24 August 2014

Facebook Comments: Where Souls Go To Die

I know better. I do. I see an article posted on Facebook by NPR or some other news source and I tell myself, "Don't read the comments. Don't even look at them. You know you shouldn't read the comments."

And then I read the comments. Every. Damn. Time.
This all started with the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court in early July. It wasn't a case I was even following closely. And then the Supreme Court ruled that, evidently, corporations are people with
"sincerely held religious beliefs" and those beliefs are--apparently--more important than women's health care choices.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when I went batshit crazy.

I mean it; I read the comments on some articles posted by NPR and other sources and I lost my mind. Suddenly, I was raging. And commenting on everything. To everyone. A lot.

Think I'm exaggerating? Let me paint you a picture of the depths of my blackout rage. I couldn't sleep the night I learned of the case because I tossed and turned and seethed. I checked and rechecked posts online so I could comment, refute, and basically ridicule those who apparently do not understand the way contraception works. I got into a pretty passionate argument with one of my husband's friends about whether or not IUDs are valid forms of contraception. After arguing with him about IUDs, I got so angry I went to my doctor and got one (and let me tell you about that special kind of pain) and then secretly enjoyed feeling like I was sticking it to Hobby Lobby.


And the worst part was, I knew better than to continue to read the comments. I knew it'd make me angry. And sometimes, I could control myself... I'd read comments and I'd feel my heart rate increase, but I'd be okay. But then, I'd see the phrase "16 out of 20" (referring to the fact Hobby Lobby still covers 16 of the 20 FDA-approved forms of contraception). I see that phrase and it's like a switch flips in my brain and, I swear, I blackout. Twenty minutes later I come to my senses to see I've commented on about 17 different posts, most of them angry and mocking, and I'm left with a vague sense of shame but a stronger sense of righteous indignation.

Since the Hobby Lobby case unleashed this beast in me, several other posts have also brought out this ugly side, including:
* how vaccines cause autism (it hurts just to type that)
* how a man letting his three year old son wear a dress is going to turn him gay (dresses carry gay-germs)
* why the Washington Redskins name isn't actually racist (it was nice to learn about what racism is from lots of supercilious white men)
* why rape isn't really a problem (real post: "It's a FACT that skimpy clothes cause rape"),
* why it is completely acceptable for police to shoot (or choke) unarmed black men (another good place to learn about racism from white men),
* why sexism isn't really an issue anymore and men are the real victims (I... I just can't even with that one).
Each of these, at some point, produced a blackout-commenting session.

No, I cannot just walk away.

I know I should. I know I am not doing any good and that I should just let people think what they want. But I can't. Please understand, it's not that I won't. It's a physical thing. I am physically incapable of walking away. I promise, there's actual pain involved. If I could, I'd be less stressed, less depressed about the state of our world. And I'd spend a lot less time following my husband around the house, ranting about what stupid people said on the internet, haranguing him even though--he assures me--he is actually on my side.

I know I shouldn't read the comments because I know what's going to happen. It's going to be 1 am and I'm going to be furiously commenting away, wishing I could sleep, but vaguely worried that someone is going to say something racist/sexist/homophobic and I won't be there to ridicule/correct/relentlessly mock. I'm not sure what will happen if I allow these comments out into the world and just go to bed, but I'm pretty sure it's something awful. Catastrophic. Like maybe that's what caused the earthquake in San Francisco this weekend. And I've got to stop that.

It's a dirty job, but someone has got to do it.

You're welcome.

(Disclaimer: to avoid the impression that I am nuts and don't make sound medical decisions, please rest assured my decision  about getting an IUD was a sound decision made with my doctor and that sticking it to Hobby Lobby was only a small--albeit enjoyable--part of my decision...)

13 August 2014

Things are about to get real

At the best of times, my schedule causes minor (sometimes major) meltdowns. My day starts at 4:30am (okay... by the end of the year, 5am) and I'm at work by 6:45. On good days, I can be home between 4 and 5, eat dinner, and be asleep by 9pm. During speech season, I get home much closer to 6 or 7 and sometimes crash before I've even had time to eat. During that season, that schedule usually extends to Saturdays, as well. I clocked my hours, and during my busiest season, I put in about 60-70 hours a week and usually don't see sunlight for days at a time because my classroom is windowless. I understand that many people work hard and put in similar (or more) hours each week. But this is about me. And this schedule makes me tired. Exhausted. And frequently crabby.

And this year, it's about to get worse, because this fall I start graduate school.

And I didn't do the sensible thing that most people I know did--I didn't go online, and I didn't go through a cohort program set up specifically for teachers. I didn't take a sabbatical from coaching. I didn't step down from my literacy position at school. I just jumped back in and crossed my fingers I'd be able to handle it all. And the excitement was palpable. I mean, I'm even a nontraditional student, so I think that means I get to drag around one of those rolling backpacks that drove me crazy when I was an undergrad. I can't wait to use my brain in this way again--to be a student surrounded by other students who want to be there, discussing literature. No one complaining that this is stupid, they had other homework, and seriously, is there a movie version of this?  But now, less than two weeks before this all starts, it's finally hit me that this could go disgustingly, frighteningly wrong.

And if I am honest, I'm worried.

No. I'm scared.

I'm scared that I won't balance it all, and I won't get all that I can out of my college classes. I love education, and I love learning. I take these things seriously. I want to enjoy my graduate classes, and I want to learn all I can. And, if I am honest, I'm a perfectionist. I've never gotten lower than an A in a class, so there's that...

I'm also scared I will let my students down by coasting, that I'll become one of those teachers who just shows movies or whose class is so ridiculously easy that I might as well be showing movies. I work with some of those teachers, and I don't respect them and the worst thing I can think of in my career is to find myself among their ranks.

I'm scared that, after the huge success my speech team experienced last season--first place in sections and 11 advanced to state--that my busy schedule will make me neglect these amazing students and I'll fail to get these kids to where they should be, where they deserve to be.

I'm scared, mostly, that it's going to really really suck, that I can't do it all, and that I'm signing up for two long years that are going to make me even more exhausted than I have been in the past. And that's not an inviting prospect.

But, I keep telling myself that all I can do is my best, that it's only two years, and that it might end up being really really amazing. And barring that,  at least Rome is waiting for me after graduation. 

So here goes nothing.

12 January 2014

This is Really Going to Suck, Isn't It?

My husband and I moved two weeks ago. During the move, I twisted my knee on the stairs (I'm ridiculously out of shape). Then, two days later, I got a cool trip to the ER on New Year's Day to deal with four badly burned finger tips. This was quickly followed by the absurdity that was the "polar vortex, which forced school to be cancelled for two days because the wind chills hovered around -60 degrees, prompting my car to go completely dead. Add to all this endless problems with our cable/internet/phone company, the financial strain of moving, and 30 sophomores who won't stop crabbing about the trauma that is their life (apparently), and now 2014 is about to get worse.

Because tomorrow, I turn 30.

I recognize 30 "is just a number" and that the "only alternative to getting older is death" (that gem comes from my uncle), but it's a sucky number, and I feel as though there should be other alternatives, so I'm still going to complain. Cuz that's how I roll.

I'm an adult. But 30 is real adult. Thirty is a new decade, one that doesn't include nights at the bar or binge-drinking with roommates. (Okay... it might for a certain kind of 30 year old, but let's ignore that for now). It's solidly in the middle of life. When someone hears that you're 30, they don't say, "Oh wow, you're so young!" Now they say, "Wow, you look really young for 30!" And while that's better than looking old, the subtext of the observation is, "Wow, 30 is old, and you don't look that old!"


While I'm not okay with being 30, there is (apparently) nothing I can do about it. Seriously. I've checked. I fully intend to do some hardcore wallowing between now and tomorrow (I have exactly 12 hours left in my 20s! In true I'm-in-my-20s-style, I'm going to lay around, do nothing, and wallow in self pity about how unfair life is) But tomorrow, I'm 30, and I need to do the very thing I tell my students to do when they whine: buck up and start acting like a real person. So, I'm looking on the bright side. Er....brighter side. Uh... okay, not-quite-so-dark-as-the-rest-of-this-life-sucking-hole-of-loathing side...

Anyway, here's what I am looking forward to in my 30th year:

1. Continuing to settle in to a new home. Which looks freakin' fantastic, if I do say so myself.
2. Starting grad school and pursuing my *first* Master's degree.
3. Finally getting the pet I've been pining over for years...even if it is a cat.
4. Learning how to make fresh, homemade pasta. This year, I'm finally doing it!
5. Truly getting healthy with exercise. I don't need to lose weight, but I'd like to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded.
6. Really start working on my Italian. I don't care if it's an app on my iPhone, it works!
7. Starting the saving process for our trip to Rome, my Master's degree graduation present.
8. My job. Because despite all the things I gripe about, it brings me so much joy.
9. Summer with my sister and nieces. July is the highlight of my year because of them.
10. Getting back to one of my first love--writing. Even if no one else ever reads it.

So...bring it 30. I don't have to like it, but since everyone insists there is no life-sustaining alternative to aging, I'll accept it. Besides, I think once I've admitted that "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" on NPR is the highlight of my week, I can't really pretend I belong in my 20s anymore.

But let's be clear. For the next 12 hours... I'm 29.