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Omens 

our current issue:

Welcome back to our winter edition of Iris, and our brand-new theme of omens. While our theme tends to be one associated with spooky figures, fuzzy dreams, and haunted signs from the beyond, keep reading to discover how this season might be more full of messages and meaning than the chilling themes of autumn past, and what these messages and meanings signify to us as a community of queer creators, writers, and artists.


~ Frances Sharples, Editor in Chief

Dear Iris,

 

    Hi! Hello. Welcome to December. While our theme, omens, tends to be one associated with spooky figures, fuzzy dreams, and haunted signs from the beyond, I would argue that December might be more full of messages and meaning than the chilling themes of autumn past.

 

    December is a month that tends to be heavy with emotional (and financial) significance. December has always been such a liminal and often trying month for me, and I think for many other people in my life. December means the end of the semester—exhaustive anticipation and late nights attempting to finish everything as quickly as possible regardless of how messy it ends up turning out. December means the start of the bitter cold, the precipice of the snow and slush that will surround us for what will seem like an eternity. December is a season of endings: a time of reflection as this year comes to a close, and we nervously embrace the opportunity for newness and growth. December itself has transformed into an omen of sorts—a month brimming with importance, impatience, apprehension, and fatigue.

Most significantly, December means the beginning of the holiday season—a season that is meant to embody love, belonging, hearth, and harmony. Those of us who lack any of those elements, and for whom those elements are freshly gone, can feel forgotten and lost. For me, December is often a reminder of the festive childlike joy that I seem to have grown out of; while, as an adult, I am grateful to be able to be with my family and have a warm bed to sleep in during the few weeks I get to spend at home, I grieve the all-consuming excitement that I used to feel every Christmas Eve.

 

    The commercialization of the holidays, obviously, does not aid anyone in releasing these reminders—advertisements emanating bliss and hominess pump the pressure of pure joy and contentment into the atmosphere, making any person whose emotions fall anywhere short of the painted joy of a Walmart catalogue feel like they’re failed the holidays (so go buy eight more things to ensure you get your Holiday Spirit ⓒ!).

 

    With all the godlike power that I possess via the internet, I invite you to release these expectations. The pressure that we put on ourselves to be the happiest that we’ve been all year during this season makes it more evident than ever that we may not actually feel this way—however, there is so much goodness outside of this expectation that often gets lost in the shuffle of final papers, heavy layers of snow, and holiday kerfuffles and tension. December is the end of the semester, but it is also the beginning of the first beautiful snowfalls. December is resentfully cold, but it is also the feeling of reprieve in entering a bustling storefront or overheated car to escape the whirlwinds of winter; it is blushing cheeks and noses and melting snowflakes on the eyelashes of those we love. December is the stress of the holidays, but it is also a point in time where we can be grounded in this moment and appreciate it for what it is; the moment does not have to be every bliss and jubilation that the catalogues promise, and it is okay to accept that for what it is. The moment is nothing more than that: a moment. Breathe that in—embrace the balance of all that has happened and all that will come, and allow December to be just that.

 

    As is true with any content found on the worldwide web, all of this is, a) easier said than done, and b) the advice of one, non-mental-health-educated person (and a rather anxious and sleep-deprived undergrad student at that). All of this being said, I know that I will finish this letter, feverishly edit it until I can hardly stand to look at it any longer, and then frantically move onto the seven other responsibilities that I need to tackle before getting another mediocre night of sleep cut-short. I know that I will spend at least some of my holiday feeling woeful, wishing that I still felt the same electric excitement on December 24th that I did years ago. I know that I will tap through my Instagram ads with angst, feeling guilty and frustrated that I cannot be as joyful as the models photoshopped into the perfect portrait of mirth. But, amidst all of that, I am grateful to be in the moment that I am in: I am grateful to be looking at the Christmas lights that my mom gave to me, and to be listening to my suitemates chatter as my friend assembles a gingerbread house that we will decorate later tonight. This is not the expansive enthusiasm that Walmart wants me to embody, but I am happy. I am content.

 

    I wish you every moment, reminder, and omen of peace.

 

Love,

Frances

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