35th Birthday Reflection

I don’t really like to make a big deal about my birthday. I’m not big on receiving gifts and I definitely don’t like big gatherings of people, especially if they are gathering to focus on me. So, I was trying to figure out how to acknowledge my birthday in a way that felt meaningful to me. Birthday’s always struck me as a good time to both reflect on my past as well as consider the future I’m working towards. Thus, my personal birthday tradition: a yearly blog post wherein I reflect on my last year, anticipate my coming year, and try to contextualize it within the larger arc of my whole life.

Right off the bat, it’s interesting to me that it’s taken me 35 years to think about what I actually want out of my birthday.

During my 35th year, over 3 million people in the world died from COVID-19. Half-a-million died in the US. In just this last year, 19 unarmed black people have been killed by police. I will say their names:

Daunte Demetrius Wright

Marvin David Scott III

Patrick Lynn Warren, Sr.

Vincent “Vinny” M. Belmonte

Angelo Quinto

Andre Maurice Hill

Casey Christopher Goodson, Jr.

Angelo “AJ” Crooms

Sincere Pierce

Marcellis Stinnette

Jonathan Dwayne Price

Dijon Durand Kizzee

Rayshard Brooks

Carlos Carson

David McAtee

Tony “Tony the TIger” McDade

George Perry Floyd

Dreasjon “Sean” Reed

Michael Brent Charles Ramos

As I’m writing this, I can call to mind three mass shootings (FedEx; Bryant, TX; Boulder, CO) that have happened in just the last month. I cannot be confident I’m not missing any.

It’s already hot and dry. There was a burn advisory in effect in Lane County this last week. Already. I fear that means more fires this summer. A continuation of the blazes that devastated the Pacific Northwest last year. We’ll be more prepared this year.

It has been a lot. I do not think this next year will see fewer crises. Reflecting on my daily life, though, my privilege is undeniable. This has been one of the most content years of my life. I have found fulfillment and I’ve lived my life pretty authentically.

Working from home all year while following pandemic precautions has been the best work experience I’ve ever had. I’ve already decided that I will only be tutoring remotely from now on. Once physical distancing precautions are lifted in schools, it will make sense for me to return to on-site teaching. In the meantime, though, I’ve been able to find new and successful ways to provide remote math intervention support for students.

Cole has also been working from home and it has been wonderful to see each other throughout the day. We get to check in multiple times a day and have lunch together on a regular basis. It’s just great. I’m going to miss it when I have to leave the house for work.

All of this time in our little nest, distanced from the rest of the world, has allowed me to focus on releasing myself of other people’s expectations. So many practices and priorities that seemed indispensable turned out to be merely habit and convenience. I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s actually important to me. I’ve realized that I’m probably about 40-50% of the way through my life. That means that there are certain trajectories I just can’t solve for now.

It really settled in this year that I am small and the universe is vast and time is long. Nothing matters except what we decide matters because we’re the only ones it matters to. Perfection is not at all related to satisfaction. Productivity is *not* a moral imperative. Doing a little is always better than intending to do a lot.

Just sitting and breathing is a meaningful use of time. So, while every moment that passes is one more grain through the hourglass, not every moment that passes must be put to some use. My life feels very stable right now and I want to enjoy that.

New loves are a big reason this year has been one of my most fulfilling.

My 36th year, then, will be about enjoying and taking advantage of that stability. My goals for my next year are pretty straightforward. I want to spend more time with people because we’ll all be vaxxed. I want to finish and release the app Cole and I have been developing–it’s really close. I want to finalize the beta of the tabletop game Cole and I are developing, then we’ll put together a few beta copies to distribute to people. I want to continue to save money towards buying a place with Cole. I want to keep building my mileage and get to the point of being able to do a 10 mile run again. Nothing grandiose. Just quiet and persistent.

I’m very happy with my life right now. I feel like I’ve obtained something I’ve been striving for for many years. I’m going to allow myself to be content for a little while.

A Most Insidious Lie

That comfort in returning to depression
That at least if I’m panicking, I’m worrying about something
That pulling away from people
Gives them what they want:
Less of me.

That this internalized hatred,
This self-loathing and wish to be anyone else
Is my true self, my default outlook.

That this is somehow normal. Continue reading

Living With Myself Now

I’m in a better place than I was a month or so ago, when I last posted. That said, I think it’s important to reflect on and report what better means in reality. I’m in no way “over it” or somehow cured of the emotional and affective turbulence of depression and anxiety. In the spirit of living my life in the open, I want to share where I’m at now. This post will serve two purposes. First, to describe the reality of living with myself outside of a moment of crisis. Secondly, to use this period of up-ness to build a resource that might help me when I descend in the future.

CW/TW: descriptions of anxious and suicidal thoughts Continue reading

What the hell happened?

This last week I descended into the most severe anxiety-induced depressive episode of my life. I’ve experienced two similar, though less severe, episodes since I began teaching. As I descended, I made a life altering choice. I want to explain this period and what I was going through. My goal is those who know me a closer look at what I experienced. A secondary goal of this post is to offer solidarity and to make a space for these kinds of feelings and discussions. We don’t talk about this stuff enough, and a lot of us are suffering through feelings and impulses that we keep to ourselves.

[content warning: suicidal ideation] Continue reading

After One Trimester as a Classroom Teacher

I am officially on Winter Break. I have completed my first full trimester (plus a couple weeks) of teaching. I have had 58 student-contact days. Not only is now a good time for me to reflect and report on how it’s going, I think it’s necessary.

This is the first post I’ve published on Medium. Jump to Medium to keep reading.