Jun 20, 2017

Now That I’m 40: A Manifesto

Last Tuesday (June 13), I turned 40. It was a magical day, full of Harry Potter and Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and so much nerding out I could barely contain myself.

Now that I’m back to reality, I’m realizing something. I’m about halfway done with my life. If I’m lucky, I’ve got more than half of it left, but still. Halfway there.

I remember being in my late teens and early twenties, and imagining that by 40 I’d be known globally for all I’d done to change the world. And while the passion to make change is still there, the “globally known” part isn’t. And I’m not sure I’m sad about that, either. I can’t imagine what life would be like with that amount of infamy!!

However. As I look at what I’ve done to make the world a better place, I’m realizing there is so much that I’ve left undone, mostly due to laziness and selfishness. It is far easier to soothe my sadness and frustration with shopping and eating crappy food and watching too much television. I have grown comfortable with being less than I know I can be.

With 40 years under my belt, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Several changes, actually. I am giving my life singular purpose, under the umbrella THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN. I am going to focus my life with laser-like aim on this. Everything I do will be for the better of the littles – mine, those I know and love, and the millions of children around the globe. In order to do this, I will be altering the way I do life in a few ways.

First, I am becoming a minimalist. Yes, I have a family, and no, I will not be forcing them to follow along. For me, shopping is too easy. I actually probably have a serious problem. So I’m just going to stop. I’m not bringing anything new into my home that’s not necessary, and I’m going to go through what I already have and get rid of what isn’t useful and/or doesn’t bring me joy. I have no idea how long this will take me, considering how much crap I actually have. Where there are gaps? I will just let there be gaps for awhile. In truth, there are no actual gaps, only perceived ones. I have more than enough of everything I could ever need or want.

Second, I’m going through and adjusting the cost of my hat patterns, and will work like mad to get the dozens of unpublished patterns I’ve made notes for out into the world. My patterns will all cost $3 … even the previously free ones, with a select few exceptions. EVERY PENNY I earn on these pattern sales will be donated to build schools through Pencils of Promise. If I truly believe “there is no such thing as other people’s children” then I must begin to live as such. Third, I will not be buying books until I have read every book I own (or gotten rid of it because I never plan to read it). I have almost 700 books at school, many of which I have never read, and about 4 dozen more at home. I have already begun to build a pile of books I know I will never read, or read again, and will be taking those to Half Price Books to sell. All of my classroom books will become my reading material for the foreseeable future. The only exception to this book buying rule will be Golden Sower books each summer.

Fourth, I will not be buying yarn until I have knit or crocheted through every skein I own. I have a room over-full with yarn, and while I may need to get some grey yarn to help me use up bits leftover, I will not be doing that until every full skein of yarn has been used to the smallest degree it can be! Most of the yarn is arylic, and can be used easily for donation hats for homeless folks and oncology wards. I will use the smaller bits for newborn hats, and all the wool yarn will be made into useful items for refugees.

As I use the yarn, I will be writing patterns anytime I make a new design up, and adding the patterns to my Ravelry shop. I will use all the money from pattern sales to fund schools through POP, and will STOP SELLING HATS. All hats will be donated.

This is just a start. I’m excited to see where my new mantra will take me in the next 40 years. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN will become my rally cry, it will become my focus and my calling card. It will be the thing that will shape my life and all that I do. Thank goodness I’m already a teacher, so I don’t have to go back to school, too!!

Jun 12, 2017

Book Lists - From Other Places

There are a few great places to find GLBT reading lists this month ...

First, there's Bustle, which shared a list of 12 essential non-fiction books to read. I thought I'd read a bunch of great GLBT non-fiction in my day, but it turns out I've read NONE of these 12!

Same goes, unfortunately, for the Pride Month Reading List 2016 from the National Book Org. Well, not totally true. I've read ONE book from the YA list - Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my favorite books ever.

The ALA has a great resource page, full of posters and flyers you can download, as well as links to lists of great award-winning books!

All in all, I've got a bunch of reading to do - I've already downloaded a few of these books to my Kindle so I have some good reading on my 40th birthday celebration vacation, and will report back with what I read, and what I loved and why!

Jun 11, 2017

Celebrating The Austins

Every few years, someone I love gets married. And because I am ordained (online) to perform ceremonies, every few years I get the honor of bearing legal witness to the marriages of the people I love.

So when Jon met Kyle, and they started to get serious, and all of us friends started talking about "would they or wouldn't they," I started hoping. And when Kyle got down on one knee and asked Jon to marry him, I started putting bugs in the ears of their wedding party.

And when Wendy asked me to meet her for coffee, and these two were there with a sign that said, "Will you marry us?" I cried, said yes, and got down to business.

Friday was wonderful. It was everything a wedding should be ... two people who love each other, nervous and excited that they are making a legal and public commitment to each other, to share forever with one another.

I didn't cry during the ceremony, which was truly a miracle. Every time I practiced it, I sobbed. As they walked down the aisle hand in hand, I had to dig my nails into my skin to keep the tears at bay. When they got to me, and I looked at them and whispered, "Breathe!" it was for me as much as for them.

I cried as they kissed. I cried as I got to announce for the first time Mr. and Mr. Austin. I cried when they had their first dance. I cried over and over. But not while I married them. Not while they said their vows.

It was an honor. I love love, and I will always marry those I love. Always.

Jun 5, 2017

GLBT Books I've Read Recently

Here are five of the books I've read in the last year. One (Requiem), represents the entire series. Which means seven.

I've read seven books in the last year that have GLBT characters in them.

Of these eight, two were written expressly ABOUT GLBT characters and their lives. The other five had GLBT characters in the books, although the books themselves did not follow these characters as main characters.

In total, I wasn't expecting GLBT characters in five of these books. I was super amazingly pleasantly surprised to find these GLBT characters, and their presence made me think.

That YA authors are adding GLBT characters to their books, not as a statement or a main character, but as a friend, someone who we see and we get to know and we fall in love with even as their story arch doesn't make or break the main characters? This feels like progress to me.

Only in the Delirium series (represented here by Requiem) is there a conversation about the character's being GLBT, and what the main character thinks of it. And this is a dystopian series where the main character has been raised in an extremely closed and structured environment, and her commentary on the GLBT characters serves to show how she has realized just how gross and wrong her upbringing truly is.

In Every. Other. Case. the GLBT characters are just ... there. In the same way that every other character is just ... there. No discussion needed. No precursor to meeting the character. No questions about the legitimacy of the character.

This is NOT something I saw growing up. This is not something I saw much of in my 20s. This is something that has begun to occur only in the last few years.


And yes, we need more books where the GLBT characters take center stage. Of course we do. My students need to be able to pick up books and have the main characters be GLBT and have there be no questions.

SO much still needs to be done. But these books? And their characters? Feel like victories to me.

Books Featured (affiliate links):

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Delirium Trilogy Collection Lauren Oliver 3 Books Set (Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem) by Lauren Oliver
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Jun 2, 2017

Summers "Off"

Now that I'm a teacher, I get "summers off." Never mind the hours I put in every day during the school year. Never mind the hours my work wife and I are putting in almost every day this summer. Everywhere I go, I see comments about teachers having it so easy in June, July, and August.

Rather than take offense, however, I've decided to use my summer "off" for a bunch of things.

There's all the swinging we're doing.

There's tons of playing at our water table, with the plan to get a mini pool in the near future so we can play in there as well.

There's all the books I plan to read this summer. I was lucky enough to get a HUGE book haul right before the end of the school year, a combination of gifts from my mama for my 40th (which is coming up soon ...) and student donations, and I want to read as many of them as I can before summer is up so I have tons of books to talk up to my new crop of sevies.
And then there's all the knitting and crochet.

As I finally take time to organize our life in our new home (something that's been ignored as winter and spring flew past us), I'm learning to let go of everything that doesn't add value or spark joy. That leaves me with a lot of yarn, however - both valuable and joy-sparking. But not if it just sits there, unused.

And so I'm working my way through as much of it as I can, using scraps to make afghans and almost-whole skeins to make hats, getting back to having stacks of knitting and crochet ready to send off to charities in need. I may not find a lot of time for this during the school year, and so I'm taking as much time as possible this summer to get some stuff done.

So far? It's been wonderful!

Jun 1, 2017

GLBT Book Month

I'm super excited to participate in GLBT Book month for the second year in a row! Admittedly, last year I didn't do much participating. I had great intentions, but in the end only shared one book list.

This year, however, I've done some planning - even if it was just a few hours of planning, less than a day before June - and I feel like I'll be able to do much more to celebrate!

First up, I'll share a list of the books I've been reading these past 12 months with GLBT characters.

Second, I'll share some of the lists Bustle, the ALA, and the National Book Org are putting out.

Finally, I want to talk a bit about being GLBT inclusive in my classroom, especially working in public schools where that sort of thing is actually mandated a bit by the district and state.

For now, however, Happy Pride!!!