Thursday, March 17, 2011


Lately I have been struggling... things are falling apart. I found out today that the 15 credits I managed to fit in between working full-time, having a baby, a marriage, and a divorce in the last five years now only count for a "good for you."  Like many beginning teachers, I am struggling financially. I never wanted to admit it thinking I could fix it. I've cut things out, neglected to buy new clothes, and shamefully relied on my family. So much for a professional. I don't know what to fix anymore. I don't know what do duct tape. I am starting to abandon hope that I will ever get out of this mess since Walker's bill has frozen my pay, and the new deductions out of my check for insurance and pension will put me at less than what I made my first year teaching. Despair. There is no other word for it.

I got my tax return. It was a bright spot. I had planned to get a new computer since mine is 7 years old and sloow. And then between gas prices, Andy breaking the bows off my glasses, and having to break a window to get into my own house after locking myself out while fixing the sump pump hose.. it's pretty much gone. Everything is breaking before I can even fix one thing. I can't find a way out of my morass of monetary issues anymore.I feel... stupid and betrayed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


In the theme of 'ability words, I first have to say that I was feeling some irritability after I finished this blog over several hours, having to come back to it and then losing it when I hit publish at the end after not saving it. Anyways....Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vulnerable as "1. capable of being physically, 2. emotionally wounded or open to attack or damage." Vulnerability has been pervading through my psyche as of late. Over a year ago, I went through a marital-exodus. It was an exodus insignificantly along the lines of Moses (but much less Charleton Heston-y) in that I felt oppressed and I was letting this "marriage" go. There was nothing dignified left to save, just as the slaves in Egypt left little behind to travel into the desert with Moses, although they sure complained a lot. Freedom sometimes has a price in creature-comforts. Anyways, I'm sure they complained as they felt vulnerable. I too have felt vulnerable at times, but have found comfort in unity.

I have lost my sense of vulnerability when experiencing a new religion first-hand by sharing that experience with others.

I pushed aside vulnerability in exchange for trust in a relationship where I am bonded not only through similar interests and passions, but also from the same viewpoint of what it is like to be on the other side of infidelity. Entering through that door of vulnerability first has put me in a new place of trust, love, and companionship that I thought I would never know. I have met his family and known exactly how he feels when he sits with mine.

When the "news" sources called teachers "lazy, greedy, and slobs" I felt vulnerable and sought out company, and found strength. Strength not only in my fellow teachers, but multiplied exponentially by the smiles and words of municipal workers, firefighters, law enforcement, roadcrew, and private sector unions like plumbers, electricians, nurses, boilermakers, journeymen, etc.

So when you feel vulnerable at the party, find the other person standing alone in the corner with their drink, or have one and sing a karaoke solo on your own. Remember that on the first day of school, everyone is nervous (including the teacher), so smile knowing you aren't alone. When you are uncomfortable, unless you are a defendant on trial, chances are someone else in that room is just as vulnerable as you. There is comfort in unity and strength in numbers. Know that when any one person is vulnerable to attack, there are people in your corner to ice your cuts or at worst, catch you if you get knocked down.

And I write this today for the first time alone in my house, but not feeling alone at all.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Most of you know I am a word nerd. In bridging with last post Availability I would like to continue with other 'bility words. I'm open for suggestions too.

In Scott Walker's recent promotions (or defensive speeches) on behalf of his budget bill he continually speaks of giving municipalities "tools" and "flexibility" to balance their own budgets. In reality he would like to shove the problem of the debt of the state down to the municipalities and in order for his (hopefully short) history as governor he would like to be remembered as the man who decreed that no taxes should be raised anywhere in our great state under his reign, not even if the local governments would wish to do so.

The only way that teachers could receive any increase in their pay is through a referendum, and even if said referendum should pass, the teacher's raise would be limited to no more than an increase equal to that of the consumer price index (inflation). As I have said before, if this bill were to pass, that means that every teacher you know stands no hope of ever improving their standard of living. As far as district compensation goes, anything that stands would be up in the air.

Our districts and municipalities will have their hands tied, the left hand of collective bargaining tied to the right hand of no tax levies, behind their backs with duct tape, while strapped to the chair of relentless public criticism. There are four legs on that chair: cutting of services, economic deterioration in loss of capital spent in our communities, those who will STILL complain about the fact they pay taxesi, and overall degradation of quality of life.  Where is the flexibility there?

For me the Wisconsin Idea rests on our progressive ideals, education, research, community values, collaboration and ingenuity. These qualities see us through our hardships and are where the true "tools" and "flexibility" lie. Flexibility lies within the people, who will tell you what you think especially if you ask them. We work hard until we are back to where we want to be, and then we celebrate with good food and beer everyone can afford.  Wisconsin is the birthplace of bargaining rights, Fighting Bob, and the farmers who poured milk on the railroad tracks and also drove their tractors around the Bellin building in Green Bay back in the 50s or 60s, stalling traffic, in order to protest for fair milk prices. 

This bill will not allow flexibility for local governments. It is a big government move by an unchecked executive that will bludgeon the middle class and our communities and leave us with wounds that may take decades to heal. Despite the hardships I know this bill would leave us in as a collective people, I have faith that our tool of democracy will give us the flexibility to win our state back from the grips of corporate lobbyists.  I am praying that the overall people will look to their neighbor to see what ravages this bill might bring before they look to corporate sources like Fox News.

I want to know where are my tough Wisconsinites who stand strong through bitter cold Packer games, who know think for themselves with their publicly educated minds, and who know a fear-mongering Joe McCarthy when they see one (Where are those commies, anyway?). Walker is trying to futher tie us down with his threats and fear-mongering of economic calamity if we don't pass his bill. But he is the one who gave the corporations their tax breaks and put us between a rock and a hard place.  That rock climber that ended up between the rock and the hard place ended up cutting his arm off. I'm hoping we have better options. Governor Walker, where are the taxes of mass destruction?

More information and opinions on taxation:


Sometimes you just have to be THERE. Whether you want to or not. And sometimes when you can't be there, it doesn't matter if you wanted to begin with, but you want to be there all the more.

This can be said for our democracy. How many times have people "forgotten" to vote? A real democracy requires participation. Are you sure you aren't available?

Sometimes we are at our jobs but mentally unavailable. There is simply too much going on in our lives taking up all the RAM in our smushy, gray servers.  In my kindergarten classroom there is so much stimulus going on sometimes that it is hard to have a coherent thought. (English, Spanish, Spanish, English, phone ringing, being poked in the butt, baño, baño, lunch time, clean up, hurry up, HURRY UP!)

I want to salute the Democrats in the state assembly. When King Scott tried to keep everyone out, they moved their desks out to the Capitol lawn in winter, so they could still meet with constituents, at a time when their constituents need to be heard more than ever.  They are making themselves available in very adverse conditions. They are listening through all the noise.