2016-09-03-14-02-44-2

The Sweetness of Surrender: Kauai Marathon 2016

It’s been far too long (over two weeks!) since I ran the Kauai Marathon. Life has been a hectic roller-coaster since then– one that I feel very lucky that I get to ride, and included things like a jaunt to Chicago a few days after.

I’m just getting back into the swing of my life. So, what happened a few weeks ago?


Intro

If I had to sum up my marathon experience for Kauai 2016, it would be one word: trust.

Okay, maybe two. I’d also add, “surrender” to this list.

Today, a post popped up on Facebook that reminded me that, two years ago today, I ran the Maui Marathon.

It was a big deal for me, Maui 2014, because it was my first marathon back after a 1-year hiatus from racing. After being hit by a car a few years before, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run a marathon ever again, much less at the same speed I had before.

Somehow, miraculously, I PR’d that race. I don’t think that it was any particular special training (though I had begun doing more yoga and was generally in better shape). I think that, once I decided to return to running and rebuild my running capabilities, I had no choice but to trust that my body could do this. There was no goal or time I was trying to hit, I showed up to that race with one goal: show that my body could still surprise me.

It’s fitting that I write this post today, then, because Kauai was a similar study in letting go. After years of marathon running, I am sometimes quick to get caught up in the nitty-gritty details (that I sort of nerd out on).

At the end of the day, though, being a runner and athlete are about so much more than the race or the game. We put so many hours into building these bodies to perform. At the end, all we can do is try and honor the work we have put in. We have to trust that we have the tools we need to do well already built into us. Continue reading

torres-trail-ahead

The (Un)Value of Loyalty

Recently, my kids and I have been talking a lot about Colin Kaepernick, patriotism, and what it means to be “loyal” to something.

Tomorrow, I am planning on asking them if they think loyalty is an important value. I have no doubt many of them will say yes– we’ve been raised to see “loyalty” as one of the essential “good-human” values. Gryffindors are loyal. Good people are loyal.

And I can appreciate it. I also plan to surprise them with my own belief: I don’t know that I’m sold on the value of “loyalty,” at least not as we so often see it portrayed. That may not be a popular opinion (and, in fact, I imagine I have some of my higher-ups shaking), but let me explain.

While loyalty is defined as a feeling of “allegiance,” I have often found that people assume that loyalty means putting an organization or person above all other things– including personal values.

Sure, loyalty can mean standing with someone in their hour of need, showing forgiveness or the benefit of the doubt, or helping someone out when they ask. Sometimes, though, we use “loyalty” as a tool to manipulate. We are asked to put “loyalty to the party/group/job” over one’s own beliefs. We are called on to do things because we need to show “loyalty.”

And that’s where I draw the lineThere is no organization I would lie for or to. There is no institution that I am so devoted to that I will not call it like I see it.

 

Here’s the thing: I am a firm believer that the way you show love and care is being honest and willing to critically analyze things. A misused culture of “loyalty” doesn’t necessarily lead to a supportive, collaborative environment. Instead, using loyalty as a tool to deflect criticism leads to complacency, power struggle, and a general sense of mistrust: Who is loyal to whom? Who is putting their loyalty to something above honesty? It’s not a very healthy environment to be in. It will quickly isolate people, or make people unwilling to share thoughts and opinions that could make the entire organization better;

So, I personally refuse to operate in a space where I am unable to voice my reasoned dissent. Frankly, I understand that the ability to willingly dissent based on my morals is tied to my privilege. I know that I have the socioeconomic and educational privilege to call out problems and handle myself financially if there were unfortunate or unjust ramifications from that.

Not everyone has that. Not everyone can afford to lose their job or take a pay cut or deal with what other consequences those in power like to dole out when it’s threatened. I am incredibly privileged in my ability to do so, so it would be a misuse of my privilege if I did not use it to stand with those who shared my values but could not speak up. If I don’t use my platform and the power to take a stand, then who else will?

So, if loyalty isn’t the answer, what is?

Personally, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to create cultures of belonging and trust. I attended a session on facilitating difficult conversations and building community with the amazing Ann Delehant. She shared the idea that trust is at the center of being both trustworthy and trusting. It means that not only must we be willing to be transparent and honest, but we also must be willing to trust that other people will do the same. 

While I’m not sold on the value of blind loyalty,am all for creating communities of belonging and trust. For me, that means being honest and upfront about intent, transparent about actions and mistakes, and willing to give and accept feedback to improve the overall group.

It also means coming to the table ready to listen and find solutions instead of pointing fingers and making accusations. Trust can’t be built when the person across the table already assumes that you’re lying. We can’t create

We can’t create collaborative, growing spaces if we all assume that anyone else  is against us. Trust can only happen if there’s a mutual agreement that we all want the same outcome, even if we might disagree on the “how.” If one side is being dishonest about intent or refuses to dialogue with the other, how can we move forward?

With all that, here are my cards (career wise, anyway) laid out on the table: At the end of the day, I am here to support my students. I am willing to show support, put work in, and rally behind things that I truly believe will help my kids, their communities, and the greater good of public education. If I’m asked to do something that helps those causes and doesn’t compromise my values, great! If not, then I’m not here for it and I’m not afraid to say so.

My students and the work we do in the classroom together are, ultimately at my center. To sell them or myself out would be to dishonor all the people in my life who worked hard to give me the opportunities that got me here. It would dishonor the students and families that trust me every day.

At the end of the day, all I can ask is that I did my best to be true to myself. If the answer is yes, I know I can look myself in the mirror the next day and try and teach my kids the same thing.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

I am still trying to write a thing. I don’t know how it’s going.


Here’s the thing: I like telling stories.

That doesn’t make me special. I’m a sometimes-writer and full-time English teacher. I have spent years fitting events into narrative structures: dynamic characters, dramatic tension, nuanced relationships wind through conflict and still end with a neat resolution. My world, most days, is spent somehow trying to craft something that fits into a narrative.

I thought this was just craft, something I did on paper. Then, someone noted a small, white lie in my work, saying, “You like making things fit your story.” It wasn’t mean, they were just making an observation. At that moment, it clicked.

It wasn’t mean, they were just making an observation. At that moment, it clicked.

I have been telling myself stories for years.

Nearly every relationship I’ve had is subjected to hours in the tumble-dry cycle of day-dreams. I take the smallest tidbits, find the narrative and fill it with so much hot air it floats away with the rest of my imagination.

My narrative habit has been curling its way through my brain, around my heart, and into my actions since childhood. A gossamer string, my desire to adapt my perception of reality– then manipulate that reality to my perception– has been woven into my life since long before I could understand it.

It’s in adolescent journal entries describing, in excruciating detail, the real meaning behind my crush putting his hand briefly on the back of my chair as he talked to someone else. It’s being sure that, when his “ocean blue eyes, like a stormy sea” (a line, no doubt, purloined from some bad fanfic I had read on the internet) locked with mine, it was because he was seeing something deeper in me. It’s embedded into the fabric of time I’d spend skulking around corners at school, hoping to “accidentally” run into some guy.

When, somehow, I would convince that crush to actually date me– with obvious flirtation, with praises and pretty words– I was still creating storylines for them that would, eventually, end.

Storyline: A young Mormon missionary falls in love with a Catholic girl. He proposes. She says yes. He goes on his mission and when he returns, they find a way to work through their religious issues and have a happy life.

In reality, six months after he left, the heady high of my first kiss and first love had worn off. I was sixteen when he gave me a ring. I was seventeen when I sent my missionary a Dear-John-email (we weren’t allowed to call or see them in person, or I swear I would have). He begged me to accept his God into my heart. I ignored his messages. I returned his ring. 

He’s married now, I think. He blocked me on Facebook.

I did this a few more times in high school:

Storyline: The midwestern track star who tutored me in math dates the unathletic drama kid after they meet in orchestra. Very High School Musical, before that was a thing.

He broke up with me when he realized our time was up. I threw a fit and sobbed some dramatics, though deep down I agreed.

Storyline: The fellow thespian, who I badgered to go out with me my senior year. We went to the same church, sang in choir together. It made sense.

In reality, we were both biding our time, play-acting what we thought love looked like. we fought, we made peace and we parted ways. 

This, of course, is natural for many high schoolers. As a teacher now, I see myself in so many sixteen-year-olds skulking around corners, hoping to bump into someone. 

What is more difficult to realize is that I didn’t leave the practice behind in my school like I thought I did. I see now that I have been weaving webs of stories and heartaches long past my graduation.


 

It is a weird, almost-archeological act to look back on old writing.  Yes, many of us find and keep memorabilia from past lovers (photo booth strips, ticket stubs, a napkin they wiped their mouth with after a first kiss and other moony tangibles of the like).

Words are different. Journals, emails, and even now text messages create archives that speak not just to the existence of a relationship, but our mindset while we were in the relationship. Much like past love letters my parents have, first-person stories of just how besotted (or frustrated) we have been with someone exist for years to come.

Unlike the previous generation, however, artifacts of my relationships are not hidden in a Tupperware box in my closet. They are strains of my old-self buried in my email account. They are left-over rice grains in the drafts folder of old blogs—just when I think I’ve cleaned them all up, one sticks to the bottom of my foot months later. Try as I might to delete someone (and trust me, I try), bits and pieces of past relationships are consistently available at my fingertips.

I look over old emails and the words still feel strangely foreign. The person in them doesn’t sound like me at all. Who was this “us” we created? It appears so strongly here—casual banter and mutual knowledge, names appearing as always-conjoined or pronouns notating the “we” and “us”. Don’t worry about us! We’ll meet you there.

It is strangely dissociative, and I’m filled with a sudden urge to figure out the mystery of the woman I have been these past few months who feels so distant now.

After a stable three-year relationship, I had a moving-too-fast fling. Maybe I was desperately seeking to fill the space left by my break up. Maybe I was overly romantic and allowed myself to get swept into someone else’s fantasy. Maybe I just went temporarily insane.

Some texts remain. Like the emails, I feel so removed from the woman in those words. She is more like a character in a story I have written than any semblance of my actual self.

I read the texts in her voice:

Meet you @ home in 20 min. Who was this girl who gave allowed a near-stranger to call her apartment “home”?

That’s ok, I just wanted to make sure you got home ok🙂 Who let hours-long absences go because of a breezy “I love you.”

Who was this woman, and how was she ultimately betrayed?

He once joked that at least he would be an interesting story for me to write, but he ultimately failed there too. Our relationship ended with so much banality: he cheated on me. A tale as old as time that any good writer could have seen coming from a mile away, but I was so willing to accept his stories that I completely lost myself in them.

I read the messages, and then I realize that I was also telling myself stories the entire time: that I was okay with this “relationship,” that I had been okay with the break up before it, that the two weren’t connected. Even the past emails were, in some ways, stories: I was a girl planning a to meet somewhere with a man who didn’t particularly like travel; we were breezily headed somewhere that, in fact, we were not.

These past words feel foreign because they are merely images of the character I was in that part of my story. They are no mystery at all; they are merely chapters in my life now closed. 

The question is not, though, how to move onto the next chapter. The question is how long I will be able to keep weaving stories for myself, or if I will ever pause, look around at myself and my reality, and see and accept things as they are.

Here’s the problem: I’ve been weaving stories for so long, I can’t help but wonder what that even means. Even now, as I look at what I’ve written, it’s difficult to figure out what is “truth” and what is “story-truth.” I read the words and wonder how many of the choices I’ve made in my life happened because it was what I wanted, or because that’s what I thought, as the writer, should happen next. How many plot-line roller coasters have I strapped myself into, thinking I saw denouement at the end?

Storyline: A woman sits in her apartment trying to write. She is trying to figure out how the story should end. She sits, looks at the screen, sees the blinking cursor. She knows there is no one to ask for help writing the end. She also knows that, as much as she wants to, she does not know how to end the story.

She looks at the screen. She sees the blinking cursor. She waits.

Ocean Hearted: A Poem For My Mother on Her Birthday

Ma,
I’ve been thinking a lot about what “home” means
these days. When I’m stranded between oceans in
the middle of an always-changing land mass, it’s
hard to ever feel like I’m on steady ground.

Then, I remember that perhaps I have always felt
most at home when out at sea because swimming
in the ocean of your body was my first taste of
unconditional love. You are a constellation always
in movement. From rural-island rice paddies to
smog filled metropolises across countless countries
to find home at the top of a Los Angeles hill. I know
the old house isn’t there anymore but you made sure
that we learned the secrets of hidden honeysuckle taste,
the magic of turning tiny kalamansis to sweet nectar
and the joy of turning hard rock-filled dirt into magic gardens
that stayed in our skin and under our fingernails long after
any physical foundation. You showed us that places have
magic, and knowledge, and stories. We never forgot them.

And I know, you don’t really know how to swim, but
I don’t know if you see that you are still my ocean-hearted mother.
Your love is boundless and sweeping, the
tide of your mind forever following the moon of some new
adventure, the way you will spread your waves to hold
up whatever crazy dreams we have been floating on your current.

Now, you are beginning to run and you tell people that
you are trying to become a version of me and I don’t
have a word that tells you the mix of pride, honor, joy,
love that it makes me feel, but what I’ve never
been able to tell you that the miles I have pounded
under my feet were only because I was trying to teach
my body the persistence your mind and spirit always showed us.
I am trying to be a small manifestation of your strength.
Like the roses forever in bloom around our front door, the
flowers of my triumphs are measured in your tending and work.

You are never satisfied. Not in the stereotyped tiger-mom
way, but in your unquenchable search for
joy. You are the nectarines from a tree flowering in dirt
we were told could never bear fruit. Your smile is round
and full like moon when everything is bright, glowing, and touched
with magic. You are the giggling splashes against Diamond Head beach,
you are the roaring sea sprays as you accept new lava at the
heart of a volcano, you are the calm healing of Waimanalo bay
as the wind moves through pine trees. See, as I have used the water
of this island to heal myself, I see now all I was doing was taking this place
and learning to love myself the way you love me. You love the way the ocean loves
the creatures in it: it is so encompassing that it becomes as certain as the air I breathe each day.

While we are often separated by the Pacific, I see now that, like a turtle in the sea,
I could swim anywhere and home will always been the ocean of your love.

So now, as you begin another revolution around the sun all I can do is watch
are your horizons manifest and shine light like the sea at sunrise. All I
want to do is bask in the way your make everything brighter as you
reflect the sun’s first kiss of the sky. All I can do is try and reflect the kind of
love you showed me: one that is as certain as the sunrise and that is
as big as entire ocean itself.

Beasts and Badasses

This week, Teaching Tolerance featured something I wrote about the words we use for women:

For nearly a decade, I had sought approval under different names, ones much less badass than “beast.” I reveled in being called “cute,” “small” or “too pretty” to do something. When that same coach had, earlier that month, described me as a “110-pound girl,” I basked in the glory of that diminutive for days. I would see myself in the mirror and secretly smile at having been mistaken for someone so much smaller than I actually was.

And isn’t that a problem?

If you’ve followed this blog at all (Hi, Mom!), you know that body image is something I grapple with a lot. The balance between concepts of femininity, masculinity, and what all of that means for me has always been tough. It’s difficult to not swing to either extreme.

So, I appreciate the space to keep figuring this out. Not just on my blog, but as a teacher. I guess all I hope is that my female students don’t have nearly as difficult time to balance this narrow edge.

 

 

 

 

2016-07-11 06.21.40 HDR

Lay Down Your Sword

In a series of letters to myself.


Baby,

How long do you plan to keep fighting?

I see you, shoulders hunched and brow knitted. You of the ever-muddy shoes and never-polished sword. You are a study in unnecessary persistence.

You scrutinize a face in the mirror that doesn’t always feel like your own because you’ve been running away from it for too long. You claim to have a distaste for confrontation, but you spend every day looking at your reflection to pick out which battle you will fight today. Will it be the head or the heart? Which part of your persona will you proclaim as in need of a fix? For all your cries of non-violence, you have been the most aggressive pursuer of your own perceived inner-demons.

You see yourself piecemeal, picking apart all the stories you’ve written onto your body– the shiny patches left from the times you let yourself be burnt, the scars from when you were convinced that bloodletting was the only way to heal. Like some kind of forensic gravedigger, you see the past written into your skin and try and resurrect these stories so you can carefully dissect them and look for all the clues you think led to your failure.

In each story, you are sure you are reading some kind of a map, where “x” marks some ethereal, better version of yourself. You take up your sword and try and carve out the parts of yourself you are convinced no longer serve you: the naivete, the romantic, the poet. You write and publish praise about being big-hearted only to find yourself consistently trying to scrape that heart off your sleeve, to hide it under an iron suit. You are so sure that it is so overbearing and ridiculous, no one wants to see it but you.

So instead you try and cut away the parts you are so sure no one else wants to deal with, to make space for something you hope someone else will give you. The problem is that if you keep splitting yourself into only the pieces you deem “lovable” or “acceptable” you will soon find that there is nothing left at all. 

Stop fighting, love.

We all have demons. We all want to be better. But to try and rip away the parts of yourself that someone else taught you were weak only weakens you as a whole.

Put down the sword. Take off the armor. Feel the new lightness in your body once you stopped carrying a cross only you have built and only you obliged yourself to. See the scars and let them heal back to the complete version of yourself.

Now is the time to set down the old stories; they were never maps to begin with. They are just memories. History is an important lesson, but it is no match for the beauty of the unseen horizon.

So stop fighting now. Unknit your brow. Raise your chin and look now towards that skyline. See yourself there, just as you do in the mirror: completely whole and perfect in the imperfections.

As I was editing this, this album came on. Perfect music and discussion to accompany this piece. 

image

Running Back To Myself

This last week, On Being (one of my favorite programs) featured a piece I recorded with “Creating Our Own Lives.” I’m incredibly honored. The episode is below.

This past week, as I prepare for my 10th marathon, Kauai, this being shared feels especially sweet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about strength and vulnerability this week. It’s a frequent theme in my writing.

And re-listening to this made me realize something important: the road can be a brutal place.

If my race reports have shown me anything, it’s that racing doesn’t always feel like sunshine and butterflies. Sometimes it’s hard. It’s bloody. It can make you cry. Hell, it will make you cry.

What running also taught me was the value of getting back up when we fall.

It’s something I’ve noticed before, but it was a reminder I needed this week.

Here’s the thing: the road is going to be there, regard of how we feel. Riddled with ankle-breaking potholes and unforeseen dangers, the road is always going to be there in its imperfect splendor. The only way to escape the journey is to wallow on the sidelines and give up, but I’ve never been the sitting-still kind.

So, even on the days that are hot and horrid, where I drip sweat everywhere; or the days I am running from monsters who eventually catch me, and find me sobbing on street corners; or days where the run feels like fire, and I am made of sunlight streaming the sky, the fact remains: the road needs to be run.

The only thing I control is whether I keep going or not.

I decide: do I stay down on the sidelines, or do I get up and begin the process of running back to my self? The self that is powerful, has a soul forged by the beating of sole-to-pavement, the one who has broken every barrier she placed down on herself. Do I become her again?

Then, I look down at the road, riddled with potholes but heading towards the horizon. I get up, smile, and begin the journey once more.

rocks

Intersecting Stories

There are two stories I want to tell you.

The first isn’t really a single story, but a collection of them. It’s from the first three days of my classroom, and of being in the fifth-year of my teaching.

There’s the story I want to tell you about what it felt like to hit my stride. There is a moment where body, spirit, and mind connect and there’s a momentary, explosive bloom, like watching stars explode in space— it’s not violent, but graceful.

I turned towards my students on a too-warm August morning this Monday, started talking with them and thought, Oh, this is it. This is what I’m meant to do. My chest opened and the tension of uncertainty that summer brought melted away. This is it.

There are the students, who are already making me laugh harder than I have in weeks, whose stories are already burning so brilliantly inside them that I see sparks of them a few days in. It is the pop-crack of first flame at the campfire; it is the first rumbles of thunder in the storm waiting to break for hours. It is wild and unfettered.

It is perfect.


There’s another story I could tell you.

It’s about the fact that Panic is a sneaky bitch.

I think I’ve outrun him— taken every self-care precaution, immersed myself in joyful work— or kept him at bay. I’m so sure that I can sense his arrival, I let my guard down. Oh, I know he’ll show up, but I figure I’ll hear his footsteps down the hall, see the flashes of his fingers at the corners of my mind.

So, when Panic hits on King St. late on a weekday night, on a day where, for all intents and purposes, things are fine, it’s a little jarring. Panic does all the normal things he does— squeezes my chest; makes me cry; reaches down my throat and plays my vocal chords like a harp so I make squeaky, whimpering animal noises while I try to keep him at bay. I grip the steering wheel hard and grit my teeth, trying to ride the wave of his terror out, playing the scared bystander-under-desk to his Godzilla-rage.

I finally make it home and sob in my car harder than I have in months. There is no reason to it. The detailed inventory of my life is, at least, joyful. You’re fine. You’re fine, I think to myself, desperate to use that as an anchor to some kind of rational-self.

There is no logic to it, though.  There is just loud, unabashed wailing, each cry letting some of Panic’s power out of my system. I let myself weep in hopes that the more I let this wild rumpus continue, the longer I will be free from it.

The two stories seem juxtaposing, but they are not parallel universes. They intersect within me. They are consistently warring, forcing me to walk a tight-rope, a knife’s-edge worth of stable ground amidst two worlds that, if I am not careful, could swallow me whole.

2016-08-06 18.59.55 HDR

A Letter to My Kids on my First Day

A version of this appeared in EdWeek.


8/6/16

My dears,

I’m so excited to welcome you into our classroom this year! I’m excited to get to know you or, for some of you, get re-acquainted with the wonderful humans you are becoming.

Here are three important truths I want you to know:

  1. Things are going to get real this year. I’ll be honest, we’re going to enter into some uncomfortable conversations. In some ways, that’s part of growing up. Some of you have heard me talk about this before, but I heard all kind of things about me that hurt when I was growing up— about my race, or my parents, or the way I looked.

Dealing with that stuff is part of growing up, and so we’re going to talk about why those things happen and how to deal with them. I want to make sure you leave this room as mentally prepped to know and love yourself as possible.

We also have a unique opportunity, however. Think of this: out of all the people in the world, the universe conspired to bring the group of us together in this room right now. There are a million other ways the day could have gone— you could’ve been in another class, I could’ve taken the job in San Francisco instead of here, the person next to you could have gone to another school. A million little things had to happen for us to end up in this room together. There is something awesome (in the true sense of the world), powerful, and beautiful about that if you want to see it.

And you all bring something special to this classroom. You bring stories from your life and your family’s history. You bring a set of perspectives and beliefs that, literally, no one else in the world has. You all have something special and wonderful to add to our discussion, and to not challenge, push, and learn from those unique beliefs would be criminal.

So, I’ll be honest, some of my motives are a little selfish. I want to learn from all of you as much as possible, which means we’re going to try and talk about the things that make us tick. It might get uncomfortable and we might get frustrated, but I think if we all see each other as a font of some kind of knowledge and remember that everyone has a story, we’ll be able to get through it.

  1. It is your job to ask tough questions— especially of me. I know, normally as the teacher I’m supposed to talk to you about my rules (or “norms” or “procedures” or any other of the words we use to mean “a set of behaviors I want you to follow”). Yes, to make things run smoothly and for us to get to the real work, there are some generally accepted societal norms that would be good for you to follow.

But we’re going to have some tough conversations. Here’s an important thing to know: I may not always be right. I’m only human, just like you. I’m quite a bit older than you*makes dinosaur noises*, but that doesn’t mean I always have the answer or even know more about a topic. I want you to know that you should be asking me tough questions, especially, “why?”

A few years ago, I was reading The Giver with a group of 7th graders. One of them raised their hand, and asked me a question about the book and presented me with a possible theory. Everyone looked at me, expectant that I would confirm or deny their belief. Here’s the thing: the idea had never once crossed my mind. I had never even considered the theory before! Though this student was 15 years younger than me, they had completely blown my mind about a book that I had read at least 50 times.

This is what I’m talking about: you should always share your opinions or thoughts with me, or feel free to ask me questions. We may not always see eye-to-eye, but I truly believe we’ll all be better for it.

  1. I adore the peas and carrots out of all you. Truly. I may not always show it (I am human after all), but I hope you know that I wake up every. single. morning. and feel lucky that I get to spend the day with you.

Even when we drive each other nuts. Even when I’m frustrated and tired. Even when you all don’t do your homework and I’m just like, “BUT WHY FAM?!”

Even on those days, I look up at the blue of the sky and green of Diamond Head and thank my lucky stars that you and this class are in my life.

 

So, let’s get to work.

 

With love,

 

Ms. Torres

 

2016-07-19 07.58.16 HDR

Poetical

I keep meaning to sit down and write. I have ideas. I swear! It’s just been kind of a crazy time. We get kids in a few weeks, and I’m excited to hunker down and get to work.

In the meantime, I’ve been admittedly writing poetry and fiction. Here’s a short excerpt from two poems, just to remind myself when I look back that, in these months, I was still writing.

The politics of sharing a bed is not simply about defining the boundaries of blankets.
It is the place where the intimate meets the intellectual.
Continually choosing to share space with someone,
instead of the temporary VIP invite is a difficult task.
It means seeing the other person’s body and heading not just for the destination,
but wondering at reasons why the mapmaker took this route.
It is reading the text of a mind and taking interest,
not just in the words but in the hands that wrote them.
It is knowing that beliefs come with baggage;
it is knowing the story behind the idea and caring about both.

The Politics of Sharing a Bed, 2016

Here’s the truth: I’m a storyteller.

I tell stories so I can try and make sense of myself and the world.
I teach them so that my kids can tell them, so I can better tell them myself.

And I’m terrified you’re going to ask to read some of my stories,
because I’ve written myself into some pretty dicey situations in the past.
I’ve been a storm-tossed maiden at the bow of a ship or a starry-eyed moon-catcher.
I’ve called myself warrior and flower; I’ve been betrayer and betrayed.
I’ve been beloved and beguiled and broken hearted.
In fact I had been all of things just in the five months before we met.

Storytelling, 2016