life updates: teaching, community, and love

I haven’t wanted to write much in the past month.

Some of that was expected. My partner and I left Phoenix for what is likely our only trip of the year so we could go meet my best friend (for the first time, since we met online), and doing that in a pandemic-safe way meant that instead of a few hours on a plane, we spent a grand total of forty-seven hours in the car. As Nick and I are still together, I consider that a massive success, if a nonstandard one.

We also were very fortunate to kick off the month of August by bringing home a new member of the family. Our new kitty, Lucas, is a one-year-old silver tabby who loves cheek scritches, any food he can get into, and sleeping on my legs. Marty fell in love with him in his first couple days. They’re already thick as thieves, and Nick and I are incredibly happy to see them both so content.

All that said . . . there isn’t a lot else going right for me these days. Before the executive orders and other political nonsense surrounding schools this summer, I was excited to get back into the classroom. But all that stress combined with rising case numbers, constantly-shifting internal policy, and still-low vax rates has turned anticipation into an all-consuming dread. Now I’m only willing to teach in-person at one campus to avoid ferrying COVID across the valley. (I’m employed by two colleges.) Course enrollment is low across the district. Adjuncts are seeing more classes than usual at high risk of not making—if they haven’t been axed already.

If not for both my bosses fighting tooth and nail to make sure I stay with them this year, I don’t think I’d still have classes this fall.

That almost-reality is something I’ve had to spend too long thinking about this summer. I love teaching. But adjuncting is sort of like walking through broken glass even when there’s not a pandemic involved, and it’s nearly impossible to have any kind of job stability. When you add in the fact that take-home pay is about $700 per month per class, even a single bad semester can fuck things up pretty quickly.

All this academic nonsense combined with some new and highly unwelcome transphobia from my former peers (plus, you know, gatekeepers being gatekeepers and all that good stuff) has left me with fewer and fewer reasons to stay in Phoenix. After discussing things for a few months, Nick and I have decided to spend the next half year or so (virtually) scoping out potential new horizons. We expect we’ll be moving next summer.

Why am I saying this now? Because while the greater Phoenix community has been more of a source of harm than joy for me, I do have a solid handful of friends (who are also largely my colleagues, either at my institutions or at others across the Valley) who I don’t want to blindside with the news. I want to spend as much time as I can this year doing virtual lectures, consulting on projects, and building community both here and elsewhere. I want to be involved in making more compassionate spaces, even if those are mostly virtual for the time being.

I’ve spent a lot of the last year realizing that not all friendships (or familial relationships!) are forever. I’m going to spend the next several months paring down my social media—especially Facebook—so it focuses on people I have actual relationships with. My Instagram and Twitter will remain accessible (and Twitter continues to be the best place to hear my actual thoughts on things), as will my blog, Discord server, and Twitch channel. I’m still happy to field professional inquiries via the email listed below my bio on my website or through the site’s contact page. Public Facebook posts are still fair game, too. But I’ve realized I treat Facebook like it’s LinkedIn, and that’s just stressful. (If you do want to keep up with me on LinkedIn, however, that’s fair game for pretty much anyone I recognize from any corner of the internet.)

So that’s where I’m at right now, folks. If you want to work with me, the next twelve-ish months will probably be a great time to get that rolling; I’m open to commissions and collaborations and a whole host of other stuff. If you want me to look over your queer inclusion policies, I’m down to do that. If you want me to teach your studio/group/colleagues about working with composers, I’m down to do that. If you want me to come in and guest lecture, I’ll happily join you (though it’ll probably be virtual). And if you want to keep up with my artistic and educational endeavors, as always, consider following my blog, joining my Twitch community, or going over to my Patreon (which I’ll hopefully be able to keep more active this fall). I’m happy to continue interacting with each and every one of you—but I’m going to start making more space for me to just be me, too.

Thanks for reading! If you learned something from this post and would like to tip me, head on over to my Ko-fi page. For more analysis and commentary like this in your life, check back again soon, and consider subscribing to my mailing list (at the bottom of the page or in the sidebar) for quarterly update emails on my biggest projects. To support the long-term work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @honestlyeris on Instagram.