Friday, October 16, 2015

Dear Lia,

Remember, before I knew you in real life and I only knew you on Yelp and Twitter, and I thought you were this super epic vegan activist who was so incredibly cool and way out of my friend league? Well, I was partially right. You ARE a super epic vegan activist who is so incredibly cool, but you are also a totally goofy weirdo just like me, and my new year's resolution 10 months ago to spend more time with you was clearly one of the best life decisions I've ever made.

You do so much for animals and so much for people, raising so much money and so much awareness, doing everything with so much kindness and love. Other activists could take a lesson from you, but that's a post for another day. Yes, you're clearly one of my greatest vegan heroes, but right now, instead of talking about what you do for the vegan community, I want to talk about what you're doing for me today.

Tom Robbins' novels, as cliche as it sounds, changed my life. Since I first picked up Another Roadside Attraction almost 25 years ago, I've read all of his books more than once, usually in order of publication date, but the oldest five, many, many more times, and I can't even count how many times I've read Still Life with Woodpecker. Tom Robbins has opened my eyes to the politics and philosophy that have helped make me the strong independent badass intersectional feminist that I am today. And his gifts for wordplay and utter nonsense among such deep themes have helped keep me forever light-hearted and silly.

Meeting Tom Robbins was something that I had accepted would never happen for me in this life. He rarely makes public appearances, he lives so far away in Seattle, it was not something that I ever even considered was possible. When I found out he would be doing a reading from his memoir, a Q&A session, and a book signing in Virginia, I immediately signed up. I hate driving, so I had no idea how I was going to get there. I would have even rented a car and driven myself if I'd had to. That's how important this is to me. This is bucket-list level stuff here. And now Lia, you're part of it. Not only are you driving, because you know how I feel about getting behind the wheel, but you're going to be right there with me through the whole thing. I really want you to know how much this means to me.

I know that everyone else who will be in that room tonight thinks they're his biggest fan as much as I think I'm his biggest fan, that his books have changed their lives as much as they have changed mine. I know that wherever we sit in that auditorium, I'll be able to hear and see him. I know that however long I have to wait in line for the book signing, I'm going to meet him. These are the things I have to tell myself so that I don't completely freak out with excitement. Lia, I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am that you're the one who will be sharing this with me.

You're on your way to my apartment right now to pick me up and I love that we're starting our road trip at Grindcore House, though obviously I also have a huge bag of snacks for us for the road. And just so you know, I will probably never stop thanking you for this, and I'll start thanking you with a dinner at Vedge--we need to make those reservations. You are the best person I know, and I love you. My hero taking me to meet my hero. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Love,
LJ

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dear Parents of Elementary through High School Age Children:

You are not helping your kids by being helicopter parents, by believing your kids over their teachers, by blaming teachers for your own kids' failings. You are not helping your kids by not keeping score, by giving everyone trophies, or by letting them all be winners! In fact, you're creating a generation of whiny, enabled, entitled brats, and I'm sick of it!

It is absolutely true that many of the young people I come in contact with are better informed than I ever was at their age, and therefore already wonderful little progressive activists. I'm thankful for them, they give me hope for the future. (I often see "Social Justice Warrior" thrown around as a pejorative, but I'm taking that term back--these SJWs are making a huge difference in their communities and the world and I love them for it!)

But as an educator for the past 18 years, I don't think I'm even being hyperbolic when I say that I feel as if I'm witnessing the decline of civilization as we know it. Hold your kids accountable for their actions, set boundaries and stick to them, follow through with your consequences! PLEASE! And when your precious little angels' teachers hold your kids accountable, set boundaries and stick to them, and follow through with our consequences, don't doubt us, don't talk down to us, don't challenge us, because I promise you, we know what we're doing. We know pedagogy and we know kids, and to be honest, in many cases, we probably know better than you.

Wake up, parents! You are not doing your kids a favor by being their friend. If you want your children to grow up to become amazing, well-adjusted, successful adults who will make the world a better place, try actually parenting them. If you're not helping create good citizens and community members, then we are. Somebody has to.

Sincerely,
A Very Concerned Teacher

Friday, October 2, 2015

I'm giggling at the conversation going on in my head right now.

It's First Friday...Old City, crowds, not something I usually do, though I am a liker of art. But tonight is special. There's a Crust Vegan Bakery Tasting at Conversion tonight and I don't want to miss it. Meagan and Shannon are awesome, I love supporting a vegan business, and I'm sure I'll see lots of people I know. Also, baked goods! I love baked goods! Especially baked goods from Crust!

But it's in the 50s and it's cloudy and windy and rainy. And I feel like it's my symbolic welcome to fall and impending winter. And it terrifies me.

(Remember last week when I told winter to bring it on because I feel ready and I love my clothes? Yeah, I'm pretty sure I was mostly lying.)

And now, as I sit here in my warm fuzzy pink robe, I'm telling myself that if I don't go, I'm giving into my weather related fears way too soon. It's October 2nd and it's in the 50s. It's October 2nd and it's in the 50s. That's nothing, I've handled way worse than this. If I stay home, it's like I'm setting myself up for failure; if I go, it foreshadows my ability to survive the next six months of my life. I'm going. I have to face my fears. Stop laughing! I'm totally serious! I'll fight you, Winter!

Also I'm wearing my new Alice in Wonderland leggings and my new Mother Fucker glitter socks (even though the font sucks) and my new vegan leather jacket and my new pink vintage hat with the bling and my Doc Martens for the first time in months and I'm going to feel fabulous despite the weather.

This is my 4th winter back. I got this.

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Later:
I am so glad I went! First of all, my dinner tonight was nothing but baked goods: cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and s'mores. Yes, my dinner was entirely made up of chocolate. Because I'm a grownup and I do what I want. Crust consistently knocks my socks off, I seriously cannot recommend them enough. Also, I got to spend just a few minutes with one of my besties checking out a really cool store, and it was great for both of us to get out of our houses.

And even though it was cold and rainy, even though there were gusts of wind so strong they blew my umbrella inside-out, I had a really delightful walk. Not only did I go all the way to Old City, but then I had the idea that I wanted to go to Rittenhouse for dinner, so I ended up walking a total of five miles tonight!

My fear of the cold is real. I left Pennsylvania after I finished grad school in 1998 because of my hatred of winter, and I lived in much warmer climates for 14 years. So when I share how proud I am of myself for getting out in it, even though the season is only just beginning, know that it's a really big deal for me.

Once again, this is my 4th winter back. I got this.