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Remembering the Why

 When you’ve taught at the same community college for 11 years you often wonder after your students graduate, did I make a difference?

I mean it’s one thing to meet the student learning outcomes, but it’s quite another to instill the idea of life long learning and it’s also difficult but so necessary at the community college level to explain to students—especially those moms who’ve been in the workforce awhile and are going to college for the first time in their 30s–that they can do it.

Such was the case of Dawn who I had as a student somewhere around 2011. We surprised each other the other day as I had to come in to the health department for a routine TB test for work and she was the one reading my test. She had her own office even.

Beaming with pride. Both of us.  

We both cried.

She made it to the other side. She was the first one in her family to go to school and she paved the way. Her three kids are now also in college.

There were hugs and tears all the way around. Yesterday as I was driving to the Bay Area I had one of those imposter syndrome moments of self-doubt.  There are people I respect and admire who have signs for my opponent in their front lawns. They are of course not clued in with the college and are casting their votes with the establishment regardless of my experience or credentials or the issues. They are voting out of pressure to conform.

Yesterday I drove to San Francisco International airport and back to pick up my mother as she returned home from a trip to Boston. Long drives give you too much time to think.

I took a deep breath on the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday. I had to ask myself again—why am I running? Last year when I thought about it I tried to find other people to run and everyone I encouraged turned around and told me I was the best person for the job. I should do it.

Dawn said my class in 2011 is what kept her going. My reading assignments and my encouragement. It sounded like she couldn’t let me down by not keeping to her goals. She kept them and more so.

This morning as we were all hugs and tears I realized that Dawn—and all the students like Dawn—are what keep me going.  I’m in this race because I want the best possible educational experience for students like Dawn and her family. I want them  to know that the homegrown Plumas County citizens who were told college wasn’t for them—have a right to it—and that they can achieve no matter what age they are and how much money they don’t have.

The opportunity for college should belong to all of us. The chance to run for office should also belong to all of us.

I chose the right slogan for the campaign. Putting the community back in community college.

Thanks for the reminder this morning, Dawn, that despite not being an elite member of the political good ol boys network of Plumas County? I belong too.

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beauty and fashion

I (try) to Sing the Body Electric…

I (want) to celebrate the me, not yet to come, but the one who is here now who has had a long journey and is a bit tired and always slightly uncomfortable with the way I look.

I always think I’m taller (I’m 5’4″). I always think my eyes are less squinty than they really are (slightly cross eyed–it’s a family trait). But above all there’s my mom body. I was never a thin person nor did I care to necessarily be one. I don’t mind my hips or thighs or breasts or any other areas people complain about. I’m not sure that I love them–I’m not an overzealous person like that.

But I really appreciate the body positivity movement and the women larger than I that have the ovaries to put it all out there. I have the social conditioning of ‘but what if my grandmother sees this?’ that keeps me from doing such things. Sin Verguenza!

But I am envious of that sort of nerve, that sort of power of not giving a shit. I’m writing a book about it after two years of research on the topic. Throwing the Curve, it’s called. I’ve done about a dozen photo shoots now since I started the book. I’ve gotten more confident with myself and my image–even though I look like me.

Another thing throwing me is weight loss. I spent 2016-2017 on book writing hiatus because I was leaving my husband of 14 years instead. That in and of itself is an all consuming job. And we have teenagers who turn into asses frequently which is another full time job. With the depression that comes with knowing your life must change and not having a clue how to best go about it, I did two things: Some days I ate too much; most other days I didn’t eat at all.

And then people would say how great I looked what’s my secret? And I would say depression and divorce. Oh.

They don’t want to hear that. They want to hear about a fat girl’s new found appreciation for diets created by thin people and an adherence to thin people’s exercise regiment. They don’t want to hear that you were a vegetarian for 25 years and know a good deal about food and that you already exercise every day–you just added depression and divorce for that added temporarily gaunt look.

Well then…I met someone. And I’m not depressed and the divorce is final on July 12. And the kids would be asses anyway at their age. And I have good work to do, a play to produce, writing projects and the only thing that depresses me now is the Trump Administration and its crimes against humanity and the environment.

I still don’t know how I feel about my mom body. I’m still trying to embrace this idea about being comfortable with aging. I feel like Gen Xers just don’t buy into the idea of having to dress a certain way at a certain age. Be respectable. Etc.

So this was one from one of my last shoots. There are more of course but this one I really like. It’s the most like me I’ve ever been in a shoot. Minimal make up. Minimal hair. Me. I want to sing the body electric. Right now I’m clearing my throat and the first notes are whisper singing out of my mouth.

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My 4 Days in a Fire Look Out

Back in September I spent four days in a Mountain Look Out. I wrote about it here:

Black Mountain Look Out. I would do that trip again in a heart beat!