Born to Burn?

I’ve been watching a lot of lectures about education lately, and there’s a common theme to answer a common question: How can I keep myself from burning out?

The answer is always a variation of “work harder” or “work smarter.”

This, I’m afraid, is simply insufficient. There is no amount of working harder or working smarter that can make the work we’re doing any less exhausting–and this applies to all areas, whether you’re a student, a teacher, healthcare provider, or something else.

So what can we do?

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Psst! Do you like music?

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted–first I got sidetracked when I was told my thesis was due earlier than anticipated (by a month! but don’t worry, I finished it–and passed my defense), and then I had to catch up on homework, and then I’ve been attending a YOGA for Youth teacher training and it’s been busy (forty hours? two weekends? check!).

Excuses, excuses, of course, but it’s my way of saying if I could have been here, sharing ideas and experiences with all of you, I would have been. =)

I’m still in a frenzied state, of course, attempting to stay on top of everything as graduation and Teach for America barrel toward me, but I want to take a quick moment to share something with you–call it my three-day-early throwback Thursday.

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The Jew Who Would’ve Been a Hindu

Let me tell you a secret: After my bar-mitzvah (the ceremonial step from childhood into adulthood for young Jewish men), I was convinced that I had learned everything Judaism had to offer. I could read Hebrew, lead the prayers; I knew Torah stories, could even offer some midrash (commentary). So, I said, my journey in Judaism is complete.

I pursued spiritual fulfillment from other traditions, and I ultimately settled into Paganism, and Wicca in particular, for about three or four years.

Then, well, then I was Jewish again. Let me explain.

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Pokemon Wednesday: This is the Best Clickbait-Inspired Title I Could Think of, and Here’s Why

I have a confession to make: I didn’t study for my algebraic topology midterm because I couldn’t stop playing Pokemon.

The truth is, for the last eighteen years (and I’m turning 27, so that’s two-thirds of my life), Pokemon has been one of the few constants from year to year: Pokemon was there when I played with my friends in Hebrew school; Pokemon was there when my parents my separated and I went back and forth between my parents houses while my mom was at school; and Pokemon was there when I began college myself and needed something, or anything, to pass the time when I wasn’t studying.

And Pokemon was also there when I should’ve been studying last week. In fact, Pokemon–in its many iterations–has been keeping me from homework for a long time.

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A Shot of Stress

As part of my Year of Re-creation, I’m embarking on a journey to reclaim stress and change how I respond to it at a physiological level. This sounds like a daunting task–I mean, seriously, changing physiology?–but it’s actually an application of the age-old adage “mind over matter”: By adopting a new stress mindset, my body will learn to react to stress in a new, more empowering manner.

So if this isn’t alchemy, I don’t know what is.

But magic or not, the first step begins now.

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Dreams and Broken Promises

A year ago I mailed our application for a fiance visa to the U.S. government. I had thought by now my fiance would be my husband, that we would we living together, figuring out how to live together, while I finished my master’s degree.

I was wrong.

We were sitting in the bus last August, shuttling from terminal one to terminal two, and we promised it would never again be a full six months apart from each other.

We were wrong.

I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to spend sixty percent of your relationship just trying to be able to live together in the same country, in the same house. But “difficult” isn’t even the right word–the paperwork is overwhelming, but after a few dozen hours of reading, it’s more time-consuming than anything else. The bulk of the process has been given to waiting, which is annoying, but you get used to it.

For a long time I was burdened by generalized anxiety disorder without diagnosis. It took three different prescription medications to make me realize what it’s like not to constantly be under high levels of physical distress. I was used to the tightness, the racing thoughts, numb to the unmanageable excess of stress I experienced.

Numb like I’ve become numb to the distance between us. Sometimes two weeks pass and we don’t say a word to each other beyond liking statuses on Facebook. We’re so accustomed to thin lines of communication that when life demands homework and research papers and teaching hours and travel times, there isn’t time left for each other.

At least if we lived in the same house, hell, even just the same timezone, the overlap in our schedules would be easier to manage. I don’t even know what it’ll feel like waking up next to him, saying goodbye before we part ways to go to work and school or whatever, without that counter in my mind ticking down and telling me I need to hold on, I can’t let him go, because there’s only a handful of days before we’re apart again.

There was a time when I thought Harel would be moving up here last August rather than me flying back from visiting him. There was a time when I thought he’d be here for New Years, or at least before classes began. There was a time I thought he’d be here by spring break, but now I’m not even sure if he’ll be here before summer begins.

But who knows, maybe I’ll be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

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Harel and I are fundraising to help cover some of the costs of his coming to the US. With my being in graduate school and the moving costs to join Teach for America later this year, the financial demands of this journey have been no small burden, and we are grateful for any support you’re able to offer.

Please make a donation and share our GoFundMe page or these TBT posts to help.

The Quest for Queer Lit

I was hanging around the guilds on HabitRPG when another user gave a heads up to queer writers: Have you heard about Strange Horizon’s “Our Queer Planet” issue?

The sci-fi e-zine is hosting a celebration of queer identity, specifically looking for “work that explores intersectional queer imaginaries and experiences around the world,” with an emphasis on stories set on Earth (timeline variable). So I looked through my past fiction, and some of my best sci-fi stories feature gay male leads or gender-non-binary aliens–but none of them take place on Earth.

So, I decided, I’ll just have to write something new.

But then, I asked myself, what’s queer literature?

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Picture Perfect

My phone is Harel’s when we’re together: He has an eye for angles and alignment more than I ever will. He snapped this picture in a plaza in Queretaro, and it’s still one of my favorite photos of all times–the color balance, the simplicity, its subtle complexity.

He also has a fondness for statuary. We once went to a natural history museum and he wandered off while I tried to read a lengthy description of Greek and Roman deities (it was in Spanish, but my familiarity with Greco-Roman mythology allowed me to piece together its meaning). By the time we drifted back together, he had taken pictures of literally every statue in the exhibition hall. Seriously. Each and every one of them.

I have a bad habit of taking too many pictures to remember something and then realizing later, as I look at my pictures, that they don’t really, can’t ever capture the moment like I had wanted them too, and instead of living it more fully, I had lost myself in the momentum of trying to catch it in pixels.

When Harel takes my camera, it’s hard to get lost in something I can’t have–somehow it frees me to be more present in the moment. And when I finally look back through my camera roll, I get to glimpse the experience through his eyes–what were the things that caught his attention, that drew his gaze, that made it memorable for him?

Even now, looking at the pictures he took for me, for us, it makes me feel closer to him.

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For the Love of Books

It’s Valentine’s Day, and since my husband-to-be and I are still some 1600 miles apart and both generally loathe the holiday anyways, I figured I’d play around with some of my other loves–such as my love of books, both writing them and reading them.

Because, honestly, who wants a box of chocolate when you can be given a book?

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TBT: A Marriage in Heaven

Lately I’ve been using Thursdays as a way to remember special moments with my fiance in our journey together toward marriage and the relationship we’ll be able to build on the other side of our immigration journey.

But tonight there’s another couple I want to remember.

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