Gender Norming Texas? Style

Two Saturdays ago we took a trip to Academy for running shoes (for Rob) and a ballet skirt (for Nina). Ione made a bee line for the pink crossbows and rifles. I rushed to my phone to share, but realized this might only be disconcerting to me. Always room to be surprised at new target markets my children are. We didn’t buy the crossbow or the rifle, but is there a productive question or thought provoking activity to begin the critical analysis of gendered norms with a 2 year old? What would you do? Say?

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Things I’ve learned in Texas

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1. The best thing to do with green peaches is peel, cut and toss them with olive oil, salt, sugar, pepper and chopped mint.
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2. The only thing you should be doing from 1pm-5pm is playing in water on the porch in your diaper under the fan.
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3. Best place to spy on novice ballerinas is Ballet Austin Saturday mornings downtown.
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4. It’s really hard and scary to take 4 children under 8 years old to a wall to wall candy store. Be ready to break large lollipops by accident and five finger/sample something like loose salt water taffy or bulk candy unintentionally.

Getting Ready, Getting Excited…Getting Scared?!

20140805-221038-79838743.jpgI’ve been working feverishly on syllabi and thinking about all the interesting ideas, activities, and projects I want to engage students in over the coming semester. All that being said, I look at my notes and my documents and my designs and feel overwhelmed with all the new I’m going to be learning along with all the new faces and places I’m going to be meeting and exploring. It is all I can do to keep myself from sitting on the couch and staring into space at all the new.

I suppose this is the month out/night before school jitters that I’ve learned to expect and almost appreciate. Once I get in the swing of things, kinks will work out, surprises will emerge, and there will be a new beginning again. If only I could keep all that perspective at the forefront of my thoughts enough to quiet them and capture a worker-bee-like buzz.

Things I do to chill myself out in these moments of pre-semester jitters:

1. Log in to Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp.

2. Check texts, email & write friends about totally unrelated writing, research, and life projects.

3. Blog.

4. Review a new book I’d like to use.

5. Make todo lists of tiny things I can do to move forward when I’m overwhelmed or brain dead.

6. Search for chocolate.

7. Calendar things.

8. Go to bed.

9. Take a shower.

10. Go for a run.

Facebook Empty

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Facebook on my iPhone was my cigarette. Maybe it was the way my life had been diced into tiny bits for work, family, and self-care, but it had taken over all the in-betweens. At red lights I found myself checking. Walking to school pick up, I found myself checking. Moving around I found myself thinking about what people would think if I snapped a shot of my kid’s creepy drawing all over her belly and her nipples with a red marker or a Grandma Rambo Grambo poster in a neglected Staten Island pizzeria. I imagined Facebook friends’ comments before they’d even happened, carrying their cyber voices around in my life, living in a real-virtuality that gave me periodic twitches and more opportunities to slip away from writing, grading, cleaning, driving, sleeping, hanging out.

Toward the end of May, I noticed some friends posting a lot, maybe too much? It gave me that sad feeling. The same sad empty feeling I’d get after checking my account 5 times in 2 hours. It was the beginning of the summer. Time was opening up. I could see it and I could see it gone.

The fear of the Facebook vacuum sucking my soul and my summer up slipped into my dreams and into my shower the next morning as I hatched a plan. I turned off the water, quickly dried off and hunted for my phone. My finger weighed on the tiny app icon and I watched it jiggle. The x popped up. One tiny tap and poof! I felt the fear rise, the summer open up, and the warm blanket of time and possibility seep into my shoulders.

Facebook was still there and it was still a cigarette, but I’d flushed my pack down the toilet and exchanged it for those moments when you bum one from a friend or snag one quiet moment away from the storm.