Last week President Trump visited Milwaukee. In class that morning, one student said, “He’s not my president.” The timing wasn’t right to go into the nuances of that statement, to correct the fallacy that blindly believes saying “He’s not my president” excuses us of his wrongdoings (when we, the collective voting citizenry, put him there) but merely excuses his ignoring us, so my response to her was subtler.
“Whether we like him or not, he’s our president, and we should respect that.”
I refused to get religious. In fact, “refuse” is the wrong word: I keep my faith wrapped around my neck but not gurgling through my vocal cords, so I never genuinely talk about religion with my students. Perhaps, this time, I should have.
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.
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.
A little more than two years ago I wrote The Plight of Paper People, reflecting on the coming close of one chapter of life as the new pages unfolded before me. I described people as paper, able to be torn and taped back together, able to be colored upon or crumpled up and tossed aside.
The changes I spoke of looming on the horizon are all the changes that have now happened, and like those paper people, I feel torn up and taped together, stained and set aside.
There’s a man in my writing class who is perhaps one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met at N.C. State. He’s a little scruffy, has an adorable smile, and says some pretty cool things sometimes. For our second round of short stories, his protagonist was gay, and it made me think, here’s my chance to see where things could go.
So after class, I told him again how believable the character’s voice was (because honestly, it was) and then I asked, “Are you gay?”
Tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo and this is an exceptional year for me: Not only is it my sixth consecutive year competing, it’s also my third and last year as Municipal Liaison of the North Carolina Triad region (formerly the Greensboro region). I have so many exciting things I want to get done, and one of them is continuing to build upon our sense of community. I know I’ll be leaving next year for Raleigh to finish my bachelor’s degree at NC State, but I want to leave our region thriving and strong.
Lately I’ve been in a sour mood. I’m going to be very honest and very blunt about the reasoning–and this will probably force into this mess the possibility of those I’m angry with seeing this and all that, but I’ve been clear about my anger with them already, so that’d be nothing new–and the reason is close-mindedness and intent to argue.
These both might seem patently vague, and perhaps they are, but I think both of them are cause for frustration, and unalleviated frustration does sow anger. It’s no doubt that I’m angry. I understand this. So do they.
What bothers me is the reason they cite: If I’m opposed, it’s not worth the time to talk about. Or if I’m inclined to agree, they want to play devil’s advocate.
There’s this joke that goes by saying, “Nobody’s perfect, so therefore I’m Nobody.” The pun’s cheap, the joke’s predictable, and the truth is nobody is perfect, because–as I’ve been saying for years–perfection lies in the imperfect.
So on my mind are a lot of things. I’ve been putting this post off for a while, however, because I’m not sure what to be thankful about–there really are that many options, and the things I’m currently most thankful for are among the most personal and hardest to put into words, so I’m struggling with those even though that’s what I really want to talk about.
Thursday was a great day. I gave four people tours, two in the morning and two more in the afternoon, and all of them went well. Not to mention I didn’t have calculus in the morning, so I got to study for the take home quiz I have to do this weekend, and I got out of my evening class early as well. AND I got to see a lot of friends throughout the day and the GSA went really well. So, really, it was great, and none of that’s including the greatest part of all, which once again borders on the personal and hard-to-put-into-words category.
So I’m going to be ambitious and be thankful about two things today.
Throughout my life, I was raised among the scholars, and I discovered that there is nothing more becoming a person than silence; not study, but doing mitzvot is the essence of virtue; excess in speech leads to sin.
There was a person I knew some time ago whom I was quite fond of. I enjoyed the time we spent together and always found our conversations stimulating and provocative, our words always well-chosen and intense for the occasion: We must have spoken of politics, religion, sexuality, music, art, and any other number of fascinating topics. But the moments I cherished most were not these. The moments I cherished most were those when we had no conversation, when the only thing we shared was silence.
Sages, be careful of what you say lest you be exiled by the authorities. You may be exiled to a center of heretical sects, and your students (who will follow you there) may imbibe their teaching and become apostates. You will thus be responsible for the desecration of God’s name.
This teaching, more than any other before, has required me to look at the footnotes and the dictionary. In two places here, the meaning is unclear, or if clear, not translated verbatim (though for why not, I’m not sure). The first is the mention of heretical sects, which in Hebrew plays on the common metaphor of the Torah being mayim, water. The second is the mention of becoming apostates (apostasy is a total desertion from one’s religion or principles) literally meaning “they shall die.” These two notes in tandem, we can make sense of how one can such “imbibe” their teachings and die because of it.