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.
I am fond of wit and wordplay, and I find it the greatest irony in the fact that “doping” and “dopamine” are similar only as a matter of coincidence.
I am also a fan of synecdoche, both for its sound and for its meaning and usage: the reversal of a part and its whole. (As a tangential whim, I’ve always wanted to write an adventure novel in which our young protagonists must recover the lost “Synecdo Key” to progress in their journey, but upon finding it, the key is broken, and only a single part remains…but fret not, because it can still unlock the door as though it were whole.)
So, colloquially with a hint of synecdoche, I’d like to talk about a form of dope we all do.
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.
I wish on falling stars. I make a wish at 11:11. I wish on birthday candles and math tests and every time I cross the street. But I’ve never tossed coins in a fountain to make a wish.
I like fountains, though. Harel and I had a habit of taking a picture with every fountain we passed. Then we’d taken a picture with all the fountains, so we stopped.
There was this moment, back in Queretaro just a week and a half ago, when he and I were in a museum and in the middle of its courtyard, there was this ornate fountain, its basin shaped like an eight-pointed star. I leaned over to admire the blue and white tiles inside it, for a moment thought of making a wish on those waters, but we didn’t have any coins on us. And yet, the moment lingered, drawn out, as though something were stirring, my pockets yearning for a few pesos to cast aside, the world waiting to grant our wishes.
I was out with friends watching Interstellar the other night. Afterwards we were standing around, trying to figure out the movie, some of us closer to understanding than others. I was one of these guys, trying to explain multiple dimensions to people who have never had to think outside three (and even had a hard time understanding those).
But I tried to take it further, make it clearer: dimension is not only a spatial measurement. We think of space in three dimensions: we can move forward/backward, left/right, and up/down–three measures, three dimensions. So what, they asked, is four dimensional?
It may seem like this will be a post about science, but hold on. Shortly, it won’t be.
Some things we can’t choose–our skin color, our parents, our aptitude for eyesight and how soon we need glasses, or perhaps how soon we lose our hair, or perhaps how long it takes us to remember what we were doing before we completely forget it. But some things we can choose–what we consume, how we spend our time, what we study.
This isn’t a list about choices. This is a list about all those things chosen for me–things that maybe I would’ve done differently had I the foresight to know better, the insight into my own destiny as the world shaped it for me.
Part of N.C. State’s motto is being globally engaged but locally responsive. For most students this probably remains an abstract concept, fuzzy words that don’t mean much from one day to the next, but for those in the Alternative Service Break program, it’s engrained in every trip: Not only do we have a service project in diverse parts of the world, both domestically and abroad, we also have a service project in our local community.
Last year, before my team went to Belize to build a drying rack with cacao farmers, we spent one weekend helping rebuild a house with Habitat for Humanity. The work with hammers and nails was certainly invaluable experience to get us started.
This year’s service project no doubt has prepared me just the same for Alaska.
In another universe I am not the one writing this. In another universe I am still who I am, but wholly different–the personification of another facet of myself. In another universe I am the same man but different, a secondary, tertiary–an nth degree version of myself wholly unknown yet wholly undifferentiated.
That’s a good way of saying it.
Where all these universes meet–a place in time or space, removed from either or both–there is an integral self that exists beyond all possibilities.
The act of reality forming from thought differentiates these forms, causing universal constants to slip behind subliminal ideals, each variable taking upon itself a new manifestation based upon those factors that surround it.
Today I feel undifferentiated. It’s an integral part of my identity.
I read this week’s teaching for the first time more than a month ago–and I knew I’d loathe the moment I got to it. When the week opened at a conference in DC and continued with a maddening rush to pack my room and move on campus, procrastination came easily.
But as Hillel might remind us, “If not know, when?”
So anxiously I plow forward. One last teaching to end them all.
Coffee and chocolate. For me it’s been a love/hate relationship, and yet it seems coffee and chocolate are staples of the Alternative Spring Break trip I’m going on in March. It’s a comical story–but it has grave consequences.