motivation when I’m tired

(Alternatively titled: A teaching philospohy)

In trying to understand who I am as a teacher
I found a misconception I had been holding on to:
I thought the pull to teaching was math.

(And I do love math
I am grateful to have it as a partner in this endeavor
I love its definitiveness and ambiguity

Give me good pattern any day of the week and I’ll be happy
Or an algorithm
a visualization
a comparison
a mapping
a graph
a prediction
a puzzle

Math is a language where you can express
both more
and less
than you can with words.

Math carries a precision that syllables and sentences never can
Yet fails to articulate the finest points of humanness)

But to say I am tied to teaching because I love math
is a knot that will unravel under tension.
I would not have ended up here if I had not accompanied a bouquet of trans folks
On legs of their expeditions:
Through crushing expectations
Through meeting themselves
Through glimmers of expansive freedom
Through letting the world in to meet them.

I teach in order to hold a place for these gender explorers and defiers
For these norm breakers
For these students looking for someone to see them, to know them.

I stumbled into teaching with my crochet hook and calculator
with enormous and hazy and overwhelming dreams
To chip away at these walls against which my back is pressed
To exist where they said we couldn’t
To make space
for us.

Black trifold board poster with a rainbow geometric stripe from the bottom left to top right. Title in silver: lgbteacher: being out in the classroom as an act of radical honesty. 
Bottom right is a timeline with pictures. Middle contains titles with flap doors that reveal to more
final project for my first grad school class in teaching in 2019

long and short term goals and dreams

But who’s to say which is which

  • Create a math elective
  • Decorate/organize classrooms and office
  • write a play
  • create knit/crochet clothing
  • create a gender retreat or pen pal network or mentoring network or something related to giving the trans youths a place to explore gender
  • write pretty math puzzles
  • make cool escape room puzzles
  • crochet cool things
  • knit cool things/learn to knit
  • Research the crossover of fiber art and math
  • journal/post updates more consistantly
  • write poetry
  • Create art with trash
  • Learn more about 3d printing
  • Write a letter to students thanking them for being my first group I’ve thought for a full year
  • Do a workshop on gender/trans competency for faculty
  • Learn to roller skate more
  • Find a way to get back into dance

right now in Texas

powerful people 
Think that it is abuse
To let me feel free

They want our existence to be reported
Our support systems ripped out from under us

They want us gone
Because we make them question every lie they ever told themselves about how they were allowed to exist through the world

We make them confront the terrifying expanse that the universe becomes when you realize it is your right to define yourself boundlessly,
to be fully human,
fully unique and yet the same,
fully perfect
and yet never not fully a work in progress

There are people
Who Think that it is abuse
To help me feel free

But who refuse to see the enormously obvious, heart shatteringly painful reality that is
That their words rip open barely healed wounds
There will be unthinkable, unforgivable pain because of this
There will be lives broken and lost.

I want to hold a message of hope.
Of ‘we will prevail’.

But it’s hard to stay positive and be a trans person in a world where your right to exist continues to be questioned in new old ways.
I’m tired.
I’m in pain.

Required afterthought:
But we will care for eachother
And we will care for ourselves
And we will be free

holding on/letting go

I don't trust the world to hold me
my muscles remain tense, always holding myself above it 
I can’t even let the earth take my whole weight
my whole self
for fear of being too much

I mistake the feeling of muscles relaxing
of giving up control
of allowing myself to melt
for falling

version 1.1 12/27/2021
a handwritten original version of the poem, dated 5/3/2021

Afterwords: I struggle to allow other people to see me fully because I feel the tremendous weight of everything i am holding every minute of every day, and i couldn’t imagine giving someone else that weight to hold too because it is so overwhelming. but i am practicing both trusting other people to help me hold things, and also practicing sorting through all the things I’m holding and just deciding to put some stuff down. Some things I can put down until tomorrow, or next week. Some things I can put down and just leave them the heck there. Every now and then I need to do a spring cleaning of my thoughts.

Also related: the song Surface Pressure from the movie Encanto which I have listened to about 27 times today


I say I want to feel seen
But as soon as someone looks at me
• I turn away
• I avoid eye contact
• I pretend I didn’t see
Because I can’t imagine that someone would actually be looking,
And looking to pay attention.

And so, to me,
• they weren’t
• they didn’t
• they couldn’t have been

My face burns from embarrassment at the thought of being seen
or is it the embarrassment that I am enjoying it, that I crave it, that I need it?
the heat of the floodlights of someone else’s eyes ignites my cheeks
Because that’s horrendously, unreasonably, selfish to want to have my existence confirmed by a secondary party.

I need to see them seeing me,
With my own eyes,
Just to be sure.

But if they see me seeing them seeing me,
Then it all cancels out again.

my dog is anxious (and so am I)

We both:

  • are sensitive to loud sounds
  • need alone time
  • fundamentally want to be friends with people but don’t know quite how to do that
  • use medication to manage our anxiety
  • just want to protect the beings we love
  • are misunderstood and threatened by people in power
  • want to take a damn nap
  • are snuggly, if slightly awkward about it
  • sometimes are little over the top
  • get overwhelmed by new situations
  • need help re-centering ourselves
  • reduce our anxiety using exercise
  • want to be included and liked very very badly
  • feel the need to try to control stressful situations
  • have someone who we lean on when things get hard
  • lean on each other when things get hard