Tuesday, March 27, 2018

They Are Students; They Are Victims; They Are Change--Ready For The Revolution

Is it almost Every Day now? Because it feels like almost Every Day--that almost Every Day a school is On Lockdown, or there is a School Shooting, or we're in the Aftermath of a School Shooting. It feels sad and hopeless, yet I'm full of outrage and anger and motivation, like I have to lift a wrecked car off of my child in order to save him.

I was more than midway through my teaching career when Columbine happened in 1999. Despite teaching in one of Ohio's "Big Urbans," I doubt one of us ever imagined a single one of our students capable of a mass shooting. Some of our kids were in and out of juvie, several had incarcerated parents, and to find more than a handful in class with the same last name as both parents (or their single parent) was relatively unusual. A high percentage qualified for free or reduced lunch. Many lived in public housing. The odds were stacked against so many of our kids, yet the idea of a Columbine-like event at our high school of 2000+ was unthinkable.  We were largely ignorant as to the profile of the typical adolescent mass shooter, and we were never given any education, even after the incident.

After it happened, the school district immediately tightened security. All exits would remain locked; teachers would be posted at the doors, admitting no one except through the main entrance (and no, we did not get hazard pay).  Students and staff were photographed for I.D. badges, to be worn on a lanyard around their necks at all times, which the kids found ridiculous and irritating. I reminded them that we were a huge school of three floors, three buildings, and that outsiders had sneaked into our school plenty of times. Besides, it wasn't costing them any money.  "This is stupid!" they protested. "The Columbine shooters were Columbine students!"  The discussion pretty much stopped when one student said, "The I.D.'s are so they can identify our bodies."  I retired in 2011, tossing my I.D. badge into the trash can.

Six months later, I joined a community of bloggers trying to grieve the losses of more than twenty grade school children at Sandy Hook by "writing it out". And astonishingly, two short months after that, and about fifty miles from my home, a terrifyingly disturbed boy walked into Chardon High School and murdered his classmates.

Incredibly, I still have so many of the same Outrages, Questions, and Sadnesses today. Because of Inaction. Because of Unwillingness. Because, it seems, of Abject Cowardice by the same politicians and, overwhelmingly, the same political party. Do they not have Children? A Sense Of Humanity? A Soul?

I know that so many of you share my feelings. And I hope you have had a chance to watch and listen to the empowering and encouraging speeches given by the young activists at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. They are inspiring and moving. (Just search "March for Our Lives speeches" on YouTube). These Parkland teens have benefitted from a rich program of the arts and debate and a school system that helped them understand critical thinking and verbal expression. Add that to their ready use of social media platforms, and a true Movement was born. The most vital part of the speeches--aside from their obvious emotional impact--was the idea that they stressed VOTING FOR CHANGE. Tables were set up at these and sibling rallies to register voters and to provide information regarding voting. This injects more momentum to the already-inspired women and minority voters and candidates who have scored seats locally and statewide, building to a Blue Wave in the midterms.

Before I end, I want you to meet Parkland survivor Sam Fuentes. As she took cover from the shooter, a bullet tore through her leg, and shrapnel chewed into her face. Pieces of it behind her eye and cheek will remain there forever, like the memories of her ordeal. She had to post pictures of her injured face from her hospital bed and screen shots of her bleeding body being loaded into the ambulance to try and silence social media trolls and pro-NRA conspiracy theorists. She watched her friend Nick Dworet die, and it would seem her struggles with PTSD are likely far from over. Despite all of this, she took the stage on Saturday and read a slam poetry-styled speech, displaying the humanity and authenticity that is sorely lacking in Washington, D.C. Her courage and conviction, in the midst of becoming physically and emotionally overwhelmed, should inspire us all.  Please watch and listen;  you'll be so, so very glad that you did.

protest sign

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Meme: Love It/Hate It

Yikes! Almost two weeks since my last post. Lots of excuses, but let's leave them be and jump right in with something that makes it easy to Get Back At It (the It being writing a blogpost).

Quicky Monday Meme: Love/Hate Relationships

1. What song/kind of music always makes you feel good/irritated?
     80s music always makes me feel good, and so does Tina Turner or Earth, Wind, and Fire.
     All country music irritates the hell out of me.  All of it.  All the time.

2. What are among your best/worst traits?
     A few of my best traits are empathy, tolerance, and my ability to organize.
     My worst traits are impatience, impatience, and probably impatience.

3. What food did you used to like but now you don't?
     I used to like ham, sloppy joes, and fish; I don't anymore.

4. What book did everyone else love but you didn't?
     Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
     Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

5. Fill in the blanks: I love my ______, but I hate (its/their/the)______.
     I love my cats, but I hate their hair.
     I love my country but I hate what the republicans are doing to it.
     I love my blog, but I hate how worky it sometimes feels to keep up with it.
Your turn in Comments.


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Who Knew Salad Could Be So Racy? Sign Language Saturday On A Tuesday

Photo Dept. of Nance

Great sense of humour over at the ad agency in charge of the layout of this ad, which arrived in my mail today for a local grocery store.

Too bad it's the Baby Spinach that's "washed & ready to enjoy."  What a missed opportunity.
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