Book Review: You Are Here by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson gets me. She has a way of reaching into my life and plucking out all of my insecurities, and making them seem small in the big picture of my life. She is someone who doodles. She is someone who doodles when she is anxious, or stressed, or depressed. She has taken things that are born during her darkest moments and has turned them into something truly beautiful. She has created a COLORING BOOK!

I love coloring books! I love the innocence that comes with coloring. There is a feeling of release when I spend a few minutes turning something black and white into something bursting with color. I am not an artist. Not even close! and coloring is the closest I will ever get to creating art. I feel truly relaxed when I am infusing a sheet of paper with color, and Jenny Lawson has helped turn this into a true form of therapy.

Every drawing is an original and she combines them with quotes and short essays. Some are thoughtful and some are rants that follow her wonderfully random train of thought. Every quote jumps off the page and reaches into your soul. Everyone has their dark moments and Jenny’s art cuts through the darkness like a knife, creating sudden and glorious bursts of light. Her quotes are honest in a way that everyone can appreciate, and her scattered use of profanity is refreshing and amusing. You don’t find random cursing in very many coloring books…or whales with guns. AND IT’S GLORIOUS!

Thank you so much Jenny Lawson fro touching my life once again and showing me that it can be dark but there is always light to be found. And there is always someone who has it better.

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Film Review: W.E.

So apparently Madonna directs movies now… and I was pleasantly surprised by her film W.E.. This movie came out in 2011 and examines the relationship between Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, who famously abdicated the throne of England so he could marry the twice divorced Simpson. According to Rotten Tomatoes this movie is a total flop but I found it charming and fascinating as it examines one of the biggest scandals in British history.

I have always viewed Wallis Simpson as a kind of villain. She is always painted as a gold-digger who tears England apart for her own social standing. W.E. takes a completely different point of view by focusing on Wallis as a woman struggling to find happiness in a world that is not always kind to ambitious women.

Madonna creates a modern parallel in Wally Winthrop, a modern woman who is fascinated by an auction displaying all of Wallis and Edwards belongings. Wally views Wallis’s life as a fairy tale in which she falls in love with a handsome prince who sacrifices everything for their love. Wally is inherently trying to escape from her own miserable marriage by imaging a glamorous love story from a time long past.

The film flows between the past and the present smoothly, as we watch Wallis leave a happy marriage for a doomed one while Wally leave a miserable marriage for a loving relationship with a cute security guard (Oscar Isaac). By the end of the film it becomes clear that Wallis was neither a villain or part of a beautiful love story that ended happily ever after.

Wallis loved Edward but his extreme devotion to her put a strain on their relationship which became impossible to escape. Once Edward abdicated Wallis was tied to him for life. She was now forced to be with him for ever in order to justify the actions he had taken. People change over time and their exile form England paired with the fact that she would never be free of him placed Wallis in a very stiff box that could not be altered. I now have a new found respect for Wallis Simpson and I am curious to learn more about her to see exactly how accurate this film is.

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What Is Mine

My period is mine, you get no part in it

My period means that I bleed for one week

One week every month

Blood means injury

injury means rest, time off,

Taking a moment to pause

to get a bandage

My period means the opposite

My period means pain

It means not being able to stand

It means ruined clothes and stress

Stress that I won’t be able to make it to the restroom

Stress that I will embarrass myself

Embarrass myself because of something natural

Something as natural to me as breathing is to you

My period means shame

Shame that I have to take my purse to the restroom

Shame that I am depressed

Shame that I am anxious

My access to birth control means power

Power over my weakness

Power comes from one small pill

That pill means that I know when my period happens

That pill means that my clothes aren’t ruined

That pill means that I am in less pain

So that I take fewer painkillers

So that I can do my job

That pill means that young girls don’t have to choose

Choose between a baby and an education

Between dreams and nightmares

My body is mine

the way your body is yours

And I promise

To never judge you

To never tell you what to do with your body

If you promise

To never tell me what to do with mine

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Why I Need Feminism

I love dresses. I also love jeans, and sweatpants, and leggings, and shorts, and just lying around in my underwear. I’m not saying that I have a desire to run errands in my underwear (my self-esteem is WAY too low to pull that off, also it just seems unhygienic), but feminism means that I can choose to wear whatever I want without judgement. Feminism also means that men can wear whatever they want without judgement. If one of my male students decides to wear a dress to school I’m gonna greet him with an excessively enthusiastic “YOU LOOK AMAZING!”. He will definitely be more concerned with the fact that I am embarrassing myself more than he cares about what other students think.

I need feminism because there are days when I want to wear frilly dresses and high heels, but there are also days when I want to wear bow ties and combat boots. I need Feminism because a woman should be able to have short hair without people judging her and saying that feminine women should have long hair. I need feminism because my leg hair should be just as acceptable as a mans beard. If men are allowed to go weeks without shaving their faces, then I should be allowed to go weeks without shaving my legs, and I should not be confined to pants during that time, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT EQUALITY IS! I personally will not wear a dress without shaving my legs simply because I am more comfortable that way. I do not enjoy the sensation of my leg hairs rubbing against my skin, its prickly and terrible.

I need feminism because women should not be ashamed or embarrassed of their periods. Women are strong and powerful and we spend one week of every month bleeding. Period cramps are caused when a woman’s uterus contracts so intensely that blood flow is inhibited. I need feminism because birth control helps control this pain for a lot of women and unless you have personally experienced it you have no say in how this pain should be dealt with. NO UTERUS NO OPINION! Equality is the right to decide what is done with your body. Women have no control of what men choose to do with their bodies, there for men should have no control of what women do with their bodies.

I need feminism because EVERYONE is created equal and everyone has the right to make their own decisions. Division based on gender, race and sexuality is complete bullsh*t. I have been more fortunate than many people in this world, and I will stand for what I believe in and I will give a voice to those that have none. This is a day for more than just women. This is a day to celebrate equality and how far people have come. This is a day to stand together and be grateful for what we have and examine what we need as a society. Happy National Women’s Day.

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That Awkward Moment…

When one student requests a Shakespeare club at school, so you start one to see if there would be interest, and 20 FREAKING KIDS SHOW UP to the first meeting, and 5 MORE SHOW UP TO THE SECOND. Here are just a few things that have gone through my head over the last week:

“Welp… I was expecting five members max but this is fine too…”

“WOW he actually wrote an election speech to become president…”

“Please vote for him. Please vote for him.”

“Yes they voted for him!”

“I’m so sorry that you didn’t get elected, but the club does not need an assistant secretary, or a field trip specialist, or an official janitor. I do not need, nor want a personal assistant, thank you very much.”

“The position of Almighty Overlord has already been taken… by me… of course”

“Shakespeare Club is Snap Chat famous apparently”

“Apparently I have to meet my officers during lunch to discuss… tactics… why do we need tactics? It’s Shakespeare club for lords sake!”

“How on earth did my treasurer already raise ten dollars?! We don’t even have something to spend it on yet!”

“So my president has taken a survey and all the kids want to do Hamlet for our first play… this is gonna go so well. I hope they realize that it’s a bit more intense than The Lion King” 

“No we are not watching The Lion King, you guys chose Hamlet and we are watching Hamlet, Dang it!”

“My officers have decided that they are now called Shakespeare’s Squad”

“Why are there more of you?! I need to set a limit for number of members cause this is getting ridiculous”

“I said you could bring snacks for the movie… who paid for those five pizzas?”

“Oh look soda, popcorn and cookies too…”

“Maybe we do need a club janitor”

“Why yes, Hamlet is confusing”

“You actually like this movie?”

“You actually love this movie?!”

“A student just thanked me for starting a Lit Club…”

“I need to find a place to get club shirts…”

“I’m excited for next week too… but lets tone down the snacks just a bit”

“This was a good decision”

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I definitely have this on a shirt and the kids want this on their official club shirts as well

Theatre Review: Rumors A Play By Neil Simon; Performed by Theatrikos In Flagstaff

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Flagstaff, Arizona’s local theatre company, Theatrikos, perform Neil Simon’s farce Rumors. Rumors is a play about a 10th wedding anniversary of the Deputy Mayor of New York, Charlie Brock and his wife. As the first guests arrive they hear a gunshot coming from the house. Inside they find Charlie with a bullet hole in his left ear lobe. The remainder of the play consists of a completely ridiculous attempt to hide what has happened from the other party guests, who continue to show up throughout the first act.

Local theatre is a wonderful part of any community and I am particularly proud of Flagstaff’s Theatrikos Company. With direction from Northern Arizona University professor Dr. Mac Groves the cast shines as overdramatic wealthy people. The action is fast paced and every actor was able to keep up with the plot, the other cast members and the audience’s reactions. There was non stop laughter as alcohol is consumed is copious amounts, food is dropped across the stage and a man loses his hearing for a bulk of the first act.

The actors fed off each other to create a well rounded performance that features seasoned veterans of the stage and some new faces. There is clear chemistry between the various couples on stage and the timing of every joke keeps the laughter consistent throughout the story. I would like to give a special shout out to my fellow teacher and friend, Kyle Haynes, who made his theatrical debut as one of the disgruntled police officers that comes to investigate several complaints from Charlie’s house. Since last nights show was a preview and the fist performance of Rumors in Flagstaff, I think it can only get better. There were a few stumbles that are expected in live theatre but that cast carried them beautifully.

Well done Theatrikos. Well done in deed.

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Crazy Cat lady

I had a conversation with a student yesterday that really made me think. Why is it weird or sad for a woman to love their cat but it’s fine for everyone else to love their dog? I adore my cat. He came into my life at a very difficult time and has been my constant companion/ personal space heater ever since. It was his birthday over the weekend and I decided to spoil him by getting him one of those suction cup window seats. When my kids asked what I did over that weekend I told them, and I was met with a sea of eyes that told me I was living a sad life. That I was doomed to miserable and alone for the rest of my life… because I love my cat and got him something special (he absolutely adores his new window bed by the way).

I am generally proud of being considered a crazy cat lady. I love all animals, but my life is just better suited for cats. Why does that make my life a sad story? Why is it alright for dog owners to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on beds, toys, and clothing for their pets, but when I do the same thing (not that I spend hundreds of dollars) it’s considered sad and is met with pity or laughter?

This question is most often met with: “But dogs are more loyal! Cats are mean. Cats don’t care about you. Dogs are just better.” Yes, there are a good number of cats out there that would rather be left alone and aren’t considered the nicest animals. But dogs can also be mean. Dogs can also be less than loyal. All you doing is lumping all dogs into one category because you had a good experience with one, and all cats into one category because you had a bad experience.

My cat, Sootie, is a total sweetheart. He greets me at the door every day when I get home and loves to cuddle more than anything. He does not hold grudges against me after I’ve had to clip is claws or give him eye drops. He is a wonderful ball of fluff, and my life is infinitely better because of him. Believe me when I say that I was truly miserable when I came home to a completely empty apartment every day.  I know that people act the same way about dogs and are met with agreement and adoration. So why are cat people the odd ones out?

Just think about it. And give my cat a chance. He’s pretty darn great.

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