Every night before bed when my brother and I were kids, our mom would walk into our room, take a seat at the foot of one of our beds and answer any questions that might have come to us over the course of the day. Usually, the back and forth was light and the questions were easy for her to field.
“Boys pee standing up because they have different parts than girls.”
“I don’t know why your tummy hurts, maybe you ate too much dinner.”
“Yes, two boys can get married, but no, you aren’t allowed to marry your brother… Because it’s against the law… It just is.”
But one fateful night, maybe at ages six and eight, we started grilling her. Is Santa real? The Tooth Fairy? Quetzal from “Dragon Tales,” for Christ’s sake? No, no and no.
Our idols were dropping like flies. We weren’t quite sure what to do. We tried crying for a while, but it didn’t help. We wiped our eyes, glanced at each other and then looked to our mom. I may be dramatizing, but the way I remember it, she bowed her head and trudged out. We never should have asked.
This issue of the Cipher finds our writers feeling both disoriented and indignant in the face of shams, deceptions and misrepresentations. As we graduate to the proto-adulthood of our early 20s and slouch towards the uninspiring landscape of late-teens America, it’s hard not to lament the gap between what we were promised and what we’ve been given.
Mohammad Mia confronts the topic head on, decrying the entrenched, not-as-advertised, Whiteness of CC before boldly declaring its death (p. 45). What does it means to construct your identity in a space that wasn’t built to accommodate you? And how do you explain that struggle to those who are incapable of hearing it?
On a less institutional, more personal level, both Monica Black and Kendall McGinnis explore the idea of a “pseudo-identity.” Black questions the grounds for her diagnosis as manic, weaving her own experience with mental health disorders into a tirelessly researched history of psychiatric prescriptions (p. 11); McGinnis bemoans the San Diego beach-bum hangover in a gleefully written and tenderly nostalgic ode to “Rocket Power” (p. 40). Rebecca Twinney takes the question of identity more literally in her efforts to find the origin of those plays attributed to (but not necessarily written by) William Shakespeare (p. 24).
Unsurprisingly for a staff awash with writers who only recently joined the electorate, many found politics to be a ripe target for their newfound disillusionment. We flit between the macro and micro, from the bombastic spectacle of electoral politics as analyzed by Andrew Braverman (p. 19), to the mundane drudgery of jury duty, which invigorates the suddenly idealistic Sarah Fleming—that is, until her mind starts racing during the selection process (p. 33).
We also get three (count ‘em) reports on local politics: Jack Queen’s story on the proposed Strawberry Hills land swap between the Broadmoor and the city (p. 30), Abi Censky’s bizarre account of Victor DeBianchi’s vigorous, unrelenting campaign for City Commissioner of Hollywood, FL (a race he is guaranteed to win by virtue of being the only candidate running), and Eliza’s Stein’s examination of the confused role that the ORC inhabits in the CC outdoors community.
This issue spans various tones and moods, but still speaks in a unified voice. It advertises uncomfortable truths and often demands fraught self-examination. It banishes Santa to the North Pole, Quetzal to Dragon Land and the Tooth Fairy to wherever he or she hails from.
A highly talented staff of writers, artists and editors bring you: “The Pseudo-Issue.”
-Nathan Davis and the Cipher editors