Redundant Title Concerning Goals

It’s been a long minute since I’ve taken the time to truly think about my goals. For over a year, my life has consisted of headbutting deadlines vying for my attention–child interview report due Monday, grade data analysis due Tuesday, dishes in the sink reaching critical mass and are those leftovers suddenly living?–so much so that it’s seemed like my standard state of mind has been stuck on survival.

You can’t really make progress toward long-term goals if you don’t take time to think about what those goals are, and today I’m determined to do this at least once before my students return, grad school begins again, and I feel stuck in survival mode once more.

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Arrhythmia

The vigil. A self-selected showcase of sorrows and serenades. A call to action, an inactive advertisement for hearts and minds, but what about tomorrow?

I counted the seconds, 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… and told myself I would go up to talk if no one else said anything, but my feet wouldn’t move from the concrete. I looked around, somebody must say something, it can’t end without any speakers, somebody please. And I’d count again, insisting, this time would be it, but it wasn’t.

And four speakers stood before me before I finally said, this is it, I can’t wait any longer, but I didn’t know what I’d say, what could I say? I got to the mic, opened my mouth, and all the words left me. I said, I’m sorry, I took notes, and took out my phone for reference.

I decided not to come out at Institute when my CMA (corps member advisor) told us this school wasn’t particularly open and other corps members have struggled for saying too much about themselves, and I was afraid if I came out it would get in the way of building the meaningful relationships I need to be the best teacher I can be for these kids.

But when I heard about Orlando, I realized I was just trying to keep myself safe, and if I stayed safe, my students wouldn’t have the safe space they deserve. So I added a brave space slide to my introduction, affirming that everyone in this classroom is loved and embraced, and I put a brave space sign on the wall, but I never told them I’m gay. I wasn’t brave enough for that. I wasn’t ready for it. I don’t know how I’ll ever be ready–it was easier a few weeks ago, when I was engaged, there was a ring to start the conversation. Now there’s nothing. I feel invisible again.

I said I went to the TFA 25th Anniversary Summit in DC back in February and Tim’m West said in the LGBTQ affinity space that “safety is a pretty low standard to set.” And I said, safety isn’t enough anymore. Marriage equality isn’t enough if being married can get you fired, if being married can set you up for hate crimes. Marriage isn’t enough when our trans family are murdered every day. Marriage isn’t enough when HIV continues to plague our community and access to healthcare only gets harder. Marriage isn’t enough when children are unable to come out of the closet without getting kicked out of home. Marriage isn’t enough when the queer community remains one of the most racist and marginalizing communities: we cannot celebrate marriage while we still ostracize our queer peers of color, when a Latino I’m talking with tells me he’s always been attracted to white guys and can’t even identify why. Marriage isn’t enough, because there is still too much equity to be earned–equity to be fought for and won and claimed by blood, flesh, and bone.

The same blood, flesh, and bone being lowered into the ground. Their graves must not be an ending, but a beginning. We–as a community–have become complacent and complicit, perpetuating the same oppression delivered upon us. The oppressed are now the oppressors. We can blame the media for erasing the fact it was a gay nightclub, the fact that it was Latin night, the fact that trans artists were their featured performers–but until we as a community embrace them, we are no less to blame.

We can spew fire at the politicians who champion anti-LGBT legislation, who offered their hypocritical hearts and prayers in condolence and then took this tragedy as another opportunity to spin their Islamophobia and stir up the electorate. But until we open our arms to our Arab and Muslim allies and family, we are no better than any of them.

I said, as I stood before the crowd, the mic now dead, exercising my teacher voice so everyone could hear me, I said we’ve settled for safe spaces for far too long and it’s not enough–safe spaces are not enough when safe spaces are daily infiltrated and desecrated, when our brethren in blood and spirit are shot down for who they are. It could have been you. It could have been me. Safety is no longer enough.

I said thank you for attending, for coming out to reflect, but reflection alone isn’t enough. We need action. And because my CMA told me I need to practice giving clear directions, let me practice my MVP (movement, voice level, participation) statements.

We’re going to get up and with our loudest voices, we are going to make sure that everybody knows they are embraced in our community, and whenever we hear hatred or bigotry, we’re going to call it out and invite them into the conversation, because if we push them away, that conversation will never be had, and that change will never happen.

I said I didn’t feel sad when I first saw the news, because I’ve seen so many headlines about so many shootings. I said I feel desensitized, dehumanized.

Don’t make us feel this way again.

Onward, Odysseus, I am with you

My goal when the year began was to live this year with love. To live in love, to live with every action imbued with love, to draw my intentions all in line with love.

It’s an ambitious goal. It requires reflection, introspection, and mindfulness. How else will we uncover our deepest motivations? Our deepest passions? Our deepest...fears?

When I turned my compass toward love, I had no idea what sea I was sailing into.

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500

I’d like to say I’ve been thinking all day about what I would share with you. But I didn’t.

Instead I pulled myself out of bed at sunrise, walked a mile to class, and was promptly told it was cancelled. I went to my second class, finished some computer work, went to my next class (in which we discussed the sameness of donuts and coffee cups), had lunch and studied with a friend, went to a work meeting, had dinner, and went to my last class.

Then, when I got home, I balanced my check book.

It was a thoroughly typical day, but this is not a typical post.

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Choose Life

On Monday I indirectly witnessed a motorcycle accident, and it left me feeling entrenched in shock. I wrote about my experience and my loss of words, my loss of feeling, when I learned the man had not survived. Yet still I felt numb when I woke up yesterday morning, and then I wondered if I should’ve posted about it at all–here I was, turning tragedy into an opportunity to increase page views and site traffic.

But it wasn’t like that: I was relating an experience that had a profound impact on me, that had left me in a state of apprehensive uncertainty, and sharing it helped me process it. On Monday night, as I typed out the last words of my post, it came to an end only because I’d written up to the point when I sat at my computer and started writing–but the story itself was still incomplete. It ended too soon. Too abruptly.

All too much like the death I had witnessed.

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Love Bias

Some four or five months ago I wrote a post called “Lessons in Love,” but I got stuck on my conclusion and when I left it be for a few days, I came down with mono, had to drop two classes, and never touched it again.

In the meantime, my life has only continued to swell with the force of love imbuing every moment of every day with vibrancy. My poetry became richer. My love of math, somehow deeper (and more fractured the same, but that’s another story). And my commitment to and appreciation of my friends and family only blossomed beyond comprehension.

Something changed, as I wrote those words, but like the onset of an illness–the swift and unknowing inhalation of an unseen germ or two–this transformation had already begun.

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Lessons in Love

More than six months ago I wrote about a new perspective on love and fear–but I didn’t really know what I was trying to say, so I waited some time to post it, and when school started and I forgot about it, I left it alone: the thoughts, the adventure, the discovery. It sat there in wait, biding its time in a cocoon of mystery, longing for my return when the answers–like the fossilized remains of humanity’s missing link–could finally be uncovered.

Since then I’ve been blessed with challenges that I’ve overcome–and with either success or failure defined at the end, I’ve overcome them nonetheless–and I was blessed with the opportunities to learn, to serve, to experience, and more so I’ve been blessed with love, falling deeply in love with a man who is everything I could ever wish for.

So when it comes to love, I feel like I’ve finally learned a few things.

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Love in Action

I was reading these words–V’ahavta et Adonai Elohecha–and my thought-stream bifurcated, one mind reading the words while another interpreted them. This latter stream split once more, one thinking literally–You shall love the Lord your God–while the other spun off in metaphorical delight–if God exists in all persons, in all things, to love God means to love his creations–our human family and all the earth.

And it struck me in that one moment, my mind suspended on three interwoven yet competing thoughts, that all these years I have thought of love as a feeling, that all these years I have forgotten love is as much an action as fear.

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Get SMART

The year is 2014 and the day is one. I’ve spent the last few days looking back and looking forward, and I think I’ve got a handle on what I’m planning this year–but all that can wait.

I was perusing Facebook last night (so productive, I know) and reading people’s New Year resolutions, and I just couldn’t help myself: I was shaking my head in disappointment. I gave up on “resolutions” years ago when I realized the word itself implies fixing what’s broken as opposed to reaching new levels of personal growth, but even overlooking that, I found people’s plans for 2014 lack the kind of focus that’s obtainable.

Yes, yes, I’m happy you “want to be the best you can be and have a great year,” but what the hell does that mean?

Hopefully I can help you find out.

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