This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.
It’s a logical dilemma, I told my friend Cole. We’ve been friends for over a decade–we met in an online writers forum and though we’ve never met in person, I consider Cole one of my closest friends. When you share your writing with someone, an intimacy develops that rivals romance, and Cole has not only shared but inspired my stories.
Cole is also trans, and while I was investigating transgender issues more deeply and hitting mental blocks of my own to better understand trans experiences, Cole was kind enough to let me lean into the discomfort and talk about the hard things.
Cole has also given me permission to share some of the words we exchanged, for which I’m especially grateful: Not only did their words help me understand things more deeply, they also said them far more eloquently than I ever could.
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.
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.
Today the semester began. This could mean any of the following:
(a) All my free time has suddenly vanished in a burst of nothingness.
(b) The stress I thought I knew last semester will seem like relaxing.
(c) I have to deal with people. Lots of people. All the time. Always.
Though it’s true each of the above will likely apply at some point this semester (and my restless sleep last night certainly seemed to foreshadow two of the three), it’s the third that’s got me thinking today.
Have you ever started writing with a point in mind, and noticed by the time you finished writing you’d never really gotten there? Earlier this week I wrote a post about mourning monsters–reflecting on the inspiration that childhood pastimes like Pokemon and Digimon gave me (and continue to give me)–but that hadn’t been my intent.
Not my original intent anyways.
Instead I wanted to write something wild. A story of man against nature.
Feeling that I would otherwise regret my entire life if I didn’t go, I decided this afternoon I would hit up the gym’s group fitness courses for one last time. I got dressed in my workout gear, placed a song on my tongue, and set out for AbSolution, an intense, 15-minute abdominal workout that feels like an hour. And feeling in a rather torturous mood, I decided to follow it up with 75 minutes of yoga. Delightful, but I was subsequently drenched in my own sweat.
The good thing is, this story? It’s not about that. But if I hadn’t gone out when I had, if I hadn’t bought some tea and read on my Kindle for as long as I had, if I hadn’t decided to get food in the face of a post-workout lack of appetite, I’d have missed out on not one, not two, but three random encounters.
I love music. Have I mentioned that before? It seems like no matter my mood and no matter what emotions are plaguing me, there’s a song for that. I love walking around campus with my earbuds in and my iPod on. Somehow tuning out the world to my own personal soundtrack makes the world open up: I see details I wouldn’t normally see, I get inspired in ways I wouldn’t if I just walked normally, listening to the wind.
Songs inspire me. They narrate my life. And occasionally I find a song that resonates with me so perfectly for a time I play it on repeat until the words are burned in my cochleas like the frozen waves of arctic oceans. What better way can I show my love and appreciation for these songs and the artists that made them than by writing about them?
On the one hand, 2011 was a great success. I did great in school, had lots of fun writing, finished my sixth consecutive year of NaNoWriMo, and became GTCC’s Student Government Association president. Not to mention I got to see the President of the Unites States speak in person, attend a conference on campus activities in Myrtle Beach and a conference on Jewish education in Jackson, Mississippi, and received nominations for multiple scholarships and awards.
On the other hand, after looking forward to 2011 this time last year, looking back at 2011 only shows a picture of failure.
These past four days I was attending the ISJL Education Conference, the ISJL being shorthand for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, the organization that provides Hebrew school curriculum and other services to over sixty congregations in thirteen southern states. It was a gathering of at least a hundred, if not two hundred, Jews from more cities than I’d ever heard of and it was wonderful.
We had a fellow from the ISJL who visits every few months. It’s just part of the program, you could say. One thing she told me often is that I must, that I absolutely without a doubt had to meet the ISJL staff rabbi, one Rabbi Marshal Klaven. He was unlike any other rabbi I’d ever meet, she said, and I’d like him.
I did like him. And he really was unlike any other rabbi I’d ever met.
As forewarning, I’m procrastinating on getting to the meat of this post. I took a look-see last night to start mulling over this next mishneh, and let me tell you, it was not pretty.
It was, no matter, on my mind this morning when I went to Shabbat services, which is the perfect place for this brief distraction to begin. There’s two things, really, that I’d like to mention–although with all the old faces I saw and the intriguing conversations I had this morning well into the afternoon, my inspiration for excursions is certainly not at all on the low-end, if you get what I mean.