Absolute gorgeousness: Sufjan Stevens - "A Little Lost"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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