the most important thing

loveletter/postcard written for k. wayne yang’s worldmaking (cat 3) class completed last night at 3am and delivered to lecture today at 6pm:

i’d like to start by asking ya’ll to make some noise for yourselves for showing up. for being here now. i know it’s not always easy. but you’re still here.

when wayne proposed to us that we write these postcards, i had an overwhelming sense that, amongst the hundreds of poems and handful of research papers, this is the most important thing i’ve been asked to write in my two years at ucsd. i’m not sure how to explain why, except to say: because i’m writing it for you.
not a random professor or an anonymous panel of contest judges or a nameless face in the blog-o-sphere, but for you, who i’ve been sitting in this room with twice a week for the past two and a half months.

when i thought about what i wanted to say, i knew i wanted to honor one of my teaching beliefs that’s about how all of us are always learning and teaching regardless of whether or not we’re in school.
(and as a grad student who is in school, i literally inhabit both a student and teacher role. it’s a strange space to be in and i’ll give you extra credit if you can draw a diagram that honors the complexity of that structural location overlap). so i want to share some of the things things i’ve learned from you in the past 10 weeks.

i’ve learned that some of you listen better in lecture than i do when you have the answers to your discussion-mates questions that i don’t.
i’ve learned who’s going to be sitting in the room when i walk in and who’s going to cruise in five minutes after section has begun.
i’ve learned that when each of you have a different answer to the same question, you’re all usually right. (except for that one guy).
i’ve learned how good it feels to laugh with you, and how laughing together in a windowless room can make it a softer place to be.
i’ve learned the sound of your voices, so that when you talk in lecture, i don’t have to turn my head to know who’s asking a brilliant question or offering insightful (or smartass) answers.
i’ve learned how to ask you to stand with me. which is part of my lifelong learning about how i never have to do this work alone.

i’ve also learned your names. and i know there will be a moment when i cross paths with one of you in the future and won’t be able to pull your name from my memory quick enough… a situation i’ve already encountered on campus. a situation which has helped me learn my answer to that ‘if you could have any super power, what would it be’ question. if i could have any super power, it would be to remember the names of every person i’ve ever met. so i could always offer them that level of intention, intimacy and respect. i want to remember your name so that the next time we run into each other, i can offer you those things (intention, intimacy, respect) along with my gratitude for your allowing me to learn from you and my gratitude for your willingness to be led by me. so, if we do cross paths and i don’t call your name out, will you promise to remind me of it?)

i have not only learned that teaching/studenting is a form of love, but that one can actually stand up here in a 200-student lecture and say that word.
love.
and still somehow be taken seriously. (though i suspect, due to the nature of the white supremacist heteropatriarchal society we live in, it’s more effective if you happen to be a guy up here saying that word.)

which leads me to this:
(in this time of change/moving on, i just want to offer to you the idea that we were connected before we met and we’ll be connected long after we leave this classroom / this institution)
and i’d like to leave you with a small poem that came from looking up while biking home under a night sky during a time of intense grief/loss.

sky a blanket
stars as stitches
and because the sky is a blanket
it means you have never slept alone
and because you have never slept alone
it means you are
star-stitched
still you
still connected to
anyone you have ever loved

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