things my crackly joints make me think about

Subtitle: the story of how everything in my life is a metaphor for something else in my life

  • stretching joints = practicing stretching out and taking up space
  • feeling for the boundaries of safety and feeling good, listening to what my body tells me
  • you need to ease into this
  • breathing gets you through the hard part, or at least, it helps

excerpts from: Emails I’ve Sent This Week

Answering emails (particularly work emails) is one of my least favorite parts of my day. I don’t understand the level of formality or conventions. I am always afraid I am going to say something slightly wrong, or have a typo, or reply with the wrong tone. But I’m pretty proud of myself this week.

  1. My reply to asking if I would like to work on a costume in the next few weeks: “Thanks for thinking of me! I am currently stretched a little thin, and so I think I have to say no to this one sadly. But I can’t wait to see the show!”
    1. Wow did I just say no to a thing?
  2. My reply to a student (my first one ever!) asking me to write them a recommendation: “It is submitted! Good luck, and let me know what happens with this. The program looks incredible!”
  3. I asked for help!?
    1. “I was wondering if you have any advice for facing the next few weeks. I am struggling to find a way to best prepare lessons for students in school, knowing that in some of my classes as many as 1/3 of the students are out for the next week or so.”
  4. Checking in with students who were on quarantine: “I just wanted to check in and see if there is anything you need looking towards coming back to school. We have missed you!”
    1. I went back and counted, and I have 21 email conversation from students about covid from this week. Each conversation has 3-15 emails in it.
  5. I shared a puzzle I found and liked (found here): “Here is a cool puzzle thing that I found and am going to use for an opener in Geo.”
    1. These are really fun and students loved them and I am excited to do more things like this.

parenthood

to acknowledge that I want a child 
is to acknowledge that my parents wanted me 

that someone wants me
that someone thought the world would be better off with me in it
that without me, something was missing. 

and for some reason my soul has trouble accepting that. 
original scribbles

Reflecting (~7 months after originally writing this poem): i really want to be a parent someday. i want to be a soft place for a child to land when things get hard (i heard this phrase recently and its stuck in my head. it just feels nice). I want to be a safe space to be imperfect. i want the experience of parenthood. i think i would be good at it.

guiding thoughts for 2022

Alternatively titled: things learned in 2021

  • trust my note to self from a while back (see thoughts i found in my notes app while cleaning it out pt 2): “I have to consider the possibility that I have not done something wrong up to this point”
    • perhaps i need to approach this year differently than past years: I am not trying to fix all my mistakes from the year before and break all my “bad habits”. I am not trying to reset and have this finally be the year where I get everything together.
    • I don’t want to reset. I am happy where I am.
  • processing things takes time. its messy and chaotic but when the dust clears, things will feel better.
  • sharing thoughts with people i care about helps me feel closer to them. who would have guessed.
  • allow myself to rest. I need more rest than I think I do, and that’s okay.

taking care

Originally written December 25, 2021: My current style of self love, or self care, because they really are one in the same, is very sporadic. I have impressive streaks of hygiene, meeting sleep goals, and staying on top of chores. But more often I have ruts of exhaustion, of “I’ll get to that tomorrow”, of “I’ll be fine without that”. These continue until there is some impetus, something within my body that can no longer be ignored or pushed off. Often its acne, or a muscle, or a joint, or a migraine.

I am going to work on, instead, taking care of myself gently and consistently.

on being the only trans person in the room

This is a series thoughts in my attempt to process a meeting at work where we discussed trans people and students in such an abstract way that I felt invisible.


To be trans is to be traumatized. 

To come out is to choose authenticity but also to choose more trauma — not because you want it but because it is inevitable. When I am in public I am afraid of “looking too trans”. I am afraid of what people will say to me. I am afraid of what people will do to me. I am afraid that I only have myself to rely on or protect me. I feel alone.

This violence has never happened to me. But it happens to people like me, for being people like me, every day. I have accepted that I will face people who hate me before we have even met. I have accepted that because I need to in order to survive.


Part of coming out for many people is sharing your new name. Names hold power. To be trans is to take that power back. To fully attempt the human super power of self definition.

There is so much in changing a name or pronouns. 

It is not a small or a quick decision. 

It is a decision filled with anxiety and pain and stress. Asking for this change is an incredibly difficult step for a student to take. It is one that is not taken without a tremendous amount of thought and consideration. To choose to come out as trans is to choose to have to prove that you know yourself better than anyone else does, to a judge to a doctor to a school. And to have to prove that over and over and over.

And to, after all this pain and anguish and celebration of making it to the moment of living in truth, be told that the “official record” is more important than your lived experience is detrimental to someone’s sense of self and belonging. 

A document with name your parents chose before they even met you is somehow more official than one that you labored over and tested and changed and finally found something that made you feel whole. I don’t understand. 

To choose to dead name someone is to tell someone that you don’t care about the pain and trauma and bravery and hatred and joy that got them to this point. It is to say that your comfort is more important than this person’s personhood. We cannot do that to students.

deep breaths

I began to bind my chest when I was 8 years old.
I remember feeling ashamed.
I remember feeling confused.
I remember feeling helpless.

But as it became apparent that my body could not be controlled
I tried even harder to minimize the evidence.
Tight tank tops turned into layers of camisoles
which turned into layers of compression sports bras
each one a size smaller than the last.

Binding made my back ache and ribs bruise.
I couldn’t seem to take a full deep breath.
But without it
the pain was much deeper
much more all consuming.

It wasn’t until the age of 20
that I was able to breathe fully for the first time.
A deep breath filling my chest, allowing it to expand entirely.

And that takes its toll on a person.
12 years of taking shallow breaths
of holding back.
of hiding.
of monitoring every millimeter.

These full lungs make me lightheaded.
There’s too much oxygen,
Too much possibility.

bambi

Note: The following poem was written during the summer of last year, as I began to make sense of what happened during a difficult time in my high school experience. As someone who is works with teenagers, with high schoolers, I need to understand my own struggles in high school and part of that is looking at what led me to be stuck in a relationship that was detrimental to my mental health, my friendships, and my sense of self. My hope is that through open and honest processing of my past, I can find my voice for the future.

Content Warning: Abusive relationship

_________

I don’t often let people into my head.
I’m much more willing to let them into my heart, but not my head.
Things in there are so broken and disconnected. Locked behind opaque glass doors with dark silhouettes of perfume bottles and ceiling fans and cassette players behind them.

I can’t remember what happened in those movies we watched together.
But I can remember the music of the credits:
The opening music told me that I was in for the horror I did not want to see, the blood and gore and psychological torture.
But the closing music was worse. It told me that the preview was done and the real horror was coming.
The horror of manipulation and guilt and shame
Of perfect insults, seemingly harmless to anyone who might have heard
But that shattered me more each time.

She called me Bambi
Soft and sweet
Gentle and innocent
Someone to be protected

She called me Bambi
I looked like a deer in headlights, she said,
Frozen and helpless
Innocent and weak
Easily controlled.
She spit those words at me through the open door of her car as I tried to walk away
She said it mockingly as I sat back in the passenger seat.

She said it for the first time reaching to hold my hand
She said it so sweetly, pushing my hair out of my face as she complemented my big brown eyes
I had thought she meant I was pretty
Really she meant I was prey

making it back to writing

When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer. I had a full manuscript by the age of 8: a story of an evil chicken king who did karate and had to be fought by a duo of a frog and a flamingo, based off of my stuffed animals. I wrote and illustrated it, even typed it up on the computer and printed it in all its papyrus font glory.

And then I was in school where we had to write the personal narrative over and over and over until every mildly interesting story of my childhood life had been bled dry of interest. I can’t even begin to count the stories and essays I wrote about That Amazing Soccer Game or My Favorite Place.

After that, I endured the five paragraph essay: an attempt to compact the art of argument into an easily digestible form. But even then I refused to be limited. Instead of a 5 paragraph essay on the topic at hand, I wrote “the last will and testament of the 5 paragraph essay” and handed that in where I outlined the shortcomings of this type of assignment.

But then came the memoir. AP Language class my junior year with the teacher who inspired me to break out of these boundaries of writing we had been told. Who told me writing couldn’t be tested by what we produce in a 2 hour sitting.

I wish I could read what I wrote back then. That paper that I meticulously drafted and edited. I spent many pages of my notebooks on scribbles trying to get it right. Trying not to sound too flowery or embellished. Trying to be understood.

I used to keep a journal on me at all times to write out all the terrible thoughts I couldn’t get out of my head. I took what was in that notebook, I took what was happening, I took what had happened and poured it into this paper, this English class exercise of writing a memoir. I tried to wrestle with the idea of memory and what in my own brain I could trust. What could I believe when I couldn’t remember the words, but could only remember disconnecting from my body. I could only remember smells and sounds that to this day – 8 years later – still bring me back to that bed, to that car, to that living room.

And I wrote all of it, I edited it into a neat 10 page paper, attempting to reassure him that I was okay but I needed to be heard. I hadn’t told anyone of the yelling or the fear or the pain from the past year. And I trusted him. I trusted this teacher with my writing. True writing, edited down slightly, less swearing than my normal, but real. Not poking fun at the absurd assignment or attempting to have a new fresh take on some old literature. I can’t tell you why I trusted him. I guess I usually just get along well with teachers, I understand them and I felt like they understood me.

I don’t know when it was that he left. I only know we turned in this paper and a few weeks later we got comments. I cried when I read his comments. I remember he said something profound and thanked me for sharing with him.

Did I ever talk to him in person? I don’t know. I think he pulled me aside at some point to say we should sit down later. I don’t remember what he said. But I never saw him again after that.

He simply never came back into class. The rumor was that he was fired for having an affair with a previous student. I never found out more than that rumor. We were not allowed to ask questions.

And then came the endless stream of substitute teachers, mandated to stick to the AP curriculum, and the endless essays on standardized tests made my hands ache. And then college, where my first professor failed all of our first drafts of papers to “give us motivation to improve them”. And I stopped writing. I stopped writing poems for the people I fell in love with. I stopped scribbling thoughts into a haphazard assortment of journals.
Writing became something I was no longer good at. I’m terrible at academic writing, I can’t stand the stiff and emotionless lab reports and source analyses. Maybe I’m not terrible at it, but it just brings me absolutely no joy.

And now it feels like its too late to try writing again. Because I’m just a small and unqualified for everything I love. I want to be a writer or artist or mathematician or all three because really they are all the same to me but I don’t have the degrees or the college credits or experience.

But I’m still going to try.