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.

Shadowscapes Day 21: The Hierophant

Today’s card is The Hierophant.

In the picture, a caterpillar appears as a moth in front of the Hierophant. Seeing the moth in flight, the Salamander also wants to fly. The Salamander asks the Hierophant if it may also fly.

“Just know that your own destiny shall be attained along a different path than Caterpillar’s,” he said.

The card makes me feel a little uneasy at first because it looks creepy, and I had an uneasy night of sleep. I realized that there are so many traps that I can fall into throughout the day on social media: seeing people get married and promoted, celebrities and toxicity. It really is awful on my mental health. For example, I felt horrible after watching couple vlogs because I feel like I would never be in one. I feel so unphotogenic after seeing celebrity Instagrams. I definitely feel odd because I’m single. It’s really hard to counter the feeling that I should be partnered; it’s like a loud voice in my head telling me that I’m unchosen. I literally have to tell myself to not listen to that voice!

This message isn’t going away. If anything, it’ll get louder. A few months ago I talked to my friend about how hard it is being a single, unmarried woman as you get older. There are single ~icons~, but they are rich and attractive celebrities for whom being single is an asset. If anything, being single makes them more desirable. For regular single folks, life can be hard in several ways. One that I’m feeling right now is just being, literally, odd because I’m not paired with someone. I’m the extra person on the guest list, if I make it to the list at all. Another is that society is not favorable or trusting of single women. I don’t have a boyfriend or husband to refer to in conversations. There’s just so much social capital in being coupled. 😭

Going back to today’s tarot card, desirability has always felt like a puzzle to me, and something I don’t have. I feel like the Salamander in the parable because flight is unattainable to me, but I see other creatures having that ability. 😥 This is definitely a feeling I have to sit and get comfortable with. How do I celebrate being a Salamander??

Shadowscapes Day 21: Page of Swords

Today’s card is Page of Swords.

The swans flap their wings and create an updraft that carries the page through the night. She’s quick to adapt to the shifts in winds, seeing the path that nocturnal guardians of the sky offer. The Page of Swords embodies honesty and truthfulness.

I relate to this card because truth and honesty are really important to me. “She knows the measure of her own soul.” I want to get better at that and assessing situations.”She stretches her perceptions to try to make room for the new and unknown.”

I’ll have to do that when I start my long-term assignment in a new classroom. I will give myself and the students a lot of grace. I’m also excited to teach math! Being myself and seeing the students for who they are will help me.

Shadowscapes Day 20: Page of Cups

Today’s card is Page of Cups.

The mermaid takes a whiff of the single cup. She sits on a conch to rest. Fish know to swim around her so they don’t disturb her peace.

“In a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.”

I relate to how the mermaid wants to take time to look at coins, tendrils and other miscellanea. As my life gets busier, I also really crave time to be still. I appreciate stillness especially during the school day, and I’m going to try to find more of it for myself and for my class.

Shadowscapes Day 19: The Lovers

Today’s card is The Lovers.

The card is full of contrasts: the simple calla lily and the sensuous rose, the innocent doves and the tempting snake.

I’ve been thinking about love in the romantic sense and many other senses: friendship, community, self and the world. I’m drawn to the idea of becoming a secular nun because it involves a very intense kind of love for the world, as evil and flawed as it is, and a deep dedication to the work of loving.

In the past, I had a romantic relationship like that, and after it ended, I found that it’s unlikely that I will find a partner who is looking for the kind of intense, dedicated and loving relationship that I want.

It’s also hard for me to be interested in men, even though I’m straight. There are so many ways for women to be hurt, permanently, and I really want to be safe, comfortable and myself. I have a hard time with performing/acting out the role of girlfriend (and wife, if I ever get married), and that is probably part of what holds me back. I have so little experience with what a role entails, and it’s a really hard script to perform based on society’s expectations of women.

(I feel for both men and women in regard to the gender roles they play. I’m sure men have to perform the role of boyfriend and husband, and that looks different in front of other men than with their partners. Toxic masculinity hurts both men and women.)

In my fellowship, we have been talking about being selfish and telling stories. I’m going to take the best care of myself for me and for Pecola. Since reading The Bluest Eye, living in a way that honors and protects Pecola–how I would do so if I had the chance–has guided my choices. I just want to protect and love Pecola and myself the way we deserve.

Shadowscapes Day 18: Three of Cups + Writing!

Today’s card is Three of Cups.

I love the Cups cards because they have to do with relationships, emotions and creativity.

This one is relevant to me: “Friendship is its key component, and companionship, relying on others, and developing community and team spirit.”

I feel really good today because I got to tutor two students! I love working on math and writing with them. It feels like a gift because I wasn’t looking to tutor more, but I went to Ms. Stacey’s house and met two other moms. I met Ms. Stacey and started tutoring for her in the first place because of The People’s Coalition, which I joined because of Babes Against the Virus.

The reason I got to tutor three students this week is because of community. The people around me believed in me, then more doors opened. I really love that!

I got to workshop two fun paragraphs with two young writers today:

This one is about the myth of Arachne, a weaver who was too proud of her skill, then the goddess Athena punished her by turning her into a spider. (7th grade)

A handwritten paragraph about the myth of Arachne
“The myth teaches you that [if you’re] talented at something, you should be humble.”

Some of the tweaks we made in this paragraph:

  • using “the weaver” instead of repeating Arachne’s name or an ambiguous “she”
  • phrasing the topic sentence from the question
  • citing the text and using transition words

This one is about why surfing is cool–that was the writer’s opinion about a sport. I thought it was cool that he chose surfing as a sport because it is a sport!

Some of the tweaks we made in this paragraph:

  • using the “___ means you get to ___.” construction
  • changing “dodge other people” to “dodge other surfers” to be more detailed
  • closing the paragraph with an opinion AND paraphrase of the topic sentence
A handwritten paragraph about why surfing is cool
“Sometimes, you might even see a shark lurking.”

I really love this because it’s the kind of editing I did with B/R, and it’s just fun to work with young writers. Of course, it needs to be copy-edited, heavily! I’m so happy I get to apply the lessons I learned from my temp assignment with B/R here.

Shadowscapes Day 17: Three of Swords

Today’s card is Three of Swords.

Oh my god, this card is literally me right now.

According to Shadowscapes Companion, “There is grief and heartbreak in the Three of Swords. There is a feeling of loneliness, separation, and isolation. Has everyone deserted in this time of greatest need?

Overcome the pain; the weeping of the heart is perhaps a necessary cleansing. Let that torment drain away.”

I’ve been feeling intense grief and sadness at how abrasive this world can be. This feels like a companion to the Ace of Cups card, if you turn the tears and grief into something really creative!