Showing posts from October, 2017

An Angry Email and the Beauty of Teaching

Six years ago, in the dark depths of December, when everyone—students and teachers alike—was desperately counting down the days until Winter Break, I got an email from one of my freshmen students. The email was sent at 11pm on a Tuesday night. We were in the middle of our unit on To Kill a Mockingbird, and the students had been assigned to read the chapters in which our mockingbird, Tom Robinson—a black man wrongfully convicted of the rape of a white woman—is shot and killed. In desperation, in a wild fit of hopelessness, he tries to flee prison and is killed, shot in the back 17 times. My student, enraged at the unfairness of it all, fired off an email ranting about the book, about injustice, about her absolute disgust at the unfairness of it all. In her 14 year old vernacular, she angrily accused me of lying—I told her that, in general, Mockingbird had a happy ending—and the world of being unfair.

See, when I tell people that I teach high school English, I get one of two responses: …

My Girl Hillary

I love Hillary Clinton. That's not a popular opinion, even among Democrats, but I proudly cop to it. I don't mean I voted for her or that I think she'd be a good president (though both those things are true). I mean I love her. I have a Funko Pop doll of her on my mantle (granted, it's in the basement, but still). I admire her. I think she's strong. I think she's smart. I think she's a bitch, but that's okay because, in the words of Tina Fey (another woman I love), "Bitches get shit done." Y'all, I love her.
Most of all, what I love about my girl, Hillary, is the fact she is unapologetically Hillary. She owns up to her mistakes, but she doesn't apologize for being strong, or opinionated, or doing what she thinks is right, even if it turns out to be wrong later. I truly believe one of the reasons so many people dislike Hillary is this very lack of apology. A lot of the criticism leveled at her is, in reality, dislike of the fac…

Cheat Codes and Free Will: What the Sims Taught Me About Life

Perhaps my worst kept secret is that, for years, I unabashedly loved the computer game The Sims. I was never a Sims City fan--that required far too much work and even at a young age I had no illusions that I should be, in anyway, in charge of running... well, anything.But The Sims was different. In the game, you built houses, decorated them, and then created families to move in and live there. The premise is your Sims need to build skills so they can get jobs, make money, and improve their houses. But y'all, Sims are stupid. Left to their own devices, they leave their babies outside in the snow because they wanted to watch TV; they don't go to work because the house is too dirty and it depressed them. And they never study. But there's a little switch in the settings of the game that makes all this a moot point: The free will button. See, you can turn free will off, and then your Sims can't do a damn thing unless you tell them to.

I mean, the ability to be totally in ch…

Crotchety Old Bitch

In August, my husband and I adopted a dog named Ellie; then we immediately turned into insufferable millennials who talk about said dog way too much. It's amazing.

Ellie is a bundle of contradictions: She likes her own space, but she has to be in the same room I am. She's sweet and likes people, but only on her own terms. She's skittish around strangers and loathes kids. She gets cranky if she's not in bed by 8:30, hates to get up in the morning, and is relatively sweet until someone gets in her face, at which time she'll snarl, growl, and--in the case if my in-laws' dog--attack with teeth bared if you don't back up. She's sweet and cranky at the same time; cuddly and stand-offish; loves walks but gets winded after 6 blocks.

Y'all. Ellie is me.

Let's review:  Dislikes strangers, children, and exercise. Always wants to be in bed. Sweet, but will attack you right in the face if you tick her off.


We ended up adopting Ellie because her previous f…