Sophomore Slump

Walking backwards

There are people who absolutely love to drown in nostalgia and I do not understand them at all. If it goes three ways, and people live in the past, present, or future, I am definitely the last one and very aggressively and entirely so and have been my entire life. I am always thinking about where I am going to be at some far off date and absolutely nothing prior to that, because considering anything less than the far off future depresses the shit out of me.

Which might be why I’m wildly depressed! My year so far has been a long, backward look at things. It started with music; a Pandora station (the Goo Goo Dolls, sorry) played a few old songs from my childhood and just like that, I went on a spending spree, and now for months my ears have been filled with the low-brow rock music that guided me through 18 years of life in arguably the hottest state in the country. (Loud music, lots of sweat, Texas.) Those sounds have come hand-in-hand with other walks through memory lane — eating burritos again now as a regular coping mechanism, re-watching Battlestar Galactica, re-creating the outfits I wore in New England when it had just occurred to me that lesbians did in fact exist.

For days now, I’ve been thinking about this Andrea Grimes essay, which is a bit about why Beto running for president and not staying in Texas felt like a betrayal, and a lot about Texas and California, and moving back to Texas again, and also about how Texas never feels like enough to some of the people in it and why that’s a hard thing to swallow. I read it two days after I met up with a friend from high school — one I hadn’t seen in a decade — and we drank $13 D.C. cocktails and justified leaving Texas to each other all while swearing our allegiance to the state up and down.

My home state is always weighing on me in some way or another but so is Northampton, in a wildly different way. Eighteen years is a lot longer than four (not even four — I spent a horrible eight months in Geneva somewhere in the middle) but that little Massachusetts town changed everything for me. I finally went back last May after five years away and still haven’t really recovered from that experience. Which is exactly why I dread going back to places — I drown in nostalgia and then I stay that way, waterlogged.

And while I’ve been thinking constantly about Texas and also about Northampton and how I never really processed living in or leaving either, I’ve been depressed in D.C. I don’t hate D.C. at all, it’s actually a great city. But I feel wildly stuck; I’m burned out, I’m tired almost constantly, I don’t feel particularly inspired, and I honestly have no idea what to do to change that, which is hard for me because I love problems with solutions.

That’s partially just a product of the times — is anyone in this country feeling really, truly good right now? (Or the world, for that matter?) This city is exhausted and everything everyone in it is doing to seem fine just seems false to me. But obviously it goes beyond that. I’ve been here for six years and I still don’t feel rooted or attached to it, which is more a commentary on me than on the nation’s capital, but still. I love journalism and I love my beat, but I miss world news and I miss the things I was so passionate about when I was younger. I’ve been thinking a lot about when I lived in Northampton and I was, let’s be clear, completely miserable, but I also felt alive and buzzing constantly and full of new facts and thoughts. And I haven’t felt that way in years and it’s becoming fucking terrible!

What is to be done about that? I’ve got no answers, obviously. But in case it wasn’t clear, I think we could all use some inspiration and some change, and I very much hope spring brings it, in whatever form it might come. I also have a fun new cough that I hope passes soon — must be Aries season.




Blues Buzz

Texas is the last stop. Brooklyn’s early enclaves of queer life. Some people rioted over this piece but I enjoyed the spirit of it: on going home to your “dying” rural hometown. Some scary news for international passengers in U.S airports. Why some students don’t call themselves Southern writers. The deep American roots of white nationalism. Captain Marvel is a very gay movie. Sober queer spaces forever. After the big one — a country without Los Angeles? Cat lady. Irish literature in the time of Brexit. Interesting move. A group of younger Jews contrast their practice with that of their parents. Vegan and Palestinian. A Call Me By Your Name sequel is coming.


The finest Albuquerque has to offer. © E.A. Crunden

The finest Albuquerque has to offer. © E.A. Crunden





Green Scene

Me: Trump’s 2020 budget proposal takes aim at science. Black and Latinx Americans suffer more from the air pollution generated by their white counterparts — something that hasn’t stopped the EPA’s regulation rollback efforts. Oil companies say they support maintaining methane regulations, but they remain part of a powerful lobbying group opposing them. In D.C., young people joined thousands across the world striking for climate action.

As the floods wear on, remember: the Midwest’s trauma is part of everyone’s future. Evangelicals and vulnerable Republicans are among those opposing the rollback of a key EPA regulation. A chemical fire that burned for days in Texas is part of a larger story about power and abuses by the state and national government. (And now the state is suing!)

Elsewhere: How one small town is paving the way for its own Green New Deal. Florida eyes a transition to renewable energy. Costa Rica plans to radically decarbonize. The Pentagon is pushing for lower PFAS standards. Hell and high water. Disaster in Mozambique. Not trusting FEMA’s flood maps. Midwestern flooding is breaking the region’s farmers. How to think about immigration and climate change. More than 100 people died and more than 10,000 were displaced in Indonesia due to flooding. RIP coal, long live coal country. A landmark drilling ruling.




Around the Globe

All 157 people aboard died when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed en route to Nairobi. Multiple governments have banned the Boeing model behind the crash from their airspace, including the U.S. Israel’s prime minister really rolling in that “some are more equal than others” fun. Algeria’s president will not run for a fifth term, bowing to pressure from protestors, but he has yet to resign. Sudan shortened the country’s state of emergency. Venezuela is plagued by blackouts.

Britain rejected a no-deal Brexit and PM Theresa May requested an extension into June — so, as usual, no one knows what’s going on. Twenty people died in a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria. A brutal Islamophobic attack in New Zealand left 50 people dead and around as many injured. Gun reform laws are quickly following. President Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down as leader of Kazakstan.



Spoken & Written

“It is a testament to O’Rourke’s easygoing, people-centric senate campaign — eating tacos in the car, sure, but also saying deeply resonant things about shared values and visions for a more equitable state — that I saw myself in him. Someone who cared about Texas, deeply, and who was committed to un-fucking this place. But then, suddenly, he became a man who turned too quickly into someone else, someone who — again, like me — has believed the lie that Texas is not big enough.” — Andrea Grimes



Recs

  • Again, I hate nostalgia, but if you’ve gone more than a decade without hearing “Pinch Me” by the Barenaked Ladies…..rethink your choices, folks.

  • I’ve been eating nothing but homemade breakfast tacos, no regrets.