Sunday, September 25, 2016

Coffee + Blogs No. 27

IT'S FINALLY COLD! This is MY TIME OF YEAR. Everyone in my house is freezing because I'm insisting on open windows and we're all piled under blankets and I'm cradling a mug of coffee like it's the idol Indiana Jones liberated from it's spot under that rolling rock. It's time for the return of  Coffee + Blogs.

Aunt Acid: Advice for a Struggling Writer  This advice about work/life balance and engaging in creative pursuits of the sake of creativity is useful for every single one of us with a passion we don't get paid for.

"There is only one bad reason to write, and that’s for external validation. That’s because, even if you start getting some, you’ll never have enough. Praise is like money: no one ever feels satisfied that they’ve gotten their fair share. Almost no one has the strength to walk away from that particular roulette table."

MASH to Determine Your Gilmore Girls Life  Ugh I hate all my results but at least Lane is my best friend.

A Mary Anne With Kristy Rising: On the Enduring Legacy of The Babysitters Club I always identified with Mary Anne, but mostly because I didn't really fit anywhere else. When she got a boyfriend, I was like "Welp, now I'm no one!"

10 Simple Ways White People Can Stand Up to Everyday Racism 1. Listen when people of color talk about racism and white privilege. This is by far the most important step. LISTEN.

A Harry Potter Where Hermione Doesn't Do Anyone's Homework For Them. I miss The Toast so much. Granger/Lovegood for Prez.

How To Listen When You Disagree  Especially in a world where we are also striving toward the important goal of speaking up for what we believe in, listening to something we disagree with is harder than ever. Now that emotional intelligence is getting so much focus in the classroom, this is going to be one of the most important skills we explicitly teach our students.

When you find yourself in disagreement, just ask one question:
“Will you tell me your story? I’d love to know how you came to this point of view.”

Why Is It So Hard To Imagine Our Lives After Dieting? I did not diet at all this summer. I ate every flavor of Ben and Jerry's and never once chastised myself for a chips to carrots ratio. I deleted my calorie counting apps and started paying attention to how my body actually felt when I put different things in it. It was weird. Weirder was admitting to others what I was doing.

Paradoxically, being vociferous about masturbation or the American history of genocide were way more socially acceptable than my choice to stop dieting.

Letting go of the dream of thinness is one thing. Really recognizing that we live in a culture that promotes injustice, self-harm and the diminished lives of women — and REFUSING to play along — is quite another.

Hocus Pocus Tee This wasn't one of the movies my family loved growing up, but I know it's a cult favorite and this one is by the same ladies who made my BABE WITH THE POWER shirt that I've worn almost exclusively for the past two months.

Are We Meeting the Needs of our Black Girls? Currently in our country, there is an important hyperfocus on the way institutions deal with race. While I watch police forces go through the process of (kinda) accepting and (kinda) dealing with criticism, I realize that education will be next. Here are some conversations we need to start having.

Three Fat Heroines I Wish I'd Met Earlier and 5 Books That Call Bullshit on Diet Culture are two of my recent Book Riot articles that I am super, super proud of. (In the bullshit diet culture article I speak about You Don't Have to Like Me, the last pick for Be Your Own Book Club)

Just A Reminder That All Of Rory's Boyfriends Were Terrible. Two Gilmore Girls articles in one list? Shhhhh.

This is what I have for now, but keep sending me awesome links and stay tuned for some spooky reading suggestions and more interviews with interesting people! Be your own lady, lovelies. 

Image credits: 1, 2, 3

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Rant About How I Am Stressed and I Am Lucky

I'm up early, scrolling through one of my favorite educational blogs for ideas about connecting with my students. I forgot to pick up the pictures I had printed yesterday (one of each of my students, to display in the hall outside the classroom), and I'm wondering if I should grab them on the way to school or keep that precious time for lesson planning and get them on the way home, but the boys have a brand new babysitter today and I also want to leave plenty of time to get home and see them and thank her for saving our asses on the preschool pick up front. The weekend was super busy with visiting with family and previewing music classes. I think it's funny that I thought I would paint my nails when I barely got lunches packed and there are still wedding and thank you cards sitting on my desk that I meant to send out a solid month ago.

I need more time.

I was getting stressed out yesterday because the beginning of things is hard and I often lose sight and think that means my life is hard. We're adjusting to a totally new school structure for the boys, and life in this big new house, and plunging back into the busy that I missed so much over the summer. It's hard right now, to smooth the edges into a routine that works for us, and I angrily got into the shower and a poor stupid spider fell out of the shower curtain and my frustration outweighed my terror (nothing is worse that spiders when you're naked and vulnerable) and I smooshed that poor guy while shouting "I JUST WANT FIVE MINUTES IN THE SHOWER WITHOUT SOLVING A PROBLEM YOU ASSHOLE." Ben walked to the door of the bathroom, observed my wet naked freak out, and turned around and left.

But then I got back under the water and started thinking, and breathing, and remembering that I am so stupid lucky. Luckier than I realize most of the time. My house is harder to manage because it is bigger, because we live somewhere with enough space for our kids to play and for us to each have our own domains to be alone and put out all our weird collections. Drop off/pick up is much more complicated because the boys are in Real School, interacting with kids and learning skills and it's so, so good for them, even if the hours are ridiculous for working people. I'm overwhelmed at work because I am meeting 19 new children who have already become my classroom family, kids I am privileged to teach at work with a team that I adore. It IS hard, don't get me wrong, but totally worth it,

It feels very Pollyanna to flip the script in this way. I want to be dark and sarcastic and go on Twitter rants about it being a woman's job to arrange childcare (and I have done all these things), but the reality is that I have a damn good life and all of my "problems" stem from the riches I have in the form of a healthy family, lovely home, and rewarding career. So wah, feel sorry for me. Yeah, I'm allowed to be stressed- things are truly stressful right now. I'm allowed to feel overwhelmed at the New that is shaking down right now. But I also need to take a few deep breaths, check in with all the positives I'm rocking, and take care of business. 

I stayed up late to pack lunches and write notes to my sons' teachers. I'm going in to school early today to get ahead of the week. I'm a little stressed, but I am doing something about it. I wish you the same kind of success.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer of Suck: 2016 so far

I don't know if the world has always felt this dire, or if I'm just now realizing how scary things are because I am learning so much these days. Paying attention and listening. I'm guessing that it's always been a terrible time to open your eyes, but a lot of hate is boiling to the surface (the top of the Facebook feeds?) and it's harder than ever for me to compartmentalize.

On a much MUCH smaller scale, this summer has been really weird for my family. Our move has been delayed, we're staying in temporary housing, our things are in storage. We have arranged for, canceled, and rescheduled our utilities/cable/contractors in what seems like an endless loop. We were going to spend much of July working on our house to make it clean and livable- that's been pushed back a month. Small potatoes compared to the horror of this election/social justice in our country right now, but being out of our routines, sleeping on the floor, uncertainty, and having our things (MY BOOKS) packed away has been difficult. The preschoolers are adjusting better than I am.

Last summer felt drastically different. I went on a couple of trips sans kids and worked on my novel a ton and day drank and decorated my office. I'm not sure if the national narrative was as rough- it could have been, but I wasn't paying attention. Donald Trump was a joke. I was carefree. I bought an instant camera and spent whole afternoons ordering clothes for my sister's wedding. It was nice. But it wasn't lasting. The fall was all parties, weekends away, celebrations. I turned 30 and realized I was at a place full of comfort- no stretch. So 2016 became the year change. It's kind of sucked to have my year of putting my family through lots of change happen at the same time as a universe of shit is hitting the fan about the way non-white cis people are treated in this country, buuuuuut this is another lesson in the life course titled Hi Ashlie, This World Does Not Revolve Around You.

This year I have tried to balance my place in the national narrative (privileged white woman who needs to listen and signal boost voices more intelligent/ignored than mine, fat woman who needs to loudly celebrate her body regardless of how uncomfortable it makes anyone), my voice on the internet (blogging, Book Riot, and especially on Facebook where there are average characters from your real life insisting ALL LIVES MATTER and getting annoyed when you come down hard on the side of social justice), my place in my family (matriarch, so act it, lady- pull yourself together, spend out on a good mattress, and buckle down to change your address with the post office for the 17th time this summer), my place in my community (you're lucky as hell to have these people, you're lucky as hell to have these people), and my own self-care needs (alone time, alone time, alone time). Throughout a lot of roller coaster situations within my family and as I'm witnessing the horror of the way humans are often treated in my very own country, keeping these roles in mind has been mildly helpful.

There is a quote that I am paraphrasing (butchering) about years that ask questions and years that give answers. This is a year that is asking a question, and that question is WTF?, but I do not think this is the beginning of the apocalypse. It's a time for people who feel a little bit weird about what they see and hear to solidify their stance and vocalize it. You don't have to pick a fight with every great aunt in the world, but you should know how you feel and know how to say it. (As Hamilton would chide us- if you stand for nothing, what'll you fall for? OOH) If you are someone who is in the habit of speaking out against injustice, don't forget to give yourself breaks, because being told you are a stupid idiot for your views (no matter what they are) wears you down.

The world is not hopeless, because Michelle Obama slayed last night, and also because YOU are in it, and you are part of what makes it better. That's corny but it's true. Yeah, this has been a summer of suck, but we are the only damn things that will improve it. Be Your Own Lady challenge: tell me one thing about this summer (or 2016 in general) that has been really, really good. Let's change the narrative.