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The most beautiful of rocky paths, meaningful to experience, difficult to navigate.

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The last few weeks this song keeps playing in my head! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12zPU-8bsTE

I keep thinking about going to see Gossip live with friends, and holding hands with two partners during this song and feeling like I was home.

Life is very wonderful, I feel so sentimental all the time, as everything keeps settling into place. I really like getting older. All the ideas I have been working toward seem to finally be a bigger reality in my life. I feel empowered and loved by friends, bosses, lovers, and community. Now, I really just need to catch up on more of my projects. If only.

Actually, quite frankly, I have been catching up and doing better because I have two strong relationships of people who are understand what I do and why and helping. Just the other day, Matt sat with me for a little while before I went to teach debate, helping me look up and write down facts about fast food and NPLAN’s “Healthy Food Zones” around schools for the debate my class wanted to have about fast food and whether or not fast food should be allowed near schools. He seemed to actually care and like it. Which is fucking awesome. He is such a sincere, giving, and caring person. I really love him.

Now, while a lot of things are so dreamy in parts of my life, there is an area that has become more complicated and taking downward turns.

It is so challenging, sometimes, this loving of more than one person at once, with dedication and commitment. Especially when you work hard to build community among your lovers because you are committed to it… Community around these relationships is so important to me, because, for me, it fosters commitment, growth, and constructiveness. I feel it also empowers each of us, building a deep network of trust and support.

Someone came along who just doesn’t seem to get it, however, but I fell for them anyways. And I might not have quite realized this is what was happening until my heart and the hearts of my other lovers have already made so much room for the this person that I fell for, I don’t think I really realized that he didn’t quite get it, maybe because this someone has always seemed to really want to get it.

And we are all hurting  because this person, this person that has been having trouble getting what my relationship and polyamorous community goals are and this person has fallen for someone else who also doesn’t seem to get it. There are big checking in and communicating gaps. There is is a lack of empathy and effort for truly growing a close relationship between all of us, and only some of it may be due to both of this person and their new lover’s school schedule demands.

I have a lot of effort and empathy coming in from my other lovers to try and help me have perspective and constructive actions, a lot of them advocating for this someone, myself, our relationship, and even this other person. Meanwhile, I hear from this someone that their lover, this other person, like’s playing “Devil’s Advocate” when talking to this person about our relationship. Their remarks seem cold and unsympathetic. The opposite of what my support network, my other lovers, do when I confide in them regarding this person and this other person.  I have come to feel there is a lack of commitment and support. This really hurts me, in partnership with their lack of warmth and reaching out. I am trying really hard not to take it personally. I recognize this other person is new to all of this and has an intense school schedule, but I fear this other person won’t ever be that way and I am not about to demand it, that doesn’t seem constructive. And I don’t want to demand anything, I want to be with people who want to have relationships they way that I want to have relationships and are committed to only pursuing other people who want to have relationships in a similar, compatible way. I have communicated, but I won’t demand. Instead, I wait and see if things sort themselves out with some more time… With a general feeling of preparing myself to walk away.

I perceive that my reaching out, explaining what is bothering me and what I need, etc. hasn’t really seem to be making many dents in these issues. I fear there are fundamental incompatibilities and I am ready to let go, but I did make commitments to this someone and I see effort on their part and even on the part of this other person. Or, at least, I have in my mind, as I tend to be terribly loyal and dedicated. It hurts not to feel that returned in a way I relate to. So, my plan is mostly just to take the space I need for now so that it is less painful, to listen to Kimbra’s “Settle Down” (which seems to somehow capture the feeling I have about the situation well), and to wait. To wait, hoping it will all pass somehow. Waiting and trying to get the pieces in place or to at least be patient enough for the pieces to fall into place, in the spirit of love and commitment…

And this is why I have tried to become so careful in relationships, because (through much trial and error) I have clear ideas and philosophies regarding what I want in my polyamorous relationships. Once I have a committed relationship, I attempt to take everything else carefully and slowly. I get so terribly involved and I can be very sensitive because I desire closeness and community among my lovers and their lovers.

So, yeah. Kimbra….

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Written by lovemotionstory

November 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Awesome, Introduction to Debate handout for middle schoolers

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I slightly changed a few details and adapted a really awesome debate handout that I found here and it modified it to this, which I am handing out to my class today… I picked the school dress code as an example at the end because it was the topic we debated in the first class last week.

I am so excited!

 

Introduction to Debate


We all engage in argument every day, on a variety of issues. Sometimes we are the people making the arguments. You may argue with your friends over what movie to see, with your parents about adjusting your curfew, or with your employer about getting a raise. At other times, you are part of the audience for arguments that try to persuade you to believe a certain thing or to take a particular action. You may not realize it, but you spend the majority of every day surrounded by arguments:

“I need a hall pass.”

“The Blazers will win their next home game.”

“We should order a pizza.”

All of these are arguments. When you think of the word argument, you probably think of its negative use. We often characterize confrontations as arguments, saying things like: “Don’t argue with me,” or “I don’t want to get into an argument about this.” While these phrases use one sense of the word argument, another way to think about an argument is simply as an attempt to convince an audience about some idea. We make arguments about the world in order to persuade an audience to adopt a specific point of view about something. When you say, “I need a hall pass,” you are most likely trying to persuade your teacher to allow you to leave the classroom for some reason. When you say, “We should order a pizza,” you may be trying to convince your friends or family to have a specific kind of meal. Arguments can also be about facts or predictions, as in the case of the above claim about the Blazers. It is not necessarily true that the Blazers will win their next home game. Thus, when you claim that they will, you are making an argument by trying to convince a listener that your point of view is correct.

We make arguments to persuade other people to take our side on a particular issue. What are some arguments you might make in everyday situations? What kinds of arguments might you make to your friends? How about to your parents or guardians? What kinds of arguments might you make to your teachers?

Just as we make arguments to others, they also make arguments to us. Most of your day, whether you realize it or not, is spent being an audience to the arguments of others. What are some of the arguments you hear from your teachers, siblings, or parents?

You consume arguments, just as you consume products like toothpaste and video games. We are used to thinking of ourselves as consumers of goods and services, but we may not think of ourselves as consumers of information and argument. Yet we are constantly bombarded by arguments in the form of advertisements. All advertisements are arguments because they try, however indirectly, to persuade you to take a course of action – to buy their product.

Arguments are the driving force of everything from science to politics. A scientific hypothesis is a kind of argument that must be proven, through testing or other kinds of experimentation and research. Public policies are made and continued on the basis of persuasive arguments. Public transportation, such as buses and subway systems, didn’t just come into being by accident. Public transportation exists because someone (or, more likely, a group of someones) decided that it would be a good idea to have a bus system and made persuasive arguments for funding and maintaining mass transit. Elementary schools have recesses or play breaks because teachers or educators made persuasive arguments that those policies would be a good idea for elementary school children.

As you can see, argument is important to you and your life, whether you are aware or conscious of it or not. You navigate your life and your social relationships with others by convincing them of your opinions or being convinced by theirs. So, the more you are aware of arguments being presented to you and how to make arguments, the more you will be able to make better choices for yourself and the better you will be able to communicate and talk to people around you, even when you disagree.

In democratic societies, argument is critical to politics. Citizens or their elected representatives argue all the time about how to best make policy that represents the interests of the people. These conditions mean that those who do not know how to make effective arguments are often left behind or left out, because they cannot advocate on behalf of their interests or the interests of their family, co-workers, or other groups to which they might belong. If you learn how to argue effectively and persuasively, you will be able to overcome these obstacles and become a participating citizen in the global culture of argument.

The purpose of a course in debate is to become better at the business of argument. Everyone knows how to argue, but few people know how to argue well. As you study the practice of debate, you will become more competent at making arguments as well as listening critically to the arguments of others. Both skills are necessary for success in debate and life. In this debate class, you will learn some basic debate skills and practice developing those skills using several different exercises.

What Makes a Debate?

Debating can be formal or informal, written or oral, and heated or relaxed. The exchange of ideas and opinions is as old as language itself and has taken many forms throughout human history. Organized and informal debate occurs all over the world and plays an important role in just about every human society. Students study and engage in debate in Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan, Romania, Chile, Korea, Mexico, Ireland, and the Ukraine, just to name a few countries. By studying debate, you are joining a global community engaged in one of humanity’s oldest pursuits.

While millions of people all over the world enjoy a good debate, they do not all debate in the same way, in the same format, or even in the same language. Most debates have a few characteristics in common:

  • Participating debaters try to persuade a third-party audience or judge.
  • Debates are usually on a fixed topic or proposition.

When we argue with our friends or parents, we are usually trying to convince them of our viewpoint, and vice versa. We say that someone wins an argument when they convince the other side to agree with their viewpoint. Debate does not work this way. One important way that debate is different from simple argument is that in a debate, you are not trying to convince your opponent or opponents that you are right. Rather, you are trying to convince some third party who is watching the debate. This third party is usually an audience, but it might also be a judge or a panel of judges who have been specially assigned the job of deciding the winner of a debating contest.

Both public and competitive debates are normally on a fixed topic or proposition. The topic might be vague or imprecise, such as “school safety” or “television.” The topic might also suggest a direction for the debate, such as “School safety should be improved,” or “Television should be abolished.” The function of a topic for debate is to constrain the issues that will be debated – generally, judges and audiences expect that debaters will stick to the assigned topic. Debate topics usually deal with issues in controversy. These can be international issues like global warming or local issues like scheduling or dress codes at your school. One of the great things about debate is that once you learn how to debate, you can debate about any given topic.

What is an Argument?

Arguments are the most basic building blocks of debate. Understanding what makes arguments work distinguishes successful debaters from their less successful colleagues, and creates advantages for even the most experienced debaters. Debate is not the same thing as argument. Debate is a place for the presentation of many and various arguments, all of which can serve functions throughout the course of a debate. Of course, not all arguments are equally successful.

The question for debaters is how to make successful arguments and how to make these successful arguments work in debates.

Often, arguments are not successful because they are incomplete. It is important to remember that an argument is different from a simple assertion. An assertion is, most simply, a statement that presents an idea as a fact:

  • “The school dress code helps students focus.”
  • “Hyacinths are better than roses.”
  • “The USA should eliminate its nuclear arsenal.”
  • “Economic growth is more important than environmental protection.”

Most topics that you will debate formally will be simple claims about the world. They may take the form of propositions of fact, value, or policy, or of any combination of these. In everyday situations, many people mistake simple assertions for arguments. This error leads to debates not unlike those had by children: “Is too.” “Is not.” “Is too.” “Is not…” These are not intellectual or constructive debates.

Simply speaking, all arguments have three basic components: Assertion, Reasoning, and Evidence (A.R.E.). Arguments have an assertion, which is simply a statement that something is so. Arguments also have reasoning, which is the explanation of why the assertion is valid. Reasoning is the “because” part of an argument. Finally, arguments have evidence, the proof of the reasoning. All three components are necessary for complete arguments.

A novice debater might simply offer assertions to prove their point:
“The school dress code helps students focus.”

A more sophisticated debater knows that their argument will be more persuasive with reasoning:
“The school dress code helps students focus because it diminishes the economic and social barriers between students.”

Better yet is the technique of the advanced debater, who offers evidence, or proof, to cement the credibility of their argument:
“The school dress code helps students focus because it diminishes the economic and social barriers between students. Credible university studies conducted across the nation strongly point to this effect.”

If this argument “works” (is it is is persuasive), it will probably be due to the fact that it plays on the audience’s assumption that rules that reduce economic and social barriers between students are good. It may also be persuasive because the data (the evidence being cited by the debater) is credible, or from a credible source.

Written by lovemotionstory

October 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

I work with amazing people!

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So, yesterday was my first day leading middle schoolers in debate in the extended day program that I work for! It was really, crazy awesome. Last year, I proposed to the old director f0r the program I work for that I facilitate a debate class and he said he would love that. This year, there is a new director who totally went along with it too, I am so thankful he left her good notes about all this and that he is interested in the debate class and extending my time for comics class…

I have been teaching comics/zines in this program for the last two years, as a one-hour class. I kept suggesting a two-hour block for this class, and, this year, I also finally got the extra time! Today is the first day of the comics class for this year, as a two-hour class! I am so excited for more time so my students and I can flesh out and refine their comics this term for their big, comic’s class zine.

To top it off, the program has a new director is a really wonderful woman. I always admired the relationship the old director of the extended day program seem to have with all the students and faculty, how patient he was with everyone, how positive he was with everyone, and how hard he worked at such a challenging job. The new director seems to be completely apt to fill his shoes. Every time I saw her, she is so thoughtful, kind, and witty. And, this afternoon, she sent em this really nice email!!!

Hi Blue,
I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that you are AWESOME. :) Thank you so much for being so on-the-ball yesterday and for your flexibility and patience as I figure out how to balance everybody’s needs in our program. This first week has, thus far, been pretty frantic. My saving grace is that I have several instructors– such as yourself– who know what they’re doing and do it well. I do apologize for not being as present to you yesterday as I would have liked to be. Thanks for letting me know about the pens you’ll need for Comics. I will try to get those as soon as possible. And thanks for being on time, prepared, and terrific. I hope Debate continues to be a great experience for you and the students. Please know that, although I may seem like I’m in a frenzy, I am noticing the wonderful job that you’re doing.
Thanks a lot, and see you this afternoon!

I seriously can’t believe all the luck I have had the last few years in work! In nannying, I work for some of the most strong, intelligent, caring, respectful, and thoughtful parents who, of course, have incredibly fun, intelligent, and sweet kids. Then, with teaching, I just keep having opportunity after opportunity to help support and encourage kids to be critically thinking, bravely expressive, and passionately creative. In local shops, at the IPRC, at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp for Girls, and at the middle school in the extended day program.

Lastly, I totally found a new house to live that actually feels like it’s going to be a HOME… I am incredibly excited about my two, new housemates who I have a ridiculous amount in common with. When I went to interview for the house, we all just really hit it off, talking for two hours, then, as I was unlocking my bike and leaving, they came out and asked me to move in with them and gave me a key!

I feel kind of silly for being so worried this past weekend about finding a new place, but I really appreciate all the support of my partners, friends, and the even the families I work for!! I am so thankful for all of you people, I can’t even explain it to you. I wrote my main nannying-family mom an email letting her know I found a new home last night and thanking her for all her support, but for also being an amazing person to work with with a wonderful family. Of course, then she wrote me back a nice note.

SERIOUSLY, LIFE IS RAD. <3

Written by lovemotionstory

October 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm