How Twitter Saved my Life

When I tell people that I use Twitter, they either get a glazed look in their eyes or look at me like I am crazy. They imagine me sitting on my couch, tweeting things like “Oh, my cat just crawled on my lap, how cute” or “today I am going to have pizza for dinner” or even “boy, do I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t worry, I’ll take you with me.” To be honest, I felt the same when I first signed up for work.

You see, Twitter was supposed to be a way to develop my own PLN a.k.a. a professional learning network (education loves acronyms). I was going to follow a million, kabillion master teachers and bask in the glory of their tweets. Through this network, I was going to strengthen my professional life and become the best teacher I could ever be. Go me!

I followed teachers, then I followed teachers they followed, and then I sat and waited. And waited. I tried following one of the many edchats that occur regularly but, as a twitter noob, they went so fast and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. I tried to read every single comment and was quickly overwhelmed. This was not a good thing for me. I unfollowed almost everyone and stopped checking my twitter account. I did not see the use of it.

Move forward a couple of months. I decided to try it again. This time I didn’t follow any teachers. I started following celebrities– Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Through them I discovered the Bloggess. It wasn’t so bad to lurk all over them. They had so many followers that my silent stalking would go unnoticed. Then I realized that they were REAL people. Granted, I squee whenever one of them RTs me or even remotely recognizes that I am alive. In fact, following these wonderful people actually helped me get supplies for my classroom. I wrote a post about it if you want to see it. Thus began my education in the way Twitter works. Understanding how to use it has changed my life.


I know, so stereotypical.
It was the only think I could think of.

You see, because of my feelings of social awkwardness, I find it difficult to talk to other people. I always feel imperfect and judged and stuff. It is not comfortable for me in social situations.  This severely limits the number of friends that I have made. Twitter was a place where I could be myself without having to be near someone. I could interact with people and not have to worry about them judging me or, if they did, they would be able to just unfollow me. After all, they weren’t REALLY people.

The thing is, as I learned more about using social media, I realized that I can truly create friendships with other people. When I first started blogging, my friend Amy at Lucy’s Football gave me the encouragement I needed to continue. When I couldn’t write or tweet because I was having extreme anxiety, she was not upset with me when I cam back. Instead, she acted as if I had never disappeared. I don’t recall ever feeling that sort of acceptance from any person not in my close family.

Through my contact with Amy, I learned that people aren’t going to hate me if I go away for a bit. They will also remember me when I come back. If they don’t, meh, who cares. Through this interaction with others, I was able to gain confidence in my friend-making abilities. I have been putting myself out there and cultivating the itty bitty buds of friendship IN REAL LIFE! I’m still a bit skittish about trying to meet new people, but I’m getting better. In fact, one of the real life friendships I’ve developed over the year has made me so happy. In Jen, I have found a friend who is not demanding but still likes to spend time with me. She’s a wonderful person who gets my fears and feelings of ineptitude about friendship. And she *doesn’t* care. We have fun when we are together; sometimes I forget to breathe because I’m laughing so hard. This might not have occurred if I hadn’t learned how to be a friend through Twitter.

Geez, this is long. It was much simpler in my head when I started organizing. Bear with me, you guys!

Last week, I had to go to a retinal specialist. My eye doctor thought that I might be on the verge of a detachment. That is some scary ish, I’m not gonna lie. I went straight to my Twitter family and asked them whether or not they’d experienced a retinal detachment. Even though none of them had, they immediately offered me support. My friends were there when I needed them. People think that friendships made through social media aren’t real. I know that they are.

So, thanks to Danielle, Megan, Amy, and Bridget for taking the time to be there for me when I really needed you. Thank you, Jen, for making the time to take me to the retinal specialist so I didn’t have to go on my own. You have all touched my life in such a positive way.

You guys deserve a sunshine award.

Go you, lightbringers!

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Tragedy in Aurora (A Little Political)

This morning I heard news about the horrific tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. You can read the article on CNN.com if you want more information. An armed man entered a theater full of patrons who were watching The Dark Knight Rises midnight showing. He wore a gas mask. After he entered, he threw tear gas into the theater. He then proceeded to shoot, killing 12 and wounding 50 people. The  descriptions of terror given by the victims horrified me. They also made me so very, very angry.

What in the world possessed this man to take the lives of so many people into his hands? What made him so disturbed that he felt the need to perpetrate so much destruction? Who made him the person who chooses who gets to live and who dies?

I know that mental illness causes people to do commit atrocities and that, sometimes, we don’t discover the motivation behind such acts. He may not even know directly why he broke. It just isn’t fair. Those people were excited to see a movie that they’ve probably been waiting a while to see. They stayed up all night, waiting in long lines, and enjoying the comradeship that comes with being around other fans. Families, friends, and strangers were drawn closer together because of the time spent in anticipation of the opening of this movie. So much synergy destroyed by a single act of violence.

I have never been one who advocates gun control. My family is from the country. Usually hunting and country go hand in hand. My husband has guns; he was in the military and hunts on occasion. I’ve been around guns for as long as I can remember. I have chosen not to have my own guns because it never really interested me. The thing is, gun safety has always, always been taught and we are doing the same with our daughter. Respecting the power of firearms is the only way to be safe around them. Now, though, I wonder if anyone focuses on that anymore. Should there be stricter rules for owning a gun? Should there be a limit on how many guns a person can own? Should a psych evaluation be required?

This is the third time in my life that I’ve asked these questions. (Political viewpoint coming up, bear with me.) I am not big into governmental control over certain things. Growing up around so many responsible owners of firearms gave me a sense of security. If everyone was like my family then there would be no need to control guns. I am doubting that now. There have been entirely too many instances of mass murder by one person with guns. Where do we draw the line? I am not saying that guns should be banned. I think they are entirely too easy to acquire. I don’t have the answer about how to fix this problem, though I wish I did.

Then I started thinking about what people will say about this tragedy. Right now it is fresh, but in a week or two, it will be over. There will be another event somewhere that makes this one fade. That is when the comments will come, making light out of the situation. I know that humor is a way for people to deal with input that their minds are having difficulty processing. What about those who have lost family and loved ones? This will NEVER be humorous to them. Ever.

I know people who had family involved in the Columbine shootings. One of my friends used to coach swimming there. Her mother worked at Columbine when the shootings occurred 13 years ago. She still cannot talk about it because the pain is so close to her heart. You can see it in her eyes. Our students were babies when the shootings happened. They sometimes joke about another Columbine. It is not real to them and therefore it is a source of macabre humor. They don’t know how much it hurts.

I guess the point of this rambling post is that we should not forget this. There has to be something we can do to prevent events like this occurring. I don’t want to live in a world where fear permeates every thing we do. I refuse to be afraid.

Year 13 Begins

The next few weeks are going to be very hectic for me. I return to work on August 1 and students arrive on August 8. I will be working on getting my classroom set up and planning my first quarter. One of the challenges that I am (very) excited to face is the implementation of 1:1 technology. For those of you who aren’t knowledgeable in educationese, it means that all of my students will have netbooks and the use of textbooks will be limited. The transition will be fairly easy for me because I don’t generally use the textbook anyway and I had a classroom set of netbooks in my classroom next year. I still have to plan and plan and plan (it makes my brain happy). I’ve decided to take my teaching a step further and make my class inquiry based. It is a big step for me because I give up some of the control that I am used to. Thing is, the kids are fully engaged when you give them a choice.

Another challenge that I face is the fact that I will have to work with new people this school year. Because of teacher movement, half of freshman level teachers are brand new to the school. Some are even brand new to teaching. I love that we have fresh ideas, but I am also sad because our group last year worked well together. They knew me and my quirks. They didn’t get upset when I would hide in my room because I needed alone time. Plus, I get terribly shy and anxious when working with new people. I’m either silent or have diarrhea of the mouth and say the stupidest things! Time to retrain everyone (myself included).

One of the aspects of teaching that I love is mentoring new teachers. I like offering them support and helping them make it through the first few years. Teaching is hard and if you don’t have support, you’ll never make it. True words, those. I’ve already met one of our brand new baby teachers (term of endearment, btw). My first impression of him was that he was T.A.L.L. I have no idea how tall he is, but I had to twist my neck to talk to him. He’s an Algebra teacher, but I won’t hold it against him. (J/K. I love my mathmagician friends. They astound me.) It was exciting to hear his ideas for next year. He is so fresh and so hopeful. I want to help him keep some of that as the year progresses.

I went into work yesterday to get the keys to my classroom. Usually I don’t go into work this far in advance. However, I have a new classroom.

I know! First a new principal then new teachers and now a new classroom. Doesn’t anyone understand my brain?!?!

I have 12 years of teacher stuff. At the end of May, I had to sort through scads and scads of resources to determine whether or not I needed them anymore. I ended up getting rid of/recycling 8 big black garbage bags of things I hadn’t used in a long time. I didn’t realize how cathartic it would be to get rid of so much. Even though I pared down my resources, I still had to pack them up to be moved to my new room.

Here it is, in its natural state:

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Before I can even think about planning or the other hundreds of things teachers do at the beginning of the new year, I have to unpack. Things just don’t work unless I’ve got my little nest set up. The room is so much bigger than my previous one AND it has more storage. You know what the best feeling is, though?

I don’t have enough stuff to fill up the storage space! I don’t feel completely overwhelmed with things. Maybe this will help me in the next school year. I’ll have space to breathe.

This year is looking up already!

Oh, don’t worry, I’ll post my classroom when it is finished. I know ya’ll were skeered that I’d forget to show you the beauty of it. =)

Merida: A New Princess?

My daughter and I went to see the movie Brave on its opening day. The first time I saw the trailer, I’ve wanted to see this movie. Even more than I want to see Magic Mike! Inorite? Whodathunk? There’s not even a hawt guy in it (Oh no! I seemed to have slipped into teen-speak right there. Ops. I must be missing my little rapscallions. Apologies, dear non-judgemental readers.). My daughter wanted to see it even more than I did. She would ask to see it every time she saw the movie trailer. We went. We loved it. We wanted to see it again. The girl usually tells me about all of her favorite parts of movies that we see. She essentially retold the entire movie. It was good. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

However, that is not the point of this post.

I started doing some research after the movie to see what others thought of it. I was shocked at some of the responses I found. Many blog posts and articles that had a feminist slant bashed the movie. Here I was, thinking that Merida was a fabulous alternative to the typical swoon-and-wait-for-rescue princess. She takes matters into her own hands. She’s brave, strong, and determined. Merida can take be victorious when faced with danger and stands up for what she believes in. In essence, I loved her and was excited when my daughter began to emulate her.

Apparently I had it all wrong. There are so many things wrong with Merida.

  • She’s a princess (gasp)!
    • Some of the writers hated the fact that she was a princess. (They suggested that she be a serving girl or a toaster or something. A frikken’ toaster! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really been able to relate to inanimate objects, no matter how likable they are.) *Warning: Nerdiness approaching* At the time that the movie is set, the only women who had any leisure time were those of noble birth. She would have to be a princess in order to have enough spare time to have an adventure.
  • Merida wears dresses.
    • Once again, time-appropriate clothing. A serving girl would have had to wear a dress as well. Not sure about the toaster, though.
  • Her hair is too unrealistic.
    • Ummm… so is Lady Gaga’s but she is still seen as a strong woman. Plus… animated. Duh.
  • She does “boy” things and they are celebrated.
    • Their concept of boy things is shooting a bow and riding a horse. This seems anti-feminist if you ask me. I know plenty of women who are masters at archery and are expert equestrians. Why are these boy activities?
  • She has a simple problem and all she does is have to fix it.
    • If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the conflict in it is anything but simple. Character development occurs in both major female characters. I guess it isn’t conflict enough unless you have to beat down “the man.”
  • There are men in the movie.
    • Okay, maybe this comment wasn’t said outright, but still. I get so tired of some feminists being anti-men. Men are essential to life. Literally and figuratively. I would not be the strong woman I am today without the influence of some of the men in my life. Yes, there are some men who are jerk-faces. Guess what? Some women are jerk-faces as well. Get over the man-hate, please. It ruins my love everyone vibe.

Part of my frustration is that this is a movie in which a young girl stands up for herself and solves her problems with a little help. Isn’t this how we want our daughters to behave? Why in the world should this movie aimed at children be expected to change the world for women everywhere? Let them be children for a while. I was allowed to do so and I turned out okay.

I have never reblogged before, but this made me laugh. Check it out!

I hope I am doing this right. 🙂

Cheesecake Summer

OK… I hereby solemnly swear to try to shut up about Loki sometime soon.

TRY I said… that’s the key word.

So, lately I’ve been cracking up at the god of mischief in this video from MTV’s After Hours –

loki’d from gorgeous anon on Vimeo.

After yelling “LOKI’D” in my husband’s face at top volume for about a day, it struck me, “Why not just play some pranks yourself, Laura?” And then myself replied, “That is the best idea you’ve had all day!”

Well, wouldn’t you know my delight when my husband handed me his phone and asked me to plug it in for him. MWAHAHA, I had an idea.

My first round of Loki’d, I decided to set a calendar alarm on his phone, to go off at 5 a.m. (The hour isn’t bad, we are usually still up at 5 a.m.) I slyly handed him his…

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Thoughts about Reaching my XXth Birthday

Today is my 39th birthday. I know. Women aren’t supposed to tell anyone their age. I don’t really subscribe to that thought. I have worked hard to make it through my 39 years and I am proud of that. Plus, I’ve been saying I was 39 all year and thought I was going to be 40 today until I did the math.

I’ve heard the memory goes as you age, but I didn’t think it would go this quickly!

I now have a second year of being 39! Inorite? I get one more year before the dreaded 40, an age where I’ve heard that everything starts falling off (but not the things that you want to fall off– like the middle-age spread). I might have a 3rd year of 39 just to be safe.

Not enough candles, but you get the idea!

In the past week leading up to this glorious day, I’ve done some thinking. I don’t know about you guys, but this is the time when I look back at my year and see how I’ve done. Forget New Year’s Day– that is for everyone else. I’ve got to be different! Oh, side note: July 2nd is halfway through the year. I didn’t know that. My friend told me. I didn’t research it so if I’m wrong, let me know. I’ll probably forget though. Because I forgot I was 38, remember?

This year’s taking stock of my life has been very different from all of the others. Usually I get very depressed and think of all of the things that have gone wrong. I focused on how worthless and imperfect I was. Death loomed ever closer in my mind and I would never be able to make something of myself. I usually spent a whole week alternately crying and getting angry. I hated my birthday and never wanted to celebrate it. Well, this year I did none of that. Okay, that wasn’t completely true. I did cry a little last night, but I think it was more because I was worn out and it was late and I forgot to eat dinner. Probably. Still, it was only about ten minutes long, if that, and I fell asleep right after.

Instead of looking at my life negatively, I’ve chosen to look at it differently. Even thought there were difficult times, I made it through them. Sometimes I learned something about myself. Sometimes I was just happy to get out of it with only a few scratches on my psyche. Amazingly, the scratches were few. I’ve become a much stronger woman because of it. The difference is that I’ve actually been in a state of mind where I could actually see the strength. Part of it I attribute to finally finding the correct melange of medicine. The majority of it, though, is all me. Yes, my meds have balanced my brain chemistry, but I have chosen to do the work to make myself stronger.

Happy birthday to me.

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All photos that are not mine are under a CC license. For more information about this wonderful resource, go to www.creativecommons.org

Cake Photo: Neil T via flickr