It’s Easy to not be a F$ck Boy

“Ahh the struggle to not be a f$ck boy”

Three different men have said some version of this to me in the past year, and I want to make something very clear.

IT IS SO EASY TO NOT BE A F$CK BOY

Here’s how:

1. Do some introspection and figure out how your feeling and what you’re looking for out of a relationship with someone, sexual or otherwise

2. Communicate where you’re at with the partners you are involved with as soon as possible.

3. Be honest especially when it is clearly requested

Now, I haven’t read enough bell hooks to give you a dissertation, BUT I know she’s done some talking about forth wave feminism and how it’s time for us to teach men and boys emotional literacy.

I am sorry that society has taught y’all masculinity is unwavering strength and limited emotions.

It’s the truth. We have to do some work in that department. I do what I can to help young boys learn to express and work through their emotions while teaching, but how are we supposed to address this epidemic with grown men?

I don’t know the answer, but men, y’all need to start working on it, because your partners and friends deserve it.

Y’all go listen to Amanda Seales’ podcast Small Doses. She has an episode calles “Side Effects of Being a F$ck Boy” that can begin your education.

Really just listen to anything by her.

And be kind to your people

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Transitions

Transition times at preschool, like between outside time and snack or between circle time and activities, are the most stressful points in the day for most of the students. “Hey lady, I’m enjoying my applesauce squeezy bag. Why the hell would I want to go outside?”

I went to a training about discipline and ways to work with difficult behaviors in students. One of the ways the trainer suggested preventing troublesome behaviors was to ring a bell or give some kind of warning to students that a transition was going to happen in a certain amount of time so that they would be able to prepare mentally for the shift.

I tried it. It worked, but it made me think about adults and how we react to transitions in our lives. What if someone rang a bell and said in a soothing tone, “In three minutes your girlfriend is going to break up with you,” or “In five minutes the restaurant where you’re working is going to get slammed.”

Maybe it wouldn’t actually make it better, but you’d have an extra few minutes to think about it and prepare a reaction.

We ring the bell for ourselves sometimes. “In 2 months you’re going to graduate from college and your safety net is going to magically disappear.” “You have to leave for work in 10 minutes or you’re going to be late.”

But sometimes we  can’t ring the bell and before we know it life is jerking us away from that apple sauce sqeezy bag and throwing us out the door, and it takes months to settle back down outside.

and that’s okay. 3 or 30 transition are difficult, and they’re a regular part of our lives. We just need to build in more bells… and have more apple juice squeezy bags.

From the train

A journal entry from about a month ago.

Train travel is more human than taking a plane. What would’ve been a three and a half hour flight spitting the passengers out at a three hour time difference clear across the country turns into a 44 hour trip slowly introducing us to new landscapes and time adjustments. People are able to move around, but we all have our home base seats, and even though I’m on for the entire ride, I’ve met people in the observation car that have hopped off along the way.

Chic farmer man has sheep and goats outside of Portland. He and his son are traveling back from visiting family in upstate New York. He talked on the phone about gifting pumpkins to everyone he knows and reacting with nothing but love. His military style jacket, build, and demeanor told me there was a time that he didn’t have the choice to do so.

B has been a massage and occupational therapist at the same hospital for 43 years. She’s on her way to visit her oldest brother on their family farm. We stayed up late having the god talk while I crocheted a hat and she appliqued the corner of a quilt. She’s waiting on god to speak to her. I told her I don’t believe in a god that speaks. We talked about friendship, soul searching, the importance of how we spend our years, and how she thinks more carefully about hers as she approaches 70 after being hit by a 90,000 pound dump truck a few years ago. “Making choices on borrowed time.” She hopped off at 6 this morning.

C is headed to harvest sugar beets in Montana. He has blue streaks in his hair that match his nails, a genuine smile, round glasses, and a jacket that says “hustler” in curly font. He’s based out of New Orleans and wondered if he’d have anything to come back to after managing the trash and recycling at state fairs and music festivals in New York this year. He almost fought a little girl after she stole his stuffed mouse while he was sleeping last night. We played a few games of rummy before he hopped off around 11 this morning.

S is in charge of my car. He immigrated from Chile to Anchorage Alaska as a teenager before he could speak English. He took what was supposed to be a summer job with an airline after high school and fell in love with the travel. When the airport cut workers in anchorage, he moved to Miami then found himself in Seattle and said it was his “happy medium.” He’s based there now and switched from airlines to trains in May of last year. We talked about global warming and how he watched a glacier disappear.

 

 

We’re traveling through North Dakota now. About half way through the trip to Seattle. We’re driving past ramshackle houses, oil fields, mansions, and pumpkin patches. All the fall yellows are present spotting the rolling hills and plains. It’s like a mixture of Kentucky and Kansas.

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On Graduating from Berea College

This time last year, I was having a mental breakdown. I was depressed and stricken with anxiety about what I was going to do when I left Berea College, one of the best colleges in the south. I knew I didn’t want to jump into a “real” job, and I had bought plane tickets to go to Ireland for three months with no job secured there.

I received $50 for graduation, and my parents didn’t give me any money for this, but now, almost a year after graduation from Berea, I have visited Ireland, Morocco, Spain, Guatemala, and Mexico. I’ve had 9 different paying jobs in 5 different cities, and I’ve volunteered in three different countries. I’ve cooked, farmed, traveled, reconnected, taught, and been REALLY financially broke.

Some of my biggest worries have came true. I moved in with my mom to save money for my travels, and slept on several friends’ couches. My bank account was completely empty for an entire month. I’m in debt, BUT my life is going wonderfully. I’m HAPPY I’m fulfilling dreams and goals I set for myself a long time ago. I’m working my ass off and still searching for my purpose. I’m still uncertain about what is to come or what I should be doing, but everything is okay and working out just fine.

I’m back in Kentucky now, after living in Guatemala for the past three months, working on a farm and loving life. While traveling, I talked to my friends from Berea every week, and we still support each other now that I’m living in Paint Lick 10 minutes away. So, what I’m saying is, it’s okay to worry and freak out pre-graduation  and after graduation, but it’s also important to know that everything will work out, especially if you treat people with respect and kindness.

If you survived Berea, you can survive the real world, as ugly and surprising as it is if you move back to your small Appalachian town after living with like minded individuals for 4 years. Stay open minded, and keep the past four years with you.

 

Month 3- Time to go

When I received the offer to return to Guatemala last November, it was a no brainer for me. I hadn’t been able to forget this magical country since I left in 2015. Plus, Trump had just become president of my country. I wanted to stay far away from that mess. The work sounded great, and it has been… mostly.

My Spanish is better than it has ever been. I saw myself transform into a pretty decent teacher. I made connections with teenagers and other teachers that are going to change Guatemala for the better, but it’s time for me to go.

There are several reason that I won’t go into now, but I still think Guatemala is a very special place and firmly believe that if this country changes, it will be changed by Guatemalans, not outsiders such as myself.

It’s time for me to go home now, and start working to make Kentucky and the US a better place. Running away from a terrible leader helps no one. I have several projects in the works that I’ll announce when they become more solid, but for the next few months at least, I’m going back to cooking and working outside.

Posada Abuelito & San Cris

I’ve stayed in many hostels during my travels, some better than others, but Posada Abuelito here in San Cristobal de las Casas is definitely in my top three. To me, there are three categories that make a great hostel: friendly and helpful local staff, clean and relaxing facility, and guests that are friendly and respectful travelers. It’s really hard to get all three in one hostel, but Posada Abuelito has done it. I’ve had wonderful conversations here with people from all over the world, and the staff is from San Cristobal. They know the city and have tips on what to do. The breakfasts in the morning are also delicious.

San Cris is a great place to visit on a budget. I was there four days. In that time, I stayed at the hostel, went to a yoga class, ate several meals at expensive restaurants, and bought a couple of craft pieces from the market. I spent less than $100.

I went on a “free” walking tour that leaves from the giant cross in the main square everyday at 10 am, and I suggest it. It was three and a half hours long. We went all around the city and learned a bit about history and current events as well as going to coffee, soup, and pox (a local liquor) tastings. It was interesting and definitely worth the 50 pesos I paid. Like most “free” things I’ve encountered as a tourist there was a healthy amount of pressure to purchase products from the places we stopped and a “minimal tip” of 20 pesos, but it was still a great deal.

My short trip to San Cris and all of the wonderful people I met there definitely inspired me to travel around more of Mexico in the future, but for now, I’m happy to be back in Guatemala

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Day 1: This trip is going better than I could have possibly hoped. I didn’t have to take a bus all the way from Huehuetenango, because my lovely friend Claudia and her mom were traveling to Comitan, the half way point, anyway. We easily found a bus, and, because I thought ahead, when I arrived in San Cris, I easily walked to my hostel.

I had a terrible lunch, but I met several lovely people. In the evening, I went to the best yoga class of my life. I entered a vegan restaurant, walked to the back, and climbed through a tunnel of jasmine to find kind smiling faces. I hadn’t practiced in three months, and I though I would vomit several times, but it was a spiritual and grounding experience.

So far, San Cris has taught me how good my Spanish has become, and I’m really proud of myself for that.

 

Month 2

3/5

There’s something about living abroad that constantly reminds me that I’m a foreigner. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe it’s constantly being called gringa and extranjera in the street, or maybe it’s that I struggle to speak the language. Either way, this feeling has caused me to be incredibly timid. I’ve felt a fear of being alone and independent here in Guatemala that I’ve never felt anywhere else.

Today, I was on the phone with my mom, and I was telling her about my fear of traveling alone to Mexico at the end of the month. She said, “What has happened to you? You’re a total bad ass in the United States! Why are you letting Guatemala beat you down?” Conversations like these are why  it’s important to talk to your mother regularly.

My loss of bravery has dampened my effectiveness as a teacher and impacted my day to day life. It took me a week to muster up to courage to go to the mall by myself. What if I took the wrong bus? What if someone stole my bags? I have NEVER worried about these things anywhere else. I’ve always been an “everything works out” kind of thinker, but I suppose you have to hit the other extreme to find balance, or at least I do.

I have also been sick three times in the past two months. I’m thankful for a support system that has helped me to get to the doctor, buy medicine, and take a day off when I’ve needed it, but with the amount of work I have, I can’t really take a whole day off. The sicknesses are pushing me towards learning how to do things faster and being more diligent in my work.

So, this month, Guatemala taught me caution and diligence, and in the coming month, I hope to regain confidence in myself and my ability. I hope that Guate doesn’t teach the next lesson in such difficult ways.

To end on a high note, my students are amazing and show me so much love. When I have low days, interacting with them brings me up. One of my fifth graders gave me a valentine on the 14th, and it made my whole week.

Guatemalan Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • purchased at a grocery store with a wandering armed guard
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 over ripe banana
    • Purchased a week ago from the lady at the market that sold me a dozen for about a dollar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
    • I am so against using margarine, but it is the cheapest and most accessible option for me right now. Butter is triple the price and I have to walk about a mile to get it. Not suitable for late night cookie needs.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
    • That I had to purchase at the pharmacy where they keep it behind the counter and take your name down to purchase. Wonder why…
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup peanuts minced
    • Because peanut butter is expensive, and I can found a pound of peanuts for about a dollar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • Taken from the two pounds I also bought at the pharmacy. They’re more like chips pretending to be chocolate, because the real thing was the equivalent of $10.

Combine sugars, butter, banana, vanilla, egg and salt. Then add flour and baking soda slowly. Finally, add chocolate chips and peanuts. Grease a sheet and place cute little balls of dough on there. Stick it in your oven a temp that feels right. There’s no numbers on my oven, and watch them. If they get fluffy and stay fluffy, you’ve done it right. If they fall flat, you probably did something wrong, but who knows really?

Eat cookies until you feel satisfaction. I suggest no more than three.

By the River

“Why are there flowers by the water,” I ask even though I know the answer. I asked her the same thing two years ago. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear the words twice. People put the bouquets next to the river to thank god for the water, to ask for rain, and in remembrance of loved ones passed. “All of the agriculture depends on this,” she says after explaining one more time and gesturing to the turquoise blue water pooling in between and running over moss covered rock. I can see steps reminiscent of the ones I’ve seen at the ruinas peaking out of the shinny slime, and I imagine Mayan people washing their clothes, gathering, and playing here centuries before just as they are now. Bright colors of huipils and soda bottles reflect off the clear water as I watch a man jump off a rock into the cold water. I consider doing the same.

While I drove up the dirt road to Rio Blanca with my two friends, I allowed my eyes to momentarily wander to admire the beautiful fields separated by aqueducts carrying water from the rivers inward, irrigating fields of white cloth covered tomatoes, garlic, onion, radish, and more. I haven’t seen rain since I left the United States. The curling leaves on the lemon trees in my backyard beg for it, and I could use a cleansing rinse myself. I studied sustainable agriculture in college, but this type of irrigation is by necessity not trying to spare resources for later. The beauty of theories in practice successfully as they’ve been working for years and years carries my mind to Berea and back quickly to avoid a motorcycle in my path.

Aguacatan’s rivers allowed me to pretend I was at Norris Dam, and it’s mountains brought back visions of Colorado in the summer time. I’m not missing the US, though. Just the people I love there. Maybe it’s the weekend jaunts, coffee dates, or community, but I’m feeling accustomed to my new life right about now.

(1 month & 1 week)