6.26.2014

A Modern-Day Lady's Guide To Interpreting Men (And Why I Hate Women's Magazines)

I don't typically read women's magazines, mostly because I find I'm much more critical of my body after reading the magazines. Yes, this is the same for fitness magazines (I don't have abs like that). Yes, I realize the photos are all airbrushed (but I can't see the "before" image, so....). Yes, I'm happy with my body (despite the fact that I've been sucking in my bloated stomach all day). The fact still remains: I usually end up standing in front of a mirror breaking down the stretch marks I have on my bum and the fact that I have peach fuzz on my body. So I steer clear, and usually I'm much happier with myself.

But I also have problems with the articles in most of the magazines. Even the fitness ones. Because they are all dumb. All. Of. Them.

Example 1: I once read an article from a women's running magazine about how to run with your spouse/boyfriend and the writer stated that it was best to not discuss your problems with your partner and tell your lady friends later on. Because he doesn't want to hear your problems. Because women are running with their husbands now, but it's still the 1950s. (Additional advice, straight from me, but in the same vein: let your husband/boyfriend win every time. Don't be faster than him. Men have fragile egos and will leave you if you don't let him be faster and win.)

Example 2: I happened to find myself in the company of a few women friends in a hospital room, where we had a pile of magazines plopped in front of us. We all grabbed a magazine, perused the pictures, then traded and perused again. I ended up with a pretty well-known health magazine with a cover story about decoding men. (Side note: how does that count as health?) The article was essentially a list of nice things your partner might do for you in a relationship, an entire paragraph on how to interpret that action, and then another entire paragraph on how to respond to that action. (Also, there was a picture of a shirtless man painting the toenails of his supposed girlfriend - how many ways can you say DUMB? And also, no.)

Example 2a:
Action: Your boyfriend takes you out for a nice dinner after you've had a rough day at work.
Interpretation: Your boyfriend is saying he values you as a human being and thinks you work really really hard and he wants to thank you for all the work you do to help put dinner on the table because he's not working nearly as hard as you and he understands that you have problems that are more important than his problems yada yada yada. This paragraph goes on for a while.
Reaction: Some long discussion about whether or not you should say thank you or do the same for him when he has a rough day. (I mean, really? How did your parents raise you?)

Now, here's my theory when it comes to guys: they say what they mean. I've dated several guys, and I like to think they've been a variety of types and personalities, and while some of them did not say anything they truly meant (note: this does not mean males are bad, it means those dudes were bad people), for the most part it is pretty simple to figure things out. Guys, unlike some females, do not cloak things in passive aggressiveness and with the intent to hurt you. (Although really, ladies, you should be saying things you mean and with honesty as well. It would behoove you.)

And so, ladies, I ask you to please stop reading too much into what that dude said to you and just take it at face value. The End. Figure out something else to worry about.*

If you need a helpful guide, or a few examples, I've included a few actions/phrases often used and their translations.

He buys you flowers. = He bought you flowers.

He didn't buy you flowers. = He didn't buy you flowers.

"I'll talk to you later." = He'll talk to you later.

He didn't call. = He didn't call.

"I like you." = He likes you.

He took you out to dinner after you had a rough day at work. = He took you out to dinner after you had a rough day at work.

He rolled over to go to sleep. = He rolled over to go to sleep.

I think you get the gist here. DO NOT immediately jump to conclusions in either direction, whether it's the conclusion that you will be married and in love for the rest of your life or that he hates you and is sleeping with someone else. DO take things at face value and DO make sure you have enough focus on yourself and are developing yourself enough that you realize you're strong enough to deal with whatever comes your way. Because, modern-day ladies, you totally are.

*I reserve the right to not follow my own advice.

6.14.2014

Why I (Not-So Secretly) Like Teenagers

A disclaimer before I begin this post: I used to really dislike teenagers, back when I was one. From the inside looking out, I found teenagers to be petty and irritating and overly dramatic and I swore I would never ever teach high school students. I think I said this because I secretly knew in my gut that I was going to end up being a high school social studies teacher but I just didn't want to admit it to myself. Because teenagers.

Now, however, with ten years separating myself (age-wise) and standing from the outside looking in, I still sometimes find teenagers to be petty and irritating and overly dramatic, to be honest. But I don't always feel that way, and usually I find teenagers today to be funny and open-minded and talented and hard-working. And I actually really love working with teenagers, for reasons I will shortly give you.

But first, let's back up to what inspired this post. If you are on social media anywhere, you are probably familiar with the Albert Einstein technology picture, which shows a questionably-sourced Albert Einstein quote about the evils of technology paired with a photo of teenagers on their evil technology. In case you need reference, there's a picture below (which I wish I could source, but the original site didn't have a source or a link because they're professional like that).


So let's just ignore the first blatant criticism of this image, which is that we have no idea if Albert Einstein ever actually said this quote. Then let's ignore the second blatant criticism of this image, which is that it doesn't include any sources. (I'd argue that the "generation of idiots" in the second photo should be people who randomly post this image as fact, but that's getting off topic.) Ignoring those two things, I look at this supposed "generation of idiots" (teenagers) and I still have problems with this image because, as I've said, I actually really love working with teenagers.

"But why?" you ask....

1. They're ridiculously, beautifully open-minded. Gay marriage, racial differences, special needs - teenagers today are more accepting of everyone. I see lesbian couples who are able to participate in the gross PDA rituals that formerly only straight couples used to participate in. Which is great for equal rights but I still tell them to cut it out because it's still PDA. I also see lots of mixed-race couples, boys who are openly gay, "normal" students working closely with severely handicapped students....these teenagers aren't held back by the discrimination practices of former generations.

2. They're really smart. Like, really smart. When everyone is complaining about US students falling behind other countries in all of the things, I think our students are actually becoming brilliant. First of all, there's the fact that they have to learn about at least 5 different topics a day and retain that information. Consider your job: you probably have one topic to focus on, whether it is creating a marketing campaign or studying the blood-clotting abilities of some special plasma fluid, but you don't have to switch from a mathematical frame of thinking to an analytical method of thinking in a matter of minutes. Yet these students do just that, several times a day, which I think makes them brilliant. Then there's the fact that they are so well-informed about the world. Often my students will engage in intelligent debates or conversations or ask questions about what is happening in the world, which I think is fantastic. They just need someone to give them the resources.

3. They're caring. My first year teaching, my middle school students created a fundraiser for the people affected by the tsunami in Japan. We raised a couple hundred dollars, and they were so inspiring in how much work and effort they put into the fundraiser. It was beautiful. Students at my current school support the special education program at every assembly, and they do it so enthusiastically I'm usually moved to tears (I'm also usually really sleep deprived so don't think I'm a really emotional person).

4. They are hilarious. If there's one thing that's guaranteed, it's that I'll laugh at least five times during my day. Teenagers today have a wonderful range of humor, from dead-pan to slapstick, and I love it. They're a lot funnier than most adults I know.

5. They understand technology. They don't always use it very well, but they get it. And more often than not, they get the boundaries of when it's appropriate to use technology in my classroom and when it's not.

Here's the thing about teenagers, and everything else in this world: our perception often defines them. If we perceive teenagers as idiots, then that's all we'll see. And we'll be very sad because that's a very sad way of living. But if we choose to see them as brilliant, sensitive, caring, hilarious, open-minded human beings, we'll see them as the wonderful people they are and could be.

PS Seriously, stop spreading around that quote by Einstein unless you can actually find the source for that quote.

Again, I wish I could source. Ummm....Source: A comment someone left on Facebook.
PPS Can you tell I'm on summer break by how positive I'm being about my students?

6.04.2014

It's Summer Break and I'm Sucking At It

So. I have been on summer break for roughly one week (give or take a couple days) and I actually thought to myself today: "I wish school was still in session."

This is essentially the equivalent of saying I get paid too much.

So basically, instead of being all...

Sourcey Source
about summer break, I'm sitting here being....

Sourcey Source #2
And it kinda sucks.

And by the way - I know, these are champagne problems and I realize there are people who read this who are probably thinking to themselves, "Oh poor you. You have two months where you don't have to work. Here's the world's tiniest violin playing a sad song. Boo hoo." I get it - I'm kind of a jerk for complaining about this. I'm sorry.

But still...

I have a few theories as to why this summer break feels so...weird and not Sound of Music-like. They are as follows:

1. There is something mentally wrong with me. I think this may be the most obvious of the reasons, and I won't say it's not a cause of my anxiety.

2. I'm not entirely happy with how the school year ended. To be honest, I felt like I dropped the ball on the last unit, mostly due to burn out (ironic, then, that I want to keep working) and running out of time to get things done. "Grading? What grading? I'm trying to survive over here."

3. I'm not moving this summer. This is the first summer of many years that I am not unpacking as we speak. I'm not sure what to do with myself. I might just pack up my dishes just so I can unpack them and make things feel normal.

4. School was actually functioning as a distraction for me and now I don't know how to distract myself. Life sometimes sucks and/or is confusing and/or is really hard to deal with. In the past few months, I've had to deal with a close friend with cancer, boy stuff, school board drama...work helps me channel my frustrated/angry/anxious energy into something productive.

5. I miss the routine. Maybe not the 5 am wake up time. Maybe not the 9 pm bedtime. Maybe not the complete exhaustion. But I miss having someplace to go, something to do. I feel like a lost little puppy.

6. I miss my students and co-workers. As an introvert, this is crazy for me to say, but: I miss interacting with so many people on a daily basis. I miss having conversations with people and laughing with them all the time. It turns out my tomato plant sucks at discussing current events.

7. Summer break is really different as an adult than it is as a kid. Or even a college student. Everyone is in different parts of their lives: married, in a serious relationship, about to have a kid...and I'm sitting here reading my books. (My parents just got a new cat, so I can make that a life event on Facebook, right?)

8. I'm freaking out about what I'm teaching next year. The thing about teaching is it doesn't matter if it's your first day teaching a subject or your 1,000th, the students are going to expect you to be an expert on the topic immediately. So I'm trying to figure out economics, and then I'll work on trying to figure out what I have to teach about economics and when, and at the same time I'm going to work on creating videos for my US History class.

9. I'm not traveling this summer. There's a camping trip that might happen later in the break, but my spring break trip to San Francisco means I won't be traveling this break. Something about the physical distance and seeing something new helps to make the division between "work" and "break" a bit more clear.

10. I don't actually have a ten, but it felt nicer to end on an even number than on something like 9.

In order to treat this weird affliction, I've decided to do the following: 1. Apply to a temp agency. 2. Harass the telemarketers who keep calling me. 3. Read. 4. When not reading, watch Grand Budapest Hotel (I'm on viewing number 5 and I bought the film yesterday). 5. Start working on next year's curriculum.

Hopefully your summer is going better than mine, and if you wish to donate to my vacation fund so I can take that trip that would save my sanity, you can send blank checks to Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Don't I Wish, USA 55555.

5.22.2014

5 Things That Have Happened in the Last Few Days of School

1. I have watched Forrest Gump five times a day. A history teacher's staple, naturally.

2. My room was overrun by large flying ants and below is the result.
The ant formerly known as Ho Chi Minh.
3. I have been called mean on no fewer than four occasions per day. In teacher-speak, "mean" stands for "I'm not getting the grade I want in your class".

I laugh because otherwise I'd have to actually examine my personality.

I like to think I'm Peggy/Joan/a badass woman.
Source
4. My AP students predicted my future in five years. They were mostly divided between declaring that I would finally find a boyfriend or I'd be a woman "who don't need no man", but they all pretty much decided I'd stay at my school teaching the same subjects.

And then there was this one:
Ms. Hartlaub - In five years you will fill Mr. Helton's position as the only APUSH teacher at Bear Creek. At first people will doubt you but you will use your "charming" personality and extensive knowledge, along with Google, of American history to be the most successful APUSH teacher Bear Creek has ever had. Further, I will come back to visit you, to tell you of all my achievements, and you will ignore me.
5. I routinely did this:

"Can I still turn in this assignment from two units ago even though it's the last day of school before finals?"
Source
Summer's almost here. Summer's almost here. Summer's almost here.

5.20.2014

Post-Race Recap: Colfax Half-Marathon

Thank you, Source.
So, as has already been established (see previous post if you need to get caught up) I successfully ran my first half-marathon, and now it is time for the post-race recap. From what I can gather on the internet, post-race recaps are supposed to be in detail, broken down my mile and pace and energy level and that's all cool (I find them interesting, at least), I just can't do that. First of all, I have no idea of my pace for each mile (and I don't actually wish to share my average pace or finishing time) and second of all, I can never remember things in that much data-driven detail. I know I had fun and around mile 9 I felt a bit tired and around mile 10 my feet and ankles were killing me and at 12.5 miles I ran as hard as I could to finish and around 12.8 miles I saw my dad and at 13.1 miles I was done.

So I guess what I want to do with this post is just record my pre-race anxieties, my challenges and my successes, in the hopes that it might help someone else.

Here we go....

My dad took this photo right before I hit the finish line. I simultaneously loathe it and love it. I may or may not have been elbowing someone next to me. (No, I absolutely was not doing that; I'm pretty sure I was checking my watch.)
Pre-Race Anxieties

  • Asthma - I was diagnosed with asthma in third grade, and I couldn't complete a mile until grade 7, when I was by far the slowest runner in my grade level. I tried training for the half-marathon without the inhaler at first (stupid, I know, but also I know some asthmatics can do it and I really wanted to try). Anyway, I was worried my asthma would flare up, I'd have an asthma attack, and basically my asthma would kill me.
  • Knee - One year ago I was still doing rehab on my knee: I was riding a bike for forty minutes and running for ten minutes, on a 1:1 run-walk interval. I had no idea how my knee would function in the training or in the race distance.
  • Energy/Strength - My coworkers call me frail because of my thin frame. I know that sounds like a humblebrag, but it's been something that I've internalized for a long time. Skinny does not equal strong, and I wondered how much my body could handle.
  • Being Alone - I originally planned to do this race with my friend Thea, but she wasn't able to do it this year (next year, right, Thea??) so I walked to the start line alone. I didn't think it would make much impact, up until I parked my car and saw so many other people heading toward the race in pairs and groups.
Challenges
  • Keeping Up With the Training - By far my biggest challenge. Between work stuff, friendship stuff, hospital stuff, boy stuff and sore muscle stuff, I had a hard time keeping up with everything. In the end, I made it work, but I had to learn to be flexible about pacing and training days. I learned to appreciate every work out, no matter how small or what kind of work out.
  • Asthma - As I mentioned, I was trying to do it without an inhaler, and for a while I convinced myself that I didn't actually have asthma. This did not work for me. Duh.
  • Mental Game - In particular, not comparing myself to that dude I went out with once who runs 50 mile races, or the other dude I went out with who runs a half-marathon in under 1:20, or to my Facebook friends who were training for their first half as well and were obviously faster than me, or the older woman who could pass me at a snail's pace. Comparison is stupid. I still do it. But I try not to.
Successes
  • Taper and Carbo Loading - This reminded me so much of the horse show circuit and swim team prep. I know taper works because I've done it and I've seen it as a swim coach, but it was still hard. I had to constantly remind myself that doing a hard workout would not actually impact my race in any positive way. Also, staying hydrated the day before the race made a huge difference in my hydration on race day (of course, I'm comparing this to when I went on my long runs).
  • GU Gel (Salted Caramel) - I heard about the gel from other blogs and runners, and I figured I'd try it. I'm not sure how much it actually helped, but I do know that I didn't really hit any form of a wall (minus my feet and ankles killing me). I had half a packet right before the race, and took half a packet at every 45 minutes, washing it down with water. That seemed to work and my stomach handled it pretty well so I'll probably stick to something similar from here on out. 
  • Running My Own Race - I read this blog entry by Lauren Fleshman about redefining success and setting out to run your own race, and it made a huge difference on my approach to the race. I lined up feeling comfortable with my goal time, and I started out feeling fine with running a race plan I came up with. I was worried about walking, but I shouldn't have been. Lots of people did a run-walk interval the same as me, and some people ran so much they burned themselves out to where they couldn't do anything but walk. But they ran their best race, and I ran my best race. Success!
  • Asthma/Knee - Surprise! Neither were a problem. My run-walk intervals worked with my asthma so ridiculously well that I'd like to build off it to longer run portions. So many people around me (all women, actually, which I found interesting) were using their inhalers or needed to borrow mine, and of course I was happy to oblige. And my knee? One year after my massive surgery, not a problem!
So there it is. My first post-race recap. I won't blame you if you didn't make it the whole way. I won't blame you if you didn't even read this. But hopefully it'll help someone somewhere along the way.

You know what would have been awesome? If Dad had told me the medal was backwards. I was tired and dehydrated, you can't blame me.

5.18.2014

Success!


I did it, guys! I ran my first half-marathon, and hit the time I was hoping to, AND had so. much. fun. I'm already looking ahead to my next race...

More to come later. For right now I'm celebrating with a nice nap.

Source

5.16.2014

I'm Twitter Famous!


Meaning I've been retweeted and favorited under twenty times.

I'll probably write a bit more about this later on, but this is me, being a "union thug" and joining in a rally about current events in my school district. In the meantime, check out #standup4kids on Twitter and Facebook, and check out the website Stand Up For All Students if you want more information than this cryptic post.

PS Kara Goucher also supports JeffCo teachers! She's my new hero.