Around the world in a year

A year ago this week I returned to the U.S. from teaching English in Beijing for over two years.

Zizhuyuan Park, Beijing (2018)

Although I’m preparing to go back next year, I can’t help but to reflect on the last 12 months stateside. From Beijing to Seattle then Dallas to Houston onto Austin (and Saint Louis), with several fun trips in between, it’s been kind of a whirlwind…


The Return

When I moved back last November I knew exactly what I wanted to do; move to Austin, work at a charter school, perform my poetry as often as I could; hold a writing salon and/or poetry workshop, and apply to (as well as attend) at least one artist residency. Simple plans, right?


Norman Vincent Peale, well-known minister and author once said:


“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

Moving to ATX

Within two weeks of stepping off the plane — I was a substitute teacher at a charter school on Austin’s east side.


Thinking on it now, I probably should’ve relaxed; taken the time to get readjusted you know. But my adrenaline was high; I was excited. I’d been in contact with the principal of the school since July so job-wise, it was one of my best moves.


The school was small, maybe 200 students with a campus filled with smart, curious, independent kids from kindergarten to 8th grade.


Encouraging students to be compassionate, collaborative and critical thinkers, the curriculum included project-based assignments, restorative practices for social, emotional and mental health, as well as eco wellness programs. I subbed in theatre, ELA, music, math, 2nd grade, 3rd grade; the focus room (for disruptive students), and learning support for our SPED kids. It was an awesome experience; I stayed there until the end of the school year.


Public School

While working with the charter school, I was also a substitute at Austin Independent School District, which was on plan because I also wanted to work in a public school before deciding if I wanted to get certified as a teacher in the state of Texas.


With AISD, I generally accepted English, ELA, ESL, and Journalism assignments; going back and forth between elementary, middle and high schools. Elementary was always a delight; except for one class full of 8-year old boys! In spite of the challenges that being a teacher can bring, it's the only day job I can see myself doing for a very long time. Overall though, I loved being a substitute. The flexible work schedule worked well for me at the time.


Austin’s tiny house community

I published my first tiny house piece with xoNecole back in June. While working in Austin I lived in tiny homes, RVs, cottages and Airstreams around the city because I didn’t want to commit to one area. I just wanted to explore different parts of town before diving into a specific one. I also lived tiny while in Beijing.


Before getting to Austin though, I didn’t realize how big the tiny house scene was; there’s a whole ass community on the east side, including a tiny homes hotel.


That said, I can now say... I’m on the road to saving (and buying) my own tiny home and basing it out of Austin. In the future I want to use it as rental income, perhaps hosting through Airbnb while pursuing my #vanlife dreams.


Poetry in motion

For years now I’ve had this idea to host a poetry workshop for queer writers. Sort of like a poetry salon to showcase and discuss new works in progress, art and ideas. A social gathering if you will, connecting artists and creatives; with music, refreshments, and a local queer artist and/or musician in attendance. In December I won a micro grant to do just that. Although the workshop didn’t pan out the way I wanted this year, it has definitely increased my confidence to produce one in the near future.


From poetry readings at art galleries and other creative spots; to attending writing workshops and applying to writing residencies for the first time, 2019 has been one of my favorite years in creativity. I even landed a small role in an independent film due out next year, and went on fun trips to Chicago , Denver, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge.


Like Peale said, when you shoot for the moon, you are bound to hit some stars. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.