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

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

I’m Sorry, Mr. Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961

A couple of years ago, I set a goal for myself to start reading the American classics. It made me feel smarter to think I might one day know how to namedrop all of our most famous literary icons with real authority. I wanted to know all about the ones about whom my friends say, “Oh my God! He’s my favorite author!”

I especially wanted to fall in love with Ernest Hemingway. I’d saved myself for him, for after I finished writing my own book and was no longer in the middle of any other novels. I wanted to give him my undivided attention because everything I’d read about him pointed towards adoration. I anticipated a long, sexy summer reading about falling in love during the Spanish American War, bullfights in Spain and cafes in Paris, and salty men repairing fishing nets…all being ideas that made me swoon in romantic anticipation. I bought six of his most famous works and downloaded them all at once. Satisfaction was 100% guaranteed. A perfect collection of beach books, right? I nestled in. Read more

I Vote for Me: Death With Dignity

Brittany Lauren Maynard 1984-2014

At the urging of a friend, I picked up the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes at the beginning of this year. I’d heard my friend mention just a few of the key points of the novel as she discussed at our lunch table how emotional it was for her: Super active, good-looking, vivacious, wealthy young guy becomes a quadriplegic after he’s hit while on his motorcycle by a speeding car. Then a doting, attentive, pretty young girl is hired to take care of him, and naturally they fall in love. I thought it was just the book for me. I’d actually thought about this kind of thing in my own life, a lot:

Who would take care of me if something terrible like that happened? Could I take care of someone in that situation? Read more

Reflections of a Former Bookseller

Photo Credit: Instagram @coffeeeyesandblankstares.

I visited one of my absolute favorite places today, Barnes and Noble. I was looking for a blogging planner which they did not have, yet I still managed to leave with $50.00 worth of stuff I just couldn’t live without.

Each time I walk through those heavy wooden doors, the smell of paper and leather filling my nose, I am overwhelmed with happiness. See, two years ago I decided to check this place off my bucket list and get a Christmas-season job there. I had the time off from work, and I thought the extra money would be helpful for my holiday spending (be assured, there was no extra money). B&N was just one of those places I always thought would be an amazing place to work, and it was. Read more

#icantbreathe

Photo Credit: Instagam @thegraffitibridge.

The Ferguson riots got me thinking. When something takes hold of my obsessive mind, I grind on it until I practically get on my own nerves thinking about how to think about it. I have mastered trying to stay somewhere inside of a calm, reassuring middle ground on most topics and I attempt to wield a righteous sword of fairness all the time. But like I said, the Ferguson rioting really got to me. And then the Eric Garner case upset me too, although in a totally different way. That ambivalence with which I approach most every debate found itself being tested as I looked for that perfect dose of rationality in the controversy over who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy” these days. Read more