03 September 2008

Coming Together

Just finished teaching another class and reading some more papers. You know, it ain't so bad.

OK, I know. I teach English so I ain't supposed to say ain't 'cause it ain't right.

Now I think of that old cigarette commercial (remember those?). What do you want: Good grammar or good taste?

Even with all that I've said about education, I realize that, if nothing else, I can make my classes into environments of intellectual and even spiritual integrity. Whatever else comes, I can teach things that are useful, relevant, interesting and even fun. And I've been told that sometimes my students find me useful, interesting, relevant and even fun.

It seems that yesterday and today, everything I'm doing in my classes is working. I haven't felt that way in a long time. In fact, in an e-mail to another professor (another one? I guess I am one after all!), I said I felt as if I'd done more good teaching yesterday alone than I did all of last year.

And, it seems that the people whom I thought were judging me aren't after all. Or maybe they're making different judgments from what I had assumed. That's what Mark, another new full-time prof, says. It seems that during the last couple of days, people are praising everything I do. In fact, even someone whom I kinda sorta rebuked had kind words for me.

It started when Michael announced that he was screening a film of Jesse Jackson's 1988 speech in his class, and invited others to come in. Sam, the longest-serving prof in the department responded with his objection to bringing politics into the classroom. Then, a few--including me-- of us put in our two cents.

I said that we shouldn't use our classrooms as bully pulpits. But, at the same time, if we're going to avoid political views altogether, we'd have to eliminate most of the works of literature in our curricula. I did it in a lighthearted, almost whimsical way. And I've gotten a lot of praise for it. Michael says he wishes he'd written it. Even Sam, who rebuked Michael for "being political" and me for "missing the point," at least saw the humor in it and another comment I made.

So this is what being a prof is supposed to be? Hmm...

Just when I was ready to give up, things are coming together, just as Mom and Millie said they were. I have my whole name now; in a little more than ten months, my body will be a reflection--or at least a more accurate likeness-- of who I am. And that person I am is, and is becoming, more whole than I was just a couple of weeks ago.

Now here's something that is making sense to me: "whole," "hale," "healthy" and "holy" all come from the same root word--hwalen--in Old English. To be whole is to be healthy. To be healthy or hale is to be healthy. And they are all wholly holy.

Also: "saint" (or "sainte", the feminine form) and "sante" have the same root in early French. "Saint" and "Sainte" mean "holy" or "blessed." And "sante" means "health." Tres interessant.

All right. You might say the hormones are making me feel this way. Maybe. But I think something else is acting on them, and me. Although I probably gained a pound or two after all that barbecue, I feel lighter. And I think other people are sensing it. Yesterday, Celeste, another prof said, "Hey, there's the Justine Smile again."

You want one, you got one. Yes, it's all coming together now. The ones who called me "sensitive" are right. And this is the good side of it--for them, and for me.

If this is what life will be like until my surgery, I'll take it. And I'll do the best I can to bring it all together.

I guess that's been the point of my gender transition and everything that goes along with it. And I think that those who've stood by me--Mom, Millie, Bruce and others--understand that, and that's the reason why they're being supportive.

All together now...

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