Proudest Moment of Teaching all Year, reposted from FB

My proudest moment of teaching all year: Today, after my first class had finished up, "Johnny" kept poking at and tickling the girl sitting next to him. She kept asking him to stop, and he wouldn't, despite my having redirected him a couple of times. Johnny said, "I want to handcuff you and tickle you until you scream," and then said, "What? What, Ms. Judi? Why you making that face?"

I said, "Your last comment made me feel very uncomfortable, Johnny."

He said, "What? I didn't say anything wrong."

I explained, "Johnny, when you say to a woman who says 'No' to you that you're going to restrain her with handcuffs and touch her without her permission until she screams, that sounds really rape-y to me."

"Naw! Ms. Judi, that's all messed up!" Johnny protested. "I didn't mean it that way; it's like on TV when a guy and a girl are having fun together."

I said, "On TV, Johnny, you're seeing a fantasy. If BOTH partners consent, it's all cool. But every person deserves to have what we call BODY AUTONOMY. That means, you have a say in who touches you, in what medical procedures happen to you, how far you're willing to go. In my family, if someone says 'Stop tickling,' we do, because consent is important to fun. If it's all fun for you, and not for your partner, you aren't listening to her needs, and you're being entitled. You only care about yourself in a narcissistic way."

Johnny said, "But she and I are cool, aren't we girl?" The girl raised her head, and looked uncertain.

I said to the girl, "Is this where you get to say, 'It's okay, Ms. Judi,' to spare his feelings, or to keep him from targeting you again?" She opened her mouth and shut it. "Answer me this: Did you in fact tell Johnny 'No' to being touched and tickled?"

"Yes," whispered the girl.

"Did you mean it?" I prodded.

"Yes," she said, more strongly.

"Did you say 'No," because you secretly wanted him to keep tickling you?" I asked.

"I said 'No' because I didn't fucking want him to fucking touch me again!" she suddenly snarled. "But it doesn't matter anyway, because he's going to do whatever the fuck he wants anyway no matter what I say!"

I turned back to Johnny. "And here, sir, is the crux of the problem. You didn't listen to her, and made her feel she had to take whatever you dished out."

"Oh. My. God. Why are we even talking about this?" exclaimed Johnny, angry and upset.

"Johnny, you asked me, and I'm answering, and I think you're a nice guy that NEEDS to hear this. Because you're big, and male, and 'just joking,' you get away with pushing boundaries again and again and again, which undermines each time a woman says 'No' to you. If you don't respect her bodily autonomy when she says no tickling, or no touching, or to leave her alone, then will you respect her saying no when she doesn't want to hug, or kiss, or get it on after a date, or when she says no but she's been drinking? The pattern is the same. And NOT respecting her boundaries means you think that women are for your use, property, to be used and discarded and who cares who is hurt as long as YOU have fun and enjoy yourself. There's the connection to rape. The mindset builds up from all the hundreds of times little boys kissed a cute girl or pinched her, or tickled her when she wanted to be let be, and someone gushed, 'boys will be boys,' or 'that's how he shows he likes her,' whether or not SHE wanted the attention."

"So, I'm never allowed to tickle again, is that what you're saying?" Johnny said sarcastically.

"No, I'm asking you to LISTEN to what SHE says about her comfort level. If you tickle a girl and she laughs, and says something like, 'Oooh! I'll get you back!' that's an invitation. If she says 'Stop it, I don't feel like this right now," I expect that you pay attention to what she wants, or doesn't. Respect her bodily autonomy."

Johnny stared at his desk. I said, "Thank you for listening to what I had to say. You've always been respectful to me in my classroom, even when you're mad at me. I'm asking you to extend that respect, and courtesy to the women of your age, too."

Class ended. They went out. All the girls of the class lingered a moment. "Thank you," said one. "I hadn't heard that thing about bodily autonomy before. This was like, better than one of our groups." The girl who'd sat next to Johnny said, "I wasn't going to make it out to be a big deal, but I was fed up with him today. Thank you. I hope he isn't an asshole about it though, I can't handle that today."

And I went on teaching my other classes. But right before lunch, in the hall, something happened.

A boy from a different class started an argument with his girlfriend, because she wouldn't hug him as they passed one another. "What? You're my girl and you won't give me any sugar?" and he grabbed her wrist.

Before ANY staff could react, Johnny was right there. "Yo, bro. That ain't cool. If she doesn't want to hug right now, that's on her. You got no call to get mad at her. You don't own her ass, or her. She gets to decide if she feels like hugging you, kissing you, whatever. It's called BODILY AUTONOMY, asshole."

"I take what I want," said the boy.

"What? You some kind of rapist that you gotta TAKE what you want? No wonder she don't want to hug you if you won't take NO for an answer!" Johnny said scornfully. "What else you gonna TAKE from her? Her dignity? Her body? Her feelings of safety? You supposed to PROTECT your girl, not MAKE her do shit."

The boy, noting all the sudden attention, drops the girl's arm. He muttered, "Yeah, whatEVER, man," and walked away.

And I caught Johnny's eye, and I said, "Thank you for listening to me this morning, and really considering what I said. You've made me really proud of you today."
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Kitty Update:

A week later, Harley is doing much better.

The antibiotics have done their job.  The bite wounds have closed, and the flea irritations all over her body have scabbed over and subsided.  She's using her litterbox, and is resistant to taking her medicine, and tries to get out of the bathroom.

She's eating and drinking.  And, she'll jump up into my lap when I come in to spend time with her, and sprawl bonelessly across my lap, kneading her paws as I brush her or pet her.

I have my kitty back.

And I am so happy!

Most Dangerous Game Lesson

I've been doing my start-of-the-year survival unit.  It has stories in it in which people die (Welcome to high school; the stories just got real.)  Having read the story "Most Dangerous Game," I'm having the students view the 1932 film starring Faye Wray, Joel McCrea, and Leslie Banks to do a compare/contrast with decisions in how Zaroff's evil is revealed/foreshadowed in the plot.

So, in the film, Eve Trawbridge and Bob Rainsford have gone into the trophy room, in which they find human heads on the wall, showing that Zaroff kills.  The bad guy enters, so they hide, and Eve bumps into a large glass container, sloshing a head around.  One of my students said at this point, "That must be a jarring experience."  (I'm really going to get along with him.)

Also in the film, there is a character, Eve's brother, who is a silly, simple, drunken man.  His role is to get shot by Zaroff, so we know that the heads aren't fake; the bad guy really is a psychopathic serial killer.  As one of my classes was leaving, a student remarked, "And that is why it is important to be sober before you give consent."

Post Surgery Update June

I gained about eight pounds, and lost them again.  I got through the end of the school year, and all the kids welcomed me back, and that was very nice.  Steps at school were wicked, though, and I tend to stay on one floor when I go places, because they wipe me out big time.

I'm doing mild exercises now, cleared by my surgeon.  I swim a bit, albeit much slower than before.  A distance that took me 20 minutes before now takes me 50 minutes to do.  I walk still.  I can even do uphill slopes now!  If they aren't very steep.  And, I'm doing WiiFit again.  It's really easy to tell that I am weaker - my previous balance and strength scores were in the 80s and 90s, and now they're in the 40s.  And in Yoga, the little red dot is all OVER the place for the standing still parts.  And we're talking standing still and breathing, not even one leg poses, either!  This will let me improve, and see just how much more I'm improving, though.  I have energy, just not a lot of fitness.  This will change!  I must get in shape so I can sign the Pegasus concert by October!

I have not yet gotten back on my bike, but I intend to do so soon.  I have to tune it up a bit, first.  Air in the tires, chain checks, and so on.  I'm looking forward to the bike trail now that more of it is open!

Post surgery Update April

Check in with the surgeon general summary: *Sigh* I'm fine, but not as far along as fast as I'd like, which my surgeon says is normal for someone with diabetes.  She says I'm doing quite well.

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I'm still on track for coming back to school mid-May.

Marcon Managed

I went to my local SF convention, Marcon.  It being Easter weekend, the turnout was quite low, but it was nice to see many friends.  And, in March, which if I remember, is one of the reasons Marcon got it's name oh, so MANY years ago before moving to Memorial Day.  Next year, it will be over Mother's Day in May, which will be closer to "normal" time for the con for me in my head.  It will also give me more spoons to deal with my students at school in their final month before summer vacation!

My buddy Sonia drove me there, and back again, and escorted me about hither and yon.  Her husband Michael Hanes was on a couple of writing panels as a newly published local writer!  I am a bit delighted to note that the calves of my legs are sore from walking about, being a different place to ache a little other than my surgery sites!

I signed Toyboat's Guest of Honor concert.  It was a matter of personal pride for me, because I *always* sign the GOH concert at this, one of my two "home" concerts (the other being the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.)  I haven't missed in over fifteen years, maybe even as long as twenty years.  Last year, I had expected to be away for Easter, and when my mom came to us instead, I dragged her to the con on Saturday, and signed Erica Neely's concert before going off to family stuff again.  This year, recovering from surgery, I knew I had limited spoons, and so I only came on Saturday, and used my spoons to do something I loved.

I was less, well, *bouncy* than usual.  Looking at clips that Teresa put up on FaceBook, I still got the essential bits, though!  "Zombie Mama" was fun, and "This Island Earth" done to the "Time Warp" busted me UP!  The energy from the music and stage carried us all smoothly through to the end, and I had a lovely time.  It made me *so* happy to be able to perform, and with such awesome folks!  Gundo joked that they were just the backup band for me.

And then, I actually followed through on my intentions to take it easy.  It was So. Hard. to not sign Tom Smith's concert after!  (And I wanted to, so much, but I do want to get better.)  I apologized to Tom, who already understood completely.

I did a lot of sitting in the Art Show, after, and did a circuit of the dealer's room.  Dinner was Subway, and some nice dinner fillings at the ConSuite.  I got to tell a couple of people how important small things they have been doing have been to me of late, too.

Tom led a sing-along of all those songs and jingles we knew as kids for us to do together.  It served as a stand-in filk circle for me, because it felt *so* late (8:30 P.M.) by then.  Things like "Rainbow Connection," and "Davy Crockett," and many television theme songs.  The smiles around the room were wonderful.  It was good to see so many of my filking friends.

The hugs and support I got Saturday went a long way toward cheering me up and getting rid of the stuck-in-the-house stir crazies.  And I feel more of myself.

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This morning, I was awakened by a combination of my post-surgery pain meds wearing off, and Sparkle pitching a fit, and the tight, angry, low voice of my darling husband, trying to enforce reason on the family.  Sparkle had invaded her big brothers' room, and had torn apart several things that Dino had made using K'Nex, Legos, or other such put-em-together toys.  Dino had protested loudly, and my darling husband hauled Sparkle out of the room, and she was yowling in protest at being moved.

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I'm still not sure that Sparkle understands it was a comparison, not a threat.  I'm not sure how else I could have handled it, but think it was a fairly good outcome despite my being tired, hungry, and achy when I entered the fray.

Home From the Hospital

I am back home after my surgery on Wednesday.

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It's good to be at home, with my Darling Husband, my mommy, and my kids.  I'm generally okay, but jostling and vibrations tend to send little shock waves through me.  I'm really amazed at just how much better I feel already.  Modern medicine is pretty amazing.

Indian Food Jaunt and Taunt

The sometimes open Indian Food Restaurant near our library was open Friday night when I was returning library books, so I stopped by to get some curried goodness.

Since becoming anaemic, I get cold quite easily, so I had wrapped a bright paisley scarf around my head and neck like a babushka.  I was also wearing my heavy winter coat.  I had ordered and was paying, when a sweet young thing and her teenage beau entered the restaurant.  

She was saying her girlfriend had recommended the place.  The guy, looking at the menu posted up, complained there were no (expletive) beef dishes on the menu, and demanded to know where the beef was.  The girl asked him what he thought he'd order.  He said he didn't (expletive) know, and couldn't order anyway until the rag-headed burqa bitch moved her fat ass out of the way.

I sloooowly turned around, and said in my best schoolteacher voice of scorn, "It isn't a burqa.  It's a parka.  I'm wearing a scarf, and am about as white-bread a person as you'll ever find in an ethnic restaurant.  Indian Hindus don't eat or serve beef for the same reasons Jewish people don't eat pork.  If you're looking for "The Beef," you can find it down the road at Wendy's."

Somewhat to my surprise, the kid didn't say anything back to me.  I got my change, and sat down and waited for my order to be prepared.  The girl ordered (the guy didn't) and they waited in a different part of the dining room.

And, when I got my order, I discovered to my pleasure that my Mango Lassi had been upgraded to the largest size.