Meet Our New Intern: Izzy Astuto

One of my most iconic, (although difficult to call a favorite) childhood memories is from third grade, during one of our many English periods. I excelled in English, and I refused to let anyone in the class forget it, least of all our teacher. I remember her as this cartoony, over-the-top villain, always on the hunt to find a way to drain us of our creativity and brainpower. As she taught us another soul-sucking lesson on sentence structure or basic spelling, I groaned loudly, banging my head on the desk.

“This is useless, you know!” The teacher glared me down, but I refused to let her get a word in edgewise. “I know all this already! I don’t want to just have to sit through another boring lecture about nothing!”

And with that, I walked out of the classroom, leaving my classmates giggling and my teacher sputtering behind me. I hid out in the counselor’s office the next few days, avoiding class like the plague. The counselor tried to convince me to go back to class in every way she knew how, but I wasn’t easily swayed. She resorted instead to teaching me breathing exercises to avoid letting my anger erupt out of me in the future.

Eventually, my parents and the school came to an agreement that would keep me in class, while also making sure I didn’t continue to undermine my teacher’s power over us. During every English block for the rest of the year, I was allowed to camp out in the back of the room with my Kindle, reading whatever I wanted as long as I promised to cease the disruptions. It was the perfect deal to me, for the time being anyway.

I never really did stop making disruptions, though, in third grade and beyond. I was a difficult kid, and I loved fighting back against any system holding me down, whether that was the library’s limit of only five books checked out at a time, or my conservative Mennonite school’s beliefs around queer people. I always knew I was different, but in eighth grade when my school did the musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and I was cast as Schroeder, crossdressing and being fawned over by a girl every night, I began to unravel just how different I truly was. Once I had that at least halfway figured out, I unleashed weeks of pestering students and teachers alike to debate my hours of research on homosexuality and the Bible that proved just how right I was.

But throughout it all, the one place I always knew I could escape to, when even I needed a break from the constant fighting and pleading for someone to understand all the fire raging in my little prepubescent body, was the written word. I devoured every book I could get my hands on from the ripe old age of five, beginning to write not too soon after. I wrote incessantly, and I’ve never really stopped. While my writing has certainly shifted form and style over the years, I believe that my desire to carve out a place for myself in this world has never wavered.

Izzy Astuto (he/they) is a writer currently majoring in Creative Writing at Emerson College. When not in Boston for college, they live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His work has previously been published by Hearth and CoffinSage Cigarettes, and Renesme Literary, amongst others. When not writing, he can often be found watching movies and crocheting.

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