Hate Crimes Forum

Hate Crimes Forum

This morning at CMU, I attend the Hate Crimes Forum. Judy Shepard was one of the key note speakers. Judy Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard. I was 11 when Matthew Shepard was murdered. I remember seeing the headlines on TV. When I was younger my dad always had the news on, so I was very aware of the current events and what was happening in the world.

My generation is the last generation to really remember Matthew Shepard’s murder and the manner in which he passed. his death was a turning point in the LGBTQIA+ community. Judy is a quiet person, and the president of the Matthew Shepard foundation asked Judy a couple of questions about her son, how he passed, and the mission of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

I was so honored to be in the same room with her. I was shook by her message and the things that she said, and the pain she had to endure I can’t imagine it. It is so sad.

The panel discussions that happened before Judy spoke were informative. The second one more so, because it talked about various microaggressions. The first panel was law related, but still interesting.

It was a pretty heavy day. I am glad I was able to experience the forum.

A Case of the Mondays

When I arrived at CMU, I worked on presentation for the Staff Meeting. I was giving an update on the Late-Night stuff. I started thinking about all that I have going on  and I was starting to get overwhelmed. I had to meet up with my group today after CMU to work on the functional area presentation. We needed to put the final finishing touches on the presentation and submit since it was due today. Also, I was due to present my HEd Talk. Oral presentations make me uneasy. The last time I did a presentation. I got a C! I never got a C on an oral presentation before ever in my academic life. It was my first oral presentation of graduate school!

After CMU, I went to Pitt’s campus, and walked into Posvar Hall. I thought about how I used to work in this building full-time. It seems like forever ago, but it was only a few months.  I waited for my group in the seating area of the School of Ed. When my group members arrived, we moved into a quiet study room and started to work on our presentation. While we were working on our presentation, I thought I smelled incense. Then I thought okay, now it smells like campfire. We just kept working through the smell. We finished our audio recording, and someone came into the room, and told us that there is smoke in the building and they are evacuating.  We packed up our stuff and left the study room, and as we made our way to the escalators, the fire alarms went off.

As we made our way outside, we stood around on the patio. I texted my husband and told him that there was smoke and a fire possibly happening in Posvar. He asked if I made it out safe? I texted back and told him I was safe. I looked around for people that I used to work with. I remember in the summer, when they were doing the construction in the building, the fire alarm would go off all the time. Nancy would tell me, “Take all your stuff with you. In case they don’t let us back in.” I would quickly pack up my purse and go outside. She and I would stand around and chat until they let us back in the building.

While we were outside, I texted my group and said, “I guess we are done for the day.” I wondered about submitting the project as is. I saw my instructor outside, and his capstone class was standing around with him. Some of them, I am in class with this semester. Then, another professor that I had last semester, who was supposed to teach class at 4:30pm, ended up combining her class with the other instructor outside on the patio. I went over and talked to my old workers, Nancy, Patty, and Cody. Nancy pointed to Cody and said, “he didn’t bring his stuff.” I said, “Oh you will learn.” I was telling them how think this time it is legit, because I could smell smoke as we were working on our group project.

A few fire trucks arrived, and Pitt police blocked off the streets and the building. It was legit. I decided perhaps I should just head home. Not living in Oakland, and living elsewhere I either have to stay on campus or go home? I had class at 7:15pm. I wasn’t sure. I took the bus, and my parents picked me up (Drew had class), by the time I got the bus stop and my parents picked me up, my dad took me back to Pitt’s campus, because the building was open and class was still on!

When I arrived back to Pitt’s campus, and walked back into Posvar it was like nothing had ever happened earlier! I went into class, and there were some students in there already since the class before in that room was cancelled, or held outside. It was just a weird day.

When my instructor entered the room, and class began we signed up in a particular order for our presentations. I was second. When it was time for me to give my presentation, I just wanted to get it over with. I was ready to go and should have done this two weeks ago, but I wanted to wait and see how everyone else did on their presentations. I think my presentation went well. I get nervous anymore doing presentations.

After class, I received my grade and it was an A! I was happy. I did agree with some of his feedback, and there are things to consider for my next presentation. I was so ready to go home. I met up with Drew downstairs by the bagel place, and we got ready to leave. I also received some texts from my functional area group that the presentation as not working. The audio was not matching with the video. They wanted to utilize the grace period. I just wanted to submit this thing. I hate last minute issues. I also needed to just go home and go to bed.

September 11th

Today is the 17th anniversary of 9/11. I knew exactly where I was when I heard news of the first plane hitting the world trade center. I was 14 years old and in my 8th grade English class. When Mr. Gabor, my history teacher, came into my classroom and told my teacher privately that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. My English teacher allowed us to go into Mr. Gabor’s classroom to watch the television coverage. I remember being a little scared, but what are the odds that anything would happen to our school?

One by one, students were called down to the office. Parents were arriving to pick up their children and take them home. I was one of those children. My mom called the school and said she was going to pick up me and my best friend Amber. When my mom, arrived we got into her car and she took us to my Aunt and Uncle’s house where we spent the day hanging out and watching the news until my mom could pick us up after work. It was such a weird day. I don’t think Amber and I really understood what was going on at the time and how serious this was. Amber and I were typical 14-year-old girls, obsessed with pop music and boys.

In a way, I can’t believe it is 17 years and other ways it feels like it was just yesterday. I was watching the footage today of people jumping from buildings. I was sickened. I thought to myself, why wasn’t this important to me at 14? Well, it doesn’t matter, it is now.

For the longest time, the public, and or the media coined the phrase, “We will never forget.” I think some people have forgotten. We can see it in the treatment of others. I don’t know that is just my observation. I have class tonight, but I wanted to dedicate something to 9/11.

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the field in Somerset PA?

Thursday

This week was so intense. I have had much better weeks, but I am okay. I have been suffering from the learning curve this week, and I have had so many reminders of things that I am still learning and need to remember for the future. Melanie has been in touch with me and I have been checking things off my list with her.

On top of all this, Nancy is out on vacation and so is my supervisor. I am on my own. Thankfully, the division administrator is here. She and I had an impromptu meeting about the events of the week and she said, they were good learning experiences. We had a nice chat and I feel so much better now. I am glad I can talk to her. I have a little agenda for Phyllis when I talk to her on Monday. I will be so happy when tomorrow gets here because it will be Friday!
Yesterday, Wynn came down to see me and she talked me down off the ledge as always. She is the best. She really is such a great person and is always there for me to learn from and to vent to. She helped me with a few things and I am just truly grateful for her. I was going to call her and ask her to come down, but she was there first thing in the morning. She must have a radar. I checked out of here at my normal time, since I had work study. I went to the gym did some running and walking, and machines. Then home, to eat a potato and be a slug.
Today, I just feel so much better. I really do. I feel like I can slow down and forgive myself and not be too hard on myself, and just learn from my mistakes. I read this morning, that Mercury is in retrograde, so that means that there are going to be some miscommunications, and technology might fail. This is going to last until August 19th. Tiger’s eye is good for protection. I know you may think oh my goodness, Danielle you are crazy! ( at least that is what my mom said…) No, I am very spiritual. I won’t say that I not uber religious, but there is some truth to spirituality I believe in it. There is a supernatural world out there, and honestly, it sort of makes sense to me, and I find myself I am drawn to reading about it and learning about it.
This afternoon, it has been okay. I feel refreshed and rebooted. This evening, I am going to pick up the house a little and get ready for my parents to come over tomorrow. We are going to have a movie night. I will have more for you later.

Kate Spade and Too Many Others

This is probably the most serious blog post I will ever do, or have ever done. It is a call to mental health. Today, Kate Spade was found dead by apparent suicide. She hung her self from a scarf, that was tied to her doorknob. For those of you, who do not know who Kate Spade was, she was a fashion designer and husband to Andy Spade, who co-founded the Kate Spade brand.

Kate Spade’s collection is known for bold colors, flirty, and classy prints and designs. I own quite of few things that are Kate Spade. She was my favorite designer. I was saddened by the news of her death. I immediately turned to the internet and found out some interesting information. Kate Spade New York issued a statement on CNN.com, “Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand.” I was shocked by this. I hadn’t realized that she was involved anymore with her brand anymore. I do remember reading something somewhere that Coach bought her out. All the articles have read things like she suffered with business decisions, her marriage was a mess; he wanted a divorce and she didn’t etc. Whatever the reason, it is not worth it to end one’s life.

Kate Spade New York issued this statement:

Please if you are struggling, and you need to speak to someone, it is never too late to seek help. No one is ever too far gone.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.]

Bad News Monday

This morning, I could not sleep. I had cramping, but no period. I was officially 10 days late. I felt like I needed to call the gyno today. I wasn’t sure what to think. I have never been 10 days late. My alarm went off at 5:40am. I got a shower, and got dressed, then woke Drew up. After he was ready and our lunches were packed, we left the house.
When we arrived in Oakland, we deposited a check in the atm, and then went to Starbucks to start the morning off right. I felt so bloated. I was in my bloated jeans today. I felt like maybe it might start today, who knows? We kissed and wished each other a good day, and then I went to my building and he went to his.
When I arrived at my office, I called my mom and updated her. She said that I need to stop worrying. I got off the phone with her and reached out to my gyno. The nurse was going to call me back today at some point. The waiting game begins. I called message the dermatologist to try to get an appointment for Friday. I was thinking of taking a sick day. Drew and I both need to get blood work done, but I need to get a script first from my PCP. This was my next call. Well, my dermatologist doesn’t have anything open until August. I made an appointment.
The nurse eventually called me back and told me that I shouldn’t worried about one wacky period and it probably still is on its way. She told me to take another test tomorrow morning with my first pee of the day, that will be the most accurate. I said, “okay.” she said, “If you don’t get your period next month, then call us.” I said, “Will do.” I felt at ease, that she wasn’t worried about it. I still was going to try and take a sick day on Friday. I am waiting for the script from PCP for blood work to get faxed. Andrew got a script when he went for his annual. We are going to go together. I need a long weekend this weekend.
Today, I moved offices across the circulation desk from where I was before in the Undergraduate Office. It was the one I was in before, but then I had to move to a more private office because if a graduate student as a confidential matter, then I need to be ready to listen to them in a confidential setting. Well now a new faculty member needs it, so I have to move and give up private space. 😦 I  have stuff everywhere here. I need to organize it, but I have no motivation to do that now.
In the afternoon, Drew texted me and told me that a girl we went to high school with was shot and killed in her parent’s driveway last night. I go online and read the article. Her name was Rachael. We went to high school with her. She had 10 gunshot wounds and was shot at point-blank range, after coming home from getting ice cream with her friend. I was shocked. She was in Drew’s class, from what I remember, she was nice and friendly. I read some more news articles about her. One was that she was involved with a 17-year-old boy, who was a student of hers. Rachael was a teacher for PA Cyber school. Another news article talks about how she was involved in a situation with a wedding dressmaker. She got her wedding dress customized and the dressmaker was fraudulent or something. It seemed like this black cloud followed her.
Once we got home from work, I made dinner. We prayed for Rachael and then ate dinner. Drew and I talked about the multiple news articles that we saw about her. It certainly does put everything in perspective. We have so much to be thankful for in life. My thoughts and prayers are with Rachel’s family. May she rest in peace.

A Boy from my Past Died

DISCLAIMER: Beware this a very honest and serious blog post. I don’t mean to offend, this is just my uncensored thoughts and opinions.:

I got a phone call notification on Facebook messenger. My screen said Amber. I answered the call. She said, “Hey, I don’t know your number anymore, but did you hear Josh passed away?” I said, “What? Who?” She said, “Josh (Last Name) ain’t sad.” I had this confused look on my face. I said, “Yes, it is, but I haven’t really seen Josh, or heard from him in years. It has to be since we were in High school.” She said, “Oh, I am so sad over it.” I said, “was it drugs?” She said, “I don’t know. You and everyone else keep asking me that, I am not a forensic examiner.” We both laughed. I missed that sarcastic sense of humor. Our shared sense of the humor, is one of the main elements that held our friendship together, as we got older I have found there were so many key things that we just didn’t have in common anymore. I just couldn’t ignore it anymore.
When I got off the phone with her, I got to thinking wow a guy I dated, when I was 13 years old is dead. He was my so-called, “boyfriend” for maybe 2-3 weeks in the 7th grade. I still liked Zach and I think Zach and I were trying to date again, and that is why I broke up with him, or maybe it was because Amber really didn’t like him, and planned to hook me up with Eugene; a friend of her boyfriend’s. The time line is a little fuzzy. I don’t have any pictures of me and Josh. I only really have one memory of him and me.
Looking back, I remember my dad and I dropped me and Josh off at the move theaters in South Hills Village Mall. We went to go see the Wedding Planner. It was a weird pre-teen date. Your parent drops you off and picks you up, and it is awkward, because you wish you could just date like normal teenagers, but neither one of us drove. I hated those kind of dates, where my parents, or a parent would come and pick us up, always so awkward. I remember being so excited to get out of that phase, but anyways back to Josh.
In high school, I remember hanging out with this girl Nicole a couple times.  I would take the bus with her, back to her house. She lived by our old grade school. I knew Josh lived in her neighborhood still. He never left Sheraden. I would see him, when she and I would be walking around the neighborhood. He would see me and want to hold me, try to kiss me, and get back together with me, but he always looked so grungy, and had these gauges in his ears. I wasn’t really having it. He didn’t really age well into his teenager years, and there after. He just looked dirty, and disheveled all the time. He was all about the “Skater” look and he bragged about smoking weed. I just never really was attracted to him anymore. He was more clean cut and nice looking when he was younger.
After seeing him those couple times, I hadn’t seen him again. Even when I would be back in the neighborhood, where I grew up in Crafton. I never once saw him in the shopping center, or at the bars, etc. It was like he disappeared in a sense, but he never left Sheraden. Amber said, he used to work with her at the pizza place in Crafton, oh okay cool?
I believe Josh died of an overdose. It hasn’t been confirmed.  I knew he smoked weed, but I guess he was into harder drugs. I don’t know what, but I would probably guess and say Heroin. It is easy to get on the streets and popular in certain areas, so is weed, but weed is becoming so unpopular and not as “taboo” anymore. I remember learning about all these various drugs in D.A.R.E class. I never had the desire to try any of them, but I did try weed, other than that I just never had an interest in going past weed and trying something “harder.” It is hard for me to imagine the reason why people would want to do “Drugs.” Drugs of any sort. Weed made me paranoid and it didn’t really chill me out, like people say it should.
Also, I find it hard for to have sympathy for the ones that do drugs, and eventually kill themselves. I know that may sound harsh, but you wouldn’t be dead right now, if you never did drugs? I mean you overdosed, so if you never dosed in the first place, your chances of living would be much higher. I know it maybe hard for some people to seek help; can’t afford it, or can’t commit. This may be cruel, but I save my sympathy for the people who are more deserving of it.The whole idea of Drugs are selfish, and overdosing is a very selfish thing to do you, and your loved ones. Oh, I forgot to mention, Josh left behind two children.
This the first death that I have experienced, where it was someone that I dated. I really have no words. I have typed and said them all. I feel it is sad for his family, but it doesn’t quite affect me. My life turned out so different then some of my friends. I willed it that way, and I fought for the things I have in my life. It wasn’t easy to go down this path. I had opportunities to lose my way, but I never wanted to. I always tried to do well, and do the right thing. I did have my moments, where I lived in the dark and I had dark times, but they didn’t last long and they weren’t extreme. I have always preferred the light, no matter how enticing the dark may seem.
I am thankful for my upbringing and the ability to distinguish the light from the dark. I have a great foundation.I take it for granted almost daily, but I am working on it. I am more thankful for things, than I used to be.
However, to those who have used and are struggling with addiction I hope you receive help and you learn to value yourself, and please stop being so selfish. think of your families, your children, your loved ones, the people, who would be devastated. Think of someone else other than yourself.