12.31.2012

Of course one of my favorite scenes in "This Is 40" was Paul Rudd car scream-singing "Debaser" with his kids in tow. Dads who rock out to Pixies = win. It's just good parenting.
The image to the left is a special one to me - it's a photo of my father and I when we overlapped briefly in France in 2003. I had the painting done this Christmas as a gift for my pops, by a lovely artist I happened to find online (I think through a variety of comics blogs that linked to hers, maybe?) In addition to this piece, I also had four other paintings done as gifts. They were affordable, so fun, and the artist was a joy to work with. And now that everyone's gotten their present, I can sing her praises publicly! A number of people from my office liked them so much that they ordered their own for friends and family. They make unique, great gifts (if I do say so myself), so keep it in mind if you have any special events coming up.

Beautiful, frustrating, honest essay about aging, love, and the health care industry: What Broke My Father's Heart

Listening to: The Lumineers on World Cafe

Sure, why not: parodies/mashups of the classic cover art of Sonic Youth's 1990 album, Goo.

Saw "This Is 40" last night and laughed a lot more than I thought I would. Unfortunately, the movie goes on way too long and there are a solid 20+ minutes of the couple publicly fighting which is just....exhausting. Bonus points for all the 90's music, and the sheer attractiveness of the Mann/Rudd combo. Serious eye rolling at the improbably wealthy lifestyle of the couple, and the pat resolution of some emotional and financial issues, but, whatever, it's hardly a documentary.

Currently reading: 1222 (picked it up based on the recommendations of Murder By The Book, and also since it was an Edgar finalist).

I'm excited for our NYE menu tonight, which includes lemon garlic brussels sprouts (who knew? Turns out I like brussels sprouts), kale salad with blood orange and meyer lemon, and stuffed delicata squash with quinoa.

12.24.2012

Dorothy Day is an inspiring figure, but her autobiography is wearing me down. The woman never met a disagreeable task she didn't love; from staying up all night to care for her baby brother to shivering in the cold over books during college without a bite to eat - it's all greeted with a "philosophy of work" that, while admirable, isn't particularly interesting (or maybe simply not relatable to the less-saintly.) She admits she's not the best writer ever, which is certainly true. It's made me reflect on the art of the autobiography - it's probably rare that someone is both interesting enough to warrant a book and also somehow skilled enough to tell their own tale. I'm hoping the book picks up a bit once she reaches adulthood.

Image: source.

I went to the Somerville UCC for the first time yesterday. Those of you who have been Y&Y readers for the last 3+ years may remember that when I moved home to Ashland a couple of years ago, I began looking for a church community for the first time. I ended up joining the Ashland UCC, which became my faith community, my home, my family. It has been incredibly hard to leave them, and I've been hesitant about going to any new churches. Mainly, I think, because I knew they could never live up to my "real church home," and because it felt like such a fluke that I found the Ashland UCC. Anyways, I broke the seal and went to a new church. It wasn't earth shattering and, yes, it only made me miss the Ashland UCC more, but it also gave me something that I was missing. I'll be back.

We did some grocery shopping for the Christmas menu this weekend. We're going to be trying a bunch of new recipes including Winter Greens Gratin and Stuffed Delicata Squash. ps: In case anyone was wondering, Ben & Jerry's S'mores ice cream is as amazing as it sounds.

Currently reading Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag (the first in the three volume series). NYMag review here.

"I caution you as I was never cautioned: / you will never let go, you will never be satiated. / You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger. / Your body will age, you will continue to need. / You will want the earth, then more of the earth – / Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond. / It is encompassing, it will not minister. / Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you, / it will not keep you alive." from "The Sensual World" by Louise Glück

12.22.2012

Just finished Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff. Wry, smart, but not taking himself too seriously, Rakoff (who I'll always think of as "Our Friend David" bc of the TAL episode, which is absolutely incredible) contemplates everything from Log Cabin Republicans to high fashion to Playboy photo shoots. For someone so cranky and wary, he's also incredibly game to toss himself into new situations and experiences. He's just. so. lovely. It's hard to know how much of my affection was developed over years of hearing his voice on the radio, and whether I would enjoy the book otherwise, but, as it is, hearing his beautiful voice as I read each essay was a real treat. R.I.P. David.

Image: source.

Excellent mix of love songs (including this gem I had never heard). What can I say, I'm a sucker for a mix laden with blatant meaning, and hearing people talk about why the love the tunes they love. Is anything better?

Despite knowing next to nothing about art, I somehow ended up on this excerpt of Simon Schama on Rothko, and though it was amazing. "A space that might be where we came from or where we will end up. They're not meant to keep us out, but to embrace us; from an artist whose highest compliment was to call you a human being." Poetry.

"You have got to sometimes become the medicine you want to take. You have got to, absolutely got to put your face into the gash and sniff, and lick. You have got to learn to get sick. You have got to reestablish the integrity of your emotions so that their violence can become a health and so that you can keep on becoming. There is no sacrifice. You have got to want to live. You have got to force yourself to want to." - Ariana Reines, “Advertisemet”

12.20.2012

I'm not sure that I liked Sally Field's performance in Lincoln, but it definitely made me more curious about Mary Todd. This article was interesting.

As the new year approaches, it's time for a new planner. A lovely blank slate on which to write all my aspirational appointments (yoga 3x a week??) This time it's back to the Moleskin.

Image: source.

From WNYC: Housing Generations | Life in the Projects: Meet the Alston Family: "WNYC is telling the story of public housing in New York City through the lens of one family that has lived there for four decades. The Alstons arrived in the Queensbridge Houses in 1954, and many members continue to live there. This is part one of a four-part series."

Just started reading two books: The Long Loneliness, the autobiography of Dorothy Day, and Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff. More on Day by the New Yorker here: Day by Day: A Saint for the Occupy Era?  Also, recently added to my "to read" list: The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick and Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power by Seth Rosenfeld.

Such a good reminder . . . “People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.” - Pema Chödrön

12.18.2012

Stop the torture, stop the criminalization of mental illness: The Cost of Solitary Confinement: "Leroy Peoples, is a 30-year-old with a history of mental illness who was twice sentenced to solitary confinement. In 2005, he was sentenced to six months for “unauthorized possession of nutritional supplements” that were available for sale in the prison commissary. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years in isolation for having unauthorized legal materials. According to court documents, between 2007 and 2011, the state imposed 70,000 isolation sentences for offenses like having an “untidy cell or person,” or for “littering,” “unfastened long hair” or an “unreported illness.” On any given day, about 4,300 of the system’s inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day in tiny concrete cells, many of them destined to remain there for years. As additional punishment, prison officials can deny food, exercise, bedding or showers."

Image: source.

Like seemingly everyone else, I'm loving the Zadie Smith essay on Joy (damn it, I want my NYRB subscription back.) She starts off with a bang of a paragraph, and it only gets better from there: "It might be useful to distinguish between pleasure and joy. But maybe everybody does this very easily, all the time, and only I am confused. A lot of people seem to feel that joy is only the most intense version of pleasure, arrived at by the same road—you simply have to go a little further down the track. That has not been my experience. And if you asked me if I wanted more joyful experiences in my life, I wouldn’t be at all sure I did, exactly because it proves such a difficult emotion to manage. It’s not at all obvious to me how we should make an accommodation between joy and the rest of our everyday lives."

This article on Congo basically single-handedly destroyed me on Sunday. I don't know what else to say about it: The World’s Worst War.

During this Advent season: “For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning - not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.” - Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

And another from Buechner: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

12.15.2012

Just finished Mindy Kaling's "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" and was less than impressed. I liked the stories about her childhood and it was sort of interesting to hear the inside details of how she "made it" as writer in Hollywood, but she throws in too many random lists (about...fashion tips for guys?) just to round out the book, and her "I'm so wacky traditional" lust for "men should be men / marriage and monogamy are great" etc felt more boring and retro than adorable. Some funny bits, but I could've done with about half as much book.

Listening to: Jeff Buckley, "Mama, You've Been On My Mind" and "Last Goodbye (Live)." Good god, he was beautiful.

Image: source.

"The tongue says loneliness, anger, grief, / but does not feel them. / As Monday cannot feel Tuesday, / nor Thursday / reach back to Wednesday / as a mother reaches out for her found child. / As this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it. / Not a bell, / but the sound of the bell in the bell-shape, / lashing full strength with the first blow from inside the iron." ~ Jane Hirshfield from Come, Thief

“When we lose certain people, or when we are dispossessed from a place, or a community, we may simply feel that we are undergoing something temporary, that mourning will be over and some restoration of prior order will be achieved. But maybe when we undergo what we do, something about who we are is revealed, something that delineates the ties we have to others, that shows us that these ties constitute what we are, ties or bonds that compose us. It is not as if an ‘I’ exists independently over here and then simply loses a ‘you’ over there, especially if the attachment to ‘you’ is what composes who ‘I’ am. If I lose you, under these conditions, then I not only mourn the loss, but I become something inscrutable to myself. Who ‘am’ I, without you? When we lose some of these ties by which we are constituted, we do not know who we are or what to do. On one level, I think I have lost ‘you’ only to discover that ‘I’ have gone missing as well. At another level, perhaps what I have lost ‘in’ you, that for which I have no ready vocabulary, is a relationality that is composed neither exclusively of myself nor you, but is to be conceived as the tie by which those terms are differentiated and related.” - Judith Butler
Just another Saturday at work prepping for deportation hearings, just another chance to blast Public Enemy...
 

12.12.2012

Amazing letter from Amelia Earhart on the eve of her marriage.

One of my favorite bookstores, Portland's all-mystery Murder By The Book, has come out with their selections for best paperbacks of 2012.

From n+1, Threat Level: Against Homeland (spoilers if you're not current with the first few episodes of season 2).

Still slays me: Ben Howard covers Call Me Maybe.

Image: source.

Yes yes yes: Policing Female Masculinity: Much Ado About Rachel Maddow’s Yearbook Photo.

Important: Learning how to care for LGBT seniors: growing numbers face challenges different from their straight peers

From the ACLU: What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear a Challenge to DOMA Should Mean for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

Looks like a great upcoming event at my beloved NUSL: Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project presents NO WELCOME HOME: Remembering Harms and Restoring Justice, featuring Toni Morrison: "Join us for an historical and literary exploration with Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison. Professor Morrison and representatives of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project will discuss the harms suffered by so many during the civil rights era and highlight the current work to restore justice." (January 18, 2013)

“Whether or not we continue to enforce a universal conception of human rights at moments of outrage and incomprehension, precisely when we think that others have taken themselves out of the human community as we know it, is a test of our very humanity.” ― Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence

“Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. It is not about the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness, the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on all of us. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope's power. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.” - Chris Hedges

12.11.2012

18 Joyful Declarations Of Love From Newlyweds In Seattle

In my other, non-blogger life, I'm an immigration attorney, representing people who are facing deportation. This article does a pretty good job of introducing some of the challenges faced by immigrants caught up in proceedings, and the inconsistencies of the courts. Courts inside prisons, far from public view: "Frightened, confused, and often held far from home, thousands of immigrants find themselves at the mercy of a legal system that, for many, amounts to an assembly line toward deportation"

I watched a few episodes of this show recently: The Mind Of A Chef. It wasn't amazing, but it's a fast moving and interesting 20+ minutes, if you like food (or, at least for the first few episodes, have an interest in Japan and Japanese culture).

Image: source.

I just finished "The Sense Of An Ending" and I really don't know what to make of it. As all the reviews say, it's about memory, recollection, how we each choose to build a past (or pasts) for ourselves throughout life. The narrator definitely becomes less likable throughout the book, but likeability of the protagonist isn't a must....I'm not sure if it was my discomfort with him, my discomfort with the ending, or what it was that unsettled me - or if that is even a bad thing. I'm definitely curious to read more reviews and talk to people who have also recently finished the book.

“If you look at history, even recent history, you see that there is indeed progress...Over time, the cycle is clearly, generally upwards. And it doesn't happen by laws of nature. And it doesn't happen by social laws . . . t happens as a result of hard work by dedicated people who are willing to look at problems honestly, to look at them without illusions, and to go to work chipping away at them, with no guarantee of success - in fact, with a need for a rather high tolerance for failure along the way, and plenty of disappointments.” - Noam Chomsky

“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be the roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” - Osho

12.07.2012

I Stand with Father Roy: "Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch, received notice that the Vatican has dismissed him from the priesthood and from his order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, because of his stands for gender equality in the Catholic Church."

Definitely on the "to read" list: The Insubordinate Historian: The Life and Legacy of Howard Zinn. Also: I just started reading Julian Barnes' "The Sense of an Ending" - I'm a sucker for the Booker winners. This week I've been reading on the T instead of listening to podcasts - it definitely takes a little more focus than podcasts, but it also felt more like a 10 minute visit to another world, instead of just a distracted commute. Think I'll keep it up. I've also been reading Mindy Kaling's "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" at night, and snickering with recognition and glee.

Image: source.

Always love The Million's Year in Reading.

Love these Freaks and Geeks reunion pics! Everyone should watch the (sob) one season available, but especially if you have a kid in (or nearing) middle or high school.

One person's love for the poem Wild Geese, a poem that means so much to so many (including me) - in this case, an undocumented woman and writer.

Excellence by fellow NUSL alum Chase Strangio, Debating 'Gender Identity Disorder' and Justice for Trans People.

It was pretty interesting to watch Where I'm From: JAY Z Barclays Center Documentary after seeing Battle for Brooklyn at this years aiff.

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

12.05.2012

I'll probably never fully recover from seeing the Avett Bros at Britt this summer.