Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Case of the Women Ski Jumpers

Today I heard a news story about womens ski jumping. I learned that the International Olympic Committee allows mens ski jumping but not womens. Apparently there are quite a few female ski jumpers out there, and they want a chance to win a gold medal, too.

The link to the story is here, but I'll summarize it for you. The IOC's official position is that there aren't enough quality female ski jumpers to merit adding the sport to the Olympics (even though there are more of them in the world than lugers or bobsledders ), but the side conversations about the issue indicate that the decision may have come "from a medical point of view."

So either the women aren't as good at ski jumping as the men or the sport is just too dangerous for little ol' girls.

Suck it, IOC.

In a world that continues to move forward in equality for all people, the Olympics are keeping women from doing something that they're happy to let men do. This leads to a bigger question about women's sports. What professional womens sports are there, anyway? Basketball? Mention that to a crowd and invariably one person will say "Does the WNBA still exists?" while another will make a snide comment about those being "some manly girls."

Are there any other professional women's sports out there? If so, someone please enlighten me because I can't think of any.

Our "equal" society still has the perception of women athletes as being unfeminine, unattractive, and somehow less than their male counterparts. What causes this prejudice? Could part of the problem be that the media portrays "beautiful" women to be waifish, helpless little creatures? This poster of the Aggie Women's basketball team shows the georgeous women athletes, but it drew criticism for being "too sexy." Isn't it possible for women to be bad asses and sexy, too. Yes, friends, it is.

Maybe the IOC is worried about poor little women getting injured (hence the "medical point of view"). Well, welcome to 2010, Olympic committee. Women are firefighters, police officers, military personnel, even high school teachers, for goodness sakes. Don't you worry your pretty little heads about our safety. We'll be just fine.

Don't get me wrong here. I am in no way in favor of emasculating the men of the world. Most of the supportive, empowering people in my life have been men, my husband and father included. But it's time we stop assuming that women athletes must be either poor little girls trying to do something they clearly can't do as well as men or manly, butch women who are trying to be men.

Whatever their reasoning, the International Olympic Committee made a grievous error in the case of the women ski jumpers. At the very least, they should have let the women compete alongside the men in a unisex ski jump competition. Maybe the men would have blown the women away, but at least the women would have been afforded an opportunity for the Olympic experience.

Or maybe in the 2010 Olympics, a guy would get beaten by a girl. I'd be okay with that, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentines with Keaton

What follows is a simulation. It is a simulation because while I did not memorize all of Keaton's Valentine cards, I still wanted you all to get the feel for how this went down.

Trey: Keaton, which one do you want for Branson?
Keaton: What does that one say?
Trey: It says, "Hang on, Valentine."
Keaton: OH! I need to give that one to Andre because sometimes when he's ahead of me I tell him "hang on!" and he doesn't hang on, so he needs to get that Valentine so he'll hang on.
Trey: Who do you want to give this one to? It says "Be cool, Valentine."
Keaton: OH! That one is for Ella. She is so cool. She evern has cool sunglasses. (Yes, Keaton pronounces "even" with an "r" -- I'm not sure why.)
Trey: Which one do you want to give to Brittany* (*name changed to protect the innocent preschooler)
Keaton: Well, which one says "bad"? She's bad, so she needs the bad one.
Trey: That's not nice, Keaton. We don't talk that way about others.
Keaton: Well, she is bad.
Trey: Let's give her this one.
Keaton (exasperated): OOOOKAAAAYYY.
Trey: This one says "Have a seat, Valentine." Who gets it?
Keaton: OH! That needs to be Grady's. Sometimes when it's time to go to the teaching table, Grady doesn't sit down. Then Ms. Monica has to say "Have a seat, Grady," and then he sits down. So he needs this one so that he will sit down at the teaching table.

And on and on it went. Keaton managed to address behavior-appropriate Valentines for all 16 kids in his class.

As a side note, Tucker got his Valentines done all by himself in a matter of seconds, and I even made him put two extras in his bag for his secret girlfriend he won't tell me about. Of course that made him giggle and deny her existence, but nonetheless his Valentines were signed and sealed and that item was checked off his "to do" list.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Let's chat about toes. Okay, we won't really chat because I'm the only one talking. And I'm not even talking anyway. So, why don't you read about toes and then comment if you feel the need to chat.

First, this has nothing to do with the Zac Brown Band song called "Toes." Although I will mention that while the radio version seems to find the singer with his "toes in the water, toes in the sand," the version on the CD Tucker got for Christmas has the singer's "toes in the water" and his (according to Tucker) "a-s-s word in the sand." Why on earth you'd want you a-s-s word in the sand is really beyond me (seems, well, gritty), and it makes the song quite inappropriate for seven year old fans.

No, friends,this post is about toes. Big toes to be exact. But in order to discuss toes we must first talk about feet in general.

Feet are gross.

I've always been one to go barefoot whenever possible. I never liked wearing shoes, and I vividly remember when I was kid my dad would tell people that he "had to put dirt in my shoes to get me to wear them."

While I don't remember dirt in my shoes, I do remember always being barefoot, stickers and gravel be damned. (That's two cuss words in one post, so I'll try to calm it down, Mom.) Even now, my students are used to me teaching without shoes on. Sometimes, when I need to run to the printer, I have to stop to find my shoes first.

Yes, I know that high schools aren't the most hygienic places on the planet, but they're my feet. I'm not collecting germs through them. They're gross by nature of being feet, so their nakedness in the bacteria filled floors of my high school just doesn't bother me. If I had to be honest, those floors are cleaned far more often and probably far better than the ones in my home. Barefootedness is one of my eccentricities, I suppose, and I readily accept it about myself.

Out of respect for others around me, I attempt to have the tops of my feet as attractive as possible. I keep the nails polished, and I regularly exfoliate. You're welcome, people of the high school.

But this post isn't about feet, it's about toes. Big toes.

About three days ago, my big toe started to hurt. It wasn't bad at first, but by Monday afternoon I was in terrible, gut-wrenching pain. I investigated further and diagnosed myself with an ingrown toenail.

Now, if feet are gross, then big toes are even grosser. This makes big toe toenails in the category of the most disgusting things on the planet. I'd put them right up there with slugs and cow boogers.

The situation was awful. Not only was I in pain, but I was in pain due to a disgusting big toe toe nail. I couldn't put on closed toe shoes without wanting to cry. I couldn't wear heeled open toe shoes because it added pressure to my injury. And I couldn't even go around whining about it because, well, because it's my disgusting big toe toe nail.

It was then I realized that this must be a silent epidemic! People all over the world are probably suffering in silence, ashamed of their toenail issues. Think of it! If you broke your leg, and you were on crutches, and someone asked what was wrong, you could shrug and say "broken leg," without one bit of shame. But with a toenail injury, a big toe toe nail injury, you're forced to walk the halls of your life pretending that everything is a-okay and trying not to limp because if someone asks you what's wrong you'll be forced to cower and say "ingrown toenail." Oh, the horror!

My situation is, of course, worse than all those other toe-sufferers because my school does not allow teachers to wear flip flops. Since my injury prevents me from wearing heels and/or closed toed shoes, what's left? What is there for a girl to wear to ease her suffering without flipping and flopping? Nothing. My feet had nothing left to live for.

So I made the bold decision to buck the system. Yesterday I wore legal, although painful, shoes, but stashed some flip flops under my desk. For tasks in my room, I wore the flops, but I made sure to wear the dressier shoes in the hallway and downstairs to the office. I felt like such a rebel.

At some point I poked my head out of my classroom door, scanned for authority figures, and then ran to the bathroom while flipping and flopping. In my haste, I left my keys sitting on my desk and locked myself out of my classroom, so I had to flop down the hall until I found another teacher who had a key to my room. The crisis was averted, and I was able to get back into my room and my legal shoes without having to go to the office to get busted for my renegade feet.

As I'm sure you can tell, my rule-breaking led to a very stressful day.

But today I wore flip flops again, with a little less anxiety this time because I decided not to be held captive by my big toe toe nail problem anymore. I am brave and strong, and I follow the rules, but I cannot, no, I WILL NOT, force myself into painful working conditions just to satisfy "the man." Further, I'm certain that anyone who hears my sad story and sees me in flip flops will have pity on me instead of scolding me about my footwear choices. Who knows? That person may just have a toenail problem himself, and my courage may be just the thing to free him from his prison of disgrace.

My name is Stormy Hickman, and I have an ingrown toenail, and I am not ashamed!

(tomorrow morning I do, however, have a department head meeting, so I'll be wearing legal shoes)