10.30.2014

If you don't already, you've gotta tune into Call Your Girlfriend, "a podcast for all the long-distance besties out there, brought to you by Gina Delvac, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow." I don't always agree with them (the episode on having kids seemed particularly tone deaf to me), but I love their friendship, their intelligence and wit, and the familiar awesomeness of strong female friendships. 

Recently read: "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio (YA. Great writing, great structure, great message(s)); "The Vacationers" by Emma Straub (I had very mixed feelings about this book. An easy and fairly enjoyable read, but some lack of character development, too pat an ending, and I just don't get the widespread praise for the novel.); "No Trace" by Barry Maitland (A good mystery, although I cringe every time I think about the title's cheesy double meaning); "Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir" by Liz Prince (100% awesomeness, recommended to all); "Bad Feminist: Essays" by Roxane Gay (This is Roxane Gay's year!); and, most recently, the excellent "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Image: source.

A friend sent me this, and I think its great: Ask Polly: Would He Love Me If I Were Prettier, Skinnier, and Sweeter?

Beautiful trailer for what looks like a powerful documentary about the Us-Mexico border.

There was a lot I appreciated about this essay by Mary H.K. Choi. "To be consumed by an eating disorder is to live for a vision of the future that will never be as great as you hoped it would be. It also hobbles any chance of enjoying the present." I looked up more of Choi's writing and loved this essay about her mom. Her recollection of being mean to her mother as a kid (the burger story) and "[i]f I were an actress and had to think of something sad to make me cry in a scene, I would think about this moment," made me choke up.

I don't usually listen to audiobooks, but someone reminded me of their existence recently and I finally took up ol' Audible.com on their never ending one free book offer. I've been listening to "Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned'" by Lena Dunham on my commute and as I putter aournd the house. At first, I wasn't sure that I could deal with hearing Lena Dunham reading the book. Her voice can be a little annoying and, well, it was all maybe too familiar. But by now (Audible tells me I'm on Chapter 21 of 62?), I'm hooked. The book is well structured, covers a lot of ground, and is clearly a product of a lot of hard work and love. I've teared up at the ways she sought identity through sex, at her essay about her rape, and her proud, sure description of her current relationship. Lena (she seems like a one name person now) is complicated and messy and imperfect but I like that she exists, and I'm glad she wrote (and read) this book. I like that this book made me revisit my 20s in ways that were uncomfortable but felt necessary and like it was a safe space, and I like that listening to her made me want to write. Whatever flaws she has (and I'm sure they pale in comparison to the hot mess I would've been had my 25 year old ideas been in the public light), I'm glad to be alive in a time when she is creating art, and engaging in public conversation, and I think there are worse things than being a sucker for the occasionally awkward, insistent message she is trying spread about supporting young women, and in the legitimacy of intimacy (with art, with yourself, and with others).

9.02.2014

[Note: I tried to put up posts various times in the last month, but it was hard to think about anything other than Ferguson and I didn't feel I had anything new to add to that conversation. Anyways, there are some non-Ferguson topics I felt like sharing as I head into September, so I'm back....]

I am LOVING "Call Your Girlfriend" a podcast between long distance besties that covers pop culture, feminism, bestie-ism, and Beyonce. It's so familiar and awesome and funny and smart and just what I never even knew I wanted!

Image: source from I Want Everything To Be Okay.

I recently listened to this incredible interview, a crucial discussion of American history, family, slavery, race - and also just a riveting discussion: On 'Tomlinson Hill,' Journalist Seeks Truth And Reconciliation: "As the great-great-grandson of Texas slaveholders, journalist Chris Tomlinson wanted to find out what crimes his ancestors had committed to maintain power and privilege."

Recently read: And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman (a quick weekend read); and, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior (Sort of ridiculously singularly focused on middle class, heterosexual couples, but nonetheless a fascinating and very readable survey of recent studies on parenting, mixed in with real life tales. I thought the info about the changing role of children in American society was particularly interesting, as was the related discussion of changing expectations of parents throughout the decade. The book certainly shows parenting to be a daunting task, one that effects your career, relationships, and sense of self.)

Currently reading (along with everyone else!): Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

I'm almost a month away from my marathon. NOT feeling ready (for example, only up to 15.2 miles so far....) But I will do this....

"Yr gait is simple & it carries you, it is the only sure thing." source

7.30.2014

Check out the absolutely beautiful wrapping paper, notebooks, and prints from Etsy shop Clap Clap

Even though I realize most of it is restrictive in it's price, I'm loving all the coverage of custom clothing for gender non-conforming folks. Keep it coming! PBS: ‘The right to be handsome’: Clothing for gender non-conforming people on the rise

I've really been digging the work of a few female Swedish mystery authors, namely Anna Jansson and Mari Jungstedt. They both write about mysteries taking place on the Swedish island of Gotland, which has now become a dream vacation destination for me (after never really having an interest in visiting Sweden). I guess its weird that murder mysteries would make me want to visit a place, but they both do a great job of giving me a sense of this small island, its relationship with tourism and the "mainland" and I'm totally curious now! (Slight warning: "Dark Angel" by Jungstedt was a let down, so don't bother with that one).

Image: source.

My honey and I recently went to Maine for a few days, to visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Aside from the beautiful drive up and wonderful Acadia, I think the highlight might've actually been the B&B where we stayed, the Acacia House. Clean, cozy, great location, excellent hosts, and delicious food (I had blueberry pancakes all three mornings! They were incredible.) As introverts, we always worry about privacy and feeling obligated to socialize at B&Bs, but this place was perfect - the hosts were friendly but unobtrusive, and it was a comfortable, clean, welcoming stay. Recommended if you're in the area!

Rolling Stone article on the incredible CeCe McDonald: The Transgender Crucible: "As a homeless trans teen, CeCe McDonald suffered a lifetime of hardships. But when she was charged with murder for simply defending herself, she became a folk hero." Definitely worth a read.

So, obviously I haven't been posting much, and I'm not even sure why I'm posting now. I guess I've gotten used to sharing links on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Also, the demise of Google Reader affected my blogging, as did the switch to a much more stressful and busy job a few years ago. Either way, it's nice to be posting again today, however, and maybe it will mark a return. Thanks to all of you who continue to read and follow and post your own tidbits of awesomeness.

6.05.2014

A great article in The Nation: Why Immigrant Detainees Are Turning to Civil Disobedience.

Media run down! On the nightstand: I just read, and enjoyed, this Swedish mystery: "Dead of Summer" by Mari Jungstedt (my first from the author - I will definitely seek out more. Classic straightforward, somewhat deadpan, clearly-written contemporary Swedish mystery), and now I'm reading another by the same publisher, "Killer's Island" by Anna Jansson. TV wise: we are still OBSESSED with Orphan Black! So, so good. Don't know what took us this long to get into it... Music wise: listening to First Aid Kit, Lorde (no shame), old REM....I need new suggestions.

One of my favorite shows, Top Chef, has come to film in Boston, and I'm basically on a constant look out for Gail, Padma, Hugh, and Tom. I must find a way to be involved! For those of you similarly obsessed, email and text for the chance to be involved! Fingers seriously crossed...

I listened to this interview this past weekend, and have been thinking about it ever since, especially Mr. Harding's explanation of non-violence direct action as not allowing the oppressors, your adversaries, to chose your weapons: "We tried to redefine what fighting was about. It was not fighting. It was fighting choosing your own weapons rather than allowing yourself to be sucked into the weaponry of the opponent that you're struggling with. We tried as much as possible, and we didn't have to work very hard on this, because many black people in their wisdom there in the South saw what that kind of weapon - love - and that romance with the gun and that militarism of the South had done to so many white Southerners, that it had warped them and their values and their capacity to really be human. And one of the critical things that we felt we wanted to do was to find a way of struggle that everybody could participate in. You didn't have to be a big, strong macho man to do it. You could be an 80-year-old grandmother. You could be a 12-year-old young woman." Listen: 'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding. Harding died Monday at 82. He wrote several speeches for Martin Luther King Jr., including his controversial 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam.

Image: These hotties are two of my favorites in the whole world! And I have a favor to ask! My bestie and her awesome man are finalists in a contest to have the Portland, Oregon wedding of their dreams. They are great couple who has been through so much, and I would love to see them get the celebration of life that they deserve. So, if you have a moment, please take a second to vote for Lisette and Nick! All you have to do is go to the following Facebook pages, like them, and comment on the photo of Lisette and Nick: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. AND/ OR you can also vote by leaving the Lisette and Nick's names as a comment on the following blogs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Voting ends Thursday, June 12, 2014 11:59pm PST. THANK YOU!

5.23.2014

Awesome comedian on race, immigration, and life in the US: For Comic Hari Kondabolu, Explaining The Joke IS The Joke

Some recent reads: The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell ("An odd book. Not really a mystery, but more of a novel about 3 or 4 intertwined lives, and the secrets and manipulations involved in each. I didn't love it, but by the end I was impressed by the feeling of fear and foreboding that had crept it's way in.") Also, I grabbed You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz off the shelf at the library, but it was terrible, and I put it down about 40 pages in - life is too short for bad books.

I finally finished Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, a non fiction mystery and Edgar award winner. The author had clearly done a ton of research, and the book was full of interesting tidbits, and a solid underlying story. Yet something felt lacking in the structure and the writing, and it never fully came together for me. The narrative didn't move along smoothly and it was hard to keep up with the authors deep knowledge of Chinese history and large cast of characters. I think a great book is in there somewhere, but it's not this one, unfortunately.

Self promotion...but for a good cause/interesting matter! I recently wrote a summary of a big decision in Massachusetts regarding the rights of immigrants to adequate advice in a criminal setting. Check if out, if you're so inclined. Thanks to César at Crimmigration.com for the opportunity!

Image: georgiacapra: chapter 2. letters to anya.

"The Case for Reparations." I finally read this extraordinary article. Even if you disagree with the conclusion (or you assume you are going to disagree), read it for the incredible US history, the great reporting and writing, and the important perspective. I also really recommend this piece to law students and lawyers, as it talks about the way that laws have enforced and re-inforced racism, as well as the way that litigation has helped confront some issues (I had no idea of the entire contract buyers/sellers issue).

Listening: "Look Out Mama" Hurray for the Riff Raff

4.10.2014

Interesting article, important topic (warning: spoiler alerts for a number of current shows): From Washington to Westeros, how rape plays out on TV

Image: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh pasted her self-portrait Friday at the Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, known for street art. By Sunday night, the poster had been defaced. source

I just finished Dave Eggers' most recent novel, The Circle. Despite being around 500 pages, I polished it off quickly - a testament to it's compulsive readability. While certainly not a perfect book - no one will ever fault Eggers for being overly subtle - I was certainly quickly drawn in, and disturbed by, this book. In much the same way "Her" painted an image of a near future in which our use of technology has taken a few significant leaps and bounds, "The Circle" is full of thought- and conversation- starters about data, relationships, privacy, and what can (or should) be quantified. Not the most artfully written book but certainly a page-turner and sort of a stomach-turner as well.

Fit and Feminist, always killing it: I Read A Harper's Bazaar Article About Spinning And It Made Me Sad: "I’m not going to deny myself the things I love out of fear that I might not attain whatever it is those women are striving to attain. My life is worth more than that. So is yours. So are theirs." (Including a link to the wonderful You Don't Have to Be Pretty).

The Biggest Loser "is not a show about people becoming empowered through fitness, though on the surface, the show's slick marketing would have you believe that. The Biggest Loser is a show about fat as an enemy that must be destroyed, a contagion that must be eradicated. This is a show about unruly bodies that must be disciplined by any means necessary." My Body Is Undisciplined and I Deny Myself Nearly Everything I Desire

A good article for those interested: "Looking for Immigration Problems" and Other Misunderstandings of Crimmigration Law, and The Atlantic article it cites with mixed reviews, Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It? 

WNYC [audio]: How the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Shaped the Birth of the First Subway

3.31.2014

Season 1 and 2 of "The Killing" were sometimes a slog for me, but it has ALL paid off in Season 3, which is almost flawless. The relationship between Holder and Linden, their relationship to their jobs and their pasts, the incredible casting of everyone involved, the plot involving street kids (and one particular actor whose story arc devastated me). Really just an incredible season.

A few articles on feminism and body issues: Feminists Have Food and Body Image Issues, Too: 5 Ways to Get Over the Shame, A Good Body Image Is Not Required To Be A Good Feminist, and Feminist Blogger Reveals Eating Disorder, Apologizes To Readers.

Wonderful image by Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde

Institutionalizing Memory: The Creation of Sierra Leone’s First Peace Museum, written by the brilliant Mneesha Gellman

I recently took a vacation - Paris! with mom! for a week! - which meant I got to spend some wonderfully luxurious time reading. Some of the hits and misses: "Promise Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture" by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro (This book was a fairly enjoyable, easy read, a combination of memoir of the author's life with a father who worked in the self-help industry as well as her adventures and research as an adult exploring the field. I didn't get a chance to finish the book before I had to return it to the library, but I would recommended it if you're interested in a fairly cursory and entertaining history of self help, or if you just want a short-ish interesting read (particularly if you're interested in parent-child relationships)); "No Man's Nightingale" by Ruth Rendell (This was my first Wexford novel and, based on the reviews, it looks like I didn't chose the best of the series. However, I was still pleased by Rendell's wit and observations, and I would be happy to try another in the series. It's right up my alley - contemporary British mystery with wit and social commentary/observations.); "Whispers Under Ground" by Ben Aaronovitch (It's a testament to the writing that I read this book at all! The premise - half British police procedural, half...magic? - isn't up my alley. But the author is great - funny and whip smart. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to keep up with the invented world (perhaps because this is the third in a series) and I don't know that I would be inclined to read another. However, if the premise at all appeals to you, give it a shot - if anyone can pull it off, this author can. And if the author ever tries his hand at a straight mystery (no magic included), I will be first in line to check it out); "The Disappeared" by Kristina Ohlsson (A good mystery read. One plot point just stretches the bounds of credulity/coincidence too much, but otherwise a nicely paced, interesting police procedural with just the right amount of character back story etc. I was a little annoyed that I saw some of the "whodunit" answers coming half way through, but there were always a few details left to figure out. Will read this author again.); and, "The Bone Collector" by Jeffery Deaver (A perfect plane/travel read).

"To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility." From a conversation between Bill Moyers and Martha Nussbaum.

2.27.2014

February is a rough month....Doctors Diagnose 100% of Americans With Seasonal Affective Disorder: “Those stupid lamps don’t do anything,” she added, folding the rest of the sandwich into her mouth and gesturing furiously a
t a very expensive, carefully calibrated light therapy chamber. “It’s a stupid fu**king lamp. It’s not the sun. It’s not summer. It’s not anything.”

Really interesting. “Imagining a positive outcome conveys the sense that you’re approaching your goals, which takes the edge off the need to achieve.” Stop Thwarting Yrself With Positivity

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Writes About Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law

Long as hell, but amazing. When will we stop using the death penalty? Closing Argument in Leopold & Loeb by C. Darrow (yep, still reading that book)

Image: Séamus Gallagher

In support of and love for the 2-lane life // 2 Lanes, 1 Life: The America Far From the Freeway

In MoJo: Is This the Beginning of the End for Solitary Confinement?

For your sake, I'm hoping none of you out there have read Six Years by Harlan Coben, but if you have, please tell me if you had a similar response. I picked it up knowing it would be a trashy read but it was even worse than I expected. More troubling even than the terrible writing - to me at least - was the way the book makes a hero out of a man who exhibits some pretty creepy behavior. Basically, his girlfriend tells him she doesn't want to have contact with him and cuts him off. He abides by this wish for 6 years and then decides - for a variety of weird reasons - to break his promise. He finds all sorts of ways to justify his decision to try to get back in contact with her again, contacting family members, attending private events, playing detective. All I could think were all the deluded and borderline abusive guys out there reading this thinking "Yeah! This is so me! She said she doesn't want to be together, but I KNOW there must be some reason or conspiracy because she can't REALLY mean it! I'll start digging into her personal life and contacting friends and family - AGAINST HER WISHES - and get to the bottom of this. She NEEDS me!" Creepers to the max. Was hoping this guy would be revealed to be the villain somehow, in the end, for a twist, but no, of course he is the savior of a woman in need/true love. Blerg.

2.18.2014

Like much of the world (at least, according to my Facebook feed), I spent last weekend devouring Season 2 of House of Cards. And it was amazing, even better than Season 1, I would say. Now all i want to do is talk about it, and read about it, and I can't believe we have to wait another year for Season 3! I'm trying to fill the void with Season 3 of Game of Thrones, but it's not quite the same.....

Why Go Out? by Sheila Heti

Image: source. Only about a month till mom and I go to Paris! So excited!

Definitely want to see this Anita Hill documentary.

On the "at work" music rotation: Neneh Cherry "Out Of The Black," Young Wonder "A Live Mystery," CHVRCHES "Recover," and Frances Cone "Rattles Your Heart" and "Mission."

Transgender, Schlumpy and Human by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a wonderful, smart, and generous short piece not just about trans representation in media, but about our shared human experience: "Many viewers will find it hard to see Mr. Tambor as more than a “man in a dress.” But not every trans female who comes out is going to be instantly seen as the woman she knows herself to be, in spite of what is in her heart. And it’s this, I think, that justifies the casting of Mr. Tambor in this instance, and that makes the quandary of the character so deeply moving. That “Transparent” depicts a schlumpy, older person rather than a gorgeous fashion model is good for both trans and cis folks alike. It captures the surprisingly universal problem of being defined only by our biology, rather than our spirits. It should make us stop and think about what it means to be a man, or a woman, and the struggle that so many people face in trying to live our truth. This isn’t a problem unique to transgender people; it’s the same for all of us."

I'm reading a ton of books right now - I would go so far as to say too many. The nightstand stack includes: Six Years by Harlan Coben, Olycksfågeln (The Strangers) by Camilla Läckberg, The Raven's Eye by Barry Maitland, Promise Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, and still working on Clarence Darrow.

2.13.2014

I'm still reading Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell on my commutes, and loving it. It's just excellent (as evidenced by the fact it can hold my attention during chaotic T rides). Great American history, a clear eyed by respectful examination of a facinating man, and lots of incredible snippets of writing and oration from Darrow - lots of fuel for the good fight. As an added bonus, I wrote Mr. Farrell to thank him for his great work, and he wrote me back a very kind (and prompt!) response! It really made my day.

Image: Jenny Holzer.

A brief but devastating tribute to a brave, beautiful life cut short by fear and violence. This young man was killed so unnecessarily. It is so true, as Chase writes, that "so many people with power in Larry's life, on some level, facilitated his tragic murder." It's up to all of us to examine the role we play in deaths like Larry's, and to stop the violence. (Quoting the great Vijay Prashad's essay "The World We Want is the World We Need")

Well, I signed up for another marathon....! It's been almost 4 years (!) since my first and only marathon in Eugene. I definitely don't have as much time to train as I did in 2010, but I still feel like giving it a go. I was lucky enough to have a great experience before, and I have an awesome running partner now in my friend Maggie, so...it's on. After my experience as a spectator at the Boston Marathon last year, I've sworn off big races for a while, so instead I chose to do one voted one of the best "small town races in America" - the New Hampshire Marathon in October. My focus will stay on shorter races and on hot yoga for the next few months (as I watch the snow float by my window...) and marathon training starts in June....

2.10.2014

A great essay by someone I happen to have first met decades ago, and who has always been a great writer: Hello, Handsome: On Never Being Beautiful: "I don’t mean to downplay the importance of preferred pronouns—they are important!—but there are nouns I prefer, too, and adjectives." It has only been in the last few years that I have asked partners - and myself - what are the words that feel good to you, that feel right to you? What are the compliments that make you feel seen? And it always leads to fascinating discussions.

Image: source. Love this!

"With the land and possessions of America rapidly passing into the hands of a favored few; with thousands of men and woman in idleness and want; with wages constantly tending to a lower level...with the knowledge that the servants of the people elected to correct abuses are bought and sold in legislative halls at the bidding of corporations and individuals: with all these notorious evils sapping the foundations of popular government and destroying personal liberty, some rude awakening must come. And if it shall come, when you look then abroad over the ruin and desolation, remember the long years in which the storm was rising, and do not blame the thunderbolt." Just started reading this biography of Clarence Darrow, so far it's great.

More books! I recently finished Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse, which I cannot recommend. More complicated are my feelings about The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. There were parts and characters I found interesting, and I definitely have more respect for Gilbert as an author now than I did beforehand - the book is nothing if not ambitious. But it dragged in parts, and had these oddly empty pockets where certain main characters were just left flat and seemed like voids in an otherwise rich story. I can't say that I would recommend it (especially not at 500 pages), but I also don't regret reading it. I'm very curious to hear other peoples thoughts, however, since it seems to have garnered a lot of favorable reviews and adoration, and was clearly quite an undertaking.

While waiting in court for a case to be called recently, I read Stitches: a handbook on meaning, hope, and repair by one of my long time favorites, Anne Lamott. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to have a word with her. Annie, I love you, but I'm gonna keep it real - cause I think that's what you'd want. I've been a fan of your books for years, and a fan of yours ever since I saw you speak near my hometown in Oregon about 15 years ago. I was a cranky teenager, there with my mom, and we both came away swooning. You were so honest, so funny, so smart and compassionate and wise. "Bird By Bird" was my everything as a young writer, and "Operating Instructions" made me laugh and cry and hug my mom and my best friend - I've given it to so many of my new parent friends. Your essays/columns on line floored me, as I read and reread them. In my late 20s, a lifelong interest in religion became a personal path towards Christianity, and "Traveling Mercies" and your other books on your faith journey captured so much of what I was feeling and struggling with. So, given all that praise, why did I start this with a warning? Well, your last two books - this one, and "Help, Thanks, Wow" a have left me disappointed. You seem to have transitioned into publishing gift books, small hardbacks with color font, short chapters, and, well, not much there. I don't know if it's a money making thing or swim thing about demand, but I beg you - dig in, give us another hefty, hearty, stewed over book, something not rushed to press or triple spaced. Or stick to blog posts and flesh out these short chapters. I know, I'm walking a thin line and risking offensive, obsessive fan like territory, but I think the green type in "Stiches" put me over the edge. Love always, Sarah

1.24.2014

Wonderful. On comics, alcoholism, honesty, winding paths. The Fart Party's Over by Julia Wertz

Image: source. Love this, love my mom.

I haven't raved about my favorite podcasts recently, but Pop Culture Happy Hour continues to be great, and Extra Hot Great has returned, much to my glee.

Last night I finished "Flight Behavior," by Barbara Kingsolver. This was the first of her books that I've read, and came to me highly recommended by some and hesitantly recommended by others. This book drew me in quickly with beautiful language and evocative descriptions of the protagonists loneliness and longing. Really, the first page alone is worth a read. However, at about 100 pages in is became a bit of a slog - which was especially intimidating given that it's over 400 pages in length. By the end, I was pushing myself just to finish it. I have no qualms about quitting books, but partially because I bought this one (I usually check them out of the library), and partially just out of sheer curiosity and stubbornness, I wanted to push through to the end of Flight Behavior. I finished it frustrated. Heavy handed characters and conversations and parables about climate change, cringe worthy cliches, and about 6 pages of dialogue less text on ewes left me exasperated. I love a lot of what Kingsolver does and is trying to do - she has some absolutely beautiful text, and her passion for biology and the environment and exploring the desires of humans (self harming, planet harming, or otherwise) all come through. But being hit over the head every page of these 400 pages by endless metaphors about global warming and down home characters with hearts of gold and folksy wisdom is killing me. Believe it or not, I would be curious to try another Kingsolver, since she does seem to be so beloved, and there were wonderful passages, but would probably go into it slightly hesitantly.

"Trans as plot device, trans as twist ending, trans as morbid curiosity — we’re not deemed worthy of respect in life or in death. Trans as inherently fraudulent creature, trans as con artist, trans as fake — we’re not real." Parker Marie Molloy's take on the Grantland article on Dr. V.

Oof: “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” (from this short article: 7 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough) I cannot stop thinking about that statement!

1.10.2014

Transgender teenager faces criminal charges after defending herself against bullies: Jewelyes Gutierrez's lawyer says the charges further victimize her client, who has experienced repeat harassment. Sign the petition if you're so inclined.

Word: I'm A Trans Woman, But Please Stop Asking Me About My Genitalia: author and advocate Janet Mock breaks down Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera's appearance on Katie Couric's talk show.

Image: source.

I don't like it, but that doesn't mean I can ignore it: Like It Or Not, Western Yoga Is A Textbook Example Of Cultural Appropriation.

Vice is usually, well, pretty crappy in a lot of ways, but this essay about Instagram and prison visits is worth a read.

Printmaking, local beers, and all for a good cause! Looking forward to this event: Studio@36 Printmaking Patterns: "For the “grown ups” out there, this is your chance to get your hands dirty and unleash your inner artist. (Berets are not provided.) Sponsored by Cape Ann Brewing Co., Studio@36 is a monthly series of art making and networking in the heart of the South End! Each session will focus on a new printmaking technique that will expand your creativity in our historic Children’s Art Centre. All proceeds directly support high quality arts education and programming for children and families regardless of ability to pay."

Prayer of Contrition sent to me by my wonderful pastor in Ashland: "Dear God, you ask only two things from us: that we love you and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. How simple this sounds! But we find the doing much harder than the saying. Forgive us for all the moments in this past week that we have forgotten you and loved other gods the more, and that we have looked upon our neighbors with irritation, anger, fear, or contempt. Thank you for giving us another week and other chances to try to meet your - and our - expectations, and for helping us do better than we did last week."

"There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want. To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet." - Alan Watts

1.06.2014

Kiese Laymon on Trayvon, Black Manhood and Love: "I don’t know the rest. But I do know that Trayvon Martin could have taken his disrespectful profiling and beating, like a reasonable black boy. He could have lowered his head, said I’m sorry for frightening you, crazy-ass cracker, and muted the crazy-making treble in his chest. Instead, he [allegedly] unreasonably swung back. He [allegedly] connected. And he tried to live. Unreasonably. When my student Wilson asked me how I want to be loved, I was afraid to tell that I want to be loved by an unreasonable love that loves me enough to say and mean that Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, you and I are beautiful and worthy of second chances and healthy choices."

Image: source.

Punk, Parenting, and The Heart of the Revolution: John Malkin interviews Buddhist teacher Noah Levine

"Another New Year" by Natalie Goldberg, on death and life and believing our stories.

On the premise of fresh starts and "temporal turning points": "If we help people realize how many opportunities there are, they can put their imperfections behind them." Why We Make Resolutions (and Why They Fail).

Incredible trailer, amazing women - looking forward to seeing the film. "Crossing Over": A Documentary Looks At The Difficult Journey Of Trans Immigrants

12.20.2013

Incredible reporting and writing. Heartbreaking and riveting: Invisible Child: Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life

Excellent, excellent stuff: When “Life Hacking” Is Really White Privilege: "If you seem to be “getting everything you want,” you should probably examine whether you’re getting it at someone’s expense, or whether you’re just constantly, in small ways, making the world worse."

Image: source.

Yet more book reviews! (What can I say - when it's cold outside, and I have even a sliver of downtime, all I want to do is curl up with a good read). Last weekend I finished The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. When I first saw the book at the library, I was dubious because of the cover (a big engagement ring) and the title, and I bet there are many others like me who are scared away by the (incorrect and, frankly, sexist) assumption that this book is "women's lit." But I'm glad I overcame my initial impulse, because it was a great read! The book is structured in alternating chapters, each one telling one of 4 or 5 different stories. At first I got worried about keeping each narrative straight, but eventually I just gave up trying and they all became memorable and easy to navigate. As with many other reviewers, I loved the chapters about Frances - Frances is based on the true story of the woman behind the De Beers/"Diamonds Are Forever" campaign, and its a great peek into the Mad Men-like era of advertising, and the story of how diamonds and engagement rings became a "thing" in the US. While my investment in the characters varied from story to story, by the end I found myself invested in seeing where they all ended up, and was pleased to see how their stories connected. A good read.

A friend and fellow mystery lover just lent me The Lewis Man by Peter May, the second in the Lewis Trilogy, which was great. While you don't necessarily need to read them in order, I think there is a lot to be gained by doing so. I love May's ability to weave in facts about the history of the islands and the traditions there, while also creating a compelling narrative, and character growth. My only even slight qualm is how SAD the books are. Even when there is a resolution to the mystery, and an exile of the "bad guy," both of the Lewis trilogy books I've read so far have just been so devastating - lives scarred by abuse, ages old resentments, etc. Maybe they are just realistic in that way, but, still, heavy stuff! Anyways, I'm definitely looking forward to the third.

12.13.2013

We saw "The Punk Singer" recently and I cannot recommend it more highly. Not just great subject matters (Kathleen Hanna, of course, but also music and feminism and art) and great visuals and music, but also just a really well done documentary. The trailer doesn't do it justice, just go see it.

A few weeks ago I read The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., a debut novel by Adelle Waldman. It is a smart and intricately drawn portrait of an unremarkable protagonist - a straight young white man in Brooklyn who has found the literary success he was always sure he deserved, and the subsequent attention of women that validates the years of being "the nice guy" he clocked prior to success. While I don't have a connection to the publishing world and didn't care about many of those details (the hierarchies of who gets articles published in which places, and book deals/contracts, etc), the characters were very familiar (especially, I would guess, if you went to a liberal arts college on the East Coast). Waldman is clearly talented and observant, and the book was a quickly engrossing read, but I can't say I found it enjoyable - I spent the majority of the book either tortured by the protagonists infuriating opinions and successes, or tortured by my own recollections at having behaved like both he and the victims of his emotional idiocy. When I put the book down, I was definitely not sorry to have read it, but I was also not at all sorry to be out of Nathaniel P's world.

I also recently read Sisterland,  by Curtis Sittenfed. I really enjoyed this novel, and thought the author smartly used the sisters' twin-ness and psychic abilities as ways to explore intimacy and our relationship to trying to control or predict the future (and Sittenfeld does so without hitting us over the head too painfully with heavy metaphors). My interest and enjoyment of the book was definitely increased by the proximity of twins in my life, and I would particularly recommend this book to anyone with siblings, or to anyone with twins in their lives. However, even if that's not the case for you, this book still stands on its own as a well-constructed and well-paced novel, addressing themes of trust, family, parenting, and how much we want to know about those around us - or ourselves.

Is anyone else doing the holiday Run Streak? For those blessedly ignorant about this particular challenge, it sounds sort of innocuous to begin with - the challenge: run (at least) a mile a day every day between Thanksgiving and New Years. I just started week three, however, and it's brutal! Not having any off days, and battling the winter cold and darkness, and just scheduling the runs has proven challenging. It's sort of a bummer because it's cutting into my precious yoga practice, but it's a fun thing to try to do once, and is helping me stay in good enough condition for our half marathon in February....I hope.

11.20.2013



Video: serious awesomeness.

Important discussion from Oxfam America: When is a “looter” really just a survivor? "Consider the options for desperate people trying to survive, and look for a realistic perspective on news coverage in the early days after a disaster."

Last year I totally failed at a running streak, but I'm going to give it another shot this holiday season: The 2013 Holiday Running Streak ("pledging to run at least one mile every day, Thanksgiving through New Year's"). We completed our "three half-marathons in three months" goals, and now don't have another long race till our half in February. In the mean time, I want to keep up my stamina with regular running and a few short races, but mainly focus on yoga. I'm still going to Baptiste (3-5 times per week) and loving its affect on my mental health. It's very difficult and humbling to get so face to face with my aches and pains and lack of flexibility, and it's not a calorie burner in the way that running is (ugh, so hard to free the mind from the calorie counting trap), but it's been invaluable for my mental and emotional health and I feel very lucky to have gotten back into the practice.

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern." - Annie Dillard

This is beautiful: Self-Made Man #24: Love Your Emergency: "I wish I’d told the woman in Brooklyn that we can only hold the muscle of what we most love about ourselves alongside the little terrors that haunt us, but nothing is ever erased. We’re just bodies stamped with time, moving through space, coming together, coming undone. Those red-and-white emergencies sparkle with their own terrible beauty, but you have to stay up late, you have to ignore the call of the elevator operator, you have to wait long enough and love it all hard enough to really, really see."

"Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days." ― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

11.14.2013

Take a listen. From Jefferson Public Radio: "Members of the Ashland Congregational United Church of Christ participate in a Justice and Witness Team that travels to Honduras to help people affected by the human rights crisis there. It can be a grim job." As always, so inspired by my incredible UCC Ashland faith community, even from afar.

Image: Hey, now that sounds cool. "New Crafts Artists In Action: Learn to craft hand-made basketball nets for empty hoops in your neighborhood." (h/t LG)

Support your independent bookseller this holiday season! 45 Great American Indie Bookstores to Support This Holiday Season (Happy to say I've been to a few of these! Powell's is a life long fav, I visited the lovely Montague Bookmill last year, and was lucky enough to be a regular at Books & Books when I lived in South Beach)

Two interesting pieces on the role and effect of technology on our attention spans and experiences of our surroundings: from The Independent, Driven To Distraction, and from The New Inquiry, The Disconnectionists.

Always, always: "And if your spirit / carries within it / the thorn / that is heavier than lead --- / if it's all you can do / to keep on trudging --- / there is still / somewhere deep within you / a beast shouting that the earth / is exactly what it wanted --- / each pond with its blazing lilies / is a prayer heard and answered / lavishly, / every morning, / whether or not / you have ever dared to be happy, / whether or not / you have ever dared to pray." (the great, the wonderful Mary Oliver)