As we come up on a year of pandemic living, a year in which everyone has spent birthdays or holidays alone or without the people they wish were there, I just want to implore you to remember, it is okay to grieve and rage, but it is imperative to look for joy, too.
Maybe we can try harder to make clear that being an anti-Semite, fascist or Nazi is not in any way acceptable. That reading texts with hints of this or foreshadows of murderous complicity is triggering and that it is not morally neutral.
Illness, death, mortality, the mental crises that come from living with them every day are a vital part of the human experience. And yet, they are mostly absent from literature.
And then the Supreme Court agreed to hear the administration’s challenge to the ACA. And then RBG passed away. And now Trump has appointed Amy Coney Barrett, who will almost certainly help dismantle it. Millions of people will most likely lose their care, and I am once again at the center of a debate about the problem my existence presents to humanity.
Somehow I find peace in the panic, comfort in the temporary terror. There are many horrors we cannot control, but we can feel them deeply, be changed by them, and then choose to move towards the light.
Everything is new. Everything is wondrous or terrifying. Everything is heightened. Emotions are stronger, feelings are deeper and our needs, aches, wants and fears have expanded beyond their rightful scale.
I think that is the moral of my story, of this story, of life, as someone with chronic illness: To keep going is to win. To survive is victory. To hope is to triumph.
We talk a lot in this country about freedom. Freedom to speak. Freedom to own. Freedom to choose. We value freedom so much that freedom to kill seems to be above freedom to live. The right to bear arms is not about the right of protection it is about the right to kill. To have at one’s disposal the means to confront personal wrongs you feel, to take your alienation and anger and use it to silence someone else forever. The connection between Columbine and Sandy Hook and Incel murderers and the KKK seems to be a clear one. Angry white men using their “god given right to bear arms” to take away someone else’s right to live. Their fear or anger is all the reason they need to turn hate into death. And I am so tired of it.
The changes demanded by COVID-19 — the awareness of infections, the pervasive concern for sanitation, the accessibility of remote work — are monumental shifts that will impact people with chronic illnesses, hopefully for years to come.
“You cannot compare suffering.” These are the words my psychologist repeated to me over and over when I was a teenager. After having been ill for years, being forced to drop out of high school and losing all my friends and my health, I would get easily frustrated. When my father would complain that we…
Writing a thesis in English literature is always a slightly strange undertaking. You devote a year or years of your life to diving as deeply as possible into novels most people probably haven’t read, and critical theory they definitely haven’t. It’s a solitary undertaking, in which you surrender yourself to countless hours alone in the…
So my takeaway is this, my advice is simple, almost a plea really. Tell the people you love that you love them.
When I came to Stanford I wanted to continue to study the literature that had kept me going through years of sickness. So I sought out Eavan Boland.
There’s a new assertion going around, uttered mostly by politicians and pundits, that goes something like this: “Vulnerable people should be willing to die for the economy.” These sentiments have shocked and appalled many, and, while I am appalled, I am not shocked.
When we didn’t know what was wrong with me, whether I would ever get better or would continue to sink, I fought despair with beauty, fear with fun, darkness with hope. And so, if I could say anything to my friends, peers and professors, it would be this, “I’ve been here before and I know the way out,” or, perhaps more accurately, “there is a way out.”