I think that the term “fried brain” might be a real concept, even possibly an understatement, and I’m not so sure my workload is the sole culprit anymore. In the midst of a writer’s block-inspired-work-pause yesterday, I grew frustrated at the way my Kindle, laptop and phone screen all surrounded me in some seamless, almost sneering electronic bridge between me and my dream of a non-internet, anti-electronic reprieve. As if in laughter at my online academic bubble, my phone and computer both lit up on cue ten minutes before my next appointment. All I could do was put my head on the table, dreading the inevitable energy zap, my blood pressure rising. I have been sleep-deprived for days, and being relegated to Zoom meetings has yet again hastened my burnout. I am very aware that a significant amount of my stress stems from my habit of saying yes to almost every opportunity that comes my way— a habit I surely need to work on.
Every year, autumn starts on my birthday. 29 big ones this time around. Things feel more or less the same. They also feel different. Despite the dawning of a pandemic, 28 felt important in other, more clearly positive ways. Like the beginning of a new era, it felt like some large but beneficial change I am yet to fully understand. 29 was a bit more of a shock to the system, its positivity less clear. It felt quick. It came fast. Whether or not it came “too” fast is up to interpretation, and maybe that is the point. Younger ones may roll their eyes at yet another cynical millennial, while older individuals will tell you 29 means “nothing” in terms of experience. Many of them perceive their age as having wed far more wisdom to their lives than your relatively shorter 29 years of life.
I honor Halloween more than most holidays. The horror, thrilling and gory genres across movies, television shows, books and other forms of storytelling have provided me an outlet since childhood to dissect some of my most isolating and terrifying moments better than any other commemorative day or cinematic medium.
LGBTQIA+ representation and queer theory continues to be villified in most grade and high school environments — even when the introduction of that knowledge might hugely improve or even save a student’s life. As kids trickle back to class in-person this fall, some leave the danger of prejudiced family homes only to enter risky school environments in which identities are restricted and homophobic attacks from students, staff and teachers go unpunished. Others will watch while administrations degrade and demonize LGBTQIA+ students, or fire gay teachers and coaches without due process. A majority of schools still refuse to teach any semblance of LGBTQIA+ history, not to mention LGBTQ-specific health or sex education. All the while too many students — like transgender students who report much higher rates of feeling unsafe in school or fall into the 35% of students who attempt suicide — continue to suffer silently.
*CONTENT WARNING*: Violence, homophobia, transphobia, mention of death, links to details of assault I still remember being berated. I remember the fear, the nerves, as they swim down my spine upon recall. Someone screams “God is watching” in front of a crowd as I share a quick kiss with my girlfriend at an outdoor festival. A cackle of laughs ensues from the anonymous herald’s friends who decide to join in on the casual homophobia. The anger is visceral, but out of fear for my and my girlfriend’s lives, I suppress it. We hurry home in the dark.
If you hand a cranky toddler a hammer, chances are they attempt a good hashing at whatever is in front of them. If you give a patterned fraudster unchecked executive authority, is it fair to say he will use that power to pardon his co-conspirators?