Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A new year, and the last decade.

Sunday was the first day of a new year of my life. I spent most of it outside, with a great crew, at Rutgers Gardens.

I had a birthday picnic with friends. The weather report kept promising thunderstorms, but we made it to sunset without a drop of rain.

Made a thrift run for some picnic blankets. When I saw this larger-than-life Twilight blanket, the decision was obvious.

That is a pretty great birthday. It makes me look back on where I've been. (IT'S WHAT WILL SMITH WOULD WANT FROM ME.)

10 years ago, I was a pent-up high school graduate, itching for my adult life to begin.

It's hard for me to look at pictures from around my 18th birthday and try to remember who that person was, what she wanted:

Do you see me? I'm the one with the serious punkface.
From what I can remember:

She wanted to hit the road, to travel far and wide (check) and never come back home (no check).

She wanted to be challenged in school for a change (well, check, but I had to ditch some bad attitude first).

She wanted to be less angry all the time. She wanted to stop obsessing over how much she hated herself.

She wanted to forgive.

She wanted to write more, and better.

I think I got there. Or at least I'm still on the way.

Life has been surprising. So much of what I love about life now has come to me completely by chance.

I am floored every day that I've become a Science-Engineering-Technology educator. I passed high school Chemistry with a D, largely because I was vain and didn't want to wear my glasses. I couldn't see the board so I just cheated off friends for exams--and not even well, apparently. (What's the statute of limitations on this? I'm not going to have to retake Chem, am I?!)

I came to an organization two years ago willing to do whatever it took to make our youth development efforts successful. They had robotics kits and no leader. So I attended webinars, read teacher's manuals, and built the models--on my own, and with children countless times since. I learned alongside them. I'm still learning.

When I was 18 I didn't know I would fall in love with science education. I didn't even know it was an option for me. I didn't know people did that for work. And I didn't know I had it in me to care so much.

I knew 10 years ago, vaguely, that I didn't like how women were portrayed in the media. I didn't know what to do about it in a broader sense, so I just martyred myself. I cut my own hair and wore ill-fitting clothes and tried to be aggressively, abrasively the opposite of everything society expects young, straight, white girls to look like.

That's fun for a while, and then it's not. Because there's bigger work to do. The personal is still political, but there's more I can do than refuse to wash my hair.

All I knew then was how to hate was media (because I was a teenager obsessed with hating pop culture. Surely the first and most original to do so!)

Lately I'm feeling more like doing the things I care about (which largely aren't traditional for women), doing them with love and passion, is my ultimate act of rebellion. I can bring this drive to grassroots activist work, to food security work, to work for social change. To retail. To education. And yeah, still to the way I consume and critique media--to nerd culture and underground music culture, to indie lit mags and zines.

So that is where I stand, today.

My parents were kind enough to remind me that after I renew my passport this year, it'll be good until my 38th birthday.

Just assume I'll be spending the next decade holding this:

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