I owe an apology to anyone who asked about my first day of school. There is a very good chance I replied, “It was good,” and I didn’t mean to be rude. Here’s the thing, it was good. I can’t think of a way it could have gone better and still I don’t really want to talk about it.
I am writing this post at 4:33 am. I’ve been awake since 4:00. You see, I went to sleep at 9:00 pm last night because I am so emotionally exhausted. I am in the midst of figuring out how to live near one of my closest friends while still being me, I am watching tear gas being thrown at children, and yesterday I taught a class of 40. It is too soon in the school year to feel the way I am feeling.
So here’s where I’m at: I’m good. Assume if nothing else, that the children are amazing and I love them. Assume that I am happy for every minute they are in my classroom. Assume that if I am doing a bad job keeping in touch that I am watching twitter and hoping for other children to get to go to school soon. Assume that I miss you but I have to figure out how to have a life here in San Diego before I can jump back into my digital ones. And assume I miss you, cause I do.
Near the end of last school year the 11th and 12th grade advisors sat in a circle to talk about relationships. Our goal was to make sure that every student had a person on campus that was their person. Then the conversation shifted to bigger things and to littler things, some as big as what to do with students who couldn’t cut it and some as small as dress code. When I got a chance to speak I said this,
“I think with all this stuff the students are just looking for adults to talk to. They are looking to have important conversations with us and we are not giving them the space.”
I would like to tell you that this became something but the truth is that I was quickly and very rudely shut down with the phrase, “I think we are getting off topic here,” said by the person leading the discussion.
I start at a new school tomorrow. A school that spend the first four days, not on curriculum, but on building relationships and creating intentional community. I am really excited to be a part of this.
This is also a school where I don’t have any status or reputation yet. A school where I have few, if any, relationships. A school where I don’t know how aware my students are of the world. A school where I don’t know the place to bring up Mike Brown.
I wish I could say that I was going to find it, that I was going to make this important piece of the world known to them*, let them live with it, and be there together as it happens but I am probably not. I will keep discussing this with you, on twitter, and with my former students. I will keep trying to be a safe space. I will keep all of this and his family in my heart.
I want you to know that I am disappointed in myself but that I am not perfect Social-Justice-Safe-Space-Maker all the time. Sometimes I am a new teacher at a new school working to find her own place. Sometimes I work inside a system I am not yet sure of.
My best friend Katie and I play a mean game of “Would You Rather?” (To be honest it’s mostly Katie with her insane imagination but I am there and I play.) From the hard hitting: Would you rather marry a magician who was constantly doing tricks or marry a chronic nose-picker? To the deep life questions: Would you rather wake up one morning and not remember the last 24 hours at all or wake up and realize you just spent the last 24 hours naked? Like you lived your normal like but you were naked. This game has become a staple of our friendship and aides in our endless ability to entertain each other.
For the record, I would chose naked. I could not handle the not knowing. I need that control over my own life. Except for today. Today I would rather not know.
Would you rather take a genetic test to find out if you carry a gene mutation with an 85% chance of causing breast cancer OR, just, not?
We are pretty sure my father’s family is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and we know his mother died of breast cancer at age 55. Which means nothing or it could mean nothing. It could mean that I am not one of the 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews that carry that BRCA mutation (as compared to 1 in 800 in the general population). It could mean because my paternal aunts and cousins are fine that we don’t carry it and my Bubby got sporadic breast cancer.
Sporadic breast cancer is a term I learned today from my packet entitled “Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome: A Patient’s Guide to risk assessment.” It is a terrifying packet handed to me by my OBGYN while I wasn’t wearing any pants. I add this because the indignity of being told you should probably get tested for a gene mutation that almost guarantees you cancer while half naked cannot be overlooked.
One of the most interesting things about this whole day was the assumption everyone I told had that I would be tested. There was no “Would you rather?”. Just a simple “You should do this.”. I’m not saying I don’t want to know, again, I chose naked but I almost wish it hadn’t been proposed because now it’s an entirely different game:
Would you rather be at risk for breast cancer your whole life or reduce that risk 90% by double mastectomy?
Would you rather have children or reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 60% and take oral contraceptives for the rest of your life?
Would you rather get tested for a gene mutation or just be 28?
*this post reflects my day and the information given to me by my doctor in my packet. This is not medical advice or anything else. Please be kind in comments, it's been a day.
I’ve sad this before but I want to repeat it, I don’t have serious body issues. But I will say that in the past three years I have put on weight and don’t love my body every single moment of every single day. So when I watched the following clip I totally 100% felt it. This makes a ton of sense to me.
This may well be my last #MTBoS30 post and I’m giving myself permission for that. It may also not, maybe I’ll be motivated again tomorrow but right now I’m gonna focus on cleaning my apartment and packing.
Did I tell you guys that it is the bicentennial here at my school? Well it is! This weekend is a huge party and our school will be full of super awesome alum and well I will be tech supporting all day through a variety of cool panels and things. There is also a huge tent.
Here is me inside the tent for scale.
I’m 5’4″. How big is the tent? What other info do you need?
“Three years ago my brother was shot and killed out side our gate.”
This was how a student at my school started her morning reports speech on Monday. She went on to talk about the things she now valued and how she showed her values and it was a moving and deeply felt speech.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about my brother. Then when it came to writing today I decided I should tell you about him. Also, cause I think he’s the best person I know.
My brother is a special ed teacher at a full inclusion school. The children and adults on campus are ridiculously impressed with him. It’s pretty unsurprising to me because I know just how smart and hard-working he is.
There are a lot of things I like (comic books, movies, and others) just because my brother liked them as a child and I wanted to be like him. Probably cause he’s so cool.
He is patient in a way that baffles me (with everyone except me) and that translates to his job being exactly right for him and him being exactly right for the kids.
I’m really lucky in a lot of ways. My family is really functional and my brother is one of my best friends (whether he wants to be or not). Other people talk about fighting with their siblings and in general we don’t. I mean, there was that one time he punched me but I’m pretty sure I started it.
Anyway, I don’t know what the eff sibling’s day is but today is my-brother-is-the-best day.