Powerful interactive obituary format from the NYTimes: The Lives They Loved: "We invited readers to contribute a photograph of someone close to them who died this year. Here are some that illustrate a story from their lives." I could've spent all day reading these.

The Best Comics of 2011 as selected by the awesome (thanks PCHH!) Glen Weldon.

Uh huh. Yep.: Inappropriate, by Gabrielle Bell.

Image: source.

Worth a read: Uninvested In Being Beautiful.
From 1958, a piece from Fortune magazine written by Jane Jacobs called Downtown is for People: "There are, certainly, ample reasons for redoing downtown--falling retail sales, tax bases in jeopardy, stagnant real-estate values, impossible traffic and parking conditions, failing mass transit, encirclement by slums. But with no intent to minimize these serious matters, it is more to the point to consider what makes a city center magnetic, what can inject the gaiety, the wonder, the cheerful hurly-burly that make people want to come into the city and to linger there. For magnetism is the crux of the problem. All downtown's values are its byproducts. To create in it an atmosphere of urbanity and exuberance is not a frivolous aim."


Being queer and undocumented: "Viviana, an undocumented and queer student talks about coming out as an immigrant and a member of the LGBTQ community and the importance for unity. The Coming Out speeches are a series from the Immigrant Youth Justice League."

Starlee Kine: Fear, Heartbreak, and Making It Happen Against All Odds (video)

Before and After: Portraits from Dathun: "This series of photos...comes from a larger project called 'Contemplatives,' a visual exploration of the physiological qualities of meditation practice. I set up the “Before and After” project to explore the observable effects on practitioners after long periods of intense meditation practice."

Image: source.

An excellent article about one family's experience with foster care, and the real costs of caring for our nation's children. Taxing the Kindness of Strangers: "Foster parents like us willingly pay a heavy price. The GOP wants us to pay more." (Sort of a misleading title - it's less political, and more about the actual nuts and bolts of being a foster family).

“I’m fat positive because I’m a feminist, and I refuse to acknowledge in the magical thinking that if you’re small enough, quiet enough, compliant enough and saccharine enough, you will somehow be enough.” - You’re Welcome - Why I’m Fat Positive
"Finding Emilie," Winner of the Best Documentary: Silver Award in the 2011 Third Coast International Audio Festival.

From the NYTimes: After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up, and Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No.

Image: source.

I haven't seen "Homeland" or "Enlightened," but this article makes me curious about both.

Last night, in a bout of insomnia, I finished "Death Comes To Pemberley," and I'm sorry to say that while I love P.D. James and Jane Austen both, this book isn't a complete success. This book feels like what it is - a true Austen lover who has undertaken the fun excercize of imagining what the characters in P&P were really thinking, and envisioning what their future might look like. I totally get why James would want to do this, and why it would be enjoyable, but if you've read P&P you have your own ideas of the characters and it can be jarring to have someone else's foisted upon you. Additionally, the author's hand just feels to heavy. It's like she's playing with dolls, having fun making these characters say what she wants them to say, but it doesn't always feel authentic to the character. This review has come off more damning than I intended - James' is such a talented and charming (and 91 year old!) writer, and I'm sure fully understands the challenges of her task with "Death Comes..." But the book just didn't work for me. There were too many awkward moments of, "This doesn't seem like something Darcy would say, it feels like James' just has this fantasy about him" (who doesn't!), and the mystery was wrapped up in the last 10 minutes with, basically, a speech. Overall, not James' (or the Darcy's) best. (For another, more positive, take, the book is also reviewed in this weeks episode of the always-wonderful NYTimes Book Review podcast.)


Image: source. Still have some Boston love....
Since she knew I was home sick in bed last week, my sweet mom bought me PD James' new book, Death Comes to Pemberley. The classic mystery writer also turns out to be a big Jane Austen fan, and decided to set her new book in the world of Pride & Prejudice. While combining two things I love is not necessarily a recipe for success (witness most fusion restaurants), I'm enjoying it so far.

Ha! Watch ‘Portlandia’s’ Tribute to ‘Battlestar Galactica’

From Cover Me, some Covers of the Best Songs of 2011.

Image: source.

There're only about 3 weeks left till I leave for Nicaragua - for a whole month! Yep, 4 weeks in a small town, with no internet or phone, no English....just me, living with a family, getting one on one Spanish instruction, and trying to stay sane and enjoy myself. I'm excited but definitely nervous - I'm a creature of habit, and solitude, so being out of my comfort zone for a whole month is gonna be a challenge. Of course for me, one of the big questions has been, "What do I bring to read?" I don't want to bring too much English language material, because I'm worried I will use it as an escape. However, my Spanish isn't (yet!) to the point where I can read a lot. I'm thinking two potential options are graphic novels in Spanish or children/young adult books in Spanish. Current options include: Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal; David Boring (Spanish Edition) by Daniel Clowes; La perdida (Spanish edition) by Jessica Abel; and Persepolis (Nomadas) by Marjane Satrapi.

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” - bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions


Gift Guide: Etsy Wearables

Uh oh, now the "gift guide" bug has bitten and I'm on a roll. Here, some things to wear from Etsy that I adore. xoxo

A charming fireflies t shirt shirt (who doesn't love a scoop neck?) Black, organic cotton. (Kinship Press)

Love this Box Elder sweater (left), in eco-friendly grey fleece. (also from Kinship Press)

This description doesn't do it justice, you have to go check out this unique dots wrap sweater jacket elegant and cozy with red pin.

Ok, I think I'm showing my weakness for comfortable sweatshirt fabric clothes but....here's another! Fall sweatshirt in olive green eco fleece "Love Tree."

Love this simple but unique, made to order, two-tone t-shirt from ThimbleandAcorn.

Finally, I've loved the bags from valhallabrooklyn for years. This 6 pocket Okinawa bag in dark grey looks like the perfect size, and totally functional (I also wouldn't turn my nose up at this black beauty!)


After about a week of refusing to admit I've been getting ill, I'm finally waiving the white flag and am home in bed sick. My waking hours today have been spent watching Masterpiece Contemporary: Collision, an unusual 6-part drama surrounding the various people affected by one car crash. The show jumps back and forth between what was happening for each person before the crash, and the impact of the event. Slow at times, but recommended.

The humor and droll accuracy of this never gets old to me: Adventures in Depression

Image: source.

Ha, this is spot on: Hate Actually. Summarizes much of what is great, and terrible, about that modern Christmas classic Love, Actually.

The Millions presents their annual A Year in Reading for 2011, where they ask a bunch of people their favorite reads of the year. This year's contributors include Duff McKagan, Mayim Bialik (!), Jennifer Egan, Colum McCann, and Geoff Dyer.

I like Taysa's Holiday Gift Guide: Friends that want to move toward "Zero Waste" (not as contradictory as it sounds!)

“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it. Militancy no longer means guns at high noon, if it ever did. It means actively working for change, sometimes in the absence of any surety that change is coming. It means doing the unromantic and tedious work necessary to forge meaningful coalitions, and it means recognizing which coalitions are possible and which coalitions are not. It means knowing that coalition, like unity, means the coming together of whole, self-actualized human beings, focused and believing, not fragmented automatons marching to a prescribed step. It means fighting despair.” - Audre Lorde


Check out this trailer for the documentary Lead With Love: "All of us can relate to the pain and anxiety of coming out and how the reaction of our families affected us for years to come. Lead With Love follows the comings out of several kids and pays special attention to how each parents’ reactions affected the emotional well-being of their children. The black, white, and Latino families each tell their heart-rending stories, but also offer insight, education, and hope by reflecting on their experiences with the insight of supportive educators, spiritual leaders, and psychologists."

The second season of Sherlock returns to the BBC on January 1st - and will hopefully come to the US soon after?

Since starting CrossFit (6 weeks ago, almost!) I've become really interested in the benefits of weight lifting. I admit that I had never lifted weights before because (a) I was intimidated by all the dudes in the weight area, and didn't know what to do, (b) I didn't want to get "big" and, (c) my focus was always losing weight (sad but true), and I didn't think weights would help with that. However, doing CrossFit and reading more about weight lifting has convinced me that weight lifting is a crucial part of maintaining overall health, injury prevention, and increased endurance. One short article from the NYTimes supports these claims (there are lots of similar articles out there as well, some VERY detailed): Cross-Training by Lifting Weights: "[R]esistance training improved endurance in running and cycling. The effect occurred both in experienced athletes and in novices."

I appreciated this: Pastor Jay Bakker talks about his gay-affirming church, the 'next generation' of Christians, understanding the Bible, and Hell. He's calm, well-spoken, and speaks of a form of Christianity much like that I see lived among those I know and love - one of true acceptance, celebration, individual journey, and respect.

"there are nights, & there are other nights. we feel our highs, we feel our lows. we feel the sadness crushing our bones. we wallow in our self doubt, what we are & what we’re not. we seek to destroy our selves but what good what that do. open your arms, fill them with happiness. the kind of happiness you can touch. something tangible. fill yourself with the music of your body. feel yourself, each particle. even if you feel you are crawling in your skin. let it crawl. let it shift. embrace it. we write our words, our words are right. they’re the happiness, the sadness inside of ourselves. keep them balanced. you are beautiful & you are living & things will lift you up soon enough. lift you up towards the mountain tops." - you are remarkable
Rob Delaney has his moments (and linking to TAL doesn't hurt).

Sounds like a good wintery meal: One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

At this family-tastic time of year, take a listen to the TAL episode, Nobody's Family Is Going To Change.

Image: source.

A beautiful short about the end of a very loved dogs life: Last Minutes with ODEN. Anyone who has loved a pet will relate (and cry).

From the Boston Globe: Led by the child who simply knew: "The twin boys were identical in every way but one. Wyatt was a girl to the core, and now lives as one, with the help of a brave, loving family and a path-breaking doctor’s care." (The start of the article rubbed me the wrong way - gender expression that is not in line with societal expectations, as in a boy liking tutus, doesn't neccesarily mean that a child is transgender, or gay. But, overall, a moving and well-done piece.)

Per my friend Brett's recommendation, listening to Mayer Hawthorne on World Cafe. And Mavis Staples and Win Butler cover "The Weight."


Gift Guide: Friends Friends Friends

Time for another gift guide - this one is things I would get my much beloved, and very wonderful friends, scattered around the country. xoxox

* Cribbage! Never heard of it? I grew up playing this card (and board) game with my dad and an honorary aunt of mine, Betty. This cribbage set, from Renegade Handmade, is all you need to get started. (And, ideally, a spot in front of a toasty fire.)

* For anyone looking to cozy up a new apartment or house, posters for the kitchen from The Victory Garden of Tomorrow!

* You can't go wrong with a gift certificate to Good Vibrations or Babeland - single or coupled or anywhere else on the spectrum, everyone can find something to make their new year extra satisfying.

* Buy Olympia is always a great place to look for gifts, including beautiful prints, calendars, and books by one of my favs, Nikki McClure. They also have a lot of cool books and zines: for the new dads I know, I'd choose Rad Dads; for the foodies, subscriptions to Remedy; for the fashionistas, subscriptions to Worn; and a book for all those badass urban farmers I know and love.

* Check out this unique silk wrap bracelet (left)! Love the grey bird one as well (of course).

* I rarely buy jewelry because of a traumatic past event where a bunch of my jewelry was stolen (and also I just tend to break stuff), but I bought myself this ring about a year ago and wear it almost every day. It's bold but practical, tough and seemingly unbreakable (fingers crossed), and it gets lots of compliments. If possible, I'd by one for all my ladies.

* Lots of my friends have waded into (or are considering wading into) the world of online dating. For those folks, or for any lovers of awesome comics, I would buy "So This Is What It's Come To... ," a comic zine about the trials and tribulations of ok cupid by artists Ramsey Beyer, Kettner, Leslie Perrine, and Liz Prince.

* Finally, if I was really dreaming big (and why not?), I would fly all my closest loves out here to spend a long weekend at Breitenbush Hot Springs, a calm, steamy oasis in quiet, snowy, Oregon. Sigh. Dare to dream....


Excellent, and true. I hadn't thought of it this way before: You Can’t Fight Child Abuse Without Fighting Ableism

Listening to: WBUR, Anatomy Of A Bad Confession (hard to listen to at times, but important)

Image: source.

They're making a movie out of Cloud Atlas (one of my all-time favorites)? I'm dubious, but definitely curious.

Awesome: posters from the Occupy movement.

Hillary Clinton Is Not Helping the Gay Civil Rights Movement: "Is the United States really in a position to make an international call for gay civil rights when the Obama administration, which Clinton represents, has failed to give any federal teeth to the gay marriage campaign? Gay people can marry in New York City, but if their partners are Russian, Canadian, or any other nationality, they do not quality for citizenship rights and are deported. Clinton discusses violence committed against gay people abroad, but what about the staggering rates of suicide among gay teens and the violence committed against them?"

Mmmm, I wanna try this: Sweet Potato Black Bean Crock Pot Chili

Awesome: Youth Demand Quality Alternatives to Incarceration in Chicago
"The New York Times... highlights what increasingly is a poorly kept secret but which is no less disturbing nonetheless: the hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees caught in the far-reaching web of the nation’s punitive and inhumane immigration detention system are at grave risk of being sexually assaulted and abused." source.

Image: Eartha Kitt, 1970

Watched some footage today from the Butch Trans Women Panel at the Butch Voices 2011 Conferences. It definitely brought to my attention some of my biases, assumptions, and general ignorance about transwoman (and how limited I still am in my understanding of gender expression generally).

I was talking to a friend of mine about Luther this morning. I finished the first season - it's only 6 episodes - and was pretty unimpressed with how they handled the plot and characters. It was like they jammed 3 seasons of 2 different shows into 6 episodes! But I'll still check out Season 2..... Anyways, I ended up ended up giving her an (unsolicited) list of my favorites from the BBC. Man, do they do tv right. I bet you wanted a run-down of BBC shows I love:

Classics: This is the only Poirot I consider legit. "Inspector Lynley" is great, as are "Inspector Lewis" and "Inspector Morse." I was way too excited when I checked out the Masterpiece Mystery site (sure) and saw that they are doing a prequel to Inspector Morse, which should be great. Also, a few years ago I got really into "Mi5," which I should return to (I can't remember if I finished the entire series or not....).

More recent: This year's "Zen" was ok, but not great (it's main strength was it's unusual lead, Rufus Sewell, but otherwise I didn't care for much). I liked "Case Histories" a little more, due in no small part to the hotness of the lead (might've also helped that I read the first book the series. I tried to do the same with "Zen" but couldn't get into it.) The "Song of Lunch" is an odd, one episode drama between two ex-lovers, Alan Rickman (Alan Rrrrrickman!) and Emma Thompson (perfect deo). Weird and sad, but excellent (and available to watch online). Finally, a favorite of both mine and my mom's (I even bought it for her one Christmas) is the drama/romance "Reckless." Oh, and last but not least, whoever had the idea of having Alan Cumming be the new Diana Rigg is a genius - thank you.


Gift Guide: Natasha

Despite my attempts at anti-consumerism (or, perhaps, because of them?) I felt like making a gift guide. The theme of this one is "Natasha." I know that might not mean much to you, but it's a list of gifts I would get one of my favorite people if I was loaded. And it might be a good place to find presents if you have a cat-loving, fashion-fearless, bad-ass radical in your life (you should be so lucky)! xoxo

* This Dreamcats 2012 calendar from Etsy seller fieldguided is gorgeous and funky, yet discrete enough to have in your office. Plus it ensures your friend thinks of you every day, which is very important.

* I love colorful little bags - you can always find a use for them (makeup, pens, hair ties, electronics cords, etc), and, I know it sounds lame, but just seeing a burst of color in my all-black, all-denim lifestyle does give me a little boost. I wish I could buy these cheap ones from F21 for all my ladies.

* This black garnet necklace is the perfect sorta punk, sorta classic accessory that both Natasha and I love to rock (or, ok, dream of rocking).

* This kitten awesome journal is hilarious (and the perfect place to rant about your frustrating days, if I'm not around to listen).

* I try to buy all my books used and/or from local booksellers (when I'm doing online shopping, I always get them from Powells). I'd love to buy Natasha and myself both copies of Manning Marable's new biography of Malcom X, to keep us inspired for the fight, and so we could have a mini bi-coastal book club.

* Spending more than, like, 10 cents on a hair tie seems ridiculous to me, but luckily this is just pretend, so I can say that these are super cute. They would be adorable worn as bracelets when you are letting your hair flow, and are perfect for ladies like me and Natasha, who like the long messy look but sometimes have to reign it in to be "lawyers."

* I'm a big fan of Yala, a company based here in Ashland, OR that sells insanely soft bamboo clothes and sheets. Having a comfortable bed is the best, and I would love to give my hard-working friend these luxurious sheets (and maybe also this shirt so we could be twins).

* This kitty sweater (left) from Need Supply might not be work-appropriate, but it's just perfect for weekend wear (with leggings, natch).

Happy 15th anniversary to my bff Lisette, my rock, and my inspiration. I love you, ELM - meeting you changed my life.


More great work by the NAACP LDF (and my incredible friend nk): "The findings of our research are gathered in this report, Defending Democrary: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America. The report reveals direct connections between the trend of increasing, unprecedented turnout among voters of color and the proliferation of restrictive measures across the country designed to thwart electoral strength among people of color—particularly those who are poor, young, or elderly."

Left: I just started reading "Blankets" by Craig Thompson. I was intimidated by it's size (over 500 pages!) but it is very absorbing. I would almost say it's a "quick" or "easy" read, but neither of these are quite true, since it's often (and pretty much immediately) heartbreaking, with powerful images and tales of an abusive childhood, religion, and first love.

I recently began listening to "Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money" by Geneen Roth. As with "Women Food God," I found Geneen Roth's voice pretty grating, but the content worth sticking it out for. With this book, Roth explores the the same connections between money & worth, control, mortality that she has previously explored with food. There are definitely a lot of moments of "I don't feel sorry for you, you're rich" and "Ugh, please stop talking about those glasses that you so badly want" - but then I realized a lot of the things she's saying are the same things I get sick of hearing in my very own head. Is listening to the truth of our unhealthy attachment to money and acquisition (and it's sometimes inexplicable relationship to food) enjoyable? Nope, but neither is living with it.

Also reading: "The Impossible Dead" by Ian Rankin (always gotta have a mystery), and "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann.

Looking forward to listening to this (they do a great job of filming the talks to make them available online: Zinn Lectures: Immigration and Occupy: Aviva Chomsky, a history professor at Salem State University will be giving a talk on Wed. Dec 7 at 5pm at Occupy Boston. She will be discussing Immigration and Occupy.


Go SOU! So proud of my friends that are working to make SOU (and the whole of Southern Oregon) more progressive and supportive for everyone. SOU pushes measures for gender-neutral campus: "University continues to make changes to reduce gender differentiation, and students like it."

Left: from Liz Prince

I'm worried I'm getting sick so I'm taking a few days off working out. It totally sucks but I hope it prevents me from getting really ill (everyone seems to be sick right now - guess it's that time of year.)

Still watching and liking the BBC show Luther, although the 3rd and 4th episodes definitely get more violent and have a little much of the explicit violence against women. (There're also some great music choices: Muse's cover of "Feeling Good," and Beck's "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime")

My mom got me two of these shirts (thanks, Mom!) and they are perfect - nice fit, soft fabric, good colors, and the right length (not so long that they are tunics or awkward with pants, but not so short that they ride up or show skin, even with low riders). Recommended!

Bhopal Disaster Survivors Protest On Anniversary: "Thousands blocked trains through a central Indian city on Saturday to demand more compensation. In 1985, a Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked lethal gas in Bhopal, killing an estimated 15,000 people and maimed tens of thousands more." Help demand Justice for Bhopal survivors!

Excellent documentary "If A Tree Falls" is now available on Netflix Instant! Check it out if you haven't seen it.


A Glimpse of Death Row in China: "Pictures of women on death row in China, republished online this week, provide a rare but officially approved glimpse of capital punishment in a country that executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined."

Check out the trailer for The Invisible War, which looks like a very powerful movie about the incredible epidemic of rape in the military.

Image: source. Hibernation time.

From the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a guide for trans activists, and those who support trans activists, for staying safe in direct actions.

The Millions: "The Harry Ransom Center has scanned and uploaded the syllabus from David Foster Wallace‘s Fall 1994 section of English 102: Literary Analysis."

I realized I haven't talked about it much lately but I'm still doing (5-7 times per week) and loving CrossFit. I'm definitely gaining muscle and strength, and appreciating the daily variety and challenge.

“Women who are fat are said to have ‘let themselves go.’ The very phrase connotes a loosening of restraints. Women in our society are bound. In generations past, the constriction was accomplished by corsets and girdles…. Women today are bound by fears, by oppression, and by stereotypes that depict large women as ungainly, unfeminine, and unworthy of appreciation…. Above all, women must control themselves, must be careful, for to relax might lead to the worst possible consequence: being fat.” - “Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship,” by Cecilia Hartley

Image: Diana Nyad (62 years old!) bears welts from jellyfish stings days after swimming 90 miles in the ocean. source.
Interesting article in the NYTimes about gift giving, its historical intents and current incarnation.

Just started watching "Luther" this week. I don't know what took me so long, it has so many things I love - it's a BBC show, it's about detectives, and Idris Elba is the star!

Image: source.

Excellent: My Sluthood, Myself (thanks pc!)

I got my mom the Clean Food cookbook a while back and have been really impressed by what she's made from it (it helps that she's a great cook) - clean, simple, yummy recipes, arranged by season, with beautiful photos. I wanna try this one next: Carrot Ginger Soup.

The Awl staff’s list of “Top Longreads of 2011.“

KDRV Amateur Athlete of the Week: My bada** coworker, Jim Sims! When not representing people in social security & disability hearings, Jim is winning Ironman triathlons - and, oh yeah, he's almost 70.

"Today is the anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat, resulting arrest and Montgomery boycott. The Grio discusses Park’s life and legacy, calling out her mischaracterization as 'a simple woman who chose not to stand because she had tired feet,' and recognizing her for who she was: 'a tireless advocate for justice.'"