Pop Culture, Rants, Suburban

Rehtaeh Parsons – Do her alleged “rapists” deserve our open hearts and minds?

writing76Last week, I published a blog post about Rehtaeh Parsons, the Cole Harbour girl who committed suicide following an alleged sexual assault and the subsequent bullying that followed. (see post below)

Today I received an interesting comment from someone with the handle TruthSeeker. It invites a different perspective. While I disagree with most of what the poster has to say, I do agree that we can’t start a witch-hunt. We can pressure our lawmakers and politicians to pursue a very difficult case, but we shouldn’t be taking the law into our own hands.

Kindness nurtures kindness; hate nurtures hate. And right now, there is a lot of hate floating around out there. Perhaps instead of ranting and raving about how could such a thing happen and kids today and how this wouldn’t have happened in MY day (yeah, it did…it just didn’t get spread all over the internet) we could try working on our own little circles – be kind to ourselves, each other. I want justice to be served, but hate isn’t going to get us there.

I invite you to read what TruthSeeker has to say, along with my follow-up comments, and let me know what YOU think. I understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I have a very hard time believing that Rehtaeh Parsons was able to give informed consent to four of her male  classmates so that they could have sex with her, photograph the act, and then send the picture around to their peers. Call me crazy, but something about that story doesn’t ring true for me.

Law and Order - This is where I get most of my legal 'knowledge'.
Law and Order – This is where I get most of my legal ‘knowledge’.

p.s. I have been advised by a lawyer-friend that I don’t understand the ins-and-outs of the law very well. Which makes sense seeing as I have an English degree, not a law degree. Since he’s much smarter than me in all things legal, here’s what he had to say: Regrettably the law is not as cut and dry as we would like it to be. Law is an absolute premise (statutes saying you can’t do this or that), justice is the contextual premise. Your commentator is correct. We cannot presume guilt because of age, alcohol, the numbers involved. Just because it looks criminally icky (and it does look very icky) does not mean when the evidence is reviewed, or heard that it would qualify as a breach of the law.

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Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

The Sunshine Award – Yes, it’s all about me.

Sunshine Award

You like me! You really like me!

It appears I am a Sunshine Girl! A lovely lady over at http://1tric.wordpress.com/
nominated me for this blogging award. She follows me, I follow her – everyone wins by getting to read interesting posts on a regular basis.

I’m not really sure what a Sunshine Award means, but it’s a very pretty icon and I guess it’s better than a kick in the pants, so I’ll take it. Hooray for me!

The award comes with some rules that I must follow. They are:

* Make sure to post this award on your blog site. – Done
* Nominate ten fellow bloggers. – Done (see bottom of page and everyone over on the side, as well.)
* Please answer the ten questions. – and…Done-er-i-no.

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I was tired of stifling my voice. As public servants and members of a union, teachers are expected (and actually required, in most cases) to keep their opinions to themselves. As someone who is, how shall I say it nicely, not exactly quiet about her opinions, I needed a place to vent, share and express myself.

2. How did you come up with a name for your blog?

I have always wanted to write a book called, Confessions of a Suburban Princess. I figured this blog would put me on the road to that goal. But the name, Suburban Princess, was already taken, so I tagged ‘Teacher’ on to the end and decided I actually prefered it.

3. What is your favorite blog to read?

http://thebloggess.com/ She makes me laugh with every post. She also inspired me to write this blog. After I read her best-selling book,  I thought, “Damn! That girl is crazier than a cat in a paper bag and she wrote a blog and a book. Maybe I could, too!”  Check her out…you won’t be sorry.

4. Tell me about your dream job.

I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up but my dream job should include beagles, George Clooney, wine and chocolate.

5. Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

It’s usually completely empty…I’m a chugger.

6. If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Barcelona, Spain.

7. What food can you absolutely not eat?

Liver. It’s disgusting. I had to eat it once a month when I was a teenager because my mother was convinced it would raise my iron levels when I was men-stru-ate-ing. Helllooo? Had we not heard of iron supplements in the 80’s?? There’s really no need to eat an animals’ internal organs.

8. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

I’d like to say dark because it’s politically correct and all, but no…I could eat milk chocolate until it flowed from my orifices like lava. Pour it overtop of a soft gummy bear and you have my heart forever.

9. How much time do you spend blogging?

Not a lot. I don’t like it to get in the way of my “Vampire Diaries” watching.

10. Do you watch TV? If so, what are your favorite shows?

Of course I watch TV…what do you think I am? Amish? I LOVE TV and now that I have Netflix, I may never go back to work. I’ll just sit at home, eating my milk chocolate, watching series after series…ahhhh, bliss. Favorite shows? Vampire Diaries, Days of our Lives, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, What not to Wear…yes, I am an intelligent girl.

That’s it for the questions about ME. (Sadly.) And now, for the final part of this assignment: ten of my favorite bloggers. Check them out, if you have time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with. Also: I love the people down the side of my blog. They are cool, too. Enjoy.

OTHER AWESOME BLOGGERS

1. http://carrieblueberry.wordpress.com/

2. http://illbeoutinaminute.com/

3. http://siobhancurious.com/

4. http://5kidswdisabilities.com/

5. http://anotherthousandwords.wordpress.com/

6. http://ineedanewman.wordpress.com/

7.  http://peachyteachy.wordpress.com/

8.  http://pamela984.wordpress.com/

9. http://yacantgohome.wordpress.com/

10. http://thefoodgirlintown.wordpress.com/

Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Suburban

How to keep your teen from building a pornography bomb in your basement

writing47

If your teens are like my teens, chances are they are cave dwellers. And by caves, I mean bedroom or basement inhabitants.

Despite their cocooning tendencies, I know (because the experts have told me) that I must keep the lines of communication open. I need to protect them from all of the evils that lurk on the internet and beyond.

So, when my children shut themselves off in their bedrooms, I like to make numerous visits in order to ensure all is well and everyone is safe.

If you would like to follow my shining example, since I am a self-proclaimed teen-raising expert, here is an example of the conversations I repeatedly have with my spawn. (You’re welcome.)

In order to protect their fragile identities, the Heir (age 17) shall hereby be known as William, while the Spare (age 14) shall be called Harry.

Me: (knocking quietly, then barging into Young Harry’s room) Hey! What are you doing?

Harry: (switching the screen to black) Nothing.

Me: (smiling) You can’t be doing nothing. What were you looking at?

Harry: (not smiling): Just stuff.

Me: You know, honey. There are lots of…bad things on the internet. And sometimes we don’t mean to open them, but we do and then you might see something you don’t want to see…

Harry: (sighing loudly and rolling his eyes): You caught me. I was looking at pornography. Lots and lots of pornography. It’s just a big old porn fest in here, Mom.

Me: Very funny. Can I see what you’re doing? I read that parents are supposed to be aware of what their children are doing. It makes kids feel safer.

Harry: Wow, yeah. I feel really safe right now with you stalking me and barging into my room.

(He turns his screen back on and I see what looks like a regular word document.)

Harry: I’m doing my homework. Are you happy now?

Me: (sheepish now): Yes, actually, I am. Thank you for sharing with me.

(I start to leave.)

Harry: I’ll make sure to add lots of pornography to it before I’m done!

(I race from the room.)

Harry: SHUT MY DOOR!

I head down the stairs to check on the Heir, who has been locked in his teen-man cave for hours now. I can hear new age music blasting through the door. I knock and then barge in…it’s my thing.

Me: Hey! What’cha doin’?

William: (Not taking his eyes off the screen) What do you want?

(I look around his messy, smelly dark room and move to open the curtains.)

William: (without breaking eye contact with the screen): Don’t open those. The glare makes it impossible to see the screen.

Me: Your room is like a dungeon. You could be hiding a body in here.

William: You caught me, Mom. It’s under the bed. Don’t look. It’s pretty gross.

Me: Ha ha. It certainly smells like you could have a body under your bed.

William: Why are you here? (Still staring the screen, while simultaneously working a Rubics cube into perfection.)

Me: Did you hear the story in the news about the kids who built a bomb and took it to school? Their parents said later they hadn’t been in their sons’ bedrooms in months. They had no idea what their kids were doing in their own house.

(I start sifting through some of the dirty (?) clean (?) clothes on the floor.)

William: So, you’re in here looking for a bomb? Oh my God! I better hide the pieces. (He shoves the Rubics cube down the front of his shirt.)

Me: You and your brother are horrible children, you know that? I am just trying to be a good mother.

William: You’re a great mom.

Me: (heart lifting) Really?

William: Yeah. (turns back to the screen) Can you shut the door on your way out?

Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

Why I can’t get cocky about my mental health.

writing34You should never get cocky about your mental health.

I should know. For the most part, I’m a confident, easy-going woman. I have an amazing family and a ridiculous number of incredible friends. My life is full of an abundance of riches.

And yet I’ve suffered from depression.

Mental illness can strike any of us. It doesn’t discriminate.

I’ve seen an 8-year-old boy crawling on the floor, barking like a dog because of a mental illness that has been made worse because of years of abuse and neglect.

I’ve seen a teenager who has suffered with anger issues and hormonal imbalances all of his life, suddenly discover drugs and spiral out of control.

I’ve seen a big, strong, confident man brought to his knees by depression.

Thousands of stories just like these play out every day, all over the world.

And yet many suffer in silence, too ashamed to admit that they have a problem. They are afraid of what other’s might think or how it might affect their position at work. And some of these fears are valid. Individuals still face the possibility of discrimination and recriminations when they disclose a mental illness.

Sometimes though, people do get the strength and the courage to reach out for help for their spouse, their child, or themselves, only to be told that help isn’t available.

They are often told that the wait-time for mental health services is months away. That’s too long a wait when you are on suicide watch for your 13-year-old daughter.

As a teacher, I often hear those in the “back to basics’ camp calling for less focus on helping children understand their feelings, so that more time can be spent on their math and spelling skills. They say it like self-esteem is a dirty word. As any teacher knows, a student with a mental health issue is a student who isn’t learning like they could. Our first priority as teachers is for our student’s well being. End of discussion.

Bell Canada started the Bell Let’s Talk fundraising campaign in 2010 and has since committed to investing $62 million in Canadian mental health initiatives. Some have criticized Bell, saying their campaign is nothing more than a marketing strategy designed to promote their brand and their products.

To that I say, well…duh. It’s marketing 101, not rocket science, people.

But if their program helps reduce the stigma around mental health and the money donated allows more access to quicker mental health services, then I don’t care why they are doing it.

You see, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have the financial means to access treatment, be it therapy, when needed or medication, when necessary. I also have the support of loving friends and family.

But I know how privileged I am.

Many Canadians don’t have that. Which is why we need to be there for each other.

So, thank you, Bell.

And Canada?

Let’s keep talking.

writing33

Pop Culture, Rants

Forgive me, Oprah, for I have sinned.

writing14Poor Lance. Should I cue the violins now?

I watched Lance Armstrong deliver his carefully crafted confession to the great omnipotent Oprah Winfrey last night and I was struck by a thought:

I don’t care.

I don’t care if he used performance-enhancing drugs. I really don’t. We know most of the competitors in the Tour de France were doping. Basically, it was the All Drug Bike Race. And that’s OK with me. You want to fill your body with a cocktail of chemicals that will likely give you all sorts of health problems? Fill yer boots.*

I don’t care.

Here’s what pisses me off about Lance Armstrong.

He’s a bully. And an ass. And his confession to Oprah does nothing to change that.

Year after year, he lied and lied and lied again. He threatened friends and foes alike, and filed lawsuits against those who dared to speak the truth.

Even worse, he betrayed those who trusted him. Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, some people continued to take him at his word. When you put your faith in a liar, you’re forever changed.

In last night’s interview, he denied coercing or bullying his teammates into taking drugs. It was such a bold-faced lie, delivered in the same robotic tone as the rest of his comments, that it was astonishing. Based on everything he said about winning at all costs and everything his teammates have said about him, it’s obvious to anyone with a brain in their head that he ruled his team with an iron fist. What he said was law. Dope as I say or bike away.

Lance’s well-maintained façade has fallen but his arrogance and self-delusion live on.

Lie to everyone and then confess to Oprah?

Spare me.

Please…spare us all.

 

*(Personally, I think it’s pretty stupid to be doing steriods after you’ve just finished battling prostate cancer. Seriously, dude, you only have ONE testical left and you want to put steriods into your body?!)

Pop Culture, Princess, Raves, Suburban

Smart, funny women who will make you pee your pants…just a little.

I love smart, funny women. I love them in books, on TV, and in real life…especially real life. I am lucky beyond belief that I am surrounded by these women every day. At night, when they all go home to their own beds, I like to read about smart, funny women. It makes my husband’s snoring easier to deal with.
These are 5 books by smart, funny women that I guarantee will make you snort with laughter. And, if you are of a certain age (like me), you may just pee a little bit.

writing111. Bossypants Tiny Fey

I want to BE Tina Fey when I grow up, so it makes sense that I would love her book. She is smart, talented, funny and sexy in that “I’m sexy because I’m smart” kind of way. Her book literally made me laugh outloud  or LOL, as the kids say. (Note: My son just advised me that the kids don’t say LOL anymore. Damn it! I am sooo behind the times.)

Best part: I think of this whenever someone says to me, “Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny,” or “Christopher Hitchens says women aren’t funny,” or “Rick Fenderman says women aren’t funny…Do you have anything to say about that?” Yes. We don’t fucking care if you like it.

You tell ’em, Tina.

writing122. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? Mindy Kaling

I just finished reading this book, much to the relief of my poor long-suffering husband, who was awakened numerous times by my hysterical snorts of laughter just as he was drifting off to sleep. I put up the back cover of her book instead of the front for a reason: it is adorable. She is so non-Hollywood. It’s part of her charm that comes through in her writing. Like Tina Fey, she seems ridiculously well-adjusted for a successful television writer, actor and producer.

Best part: Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that when you graduate but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life.”

Seriously: this girl should be giving commencement speeches at high schools across North America.

 writing93.  I know I am, but what are you? Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee is a correspondent and writer for one of my fantasy boyfriends, Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show. Not only is she clever and sharp and funny, she is also Canadian! Which means she makes references to Timbits and Ontario throughout her book (and doesn’t even explain them)!

One really good part: “I have old lady hands; I’ve always had them. If you look at pictures of me as an infant, you’d think that the hands of tiny eighty-year-old hooker had been Photoshopped onto my otherwise smooth, alabaster baby body.”

writing104.  Are You There, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler is not someone I would pick as a best friend. To be honest, she’s kind of scary. Her humour is sharp and dark and I am pretty sure she would make fun of me at a party and then go home with my boyfriend. That doesn’t mean she isn’t laugh-out-loud funny.

One of my favorite parts where she talks about dating a guy with red hair for the first time: I’m not a finicky person when it comes to pubic hair maintenance and I certainly don’t expect men to shave it all off, leaving themselves looking like a hairless cat. That’s even creepier than seeing what Austin had, which could really only be compared to one thing: a clown in a leg lock.

OMG Chelsea – you are B-A-D.

writing135. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson might just be one of the funniest writers ever. Her childhood recollections are nothing short of bizarre. The part where her father pretends to have found a talking squirrel, only for her to discover that he’s actually using road kill as a hand-puppet? Priceless.

Typical piece from Jenny’s book (I call her Jenny because I am hoping someday we’ll be BFFs and hang out together and stuff): “When I was in junior high I read a lot of Danielle Steele. So I always assumed that the day I got engaged I’d be naked, covered in rose petals, and sleeping with the brother of the man who’d kidnapped me. And also he’d be a duke. And possibly my stepbrother.”

She did a thing on that scary Elf on a Shelf dude that had me laughing long after I went to bed and turned out the lights…much to hubby’s dismay once again…seriously, his life is hell. Oh well. Here’s a link to Jenny’s blog so you too can keep your husband up at night: http://thebloggess.com/

****Bonus funny part from Bossypants. Tiny Fey does a fake take on “Growing Up and Liking It” – a handout that was included in maxi-pads for girls starting their period.

Dear Ginny,

I finally got my “friend” today!! Yay!! It’s about time! If I roller-skate while I’m MEN-STRU-HATING, will I die?

Dear Pam,

Of course you can roller-skate. Don’t be silly! But be careful of odor, or neighborhood dogs might try to bite your vagina. Friends Forever, Ginny.

*** I read this aloud to my husband, while tears streamed down my cheeks, barely getting the words out I was laughing so hard. He responded by saying, “I didn’t need to hear that.”

And THAT, my friends, is why I need smart, funny WOMEN in my life.

Pop Culture

“Merry Christmas! The shitter was full!” And other great lines from Christmas movies

Cousin Eddie - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Cousin Eddie – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

During the Christmas holidays, there’s nothing better than spending a day in your jammies watching Christmas movies. Some of my favorites have the best lines…some are touching, some are sad, but most are hilarious. In no particular order, here are my favorites.

7. Elf  – In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years or you’re Amish and don’t own a television set, the premise of this hilarious movie involves a man named Buddy who has been raised by Poppa Elf in the North Pole. When he suddenly realizes he is actually human, he leaves Santa’s workshop in search of his “real” father, who lives in New York City. Needless to say, Buddy has a few difficulties fitting in. The movie works because Will Farrell plays Buddy like an innocent. He is Buddy, the wide-eyed elf. I love the whole movie but these are two of my favorite parts.

Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

I love when Buddy realizes the department store Santa isn’t the real Santa.

Buddy: You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don’t smell like Santa…You sit on a throne of lies!

I also love when Buddy tells his new dad about his plans are for their first day together.

Buddy: First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle. 

Will Farrell in Elf - enjoying the four food groups.
Will Farrell in Elf – enjoying the four food groups.

 

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Charles Shultz was the master of pulling at our heartstrings, while at the same time making us laugh. A Charlie Brown Christmas has endured since 1966 because we feel for Charlie Brown (well, that and the great jazz soundtrack and the funny lines…). One of my favorite parts is a small exchange between Lucy, the director of the play and Frieda, who hasn’t yet grasped the true meaning of the Christmas story.

Lucy: You’re the innkeeper’s wife.

Frieda: Did innkeeper’s wives have naturally curly hair?

Damn, I love Frieda. It’s all about the hair.

Frieda is the good looking redhead at the back. Check out her naturally curly hair.
Frieda is the good looking redhead at the back. Check out her naturally curly hair.

 

5. It’s a Wonderful Life

I’ll leave this one to Clarence, the angel who shows George what things would have been like if he had never been born.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

Clarence's gift
Clarence’s gift

 

4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Best Christmas-themed rant EVER!  

Clark Griswold: [Once he realizes his much expected bonus is actually a jelly-of the-month-club membership] If this isn’t the biggest bag-over-the-head, punch-in-the-face I ever got, GOD DAMN IT! Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

A membership to the Jelly-of-the-month Club will not pay off the pool Clark has promised.
A membership to the Jelly-of-the-month Club will not pay off the pool Clark has promised.

Check it out on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQXuazYI_YU

 

3. The Polar Express This was a favorite book of mine before it became a movie. My father read it aloud to my boys for the first time when they were very young and when he was done, he shook a little bell he had hidden in his pocket. My boys’ eyes just about popped out of their heads.

 The Boy: At one time most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me… as it does for all who truly believe.

Can you hear the bell?
Can you hear the bell?

 

2. The Sound of MusicI realize that this is not, technically, a Christmas movie but they always air it at Christmas time, so I think it fits. Love, love, love this movie. I mean, really…how DO you solve a problem like Maria? Oh, Julie Andrews! I wanted to be you so badly. I still do. The world’s spunkiest nun with the voice of an angel. She even made me want to be a nun for awhile…of course, a nun who eventually marries a rich Captain…and without the seven children. This is a scene from the very beginning when Maria has been called to the Reverend Mother’s office for what she thinks is a reprimand.

Maria: I can’t seem to stop singing wherever I am. And what’s worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things – anything and everything I think and feel.

Mother Abbess: Some people would call that honesty.

Maria: Oh, but it’s terrible, Reverend Mother.

I hear ya, Maria. I have the exact same problem.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with doe, rae, me.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with doe, rae, me.

 

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr. Seuss sums it all up.

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.

wahoo dorey, da who dorey, welcome, welcome Christmas cheer
wahoo dorey, da who dorey, welcome, welcome Christmas cheer

Feel free to share your favorite Christmas movies or movie quotes in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.