Monday, November 28, 2011

So...Ninth Grade...

As I've mentioned so many times before, I spent five years in high school, beginning with eighth grade. That first year was filled with a few bumps and a few life lessons, which I took with me into ninth grade. Any of you who are female, or who have ever lived in a household with females knows that teenage girls go through a "bitch phase". Some women never outgrow it, hahaha!!! Luckily, I did. Now I only engage in selective bitchery ;-). Back then, I thought I knew everything. I also thought it was funny to talk smack about fat people and people that weren't particularly attractive. Although I would never say anything to these people's faces, my friends and I would still say things behind their backs. Thinking back on it now, I'm very ashamed of my misguided attempts to fit in. You would think that after I was picked on in eighth grade for not being "black enough" that I would be more tolerant, but no, the ignorance of youth won out.

There is one major thing that happened when I was in ninth grade that set a precedent at my high school. In ninth grade I took a biology class. Of course biology always involves the dissection of something. Since it was ninth grade biology, we had to dissect a frog. Now I'm someone who doesn't believe in that sort of thing. I don't see the point of killing a bunch of little frogs just so they can be cut open by high school kids. Initially there was someone else besides me who objected. Her parents are very big on the environment and they worked toward going green before it was cool. Because that girl didn't want to dissect, she was told that an alternate assignment would be provided. Once three other students, all black females (one of whom was me), decided they didn't want to dissect the frog, the offer of an alternate assignment was rescinded and we had to go to the principal's office. That trip to the principal's office was an interesting one. She tried to make us feel guilty because we were the advanced students and didn't want to do the assignment. She also told us that if we didn't do the dissection, we wouldn't get a college preparatory seal on our diplomas. Of course we were too young and unworldly to know that in the grand scheme of things a college prep seal didn't mean  jack shit, but adults in positions of authority know how to get over on kids.

Once we returned to the classroom, we were told that we'd each have to join one of the groups that was performing the dissection and participate. I joined the group of two guys that I knew, and was crying the whole time I sat there watching them. One asked me if I was okay and of course my response was no. After that incident, it was mandatory for the curriculum for ninth grade biology to include an alternative to dissection. I was a pioneer and didn't even know it. I actually didn't find out until the following year when my 10th grade chemistry teacher told me. And on a side note: To this day I love frogs. I buy and wear frog jewelry :-).

I know for a fact that my ninth grade biology teacher was a racist. As I said before, she offered the white girl an alternate assignment, but as soon as there was a black contingent, she wasn't having it. As further proof that she didn't like me in particular, toward the end of the school year we had to pre-register for the next year's classes. The only chemistry class that fit into my schedule was the advanced one. Of course that's the one I should've been taking anyway, but she tried to keep me out of the class. Her exact words were "There are certain people that I  have  to give this class to." That's complete and total bullshit! She just didn't want to give that class to me. Eventually, she had to put it on my schedule, but I know it really ate her up to do so.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wonderful Weigh-in

Since today is Thanksgiving Day Weight Watchers was closed. To make sure that I was in fine form for Turkey Day, I weighed in yesterday. I'm happy to report that I was down 2lbs.Yeah, baby! To top it off, last night was my first Wednesday night doing workstudy at the yoga studio that I go to. In exchange for free unlimited classes I come in on Wednesdays to help out in the studio. Wednesday is when the community class is offered for the discounted price of $7.00. It's usually a full house and afterwards whoever was there checking in people needs to straighten up and clean the studio. Although the community class ends at 8:30 in the evening, sometimes the person working wouldn't get out of there until 10:00 because of all the cleaning that needs to be done. I very much appreciate the opportunity. I eventually want to do the yoga teacher training program there, and the unlimited classes give me the chance to advance my practice.

I'd like to close this post by thanking everyone who stops by to read my blog. I'm grateful for all of you. At this time last year things weren't particularly great, but the love and support of friends and family helped me make it through to the other side. Happy Thanksgiving, me lovelies. Be well and treat each other well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My First Year of High School

As you may remember, because of restructing of the schools (as well as renovations), I was in high school for five years, starting in eighth grade. My first year of high school was actually my older brother's last year. Although he's only three years older than me, he was four grades ahead of me because I started school late. I got to know some of his friends, and they didn't treat me like some little kid just tagging along. By that time I was 14. As a matter of fact, none of the older kids treated us any differently, which was nice.

In elementary school, I encountered the occasional spate of racism from students, but high school was different. White students didn't have a problem with me. Other black students did. Because my friends had always been white, that's who I hung out with for the most part. A few of my cousins were in the same grade that I was in so sometimes I hung out with them, but whenever all of us were with other black students, they made fun of me. They picked on me for the way that I talked (they said I talked white, i.e. intelligently) and they called me an Oreo (black on the outside and white on the inside). I remember crying about this and going to the school counselor. I couldn't understand why they would do such a thing. I was just minding my own business, not bothering anyone. I chose not to hang out with them because they used the excuse of being black for very ignorant behavior. My mama raised me better than that. Luckily, as my eighth grade year progressed, the bullying stopped, but to this day it still hurts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aww Screw It

Yesterday was my weigh-in day, but I also had a doctor's appointment early in the morning. All of you know that I've had a cold for basically three weeks now. On Monday that cold morphed into a sinus infection. The way I knew that is from the pain and pressure I felt above my right eyebrow and behind my right eye. I also felt like something was squeezing the top of my head. Tuesday it moved to my cheekbones. By Wednesday I couldn't take anymore. So I went to see the doctor at 7:45 yesterday morning. She prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics, as well as nasal spray.

After all of the pain I've been through this week, I really don't care that I was up when I got on the scale last night. It's been a tough week and sweets were my friend in my time of need. Also, sinus pain and pressure isn't conducive to exercise. I plan to be back on track this week, so it's all good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Come off it Already!

As the whole Penn State thing continues to unfold, I become more and more disgusted. First of all I want to address the issue of Penn State students, faculty, and alumni getting all up in arms about the termination of Joe Paterno. He is just as culpable for the damage done to those children as Jerry Sandusky. He may not have physically put his hands on any of them, but he had knowledge of the goings-on that were taking place. For that he deserves more than termination from the job that made him a household name in Pennsylvania. He doesn't get a free pass for building one of the best collegiate football legacies in recent history. Fuck football! We are talking about children who trusted an adult in a position of great power. This is a person who was supposed to be making their lives better. Instead, he scarred them for life and continually acted out a nightmare that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Speaking of Jerry Sandusky, he's now back out in the open, giving stumbling, bumbling responses to the accusations against him. When asked in a phone interview by Bob Costas if he was sexually attracted to young boys, he hesitated and then repeated the question. Anyone that knows anything about speech patterns knows that's the classic move of someone that's about to lie to you. After repeating the question he was like "No, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." I know I'm not the only one to call bullshit on that answer. Another one of his statements made me wish I could hunt his ass down and beat the shit out of him. He was like "I realize now that showering with them was wrong." He also admitted to acting inappropriately but denied sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period. There's no way in this world to explain away child rape witnessed by another person. He's trying to come across as a pitiful and pitiable old man that "really loves kids and loves being around them", who crossed the line just a little bit. Seriously?! He told Bob Costas that he's not a pedophile. The medical diagnosis of pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in adults or adolescents typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children. If that doesn't describe what good ol' Jerry's been up to, I don't know what does.

The thing that really gets me is that a lot of parents don't want their sons around gay men for fear of something like this happening. For the most part, gay men don't prey on little boys. Straight men with wives, children, and fine upstanding lives usually do. Or in the case of the Catholic Church scandal, men of the cloth who are supposed to be above reproach. Gay people don't want to mess with your sons. They got other issues to deal with without putting themselves in the line of fire for something like that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One Last Thing about Middle School

As I told you before, I only spent one year in middle school. Talking with someone on Twitter earlier this morning brought back a memory from middle school. I grew up in the rural South where racism always bubbles just under the surface. Right down the street from my middle and high schools lived a man who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is nowhere near as powerful as it was during the civil rights movement, but to this day they still have a presence in the South. This man was a redneck of the first order. He lived in a raggedy house with lawn jockeys out front and an old boat with a sign on it. The sign said that the boat was for sending all of the niggers back to Africa.

Well this guy's daughter is the same age I am, and I actually went to middle school with her. Although her father was an ignorant bastard, I never had any problems with her. You would think that with a father like that she'd be carrying a banner for the cause, so to speak, but she seemed all right. She was actually friends with a friend of mine. In the mornings before classes started, if you got to school early, you had to sit in the lunchroom. I remember sitting near her in the lunchroom and she was relatively nice. I found out years later that she was dating a black guy. I'm sure that her daddy was really pleased about that. He actually moved out of that house years ago and the boat is no longer there, but whenever I drive by that house I see the lawn jockeys and the boat in my mind's eye.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Steady as She Goes

Yesterday was weigh-in day, and let me tell you, was it ever a miserable one! I'm speaking weather-wise. It rained all day, and because of the time change it was basically completely dark when I left the office. Because a lot of the streets in Boston tilt, any time it rains there is standing water on the side of the street, right near the sidewalk. If you don't know any better, you think that where you are about to step is flat with only a very shallow puddle of water, but in reality you end up pluging your foot ankle-deep into cold water. Because I wore flats yesterday, the hems of my pants were pretty much dragging the ground so that by the time I got home my pants legs were soaked.

Enough about the weather. Let's talk about my weigh-in. When I stepped on the scale I found that my weight was exactly the same as it was last week. That's what the bastard scale at home told me, too, but you know how untrustworthy it has proven itself to be. I'm glad that my lack of significant exercise didn't cause me to gain. This cold that I have has been hanging on to me with a death grip, but I think I'm almost out of the woods. I'm planning to go to yoga class tomorrow morning to kick-start my exercise again and also to continue to rid myself of toxins.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretty Isn't All You Are

The media bombards us with images of women that trade on their looks. When young girls see this they figure that the only way they're going to get anywhere in life is by looking pretty. Every time I see a story about that 17 year old girl who married that 51 year old actor (at her mother's urging), I'm like "For real?" Now that the two of them are married she spends her time posting provocative pictures of herself on Face Book in low-cut tops and short shorts. Cleavage abounds up top and down below. If that's the way this mother wants her child to live her life, then that's fine. Those escapades don't need to be laid out for public consumption.

Of course one of the biggest pop culture headlines of the moment has to do with Kim Kardashian's 72 day marriage. The backlash is monumental. During a period in our economic history when a large part of the population can't keep their homes and there's a man trying to rob Burger King with a sock, the last thing this world needed was the gross display of conspicuous consumption that constituted her wedding to Kris Humphries. This isn't the effin' 1980s! To spend all of that money and have all of that hoopla, and then to turn around and say "I'm divorcing him." flies in the face of everything that many people hold dear.

If either of the women that I mentioned above were homely, with no sex appeal, do you think we'd even know anything about their stories? Of course not! The media is teaching our young women that if they want to get anywhere they have to be beautiful and willing to exploit that beauty for all it's worth. In a bid to measure up, eating disorders continue to be on the rise, and bullying seems to be at an all time high.

The only way to completely insulate your daughters against this would be to ban all forms of media from your household. Not only is that drastic, it's nearly impossible. A more effective way to combat these harmful messages is to sit your girls down and talk to them. Let them know that looks fade. Unless they're willing to spend their whole lives chasing youth (which I consider a waste of a good life), there's always going to be someone younger and prettier. If a woman doesn't base who and what she is on her looks, that's not going to matter to her. There's a whole world out there that needs fixing. Women have the intuition, listening skills, and nurturing nature to bring this world back around to what it needs to be. There's no law that says we can't look good while we're doing it, but let's not make looking good our sole purpose in life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moving into the Teen Years

I made it through the rest of the elementary period of my education without any major mishaps. Back then elementary school consisted of kindergarten through sixth grade. Because I was born a few weeks after Labor Day, I started school late, so that by the time I was done with elementary school I was 12. Because of the restructuring of the school system, my sixth grade class was the last one that would be considered part of elementary education. The following year, middle school would consist of sixth and seventh grades, while eighth grade would be in the high school.

My one year in middle school was fun. That's where I initially got into music. I sang in the seventh grade chorus. I even tried out for a solo, but I was so nervous that my leg shook like crazy while I was auditioning. There was that shyness again! 

During my third week of seventh grade I turned 13. Anyone that has ever been or raised a 13-year old girl knows how fraught with turmoil that age is. There's the question of wearing makeup--yes, no, and if so, how much. My mother never wore makeup so she wasn't sure how to approach that situation. I will say that she let me start wearing it at 13, and that I wore lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. Looking back, I know I was way too heavy-handed with the eye makeup. If I had it to do over again, there's no way I would've started wearing makeup at 13. I go through phases in my adult life where I wear none at all and I know that my face looks perfectly fine without it. Most days you'll see me with eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss on. I wear foundation during the winter because the New England weather is so harsh on the skin, but it's not something I feel like I need to wear.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hey There Scale. How You Doin'?

Yesterday was weigh-in day. My bastard scale at home said I was down a little bit, so I figured I could trust it. I could tell by the way that my clothes were fitting that I hadn't gained anything, and if I had, I knew it would be less than a pound.When I got to my meeting after work and stepped on the scale I saw that I had lost the little bit of weight that I put on last week. Not bad considering my cold hasn't gone away yet. Because of that fact I haven't been exercising much. I think I'll try to do a little bit of yoga every day this upcoming week to rinse some of the toxins out of my system.

During every meeting we talk about celebrations and challenges. Of course celebrations are usually scale-related. Someone loses their first five pounds, five or ten percent of their body weight, or they lose that first 10lbs. Last night there was a girl who saw a loss on the scale but felt like she didn't deserve it because she didn't follow the plan to the letter. She said that it had been a stressful week, which caused her to make bad food choices. She said at one point she felt as if the "Weight Watchers gods" were going to strike her down. When she saw the loss on the scale, she felt guilty. Her mentality is definitely a clue that she hasn't be on the plan for very long. I asked her if her food choices were really that bad. She said one of the things she did was eat a lot of chips, directly from the bag. Anyone that knows anything about portion control knows that eating straight from the bag is a no-no, because that means you have no idea how much you ate; and therefore, can't track it. I told her that not every week is going to be her perfect week, and that she needs to stop being afraid of what might go wrong. I also told her that she needs to give herself permission to not be perfect. She can't let that fear rule her or she's going to drive herself crazy.

If you've got something in your life that you're working on or trying to accomplish, just remember that life throws you some curve balls. If you don't knock it out of the park each time, that's okay. You may get a piece of it and hit it into foul territory, or you may even swing and miss. Regardless of what's happens, that was just one day in a long line of days in which you will have an opportunity to do better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Done with School

Last night I went to my final copyediting class. I'm happy to say that I'm done with school, for the time being. I will explain what I mean by that later, but first, let's talk about my last class. It had to do with proofreading and during most of the class period  we practiced proofreading articles so that we could make sure we knew how to mark the text. If any of the you know anything at all about professional proofreading, you know that this is one of the most boring things you can do as a class. We'd do the work in our workbooks and then the professor would project the marked up copy on a screen for us to compare ours to. In some instances she would ask people to come up and put their marks on the board. If anyone asked her about something, she'd dither until she gave a non-answer.

Luckily, two professors alternated teaching the classes because I don't know if I could've handled this woman more than once a week. She honestly seemed like she smoked a joint before class. That's how scatter-brained and dithery she was. There was one other Michelle in the copyediting program, and the professor always used the attendance sheet to call on people for answers to homework or practice quizzes. Unless she used the last name, we had no idea which Michelle she was talking to. Any time that she meant me, and I asked her if she did, she would assume I was trying to get out of answering the question. She did it again last night, and the girl beside me said, "We go through this every class!"

After we went over homework, she asked for volunteers to go to the board and mark some sentences she had put up. Because no one wanted to be there (last class syndrome), they were all looking around at each other. I figured since no one else was volunteering, I might as well get the ball rolling. That was also my way of showing the professor that I wasn't trying to avoid answering questions ;-). My volunteering had the desired effect. She didn't call on me for the rest of class, although when she would ask for suggested changes to what someone else had already done, I would chime in. Once the class finally ended we were all very relieved. Upon receiving my certificate, I will officially be certified as a copyeditor.

As for being done with school for the time being, I found out that one of the colleges in Cambridge offers an online Bachelor's in psychology. That's something else I plan to do within the next year or two. Those who know me well know that I like helping people. I think I could do really well as a counselor or a therapist. Also, I think the knowledge that I acquire could be put to good use when I become a Weight Watchers leader. Many of the reasons why a lot of people overeat are psychological. My quest for knowledge continues!