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2012: A Year in Review

Tonight is the last Friday night of 2012, exactly one week after the world was supposed to end. A lot has happened in 2012, and I decided to highlight everything significant that happened to me this year, month by month.

gs2012

It’s been one heck of a year at GingerSass.

January

Not much happened in January. I turned 22, which was actually a better birthday than my 21st. My friend convinced the bartender at a local bar that I should be given a free bottle of champagne because my 21st coincided with a blizzard and I didn’t get to celebrate. I received a stuffed unicorn and zebra print seat covers from my parents. I, once again, pleaded to Ellen as to why we should celebrate our birthday together and she ignored me. Ya know, the usual.

February

I made it onto PostSecret for the first time. Whitney Houston died and I was devastated so I wrote a poem. Ryan Murphy pissed me off so I wrote him an angry tumblr post turned into a letter, which he never responded to.

March

March was a very important month for me– I STARTED GINGERSASS! (All of the posts posted before March 25th were transferred from my tumblr site.) Fun fact– GingerSass was started because I was pretending to be an investigative reporter at the Sex, Love, and Dating Conference. Also, Adrienne Rich died, which devastated me. A lot.

April

April freaking rocked. Highlights of the month include:

volunteering with NOH8 and later being featured on their website
meeting Frank Warren at my first PostSecret event
saw an opera and a concert in one week
my Poefy (poetry-wifey) was fantabulous in The Vagina Monologues and I wrote about it

May

May was a good month for me. Obama came out in support of gay marriage. I won an award. I graduated college. Life was pretty awesome to me in May.

June

June was an interesting month. I started it out writing about suicide after finding out that the partner of my friend who had committed suicide also committed suicide. I wrote a bunch of 10 Minute Musings for a grad class and reconnected with myself. I came out to my family as a blogger, with the support of Cady McClain, aka Dixie from All My Children. I even inspired her alter-ego, Suzy F*cking Homemaker, to create an internet meme. Suzy also encouraged me to write a post on why I want to be a celesbian…so I did. I also  booked and performed my first paid poetry gig, which was pretty darn awesome.

July

July started off with a roadtrip to Massachusetts with Poefy to the wedding of Taylor and Mike. I basked in the glory of cheeseball goodness. (This post is still one of my most-visited posts, btw.) I fell in love with my job over the summer. I also figured out What Obama Taught Me. I indulged in Restaurant Week. Then I got serious about my blog, invested in an actually site host, got free magnets, and was overwhelmed by the idea of going to BlogHer. I also posted about teacher dress codes, which is also one of my most-visited posts of all time.

August

August started off with me going to BlogHer’12 and MY LIFE CHANGING FOREVER. I made so many blogging friends through BlogHer, and I’m going to (eventually) categorize them on her so you can so who I’m reading. I also won a happy hour party in August and celebrated with wings and food at a local bar with my friends. Woohoo! To top August off, I started my new job, got an apartment to go along with it, and ruminated on why Res Life will always be a part of me.

September

September was an emotional, crazy month. I had an awesome first week of September. I was a national runner up to be the next Verizon Ultimate Insider, mentioned on AfterEllen, and yogurt was on sale. I made it through the one year deathaversary of my friend’s suicide, and I participated in yet another walk for dead people. September was emotional, tough, and trying, but I got through it.

October

October started off with me reflecting on how much I love my car. I also met Jack Hanna, which was a childhood dream come true. I had a kickass lesson on bullying on National Coming Out Day and fell even more in love with teaching. I went to the Dodge Poetry Festival for the first time as an educator, and I helped my students fall in love with poetry. I met Geena Davis and she told me, “You’re changing the world to be a place I want to be in. Keep up the good work.” I saw Melissa Etheridge in concert. I survived Hurricane Sandy, was really upset that Sandy canceled Halloween, and was upset by the whole Sandy experience.

November

November feels like such a long time ago. I participated in NaBloPoMo for the first time and wrote about how I’m a Jersey girl, how Sandy domesticated me, and what Obama’s win meant to me. I also talked about bacon, ghosts, and just how important it was that I found my voice again by going to poetry open mics. I cut my hair, took silly webcam pics, and thought about my future. I ended my first NaBloPoMo experience by being grateful for stickers, and really having peace in knowing that I’m on the right track for what I want to do with my life.

December

December flew by. I think the biggest thing that happened to me this month, right before my student teaching internship ended, was that I realized why I want to teach. I arranged for an assembly for my Creative Writing students, and  it really changed my relationship with them forever. It taught one student to not be afraid to be who she is, and this, in return, encouraged me to come out to her. She then wrote me a note and made me cry. Then the Newtown, Connecticut shooting happened and it hit really close to home, as it was the first school shooting that has happened since I began student teaching. My students asked me if I would take a bullet for them, and I was able to respond honestly and say yes. Student teaching ended, and I managed to make it to the parking lot after school before crying. I got creeped out by the whole Elf on a Shelf phenomenon, but secretly loved my creepy little elf.

2012 was a year of growth. I rediscovered my writing identity, and GingerSass became a very large part of who I am. I’m grateful for the opportunities blogging has given me this past year, and I cannot wait to see what 2013 holds.

Happy New Year, folks! What are you looking forward to in 2013?

PS I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend or not, but if you’ll be at home this NYE, consider joining in on #Tweetin13. There are prizes, fun people, and it’s hosted by two of my favorite ladies. Get on it!

Why I Teach

Tonight I’m literally so overwhelmed by emotions that I don’t know what to write.

Today Pandora Scooter came to perform for my students, and she had a lot thrown at her. When I say a lot, I mean that we had an evacuation drill ten minutes into her performance! (At least now she can say she once evacuated an entire school while performing…) She incorporated the evacuation into her performance, and even offered to stay a bit longer if needed. Luckily, the evacuation only lasted a few minutes.

pandora library

When you forget your camera at home sometimes you have to improvise and use your webcam to take pictures.

Pandora performed a couple of her pieces for the crowd, which consisted of my Creative Writing students, the Journalism class, and members of the school literary magazine. I wasn’t sure how they would react. I knew that (most of) my students would love her, but I wasn’t sure how the others would react… especially when Pandora started talking about her different identities and sexuality.

She performed “Box,” which was received really well by the students.

She closed her performance by performing “Other,” which my students had watched in class.

At the end of the period, students were invited to stay and ask questions. They could head to their next period classes if they wanted. About half of the 50-odd students stayed, and I was blown away by the questions they asked.

“What inspires you?”

“How do you get over writer’s block?”

“Do you write poetry to perform, or do you just perform poetry you’ve already written?”

“What advice do you have for performers?”

And then…

“I don’t have a question. It’s more of a comment really. I just wanted to say I really connected with some of the things your poetry was about. I don’t really have any role models, and it meant a lot to hear you talk about that stuff. Thank you.”

Pandora said thank you, and the room clapped not for Pandora, but for the student, who had the courage to essentially come out in front of an entire library of peers. In high school, that’s tough. In a high school where there are very few out individuals and out role models, that’s even tougher.

I immediately wanted to cry, and I haven’t stopped thinking about that student all night. In October I wrote about why I didn’t come out on National Coming Out Day. I still stand by my reasons for deciding to not be out to my students, but today inspired me to make an exception. The student who doesn’t have any one to look up to or see that “it gets better” deserves a role model. (Side note: I’m not the biggest fan of the Dan Savage project, or him in general, but, as I spend more time in the teaching world I do see its point…although it’s important to recognize that, for everyone, it doesn’t always get better.)

There isn’t much else to say about today, except that I will always remember this day. Thank you, Pandora, for helping me see what it is my students need from me. And thank you, to that student, for being so brave. It’s students like you that remind me of how much I love making a difference.

letter pandora

I wrote this letter to my student because this student deserves to be recognized for the bravery that was displayed.

***Update, 12/14/2012***

The student wrote me back and I cried in the faculty room.