The Deployment Diaries: Part Four

Well, ladies and gentlemen. D-Day has come and gone. For OPSEC reasons, I stopped posting on this platform because I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t post. I won’t get into any of that, but I will get into my feelings. Ew. I know.

Today is our one year wedding anniversary. It took me an embarrassingly long time to write this post because I didn’t know how to sort out how I was feeling. I didn’t know what to say.

A quarter-life crisis is brewing in my life. You know how people have a mid-life crisis and get their nose pierced or a boob job? Yeah, I think I’m going to have one of those,  but like, quit my job or something completely overdramatic and chaotic. My entire life is off. Today, I was lecturing my AP Lang & Comp class and thought about how I was on autopilot delivering a hyper-positive, canned message about the purpose of databases and their use in college.

I started questioning why the hell I even teach. I pondered if it makes me happy. Or if I’m even good at it.  Or whether I’m “PC” enough for it. All of this is a cover-up for the real crisis happening in my life.

The hardest part of deployment will be the time difference. For example, I get done with work at 4:30 pm and its 12:30 am there. When I get home from work, the house will be empty and cold. I’m still working through everything on my end.

I didn’t realize how many different goodbyes there would be. There’s the goodbye when he left for MOAB training. The goodbye when I went to see him on his 4 days of leave. The digital goodbye when he shut off his phone service. The “goodnight” message that didn’t get responded to because he didn’t have WiFi and was busy at work.

Nobody told me how much it would absolutely suck falling in love with a military boy. But, I wouldn’t change a single day of our story. _U3A2419

“Cause I’m carryin’ your love with me
From West Virginia down to Tennessee
I’ll be movin’ with the good lord speed, carryin’ your love with me
It’s my strength for holdin’ on
Every minute that I have to be gone
I’ll have everything I’ll ever need
Carryin’ your love with me.”

-George Strait


The Deployment Diaries: Part Three (D-Day)

Pulling into an Army base parking lot and seeing a full-grown man crying while holding his adult son is not the way I wanted to start my morning. I immediately looked away because I felt my own knotted throat start to throb.  One deep breath in and one deep breath out was going to be the only way I could keep my shit together today. It didn’t work, needless to say, but I’m proud of how I handled myself this weekend.

Wednesday night after volleyball practice I got in my car and drove 5.5 hours south to Josh’s unit in Illinois. There has been an immense amount of tension and anticipation for this day for months now, and I still wasn’t ready for it. No amount of preparation could have helped me be fully ready to say goodbye to my best friend because there’s never enough time.

The following day was the awards ceremony and Family Event which was a picnic at the local park. Many times throughout the day, I had to stop myself from thinking Man, I don’t even want to be here.  I wanted my life to go back to normal and wake up in bed with Josh by my side as if none of this had ever happened. But that’s not my current reality, and it’s better to embrace the moments I had left with him instead of fighting the inevitable.  I didn’t want to leave with any regrets or anything left unsaid.

This morning at 5 am, my alarm decides it’s time for me to wake up after a night of restless sleep in order to drive Josh to his unit a short 20-minute drive away from our hotel. I wouldn’t trade those last 20 minutes for anything! I saw this post today that said: “The only value that deployment brings to a relationship is you get to experience your first kiss all over again.” That. Slapped. Hard. 12 months and counting down until I get to experience my first kiss – like Josh and I are 20 years old again.  Those last few moments of ours together were also shared by a hundred or so other people also sharing emotional goodbyes with their soldier.

It’s an interesting dichotomy because I felt so isolated inside of his embrace while being surrounded by people who were experiencing the same exact thing. I never understood the concept of the world falling away and turning hazy until nothing else mattered except for Josh and I. That moment. I literally felt my heart burst into a million pieces that would not and could not be remedied by any person except for him.

At this point, I feel utterly heartbroken. I understand it’s not logical to think this way, but I truly feel a loss – like a death in the family that needs to be mourned.

This whole blog post sounds very short and to the point… Unemotional. Unintentional. I’m really just trying my best to process everything right now.

“Kiss me hard before you go
Summertime sadness
I just wanted you to know
That baby, you the best”

-Lana Del Rey


**edit** for OPSEC reasons, I waited to post this.


The Deployment Diaries: Part Two

At some points, I wish D-Day was a complete surprise to me. Knowing about it for months upon months now has created this sense of feeling like a kettle: I’m a slow boil soon to scream under all of the pressure. I’m trying so hard to be strong and put on this face of ‘everything will be okay’ but in all reality- I’m imploding. I wake up every day so thankful I get to spend special moments with my soldier knowing that it’s all about to change. We’ve done so many fun things! We went to Lollapalooza, the worlds most iconic and memorable music festival. We went to a Packers pre-season game. We are going to see his family. We are doing everything in our power to suck out every single ounce of happiness within these next couple of days. I feel the dread stirring up inside of me, and I feel out of control. I can’t change anything about what’s to come for the next year, and all I can do is pray for strength while joining as many hobbies and groups as I can to feel connected to society. I am definitely the type of person to just hide inside of my apartment and never come out. To wallow. But, I refuse to let myself feel like a pile of hot garbage for the next year. Life moves on, and so will I. It’s just a major bummer that I’ll have to learn to do that by myself.

I dream about our one year wedding anniversary that I will be spending alone. I dream about all of the weddings I will RSVP to for ‘1’. I dream about Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Sundays…. All alone. But even more scary for me are the Tuesdays four months from now when I get home from work in 0-degree weather in the pitch-black darkness where I just sit inside of my apartment for 6 hours until I go to bed. Wake up. And do it all over again. Work. Wallow. Repeat.

I’m terrified of the bad days at work where I need to vent to someone and having nobody. I’m scared of literally having nobody. Teaching is a very isolating feeling where I have to be perfect at all avenues or else face ridicule, embarrassment, or the wrath of parents and other staff. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, so I feel like I will internalize all of these issues instead of working through them. In these next couple of months, I will find out who is a real friend in my life and who is fair weather. I feel people slipping away already because of ‘life’ stuff: moving, babies, relationships, work… All of it pulls people apart. I miss living in my house on Union street where I was surrounded by my best friends at all times. I hate that living with my friends didn’t work out. I regret a lot of stuff about those relationships, but this next year will make some of my relationships clearer in where I stand.

The struggle is juggling the anxiety of going back to work soon with the anxiety of losing my best friend. I’ve definitely been pushing him away lately which is a natural stage apparently, but it still really sucks to feel like I’m wasting our last days together in a funk because I can’t seem to alter my mentality about the situation.

For now, I’m struggling. I’m sure this will be the case for a while. I’m hoping to ease the pain soon, but I don’t think anything but time will work.

“When you’re low
And your knees can’t rise
You feel helpless
And you’re looking to the sky
Some people would say
To accept their fate
Well, if this is fate
Then we’ll find a way to cheat
‘Cause, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh we’ll say a little prayer
But, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh if the answer isn’t fair
You know you can call on me
When you need somebody
You know you can call on me
When you can’t stop the tears from falling down.” – Starley

The Deployment Diaries: Part One

Today marks one month until D-Day. This past weekend, we went to a Yellow Ribbon Event in Bloomington, Minnesota. I was NOT into the idea because it seemed dry, stuffy, and overly emotional. I wasn’t excited, but I feigned tolerance for Josh’s benefit. It was hosted in the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stepped in: marble everything, 25 floors, fine dining – the works.

Let me start out by saying I don’t regret going- it had its benefits- but I’m not sure I got what they intended out of it. 

Josh recently transferred units with five of his closest friends (2 of which were in our wedding) in order to deploy in 2019 instead of 2020. Most of the people I met were so kind and genuine. I say ‘most’ because let’s be honest… some of the soldiers you meet are the stereotypical egg heads that make you roll your eyes in annoyance at their immaturity. It’s quite comforting to know that my husband will be deploying with good, honest people who are reliable.

Much of the information presented to us at the Yellow Ribbon Event was irrelevant to Josh because he seems to have a strong handle on the paperwork that needs to be done before deployment. But, there were some shining moments that I’ll take away and remember while he’s gone. Recently, I’ve been trying to take mental pictures in order to pause my mind and revel in a moment. I won’t have any of these small pleasures for very much longer, and I’m trying to soak up as much and as many as possible.

  • Josh and I got to spend quality time together in a beautiful hotel.
  • I was able to meet more of the soldiers he’s deploying with who are also in this new unit.
  • I was able to understand the process and cycle of emotions that are spiraling through my head.
  • Josh and I were able to relax in a hotel, watch a movie, and laugh together without worry.
  • I found a cheap and efficient way to ship packages


If you want more information about the pre-deployment cycle of emotions, click here.

An Open Letter to My Sister Who Doesn’t Speak to Me Anymore…


Today, we are supposed to be at a Bon Iver concert in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sipping on lemonades, soaking in the sunshine. I was supposed to take you to experience your first Summerfest. Today, we were supposed to celebrate your 17th birthday! But, something terrible happened. Our relationship crumbled, and now, I’m not sure if we can repair our sisterhood.

Getting cut out of your life feels worse than any other break-up I’ve ever experienced in my life. In middle school, my best friend stopped talking to me because she thought I was taking her ex-boyfriend’s side. This is worse. This is worse than any high school rejection I ever received because boys thought I was weird. This is worse than my long-time high school / college best friend ghosting me because she started to believe lies that someone was spreading about me. This hurts worse. This hurts worse than when my boyfriend of over 3 years dumped me on my 21st birthday. Throughout my life, I’ve dealt with rejection in all sorts of different ways. This, though, slices like a knife to a vital artery in a way because I can’t imagine my life without you in it.  You’re not some dumb boyfriend. You’re not some snotty, fake friend who obviously was using me. You’re my blood. You’re my sister. You’re my ride or die, or supposed to be. Image may contain: Haley Rae and Heather Yates, people smiling, tree, wedding, outdoor and nature

So, why don’t you listen when I tell you “I love you”? Why don’t you believe me when I say I empathize with you? Why can’t you let me in when I knock repeatedly at your door? Don’t you know how many nights I’ve lost sleep thinking about you, crying over you, praying for you to come back into my life? I fucking miss you. I have so many questions for you, and I wish you could answer them. When I close my eyes, I can still see your icy blue eyes welling up in pain. I wish, over everything, that I was enough to help you. I hate that there was nothing I could do to take away your pain. I wish I had said the right thing to help you rebalance your life and love me again.

As your big sister, I always wanted that perfect relationship where we would fight about clothes and scream-sing songs in the car when we were listening to the radio. Instead, I got fights about drugs and mediated screaming matches between you and mom, or between us girls.

Looking back, you were always Dad’s favorite girl. You were so similar in every single imaginable way. People compared your baby pictures and compared your tempers, your taste in foods and your interests in school. Where the fuck did that person go? The happy girl who was so goofy and so independent? The girl who had big dreams – bigger than ‘get me the fuck out of this house because I hate my family’. Your dreams were to save the world.

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What happened?

When did your life start to spiral?

What part did I play as your big sister?

What did I do so wrong to make you hate me?

I hear your cries for help – I don’t know how to help other than the ways our family has already helped you. We’ve taken you to the best doctors, given you space to make your own choices. Your feelings are valid. You are loved. 

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I wish you would pick me. I wish you would pick our family over a substance. I wish you would pick our family over friends who are temporary and a job that is a dead end.  I wish you believed me when I said that I know exactly how you’re feeling, and I’ve felt that way too in my past before.

Life sucks, but the right people around us can make it so much better and easier. Please pick me. Please pick our family again. Please come back and be the goofy girl with the drive to save the world.

You grew up. You changed. I get that! I’m not saying be a little girl anymore … I’m saying please bring Ashlyn back so we can get the chance to be sisters again.

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I love you.

I miss you.


A Teacher’s Reflections During Teacher Appreciation Week

Living in a politically correct environment as a politically incorrect person is the hardest part of my job. I am a role model, constantly observed and critiqued by students, parents, administration, mentors, and other colleagues. Let me be clear: I do not mean politically incorrect as in I’m a bigotted racist who uses slurs and inappropriate language in a school environment, but rather I am a sarcastic person who uses humor to deal with difficult or stressful situations.

There are many issues that arise due to this faulty personality trait of mine.  Things that are jokes to me are serious to someone else. Things I find humorous and light-hearted are not to someone else. I find myself saying ‘I’m just giving you a hard time’ or ‘I hope you know I do this in jest- not to harm’ in order to cover my bases in case the person I think I’m building a relationship with does not see it the way I do.

The ‘zoo animal’ feeling is what has me contemplating my career choice.  I fear everyone talking about me behind my back, the stories getting warped into fabrications, and ultimately, me getting into trouble from an untrue rumor. I have always been the kid who fears trouble because I never wanted any attention on me. I hate when people raise their voice – it’s frightening in a way that’s hard to explain.

Teaching is a life-long learning process. For example, it’s frowned upon to say ‘pissed’ and ‘frick’ in front of middle schoolers, yet acceptable with older high school children who understand the context of the word. This is what I mean about being politically incorrect in a politically correct environment; knowing what is appropriate to say and what is not okay to say is vital to my success and employment as a teacher. There are no rule books. No clear lines drawn in the sand. I have the self-actualization to comprehend that I have an abrasive personality. I get along with most students because I’m able to connect with them, but there are a few that do not understand or appreciate me due to my abrasiveness. I’m constantly worried about offending people or upsetting them, but concurrently am not able to change my personality to be someone I’m not.  

I do not think we should crucify someone based on one infraction or small mistake. It’s so hard because I hear the negativity, the smack talk, the banter between colleagues and it’s hard not to think about stepping out of the room and them talking that way about me. I’m still learning, and nobody says anything to my face about my performance.

Here’s an example: I’ve been parking in the same spot for 6 months of school. Nobody ever told me where teachers can/can’t park, so I selected an area that I’ve seen teachers, administrators, or office people park before. 6 months. After these many, many months, the athletic director escorts me into his office to tell me he has “been nominated” to tell me about “the parking situation”. Apparently, I was parking in someone else’s designated spot. No name plaque, not an ‘actual’ designation, just someone claimed that spot and parks there every day. For 6 months I was pissing this person off. Instead of alerting me about the unspoken code of conduct, this person just complained until someone with a straight set of human decency told me otherwise. It was mortifying.

This is the type of thing that makes me want to quit and find something else to pay the bills. I can be doing something wrong without even knowing I’m doing something wrong. But in the end, it’ll be my responsibility and I’ll own it no matter what happens.

Point blank- I’m not perfect. I’ll always be ‘Haley’ and nobody else. I cringe at the idea of putting on a mask for 10 hours a day to please a system that is guided by fear of public scrutiny and legal matters. 

I know a lot of this post was disjointed and jumped around, but thanks for listening.

Shit that is stressing me out

  1. Working with toxic adults in a professional environment
  2. Volleyball season & figuring out how to balance female athletes’ emotions
  3. Josh’s deployment
  4. School starts again in 6 weeks
  5. My sister is getting into trouble and tearing up our family
  6. Bills
  7. My crappy apartment: whether or not to move
  8. Losing Ezra & Helix (my other cat) is stressed out about it
  9. My relationships with my husband and my friends
  10. Cherishing the time I have left

My Recurring Nightmare

Lately, I’ve been having the ‘deployment’ dream. You know, the one where I play out Josh leaving me over and over until I wake up sweating in my sleep.

In every single other aspect of my life, I have been able to shut off the thoughts and feelings like a garden hose.

But I haven’t been able to shake this. There are 2 different scenarios that I play out in my mind (the first is more unrealistic than the second). The first is me dropping him off at the airport and not being able to walk past security with him. I break down in public and people stare. The second is I’m on base, and I have to leave. This has happened before, and it was messy. The five-hour drive home was filled with a lot of James Arthur and sad country music.

Regardless of which scenario is more realistic, I need to shut it down. It’s far too early to start thinking about D-Day. I truly don’t want to start thinking about it until Josh is gone so he doesn’t have to see the snot-nosed sobs that are inevitable. I will manifest the type of wife I want to be during this time in hopes that I can actually be positive, happy, supportive, and realistic.

For now, I’ve found hobbies and work that’ll continue to waste my time and occupy my mind.


Survivor: Edge of Extinction’s Cast & Their Demises

It’s fascinating to think about what Survivors should have done or could have done to experience just one more day out on the island. As a spectator at home, I found myself analyzing the actions of the eliminated Survivors and drawing conclusions about what single alliance, decision, or challenge was their ultimate demise that snuffed their torch of life.

Reem “Dude” Daly was not Survivor’s most annoying contestant (Phil or Abi still hold that title in my opinion), but she was like the mosquito that wouldn’t leave me alone. She didn’t bring anything to the table for her tribe to keep her around. She was an “old” woman, weak, and not socially apt enough for the game. Do not, under any circumstances, touch or move stranger’s belongings on the first day at camp. You will be targeted, and you will be a social threat to people. Reem is quoted off of the CBS website as saying “My social game is amazing and although I am honest to a fault, I know when to chill. I’ve been watching since 2000—I trust no one. Words mean zero to me. Actions speak louder!”. Reem “Dude” Daly’s ultimate demise was trying too hard to make her tribe happy and be indisposable at camp. Stop trying so hard, Reem, you’re annoying people by moving their stuff. 

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Keith Sowell was doomed from the start. A guy who can’t swim isn’t going to last long on an island competing in challenges where at least 2 always involve swimming of some sort! Keith’s ultimate demise was his physical abilities and lack of strength. He was an easy target to pick off because he was dead weight in challenges. Probably better to vote him out first before he drowned and died during the season. Keith, it was for your own safety!

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Chris Underwood has the ultimate Survivor story. Voted out third because he put too much pressure on himself to play a perfect game, Chris won his way back onto the island to ultimately win a million dollars. After betraying Keith and eliminating him, Chris had to face him on Extinction Island and all of his shortcomings. This allowed Chris to reflect and motivated him to ‘earn’ his way back in – thus offering himself as a tribute to beat Rick in a fire making competition.

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Rick Devens should have won the million dollars – don’t even fight me. He earned it! He fought and fought through so many tribals where he was “public enemy #1”. Rick Devens did nothing wrong except he didn’t make a fire fast enough to beat Chris. Period.

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Aubry Bracco played a very emotional game this season. She was here for redemption and out for blood from the start. Initially a target due to her strategic history, Aubry got voted out as a threat. When she didn’t play the perfect game, Aubry fell apart and ruined her chances at getting back in the game when Extinction gave her a second chance. Aubry is one of my personal favorite Survivor contestants (as well as Davie Rickenbacker, Zeke Smith, & Russell). I related to her story, and she seemed like a normal person with a cutthroat competitive streak. This is a similar mindset that I would play the game if given the opportunity.

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Wendy Diaz‘s elimination was the most cut and dry elimination of them all. “Don’t save the chickens. Don’t do it” I screamed at the TV as she secretly released the only source of protein the contestants had. Sigh. Some people really know how to put a target on their back. Wendy was likable, quirky, and different, but didn’t have the strategic foresight to see that releasing the chickens would be her ultimate demise. Wendy had a second chance on the Edge of Extinction, but she lacked the mental fortitude to survive the lonely conditions it brought.

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Joe Anglim lost because he didn’t chop his God damn hair off. On a more serious note, Joe was too much of a physical threat to last long with the multiple strategic players in the game. He didn’t win the first immunity challenge, and the freshly merged tribe took advantage of the opportunity to pounce & eliminate while they still had the chance. Joe wanted to play a chill, low-key game. That’s what is tough with players like Joe, Malcolm, or Ozzy. People see the strength and are intimidated by it. Once you have two strong seasons, everyone is going to gun for you. Joe’s ultimate demise was not forming a secret alliance with the other returning players: Wentworth, Aubry, and David.

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Eric Hafemann’s ultimate demise was his inability to please people and lie. When Julie came up to him with a plan, he needed to go along with it instead of outright refusing. Survivors need to appease people even when it’s not natural. I feel bad about this elimination because Eric didn’t do anything wrong, but paranoia got the best of the other Survivors and he was eliminated because they thought he somehow had an ulterior alliance with David and Rick.

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Julia Carter is one of those players I will forget about because she had no stand out moments. She blended into the pack, and I respect her for that because it got her quite far. The drama started at Tribal Council when she got a little too cocky and said “You’re such a passenger, Rick.” This prompted one of the craziest Tribal Council’s I’ve ever witnessed! Rick proposed turning on Kama as a last-ditch effort to save his own skin, and Julia freaked out. Whispers started floating in between Julia and Rick’s debate about who would potentially work with who. Julie, a bottom member of Kama who knew her time in the majority alliance was limited, started stirring the pot to try and swing the power into her favor. Julia, at this time, should have kept her mouth shut. By talking so defensively and rudely, she gave everyone a reason to write her name down.

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David Wright is another Survivor contestant who won me over on a previous season. I love how David surprises the audience at everything: social gameplay, athleticism, intelligence, strategy, and mental fortitude. I loved watching David evolve into a confident man from a demure, self-conscious temperament. David’s ultimate demise was not playing with Rick when he had the opportunity. Rick trusted him with half the immunity idol after he was awarded it on his return to the island. The two had a falling out about who to vote for, and they parted ways. Unfortunately, David elected to vote with Kelley’s alliance (the old Lesu tribe) which Rick was opposed to since they had been responsible for voting him out the first time. This didn’t immediately ruin him, but eventually, Kelley’s tribe voted him out in a later tribal council.

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Kelley Wentworth‘s demise was not having a back-up alliance other than Wardog and Lauren. Lauren is manipulatable enough to just listen to whatever Wentworth has to say, but Wardog is a snake in the weeds. Kelley’s ultimate demise was not creating many bonds with other tribe members other than Lauren and Wardog. She stuck to her clique and did not waiver. Wardog betrayed Kelley’s trust and teamed up with a motley crew of underdogs to eliminate her.

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Dan “Wardog” DaSilva was a very strange contestant. He boasts of being military and a lawyer, but he didn’t play like it. I was expecting a much bigger physical threat, but instead, Wardog was like a puppy learning how to swim when it came to challenges. Wardog’s ultimate demise was not including Gavin in on the plans to eliminate Wentworth. Gavin was out for blood and convinced everyone to blindside Wardog come next tribal. Karma is a bitch, sometimes.

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Ron Clark’s energy was captivating. I can totally see him standing up in front of 32 high school kids and demanding their full attention and not takin’ no shit! Unfortunately, Ron’s demise was his ego. He forgot that Survivor is a game where anything can happen. When you feel too comfortable, you are more than likely getting blindsided or stabbed in the back by your alliance. Ron Clark boasted about being a “double agent” and that he was “in charge of this game” to his husband during the family visit he won. Bold statements from someone who would be shortly disposed of! Ron got caught                        “[manipulating]” people. Does TV truly capture the character of a person, or do the producers depict character archetypes however they want by hand selecting the clips they use? Ron could potentially be one they wrongfully characterized.

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Aurora McCreary should have operated under the mindset of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” If Aurora could have put aside her personal vendetta against Rick Devens and worked together, they could have both been in the final three, hands down. They were both challenge beasts, both outsiders for the entire game. Aurora’s ultimate demise was not forming an alliance with Rick Devens when she needed it the most. She hyper-focused on working against Devens so hard she lost sight of what really mattered: the final 3.

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Victoria “Beanie” Baamonde was a quiet player compared to what I initially thought about her from the first episode. She played a pretty passive game compared to her bold statement she provided to CBS stating “I am and always have been a hustler.” I wanted to see Vic manipulate Gavin and Julie in her favor. She is a strategic player. Calculated. Vic’s ultimate demise was being too passive in situations where she needed to be controlling, manipulate, and daring.  She has the balls for it but wasn’t able to fabricate a perfect scenario to execute a plan. And also, whatever casting director that made her wear a wool beanie in Fiji needs to be fired immediately.

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Lauren O’Connell’s ultimate demise was playing her idol for Chris. Here’s my problem with Lauren: for a girl who boasts of being an athlete, other females kicked her butt in challenges. Lauren needed to win more immunity necklaces and establish herself as more than a goat along for the ride. Lauren kid in Kelly’s shadows until she was gone! Nobody was intimidated by her because she was easily dispensible once her posse (Wentworth and Wardog) were eliminated. Lauren needed to play her idol at the perfect time, and unfortunately, she felt too comfortable playing it for someone who wasn’t a true alliance.

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Fighting the Negativity

Oh my God- she is SO dumb! (side eye at another coworker).

I saw him leave at 3:30… He must not be committed to his job! (motions to Social Studies classroom).

She showed up 5 minutes late to the meeting – how disrespectful! (text sent during a staff meeting to the woman sitting directly next to you). 

(Through bites of leftover tacos from the night before) He is such a jackass! (Flips him off as he is exiting the staff lounge)

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you must be a teacher. A staff lounge is a scary place filled with moldy, mystery refrigerator items that no one claims all year, decorations that are collecting dust, and coffee mugs that date back farther than the school itself.

I am not the type of person that can live and thrive in negativity. I cannot bear to swim in it all day long! Too many sad or horrible things happen to us or to “our kids” throughout the school day to even put one ounce of extra effort into being negative. I have decided to cultivate a business-like relationship with my coworkers. I don’t want friends – I want reliable staff who has my back and has the students’ backs.

Here is what I have found works with these toxic or negative workspaces:

1.) Straight up avoid

We teach our kids to face their problems with bravery, but when it comes to negative nelly’s, I straight-up avoid those people. If they eat my lunch shift, looks like I’m eating alone. I would rather isolate myself than partake in a toxic school culture that breeds bad bacteria that erodes the integrity of our staff. Be like Ron. Think: WWRSD? What Would Ron Swanson Do?

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2.) If a conversation takes a turn for the worse, don’t say anything and start playing on your phone

Even if you are mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, it’s better than being “the middle man”. This works only if you are in a group of more than 3 people because the negative nelly can turn their frustration on the others in the vicinity of their rath. This method does NOT work in smaller crowds because you will become the person they vomit their words at!

3.) If you are somehow roped into a “shit-talk” conversation, I like to pull the “Smile and wave, boys” move

If this move is performed correctly, the assailant will eventually grow tired and venture off to find someone who will fuel their rage fire. Just continue nodding your head without using words. Maybe throw in an “mmhmm” every once in a while to trick your predator into thinking you are listening.

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4.) If you are in a staff meeting and seemingly trapped with that one old guy who seems to question and hate everything developed within the last century, leave to “use the restroom”. Fake an emergency call. GET OUT! 

Don’t even play with me – you know exactly what kind of guy I’m talking about. Usually, his name is “Matt” or “Martin”. Excuse yourself by whatever means necessary! Oh, your grandmother just died? Better go! You suddenly have the urge to use the restroom. You need to take an important call from your lawyer. ANYTHING.

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5.) Tell your administration.

I’ve never had to use this one because I am SO GOOD at number one. But, if you can’t control your circumstances, tell someone in charge. And if your administration is negative too, at least you tried! At the end of the day, you can have dignity and pride in knowing you are a good person trying the best you can.

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Good luck and Happy Hunger Games! May the avoidance odds be ever in your favor!