A garden walk between love and hate

Originally performed at Tuesday Funk, September 1, 2020

This is a story about the power of love and nurturing during hard times. It’s also a story about hate, and how sometimes hate is transformative, sometimes liberating.

I know that in these divisive times. talking about embracing hate doesn’t feel constructive, but please bear with me, I think I’ve got something going here.

But before I get into the hate part, let me take you back a bit to the nurturing bit. Like a lot of people, I took up gardening as a hobby during this past spring under lockdown. It was honestly a hobby that I’ve been putting off for several years: I have plants and I’ve barely kept them alive in the past but what I thought was the lack of a green thumb actually had more to do with lack of time. I travel a lot for my job so the time it takes to plant, and water and nurturing seedlings into healthy plants, I usually spent vegging out in front of the TV after a flight.

While lockdown surely sucks, the upside of it is being grounded and stuck in my apartment gave me time to commit to gardening. It started out simple enough, with a tomato plant and a pepper plant that I got from an online plant shop called Bloomscape, and a few herbs  – basil, cilantro, mint, lavender – from another online place called Back at the Roots. (This isn’t an ad, by the way, I’m bringing them up to make a point a bit later.) Things started out simple enough for me and the nascent gardener life, but as someone with a low-key addictive and generally hyper-fixated personality, things pretty quickly spun out of control.

I got really excited about my herbs but I’m impatient. Luckily. Back at the Roots sells micro greens, which are ready to harvest in 7-10 days. While tending to my tomato and pepper plants and harvesting a few rounds of micro greens, I got even more excited about basil. Luckily a local shop called City Grange, sold an edible plant grab bag (with accompanying Zoom Class) with a fuckton of basil, stuff I had no clue existed like cinnamon basil and African basil, and new to me herbs like marjoram and nasturtium, and herbs I love but no clue how they actually grew, like lemongrass. Then, after cooking with my delicious herbs, I got excited about mocktails. (Herbs make for delicious mocktails, everyone. Muddle that shit  get some simple syrups and go to town.)

You know what goes great in mocktails? Fruit. Luckily an online shop called Bushel and Berry had a sale on blueberry bushes. I also experimented with kale and lettuce, in the early part of the summer, but quickly learned two things, one: it’s pretty hard to grow greens from seeds, and two, heat makes things  pretty touch and go for lettuce, I had no clue what bolting was before this summer, but my lettuce did a LOT of that. Bolting, for the gardening uninformed, is when a crop starts to prematurely flower and seed, which often makes the leaves bitter and inedible. Again, all of this was new to me, but you live and you learn.

All of this is a very long way of bringing this story back to hate – and to my mortal enemy, a squirrel that spends a lot time harassing me and stealing the fruits of my labor  on the back porch. I refuse to give that little asshole the dignity of a name, so That Squirrel will have to do. This little fucker has been harassing me, taunting me, disrespecting me for a couple of years now. I’ve been at the same apartment for the past 3 years and working remotely for that same amount of time, and That Squirrel has been a pain my ass since I got here. How do I know it’s the same squirrel? I just KNOW.

In previous years his tactics were more discrete. he’d chatter at my window, run underfoot as I take out the garbage. When he really wanted to be an asshole, he’d tear at packages left out on the back porch.

Then, later this summer, the little asshole got cocky, When I got my blueberry plant I’d see that beady-eyed little jerk sniffing around the ripening berries and attempting to snatch a few. To make things worse, he was pretty fearless, yelling at him, spraying water at him, throwing things at him did very little to phase him, he’d just stare at me as if *I* had inconvenienced *his* day. And it only got worse, with him creeping around my pepper and tomato plants, sometimes right in full view! I often work on my back porch and one morning I saw THAT SQUIRREL creeping down the stairs to come at my blueberries in the side of my screen and it took everything for me to throw my laptop at him.

It all came to a head with my tomato plant, the plant that I had been nurturing for since April was finally starting to bear fruit in the heat of summer. I watched and watered  – and finally had  a few tomatoes ready to ripen. There was one particular tomato I watched over with interest as I watched it grow plump and red, I was so excited to enjoy my delicious harvest, especially as a first time patio gardener. I planned to eat it for lunch, sliced, with some mozzarella and basil from my garden. Something told me the night before I planned to eat it to just go ahead and take it in, the squirrel had not been around lately – and they don’t like tomatoes anyway, right? So I went to sleep with the goal of picking my prized tomato the next morning.

But alas, like Mr McGregor in the Peter Rabbit books, I was thwarted. I woke up the next day to do my morning watering and found my prize tomato MISSING. That squirrel STOLE MY TOMATO.  And to add insult to injury, the little jerk took two bites out of it at beats, and abandoned it on the top of one of the deck beams, prominently displayed as if to taunt me, like Ed Stark’s head on a pike in Game of Thrones. l was pissed the entire weekend, and clearly seeing as though I wrote an entire essay about it, I can’t let it go. I quickly learned, as a newbie gardener, that this kind of brazen squirrel theft is par for the course when it comes to gardening. A friend on Instagram welcomed me into the ranks of true gardener after I announced my beef with the backyard squirrel.

But I will admit a lot of the drama of this moment was more about having the comfort of IMG_20200821_112429595something low-stakes to obsess over. Even as I luxuriate in my petty backyard rodent  battle, I know all of this is my own response to  the trauma of this moment.

My gardening fixation came at a time where I have virtually watched friends grieve their loved ones, watch helpless as friends fall ill, recover, and some NOT recover.  Of seeing my family virtually and not being able to hug or comfort them. I tended and cooed over my plants while reconciling what it means to live in a failed state during a global pandemic, doing the best I can, while trying to comfort and be of help while living through the trauma  of surviving an administration with no plans but for citizens to fend for ourselves at best, or die at worst.

The backyard squirrel is, honestly, an amusing distraction while struggling with my own grief and anger about the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless other Black Americans in cities across the country. Feeling the pain and helplessness of living through a pandemic that has disproportionately stolen black lives and caused disproportionate unemployment and economic catastrophe for Black people and other people of color.

Feeling helpless and small against those fears, having an enemy that  I *could* fight, or at the very least, yell at, is the kind of mundane conflict I need. Hating him, shouting at him, spraying things at him, makes me feel normal, makes me feel safe, makes me feel sane. Even though I’m not. These times aren’t normal or safe, and I definitely don’t feel sane. But to be honest I feel guilty that I have the relative privilege to be so invested in something as unremarkable as my back porch garden. I have the security of a full time job where I work from home, my loved ones are safe, even if I can only see some of them at a distance.

But having this escape, the small victories and frustrations of watching plants grow and protecting them from the local vermin, is something to keeps me focused and centered and makes me feel human. No matter what the next few months may bring – and I fear they will bring a lot that I’m not ready for –  having a space where my biggest troubles can be solved with peppermint oil and chicken wire is the balm my soul needs, and is so grateful for.


Producing Shows And Healing Trauma

originally performed at Miss Spoken, on March 25 2020

Back in January, I got together with a friend for the first time in about a year and a half. We caught up on a lot of the shit going in our lives, and we talked about our plans and dreams and goals and self-betterment for the coming year.

I was going to get back into writing music again, she was going to focus on housekeeping for her small business. It was gonna be a great, transformative year for both of us. We even got creative and made plans to produce our own live lit show together later in the year.

We said we were gonna “heal our trauma and produce shows” in 2020 and that stuck with me. It was my mantra for the year.

Well, March apparently had a WHOLE bunch of other plans for me, including producing NO shows this year –  more than likely – and about 200% more trauma!

And on my birthday month, no less!

The disintegration of my hopes and dreams for the month of March were reflected in via my regularly changing Twitter display name, which started off triumphantly as “Keidra’s month”, then changed to “Keidra’s month is CANCELLED” and then shifted to “Keidra says STAY HOME”

Based on the news this week, I’m trying to come up with a pithy way for my Twitter display name to say “Keidra says the American healthcare system is shit and I refuse to let people’s lives become collateral damage in order to line the pockets of the country’s wealthiest people”

So needless to say, I’ve been riding the struggle bus this month, as we all have been, seated at least six feet away from each other, but riding the same bus nonetheless.

To be honest with you though, having a birthday month in quarantine hasn’t been completely disruptive to my life in general. I’ve been working remotely full-time for about the past five years, so spending most of my days in silence and learning to socialize with my co-workers through sharing memes and Spotify playlists on Slack has been my norm for awhile now.

I also have a disability that makes getting around at night hard for me so I wasn’t making big out of the house party plans for my birthday anyway. In many ways I was made for this moment, for good or for ill.

And while I am reluctant to see a bright side for any of this, I can’t help but notice that finally, the rest of the working world has acknowledged what disabled and chronically ill people have been saying for years: that remote working, for many professions isn’t an impossibility, or *that* much of a disruption, but it takes a global pandemic to see these as easy, and obvious accommodations. So I’m looking forward to if/when this ends, throwing down for this issue.

The other bright side, if you can call it that, is seeing the ways that my family, my friends, my co-workers have all taken the time to be gentle with ourselves and each other. That is, once the panic wore off a bit. We all check in with each other a bit more often, we ask “how are you doing” and actually listen to the answer, we send love and comfort and support whether it’s physical, virtual. through snail mail, through pictures and videos of our pets, our babies, or in my case, my k-pop plushie dolls.

(Not to derail this entire essay but if you wanna see good-ass content follow my instagram @keidrachaney or my Twitter @lilguyzworld – that’s guyz with a z – because I am about to make some epic k-pop plushie music videos this weekend because I have a lot of creative energy that I need to channel into something with low stakes.)

So anyway, my birthday is on the last day of this month and to be honest, things are changing so rapidly I don’t dare to make any firm birthday wishes or even set plans for this year, outside of enjoying some wine and watching Netflix, but my hope, is that as best we can, we can continue to fight against the socialized urge to be productive, and towards leaning into the very human need for connection, to love and be loved, and come out of this together with self and community care as our shared responsibility.

So I guess between the k-pop doll videos and my wish, maybe my goal of producing shows and healing trauma will come true in 2020 after all.


A Love Letter to Hair Love

Originally performed at the 1st Annual Naw-scars show in Chicago on Feb 7, 2020

I first heard about Hair Love, the Oscar-Nominated animated short, in 2017, when it was a Kickstarter campaign from director Matthew Cherry. I saw the pitch for it on Twitter, thought the idea was cute, threw some money at it, and kept it moving, not really thinking about it until it was released late last year.

If you haven’t seen it, Hair Love is a short film (as well as a children’s book) that celebrates Black natural hair and hairstyles through the story of a young dad doing his daughter’s hair for the first time. 

The movie is focused on Zuri, a little girl, about 6 or 7, attempting to do her own hair. She’s ambitious, and she tries to create a variety of styles for herself: afro puffs, intricate braids and twists. And her loc-wearing dad does his best to guide her through the process of styling her glorious cloud of hair, with the help of a YouTube tutorial, voiced by Issa Rae (from HBO’s Insecure)

There’s a heart-tugging plot twist at the end that I won’t spoil for you, but it’s charming, sweet- and the kind of representation I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.

Before I saw the film, I thought that Hair Love would be an important and affirming film for young kids, but not for me as an adult, necessarily. I’ve been wearing my hair chemical and straightener-free for the past 20 years. I grew up in a household that accepted and embraced black natural hairstyles. My mother didn’t allow me to chemically straighten or color my hair until well into high school – and I didn’t stick with chemically processed hair long after that, going back to natural hair and braids as soon as i entered college.

In the 1980s and 90s, however, while having natural hair wasn’t uncommon, it also wasn’t as normalized as it is now either. In the age of Jheri curls and Soft Sheen and Dark and Lovely, and all of the other popular chemical treatments for black hair at the time, to wear natural hair, the hair growing out of your own head, was seen as a conscious choice – often seen as political, even radical. And to do so came at risk. Risk of losing employment, risk of profiling in public spaces, risk of outright discrimination.

Even so, I didn’t grow up with stigma around my natural hair, at least not in my family. While I didn’t grow up with my father and YouTube as a guide, like Zuri did, my grandmother – and Sophisticate’s Black Hair Care magazine – did the work of teaching me to make magic out of my own hair, creating styles that made me feel elegant and mature: braids, up-dos, and the like. Growing up in a diverse high school also meant seeing all sorts of hair textures and styles that looked like mine and feeling affirmed that my own hair was beautiful as is. But I ]still related, very intimately, to Zuri’s frustration, to love your hair as it is but to not necessarily know what to do with it.

I’ll always be mindful of how important and affirming it is to have the presence of someone you love to help you guide you in the journey of embracing all of who you are.

Having support in that journey is still so important, especially for black kids and young adults. Today in 2020, wearing black natural hair is still stigmatized and sometimes even punished, in some areas, like the corporate world or private schools.

Even now, employers have – and do – threaten the careers of Black Americans who wear their hair in styles deemed unprofessional or unseemly, simply because they are not straightened, or white-appearing.  

Just in the past few months, actress Gabrielle Union was critiqued by her employers, the producers of TV show America’s Got Talent, for her “too Black” hairstyles. 

This year, a Texas student was told to cut his locs or risk suspension from school and being barred from his own graduation. It took until last year, with California’s CROWN ACT, for actual legislation to be passed at the state level to prohibit such discrimination of hair style and hair texture. 

So it’s not “just hair” for us. 

And even for me, what it means to love your own natural hair, as it is, without apology… but with joy and freedom and creativity, isn’t a simple journey in a culture that says your own hair isn’t good enough. It is still something that feels uncommon, tentative, fragile. 

But Hair Love, in it’s slice of life simplicity, makes that journey real, tangible, normal, and filled with love. And whether or not it wins an Oscar this weekend, the message it sends will last a lifetime. 




Writing to Get My Life

It’s the first week of 2020, so of course I am feeling at once overwhelmed and refreshed. Thinking about possibilities while also trying to catch up (at least with work).

It’s been a good opportunity for me to think about what I want to do and what I don’t want to do, this year, and in the coming years. One thing that I learned about myself in the past year is that I have really missed my own personal writing more than I ever imagined.

I did a bit of culture writing for publication in 2019 that I was incredibly proud of, and I started journaling regularly again, and I realized that was more satisfying that about 99% of the time I spent writing threads on Twitter. (I guess anyone could have predicted that but I guess I needed the reminder.) So, with a bit of inspiration from friends, I made the commitment to write more, whether it was for myself, for publication, for performance, I didn’t really care what it was for. And to be honest, my favorite writing in the past decades of my writing life and career have the writing that I’ve done for myself. It sounds a bit narcissistic to say that some of my most cherished writing is my most selfish writing, but I do social media for money so I guess it’s just who I am.

Anyway, I’ve had a few years of not really focusing on my own writing, after years of doing The Learned Fangirl and freelancing, and then moving into full-time, very demanding social justice communications work, there’s just never been the appropriate time or brain-space for me. But I’ve been feeling the pull lately, especially as life online feels more noisy than ever, to carve out a space to refine my own changing – changed – voice and connect with the joy and community that writing provided me in the first place. I’m taking some classes at StoryStudio Chicago to help get my mojo back and I’m doing some outside stuff (that I’ll be sharing really soon) that I’m excited about.

I also have an essay being published in a book about chronic illness, called The Things We Don’t Say: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Truths, that along with my culture writing feels like the next step in my evolution into…whatever kind of writing I want to do next.

So… anyway, things feel fresh and fun for the first time in a long while, so if you don’t see me loitering on Twitter or FB, just look for me here, because I’d like to get more active here again. (On a similar note, I decided to move my posts on disability from the (S)lightly Disabled blog back to here. For some reason it feels more comfortable for me to keep posting here. Soooo, Happy New Year. Here’s to more creative and fulfilling times.

slightly disabled

I don’t always know how to answer when people ask ”how are your eyes?”

[originally posted on (S)lightly Disabled]

Having an invisible disability or chronic illness often means a lot of things get left unsaid when you interact with others – friends, acquaintences, co-workers, even people you love. Sometimes it’s about not wanting to “kill the vibe” or be a burden. Sometimes it’s about internalized guilt or even internalized ableism. Talking about one’s chronic illness can often be seen as being “negative” or “defeatist.” Sometimes even well-meaning people don’t really know what to say in response.

So it’s easier to not say anything.

When my vision loss started to get worse. I spent a few years being avoidant. I used to be a lot more social – even kind of a partier, I love live music and concerts – but increasing anxiety about night vision made it harder for me to leave the house at night, so I stopped doing it.

But another thing I stopped doing as much is just hanging out casually with friends. It started to make me nervous, especially when people asked me how my eyes were doing.

It wasn’t their fault, and usually the person asking was simply being curious and thoughtful. It was just hard for me to answer because the answer was rarely “fine” or “better.” It was often “worse” or “frustrating”. Or at the very least it was “unchanged from the last time I saw you.” It’s hard to talk about the daily reality because… it sucks and it’s annoying and it’s NOT fun. It’s not fun to talk about how the changing weather irritates my eyes and makes my scleral lenses painful to wear. Or how digital eye strain makes me wish I had chosen another line of work but I think it’s too late for me to switch careers. Or how I feel sheepish asking a stranger to read a sign for me. Or that my insurance denied my claim again, and I don’t have $2000 on hand to pay for my medically necessary lenses. I mean sometimes I do, and usually the answer is a brief, awkward silence, and “I’m sorry.” A real buzzkill.

So it’s easier to not say anything.

I’m not saying this to make my friends or acquaintances feel bad for asking me about my eyes. I always appreciate that people think of me. It’s just hard to know what to say that’s both polite and honest. Because I don’t wanna sound like a complainer. But I also don’t want to lie about what’s actually going on in my life, because it does affect my life. It’s the reason why I’m often tired at the end of a long day of work, or why I cancel plans at the last minute.

I think about this quite a bit and I don’t really have answers for what to do. But even writing about what goes through my head every time someone asks me about “how my eyes are doing” is more than I’ve ever done before, so it’s a start. I hope one day talking about chronic illness and disability as normal, as an every day occurrence, becomes more normalized because I think having the room to have “not -so-great-days” and to say the things left unsaid would help a lot of people more than polite silence ever could.


My 2019 Hugo Awards Eligibility post

I’m not great at promotion, especially when it comes to my own work. (It’s not that I don’t think my work is worthy I just don’t like calling attention to it.


It’s SF/F awards seasons and I think this year in particular I’ve been doing some writing about fan culture, identity, and capitalism that I’m proud of and plan to expand on in 2020. 

So I’m throwing my hat into the ring. Here’s some writing that I did this year that’s for consideration for the Hugo Awards best fan writer category:

I’m so pleased and honored to do this writing with Uncanny Magazine and Fansplaining and can’t say enough how grateful I am to their editors for helping to shape my ideas.

“What It Feels Like for a Fangirl in the Age of Late Capitalism” – Uncanny Magazine

While content companies are certainly more sophisticated about fandom behavior these days, fans are often still a step ahead when it comes to content, evolving with platforms and using tags, memes, and insider lingo to share ideas, insights, and humor among ourselves. Not only do fans comment on pop culture, we ARE pop culture, sometimes more interested in each other’s reactions to media content than the content itself. Many times, we fans are the content, and fans themselves develop fandoms. It’s like fan content Inception. As a result, modern fans don’t interact with media content companies as if they are gatekeepers in a traditional sense, but rather participants in a symbiotic relationship: you give us what we want, we reward with money/consumption of your product.

“The Empowered Stan” – Fansplaining

On Stan Twitter, loyalty and popularity are measured by public displays of support and by big engagement numbers for artists. This is often framed around monetary comparisons, like how well an artist charted on Billboard, how many YouTube or Spotify streams they have, or how many records they’ve sold (you’ll hear the phrase “[artist] outsold” a lot on Stan Twitter). Showing support on Stan Twitter means relentlessly boosting your fave—and often means treating anything perceived as a threat to their success like an attack.

“Confessions of an Adjacent Geek”– Uncanny Magazine

When I think about the current rules of engagement/consumption for fandom and what they’ve evolved into, I do sometimes wonder if there’s a room for the person I am now: a “lightly geeky,” casually interested fan with a history of being more highly engaged. It can feel disingenuous to be a “true-but-casual” fan, the kind of fan that drops in and checks out at one’s leisure, but still makes time to occasionally socialize and be present in public fandom spaces, but it especially stands out in spaces that make assumptions about the validity of your fandom and don’t necessarily make room for people like you in the first place.

Other stuff I did this year:

Here’s a podcast I did this year with the folks at Fansplaining about fan culture:

I was a keynote speaker at the Fan Studies Network North America conference this fall

Live Tweets from the conference can be found here:

I was interviewed for long-form writing publication Tortoise about stan culture, bullying in fandoms, and “unstanning” from a fandom

Though the Learned Fangirl is currently on hiatus I also want to highlight the more than 10 years of work we’ve done and the impact of our writers/podcasters so I just wanna shout that out, as always.

Thanks for your consideration.



What’s Up With Keidra – Fall 2019 Edition

Back to Osaka

So first off, I went back to Osaka in September, which was a blast. This was a culinary focused trip and I took back a lot of Japanese cooking tips and cookware (a tamagoyaki pan! A oshizushi box!) to experiment with recipes throughout the winter. It will probably be my last Japan trip for at least until 2021 so I did enough eating to last me for a couple of years, lol. Follow me on my IG if you wanna see pictures of my adventures.

Fan Studies Network Conference and The Learned Fangirl

I was the keynote speaker at the Fan Studies Network United States Conference last week. The Fan Studies Network is a community of scholars of fandom and pop culture communities. They meet yearly at universities in the United States and globally to share the latest research on pop culture fandom studies. It was very much an honor to speak and talk about the work The Learned Fangirl has been doing in this space for more than a decadel  You can see a thread of live tweets about my keynote here.

As for TLF, I announced in my keynote that The Learned Fangirl will be moving into archive mode (that is, no new articles will be published) but that I’ll still be writing and speaking about fandom issues. It’s been a long-ass ride but I’m happy to focus on writing independently and archiving 10 years of TLF as a guide for the next generation of fan scholars. (If you have any leads or interest in digital archiving, please hit me up, we have money to pay for a formal archiving project!)

We are also keeping our newsletter open, so follow us for writing there!

Articles and Essays

Speaking of articles, I have a couple of articles out and more to come. I wrote an article for the Fansplaining podcast about stan culture and the value of critique, called “The Empowered Stan” and I was quoted in an article for Tortoise about stan culture and what it means to leave (or be pushed out) of a fan community. Also watch out for an essay in the upcoming issue of Uncanny Magazine, and an essay in the book The Things We Don’t Say: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Truths.


Also watch out for more from me and Fred Sasaki in conjunction with Homeroom Chicago. We will be curating a series of events next year similar to the “Self-Care as Warfare” and “Working With Rage” events at the MCA and Hungry Brain. Fred curated an amazing event last month on the incarceration and resettlement of Japanese Americans after WWII. We really want to create some memorable events and conversations so if you are doing something in the city that people should be talking about (art, activism, etc.) let me know!



End of An Era

So I am speaking at the Fan Studies Conference this weekend. I’m actually doing the closing keynote, which is awesome, yet kind of surprising since I am definitely not a fan studies scholar and The Learned Fangirl has been on hiatus for nearly two years. But in working on my speech (which I am still not 100% sure about btw) I decided to update my own website, since it’s been awhile since I’ve done that too. And…wow I’ve been really writing a lot about fandom stuff…

And wow…I’m kind of done with it.

The last couple of years have been a real shift for me, for TLF, for fandom in general. When TLF started in 2007 there were no websites writing about fandom in the way that we were doing it: meta fandom, fandom history, etc. Now fandom talk dominates social media, digital publishing, it’s so much the focus of what we talk about in the public sphere and how we center conversation. And it’s …great.

But through it all, I’ve become a different person too. I got a job in reproductive justice. I got ANOTHER job in reproductive justice. I started doing more volunteering and activism focused on disability justice. I stopped doing my band… and I really REALLY started to miss my band. And … the work of keeping TLF alive stopped being something that I wanted to focus on. In an environment where publishing with 10 to 20 times the budget of TLF are folding it was hard for me to keep up the good fight, you know?

So… I’m retiring. At least TLF is. And I am too, a bit from fandom and geek stuff. I still feel like there’s tons to say about fandom, pop culture, ownership, capitalism. But I think there’s a ton of people and publications out there doing that work and I’m happy to pass the baton to them. The Learned Fangirl was awesome. We published and paid over 50 writers, mostly women and non-binary people of color.We spoke at conferences across the country. We got published in a book. Our work and the work our writers has been cited in dozens of other scholarly work. I’m super proud. But after 12 years both Raizel and I are ready to do some other things.We’re still fangirls.We’re still learned fangirls.We’re just retired learned fangirls. We can’t wait to show you what we are both up to next!





Dear Kim Jonghyun


A letter to Kim Jonghyun, a favorite musician of mine, who died on 12/18. Thanks to Letters to Jonghyun for inspiring this and allowing me to share.

Jonghyun, even though I don’t speak or write a word of Korean, your voice and your spirit so strongly spoke to me, I wanted to let you know that it had the power to transcend language and truly touch my heart.

It didn’t take much to see your talent. As soon as you opened your mouth to sing it was evident. My friend once told me it took approximately 12 seconds for me to fall in love with your voice, and it’s true. But your spirit? your lovely soul? That is the true treasure. Your empathy, your deep empathy for others, especially those who are different and outside of the “norm”, was so beautiful to witness. It radiated from you, from your smile, from your soft voice, from your skillful storytelling. You always said you loved to tell stories, and it showed not only in your lyrics but the way you sang like you put your heart and soul out on display.

I love your loyalty. I loved seeing your pride as a member of SHINee, your deep love of your members. I knew you meant it when you said SHINee would only disband if you could not physically be together.

I always felt a kinship to you because we are very similar: Stubborn Aries children. We love our mom and our big sister. I love that you are a big music NERD. (I loved hearing about the new music you were listening to, you were always so adventurous.) We both struggled with the darkness inside of us but always tried to enjoy every drop of life we could.

I saw that in you, and honestly, because I am older than you and made it through, I wanted so badly for you to know that you could too. That you *could* make it, especially with that big heart and supernova talent of yours.

And that’s the last thing I wanted to tell you. What I always wanted to say, but especially because you were so worried that you were lacking in your musical ability. You, Kim Jonghyun, are a once in a lifetime talent.  You have an almost uncanny ear for detail and complexity in melody, a preternatural understanding of how to make beautiful harmonies fit like hand in glove. That was you, Jonghyun. And trust me, we heard you. We noticed.

I want you to know that. And I want you to know that  even though I so wish you had stayed with us, I hope you’re in the light now. I think you will *still* change the music industry, but you definitely changed lives for the better. You have earned your rest, Jonghyun. We’ll take over from here.

Keidra Chaney (Chicago, USA)


What I’m up to

I’m going back to school to study accessibility.

I just thought i would bring it up when I talk about “classes” or whatever.  I decided that I wanted to get educated in web accessibility/accessible design last year when I had yet another meltdown about how hard it can be to do my computer-based job with a visual impairment and getting blank, but sympathetic stares.

I figured instead of bitching I can actually start speaking about accessibility in a more knowledgeable way outside of my own personal experience. My goal is to become a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies. And then what? I have no clue. I’m not really doing this for professional development as much as professional preservation, so I can speak up for myself and other people with disabilities. I am pretty excited either way.

I’m still working, I’m still running TLF, I’m not full time, and I am still in Chicago, for the time being, but if you don’t wanna hear me yap on about accessibility for the next year or so, i guess, this is your warning.