converse

Alternatively titled: tattoo #7

i wore white converse to my high school graduation. this was against the dress code, which banned sneakers. But my high tops were clean and white, they matched the school mandated cap and gown, and i liked them.

normally, I would not be allowed to walk at graduation unless I changed my scandalous footwear. But I was giving a speech and it would have caused more disruption to prevent me from participating, and so I wore my converse.

a full body photograph of me, from my graduation cap to my sneakers made the front page of the local newspaper. school administrators were upset that I had tarnished their image. I was happy that this image actually showed an authentic version of me.

I kept and wore these same shoes again for my college graduation. They now sit on a shelf, near my diplomas, much less white and with many more rips than they did for their debut. But I will wear them again when I graduate with my masters, and any other degrees that may come after that.

and so as i wrap up year 1 of teaching, and it feels simultaneously like I am ending my own freshman and senior year of high school. I am in this place of transition out while still settling in. I am feeling rebellious, excited, frustrated, tired, and proud.

And when, this past weekend, I saw a local tattoo artist post a set of flash tattoos (drawings that they will tattoo all in one day, on a first come first serve basis), my rebellious impulsiveness took over. I submitted my interest in about 8 of the designs, and the next day found out that I would be getting this one.

this high top converse sneaker. the perfect way to wrap up a year of academic and personal accomplishment. A symbol of being here, despite the rules, and staying here to change the rules.

wrapping up year 1 of teaching

  • things that have been on my mind lately
    • i want to crochet something for students in some way but it either needs to be a very small (like 5 minutes each) type thing, or i don’t give one to everyone. perhaps only my advisees.
    • how to send off the seniors? I don’t teach any, but i know a handful from clubs and the play and such, and i would like to celebrate them
    • this department is really shifting. there is so much possibility here.
    • how are there so few weeks left. one month from now i will be done with my first full year. beginning to end with the same students.
    • grades are meant to be simple, transparent communications but also convey so much information and i dont know how to do that accurately/meaningfully (yet?)
    • there are so many things i wish i could do to wrap things up and reflect and preplan for next year because im already excited to try this dice project again. its going pretty well but there are a lot of things i would do differently the second time around and i am excited to try again!
    • a middle school art teacher in florida was fired for allowing discussion of sexuality and identity in class. i am tired. i am sad. i am anxious.
      • every week it feels like my humanity is questioned anew.

i feel quite small today

Today, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to make it illegal for doctors to proscribe gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth (18 and under).

I am grateful for what a few representatives said in the battle that ended in a vote of 66-28 in favor of this bill.

Rep. England: “You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it is about is scoring political points and using those children as collateral damage”

Rep. Rafferty: “Its totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”

I was pretty numb while I read this headline at first. A protective numbness.

I was numb until I reached this quote in the article from Rep. Wes Allen: “Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,”

When I read that, I was angry. I was frustrated by the utter stupidity of it all. I wanted to storm down to that house and explain to this man that going through puberty ~naturally~ or whatever Is A Choice, and a choice with lasting, lifelong repercussions. I want to ask why he thinks the state should be able to make this choice for children: A choice that he states will have lasting effects on their bodies.

I have been fighting my body for years, and if I had been given the option at the beginning to not have to go through that, hell yes I would have picked that.

I’m not a better person for having had two puberties. I’m just sadder.

All I want is to be able to protect those kids in Alabama. I want to protect my trans students from the ricocheting pain I am feeling after this bill. And after all the rest.

I feel quite small today.

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/07/1091510026/alabama-gender-affirming-care-trans-transgender

Focuses of the week

  1. School/Work
    1. Finalize plan for 3D print project guidelines
      1. begin trial run of it
    2. Area Unit arc + collect puzzles
    3. Brainstorm probability idea
  2. Crochet
    1. Get to yellow section of the sweater I am pattern testing
    2. finish back of sweater
  3. Self Care
    1. journal 1 sentence every day
    2. designate time to care for friendships/relationships
  4. Chores
    1. Plan yard cleanup
    1. New dog training schedule
    2. make appointments
    3. clean carpets
  5. Walking Practice: walking training season* is in full swing, and my dogs and I are working on gaining some confidence in stressful/overly exciting situations (ie. there are any bikes, other dogs, amazon delivery trucks, cars that are too loud or are going too fast, roller skates, squirrels, strollers, all the smells, etc.)
    1. Remember to STRETCH
    2. Try running a bit
    3. Coordinate 5k team for https://www.laughingatmynightmare.com/

Looking forward to:

  • Play games/do puzzles
  • cook yummy food
  • romp around outside with the dogs
  • snuggle
  • watch good tv/listen to good podcasts
  • friends who make me laugh
  • being back with students who make me laugh
  • feeling rested (pls)
  • roller blade season can start soon hopefully
  • doctors appointments to help my joints not hurt

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

Defining our purpose: the trajectory of my math department

There is a lot of discussion around what the math department at my school will look like over the coming years. I rarely contribute to the discussions, sometimes out of anxiety but mostly because I am listening to what others have to say. I want to fully understand where we stand right now and how we got there before I can begin imagining where I want us to go. Here are some things that have come up when I have been thinking about this.

I want us to be a place:

Where you problem solve and model and visualize and predict

Where you learn to communicate precisely

Where you practice seeing patterns and connections

Where you use logical and organized thinking

Where you analyze and critique the world you live in, and brainstorm solutions

Where you come out in the end fundamentally believing in your ability to struggle productively

Where you lean into the unknown and the confusing with curiosity and creativity

Where you learn to ask questions far more than you find answers

assorted thoughts from my notes app (pt. 4)

  1. quote from C: “I like having options even though I hate making decisions”
  2. reading recommendations from a friend: Heartstopper, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
  3. pretty sure this is a journaling note when I was panicking and trying to calm myself by writing down all the thoughts: “We are all just human. We are all big and little. We are universes contained within universes. Of course this is hard.”
  4. shopping list for yarn
  5. “How much corn” (thats the whole note)
  6. ideas for a review day: “Crocheting Olympics”
  7. quotes from C playing video games:
    1. “That was not very nice”
    2. “aaaauh”
  8. “I won’t let other people use gender against me”

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErY3eeRFTFg&ab_channel=DisneyMusicVEVO