In Our Bedroom, After the War
No petty act is unworthy of indulgence
|Alex Verman||Apr 26|
“How’s that for justice? If I am reckless, it is because I am tired.” — Marlowe Granados, Happy Hour
“there is no more/ courteous thing to/ do for a friend than/ to allow them to be/ the false prophet/ of the room for ten/ mins; let me skin my/ fucking knees” — Talah Ezedien, “3:01am 2020-04-14”
“but fear moves me less than love/ of petty theft./ If it’s petty/ to take what should already be free,/ is pettiness a small revolution?” — Kyle Carrero Lopez, “Petty”
“i love locking my door like…you’re not coming in lmfao” — mercedesbenzodiazepine
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(OK! Now let’s go)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about home — in many meanings of the word. Taurus season has begun, along with gardening season; my adjourned hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board is swiftly approaching; the province’s stay-at-home order is weighing heavily on my mind and body, and the threat of policing has kept my friends virtually trapped indoors; and of course, I am nearing my third tranniversary, another kind of homecoming.
I have just finished my first year of law school. It was strange and exhausting, but not in the way that you might expect. I can handle assignments, readings, whatever: this is my third post-secondary degree, and I’m not too proud to admit that school is one of the few things that I am simply, unqualifiedly good at. It’s not that I don’t need to put in effort, so much as that I know how much effort to give, and I can always somehow find it in myself to give it. An academic program, even a novel and unfamiliar one like a juris doctor, is still a sort of known entity. At this point, even when I’m in way over my head, I can mostly intuit what needs to be prioritized, what can be forgiven, and when it’s time to speak up or step back. So though the workload was heavy, what made this first year of law school so fucking difficult was really its weight on the rest of my life — namely, my bedroom.
Doing school on Zoom means relinquishing one’s right to privacy and comfort in one’s own home. It means that there is always an elephant in the room, sucking out the air, shuffling the space, making itself urgently felt. Every day, my bedroom becomes a classroom, an office, a library, or some other bullshit — a shared space, occupied by strangers, neither entirely safe for work nor for rest. Whatever little rituals I’d developed to keep myself awake and inspired over the cold winter months in years past were simply no match for this level of invasiveness. No intimate moment was left untouched. I felt constantly on display, never fully engaged and never full disconnected.
This feeling was, of course, exacerbated by being the only trans person in my section, and the only out transfeminine person in the entire year. And that was all made worse by the fact that I was (I am) a vocal anti-imperialist and communist, a radical (some might say polarizing) figure, even when you look past my tits. Law is a deeply conservative institution; it is both elitist and incremental. As a conceptual framework and a professional practice, as open-minded as it may imagine itself, it will always lean to the side of the state and capital. I am finding it increasingly impossible to stay motivated and interested in this kind of political culture, especially over time, as I have become more and more radical — or really, as I have become more radicalized, often by these very same kind of fricative encounters with the unfeeling opacity of Torontonian profit-driven liberalism.
So the workload didn’t drain me, so much as the sense of alienation. Finding common ground is harder work than it really should be. I am happy to do it when it comes to, say, talking about politics with family; love is a great driver of compromise, after all. But when it already feels like my space is being invaded, my capacity to make nice is basically threadbare. I want to just walk away, but I can’t. It’s a pandemic. I’m in my bedroom. Where else can I even go?
When doing something that is ultimately unpleasurable, for longer than you are ever prepared for, it is important to take your wins where you can. Celebrate acts of gossip, revenge, insolence, and refusal. Cheating, if one were hypothetically to ever do it, which of course I never would, might be a good example. Skipping class, smoking weed, jacking off. Whatever. No petty act is unworthy of indulgence. Even it means working extra hard another day, taking the day off is a necessary exercise in reminding your stupid, exhausted brain that it lives inside a body that is begging to be stretched.
Between the pandemic and school, I gave up on all but the most trivial and wasteful of my hobbies and outlets. This summer, I want to reclaim as many as I can — to fling my body recklessly across the city, day drinking, playing music, writing circles, picking weeds. I am determined to take space from school and law and its endless jagged impositions on my life and time. I am committed to make my home feel like mine again, to fill it with flowers and sweat and incense, to decline calls, to offer invitations, to indulge in the simple pleasure of saying No, to lock the door. It’s my house, and I live here.
Hope these months are filled with pleasure. After all, what else do we have?