. I found in conversation with pre-service English teachers that the movie and book was--sometimes-- what brought them into wanting to teach English to urban school kids in the first place. I had to see what the fuss was about. So I watched it. And then I read the book over Spring Break. When it was all over, I was irate. Really? I mean, really? Did my students really think that I was similar to the Freedom Writers lady?
Me, the Nice White Biracial Lady [via]
I kept this feeling inside and took a look at my language and attitude towards my students. Did I act like that about my students? I didn't voice my distaste until a few years later. I was at a big English teacher conference and Erin Gruwell was the keynote speaker. It was ridiculous. I'm not quoting word for word and this was five years ago, but part of her speech went something like this:
"At a time when my student Sally should have been enjoying her childhood and eating popsicles with her friends, she was watching blood the color of red popsicles running down the street in rivers because of gang violence in her neighborhood. I gave her a notebook and a pen and a way to get it all out." 
A people around me were crying and nodding. I could almost read their minds: "Yes. That's why I became a teacher. Uh huh. These kids need saving."
Was she fer reals? [via]
I started thinking about how dangerous it is for teachers--especially white female teachers working in urban schools--to use movie characters (and caricatures) like the Freedom Writers teacher as a reason to become an English teacher. 
[via]
It's not real. It's not healthy. It's not good for your relationships, bank account, or personal health. It's not a good way to go into a job. It's not a good way to view your students. No teacher is an island. No teacher is a savior and viewing yourself in that light isn't a good idea. When I started teaching a college course on school and society this year, I found that in the beginning, some of the pre-service English teachers cited the movie as a reason why they wanted to become a teacher. In 2014. 
I was like, "No." [via]
I did an exercise with my college students that I used when I taught a film class and a senior English class. I've used this with adults during presentations as well. It's one of my favorite discussion starters on what it means to view texts through different lenses. I often use media clips and then "counter" media clips to teach my kids about viewing texts differently. These texts and counter-texts are all over the place. Try it...

We watch the trailer for Freedom Writers:
Then I ask for a literal description of the trailer, which helps students practice summarization, which is a common core skill, if anyone asks why you're watching media clips. 

From there, I asked them questions rooted in Critical Race Theory. I've used these questions with kids and adults of all ages. Here are two of them:
How does the text portray people of color? 
What conclusions does it seem to make about people of color? 

THEN, it's time for the counter media clip. This is probably my favorite Youtube video of all time:
My favorite part:
NWL: (Slams hands on the desk) WHY WON'T YOU LET ME TEACH YOU? 
Student: 'Cuz you a white lady. You don't KNOW me. Look at you, in that sweater vest you wearing and that ADORABLE patterned blouse. What you think is gonna happen here? You think you gonna inspire me? You think you gonna break through my tough girl act and teach me the beauty that's inside? You think you gonna make me do and feel things that I never have, never had before? All because you a non-threatening, kind-hearted, beautiful white lady? Is that what you think? Well you wrong. We fightin' for our LIVES in these streets. 
NWL: (Hands her a notebook) Write that down.

Then the good discussion starts. It can get awkward-- in a good way. Like anytime we use texts and counter-texts it ends with people saying that I ruined the original and now they don't know what to do with what they thought before:
Teacher Jen: Messin' with your world view since 2005. 

Last year, one of former students Facebook messaged me, telling me that I definitely wasn't the Freedom Writers teacher. I was more like the teacher from Disney's Recess, Miss Grotke:
That's better.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Static Directions: Thoughts on My Overloaded Hardrive and Mind


As I've settled into life outside of the classroom (which is TOTALLY different and lovely and still technically teaching but not as stressful), I've come to realize that since I'm not ignoring everyone I love and putting blood, sweat, and tears into making awesome daily lesson plans spending all of my time outside of school writing lesson plans and keeping my head above water, I should share a few pieces of the fruit of my research and labor: I'll be posting a resource connected to my multicultural/anti-biased/social justice-- whatever you call it-- way of teaching English once a week/two weeks/month/whenever I feel like it. 

You can have it. And use it. And make it your own. And ask me questions about it if you want. I'm not being sarcastic when I say that I am in love with researching and writing curriculum:
It's like, how many frameworks, lesson plans, and unit plans do you want me to write?  Fer reals.
It's in my future plans for school curriculum domination to work on a book proposal for likeminded English teachers, but I can't keep hoarding this stuff because people want it and I want to give it to them in a neat format. 

So yeah, I've written about school before, but I always tried to avoid it since I was teaching in a school and this blog was a sweet me-haven away from school unless I needed to vent. I'm still going to write about everything I like, but writing lesson plans is one thing I like and I need to share the wealth. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Un-ladylike and Proud

Trying to be ladylike has always perplexed me. I have a mental file folder of the times when people tried to make me feel bad about not being ladylike. 
Well, eff those people. 
Case in point: College, upstairs apartment living. The first time of many that a stranger looked me in the face and accused me of being un-ladylike. I often stomped up the stairs to our apartment because I'm always stomping somewhere. It probably didn't help that I wore Doc Marten boots with thick soles. Anyway, I was stomping up the stairs to grab something and stomping down the stairs to get to work when I was confronted at the door by the Tiny Blond Woman Who Squatted at Her Boyfriend's Apartment Under the Stairs. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
TBWWSAHBAUTS: HEY! HEY YOU! 
Me: Me? 
TBWWSAHBAUTS: YEAH! YOU! 
Me: Yeah?
TBWWSAHBAUTS: You are CONSTANTLY STOMPING up and down the stairs like an ELEPHANT. WHY hasn't ANYONE taught you how to be a LADY?!
Me, attempting to be meek: Sorry.
TBWWSAHBAUTS: Just be more of a LADY!!!
Me, heading out to my job on a line: Otay. I'll try.

Well, eff that lady, and eff trying to walk softly and be a lady.
I saw this video today about being un-ladylike and it made me so happy:
There are people out there just like me! 

I recently had a week of run-ins concerning my un-ladylike antics that made me feel like maybe I should try to be more of what a lady is expected to be. Case in point (number two): I was attending a fancy party said week that housed a buffet chock full of lobster tail, fried green tomatoes, and handmade gelato, so I was already feeling unable to control my foodcitemnet. I was--seriously-- planning out my plate-by-plate attack of the delicacies on the buffet. I was sitting by strangers (all men) and they were all shooting the breeze and talking about things I don't care about (sports, helicopters, blah-blah) while I ate a plate of fried green tomatoes and two lobster tails. I was also trying to sneak out my phone to take a picture of my plate. Here is the conversation that followed:
Helicopter Man: Slow down there killer.
Me: Why? 
Helicopter Man: It's not ladylike.
Me: You're ladylike. I'm getting gelato. 

So there.

I've been focusing less on apologizing for who I am and what I do and more on just enjoying who I am. I want to be the old woman lady with the wild long white hair and unapologetic opinions. 
Lipgloss. My favorite kind of makeup. 
I...
...don't wear makeup and don't care if I ever start.
...wear flannel pajama pants with hole-y and stained t-shirts when I go to the grocery store.
...sometimes have dirt under my fingernails.
...like wearing a backpack instead of a purse.
...enjoy a good gin on the rocks.
...eat in an unattractive fashion because food needs to be in my mouth.
...can't keep heels on for longer than thirty minutes.
...don't care what you think.

According to Santogold:
Try to hold a light to me
I'm a lady
Got my mind made up

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Earworm Wednesday: Easin' Back In

I love this song and this video. It's brightening this very dreary and long winter. I've never seen Despicable Me, but those yellow things are pretty cute.
I do not, however, like Pharrell Williams' hat.

This song is the true definition of an earworm-- a song that gets stuck in your head ALL DAY. They even have a website where the song plays on a loop ALL DAY in true earworm style. 
Easin' back into the blogging life. 
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