Safe Spaces…

…and apologies.

“The president-elect added: ‘The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize'”

Wait a minute. I thought there were no safe spaces. I thought we were supposed to accept and embrace reality.

There is absolutely nothing more insufferable than blazing hypocrisy.

For eight years, people have stomached vile rhetoric, listening to wretched commentary about the President and the First Lady. For hundreds of years, people have endured intense and indescribable pain which has been flippantly dismissed and/or excused.

Now, now we’re supposed to create safe spaces? After we have been told there are none, to get over it? Does anyone even listen to themselves?

If you are an asshole (yes, asshole) who:

1. promotes conversion therapy
2. supports defunding health care providers who provide legal procedures and stem cell research
3. voted against the auto industry bail out which shows zero understanding of economics and supply chain implications (small business owners, Imma lookin atchu)
4. opposes pay parity for women
5. supports the denial of equal rights for the LGBTQ community
6. voted against $84 million in grant money for black and hispanic schools

…then you reap what you sow.

If it’s a safe space you seek, find your basket.

And, President-Elect Trump, you don’t get to demand a fucking thing of the citizens you serve. You work for us. Not the other way around.

A Day in the Life of an Expat

I read the news today. Oh boy.

On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, I awoke in the five o’ clock hour and just lay there in a half-asleep state, my brain still feeling the effects of the sleeping pill I had taken before going to bed. I use them only rarely now, when I know it will be impossible to shut my brain off in order to fall sleep. This was one of those nights. The day before was the 2016 presidential election back in my home country, the USA. In Sweden we are several time zones ahead, so when I finally pulled my groggy ass out of bed at six AM, it was still going on. The polls had closed but they were counting up the votes. I went to sleep the night before feeling relatively confident that Hillary Clinton would win, hopefully with a sizable landslide. Of course she would win. Everybody said she would. They had totally dismissed Donald Trump’s chances and were already talking about her presidency in the present tense. When she wins, they said, the cult of personality started by Donald Trump and its zealous adherents will still be around, and they will be very pissed off and very loud. She will have to figure out how to deal with them and heal the country. This was the constant narrative being repeated during the final weeks leading up to the election.

But then, the totally unexpected happened, was still happening as a matter of fact, as I opened up Facebook fully anticipating the messages of triumph and joy from my American friends. However, those weren’t the messages I saw. Instead, I saw a lot of updates written in full caps, about the shock and despair and horror they were feeling. Wait a minute…

Thus began the Five Stages of Grief.

Denial:

My husband made us coffee as I sat there reading those updates, not fully comprehending what I was seeing. “Uh…so it looks like Trump won,” I reported. The words hit me like a sledgehammer. My heart was pounding in my chest, like I had just finished running a marathon. At first I actually thought this had to be a joke, that my friends were mistaken. Or they were trolling. I mean, there’s no possible way that Donald Trump could be the next president of the United States. Right? That’s just ludicrous.

“Whaaaat?!?” His response was undoubtedly being repeated around the world.

I should have been getting ready for work, but at that moment all I could do was sit there, ignoring my coffee and trying to figure out what had just happened, because it hadn’t really happened.

Bargaining:

After all, they were still counting up the votes and neither candidate had reached the 270 vote threshold in order to win. He was ahead but there was still hope. There was still time. It hadn’t happened yet. Hillary could still win. And she was AHEAD in the popular vote! But Trump had taken North Carolina and Ohio and…Florida. They said that if Trump took Florida then he would win. It was well and truly over.

Depression:

I somehow managed to shower and dress myself and board a train to take me into the city to work. I sat there on the train feeling completely numb. I no longer wanted to look at Facebook. The updates and articles being posted were just too goddamned depressing. I needed to try and focus on the day ahead of me, on my students. I teach Home Economics at an international school in Växjö, Sweden, and I went over the things that needed to be done. The ninth graders would be baking little meat pies and spinach-feta pies and I had to make sure I bought Quorn crumbles for the vegetarian students so they could substitute those for the ground beef in the meat pie. The sixth graders were making candy apples and caramel popcorn, and I was wondering where I put the Popsicle sticks.

I had to switch to a bus when I got to the train station in Växjö. It was a minus four (24 Fahrenheit) freezing cold morning, as November mornings in Sweden typically are. The bus was late, and as I stood there on the totally exposed bus platform, for fifteen minutes, then twenty, and then twenty five minutes, I watched bus after bus which wasn’t my bus drive by. I thought about jumping in front of one of them. I didn’t want to live on this planet anymore. Nothing made sense. Donald Trump had won the election. He had done every single thing wrong, lost all three debates, committeed gaffe after gaffe, and got caught doing and saying things that would have been deal breakers for literally any other candidate. And yet, he won. Hate had won. Sexism had won. Racism had won. Bigotry had won. Islamophobia had won. Xenophobia had won. Anti-Intellectualism had won. Stupidity had won. The Ugly American had won.

By the time the bus finally arrived, I couldn’t feel my toes, so instead of throwing myself under it, I boarded it and felt its delicious warmth surrounding my body.

Anger:

I eventually got to work. Groceries were bought and I welcomed the distraction of lively practical lessons. Every now and then, an American colleague would ask me, “So, are you a proud American?” in a can-you-believe-this-shit-is-happening kind of way. Swedish colleagues would ask me how I felt about the election, and I would tell them that it hadn’t really sunk in yet. Right before my last lesson, there was some kind of minor drama involving two students’ lockers. They both started chattering at me in rapid Swedish and I couldn’t really understand what they were saying. At that moment, I couldn’t have cared less, and I told them so. “I don’t care.” I was fighting back tears at this point. If I get an email from a parent informing me that they didn’t appreciate me telling their kid that I didn’t care about their problem, then I would apologize and tell them that Donald Trump had just been elected president and I was barely holding it together emotionally. And they would totally understand.

There was a staff meeting directly after my last lesson, but I decided to skip it. It was almost miraculous that I managed to show up to work at all. Throughout the day, a various times I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “WHAT IS HAPPENING????” As I sat on the bus on the way home, it finally sunk in. This was reality. And the tears finally came.

Acceptance:

For some reason, my left ankle was killing me all day. I must have taken a bad step and twisted it. I limped through my lessons and when I got home, my husband took a look at it and said it was all swollen and bruised, like it was sprained. I have no idea what happened. I certainly do not remember spraining my ankle. But I must have. Nothing to do now but deal with it.

La lutte est cruelle…

…Madame Kardashian West

Poor Kim Kardashian West whose pain we can all relate to. I, too, understand the sheer terror of being held at gunpoint in a *Parisian bathtub, losing that which I hold dear and value highly.

As the day wears on and we remain distracted by the news, as we so often are, let us remember all that is important for it is not Syrian refugees. It is not children without food, schools without textbooks or adults without jobs. It’s the fate of a woman whose diamond ring and grill was ripped from her possession. A woman whose sole existence is to promote an unrealistic body type to attain and lifestyle to emulate. A woman whose come-up was a sex tape. A woman who understood and upheld the integrity of marriage…for 72 days.

That is the true tragedy of the day. And a truly awful way to begin the Jewish New Year.

Let us pray.

*Change Paris to Rouen
Change bathtub to bathroom
Add:  stench of cat urine, three bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau, two hours of vomiting and not knowing where the wine ended and my insides began
Also:  jetlag

“I got yer fiscal responsibility…

…right here in my lapbanded gut.”  Governor Sammiches:  football seasons 2010 and 2011, somewhere in Fuck-All, New Jersey

Chris Christie has t3h munchies

Chris Christie has t3h munchies

Short and sweet:  how in the name of sweet holy fuck do you rack up $82,000 in expenses on fucking stadium food and beer when you have a gastric band in yo motherfucking belly?  Let’s just ask the resident blowhard in Joisey, Governor Chris Christie, to tell us.  But he won’t.  He can’t.  His mommy told him not to talk with food in his mouth.

Now, I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this astounding display of supply chain management discipline.  After all, we Sayers-of-the-Word-NO make damn sure there are limitations in place so the P-Card system couldn’t possibly be abused.  You know, used at places such as department stores and sports arenas.  Unless, of course, you’re the governor and you can throw any purchasing and contract grunt out on their ass with the snap of a greasy finger and toss of a chicken bone over one’s rotund shoulder and quadruple chin.

Awww.  I’m being hard on the man, am I?  Fuck him.  I’m going to call him a fat, miserable lout.  I’m going to take the low road and mock him whenever the opportunity presents itself and it’s not solely because he’s from the cesspool that is New Jersey, either.  I’m going to do it because he’s a double-talking, idiotic shitstain who yells at teachers and is, generally, a blight on humanity.

$82,000.  How many teachers, combined, make $82,000 Governor Sammiches?  Of the teachers you have verbally eviscerated while provolone cheese drips down your Jabba the Hutt chin, how many of those would have to work one year to make $82,000?  And, what would their personal financial outlay be to make sure their classrooms are appropriately equipped with all necessary supplies that you and your horned cohorts cut from budgets like you slice through butter to put on your margarine covered bread?

Governor Sammiches, you could come up with an iron clad alibi.  You could provide receipts showing that you took every single foster kid and/or orphan in your state to a game for Christmas for all I care.  There’s no excusing $82,000 on foodstuffs in two years.  I don’t spend $82,000 on stuffed animals, toys for my kid, my hair and my wardrobe in a decade and I can spend some money.  I’m so motherfucking talented at spending money, I made a career out of it.

Such a gross display of disregard for one’s office, one’s civic duty and the tax payers is so vile it doesn’t even merit a spot in the Go Fuck Yourself Weekly hall of shame.  Nope.  It merits a much nastier penalty:  living in New Jersey for the rest of your artery clogged, loud mouthed life.  And to be precise – Newark or Trenton.

Go Fuck Yourself Weekly: Ronald Reagan and His Sheeple

Thinking.  You’re doing it wrong.  Alternatively, not at all.

Good grief.  The stupid...it is powerful.

Good grief. The stupid…it is powerful.

This shit popped up today.  Isn’t it just sooooooo funny‽  Don’t you see the fucking hilarity of it all?  If Ronald Reagan was alive, ISIS would be WASWAS!!!!   ZOMG – The sheer brilliance of it all!  King Ronnie would shepherd his flock to safety.  He would save the world!  No more pesky and nagging threats from radical religious fundamentalists with a thirst for blood and an unyielding need for decapitating human beings.  Peace on Earth shall be.  Finally.  And after that, King Ronnie would quickly rid the world of the scourge that is Welfare Queens in Escalades.  Although, he’ll only do that to those who are of color.  White, corporate welfare queens; you are safe.  Kindly resume life in your ivory towers giving zero fucks about the struggle outside the moat.  It is not yours to manage.

And this is why Rainbow Dash is 20% cooler than you.

And this is why Rainbow Dash is 20% cooler than you.

What these people who post this tripe fail to understand is that Al-Qaeda and its bastard children are the fucking product of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.  In the spirit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Ronald Reagan armed, trained and developed the militia that is now Al-Qaeda (and subsequent splinter groups cum bastard children).  This is a fucking fact.  Yet, it’s so oft overlooked, I wonder where my generation was when this was in the news?  Oh wait – outside playing until the street lights come on.  That’s right.  I forgot about the series of memes waxing idiotic about the good old days when it was acceptable to beat your kids and kids didn’t sit in front of screens all of the time.  Also, do homework.

And, furthermore, how was Reagan going to deal with ISIS?  Was he going to deploy that monument to awesome military strategy taught to all West Pointers?  You know the one I’m talking about – running away like a fucking coward when 241 Marines were slaughtered in Beirut?

These people who think Ronald Reagan was the Second Coming (more like the Second Coming of Lucifer if you happen to be religious) seemingly overlook all that was wrong with the 80s.  They forget about the bullshit that is “Trickle Down Economics.”  Fuck that.  Why should any of us have to wait for a fucking trickle?  Why didn’t anyone ask that question?  You work hard.  You think a trickle is an acceptable reward for your labor?  This bitch doesn’t.  This bitch, like many other bitches, doesn’t break her back so an executive can have a golden parachute.

Iran/Contra.  I could go on for hours about that because I listened to every single hearing during the summer of 1987.  I’m emotionally scarred.  My shrink has advised me not to go back to that point in time.

The dissolution of the family farm.  Now, we have agricorporations.  It’s not unlike the health care model Nixon and Kaiser developed in the 70s.  Shut out the little guys, allow the big corporations to take over and *presto* instant monopoly, albeit legal.

These are mere highlights of one of the absolute worst things to befall this country.  And people line up to metaphorically gargle the balls of Saint Ronnie’s corpse.  Not even Nancy would go that far (unless her astrologer told her to).

So, for those spreading the ISIS/WASWAS, for those who ache for the golden era of Ronald Reagan and for Ronald Reagan and his political cabinet (less James Brady) – CONGRATULATIONS, MOTHERFUCKERS.  You are the recipient of this week’s Go Fuck Yourself Weekly award.

Don't like it?  There's the door, sugartits.

Don’t like it? There’s the door, sugartits.

While we’re on the subject of pens…

Ohhh…I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay. I write with a girly pen all day…

Perhaps, dear readers, you have already heard about Bic’s new “for her” line of ball point pens. They are nice and soft so as not to damage a woman’s delicate hands, and come in appropriately girly colors. Oh bless.

Okay, stop laughing. Take a deep breath and calm down. While this is definitely a “what were they thinking” kind of product, one may perhaps understand where they were coming from by examining some of Bic’s other products. They do produce pink disposable razors “for women” which are purchased most enthusiastically by the fairer sex. So why not market a special pink pen just for women?

Makes sense, right? Well…no. We’re not buying it, both literally and figuratively. However, while these women’s pens are totally stupid and utterly sexist, they have produced a number of hilariously ironic reviews on Amazon. This one is my favorite:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a pen.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a stationers, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their salespeople. However, this has not always been the case for young ladies.

“My dear Mr. Hodgson,” said my lady to me one day, “have you heard that Bic are making writing tools for ladies at last?”

I replied that I had not.

“But they are,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

I made no answer. Surely this could not be true, why would a woman have need of such a thing?

“Do not you want to know who will buy them?” cried my wife impatiently.

“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it,” I said.

This was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear, you must know, a well known online retail establishment have been selling these, and it has encouraged young Lizzy to attempt to write down her fanciful ideas . Apparently a young lady from a nearby town has even done so and attempted to write a book!”

“What is her name?” I asked her.

“Austen.”

“Is she married or single?”

“Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A man could never want to marry a young woman who thinks anything she has to say is so interesting it could need to be written down,” said my wife, most accurately.

And so it was that I assured her that there would be nothing to worry about, that women do not need special pens, no matter what Mr. Bic may think, and that nothing would ever come of this young ‘Jane Austen’ girl and her flights of fancy.

The End.

P.S. Lizzy says she is a bit fed up of pink and purple, when do we get some in a nice floral pattern?

Teaching is hard. Teaching well is even harder.

The 1969 side describes what I endured in school.

Whenever I suggest that teaching is a difficult job, there’s always someone who says that being a teacher is nothing compared to, say, being a police officer or a firefigher or a soldier. Fair enough. Those jobs are more definitely more difficult than teaching. Though, I do find it oddly satisfying that the only examples of occupations they can think of that are more difficult than teaching are those which involve dealing with criminals and junkies, running into burning buildings, and fighting in wars.

The “1969” side pretty much describes what being a student was like for me. I remember  how awful and humiliated I felt when I had to present my parents with substandard grades. Yet, they would never dream of blaming my teachers for my poor academic performance, even if it was partially their fault. And whist it is true that today’s students are more narcissistic than they were in my day, the issue is not as black and white as the above image indicates.

Now that I am a teacher I know that teachers, parents, and students are all responsible for a student’s education and results. Getting students through school is a team effort, and each member has to do his or her part. Therefore, all the blame for poor academic performance cannot be placed solely on the teacher or the student.

Having said that however, it’s true that there are “bad” teachers out there whose jobs are protected, and who keep on working long after they’ve burnt out and should have retired. They get to keep their jobs because of seniority, and the younger teachers are often let go, even if they have union protection. The unions can’t always protect you if the school can convince them that they don’t need you anymore and can give your duties to another teacher.

This happens all the time. It has happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to colleagues, many of whom are extremely capable and popular teachers.

Whenever someone suggests to me that teachers have it too easy, I tell them that they should consider becoming a teacher. If it’s that easy and you get off work early and get all those vacations off, then what are you waiting for? It sounds fantastic, right? Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Most people, actually, because teaching is hard. Teaching well is even harder.

Natural Beauty

With arms held high, she cheers
the lastest Eurovision Song Contest number.

With arms held high,
her natural armpits displayed
in all their shockingly unshaven glory.

The video becomes viral on YouTube.

She is called disgusting, repulsive,
unhygenic, and worst of all, unsexy.

She probably doesn’t shave her
pubic area either.

Or her legs.

Unsexy.

How dare she?

Doesn’t she know that
women are supposed to remove
all of their hair, apart
from what’s on the top of their heads?

And their eyebrows. But those should be
meticulously shaped, plucked or waxed.

At least today.

“So what’s with the eyebrows?”
I was repeatedly asked by students
when I took them to see a Frida Kahlo exhibit.

In those days in Mexico, thick bushy eyebrows were
considered sexually attractive.

“Really?? Gross!!!”

But armpit hair? That’s inexcusible.
That’s outrageous.

And as I get ready for another
painful sesson of waxing and plucking
of extraneous facial hair,
I wonder how it got that way.

The Cheeseburger Perspective

“It’s music that makes people come together. It’s like this, if we see the world in cheeseburger perspective, if the world didn’t have any music it would be like a cheeseburger without the cheese. That’s what I think.”

These were the concluding sentences in a student’s essay about the power of music. To me it sounds like the end of a Mark Base blog post.

A wandering liturgy of sorts…..

And now is when it’s supposed to happen
Open the book, and spill myself out onto the page,
Explain my hypocrisy,
Write away my rage,
Offer up my innocence, insist upon my innocence,
Try to explain my innocence,
But not in a defensive, not in a defensive way,
Just trying to be factual,
Let you know what actually happened,
What I was thinking, what I was thinking,
What was I thinking?
Oh mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy me,
Help me to be, help me to be myself,
At one with myself,
Not trying to please everybody else,
Not trying to do what’s expected, don’t want to be rejected,
But I’ve got to learn that sometimes it’s okay,
A little rejection never hurt anyone, never hurt anyone,
Never killed anyone,
It’s good, it’s good, yeah it’s good
It’s good for the soul