Are you UNCOMFORTABLE

Are you uncomfortable yet? GOOD. When you are uncomfortable you look for solutions. When you are uncomfortable to want to make things better.

Black people have been uncomfortable for 400 YEARS!!!!! We have been fighting for our right since we were slaves. We have been fighting for justice since slavery.

How on earth do you go over to a foreign land and STEAL people????? Not only do you steal them, you strip them naked and sell on the slave block like cattle. You sell human beings!!! Let that sink in. Nothing about slavery was happy and joyous for black people. There have been enough movies and books about this that portray this INHUMANE treatment. You separate families. You rape our women and get them pregnant and you are nice enough to put your offspring to work for you in the big house never acknowledging that is your whole ass child. You beat us for running away. You tell us we are not your equal. You tell us we are not human but PROPERTY. You attempt to beat us into submission and oppress us with your lies. You made us take your names because our names were too hard to pronounce or didn’t make sense to you. Some of us, most of us cannot even trace our families because you didn’t keep accurate records and you changed our names. We don’t even know our own damn history because you stole us and re-wrote our history to make yourselves comfortable.

You went to WAR to keep comfort. You went to WAR when you were made to feel comfortable and people called bullshit on slavery and told you it’s INHUMANE. You divided a whole nation because you were uncomfortable. You divide a nation that was built on the back of stolen people on a land that you stole. You did not take the time to understand people who do not look and act like you. You called them savages and told them their culture and way of life was inappropriate.

You see the correlation yet? Are you uncomfortable yet?

Then you lost the WAR and were set “free” with nothing!! Free to do what live like normal folks? How? You told us not read and write? You stripped us of native language and culture. We went out into this world YOU created and were not treated fairly or equally. You saw a slave. You saw an ignorant person not worthy. We were worthy enough to be your maids and take care of your children. We were worthy enough to be your chef and cook your meals. We were worthy enough to wash your dirty clothes. We were worthy enough to keep your yard neat. We were worthy enough to do the domestic work. We were worthy enough to do the work you did not feel worthy enough to do yourself. So we took your crumbs but underneath that mask we couldn’t breathe. We began to educate ourselves. We taught ourselves how to read and write. We learned about your constitution that wasn’t written for us but we wanted the same rights. We were granted the right to vote but actually being able to vote became a challenge and remains a challenge today with voter suppression. You keep giving crumbs and get mad when we choke or ask for more.

We educated ourselves and we bettered ourselves. We were doing good. Life was looking up for us then here come Jim Crow laws. Are you serious????? Purposeful systemic oppression because you were uncomfortable with our gains in the world.

Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Named after a black minstrel show character, the laws—which existed for about 100 years, from the post-Civil War era until 1968—were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education or other opportunities. Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence and death (https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws)

246 years of slavery wasn’t enough. You added another 100 years of oppression. 346 years of systematic oppression.

The legal system was stacked against black citizens, with former Confederate soldiers working as police and judges, making it difficult for African Americans to win court cases and ensuring they were subject to black codes. (https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws)

Enter the KKK. WHITE PEOPLE violence. WHITE PEOPLE protesting. WHITE PEOPLE vandalizing. WHITE PEOPLE keeping us in the box they are comfortable with. How dare we educate ourselves. How dare we try to be human beings. How dare we make white people uncomfortable. How dare we rise out of ashes like a phoenix. How dare we ask for what every other human is allowed to have. We have the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT to end segregation. We have the VOTING RIGHTS ACT to allow us the right to vote without hinderance. We have the FAIR HOUSING ACT to allow to rent and buy homes without discrimination.

But at what point do the minds of people change and become okay with black people being treated fairly. We didn’t ask to be here. We follow the rules, cross our T’s and dot our I’s. We wear a mask to make you comfortable all the while you have your knee on our neck and we can’t breathe. We take one step forward in the right direction to be accepted in this country that you STOLE and STOLE us to build this land and you keep creating rules, laws, and systems to keep us oppressed.

You told us to straighten our hair to make you comfortable. We did by damaging our hair to the point it made us physically sick. You told us we were too dark and some of us bleached our skin. We dressed in a manner that made you comfortable. We spoke in a manner that made you comfortable. We lived in houses that made you comfortable. We wore our mask to make you comfortable with your knee on our neck and not breathing. We played your games and danced your dances. Being an athlete makes you comfortable. You have no problem cheering for us as we win your games and play your sport. We can act in movies and TV shows as long at content makes you comfortable. We have limited our abilities and skills to make you comfortable. After a while that mask became heavy. After a while we couldn’t hide the fact that we are uncomfortable in the skin we are in to make you uncomfortable. After a while we got tired and those bread crumbs you were handing out was not enough.

You need to be uncomfortable. You need to confront your prejudices and stereotypes and racisms. You need to see the flawed systematic oppression that we are experiencing. You need to check your privilege. You need to hold yourself accountable for the silent role you have played. To be silent means you have indirectly taken a side. When folks didn’t vote that nonvote went to the other person. It is the same concept. When you are silent you are agreeing with the other side.

To understand the anger and frustration and rage, you are going to be uncomfortable looking at the reason. When a people are anger they react to the final straw. We didn’t just wake up angry. This is years of built up anger. This is about 400 YEARS!!!!! Check the history that you didn’t learn in school. Schools won’t teach you 400 years of oppression because that makes it uncomfortable and they have to keep us in the box to stay comfortable.

It is time to be uncomfortable. It time to tackle the systematic oppression We aren’t here to comfort you or make this comfortable for you. We are taking our masks off. Either you are with us or not. No more sugar coating the injustice. No more taking crumbs. It’s time to have some hard and uncomfortable conversations . Are you willing to listen and comprehend? Are you uncomfortable enough to make a change? We cannot and will not go back to how things were. 400 years is enough.

Black Lives Matter

In the midst of a global pandemic, black people in America are facing their own pandemic…. racism, inequality, social injustice, systematic oppression. 400 years and 10 months worth of oppression.

My great grandmother was a slave. That’s 3 generations ago.

It’s 2020 and we are STILL fighting for equality.

We have watched and listened. We have silently protested. We have held in our anger. We have held in our rage. We have worn our masks to make folks comfortable while making ourselves uncomfortable. We are tired. George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What makes George Floyd so different? Why now? Whelp white america couldn’t justify his murder. He complied. He was in handcuffs. He was laying face down. There wasn’t a call for well what happened before. What did he do prompt this. NOT A DAMN THING. America watched for 10 TEN MINUTES while this murderer had his knee on his neck. George Floyd died around 3-4 minutes into the video but this filthy murderer kept his knee on his neck.

We have been telling white america for YEARS!!!!! DECADES!!!!! 400 years that the system is damaged. Black people know the system ain’t made for us. But NOW 400 years later you see how it ain’t made for us.

We have to pass laws to not be discriminated for NATURAL hair. The way our hair grows out of scalp makes white america uncomfortable to the point it not deemed professional. So we DAMAGED our hair to make you comfortable and now we have had enough but NO you keep trying to buy us back in YOUR comfort zone by banning hair styles that we have to protect our NATURAL hair.

Then you have the privilege to say ALL LIVES MATTER as a response to BLACK LOVES MATTER!!!!!!!

How dare you diminish the issue. How dare you ignore and continue to avoid the issue. You are part of the problem.

If all lives mattered we would not need a movement to specify BLACK LIVES MATTER. There is no need for a movement if there is not a problem. To not address the problem doesn’t make it disappear. 400 YEARS!!!!!! We’ve been silent, hoping and praying for better. Voting for better. Demanding peacefully for better. Boycotting for better. Not enough has changed.

The system hands us crumbs to shut us up but it’s not enough. We want the same treated as white people. We want what we deserve as humans. Nobody told you to come and STEAL us from our home to create your home on land you STOLE and then treat us like we aren’t even human. Hell we weren’t even human for 246 years we were property. Then we were 3/5 of a person. For 400 years we have been oppressed and enough is enough. So don’t tell me all lives matter when my black life does not matter to the land of free and home of the brave.

Cause this shouldn’t even be a thing we have to explain

While I’m here for you educators check your beliefs and your attitudes towards OUR children. When you don’t acknowledge them and you don’t celebrate them you are causing psychological harm to them. When they come home we as parents gotta undone the damage you did when we trusted you with our child for 6-7 hours a day. When there aren’t books in your classroom that represent our black and brown children you are causing psychological harm. Don’t sit in there and pity our children because you don’t understand their culture. Don’t sit and post about them on social media shaming parents. You go home clear on the other side of town. Your students don’t ever see you outside of school in their community. However for the 6-7 hours you have them you are leaving a mark on their lives. Are you doing your due justice by providing OUR black and brown an effective education. Or are you at that Title 1 school to have your student loans forgiven and then you bounce after you’ve damaged our children? Are you educating yourself about how to effectively educate OUR children?

Our children are not some damn service product. Get to truly know the students you teach. Stop labeling our children. Stop being so quick to diagnosis them with something because they think different and learn differently. It’s called DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION!!!!! Stop putting our children boxes. Little black boys can be more than athletes. Little black girls can be more than mothers.

While I’m here Martin Luther King jr. and Rosa Parks were not the only people involved with civil rights. Harriet Tubman was not the only slave. Stop learning black history that makes you comfortable. Learn about ALL the things we as black people have done and continue to and don’t always get credit for. Imagine what your lives would be like if we took all our inventions away? If we gotta learn about the Holocaust and all of the damn white history, you can take a moment to learn about BLACK HISTORY!!!!

We are not okay. We are done dying. We can’t breathe. Get your knee off our necks. Say their names. Black lives matter. This more than a movement this is revolution.

If you don’t know what to say to us, then say you don’t know what to say.

This list should not be this long. Say their names.

My Decision

January 2020 found the country I live in with a virus outbreak. Over the course of TWO WEEKS mass panic took over. I was on holiday break in Bali. I was not gonna give this issue much thought because I was in BALI. I was not gonna ruin my holiday stressing about what was going on.

However with 3 days left the situation escalated quickly. Emails from work were asking us to return as normally scheduled. Be back by February 3 and self quarantine. School will begin February 17. Stay outside of China or come back became the question I had to answer.
I looked at my bank funds FIRST how long could I really afford to stay out? What happens if I can’t get back into the country? What happens when the money runs out?
I don’t have a ‘home’ in the states. I would have to take myself and my child into other people’s homes until it is okay to return. But when will that be? I know family and friends would let me camp out with them but I HATE LIVING OUT A SUITCASE!!!!! I hate that displaced feeling.
I looked at my child who was slowly going stir-crazy in Bali in the heat. Go figure.

My flight was scheduled to leave 1:30 am January 31. I was to fly from Bali to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Shanghai. I was to take a private car from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

I packed enough for two weeks.

It’s crunch time.

I head to the airport.

I am still unsure of what to do.

I look at Elise. I look around me.

We head to the mall. We had LOADS of time to kill. Go to the mall. It rains. I buy two books. We have lunch. I still don’t know what to do. I grab some masks just in case. I look around and all I see are masks and Chinese folks. I’m aggravated just because I don’t know what to do.

Being an adult sucks.

Flight prices were slowing rising.

The city I live in is not highly effected. I can stay inside right?

I get in line to check in for our flight. MASKS EVERYWHERE!!!!!

A calm peace comes over me as I make a decision.

We board our plane.

We are safely back in China in our apartment. Anytime I leave my temperature is checked. I have to wear a mask. Deliveries are being left at the front gate with the guard.

I legit LIVE here. It’s not so simple to just pack up and leave your home. I gotta worry about a dog and a child. Stress cannot control me and my decisions.

I do not regret returning. I have things here I can catch up on that I have been putting off. I am not worried. I have not been contact with NOT ONE SOUL from Wuhan. I couldn’t even tell you where that place in relation to where I am.

SO please take a deep breath and relax. Stop watching the news. Check your sources before contacting me in a panic. I love you all. I am fine. Elise is fine. I came back for my sanity. I did not want to keep hopping countries. I did not want to keep checking in and out of hotels. I did not want to stress and worry my child or myself.

If the US evacuates my city I will get myself and my child on the flight out. Currently they have only evacuated ground zero.

The end of the first week finds my city on “lockdown”

Lockdown definition: an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger

Yeah I am not prevented from entering or leaving my apartment complex. They have restricted movement. Meaning I get a pick slip marking how many times I allowed to leave. On the 5th of February it was every two days by the 7th it was twice a week. Only places that are open are grocery stores. I can still order items online and have it delivered to the apartment building and as long as that is allowed, that is what I will do. If I do not need to go outside I won’t.

I send work home to my kids online. Elise completes her work online as well. Cabin fever has not set in yet.

The number of airlines no longer flying in and out of China is growing by the day. The number of countries that will allow me to visit coming from China is also growing by the day.

3 Weeks Later

So it’s been 3 weeks since I returned. Some people have left. Some have stayed. Some are returning. We have stayed put. The city is slowly coming back to life. They implemented a health code via QR code. Basically you answer a few questions and you either get a green, yellow or red QR code that let’s people know if you are healthy, at risk, or sick. If you are wondering the validity of this, there were a few cases of folks who lied and they were discovered. (I think this effects locals because of their ID and being connected to the system better than expats. However our passports get scanned as well when we enter and exit at the airport. The point is don’t think you aren’t being tracked) Any who I was gifted with a green QR code. This means I can enter and exit my apartment complex with no issues. Restaurants are open for delivery only. A few restaurants have opened for dine-in service. You still are required to wear a mask. Stores are slowly opening back up. People are outside walking around the apartment complex. School is still scheduled to re-open March 16 pending government approval and the logistics are figured out about how to return to school and keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s complex. We are still doing online learning. This comes with its own set of problems with slow internet speed when you have a billion people using the same platforms roughly at the same time.

We are relaxing working, watching TV, reading books, doing puzzles, cooking….you know trying not to be bored and go stir crazy. LOL

WEEK 6

School will not start on the 16th. No idea when school will reopen. We are now bored. Things are slowly re-opening with limited hours. The virus is now spreading across the world and things are getting downright ridiculous. I watch the news now even less than before . The numbers are dwindling in China so maybe life will be back to normal sometime in April.
Life will go on.

Online Teaching

Okay so I am going on a mini rant and an educational PD.

January 2020 found China faced with a rapidly spreading virus that will become known as the Coronavirus COVID-19. China literally shutdown and everyone was quarantined. It was a mess. Schools were closed and we as teachers were forced and thrown into this online/e-learning world.

Here is my issue I take with this: most schools are not prepared for this. Most teachers have no clue what this looks like. We live in a society where parents are ‘afraid’ of screen time because screen time at home looks a hot ass mess and they think it will apply to schools as well. So when school starts we are told to limit the amount of technology and screen time we use in class and our teaching.

Wait a minute it is the 21st century. Technology is all around us. These kids could probably operate technology in ways I didn’t even know about. Yet you are telling me to keep little Matt engaged and actively learning when all he knows is technology. Yeah okay.

I am a teacher. I am an educator. This means I have enough since, knowledge and wisdom to seek out ways to properly and effectively integrate technology into the classroom without it getting out of hand and it looking like a hot mess. I know how to implement technology to where it is an extension to learning and not a prize for learning. So I won’t turn on YouTube and let the video do the teaching. I won’t download zombies and aliens on the iPad and allow the to play this a reward. I won’t provide unlimited access to the laptop or Chromebook and not check to see what they are doing.

What technology in the classroom looks like: formal instruction.
One we are going over the ground rules. I am explaining how to properly handle the technology. I am explaining what you can and cannot do. I have set up so many teacher/parental controls, you are only allowed on what I say you are allowed. I am monitoring the usage. I am tracking the dates on the apps and websites. They are only on educational sites and apps. Teacher tested, student approved. It aligns with learning goals. It is developmentally appropriate. It is differentiated. I have formally taught a lesson and now I allow to show your learning and take responsibility.

What technology is not: turning on Youtube and letting someone else sing and teach your students. It is not handing over the iPad and say find your name or picture and “play” on the app. It is not opening the laptop/Chromebook and saying you can only access these websites.

We were thrown into online/e-learning at my school. We had not done anything that involved an iPad or laptop. My kids did not have the opportunity to experience learning with technology outside of YouTube, Starfall and ABCya. I had one student I was testing my personal iPad with.
So image telling my parents to download this app so your kid can still learn at home without your support. They were all for it in the beginning, now at week 6 going into week 7….I have about 5% of kids still completing work consistently.

My own child is doing e-learning and lord I am now teaching two grade levels. My personal class and her classes. One teacher has the brains to do a project while the rest are sending trash home as busy work.

With limited resources what can you really do? With the great firewall controlling everything you are limited to what you can actually send home that parents will have access to. I have access because I am a teacher and an expat. So I can help Elise but how can I help my kids? How can I help my kids who are learning a second language and parents are learning a second language as well. I got kids memorizing Eric Carle books to share during our video chats. I got parents telling kids what to say when they are recording themselves reading a decodable book. Not one of my parents are educator to know how to properly assist and support their child at home.

Week 7 will find us adjusting things AGAIN. The parents want this. The parents want that. What about what is best for the kids? What about what is effective learning for the kids? I can upload all the videos in the world but when the great firewall is causing the internet to be slow and when you are limited to what parents actually can access, it becomes frustrating. I can’t have everything translated because that defeats the purpose.

I am frustrated and jealous. I am jealous of those that got time to prep and plan for e-learning. I am jealous of those who will have a smooth transition because they were already implementing things inside the classroom and parents understood what was going on and the students were involved with the technology. I am jealous of those not controlled by the great firewall and can access all the educational websites. This jealously is why I am frustrated because I am not feeling very effective right now. I am frustrated because I am trying but students and parents are not participating.

Something has got to give with the state of education. Project based learning and inquiry units need to become a real thing. Technology needs to be integrated and implemented properly to where it is an extension to learning. Teachers need to be trusted to do their jobs. Parents gotta step up and support and stop complaining. Schools will never look like it did when we were in school. It is time to shift into the 21st century. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We are preparing students to think outside the box, problem solve, and critically think. Yet our classrooms are boxes and lack creativity. Teachers are given boxed curriculums. Limited supplies and resources. Sites like teacherspayteachers should not exist if we are honest with ourselves. Adopt-a-classroom and donors choose should not exist. If we truly valued education we would invest in education and provide unlimited resources to our schools and teachers. We won’t even touch that $250 tax credit. We spend that much in about a week. Professional development needs to improve and go beyond the box and the norm. We cannot expect our kids to rise above when we keep cutting the resources and materials to help them rise above. People who have no educational experience and knowledge and degrees should not be making education decisions. Just because you can read and write does not mean you should be a teacher. We have got to stand up and say enough is enough and take our profession back. The world is at stake. You want digital learners, you gotta provide the technology to allow it. Trust that teachers will not allow it take over the classroom. We know what we are doing and we know how to seek out the support when we don’t.

Daith Piercing

Transparency

I remember being in the 7th grade with a migraine. Didn’t know that pain had a name. I remember being in the library at school with my head on the table crying my eyes out because of the pain. EVERYTHING hurt. NOTHING helped. NOBODY knew how to help me.

Finally at 16 I remember being on a field trip with my aunt’s daycare and throwing up. Figured it was the McDonald’s I had. Went home and brushed it off. Went for my annual vision exam. Someone hung was amiss. I was sent downtown to MUSC. This can’t be good. I had a field vision test and something else. Results came back…

I had spinal fluid build up pressing in the back of my eyes causing these massive migraines.

Okay now what.

Well we are going to drain the fluid.

How

It’s called a spinal tap. I get an epidural and they get to draining. I remember my aunt being there she worked as a nurse at MUSC. Maybe my mama came down. Don’t really remember. I remember laying in my side facing the wall trying to be as still as possible and as relaxed as possible while they stuck this needle in my back to numb me and stuck another needle in my back to drain the fluid.

Got some meds and went home after the procedure. Okay so my mama was there I couldn’t drive myself back home after that.

For about two good years I had regular headaches.

My mama shared she had headaches up until she was pregnant with me. Look having a baby ain’t the logically sound solution here. Even when I did get pregnant guess who still had headaches.

I continued to have headaches and they continued to monitor the fluid.

At some point in my life I heard of this ear piercing that was supposed to help with headaches. I’ve got 6 holes I was done with piercing my ears and besides it looked like it hurt. So I put that to far back if my mind.

Then one random day in January 2020 I messaged this lady and asked if she did daith piercings even showed her a picture.

Yes we do and we are running a special until the 20th.

Do you have an appointment for Sunday

Yes

Okay see you then

I had a head time locating her but I had to pay in advance so I was gonna find it so help me God. Anyways. I get up to her place and I’m nervous as hell. I was ready to tell her never mind. I even had a headache. I get car sick often. The motion kills me. I remember being car sick as child whenever my dad drove, which was always. So as o got older and living abroad where I rely on taxis I get car sick. Headache nausea I hate it. My last cruise I was sea sick and had to hunt down some Dramamine to survive. Taking off and landing on planes are miserable for me. I keep peppermint oil and gum to help settle my stomach. I keep a supply of headache medicine. Excedrin is about the only thing that works.

I remember when I first got my glasses in 2nd grade having a headache and going to the local fair with that same headache. Miserable.

Back to the story.

She cleans my ear. Squeezes my ear. Sticks my ear and says done.

The hell. She cleans it again until it stops bleeding. Yes it will bleed. She says clean it with sodium. Basically salt water and don’t change it for a month.

It could have been physiological but I swear my headache went away. My ear was sore but that was it. The cold wind hit outside and I almost buckled.

Went to work on Monday. Now to test this cause I can tell you by 10:00 I have a headache.

Went a whole week with no headache.

Got into a taxi no headache.

Rode in a taxi through the mountains of Bali, no headache. I did almost vomit but no headache.

Airplane ride, no headache.

I don’t even have shoulder pain anymore.

Best decision of my life.

If you suffer from headaches I say give it a try. You can always take it out. But I’m a believer.

So yeah….

I’ve been silent for a while. I am not myself and I am basically going through the motions of life. That’s just life. When you lose a parent you lose a piece of yourself you just don’t get back. I try to live but bottom line it hurts and it hurts in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

I don’t talk about it because if I hear one more cliche I am going to scream.

I truly get it, everyone’s heart is in the right place but I really want to yell shut up.

Yes I am grateful that I have my memories. Yes I know she’s not in pain anymore. Yes I know she fought a good fight. Yes I know she is always with me. Yes I know she’s in a better place. Yes I know she is proud of me.

But can’t I still be sad and miss her. Can’t I still cry my eyes out. Can’t I be in pain because my mama is gone and she won’t ever come back. Can’t I still want to pick up the phone and call her. Can’t I want to go home and visit her. Can’t I be happy and sad at the same time.

My mourning and grief did not end at the funeral. I didn’t say okay she’s buried now I can go back to my life as if it’s all over.

No I walk around every day missing her so much it hurts. I walk around hiding my pain because no one around me knows what it is like to lose a parent, especially not their mama. I walk around listening to other people talk about their mama and die a little more on the inside. I avoid family like the plague because they remind of what and who is missing. I am afraid to go home because she is no longer there and I no longer have a home. I don’t post on Facebook much because I am not myself anymore.

March 31, 2018 changed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain and I hate it.

I try. I really do. I look at my daughter and I try for her. I look at myself and I try for me.

As soon as o think I’ve got a hang of things BAM I’m knocked back down and I gotta start all over again.

I am not writing this for sympathy. I’m writing this to help someone else who may be struggling like I am. Honest to God you are not alone.

I am in a Facebook group of men and women who have lost their mothers and we are ALL trying to find the normal without our mamas.

It’s hard and it sucks. It never gets any easier. Holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. Mondays are hard. 2:00pm on Fridays are hard. EVERY SINGLE DAY that we are alive and reminded our mama is not here is hard.

We smile and laugh. We live. We eat. We sleep. We travel. We cry. We scream. We get up each day and try again.

I am finally brave enough to have this in the living room where I see it daily.

I’m making some changes in my life not only for me but for my mama.

I owe her so much and I won’t waste away doing nothing with my life but existing.

I won’t ever be the same Melissa don’t look for her anymore I will be a different version of myself hopefully a little wiser.

Yet another change

Okay so I have been pretty quiet about this most recent change. Mainly I did not want to deal with all the questions. I still want to deal with all the questions.

Let’s put it like this, it didn’t work out at the last school. Period. The end. Stick a pin in it. If I didn’t personally tell you the details you won’t get details. I didn’t even make the blog I wrote public.

So anyways……

July 3, 2019 was the last working of school.

July 15th I moved to my new city and new flat.

July 17 I walked to my new school to begin new teacher settling in things.

Let me compare the cities

First off I will say this a city will make or break your time in China. Just like a school will make or break you. Just like your accommodations.

1. The first noticeable difference was the railway station. It made sense. No one was pushing and shoving. People were lining up in an orderly fashion to exit.

2. It was quiet. I didn’t hear horns honking every 30 seconds.

3. E-bikes… I could walk and not be concerned about being run over by one

4. I could breathe and not inhale cigarette smoke. They were still smoking but it wasn’t noticeable

5. I swear it looked and felt cleaner. Not that the air still polluted but the city itself looks cleaner.

6. High rise apartments are out of control. I live on the 34th floor…why?

7. I wasn’t stared at. They still looked but it was more like hey we got new black family vs hey look black people we have never seen one of those let’s look awkwardly at them.

Pretty sure my apartment is bigger compared to the last one.

The school is smaller. Which honestly I like better something about a campus the size of a university is just not good. I like that I could actually learn all the students names. I at least know most of the staff by name if not I know most faces.

Big picture and biggest takeaway from all of this: I learned what I want and don’t want. I also learned I’m old and need stability.

To Be Continued…

Educators vs. Teachers

I’m going on rant. I’m stepping up on my soapbox and I’m gonna holla and shout at a whole bunch of people.

Let me start by saying this:

I am a certified teacher. I went to college for 4 years to get my undergrad degree in Early Childhood Education. I then went BACK to school and obtained my graduate degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy. I have also started graduate degree number two Teaching English Language Learners. I took the Praxis exam to become a certified teacher. I have the debt to prove it. I have the knowledge to prove it. I have teaching certification to prove it. I have the degrees to prove it.

I said all that to say this: TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD IS NOT THE SAME THING. TEACHING ENGLISH ONLINE IS NOT THE SAME THING.

Obtaining a TEFL or anything that you can get off Groupon for 120 credit hours does not put you in my league.

We are not on the same level.

Now I am not negating the fact that there are some amazing teachers who are open-minded and willing to put in the work to be a teacher as a second career choice.

But (yes I started a sentence with but) what is pissing me off and many in my profession, YES TEACHING IS A PROFESSION, are these people who see teachers teaching internationally making loads of money wanting to jump on some bandwagon.

Have a seat boo-boo and let me educate you for a moment.

Teachers teach from a script or the TE only. If you don’t know what a TE is, then I’m talking to you.

Educators don’t even know where their TE is located. We check it out at the beginning of the school year and maybe flip through it ONCE and we won’t see that bad boy again until it’s time turn it in at the end of the year.

Teachers do not know how to collaborate with educators because they have no clue what they are doing and never add anything of value to a collaboration meeting.

Educators collaborate with effective research and resources. We learn from each other. We ask questions that make sense and make our classroom better as well as our students.

Teachers have no classroom management

Educators have classroom management. We understand the importance of those first 6 weeks of school. If we don’t make those bonds and set those ground rules from hello, our class will be a nightmare

Teachers piss off educators at every meeting because they are the reason for the meeting. We are tired of sitting through a boring meeting that could have been put in an email and boring PDs because you weren’t properly trained and you are messing things up.

Teachers don’t care about the students, they care more about the money (this is more of the international market)

Educators get better benefit packages and teachers get mad. Boo, I went to school for this and have the experience and degrees to prove my worth, sit down and take notes.

Teachers don’t know the million acronyms

Educators can quote the acronyms in their sleep.

Teachers do not differentiate their lessons and don’t do small group instruction. Teachers do more lecturing and teacher-led instruction. Teachers want to put and keep children in a box. If a child does not fit into that box, they do not know what to do and that child becomes a problem.

Educators know that whole group instruction is a waste and small instruction is where learning takes place. Educators know how to differentiate their instruction to reach the majority of their class.

Educators don’t rely on TPT, we use it as a resource to supplement our lessons. And really why reinvent the wheel. If someone has done the exact thing we want to do, here take my money.

Educators are life long learners. We actually seek out PDs that will benefit us. We reflect on what worked and what tanked. We know when to abandon a lesson. We sit down and reflect on the day, the week, the school year. We are constantly trying to do better and be better.

Parents trust educators. Parents prefer educators.

Educators prefer working with other educators.

I have CPR and first aid training, can I go be a doctor or a nurse? NOPE.

Even to own a franchise you need some kind of financial sense.

Any given trade requires training.

Any job requires a certain level of training.

So before you jump on this bandwagon, ask yourself this Would you want your child in your class? Really truly are you providing children the best education possible. Are you really giving them the skills to learn and comprehend English? You CANNOT memorize the English language nor can you comprehend the English language through memorization.

So stop getting made at the requirements to come to teach abroad. Parents are getting fed up. The governments are getting fed up. Educators are getting fed up. We all are fed up with the botched up job you are doing to the students and we gotta fix them. This also applies to those teachers stateside. Do not get comfortable. Remember the reason you got into teaching. If you are no longer an educator, please leave. If you are not advocating for all students, leave.

Can you remember your worst teacher? Are you being a bad teacher for a child in your class? Can you remember your best teacher? Are you being the best teacher for a child in your class?

Are you abreast on the current research?

Do you know to reach all students in your classroom?

Do you understand child development and appropriate practices?

Do you know what active learning means? Do you know what active learning looks like?

I will end with this: if you truly have a passion for education and teaching continue to develop yourself and get the proper training.

Be reflective and check yourself. Be honest. Are you a teacher or an educator?

We want people out here educating children properly.

We have already seen how far stupidity can take us, let’s not make it worse.

Our children are our future. What kind of future do you want?

When Tragedy Strikes part 2

*Edited: it’s been a year March 31 I started writing this at the 6 month mark and could never fully finish it or articulate my feelings, thoughts and emotions*

It’s been 6 months. Her 60th birthday was October 5.

I wanted to share what happened during that last week of her life. It was a shock to a lot of people. When you called and spoke with her she never let on that she was pain. When you came by and visited she never let is show that she was in pain. She joked with you. She kept life pretty damn normal. She would tell me “I don’t want to be a burden” I would roll my eyes and say “Mama that’s what we are here for, lean on us.” I know we couldn’t take the pain away but we could help life be easier and comfortable.  I would fuss at her from Kuwait on the phone. I would call and tell on her to Chris. She would call and act fake mad. I appreciate everyone who she was able to lean on in her time of need. I was her daughter and didn’t know the extent of her pain. I knew she was in pain but not how much until I got home and saw for myself.

Elise happened to call mama the day she got her results back. I rushed Elise in the shower after she said her piece because I needed to focus on what was being said. I get the phone and Betty is acting all nonchalant like there ain’t a purpose for this call. Mama didn’t you have a doctor’s appointment today? What did they say? My mama’s exact words “a lot of things” Me mentally eye rolling because we are video chatting and I was not gonna for real roll my eyes. No matter how far away I was, I wasn’t stupid. She then tells me “I have been released into hospice care” I hold the phone away and compose myself I will not let her see me cry. Then she says “don’t do anything rash” Mama I am coming home. “you don’t need to do that” Mama I am coming home. I am coming home while I have a choice not when I am forced. “oh that makes sense” Mental eye rolling again. “don’t post on Facebook and don’t tell Elise. We will tell everyone when y’all get here” Got it.

I went to work the next day and told them I need to leave and don’t ask me when I’m coming back. Let’s aim for after spring break. My mama is being released into Hospice care and that is my focus right now. I cried in every office I went into that day. I started with my VP. Then I had to go to HR. Final stop was my Principal. Then I went to my team. I was offered to go home but Elise didn’t know what was going on and I just couldn’t deal. So I let work distract me.

I flew out that Saturday morning. March 24. I landed in Charleston Saturday night. Longest flight of my life. I get to the house and she’s sitting up waiting like she normally does. She informs me about her alarm going off to her remind to take her medicine. We all go to sleep. She seems pretty darn normal.

Sunday I do not go to church because no one is supposed to know I am even home. Let’s not ruffle feathers and cause a commotion here.

Art and Regina come over after church for their version of church at the house. I get kicked out of the room like I still sit at the kid’s table. I legit had to take Elise in the room and “play” with her. Really I am 37 years old. How rude. But I get it. No way she was going to be able to hold an adult conversation AND Elise stay in the room the WHOLE time. I heard snippets of the conversation. She told them she was in hospice care and she has made peace with everything. She is tired of being in pain. She is not suicidal. Keep us in prayer. She asked Art to be the song leader at her funeral. They let her know they were going on a cruise in April for Art’s birthday and she politely told them she won’t be here for that. Of course they all laughed it off. Said good-bye and left.

Monday we go to therapy and have the leg massaged and re-wrapped. This is when I got my first glimpse of how much pain she really was in. The struggle to get in and out of the car. How uncomfortable it was for her to sit in the car.

Tuesday the Hospice nurse came over to wash her and she politely in her own way declined. I ask her how many people know. She says “you, Chris, Dee and Runette” Mama are you serious? Again I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want Naomi changing her plans. Mama?!? How Jin didn’t know is beyond me. Well mama I think you need to tell your brothers and sisters. They have a right to know what is going on. You can’t just die on them without letting them know what’s going on. Besides I told Freddie and he’s on the way. Hop to it. I’ve already spilled the beans and do you really think Art and Gina are gonna stay quiet. Don’t let your family find out at church from strangers.

She calls family one by one. Those who are able come by and visit with her. Doesn’t look like anything is wrong right? She’s sitting up being normal Betty.

Wednesday we miss the eye doctor appointment. She just couldn’t get going that morning. Once she did get up, she didn’t want to sit in the car for the 25 minute ride West Ashley.

Thursday night she falls in the front bathroom. I go across the street to get the neighbor to help me. She refused to push her help button. She fell she is fine just get her up. Mama it’s okay I am here and so is the neighbor. We get her into the bed.

Friday Chris is on his way down from Greensboro. I tell him come straight home.

I go check on her that morning. She hadn’t taken any medicine and she’s asking about me and Elise going to church. Mama what medicine do you need to take cause it’s Friday and we don’t even have clothes for church. We finally take the medicine and she goes back to sleep. Chris gets in and tell him what has been going on. She finally get up and Chris helps her down the hallway in time for the hospice nurse to come. We pull this lady to the side and tell her everything. She’s being too nonchalant for my liking. We get a bedside toilet and I am asking about what happens when Chris leaves with getting her in and out of the bed. Again too damn nonchalant. (looking back on it they knew more than what they were telling) We eat our Easter dinner. She tries out her wheelchair. The kids push her down the hall in the wheelchair. She says it’s uncomfortable to sit in for church so it was a good idea but not gonna happen. We help her get ready for bed.

I get up that night to go to the bathroom. I hear her alarm go off but don’t hear her get up to take her medicine. I can hear her coughing. I go in and check on her. Mama you alright. “I need to go to the bathroom” I go get Chris. We each take a side……………………….

I will warn you NOW this is when it happens.

*I think I can finish this.*

It’s now been a year since she’s passed. As you can see I can’t finish writing what happens that night. I think I’ve only told one person what actually happened. It’s a memory that will live with me forever.

I can’t say life has gotten easier. Nor can I say it’s gotten better.

There are days I am drowning in grief. There are days I walk with my grief and I’m okay.

When my daddy passed away he was at the hospital and I came home to find out what happened.

When my mama passed I was in the room.

This year I have felt like an orphan with both parents gone. I haven’t felt like I have a real purpose at life. I’ve been winging it.

Grief is cruel.

Grief with a child is torture.

I am grateful for therapy. I am grateful for those that take a moment to check in on us. It’s hard.

This will always be my favorite picture

October 5, 1958 to March 31, 2018

Gone but never forgotten.

Dating Abroad

So I’ve had several conversations and laughs about dating abroad.

So I’m gonna share those conversations and hopefully you will have a few laughs along the way.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Melissa Holmes. I am from Charleston, SC (Summerville to be specific) I am currently 38 years old with a 10 year old daughter. Never married. Desire to be married. Been in love a time or three.

I came abroad in August 2016 as a single parent in Kuwait. Moved to China August 2018 as a single parent.

When I was stateside I had a boyfriend or two. Dated seriously and dated for fun and dated because I was bored. So this whole dating game I am not new at. Ive dated the bad boy type who wouldn’t meet family. I’ve dated the good guy who my mama would approve of. I’ve dated guys who went to church and a the guy who only went to church for funerals and weddings. I’ve dated damaged men, well put together men, single parent, divorced, older, younger, etc. Look I’ve got all the bases covered and I’ve stories to tell.

Got into the latest trend of online dating and swiping right and left. I did OKCupid when I lived in Maryland. Meet a few cool dudes on there. Most went no where because of a lack of a follow through or inconsistency or just lack of interest.

Came abroad to Kuwait and was encouraged to download Tinder. I meet one guy with a follow through. Neither one of us were looking for anything serious. He became a cool friend to hang out with. I meet a guy through friends who tried to run game on me with a whole wife back home and a girlfriend who was in and out of Kuwait.

Tip 1: ask questions and ask around. The level of game playing has reached a whole new height abroad.

Tip 2: please know what you want BEFORE attempting to date and create a profile on ANY dating site

Tip 3: be open minded

I am too old to be further limiting my already limited dating pool.

Like I can’t make half this mess up.

Now I’m in China

OH. MY. GOD. this is whole new circle of hell.

1. There are like no black people in China. Ok I’m exaggerating. There are black people but one China is like the size of 18 countries. Yep exaggerating again. Okay. Picture the United States. Imagine you live in Florida and the next black person you will likely see lives in Ohio. Now add the next black man you will see lives in California. So Tinder becomes your life just to meet another black face alone. Yes there are WeChat groups

*wechat is like this jacked up thing with Facebook and phone and messaging combined. You can only access groups of you are invited (Facebook groups) and you message each other in these groups (like a group chat) then you post pictures in your moments( like Instagram). You can text individual people and make phone calls as well. Let’s add you can pay for anything via wechat.* look wechat is another post.

So I’m in WeChat groups with other black people but remember I’m in Florida and they are in Ohio.

Now let me explain black people. It is not limited to African Americans. It’s Africans (like 90%) British, Australian, Canadian and like one American. And I won’t even touch these new Moor people. I. DO. NOT. HAVE. THE. ENERGY.

Here’s the extra fun thing Mother Africa got jokes with her men. These babies and yes I call them babies because they are under 30 at university working on degree number 1. Baby what is we doing cause it can’t be me.

So I go back and forth. I uninstall and install again. I swipe right. I swipe left.

I just don’t even know anymore. I try. I really do

But lord you can only good morning me so many times before I lose interest. I am not up for idle chit chat. No solid plans are made.

Then I have these dudes out here trying to recuse me because I’m a single parent.

“Your daughter needs a father” sir you have sent a few good morning texts and we have not seen each other in person, I don’t know your birthday, I met you 3 seconds ago….You have not been upgraded and selected to be step daddy. Sir there are steps to this.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. It baffles my mind.

I had one dude get salty with me because I didn’t tell my child who he was and introduce them. Sir I don’t like you. I don’t have tell that little girl one thing. She don’t pay my bills and you ain’t sticking round. Matter fact you can leave for the night sir. And this was the dude that ended up with a whole wife back in his home country.

and lord don’t get me started on the roommate situation. Sir go away.

I hate dating but yet I keep doing it. I keep trying. I keep hoping and praying. If nothing else I have loads of laughs to share about dating abroad.

Maybe just maybe I will have my happy ending. I’ll keep you dated until then I have stories to share and laughs to give.

Real conversations:

Him: I have a surprise for you send me your location(address)

Me: okay

Him: shows up with jiffy cornbread mix and bacon

Me: you are my new best friend I think I love you

I lived in Kuwait and bacon was not gonna be found. I told him I wanted to make cornbread and he got me jiffy mix. He worked on base and he listened to me. He was one of my better dates.

Different guy

Him: why didn’t you tell her who I was

I had just put Elise down for the night and he was sitting on my couch after hours. He must have thought I was gonna give him some sex. Well after this conversation that option left the table.

Me: because she don’t need to know who you are

Him: why not

Me: because I said so. I don’t even know who you are and she don’t pay no bills

Him: but that’s not how this works you are American

Me: and?

Him: you are supposed to tell her because you tell your children everything

Me: look I tell her what she needs to know and she does not need to know who you are until I decide who you are. I’m a single parent and I don’t go around introducing her to every body that says hello or that is trying to get in my pants. I don’t know what you’ve been listening to but that’s not how this American mama rolls.

Him: okay I apologize

Me: good night you can sleep on the couch or you can go home

Him: you aren’t gonna keep me company

Me: no I have to work until the morning and I’m going to bed alone. There’s a blanket.

I leave him on the couch and that was the last time he came to my house.

Next conversation

Him: let’s meet

Me: okay

Him: you wanna come here

Me: no I prefer to meet somewhere public

Him: like a hotel

Me: goodbye

Random social media inbox conversation

Me: where are you from

Him: Africa

Me: sir Africa is big continent which country

Him: Nigeria, have you heard of it

Me: if I didn’t know any countries in Africa I would not have asked you to be specific. Why are you in my inbox? What’s your purpose? What’s you intention?

Next conversation different guy

Him: how’s your family

Me: my daughter and I are fine

Him: where’s your husband

Me: never married don’t have one

A few follow up questions about Elise and then

Him: so I’m part of the family now

Me: excuse me no that’s not how this works sir

Him: you don’t need me, she needs a father

Me: and who promoted you to this position. Sir there are steps to this. I haven’t even met you in person

Tip: Married folk stay married don’t come out here I these dating streets.

Tip: don’t be afraid to push the conversation along. You gotta weed out the bullshit and quick or they will waste your time and WYD you to death. Or kill you with small talk.

I have been chatting with a guy who lives in another country for a solid year and I cannot tell you his birthday or favorite color or nothing significant because we talk about nothing and I get irritated with the idle chit chat. I’ll go days without responding because I’m pissed. Sir make moves. Make plans. Use your big boy words. I work with 5 year olds all day. My attention span is nonexistent. My patience is gone. I need a real conversation. I need depth. I can’t guide a grown man on how to converse. I do that all day.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU SETUP YOUR PROFILE.

When attempting to date someone from another culture know the norms. Mess around and have a husband in a week.

Dating is fun and dating is not. One day I will date my husband for the rest of my life. Until then…..pray for me. I’m getting weary