“I’m just mad”

“I’m just mad, Ms. Smith”–this is a phrase used by my students at school that has puzzled me since the beginning of the year. Certain days, certain students will come to class and just be in a general bad mood, seemingly very upset. Whenever I ask them what’s wrong or is something the matter, the most common response is “I’m just mad.” Not sad, not stressed, not depressed…just mad. It almost seemed comical every time they would say this, and I started telling them how silly that sounded. They agree that its not a rational statement; how can you be mad without someone or something causing you anger? But they are “mad” just the same.

On Sunday evening, one of my students was attending an anti-violence picnic in his neighborhood. A teenager came to the picnic and shot my student 7 times in the legs, and another student in the chest. The news is tight with details, or maybe the follow-up just isn’t that important, but I know that if my student lives, he will be paralyzed.

On Tuesday evening, one of my students, along with at least 2 accomplices including another one of my students, decided to rob a discount drugstore. He was shot and killed. The police came and took a student from class this morning; maybe he was one of the 3 or maybe he just had information.

Back in August, I knew I was going to be working with a group of at-risk students. I knew many of the students I would be working with were involved with gangs and many had served time in prison. I knew there were tragedies that hit this school and its student-body every year. Yet is just so…weird…to experience this along with them. These two incidents are not the first my kids have been through. And it upsets me further that our administration has not addressed either incident to the students or the staff AT ALL. I just want some acknowledgement for the occurrences. Or some help for how to handle this with the kids. How can I help a student when I have no idea how I feel in the first place??

I’m experiencing so many different emotions; or maybe it is that I just cannot identify the emotion I am feeling because I have never felt it. Maybe all our definitions of emotion are relative to experience. I am feeling shock, guilt, a numbed sadness, shock again, frustration, anger…I just can’t put my finger on it. There are so many things I am angry at (and yet that still feels like the wrong word) despite the fact that none of the students involved in the shootings were what you would call “innocent.”ย 

On the phone trying to describe my feelings to Jeff, I caught myself saying, “I don’t know, I’m just mad.” Maybe this “madness”, this anger my students have mentioned so many times, is an emotion that did not exist in the world I grew up in. It is a poorly identified feeling that they do not know how to handle. These tragedies happen, and their lives continue, subconsciously affected. Jeff said it sounds like the frustration of being powerless. My mom says it is sadness that I don’t know what to do with. My feeling has no target, no face. There’s just nothing I can do about what happened, what is happening, to my students.

I’m just mad.


Wide-Eyed Cynic vs. Blind Optimist: Where is the balance?

Today, the teacher I work with called me to her room where she read me a poem submitted by one of her students. It almost brought me to tears it was so tragically beautiful. And so well-written…with such advanced vocabulary…and command of complex analogies…hmmmm…wait…

After praising the poem for its orignality and vivid imagery, I left her room, went straight to my computer and googled a line from the “student’s” poem.

I didn’t want to find anything. I didn’t want proof of plagiarism and blatant dishonesty. I wanted to feel silly for questioning. But I just didn’t beleive.

With a frustrated sigh I found a link that took me directly to the original poem, by Christopher M. Harris.

The poem was not for a grade, it doesn’t really matter. Right? Reactions to the poem:

Ms. Nelson: uplifted, encouraged, more and more hope growing for these troubled students we serve

Me: disheartened, discouraged, losing more and more hope in the system that never seems to make enough of a difference

I would rather have the spirit of the optimist. But does that faith in people, encouragement taken in the results of the classroom, justify the absence of truth?!

I want it to be true. I want to take it as encouragement. But I immediately assume a lie, and am justified in the findings! This is not the first occurence of her optimism vs. my cynicism. But the truth is consistent. Somebody please prove me wrong.

Totally New…

My last haircut was May of 2007. Eww. This has got to stop. So I went to the fabulous Kim Metcalf last night and had her completely re-invent my hair.ย 

old hair

old hair

I couldn’t be happier!!! What do you think!


New Hair!

New Hair!

We cut off 16″, 1.5 lbs. Wow…


Donated to Locks of Love :)

Donated to Locks of Love ๐Ÿ™‚

The Wiki-Trail

I love my husband. He can spend hours on the computer following what I’ve decided to call the “wiki-trail” (originating from the ever-dependable wikipedia). He is so inquisitive that he researches every question that comes to him throughout the day no matter how trivial or monumental. As we all know, questions can often inspire more questions which of course leads to further research…and hours later I find him exploring the depths of knowledge (and useless information) on the laptop.

However, I’ve noticed we also do this when we talk. Just now, for no apparent reason:

we named the Pandas that appear on a blanket we own,

which led to my recounting all of the facts I remember about the Teletubbies,

which led to a question about when children cross over from colorful bear-like creatures to violence for entertainment,

which led to discussing a boy’s natural tendencies for protection,

which called into question original sin?

Oh and scattered throughout this discussion was the pursuit for the forgotten word “unwarranted”, a look at a story involving Trisomy 18, and commentary on how often we change neighbors. So anyway, I’m pretty sure we all go on these “wiki-trails” in conversation, or in our own thoughts, right? Do you guys do this?

Currently watching: Jeff play video games

Currently cooking: chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes

Currently reading: Twilight and East of Eden (pop fiction and the classics, right?)

“Punch a Koala” Days

So, I loved the careerbuilders commercial during the SuperBowl last night. Don’t we all have those days? Whether or not you love, hate or tolerate your job, I think we all have those moments where we just need to punch something…perhaps a coffee drinking pseudo-bear.

Anyway, I have decided to really focus on the positives in my days! I let the frustrating parts of work irritate me and bury all the positive and exciting things that are happening in my classroom. Today, we had an awesome discussion about the realities between truth and justice. Wow…these students truly do amaze me. I cannot describe how much I love working with high school students, especially when we have discussions where they take a genuine opinion on the topic! I wish we could study more in depth together…someday!

The middle schoolers…well they are precious, but they all too often begin to resemble that darling little animal. I would never resort to that action (punching) in reality (I want to keep my job), but that is the sentiment they sometimes bring out in the afternoons. But they’re just so…tiny? I can’t get mad at them appropriately…I need a little maturity in students, haha.ย 

So, koala punching aside, today was a good day! But I’m still disgusted with having to work this Saturday…bleh…

Snow Day #1!

Well, we were SUPER productive with snow day number one…haha. We slept late, took a nap, watched tv, cooked good food, Jeff played games, and we marveled at the ice on the inside of our windows! Oh I also have to brag very quickly…I drove around after school last night on a few errands (food, medicine, assorted necessities) and I was slipping and sliding the whole way. But I remembered all the “ice-driving” tips my mother taught me (since we have so much ice in Lubbock) and I made it home safely…only got hit by one semi! I did have to park two buildings down because our parking lot has an incline near our building and the only direction I could go was sideways…yikes.

I am off again tomorrow! I know in the future these days will have to be made up somehow, but for now I am going to enjoy the rest. It is so nice to just sit together and enjoy time to relax…kinda gives us a re-do on our weekend! Jeff is feeling better by the way, still recovering but I think we’re done with doctors for now.

We have done a few new things with our home; decorations, new curtains, etc. I love decorating! Who knew?

I am really missing good friends from the LBK ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Katie…you need the internet. Kristin, please come visit! Natalie we need to talk wedding! (both Williams and McCoy) But we did enjoy Pizza creations and movie night at Jessica’s! Any other friends who read my blog, comment and I’ll give you a shout out too ๐Ÿ˜‰ love you all!

Jeff and DiFab are playing a show this weekend and I am SO excited! They are so talented and I love any chance to hear and see them perform. It’s at The Conservatory @7pm this Saturday! Come check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

I plan to use my extra time much more efficiently tomorrow. Final bits of organizing, maybe some laundry (if I can get the car out of the ice to drive it around). Hopefully I will post pictures of all our new furniture! I’m just loving having some time to do all those little odd things that pile up and need doing. I hope everyone is safe…but YEAH for the ice!!!

Currently cooking: potato soup

Currently listening to: pandora…lots of Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews

Currently watching: Mercenaries 2…Jeff’s really good

I’m Back!!!

Alright, here we go!

Christmas was great, Katie’s wedding was beautiful, a week at home was perfect and we got soooooooo organized…annnndย 

Jeff spoiled me and bought furniture for the living room and kitchen and beautiful decorations for all over the house! I love putting together our home ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope to put pictures up soon, we are getting rid of so much stuff, it feels good to go through this cleansing.

My family and I are also doing a Biggest Loser competition! I’m not getting too personal with results on this public blog haha, but I feel good about the way its going so far! I’m trying to get back to where I was when I graduated High School.

Ummm, school is…a day to day experience…

I am thinking about going back to school! The only trouble is that I am just not positive what I want a Masters in, but we’ll see.ย 

And finally, I am determined to blog at least once a week. Otherwise, I feel very behind and then my blogs end up very brief and not very entertaining…sorry!

Oh and Twilight is good…still can’t get too into it because I have to be able to return to schoolwork ๐Ÿ˜› I only read when I have free time…soooo maybe once a week, yikes.

Currently eating: nothing that I really want

Currently watching: lots of Netflix movies! this is the coolest thing ever…

Currently reading: Twilight

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