For the Springdale High School Class of 1989

Dear classmate:

I remember you.

You sat in the back of Algebra 2, doodling on the inside of your Trapper Keeper before the bell rang, laughing with your friends and talking about the next football game. You’d make bets on who’d be starting. You knew it would be you.

I’d see you outside the band hall studying or reading. You’d look up when I went by, too shy to say hi. I noticed you, though, when you’d play that French horn. That was how you expressed yourself back then. Nobody could ignore you when you made music.

I’d hear you practicing your solo for Harmony. When you sang, everyone stopped to listen.

I’d see you in the hallway with the other cheerleaders. You seemed happy, but I noticed how you held back just a bit. You smiled, but it didn’t always meet your eyes. Though you looked perfect, your life wasn’t, but that wasn’t your fault.

I’d see you waiting for the school bus, in clothes that didn’t quite fit and looked a bit too old. You never had a lunch, but were too embarrassed to take advantage of the free lunch provided, so you would just sit under the tree behind the cafeteria and read. You were a bit of a loner, but you were tough as nails.

I’d see you studying at the library. You always turned in every assignment on time. Your dreams were a bit larger than many, and you knew it would take work. You missed out on a lot of the fun, but knew it would be worth it.

I’d see you flirting with the girls between classes. You were hard to ignore in your letterman jacket, all 6’2 and pretty. You had the world in the palm of your hands. I’d see you making jokes with the other smart kids, jokes not everyone understood. We all knew you were destined to be on SNL one day. Or running the world.

I’d see you behind the gym smoking with your buddies. You didn’t care if you got caught or not. Bad girls never care. I admired how you weren’t afraid of anything.

I’d see you sneaking out with the seniors to go to lunch, even though you were just a sophomore. You prayed Coach wouldn’t catch you.

I’d see you listening to your Walkman in your own world. Was that Tears for Fears, or Sting? Was it Genesis or Bon Jovi? Whatever it was, you knew all the facts about the music, the bands. You were so cool without even trying.

I’d see you with your boyfriend, holding hands, stealing a kiss before Spanish. We all wondered if you would be together forever. I’d see you looking afraid to get in the car after school. I wondered if your parents were mean to you.

I’d see you crying at the dance. He dumped you for your best friend.

I’d see you asking her out for the first time, making it seem effortless, even though you practiced at home in front of your mirror for an hour before, while you put on a drop of your brother’s Polo.

I’d see you wanting to tell your parents you were gay, but being too afraid.

I’d see you in your Bible study group, praying at the flagpole, your hands clasping theirs. You were so sincere, and really had a heart for others.

I’d see you playing video games at the arcade at the mall. You always won. You’d make those quarters last for hours. You’d always know all the tricks.

I’d see you with your little brother, and how you took care of him without making a big deal of it.

I’d see you in your cowboy hat and torn up jeans that you didn’t buy that way. You were a real cowboy–not one for show. You were hoping to be in the Rodeo, and you needed to spend time roping to get there. The Skoal in your back pocket left a ring…and your mama didn’t like that.

Class of 1989: I see you now.

We’ve been through some things, haven’t we? Since 1989, we’ve seen 6 presidents, including a father and son, the first Black president, and the first woman of color vice president.

We watched the first Batman, and Indiana Jones, and Dead Poets Society. Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, all the Karate Kids.

We listened to George Michael, Guns and Roses, Cyndi Lauper. Journey, Van Halen, The Bangles. Randy Travis and George Strait, with all his Exes down in Texas.

We witnessed the horror of Columbine.

We cried when the Twin Towers fell. Many of us enlisted. Those who already were in the service of our country paid (and still pay) our debt.

We saw the Gulf War and Afghanistan.

We watched the Space Shuttle crash.

We wondered at the birth of the Internet and listened for that all-to-familiar AOL login sound.

We created our MySpace accounts and felt so cutting edge.

We cried at the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

We lost a bit of our childhood when Michael Jackson died.

Some of us have married, and are still married. Some of us didn’t quite find the love of our lives the first time, and tried again.

Some of us had children. Some of us have lost children.

We’ve all lost beloved classmates.

We’ve traveled and earned degrees or worked with our hands, creating.

We loved and were hurt and had our hearts broken by those near and far. Maybe we’ve broken a few ourselves.

We have endured through Covid-19: a virus so vile it is still with us over a year after we first learned of it. A virus that’s sole purpose was to kill us.

But oh, how we have lived.

Many of us will turn 50 this year, celebrating half a century on this earth. What a milestone! What we’ve seen together this 50 years!

What a privilege to have known you. What a place you have in my heart.

Class of 1989: I see you. I see you, because you are a part of my heart.

A Bicentennial Swing Set Birthday

I want to tell you something.

I want to tell you about how I’m turning 50 in a few weeks, and how I can’t stop thinking about my 5th birthday.

My parents bought me the most extravagant gift: a swing set. Here’s a picture of it, but I’m older here. That’s me on the left.

My mother was a waitress at Borden’s Cafeteria and dad was a factory worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and money was so tight.

But I was turning five, and I’ll tell you I know without a doubt it was my dad who wanted to get it for me.

It was my birthday, but it was also our nation’s birthday: its bicentennial, so almost everything was set to theme. This swing set was GLORIOUS.

It had everything.

Red, white, and blue paint from top to bottom. It was all flags and eagles and I was HERE FOR IT.

There was seesaw swing (that would definitely be banned in 2021 because it’s NOT SAFE) to ride on with a friend. I had a few, including Erin who also was named Coleman, so we thought it made sense that one of us was adopted. I also had a friend named Jeremy, who held my hand when we walked to school in first grade, and thought that OF COURSE we would one day be married, because we both loved Scooby Doo and this is the bedrock of any successful marriage.

It has two regular swings with blue plastic seats and shiny silver chains connecting them to the top. I would swing as hard as I could, my stringy legs pumping furiously, and then at the highest point JUMP to my death, pretending to be Wonder Woman. I did not die, but I did knock the heels of my boots once I the fourth grade and they had to call my dad. Another story.

There was a basket swing that would set four kindergarteners like myself, and two older kids. Many picnics and serious discussions occurred on this swing. Also life plans, like being an extra on I Dream of Jeannie.

I can’t forget the most glorious slide that would suck in the heat of the Oklahoma sun and channel it into the fires of hell on my little tanned legs. That slide: how many times would I perilously perch at the top, pretending to be the Queen of all I surveyed? How many times would I barrel down its center? How many times would I try it head first to scare myself? I would even drag my wading pool over and submerge the bottom of the slide inside, trying to recreate a KOA pool experience, even going to the extreme of turning on the water hose and placing it on the top of the slide, so that it would feed a steady stream down the aluminum center. Also not safe, but this is why Gen-X’rs are fearless: because we faced certain death every day of our childhoods.

I think my dad thought I was too small to tip it but he was wrong. I was practicing my trapeze act when it happened. It flipped clean over and the top of it landed on my neck. I was still somehow fine and just needed a few extra cookies.

Even now, I picture the sun-washed yard that seemed to span acres but was probably just a postage stamp size in sepia tones. I remember the outside of the house itself only vaguely, but I do recall the yellow kitchen, maybe because it is in a few pictures in the dusty album. I remember the wallpaper with yellow daisies, and my birthday cake with Snoopy in his doghouse. My tiny grandma, only 4′ 11″, came to my house that day and I know she loved me, but now all these years later, I also know her secrets.

I was the only child then, and sometimes lonely, but happy. I remember my mom making gallons of sweet tea, putting cold water and tea bags into a rinsed out milk jug, setting it up on the top of the slide to slowly brew in the steamy summer sun. In the evenings, she’d take the tea bags out and add a cup of sugar, stirring until the little granules would mostly (but not completely) dissolve. That tea tasted like summer.

I was thinking about the swing set yesterday as I made sun tea and set it out on my son-in-law’s grill to brew in the steamy San Antonio sun. I was thinking about that birthday and this one. I was thinking about how that day was perfect, maybe because of everything I didn’t know then. It was before, way before, anything bad ever happened.

But that’s another memory and not one to associate with this one.

This is the swing set memory.

Hiding Behind Your White Privilege: Why We Can’t Just Ignore the Critical Race Theory In the Classroom Issue

I’m seeing all sorts of posts from acquaintances praising the concept of limiting or banning the discussion of Critical Race Theory without fully grasping it. Critical Race Theory is not a single issue that can be easily avoided in the classroom. It’s interwoven throughout many topics that go hand in hand with history and literature, art and government, current events and debate.

Many right-leaning news sources such as Fox News are painting CRT as something that CREATES racism. This is completely inaccurate. CRT discusses the impact of racism as it used to exist and still exists. Discussing the effects of racism on American history or current public policy does not increase it; making us aware of problems is the first step to eradicating them. Sweeping it under the rug and saying it’s not there does nothing. It’s not saying that America is a horrible place to live or that we haven’t made progress—it’s simply discussing where we can do better. And we can do better.

As Elie Wiesel, author of Night, once said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” This quote makes more sense now than ever. How can we teach about the Holocaust without discussing racism and white supremacy? It’s impossible. Under this bill, discussing white supremacy would be a no-no. Discussing the Holocaust could be interpreted as ignoring the bill, and could pose a danger for educators.

If you are a white person who still doesn’t understand why the danger of this bill that is not only being pushed in Texas but over most of the American South, then you are hiding BEHIND YOUR PRIVILEGE and indirectly supporting racist policies.

If you are a white teacher who has not investigated this policy, or have voiced support for it based on right leaning news sources, you are actively supporting agendas that enable white supremacy and condone ignorance to the same history that many of you so fiercely claimed to defend when confederate statues were being removed.

According to Fox News article:

“Attempts to eradicate instead of contextualizing history invariably fail,” Senate GOP leaders wrote. “And because of this Governor’s personal history, the motivations of this decision will always be suspect. Like Senator Chase’s idiotic, inappropriate and inflammatory response, his decision is more likely further to divide, not unite, Virginians.” If you agreed that Confederate statues being removed was erasing history, yet support the suppression of CRT discussions in the classroom, then you must check your motives.

By clinging to your privilege, you are dismissing any students of color in your classroom in favor of your own comfort. In addition, you are also adding to the already heavy burden of teachers everywhere. As Elie Wiesel, author of Night, once said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” This quote makes more sense now than ever. How can we teach about the Holocaust without discussing racism and white supremacy? It’s impossible. Under this bill, discussing white supremacy would be a no-no. Discussing the Holocaust could be interpreted as ignoring the bill, and could pose a danger for educators.

By embracing your privilege, you are choosing the role of the oppressor.

For more information regarding this bill and the definition of Critical Race Theory, see the following article.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

A few years ago I learned how to make this sauce that goes really well on chicken enchiladas. I thought it couldn’t get better until it I began taking the extra step to roast the vegetables first. Finishing it off in the instant pot gives it a depth previously unthinkable!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. tomatillos, washed and peeled

1 white onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Peppers to taste (I used serrano and Anaheim for this batch, but I really just use whatever I have on hand or what’s freshest).

One container low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Heat the grill to a screaming hot heat. Add the peppers and onion and blacken.

After the vegetables are soft, transfer to a bowl. Add the chicken broth to the sauce. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender-it doesn’t matter), blend the vegetables until smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the sauce to remove the seeds. Or, you could take the time to seed the peppers beforehand, but I like the heat.

Pour the sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook for 90 minutes.

Pour over your favorite chicken enchiladas or eat with salted tortilla chips.

This sauce can be canned as well to give you the taste of summer all year round.

Texas HB 3949

EPS and JPEG

Suddenly, the same Texan politicians who railed against the removal of confederate statues saying that liberals were trying to “erase history” and swearing that the reason they should stay in place was for us to “learn from our mistakes” are now wanting to make sure that white people are not made to feel uncomfortable when confronted with America’s checkered racial past.

As an educator, I must say this: how much more can we endure?

In the past few years, we have been told that it is our job to protect kids from school shooters. We attend traumatic trainings that try to “acclimate” us to the sounds of gunfire, so that in the very probable event of a school shooter situation, we will not freeze up or confuse the sounds we hear. We need every second to hide your children from the shooter. Our only recourse is to hide in the dark behind the door, holding a trash can or stapler in our hand to protect your kids.

We did that.

We attended trainings where we learn how to stuff fabric into fake bodies should your kid or a coworker (or even our own person) be shot.

We did that.

We suffered pay cuts and were gaslighted that it was wrong to want to be paid for our expertise in our fields.

We did that.

We were told we had to show up in person and teach during a deadly pandemic where more than 600,000 Americans had lost their lives, because our job is so much more than just teaching kids to read.

We did that.

Now, we are being told that to bring up race, or slavery, or sexism, or gender in the classroom will be against the law and punishable in some way (that hasn’t been decided yet). They are painting Critical Race Theory as the Boogyman…and further painting teachers as people who cannot be trusted to teach your kids the right thing.

I cannot with this.

Critical Race Theory is nothing in which we (re: white people) should be afraid. I would need an entire post to define it, and in actuality entire books have been written about it.

Here are some ways Critical Race Theory is discussed in the ELA classroom.

How do I teach To Kill a Mockingbird without discussing Jim Crow? I’m not supposed to talk about that, you see, because a white person might feel uncomfortable.

How do I teach A Raisin in the Sun without discussing Red Lining?

How do I teach Hamilton without the discussion of slavery? It’s impossible.

How do I teach even something as fluffy as Cobra Kai without discussing racial dynamics?

How?

How do I teach any novel featuring a person of color without these discussions?

How do I teach any novel featuring a strong female protagonist that has any sort of power struggle with sexism or gender roles?

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/05/22/texas-senate-approves-bill-limiting-how-race-racism-can-taught/5217696001/

This bill is too long to cover in one blog post. Please see my TikToks if you want further information or to learn more.

@tinamachelle

HB 3979 has been signed by Abbot. Part 2 of what’s wrong with it. #1619projectrealamericanhistory #1619 #HB3979 #texas #texasteachers

♬ original sound – Tina Machelle

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

To watch my video on how to make this, click here:

A few years ago I learned how to make this sauce that goes really well on chicken enchiladas. I thought it couldn’t get better until it I began taking the extra step to roast the vegetables first. Finishing it off in the instant pot gives it a depth previously unthinkable!

Side note: Although it’s pictured, I did not use the zucchini in the salsa. It was just roasting with its friends.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. tomatillos, washed and peeled

1 white onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Peppers to taste (I used serrano and Anaheim for this batch, but I really just use whatever I have on hand or what’s freshest).

One container low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Heat the grill to a screaming hot heat. Add the peppers and onion and blacken.

After the vegetables are soft, transfer to a bowl. Add the chicken broth to the sauce. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender-it doesn’t matter), blend the vegetables until smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the sauce to remove the seeds. Or, you could take the time to seed the peppers beforehand, but I like the heat.

Pour the sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook for 90 minutes.

Pour over your favorite chicken enchiladas or eat with salted tortilla chips.

This sauce can be canned as well to give you the taste of summer all year round.

If you need a good chicken enchilada recipe to use this sauce on, try this :https://tinabausinger.com/2015/06/01/slap-your-mama-green-chili-chicken-enchiladas/

A Lawyer, a Judge, and a Cat Walk Into a Meeting

Just a Country Girl: Defining “Rural”

When working on my dissertation: “Southern Voices, Y’all: A Narrative Inquiry of First Generation, Working Class Women Students Originating from the Rural South,” I became aware of the realm of scholarship devoted to rural studies. It was my feeling that women growing up in the South encountered different cultural pressures that may shape their experiences as a college student, but it wasn’t until I started researching this idea that I began to think about what it means to be from the rural South.

Many people have certain images that come to mind when the South is mentioned, and rarely is it metropolises such as Atlanta or Houston. Certainly, these cites are classified as Southern, but for the purposes of my study, I am focusing on those country places.

This is when the idea of rurality comes in. I didn’t even know such a thing existed in the scholarly world. Although country music has idealized rurality since the beginning of the 20th century (“I was country…when country wasn’t cool…” “I’ve gone country…look at those boots” “A country boy can survive”), rural studies has existed for a while now, beginning in Europe when scholars began observing the differences between urban places and their rural counterparts (Brown & Schafft, 2011). In the social science world, “rural” is not just a place, but also a culture. While some might try to focus on social norms in terms of demographic, environment, and economy, more modern scholars acknowledge the culture of rural people as Durkheim’s notion of the rural definition, which he argued were the glue of rural communities: “the affinity of blood, attachment of the same soil, ancestral worship, and community of habits” (Brown & Schafft, 2011).

This makes so much sense to me.

Though my parents weren’t farmers, their parents picked seasonal crops as a means to survive, and their grandparents lived and died by the rain from the sky. Even though they weren’t farmers, our town was know for its main export: chickens.

Loyalty to the land, a common purpose, love of family, patriotism,…these are all things I’ve been taught from the beginning. Idealizing ancestors, even perhaps many who shouldn’t have been, is not so much taught as it was internalized. A community of habits, well, that speaks for itself. Hard work, not taking “handouts,” earning one’s keep, these are all things country people know.

There are some things country people should learn, but in their stubbornness, refuse to acknowledge, like voting against their own self interests.

I’ll address this virtue in a future post. For now, when you think of country, what comes to mind? Those of you who consider yourselves from the country, what about his life do you feel people misunderstand or misconstrue?

Why We Expect So Much More From “Wonder Woman” Than Other Superheroes

I saw the new Wonder Woman: 1984 a few nights ago, and I really liked it. This was surprising to me, because I struggle with liking super hero movies lately. I think I’ve just been worn out from too many Avengers movies. You know, there are the movies featuring ALL the Avengers, then you have at last two to three for each hero. When it’s all said and done, there are now 22 of them. Twenty-two! That’s a lot.

Before everyone has a heart attack, YES I KNOW that Wonder Woman is DC and not Marvel. There is no way I could live in this family and not know this. Even if I managed to remain ignorant within the confines of my home, I couldn’t teach high school for several years and not make the connection. The kids would not let me.

As a girl, I loved the Justice League. Superman was my favorite, probably because it’s one of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater. Christopher Reeve haunted my dreams. SO CUTE. Besides his looks, I loved the villains (Lex Luthor!) and Superman’s general bad-assedness. I mean, HE’S A GOD. Say what you want about Batman being great, but if you strip Bruce Wayne of his money and toys, he’s basically a low-key Mr. Miagi. I would bet on Mr. Miagi winning that battle.

There have been SO many super hero films over the years, and let’s face it: most of them aren’t THAT great. They recycle the same hero’s journey story over and over. They are predicable. The writers sprinkle in humor and a love story to balance it out, but nobody expects anything new or groundbreaking when we see a new movie coming out. Sure, movie fans will wait in line to buy the ticket (pre-Covid days, sigh), and spend the money to buy the merchandise and clothing and special edition copies, even so.

So tell me, why we expect Wonder Woman to be better?

Why does Wonder Woman need to start out above the bar from what we’d expect from the 10,000 Spider Man remakes? Why does she have to be smarter, sexier, more athletic, funnier, more badass than all the others?

It’s simple.

We are STILL sexist.

Bear with me.

Even though Diana Prince (portrayed by Gal Gadot) has a Ph.D. (don’t ask the opinion writer at the Wall Street Journal his opinion on this), and holds a job as the Senior Anthropologist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., that’s somehow not impressive for us. In comparison, Clark Kent is just a beat reporter, and Peter Parker takes photos for a paper. Barry Allen is a forensic scientist, which means he has some sort of degree, but it’s not a Ph.D. Bruce Wayne has a law degree, so I acknowledge that’s pretty educated, but can we give Dr. Prince her due? She’s not Batgirl, who has been depicted as a dizzy college coed.

DC combines a few myths and legends for Diana’s origin story. She’s Amazon royalty, descended from Ares, the God of War, a tribe of women so hard-core that they sawed off their breasts to accommodate their swords, were rumored to have tattoos, and possibly smoked pot. Diana is also known in Roman mythology, the Goddess of the Hunt, and virgin goddess and protector of women and childbirth. Even though she radiates sexuality, she doesn’t use it for her own gain. She fights Nazis. Come on, y’all. She’s the perfect woman. Psychology Today agrees.

DC makes sure that Kristin Wiig’s character (Cheetah) seems to be the dark mirror reflection of Diana. The name “Barbara Minerva” caught my eye, since I was taught that Minerva was the Roman goddess of several things, including war. She’s a worthy opponent, and a heavy hitter in her own right. She’s not a villain that became so because she accidentally fell in a convenient vat of acid. Her name implies she had a destiny to go bad. She’s not Cat Woman, a laughable campy joke who could barely be called an adversary.

Did you know that in the original Wonder Woman comics, the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, admitted that ““Not a comic book in which Wonder Woman appeared, and hardly a page, lacked a scene of bondage.” Apparently, he didn’t want her to become too powerful and intimidating, so he wanted to keep her in check somehow.

Could it be that we haven’t changed too much, even in 2020? We still expect Diana to be everything to all, and we expect her movie to be head and shoulders above the others, but why?

It seems Wonder Woman has her work cut out for her. She’s taking on the patriarchy and evil as well.

Don’t agree with me? Let me know in the comments!

On The Sun Always Rises and Writing About Real People

Some interesting facts about The Sun Also Rises:In the book Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, Blume notes that Hemingway’s novel, published in 1926, was based on ACTUAL people and events. He even went so far as to tell them to their faces, “Hey, I’m writing a book…and you’re in it.” (This is my paraphrase. Hemingway’s actual words were probably filled with obscenities and slurred by drunkenness…haha). He did say, “I’m going to tear these two bastards apart.”

He certainly did.

The people depicted in the novel were said to have never recovered from the hits on their reputations. The book was banned several times because of the gore and sexuality…basically, Hemingway’s experiences in everyday life.

clef.https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/05/the-true-story-of-the-booze-bullfights-and-brawls-that-inspired-ernest-hemingways-the-sun-also-risesA new book by Lesley M. M. Blume recounts the scandalous trip to Pamplona that inspired Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, and the characters from literature’s greatest roman à clef.