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Make me safe, don’t make me armed: one teacher’s thoughts on school shootings

This past week, although I have not personally endured losing colleagues, friends, students, children of my own, I have had to stand by helplessly and watch as others in my teaching community have. I’ve had to read the horrific accounts from fellow Florida teachers within my ELA community who work at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, hearing how brave they had to be for their students while they endured something no teacher and no child should ever have to endure. I had to learn how these teachers lost their colleagues, the people they’ve been accustomed to working with everyday. I had to hear about how some lost their students, students they have bonded with, have formed relationships with, students who have impacted their lives in some meaningful way. Gone. It seems hard to imagine, I’m sure, especially for anyone working in a non-teaching position. But just picture going to work everyday, whatever your job may be, and pretend someone you’ve worked closely with, have had a working relationship with, and maybe even a friendship, is no longer there. Not because they moved, or got a new job, or just decided that career was no longer for them and quit. They aren’t there to interact with you in your place of work anymore because they are dead. And not dead because they died of natural causes, or a freak accident that no one could have prevented. Dead because of some horrific tragedy that could have been prevented. I’m sure you can at least imagine that.

As a Florida educator, I’m mad as hell. The one place children are supposed to be safe, the one place it’s my job to make sure they feel safe, is no longer safe. As teachers, we have enough to worry about with keeping our classroom managed, with making sure our students are in an environment they feeling comfortable learning in. We have enough to worry about with all the late-night grading and lesson planning, with the endless parent teacher conferences and parent emails, with the never-ending professional development required to keep our jobs, with the second jobs we sometimes have to take to make ends meet because our teacher salaries are inadequate. We have enough. So on top of all the many hats we wear during the course of our day, on top of all the things we have to juggle on a daily basis, now we have worry about keeping our students alive? What. Is. Wrong. With. This. Picture.

Look, I get it. As a teacher, we commit ourselves 100% to our students. We go above and beyond for them. We stay after school and offer tutoring to those kids who just don’t get it. We spend our own hard earned dollars on supplies we need to run our classrooms. We coach sports teams, and lead after school clubs, and give our time to any student who needs it. It’s what we signed up for when we took the job. No one going into teaching assumes it’s a regular ol’ 9-to-5 that doesn’t require any extra effort on our part. I know that. But how dare anyone who’s never set foot in a classroom as a teacher, who’s never experienced even one day in the life of a schoolteacher, come at us and say we are the ones who need to do more. Are you freaking kidding me? We bend over backwards to make sure our students are well cared for, that they have all the tools necessary to succeed. It’s not our job to be armed and ready to ward off any unstable person that decides to come at us with a gun. You want me to be armed as a teacher? Do you even understand what you’re asking of us? This is what you’re asking of us teachers:

  1. Learn how to be comfortable around guns. Because I’m sure as hell not. I respect other people’s right to bear arms, but I don’t like guns and wouldn’t feel comfortable owning one. So good luck getting me over that hurdle.
  2. Learn how to properly use said gun. Let’s say hypothetically I get over my dislike of being around guns. Now I have to be trained how to use the damn thing? And who is paying for that training?
  3. Figure out a place to keep said gun in classroom where no students will have access to it, yet will still be within reach should I ever need it to blow away an intruder. Yeah, this part is a real head-scratcher. So let’s say you convinced me to carry a gun, and you got me the training I need to know how to properly discharge it. Now where the f*ck am I supposed to keep this gun in my classroom? I can’t keep it on my person, because what if some dumb kid (and there are plenty of those in middle school where I teach) decides to be funny and try to grab at it? What happens if that dumb kid accidentally shoots me, or himself, or a classmate with it? Can’t be packing a piece while I’m trying to teach my students how to write a thesis statement. So where do I put it? In a desk drawer? It would have to be locked to prevent those same dumb kids from trying to get at it. So how am I truly supposed to get to it in the event of an emergency that would require it? Oh, and by the way, why the heck am I supposed to be responsible for having a gun?!

It just doesn’t seem feasible, not to mention it’s not something we as teachers should have to do. We shouldn’t have to worry about how we are going to protect our students from murderers. We shouldn’t have to make sure we have a way to defend ourselves when that crazed killer shows up on our campus. As teachers, we have to keep our students safe, yes. We have to keep them safe from bullies. We have to keep them safe from lack of confidence. We even have to keep them safe from their families if they don’t have a stable home life, or keep them safe from themselves if they’re thinking of hurting themselves. We shouldn’t have to keep them safe from disturbed individuals with easy access to a gun.

Guns aren’t going away. Mental illness isn’t going away. I’m not some delusional, irrational person who thinks the answers to all our problems lies in banning all guns. I’m actually a very rational human who just wants my students, and myself, to be safe everyday when we walk into our school. We can have that again if we just reform certain laws, like the ones that allow anybody to purchase any type of gun they please. No average person outside the military needs to own an assault rifle, so why allow them to? Give us better funding to support students with mental illnesses so we can prevent these thoughts becoming a reality. Tackle the issues before they have a chance to manifest into such tragedies. I would rather be armed with knowledge and resources on how to prevent my students from ending up as that crazy ex-student who shoots up a school. I don’t want to be literally armed and just twiddling my thumbs doing nothing, awaiting the day I have to use my gun to fight off a killer. Why can’t we just prevent the killer from manifesting in the first place?

Watching some of these brave teenagers address the president earlier today during the White House listening session brought tears to my eyes. One brother of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims, said we just need to let all these ideas free-fly, that it’s important to let everyone be heard and then decide what to do with the information. How is it that a high school student can be so wise when the politicians we’ve elected to have that same intelligence are incapable? It really shouldn’t be this hard. Schools are supposed to be safe havens. Make them safe for us again. That’s all we want.

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Boston marathon bombing one more reason we will never have world peace

It’s times like these that I’m reminded that we will never have world peace in this lifetime.

I know it’s a strong statement to make, but think about it: world peace means peace on Earth, it means there is no more fighting and no more wars and no more extremists going around blowing up innocent people who just wanted to partake in a normal community event such as a marathon.

It makes me sick to think that some people exist in this world for the sole purpose of bringing harm to others, people they’ve never met and don’t know at all. People who have families and friends and day jobs and dreams and goals, and maybe some debt they’re trying to pay off and maybe some issues they’re trying to work out but overall, these people are good-hearted, normal, everyday people who just want to enjoy their lives. And then some crazy person(s) with a bomb has to come along and screw all that up.

I wish I knew more about what goes on in the minds of people like this, because it really baffles me, truly. Maybe if I knew more about psychology and how the mind works I would comprehend a little more, but even then I think I’d still have a hard time rationalizing it.

It would be easy to write it off as insanity (because clearly someone demented enough to detonate a bomb in a crowd full of innocent people must be insane). But even after labeling the attack as insane, after declaring the attacker to be of unsound mind, even after locking them up and throwing away the key, the sad truth is someone else just like them is going to come along when no one is expecting it and do something equally f*cked up and begin the cycle all over again.

I’m not even trying to be my usual cynical self here (although I could understand how my negative outlook could be confused with pessimism); I’m simply ranting. I usually have a point or direction to most of my posts (random they may be), but I wouldn’t even know where to begin in this case. I would truly love to see world peace in my lifetime, but I’m not holding my breath. I can only hope one day I or my children (or my children’s children) will live in a world without psychotic people who get off by ruining the lives of everyone around them.

Wishful thinking.

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Filed under Event, Society

5 should-be requirements to run for president

When the RNC came to town last week, I felt compelled to watch “the baseball glove’s” closing speech (that, and my boyfriend made me). Unsurprisingly, the entire broadcast made me hate politicians that much more (not to mention lose some serious respect for Dirty Harry). I’ve realized the more I watch and follow the politics in this country, and even abroad, the less hope I have for humanity. It’s astounding how much faith we put in politicians. I understand the pressures of being in such a position are extreme and it’s usually easier said than done to follow through on the promises they’ve made us, but quite frankly I’m tired of listening to these egotistical buffoons going on about all the things they will do for us if we elect them into office and then never seeing any follow-through. With the presidental election looming, it’s more apparent than ever that there needs to be a set of obvious requirements the candidates must meet before even being considered to run for office. These requirements should overrule any other conditions involved in determining eligibilty, because, if you can’t meet these simple conditions, I don’t want you running my country. Here are several big ones:

Vote for me. Even a rabid panda would be more successful as president (and yes, that is my head).

1. A presidential candidate must know how many states make up the U.S. This one should be pretty obvious. If you don’t know how many states you’re presiding over, how are you supposed to accurately and positively impact them? Maybe everyone makes mistakes and miscommunicates their thoughts but you’re the president, you’re not allowed to make mistakes.

2. A presidential candidate must be able to produce valid proof of citizenship. I’m still unconvinced of our current prez’s “claimed” place of birth, so this is something that should be worked out before they even enter the race. I’m sorry, but if that’s even a question, if there’s even a shadow of a doubt as to where you came from, you probably shouldn’t be nominated.

3. A presidential candidate must have at least a high school level vocabulary. Maybe it was funny when Bush did it (though, as an English and writing major, I was never laughing), but even with a teleprompter and endless writers at your disposal, you still need to communicate correctly.

4. A presidential candidate must remain humble. No one wants an egotistical butthead running their country, telling them what to do. This one is tough to validate, because few politicians are humble, but this requirement could be waived if they prove worthy in other areas.

5. A presidential candidate must always keep the nation’s best interest in mind. Even if they pass 1-4, it’s very unlikely (at least in recent years) that the president will ever truly put what’s best for us ahead of his own agenda. Which brings me full circle to my original argument that no politician ever keeps their word. So basically we’re all screwed. I think I’ll vote for myself this election.

VOTE BODWELL 2012

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Filed under Entertainment, Opinion, Society

Unnecessary sadness

So I’ve been having a heart attack since about 1030 last night. I went to log in to my blog and found that it was deactivated. I just about died right there on the spot.

I know no one really gives a rat butt about my blog- except for you, reading this right now, and my faithful followers, whom I am extremely grateful for and thankful to have, you guys rock for not only caring about but enjoying the Mad things I write about- but to me, my blog is my whole world (well, maybe not my WHOLE world, but a large portion of it).

So to find it was deactivated (that word still makes me shudder) for no apparent reason made me burst into tears and cry. And cry. And cry. And call my boyfriend and cry. And cry some more. Then go to bed and wake up this morning with puffy eyes (attractive).

To add to my misery, I woke up this morning to some generic email from WordPress saying (and I quote) “Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. I have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice. We are very sorry for that happening and the inconvenience it caused you.”

Inconvenience? How about you made me cry. I thought my life was literally over and the world was coming to an end (okay, maybe I wasn’t that melodramatic about it, but I still cried).

I hope this never happens to any of you. And I swear to god, if it ever happens to me again, I will go through the computer screen and strangle the automated anti-spam controls for being so retarded. You ruined my night, prevented me from enjoying a peaceful and fulfilling night’s sleep and caused me to look like poop today. More than anything, you took away something I love very dearly for no reason (did I mention there was no reason for this?).

Turds.

In the end, my blog is back up and the world is at peace again (at least in my head). So now I can go back to my delusions that my blog is the coolest thing ever, you can go back to reading (or not reading) it, and the world can continue doing whatever it was doing before all this, because really, other than my boyfriend, who had to listen to me cry on the phone and did a good job of trying to calm me down and reassure me that it would be okay (you’re the best, Dan), no one else had a clue I was suffering such heartbreak.

So I hope this never happens to any of you. Because it sucks.

But if it does, please feel free to contact me. I will share in your misery and remind you that, more than likely, your blog will rise to the challenge, overcome those awful anti-spam bots and rise to be the magical blog it was destined to be.

Either that, or you’re screwed and your blog is kaput.

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Filed under Reincarnation, Restoration

Why I refuse to let the Costa Concordia scare me away from cruising (and why you should too)

Despite how tragic this is (not to mention how fake and photoshopped the picture looks), this isn't a good representation of how typical cruising goes down. Er, I mean how typical cruising happens (too soon for a pun).

In light of the recent tragedy in Italy, speculation is being raised about the safeness of cruising. It’s a valid concern, but society is letting a rare, albeit horrific, accident get the better of them. The cruise industry is sure to see some decline in numbers this year- or at least for the next few months- but recent events aside, cruising is not any more dangerous than it has been in the past. In fact, compared to the dangers we encounter in everyday life, cruising is safer than some activities we participate in on a daily basis.

You are more likely to die in a car crash. Automobiles are probably the most dangerous motorized vessel we could ever step foot in. Drivers on the roads these days have become more careless, and, thanks to technology, have displayed riskier behavior than in years past. Currently, texting while driving is outlawed in 27 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia. While the remaining states are pushing to pass the law as well, having a law in effect doesn’t mean it will stop drivers from committing the act of texting while driving. In fact, more than ever, people are talking and texting while driving, with no fear of consequences. In 2010, there were over 32,000 automobile fatalities in the U.S. alone. Last year, there were less than 200 deaths on cruise ships, with less than half that number directly related to sinkings. The most notable crash of 2011, that of the Russian ship the Bulgaria, only contributed about 50 percent of the total death toll, putting death by cruising low on the scale of dangerous activities.

The odds are in your favor. Accidents happen. They are a part of life and are happening everyday all over the world. In fact, there’s probably an accident happening somewhere at this exact moment. But, with such low statistics surrounding cruise fatalities, the likelihood of your cruise ship sinking is slim to none.

Just a guess, but I don't think you'd survive that.

It’s better than flying to your vacation destination. If you’re in a “cruise crash,” you have a window of time to get yourself safely off the boat and to safety; however small or big the window may be, you still have that fighting chance. If you choose instead to fly to a destination, you face the risk of a plane crash. Planes are more likely to crash than a cruise is; flying leaves more room for error and, unlike a cruise crash, if you go down in a plane you have little to no chance of survival, especially depending on where you crash (or what you crash into).

There are probably a million other reasons to support the claim that cruising is no more dangerous now than it was last week, before the Costa Concordia went down. With the dangers we face on a daily basis, there’s no logical reason to keep yourself from enjoying life just on the off chance something bad might happen.

Besides, I have to keep reassuring myself of this, because I’m in the middle of planning a free cruise (right?! be jealous). So as long as I don’t end up with a bonehead captain- one who decides to not only go off course, but to abandon ship before everyone reaches safety- I should be in the clear.

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Filed under Accident, Advice, destruction, humanity, Opinion, Society, Transportation, Travel