Why “SO” is not an accurate adverb for the way I feel.

(And other ways this is turning into the woman power corner of my life).

I get so infuriated when I see tweets like this one below.  In fact, “so” isn’t even enough muchness for the amount of pressure I feel in my gut reading this.

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Found this image on a forum.  Someone tell me where it came from.

And it has nothing to do with being a “liberal” or the power I feel when I call myself a FEMINIST, it has everything to do with repeating history.  There might be, somewhere deep in a chest cavity that I own, a part of me that believes in something conservative. Right now, I couldn’t name anything, but at one point in my life I was extremely pro-life. I have that Catholic “guilt” thing plus that Catholic “sweep this under the rug” thing and that combination causes interesting views and values.  I believe though, that people should be given the opportunity for gray area.  Where has the gray area gone? Why must we be either EXTREME liberal or EXTREME conservative? I realize Trump brought this out, and believe me, I was NOT one of the 53% of white women that voted for that man, but still. Gray matter, it’s important in our central nervous systems and our political opinions.

But that’s not what this blog is about.  This blog is about women who feel the need to pick on other women for their choices.  I’m from the Bible belt.  For my entire childhood, I studied that historic text and I know some verses.  I can’t spit ’em, but I have the Google.  Isn’t the main theme of The Bible some old school rap like “Thou Shalt Not Judge.” But this image, for me, doesn’t stop hating there, judging there, being spiteful there.

reputation-1260x840What bothers me the most is that the ENTIRE reason we’re able to wear giant vagina costumes in the street, VOTE, hold public office (Kellyanne Conway, thanks for retweeting), ask for a raise, be anything other than a secretary or a replacement worker because men are at war, is because OTHER WOMEN stood up for us first.  And what really gets to me is that those OTHER WOMEN stood up for these women too.  Why is she so concerned about what we look like to other countries and how their women have no rights, instead of standing up for those rights with other women for other women? If you want to save girls from genital mutilation, start a march, a petition, a foundation.  Don’t write a paragraph for Twitter.  If you want to give women the ability to speak against their husbands in court in other countries, go there and serve, don’t throw up some hashtags and call it justice.

Why CAN’T women everywhere wear a pink pussy hat in the streets? Or yell obscenities about their elected officials? Why are we so busy complaining about how we “look,” or our reputation, when we should be worried about those women who are facing the inabilities we clearly take for granted.  The fact that this could even be posted on Twitter without the copyedit of a man says so much about how far this country has prospered and how far we seriously need to go.

For me, how to help every woman is by standing up for every. single. woman.  Even this one who tweets why she’s not a liberal feminist.  Who bashes women who choose to use their voices in the most explicit ways because every other moment in history we were forced to be known as “anonymous.”  Here’s a woman who felt sturdy enough, influential enough, to wear her sexuality like a hat.  Some people think this is embarrassing, but I’m just thankful that this is something we can do in this country.

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Deborah Samson Garnett from Wikipedia

Here’s to the women who stood up for other women when they said, “Why would you want to vote?” Thanks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880).  (Fun fact: I was Elizabeth Cady Stanton in my fifth grade wax museum and it was AWESOME).  Here’s to the women who stood up for other women when they said, “Why would you want to fight in the military?” Thanks, Deborah Samson Gannett for DISGUISING yourself because of your fear of what people would think about you, but STILL FIGHTING.

Really, you can’t have suffrage without suffering.  But to suffer at the hands of another woman for standing up for her rights too, even the ones she can’t respect, is disgusting to me. Instead of thickening the divide, find a way to bridge the gap and “wade into the water” as some of the strongest women in my eyes once sang.

#WomensMarchRaleigh

I’m not going to lie, my eyes got a little misty when I found myself in this crowd. I think the photos of the moment speak for themselves.

Slideshow:

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Too slow? See a few of my absolute favorites below:

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If these didn’t move you, hug your sister, wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, dog that’s a woman.

How to Half-Ass a Bullet Journal

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Iceland Journal that I haven’t touched since… (see Moleskine Chapter Journal for more… in plum). 

Guys, I’ve sought advice on the ever-loving Instagram AND on its cruel twin, Twitter, but I can’t seem to understand how to attack or accomplish the mysterious bullet journal.

If I showed you the amount of quarter-completed journals I own, and high school mathed a total of how much was spent on each one, I think I could make a grown man on a budget cry.  No adult should be able to spend this much on journaling and not actually have at least a square of completed Ikea shelf to show for it.

(Mathed is an awesome verb)

I would show you pictures, but honestly, it’s at hoarder level and I mean that totally as a reference to the TLC show. And the worst part is that people know this about me so they give me journals.  One of my students for Christmas gave me this adorable and charmed striped nautical journal.  My cousin just gave me the 52 Lists for Happiness journal. I buy Moleskines like the company’s stock is plummeting and they’re ready to shut down any second.  (The stock reference is overdramatic because I’m not even sure if Moleskine is privately owned).

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This is what I call “The Main Chick” because she’s the biggest and got the Sylvia Plath sticker.

What I’m saying is: I’ve tried everything.

Here’s a few of those trials and errors:

  1. Keeping the journals next to bed to write in before I sleep — but I prefer to read before I sleep.
  2. Subsequently carrying them around with me everywhere like I’m going to take a quiet moment everyday outside some quaint Parisian-inspired coffee shop and doodle my way to productivity.
  3. Refused to buy a new one until I finish an old one — for this I just get squirrel tendencies and shiny-object my way to failure.
  4. Admitted I have a problem.  Don’t they say this is the first step? I’ll admit it all day.
  5. Bought smaller journals for carrying to transfer to said huge journal to manage my life every day.
  6. Colored in my journal at work which is totally UNproductive.
  7. Bought journaling how-to magazines and magazines with just a bunch of journal photographs for inspiration.
  8. Also, Pinterest.
  9. I follow like 97234 bulletjournalers on Instagram and hit the little flag on all of their pictures to save them and use their weekly spread (or whatever spread) in my own journal.
  10. Given up my coveted Poketo agenda for a week to see if I could agenda in my bullet journal.   (I may or may not also be creating a plan to hoard these).
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Now I’ll have TWO incomplete 52 List journals. BAH

Tonight, I asked people how they #bujo on Twitter and Ayla Jae said she has one big goal and she uses her bullet journal to track that one goal into little steps.  I think she’s writing a book, just assuming from her Twitter bio, but how would I even start? Like … track my writing everyday? I’m sure that’s productive and I should be doing that (HEY, failed Nanowrimo attempt) but should I add that to my other bullet journal’s list of “To Do’s” for the day.  What I’m saying is, how does this not become a chore? 

I get that there are some really awesome people who do bullet-journaling for a living on Youtube.  But what about us folks that work a full day and come home to make dinner and walk the dog and have no … time. I know what you’re going to say.  This is YOUR time, this is the time for YOURself.  And I want that time, but where in my day do I put it.  And if I want it to be fancy (don’t we all) and I almost care about that more than actual productivity, how do I quiet the idiot in my head?

SEND HELP. 

If you’re like me and you need to join the Bullet Journalers Anonymous and get your shit together, FA’REAL, sign up below for something that will be planned halfway in my journal.  How do we make a plan? Should I write this plan in my bullet journal.

Oh, Lawd.

#IstandwithPP

If last year’s election and subsequent results have taught me anything, it’s to speak up and speak out.  When you’re looking into the Twitter feed of an atrocity or when, in your third eye, you can see the future of girls that are coming after you, it’s important to make sure they will hear their cause celebrated.

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-9-00-11-amLast night, I unleashed a series of tweets due to the news that the GOP wants to defund Planned Parenthood.  In response, a group of strong women stood outside Paul Ryan’s office to serve him a petition with over 87k signatures of people (not just women) who think defunding Planned Parenthood would be a disastrous act.  He sent security which prompted the hashtag #PaulRyansoscared.

I didn’t really realize it until I was tweet storming my feelings that I have a deep connection to Planned Parenthood.   When I was in fifth grade, the Girl Scout group that I was a part of (Troop #388 if I’m not mistaken) took a trip to Planned Parenthood to learn about our bodies.  This trip was before any notion in my mind of abortion and I went thinking this would be like Charlotte’s Discovery Place Museum. I don’t remember much except snapshot images, that’s the way my memory works, but I do remember this wall of interactive body organisms.  There were intestines that we could pull out to see how long they would be in certain body sizes.  There were pumping hearts with beats that we could count. Thanks, Planned Parenthood, for helping teach me a little bit of math to save me the utter humiliation of counting my heartbeat wrong in high school gym class.

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-9-51-07-amBut most importantly for me, a Catholic girl raised in the South, they taught us about parts of our bodies that schools and parents had left dark.  In this trip, I was allowed to feel the sand bags of what would become breasts for me.  They even had a sandbag with what breast cancer might feel like, lumps and all.  Now, every time I’m in the shower and I lift my arm monthly to feel for lumps, I am taken back to that moment at Planned Parenthood, a moment that could protect me for the rest of my life.  Finally, they taught us about our uterus, what a period was like, how to use a tampon or a pad.  My Mom was a good one, she had taught me all of this with deep instruction, but for girls who were limited by modesty, religion, or had parents who were uncomfortable or unwilling to talk about these things, this moment might have taught them all they learned outside of the fiction circulating in middle and high school hallways.

Planned Parenthood was my first education into my own body.   was the only organization (or just people) in my young world to openly discuss who I was on a basic biological level.  In a State that sits directly in the buckle of the Bible Belt that believes firmly in abstinence only education, I needed Planned Parenthood.  I don’t think we’ve come far enough to disregard this education I received at age eleven.

61w6r0fl1wl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Reading You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays On Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent, Nugent discusses how she came to feminism and the real feelings of being a woman in today’s world.  My favorite essay so far is called “Girl in Control” and it’s about the fragility of feelings women face on any decision about their body, but even more any decision they make about childbirth. While Nugent turns out not to be pregnant in this chapter, she goes through the phases almost every sexually active girl goes through when she discovers her period is late.  She says, “… a part of me worried that if I went through with the procedure, I would carry guilt with me for the rest of my life.  I know because I already felt guilty just thinking about it.  I feel a great pain for women who have to through this.”  She talks about making the decision to have a child as a giant “Would You Rather?” Where men almost never have to weigh this decision because they can choose to just walk away (which is a decision in itself), this is a fundamental, biological and life changing decision for all women, of all ages, genders, races, upbringings, and beliefs.

At the end of this chapter, Nugent says, “In all the shame a woman experiences, in all the matters in which her body is supposed to be controlled, in all the ways society tries to tell her what she is doing wrong, she will always have feelings about it.  But the important thing to remember is that no matter what the feeling is, it is your feeling and it is your decision.”  Regardless of what men, political parties, or religions think, women will always have feelings.  They may be shame, humiliation, regret, or they may very well be the opposite. None of these feelings should ever be seen as wrong.

This is what Planned Parenthood gives women.  Not only a place to learn and make decisions about OUR bodies, but a place to be exactly what we are, women. Doesn’t matter what we’re made of there, what we believe to be true about the world there, what can or can’t happen to our body there, or the feelings associated with those happenings.

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I’m Catholic as I said above and I’ve been taught from jump that a baby is formed at conception.  My church has NEVER been one to deny anyone, treat anyone maliciously, or destroy anyone’s character, I’ve been lucky for that. As I’ve studied, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is completely and utterly a woman’s right to choose.  This goes against my religious doctrine, but I would never tell another woman how to act with her own body (unless I felt like she was abusing the system and there was a better way).  I don’t think I could have ever have an abortion, but I’ve never been in a situation to make that sort of decision.  I can’t fathom women who judge other women for the decisions they make.

If you’re deeply religious, I get that, but does your religion really tell you to judge? Does your religion tell you to stand outside of Planned Parenthood and smear and humiliate the women who walk in to have a discussion with their personal doctrine? For Christianity, I’m pretty sure Jesus says over and over again, “love one another.” He says this regardless of choices, circumstances, decisions, moments of stupidity or heinousness.  For instance, “Romans 12:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”  This is how the families of the Charleston shooting can say and live forgiveness for Dylan Roof’s action in court.  If those people, who lost loved ones and pieces of their heart can forgive, why is it that you feel supported in shaming others?

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-9-33-36-amIn my tweet storm I also discussed the availability for birth control at Planned Parenthood. At the top of her class, acing math classes like a original gangsta, my Mom had my brother at fifteen. She had had one boyfriend ever (and that’s all it really takes, right?)  When she tells the story of how it happened, she talks about her lack of education about sex.  This isn’t because of my grandmother’s failures, but because my Mom grew up in a society where no one talked about that stuff.  On the back end, my Mother moved into a house with my brother, walked back and forth to work all year in Buffalo, NY (yep, that’s the blizzard capital of the US) and relied for a year or two on Food Stamps. She did not “abuse the system,” and continued to work her ass off so that she didn’t.  My Mom is one of the girls who made it.  I’m a little bias because she’s my Mom, but she’s the STRONGEST woman I’ve ever met in my life and I think my friends in high school could see that and anyone who meets my Mom or is lucky enough to learn her story would agree as well.  When the boyfriend who knocked my Mom up left, my Mom took care of my brother until she married my Dad.

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-9-36-25-amI don’t think my Mom would have ever made the decision to have an abortion.  When she talks about going back she says she wouldn’t have me or my brother if she made that decision.  My brother is a lawyer now, with his own child and for the record, he’s also the best Dad I know. While I never saw that struggle that my Mom faced because it was before my time, I’ve seen the looks on the faces of my former students who in confidence ask me what to do about a missing period, or how to get birth control so they’re not pregnant, or other really serious conversations that they only feel comfortable asking a teacher they’ve had for just a semester. Their option is a year of a birth control without consent from the guardians in their life.  For girls who’s parents won’t understand, won’t accept, or just can’t see their little girl has become sexually active (maybe because of their own parenting shame), Planned Parenthood is there.

If the GOP wants to support all the babies born of women who didn’t have options, or chose an option that they weren’t financially ready for, but want to stand up for, then they can’t defund Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood is the organization that supports these girls on the front end.  They aren’t lying about the knowledge they also give for free to women, the education, the help.  This isn’t an abortion machine.  This is a safety net for women everywhere.

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If you’ve watched a bias video that shows Planned Parenthood is just a baby killing machine then you are ill informed because this girl, writing this blog, learned what her body was capable of through Planned Parenthood when very few other people would.

Tender, Not Tinder.

This week I followed along to Susannah Conway’s Word of the Year series. It’s a five day series that coaches an individual through finding a word that they can live on for the next year.  For me, living on a word focuses me on what I want to pursue, what kind of habitat I want to create for myself, how I want to interact with those I love and with strangers over email. (I have the big problem of typing before thinking).

qxteuy3My friend Nat is constantly telling me to read (or reread because I’ve skimmed-ish) The Four Agreements, a Toltec Wisdom book by Don Miguel Ruiz.  I’ve gotten the quick gist of The Four Agreements before, but that definitely doesn’t mean that I’ve lived by them.  I make assumptions about tone in every email I receive, particularly from high school parents. Whoops. I keep my word, but I don’t always say exactly what I mean and then I get frustrated when people don’t understand my frustration. I take everything, everything, personally.  I am the definition of what David Foster Wallace calls living in my “water.”  I live in a world of my own creation.  It caused a lot of problems for me this year.  For instance, I never saw Trump coming because I had never had political discussions with anyone who disagreed with my viewpoint.  The only person I knew who was voting for him was BJ’s Nana and I knew that her constant stream of Fox News wasn’t going to come unhinged by my points brought to her from Slate Magazines, Huffington Post, and Politico. (I swing pretty left, ya see).

Other ways my water sucks me dry is when my best friend was arguing with people on Facebook who didn’t understand the Oakland highway protestors when yet another black man was shot by police officers.  He kept saying, you don’t understand, the whole point is to interrupt the everyday, to bring something into your day that is jarring you from your own sphere.  I didn’t get it until I looked at my water and realized how much I needed to be moved.

And thus, my word of 2017.  It was almost move, and then almost linger, but when it really came down to what I needed to do in my world, I chose the word Tend(er). Yes, I couldn’t really decide between tend and tender and so I used my impeccable grammar (HAR HAR) to help me out. Here’s a few things I journaled about the word tender. For me, it means to “stay soft, give into feelings.  Soften the edges.  Love harder. Let the intimate moments come / stay. Be less in your head and more in your heart.” To the actual dictionary people on their high horses it means, “showing gentleness or concern or sympathy.”

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Here are a few photos from the journey through the five day series by Susannah Conway, “Find Your Word”

I want to be more kind, more soft-hearted, more compassionate outside of my own water.  But I want to be tender with myself as well.  My goal for this year is to get essays and poetry published in print literary journals and print magazines. In order to do that, I have to quiet the critic in my head and nurture the pen in my hand without judgment of what that pen is gushing. There will be days when I sound like a thirteen year old girl in a mall walk conversation and days when I sound like Orwell.  My attitude towards each of these days must be tender.

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More of my journaling from throughout the series. 

Tender might also change my relationships with friends and family.  I tend to be a blunt, straightforward hardass.  I like to believe that I’m openminded and I listen well, but this is only true in certain aspects of my life.  While I was watching the horrible, but delectable show that is Timber Creek Lodge yesterday, one of the cast members said that he doesn’t believe he’s above anyone else or that anyone else’s role is below his.  I need a little bit of that humility.  My scrappy fight to the best and the strongest at everything (really I think that’s a feminist drive that I would never want to squash) has led me down a path where I forget the small things, and I do less giving.  In order to be tender, I have to be less selfish and more in-tune with other people’s needs, particularly my parents and my soon to be husband.

img_3421I compiled, and probably need help with the last thing.  There’s a list of books that I think will help me bring out tenderness in my life and if you have recommendations I would love to hear them.  I wrote about this on my book blog here.  Skip on over them and leave some comments on books: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, travel, memoir, comics, whatever, that you think brought out tenderness in you and I will add them to my list.

What are your resolutions and goals for the coming year? Have you chosen a word?  Untidy Grace also wrote about her Word of the Year. She’s been thinking about it for three months ya’ll, that’s crazy awesome. Visit to see another perspective there.

 

Gluten is the Devil (and other things I’ve said when I can’t just eat a chicken tender).

grid-cell-18586-1446153561-13So, let’s get honest:

In the past year and a half, I’ve probably gained twenty pounds.  Living with and loving with a dude who eats whatever he wants and looks like a mix of swag from Gerald Johanssen and dapper from Jack Skeleton hasn’t helped. However, that’s not my only problem.  I have a thyroid autoimmune disease and it causes a lot of really exciting problems, but one of them is that it’s hard to lose weight. And although, studies haven’t shown that there’s a connection between gluten and thyroid diseases, a lot of experts and just generally other women in forums online have recommended giving up gluten.  The People’s Pharmacy did a whole show on recent studies dealing with thyroid disease.

I feel a little bit like I’m a walking talking believe for a connection between hypothyroidism and gluten sensitivity.  I stopped eating gluten cold turkey in August.  I cheated my way through Iceland and the other night wanted to cut my stomach out a little bit when I got a sampler platter of fried food at Buffalo Wild Wings, but other than those two cheats, I’m hyperaware of whether or not I’m partaking in gluten. And since gluten stays in your body for sixish months, cheating isn’t recommended because you’re just starting all the way over.

1332341647187_4274930I am that person at the brewery that always asks if they have gluten-free beers.  I always apologize for my goobness, but my health is at stake here.  Since August, I’ve lost ten pounds, my thyroid has produced more hormones, and my medicine hasn’t needed to be changed.  Before going gluten free, I cried weekly, was gaining weight significantly, couldn’t remember things or would go through moments of fog where everything in my mind just lapsed. I was miserable. I also had to up my medicine every three months for the last six years.  As a girl who swam uber competitively in high school, anywhere from three to five hours a day, I couldn’t get past the weight gain. I know we’re supposed to love our bodies and turn our insecurities into positives, but that’s easier said than done.

I find a few things outside of going gluten free have helped me be a generally more happy person and better eater.  The first is that I recommend not eating things that you would normally eat that are labeled “gluten free.” Just because they make gluten free pretzels doesn’t mean you should eat them or that they taste good. There’s plenty of pastas (quinoa, rice, black bean) that taste just fine in gluten free versions, but you could replace those with cauliflower or spaghetti squash.  Pizza is the same way.  There aren’t a lot of delicious take-out gluten-free pizzas.  I used to be cool with Dominos on pizza night with Bae, but lately I’ve been making zucchini pizza boats and those suckers are delicious.

This, of course, will not work for everyone and I’m still very much in the beginning stages.  In the New Year, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to learn more about being gluten free (regardless of reasoning) by reading blogs and books.

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The other thing I’m trying to do as a resolution (of sorts because I never stick to them if I label them) is to plan our meals every week.  BJ and I have totally different tastebuds so it’s difficult to plan together but I refuse to be defeated. I created this Weekly Meal Planning Guide in Google Drive. I keep a bullet journal, but it was just too intense to keep track and keep it well in my #bujo.

Here’s the plan:

At the top of the document is our weekly plan, but also our grocery list.  It’s long this time because we have to gear up with the essentials.

Next in our Weekly Meal Planning Guide is PREP.  I’m really, really, incredibly bad at eating if my eating isn’t practically instantly prepared.  I like my food like I like my snapchat or my 24 hour news.  Our fridge winds up looking like a plasticware outlet, but I’m not mad at it. This section just lets me know what I need to do throughout the week to make my eating easier.  This is arguably the most important part of the whole thing if you’re trying to live healthier or gluten free.

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Lastly, I included the recipes for what we’re cooking this week and organized them by Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  I’m going to be real with you, I’m no casanova in the kitchen.  BJ cooks in this house. I try, but the disappointment overkills the hard work when it doesn’t look or taste like I expect it should. I want to get better at cooking and the only way to do that is to cook.

This weeks recipes come from the following blogs:

I color code so that I know what we already have in the cabinet or fridge and what I need to add to the grocery list at the top of the document. And it’s watermelon colors because that’s just cute, right?

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As I discover more about food, cooking, and the devil of gluten, I will post everything here. This is one of those times where I’m supposed to talk about the journey even though I’d rather be at the finish line. If you have a thyroid disease or have any gluten free knowledge to share, feel free to comment below!

Also, if you’re a sister who just plain craves chicken tenders, but you have a gluten issue, COMMENT because I HEAR THAT.

“Either to Please or To Educate”

When ever someone asks me who I would invite to a dinner party living or dead, I always think of the Salons of Paris (and then eventually the greater European area).  But let me be honest, the reason I sometimes read Salon is that Megan Mayhew Bergman writes a column for Salon and I respect am obsessed with her so much that I read Salon as tribute.  So, recently, Kim Brooks wrote an article for Salon called Death to high school english.

I was a pie chart of miffed, offended, inspired, and in agreement after finishing.

A summary: Kim Brooks is a college composition professor who feels that students don’t write enough in the classroom to be successful in college and instead are reading classics, and doing short presentations, with student enthusiasm at the forefront, and discussion that has no basis in the text.  Instead, students should be writing, as a form of critical thinking, analyzing, writing, writing writing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 5.23.19 PMOn the one hand, I’m a self-proclaimed “English teacher that doesn’t teach novels.” On the other hand, I feel for those English teacher of old that still teach the classics and have students analyze the feminist theory in Pride and Prejudice and don’t care whether you’re engaged with a text as long as you can analyze and synthesize its parts.

I’m fortunately, not that teacher.  I didn’t really feel like Brooks was speaking to me so much because my kids write so much that I drowned in loose leaf paper every afternoon.  They write until they complain about all the writing.  They write, because the only true way to teach grammar is through writing.  They peer edit and then they revise, because if you’re not revising then are you even actually writing? I want pens to bleed out, Game of Thrones style.   I want pencils to go to the nub over the course of the week.  My students write individually, they write with peers, they write in collaborative groups, and as a class, I mean, when I think about it, it’s kind of insane the amount of trees that I’m singlehandedly killing until we get enough technology to go paperless.  I believe in this idea that students have to write, in every class, to learn.  STEM and English are not these mysterious outcasts to one another, they blend as easy as the arts and English, S(T)EAMlessly.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 5.24.38 PMMy advice to teachers who focus on the literature and not the writing.  Put a test on it.  Never in all my four years of teaching would I think that I would say this, but, lots and lots of teachers teach to a test.  If you put two constructive response questions on a state test that don’t even measure grammar or sentence variety, or flow, but only evidence and an answer, then most teachers who are being evaluated on those silly paragraphs will think of them as silly.  Put an essay on that sucker.  Put an argumentative speech on it.  Make it wear a slam poem.  If you don’t want to be that exciting, make them write a poem that uses all the bits of figurative language.  Throw the whole truck of rhetorical devices at them and make them put them on the page in a provocative way.  If you want teachers to care about writing, when they’re not writers themselves, then put a test on it.   The SAT and the ACT don’t measure student growth, but if you and all the rich phonies (a la Holden CauLfield) want kids to write, PUT A TEST ON IT.

Thoughts? I would love to hear from other teachers on how much writing they expect, what they’re favorite writing lesson is, or if you think I’m a complete looney.  Let it out, sister or mister.

Image by Ken Whytock (Creative Commons)

Also, please do not confuse this with me endorsing standardized testing.  I hate those beasts, hate, with a passionate, fiery, distaste, but I believe in writing.  And I believe in making the majority believe.  And write now, we gotta do what we gotta do.