Why it hurts so much to lose Anthony Bourdain

Every time I hear about a suicide I hurt. While I have never been suicidal myself, I have been so unhappy with my life that starvation seemed like an appropriate response. And some of my closest friends have encountered similar struggles, where everything in life feels impossible. So, I know the pain, and I know how difficult it can be to love someone who is feeling that pain.

I have been particularly torn up about Anthony Bourdain though. It’s not that I was a huge fan of Bourdain’s; I never watched his TV shows and I’ve read only a few chapters of Kitchen Confidential. (I do watch a lot of CNN though, so I’ve seen enough commercials for his shows to last me a lifetime.)

Maybe a week ago my boyfriend joked with me, after seeing another Parts Unknown commercial, “What will happen when Bourdain has visited everywhere in the world?” To which I responded, “He will always find new places.”

And I suppose it hurts so much to hear that Bourdain is gone because it means that even the man who got to travel the world, meeting new people, exploring new places, and trying new foods, couldn’t do it anymore. He had seen enough. He had had enough. There was nowhere else he thought he could go, so he left.

Aside from that sad realization – that even the most privileged and free among us can feel vulnerable and trapped – I liked that Bourdain was a bad ass who didn’t seem to give any fucks, and wasn’t afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I like to think that I don’t give too many fucks, and he exuded a confidence that did not verge into condescending narcissism.

I’ve read a ton of think pieces now about Bourdain, and many of them mentioned how he taught Americans to explore beyond our comfort zone. His show was a great demonstration of how much we actually have to bond over, despite all the rhetoric and noise that tells us we should isolate ourselves from anyone who is different.

On top of Bourdain genuinely being interested in other people and their lives, Bourdain care about the people who are so often overlooked in the restaurant industry. He cared about the migrant workers. He cared about the busboys and the dishwashers. Even more than that, Bourdain was self-aware enough to know that he had made mistakes, and wanted to correct for them. He used his privilege to stand up for others. And in a world of negativity and selfishness, it’s reassuring to know that there are still people who care for others.

I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain. I wouldn’t even really consider myself a big fan. But I’m going to spend some time over the next few days thinking about the good that he did and how much he cared. And remind myself that it’s often those who care so much, who are giving so much of themselves, are hurting themselves.

Reach out if you need help or have help to give.

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I want Obama back.

I gave up social media – Twitter and Facebook – for Lent. So it was only through Washington Post email alerts that I heard about the shooting in Parkland, Florida. It didn’t really register to me what had happened until I got home, turned on CNN, and was flooded with footage.

Hysterical parents.

Teenagers running for their lives.

A suspect put into the back seat of a police car.

It shook me harder than other recent mass shootings. I’ve seen the cable news coverage of too many of these shootings to be truly shocked, but this one disturbed me greatly. Maybe it’s because school is supposed to be a safe place, but I know that it’s not. Maybe it’s because I have a cousin who is 14, a freshman in high school, and I cannot imagine losing her. Maybe it’s because those students are only a few years younger than the ones I teach. I think of the potential, the lives cut short and it cuts me to my core. I prayed. That’s all I could think to do.

And as I watched the coverage, I wondered, “Where is the President? What is he doing?” The answer is not providing any comfort to those who are mourning, and just as importantly, not providing any solutions to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. I’m glad that I’m not on social media right now, because I don’t want to know how little Trump cares. I don’t want to know what he’s doing instead of leading the country.

It’s moments like this that make me miss Obama. Was he perfect? Of course not. But I at least felt like he cared. Trump… does he care about anyone but himself? That’s not evident to me.

So for now, I revert back to Obama consoling us in our grief.

How do you teach a neo-Nazi?

Circulating around my corner of academic Twitter yesterday was a Southern Poverty Law Center guide for students on how to deal with the alt-right. It’s well done (shout out to SPLC – they are awesome and if they are hiring I’d drop everything to work for them!) and I’m glad it’s out there. But as someone who will be teaching full-time for the first time this fall, questions I never thought I would have to answer has been spinning around in my head for the past couple days:

What do you do with alt-right students in your classroom? How do you teach a neo-Nazi?

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Charlottesville

On Saturday, while I was busy collecting my diploma, shit was going down in Charlottesville. When I met up with my partner after the ceremony, he asked me if I had seen any of the news alerts. Umm… no. I was graduating. Also, my phone died.

He told me someone had died.

WHAT?! EXCUSE ME?!

I watched CNN that morning and they were talking about what might happen, but someone dying never crossed my mind. I guess violence never really crossed my mind. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t expect violence because it was white people marching. I think violence around protest and I think of violence against black and brown bodies.

It wasn’t until Sunday that I really started to process what had happened. And while my thoughts on what happened are, I’m sure, not unique, I need to write them out.

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Trying to write in the age of Trump

I’m pretty bad at procrastinating. Well, I’m good at procrastinating, and bad at getting things done. There’s always a desk drawer to be organized or an email to read and respond to. But lately, my productivity has taken a dive, because I am constantly on high alert, ready for the next Trump tweet, or the next leak from the White House.

It’s nuts. It’s a huge waste of my time when I should be applying for jobs, or conducting research, or worrying about jobs and research.

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