06 April 2021

0 there is this conference

all week. 

i have paid admission. 

i have paid admission and i will not go until i am due to present at 9 am on this saturday. 

in part, because i am exhausted. how is this semester even still happening? how are we even still doing this? 

a student emails me at 4:30 am to tell me their sister was shot by her boyfriend so their going to miss class today. 

a student emails me at 5:30 pm to tell me that they have discussed with their therapist the possibility of inpatient care but they think they can power through this semester. 

in the feedback N provided on this paper i'm presenting at this conference, she suggested i talk about how language empowers us. 

reader, it does not. 

it fucking cuts us up!!!!

i say that. i do not believe it. not wholly. 

in today's live classes they were doing research. one student has been writing about ghosting but, in their essay, what they described sounded different. 

today, they found the word for it: orbiting. 

the way their face lit up on camera!!! 

the way we feel when we find the word for the experience we thought we were alone in!!!! 

it matters. 


but also jesus fucking christ. i refuse to be empowered. empowerment blows. it lets the systems and institutions off the hook. i refuse.

this paper i'm delivering is the one about kim kardashian and lost time. the one i spent the whole of the trump presidency working on. i quoted a bit of it in the post-before-the-last-post. maybe you are familiar. 

i seesaw between feeling completely alive and joyous ("delight" was the word i applied when speaking with my parents the other evening, beholding my sunset out my window) and just utterly bombed out. 

this is teaching. this is trauma. this is pandemic. this is rape. this is a whole tangled knot of things. 

so many of my students are writing about sexual violence. which means i cancelled my therapy session this week, wherein we are processing sexual violence, in order to read student essays on sexual violence. 

that isn't irony, but it's something. 

i had the thought today of what if this isn't over? what if we have to do this again in the fall? but then, last night, as i was trying to fall into what would ultimately be my second night in a row of nightmares, i had the potentially even worse thought of what if i'm expected to teach in person next year and i have to go back to not being able to hear my own students??!  

truly, there is no win. 

in my ideal world, i would continue teaching online and they would continue loving me there and i would continuing being able to hear them whilst also not having to fear for anyone's life. 

but nothing about this has ever been easy, so why would we ever expect that to change? 

they really give you so much freedom, debo says when i tell her we're moving to just one live session per week. and i realize i never told her we're actually only required to do one live session per week. 

i have been going above and beyond. 

i have been going above and beyond and yet, still, i always feel guilty. i always feel it is never enough. 

i do it because i think it genuinely makes learning easier on them. but maybe also because it makes life easier on me? as WRB said, they are the totality of our social lives right now

which is maybe 75-83% true for me. because i also have weekly union meetings and therapy and walks with K. 

in april 2015, i came to DC to do research. i stayed in a flat in capitol hill. the cherry trees were close to bloom or just past bloom. i don't know, but i took pictures of them. and i hiked across busses and trains to get out to NARA. and i viewed the collections at the LOC. (the man who raped me works at the LOC, so i will not be going there now.)

in april 2019, i came to DC for a long weekend, for a conference. i stayed in a flat in the neighborhood where i live now. i went to maybe two sessions (including my own) of the conference, in a neighborhood i later house-sat in. i made out in the street with a peruvian one street over from where i would, six months later, live. i bought sushi from the safeway where i bought that same sushi tonight. 

the whole point of this kardashian piece i should be working on right now-- the whole point of everything i write, basically-- is that we do not know what will happen next, we do not know where the story will go and, in that messiness, lay all the beauty. the horror too, but also the beauty and the beauty is what matters most. the beauty is what sustains us as we deconstruct the horror. 

last spring, i told my students how, in the fall of 1999, when i was a freshman in mississippi with no friends, after my grandmother died, i used to sit on a hill every night and watch the sun set. 

in the spring of 2015, having just written the whole of jackie's 64-years-long life in, like, ONE YEAR of mine, i wandered DC somewhat catatonic, in love with a man who did not return that love and did not respond to my letter, consumed by the fact that we will, all of us, one day die, appalled by the evils people do upon others. 

today, 80 days removed from my most recent rape, i walked in the sunshine. later, i watched claude snuggle into a stream of it.  

i've a dim awareness that i am not ok, but i will be. we will be. in the end, inevitably, even as we go forward on the road to imminent disaster, it will all of it-- all of it-- work out ok. 

there is beauty, if not in the disaster then in the mess. 

03 April 2021

0 delight

that is the word i find best describes where i am, though giddy maybe works too. 

which is not to argue that things are perfect. 

i'm recovering from a UTI. there are 85 student essays to be read. in therapy last monday, we drove the car into the burning house of what happened in college and i had a panic attack mid-session. but we are all here and we are alive and we are living in the light. 

i think i repeatedly told debo and garebear that this apartment was west-facing. i thought they knew what that meant. 

but then i never told them about how, in the semester after ruth died, i went and sat on a hill alone outside the dorm and watched the sun set every evening. 

weird that there are things i've told my students and not my parents. 

i feel like that is the one word of the day video from that dreadful spring 2020 semester that garebear didn't watch. which seems about right. 

the class the colleague attended was quite possibly the most powerful class we've ever had in that time slot. 

each class, each show, has its peak. bizarrely, the 2:10, where attendance has been totally abysmal, has had two. the first involved four students; the second involved two. 

i know that what we're doing here matters. so fucking much. even as it feels the wheels are completely coming off the bus-- for them and me. 

it's shocking that we're still even trying to do this, i said aloud to a group of 18 years olds on thursday. the three people on camera nodded their heads; two people off camera gave a thumbs up emoji. 

how is claude? they ask me. is claude ok? in their rants they ask, they tell me they were praying for him and for me. 

there's power in disclosure, in being human. vulnerability as well, but, truly, it opens you up to so, so much love. 

i don't know that it's that i feel i need to be loved by 85 18-year-olds every semester, and i'm sure there are people who don't love me but take my class because it feels easy and i'm a known quantity with nice bookshelves. 

there was a student some weeks ago who, in her rant, said "we know we're your children," and i felt that with every fiber of my being. because, while i've never wanted kids of my own, these people are my people. and i think it's important that, in writing for me, they know that. 

3 1/2 weeks. 2 1/2 maybe even, i lose track. that is what we have left. of their freshman year and, potentially, pandemic teaching. 

it's been, 10000%, the worst of times. but i'm aware a door is shutting. what we've been doing, it's not sustainable. it's special, it's necessary, and it is entirely unsustainable. 

i'll be honest, i have no fucking clue what post-pandemic teaching looks like. i feel as though i was almost built for pandemic teaching. and, also, i'm aware, that the whole rest of my career will be spend with students who have been affected by this thing we've all been through. 

but these kids, my kids of 2020 and 2021, the fucking bullshit we have endured together. they are special, these people i have never met in real life. i tell them, when you see me on campus, you have got to say hello, because you'll know me but i won't recognize you, because, so many of them, i've not seen their faces. i know how they feel about pineapple on pizza and that their friend died last month, but i do not know their face. 

i actually didn't think this post was going to be about teaching. i thought it would be about my view, about living in the light. 

about sun and sunsets and the ending of the day and waking up without bars and always looking at ankles. 

i guess the moral here is we don't truly understanding the dark until we've moved in the light, but that seems cheesy and stupid and not at all reflective of where i am. 

tomorrow is easter. i'm skipping church. because it's going to be all about sin and forgiveness, and that is not where i am. that feels very very dark right now. i do not need to hear how i have been forgiven when what happened to me was not my own sin. 

so K and i are going to go for our weekly walk, around the memorials and the mall, from the red cross to the capital. 

it's funny how you can put down such deep roots in a place without even feeling it. so much of this feels the same as what's come before-- living and renting. and yet, here i am. in a room of my own with a view. 

it is like nothing that has come before. 

we are here, claude and i, and we are ok. continually, throughout the day, following the journey of the sun, we delight in our view.