“Have you ever been on a roller coaster that was way worse than you expected?”

Have you ever been on a roller coaster that was way worse than you expected? Yes, the first time. So, like we have a carnival that comes to our town — city, and one of the rides is the monkey cages. And the first time I went on it was super creepy and it freaked me out. So yeah, that was worse than I expected. It’s like this ride — well it’s kind of like the ferris wheel where it’s going in a circle except for you’re in a cage, and it’s flipping around and you can like choose with a bar if you want to stay upside down when they’re letting new people on, and you’re like in the air. Cuz if you’re not the one going getting off, you can like be upside down and it’s really creepy. And if you’re not the right height, you can hit your head on the top of the cage, which hurts.

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“I just started driving…”

I just started driving and it was the funniest thing because everyone in my family besides me knows how to drive. My sister’s working toward — my sibling is, working toward getting their license. I always forget they’re non-binary too but they’re like also not out so around parents and people, they’re my sister. By myself, they are my sibling. It’s kinda weird. But you do what you gotta do to keep your identity safe. What was it? Driving. Driving was fun. I got real scared though. Cause I didn’t know that when you take your foot off the brake, the car just moves. Like you don’t — I forgot that cars move without acceleration, right? So if you take your foot off the brake it just moves slowly, and the accelerator’s for what it is. It’s for making it go faster, but I forgot that it would go even if I didn’t have my foot on the accelerator. So my dad tells me to let my foot gently off the brake and I take it off the brake and the car starts moving and I get scared and I immediately slam my foot back down on the brake. It was so funny.

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“I wanted to look like everyone else.”

I didn’t want to have red hair. I didn’t want to have curly hair. I wanted to look like everyone else. So especially like seventh and eighth grade, I’d straighten my hair every day. I tried to like, pull it back in ponytails and just, I didn’t want it to be straight — I didn’t want to be curly. I wanted to be bone straight like everyone else. I used tanning stuff, sometimes to make my skin look tanner so I looked like other people. I tried to dress like other people, like I, no hate to anyone who wears this, obviously. But I’d wear Lululemon leggings every day and never wore jeans like ever and never really dressed up at all. And I think that was really bad for me. Like I’d wear baggy t-shirts, and I’d be really, I was really insecure about my body because for me like looking at other people, I felt like I was like overweight or fat. And now looking at myself I am neither of those things. I am healthy and like, everyone is healthy at their own weight, obviously. And I don’t know why I felt like I looked so disgusting, but COVID really like, me being alone by myself really made me realize like, “Why am I doing this to myself?” Like, I’m, I want to change how I dress, so I changed how I dress. I don’t think I’ve worn a pair of Lululemon leggings, like, I wear leggings, but they aren’t like straight leggings, like, sticking to your skin, they’re looser. But I don’t think I’ve worn those Lululemon leggings in a good year, maybe year-and-a-half. I think it’s a year though, and I’ve made it a point to not wear them. Like, I never really gravitate to them anymore and I don’t really want to wear them ever again.

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“I thought I’d play some sounds inspired by these other elements.”

Well, my synthesizer arrived, Michigan Diaries. In honor of the theme week, I thought I’d play some sounds inspired by these other elements: Wood, metal, aether, void. I know it’s not human voice, but sounds inspired by the theme. I hope that’s all right. Just have a little fun. And okay. So, yeah, let’s do it. So this one’s wood. (Music) That’s wood. I just wrote like little melodies for each one. But for wood I was sort of inspired by like a clave or a marimba or xylophone, kinda that like. (Music)

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“I think COVID actually taught me a lot about being a teacher.”

What's one way I've grown this past year? That's a tough one. I think I've grown a lot as an educator. I think COVID actually taught me a lot about being a teacher. When you first start as an educator, or any job, I think you spend a lot of time trying to follow all the rules and follow all the techniques to a T, even if it's at risk of sacrificing who you are as a person and maybe as a teacher. And I think COVID helped me find more of my teaching identity, to get to the core of my own strengths as a teacher. The funny thing about a lot of jobs and especially teaching is like there isn't one certain way to do it. There's just a certain way for you, personally, to do it. My personality is going to lead to a different teaching experience than another teacher's personality. And I spent a lot of time trying to do things that work for other teachers that just don't work for me. Thankfully, I knew this right from the start, but I knew I was never going to be a fifth grade teacher who could sing cutesy songs unironically to my students, but there's other teachers who do that. And this year, I think there's a lot of pressure taken off of me as a teacher, which I know sounds odd because of everything we've faced. But there was a big element of, "Just do what you have to do to make it through this year." Where it almost felt like, this is not what it actually was, but at times it almost felt like, "Let's just make it. If the kids learn something along the way, that's a bonus," which, again, that's not what it was. But our main focuses were things like the health of our students and the well-being of our students and families, and the well-being of parents and staff. So, that took a lot of pressure off and allowed me to just focus on like some real core elements which was like, not just the fact that my students were physically healthy as in, not sick. But I also got to focus on their true well-being as humans and a lot of -- in a lot of ways. And it turns out that built this like really tight bond between me…

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