Crazed In the Kitchen: August 2013   

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thanks to CNN, I have rage in me

Thanks to CNN, I have rage in me. And not just a little rage. A whole lot of white-hot, burning, what-the-hell-is-humanity-coming-to rage.

Of course, it’s not CNN’s fault. They just report the news, after all. It’s what’s happening in the news these days that has made me so completely irate.

Here’s what I mean:

Everyday I check my CNN app. I’ve been thankful to have it when big news stories were breaking—like the Trayvon Martin decision and the royal baby’s birth. (Hey, shut up. It was big news for some of us.) But lately, the news I’ve been reading on my CNN app is at best making me want to stick my fingers in my ears and yell “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” and is at worst filling me with the aforementioned white-hot burning rage.

Mostly, it’s the rage.

For example, here is a screenshot of what I saw on my phone today:

From top to bottom, here’s what we have: victim blaming, rapist sympathy, blatant ignorance, the New York Times, and homophobia.

I didn’t read the New York Times article, and I don’t think it would make me mad. So let’s not worry about that one.

But let’s go ahead and talk about the others.

First of all, let’s talk about “Girl raped, kills self; rapist gets 30 days.” Let’s talk about that one. Because, seriously, WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK CAN BE GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY THAT THIS CAN HAPPEN?

Here’s the gist of this disturbing story: A 49-year-old high school teacher entered into a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student.

Wait a minute. Stop. That right there seems to me to be all you need to know, right? An adult in a position of power had sex with a child. A CHILD. Doesn’t seem that complicated to me.

Sadly, there’s more: The teacher was charged and as the case progressed, the victim committed suicide—apparently at least in part because of the emotional fallout she suffered from the assault and its aftermath.

Please please please get the full details at CNN, but after some ups and downs, the case came before a judge on Monday. Prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence for the teacher, who had previously admitted to one of the rape charges. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Seems like the least he could do, right?

But then? THEN? Then he suspended all but 30 days of the sentence.

That’s right. The 49-year-old male teacher who had sex with his 14-year-old student will spend just 30 days in jail. Because the judge said that, in taped interviews, the girl seemed “older than her chronological age” and seemed to have had “as much control of the situation” as her teacher did.

I. Can’t. Even.

As tragic as it is that the girl took her own life, it really shouldn’t matter to the case. Even if she had overcome this awful period of her life—gone on to college, fallen in love, married, built a career, had children—even THEN it wouldn’t change the facts of the case. She was raped. Her rapist should be punished, severely. And 30 days in jail does NOT count as “severely.” Not even close.

(And if it turns out that we can be judged not by our chronological age but by the age we act, then I should either be able to shop at Forever 21 again or qualify for an AARP discount at the movies, depending on the day. But neither is actually possible, because my chronological age is forty and that’s the ONLY AGE I HAVE!)

*Blogger takes a deep cleansing breath and starts to let go of the rage…*

*But then she looks at this picture again*

What else do we have here? For one, the Hannah Anderson article. In it, the sister of the 40-year-old man who allegedly kidnapped 16-year-old Hannah has said that the girl was “trouble,” and that she believes her brother is, in fact, the victim.

I. Just. Can’t.

It does seem that there are undisclosed details of this case that may explain more about the relationship between these two and what happened, and I can’t blame DiMaggio’s sister for demanding more information from the authorities. But to me it boils down to this: She is 16. He was 40. Unless she willingly went camping in the Idaho wilderness with him (while wearing pajama pants, no less), then SHE is the victim.

That one makes me mad, but we’ll just have to wait and see how angry I feel when all the details of the case finally emerge.

What’s next? How about this: Nine children and seven adults, all of whom have ties to a Texas mega-church that preaches against immunization, have been stricken by measles. Many of them had never been immunized. The church’s senior pastor said this about their stand against immunizations: “The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time."

Just. Please. Stop.

Then go ahead and read this here article HERE that says, once again, that there are no scientifically proven ties between vaccines and autism.

Finally, we have the Cory Booker story. Booker is the mayor of Newark, NJ, and is running for the state’s U.S. Senate seat. Apparently, there are people out there who wonder whether Booker is straight or gay. Booker told The Washington Post this week that he responds to questions about his sexuality by saying, in essence, “Who cares?” NOT “I’m straight, but who cares?” and NOT “I’m gay, but who cares?” Just plain old, “Who cares?” I love this, because by answering the question he’d be implying that his sexual orientation somehow mattered and had some bearing on his ability to govern. And, of course, it doesn’t.

Well, wait a minute. That’s not rage. Where’s the rage?

Here it is: Booker’s rival, Republican Steve Lonagan, thinks Booker’s remarks are “weird.” He says, “As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how [Booker] likes to go out at three o’clock in the morning for a manicure and pedicure,” a practice that Lonagan called a “fetish.”

Please. Make. All. Of. This. Stop.

So, a man is gay because he gets manis and pedis? Wait…not just gay, but a fetishist??? AND the fact that Cory Booker gets manis and pedis is A) newsworthy to some people, and B) relevant to his ability to govern?


Well, Booker may not always comment on his sexuality, but he has fully admitted to getting manis and pedis. And he has said that both are great but pedis, especially, are “transformative.”

Well, duh. But this is still NOT NEWS and still DOES NOT SPEAK TO HIS ABILITY TO GOVERN.


Oh, crap. I just thought of something. If a man who gets manicures must be gay, then a woman who never gets manicures must also be gay, right?

Shhhh…no one tell my husband our marriage is a sham. My ragged fingernails are proof.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gee, thanks, Miley Cyrus, for leading me down a twerking internet rabbit hole last night

So, look.  I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards. I didn’t even know they were on yesterday until I got on Facebook. I wasn’t even aware that MTV still gave video awards—I thought they had given up on videos altogether.

But then, like I said, I got on facebook, and I was bombarded with “news” of Miley Cyrus’s bizarre performance at the VMAs. My friend Meredith over at the awesome blog Pile of Babies posted a link to a series of gifs on Buzzfeed taken from the performance—check it out HERE. Go on. It’s important—people are talking about this sh*t everywhere.

See? Obviously, I was totally confused. I mean, WTF is going on here??? Dancing teddy bears? Lots of twerking and scary tongue-wagging? Assaulting Robin Thicke? Why, Miley? WHY???
What. Am. I. Watching?
It seemed altogether too weird to be random, and that bothered me. There must be an explanation for all of this absurdity. But it was 9:30 pm and I’m 40 and I had an early morning coming up, not to mention children who feel sleep is for the weak. The smart choice would have been to say “screw it” and go to bed.

But I am not always that smart.

AND I have a degree in journalism. That means I’ve been trained to be compulsive about tracking stuff down at times like these. Is there a helicopter circling our neighborhood? Sorry kids—you’re on your own for lunch. Mommy’s stalking the local news sites to find out what’s going on.

Also? I probably need to read more books and stay off the internet after 8 pm.

Yeah, Smith family. I'm with you.
Anyway, regardless of the late hour, I went ahead and Googled Miss Miley. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what she’s all about—I’m probably just too old—but her VMA performance began to make a little (just a little!) more sense when I saw the video for her latest hit. I’m not even going to post it here—it’s inane—but it includes twerking, dancing teddy bears, and Miley’s unnaturally long tongue, just like her VMA performance.

Great. Mystery solved. Time to close the laptop and go to bed, right?

Nope. Not yet. As usual, with answers come more questions.

Now I was confused about twerking. I thought I knew what it was—kind of sticking out your booty and shaking it around while you dance. I don’t do it—someone could get hurt and I don’t think our rental insurance covers stuff like that. But why is Miley getting all the credit for this “new” dance craze? Am I crazy, or has Beyonce been doing this for YEARS? I mean, my husband and I called that move “Doing The Beyonce” until the term “twerking” came along. (My husband won’t twerk for you, but I’ve seen him do it. It’s awesome/terrifying. Truly.)

Well, now I had to Google Beyonce. And twerking. And “Beyonce twerking.”

And what did I find?

I found crap. Loads and loads of internet crap. I know it was a LOT of crap, because I spent a LOT of time looking through it all. I went to bed late, didn’t get enough sleep, and was tired and foggy all day today.

But it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. Because I found these two things.

The first is an SNL spoof of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video, starring Beyonce and the amazing Justin Timberlake. Watch it! It’s awesome:

Justin Timberlake parodies Beyonce by LeNouvelObservateur

(I have a weird crush on JT in that I don’t really like his music and I don’t actually find him all that physically attractive, but I love how he’s willing to make an ass of himself in the name of entertainment.)

The second great thing I found is this video by some guy named Flula. It is the best thing I have seen on the internet maybe ever, and I watch a lot of videos of baby sloths. It’s hard to beat baby sloths on the awesomeness scale, but this guy does it. Check it out:

So, I guess I have to thank Miley Cyrus. Her special brand of cray-cray led me to my new internet obsession: that guy Flula. He has 178 videos on youtube, you guys. I’m off to watch them all. It’s only 10 pm, after all.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Feel Sorry For My Son's Teacher

It’s Back-to-School time, and although our school year hasn’t quite started here, I already feel sorry for my son’s teacher. Here’s why:

For the past couple of years, I’ve been able to ignore the Back-to-School frenzy that seizes the country this time of year. My oldest was in year-round preschool and the only “supplies” we were asked to bring were paper towel rolls and empty milk jugs for art projects, and extra underwear for, well…you know. 

Milk jug Easter Bunny. Duh.
This year, though, I’m in it. My oldest starts Kindergarten next week and we are ALL ABOUT back-to-school here. We’ve been talking about raising your hand and being nice to your friends. We’ve been working to master the essential skill of wiping one’s own butt. My son picked out a Star Wars backpack and some new T-shirts, while I stocked up on Kleenex, chardonnay, and Xanax.

That’s not just me, right?

Academically, he’s ready, too. He’s got mad math skills, thanks to his dad’s genes, and he’s learning how to read and write. See? Here’s a little note he left us taped to the microwave. I do believe that this is the first complete sentence he has ever written.

It says, "NO GO IN BUTT"
We are so proud.

Anyway, I’m not sure his Kindergarten teacher will appreciate all the time he has spent learning to write words like “butt,” “poop,” “pee,” and “fart.” She might even ask me why on earth I taught him how to spell those words.

And though what I’ll be thinking is, “Hey, it kept him quiet for a few minutes,” what I’ll say is something like, “Well, I wanted to encourage his emergent literacy skills while also reinforcing his fine motor skills and letter-sound associations.”

And that’s when she might start to tremble with fear. Because, guess what?

I’m a teacher, too.

Which makes my son a teacher’s worst nightmare: Another teacher’s kid.

Though I’m taking a break from the game right now, I spent 11 years as an elementary school teacher—so I know all about how classrooms work. Even “better,” I spent a good many of those teaching years coaching and mentoring other teachers, so I’m really experienced at evaluating other teachers’ techniques.

And by “evaluating,” I mean, of course, “judging.”

As a mom, I’ve really really really tried hard to keep my professional opinions to myself when my sons have been in various classes. I gritted my teeth and smiled at the 19-year-old Gymboree teacher who spoke to the kids in that fakey-fake sing-song voice some grown-ups use. I bit my tongue hard when an “Art for Tots” teacher told my 3-year-old not to use that color on that picture. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to offer “constructive criticism” to the swim lesson teacher who offered my injured son a piece of gum rather than a band-aid for his bleeding toe. “ARE YOU NUTS???” I screamed in my head each time. “What kind of a teacher are you????”

And, though we are lucky to live in a good school district with great teachers, I know there will be times this year when I will question my son’s teacher’s judgment.

But, for the most part, I will keep my mouth shut.

I will do that because…I’ve been there. Almost every year of my teaching career so far, I’ve had another teacher’s kid in my class. At first it intimidated me to know that another, more experienced teacher was looking over the homework I sent home and quizzing her child about the day’s activities. I calmed down about it as I became more experienced myself, but I still got a little nervous for those parent-teacher conferences.

And the fact that I’ve been there is good news for both me and my son’s teacher. I know what it’s like to be in a classroom full of young kids all day. I know what a teacher means when she says with a forced smile, “This is a really energetic group of students!” I know how hard it is to effectively teach a group of students who are all Kindergarteners by name but whose skills may span several grade levels. I know to help my son take care of his homework folder and notebook because there’s a good chance his teacher spent her own hard-earned money to buy it. I know how hard she works every day…and many evenings…and most weekends…and for a good part of the summer, too.

So, next week I will send my boy off to Kindergarten. I may cry a bit, and I’m sure I’ll worry a lot. And, yeah, I’ll probably look long and hard at the homework he brings home each day. But, unless a major problem arises, I’ll let the teacher do her job—without my advice.

If you're a teacher, you'll love this. Check it out: