September 13, 2019

I’m just not feeling it this week, sorry friends. Here’s 5 small silly things, thanks for stickin’ with me.

  1. Hubble’s New Portrait of Jupiter, NASA. Isn’t it wild that we can see clear photographs of planets across the solar system? That doesn’t really get old.
  2. Questions people asked librarians before the internet, Minnesota Public Radio. “What percentage of all bathtubs in the world are in the U.S.? (1/27/1944).” See more of the question cards at this hashtag: #letmelibrarianthatforyou.
  3. Cute video, Twitter: Little toddler taking steps on his forearm crutches while his dog watches. “I’m walking, Maggie!”
  4. Brazen and the Beast, Sarah MacLean. You might not be a romance reader (HISTORICAL romance on top of that, with all those cravats and chemises), and I respect that. This book was one of the sweeter ones for me. Maybe I’m especially partial to it because the main character is explicitly described as being curvy/chubby, and so reading her love interest be all into that made it a positive read.
  5. My Dogs’ Wedding, JennaMarbles. I’ve been watching a lot of JennaMarbles’ dog videos this week since I’ve found myself at home in bed more than usual. They’re surreal and tender and I find them supremely comforting.

September 6, 2019

bradley-P_jgRnJIl4A-unsplash

Photo credit: bradley

Remember when Justin Bieber had conjunctivitis*? No? Well you must have been spending 2017 more productively than me. Also, that was an elegant segue into telling you that I have an ear infection! Poor me. Symptoms of an ear infection (in children) include: trouble sleeping, crying more than usual, and fussiness. Check, check, and CHECK. This is a pretty advice-heavy week because your girl likes advice columns (snooping into people’s personal lives + practical wisdom = what more could you want?).

*Don’t worry, there’s nothing gross at that link.

  1. Voting for the Woman Candidate Because She’s a Woman, Time. “In their book Gendered Vulnerability: How Women Work Harder to Stay in Office, political scientists Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt found that women in Congress are generally more effective than their male colleagues. They point to the fact that Congresswomen tend to have more staff in their district offices, serve on committees for issues that are of most interest to their constituents and are more likely to co-sponsor legislation that helps their voters. Separate research shows that female lawmakers bring more federal money back to their districts.” It’s kind of like those findings that you have better chances with a female ER doctor. Interesting and maybe not surprising to many readers!
  2. I Thought My Writing Career Was Over. A DIY Furniture Project Saved It, Bustle. Oh this is a beautiful essay about creative blocks, DIY projects, and the wisdom of our ancestors. This part made me tear up: “There are so many questions that I wish I could ask my father as an adult. Wandering through the aisles of that hardware store and feeling incredibly lost and out of place, I wished he was there to answer them: Why are there so many different kinds of nails? What am I doing with my life? How do you choose the right paint? Do I need a stud finder? Do you know that you have twin granddaughters? Do you know that one of them looks just like you? I worried that without him there to answer my questions, I would never be able to provide my characters with their own backstory, the knowledge of who they were.” On a casually unrelated note, I love you Daddy.
  3. You Can Do This (Really) – Advice for New Graduate Students, Librarian Shipwreck. Here’s some great advice for the back to school folks, especially those in grad programs (thinking of you all this time of year!). But this advice is wise for anyone, about how to turn comparison and jealousy into motivation: “it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been told not to compare yourself to others, you’re probably going to do it anyways. So do it right. Keep an eye on what your fellow graduate students are doing as a way of figuring out what things you should probably be doing. That someone in your cohort has recently published a book review in a journal should not fill you with envy, but it should make you think that maybe you want to try doing something similar. That a member of your department is running from city to city to present papers at conferences, should make you look into what conferences you might want to present at. That someone in your cohort has just won a prestigious grant, should remind you that you can and probably should be applying to those things as well. Yes, you might feel some pangs of envy, and yes, sometimes your fellow graduate students will be infuriating braggarts (if one of them is really like this, you might want to select them as your nemesis), but being aware of what your fellow graduate students are doing can help orient you to the types of things you should be doing.”
  4. #1223: Feminist Wedding Etiquette Help, Captain Awkward. Honestly my mom could have written this advice (especially the fait accompli strategy, which is a perfect word for a perfect concept)! Even if the people in your circle are all supportive and reasonable, you can too-many-cooks yourself into wedding indecision so easily. “We did, basically, NOTHING that my mom envisioned a wedding would be like (a year before the thing she was pre-apologizing to relatives for how “rustic” it was going to be, cried on Mother’s Day because “all her children” had chosen non-Catholic weddings and did that mean she was a bad mom, worried that nobody would come if it wasn’t going to be “like a real wedding”) but on the actual day she came up to me right after and said, “It was a beautiful ceremony and the two of you are peas in a pod, I can see that.” She could see that I am surrounded by friends, she could see that people were relaxed and happy and having fun, she could see that I am loved, and that was enough. For some families that will never be enough, and there’s no wedding or script that could ever fix that and I worried that that was going to be us because some of the discussions got pretty rocky for a while. But here’s what was really going on: During the planning stages she couldn’t imagine it, she could only compare it to what was missing from the picture in her mind about what it should be. She was worried about looking silly in front of other people. On the actual day, I was happy, guests were happy, everybody had enough to eat, the weather was great, we were all happy to see each other, and she could finally see what we’d had in mind. What I learned that I’d really like to pass on to you: The less I explained and justified it and the more I just did it, the better it all went.” Also this piece ends with some seriously adorable wedding anecdotes like this one: “A friend’s dad is a composer, he wrote all the music that played at her wedding ceremony. It was incredibly beautiful music and also incredibly hilarious because the entrance music had a vibe of “Oh hey, the groom, that’s pretty good” for the first part and “THE BRIDE, MY INCREDIBLE DAUGHTER, IS COMING, I REPEAT, THE BRIDE IS COMING, BEHOLD THE BRIDE” for her entrance.”
  5. Here’s the Thing: You Aren’t As Stuck as You Think, Sophie Benoit. This is an advice column I’m subscribed to as a newsletter, and I really appreciated this advice: “You need to give yourself chances to feel in control. I’m 100% sure that this is much easier (and cheaper) said than done, so don’t feel like this is supposed to come naturally to you. Like all of a sudden every weekend will be— or should be— packed with FUN. Fun isn’t the point, in fact. It’s The Point Adjacent. But the point is discovery. It’s looking for things to keep you fulfilled while you work toward going to a new city and a new job. Because if you don’t do some of this work to figure out what you like, what is fulfilling outside of a job—jobs are not sufficient for fulfillment!!!—before you move cities or change jobs, you will end up in the exact same spot you are now. The weirdest part of life is that wherever you go, there you are. You can’t get away from yourself (this is part of why I take so many naps; I’m exhausting to be around).” This advice is in response to someone who feels stuck in a job they hate and don’t know what they want to do next, and I really like that part of the recommendation is to explore what you do like, and reconnect with your passions, hobbies, and connections outside of work. I think that’s so healthy and a great inspiration for the fall: try new things!

August 31, 2019

MayDay

While trying to decide a good Labor Day image for the blog, I was torn between these two, so I’m throwing them both in! The first because it’s iconic, and the second because it highlights how many rights and protections were not always in place for workers. And while we aren’t where we should be in terms of firm anti-discrimination and anti-harrassment protections, these posters make me appreciate how far we’ve come (thanks to labor movements!). Anyway have a great Labor Day weekend!

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  1. The Radical Kindness of Teenage Girls, Quartzy. There are a few quotes that resonated with me in this loving piece. “You have never seen such an outpouring of love and thoughtfulness. They are effusive in their praise of one another, but also specific. They build each other up, day in and day out. They seem to know how much the rest of the world will try to tear them down.” And later: “there is a safe space in which we can experience the emotions her music fires up in us—anger, rebellion, sorrow, delight—without judgment, without fear of what the outside world would do if we let our guard down. A place where earnestness won’t be mocked.”
  2. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. This was a cool slice-of-life queer space soap opera. I would recommend it if you like the “found family” trope, the extended thought experiment of “what if humans and other space species had to learn to coexist,” or if you like your cozy stories with a side of technobabble. There were parts that were clunky and parts where the exposition was too much for me and I’d skim till I found more dialogue, but by the end all the characters had won me over. If you ever read “slow burn” fanfiction or spent a lot of time on Tumblr back in the day, you might know the vibe I’m trying to describe. And if this sounds like anyone’s cup of tea, please read it so we can talk about it together!
  3. Learning Why, Not How, Inside Higher Ed. “[Students] don’t connect composing citations with academic values: having an open mind, respecting evidence even if it doesn’t support your hypothesis, making sure readers know how you arrive at your conclusion, and honoring expertise. None of that is made obvious from the act of citing sources.” I like how this piece breaks down the problems with over-emphasis on academic citations. Citing your sources according to a specific style, like MLA or APA, is important in school but it’s only one way to give credit where it’s due. At my community college, we emphasize the giving-credit part over the commas-and-italics part, since showing your work and honoring the voices before you will be important no matter what you do after school. The author also talks about those “moments of curiosity turn into questions and how research is not about finding sources, it’s about finding out,” and that is EXACTLY what I am trying to teach students every day!
  4. A Plagiarism Scandal Shakes Up the True-Crime Podcast World, Vulture. Here is exactly why students need to learn why we cite (also how) — a real life example that is not going to be good for these women’s reputations or careers. It’s not the first time that plagiarism has been an issue on podcasts, but as a new type of media explodes and more amateurs get into it, I see this as a cautionary tale.  I think a lot of “content creators” cut corners on attribution in part because they’re amateurs, and because they think admitting that they used sources will make them look bad. Nothing wrong with getting your information (your “content”) from other sources. No one expects you to already know all the details about a crime or a historic event you’re reporting on. You just need to tell us where you got it!
  5. Can You Guess These Classic Novels From Their Library of Congress Subject Categories? Lit Hub. Cute library nerd stuff. Kinda funny how many classic novels have “psychological fiction” as a subject heading. Highlight the text under each entry to see the answer! These were pretty tough; I got 24/70. I think David would know this one: “Hotelkeepers–Fiction. Families–Fiction. Occult fiction. Horror tales.”

August 23, 2019

6

Hi guys! My reads are gonna start grim and end with something very silly. Not much to report from me this week, but it’s back-to-school season and as usual I’m thinking of You’ve Got Mail, New York in the fall, and someone sending me a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils.

  1. No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear, Toni Morrison for The Nation. “One wonders why the label “weak” has become the ultimate and unforgivable sin. Is it because we have become a nation so frightened of others, itself and its citizens that it does not recognize true weakness: the cowardice in the insistence on guns everywhere, war anywhere? How adult, how manly is it to shoot abortion doctors, schoolchildren, pedestrians, fleeing black teenagers? How strong, how powerful is the feeling of having a murderous weapon in the pocket, on the hip, in the glove compartment of your car? How leaderly is it to threaten war in foreign affairs simply out of habit, manufactured fear or national ego? And how pitiful?” I have only read essays by Toni Morrison (so far), but her voice is so powerful. Her writing makes me want to do good. I shared this breathtaking quote from the same essay on Facebook last week and I want to share it here too: “I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”
  2. #1222: “Love my family, hate my mean red-pilling brother who is always around,” Captain Awkward. “The world is full of entitled, hateful young men who desperately need someone to set them straight, just, I don’t think the primary targets of their abuse are the ones who have to do that work, they aren’t the best placed to do that work, nor is it on them to do that work. It’s on the people in their lives who can still reach them, the ones they might still listen to, the ones whose good opinion they might still care about, the ones who like and love them and who aren’t being targeted by them who can still safely say, look, put that gross shit down and come back to us, you’re always welcome here, but your hate can’t come along.” I love Captain Awkward. Related, I saw this excellent Twitter thread by Joanna Schroeder a few weeks ago about talking to your white teenage sons (or white teenage boys in your life) about their online behavior and their increasing identification with white supremacy. I liked her advice (emphasis mine): “Look through his Instagram Explore screen with him. Explain what’s underlying those memes. Explain why “triggered” isn’t a joke, what a PTSD trigger is actually like. Evoke empathy without shaming him. Remind him you know he’s a good person, but explain how propaganda works.”
  3. From Baba Yaga to Hermione Granger: Why We’re Spellbound by ‘Witcherature,’ the Guardian. I almost wrote my undergrad thesis on villainous women, particularly witches. Kinda wish I had, among the many regrets I have about college (there’s a source quoted in this piece who is a professor of MAGICAL LITERATURES. What am I even DOING here??).“The women of my generation were girls [in the era of witchy 90s TV], and now we have come of age, and are shaping our own narratives, joining other female writers in grappling with perennial questions of power and agency.” I think as viewers and readers, women are drawn to stories of witches or magic because we are feeling so helpless in this present moment. At leas that’s part of it for me. My most fertile daydreams are about the power I could have in a fantasy world, and the good I might do with it, the justice I might unleash if my voice was loud enough to be heard. Some of the witchy literature I’ve read is genuinely creepy or pushes beyond my comfort zone, but it’s very interesting to me!
  4. Accessible Design in 2019 & Beyond, Design*Sponge. “It’s hard to imagine a future where people will actually design their homes with accessibility in mind, but that’s my dream. There is not one family member of ours who thought about making their home accessible for our daughter – their niece, granddaughter, cousin, etc. – when making design choices for their home. I’m not mad at or blaming them because I don’t think I would have either. It doesn’t feel like a “thing” yet. We’re not there. I’m hoping in the future it feels like a “thing” not just to make sure their home is accessible for all people, but also as an investment in themselves. If a person wants to have their “forever home” it makes sense to make it accessible for themselves down the road, or to at least have a plan in place to transition it down the road.” Design*Sponge is closing up after this month and I’m going to miss them, because they’re a really thoughtful design magazine and take the time to talk about representation, accessibility and universal design! This piece introduced me to some cool resources and also made me realize that my current home is in no way wheelchair accessible. Which isn’t really in my control as a renter, but accessibility for my friends and maybe me in the future is something I am going to be thinking about in our next place.
  5. You (And Your Beagle) Can Spend the Night in This Beagle-Shaped House, Mental Floss. There are two enormous beagle structures on this B&B in Idaho. Their names are Toby and Sweet Willy, and I highly recommend you take a look.

Bonus features:

August 16, 2019

I’m prepping this post early because I’m taking off Thursday and Friday to can tomatoes with my mom! I’m so excited. It’s gonna be so messy!

(Also please note: A couple of my reads this week are about the recent incidents of domestic terrorism, just a heads-up.)

  1. Family Meal Planning for Real Life, NYT. Meal planning during the week is something I struggle with. It’s very easy for me to fall into a rut of essentially the same food, or to fall back onto my fainting couch and insist we must get takeout because my nerves couldn’t possibly take it. David does most of our cooking, really. But it’s the thinking about what to eat, what groceries we need on hand, that gives me the vapors, I guess. Anyway, there’s good advice and a tasty looking meatball recipe in here.
  2. Ask Polly: My In-Laws Are Careless About My Food Allergy! “Every now and then, a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths. Maybe one person in the group completely and permanently lost their doughnuts several decades prior, and slowly, each member of the group learns that playing along with this singular menace is the only way to survive. Eventually, the members of the group are so utterly confused and gaslit by each other that they enforce the will of the group and nod along with bizarre opinions until they can’t even remember what it means to think logically or have free will or behave like other regular human beings on the face of the planet.” This letter to an advice columnist (Ask Polly) is WILD, and makes me glad I have great in-laws.
  3. More Than Friends, Gay Mag. Ah, this is a gorgeous essay about more-than-friends and almost-lovers. I’ve felt what she writes about, and I love this piece. “Can you have a break-up if you never have a real date? When the engineer started to pull away, he stopped inviting me over and asked me, instead, to meet him in public places. He declined invitations for movie night at my house. It was easy to understand what was happening, even if the vocabulary didn’t exist for us to talk openly about it.”
  4. A Lynch Mob of One, The Atlantic. “Today, no white-supremacist organization is needed for a ready-made lynch mob. No false rumor is needed. There is no need to assemble a large group of coordinated white supremacists. Any young white male can become enraged listening to Trump’s racist ideas, or reading the racist messages on 8chan. Any young white male can become the raging lynch mob, the next Crusius. All that’s needed is an assault rifle, and the assault rifle of racist ideas—two weapons of war manufactured, offered for sale, and bought legally and easily in the United States of America …Being racist suspended him from reality, and he ended up targeting his own livelihood in targeting Latino immigrants. Being antiracist brings Americans back to reality.” This is a letter to the editor and I found it a compelling way to contextualize these incidents of terror within our history. It’s a careful compare and contrast, with plenty of sources to point out how much easier it is for racists to become radicalized online, access deadly weapons legally, and devastate a community. Also, I did not know that Woodrow Wilson was a vocal supporter of the Ku Klux Klan (that’s on me and my memory of history, because it is a defining part of him as a person). I recommend this read even though it’s hard, because it connected some dots for me.
  5. What an American Terrorist Looks Like, Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz for Yes Magazine. The data here really put things into perspective for me. Did you know that in 2018, 98% of extremist-related killings in the US came from the radical right? The numbers and trends in this infographic article are chilling but also clarifying. The connection between mass shooters and domestic violence, for example, is stronger (54%) than the connection between the shooters and mental illness (25%). This isn’t the fun stuff that I like to share, but I think it’s important that we focus on facts in a conversation that is incredibly emotional and divided.