I had a really special week subbing for fifth graders who did not go to outdoor ed. It was so nice being able to spend time with kids without the pressure of having to make them work. I liked letting them play and have fun.

I learned about body percussion and other fun activities they do in music. I’m going to use that and the relaxocean playlist when I sub at Sycamore next week.

The things you love will come back to you, and they never disappear.

I love menstruating!

It’s true — menstruating is a pain, but I also like it.

I got my period when I was 12 or 13. It’s a pain. There was a time in high school when it was so bad I had to go to the health office then go home. (I never ask to go home, so it was that bad.) There have been several times when I bled through my pants. Having to be discrete and hide that I’m menstruating and have a pad is annoying.

But I also love having blood and tissue literally flow out of me, and no one aorund me knows about it! It feels like a super power in a way. It’s like holding on to a secret, a very wet and crampy one!

I also appreciate periods because it’s my body’s way of calling attention to itself — only, attention from me, not anyone else. The cramps are nagging me to hold my stomach, the migraines are reminding me to step off the computer, and the swelling is reminding me that my body changes. It doesn’t mean I look good or bad. In short, PMS forces me to be present instead of being in my head so much.

When I’m not menstruating, my belly is still full of blood. It’s really amazing to think that my body has so much blood in it, and it manages to refill itself all the time. My body works really hard to keep me going, and I appreciate it! I’m really glad I have a high-functioning body, and I know it won’t always be this way. I will get more and more disabled over time — we all do.

The other thing about menstruating is that it makes me think about sex. Every period is a sign that I am not pregnant. Also, I haven’t been having sex, nor have I been pregnant, so sometimes it feels like my body is working really hard to prepare for a baby when it doesn’t need to be. I’m still really thankful that I have a uterus and amazed at what my body can do. But menstruating can be taxing because I’m capable of doing less during my period.

That’s why I’m taking a few days off.


Today was a very special and cool day.

-I subbed for a 6th grade PE class at Pioneer Middle School. First of all, I love subbing for PE because I get to play basketball and just practice shooting. Plus, it’s nice to be outside. There’s always a few kids that like to shoot too, and it’s fun chatting with them.

-The really cool thing is, halfway through the day, at the beginning of 4th period, I saw Joshua, a kid that looked familiar. He was from Mrs. Lemos’ kindergarten class from 2015-16!!!!!! It dawned on me that class would be sixth graders now, and Peters Canyon (where I did my student teaching) feeds into Pioneer. OMG!!!!!!

-I checked the roster, and in fact, there were at least one or two students in every period that was from that kindergarten class. I saw Quintus, Ian, Charlotte, Bradyn, Jasmine, Ava, Brandon, Abigail, Joshua, Owen, Caleb, Shan and Mattin on the roster. It was such a flashback. And really surreal seeing some of them as bigger kids now. (I wish I realized this earlier so I could look for them starting period 1! )

-It gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling to see the kids I knew as kindergarteners being tweens. WOW. Nothing shows the passage of time that way. They look different yet the same. It’s indescribable not seeing a person for years, then seeing how they’ve changed.

-When I came home, I was debating whether I should go to the school board meeting or not. I have been wanting to go because I’ve heard so much about it, and having extremists be the only ones who show up is a terrible idea. I am so glad I went! It went from 6-8pm. It was really cool to hear the discussion that led up to voting on the map. I definitely want to speak next time!

-I texted Laurene Moses because somehow, Marguerita was on my mind. It was really cool talking to her! I also went down the memory lane of reading the notes from the 6th graders from second-semester student teaching, realizing that they’re now seniors. It really moved me and made me feel old, but also proud in a way. It’s just amazing to get older.

I’m feeling very moved on this Valentine’s day, and glad that I have the gift of meeting and knowing so many people.

Overcome Your Reading Slump with Graphic Novels!

I’ve been in a reading slump for a long time, and reading graphic novels got me out of it! Here are five that I read. I’m going to make another post on Flamer by Mike Curato because that was simply amazing.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley is based on her experience moving to a farm when her mom moved to be with her boyfriend. She has a hard time with her stepsisters and stepdad. Lucy Knisley’s graphic memoirs are so heartfelt, and she doesn’t shy away from talking about uncomfortable feelings. It was a miserable experience for her, being put down by her stepdad and bossed around by her stepsister. He erased the chalkboard sign she designed! Her mom also did not have her back. I just feel so glad that Lucy survived this experience.

Bad Sister by Charice Mericle Harper is a memoir about being a bad sister — a really terrible one. She used the power of the boss, lies, blame, dare and trick, and eventually, her brother got hurt and broke his tooth. She learned that the most important powers are the power to lead and the power to forgive. The pranks she describes are so specific, you know they happened: eating half of a pie, daring the neighborhood kids to go in the inner tube, and not sharing her treasures from the dumper. I really enjoyed this, and what a meaningful apology and reflection.

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado is a memoir about growing up as an injured Mexican-Jewish kid in Texas. Hudi tried to get into sports to lose weight, but sports were not his thing. Chunky is his imaginary mascot/friend who cheered him on after each game and every season. Eventually, Hudi found that comedy was his sport. I loved how Hudi dealt with his weight and being bad at sports with humor, and his relationship with Chunky was super cute.

Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani is all about the music of the 60s and 70s! The main character and her cousin took a spin through time, going back to the women’s march on Washington, James Brown’s concert in Boston after Dr. King’s assassination, and more. I loved how colorful, clean and bold Nidhi Chanani’s art is. This was a very creative way of combining history, music and time travel.

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying is a steampunk fantasy with swtichboards, orphans and a secret society of four families! Victoria Ying is a storyboard artist, and that really came through in this graphic novel. I love Ever and Hannah, but I did not like the depictions of some of the men hitting the women workers.

Review of Nyuki and Flamer to come!

Shadowscapes Day 24: The Magician

Today’s card is The Magician.

“Upon a rock, he sees the gifts that have been left for him. The relics of the elements glint in the sunlight, and as his hands close upon the offerings, a smile touches his lips at the power that surges through them.”

This card is about drawing on the unseen resources around you and harnessing them into something useful and great. I haven’t felt very creative lately. I feel drained from subbing and trying to clean, cook, and do everything to keep myself going. On my days off, I easily nap for hours.

I over-exerted myself from 2016-2019, and it really broke me. I’m functioning now, but I will never be the same as I was before then.

Even now when I’m subbing, memories of the classroom and students come back to me. Some good memories, and a lot of triggering, hard moments where I felt at the end of my rope.

Nonetheless, there are many creative things I want to do. I want to get back into crafting and incorporating writing into other activities. Keeping a log and making a habit of checking in with myself will help.

One comforting thing is that the creative flame inside you will never go away. I picked up my viola, tuned it (even though the G-string peg keeps slipping!), and found my Mogill and Suzuki books from back then. When I played the pieces again, I somehow remembered it.

I also have had a few precious moments subbing a 5th grade class at Heideman. Victor told me that he watched OddSquad and Wilk Kratts. That was super sweet and awesome.

First person narrative from Fall 2020

This is a very long overdue post of books from Fall 2020! This is Candelwick’s young adult list from two falls ago, and they are very strong first-person narratives. I gave my copy of Rural Voices away, but I really want to read it again. I also want to read Everything I Thought I Knew! These are the two books I did read, and I loved them. They are both novels-in-verse about young women who find themselves in a world that wants to label, sexualize and take advantage of them.

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew is a novel-in-verse about periods, girls’ reputations, and the way words and images travel instantly in high school. All it takes is the person sitting behind you looking over your shoulders, or your friend hearing your conversation with a teacher in passing, for a rumor to grow. I felt for the way the main character felt like she could not even go to school anymore, and the rumor literally made her sick. Rumors do spread like cancer — ask any woman who has had words, whether true or untrue, spread about her. Rumors are toxic and I so feel for the way women have to deal with that. But the best part of Blood Moon is how the girls came together and reclaimed their reputation and their bodies. Love to see that!

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen by Sophia Thakur is a series of poems / spoken words from a young woman’s perspective. Fans of Elizabeth Acevedo may enjoy this — it reminds me of The Poet X , except written from the author’s perspective instead of fictional Xiomara’s. She talks about her body and how it attracts looks, the way she feels both minimized and hypervisible, and how becoming a woman is just a really full experience. It’s an experience I love reading about in spoken word! Thakur’s energy really comes through.

Rio De Mi Vida

I’m in a writing group that meets every Monday night, and it is awesome! It’s a writing coven, and we write to some strange and spooky prompts. I want to share some of them here, and maybe work on a zine based on everything I’ve written with Rio de Mi Vida.

Since it’s winter break, I have time to myself, and it’s such a night-and-day difference to when I work. I ‘m able to clean the house, take care of my plants, cook, do laundry, walk to get food, play viola, draw and generally take better care of myself. I have to figure out how to do this when I’m working too. It’s so hard — I eat badly, I spend more, and the place is a mess when I’m working.

I told the district today that I will be back for the week after break, then I will be removed from the assignment after that. I think day-to-day is a much better fit for me. School politics are a minefield, and being a long-term sub only makes me feel more out of place. But I feel really torn because I like being with some of the students and adults — it sucks that I have to leave because other people make it so difficult. I still remember and think about some of the students and adults in the previous schools I worked at. I wish I could have continued working with them.

But it’s hard to describe the mental and physical toll it takes on my body, feeling literal animosity, day after day. I wonder how people deal with it for years. I can only handle weeks and months of it. When I have time to myself, like today, I feel so free. I sing and play my viola — it’s so much fun literally letting sound come out of me. I love trying to make sense and struggling through measures. I need to play with more vitality and be more energetic in general. When I record myself, I can hear that I’m on beat, but I need to show more tension and emphasis.

Anyway, the best feeling in my life is probably right now and the month after I left IHCS. I really felt free and could do a bunch of creative things like baking, singing and gardening.

With day-to-day subbing, my responsibility ends when the last bell rings, so it should give me more peace of mind and capacity after work. Tutoring Laila after subbing all day can be kind of draining, but I like working with her. I have to manage that. Tutoring Yusuf and Yahya on Saturdays is fine — I really enjoy doing that. I love working at LibroMobile too. I want to make an effort to actually draw and work on my hobbies on weeknights. It’s hard because being at school and in charge of kids is so draining.

Nonetheless, in 2022 I really want to draw, write, cook/bake, play music and create more. I spent nearly two hours today tending to my plants — it was so much fun just being around them, repotting, watering and looking at them. I really love my garden! Thank you to the plants that no longer serve me — I really enjoyed having you and trying to revive you, and I accept that you are no longer living. Going to the MakerSpace at Crear Studio gave me ideas of what I can create. Also, I love the tutorials on library IGs; I want to craft and use up the materials I have. I just want to feel more at home, and literally spend more time at home. With COVID, I don’t think this will be a problem.

I’m really grateful I’m able to work every day, even though subbing is hard. I’m glad I have income and can do creative things. I also want to work on a campaign in 2022. I also want to work at HipCooks next year! I think it will be a great year.

Shadowscapes Day 23: The Chariot

Today’s card is The Chariot.

“A constant tension of push and pull of air against liquid is maintained, and to ride to victory, one must be able to achieve the confidence and knowledge to walk upon that fragile surface.”

I relate to this because I’m currently on the fence: should I exit a difficult situation, or should I stay even though won’t be easy? The adults and some kids at the school are giving me a hard time, but I do not want to throw away the connections I’ve made with some of them. It is really hard.

But when I look back on the school years past, I still remember the names and faces of almost every student. It is really odd–no matter what my relationship was with them, or whether I even had much of one or not, they are really memorable to me.

On the other hand, I also remember some of the adults being really nasty to me, and feeling shaken by people being territorial and talking to me like I am getting in their way.

What does it mean to really shine? and when do you lay low? When do you perform? I really don’t know. I’m doing my best, but at this current school, I feel like the adults don’t want me to be there. I think it’s 100 percent possible that a lot of white men and women don’t want POC and women to outperform them. There are so many unspoken vibes that I can pick up.

It’s also depressing seeing that racism and sexism start so young. I see it in kids every day. I feel like all of those things are reasons for me to exist in that space, but it is exhausting.

I’m also anxious about going to Florida. I feel guilty about spending money and traveling. I’m also super uneasy about going to theme parks during COVID, especially in Florida. Going on this trip pushes me out of my comfort zone. I’m trying to think about how to use this as practice.

  1. being around a lot of people in a theme park
  2. being in a place with a lot of stimulation (sounds, sights, smells)
  3. going on a trip with people I don’t know (except Sheryl), and who I potentially feel uncomfortable around
  4. being in a red state with no COVID measures
  5. feeling guilty because I’m spending money that could be going toward something else

How do I make peace with myself for going on this trip? I can exercise my muscle in existing in uncomfortable spaces. I can challenge myself. I can write about it. I will come to appreciate home and in my space when I come back. I just pray that I am safe and make it back. I feel really uneasy.

P.S. I relate to Tynisa’s mental health vlog so hard! It’s accessible and speaks frankly about what

Shadowscapes Day 22: Seven of Pentacles

Today’s card is Seven of Pentacles.

“The Seven of Pentacles challenges you to make a choice to cut and enjoy the fruit in the basket, or to leave them to flower and ripen and continue upon the branch? It is about reaping the reward for effort and work. … Now is the moment to appreciate. It is a calm moment of consideration of alternatives and different approaches.”

I relate to this because it’s such a relief being done with a hard task. The relief of the worst part being over is the fruit itself for me a lot of times. I mean, there are certain tasks that feel like torture or pulling teeth. I experience it a lot while socializing or teaching–sitting with the uncomfortable silences, the eyerolls, and having people cringe at you is not easy. But after it’s over, I always feel like I got a little stronger, as in I became a little sturdier. The barbs don’t hurt me as much as they did before.

Knowing that I’m NOT going to fall apart, and that I am not fragile, is a really beautiful thing.