Browsing Tag

students

Guest Posts, Sexuality

Celebrating Pride: An Open Letter to my High School Biology Teacher

June 29, 2018
gay

By Chris Shorne

Dearest Paul:

Well. This is all very strange. For starters, me addressing you—Mr. Witt—as Paul. A first name implies life outside of being my high school teacher, which you were for four years, in ninth grade Biology, eleventh grade Health, and senior year Advanced Biology (Honors). I graduated twenty-one years ago and I’ve seen you half a dozen times since then, but in my imagination, you mostly stayed static, a known quantity. I’m not sure why it feels different now, after seeing you last week for brunch. Maybe because I haven’t been back in the country long or because I’m sorting through my files, reading poems and school reports I wrote as a teenager.

I remember the first article I read for extra credit. From your biology classroom, I followed you through a door to the science office that I hadn’t realized was there. You opened a storage closet: metal racks floor to ceiling, file boxes wall-to-wall, each box full of photocopied articles and newspaper clippings. You flipped, quickly, to the one for me: “Disabled Doesn’t Mean No Sex.” In the article, a guy talks about people not seeing him as sexual because he uses a wheelchair; on top of that, he explains, he’s bisexual and people think bisexuality isn’t even a real thing. Continue Reading…

Activism, Grief, Guest Posts, motherhood

“17”- A Poem Plus an excerpt from “Good Cop, Bad Daughter” by Karen Lynch

March 14, 2018

By Karen Lynch. 

17

When you were born, I nestled you in my arms and nursed you on demand to help build your immune system and keep you safe from disease.
933 breast feedings

When you were 18 months old, I cut your grapes in half to keep you safe from choking.
3,406 grapes sliced

When you were 2, I bought you the bicycle helmet ranked highest by Parenting Magazine.
5,327 miles peddled

When you were five, six, seven, I let you watch only PBS kids to keep you innocent of the violence in the world as long as possible.
1,273 episodes Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood watched.

When you were 12, I let you ride your bike across town and prayed for your safety as I waited for your call.
17 petitions offered up to the universe.

When you were sick and no one knew why, I took you to a faraway clinic and found a doctor to heal you.
522 miles driven, 4 doctors seen, 18 bottles supplements purchased.

When you were 16, I found the best driving instructor in the county. I told you to call me for a ride anytime, no questions asked.
2 speeding tickets, 1 fender bender, 0 calls for pickup.

When you left for school today, I gave you an organic Fuji apple with your whole wheat almond butter sandwich. I reminded you to eat fruit and veggies in college next year.
2,367 Fuji apples washed and sliced.
1 Valentine slipped into your backpack.

When the deputy called this afternoon, I was selecting your senior picture.
17 dead. 15 wounded. 152 shots fired.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Tribe, Truth

The Something-Else

January 17, 2018
something

By Jennifer Rieger

There are some things that will never just feel like a coincidence.
~ A-Dack[1] Quote of the Day, May 31, 2016

The first day of school, she looked like she wanted to die. She chose the seat front and center, the perfect position for me to genuinely appreciate her major case of RBF[2]. There were moments during my entertaining first day multimedia extravaganza when she thought about smiling. I know she did. With a slight smirk, she’d look out the corner of her eye to her best friend, Dante, but then the seriousness would resume. It was, after all, AP Literature and Composition, and maybe I was particularly frightening that day with all the happiness and love.

However, it didn’t take long for me to win over Anna. The further we delved into the curriculum, the more she enjoyed literature, class discussion, and quietly contemplating life. She was in quite a state when she showed up for her college essay conference, bright red and full of angst. “Ms. Rieger… These people aren’t going to want me. Ms. Rieger… Nothing about me comes out coherently. Ms. Rieger… Maybe I’ll walk into traffic, or just stay here with you.” How I would have loved a world in which the latter was true. It didn’t take long to realize that I never wanted to let go of that RBF hot mess. Continue Reading…

Awe & Wonder, Guest Posts, Holidays

Living—No, Thriving—in America

December 1, 2017
lessons

By Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

How do I know if I should say Merry Christmas? Do I ask people about their religion so I can buy the right wrapping paper? What do I give my building’s super? My daughter’s swim coach? My son’s piano teacher?

It’s Thursday morning in early December and I’m seated with two other volunteers in a small classroom in a church, fielding holiday questions from young Asian moms who are new to this country. Their husbands have blended into their new surroundings easily, their professional positions offering plenty of opportunities to perfect their English and engage with American co-workers and clients. The same goes for their children, who pick up English quickly and bond seamlessly with schoolmates, the way young kids often do. It’s different, though, for my students, whose chances to connect with their American counterparts are limited to fast-paced PTA meetings and brief, spontaneous encounters at the supermarket. Learning English is hard, but even more difficult is mastering the labyrinth of customs, routines and traditions that American moms navigate daily with ease. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts

Dear Students

June 9, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Marissa Landrigan

Dear Students,

There was one semester where I almost flunked out of college.

It was the first semester of my sophomore year–I’d always been a good student, and had managed to get through my freshman year with good grades, while also doing all the silly experimental stuff you’re supposed to do as a freshman. For some reason, the weird transitional college breakdown happened to me a year late.

That semester, Fall 2002, I remember four of the classes I was enrolled in, though it must have been more: Personal Essay, Persuasive Argument, Intro to Sociology, and Biological Anthropology. By December, I’d withdrawn late from Personal Essay, had a D- in Intro to Sociology, and outright failed Biological Anthropology.

This isn’t actually a story about how it’s important to take your education seriously, and what an enormous opportunity college is — though you should, and it is. This is a story about how I seriously fucked up, and ultimately, it was ok.

This is a story I’m telling you in hopes of countering the voices you’re probably used to hearing, often from your other professors or people who finished college decades ago, the voices that say you’re not working hard enough, or, life’s hard, so suck it up, or, worse, I don’t care that you’re having a hard time, or, even worse, the silence, the disbelief that comes along with ignoring what a hard time you’re having.

Here’s the big secret you won’t hear many professors admit, though I don’t know why: We all had a hard time, all of us, at one point or another. For many of us that hard time happened in college, when our world had been turned upside-down, when we didn’t know who we were or where we were going, when it didn’t feel like there was anyone else who understood.

So I’m going to tell you my story because I want you to know that I understand. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Life

Not The Living Proof Girl.

December 23, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Karen Dempsey

We piled into a long, rented passenger van. Two of the juniors, Dan and Mike, had already claimed “driver” and “co” and instituted the rule that driver chooses music, setting us up for sixteen solid hours of Phish.

I crunched in next to a wiry kid with a mess of black hair.

“Benjamin.” He grinned, showing off a shiny retainer. “Freshman.”

I was a college sophomore headed out on a road trip from Boston to Savannah with a dozen kids I didn’t know. It was a Habitat for Humanity volunteer trip—not exactly MTV Spring Break. But, for me, that wasn’t really the noteworthy part.

I don’t need an introvert/extrovert quiz to know where I fall on the spectrum of personality types. I’ve always been a person who lingers most comfortably near the edges of things, enjoying the view from a distance. Even at nineteen years old, my ideal break would have looked more like a low-key trip with a good friend, or week at home in Buffalo with the people who knew me best.

But some small part of me had pushed to try it for once: fall fully and inescapably into the center of something unfamiliar, with a whole group of people I didn’t know pressed in close. And I’m being literal here, because, as I settled into my seat, Benjamin the freshman was making the case that he should be allowed to sleep on me.

“I know we just met,” he said. “But you’re going to know me really well by the end of the week. It’s a long drive. And if I can’t lean on you, I’ll never get any sleep.”

The drive was long. With Phish cranked up and Benjamin nuzzling my shoulder, sleep wasn’t really an option. So I spent the ride trying to catalog the other volunteers by the things they said, the way they interacted.

By virtue of being a senior, Cindy had earned some kind of a supervisory role on the trip, a designation quickly challenged by several of the boys. She was enthusiastic but wavering, an unforgivable combination among ruthless twenty-year-olds. But she had two smart, solid girlfriends with her, and they shored up her confidence. You could see they wanted her to succeed. Eventually, the rest of us would, too.

Anthony from Staten Island was an RA on campus. He had signed up with his friend Eileen and a kid from his floor named Rob. From the moment we all introduced ourselves, Rob began working the refrain, “Come on, Eileen,” a la Dexys Midnight Runners, into every conversation.

There was the soft-spoken, fair-minded guy who was treasurer of student government. The amazing pianist who would spend his junior year studying in South Africa. The pretty, smiling girl who was active in a Christian youth group on campus. There was Beth—alternately friendly and harsh, caught in the push-pull of wanting to fit in and pretending it didn’t matter.

And then there were Mike and Dan. Pushy, I thought. Kind of jerky. But they were the type of kids who pulled the outliers into their jokes instead of making them their (easy) targets. Also? They were really, really funny.

Along with being an introvert, I was a person known to develop crushes on smart, funny boys. Driving across those ten states, as we neared the end of our drive, I was falling hard for Mike.

Like the children we still were, we found ways to debate everything from seating arrangements to whether beef jerky was an acceptable snack choice. But there were long, quiet spells where no one said anything at all. And there were discussions about things that mattered, too, like the fact that we were getting a chance to help build a house that an actual family would live in.

A few hours into the drive, someone brought up the subject of abortion, and the exchange got heated, fast. Beth’s voice trembled. She seemed about to cry. Cindy and her friends exchanged a look, and stopped talking. The silence hovered there in the thick air of the van. Then, carefully, someone started a new thread—something light. And someone else picked it up. And just like that, we were a group of people who looked out for one another.

We passed a hand-lettered, misspelled sign on the road: “Acers of land for sale,” someone read. “Ace – ers of land.” And then someone screamed, “Yeah! We made it! We’re in the south!”

The house we were to stay in was a mustard-colored ranch set up with several rooms of bunks for Habitat volunteers. I was glad when Anthony called to me, “You wanna bunk with us?” He, Rob, and Eileen had kept up a steady stream of lighthearted bantering and bickering since we’d all met in the van. They were easy to be around. All I had to do was laugh.

The work would start Monday, but first we had the rest of the weekend, beginning with a night out in Savannah. It was Saint Patrick’s Day, so we planned to head downtown to a popular Irish bar. I was glad I’d packed a little makeup along with my work jeans and tee shirts.

“Is that my brush?” Eileen asked, as Rob checked his hair in the mirror over the bedroom’s one small dresser.

“Oh, come on, Eileen,” he shouted back.

We drove into the city and found parking; we weren’t even through the door of the bar when a beaming blond girl flew into Mike’s arms out of nowhere. A girlfriend. Of course. She—Amy—and her friend were sailing the friend’s dad’s boat (I know) down the coast for spring break. They had run into us coincidentallywe were assured, with no previous planning between Amy and Mike, on our one night out in Savannah.

“Man!” Mike said. “Can you believe this?”

No. I really couldn’t.

  • ••

One night later in the year, my roommate Caroline went out to see a popular band—Living Proof—that was loved mightily for its covers of new wave songs. Disappointed she couldn’t convince me to join her and her new beau, Caroline went to the show dragging her feet a little. But she came home effervescent. Drunk on keg beer, she gushed about this beautiful nameless girl, who had spotted her not having fun and pulled her out on the dance floor, turning her night around.

Caroline called her The Living Proof Girl, which became shorthand for the enviable, carefree spirit who approached college—and life in general—with a seemingly effortless upbeat attitude. Be charming and pretty! Dance with strangers! Infect the world with your happiness!

Soon after we went to see the campus improv comedy group, My Mother’s Fleabag. Caroline said, “It’s her,” at the same moment I thought it. We both recognized the girl on stage for different reasons. The star of Fleabag was The Living Proof Girl. Who was Mike’s girlfriend. Who was Amy freaking Poehler.

(“You’re funnier then she is,” my friend Kim said recently when I told her this story. “But I think she’s got you beat in the tits department.”)

  • ••

My heart sank a little as Mike melted into Amy’s hug. But I had only known him for a matter of hours. I swallowed my Guinness and made myself start conversations with the other volunteers. I even tapped my Irish American upbringing and requested songs from the band. The singer asked where I was from, then gave our group a shout-out into the microphone. I had fun.

  • ••

The next day, Sunday, we had planned to drive to Hilton Head. But Anthony wanted to go to church first, and we had only one van.

“Guys, I haven’t missed Sunday Mass my whole life,” he said. “You can’t wait an hour?”

There was grumbling. Silence. He looked around at the group, pleadingly.

“I don’t think we can make someone miss Mass for the beach,” I heard myself say. Anthony had pulled me into his little crew when I was apart from the crowd and I owed him one.

It turned out Anthony had gotten the time for the service wrong, so he would miss Mass after all. But he seemed grateful we’d made the effort, and I was glad I’d spoken up.

At the beach I sat taking in the view of the Atlantic, seeing it for the first time from a place other than from the New England Coast. It was chilly out, which didn’t stop some of the girls from peeling down to bikinis. People swam and screamed and splashed each other. I was happy to sit on the beach and watched, wiggling my toes in the sand, wondering what else the week held.

In the morning, the alarm sounded early.

“Ugh!” Rob groaned. “Come on, Eileen.”

We were putting up the framework of the house. When had I held a hammer before? To hang cheaply framed posters over my bed? The nails bent at odd angles or went in sideways. Wood splintered. I was sweating, and my shoulders ached. Jack, a guy who lived on the property in a trailer with his dog and managed the volunteers, walked around offering guidance. I swung the hammer. Thwack thwack thwack. When a nail bent or broke I wrenched it out again. Eventually, I could set those nails in perfectly and my beams came together, part of a wall that was part of a house that a family was going to live in.

Mike and Dan walked over with a sledgehammer.

“Ma’am, this wall is going to have to come down.”

“This is going to hurt us more than it hurts you.”

“Don’t laugh, ma’am. You should probably look away.”

We watched the walls go up. We filled them in. Jack handpicked the best workers to hang the drywall. We screamed and cheered because, at that age, when you accomplish something big, you can still do that.

One morning there were gnats—no see-ums, people called them. They descended on you and filled your nose and mouth. I was near tears. Bug spray didn’t work, the nets on your head helped but obscured your view, and no one else was wearing them. I snuck back to the house, made myself a peanut butter sandwich, and used the house phone to call my sister. “Why did I do this?”

I pulled myself together. Back outside, a little rain descended and drove the bugs away. We celebrated.

Another day, Beth cut her hand using the table saw and Jack had to take her for stitches and a tetanus shot. While they were gone, we lazed around a bit. There was chalk on the worksite and Mike splayed across the ground and had me trace his outline like a body at a crime scene. Then he called Jack’s dog and coaxed it to lie beside the tracing so that he could trace the dog too. Laughing, I took a picture of their two empty outlines.

Our last night in Georgia, Cindy hooked up with the freshman.

“Tell me you didn’t have sex with him,” one of her friends fumed.

“She would,” Beth said acidly.

And the confirmation was written in the grin on Benjamin’s face.

Mike gave me a wide-eyed, open-mouthed look of exaggerated shock and I had to leave the room and laugh.

  • ••

Back at school, I mailed off my rolls of film and when they came back, I bored everyone I could with photos of the house going up. I slipped the crime scene picture into an envelope, carefully wrote out Mike’s address and dropped it in the mail. And soon after I got an envelope from him—an invitation to the party he’d promised us all he’d throw at his off-campus apartment.

I went alone. The Savannah group came, in pairs and with roommates or on their own.

“That picture was so great,” Mike said to me.

I walked around his apartment and saw a picture of him with Amy and then, eventually, the real Amy, hanging out and laughing in a hallway.

I stood next to Beth, watching Mike laugh with a group of his friends.

“I had such a crush on him,” I said.

“Who didn’t?” she answered dismissively.

There wasn’t a lot for us—any of us—to say to each other now that we were back on campus. But somehow, that seemed okay. It seemed, in fact, exactly right. The experiences we’d shared together, and whatever we’d learned about ourselves as individuals, weren’t the kind of things we needed to say out loud.

Content to leave it that way, I finished my drink and slipped out without saying goodbye.

  • ••

Junior year at a football game, I was walking through the stadium with a boy when I saw Mike and Dan in the crowd, running toward me.

They spotted me, whooped, and each grabbed me in a hug, and I felt like my face would break from smiling. I introduced them to my boyfriend and they shook his hand because we were in that strange world where adulthood and childhood, job interviews and football tailgates, collide. Mike, who was then a senior, put his hands on my shoulders and leaned down.

“You’re good?” he asked, while the crowd roared around us. “You’re good?”

“I’m good!” I grinned back, and he squeezed me in a last hug.

“Good luck,” we called to each other, and laughed. And headed back toward our futures.

  • ••

Twenty years later, I’ve discovered via the magic of the web that Mike is even handsomer than I remembered, with three equally photogenic kids hanging off of him in his Facebook picture. Dan is a New York Times bestselling author who has been interviewed on all the major news shows. Amy Poehler continued to pursue her interest in comedy. And the guy who shook hands with Mike and Dan at the game? He’s my husband, and we have two (adorable, hilarious, introverted) kids.

  • ••

KAREN DEMPSEY has written for The New York Times Motherlode blog, Babble, and Brain, Child. She lives in Massachusetts. Read her work at kdempseycreative.com or follow her @karenedempsey. This essay originally appeared at Full Grown People.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

A detoxifying, weight loss, energizing, strengthening superfood blend. The Green Dream was the first superfood blend I created. "Green foods" are one of the least common foods consumed, yet they are the most nutrient-dense and most important! I wanted to find a way to get these incredible foods into your body without compromising flavor or convenience.  Green Dream is high in plant-based protein, so it keeps you full for longer and helps burn fat. Unlike other protein blends on the market, there are no "fillers" to extend the blend:  Green Dream uses only superfoods as ingredients, thus providing abundant, concentrated nutrient power with each teaspoon you consume.  Green Dream cleanses as its pure ingredients break down toxins and ushers them from the body. And Green Dream is energizing: it provides a natural, caffeine-free power boost every day as it sets the stage for sustained energy while your body releases old materials and rebuilds with precious new fuel. This blend also supports the body in weight loss, if needed: when your every cell is nourished from the clean protein, good fats, and detoxifying green power it provides, the body gives itself permission to let go of unneeded material.  By feeding your cells only the best, Green Dream makes being healthy and fit easy... like a dream.

A detoxifying, weight loss, energizing, strengthening superfood blend.
The Green Dream was the first superfood blend I created. “Green foods” are one of the least common foods consumed, yet they are the most nutrient-dense and most important! I wanted to find a way to get these incredible foods into your body without compromising flavor or convenience. Green Dream is high in plant-based protein, so it keeps you full for longer and helps burn fat. Unlike other protein blends on the market, there are no “fillers” to extend the blend: Green Dream uses only superfoods as ingredients, thus providing abundant, concentrated nutrient power with each teaspoon you consume.
Green Dream cleanses as its pure ingredients break down toxins and ushers them from the body. And Green Dream is energizing: it provides a natural, caffeine-free power boost every day as it sets the stage for sustained energy while your body releases old materials and rebuilds with precious new fuel. This blend also supports the body in weight loss, if needed: when your every cell is nourished from the clean protein, good fats, and detoxifying green power it provides, the body gives itself permission to let go of unneeded material.
By feeding your cells only the best, Green Dream makes being healthy and fit easy… like a dream.

1798X611

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing

Rape That Isn’t Really Rape (And Other Lies I Told Myself.)

November 22, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or rape which may be triggering to survivors.

 

By Kathleen Emmets.

Words on paper tearing open old wounds

Tears falling

Rolling Stone: “Rape On Campus” read the headline

Scandal at UVA

I put the magazine down and head to yoga

I focus on my breathing

Losing myself in the rhythms

Supported back bend

Heart wide open

I begin to crack

I am 16 again- Continue Reading…

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