Lazy Afternoon Reruns: “A Thousand Small Changes”

When I was younger, a teenager and twenty-something, I stayed angry almost all the time. It was exhausting, to me and – I think – to the people around me. This went on from middle school through my mid-twenties: an ongoing frustration with both large and small aspects of life in 1980s and ’90s Alabama, a place that had side-stepped the latter twentieth century. That culture urged itself upstream through a reactionary regression against modern civil liberties and by choosing tactless leaders seeking perhaps to be our next big charismatic— we had a governor who acted like a monkey to mock the teaching of evolution, a lieutenant governor who peed in a jug on the senate floor, and a small-town judge who refused to take down his Ten Commandments plaque. The backwards trajectory of my Deep Southern home state’s culture in the 1980s and ’90s, coupled with a daily torrent of minor bullying and badgering by its man-on-the-street advocates, pushed me – and lots of others who felt like I did – into a constantly defensive mindset that was usually accompanied by surly, biting sense of humor.

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