The Last 72 Hours

I could start with something clever, but that would involve thinking of something clever and I just don’t have the energy.

What, then, do I have?

I won’t say “inspiration” because that just feeds the bullshit that depression “fuels my art” and that I want to be depressed so that inspiration strikes.

No, what I have are words, spilling out of me like a river out of its bed in a torrential downpour. I have words that have filled me up over the past 72 hours until I was bursting at the seams and I bypassed all of the drafted blog posts to start this one because I need to chronicle this spiral for myself–and I need to leave the conclusion here as a reminder that I have gone down the rabbit hole one more time and climbed back up. Maybe re-reading this someday will help me find the ladder more quickly.

72 hours ago, Thursday afternoon and the end of my work week, I felt alright. Tired, sure, and a little defeated–that has been my general mood over the past month or so. Constant exhaustion and dejadez, which the dictionary tells me is “neglect” but that does not seem quite right. Dejadez in the sense of “whatever happens, happens;” dejadez in the sense of “I am tired of swimming so I’ll drown instead.” Dejadez because I’d given up on fighting.

And then, in the space of maybe three hours, that feeling became something else entirely.

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It’s the second day of the year.

It’s the second day of the year and, despite my best wishes and most secret hopes, 2016 has not started off very well. But as I decided yesterday, I have two big goals for myself this year: to write at least 100 words every day, and to be unapologetically myself for once in my life. So with those goals in mind, let me tell you about today. (See post tags for content/trigger warnings.)

It’s the second the day of the year and I did not go to sleep until the sun started peeking through the blinds in my bedroom, sometime after 7AM, after wrestling with my own head all night. This is not new–it has been happening for a little over a week now. The problem isn’t that I can’t sleep (although that’s not easy in this cocoon of self-loathing) but what happens when I do: vivid nightmares that are just as awful when I can’t remember them as they are when I can. Once the sun is out, the world seems less frightening, and sleep is slightly easier and much more inevitable. The problem, really, is that sleep is fitful and interrupted and so I end up lying in bed for entirely too long and then the day is gone–I end up venturing out of the room at some point in the late afternoon, when the sun has been chased away again. And so my sleep schedule is fucked, and the nightmares are back, and I know exactly what’s happening to me (again).

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No importa la distancia.

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I am sitting on my bedroom floor, stacking books onto a shelf while on Skype with one of my favorite people, when it hits me–in a little over an hour I will leave my apartment and drive to the airport, where I will pick up my mom and baby sister (whom I haven’t seen in two and a half years) and my grandma (whom I haven’t seen in a year). Time flies, and I’m beginning to think that time, rather than mileage, makes up the vastness of the distance between me and many people I love.

People are moving in and out of my life like the tide, and as I navigate all of those changes I realize that I have greatly underestimated the depth of some of my feelings for them, and that I have doubted the reciprocity in those relationships as I struggled with establishing my own self-worth.

All that I can do now is pray that it’s not too late, that I haven’t run out of time, that I can still say all of the things I want to say before oceans (of water but also busyness) once again separate us.

Lighting the Way

If you’re surprised that I’m blogging right now, let me tell you that no one is more surprised at this development than I am. The months of silence have encapsulated the difficulty of most of this year, which has swept past me in what seems like a tidal wave. 2015, it seems, has left with me with too many feelings and too few words–and afraid of writing something honest but inadequate or polished but insincere, I chose to write only for myself and to let the silence in this space speak for itself.

The fact is, this year has been full of darkness and turmoil for the entire world. My heart has grown heavy as I read the news, and I have ended up taking several steps back from social media to try and preserve my sanity. It has become increasingly hard to remain positive about my future and the future of our world in the face of so much horror, and so this year I wasn’t as excited for Chanukah as I normally am.

And then I had to write a d’var for my synagogue board meeting, which made me think about what Chanukah means to me this year.

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Letting the Love of Torah Lead the Way

A little over five months ago, I blogged about my decision to read the Tanakh in one year…and then promptly didn’t blog about it again because I didn’t want to admit that I’d fallen off the wagon much more quickly than I climbed onto it. I had to choose between improving my Hebrew so I could learn to chant Torah and reading Tanakh… because as much as I hate to admit it, Shabbat is the only day a week that I can shut off the world and dedicate myself to prayer, reflection, and relaxation.

But I am telling you now because somewhere between the World of Warcraft marathons and the sleeping in and the floodplains of depression, I ended up doing neither one. I withdrew from the face of God with the same shame with which I withdrew from the world in the darkest days of winter, where the cold that chilled me to my bones had nothing to do with the temperature outside… and everything to do with the fear of rising anti-Semitism around the world and the way it fueled the fire of self-hatred that I thought I had finally extinguished.

It turns out that fire only needs the slightest spark to rise again, and the World is always happy to provide you with sparks.

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Happy Day of Love & Friendship!

Today is Valentine’s Day, which most people associate with romantic love even though it’s technically a feast for one (or more) martyred saints. However, where I am from, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and friendship–a day to celebrate the awesome people in your life. That is why my Galentine’s Day hockey excursion with Maria was so fitting: I got to celebrate my love for hockey and my friendship with her!

That said, I do somewhat long for the days of couple-y Valentine’s Day, where it was el día de los enamorados and I got flowers and declarations of love. As much as I am a Valentine’s Day hater because I don’t think I need a commercialized holiday to tell my SO I love him, now that I’ve been single for a few years and I’ve gotten so busy that I schedule my friend dates weeks in advance? I can definitely see the appeal of having a day conveniently set aside for you.

So, in honor of today, I’m going to go work on my online dating profiles (I know, I know) and try to make some plans with “the potential guy” (as we’ve taken to calling him). In the meantime, here are 6 reasons why you should date the outgoing introvert (i.e. me)–and 10 things you should know before you do so.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

Thoughts on Tumblr as Social Education

If you follow my Tumblr, you know that I have a reaaaal interesting MO for it: I can legit go months without posting anything, without really reading Tumblr, but then every so often I’ll sit down and spend legit hours just catching up on people’s blogs and redoing my layout and reblogging like crazy. (Today is one of those days.) Part of it is that it can be addicting, just like World of Warcraft–so I limit my consumption to moments where I have a lot of time, like Shabbat. But part of it is also what I find most powerful about it: it is a place for millions of (often young) people to exchange ideas.

Because of this, people are recognizing the power of Tumblr. News outlets and other companies are looking to Tumblr and its uses to expand their brands. The platform is visual, and the highly social aspect of it means that it is easy for things to go viral. After all, it only takes a couple of clicks to reblog something for the world to see! But there is, of course, a flipside to this–the other reason I tend to limit my time on it. Because it is so easy for word to spread on Tumblr, hoaxes that would have previously taken months to carry out can happen in a matter of hours. For every reblog that has encouraging comments, there are often several that have negative comments. Tumblr is a great place for people fighting inequality to communicate and educate–but it is also a great place for us to be derisively labeled “social justice warriors” and even be (temporarily) threatened off the Internet.

It is that last point that is on my mind. While educators have begun looking at Tumblr as a tool, mostly to have content for their students, I believe that Tumblr’s social structure can also make it a powerful teaching tool. I’ve had several conversations with students who tell me that their understanding of privilege and feminism comes from the Internet, particularly from Tumblr–and if educators took the time to reference Tumblr, to go through it and educate themselves too, to connect with students over it? It could make class more engaging and open more doors for the difficult and often painful conversations that we have with students. (Or at least I do.) Because when exposed to other perspectives, when allowed to have relationships with people who are different from them, when empowered to see oppressed peoples as people? Our youth can do and say some really amazing things. And, while some people might say that’s not in my job description, my business card says bilingual educator on it and I don’t think that refers to just the classroom. And because, as I said in a paper I wrote for grad school recently:

[Educator] Ambrizeth Lima is quoted by Sonia Nieto (2010) as saying, “Teaching is always about power. That is why it must also be about social justice… I teach because I believe that young people have rights, including the right to their identities and their languages” (p. 237). She goes on to ask, “Is it morally right for me, as a teacher, to witness injustice toward students and remain quiet?” (ibid.). So, as much as we want to protect our students from the harsh realities of the world, to do so is, in Nieto’s own words, a disservice. In a time like today, where so many cases of racism are being brought to light, it is educators’ responsibility to make sure that they are addressing these issues in class whenever possible—and that they have prepared a safe space in their classrooms to have these difficult discussions in a respectful and productive way.

Therefore, I am committed to educating my students not only in grammar and literature and writing, but in communicating and evolving and reforming. I am preparing them for “post-secondary success,” for college and career as CPS loves to say–and none of those things happens in a vacuum. Even now, and certainly when they leave high school, students will be interacting with the real world, with people outside of themselves–and I would be remiss if my students left the classroom unprepared and unaware of the inequality and injustice that they will at times face. So my hope is that other educators will see the value in a platform like Tumblr and either integrate some of it into their classrooms or interact with students through it in order to put more messages out there that combat ignorance.

Which is making me wonder if I should be cross-posting to Tumblr when I write about these things…