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Monday, September 3, 2012

I Know What's in Your Best Interest- or do I?

I have been uncharacteristically politically toned down on Facebook waiting for the right time to inform others why a vote for Romney is a vote against their own interests. I wanted to delay my being hidden closer to poll time in case I could make a difference. Wow visions of grandeur even in my Facebook practice! I seriously need a reality check.

So why blog now? well four words in my own rhetoric "against their own interests" and the word "own" more specifically.  This shift in thinking that could no longer be silenced - started when I noticed one of my gay friends checked he like Romney. I was confused, taken back and disappointed.  The very thing conservatives accuse liberals of I was now immersed in- liberal elitist preaching. "Doesn't he know voting for Romney is a vote against himself? is there underlying self-hatred? what the hell?" Because clearly, I knew better what his "own interest" is or should be.   I am only grateful I did not engage with this friend who I hold very dear-  and kept my mouth in check while my mind grappled with my confusion.

Several days later I felt I came to somewhat of an epiphany- still slightly tainted with judgement but there was progress. I realized- that although Romney- practices a religion that is clearly anti-gay and does not support marriage equality (for 49 of the 50 states); this was not my friend's  top priority. He and is partner are happy, they have a life quite frankly I often envy. They are successful, work hard, play hard and hell they have a better relationship than most married couples. They don't need a piece of paper to prove their commitment and love. I have yet to ask- why he would vote Romney- as honestly I am embarrassed I  would presume all gay men and women would vote  for Obama and he does not need to explain his vote to me.

So this brings me back to "against their own interests"- in the past women voted for misogynist  politicians, why upset the home- my life is good. During the civil rights, some black Americans remained silent while others fought for equality. White poor voted  were  quick to protect the white rich rather than voting for racial equality. People who have been oppressed rarely have the leisure to risk it all and buck the system- so they had to protect their immediate interests. Could you really chance losing your job or ability to rent your home- if you stood up for principle? Do you protect your own child being fed even if it means your grandchild might suffer?  Often in my own life- I have run from conflict on small matters fearful of the consequences. I understand why they made these choices.

 However, I along with many of my friends sit in a relatively privileged position therefore it's easier for us to be idealistic while it is a luxury not all have. Yet sadly, some choose to look at only the issues that directly effect them.   I don't have a uterus- so no fear of needing an abortion if raped- but I have a daughter. I am a teacher so I don't qualify for social security- yet most of my family does.  I have good insurance- but many of my loved ones don't. My own interests for the most part are safe- yet I choose to think about others...

Have I pissed you off yet with my pompous selfless voter judgement? 

If not you should be- because I have been preaching- what I have been fed. I am not alone- we all have been focusing on the wrong issues.

Social Security, Health Care, Women's rights, and Gay Rights  are very important but are they truly at stake? I mean outside of the extreme right- most republicans know social security can't be privatized- trusting spend happy people with their retirement will just leave a bunch of broke old people needing government support.  Some people will never buy insurance and they are putting the burden on local hospitals and tax payers so unless we do as Ron Paul suggest, "let them die"- Republicans know Obama care fathered by Romney really can't be overturned.   They  also know they can't really stop abortion and they have to accept gay people are  NOT turning straight or going away. .. both sides of the aisle agree on more of this more than we realize.

We are ignoring as a country key issues that need to be addressed. We think we are focusing on the real  issues  destroying our country but the smoke and mirrors have been successful in OZ- and like Dorthy- I want to go home now.   So if you will forgive my self-righteous attitude will you help us as a country get there?

I have had some conversations with democrats or other  politically aligned progressives who will criticize Obama in private because quite frankly we fear swaying voters towards Romney. There it is fear!  Are democrats-  essentially "against their own interests" remaining silent and fearful. Are we worried that any constructive criticism or demand that the real issues be addressed  will potentially  hand conservatives the vote?

Why aren't we asking- why more troops are deployed under Obama than Bush?  why The Patriot Act was renewed? Why is the use of these drones is ok? why is torture not being punished and I thought Guantanamo was being closed?  If you have not read, John Cusack's interview with Law Professor Jonathan Turley, you maybe surprised at many other questions we should be asking  and demand they are addressed.

 How can we have any of the other rights we have been battling out- if we compromise our own integrity at home and abroad. There is not one President who is above the law- nor is there one country who is. I fear all of us Republicans and Democrats have been voting "against our own interest" with a shortsighted vision.  So who was I to point a finger at my friend, or anyone for that matter?!?

Obama has my vote still- I am not happy with all he has done but approve of a lot he has- yet after the election- it's not time to sit back - we have to keep speaking out, keep demanding change and find people locally who will listen and put them in office wealth doesn't trickle down so neither will change. 
John Cusack's Interview with Jonathan Turley

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fertile Myrtle Wears a Girdle

I wrote this piece a few years ago- just one humorous example of a day in the life of being,  Angela...

Fertile Myrtle Wears a Girdle

Who ever would have dreamed that the string bean that stood 58 tall and weighed 105 pounds would eventually need a binding torturous apparatus commonly known as the jiggly fat binder, or girdle? The advertisements rave about this contraptions ability to instantly shed ten pounds off of your physique. Sheds is not the appropriate word—force the fat into your core so that it squashes into the gaps of your intestines is the appropriate descriptionbut who would buy it if they used that as the selling point?

Anyway, three kids by the age of twenty-two did not diminish my figure, nor did a devastating divorce and depression. Honestly, I dont know what the hell happened, but I do know that this twig turned into a log slowly over time and I am resisting going to a carver to get it back to a slender but curvier me.
After a couple of weeks of dieting and a new gym membership, I was noticing my clothes fitting a little better. I was not satisfied with the loose-fitting clothes, NO, the pants in the back of the closet those called my name. You know the ones: the skinny pants or jeans, the fantasy size. Yeah, those. All women at one point in life have those magical pants in their closets. Maybe, just maybe, they will fit...I will try, up past my thighs good so far, over my expanding ass andWait, theyre on. I can zip them but they still look too tight. Then comes to mind the instant skinny, fat-binding contraption. I battle the indecisionIs it worth the pain to wear them? H-m-m-m, they are nice pants, and I look so good in them. Yeah, the girdle will allow me to wear the magical pants, and I can be glamorously beautiful for the day.

Oh, I look good! The magical pants, these classy red boots and a stylish red top...Oh, the men are turning their heads and the women are even complimenting my look. I am walking tall and my head is held so high the oxygen is thin. The strut of my walk says it all. But the girdle is so worth the tightening pain, and besides, the pain is easing due to my circulation being cut off around my hips.

One thing about being a teacher is that you have little to no time to use the restroom, and when you do get the chance you usually run for it. Now, imagine my ever-expanding bladder being pushed in by the girdle, a pair of hose and, for good measure, a sexy pair of panties. (I had to wear sexy panties to not feel like a grandma in the girdle; the hose, wellit is winter.) So Im speeding down the hall in a fast strut, nodding, Yes, thank you and Oh, I like these pants too, thanks, all the while trying to absorb the compliments but knowing I have to get into the restroomfast.

The teachers lounge is in sight, and thank goodness there is a stall available in the bathroom. Pull down the magical pants, pull down the girdle and the hose and Ah! Ah! Ah! between the shocking waves of pinching pain and great release of the bladder, I am now so happy to be peeing. Ah, but still the magical pants are worth peeling back several layers of clothing. Wait...the pants, the girdle, and then the Oh my gosh the hose but not the panties! How did I forget to remove the panties? I peed through the panties! What the hell? What am I going to do? I have one more class to teach! I cant keep on urine-soaked panties!

This stall is tiny, my elbows hold up each wall and my face is pressed into the stall door. How can I get my boots, the hose, the girdle and the pants off to remove my sexy, red, urine-soaked satin diaper? How? I have two minutes (at the most) before my students return to the room. I can never get those things off and then squeeze back in before the bellthe ominous bell.

Then it hits me. Problem solvedor more like a manic solution rages through my brain.

I start to yank and tear at the pantiesdamn it, they are expensive, but these babies have to come off. I try to tear at them, stretching them across my legs. No luck; they are only stretched out. H-m-m-m. If I step on them then pull, it may tear them apart. So I am sitting on the pot, girdle, hose and pants around my ankles. I pull the panties down, step on them and rise up, pulling on the red elastic band.

Stretch, grunt, stretchmore pullingpullingand ah, the right side tears. Now the other leg. Once again, under my boot stretching my underpants, I try to make sure no urine rubs on my magical pants, which no longer seem all that magical. Im stretching sideways in a cramped stall when the damn waistband finally gives way completely.

The panties are torn in half and now I can finally get out of there. Then a small quandary arises: Do I hide the panties and throw them away at home or leave them in the stall trash? 

I leave them in the stall trash.

I always wondered what someone thought when seeing a shredded pair of red sexy panties in the trash of the teachers lounge bathroom.
Needless to say, the not so magical pants are in the back of the closet. I wont wear them again until I can do so without the girdle. Its just another example of getting older and trying like hell to look like the twentysomething who used to turn heads.

(c) Angela Mills 2009

Monday, February 28, 2011

I see two thiefs when most see just one.

Insurance companies have found a way to convince Americans that good health care is only possible if they are making huge amounts of  money. They have hood-winked many Americans into thinking that a single payer program will mean sub-par care for their loved ones. We need a single payer system or at least an insurance system that is non-profit. This would hopefully end people sacrificing one necessity for another. Do I pay rent? or buy my heart pills? People are robbing Peter to pay Paul and Peter is nothing but skin and bones.

However, the most tragic horrific reality in this country is when children or adults have to suffer due to lack of care in a country that is medically advanced.  The link below is an article on the Huffington Post, which talks about a money jar being stolen, which was to  raise funds for a baby needing chemotherapy. So what does that say about our country when we are so morally bankrupt that we will 1) protect corporate America and not demand health coverage for all and 2) we have people so selfish they will steal the money jar.

It is easy for us to sit back and point fingers at the jar thief, but why aren't we pissed about a system that requires people to need a money jar in the first place.

6 out of 5 fist shakes of frustration-
I have to borrow a fist shake from the future because 5 is not adequate.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Faded Jeans

Today has been filled with sorting, letting go of unnecessary items and organizing. This poem in no way reflects my current relationship as I wrote this some 12 years ago. Yet I thought it was fitting for today- things I have no use for others might- things I cling to others merely see junk.

Faded Jeans

I am your faded jeans,
Torn and trendy.

When life has you down,
You run to put me on,
To heal your wound,
Then you are gone.

You wear new jeans today,
No need for the loyal.
Soon you’ll have your garage sale,
--but just remember….
One man’s trash is another man’s
(c) Angela Sharp

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dr. Oz- Help me!

I have recently decided to give up sweets and sugar to begin my journey on a healthier lifestyle. Well I am not completely giving up sweets but am fasting for 21 days to break their hold on me. This journey has been pretty bumpy and we are only on day 3!

Day one: 
I am holding strong, no desire to order dessert at my favorite local diner. Wow I am doing good, skipping dessert and it was painless. 
Five miles from the diner, I am restraining myself from running into Albertsons- I am craving a whole tub of cream cheese frosting. I can hide it in the closet so Barry won't know I fell of the sugar-wagon.
After dinner TV time- I won the frosting battle- but why must Barry leave those chocolate covered cashews on the coffee table? I don't like cashews but I feel like sucking the chocolate off.  I am going to bed this is too much stress.

Day two:
I have gone all day- craving free and I have been to the grocery store and walked through the Easter candy aisle I am going to take a bath then off to bed.
Running out of bathroom hair still dripping but fully clothed and grabbing keys- I convince myself I need a few things from CVS.  I will just look at the candy- five minutes of pacing the candy section later,  I walk shamefully to the counter with sweet-tart jelly beans- the Easter edition. I cram two handfuls in my mouth- day one can start over but today- I need a sugar fix. Once home I am suffering from a sugar comotose- but  I am of a sound enough mind to throw out the rest of the bag of jelly beans. I put them in a sack, tie it shut and in the trashcan they go.

Day three:
I have heard little cries coming from the kitchen, it is those damned jelly beans- they don't want to be thrown away- their life long ambition is to be eaten. They cry louder and I actually consider getting them out of the trash. I mean they are wrapped in a bag so- technically they are clean. These cries have haunted me all day. I am very proud to admit- I have not pulled them out of the trash but can't find the strength to take the trash out. Oh I want those jelly beans and maybe a Butterfinger or better yet creme brulee! why am I giving up sugar again?

Luckily, a tweet by Dr. Oz came up and he posted a Sugar Detox Challenge- detox is right and it is a good reminder of how much we dig our own graves with spoons. I am continuing on this journey and hope that you too will join me. I attached the link to the sugar challenge- it has some good tips and very helpful information.

loss of sugar is 4.5 out of 5 fist shakes  - I still ain't happy about it but eventually will be!

Sugar Detox Challenge by Dr. Oz

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Honor of Black History Month- posting previously written piece

Swimming in Equality

 I have many times through the years talked of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a Dream" speech to my many students. I have a poster of Dr. King with the speech written on it in my classroom. As an educator, I have hoped , prayed for and spoke out for equality within the schools. I have been discouraged and outraged at how the educated seem to have less of an education and  only mere schooling. I feared that we would never be  equal communing together and learning from one another. Yet today in one of the most unexpected places, I found this equality, this communal togetherness in brotherly respect. My heart sang within "free at last free at last", as children of colors , religion and economic status played together in the local public pool.
It is hard to believe that in the segregated past, whites would have rather drained and cemented a pool over than share it with their black brothers and sisters. I guess that is just it, though they spoke of Christian love, they did not see anyone not of the white race as a brother or sister in Christ. 

I still can't fathom, how they justified their actions in nightly prayer. Did they actually pray, "Father, help us keep anyone of color out of  our neighborhoods, our schools and public swimming pools" ? I don't think or I hope they were not that ignorant in their prayers to think God, would protect their lily white racism with continued segregation. Of course these are the people who, picture Jesus pale and blue eyed... I wonder how many children in Israel  are pale white? These  "Christians", would have never allowed little Jesus, a Jew to swim in their pools. Their Jesus, is somehow not Jewish or  is an "ok Jew". God forgive them for they know not what they do.
This takes me back to the pool. Today I decided to go for a swim in the public pool here in Boston. Boston, who once fought integration and the busing of students. The Boston that was televised on National TV as mothers yelled the hateful "N-word and chucked rocks at the yellow buses carrying students who only wished to be educated equally. This Boston, is not  changed to be an Utopian city of equality...but it has become a more tolerant accepting city and one that I am now proud to call home.
As I walked up to the pool, I was amazed at all the various races swimming , sunning and playing together. There was a mixture  not only of races but levels of economic status as well. There were the students in the corner reading books from Harry Potter, to Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children. There were the group of bikini-ed girls tanning and sipping diet coke, the families , the teenage belly floppers judging each others splash and the homeless all sharing the same water...the same pool; and as John the Baptist , baptized Christ, we were baptized in equality.  I felt God's words " these are my  children for whom I am well pleased",  showering a blessing over each of us.
 Those of us who have more curves than we would like were mixed in with the barbie dolls, those who spoke English only were mixed in with many foreign tongues, and the pristine preppies educated in the local private college sat and talked with the local kids grateful there was no charge for swimming. We mixed together , splashing , swimming and basking in the glory those in previous years fought to gain. 
In the past many people of color were brave enough to swim in a pool, only to be drug out, beaten and jailed, they fought for the right to be treated with equality and cool off in the pool filled with water given by God himself. Their battle in the past, has been my reward of today. I am not a woman of color, but a fair skinned English speaking blond, and I have had the great opportunity to spend the afternoon with my brethren. We seemed to be given an extra gift of beautiful clear water.... the very things the bigots of the past feared would be dirtied by the mixing of races.
I hope that this extension of togetherness and playful communion, would last past summer  and beyond the gates of the public pool and find it's way into our schools, churches, government and hearts of all citizens. I hope that Dr. King looking down from above can see his words fulfilled, 
"And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Equality- togetherness 5 out of 5 fist shakes in celebration!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We are testing not educating and there is a difference.

After ranting yesterday about Palin and her remarks to Wisconsin protesters and several discussions with friends, family and foe about the budget cuts made to Pell Grants; I think I may have a small solution to cut frivolous spending within our schools. 

Let's do away with state mandated testing or at least reduce the number of times a child is required to take the test. Why is so much money  spent on testing rather than being spent on educating?  These tests may have their place but testing children each year from 3rd to 10th grade is a bit much. Teachers waste weeks prepping for these test and the real curriculum is set aside. The test have created an invisible ceiling within our schools. A rich critical thinking student centered lesson is shoved to the back so little Johnny and Becky can learn to bubble in, eliminate possible answers and write an essay describing how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a skill I have  not used often as an adult.

I have seen many students stress to the point of throwing up, skipping school the day of the test and crying to please not have to take it. Now this stress has no boundaries in who it plagues,  from students who are in honors courses but struggle with exams to students with learning disabilities. State mandated exams are rarely a true measure of ability. I remember one year being completely appauld that our principal had every grade take a practice state test each 6 weeks from 1st to 8th grade. We had large bullitin board charts up in the hall with a student's name and if they passed their cell of the chart was colored in blue and if they failed colored red. Can you imagine the horror that these kids felt having that pressure and possible humiliation splattered down the halls all year.

As a teacher, I have tried many things to motivate my students to try and not give up while testing. I challenged classes with pool parties for a reward to the class with the highest percentage of passing. We had a Pep Rally the day before and made breakfast tacos, brought in lunch and snacks on test day.
My stomach would be in knots hopping that some of my very capable students would not stress to the point of just randomly bubbling in answers and finishing the test in ten minutes flat.

We are trained days before on protocal on where the test should be stored during the day, we are given scripted instructions and warned that any form of helping would result in your certificate being revoked and in some cases criminal prosecution.  I have heard of a teacher so stressed, that she went through each and every booklet and erased answers replacing them with the correct ones- she was instantly fired and lost her license. She was clearly wrong but I think the stress of administration telling her that her scores better come up or look for another job was more than she could handle.  Sadly, she was actually a good teacher who buckled under pressure.

A couple of years ago while working in Cambridge- we were starting our week of testing hell and the usual decree of "no one better call in sick" was drilled into our brains.  See you have to have credentialed teachers proctor the test and since a lot of students get accommodations for smaller testing groups or even individual testing we are always short teachers. So it is not a time to take a day off or I certainly would. I was heading for work the next morning and worried I would miss the train  and started down my stairs too quick. I tumbled from the top clear to the bottom wailing out in pain.

To make a long story short once I was in the ambulance and a bit sedated from pain medication- I repeatedly told the paramedics to remind my husband to call the school. The paramedics replied, "Mam they will understand  why you are not at school you broke your wrist." To which I responded with, "no you don't understand today is MCAS and we can't miss for any reason. I could lose my job" I became the joke of the ER because every five or so minutes I would remind my husband, the nurses anyone who would listen along with the doctors (trying to set my arm)  to call the dean and let them know I would not be in for The TEST! I heard later my supervisor joked that she was going to put me in a wheelchair and drag me to school- broke arm, IV and all. The next two testing sessions, she started her speech by reminding me to not take the stairs.  I told her the titanium plate and bolts reminded me not to run down the steps so she needn't not worry. She understood my not being there but was still ticked I wasn't.

So let's get back to teaching, save money spent on these tests and take the stress out that hinders a lot of students from truly applying what is taught and not just mastering multiple choices questions.

Testing waste is a 5 out of 5 fist shakes!