Evicted- It’s Not O.K.

I’m currently reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, and I’ve gotta say: it’s a heck of a lot more compelling than its title suggests. Desmond tells the story of various renters and landlords in Milwaukee, though it’s relatively apparent that these scenarios take place all over the country. In short- it’s heartbreaking. But there are a couple of things that I just can’t seem to shake, after all, these are true stories, and this book was published in 2016. This is happening today.

I uncovered my first unsettling realization in Chapter 15: A Nuisance. It tells the story of a woman living in an upstairs unit with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is abusive. The woman downstairs hears the violence and struggles with what to do. She pities the girl, but also feels “repulsed by her weakness” (187). At some point, she decides to do something about it and runs upstairs and yells at them from outside the door, calls the landlord (to no avail), and finally calls the police three times until they show up and take the man away. So far, justice has been served. But in the harsh reality of the world, of course it cannot stay that way.

The following day, the police call the landlord to inform her that “the Milwaukee Police Department has responded to nuisance activity at your property…on at least three occasions within a thirty-day period,” that should they continue to be called to the location, the landlord would be charged, and finally, that she needed to respond with her plan to end the nuisance calls at her property (188). The only accepted plan was that, pending another call, the tenant would be evicted. Yes, you read that right. The woman in the upstairs apartment has two options: be abused or be homeless.

Later in the chapter, Desmond writes: “In the vast majority of cases (83%), landlords who received a nuisance citation for domestic violence responded by either evicting the tenants or by threatening to evict them for future police calls” (191). How can anyone, especially police departments, think this is okay? Women should be able to call the police if they’re in danger, without the fear of being homeless as a result. As a society, we should be working together to prevent domestic violence and to support the victims of such a painful crime. Not throwing them out in the streets. It blows my mind and dampens my hope for the world that anyone with a conscience could leave these women with such bleak options.

Desmond also breaks down just who this is affecting: “In white neighborhoods, only 1 in 41 properties that could have received a nuisance citation actually did receive one. In black neighborhoods, 1 in 16 eligible properties received a citation. A woman reporting domestic violence was far more likely to land her landlord a nuisance citation if she lived in the inner city” (191). Though I’d never let my students say this…this quote speaks for itself. Most educated human beings understand that racism is alive and well in this country, but for those who don’t: let this quote be a wake up call. We need to do more to protect the women in this country, but we can’t pick and choose those women. We can’t only care when it’s a woman from a “better” neighborhood. We can’t only care when it’s a woman who has white skin. All women need to be supported.

The next alarming realization occurred in Chapter 19: Little. A couple is looking for a place to live after their recent eviction. They have three kids and one on the way. They have many issues with finding a place to rent, but the most prominent one is their kids. Landlords turn away potential renters due to children for a variety of reasons: noise, destruction, Child Protective Services, etc. And look, I’m a teacher, I run a day camp, I get it: kids are not always easy. But does this mean they should be homeless? They’re the future! What can we expect for the world if we aren’t supporting the ones who can change it? If there’s an issue- then maybe that’s a different story. But to turn away a tenant just because they have a child…that cannot be morally sound. I do not want to live in a world where people would rather have a child on the street than a couple of issues to deal with at their property.

I haven’t finished this novel yet, but it’s already inspired me to want to do more. I don’t know what I can do, or what can be done, but this aching feeling isn’t going away anytime soon.



Wow- February FLEW by. I was basically sick for the first half of the month, but so many great things happened! The Eagles WON the Super Bowl, had an amazing Victory Parade, I went to 2 Flyers games, visited one of my best friends from college, and I saw Kinky Boots on Broadway! Most of these are once in a year experiences- and they all happened in one month!

The great part about my new passion planner is that there are two pages for monthly reflection at the end of each month, and it showed me that I actually made progress in some of the areas I said I wanted to work on at the end of January, which surprised me because it happened without me even realizing! The two things I wanted to work on were branching out socially and exercising consistently- and at the end of February I wrote that I felt my social life was great and I started an exercise routine. Crazy how a little reflection can make you feel some pride and progress in your life!

So, there are a few things I want to focus in March: maintaining my exercise routine now that I’ve started one, improve my reading habit because I’m wayyyy behind for the year (I’ve been watching too much TV! Re-watching Jersey Shore, starting Vanderpump Rules, The Bachelor & Bachelor Winter Games- clearly there’s a lot going on), and I’d like to spend more time outside- though I’ll admit I wrote that before the crazy snow storms started up again!

For me, maintaining the lifestyle that I want means sticking to my morning and nighttime routines, so that’s definitely something I want to work on, not just this month, but for the rest of the year to be the best I can be! However- I know that it’s also important for me to break those rules every now and then and have some fun!

Here’s to a great month- I don’t know how we’re already halfway through it!


Fight vs. Flight

Well, 2018 has kicked my butt so far. I’ve been sick for weeks! It started out as a cold, but I couldn’t shake it, until finally the doctor gave me some antibiotics and I started feeling better! Thank goodness! I’m definitely not 100% yet, but this is the first time I’ve actually felt okay in about a month. Yes, you read that right, a MONTH! Needless to say, I have been dragging my feet through the start of the year and not keeping up with my goals AT ALL.

Yesterday, out of the blue, I received a text from a college friend asking if I wanted to join his soccer league.  My immediate instinct was NO. I thought would embarrass myself, I haven’t played soccer in over a year, and I am EXTREMELY out of shape. But I didn’t really want to say no. So I just didn’t answer.

Today, I figured, well the games are probably late at night, and teacher Kass will not want to be tired on Mondays no matter how fun a soccer league might be, so I’ll be able to say thanks but no thanks. So I responded. But the games are in the morning, so my easy excuse was out, plus he said it would be super laid back and not serious.

My excuses were running out, and I really did want to do it, and before I knew it I was agreeing to be in a soccer league starting in less than six weeks. SIX WEEKS. I am terrified of failure and public embarrassment and my own self-judgmental attitude. In high school, one of my coaches asked me if I was going to walk away from everything that scared me in life, and he told me that if I chose to do so, I was going to miss out on a hell of a lot.

So, instead of running away screaming, I made a plan to get my booty in shape and get ready for this, not so that I can be amazing, but so that I can be proud of myself and reach a few goals of mine along the way. Besides, there’s nothing like the fear of public embarrassment to motivate you!

Passion Planner

Hey Y’all!

You may know that for the past two years (2016 & 2017) I have used the Day Designer planner. I absolutely loved it and how it helped me to plan every day out and keep my on-going to do lists together! It had a spot to record gratitude, budget reminders, dinner plans, and more!

But as I transitioned into teacher life, I realized that I didn’t need a daily planner as much as I needed to see my weekly goals and plans. I needed to be able to quickly glance to see which meetings I could fit in and what after-school obligations I had to plan dinners and a place to track my never-ending to do list without re-writing it every single day.

So I bought the Passion Planner. And I love it.

At the beginning of January, it helped me organize my thoughts to showcase where I wanted to make changes in my life and how I could help myself get to where I wanted to be personally and professionally. It allows me to create a monthly, weekly, and daily focus; reflect on the good things that happened during the week; decide who I need to prioritize and fit into my schedule for the month, and more. It also has spots for work and personal projects so I can stay on track. It also has monthly reflection pages to keep my mind on my dreams and remind me of the greatness in my life and the potential I have to make it better. The Passion Planner is truly focused on helping me take steps to reach my goals.

Do you have any experience with either of these planners? What planner do you use to keep your life organized? Let me know in the comments!



Review of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid’s prose in Exit West is like chatting with an old friend over tea, being wrapped in a warm blanket in winter, or being caressed and held by a lover. I could feel the words swirl around me, lovingly and soft, as I read. Hamid takes us on a journey through time and space and an ever-changing world while revealing truth after truth that cannot be understood merely within the story but within ourselves. This is a book of pure reflection, hope, and understanding of the world- both large and small.

The love between Saeed and Nadia is so pure and beautiful that I couldn’t help but hope it survived, even as Saeed began to long for the past and Nadia felt the rush of potential in the future. It made me wonder if their love would have been different, had the war not forced them from their country, or if it would have had the same fate realized in the distant future. If their circumstances had not caused their relationship to grow and transform at a rapid pace, being each other’s only family without being family, displaying loyalty without promising forever.

The beauty behind Hamid’s story is not that the two wanted so badly to stay together that they fought persistently, consistently, to no avail, but that they sadly watched their flame burn out without taking it out on each other. There was no infidelity, there was no anger in the end, just an understanding that what they had was beautiful, but that it had ceased to be beautiful. Their separation evoked tears of understanding in myself, realizing that their acceptance of the change was not easy, for they had grown to depend on one another, but necessary for their own happiness. I saw and felt the courage in them to let one another go, albeit slowly, and it made me question my own courage, and whether or not I had any left.

Hamid allows us to feel relief as he allows the characters to love again, with others, and feel the connection and the comfort and the excitement that comes with new love. He reminds us that just because we have felt great love, does not mean that we will not find love again. However, the sweetest message is not one of finding love with another, but in finding contentment with ones self, as suggested by the ending of the novel, in which Saeed and Nadia meet up, with no expectation for their futures, but content with who they have grown to be and who they could continue to grow to become.

The universal truths and allowance for pure and personal reflection reminded me much of Paolo Coelho, and gave me hope and satisfaction in knowing that I may one day feel contentment in myself, and perhaps that day is closer than I know, and I may already be on my way.


2017 Book Roundup

I can’t quite categorize the type of books I read in 2017 because it was a rather random assortment, but I surprised myself with how much I was able to read, despite my rather full work load. Here are my top 5 recommendations, along with a list of the rest of the books I read this past year!

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: An excellent speculative fiction novel that depicts a world in which women are, quite literally, subservient to men. It’s shocking and absurd and a warning- everything a great speculative fiction novel should be.
  2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: An eye-opening memoir that discusses the people (his family, but we are to assume their stories could be easily transferrable) who are struggling to get by in Appalachia with obstacles of poverty, drugs, and poor education.
  3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: A wonderful Young Adult novel that discusses death, mental illness, and abuse. The characters are sweet and painful and a good reminder (for a teacher) that there is so much more going on behind the scenes that we will likely never know or understand.
  4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: A funny, but heartbreaking, story of a kid growing up on a reservation with a dream to get a better education and be successful. Though it’s definitely not the main focus, it offers a look at the way of life on reservations and the many ways that we are failing Native Americans as a country.
  5. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit: A series of essays that reflect on the way women are treated with horrifying statistics about abuse and a stark demand that we stop turning a blind eye to the reality of these issues and start doing something about it.

Here are the rest of the books, in no particular order, that I read this year:

  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
  • Firstlife by Gena Showalter
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen
  • milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
  • the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • We Beat the Street by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
  • the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
  • Legend, Prodigy, & Champion by Marie Lu

Have you read any of these? Did you read any great novels this year? Let me know in the comments!

Gold, Flowing 2018.

I haven’t been super proud of the person I’ve been for the past few months. True, the end of 2017 hasn’t exactly been good to me, and I haven’t necessarily been doing anything wrong, I’ve just been a little disappointed. Maybe it’s seasonal depression, maybe it’s my thyroid, maybe I drink too much, maybe it’s the loneliness; but I haven’t been myself. Or maybe I don’t even know who “myself” is anymore. I just know there has to be more to life than waking up, going to work, coming home, eating and watching Netflix, taking a shower, and going to sleep. Somewhere along the line I got lost in the everyday and forgot to live. I got lost in the responsibility and the laziness and forgot the inspiration and the joy. I got caught up in the pain and the fear and the pity. And maybe I still am- but at some point, I need to embrace the struggle and get on my way.

My Bumble profile lovingly quotes Langston Hughes: “I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.” And it’s true, I do love those things- but they’re not the only things that construct the me who makes me proud, the me who knows I’m worthy and capable of greatness and endless days of sunshine. The me I want to be knows that I like to travel, be active, try new things, do yoga, cook, read, garden, drink (especially craft beer and wine), and connect with friends.

So, in 2018, my goals are going to be to pursue “me” in any way that I can. I don’t want to lay around and wait for someone to invite me- or even wait for someone to join me- I’m just going to do it. I want to take baths, reflect, write poetry, and dream. I want to run, bike, meditate, and pursue a life of health. I want to cook, eat, breathe, and live in the moment. I want to drive, discover, visit and explore everything I can find. I want to do me, feel the joy, and bask in the limitless possibility of 2018 and all that it has to offer.

“No longer rooted, but gold, flowing. I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me.” (Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places)