Discrimination at the college level

I am so angry I could spit, or fight. In fact, my eyebrow was raised practically the whole afternoon class and the smile on my face was really because my teeth were clenched and I was trying to keep from punching the librarian in the face. And then kicking her in the face when she was down on the ground. Because her treatment of my students was so overly-the-top rude that I cannot let it go and will be speaking to my supervisor about it on Monday.

My students were working on a collaborative assignment facilitated in a computer lab at the college library. When the librarian came in, she was tense already, which is something I’m unacustomed to. Normally all of the staff I’ve met on campus are quite friendly and don’t openly seem to treat my students with disdain. I have to remind myself that the stigma of being a “high school dropout,” or an “at risk youth,” is something these students fight daily. While often annoyed, I am fiercely protective of my students. They are beautiful individuals and should not be shamed or bullied because of some arbitrary rules.

So, the students had been broken up into their groups and were beginning to work on their assignments. One of my students got a phone call, and stood up, saying “hey dad I’m in class, I’m going to have to call you back.” We’ve all been there, right? The awkward phone call where you just have to get off real quick but if you don’t answer you know you’ll be in trouble, or the person will be worried, etc. The librarian FREAKED THE FUCK OUT though. Now, keep in mind, we were not in the middle of the library. We were in a private computer lab. Nor was she presenting. They were working independently. And she didn’t acknowledge that he had turned away from the group (in order to keep it quiet) and had said “dad I need to call you back.” She raised her voice and got in his face saying, “you need to get off the phone. NOW.” and then she repeated herself when he said, “it’s my dad. he’s dying of cancer and he’s in the hospital. I’m telling him I’ll call him back.” She clearly did not listen (or thought he was spinning a story?) and said again, almost shouting, “I SAID GET OFF THE PHONE.”

Incredibly rude.

What’s worse, is this student is on the Autism Spectrum. He has many accommodations, is freaking brilliant and works SO HARD to fit in socially and do “the right thing.” He is super polite and I know that he would never take a call if it weren’t an emergency. By this point (which all happened within 30 seconds), I was up and standing next to him. And she said to me, “they are not allowed cell phones in the library.” And I replied, since he had left the classroom after she directed him to, “he has autism. his dad is dying of cancer. I am aware of the cell phone rule, but he has accommodations that are allowed to him.”

I wanted to punch her. I’m surprised I kept my cool enough, because I was livid. I don’t care if there’s a cell phone rule or not, shouting at someone is NOT the way to handle it. Correcting a student’s behavior has a time and place, and I just know that if he wasn’t seen as an “at risk” student, he would NOT have been yelled at like that. No way. If he was 50, or 25, and talking quietly on his phone? Nope, nobody would yell at him.

And I also wonder.

Was it because he was black? Or because he’s 6’4?

Because I can’t imagine her yelling, in the same fashion, at one of my less intimidating physically white students. Or maybe she would, but even if my student wasn’t black, or on the autism spectrum, or have a dad dying from cancer. But it was rude. And I think it needs to be addressed.

As we walked out of the library, after the presentation, I took him aside and said:

“Hey dude, I just wanted to apologize for how she talked to you. I think it was inappropriate for her to address you that way, and I informed her that you were telling the truth. I sometimes think faculty here profile CEO students and how you were treated was not okay. Just know that I was angry about the situation, and angry on your behalf, because it really wasn’t okay.”

His response? Ever so sweet he said, “thank you Ms. Monk-Monk. I appreciate that. Have a good weekend.”

And he tipped his hat and lumbered off into the rain, all the while lugging his gigantic over sized backpack.

They call them mood swings for a reason…

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Yesterday was amazing. My best mom-friend came and spoke to my classes about her job and how she got into the tech field. Not only was it amazing to spend from 8-4 hanging out with a friend, it was also really nice to have her get to spend time in my world. She got to meet all of the students that I complain brag about daily. And it was so lovely to have her speak to the students and to see  (and read) their reactions to her story. We wanted to inspire and inform them, and it happened exactly how we wanted!

And then, since we carpooled, she got to see our daycare routine and I got to see hers. It was this brilliant exchange of life-experience that made me really happy. Despite my introvertedness, I came home feeling chipper and full of love for my son and my job and life. It was one of those feelings where you think “YES, I got my life together!” and delude your mind into believing that this kind of awesomeness will continue.

But then I woke up today, at 5 am (after only 5ish hours of sleep) and tried DESPERATELY to get Potamus back to sleep. Which means I have very sore not-yet-fully-weaned-but-not-used-to-nursing-for-an-hour-straight nipples. Yeah. I tried for a good hour (off and on). And then we tried watching Handy Manny on our smartphone. And then I tried nursing him some more. Nada. At 7:30 ish we just got up for the day. At which point the dog went insane, chewed up 5 toys, kept barking like a maniac, peed on the floor. And kiddo? All he wanted to eat was cookies. And mandarine oranges. His poor little bum is so raw from his diet of only-oranges. I guess last night all he would eat was french fries and oranges with daddy, and he ate virtually nothing at daycare, so I don’t know if this is just a picky phase or what?

Then my phone did this weird black-screen-of-death thing and I had to go wait at the Sprint store for 45 minutes. And then he nursed for another hour to take a nap. Finally, exhausted, at 1:00 pm we were BOTH asleep in bed together and I did at least get a nap (which doesn’t negate that I got 5 hours of sleep the night before). He tended to be better once he got a nap, but he’s in this phase where he’s really testing boundaries. And I hate enforcing my stern “no hitting the tv table with your hotwheels cars” threat, because then there is tears and hitting me and tantrums. But I’m doing it and trying not to lose my shit.

And thankfully he ate some protein tonight.

So I noticed this morning, that my mood was really surly. I was tired and hungry and hungover from all the awesome of the day before. I wish that I could have hung on to the peaceful post-yoga calm from last night, and the friendship glow from yesterday afternoon. But I didn’t. I was crabby (at least internally) and I was even more annoyed with myself than the annoying things that kept happening around me. Also, my farts smelled really really bad. And that’s never fun.

How quickly my emotions can change. It feels like being on a roller coaster sometimes. And I wish I could just go with it, rather than trying to fight against it, but I rarely do.

Tell me: how do you cope with wildly changing emotions?

What’s your gut trying to say? An exploration of the Solar Plexus Chakra…

Zen Pen’s writing from the body challenge this week is to explore everything related to our Gut, and I’m finding it both challenging and enlightening. I thought that last week’s Heart prompts would be challenging, but not quite like how I’m experiencing the Gut prompts to be. I have been interested in deepening my writing-by-hand practice, but this week’s gut-lesson has felt so very blog-worthy, that I thought I’d share. To begin the lesson Courtney starts off by explaining:

When our solar plexus chakra is out of balance we may experience increased anger, fear, low self-esteem, apathy, resentment, compulsiveness, as well as a variety of unpleasant physical sensations. I think we can all relate to experiencing many of these characteristics and sensations. Perhaps our bodies are trying to speak to us?

Whoa.

That hit me in the gut (pun intended) quite hard. Because, if I were to sum up a chapter of this summer it would be called “Dealing with Angry Monk-Monk.” Though I’d probably use my real name. Unless I was writing an anonymous memoir. But I digress.

It seems that ever since summer started (which also happened to coincide with being off work for a daunting 3 months with kiddo), I have wrassled with my ANGRY side. Some of this anger has been leftover bits (think popcorn kernel STILL in your teeth from the movie you saw a week ago) from childhood that have been coming up and being replayed over-and-over again. I can’t quite shake that angry label I was given as a kid/teen, even though I know that, looking back, I wasn’t actually angry. I was afraid. Afraid and misunderstood.

And that’s often how I feel these days. Misunderstood. Like the whole world is staring at me in puzzled wonderment, on good days, and complete disgusted disdain on others. While I’ve managed to find a few friends, and a partner, who at least tolerate, and even-possibly-dare-I-dream-love, my quirks, there often times when I just feel all alone in this great big world of complexities.

So, I did a little more research on this elusive solar plexus chakra, which, according to one site is:  is a personal power chakra. This chakra helps us to wield our own power. Sounds a lot like internal locus of control if you were to ask me to relate it in terms that I explain to my college students. This idea that things are manifest from within, a lot of personal choice and personal power that propels us forward.

But websites aren’t enough. I prefer hands-on reading material, so I scanned my shelf for Caroline Myss’s Anatomy of the Spirit (one of the few books I’d take to a desert island). Bypassing the first few chapters, I went straight to the Solar Plexus chakra and began reading. And everything began to resonate with me, like:

The solar plexus chakra becomes the dominate vibration in our development during puberty. It assists us further in the process of individuation, of forming a self, ego, and personality separate from our inherited identity.

Holy shit. No wonder I’ve been feeling so blast-from-the-past when experiencing my ANGRY self this summer. That’s when I was labelled angry. As a teenager. And while I don’t want to blame everything in my life on my adoptee status, the fact that I didn’t really know my “inherited identity,” and was trying to individuate to something that wasn’t encouraged (perhaps another blog entry, on the conservative Christian idea of sameness vs. being a rebellious individual). I read somewhere else a few weeks ago, too, that “helplessness leads to feelings of rage,” which all seems to come back to this very idea of my gut center trying to develop as a teenager, but feeling so very caged-coyote-trapped by the constraints put upon me by my parents-as-ambassadors-of-THE-church.

Whoa.

At the end of the chapter on the Solar Plexus Chakra, Caroline Myss asks some questions, one being:

Are you continually wishing your life were different? If so, are you doing anything to change it or have you resigned yourself to your situation?

Now, it seems that she’s trying to get at the idea that the third chakra, when in balance, will spur you toward a more ‘internal locus of control,’ which will help you do something to change a situation. But, in reflecting on some of the earlier summer angst, where I had a hard time shifting, I think that my approach needs to be less fight-against-the-current (especially since this time of my life has certainly been a well informed choice), and more drift with the current, letting the days be how they are because they simply exist this way. Because when I think about that acceptance, that comes from a gut place that says, “yes, this is right. you chose this. rest easy,” the anger melts away.

What’s your relationship with ANGER? Are you constantly wishing your life was different?

(p.s., if you’re interested in joining Zen Pen, a 6 week writing course, Courtney is starting one again on Sept. 30th! I highly recommend it!).

Oh Vulnerable One

Do you ever have moments where you have SO MUCH TO SAY and then you sit down to write and nothing comes out? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s almost like a physical manifestation of anxiety…where I’m anxious about nothing in particular, but it feels like everything, and I can’t articulate what’s exactly going on inside my head.

But I have been writing…a lot more, but it’s been by hand. I’m now 6 days into my 6 week Zen Pen Course, and I am LOVING it! If you were interested in signing up, but hadn’t gotten around to it, she’s going to offer another session starting September 30th…it’s so neat to begin this process. For example, this week I wrote a letter to my abs from my low back. Whoa! So much wisdom when I get out of my head 🙂

Bikram yoga and therapy is helping me relinquish some of the family roles that I’ve been playing into for a long time. The “Angry One” has been able to be the “vulnerable one,” in spurts, which has been able to communicate some needs in a way that is heard differently. Same message, different method, providing different satisfaction. I’ll be interested to see where this goes…

I leave you with this. King of the Naked Chair Sitting…

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Courage to Confession

Sorry I'm a Grumpy Bitch

“It takes a lot of courage, but right now, courage is my only option.”-TLC bride with ovarian cancer

There’s been a lot of dog tail-pulling in the past week. While Potamus has traditionally been really gently with Scrummy, it has become an issue and I am worried that Scrummy might lose his patience and bite Sir Potamus, because, how much tail hair pulling can one little feisty dog take? Apparently, much more than Mama Monk-Monk can, because, while Scrummy was again, VERY patient when Potamus started grabbing his tail hair (and ripping it), I reached over and…hit him.

Just writing that makes my stomach churn. In fact, I wasn’t actually angry with Potamus (a good thing), but the quick hard tap on the shoulder (think pat on the back in a sports team) was startling to BOTH of us, caused Potamus to cry, and made me think “holy shit, I really need to get ahold of myself. I can’t be physically man-handling my child, out of anger or not. This is not the lesson I want him to learn.”

His tears subsided when I pulled him in my lap to snuggle. But, two minutes later, he hit the dog on the head. While I won’t lie and say that he’s never done that before, it felt like it was a chain of events action…boss gets mad and takes it out on you, you go home and scream at your kids, the kid kicks the dog, scenario. Classic. My mouth has said “we don’t hit the dog,” but my body has given a very different message about hitting. My heart is broken and I’m trying to not beat myself up about it, but move forward. What was scary is it happened in a quick instant of reflex, of not thinking, just reacting. Not okay.

I will teach my son the same patterns of relating to the world that I learned if I’m not careful. I need courage to keep working on myself, moving forward, figuring out reasons and gathering a better understanding of my motivations and triggers so that I can avoid situations like this in the future.

How to communicate with family…

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Verbal communication is hard. I’m much better in the written form, which is why I blog instead of submitting videos to Youtbue, I suppose. But I have found that communication with family is especially hard, and only lately have I been struggling to manage it all (probably due to lack of sleep and a helping dose of ‘not-giving-a-damn-the-older-I-get’). Like, my parents have been over eager and insecure in their dealings with Potamus. They make strange statements like, “oh, I’m so glad he remembers us,” (he’s 15 months, who cares if he doesn’t remember you), and the over-repetitive phrase of “such a handsome doood (how my dad pronounces dude).” It’s annoying.

But then so are my in-laws.

Like the constant saying of “no,” by my sister-in-law to Potamus who is in an exploratory phase (see 15 month old comment above). It’s one thing to say “no” and re-direct when he’s trying to grab the butane torch for the fireplace. Telling him “no” repeatedly that he shouldn’t bang his plastic maraca on the table is a bit overdramatic and overbearing to be perfectly honest. But I don’t know what to do. It’s not MY sister, it’s Boof’s. And he doesn’t seem to be as perturbed by it as me.

I just don’t want to have him hear NO all the time. While no is going to be used, I want it to be reserved for dangerous things, and not just used mindlessly. A re-direction is more appropriate. Or an explanation. And saying things like “gentle,” with no context for him to understand what it means. But I’m too deep in the emotion grating across my skull that I can’t rationally say anything because if I open my mouth it is going to be a SCREAM at them. So I bottle it in and don’t say anything and that just makes it worse.

Ugh.

Then, on Friday I was hanging out with Uncle Silly (my adoptive brother) and we got to talking about our sister, and communication within our family and some hurt feelings over her boyfriend not visiting with us, but having the time/energy to drive 3 hours to visit her birth family in Oregon. And I talked about how I try to navigate reunion with our parents and he talked about how he tries to navigate it with them, too. And then, I learn, that my parents were hurt that I invited my birthfamily to my Master’s celebration. I’m glad to know, but also glad that they didn’t tell me themselves at the time because I would have been pissed. The jealousy and insecurity named above is the bedrock of my adoptive family’s communication style and it’s just annoying that I have to deal with it in so many arenas.

If they weren’t helpful to me, I would just take a break from all sorts of things family related and do my own thing. Friendships are much easier to navigate, because I can just tell my friends what I feel without worry. Not sure why I can’t do the same for my families.

Suggestions? How do you deal with overbearing or overanxious or jealous family members? How do you communicate about your parenting styles when it comes to things like discipline.

Blackout Anger Part Two

Thank God for Google, because after I wrote that post yesterday my mind went “eep, I just self-disclosed to the ENTIRE internet (or all 90 of you followers) that I am batshit crazy sometimes and WHAT IF YOU CALL CPS ON ME?” Yeah, a tad melodramatic, but still, my mind wanders in that direction. Plus, what mom do you know shouts “hey, I get crazy angry when I’m sleep deprived,” in normal coffee-conversations?

Apparently, at least according to Google, there are lots of “sleep disorders” and that waking up angry and not remembering it is common in something called a “sleep arousal disorder” (which, in mom speak can be coined as “fucking tired, yo”) and typically happens when someone’s woken up prematurely during the first part of the night (yep!). Whoa, so I’m not the only one who’s had this issue? Yesssss! I came across sleep forums and Y!A questions and personal stories that sounded so similar to me two nights ago.

Phew.

And I guess, the answer is…get more sleep and don’t get woken up suddenly in the first hour of sleep at night (barring any medical emergencies or something like that). Hopefully Boof can be on board with that plan, right?