RSS Feed

Can Politics Ruin Friendships, Part Two

Four years ago, I wrote this piece about politics and friendships. Reading it now seems almost quaint and nostalgic compared to what’s going on in our country. Who knew that four short years later our country would be completely divided.

I didn’t.

Perhaps that was my folly. Perhaps that was many people’s folly. Perhaps we were too optimistic about our futures and who would try to lead our country. Perhaps I didn’t realize how bad it would get and that I would feel silenced and rejected from so many on facebook. Who knew I would find solace in “secret” groups and find myself depressed after reading facebook (and don’t get me started on twitter… I doubt I’ll ever go there again).

What I’ve learned in the last year is that there is a bigger divide in this country than I thought. I was as shocked as the people in the SNL sketch about our President Elect. I live in a very diverse area. I guess I live in a little bubble. I don’t spend a lot of time in places that are not as diverse and as liberal as where I am now. I knew there was still racism, but I guess I didn’t think there’d be enough tolerance of it to elect someone who has behaved as such.

So, now what? Have I unfriended anyone?


But I no longer find facebook to be a happy place, where I share lots of things with family and friends. I find myself almost depressed there anymore. When people who are on my friends list don’t comment on positive things I post, like photos of my kids on their birthdays or for their accomplishments, or events going on in my life, but decided to make themselves heard when I or my friends or family members say something they don’t like, it’s not a place I want to spend much time. And they post that I need to stop being spoiled and childish. As if my candidate not winning is what’s eating at me.


My candidate didn’t win in 2000 or 2004. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t the same. People I knew and loved weren’t afraid of losing freedoms, rights, insurance, or homes. Though the guy who won those two elections wasn’t a great president, in my opinion, he didn’t have me worried for an imminent Hunger Games scenario. As little as I liked that other guy, I didn’t think he was nearly as dangerous as this new guy.

The people that voted for DJT tell me they don’t condone his actions, but they just voted for a person who said they could shoot someone in the middle of the street and not lose any voters. They tell me they don’t agree with the things he does, yet they voted for a man who brags about assaulting women. They tell me it’s about jobs or some such thing, and yet they just voted for someone who just hired a white supremacist to his “team.” This doesn’t even feel like America anymore.

So, does politics ruin friendships? Maybe not. But when what’s at stake is MORE than politics and you realize that the way you and others view the world and what’s important is so glaringly different, perhaps its time to reevaluate how you want to interact with those people.

I’m hearing about how spouses are mistreating each other because they voted differently. I’ve heard stories about people being disowned by their parents and family members for voting differently. I’ve seen a lot of name-calling and arguments. I’ve seen a lot of ugliness online, and stories of people who have witnessed the same in person. This is more than politics. This is ideologies. This is deep-rooted beliefs. This is a fundamental difference in how we see the kind of person that should be a leader.

And if you came here to tell me to stop whining, or that HRC was worse, I just can’t accept that as truth. Perhaps we’ll never know what kind of leader she’d be, but we do know that she was the better example during the campaign. She didn’t brag about picking on people. She didn’t mock the disabled. She didn’t tell the world that she could shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose voters.

All we can do now is hope for the best. All we can do now is try to find a way to peacefully co-exist without calling each other names. All we can do now is hope that our new leader is a good one who will act for the good of ALL people in our great country and not just the ones he deems worthy.




Feeling Silenced

I am a talker. I like to share my feelings – good, bad, mad, ecstatic, excited, worried, indifferent. I also feel deeply. I come home from teaching feeling exhausted from feeling all day. I cry perhaps easier than most people. Or at least, more than some people.

There’s a moment in the first Harry Potter book when (spoiler alert) Neville Longbottom gets some House Points for standing up for what he thinks is right) and I break every time I read it. Every. Time.

So, when I watched the election results this past Tuesday after celebrating the 11th birthday of my amazing daughter, I was shocked. I cried as I went to bed, mourning for the freedoms some people would perhaps be losing soon. I cried knowing my students would be upset and worried the next day. I cried knowing that half of our country voted for someone  who said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th avenue and not lose voters. Someone who admits to treating women poorly and wanting to make all Muslims register, and someone who wants to build a wall and send Mexicans back to Mexico.

I posted on facebook that I was feeling hopeless. I posted that I wasn’t happy with the results and I was struggling to find the way to talk to my students as I’m always trying to teach them to be kind and not bully and I felt like we just elected a bully.

Well, I sure heard a mouthful from my family and friends. How dare I have feelings? How dare I “Whine and moan” that my candidate didn’t win? How dare I say such “ugly” words? My students and I and all my friends and family who were disappointed and worried about the future of our country are big babies, need to grow some balls, and deal with our disappointment.

THEY can call me names, call others names, make fun of our feelings, and try to shame us into “shutting up,” but if I post how I’m feeling, I need to stop. I’m being ridiculous. I need to get a grip on reality.


If the next four years is exactly like the last 4 days have been, it’s going to be a long and difficult road.

Halloween once again

It’s November 3rd now. Monday was Halloween and we’re speeding toward Thanksgiving and then all the winter holidays. I swear it was JUST the 4th of July yesterday.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Except when you’re a teacher.

It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to pass out candy. It’s fun to eat candy. It’s not fun to wrangle 34 10-year-olds in their costumes and get them to do any sort of activities resembling learning while at school.

To top it off, Halloween was on a Monday. I repeat, a MONDAY. Not only does that suck because it’s Monday, but it sucks because we have a short day and there’s literally no time to do anything. And after a day with crazy kids, we had to sit through a staff meeting and actually focus and do work.

It was a beautiful day and we walked to the neighborhood senior community, who wanted to give our kids candy.


Our noon aides and behavior specialist were dressed for success.


After work, it was time to go home and do a few last minute preparations for one of my daughter’s costume. I also was worried about how much candy we had to give out, because this is our first Halloween here and we had no idea how many trick-or-treaters would come by. (Turns out, not a lot. We have a lot of candy sitting around here.)


This year Halloween was a little different. I guess that’s what happens when kids get older. The boy went to a party with friends. Luna stayed home and passed out candy. Only our little donut wanted to go trick-or-treating.

I wonder what next year will bring. I’ll still never forget their little faces when they looked like this on Halloween…



A New Year, A New Outlook

A New Year, A New Outlook

School has been in session for two weeks and my team, the students, and I are all trying to get in the swing of things. Routine takes time, and we’re trying to get it right. Overall, things are going well. I have a very chatty but overall good group of kids. It’s a big class (34 students in one and 33 in the other), but so far they’re manageable. I like my new partner, and working together is going well.


Me by my tree, that changes with the seasons just like me.

I am really trying to keep in a good headspace this year. It’s so easy to get mired in the negative. Last year, I had a lot to mire myself in – including inconsistent leadership and kids that I was pretty sure were trying to get me to quit. Add to that  going back to teaching after 14 years off, seeing less of my kids, losing the daily support of my “mommy friends,” moving homes (and all the stress that goes with it)… it was a bit crazy, erratic, unstable, and sometimes I just felt ridiculously under pressure.


This hammock saved my sanity on numerous occasions last year.

This year, I actually started out under a lot of stress. I was (am) taking online classes for a CLAD certification. At one point, I was taking three classes at once, while planning for the first week of school. It was very stressful, but thankfully I managed to eek out 2 A+s and am almost done with my 3rd class and so far so good. I’m still not getting enough sleep, and its something I’m working on.

What’s different about this year? Well, for one I’ve got one year under my belt. Instead of starting work 3 days after I got hired, I had a whole summer to think about things, and relax. I knew what I was teaching. I was somewhat familiar with my students and I knew who my partner was going to be, which is so helpful. I’ve also got a big support staff in my corner. Not only do I have two amazing aides in my classroom, but I’ve got my husband cheering me on, my girls telling me I’m doing a good job, my own parents supporting me, and my son who inspires me every day to be positive. He reminds me of the good things when I’m in a bad mood in the morning. The other day I was ready to snap and I was just getting in the car. He reminded me of a time a few weeks before when we ran into a friend who stopped her car when she saw us walking and literally told me that I inspire her. If that didn’t snap me out of my mood, I don’t know what would have! As my son got out of the car when I dropped him off at high school that day, I told him that HE inspires me.


This kid… meditating at Vasquez Rocks.

I’ve found one last thing that makes me happy and helps me destress, which was completely unexpected. Last week, my husband brought home Coldplay tickets. He likes them and wanted to go. I admit, I was coming down with a cold and wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but I did. We hadn’t been on a date in ages, and we haven’t been to a concert (not at the Hollywood Bowl) in years. (Probably the Police reunion concert or Flight of the Concords) Anyway…


I’m just going to say it. That concert made a fan out of me. I’ve been listening to their music every day for the last week and it just makes me… HAPPY. I want to dance (and do) and I have to say, Coldplay may just get me through the stress of being a student and teacher at the same time. I’ve also been watching interviews with Chris Martin (or rather of Chris Martin… sadly he’s not sitting here with me 😉 ) and he is just SO positive. I have to remind myself to be positive and grateful, and thanks to not just Mr. Martin but my son, my daughters, my husband, my parents, and my teammates at work, I think this year can be a great one.


Bill Clinton Made Me a Democrat

Posted on

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the opportunity to vote in my first presidential election. At the time, I didn’t understand just how important this was, and I went into the election uniformed. I attended a private, Catholic university and everyone I knew was talking about voting for Bush. Not being very informed, and assuming he should be a good choice because he had been Vice President for 8 years, I voted for him.


Like many young voters, I didn’t think about politics again for quite some time. That’s when I first learned about Bill Clinton. I was in my last year of college, and in one of my Education classes, I saw a piece on him and how he helped Education in Arkansas (now I know his wife was the driving force behind this). Soon after, I began to see him speak in the primaries, and I was all in. I felt like he was talking TO ME. I felt like he really was the best person to be President of the United States. For the first time, I was EXCITED to vote for my choice for president. And I learned that my parents were already Democrats and had in fact voted for Dukakis while I voted for Bush.

After that, I paid more attention to elections and politics, but I was never on fire about a candidate like that until 2008. No, it was not Hillary Clinton. It was Barack Obama. I was so excited about him and so inspired, I drove to Nevada (I live in California) with some friends to go door to door for him. We were joined by a friend of mine who was a Hillary supporter. Once Barack Obama was nominated, she fully supported him and helped us campaign.

voting 4 obama

My husband and I took the whole family to vote before school started.

This year President is a new election year, and boy has it been interesting (and stressful). I will admit that I was mildly interested in the movement Bernie Sanders was creating. Lots of men and young people I know seem to be very excited by him. On the other hand, Hillary was running again and this time I was in a better place to accept her as my candidate. I was very wishy-washy, though, and not entirely sure who I was voting for. That is, I was unsure until Bernie made some choices I didn’t like and my Bernie-supporting friends were starting to be downright mean. And you know what? I think it is time for a strong woman to be president.

As time went on, I became more and more with HER. I will admit, while I loved (and still do, honestly) her husband, I just didn’t know enough about her and her accomplishments. Perhaps that’s because she wanted to stay out of her husband’s limelight. Perhaps it’s because the media only concentrates on negativity. I don’t know for sure, but what I learned last night at the convention about what she’s done for Education, the prison system, and justice in general, I am very firmly WITH HER.

I have friends and family members who keep talking about getting rid of the two-party system. Perhaps that’s true – I don’t have a lot to say about it at this time. I do agree that our Republican nominee scares the daylights out of me, as do all his followers. I never thought there was so much racism and hate until his campaign shined the light on it. I’m not sure what the future holds for elections and party systems, but for now, until I see it otherwise proven, I am and will remain a Democrat. As long as I’m represented by kind, caring, wise, strong, change-making candidates, I’m here.

Hometown Tourists -Walking In L.A.

Posted on

I have lived in the greater Los Angeles area for 24 years. When I was younger and single, every now and then I’d do a touristy thing with friends, but for the most part, we worked and then we went to the beach or to hang out or dance at clubs or go shopping.

Once we were married, we did a few touristy things, like the Huntington Gardens, but honestly – not much.  “The Internet” wasn’t available as a quick source to find things to do, and I didn’t have a social media outlet that would let me see what cool things friends were doing that would give us ideas.

Now, with all of the above, and more (podcasts, vacation advisor sites, etc), we see things to do in our own area that we never knew existed. So, now every once in a while (especially during the summer), we find touristy things to do around L.A.

On Sunday we headed to the MOCA – Grand Ave. (Little did I know when I Googled “MOCA” that there would be so many options to choose from. What I didn’t realize was that it was so close to Angel’s Flight. I’m still waiting for them to open it again, and am so saddened at how horrible the stairs next to it have gotten – urine smell, what I think was human feces. Come on, Los Angeles… why is our city so horribly dirty? 😦


I enjoyed a lot of the art in the MOCA. This one in particular stood out to me. “Hourglass on legs” made a statement to me as a woman. THIS is what society wants from us. To be nothing more than an hourglass on legs. We are so much more.


We walked a few blocks to a bookstore I’d heard about through friends on facebook, honestly.

We saw these cool Metro run bikes that you can rent to ride around the city. What a great idea.


The bookstore was neat, but hotter than hot, as there was no air conditioning. There was a cool little knitting room, but sadly their collection of knitting books was paltry. (and no, they didn’t have my book, nor ANY of my knitting friends’ books)

We enjoyed the museum and the bookstore, but as a whole, L.A. can be overwhelming and depressing. We have been to other big cities – Denver, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City… none of those are as dirty or smelly as L.A. and none of them makes me more nervous than walking in L.A. can, depending on the day.

The next day the kids and I went to Griffith Park to do some sightseeing. We went looking for Bronson Caves (aka the Batcave from the Adam West tv series). There are no real signs letting you know, and there are lots of signs like these:


Luckily, there were other people we could ask and we finally figured it out.


Heading up, it was a short, 10 minute walk.



Can you picture the Caped Crusaders pulling out of this cave in the Batmobile?


The boy found higher ground.



Once out of the cave, turn left and you’ll see the Hollywood sign.


And just outside the cave are these rocks.


After the caves, my youngest daughter had found some photos of “neat parks” and steered us to a place called “Shane’s Inspiration” that is a playground for kids of all abilities.


I read while they played.

It happened to be right next to the carousel, which the girls wanted to ride. My son isn’t a fan of carousels, but he went so that the girls would walk up to the old abandoned zoo, which he wanted to visit.


Happy girls.


He is not amused.


It turns out this is the very spot Walt Disney thought up Disneyland. I had read it before, but had forgotten.

We had lots of fun in the cages at the old zoo.

While Los Angeles has its ups and downs, it does have some great gems to visit if you have time. Wherever you live, I’m sure you can find gems of your own, and be a tourist in your own hometown.


Leaving L.A. for Another Planet

Posted on
Leaving L.A. for Another Planet

Today, thanks to the suggestion (and urging) of our son, we headed up to another world to hike at Vasquez Rocks. We’ve been there once before, 3 years ago.

This time, we left pretty early in the morning to beat the heat. We weren’t the first ones there.


The sky is unreal

There were two photo shoots/ filming happening, so we headed in the other direction. At first, it seemed we were headed far from any cool rock formations.


But there were a few…


These rocks looked otherworldly to me – as if they really could be on a different planet than Earth. I suppose this is why it made for an excellent other planet in Star Trek.IMG_1564


I love that they walk like this, still.

Even the flowers look alien.


My older daughter needed to stop, because she felt “a rock” in her shoe… turns out it was an actual rusty nail. Thankfully, after a thorough inspection of her foot to make sure it didn’t break the skin, she was fine, and we were back on our way.IMG_1586



We went up and down and around and finally came back toward the rocks we remembered.


The boy wanted to climb.IMG_1619

So they climbed. I was very content to stay down below.IMG_1624

Until I wasn’t.


Once we were up top, we enjoyed the view, then headed down another side (the easier side!) and the kids found themselves some comfy little holes.


I tried to find some Zen (with a little help).IMG_1655

They boy found his Zen as well.IMG_1660

Going down was much easier than getting up!


We saw a couple (?) who were taking photos in their Trek outfits. (Yes, those are the same outfits my husband and I own, thankyouverymuch.)IMG_1670

Good-bye, Vasquez Rocks…. for now.IMG_1673