Letter From the Editor: Transitions

Letter From the Editor: Transitions

Kate Jane Villanueva
Media Staff

American rock band My Chemical Romance announced their breakup on March 22nd, 2013. I was 12 years old at the time. In the aftermath, I spent a mere decade obsessively watching whatever concert clips I could manage to get my chipped-black-polish-tipped fingers on – however grainy the footage. By the most conservative estimates I’ve seen the 2006 tour documentary Life on the Murder Scene well over a hundred times, and I’ve watched their 2011 Reeding and Leeds set in it’s entirety at least once a month since its original air date. Now, a full two years after purchasing tickets to their 2020 (turned 2022) reunion tour (which was such a high-stakes endeavor I may or may not have skipped class to ensure success), I can say I’ve seen Ray Toro shred the “Thanks for the Venom'' guitar solo with my own eyes. After getting “Helena” lyrics tattooed on my arm four hours beforehand, no less. 

They closed the show with a song called “Kids from Yesterday” and for the first time all night, I found my mind wandering. I thought about when I was 14 and started to realize societal notions of gender and sexuality didn’t align neatly with my life or my brain, the way “Mama,” “Disenchanted,” and “DESTROYA” had immediately rose to the top of every Spotify playlist I had made. When I experienced my first (at the time devastating) heartbreak at the hands of a girl one year later, and I blasted “I Don’t Love You” loud enough to bust an eardrum or two, I found elusive comfort. When I was a very lonely first-year student here at UVA, I didn’t have anyone to hang out with on Halloween, or anywhere to go – until I got a Twitter notification that a certain band was getting back together. As Gererd Way sang in the encore “When we were young, we used to say / That you only hear the music when your heart begins to break / Now we are the kids from yesterday” 

Transitional times come in many sizes and shapes, carrying different implications and associated emotional states. While it may feel suffocating to start a new stage of life, or come to terms with the fact that maybe life isn’t going to be as easy as you expected when you were 12 years old, there’s always a bigger picture. There’s always a throughline that will take you somewhere you never expected, like perhaps a concert arena in Philadelphia filled to the brim with roughly 15,000 other people who care for a song like “Helena” as deeply and spiritually as you do. 

In this first issue of Iris 2022-2023, we delve into all sorts of transitions and adjustments. How do we navigate life events – in college, at home, in the wider world – and what meets us on the other side? Miriella Jiffar reflects on first-year angst and second-year acclimation, showing how a simple heartfelt phone call gave her permission to let go and move on, in “Metamorphosis.” Bailey Middleton spins an escapist fantasy as she contemplates the overwhelming nature of collegiate life in “I Wish I Were a Ladybug.”

Turning twenty shakes up Cheyenne Butler’s sense of who she is and hopes to be, but she knows one thing for sure: her future involves the abundance and adventure she describes in “Miss Twenty-Something.” In “Childhood Continuing: Reflecting on My Love for My Little Pony,” Kiki McLaughlin asks, when is it time to put aside “childish things,” what’s lost in the process, especially when you’re a middle-school kid confronting toxic online communities that turn a childhood love into something twisted? 

What feels worse, the angry hurt of a romantic breakup, or the bottomless sorrow of losing a family  pet? Eryn Rhodes mourns her beloved cat and explores the permutations of grief in “I Have Felt Grief Before.” A dancer with quirks? A “sorority girl” who’s frayed around the edges? When, Hailey Robbins, wonders, will she ever be “Woman Enough?”

What’s it like to identify as transgender – and to live that identity day-to-day at UVA? Jasmine Wang speaks with three students who share their journeys and experiences in “Talking Trans at UVA”

Special thanks to Addie Gilligan, Iris Publisher, for helping Iris become more widely read and recognized; Mary Esselman, Program Coordinator, for her patient guidance; and KJ Villanueva for supplying all the beautiful art for this cycle. 

Thank you for tuning into the first Iris issue of the semester. I hope you are looking forward to many more, I know I am.