day in the life

7 a.m.: Alarm goes off, which means it’s time for my daily allotted hour of I am Sad and Alone. Quarantine has made solitude into a necessity rather than a choice, and the lack of choice has turned my mornings from a slow thrilling burn as the wheels start turning at the neighborhood coffee shop to a trudge through my kitchen, to my living room, and back again.

8 a.m.: Make it out of bed. Make breakfast. Read morning newsletters and check email. Attempt, mostly unsuccessfully, to explain a Gordian knot of a controversy over a Berlin subway station name. Spend some time thinking through easy actions one might take to fight the #StudentBan and share those ideas. Write my representative; calls are more effective but I have terrible phone anxiety and the cognitive capacity’s just not there today.

9 a.m.: Teletherapy. I need to rant this week, and my poor therapist puts up with my projecting my own impatience with myself onto others (in terms of activism, in terms of work, in terms of everything that could produce forward momentum).

10 a.m.: Work. I need to fill out and submit my department’s waiver form that lets them create an Interfolio account for me and handle my recommendation letters for the job market. The grad labor union needs advice on speaking to the press and framing a graphic on the new ICE rule for public release. I take a few minutes to read about ballroom culture and appropriation of phrases from Black trans women. It feels good to make space to learn.

11 a.m.: I like to eat lunch early, so I make a quesadilla and eat it while watching an episode of Doom Patrol. Meanwhile, a bunch of wealthy writers decide to release a letter decrying others who do not agree that they should be able to say whatever they want without criticism. Several trans friends point out the coded transphobia in the letter. I sit with that for a long while.

1 p.m.: Work, again. I need to prep for an interview for dissertation research tomorrow morning. I open up comments on my cover letter from a far too kind friend, make the easy cosmetic edits, and realize I can’t focus enough to do the harder work of rewriting. I try to write my diversity statement, which feels like a performative exercise that I desperately want to make genuine. It takes me a good hour to find the right framing. I manage two decent paragraphs. I then do my daily check of the academic job posting sites. Unsurprisingly at this point, there are no new jobs.

3 p.m.: My brain is too manic to settle on any one task for more than five minutes. I check the mail and find my absentee ballot for the August primary, so I fill that out. I figure reading might at least slow down my breathing, so I spend some time with Angela Davis’ brilliant Freedom is a Constant Struggle. There are useful insights into the racialization of terrorism there, because there are useful insights into the racialization of terrorism everywhere if you take the time to look. It feels both like research time and also time spent becoming a better person.

4 p.m.: I write my daily email to my mom letting her know I’m alive; she worries about these things. I decide to bake cookies for the second time this week. Yes, it’s Tuesday. Cookies are a very important part of my Process (she says, as what she really wants is an easy task that will produce results).

4:30 p.m.: I also like to eat dinner early, so I cook and watch another episode of Doom Patrol. Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19. Vindictiveness is neither kind nor productive, but it is a different state from despondence or frenzy. I sit with that for a long while.

6 p.m.: It is too hot to run, and changing into workout clothes for strength training feels like a lot of work, so I dance. A friend has brought up the compounded cruelty of our institution charging international students extra fees to cover the costs of their own ICE surveillance, and I write to our department chair asking if it would be possible to cover these fees for graduate students for the fall semester, in a piecemeal measure that would maybe help? I don’t know.

7 p.m.: Weekly Stargirl virtual watch session with Micah. Scheduled events give the days some structure. I treasure this time.

8 p.m.: I think I might do some cover letter revisions, but somehow I lose time and end up listening to a podcast. A friend reaches out to ask about organizing efforts around the #StudentBan. She needs to vent. We all do. She says, my workload has doubled. She says, I am not being compensated for it. She says, we will not write our dissertations.

9:45 p.m.: I realize very suddenly that my toilet is kind of disgusting, so I clean it.

10 p.m.: I decide, maybe there’s some value in writing this—in chronicling emotional labor and academic labor, as though those were separate things, and the intermittent household tasks involved in keeping a human being upright and functionally healthy. It takes me until 10:30 to actually start writing. Meanwhile, a friend reaches out for help boosting a petition about the #StudentBan. I get several of these requests a week. I tell myself the timing’s not ideal for maximum exposure, and I’m right, but it’s also cover for tiredness. I did some things today. That is enough. I will do some more tomorrow.

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