By Al Tejera
I am nine. A dance of pastels weave in and out of my periphery. It is Bomba season. Skirts, white and as wide as the moon, are controlled by brown hands; the fabric breathes like the tides. My hand is locked with my cousin’s. We don’t want to get pulled into the sea of rainbow monster masks. I am four shades darker than her. The sun loves to marry my melanin and mosquitoes bed my blood. You’re just too sweet, says my cousin.
My cheek itches and blossoms red from a bite. I am surrounded by hundreds, and it chooses me.
My abuela sees the little imperfection. A perfect, red circle. Un poco de Jesus will fix this, she says.
I want to say: When has he ever?
I follow her lead and link my free hand with hers. This is embarrassing. No one notices me in this chaos, yet I can feel hot blood pool in my face and sweat tarnish my temples.
A nun cups my face with her old, olive fingers. Santa María, Jesus, she says, ¡cura esta mejilla! I can barely hear her over the guitarra and the bongo and the maracas. She pushes my cheeks in like empanada dough, and she blesses me again. I see my cousin laughing. She tries to hide it with little hands cupped over her mouth. My abuela gives her a whap on the head and talks about Jesus curing all.
When I am turned away, I itch to the beat of the drum, the beat of my heart, a red flower at my fingertips. Later that night, I get bit three more times.
An Interview with Charlie Kenny by Emilee Meadors
On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about life right now?
I’d say a solid 9. I’m engaged, gonna get married soon, move to Boston, see my fiance. Moving out of my parents house. So nervous to move to a city I’ve never been to. No set job or apartment. Things are up in the air, I’m trying to keep a positive attitude about it.
What was your favorite memory from your time at Geneseo?
Last weekend I went to Rochester with some of my friends and then the next day we went swimming because Al and I had missed the Iris swim meet because we were in Rochester! So I’d say last weekend was definitely top notch. I feel like all of the movie nights I’ve had with my friends this semester have been just great.
What was your favorite piece that you submitted to Iris?
Oszmanthus and the Weird Wolf, was the title based off of a weird dream I had where I was the protagonist where there was a wolf hunt going on. I vividly remember pinning this wolf down for hours and having a weird connection to it. I haven’t written more than one piece for that story but I do plan on writing more of it at some point.
If your life was a musical, what would the marquee say?
Charlie Kenny the Musical about a Very Depressed Ghost
What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
I love catching animals. Like my childhood, my dad and my brother would go hunting which was them going into nature and grabbing snakes, lizards, and frogs. I would go with them cause I needed to get out of the house. I have tried to catch squirrels on campus but I always get yelled at by my friends.
What was your favorite Iris event to plan?
I think the first craft night was very fun, I really enjoy craft nights. I think it’s fun to just get together with a group of people and just hangout and just do our own activities. I love blasting music!
What’s your favorite book?
My favorite book is a duology called the Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. I really love the premise for it. It made me fall in love with the author Daniel Kraus. It made me realize my love for weird gore. It also made me realize what you can do with such an unlikeable protagonist. Zebulon Finch started my list of bastard boys that I want to punch in the face and give a big hug.
What’s your favorite time of day?
Night. It’s when I’m most awake. Mainly when I’m at my parents house and everyone else is asleep and I can do what I please. Play video games and crochet.
Dream country to visit?
Ireland, I really want to visit Ireland.
What’s the best surprise you’ve ever had?
As sappy as it is, being proposed to. Like I knew it was coming but I didn’t know the when or the how. I was so distracted that night too so I didn’t realize until he was down on one knee. It was so nice.
Do you have any tattoos and if so what’s your favorite?
I have a pokeball tattoo and a ghost sword tattoo. I think I’m gonna be a little preferential to the ghost sword because I think it’s a lot more detailed. It has a little less meaning than my pokemon tattoo but also kind of not because pokemon has always been one of my favorite things and I got this because I love swords and ghosts. Both have been very integral to my identity since I was a little kid. Whenever I would play games I would always have a sword in my hand and I’ve always identified with ghosts.
Would you be a good court jester?
Probably not because I feel like most of my jokes are references to things so it depends on what it is. I don’t think the King would appreciate me quoting the McElroys like twenty times or just like making the worst dick jokes that I can think of.
What’s your spirit animal?
Wolf. Love wolves
What does Iris mean to you?
Community and welcoming. Everyone in Iris has always made me feel very welcome, which I haven’t always gotten in a lot of other clubs that I’ve joined on campus. Everyone’s very chill and nice and I love just having a community that’s based on one of my passions.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Books, my friends, podcasts
What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
What 3 people living or dead would you like to make dinner for?Daniel Kraus, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett. Those three are some of my favorite authors and biggest influences. I’d end up making them chicken francese because that is something I’ve made a couple times and really enjoy.
What’s your biggest fear in life?
Being alone. There’s this great podcast called the Magnus Archives which is all about fear and there’s 14 separate different fears and fear entities and one of them is called the lonely. As soon as I got to that episode it was just “oh, oh this is me.”
Favorite candle scent?
Lavender. I have a lavender body soap and a body spray.
What’s your current TV obsession?
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and also Our Flag Means Death. I’m on part 4 of Jojo and I’m rewatching Our Flag for the third time. It’s a really great pirate show about blackbeard and the gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet and how they fall in love.
Who has made the largest impact on you here at Geneseo?
Career wise Dr. Almomani because I’ve been doing research with him for the past two years and he's made me really understand my love for sustainability and I want to continue sustainability research in some sort of way or form if I can. He’s really encouraged me on my mathematics work and made me feel a lot more confident in that field which is hard when you’re not AMAB or a man at all, it’s so difficult. Especially when you’re a humanities major. It’s that thing where people are looking down at me because I’m also an English major and they think English majors are dumb.
My roommates Al and Bryce have helped me a lot in my personal growth and feeling okay with myself. Being really good friends and providing a good sense of community and so much levity, they’re so kind.
I’m really good at guessing voice actors in shows.
Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
I think actually coming to school here because in Boston I’m going to be 2 ½ hours away from my sister but going to Geneseo I’m over six hours away from my family so I have no close family nearby, I was kind of alone here, I didn’t have any friends going into it. Going to Boston, I’ll live with my fiance so I will at least have somebody there. Coming into Geneseo I vaguely knew Al through facebook. We both posted messages looking for roommates and we’re both like “oh you’re cool, we should room together” but I didn’t talk to him much because I was so anxious and awkward coming into college that it was the most terrifying thing that I did.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Creative, attentive, observant
Part A: Favorite piece of clothing you own?
I have two black mock necks, one is a long sleeve and one is sleeveless and I love them both to death. I would wear them constantly if I could.
Part B: Does it embody any meaning to you?
Every nonbinary character I’ve ever seen has this sleeveless mock neck or a longsleeve mockneck so I wear it and I’m like “I feel so gender right now.
What is one of your good and bad guilty pleasure music artists?
Bad: Amanda Palmer's music. Amanda Palmer sucks as a person but unfortunately I really love her songs. I’m listening to “My Alcoholic Friends” a lot on Spotify because it is so nice.
Good: I listen to the RWBY Soundtrack a lot. RWBY is something that influenced me a lot as a kid and was one of my favorite shows for so long. RWBY is one of those shows where I can make fun of it, me and my friends can make fun of it, but nobody else (haha).
Superpower you would want?
What’s inspiring you in life right now?
Honestly the future. I’m inspired by things that are to come to do good now.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
This is from my therapist, “Allowing yourself to feel your emotions and fully experience them, even if it’s anger or sadness it’s still good to feel everything. I made jokes a lot that I never cry and it’s because I would block out and avoid crying for so long which is not a good thing to do!
Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
“Your worst outcome is not going to happen, also please go to therapy.”
What muppet are you?
How do you define beauty?
How you feel about yourself, your own confidence.
What art style speaks to you the most?
I recently read On a SunBeam by Tillie Walden and I love her artwork so much, it’s so beautiful. There’s this comic on Tapas about a girl who lucid daydreams called Dream Constellation, it’s so nice.
DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS ROUND OF QUESTIONING
What location encountered in the campaign has your character felt the most “at home” in, or just generally liked the most?
If your character had time to pick up any artisan’s tools, game set, instrument, etc., what would it be?
Oh thieves tools baby, I want to break into shit.
What battle in the campaign has been most memorable to your character?
Prose that I took last year. I did a lot of great writing in that.
What role would your character play in the “Five Man Band” structure?
I think I would be the smart guy or the leader surprisingly.
What treasure/item/artifact that your character has collected during the adventure is the most important to them?
The power and treasure that is friendship, I’ll be cheesy. :)
Does your character think more with their heart or their brain?Depends on the situation. It’ll usually be heart.
What is your character’s biggest pet peeve?
Is there any particular weapon, item, etc. that your character longs to find?
The raging, poisoning, flaming sword of doom. This is specifically from a DND podcast that I want so badly.
Is your character the most swayed by ethos, pathos, or logos?
I think logos
What makes your character feel safe?
A nice cozy bed
What major arcana tarot card best represents your character?
Death as change. Over the course of this campaign there’s been a lot of change.
Who is your character’s biggest rival?
Denise Battles. My own propensity towards procrastination, actually write that down too.
What is your character’s relationship with magic? Are they scared of it, wish to know more about it, indifferent to it?
Want to know more.
What, currently, is your character the most curious about?
The next boss in the campaign.
END OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS ROUND OF QUESTIONING
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Coffee can be a lot sweeter to me, tea is a little too bitter.
What’s your favorite board game?
Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness. You play as different DND monsters and then the game is to just kill everyone else.
What’s the weirdest word in the English language?
I think malaise is very weird, I love it. It just sounds weird and it plays in my mouth weird. It fills me with such joy to say and to spell but then like it means melancholy.
Best compliment you’ve ever received?
I was once in a Hot Topic with a friend and some random person came up to me and said “Hi, I just want to say you look really beautiful, have a good day.” I think about it all the time.
If you made a documentary, what would it be about?
I think I would want to make it about probably some sort of author that I really enjoy, maybe Neil Gaiman. “The making of” for how he made a book or series that he created.
Last piece of content you consumed that made you cry?
Internally cry was probably Our Flag Means Death.
Your affirmation for today?
Get work done! You’re almost done
Any final comments about your time with Iris Magazine?
I hope they’re gonna allow alumni to submit cause I’ll definitely keep submitting. I’m excited to see where Iris is going to go in the future. It’s not even in its first full year yet and I feel Iris has done a lot of amazing things that's produced such beautiful work that I'm really excited to see where it goes.
Thank you Charlie, Iris wishes you the best of luck in your future campaigns!