cat braza

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Sophomore Biology major, third floor Barnes. 10:15 a.m., third Thursday, Block 4.

I’m sitting at my usual table next to two people I’ve known since freshman year and one that I met this block. My professor is lecturing, just like every other day. I’ve been here since 9 a.m., with a quick five-minute break at 10, a little early for a break, but nothing crazy. It occurs to me, though, that I’ll be sitting here for the next hour and 45 minutes straight. In this room. In this seat. Without moving.

Don't You Bite My Butt!

Admitted Students Day, 2013: a cloudy weekend when I took in all the old buildings that would envelop me for the next four years. Walking down Tejon, my mom pointed to a sign in front of an office building. Alongside the offices of tax lawyers and massage therapists was “Linda Nija Nations, MA: Psychotherapist [and] Animal Communicator.” My mom laughed as I stroked my chin in curiosity. Two years later, I gave Linda a call.

Gone Girl

I came fairly close to drowning, and somehow, none of them had noticed.  There you go: my very first flirtation with the idea that even the people who claim to care won’t always be there. I, along with everybody else on Earth, have the ability to become essentially invisible. It’s not Harry Potter’s enviable invisibility cloak; it’s one of the most lasting forms of pain out there.

In Search of Middle Ground

When I was a kid, I would call all sorts of things “dumb” and “lame, and my father, a conservative, would reprimand me for using words that he said “disrespected the disabled.” I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. “That isn’t even what ‘lame’ means,” my kid self scoffed at him.

Eventually, I grew up and deviated from my father politically.  I also discovered that what he had told me was right—according to the “liberal agenda” that he so often decried. I learned of the concept of anti-ableism, discussed mostly by politically liberal circles, which discourages the use of words like “lame,” “dumb,” “crazy” and other adjectives that have historically been associated with physical or mental impairment. The movement against ableism stresses that these words perpetuate the social stigma surrounding mental illness and disabilities.

Lately, I’ve been trying to phase such words out of my vocabulary. Meanwhile, what surprised me is the fact that my George Bush-supporting father agrees with, a left-leaning website I worship.