Tag Archives: glbt

The End and the Beginning

New Year’s Eve asks us to look back into the past year in order to assess where we’ve been, and it simultaneously begs us to look forward with hope that our future is brighter than, or at least as bright as, our past. Everybody and their brother is posting their reflections and their resolutions, so I figured why shouldn’t I. At the very least, this post will give my friends a heads up about the resolutions I’ll be breaking come January 3rd or 4th.

Obviously, if you’ve read this blog in the past year, you’ll notice that the past 365 days haven’t been a cakewalk for me. While my life has been incredibly blessed, I’ve had a really difficult time recognizing my blessings and reveling in them. My goals for this year in no particular order were:

  1. Eat paleo.
  2. Watch less TV.
  3. Exercise in a variety of ways (including swimming) while running (barefoot) a race a month.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Read more, including the Bible and Common Prayer.
  6. Play and find my inner hippie again.
  7. In short, do things which bring me joy. Relax.

Listing my goals out like that reminds me of Benjamin Franklin and his list of 13 Virtues or John and Charles Wesley’s tabulations of their moral behaviors. I suppose if I am going to list my resolutions or goals, I should keep track of how well I am doing with them in some manner. I don’t. I ate mostly paleo and lost about 50 pounds (I did gain some of that back this holiday season!). I can’t say I’ve watched less television; in fact, I may have watched more (Oh, Mariska, how you tempt me!). I did exercise a lot, but not as much as I would have liked. I finished my first triathlon, so that’s pretty decent. I totally left out meditation and prayer for a good portion of the year. I felt so disconnected, and I am not sure whether my lack of meditation caused the disconnection, or if I didn’t meditate because I felt disconnected. Either way, I didn’t spend enough time alone with my thoughts and God. I read a lot more, but not the specific texts I mentioned I would focus on. I played more, and playing was lovely. I did things which should have brought me joy, but they didn’t always. Instead I feel as if I just focused on the negative, even when I swore I would focus on the positives. I’m a realist; it’s difficult for me to be to be positive. I am going (to try to) to fix that this year. #PollyAnna2012 will become #joyful or #merrymaking or #radicaljoy for this year.

In short, I want this year to bring less of this:


And much, much more of this:


Speaking of this year, here are my goals in order of their current importance to me and my mental and physical well being:

  1. CULTIVATE JOY: Do things which me bring me joy. Embrace the random. Enjoy the mediocre. Don’t stress over things I can’t control. Live in the moment and revel in those I spend my time with. Put down my phone or my other distractions and really love and live the moment.
  2. CONSUME CLEANLY: Eat better food. Drink less cider and more water. Put into my belly those foods which will best fuel my body for physical activities and mental joy. I’m going to attempt to jumpstart this with a new Whole 30, beginning on January 7. I want a clean slate and a clean body for the new year.
  3. EXERCISE: Exercise in a variety of ways (including swimming) while running at least a mile a day. Finish a Half Ironman triathlon before my 39th birthday. Carpool or walk or ride my bike to work every day. Use the body and the buses for transportation as frequently as possible.
  4. BE INTENTIONAL: Watch no TV, except an occasional movie. Use social media for no more than half an hour each day. Replace the time spent on nothingness and meaningless conversation with strangers with pursuits of intellect and kinship. Meditate, pray, read, and contemplate theological and academic things. Practice silence. I also would love to finish this dissertation.
  5. PLAY: Play and find my inner hippie again. In the spring, I’ll start a disc golf club at school.
  6. STAND UP: Begin standing up against injustice in a real and tangible way. Use grace and love to resist those things which are unethical or immoral. Help the Burris GSA, Prism, to be more active and visual by bringing meaningful activities into my students’ lives.

These are my hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions for 2013. I hope to use Sunday mornings to write in this space about these goals and about current events. I will begin tomorrow morning, though it isn’t Sunday, by writing in depth about that first goal of practicing joy. Practicing joy will no doubt be my most difficult goal, but for me it is by far the most important. I can’t have another year like this year. Any suggestions you have about cultivating joy are welcome! How do you cultivate joy?

For some running inspiration, join us with this challenge:


Piano Lessons. Body Issues. Teaching. Flowers.

I started taking piano lessons at the end of August, and the lessons are going pretty well. I like to think that since I can play two chords and some melody with quarter, half, and whole notes, that I’m going to be the next Sunnyland Slim or something. I can even play with both hands at the same time, though when I have to play a half note with my right hand and a dotted half with my left hand, I get a little confused. The purpose of the piano lessons is two-fold:

(1) I want to be able to play the blues. I think in a former life I may have been African American, and the blues just feels natural to me. The blues are natural to me in much the same way as African American women’s literature feels like a comfortable, old shoe that I’ve worn and worn, which is a compliment because I feel so at home there. I feel it, like I feel the blues. I wonder sometimes if I can identify with African American texts, music, and art because of my own struggles. Though they pale in comparison, I think many GLBT concerns, pains, sadnesses, or inequalities make the bearers empathetic to the plights of others. For whatever reasons, I feel the blues, man. I feel ’em.

AND (2) I needed something to use for relaxation. I used to read for relaxation, but when reading became my livelihood, books stopped providing the same sort of haven for me as they once did. In fact, I can’t stop reading pleasurable books, like I read the books I use to make a living, and I find myself doing feminist or Marxist readings of The Little Engine that Could. Which is the opposite of relaxing. I started playing piano, so I could have something to do that wasn’t letters or pictures or anything rhetorical. Music is round notes and lines. There are few words involved and the pictures music makes in my head aren’t feminist or Marxist or any other -ist. The pictures made by music are art and equality. One day they will also be beautiful. Right now they are 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1, 2, 3 or even 1, 2 as I count the beats in a measure and lift my fingers or put them down accordingly. I have faith in future beauty.


On Monday, I plan to start a new Whole 30 and a 30 day running streak, which means I have to run at least one mile every day for 30 days. No questions asked. My goal is to run 2 miles for each weekday and 5 miles for each weekend day. I have to do soemthing, so I don’t feel like shit. I’ve returned to my pre-paleo ways, and I’ve gained five pounds. I’m at 215 pounds right now, so technically I’ve gained 10 pounds from my lowest. Admittedly, I haven’t started eating grains or most other agricultural products, but I have been drinking much too much alcohol and eating much too much ice cream. I just can’t resist a good Strongbow or Chunky Monkey. The last time I went for a run, my body felt so good afterward I am not sure why I didn’t keep up that momentum and just keep running. I felt as if I could run miles and miles! I still have a goal to run a marathon before I turn 40, which means next fall is the last chance, because I can’t run when it’s hot out.

My goal is to complete the Heritage Trail Marathon in September of 2013. I tried to run a road marathon last fall, but I failed miserably because of an asthma attack, so we’re volunteering for that same marathon this year. Once I get ready to amp my mileage back up I am going to order some Altras. (EDIT: I went ahead and ordered the Altras, so I can get a jump start on those longer runs.) They are zero-drop with a wide toe-box, but they’ll provide the cushioning I like for my feet. Because I am a big girl, the barefoot thing works for short distances and in theory—but not in practicality—for longer distances. I plan to order them as soon as I get down to 200 pounds. I keep telling myself: You started at 256.4, and you’ve made it to 205, so how hard will it be to lose 15 pounds? Damn difficult is the answer. I’m hoping that by doing a Whole 30 and running every day I can jump start the weight loss again. If not, at the very least, I’ll feel 100 times better.


School’s going well, and I love teaching American literature three times each day. We’ve covered all of the early Americans and my students took their first test today, focusing on William Bradford, Olaudah Equiano, Jonathan Edwards, and some of the important Founding Fathers. I was most frustrated during this unit because the writers we had to cut from the original syllabus were all women or poets. Grr. I should have cut Jefferson, Paine, and Henry. Doesn’t everyone know, “Give me liberty or give me death,” that we’re all created with “unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and that “these are the times that try men’s souls.” Wouldn’t an American sophomore be brain dead not to know these things? One would think they’d be familiar, right? If so, one would be oh so wrong. So, we spent a day with our three rhetoricians and their famous words.

I have been surprised about how much I’ve actually enjoyed teaching British literature, too. My students have read A Taste of Honey and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead among other things, and I’ve been impressed at their thoughtful consideration of texts that even I find challenging. We’ve discussed cultural studies, hegemony, existentialism, absurdism, Othering, and a variety of other cultural issues, and we’re only three weeks into the school year.


Finally, I have been surprised at how much I feel like I am getting done this school year. I get up early, and I work on my dissertation. I go to school on the weekends, and get every thing ready for the week. I stay after to take tickets at ball games or to work on some grading or whatnot. I use my prep periods to prep things or grade. And I have time to do other things. I feel so on top of things, and the feeling is pretty nice for a change.

Everything’s comin’ up roses. Or marigolds.

New ‘Do, Decent Breakfast, and Some Thoughts About Sexuality Which Really Have Nothing to Do With Lent

I want so badly to let my hair grow out, so I can give myself dreadlocks. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. When my hair reaches a certain length, I find myself just wanting to rip it out by the roots or to shave my head down soft like a baby’s bottom and slick, too. Today was the day when I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got out the clippers and gave myself a wide Mohawk with a DA in the back. It’s weird and different from my usual self-inflicted trim. Before I went crazy about my hair, I made myself a delicious Spring Break breakfast, which I intend to do every day before I go to school to work on grading.

Two Soft-Fried Eggs, Bacon, Strawberries, and Chai Tea with Raw Honey

Hair From Two Ways

And a Cat Who Judges Me

Note: Now for a bit more of a serious subject. This is not complete, but is just a seed for a longer, more well-developed essay.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about spirituality and sexuality, as I usually do. These two areas are important to me and intrinsically part and parcel of one another for me. In my life, they cannot be separated, nor can the soul and the body. I’m not going to get all theoretical in this post, but I do want to mention a couple of things I’ve been thinking about. I’ve heard many GLBT folks say that they knew who they were from a very young, but they just couldn’t tell anyone, they didn’t have words for it, or they were shamed into not talking about it. I’m not sure I fall into any of these categories, at least not until much later in my adolescence.

I’m not saying I couldn’t tell something wasn’t the same in me as it was in everyone else. I knew that pretty much from the get-go. But then again, I didn’t know it, too. I knew how I felt, but I didn’t know it was gay. I knew who I loved, but I didn’t have a framework for recognizing same-sex desire then, I don’t think. Looking back, I can name it for what it is. I can see how much in love I was with some of my friends. I can name my fifth and sixth grade English teacher as one of my first teacher-crushes. (Since then I’ve fallen in and out of love with too many teachers/professors to think about! Ha!) I can call my love, my desire what it is. Now. Could I then? I don’t think so, but I could feel it.

My Brother and I Digging in the Front Yard of Our New House

When I was in grade school, I knew I loved some of my friends. I knew I loved them much more or much differently than they loved me. I would share my toys, and I am pretty selfish. I would color pictures for them. I would take cookies for lunch with the sole intention of sharing them. I got jealous when they would spend time with other friends. I was heartbroken when I wasn’t invited to their slumber parties. I was devastated when one particular friend got a boyfriend and stopped playing with me on recess. I was crushed when I got in trouble for kissing another friend in kindergarten Sunday School. (Of course, the very next year, I got in trouble for kissing a boy at school. Maybe my problem wasn’t lesbianism, it was showing the kissing kind of affection!) Every adult message was telling me that the way I felt about my girl friends was wrong. Did I understand then? No. I knew my parents encouraged me to choose my own clothes, toys, books, and activities when I was at home, and I didn’t quite understand why I had to wear dresses to school sometimes when I preferred my jeans and t-shirts and tromping around in the woods. I suppose it was to make me seem more normal in the grand scheme of things, but then what’s up with this school picture? I was a butch little kid.

Somewhere Around Third or Fourth Grade

By the time I got to middle school, I was determined to be “normal,” even though I had a crew cut and relied on my FARTS University t-shirt, which I wore under most everything, to get me through the days. I think maybe why I like teaching middle school so much is because I felt so lost through most of it. I had one particular friend who was, for all intents and purposes, my “girlfriend.” I loved her, and I would keep on loving her through high school when we both had boyfriends, even becoming quite jealous when she got married and moved halfway around the world.

I had to wear this shirt under my other shirts, because it was "inappropriate."

I “went with” one boy all through middle school and into my freshman year. He was incredibly abusive and manipulative, leaving huge physical and emotional scars on my body. But I stayed with him because I had the intrinsic desire to be like what I thought everyone else was like, to be like what I thought I should. Everyone else had opposite sex significant others. Everyone else was making out in their family friends’ basement. Right, right? Eventually, during one of these “let’s play hide-n-seek so we can go lock our naked selves in your basement bedroom and make out” make out session, he forced me into having sex with him when I was just 13-years old, and I became one of many girls he date raped, or just straight up raped. The killing part of this was that he was two-years younger than I was. So much for being normal.

Looking back, I know now that my classmates weren’t all dating people of the opposite sex. I know that many of them were doing the same thing I was, putting on airs to make it through Blackford County Schools. Many of them didn’t date at all! There wasn’t room for people like us in that place at that time, so we played the game. It wasn’t that there wasn’t language for who we are. There was: fags, faggots, sissies, butches, dykes, unnatural, sinners, queers, homos, queerbates, gaywads, ACDC, swing both ways, and all sorts of other language that served to normalize us. Apparently, The Crying Game and Boy George made no impact on the small minds of Blackford residents. It wasn’t that we couldn’t talk about it, but we certainly couldn’t fathom our sexualities as positive, healthy expressions of love. And, of course, why would anyone bring on that ridicule by naming who they are?

I won’t say that growing up was particularly difficult for me, like I am sure it was with many of my friends and like it is for many kids now. I felt a sense of security in myself and my identity as a jock, artist, and nerd. I just threw myself into one of my acceptable identities, and I always have been confident in who I am. Perhaps, too, some of the security I felt in playing a part in the “Blackford County Play” was because I couldn’t feel free to say who I was, and by not naming it, I could pretend that wasn’t who I was. Besides I had a really for real romantic relationship with a boy, a young man, a beautiful soul of a man. He was a really for real high school sweetheart, who is a subject for a way different essay than this one. So I had a thick, thick closet door to keep me safe. In the same way the closet door kept me safe, it also stifled me until I finally came out. Slowly. Inch by inch.

Softball. I played catcher, and if you don't laugh at that, it's because you don't get it.

And as I came out, I quickly learned that the most spiritual people in my life would have the strongest opinion about who I was becoming I was revealing to them. And, it even more quickly became evident that who I was revealing did not jive with who they thought I was, or should be. Never in my life have I had more Scripture thrust at me like a serrated and rusty knife than from the years of 21 to 23. I look back, and I think that Jesus must have been embarrassed. I know I was ashamed for the people who were beating me with a book I had previously loved, pouring so many teenaged years into studying it and getting to know my God. The God who had been my God through all of it and who still remains my first love.

Lent Day 2: Miseducation and Common Prayer

I’m sitting in Bracken Library, taking a break from scanning pictures into the computer for my students most recent project, and it’s a little bit eerie in here. There are probably only 25 or 30 people at the computers, if that, and it’s very quiet, even here on the first floor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the library quiet like this. Today has been strange all around, though, so I am not sure I should be surprised about the library.

Today was the last day of Istep for the 8th graders, so tomorrow we move back to doing our regular classroom stuff, instead of being broken up and spread around for testing, so my stress level will surely go back down. The students told me they thought the test was easy, which either means they did really well or really poorly. I think they were trying to tell me that, so I would feel like they had done super well. One student even said, “It’s because you taught us so well.” I have no doubts I teach well, but I will see in a few months how well they did on this stupid test, which is all that really matters now isn’t it? Two days makes or breaks a student. And his or her teacher.

Anyway, I did receive another blessing today. When I got home, I had yet another book that I purchased with my Amazon points waiting in my mailbox: The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I made the mistake of starting to read it, and now I don’t really want to do anything else. Obviously, if you clicked the link, you notice the secular nature of the text, but to me, the subject is so intimately intertwined with my spirituality, I can’t see a difference.

Church people insist that our sexuality reflects our spirituality by encouraging people to remain virgins until marriage for the sake of religious purity, so it only makes sense to me that our sexuality is somehow an act of worship. Maybe this is why I nearly weep when I find a book that speaks to my soul like this one. I keep finding myself thinking, Where was this book in 1987? My life would’ve been so different if literature like this had existed then. I might have realized at a much earlier age who I really am. I might not have been so lost for so much of adolescence. But I can’t go back, nor do I want to!

As I am reading this book it makes me think about how intricately woven we are as human beings, how delicately God put us together, but yet how hardy we are. I mean let’s face it: humans are fragile but resilient. We can crack or break, but we can take a lot of shit before we do. In a strange way, I think that’s what Lent is about. God wants us to recognize that we are fragile, but that we are designed to weather the storm, whatever that entails. Jesus wants us to follow him to that cross, where our resilience meets our obedience meets our fragility.

For the first time, today I tried to pray the various prayers throughout the day from Common Prayer, and I think it went well. I noticed that it made me think through the day about who I am in Christ. I love that the midday prayers are the same every day and I love that one of those prayers is St. Francis’s: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” And of course he goes on: “For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” How beautiful. And if we really pray it and believe it, how can we not be transformed?

Through these ritual prayers, I realized that I was more conscious on some levels about how I conducted myself in the classroom and with colleagues, but praying through the hours also drew attention to the fact that I am so far from where I want to be spiritually. However, praying so frequently and with a specific prodding to pray for others really made me think hard about those around me who need prayer, love, grace, and my action. And so I continue to learn.