I have a student who speaks badly about women, swears when he shouldn’t, and reacts poorly to perceived criticism and the consequences of his actions.
I ask him casually in the hall how his day is going and he keeps walking without even looking in my direction. I sit down next to him in class to check in and I have to say his name half a dozen times before he begrudgingly acknowledges me. I try to have productive, relationship-building conversations, and he actively shuts me out.
Then he grabs some chalk and writes insulting messages on the chalk boards.
And then he gets pissed off and storms out when he gets in trouble.
My feelings are strong, and mixed, and I’ve yet to fully process the significance of a Trump presidency and the impact it’ll have on me, my friends, my family, and my kids.
But no matter how long my mind whirs and spits out warnings and error messages, it doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow the 45th President of the United States will take office–and whether we love him, hate him, or ignore him, that fact cannot be changed.
For the past few days I’ve felt a burning desire to spit fire and blame at my former fiance. I couldn’t explain it, and I was reeling against myself for wanting so badly to push all the blame on him. I shared these feelings with a close friend of mine, and while she could empathize, she assured me these urges were natural and that if I felt I should tell him something, then I should.
This past Wednesday, things between my fiance and me ended. Part of me had expected it, and to be brutally honest, it wasn’t the first time this year when I had thought our relationship would end, but it still pierced my heart when it finally did.
I moved quickly from injury to recovery, having already prepared a path in my mind for where I would go next, what I would begin to do as a truly single man. One friend called me to ask how I was doing, and he told me I had already grieved the loss of our engagement, that the end of our relationship was not the start of my grief, but its conclusion. And in many, many ways, he was right.
I was once told the best way to lose your job is to lie on your resume, so this weekend at the Teach for America 25th Anniversary Summit, when people asked why I chose to join the Milwaukee 2016 Corps, I couldn’t do anything but tell them the truth.
And the trust is that I didn’t choose Milwaukee at all.
I realized recently that I’ve allowed myself to stagnate. I felt somehow I had finished developing as a person–I knew I would never stop growing, but I assumed there were things I had figured out, things that were finally fixed.
Like perhaps I’m a paint by numbers, and while there were still a lot of spaces waiting to be filled in, I had the core of the picture complete. I knew who I was.
The beginning of this week brought the beginning of a new year: Rosh HaShanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, began on Monday. I had in mind a few thoughts I wanted to share, and every intention of doing so on Tuesday.
Then on a Monday a student at NC State completed suicide, and on Tuesday I had homework, and on Tuesday night I fought to finish my homework due Wednesday.
So in the midst of all these things, I never even realized I hadn’t welcomed the new year on my blog, and being on campus, in classes, the most I had been able to do to celebrate this occasion was share some apples and honey with others in the community. On Monday, a fellow math student had shared challah in the graduate lounge. That had made my day.
The truth is, death is a great occasion to think about life, and a new year is a great occasion to think about what we’re doing with our lives. So, naturally, I did.
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.