We Have an Issue: I’m OK, You’re OK ... ?
On getting back out in the world
You know that part of every space movie where the shuttle begins to reenter Earth's atmosphere and everybody starts to sweat from the heat and random bits fly off from the nose? To be clear, my own vaccinated "reentry" into society has in no way resembled a disaster movie ... but as a metaphor for how fraught this stretch of time has felt, it's not not on the mark.
I guess I imagined post-vaccine life would be like a door you walked through and just kept going, a linear progression, always moving forward. In reality, it's a series of stops and starts, of running at something with abandon, then abruptly reversing course. It's about bouncing between euphoria and an emotional flatline. (Raise your hand if you've contemplated a career change, a move, or simply wondered aloud, what is the point of all of this?) It's about a whole mess of trauma – from the long isolation, the losses of the last year and a half, the storm, the extreme political divisions – still not processed, but let out of the house now, into the wild. It's pretty messy, y'all.
And that's OK! Remember in the beginning of the pandemic, when we were all checking in on each other all the time and being real honest about how real fucked up we were feeling? That was actually really healthy.
As I've reemerged from lockdown and struggled with my own mental health, I've tried to stay true to that extraordinary, all-too-brief moment of collective vulnerability. I hope you can too. Ask for help when you need it. Don't lie and say you're fine when you're not just to make somebody else feel better. Be grateful you got through the worst of it, but don't beat yourself up for the days when you still feel pretty lousy. Know you're going to sweat some during reentry, but you probably won't break apart into pieces.
Quite by accident, we've got three different stories about reentry in the issue. This week's cover package by Wayne Alan Brenner and Robert Faires takes a look at how the arts and comedy communities have navigated reopening to crowds; that starts here. And freelancer Ali Montag has a lovely piece about the family she forged with a next door neighbor during the pandemic.
Congratulations go to News Editor Mike Clark-Madison and staff writer Kevin Curtin, who were announced this week as finalists for the AAN Awards, the annual huzzahs handed out by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. Mike is being recognized for his weekly column "Austin at Large" (absent from this week's issue while MCM is on well-deserved vacation), and Kevin earned his nomination for his music writing. Win or lose, you're both champs in our eyes.
Online This Week
The Intersection of Queer Street and Fear Street: Check out Jana Birchum's photo gallery from the July 11 Coconut Club release party celebrating Netflix trilogy Fear Street. Emceed by the Chronicle's own Trace Thurman (of the Horror Queers podcast), the bash featured a live "Queer Street" mural painting by Xavier Schipani and special performances by p1nkstar, Y2K, Gothess Jasmine, Noodles, Ruby Knight, Mandy Quinn, Tatiana Cholula, and Workout! with Erica Nix.
Field Guide Festival: Wayne Alan Brenner has the scoop on the two-day celebration of all that's local and edible, coming this October.
Creamy, Dreamy, Cold, and Instagrammable: The experiential Museum of Ice Cream pops up at the Domain in August.
RTX at Home: Screens Editor Richard Whittaker has the latest news on RWBY and all things Rooster Teeth.
"After Dark" and Underage: Austin synth-pop artist Mr. Kitty admits to an "explicit" relationship conducted over social media with a Russian teenager.