American For Sale

Emilio after his naturalization was final. PC: Andrew Payne

As my time teaching and living with teenagers draws closer to an end, I am finding it hard to keep my excitement contained. Teenagers are exhausting in their very own unique way, anyone who knows them would attest to this. So I remind myself constantly that soon this stage in my life will be over and I will be free of these highly-charged, 100-mph, full-bore years forever and be on to something less…less…everything. Read more

American Trilogy: Race, Sheetcaking and the Media

PC: Instagram @goldenpoppyprints

I opened a hurtful email at work yesterday from a man I don’t even know. He went to some trouble to find me after he saw an image of my high school government class visiting with a local Congressman, a man who, in his opinion, didn’t have the proper responses to the race rioting up north. He reached out to me to tell me how important it is for me to teach Race (he used a capital R) properly, as if I didn’t know that already. Read more

PRIDE

PC: Instagram @hotstuffhoulihands Visit FUSION Salon, on Pensacola Beach!

P is for Profit. I had a great many conversations with many new friends this past weekend about how much money PRIDE brings to Pensacola Beach.

What is PRIDE, you ask? It’s Gay Pride.

There’s a whole movement dedicated to celebrating this vibrant and controversial way of life. I drove for Uber for three days this past Memorial Day Weekend as this decades-long festival descended down onto the beach I call home and I also changed my mind about a great many misconceptions this event perpetuates amongst the locals.

I know you’re wondering just how much, so I’ll tell you: I made about two hundred dollars doing little more than transporting PRIDE-ers between Portofino and Flounders over and over and over. Anyone who worked on the beach over those three days made some impressive bank. As I discussed this fact with my many, many Uber passengers, I admitted to them that just a few years ago when every business on this island was suffering from the BP oil spill, I would’ve bet my life that we would have been begging for their PRIDE dollars back then. It’s tough on this beach when no one’s coming over that bridge to visit. Read more

Conscientious Objector

I’ve been teaching Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics for almost ten years now. Ask any student who has passed through my classroom in that time to name one thing I taught them. They would likely tell you that I emphasized over and over again the importance of enlightened voting.

If you don’t vote, don’t complain. It’s what I always say.

One of the most exciting moments in my teaching career was being offered the opportunity to appear on The Colbert Report in 2012 as a feature of the show’s “People Destroying America.” (Watch it HERE)  Stephen Colbert humorously pointed out that by registering young people to vote, I was partly responsible for empowering them to upend Establishment politics. He used his trademark satirical humor to highlight my efforts at emboldening youngsters (the most powerful voting bloc in the United States, by the way) to cast a ballot from the moment they were able, understanding that young voters become super-voters over the span of their lifetimes. We had so much fun filming that segment and I will never get tired of being known as that “Voter Fraud Teacher.” I love, love LOVE being the chick teacher who teaches other smart chicks and dudes how to wield political power at the voting booth. Read more

Love Always Wins

PC: Instagram @marjeth26

I posted a Tweet about the horrific Orlando nightclub shooting and then I deleted it, which is something I don’t normally do. When I tweet, I tweet with authority, come what may. But this time I caught myself writing and then backspacing what I had to say because on the one hand I was being social-media certain that everyone knew that I knew that it was most-definitely an Islam-fueled terrorist attack even before the official announcement indicated so. But hold on. At the same time, as a Christian I don’t want others assuming that some radical bible-thumping gay-hater was committing this crime against gays in the name of Jesus, which was also a possibility. The irony is, they are both the same kinds of accusations and I don’t want to be any part of that kind of nonsense. Read more

When In Rome

PC: Instagram @black_market_ltd

I put my hand on her arm and squeezed gently, the kind of touch I was hoping brought back a small reminder to her that I was one of those teachers who was always on her side. Then when I saw that she did remember, I leaned in closer and we whispered.

Me: I know what you’re thinking. I know how you feel. But it’s just one day; it’s just one more rule that you have to follow just one more time, here. Then, never again.

Her: Can I at least wear pants IF I wear a shirt and tie?

Me: No. It’s the rules. Can you challenge them and win? Yes, we both know you can. But for just this one time, at this one last event, can you please do this for me?

Read more

Perspective

PC: Instagram @till_wurner_art

This morning I woke up with a woman’s body and a champion’s mind, thankful that I have never known what it must feel like to be punished or discriminated against just because I’m female. I have never felt anything but equal, and respected, and often times I’ve felt empowered, too, especially being a woman. I love who I am now, at this age, much more than the woman I was ten years ago and so much more, a million times more than who I was twenty years ago.

I woke up this morning after a good, peaceful night’s rest, knowing that I live in a country where I am allowed to arm and defend myself against anyone who threatens me or my family, and I am capable of doing it if I had to. Read more

Love Them Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments

PC: Instagram @youcanseestarsfromhere

Each day at least once it happens. Sometimes on particularly trying days, it feels like it happens all day long.

I get some bad news or I see something upsetting and I find the “Anyway” verses tapping me on the shoulder and wagging their fingers at me. For as far back as I can remember, these words come to mind: Love them anyway. Do it anyway. Create anyway. Read more

Ladyboss

PC: Instagram @tapeatale

I think we can all blame Disney for our hang-ups about our hair. Since our wee years, we are taught that all of the beautiful princesses have long, voluminous tresses. Cascading hair is mythically, historically, and symbolically associated with youth and fertility. Look up any society in history and you’ll see… the themes are the same. Even in Native American societies, warriors wanted the horses with the longest, thickest manes to ride into battle because they looked more menacing and majestic, more desirable. (How impressive it must have been to see a battle horse in the throes of war, or in the heat of a hunt, its long hair flowing out behind it.) Read more

Sex and Economics

PC: Instagram @thepetitereader

In 1991, I was forced to enroll in your typical, freshmen-level Economics-101 class at Minot State University in North Dakota. It was utterly coma-inducing to be honest, like you probably think this blog post is going to be after seeing the word Economics in the title, but stay with me for a minute.

Knowing that only a small fraction of the 80 or so students in the class would ever need an in-depth knowledge of supply and demand curves, the professor offered us an alternative assignment: Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and complete a 2000-word essay on what we learned. Anything we learned. However we interpreted it, let it be known that we gleaned something inspiring from the mammoth 1000-page novel. So thinking it was the easier option, I read it as a teenager and predictably wrote my paper on the value of capitalism. It was a snoozer.

I’ve since traversed through my 44 years never needing to know too terribly much about surpluses and shortages, just as my professor predicted. This past year, I found myself teaching Economics to my 12th graders and believe me when I tell you, it’s a class that’s still coma-inducing, so I made them the same offer: read Atlas Shrugged and tell me what you get out of it. I also decided to give the book another run-through myself just so I could be prepared to answer their questions.

It was like I was reading an entirely different novel! All the capitalism/socialism stuff remained familiar but there were new ideas in there about sex and the relationships between men and women that I couldn’t have or wouldn’t have appreciated when I was 19 years old. Ayn Rand, a woman whose fame comes entirely from her Objectivism philosophy and her knowledge of the path of the American economy, also incorporated an INCREDIBLE understanding of the sexual tendencies in men and women. I couldn’t believe it! Please read on! Read more