Cometbus #57

I hate New York



I am trying desperately to finish reading some of the half started books I have engaged in this year. It’s not going particularly well considering my frequent visits to the comic book shop, the unreal word count of the Atlantic article I am trying to get through, the fact that I have to leave me house every day for holiday stuff and general socialization which I am terrible at and the malaise of winter days in Albuquerque that are taking its toll on my body. But I am doing the best I can to feel well read and well-informed and even a little entertained (The Fix issue #7 pissed me off and I hope that dude who lost his dog just kills everyone).

I did manage to get through the latest Cometbus a few days ago. Aaron is a master at making topics and people who I could give fuck all about totally engaging and thought-provoking. In this issue he sits down with DIY comics in New York. DIY is a frustrating topic, I hate New York and comics, as he explores has a wide berth in its definition. But damn if this isn’t an insightful look at all of these subjects. I may never love New York and I will always wonder about the choices people make in their decisions to be microscopic and I will never read the New Yorker or find any of the cartoons in any magazines to be relative to my life, but I have a new perspective on the art process.

From what I gather, unlike many DIY creative cultures, the comics world of New York is very insular and private by the nature of the work. Unlike writers who are grand, ego maniacs with many things to say and express despite pouring over tomes thousands of words long, comics say big things in small spaces and spend time with the world that surrounds them, meticulously drawing on the page. In my investigations of comic books I am told it takes a day to draw an entire page, a process that would drive me quite mad, and I mean that in the emotional sense that I would be very angry and frustrated. Comics is the art of patience to which I have none.

So these interviews with creators, curators, artists and introverts gave me an even greater respect for the art form over all. My own journey into comic books over the last few years has been filled with great storytelling, but I can honestly say I haven’t stared at a piece of the art work. Certainly I will always appreciate David Lapham’s bold black and white pen and ink drawings he uses to tell his hyper-violent crime saga that is Stray Bullets. Of course Fiona Staples work has captured all our hearts with Saga. Since reading this latest issue of Cometbus though, I look deeper into the pictures to see what’s going on. The visuals of comics should and often do tell just as much of the story and speculating on the decisions the artists make has opened up deeper meaning into what I am reading.

So before I close this short review I would also be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic portraits by Nate Powell, an Eisner Award Winning comic in his own right. Cometbus’s long career see’s him rubbing up against the shoulders of people who may have more name recognition than he does, but as is unfolded in his interviews, people can have large impact from quiet places.

Jhumpa Lahiri – The Clothing of Books

Like any of us writers she wants the books she writes to be loved, to be cared for, to entice the magic we hope that they do

9780525432753 Jhumpa Lahiri
The Clothing of Books
Vintage Books

Before I was really obsessed with records I was obsessed with record covers. When I was a little tyke my dad owned his own store front business in a strip mall. On one side of his shop was a video store and on the other was a record store. I would thumb through records for hours looking at the covers. I fell in love with Slayer and Black Flag before I had ever heard them. The covers of those records were scary and mortifying, and to my ten-year old mind, totally awesome. By the time I was old enough to make my own way to the record stores I immediately bought and fell in love with these tapes. The idiom of never judging a book by its cover has rarely, if ever, sat well with me.

But reading this essay by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri has turned some screws in that practice. The art of the cover is an interesting one, and for books it’s a complicated one. Most records they have the same cover for life. But books, they change covers over time and, if you are so lucky to be published in multiple languages, change with countries and cultures.

Lahiri talks about the complex relationship we have with book covers, observing the phenomenon from both a bibliophile and an author. As an author the cover is a tumultuous aspect of the publishing process. After all it is a design made of someone else’s imagination and not necessarily connected to the words within. The book cover in modern America is made to entice readers, to compete on shelves and table tops and to entice buyers with blurbs from famous people we’re supposed to trust. The art of the cover in the United States is sadly nothing more than an advertisement these days. Just another product announcement in an over crowded market place (says the writer who is working on and hoping to get his first novel published).

However, in some cases, we do revere our novelists. Lahiri writes about the Penguin Classics with their classic looking, but often drab paintings (my description) countered with a black band at the bottom. They stick out like sore thumbs and they are designed to tell us that this book, cloaked as such, is cannon of the art of the English language. These covers are meant to insinuate that this is not just a book to read, but to know.

As an author, Lahiri has an even more tumultuous relationship with covers. Like any of us writers she wants the books she writes to be loved, to be cared for, to entice the magic we hope that they do. She understands the power of the cover, the readers relationship to the covers of their favorite books, even if they are horrible. And horrible they often are. So even when the outside misrepresents what is within, still we cling to our books.

So all this talk about book covers and what they convey, what is this really about? We could speculate that this is all just a metaphor for people and how we look and judge each other. We could argue that all this talk about books and how we dress them to either conform or stand out is just talk about ourselves. We could even speculate that the adage of yore we cling to be open to each other is more complicated than the simple words suggest.

Books do feel like people sometimes. They have personalities and lives of their own that seem to live both beyond their pages and our purview. So while it is unfortunate that we try to frame their personalities with these external images, at the same time we cannot contain them in our image. Whatever we want to make of the books we read, publish, collect and cherish, it is to be sure they make much more of us.

Book Burning

Gone Baby Gone? Really America? This is your go to for reading? Fuck you.

Once upon a time in a Barnes and Nobel just down the street from my house I was wandering around like a lost soul as I am want to do from time to time. On this particular visit I did not have an agenda or a specific collection of words by a particular author in mind to purchase. I was, at that moment, free to discover without prejudice some new reading to enlighten my soul.

I do not remember what else I purchased that day. It may have been The Corpse Exhibition, which is in my not so humble estimation the greatest collection of short stories in the history of writing to date. If this is in fact the case, the following share is even more embarrassing. But I did, wandering around the tables they have that I find particularly annoying, pick up actress Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (spoiler: yes, for good goddamn reason too). I was all like she’s kinda funny. That’s why I bought this book. I know I was actively trying to read more female authors and was curious what this new found TV star who I’d seen in exactly one movie and a handful of terrible episodes of The Office USA where she had stood out. This was a mistake.

The book is fucking awful. I mean like it’s up there with Joyce in how much I disliked it. I never even finished the book. I threw it in the back of my hatchback and it kicked around my car for years until I finally tossed it in a box of crap that I put in my garage where it stays, cold and alone and away from the books I revere stacked nicely on my shelves. Fuck Mindy Kaling’s life of vacant, absent, lackluster interest. She sucks and I hate her now.

Today, I was once again in B&N wanting a copy of The Atlantic so I could read Ta-Nehesi Coates’s My President Was Black. I read his open letter to his son, Between the World and Me this year. It is a crucial piece of American writing, even more poignant in our collapse. For whatever reason the magazine was not with the others and I didn’t find it until checking out and it was up at the registers. Why? I can only surmise so I would buy two books, an essay by Jhumpa Lahiri and a copy of another magazine.

In my wanderings amongst the working man buying 2017 calendars of cars and girls and other shit, I saw a book by Rainn Wilson, another one of Kaling’s co-stars on that insufferable show. I know this to be at least the third member of the cast of that derivative telenovela who has weaseled their way into the publishing world. Again, I ask in desperation, why?

America is a stupid country. A very, very, very stupid country filled with lots of very stupid people. We don’t read good stories. We don’t read well written stories. We do not read things of substance. Clearly. When some asshole brings a riffle into a pizza parlor because he believes it may be a front for a child sex ring and when kids can’t distinguish reputable news with the god damn click bait that splatters the internet hole of human repugnance (to which I am adding to gleefully but without financial gain, sadly) it is not hyperbolic to insist that America is stupid.

And when we do actually read something by someone who isn’t on TV, it’s often pathological crap, usually about white people doing boring white people shit or killing each other is ways that are methodically psychotic. Gone Baby Gone? Really America? This is your go to for reading? Fuck you. I’ll never make it as a writer (by my e-book at Amazon or at Barnes and Nobel).

So, the following is a list of people no longer allowed to write books. After that is a list of authors America is no longer allowed to read because I said so. Because people listen to me.

People Who Are Not Allowed to Write Books Any More

  1. Mindy Kailing
  2. Rainn Wilson
  3. BJ Novak
  4. Anyone who had anything to do with The Office US at all even if you were just an intern and had the unfortunate luck of ending up there post-grad.
  5. Nicholas Sparks
  6. Tony Hillerman
  7. Steven King
  8. Stephanie Meyers
  9. Rush Limbaugh
  10. That other angry white guy on Fox who keeps writing about presidents
  11. And the other angry white guy too
  12. Ann Coulter
  13. John Grisham
  14. Amy Schumar
  15. Any cast member of Saturday Night live ever but especially those two white women everyone thinks are funny but are actually incredibly racist and classist
  16. Anderson Cooper ( I don’t know if he has actually written a book before but he should not start).
  17. Either of the Deschanel sisters (again if they haven’t yet they should not start)
  18. Anne Rice
  19. Danielle Steele (is this even a real person)
  20. That fat guy who writes Game of Thrones who thinks he’s JRR Tolkien
  21. Fucking Elizabeth Gilbert the tourist
  22. David Sedaris
  23. Dan Savage
  24. Richard Dawkins
  25. Dan Brown
  26. The lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey and the other shit she wrote
  27. Anyone who wants to write a second memoir
  28. Anybody else I remember and deem terrible at a later date

People on Notice

  1. Chuck Palahniukk
  2. Anyone writing a memoir. Is your life story really that interesting or are you just a white person?
  3. Nick Hornby

People No One Needs to Read Ever Again Ever for Any Reason

  1. James Joyce
  2. Edgar Allen Poe
  3. Shakespeare
  4. JD Salinger
  5. John Steinbeck
  6. Herman Melville

These are not exhaustive lists. They will be updated as needed as my brain decides to work more. I will leave comments open on this post. If you disagree with me or argue with this list your post will be deleted because I am a literary fascist and I will not accept decent on my page.

Shit I Actually Liked in 2016 – Part Two

redemption and self-love that are not always easy and proof that we are all much more complex than we let on.

It’s 9:03 on a Monday morning. I don’t have work for a while. The bank account is quickly draining. I should pay bills this week too. The world is literally a mess and it’s not just in Exene Cervenka’s kiss, though we should all be so lucky. Right? Whatever. America is a failure and all we have left is escapism, which is probably going to be abandoned en mass is we don’t all want to live in a fascist regime. Shit. We’re so fucked.

As such, I am truly afraid that enjoyment of making and in taking art for the sake of art is now gone. 2016 is the last gasp of a trend we’ve been on since World War II in terms of consumption for consumptions sake and production for production sake. Which isn’t to say people should stop creating what they feel and believe or tell the stories they want to tell no matter how cosmetic they may be. But who’s really going to have time for the superficial when the fuck heads are shouting everything down with fear tactics?

Which is hard because for someone who likes sadness music more than the battle hymns of revolution, I really enjoyed the depressed adults making music arc that 2016 was. Maybe it was all these people tapping into a darker fear and bleak reality lying under the surface, but a lot of sad shit came out this year and I was way into.

Creative Adult is one of the most Joy Division bands out there that doesn’t really sound like Joy Divison. There Fear of Life LP is simply brilliant. It’s also British as fuck with out feeling derivative. The classic Marshall tones, the distinct, mournful bass lines and drums that sound like they were taken from a Lush album make Fear of Life perhaps one of the best albums to sink into before the end of the world comes. Singer Scott Williams haunting voice, buried just at the perfect Steve Albini levels and nearly indistinguishable are the perfect cry for help.

As a Washington DC expat I am always pleased when new bands from there tickle my fancy. I’m totally stoked that there is a great burgeoning hardcore scene once again in the nation’s capital but it’s old friends who really blew me away. I had the pleasure of hosting Big Hush this summer and our little dusty town was not disappointed. Also washed out in fuzz their new EP Whose Your Smoking Spirit is aptly titled and beautifully executed. All of the instruments and vocals sound like they are being played behind a wall with the occasional wailing guitar. Vocals and harmonies are so fragmented and well placed as to sound almost accidental but heavenly at the same time. Bad Moves has also won my heart with their self titled 4 song endeavor. Both bands have left me wanting more. DC’s never been a town known for its singing, but the harmonies and supplemental vocals on this enrich the great pop song writing. I can’t stop listening to “The Verge”. Four songs is just not enough, but these two EP’s together makes for an enjoyable and extended listening experience.

It pains me how much of a fan of Self Defense Family I am. But it’s true. Patrick Kindlon has been one of my favorite lyricists over the last few years and on the last several singles and EP’s he’s been exceptional in his personal, confessional narratives. On Colicky, their final offering of the year, he gets supper into letting himself loose on the wax and behind him is a band unhinged from their past. The repetitiveness and Lungfish worship is still present, but form and exploration have also taken over. And fuck if the epic ender “Brittany Murphy in 8 Mile” isn’t about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. Benny and Chris are both dicks though.

On the heavier side of things veterans Darkthrone released another banger in Arctic Thunder. Black Metal as a genre was rather humorous and never really reached the levels artistically and aesthetically that it should have. But the duo from Norway, one of the early progenies of the scene are still making great records. They have largely abandoned tenants and rules of the Black Metal Coven and instead just tried to make great metal albums. This year’s work is no different and it even has traces of their original sound.

The return of Planes Mistaken for Stars is one that also personally warmed my heart. The Denver quartet remains one of the most haunting bands I listen to. So when Prey finally emerged this year, I could not have been more pleased. The band hasn’t skipped a beat in their ten-year hiatus. Prey stacks up to their legacy and in many ways even exceeds some of it. Gared sounds just as desperate and broken as always and the songs are punishing to fatal degrees. Bands who reunite or reemerge for a second go rarely capture their former glory, but hopefully this is the beginning of another trip back to hell that we can all be dragged along with.

My final entry for music in 2016 is of course the great voice of Canada, John K. Samson. His Winter Wheat album is the perfect soundtrack for these cold mornings as fall descends into winter and the world crumbles underneath us. But don’t listen to “Virtue at Rest” because you will cry. But thanks John for another album to give me some sense of comfort that sadness doesn’t always have to be a struggle and we can do beautiful things to get by.

In terms of books, I did a piss poor job of reading this year. I didn’t read a single piece of fiction all the way through, though I started plenty of classics. But Baldwin and Rushdie and Fitzgerald just didn’t really do it for me. But it was a good year to read about music. I found a few memoirs disappointing in their execution but two tales I was rather surprised at how much I enjoyed considering I was skeptical of both. Larry Livermore, the once bright and quirky king of pop punk relived his experiences of the rise and fall of Lookout! Records in How to Ru(i)n A Record Label. Once being a young, suburban punk, Lookout! played an central role in my love for the poppier sides of punk. Green Day and Operation Ivy and those damn Crimpshrine records were on constant rotation in my various Sony Walkmen. Reading the story of their simple rise and unfortunate and greedy downfall (despite putting out great Ted Leo and Pretty Girls Make Graves albums) was heartbreaking. Something that did not have to be was and pop punk suffered as a result. On another part of that spectrum is the band NOFX and their tell all The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories was easily the best book on music I’ve ever read and perhaps one of the most punctuated stories about success that’s ever been written. The California Quartet are not known for being anything other than dick head goofballs, but this biography characterizes the real people behind this band. It’s hard to have respect for Fat Mike and crew sometimes because his songs and antics are childish at best, but after reading this book I can honestly say that I am on his side, even if I can’t defend all of his choices. This is a book about hurt and pain and the attempts at redemption and self-love that are not always easy and proof that we are all much more complex than we let on.

So, that’s my 2016 in quick narrative form. There was more great shit, but this is what stood out for me. Uh, yeah, whatever. This is a terrible ending and I am going to jump ship now before I cause more damage. Peace.

Shit I Actually Liked in 2016 part one.

this weird, kind of perverted crime story about two people who fuck and then rob banks because their orgasms make time stop is pretty much one of the most beautiful comics made

Year End lists are always a favorite of mine. No one ever puts good shit on them, or at least not shit I think is worthy. It’s been several years since I compiled one of these so I am pretty excited for this. Also, to celebrate my return to blogging after what seems too long a hiatus I am going to include for the first time some short reviews of comics and a little plug for the only TV show I actually watch with any focus.

I saw exactly one new movie this year in theaters, Gimmie Danger, The Stooges Documentary by Jim Jarmusch and frankly, if you don’t see that movie or if you didn’t like it, I don’t know what to tell you. Over all I’ve lost my love for cinema over the last few years. The stories and writing in film on all levels has gotten terrible. I mean, I’ll probably go see Star Wars because I was five in 1983 and that movie is a part of my fabric, terrible or not.

TV is mostly shit as well. I know we are also supposed to love Game of Thrones and shit, but most TV just feels incredibly racist and filled with rape or domestic abuse as the only plot device. Which is terrible to think of when talking about The Affair because rape is totally a plot point last season in one episode. But damn if it isn’t one of the best written shows I have ever seen. All the details, the fact the none of the characters are trustworthy, that Dominic West is such a babe but his character is unabashedly fucked up. Season three seems to be heading in a great direction with it’s first strong female lead whose problems are not those of a rich, white woman but that with actual heartbreak. Some of the story line leaves a lot to be desired (though in Episode Two when one of the students makes a comment about West’s character’s homogenous book plots is a great breaking of the fourth wall and meta-commentary) but the writing and execution is so great. Besides, you never feel sorry for everyone because the whole story is about perception and how flawed it is. That’s what gets me the most.

I want to write more about my new found love and obsession with comic books. Overall, comics have replaced movies for me. I am still a novice and mostly a main stream reader for the most part. In fact, every comic I am gonna talk about is an Image Comic because they put out most of what I read regularly. I am not a fan of the superhero comic or troupe but the Crime Noir and weirdo fantasy set in reality type stuff really gets my goat. Just this last month issue #4 of both Kill or Be Killed and Black Monday Murders did for me exactly what I want crime stories to do which is drag me deeper into the world of the writer and leave me wanting more. Kill or Be Killed is especially intriguing now because they are distancing themselves from the premise of the devil as motivator, which is something I like. I prefer that being nebulous and undefined. My favorite mini-series this year was Air Boy. Originally printed as a four part series starting in 2014, they collected it this year. The meta nature of it was just really well done. Plus DICKS everywhere is funny. Sex Criminals is a favorite of mine though it seems to be on hiatus. But this weird, kind of perverted crime story about two people who fuck and then rob banks because their orgasms make time stop is pretty much one of the most beautiful comics made. Issue 13 was particularly awesome as well because it introduces asexuality not as separate from sexuality but as part of the sexuality spectrum. That issue was super great and the asexual monster that comes into play is super cute cuz asexuals are cute.

Hopefully as I continue to spend all of my money at the comic book shop I will expand my reading list and get some great, new authors. Though I am not gonna lie, next on my list is the graphic novel versions of The Baby Sitters Club. I still have a crush on Claudia.

Well this is Part One. Next time I’ll be talking strictly about music, both in the form of releases I loved and two books I highly recommend.

Set List December 15th 2016 – Sister Bar

5. West Side Story Soundtrack – I Feel Pretty
6. Shellac – Bike Song

I spun records at Low Life, a DJ night my friends DCat and Rygarrr do here in Albuquerque. Here is a list of my sets.

Set One

  1. Damnation AD – No More Dreams of Happy Endings
  2. Queen – Get Down Make Love
  3. Q and Not U – And the Washington Monument Blinks Goodnight
  4. Samantha Fox – Naughty Girls Need Love Too
  5. Asshole Parade – Utah Get Me Two
  6. Asshole Parade – Convulsing Death
  7. Pee Tanks – Gone The Way
  8. Kelly Clarkson – 4 Carats
  9. Morris Day and the Time – Jungle Love (Radio Edit)

Set Two

  1. Anthrax – I’m the Man
  2. Joe Jackson – Got the Time
  3. Black Flag – My War (Live)
  4. Grace Jones – I Need a Man
  5. West Side Story Soundtrack – I Feel Pretty
  6. Shellac – Bike Song
  7. Run the Jewels – Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck

Set Three

  1. Braid – Always Something There To Remind Me
  2. Make Up – Free Arthur Lee
  3. Shelter – In Defense of Reality
  4. Bikini Kill – I Love Fucking
  5. Air Miami – Airplane Rider
  6. Delta 72 – Rich Girls Like to Steal
  7. Armalite – Boots/Sneakers
  8. Self Defense Family – When the Barn Caves In
  9. Blue Tip – Past Tense (7″ Version)
  10. Milemarker – Conditional
  11. Tsunami – Be Like That

My Heart Could Use Some Glasses

The moments of happiness that crack us are powerful because they aren’t breaking things down, but breaking things open. I don’t want to rebuild the fortress around my heart.

We are broken people. I can only speak confidently about Americans in this instance, but for the most part, despite being a relatively wealthy country with access to the essentials for survival, as well as oodles of distraction and entertainment, pleasure and leisure, were all pretty fucked up. I don’t know any one who I would say has good psychic health. Everyone I know suffers. There are many reasons for this. We are an emotional country despite what we tend to project and expect of each other. And perhaps that’s on purpose as our movements to emote are defiance against a culture that doesn’t want us to express our feelings.

My experiences with being emotional are increasing. No, I don’t count passionate ranting and raving as emotional. That is my dictatorial side emerging in an effort to browbeat argumentative opponents. Or so I will state. But in all seriousness, situations that require me to have intense emotions are not something I do well with, either positive or negative. Happiness and sadness are two extremes that I would rather not engage in. I’d rather remain neutral, like I have been taught. I guess in some cases obedience is the way.

As has already become theme here in the relaunch of the Korrupt Yrself Corporation for World Domination Propaganda Department, talking about the ass whopping that 2016 has rendered upon myself and others I wanted to once again explore this idea of slowing down, offer an anecdote, some insight perhaps, into just how slowing down the speed has offered new perspective. Gaining new perspective seems to be a large sacrifice of the time and work that needs to be done as Nazi’s invade our government, take over our psyche, plant fake news stories to distract us by means of creating paranoia and other such horrifying shit that is still to come. And as much as I want to talk at length about #pizzagate and NODAPL, things that affect me directly in indirect ways, today I want to give you, dear reader something a little more heart warming. Because in a moment where-in I was blindsided, my heart broke in one of those great and beautiful ways.

Since town crier, ranting lunatic, public nuisance, soapbox syndicate and asshole are not jobs I can claim nor get paid for, I have to work (at least until you all make me a famous author. Buy my stuff here, here and here). Currently I am employed by a community college as a person who takes notes for people with various disabilities. I did  not pursue this job at first because I am a kindhearted person who wanted to make a difference while earning a less than livable wage. I needed a job. This one is one I knew I could do successfully. It was short-term solution to a long-term problem of previous, though enjoyed, unemployment. In other words, altruism is not one of my key motivators. I could give a fuck about people. Or so I thought.

You wouldn’t think something as simple as showing up for community college courses and copying down what teachers say would be so substantial to a person’s life. For the most part too, our work often goes relatively unnoticed as it is. Which is good. I like when my work is seamless and unnoticed when I have to make money at something that doesn’t concern me personally. It makes for a pleasant employment experience where the time I trade for money is finished at the same time everyday and no one talks to me about it and I don’t think about it when I get home. Sometimes however, someone does recognize your work. This is a short story about this happening to me.

One of my students, I won’t talk in detail about her, but she’s young and newly in college. Of her many traits two are important to this story, she is cute as a button in that way that people can be cute like teddy bears and kittens and puppies. It’s not human, but comforting and forces you to smile. Part of what makes her this way is she always smiles. Based on the very little I do know about her, this is meaningful. Her life was and is filled with more obstacles than mine for many reasons. And yet, every day, she smiles. She is proud and happy to be doing what many people have probably told her she would never or could never do. That is a reality about people with disabilities that most people don’t share. We assume that their different traits prevent them from achieving what is totally obtainable. It’s fucked up and ugly and it pisses me off and has propelled me in new directions I never considered before. This young lady has conquered that. If anyone has the right to be proud and happy for themselves it is her.

My job does not require me to interact with the students I serve. I like this. I’m not a people person. I don’t mind serving the public and others, but I don’t generally want to interact with them or know them. I do not have to interact with this student. I sit in the back of her class, listen to her teacher talk and give instruction and write it down. Then I leave. So, when she approached me on the last day of class I was at first confused.

Another thing you need to know about me is that I don’t like cake. I find frosting to be a displeasing texture, one of the few food stuffs that I find off-putting because of that quality. And cake is just gross. Somehow it’s both moist and dry at the same time and is always over flavored not matter what. Fuck cake.

But I ate cake the other day. Happy and with tears streaming down my face in courtyard outside on a cold December day. Why? Because when this young woman came up to me to thank me for the work I did, which in the class she was taking was honestly not that much, I gladly and fully accepted. Look, I’m not gonna lie, the presenter had a lot to do with my acceptance of and following reaction to the cake. Even just the gesture in this case cracked through all the protective layers, fortitude, walls, security and roadblocks I have put up around my heart. The cold chill of isolation was evaporated by the warmth of her thank you. My heart tore open, over flowed with emotion and gratitude and a thousand little fairies exploded into the air reciting the lines to Promise Ring and Braid songs of yesteryear. And yeah, I cried a little bit. Not in front of her. Science No! That would be embarrassing. But I did, on a cold bench, sitting and staring at a piece of chocolate cake with pink mousse frosting as a few strangers walked by looking at me like the idiot I felt like in that moment.

I was just doing my job, one I fully believe is thankless. This is necessary work to provide equity to those our culture casts aside and designs in spite of. While I do wish I could get a livable wage to do it so that I could do this for the rest of my life, I have no other complaints about my job. I honestly love what I do and that is reward enough for me. I think about my students, feel disappointed in myself when my own life gets in the way, as it had a few times this semester. When I wake up and my body hurts and it’s too cold or too hot and my depression is fully set on my shoulders I think if I don’t go to work the burden of providing this equity is stressed even further. My work means more than just what I get out of it and that fuels me to do it, even at the expense of my own desires and dreams. My student didn’t need to thank me. I was just doing my duty to my community in one of the easiest ways possible.

I’m not fully recovered from this. Much like the loss of my two pets, the crushing fear set in by some fat fascist winning a presidential election, friends suffering and all the other shit 2016 has decided to throw at me, I am effected by this. Yes, it’s a positive, reassuring and beautiful thing, but it moved me from my norm during a time when my norm has been disturbed and shifted quite a bit. So I am taking the time to reflect on this, very deeply, because I never, ever, ever want to forget the smile on that young woman’s face as she expressed her thanks and offered me a small token of her appreciation in the form of pink frosted cake. I need to reflect on this moment, memorialize it because I am going to need the image of that smile to be able to be recalled quickly in times of stress, self-doubt and duress since those moments are likely to increase in the coming months and years.

The moments of happiness that crack us are powerful because they aren’t breaking things down, but breaking things open. I don’t want to rebuild the fortress around my heart (with apologies to Ida Maria). I want to look at the rubble with pride that something so simple could catch me off guard and release the best part of me even if I feel unsure and vulnerable. I want to be that smile for others. I want us all to be broken this way.