Uncategorized

Let’s Get Personal: Angry at Teaching

I have been a public school teacher for the past 12 years, so when a member of my awesome Facebook book group asked me why I was leaving teaching to pursue literally anything else (disclaimer: that pays close to what I’m making now with benefits) I knew that my answer couldn’t be sufficiently summed up in a facebook comment.  So I promised a blog, but as I’ve been simmering about how best to structure this post I found that the myriad of reasons and influences that caused me to be ousted from my chosen profession is very tangled and difficult to sort out without telling my life story from 2005 to today.

But honest to god, ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

So I decided the best place to start would be to address how we view education in America. From the very beginning of public schooling here in the states, teachers and teaching was viewed as a noble and sacrificing position. There were very clear rules for those who chose to become teachers:

Rules for teachers

I want you to read those very carefully, because they are rules that still influence how teachers are treated today. Every year at the beginning of school at teacher meetings there is always some kind of comment made that’s like “hey look, you can drink and go to clubs and stuff but remember…kids go to the same grocery stores as you sooooo” and it’s wild. Teachers are expected to be faceless, lifeless bringers of knowledge whose reputation is without blemish and when they are not working they are at home, grading papers and watching Wheel of Fortune and definitely not titties and dragons.

When I first started teaching I remember that a “sensual items” store opened a few streets up from our school in Arizona. We had no less than THREE MEETINGS about how it’s on the news and make sure if you go there you’re not seen or don’t go straight there from school because people might be watching. I’m dead serious guys, it’s wild. I’ve never owned a vibrator, but I can’t imagine how going to buy one would do anything but improve my mood and ability to deal with your little crotch nuggets of despair.

I want to return to that second rule where it says teachers should whittle the nubs individually based on the pupils desires or some shit. Education is one of those things that EVERYONE has done so EVERYONE thinks they know how it works. And because teachers have basically been told not to share personal things or have flashy personal lives and since the United States is so fucking Puritan about EVERYTHING, EVERYONE thinks things should be done the way THEY experienced it when they were in school. “Whittle my student’s nub like my nub!” they scream. And the parents of Jimmy and Kyllyaynn’e decide they know more about teaching kids than someone who has been doing this for 12 years, gets up at 5am and goes home at 4pm only to spend 2-3 more hours grading once they get there, has two advanced degrees in the art of teaching and is trained to handle all of this. But he got a B and YOU think he deserved an A so I must not have graded it correctly. Yes, that must be it. Allow me to whittle your nub into an A so you’ll take your fist out of my ass.

So I can’t have a life, I can’t make mistakes, and I must keep the public happy instead of providing them with the truth. And now, when families are provided with the hard truth that they live in a community with a failing school, they scamper to private, charter, or online schools (they call this homeschooling, but really it’s just sending your kid to public school at home), creating a market economy for a public service. This strips away academic freedom and truthfulness in K-12 education when you make teachers put on a show, inflate grades, and lie to families to practically bribe them into staying at your school, because public schools get funding based on enrollment, not based on any even distribution method. And I can’t even begin to talk about the fact that even if failing schools retained their students, often the influence of poverty and other socioeconomic status effects are so great that there is nothing teachers can do to make a school succeed. We are teachers, not societal fixers. I can’t afford to feed myself and my family sometimes. I can’t feed other people’s children so they’ll learn about playing the flute or graphing linear functions. Also I’m trained to prepare a curriculum to maximize student learning. I do not have a public policy degree.

Sorry, this is turning into a rant that I wanted to be more organized but fuck it we’re here now. I also kind of resent that I haven’t been able to be myself since 2005. I don’t even remember who I really am anymore because I have to constantly play-act the perfect teacher so students AND my fellow educators are happy. You think dealing with parents and families is the hard part? Try keeping up with the political hoops and misery-loves-company bullshit that teachers and administrators heap on each other. I made the mistake of trusting and confiding in a few fellow teachers in my first couple of years of teaching, but never again. Honest to god without a strong teacher’s union you should be very careful about what you say and to whom you say it, because the moment another teacher needs a leg up with administration they will spill those beans and feel no qualms about throwing you under the big yellow bus. And I can’t even get started right now on how we have always pitted teachers against each other in terms of which class is more important, which teacher must be smarter because of what they teach (how many times have you heard people make fun of PE teachers?) and how we should use some subjects to punish others (i.e. you can’t be in band if you don’t get a good grade in math). And probably even more serious, at the elementary level teachers act as breaks for other teachers, e.g. when a 3rd grade teacher takes her class to art, they come to see the art teacher as their babysitter while they go to lunch or have a break, creating a hierarchy of real vs. “special” teachers.

Google “teachers” and go to images. We are expected to love our students, to instill a love of learning, to understand our students and individualize instruction to each student’s individual needs, all the while with a smile on our face because while we might not get paid enough, we do it for the children. We do it because we care. We do it because we are the agents of the future.

FUCK YOU. All of this shit from not drinking to keeping our mouths shut to acting the part to romanticising the profession is 100% BULLSHIT. I do this job because I am fucking AMAZING at it and I NEED A PAYCHECK. Do you think I’m here because I’m a bored housewife and I want to give back to my community? I AM A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL. I HAVE A BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S DEGREES IN THIS PROFESSION. I have student loans to pay. I don’t want kids, but if I did I couldn’t have them because they are so expensive that I couldn’t afford them on a teacher’s salary that is paying off student loans and trying to keep my head above water. I. AM. A. GREAT. TEACHER. and I fucking hate teaching now.

Anyone who says they love teaching is lying to you. No I don’t want to argue about it. No I don’t want to hear exceptions, I want to generalize. Saying you love teaching is just another survival mechanism, like saying becoming a parent is the greatest decision you ever made when you discover you hate having kids but there is no going back and what are you going to do say you hate being a parent and have everyone think you are a monster? THAT IS WHAT TEACHING IS LIKE. People can’t understand when I say I hate teaching but I’m good at it so it’s what I do. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s bullshit because eventually that thing you love is going to become a grind and you’re going to hate having to do it every day. Do what you’re good at and you’ll never have to worry about losing a paycheck a day in your life – now that’s more like it. Save what you love for a hobby and make those dollahs.

In summary…

I’m leaving teaching because it’s no longer the profession I thought it would be. When I do something, I do it right and I work hard to be the best I can be at that thing. Those efforts are not rewarded, and in some cases actively punished or discouraged, in the field of teaching. This post does not include all of the reasons I am leaving teaching, and I may post again about it, but what is most important to understand and take away is that unless you have been educated and trained to be a teacher, and unless you have taught and struggled through being a teacher/colleague, there is no possible way you would see all of the parts of what makes this profession a constant disappointment to whomever invests their time and money to be a part of it.

Here’s hoping my accounting and librarian applications pan out. Deuces.

Uncategorized

Unboxing: Owl Crate (April)

I am currently in search of a book subscription box that I can unbox for you all on a regular basis. Until I find one that I really like, I’ll be gifting them to myself once a month. First up is OwlCrate. They have three subscription options: monthly, 3-month prepay, and 6-month prepay – $29.99, $86.98, and $167.94 respectively. Usually I would say go for the 6 month for the savings but that averages out to $27.99 per month and this is the kind of crate that is a “surprise” so you might want to buy as you go when the vendors/contributors and theme strike your fancy.

It comes with a YA novel every month with other knickety knack accoutrements centered around a theme. April’s theme was “head over heels.”

*Video Edit: I said the book I reviewed Monday was You Before Me, but obviously it’s Me Before You and I’m a dumbass.*

I had fun making this video. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

 

 

Uncategorized

On Podcasts: The Read

Screenshot 2017-04-25 at 9.34.05 PM

I have moved several times since I graduated from undergrad. Each time I have managed to build up a small group of friends that I get close to, before moving again and shedding those friends because despite the internet, distance doesn’t make friendship grow fonder. At this point most of my friends are either friends I made from meeting/being with the husband or friends I have been brave enough to trust on the internet but whom I have never met. Close friends are hard to come by, and I can’t remember the last time I just had people over to hang out. Kid Fury and Crissle have moved to New York, and are keeping each other company as they discover their new environment.

pizza

What I absolutely love about The Read is that it feels like I’m sitting around, having a drink, and chatting with friends. It doesn’t matter that half the time I don’t know anything about the music or celebrities they are talking about, I learn by listening and they are so goddamn hilarious that it makes learning fun! I sit and I listen and I get to make fun of the Kardashians or Kanye or pay homage to Beyonce or learn about whatever the Real Housewives are doing (I don’t watch, but I know what this is). I love listening to them talk to each other. I love it when they disagree and I love it when they get into it with each other because they are so, fucking, respectful about it.

All joking and paparazzi stuff aside, their Reads at the end of the podcast are really deep and wonderful. They talk about some very personal things and some very serious things, from coming out to family members to dealing with hypocritical nonsense at work – it’s really worth a listen.

My only complaint (and it’s not even a complaint, just a problem for me, not for them) is that the individual podcasts are SO LONG. It’s difficult for me to listen to one all in one sitting, so when I come back to it I lose the comedic/conversational flow a little bit when I want to listen to the second half.

Despite the length, I always look forward to sitting down and shooting the shit with these new friends. Take a moment and go take a listen yourself. You’ll feel refreshed, informed, and entertained.

Uncategorized

A Court of Thorns and Roses (#1)

COTAR

I love the Throne of Glass series, and that love encouraged me through this first, slightly understuffed pillow of a book. Again, there is the flavor of Beauty and the Beast which seems to be the tale as old as time in a lot of my books lately. Instead of her father stealing a rose, Feyre kills a wolf and sets things in motion. The overarching idea is that we have Fae and High Fae that live in Prythian, and there is a magical wall that protects the human world in the South from the multiple Fae courts of the North (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Dawn, Day, and Night). Humans cannot enter Prythian, but the Fae can travel into the human world.

It turns out that the wolf Feyre kills is actually a Fae in his animal form, and Tamlin (the High Lord of the Spring Court) comes to the human realm to claim her life in exchange for the one she took. She comes to live with him and slowly discovers the secrets and horrors of the Fae world. He discovers she likes to paint and gives her a gallery and another room in which to paint her own works (a la B &the B library scene), and eventually when the lurking danger becomes too immediate he sends her back to her family, and turns to face his fate alone. The only major difference is the set of trials Feyre has to face when she returns to save him and has to outwit Aramantha, the Queen of the High Fae who holds court Under the Mountain.

This book was…derivative. The sex scene was pretty hot, but my one complaint is the major complaint I have with all Disney movies: when did they have time to fall in love? How were they together enough to develop these feelings? Tamlin knew about the curse, so how did he organically fall in love with Feyre without feeling the duty to? If you read the book I ask you to let me know when you start feeling any chemistry outside of the one scene where he goes to her room. It’s emotionally barren. She doesn’t even know their history or that there is a curse, as Belle does in B & the B, so there would be no real reason to feel love out of pity even. When Tamlin suddenly tells her he loves her, I don’t believe it. It comes out of nowhere. He lets her go so she won’t be brutally murdered. The Beast lets Belle go because he loves her and wants her to go to take care of her father because he is sick and alone, and he knows that would bring her pain and unhappiness to know of that suffering and not be able to care for him. He is willing to let her go back because he cares about her happiness. If you love something let it go, and all that. Tamlin orders Feyre to leave because he doesn’t want her to be killed. I mean, I guess it’s the same but I would argue that the empty declarations of love plus the motive for sending her away does not endear me to Tamlin’s character. Any decent person would send her away to save her life.

The ending was very nice. The way the High Fae thank Feyre for her efforts and sacrifice is admirable and enviable. It holds hope and promise for the future. I hope it portends hope and a future for this series, because while I will be moving on to the second book out of respect for Sarah J Maas, had she not been at its helm it would have gone the way of dropped series.

Uncategorized

Me Before You

me before you

My immediate impression was that we were dealing with a bit of a Beauty and the Beast setup – an odd girl who doesn’t fit in goes to care for a gruff, shut-in quadriplegic man and “then somebody bends unexpectedly.” But then she discovers that he is planning to go to Dignitas, an assisted suicide center in Switzerland, and the book becomes an exploration of the indignity of life as a disabled person and a race to see if she can convince him to choose life.

The story isn’t just about this though. There is a theme there about how parents treat their children. Will’s parents are equal parts distant and overbearing. His mother especially goes into extreme overprotective mode after the accident (he is hit by a motorcycle crossing the street) and basically assumes he shouldn’t be left to do anything himself.  Louisa’s parents do that thing parents do when they wish their kids would get their shit together – sideways jabs, guilt trips, veiled insults – as she returns time and time again to the job search center to help earn an income for her family. Parents are kind of jerks and you know they mean well but you wish they would be quiet.

In an age of increased advocacy, this book also speaks to the struggles of life as a disabled person. Disabilities run a gamut, and present a plethora of difficulties that the world should accommodate for, and in no way do the obstacles in this book speak for all people, but it gives a glimpse into the concerns of a world that many able bodied people may not even think about.

The overall idea of this book that really captured my heart is the idea that we should listen to what other people love/think/feel and take them at their word. I think I’ve said this before, we live in a world where everyone is screaming into the void, hoping someone will notice them and learn about them and understand them but it is so rare to encounter someone who actually listens, let alone acts on that knowledge. Also everyone feels like they know you better than you might know yourself and they tell you so. There is a great scene in the book, it’s Louisa’s birthday and she invites Will to attend her birthday dinner at her home (and we get the omg he’s rich and my house is such a hovel stuff). Her distant and disconnected boyfriend gets her a gold chain with a small star on it which initially made me feel like “aw, it’s quirky and at least he got her something” until Will gives her two pair of bumblebee tights (black and yellow striped) that he had made for her when she said she loved them as a kid and wished she could have some now but that she couldn’t find them anywhere to buy. My emotions in that scene betrayed me; I felt how I so often feel when people get me gifts, putting out the “well it’s the thought that counts” and feigning thankfulness – it was so familiar and well rehearsed. But when she unwrapped the tights, I think I cried a bit. Someone heard her. Someone listened to her heart. Someone made it about her on her birthday, which is what it should be. Now the obvious, much more serious example is that Will’s family should support his decision to end his own life given his circumstances, but I feel like that example could be a bit…divisive? It’s the same idea though.

There are studies on studies on studies that talk about how using social media actually makes people feel more lonely. I maintain that I would rather be completely alone than be in a room full of people and feel lonely. Said another way, sometimes loneliness feels even worse when you have people around you. It’s like you get into an argument with yourself “look at all these people, why do you feel lonely? Is something wrong with you? You have no excuse!”

This book isn’t about social media, but our characters are isolated and forced to deal with their lives alone despite the fact that they are surrounded by others. They are lonely. Who is listening? Who really cares about them? Reading this book allowed me to enjoy the moments when people got out of their own way to truly care about others and honor their wishes.

PS: This book did not make me cry. Don’t be afraid to read it. 🙂

Uncategorized

Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Dreams

This week I am so glad to be back and posting again. The downside to having a full-time job and trying to have a consistent online presence is that the full-time job will always take precedence over reading or posting. I do my best to balance both but this is the busy season for the job I do, and some weeks are more difficult than others.

I do have dreams though. In this second year of blogging about books I’m already beginning to think about how I might expand what I do here. How might I turn this into something that I feel comfortable asking for donations or starting a Patreon over? Since I felt so motivated and glad to be back and angry, I thought I would share some of them with you.

  • Libraries of America

I want to travel domestically and make those trips short vacations away from my day to day to spend time alone. I would love to travel to states and locations with awesome, interesting, small, and unique libraries. I’ve thought about interviewing the employees of the libraries and taking pictures of the buildings and interiors, maybe arriving at a time of year when large book sales or events take place. This would take some research and time to contact the libraries to ask permission to interview and document, but I feel like it might be a nice project for year 3 in 2018.

  • Podcast: Angry Angel Book Nook

Podcasts are a dime a dozen and they haven’t completely caught on yet, but their popularity is rising. I would love to carve a small niche into the market and start making my voice heard. I’ve been listening to several different podcasts to get in idea for the flow, timing, and content that is present, and I’m going to start focusing in more on book podcasts specifically this summer to hear what’s already being done that I would like to emulate and to find ways that I can be new and different. This is something I’d like to begin doing this summer so I can catch the podcast wave before it crests, so if you have ideas for what you’d like to see let me know!

  • Little Free Library Online

This would be, hands down, my most difficult idea to bring to fruition. I have been seeing so many posts lately about Little Free Libraries (official website here) and it’s something I would love to do but (a) we live near a school and I don’t trust the kids that walk by, (b) we rent so I’m not sure we would be able to put something like that up, and (c) Florida is gross and I wouldn’t want to leave books outside like that.

So I’ve been brainstorming how I might set up an online database for a free library that ships out via media mail. I would need a way to show that a book has been “taken” from the little library, and I don’t necessarily want a holds/wait list like a traditional library so I would need to put it back up if it was returned. I’m also not sure about whether I even want a return policy, because the whole point is that maybe that book won’t come back, but I think I would want to offer a return envelope or something. Also I need an address where book donations and returns could be sent, because little libraries are where people can leave books as well.

This is huge and requires more research and planning, but it’s something I can’t stop thinking about and I really want to try.

***

These are three things that I can’t stop thinking about. I want to do them, I want to make them a reality.  If you have ideas or suggestions for podcast content, programs that you know about that might be helpful, or suggestions about libraries in your area that might be worth visiting, let me know! I love hearing from you. 🙂 Thanks for reading and I’m so glad to have been back with you this week. Stay angry!

Uncategorized

Angry Angel Abandonment: All Our Wrong Todays

all our wrong todays

When I began this book I felt like I had read it before, and I realized I kind of had. It felt like a weird combination of the tv show Fringe, the book Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and this other book Version Control by Dexter Palmer (that I didn’t finish or review here, but it has the same vibe). The central ideas are as follows: (1) there are other timelines, often because YOU were fucking around with going back in time (2) even the smallest change in the past can completely rewrite the future, and (3) you gotta keep your cool when traveling back to the future bc it might be different but you have to blend to avoid being locked up in a crazy house.

The new flavor injected into this chicken cordon bleu is the Idiocracy plot line. If you haven’t seen the movie Idiocracy, it’s basically this normal, average guy gets frozen and wakes up in a future where his mediocrity is genius compared to everyone else. So Tom knows the future that was possible had he not done what he did, but he’s surrounded by our 2016 instead of his and he has no way to help us make things better because he was the disappointment in the advanced timeline or whatever.

This book was so fucking boring. I tried to finish it but I didn’t care about any of the characters, I’d read better books with similar plots before, I have other, better things to read, and limited time to do so. I made it to page 247 and then I finally said “ugh I DON’T CARE” and put it away. It wasn’t even suspenseful, it was just “try to feel bad for this male protagonist who is trying to figure out the consequences of his time travel temper tantrum” and I DON’T CAAAAAARRRREEEEE.

So this one goes in the stack of abandoned books. The plot line makes sense, and if you’re into the time travel type thing you should definitely give this a try, but like Ill Will by Dan Chaon I just had to be like “there’s a story here, and it has potential, but damn it’s unseasoned chicken and I just don’t have time for that.”