When I was in high school I remember reciting a poem that a best friend, Chelsea, wrote for a school talent show. She will forever be the prototype of an artist in my head: the poet, the painter, the conceptual powerhouse, the one who feels everything and is tortured by it. I remember little about the poem, except the subject (someone we both knew peripherally and who now has a dog and maybe a wife?), the feeling when we held hands while looking straight ahead for a verse, and the line “the lines of your face – coalesced.”

Chelsea was someone who, at 17, knew the word coalesced and used it in poetry. A word that this wordpress template identifies as misspelled. Seriously?

Anyway. Right now, I think, my world has coalesced. Is coalescing.

Lately, I will be doing something at 10am, or at 11pm, or at any other hour, and suddenly will feel vertigo. Something I will forever associate with the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Prague, and feeling disoriented with the earth because This Is The Earth. Because I Am A Being On This Earth.

Anyway. Lately I have been experiencing vertigo. And sometimes, especially as I try to fall asleep, I will take a moment and discover I am completely out of breath. I will hold my hand firmly to my chest; I will compare my heart beat to my dog’s; I will count how many beats it takes to find one that is irregular; I will swear I will quit smoking Tomorrow. My body is telling me things.

There have been times in my life where my emotions and my brain cannot compute what is happening, so my body will remind me. Like after my last break up when I could not eat for weeks that became months. Every Friday at 7am, I would sit at a check in with Hannah at our favorite local restaurant, and if the meal was more than halfway finished it was a major celebration. I lost 15 pounds, which was more than 10% of my body weight. I realized that losing weight and Being Thin equates to literally no other change in life. The models, the magazines, the self-induced pressure to be thin, are nonsense. (And still, We Want It.)

Lately, I have had no appetite. I buy sweets and get sick of them before I’m halfway through. For a woman who consistently says I don’t have a tweet tooth, I have a mouth of sweet teeth, this is not concerning but… strange. I’m not worried, because women like losing weight, but I’m curious. What the hell is going on? Why am I not interested in food at all? Why can I suddenly go from being starving, to quite seriously forcing myself to eat because even the concept of any food is nauseating?

Am I stressed out?

Am I unhappy?

Am I anxious?

I don’t feel any of these things, not cognitively. Honestly, I feel the complete opposite.

Y’all: for the first time in my entire life, I believe I am making a geographic decision based on Relationships and not My Career. I am choosing to stay in Denver. I am going to stay in Denver for the next school year. I am choosing to live in Denver without a clear job, without secure money, without an understanding of what in the fuck I am doing. But, I am completely in love with the humans I have found and discovered and allowed into my life. I am completely in love with so many things.

I have never had a best friend like Katie. Perhaps better said, I have never allowed myself to have a Best Friend like Katie. I have Shoshana, who transcends friendship into sisterhood, who’s living room I am sitting on the floor of right now, in Carrollton-but-I-claim-it-as-Dallas, Shoshana who’s baby calls me Auntie Caroline, who I adore… she is not, and never has been, a best friend. She Is My Sister.

I have other people, I have the Hannah-Sarah-KP quad group. They are best fiends. Still, it’s different.

Katie and I call each other wife. Katie is a bond and connection I can’t compare to any other thing in my life.

Once, when I was probably-maybe fifteen or sixteen, my mother looked at me and very casually and yet very seriously said, Caroline, are you gay? and I said no, and she said, Because if you are, it would be okay. And I love my mother for that. And I love whatever confidence that she gave me that made it so when middle school kids called me Dyke in the hallway I truly didn’t mind that much. Similar to how when I was sexually assaulted in the greater Little Rock area I honestly, perhaps fucked-up-ed-ly, did not even feel that traumatized. Mostly confused, a little angry, irritated. I wanted to talk about it. For some reason the way I conceptualize the world doesn’t lend itself to owning or acknowledging or Needing To Process trauma in the way I feel I’m Supposed To.

When my mom died, my sister was angry at me for not being More Sad.

How can I be torn apart about something I have no control over? I was more upset, more traumatized, more vehemently angry when I was a downright awful teacher for a year and a half plus. When I entered and could not Fix the abusive relationship I was in. Those were choices. Those were Things I Should Be Able to Control. But death? It just happened. I didn’t cause the cancer; how can I fight?

Right now, though.

Right now I haven’t been eating.

After an okay stretch of smoking Not That Much, I have been smoking More. I drink fairly often. I am traveling A Lot. Maybe this is it. This, and transition, and things on the horizon, and so much energy. And More Work. When I go to sleep two hours after my roommate and wake up an hour before her four of five work days a week, I begin to realize the things I Do To Myself. I begin to wonder who and what I am, and why.

The bottom line of this, though! The thing to say! The only reason this post is so long is that, for once, I am typing on my computer as opposed to pecking away on my phone. It might also be that I drank half a bottle of wine with Shoshana. As usual, I am traveling. I am in a new place, I am compelled to write.

The bottom line is I am in a place of so much energy my heart beat is changing. Or is going back to the uneven rhythm it holds sometimes, when life is particularly exciting. It beats ten times normal, then is syncopated once, then eight times normal, then does the down beat again. Why is it doing this?

Is it love? Is it a happiness so whole, so big, it cannot process it the same way it does other Happiness? The world has shifted. My perspective on so many things has grown and changed and morphed and been challenged.

I started writing this post because I am reading my pre-work for the TFA conference I’m attending this weekend. The DEI work is about Liberatory Consciousness and Racism and Affinity Groups and Identity Work and so many things that I cannot even read because I love them so much I can’t settle down enough to focus on the words. I am so compelled I can’t even process what’s in front of me; I’m too busy Thinking About It Already. I am Giddy. I am bursting. I am on the verge of being Utterly Fucking Exhausted because I will be waking up in less than seven hours and have slept no more than six any night this week.

I am back to the Caroline I know: the one with three jobs, and a Man-Boy-Human that causes hope and curiosity, and a Self-Proclaimed Family she loves and so many things to look forward to. I am back to the I Can’t Stop Caroline. In the midst of all this finding myself and being new and being old, I am back to the middle me. The part of Arkansas that sustained the six years, that couldn’t get enough of All The Things. Engaged. Busy. Life.



There’s a little boy, maybe 7 or 8 or 9, one seat away from me in the Memphis airport. He has no one immediately near him on any side. He’s folded into his seat, slouching so low his head can’t be seen from behind him, his legs periodically shooting out from his body as different things happen in the video game he’s playing on his iPad. Boy doesn’t stop talking. He’s a running dialogue of video game commentary that I can hear through whatever volume of Syd’s album I’m listening to in my headphones. 

For a second I was annoyed, but now I’m mostly impressed. He is incessantly rambling purely for his own entertainment and interaction with the game. It’s not an overt, attention-seeking thing; he’s just talking to air. 

This morning the best most talented kind generous Randi worked on my hair for literally hours. Cut a whole ton off, pink and dark brown and yellow blonde littering her kitchen; she dyed it three times in a row, bleach-bleach-gray, and blow dried it to make it sit just so. All while exhausted, and over worked, and filled with artistic precision. The result is that now my hair is The Fucking Shit. I just texted Katie, “This is bad for my ego.”

I’ve been mostly awkward looking for most of eternity. Part of what attracted me to Syd’s new album Fin is that I couldn’t figure out her gender from the cover (Oh look I can relate to this! Androgyny wins!) then I listened, then I read and realized her connections to The Internet and Odd Future and now I am Mostly Officially Obsessed. 

So what do Syd, this tiny super blonde child and my gray-purple haired self have in common? Some semblance of owning weirdness. Of TRUE SELF.

I love love Fucking Love my personal history and the experiences I’ve had. I love Arkansas and I love teaching and I love rural and urban communities and I love Arkansas Teacher Corps and I love Teach For America. 


Here I am, eight months into My Denver Life, and I am feeling like an entirely different human. Or rather like a peanut that has finally been unshelled: look at my insides! This is the better part! The pendulum has swung so far- from being a timid, date the same wrong for me person for years, no haircuts, work life is real life, I don’t drink I write lesson plans, I have relationships across the state that I am trying to Stay Professional for… from that to an undercut, gray hair, dating the universe, blogging all the real talk, cussing up a storm, dressing like a man or a woman, wearing lipstick, whatever. Taking A Sick Day like people do, no longer terrified of So Many Ramifications. 

I was driving today, from Little Rock to this airport, and I had a very lucid moment of feeling Not constricted, of feeling very much myself, of knowing and claiming this place but doing so without hidden fear and anxiety. 

My six years in Arkansas had me so restricted, completely of my own accord. This was my own fear of not being credible, of being too weird, of not knowing how to answer questions, of being young white privileged ignorant, of trying to be respectful of a different culture. The sum of it was being a one-dimensional version of myself. Was feeling forever that I was, wait for this really creative metaphor, an onion only pulled one layer deep. AN ONION!

Since moving to Denver, a comment I’ve consistently gotten from people who have known me for a while is, You seem so happy. And I read your blog and it seems so happy. And Denver seems to make you so happy

Then they talk to me in person and hear me say “I hate my job” – which, to be clear, isn’t true at all and deserves a lot of qualifying statements (haaay hyperbole) – and the reality is EVERYONE, YOU ARE RIGHT. I AM HAPPY. And coming back to Arkansas for this weekend trip helped me realize just how unhappy I was in that state at the end. I was filled with glee, laughing til my guts ached with my dad at a tiny diner that had both Reuben’s and Thai food. I danced for hours with a gaggle of friends that showered me with hugs and smiles. I stayed up late to paint nails and talk about boys. I locked eyes with people who have known me almost a decade, talked about life across vodka. I snuggled a beautiful new baby boy, letting him sleep on my chest. This Arkansas felt so different than the one I left – but it’s not different. I’m different. (Cue coming of age movie soundtrack- yes, I just gagged as well. I’m sorry.)

But, duh. I like to do things that stretch and pull and teach me – it’s not that I shouldn’t have gone to Arkansas. And all the people that thought I was bonkers for staying for six years, or who told me I should move to find someone to date who’s more like you or who said I needed to be anywhere else, I still politely smile through clenched teeth and secretly swirl the words fuck you deep in my tiny gray haired head because that’s not what this is about. 

I need Arkansas. I love Arkansas. But the contrast makes me understand and appreciate Denver so much more. Denver is slowly, and I am realizing more and more just how slowly, helping me learn even more about who I am and what I want and of what I am capable. 

I am leaning strongly toward staying in Denver a second year. I don’t belong in this city long term, just like I didn’t belong in Arkansas more than six years, but good god (Chance) is it perfect for Right Now. It is space, it is privileged almost 30 middle class white girl ease, it is this very new kind of confidence and unattached freedom that I don’t know if I’ve ever had. 

Right now I’m reading Toni Morrison’s Sula, and I just read this perfect quote:

I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself. 

This is not the time to feel guilty about what I’m not doing for others; it is a time to figure out the best version of myself because when I know and am that person, I will absolutely be doing good unto others. I will absolutely be radiating light and joy. And I was and am a wonderful human, I know, my gray hair tells me so, but I am more concerned and excited about the wonderful person I am perpetually on my way to being. And I’m so grateful that Denver is giving me the physical and mental space to really dig into determining what that means. 

Despite these last paragraphs, you are not reading Thought Catalogue. Just reminding you. 

So, here’s to selfishness. Here’s to TRUE SELF. Here’s to a breathless weekend (/ year / life) of love and reflection. 

Race Things

I just came across this quote in Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn, in his speech Sources of Danger to the Republic:

I admit it, I agree that it requires more talent to build a decent pig sty than to tear down a considerable palace; and yet when the ship is to be repaired, it is of some consequence to find out where the unsound timbers are, when the opening seam is where the corroded bolt is, that we put in sounder. I have been indicating where these points of unsoundness are. And I think I can leave this matter of Reconstruction to the high constructive talent of this Anglo-Saxon race. The Negro has done his part if he succeeds in pointing out the source of danger to the republic. You will have done your part when you have corrected or removed these sources of danger.

And last night I saw I Am Not Your Negro, where Baldwin looks white America in the face and says, “the question you have to ask yourself, the white population of this country has got to ask itself, is why it was necessary to have a n***** in the first place.” And I sit with my group of two Black men and one Asian woman and me and wonder how we each hear this, wonder what it means for our brains and mental health and the way we interact. I wonder about how Little has changed from the 1960s to the 20-teens. Has anything changed?

And I’m also reading The Assassination of Fred Hampton and am just getting to the place in which the lawyers are finding cracks in the lies of the FBI, working with the city of Chicago, working with informants on the ground. How Im tipping into the territory of trusting no piece of our system of government, wondering where everybody went? Did the FBI just really truly successfully remove any kind of radical equity and now we get this perpetual stale rhetoric of “colorblind” existence and swallow it the same way our country swallowed assassination after assassination on the grounds of falsified claims of violence? I’m wondering about how demonized the Panther party was, wondering about the other pieces I haven’t read, wondering how quickly I can devour More Books because I am so anxious to read more about the leaders of the Civil Rights movement in a way I haven’t yet. Fifty years later. And almost thirty years into my life, I am just seeking to learn these things. 

And with our world where it is, when the Super Bowl airs commercials defying our president’s desire for a wall, or a car company that puts a value on equal pay and Facebook erupts in applause. Seriously? Is anyone else not impressed but extremely angry that an ad positively portraying equal pay is supposed to be groundbreaking? Who narrates that commercial? A white man. Who determined that Audi will finally punlically claim gender-equal pay (claim a deliberate word choice)? A white man. 

And yesterday I attended this organizing workshop, that was packed and diverse and rich and eager, and all of these things together make me feel both:

  1. Empowered to be standing on the shoulders of giants, to be a participant in a long series of participants who work and die and bleed and read and exist for this work
  2. Defeated that this cyclical monster of racism and power and money and government is – inevitable. That while I’m “doing the work” someone else is telling a black child he will amount to nothing. And that while I am not doing the work, someone is creating a non-profit that sends thousands of students to college. 

I am just anxious. I got an invitation to join the newly re-established Denver chapter of Amnesty International. Another meeting to go to and perhaps more inspiration, or higher quality work, or a new round of networking with people. When will we Do? When will we Change? And why do I consistently say “we” instead of “I”?

Organizing Workshop

I’m leaving one of the most diverse groups I’ve sat in since arriving in Colorado. As a LEE person facilitated, two different groups held echoes: translators sharing the organizing principals to immigrant participants. 

We sat in rows packed into a room of Aurora Public Library. I didn’t know Aurora is a “refugee resettlement community” that does little to make good on this title until today. I met a black woman who runs a STEM program for girls of color. I spent half an hour after the workshop was over venting about the current state and members of Denver Public Schools central office. 

I am rejuvenated. People believe what I believe. People understand me. 

The black woman i spoke with, as we told our stories and identities, said “when you admitted your privilege, I was immediately disarmed” and upon very hesitantly claiming myself as a “motherless” woman, a term I don’t believe or identify with outside of the fact that the woman who gave birth to me it not on this planet, this woman gave me a three minute monologue of love and strength, You Carry Her In You. You Are Not Motherless, and she wrapped her arms around me. 

This is community. 

I told everyone I talked to for more than three minutes about how I’m looking for a job come July. 

I spoke a long time to a Latina woman who’s name is like cloud, and kept finding juxtapositions. She, a bilingual woman with a dream of being a teacher, took seven years and nine tests to be in her second grade Spanish speaking classroom now. I took one test and a few months to be put in a classroom where I had No Cultural Awareness. This is The System doing what it is designed to do. Fucked up. 

The content of this workshop was not new, was not spectacular. It did, however, give me a resounding reminder that Power Is Neutral and gave me a stronger community of advocates I believe in. 

I missed the Denver solitary march/protest with our Muslim friends. I got a welcome group text about it from a coworker and was so glad to be pointed out as someone who would want to be included. It was and is so important, yet I agree with one of our Japanese facilitators who said something like A protest sometimes detracts and depresses a group- when you go and march and there is no action to follow. That is mobilizing, not organizing. 

Also, I mentioned I was waitlisted for the DEI Coordinator role – today I learned who was offered that role; someone I respect and admire and really hope can accept it, as I know working with her would be excellent. 

Things I’m Not Talking About 

Today is the start of African American History month. The shortest month of the year and an acknowledgement that all other American History, the Kind That Matters, is White History. 🙄

I’ve been preparing for this month, or rather for my existence as an American citizen, by re-educating myself about things that I was never deliberately educated about. I would say this preparation has taken about three years so far and will require, on estimate, the rest of my life. Especially months other than February. 

I gave a head nod a few days ago about the embarrassment that came with recommending exclusively books by Black authors to a friend recently – Im grateful I did. I feel less awkward. In fact the next day I talked to another (white, young, teacher) woman at a meeting and she told an almost identical anecdote without prompting, then I shared mine. Now: normalized. Less embarrassed. 

Time to share books. 

Right now I’m in the middle of about seven books (not a joke), so here are some highlights for this and every month:

  • The Assassination of Fred Hampton – HOW DID I LIVE 28 YEARS BEFORE KNOWING THIS MAN’S STORY? Also, i love the way this book is written. The author is the lawyer that brought the government-lead assassination to light. 
  • Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn – ok, let me tell you the truth: I picked up this book from the New Non-Fiction section of the library because a) it was little. This matters because I did not meet my 2016 Goodreads goal and I’m pretty angry at myself for that so now I’m dedicated to reading many, many Sub-200 page books so I can meet my goal in 2017. Also, b) because Stamped from the Beginning puts Douglass in the universe as not quite the 100% perfect human the 10 seconds of airtime he gets in school does. So I’m curious. I picked it up. This book is a little collection of his public speeches in Brooklyn. Not sure where I align with the SFtB assessment, but I’m telling you, every speech is relevant today. Strange premise to me, but cool, and seriously bring him to 2017 and everything he says: relevant. 
  • Decoded – yep. The Jay-Z book from a few years ago. I probably picked it up about the time he and Bey realized they were pregnant. My reading senses knew. Y’all, this book is artful and so fun to read. And now babies are coming. Plural. 
  • Stamped From the Beginning – I’ve mentioned this book before but listen, it’s 511 big dense pages with tiny font. So. It’s still on my list. 

So there’s my installment of Caroline’s Book Club of Black Authors. 


Today I did two things for my future: 

  1. I accepted the DEI Facilitator job at Phoenix Institute, beginning May 30. 
  2. I took part in a phone screen interview for the CELT job, so I guess I made it past some kind of round. 

Yesterday I had a few hours of sheer panic. I had a 10 minute conversation with a director from CELT during which I felt horrifically inadequate and belittled. I am still trying to determine if any of that feeling is “legitimate” or if I entirely projected my own insecurities onto the person on the other side of the line. 

The thing is, the TFA job gave me none of those feelings. Some kind of DPS complex?

The phone screen was simple, straight forward. I was informed I’ll be given a phone call on Friday to tell me either a) thanks for the time but no thank you, or b) I’m in the top five candidates and will have an in person interview. 

Truthfully, I spent this morning texting Anne that I was going to withdraw my application based on the uncomfortable short call I had yesterday. She told me to do the phone screen for practice, if nothing else. I’m glad she did. It gave my ego a little boost. 

Yesterday, though, this panic. The panic I had reminded me of how regardless of how in tune with the world or how humble I am to myself in my own head, I am Always Always Incredibly Privileged And Ignorant. 

Reason is, this CELT job and Determining My Future are what gave me the panic? Right? 

I have a secure, high paying job through September. Absolutely. I have a job that is very comfortable. There are no questions about it. So what the hellfuck am I doing worrying about a hypothetical job that is higher paid and six months away? At this revelation, because it did have to be a revelation, I was and am again embarrassed at myself. I am ridiculously comfortable. This job search and Determining The Future are Massive Privileges that merit a ridiculous amount of gratitude. When did I get so cocky? What makes me think I Deserve things?!


This president. This Divisive Time. As much as I am livid by Trump’s actions, words, and policies, I am also pretty irritated by the strange ways my Liberal Friends have taken to coping. Like this little hand thing. Can we stop? I saw a small child holding a sign that said “Trump has a little weenie” with a picture of a wiener dog at the Women’s March. Why is this a thing? Why are we criticizing his features? Why did GQ come out with a video giving him a make over? I mean, I get it. I appreciate the comic relief for the first minute or three hours that I see this stuff… but I’m leaning deeper into the camp of Stop Getting Fuckink Distracted. The size of Trump’s anything doesn’t matter. What does matter is disinvesting in Wells Fargo (Seattle, killing it), called senators, and getting involved in local politics. 

Yep. Listen To Me Tell You What Matters. 

I’m honestly sick of myself on Facebook lately. I post something then wince. Caroline, walk away! Put that shit in airplane mode! STOP. IT. 

Today my Work Husband seriously asked me if I’ve thought about running for office. Getting Involved. The answer is Yes. I’ve thought about it for years, and my dad has told me to be a lawyer since I was about 12 (obvious reason to do anything), and I’m deeply invested in the welfare of humans. I don’t know. Mark this post for 20 years from now when I’m Running Shit. I hope some preteen digs this up and is happy I cursed in my blog and yet got people to vote me into something. 

Then again, we elected a president who has said ______, and _______, and ________ . 

On Leaving Denver

In spring of 2016, I spent a morning with two of my best Arkansas girlfriends at one of our favorite Little Rock restaurants, The Root Cafe. I was eating either pancakes or scrambled eggs and likely drinking Diet Coke. In recent days, maybe even hours, my Education Pioneers personal page had birthed two “matches” (sounds like the tinder of education jobs), and both were in Denver. 

I was laughing, wistful, kept repeating, “Y’all seriously, what if this time next year I’m in Denver?” It was so so so very laughable. 

I weighed pros and cons with them. I didn’t apply to any other jobs. In June, I moved. 

By the start of November I was convinced that every stereotype I held of a school district’s central office was absurdly true: I work less hours, I get paid more, I get my own special cubicle, the office supplies are endless and high quality, I can make any number of COLOR copies I damn well please, I see the superintendent very regularly, hierarchy and seniority matter a shit ton, who you know is infinitely more important than what you know, there is no money for anything until a Senior Leader deems it a priority, there is a constant flow of catered lunches and poorly designed PowerPoints, and more than anything: the work feels meaningless and far removed. 

All of this is subjective. 

Regardless, I’ve been preaching my desire to move. To leave. For the NYE I spent in Philly, it felt utterly ridiculous for me to not be living on the east coast. Why do I live here?

Now. This week. I’ve spent the last five days filling tissues with snot, clutching my chest as I cough, rubbing chapstick under my nose in want of facial moisturizer, and whining to ever tinder match that I Am Sick. Being in central office also allows me to be an infant. I have one coughing fit and within 60 seconds three people tell me to go home. Do You Know that while I was teaching I was this sick, and worse, for a solid five straight months?! Anyone who works in a (public, Title 1) school will not tell you to go home; they will give you cough drops, DayQuil, Motrin, tea, (all stored in each desk drawer because all suffer through the season together), and a reminder that the last time you called a sub one half of your students were sent to In School Suspension. 

It was extremely anticlimactic, that though I had been checking my email every few hours for a few days, I noticed the TFA Phoenix Institute email a day after it arrived in my inbox. Congratulations, I read it in a fog of Sudafed (sp?) and painfully chapped lips. You are waitlisted for DEI Coordinator, but we would like to offer you DEI Facilitator. 

I forgot waitlist if was a TFA thing. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t excited. There was a compensation calculator and personal offer letter attached and do you know what the hourly rate for a TFA DEI Facilitator who has been to six prior institutes is? It’s $12.72/hr. 

Wait, what?

We know that Bernie and the national movement is pushing for $15/hr as a Federal Minimum Wage, right? And that I got $20/hr three years ago? 

No one does TFA, or education, for money. Including me. But the money and the sickness and the fact that I live that Central Office Luxury Life have me rethinking everything. 

Previous lifeplan was hope to do Phoenix Institute, then move. 

Getting an offer means one million questions, like:

  • Where will Blue live this summer?
  • How much money will I lose leaving my apartment early?
  • How will I decide an answer BY TUESDAY OF THIS WEEK?
  • If I quit DPS mid-May for Phoenix, when will be the next time I’ll have health insurance?
  • Is the experience worth the pay cut?
  • Am I too old for institute?
  • What if I’m really bad at this?
  • What if I do institute and then cannot find another job anywhere?
  • Should I sell everything and move again?
  • What glorious things am I going to miss out on with my friends in Denver?
  • Will I miss two June weddings I very much want to attend?
  • Why did I consider none of this before?!

The most striking thing that happened in the past three days, since getting this offer, is I’ve developed a tugging panic that Maybe I Don’t Want To Leave Denver. 


May feels intensely early. This job feels intensely not worth it. My current job feels intensely worthwhile. My friends feel like soul mates. 


In my gut, I know the content of the TFA work is incredibly aligned with what I want to do long term. I know that pay means little to me, and that TFA also covers room and board, which makes an enormous difference. I know finding a post-institute job will be feasible and maybe even enjoyable, and I know experiencing Phoenix and Native populations for the first time will be a desired life experience. I’m just in a different place than I expected to be. I’m surprisingly myself. 

Today I supported a professional development “teacher leader symposium” for the afternoon. I took pictures of eager teacher leaders, managed the @tlc_dps twitter account, gave the announcements, and sat in on a session facilitated by a director who’s team I recently applied to work on. In the middle of the day, a teacher who was in a session I facilitated in the fall came up and told me how much of my session he brought to his school, how they’re already planning to do pieces of it in the fall with new staff. My heart swelled. 

I am connected to DPS. I accidentally networked like a motherfucker and, as I consistently do to myself, fell in love with where I am despite the heavy criticism I perpetually spew. I like it here. 

So now what? I’ll let you know after Tuesday. 

Embarrassment, What Shouldn’t Cause

I have a Denver friend who recently quit her job and is looking for a new one. There’s a three person email chain between her, me, and another friend. This email chain branched into a back and forth between us about ways to spend her free time, I suggested a few great books off the top of my head: all black authors. 

I almost deleted them, or re-thought the list, or wondered How I Was Coming Off. This is moderately vulnerable, but I often wonder if I fetishize black culture, I wonder to what extent I’m part of the problem. I get sick of my own Facebook posts, wonder about preaching to the choir versus talking to myself versus putting on a show. Who am I, exactly? What the hell do I think I’m doing? What Real Action am I even taking part in?

Committees? Marches? Sharing articles? Reading books. 

I acknowledged it in the email, said something about how I’ve spent the past two years reading almost exclusively race-centered texts, specifically black/African American authors and premises, and I might have apologized for it. 

But, and get ready for how low-level-aware this is, have I ever apologized, or considered, or thought for a second about the years I went reading only white authors? Reading only texts by Americans? Reading books that say nothing about race? 

I am embarrassed to admit that it embarrasses me! I hate this post! But I think it’s worthwhile to benchmark where I am and what I’m thinking and also Fuck You This Blog Is For Me. Really what I’m doing is making up for lost time, and a curriculum and class/race/universe awareness that is Severely Lacking. This is something I am passionate about learning: all the things that are real and never taught. All the people that are real and not known. All the culture that is put down, made invisible, made a niche topic rather than a regular, common, known staple. 

I felt this again, with an identity I do claim, tonight. A group of friends in a living room who gathered to make posters for the women’s march. I am googling “feminist posters” and “feminist slogans” and some of them Make Me Embarrassed. And this makes me angry. 

Tomorrow I am wearing a sweatshirt that says If you are neutral in situations of injustice than you have chosen the side of the oppressor, and I am guest facilitating a DPS leadership training with about 40 adults from all different departments. This makes me embarrassed. This feels like risk. I facilitated today, just a little, and at the end a woman came and said “I am so impressed with your facilitation. I would never do that at your age, I would be so scared. You did a great job.” And I’m torn between loving the gratitude and kindness, and wondering if being 29 means I should be incompetent and scared to facilitate. What culture is this? Or, what culture did TFA and ATC foster in which I grew to be so confident and unquestioning that facilitating is something I can do and love to do? Where are these disconnects?

I’m exhausted. I’ve been getting up at 5:30 (okay, out of bed at 5:45) to walk the dog and go to the gym and arrive to work by 8. I feel like a different person in just three weeks. I want to sleep, but this needed a head nod. 

Part of this inauguration, of this post, of this sweatshirt I’m going to wear, of the poster I will carry at the march on Saturday, of reading all of these books, is a commitment to Do More. Is a precursor and a personal challenge to combat the complacency and Chill Vibe of Denver. To continue to Do The Work, but really to do More Work, to do Work That Is Concrete, to engage locally as resistance to our national circumstance. Not rejecting embarrassment, but embracing it, figuring it out, owning it, then leaving it alone to keep going.