Toward the end of a several-day hiatus from writing, I visited a bookstore for the sole purpose of perusing. I was shocked to see that “self-help” had become a section of its own, donning a few eight-foot high columns. Authors promoted anything from traditional Buddhist concepts to successful wall-street financial maneuvers to better the reader’s everyday life. I picked up and flipped through The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, whom I was already somewhat familiar with, when it dawned on me. I just need to write this piece. I don’t need to actually give a “F*ck”. Motivated by a Nike-esque “just do it” mentality, I embraced the ethos of the self-help genre.
YouTube Controversies: The Truth Behind Commentary Channels Prior to writing this, my YouTube history page consisted of videos of near impossible workout routines, influencers promoting healthy morning habits, and “self-improvement” products that I’d mindlessly...
The problem of the personal essay is bridging the massive gap between me and you. Many personal essays, especially those written by queer people whose experiences are so varied and idiosyncratic, tend to share an almost unmediated picture of experience. I sometimes express dissatisfaction when an essay glances off me and leaves no lasting trace. I don’t get it. Then I’m reminded that that’s sort of the point. You read the piece, and if you share the experience, you empathize. If not, too bad. It was not for you anyway. But a melancholy taste is left in my mouth.
On my sixteenth birthday, I ask my mother if I can get a tattoo like hers on my wrist. Raising an eyebrow at me, she responds back, like she’s done, a thousand times before,
It’s not a tattoo, she says.
Anno Domini 1522: Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s Victoria returns to harbour in Spain after circumnavigating the globe, tying up the world with a golden girdle—which is a necklace, which is a collar, which is a garotte. Magellan himself had so famously expired many months ago on the island of Mactan in the Philippines—speared to death like a fish, by all accounts—but, alas, the flat-earth, anti-Cartographic forces of the universe were too late. Magellan’s will be done: the globe is complete.
With the American presidential election just weeks away, the importance—and the question—of voting is heavy on our minds. In the past year, the leadership of one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world has broken down. President Trump was briefed on the danger of the Corona virus in late January, and did nothing to protect the American people except imposing travel restrictions on China; and this was after he disbanded the pandemic response team set in place for exactly these kinds of outbreaks. Over 200,000 Americans have died from the virus, and many of those deaths could have been avoided if the Trump administration was more proactive, and less concerned for the economy.
“What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me,” wrote Walter Dean Myers in a 2014 opinion piece for the New York Times, titled Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? He explains that when living through extremely difficult points of his life (including coping with the murder of his uncle, grief, and alcohol abuse by family members),reading books became a retreat from the world. He noted that the world he saw around him was not reflected in his reading material: “As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine.”
Throughout our lives, women and girls are spoon-fed the genre of romance in books, movies, and television. We are told through a host of stories that our princes are out there waiting for us, and that we will all have cute love stories—with some ups and downs—but that eventually, he’ll make a grand gesture, and then we’ll walk off into the sunset together. While romance is in fact real, the romance women are led to believe will be performed by men in our society is a fabrication. ‘Chick flicks,’ or romantic movies, are at the forefront of this misleading narrative. Whether it be The Notebook, which has long been hailed as an epic love story, or a more comedic film such as Friends With Benefits, in the end, the female protagonist always falls happily in love, while the man at her side loves her intensely, and vows to be faithful to her. This is seen also in romantic novels, especially romantic Young Adult novels, catered towards girls as young as 12 and 13 years old. These stories specifically indicate that the man falls in love as well. Even if sex is at the forefront of the narrative (as it is in Friends With Benefits) said man will never be able to resist the main character’s personality, and he will end up falling for her no matter what. Even if he only views her as a possible sexual partner at first, in the end he wants her as a life partner. This narrative can lead to a lot of false hope, and not because ‘men are trash,’ and all they care about is sex.
In the winter of 2019, I attended the Sundance Film Festival as an over-worked intern. Although the experience was mostly dropping off Uber eats orders and escorting people to their interviews, I had been given free tickets to watch two films of my choice. I had to choose from a list, giving each film a numerical value ranging from 1 to 5. The film marked “1” (meaning the film I wanted to watch most) was A24’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” . Due to popular demand, I was not able to get a ticket to this film, and was instead stuck with watching a horrifically boring documentary about lumber.