Event Horizon

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve published a post. I’ve written a couple, part of an extended metaphorical discussion of mental illness that I’ve been adding onto for maybe two months but have yet to feel like it’s “complete” enough for publishing.

Probably that doesn’t matter. I don’t need five or six or maybe seven posts on backlog, although that might not be a bad thing since school starts again in two weeks.

The truth is, I want to write meaningfully. Cheap writing isn’t my style. (Not that cheap writing doesn’t have value; it’s just not the right fit for me.) But this often means I’m struggling to find inspiration. Which is often shorthand for “my depression is making me so lethargic and lackluster that I’m not sure I could write something even if I tried” or “my anxiety is keeping me so strung up that I can’t stay still long enough to even think about writing.”

I’m a work in progress. The world is a work in progress.

So we progress.

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Making Mistakes

Today we’re learning distribution. I’ve just done a few whole-class examples and now I’ve put some practice exercises on the board.

As my students begin copying them into their notebooks (so they can show their work), I begin circulating the classroom.

My intent is clear: identify mistakes and correct them. This is important, both artificially because it’s on state exams and implicitly because the relationship between multiplication and addition that is distribution has profound impacts on number systems that underlie a plethora of physical phenomena and theoretical constructs alike.

The first few students I check in with are plowing ahead, all the way to the second question already. Then I get to one of my struggling learners. Let’s call him Joe.

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Sankalpa

O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

T. S. Eliot

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign. Secondly, a just cause. Thirdly, a rightful intention.

Thomas Aquinas

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Helen Keller

So I begin.

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The Big PVGs

Or: a response to “30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable” by Benjamin Hardy.

When I spoke to my therapist in early April, he suggested reading Hardy’s article to help me get some ideas for “what works,” you know, that post I procrastinated writing until a few days ago.

Likewise, even though I opened Hardy’s article while I was still on the phone with my therapist, and I kept it open for the next two weeks, I didn’t actually sit down to read it until two days before my next appointment–what happens, I thought, if he asks about it? (Spoiler: he didn’t.)

As I read through these 30 things that promise to make me unstoppable, I felt a plethora of feelings: some of it reminded me of what I read in The Four Desires; some of it sounded too prescriptive, like the “shoulds” that instill shame which Brene Brown warns us against; and some it made me wish for something more, like inspiration and imagination.

But part of me also realized, as I read Hardy, that it’s been a long time since I actually evaluated the big PVGs in my life: my priorities, my values, my goals.

I figured this all out, once, so I’d figured it would end there. But it never does.

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Perfect Vision

I wanted an epiphany in 2019. I wanted to have my eyes opened through the pursuit of Story. Except I don’t feel it ever happened. Maybe if I had read all the books I’d wanted, I would have reached this point… or perhaps I was counting too much on vicarious living to have my own life awakened. There is a time for reflection, for looking back, and that introspection is especially important for self-discovery–but if we spend too much time looking behind us, we’ll miss what’s in front of us–or worse, walk into unseen pitfalls.

So now is the time to set aside the unfulfilled goals of the last year and forge forward, to open my own eyes and look toward the perfection vision of new year.

Guess it’s fitting next year is 2020, isn’t it?

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Hindsight

So. It’s the end of December. The end of the year. The time I’m obligated to write about my final progress on my annual goals. It’s always bittersweet. Bitter because I so rarely do it all, and sweet because the end of the year is a symbolic severing of the threads I wove last year and the promise of freedom (to let myself down in a different way).

It’s also bittersweet in another way, a brighter way: I’ve actually gone far further than at first I’d wished to, but the shortcomings I’ve encountered leave me questioning my own values–or rather, the sincerity of my commitment to these values.

It’s a long story. Or would you be more likely to keep reading if it’s a short story?

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Make America Great Again

America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

Alexis de Tocqueville

It’s hard to say precisely the moment when America ceased being good. Some might even say she never was good–at least not wholly. Our country was built upon interracial warfare and slavery–against American natives, Africans, even the white poor.

To say any of that was ever good is shortsighted and misleading.

And yet, one can’t help but argue that America has always been great: a bastion of freedom, a new exploration of democracy on a scale that hadn’t been seen before, a righteous (but not self-righteous) country whose faith lay not in ethereal deities or divine mandates but upon the collective goodness of the people themselves. Yes, America hasn’t always met these ideals (if ever she has), but striving toward ideals is itself a a constant struggle and a constant celebration of the small victories along the way.

Yet now, amid political corruption and mass shootings, what victories remain?

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Breaking the Binary

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.

“Male or female?” The form is generic–it could be anything–but the question is as particular as it could get. Just two options. No room for black or white or grey. Just male or female. Or. The “either” is implied; the “both” is inconceivable.

For me, it doesn’t matter. I check the first box (because, after all, the male box always goes first) and carry on with my day without giving it a second thought. That’s because the sex I was assigned at birth is the sex I identify with. It’s a privilege often taken for granted, that when the doctor overseeing my birth wrote “male” on my birth certificate, it ended up describing me pretty well. Just like how the magazine printed on cheap newspaper in the checkout aisle looked at my birth date, said I’m a Gemini, and then stuck me in a box forever. Thankfully, that descriptor ended up pretty on point, too.

But all that means is I’m just one of the lucky ones.

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TERF Wars

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.

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