2.25.2014

Don't worry, here are some cute animals.

Today my APUSH class was discussing the causes of the Great Depression. We tried to make a timeline, but in all honesty, it's really hard to pinpoint a time when America started having an uneven distribution of wealth, because it's always existed.

So we got to part where Europe took out a ton of loans from American banks to pay back their reparations to the US government since the US government wouldn't forgive the loans (because dammit, we were in that war from June until November and we want your blood)(also, this is basically how I feel about my student loans), and the students asked this:

Them: "Isn't this what the US is doing now, with China?"

Me: "I mean, yeah. Basically, yeah."

Them: "But aren't we getting money from China just to pay the interest on our loans, not even the loans themselves?"

Me: "Yeah...yeah."

Them: "I don't get it. I just can't wrap my head around how dumb that is."

Me: "I know. I actually don't think about. I look at pictures of cute puppies."

This became our rallying cry for the rest of the class. When they were talking about paying for college I told them A) choosing what you love and ignoring the price is bullshit (I didn't really say bullshit), B) they should go to a school where they can take out the smallest amount of student loans possible and C) look at pictures of cute puppies.

And that is the lesson I would like to share with you today.

Are you upset about the future of our economy? Here's a corgi jumping into a lake.



Are you upset about the amount of student loans you have to pay? Here are some bunnies at a carnival.



Are you upset about the stupidity that is the Arizona state government? (And the fact that what some people are upset about the most is not the human rights issue...but that it might cost Arizona the Super Bowl.) Here is a cat who has had enough.


Are you upset about the Ukraine? About Venezuela? Here is an adorable pet rat cuddling a teddy bear while he/she sleeps.


Are you upset because the Netherlands speed skating coach was a jerk to Americans, destroying your preconceived notions that people from the Netherlands were pretty nice? Here are baby elephants, taking a bath.


Don't you feel better?

Here are two links to keep you going, if you need them (and you probably will): Source 1 (Corgi) and Source 2 (bunnies, cat, rat and elephants)

PS I have a suspicion these animals will be back...

2.23.2014

A Few Random Thoughts and a Prediction

It's Sunday, which means I spend a good portion of the day planning and prepping for this next week. Based on all the hectic goings-ons at work (state testing is next week, which is always never a teacher's favorite time of year), I'm a little scattered, so instead of attempting to create a well-designed and thought-out post, I'm just slapping down a few random things as well as predict what's going to make me happy this coming week.

*I found my new favorite coffee shop nearby: Fluid Coffee Bar in Uptown. When I remember my wallet (unlike today), it's a short walk from my apartment, it has an excellent chai latte, and cute boys abound. Plus reliable wifi, friendly baristas, and the like. But really: chai latte and cute boys.

*Before this weekend, I had never seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. After this weekend, I still have never seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I tried, I really tried. It's free on Amazon Prime, and I got about halfway through and then I had to switch to The Prince and Me. I realize how dumb this sounds. I'm sorry to all film aficionados everywhere. The thing is, the boat scene in Cuckoo's Nest reminded me too much of what it's like to teach a class of 30 students (minus the hanky panky, obviously) and I also read the plot on Wikipedia and it's just too depressing for me to watch on the weekend. So instead I watched a chick flick, but in my defense, I made fun of it the entire time. Out loud and to myself. Again, I realize how dumb this sounds. 

*Confession time: I joined OK Cupid. Stop judging me. My friend with cancer told me I needed to date more so I could tell her more stories, and when your friend with cancer asks you to do something, you do it. I really don't expect/want/hope to go out (or even talk) with any guys from the website, to be honest. The bonus is I might share some of my stories with you, so you can look forward to being entertained by my horror stories. (Is it possible I'm not in a relationship because I'm horribly negative and sarcastic about dating? In the words of Lucille Bluth: I don't understand the question and I won't respond to it. Also I think I date jerks.)

And now, for a prediction.

I predict the following will make me happy this coming week:

1. Sleep.
2. Returning to yoga class.
3. Sub-60 degree weather.
4. PAYCHECK!
5. Planning for my spring break trip to San Fran.
6. Seeing friends I haven't seen for a while/saw yesterday.

Any questions? Ok, bye.

2.20.2014

5 Things To Do On A Day Off

I ended up with an unintentional day off today. Usually my sick *cough cough* days are planned out in advance. I look at the calendar and figure out where I'm going to be feeling my most stressed and grumpy and plan for a day off at that point. I rarely get "real" sick, and I have also not harmed any of my co-workers or students, so I consider this plan to be a success. Today, however, I just sort of ended up with free time on my hands, due to a doctor's appointment smack in the middle of the day. Originally I planned on going to into work after my appointment just to get some work done anyway, but as I was leaving the doctor's office it dawned on me that my plan was a really dumb idea.

This, however, left me with a problem: I didn't know what to do with all this time. (I'm aware this is a champagne problem, but I have 99 white girl problems and a boy ain't one of them, so I need to complain about something.) This is an issue because when I go into work I immediately get out my pad of sticky notes and create a to-do list for the day (actually, I immediately turn on my computer and while I'm waiting the 20 minutes it takes for it to start, I create a to-do list for the day) and even on my weekends I create a to-do list of "fun things" I want to do during my free time.

I didn't have a to-do list today. And it freaked me out.

In case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I have come up with some activities you can use:


1. Sleep.

Days off are supposed to be about treating yo self right? For myself and, I think, many teachers, the ultimate treat yo self activity is sleeping. Sleep in until 8 am! Take a nap at 1 pm! Take another nap at 2 pm! Pass out on the couch with Cheeto residue covering your shirt! Never get out of your pajamas! Basically I'm telling you to act like a college-boy stoner, but today is your day off. There is no one to judge but your own decency.


2. Stay in your pajamas.

As soon as I got home from my doctor's appointment I changed into my pajamas. It was bliss. Bliss, I tell you! I don't even wear fancy clothes to work (yesterday I wore a dress for the first time in a while and everyone commented, which tells you that I basically dress like a slob every other day).

3. Go to a bookstore.

I love The Bookstore. I adore The Bookstore. However, The Bookstore is dangerous because I have a limited amount of money and there are an unlimited amount of books I would love to get at The Bookstore. Still, go to The Bookstore and wander around in the middle of the day because it feels so much better than staring at students who are taking a test. (Bonus! I found out many an attractive male goes to The Bookstore during the weekday. While they are nice to look at, I immediately question their potential due to the fact that they don't seem to have a job - although I guess they could be thinking the same of me.)


4. Go to an art museum.

I did not go to the art museum today. After my sleeping and pajama-wearing and Bookstore perusing I was really tired and needed to pass out on the couch. But I imagine going to the museum on a day off would be really cool.

Alternate Option: Look up cute animal pictures and gifs on the internet. That's what the internet is for, people, and it's basically the same as going to an art museum.


5. Catch up on television shows.

This is a no-brainer. Watch thy television shows, people! Those shows you don't get to watch because they're on past your bedtime or because you are poor and do not have a tv so you have to use the internet and that takes time. Guess what? Today, on the holiest of days, you have the time.

I suggest the following shows, assuming you have not already seen them: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Northern Exposure, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife

Looking at my suggestions, I have this to say: Hi, I'm a female. I don't have cats. Yet.

Also, regarding my suggestion of Northern Exposure, can we just acknowledge that jeans in the early 90s were really awkward, especially in the crotchal region? It was like denim draping for your genitals.

Chest bump, guys. That was an epic day off.


Final note - I have to ask a question: do you guys think I use too many gifs? (And as a side question: Is there such a thing as too many gifs?) I'm probably not going to stop including them so you should probably just tell me no so we can avoid being uncomfortable with one another.

2.10.2014

Post-Run Berry Oatmeal Smoothie

Two things to note here, right off the bat:

1. I am not a nutritionist and my knowledge of nutrition is probably shockingly low (one time in high school I was really starving so I ate a bunch of Tums, just because they were there, and I do similarly not-healthy things today). I'm not pretending to be a fount of nutrition knowledge, although I am curious about it and I'm actively learning, especially as I gear up to train for my first half-marathon.

Moral: I'm not a doctor. I highly suggest eating Wendy's and Chick-Fil-A fries when you can.

2. The smoothie pictured below is on a ladder, which I realize makes about as much sense as bored little boys sitting on suitcases in the middle of a train track while wearing hats that make them look like they belong in Gunga Din.

I'm not trying to be cool or hipster or Beatnik or send a message about how this smoothie will elevate your spirits - it's just that the ladder is next to a window which gets the most amazing light and it's too much of a hassle to move everything.

Moral: I'm lazy.

Now that you know I'm not a doctor and that I'm lazy, I'm going to give you a super easy smoothie recipe to add to the smoothie arsenal that you probably have already on Pinterest. It does have a lot of good things in it, like oats and berries and yogurt and spinach, and all of those things have stuff in them that are good for you, but all I know is that I crave smoothies like this after my runs (especially my long runs on the weekends, when I don't have to immediately make dinner). It really hits the fruity-chilled-liquid hole in my stomach.



Ingredients:

1 cup soy milk (or almond milk, fat free milk, etc.)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup other frozen berry or fruit - strawberry, blackberry, peaches
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
drizzle of honey

Combine, blend and go!

To be honest, I don't really use measurements. I just grab a handful of stuff and dump it in the blender. These are pretty good estimated measurements, but if your smoothie is too thick, just add a little more milk, and if it's too thin, add more berries or oats. I also play around with fruits and ratios, but this is pretty much the basis of almost every smoothie I make. Also, if you're gluten free (like I am) I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats.


2.08.2014

What's Making Me Happy

Sometimes, finding the good parts of my life is really simple. The happy things are all glowing so bright, and life doesn't seem to be bad at all, and it's just a matter of deciding which parts of my life are making me the most happy.

Sometimes, finding the happy parts of my life is hard. I know they're there, but they're being overshadowed by annoying little black rain clouds, pestering me with their rain and thunder. It's hard to see what else is out there when you're surrounded by those little black devils.

To clarify, I'm not saying my life is bad or unpleasant, and I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer at all. I know I'm extremely fortunate in my life, and there are so many things I'm grateful for in my life: my friends, my family, their love and forgiveness, my home, my neighborhood, my students, the internets, sunny days.... I could go on.


But sometimes, I think, my anxiety about uncertainty makes me forget about all the good things in life. The good things that won't go away, no matter what happens in the future. Sometimes the uncertainty is so scary that I forget the unknown can be a wonderful adventure, and could lead to some new discoveries about myself. Sometimes I forget that the scary uncertainties might not even come to pass.

When I remember this, I notice the annoying little clouds parting a bit. They maybe do not disappear completely, but I can at least see the shining parts of life through their cracks.

(That's what she said. Sorry, I just had to.)

1. Oiselle Running Apparel


I'm a staunch anti-Lululemon consumer of athletic clothing, so I'm ecstatic I discovered this brand. I found Oiselle through one of the new blogs I'm following (Ask Lauren Fleshman) and I love everything they do and stand for. Women-only running clothing? Check. Empowerment for women? Check. Super adorable and good quality clothing? Check. Beautiful marketing and branding? Check. Created by women? Check.

I'll take one of everything in a size small, please.

By the way, do you not understand why I don't support Lululemon (and am actually a strong opponent to it)? Then please read about Lululemon's see-through pants (it happened again!), Chip Wilson's racist, sexist and crazy statements, and one woman's account of the Lululemon murder PLUS what it was like to work there (which are two different things - sorta). Yes, I realize Chip Wilson stepped down from his position as CEO, but I will never feel comfortable buying from a company that was founded by such a misogynist and racist.

2. Aerie's Lingerie Ad Campaign


I know, I know - they are totally pandering to women like me who like when clothing companies use real women. I know this is a marketing ploy and I'm aware that I'm being sucked in and I'm falling into an advertiser's dark hole. And I also know these women are still attractive and young and yeah...I hear that. But I would so much rather buy from a brand that uses realistic women with the message that I, a real human being with fleshy parts and small boobs and wrinkly parts and not always shaved parts, am completely sexy and attractive, instead of buying from the Other Brand that tells me (and men) I MUST HAVE BIG BOOBS TO BE SEXY! AND LONG HAIR! LOOK AT THE BOOBS! LOOK AT THE HAIR! LOOK AT THE COMPLETELY SMOOTH AND HAIRLESS SKIN! And quite frankly, that just makes me feel bad about myself and my body, and I'm over that.

So, yes to Aerie and their pandering, and no to any brand that tells me I need to look a certain way to get a man.

3. 5 Things Guys Do That Girls Hate

I hate when women write articles about what guys have to do to make girls happy. I hate when men write articles about what girls have to do to make guys happy. I dislike anybody telling anybody that in order to make anyone happy they have to, at anytime, act different from themselves.

So I love this article from Melanie Schmitz at Hello Giggles. She had me at number one: "Make lists complaining about the things we like to wear" and I adored her at this next little tidbit
I'm sorry. I wasn't aware my wedge sneakers offended you so much. Would you like me to throw them in the garbage with every single item of clothing in my wardrobe that displeases you, my lord?
YES. (Edit: by YES I mean AMEN.)

2.05.2014

The Biggest Loser debacle means we should ask questions, not make judgements.

So everyone is talking about the Biggest Loser winner, Rachel, and her astounding and perhaps over-kill weight loss. I have so many thoughts on this, and I have gotten into arguments about this, and I'm still attempting to organize my thoughts, but they essentially boil down to the following:

1. We cannot tell if Rachel has an eating disorder. Again: Based simply on her physical appearance, we cannot tell if she has an eating disorder.

I know, she lost a lot of weight. Maybe she's healthy, maybe she's not. From just seeing her on television, second-hand, and without any knowledge of her diet and fitness habits, it is impossible to tell if she is anorexic, bulimic, etc.

I suppose I'm extremely sensitive to this since I have been called anorexic and bulimic and unattractive, based on my physical appearance, up through present day. Men sometimes make comments about skinny women looking unhealthy, co-workers joke about me getting blown over by wind (which I completely take as a joke, but I've heard it since I was about 8 and I know similar comments were made about the winner), students sometimes call me frail and ask me if I eat (the joys of teaching blunt teenagers), parents of my students tell me I need to eat more, etc. And I follow a healthy lifestyle - I work out 4-5 times a week, I eat healthy foods and in appropriate proportions, so I know my body is healthy, despite the jokes and the comments. Again, we cannot tell if she has an eating disorder just based on her appearance.

Would we think she was ill if we hadn't seen her before weight? If we didn't have a fuller face to compare? Or was it such a drastic change that it looks overly extreme?

2. The show promotes this kind of drastic weight loss. What did you expect from a show that rewards people for losing the most amount of weight? 

I understand the show tries to promote healthier habits: lean meal choices, appropriate exercise, but when the contestants go home they are left to their own devices and aren't monitored at the same level as they were at "The Ranch." Everyone expects people to gain the weight back; why is it so shocking someone could possibly go the other way? If someone is a competitor, they will take the drastic measures necessary to win. The very nature of the show sets up people for this.

Which leads me to the main point I want to make: while we shouldn't make judgements about the winner's appearance, we should be asking questions:

A. What is "healthy"? What does that look like?
B. What is a "healthy weight" for an individual? Not a generalization (BMI), but for individual bodies.
C. Is losing so much weight in such a short amount of time as portrayed on the show healthy? Is it sustainable? Is it a good role model for the average person?
D. What are the methods used by this year's winner? Were they healthy or were they not? These are the most important questions to ask, rather than quickly deciding she is or is not suffering from an eating disorder.

Soon enough, this issue will die down. But there will come along another woman for people to body-hate. Again and again we see it in social media: women who are overweight are slammed, women who are underweight are slammed, and who actually feels good about their body and health? (And I'm not even going to mention that guys typically do not get the same amount of criticism.) Instead of rash judgements and quick anger, let's ask questions that will actually get us answers and help all women get healthy - mentally and physically.

2.03.2014

Running: The Beginning

When I started this blog, I intended to use it as a platform to talk about my experiences with running (among other things), and since stories and other important things generally start with the beginning, I thought I'd be obvious and unimaginative and kick things off with how I began running.

"Begin running" - how does someone start doing something your body was designed to do? I ran as a kid, usually in the form of playing horses or playing tag. I routinely won the 50 yard dash in grade school until the rest of the kids started catching up with my height and my long legs were no longer an advantage. I never considered myself a "runner"; I was always an "equestrian" (that makes me sound like I associated with Mit Romney, but no) and a "swimmer", but never a "runner".

The truth is, I was afraid of running. I had/have asthma, so I was often really afraid of having an asthma attack and tragically dying on a running track, which no thank you. I was also afraid of looking stupid, what with my gawky, stick-like, androgynous body and my inability to move efficiently. And I was that gem of a person who didn't want to do something I couldn't succeed at, and thus, did not bother with running.


In list form, my reasons for not running when I was growing up:
1. I was afraid I would die.
2. I was afraid of looking like a dork.
3. I didn't think I could win and therefore it was beneath me.

I was a jerk growing up. A bony, people-pleasing, lovable jerk.

However, life did its thing, and I became less jerk-like and more human-like, and at some point I started feeling a very small, very faint desire to run. Maybe I was looking for some way to set goals and train after selling my horse and giving up on the Olympics (really, I didn't associate with Mit Romney), or find some form of exercise that offered more opportunities and options than swimming. Maybe I really wanted a runner's body and those well-defined, muscular hamstrings - which is a weird thing, but it is a thing.

And, predictably, the seed finally sprouted. It was probably thanks to some people I no longer have in my life - people who frustrated me, who told me negative things about myself, and who said one true thing: that I was too afraid. Their voices cemented into my own internal voice, and I was carrying this cement block with me, until I couldn't anymore. Until I was finally ready to drop it and prove I wasn't afraid anymore. I wanted to show them I was a better and stronger person than they thought, and I wanted to prove to myself I was strong enough to do this thing that scared and intimidated me.

My first run lasted for about a minute and a half, and I kid you not, I felt like I had run a marathon. Very rarely are there actual moments in life when you know something has changed, but in that minute and a half, I knew my life was forever transformed. And it has, in a million different little, immeasurable and significant ways.

2.01.2014

What's Making Me Happy

I did not much feel like being happy this week. I felt like sitting in the middle of a sunny park, eating a soft-serve ice cream cone while staring off into space. Your basic cry for help, really.

Unfortunately, it is not sunny in Denver right now. It is gray and cold and generally unpleasant weather in which to sit in a park and eat ice cream. However, I think it would still be an effective cry for help if I stared at the crematorium from my living room window while eating my soft-serve ice cream cone. Dead bodies and ice cream - I think that's what one would call a "Classic Combination".

Basically, what I'm saying is, I'm feeling sick and I have friends who are sick and really really sick and I don't want to move from my bed and I'm taking the broken front gate of my apartment building as a sign that God doesn't want me to do anything today. It's a typical burning bush scenario.

I'm also saying that I really need something to make me feel good and laugh.

1. I admit I never listened to Pete Seeger when he was alive. That was stupid of me, but I suspect I'm not the only one. Luckily, the internets are a bountiful source of Pete Seeger-ness right now, which is making my chosen internet experience pretty pleasant. This falls under the Make Me Feel Good category.


2. I don't know why, but fifteen year old girls are really good at making cool things out of stupid shit. In one specific scenario from this past year, I needed an 80s-ish t-shirt and figured I would make one out of my many free t-shirts taking up space in my dresser. The amount of high school girls who are able to do this on YouTube made me feel confident about my ability, but no. Just, no.

Just The Tips is all about that, and then some. They appeal to my sarcastic side, and my strange desire to do crafts, but at the same time they remind me why I never should. This falls under the Make Me Laugh category.


Also, check them out on NY Mag's website.

3. I go through a phase every January and February where I binge watch Alfred Hitchcock movies. My favorites are the films with Jimmy Stewart, but that's mostly because I have a weird thing for tall guys with boyish charm. Also on that list: Dick Van Dyke, John Krasinski and Benedict Cumberbatch (who is maybe more alien than boy, but is at least a charming alien).

My favorite film is Rear Window and I don't need to explain it to you. If you watch it, you will understand. This falls under the Make Me Feel Good category.


By the way, I had a dream about Cumberbatch last night: we were in a relationship (yes please) and then he scammed me and I woke up SO not okay with that.

To sum up, I took this picture after peeing this morning:


And then I crawled back into bed. The end.