1.26.2015

Currently reading: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney and Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott.

Just finished watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - I'm so bummed to be done! Season 3 can't come soon enough. On my mom's recommendation, I watched episode one of Grantchester, which is right up my alley (small British town and relatively unthreatening mysteries!). I also just finished season 2 of The Fall, which was absolutely excellent, possibly even better than season 1. Superb acting, well-paced plot (although it definitely drags a little at the end), and fascinating moments of discussion about violence against women (and about what it means for people like me to watch shows like this).

Image: source.

I'm on Day 8 of a 40 day program at my local Baptiste yoga studio, working on creating and sustaining a daily yoga and meditation practice. So far it's great. The first week our goals were 5 minutes of meditation twice a day, and 20 minutes of yoga (along with some journaling and reading goals). This week: 10 minutes meditation, 30 minutes yoga. By the final week, we will be committing to 30 minutes od meditation twice a day, and 90 minutes of yoga. I've had various meditation and yoga practices at different times in my life, but nothing this sustained. It's definitely challenging but I'm grateful for the structure and guidance and the tools to help my anxiety. I struggle a lot during the meditation but I also find that, when it's over, I'm disappointed to no longer be in that space. Very interesting.

Lindy West's piece on This American Life this week was absolutely amazing. On misogyny, internet trolls, human connection, our worst selves, and forgiveness.

Rilke on What Winter Teaches Us about the Richness of Life and the Tenacity of the Human Spirit

The awesomeness of Broad City: “Some people are scared of us, and some think we are dumb little girls."

On mental health, and love: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

"Don’t resent the work. / It gives you the strength to stand / whole and silent / before the Mystery." source

1.15.2015

across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal

I feel like I should hate this idea of a Hitchcock remake by David Fincher, but I think I'm into it....

Currently reading: "The White Album" by Joan Didion and "Blue Horses: Poems" by Mary Oliver. Recently read: "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar" by Cheryl Strayed(read it twice, right in a row. The best, obviously), and "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion (very readable). For those of you who crave even more info on my reading habits: find me on GoodReads.

This gif. Forever.

Definitely curious to check out the new Duplass show.

Listening to: new Sleater Kinney. Also liking this song.

Image: after months of people recommending it to me, I'm FINALLY watching Miss Fischers Murder Mysteries....and I love it. Awesome lady sleuth with killer wardrobe and an insatiable lust for gorgeous men. Thanks Mom and Phoebe!

"And I thought: she will never live another life but this one. / And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength / is she not wonderful and wise?" [from "Reckless Poem" by Mary Oliver]

12.30.2014

"Because, you will never be brilliant if you’re too busy trying to extinguish shameful feelings. You can never truly step into the light if you’re too busy avoiding the dark. " How To Make Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep by Jamie Varon 

Amazing: Women Listening To Men In Western Art History

Image: "You have more freedom than you're using"

Finally listened to the Maron-Louis CK interview: fascinating. Comedy, life, & two people confronting a friendship that's fallen apart.

Cannot. Wait. Trailer for Season 3 of Orphan Black. (Also, are other people watching Black Mirror? It occasionally borders on unwatchable for me, since some of the episodes are so tense and realistic. But I keep coming back because it really is an incredibly well-done show, walking the dystopic, near future, almost-contemporary/possible-but-not-quite line so well....)

This final Q from "The Unspeakables" has stuck with me, and is rattling around in my head. Such an interesting question: "But who can be sure of such things? And what's so great about being sure anyways?"

12.29.2014

Absolute gorgeousness: Sufjan Stevens - "A Little Lost"

Beautiful, powerful personal essay: Ferguson Divided My Family, But We Were Already Broken: As a black man I’d learned to fear the police. Then the police became my family.

Excellent, and so necessary for people to understand before making (or in lieu of) judgements: Why Poor People Stay Poor

Some local light in this messed up world: Cambridge teacher champions literacy

Angela Davis: ‘There is an unbroken line of police violence in the US that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery

Image: source: "Nothing is inevitable, everything is possible."

"Writer Alice Munro once described your early 30s as 'an age at which it is sometimes hard to admit that what you are living is your life.' I think that’s hard at any age. What gets easier with each passing decade, I suspect, is not comparing yourself to how other people are living their lives. As I age, I fully intend to give fewer and fewer fucks about how I’m supposed to be, or when I’m supposed to accomplish certain things. It frees up head space for the sort of creative thinking I’d rather be doing. Munro, of all people, should understand that this is a skill that takes time to acquire. She published her first collection of short stories when she was 37." Ann Friedman

I received the much-hyped "The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion" by Meghan Daum for Christmas, and devoured it immediately. My overall rating ended up being 3 stars. But my experience reading it was more complicated than the 3 star rating lets on. There are 4, and even 5, star essays in this collection, and they were an absolute revelation to read. Right out of the gate, "Matricide" is close to perfect. However, there is also a big ol 1 star-er right in the middle (the essay "Honorary Dyke") that angered, befuddled, and mystified me. And, so, I settled on a 3 star review not in the way I give most things 3 stars - "eh, I liked reading it, but can't say it was remarkable" - and instead with a frustrated shake of my head and a grumble. It feels uncool in this day and age to admit to being offended, and like it ends up seeming like a compliment to the author for their daring nature. But because it's nagging me so much, and because I do think it matters, I'll say it: the essay offended me. Whether it offended me as a queer person or as a similarly privileged white lady who wants to believe we can talk about our experiences with an ounce of awareness and originality, I'm still figuring out. My offense is not a testimony to Daum's daringness in this essay (although she is plenty daring elsewhere), but to her laziness in not thinking through this essay - and her own role - more critically. When the essay stops short of being offensive, it's simply embarrassing. It doesn't reflect the same self awareness and begrudging maturity of the rest of the essays in the collection but, instead, seems plucked from the mind of the 21 year old college kid who is the main focus of the essay. It's clear Daum thinks she's aware of her own position as a (regrettably!) straight lady, but her cliche observations about different types of lesbians, her casual gender essentialism, cool girl misogyny, privileged take on life as a series of joining whatever "teams" she wants, claiming of the word butch for herself (and her decisions about who else might qualify as such), and casual use of the word "trannies" comes across less as knowing irony, and more as oblivious self-indulgence. I'm so freaking disappointed. I was so smitten with this book - so wise, so beautiful, so funny - and particularly loved that the author is in her 40s, and not the sort of 20 something that might write an ode to the dyke she's not - and this essay just....sigh, man. What a bummer. It was such a glaring weak spot in the book and such a disappointment and just exactly what I didn't want from this book. I feel a little bit heart broken about it.

12.16.2014

From Dear White Allies: Stop Unfriending Other White People: “This is the time to remember that the outrage you feel can in no way match my own and therefore you have way more emotional capacity than I do to talk some sense into the ‘other side.’ This is the time to remember that your 'solidarity' does not render you powerless; in fact, the entire point of your solidarity is to lend the power you DO have to folks who do not. And by the way, this is the time to remember that you do have power.” h/t Love In The Time of Ferguson.

Great story and storytelling: Dollree Mapp, 1923-2014: “The Rosa Parks of the Fourth Amendment”

Currently reading: "We Are Not Ourselves" by Matthew Thomas. Just read "The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair" which was AWFUL. Recently added to my "too reads" list: "Girl in a Band: A Memoir," by Kim Gordon, "The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion"  by Meghan Daum, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" by Charles Blow, and "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" by Jeff Hobbs.

Image from NYC protest: Eric Garner’s eyes.

Why Poor People Stay Poor: "Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable. So let’s just talk about how impossible it is to keep your life from spiraling out of control when you have no financial cushion whatsoever. And let’s also talk about the ways in which money advice is geared only toward people who actually have money in the first place."

Always a favorite, always I need reminding: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” - Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

"History produces not only the forces of domination but also the forces of resistance that press up against and are often the objects of such domination. Which is another way of saying that history, the past, is larger than the present, and is the ever-growing and ongoing possibility of resistance to the present’s imposed values, the possibility of futures not unlike the present, futures that resist and transform what dominates the present." - Elizabeth Grosz

12.05.2014

"President Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya, who is part of a mixed status family who had an undocumented aunt and has a formerly undocumented uncle with a conviction, says, "If you're a criminal -- you'll be deported... Felons, not families ... Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids." We denounce the President's statement and the insensitive and criminalizing language that needlessly pits people, families, communities and movements against one another. People with felonies have families. People with criminal records have children. Working mothers and their children have been criminalized through gang databases. We are all family and friends...Sadly, President Obama's recent speech fits a historic and racist framework through which we can describe the exclusion and banishment of people with felonies who are detained and deported. It is simply felony disenfranchisement that further strips people of their human rights." People With Felonies, Criminal Records and Gang Affiliation Are Our Friends and Family.

Image: source.

Really thought provoking: I believe Shia LaBeouf – a person doesn’t have to be likable to be a victim: "And if you feel comfortable speculating – as most of the media has for the past decade – that LaBeouf might be grappling with some mental health and/or addiction problems, you should feel just as comfortable believing that mental illness or addiction could have impaired his consent. We are so gleeful with the diagnosis, but so dismissive of the consequences."

Gorgeous and devastating. On grief, love, and life: The American Man: Growing Up, by Thomas Page McBee.

"My son wants me to reassure him, and tell him that of course Darren Wilson will go to jail. At 10 years old, he can feel deep in his bones how wrong it was for the police to kill Michael Brown. 'There will be a trial, at least — right, Mom?' My son is asking me a simple question, and I know the answer. As a civil rights lawyer, I know all too well that Officer Wilson will not be going to trial or to jail. The system is legally rigged so that poor people guilty of relatively minor crimes are regularly sentenced to decades behind bars while police officers who kill unarmed black men almost never get charged, much less serve time in prison." Telling My Son About Ferguson by Michelle Alexander. 

Incredibly powerful: Last Words.

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