29 videos that make me happy.

This is a day late…but yesterday would have been a day early…February is a little bit crazy, but it still deserves a #29for29 list.

Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns…and we all have our ways of dealing with them. One of my favorite methods of dealing with the less-than-pleasant world is to watch videos that bring me joy.

Here are my top 29, ordered from amusing to life-bringing. Watch at your leisure.

29. Obama’s like a real person

 

28. Weekend Update Joke-off (where my fave people on SNL were all together)

 

27. Pretty much any Scrubs episode prior to season 7. Here are some options for you (and I do the first one, btw).

 

26. Canadian Tire thingy aka…sappy teacher video

 

25. Jack Sparrow

 

24.  Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog (the middle is my favorite part)

 

23. The adorable laughing penguin.

 

22. Movie Insults (for when you want to say things you shouldn’t)

 

21. The end of Crazy Stupid Love

 

20. Any of Jimmy’s Thank You notes

 

19. Dick in a Box (an oldie but a goodie)

 

18. The final Obama Anger Translator (because I can’t anymore)

 

17. If you’re not a Texas Tech fan, you won’t get this one – if you are, I don’t need to explain. Crappy video quality, sure, but my memory is sharp.

 

16. The Little Miss Sunshine dance scene

 

15. Bruce Willis as Rachel’s boyfriend

 

14. Glove and Boots Hero’s Journey (yes, it’s educational, but I still love it)

 

13. Drunk History vol. 5 Remember when drunk history was only online? I do. I’m so old.

 

12. Any Celebrity Jeopardy sketch with “Sean Connery” in it. That 40th anniversary edition is like a high school classroom.

 

11.Kyle’s Mom (no, I’m not better than this)

 

10. Beyonce’s dancers

 

9. Sassy Gay Friend – Giving Tree

 

8. The Mysterious Ticking Noise

 

7. Whine about it: Why mornings are the worst

 

6. America’s Sweethearts buffet monologue – I know this whole thing. Like, memorized.

 

5. Bonjour, Girl!

 

4. The convenience store scene. Sorry not sorry. At all.

 

3. 2015 Madden commercial (I still love it, shamelessly. I still don’t totally know why.)

 

2. Substitute teacher video pt. 1

 

1. Substitute teacher video pt. 3 (low quality, I know, sorry, but it’s worth it)

29 unforgettable experiences

I’ve had 29 years and 8 months of experiences. And as Colbert would say, I love experiencing experiences. Many of these experiences have made me a better person. Others have made great stories. At the end of the day, these 29 experiences have helped make me the person I am today.

29. Watching my high school football team win the state playoffs. The rain, the chilly weather, and awful playing conditions definitely made the showdown seem Hollywood-worthy. It also solidified my love of the game and being a fan.

28. Riding out a tornado at Sea World. I know, sounds like a Sharknado spin-off, but it happened. While I don’t think it really shaped me, it’s unforgettable.

27. Harvesting wine grapes. Never underestimate the power of a working weekend vacation.

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26. Road tripping late at night.  When you’re in college, it’s always a great idea to drive 5 hours one way from Columbia, MO to Ames, Iowa and back on a weeknight to see Frank Warren speak. It’s also always a good idea to go for extensively long weeknight drives to air out frustration, even if you do end up in Fulton, MO.

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25. Seeing Hot Hot Heat perform at the Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri my freshman year. I didn’t know who they were, but I do now, and it continues to stand as the best concert experience I’ve ever had.

24. Getting my tattoos. There are people who appreciate body art and people who don’t. I OBVIOUSLY love it – even if those two-three weeks after going under the needle are less than comfortable.

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23. Finishing a whole chapstick. No, for real, it happened. I couldn’t believe it, and I don’t think that I’ve ever felt a greater sense of achievement.

22. Finishing my first book. Despite the fact that I will never, ever, ever have that one published, it was truly a labor of love and one of the top 5 things I’m proud of in my life.

21. Seeing Barack Obama speak at Mizzou before the election. It wasn’t just that he was a phenomenal speaker or that he became President, it was the whole process and feeling of the night. When there’s that much energy focused in the same direction, you can feel it in the air.

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20. Getting pulled over for the first time. I drive with purpose. Sometimes that purpose is also quite urgent (or I feel like it is, anyway) and I end up driving a little faster than I should. I doubt that I’ll ever NOT drive like this, but the first time I got pulled over will always stick in my mind when I hit that one speed…

19. Being snow-stranded in NYC. As much as I love my friends and love traveling, I’m really, really bad when my travels don’t go as planned. I learned a ton about my tolerance for incongruity that three days.

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18. Taking a positive psychology class. This class was one of the least-important classes I’ve ever taken, but I also have to say that

17. Seeing my name in print for the first time. It was addictive, and I still miss it a little. But in the end, I’m not about that cutthroat life and I want to actually MAKE change happen, not just write about people who do.

16. My second first kiss. When your first kiss is at age 5 on the playground, the second one is the real first one.

15. Doing missionary work in Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I went on a mission trip with my (soon-to-be-abandoned-by-me) church. A lot of what happened on that trip informed my opinions about missionary vs aid work and helped me realize what I consider to be my ultimate goal in life: helping others.

14. Finally attending an Aimee Mann concert. I’ve loved Aimee Mann’s music since I was but a wee middle school student, so actually seeing her in concert after years of pining was absolutely amazing. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

13. Earning a journalism degree at Mizzou. Believe me, Mizzou’s undergrad program truly deserves its notoriety. There are things you learn about life, people, and the world as a working reporter that you can’t learn any other way. And Mizzou is the best place to do it.

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12. Breaking my tailbone. So much pain. Going to classes and standing up the whole time. Not being able to actually SIT for a while. Whole thing.

11. The first time I bought something in a single-digit size. Yes, body positivity! We’re all beautiful! But really, I still remember the day that I actually fit into a size 8 pants and I started crying in the dressing room.

10. Every time I’ve thrown a dance. I love hosting things, whether it’s at my house or elsewhere. Homecoming at MHS, the Honors dances at Mizzou, I loved all the stress and excitement combined.

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9. Graduating high school. I know, my college degree doesn’t make the cut, but this one does? Yeah, because leaving high school is like discovering that a whole world is open to you. That feeling is the best in the world.

8. Watching the kids I taught for three years move on to high school. I had all the feels with this one, because in my mind and heart, those kids were my kids – still are. I was a hot fucking mess for like 48 hours, but I wouldn’t trade knowing those kiddos for anything.

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7. Buying a house. I’m so bad at making decisions that I can still remember the anxiety I felt at pulling the trigger on buying my house. Yet, I absolutely love it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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6. Almost flipping my car in the snow. Aaaaaand continuing to drive from Columbia, MO to Olathe, KS because I was determined to make it the hell out of dodge for the holiday. I was a fool. But oh well.

5. Going through therapy. Best decision I’ve made for my own health, ever. If you truly want to know yourself and improve your life, consider it.

4. Adopting & rehabilitating a street dog (or three). Each of my fur babies have come to me with their own stories and their own struggles. Figuring out earn their trust, keep them healthy, and make them a part of the family made me a better person.

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3. Studying abroad in South America. It make have been a short stay, but learning how to communicate across cultures, expanding my horizons, and building connections in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay really made an impact on how I imagined my future and what I believed I could do.

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2. Being a PA. I swear, being a PA was the best preparation for anything life can throw at me. Except like, paying taxes and bills and whatnot. But everything else? Yeah. Definitely. And it gave me confidence I never had before – so I owe ResLife one (or 18,000).

1. Traveling alone. I recently went to the UAE and Ghana, but I’ve been other places on my own before – from Chicago to Boston to road trips galore. Truth is, you learn something new about yourself with each trip.

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8 more years? Pretty please?

Eight years ago, I was so excited for President Obama to be inaugurated that I could barely contain myself.

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I’d recently been to Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, where I had many conversations in broken Spanish about Barack Obama, sharing excitement with my new international friends over the choices of my home country. I was ready to see what amazing connections were ahead for not just me as a person, but for our country as a whole.

In 2008, I had the privilege of casting my first official Presidential vote for a man I believed in, a man who was classy and inspiring when he came to speak at Mizzou, a man who admitted his flaws, who wasn’t afraid to be genuine with the public (as much as a politician ever is), and a man who I hoped would make me proud to be American again. Then, I’d shared the anticipation then celebration of election night (and a truly delectable fruit pizza) with friends.

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In 2012, I once again cast my vote for President Obama and Uncle Joe. I couldn’t wait to write yet another congratulatory letter to Michelle and BoBama (and the girls, too, I guess). I even stuck a bumper sticker on the back of Chompers.

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You know those things are forever, fam.

So many of my fellow voters had been disillusioned by what they saw as his short comings in his first term that I found myself constantly defending my enthusiasm to vote for him again. Which prompted me to make my election blog focused on celebrating his successes (https://obamawesome.wordpress.com/) rather than on knocking the competition, like 2008’s 72 People Who Would Make a Better President than McCain. Because Uncle Joe is right.

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President Obama never once disappointed me. He even achieved more of what he promised than I originally thought possible. He has been president for the entirety of my pseudo-adult, post-college life. Facing a political atmosphere so very different from what I’ve become a functioning almost-grown-up in is rather intimidating, but I owe it to myself and to President Obama to keep standing up for and working for the betterment of my fellow humans.

What I’m thankful for, more than anything else in the past eight years, is the class, compassion, and level-headedness he embodied while ushering the United States into a more inclusive, equal era. Nothing that happens for the next four years can ever take away the last eight. Even as Obama is leaving, he’s still looking out for us, still the guy who’s supporting us, and telling us that “We’re going to be okay.

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Thank you all for being there for us, and for each other.

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#29for29 goals progress update

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’m checking in on my own #29for29 goals that are going to run out of time in five short months.

The end of 2016 was pretty cray for me, so let’s see where I’m at.

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  1. Visit two new countries I’ve never been to before.  Ghana and Dubai
  2. Take a cooking class. December 16, Dad and I went to a class that was all about cranberries.
  3. Work out again. For at least a solid 3-6 months routine if not longer.
  4. Attend a gala. Went to the Margarita Ball November 19th to benefit children’s charities.
  5. Plant a tree.
  6. Do something that absolutely terrifies me.
  7. Write a new book. It’s coming along really slowly. I may have to substitute something else here…
  8. Learn how to do one fancy hairstyle really, really well. I can do one fairly decent, but it needs some work.
  9. Make a pilgrimage to my heart-home. Spring Break?
  10. Re-read Jasper Fforde’s books I love and read the new ones for the first time.
  11. While I’m at it, let’s do the same for Harry Potter. Progress so far: I’m in Book 4.
  12. Buy a stranger’s dinner. Did this one a couple of times, actually.
  13. Finally learn to use my sewing machine.
  14. Complete a 30-day photo challenge.
  15. Go clubbing. In two different cities, no less.
  16. Catch up with all the people with whom I never intended to lose touch.
  17. Find a new volunteering opportunity.
  18. Get a makeover, just for fun. Rolled this one into the gala one on November 19.
  19. Have a legit 12-hour movie marathon – topic to be determined.
  20. Finish my “Girl Power” wall of inspiration (for now, I’m never really done with any of my creative projects).
  21. Write fan letters to the five people whose work I admire most. 2 down.
  22. Spend a day completely by myself.
  23. Get another tattoo. Already working on it, should get started within the next week – but it’s a doozy, so it’ll take a couple of sessions.
  24. Color something every. single. week. So far.
  25. Throw a four-course dinner party that I cook myself. December 29th!
  26. Mark one more off my list of the “World’s Most Beautiful Libraries.” George Peabody Library in Baltimore
  27. Learn to meditate.
  28. See at least one more live performance of *something.* I’ve been to so, so many. Seth Meyers, jazz, poetry reading, cultural dancing in Dubai, DNCE in January…
  29. Write a “29” blog post every month. So far!

So. 11 done, 5 in progress, 2 good so far, and 11 to go.

Still making it! But I need to get a small move on, because I’m over halfway out of time and not quite halfway done with the list. I’m sure I can do it.

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29 pieces of advice to live by

Hey fam, forgot to post this yesterday in all the dinner-party-throwing-hoopla. But better late than never, eh?

Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of mantras and making sure that yours isn’t leading you down a bad path. Obviously, I’ve been a little introspective about these things lately, so I’ve found it pretty easy to come up with 29 pieces of advice I try to use as guidelines (not rules) that I want to share for this month’s #29for29.

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23. Don’t feel guilty for doing what’s best for you.

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21. He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.  – Catch-22

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17. Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. -Goethe

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14. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy. -Ms. Frizzle

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9. We must learn who is gold and who is gold plated.

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6. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. -Neil Gaiman

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3. Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. – Mr. Rogers

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1. Know your own happiness. -Jane Austen

Change your mantra, change your life

“Every day may not be good but there is good in every day.”

“You are enough.”

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”


Lots of people have mantras. I’ve always kid of rolled my eyes at people who have mantras, particularly when those mantras are very popular in the retail industry.

Of course, many people would argue that I do live by a mantra. After all, my first tattoo was a single word that could be interpreted as a lifelong mantra.

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There’s a different meaning for that tattoo, believe me.

But the truth is, people who say I live by mantras are right. It’s just…I don’t wear those mantras on my sleeve. Or my thigh. And often, I’m not even aware of them myself. Case in point: 2016.

Now look, a few weeks ago, I defended 2016. I told people it wasn’t so bad and that we were just letting the election and other political tensions overshadow everything else.

2016 heard me and made me regret defending it. In ways I never expected.

So, going into 2017, I’ve realized that I set myself up for my stressful end to the year, and not just with my mouth. This year, without ever truly thinking it, my mantra has been “prepare for the worst.

In 2016, I prepared for the worst when I…

  • took a giant bag of motion sickness medicine (that I didn’t end up needing) and other drugs on my spring break cruise.
  • kept emailing and emailing and emailing and calling and calling and calling my grad school advisor until he finally answered because I was afraid he’d set me up for failure (he did, but a quick call to the Dean took care of it).
  • wrote out an official last will and testament, had it notarized, and left it with an uninterested yet terribly reliable party before embarking on my solo trip to Ghana and Dubai (I’m obviously alive).
  • started not just looking but actually interviewing for jobs outside of education within a week of the new school year (necessity of this tbd).
  • stayed at home on election night instead of joining a watch party (although…I was preparing for the worst and the slightly not-so-awful there, so…).

I even reinforced it year-round with this photo as my lock screen:

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At first, this may just look like a classic dog-mom pic, but there’s more to that story. Exactly a year ago, I woke up on December 27th and looked at the super-cute photo of my dogs I had taken the night before.

On December 26th, 2015, a tornado rushed through my locale, sucking all of the air out of my street as I checked on the neighbor kids a mere 30 minutes before it touched down a few miles West of me in Sunnyvale and Garland. We were lucky in Mesquite. We didn’t even have wind damage.

However, before I got the phone call from my neighbors stranded at work and worried about their kiddos, I’d already been sitting in my bathtub, hunkered down with my dogs. In fact, the moment the siren went off, I’d grabbed all three of them, dumped them in the bathtub, gone back for their leashes and then leashed them to the exposed bathtub pipe (thanks, Twister).

Finally, I grabbed a couple of quilts, my laptop, my phone, my folder of important documents, and Oatmeal. I was prepared to lose the entire house, except hopefully my newly remodeled bathroom with full-length concrete board behind that subway tile and Tiffany-blue paint.

But like I said, we were lucky. I was thankful.

I also didn’t trust it. I left my dogs’ leashes attached to the pipe all night. I left my bag of necessities there. I even left the laptop, though I slept with my phone.

When I finally work up, I made this adorable yet pseudo-neurotic photo my lock screen and read about all of the people who didn’t manage to dodge the tornado. I called around, donated supplies, volunteered to walk displaced pups, and made sure to stay out of relief workers’ way. But in the back of my mind that day, my wheels were turning, reminding myself that if that tornado had touched down just a few miles east, all my precautions would have been necessary.

That’s how I lived 2016. Constantly on my toes, waiting for something to go wrong, and expecting the worst.

But here’s the thing: when you prepare for the worst, sometimes it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In 2016, my self-fulfilling prophecy became a GIANT snowball that picked me up in late August and has been slowly crushing me into it as it continued its descent.

Not anymore. Starting today, I’ve changed my lock screen to something new. Something better. Something like a…uh…positive force to remind me that even when it feels as if all the good in the world has been sucked out, there is still “hope, happiness, and the desire to survive.”

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29 songs I will never stop loving

I’ve spent quite a lot of time on this blog in the past presenting my fave music videos. So, it seemed fitting that for my half-birthday, I post the 29 songs that I can pretty much guarantee I will never stop loving. 

Rather than explain them, I shall merely post them in order for your judgement. With music videos, when applicable. NSFW choices have a *** after them for your viewing.

29. #selfie by The Chainsmokers

28. Gasolina by Daddy Yankee ft. Pitbull***

27. Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-lot***

26. Grand Theft Autumn by Fall Out Boy

25. Hotel California by The Eagles

24. You Don’t Know Me by Ben Folds

23. Boys in the Hood by Dynamite Hack***

22. Vienna by Elton John

21. Gently by Tenacious D*** (Seriously.)

20. The Things We Do for Love by 10cc

19. Wild Wild West by Will Smith

18. Pretty Fly (for a White Buy) by The Offspring

17. Love You Much Better by The Hush Sound

16. These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra

15. Tyler by The Toadies***

14. I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island***

13. All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey

12. You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates (and others)

11. I Won’t Say I’m in Love from Disney’s Hercules

10. The Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

9. Alive with the Glory of Love by Say Anything!

8. When the Lights Go Out by Five

7. Benny and the Jets by Elton John

6. Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls

5. The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music

4. Get Low by Lil’ John and the Ying Yang Twins***

3. Pony by Ginuwine

2. Driving Sideways by Aimee Mann

1. I’m Looking Through You by The Beatles

29 priceless possessions

Let’s be real: my life has been a little bit off the rails as of late, and I’ve been a little bitter. And I tried to excise the bitterness by letting it all out…but…it’s probably impossible at this point. So to refocus, for myself, I’m writing about some good things in my life.

29. My autographed Cash Cab tee Buzzed-Erin may have embarrassed herself to get this autographed, but it was a good choice anyway.

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28. Cake Y’all, I’m not sure that anyone truly understands how much I love cake. But I do.

27. Mirrors You never truly understand how important a mirror is until you spend 2 weeks without one.

26. Piano It’s rare that I actually sit down and play my old piano these days, but the choice to do it when I simply need to is vital in my life.

25. Tapestry For years, this thing didn’t fit the rest of my style – and it still doesn’t, but it does fit the fairytale-themed guest room in my house.

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24. My grandfather’s hat Sentimental, sure. Does it fit my head? Not at all. But I do love it.

23. Humor & wit One of the traits that my students love about me is also one of the things I love about myself.

22. An eye for unique style and taste One thing I don’t get is how other people decorate their homes. Like, did you look at a magazine and just model your whole house after what you liked best? (Yes, apparently, some people do that.) I love that everything I buy is unique – or at least put together in a unique way. Not everyone can do that.

21. Love of reading Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. – Anonymous

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20. Sewing machine desk Was it legitimately inherited? Yes. Does it make me a hipster? Yes. Do I care? A little.

19. Health Somethings you can’t buy with money or obtain no matter what lengths you go to – and overall health is one of them. I’m thankful for every disease I don’t have.

18. Music It is the food of the soul.

17. Opportunity to impact change I love this part of my job. But the truth is, we all are given this opportunity in the US and how many of us use it?

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16. Respect Not only is respect earned, but it’s often not given even when you do earn it. So I treasure having it from those I do.

15. Memories Important, but they fade.

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14. Compliments I’m terrible at accepting them, and they make me uncomfortable, but the world would be a much meaner place without them.

13. International art collections An example of true cultural exchange in my living room. Pardon the fact that my summer travel spoils have yet to be framed and placed.

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12. Intelligence Not everyone has it, and though it often makes life more difficult, I’m thankful that I was graced with it.

11. Photographs There was a time in my life that I didn’t take enough, and so I cherish my photos now, rather than whine about the #selfie culture.

10. Mental health Somethings you can’t buy with money or obtain no matter what lengths you go to – and overall health is one of them. I’m thankful for every disease I don’t have.

9. Tattoos Yes, these rank above my general health, because when I’m dying or desperately ill, or even dead…my tattoos will still be there. #stayingpower

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8. Friendships My biggest dream in life was to have friends who become family – not just because I loved the TV show growing up, but because having a family of friends means that they chose me, not that they were stuck with me, and I’m so thankful and humbled that I have one.

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7. Degrees/diplomas Generally representative of education, these also mark times when I was successful (no, I don’t have the one from this year up yet).

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6. Self-confidence Some people are born with it. I was not. I faked it most of my life, and worked hard to actually create it the rest…and it’s not always as strong as I’d like. But having it is worth the work, because it makes a world of difference.

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5. Imagination/creativity This, however, is something that I was born with. And it’s such a huge part of who I am that I don’t know who I would be without it.

2-4. Dorrie, Skeeter, and Tigerlily My precious babies.

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1. Oatmeal My stuffed dog is the real MVP, y’all. I mean really. He has been my constant source of comfort and companionship my entire life – even when I realized all those imaginary friends were fake. Oatmeal listens and commiserates, even after all this time. (Always.)

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Why I Voted for Her.

In past years, I’ve had a political blog (or two) about my candidate of choice. But this year, I couldn’t rally enough love for any of the candidates to write a single post. I’m a woman. This doesn’t mean I support Hillary. But it sure as hell means I’m against Trump. So here we are, election season going strong, and I have found the need to say…something. Anything. Here goes.

Today, when early voting opened in my home state, I made damn sure that I made it before they closed to vote for Hillary Clinton.

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I don’t like her. Like, at all. I have theories about how she’s a soulless robot or has teeth where you shouldn’t…but those are ridiculous and neither here nor there.

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I much prefer Jill Stein, to be honest. However, I chose to compromise my own personal preference to vote in a way that might matter just a little more – because while every vote counts, I learned long ago that voting for a third-party candidate is a road to heartbreak (college-Erin was very psyched about Kinky Friedman running for governor).

Still, I voted for Hillary because I know how very hurtful a leader like Donald Trump would be to our future, particularly the future of minorities and women. And I need to do more than just complain about how there are no good, electable candidates.

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For those of you, regardless of gender, who say that Trump’s comments are not as large a concern for you as other issues, I respectfully disagree with that ranking for a number of reasons – but most of all, I disagree with it because if he’s willing to go against social norms that began to be established around the late-19th century, what else is he willing to throw out the window? Is this really a man we want in charge when we’re facing a real racial tension problem across our nation? Is he the person who’s going to continue to help us move forward as a society rather than backward?

I personally think he’s the worst one for the job.

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To those of you who say that his words are normal, that they’re not a concern at all…I would ask you to consider what that says about you.

I would ask you to realize that you are the people who hurt people like me the most.

I’ve had a lot of experiences with guys in my life, both positive and negative. I have never been seriously sexually assaulted or raped, and I’m thankful for this. But sexual harassment and gender discrimination have shaped my daily interactions with not just men, but women as well, my entire life.

Take, for example, the coworker who thought it was okay to “compliment” me in a coworker’s room by telling me how good I looked after losing 70 pounds…and then take it further by rubbing my criss-crossed thighs and saying, “You’re flexible, too, that’s hot.”

Funnily enough, that coworker’s actions bother me more than the guy I was interviewing, on trial for rape, who asked me, “Hey girl, how you feelin? You happy to be assigned to my case? You know I like women who have more curves to love.” (He was guilty, just FYI.)

An instance I actually like to laugh about is a blind date I was set up on by a friend. During those first getting-to-know-you back and forth, I discovered that apparently, a woman owning a house (or probably property in general) was a deal-breaker for my date. He wanted a wife who would move into his house that he owned, change nothing, and essentially just fill the role that his maid, take out, and (I conjecture)porn filled in his single life. When I called my friend from the bathroom, his answer was, “Yeah, I hoped that he wouldn’t be so misogynistic on the first date, sorry…”

Or the time that I, as a teacher, was sexually harassed by a student and when another came to my defense (though I have to admit, he chose an inappropriate avenue to pursue), the defending student got in trouble and my harasser became a victim to be pitied.

But really – here’s the truth: I, like many other women, judge a man not only by how he treats me, but how he allows others to treat me.

And if I’ve already decided that I care about you, that you’re a good person, and you matter to me…and then you let “locker room talk” or “bros before hos” be a reason you won’t stand up for me.

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So while I was of course upset at the freshman stupidly grinding all over me in the hallway when I was the on-call PA my junior year of college, despite my orders (and eventually pleas) for him to stop, he wasn’t the reason that I cried when I got back to my room. Yeah, he was a complete dick (though from looking at his Facebook profile now, he seems to be a respectable human being), but I could write him off as an idiot who I didn’t care about. 

I couldn’t do that with the two male coworkers who laughed at his antics and not only didn’t help, but encouraged it. The ones who, when I asked them to help me and back me up on this, went along with his jokes, telling me if any of us touched him, he could file charges against us (we all knew he couldn’t). Because apparently, rubbing yourself on a woman when she’s telling you to stop is hilarious. Just a giant joke. It took a third male coworker showing up and immediately inserting himself between us to protect me to end that show. 

You know, what hurts me most when these things happen isn’t the asshole perpetrators – it’s the thoughtless actions, non actions, and comments from those I respect.

What really hurt was my friends finding nothing wrong with the situation, which told me that I had no right to feel uncomfortable, or maybe even that I wasn’t worth protecting. That I didn’t have value to them.

What really hurt was that a teenager could harass me and get away with it because he, too, had something bad happen to him, and while violence should be punished (I agree), talking to your female teachers like they’re pieces of meat put in the classroom for you to lust after isn’t (I don’t agree).

What really hurt on that blind date was my friend knowing that the guy he set me up with was a misogynist, and thinking that it would be okay to offer me as a potential romantic pursuit.

What really hurt was needing to continue to cover that story, somehow unbiased, because his idiotic comments had given me a window in with his lawyer if I didn’t publish them. My harassment became a positive tool in the eyes of journalists (me included), and it took years for me to see what was wrong with that.

What really hurt was the fact that I didn’t even realize that I had been sexually harassed by my coworker because I’m so used to that kind of treatment, and then feeling even more ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up in the first place.

What will hurt the most is if you disregard my rights, fears, and needs as a woman in this society and vote Trump, a man who sees women not as equal to men, but as pieces of meat – at best, as animals. Voting for Trump shows me that you don’t care about me or any other woman you know.

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Dear First-Year Teachers…

Dear First Year Teachers,

I know you’re tired.

I know you feel overwhelmed.

I know you’ve thought a lot about quitting.

But I’m going to ask you for one more thing: when everything else is making you crazy, and you’re worried about your scores, and you’re afraid to ask for help…take time to know your students. 

There will never, ever be another group of students that you will love, hate, and love to hate more in your entire career.

I’m not saying that you won’t have amazing relationships with your future students.

Three of my former students brought their parents to meet me at Community Night this week, and those parents each thanked me, in different words, for caring about their kids beyond the classroom.

I’m not saying that there won’t be special ones.

Not every outstanding, successful high school senior remembers their middle school yearbook teacher (and her dad) and greets them with excitement. Only the special ones.

What I’m saying is that these kids, your first-year kids, are the ones you will remember forever.

They are the ones whose first, middle, and last names will never escape you.

The ones whose stories you will tell for years to come, and stories that your best friends will prompt by saying, “Tell them about that one time that Michael…” because they feel like they know each one personally.

The ones you wish you knew what happened to, what they’re doing, how they are, and the ones you never stop worrying about – wondering if they still need you.

The ones who show up the week before they graduate high school to tell you thank you, and do their best to make you cry in front of your current students.

The ones who hug you just as tightly in the grocery store five years after the last time they saw you as they did on the last day of school, who you spend half an hour talking to after a long day in the middle of Homecoming Week.

But most of all, they are the ones who are truly your children. They belong to you, and you belong to them.

So please, please, savor the best part of our jobs. Build relationships. Make connections. Open your heart to these kids and believe in your ability to make their lives better.

Because when all else fails, that’s what life is about.

Love, an 8th year teacher

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