Monday, 27 January 2014

New Years resolutions

Relajate y disfruta

My new mantra for the new year.

Since moving to Barranquilla and discovering a whole new level of Fanfarron culture, I have experienced every emotion resulting from the chaos of having no control from rage to denial to pure disbelief.  I have even tried to rationalize the chaos and find a pattern in the random.

I have won a few battles but I have largely lost the war.  Just 6 months in and I waving my white flag.  I have adopted a new style of life.

I will relax and enjoy.

I WILL relax and enjoy, dammit!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

So there you have it...

I worked for a woman who thought this film ( was just good fun (she played the Concubine in the black dress), and who condoned showing it to children as young as 11 years old as part of their ethics and values assemblies, and who sent a section wide mail diminishing and belittling the concerns of teachers who felt it was not in keeping with the school's nor the IBO's values and let us all know that they should lighten up and have a better sense of humor.

In response (after getting permission from my head of section to do so) I sent a mail to my department imploring them not to show the film (anymore) and stating precisely why.

When she demanded I forward it to her, I softened the content of this e-mail, knowing full well that she already had access to the original and that it would lead to confrontation that would likely end in my leaving the school. I shouldn't have done that.

I did so because she menacingly threatened to fire someone in my department for expressing her political points of view in the press and I wanted to deflect her anger towards me.

I encouraged people I worked with to speak out against the ignorance and bullying we saw being practiced by people in some of the management positions of the school and their circle of friends.

I encouraged my teachers and co-workers to fight ignorance, racism and misogyny with education and information.

I was accused of trying to "start a revolution" and my contract was not renewed.

I was relieved because I did not want to work for someone who thinks it is okay to make fun of people for their race, or their passion for education and tolerance.

I know what my faults are, and I accept them, but none of my faults were condoning a film that glorified racism and misogyny as appropriate educational material or light-hearted comedic fun for all ages,  nor do they include belittling and mocking the point of view of passionate teachers who care deeply about the messages we send to children, especially children who have a responsibility to create peace and justice in a nation at war with itself.

I know what my faults are and I own them, and the consequences of them, every day.

I wish I had done things differently. I wish I had been more forthright.  I wish I had not been sucked down the rabbit hole of politics and game playing.  I've never been very good at games.  I am very sorry for that.

But despite all my faults, I have never, and will never support bigotry or tell professional educators who find the courage to speak out about their concerns that their feelings are wrong, that they spoke too harshly, or that they are "over reacting" when they sense something is out of whack.

THAT, I would never do.

Enough Said.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

WTF Ariana Huffington!?

Why has the Huffington Post created a women's section/version of this PULITZER PRIZE winning news website which was started by a woman (Ariana Huffington)?

A) Does AOL think women and anything related to their lives are so utterly uninteresting to men that they need to segregate any news related to them from the front page news so men are not bothered with our petty issues?

B) Does AOL think women's issues are: "Healthy Living, Taste, Weddings, Etiquette and Advice, Style, Divorce, Celebrity Divorce, Recipes, Love & sex, Horoscopes, Women's Health" and "Post 50" with headlines like:
  • The Moment I Knew I Had To Quit My Job 
  • 6 Ways To Deal With Your Spouse's Annoying Habits 
  • New Katharine Hepburn Exhibit And Book Focus On Her 'Rebel Chic' 
  • Post 50s Weigh In On Vice Presidential Debate 
  • In The Kitchen With Stanley Tucci 

C) Does AOL think women who read the Huffington post need their own page? In shades of Lavender? and that that page should be filled with 99% fluffy garbage?

What message does this send to men about women's issues and how important they are to our society as a whole?

What message does it send to young women that these categories are labelled "women's issues" and that what little news there is does not make the mainstream Huffington post? For example: there is an HPV vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer (and it isn't even at the top of the page.) You can bet if there was a vaccine for prostate cancer it wouldn't be swept to the middle of the "men's page"...oh wait, there isn't a men's page:

 How is this helpful to women or representing our strength and power? WTF Ariana? As editor in Chief I have grown to expect more from you!

Take that feminism, a one-two punch right to ovaries, putting us firmly back in our purple painted place.

Color me unimpressed, Huffington Post.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Emily update

Emily took her first steps today. Three of them in quick succession and then four running steps down the hall later on.

She also is cutting three teeth simultaneously...she started with her two bottom, then her EYE teeth, which is weird, and now she is cutting her two front teeth and on molar on the left side.

She is getting so big. She says more, and Ta (for thank you), and banana, and daddy and Benja, and Mama. She can High five, wave buh-bye and blow a kiss. She also knows the signs for milk, sleeping, eating, and poop (which she then does on her potty).

She's so clever! and man alive that smile!

She also eats like a full sized kid eats. She is phenomenal!

Tomorrow is benjamin's first school play. I am so excited to see my little guy.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Birthday Brainfreeze

I don't know what it is like in the States, but here in Latin America it seems like the birthday party is a yard stick by which one measures the popularity of the kids and the social status of the family.

We have been to three of five birthday parties so far and they all seem to be these hyper choreographed events with actors hired to "entertain" and play characters and matching cakes and cups, and expensive gifts for all the invited guests, not to mention food and drink and parting gifts for their family members who all come's a HUGE socializing affair every other week and at the last one at least four moms had their NANNIES there so they could kick back and enjoy the conversation with their friends at the country club. And the last one was a Saturday afternoon outdoors...I had on jeans and a t-shirt and my sneakers thinking it might actually be a casual affair (as we were lead to believe by the hostess) and all the other moms were done up to the nines...some had jeans, but with heels, and coiffed hair and professional make-up. I felt like such a schlep, but the funny thing is when I left the house I actually felt sort of cute.

I feel so out of place. Don't get me wrong, they are lovely parties and we are grateful to be included, and to have such generous parents in his class. They really go all out and it is so nice to be included. And they are just as sweet as can be, really. But I feel so disconnected. I feel like I'm sitting in on a filming session of the Real Housewives of Bogota, and meanwhile I've probably got banana smeared somewhere on my clothes or in my hair and I'll be the butt of the table's joke when we finally leave. If these are the Jones, we aren't even in sprinting distance of their level, let alone thinking about keeping up.

So next month is Benjamin's 6th birthday and originally I was thinking of just having something at our apartment for his closest 4-5 friends and the four of us and maybe a couple co-worker's families, inviting my friend who is a magician and a professional clown over to make some balloon animals with the kids and maybe teach them all a magic I am having serious anxiety, like flashbacks to being the nerdy kid no one wanted at their party and who sat waiting on the front steps until dusk for no one to show up to her party sort of anxiety.

And Jamie doesn't help as he just wants us to give the kids a present at breakfast and forget about it the rest of the day, and there's no happy medium for him at all. If it can't be huge, why bother. And I what if he hasn't got any friends to come anyway, and we're sitting there eating cake for 30 people for the next 2 months. Why can't we just have SOME friends over, why does it have to be all or nothing? Why can't I just show off my ace-of-cake-iness while playing some fun games with a half a dozen kids? Why do their parents have to come along and make me feel all self-conscious and flustered?

No, apparently we are expected to invite the whole class of 25 kids and then some, and then we're expected to feed the kids and their parents and possibly their brothers and sisters, too. And then there's the fact that no one here RSVPs, and so we might have 25 show up or we might have one...or none, and then what? I just wish Easter would sync up with his birthday again so we could run away to the beach as a family and be done with it all. I am properly freaked out...

I just want to make a fun cake, have pizza and soda for the kids and beer for us grown ups, with a few friends and some games and music. I was even thinking of doing it in the park, picnic that totally unacceptable? Do we even need to ask?

I did not expect this to become so complicated nor fraught with so many emotional landmines.

Should I give in and just splash out and get the pre-planned all inclusive party room at the nearest party salon du jour and just go along with the crowd and get my hair and nails done before the EVENT, or should I stick to my original plan and let my six year old pay the price in popularity points, but give him the gift of a model of integrity and courage? And since when are birthday parties such defining moments of one's childhood?


Saturday, 3 July 2010

Why is broken beautiful?

So in my "research" into the effects of reality TV on our society I have been watching past cycles of America's Next Top Model and I have come across a phrase that has me really worried about the future for my little girl in society.

You look fantastic, like a broken doll.

There's that amazing broken babydoll look.

You've got that fierce broken look, amazing!

Broken. Their word. The bodies twisted and contorted to appear as though they have dropped down a flight of stairs and reassembled by a blind amputee. Broken as if thrown from the roof of a building and collapsed onto the pavement below. Broken as if beaten within an inch of their lives. Broken.

Perhaps I should, in the words of one Project Runway judge "lighten up, it's just fashion!" but I find it utterly terrifying to think that this is the new trend in modeling. Because I've BEEN a fifteen year old girl, and I KNOW that even a level-headed young lady with a brain full of IQ points and two feminist maternal figures in her life looks up to the fashion magazine editors to tell them what boys want in terms of beauty "today". They rely on the expert opinions of fashion stylists to tell them what looks good. And they will do their best to replicate those ideals in their own life. So it's hardly surprising that numbers for self mutilation and eating disorders are climbing to new and terrifying heights while fashion mags continue to push emaciated and "broken" paper dolls on the pages of the teenaged girls' guides to life. When did we lose sight of the healthy, powerful image of the superwoman and revert back to the imagery of the battered, atrophied, clothes hangers? How can I protect my little girl from the passive and active violence of society that is visited upon each and every woman in some form or fashion (of form of fashion as it so happens) when this is the industry standard for beauty?

Broken, awkward, collapsed, weak, exposed = fierce and sexy?

They tell them not to have opinions, not to over think it, to not be so intellectual or controlled. They praise the girls who hang like limp marionettes, but "smile with the eyes".

Let's hope my generation of mothers can say to their daughters, you are better than this. You are beautiful in your strength. Your voice and your health and your mind are the things that make you beautiful, not your angles, or your eyes, or your nose. Not your "smize". Is it your laughter. Love. Opinions. Ideas. Innnovation. Communication. Eloquence and Passion. A healthy body fed on real foods; a healthy mind fed on curiosity and insight; and a soul that is nurtured and fed the food of intellectual thought, philosophical and spiritual intrigue and creative expression. Let mothers says to their daughters: Fashion may define beauty as broken, but don't let them have the final word. Let your beauty be one of strength and power and on your terms. And let us all pray that our voices will resonnate more loudly than theirs.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

What does reality TV have to do with reality anyway?

Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I am addicted to Reality TV. It all started off innocently enough as a research project for my Media and Culture unit for my English A2 classes. I thought I'd examine what these shows say about our society and in fact how they contribute to the degradation of our society.

Then I started looking at the media PACKAGE that goes along with these shows, the websites, the blogs the fansites, the books, there is a virtual empire of press that goes along and with the increase of interactive media being what it is today, not only can you examine the shows and the effect thay have on YOU, you actually get an insight into how it affects the auidence. You can see the anger, the vitrol of the viewers, and the undying loyalty the give, and the human connection these shows obviously provide to what one can only assume is a desperately socially deprived viewership.

Hello, Kettle? This is pot. I'm writing this note to let you know in the kindest way possible, that you are black.

Yes, I am aware of the irony of my statement as I post this on my blog.

Well here comes the worst part. I have been sucked into the vortex that is Bravo TV. I read the blogs. I post comments to them and find myslf feeling egregiously outraged that Bravo fails to post my shamefully frequent and verbose responses to the blogs time and time again. I post comments like "Bravo won't publish this anyway, so I don't even know whay I am writing this but..." I read other people's posts and I shake my head as though to say to myself, channelling my cantankerous grandfather in his battered plaid upholstered armchair, "now that right there is everything that's wrong with these kids today!"

I want to be a part of the great greek chorus, to chime in from the peanut gallery with my two cents, which I am convinced is worth much much more. I am certain that MY comment, if only Bravo would see fit post it, will break through the blogosphere and connect with the person in question and give them something to mull over at night and it will change their lives.

I have lost my bleeding mind. I do know that.

But since I've gone any of you (and by you I mostly mean my two sisters and sometimes my mom, who I am fairly certainly are my only "readership") watch The Real Housewives of New York City, and if you do, do you know what I have been trying/DYING to say to model/writer/fashionista/walking-mannequin Kelly? (Damn Andy Cohen for not choosing my questions for the reunion, BTW!)

This is what happens when people spend their formative years of ages 15-25 surrounded by people that couldn't care less about real issues and who just glaze over everything you say with "OMG you're so gorgeous. I like LOVE those shoes!" This is what happens when you are allowed to go through life never being forced to defend the crap we all spoke as teenagers.

At one point in every intelligent woman's life there comes a time when someone, a teacher, a parent, a boss, a mentor, has pulled her aside and said "You sound like an eff-ing moron. Either start listening and start making sense or marry rich and get a good pre-nup. Because no matter how pretty you are, it's not going to last long enough for you to get away with being that dumb forver." Am I right? That obviously never happened to Kelly. She still thinks she is cute enough to not need to make sense. And her skin looks like bacon. Am I the only one who sees that?!

And if she could at least LAUGH about it. If she could say "Heh, yeah I know I speak a lot of rubbish, I'm just not good at being on the spot. LOL" I could respect her. If she could say "Yeah, I am really shallow and I do not give a toss about real issues or values or all. It's who I am." At least she would be smart enough to know she's a vapid airhead, but she's so far gone she tries to DEFEND her idiocy. She tries to rationalize the irrational. And what's worse still is she thinks she does a pretty good job of making herself understood, and if she can't make you understand, she shouts "why do we have to keep rehashing this, feelings are so 1979, just celebrate who I am."

What the ever living what?!?

Sorry, but I cannot, and will not celebrate stupidity, no matter how cute it looks in satin bunny ears. It is a cancer in our society; it breeds like mould in a bread drawer slowly disintegrating perfectly healthy cells in a matter or whatever...ya know, like...totally...KWIM? OMG! RU 4 REELZ? It's like...