Friday, July 20, 2012

If you're on welfare, you shouldn't be able to.

In the laundromat I overheard a guy saying, "If you're on welfare, it should be illegal to own Jordans." I tried to vocally express my disapproval of this statement, but he didn't seem to hear me. He continued, "That kid's got nicer sneakers than I do!" 

So I said, "Do you *know* he's on welfare?" to which he replied with a slight laugh, "Yeah, I do." and then sounding mildly annoyed: "I don't make assumptions like that." #makingfriends

I've never heard anyone say "if you're on welfare, it should be illegal to..." and finish that sentence in a way that wasn't RIDDLED with assumptions.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ladies Survey

My friend Amanda tagged me in this beautiful video. A few years ago I made a tag response to end all tag responses (and by that I meant I was no longer going to accept being tagged anymore) but in a tweet Amanda expressed that she was interested in my responses, so I'm going to talk about the questions here. I'm not sure I'll have something to say for all of them, but here goes:

1. Who are your favourite female YouTubers?
I like this because I was actually able to become friends with a lot of them. LizzieRadio, ShesSoMickey, elffia, gemllama, genericfirstname, georgieBOOM, HatticusRex, Nerdfighteratalie, supersharayah, TheHill88, losergoescrazy.
2. Who are your favourite female athletes?
I don't really follow sports at all. Like, not at all. I guess my friend Jackie who defeated Hodgkin's Leukemia and runs marathons would be it.
3. What is your favourite book written by a female with a female protagonist?
This is hard for me because I don't read a lot of fiction, and a lot of what I have read is the white male selection they make you read in school. 

My friend posted this picture on facebook with the caption: "Read. Repeat 6 times and claim your english literature credit." I thought that was relevant.

That said, I do read a lot of comics written by women, a lot of autobio stuff. I think my favorite is probably Liz Prince.
4. What is your favourite film written by a female with a female protagonist?
It probably doesn't count, but Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides. Again, hard to find something that fits.
5. Who is your favourite female fictional character?
6. What is the biggest problem facing female creators today (and any solutions)? 
I don't know that I feel confident saying it's the "biggest" problem, but as I'm reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, I can't help but think of the way a woman's appearance overshadows her content in a way that doesn't hold true for male content creators.
7. Do you think youtube and online video in general are better or worse suited than television for tackling the problems and prejudices women face in the workplace? 
In some ways it's better, and in some ways it's worse. As Amanda said, online video allows women to present themselves the way they please, as both the star and the creator of the content without a panel of assholes to answer to. BUT content online puts the creator in direct contact with the viewers which opens up new channels for misogynistic harassment.
8. What do you pledge to do to make the internet a better environment for all creators?
I pledge to call out misogyny when I see it.
9. Tell us a story/secret whatever featuring women!
In her video, Amanda talks about how women are brought up to be in competition with one another, and I have to say that I haven't felt this as strongly as I have with Jenna Marbles. I watched some of her videos and immediately hated her because she is the impossible combination of desirable to dudes, beautiful AND funny. I expected that I wouldn't be alone in this feeling of hatred toward her, but then all of my female friends who would normally understand where I was coming from expressed that they really like her. It drove me nuts.

I hate that I have to compete with other women, but I've never found myself in a secure position to where the competition wasn't horribly real. When I was in undergrad I dated this guy who I got along with better than I ever expected possible. He was sweet to me in genuine ways that indicated to me that he really understood me. But then a strong willed friend decided she hated me, but still liked my boyfriend and my roommates. I was allowed to hang out with everyone still, but after getting home from the studio or work, staying up late to spend time with my boyfriend and my friends was an effort rewarded by a horrible tension created by the strong willed friend. Soon my boyfriend broke up with me, stated the reasons we'd always said would lead to our demise, and started sleeping with and dating my roommate (literally the next day). They dated for two years, one of which she was still my roommate for.

As a part of my healing process from that situation, I moved to the next town over to get away from everything. As I was doing so, my best friend who-I-was-in-love-with from high school told me he also  was moving to that next town for very different reasons. I was convinced that it was "God's Plan" for us to finally end up together this way. We went to the same church and the pool of available bachelors was frighteningly small. I felt way more comfortable being friends with married ladies. One night at a quilting group, I decided that I should stop seeing other single ladies as competition and befriended the only other single lady there. Around the same time, my best friend who-I-was-in-love-with befriended her too. I'd make extra effort to hang out with everyone, but it soon became really awkward for me and I learned that they were dating. I told my best friend I wouldn't be able to handle hanging out with him anymore, and soon enough they were married. I spoke to him a few times since, very briefly, but I declined the invitation to his wedding.

I had been hoping that befriending her would prove my feelings wrong, but instead it just confirmed them.  I hate it.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

(any kindergarten is) Too much kindergarten.

Kindergarten again today.

If there is anything I hate more than tying shoes, it is being poked or tapped repeatedly. I made a quasi-teasing announcement in the beginning of the day asking kids to not ... touch me essentially, but some of them just can't break the habit of standing beside you or behind you and tap tap taping or poke poke poking your side and saying "excuuuussse meeeee, excusssseeee meeeee" until you turn around to learn about how Jayden stole Lisa's pencil. Or something.

These kindergartners were practicing songs for their graduating-from-kindergarten ceremony. There was a song about the flag. For some reason any school practice that encourages blind patriotrism doesn't sit  well with me. Luckily, there was only one such song. The others were a little more granola, including a song about bumblebees buzzing and having names and a song that provided an opportunity for 25 five and six year olds to flap their elbows simultaneously and shout "A BIG FAT HEN!" in unison. It was more satisfying to see than it sounds.

At one point I was sitting in the center part of a horseshoe table overseeing a group of students using scissors to cut out little graduation caps that they had colored in. I chatted casually with them as they worked. One girl stopped and asked me, "Why you talk like that?" and when I asked her what she meant, she gestured to her mouth with the business end of her scissors and clarified, "like something's in your throat."

I never realized I talked so funny until kids everywhere felt the need to point it out. But, on second thought, I think I emphasize my monotone with them, and I think they needlessly pick apart everyone about everything. There's probably some euphemistic explanation for this having to do with developmental psychology. I just find it annoying.

Another little girl started bragging about being homeschooled next year. She seemed really excited for the possibility to go to museums if she and her brother "did everything good." I wonder if it's a purely personal choice or if they've had problems with the school.

As I was enjoying the last 5 minutes of my (legally mandated half hour) lunch break, two students walked into the room. They explained to me that they had finished their lunch early and that the principal had sent them back.

I know it seems like a really small thing, but I find kindergarten especially taxing and I need every minute of solitude I can get to recoup. And, legally, doesn't that count as giving me work during my break? I told the students that if they were going to be in the room they had to just sit quietly. One immediately started talking to me and trying to tell me about whatever she was excited about. I reiterated my direction, and she sat down.

I know I'm horrible.

Monday, June 11, 2012

YOU'RE not the boss of the SCHOO-OOL.

Today I subbed in Kindergarten.

I hate kindergarten.

These children are almost first graders, but they were the worst behaved group ever.

One little girl, as I tried to gain control of the class by asking individual students and small groups of students to quit certain behaviors took it upon herself to stand up against my authority. When I told the students to stop talking or put books away, she would counter that they didn't need to put books away, that they were allowed to talk. When she began to comply with my directives, she began yelling at me to "leave her friends alone" and made sure I knew that I'm "not the boss of the school." In her most amateur (and perhaps adorably misguided) move yet, she started taunting me, trying to make me jealous because THEY get to go on the PLAYGROUND later and IIIIIII dooooonnnn't.

At different points where she attempted to bully me or fight with me, I engaged her in conversation about the thing she was saying. Asked her questions and acted genuinely excited for her.

I highly recommend this tactic. It worked like a charm, diffusing the situation as well as giving me a release of my frustrations in an imperceptible display of mockery.

Later a student complained to me: "He called me a liar!"

From behind her another student called out, "I did not!"

I tried to explain to them the irony of this exchange, but I think it might have been just over their heads.

Somehow, I managed to only tie one pair of shoes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


"You're too beautiful for that buuulllllllshit," he says to me.

The 'bullshit' being his misguided interpretation of a facet of my most sacred emotional bond.

This 'bullshit,' determined after having known me for less than a day. After accusing me of lying about every personal detail I shared.  After questioning me about banal objects and accusing me of hiding some sentimental truth.

The only bullshit here, sir,  is telling me my business like you know me.

... and if you really understood me, you'd realize it's bullshit to determine what I deserve by my physical appearance.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One Day I'll Be a Respected Educator

I thought that once I lost some weight I'd stop getting comments about how young I look. I was convinced it was the moon face that gave me a student-like appearance, but I've lost 25 lbs and I'm certainly not free from the offhanded comments that grit on me so.

Today I started a long term sub position in my favorite elementary school. It's only one day a week, because someone else is working the rest of the days and can't do Thursdays I guess. I wouldn't complain (as it gives me something to put on my resume) except that I've lost tooo many leave positions on account of not being able to be somewhere for 5 days because of grad school. Of all the days for the rest of the school year, I only have uncancelable duties on one! I could have done this entire leave position. Oh well. 

I decided to start each class super positive. Instead of telling the students what I wanted them to do, how they should behave, what I don't allow, I just told them how much I like working at that school and how respectful and quiet and polite all the students are and how much I was looking forward to working with them and having them follow directions and seeing what sort of awesome artwork they'd come up with. (Perhaps you've heard of the experiment in which two groups of students are given candies and one is instructed on how they need to be more cleanly while the other is praised for being cleanly. The latter group ends up throwing their wrappers neatly in the trash can while the former tends to litter quite a bit. This sort of idea.) It was working pretty well until one class started piping up about how not quiet or good they were. I had to switch on my stern teacher voice and be firm about that I expected they would do their very best to be. 

Enough pedagogy.

I'm in the middle of teaching a lesson about how to draw a barn (I was informed at 10pm the night before that I had to make my own lesson plans, so we do something uncomplicated) and I'm walking around the room checking that all the kids are in the right spot when one pipes up: "YOU LOOK YOUNG!"

You know how much I hate to be told that. Especially from people who are questioning whether or not they should respect my authority. Especially when I'm teaching at a public school. 

I shut her down with a "are you supposed to be talking right now?" and the question did not come up again. 

Later in the class I'm demonstrating simplistic barnyard animals. I've drawn a cartoon chicken and two styles of simplified pig. I tell them that they're free to draw any other animal that is farm appropriate that they'd like. A student asks me to draw a horse, but I was never one of those horse girls, I never spent a lot of time looking at horses or caring about horses and so I can't really whip out a horse without having one to look at. And I don't have one to look at. 

"I can't really draw a horse, " I say, and then proceed to draw this crappy horse head with all the other crappy animals I've drawn: 

A girl on the other side of the room calls out, "So you're not an art teacher?"

Not only am I an art teacher, but for the rest of the year I am HER art teacher. MFA and NYS Certified. I. Am. An. Art. Teacher.

"I am an art teacher," I respond with feigned confusion.

"But, like, not a real art teacher."

"I am a real art teacher."

"But not a FULL art teacher."

"I AM a FULL art teacher."

At this point she sort of sighs and is becoming visibly exhausted with me. It seems as though she might think I'm daft or that I'm messing with her. I launch into a diatribe about how drawing things from memory is NOT AT ALL what makes someone an art teacher, an artist, or even a good drawer. I find cause to mention not having been a horse girl nor having drawn lots of horses as a child nor spending time looking at horses, but add that if I had a horse to look at I could draw you a picture that looked very realistic, and went on to criticize my other animals, identifying them as stylized.

I don't even think the horse head that I drew was that horrible.

But anyhow, I think the takeaway here is that Drawing Horses is a key skill.

Maybe someday I'll be a respected educator. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mysoginistic Implications

I haven't made a video on YouTube in a while, so I don't often get emails from them. (the new layout is pretty intimidating to me and I've mostly stayed away from the site)

but the other day, someone left me a comment on THIS video.

here's what it said:

"I like your username. It's very clever. Well, sort of. Too bad you're not pretty, though."

It seems like trollingLITE, or maybe an attempt to engage me by pretending like this person wasn't just out to get to me. So this user is saying my username is sort of very clever? Those adjectives pretty much cancel each other out. Whatever.

What I find more interesting and telling is: "Too bad you're not pretty, though."

Too bad I'm not pretty? Would that have baring on my username? On the content on my video? The video is about the juxtaposition of the book I'm reading to the electrical grid behind me. There needn't be a person in the video at all, save for the fact that I wanted the book to be being read.

Why the hell does it matter if I'm pretty or not? Am I trying to model? To win a beauty contest? To attract suitors? 


I don't care whether randos on the internet think I'm ugly, but the phrasing implies that something would be improved if my looks were more agreeable to the commentor. What should be improved? Nothing. That, as a woman, I must live up to some abstract beauty ideal is ridiculous, and it strikes me as misogynistic.