It’s been a long time since I’ve written about my experiences in education, and the emotional weight of trying to access the feelings of this year kept me from making the effort. But for the Lunch Ticket blog, I wrote about what the pandemic has been like for teachers and students in Texas. It was difficult to reflect on a moment when it feels like education is low on the priority list, but I feel some small relief in sharing it with others who have related. Hopefully our elected officials will start making calls that work against this crisis, and for the sake of each other. You can read it here.
“The Lone Star” in No Contact Mag
For Issue 13 of No Contact Mag, I wrote about the Texan fear—and my sustained hope—of “turning into” California and how Westerns prove there’s less space between the two than Texas and John Wayne might like. I’m thrilled to be in this magazine, which you can read here.
“The Lone Star” was previously shortlisted for The Forge Literary Magazine‘s Flash Competition. Their encouragement gave me the final push I needed to find this essay a home.
One of my favorite memoirs published this year, E.J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others, has stuck with me since I read it in May. I reviewed it for The Adroit Journal, which you can now read here.
I highly recommend this memoir of family, language, and loss.
In my latest for the The Athenaeum Review, I looked at two titles in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, short books on single albums. I had some fun collapsing the intellectual distance between Nine Inch Nails and Arcade Fire in writing about their albums, Pretty Hate Machine and The Suburbs, respectively. Daphne Carr’s book on Pretty Hate Machine lands in my top three of the series, alongside Marvin Lin’s book on Kid A and Kirk Walker Graves’ book on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
You can read the review here.
“No True West” on Bridge Eight
My essay, “No True West,” about the Man with No Name trilogy, has been published in Bridge Eight‘s Film and TV Conversations on their website. You can read it here.
Almost as soon as we caught wind that we would be staying in our homes for the foreseeable future, we started wondering what masterpieces might become possible. The story quickly spread around the Internet that, while quarantined, Shakespeare wrote King Lear. Newton was working out the early seeds of calculus, which, thanks, I guess? The point being, people saw a dire situation and started looking on the brightside, encouraging one another to take advantage of time at home as the potential ground where our own brilliance might manifest itself.
Rejection Letters: A Personal History
Wherever this finds you, I hope that you are well and taking care during this difficult time. This week, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to be a teacher when there is no classroom, as well as how we each find ways as humans to take care of ourselves and be good to each other. I hope to share more about those reflections in the weeks to come, but I want to give myself space to articulate those thoughts in full. Right now, I want to stick with thoughts I’ve been considering for weeks, in an effort to preserve some kind of normalcy in the present moment. Hopefully it helps you in some way.
I feel like I’ve been thinking about rejection for my entire life. The ways that rejection from peers in grade school bred fear and mistrust into my core, the ways that I have worked to root out those poisons from my person and relationships. The ways that older generations criticize the millennial generation for being coddled through participation trophies, as if we do not face frequent and course-altering rejections from an increasingly unstable job market that offers no guarantees, as we were told while we earned multiple degrees and sunk ourselves into college loan debt.
The fear of rejection has led me to avoid various risks in my life, some I regret and some I am thankful to have dodged. As a writer, rejection is a constant source of anxiety for me, even as it’s an expected part of eventually being published. I studied writing in my undergraduate program, where a professor asked, toward the end of my time there, if I was going to apply to an MFA in creative writing. Paralyzed by the thought of rejection, I just told him that I was considering my options. He encouraged me to do so quickly, as deadlines were approaching, but I did not know how to tell him that I was too insecure at the time to try, that I had not seriously looked into anything.