12.20.2013

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

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

Image: source.

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

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

12.13.2013

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

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

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

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

11.20.2013



Video: serious awesomeness.

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

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

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

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

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

11.14.2013

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

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

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

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

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


Video: "Finding Vivian Maier" looks fascinating!

 The Guardian: Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes "ACLU report chronicles thousands of lives ruined by life sentences for crimes such as shoplifting or possession of a crack pipe."

Welcome to Dinovember! One month of awesome imagination and parenting.

Over the long weekend I found myself absorbed in Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap. It was very readable, Wolitzer is clearly smart and observant, and I appreciated the interwoven story lines and characters, and the attention paid to different women's experiences of career, family, etc. I think the main problem was that the different women weren't different enough, and eventually it was just too insular and bland. With the exception of one minor character, all of the women involved are white, straight, married, upper middle class women. It's not that Wolitzer ignores this reality - the characters make a fair number of self consciously liberal references to race and class (especially $$$) - but in the end it was just boring. Plenty of women of varying sexual orientations and socio economic placements have lots to say about these same issues, and even if their exclusion from the small world of this novel certainly didn't rise to the level of racist or classist, or render the book without merit, it nonetheless missed an opportunity to make the book more interesting and relatable. (In Wolitzer's later book, The Interestings, she seems to consciously do a better job with issues of race, sexual orientation, and money, but she still has a long way to go. Her mentions of money and class in both books seem so self conscious and intentional to me (sort of an "I guess I should explain how these people afford to live in NYC!" afterthought), and there's one pat resolution of a money situation in The Interestings that had me seriously eye rolling.) Apart from these issues, the hardest part of this book for me was just what a SAD portrait of modern women this was. None of the characters in this book seem remotely happy with themselves, their careers, their role as mothers or as wives. I am desperate to believe that while some of this may be true, there MUST be women out there who have found some fulfillment....Despite the flaws of both, I liked The Ten Year Nap, as I liked The Interestings, for the wonderful writing and wry observations. I just wish Wolitzer could expand her world a little bit.

"Oxfam aid teams are on the ground in the Philippines and reporting urgent needs of food, clean water, medicine and shelter. Communication lines between some provinces are cut and many areas are experiencing total black outs. Thousands are feared dead, and local emergency food stocks are dwindling. Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, is the strongest storm in the world this year and quite possibly the most powerful to ever hit land. Oxfam teams are assessing the extent of the damage now and are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected. We urgently need your help to scale up our response. Please donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund to rush emergency aid to the region."

11.12.2013

A beautiful, short (I could read a book!) essay about relationships and love and life and death: Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed

Incredible bravery: Despite Barriers, Farm Worker Breaks Silence About Rape Case

Looks awesome: Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, a beautiful YA graphic novel on the life of great lady primatologists.

Image: Angela Dalinger "Little Homes"

So moving: Photographer Takes Beautiful Portraits of Shelter Dogs to Find Them Homes

Lila Rice has amazing big metal earrings!

This (long) weekend I devoured The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. Despite being a pretty depressing examination of female displeasure with marriage, work, and motherhood, it was very readable and thought-provoking. I wished it hadn't been so white and straight, but I still thought it was worth a read, and would be a great book club book - lots of discussion to be had.

Help save lives in the Philippines, donate to Oxfam America's Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund

11.04.2013

Anne Lamott On Coming Back After Tragedy. "I realized I wasn't hungry for what I wasn't getting and achieving, I was hungry for what I wasn't giving, for the inability to just be, just be, instead of to do, or impress." Can't wait to read her new book.

Image: art work of kirsten sims.

This weekend I read Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell. My God, I loved this book. I loved it as a woman with deep female friendships, I loved it as an introvert with a passion for solitude, I loved it as an adult transplant to Cambridge and Boston, I loved it as one who has experienced someone I love getting a serious illness.....I just loved it this book. Heart-wrenching for sure, but so clear-eyed and wonderful. Throughout, I thought again and again of this Rilke quote (which, to be honest, I could not remember was Rilke, but just heard vaguely echoing through my head): "Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." With "Let's Take The Long Way" Caldwell lays bare the intimacy of her incredible relationship with her best friend and soulmate, vividly portraying the ways in which they broached, and pushed through, and protected each others solitude. This memoir is an incredible act of love, of bravery, and gratitude, and humility, and it is truly a gift to us all.

Does anyone have a favorite granola recipe? I've tried a few, and really like homemade granola more than the store-bought stuff, but I feel like there's room for improvement....open to any ideas.

I admit I was dubious about this because, modeling, who cares - but, my bad. This essay is awesome.

11.01.2013

Real talk: 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed.

So, I started doing hot yoga again, about two weeks ago, after a few years off. It is, basically, blowing my mind. I think about it when I'm at work, and I miss it when I am not able to go. In the past I did Bikram, which I loved, but this time I'm doing Baptiste (Power Vinyasa), basically due to proximity to my house and a good first month membership deal. Anyways, it's awesome. It's like therapy and meditation and exercise and a spa treatment (all the sweating!) at once. And, when there are people walking around doing adjustments, it's also sort of like massage. I'm seriously hooked, especially heading into winter. On the consumerist tip, I will also report that these are the most amazing hot yoga pants I have ever worn. They are def thin, if that bothers you (they are leggings, not pants), but I love love love them - soft, a great length (I'm short - 5'3" - and they don't bunch up. I did order a little larger - M - than I maybe NEEDED to, but I love the way they fit), a little lose around the ankles, and a perfect waist band. Not cheap, and sort of weird patterns, but whatever.

Image: source.

Solitary confinement's invisible scars

Making the rounds, and for good reason: The Logic of Stupid Poor People: "What we forget, if we ever know, is that what we know now about status and wealth creation and sacrifice are predicated on who we are, i.e. not poor. If you change the conditions of your not-poor status, you change everything you know as a result of being a not-poor. You have no idea what you would do if you were poor until you are poor. And not intermittently poor or formerly not-poor, but born poor, expected to be poor and treated by bureaucracies, gatekeepers and well-meaning respectability authorities as inherently poor. Then, and only then, will you understand the relative value of a ridiculous status symbol to someone who intuits that they cannot afford to not have it."

And a little something to make you smile.

"According to Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha, everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: 'For my sake was the world created.' But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: 'I am but dust and ashes.'"[Thanks to Rev. Pam, UCC Ashland, for yet another beautiful sermon, and for still guiding me from afar.]

“Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.” - Anthony de Mello (from Tara Brach's article Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable)

10.31.2013

Mary Oliver "Starlings in Winter"

Chunky and noisy, 
but with stars in their black feathers, 
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly 
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air, 
they swing over buildings, 
dipping and rising; 
they float like one stippled star
that opens, 
becomes for a moment fragmented, 
then closes again; 
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine 
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause, 
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing, 
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again, 
full of gorgeous life. 
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us, 
even in the leafless winter, 
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it; 
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground, 
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want 
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, 
as though I had wings.

(Image: source)

10.21.2013


I'm reading two good books right now. The first is, of course, a mystery - "Silent Voices: A Vera Stanhope Mystery" by Ann Cleeves. I remember watching and liking at least one episode of the Vera Stanhope series on BBC, and I'm enjoying the book so far (even though it's not the first in the series - oops, started with number three). Cleeves has a great sense of a humor and a straightforward manner that matches Vera's attitude. I'm also reading a very different book - "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis. It's been on my "to read" list for a while but I admit that I deprioritized it probably because it's an Oprah book. Even though I'm personally a fan of Lady O, I still get embarrassed seeing that emblem on the cover of books. Anyways, I was a fool because "Hattie" is incredible. Sad, and unusually structured, but powerful and readable and just incredibly written. It was hard for me to stop reading it this morning!

Image: source.

The Importance of Sadness: "Sadness isn't necessarily something to be avoided. In fact, Susan Piver says despair can be the consequence of fighting it. Compassion is what happens when you don’t."

Now We Are Five: A poignant essay by David Sedaris.

Fit & Feminist nails it, yet again: What Does Domestic Violence Have To Do With This Blog? Everything: "This is why I fight so hard against the social constructs that say women and girls are weak and inferior, and why I refuse to accept a model of fitness that is adamant that women should want only to be as small as possible. (This is why I cannot abide Tracy Anderson!)...As you can see, the belief fitness is a feminist issue is one that is very personal to me, and not just in the sense that I can critique mainstream fitness until my fingers fall off, but because I know first-hand of the way that the pursuit of fitness can be a force for positive change in one’s life. I’ve seen how it can be used to keep women anxious and weak and vulnerable, but I’ve also seen over and over again how it can accomplish the opposite, how it can help women learn to take up space and to be courageous and to believe wholeheartedly in their own personal power."

"The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Thanks, ELM xo)

10.17.2013

I recently finished The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It was intimate yet expansive, well-constructed and satisfying. Yes, the characters can be a little precious and precocious, but it was a great read, and by the end of the (not short) book, I was entirely trusting of where and how Wolitzer was leading me. Next I read "Me Before You," which I also found very readable. It's not as well constructed or complex as "The Interestings" but it was a great long weekend read.

Really thought-proviking, and I love the interview with her: "Hannah Price’s series, City of Brother Love, features portraits of men in Philadelphia captured just moments after they’d harassed her on the street."

Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes: The Insidious Power of Not-Quite-Harassment.

Image: “I Want Everything to Be Okay chronicles a year in McNinch’s goal to live a sober life. The 98 pages are filled with updates on her life: her interaction with roommates, friends, her cats, and her work. This is no 12-step tract, her life is as imperfect as everyone else’s. I Want Everything to Be Okay is this artist’s diary, with some days filled with dialog and others a landscape or simple sketch. I am not surprised that McNinch is revered as a founder of the autobiographical comic. Her style is impressive and unflinchingly honest, whether she is discussing her yearning for alcohol or her acupuncture treatment for depression.” Can't wait to read this. source.

A powerful, important personal essay: Coming Out Again: The Politics of Shame, Silence and Story: "[A]lthough I had offered a tight narrative arc -- from self-hatred to self-acceptance -- I had left out how often and easily I am rendered powerless and in danger just three blocks from my own home. I had left
out the part about how, when this happens, there remains a small but powerful voice inside me that insists that this is somehow my fault, that it's me and not the bigots who are wrong, that somehow my difference invites danger, that I am a burden to my partner and the people who love me. I had left out the part about how, even today, I still carry with me pieces of the lies that I learned very young. I know that isolation is the thing that keeps these lies in place and grants them power. I know that telling our stories, breaking that isolation, is the only way to transform that dynamic....we must tell our stories to change the minds of strangers who might do us harm, so that one day we'll be safe to walk down our streets, but that we must keep telling our stories, wholly and completely, to those who love us, so that they can hold and support us and sustain us today."

"Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason." - Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (I haven't read this book yet, but I'm really looking forward to it)

10.10.2013

From Seinberg Holistic Health Coaching: "What if it wasn’t a problem?" I've used a version of this ("What if everything is already perfect?") myself over the last few years and have been amazed how it can just snap me out of certain moments, give me a little space in between fears and anxieties to be present.

Let the Fire Burn sounds like an incredible documentary. I knew nothing about this piece of American history in Philadelphia. (One of my best friends lives in Philly and I visited her there a few months ago and have been really interested in the city ever since.)

Image: source. Swoon.

Are We Fabulous Yet? "The tyranny of queer beauty."

Incredible article: Lampedusa's Migrant Tragedy, And Ours

Ugh. Is This the Grossest Advertising Strategy of All Time? "A new study claims to identify the times of the week that women are feeling the most insecure about their bodies, and recommends that brands 'concentrate media during prime vulnerability moments.'"

I recently finished watching Season 1 of the BBC series "Broadchurch," a mystery about the death of a boy in small town England. It was wonderful. Just great acting, great charecture development, kept me guessing. Definitely grey (sort of like "The Killing") but pleasantly not gory or too exploitative, in the way that so many current TV mysteries can be. Just sad and smart and effecting. Definitely recommended.

Fit & Feminist does it again. Great thoughts and tips and reflections: Five Thoughts On Body Confidence On My 34th Birthday

10.02.2013

Really made me think: You Are Not Defined Exclusively By Your Relationships With Other People

This food blog is gorgeous, I look forward to trying out some of recipes: The First Mess.

What a woman, what a life: Once Alienated, and Now a Force in Her Husband’s Bid for Mayor, a profile of Chirlane McCray.

Image: frost at Walden Pond. Source.

Wonderful, there's so much to here love - office supplies, a 70 year long marriage, the wonderful routine of dining out: 103 year old man dines out alone, every night. I remember some of the first times I ever went out to eat on my own, as a teenager, and how incredible it felt to just read, watch people, and feel like I was treating myself. It always felt like a little bit of a challenge - to not feel awkward or uncomfortable - and also like a wonderful indulgence.

I just finished "Dear Life" by Alice Munro. Well, I can't lie - I didn't actually finish it. I'm not sure quite what to say about the book. The stories in this collection (the first I've read of the much-lauded Munro) are timeless in a way I don't know that I've experienced before. Timeless not in the sense of enduring classics that will outlast the ages (although perhaps they are) but timeless in the sense of seeming to exist outside of specific locations or eras (with few exceptions). It's a bit disconcerting - as I occasionally realized I had no idea what decade, country, etc I was in - but ultimately, in it's best moments, forces you to trust the author and simply be present in whatever moment you're dropped into, trusting the universe of the story to flesh itself out. In the end, however, I just couldn't seem to get my bearings. Maybe I just wasn't in the right place for this book. There was at least one story that I think will stick with me for a long time, but many of these others I just couldn't get my baring, they felt SO internal that they seemed unrooted. I will definitely try other Munro, and maybe even return to "Dear Life." As much as I am a fan of dropping books when they aren't quite working for you, I think there are some worth trying again.

“Nobody can save you but / Yourself / And you’re worth saving. / It’s a war not easily won / But if anything is worth winning then / This is it.” - Charles Bukowski, “Nobody But You”

10.01.2013

The NYTimes on the mental cost of dieting. Thanks to (the always awesome) Fit & Feminist for posting it with this on-point quote from Naomi Wolf: "A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one."

Incredible commitment to love and peace in the face of violence: Harlem hate crime victim Prabhjot Singh: I’m feeling gratitude

Image: source. Hey, it's true.

This is one of the books I'm reading right now: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. It's a fascinating historical portrait of the time immediately before and surrounding the birth of Jesus. It's aims are primarily historical, not religious (although the author openly discusses his own religious experiences in the Introduction), and it's fascinating to learn more about Roman rule, the history of Judaism, and the birth of Christianity. The reviews have been mixed (see the link above to the NYT Book Review), but I'm enjoying it.

I really liked, and related to, this post about running by someone I went to college with. Despite the fact that the upcoming half marathons continue to be plenty challenging, I'm finding myself itching to train for a marathon next year, not really sure why (except, I guess, what a great experience I had with one in 2010....) Thoughts On Running

A powerful personal essay: When I Couldn't Feed My Family. "I’m here to testify that, for most of us, financial disaster is one or two paychecks away. Even today, if I were to lose my job, I would be in dire circumstances within four weeks. I wish that the Republicans who are waging war on the poor in this country could experience what it is like to find themselves in the position that so many of us face. That we’re all a small financial disaster away from not being able to feed our children. That punishing the poor for lacking money is bullying those who have found themselves weakened in an economy that is taking no prisoners. But I’m also here to testify that there is no shame in being poor."

9.19.2013

A sad, wonderful personal essay. "Beauty Trap" by Harmony Nealon via The Toast.

This is amazing. So on point re: street harassment, rape culture, and just...selfishness. Amazing Missed Connection Takes Down Street Harassing Dickwads (And, as bonus, a great cartoon from the comments section: Street Harassment)

Really interesting: Who's Really Left Out Of The CrossFit Circle, by Gene Denby.

Image: source. DGU.

I went to a talk by Susan Piver last night, a Buddhist teacher who talks a lot about relationships. She was great, and I definitely look forward to reading more of her work. Here's one article that gives you a good sense of her down to earth, open way of writing: Vows, Shambhala Sun.

I've read a lot of books since I was last on here. The second in Denise Mina's Alex Morrow series - The End of the Wasp Season - was wonderful, however, the next in the series - Gods and Beasts - didn't stack up. I, like everyone else it seems, was completely entertained by Maria Semple's "Where'd You Go, Bernadette." Despite liking some of her other books, "The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett never really worked for me, and I was underwhelmed by the much-celebrated "The Middlesteins" by Jami Attenberg. I'm now reading Alice Munro's most recent collection of short stories, "Dear Life" which has definitely gotten under my skin, although I'm still not sure what exactly to make of it....

Oh, and I've also been reading a Daily Devotional I got from the UCC national website, but not loving it. If any of you progressive Christians out there (or anyone else, really) has a daily devotional you like, I'd love suggestions.

“Spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeats. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way. Pray for the grace it will take to continue what you would like to quit.” - Joan D. Chittister

7.07.2013

Devastating: Last Words of the Condemned: "Texas has executed 500 inmates since it resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982. Selected excerpts of inmates’ last words reveal a glimpse of the humanity behind those anonymous numbers, with everything from apologies to claims of innocence and expressions of anger to prayers." 

'Things Have Changed' - an op-ed by the amazing Natasha M. Korgaonkar, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which defended the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why self-improvement makes you neurotic (h/t Amy!)

Image: by artist Torie Leigh

Love this...and relate! Sara Seinberg: How to Succeed at Failure. "I am a reluctant and deeply untalented runner. This beautiful fact is the main way I have found to practice being bad at something and just doing it anyhow. For five years I have remained stunned at the gifts I have limped away with, not matter how graceless my path becomes. I stumble, I quit, I trudge, I walk and I lapse altogether in this endeavor, but there is some kind of gem that brings me back again and again. And that gem is failure."

We Are All Subversives: Femme Strength and Queer Solidarity

I recently read two books - the much-lauded novel "The Middlesteins," which I was fairly "eh" about, and also a novel/not novel called "How Should A Person Be?" With the latter, I had the all-to-rare of late experience of reading a whole book in a day this past weekend. While it isn't a perfect book, it was a great reading experience, and I was anxious to see what others had written about Heti's "sort of" novel. Well, sometimes nothing cements your appreciation for a book more than a crappy review of the book. In this case, Katie Roiphe's "Not Quite How a Person Should Be: Grow up, Sheila Heti!" I'll give Roiphe the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn't pick the title, but it still does a pretty decent job of conveying Roiphe's condescending and dismissive attitude towards the book. Roiphe's critiques of the book echo critiques of "Girls" and both annoy me for the same reason - reviewers seem to underestimate Heti and Dunham's own self awareness, accusing them of being self absorbed and too concerned with the view of others, without understanding that this concern, this awareness, is a core subject of both Heti and Dunham's work. Neither "How Should..." or "Girls" is 100% autobiographical but neither are they 100% satire. This seems to baffle reviewers. Could it possibly be that both Heti and Dunham want to earnestly discuss something incredibly intimate and revealing - the way that we live our lives aware of the observation of others, and in the shadow of our own self-conscious critique - while at the same time mocking and doubting these same impulses? Gasp! It's almost like they are....artists!

Roiphe's review is so incredibly condescending (starting right off the bat with an opening line labeling Heti's book "fashionable") that its almost breathtaking. She really takes it over the edge with her conclusion:

"At one point Sheila and Margaux go swimming in a pool in Miami. Sheila says: 'I’m so happy with how we were making everyone jealous with how happy we were in the pool!' For me, this vignette captures what’s irritating and fundamentally false feeling about the book. The elaborate, perpetual performance in front of the imagined jealous audience is exhausting and ultimately drains this book of its potentially more interesting life force or examination. The reader can’t help thinking to herself at that point: Just swim, Sheila Heti! Just swim!"

UGH! Seriously, Roiphe? Heti doesn't offer this up as an, "Aw shucks, I just can't live in the moment, wish I could dance like no one is watching" or "Hey, everyone, look at me!" vignette. It's part of the entire book-long conversation about performance, art, piecing together a personality and life. In fact, the previously mentioned Margaux responds to Sheila's comment with a considerable amount of eye-rolling, but leave it to Roiphe to omit this for the purposes of her own lame conclusion. One final note: critics of both Heti and Dunham always seem anxious to lapse into a "young women these days are so self absorbed" rant. And I will be the 1,000,000th person to point out what sexist bs this is. The questions Heti is examining in this book are questions that have been considered by many - even respectable grown men! - for centuries. Questions about art, self, relationships, and intelligence. I'm sorry for any reviewers who can't see past the fact they are being asked by a woman in her 30s, in 2013.

6.11.2013

Interesting portrait, impressively presented without judgment: Marriage Fraud: An Intimate Portrait of a Green Card Marriage 

Difficult and important: Why Queers Should Care About Sex Offenders

NYTimes: A Conservative Case for Prison Reform

Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges. Interesting article about motivation and the difference between "self-compassion" and indulgence.

Image: Petrova Giberson, (as yet untitled), 2009.

I'm overdue for a visit to Portland, and missing it: Where to Take a Date for Cocktails in Portland, OR.

"Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!" - Henri-Frédéric Amiel (One version of the benediction at my home church. Missing the Ashland UCC a lot.)

“For me, queer theory is the emblematic example of how we say the value of what queer politics brings is a challenge to what is the normal. And it’s of course what that whole angst is about 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' and marriage equality. On the one hand, those are basic citizenship rights, right? You always know that there’s some second-class citizenship going on in military policy and marriage policy, right? If you’re looking for second-class citizenship, look in those things and you’ll often find it. So it’s a very reasonable set of political strategies, but the problem is also a very normative set of political strategies, right? It’s not about, 'We have a right to be queer and create different kinds of communities and different definitions of family.' It’s about, 'Look how much just like you we can be; look how respectable we can be, see; we can have our families look just like your families, and we can serve in the military just like you; and so look how straight we can be!' Rather than, 'Look how queer we can be and look at how valuable it is to take queerness and open up the very definition of what constitutes respectable and normal.'” - Melissa Harris-Perry

6.10.2013

I finally finished reading "Gaudy Night" (originally published in 1935). While I liked the head-strong and marriage-wary protagonist a lot, I could never really get into the "mystery" and had a hard time keeping all the secondary characters straight. I'm glad to have read it, since Sayers is a classic, but I'm not sure I'll read another of her books. Now, a biography of her, that's an other story...

I'm now reading the novel "All This Talk Of Love," written by a friend of a friend. I went to a reading by the author last month and left wanting to know more about the family. So far the book does not disappoint - I started last night, kept reading this morning on my (now too short feeling!) commute, and am already on page 114.

Image: awesome comics artist whose work I love, Ramsey Beyer, donated custom drawings to anyone who donated money to her National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon. Since she is a fellow CrossFitter, I requested that mine be of a woman lifting...and this is the awesome drawing I just got in the mail! Money for a good cause, and a sweet drawing to boot, pretty good deal!

A Few Thoughts On The Youtube Trolls And Why It Really Is Okay To Be Fat And Visible. Great article about how trolling and harassment silence people, and why visibility matters.

The Importance of Sadness. "Despair is what happens when you fight sadness. Compassion is what happens when you don’t. It will not feel “good,” it will feel alive and this aliveness is the path to bliss."

Powerful power and story. Hard to believe it's been less than two months since that day: Fateful Boston Marathon Photo: Mass. General’s ER At 4:15 On 4/15

5.22.2013

Beautiful, simple, honest: Multiplicity.

A practical and much-needed-by-me post by Amy, Making A Gentle Return To Healthy Habits

Image: Delivering a dinosaur to the Boston Museum of Science (Arthur Pollock, 1984) 

Loved this from Tara Brach: A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

What Comes After Hope by Rebecca Solnit

My "currently reading" list has gotten out of hand, and is weighing far too heavily on the "thick and serious" side: Bleak House (my first go at Dickens), Parting The Waters (still, and for a while), Gaudy Night, and The Gifts of Imperfection (by the very popular Brené Brown, who I just read a good interview with in O Magazine. (Yes, I occationally read O.))

"Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them." - Bill Watterson (thanks m.b)

5.06.2013

This is fascinating for so many reasons (I wish my clients had access to the internet!): With few other outlets, inmates review prisons on Yelp

More brilliance from Fit & Feminist: My problem with women-only races is not the ‘women-only’ part. Hell yes to all of this! "Surely there has to be a way to organize women-only races that isn’t based upon lowest-common-denominator stereotypes ripped from the pages of Cosmo."

Wonderful. Griner Says She Is Part of Mission to Help All Live in Truth 

Image: source.

Yes, please. NYTimes: The 46 Places to Go in 2013

Interesting: Why Jason Collins’ Faith is Ignored... And Tebow’s Isn’t

A detailed and shocking article about the reality of immigration detention in the US: Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses—We Have Private Prisons to Fill : The profits and losses of criminalizing immigrants.

"You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment." - Annie Dillard

5.02.2013


OK. Back to it.

Moving, hopeful story: Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school

Awesome: Kim Gordon's Personal Rap Playlist For "Traumatized Times"

I'll definitely be reading the Beastie Boys memoir.

Recently finished Beautiful Ruins, which was highly recommended by both Murder By The Book and the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.
I'm not sure what to make of this book...but I do have things to say! First, while there are some reveals in the plot, I wouldn't really call it a mystery. I got into it quickly, which was great, and really loved being swept up into the book. However, as the book went on, it became less mysterious and lovely and I felt like I could see the plot and structure machinations, and the distracted me. For me, it became more about just watching it unfold as a plot and less of an engrossing, enjoyable piece of writing. Overall, I'd recommend it, especially as a vacation/weekend read, but I wasn't as blown away as some of the reviews had me hoping I would be. (ps: I heard it's becoming a movie, and that makes perfect sense. It could be a great one!)

100 Amazing Trans Americans You Should Know

Rode my bike last week for the first time in months (my mom and stepdad just very kindly sent it to MA from OR) and it filled some hole I didn't even know I had. Something about riding made me feel more like myself, more at peace - even on the loud, bumpy, chaotic streets of Boston (still getting used to city riding).

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal." - Cheryl Strayed (thanks, Amy!)

4.16.2013

I love you, Boston.

I'm speechless today, or at least any words I have feel pointless. Yesterday was unlike anything I've ever seen or experienced in my life. We were down on Boylston St. watching the marathon all day yesterday, and waiting for a friend to finish (she was 10 min away, thankfully) when the bombs went off. I can still see the debris and smoke and look of fear on peoples faces, and smell the weird, chemically odor, and hear the deep booms and screams. I'm so grateful that everyone I love is safe, and absolutely heartbroken for the victims, for everyone who experienced loss, for everyone who experienced the fear of not knowing where loved ones were, for the children around me who never should have experienced this trauma, for everyone who is scared to walk on our streets today. I can't make sense of this.

4.10.2013

New podcast added to the rotation: The Dinner Party

I thought this article was fascinating: "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?" I don't know anything about organizational psychology, but I thought the author did a great job of painting a portrait of this interesting man, while also mentioning some of the criticism of his work specifically and also organization psychology as a whole. I'd love to read more on the topic.

Happy birthday to Dolores Huerta, labor leader and civil rights activist. Born on April 10, 1930, Huerta, along with César Chávez, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Image: source.

Josh Ritter on Daytrotter, beautiful. We are going to see him live in Boston soon, too!

Sam Tanenhaus is stepping down as editor of the New York Times Book Review - I'll miss him on the podcast! It always seemed like he would make the coolest boss.

 Great programs - restorative justice in schools: Opening Up, Students Transform a Vicious Circle

Yay Bard! Rigorous Schools Put College Dreams Into Practice

"What's prayer? It's shooting shafts into the dark. What mark they strike, if any, who's to say? It's reaching for a hand you cannot touch. The silence is so fathomless that prayers like plummets vanish into the sea. You beg. You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will. Yet Godric prays the way he breathes, for else his heart would wither in his breast. Prayer is the wind that fills his sail. Else drift with witless tides. And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard." - Frederick Buechner

3.27.2013

Thank god for love like this, for people like this: A Natural History of My Marriage by Jill McDonough

Just watched the wonderful documentary, We Were Here: "We Were Here documents the coming of what was called the “Gay Plague” in the early 1980s. It illuminates the profound personal and community issues raised by the AIDS epidemic as well as the broad political and social upheavals it unleashed. It offers a cathartic validation for the generation that suffered through, and responded to, the onset of AIDS. It opens a window of understanding to those who have only the vaguest notions of what transpired in those years. It provides insight into what society could, and should, offer its citizens in the way of medical care, social services, and community support."

Image: source. The power of prayer...

On point: Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change

Terrible. A woman incarcerated for a crime she committed at 17, dies in prison, 44 years later: "Sharon Wiggins didn't want much: A walk down a city street, to sit in a car and listen to the rain, to have coffee with her sister, to wake up without someone observing her. These and other experiences that most people take for granted were out of Sharon's reach for the last 44 years. She had been a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy since age 17. She always thought she would die in prison. And she did, Sunday, of a heart attack at age 62."

"Progressivism is a spectrum; it’s not an ideology following one leader saying one thing. It’s many people who have very wildly diverging opinions about many things. But, as progressives, if we could commit to a general frame of reference that we are about improving the quality of life for a lot more people, we’re about helping working and middle-class people, and we’re about taking care of poor people, we could really make some inroads in political power in this country. But, if we choose to be purists, if we choose to be arguing for a consensus we will never reach, for agreement on every point, it’s never going to happen." - Urvashi Vaid

3.23.2013

It's rare that I say this about a New Yorker profile, but I thought Toobin's profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg could've been twice as long. What a fascinating, inspiring person and career. (The article also made me think about feminism in a way I haven't in a while...but my thoughts are far from fully formed...)

A handy overview of the marriage equality cases coming up this month.

Image: Crater Lake, OR

Yo La Tengo covers The Supremes "Come See About Me." Not amazing, but I'll take any excuse to listen to this song.

The most recent "random band that I've never liked and now like all of a sudden" is R.E.M. I did get "Monster" for Christmas one year, and loved it, but I never got into the older stuff (despite the strident urgings of Sassy). Anyways, loving it: "Half A World Away,""You Are The Everything."

Currently reading: Against Equality's "Prisons Will Not Protect You." An excellent overview/primer of queer critiques of hate crimes legislation and the prison/immigration detention industry. (Since all the essays are brief and on the same topic, it gets a little repetitive and doesn't have the chance to get super in depth, but I still think it's a great resource and intro to these issues.) I'm also reading Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law by Dean Spade.

Why is this song SO good?! I don't even mind that it's been stuck in my head for almost a week. (I've been throwing in the Matthew Sweet and Lemonheads covers as well, just to mix it up): The Stone Poneys (feat Linda Ronstadt) "Different Drum (1967)"

3.08.2013

Feel like this could've been funnier but, still, pretty spot on: from The Onion: Pretty Cute Watching Boston Residents Play Daily Game Of ‘Big City’

Listening to: "Always Alright" Alabama Shakes, "I Knew You Were Trouble" (starts at min 2) Taylor Swift (and yes, I laughed too hard at the goat version), "Halah (live, 1994)" Mazzy Star.

(Image: shared via multiple people on Facebook, I'm not sure of the original source.) Happy International Women's Day!

I went to yoga this week for the first time in....I don't know, almost a year. It was amazing. Difficult and awkward and humbling and uncomfortable...and amazing.

On my "to read" this weekend: ACLU's report Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia, Prof. Libby Adler's (got NUSL!) article Sex As A Team Sport: A Reaction to Hanna Rosins The End of Men," Prisoners' Legal Services of MA's white paper The Current State of Parole in Massachusetts. So much awesome work being done out there.

"I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least." - Dorothy Day (I think about this quote a lot - Dorothy Day, you set the bar so high!)

3.06.2013

So proud of all the work my honey has done to help launch Oxfam's most recent campaign. Be an informed consumer - learn where your food is coming from, and where your money is going: "Behind the Brands is part of Oxfam’s GROW campaign to help create a world where everyone has enough to eat. Right now, nearly one in eight people on earth go to bed hungry . . . The Behind the Brands Scorecard assesses the agricultural sourcing policies of the world's 10 largest food and beverage companies [and] aims to provide people who buy and enjoy these products with the information they need to hold the Big 10 to account for what happens in their supply chains." (And I LOVE the website! Just gorgeous.)

Amazing work done by the NAACP LDF and other orgs at the Supreme Court last week, defending voters rights. Love you, NK! 

Image: source.

I signed up last week for the Siskiyou Outback 15K in August - that's right, I'll be back running the trails of Mt. Ashland this summer! I can't wait to visit home...Only wish I was badass enough to bust out 50K...

(Trigger warning for domestic violence, child abuse) A photojournalist working on a project about the stigma associated with being an ex-convict captures startling photos of domestic violence. The whole series is powerful, managing to portray some of the isolation and tension leading up to abuse, and the aftermath suffered by the family.

Loved this post by my girl Amy. And one of the many things we share is a love of Anne Lamott: "But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home." - Anne Lamott

"The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research 'childhood.' There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises 'adolescence.' The feeling haunts people all their lives.

Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again..." - from Michael Chabon's NYRB article about Wes Anderson (thanks to mdr for the heads up!)

2.25.2013

Yes: Their Laws Will Never Make Us Safer, from Dean Spade.

Great article from Jessica Valenti, She Who Dies With the Most 'Likes' Wins?: "The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us, we need a few people to love us. Because what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully known—an impossibility both professionally and personally if you’re so busy being likable that you forget to be yourself."

Image: shot I took today near my office! City life has it's charms....

I'll admit it, I'm behind - tons of articles in the "to read" column right now, among them: What Is a Good Life? by Ronald Dworkin (RIP), everything on this list of 15 essays by female writers that everyone should read; and, the Nation article on Elaine Scarry (who I haven't read since my "Anthro of Political Violence" class in college, but remember liking).

We braved the horrendus weather and went to the ICA about a week ago to see this exhibit (This Will Have Been: Art, Love &  Politics in the 1980s) - good stuff.

I support this! Massachusetts - Radio ON! "Please call your rep now and ask her or him to call Rep. Marty Walsh's office to sign on to co-sponsor HD3506: An Act designating the song “Roadrunner” as the official rock song of the Commonwealth."

We ran the Hyannis Half Marathon yesterday - cold, wet, and full of coughing! But, still, it felt incredible to run 13.1 again, and, of course, sent me signing up for more races as soon as I got home...

"I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions--poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed--which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished. It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity." - Howard Zinn

2.13.2013

Watch/listen. Get sad, get angry, get active: The Truth About Angry Feminists: "We're not angry because we're feminists. We're feminists because we are sick and tired and so very frustrated that we have to repeatedly defend our desire for equal rights. Listen to this speech by Jessica Valenti and just try not to get a little bit angry too. At 1:56 find out the annoying question every feminist gets asked, at 7:00 things get emotional in a good way, and at 7:44 you don't want to miss it when she basically "drops the mic" and answers that annoying question with an even better one."

Are you involved in non-profit fundraising? Check out my awesome friend Nikki's new blog, Collaboraisers.

Image: source.

Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community by Kenneth T MacLeish: "Making War at Fort Hood offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it. Kenneth MacLeish conducted a year of intensive fieldwork among soldiers and their families at and around the US Army's Fort Hood in central Texas. He shows how war's reach extends far beyond the battlefield into military communities where violence is as routine, boring, and normal as it is shocking and traumatic. "Making War at Fort Hood" is the first ethnography to examine the everyday lives of the soldiers, families, and communities who personally bear the burden of America's most recent wars."

Reading: the article The Perverse Logic of Immigration Detention: Unraveling the Rationality of Imprisoning Immigrants Based on Markers of Race and Class Otherness by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

Thank goodness I'm getting back into CrossFit just in time to be sucked in by all the awesome Open/Games videos...

Why Are Conservatives Trying to Destroy the Voting Rights Act?

A Reader's War, by Teju Cole: "Assassinations should never have happened in our name. But now we see that they endanger us physically, endanger our democracy, and endanger our Constitution. I believe that when President Obama personally selects the next name to add to his “kill list,” he does it in the belief that he is protecting the country. I trust that he makes the selections with great seriousness, bringing his rich sense of history, literature, and the lives of others to bear on his decisions. And yet we have been drawn into a war without end, and into cruelties that persist in the psychic atmosphere like ritual pollution."

I don't love all the Notes from the Universe emails, but sometimes they hit home: "For every unexpected bump, turn, or squiggle on the path of life . . . you pretty much have two choices: Accept it as if you yourself had meticulously planned it and as if you're being watched by 10,000 cheering angels who love you so much, you're pretty much all they ever sing about. Or, accept it, kicking and screaming, as if it were some freak accident or random mistake that had befallen you by chance. I know which I would choose."

2.07.2013

From the NYRB, Wes Anderson’s Worlds by Michael Chabon

Difficult article to read, difficult topic(s) to discuss, but worth considering. The Science of Sex Abuse: Is it right to imprison people for heinous crimes they have not yet committed?

This looks like a powerful documentary about the incredibly violent homophobia rampant in Jamaica. I'm working on an asylum claim for a young gay Jamaican man right now, and I've been shocked by the news and human rights reports. Please support the film-makers efforts if possible.

Image: source.

Delia*s! Is there any thing more 90's?? I can still remember the dog-eared and highlighted pages of the catalogues - and placing orders over the phone or, gasp, by mail!

Recently added to the "to read" list: All This Talk of Love by Christopher Castellani. I went to a reading from this book (the author is a friend of a friend) and it was just wonderful. I left thinking about the story, and wondering what was going to happen with all the characters. Looking forward to reading it.

I just finished reading If I Never See You Again by Niamh O'Connor, an Irish mystery author. While it was not the most skillfully written book, by the end I was surprised to see that I was actually pretty curious to find out "whodunnit" and also even a bit emotionally involved in the private life of the protagonist. I have the sequel on loan from a friend, and I look forward to hopefully reading it over this upcoming snowy weekend.

From a sermon given by the Rev. Pam Shepherd at my "home church" in Ashland last week: "Fear not. Fear not. I want this sermon to give you courage to live the life God calls you to. It’s because I have come to love you so much, I don’t want you to miss it. You see, I know, from my own life, that when we listen for God’s still, small voice, and at least try to follow God’s strange call, we are given a life so much larger and more alive than the life we would choose on our own.

Fear Not. Keep listening. And ask for God’s help. Not for God to further your plans, but that you might enter God’s plans. And then trust you will be given the life God calls you to. Here’s the simplest way I know to live God’s hope for you. Just ask for it. Just say your prayers, and then get dressed and show up for your life, just as it is now. And assume that whatever happens next is God’s good will for you."

1.31.2013

Maureen Corrigan celebrates Jane Austen's 'Pride And Prejudice' At 200

Two good articles on "rape culture," gender, masculinity, and empathy - from Ms: Thinking About the Steubenville Rape and Raising a Son, from Feministing: Gender and empathy: Men shouldn’t need to “imagine if it were your wife/ daughter/mother”

Image: “Standing Tall Amid the Glares” by Paul Schutzer: "Lewis Cousins, age 15, the only African American student in the newly desegregated Maury High School, standing alone. 1959, Norfolk, VA."

Stream the new Frightened Rabbit "Pedestrian Verse" here (thanks, honey!)

Forty Years Of Prison Work Detail, Through The Lens Of Paul Kwilecki

I thought this was really interesting - the chance to get away from the feeling that if you're feeling anxiety or sadness it means something is "wrong," or the idea that the ideal life is one free from discomfort: Stop Chasing Happiness (and a Better Moment) and Discover Lasting Contentment Right Now

After more than 3 months off, I started CrossFit again this week. It was hard to go back, because I knew I was going to face being a lot weaker than I had been last time I stepped into a box, but it feels amazing to be back lifting heavy and pushing myself. Only two classes in and I feel more "me." Stronger, more energetic, and more proud of myself. It's super expensive here in Boston compared with back in Oregon, and I miss my home gym (RVCF!) so much, but I'm realizing this is what I need to do to get back where I want to be, physically and mentally.

"I loathe the expression 'What makes him tick.' It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solutions, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm." - James Thurber